Author's Note: I don't know if it's the same in other countries, but in America, we have a fast food restaurant called McDonald's and they have a commercial jingle that sings: "You deserve a break today…". That will explain the Doctor's remark later on in the story. Also, La Cucaracha is Spanish for the cockroach. Anything in italics is thoughts.
Disclaimer: I do not own anything in relation to Dr. Who, Lion's Brand Treacle, Star Wars or Toy Story.
It's fast approaching midnight when the Doctor's Citroen pulls up outside the hotel. Exhausted, he slumps back against the seat and rubs his hands over his face before picking up the box of goodies from Piper's Pastries and exiting the car.
Admiring the gleam from the moonlight reflecting off of the car, he polishes the front right fender with the cuff of his trench coat and promptly watches the car collapse to one side.
"Well, that's odd," murmurs the Doctor as he whips out his sonic screwdriver and kneels to inspect the damage. "Hmmmm. I can't see a puncture but it must be a flat. Oh, well," he sighs wearily. "I must've picked up a nail on the way home. It can wait until morning."
Trudging up the steps, he hears a gentle wheezing, groaning sound and turns to see a soft blue light flashing on top of their mailbox. "Ah! Mail's here!" He walks over to the mailbox and coos, "How's my baby TARDIS today?" He opens the lid to retrieve the afternoon mail and wonders aloud, "So what has Miss Tyler been up to that she's left you so nice and full, eh?"
A man who happens to be passing through with his dog throws the Doctor a nervous glance when he overhears the Doctor's mutterings. Suddenly realizing that he's under observation, the Doctor arches one eyebrow as he stiffly inquires, "Do you mind? This is a private conversation." The man rears his head back in fright and rushes off dragging his dog behind him while the Doctor sniffs disdainfully and thinks to himself, Some people.
Juggling the mail, the pastries and his sonic, the Doctor opens the lobby doors and calls out, "Rose, I'm home! The seminar didn't take as long as I thought it would! Rose? Are you here?" He stands quietly to listen for any signs of life in the hotel while he surveys the area. He hears shushing noises coming from the far corner of the lobby at the same time his gaze falls onto a very familiar blue police phone box with the light still flashing on top.
"No," he whispers. "It's not possible." He slowly walks over to the phone box as if in a trance and finds the door ajar. When he pulls it open, he finds Rose and David McDonald pressed tightly against each other while gripping tools in each hand.
"Hello," greets Rose as she gives a little wave with the hand clutching the soldering iron. "We didn't expect you home so soon."
"Obviously," states the Doctor in a cold tone. "Do you need some help getting out of there?"
Rose says, "No, I think I can manage it." She wiggles around trying to maneuver for a little bit of room and yelps in pain. "Ow! Watch it, David! You're poking my hip!"
"It had better be with a screwdriver!" growls the Doctor as he yanks Rose out of the phone box. His grip on her arm tightens and their faces are mere inches apart as he demands, "Care to explain what's going on here?"
Sensing the approach of The Oncoming Storm, she blurts out, "Surprise?"
The Doctor grunts, "That goes without saying."
David keeps working inside the phone box while Rose explains, "Well, as much as you love the baby TARDIS, I also know that you miss the other one so…Surprise! It's a freshly painted blue police phone box with a real working phone! What do you think?"
The Doctor leans away from Rose just far enough to peer inside the phone box. "It's a bit cramped, isn't it?"
David continues working and chuckles, "Yeah, but they're not usually bigger on the inside, are they?"
"All the good ones are," mutters the Doctor under his breath.
Rose becomes slightly downcast and hesitantly inquires, "You…don't like it?"
Glimpsing her crestfallen expression and hating himself for making her feel bad when she went to all of the trouble of such a splendid gift, he shakes off his remaining traces of anger and seeks the words to make amends. "It's wonderful, Rose. I love it and I love you for thinking of it. Thank you."
Rose's smile is brighter than the TARDIS' lantern and she throws her arms around his neck, nearly cutting off his air supply in her excitement. Falling into her embrace, the Doctor crushes the mail and pastries in one hand and grips the sonic firmly in the other. He glares down at David, who is turned away from him, and mentally berates, This is all your fault for upsetting her.
Watching David bend over his tool box with his bum up in the air as he searches for another tool causes the Doctor to clutch the sonic even more tightly. What a perfect position to…Dear Rassilon, why must this universe tempt me so?
The Doctor pulls away from Rose enough to address David. "I haven't seen you around for awhile, McDonald. I had almost thought, hoped really, that you had moved onto another job."
David replies, "Oh, not at all, Mr. Smith. It's just with Rose requesting such exact specifications that I wanted to make sure myself that everything was a perfect fit." He glances over at Rose and smiles, "I'll be around for quite awhile seeing as there's plenty of things to keep my hands busy."
The Doctor clucks his tongue and casually remarks, "Yes, that does tend to happen when one doesn't have a girlfriend, doesn't it?"
Rose grits, "I don't think that's what he meant Doctor."
"Really?" quizzes the Doctor. "Oh, well. So McDonald, how did you know that I wouldn't be here? The seminar was very last minute."
David answers, "Well, Rose and I have been in very close contact." He adds jokingly, "The phone box not withstanding, of course." A muscle clenches in the Doctor's jaw as he continues, "I was in the area running some errands so I came by to let Rose know that I was up for it whenever we could be alone and I noticed that your car was gone. Then I noticed the trail of liquid heading towards the M-15 and thought I'd take a chance and make my move."
The Doctor considers this information with a tilt of his head and muses, "Interesting. That reminds me; I must put up some security cameras and defense systems. We can't just let anyone walk in here."
"Aye, you can't keep our Rose too safe," agrees David. "Oh by the way, I've been meaning to give you the name of a good mechanic. I have a mate that could fix your car up in no time. Wilfred Mott referred him to me. Good man that Wilf."
The Doctor declines a little too politely, "No, thank you, I prefer to work on my car myself. You see I need something to keep my hands busy too; that is when they're not busy with Rose."
Rose practically shouts, "Doctor!"
David laughs and soothes, "Not to worry, Rose. I totally understand his protectiveness towards you. That's why I wanted to recommend my mechanic. I take it your riding in that piece of cra-." He pauses at the Doctor's glare, and clears his throat before modifying, "Piece of classic memorabilia and I just wanted to make sure that you were safe."
The Doctor merely glowers at David until he does a double take as Rose smoothly replies, "Oh, don't worry, David. I will be. My dad had the same concern after he re-taught the Doctor how to drive a manual so he's out trying to find something for me even as we speak."
Flabbergasted, the Doctor silently fumes, Pete, you traitor. I should have left a lyric out when I bought your car.
Rose finally notices the box under the Doctor's arm from her favorite bakery and inquires interestedly, "And what's this?"
The Doctor displays the crumpled box with flourish before he opens the lid and smirks, "I stopped by the bakery earlier and picked up a few choice delicacies for…", he pauses to waggle his eyebrows suggestively, "our reunion."
Rose rolls her eyes at his dramatics and teases good naturedly, "As long as it's not French tarts."
Pulling a face in reply, the wind is soon let out of the Doctor's sails when David declares, "I can't stand French tarts. They're so unsatisfying and tasteless. I prefer my sweet tooth to be satisfied in the form of Lion's Brand Treacle. There is nothing in this world like London treacle. It's bright, golden and I could just roll it around on my tongue all day. It fulfills every desire. Once you've tasted London's best, why would you ever want anything else?"
Rose has to bite her tongue to keep from choking on her laughter and dares a peek at the Doctor. His teeth are clenched together so tightly that Rose is in utter awe when he manages to grind out, "Well McDonald, you're obviously a man of exquisite taste and excellent judgment."
He turns his head and looks meaningfully at Rose and voices huskily, "It's too bad that I don't have a time machine. I would go back and make an entirely different choice."
Rose simply returns a loving smile and wiggles her fingers towards the Doctor to take her hand. He immediately accepts her offering and they gaze quietly at each other until David interrupts them.
"That would be great if we could do that, wouldn't it?" he queries. He smiles wide and offers, "I'd gladly lend you my time machine if I still had it."
Rose and the Doctor both stiffen and squawk in unison, "What?"
David laughs heartily and explains, "My time machine. I was just a wee lad back in Scotland when my mates and I used an old beat up blue cardboard box to travel through time and space. It sort of reminds me of this one. And of course being Scottish, we called ourselves 'Time Lairds'. How lame is that?"
The Doctor just gives Rose a deadpan stare as David notices his sonic screwdriver. "Mr. Smith, would that be the screwdriver that I'm always hearing you go on about?"
The Doctor proudly declares, "Yes, it is."
David tentatively reaches out to touch it and asks, "May I?"
The Doctor instantly snatches it back and warns, "Careful with that! You'll shoot your eye out!"
Rose swats his arm and chastises, "He will not!" She turns to a very nervous looking David and assures him, "He's just kidding. There's not really a setting that will do that."
Not yet, envisions the Doctor.
David waves a hand dismissively and says, "It's fine, Rose. I totally understand where he's coming from. A man's nothing without his tools, eh Mr. Smith?"
The Doctor concedes, "I couldn't agree more, McDonald." He gestures toward David's tool box and declares, "The tools of a man's trade reflect the true nature of a man." And just like you, they're completely useless.
Proud of his display of newfound maturity, Rose pecks the Doctor's cheek and suggests, "Why don't you go up and slip into something more comfortable?"
The Doctor sighs in defeat as he darts a glance at David and replies wryly, "That was my original intention."
David kindly insists, "Please don't stand on ceremony on my account, Mr. Smith. I can take care of everything down here on my own. I know I'd hate to be stuck wearing a suit all day if I didn't have to."
Handing the mail and pastries to Rose, the Doctor heads towards the stairs and without turning around mutters, "You're so right, David. Please excuse me."
As he places his foot on the first step, he looks back at the phone box just in time to see Han and Leia hop out of the doorway. Once they reach the back of the phone box, they wave their hands in the air to draw his attention and offer wide smiles and identical thumbs up as Han pats the side of it. The Doctor turns away with a grimace and trods up the stairs while grumbling to himself, Et tu, Han and Leia?
****Eleven minutes later****
The Doctor is jogging back down the stairs wearing his green 'The Incredible Sulk – Don't Make Me Pouty' t-shirt when he stops dead in his tracks to watch Rose and David lost in conversation. He stands still as he watches her throw her head back at some inane comment that the Scot has made and gazes on in silence as he studies their proximity and gestures.
Rose's body leans against the concierge desk while David's head dips down and he gazes at her from underneath his long lashes. The Doctor regards, at least in his mind, his rival and wonders, What's with the floppy hair anyway? He looks like he belongs in Flock of Seagulls. He gives a disdainful sniff while he runs his hand through his own tousled mane. I've seen better hair on a troll doll. And what's up with that chin? Did Buzz Lightyear have a love child ? Maybe that's why he talks like that. Jamie never spoke like that. Even Scrooge McDuck has better diction.
The Doctor's eyes narrow as he spies David brushing some loose strands of hair away from Rose's face and he's not all that surprised when moments later he finds himself at the bottom of the stairs.
He comes up alongside them just as David is praising Rose's efforts. "You did a great job today, Rose. How'd you like a job as my assistant?"
The Doctor loops his arm around Rose's waist and pulls her tightly against his side in a gesture that clearly states possession. His tone and stance are firm as he asserts, "Rose is NOT your assistant! She is mine!" He scoffs as he flashes David the evil eye. "Your assistant, you say? She prefers to be under me! Don't you, Rose?"
Rose flushes as red as her namesake with embarrassment and squeaks out, "I'd really prefer not to answer that right now if you don't mind."
The Doctor is slightly hurt when Rose tugs away from him and informs him, "Doctor, before you came downstairs, we were discussing how we were so busy setting up the phone box that we missed our tea and supper." She turns to face him fully and appears very anxious as she states, "Since David helped us out on his day off, I invited him to stay to eat with us. I figured that it was the least we could do, don't you think?"
