Pairing- Ten/Rose, Five/Rose, Five/Tegan
Spoilers- Between Age of Steel and Idiots Lantern and during the Black Orchid.
Disclaimer- I only own this in a timey-whimey swirley kind of way.
Summary- Rose takes a moment to clear her head only to have someone new come to cloud it.
A/N- My first attempt at Five. But he is really cute.
“It was a simple miscalculation, Rose,” the Doctor snapped, annoyed with her sudden distrust of his flying abilities.
Rose spun away from the door she was prepared to slam behind her and glared at him. “You said we were headed for the Metabui galaxy in the thirteen thousands, not flipping England—again.”
He slammed the brakes into a halt and glowered at her over the console. “England happens to be a ripe, wonderfully exotic place.”
“Unless you live there!” she retorted with a snort and clenched her fists against her growing anger. “Forget it.”
“What is your problem?” The Doctor asked, not sure he wanted to know the answer.
Rose had picked fault with almost everything he’d done since leaving Mickey behind on that parallel Earth.
She’d refused his hug and asked to be taken home to her mother—her mother!—and then she’d argued with his decision to involve himself in the fight of the R’ticulans, she’d disparaged his frigate-driving on Hellestius, she’d wandered off on Dessus and flatly refused to respond to any of his flirtations.
Even worse, she’d not laughed once since the doors closed on Mr. Mickey, and the Doctor was getting somewhat desperate to see that happy smile back on her face.
He’d chosen the Metabui Galaxy because they had some of the most beautiful scenery in the universe. The dancing suns and exploding butterflies were breath-taking and would incite anyone to laughter.
However, instead of landing there the TARDIS had seen fit to drop them back on Earth.
Rose just shook her head, ignoring his question and bit her lip wearily. “What year is it?”
He checked the console. “1925.”
Rose frowned thoughtfully. “Is it a safe year? War over and that?”
The Doctor licked his lips and tried to coax a smile out of her. “Don’t you know your own history?”
But instead of making her smile at him, his words just seemed to make her even icier. “I did my nails during humanities. I’m not clever enough to actually pay attention.”
And with those very confusing words Rose stormed off to the wardrobe to get dressed, leaving the Doctor baffled behind her.
“Roaring twenties,” Rose mumbled as her fingers drifted along the racks of clothes. “Flapper dresses and that, yeah?” She glanced up at the TARDIS walls which flickered in agreement and the rails spun to reveal a row of appropriate costumes edged in tassels and fringes.
Rose ran her fingers along the trimmings and gave a rueful smile. “I did it again, didn’t I? Just lost my rag at ‘im.” She plucked a dress at random, not even seeing the low cut and leg baring black outfit. She continued as she stripped and stepped into the mini-dress. “It’s just, like, I see him and I get mad for no reason, but I can’t help it.”
She wriggled into the tight dress and slipped some heels on before twisting her hair up, still lost in thought.
She’d started to talk to the TARDIS after her first Doctor exploded into a mysterious pile of pinstripes and mania and, after getting some surprising feedback from the old girl, had continued to use the TARDIS as a sounding board and a fellow companion.
Rose loved the TARDIS, feeling closer to the blue box than she did even to the Doctor.
It was the TARDIS who’d helped Rose through the Doctor’s regeneration and Cassandra’s possession. It was the TARDIS who took her to the biggest shopping centre in the universe and refused to move until Rose had some quality shopping time. It was the TARDIS who’d helped Rose to see that Sarah-Jane was no threat and she’d even hinted to Rose that Sarah-Jane would make a great travelling companion. It was the TARDIS who’d suggested that Rose go home to see her mother after Mickey left and it was the TARDIS who’d stood there silent and supportive when…
Rose closed her eyes.
“I’m not going down that road again,” she muttered, casting her thoughts aside before turning to face the mirror, almost shocked to see the beautiful woman staring back at her.
The flapper dress suited her well and, although the feather in the headband felt a little ridiculous, Rose loved the swish of the layers of fringe on the dress. She smiled to herself.
“Okay, girl, lets go party like its 1925.”
The Doctor was waiting in the console room, hands in his pockets and head ducked down when Rose walked in, her heels clicking on the grating.
He glanced up, his mouth open to speak…and stopped dead, his eyes wide.
Rose looked down self-consciously. “What?”
He gaped like a goldfish. “Nice…dress.”
“1920’s, right?” She straightened her feather.
He nodded absently, seemingly unable to take his eyes off her. “You—”
Actually he couldn’t find the words to tell her how she looked. Beautiful, elegant, delicious, delicate and yet sensual and innocent all wrapped up in one. His fingers wanted to dance along the fringes and he wanted to wrap his tongue and teeth around that low neckline and impossibly thin straps and tug with his teeth until it snapped, revealing what was tantalisingly hinted at.
Rose sighed at his silence, so telling in its disapproval. “I’ll do, yeah?”
He nodded again and watched intrigued as the tassels danced as she walked out of the TARDIS.
Only the closing of the door got him moving, but it couldn’t wipe the sway of those hips out of his head.
Rose squinted up at the bright sky and warm wind. “You sure this is England?”
“Hmm?” He tore his eyes away from her to take in his surroundings. “Oh yes, I’d say maybe early summer—June 11th 1:04.”
Rose spun, eyes wide at his confidence. “Wow. That’s better than the usual ‘somewhere in the 1800’s-ish’.”
“I cheated,” he admitted and pointed up at the clock on the wall near to them proclaiming the time and date and, for the first time, Rose noticed where their surroundings.
