Time, Roses, and the Wolf by Amy Wolf
Summary: They've kissed ten times by his count. He doesn't dare kiss her again.
Rating: All Ages
Characters: Ace McShane, Jack Harkness, Jamie McCrimmon, Jo Grant, Peri Brown, Rose Tyler, Tegan Jovanka, The Doctor (1st), The Doctor (2nd), The Doctor (3rd), The Doctor (4th), The Doctor (5th), The Doctor (6th)
Series: Bad Wolf Stories
Chapter 1: Not his father's son
Chapter 2: A small good deed
Chapter 3: If you must be a joke, be a good one
Chapter 4: And she took the dog, too.
Chapter 5: Waltzing on Peladon
Chapter 6: A nice relaxing vacation. Honestly!
Chapter 7: Innocent
Chapter 8: The morning of the war
Chapter 9: Everything you know is wrong
Chapter 10: Nothing stops until you make it stop.
Chapter 1: Not his father's son
Author's Notes: Spoilers for everything through Tooth and Claw. Bonus points if you spot all the wolves.
The first kiss was a lifetime ago. Before leaving, before Susan, before so many things.
He’d been a student then, at the Academy, the year they had even Azmael climbing the walls. Despite that, despite everything, he was to be allowed to participate in the legendary assignment. The one that led students to stick with year after year of temporal mechanics. An actual unsupervised trip off-planet.
It was rare to leave Gallifrey, and for most of the students it was their first opportunity. He’d been born off-planet, but that was....unusual circumstances. For as long as he could remember he’d lived on Gallifrey. He was eager to see something else.
The whole thing nearly fell through when he was assigned to a team with Koschei and Drax. The computer that assigned teams was disassembled and handed over to a technician. They drew names out of a hat, instead.
They got the same result. Twice.
The three of them were finally allowed to go, on condition that they stay strictly out of trouble and follow the approved list of social interactions. Of course, the minute the student capsule took off, Koshchei suggested that they get out and mix. And both he and Drax agreed.
The location was Earth, in the early twenty-first century. The city of London, which had been pronounced reasonably safe on that particular day. Drax kept making slightly nervous jokes about the teachers not worrying about them coming back.
It had been a pleasant spring day, as soon as they all got used to the odd color of the sky. The blue was slightly dizzying, but after a few moments staring, Koschei straightened up and dragged them off to a dance club.
Dance clubs on this planet were apparently dark confined areas where people gathered to socialize in music so loud they could barely speak. He didn’t entirely see the point of that, and after an hour he said so.
Koschei laughed, “You don’t socialize sitting at a table, Theta. You have to get up and mix with the crowd. And the point of this gathering place is not to have a quiet chat. The point is to dance.”
“And drink,” Drax added. “Could you fetch another round?”
He sighed, and headed for the main bar, to order three Black Wolfs (Drax had got the drinks menu and wanted to try everything on the list). He was picking through the fiddly combination of metal and paper money they used here, trying to figure out which one to trade, when she came up. A young woman, he’d guess she was forty on Gallifrey, but here on Earth she was most likely eighteen. She was blonde, sweet and smiling, “Need a hand?”
“Yes, please,” he smiled, “I’m not used to the local currency. Which of these is three pints?”
She laughed and plucked a twenty from the pile. “So you’re from abroad then? Where?”
“Greece.” He’d thought that up in case Drax did something stupid and called him Theta in public. “I’m here with friends. On vacation.”
“Right. You lot are on euros then. Or is it something else?”
“Euros,” he declared airily. He honestly hadn’t a clue if a Euro was a credit stick or some kind of bead. “So, are you a local girl?”
“Yeah. Live right round the corner. Powell estates.” She looked suddenly embarrassed. The bartender plunked down three shot glasses and a pile of paper and coins. “So back to your friends then.”
He nodded. “They’re at the table over there.” He stuffed the leftover money in his pocket and started to pick up the glasses.
“Like a hand?” she asked. “It can be a bit tricky carrying three.”
He was about to answer that he was perfectly capable of carrying three shot glasses in two hands when he noticed the peculiar look she gave him. Her head was tilted and the corner of her mouth was threatening to turn up. “Yes, thanks,” he replied
She smiled again. He was going to have to figure out how to get her to do that more often. “So your friends from Greece too?”
He nodded, “We’re students. At University.”
“Well, I must say you speak good English.”
“My mother’s English.” He stiffened as the words came out. What had made him say that? Of all the stupid things to blurt out. But she hadn’t made anything of it, was forging ahead to the table, so he let it drop.
“Oi, Thete! See you did well.” Drax picked up his shot and drained it. “Koschei went off with a whole pack of local girls. Still, more for us, then.”