David is very grateful for the offer and accepts readily while the Doctor turns away and tries to mask an expression of annoyance at delaying David's departure. He notices a package on the concierge desk and asks excitedly, "Rose, is that what I think it is?"
Thankful for a chance to ease the tension, Rose chirps, "I totally forgot about that! It's the samples that you ordered for the nursery!"
Shocked, David blurts, "Nursery? Are you expecting?"
"Yes, we are actually," declares the Doctor proudly. "We're expecting a very special delivery in just a few weeks time."
David's glance at Rose's flat stomach doesn't go unnoticed by her. She laughs and explains, "Not that kind of delivery, David. The samples are for a plant nursery." With an aside glance at the Doctor, she states, "A banana tree nursery to be exact."
The Doctor is beaming as David inquires disbelievingly, "A plant nursery? In the hotel? And where exactly are you going to put that?"
"Why Room 910, of course!" exclaims the Doctor as he eyes him with a pitying look. Rose remembers that look well, as if she had just dribbled on her shirt. "With the radiator stuck on high, it creates the perfect temperature and humidity for the banana plants to grow." He rocks back onto his heels with his hands deep in his pockets and hums, "Mmmmm. Bananas. Excellent source of potassium, don't you know?"
"No, no I didn't know that," replies David while shaking his head in wonder.
Rose gives him an amused glance that shares 'You'll get used to it', before she announces, "Well, I'm off to put the kettle on." Her gaze is very intent and full of meaning when she meets the Doctor's eyes and requests, "Play nice."
They watch Rose disappear down the hall and into the kitchen before David turns to the Doctor and remarks, "A lass as beautiful as Rose must have men trailing after her all the time."
"Yes," agrees the Doctor who gives him an extremely hard and even stare as he adds, "Especially me."
David knowingly admits, "A blind man could see that, Mr. Smith. So, you think the two of you will last then?"
In an exceedingly grave and serious tone, the Doctor affirms, "Yes, we will. Forever."
David notes the Doctor's change in manner and drops his head down in what the Doctor takes as resignation but is actually an attempt to hide his amusement. Brightening at his former rival's acceptance of the situation, he suggests, "Now, shall we join Rose before the tea gets cold?" David nods his head once and then grins broadly behind the Doctor's back as he follows him into the kitchen.
They find Rose at the counter flipping through the pages of a cookbook trying to decide what to make for dinner. David chuckles softly, "Pulling out all the stops, eh? I love to see a master chef in action!"
Rose grins wide and laughs until she hears the Doctor comment as he comes up behind her, "Not really, she's not very good. To be honest, most of the time the food is barely fit for consumption. Are you absolutely sure that you want to stay?"
Rose glowers at him and knocks him back a few steps with an elbow to the ribs while he rubs his side completely dumbfounded at her actions. "What?" he defends. "I'm just giving the man fair warning!"
David fights to hold back his laughter and benevolently states, "I'm sure Rose is an excellent cook, but if I may be allowed, I would like to offer my services in the kitchen this evening. Consider it a house warming present if you will."
The Doctor looks at him doubtfully and asks, "You can cook?"
"Absolutely!" proclaims David. "It so happens that I studied as a chef before I worked in construction." He peeks over at Rose with a hint of mischief and purrs, "It's only one of my many passions."
Practically glowing at the prospect of a professionally home cooked meal after the day's labor, Rose ignores the Doctor's burning gaze and replies, "Well, if you're sure…"
"Fantastic!" cries David as he claps his hands together. "I don't usually offer my services because I don't like to encroach on another's person's territory."
The Doctor's eyes widen in alarm and he thinks, Is that supposed to be a threat? Not very subtle are you, McDonald? Keep that up and I'll give you a break today. Right across your neck!
David suddenly jumps away from the couple and starts flipping through the cookbook. After a minute, he notes, "There's not very many fancy dishes in here. What do you have in the refrigerator?"
Rose answers dejectedly as she opens the refrigerator, "Not much, I'm afraid. We have a few bits of meat, vegetables, eggs, fish fingers and custard."
"Hmmmm, interesting," considers David as he taps a wooden spoon against his mouth. "How about something simple and light, like an omelet?"
The Doctor merely scoffs at his suggestion and relates, "Well even Rose could make that."
Rose's warning glare and soft growl of, "We are not amused," are enough to curtail the Doctor from any further comments on her cooking.
Sensing a change in mood is needed, he smiles brightly and intones warmly, "That would be lovely, David. Thank you so much."
David's culinary skill makes short work of the ingredients and soon he is dishing the omelets out onto the plates. Rose gushes, "David, it smells divine! Without even taking a bite, there is no doubt in my mind what an excellent cook you must be! Don't you agree, Doctor?"
The Doctor responds enthusiastically, "Yes, Rose. I can definitely picture David over an open fire." Preferably turning on a spit with an apple in his mouth, he thinks bitterly.
Rose attempts to introduce some casual conversation and asks, "So, David, do you miss Scotland?"
"Not too often," he confesses. "Although, I do admit to feeling a few twinges of longing when I see family picnics at the park. My family always gathers together twice a year and we have contests and games against all our various clans."
Rose interest peaks. "What sport did you participate in?"
David's chest seems to puff up as he declares, "I always came in first for the caber toss."
The Doctor silently opines, A tosser? How appropriate.
David inquires, "Have either of you ever been to Scotland?"
The Doctor replies with a wink at Rose, "Just the once, there were too many wolves for our liking."
David states, "Aye, the hills are full of them."
Rose earns a confused glance from David when she remarks, "So are the houses."
Trying to draw David's attention from that line of questioning, the Doctor hastily includes, "We used to travel a fair bit so there aren't many places that we haven't been to."
"Except for Barcelona," pipes up Rose slyly. "We still have yet to make it there. Maybe we could go there for our honeymoon?" she queries hopefully.
"Maybe…" teases the Doctor.
Both David's smile and eyes widen as he asks, "Barcelona? You're kidding me. Seriously?"
"Yes," answers the Doctor somewhat curtly. Is there something wrong with that?"
"Not at all," replies David cheerfully. "It's just funny because I used to be a tour guide there during the summer holidays."
Inside the privacy of his mind, the Doctor sighs, Of course you did.
David seems lost in thought as he recalls, "I worked a few summers there and traipsed across the whole country. It was the best time of my life."
Rose suggests, "Well, perhaps we could all get together so we could have a proper tour whenever we decide to go."
Appalled at the very idea, the Doctor gasps, "You want him to come along on our honeymoon?"
"Nooooo…," drawls Rose. "I was thinking more along the lines of chatting up David about all the best places to visit that the average tourist wouldn't know about."
David takes Rose's hand and gives it a gentle squeeze. "It would be my pleasure lass," and then kisses her hand.
Or your pain if you keep that up, seethes the Doctor.
Rose muses, "It's too bad that we'll most likely be going on our honeymoon, David. We would have been more than happy to make arrangements for you to travel with us."
Yep! Right after I ensured that the flight had a stewardess from Heathrow, reflects the Doctor with a slight shake of his head.
Rose's tongue pokes out between her teeth as she mentions, "You know, David, I don't recall you mentioning anybody special in your life. Anyone we should know about?"
David shakes his head ruefully, "No, no lass, I'm still looking."
Uncomfortable at this prospect, the Doctor declares just a little too loudly, "Well, you won't find anything here, McDonald." They both turn to stare at him. "I mean, you won't find anyone here. For you. But we could help you look. Somewhere else."
Rose turns her head away in disgust and notices the time on the clock. She instantly apologizes, "David, I am so sorry! I had no idea how late it was getting to be. Do you want to stay over?'
Before David can utter a reply, the Doctor advises, "I don't know, Rose. I don't think we have the room."
Rose huffs in exasperation, "It's a hotel, Doctor! We have plenty of room!"
