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Title: Spring Conditions
Fandom: Doctor Who
strange_charmed aka kilodalton
Characters: AU Ten/Rose
Summary: AU Ten/Rose. John Smith is desperate to impress Jeanne Poisson - the girl of his dreams - by learning to ski, but his ski lessons at an out-of-the-way ski lodge change things in ways he never could have expected..
inspired by a skiing AU prompt from kelkat9.
Rating: Teen

The rest of John’s week goes by in a blur. He buys a copy of SKI magazine on his way home from the university and devours every article in it, from detailed discussions of ski techniques, to reviews of resorts he hasn’t even heard of in the USA, and idly wonders if Rose has been to any of these far-off slopes. In fact, his entire week is inexplicably wrapped up in thoughts of skiing now, even more so than when he first decided to take lessons to impress Jeanne – he subscribes to a skiing newsletter, as well as a YouTube channel filled with tips for beginners. He finds he’s quickly throwing himself fully into the process of becoming a skier – he wants to make every moment count in his lessons. After all, he’s brilliant in absolutely everything else he does, why should skiing be any different? The fact that he’s taking lessons at all is still a secret to nearly everyone – but it’s his secret, and he cherishes it. It’s already become a bit of an escape for him, the one bit of adventure he has, and he wants to keep it that way.

He packs up and leaves work early on Friday to make the trek back up to Weardale, hoping that if he gets there early enough, he might even get another one of Wilf’s home-cooked meals, which certainly beats the leftover takeaway in his refrigerator. Nobody will miss him if he leaves early, anyway – Jeanne’s office is unfortunately now clear on the other side of campus, and the only students who regularly come to his office are Luke and Clyde, whom he can easily set up with their much-desired project this weekend.

Arriving at the B&B several hours later, John casually strides up to the entrance. The door chime jangles as he saunters in, and he immediately sees Rose and Wilf sitting on the carpet in the sitting room, boxes and packing popcorn surrounding them, the unmistakeable scent of freshly-opened cardboard and shrinkwrap filling the room. There’s a television on the carpet in front of them, and it’s turned around to face the wall with its electronics panel exposed on the back.

Rose looks up inquisitively at the door from her place on the floor, clearly not expecting anyone this early in the day. When she meets John’s eyes, her face instantly breaks into an impossibly big smile and she immediately rises, bounding over to greet him with a friendly wave. Wilf half turns around and gives John a smile and a cheery wave as well, but his attention is soon turned back to … whatever is currently captivating him.

“New telly?” John asks Rose as she arrives at his side. He nods at the boxes and electronic detritus still surrounding Wilf on the other side of the room.

Rose looks back over her shoulder towards her grandfather, who is still sitting on the carpet, reading glasses perched low on his nose and looking at what seems to be an instruction sheet.

“Sort of,” Rose shrugs. “New Sky box, just connecting it all up to the telly and satellite before the guests arrive. Well, most of the guests,” she says with a small, almost self-conscious giggle, looking up at him with a raise of her eyebrows.

He grins cheekily back at her and she smiles up at him, biting her lip.

“Can I … can I get you something to drink?” she asks. “Tea … or beer, or I think we have some cider still, I was going to drive to the store a little later, but if you want I can –“ her voice trails off.

He shakes his head, eyes fixed on Wilf, who is sitting on the floor, muttering something under his breath.

“Problem, Wilf?” John asks, striding over to the older man, hands in his pockets.

“These companies nowadays,” Wilf says, putting down the sheet of paper, shaking his head and flipping through the packaging like he’s looking for something. “Seems to be a missing piece here, or the cable’s the wrong kind! Supposed to be full installation, they just drop off the box and leave!”

John plops to the floor unceremoniously beside Wilf and sits cross-legged on the carpet. He’s only too glad for an opportunity to help out the older man, who went out of his way for John last week at breakfast. And, to be honest, John loves being a bit impressive with his knowledge of electronics, particularly with his new acquaintances as an audience. He whips his glasses out of his pocket in order to see the tiny threads on the cable better.

“It’s the wrong type of connector,” John says decisively, holding it up in his hand as Wilf and Rose nod in silent agreement, seeming slightly underwhelmed by his proclamation – that much, they’d clearly gathered on their own. “Is this the only thing they gave you?”
Wilf nods in silent assent.

“Well, easy enough fix, back in a ‘mo,” John says with a shrug, quickly rising to his feet.

Wilf opens his mouth to protest, but soon Rose is at her grandfather’s side, whispering something into his ear and gently patting the back of the older man’s armchair, motioning for him to sit down.

John jogs out to his car, opens the boot and grabs a wire with a coaxial coupler (mercifully he notices it has the RG6 connection he’s looking for, a convenience that will save him a lot of time), a pair of side cutters, and a sautering iron, just in case. He comes back into the house and wordlessly sits cross-legged on the floor again, prying off the casing from the cable Wilf had been holding. He makes a series of small incisions into the coating of the wire, pulling it away and carefully peeling down the delicate copper braiding inside. He does the same with his own coaxial cable, before delicately prying the metal coupler off his own wire, and gently transferring the metal unit to touch the copper braiding on Wilf’s Sky box.

Wilf takes a seat in his favorite brown chair, leaning back and watching John at work.

“You seem quite handy, there,” says Wilf with a smile.

John shrugs nonchalantly – he’s proud to be skilled, of course he is – but this truly feels like the least he can do to help Wilf and Rose, who have been so kind to him.

“Grew up building my own electronics – built my own robot when I was fifteen,” he says proudly. “It was a little dog …” he trails off, lost for a moment in nostalgia.

“Anyway,” he says with a sniff, “I still like to tinker, I suppose. Works out well. Can’t get the university to replace hardly any equipment in our labs, so I upgrade most of it myself. It’s a hobby … built my own car, even.”

He looks over at Rose and finds her still looking at him, a thoughtful smile on her face, and he grins back at her.

The entire process takes under five minutes, and soon the telly and Sky box are connected and plugged in with John’s new connectors. Wilf reaches for his remote control to power them on, and the telly flares to life. John smiles graciously as Wilf thanks him, then his eyes flick to Rose. She holds his gaze, giving him a small smile, and his own grows bigger in response. They stay like that – not in awkward silence, rather a comfortable one – for several moments until Wilf’s voice breaks through.

“Need your key?”

John quickly turns around to face Wilf again, nodding yes.

Several minutes later, as John ascends the steps with his duffel bag in one hand and his Ski + Rock bag full of his ski attire in the other, Rose comes to stand at the bottom of stairs and softly clears her throat.

“I was going to head out … did you still want to see Weardale? I’ve got to go to the general store anyway. If you’re not too tired of driving, I was thinking we could take the snowmobile into town. There’s a pub that’s open for dinner if you’re hungry,” she says, then stops, her eyes a little hesitant, until his face breaks into a grin, then she smiles back, almost in relief.

“Sounds brilliant! Never been on a snowmobile before,” he says, taking the stairs two by two with new enthusiasm to drop his bags off before coming back downstairs to join her. Sure, he’d been originally planning on staying here for some of Wilf’s cooking – but a ride on a snowmobile sounds fantastic. And he did want to see Weardale, his interest piqued from the memorabilia downstairs – Rose’s company would make that exploration even more insightful.

When he returns, she’s standing at the door, zipping up her pink ski jacket, and gives him yet another brilliant grin.

“Have fun, you two!” Wilf calls. “And Rose, don’t you dare sucker that poor boy at darts!”

Rose laughs, walking over to Wilf, smoothing his white hair back and kissing him on the forehead.

“G’nite gramps, and thanks,” she says, giving him a fond smile as she turns on her heel and heads out the door with John.

Wilf smiles for a moment after them as the door closes, then wriggles back in his easy chair for comfort, turns on the telly, and tries out his new Sky satellite box.


The snowmobile is parked out front – a midnight blue contraption that looks to him like a riding lawnmower on skis. Not that he’s even ridden on one of those, mind, living in the heart of the city and all. As she pulls on the clutch to start it, he thinks that it sounds just like a riding lawnmower too. Ingenious invention, this, and he makes a note to himself to learn more about it. Rose reaches in to a compartment behind the main seat and pulls out two helmets – she tosses him a white one (which he grudgingly puts on, swallowing an apology to his hair) and puts the pink one on herself as she sits astride the snowmobile.

“Coming, then?” she smiles.

He swallows. He awkwardly straddles the snowmobile, sitting behind her, placing his arms tightly around her waist for support as the machine’s engine roars beneath them. All of a sudden, they’re off in a fast gust of snow and wind that cocoons their little snowmobile in a tiny cloud of misty frost and icy pebbles.

Somehow, thankfully, Rose can see exactly where she’s going. At least, he hopes she can. She cuts a path through the trees, and soon they’re on a well-worn, snow-covered trail. It’s a thin trail, too narrow for his comfort, and is flanked on both sides by trees – conifers reaching out towards them with their stinging branches, and deciduous trees with their empty, leafless trunks leaning in their direction. They’re driving fast, the low tree branches whipping over their heads like tiny wooden swords, and he leans down a little more closely into Rose. His heart is in his stomach and it’s wonderful, but terrifying.

Soon – almost too soon – Rose reaches an open field, and they head towards a cluster of several buildings. She pulls up in front of one of them, an old stone building with a wood-shingled roof, that already has several other snowmobiles and lorries parked outside. She comes to a stop gently, idles the snowmobile and removes her helmet.

She tosses her hair and he muses that her smile is brighter than the sun.

“So? Whaddaya think?” she says, her eyes playful.

He steps off the snowmobile, and his legs suddenly feel like jelly.

“Oh it was lovely …” he says, trying to not stumble over his feet, as well as over his words. “This is Weardale, I take it?”

She nods.

“This is Stout Point, it’s the local restaurant and pub,” she says, pointing at the building in front of them, and he doesn’t miss the way she says it’s the restaurant, and not one of the restaurants. “General store is down the street along with the post office and a few shops. There’s even a local mining museum, but it’s only open in the summer.”

