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ten and rose running
Title: Spring Conditions
Fandom: Doctor Who
Author:
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..
A/N:
inspired by a skiing AU prompt from kelkat9.
Rating: Teen


After dinner, and after John’s defeat six times to Rose’s sniper-like markswoman-ship in darts, they leave the restaurant, waving a quick, casual goodbye to Mickey and Owen, the only remaining blokes at the bar, and getting a friendly wave in return. John is in good spirits, much better than he would normally be after being bested by someone at a game as simple as darts, but he’s enjoying himself far too much to care.

As they step outside from the warm foyer of Stout Point into the chilled outdoors, Rose nods down the street to the right, telling John there’s more to see in that direction, and they head off, together. The sun is just starting to drop down towards the horizon, and the few old stone buildings lining their path cast their lonely shadows down towards the road. For such a quiet, empty street, it’s an oddly compelling sight, and it makes John almost want to slow down to appreciate its stark beauty. John and Rose’s breaths crystallize into tiny clouds around their faces, as their boots crunch and clomp at the snow under their feet, kicking it up into little white tufts with each step. The pair amble along the street together side by side, his hand almost touching hers until he realizes how close together they have been walking, and he shoves his hands into his jacket pockets.

“This is the museum,” Rose says, soon coming to a stop before an old stone house with somewhat small, dingy windows. “It’s closed for the winter, but they carry most of the brochures and history stuff about the area.”

John leans in towards the front windows, but the inside of the place is dark, and shielded with heavy closed curtains, so he is unable to peer in to see what kinds of items the museum carries. Instead, he looks at the placard inside the window, advertising local history about fluorite and lead mining, a local history tapestry weaving, a chapel, and genealogy resources.

“Genealogy …” he murmurs to himself, raising his eyebrows, not expecting that from a museum. Then again, he would hardly have expected a tapestry from a museum, either.

Rose laughs. “Yeah, I ‘spose. Although I think most people who were born around here end up staying around here, so our family trees aren’t much of a mystery. Our great-grandparents all were locals here too – most of them were friends, so we already know all the old family stories. I think it’s more of a hobby for the owner.”

“Must be nice,” John muses, still looking at the window, not finding it nearly as kitschy as he thinks even Rose might. “I’m not even sure I know my great-grandparents names. Pretty sure they were all from London though, I think. Well, maybe. Hard to say, really, and there’s no-one around to ask anymore.”

Rose looks up at him suddenly, eyes wide with empathy and hesitation.

“I’m so sorry – you mean your family –“

He shrugs, and Rose falls into silence to let him speak as he stands still, hands in his pockets, his eyes remaining fixed on the placard in the window.

“It was a long time ago,” he says in a casual voice, smooth with ease from long-practiced repetition. “It’s just me, now.”

Rose is quiet in response to this, and for a moment he wonders if she heard him at all. After a minute he turns his eyes from the placard, his gaze dropping down to meet her own, and finds her eyes full of silent understanding. It catches him by surprise and he swallows, looking away awkwardly, back towards the placard in the empty building.

“I know it’s not much but … I mean, you can come here whenever you want, you know,” she says quietly and quickly. “Me and gramps, it’s just us left, too.”

He smiles down at her, a genuine grin, and she blushes. All of a sudden she seems to be the one looking awkwardly away, although a smile still lingers on her face.

“You’ve got a nice town here,” he says, changing the topic. “Nice change of pace from London.”

Rose shrugs nonchalantly, turning away and motioning towards the next building on the street, which appears to be a post office.
London though, it must be exciting!” she says. “I’ve only been once, it was pretty, though.”

John smiles to himself, thinking of the British Museum with its black siltstone obelisks of Nectanebo II and the Rosetta Stone, the Museum of London with its fragments of the Roman Empire’s London Wall, and the Victoria and Albert Museum’s examples of Donatello’s rilievo schiacciato. Weardale and its ridiculously small, semi-perpetually closed museum dedicated to the history of cheap fluorite and lead, featuring side-shows of geneaology and tapestry weavings of all things truly can’t even compare. It’s nowhere near the same scale, and laughably ridiculous to even consider mentioning it in the same sentence as its betters. And yet … he still finds himself wishing it were open.

He turns away from the building, following Rose down the street.

--

There really isn’t very much open on the street – the museum is of course closed, the post office is closed, the petrol station is closed, and even the few other vehicles in front of Stout Point are nearly all gone by the time they reach the end of the block.

Rose shrugs, almost embarrassed, and turns around to face John.

“Well, that’s it really! Not much more around here,” she says, with a hesitant little laugh.

John shakes his head and smiles at her.

“It was nice to see, Rose. Thank you for being my tour guide.”

Rose points at one more building, another stone structure aptly named “Stone General Store,” and they go inside, the doorbell chiming their arrival as they enter the building. It’s a small store, with the wooden-plank floors that seem to be so popular in Weardale, stocked with a multitude of snack foods and groceries on one side of the premises, and hardware supplies on the other side. The front of the store is fully stocked with shovels and rock salt for sale – which is no surprise given the amount of snowfall Weardale seems to get. There is even seems a small area off to the side for camping and fishing supplies, and it makes John smile, as a childhood memory of fishing with his father flickers to his mind.

“Hi Bev!” Rose says in greeting to a middle-aged woman by the front counter, giving her a quick hug. “Just here for the usual stuff. This is my student, John – I’ve just been showing him around Weardale a bit.”

“Hello Rose!” Bev replies fondly. “And it’s nice to meet you, John! Oh, Rose - Jimmy was looking for you earlier, he wanted to know if you thought you might need help with that new satellite box. Said he could stop by if you need him to.”

“Nah thanks Bev, John here got it sorted for me, but thanks!” Rose says. “I saw Jimmy earlier over at Stout, he didn’t say anything about it, though!”

Bev shrugs and Rose grabs a basket, leading John down an aisle towards the refrigerators in the back of the store.

“Two cartons of milk, a dozen eggs … and do you still want bananas pancakes in the morning?” she asks.

John’s elated smile is all the response Rose needs, and she laughs, putting the bananas in her basket.

--

The next day, John rises early and heads downstairs for breakfast. Once again, it’s just him and Wilf at the table, everyone else having already headed out. John feels strangely disappointed that he appears to have missed Rose, as he was hoping to start his lesson early. In the meantime, Wilf once again insists of course on making John banana pancakes, and John is equally as insistent on helping him. The two men share a leisurely breakfast, Wilf regaling John with tales about leaving home to join the Parachute Regiment – “the Paras” – when he was in his teens just after World War II.

As they’re finishing their meal, Rose comes in the door, skis and boots perched over her shoulder. She sets them down, grabs a cup of coffee, and joins them at the table, listening to her grandfather’s stories with an amused smile on her face. John realizes that she’s probably heard these stories a hundred times growing up, but Wilf clearly delights in telling them, and John quite likes listening to them. He’d never gotten to know his own grandfathers, but he likes to think that if he had, that it might have been a little like this – sitting at a table, over a favourite breakfast, listening to well-worn stories over and over again.

After they finish the last of their breakfast, they begin to clear their plates from the table and Rose turns to John with a tentative smile.
“I was wondering … do you want to try something new today? I know you say you were more interested in downhill skiing, but if you’re up for learning a little about cross-country skiing too, I thought we could try that today.”

John hesitates only momentarily. He has ten more weekends after this to not make a fool of himself in Chamonix, which is hardly any time at all considering the level of skill he’s hoping to attain by that point. He’s barely learned anything about skiing on slopes yet, other than how to fall inelegantly both when he’s trying, as well as when he’s not trying. Ten more weeks may as well be tomorrow if he wastes any time – he has no time to practice during the week in London, after all. His weekends up here in Weardale are short and precious, and meant to be fully invested towards Chamonix, but all the same …

“I’d love to,” he says, the words flowing from his mouth as naturally as the air from his lungs, and she smiles at him.

After he puts on his brand new skiwear Rose had helped him pick out, she helps him with his equipment, reminding him again to not fasten the wrist-strap on his ski pole because they will definitely be going off-piste today. He notices that the skis and boots she’s picked out are slightly different from the ones he wore last week. These new skis are skinnier, and much longer than the ones he’d worn the previous weekend, and the boots attach to the skis only at the toe.

Being a physicist, of course he notices another slight difference as well – unlike the smooth, sleek bottom of the downhill skis, the bottom of these skis seem to be imprinted with a tiny fish-scale pattern. His mind runs through the kinetics implications of this, as well as the effect on force and friction, and he mentions his finding to Rose, equations on the tip of his tongue –

“It’s for traction,” Rose replies simply, with a smile, as they take their first steps outside.

Ah.

“Cross-country skiing is a lot like walking. Just keep your skis parallel and make sure to not lift up your feet,” Rose continues. “And then you just stride forward – like this!”

She demonstrates it for him, and as he attempts his first strides he’s happy to note that with this – this!! – he seems to be quite a natural.

They start down the same path he recognizes from snowmobiling with Rose yesterday, following the tracks in the snow made not just from Rose’s snowmobile but from other skiers at the B&B. When they reach a clearing however, she turns, leading him down a new path of completely untrodden snow. It’s old snow from last week’s snowfall and is crunchy under their feet, a counterpoint to the click-clacking noise from their skis with each stride. It seems to be an old, unused trail by the look of it, and they continue on for some distance, John growing increasingly more comfortable with long strides and cross-balance of his hands and poles. He only wishes that downhill skiing felt this natural to him.

After a while, the trail opens again to another clearing, and Rose slows down, turning away from the trail and seeming to hesitate momentarily. She takes a deep breath and looks at John.

"My dad used to work down at the mine," she says, pointing in the direction of a far-off dilapidated stone structure surrounded by the remnants of other stone buildings. "They shut it down the year I was born. He was trying to invent this pulley system, see, to make it more efficient so it would maybe cost less and the company would leave it open. A lot of people were gonna lose their jobs if it closed. But before he could try it, there was this accident and the mine flooded when they were all inside and ..." she trails off, shrugging a little too casually, gaze focused stonily and resolutely on the rocky crags in the background.

"Anyway," she resumes after a moment. "Gramps never wanted to leave after that. I guess I stay for him. I guess. I dunno. I don't want him to be by himself."

She shrugs. She looks so solitary, so alone in that moment, standing out brightly against the forlorn rocky background in her hot pink ski suit. She drops her eyes and he's struck with an odd and sudden urge to take her hand. He doesn't, of course - it would be highly inappropriate, and plus she is wearing thick ski gloves, but even so...

"I wish I could have met him," he says, surprised that he means it, and even more surprised at the almost tender tone that has crept unawares into his voice as he gazes at her.

She smiles at him. It's a gracious smile, a bright smile, and without even giving it another thought it makes him smile too. They stand there for a minute like that, before her eyes drop to the snow, her skis shuffling slightly on the ground.

Suddenly she looks up at him again, a small but mischievous smile on her face.

"C'mon," she says, cocking her head back in the direction of the B&B. "I'll race ya!"

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
cehlainz
Aug. 26th, 2013 05:13 am (UTC)
Absolutely wonderful, as always. I like to see the personal interactions between them. It's both profound and subtle. I love that Rose was able to keep him entertained, ensure his education, make him feel good about his accomplishments, empathize with his pain, and give a piece of herself to him all with a single gesture.
strange_charmed
Sep. 2nd, 2013 02:29 am (UTC)
Thank you! Yes, Rose is kind of awesome, isn't she? =)
fogsblue
Aug. 26th, 2013 10:48 am (UTC)
The small gestures are perfect. It's very believable, a slow growing relationship (friendship counts) with little bits of information passed between them as they slowly open up a little.

I adore this :)
strange_charmed
Sep. 2nd, 2013 02:29 am (UTC)
Thank you! Yeah I like them getting closer, as friends, too ...
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )