Rose sat on the jumpseat fiddling with a lump of alien goop she didn’t remember the name of. Apparently it was sold as a children’s toy, and now that she thought about it, she remembered something similar in the toy store when she was a kid. She wouldn’t be surprised if an alien had left it on Earth and some genius had reverse-engineered it into the stuff and made billions off of it.
While this thought was interesting, her mind was really elsewhere. Rose absently pushed two holes for eyes into her stretched piece of rubbery goop and peered over at the Doctor on the other side of the console, tilting her head slightly to catch a glimpse of him behind the Time Rotor where he was apparently recalibrating the pressure monitors on the interstitial reality compensators. Or something.
Things had calmed now that they were back in the TARDIS after having escaped with their lives from Plixis Prime. It was inevitable they would end up running for their lives because the trip had begun peacefully. Those were the ones that never failed to end up in a chaotic dash for safety.
After being presented to the planet’s king to receive accolades for stumbling upon and recovering his daughter’s pet puri bird that had wandered out past the grounds (saving the king from the headache of replacing it with one that looked exactly the same), the Doctor made the mistake of quite innocently complimenting the child princess as being cute. It seemed he unknowingly insulted the Royal Family, as the Doctor’s choice of words came across as a compliment only fit for mature adults, and he had essentially suggested a lewd interest. The running coincided with the declaration of “Throw the transgressors in the dungeon!” As they ran at top speed toward the safety of the TARDIS, the Doctor rifled through his coat pocket and gleefully produced a ball of rubbery goop, as if finding the answer to their woes.
“Ha!” he had exclaimed in triumph. “Knew I had this somewhere! It’s a sonic-activated morphogenic obstruction. One zap with the sonic and this will transform into a veritable barricade between us and our rather agitated pursuers!” Rose’s confidence in their escape was beginning to grow. “So long as it hasn’t exceeded its ‘use by’ date,” he added as an aside. And so went her burgeoning confidence.
“It’s a lump of goop!” Rose had yelled, winded from exertion. “You’re telling me it has an expiration date?!”
He lifted it to his mouth. “Only one way to tell if it’s gone off.” Rose hoped he wasn’t going to do what she... Yes, he was. His inquisitive tongue made a predictable appearance as he licked the goop with a generous swipe from top to bottom. He tossed it to Rose, gagging, spitting and wiping his tongue on his sleeve.
“Expired?” she queried unnecessarily.
He shook his head. “Wrong lump of goop. I picked this up at the little shop on Vrexil Six. It’s their version of Silly Putty, and right nasty-tasting, too. Which means plan B,” he yelled. “Run faster!”
And so had begun their day. As Rose pondered the events of their typical outing, she reached the conclusion that there had never been anyone, factual or fictional, quite like the Doctor. Although, she re-reconsidered, maybe there had...
She shook her head, amused by her thoughts. “Doctor?”
He didn’t look up from the console. “Mm?”
“Sometimes you’re a bit... Willy Wonka.”
The Doctor did look at her then and mouthed the name. “Oh, with the chocolate!” He grinned, pleased with the compliment. “Really?”
“Well, yeah.” Rose put the rubbery goop aside as she held up her fingers and began counting off the obvious similarities. “I mean... you can both be insulting without really knowing it, or if you do realize it you don’t care—rude, that’s you. And you both babble on about completely random things while leaving the people around you boggle-eyed and scratching their heads.” She smirked. “And then there’s your oral obsession, licking everything you come in contact with. So you’re just the sort of man who’d create... lickable wallpaper.”
As Rose went on, the Doctor had stopped what he was doing to stare back at her. He had frowned indignantly at first, but then he beamed at the thought of her last comment. “Ooh, I could make that! I mean, I wouldn’t have a reason to use wallpaper, but surely someone in a house with doors and a mortgage and flowerpots would appreciate banana-flavored wallpaper. Brilliant!”
Rose was now regretting her last remark, seeing that manic gleam in his eye. She realized she needed to reel him in before this got out of hand. Giving it quick thought, she found the perfect way to discourage him. “Well... I suppose you could. But you know, Doctor, as impossible as this is for you to believe, not everyone has a love for bananas like you do. That means you’d have to create a few more flavors, too. Like... pear.” That did it, she thought to herself slyly.
