When this day started, Rose never thought she would end up naked in a shower with the Doctor.
She may have harboured this fantasy somewhere in that naughty corner of her mind, where she kept an increasingly long list of these unrealistic scenarios, but she never allowed herself to believe any of them would actually come to be.
Especially not…like that.
It all started innocently enough, the way it usually did.
“Let’s go to Tuturutu,” he’d said.
“What’s on Tuturutu?”
That was good enough for Rose. He could have said ‘There’s a sky there, and also land,’ and she would have grinned just as foolishly, nearly vibrating with excitement at the thought of visiting yet another world with him.
At this point, Rose beaming at him like a smitten idiot happened about six-hundred times a day; it was important to note that the Doctor beamed at her just as often, and just as stupidly.
Purple eggs sounded fascinating, even if she would have been happy visiting a broom closet with him – another fantasy stored on that long list.
When they got there, they’d barely set foot on the surface and walked a couple hundred metres that the Doctor frowned, the kind of frown that told her he’d ‘whoopsed’ something up again.
“Whoops,” he indeed said, a moment later.
“Not Tuturutu?” Rose guessed.
“Oh, this is Tuturutu.” His frown had turned into a proper scowl. “Wrong millennia, though.”
Rose had travelled with him long enough not to underestimate these mishaps in time. Wrong millennia on Earth had once led to them being chased by an angry crowd, after he’d used his sonic screwdriver and been accused of witchcraft.
Being burned at the stakes? Not on her list.
“Should we…go back?” she asked, before biting on the inside of her cheek in an attempt not to grin.
She lost her battle when he gave her the look. Her smile faltered a little when he took a couple of steps away from her, though, creating a space between them she was definitely not accustomed to. When she frowned at him, he was quick to explain:
“At this time, the Tuturutunians have suffered from a devastating plague, about one hundred and fifty years ago. The virus was mainly transmitted through touch. It took them nearly a decade to eradicate the virus, which annihilated over a third of their population. As a result from their collective trauma, it completely changed their way of living. Touching became forbidden, and punishable by law.”
“You’re kidding,” she said, although she knew he wasn’t.
“Nope. People are required to remain at least three feet apart at all times.”
“That’s…” She searched her brain for a word that would convey her incredulity. “Extreme,” she eventually said.
He shrugged, even as they began walking to the nearby town, already disliking this distance between them. “People will go to extreme lengths to ensure their survival.”
“How does that work, though? I mean, reproduction alone’s gotta be complicated.”
“Nah, not really. Tuturutunians reproduce through external fertilisation,” he explained. “The female lays her eggs, then the male deposits his sperms directly on top of the ova.” When she made a face, he gave her another kind of look. “It only seems odd to you because you’re genetically wired to enjoy the way your species reproduce. Basic survival instincts. To this species, especially at this particular time, the thought of two individuals mating by intertwining and interlocking so many of their body parts while exchanging a substantial amount of fluids…It would be nothing short of revolting to them.”
Revolting definitely was not the adjective Rose would use to describe said act, especially when he was the one describing it.
Not being allowed to touch him at all only made her more aware of him, physically, already feeling an irrational sense of loss.
Surely they didn’t spend that much time touching each other, did they?
As they walked into the town, he continued to explain how the inhabitants of this planet had adapted in order to perform their everyday tasks without any kind of physical contact. Sure enough, even inside the city, no one stood close to one another, everyone making sure to leave a gaping, large space between each other.
Before long, Rose and the Doctor were getting looks, the distance between them being a lot smaller than anyone else around – although he assured her they were obeying the designated three feet rule.
Despite the weirdness of the situation, or how much she missed standing shoulder to shoulder with him with their arms pressed together, Rose was having kind of a fabulous time exploring the town and its various viewpoints, as intoxicated by this novelty that came with alien worlds as she was by the sound of his voice, as he talked and talked and talked.
They found the infamous purple eggs, and Rose happily listened to his latest babbling about the origins and many properties of said eggs, none of them realising that the ‘three feet’ space between them had shrunk to one as he talked and showed her the eggs. Lost in their own little world, they didn’t notice the panicked looks on everybody’s face in the vicinity.
When they turned to walk away from the stand, the way they sought each other’s hand was instinctive. Nothing they could do about it, months of conditioning working against them.
The moment their fingers brushed, all hell broke loose.
There were actual screams, and people running around like headless chicken.
Rose was all too ready to accept a small (metaphorical) slap on the wrist for their terrible, terrible digressing, convinced that in half an hour, she and the Doctor would be back in the TARDIS, laughing about it, hugging each other breathless to prove some kind of point.
When sirens started blaring and they became surrounded by what looked like armed troops, laughing escaped her mind.
“Just do whatever they say,” the Doctor instructed her, both of them now standing a good six feet apart, their hands raised.
This piece of advice, although welcomed, was unnecessary. It wasn’t exactly the first time she found herself in that kind of situation with him, fully expecting him to talk their way out of this, undoubtedly about to brandish his psychic paper, claiming they worked for the Intergalactic Health & Safety Division, here to test the response time of their emergency team and blimey talk about efficiency, truly impressive, well done, gold stars for all of you!
That wasn’t quite how things panned out.
It all happened so fast that Rose would later struggle to remember details.
One moment they were standing in the street, the next they weren’t, ushered inside a vehicle instead; since the Tuturutunians refused to touch anyone, they forced them to move by blowing thin and extremely unpleasant streams of air directly into their faces.
It was surprisingly efficient.
Within two minutes, they were forced inside a building, then into a small room, ‘air-pressured’ in there by a group of aliens in Hazmat suits. Rose was observant enough to immediately understand they’d entered a decontamination chamber.
“Blimey they really don’t – ” the Doctor started, but that’s one sentence he never got to finish.
Some kind of light had just flashed in the room, like a laser. Its sole purpose, apparently, was to zap the entirety of their clothes into nothingness.
The Doctor’s jaws hung open as he stared at her and she stared at him.
No more than one, maybe two seconds passed before they both snapped out of their stupor, hastily looking away, but that second and three-quarter was more than enough to see…a lot.
Thankfully, any of the extreme awkwardness that was bound to happen was postponed for the time being, as powerful sprays of cold water erupted from every direction, mixed with a flurry of strong chemical scents. Rose was barely done letting out her initial shriek of shock and displeasure that the water stopped, replaced by equally strong gushes of drying air.
They’d encountered this kind of technology on various planets and facilities before.
Never naked, though.
The whole ordeal didn’t last more than a minute, from the moment their clothes vanished to the moment they were directed out of the chamber, and forced into two separate rooms.
As soon as the door closed shut behind her, a vent overhead opened up, a sealed package dropping at her feet. She only glanced around, but that was enough to notice the large, transparent wall that seemed to be separating her from the Doctor – who stood equally naked in his own room.
She grabbed at the package, hoping for some kind of clothes, relieved to find what resembled plain scrubs inside, hurrying to put them on. When she dared another glance towards the Doctor, he was finishing covering himself up, already examining his room as he did so. She completed the examination of her own cell quickly enough, as it contained little to no furniture; there was a thin mat on the floor, and an odd looking bowl she hoped wasn’t their alien version of a toilet.
Overall, not as bad as it could be. They’d most definitely been stuck in worse places.
Silence was what made her refocus on the Doctor, unused to this lack of verbal observations to go along with his visual ones. This oddity solved itself when she looked at him and realised that his lips were moving as he examined every corner of his room.
She just couldn’t hear anything he was saying.
Rose came closer to the wall separating them. The bottom of it was opaque, and seemingly made of concrete; from her waist up to the ceiling, the material was transparent, allowing her to see clearly through the other room.
She cautiously brought a hand to it; she’d long ago learned to be cautious of any material on alien ships or planets. When she gently pressed a fingertip to it, it felt familiar, hard and smooth to the touch.
The Doctor had noticed her movements, already coming to stand in front of her, pressing his fingertip exactly where hers was. She looked up at him, but he did not look at her – not really; head tilted, his gaze was fixed on the spot where their fingers were ‘pressed’ together, one eyebrow crooked.
He met her eyes, and spoke. Once again, she didn’t hear anything at all.
“Can’t hear you,” she said, pointing at her ear with a shake of her head.
He raised both his hands in front of him, palms facing each other, leaving a large space between them, and spoke again.
It’s thick, she managed to understand.
She nodded. “How long are they gonna keep us here?” she asked.
He was frowning a little, his eyes focused on her lips, and although she knew he was doing it for communication purposes, it didn’t keep her face from getting warmer when he met her eyes again, unable to forget that three minutes ago, she’d stood completely naked in front of him.
He answered her, slowly, obviously more adept than her at reading lips. As it turned out, she was absolutely rubbish at it.
After he spoke the same words five times in a row at different speeds and she just carried on frowning and shaking her head, he waved a dismissive hand, before going back to talking to himself.
Rose watched as he moved away from the glass, back to inspecting his room, his lips incessantly moving. She couldn’t hear his rambling, but his body language was telling enough; he was getting slightly annoyed by the whole situation, now, and was trying really hard not to show it.
From the looks of it, they were in one rectangular room, which had been split right in the middle by the glass wall separating them. The Doctor’s half had exactly the same items as hers, mat and toilet bowl included. On the wall on each side of the glass, there were lines in the shape of an arch, which he was now examining, still talking to himself, although she could easily figure out that this was their only way out.
