Author: Regala Electra
Pairing: Doctor (Ten)/Rose
Rating: NC-17 (Adult)
Summary: 'You've been looking.' So long as she's looking and not touching, she figures she'll be fine.
Spoilers: Spoilers for New Earth and set roughly thereafter. Mild inspiration from Tooth and Claw and School Reunion, but no explicit spoilers. Anything beforehand, including Children in Need special is fair game.
Author’s Notes: Thanks to elrina753, ignited, and leelee_cakes for being awesome sounding boards and encouraging me in this insane endeavor. Yes, there’s a Farscape reference included in this story. If you can spot it, you get a delicious fictional cookie.
Looking is, in and of itself, not a naughty thing to do. In many ways, it’s safer – and you don’t have to worry about nasty repercussions.
She doesn’t need this lesson, but when you’re traveling with the Doctor, she’s found herself learning the lesson over and over again. While it’s perfectly fine to watch the unique ritualistic dancing of Xenpholesstic (at least that's what she thinks the name was, she hadn't quite gotten the hang of the more alien alien names) as it truly is an incredible sight, if you move too close to the fray, you might find yourself nearly sold off to spend an eternity as a hairdresser.
“Why a hairdresser?”
She simply must know.
The Doctor has an answer and it makes little sense, but she plays along, nodding her head knowledgably and saying, “Ah, yes.”
And if, when he smiles at her, she stares a little too long, well that’s perfectly fine.
Look, but don't touch. With all the trouble they’re always getting into, it’s best not to throw another kink in the works. It is in fact best not to fling around the word ‘kink.’
And after all, being with the Doctor is a guarantee for exciting and terrifying times. He himself admitted it: he just can't help pressing buttons.
When she takes his hand as they set off for the TARDIS, there’s a whisper that passes through her mind, unbidden.
Cassandra-in-the-Doctor's body, that strange use of his voice with a pleased, delightfully shocked declaration - '...hardly used...'
Best not to dwell. She hopes the Doctor doesn’t notice that she’s nearly lost her breath and she has to hop to keep up with him.
The Doctor turns towards her, “See? Hopping for our lives! You do remember.”
They continue on, but do not hop for their lives.
It’s all his fault really. First of all, she’s the one that purchased it, and secondly, she doesn’t have a second reason, so the first one should be enough.
She'd gotten the Clairol Herbal Essences at a convenience store in Las Vegas in 2008. She hadn’t thought about how very close it was, almost too close to her own time, just barely a year’s leap forward - Las Vegas felt like such a strange place that she didn't have to think beyond the mad appearance of the city. How could she think about the when here of places? No, she was instead dazzled by the bright lights of the shining desert city and made small and insignificant by the impossibly immense buildings that took forever to pass.
There’d been no plan on coming here. It’s another strange accident but the Doctor only has to grin one of his manic grins and she’s nearly ready to go. One must always make sure to go over the protocol for a jaunt out with the Doctor. All she does is take care to put on some sensible shoes and dresses a bit flash for the occasion. She knows, realistically, the hemline is a bit daring in case they have to make a run for it, but it is Vegas after all.
No regrets. At least not yet.
The Doctor wore it all: suit and his great coat, almost adding a medium-sized scarf before he decided to tie it ‘round a part of the TARDIS console like a bandage. Because she enjoys taking the mickey and especially since it’s August and outside, there is hot, desert weather to contend with (even though it’s just early evening), she adds to her excited little ramble about seeing Las Vegas for the very first time, “…and you’re wearing that?”
He insults her species, as expected, but it is quite good-natured as far as his rudeness will allow, and she puts her arm in the crook of his arm, half-ignoring him. “Where are we off to?”
First one of them said, ‘watch out,’ and that’s how it happened. Somehow (she’s certain she was not at fault) they ended up falling in together. Both tripping or perhaps shoving each other - she’ll get the story straight at a later time - into the fountain in front of the mammoth Bellaggio hotel, and the Doctor's coat was simply soaked. They had to wring it out, laughing the entire time. It looked foolish, but it didn’t matter: they carried it between them, but at a scant enough distance that the middle of the waterlogged coat occasionally scraped the ground. They were halfway dry by the time they were nearing the entrance to the casino.
“Someplace fun,” he promises, and she hopes that there aren’t any evil masterminds lurking about in Vegas. No, she makes a hasty correction: she hopes that none of these evil masterminds are trying to take over the world tonight as that will require being thwarted by Rose and her trusty sidekick, the Doctor. Yes, excellent, The Amazing Adventures of Rose Tyler, traveler extraordinaire, and the Doctor. “What are you smiling about?”
“Smiling? Me? I don’t ever smile.” She doesn’t quite stick her tongue at him, just curls it over her teeth, earning a distrustful look from him that instantly fades away into a more friendly expression. It’s the type of look that, were Rose not a modest woman (oh how she has to bit her lip at that thought), could cause her to do things she doesn’t even want to fully comprehend.
“You’re a wicked, wicked one, Rose Tyler.”
“Too bad we’re not someplace where that’ll come in handy.”
And if she flirts a little more than she usually does, well, it’s Vegas and that, she assumes, must come with the territory. That and all the surgically enhanced cocktail waitresses who make a point of slowing down and turning their heads just so over their shoulders as they pass the Doctor – oh, that’s a bit catty, isn’t it? Good. She knows how to give a good warning look and most of the time, they get it. Or she believes that they do.
She’s got a cocktail in her hand now, something with a cherry in it and she considers putting it in her mouth and tying the cherry stem into a knot in ten seconds flat. She’s done it before.
Instead she just pops the cherry in her mouth, too sweet and drenched in the mixture of fruit juices and several shots of lovely alcohol, some sort of rum concoction, and grins when the Doctor notices. She bites the tip of the stem for emphasis but removes it from between her lips and disposes the stem in her cocktail napkin.
The Doctor rolls the dice and fails to make a winning combination. He doesn’t quite notice how much he’s lost.
At one point in the evening, the Doctor had procured some gambling chips and said with a wink, "Take care not to get into trouble, gambling's only legal for twenty-one and over. Wouldn’t want you to be arrested. Again."
She'd answered back, cheeky as ever, that a man of his age ought to stick to the slot machines. And if he loaned her the psychic paper, she wouldn’t have to worry about being incognito, now would she?
