Bright orange sunlight filled the open kitchen and dining room. The song of birds filtered in through an open window, tinkling off a silver windchime and dancing off the walls. The smell of freshly brewed coffee and a freshly baked pie finished off the symphony of a mid-morning Gallifreyan day.
Rose Tyler gently set the hot pie dish on a small black grill in the middle of the breakfast counter, smiling at the intricate vine and berry pastry design that lay across its top. Perfectly golden and surrounded by bubbling orange Magnolia juices, it was a masterpiece – even if she had to say so herself. She pulled off her soft pink oven mitts and set them down palm to palm on the white and silver marbled countertop.
This should be a perfect little pickmeup for the Doctor, who had over the last several months become just that: An actual medical practitioner! Oh her mum would be so proud…She’d be on the phone to Bev in a heartbeat to brag about how her lil’ Rose just bagged herself a doctor. A surgeon, even!
Of course here on Gallifrey, that occupation came with far less stature and respect than it did back on Earth. But heading up hospital at Arcadia, oh he was happy, that was all that mattered.
“Perfect,” she purred with self congratulations as she untied the back of her horribly frilly pink apron and let it slip off her shoulders.
“Yes,” a sleepy voice gravelled out hoarsely from the doorway. “Yes, you are.”
She lifted her eyes from her masterpiece toward the owner of that voice and let out a chuckle as she crumpled up the apron into a long fold of fabric and threw it over the back of a stool. “And the mighty distinguished Lord of Time finally wakes.” She chuckled and leaned her hands into the table top to continue to admire him from afar. “Looking far less distinguished and regal than the title would suggest.”
Messy, shirtless, sweaty, and wearing a pair of loose pyjama pants that were skewed to the point of discomfort, he couldn’t exactly disagree with her. He let one side of his mouth lift into a smirk and sniffed in deeply as he dropped his hands to adjust the seat of his trousers. He scratched at his chest and padded on bare feet toward the counter. “That was a very long thirty six hours,” he groaned out pitifully.
She put on a sympathetic expression and held up a mug of steaming black coffee. “My poor baby,” she purred out. “Coffee will make it all better.”
He didn’t reach for the proffered beverage. Instead, he walked around the counter and slid smoothly up behind her. He ran his hands from her thighs to her hips, and with a flick of his grasp managed to turn her to face him. He growled against her neck and grabbed hungrily at her rear.
He hummed. “I know what would work better than coffee,” he snarled out as he sought her mouth with his.
“Morning breath,” Rose peeped out with a squeak and a laugh as she struggled away from him. She continued to laugh at his defeated groan and slouch as she walked to the other side of the counter. “You’re in no condition for game play right now. You need some rest.”
“Not without my Human blanket,” he corrected with a pout of his bottom lip. He held out his hand. “Come back to bed with me, Rose. I haven’t seen you in nearly two days, and I really need to snuggle and remind myself why I’m alive.”
“You,” she challenged with a point of her finger. “Don’t intend on sleepin’.”
“Not if I can help it,” he answered with a shrug. He offered her the most boyish, desperate expression. “I need you, Rose. I need my wife.” He exhaled a sad breath. “Last night was tough, and I just need you.”
Sadness creased her face. “I take it it didn’t go well?”
He pressed his hands into the counter, lowered his head into his shoulders and let out a long sigh. “Unfortunately, no. Not at all.”
“I’m sorry,” she offered sympathetically. “You had such positive hopes.”
“Positive medical outcomes aren’t always a definite thing,” he admitted. “When a Time Lord is on his 13th incarnation, it makes it so much more difficult to have a successful outcome.” He lifted his head. “Residual regenerative energies interfere negatively with any life-saving efforts, there was nothing I could do.”
She walked around the counter and slid her arms around his waist. She pressed her ear into his chest, sighing when his arms came around her gently. “You did your best, Doctor. And just remember, for that rare one you lose, you save a hundred others.”
His voice fell to a whisper and he rested his chin in her hair. “That doesn’t make it easier.” He sighed. “Especially after such a long surgery.”
“Was he a good man?” she asked softly.
“He’ll be remembered as such,” he answered. “As they always are. Death does tend to erase the indiscretions of their life in the eyes of those left behind. They’re planning a provincial service for next week.” He shifted the hold of his arms. “And have already applied for a looming permit to make up for their lost cousin. It should be approved by Romana over the next day or so.”
“They didn’t waste any time, did they?” she remarked with wide eyes. “Not takin’ any time to grieve.”
He chuckled. “Grieving a loss in the manner your kind do isn’t commonplace on Gallifrey,” he lectured softly. “The only thing they might grieve is the loss of a cousin on council. Their status in society falls.” He shrugged. “That is unacceptable amongst most chapterhouses, so they loom a cousin with the most desirable traits for a new council member at an age where they can fast-track academy studies to reclaim their status.”
“Chapterhouses and Looming,” she breathed out curiously as she pulled away from him and swiped his coffee from the counter. She held it to him again. “Tell me about them?”
He sighed when he took the coffee, but took a long draw from the mug and settled with a lean of his hip against the counter. “It’s a very long history and will take a long time for me to explain it to you and have you fully understand it.”
“If you dare think of adding that you don’t have enough crayons…”
He bellowed out a laugh. “No, darling. I have far more awe and respect for your rather high level of intelligence thank you think I do.”
“Wish my teachers at school felt the same,” she came back with a sigh. “Whole lot of ‘em thought I was brainless. Mum, too, when I brought home my report cards.”
“I happen to find you quite brilliant,” he countered. “But then again, for someone who only made it through the Academy with a score of 51, well…”
“I’m smarter than you, then,” she said with a chuckle. “My last year, I came through with a 65.”
“Well there you are then,” he chuckled, lifting his coffee mug in salute. “My wife, far more intelligent than me by a whole 13 percent.” He lowered his voice. “And you think I’m rather bright, don’t you?”
“You have your moments,” she purred cheekily. Her lips pursed with interest. “So these looms, that’s how you have babies here on Gallifrey?”
“Used to be,” he answered. “Long story short, several millenia ago, a curse was put upon my people. Gallifreyans became a barren race. In order to keep our society alive and continue to grow, Rassilon and the founding Time Lords created looms that were capable of producing offspring.” He set his mug on the counter and folded his arms across his chest. “Put simply, they were a progenation device capable of very quickly producing offspring either by a combined DNA set of two parents, or a cloning of just one. Mostly, they pulled together the more acceptable and preferred genetic strains of multiple donors to create the ideal subject.”
She frowned. “I see.”
“The success of the looms, and the almost immediate production of a …a child, I suppose you could say .. led to a birthing boom that required the council members to enact some pretty strict rules on numbers. Which meant seeking permission.”
“How very sterile,” she breathed with wide eyes. Those wide eyes looked toward him. “So you and Brax, you were loomed?”
He nodded. “While my mother did wish to conceive and carry as they do on Earth, she was unable to give my father children in the conventional manner. Both Brax and I were loomed with permission from council. He was the equivalent of a teenager when he was loomed. Me, I was a child.”
“Not even babies?”
He shook his head. “Not preferable to my people,” he admitted. “Screaming babies unable to do anything including lifting their own heads for month on end was – as they felt – inconvenience and a rubbish waste of time. Looming an older offspring meant less sleepless nights.”
“That’s horrible!” she exclaimed, her hands flying to her mouth. “So you’re saying that you’n me … that we can’t?”
His eyes widened. “Are you saying that you want to?”
Her mouth flapped a little as she considered her answer. Her eyes were wide with indecision.
He saved her having to answer by answering hers. “We can certainly have ours in the traditional fashion,” he said brightly. “Leela and Andred conceived naturally, and the Gallifreyans living in the outerlands have been procreating that way for quite some time. The medical community have theorised that the infertility that cursed the Time Lord society was mostly psychosomatic. Once Leela fell pregnant, more couples followed suit. Now we have fully staffed midwifery units at the hospital.”
“Yet people still intend on looming?”
He nodded. “Best way to produce the perfect offspring,” he said with a shrug. “Habits do really die hard, and I won’t argue. Many of the people I find myself having to treat on a daily basis really should have no right to procreate naturally, stuff-headed excrement of woprats.”
“It would also mean engaging in the reprehensible act of mating,” Rose teased. “Such a filthy endeavour.”
He grinned. “And let’s hope that none of them learn otherwise.” His eyes rolled. “Lest my planet be inundated with tiny individuals running rampant because their parent believe them to be the angelic sole saviours of society and therefore require no actual discipline. Stars forbid anyone tell them otherwise.”
“you’ve just described the people of my planet,” she said with a chuckle.
“Despite your people being able to produce the occasional brilliant Humans who will never cease to impress me… I rest my case.” His eyes fell down to the counter, smirking at her indignant gasp of mock offence. “What’s this then?” He queried, his eyes on the pie.
“My masterpiece,” she sighed with pride. “Magnolia a’la Rose Tyler.”
“Lungbarrowmas,” he corrected gently. “At least in the eyes of council. You might have other ideas on our naming structure.”
“Happy to wear your name, Doctor,” she said with a smile. “Honoured, actually.”
She walked toward the counter and placed her hands either side of the pie dish. Still warm, but no longer burning hot, she was able to turn it to allow him to see the design she’d so intricately created. “Romana managed to be able to pick up some supplies from earth for me on her last envoy trip with Brax, and so I thought I’d make pie.” Her grin was proud. “What do you think?”
The look on his face was one of unease and suspicion. “It’s very pretty,” he managed. “What’s in it?”
“Magnolia fruit,” she stated eagerly as she walked around to the draws to take out a pie slice and a fork. “I added a few of my favouite spices from back home, cinnamon, vanilla…”
His look of suspicion shifted to one of distaste. “I can’t imagine that combination is any good.”
She cut out a slice and put it on a small place. She picked up a fork and lifted a small mouthful of fruit and pastry. She held it to him. “Try it.”
“Ahh. Not really hungry right now,” he muttered as his face shifted back and his face further contorted with distaste. “Maybe later. Much. Much later.”
She shook her head. “It’s better when it’s still warm.” She held her hand underneath the fork to prevent the morsel of food from falling on the counter and presented it to him again. “Please, Doctor. Just a little taste.”
“Really, Rose,” he said pitifully.
Her face creased into hurt. “But it’s Magnolia,” she whimpered. “It’s your favourite. And I’ve been workin’ on this all morning.”
“There are so many better ways for you to spend your time,” he countered. “Than to murder Gallifrey’s most perfect offering in that manner.”
Rose slumped, definitely and undeniably hurt. “Fine, then. Don’t. I. I’ll eat it all myself. Just see me try and do anything else special for you.” She dropped the fork back on the plate and huffed dramatically.
Okay. This was not good. He had managed to upset her, and that was really not how he wanted this day – his first full day off from the hospital in a month, and the 12-month anniversary of their marriage, to go. No, they were supposed to be in bed all day, enjoying their partnership and perhaps taking their love outside under the meteor shower this evening in the orchard.
He had plans, That was how he wanted the day to go.
Upset Rose meant his plans were to be derailed. And his job, right now, was to make her not-upset and shower her with adequate affection and make up for being the prat that upset her.
With a deep inhale to draw in strength, he snatched the fork from the plate and shoved the entire bit of pie into his mouth. He held his breath in an attempt to block his taste, but as soon as the warm juices hit his very taste-sensitive tongue, the flavour exploded to fill his senses completely. Almost immediately he let out a long moan of unadulterated pleasure.
“Oh by Omegal, Rassilon and the Other,” he purred out around his mouthful. “Rose. When I’m wrong, I rarely admit it, but right now I’m going to.” He dug the fork in for another bite. “This. This is incredible.”
“Yeah right,” she huffed with a curl in her lip. “Don’t go thinkin’ you’re getting out of it tha’ easily.”
“I’m actually serious,” he scoffed with surprise at himself as he forked in another mouthful. “This is really good. Better than good. More like right up there with TARDIS travel in the Vortex and making love with you.”
A smile crossed her face at that moment. She walked toward the counter. “Sayin’ that its better than sex is a bit much. But I appreciate you trying.”
“I said up there with love making, not that it was better.” He managed with a mouthful. “Speaking of,” he managed after a swallow. “You think you might be interested in a little of that later today at some point?”
Her brows lifted. “You want me to add it to your calendar?” she muttered dryly. “How’s your schedule looking for around 2:00pm? An hour good enough?”
“Very cheeky,” he shot back with a smile. He looked down at his plate. “I’m quite serious though, Rose. This flavour is very unexpected and really quite good.” He forked in another mouthful, chewed, closed his eyes, and purred. “My affection for it is rising exponentially. Really getting up there now.”
With a smirk she gave him a wink, and a lick of her plump lower lip. “So if I told you to put that fork down and get your near naked butt back in bed with me?”
The fork stopped partway to his mouth, which was open and ready to receive. His eyes were wide and had a very caught expression that also showed a decent amount of indecision.
“Oh. My. God,” Rose breathed out with shock. “You actually have to think about it?”
His eyes were still wide and his lower lip had now begun to search out the fork. “No,” he sang.
“Oh well,” she sighed with facetious upset. “I guess I’ll just have to lie alone, then.”
His wide eyes blinked and his jaw gaped low. A low chuckle emanated from deep inside his chest as she disappeared into the hallway. Oh, he was totally in for this game plan.
Another bite of the pie first.
He swallowed before he’d chewed it thoroughly enough, and he gagged and winced as the too large piece travelled down into his throat. “Coming!” he croaked out hoarsely.
He jogged toward the hallway and then paused. “Oh sod it,” he muttered as he jogged back to the counter, swiped the rest of his piece of pie and shovelled it into his mouth as he finally followed his wife’s calls to the bedroom.