“So, what’s the name of this planet?” Rose stepped out of the TARDIS into crisp, clean snow, an involuntary smile spreading across her face. They were in a clearing that was straight out of a movie. Snow clung to bare tree branches, the sun was shining brightly – both suns, she amended, glancing up at the pretty pale green sky. Crimson cardinals chirped from the trees, a splash of color in the otherwise glittering winter wonderland.
“Snoel.” The Doctor stepped out behind her, pulling the door firmly shut before wrapping his arm around her shoulders and pulling her into him.
“Snoel?” Snaking her arm around his back and leaning her head on his shoulder, she gave him a skeptical look. “Be serious.”
“I am!” His lips twitched, but he otherwise seemed sincere. “It’s the 27th century, big nostalgia movement – of course – and they found this little planet, covered in snow and pretty as any print Currier and Ives put out, and decided to make it a Christmas planet. Obviously, the name they settled on was a portmanteau of ‘snow’ and ‘noel’ – Snoel. They thought it was clever, at least.”
“All right.” Still peering up at him suspiciously, she nevertheless accepted his words at face value. “Is there a town, village, shopping area, Christmas market, what have you?”
“Rose Tyler!” Marching off away from the TARDIS and half dragging her with him, the Doctor’s indignation echoed in the otherwise silent forest. “When’s the last time I took you to a place without some sort of little shop, eh?”
“Last week, when we were in orbit around a black hole?” she shot back, falling into step with him. Their arms dropped for easier walking, fingers tangling as though attracted by magnets. “The week before that, on Jupiter?”
He merely huffed, casting her a side eye worthy of Jackie Tyler, not that she’d ever tell him that. “Fine. Yes there’s a village, should be…” Pausing, he licked the pointer finger of the hand not holding hers and held it in the air. “About half a mile. Oooh, apple bobbing! I love apple bobbing.” His steps picked up pace, and Rose was glad for her sturdy snow boots as she had to almost trot to keep up with him.
“Are there any laws I should know about so I don’t break them?” Letting him lead, she studied the path as they went along. There were wagon wheel marks in the snow, and she wondered if they might have an opportunity for a romantic sleigh ride. So far, it was definitely what she’d hand in mind when she’d requested a wintery fairy tale.
“No idea,” the Doctor chirped, swinging their hands as he hummed a tune. “Find out when we get there, I suppose.”
“You mean when we get arrested.”
He scoffed. “Live a little, why don’t you? That’s half the fun!”
The village came into sight all at once as they rounded a sharp bend in the path. Cosy little cottages dotted the outskirts, lining the road, and they had a clear view straight down to the village square. A gigantic tree was perched in front of the clock tower, decorated but unlit in the bright sunshine. He was right; it was straight out of a winter postcard, and exactly what she’d wanted.
Hand in hand they strolled down the lane, admiring the properties as they passed. Each was decorated more elaborately than the last, decorations ranging from traditional poinsettias and garland to inflatable Santas and snowmen, each tasteful and cheerful.
“This is adorable,” Rose murmured, pressing her lips to his bicep through his coat. “Thank you for bringing me here.”
The words were no sooner out of her mouth than a shout came from off to their side. “Halt!”
They froze in place, assuming correctly that the directive was for them, and a moment later a man hurried in front of them. Short and stout, with a great big belly and a long white beard, he looked more like a Santa Claus than the old-fashioned bobby he was dressed as.
“Ah, hello. Problem?” the Doctor asked brightly, hand tightening around Rose’s.
“D’you think this is funny?” the stranger demanded, narrowed eyes watching them carefully. One hand rested on a baton strapped to his belt. “That our laws, our decency, the very fabric of society is something to be trifled with?!”
“Now, now, hold on,” the Doctor raised his free hand in a gesture of peace. “We- we- we’re visitors, see, never been here before! And it’s lovely, but, we don’t know the finer points of Snoellian law, and so don’t know what the- er- offence is.”
“The offence,” the officer sneered, “is a blatant disregard for our dress code!”
“Dress code?” Rose and the Doctor repeated as one, exchanging surprised looks.
“And, um, how exactly do we fail the dress code?” he continued, even as Rose took a closer look at the villagers. They were all dressed in Victorian garb, hat to toe, and Rose’s stomach dropped. No wonder they didn’t fit in; he was in his usual suit, overcoat, and trainers, while she had opted for tights, a jean mini skirt, and a pink sweatshirt. Far more 1980s than 1880s.
“All outfits worn outside the privacy of one’s own home must be authentic reproductions of Victorian England in the late 19th Earth century.”
