Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

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

That Friday, John once again sneaks off from work a bit early. It’s Luke’s turn in the office for data collection, and both he and Clyde have been so hard at work on the project, that John wishes them a nice weekend as he quickly ushers Luke out of his office, and tells the boy he’s letting him off early as a reward. The truth, however, is slightly different. There’s an interdepartmental happy hour at the local pub for one of his colleagues who is getting married, and despite the fact that there’s a good chance Jeanne will be there, John wants to get up to the B&B in time for supper - Wilf had promised him a special meal tonight, a local Cumbrian entree called Cumberland sausage that John had never had before. Rose had heartily vouched for it, longingly rubbing her stomach at the mere mention of the dish and saying that her grandfather’s recipe was brilliant - and John was more than willing to take her word for this and try it firsthand.

He loads his duffel bag into his car, as well as two new shopping bags from Ski + Rock, having been back to that skiing store twice this week already after reading online about useful skiing gear, and begins his journey back up to Weardale. The drive itself is easier than he expected: he’s gotten used to the country roads now, the gentle slope of the land as he heads north, the cloudy sky hanging low over the barren countryside like a soft wool blanket. As he drives further north, it begins to snow, billowy cotton-white flecks lazily drifting down from the sky to carpet the ground. John can’t help but think the snow will result in good skiing conditions this weekend: he wonders if Rose will think that the fresh snow will be more suitable for downhill or for cross-country skiing, and smiles, not particularly caring which one he practices this time.


By the time John arrives, Wilf is already in the kitchen, hard at work on the sausage, and John wastes no time donning an apron and heading into the kitchen himself.

The Cumberland sausage looks delicious - it’s a long, coiled, homemade sausage that looks vaguely reminiscent of a length of rope wound around itself, and it smells divine, like pork and bacon and nutmeg sizzling together headily on the grill before him. Despite not usually finding the time or the inclination to do anything more than heat up a frozen dinner for himself at home, John presses Wilf for the recipe. Wilf gladly shares this with John, and hands him a bowlful of raw potatoes and a knife to slice them for the meal, while Wilf grabs plates and silverware and heads off to set the table.

It’s pleasant, John thinks, as he and Wilf work side-by-side to make the meal - he never had anyone to teach him the particulars of cooking before, he’d always just learned on his own, experimenting with this-and-that in the same way he experimented while making so many of his electronics. His meals - much like his experiments - generally turned out well, which John chocks up to his general brilliance with tinkering. Still, it’s nice to truly learn from someone, for once. Most of the time he doesn’t even bother to cook just for himself, and he can’t remember the last time he made something from scratch in his kitchen. But the grandfatherly older man has become quite a friend to John over the past couple of weekends (and has it really only been that short a time he’s known Rose and Wilf?), and John is more than happy to help out with dinner.

As soon as the sausage and potatoes are finished cooking, the two men head out to the dining area, Wilf leading the way with the sausage balanced on a serving platter. As they reach the table, John notices with a slight amount of surprise that Wilf has only set two places … so not only does this likely mean that no other guests will be joining them tonight, but also -

“Isn’t Rose coming?” John finds himself asking.

Wilf shakes his head as he sets the sausage down on the table, and John shrugs off a vague disappointment - Rose had seemed to like the dish, after all. It would be a shame for her to miss it.

“Nah, she’s up at Swinhope Moor tonight. It was her day teaching there, so it’s her job to close up the rental shop - she usually gets home late at night when she teaches, so I just save her a plate.”

“Is that safe for her, though?” John asks, slightly alarmed. “At night, with the snow falling like this? I could get my car and -”

Wilf smiles at him then, almost a knowing smile and John finds inexplicably finds himself slightly annoyed, wondering what the older man finds so amusing.

“She’s got the snowmobile, she’ll be fine.”

John nods, not quite convinced, but also not entirely comfortable under Wilf’s gaze, and both men dig into their dinner, which tastes even more delicious than it looks. After a few minutes, John asks Wilf more about his tour of duty with the parachute regiment in the 1940s, and Wilf spends the rest of the meal telling John about his postwar duties in British Malaya, the difficulties he faced from the power struggles between Britain’s attempted formation of the Malayan Union and the crown colony of Singapore, an untenable balance which eventually crumbled and led to the formation of Malaysia itself. As brilliant as he fancies himself with science, John’s education on history during his upbringing had focused more on the glories of the British Empire and not its slow but inevitable decline, be it in the coal and fluorite mines of Northern England or the Istana Negara in Kuala Lumpur, and he listens intently to Wilf, enjoying every word of Wilf’s story as much as Wilf enjoys telling it.

Wilf is right, and Rose doesn’t arrive as they’re seated eating in the dining room, while they’re doing the dishes in the kitchen, or when they’re seated in the sitting room afterwards - Wilf in his old brown chair, John splayed out on the blue sofa. As Wilf heads to bed, exhausted from talking the night away with John over a few ales, John slowly makes his way upstairs as well to his bedroom.

Well, it’s not his bedroom, per se, because he’s merely a paying guest here, but he’s ended up with this same room for both of his prior visits and is beginning to consider it his own, in a way. He wonders if Wilf and Rose think of it this way as well, and if that’s why they keep giving him the same room, then quickly dismisses the notion - he’s merely a guest, one of many they have on a weekly basis. They probably don’t spare it a thought at all.

John undresses quickly and steps into the shower … as usual, it feels delightful. He slips on his pajamas and crawls under the covers of his - well, the - bed, grabbing his computer, intent on getting a little bit of work done before turning in for the night. He stifles a yawn and begins reviewing the data set that Luke and Clyde have been populating - which in turn causes him to stifle two more yawns, frightfully boring as the topic of differentials in weather patterns is.

Soon, in the distance, he hears the rumbling of a motor, and sees the reflection off his wall of two tiny beams of light, clearly from a set of headlights far too small to be from a car. The rumbling gets closer and closer, then stops completely when it sounds as if it’s just below his window.

With one last yawn, John closes his computer and clicks his bedside light off, soon falling to sleep.

The next morning, John heads downstairs to breakfast to find Rose setting the table. Smiling to himself, he comes to stand beside her, taking a pile of forks on the table and helping to set each one by the the plates as Rose sets them, and after a brief greeting, they fall into companionable silence. After a leisurely meal (and John cannot believe Rose had never tried banana pancakes before!), they head to the front foyer together as Wilf clears the table.

“I think the new powder will be excellent for downhill skiing today. I thought we’d take the snowmobile up to Swinhope Moor,” she says. “That will get you some downhill skiing practice today.”

John nods … no cross-country this weekend, he supposes, and he shouldn’t feel any disappointment about it, he feels the smallest twinge of regret. Silly, really … he should be practicing for Chamonix.

“We can go to the rental shop first and get your boots - ” she adds.

With this statement, John smiles and motions to Rose to hold on a minute - effectively interrupting her - and jogs upstairs. He returns a moment later with a huge smile on his face, and holds out one of the Ski + Rock bags he’d brought with him from London.

“No need! I bought my own boots this week!”

Rose looks over at him, and then at the bag, in surprise, and her face breaks out into a small smile.

“Well let’s see them, then!”

He opens the bag and proudly shows her his purchases. He knows he probably should have mentioned his plan to buy them to her - she’d been so much help choosing his ski clothes, after all, and he values her input - but he’d been reading all about ski brands in both SKI magazine as well as the Cross Country Skier website, and there had been a sale at Ski + Rock and … he sighs. Try as he might to save money for Chamonix, there is a reason the amount in his bank account has never been reflective of his salary, and he supposes his tendency for impulse purchases (be they electronics or ski-gear, in this case) has quite a lot to do with that. Oh well, he thinks, nothing to be done for it.

Rose inspects the boots appreciatively.

“Nice choice … they fit well?”

“Oh yes,” he says. “Made sure the staff fit them as well as you fit the rentals my first weekend here. You’ve already spoiled me, Rose Tyler,
and I’ll only take the best.”

She looks up at him warmly and he smiles back down at her.

“I bought goggles too!” he says, excitedly reaching into the bag. “Amber-tinted ones. I went for mid-tone amber because I wasn’t sure if it would be all blue skies this weekend or overcast, and well, amber’s an all-around good color for a lens anyway so -”

He interrupts his monologue, noticing that Rose is smiling softly up at him.

“Did you know that from physics? Studying light and all?” she asks.

He gazes at her momentarily … he could say yes, spare himself the embarrassment of letting her know that even as a beginner who’s only been at this for three weeks, he’s spent most of his spare time recently guzzling down the particulars of ski magazines. Or he could tell her the truth, and hope she doesn’t find it so amusing that her gangly-limbed student who could barely stay upright during their last downhill skiing session would be becoming so invested in an activity he’s hardly any good at … let alone why he’s chosen this activity in the first place - and there’s even more embarrassment with that tangent. He’s not sure he likes either of those choices.

So instead, he shrugs, removing the price tag with his teeth before putting on the goggles and pulling a pose, modeling them for her.

“What do you think? Dashing, isn’t it?”

She laughs, and he gives her a little wink.

Rose grabs her skis and holds the door open for him as they head outside, making her way to the snowmobile. She crouches down onto the snow with her skis and pulls what looks like a bungee cord from her pocket, winding it around the base of the ski and looping it under the seat of the snowmobile and back again, securing it onto the machine.

“Are you sure? They could go flying off,” he says warily as she fastens them to the machine, one ski on each side, each one pointing backwards and slightly uptilted as if they were low-lying wings on the snowmobile.

She shrugs.

“Works well enough. It’s the only way to ride this thing if I want to bring my skis. If they fell off I could just pop off and go get them,” she says with a smile.

The angle with which her skis are fastened to the snowmobile makes it impossible for him to fit his feet as far back as he did the last time they rode together, nor put anything resembling space between them. Instead, he finds himself needing to scootch forward closer to her, pressing his torso firmly against her back and bracing his thighs solidly under her own in order to keep his balance.

She starts the machine, and almost immediately they are headed off, albeit in a different direction than the one they took to visit the town of Weardale. This time, Rose comes round the back of the B&B and veers off to a separate point entirely. They’re headed down a gentle slope now, nearly treeless except for a few stark, leafless trees standing like sentries, their branches dark and sharp like iron rods pointing up out of the snow.

Soon they’re cutting upwards again, the area noticeably more hilly than the almost plateau-like area Rose had taken him cross-country skiing last weekend. In the distance, John can see several more snow-coated hills, and skiers in the distance, coasting towards the bottom of each one. He notices with a smile that there are even two odd-looking ski lifts - they look nothing like the sleek aerial chairs and gondolas from his magazines or the Chamonix brochures, with seated skiers ready to stand up and hop off the lift at the top of the hill to race back down. No, instead these ski-lifts leave the skier standing on the hill, holding onto a T-shaped pulley to pull them back up to where they started. Rose momentarily idles the snowmobile, and looks back at John.

She follows his gaze and smiles, pointing to the lifts. “They’re called draglifts - they literally pull you back up the hill!”

Continuing on their journey, they ascend one more hill and John catches sight of a collection of wood cabins buildings clustered around a larger wood building and nods to himself, noticing the sign for Swinhope Lodge, his original hotel destination. Not for the first time, he’s glad he ended up at the B&B instead - who knows if he would have gotten to know Rose and Wilf better if his first trip to Weardale had gone as planned.

As they continue past the cabins, John sees one more small, wooden building, at the top of must be more than a 100-metre drop. Several skiers are congregated outside, some apparently readying their skis and poles for a descent on the hill, others merely standing around in their ski boots socializing with each other and drinking cupfulls of something warm enough to steam into the air around their faces, with their skis propped up casually against a nearby guardrail. The sign outside announces Swinhope Moor - Ski Weardale!, and as their snowmobile slowly pulls to a stop to the side of the building, several of the skiers turn to Rose and wave.

Rose dismounts from the snowmobile, waves back in greeting, and walks over to a small kiosk set up right outside the building. John recognizes the bloke at the kiosk - Mickey, wasn’t it? - and gives him a cheery little wave. Mickey in turn looks from Rose to John then back towards Rose with what can only be described as a little smirk. As Mickey reaches under the counter for the ski passes to give Rose, he says something to her - and though John can’t hear what Mickey said, Rose’s reaction is to reach over across the kiosk and give Mickey an almost-not-playful swat on the arm as he chuckles irreverently under her glare.

“What was all that about?” John asks her, when she returns moments later with the ski passes and a pair of rental skis for John.

Rose opens and shuts her mouth, as if there were something she were about to say but had thought the better of it. She looks away awkwardly with a slight blush creeping up her cheeks.

“Oh … Mickey? Just being an arse,” she says with a slightly forced giggle.

She hands him his ski pass, a sticker for him to affix to his jacket, and quickly leads him over to a nearby wooden bench to put on his skis, effectively ending the conversation. She then walks back to the snowmobile to begin the - what appears to John, at least - somewhat arduous task of untwining her own skis from the snowmobile to free them.

A moment later, she takes a seat beside him at the bench, and as he smiles over at her he notices someone looking at them (and what is it with Weardale and feeling like people are staring at him, he wonders). He tosses a glance over his shoulder to find Mickey smiling at them with an overly large grin pasted onto his face. Rose notices this, sighs and shakes her head.

“Alright, c’mon!” she says, turning her back to Mickey.

She comes to a stand and holds out her hands for John - he takes them and she helps to hoist him upright. “We’ve got a lesson!”

She flashes him a grin and skis a bit ahead of him. As he pulls down his goggles, he notices out of the corner of his eye that Mickey is giving him a thumbs-up. As John waves back and turns around, he doesn’t notice Mickey shake his head and start to laugh, gazing after them.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 16th, 2013 03:43 am (UTC)
As soon as I saw "You’ve already spoiled me, Rose Tyler, and I’ll only take the best", I instantly thought of Nine and Rose talking to Adam when Nine says "I only take the best. I've got Rose."

I love all the subtle little things like that in this story. Having in-references that fans catch but that don't just reach out and hit you over the head is what makes a really good AU. Bravo, as always!
Sep. 16th, 2013 05:27 am (UTC)
Awww, this is lovely. I like the fact John is still so Doctor-ish, completely oblivious to his own feelings. You sort of want to pat him on the head and tell him that he's making friends.

But I adore Rose, she's very sweet, but not too sweet.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )