The Efresian weather was terrible, hands down. On any given day of the week, in any week of any month of the year, without fail, the skies of Efresia wept waterfalls. Tourist pamphlets on the tiny planet tried to sell this point by romanticizing the rain, without much success. Ancient Efresian legend claims that the gods carouse throughout the day and night. Drunkenly they urinate down upon us, their bladders bursting, as a sign of their revelry and uninhibited love for their devoted followers. The celebrations do not cease until the last drop of wine has been drunk, and until that time there will always be rain.
Needless to say, the Efresian tourist industry had never done particularly well.
It was in this miserable environment that Rose found herself, soaked and grumpy, with the Doctor at her side. Locked out of the TARDIS. On the planet of eternal rain. Which was, according to legend, actually urine. Things could not possibly be better.
Rose crossed her arms, her hair plastered to her face and mascara running down her cheeks. "Doctor," she said, glaring at the soggy expanse of hills before them.
"Hmm?" he replied, feigning cheer.
"Doctor, I am going to kill you," she said.
"Ah," he said.
"I am going to strangle you," she said, "and then I am going to drown myself in the pee of the gods."
"Not good," he said.
"Seriously, could you not have locked the keys inside the TARDIS on some nice planet? Somewhere with sun and beaches?"
"Well," the Doctor said in all seriousness, "if you look at it from a certain perspective, Efresia almost has beaches."
"Those are massive pee-puddles, Doctor. Those are not beaches."
"It's not actually pee, you know," he told her. "Look." He threw his head back and opened his mouth wide, his tongue hanging out to catch the rain. After a moment, he looked back at her and smacked it around in his mouth as he tasted it. "I mean, yes, it's a bit tangy, and it's not exactly H2O, but I wouldn't call it pee."
"You know what I meant," she scowled. "Beaches! With sun! …Miami! Italy! Places where you don't get soaked 24/7!"
"28/7," the Doctor corrected. "Efresia has longer days than Earth."
"Doctor!" she said angrily.
"Right, yes. I s'pose I could have picked a better spot. Just…you know…I wanted to show you the little shops. Love a little shop. Nice little shop to peruse…." He trailed off into silence.
A minute passed, and as the rain could not possibly make them wetter than they already were it merely served to create a new, sludgy puddle around their feet in the dark blue grass.
"I've had a thought," the Doctor said, turning to her with renewed enthusiasm. "Right, you know the expression 'Godspeed'? Well, here's a question: on Efresia, do they say, 'Gods' pee' instead?" He waited eagerly for her to get the joke and laugh.
"I'm gonna murder you," Rose said, rain dripping off her nose.
They trudged through the marshland, their feet sinking up to the ankles into the ground. The grass on this planet had a peculiar pulpy quality from the endless dampness and it stuck resolutely in porridge-like clumps on their legs, creating thick grassy boots around their feet. The Doctor had used his sonic to find signs of technology and pointed out the direction in which they were headed. It was a good half hour before the two travelers came across anything remotely resembling a dwelling, and this was nothing more than a few upright planks of decomposing, mossy wood, the roof having caved in some time ago. They sighed and walked on.
Still, it could have been worse. The Doctor could have inadvertently stepped in a hole and hurt his ankle.
"Oof!" he said, falling as his right leg plunged into a hole that had been hidden by the grass.
"What?" Rose said, halting and looking back. The Doctor's leg was submerged to a point slightly above the knee and he was on his side, supporting himself on one elbow and looking thoroughly uncomfortable.
"You all right?" Rose asked, concerned.
"Fine," he said, gritting his teeth. "Bit of a twinge in my ankle, though." He sucked in a breath and began labouring to free himself from the hole. Rose hurried forward and grabbed his arm, slowly pulling up.
"Ooh. Ah," the Doctor groaned, signaling for Rose to stop. He looked down at his leg.
"Not good," he muttered.
"What is it?" Rose asked nervously, eyeing his leg as well and crouching at his side, her hands still on his arm.
"Fractured or sprained. Not sure which," he said with a grimace. Still looking at his leg, he reached out blindly for Rose and she took his hand in hers.
"Ready?" she asked. The Doctor nodded, and they resumed the effort of pulling him from the hole. Rain continued to pour down on them, causing Rose to slip at one point. It shouldn't have been such an effort, but the Doctor couldn't help his foot from knocking against the walls of the hole as he lifted it and as the pain shot through his leg he would gasp and halt, resting for a moment.
At last he was freed and he collapsed on his back in the grass, breathing heavily. "Blimey, that hurts," he groaned, propping himself up to look at his foot.
Rose knelt at his feet, ignoring the pulpy grass that she knew was now becoming one with her clothing. She looked at him. "May I?" she asked. He nodded apprehensively and she slowly rolled up his trouser leg before pulling his sock down to expose his ankle. Already it was swelling and there was a nasty purplish bruise forming. Rose met his eyes questioningly.
"Broken, then," the Doctor said, sighing.
"What do we do?" Rose asked with wide eyes.
"I'm going to need help getting that shoe off. Could you…?"
Rose nodded, bent over his foot, and began to untie the laces. She loosened them and, with a nod from the Doctor, pried the shoe off his foot as gently as possible. Even so, he yelped and his head rolled back to expose his neck, the muscles taut as he gritted his teeth and fought the wave of pain. Alarmed, Rose stared at him, concern etched on her face.
"Rassilon!" he cursed loudly, slumping back to the ground. "No keys no TARDIS no shelter eternal rain broken ankle!" he growled in one breath.
"It'll be fine," Rose said nervously. "We'll find a town, get you patched up, and figure out a way to get back into the TARDIS. But we have to keep going, coz the sun's goin' down and we'll catch a cold in this rain." Not giving the Doctor a chance to respond, she reached out her hand and he took it, using it and Rose's combined efforts to pull himself up and balance on one foot.
He looked at her dubiously. "I can't put my weight on this," he said.
"Not losing faith on me, are you, Doctor?" Rose said.
"Just stating the facts," he said.
"I'll help you. We'll do fine, you and me. Here, lean on me. Come on, more than that. You're not gonna hurt me." The Doctor obliged and, with a grunt, allowed Rose to take much of his weight on her shoulders.
"Good thing you're skinny," she said. "My mum once dated this real fat bloke, Anthony. He was nice an' all, but imagine carryin' him across this planet!" They began to walk, the Doctor limping along with his arm slung around Rose's shoulders. In an effort to distract him from the pain of his ankle, from which he winced at every step, Rose told him facts about her old life before she met him.
"Mum forgot me in a Sainsbury's once. Just forgot she'd brought me with her. Paid for everythin' and left me there. 'Course, I didn't know she'd left, I was six and thought I just couldn't find her, and I spent a good fifteen minutes lookin' down every aisle. Eventually someone noticed that I was goin' back and forth all over the store by myself and she asked me where my mummy was." Rose grinned. "I just burst out cryin' then coz I didn't know. God, I was a mess. Wouldn't say a word to the lady who was tryin' to help me and in the end Mum came back all panicked and wild coz she'd remembered I'd been with her on the way to Sainsbury's but wasn't with her on the way back. I held her hand the whole way home and wouldn't let go. She felt awful about it and spoiled me that night; let me eat whatever I wanted and stay up late."
She glanced over at the Doctor and the smile slid from her face. He was very pale.
"Doctor?" she said worriedly, halting.
"'M all right. Just keep going," he said.
"I don't think we should," Rose said tentatively.
"I'm fine, really."
"Come on," she said with authority. "Let's sit you down." In spite of his original protests, the Doctor obliged quite willingly, letting out a small groan of relief as Rose helped him to the ground.
"Doctor," she said sternly. "You're allowed to say something when you're in pain. I'm not gonna think you're weak if you need to rest." He didn't respond. Rose sighed and plopped herself down next to him, ignoring the small splash of water from the impact.
"You're makin' me feel like I'm talking too much. Say something."
"R-Rose," he said, turning to look at her. And Rose realized that he was shivering.