He made a face. Of all the flavors, she had to mention that one. Totally on purpose, of course. “Surely a tidy selection of flavors would be adequate. A selection that does not include ‘pear.’”
Rose took a firm stance, crossing her arms over her chest. She wasn’t letting him wiggle out that easily. “But I happen to like pears. You can’t discriminate just because you don’t like them.” Deciding she had won the argument with that bit of logic, Rose hoped to put an end to the topic. “And knowing you would never, in any regeneration, be able to bring yourself to create pear-flavored wallpaper, I suppose you just have to give up the idea entirely.”
The Doctor’s spirits fell anytime she mentioned liking pears, an old feeling he didn’t particularly like dwelling on. “I can though, because I’m the one creating them. My wallpaper, can do what I like. Pear-likers will just have to suffer. Or learn to like bananas.” Rose responded with a noise of disagreement from her nose. The Doctor tried not to let his sudden despondency taint his words. “You like bananas more than pears though, right?”
Rose sighed. When he became focused on a single topic he was like a dog with a bone (or a monkey with a banana). “Unlike you and pears, I don’t consider bananas to be in the same category as lethal poison, but I do not love bananas more.” She smiled gently but delivered the harsh truth. “I am a pear lover, Doctor. So I’m afraid you’ll just have to deal with it.”
If it wasn’t for the forlorn look of an abandoned puppy in his eyes, Rose would have considered the Doctor’s pout to be absolutely adorable. “How can you say that, Rose?” he said in a small voice.
Rose refrained from laughing at the despondency in his tone, knowing it would wound him all the more in his now stricken state. “I’m sorry, Doctor. I know this is hard for you to accept, but I happen to like pears more.”
It was as if the Doctor hadn’t even heard her, continuing on from his last statement. “You can’t love pears, though. That... that... that’s very limiting. I mean, what if one day you ate a pear and I didn’t know it?”
A frown creased her brow. Honestly! Why couldn’t he just let this go? “Why should it even matter?” Rose replied, exasperation finding its way into her tone. “How would me eating a pear effect you, other than turning your stomach if you witnessed it? It seems to me that if I ate one and you didn’t know, that would just spare you the agony.”
The Doctor shoved his hands in his pockets, straightening his arms and shrugging his shoulders, an expression that very much sabotaged his words. He frowned and shook his head in transparent dishonesty. “No reason. Certainly not a particular one, anyway. No, just in general.” He freed a hand and gestured with an upturned palm and started nodding. “Nothing specific, just... knowing. Knowing that that’s what you taste like.” The Doctor drew his brows together as he inwardly winced and moved the hand to rub the back of his head. “Not that I know what you taste like, or want to know... okay, well I do of course, but—no, not like that. You taste like human, no doubt, but what I mean is...” He sucked in a deep breath, the moment of silence long enough to make him pause in his progression.
For all of ten seconds Rose stood motionless, looking for the second time in her life like she’d been turned to a statue of stone. Did he just say, and more importantly did his stuttering words imply what she thought they did? “You...” Rose swallowed and made a second attempt at speech, hoping this time it wouldn’t come out sounding like a squeak. “You want to know what I taste like?” Okay, so much for it not coming out like a squeak.
The Doctor didn’t seem to notice the unusual pitch and, surprisingly, frowned in disgust. “Well, now I don’t want to. Thanks for that.”
Rose was still trying to wrap her brain around his earlier, rather revealing statement. “But... but you did want to?”
“Yes. Did. Past tense,” he grumbled, now absently rubbing the back of his neck. He suddenly stopped and came around the console, his eyes fixed on some random controls that suddenly needed fiddling with. “But of course I’ve wanted to,” he continued in a lighter but analytical tone, his back now to her as he busied his hands. “I know what you look like, what you feel like. I’m always listening to you go on about this or that.” He pressed a few buttons and flipped a lever. “You smell nice. Why wouldn’t you taste nice, too?” he murmured.
Rose closed her slackened jaw with an audible click. It seemed a monumental discussion had somehow begun in the midst of arguing the merits of bananas versus pears. They could now move in either of two directions. Standing up and taking a step towards him, Rose felt a rush of boldness in realizing the direction she wanted this to take. “Doctor,” she spoke casually, “I’m curious, how sensitive are you to the taste of pears?”