He nods, gazing briefly at his surroundings as she puts their helmets back in the snowmobile’s center compartment and heads towards the door of Stout Point. He runs a hand through his hair reflexively and lopes behind her to catch up.

He’s not sure what he’s expecting as he heads inside – being the only local restaurant, he’s certainly not expecting it to be particularly nice, but he’s pleasantly surprised. The interior is reminiscent of a log cabin, with honey-colored timbers on the wall, floors and bar. There’s mining paraphernalia on the walls as well – pictures similar to those at the Prentice B&B, but also small pieces of mining equipment nailed onto the wall – lamps and helmets and picks. It’s neat, and homey, and spacious, and the restaurant area is nearly empty.

The bar area, however, is populated with several young men, all clustered around a television in the corner wall watching a football match. They all seem to recognize Rose, giving her quick, friendly hugs as she passes by. She briefly introduces John to them and he catches a few names – Mickey, Owen, Adam, Jimmy. John nods to them with a small wave, a gesture which seems to go largely unnoticed as they turn back towards the telly. Rose pulls a face and shrugs, then leads him over to a table in the quiet restaurant area. As he follows her, he gets the sense that someone is looking at him, and he turns around, but finds all the young men apparently fixated on the telly. He shrugs inwardly and turns back to follow Rose.

Soon they’re settled at their table, each of them with an ale, and their dinner ordered.

“So, Rose Tyler,” John says, leaning slightly towards her and letting he syllables roll off his tongue, emboldened by the thick ale warmly filling his veins and belly. “Tell me about you.”

“Not much to tell,” she smiles almost nervously into her drink, flicking her eyes up to meet his. “I’ve lived here since I was born. Been skiing since I was old enough to walk, wanted to go pro but I hurt my knee, so that’s out. My folks are both gone now, Gramps is all I’ve got for family, really. I fill in now and then at Swinhope Moor when they need extra help, help out Gramps at the B&B, that’s about it.”

He means to ask about her parents, about her injury, about anything, really – but his mind latches on to the last thing she said, about simply ‘filling in’ places and his train of thought is out of his mouth like it’s on a high-speed rail.

"How on earth do you make a living like that?" he blurts, and oh no, he can tell from how quickly her expression shuts down that he's been rude.

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have –“

“No, it’s ok,” she says quickly, her smile still broad but not quite meeting her eyes, and she takes another sip of her drink.

He wishes he could reach out, rub that pretend smile off her face, and rub his words away while he was at it. He still hardly knows her, but he knows that her expression doesn’t suit her at all, and he feels a twinge of guilt that he’s the one who put it there. After a momentary pause, she opens her mouth again to speak.

 “I mean … I wish I could do more, get out there a bit. Not one for uni though, I s’pose … never got a chance to go, and it’s not like I can do that anymore.”

He looks at her, eyebrows slightly furrowed. “Of course you can, you can do anything you want to. You can apply next year! Or take lessons in the spring, and enroll officially the next year.”

Rose shrugs, looking back down at her ale, almost ruefully.

“Nah … I haven’t even gotten my A levels,” she says, still staring at her ale, and her voice is all of a sudden softer.

“You don’t need A-levels to get into some universities nowadays,” he says. “It’s competitive, yes, but you have a lot going for yourself! You’re an instructor for one – and you’re freelance, correct? So you’re blazing your own trail, nothing’s standing in your way – it’s all you, taking on the world! And you’ve managed to get a clientele despite living far from a city, and without your parents. That’s brilliant, Rose, truly.”

The words leave his mouth breathy and rushed – and although he would say anything to make up for his previous remark, he finds as he says the words, that he really means them. She looks up for him, holding his gaze for a moment and smiles at him, a genuine grin this time, and it warms him from within, his stomach flipping in gratitude that he could make her smile again after his rudeness.

“Besides,” he sniffs. “Won’t hurt if you have a highly esteemed, brilliant – quite undeniably genius in fact – lecturer on your side putting in a good word for you.”

“Yeah? And who would that be?”

He smiles at her again as he takes a sip of his ale, and she smiles back.

“Genius, hmmm … but are you any good at darts, John?”

He laughs, and she smiles wickedly – and he soon learns that the answer is a most definite, undeniable no.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 18th, 2013 07:35 pm (UTC)
I know I mentioned it to you before, but I love the slow build up. The little hints at possibilities, but no big obvious 'YOU LOVE THEM' moments, yet ;)
Aug. 18th, 2013 10:39 pm (UTC)
Thanks hon!! Yeah I'm hoping they grow on the reader just like they grow on each other =)
Aug. 20th, 2013 04:45 am (UTC)
"How on earth do you make a living like that?" he blurts, and oh no, he can tell from how quickly her expression shuts down that he's been rude.

Oh goodness. I both love, and cringe at the lack of filter he seems to have.
Aug. 26th, 2013 03:20 am (UTC)
IKR??? He's reallllly something >.< ....
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )