by ABadPlanWellExecuted [Reviews - 9]
The glow from her phone was the only illumination, turning the interior of the car a shadowy blue, and Rose sat for a moment in the dark, checking one last time for any messages from work. Over the soft clicks of her scrolling, she could hear the muted conversations of a couple of blokes exiting the pub.
It was nearly closing time. But there was no news on the stray radio transmission they’d picked up earlier that day, so Rose shut off her phone and dropped it in her bag. She’d have time for one drink at least.
On first glance, the pub looked empty, but that was because nearly everyone was crowded around one table toward the back. Rose took one glance at the group, which was mostly made up of Torchwood agents, and realized what was happening.
Ah. He was doing it again.
She sighed and went to the bar for a pint.
It wasn’t that she minded his newfound popularity. It was really kind of fun watching him discover that he could have friends who he saw regularly but who didn’t actually live with him. It was just that this particular group of admirers was made up of Torchwood agents, many of whom actually worked with her and in some cases for her, and they had figured out that if they asked the right questions, the Doctor would regale them with stories about their traveling days.
The stories were almost always completely mad, and they usually involve her getting covered in some sort of muck. All in all, it made maintaining a professional demeanor at work a bit of a challenge.
She took a long sip of her drink, trying to listen through the crowd. She couldn't hear much, other than the reactions of the group, but occasionally the Doctor's voice would ring out over the chatter. “And Rose was halfway up this vine, dangling over a pit...And then I...sonic...came down with this huge splash..."
Right, that one.
She took another sip, listening to him tell it, and chuckled in spite of herself.
After a few minutes, there was a loud, raucous laugh, signaling that the punch line had been told. As Rose slid off her bar stool, the crowd around the Doctor’s table dispersed, going to get a drink as the bartender gave last call.
"Hey," she said by way of greeting.
"Rose!" said the Doctor, delighted. He was fiddling with the collection of glassware on the table. "Thought you weren't going to make it."
"Yeah, we wrapped up early. So, good story, hmm?" She waited until his eyes slid away, slightly guilty. "You know, you were the one who was supposed to deactivate the gravity field. I'm still not sure I've forgiven you for that.”
He looked at her through the base of his glass, which he was holding up like a telescope. “Rose, I don’t think you’re properly appreciating the way this whole…” He waived his hand vaguely. “…metacrisis thing is supposed to work.”
She pressed her lips together, trying not to laugh, because for some reason when he was drinking, he didn’t so much sound like the Doctor with a touch of Donna mixed in for color as he did like the Doctor with a brainful of Cassandra. “No?”
“No.” He switched from the highball to a shot glass and positioned it over his right eye like a monocle. “You see, whenever we’re talking about the good memories, you know, ‘Run!’ and ‘Better with two,’ and all the hugging and handholding, that was me. Eating chips together? Me. Time I took you to the glass sculpture gardens at sunset on Meredia Beta? Definitely me.”
He became momentarily distracted trying to emphasize his point to her, and the glass slipped free from his cheekbone and crashed to the table, earning them a nasty look from one of the bartenders.
“I know it was you,” said Rose soothingly as she began surreptitiously scooting the rest of the glassware to the other end of the table. “I know you’re the same man.”
“Right. ‘Course you do.” He gave her a brilliant smile. “My Rose. Always so clever.” Then he frowned. “What was I saying?”
“Um.” She frowned, a little fuzzy herself. “You’re still you?”
“Right! But see, whenever we’re talking about the stupid bits, the times when I was a prat–you know, like not telling you things or making big, life-altering decisions without checking with you first or that one time when I snogged…” He scrunched up his face. “What was her name, again?”
Rose’s face went still. “Who’s that?”
“You know; you were there.” He waved a hand around in front of her face. “She was all blonde. And fancy. And…French.”
Rose waited a beat before supplying in a dry flat tone, “Madame de Pompadour?”
“Yes!” the Doctor shouted, thumping his fist down on the table and scattering a stack of paper coasters.
With pinched lips, Rose slid into the seat next to his. “I see. So, snogged her, did you?” she asked conversationally. It had been a really long time ago, and really, she was definitely over it, but.
Yeah. That was not going to stop her from making him suffer for it. Just a little bit.
The Doctor didn’t seem to notice the hole he was digging for himself. “Yes! I mean, no! That,” he said, rapping his finger firmly against the tabletop, “is my point.” He grasped one of her hands in both of his and looked into her eyes with drunken intensity. “Whenever it’s something that made you happy, that was me. But all the times that it was something that made you mad, well, that was him. The other Doctor. Sending you home from the Games Station? That was him, that rotter! Kissing Madame de Pomp-and-Circumstance? Oh, what a scoundrel! What a cad! Making you work as a dinner lady? Shameful!”
Rose bit down a smile as she realized what he was getting at. “Oh, I see. Clever.”
He beamed at her. “That’s me!” He let go with one of his hands and brought it down to her hip.
“So,” she said, trying not to react when two of his fingers began walking themselves across her back, “when we made that trip to see the London Olympics, that was you.”
“Mmm-hmm.” Those same fingers found a belt loop on the far side of her trousers, and, with a tug, he pulled her closer.
Rose continued, ignoring the way he was nuzzling against the curve of her shoulder blade. “And when we tried to get to the Hanging Arboretum on the Diephaine Rotational Planetary Cluster but ended up running for our lives through twelve miles of rat-infested sewers, that was him?”
“You,” he said, his chin coming to rest on her shoulder, “are catching on to this exceedingly quickly.”
“So which one of you was it that jury-rigged a Kalroxian molecular hyperdrive to serve as our new water heater on Monday last?”
His fingers paused, and Rose could feel a sudden stillness in his shoulder where he was pressed against her side. “Oh, noticed that, did you?”
“Would have been kinda hard not to.” To be fair, the liquid it produced was definitely nice and hot, pretty much ad infinitum. On the other hand, Rose was more than a little wary of bathing in any liquid that glowed in the dark. “But then, of course, I was on the alert ever since I got the memo from the Archival Department that their new experimental tech had gone missing.”
“Ah.” He muttered something uncomplimentary about nosy tattletales at Torchwood. “Well, then, if it annoys you, then yes, that was definitely him. It was all his doing.” He paused and considered that. “I haven’t quite worked out the how yet, but still, it was completely his fault.”
“And just how long do you think you can make that excuse work?”
He shifted in his chair, angling himself closer to her, and chuckling as he leaned in, pressing his forehead to her temple. She could feel his breath slipping over the starched collar of her shirt and warming her skin, and she rolled her head a bit, just barely resisted the urge to bare her neck in invitation.
“I dunno.” His voice was pitched low and was gravelly from all the shouty drinking games. "How long are you going to stay with me?”
Before she had a chance to answer, his lips found hers. Soft and just a little swollen from the alcohol, his mouth caught and tugged on her upper lip. The kiss was wet and all the better for being a little sloppy, over-eager in a way that promised a really excellent time for everybody once they’d gotten back to the flat.
There was a just a thin line of sobriety keeping her from climbing up onto his lap, and even that was put to the test when he hooked a hand around her knee and started to tug. She squirmed to get her leg free and when he growled, frustrated, she laughed against his mouth. His response was to put his hand on her breast, no preliminaries, just his palm cupping the underside and his fingers lightly scratching at the stiff cotton of her shirt.
Her breath caught, and his fingers tightened, and it was only when the bartender cleared his throat rather pointedly that they broke apart.
The Doctor’s mouth was still open, lips gone red, and his shoulders rising and falling as he caught his breath. He leaned in again and pressed his forehead to hers. "Well?"
Rose licked the taste of him off of her lips. “Rest of my life.”