“Ah.” The Doctor glanced around running his fingers through his hair, clearly calculating if they could do a runner. Another officer, also dressed in the traditional bobby outfit, sidled up behind them, and the Doctor slumped. “Okay.”
They were marched across the square and through an arch, hurried outside the main area and out of sight. Many of the buildings reminded Rose of Cardiff and Charles, very authentically reproduced.
“Where are we going?” Rose started to ask, only to stop short in front of an honest-to-God igloo. “You’ve gotta be kidding me.”
“You will remove all outerwear, and set it outside,” the first officer instructed, stony faced. “Then you will enter. Proper apparel will be located and brought to you.”
“And by outerwear you mean…”
“You may keep your underthings only,” he confirmed. “For decency’s sake. When the new clothing is brought, you must remove that as well.”
“It’s a bit cold in there,” the Doctor pointed out, crossing his arms. “We’ll freeze to death.”
“There is a blanket inside for your modesty. It should not take long.”
“But, but, but we’re not married, surely it’s improper,” he spluttered, trying to delay and making Rose whack his side.
“Shush,” she hissed. “D’you want them to separate us?” A second igloo stood a few yards from the first, and if she had to be locked in one she wanted it to be the same one as him.
“Any further delay will be viewed as an act of aggression and you will be tried as spies and shot. Please remove your clothing.”
The Doctor’s spine stiffened and his mouth opened. Before he could get them executed, Rose stripped to her bra and knickers, dropped to all fours and started crawling inside. “Well this is cozy!”
It was a tiny space, maybe three meters by three meters and barely big enough for two adults, with a padded floor. A single, sad blanket sat neatly folded at the far end- and that was it. Grumbling to herself, Rose curled up in the corner to give the Doctor room to enter.
He followed a minute later, and despite the serious situation, she had to fight back a laugh at his Snoopy and Woodstock boxers. A clang echoed, and peering through the entrance, Rose saw a metal grill close over the entrance.
“Hang on, how do we not suffocate in here?” she called.
“There’s ventilation slits halfway up,” came back. “And there’s a guard outside.”
“Silence, or you will be tried as a spy-”
“And shot,” she finished with him, grumbling. “Fine.”
Crawling back into the central area, she found the Doctor sitting on the blanket. He looked perfectly comfortable even at the low temperature, and the ceiling was just high enough to accommodate his spiky hair. “What’re you doing?”
Pulling the blanket from under him, he handed it over. “Trying to warm it for you.”
“Thanks.” Draping it around her shoulders, she grimaced as it did little to fight back the cold, violently shivering in the draft through the open gate. “Hopefully it won’t take too long.”
“C’mere.” The Doctor opened his arms and she happily crawled into his lap, letting his arms wrap around her. “Sorry. I didn’t know.”
“S’ok. Even if I’d been in the right outfit, you probably wouldn’t have been and we’d be here anyway.”
“True.” He pressed his lips to the side of her head, and she forced herself to relax into his embrace. The cold was biting with no clothing, but she was determined not to complain. They’d survived a night on a planet in orbit around a black star just a week ago; a few hours in the cold were nothing. Even if the occasional shiver tore through her – it just meant he’d hold her tighter.
“So, what’re we supposed to do now?” she eventually sighed, shifting her head against his shoulder.
“We could have sex.”
It took a long moment for his words to seep through the cold-induced fog, but when they did her head jolted up to stare at him. “Excuse me?”
Blinking innocently at her, he shrugged. “Physical exertion can raise one’s body temperature. There’s not exactly space to do jumping jacks – though you’re welcome to try.” His eyes flicked down to her breasts, and she crossed her arms over them with a scowl.
“Given our limited space, the temperature, and our lack of protective garments, it is the easiest and most efficient way of generating heat.”
Staring into his eyes and reading the genuineness behind his suggestion, she wasn’t sure if that was better or worse. “I know it’s only been a week since we’ve been properly together, but I didn’t think you could get any less romantic. And then you say this.” Huffing, she settled a few feet away from him and curled her legs up, wrapping the blanket around her to cover as much exposed skin as possible.
She was saved from answering by the scrape of the gate opening, and a call for them to come out slowly.
“Don’t you dare stare at my arse,” she muttered, crawling out into the sunslight. Ignoring the proffered hand, she climbed to her feet on her own and covered herself in the blanket, not keen on letting any of the three blokes (of course they were all blokes) nor her boyfriend seeing her in her knickers. She should have known better after two years with him, but it was supposed to be a romantic, peaceful day out so she’d gone with skimpy, seductive underthings instead of practical. The joke was on her though, apparently.
The Doctor was right behind her, whistling merrily as though the whole adventure had been a lark. Unbothered by the cold or lack of clothing, he stood as though nothing was wrong, hands on his hips and rocking on his toes. “So! Are we free to go?”
“Come with us,” the captain growled, and they were marched inside the nearest door. Inside looked like a jail out of the Wild West, a single large room split into two. One half contained a desk covered in paperwork, a wooden bench, and a tiny kitchenette with one burner, kettle, and sink. One corner had a curtain for privacy. The other side was a cell with ironwork bars and wood-framed bunk beds.
“You’ve got to be joking,” Rose fumed, her shivering now out of anger as she looked around. “Why couldn’t you have kept us here?!”
Stone faced, the captain merely gestured towards the curtain. “Your clothing is there.”
Shooting him a nasty look before turning it on the Doctor, she stalked behind the curtain to find a woman waiting with a period-appropriate gown. “Oh, fuck me.”
“Rose?” The concern in the Doctor’s voice did nothing for her irritation.
Folding her arms, she refused to move. “Can’t we just have our clothes back and promise to leave and never return?”
“No.” The captain’s tone was firm, and she knew further arguing would be pointless.
Jaw working she reluctantly stepped into the petticoat, letting the woman dress her as she glared through the curtain in the Doctor’s general direction.
I’m gonna kill you.
An hour later they were finally free to go, their original clothing in a bag tucked away in the Doctor’s pocket. Stepping out onto the snow-lined street, Rose reluctantly threaded her arm through the Doctor’s. Despite her lingering fury, she had to admit he looked rather dashing, dressed like a Victorian gentleman.
“Have you been here before?” she asked idly, taking in the views. It was a charming little village, children playing in the snow, and she could feel her ire melting away as they moved towards the town square.
“No. Yes! Actually, I have, once.”
“And you didn’t have any trouble?” It began to snow then, just the lightest sprinkling of flakes, making the whole tableau rather romantic.
“No, and I don’t know why. Yes I do!” He stopped dead in the street, bouncing on his toes. “Of course, no wonder these pockets were already bigger on the inside!”
Breaking away Rose spun to stand in front of him, crossing her arms and raising an eyebrow. “What?”
The Doctor nodded, looking pleased with himself. “I remember now! It was… three regenerations ago. Bit of trouble with an invasion, I sorted it of course, but got knocked out cold for my troubles. They thought I was dead and put me in the morgue next door to the jail- happened a lot in that body, actually- and I had amnesia when I woke, so I just stole the sheet I was wrapped in and headed for the TARDIS!”
She shook her head, trying to process the rapid-fire babble; he’d spoken quickly even for him. “Hang on, what? You had amnesia? They thought you were dead?”
“Yeah. Like I said, happened a lot in that body.”
“Okay… I’m just trying to picture this. You woke up, forgot you had clothes, and just… ran out naked?”
“I had the sheet! But otherwise yes. That’s why I didn’t remember until now.”
“But… wouldn’t they have given you a problem about your clothing?”
“Nope!” Taking her arm again, he started down the path towards a tiny café. “That body wore Victorian clothing anyway, so it wouldn’t have been an issue. When you were off getting dressed, they brought me these clothes, said a strange visitor who’d once saved the village left them behind.” He dug around in his pocket for a moment, before crowing in triumph. “See? Here’s the proof!”
In his hand lay a silver tube, clearly his old sonic but not the exact same design. This one had a red crystal incased in a circle of the metal, rather than the current sonic where the crystal lay flat at the tip.
“Cute,” Rose decided, though she privately preferred the current one. “Can I have it?”
He hesitated, spinning it through his fingers as he thought. “Okay,” he decided, just as they reached the café. Handing it to her, he used his now-free hand to open the door. “Allons-y.”
By the time they headed back to the TARDIS, Rose’s ire had shifted to a low-burning desire for her boyfriend. His openness about the regeneration his clothes had belonged to had inspired her to ask questions, ones he had happily answered. She loved learning about him, hearing stories about previous regenerations and companions. He rarely spoke about them, and she had learned to capitalize on his occasional willingness.
This was the first time since they’d gotten together, however, and she was slightly surprised at how aroused it made her, him baring his soul to her.
“Are you sure you don’t want to go into anymore of the little shops?” the Doctor asked innocently, opening the door.
“I want to take these clothes off.” She was going for a suggestive tone, but either she missed the mark or he was oblivious (she’d put money on both) because he merely tutted.
“I’m sorry it was such an awful experience.” Loosening his tie, he headed for the console and put them into the Vortex.
“What?” He turned to find her standing directly behind him, and she smirked when he jumped slightly.
“Can you give me a hand?” She deftly untied the bow at her neck, fluttering her eyelashes. “I don’t think I can do it alone.”
“Oh.” Frowning, he surveyed her before glancing towards the doors. “Should we go back? Maybe that woman’ll help.”
Her frustration returned, and she turned away in annoyance. “Never mind, I’ll figure it out myself.”
Stalking out of the console room, she left a trail of clothing behind her as she struggled out of the items. By the time she reached her bedroom she was down to her knickers, and she left those hanging on the doorknob. Once inside she headed straight for the shower, turning the water as hot as it would go before stepping under the spray.
She was just rinsing the conditioner out of her hair when a tap on the shower door made her scream. Eyes flying open, she found the Doctor back in his usual suit standing outside the stall. The clear door meant they could see every inch of each other, and she folded her arms across her breasts. “What?”
“Can I talk to you?” he asked, as if it were perfectly normal to interrupt someone’s shower.
“I’m a little busy,” she bit out, shifting to block his view of the toy she’d already used to release some of her frustration. She wasn’t ashamed, per se, but their relationship was still new enough she wasn’t comfortable sharing that with him. Especially not when she was so mad.
“I- hang on.” He opened the shower door, and she quickly angled the showerhead lower so as to not soak him. “I think I flubbed it a few minutes ago in the console room. Did I?”
Stepping further into the spray to try to counteract the draft from the rest of the cooler bathroom, she refolded her arms and tried to hide her shiver. “Can we talk about this later? It’s cold.”
“Hmm?” He must have noticed her goosebumps, because he yelped, “Oh! Sure, sorry.” And toeing off his chucks, he stepped into the shower stall and closed the door behind him, trapping the warm air.
“Doctor.” Rose stared at him in exasperation; she’d meant for him to be on the other side of the door. “Does it have to be now?”
“You seemed upset, earlier in the igloo and then again the console room. I don’t-” he stopped talking, sticking his hands in his pockets and staring at his feet. “I don’t like when you’re unhappy,” he finally mumbled, one big toe kicking at the water pooling on the floor.
Rose sighed, tension leaking out. “I’m fine- or I will be. It was just a rough day,” she said, even as she considered how many harder days they’d had where she ended it in a brighter mood. “I’m just cold.”
The Doctor hesitated, peeking up at her from his lowered head. “It seemed like more. Especially in the igloo. I just… don’t understand what I did wrong.” His eyes were wide and vulnerable, and even his hair was drooping. “You said something about not being romantic, and I don’t…”
“We were in custody, and you suggested we have sex,” she explained patiently. “And not cause you needed me right then, but in a… a scientific way. Is that all we are?” Rose knew in her heart it wasn’t, but she needed to hear it from him.
“What? No! You were cold, and physical exertion is the best way to raise one’s body temperature,” he protested. “Given our space limitations, and that merely sharing body heat wasn’t sufficient, it seemed the most practical course of action!”
“The only time a shag should happen as “the most practical course of action” is when you’re trying to make a baby! That’s not a reason. It just felt… cheap, Doctor, and I don’t like feeling that way. I don’t like when you make me feel that way.” She hadn’t quite put it together herself, but as the words spilled out she realized it was true. Jimmy and Mickey, they used to come up with ‘reasons’ she should have sex with them, and they were never about her, not really. He was supposed to be better than that.
“Oh, Rose.” His head snapped up, and he stepped towards her holding out his arms. “I’m so sorry love, I didn’t realize- it was only about what was best for you. I’m sorry.” Genuine remorse shined in his eyes.
Staring at him for a long moment, she finally sighed and stepped forward into his arms. “Thank you.” His long arms wrapped around her, plastering them together, and the feel of his clothes against her wet body made her shiver with arousal. “Your clothes are getting wet.”
“Doesn’t matter.” His arms tightened around her, and she knew he meant it, would ruin his suit with no hesitation if that was what it took to make her feel better.
Pressing her face against his chest, just able to hear his hearts beating over the soothing pounding of the water, she debated with herself before finally giving into what she wanted. “Doctor?”
“I’d like that shag now.”
He pulled back to see her face, and must’ve been satisfied with what he found there, because he immediately began hardening against her thigh. “Okay.”
His suit now thoroughly soaked, she struggled trying to peel it off him as his hands migrated to her breasts.
“No, hang on.” The Doctor batted her hands away, nudging her back against the wall and falling to his knees. “I think I owe you an apology?”
Rose Tyler had long since learned to never look a gift horse in the mouth; if a bloke was offering oral, especially one as talented as him, she’d rather die before saying no, in the mood or not. And was he talented. “Okay.”
By the time he resurfaced wiping his mouth, her still-buzzing toy in hand, she’d long forgotten what the apology was for anyway.