At this point, there was nothing to do but wait.
She felt restless and a bit stir crazy, already, her body still buzzing with the heavy dose of adrenaline that had shot through her veins, but she was willing to just grin and bear it. The Doctor, however, might bear it with some reluctance, he didn’t seem that keen to grin about it, more inclined to scowl, from the looks of it.
Rose soon discovered that watching him go through this forced isolation in which he was not allowed to talk to (nor touch) her to pass the time, was rather entertaining in itself.
He paced his side of the room. A lot. His lips rarely stopped moving as he moved from one side to the other, again and again and again, sometimes hopping on one foot, sometimes doing it backwards – to spice things up a little.
She had no idea how much time had passed when he came back to the glass wall, but she suspected it hadn’t been that long; it just felt like it. He leaned forward, and Rose almost heard the thump when his forehead came to rest heavily against the glass.
Satisfied that he had her attention, his lips moved again. Even rubbish as she was at it, she understood his words well enough.
She came closer to the wall. Physical proximity was all kind of pointless, but she couldn’t help feeling drawn to him.
“I know,” she spoke softly, feeling these tiny prickles in the small of her back again as he stared intently at her lips. “Maybe we can keep busy.”
He frowned, even as he moved, squishing half his cheek and temple against the glass, like a despondent kid pressing their face to a window, still managing to maintain eye contact.
“Let’s play some games, yeah?” she suggested.
Figuring out which games they could play and more importantly how to play them, kept them occupied for a fairly good chunk of time. He regularly got this overly excited look on his face whenever he thought of something, literally bouncing on the spot, as he was already bursting with excess energy at being trapped in this small space.
Unfortunately Rose wasn’t just rubbish at reading lips. She was appallingly rubbish at it, which made him explaining whatever game he’d come up with rather complicated.
That’s when the Doctor started miming.
He turned out to be naturally good at it, which didn’t surprise her in the least, considering how physically demonstrative this incarnation of him had been from the moment he regenerated in front of her. He was obviously responding to her reactions, too. She didn’t understand his gesticulating much better than his silent speech, but she couldn’t help bursting into laughter with his every attempt, something the Doctor seemed to be enjoying rather than be upset with, even without any sound to go with it.
They ended up playing some kind of ‘I Spy’ game, which didn’t work that well, given the lack of things to spy on in their prison, and their inability to communicate their guesses or answers properly, until the vents overhead opened up again, and dumped what looked like packaged food into their respective rooms.
As she watched the Doctor tear through the pack, she thought he was merely hungry. He didn’t eat anything at all, though. He’d grabbed a pot that contained some kind of thick liquid, before dipping his finger into it, examining it.
He was back to the window in a flash to write on it. With the sauce.
Rose got a bit enthusiastic, too, for about two seconds, convinced he was finally going to share with her the well-thought escape plan he’d come up with. Her hopes deflated quickly when she realised he wasn’t actually writing on the glass.
He was drawing lines, like dashes. Eight of them. He then waited, expectantly, beaming at her like the proud idiot that he was.
He sniggered – or what looked like a snigger, before beginning to trace the post from which she had no doubt a stick figure would soon be hanging.
Rose got bored with all these ‘games’ before he did.
Her adrenaline was long gone, now feeling the effects of stress instead, unable to keep her mood from plummeting as the hours dragged on. They were trapped here for who knew how long, unable to properly communicate with each other, with one half of their window now covered in goo from the various games they’d just played, and she had to be honest about it: she missed him.
He was standing meters away from her, on the other side of that glass, yet she couldn’t reach him.
She couldn’t hear his voice, couldn’t feel his arms around her, pulling her in for one of those tight hugs she loved so much.
She truly hadn’t realised how dependent on his touch or his voice she’d become.
He noticed her sudden bout of pessimism, of course; he didn’t even have to mouth the words Are you okay? for her to read the question in his eyes.
“I’m just tired,” she said, before indicating the mat. “I’m gonna try sleeping a little.”
He nodded, his expression back to being a bit grim, but he did smile at her, then, a sweet kind of smile that made her heart ache. He walked away from the glass, giving her some ‘space’, going back to pacing, obviously lost in his thoughts.
Rose didn’t think she’d actually sleep, and was surprised when she did.
She had no idea how long she slept for, but she felt slightly better when she woke up, a smile quickly pulling at her lips when she looked at the window.
All she could see of the Doctor were his scrubs-covered legs sticking up.
She couldn’t see the lower half of his room, not while she was lying on her mat, but she could easily picture him on the floor on his back, spread eagle with his gangly legs up against the glass…bored out of his Time Lord mind.
Rose used this opportunity to quickly figure out how to use the ‘toilet bowl’; she felt even better after releasing her bladder.
She walked back to the wall and stood in front of his…legs, pressing her forehead to the window to peer down, finding him exactly as she’d pictured him.
He looked absolutely miserable.
She brought a hand up and tap-tapped on the glass. He couldn’t hear it, obviously, but the movement caught his eyes, finally noticing her.
He scrambled back on his feet impressively fast to come stand in front of her, his legs slightly spread apart so he could be more at her level. He lifted his hand, mirroring her again by putting his fingertips where hers still rested. She smiled a little, stretching out her hand to press her palm fully upon the glass, watching as he did the same, palm against palm, only separated by a few centimetres of glass.
When she looked back at him, he wasn’t smiling, gazing at her with the kind of intensity that always reminded her of the many years he’d lived through. He was the one to move then, lightly resting his cheek and temple against the glass; it was her turn to mirror him, wishing she could feel his skin instead of cool glass.
His fingers began to move again, but she didn’t move hers, transfixed by what he was doing, his fingertips slowly tracing her palm. Despite the thick glass separating their hands, a shiver travelled Rose’s arm, before crawling down her spine.
The tingles intensified as his fingertips carried on their remote exploration, now following her forearm; when they moved on to trace the shape of her upper arm, she unpinned her cheek from the glass, realising he’d already done so himself, his gaze focused on what his fingers were doing, now going from her shoulder to her chest, his thumb slowly circling a very specific spot.
When she looked up at him and met his gaze, the tingles in her spine turned into a sweet, sweet ache somewhere deep and low.
Their captors chose this exact moment to open up their doors.
They found themselves kicked out of the building even faster than they’d been brought inside of it.
Rose was so shocked by this unexpected resolution that she didn’t even think to speak as they were escorted outside, being given a stern lecture about how inappropriate they were, and that their inability to keep their distance even when quarantined in different rooms was the most shameful thing they’d ever witnessed.
“Don’t ever come back!” they were eventually told, generously sprayed with jets of air the way one might spray water on their misbehaving cat, sent on their way in nothing but their thin scrubs.
The moment they were left alone, they burst into laughter, and the sound of his laugh was the most beautiful thing Rose had ever heard.
She had to use every ounce of control she possessed not to squeeze him with all her might, and from the way he was looking at her, he seemed to feel about the same.
“Did you know they’d react like that?” Rose asked once they’d calmed down a little.
“Well,” he said, drawing out that one syllable in that voice, and dear lord, he’d never sounded more delicious. “I did have an inkling they might not approve. Mind you, there was also a fifty percent chance it might result in a swift execution.”
She shook her head with an affectionate smile. “That was some risky odds, Doctor, even for you.”
The way he stared at her then warmed her up even more than his voice. “Would you believe me if I admitted I didn’t actually do it hoping to escape, but that I just really, really missed touching you?”
She bit down on her lower lip, blushing like the fool in love that she was. “Yeah, actually, I would.” She let her tongue peak out between her teeth. “I miss touching you, too.”
He blinked, before his face broke in his most manic grin.
“What d’you say we get the hell out of here, so we can go back to doing just that, eh?” he finally suggested.
She beamed in response; before long they were running back to the TARDIS, careful not to hold hands as they did so.
Any semblance of caution disappeared the moment they burst through the doors. As soon as they were inside, Rose nothing short of jumped into his arms, clinging onto him in sheer delight; he held on to her just as tightly, cooing his happiness into her shoulder as he rocked them from side to side and she filled her lungs to the brim with the intoxicating smell of him.
She was still wrapped around him when he made his way to the console, a tad clumsily for sure, but he seemed as reluctant to let her down as she was to get down; she was already lightheaded from his smell, high on the feel of him, yet she couldn’t get enough.
He entered the dematerialisation sequence with one hand, barely looking at what he was doing, before sending the ship into the Time Vortex. Given his lack of care, this shift through time and space was rather tumultuous, sending the two of them to the ground in a mess of entangled limbs and roaring laughter, the Doctor more or less pinning her to the grating.
Before long, Rose’s laughter was morphing into a different kind of sound, more a breathy moan than a laugh, as the Doctor’s face had found the crook of her neck, now using his lips and tongue to trace her skin the way his fingers had been tracing her arm, not so long ago. She couldn’t do much besides bury her fingers deep in his hair and maybe slip a hand inside the back of his scrubs – which she did.
“Rose Tyler,” he spoke right into her ear, his voice raspy and low as one of his hands disappeared between them and found the hem of her scrubs. “I'm afraid our nonverbal communication skills were absolutely abysmal in there. I suggest we…practise.”
And so, practise they did.