Author's Note: Sometimes, when you're outlining a big multichapter fic, a fluff bunny comes along and superglues itself to your ankles. Thanks to the rather fantastic TheRimmerConnection on FFdotNet for the beta!
The eighth shot of Wudjish tekere burned all the way down, but the Doctor's hands were very carefully steady as he set the glass on the little table, where it sparkled ominously in the firelight.
Across the game board, Rose smirked. "All right there, Doctor?" So, not fooled in the least then. Good. At least she still had her full faculties about her. Well, someone here should, anyway.
He glared at her, not swaying in his seat even a little. "Considering my move, thank you," he replied. A tiny line appeared between his brows as he surveyed the board, his vast brain sluggishly analyzing potential moves and combinations amidst the fog of not-quite-alcohol. Damn it all, he should never have taught her this game. The chess set had been in the library for years, just gathering dust, and one day she'd mentioned aloud that she didn't know how to play, and he'd offered, and then...
Well, he'd got himself into this mess, as usual. If only the little knight would sit still long enough to let him catch it...
"Careful!" Rose caught his hand before it could drift any more off-course and into the precariously placed shot glass. "You sure you don't want to forfeit?"
"No." He snatched his hand back like an offended toddler, quite put-out by her knowing smirk. It was a fetching smirk, with a tiny peek of pink tongue in the corner, but it was right out of order if either it or the glowing girl it belonged to thought he would capitulate that easily. His knight took one of her pawns, continued on its inexorable advance towards the other side of the board.
You need a handicap, my foot, he thought as she plottedher next fiendish foray into the field. Just because there was no conceivable way she could ever, ever defeat his brilliant Time Lord brain in a game of strategy, that was no reason for her to suggest he take a shot of incredibly strong Wudjish liquor every fifth move. To level the playing field, she'd said. To which he'd replied, with their usual background level of flirtium radiation (it was too a real element, he was a Time Lord and he said so) "Trying to get me drunk, are you Miss Tyler?" And, of course, since there was very little he could ever refuse her, a silly game was hers for the asking; even if it was becoming, at an alarmingly quick rate, a very, very silly game indeed.
He had bypassed the "tie around the forehead" stage quite some time back, and it had instead gone flying onto his armchair, along with his jacket and waistcoat. Honestly, he shouldn't have had the TARDIS build up that fire. It was all well and good for the ambience, but it was getting really almost too warm in here.
He kept feeling like his glasses were askew, too, but every time he tried to right them she giggled. They weren't helping him be very brainy, either. Which was not right, because they were supposed to be his brainy specs.
His head snapped up, hair flopping forward onto his brow in his sudden alertness. His eyes were perhaps a touch wider than they ought to be, but Rose was smiling her fond smile, so he couldn't look as wild as he thought he must.
"It's your move?" she reminded him gently.
Oh. Hum. He seemed to have missed her move. He scanned the board, but couldn't seem to remember the previous configuration of the pieces. Did he still have the same number? She hadn't captured any of his while he'd been too drunk to notice, had she? That would just be unfair. "Rose..." he looked up at her with his eyes huge and pleading and his hair in mad disarray, trying to coax her pity without having to ask outright what she'd just done.
"Oh, no Doctor," she laughed, leaning back in her chair. The firelight did interesting things to the shadowed hollow of her throat, and he had a strange urge to place his fingertip just there. "Those are the rules! You missed it, you deal with it."
He didn't pout. He considered it, but he didn't pout. "I didn't miss anything," he lied through his teeth. And then, because it had been in his plan and he needed to prove that he was completely compos mentis, slid his bishop six squares to the northeast and captured her rook. Which, provided that she went for the bait of his bishop on the next move, would slip her queen directly into the trap laid by his knight, and between one thing and another, he should be able to call checkmate in about six to seven moves. He was pleased with himself.
"I think that's...check? And possibly mate?"
The Doctor goggled--there was no other word for it--goggled at his companion. His king was neatly tucked into a corner, with her queen absolutely menacing him. She'd eschewed his perfectly good bishop, going instead for his king, and somehow he hadn't seen it coming. The Doctor pulled off his specs, peered at them, quite certain they were behind this, but couldn't find a fault. No sudden opacity of the lenses, distortion, or abrupt malevolent sentience. Which could happen, really, only to him. He'd had stranger enemies than his own glasses before.
He whirled through the possibilities, trying to find an escape route, but every mental path he plotted came to the same thing. There was no way out for his poor, doomed king. He squinted at her, then down at the board, then back up at Rose, who looked less triumphant than vaguely worried. He was still trying to work out how the hell she'd managed that one. In an effort to get a better view, he stood, leaned over the table, and tried to look at the board from her angle, which required some significant contortion of his neck and spine.
It would have worked, too, if he hadn't had eight shots of tekere.
Rose yelped before he even realized that his legs weren't anywhere near steady enough for his position, and the chess pieces seemed to clatter on the floor before the table had started to fall. It was all a bit cloudy after that. He recalled a sharp bang as the table hit the floor off to one side, a rubbery bounce - he knew those unbreakable shot glasses had been a good idea! – and his palms sliding off to the sides, completely failing to break his fall.
If Rose hadn't broken it for him instead, he'd probably have smashed his nose.
Rose gasped for breath as a surprisingly heavy Time Lord landed gracelessly atop her, knocking the wind out of her with his head. "You okay?" she wheezed, trying to crane her neck to check his face. No answer. Had he passed out? "Doctor?" she asked, a little more anxiously.
"Hmm?" The Doctor was occupied with more pressing matters, like scooting up a few inches to pillow his head between Rose's soft breasts, blanketing the rest of her with his body.
At this encouraging sign of life, Rose poked him in the shoulder. "Doctor, everything all right?" Maybe she shouldn't have made him drink so much. Not that he'd protested or anything, but he was really gone.
"Mmmmhmmm. You beat me at chess. That hasn't happened in a long long long long long long long time." He might reflect on how astonishing that was. Later. Right now he was too comfortable for righteous indignation. Rose's body warmth was much nicer than the fire's oppressive heat.
"Well, you beat me at the first couple of games." She laughed a little, burying her hands in his thick, soft hair and massaging in just the right way. "Wasn't until that fifth or sixth shot that it really started hitting you, I think. And, um, not to complain, but I think I'm laying on a chess piece here."
Rose squeaked as his hand delved ticklishly under her back, fishing around until it came up with a shiny ebony piece between the fingers. "So there was," he observed, and went back to cuddling with her anatomy.
Rose sighed, her fingers still moving gently in his hair. "Do Time Lords get hangovers?"
"Hummm." His relative morning was going to be significantly unpleasant, as a matter of fact, but she didn't need to know that. And frankly, he'd had worse mornings for less enjoyable reasons than playing with his best mate and getting in a drunken cuddle, so he wasn't too worried about it. There was just no reason for her to have to know how much his head was going to ache in a few hours.
"That wasn't an answer." But she let it go. A moment later, there was a soft swish of fabric on leather upholstery and something a lot like his suit jacket was being settled over his shoulders. Her fingers had slipped down onto the back of his neck, vulnerable and sensitive, and if he hadn't been so suddenly sleepy he thought he might have nuzzled with a bit more purpose into her breasts.
"Rose?" he asked, surprising even himself by still being awake.