By the time she's back on her path to redemption - she’s actually won the last two hands! - the Doctor comes by (rather, runs by) and Rose, well, she grabs her meager stack of colorful chips, as she slowly walks away. It’s best not to look suspicious but she’s gotten better at this and takes care to follow at a distance until he looks over his shoulder, an impatient ‘what are you waiting for?’ unspoken between them.
Excellent selection of shoes this time, she catches up with him in no time. No time at all.
Who knew a subspecies of the Gnarivoks (infamous for their tendency to get a bit too greedy and take over entire worlds, with a single-minded devotion to their goal – to eat) had developed the ability to feed off the emotional reactions to losing whilst gambling?
The Doctor knows and he is explaining his brilliant, simple plan that for some reason includes a potted fern, a bit of mirrored wall, and a lounge singer down on her luck (who apparently is an alien from a planet that Rose cannot quite catch).
“Hello, I’m Rose,” she says to the lounge singer, who is keeping pace right with them and is carrying a cordless microphone. Her dress has far too many sparkles on it and she looks a bit like a blur when she runs.
“Basrana. The Doctor’s told me wonderful things about you.”
“’Course he has. Gets in trouble when he doesn’t.”
Even though he doesn’t break his stride, she can sense the Doctor’s laughter.
Note to self, she thinks: later, when they’ve either defeated the Gnarivoks or barely escaped with their lives intact (in all likelihood, both will figure in the end of this mad night), she must remember to cash in her chips.
Luckily it was all sorted out and at 3:00AM, in a convenience store, Rose had procured Clairol Herbal Essences and some new eye shadow colors (she’d gotten some expert advice from Basrana, who advised that the right application of certain colors created a muted night look that was perfect for nights out on the town that ended up involving an end of the world crisis). She was intending on taking a nice long shower to get the smell of thousands of cigarettes and cigars out of her hair. A lovely bit of quiet time after another strange adventure.
Rose is lucky in many ways, but she is quite doomed when it comes to keeping her toiletries intact. Just as she’s setting down her shampoo in the bathroom (that she has unofficially thought of as her own), she sees that her toothpaste had gone missing. Again.
Last time, it had been in the cupboard of the kitchen, nestled under a small pile of chocolates. She’d thought then that it must have been the TARDIS trying to have a laugh. She still fails to see the humor in storing her lotions with the machine oil (she calls it oil, it’s some sort of shiny, slick substance used to grease bit of the TARDIS when they’ve gone a bit rusty).
So off to the cupboard she goes, this time expecting it to be sticking out of the sugar bowl. It isn’t there. She roots around some more and for a lark, decides to check out the TARDIS console. Sure enough, next to the scarf-bandaged part of the console, it looks like the Doctor had attempted to glue two broken off bits of metal (well, it’s metal-ish, it’s hard and shiny at the very least) using her toothpaste, which he took care not to return from whence it came. And he also squeezed it from the middle to a near concave degree.
She hopes he did some sort of jiggery-pokey with the toothpaste adhesive as she doubts the toothpaste’s extraordinary powers beyond fighting cavities and tasting of mint.
Returning to her thoughts of a nice long shower (which now are also occupied by two conflicting thoughts: the Doctor using one of her lipsticks as a writing instrument, he hasn’t yet, but she wouldn’t put it past him, and another thought of her toothpaste running off with a bar of chocolate).
Right, and next, a cow will jump over the moon.
Oh dear, there’s half a moon. A very Doctorish curve of backside. And well.
She didn’t knock, so yes, there is that. She doesn’t have to knock because it’s her unofficial bathroom and she hasn’t seen the Doctor ever go around this part of the ship before (although he must have been here, he did filch her toothpaste.)
Besides, he hadn’t started singing full out until she’d already had the door half-open.
He opens the curtain just a tick and sees her. Staring at him. “Hello.”
“Really love ‘Tainted Love,’ don’t you?”
“You were singing.”
He’s got the curtain wrapped around him and it’s slightly ridiculous that she can’t stop staring at his arm, she’s starting to wonder if having Cassandra (literally) pressing on her brain has caused her hormones to explode because she really has to stop looking.
Also, the flimsy curtain hides only some of the more interesting bits.
“I don’t intrude on your singing lessons.”
“I don’t sing,” she protests, but it’s half-hearted. Those droplets on his arm, his hair looking so strange flattened and mused up with the shampoo worked in, the slightly bemused expression on his face. All those parts of the Doctor, uncovered. There’s too much silence between them, so she says, “Don’t use up all the hot water, yeah?”
Like she’s not going to having a nice, cold shower – looking is fine, it’s the wanting that’s starting to truly worry her.
They had stayed at a pleasant little village in the United Federation of Mexico for several days. And for once, it’s actually quite uneventful, as these things go.
It’s sometime in the middle of the Thirty-Eighth Century and the one thing that Rose is quite certain about is that clothes drying technology is clearly the work of an evil mastermind.
"How am I am supposed to fit into this? A finger puppet would consider this risqué."
Normally the Doctor would have a snappy answer, but he’s far too distracted, staring at the handkerchief that was once his overcoat. His suit jacket has also been cleaned (so therefore, it’s only fit for a very slim finger puppet). As for the clothes he has left, it’s only what he’s wearing. His trousers are incredibly rumpled and his shirt, wrinkled as it is, appears nattier with his shirtsleeves rolled up. With his tie on, he looks a bit like an overgrown school boy.
When he puts on his spectacles to examine the damage to his clothes, the likeness is even clearer.
It could have been funny: their ridiculous expressions of shock, with all that they’ve seen, to be so horrified by the evils of futuristic laundry service. But she’s now holding her new favorite shirt in the palm of her hand. This is not amusing at all.
"There has to be a way to reverse it."
He mutters something under his breath and she doesn't catch all of it, but deeply suspects he’s considering the merits of crossing his own timeline to save his clothes from this evil destruction.
In the end, the Doctor says they need to get into the TARDIS right away to correct this horrible tragedy. She reminds him about the dangers (she’d been the cause of them not so long ago) and really, clothing was so trivial and couldn’t he just get another coat from the TARDIS wardrobe?
“It wouldn’t be the same.” That’s all he will say in defense and she would argue, but she notices he isn’t setting a course for the immediate past. They are traveling back in time, though.
This is why they went shopping at a Twentieth-Second Century store (actually called The Twenty-Second Century Shoppè, not very original with names, were they, in this time?).
While this particular period of human time had been regarded as boring and uneventful (that, for Doctor-speak, means there weren’t enough end-of-the-world situations to hold his interest), there were benefits to the stability. For nearly seventy-nine years, the planet, as a whole, had taken to studiously copying nearly every fashion style known previously to man.
And the prices were in relative terms, less than a quarter of what she’d pay for the same in her own time.
This, the Doctor says, as he tries on the exact replica of his ruined coat and jacket, is what happens when fashion designers take over the planet. They might be evil and may need to be overthrown eventually, but they did love any and all Retro looks. She makes sure to purchase a few extra identical tops when he says this, she can tell she won’t be able to shop here again with that familiar look of a looming adventure in his eyes.
He even buys a new tie, something that clashes terribly with his suit, although she suspects he'll never wear it unless they find themselves in the 38th century again and forget about the evils of their laundry service.
The TARDIS is not moving, needing a bit of a rest after flying into the Pulsars of Hexarine Seven. Rose doesn’t think the TARDIS or the Doctor intended to go directly into the center of the pulsars, but she played the wide-eyed part mostly because the Doctor had frowned so prettily and she’d gotten a little distracted.
The TARDIS is floating, like a dream in the nexus of some ancient dust, borne during the waking of the universe.
"A bit of a lie-down and then, we're off." The Doctor is content to continue working under the console and Rose helps when she can, holding wires and occasionally attaching them where they actually belong, but she has found it better to leave the Doctor to his work.
Last time, she pulled a wire out from where she thought it didn’t belong and the Doctor had actually sulked, though only for a few minutes. He’d realized that it fit better at the connection two spaces above.
She amuses herself now by reading some magazines she's picked up over time - literally - and it is not surprising how little the fashion magazines really change. She's found she's read the same article on "How to Please Your Man" (although the later the date, the more vague the title - "How to Please Your Warm-Blooded Male" to "How to Please Your Air-Breather" to “How to Please Your Partner of Indeterminate Category”). She's also found that even though it's pretty much the same advice (tart it up, don't show a glimmer of intelligence or cheek, buy the products listed in the magazine, etc.), she still blushes when she gets to the dirty parts.
Really, with all that she's seen, this shouldn't be so...titillating.
"Ah, a magazine. Wasting brain cells that you probably don't use anyway." The Doctor enters her room with far too much energy and were she not frozen, she would have fought a strange urge to shove the magazine anywhere away but before she can even process why she would think that, he's taken the magazine out of her hands and -
"'How to Please Your Man.'" The Doctor does not quite harrumph, but it's a similar sort of disapproving sound, very familiar. "Not getting into constant life-endangering situations would -" but he trails off, because he's just started at the precise point she'd just been reading and is he blushing? He doesn't blush. He wouldn't - no, he coughs instead, and hands it over.
"I was just skimming," she says, a bit defensively. As though there’s something wrong with reading about erogenous zones and other zones that haven’t yet been classified in her day and age. (Oh dear, she actually thought ‘day and age,’ thank goodness there are no mind readers here or she’d be dreadfully embarrassed). Yes, she was skimming - and the fact that the words 'look' 'lick' 'taste' 'feel' and further words best not mentioned in polite conversation were vividly and explicitly described had nothing to do with her decision to read the article - nothing at all.
"Ah." The Doctor's voice had gone a bit funny, nearly high-pitched, but he covers quite well. "I think we're quite ready to go and I wondered whether you fancied halfway across the universe or five-eighths across the universe."
She blinks. "Three-quarters."
He smiles. "Fantastic."
She'd taken off her shirt before she even considered what it could mean. After all, she’s the one covered in the foul magenta mud and she hadn't even been the person who had insulted the chief of the tribe. She didn’t even know how the Doctor had exactly insulted him by saying he has a lovely home, but apparently the one time the Doctor’s actually polite, it turns out to have been an enormous mistake. Of messy proportions. Still, there’s no reason why there’s anything wrong with taking off her shirt.
After all, she does have a bra on and oh damn. Normally she favors simple designs and textiles, something that can last in any bizarre situation, but she'd felt feminine today (of all days) and it’s simple enough, in theory. White lace with a bit of a silhouette. It’s the cut, however, that might have been the culprit for everything to go all quiet.
But she’s pretty sure that warm swelling of almost pride that’s burning through her, only visible in a slight blush she can feel blossoming on her cheeks, that’s because of his intense stare.
She doesn't even manage a snappy comment until several moments have passed, until the time for it being snappy has well transferred to another meaning, almost - well.
If she doesn't name it, maybe nothing will change.
"Should I shimmy out of my jeans next?"
And when he doesn't answer, when he takes off his coat and offers it to her as a peace-offering, she's utterly confused. “Won’t I ruin it?”
“The TARDIS washer-and-dryer is finally working properly,” he says in a soft voice, his eyes focused on not straying below her face. He’s pretty much failing. She’s put on the coat but has not yet covered herself properly.
She waits and moments pass. Then, there’s a subtle flicker of eyes downwards, only she doesn’t bite down a grin, doesn’t need to puncture this situation with a flirty joke.
She has no idea wfhere they're going next.
She's shimmying into her jeans, thank you very much, when it happens. That is, the TARDIS lurches and she bangs her head against the wall. She's sitting on the floor for several minutes, her jeans not yet buttoned, when the Doctor comes bursting in, informing her that they're completely off course and how wonderful that is, because he's pretty sure he hasn't ever visited this time, not even in his past bodies (wait, bodies?) and how completely fantastic that is.
"Sorry," she says when he finally calms down and stops nattering on. He notices the growing bruise on her forehead before she can direct his attention to her head (a ghost whisper – ‘…is killing me…’- but it is too faint, she cannot process it). "Had a bit of a slip."
He takes out his sonic screwdriver, a blue light flashes and she now has spots in her field of vision.
"You’ll be fine. Only a bruise. You even get into trouble getting dressed. Undressed too. May have to start gluing clothes to you in your sleep to keep you from hurting yourself."
She'll blame it later on the bump to her head. It's a simple enough touch. Lips to lips. It takes no time at all.
He sits with her and if they talk, it's mostly about nothing important.
They hold hands the entire time.
It's been, well it's felt long and when you're time-traveling, she thinks now she just has to judge the passage of time by how things feel, a smaller, more intimate (and less terrifying) sensation of how the Doctor says he feels time. Everything is spinning in a hazy, powerful dance that when a step is forgotten, can cause whole stars and planets to crumble to nothing. To dust.
She remembers the song at these times, faint, and the sense of grief and terrible joy. When that faint memory comes to her, she has to look over at the Doctor just to make sure. He is still here.
