Leah (professor_spork) wrote in then_theres_us,
Leah
professor_spork
then_theres_us

Set Me On Fire, AU Ten/Rose, (pg-13)
“I’ve no idea what you’re talking about,” he says through a mouthful of cheeseburger. As always, he chews with his mouth wide open—like a toddler. (She finds the most ridiculous things about him sexy. It’s mortifying.) 3,414
A/N The long-awaited (?) sequel to Feeling Electric, which you should definitely read first if you haven't.


Inspired by "Home" by Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, and "My Favorite Book" by Stars.

( Feeling Electric -- Set Me On Fire -- Pins and Needles Part 1 -- Part 2 -- Static )


Before, if you’d asked her, Rose Tyler probably would have said she liked kissing well enough. But liking, especially when coupled with such a sad modifier as enough, feels terribly inadequate when applied to this.

She’d been so deprived before she met this mouth.

And she knows that this is the last thing she should be thinking about. She should probably be focusing on “ow, the pain” or saying something like “when I said it stings a bit I meant get me to the hospital you pinstriped idiot” or doing pretty much anything else in the universe that isn’t what she’s actually doing—namely, making out with her best friend on the forest floor, and letting his hand slide under her shirt when it’s perfectly within the realm of possibility that she has, like, a bruised rib or something. (She’s no expert, but she thinks “hurts to the touch” is probably not a good sign.)

She’s scratched and aching all over, the ground is rough against her shins and there’s a sharp stick slowly but surely embedding itself in the small of her back, but it doesn’t matter because all she can think about is the Doctor’s lips, and his hands, and his stupidwonderful boy smell—the sweet industrial scent of his soap; tree sap and sweat from their climb—and coming up with a way to phrase the sentence “I think you can call me Rose now” to which he won’t be able smirk at her and reply, “What are you, a walking cliché?”

(She’s not doing very well on that front, though, as every time she remotely approaches coherency he finds something new to do with his tongue, and then it’s nothing but oh and please and yes and she loses her train of thought all over again. Normally she’d hold herself to a slightly higher standard, but she’s waited so long for this that she can’t fault him for his terrible timing.)

“You scared me,” he admits to the crook of her neck between kisses, and her brain jolts back to life. She pulls away.

“Doctor—”

“Oh. Am I still the Doctor, then?” he asks, blurrily. He’s dazed and rumpled and she feels a surge of fierce pride. She did that.

“Always,” she says, fondly adjusting his tie and collar into some semblance of order. “But I think… I think I can be Rose now.”

He frowns. “But… you’re supposed to be my sidekick,” he points out, failing to mask the whine in his voice, and she bites her lip to keep herself from laughing at him.

“I am!” she insists. “I’m just… I can’t make out with you and have you calling me Bad Wolf.”

“Yet I’m still the Doctor.”

Yes. S’like… what’s that one Emerson line…?” (If it were anyone else, she wouldn’t even try, but the Doctor knows everything about everything.)

“What Emerson line?”

“About… y’know… contradictions?”

He raises an eyebrow. “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes?”

“That’s the one!”

“That’s Walt Whitman. Honestly, Rose, I—wait.” He pauses, only just now registering what she said. “This is going to be a regular occurrence?”

“You said it again,” she points out, grinning wolfishly. The last of her self control crumbles at his adorably befuddled expression—she falls into him, and he receives her with open arms.

“Yep,” he squeaks when they finally part. “Still got it.”

-

“I don’t see why you’re so upset about this,” she grits through clenched teeth as he helps her walk back to his car. (He’d tried to do the gallant thing and carry her, but was rather disappointed to discover that he lacked the upper-body strength. He blamed it on the tree-climbing.)

“It’s our thing! Our superhero thing! It’s what makes us…” he trails off, not wanting to say something so hackneyed as special. “It was practically Rule One of our friendship.”

“I thought that Rule One of our friendship is that you’re always wrong, because Batman is infinitely superior to Superman?”

“I’ll let that one slide because you’re injured. The fall must’ve rattled your brains.”

“I think it rattled yours. You’re the one who called me Rose. Twice.”

Four times, he corrects to himself. “Well, yes, but—”

“And anyway, it doesn’t break our rule. It worked for Donna Troy, after all.”

“It also works for Jimmy Olsen.”

She squeals in protest and twists around to smack him, sacrificing her equilibrium. They both stumble as she trips and he stretches to catch her.

“Whoa!” he laughs, regaining his footing and swallowing down his adrenaline rush. “You okay?”

“Yeah,” she gasps, leaning into him perhaps more than is strictly necessary. “Thanks.”

“Absolutely no problem whatsoever,” he beams. “And look—there’s the car!”

She intertwines their fingers and rests her head on his shoulder. “Take me somewhere amazing.”

He grins down at her. “I know just the place. Allons-y!” he cries, yanking her forward.

(“OW! Jesus!”

“Sorry.”)

-

The diner, they find, is a lot more fun under their new circumstances. Nothing’s really changed—he still orders a banana milkshake, she still orders a Shirley Temple—but then she notices the way he stares at her mouth when she sucks on a maraschino cherry; then he remembers he’s allowed to stare. They grin stupidly at each other.

“I think we should name the station wagon,” she says, running her foot up his leg to distract him from the way she winces every time she lifts her arm above shoulder-height. (He’d threatened to take her to the emergency room, which… she’s fine, honestly. Just a bit banged up.)

He stops playing with the wrapper of his straw to raise an eyebrow at her. “Missing codenames already, are we?”

“I just think it’s astonishing we haven’t yet. I mean, we could call her—”

“If you say The Doctormobile I am walking out and leaving you here.”

“—something… really… clever… and original?”

“I called my last car Bessie,” he admits thoughtfully, and it’s two minutes before she can breathe again. “Don’t die!” he advises, relishing her helpless laughter. “It could ruin your whole day.” (And he’s absolutely not thinking of slippery hands and cracking branches and how fragile she is with her eyes closed.)

She wipes at her damp cheeks with the heel of her palm, still giggling. “You made me ruin my makeup,” she accuses. “I look like a drowned raccoon.”

“Yeah, but like, a really cute, animated, Disney raccoon. Not the normal kind that… that… scares the dickens out of you on the highway and roots through trash.” At her look, he hastens to add, “—though I’m sure you’d look absolutely fetching doing that, too. Oh look! Our food is here!”

She smirks at him. “Convenient, that.”

“I’ve no idea what you’re talking about,” he says through a mouthful of cheeseburger. As always, he chews with his mouth wide open—like a toddler. (She finds the most ridiculous things about him sexy. It’s mortifying.)

“I still want to name the car,” she says, idly stirring her Alpha-bits.

“Oh, right! What about—”

“If you say Bessie 2.0, I’ll walk out and leave you here.”

He shrugs, pouring a sinful amount of ketchup over his fries. “You’re the one with the building blocks of the English language right in front of her. I’m just enjoying my cheeseburger.”

A smile blooms as she glances down at her bowl in understanding; she looks back up at her through her lashes, mischief in her eyes. “D’you dare me to?”

“Oh, I wouldn’t dare not to.”

Kicking him under the table, she digs her spoon into her cereal and dumps its contents onto her napkin.

They stare.

“… I am not naming my car Astrid,” he declares after a moment. “That’s a name for, like… an intergalactic waitress in hooker boots, or something.”

She raises an eyebrow.

He grins sheepishly. “I have a very active imagination.”

“Filled with waitresses in hooker boots?”

“I’m sure she’s a very nice girl! But anyway, not a good name for the car.”

“Here, let me,” says Rose, rearranging the letters. He watches her curiously.

“Tardis?” he reads, when she settles. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“No; TARDIS. Like an acronym.”

