“Ah-ha! Gotcha!” The Doctor’s head burst up from the pile of leaves, beaming from ear to ear. The rest of his body followed, scattering an array of brilliant autumn colours into the air. “I found it, Rose! Alien readings, this way!” He indicated the direction along the trail that cut through the trees with a flourish of his sonic screwdriver and stumbled into a run. “Allons-y!”
Rose didn’t follow, just crossed her arms, leaned back against the tree she stood under, and grinned smugly at the sight of the Time Lord as he lurched to a stop.
His brows furrowed. “Well come on then. W’atcha standing there gawping for? Leg it, Lewis! (Oooh, I like that: leg it, Lewis. You’re going to be hearing that phrase more often… especially as you seem to be… erm… a rather reluctant runner at the moment.) C’mon, c’mon, c’mon,” he ran on the spot, drumming his feet vigorously on the ground, “that Tweezleblurt is–”
“–is about four inches long and, by the way you’re carrying on, is more likely to be getting squished under your feet than plotting a great escape.”
“Oi, they may be longitudinally challenged, but you should see those babies move. Like greased lightning! And now, thanks to your lack of legging it, this one’s got a rather significant head start! C’mon, chop-chop…” He drummed his feet on the ground again and invited her to take his hand with waggling fingers.
Rose rolled her eyes. “You are such a child!”
“Am not!” He stamped a petulant foot. “Now let’s get a move on before we start hearing the screams from the next village over.”
Rose snorted. “I don’t think there’ll be any screaming.”
“You mark my words, one look at that Tweezleblurt, and those villagers’ll be shouting bloody murder.”
Rose smirked. “What? You mean this sweet little bloke?” She pushed her hair aside to reveal the tiny creature, sitting on her shoulder, nestling against her neck. “Who could ever scream about him?”
The Doctor’s face went slack with disbelief. “Wha…?”
Rose arched an amused eyebrow. “I think you better check your readings again, yeah. Just sayin’.” She chuckled. “Look who’s gawping now.” She couldn’t resist pulling out her superphone and snapping a shot of him in all his stunned glory. Then she turned the phone on herself, assumed a cute pose, and took a selfie with the Tweezleblurt.
“Oh, well, that’s just brilliant, then,” he snarked. “Now, what d’ya say, instead of indulging your selfie obsession, we take this wayward fellow back home where he belongs, hmmm? And you,” he jabbed an accusatory finger at her, “you, Rose Tyler, might’ve told me you had him before I went diving through all those leaves chasing red herrings.”
“Oh, I dunno…” Rose opened the photo of the Doctor, smiling as she contemplated it: the Doctor stood in a beam of sunshine, looking thoroughly put out, some leaves still clinging to his gravity-defying hair like auburn highlights that mingled with his (frankly glorious) chestnut spikes. He was gorgeous! “I think you should play in autumn leaves more often. Look,” she showed him the image, “you’re finally a ginger.”
“Oh, very funny,” he grumbled, scrubbing the leaves from his hair and heading back towards the TARDIS with long, purposeful strides. “Let’s go, you and your little friend.”
Rose jogged to catch up, linking her arm through his when she reached his side. She bumped him with her hip and leaned up to murmur into his ear. “I thought it was kinda sexy, the ginger.”
He turned wide eyes on her, ruffling the hair at the nape of his neck. “Weeeell… I erm…” he sputtered, “I–”
Whatever else he was going to say was cut off by a loud shriek that resounded along the trail behind them.
Rose locked eyes with him and bit the corner of her lower lip. “That sounded like it came from the… erm… next village over.”
A broad grin spread across the Doctor’s face. “Oh, Rose, I hope you’re feeling peckish; I believe it’s time for you to eat crow.”
“There’s another one, isn’t there?” she squeaked.
“Oh, yes!” He held out his hand to her, jogging on the spot again. “And whatever you do, don’t lose track of that little rascal on your shoulder. It’s time to leg-it, Lewis!”