“Train station?” She wasn’t impressed. It had clearly seen better days, probably before the war. It was a very cheap run down affair without even a café or proper waiting room to break the monotony. Just brick walls and dirty panes of glass smeared with dust and grit and dead spiders. The walls were crumbling and someone had attempted to paint them a jolly green to liven up the place. It failed.
Rose suspected that it was the paint that was actually holding it all together.
A faint horn sounded in the distance and the Doctor’s face lit up.
“Steam trains, Rose!” The Doctor shoved his hands into his pockets. “I always wanted to be a train driver.”
“Your last body would have been better at shovelling coal,” Rose said without thinking and bit her lip.
The Doctor stilled slightly and then nodded. “Yes, I used to have more muscles, didn’t I? Of course I also had big ears and a large nose too, so let’s be grateful for small mercies, shall we? Now, let’s see where we are.” He strode off even as Rose fought the instinctive response to his belittling of his former self.
She’d had no problem with big ears and a large nose. In fact, she was beginning to prefer them over mercurial moods and random acts of abandonment.
The Doctor was examining a board stuck to one of the walls and beamed as he read the notices, his irritation forgotten.
“Village fete,” he announced pleased, “next Saturday, probably won’t be around for that sorry to say, haven’t been to a fete in a while. Possibly because I didn’t like the word ‘fete’—sounds a bit too much like fate. Not that I believe in fate, destiny or even karma otherwise I could see myself coming back as something quite disgusting.”
“A mynah bird,” Rose said imagining a shiny black bird with glasses and sonic screwdriver. “They talk a lot, don’t they?”
“Rose Tyler, are you saying I’m loquacious?” he teased.
Rose wiggled her eyebrows. “If you are, you should put cream on it.”
He laughed at that and went back to reading the notices. “Bingo in the community hall—ooh, love that; legs eleven, big fat ladies, all the two’s. Great game! Catches on with Martians you know, except they tend to count like trolls; one, two, many, lots. Game is over quite quickly.” He peered closer. “There’s a big hunt on in a week and the Farmer’s pumpkin competition.”
Rose joined him, one notice in particular catching her eye. “Hey, says here that there is a fancy dress do at Cranleigh Hall.”
“Cranleigh Hall?” the Doctor frowned. “Why is that familiar?”
Rose gave a little dance in her pretty outfit. “Is this fancy enough, do you think?”
But the Doctor wasn’t listening. “Cranleigh, Cranleigh.”
“Hello, am I talking to myself here?”
“What?” the Doctor jumped. “Yes, sounds great. Fancy dress. I love a party. Should have a banana in here somewhere. Always take a banana.”
He smiled towards Rose, inviting her to share the joke, but she was looking away, her smile suddenly fading.
The Doctor looked at her in concern. “Rose?”
Rose nodded to a sleek black car waiting to one side of the station with a smart looking man frowning down at a pocket watch.
He spotted the Doctor and Rose and waved them over. “I say, do you have the time? I fear I’m dashed late for a party at Cranleigh Hall?”
The Doctor beamed. “What a coincidence, it’s just gone one o clock and we’re on our way to Cranleigh Hall.”
“What a spot of luck I happened by.” The man came closer and Rose had to smile at his “costume”. He was wearing an old fashioned General’s outfit complete with fake medals and insignia. “I’m James Denby-Werthington. You are?”
“I’m Doctor John Smith and this is Miss Rose Tyler.” The Doctor shook his hand as James smiled quizzically at Rose.
“Of the Boston Tyler’s?”
“Powell Estate, actually,” Rose shot back with a grin.
“I see, well, can’t be standing around. Let me give you a lift, old boy.”
“Is this your car?”
Mr. Denby-Werthington smiled smugly. “Like it do you? Top of the range.”
The Doctor ran his hands over the contours of the machine. “Is it a Crossley 14?”
“Know your engines, do you?” Mr. Denby-Werthington nodded. “Good lad. Yes it’s the new model, only out this year, in fact. The new 14 has four wheel brakes as standard and a greater track and modified front axle.”
“Flexibility?” the Doctor asked.
“Up to 54mph, petrol consumption less than 30 to the gallon.”
And, to Rose surprise, the Doctor actually sounded impressed.
It was this that seemed to cement the Doctor in Mr. Denby-Werthington’s mind as a ‘sterling fellow’ and as they roared down the tracks towards Cranleigh Hall, the Doctor and Mr. Denby-Werthington became fast friends.
Rose let her head drift back against the leather seats and let talks of engines and horsepower wash over her.
She was well on her way to falling asleep when they finally pulled up at Cranleigh Hall and the party disembarked.
The place was an enormous ivory coloured mansion that was possibly bigger than Rose’s entire estate. The monstrosity sat on the landscape soaring at least three stories high and covered with windows everywhere.
The grounds vanished off in a green haze miles in the distance and trees littered the horizon, cutting the view off from any possible neighbours. From her vantage point Rose could see at least one tennis court and a pavilion set on the grounds with a full dance floor pulling at her attention. The people were dancing in the warm sun until it became too much and then sauntering off to the buffet table for long, tall glasses of lemonade.
A huge butler dressed primly in black and white hurried over to relieve Mr. Denby-Werthington of his keys and offered to park the car.
“Car? My good man, don’t you see this is a—”
Fearing another lecture on his magnificent machine, Rose hurried off with the Doctor in quick pursuit James Denby-Werthington’s voice echoing behind them.
They were stopped by a tall man wearing a large grey Judges wig and long ornate jacket with gold buttons.
“King James?” The Doctor guessed.
“What?” The man glanced down confused and then laughed. “No, I’m Sir Robert Muir. Lord Cranleigh asked me to check and make sure all of our guests were comfortable. You are, I presume?”
“Comfortable, oh yes,” the Doctor nodded happily. “Great bash.”
“No, I meant; you are a guest?” Sir Robert was somewhat apologetic. “You are on the guest list? Only I haven’t seen you before.”
“I have my invitation here somewhere,” the Doctor dug into his pockets and pulled out the familiar black wallet which housed the psychic paper. “See.”
Sir Robert stared at it for a second, seeing what he wanted to see and then smiled. “Of course: Doctor Smith and companion. I say, we seem to be inundated with doctors today. Poor Doctor Findlay will be most put out.”
“I’ll be sure not to cure anyone then.”
“I do like your costume,” Sir. Robert enthused. “Quite exotic, I must say. Something from the continent perhaps? A trifle risqué for my tastes.”
The Doctor looked at his pinstripes, not sure whether or not to be affronted. “Thank you.”
Rose smiled at his blasé answer and turned to watch the party. There were people dressed in some very odd costumes all dancing to the gramophone playing a jaunty tune in the background. Rose distantly remembered the current song playing at some party of her Nan’s and the older ladies went mad, getting up and shaking their legs.
Rose had just assumed that someone had told them they’d got wrinkles in their tights but if this lot were any indication it was supposed to be like that.
She found her shoulders moving to the beat and found the sudden urge to join in with the leg-shakers.
“Excuse me, Sir Robert?” Rose interrupted the two men who were deep in discussion. “What’s this dance called?”
“Hmm, oh, it’s the Charleston, my dear. A delightful dance for the younger ones.” He seemed suddenly shy. “Far too exuberant for us older ones, I’m afraid.”
“Oh nonsense,” the Doctor shook his head. “You’re only as young as you feel.”
Rose raised an eyebrow. “So are you gonna dance then, Doctor?”
He gave one look towards the energetic dancers and then looked back at Rose in horror. “Me? No. I don’t dance, Rose, you know that. Well known for it, in fact. Ask anyone they’ll say the Doctor doesn’t dance. In fact, ask Sir Robert here.”
Sir Robert frowned. “You don’t dance, sir?”
“See!” the Doctor pointed at him frantically. “He knows and he’s only just met me.”
“All right,” Rose shot back. “Keep your shirt on. I was only asking.”
He didn’t have to sound like he was disgusted at the very idea.
Sir Robert just looked between the somewhat annoyed Rose and the perplexed Doctor before clearing his throat. “Come and greet our host.”
“Actually I need a drink.” Rose was really thirsty and just wanted to get away for a moment. The Doctor looked at her uneasily, obviously wondering on her sudden desire to be away from him, but Sir Robert was immediately solicitous.
“Of course, my dear, you must be parched. Simmons!”
A black clad butler appeared almost miraculously at his elbow making the Doctor jump in surprise and glance around for the sudden penguin-esque butler invasion.
“Ah, Simmons, Miss Tyler here is thirsty, escort her to the drinks table and make sure she has whatever she needs.”
The butler bowed. “Very good, Sir.”
Rose smiled at Sir Robert and followed the butler, hips swaying. Sir Robert watched her go ruefully.
“Oh, if only I was twenty years younger.”
And five stones lighter. The Doctor frowned as his eyes, too, followed Rose, wondering what was wrong with her that had her scurrying away from him so quickly.
Was she regretting leaving Mickey? Was she regretting even coming along with him? Was this too much for her and did she finally want to be taken home? A pang of fear crossed his hearts and he resisted the urge to chase after her and beg her forgiveness for everything that he’d ever done wrong and promise her whatever she wanted if only she’d come with him and never leave.
He clenched his fists and turned back to Sir Robert. “Yes. Maybe we should see our host, hmm?”
Rose made her way behind the butler to an elaborate table just in front of the glass panelled conservatory laid out with tall tureens, silver platters and round buffet dishes full to brimming with delicious food of every kind. A tall glass jug stood to one side and the crystal clear water made her realise exactly how thirsty she was.
“Would Miss like a brandy?”
“Brandy?” Rose wondered whether she should chance it, but the rumbling in her stomach reminded her that hard liquor on an empty stomach was a bad idea and she just shook her head. “Lemonade or even water’s okay for me, cheers.”
The butler didn’t blink at her unusual wording, only poured her a long cool glass of lemonade. Rose grinned as the bubbles tickled her nose.
The party was in full swing now and she could see the intricate care that had gone into the costumes. Henry the Eighth was dancing with a Princess from Medieval times. A sailor boy was dancing—badly—with a purple butterfly and another purple butterfly was spinning around with a courtier. A flower girl was tucked against a pirate and a sheikh was stepping on the feet of Bo-peep.
Rose giggled to herself, wondering what costumes her friends would have worn to such a party. Shareen probably would have gone all out in a leather cat suit, giving half the men heart attacks. Keisha would have been a French Maid, getting them burned at the stake and Mickey would have gone as Batman, complete with cape, totally confusing everyone not from eighty years in the future.
Rose felt a sudden pang at the thought of Mickey and glanced down at her drink.
She had been really nasty to the Doctor since Mickey left and it wasn’t his fault. What with her ‘dad’ rejecting her, missing Jack, leaving her mum and friends and now not even having Mickey around she just felt so cross all the time. It wasn’t helped by her own constant comparisons of herself to the capable and stylish Sarah-Jane and Madame De Pompadour.
She wouldn’t give up travelling with the Doctor for anything, but she was allowed to think about the things gone; she wasn’t a Time Lord. He could push things away but Rose had to deal with them.
With a resolute nod Rose decided that it was time she got over this childish behaviour and acted her age. She’d start by taking the Doctor a drink.
Rose picked up a glass of lemonade and turned to find him in the crowds.
“I don’t dance, Rose, you know that. Well known for it, in fact. Ask anyone they’ll say the Doctor doesn’t dance.”
Unless of course she was a bloody French courtesan in gold and yellow.
Rose gasped in dismay as she watched part of her nightmare unfold in front of her.
The Doctor was in the arms of a woman dressed exactly like Madame De Pompadour; same dress, same blonde hair piled on top of her head, same exquisite jewellery and he was dancing with her with every sign of enjoyment.
A wave of pain hit Rose right in the heart. She’d been hurting ever since she’d watched the Doctor ride away on a white horse to save the life of Reinette, since she’d seen the look in his eyes of desire and affection that went beyond anything she’d ever seen directed at her.
She had tried hiding it, brushing it off, but this… this was like having it rubbed in her face.
“I don’t dance, Rose, you know that.”
“No,” she said out loud. “You just don’t dance with me.”
Rose slammed her glass on the table and turned to the butler. “I’ll have that brandy now, thanks.”
The butler handed her a glass of the warm coloured liquid and Rose stormed away from the party towards the back of the house, just wanting to be alone.
The Doctor grimaced as Lady Cranleigh squeezed his hands tightly and yanked his arm forward.
As the hostess she’d insisted on dancing with every single one of her guests and the Doctor happened by when she had no partner.
No amount of bluster had put the rather austere lady off and she’d forced him into a very uncomfortable dance, like an expert huntress cornering her prey. Lady Cranleigh might look graceful in her French ball dress but she was somewhat heavy handed and was determined to lead.
With the Doctor at entirely the wrong height for her and his own two left feet, they were a little unevenly matched and he wished Rose would ‘happen’ by and rescue him. Then together they could discover what was so familiar about this place and why they were here. He knew that this whole set up was prodding at him, but with over 900 years and at least seven excruciating regenerations in his mind, the memory was somewhat elusive.
As was Lady Cranleigh’s aim.
He was forced to bite his tongue and smiled as Lady Cranleigh trod on his foot—again.
Rose had found that there was a large balcony that ran all the way around the house and it was a perfect place for sitting in misery.
Situated right at the opposite end of the house in front of another glass conservatory she could still hear the faint strains of music and the laughter coming from the party goers but she was in no mood to join in anymore.
The sun was at the right angle to shine off the glass panels, breaking into splinters of light and casting rainbows on the emerald green grass in front of her. Rose settled herself on the porch steps and stared at the display, feeling content to be on her own.
Having to bring herself up when Jackie was too busy making ends meet had instilled in her a strong self-confidence from a very early age. Rose knew that there was nothing she couldn’t do if she put her mind to it. She knew the Doctor and knew that he cared about her. She knew that she was pretty, knew that she was honest and she knew that she was special.
Then a woman had walked into her life who was all those things and so much more and Rose’s confidence had taken a bit of a bashing.
Reinette was beautiful, graceful, and elegant and had snatched the Doctor’s hearts away from Rose by being so much more than Rose could ever be.
Rose looked down into her glass of brandy and frowned. “Who wants to be accomplished anyway?” she muttered and took a quick swallow of her drink.
“Not me,” said a voice from behind her. “I should infinitely prefer to be in bed.”
Rose half-turned from her perch to see a man dressed in a harlequin costume standing just outside the door, the lights turning his costume into a dazzling spiral of light.
The man was tall and handsome with fine blond hair and a cheery smile, but his brown eyes were sad. “Sorry to interrupt,” he said with real apology in his voice. “I took a wrong turning somewhere about three miles into the labyrinth of the house. Suffice to say I brought no string.” He opened his arms to show they were empty and Rose shared his small smile.
“I followed the balcony around,” she admitted. “I daren’t go inside else they’d never find me again.”
“Quite!” He stepped onto the veranda and looked out over the cricket pavilion. “I was out there earlier, you know. It was a beautiful day for cricket.”
“Never been one for cricket much,” Rose admitted. “I never could understand it.”
“It took me a while to learn, I must admit,” he offered in sympathy and Rose wondered if he was having her on, trying to be kind. Most men seemed to understand the game from birth.
They shared another smile and he shook himself. “Sorry, am I spoiling your introspection? I can leave you if you’d rather.”
Rose shrugged. “I’m just moping.”
“Misery loves company.” The man sat down beside her with a grin. “I always say you should never drink alone.”
Rose waved her glass at him. “Do you have one?”
He patted his colourful costume and frowned. “Ah, no.”
Rose found herself giving him another smile as she handed him the glass. “You can have mine. Brandy’s not really my thing.”
“No cricket and no brandy,” he nodded. “You know, it’s amazing what you can find out about a person in only a few moments.”
“You love cricket, you like brandy and you have an unhealthy taste on costumes,” she shot back quickly.
He looked down at himself and wrinkled his nose in distaste. “It is a trifle garish isn’t it? Not me at all, although I have worn some odd outfits in my time.”
“Like what?” Rose was warming to him.
“Oh,” he waved his hand casually. “Opera capes, purple velvet, tartan trousers and a scarf about twenty feet long.”
“All at the same time?”
He chuckled, the sound melodic and soft. “Heavens no, gosh that would be odd, wouldn’t it? I do have more fashion sense this time around. Besides this was picked out for me by our host, Lord Cranleigh. We…my friends and I…are guests here. We rather gate-crashed, I’m afraid.”
“Sounds like me and my friend. Just turned up, hoping they wouldn’t throw us out or, ya know, try to cut off our heads.”
He blinked surprised. “Does that happen often?”
Rose nodded with a laugh. “More often than you’d think.”
They settled into companionable silence for a long moment before he spoke again. “I hope it’s not too indecorous of me, but why are you not enjoying the party with the others?”
“What’s indecorous mean?” Rose asked curiously.
“Impolite. I don’t wish to appear rude. But a woman as beautiful as yourself shouldn’t really be out here alone.”
Rose looked away a blush colouring her cheeks. “Yeah, well, I’m not as beautiful as I thought.”
“Hmm, doubtful and yet somehow heartfelt.” He turned to face her. “And by that I deduce you have relationship troubles.”
“Got me.” She sighed and rubbed her forehead. “Guy trouble. It’s always men. No offence.”
“None taken.” He was cheerfully oblivious. “Care to tell me about it? I have been called a good listener; a trouble shared and all that.”
Rose leaned back against the wooden struts of the balcony. “Oh, you know, you meet a man who saves your life, offers to show you everything then he changes and goes off with a princess…or was she a Queen? Whatever. The world sucks.”
“I see.” He cradled his head in his hands and smiled ruefully at her. “Blonde?”
“The cad!” He took in her hair colour and blushed. “Not that being blonde is necessarily bad, of course.”
Rose laughed, a genuine sound of amusement. “I don’t know what I was expecting. I mean she’s beautiful and accomplished and elegant and all the things I’ll never be.”
“Oh, I don’t know—”
“I do,” Rose interrupted. “I’m not clever, like book-clever. I don’t garden or embroider or whatever. Can’t sew to save my life.”
“Thankfully few life or death situations require the talents of a seamstress.”
“Don’t ride horses.”
“It’s not a prerequisite for life.”
“Don’t even like horses, really.”
He shook his head in sympathy. “Nasty biting brutes. Better off driving a train.”
Rose’s lips twitched. “My cooking is toxic.”
“Could be useful in those life or death situations, acidic regulators eating through steel.”
“I don’t like wearing heels and I can’t dance the Charleston.”
“No, me neither,” he sighed and looked away. He looked like a man who had something on his mind and, as he plucked a blade of grass and twirled it in his fingers, Rose thought that maybe he understood because he was having the same problems.
Rose regarded him idly. “Relationship troubles?”
“Hmm.” He agreed absent-mindedly and then flushed as he realised what he’d admitted. “Of sorts.”
“Tell me,” Rose smirked. “I’m a good listener.”
“Oh you know,” he teased. “I save the girl, offer to show her everything and all she wants to do is go home because I’ve changed. Oh, and there is a princess there too.”
“Where?” She giggled.
“I travel with three companions. A boy genius who, unfortunately, has reached the ‘terrible teens’ I think they call it. He sulks, mopes, moans and whines and thinks he knows better than me.”
“On occasion,” he grinned back at her. “I won’t tell him that though. He’d be insufferable. Then there are the two women I travel with. One is a beautiful princess of an entire Empire. She’s intelligent, sweet and very capable. She has a quiet temperament and thinks I’m wonderful. The other is a fierce tempest of a woman with a brash personality, abrasive language, hot temper and snappy retorts that wound. She’s incapable of being quiet and lets all know her opinion whether they wish it or not. She’s loyal and picky and tempestuous and she makes me so very angry that on occasion I do want to strangle her.”
Rose blinked at the change from the soft sweet language of affection to the passionate rant of a man obviously in over his head.
“Hate to tell you this,” she said with sympathy, “but you’ve got it bad.”
He sighed and sat back. “Yes, I rather feared so. I only wish Tegan had half the good opinion of me that Nyssa has. Then again,” he added regretfully, “perhaps she has just cause.”
“Why?” Rose was curious as to why this woman would have anything other than a good opinion of the man. Admittedly she had only known him for a minute or two but he seemed like such a nice guy—a proper gentleman.
“She wishes for me to take her home, only I can’t seem to get her there. I keep getting…lost.”
Rose rubbed her nose in thought. “Well, maybe it’s like you don’t want to get her home, ya know, deep down. Even if she don’t like you, you wanna keep her around for as long as you can.”
He stared at the patterns on the grass assimilating her words and then nodded slowly. “That does make sense. It’s a very Machiavellian form of self punishment. I’ve often been my own worse enemy.”
Rose patted his arm. “You could always try to make her like you more, you know. No girl is immune to a bit of charm, flattery, bit of attention and if that fails…”
He threw his head back and laughed and Rose felt a secret thrill that she had made this man do so. He seemed quite serious and there was a real feeling of release in that outburst of joviality.
“So in order to apologise to you, your man need only give you chocolate?”
The smile on her face faded. “Nah, the D—he wouldn’t do anything like that. Like I said, I’m not posh enough for him. I’m not a Queen or a royal tree or anything.”
Rose blinked. Yes, good idea, mention the Forest of Cheem in front of a man from the twenties. They’d sent her off to the nut house. “Uh, royalty,” she amended. “Sorry, it was the brandy.”
He gave her an odd look and then smiled. “Of course. It seems we have impossible relationships, Miss.”
He straightened. “I have always said, however, that I like to six impossible things before breakfast, like Alice. So maybe we shouldn’t give up just yet.”
Rose shook her head and settled back. “Before he changed we were close, like dead close. We could finish off each other’s thoughts and everything and then he just sort of…went. You know? He’s not mine anymore, at least I don’t think so and I’ve got to get used to him just being a friend.”
“Oh dear,” he sighed in sympathy. “Sounds like this princess was the last straw.”
A small smile played around Rose’s mouth. “Well, like I said she was pretty special. She had this dress that just glittered and she was so clever and gentle but strong, yeah. I actually liked her.”
“Which makes it worse.”
“Yeah. I can see why he’d prefer that kind of sophisticated girl. I mean I don’t like dresses or know which fork to eat with at a fancy party. If someone ever gave me a serving girl I’d just give ‘er back. He’s almost royalty himself, so I suppose like with like.”
“Not necessarily,” the man offered softly. “In my situation the princess is perfect for me in the abstract sense. Nyssa is gentle and harmonious, she has gentility and sensitivity, understands my nature and the sciences that govern my life. Tegan has no idea, she rubs me up the wrong way in more ways than one and yet it is Tegan that I prefer. I do prefer brash to beauty.”
Rose smiled. “I wish others felt that way.”
“As do I, I wish your friend could see the beauty in you too. I see it.”
“You don’t even know me,” Rose teased. “I could be vicious and mean. A right indecorous…timorous beastie.”
He scoffed. “Really, what a thing to say. Highly unlikely.”
“S’what he said.”
“Then he is a fool,” he said gently. “A fool who hurt you. How?”
“He went charging off on a white horse to save the damsel in distress,” Rose blurted. “Leaving me stranded with no idea if he’d ever come back.”
“But he did?”
“I waited, five and half hours, like a right Muppet. Just on the off-chance that he’d come back for me. He did, but he wanted her.” Rose sniffed and laughed damply as she pushed tears of self pity away. “I so don’t wanna complain anymore. Me and him are friends and that’s it.”
He was silent for a moment. “Now, if I could only be friends with Tegan I might feel slightly more positive about all this. But she regards me with the distain of a kidnapper. I do tell her that I am trying to get her home but she simply ignores my words and insults me at every turn.”
“She could like you,” Rose offered her own brand of sympathy. “In the playground girls always fought with the boys they liked. If she didn’t like you, she’d just ignore you.”
“Oh!” he sat up, his eyes bright. “I like that explanation, yes Tegan is simply too insecure to allow her feelings for me to shine and so she takes it out in abuse. Yes,” he mused, “I feel comfortable with that justification.”
His optimism was amusing and Rose turned to watch him as his eyes followed the light flickering on the grass. Even though there was naïve cheerfulness in his expression Rose had experience of seeing through facades and could see a deep seated sadness in his eyes. It was like he held a secret that was too terrible and he had to bear it alone.
“Are you okay?”
He nodded with no real feeling. “Of course.”
Without conscious thought to her actions Rose leaned over and wrapped her arms around him, squeezing him tightly.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered. “Sorry for whatever hurts you. I wish I could help. But I’m here now if you need me.”
He had stiffened when her arms surrounded him but at her words he relaxed and leaned into her embrace as if he’d been needing it for some time.
“Perhaps I do,” he said softly into her hair. “I shouldn’t need anyone and I don’t deserve the comfort. I was never one to follow the rules and have paid the price so many times for my arrogance. My companions too, they suffer. Perhaps Tegan is right to want to leave. My life is fraught with danger and with every escapade I see her light dimming. The death that follows me, follows her and I don’t want it to. They are all so young, so very young and I feel every inch my age.”
He closed his eyes in anguish and Rose tightened her grip, moving until she was almost cradling him in her arms.
She had never been able to watch someone be in pain and not do anything about it.
The Doctor often teased her about her ability to pick up strays but, in truth, she could no more walk away from suffering than he could.
And this man was clearly suffering.
“If I’ve learnt anything from travelling with my friend it’s that every escapade gives you experience but you can’t tell other people how to live or where to go.” She swallowed. “My friend Mickey wanted to travel with us, yeah, and I thought he was too young…too immature. Me, all of 20 with miles behind me and him still at home.” She laughed sadly. “I was nasty to him, hoping he’d leave and then… he did it. In one adventure he outgrew me. He was braver than I ever thought he could be and he stepped up, just like that. He’s gone, but it was his choice. No matter how clever I thought I was, no matter how old I thought I was; Mickey made his own choice. He came with us because he wanted to and he stayed…there because he knew he could make a difference. Your friends stay because they want to. Yeah, they may be younger and less experienced but it don’t mean that they haven’t got the right to make that choice.”
“But I put them in danger.” His eyes pleaded with her to make it all right.
“No, they put themselves in danger, for you. There isn’t a thing I wouldn’t do for my friend, no matter how he feels about me. When he left me behind…I think that what hurt more than anything was that he didn’t trust me to stand by him. He just waltzed off. And I don’t know if he thought I wasn’t willing or capable but he never gave the choice. Just give your friends the choice. Ask Tegan what she really wants, instead of trying to get her home, make sure that’s what she really wants and isn’t, like, doing what she thinks you want, yeah?”
He pulled away slightly and looked in her eyes, affection appearing in them as he stared at her in wonder. “How can you be so wise for one so young?”
Rose stroked his blond hair away from his face and smirked. “I’m just that good.”
“Yes, you are.” He reached up and twisted one strand of her hair around his fingers, intrigue and attraction colouring his voice. He caught her eye and looked away, embarrassed.
Rose allowed his hand to slide out of her hair with no mention of how much she’d liked it there and she tucked her hair behind her ear, smiling sweetly at him.
He swallowed. “Thank you for listening to an old man.”
“You’re not that old, mate.” Rose giggled thinking of her 900 year old Doctor. “You’re only as old as you feel.”
“And I feel,” he paused, “like dancing. Would you care to dance with me?”
Rose felt a flush of pleasure claw up her chest until it exploded in a smile. “I’d love to.”
She got to her feet and he followed, standing a good head and shoulders above her. She reached down for his hand and started to tug him towards the front of the house.
“Where are you going?” he asked bemused.
“Dancing’s that way.” She pointed over her shoulder.
“Can you hear the music?” He gave a small smile.
Rose inclined her head with an odd sort of bewilderment. “Well, yeah.”
“Then we shall dance here.” He held out his hands. “Please would you do me the honour of dancing with me?”
Rose started at the simple, elegant and yet deliciously seductive invitation. She didn’t answer but slipped her hands into his and shivered as a wonderful feeling filled her.
It was him.
Odd, she didn’t even know his name and yet she’d hugged him and spoken to him as if she’d known him a lifetime. Now, being so close to him touched something inside that she’d thought was broken.
Maybe the Doctor’s reaction to Reinette had made Rose feel unwanted, unloved and unappreciated. She didn’t understand how he could fall for someone so quickly, how someone he’d met for only a few minutes could entrench themselves into his hearts.
But, as she stood in the arms of this stranger, she finally understood. This man had made her feel. He’d made her feel attractive and interesting and his attention made her feel whole again. She loved him for that.
It felt right, so very right, that they hold hands and that they slide in together until she fitted into his body like the missing piece of a jigsaw.
It was so very right that she stand in close to him and hear the soft strains of music so very far away filtering into her consciousness as he wrapped his long fingers around her smaller hands and pull her into his warmth.
The music swelled in her head, drowning other senses and so she closed her eyes tightly inhaling the subtle warmth of his clothes and his odd yet familiar scent. His thumb stroked the back of her hand as they danced, the world falling away until there was just the two of them stood, not on a sunny balcony in the middle of England, but surrounded by stars dancing beneath a full moon.
There was something so fundamental about the way that she felt so at ease with him, even though she’d not known him long and Rose felt a deep contentment. The man seemed to feel it too and he held her closer until they were flush against each other, wrapped up in each others arms. Rose laid her head against his chest and breathed deeply, wanting nothing more than to stay there forever.
His sigh of contentment made her realise that he felt the same way and she smiled.
“We fit,” Rose mumbled, tightening her hands on his and she felt a chuckle from under her cheek.
“That we do,” he agreed and leaned down to press a kiss against her hair. “Almost perfectly.” He seemed to pause in his movements. “You could always come with me.”
Rose flashed back years and decades, centuries and galaxies to two blue eyes begging the same thing and inexplicably felt tears starting to well up in her eyes.
To travel with this man, to have his comforting presence would be so wonderful and yet, he loved another and Rose couldn’t leave the Doctor.
She’d promised him forever and she’d meant it. She loved the Doctor, she did, and no matter how hurt he made her feel, it was worth getting her heart broken over.
She couldn’t leave him.
“I can’t,” she whispered.
He straightened again. “No, no, I imagine not, silly really. I shouldn’t have asked.”
“I’m glad you did,” Rose looked up into his eyes. “And I would be he…we…” she sighed. If things were different—”
He nodded, understanding as he gripped her hands and held her tighter. “Yes. If things were different.”
Tears spilled down Rose’s cheeks. “We can’t even keep in touch.”
“I know.” There was real regret in his voice and soothed Rose’s aching chest.
He pulled away and leaned down, gripping her chin in his delicate fingers. “He must be a fool if he can’t see what priceless treasure he has in his hands. A fool who doesn’t deserve you. Please if he can’t see you don’t let him hurt you.”
“And if Tegan can’t see you then she doesn’t deserve you,” Rose offered with a smile at his tender words.
The back of his hand drifted over her cheek and he paused. “Forgive me for being forward but…”
Before Rose could question him he slipped closer and threaded his hand in her hair bringing his mouth down to hers. Her eyes drifted closed as his soft lips melted against hers, inviting her to open up and taste the sweetest, gentlest, most sincere kiss she’d ever had.
Time seemed to stand still as he caressed her mouth and her heart at the same time.
Her shoulders came up in delicious sensation and her fingers curled into his harlequin costume, bringing his hard body closer.
He was the first to pull away with a sigh. “Thank you,” he whispered.
“Back at you.”
He looked regretfully towards the direction of the music. “My companions will want to know where I am.”
She let him go sadly. “Then you should go. Go find Tegan and dance with her.”
He smiled. “Oh, I don’t dance. Usually.”
“But with me?”
“I don’t dance, Rose, you know that. Well known for it, in fact. Ask anyone they’ll say the Doctor doesn’t dance.”
“Oh, I’d dance with you forever.”
Rose laughed, her insecurities fading and making her fears seem that much more amusing. “I need to go, too.”
With one last look Rose stepped away and started to leave, not wanting to let go of his fingers until the very last second.
He tightened his hand and she turned back quizzically.
“It does seem somewhat indecorous of me to have stolen a kiss yet not even asked your name,” he blushed. “Who are you?”
Rose bit her lip, not wanting to taint the magic with something as common as a name.
She wouldn’t be seeing him again and she didn’t want to place a label on the man who had healed her heart and saved her confidence.
But what could she say to him, she wanted him to remember her and not just as “Rose”. She wanted him to think of her as often as she did of him.
So she said the only thing she could.
“It’s like when you’re a kid and everyone tells you the world’s turning and you just can’t quite believe it because everything looks like it’s standing still. I can feel it. The turn of the Earth. The ground under our feet is spinning at a thousand miles an hour, and the entire planet is hurtling around the sun at sixty thousand miles an hour…or something like that. And I can feel it now. We're falling through space, you and me. Clinging to the skin of this tiny little world, and if we let go...”
Rose dropped his hand, staring intently into those sombre eyes.
“That’s who I am. Don’t forget me.”
He watched her absorbedly; silent, sincere and understanding.
“I won’t.” His promise echoed in the afternoon air and Rose gave him one last smile before walking away, back to the tiny little world which suddenly seemed so much smaller.
The Doctor was sitting on one side massaging his bruised toes when Rose stepped out from around the wrap-around balcony that ringed the house.
His face lit up at the sight of her but it turned to worry and fear as he noted the redness to her eyes. He sprang to his feet.
“Rose, what’s wrong?”
Rose shook her head and smiled at him. “I’m all right.”
“You’ve been crying.” He accused, his hands going to smudge the tears on her cheeks. “What’s wrong?”
“I’m fine,” she laughed. “I’m finer than fine. Better than best. Gooder than great—” she wrinkled her nose. “That ain't a word is it?”
“No.” The Doctor was still concerned about the tears but Rose seemed much better than she had when they’d first arrived here. He reached down and grabbed her hand.
“But since when have we been one—or two—for convention?”
“Anyway,” he said to her in a hushed whisper. “I remember why Cranleigh Hall sounds so familiar to me. I was here before. Not me, me. But me that I was before this me. In fact it was several me’s ago. The me before the me before the me before—”
Rose could see this turning into a huge ramble and she interrupted him. “Is it safe for you to be here then? Paradox and all that?”
He beamed at her remembrance of basic space time illogicalities and nodded. “I don’t think I ever ventured out on the terrace. My fifth life is a bit fuzzy. Poisoned into my sixth, you see, interfered with basic neural pathways and blocked a lot of that life. I seem to remember getting lost in the house and was then arrested for a murder that I didn’t commit.”
Rose grinned. “Sounds like you.”
“Yes, I came for the cricket stayed for the death.” He paused and looked down at her. “Maybe we should go before it gets to that part of the evening. I don’t want you to have to deal with death and blood again.”
Rose gripped his hand. “It’s my choice. But did the you before get out of it?”
“Always. I was very capable, Rose.” He sounded somewhat insulted that she thought otherwise.
“I’m sure you were.” She placated him.
Rose looked up and her gaze searched the crowd until she saw a man in a harlequin costume, complete with mask, walk out of the house and wander over to the sailor boy and purple butterfly. He bowed and the purple butterfly accepted his hand in a dance.
Rose smiled as the man took her advice and stepped into the unknown. well done
“Rose?” the Doctor had been trying to get her attention and she nodded at him.
“I think it’s time we left.” She glanced down at her dress “Definitely time to get back into some jeans.”
He gave her a slow once over. “Oh, I don’t know. Seems a shame to send that dress back into the wardrobe without giving it a spin. Care to dance, Milady?”
Rose just glanced at the harlequin and butterfly, enjoying their closeness. She smiled softly at the Doctor. “You don’t dance.”
He looked disappointed and Rose grabbed his hand again.
“C’mon, let’s go home.”
With reluctance the Doctor turned away from the opportunity of having Rose in his arms and started with her back to the TARDIS.
They’d been walking for about ten minutes in companionable silence when Rose spoke quietly.
“I just want to say that I’m sorry, you know, for acting like a bitch.”
“You weren’t that bad,” he said with some surprise. “And I probably deserved it.”
“No.” Rose shook her head and took a deep breath. “Thing is, yeah. I was jealous.”
He froze. “What?”
“Of you and Madame De Pompadour.” Rose took a deep breath, not looking at him. “I was upset because I didn’t see how you could fall in love with her so quickly. I mean you only met a few times over the years and I didn’t get how you could be in love that quickly.”
He swallowed, hearts pounding and palms sweating. He had known that Rose hadn’t gotten over that so quickly. He’d brushed her aside, unable to deal with all of his feelings at the time. But now all was clear in his head. Maybe it was time to tell her exactly what had been going through his head and what she meant to him. “Rose, I—”
“It’s okay!” Rose turned to face him. “I get it now.”
He faltered. “What?”
Rose bit on her lip and looked away. “Today I met a man who…” she trailed off, not sure how to say it. “He was fantastic and he made me see that sometimes it’s not what they do or how they are but what they see in you that makes you love them. Reinette saw an angel in you, a saviour and that’s what you became. You loved her for the possibility of what she made you and I’m sorry she died. I really am.”
His throat was dry as he stared at this wonderful woman in front of him. She understood and accepted it. But she only had half the story. She didn’t know that it was because of the way Rose had seen him that he did what he did. He would never have been a hero to Rose had he turned away from responsibility. She knew that he loved her, didn’t she? Knew that she was the one who made him what he was.
He had to tell her and tell her now, while he could.
His words died as Rose continued.
“He made me see that it’s possible to love someone in just a few minutes.”
The softness in her voice tugged at his hearts and a deep ache started between the two organs. Rose loved someone else.
“Wh—” he cleared his throat. “Who was he?”
Rose chuckled. “He likes cricket and brandy, gate-crashes parties and has the most beautiful smile. He makes me feel beautiful and smart and funny. He’s so special. Fantastic.”
“Did you—” oh Rassilon he couldn’t finish this, he couldn’t, but he had to “—want to go back?”
Rose shook her head and undid her shoes, slipping the heels off. “Nah. Someone’s gotta take care of you.”
She beamed at him and squeezed his hand, shoes dangling from her other fingers. “I just wanted to let you know that I get it, and I’m sorry.”
He nodded, unable to speak. She chose him. She may love someone else as well, but she chose to travel with the Doctor and he was going to take Rose to so many places and to see so many beautiful things that she’d forget about this man.
“Well,” he said as he held her hand tighter. “Mr. Wonderful may be fantastic but I’ve got something he hasn’t.”
He tugged her towards the TARDIS. “A time machine. And I’ve got just the place for our next visit.”
Rose may have found a special man but he was no match for the Doctor.
He could give her love, but could he give her Elvis?