Summary: Much to Turlough's disgust, Tegan and the Doctor are fighting again. So what else is new? A session in the spa answers that question quite spectacularly.
A/N: Five/Tegan (Fivan, anyone?) smutty fluff. I own nothing, BBC et al own everything, blah, blah, blah. I don't usually do the "story soundtrack" thing, but in this case music pretty much drove the story. Tina Turner's "What's Love Got To Do With It?", Christina Aguilera's "Genie in a Bottle" and Britney Spears' "Break the Ice" were all running through my mind at various points during the writing of this. (That last thanks to a lovely Five/Tegan youtube video set to that song - thanks for the inspiration, sss979!)
"What is the Doctor's problem?!"
Turlough doesn't bother answering what is clearly a rhetorical question as Tegan continues to rage around the ancillary library, slamming the handful of books she's snatched from his arms onto the table. He's been re-shelving titles the three TARDIS travelers have left scattered about and doesn't appreciate Tegan interrupting him in order to have a temper tantrum.
She'd wrested the books away from when he'd tried to ignore her angry entrance into the overcrowded room, but Tegan is no good at allowing herself to be ignored, and even though they've settled into a kind of wary friendship, or at least armed truce, the last few months, there are times when she still treats him like she still consider him a brat.
Times such as this.
"Why can't we just have a civilized dinner like anyone else without him doing his best to drive me insane?"
Ah, so it is the Doctor's clipped, sarcastic and yes, downright mean comments at dinner that have her back up this time.
Not that he can blame her; he still feels a bit put out at the Doctor himself, having been the target of some of those sarcastic, mean comments, although definitely not the main target. No, that dubious honor belongs Tegan, there's no doubt about that.
Of course, Tegan seems to have the unerring ability to crawl under the Doctor's skin and lodge herself there like a tick, so perhaps she shouldn't be complaining when he does the same to her.
Come to think of it, no one else seems to get under the Doctor's skin like she does; certainly not himself, not even back in the bad old days when he'd been the Black Guardians unwilling would-be assassin. Nor had Nyssa before she trotted off to help the plague-ridden at the side of a giant, two-legged rat.
That thought gives him an inkling as to the cause of the Doctor's disgruntlement and he opens his mouth without thinking and blurts out his opinion to Tegan. "I expect he's still upset about Nyssa leaving."
Tegan has finished her initial rant and plopped down into one of the room's three overstuffed lounge chairs, arms crossed over her chest, eyes fixed moodily on the cheerful blaze in the fireplace as if its mere presence is a deliberate affront. After the words leave his mouth, she moves her head, tilting it to one side as she gives him a withering look. "Oh, really? I hadn't noticed."
Oops. He's spoken of Nyssa's leaving a bit too casually for Tegan, who obviously misses her friend as much as – if not more than – the Doctor.
Still, if she misses Nyssa, then why doesn't it occur to her that the Doctor must as well? "We all miss her," he tries again, but Tegan doesn't appear in the mood for sympathy or even an explanation for the Doctor's unfriendly behavior at dinner.
She practically launches herself out of the chair, spitting something at him about how the only person he could ever miss would be himself, then storms out of the room in as great a huff as she'd first entered it.
He stares after her for a moment, then sighs and returns to re-shelving the books. Nyssa is gone, of her own free will. She's found her calling in life, her passion, so why are the others still so bloody upset about it? People leave; the TARDIS is more like a hotel than a permanent residence for anyone but the Doctor. Tegan herself left once before, after spending her entire first voyage on board the TARDIS caterwauling to be brought home from what he's gathered, so why all the drama now?
With a mental shrug, Turlough puts the entire unpleasant incident from his mind. The Doctor is out of sorts, Tegan is out of sorts, and he just wants to stay far away from both of them until they've, well, sorted themselves out.
This can't continue. The Doctor paces the Console Room, hands clasped behind his back. His coat is hung neatly on the coat rack that stands unobtrusively off in the corner, and he pulls off his jumper and tosses over the top of the coat, feeling cross and hot and definitely out of sorts.
All because of one Tegan Jovanaka.
What is it about her, why does she continually seem to rub him the wrong way, and he, her? Oh, she is much less angry this go round, having invited herself back on board the TARDIS without so much as doing him the courtesy of asking if it would be acceptable, but Nyssa had been so pleased to have her friend back that he found he had no objections to offer.
But she hadn't asked. She'd assumed, breezed back on board, no longer the semi-traumatized, hysterical young air hostess who'd been virtually hijacked by his TARDIS because of the Master's machinations. Since then, he admits, she's been much easier to get along with, so much happier, and her first few months back have actually been…rather pleasant, although she makes him uneasy just by being near him, and he still can't put his finger on why, exactly, that is.
It was easy to ignore while Nyssa was still on board, acting as something of a buffer between them, keeping the friction to a minimum with her soothing personality. Even after Turlough joined them, Tegan had been bearable, although her suspicions and dislike of the boy were grating.
The fact that she'd been proven correct hadn't helped, either. But that's all sorted now; she and Turlough mostly exist in a state of truce, things have settled into a new routine, a new dynamic…and then Nyssa had to go and spoil it by leaving.