The Doctor is forced to concede the point and offers, "Well, we do have Room 1019 available." Rose gawks at him in disbelief. "What?" asks the Doctor in all innocence. "If there are any problems with the room then he can fix it!" At Rose's continued stare he rationalizes, "It would give him something to do! You know very well that the leaky faucet will keep him up all night anyway."
Well aware of Room 1019's shortcomings, David hurriedly scoots his chair back from the table when he realizes that the Doctor is completely serious. He quickly rises from his chair and puts his hands up in a defensive gesture. "No, that's not a problem, Rose. Honestly, I can return home in the blink of an eye. Now thank you both kindly for the lovely evening and perhaps next time, I can treat you."
They all leave the kitchen and walk out to the lobby while Doctor wears an exceptionally cunning and smug look as he hums La Cucaracha. David spares the Doctor a sideways glance and warns teasingly, "You have a good woman there, Mr. Smith. You had better be sure to keep your eye on Rose before someone tries to snatch her up and take her away from you."
The Doctor laughs and says, "They'd have to be pretty clever to snatch her up under my watchful eye. Isn't that right, Rose?" He looks around the room. "Rose? Where did she go?"
"I'm right here," answers Rose as she walks back into the lobby from the living room. "I was just getting David's jacket. David, would you like me to help you pack up your tools?"
David requests, "If you don't terribly mind, I'd like to leave my tools here and I'll pick them up in the morning when I return to supervise the generator placement."
The Doctor bears his manic grin as he offers once more, "Now, are you sure you don't want to take us up on Room 1019? It's available for immediate occupancy. It won't take me but just a tick to fetch the fly swatter and the bug spray."
David faces the Doctor and backs away shaking his head 'no' the entire time until he reaches the sanctuary of the hotel's front doors. He doesn't even turn around as he blindly reaches to turn the door handle and step outside.
The Doctor moves steadily forward while stating, "Well, thanks for installing the phone box and for the lovely dinner. Good luck on finding somebody special. Not here of course, but out there. Bye." Rose is unable to offer her own gratitude and farewell before the Doctor slams the door in David's face.
The Doctor spins happily on his heels to come face to face with an incredibly irked Rose Tyler. Glaring at him accusingly with her arms crossed over her chest, he swallows audibly and manages to peep, "What?" She stares at him incredulously until he suddenly narrows his eyes in suspicion as he stares back at her.
Feeling increasingly nervous without knowing why, Rose steps back for each step he makes toward her. "It just occurred to me…," he begins, "that if I hadn't returned a day earlier than planned and it had been very late…"
"Yes?" prompts Rose.
He hisses, "Would you have still asked David to stay over?"
Rose continues to step back with each word as he slowly advances on her and stammers, "Well…erm…yes, um, yes I probably would have, but only if it had been really, really late, like it is now…"
The Doctor growls, "Rose?" Her eyes widen apprehensively in response. "Run!"
She squeaks, "That's what I thought," and heads for the staircase with the Doctor right on her heels.
Outside the hotel, David stands and listens to the fading strains of the couple's laughter. His expression is very intent, full of wistfulness and longing at what the Doctor and Rose share with each other and what he wants to find for himself.
He strolls casually down the street before quickly ducking into an alley and leaning against the wall. He pushes a button on his watch and immediately transports into the living room of his flat.
He grabs a soda out of the refrigerator and plops down into his armchair and picks up the remote to watch his favorite musical mystery Blackpool. He thinks back on the evening's events and shakes his head in amusement. Ah, humans. You got to love them. Jake was right. If the Doctor's thoughts are anything to go by, he can be pretty snarky when he wants to be and very territorial.
Another button on his watch releases his shimmer to reveal his true appearance. He appears exactly the same except that his eyes are completely black and he has pale green skin. Owthtiwretteb, he muses as he bops his head to Blackpool's opening scene while sipping his drink, was never like this.
Additional author's note: If you don't remember Owthtiwretteb, it was first mentioned and explained in The Morning After. For the special meaning of the planet's name, read it backwards. ;)