This was a bad, bad idea. He knew he should have been stricter and more authoritative in asserting his point of view, but it wasn’t that easy anymore, no.
Now Rose had an accomplice.
Captain Jack bloody Harkness. Rose’s new partner in crime. Favourite partner in crime, the Doctor added acerbically. He was supposed to be the impressive one; he was the driver of the magnificent intergalactic ship, the keeper of the knowledge about everything in the whole wide world, the alien who could dance .
The blue-eyed man stopped his actions for a moment and grunted self-reproachfully. Very adult-like of him, to be jealous and petty over Rose’s attentions being spread towards their new companion. But the American was infuriating. Rose was looking like an actual flower more and more in the days following the events in the World War Two during the London Blitz, where Rose was effectively swept off her feet by the dashing rascal. She was blooming under the gentle string of compliments and kissy sounds that fell from Jack’s lips every time the young duo spoke.
The Doctor didn’t even realise Rose was this starved for attention, and felt both irritated and sad at the same time.
Irritated, because she always left a trail of moon-eyed boys in her wake, and she didn’t even seem to notice him shooing them away from her with intimidating glares. No one was good enough to pursue Rose romantically. Not in his eyes, anyway.
Sad, because that meant that he wasn’t good enough to pursue Rose, too. Not him, the old, broody, angry at the Universe, broken shell of a soldier. But she’d graced him with her presence and gentle companionship (okay, okay, she was the gentle one, their companionship was rocky sometimes (most of the time)), and he wasn’t about to prove to her that he wasn’t worthy of her. He’d seize the chance the life threw at him and enjoy the bliss of not being lonely and feared of while it lasts. He’d think about the consequences of getting attached later. Much later.
The Doctor rolled his eyes in irritation and sighed, annoyed, too many times for his liking in the past few days. The Captain, although aware of the “hands off the blonde” vibe transmitted by the Doctor upon Jack’s entering the beautiful Tardis, didn’t seem to take the warning all too seriously. He was far too relaxed, the Doctor thought sourly. The ambiguous comments patterned the conversations between the three of them, and a whole lot of charming smiles and waggling eyebrows were sent Rose’s way.
The thing that drove the Doctor mad?
Rose didn’t seem to mind! She actually enjoyed the heavy flirting, however fake and exaggerated it looked.
And Jack showed no signs of stopping.
The bloody Captain was the one who corrupted Rose into attending the bar in the 22nd century on Earth. Rose wanted something close to home, but not close in time to step into her friends and relatives who might see her out and about in London. She said she needed to unwind a bit after the events in the 20th century, and Rose said that his surly face didn’t help the tension.
To say that the Doctor was scandalised was to say nothing at all.
Magically, her favourite pub from the teenage years (both the Doctor and Jack snorted at that and exchanged amused glances) was still there, and even sported the same name! “Desert Rose” was written in golden gleaming cursive.
How fitting, grumbled the Doctor.
Rose, stuck in the desert of the Doctor’s company, now showing her pure beauty under the rain of compliments supplied by Jack.
Stuck on the baby-sitting duty, the Doctor watched Rose get pleasantly buzzed (not without his help, of course, and not without Jack’s help, too, which turned out to be counter-effective, really). The Doctor provided Rose with the snacks that were high in nutritional quality (he didn’t fancy pulling her hair from here face if she became sick because of drinking on empty stomach) while Jack provided the blonde with the alcoholic delicacies (she hadn’t tried the new types of 22nd century cocktails before but she swore she wouldn’t leave without trying all the unknown ones).
It wasn’t as the Doctor had to attend the party. Quite on the contrary. Jack, after seeing to Rose’s having some time to doll up in the Tardis wardrobe, actually offered the Doctor out of the whole business.
“I know you’re tired of us, Doctor, and I understand that you crave some privacy. You’re the..., - Jack gestured his hand towards Doctor’s body, - you’re the kind of a man who needs quiet. Now, Rose and I, - the blue-eyed Captain smiled arrogantly, - we are far from quiet. So, it’s a fair deal, you get to sulk in silence, Rose gets the chance to unwind – honestly, I have no idea how you’ve been able to keep a girl like Rose celibate all this time...”
The Doctor snapped immediately.
“Language! This is Rose you’re talking about!”
Jack raised his hands in mock surrender.
“I mean no offence, buddy. But come on, you know it, I know it, the whole population compatible with Rose’s physiology knows it – she's pretty, Doc, and she’s full of hormones she can’t tamper down being young, beautiful and alive,” Jack enunciated the last word.
“Oi! - complained the Doctor, - I’m very much alive myself, thank you.”
Jack only laughed and shook his head good-naturedly. “Oh, Doctor, there’s no doubts on that statement. About your celibate, however...”
The Doctor punched Jack’s arm forcefully. “Stop it! - after a few moments of silent consideration and weighing his options, - I can’t leave Rose alone.”
Jack interrupted immediately.
“She won’t be alone. I will be with her. I promise you, Doc, she’ll be in my care.”
“That’s what I’m afraid of,” the Doctor added unhappily.
Jack’s face softened a good measure.
“Doctor, you may not believe me if I swear on my honour, but I swear that I won’t let harm befall Rose. Can’t say anything about boys, though – she's ought to have her fun!”
“Nah, it’s not you that’s the problem, - the Doctor stopped abruptly when Jack smiled lasciviously, - I take that back, you are a problem, too, but not the problem. Rose has a habit of being...jeopardy friendly. And it’s been three weeks since the barrage balloon, and nothing happened after that.”
Jack sighed ruefully.
“Now you’ve jinxed it!”
The Doctor sighed heavily. He couldn’t just stay silent, could he? It was as if he was asking for problems, really.
Little did the men know that they, indeed, jinxed Rose’s lucky weeks of no danger.
Both men knew that Rose was a pretty girl. The Doctor knew it better than Jack, of course, because he was lucky to witness Rose’s radiance and youthful glow in the Victorian ensemble in 1869 and on some occasions after that when she had a chance to play “dress up” for their adventures.
Rose loved trying on historical pieces. She ooohed and aaaahed at each item, fingering them with infinite care, and there were many occasions when the Doctor had to tell Rose that she could wear anything displayed in the Tardis’ wardrobe according to the period of history they were visiting; the girl was reluctant to try on some of the finer gowns because she was afraid to look out of place and silly in them. Also, she had this ridiculous fear of damaging something – the Doctor scoffed – as if the pearls and fine muslins were more precious and meaningful than Rose herself.
He was happy and grateful, too, because Rose was always so careful with the things the Tardis provided and with the Tardis herself, and the Doctor felt humbled by her appreciation and gratitude of what travelling with him offered her.
It was him who was supposed to be grateful for her presence and companionship. The light and hope after so many years of darkness and bitterness.
Still, even the Doctor wasn’t prepared for what expected him once Rose entered the console room. Low appreciative whistling accompanied her appearance, as Jack was surely as affected by Rose as the Doctor was.
She was wearing a pink sequined dress that wasn’t too short or too provocative – no, by all means, the garment was of the reasonable length and cleavage – it was the fact that the Doctor was madly attracted to his female companion making Rose irresistible.
He was a goner.
The dress is shining daintily in the mute lighting of the Tardis, and the Doctor can only imagine what it will pulse like in the crazy fluorescents of the club the time travellers are about to attend. Her makeup is sultry and overall enticing, her hair is in bouncy curls, and the blond locks dance with every girl’s movement.
He has never seen her do her hair like that.
Overall, Rose looks like one of the prettiest and exquisite china dolls he has ever had to lay his gaze upon in his lives. Sure, she is not the most beautiful woman in the Universe; but she is his Rose, and that makes her much more important and desirable to the Doctor.
Did he mention that he was the lost cause?
The Doctor struggles out of his reverie when Rose starts squirming self-consciously and wringing her hands, her lower lip caught in her teeth.
“Rose! - the Doctor manages to squeak, but it’s too high-pitched and it makes him cringe, - you look...you look pretty!” there. Not so bad, is it?
