Right. Chapter three it is! Now, before we begin I have to inform you that yes - the bit about Newcastle is true, but they don't use ammonia from that particular source anymore. ;)
Also, I have been asked to warn you guys that this story may not be safe for work due to, well, people laughing out loud. Very sorry about that!
And finally, another big thanks to Moiranna for her betaing work!
The Doctor felt as if he was walking on air.
Rose had liked his gift so much she'd gone speechless. And the look in her eyes! He could only thank his lucky stars for his brilliant idea of giving her the deodorant. A strike of inspired genius, that was! A deodorant was like a perfume, only better. The fragrance was softer, more subtle, and it would help prevent the sweatiness Rose sometimes complained about after their adventures. Romantic, thoughtful and practical! What more could you ask for in a gift?
Everything was going so well he almost felt giddy with happiness. He better not relax, though – he had only completed the first sign and he couldn't assume success until Rose took the step he'd been waiting for so long and asked to further their relationship.
So, the next sign it was.
Peering around himself to make sure Rose wasn't lurking behind a corner somewhere to catch him in the act, he tugged out the magazine from where he'd hidden it inside one of his pockets – he could only hope she wouldn't miss it until he was done with it – and flipped it open, skimming the pages for the article he wanted. The right page was before him seconds later and, with another fugitive look over his shoulder, he began to read.
-He takes an increased interest in everything you say. No matter who the guy is, he'll never be into all the same things you are. That's just the way things are. After all, you're not interested in all the same things he is, either! So when a guy makes an attempt to show interest some of the things he normally wouldn't be, then you can be sure his interest lies in you rather than in anything else.
'Show interest'. Another thing he was doing right. That was good! So far it seemed as if he couldn't have been too far off the mark with the signals he'd been sending out. After all, he was always interested in hearing anything and everything about her and whatever she had to say. He was even an attentive listener when she talked about Jackie and Mickey-the-not-quite-but-still-almost-idiot. The only time he tended to space off was whenever she started talking about clothes and makeup and that was hardly-
Ooooh, oh. Oh.
That was it – his one subject to improve on! While he without doubt enjoyed seeing Rose in her various outfits, there was a good reason why he tended to choose one signature look for each generation and then stick to it – fashion had just never been in his area of interest. But if he had to show some more awareness about human clothing trends, then he would. He'd suffer through all the magazines, fashion shows and other things he would need to endure in order to learn more about it. It would be a small price to pay. There were worse obstacles in the universe to overcome than that, and Rose was worth them all.
With a resolved nod, he allowed the magazine's pages to flick before him from cover to cover, his eyes taking in every piece of relevant information he could find. There wasn't much. Other than a few passing mentions about the colors of the season – and what use was there for those when you were in a time machine, anyway? – the daily fashion choices of some celebrity or other, and the occasional tip on how to dress, the amount of information contained wasn't much to cheer about.
Tucking the magazine back into his pocket, he made his way into the library in search of more in-depth reading.
Rose couldn't quite get the deodorant out of head even as she put the finishing touches on her make-up. She was trying very hard not to feel offended by it – after all, the Doctor wasn't always clear on human decorum and he could have been giving it to her on some misguided notion that it was nice to receive one. Although how on Earth he could have convinced himself that being given a deodorant could mean anything other than 'you smell' was beyond her. Nevertheless, it was a possibility, and she preferred it to the alternative.
She'd still taken the time to put on some of it, though.
Just in case.
To counter the tiny inkling of insecurity and doubt she could feel niggling at the back of her mind, she'd decided to bring out her nice shirt for the day – the pretty red one she'd spent weeks to save up for in order to afford back when she'd been working at Henrick's. It was the most expensive piece of clothing she owned, and it had been worth every penny. It always sat just right, accentuated her best sides without making her look cheap and it was, for that reason, a favorite of hers to wear whenever she wanted to feel better about herself.
She straightened, giving her reflection a last once-over in the mirror. She was looking good – attractive, a bit flirty, but still approachable. Now, if only the Doctor would see that. So she may not be Madame de Pompadour, but she was nothing to sneeze at either!
With a small smile, she gave herself a satisfied nod and replaced her tube of mascara just as the Doctor poked his head into her room again.
"There you are! I was wondering what was keeping you." He paused, tilting his head to the right as he took a large sniff of air and a large, joyful beam lit his face. "You're wearing the deodorant!" he exclaimed.
"Uh, yeah. I guess I am," she replied, trying her best to ignore the uneasiness that was, once again, clutching at her stomach.
"Brilliant. It smells good on you. And it'll help with that sweatiness!"
She flinched, fighting to keep up the cheerful expression on her face. "Mm," she mumbled, struggling to come up with an appropriate response. What on earth was she supposed to say to that? Should she apologize for smelling? Thank him for the deodorant? Smack him for being a rude jerk?
Before she could make up her mind, however, she caught sight of the intense look he was giving her. He was gazing up and down her body, almost as if he was seeing her for the first time and she just about managed to keep herself from blushing under his scrutiny. He had already caused her breath to speed up and butterflies to dance around in her stomach as it were.
"You look good," he said at last and heat burst into her cheeks at his words. She'd just forced her brain into overdrive in order to form a suitable reply – something grateful but also witty, cheeky and a bit flirty at the same time – when he continued on. "Although are you sure about that shirt?"
The happy smile that had been gracing her lips fell. "What d'you mean?" she asked, shooting her reflection another glance, this time with barely hidden apprehension. There was nothing wrong with her shirt and it still fit her as well as it always had. Right? "Something wrong with it?"
"Nah, it's more…it's red, isn't it? Wrong color for the season – it's spring! Or, well, it will be spring when we land, anyway. Wearing anything other than a nice pastel would be sin, Rose. A sin!" He waved his hand at her.
She blinked. For a short moment she'd almost expected him to end his little tirade with the words 'darling', 'fabulous' or perhaps even 'to die for' and she choked back a snort. "What? Since when do you even care about any of that?"
He pouted. "I care! Of course I care!"
"Doctor, the last time I asked about your opinion about what dress to wear, you fell asleep."
"I didn't fall asleep! I just closed my eyes to focus better! It was a hard decision."
She grinned. "Yeah? And I guess the loud snores I heard were the sound of your brain processing the intricate dilemma of whether I should wear the green and the blue, then?"
"Well," he said, drawing out the word for a few seconds as he scratched his ear. "It was an important question. I had to give you a properly thought out reply!"
"You told me to wear whatever I wanted 'cause it wouldn't matter!"
"I had to consider all the factors before reaching that conclusion, didn't I?"
A loud laugh escaped her lips before she had the chance to swallow it back down. "Doctor, we ended up arrested 'cause green was considered salacious."
He gave her a wide-eyed stare, looking more like an injured puppy than anything else. "No need to be like that, all snippy and sarcastic. I've been in every single fashion era in the universe – it's no wonder I get them a bit confused sometimes. I was there when Ogg the Clever decided that Mammoth fur made for nice coats; when the Romans decided that wrapping sheets around their bodies were a good idea and when Newcastle founded their riches on urine."
"Wait, hold on," Rose said, a frown creasing her brow. "What does that have to do with anything?"
The Doctor stared at her in confusion. "What?"
"Newcastle and their…pee. What does that have to do with anything?"
"Oh! That. Well, their urine contains a lot of ammonia – used in fixing dye. It used to be Newcastle's third biggest export after coal and beer."
"You're joshing!" she spluttered, her mind going over the amount of clothes she had stored in her closet and the various funky colors they were in. She didn't even want to think about the quantity of urine that had been used on them…
"It's as good source of ammonia as any," the Doctor replied, looking delighted at her interest. "Of course, in your time-"
"I think I need a cuppa!" she blurted, breaking him off before he could continue his little lesson – she was feeling a bit queasy as it were and she wasn't certain she'd be able to handle any more interesting tidbits of information the Doctor might think she needed to know. "I guess we'll have to continue this some other time."
Some time way, way into the future, after she'd thrown all her clothes into the washer and the memory of Newcastle's historical exports had faded, perhaps.
Lord, she didn't care if her clothes were falling to pieces – she was never, ever going to go shopping ever again. Yuck!