"Shit," she said. She brushed his soaked hair off of his forehead and rested the back of her hand against it. As she suspected, he was unnaturally warm. Not just regular cold, then. This was potentially bad. Rose examined his face. He was still pale and it might have just been the lighting but she thought his eyes had the beginnings of circles appearing under them. "How are you feeling?" she asked.
"Awful," he croaked. "So cold. I'm so cold." His teeth chattered and she felt something ache in her chest.
"It's not hypothermia, is it?"
"Not cold enough. H-has to b-b-be the water. D-don't drink the water."
Rose looked at him fearfully. If there was something in the water, there was no knowing what effects the Doctor would feel. What if it was poisonous to Time Lords? Why did he have to go and taste it just to make a point? Always licking things and putting things in his mouth…she supposed it was about time that one of them made him sick.
"Rose," he said suddenly. "Don't drink the water. Don't—don't drink the water."
"I won't," she said, her brow furrowed.
"Don't drink the water," he mumbled, and she could see that his eyes were out of focus.
"Doctor, I won't," she promised.
Rose scooted closer to him on the ground and wrapped her arms around him, pulling him close. He was shaking, and she rubbed her hand up and down his back in an effort to generate friction to make him warmer. She had to stop him shaking. It was frightening her. What could she do? It was still raining, there was no real shelter to be seen among the hills and puddles, and there was nothing dry she could cover him with. They had to get to some kind of settlement, and soon. She had no idea what the water he had ingested was going to do to him and she couldn't let him stay out here in the rain for much longer.
"Can you hear me? Doctor?" She held him away from her and looked into his face. His eyes were closed, but she felt certain that he was conscious. The shivering had not abated. "Doctor. I'm going to get help. I'm going to bring help back and we're going to get you somewhere warm and safe. Okay?"
He didn't open his eyes, but nodded almost imperceptibly. Rose let go of him and stood up.
"No!" the Doctor cried out. "Don't leave me!"
"I've got to," Rose said gently, crouching down once more and taking his hand. "You can't walk. I'm getting help for you and then I'm coming right back."
"No," he said through chattering teeth. "No, no, no…." His voice was slurred. Rose wasn't sure if he even knew what he was saying.
"I'm coming back," she promised. She squeezed his hand.
Rose felt a horrible guilt. It pained her to see him like this. But she had to get help, and she had to get it quickly, and she couldn't do that with him limping and feverish beside her. It had to be done. She kissed his forehead, let go of his hand, and set off running as best she could in the sludge. She hoped the Doctor had been right in pinpointing the direction of the nearest signs of life.
The Doctor's eyes flickered open. Someone was calling his name. He wished they wouldn't, he was trying to sleep. Consciousness was such a great burden. A raindrop hit his eye. He closed them again. Were his eyes crying backwards? Gravity, you fickle wench, he though. Or was it time? Was time going backwards? Maybe he would see his mum again. He missed his mum.
"Mum," he said.
"No, Doctor, it's me. It's Rose," said a voice. He couldn't tell if it was nearby or not, but it didn't matter. His mother was here.
"Mum," he said again, and smiled.
"He's delirious," said that voice. The voice was a wave, like a choo-choo train. Weee-ooo-weee-ooooo. It floated past him. He tried to grasp at it with his fingers, eyes still closed. The movement triggered a memory, and he lifted his right foot. Instantly, he shouted in agony and lowered it to the ground again. That was strange. What was that? He did it again, and once more yelled from the pain. How bizarre, to be able to control pain.
"Don't move. We've got you. We're taking you somewhere safe," said the voice.
Hands were lifting him. Too many hands. This creature had too many hands! He thrashed in their grip, but someone was holding his face and this someone had two warm hands with fingers—he rather liked fingers, he decided—and the thumbs were stroking his cheeks with a funny shushing noise. It felt quite nice, if he was honest. Up, down. He thought of his sideburns and how nice it would be for the fingers to touch those too. The shushing noise continued and he had long since calmed and stilled in the arms of whatever had him. The hand brushed hair away from his face and were removed. He missed them. His face had never had friends before.
He felt himself placed on something that began to move, but hadn't he been moving for the last few hours? Or had it just been floating? These things are so hard to tell when one is unconscious. He resolved to pay more attention in future.
Rose fearfully watched the Doctor as she and her companions carried him on a stretcher across the soggy hills. He no longer thrashed, but his head lolled from side to side and he shuddered now and again. Once he mumbled something incoherent and reached out his hand. She hoped he knew that she was there and that she would make sure he was going to be fine.
The inhabitants of Efresia, as it turned out, were friendly humanoids. When Rose had burst wildly into the first building she had come across, interrupting what looked to be a card game, the four Efresians gathered had at first been excited at the prospect of tourists. "Welcome to Efresia!" they had crowed, seemingly unperturbed by the interruption or by Rose's frantic demeanor. It was clear to Rose that the small, wet planet rarely saw intergalactic travelers. They had thrust sweets into her hands, proudly shown her postcards bearing photos of rain and mud, and fought amongst themselves for the opportunity to regale her with the local folklore. She had had to shout over them to explain her situation. Thankfully, the four bluish creatures had reacted quickly and one had run to summon a medical team from a nearby building. Now here they were, two medics and the four original acquaintances, the Doctor between them on a stretcher, making their way as quickly as they could the mile or so to the village.
The Efresians were small but strong. They assured Rose, who had pleaded for them to let her help, that he weighed very little and that they could handle it perfectly well. She was reminded of her comment to him earlier in which she had teased him about being so thin, and she felt her face grow hot with the pain of remembrance. She could have stopped him from drinking that rain. But how could she have known? When she had told her companions what was wrong with him they tsked and shook their heads but did not tell her anything more than, "Foreigners mustn't ingest the rain."
The Doctor suddenly moaned, and Rose's head snapped to look at him. His mouth hung open and she heard a gurgling in his throat.
"Set him down!" she cried. The Efresians looked at her and did as she said, lowering him to the ground. Rose hurried to kneel at his side, her eyes flickering across his face. He was gasping for breath, his eyes still shut tight, and without warning he turned his head to the side and vomited, retching and gasping. He coughed and Rose pounded his back, holding his shoulder to steady him. She turned to look at the Efresians and caught their expressions of alarm and worry before they abruptly hid their feelings behind polite, blank expressions. One of the small blue women—she thought it was a woman, at least—stepped forward and gestured for them to keep going, and Rose nodded. Just visible in the distance was the village. Together they lifted the stretcher and hurried on.
At last they reached the village, a small scattering of large stone domes set atop cement platforms. The Doctor was rushed into one with a curious symbol carved into the keystone above the doorway, and Rose followed them in. Bioluminescent lanterns hung from the ceilings and lined the inner wall of the circular building. There was only one room, and this was occupied by beds and cabinets. There were no windows, and Rose supposed she knew why: with only one kind of weather, and not much view to speak of, it was probably better just to ignore windows entirely.
The Efresians carrying the Doctor lowered the stretcher to the ground beside one of the beds. Each of them wordlessly bent down to lift him onto the bed. Rose hurried forward. "Let me help," she said. She crouched at his feet and made to grab his legs, but one of the Efresian medics stopped her. "The ankle," he said.
"I know. I'll be careful."
"Don't jostle it," he said.
"I'll be careful," she repeated.
The medic nodded and she bent again and gently placed her hands under his ankles, trying to use her hand to stabilise his broken one. "On three," the medic said, his dark green eyes glancing around at all of them positioned around the Doctor's prone figure. "One…two…three…." Together they lifted, and as they did so his eyes snapped open and he shouted out in pain. He struggled and they quickly laid him down on the bed. Rose pulled her wet hair out of her eyes and looked at her companions.
"What do we do now? What's the water gonna do to him?"
The medic just looked at her and shook his head. "He has to ride this out," he said. "Make him drink…this." He rummaged about in one of the cabinets and pulled out a small bottle of what looked like blood. Rose took the bottle.
"How much of it?"
"All of it. He'll go into shock otherwise."
"I don't understand the question."
"When will he go into shock?"
The Efresian thought for a moment. "An hour? Just make sure he drinks it."
"And he'll get better, yeah?"
"He'll be fine."
Rose breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank you." She stood by the Doctor's bedside and watched as the six Efresians trooped out of the building. Two of the four who had been playing cards smiled at her as they left, and one stopped to shake her hand and invite her to visit with them when the Doctor was better. Then the door swung shut, and she was alone.
She lowered herself slowly onto the bed. The Doctor lay still beside her, having closed his eyes again when they placed him on the bed. His suit was soaked and filthy, and Rose bit her lip with hesitation before deciding that they really did need to come off if he was going to get warm. Funny, how much she had wanted to do this at various other times. Funny, how now she would do almost anything not to have to strip him. But first things first.
"Doctor," she said, giving his shoulder a light shake. He moaned and his head lolled on the pillow, but he did not answer. "Doctor."
He twitched and looked at her hazily through slits. "Mmf," he said.
"Doctor, do you know who I am?"
"You're Rose," he said. She smiled at him. A moment of lucidity.
"Doctor, you have to drink this." She showed him the bottle of thick red liquid.
"I don't think so," he said, looking at it with distaste.
"You have to. You'll go into shock otherwise. You have to drink it."
"No," he said petulantly, turning his head away, and Rose thought she could see the reality slipping from his eyes. She had to act quickly.
"Please, Doctor. Drink it for me."
He looked at her and it seemed to Rose as though he were struggling to make sense of things. Struggling to stay on the surface. "Why?" he asked.
"Because if you don't then you won't get well, and it will make me very sad."
"Am I ill?" he said.
"Yes. You're very ill and you need to drink this. Please."
He stared at her for a moment, unblinking, calculating, and then suddenly he chirped, "I'll do it for you. Don't be sad."
Rose smiled and unscrewed the top of the bottle. "Can you sit up a bit?" she asked.
"Blimey! I said I'd drink it! What more do I have to do?" he exclaimed, and shivered violently. She set the bottle down and pulled him up partway by his shoulders. He protested, but she ignored him. She held him up with one arm while with the other she took the bottle and poised it over his lips.
"Okay?" she said. He frowned and then nodded. She tipped the bottle to his mouth and he took a sip. Instantly he pulled back and made a face.
"Are you trying to poison me?"
"No, I'm not. It's medicine. You need to drink it, yeah?"
"I don't want to."
"Please, Doctor, please. It'll help you."
"I said no, Mummy!"
Tears stung Rose's eyes. She was losing him again. "Come on. Please drink it."
Rose took his face between her hands and gently turned it so that he was looking at her. She took a deep breath. "If you don't drink this, you'll die. I know it tastes bad, I know you don't want to, but I don't wanna lose you and this is all I ask. Just drink the medicine. Please."
The Doctor blinked. Taking advantage of his hesitation, she picked up the bottle once more and brought it to his lips. He didn't resist as she tipped the rest into his slightly open mouth, and she cupped a hand under his chin until she saw him swallow. Rose placed the bottle on the floor and pulled the Doctor against her, holding his head against her bosom. Tears were creeping down her cheeks. "Thank you," she whispered. She then remembered his wet clothing, and she pulled herself away and looked at him. She sighed at her impossible good luck: the medicine seemed to have quickly put the Doctor to sleep. Best to remove his clothing while he wasn't aware of it.
She glanced around the room and found a glass cabinet containing soft robes, pyjamas, and towels. She opened it and pulled out a pair of striped blue pyjamas, shut the cabinet door, and crept back to the Doctor's bed, praying that he wouldn't wake in the middle of this. She was trying not to imagine the embarrassment of being caught undressing him. She sat herself on the edge of his bed and loosened his tie, lifting his head up with one hand so she could slide the tie over it. She tossed this onto the floor before starting on the buttons of his jacket and then on the buttons of the white shirt beneath it. She peeled these off and, reaching his shoulders, lifted him again to remove them completely. While he was semi-upright, she slipped the pyjama top over his head and carefully pulled his arms through the sleeves. His wet shirt and jacket she left in a pile on the floor.
She inhaled deeply through her nose and glanced at his trousers. She really, really hoped he wouldn't wake up for this part. She wasn't sure how she was going to take the trousers off without jostling his ankle, but if she didn't then he would remain damp and cold.
She was just beginning to peel them off when there was a knock on the door and one of the medics entered. The shyer medic, as she recalled.
"Oh. Hello," Rose said.
"Hello," the medic replied. "I thought you could maybe use some help. Gosh, he went out fast, eh?" She indicated the unconscious Doctor.
"That was supposed to happen, right?" Rose asked nervously.
"Oh yes. Makes you sleep for about twenty minutes while it starts purging the system. Harmless side effect. Can I help you with that?"
Rose realised her hands were still on the Doctor's waistband, and she froze. "Oh," she stammered. "I thought—you know—it'd be better to get him out of his wet clothes. I'm not—" she laughed awkwardly, "—I'm not just strippin' him."
"Of course," said the medic sincerely. "I'm Hafna, by the way. If you feel too strange taking his clothes off, I can take over for you." Rose raised her eyebrows. "Medical professional," Hafna said pointedly, and Rose blushed and looked away.
"Right. Actually, that'd be lovely. Do you mind?"
"Not at all." Hafna confidently pulled the Doctor's trousers down to his knees, and Rose turned away to look at the wall. She didn't want her friendship with the Doctor getting weird if he knew she had seen his…well…. She could hear the snap of elastic as Hafna yanked down his underwear and the rustling of clothes. Within two minutes, Hafna piped up, "There. Dressed and dry. I'm just going to bind his ankle and then I'll leave you two alone. Anything else you need?" Rose shook her head and smiled with gratitude at the medic.
Hafna strode purposefully to one of the cabinets and removed a strange metal device that resembled a top hat with buttons. She carefully placed the Doctor's injured right foot within it and entered a sequence, and with a hiss the device billowed smoke and beeped rapidly. When she removed it, the foot and ankle were encased in a clean white cast.
"That's that." Hafna set the metal device down and turned to look at its handiwork. "Not bad. You'll holler if you need me, won't you?" Rose nodded, thanked her, and watched her exit the room once more. Rose then removed her own garments in privacy and changed into a smaller set of pyjamas. She again sat on the edge of the bed and observed the Doctor. His breathing was steady and calm, and though he was still pale he looked much better than he had before.
The sheets on the bed, interestingly, were completely dry when she felt them. Rose suspected this had something to do with the necessity of eternally dry cloth on the eternally wet planet. However they had managed to invent it, it was brilliant.
The Doctor stirred, and Rose watched as he began shaking again, more violently than before. She knew it wasn't a seizure, but it alarmed her nonetheless. She bent over him just as he opened his eyes. He saw her and opened and closed his mouth soundlessly a few times before stuttering, "R-R-Rose."
"Hey. I'm here." She smiled and took his hand, which he reached out to her.
"R-Rose, it's s-so c-c-cold."
"I'll get you a blanket, okay? You'll be fine." She stood and grabbed two of the soft blankets. She shook them out and laid them both over the shivering Time Lord, bringing them up to his neck. "Do you want me to tuck in the edges?" she asked.
"N-n-no. I want you t-t-t-to come here."
Rose looked at him. "I'm here, Doctor. I'm right here." She sat beside him again.
"G-get under the blankets?" he said pleadingly.
"Please," he chattered. "I'm so c-cold." Rose stood staring for a moment before lifting the covers and slipping under them. She scooted close to the Doctor and pulled the blankets higher. He still shook.
"Rose," he said through his chattering teeth.
"Can I h-hold you, please?"
