Written for the Storm and Wolf ficathon over on Live Journal. My prompt was Prompt 13: Rassilon's Treatise of Talismans. I could NOT resist...
Rassilon's Treatise of Talismans
Rose's Shopping Trip and What Became of What She Found There
Rose found it in an extremely cluttered used book shop on Gyseppi Enoya, where they were scheduled to spend several days. It was pretty, she supposed, in a book sort of way, but no prettier than any of the other leather-bound, brightly displayed novels around it. The color of the book wasn't particularly interesting, nor were there beautiful pictures on the cover designed to catch the eye and inspire the imagination. It was just a small, decorative pattern of silver leaves against a dark scarlet background. All in all, it was quite ordinary as books went, so Rose had to study it for a long moment before she realized why this book, in particular, leapt out at her from all the books she could see stacked on every available surface in the shop.
It came to her in a flash and she decided that she wasn't getting stupid, just getting used to it. The ornate geometric circles on the cover were utterly familiar to her, being that they could be found all over the TARDIS, and the TARDIS was her home. Highly stylized and one of them even resembling some kind of royal seal, Rose had probably seen every last one of them before.
They were the Doctor's nearly lost language. Against all odds and as impossible as it seemed, this book absolutely had to be from the Doctor's destroyed home planet. Rose snatched it up like a miracle and cuddled it to her breast like a lost child. Not even bothering to open it, she carried her precious find to the desk. Forget the trashy romances she'd come to browse through, this was a million million times more important. Prepared to barter everything short of her immortal soul, Rose went to the shop keeper to try to strike a bargain.
When she reached the TARDIS, Rose was ecstatic. She was also missing her trainers, her hair clips, and two hours of her life that she could never get back. However, between all those things (the last spent working the till in the bookshop while the assistants ran off together into the back room), Rose had gotten the book and even had it gift-wrapped. She doubted the Doctor had even noticed she'd been gone.
They'd been here for three days now while the Doctor tinkered endlessly with something that had been playing him up and that this planet was ideal to test. Rose had gone out on her own every day, but with the insistence that she take her mobile and some psychic paper. Just because he wouldn't notice if she was lost didn't mean he didn't want to be able to find her.
"What happened to you?" the Doctor demanded and apparently he not only noticed she'd been out, he'd also noticed her... um. New look. His blue eyes whipped over her body, probably inspecting for dirt or injuries. He looked ready to sweep her up and drag her off to the med bay.
"It's not what it looks like," Rose explained. "I had to trade for some books."
"But your shoes?" the Doctor insisted.
"She wanted my earrings," Rose shot back. "I wasn't giving her them, so it was my trainers and hairclips instead."
The Doctor frowned thoughtfully and Rose told herself not to pay attention to the fact that that expression set bits of her tingling for no readily apparent reason. She was just overly sensitive to his moods, that was all. Plus, she'd done this for him and he didn't need to be all grumpy about it before he knew.
"Did you really need a pan-galactic Mills and Boone novel that much?" The Doctor huffed and tsked and turned back to playing with the console. "Gave you money, I thought. You already spend it?"
"Was a bit more important," Rose assured him. "An' I coulda used your card for Mills and Boone, wouldn'ta felt the slightest bit guilty."
"What'd you buy?" the Doctor wanted to know, and there was an absolutely evil little grin on his face when he turned from the console to look at her. "Was it something terribly inappropriate that you think I'll lecture you about?"
"What could you lecture me about?" Rose asked, cheerfully. "Been through your library, remember. You got everything in there from medical books in the recipe section to The Anarchists How-To to Chinese Water Torture for Dummies. No way you'd ever get the right to lecture me on what's s'posed to be in a book or not."
"There's nothin' wrong with havin' informative texts around in case you need 'em," the Doctor said cheerfully.
"You likely to... never mind, I was about to ask if you were likely to blow something up, and that's like 'are you likely to land us right in the middle of a disaster' or 'are you likely to walk into my room when I'm half-naked', I mean..."
"I've never done that!" the Doctor interrupted, and his eyes absolutely danced. "I'm sure I'd remember," he added, looking her over in a quick but suggestively flirtatious way that had Rose wanting to giggle like a teenager.