He suddenly realized he really didn’t want to be sitting with Drax now, drinking increasingly random alcohol concoctions and watching Earthlings dance. He turned to the blonde girl who had the brightest eyes he’d ever seen. “Would you like to dance?”
She smiled again and whisked him onto the floor. He wasn’t good, but he wasn’t terrible, and she laughed again at his mistakes.
In one of those moments of dance-floor magic that he wouldn’t be able to pinpoint in a thousand years (he really wouldn’t) they wound up at the back door, hand in hand staring into each other’s eyes. So he kissed her.
It was an odd thing, kissing. Pressing your lips against someone else for excitement. Exchanging saliva as a sign of affection. On Gallifrey it was rare, a slightly exotic kink like love bites, or running your nails down their back. This was different. She had a way of letting her mouth go all soft and inviting and warm. Startlingly warm. He discovered he’d closed his eyes when he opened him to catch her doing the same. She’d smiled and for a moment it had been utterly beautiful.
Then his mind started going and it all fell apart. The words ‘just like your father’ entered his head from nowhere and he started to shake. He was kissing an alien girl under a strange sky after an hour of charming her with lies. A human girl. He felt a sudden chill all over and his stomach knotted up. “I’m sorry,” he babbled, “I’m sorry. I have to go.” And she’s a human. Just like his father indeed. Look how well that worked.
“Are you okay?” she asked. “Is something wrong? You’ve come over all queer.” She really was sweet. What had he been thinking? What had he hoped to accomplish like this? Maybe it was some mad pheromone thing. Maybe he took after his mother more than he thought. He’d heard the lower species had pheromones. And by Time Lord standards everything short of Eternals were considered lower species. He shook his head.
“No, it’s fine. I just need to go. Back to my room. I’m sorry. You’re wonderful. Good bye.” He ducked out the door, forcing himself to keep a brisk walk until he got back to the capsule (a post box about six blocks away) and ducked directly into the console room. Then he sat back against the console and listened to it hum until his hands were steady again.
By the time Drax came back, four hours later, sick as a dog (Time Lords weren’t supposed to get hangovers from alcohol, but Drax had managed somehow), he was smiling and sensible and had contracted a perfectly reasonable story about the girl having a boyfriend turn up at the last minute.
And when Koschei showed up the next morning, his clothes rearranged, looking insufferably smug, he was cool and collected and halfway through the fake observation log, leaving Koschei swearing eternal vengeance for being stuck with cleaning the capsule. And for centuries that was that. A funny story about how they’d outsmarted their tutors once again. A nearly forgotten kiss with a girl he’d likely never see again, and not notice if he did.
And he hadn’t noticed, for a while at least.
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Chapter 2: A small good deedThe next time was after his next regeneration (Was he really so different from one to the next? The humans seemed to think so,) on a day out with Jamie. The boy absolutely had to pick up music from some band called Jello or Jelly or something that had released a CD in the early nineties.
Alright, maybe he had been a bit overindulgent on that one, but Jamie was hardly spoiled. Plus, Victoria had left a few weeks ago, and Jamie was half heartbroken over it. A nice quiet outing had been just the thing for them both.
The TARDIS had been strangely cooperative, well by her standards at least. Granted it had landed them in Dover, a month after the expected date, but the bus trip made a nice change of pace. Jamie was having a rummage through the music department of Henrik’s in London, and the Doctor was trying to figure how many pounds he had, and if he could use the slightly anachronistic ones he’d found on the inside pocket in his jacket. He was checking the dates (people rarely noticed if the notes were from less than a year in the future) when he saw the little girl.
“Mum. Mum. Where are you, mum? Mummy!” She was about five or six, the sort of blonde that was likely to go dark as she got older, and trying very hard to be brave. Her voice had taken on the raw edge that preceded an oncoming screaming fit. Of course he stepped over to intervene.
“Hello there. You look like you need some help.”
The little girl looked up at him with eyes sparkly from held-back tears. “I’ve lost my mummy. She said wait here and she’d be back in a minute and it’s been ages and she’s gone.”
“Oh, dear,” he said. “That sounds frightening. Let’s see if we can sort this out. Did she say wait here, or you wander off a bit and forget where you’re supposed to be? I’m always getting myself into trouble wandering off.”
The little girl shook her head. “There,” She pointed to a shop dummy in a blue dress about ten feet away. “I picked it. So I wouldn’t get lost.”
“I see,” he said. “You are a clever little girl. Well, if you didn’t wander off, then your mum must have wandered off. And if she’s wandered off, most likely she’s on her way back. So if we wait by the dummy, she’ll turn up any minute.”
