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strong heart; delicate fists

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Even on the floor with bruises starting to bloom on his face and blood on his teeth, there was a certain kind of grace about him. Feline , Rose thought as she maneuvered for a better view of the action. Powerful .

The man bared his bloodied teeth in a smile, in a snarl, and Rose was entranced at the barely leashed violence sparking in his eyes.

He rose up on his elbows and spat blood at the feet of his opponent. The other man ran a hand through his blond hair and stepped closer, scenting victory. He didn’t see the warning signs. The man on the ground hooked his foot around his opponent’s ankle, sending him sprawling. Rose’s heart was in her throat as the one she’d been watching and silently rooting for, the fighter who went by The Doctor, staggered to his feet to loom over the felled blond. He rested his booted foot on the man’s throat and stared down at him, spearing him with an glare cold enough to ice his blood in the middle of July.

“Do you yield?” The Doctor’s voice was low and the accented words rumbled through the room though he didn’t raise his voice.

The downed man nodded.The Doctor removed his foot and stepped back, not sparing another look for his opponent. He seemed to barely register the cheers and turned to head straight for one of the rooms set aside for fighters to clean up. It was clear he was not planning on acknowledging anyone or accepting any accolades but he came to a halt when his eyes caught on Rose.

The Doctor’s eyes swept her up and down in a brief assessment. She couldn’t move with that icy blue gaze locked on her, with the way it seemed to freeze the very air in her lungs.

He couldn’t possibly know…

“Come with me,” he growled, wrapping his fingers around her wrist to ensure her compliance. His grip was just tight enough to tell her trying to pull away would be foolish, while also not hurting her.

Rose bit her tongue to keep from arguing as he practically dragged her out of the fight room. As soon as she opened her mouth any successful pretence of being a man she’d managed to achieve tonight  would be undone.

The Doctor shut the door of the dressing room and turned to face her, arms crossed over his chest. “You know there are several very good reasons women aren’t allowed into these fights.”

“How the hell did you even know?” Rose demanded, crossing her own arms with a scowl. “No one else suspected a thing and you only saw me for a couple seconds.”

He flicked his eyes over her again, lingering on her ill-fitting coat and the breeches that hugged her legs. “Everyone else was apparently blind. I wouldn’t count on that luck continuing.”

His Northern burr seemed to resonate in her chest. It was so different from the clipped accents she was accustomed to hearing and she rather thought she’d like to hear more of it if the actual words weren’t vexing her so thoroughly.

“So, what? You think you’ve rescued me or something?” Rose asked, cheeks pink from his appraisal of her as well as her growing irritation.

“Have done, yeah.”

“You’re insufferable.”

He quirked his mouth in a quick smile in response and started moving towards the steaming tub of water that was waiting for him in the corner, gait a bit stiff now that he wasn’t in the heat of the fight.

“Are you really going to take a bath with me in here?”


He faced the basin and stripped off his shirt. Rose was mesmerized by the ripple of the muscles playing along his back until her eyes caught on the large bruise coloring his side.

He turned at her gasp and gave her an amused look. “You just watched the fight, you can’t be surprised I garnered a few bruises.”

“I’m not,” she lied. “I’m simply surprised you’re undressing in front of a woman you haven’t even bothered introducing yourself to.”

“John Smith, at your service,” he said with a small smile. “I’d bow but it would be rather painful.”

“Rose Tyler. I’d curtsey but…” she gestured at her trousers with a smirk.

“There, introductions accomplished. Can I bathe before the water goes cold?”

“Don’t stop on my account.”