Author's Note:A special note of thanks to CIRaccon, whose simply gorgeous story, Becoming a wife. (the incredible sequel to In want of a wife.) inspired me to test the waters of the Victorian era in this one shot. :)
Disclaimer: I do not own anything in relation to Dr. Who.
It is a warm summer day with a soft blowing breeze that welcomes Rose and the Fifth Doctor to Lord Farnham's estate. The Doctor had been trying his best all week to impress Rose with the wonders of time travel but as usual, at least when it came to life with the Doctor, nothing had went according to plan.
In the past week alone, they had been thrown in jail, been sentenced to execution twice, and he still had to live down that slip of the tongue of what companion had meant in that one particular time period. He was steadfastly determined that today's outing would turn out differently.
They are presently standing in line patiently awaiting their turn to present their invitation to the butler with the aid of psychic paper. While they wait, the Doctor's gaze travels over the landscape and scans the various guests and members of staff where he notes with mild surprise that there is a maid that greatly resembles Rose in height, build and hair color.
He wonders briefly if there is any relation and then muses that if Rose were to style her hair just so that she could easily be the maid's twin. It is this thought that is foremost in his mind when he automatically moves up the line to stand before Lord Farnham's man servant and present his identification.
The butler reads aloud, "Doctor John Smith and his servant, Rose Tyler." He then lowers his tone to share with an astonished Doctor and Rose, "That is most considerate of you to offer your maid's services for the day seeing as we are so short handed this afternoon, Sir." With a haughty look directed at Rose he orders briskly, "The staff's entrance is around the back."
The Doctor is rendered absolutely speechless as Rose is promptly escorted by another member of staff to the servant's entrance and so it is with a final glare directed straight at the Doctor that she heads off to the back of the estate.
An hour later, Rose is sullenly laying out a white cricket outfit on the bed in the Doctor's guestroom and sarcastically inquires, "Is there anything else that his lordship requires? Perhaps a snack, a foot rub or some other sort of servile duty that would fall under a companion's services?"
The Doctor's eyes widen as he asks in a surprised tone, "Are you offering?"
"What?" Rose growls in sheer disbelief. "You had so better be having me on, mate!"
"What?" squeaks the Doctor while he crumples his hat between is hands as his mind rapidly searches for a way out of his latest dilemma. Seeing no such hope offered to him anytime soon, he begins apologizing profusely. "Ah, yes, yes, I was most definitely joking and in very poor taste at a time such as this. Yes, I'm sorry about that, very sorry in fact about everything, really. You see, you weren't meant to be a servant at all. In fact, you were going to be Dame Rose of the Powell Estates! It's obviously been a terrible error on my part, you see I was studying this maid and -"
"Excuse me?" hisses Rose, each word dripping like venom from her lips. "Is that why I'm here? To replace whatever bird that you happen to fancy from time to time? Or does this so called apology start getting better anytime soon?"
Before he can answer, there's a knock at the door and one of the noblemen is found standing at the entrance when the Doctor strides over to open the door. "Oh, I'm sorry to interrupt, old man, I didn't realize that you were conversing with your maid." He leans in conspiratorially and offers a sly wink. "Sorry about that old chap, I thought that I was saving you from a tongue lashing from the wife!"
He glances dismissively at Rose and suggests, "You had better hurry down to the kitchen, my dear. From what I gathered on the way up here, they are in desperate need for help down there." He turns back to the Doctor and begins to note, "So, I hear that you're an expert when it comes to playing cricket…"
The Doctor smiles appreciatively at the praise, only his eyes betraying the miserable state he finds himself to be wallowing in as he watches helplessly as Rose stalks off in a huff.
The party is in full swing and Rose is out on the lawn attending to the gentleman's refreshment table, ensuring that there are plenty of fresh glasses, tumblers and pitchers and decanters filled with a gentleman's preferred choice in beverage. During a brief lull where the guests are otherwise engaged, Rose takes a moment to survey the estate and its wide assortment of entertainment that their hosts are offering.
The cricket course has been laid out and recently mown, archery equipment placed in diverse areas of the grounds and several guests were seen to be playing either checkers or card games under the trees. She is brought back to her present surroundings when she hears a gentleman clearing his throat. She hurriedly pastes a smile of willing domesticity on her face before she looks up to find the Doctor standing before her in cricket attire and staring back at her with a sheepish expression.
Her smile is almost saccharine as she reaches out and fills a tumbler full of punch for him and casually remarks, "You're a brave one. Aren't you afraid that I'll slip something into your drink?"
He rocks back slightly onto his heels as he gazes optimistically at her. "I was rather hoping to curb any such inclination if I was standing right beside you." Rose's lips twitch as she reluctantly discovers that she's having extreme difficulty in holding back a smile much to the Doctor's great relief.
He hastens to add, "I was also hoping that you would be inclined to watch me play. Apparently, there's nothing like the attentive eye of a beautiful woman to bolster a man's skill on the cricket field."
Rose's tone reveals only a slight trace of annoyance when she replies, "As long as there's no one to serve, it shouldn't be any problem."
The Doctor's expression immediately changes to downcast and he pleads, "Rose, please forgive me for this mess, I am truly sorry about all of this." He stares around at the guests enjoying the various activities of the day before returning his gaze to Rose. "That was supposed to be you out there having the time of your life acting coquettish and flitting about like a social butterfly, not chained to some table dishing out food and drinks."
Glimpsing the kind expression she wore in her eyes and smile, both leaning towards forgiveness, he grins back at her and notes encouragingly. "Well, at least serving the refreshments will allow you to sample some more of the refined cuisine of the era; you seem to enjoy eating well enough."
So much for his feeling bad then,fumes Rose silently. "Oi! Are you calling me fat?"