"Is there a protocol, then?" She asks this while they are waiting, trapped as usual with no way out. She's only half-way on the road to worry. Still has grandmother’s house to go. Trails of breadcrumbs along the way. She thinks that the Doctor is working out a solution with the exhaust pipes above their heads and she has found that occasionally distraction works in his best interest.
"A protocol...? Ah ha, that's it then!" And he is opening up the central pipe and there is a strange, mechanical noise and then, there is no more banging on the barricaded doors.
"Yeah," she says as he helps her up, taking her up the stairs to another life-or-death-or-running-with-every-chan
He smiles. "I have not the faintest idea, the mere glimmer of a clue, or the shape of the notion. Just like a human, saying something completely confusing that isn’t even based in logic. At least when I don’t know what I’m saying, I’m saying it for a reason, even though I don’t quite remember whether I speak reasonably or whether my irrationality forms a greater random design of correct conclusions. However, you speak in riddles quite by accident. It's endearing, it is."
"Blimey, I'm going to be driven mad by your thickness."
She goes to take the lead, no longer happy to stroll down the beaten path towards the TARDIS, but before she can properly swan off, the Doctor moves too quickly and blocks her path.
"Rose." There's enough weight in that one word that she doesn't mind stopping in her tracks, but that doesn't mean she's about to soften the stony expression on her face. Nor when his hand cups her face, such a familiar, comforting gesture. His thumb tracing her bottom lip. No reaction. None voluntary that is. If her mouth opens, well, a girl's got to breathe and all of a sudden, the air's gotten quite thick, it has.
The tips of his fingers are trailing back, into her hair. She tilts her head up, needing to look, to take this moment in. Looking is perfectly acceptable. Looking into his eyes. They're millimeters away from - doing this, oh, this simple, simple motion. Touch.
She has been looking. And of course she likes what she sees. She's not blind. It's intoxicating and while Cassandra had blathered about hormones, as if they were a curse, Rose enjoys the giddy sensations that can bubble forth with just a glance at a right angle, a glimpse at the corner of her eye. Entertaining a private notion locked away securely in her mind is perfectly fine.
Of course, having her private notions broadcast over the mass network of giant screens at a bar at the Joxpreliin Platform has pretty much been one of her most embarrassing days ever.
Who knew that psychic technology (such as the Doctor’s own psychic paper) had been furthered by the people of Joxprelii to provide public entertainment? All you had to do to get into one of their entertainment quarters was to pass through what she had assumed had been metal detectors (and why she assumed they were metal detectors, why would they be something as mundane as that?). She should have cottoned on when they asked if she had thought clearly (she heard the strange, but very catchy music outside the entrance and was in a mood to dance a mostly-uneventful night away).
She’d answered that yes, of course she thought clearly, she was not intoxicated.
She’d been only slightly miffed when one of the guards chuckled.
The Doctor should have made some mention.
She shouldn't have looked at him when he reached across the bar to order their drinks, his fitted suit stretching just so well over his body, the sleeves pulling back, emphasizing his hands, then she was looking down his back, just a bit lower -
And public embarrassment for the ages.
Vivid public embarrassment. The Doctor had watched the monitors for several minutes (not even moments, he was pretty much caught up in, the er, the jolting imagery).
What Jack would have given to see -
Ah, so the giant monitors took memories the instant that they came into your mind and broadcast them simultaneously.
"That's not physically possible," the Doctor manages, his voice half-strangled.
"Oh, it is," says a young, pretty thing with a strange frilling of colorful ridges down her (assuming it's a her) arms. "Just need to stretch properly."
She even winks. Sideways then diagonally.
Rose says, "I think we should go back to the -" another image flashes on the screen, she thinks she hears some distant cheering, for the love of - "Oh, come off it!"
She shouts this loudly and maybe it would have had some impact if the version of Rose up on the monitors hadn't just -
Interesting fact: the Doctor doesn't just blush, he nearly inflames.
She expects that they'll make it to the TARDIS, completely uncomfortable and probably not speak for, say, a thousand billion years. That sounds reasonable.
And it almost happens exactly like that.
Only they're just outside the entertainment facility, when he nearly drags her off (to what? chide her? Tell her this was a dangerous game?) into a darkened alley that looks vacant enough and then -
"Oof." She expects him to apologize, to say something tender and to break the building tension, but he does nothing. Nothing but press up against her, that lean body that she can't stop looking at, only she can't, because he's right there, right there, and -
"What are we doing?"
"Entertaining one of your mad notions," he manages in a low voice against her ear. "Those - Rose - you are utterly maddening."
They would have crossed the line. Not cross it - obliterate it - joyously, but there’s no line to cross. There are no lines here, nothing but their two bodies pressing together, three heartbeats. One single intent. Lord, she gets maudlin just before sex. And a little faint, too. Sex.
She makes sure to kiss the Doctor with particular emphasis, a promise of very good things in the immediate future.
This time, Rose is not the only one in a stage of undress, the Doctor's trousers are almost completely undone and progress on that front is guaranteed. This, she thinks, is the best part of traveling with him, all the unexpected, slightly mortifying events that are certain to occur.
She works a hand downwards and thinks that the gasp he chokes out might be the most incredible sound she has ever heard.
Yet, while there’s no line to cross between them, there’s a line that they had just apparently crossed at the Joxpreliin Platform. There aren't flashing sirens, but there may as well have been with the terrible, shrieking noise that suddenly surrounds them. The light, bright and harsh, a terrible sort of vivid chartreuse, is too much for her. Attempts to shield her eyes are utterly futile.
This is how she and the Doctor spent a night at one of the most humiliating places in the entire Trefisphere galaxy. In separate prison quarters under the watchful eye of the Joxprelii abstinence police.
The Matron-Guard, who apparently had taken a keen interest in Rose's crime, spent agonizing hours going into explicit detail about the restrictive laws set in place eons ago. Just what kind of an alien did she think she was, flaunting the kind of loose morals that had caused the great Joxprelii Uprising one hundred centuries ago? Didn’t she understand that looking had been (regretfully) signed into law as an acceptable form of entertainment, but acting on those thoughts, why, how vile!
What does not help is that the TARDIS has decided to translate the Matron-Guard's voice in the fussy, decided pitch of one of Rose's nastiest teachers, who had taken a delight in revealing Rose's failing marks whenever she had the chance, which was often.
