His companion stepped through the doors of the Tardis looking positively radiant. And satisfied. Yet it didn’t bring the Doctor any happiness as it happened usually when he saw the delighted look on Rose’s face.
Because at that moment he wasn’t the reason for her happiness.
He stiffened and closed the leather jacket closer over his body as if getting ready for a fight.
A fight for Rose’s affections.
Not that he needed to prove anything, really. Rose and him were an item, officially, though Jackie didn’t know that. Yet. The Doctor speculated if he should turn the other cheek or let Jackie slap the one she slapped earlier after he’d brought her only daughter back home 12 months later instead of 12 hours.
He’s gone barmy. As if he, the greatest of the great, the last of the Time Lords, could be afraid of what some boisterous woman from the Estates thought of him.
He was also a liar.
The Doctor was afraid. But not for the reasons stated above. The Time Lord was scared of ruining the silent treaty between Jackie and him.
A promise to keep Rose safe and happy.
Besides, said loud woman was Rose’s mum, and Rose was from the Estates, too, and he should never say things like that. Firstly, because he didn’t care. Secondly, because his precious companion was fantastic even though she wasn’t privileged like Adam or Jabe were, for example. Sure, Jabe was brilliant and brave, but she came from the world of wealth and entitlement. Adam was an idiot, yet came from an advantageous background, too.
His Rose was smart and bright just by being Rose. Some days, she was wise beyond her years, some days she didn’t want to be a grown-up she was forced to become so soon and wished to cry and curl into his embrace like a child.
The latter was the trigger to the status change in their relationship. After the events in 1987, Rose didn’t have mental or physical capacity to be strong, to hold the emotions behind the carefully constructed barriers. Not even from him.
Oh, he knew she put on a tough exterior for his sake. The Doctor hadn’t witnessed any other of Rose’s inescapable breakdowns after the one on the Platform One at the very end of her human world.
But the Time Lord wasn’t stupid and didn’t have any illusions about Rose being made of steel. Rather he didn’t have any illusions about Rose’s heart being made of titanium. He heard her cry sometimes when he passed her room while going from the console room into the library or to his own bedroom, yet he didn’t think it fitting to invade her personal space.
The night after 1987 was the catalyst for the quickly developing chemistry in their dynamics. Rose broke down completely sitting behind the kitchen table, clutching a cup of stale tea, after she spent a night silently wallowing in her grief alone. The Doctor knew he didn’t have it in him to leave his precious companion suffering on her own.
So, he hushed her as best as he could, rocked her while she stood clutching to the lapels of his leather jacket and swore that he forgave her the first time she said sorry in the church (it didn’t stop Rose from wailing teary “sorry” at least 7 more times. The Doctor honestly thought he would have to go and find the Bible in the library to prove to his devastated companion that he wasn’t, indeed, angry with her, that he truly forgave her).
The things changed for the better from there on. The Doctor knew that he shouldn’t say anything yet about the new relationship status as they were still in the first honeymoon stage and haven’t been through a lot to test their value as a couple. Still, the honeymoon stage ...
The flower-y, jeweller-ey, cand-ey, impress your girl-ey stage .
Or the wooing stage, as Rose called it.
Yet they didn’t do anything of the like. Rose never expected him to do so, and never voiced her displeasure, and he was glad to get off the hook. Rose knew the cost of being with him – and he paid no lesser price, really.
He had to live with the regrets of losing her one day. Yet his young companion made him brave enough to face that fact sometime in the future, smiled sweetly at him and used his ears as a wheel to drive his lips to hers for a splendid star-shattering snog.
He would think about the impairing pain when she is gone. Maybe he’d be lucky and wouldn’t have to witness her dying. Maybe one morning after she’d wake up Rose would realise that he was not what she needed in this life, not the man of her dreams, and would leave him while she was still young and healthy and happy. Maybe she would grant him the gift of remembering her eternally youthful.
Right now, though, he didn’t like seeing Rose holding a gift from someone else.
“What’s that, then?” he inquired, going for nonchalant attitude.
Rose put the items on display and his hearts stuttered.
There was a rival in affections towards Rose!
For Rose happily showed him a red box of Lindt Valentine’s Day chocolates along with some shiny nonsense Rose loved to adorn herself with. The Doctor couldn’t understand the need for that and asked Rose about all the jewellery on her. The question made her self-aware and sad for some reasons and she asked him if he didn’t like that. The Doctor told her he didn’t care (that made Rose even sadder, go figure). But that was long before they changed the nature of their relationship.
He couldn’t possibly be bothered with thinking about that nonsense being earrings or bangles because the only things he saw at that moment were the hearts on the chocolate box.
The domestics have finally caught up with him. This was the end of their honeymoon stage.
Rose started saying something and the Doctor made himself pay attention to her words.
“There’s this man, Steve, he’s my mum’s best mate. Oi, don’t give me that look! They’re just friends, honest. He and mum went to the same school, actually, I went to that school later, too. Steve’s such a sweet bloke, truly, he has this small tradition of giving me chocolates and trinkets every Valentine’s Day," Rose’s voice is full of enthusiasm and she sounds bubbly, and it grates on Doctor’s strained nerves. "He’s been doing that ever since he found me crying in the playground near my house when I was 13. I haven’t received a single Valentine card that year, and I felt crushed because I knew it was all due to my ugly appearance," again, the Doctor was surprised. His Rose wasn’t ugly, she was the prettiest thing in the whole world to him. "He took me back home to mum and left and returned half an hour later with a small bunch of pink roses and a box of chocolates.”
Rose paused briefly, and the Doctor had the time to mull over the things she told him. So, it wasn’t a rival. On the contrary, a good man, that Steve, not a lot of people would be bothered with the tragedies of a teenage girl’s life.
That meant that his relationships with Rose were safe...relatively.
“Damn you, Tardis”, thought the Doctor sourly. To land them on Valentine’s Day of all days! The impertinent ship knew of his intolerance of all things domestic yet she still tried to push him do the things the humans did to please Rose.
No way. Not in a thousand lifetimes.
Rose continued her monologue after a brief respite.
“Mum did a makeover on me then. Sorted my eyebrows, borrowed some money off the neighbours and bought me pretty jeans and tops on discount in the mall. I wanted to be blonde then but she refused to yield and made me wait until I was 16. After then, well...the hormones hit and by the next Valentine’s Day I was no longer an ugly duckling and received quite a few kisses," Rose giggled. The Doctor adored the sound but he could predict that the story was about to take a turn he wouldn’t like, "both chocolate ones and the real ones.”
Suddenly, Rose stilled and seemed to notice his stormy expression and changed the subject hurriedly.
“But enough of me nattering on. What did you do while I was gone? Where are we off to now? I’m as ready as I’ll ever be, I even took a kip while watching afternoon telly with mum.”
Rose didn’t go near the topic of the celebration or the gifts and didn’t seem disappointed about that at all. The Doctor surmised that Steve’s attentions were enough to fulfil her domestic desires and they were free to do anything they wanted without thinking about hearts, roses, chocolates and dancing.
The latter would be nice, but only in metaphorical way.
The Doctor shook his head. Mind out of the gutter!
Time to stop staying still.
He pulled the complicated sequence of levers, pushed the purple button and turned the crystal globe gently with the tips of his fingers.
He knew just the place to give his lover (what a beautiful title for Rose!) a semblance of romantic holiday. Nothing flashy and definitely nothing 14th-February-related, yet still a nice breather after weeks of running from danger.
The Tardis, however, had other plans.
The Doctor couldn’t understand Rose’s squeals of elation as she stepped out of the Tardis after the Doctor landed the ship. Sure, it wasn’t a regular occasion that they landed in warm and picturesque places, but he wasn’t that bad – he knew he needed impressing Rose so as not to push her away from travelling with him. A careful balance of adrenaline, adventures, danger and recreation.
So why would she react so at seeing a simple coastal city? Okay, the place was nice, but not that nice. A village, a beach, a sea and some palm trees. He’d brought Rose to more beautiful places before in their travels.
The Doctor contemplated the decision of taking off his leather jacket. He wouldn’t be uncomfortable but Rose was all dressed up in summer attire and would surely grouch at him for not shedding his “armour”.
Jacketless it was, then.
He pulled out the sonic and shoved in into the jeans’ pockets. Just to be on the safe side.
He stayed true to his jeans and jumper, though. No way he was going to change into something different.
The Time Lord opened the Tardis’ door and stopped, frozen at the spot.
“Damn you, Tardis,” he murmured into silence.
The skies were of peachy shade, and the enormous magenta sun shone over the purple sand. The fuchsia and lavender-coloured palm trees swayed in a musical breeze.