Jack tsks irritably and swished closer to Rose, taking her left hand and kissing the back of it. “What the Doctor means to say, of course, is that you look stunning. You would be taken into custody immediately at least on 27 planets for going out looking the way you look now,” Jack delivers Rose the compliment smoothly, causing the blush to spread on her cheeks and neck. She drops her gaze to her feet encased in low-heeled shoes that will allow her to dance the night away without complaining for the heels to kill her legs. The cream-coloured shoes’ thin straps hug her ankles snuggly, and she looks almost fragile in the outfit of her choice.
The Doctor nods, and Rose looks up, her usual confidence getting back to her once she sees that the Doctor agrees with Jack. There’s a bounce in her step as she tucks her hands in the crooks of her companions’ arms, and the night promises the three of the vagabonds a perfect distraction.
It’s half past one in the morning, and the Doctor wants either to die from boredom or explode because of the endless number of lads who keep chasing after Rose. Of course, he needn’t worry – Jack is supervising the dance floor while displaying his suave moves and charming attitude to anyone willing (and there are a lot of willing people, too), and the American scares away anyone who stays for more than one dance with Rose (or glares murderously at any chap who has wandering hands). Rose is complacent enough and doesn’t throw up a tantrum for the duo’s Neanderthalic behaviour (she’s not their possession, thank you very much, and although the overbearing care seems to be too much sometimes, it’s nice to lose herself in the pumping beat of the music and not to worry about someone spiking her drink or about assertive blokes who don’t know the concept of the word “no”.) Besides, Rose is grateful for the outing, and she is satisfied with the Time Lord’s reaction to her carefully planned outfit, and the music here is good.
Also, the drinks Jack provides her with leave her a little tipsy, and she wonders lazily if she should stop or indulge herself once in a while. The Doctor isn’t happy about her and Jack getting sloshed, and she never complains, but she feels brave because of the Doctor’s reaction to her initial appearance in the Tardis this evening, and thinks she could get away with getting a wee bit drunk (she knew he wasn’t immune to the killer outfit charm, like any other human bloke). That fleeting thought makes her smile coyly.
In the end, Rose drinks a couple more of “Diamond Seashore” cocktails, which look exactly like seashore with diamonds (the diamonds are sugar in the form of the jewel stones, and the alcoholic beverage that surrounds them is something that tastes close to martini, and there are pink swirls of raspberry juice in the flute. It’s tastes delicious and is just pretty. Rose likes pretty things. Alright, maybe she’s already drunk.)
She is surprised when the dance floor is covered with the crawling synthetic fog, and she is more than shocked when said fog seems to be rising towards her face. Or is it her falling? And why on Earth is it so hard to take a breath?!
She thinks that she hears a stream of profanities, and someone is not quick enough to soften her fall to the floor. The world seems to be swimming in haze, the drumming lights are watered down and dimming in and out of her eyesight repetitively. Then Rose is certain that the Doctor is near, and she relaxes – there is no way he’d let her be endangered.
After that the beat and the overwhelming pressure in her chest make her give into the blackness that was curling around the edges of her eyesight.
“Fuck! What the hell happened? Did you see anyone near her?”
The Doctor barely notices the curses that fall from Jack’s lips as he hovers above Rose’s prone form and hastily pulls out a sonic to scan for anything that might be wrong.
He notices that Rose isn’t breathing, and suspects the reason for her atypical fainting spell (Rose is no damsel in distress, he learned that the hard way, though she still isn’t made from titanium, and therefore, isn’t indestructible). Severe allergic reaction that provoked the swelling in her throat is preventing her from taking a breath. Every fibre of his being wants to panic and run around in circles while cursing and fretting like Jack does, but he can’t allow that.
Not when Rose’s life was at stake.
He counts the time needed to administer the antihistamine before she is in real danger from oxygen deprivation, and picks her up from the dance floor in one swift motion.
He congratulates himself for parking the Tardis just left to the left of the bar. The golden sign is flickering, the lamps inside it are powering out after being used for too long, and the Doctor doesn’t let himself make the parallels with a fading rose on the sign and a fading Rose in his arms.
It takes a minute to reach the Tardis, and Jack is already opening the door with his key, and the Doctor congratulates himself again with trusting the Captain with the key. The travellers are stepping in the med bay of the Tardis several seconds later, and the Doctor carefully lowers Rose down on the crinkly sheets of the observation table. He then proceeds to pull out the antihistamine hypo from one of the cabinets above the medical scanner and, wincing at the pain he’s about to inflict, pushes the hypo’s needle into the outer part of her thigh. Rose flinches even in her unconscious state, and the Doctor frowns, mentally reminding himself to pull out the dermal regenerator after she’ll be conscious. And some ice, too.
The Time Lord counts the precious seconds before her first inhale and can’t help but slouches when Rose breathes in freely after 35 seconds of agonising waiting. The swelling starts going down. Good.
He hears Jack let out a relieved breath the same moment Rose took in oxygen.
The danger has passed, but Rose needs time and medicine to recover. Also, there’s a pressing need to pull off her clothes as they are still contaminated with the allergen, and both he and Jack should change, too. He informs the Captain and the lad agrees willingly to vacate the med bay in order to get rid of the current outfit. The Doctor knows Jack is shaken, and it is another confirmation that he isn’t just a conman anymore, he cares about Rose, at least.
The Doctor shucks the leather jacket and thinks again before putting it in one of the “biohazard” hampers along with the jeans and jumper. Rose is out cold, so he isn’t worried about her waking up and seeing him in all his “glory”. He then proceeds putting on grey scrubs that the Tardis helpfully provides so that he doesn’t have to lose time by going to his bedroom to find a new combo of jeans and jumper.
Now, to the hard part.
The Doctor needs to change Rose before helping with the soon-to-be hangover he notices on the Tardis’ scans. The medicine to counter attack the allergic reaction won’t do much good while she’s in the clothes from the club. The Doctor smiles with one corner of his lips when the Tardis puts out the pink scrubs for Rose to change into.
He thought that actually undressing Rose would be a challenge, but he realises with a startle that he cannot think about anything but making Rose safe. He is a man on a mission, and the mission is to make sure that Rose is out of danger. His hands are trembling with the excesses of adrenaline, and he can barely recollect what colour Rose’s briefs are after he pulls the shiny dress off her body and throws it into the hamper to his leather jacket. The Tardis will take care of the items, he knows. Better than the dry cleaners, his ship. Very careful and considerate.
After Rose’s dress is taken care of, the Doctor starts an IV to help her body flush out the amount of alcohol she consumed while dancing the night away with all sorts of aliens on the dance floor. Rose will never know (unless he actually tells her) that there were more aliens masked as human males than actual humans who wanted a piece of Rose’s beauty and radiance to make their nights warmer both physically and mentally.
But the Doctor is a greedy man. He won’t share. Rose doesn’t belong to him, by all means, but he isn’t about to go and let stupid boys enjoy the brilliant joy of Rose’s presence.
Greedy, as he said. And stupid, also, because he knew what he felt for Rose was illegal on many levels where he originally came from.
He didn’t care.
The Doctor was put out of his darkening thoughts by a low moan that escaped Rose. Seems that his companion was coming to.
He looked at her face and suppressed a smile. She looked, and he’d deny using this word until his last breath, adorable. Dishevelled, bleary, a little cross-eyed because of the abating hangover and disorientation. The Doctor noticed her straining her throat to say something, but put up his hand as if telling her “shush”.
“You, Rose Tyler, are apparently allergic to the hydroplyovex that is the main component of the synthetic fog in the entertainment industry. The people start using it sometime around 2070s. Cheaper than the one that is used in the cinema. But, of course, being jeopardy-friendly as you are, you pulled the short stick and was left in the 3% of humans who are allergic to it. Congratulations”, the Doctor tried to sound cheery and not too sarcastic, but it was hard to take control of his turbulent emotions. He nearly lost her.
“The swelling will diminish within a couple of hours, and then you’ll be ready to natter on again as you love to,” this time the Doctor was awarded with Rose’s rolling her eyes. “How’s your head?”
Rose waved her free from the IV hand as if indicating “so-so”. He hummed, checking the bag on the pole. “You’ve got too much to drink. Liked the Diamond Seashores, didn’t you?”
The blonde blushed slightly. There was still some paleness lingering in her features, but she looked much better now. Alive. Not still and unmoving.
Rose shifted and gasped slightly, frowning at her hip. The frown only deepened when she realised that she wasn’t wearing her sequined dress anymore.
It was the Doctor’s turn to redden now.
“Don’t look at me like that. I’m the Doctor and a doctor, too. Seen hundreds of bodies, me. Oi! Wipe that smirk off your face, Rose Tyler! Blimey, you, humans, think only about dancing. How do you manage get anything done with an attitude like that?” He could swear he was as red as a tomato then. A few moments later he turned serious and put a gentle hand on her hip where the hypo went some thirty odd minutes ago. “The antihistamine was needed to be put in there, - he supplied, stroking the pink cotton cloth on her thigh carefully, - I’ll deal with the bruise a little later. Now sit still before the IV finishes. I’ll go and fetch some tea and tell Jack that you’re fine. He got really scared, I’m telling you, - the Doctor paused briefly and looked into Rose’s eyes, - me too, Rose. Don’t scare me like that.”
Her brown eyes were warm and soft, so impossibly soft he thought she couldn’t be possibly looking at him. Rose smiled sincerely and mouthed “sorry” and held out her hand. The Doctor grasped it gratefully. Her hands were slightly cold, and he rubbed her palms in both of his to provide some warmth. He released her hands and pulled out a blanket from one of the cabinets and settled it over Rose’s smaller form. The Doctor smiled tightly before going to the galley.
Rose was looking almost like her normal self three hours and two cups of tea later. She was able to reply to some of the Jack’s salacious comments and jokes after the swelling in her throat went down a bit, and was laughing in earnest when Jack reviewed some of the old fairy tales with saucy remarks.
“All the beds, Rose, I’m telling you. The blonde girl actually slept in all the beds in the house. How do you people tell these stories to your children?! And here you are chastising me for acting inappropriate when you, little madam, - Jack pinched her cheek playfully and Rose swatted his hand away half-heartedly, - were the one to grow up listening to these stories! Scandalous!”
The Doctor wasn’t able to stop a smile that crept onto his face. Jack.
Rose started yawning with repeated intervals, and Jack rolled his eyes good-naturedly. “Ah, I’m losing my charms. The lady is about to fall asleep in my company. Doctor, you must let me go somewhere to polish my skills!”
“You wish, Captain.”
Jack smiled gently and kissed Rose’s cheek, completely ignoring Doctor’s jealous scowl. The American made himself scarce with a loud “Sweet dreams, Team Tardis!”, but the Doctor could see some of the lingering shakiness that overwhelmed Jack’s body.
Oh, Rose. His Rose. The bringer of the good in people.
Rose stretched her lips in a tired smile. The Doctor helped her hop off the examination table and put his arm around her shoulders to steady her gate. She was a little weak still, but that was nothing a couple of days of bed rest couldn’t cure. She would drive him insane, of course – imagine Rose Tyler suffering through the bed rest, but he wouldn’t let her out of his eyesight until he was one hundred percent sure that she was alright, and the allergen left no toxic traces in her system. They would think of something. There were series to watch, classics to read, things to let her rant about...he might even treat her to a story or two from his own past. Something upbeat and light.
Just like his Rose.
Rose pecks a kiss on his cheek when he tucks her in. She giggles and tells him to stop hovering, and he smiles, but she won’t know that he’ll check on her every hour throughout that night, too afraid to believe the scans from the med bay indicating that Rose is fine and will continue be fine after a good sleep and several more doses of medicine.
The clubs are strictly overviewed from now on, and a hypo that fights the allergic reaction takes permanent residence in one of the Doctor’s pockets now.