Chapter Thirteen

On the way to the boat, Rory walked beside Rose. He kept noticing Rose was scratching furiously at her legs through her dress. After five minutes of observing this, he finally neared her side and asked what was wrong.

"My lower half is itching like crazy," Rose said softly. "It's driving me round the bend."

Rory looked around and noticed a wooden bench by a house. He told everyone to go ahead because he wanted to check on Rose. While he led Rose to the bench, he caught a glimpse of Circady and noticed he was also scratching his legs. The Doctor looked back over his shoulder and told Furnish to go on ahead and they'd meet him at the dock. Furnish shrugged, a bit confused, but he walked on. The Doctor's friends paused for a moment, unsure what to do until the Doctor told them to go on without him. The Doctor turned back to Rory and Rose while the others followed Furnish.

"What's wrong?" the Doctor said to Rory.

"My legs keep itching and it's bothering me," Rose said to the Doctor while she sat down on the bench.

"Circady seemed to have the same problem. I saw them both scratching at their legs," Rory said.

The Doctor looked back to make sure no one was around before he asked Rose to pull up her dress. She did and watched while the Doctor and Rory knelt down in front of it. They were puzzled when they noticed her legs looked shinier than before.

"Look," Rory said, putting his finger on one of the scales. "It's opened a bit."

He grimaced when he pulled his finger away and saw a sticky substance on it.

"And she's leaking something from it," he said.

The Doctor's nose wrinkled. The tuna smell was stronger now that her dress was lifted. He noticed most of the scales were opened a bit at the bottom and the secretion was leaking out onto her legs. He put his finger against her leg and sniffed it, recoiling at the stench. He watched while Rose scratched her upper leg for a moment and then he had a thought.

"Rose, I think I know how merpeople urinate," he said. "I think bodily waste is secreted through the scales. I'm guessing if you were in the ocean, the water would continually wash it away and you wouldn't have the itchy sensation."

"And that's why I stink now?" Rose said.

"Yes. Unfortunately, without the water to wash your lower body, the secretion is sticking to you and you are now the Manky Mermaid."

"Ha ha," Rose said dryly while Rory chuckled.

The Doctor looked around and noticed a barrel filled with rainwater next to a house. He noticed a small bucket beside it and walked over to it. He took the bucket, filled it with some of the rainwater and brought it back to Rose. He had her take her shoes and socks off and while Rory held it, he tipped the bucket of water over her bare legs and let the water flow onto it.

"Better?" the Doctor said, glancing at Rose.

"Yes. The itching stopped immediately," Rose said with a sigh of relief.

"Great. Now what do we do?" Rory said to the Doctor.

"Dunno. I'm hoping this isn't a continuous thing. The scales seem to be sticking against her skin again," the Doctor said, running his hand down her wet leg. "Damn it, I hope Furnish doesn't cotton on. Rose, pull you dress up some more and I'll try to wash your lower half off before we catch up to them. As for Circady, we might have to get him alone and do the same. If he'll let us…"

"Maybe have him go in the water up to his waist," Rory offered.

"Yes but we'll have to be careful not to let Furnish see him if we do that," the Doctor said.

He walked back to the barrel, filled it up while Rose hitched her dress up some more. Rory held it away from her body while the Doctor used his hand to direct some of the water onto her hips and crotch before pouring the rest all over her legs.

"Feel better?" the Doctor said.

"Yes, it's stopped now," Rose said, standing up when Rory let go of her dress.

"If I'm not around, let Rory know if it starts itching again," the Doctor said over his shoulder while he put the bucket back. "You might have to soak in the bath for a couple of hours tonight or go in the ocean and swim around."

"I'll be glad when I switch back to my normal body tomorrow," Rose said, shaking her head. "Being a mermaid isn't all it's cracked up to be."

She looked at the Doctor and Rory.

"And I am switching my body back tomorrow. I'm not staying this way forever," she said to them.

The Doctor smiled proudly.

"Good girl," he said, laying a hand on her cheek. "Because I still think Circady cares more for you than his fiancée. He doesn't seem that upset that she's missing, just upset that we got you away from him. But enough talking. We better catch up to the others before Furnish starts asking questions."

He took Rose's hand and the three of them headed towards the ocean. When they passed by several houses, they saw the ocean in the distance and several ships tied to several long docks jutting out into the water. The boats were long and bulky with an upper and lower deck and a mast with a sail that was currently tied up along with a crow's nest at the very top of it. There was a gangplank that had been lowered down to the wooden dock. The other boats had their gangplanks up and all of the bobbed up and down in the ocean, the water making a sloshing sound each time the boat lowered back down in the water. They saw River standing on the port side, watching for them. She waved and the Doctor waved back and they headed towards her. When they walked out onto the dock, she walked over to the gangplank and walked down it.

"Is everything alright?" she said softly when she reached the dock.

The Doctor told her in hushed tones what happened and River groaned.

"We wondered why Circady kept scratching," River said. "He's up there now with Amy and Tania. Amy's keeping an eye on him while I watched for you but he's going mad scratching himself."

"We'll have to take him into the ocean for a moment," the Doctor said to her. "Can you lot keep Furnish distracted while I try to get Furnish to wash himself?"

"Consider it done," River said. "Wait here. Rory, Rose, come with me. We'll try to get Circady to come down to you and we'll keep Furnish distracted."

Rose squeezed the Doctor's hand before she and Rory headed up the gangplank with River. The Doctor put his hands in his pockets and turned towards the ocean, watching the waves crash onto the shore while he waited. He heard footsteps on the gangplank and turned to see Circady and Rose coming towards him. Rose had an exasperated look on her face and the Doctor narrowed his eyes.

"Sorry, Doctor, he wouldn't come without me," Rose said when they reached him.

"No one is trying to spirit her away from you," the Doctor said tersely.

"She is my hostage so she will come with me," Circady said smugly.

The Doctor bit back his rage, not wanting to draw attention to themselves. Circady sensed his restrain and his gloating look became even more pronounced. The Doctor sighed and beckoned to Circady and Rose to follow him. As they walked off the dock, he looked back and saw River standing by the top of the gangplank, glowering at Circady's back. The Doctor took them down under the docks and told Circady to pull up his robe.

"What is this?" Circady said.

"This is me helping alleviate your itching. You need to clean your lower half and the itching will stop so get in the water and wash yourself."

Circady gave him a wary look but he pulled up his robe and waded into the surf.

"How about you? Do you need another dip in the water?" the Doctor said to Rose while she stood beside him.

"No, I'm fine," Rose said, shaking her head. "I don't think anymore of that stuff has leaked out."

The Doctor knelt down and pulled up part of her dress, checking while Circady washed himself. He noticed Circady was giving him a wary look when he noticed what the Doctor was doing but the Doctor ignored him while he examined Rose's legs.

"The scales seemed to go back into the skin now," the Doctor said, running his hand down her leg. "Apparently, it's not a continuous thing."

"Thank God for that," Rose sighed.

He dropped her dress and stood up.

"So at the wedding we'll be rolling a big aquarium up the aisle and you'll splash around in it while we exchange vows?" he said with a twinkle in his eye.

"No, I'm going to go back to the way I was even if I have to force Fish Boy to change me back," Rose said softly. "But his mum seemed to be sympathetic to me. She said she was once human but she changed voluntarily so maybe she'll make her son change me back."

"She better because if I have to force him, he'll regret it," the Doctor said with steely eyes. "And I think River will be there to help me from the way she's looking at Fish Boy."

Rose looked up at River who was giving Circady a look of death while he finished washing himself off. She turned her gaze to Rose and smiled and waved. Rose waved back and giggled when River made her hand into a gun and mimed shooting Circady.

"Yes. She seems to be very protective of me," Rose said after River winked at her and went back to watching Circady.

"Good. Better than the two of you at each other's throats," the Doctor said.

He fell silent when Circady came out of the water and dropped his robe.

"Better?" the Doctor said to him.

"Yes. Thank you," Circady said.

"You're welcome. I could have let you keep on scratching but I decided to be friendly and show you how to get that stuff off your legs. I hope you take that as a sign that I would like to be your friend."

Circady said nothing and walked past him. The Doctor rolled his eyes and took Rose's hand while they followed him up onto the dock.

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