The Doctor frowned in distaste.
He was going to have a word with his ship.
“Oh God, Doctor, it’s beautiful here!" gushed Rose while swirling in circle with her arms splayed as if in flight. "Thank you, this is such a treat! I always knew you had it in you,” the blonde smiled knowingly.
The man bristled.
“What are you talking about?”
Rose sighed and rolled her eyes in mock exasperation.
“Romance, you daft man. I knew you were a romantic in the heart of your hearts," she closed her eyes and swayed gently in time with the palm trees, "thank you for bringing me here.”
The Doctor panicked. Rose was getting all the wrong signals. So, naturally, he did the only thing that he usually resolved to when emotions were included.
He started acting like a git.
“It wasn’t where we were supposed to land. Don’t get all touchy-feely. You couldn’t get closer to domestics with Valentine’s Day and all that inane romance. We can walk around a bit but I planned on going somewhere else,” the Doctor all but lashed out at his partner.
Rose’s face was astonished, then crumpled a little, and after that a polite neutral expression appeared in her features.
The Doctor knew Rose long enough to realise that he hurt her, and on Valentine’s Day, no less. She hadn’t asked a single thing of him, didn’t make any cautious remarks about the oncoming holiday, didn’t drill his brain about flowers and gifts and dates like many human females did. And he just had to open his mouth and ruin the accidental surprise the Tardis wanted Rose to have.
Now all he had were a stroppy ship, a beautiful but useless landscape and a saddened companion in tow. Again, Rose hadn’t uttered a thing about his rude behaviour.
He hoped that she would. Anything was better than hurt or angered silence, and if Rose stayed silent and bottled her emotions, it would say a lot about their new romance.
She didn’t, and it made him ashamed to a whole new level. If it was possible, she looked hurt but apologetic, almost cautious around him.
The Doctor couldn’t bear the thought of Rose being uncomfortable around him. Especially now when they were closer than ever before.
Then she straightened her posture and told him evenly, “I think we should go straight where you intended to go, really. Don’t want you to get behind the schedule,” the last part sounded almost sarcastically. He says “almost” because the words were delivered without Rose’s usual vigour.
The Doctor sighed and tried pushing his hands into the pockets of his leather jacket...that he left in the Tardis.
His lover turned around and started trekking back to the Tardis located not far away from where they stood when she stopped abruptly.
The Doctor tensed and got closer until he could feel the warmth radiating off Rose’s back. They weren’t alone.
A crowd of yellow human-like creatures settled around them in semicircle.
One of the creatures (the leader, the Doctor concluded) pointed their yellow arm with nine fingers towards Rose and the Doctor.
“The sacred couple!” the creature proclaimed.
“The sacred couple!” chanted the others.
“Oh, marvellous,” grumbled the Doctor acidly and put his hands on Rose’s bare shoulders. Things were about to get interesting.
“Hello, you lot. The Doctor and Rose here. She’s my plus one,” the Doctor started in a chipper tone and used the line from their first journey to Platform 1 to bring a smile to Rose’s face.
It didn’t work. He continued on.
“What do you mean by the sacred couple, then,” he inquired seriously. The humanoids weren’t armed but he knew the species and of their ability to stun the opponents with electricity if necessary.
The yellow people were the descendants of the Mgaomi tribe that populated this heavenly planet millions of years ago. The name sticked to the modern population but the Doctor was aware of the fact that the humanity and the Mgaomi have intermingled in the past 5.3 million years and, therefore, created the yellow-skinned humanoids with two hearts, 18 fingers, 18 toes and two eyes that were located far from each other on their faces. Also, the Mgaomi contributed to the electric touch as a defence mechanism to survive against the enemies that invaded their paradise-like planet from time to time.
Yeah. No way the Mgaomi were going to get close to Rose.
The Doctor tried pulling Rose behind him but the blonde planted her feet firmly in the sand and refused to move. He sighed and decided to protect her with his arms instead.
He smiled in satisfaction when Rose’s breath hitched as his hands swam around her torso and stopped there, criss-crossed.
She wasn’t immune to his proximity; of that he was sure. And now, seeing to it as they were a couple, he could indulge such tricks with his Rose.
Meanwile, the leader of the Mgaomi started his narration.