Rose felt warmth shoot through her at the question. "'Course you can," she beamed. "C'mere." She snuggled up to him, put one hand on his chest, and rested her head under his chin. He wrapped his arms around her and she clutched him to her and they stayed that way for some time, listening to each other's heartbeats. After a while, the Doctor's shaking subsided and Rose thought his skin felt much warmer, but neither of them moved. It felt too good, resting in each other's arms. Having someone to hold. Being held. The Doctor realised it had been a terribly long time since he had held anyone, and as he held Rose he felt tears rise in his eyes but he fought them away. He had been so lonely and hadn't realised it. Absentmindedly, he began to run his fingers through her hair, and she closed her eyes and smiled.
They drifted off to sleep in each other's arms.
Rose woke and opened her eyes sleepily. She was nestled against the Doctor's chest, his arms around her, and she could hear him breathing steadily. He was asleep. She felt wonderfully content. Rose looked up at his face. How peaceful he looked…. She had never seen him looking like that. He rarely slept, and certainly not in front of her. Now his face was still and relaxed. No signs of the psychological scarring from the Time War. No pain etched into his features. His closed eyes showed no deep, hidden sadness. The sight of him like this made her simultaneously sad and happy. She thought her heart might burst from pity.
She hesitated, then reached a hand up to his face and tenderly brushed her fingers against his cheek. It was soft and warm. This impossible man who was real and warm beside her. The most impossible, impossible man. Before she met him, there were so many things she wanted. Seeing the universe, though…with him at her side…it was all so ridiculous. How could she want anything more than a continuation of her life with him, exploring the stars?
The Doctor shifted slightly in his sleep before settling down again. Rose gazed upon his face and then curled closer into him. Still asleep, he unconsciously clutched her tighter. She closed her eyes and went back to sleep.
When she woke for the second time that morning, she met the Doctor's gaze.
"Hello," he said, grinning.
"Hi," she said, returning his smile. "How're you feelin'?"
"Weak," he admitted. "Sluggish. Ankle's throbbing. Not hallucinating anymore though, which personally I'd say is a plus."
"Are you hungry? I'm starving."
"Famished," he said. "D'you reckon this planet imports bananas?"
"I would guess not," Rose said. The Doctor's face fell comically. Rose laughed. "Stay here. I'll see what I can do."
She returned within five minutes bearing a platter laden with food, courtesy of her kindly Efresian friends. There were no bananas, but there was a variety of cereals, fruits, and what looked like some kind of meat. As she entered, she glanced at the Doctor's face and halted in trepidation. He was looking at her in wide-eyed horror.
"What is it?" she said anxiously, thinking that his illness was creeping back.
"Rose," he croaked. "I'm not wearing underpants."
"We…er…we had to get you out of your wet clothes," Rose said, her hand rising nervously to her hair.
"No!" Rose said quickly. "No, Hafna—the medic—did that. Professionally. And then put the pyjama trousers on you." She cleared her throat. The Doctor's face was red by this point and Rose quickly busied herself with the tray of food, dragging a small table over to the bed and placing the tray on top of it.
"So," she said, pretending the Pants Discussion hadn't happened. "How're we gonna get back in the TARDIS?"
The Doctor pulled on his earlobe. "Er…."
"Tell me you have a plan," Rose said.
"Well, er, not so much a plan as…um…."
"You're kiddin' me."
"Wouldn't it be nice if you could just snap your fingers and the TARDIS door would open?" the Doctor said meekly.
"Funny," Rose said, looking less than amused.
"I'll think of something," he assured her. They ate their breakfast in silence, and then the Doctor groaned and stretched. "Right, I am getting out of this bed."
"Probably best if you don't," Rose said.
He raised his eyebrows. "Not even to reliiieeeve myself?" he said hintingly. Rose blushed. "If you prefer, I can wee in the bed," he quickly amended, following the statement with a sly smile to let her know he was joking.
"You are disgusting," she said.
"Yep," he said, popping the "p" and swinging his legs over the side of the bed. "Don't suppose there are any facilities…?" He looked around the room. "Not so much as a bedpan! What, do I do as the gods do?"
"Pee on innocent travelers and turn an entire planet to mush?"
"I was thinking more along the lines of doing it outside," he said, looking at her out of the corner of his eye.
