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Metabolic Efficiency

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Time Lords cannot get drunk.

   This is a fact. Alcohol is, when you get right down to it, a toxin, and Time Lords are very efficient at metabolizing toxins, so long as they are not in deadly quantities. For a Time Lord, therefore, there is no space whatsoever between stone-cold sober and alcohol poisoning.

   Human-Time Lord Meta-crises, on the other hand, have slightly less efficient metabolisms when it comes to mild toxins. It is quite possible – as the Doctor was discovering, though he could no longer remember whether it was the result of a bet or a dare or if he had just been curious – for a Human-Time Lord Meta-crisis to get drunk. There is, however, a very, very thin line between ‘pleasantly buzzed’ and ‘completely smashed.’

   That was another thing the Doctor was discovering, with Jake’s enthusiastic assistance.

   It was also something Rose discovered, when she returned home from her mother-daughter outing at midnight to find that Jake’s idea of ‘just a bit of a party’ was three dozen people and enough beer to supply all of Manchester for a football game, all stuffed into her sitting room.

   Rose couldn’t decide whether to be amused or furious as the Doctor stumbled over to her, grinning even more giddily than usual, apparently oblivious to the beer which was slopping over his hand on onto the carpet.

   “Rose Tyler!” he declared happily, reaching for her hand and missing by a few inches.

   “Doctor,” Rose returned, deciding to go with amused for now. The stag party had not, after all, been his idea, and she supposed that excessive amounts of alcohol in her – their – sitting room was not anywhere near the worst that could have happened. At least there weren’t any half-naked women. Or trans-dimensional portals, which were probably more likely where the Doctor was involved.

   “Do you know how much I love you, Rose Tyler?” asked the Doctor, finally managing to wrap his fumbling fingers around hers.

   “How much do you love me, Doctor?” inquired Rose, smiling indulgently as Jake snickered behind her.

   “I love you more than the Universe,” the Doctor stated. Rose felt her smile falter, but he didn’t notice, and continued earnestly. “I love you more than travelling and running and the TARDIS. I love you so much that I almost let the Earth be destroyed to save you. Twice! No, three times. Depends how you count it.”

  He slumped, and Rose suddenly found herself supporting most of a very tall, bony meta-crisis. Thankfully, there was a small sofa nearby, which she sank both of them onto, while Jake helpfully removed the plastic cup from the Doctor’s hand. The Doctor was still partly leaning against her, his arm loosely wrapped around her waist, his head nestled between her ear and shoulder.

   “He can’t seem to decide what sort of drunk he is,” Jake informed her. “He’ll be all giggly for about ten minutes, then the next thing you know he’s gone maudlin, talking about Daleks and the nature of Time and quoting poetry and shit.”

   “When I said that you could throw him a party, I didn’t mean get him wasted!” hissed Rose, glaring at Jake. Him, she could be furious at – he wasn’t declaring his undying love for her and making ridiculous but somewhat adorable mewing sounds as he nuzzled her shoulder. “We’re lucky he hasn’t torn any holes in the Universe.”

   “I kept him away from the appliances,” said Jake, holding up his hands defensively. “Give me a bit of credit.”

   “Rose?” said the Doctor softly, suddenly still and quiet.

   “Yes, Doctor?”

   “You cry, sometimes.”

   Rose stiffened, and glared pointedly at Jake. He took his cue, and began herding the guests towards the door.

   “Yes, I do,” she said gently, reaching up to stroke the Doctor’s hair and forcing herself to relax. She wasn’t surprised that he knew, despite the fact that she had tried to be discrete about it. She loved him, and the rest of this life, she really, really did, and if she had to do it again she wouldn’t change a thing – well, she might have given the Time Lord Doctor a more proper goodbye, but besides that – but it still hurt, sometimes, knowing that this wasn’t quite her world and that the other Doctor was still out there somewhere, alone.

   “I think that’s my fault,” her Doctor said, sounding contrite but also somewhat confused, as if his default setting was to assume that he had done something wrong but he couldn’t quite figure out what, this time.

   “No,” said Rose firmly. “It’s nobody’s fault. The Universe is just unfair, sometimes.”

   “Yeah,” agreed the Doctor, with such a deep, tired sadness that Rose wanted to cry.

   “C’mon,” she said instead, shifting his arm so it was around her shoulders and hefting him out of the chair. “Let’s get you to bed, before I have to carry you there.”

   She maneuvered him down the hallway and to their bedroom, only almost falling over twice. She sat him on the bed, told him firmly to get changed into his pajamas, and returned to the sitting room to catch Jake before he could flee and inform him in no uncertain terms that this party had been his idea, so he could clean up the mess tomorrow.

   She returned to the sound of the Doctor’s retching. At least he made it to the bathroom, she thought, and she rubbed his back and helped him rinse out his mouth. He had gotten halfway done undressing, shirtless but still wearing his trousers, belt, and one sock.

   “I think I’m drunk,” he commented, when she sat down beside him on the bed and began to undo his belt.

   “Think you are, yeah,” she answered, tugging his trousers off. There was silence for a few moments, in which she extracted his pajamas from their dresser.

   “Time Lords don’t get drunk,” he stated thoughtfully, he obediently pulled on the jimjams which she handed him. “I can only get drunk ‘cause I’m a two-way . . . somthin’ . . . bio-meta . . .  . ‘Cause I grew out of a hand.”

   “Is that so?” she asked evenly, pulling on the over-sized T-shirt which served as her nightclothes.

   “Uh-hu.” He was quiet for a few minutes, while she tucked him into bed, turned off the light, and slid into bed beside him. She almost thought he had fallen asleep, and was just dozing off herself when, out of the darkness, in tones of shocked revelation, “I grew out of a hand!” – and he burst into hysterical giggles. “That’s funny,” he stated matter-of-factly, once he stopped giggling.

   Rose sighed.



   “You know I love you.”

   “Yes. I love you too,” he added quickly, as if afraid she’d forget.

   “I know,” she said, not deciding not to mention that that was why they were getting married in two days, considering that it would probably set him rambling again and anyway, they were mostly getting married so that people would stop asking them if they had set a date. “But Doctor, you are very, very drunk.”

   “Yes,” he agreed. “Because I grew out of a hand.” He giggled again.

   “And I am very, very tired.”

   “You should sleep,” he suggested helpfully. Rose drew in a deep breath, let it out through her nose, reminded herself that he really couldn’t be blamed for not being able to hold his alcohol considering that he’d never had to worry about that kind of thing before, and resisted the urge to strangle her fiancé two days before their wedding.

   “Yes, Doctor,” she said, with forced calm. “We should both sleep.”

   “Oh. Oh. Okay. Goodnight, Rose.”

   “Goodnight, Doctor.”

   Blessed silence.

   Then . . .


   “Go to sleep, Doctor.”

   “Sorry.” There was movement on his side of the bed, and a moment later he was spooned up against her back, his breath tickling her ear in a way which was not entirely unpleasant . . . and smelling like a pub on a Saturday night. “But, Rose?”

   “Yes, Doctor?” she sighed. One of his hands slid under her shirt, coming to rest against the bare skin of her stomach.

   “I love you.” His voice was soft, but deep and rough with emotion, and it sent a delicious little shiver down Rose’s body.

   “I love you, too,” she said, laying her hand over his. Long and elegant and cool against her skin; strong and beautiful and fragile . . . .

   He began to snore gently in her ear.

   Rose gave a soft snort of amusement and fond exasperation, snuggled back into the Doctor, and closed her eyes.

   In the morning, she decided, he could deal with his own hangover.