The Beatles She Loves You drifted in the dusty air in the poorly lit thrift shop. The Doctor stayed immersed in the shadows of a beat-up armoire ignoring the sickly-sweet stench of illicit marijuana mixed with incense burned to hide it. Every human who wandered in was scrutinized.
He’d promised Rose no aliens lurked in their new corner of domesticity. But there had been. At least one, at some point based on the circuit board he liberated from the repair shop.
A dodgy woman with a bright pink coat and hair piled in poofy curls on her head walked a few feet from him examining a brass lamp that had seen better days. Even further away, in the cramped, musty furniture section, an older couple sniffed the back of a chocolate brown corduroy arm chair. Aliens or cautious shoppers? He’d have to get closer to find out.
Except, his gaze landed on a certain dark- haired ex time agent exuding pheromones in an attempt to cut a deal. His victim, a fluttering eyed woman in a yellow plaid jumpsuit who flirted back with equal charm and a hand on his arse. She didn’t budge an inch on price. Good for her.
“Doctor, what do you think about crushed velvet?” Rose appeared like his personal ray of sunshine.
“Are you seriously asking me that when there’s a blue lava lamp in the corner?” He grinned brightly before ushering them away from a man who was staring at the long expanse of leg revealed by Rose’s yellow daisy print mini dress.
“Doctor, we need a sofa,” Rose made an attempt at reason but still allowed him to lead her over to the lamp. It glowed warmly, TARDIS blue wax was making a journey up through oily fluid. All it needed was a hum.
“It’s lovely, but--” Rose sighed nervously twisting the silver chain handle on her handbag. “We can’t afford extras. The sofa doubles as Jack’s bed so that takes priority. Unless, you want him sharing with me?”
“My point exactly.” Jack bounded over, bell bottoms and tie-dye t-shirt fitting in with the younger set. “I’d be happy to share with Rose. Wouldn’t even hog the blankets,” he teased much to Rose’s giggles. Which irked the Doctor.
“Not happening. Where’d your new friend wander off to?” Doctor eyed said woman curling up to her next sales victim.
“Not my type or I’m not hers, if you know what I mean.” Jack winked. Rose giggled again. The Doctor rolled his eyes which was becoming standard among the trio of friends.
“You humans can’t go a minute without some sort of sexual innuendo.”
“Better get used to it,” Jack retorted, running a finger the length of the tapered lava lamp. “You live here now. And if you want my advice--”
“Not particularly.” The Doctor cut him off, eyeing a bloke rapping his knuckles against a cabinet not far from them, but behind his thick black rimmed glasses, seemed a little too curious about their conversation.
“You know, maybe the innuendo wouldn’t bother you if you blew off a little steam.” Jack continued, undaunted as he collapsed onto a nearby lounger, bouncing on yet another noisy spring.
“Can we just--” Rose made a half-hearted attempt to get them back on task. But the Doctor couldn’t let up a good opportunity to vent.
“You mean release like you did with your boyfriend breaking our sofa.”
“Oh God,” Rose groaned, fingers pressed to her temples. “Please let’s not.”
“Oh no, that was not me.” Jack bounded up and went toe to toe with the Doctor.
Rose had already heard this argument. Yes, Jack and his boyfriend did a lot more than snog. Honestly, Rose had been impressed at the gymnastics involved on their current sofa with two tall blokes. It wasn’t like the broken sofa was the most comfortable, and after all, it had been free…as in off the garbage heap near someone’s home.
“Like you and Rose don’t spend my work nights testing the durability of that sofa which squeaked a hell of lot more when I got home.” Jack was on a tear and Rose couldn’t blame him after getting stuck with sofa sleeping.
“Harkness,” the Doctor growled at which point Rose had to intervene.
Both of them needed to relieve tension but not here in the shop. Jack had a boyfriend for that. And the Doctor…well he was another matter. He needed to tinker or find something else to do like use his impressive Time Lord physique to haul a sofa home.
“Know what, problem solved,” Rose announced. “There’s one to your right that should do. Now both of you shift.” She took charge shoving seemingly immovable shoulders as she marched over to an orange and gold brocade sofa, cushions dotted with cigarette burns. “Now sit!”
She didn’t even look at them. It was more effective for her to command and expect results. And like usual, they did as she asked. How she got this power, she didn’t question. The universe owed her.
Jack bounced, wiggled and petted the fabric. The Doctor sat back, splayed and subtly soniced it.
“Could use some airing out,” Jack complained, sniffed and then sneezed.
“I can sort that if Rose likes it,” The Doctor appeared keen on winning bonus points with Rose or maybe he just wanted shopping done. Rose sighed and looked at the price tag on the back before she too wrinkled her nose.
“It’s a bit manky.”
“It’s bigger than we’ve got and no squeak.” The Doctor bounced.
Jack stretched out, his head landing in the Doctor’s lap.
“You know, I can see the positives.” He looked up at the Doctor with that twinkle in his eyes that screamed flirt and Rose loves me so you can’t hurt me.
“Are you done?” the Doctor asked before a very proper, blue leisure suited man with wire rimmed glasses slinked over to them.
“May I help you?” he asked, hissing his words. Rose narrowed her eyes suspicious at not just his voice but the way he slow blinked his eyes. Too slow.
“Absolutely,” Jack purred in that drawn out way only he could. “I think we may want this one.” He bounded up and put on his usual charm. “Jack Harkness.” He quickly whisked the man away as he negotiated.
“He never stops,” the Doctor commented as Rose slid down next to him, eyeing the two as they left before focusing on the task at hand.
“It’s not a bad sofa. And roomy. Can you really get rid of that stink?” Rose wrinkled her nose at tobacco and whatever the sour stench was.
“It’s a simple matter of exciting the molecules in the fabric and neutralize any olfactant matter or bacteria.”
And science for the win when the Doctor received the Rose Tyler smile brighter than the double suns of the Cassidian system in the Ir’tk Tar Nebula.
“Thank you, Doctor.” Rose curled into his side tucking her feet under her. “Definitely comfier than it looked.”
“It’ll do,” he nodded his head, arm wrapped around her shoulders wondering if there was a temporal anomaly causing his senses to get all warm and gooey. Then again, every time he and Rose cuddled on any piece of furniture, his body temperature increased and his hearts palpitated.
She seemed oblivious and quite content. Just to be sure nothing was amok, he darted a few glances around. Just odd humans puttering and poking around. Almost like an alien market. Nothing seemed out of place. Other than Jack strutting back toward them, and the alien salesman shimmering. Fantastic.
“Doctor, did I just see--” Rose leaned forward in that observant way he loved.
“Someone’s shimmer malfunction.” He stood ready to lay oncoming storm on any alien mischief.
“We’ve got ourselves a new sofa.” Jack preened. “Terrance here, gave us a ten percent discount and offered to throw in the lava lamp you liked.”
“He’ll give us twenty percent and toss in standing mirror for not reporting him to the authorities. And maybe I’ll even fix his alien technology.” The Doctor stood tall, shoulders square, more comfortable in that moment facing a suspicious alien than he had since they landed in this time period. Especially, with Rose standing by his side, ready to storm the second hand shop in a chase the alien race, if necessary.
“Sir,” Terrance hissed. “I believe you are mistaken.”
“Eh Doctor, can I have a word?” Jack sidled up to him. “Ixnay on the alien stuff.” He whispered and winked at Terrance the alien salesman.
“No, he’s not mistaken,” Rose, knee high boots stomping on the cracked linoleum floor leaned toward Terrance. “Your blinking a little weird, Terrance. Don’t want to scare the humans do ya? They might call, I dunno the alien police, and they’re not too friendly in this era. They’re more dissecting and less discussing.”
“Oh shit,” Jack groaned, a smile still plastered on his face. “Maybe we should take this somewhere--”
“Too late for that,” the Doctor announced as Terrance blinked a few more times until a woman shrieked and feinted at the site of a furry, puce green, bipedal, three-eyed most certainly not normal sales man.
The Doctor grabbed Terrance by one of his muscular furry arms and hauled the alien into a back corner behind a black Asian themed dressing screen with badly depicted storks printed on it.
Rose and Jack stood guard on either end.
“Better hurry,” Jack urged, facing a crowd helping the collapsed woman.
Terrance slapped a three fingered hand at the flashing yellow device on his waist.”
“Who are you and how did you get here,” The Doctor demanded before running his sonic along the device, finding the malfunctioning circuit frequency.
“Terrrrrrannnnsssss,” he hissed, his three blue eyes dilated and blinking rapidly. Three nostrils snorted a purple mist the Doctor recognized, waving his hand to dissipate the salty, sea scent of anxiety.
“Yeah, I got that. Kranniasx right? That’s two galaxies over. Never seen one your kind on Earth before. Why are you here.” He stabilized the shimmer providing the alien with his human cover.
“Acccccident,” Terrance released another breath and shuddered. “Thank you.”
“Accident how?” Rose asked, biting her bottom lip in that way the Doctor found very enticing even if he didn’t mention it. He had an alien to interrogate first. Lip nibbling could come after thwarting the alien sales clerk menace.
“Someone’s heading this way. Hurry it up.” Rose encouraged.
“I’ll buy us some time,” Jack walked toward what looked to be a manager by the annoyed expression on the gray-haired man’s wrinkled face.
“My transmat was hijacked,” Terrance, now back in human form, pulled out a handkerchief, wiping his formerly furry plump face. I landed in a dwelling and was attacked by stone creatures.”
“The stone angels,” Rose’s voice quieted and she exchanged a worried look with the Doctor. “Yeah had a bit of a run in ourselves. So, they sent you back here and you been hiding. How long?” she asked
“Two hundred sssssollar cycles.” Terrance dropped his shoulders, tears glistening in his eyes.
“I’m so sorry,” Rose gravitated toward him, rubbing circles on his back.
The Doctor bristled at the contact but softened at how Rose offered comfort. She’d done the same for him. Any lost or broken alien or time agent seemed to be her specialty.
They heard Jack’s voice growing louder.
“I don’t know what she saw. Terrance was just selling us some of your fine furniture like this dressing screen.”
“Your move, Terrance. Don’t blow it,” the Doctor warned as Terrance, in his best skivvy sales man persona, marched out to smooth talk the manager. The Doctor and Rose followed him arm in arm.
“Thank you, Terrance. We couldn’t have made decision without you,” Rose crooned, smiling brightly. “Right, sweetheart?” She bumped her hip against the Doctor’s.
The Doctor’s brain seemed to suffer a meltdown at Rose’s fluttering eyes and endearment.
“Love, we really need to finish up with Terrance.” She added, heat from her gentle pat racing up his arm. He focused on needy aliens and not himself which took approximately half his impressive brain to accomplish.
“Terrance, we’ve got a deal yeah?” He directed a bit more than standard menace at Terrance who smiled even though he trembled ever so slightly.
The manager looked between all of them, harrumphed and returned to the hysterical woman who everyone helped to a chair.
“And Terrance,” The Doctor’s voice resonated far more than anything he soniced. “Stay out of trouble and we’ll get you home.”
“Our ride is supposed to be here at some point. Soon I hope,” Rose assured with heaved sigh.
“In the meantime,” Jack smoothly inserted. “Terrance is our new best friend and gonna help us the way we’ve helped him.” Jack swept a relieved Terrance away while Rose rested her head on the Doctor’s shoulder.
“No aliens huh?”
“Are you having at me for missing one dodgy alien in thrift shop?”
A soft laugh bubbled up followed by a blush as Rose, laced her fingers with his.
“I suppose it was only a matter of time. Not like we can stay out of trouble for long. Trouble magnet you are.”
“I’m not the one who picked the shop,” he teased back. Amused as she was, her face fell as she stared toward the jingle of the shop door.
“How many more do you think there are?” Rose’s voice strained and her grip tightened on him.
“I doubt we’ll run into hordes of aliens in this area of London. It’s not like there’s much to draw them to a working-class residential neighborhood.”
“No.” Rose moved around to face him, her fingers toyed with his leather lapels. “I mean how many more did the angels get and send back? How many lives have they taken?”
Of course, she’d care about the victims of carnivorous time line eating aliens. She should be worried about herself, wasting her precious life here instead of home with her mum building a real life.
“Doctor.” Her hand cupped his cheek. “I know you worry about me. But I worry about you too and anyone else who gets stuck here. Can we help more than Terrance?”
“Terrance isn’t part of fixed events. No reapers for taking him home. Won’t be the same for everyone and especially not Billy Shipton. He may not be here yet but his time line is set.”
“Because of the notes in the book Sally gave us. Because he builds a life here, helps us get home and Sally met him in the future. Doesn’t seem fair.”
“I’m sorry.” Two words drove an icy pick of truth into his hearts. It wasn’t fair that a brave human would sacrifice so much for them to regain their lives. The universe had a twisted logic and sense of right and wrong. Just look at his life.
The resulting body against body hug eased his conscious. Wrapping himself around her he didn’t care who saw them, or that they stood in dingy shop filled with tattered furniture and questionable customers.
“Not that I’m not enjoying this very heart-warming display which I’m happy to join--” Jack walked up wrapping his arms around both of them. “But it’d be best if we get out of here before we draw any more attention.” The Doctor eyed the man behind the thick rimmed glasses who watched them earlier as said suspicious man examined a nearby candelabra.
“This place is more a cash and carry,” Jack continued. “And honestly, we want that. Better to not draw attention to where we live.”
“Right,” Rose nodded her head and turned away nervously tugging at her short skirt. “You get the sofa and mirror.” She paused looked up at the Doctor who again stared at the too observant shopper until the man moved to the opposite side of the store.
“Why the mirror?” Rose asked. The Doctor shifted his feet, hands shoved in his pockets. “Doctor?”
“You were having trouble in the mornings with the tiny bathroom mirror,” he finally revealed, fighting off the first twinge of heat to his cheeks.
Suddenly, he had an arm full of blond companion.
“Thank you,” she murmured into his neck before brushing a quick kiss on his chin, wiping off smudged lipstick with her thumb until the Doctor decided he rather liked the color. Rose cleared her throat rubbed her palms on her hips.
“I’ll just get the lava lamp and navigate us home.” She backed away, giving him a secret smile, the kind that left his hearts racing, as she went to pick up the lamp.
“I’ll follow you anywhere sweetheart,” Jack promised, destroying the fog that had descended over the Doctor’s senses.
Home, he rather liked how Rose said that. Jack tested lifting one end of the sofa as Terrance cleared a path for them. The Doctor already calculated the weight, best carrying position and angle to get it out the door.
“Right, this way boys,” Rose announced, lamp cradled and walked toward the now open doorway. Uplifted by the swivel of her hips, the Doctor barely heard Jack.
“Which end do you like?” Typical Harkness innuendo.
“Just grab the front and don’t drop it. I’ll keep an eye on Rose.” As of the Doctor would trust anyone else with that task.
“Not going to complain about my view.” Jack hefted up his end ready to walk backwards out the door. The Doctor easily lifted his end with a giddiness he didn’t have when they walked into this shop.
Positives of the day: Rose was happy. He got to watch her walk ahead of them swinging her hips, sunlight bathing her in almost unnatural glow. And then there was Jack who proved why the Doctor was the superior time traveler as Jack huffed and needed breaks.
Pedestrians grumbled and complained walking around the trio of furniture movers.
None of it bothered the Doctor. This trip wasn’t turning out as bad as he thought. Lost the TARDIS but he had a plan to get her back. Aliens in London. Solved. And domestics, well funny thing, he was growing quite fond of domestics with Rose. Especially when she petted his new lava lamp which he dubbed Fred.