“Rose,” he called, his deep voice echoing slightly from the depths of the TARDIS substructure.
“Mmm,” came her vague reply. He could hear her above him, flipping through the pages of her latest magazine.
“Rose,” he called again, louder, “I could use a hand down here.” He was trying to repair the latest glitch in the TARDIS time-date mechanism. They were landing farther and farther off course and it really needed some attention. Last time he had to fix this he remembered it was easier to access, although last time he had been in a different body. But that was before the last great Time War. This new body of his was taller and broader, hard edges and angles, so unlike his last one. But with this one he just couldn’t wedge himself into the crevice he needed to get to. Even shedding his ever present leather jacket and rolling up his jumper sleeve didn’t allow him to squeeze his arm into the small space.
Grunting in effort at one last go of wedging his arm into the crevice he heard her toss her magazine down onto the jump seat, hop off, and come over to the opening in the grating. Glancing up, he could see her kneeling on the grating overhead, her hair trailing into her face as she peered down at him. For a moment he allowed himself to just soak her in, pondering for the millionth time what it would be like to bury his face in her glossy hair.
“What’re you doing?” she asked, looking around at the disarray of wires and tools littered around him. He came back to himself and tried to start thinking coherently.
“I’m trying to reset the time-date mechanism on the ol’girl, but I can’t get me big hands into the spot I need to get to. That’s where you come in,” he said as he indicated the panel tucked back in-between two struts. Good, he hadn’t sounded distracted.
“Alright, what d’you need me to do?” she asked, as she sat down and threw her legs over the edge preparing to jump down into the access pit with him. Her naked knees were mere inches from his face. Her denim skirt had started to ride up as she had sat down. He ripped his eyes away from the feast of leg flesh that was before him. He certainly didn’t want her to think that he might be trying to take a peek up her skirt. He tried to rein in his imagination, wanting nothing more than to kiss those knees, and then start trailing kisses up and down her soft legs. At least he thought they must be soft. He wouldn’t dare to touch her. He couldn’t. Not like that. She scooted closer to the edge.
“Here, let me. Don’t want you crushing anything hopping in here like that,” he said distractedly, as he started to gently move parts aside with his foot, trying to make a space for her to stand, trying to buy himself time to gather his irreverent thoughts. He was mortally glad that humans weren’t a telepathic lot. She’d have slapped him by now for sure, and demanded to be taken home. He didn’t want to be on the receiving end of slap if her mother was anything to judge Rose by. More importantly, he really didn’t want to take her home just yet. He hadn’t had a companion in such a long while; he was rather enjoying himself again. Although, he knew he neither deserved to, nor should be deriving such pleasure from having her around. Last time he thought about it, he still classified himself as a monster.
Rose cleared her throat. “Were you going to help me or was I going to sit here all day?” she asked a bit impatiently. “I was in the middle of a rather good article, 50 Ways to Snog Your Man Senseless. Thought I might learn a thing or two,” she said. She heard him start to cough. “Oi, do you want some water? I have a bottle by the seat,” she said as she moved to get up.
“Nope. I’m fine, me,” he paused and tried to regain his mental equilibrium. Images of snogging Rose had instantly sprung to his mind at the mention of what she had been reading. Clearing his throat he began again, “Ah, yea, sure that rag you’re reading must be fascinating. Tips for one ape groping another. Give me one more moment,” he said somewhat derisively.
How did she always manage to get under his skin like that? He finished shoving things with his feet and looked up, glad for his superior biology keeping the blush from his face. Putting his hands around her waist he lifted her down next to him. She had felt like nothing more than thistle down from Aroposa Five. He could feel the heat coming from her skin; it started his pulse racing again. Aroposa Five had some beautiful secluded beaches he recalled. An image of Rose in a string bikini lying on a blanket came to his mind.
“So.... Aren’t I supposed to be helping you with something?” she said, breaking into his thoughts yet once more.