“The twelve suns won’t shine and two whales won’t sing if the sacred couple don’t commemorate their love. The Loving One and The Patient one shall create the evidence of their love.”
They needed to get away from there, now.
Because suddenly the Doctor remembered the ritual of love commemoration on this planet.
“The Loving One shall portray the Patient One in any form they would prefer. Three nights are given to complete the task.”
The Doctor pulled out the sonic screwdriver out of the jeans and tried setting it on the stunning wavelength that would render the species disoriented for the time he and Rose would need to escape. However, the sonic was soon snatched by the leader of the tribe.
Right. The Doctor forgot that the extremities of the Mgaomi could extend to great distances if it was necessary.
Evolution was a bitch.
The yellow leader continued in plaintive tone “No harm will befall the Loving One and the Patient One if they choose to follow the rules of the ritual.”
“Help us by showing your love to the suns,” some humanoid in the crowd voiced.
“Start the mating season by raising the eleven suns into our sky,” added the other.
The Doctor sighed and looked down only to find Rose looking at him questioningly, seemingly tense. Unafraid, his Rose was. But the fight or flight instinct has already settled into her body, that he could tell.
“Relax," he urged, rubbing his arms up and down her forearms, "they mean no harm. We just have to get a little crafty before we can set on our merry way.”
His companion’s posture loosened up, and he turned up the corner of his lips in half-smile, content that Rose’s trust wasn’t wavering.
He was a lucky bastard.
The Doctor and Rose were escorted into the temple where the process of art was to take place. The Doctor worried for Rose – he wasn’t sure if the activities they were about to participate in were to Rose’s appreciation; after all his Rose wasn’t good at staying still in one place; he also hated being stuck on one planet for too long without actual action going on.
Speaking of Rose, his lover was quiet as she trotted beside him, taking in the magnificent scenery with awe-filled eyes.
He squeezed her hand in his and felt her return the gesture. Maybe he hasn’t ruined their outing completely. Maybe he could compensate his bluntness.
He’d show her his feelings by creating her double. He’d let her see herself through his eyes.
“Much more impressive than a box of chocolates,” nodded the Doctor to himself.
The yellow people thrusted light-coloured clothes into Rose’s hands and looked at her expectantly. She stared back.
“What are you staring at?” Rose asked, uncomfortable.
The yellow leader answered.
“You shall change into the ritual attire, the Patient One," when Rose made no movement to comply, they started again, "the suns won’t..."
“Yeah, yeah, the suns won’t shine, the birds won’t sing, the babies won’t be made. I'm not thick!” the humanoid only peered at her with their eyes wide open.
The Doctor smirked. A bundle of laughs and sass, his Rose.
After a tense-filled minute the leader failed to find the words to give Rose. She rolled her eyes and elaborated further.
“Not gonna change into anything in front of you lot, so you better provide me with a room or a screen to protect my...," she swallowed, searching for words, "to protect my modesty! No one but the Doctor should see that, ain’t that right?”
The Doctor fought a naughty smirk off his face and tried to look as stern as possible to make the Mgaomi believe.
The Mgaomi took a few steps back, bowing their heads.
“We ask your forgiveness, the Patient One,” the yellows mumbled as if afraid of the Doctor’s wrath. “We will provide what you need, of course.”
The Doctor came closer to the now trembling Mgaomi and patted their shoulder with his palm open. He then murmured the list of things Rose would need to stay comfortable and the supplies for his artistic quest.
It’s been two hours since she last was allowed to move any of her limbs. Her bum fell asleep an hour into the journey, and she felt naked under the sheer daffodil-coloured chemise she was given before.
The look the Doctor gave her when she appeared from behind the screen made Rose pinken all the way down her neck to the chest, and she swore her ears were red because of his intense stare.
Both the Doctor’s steamy looks and complete immobility were slowly driving her insane.
The Doctor offered to make a break but the shattered looks on the Mgaomi’ faces made him take the offer back. It seemed that these folks had a tight schedule to fit into.
He told them that Rose wouldn’t stay still any longer than three hours at a time, and his voice was thick with strict authority so the humanoids didn’t dare to protest.
What was Rose lamenting about, you’d ask? In the end, what was she supposed to do apart from sitting still, being pretty and goddess-like in her pale yellow dress and a wreath of daffodils crowning her hair?
The Doctor was making a clay statue.
It would take ages before it was finished, and she was about to go around the bend after two hours of modelling and staying without movement.
The other thing that made her jittery and the Mgaomi nervous that she was jumpy because she was unhappy - and wouldn’t that bring the rage of the Loving One raining Hell on them – was the fact that she was getting hot and bothered just by looking at the Doctor’s hands gently stroking and shaping the clay mass into her body’s resemblance.
She couldn’t even think about his angry outburst at the beach some odd hours before. Truth be told, it was her fault, too. Rose knew what made the Doctor tick, and she went and blabbered about the most domestic human holiday possible when they were barely into relationship.
They hadn’t even danced yet, for God’s sake!
Danced danced, that is.
Anyway, she’d give him the grief for upsetting her later. Probably. Now, she alternated her activities from asking for the time every 10 minutes (agitating the poor Mgaomi to no end), to looking at the Doctor from the corner of her eye and twitching her toes just to keep the Mgaomi on the edge.
She felt like being a little cruel tonight. She didn’t volunteer to participate in their rituals, to be fair; also, they all but bullied the Doctor and her on the purple beach into giving in to their practice...
Rose’s eyes were glued to the Doctor’s callous yet gentle fingers slowly caressing the clay, manipulating it into her body’s image.
If things went on that way, she’d jump him there and then and would dance with him until their stupid planet with their silly rituals would be populated with little Time Lords in no time, whales and suns and flowers notwithstanding.
She sighed, suffering, and stilled a sly smile when the Mgaomi trembled at her displeasure. The Doctor looked at her questioningly and a little guilty, unaware of the inner turmoil of emotions and thoughts about him, but she just shrugged one shoulder and he grinned before turning to his project again.
She’d show the stupid Mgaomi her patience all right.
Six hours and two breaks later, Rose was exhausted. The Doctor saw the slump in her posture and the dullness of her eyes and refused to go near his clay creation until his loved one had food, some sleep and a walk around the temple.
The yellows objected to his reasons at first. The Doctor never wavered, helped Rose up from the plinth she was perched on and accused the Mgaomi of endangering his lover. They shook in panic and scuttled from the temple before showing their honoured guests the suit for the night’s rest.
Rose declined food by telling him she was too tired to eat. The Doctor made her drink some watered wine and watched her crawl into the double bed before burrowing into the many pillows lying there. She moaned feeling the soreness in her whole body, and he absolutely did not combust hearing the throaty lament.
His companion turned her eyes at him and batted her eyelashes in hopes of getting a thorough massage from his skilled hands. The Doctor pretended to consider her plea. After a long moment, Rose’s face closed off and she turned away, hiding her disappointment. He smiled softly and settled close to her body in the bed. He then positioned himself on top of her, sitting, legs on each side of her hips, careful not to crush her.
He leaned close to her right ear and murmured softly.
“The hurt look isn’t becoming you," after a minute of gentle rubbing of her back, the Doctor added, "I’m sorry for before, love. I acted like a right bastard.”
He could tell the precise second the tension and anger left Rose’s body. He hurt her before but he knew that saying sorry and the joy of his lover were more important than some stupid Time Lord pride.
Rose mumbled something in return and he had to bow closer to understand the words.
“What is it, Rose?”
“I’m sorry, too, for pushing you too hard. Silly human me,” his companion slurred, on the verge of falling asleep.
“Hush,” the Doctor chided good-naturedly and continued attentive ministrations. Rose positively melted into the bed and started snoring quietly two minutes and 17 seconds into his Spa-treatment. The Doctor didn’t stop, aware of the strained muscles and tendons of Rose’s body and did the maths on how much longer he needed to finish his project. It seemed that they would be stuck for some more time on the paradise planet, yet he didn’t have it in him to feel dismayed by that fact.
The planet was perfect for Valentine’s Day purposes. Both for his and Rose’s comforts. He’d treat her something to her liking after they were finished there, let her roam the most luxurious of markets in search for the trinkets she seemed to love so. For now, it was peaceful, he got to touch Rose’s body (both real one and the clay one) and they were treated almost like royalty. Such quiet days were far in between in their shared life and the Doctor knew that Rose needed the tranquillity and relaxed atmosphere from time to time. Judging by her exhaustion, she was due to get another dose of peace and quiet.
He tilted his head towards hers and kissed her soft cheek. Rose...his Rose.
He would gladly give her the prescribed medicine. He was the Doctor, after all.