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Doctor Who Fic Fest
Fic: Tango 
31st-Aug-2006 09:25 pm
Title: Tango
Author: paranoidangel
Rating: PG
Request: aervir: Some plotty gen (maybe with OT3 UST) featuring Nine, Rose and Jack in a Victorian gothic story (à la Ghost Light, Tooth and Claw, Pyramids of Mars or The Talons of Weng Chang). Or at least an atmospheric Victoriana ficlet with hints of plot.

Well, I tried. There is a hint of plot in there if you look carefully. And for atmospheric read rainy. And it is within the (extended) deadline, which must count for something.

"How 'bout this one, Doctor?" Rose asked as she struck a pose in the doorway of the console room. When he looked up at her she twirled round, showing off her outfit to maximum effect. She was particularly pleased with the way the vivid blue skirt billowed out around her as she spun.

Jack came up behind her, although not too close, as the skirt settled once more. She might have laughed at his pose - on anyone else it would look a bit girly. Jack, though, could get away with that sort of thing.

The Doctor pointed at them with the sonic screwdriver. "1950s Earth," he said, "and Jack's is two decades later."

Rose groaned. They had been playing this game for a few outfits and the Doctor had got them all correct. It was getting annoying now. You would think with the size of his wardrobe (it took up an entire room, for goodness sake!) he would have at least forgotten when some of them were from.

"I've seen Grease, you can't fool me." The Doctor grinned.

"So have I," Jack said. "Good movie. Although it's a pity you don't have anything like that cat suit Sandy wears at the end." He looked her up and down as he said it.

Rose laughed and hit him. "It looks better on you." The black biker's leathers he wore were indeed very tight fitting. She had to admit he looked good in them, though. Mind you, Jack either had a good body or a good eye for clothes, or most probably both.

"We must try harder," Jack said, "come on Rose."

She waved at the Doctor - it seemed the right kind of mood for it - and followed Jack back to the wardrobe room. Jack had been impressed when he first saw the size of it and the number and variety of clothes it contained. Rose soon discovered he was willing to take time to go through it with her, explaining which era of history they came from. Although she had to concede, half of the time she had no way of knowing if he was right. When it came to clothes from her future or from other planets she had to trust Jack's word on when they were in fashion. In the case of some of them she really could not understand why. She was surprised, though, to find that so many other planets had discovered jeans.

When she emerged from behind a handy rail of clothes she found Jack standing disturbingly close, for which she gave him a look.

He folded his arms and grinned at her. "You really should wear a corset under that."

Rose mimicked his stance and raised one eyebrow. She wanted to know how he knew she wasn't wearing a corset under the long dress she had found. She wasn't going to ask, though, mostly because she wasn't quite sure she wanted to hear his answer.

Jack, at least, got the hint and offered her his arm like the gentleman he was dressed up as - complete with top hat.

When they presented themselves for the Doctor's inspection he guessed immediately, unsurprisingly.

"Victorian England," he said, "Perfect!"

Rose beamed and tried a curtsy. "Why thank you, kind sir," she said, in her best upper-class accent, which really wasn't that good given the wince Jack gave at it.

"Actually, I just meant you've picked out the right clothes this time. If you'd like to step this way lady and gentleman." He opened the TARDIS doors with a touch on the console and motioned with his arm to indicate the way outside.

Rose sighed but did as he requested.

Jack let go of her arm before he was pulled along outside with her. "Aren't you getting changed too?" he asked the Doctor.

"Why, is there something wrong with what I'm wearing?" The Doctor looked down at his attire with a frown.

Rose had already tried this more than once before and had long since given up attempting to get the Doctor to fit the era. Mostly, it seemed to be the other way round.

"I could just see you dressed as a butler," Jack said, his head on one side and a glint in his eye.

Rose shook her head and stepped outside to leave them to it. It was, to her limited knowledge, definitely Victorian England. They had landed not far from what was probably a road, given that as she watched a horse and carriage went past her at great speed. Apart from that there didn't seem to be many people around and it was actually a little disappointing. She turned and shouted behind her, "Come on, you two!"

The Doctor and Jack, still squabbling over the Doctor's choice of clothing, at least managed to step out of the TARDIS. Rose tuned them out and took advantage of their inattention to make the decision as to them which direction they should go in, although she did not really know where would be best so headed out pretty much randomly.

The reason for the lack of people about soon became apparent when thunder rumbled overhead. Rose looked up to see big black clouds overhead. She did think it was odd, though, that everything stopped for a thunderstorm when it didn't at home.

Very quickly it started to rain and a small drizzle soon turned into a downpour as they headed down the road.

"There must be a pub here somewhere," Rose suggested.

"Victorian pubs, not really a place for a lady," the Doctor said.

Rose didn't really care that much at this point. The dress she wore seemed to soak up the rain and it was getting heavier with every step.

Jack, at least, had taken the initiative and banged on a nearby door. Rose didn't seriously think he would get anyone to let them in but she had underestimated his charm and they were soon in a warm house drying out by the fire. She couldn't help noticing how Mrs West (although she was Eileen to Jack) kept smiling at Jack. She looked to be about her mother’s age, if not older, but since species differences never seemed to bother him, she imagined age gaps were unlikely to either.

The Doctor showed no signs of being bothered by being wet and was examining the knick-knacks on the mantelpiece instead.

"Where is everyone today?" he asked as Rose tried to get her hair dry.

"It's the thunderstorm," Mrs West said.

"But that's not exactly unusual," Rose said, "it's not as if England stops for rain."

"Just as well!" Jack put in but Rose ignored him.

"You're not from round here, are you?"

"We're travellers, just passing through," said the Doctor.

Mr West unexpectedly made an appearance in the room and joined the conversation. "I would leave soon, then."

At that point Jack decided to give Mrs West a big smile, although when Rose looked in the same direction he was, she wondered if it wasn't aimed at Mr West instead. It didn't matter though, because the effect was an offer of dinner and somehow Rose managed to have been volunteered to help, it being the maid's day off, apparently. Mr West's statement seemingly having being forgotten by everyone except Rose, who agreed whole-heartedly and wished they could just leave and go back to the TARDIS before the Doctor got them into trouble.

However, Mrs West seemed to think they all needed a four course banquet, so there was plenty of cooking to do and Rose was kept busy. She just hoped that the Doctor was keeping Jack out of trouble in the meantime. Although equally, Jack needed to prevent the Doctor from offending someone too.

After what seemed like hours spent in the kitchen hearing Mrs West's entire life story (which really wasn't that exciting, or that long, Victorian women not really having that much choice in, well, anything much) she was eventually demoted to waitress. It didn't help that Rose hadn't really been able to tell Mrs West much about herself for fear of it not making sense in this time. And it wasn’t her fault that she didn’t understand how most of it was supposed to work - usually she just put something in the microwave, so an open fire was a bit tricky for her to master in comparison.

On one of her trips between the kitchen and dining room Rose saw Jack and Mr West standing suspiciously close to each other in the hallway. She couldn't stop, though, because the dish she carried was hot and heavy. By the time she came back the scene was one of perfect innocence and Rose settled for giving Jack a look. He just grinned back.

Jack was, of course, free to do what he liked with whom he liked. Just because he was travelling with her and the Doctor didn't mean he had to display any sort of loyalty to them as far as his sex life was concerned. But it was a different matter altogether when he was putting himself in the middle of someone's marriage (from whichever side it was) and Rose really wished he wouldn't.

Consequently, she felt a bit out of things during dinner, especially as both Mr and Mrs West were keener to talk to Jack. The Doctor didn't seem to notice and was quite happy dropping in comments and distracting the couple from vying over Jack. There was nothing else Rose wanted to ask, after her time spent preparing the food, and there were no observations she really felt qualified to offer, either. She spent most of the meal wishing they weren't here at all and wondering how soon they could return to the TARDIS without it seeming rude.

She briefly toyed with the notion of imagining what her life would be like if it was just her and Jack. She decided it would probably be a whole lot less dangerous but more boring because Jack was too easily distracted by a pretty face (or any face at all, really). The Doctor's diversions were at least interesting, if often near-death experiences.

The rain never to let up all through the hours dinner seemed to last and Mrs West offered all three of them beds for the night - the house being big enough for each of them to have their own room. Rose wasn't entirely thrilled with the idea - she was missing the luxuries of home already - but the Doctor and Jack both seemed overjoyed at the suggestion and she gave up before she even said anything in protest.

She'd just about managed to get dressed for bed - which seemed to involve covering more of herself than on an average day at home, when she heard the Doctor shouting and somewhere in there was Jack's name. Wanting to know what he'd done now, she headed out to see what all the noise was about. Upon reaching Jack's room the scene that confronted her consisted of Jack, naked, standing in the middle of the room; Mr West in the bed, presumably just as undressed, although since he had the covers pulled up practically to his neck it was hard to tell; and the Doctor, still fully dressed, standing in the doorway, arms folded. Rose tried not to look at Jack, but it was difficult, and besides, he never really cared who saw him.

What Jack had been doing was immediately obvious.

"It's not like I forced him," Jack was saying. "He practically jumped me."

"What, when he's already married to Mrs West?" Rose asked.

"Especially because he's married to Mrs West."

"You seemed quite happy to flirt with her," the Doctor put in.

Jack just shrugged. Rose had to turn away from the scene in front of her for a moment. Jack had a way of making people feel special when he turned on the charm. And he'd certainly made her feel that way when they first met. She'd found it funny when he seemed to flirt with everyone he met - it seemed like he couldn't help it. But flirting with someone he didn't actually like that much made her wonder just what he felt about her and the Doctor.

"It's this culture," Jack was saying behind her, "it's so repressed and made to believe homosexuality is wrong. What do you think is going to happen?"

"Well you don't exactly help," the Doctor replied.

Mr West was staying silent on this topic, and it did rather seem to be the Doctor and Jack's argument. Rose was just wondering where Mrs West was and if she was staying away when she spotted the edge of her around the corner, eavesdropping. Rose decided to leave the men to it and went over to her.

"I'm sorry," she said. "If we hadn't come..."

"It's not your fault. I always suspected but I never could pluck up the courage to ask him outright."

"What are you going to do?"

"Oh, it's too late now. The time for me to have children is long since past. There's no point in leaving him and creating a scandal."

"But if you're not happy with him..."

Mrs West looked at Rose as if she were a child. "It's not a question of happiness, it's my duty to be loyal to my husband. If anyone else ever suspects I will always deny everything. That's how it is." She sighed. "But at least now I know where the weather is coming from. We’ll have to leave here and move again…"

Rose was utterly confused by this but before she could ask anything she saw Mrs West look up and to the side. Rose turned to see that during their conversation the Doctor and Jack's argument had finished and she hadn't noticed. It was the Doctor who had come up behind her.

"Get changed, Rose," he said, "we're going."

She might have complained about having to leave in the middle of the night, even though the rain had stopped, but this didn't really seem to be the time.

The clothes she'd been wearing when she stepped out of the TARDIS earlier in the day were now merely damp so she put those back on, rather than take an outfit that wasn't hers. It seemed unlikely they'd ever be back to return them. The Doctor had never quite managed to change his clothes, claiming he really wasn't that wet but Jack was at least now wearing something, which was an improvement.

Rose said goodbye to Mrs West, which was cordial enough. She was still worried about the older woman but she seemed to be so stubborn that nothing Rose could say would be likely to make any difference. And Rose wasn't sure that rocking her world would help her that much. Not that the Doctor was going to give her a chance to anyway, for he hustled Jack out of the door before he could say anything to anyone, although in his defence he didn't look like he was about to.

The walk back was in silence. It was pitch-black out and the Doctor pulled a big torch from inside his jacket pocket, although how it fitted in there, Rose couldn't say. As she shivered she looked forward to getting back to the TARDIS more and more. Jack noticed though and took off his heavy coat, draping it round her shoulders. She smiled at him and he put an arm round her, sharing the warmth. The Doctor pretended not to notice and walked on ahead.

Rose knew she was going to have to do something about this situation because otherwise the atmosphere was unbearable and the last thing she wanted was for Jack to be made to leave. Not least because it probably wouldn't really do that much about the tension in the end.

When at last they reached the TARDIS, the Doctor turned round and scowled at them before they could get far into the control room.

Rose spoke before he could. "Are you jealous? Is that why you're so upset?"

"Don't be ridiculous, Rose."

"So what is it then?"

"Jack insulted our hosts. We were supposed to be there to enjoy a nice bit of Victorian England but there's always one who has to spoil it for everyone else."

"Oh, because you've never insulted anyone. Like my mother for instance."

"At least I never slept with her."

"You can hardly blame that on Jack. It does take two to tango. I assume you know that one!"

"I'm sorry," Jack said when the Doctor paused at Rose's words. "I swear I didn't cause the problems in that household. I just brought them out in the open."

"For all the good it did Mrs West," Rose said.

"You can't force her to do something she doesn't want to," the Doctor said, more calm now.

"I know," Rose conceded. Something she had learned on her travels with the Doctor was that she was really glad she didn't live in an earlier time. She would hate not to have the options available to her in the 21st century.

"For what it's worth," Jack said, "I'm sorry. I'll understand if you want me to leave."

"No!" Rose said. "I mean, I don't want you to go."

Jack smiled at her. Even with what she had heard earlier tonight, he could still make her feel special, just with a look.

"You can stay," the Doctor said, "as long as you stay out of trouble."

"I'll do my best," Jack said, walking up close to the Doctor and smiling at him. "And if you ever need someone to teach you to tango, you know where I am."

Rose knew everything was going to be all right in the end because she saw the Doctor grin.
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