“Oh... ah... there,” he said, rather lamely, indicating the small gap in the supports. “I need you to reach in there and detach the existing wires and attach these new ones,” he said, finishing more smoothly, trying to focus on the task at hand and not the intoxicating scent of her washing over him. Maybe this hadn’t been such a good idea.
She looked at the hole he had indicated, it was narrow, but it was also above her head. “Got a stool?” she asked, looking up at him through her lashes, a smile on her face, her tongue peeking out.
He smiled back at her, at least he hoped he was smiling and not leering. She was adorable like this.
“Nope. I’ll hold you up. Shouldn’t take you more than a mo to get it open and the new wires put on,” he replied, fishing around his feet in a pile of parts, searching for the new wires. He tried not to brush against her too much as he had bent down by her feet, but there wasn’t a lot of room. “Here,” he said, thrusting a handful of pliable new wiring into her hand, trying to back away from her just a bit. “Just make sure you connect all the colors the same.” The simple act of brushing against her was like fire on his cool skin.
Rose rolled her eyes at him and took the wiring and said, “Right, like I’d do anything different. Ain’t brain surgery, after all. Don’t need to be a superior Time Lord sort to figure that out.” There it was again, her tongue poking out, her ever ready smile flashing at him with a million watts.
He swallowed hard and blinked. He couldn’t think of one witty comeback. What was wrong with him, anyways?
“Right, well,” he said. Boy, he was brilliant today. “I’m going to prop my boot toe there on that scrap of a ledge and lift you up so you can reach the panel. You can lean back against my leg if you need to. But I’ll still be holding on, I won’t let you fall,” he said, trying to get back to the business at hand.
“I know you won’t. I trust you,” she said softly, sincerity in her voice, the teasing replaced by trust in her eyes. His stomach flip flopped. That expression did more to him then all the playful looks combined.
Swallowing hard once more, he propped his left foot on the ledge, leaned in and picked her up, his large hands spanning her waist. His sweater tightened around his biceps and cords of muscle stood out on his bare forearms as his arms took her weight and lifted her into position.
Rose twisted slightly, inserting her right arm up to the shoulder into the crevice. She disconnected the wires and pulled out the old bundle. Taking the new wires from her left hand she sent her right arm back into the hole and peered in, carefully connecting the correct wires with the correct leads. He shifted so his torso was pressing up against her back, his arms holding her steady but his body taking most of her slight weight.
“Sometime this century. I do have other things to be doing other than stare at the back of your head. Do you know your roots are starting to show?” he quipped, aiming at sarcasm to mask his discomfort. Having her this close to him, in his arms, was more pleasant than he wanted to admit. His superior biology was having difficulty coping.
“Oi!” Rose exclaimed, not taking her eyes off of what she was doing. “You leave my roots outta this or you’ll be cramming your own arm up in here,” she paused for a moment, obviously concentrating. “You wanted them all hooked up just right, that’s what I’m doing. Sides, thought you were stronger than that. What am I doing, getting too heavy for a man of your advanced years?” she shot back, acid dripping from her voice.
“Now who’s being catty?” he smiled. He loved teasing a response out of her, even if it was at his own expense. He was on better footing when he was teasing her. Teasing was completely different than flirting. Besides, teasing was distracting him from other things. “My age isn’t an issue with me being–“
She cut him off, “Ya, ya, I know, Mr. Superior Biology Almighty Time Lord. Keep your hair on. Last one. Almost done,” she paused, strained a bit to reach something then said, “There. Finished. You can let me down now.”
He shifted his weight, trying to bring her down gently, but his boot slipped, and he dropped her the short distance with more force than he had intended. Rose cried in alarm. He instinctively wrapped his arms around her as the momentum brought them both forward against the support she had just been working against. He twisted and then grunted as his shoulder slammed into the support, hoping he hadn’t hurt her. He regained his balance in a heartbeat, he straightened pulling her more upright, letting her get her feet under her.
“Head all right? Didn’t bang it, did I? Clumsy of me. Apologies,” he muttered, one hand running over her head, trying not to stroke her hair, his eyes roaming searching for a mark.
Rose giggled and turned in his arms, facing him squarely now, and said, “Nope. Just fine. Surprised was all. You alright? You look a little flushed.” Her hand snaked up from his embrace to touch his face, her soft skin sliding against his cheek. “You feel warm. That’s not normal for you, is it?” she said, concern tinging her voice.
“Hmm? Oh, no, fine. Just cramped in here. Sure you’re all right?” he said as his free hand continued to feel her head, searching for a bump, although it seemed he was doing more stroking than searching. His other arm was still wrapped tight around Rose’s waist. Not that she seemed to notice.
“Mmm. M’fine,” she answered, her hand still on his cheek, her thumb starting to caress his angular cheekbone almost of its own volition. “You really are warmer than you should be. Usually, when I’m holding your hand its cooler,” she murmured. Her other hand reached up and flattened against his chest, her fingers splaying, feeling the taut muscles under his jumper, searching for his hearts. “Your hearts are racing too,” she said as she slid her hand from one side to another, ostensibly feeling for his pulse, but only causing his hearts to beat even faster.
He closed his eyes momentarily, trying to gain some semblance of control over his body’s reaction to her proximity and her caresses. When they were this close, they were usually in public, he could distract himself. But here, alone, secluded in a cramped area like this he was having some difficulty. He swallowed and opened his eyes. Rose’s hand had left his chest and joined her other one, this one on his left cheek. She still looked concerned.
Without warning she pulled his head down, leaned in and kissed his forehead. Her full lips lingered softly there for a moment. It felt as if she had struck him he was so stunned. His breath hitched, he froze. “Rose... what are you doing?” he asked, his voice rough and low.
“Checking for fever... s’how Mum always did it,” She mumbled distractedly as she pulled back from him slightly, her eyes not far from his. Catching the dazed expression on his face, she smiled faintly, and said, “Problem?”
“No, ah... no. Were you going to let me go though?” he asked, his voice still low and a bit ragged, his arm tightening around her waist, his other hand coming to rest on her shoulder.
“No...I don’t think that I will...” she whispered as she gently guided his head back down to hers and this time instead of kissing his forehead, her lips found his for a shy lingering kiss. His body exploded with a myriad of sensations. He knew he should pull away, but couldn’t seem to convince his body to do that. Instead his arms pulled her even closer to him in the confined space, her small form melding into his.
He marveled at how well they fit together, her soft curves smoothing out his harsh angles and planes, his coolness tempering her fire, his superior logic bringing reason to her desires. That brought him back to the reality of the situation. Her soft, timid first peck had turned into a full-on passionate kiss. No matter how good she felt in his arms he shouldn’t be holding her. He definitely shouldn’t be kissing her. He broke off the kiss, and she stood in his arms gasping for breath, her lips swollen, her face flushed. He could feel his own skin flushing as heat spread throughout his body.
“We... should stop,” he managed to say, definitely sounding distracted this time.
“Why?” she panted in response, still trying to catch her breath. Looking into his eyes, her pupils were dilated. He wondered if his were. His arms didn’t seem to want to unlock from where they were, steadfastly around her.
“We just should,” he replied. That sounded reasonable in his mind. He hoped he sounded firm.
“Mm... nope,” she said, popping the ‘p’ on the last word and grinning saucily. She leaned into him pushing him back against another support.
“But why?” he croaked out. Now he was sounding desperate. How could he extricate himself from this without embarrassing himself and driving her into going home? He swallowed hard at the look in her eyes.
“Because I still have forty-nine techniques of snogging to try out on you. I want to see which one works best,” she said with finality. And with that she stood on tip toe and kissed him with what must have been technique number two.
Which was very nice.
Very, very nice.
The internal debate he was having with himself was over. He lost. After all, this was scientific research that she was conducting. It could even be called educational. Who was he to stand in the way of that? He wondered briefly what results might come of this and decided that whatever the results he was sure to enjoy the process and happily gave himself up to the inevitable. After all, there were still forty—eight more techniques to try.