The Doctor’s hands stopped moving over the console, but he didn’t turn around. Perplexed, he finally asked, “What?”
She shrugged, testing the waters by remaining casual. “Like, for instance, can you tell how long it’s been since someone’s eaten one?”
Unable to listen any longer without seeing her expression, the Doctor whirled in place to find Rose had been standing right behind him. He looked down at her, nervously but purposefully seeking her eyes. She wouldn’t hold his gaze, her eyes flicking downward in feigned nonchalance, but he could tell she was watching him intently for his reaction.
He realized he was probably burning holes into her with his eyes and blinked, attempting to match her casual facade. “Why, need help remembering?”
Despite his casual tone, the Doctor’s words seemed to possess the power of capturing Rose’s gaze and holding her eyes captive to his. The temperature in the space between them seemed to skyrocket several degrees in the span of a few seconds. If Rose backed out now she might never get this chance again. It was now or never, and she really wasn’t fond of the idea of never. With her eyes never leaving his, Rose replied. “I think I do, actually.” She took one small yet symbolically colossal step closer. “Care to assist me?”
The Doctor stared into Rose’s eyes, unbelieving how quickly they had come to this point, and just how they had he wasn’t sure. He drank in her intrinsic flirtation, the way Rose pronounced her teasing words and the tiny flickers of movement in her eyes. He drew in a slow, bracing breath. “Who am I to refuse?” He asked with finality.
He lifted a hand, threading the tips of his fingers through the sunny strands of hair just above her temple before moving higher. Rose held her breath, her heart pounding in her ears. This was it. She was more than ready.
It was then the Doctor raised his chin, ducked forward and quite unromantically licked the roots of her hair.
Rose had expected to be rendered speechless. Points to the Doctor for complete success. A single thought was now resounding through her mind: You licked my hair. You licked my HAIR. Okay, Rose just needed a minute to gain her composure, and then she could come up with a suitable, intelligent response. “You... you licked my hair!” One out of three. It was a response, anyway.
Not that the Doctor seemed to even notice her spluttering statement of the obvious. He was now in full-on analytical mode. He had taken a step back, his head was tipped upward, and one eye squinted as he smacked his lips with his tongue. Rose wouldn’t mind smacking his lips herself right about now. She had thought this was going to be The Moment, now or never. Never seemed to be winning out. Rose supposed she should have expected something like this. He wasn’t just an alien, but the alien equivalent of Willy Wonka. Instead of getting the Kiss of a Lifetime she gets her roots licked. Bloody typical.
Still, call her an eternal optimist or utterly insane, but she wasn’t giving up all hope just yet. If he was going to continue playing the scientist then she could continue playing along as his object of study. “I’m disappointed, Doctor,” Rose stated as casually as possible, and oh was it ever the truth. “You’re usually so... thorough. And since I don’t eat pears with my hair, then for the sake of an accurate analysis I should think you would need to be...” She wasn’t going to say it. She wasn’t going to say it. Oh, yes she was. “...much closer to the source.”
There. She’d said it. Now if his next course of action was going to be to lick her... eyebrows because “the follicles were closer to her lingual orifice” then she was going to take a breath, begin a slow count to ten and leave the room in the most frustrated state of her entire existence.
“Well unless you’ve eaten one today—” he interrupted himself and waggled an admonishing finger at her, “—and I know you haven’t, because we don’t have pears anywhere on board the TARDIS, wouldn’t dare—it wouldn’t do any good to lick your mouth, would it?” His eyes flashed triumphantly. “No, the only way to tell long-term is in the hair. You are what you eat.” He frowned suddenly. “Unless you’ve just eaten one recently, like yesterday. Wouldn’t be detectable yet.” He narrowed his eyes accusingly at her and looked her up and down, as if he would see evidence of a personal transgression against him just by looking at her. “You didn’t eat one while I popped over to the power nodule table at the bazaar yesterday, did you?” His face softened from annoyed to pensive as his mind went on in a rapid-fire fashion. “It would still be evident in the skin, though. In the blood still, perhaps.” The Doctor promptly snatched up Rose’s hand, turned it over, and laved his tongue generously over her inner wrist. Rose squeaked in surprise. He made a face, actually turned and spit. The TARDIS sparked in annoyance somewhere under the floor grating. “That would be soap.” He returned his mouth to her wrist and began sucking at the skin.
The first thought blazing a trail through her mind was how tantalizingly cool his lips were on her skin. The second thought was that those cool lips were currently even further from the destination she’d had in mind. Rose regained her wits and snapped to attention, reclaiming her wrist from his grasp. “Oi! I’m not your life-sized lollypop!” Ohhh, there was an enticing thought. And… did the Doctor’s eyes just glaze over for a split second? Rose shook herself and refocused. She wondered if this infuriating alien had any idea at all what he was doing to her.
Maybe it was time to give him, quite literally, a taste of his own medicine. “You’ve already performed a hair analysis, so thanks for that bit of assistance.” A shrewd gleam flashed in her eye. “But so what if I did eat a pear yesterday? How would you like it if I demanded to know when you’d last eaten a banana?” She again edged slightly closer. “What if I snatched your hand,” she followed with a demonstration, “brought it to my mouth,” demonstrations were always helpful, “and began doing this…” His eyes grew rounder as she swiftly took his index finger into her mouth. Her lips encased the digit, sinking past his first knuckle, down to the base. Rose hollowed her cheeks as she sucked, slowly tracing the reverse path back up his finger, adding the gentle scraping of teeth before reaching the tip. Her tongue swirled in a series of concentric circles before releasing him with a wet pop. Roguish eyes lifted to his, a challenge residing within them. “And how did you like that, hmm?”
“Wha—” the Doctor squeaked and cleared his throat, taking control back of his breathing and stood looking down at Rose, careful not to touch her. “What does this have to do with helping you remember when you last ate a pear?” he managed, still at his highest of pitches. He knew full well that wasn’t what this was about. “Besides, I’d tell you when I last ate a banana, and I don’t need reminding!”
Rose’s face mirrored angelic innocence. “I was just demonstrating how being grabbed without warning and… being explored by someone’s tongue felt when you’re on the receiving end.” She fought to suppress a scheming smile as she tapped a finger to her chin in deliberation. “Although, you’re the expert, so maybe you have the right idea with this method of yours.” She smiled up at him ever so sweetly. “And I’m sure you would tell me when you’d last eaten a banana and don’t need reminding. But… instead of just telling me, maybe I could learn a new skill here.” Her sweet smile became decidedly less virtuous as her tongue slowly traced along her top lip and her tone dipped a fraction lower. “For the sake of science, maybe you could teach me how to perform a proper analysis with my tongue?”
Fortunately for the Doctor, her words were enough to give him somewhat of a grip on something decidedly not-Rose related if he squinted and turned it sideways—fortunately, because it was crystal clear what this was, now, and the Doctor was determined not to lose. “Nah, probably not. In possession of superior taste buds, me.” He crossed his arms in front of him to go with his new direction of the conversation, not at all to help keep him from plunging forward, wrapping her up in his arms and giving in to her suggestions. “I heard that for humans, everything tastes like chicken. Must be insanely confusing.” He untwisted his arms in favor of hooking his thumbs into his trouser pockets, raised his head and sniffed. “Besides, I’ve got years of experience. You can’t teach a puppy what things smell like, it just learns to recognize them.”
Rose might not be able to boast of superior senses, but even if her taste buds were lacking, her sense of sight was functioning well enough to see right past his superior front for what it really was: a hiding place, and an all-too familiar one at that. It seemed he was determined to take this in any direction but the one she was doing her level best to lead him towards. Of course he would, the coward. The only tone Rose could manage was flat, considering she’d just deflated. “You know what, Doctor? You’re right. If this stupid ape, this un-trainable puppy, were to try and analyze what you really tasted like, you know what I’d say?” She paused, then went in for the kill, punctuating her words with a poke of her finger to the center of his chest. “I’d say you do taste like chicken, because that’s exactly what you are.”
“What?” the Doctor exclaimed. He stared at Rose, aghast. “Rude!” He then spluttered for several seconds before giving up and instead just stared. Was he being rude? He was only stating simple fact. Although, admittedly in the past, that had been enough for him to be rude. This wasn’t what he was expecting at all. What was he expecting, exactly? More importantly, how was he chicken? Him, the Doctor, the Oncoming Storm, Afraid of Nothing, except maybe a pink-and-yellow... “Hold on.” His mind finally worked past its defensive reaction. He squinted one eye at her, watching her carefully for her response as he spoke slowly. “Why am I chicken?”
For once, it was Rose who was able to give the Doctor the ‘You’ve Just Dribbled on Your Shirt’ look. She relished each second of slowly lifting a brow, aimed directly at him. “Do you really have to ask?” His expectant silence gave her the answer. She folded her arms across her chest and lifted her chin, mimicking the Doctor’s best lecture-mode stance. He’d asked for it, and he was finally going to get it. “Alright then, I’ll tell you exactly why. Because unless you’re Mister Thick-Thickity-Thick, then you know very well this conversation was never really just about pears and performing a ‘taste analysis.’ Yet when you were given the opportunity to perform a personal analysis on me, what did you do? You licked my hair. You licked my hair because you, Doctor, are a chicken. Simple as that.”
Was the empowering courage Rose now felt from speaking the blatant truth good or bad? Her eyes never left his as she continued, thoroughly surprising her own self with the boldness of what came next. The pitch of her voice reflected the pent-up exasperation finally breaking free. “What would it actually take for you to properly kiss me?” Her mouth went dry. Even though the words were ringing in her ears, Rose had to question whether she’d really just said that.
The Doctor feigned mild surprise and rubbed the back of his neck, glancing only momentarily at Rose as he appeared to enter into deep contemplation. “Kiss you? Really? Well.” He started nodding. “You haven’t eaten any pears lately, as I’ve surmised through those clearly-not-appreciated tests I’ve performed on you.” He dared to meet her eyes. “So that’s good. And, for the record, I happen to like your hair. It tastes nice, if you were wondering.” He dropped his hand but held her gaze.
“Well that… that’s always a good thing to know,” Rose stammered. Despite her shaky nerves she kept going, because at this point what more did she have to lose? “Maybe that means more than just my hair would… taste nice, too?”
Something wanton and untamed surged momentarily in his eyes, interrupted when he turned his eyes downward and closed the distance between them. The Doctor put a steady hand on her arm, coming so close that he spoke into her ear from above it. “Do you really think I’m a coward, Rose?” he rasped in a seductive yet vulnerable tone.
A shiver rippled through her as his breath caressed her ear, his voice both weakening her knees and strengthening her desire. Rose eased back just enough to look into his eyes, locking onto his with a look of intensity as she replied in a breathy tone. “Not if you prove me wrong.”
The look Rose gave the Doctor was what undid him. He flicked his gaze to her mouth, licked his own, then pressed gently but firmly down to meet hers, the Doctor no longer caring who was winning and who was losing. The hand on her arm involuntarily tightened, seeking to pull her closer to him.
Immobilized for several glorious seconds by the overpowering realization that this was actually, finally happening, Rose soon caught up, matching his fervor with her own. As soon as Rose began to respond, the Doctor lifted his other hand to cradle her head, seeking more control, and within moments the other hand mirrored it to frame her face fully.
Rose surrendered control freely, allowing him to take what had always been his as her lips parted to give and equally receive, her hands rising to clutch his shoulders and draw him that much closer. Rose sank into him, breathing out a sigh as every gap left between them closed.
The silence between them was filled only by the enduring ambient thrum of the console room for several timeless moments before being accompanied by the soft sound of their separation and the resultant catching of breath. The Doctor rested his forehead against hers, unwilling to pull away any further. “Mmm.” He cleared his throat to remove some of the huskiness. “I’m very happy to find you taste nothing at all like pear.”
Her lips slowly curved upward in a half-dazed smile. “Are you really sure I don’t taste anything like a pear?” Her fingers danced along his shoulders until they reached the back of his neck, threading through the soft hair at the base of his head as Rose whispered across his lips in a sultry tone. “Maybe you need to perform a second analysis. Just to be... thorough.”
She was speaking again in that way that made the Doctor quiver, and it took all of his restraint to keep from snogging it right off her face long enough to speak, the growly quality to his voice returning full force. “You, Miss Tyler, are about to see just how thorough I can be,” he managed before proceeding to show her just how much.