Zap! “Ow!” Clink. Clatter. Clink. Tink. ZAP! “Ow!”
Rose yawned sleepily as she wandered into the TARDIS’ console room. It was the middle of the night, ship’s time. And while she knew the Doctor didn’t sleep the way a human did (really, a few naps a month were enough for him – though she had seen him conk out a few times after particularly harrowing experiences), and she knew that he spent a lot of time working on (tinkering with) the TARDIS at night, she wasn’t usually woken up by the noise.
“Mmm? You alright?” She asked, suppressing another yawn and rubbing her eye. She wore pink jams with yellow ducks on them (her mum had bought them for her on their last visit back home, so she had to take them.. and while they looked silly, they were incredibly comfy). But a combination of the noise of his tinkering and a buzzing at the back of her head that she recognized as the TARDIS being upset about something had dragged her from her sleep.
“Oh, I’m wonderful, Rose! Brilliant! Molto bene!” Clank. Buzz. ZAP! “Ow!”
She took in the disheveled hair she could see sticking up from under the console, and giggled softly. “I don’t think she wants you poking around down there tonight, Doctor.”
“Nonsense! She just needs a bit of-” ZAP! “Ow! Oi, old girl…” The Doctor’s head popped completely up from where he’d been mostly hidden, within the floor, halfway under the console. He was rubbing his hand and frowning, sonic screwdriver clenched in his teeth. “Maybe you’re right,” he mumbled around the sonic device, then took it out of his mouth with his un-zapped hand, and climbed up out of the maintenance pit.
Straightening his tie, which was hanging loose around his neck, his jackets hanging over a support beam not too far away, he grinned at his companion. “What brings you out here so late?”
Rose yawned, then laughed softly. “You. And the TARDIS, buzzing at me. Something about you poking around where you didn’t need to. You bored?”
The Doctor made a face. “Bored? Me? I always have things to do.” He grinned. “Like make tea now that you’re up. Nice cuppa will get you back to bed in no time.”
Rose smiled, took the Doctor’s hand, and walked with him down to the galley and dining room, then watched as he puttered around, readying their midnight tea. She smiled, watching the Time Lord, thinking about a time when he shunned such “domestics,” but a frown furrowed her brow after a moment. He’d stopped his tinkering, but the TARDIS was still buzzing at her. Still upset about something. She didn’t know how to actually speak to the ship, or even if she’d be able to, but she still tried to phrase a question to the ancient being that was their beautiful mode of transportation. The only response she got back was another buzz and a mental nudge in the Doctor’s direction.
The Doctor finished making tea and brought two steaming mugs over, sitting down next to Rose. Always next to, never across from. It was as if sitting on the other side of the table put too much distance between them. He hadn’t sat across from her since… Well, since the bunker and that lone surviving Dalek had destroyed itself. He’d shared something with her that day – the pain, raw on his face and in his voice. The same pain she knew lurked within this new incarnation, albeit better hidden than in his previous form. But she’d seen him standing at the console or in the library at night. Lost in thought, in memory – sometimes with a single unchecked tear running down his cheek. She tried not to interrupt him when she found him like that, but she knew he had to know she’d seen him. Not much escaped the man, no matter how upset he was.
She sipped her tea and smiled at him. He smiled back. He didn’t look particularly upset at the moment… so why was the TARDIS buzzing at her, nudging at her, asking her to do something? And, more importantly, what was the ship asking her to do?
The Doctor stretched his neck, leaning it one way, then the other, before lifting a hand to rub the back for a moment. The buzzing of the TARDIS got more insistent, and suddenly what the ship wanted clicked in Rose’s head.
“Doctor? How long were you jammed down in there?” She put her cup of tea down and stood up, moving around to stand behind him.
He tilted his head back to look up at her – and sure enough, he winced in the process. “Oh… well… couldn’t have been more than a few… hours.”
Rose made a face at him. “You hurt your neck again.” She rested her hands on either side of his neck and started working her thumbs into the tense muscles. “Here… Let me see.”
The Doctor didn’t argue, dropping his head forward. He winced as her fingers and thumbs began working out the knot he always got when he tinkered too long under the TARDIS console. So THIS was what the ship had been nudging her to do – she could feel how tense her pilot, her Time Lord, was, and wanted Rose to help him relax.
It wasn’t as if their recent adventures had been exactly “relaxing.” Sure, they had fun, but (as always) there was a lot of running for their lives involved. And the tension of their adventures seemed to have been building up into a knot that spanned across the Time Lord’s shoulders. “Wow… I don’t think I’ve felt it this bad before,” she said worriedly and kept massaging.
The Doctor, for his part, made a non-committal noise that was mid-way between a moan and a grunt. Yes, it hurt, but there was a fact that made it all worth while – skin on skin contact with Rose. She removed his already loose tie and pushed his half opened shirt off his shoulders enough to get her hands in there and work the tense muscles of his upper back, neck, and shoulders, and the 900 plus year old Time Lord found himself melting under her hands. Her touch was enough to send him into fits of joy on a normal day – holding hands, a hug, even a playful swat would make him grin like an idiot. But this… this delicious massaging, her deft hands leaving their warm trail over the cool skin of his neck, oh… It felt as if his bones were turning to jelly. Or jam. Marmalade, maybe. He liked marmalade…
Rose giggled softly. “Doctor, are you even listening to me?” She stilled her hands for a moment to regain his attention and the alien blinked back to reality.
“Mmm? Wha? I’m sorry, Rose, I-”
She just giggled again. “I asked if that felt any better. But considerin’ you weren’t paying attention, I’m guessing it does.”
He smiled. “Oh, much.” That doesn’t mean I want you to stop… “Thank you.” She had stopped, though, it seemed. He stood up and they walked hand in hand back to the console room. The Doctor turned and smiled at her, starting to say something, but blinked when she put her hands firmly on his shoulders and pushed him down onto the jump seat behind him. The touch of her hands keeping him in place much more effectively than simply pushing him into the seat normally would have.
“Oh no. You are NOT going right back to work and tensing up again. Sit. Stay.”
He couldn’t help grinning. “Arf?” Rose laughed… Oh, how he loved her laugh. Especially when it was at something he’d said or did that was specifically designed to get her to laugh. “Alright, then, what would you have me do?”
Rose smiled, walked around and sat down beside him, wrapping her arms around his arm and resting her head on his shoulder. “Relax for five minutes. It’s the middle of the night. Don’t you ever sleep?”
He tried to respond, but the immediate mental purr that accompanied the thought Rose is leaning on me! Cut off his mind effectively for the moment. Of course, for a Time Lord, a moment wasn’t very long at all. She probably didn’t even notice the pause before he spoke. “I sleep… sometimes. Not long. It seems like such a waste of valuable time!”
Rose giggled and let go of his arm with one hand to drape that arm across his stomach. The loose buttons of his shirt caused the skin of her arm to touch his stomach as she hugged him, and the Doctor closed his eyes for a moment of bliss. Sometimes a simple touch from Rose… oh, who was he kidding? Always, a simple touch from Rose had the ability to give him such happiness. “Then isn’t this wasting time, too? Sitting here, with me…”
His response was immediate and almost stern. “Rose, spending time with you is NEVER time wasted.” He turned his head to look at her, only to find her meeting his eyes from where her head rested on his shoulder. She was beaming at him as if he’d just given her the most amazing compliment of her life.
“I feel the same way about time spent with you, Doctor.” She broke eye contact, nuzzled her head against his shoulder, then yawned. Her hand absently moved on his stomach, playing with the wrinkles in his shirt, thumb sometimes slipping in between the buttons to stroke his skin lightly. “Though maybe we could…” Another yawn – she was so cute when she yawned… “…I don’t know… do this during the day sometime?”
“Mmm…” was the Time Lord’s only response. Her absent touch at his stomach had somewhere around sixty percent of his attention, her head on his shoulder holding another twenty percent, her voice at least fifteen percent, with the other five percent reserved for the feel of her body molded against his side, cuddling his arm. For once, his manic energy seemed to fail him, and he felt his eyes closing, his head tilting toward hers until his cheek rested against the top of her head. His snuggled arm longed to slip around her, hold her to him… It took a lot of thought to extract it from between them (which resulted in her other arm going around behind him), and loop it around her shoulders to pull her closer.
The TARDIS purred at the back of both of their minds, watching her Doctor and his companion. Oh, she liked this one. And for far more reasons than simply that Rose had stopped him from tinkering around with her insides all night – her worry had been his tension, and Rose had effectively fixed that. The sentient ship decided that they could use a bit more comfort – she changed the configuration of the jump seat so it was more like a comfy couch (it wouldn’t hold that shape forever…. just while the two people she cared the most about in the universe dozed upon it).
Rose smiled as she felt the seat shift around them. The TARDIS was making them comfortable. Her smile grew, however, when she realized that the Doctor’s breathing was deep and steady, his hearts thudding strongly in his chest – she could feel them when she slid her hand up from his stomach, but it returned to it’s previous place just as quickly. Apparently, she’d discovered the secret to relaxing a Time Lord – or, at least, to relaxing HER Time Lord. Tummy rubs and cuddles – what an excellent prescription for the Doctor.
As Rose let herself doze off to sleep as well, nuzzling into his shoulder and cheek, she couldn’t help smiling. Sometimes, all you really need is the right touch.