fic: Stepford, 1/?. (Ten/Rose)

This is another one for my Trope Bingo card, the Fake Relationship square. It’s in two parts right now, but I might end up with three. It’s also supposed to fulfill this week’s Then There’s Us challenge, but we’ll see how that goes.

Adult, 4,955 words, this section.

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“You know, I always expected something like this to happen.” Rose is grinning, wide and toothy, as her voice bounces with laughter. “I just thought it’d be, well, me, that got us into it.”

The last bit brings him up short. “Oh?”

Rose shrugs. “Yeah, one too many gossipy women on the Estate, an old school friend, a party, and — poof! — fake relationship. Just to keep a cover, you understand.”

He nods, oh, right, when she says it like that, of course — “Wait, what?”

She waves a hand dismissively in the air. “Oh, come on, you know what I mean, that sort of thing is always happening on the telly. Take two attractive people, mix in a little tension, stick ‘em in a single bedroom for ratings, stir and repeat.”

There’s a part of his brain that visualizes the sentence, every word spelled out in strong, straight font, and each part of it is lighting up in sequence, as he tries to figure out where to focus.

“Tension?” No, that’s not it, should’ve gone with — “You think I’m attractive?”

She does, he knows, but he’s felt a little off balance almost since they landed on this planet, and forcing her to admit it might unseat her a little bit, too.

Except Rose doesn’t even blink.

“You are attractive,” she says, and her face screws up in confusion, as if he’s questioned the color of the sky (an Earth-y blue, on this planet) or whether or not he’s wearing shoes (Chuck Taylors, as ever).

“Right, ‘course I am,” he says, hustling to recover and straightening his tie. “Just didn’t realize you’d…noticed.”

She laughs at him outright this time, taking a few moments to fill the air with the light, bubbly sound of it before she finally shakes it off. “No, no,” she says, exaggerated. “I’m always just looking at your face because you’ve got food on it. Honestly, what are you like?”

As he looks at the queen-sized bed in front of them, and the pile of luggage at their feet, he’s beginning to question that himself, actually.

&&.

It had started well enough — smooth landing on a roll-the-dice location, sunny day, Rose Tyler by his side. All the ingredients for the sort of sweeping, dangerous adventure they specialize in.

Except, within a matter of minutes, they’d been surrounded by a gaggle of a women — women he recognized, and who apparently recognized him, even though it had to have been at least five faces since they’d seen him.

That damn blue box, giving him away every time.

“Welcome,” he’d said to Rose, trying to keep it under his breath, “To Stepford.”

Before she could respond, she’d been swept up, her ring-less left hand held up for public mockery and he’d rushed to cover for it.

“Oh, um, darling,” he said, fishing around in his coat pocket as the words knotted in his throat (Darling?). “Forgot I picked up your ring from the jeweler’s.”

The women, Rose among them, had turned to look at him with interest, and come on, come on, there had to be something that would work in his pocket.

There, just there, in the corner, that felt like — oh, one carat? Maybe a bit more? — and yes, that was it, the diamond ring he’d won in a claw game on Pixaria. He pulled it out, taking a split second to slip a bio-damper onto his own ring finger.

“Here you go,” he crowed, brandishing the ring, “All shining and perfect.” He scratched at the back of his neck with his free hand, trying to apologize with widened eyes. “Just like you.”

The ire of the women seemed to deflate as Rose reflexively extended her hand, fingers just the slightest bit sweaty — nerves, probably — and he slipped the ring on.

“Wouldn’t do to have people think we weren’t married,” he said loudly, “Especially when there are planets out there that’ll have you executed for that sort of thing.”

Rose’s eyes widened to match his own and she nodded imperceptibly, mouthing the word, “Executed” as he forced a smile for the women.

“Hello, ladies,” he said. “Sorry to run, but I’ve just remembered we have dinner reservations. Anniversaries, you know how it goes.” He closed his hand around Rose’s, tugging her lightly toward the TARDIS as he backed up slowly.

“Now, now, Doctor,” the tallest of the women said. “You remember from last time — you must let us show you some hospitality. Can’t just be running off, that would be rude. You’re not rude are you, Doctor?”

He opened his mouth only to snap it shut as Rose’s heel connected with the toe of his trainers, “The Doctor? Rude?” Rose said, very, very loudly. “Never! I’m Rose Ty — I’m Rose. I’m the Doctor’s Rose. And you are?”

The taller woman’s eyes narrowed as she squared her shoulders, the crisp fabric of her button-up shirt stretching slightly with the movement. “I’m Cathy, and this is Christy, Catie, Carol, and Carina.”

Each of the women gave a polite smile as they were mentioned. The Doctor scrambled to identify unique qualities to help with name retention, but other than a few height differences, there was no uniqueness to be found. Slim, blonde, blue-eyed, it was just as he remembered, from back when he himself was blond and blue-eyed.

“We’re all so very pleased to meet you,” the women, minus Cathy, said in chorus, and the Doctor didn’t miss the small step Rose took backward. He tightened his grip on her hand in reassurance.

“Yep — yes,” Rose said. “I’m…so very pleased to meet you as well.”

Cathy pinched her lips into a tight smile. “I’m sure,” she said. “Come now, let’s get you settled. Catie, you can host them for the week.”

Catie, who he’d been almost sure was actually Carol, nodded enthusiastically. “Of course!” She clapped her hands together. “I’ll just allow you a few minutes to gather your luggage, and then I’ll show you to your room. I think you’ll find it entirely pleasant. I’ve just redone the decor from a sky blue to a much more calming cerulean blue.”

Luggage! That’ll be it then, they can just pop into the TARDIS, pretend to pack, and he’d start the dematerialization sequence instead.

“Doctor,” Cathy said. “You can stay with us, I’m sure the other husbands would love to meet you, well, again. We’ll have some of the children help Rose with your things.”

Damn, so close.

Rose looked at him with only the slightest bit of anxiety in her expression, before nodding and turning for the TARDIS doors.

“Rose?” Cathy called. “Don’t forget to pack something…upscale. We’ll be visiting the theatre on Friday, it simply wouldn’t do to wear —” her eyes raked over Rose’s outfit as she sneered, “— jeans.”

Rose nodded and disappeared into the TARDIS. He gave the ship, and the separate bedrooms it contained, one final look before he was pulled away in the direction of a country club.

&&.

Turning back to him in their new, temporary bedroom, Rose’s eyes have cleared, her mouth setting in a line to create an expression he always associates with Rose getting down to business.

Well, a certain type of business, he amends, gaze darting quickly to and then away from the bed. He wouldn’t know about the expressions she makes for other types of business, try as he might to imagine them.

“All right,” she says, “What’s the plan? Free the men? Or, wait, is it the women? Who’s in trouble here, Doctor? I can’t really tell.”

He knocks his trainer against the luggage, wincing as it connects with a solid mass instead of the empty bag he’d been expected. What had she packed? Bricks?

“Um,” he clears his throat. “We are. We’re in trouble.”

She rolls her eyes. “I’d figured that,” she says. “But surely we’ll be saving someone else, alongside ourselves. That’s the way it goes, that’s what we do.”

That big, big bed and its frankly not-very-calming cerulean blue duvet seems to shimmer in front of him, a reminder that nothing about this particular trip is going to be “what they do.”

He steps determinedly around the luggage, perching himself on top of the desk instead of its accompanying chair, and he’s sure somewhere Catie just shuddered.

“Neither the men, nor the women, are prisoners here,” he says, scrubbing a hand across the back of his neck, as he swings his dangling legs back and forth. “It’s all very voluntary. About, oh, a couple hundred years after your time on Earth, there’s a movement that rebels against how free-wheeling the planet has become. They set out for here — reinstate a little order, get back to what they consider family values. They really do it call it Stepford, Rose. The negative connotations of that name got lost over time. They see it as idyllic.”

Rose is watching him carefully and he tries not to fidget under the scrutiny.

“What about executing single people? There’s got to be a problem with that.”

She’s got a sparkle in her eyes, that little hint of reckless adventure-lust that he’s done nothing but nurture.

“Well, yes, that’s a problem, only it doesn’t actually come up very often,” he says. “Stepford doesn’t receive many visitors, and the ones they do just pretend to be in love, or, well, married. Like we’re doing. Easily avoided, as executions go.”

She crosses the room, wheeling the desk chair out to sit before deliberately propping her feet up on the desk next to where he’s seated. Forget the shuddering, somewhere Catie is having full blown heart palpitations.

“Is that what you did last time you were here? Pretended?”

There’s a strategic casual air to her question that he notices immediately. They’re not too far from Sarah Jane and the knowledge he’s had other people to…pretend with.

“No,” he says, shaking his head. “I was here alone. They tried to pair me off — was blonde then, blue-eyed, too, and they wanted me to make little blonde-haired, blue-eyed babies with one of the older daughters. Didn’t want to hear a word about Gallifreyan genetics either. In the end, I told them I had several severe food allergies, nothing they wanted to pass on to their stock. They sent me off with a fruit basket and a handwritten note. Delicious apples, here in Stepford, we’ll have to see about getting some of those.”

The corners of Rose’s mouth turn down, processing what he’s said, and there’s more than a few things he hopes she doesn’t push at — Gallifreyan genetics, for one.

“Blonde-haired, blue-eyed women,” she finally says, dropping her feet back down to the ground. “Seems like the sort of place you wouldn’t mind staying for a while.” She meets his eye and the brown ringing her pupils has never been more apparent.

They’re not too far from Reinette either, he realizes that, as well.

He taps the toe of his trainer against her kneecap. “You’re wrong, you know. I do mind. But we’re here for a week now, and at least the company I came with is good.”

He ducks his head so she can see his grin. They’d had it out about Madame de Pompadour already, and he’s doing his best to keep it that way — out and away.

She returns his smile and something loosens in his chest. “A week?”

He hops off the desk, “Well, six and a half days now. Any shorter and it’d seem like we don’t want to be here, any longer and we’d be overstaying our welcome. The unspoken rules of polite Stepford society.”

She rises to stand next to him as they survey the luggage, nudging his shoulder with her own. “And you do so well with polite.”

He rocks sideways to return the motion with a laugh. “Height of courtesy, me. Come on, let’s get unpacked. Should almost be time for dinner.”

They work quickly, and he realizes that there’s an actual, proper bag for him as well. Spare button-ups and ties, boxer briefs and undershirts, socks — there’s even an extra pair of trainers.

Embarrassed, he shoves the pants into a drawer and piles the rest of the clothes on top of them.

“The TARDIS packed that for you,” Rose says, motioning at the empty suitcase as he tries to jam the drawer shut. “Just in case you were worried about me rooting around in your delicate underthings.”

“Oi! Hardly delicate,” he argues. “Quite manly and…flattering.”

Rose laughs, “I’m sure.”

He bristles at that, “Rose Tyler, just because you haven’t had occasion to see me in my pants doesn’t mean it’s any less spectacular.”

She grins and brushes his hands away from the overflowing drawer, smoothing the clothes down before sliding it shut. “It’s spectacular, is it?”

He sniffs, “Of course it is. You should know that, we are married. We know all about each other in our underpants.”

Oh, no no no no, her face is far too amused, and this isn’t going to go well at all.

“Do we?” She grins around that damn tongue of hers. “Tell me — what sort of knickers do I wear?”

He knows the answer, in fact, he’s known the answer for a long, long time, longer even than he’s had this body, low-riding jeans, and too-sheer skirts, but telling her so, admitting he’s noticed that sort of thing, well, it seems a bit dangerous.

Instead, he shrugs helplessly.

“That’s what I thought,” she crows, and turns back to unpacking her own suitcase.

“Patterns,” he blurts before he can stop himself.

“What?”

He focuses on the carpeting, the plush, pristine look of it. “Patterns,” he says again. “Your knickers have patterns. Flowers, stripes, polka dots, animal print, honestly, Rose, most of the time your knickers are completely clashing with the rest of your outfit. Doesn’t that drive you mental?”

Rose’s cheeks go pink as her mouth opens and closes. What did he say that for? What did he even think that for? Why, in point of fact, is he allowed to talk or think at all?

She’s staring at him now, clutching — oh god, she actually has knickers in her hand, striped things with lace edges, and they’re dangling from her fingertips over an open drawer.

Then, when he’s ready to apologize, or flee the room, or both, she laughs.

Loudly.

“Who matches their knickers to their outfit? Is that — oh! You do!” She’s still laughing, fully belly laughs that shake her whole body. “What’s it like? Blue tie, blue pants? Or more intricate than that? Haven’t got yourself swirly boxer briefs, do you?”

She drops her knickers and darts for the drawer containing his clothes, but he slams a hand out to keep it shut.

“It’s the first thing,” he says, begrudgingly. “The blue thing.”

She rocks back on her heels, squinting at the trousers he’s wearing, like she might be able to see what’s underneath.

“And you, dear, find it completely adorable,” he adds. “In case anyone asks.”

Hmph. There, not so funny now. Fake marriage and fake feelings on his decidedly un-fake underpants.

She stops laughing abruptly. “Will they?”

“Will they what?”

She nods at his trousers, presumably referencing his matching pants. “Will they ask that sort of thing?”

He tugs at his ear. It hadn’t really occurred to him, outside of winning this little conversation, but they might. There are all sorts of things he doesn’t know about Rose, that her…husband would.

“Well, I don’t think pants are acceptable for polite conversation, but you’re right. They will expect us to know certain things. Maybe we better get our stories straight.”

Rose nods. “Right, right, let me just —” She dumps the rest of her clothes into the drawers, shuffling them haphazardly before sitting down on the bed.

“All ready, I’m ready,” she says, arranging herself primly. “Dating the Doctor 101, let’s begin.”

He sits down next to her. They’re both perched right at the foot of the bed, and he’s hyper-aware of the space that is, and isn’t, between them.

“Well, first, it’s not dating, it’s marriage,” he says, plucking at a imaginary loose thread on the duvet. There’s not a thing out of place in the entire room, save the stuff they brought in with them, but she allows the gesture, her own hands scratching at the material of her jeans. “But you’re right, we should start with dating. First date —”

“Chips!” They say it in unison, and maybe this won’t be as hard as he thought. If they stick close to the truth, there won’t be too many lies to keep track of.

“Put that one down for favorite food, too,” Rose says, and he nods.

“Worst date?” He looks at her curiously, eyebrows raised in what he hopes is a nonthreatening way.

She tilts her head, “Well, there was that one time I thought you stood me up on Christmas.”

He opens his mouth in shock, “Rose Tyler! You stood me up!”

“Only because I thought the date was with a different man!”

The wince that crosses his face is brief, but she catches it anyway.

“I know now, though,” she says gently. “Same man.”

Flexing his toes inside his trainers, he turns to look at her more fully. “Sorry I didn’t tell you that…plans could change like that.”

She reaches out to cover the hand still resting on the bed with her own. “I know. And I’m sorry I asked if we could go back to the old…plans.”

He nods and twists his wrist, so that his palm is face up and beneath hers before squeezing her hand lightly.

“What other things should we know about each other?” she asks. “First kiss?”

“The TARDIS,” he says, at the same time she says, “New Earth.”

“The TARDIS? We’ve never kissed in the TARDIS.” Her voice is genuinely curious, and that answers a question he’s had for months now — whether she remembers.

“No, no, you’re right,” and he tries to ignore any sadness in his own voice. It’s better if she doesn’t remember. He doesn’t exactly know why, but it’s better. “Just thought that would be easy to remember. I’d forgotten all about New Earth.”

He hasn’t forgotten though, not even a little.

“Wish I could forget,” she says. “Bloody embarrassing, that was.”

He twines their fingers together, dancing his fingertips over the backs of her knuckles.

“Aw, I don’t know,” he says. “Was sort of nice.”

She snatches her hand away to swat at his shoulder. “Nice? That was awful! I don’t — Doctor, if you need to know, you know, for Stepford, I don’t kiss like that. All forceful and without any…”

Catching her hand as it retreats from his shoulder, he can’t stop himself from asking, “Without any what?”

She fixes him with a hard look, like she’s trying to figure out if he’s baiting her, and he is, just a little bit, but there are so many ways that sentence could end.

Without any finesse, without any passion, without any —

“Tongue,” she says. “Without any tongue.”

Well, that was unexpected. Is it hot in the room? It’s hot in the room. And fast, everything in the room is fast now. And a little zoomed in. A very zoomed in, hot, fast room, that’s where they are now.

He can’t help himself from asking this time either. “Tongue?”

She nods and then collapses suddenly back on to the bed. Her hand is pulled from his and her voice is muffled by the way she turns her face into the duvet, like she’s trying to wipe off any embarrassment, or the entire conversation.

“Tongue,” she confirms, turning her head to peer at him where he’s still sitting up. “You don’t kiss like that?”

There’s blood and hormones and energy pounding in his ears, everything tumbling together, Rose Tyler’s pink little tongue wrapping around his own in his mind’s eye.

“Well, um,” he says, and can she even hear him? Can she hear anything that isn’t his body responding inappropriately, fizzing little sparks of light sloshing in his veins and pooling in his groin. “I — well. Kissing is actually a…in ancient times…did you know that whales…sometimes picnic ants…”

Rose’s embarrassment has been swept away, replaced with clear eyes and a teasing smile as he digs himself deeper.

“You know, Doctor,” she says. “Shireen used to have this little poem — a peach is a peach, a plum is a plum, but a kiss ain’t a kiss, without some tongue.”

It’s a smug little grin she’s wearing now, that blasted tongue poking out from the side and apparently reveling in his unease.

“That’s not a very factual poem,” he manages. “On Smuckers V, a plum is actually an orange, and an orange is actually drywall.”

Rose’s eyebrows raise, a mocking dance up her forehead, and then she’s rolling her head back and forth on the duvet, “Oh, god, you!” she says, and it sounds exasperated. “Do you ever do anything normally?”

There’s a fork in the road, he can see it as clear as day, a quick brush-off and a speech on the mundanities of “normal,” or a much more interesting path — one full of pink and yellow and wet, human heat.

He shifts over her body, twisting at the waist so he cages her in, torso above hers and hands on either side of her head on the mattress.

“Apparently, Rose Tyler,” he says, pleased at the way she’s gone completely still beneath him, “I kiss normally.”

Her lips part, little puffs of breath that he’s just an inch too far away to feel escaping between them.

“Do you?” Her voice is all wrapped up in so many layers, and the top one looks like hope. Breathy, warm hope.

He nods and dips his head closer to hers. It would be weird, suddenly being perched over Rose, ready to — well, ready to kiss her — except he’s always ready to kiss her. There’s a perpetual state of pre-kiss air between them, always hanging around, making things oppressive and exciting and giddy.

That moment right before the drop on a roller coaster, the nervous tingle of knowing what’s coming, but being unable to predict the exact moment it’ll arrive, they flourish in that moment, they thrive and pulse and live.

“I do,” he says.

Her tongue darts out to wet her lips, deliberate and co-signed by the challenge in her eyes. There’s a few strands of her hair out of place, and he shifts his weight more fully onto his left hand, so that he can brush them away with his right.

There’s always so much wanting between them, along with the anticipating, he wants and wants and wants, but it’s the getting that keeps holding him back. He’s completely terrified of the getting, the getting and the having and the eventual losing.

It’s enough to make him shift backward, those same routine fears, things he’s felt for hundreds of years made that much more vivid by the spicy-sweet smell of Rose underneath him.

She looks disappointed, her face falling as he scoots back from her, moving to raise up off his other hand, too, and back away.

Run away.

“I don’t believe you,” she says suddenly.

“What?” He stops mid-motion, hands poised in the air over her shoulders.

“I don’t believe you that you kiss like that.”

Something tightens in his chest, recognition of a cheap gambit and how desperately he wants to fall for it.

“No?” He moves forward again as he says it, fingers settling back into the fabric of the duvet, more of her hair trapped between skin and cotton. Everything is so soft, she is so soft, and he’s suddenly tired of all the rough edges that brick in his existence.

“Not even a little bit,” she says. “I think you’re lying.”

He nudges her nose with his own. “Not lying.”

Her chin tilts up, bringing their lips close enough that he’d count it, really he would, on some universal score card, kiss totals for the Doctor, increased by one. But he can do better, he can do so much better.

“Prove it,” she says, and he presses his mouth to hers.

It’s supposed to be about his tongue, some distant, small part of his brain remembers, but the rest of him, the bits that are less prone to pedantic nit-picking, those bits want to take their time getting there.

And so he starts slow, mouth still pressed gently to hers, he shifts, moving experimentally a few times, angling to grasp her bottom lip between his own, and there — there’s the return of pressure he was waiting for. Rose’s head lifts, tilts, soft, warm lips advancing and retreating, and everything narrowed down and everything blown wide.

She tastes like lip balm and salt, and the information is being passed back to his taste buds, a series of hand-offs, molecules and air, and he wants to experience it firsthand, wants it exploding across his tongue, wet and warm and agile, and he opens his mouth against hers.

There’s a split second, a brief flash of infinity, the top of the roller coaster, tongues in their own mouths and braced for impact, and then he’s pushing forward, body leaning into hers as his tongue slips by twin sets of lips to twine with her own.

It’s too much all at once, and he stutters, mouth stilling above hers almost before he’s started. He’s poised above her, with his tongue in her mouth, and he’s not moving at all, completely frozen, something like terror and something like freedom seizing every inch of his skin.

Her own movements, her momentum, rhythms and routines and well-worn grooves, everything is knocked out of step as she recognizes he’s stopped, and then she’s grinning against his mouth, around both of their tongues. A wide, awkward thing that stretches her lips and brings the tops of her teeth against his tongue.

Fitting her hands into his hair, she scrapes her nails across his scalp, before lifting him away slightly, pulling their mouths apart, but not entirely.

“Keep going,” she mumbles against him, and it’s muffled, and it’s wet, but he understands, and he nods before closing the small distance again.

Humans and their kissing, and it really is very, very messy, and, oh god, oh fuck, it’s completely brilliant, the way it’s about so much more than what their mouths are doing.

Her hands are still in his hair, grasping and tugging and pulling, and he doesn’t know, can’t possibly be expected to be aware of his own appendages, should hardly be responsible for the way he’s shifted, dropping to his elbows above her and fitting his arms underneath hers, so that he can slip them between her back and the bed, his hands clutching to curl around her shoulders.

It’s an amazing anchor point, pulling her up and pressing her down, mouths shifting with each movement, pulling back only to return, and he is licking, he is basically licking Rose Tyler’s tongue.

In a movement full of clumsy grace, she maneuvers to tangle their legs, so that his thigh is trapped between her own and he’s about two seconds from getting hard, two seconds from pressing down into her, two seconds from the seam on her jeans and the friction of his zip and fuck, fuck, fuck, there it is, his erection, rising, hardening, and kissing and rutting and low, breathy moans.

Her legs twist around his, bringing him closer, before she’s kicking out, wiggling, until his hips are bracketed by her thighs, soft, fleshy, perfect little parentheses and he wants to hear every aside Rose Tyler ever makes.

His feet are dangling off the bed, no purchase to be found as he scrambles to press closer to her, and then she’s shimmying up the duvet, the rough slide of his-and-hers cotton flooding every atom with friction and need.

There’s a sharp, rapid sound, and it’s fuzzy and stumbling as he pulls away and tries to place it. Rose beneath him, mouth wet and eyes glazed and no, it hasn’t come from her. His eyes find the headboard and he bucks his hips hard, but it doesn’t move, no meeting of wood on wall, just the sexiest fucking noise he’s ever heard in his life escaping from Rose’s mouth.

The harsher noise sounds again, a burst of cacophany in a room full of labored breathing, and they both recognize it at the same time —

It’s the door.

“Dinner’s ready!” Catie’s voice echoes into room, smothering them, and he shifts off of Rose with a sigh of regret.

“Coming,” he growls, the words loud and rough.

“Would have done,” Rose says, her voice is low, and it takes only a second for him to catch on, to meet her eyes with a delighted look and nod as enthusiastically as possible.

He swings his legs off the side of the bed and stands, turning to pull Rose into a sitting position and watching as she finds her footing on the floor as well.

They shuffle across the room, navigating the empty luggage and straightening their clothes and hair. As he reaches for the door handle, Rose stops him with a hand on his shoulder. He turns to look at her, and something in his chest flips at the sight of her, pink cheeks, red mouth, her shirt hopelessly wrinkled.

“Save room for dessert,” she tells him.

And of course he will, it’d be rude not to.

PART 2

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