Takes place during series 6, not long after The Seeds of Death and about 3-4 weeks before The Space Pirates. I decided this fit more as "General" than "Het" and although there's maybe a bit of (one-sided?) UST, I tried to keep it as friendship as much as possible.
“Oh, my giddy aunt!” the Doctor exclaimed, dropping one of his tools. He'd set to work on the innards of the TARDIS, finding a few wires loose. Zoe certainly didn't mind helping him, but between the two of them it wasn't enough. He needed an extra hand.
“Where's Jamie?” she asked.
The Doctor paused in his frustration and looked up in thought. “Hm. I don't know.”
Zoe paused in thought as well. Where had Jamie gone? Oh, that's right. He'd said something about having a shower. But that was a while ago. Surely it wouldn't take too long to shower and get dressed.
Upon hearing footsteps down the corridor nearing the control room, she smiled. “Jamie, we need your help. Could you --”
Jamie entered the room and Zoe trailed off, staring at him in surprise.
He'd gotten a haircut. She wasn't expecting that. Yes, during this latest adventure involving the Ice Warriors she'd started to notice that his hair had gotten quite long and unruly, but generally he seemed to like it that way. It was still in that rather long moptop style she'd seen him with since she'd started traveling with him and the Doctor, but tidier. It still covered his ears but the back was slightly shorter and his neatly combed fringe, no longer in his eyes, framed his eyebrows. It made him look even more boyish than usual.
“Ye say something, Zoe?”
She finally noticed him looking at her expectantly.
“Oh! Er … Yes, we need your help.... um...” After all the times people joked about her being a human computer, this was the one time she was at a loss for words. It was almost embarrassing. How could something as trivial as Jamie getting a haircut affect her this way?
“Doctor?” She desperately turned to the Doctor to bail her out.
“Jamie, we need an extra pair of hands to hold up these wires I'm trying to repair,” the Doctor said matter-of-factly.
Jamie nodded and knelt down to see what the Doctor was working on. He reached up to hold several wires in place as the Doctor reinserted them.
“Okay, that should do it!” he exclaimed after securing them in place. “Thank you both.”
As Jamie rose, Zoe's eyes settled on him again. She was still a little rattled by this change; not that it was a bad one, of course. She wasn't sure at which point she'd begun to stare.
Jamie must have noticed. “Zoe?”
She continued to stare, feeling as if she had no control over her speech. “You got your hair cut.”
Jamie appeared confused for a moment and then nodded. “Aye.” His eyebrows slid up underneath his fringe. “So?”
“Well, it's just that … I like it.” Maybe this next statement wasn't such a good idea but she couldn't stop herself. “You look cute!”
Jamie's eyes widened almost in mortification. “Eh?? What did ye just call me?!”
Zoe felt her face burning. “Um,” she cleared her throat. “I said you look cute.”
“'Cute'?! 'Cute'??!!” Jamie nearly shouted. “Do ye hear yerself, lass??”
She quickly glanced at the Doctor and he seemed to be silently admonishing her. “Don't make such a fuss, Jamie,” he said in vain, turning back to the Scot.
“No one calls James Robert McCrimmon 'cute'',” he said, spitting out the word as if he were nauseated.
She automatically screwed her eyes shut, expecting him to continue fuming. Nothing. She reopened them and found him staring at her indignantly, his nostrils flaring. He said not a word but abruptly turned and left the room.
Zoe shook her head in confusion. She didn't understand why he took such offense. She recalled meeting him and the Doctor on the Wheel for the first time and she'd questioned his attire. She erroneously assumed he was Scandinavian based on his kilt. He'd taken offense and even threatened to put her across his knee and spank her. For a brief moment she inwardly chuckled at the memory. She didn't think this was nearly as bad as that. Obviously, Jamie didn't agree.
She turned to find the Doctor giving her a look of pity.
“Doctor, I don't understand why he's so offended. I didn't think what I said was that awful. I certainly didn't mean any offense.”
The Doctor smiled sympathetically. “I know that, my dear. The thing with Jamie is that he's a very proud young man. His people were warriors who fought valiantly for their cause.”
Zoe nodded, having previously read about the Battle of Culloden and heard stories from Jamie about what it was like. Still, she found it almost difficult to place him there. He just looked so boyish much of the time. She wasn't sure if it was his clothes (he certainly was no longer in battle uniform, save for his kilt), his facial features, his haircut or some combination thereof.
“Anyway,” the Doctor continued, “I'd say Jamie thinks being called 'cute' makes him sound like a small child. He really resents that.”
Zoe sighed. The Doctor had a point. “I understand. I really hope he doesn't think I'm an awful person now.”
“Oh, no, I highly doubt that. He's very quick to react emotionally sometimes but I think he'll get over it. If he doesn't, I'll have something to say about it,” he said, glaring in the direction to which Jamie had stormed off. “Why don't you talk to him?”
She decided it couldn't hurt. Surely Jamie couldn't be that unreasonable and refuse to ever speak to her again because she'd called him “cute.” Her lips lifted in a smile. “I'll do that, Doctor. Thank you.”
“Anytime, Zoe,” the Doctor replied, returning her smile. Just as she was about to set off she turned and found him crouching behind the TARDIS console again, whistling as he undoubtedly fiddled again with the wires.
Traversing the long corridor toward Jamie's room, Zoe felt her mind reeling, searching for some explanation of why she'd reacted the way she did. Jamie had gotten haircuts before, but this was the first time she'd really taken notice. It was also the first time she'd had such appreciative feelings. Yes, she appreciated how protective and loyal he was to both her and the Doctor, but this seemed to be one of the first times she'd taken notice of the physical realm. It was almost as if she were finding him … attractive. Oh, goodness, she couldn't believe she was even entertaining this idea. Was she starting to see him as more than just an annoying older brother sort? She tried hard to banish the thought.
She finally neared Jamie's room and sighed, finding the door shut. Raising a hand, she knocked on his door. “Jamie?”
She could faintly hear bagpipe music coming from inside the room and then a soft rustling sound. “Go away,” Jamie's voice intoned over the music.
Zoe sighed in frustration before knocking again. “Jamie, please! I want to talk to you!”
“Well, I dinnae want to talk to ye,” he grumbled.
She tried a different tactic. “The Doctor said this would happen,” she said as if talking to herself, only loudly so Jamie would hear. “Jamie, the Doctor suggested I talk to you. You wouldn't want him to be angry, would you?”
“I dinnae care.”
“Jamie, really, this behavior is very childish,” she said sternly. Hoping she'd get more flies with honey instead of vinegar, she tried again. “Please?” she asked sweetly. “I really want to apologize for what I said. It was rather stupid of me.”
The music stopped and she heard a loud sigh from the room. The door finally opened and revealed Jamie on the other side. Zoe cringed inwardly. He still looked none too pleased, though she was glad he was giving her a chance to say her piece. Gazing at him, she again noticed how boyish and even attractive he looked. She felt a slight tingle go up her spine and was nearly mortified by it. She tried once again to bite back the urge to call him 'cute' or something else that would only make matters worse. She visibly relaxed, realizing she was successful.
Suddenly hearing Jamie clear his throat, she lifted her gaze back to him and found his glare had softened and he looked at her expectantly.
“Oh!” Nervously she cleared her own throat. “Can I come in?”
“Aye,” Jamie replied softly, opening the door further and stepping back to allow her entrance. He sat on the edge of his bed and she sat next to him, nearly expecting him to move away or flinch. He did neither.
“So ...” he prompted her.
“So, I want to apologize for calling you 'cute.' I didn't intend to offend you and I realize it was a poor choice of words.”
Jamie regarded her silently and seemed to be considering it. He finally nodded. “Thank you, Zoe. I accept yer apology. Suppose I shouldnae have gone off on ye the way I did. I just ...” he trailed off and shrugged.
She understood and nodded. “You don't have to explain. I just wasn't expecting you to look so different.”
Jamie blinked at her. “I dinnae think I looked that different.”
Zoe chuckled sheepishly and smiled. “No, you don't really. It's just me. My mind is very sensitive even to slight change. It always has been. I suppose I was just used to your hair flopping about every which way as you've had it very recently.”
Jamie shrugged. “Well, I noticed it was fallin' in my eyes a lot whilst doin' battle with those beasties. Can't defend ye and the Doctor properly if I can't see, eh?” He appeared a bit chagrined as he tugged on a strand of his fringe. “I think perhaps it was cut a wee too short.”
Zoe felt her lips tugging in a fond smile. “Not at all. And besides, it will grow back.” She just barely caught Jamie's smile before he ducked his head shyly. “I still think you look great. Would you prefer if I told you it made you look handsome?”
Jamie lifted his gaze thoughtfully. “I think I'm alright with that,” he nodded, giving her a faint smile which suddenly turned a bit mischievous. “Ye know, the way ye said 'cute' before got me thinking. I think it describes ye much better, Zoe.”
Zoe's jaw dropped. “I'm 'cute'??” she exclaimed, not expecting the turnabout.
“Aye. You're cute!”
Bristling, Zoe narrowed her eyes. “James Robert McCrimmon!!”
Jamie was openly laughing now. “Ah, can dish it out but ye can't take it, eh, lass?” he teased, nudging her shoulder.
She swatted him, hoping it would get him to lay off but it only made him laugh even more. Damn it, his laughter was contagious. She had soon joined him.
“Oh, pity you had to make me corpse like that,” she exclaimed once she'd calmed a bit. “I was saving the best for last: That accent of yours is quite cute.”
Jamie abruptly stopped laughing and shot her a murderous glare.
“I'm only joking!” she exclaimed, holding up her hands in surrender and giving him a smile she hoped was somewhat convincing. “But I will say I'm quite taken to it. It's lovely.” She suddenly felt a warmth rise up in her cheeks.
Jamie regarded her seriously. “Ye mean that?” His mouth twitched into a lopsided, rakish grin.
She nodded and suddenly dropped her gaze to the floor. There was something about that grin that affected her. That tingle was back. Please stop that this instant, James Robert McCrimmon. I shouldn't be feeling this way.
“You alright, Zoe?”
Hearing his voice soft with concern, she looked back up at him. She hoped he hadn't seen her blushing. Embarrassed, she cleared her throat. “Yes, I'm fine. Um... I should probably go, shouldn't I.”
Jamie shrugged. “If ye want tae.”
She rose from the edge of his bed and started for the door when she suddenly felt his hand touch her arm. She wheeled around and found him standing there with a smile that seemed to have a fondness to it. She barely had time to react when he pulled her into a big hug. She felt her eyes widen in surprise but it evaporated quickly and she then relaxed into him.
After a moment he finally let go and stepped back. “Thank ye for coming here.”
“And thank you for accepting my apology,” she returned. “Why don't we agree that from now on, we'll both stay away from the description 'cute'?”
Jamie nodded, his smile growing. “That sounds good tae me.”
Zoe returned his smile as she neared his door. “I'm a bit hungry. I think I'll go and have a sandwich.”
Jamie's stomach growled loud enough for them both to hear. “Ach, I think I'll join ye.” Zoe giggled at the sight of his red-stained cheeks.
They exited the room and headed for the kitchen. At some point Jamie had taken hold of her hand. Earlier she would have questioned and even discouraged it, but now she gladly returned the grip as they traveled down the corridor.
Upon entering the kitchen they found the Doctor there, eating a bowl of ice cream.
“Oh! There you are,” he exclaimed, surprised and nearly dropping his spoon on the floor. “So, is everything alright now?”
Zoe shared a look with Jamie before he turned back to the Doctor and nodded. “Aye, Doctor. We've sorted everything out.”
The Time Lord smiled. “Good. I'm glad to hear it.”
Zoe had almost forgotten she and Jamie were still holding hands. The Doctor however seemed to pick up on it instantly, evident from the large grin that suddenly spread across his face.
“Oh my word, look at you two. How cute!”
Zoe immediately let go of Jamie's hand. Her expression matched his as she glared severely at the Doctor.
“Oh... Oops,” the Doctor squeaked, his eyes widened in what appeared to be abject fear. He seemed catch the quick look his young companions shared and dropped the bowl of nearly finished ice cream. He ran from the room, Jamie and Zoe chasing after him.
“Was it something I said?!” he shouted back in their direction as they chased him further and further down the corridors of the TARDIS.