“What does it stand for?”

“I don’t know yet.”

He thinks: I love you.

She tilts her head in thought, focused on the napkin. “Totally awesome… radical…”

“—driver in suit?” he completes with a grin.

“Veto.”

“Why? It’s thematically relevant.”

“It should be about us—not how impressive you think you are.”

“Oh, Rose,” he says, shaking his head wearily, “How many times must we go over this? I don’t think I’m impressive. I know.”

“Stop distracting me,” she accuses with a smile.

“Right. Naming. Very important business. So the R stands for Rose?”

“Only if the D stands for Doctor. But that’s not what I meant. Not really. I mean we could make it a sentence. About… us. What we do.”

“All I do in that car is kidnap you.”

She grins. “Exactly.”

He reaches into the inside pocket of his jacket for his glasses; nudging them on with one hand, he reaches the other towards Rose. “Pen?” he asks, studying the Alpha-bits intently.

She digs around in her purse until she finds one and hands it to him without a word. Tongue sticking out in concentration, he starts scribbling on his own napkin, cheeseburger forgotten.

“Don’t I get to help?” she asks, amused.

He waves a hand dismissively. “You’ve helped enough; I’m just finishing what you started. Brilliantly, if I might add. Not to mention, you wouldn’t be able to hold the pen properly—don’t look at me like that, I know you hurt your arm. Honestly, Rose, you aren’t even eating. After this, hospital. No arguing.” He says all this so fast and so matter-of-factly that she can’t even be annoyed at him. Kind of. “Almost… got it…—HA!” he crows, slamming a fist on the table. Grinning in triumph, he holds up the napkin for her to see. Under several crossed out attempts, it reads: Travel Avec Rose; Do Interesting Stuff!

She bites her tongue in mirth. “Wouldn’t be you without some unnecessary French, would it?”

He raises his eyebrows in mock offense, causing his glasses to slide down. “Well, what else was I supposed to put there? Nothing else made sense.”

Nothing,” she repeats, and he can tell she’s laughing at him but he has no idea why.

“Not a single word,” he nods gravely.

“Not even, say, ‘accompanying?’”

He blinks; she reaches out to catch his glasses before they can fall into the puddle of ketchup on his plate.

(Sometimes he thinks it’s a miracle he survived so long without her.)

-

Life goes on; they spend their weeks working and their weekends adventuring in the newly-christened TARDIS. She learns that he loves it when she runs her fingers through his hair; he learns that she’s got a ticklish spot behind her left knee. Once, and only once, she calls him by his actual name; it’s so bizarre for the both of them that she never attempts it again. They talk about everything—even the things they probably shouldn’t.

(“But you must believe in something,” she’d insisted, after a too-long, too-personal argument about the existence of God.

“Of course I do,” he’d agreed, looking her straight in the eye. “I believe in you.”)

This is how he doesn’t say the words he all too often thinks. He talks around them, in metaphors and synonyms and platitudes that would seem fake coming from anyone else. He thinks—he hopes—she knows.

On one completely unremarkable rainy Friday morning, she sends him a text message:

I have the house to myself for the day; Mom just left for a spa retreat. Come over?


-

“Welcome to my Batcave,” she grins, swinging the door to her bedroom open wide.

He bumps her shoulder with his. “Not your Fortress of Solitude?”

“Hardly alone with you around, am I?”

“I suppose,” he agrees. He takes a good look around. “It’s very… pink,” he notes, doing a poor job of masking his distaste.

She shakes her head, smiling. “First time upstairs alone with me, and you want to talk about the décor. Of course.”

He blinks. “What else would we talk about?”

“Nothing. I dunno. It’s just… sometimes I doubt it’s possible for you to be a human male.”

“And what’s that supposed to mean?” he asks, distracted.

Nothing. Just, I didn’t exactly invite you up here to—”

“What is this?” he laughs, delightedly reaching for the mangled head of a stuffed… he honestly can’t even identify the animal it’s supposed to represent.

She has the grace to look slightly embarrassed. “That’s the Face of Boe.”

“And… what happened to the rest of Boe?”

“Long story.”

“Involving?”

“A Satsuma and this guy my mom used to date.”

“Pass,” he says, wrinkling his nose. She steps closer to him, and he turns spastically to the rest of her stuffed animals, making a sweeping gesture with his hand. “Well, aren’t you going to introduce me to the rest of the gang? It’s like a little wildlife reserve in here. Or a zoo. Or—ooh! An ark. Have you got two of each? It’s not raining that hard—”

She silences him by enveloping his mouth with hers; she has to stand on her tip-toes to reach properly. He kisses her back, but she can tell his heart’s not in it—the muscles in his shoulders are tense; his grip weak.

“You alright?” she asks, leaning her forehead against his and nuzzling his nose in an Eskimo kiss.

“Oh, I’m always alright,” he says, flashing a brief, fake smile. His eyes drift back to the stuffed animals. “Which one’s your favorite?”

Staying flush against him, she unwraps one arm to grab at one of the plush toys.

“Oh,” he breathes. He recognizes it—from her Bad Wolf days. A little fuzzy dog he’d won for her at the arcade. (They’d named it Rose.)

“Yeah.”

“But that’s—that’s cheating,” he says, his smile becoming a little more genuine. “I mean, which one’s always been your favorite?”

After a moment’s consideration, she decides, “This one. Arthur.”

“Brilliant name for a horse. In fact, I—oh. Hi,” he chokes as she slowly runs her hands up his chest. “How—how are you?”

 “Why are you so nervous?” she asks gently, eyes searching. “S’just me.”

“Nervous? Me? I don’t—”

“Doctor!”

His shoulders slump. “It’s just that… I’ve never…” he glances at her bed and swallows visibly.

Oh.”

“Yeah.”

“…really?”

“Shut up!”

“Sorry, that’s not how I—it’s just that… you’re so… I dunno.” Appalled at her inability to finish a sentence, she tries again. “I thought you would’ve…”

“Nope.”

“Don’t get mad, I’m not trying to be—I’m just curious. Can I ask…?”

“Okay,” he chuckles, and his good humor gives her courage.

“Why haven’t you?”

He shrugs. “I was waiting.”

“What for? Marriage?”

He looks at her seriously. “For you, apparently.”

Her last coherent thought for the next several minutes is that if he expected her to keep her hands to herself after that, he’s a much sillier man than she thought. She unbuttons his jacket and lets it slide to the floor; her hoodie and his tie soon follow. Shoes are kicked off as they trip onto the bed, and all of a sudden they’re quite thrillingly horizontal.

“Rose,” he pants, and she stills immediately.

“S’okay,” she whispers, stroking his cheek with familiar fingers. “Tell me to stop, and I will.”

“No, I—um.” He grins helplessly at her.

“What?”

 “We’re really doing this!” he laughs, and something in her chest tightens at his genuine, innocent enthusiasm.

“I know!” she says, giggling with him, and they hug before resuming their decidedly less pure pursuits.

He loses himself to her—the softness of her hair and the smoothness of her skin and the dizzy falling sensation of her hips on his. Her hands blaze trails across him and all over, drawing constellations into his skin that he can see behind his eyelids, and when they dip below his waistband he feels as though he’s been set on fire.

His mistake is opening his eyes.

Rose,” he gasps as the gravity of how wrong this is hits him, “I—we don’t—we have to—stop!

She springs away immediately, curling in on herself at the foot of the bed. “Sorry,” she whispers, terrified, and he watches her eyes become guarded and blank as she masks her hurt in order to make him feel better. (It’s a look he’s well acquainted with.) He wonders for the thousandth time what he ever did to deserve her, and tries to catch his breath.

“No no no! I’m sorry, I’m so sorry; it’s not that,” he soothes, reaching for her hand. “I promise it’s not. It’s just…”

What, Doctor?”

He clears his throat and glances to their right. “…the Face of Boe is staring at us.”

-

They spend the rest of the day in bed. There are a lot of apologies (on his part) and several unintended bruises (on hers; hence his apologies), a lot of laughter between them and very few breaks for anything but lunch. (“I’m sorry,” she’d said with a smirk after he’d suggested a short breather, guiding his hand down her stomach to points unknown, “Did you have someone better to do today?”)

All in all, it was rather exhausting.

From his spot on her bed, he has a perfect view of the moon through her window. It’s a small but undeniable sliver shy of being full, which seems only fitting. (Still a truly rubbish wolf, after all this time.)

“I should go,” he murmurs, stroking her back. (He doesn’t say: I should go home, because that’s absolutely not what he means.) She’s silent, but for her gentle breathing. He shakes her. “Rose.”

“Mmmm?”

“Don’t fall asleep yet,” he says fondly. “I have to go. Your mom will be back in the morning. She can’t find me here.”

“Yeah. Kay.”

He smiles. “That means you have to get off me.”

“Oh. Right.” She settles further into him. “Am I up yet?”

“Nope.”

“How ‘bout now?”

“Nuh uh.”

“Sorry; too much effort. I guess you’ll… jus’… havtastay…” she mumbles, drifting off. He brushes her hair off her forehead.

“Sweet dreams.”
 
“…love you…” she breathes, cuddling into his chest.

He kisses the crown of her head. “Quite right, too.”

He can feel her frown into his skin, and she hitches herself up on her elbows to give him a peeved look. Her eyes are still drowsily half-closed, her hair is a mess, and he can’t help it—he laughs, suddenly full to bursting with affection for this sex-rumpled, pink-and-yellow girl. “Does it really need saying?” he asks, infinitely amused.

She pokes him in the rib, more awake by the second. “Yes!”

“Okay, okay. I’m sorry. Rose Tyler, I—”

Downstairs the front door clicks, and everything freezes as the sound of a key turning in a lock echoes, amplified, through her whole room.

“Is that your mother…?” he hisses; his voice gets drowned out by the unmistakable voice of Jackie Tyler shouting from the front hall.

“Rose? I’m home early! Where are you, sweetheart?”

Suddenly not the least bit sleepy, Rose leaps off of him, grabbing him by the hand. “We’re not home!” she says, pushing him towards the closet.

“But the TARDIS—”

“We went on a walk.”

“But my suit—”

Whipping her head back, she sees his unmistakable pinstripes crumpled on the floor. Cursing, she runs back and kicks it under her bed—with an urgent “go go go go go go,” she gets the closet door closed behind them just as Jackie enters.

“Rose…?” she calls, looking around.

Seeing the Doctor’s lips twitch, Rose shoves her hand over his mouth, her eyes a warning: do not laugh. He crushes his palm against her lips in retaliation.

“Where is that girl?” wonders Jackie. And then, miraculously, she’s gone.

Rose heaves a sigh of relief and leans against her wall. “Never a dull day at the Tyler household.”

He grins and wraps her in a hug. Squished into him as she is, she just barely hears him whisper against her hair, “I’m so glad I met you.”

She presses her smile into the hollow of his neck. “Me, too.”
Tags: :professor_spork, challenge 36
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  • (no subject)

    Awake, TenII/Rose, PG It is 4:17 a.m., and the Doctor has been standing awkwardly in the center of his bedroom for the past nine minutes. 1,169…

  • (no subject)

    Jump, Rose/Doctor, PG At some point she forgot how to be Rose Tyler without him, and now there are all these bits and pieces of her scattered…

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    Orbit, Ten II/Rose (PG-13) The universe is smaller here. 638 The universe is smaller here. Colorful kites form constellations against the sky;…