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DW: Lapsang Souchong (Rose & the Doctor)

wendymyr and dark_aegis organized the Rose Tyler Ficathon. I was assigned solielle, who wanted good tea, ancient history, and much teasing of the Doctor.

Title: Lapsang Souchong
Author: voleuse
Fandom: Doctor Who
Characters: Rose & the Doctor
Rating: G
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Summary: Many a hero did it yield a prey to dogs and vultures.
Notes: S1, no spoilers

The Doctor, in his quieter moments, does a lot of staring.

He almost never stares at her, of course. Rose would have remarked on it, and then he would have grinned and distracted her with run of words that would leave her head spinning. Then they'd be off again, to some disaster or another. The end of the war, or the beginning of one. Sometimes even the middle.

The Doctor stares, Rose notices, beyond wherever they're standing. He sees things she can't, and never has.

It's uncanny to step into that field of non-perception. It makes a shiver run over her elbows, and it makes her grit her teeth into a smile. She tries to avoid it, but sometimes he goes on too long.

Rose has found, in these cases, it's best to ask something blank. A question about something she might already know, like about Woodstock, or 1066. The Doctor blinks at those questions, and that's when he remembers her.

It's only when they're ankle-deep in mud and noise that he ever catches on to her act.


After Rose makes a broad remark about the excellence of her mother's tea, the Doctor transports them to a city at the edge of a mountain range. He takes her elbow and leads her into a ramshackle neighborhood, to a rickety-looking house, freshly painted.

"Where are we?" she thinks to ask, after staring about for a while.

"China," he replies, and swings a side gate open. "A few years ago."

They step through the gate into a garden. There are three low tables there, and they seat themselves at the nearest one.

"Why a few years ago?" Rose wonders.

"Climate." The Doctor waves at a woman peering out at them from the house. "Rainfall, sunlight. It created the optimal growth for both tea leaves and pine trees. It's not a common combination. And we get the best of the crop here."

"In China?"

"Yes. Specifically," he gestures to include the garden, "here."

A girl, maybe ten or twelve, approaches them. She looks first, expectant, at Rose.

"Oh. Um." Rose shrugs. "I'll have whatever he orders, thanks."

The Doctor smiles and reels off a list of things, and the girl doesn't take a note, but rushes back to the house.

"It's weird," Rose observes. "I'm talking English, but she hears Chinese, yeah?"


"How do I sound, talking in another language?"

"Your accent is horrible."

Rose starts to scoff, but the girl brings out a tray holding a small, steaming teapot and two cups. She sets a cup in front of each of them, then pours the fragrant, dark liquid for them before departing.

"Pretty," Rose says.

The Doctor picks up his cup with something like reverence. He takes a deep breath of the steam and closes his eyes.

Rose lifts her own cup and takes a careful sip. It scalds, but tastes rich and bitter. "No sugar?"

"Sugar?" The Doctor opens his eyes and scowls. "Bite your tongue, Rose."

She waits a few more moments, burns her tongue on the tea again. Then she asks, "Do you think we could get these to carry out?"

Horror washes over the Doctor's face. Until, of course, he notices the way Rose is biting her lip.

"You," he says with playful venom. "Drink your tea."

She raises her cup in a silent toast, and the liquid sloshes over the rim, onto the table.

The sound he makes does not quite equate to a curse, but it comes close.


The second-best place for tea is a fast-food joint seven galaxies over, seventeen hundred years in the future.

They, Rose points out, do have handy paper cups available.

The Doctor does not dignify her comment with a response.


When she asks about the third place, the Doctor gets a weird look in his eyes. He doesn't explain, he just punches a few buttons on the TARDIS console.

They step out of the TARDIS and onto a cliff overlooking the ocean. There are no buildings around them, only a couple of fishing boats on the horizon.

"Turkey," the Doctor answers into the vast silence. "Your present day."

"And the tea?"

"The third best place to find tea was in Troy, just before the height of its power."

Rose blinks. "Troy? Like that movie with Brad Pitt and Orlando--"

The Doctor makes a strangled noise. She laughs.

"Troy," he says, eyes narrowed at her, "as in one of the greatest trading ports during Mycenean times."

Rose looks around the cliffside for something, anything. "There's nothing here."

"Not anymore, no."

"But didn't archaeologists find it?" She takes a few steps around. "There's supposed to be walls and stuff, all crumbled."

"Oh, yes." The Doctor grins, jabs his thumb northwards, up the coast. "They're excavating the wrong place. What they've found is a small suburb, actually. Still valuable, for the history and all."

"Ah." Rose taps her foot. "So why didn't we go back to when it was here? When we could have the tea?"

"Oh, no. I wouldn't bring you there."


"No." He shakes his head, and that weird look sweeps over his face again. "Cursed to its very bones, that city was. An unhappy place."

"Oh." Rose listens to the waves, to the wind. The Doctor is quiet beside her. "I bet they had tea for carry-out."

When the Doctor spins to walk back to the TARDIS, he makes a sound very similar to a "hmph."


A/N: Summary adapted from the first book of Homer's The Iliad, as translated by Samuel Butler. Lapsang souchong is an excellent tea, sometimes bitter; "an acquired taste."



( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 5th, 2006 04:34 pm (UTC)
Ooh, lovely! The tea-drinking, with Rose trying to disguise how much she dislikes it, is lovely and humorous, as is the Doctor's reaction to her lack of taste ;)

But what I really love about this is how well Rose already knows the Doctor. She understands his silences and what they mean, and she cares enough to want to find ways to shake him out of them, even if it means making herself look ignorant as a consequence. I love that about Rose and Nine's relationship; leave aside any subtext/romance, it's the fact that they do seem to understand each other and so much passes between them that's below the surface.

Thanks for taking part in the ficathon!
Nov. 26th, 2006 08:48 pm (UTC)
Yay! I'm thrilled you liked it.
Nov. 6th, 2006 07:10 pm (UTC)
Very enjoyable! It really shows what they bring to each other--he brings her experience and knowledge, she brings him light and laughter.
Nov. 26th, 2006 08:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it.
Nov. 7th, 2006 01:56 am (UTC)
Oh, I do love this. You've managed poignance and humor together, and of course, travelling through the galaxy for good tea. And of course you've got the two of them down perfectly. Thank you so much. It's beautiful.
Nov. 26th, 2006 08:51 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you liked it! Thanks!
Dec. 6th, 2006 10:27 pm (UTC)
Ooo! The finer aspects of high tea and Rose! You've made me very happy.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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