Sex, she’s informed, was filthy, despicable, and strictly prohibited. Restrictions had been set long ago and while some establishments were allowed to entertain the notion of it for a public audience, they were not to act on it, especially in public – that was considered the greatest crime in all of Joxprelii. Why, if she were a citizen, she would be convicted immediately and sent off to several horrible locations, which the Matron-Guard takes great delight in describing the extravagant details.
Worse of all, they had searched their clothing and found no contraception! And had no implanted contraception in either of their bodies! Were they merely mad or just mere idiots? The only thing that had been found was a highly suspected sexual device of some deviancy in the male's pocket. The Matron-Guard shows this device to Rose now, securely kept in place in a sort of mini-electrical prison. The sonic screwdriver looks mightily silly there and if Rose’s mortification were not at maximum level, she would have found it a bit funny really.
Unfortunately, the Matron-Guard announces, as they were not citizens, they could only be banned from ever visiting the Joxpreliin Platforms or any of its subsidiaries. Their visages would be stored in the memory banks and should they ever try to bring their deviant behavior back here - the Matron-Guard did not need to finish that thought. Her expression said it all.
She pats the top of Rose’s head a bit kindly, as though she is indeed the lost-long twin of her foul teacher, Mrs. Sloane. Her knobby fingertips brush at the base of Rose’s head and she cannot help but shiver. The Matron-Guard attempts an expression on its face that Rose simply does not understand.
They are released shortly after that. Even the sonic screwdriver has been banished from any natural dwelling of Joxprelii kind (‘for the rest of its mechanoid lifespan’). From the Doctor's grave look, he too has a supremely awful little chat with his own captors and they walk back to the TARDIS without saying a word.
Rose shuts herself in her room, figuring she'd step out again in another thousand billion years.
She isn’t joking about hiding until the end of the universe many times over. She can feel what’s coming and it’s knotting up her insides with grim dread. Things may change for the better, but the real sting – smarting when she allows herself to process what this really means – is that there might not be any excuse to let off. Even if she fears rejection, which very well may happen, it’s the deep sense of betrayal, that all the innocent flirting and surreptitious looking is going to be serious.
Losing that insane glint of unbridle giddiness – no she cannot lose that. She will not have an existential crisis. She has to do the right thing.
She, she hesitates.
Were it all to go wrong, she does not want to lose the Doctor. Or lose – what? – his respect? His friendship? So many little things, a sum of all the parts – the Doctor.
She’d rather suffocate with worry than do something that could never be fixed, could never be altered, corrected back to the way things were. She may have helped to save others, but so many have been lost. And this, this, this is a problem.
She doesn’t know what’s right anymore.
No, she does, she knows very clearly and it’s been in front of her this entire time. First, she will pack, because the act of doing something, anything, is better that sulking, waiting for doom to inevitably come knocking on her door. For the Doctor to finally come around and ask what’s keeping her.
Next, she will change her clothes. She cannot quite figure out what’s right and she needs the clothes to make a statement, because she knows that everything has meaning.
And she intends to end some of the more troublesome meanings.
When dressed, quite splendidly in her opinion, she is ready to face him. To stop all this nonsense.
“Doctor, I,” she takes a deep breath. And when she speaks, she believes it, knows what she says is right. She is absolutely correct. And it is easier to speak to him when half his body is under the TARDIS, putting bits of wire together. She just veers her vision away from any parts of him that cause those thoughts and settles on – his shoes then. Plimsolls. Nothing inherently naughty about them. “You have to take me back. This – this isn’t right. It’s indecent, it is. We have to end this now. You have to bring me home.”
He gets up from his half-submerged position with a deliberate slowness. And he stares at her for a bit before grinning, huge and mad. “Very funny, Rose.” He ruffles his hair and Rose is simply shocked at the surge of emotion that tumbles through her body. His hair sticks at odd angles and she wants to touch, she truly does.
She stills her hands at her sides.
“It’s perfectly natural.” Which is why he’s not quite looking at her when he says it. He’s a fantastic liar, she knows this, but he’s refusing to give his words any ounce of false sincerity. “Mostly harmless, too, come to think of it.”
“That was perfectly natural? Those despicable thoughts in my head, boiling over and on giant screens? What we almost did? I – you - we almost shagged. In public, no less!”
He doesn’t even let himself be ashamed by this. In fact, the expression on his face is tinged with that new hot anger of his, volatile at its very center. He says her name, but is not just her name, it is a question.
One she readily answers, “Doctor, I have to stop this. Now.”
She is quite happy to stand her ground, ready for the ensuing argument. Hoping that he does not come closer, does not try anything to distract her.
Please kiss me, she thinks, unbidden, and she shakes her head. Will she ever control these wicked thoughts? She pushes it away, as deep as possible, striking something strange, something even more -
The Doctor is speaking. She is sure of it.
She is speaking as well. Lying to herself. Lying to him without a worry. Take me home, she is saying and not saying, take me anywhere. But leave me be.
Then something clicks in her mind. Something is screaming. There is a hostile reaction that she cannot let control her, cannot let alter her.
She is going to be correct now. She is going to be proper.
She falls and the Doctor is there to catch her.
He says, “Is it you? Did the chip malfunction?”
She doesn’t quite know how to answer that one.
inside her head
“It worms into your brain,” he explains. “Clever little nuisances. Also explodes when not removed without the proper exsuprecllcestuary extrapolator. Knew I should have picked one up at the Nefri Orangesque Market.”
After the Doctor had kept her from falling (and what’s that about? Why had she felt faint for no reason?), she’d kept her distance, slowly backing away as the Doctor began rambling about chips (and not the good sort of chips) and something to do with programming modesty.
“This is ridiculous! I know my own thoughts. I know what belongs to my head and what doesn’t – ow!” Too bad her point’s rendered useless when something actually stabs her, but not physically. No, it’s quite mental. And not the crazy sort of mental.
“Rose?” His hands are on her shoulders and she flinches; away from him in less than half the time he’d touched her.
“No touching. Touching is wrong. Inside my head,” and her voice goes harder, trying to stamp out the terrified feeling that she cannot quite understand, that she simply mustn’t understand, “I was trying to touch something locked. Forbidden.”
She has her hands on the TARDIS console now. The Doctor is leaving her this small measure of space, his face inscrutable.
She fears she may one day read his expressions. Or one day, she will be foolish enough to believe that she is able to decipher his many complicated intentions.
