The permanent temp

Chapter 6

Rose found nothing so she followed the sign for the MIR, wondering if John had been luckier. He had. He’d walked in to find sparks coming from the MIR itself and a woman in a dressing gown with her back to him behind the screen turning dials and putting two lots of cables together.

“Oh, sorry, must have taken a wrong turn,” John said cheerily. “Is that thing, that MIR thingy supposed to be doing that?”

“You wouldn’t understand.”

“Well I did magnetics at university, I passed that one. I was looking for my girlfriend, petite, blonde?”

Suddenly, something grabbed him from behind and held him.

“Hold him,” the woman commanded.

“I was only looking for the outpatient’s, my girlfriend’s expecting.”

“With a hospital badge?”

“Well, yeah, how am I supposed to know where the maternity unit is?”

“You won’t have to worry about that,” she assured him, getting her straw out of her handbag as the figure holding him moved his neck.

The MIR was beginning to make a noise and more sparks were coming from the wiring. John was just hoping Rose had given up and was on her way. She was, seeing white light coming from the doorway of the MIR room and wondering what was going on and if it was safe to go inside.

“Why don’t we talk about this? Maybe you can come for tea?” John asked as Miss Finnegan stroked his neck and sucked on the straw.

“Why would I want tea? Look, I even brought a straw. Steady him.”

“Who are you? What’s that straw for? Are we having milkshake? I like banana.”

“Oh, I’m a survivor, at any cost. You’re quite the funny man. If it helps, the dead don’t tend to remember.”

“I didn’t come here alone.”

She was just about to start sucking on John’s exposed neck when the door opened.

“John, are you in here?” came Rose’s voice.

The straw had a sharp edge to it and had caught John’s neck and a trickle of blood was coming from it as Miss Finnegan pulled it away in surprise.

“Well if it isn’t your little pregnant girlfriend come to rescue you? Now I can have afters.”

“Oh no you don’t, whoever you are, let him go,” Rose yelled.

“Oh, I will, when I’ve finished with him.”

“Well you might want to reconsider that because I don’t think that scanner should be doing that.”

“Maybe you’re right, let him go.”

John fell to the floor, blood on his neck.

“You can save your boyfriend or chase after me and in your condition, I’d stay here if I were you.”

With that, she shoved the straw into her handbag and left. Rose rushed over to John, grabbing a nearby sheet off the pile to stem the flow of blood coming from his neck.

“Are you ok John?”

“Yes, I need to stop that scanner. Take my sonic screwdriver, setting 56 and aim it at the blue cable.”

“How do you know which one?”

“Rose, we don’t have time, just do it, please before this thing takes the whole hospital out.”

Rose dashed over and aimed the screwdriver at the cable. The electricity seemed to dim as John told her to pull the two blue plugs apart and then the red ones. The machine itself died down and Rose rushed back to John, who had propped himself against a trolley, holding the cloth to his neck.

“You need to get that looked at.”

“It’s nothing, just a scratch, fetch that first aid kit and clean it with a medicated wipe then put a plaster on it.”

“She was going to do to you what she did to that Mr Stoker, wasn’t she?”

John just smiled, hoping she’d not taken up on the fact the woman that had just been going to have him for tea had mentioned Rose was his pregnant girlfriend. Hell, he’d been in enough trouble suggesting he met her mother. Rose was just cleaning the nick on his neck when the door opened and Martha came in.

“John, Rose, what happened here? Someone said there was electricity coming from here. Are you ok? Here, let me take a look.”

That was the last thing John wanted. “I’m fine, Rose can take care of it.”

Rose put the plaster over the wound and pulled the backing paper off, smoothing it across and John rather enjoying it. He held his hand out for her to help him up. They were about to leave when the operator came back in and looked around, seeing the cables but John pulled Rose out before the man could protest and Martha muttered a ’Sorry” after her as she followed.

The corridor was now deserted.

“Thanks for saving me back there Rose. You saved the hospital as well.”

“Yeah, well I can’t leave you alone for five minutes, can I?”

