Teacups and Lingering Love
Rose Tyler was more than just his secretary.
He wasn't quite sure why she put up with him as a boss, to be honest. He was self-aware enough to realise that he could be a bit of a pain in the arse. For instance, part of Rose Tyler's job description, just beneath the line about her doing the admin and answering the phone, was to keep the fruit bowl well stocked with bananas and the tiny kitchen area well stocked with tea bags and milk and lots and lots of sugar.
Also, he was constantly interrupting her work by sitting on her desk and talking to her. Well. More than talking. Babbling, really, he'd grudgingly admit. But he couldn't help it, you see, because he simply had to share every single random thought he had with her because – well, because –
He wasn't really sure why, he just felt like he should. Like he...wanted to. Wanted her to know what he was thinking.
Oh but no, he realised, thinking that through. He didn't want her to know every thought he had. That would be quite...inappropriate, and she might leave.
Because okay, so maybe he held a little bit of a torch for her. But she was so funny, and clever, and really very gorgeous, so could you blame him? Nope.
She'd sit at her computer, typing away, indulging him by letting him spew out his usual nonsense about this, that and the other, calmly nodding and smiling and generally being very witty when he'd said something that made him sound like an idiot, and to be honest, he kind of sort of liked that. She'd look at him out of the corner of her eye and flash that smile at him, the one with her teeth and her tongue and she'd let him know via that smile that she was only teasing him.
And she didn't complain about the absurdity of addressing him as Doctor. Everyone else was boring and called him John, or Dr Smith (for yes, he did have a PhD, ta very much), no matter how much he told them not to, but Rose...she got him. She understood him. She called him Doctor.
Thing was, she'd started working for him just under a year ago, and they became fast friends. He'd needed someone to do all the paperwork-y stuff that he wasn't very good at, as well as help him out with an extra pair of hands during his own experiments and things in the lab, and she, well, she was perfect. She wasn't conventionally clever in the sense that she had a list as long as her arm of qualifications, but she was clever in the best way, the most important way. That was, although she initially didn't have a great depth of knowledge about his scientific concepts and whatnot, she picked up stuff astoundingly quickly. It was why he liked to ramble at her, actually; he knew she took almost everything in, even when she pretended she wasn't. He was more than her employer, he was her teacher, and she was the best student he could have hoped for to partake in this bizarre life as a scientist's assistant for him.
And...and they were friends.
Her hours were nine to five, but she didn't stick to that structure. Her second day, she'd broken it, in fact, and it had been so ever since. Instead, she came in around eight-fifteen and left at six-thirty, only she didn't actually leave him at six-thirty, because it was at six-thirty that he opened the door and followed her out, and together they'd walk into town for dinner. Every weekday evening.
So, that meant they were friends, right? That was what friends did. They socialised together after work. Right?
(He didn't have much experience in these things.)
However, he and Rose Tyler weren't the only people who worked in this office-lab-building-thing. No, no. It just felt like that, sometimes, because, well, everyone else scarpered as soon as their shift was technically over.
But there were others. Martha and Owen, his fellow scientists. They each had assistants of their own, Donna and Gwen respectively. Toshiko was in charge of computing and was a mathematical genius. Ianto was the team's researcher, who happened have an outstanding local knowledge considering he wasn't even from London, and he also made rounds of rather excellent coffee for them all, using the proper coffee machine thingy and everything. And they all worked together like a great big happy family - well, alright, not quite. But it was a reasonably friendly atmosphere, and there was the sense that everyone generally got on well together.
He got on particularly well with Donna, who had a terrific sense of humour and was always ganging up on him with Rose about his eccentric nature. Martha was brilliant, he admired Tosh's intelligence, Gwen was the empathetic, nurturing sort with a dash of adventurous spirit, and Ianto's one-liners were always ready to lighten the sometimes tense environment. Owen could be a bit of a grumpy bastard, but their rivalry was only an act, and really he quite liked the man.
And then there was Rose, who...
Well. Yes. We know exactly what he thought of her.
So anyway, they all worked alongside one another in a company called Torchwood, which was a scientific research company that dealt with researching the very top secret things that the government wanted researched. Currently, the hot project was developing a vaccine for a particularly nasty virus that was being passed on amongst children in the most deprived countries in the World. If they succeeded, it could be sent abroad as more effective aid than throwing money at these poorer nations, who could not use economics and bureaucracy to save their children, but instead needed foolproof prevention methods.
So that was them. Very Important People. Paid by the government and everything.
Their proper boss – for as much as the Doctor would like to be self-employed, unfortunately, he was not – was called Captain Jack Harkness. He wasn't sure why his boss called himself Captain, because he evidently hadn't been a captain really. But they all sort of called him that anyway, which was silly, because they didn't call him 'Doctor,' and he was definitely more of a doctor than Captain Jack was a captain...
Anyway, this Captain was nice enough, he supposed, and a good boss. But he had one fatal flaw.
He was extremely good-looking, and Rose Tyler noticed this.
The Doctor noticed that she'd noticed this. Well, he'd noticed that all the girls who worked there had noticed this. He wasn't bothered about being overlooked in favour of Captain Jack Harkness by the others, but Rose...
Well. He didn't know why, but the thought that she found him attractive just did not sit well with him.
But that was all entirely beside the point. The point was...wait, what was his point? Oh yes! The point was, Rose Tyler was possibly most definitely his best friend there, and he liked spending time with her. Which was both wonderful and horrible. It was wonderful because Monday to Friday, he got to spend time with her, but it was horrible because on the weekends, she appeared to have a life outside of work and him and...well. The long and short of it was, he didn't get to spend time with her on the weekends, which made him sad, because he did like spending time with her so very much.
Still! He just had to make the most of her company during the week, then, right? Right.
Now all of this he was pondering over his cup of coffee one Saturday morning. Two facts you should ascertain from that sentence. One, he didn't drink tea at the weekends, because it took the fun out of it when Rose Tyler wasn't there to have tea with him, and two, he was a bit of a workaholic – or rather, he had nothing else to do – therefore he came in on a Saturday and spent all day in the lab feeling sorry for himself and pretending to do Very Important Work. Of course, Sundays he did not go in – unless there was some sort of emergency - for that was his brisk-walk-in-the-park and read-several-books day.
But here, today, it was a Saturday. Ten o'clock in the morning, and he was already bored. Everyone else was sensible and just came in for a few hours on the weekends, here and there, fitting it around their relaxation time. For instance, Owen came in at one, after he'd got over his hangover from Friday night, and stayed until five, before going out clubbing again Saturday night and repeating the situation on Sunday.
Only Martha was here at the same time as him on a Saturday morning. With that thought, he looked up, only just registering her presence in the room, and oops, she'd been talking to him and he hadn't noticed. He wondered if he'd be good at improvising should she ask him his opinion on whatever it was she was speaking about.
"I said, are you actually going to do anything in here, or are you just going to mope around all day?" Martha asked with a kind smile, taking a seat next to him.
"Sorry," he apologised, rubbing his eyes wearily. "I was a million miles away. I will do something in a minute, promise."
She nodded, and took a sip of her drink. "Ianto would kill us if he knew we were drinking instant coffee," she commented.
He chuckled. "Yeah, well. He ought to come in just to make us some proper coffee on a Saturday, then."
"Oh, he's probably too busy with his own life to worry about doing that for us."
He frowned then, contemplatively. "Martha."
"Yeah?" she replied, leaning forward.
"You're young," he continued, and her eyes twinkled with something like anticipation and he wondered what on Earth she thought he was going to say next, because it wasn't nearly so interesting as she seemed to be hoping for. "Why do you hang around here on what is technically your day off?"
She glanced away for a moment, and coughed a little awkwardly. "I..."
"I mean, me, I get bored in my flat on my own, so I come here to immerse myself in work, but you – you've probably got all sorts of better stuff to be doing."
"I like work," she said, shifting uneasily in her seat.
He shrugged and drank the rest of his coffee. "Fair enough." He stood up and made to move over to his workstation.
"And you know, it's nice to just..." she trailed off for a moment, and he put his glasses on to adjust a reading, his back to her as she carried on speaking, "Well, I thought...it's just...you know. To keep you company. It's nice just to be here with you with no one else around."
The Doctor paused, and one eyebrow shot up his forehead. Was she saying...?
He quickly spun around and whipped off his glasses. "Eh?"
Martha smiled shyly and got up, advancing towards him with a hesitant yet determined look on her face. "Well, we hardly get a chance to talk when everyone's here, do we?" Her eyes narrowed slightly and he had the sudden feeling that she was making a bit of a hint to the amount of time he spent not actually in the lab with her and Owen but outside in the office chatting to Rose Tyler.
He swallowed. "Er...I suppose not, no."
"So it's like...Saturday mornings, it's just you and me," she continued.
"Right. I suppose they are, yes." He felt decidedly uncomfortable when she stepped into his personal space. He got a bit claustrophobic when people did that. And by 'people,' he did not include Rose Tyler, because she was...well, she just wasn't any old 'people.' He rather liked it when she walked quite closely next to him on their evening meals out. But Martha Jones, as nice as she was, was not Rose Tyler, so he backed up slightly. "Martha..."
"Yes?" she replied eagerly, giving him a big smile.
"You are talking in terms of just...friendship, right?" he asked slowly, quietly, worried he'd embarrass her but even more worried that she'd do something ridiculous like try and come onto him or something if he didn't make himself absolutely clear.
"That depends," she shrugged. "On what you want it to be."
He gulped. "Friends," he said hastily, and tried not to wince when her face slowly dropped. "Because, um, Martha...I don't..."
"You don't...?" she prompted.
"I don't do any other-than-friends stuff."
Her brow furrowed curiously. "What do you mean?"
"Well, the dating and dancing thing, I don't...do that." She laughed, and he looked at her blankly in confusion. "What?"
"You're...you're joking, right?" she giggled.
"Erm, no, not really."
"Then what do you call all those Friday night dates to that Italian restaurant in town with Rose?"
His eyes widened. "Firstly, those are not dates; we're just friends. Secondly, how do you even know about that anyway?" He refrained from mentioning the fact that he and Rose ate dinner together at various other restaurants and cafés on the other weekday evenings.
Martha seemed inordinately pleased with his response. She waved a hand as if to dismiss his second point, mumbling something about it being her way home from the gym and that she occasionally spotted them in there as she passed. "So, you and Rose aren't seeing each other?"
He blinked for a few moments, then sighed. "No."
"Huh," Martha pondered. "I'd been thinking that may she was going all hot and cold on you, and that's why you were always moping about here at the weekend."
He rolled his eyes. "Firstly," he began again. "Rose wouldn't do that, and secondly, stop calling it moping, I just..."
"So...if you're not together," she said, drawing out the phrase thoughtfully. "And you evidently have no girlfriend at home waiting for you...you're single, yeah?"
He wanted to say no. He wanted to say no because he didn't want to be single. Didn't want to be single because he wanted to be with –
"Yes. But not looking," he added hurriedly, "To start anything. Sorry."
"But you're lonely," she stated.
"Only on weekends," he protested.
"So where's Rose, then, hmm?" she asked pointedly. "Not here with you, is she?"
He folded his arms defensively. "This isn't about Rose."
"Of course it is!" she exclaimed, then paused, taking in a deep breath. He watched her, bewildered. He had no clue what precisely was going on at that present moment, but he was quite certain that he'd grasp absolutely any opportunity for a distraction from it.
Martha continued talking, "Of course it is about her. I'm not blind, John. None of us are. We see the way you look at her, and I'm sorry to break it to you like this, but the fact is, you only see her at work and on your precious Friday night dates - "
"I just told you, they are not dates - " he interrupted her, but she interrupted him right back.
"And if she was really interested, then she'd be here now. Or you'd not be here now, but be with her, out for the day or in her flat or something. But she isn't and you aren't, which means she's not interested and you're being deluded and need to get over it." She exhaled roughly. "Sorry," she mumbled half-heartedly. He stared at her, utterly speechless. "But I just...I just want you to notice me, for a change, and how I'd...how I'd be here for you whenever you needed me." She shrugged a shoulder. "Or, you know. Whenever you wanted me."
He opened his mouth to reply but was saved by his mobile phone ringing. He resisted a grin of relief and smiled apologetically at Martha instead, saying, "I should take this, I'll just be a moment, sorry!" And then he dashed out of the lab and into the office to get away from her accusing, persistent expression, and answered his phone without looking at who'd called.