Not that he blames her. She'd been at loose ends since Adric died, grasping for some larger purpose to her life after all the loss she'd sustained even before that – loss of home planet and family and the constant, grating reminder of the Master running about wearing her father's body like a borrowed suit. Her leaving is actually a good thing, good for her, anyway, he can admit when feeling charitable. She needs people to look after, a place to live out her life and feel some sort of stability, and she's found it on that plague ship.
And now they are all feeling her loss.
Well, he and Tegan are; Turlough wasn't nearly as close to her as they were and consequently isn't missing her as much.
Not that the Doctor is in the habit of admitting to missing anyone who leaves his ship to go off on their own. Adric had claimed he wanted to do the same thing just before he died; said he'd wanted to go home to E-Space.
And then Nyssa and Tegan had both informed him, on separate occasions and for separate reasons – sympathy and accusation, respectively – that the boy had admitted to wanting to do the calculations to bring him home only as an academic exercise. That he'd intended to stay, was just feeling left out and ignored and didn't really want to leave.
Not that it mattered. One way or the other, he is gone.
One way or the other, they all leave him eventually.
He makes a disgusted sound; why in Rassilon's name are his thoughts turning so maudlin? He must be getting old. There is nothing for it; he decides he needs a nice, relaxing session in the TARDIS spa. Time to himself, time away from the others, allowing them some time away from him as well, since he knows very well who was the instigator of the row at the dinner table, a row which Turlough had kept himself mostly out of by shoveling food in his mouth and bolting as quickly as possible after chewing and swallowing his last bite.
Not that he plans to apologize or admit fault, certainly not to Tegan. She drives him insane and since he can no longer entirely blame it on her poor attitude, he must try to root out the cause of his unease around her, the vague sensation of having a constant itch that cannot be scratched or even properly identified.
To the spa, then.
After pacing the corridors a bit, trying to work off her restless irritation, Tegan finds herself in the TARDIS spa room. She almost backs out, then changes her mind. A good soak will be lovely, she decides. She so rarely gets time to herself these days, and if one of the others shows she'll tell them to sod off. Not that Turlough would even consider making use of such an unhygienic thing as a communal hot tub, fastidious little snot that he is, so it's really only the Doctor who might show up. But it's highly unlikely and she dismisses the possibility from her mind.
She checks out the adjoining changing room and finds a single woman's bikini hanging on a hook alongside a pair of white dressing gowns and some colorful men's swim trunks. She shrugs; nothing wrong with a bikini, although she generally prefers a one-piece. Still, it isn't worth trudging to the wardrobe room and back again, not when she is already here, and not when the bikini looks like it will fit her perfectly.
Which it does. How does the TARDIS know? she wonders, not for the first time. If it is actually reading her mind she would think it would be able to provide her with the type of swimsuit she actually prefers. Since that isn't the case, she supposes it just has her measurements stored somewhere. How else to explain the number of outfits she finds in the wardrobe room that fit her perfectly whenever she's in the mood to try out new clothes?
"At least someone on this bucket pays attention to how I look," she grumbles to herself as she strips off her clothing, kicking it aside in a heap in the corner, where it comes to rest half-hidden beneath the bench built into the side wall of the small room. Laundry is never an issue on the TARDIS; take off your dirty things, pile them up or leave them lying, and the next day they appear in your dresser or hanging on the rack, neat and clean and freshly pressed.
All part of the friendly service.
Too bad the owner isn't as eager to please as his time machine…
Tegan cuts that thought off sharply. The Doctor has made it quite clear on more than one occasion by his complete lack of reaction to the sight of her legs or chest or entire self clad in a gorgeous Edwardian gown that he has nil interest in her body.
And why should he? She's little more than a pet to him at best, barely sentient, a yappy dog running round his trouser leg and jumping up on him to get his attention…
With an exclamation of disgust she puts that image firmly out of her mind. The Doctor doesn't think of her as a pet, annoying or otherwise; he thinks of her as a friend, a comrade in arms, nothing less…and certainly nothing more.
Which, of course, is the problem. Her problem, not his. It's part of the reason she tweaks him as much as she does; if she can't get his attention the way she wants it, the way she craves it, she can at least make sure he can never forget she's around.
And when he tweaks her back, it's strictly out of irritation, like tonight. Oh, sure, she'd acted like she didn't know why he was so twisted up at dinner, had tried to distract herself by going out of her way to annoy Turlough, but in the end, it all comes down to one thing: Nyssa is gone, and he isn't going to admit to missing her any more than he would admit to missing Adric after he was…no longer with them.
No, say it, Tegan. After he died. You're not allowed to smooth over it, not even after all this time. Not even inside your own head.
Which she needs desperately to get out of before it explodes. She ties the bottom strings of the bikini top around her back, then lifts the two triangles of vibrant blue fabric up and over her breasts, ducking her head a bit in order to reach behind her neck to the tie the top part. Then she steps into the bottoms, surveying herself in mirror – everything on straight, good – and nods. The only thing left to do is grab a towel and go for a nice, long soak.
And try for God's sake to forget about how much you want him…
A/N 2: Hope you enjoy. This story is already complete and so will be posted fairly rapidly. I think technically it could have been a one shot but I wanted to break it up just a teeny bit. R&R always welcome!