“Yeah, well, I don’t normally make a habit of getting blood sucked out of my neck.”

He held his arms out and gave her a hug, Martha tried to look the other way.

“If you two are interested, they caught Miss Finnegan, they’ve taken her to the secure unit in psychiatric. Someone identified her going into Mr Stoker’s office just before I found him and no-one else had been in. She’ll have a job getting out of there. You should go to the office and report that John. Did she try it with you?”

“Well yes but Rose came in just in time. Right, let’s get out of here then, it’s almost home time, we’ll stop by and get your things Rose.”

“Ok and you and I have to talk.”

“Really? What about?”

“You know what about, Doctor.”

“Haven’t got a clue, well except I was going to apologise for the other night, was that it? Are we still on?”

“On for what?” Martha asked as they turned back into the main hospital

“Oh, didn’t Rose tell you? I’m taking her out after work for a burger and milkshake, banana flavour of course!”

“Brilliant,” Martha muttered to herself. He’d never asked her out for a burger and a banana milkshake, not that she particularly like banana or thought burgers were healthy but that wasn’t the point.

They came to John’s office and he let them in, Rose saying goodbye to Martha before following him. She didn’t want her friend hearing what she was about to ask him, hoping he’d been spinning a tale to the female vampire about her being his girlfriend.

“So are you ok then? Martha didn’t look too happy you were taking me out after work, she was going to ask you to have a drink with her, she told me earlier. Are we still going?”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

“Oh, so you were just saying that, for Martha’s benefit? While we’re at it, what was all that about? Did you tell that woman I was your pregnant girlfriend?”

“I had to come up with some excuse for being in there, I told her I was looking for maternity. I didn’t mean it wasn’t a good idea for us to grab something to eat, I meant for me to have a drink with Martha. That’s if you still want to?”

“No, I don’t think it’s a good idea, I’ll just go straight home, if it’s all the same to you?”

“Yeah, fine. Let me at least drive you home after all that?”

“Well ok but you’re not meeting my mum,” she smiled, grabbing her shoulder bag from the bottom desk drawer.

“Right, no meeting your mother, got it. Do you forgive me? For saying you were my pregnant girlfriend?”

“I suppose I can let you off, under the circumstances. I’ll put it down to you about to have the life sucked out of you shall I? Are you ok to drive? I mean the loss of blood?”

“I didn’t lose much, I’ve lost more when I’ve cut myself shaving. You can leave the files until Monday morning, if you’re coming back?”

“Are you trying to say I can’t keep a job for a day now, Doctor? My record is three days.”

“So you keep telling me. I wasn’t sure you’d want to stay, me opening my big mouth like that? Let me make it up to you? Say tomorrow night, have dinner with me?”

“Oh, ok, I’ll think about it but you never gave me your number.”

“Right, sorry, I’ll give it to you when I drop you off.”

A short time later, John had stopped just after the bus stop, away from the crossing to let Rose out. Now he had no chance of seeing where she went. Rose got her phone out and he tapped his number into it.

“So, call me in the morning so I can make a reservation for us. I live in, well never mind, I can come and pick you up.”

“I’ll call you in the morning then and can I give you some advice? Tell Martha and put her out of her misery because I only just stopped myself saying I was going to get something to eat with you earlier.”

“Right, I’ll do that then, the next time, if she does. Sure I can’t get you to change your mind, about going somewhere now?”

“No, best not but thanks for the ride home, again.”

“Yeah, we seem to be making a habit of it, don’t we?”

“Yeah, bye then.”

“Rose, I hope today didn’t put you off? It’s not normally like that.”

“No, I didn’t get put off. See ya!”

He watched her through the rear view mirror as she disappeared around the corner. He’d now made two stupid mistakes and he hoped he wouldn’t have to continue paying for them but at least she’d said she would consider going out for dinner with him. He’d almost told her where he lived, she might not have been that impressed he lived in Chiswick.

All Rose could do for the rest of the day was think about John, how he could have died in that MIR room, did he always do stupid things like that? As if a few nights ago hadn’t been bad enough, getting chased by that creature and almost getting caught. Still, at least he’d not fired her, that was something.

