“Honestly Rory, I’m fine. Completely and totally, absolutely fine. You can stop fussing.”
“Doctor, you’re blue.”
“So what? Blue is a very f-f-fetching colour. I think b-b-blue looks nice on me. Fashionable. Just ask the T-T-TARDIS. B-b-blue is g-g-good on me.”
“I’m allowed to shiver. Shivering is c-c-cool.”
He was being an idiot, but that was nothing new Rory thought. Only the Doctor would spend twenty minutes under ice deactivating a bomb and then come up, soaking wet, into a bloody great freezing storm, and stand there with icicles hanging off his chin claiming to be fine.
Rory wished Amy was there. She could smack the Doctor for him. Rory would do it himself, except, in his mind, ice-cube Doctor fell pretty clearly into the non-hittable-under-any-circumstance-no-matter-how -infuriating category of patient. Amy, however, was off enjoying the weather-protected hot springs, happily oblivious to the whole bomb the spa planet plot.
Probably she’d give both of them a smack for that later. For being left out of the fun.
Never mind. Matters at hand.
“Into the TARDIS with you,” Rory said, sort of prodding the Doctor along. The wind struck at them brutally and Rory was glad to get inside and out of it. The Doctor was walking stiffly and the ice on his hair and clothing sort of tinkled as he went. He wasn’t shivering as hard now and that worried Rory.
“You okay?” he asked the Doctor. They were both in the console room. It was warmer in there than Rory remembered, but maybe that was just the contrast from the storm. Or the bulky survival gear Rory was wearing. Everything was steaming up.
“Mmmm…” said the Doctor, sort of leaning against the console. “M’bit tired. Nothing to worry about Rory. Rory my man. I’m better at cold than you are. Good at holding my breath too.”
“You scared me to death,” said Rory. “I was convinced you were dead.”
“Mmmph,” said the Doctor. His eyes were drifting closed. “I’m hard to kill.”
Rory was under his arm in an instant, hoisting him back up. The Doctor was freezing. Rory was wearing gloves and a thick survival suit, but the Time Lord seemed to be radiating cold. His movements were stiff and drowsy.
“Steady there,” said Rory, adjusting himself so that he wouldn’t fall over if he needed to take the Doctor’s full weight. “We’re going to get you warmed up now. Got it?”
The Doctor made another sleepy grunt. Rory helped him stagger down the steps and through the first door he could find. The room on the other side was even warmer and had a nice steaming tub on one side and a big bed cover in a ridiculous amount of pillows and quilts and comforters on the other. In between there was a rack of heated towels and pyjamas.
Rory steered the Doctor over to the bed and sat him down. The Doctor sat and sort of blinked at him.
"Can you get out of your clothes yourself…?" Rory asked.
The Doctor blinked. One of the TARDIS travel rules Rory had learned early on was: Any time the Doctor is quiet for more than two consecutive minutes you have a problem. The bed spread was already soaking wet with the melt water streaming off the Doctor's hair and clothes. A small lake was forming on the floor. Slowly, the Doctor moved his hands up and disconnectedly tried to undo the buttons on the front of his jacket. His fingers were alarmingly pale and clumsy.
Rory ripped off his gloves and took the Doctor's hands in his. The skin was waxy and cold. They didn't feel like anything that could possibly be attached to a living person.
"Doctor?" Rory asked, rubbing the Time Lord's fingers. He wondered how the Doctor had managed to do all the fiddly work of deactivating a bomb with digits this unresponsive, or if that was the reason it had taken so long. The room was warm, but the Doctor didn't seem to be warming up. His hands actually seemed to be getting colder the longer Rory held them and the Doctor wasn't responded to his name.
Rory undid the buttons and pulled off the sopping jacket. Then he pulled off the rest. The boots and trousers were hardest — the boots because the laces were knotted and double knotted and the knots were all iced over — the trousers because the Doctor didn't help at all and Rory had to sort of roll him around on the bed to get them off. He'd undressed immobile and unconscious patients before at work, but this was like taking the clothes off a corpse. He had to keep checking the Doctor's pulse to convince himself that the Doctor hadn't suddenly departed the mortal plane. The twin beats were slower than usual, but steady.
Rory pulled the Doctor upright and half-led, half-dragged him over to the bath. Getting him into the tub was another struggle, with Rory actually having to lift up the Doctors legs one at a time over the edge and then prop him up so that he didn't sink. The water was blood warm. It lapped against the Doctor's pale chest. Rory used a handy washcloth to try to massage some life back into the Doctor's pale limbs.
"Of course, Amy will have a field day with this one if she ever finds out," Rory said, rubbing the Doctor's stiff arm. "Never mind the first aid excuse, she'll just concentrate on the bit where I undressed you and gave you a bath."
The Doctor took a sudden sharp breath. Rory was so startled he dropped the washcloth. The Time Lord started violently shivering. Rory put his arms around the Doctor to keep him upright. His survival suit was soaked through.
After a few minutes, the shivering subsided. The Doctor looked around the room glassily before finally coming to a bleary focus on Rory.
"Are you back in the world?" Rory asked.
"Just about," said the Doctor. Before Rory could react, the Doctor had hauled himself out of the tub, slipping a bit on the floor. He staggered over to the towels. "I think I can take it from here."
"No, you're still under supervision," said Rory.
The Doctor shrugged and quickly towelled off. He bent over to pick up his wet clothes. Rory kicked them away. The Doctor glared at him.
"You are not putting those back on. Dry clothing or no clothing and — " Rory added quickly before the Doctor could suggest something awkward " — if you choose no clothing you're going back in the bath. You aren't wandering around the TARDIS like that."
The Doctor sulked, but he picked up and put on the dry flannel pajamas the TARDIS had laid out for him. They were white with little pale blue airplanes. He didn't tuck himself into bed after. Instead he stalked out of the room with Rory determinedly trailing after. He wondered if he was allowed to smack the Doctor now that he was, apparently, no longer suffering from severe hypothermia.
Rory followed the Doctor into the console room. Rory immediately stood himself in front of the main doors. If there was one place that Rory wasn't letting the Doctor go it was back out into the snow. The Doctor ignored him completely, instead fussing around the console, pushing buttons and pulling levers. The time rotor hummed and started gently pulsing up and down. The Doctor looked over at Rory.
"Amy would worry if she finished her day at the spa and found the TARDIS gone."
Rory nodded. His plans on that point had been a bit muzzy. The Doctor looked very young, standing at the console in his bare feet and patterned pajamas. His hair had dried quickly and stuck up at odd angles. He had his hands planted in front of him and was leaning into them. He looked tired.
"Back to bed?" Rory asked.
"Sounds like an extraordinarily good idea," said the Doctor.
He allowed Rory to hover beside him as he went back to the bedroom. The tub had vanished and the wet sheets had been dried. Rory ended up actually tucking the Doctor in, noting that his skin was still cool to the touch.
"Bit of a biological backfire there," the Doctor said, snuggling under the assortment of quilts and blankets. "My body was trying to go into a healing trance, but that requires a reduction of core temperature and I was already below the safety limit."
"What would have happened?" asked Rory.
"I'm not sure," said the Doctor. "Might've ended up a Time Lord popsicle. Might've died. Might've regenerated. Might've froze and then thawed out with no ill effects after a few days. Wouldn't have been much fun. I — thank you Rory."
Rory reached out to take his temperature — it was closer to normal, well, Doctor normal — he ended up mussing the Doctor's zany uncombed hair back from his forehead.
"You're a great big alien idiot," said Rory.
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