A small crowd had gathered in the entranceway of a narrow, winding alley as the Doctor and Rose pushed through, brandishing their psychic paper like a weapon.
“Nothing to see. We’ll take it from here.”
The Doctor squatted to his knees beside the body of an elderly gentleman dressed in sophisticated attire and a warm, woollen coat. His pallid face was contorted in an eerie, silent scream as his unfocused gaze seemed to either entreat or curse the heavens.
The crowd was growing despite their reassurances so the Doctor stilled the hand that was surreptitiously reaching for his sonic screwdriver and instead placed two fingers at the pulse point of the man’s neck.
“He’s dead.” This spurred another flurry of muffled screams and anxious whisperings as the Doctor locked regretful eyes with Rose who, as ever, was steadfast by his side.
He leaned forward for a closer inspection of the corpse and Rose quietly muttered, “Please, don’t lick him”. He cocked an amused eyebrow her way, obviously having heard, damn him and his infuriating superhero hearing.
Deft hands explored the prone body as his brow furrowed in concentration. Luckily the only thing he licked was his finger as he seemed to attempt to taste the very atmosphere.
“Rather primitive but take 37.5 degrees Celsius and minus the 1.5 degrees, the standard rate of heat loss per hour and factor in the chilly conditions in situ which reduce said rate and the fact that rigor mortis is already evident in the smaller muscles of the face and neck and I’d put time of death at about two to three hours ago, say 6:47pm,” the Doctor rambled off.
“That’s very precise,” she sounded impressed and a little startled by his Sherlocking.
“Rose, really! I AM a Time Lord.” He grinned smugly before diverting his gaze rather melodramatically to the deceased’s right flank and the broken pocket watch that lay on the ground.
“Oh…you cheat,” she squeaked indignantly.
The Doctor chuckled, but taking in the less than amused, grim faces continued, “Sun set today at approximately 5:17pm and the street lamps don’t encroach far enough on the shadows at the alley’s entrance, so makes sense that he wasn’t found immediately. No outward sign of assault, no defensive wounds, bruising, abrasions etc, except that he’s sustained a head injury concurrent with the fall. The level of blood flow from that contusion suggests that it was received post mortem. He was dead even before he hit the ground. So best guess given his age, stature and bad diet, I’d say, heart attack”.
“Bad diet?” Rose queried.
“Teeth are in worse condition than mine were after spending a week on Chocovan in the Delurie sector.” At her blank look he helpfully supplied, “Where they invented the galaxy’s best chocolate. You really think the universe was without chocolate ’til John Cadbury in 1849? Ha!”
The Doctor gave the body a last look over and rummage, pulling a black, leather wallet out of the expensive coat that, he was less than impressed to see, rivalled his own. “Richard Roddenberry. Must have been a naval officer. Look at his carte-de-visite…” he exaggeratedly over-pronounced with a click of his tongue, said tongue curled playfully on the roof of his open mouth. “…His handsome, stern faced, noble portrait photo, very imposing!”
The Doctor imitated the popular visiting card photos of the time with a strong, firm set jaw and an all too serious expression. Rose laughed, despite herself!
“Come on!” He grabbed her hand and danced an erratic waltz through the crowd as police whistles and official sounding, barked orders penetrated the macabre night.
They didn’t slow, running giddily and flashing one another smiles, until they reached the T.A.R.D.I.S.
Their faces sobered as they tumbled into the blue, wooden box and were reminded of their ailing friend’s condition, though the sentient sensation herself tried to send them a warm, encouraging smile as she brightened the pulsating lights that still worked.
Rose cleared her throat, “Sooo…very impressive back there, Sherlock. Shall I fetch your violin and deerstalker?”
“Ah, it was elementary my dear Watson,” ignoring her quipping jibes. “Though that would make you the Doctor, can’t have that. I’d be redundant and by the way, yes, I AM that impressive,” he smirked.
“Oh, you’re so full of it?”
“Full of what? Knowledge, charisma, inexplicable animal magnetism?” he leered, bumping shoulders with her.
Rose rolled her eyes and gave him a shove which he pretended to stumble from.
“So, natural causes then?”
“‘Fraid so!” his energy diminished.
“That’s good though, right?”
They stood staring at each other in companionable silence.
Doctor- “Still…a bit of murder and mayhem…”
Rose -“…a mystery or alien intervention…”
Doctor – “…a worthy game afoot…”
Rose – “…would be…”
Doctor – “…yeah, it would…maybe tomorrow…”
Rose – “…yeah…”
Doctor – “…yeah…”
Rose – “…right…”
Doctor – “…bed?”
Rose – “What?”
“Sorry, you off to bed then?” the Doctor asked, scrubbing at the hair on the back of his head.
“Oh…hmmm…yeah. That’s a good…hmmm…do I have a bed?”
“Bed?” Rose prompted, a little flushed by the ease of their teasing banter that had been so sorely missed of late.
“Right. Yeah, the T.A.R.D.I.S. has reopened some of her interior, though your room is looking a little dishevelled and covered in broken glass and, well, blood…maybe…I mean…mine’s not looking too bad, if you want?”
The Doctor rocked nervously back and forth on his converse, clad heels as he pulled distractedly at an earlobe that should by rights have elongated to at least twice the size by now. The unbidden image of the Doctor with Dumbo ears made Rose snort until she saw the dejected look in his eyes and smiled affectionately at her befuddling, endearing Doctor.
“That ok?” she hesitated.
“Course, why wouldn’t it be?” His Adam’s apple bobbed under a forced swallow.
“No reason. Thanks,” she smiled almost nervously.
“Hmmm…it should be the second door on the left now.”
Rose turned to head into the decreased bowels of the ship but stopped after a few paces and walked quickly to the Doctor, embracing him in a tight but brief hug. He didn’t even have time to properly hug her back before she was pulling away with a shy peck on the cheek and saying goodnight.
The Doctor followed her exit with his eyes before letting out a breath he didn’t know he’d been holding and spinning the sonic in the air. “Right! Back to work.”