The next morning, she got her phone and debated whether to accept his dinner invitation, what could go wrong with that? She was about to call him when Martha called her.

“Rose, what the hell did you say to John yesterday?”

“What?”

“You know what, he told me more or less he only wanted me as a friend, that he’d never ask me out like that and you don’t know anything about it?”

“No, it’s nothing to do with me Martha, why are you blaming me?”

“Oh I don’t know, maybe because twice now he’s hugged you, right in front of me. Do you know what it’s like Rose? To fancy someone and they don’t even know you exist outside work?”

“No, can’t say I have really but what’s it to do with me?”

“I called, like you suggested and asked if he wanted to meet me for a drink, talk about what happened and do you know what he said?”

“No, how would I?”

“He told me, came right out and said he wasn’t interested in that way, he’d had enough with Reinette with him working with her and he wasn’t going to make that mistake ever again, getting close to someone. Can you believe it?”

“So, what’s that got to do with me?”

“Oh come off it Rose, you’re interested in him too, don’t deny it. Well I’ve got news for you, you’re out of luck as well, he said he won’t be making that mistake again and you work for him.”

The realisation hit Rose as she hung up. She’d been about to accept his dinner invitation but it was just that, wasn’t it? Just an invitation to have an evening meal with him, no need to make a big deal out of it, was there? She didn’t have to tell Martha after all and he certainly wouldn’t tell her that was for sure. She’d told him to tell Martha he wasn’t interested in that way so it was her fault.

She dialled the number John had put in her phone and waited for him to answer but John was having his own crisis. He’d had a message from Reinette to say she was coming back next week, her new job wasn’t as glamorous as she’d thought it would be and she was in talks with the hospital to come back. He didn’t want her though, she’d left him to go off and where had they got in their relationship anyway?

So he got up the courage to send her one back saying it was over and if she came back, good for her but he wasn’t picking up where they’d left off. Reinette had taken it the wrong way, which had got him in an even deeper mess so he’d replied with a ‘Too late, I’ve got another girlfriend, her name is Rose.’ Now all that remained was for Reinette to either not get her old job back or for him to pray Rose would never find out. His phone rang, an unknown number.

“Hello, who’s this?”

“It’s Rose, blimey, had you forgotten you gave me your number yesterday?”

“No. Hello Rose.”

“Hi, Martha’s a bit upset with you.”

“Is she? Why’s she upset with me?”

“If you don’t know, I’m not telling you. Is the invitation for dinner tonight still open then?”

“Oh, yes Rose, it most certainly is still open. May I call for you, say seven?”

“How about I meet you where you dropped me off?”

“If I didn’t know better Rose, I’d think you didn’t want me to know exactly where you live.”

“It’s not that, it’s just hard to explain how to get around the back to the car park then you might not want to leave your car there. When you bring me back, I’ll show you where it’s safe to park and you can walk me to my block, how’s that?”

“Then I look forward to it. Do you like Chinese?”

“Yeah, ok so I’ll wait by the bus stop at seven, will you be coming that way?”

“No, the other way but stay there so I can look for you. See you tonight then, brilliant!”

John smiled to himself. Rose had forgiven him for being an idiot, twice and had accepted his dinner date but what had he just told Martha? He’d said he wasn’t going to get fooled by someone he worked with but Rose was only his temp, technically she wasn’t in his employment, she could be replaced at any time but she’d taken to his computer system quite easily, he didn’t want to replace her, well not after just one evening out. He’d wait and see how it went.

Just after six, Rose was getting ready for her ‘date’. Her mother was watching from the doorway.

“So, is it such a good idea to go out with this John then? I mean, if Martha fancies him?”

She’d not yet told her mother he was her new boss.

“That’s up to him Mum, he asked me out. He told me he’s only friends with Martha, what she does about it is nothing to do with me so I’m not stealing him away from her, if that’s what you mean?”

“Well she might look at it that way.”