But her mouth runs ahead of her steadfast brain. “It isn’t me, is it?” She laughs, willing the horror away. That is the terrifying, familiar feeling: horror, the violation of self, as if isn’t it enough that she’s quite happily left her fate to the random whim of the Doctor. “It’s – they put something in my head.”
This time, the Doctor does grab her.
“Now Rose, listen to me, aggravate it and it bites back, only when it does, it’ll tear a chunk out of you – your personality, your memories, everything that make you Rose. It’s going to power back on and you’re going to argue with me, refuse that everything’s gone wrong, but we’re wasting seconds, so Rose, what do you really think?”
She doesn’t waste the time. If she’s going to stop being Rose, then there’s nothing really left to lose. “You and your gob. I’d rather like to shag you. I’m tired of just – looking.”
He’s about to respond when – a hot blaze bursts across her mind. She knows her head is tossing about, but she cannot control it. She feels herself falling, falling all the way down, into a place where recovery is but an idle dream. Fading.
Her last thought before darkness: Must escape before this goes any further.
She doesn’t think she’s lost time, but she doesn’t remember falling on the floor. She can feel a crease of the grates worked into the side of her face. Now, there had been something, spoken outloud, oh dear, had she said she wanted to kiss him?
This simply must stop.
She says to him, before she even turns to face him, “Please take me back.”
“I will not take you home.” The Doctor is sitting on his couch, looking at the TARDIS console. They are certainly moving, traveling somewhere, that much is true. There is a dark expression on his face. “Not after the way you’ve manipulated me. Teased me with hope, sent mixed messages. I hope you’re proud of yourself, you little minx.”
She lowers her head. “I expected as much.” More than that, she expected his new, biting anger, one that seizes him with such violent enthusiasm that she has often wondered if he’s excited by it, if he rejoices in such dark emotions. There is a fading echo, somewhere in the back of her mind, but it has been suppressed. Along with all her filthy thoughts. She is on the way towards true cleanliness now. She knows she is. But a little impudence sneaks out, “So where are we going, then?”
“Silence,” the Doctor intones, his lip twitches a bit, but before she can fully grasp its meaning, he continues, “the TARDIS has landed us exactly where you belong. We’ve come back ‘round again to world of the Joxprelii. I’m letting you go, no, I’m ordering you to leave. Best go there and learn some manners. Proper manners. Be respectful of the boundaries and all they entail.”
She knows, quite suddenly, as if the idea simply pops in her head, “A Joxprelii nunnery! A chance at a proper life. I could sign up for the Police – and – and stop all the indecency! Be a true model for self-restraint.”
The Doctor ducks his head at this, but she is far too touched, no, too honored, to care.
Thoughts are fading as quickly as they surface, there’s something laced in them, like a warning, but she is going to be freed from the torments of her hormones, so she pays them no heed.
“Oh Doctor,” she would have, she realizes, touched him here, made some sort of gesture, but she makes no motion to come any closer. Nor does he. “Thank you.”
“I promised your Mum I would keep you safe. If this is the only way -”
Her Mum. Oh, her Mum will be so proud of her.
“It is, oh, it is,” she exclaims, ignoring how rude it is to interrupt an elder. Well, she has loads of lessons to learn. Can’t join a nunnery without a few flaws. Yet, there is still an annoying echo, so she voices her concern, as gently as possible, “Are you being square with me, Doctor? You’d let me go?”
“Rose,” he says, something catching in his voice, “I’ve no wish to have you any other way.”
She doesn’t grab any of her belongings. She has no need for them – she will be supplied elsewhere, by fellow compatriots willing to teach her in the ways of restraint, discipline, and modesty.
Her hand is on the door of the TARDIS, to her brave, new life. She exhales, knowing she will be rid of those thoughts forever and opens the door.
A terrible, shrieking noise. A hideous light, the color of chartreuse.
She did not fear it this time.
“Hello,” she shouts, her voice barely a feeble murmur against that constant scream. “My name is Rose and I am a fellow compatriot – ”
She would have continued, she longs to continue, but something strikes her throat. A sharp kind of localized sting just off-center. It is a precise sort of hit. And as she feels around the sting, she finds it sticking out of her neck, a dart. Her mouth manages to form half a question, “What the-“ before her mouth freezes in a ghastly contortion and her brain is left to finish the job, “bloody hell?”
Antiseptic. Sleeping agent.
The noise ends abruptly and someone, something, says, “Get her in operating room Alpha-Eight.”
And just before her eyes close, she sees the Doctor standing over her, so elegant in his righteous fury, “I’ll have Rose back exactly how she is, thanks.”
“Hello,” he says to her. It’s said very gently, in the tone one might says, awake then, are we? Like a lovely morning after, curled under all the blankets. Well, she certainly is under a blanket, but not curled up. And she is alone in the bed. It is marvelously comfortable though.
She hasn’t even opened her (very painful) eyelids and he’s either aware she’s awake or he’s been saying hello to her at regular intervals. So she answers. “Hello.”
“Awake, now?” She manages to smile a bit, but apparently it’s weak enough that he briefly puts the sonic screwdriver to her head, which is both endearing and a bit too much like mollycoddling for her tastes.
“Yeah. I’m awake.”
“Fantastic,” and he says exactly as he used to say, which is, given the circumstances, a bit too confusing. “In the battle of Abstinence Chip versus Doctor, I am triumphant. With a little help from the medical team of Joxprellin Station Ninety-Seven, of course. Lucky that you were fixed with a dodgy processor, it was just so eager to get back here and force you to become utterly boring that it didn’t question my ease at letting you just swan off. Nearly cracked at calling you a minx.”
“Why,” she asks, knowing the answer, “Not able to lie?”
“No, because half of those lines I picked up from the telly. Had to stop myself before I got really involved and worked in some really terrific stuff from Neighbours.”
“You’re taking the mickey, you are,” she says, and it’s wonderful, because she doesn’t even care that she’s in a medical bed. She will later have to acknowledge that again something has crept into her brain and was seconds away from destroying everything that made her Rose and that she almost joined a nunnery. But not now, because she is wondering just when the Doctor watched Neighbours and whether it was a guilty pleasure or just a pleasure at that.
And at the thought of pleasure, a warmth makes its lazy path across her body and she smiles now, true and honest. “I thought you hated hospitals.”
“Don’t mind the company here.”
“It was weird. Having that thing mucking around in my head. Some of the thoughts, well, I know it was me and it wasn’t? But some of it, it was.” She looks at him, and she knows she’s going to regret this, but she has to say it, “we’re going to have a chat about this, sooner or later.”
“Or sooner,” he agrees. He twines her fingers through his own, patting the top of her hand with his free hand. “Work now, freak later.”
“Is that a saying of yours or something?”
“Hmm?” He’s looking over at the flat monitor at the opposite wall. “No, got it from Memoirs of an Astronut.”
“Best seller across the galaxy. Actually, the title was misspelled in the original printing, but the author insisted it stay that way for the next editions. Well, it was a big seller mind you, but not in your galaxy. A human, though. He’s a relative contemporary, timeline-wise. American though. Bit, hmm, complicated.”
“You must like him.”
The Doctor grins. “Haven’t had the chance to meet him. Well, not yet anyways. Best to leave him off to his strange destiny, there are some that have too many time anomalies circling around them. Makes it a bit too dangerous to make contact; you’re far more likely to end up ruining several good infinite possibilities just for saying hello.”
She takes several moments to let this sink in. “Doctor?”
“I haven’t the faintest idea what you’re nattering on about.”
He taps his fingers along her knuckles. “Pray you never do.” It feels quite good, that simple motion, a quiet kind of intimacy. She longs to shatter it.
So she decides to do it, just as she decided to run towards him when given the (second) opportunity, when she refused to be left back to her own time, when she travels with him, with everything muddled up, old and new, and different and better and just the same, and if it all falls apart, she won’t care, because she has done so much and had so much and if a little more is the end of it, well then –
She almost joined a nunnery.
It’s a good excuse as any.
“You know what was really odd about that thing?” She gestures to her head, in a vague way.
The Doctor says, patiently, “It actually forms at the base of your brain and then, well, travels.”
She pulls a face, but forces herself to continue. “It hated my clothes. I hated my clothes.”
“What did you think of mine?”
She considers. “The coat was fine. Actually you’re always so covered up. It liked that notion. Of not showing off. Being low-key. Hated the Plimsolls, though. Just thought they were good because of the whole ‘body being covered’ issue.”
The Doctor’s expression is the very definition of offended.
“I’m not criticizing, mind. What was really mad was that it hated my pants so much, I - ” She cuts herself off. Here, it is here where it’ll change. So she rushes through it at record speed, “I-haven’t-been-wearing-any-pants-since-I-l
If the Doctor’s mouth is open for too long, that is a good thing. Because she rather fancies his mouth, perhaps a tad too much. The curve of it going a bit lopsided at the end. “Right. Let’s see it then.”
“What? My lack of pants-wearing?”
He blinks at her. Smiles. Detangles his fingers from hers and slowly trails his fingers along the edge of her blanket. She shudders involuntarily.
“I would be,” he pauses with emphasis, “delighted to learn of the nonexistence of your pants.”
“Well, I think if you try peeking here, you’ll be getting the chip in your head. We’re still in Joxprelii, aren’t we?”
He is pulling the sheet down, bit by bit and she’s letting him. She shivers when his index finger trails somewhere at the edge of her shirt and her jeans. “Yes we are. Mighty comfortable beds they have this century. That chip should have been a bit more curious, would have realized we were oh, about five hundred and thirty-nine and a half centuries later than the last time we were here. Fashionably,” and how is he able to play with that word so? He makes it sound deliriously naughty, “late.”
“And they’ve loosened up some restrictions, have they?”
Honestly, she doesn’t care, because the Doctor’s managed to get her jeans just down enough to the point where her pants usually begin (or end, or are, or whatever, his touch is just amazing). There is just skin there.
The Doctor traces it just to be sure.
“After securing a safe way of removing shame inducement chips, the Joxprelii rejoiced and showed their gratitude in many ways. Not half of the ways you’ve pictured in your head, because, as I’ve said,” but she doesn’t even bloody care what’s he’s said, because he’s finally tugged her jeans all the way off and now his hand is tracing a pattern that is going on a fantastic little journey.
He can tell she is not listening, his fingers pause. Dance out a rhythm on her skin.
She should just yank off her top. Just to prove a point. He also gets distracted. But she instead pants out, “What did you say, then?”
His mouth is very close to hers. His body is not sprawled over her, but she wants it so. She is healthy as can be. And she wants all of it.
“It’s not physically possible, but we damn well better give it a go. Also, you’re right; there’s nothing but a significant lack of pants here.”
She doesn’t think that’s what he originally said, but she’s not about to complain. Instead, she says, “Don’t be gentle,” and while that’s probably not what he expected to hear, it certainly does cause a very interested look to cross his face.
They’re halfway and all the way and anyway it’s a muddled mess, she wonders where he likes to touched and oh, she’s free to trace any part of him now, isn’t she? Able to run her tongue along collarbone, to see if he’s really inherited a new mouth fetish, what other little fixations he has that she’s never properly noticed. And she’s been looking and wondering for so long, it’s just so nice to have some actual evidence.
She’s yanking at his jacket, at his shirt, quickly apologizing when she hears a button skitter to the ground, but he doesn’t notice and his hands, his very busy hands are taking care to pull her bare legs around his (damn) clothed ones.
This is her time to shine, and she locks them together and feels him, pressing down and oh.
He raises an eyebrow at her, but she keeps herself from cheering because she’s managed both his jacket and shirt off. A cause for celebration. And how might she celebrate? She’s pulling at her top and the Doctor kindly assists.
“Watch the hair,” she says, wincing as a few strands are sacrificed in the very important action of shirt removal.
She ignores thoughts that there will be more – more time, more adventures, more chances, and focuses that now, only now she is here with the Doctor and she will not waste a single moment. The angle of jaw, well, she’s simply got to figure out the exact taste of him, something that is, not surprisingly, entirely Doctor.
They’ve somehow moved to nearly sideways, and she will, if she remembers later, have to ask him if he specified the size of this bed or if they’ve just gotten lucky.
This is not the time for awkwardness, although she does giggle when he snaps her bra before figuring out how to undo it.
“C’mon, thought you were a Time Lord,” she teases, intoning each word separately. “Haven’t you mastered just about everything in the universe?”
And his look, frustration mounted on top of so many emotions, but mostly a need for more, oh, she understands that.
She understands lots of things, but not how utterly incredible it is to be beside him and below him as he rolls right on of top her, pulling off her bra with agonizing tenderness.
“Tell you what,” he says, peeling the straps off her arms, playfully nipping at her index finger, “I’ll put this on and you be the clever one.”
“You’re a right kinky one, you are,” she says, but his mouth is inches away and she gasps as he kisses her, his body over hers and the feel of their bodies (or most of his, damn those trousers), touching. She’s not naked here, she’s just herself.
So she says, “I’ve been putting these on for years. Plus I don’t think mine is going to fit you.” Strangely enough, she doesn’t know if she wouldn’t mind experimenting with that. What came first, the wanting or the kink? “You are so mad.”
“Ah, but that’s one of the best things about me, isn’t it?”
She’d have commented about his pride, but something new had taken his fancy, as it’s wont to do and thankfully, he’s decided to invest some lovely time with her breasts. And she’s reduced to several noises that sound a bit like begging without explicit words.
Nevertheless, the Doctor is a master at many languages. It seems he’s adept at the unspoken as well. There’s no way to compete with him, just follow him (never tag along, after all, she has the initiative to make some inquiries on the state of things south of his belt) and she hopes somewhere along the way, she knows what she’s doing.
One day, she’ll figure it out. Right now, she is very interested in making sure his trousers have joined the clothes scattered about the room.
Sure, he’s not human. But where it counts, Lord, where it counts, he’s him. The Doctor.
When they’re angled together, properly, just before this last point, this last part before it’s all going to completely change, for better or worse and all those worries that she’s been trying not to face, he looks at her. Touches her face.
She kisses him, wrapping her arms around him and it all changes.
She’s not starting anything, she swears. There’s no rhyme or reason. No ulterior motive.
They haven’t shagged in the TARDIS.
“Why are you always dressing like that?”
“What, you don’t like it?” He even does a fashion twirl, and damn him, he manages it perfectly.
“So many layers,” she murmurs. Bites her lip for emphasis.
But he is in a playful mood and responds, “Bit cold out, no?”
“No. It’s summertime, if we’ve landed properly,” and she knows not to make a comment on either his or the TARDIS’s prowess in arriving at intended destinations. Doesn’t mean she can’t imply that they might be slightly off course. “What is it again, circa sixty A.D.? And why are we here again?”
She’s been a little distracted by the Doctor’s own hand, tracing something quite naughty across the curve of her rear. Haven’t shagged here yet. Oh no, it’s a bad idea. A naughty idea.
“Going to see a man about an aqueduct.”
“Bad man, then.”
“Is there any other? Now weren’t you just insulting my fine finery. Mmm, fine finery, doesn’t really work, now does it?”
“No, it doesn’t. Especially with the lack of ironing.” Before he can protest, she adds, “Love the wrinkles, though. Think I put that one in there a couple of night ago.” She flicks at the right side of his torso, a little lower and he’s quite nearly ticklish. That had been a lovely discovery.
“It’s just all those layers. Makes it a bit inconvenient sometimes for you know - you know.”
“Oh. Oh. Right. Well, I sort of like dressing like this. Comfortable. I don’t question why you favor the hoodies, now do I?”
“Rude,” she says with a grin. “Besides I’ve noticed you smiling whenever you tug down a zipper. You like the noise.”
“Who wouldn’t?” He actually imitates it and she laughs then, rich and full-bodied.
“On further inspection,” she says, her voice a little too giddy to be properly seductive, “I think I like the layers. You know what it actually does?”
He knows where she’s going with this. But if there’s a glimmer of ‘bad idea’ in his eyes, there’s also a dare there as well. He says her name anyway. As if that’s going to stop her.
“Gives me a little more time,” she whispers in her ear and it undoes him so wonderfully. His eyes are nearly shut. “On the other hand.” Her hand is at the front of his trousers. She’s pressed against him exactly how he likes it; it makes him a bit quieter than he usually is.
Rose has always enjoyed flirting. This though – seduction – is even better. The Doctor kisses her recklessly, a clumsy sort of perfect grace. She’s a quick learner and knows that when he’s lost like this, normal restraints for the moment completely shattered, that it’s best to let it all go apart.
She tries to mimic the noise in the back of her throat as she opens his trousers, pushing the trousers easily down his hips. It’s a failure, as their mouths are basically fused together. They’re not great at this, they’re fantastic at this. She still has no idea how she got that bruise on her left ankle.
He’s kicked off his trousers, manages to get socks and trainers off as well with very little need of detachment. She loves it when he does that little motion with his tongue and he loves to do it and she won’t ever get tired of this.
And when she makes her first reckless grasp of his cock and he goes all still, holding his breath a little, not shuddering, but he is so extraordinary when he’s like this. It’s like vulnerability and nothing like it at all.
He’ll have his revenge soon enough. That’s a promise, when he starts tugging at her clothes. He’s still got so many layers to peel off. She’s quite happy to take her time.
And the floor of the TARDIS will be decorated in many, many layers of clothes.
we had chips
Questions will come – that’s just one part of it. The consequence of traveling with him. So many questions and half of them have no logical answer, none that she can quite grasp.
But she’ll ask, nevertheless. She’ll say, “So where are we now, then?”
And he’ll answer. More that half the time, he’s right.
It’s not half as bad as she feared it would be. Strangely enough, it’s quite right. It all fits. They continue to land in places and times that aren’t exactly planned. Sometimes they get into a spot of trouble. Other times, she rejoices in proving that it is physically possible, even though she has several strained muscles the next day. All the time, it’s still what she loves best – being with him. Even when he drives her a bit mad.
She’ll ask if they can stop off for chips and he’ll say he knows a great world that specializes in them. And off they’ll go. It’s as simple as that.
She’s almost sold off to a weary fisherman when they try the neon-colored chips of Drosenia. The experience of having the Doctor bargain for her by composing a seventeen hundred line poem about the wonders of fish is ruined when, after all that, the chips turn out to be quite rubbish.
“You skipped a syllable on the seven hundredth and eighth line,” she informs him after they toss the chips away in a nearby bin.
“How can you miss a syllable?”
“Are you trying to imply that I’m a bit of a chatty sort?”
She pokes his side. It’s not where he’s ticklish, but he smiles a bit and ducks his head down. “Oh no, Doctor, I’m not the sort to imply anything. Know of any other worlds that have decent chips?”
He takes her hand and says with a confidence that never fails to stir something deeper than all the looking – all the knowing – could ever gather within herself. It is the knowledge that this is all of him, the best and worst parts, his absolute craving to see it all, to be everywhere and every time, “I know an absolutely wonderful little rock of a world. Care to come with?”