“Good. Very very good. Now, do you know what would make it even better? If you just tilted your head to the right a little,” the Doctor, as everybody knew him, walked around the studio, giving a few murmured instructions to the assistants as he made his way over to her.
“Rose, we need to do this properly. None of that natural look is the best nonsense, please. We need to sell this,” he hissed under his breath and brushed off a non-existent lint from the sleeve of her dress.
Her smile was strained when she replied, but - she hoped - not obviously furious from a slightly bigger distance than what Charlie was keeping.
“Yes, Doctor. Of course. Do you want me to start fondling myself as well or will the lustful eyes and seductive half smile do?”
He turned on his heel and wiggled his fingers, “Now, now Rose, you know exactly what to do! No need to be difficult.” He managed to knock the coffee out of Amy’s hand on his way back to the camera. His intern shrieked and tried to mop up as much of the brown liquid as she could from her clothes. When it was obvious that she’d be walking around with a huge stain on her white shirt for the rest of the day, she rewarded Charlie with a murderous glare and exited the studio, lips pressed together tightly in a pout.
The Doctor promptly strode back to Rose and stage whispered into her ear, “Or if you’d rather not be here, you can just go.”
Rose crossed her arms and grimaced, turning it into a smile when one of the dressers passed them.
“You know I need the job, Charlie. I’m staying.”
“Good. Excellent!” He threw up his arms, and started searching madly for something on the table, turning over two coffee cups (both thankfully empty), a pencil case, and throwing a few dozen pages on the floor. He grinned at her triumphantly when he found the bottle of hair spray he was looking for.
“We need to do something with the hair. I mean, no offense, but my hair looks better than this concoction, and I’m just the photographer.”
Rose grinded her teeth, then smiled sweetly at him. “Sure, whatever you like Charles.”
He paused, staring down at her with unreadable eyes for a moment, then proceeded to the business of fixing her hair.
“Nobody calls me Charles.”
“Well, I am calling you Charles now.”
“Right, well, if you must… But it would be better if we just stuck to Doctor. Or Charlie, since you hardly ever call me Doctor. I mean I’d prefer it much more. It’s not too much trouble, is it? I just don’t like Charles…” He blew on her hair - completely unnecessarily, Rose suspected - and examined his work. “Okay. It’s not perfect, but it’ll have to do. Now, I want to do a shot with you leaning back on the chair, with a book, maybe. No, not a book, that’s boring. Books are boring in photographs; no one gets their picture taken with a book anymore.” He started throwing things off the table once again. “Aha! A flower. A flower is perfect. Flowers are cool. Now hold this,” turning around he tried to reach for another bottle of hairspray, but ended up entangling his arms with some cables sticking out of the wall.
Rose covered her smile with her hand and smelled the lily she was given. Charlie could be so clumsy sometimes. Uncoordinated housecat, one of his friends called him. She could see it now.
“Relax, Charles,” she gave a twirl of her tongue while saying his name and saw him stiffen. “I’m not gonna run away.” Mouth curling into a smile, she caught his lapel and looked up at him, biting her lips.
“Well… now… Rose… We don’t… Could you… Just let me…”
“Oh, he’s so adorable when he stutters!” they heard Amy’s mocking voice from behind. “Break him Rose!”
Rose smiled and stepped closer, Charlie backing up as close to the wall as he could manage without turning himself into plaster.
“Break… There’s really no need to… Rose… No… You… Okay, okay! I’m sorry! I might not have been communicating very clearly. What I meant to say is that…”
He started stuttering when he saw the raised eyebrows the two women were giving him.
“You’re both doing a very good job! And I should be doing my very good job.”
With that he swept Amy up in a hug - who shrieked very loudly -, and patted Rose’s shoulders awkwardly.
“Right, back to work everyone! The Doctor is in.”
Amy rolled her eyes and started to tidy up the table.
“You know, he wants to ask you out on a date.”
“Yeah, you. Oh, don’t give me that look! He fancies you, Rose. Had done for ages. Since your first job together, I think. Do you remember that?”
“Of course I do.” Rose blushed at the thought.
It was a private session, back in the days when she wasn’t a household name yet, and she was advertising underwear. She didn’t mind, knew her body was pretty enough to show off in nothing but a bra and panties, but it was not what she dreamt off when starting her modelling career. Still, the photographer was pleasant enough, introduced himself as the Doctor, which Rose had found ridiculous and quickly made him tell her his real name. He had a smile that annoyed Rose to no end when he accompanied it with a remark about his own intelligence, and sent a warm flurry of butterflies fluttering from her stomach to her chest and throat when he flashed it at her in compliment.
“Just because he likes to work with me doesn’t mean he fancies me, Amy.”
The red-head rolled her eyes and sighed.
“Both of you are so incredibly stubborn. Let’s just say I’m right. Hypothetically. Would you say yes?”
“I… I don’t know. I mean I never considered…”
This was a lie of course, Rose considered it plenty. Charlie often managed to drive her up the wall, that’s true, but she never felt so entertained, so understood, so… alive than when she was with him. And underneath all the mannerisms and big words and charming smiles, he had a good soul. She knew that much, if precious little else.
They never talked about personal things. Well, a few details slipped in, as they tend to, but the topic of conversation was always work, people at work, people they both knew (as it turned out they had quite a few friends in common), what Amy and Rory did on the weekend… They didn’t talk about Charlie and they didn’t talk about Rose.
If she weren’t so close to the Doctor, she could have said the topic just didn’t come up; it was by chance that they knew barely anything about each other’s lives. But she knew it wasn’t true. They were dancing around mentioning anything personal since they first met, both of them carefully avoiding any and all mentions of domesticity, lest the other should think they wanted something more than a work relationship.
Rose daydreamed, of course. When she was in Paris, alone in a hotel room, getting ready for the fashion show of the year; when she had to go to a photocall with someone she barely knew; when the photographer on a shoot was using his favourite words. The possibility of Charlie thinking about her the same way cheered her up more than she’d liked to admit.
“Aha…” Amy’s doubtful voice snapped her out of her musings. “I’ll take that as a yes then.”
She turned around and was quickly making her way over to the other side of the studio, leaving Rose gawping. She realized too late that her friend was intending to tell Charlie.
“Amy, wait. No, don’t…”
But Amy was not to be deterred so easily. Her red-haired friend had already reached the Doctor, and was now rocking back and forth on her heels, with an innocent smile on her face that she wore only when she was up to something extremely mischievous, gesticulating wildly and pointing towards Rose. Charlie didn’t turn around to look at her.
Rose chewed on her lower lip, waiting for his reaction. When he swept Amy off her feet and spun her around, Rose relaxed a bit, but her stomach still danced with nerves as Charlie strode across the studio.
He stopped in front of her, miscalculating the distance and almost toppling them over. He looked into her eyes intently for a second, as if for searching for something. When she gave him a shy half-smile, he broke into a grin and hugged her tight.
Rose didn’t even have time to be shocked by the sudden contact; he was off again, on his feet, hurrying towards the next task of the day, calling over his shoulder, “Come along, Tyler. We must finish this shoot if we want to catch dinner before the restaurants get too crowded. I don’t like crowded restaurants. Not enough breathing space. You should always leave room to breathe when eating!”
He jabbed the air with his index finger for emphasis and proceeded to tinker away at his camera, changing the settings, adjusting the holder. When Rose walked over to give him a kiss on the cheek, he stilled for a few moments, but didn’t look up. As she picked up her flower and sat down on the chair, Rose thought she could see a pink spot appear on his cheek, exactly where she kissed him. Smiling, she leaned back and waited for the familiar flash of the camera.