“So, what if she does? He’s not dating her or anything, she’s never been out with him so she doesn’t have the exclusive on him, does she? He can ask out who he likes but it’s just one date, I think he feels bad about the other night.”

“Oh well you’ll probably only have the one date then, you’ll be back with Mickey next week.”

“I’ve not seen him and I’m not bothered if I do, I’m through with him.”

“Whatever you say Rose, you’re the one who keeps going back all the time, he only has to phone you and you’re off running to him.”

“I’m over him Mum, just leave it will ya?”

Just before seven, she put her jacket on and picked up her bag and keys.

“Right, I won’t be late back and no, I’m not bringing him back with me. I’ll let him walk me downstairs.”

“I never said anything did I?”

“You didn’t have to Mum. See ya later.”

“Yeah, have good time, you may as well get a good meal out of him.”

Rose was at the bus stop with a few minutes to spare, watching in the opposite direction and trying to remember what car it was. It was very rare she got picked up by car and even rarer she was being taken anywhere other than for a pie and a pint at the local pub. She was determined to make the most of it. She thought John’s car was approaching as one slowed down, then she saw him wave to her. She used the crossing to get over the road and got in the passenger seat, a bit embarrassed she had the same dress on as she wore the other night and hoped he wouldn’t notice.

“Hello Rose, been waiting long?”

“No, a few minutes. I could have waited on this side of the road.”

“No matter, I just need to turn around, I’m taking you somewhere near where I live, if that’s ok?”

Twenty minutes later, John had parked outside a new Chinese restaurant Donna had told him about and just hoped she wasn’t out with her new boyfriend. The evening was going well he thought, he’d managed to make her laugh then they’d got back in his car and driven to a quiet pub, him only having non-alcoholic lager again as in the restaurant and just after ten, he said he would drive her home.

“So, do you forgive me for being an idiot the other night then?”

“I told you, there was really no need John, you got yourself out of it.”

“Yeah, I suppose I did but you did really well yesterday, I think the Tardis likes you.”

Rose laughed. “Thanks, I think. So, I’ll see you Monday morning then? With the milk.”

John smiled as she led him around the estate and he stopped just by the playground.

“We can walk from here, it’s not far and your car will be ok here.”

“Good, long as I don’t get lost coming back?”

“Nah, it’s not complicated. I had a great time.”

“Yeah, me too, it’s been a while since I took someone out.”

Now was Rose’s chance to find out if what Martha had said was true or not. They got out of the car and walked across the playground, Rose taking his arm, which made him smile.

“What about your girlfriend?”

“We didn’t have much time to go out really, she worked different hours, I used to go meet her at the pub near the hospital and she never really wanted to go out at weekends, said she was studying.”

“Oh, that must have been awkward then?”

“Yeah. The thing was though, it gave everyone the wrong impression I suppose and when she left, well she broke my heart.”

“Sorry.”

They had reached the back of Rose’s block.

“Here we are then, I can get in this way. Thanks for taking me out.”

“Any time and maybe on Monday, we can get that burger?”

“Maybe. Goodnight John.”

“Yeah, goodnight Rose, tonight was brilliant, fantastic.”

She moved closer, intending to kiss his cheek but he caught her and instead, he kissed her. She let it last a few seconds then broke it off. She’d never been kissed like that before but he was her new boss, he didn’t date anyone who he worked with, according to Martha or was her friend just trying to put her off because he’d told her he wasn’t interested in her?

Rose broke away and ran off to the door, letting it lock behind her and leaving John looking bewildered. Had he gone too far? Wasn’t that what he was supposed to do after taking a woman out for the evening? Reinette had wasted no time snogging him once he’d seen her to the apartment she shared near the hospital but she’d never invited him in except for the odd time or two. They’d mostly gone to his place and then she’d insisted he brought her back, she’d never stayed the night even when he’d finally persuaded her to actually have sex with him, which hadn’t been nearly enough times as he’d liked.

Now Reinette was wanting him back but not for a repeat of before. Was Rose mad at him though? He’d find out on Monday – or not then he’d have to call Donna again and ask for another temp, how embarrassing was that?

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