Why Torchwood Banned Recreational Body-Swapping (1/?)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Series: Talk to the Hand
Characters: Ten-II, Rose Tyler, Donna Noble, Owen Harper
Beta: None, though that would've been a damn good idea, don't you think?
Spoilers: Journey's End, obviously.
Disclaimer: I don't own them, obviously.
Summary: Follows Coming Undone. Body-swapping may sound like fun, but it can have disastrous consequences. Especially when the Doctor and Rose are involved.
A/N: Okay, I know that I said I was going to do the baby!fic next, but I just wasn't in the mood for it. So I'll just save that one for later, and you get this instead.
One - Rose's Best Birthday Ever
The unfamiliar angle of sunlight awakens Rose, who grumbles and attempts to roll over and go back to sleep. Unfortunately, the clingy octopus that is her half-human half-Time Lord boyfriend has her pinned in place, and by the time she wriggles free from his long, flexible limbs, she's wide awake.
She considers poking the Doctor in his ticklish ribs until he wakes up, but decides against it. It's not often that either of them get the opportunity to sleep in, and besides, she likes watching him sleep.
He's lying on his stomach, face half buried in a pillow which displays evidence that he'd been gnawing on it during the night. His hair is sticking out at wild angles, and the night's stubble is dark against his pale skin. Rose rather likes how it looks, though he bitterly complains about humans having to shave every single day.
He's wearing only blue pyjama bottoms, and she gently traces the line of his long back with a fingertip, starting at the charming little mole between his shoulder blades and heading downward. He twitches, but doesn't wake. She loves the feel of his skin; it's as soft as Tony's had been when he was newborn. He's only a little over four months old, after all, and still so very, very new.
Her hand hesitates when she reaches the small of his back, where the skin is still angry red from his most recent experiment with human fashion: a tattoo.
He'd gotten the idea from her mum, during an incident which Rose wishes she could forget. The Doctor had seen Jackie's tattoo and on the ride home from the award ceremony, he'd babbled about the pros and cons of getting one himself, rather than focusing on the momentous discovery that Rose had the uncontrollable ability to disintegrate clothing. Rose had irritably snapped at him that they'd talk about it later, with the intention of talking him out of it.
The Doctor had somehow interpreted that response as, "Oh, Doctor, you'd look so incredibly sexy with a tattoo! Get one tomorrow and surprise me!" Because that was exactly what he'd done. He'd come home late, a smug grin on his face, and when she'd questioned him, the grin had only widened. And then he'd dropped his trousers and proudly shown her what he'd done.
He'd gotten a banana tramp stamp.
Rose hadn't been able to stop herself; she'd laughed until she was in tears. With a wounded dignity worthy of a cat, he'd pulled up his trousers and mumbled about how he liked it, and it wasn't like she had to look at it.
He'd hidden himself in their room the rest of the day, and Rose had felt awful. And the feeling had only gotten worse when she'd finally dared enter the room and found him in the bathroom struggling to apply ointment to the tattoo. When she'd tried to help, he'd shied away before she could touch him.
She'd apologized profusely and taken the ointment away from him. He'd reluctantly permitted her to gently rub it into the irritated skin. He'd finally loosened up enough to arch into her caress, and things had gotten more intense from there.
The tattoo is growing on her; it's rather adorable, and very him. Plus, she applies the ointment several times a day, and she loves having the excuse to touch him so intimately so often.
He finally begins to stir, reacting to her touch. He mumbles incoherently, his mouth as always the first part of him to start functioning. He opens his eyes and smiles crookedly. "Mornin'," he slurs thickly. He blinks slowly, then pushes himself to his hands and knees and stretches like a cat. Rose resists the urge to ruffle his hair.
"Morning," she grins. He sits up and yawns, his sleepy eyes never leaving her face.
"Coffee?" she asks. He gives her a dopey grin and nods. She'd savour the time in bed with him, except that he's not too bright or coordinated before his morning coffee. It usually takes a cup before he acquires sentience.
Besides, after the rather active night they'd had, she could really use a pick-me-up as well. Rose rolls out of bed and heads off to the kitchen. Behind her, she can hear the Doctor slowly slithering free of their sheets and then stumbling off to the loo.
Rose passes through the living room, which still has a few boxes shoved into one corner. She wonders if they'll have time to finally finish unpacking this weekend, or if they'll be too busy. She really hopes it's the latter.
They'd finally done it; they'd moved from the tiny flat Rose had occupied while waiting to find the Doctor's universe, which had been little more than a place for Rose to sleep and store her few possessions. It had been far too small to be a home for an heiress who was finally accepting her place in society and an alien mad scientist who needed space to build things, blow things up, and occasionally get in touch with his feminine side.
So they'd found this place, a spacious three-bedroom, two bath flat that took up half the top floor of the complex. It's expensive, but they make more than enough money to afford it. And it's totally worth it. One bedroom has been set aside for she and the Doctor to use as a lab; one day, it will house the TARDIS once it's old enough to no longer need Torchwood's life support equipment. The other is a combination guest room/sanctuary for the Doctor, where he can go and experiment with clothing and cosmetics to his heart's content.
Rose fixes two coffees and carries them back to the bedroom. Through the bathroom door, she can hear the shower running, and over the sound of the water comes the Doctor's voice. He's singing "I feel pretty" at the top of his lungs, and Rose giggles. And he wonders why people think he's gay, she thinks as she sets his coffee on the nightstand and takes a seat on the bed to wait for him.
After a few minutes, and a chorus of "I enjoy being a girl," he shuts off the shower and comes out, drawn to the scent of coffee. He eyes the steaming mug for a moment, then pounces on it. He takes a few minutes to savour it before attempting coherent conversation. "So," he says. "Morning. Very nice time of day, isn't it? Very…" he frowns, still struggling with getting his brain in gear. He glances over to the sunlight slanting through the windows. "Bright."
Rose giggles. It had been awhile since they'd had a real morning together. Usually, it's still dark when they wake up, and don't have time for more than a quick coffee and shower before they head off to their jobs. Being able to take their time waking up and then enjoy each other's company is a pleasure. And it's just the start to what promises to be a wonderful day, after a rather… vigorous night.
This, Rose thinks, is going to be the best birthday she's ever had. "It's called 'the sun,'" she says. "It rises around this time of day."
"Ah." He nods sagely. He takes another gulp of coffee, finishing it off and setting the mug aside. "Think I remember reading about that somewhere." A sly smile crosses his face. "Soooo… how are you this morning?" He sounds very pleased with himself, and rightfully so; he's in one of his frisky phases, and he'd spent the night making up for the dry spell they'd both barely survived. Plus, he'd proven what a good pupil he was, putting his still-new knowledge and limited experience to effective use. He's definitely getting bolder, and more creative. Rose approves.
"Sore," she admits. The Doctor preens at this proof of his prowess. "Must be from all that running I did at work yesterday," she grins, unable to resist deflating his ego. His face falls. "Don't worry," she says, patting his shoulder. "Most of it is all your fault."
He immediately perks up. "I have some new moves I want to try tonight," he purrs, doing his best to sound seductive and instead sounding like he'd been gargling rocks.
"Oh? And where did you learn these new moves? The internet or Jack? Because I'm not sure I trust anything from either source."
He suddenly seems to find his hands very interesting. "Um… well…" He rubs the back of his neck. "Jack."
Rose suppresses a groan. Jack's knowledge of sex comes from a century with no inhibitions and likely more than a little genetic manipulation to be flexible enough to handle some of the more… interesting moves. The last time they'd tried something Jack suggested - and she's still not sure how that had even come up in conversation - she'd thrown her back out and been laid up for a week.
That one hadn't been fun to explain to her mum and Pete.
"It won't be like last time!" the Doctor says quickly. "Nothing that can't be accomplished by two healthy human-ish beings," he promises. "I made sure of that."
This time, Rose doesn't hide the groan. "You mean, you told Jack I got hurt while having sex and asked for something physically possible for both of us. Which means, you would've had to share what we are capable of. In excruciating detail, knowing you. Probably with diagrams and a PowerPoint presentation." She buries her face in her hands. "I'm happy you have more people to talk to these days, but why, why, why do you have to discuss our sex life?"
His brow furrows. "We discuss it all the time," he says, puzzled.
"With each other," she says, exasperated.
"And women discuss it with friends all the time on the telly," he continues, still sounding genuinely confused.
"You're not - " Rose begins, then gives up. He'll never truly understand the differences between human men and women and how they socialise. "On telly," she finishes, when he continues to stare at her blankly. "And Jack is not an audience who needs to know all the details of our private lives."
He looks crestfallen, and she grabs his shoulder and gently squeezes it. "It's just… he's not our Jack, and I don't feel comfortable with him knowing so much about us. Not yet, anyway." Or ever, really, but she doesn't tell him that. "I want to trust him, but he's hiding a lot from us and I'd prefer he didn't know anything he could use against us."
"He doesn't know anything beyond what sexual positions would lay you up," the Doctor points out, his tone amused. "I'm not sure how he could use that against you. I've never told him anything important, you know."
"I know." She hadn't meant to make him feel guilty, just get him to stop talking about sex. Now she feels bad, but the Doctor has already gotten over it.
"I, on the other hand, am looking forward to the opportunity to use his knowledge and have you completely at my mercy," the Doctor says, his voice dropping to a low growl. He pushes her back on the bed and she falls without protest. He immediately straddles her, hands on either side of her shoulders, and grins down at her. Rose's heartbeat quickens in anticipation. "I know things that are guaranteed to leave you immobilized for a month." She hopes he doesn't meant that literally, because it sounds wild. She licks her lips in anticipation.
Rose's mobile rings shrilly, abruptly shattering the mood. The Doctor sits back, glowering at the offending object. "I need to take that," she says apologetically. It's Torchwood's dedicated ringtone, and they know she has the day off. If they're calling, then the situation could be dire.
Or not. She listens with growing irritation as the situation is explained, and she when she hangs up, she flings the phone aside with a growl.
The Doctor, now sprawled out on the bed, raises his eyebrows questioningly.
Rose groans. "It's work," she says. "An extra-terrestrial ship crashed just outside London, and Pete wants me to oversee clean-up and deal with the survivor."
"Why you? It's your day off!" he protests.
Rose grimaces. "Because the ship belongs to a species I have experience with, and Pete thinks I can handle this quickly." She wrinkles her nose distastefully. "He's never dealt with Mergovians before - they don't know the meaning of the word 'quick.'"
"They're like Vogons when it comes to paperwork," the Doctor agrees. He snorts. "Bureaucrats."
"Yeah," Rose says as she stands and heads over to her closet. She'll need business attire for this encounter.
The Doctor huffs out a breath, and looks resigned. "I have some work I could do at the office," he says, "and Jack wanted to take me out to lunch - where we won't talk about sex, I promise, though conversation's going to be a bit dull now - so I'll keep myself busy." He grabs her wrist and pulls her close to him. "But make sure you're home by four. I worked hard to plan your birthday all by myself, you know."
"Don't worry," Rose promises. "I wouldn't miss it for the world!"
To the Doctor's surprise, Rose had beaten him home. She's lying on the sofa, eyes closed, hair fanning out around her face. She must have had a rough time, he muses, because her lips are curved into a scowl.
He knows a way to cheer her up. Pleased with himself, he leans forward and presses his lips to hers.
Instead of kissing him back, her eyes snap open and she begins thrashing around, managing to hit him in the jaw and make him yelp in surprise and pain.
"Oi! Stay away from me, you alien git!" Rose shrieks.
The Doctor reels back, stunned. "Rose?" he asks uncertainly as she scoots as far away from him as she can.
"I can't believe you snogged me!" she yowls, wiping at her lips as if to rid them of germs.
The bedroom door suddenly opens, and the Doctor can only stare as the situation becomes even more surreal. Owen Harper? In his flat? The Doctor thinks this over, and immediately comes to a conclusion.
"This isn't what it looks like!" Owen says frantically.
The Doctor glances between them, eyes widening. "You mean, you haven't switched bodies?"
Owen's mouth gapes, and Rose smirks. "Well, it seems Boy Toy isn't as dense as he seems after all."
"How did you know?" Owen - or, rather, Rose-in-Owen, asked.
"Because there's no other reason you would willingly allow Owen into our home," the Doctor says reasonably.
Owen-in-Rose scowls. "We could be having an affair," he points out sourly.
Rose-in-Owen snorts back her laughter, and the Doctor raises an eyebrow.
"Not bloody likely," Rose-in-Owen says. "Not even to save the species."
Before Owen-in-Rose can protest, the Doctor says, "How did this happen? And why did you have to play with body-swapping tech tonight of all nights?" he says mournfully. "And most importantly, why would you switch with Owen?"
"It's not like we had a choice," Owen-in-Rose snaps.
Rose-in-Owen rolls her eyes. "It was in the rubble of the crash we were investigating. Owen was called in because the pilot needed a medic, and Martha is out of town. We were shifting the debris off the pilot when… well, that happened." She points at her body, sitting demurely on the sofa. "We found the machine that switched us, but we can't use it yet. So I had to bring him home with me because there's no way in hell I'm leaving him alone with my body."
She seems rather calm about it, the Doctor notes. That's reassuring. "But you can switch back, right?" His brow furrows. "And how did it happen? The Mergovians don't have the means to body-swap. Way too much paperwork involved in a process like that."
"Yes, we can switch back; the machine still functions - when it has enough power. And the pilot wasn't Mergovian; I don't know what she is. We think she either bought the craft from them, or stole it."
The Doctor's shoulders sag in relief. He's not sure how he'd cope with Rose being permanently stuck as Owen. He doubts it would end well. "So why haven't you used it to switch back? Did you bring it home? I could figure it out if you don't know how to work it."
"That's the tricky bit… the power required to switch us drained the battery. Torchwood has the means of recharging it, but… well, it could take some time."
"How long?" the Doctor asks, dismayed. It looks like he's not going to be able to use his new moves tonight, after all.
"Twenty-six hours, approximately," Rose-in-Owen sighs.
"Twenty-six hours?" the Doctor squeaks. "But Rose… we have an entire evening planned! Dinner! Dancing! Shagging! All those new moves I learned from Jack…" He's starting to sound panicked, and probably more than a little petulant, but he can't help himself. He'd been planning how to celebrate Rose's birthday for ages, it seems, and he'd done it entirely without the advice of Jackie or the internet.
"I don't want to hear about this," Owen-in-Rose growls. "I'm going to go take a shower." Neither of them notice as he leaves the room.
"It could be months before we both get time off again," the Doctor concludes weakly.
Rose-in-Owen sighs and sits on the sofa next to him. She's about to put her arm around him, then seems to remember it's not her arm and drops it to her side. "Believe me, this was the last thing I wanted to happen." She shifts, obviously frustrated that she can't have any intimate contact with him, not without it being incredibly awkward for the both of them. "And I mean that literally. I would've preferred the destruction of the Earth or flesh-dissolving slime over being in Owen Harper's body."
"We… we could still go, I suppose," the Doctor suggests uncertainly. "I mean, you still enjoy eating, right? We can do dinner. And thanks to my stint as The Star'sso-called expert on homosexual lifestyles, I know all the best clubs where two men can go dancing. It could still be fun."
"Until the paparazzi see Rose Tyler's paramour on a date with another man," Rose-in-Owen points out. "Besides, there's no way in hell I'm leaving Owen without supervision."
"We'll just… take Owen with us." The Doctor forces a smile. "This is just a minor inconvenience. Not as difficult as being interrupted by an alien invasion. Or your mum."
"Right." Rose-in-Owen grits her teeth. "No problem." She suddenly realises that someone is conspicuously absent. "Um… where is Owen, anyway?"
"Hmm? Oh, I think he said he needed a shower," the Doctor says with a shrug.
"Shower? You mean, he's alone with my body?" Rose-in-Owen sprints towards their bedroom. "Owen! Don't you dare touch me!" she screams.
That's around when the Doctor finally realises the evening might not exactly go so smoothly, after all.
Dinner goes about as well as can be expected. The host starts to protest that they'd reserved a table for two, not three, and that they didn't have any free private tables for larger parties. Then he recognizes Vitex heiress Rose Tyler and ushers them to a larger, but still private, table.
"A guy could get used to this," Owen says, face alight as he considers the possibilities. Rose hadn't realised her face could look quite so skeevy.
"Well, don't," Rose hisses. "This is for one night only, remember?" And she is not looking forward to that night; who knows what Owen will get up to with her body the moment she falls asleep?
She is so making the Doctor stay up all night to watch him.
The first snag occurs when Owen immediately vetoes Rose's first choice of entrée, her favourite dish at this restaurant and something she rarely indulges in, due to Owen having a nut allergy. Rose is disappointed, but she really doesn't have much of a choice, unless she wants to spend the evening swollen up and in the hospital.
Then Owen adds to her annoyance by getting the dish for himself. She tries not to hold it against him - after all, this could be his only chance to indulge without fear of death - but she can't help but feel a little resentful.
Fortunately, the Doctor can leave no silence unfilled, so awkward dinner conversation isn't a problem. He seems completely unbothered by the body swap, and cheerfully converses with both Rose and Owen as if nothing were wrong. He entertains them with amusing anecdotes about some of his more interesting celebrity encounters, and even manages to make them laugh. Rose finds herself relaxing; Owen is on his best behaviour, and is even charming at times.
Rose wonders if he got a little of her personality along with her body, or if Owen actually could be something other than an obnoxious prat.
Nah. Has to be her body's influence.
Rose is taking a sip of wine and is therefore completely unprepared when the Doctor suddenly leans towards Owen and asks eagerly, with just a hint of wistfulness, "What's it like? Being a woman, I mean?"
She barely manages not to spit out her drink in shock as Owen very seriously considers the question. She then grabs for her water glass, ready to throw the water in his face when he makes the inevitable lewd comment about her breasts.
Instead, Owen says thoughtfully, "It's different. Not just the obvious," he gestures at his chest, "but everything feels different." He bites his lip, a gesture Rose notes looks rather cute on her and she decides to use it in the future when she needs to talk the Doctor into something.
"How?" the Doctor prods.
Rose frowns, wondering why the Doctor is more curious about Owen's male-to-female adjustment than her own gender swap. As she thinks it over, she remembers all the times he's worn make-up, or tried on her clothing, or how moody and effeminate he gets once a month.
Despite his insistence that he's "all male," he has a very prominent feminine side, and he's very aware of the fact. He knows that there isn't something quite right about him, that Donna's contribution to his creation has left him wholly unique, and very, very confused. It shouldn't surprise her that the Doctor is curious about being a woman; it's part of what he is, and talking to another man who has to deal with a female perspective is probably good for him, and may even help him sort out his own gender confusion. Still, there's something about his eagerness towards the subject that alarms her. She has the unsettling feeling that something is about to go very, very bad.
And it had, while she was lost in thought. Unsurprisingly in a conversation that includes Owen, the subject had turned to sex and the differences between male and female experiences - which Rose is going to make damned certain Owen never got to find out for himself, no matter how much he told her that it was for science.
The Doctor, with his usual lack of understanding of private subjects and how they shouldn't ever be discussed in public, was now telling Owen - in detail - some of the things he and Rose had done that he'd like to try from the female perspective.
"You mean… that's why your body's so sore?" Owen says to Rose, aghast. "Oh, that's disgusting! Ugh!" Then he considers. "Good on you, though," he tells the Doctor, who smiles smugly.
"Shoot me now, please," Rose moans.
They ignore her and continue talking, and Rose buries her face in her hands.
It's at the dance club that everything goes sour. The Doctor takes them to one of London's most popular clubs, despite Rose's uneasiness about appearing in public as a group. Even though it's not uncommon for couples to bring a single friend along on a night out, she's Rose Tyler, Vitex Heiress, and everything she does is blown wildly out of proportion by the gossip rags. Even the Doctor's reassurance that The Star is contractually obligated not to print stories involving one of its top writers, there are dozens of other mags that are more than willing to take up the slack.
Still, she's determined not to let that ruin their evening. The Doctor takes them to a club with a very liberal atmosphere, and no one will look twice at the Doctor dancing with a man. They leave Owen at a table with a drink, after Rose admonishes him not to get her body drunk, and then the Doctor pulls Rose on the dance floor.
She feels awkward at first; this body is much taller than she's used to, and is balanced differently. But the Doctor seems unconcerned, adapting easily to her unfamiliar shape and motions. He beams down at her, and Rose realises that he doesn't care what she looks like; to him, she's still his Rose, no matter what.
Not surprising for the member of a species that changes faces on a regular basis, but it still makes Rose's heart flutter.
Is it any wonder she loves this man so much?
They do a slow dance, and Rose only remembers she's not in her own body when she tries to lean into him and realises her head doesn't fit properly under the Doctor's chin. "Having fun?" the Doctor murmurs into her ear.
"Yeah," Rose breathes.
And that's when she remembers Owen. She glances towards the table where he'd been sullenly sipping his drink, but it takes her a moment to find their table because it's empty.
Oh, God… they'd lost track of Owen! It's all right, she tells herself. He'd probably gone to get another drink. Or maybe even do a bit of dancing. Nothing to worry about, right?
Who is she kidding? This is Owen. Frantically, Rose scans the busy club, wishing her body weren't quite so short. Then the crowd before her suddenly parts, offering her a glimpse of the bar - and a very disturbing sight.
Owen is flirting with a big-chested blond in a skimpy purple dress. No, more than flirting; as she watches, he leans forward and kisses the strange woman, an open-mouthed kiss with lots of tongue.
Rose is going to have to disinfect her body once she gets it back.
"Doctor," she hisses, grabbing his shoulder and turning him towards Owen. The Doctor makes an indignant yelp.
"I don't like it when you're strong enough to push me around," he sulks.
"Look," she hisses, taking a step forwards.
"What?" the Doctor asks blankly. Then he spots Owen and the blond. "Oh, nice technique!" he enthuses. "And her dress is gorgeous," he continues. "You should get one like that." So I can try it on, he doesn't add, but the implication is there.
Rose seethes inwardly. "Doctor," she says through clenched teeth. "Owen is using my body to snog some strange woman.
"And he's doing very well, considering it's his first day as a woman," the Doctor says, studying the couple critically. "Rose? Why don't you kiss me like that?" he asks enviously.
Rose reminds herself that this Doctor doesn't regenerate, and that killing him would be a Bad Thing.
She grabs the Doctor's hand and saunters up to Owen and the blond, trailing the Doctor behind her. She still has a death grip on his hand as she comes up behind Owen, her gaze thunderous. She's channeling all her Tyler rage, which she knows is an awesome force capable of cowing an the Doctor. Owen doesn't have a chance.
She grabs Owen's shoulder and spins him around to face her. Owen's faces pales as he realises the trouble he's in, and he cringes. The strange woman eyes them speculatively, and she smiles seductively.
She opens her mouth, ready to lay into Owen, when the Doctor touches her shoulder. "Um, Rose? There's - " he says urgently, but his warning comes too late. A light flashes, blinding her.
"Bloody hell!" Owen shouts, reeling back and rubbing his eyes. "Who the f - " He looks ready to jump to his feet and start a fight, the male bravado looking very comical in Rose's body.
Lovely. Rose hadn't realized she looks about as threatening as an indignant chipmunk when she's angry. But she doesn't dwell on that, and whirls around to find the source of the flash, only to see a very familiar, very annoying figure vanishing into the crowd. He's one of the banes of Rose's existence, one of the vultures that hovers around the rich and famous, waiting to feed off their indiscretions.
Oh, hell… the paparazzi had found them.
Rose tries to run after the photographer, but the crowd is tightly grouped now, and she can't get through.
The Doctor is still attached to her hand, and he's squirming around in an attempt to escape her ever-tightening grip. "It's all right, Rose," he says, voice tight with pain as he continues to try to free himself. "It's just a photo; it doesn't mean anything."
Right. It's not like their dates hadn't been photographed before, yeah? Except…
And then it hits Rose, just what that picture is going to show: Rose Tyler with her arm around some strange woman, while the man known to be her boyfriend watches, his hand gripped tightly in another man's.
Tomorrow morning, every gossip rag in Britain is going to be running articles about Rose Tyler and her outrageous lifestyle. And Rose is going to have to explain it to her mum.
"Worst. Birthday. Ever," Rose groans.
I'm also working on the baby!fic, Domestically Challenged, at the same time as this one, so, hopefully, as soon as this fic is done, I can put that one up immediately after.