Just then Hafna entered the building. "Good morning!" she said cheerfully. "Look who's up and about! How are you feeling today?"
"Much better than I was, with the exception of one small need…."
Hafna raised her eyebrows questioningly.
"Er…." The Doctor scratched his head in embarrassment. "Is there a bathroom?"
Hafna shrugged. "Do as the gods do," she said matter-of-factly. Rose snorted with laughter and covered her mouth with her hand, coughing to disguise the noise.
"Do you have a cold?" Hafna asked her sincerely, noting the cough. "I can get you some medicine for that."
"No," Rose said quickly. "Just…" she indicated her throat, "just, you know…bit of a scratch in my throat. I'm fine." The Doctor grinned cheekily at her over Hafna's shoulder, clearly enjoying her awkwardness. Rose wasn't going to let him get away with that taunting smile.
"Well, Hafna, thank you so much for helping me undress him last night." Rose smiled widely at the blue Efresian. With a brief glance at the Doctor she could see that he was quickly turning bright red again.
"No problem," Hafna said politely. "It was an interesting anatomy lesson." The Doctor was slowly curling into himself with horror.
"But—" Hafna continued, "—is it supposed to be that—"
"Oh my!" the Doctor practically shouted, springing to one foot and grabbing the nearby table for balance. "I'm going to take a brief stroll outside! Lovely weather. Just going out for a peek. Lovely to meet you," he said, deliberately avoiding looking at the Efresian medic. He began to hop forward on his left foot, his right held above the ground, but he had taken no more than five or six such hops before he lost his balance and stumbled. Rose jumped forward to catch him but was a moment too late, and his weight dragged her down to the ground with him.
"Oof," Rose said.
"Ow," the Doctor mumbled.
Hafna looked on, bemused. "Well, call for me if you need anything," she said, and exited the building. Rose clambered to her feet and held out her hands for the Doctor to take. She heaved him to his feet and once more tugged his arm around her shoulders.
"C'mon, then," she said, and with her assistance he hobbled to the doorway.
He looked at her warily. "Er…."
"Do you need me to help you pee?" she asked, feeling ridiculous but trying to sound as though it were a perfectly normal question.
"Um…. No. Just…don't listen, okay?"
Rose laughed. "Doctor," she said. "It's rainin' out. I won't be able to hear anythin' anyway. And I'm not gonna listen to you pee!"
"Right. See you in a bit," he said awkwardly, and stepped outside the door. Rose giggled to herself. To think that the mighty, invincible, universe-saving Doctor was having so much trouble relieving himself! It was too strange.
He returned wet and covered in grass up to his calves. "You were right," he said. "I'm starting to really hate this planet."
"No kidding," Rose muttered.
"I found something in the grass next to the building." He held up a small silver box.
"What is it?"
"I haven't opened it yet. Shall we?" He limped to the bed and sat down. Rose joined him. The Doctor dug his fingers into the groove around the box and pried it open. There, atop a folded piece of paper, was a TARDIS key.
"No way," Rose said, wide-eyed.
The Doctor lifted it to his eyes and examined it closely. "Definitely from the TARDIS," he said, turning it over.
"Looks like there's a note." Rose quickly removed the paper from the box and unfolded it. Her eyes widened. "Doctor, read this."
He peered over her shoulder. "'Doctor— You might want to keep a spare key on you. But for now, take this. Love, The Doctor and Rose.' That's my handwriting," he said.
"Yes! And then I…."
"And you left the note…."
"And I'll do it all over again!" he crowed, delighted with himself. "Oh, I am good."
"But how did you send this to yourself if you can't get in the TARDIS?"
"Ahh, time," he said. "It's more wibbley-wobbley than you know, Rose Tyler." He put his arm around her and pulled her close, laughing happily.
Later that day, they said goodbye to the Efresians and made their way back to the TARDIS, this time on a hired mule-like creature to save the Doctor from having to limp the whole way. They left Efresia without the slightest bit of regret for not having explored it more fully, as both had had quite enough of rain.
One hundred fifty-seven years later, the rain stopped, the sun came out, and the tourist industry boomed.