Disclaimer: Doctor Who is copywright of the BBC. Red Dwarf lyrics are copywright of Grant Naylor Productions.
More Or Less
‘It’s cold outside,
There’s no kind of atmosphere,
I’m all alone,
More or less…’
Theme from Red Dwarf
Rose gazed out at the fiery display before her.
When the Doctor had proposed a spot of star fishing, she’d had some idea what to expect — based upon her knowledge of him so far. Probably some kind of massive, evil sea creature, the ‘Star’. All pointy teeth and cunning plan. No doubt they’d find themselves running for their lives within minutes. Instead, he’d disappeared from the control room in to the TARDIS proper, and returned ten minutes later with a couple of battered old fishing rods, a bag of peanuts — not, presumably, for the fish - and a blanket, the latter of which he had spread on the grill before the main doors before flinging them open and kicking off his boots and socks. Staring, entranced at the sparking, boiling nebula before her, Rose had barely registered him calling her over to sit beside him. Then, once seated on the surprisingly un-alien looking tartan blanket, she was handed a rod and shown how to prop it in the doorway so that the line would hang down beneath the ship the same as their feet. Beneath the ship.
“Doctor… I’m going to ignore the whole fishing rod bit for a moment… but, how is this even possible? Shouldn’t we be getting sucked out in to space, or suffocated or something?” she asked, daring a peek between her knees, and instantly regretting it when she got a sudden and severe dose of vertigo.
She gripped the edge of the doorframe and smiled thinly at him. He looked like he wanted to laugh at her, and was trying hard to repress it.
“What do you think?” he asked instead, drinking in the view.
“I think you havent answered my question about the whole getting sucked in to space bit,” she replied, fixing her gaze on a point straight ahead of her; a particularly bright and twinkling star.
“Force field,” he explained shortly. “TARDIS is protecting us.”
“You’re kidding me? A bit technical that isn’t it? For you I mean. Bit too Star Trek?” she waggled her eyebrows.
“Are you seriously having this conversation with me, when you could be admiring the view?” he asked gruffly, and she had to admit, he had a point.
“Okay, fair enough,” she agreed, and settled herself against the door frame — still feeling a little unsafe.
The Doctor watched her doing her best impression of contentment for a moment before sighing. “Next question?”
“What?” she asked, shooting him a look which spoke volumes about her surprise at him knowing her so well after such a short time travelling together.
“Why the rods?” he guessed. Rose just nodded. “No reason really,” he explained. “’Cept it gives you a reason to sit still and calm and just… take this in,” he finished, lifting his intense gaze from hers and turning it back on the system before them.
“You’re weird,” Rose told him, but shrugged and reached for her rod, making a show of letting out the thin wire by turning the little reel. She felt, rather than saw, the Doctor smile appreciatively.
Time passed peacefully.
“So I was swimming away from this thing, and I hadn’t even had a chance to look at it yet,” the Doctor was saying, some time later.
“Aw, we’re you scared?” Rose grinned mischieviously, ducking her head to lean her chin upon her knee. She had relaxed about the whole, sitting on the edge of space thing in the time they’d been out here. Now she thought it was all pretty fantastic.
“Too right I was, all I did know was it was sixty foot across and had a reputation for making people want to kill themselves.”
Rose’s face lost a little of it’s merriment. “What was it?”
“A despair squid.”
“Hang on a minute - that’s from Red Dwarf.”
The Doctor looked amused. “Is it? Well he must have used the idea after all. I’ll have to look that episode up. He’s a friend mind you. No bother.”
“Who?” Rose asked, tearing her eyes away from the scene before her for a moment.
The Doctor demolished another peanut and flicked the shell out the door. It hit the forcefield and rolled and bumped it’s way downwards, presumably to a point directly below them. There must be quite a collection down there by now. Rose wondered if, when they went back inside and turned the forcefield off, they’d all float off through space forever. It didn’t seem very environmentally friendly to her.
“You know that bit at the beginning of the books where it goes on about the writers Grant and Naylor being a polymorphic entity?” The Doctor continued. Rose gazed at him blankly. “Well all I’m saying is, he is. And he’s a friend. And here I was thinking you knew the show.” He shook his head in mock despair.
“Mickey does. I haven’t paid much attention besides mum going on about how the bloke from Corrie is in it. Mickey though, he’s a Red Dwarf freak.”
“You don’t say.”
“Let’s just say it comes as no great surprise that Ricky the idiot idolises Dave Lister.”
“So what happened in the end — with the despair squid?”
“Turned out it’s ink had no affect on Time Lords. I reasoned with it. It was a pretty good conversationalist actually, once you got past the whole driving people to suicide thing.”
Rose frowned at him a moment, desperately trying to figure out if he was pulling her leg. A twinkle in his eye as he tried not to meet her gaze decided it for her.
“You’re so full of it,” she announced, nudging him in the shoulder with her own.
“You keep saying that, but how do you know?” he asked, but he was grinning.
“Just do,” she told him. “Can tell, when you’re having me on. Guess I just know you too well.” She grinned happily at him and he sighed in a mock-defeatist manner.
“Guess I’ll have to get used to that,” he replied after a moment.
“Yep,” Rose told him, standing and squeezing his shoulder. “You’re not on your own anymore you know, no getting around it.” With that she turned and walked a few steps away, leaving him sat in the doorway. She missed the look of shock and wonder upon his face. A moment later he roused himself enough to turn and watch her disappearing in to the rest of the ship.
“I thought while we were waiting for the fish to bite, we could do with a flask of tea” she called, because of course she knew that he was wondering where she was going.
The Doctor peered down at his bare feet dangling below him and adjusted the not entirely pointless fishing rod propped against the door frame with a contented sigh.
“Goldfish shouls, nibbling at my toes!” he sang tunelessly and lay back to bask in the star light, a happy grin spreading across his face.