Instead, she resorted to her usual: counter-flirt and up the ante. "Bad timing, Doctor? From you?" She leaned forward just a bit to see whether he would jump away or maybe lean closer. They walked such a very fine line, the two of them, after all. "You'll have to try -" deep breath, arch the spine just a little - "harder." She glanced quickly downward, trying to look like she was pretending nonchalance. Surely he knew what her gaze was meant to be flitting past.
The Doctor chuckled wickedly, leaning back against the console, apparently to make sure she had a complete and thorough view of what she was trying to steal peeks at. "Did I hear an invitation there?" he murmured.
Rose squeaked and realized she'd definitely lost this round. "Tea in the library?" she offered. "I'll change and make it while you get cleaned up."
The Doctor smirked for a second with triumph, but then he seemed to consider what she said because he looked over his clothes with consternation. "I'll change me jumper," he offered hesitantly.
Rose beamed. "Well, it's not like our teas are black tie, anyway. I was more thinking of the black streak on your nose."
Snickering, she left the Doctor in the console room, trying to cross his eyes well enough to see the end of his aquiline nose. Rose supposed the TARDIS would give him a mirror eventually... and then he might notice the oil spray freckles, too.
They had tea and talked for awhile about subjects much safer than their flirting habits, which were decidedly bad. They talked small and simple instead, discussing the tests the Doctor had been running, the next place they would go when he was satisfied with the results, even why the tests had to be done here (something about a stable rift of some sort).
Rose gradually slid the little brown paper parcel out where she could pick it up again and toy with it, passing it nervously around in her hands while the Doctor dawdled over his shortbread biscuits. "I found something in that bookshop, and I wanted to get it for you." She stood and held the package behind her back. "I don't know what it is - except that it's a book, of course. I can't read it, but I know you can." Holding it out nervously in one hand, she watched the Doctor blink at the package as if it was bright pink and dancing the macarena.
The Doctor accepted the small parcel with his head tilted away and his eyes overly bright. With a reverent hand, he simply stroked the wrapped gift for a moment, his expression made inscrutable to Rose by a bowed head.
Sitting down again next to him, Rose folded herself up against his side. "Aren't you gonna open it?" she asked. She'd meant to tease, to bring him out of the mood he seemed to be drifting into. Her voice had come out soft and worried and childlike instead.
The Doctor sniffed and then nodded, jerking his head up to give her his brightest grin. "Been awhile since I had a present," he said with forced cheer. "Was tryin' to remember what to say."
"You open it," Rose instructed. "Then you say, 'Thank you, Rose'. If you hate it, you still lie an' tell me it's nice, 'cuz I tried really hard, and it'll be the thought that counts."
The grin widened. "All right, I'll give it a go. But we'll still have to find you good trainers - may come in handy in a crisis, them."
"I'm sure you'll like this better'n my shoes."
The Doctor gently slipped a finger under the flap of the parcel and began prying up the tape at the top. Rose told herself it was nervous anticipation that had her staring; she was not admiring his hands at all.
"Open it," she pleaded with scarcely veiled excitement. "It's a book, not Pandora's Box."
The Doctor chuckled. "You never know," he said and finally tore the paper off the top half of the book. His gaze dropped to the title embossed delicately on the richly colored cover. His thumb smoothed over the silver leaf and he gasped.
For a split second, Rose thought he was pleasantly surprised. His eyes seemed to shine right before he turned them away from her. Then, he started to shake, his head bent over the book in his lap, his eyes closed. Rose was hit with the possibility that she'd somehow found something horrible.
He made a small noise and Rose hoped desperately that she wasn't about to hear the pain she'd caused him. Then, that noise was followed by another, much louder.
Rose's mouth fell open. The Doctor was laughing.
He gave himself up completely to his amusement, his whole body racked by spasms of hilarity. When she tentatively reached to touch him, just to make sure he wasn't hysterical or insane (moreso than usual), he threw his head back, gasping for air, but didn't stop. One hand reached up to dash two small tears from his face, the other wrapping around her shoulders to tug her close to his side.
Rose couldn't decide whether to be scared or to laugh just as hard as he was doing. Confused, she let him bury his face in her shoulder. When she realized that the Last of the Time Lords was giggling on her, she just couldn't wait any longer. "But what is it?"