The Doctor reels back in shock and shakes his head vehemently. "What? No! I did no such thing! In fact, if the truth be known, you're looking quite fit for someone of your age. Did you know that baby fat tends to cling to humans well into their mid-twenties? But on you, it's barely discernible! It must be due to all the running we do."
He grins appraisingly at her before taking a moment to savor the different flavors mixed together in the punch, therefore completely missing the look of fury on Rose's face as she mutters, "Unlike the running that you do, like running off at the mouth."
The umpire's voice rings out as he calls all of the cricket players out onto the field and the Doctor thrusts the tumbler into Rose's hand and waves over his shoulder to her while shouting, "Wish me luck!"
Two hours later, Rose is handing off a tray of dirty glasses to one of the waiting staff to take back into the house when a cricket ball suddenly flies through the air and lands directly in the puddle in front of her splashing mud all over her outfit and onto any exposed area of skin that is possible to reach.
The young waiter tuts in compassion and immediately offers her his handkerchief to remove the mud from her hands and face. Unaware of the misfortunate incident that has occurred, the Doctor jogs over to Rose in high spirits and boasts, "Rose Tyler! Did you see that hit? It was one of my better ones if I do say so myself!" She turns to face him with a gaze that should have swept back even the fiercest oncoming storm causing the Doctor to stop in mid stride and inquire curiously, "What happened to you?"
He finally takes note of the young man who has been kindly assisting her with her clean up and questions in a voice full of jealousy and disdain, "Don't you have somewhere else to be?" Nodding quickly and scampering off back to the house, the Doctor bears a look of extreme satisfaction until he meets one of pure anger from Rose that would be the equivalent of fire radiating from an exploding sun going supernova. "I take it there's a problem?" he queries weakly.
Rose continues to clean herself off as she ruefully informs him, "Well, I must admit that you've got balls, Doctor. Unfortunately, they're landing all over me." She uses her apron to brush off some of the larger mud patches off of her uniform before staring back at him wearily. "Are we done here now? Could we please just go?"
The Doctor's countenance is one of defeat but he gathers his courage and insists, "No, not yet, not until you know why we came here, why we've went everywhere that we have this week, despite the train wreck that each adventure has become!"
She stares at him worriedly, watching him pacing back and forth like a wild animal as he gathers his thoughts. When he finally halts to stand before her, his expression bleak, he quietly explains, "I was doing this for you. All of this," as he gestures towards the house and the grounds with a wave of his hand, "was all in a horribly misguided attempt to impress you."
She watches him intently, assuring herself that this isn't yet another misunderstanding; that he means what she hopes that he does, what she's wanted to hear him say since she first took his hand. "You wanted to impress me? Why not just compliment me like you do everyone else who does something wonderful in your eyes? Or take me to dinner or a movie or just plain chips? Why go to all of this bother?"
He gently removes the filthy handkerchief from her hand and replaces it with one of his own and begins to dab at her face. "Because words are not simply enough when it comes to you, Rose Tyler. I know five million languages and none of them contain any words that aren't too meager or dull when it comes to expressing the way I feel about you, the way I perceive you to be."
"And how is that?" she whispers, trapped in his gaze as she awaits his answer with baited breath.
"The only way that I have ever viewed you, Rose," he answers as honestly as he can, as though no other answer could ever be considered in response to this question. "I see you as the most incredible, loving, kind, compassionate and stunningly beautiful woman that I have ever had the privilege to know. You are a true lady, Rose Tyler, and I have wanted to reflect the admiration that I feel for you by showing you the type of treatment and honors that I feel that you deserve."
He wipes the last trace of mud away from her face. "Instead it's all went to crap." He is beyond pleasantly surprised when Rose laughs in that way that never ceases to lift his spirits and makes his hearts soar, unrestrained and full of heart and joy.
She places her hand in his and confesses, "You do that every day, Doctor, with every look," she gives his hand a firm squeeze of reassurance, "and every touch. Never doubt that."
He breathes a sigh of relief and they remain caught in each other's gazes until a gasp of shock is heard from directly behind them. They turn as one to find an elderly woman approaching the table with her husband in search of refreshments.
"Well, I never!" spits the woman.
"I don't doubt it," grumbles Rose at the woman's unwelcome interruption.
"A servant and a member of high society intermingling is always cause for a scandal, Rose." His grin is mischievous as he poses, "How do you feel about giving them something to really gossip about?"
The teasing tongue poking out between her teeth is all of the reply that he needs and the Doctor promptly drops down onto one knee before her as he tightens his grip on her hand and draws it to his chest. "Miss Rose Tyler, would you do me the honor of escorting me to the nearest dining establishment for a sumptuous repast of chips smothered in vinegar?"
"Why, Doctor Smith," purrs Rose in her most seductive voice, "I thought that you'd never ask."
Grinning madly at each other like a pair of love struck teenagers, the Doctor swiftly rises to a standing position, tips his hat to the elderly couple and catches Rose's eye, leading them to simultaneously shout, "Run!"
They hurriedly take off across the lawn at a mad pace and they don't stop running or laughing until the TARDIS is in their sight. "After you, Dame Rose," declares the Doctor as he bows before her when they reach the front door.
"You are most kind, Sir Doctor of TARDIS," returns Rose breathlessly as they head inside the ship.
He rapidly sets the desired coordinates on the console and instructs her, "Now, I want you to head straight to your room, enjoy a luxurious bath and then put on your poshest frock for a night out that you will never forget!"
Beaming at him with the prospect at what is possibly to come from this new aspect at their relationship, Rose leans up and kisses his cheek before heading off to her room. She's halfway down the hall when he calls out to her, only slightly deflating the cloud that she's been walking on with his most unexpected question.
"Oh, Rose, by the way," he questions fretfully as he rubs the back of his neck, "would you happen to have any money on you?"