“What if she doesn’t?” the girl asked. “What if she forgot?”
“Then we’ll go up to the front of the shop and the security man will go on the speaker and announce the whole store that she needs to come and get you.”
“But what if she never comes and I have to stay in the shop forever?”
He took her hand. “Don’t worry. I won’t leave you trapped here. Now let’s go by the dummy and wait for your mum.”
She trotted along obediently. “How many minutes?”
“Oh, I think five should do it.” He flipped out his pocket watch. “Now do you know how to tell time on this kind of watch?” She shook her head. “Well the long skinny hand is for minutes, and the little stubby one is for hours. So when it goes five ticks, from here to here, that’s five minutes. Can you keep an eye on that?” She nodded solemnly. He handed her the watch and begin rummaging though his pockets. “Lemon drop?” he offered, holding out the white paper bag.
Four minutes, three sweets, and an extremely tangled yo-yo later (he swore he used to be good at walking the dog), an announcement rang across the store. “Attention, please. A child is lost in the store. She is six years old, blonde in a red jumper, goes by the name of Rose. If you find her, please alert the nearest security guard immediately.”
He turned to the wide-eyed little girl, smiling. “Your name is Rose.” She nodded. “I’ll bet your mother is waiting for you.” She smiled. “Come on. I’ll take you to a security guard.”
They walked over to guard at the nearest door. “Here he is. He’ll take you direct to your mum.” The security guard spoke into his walkie-talkie, then took Rose’s hand.
“Come on love, your mother’s waitin."
“Wait.” Rose waived him closer. He crouched down so his face was close to hers.
“Thank you,” she said, and kissed him on the cheek. “Bye-bye.”
“Bye-bye, little Rose.” He waved as she walked off.
“Doctor! Doctor! Where have ye got too? I’ve been searchin’ half this market for ye.” Jamie’s voice boomed out behind him.
“I’m right here, Jamie. There’s no need to shout.”
The strapping young Scotsman came dashing up. “Aye, there you are. I found what I was looking for and ye’d left. What have ye been up ta?” Jamie followed the Doctor’s gaze. “Who’s the wee bairn?”
“Just a child.”
“Was she the lost little lass they were going on about before? Someone for you ta rescue today ?”
He tore his gaze away and smiled at Jamie. “Not any more. She’s just fine now. So just the one CD?” he noted in surprise.
“Ay, well I only came for the song with the three little piggies.”
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Chapter 3: If you must be a joke, be a good oneThe third time, she came upon him fishing around in the sewer with a bent paperclip and string in the middle of a public sidewalk. He’d begun the afternoon three decades eariler, in UNIT Headquarters with the console dimensionally extruded into the middle of the office so he could better effect repairs, when Jo popped in to ask about the tea.
“Doctor! They’re out of Lapsang Souchon. The choices are Earl Grey or….”
Unfortunately Jo’s education had neglected the advice, “Never startle a man wielding an atomic winch.” and the end of that sentence got lost in the time jump.
The Doctor slid out from under console, shouting. “Be careful! I was handling delicate equipment there! A charge in the wrong area because you’re worried about the tea, and we would have been in very serious….”
“Trouble,” Jo finished.
They stood staring at the road. After a moment, Jo asked, “We’re in London, aren’t we? The future, but not too far.”
He smiled, “Very good, Jo. About thirty years, I make it. How’d you get all that?”
Jo blushed, “Cars, mostly. And the street sign.” She pointed.
“Well spotted.” He turned back to the console. “Now for the more serious problem.”
Jo circled it, “I thought you said it was alright if it was separate. Harmless. Like sticking her tongue out.”
He shook his head. “Sticking it out a bit too far even for this old girl, I’m afraid. Still….” He put his hand on the console. “She’s connected. That’s good. If I reset the interior dimensional stabilizers to default, reverse the polarity of the neutron flow and give her a boost of energy to get through the time vortex, she might just pull herself together, and us with her. You wait here by the console, and I’ll collect the necessary equipment.”
“Shouldn’t I go do the shopping and you stay by the console in case something goes wrong? I wouldn’t know how to repair it.”
“You’re overlooking two things. First is that you’re an anachronism. You’re out of your own time, but close enough cause complications. The more you see, the more likely you are to cause, an inadvertent temporal anomaly. I’m not native to either time period and face considerably less difficulty.”
“And the second?”
“Your UNIT charge account has an expiration date. Mine doesn’t.”
He walked to the nearest automotive supply store, purchased a car battery and jumper cables on his official UNIT expense account (it didn’t have to be a very big electrical charge) and was walking back trying to attach the TARDIS key, when disaster struck.
He fell face forward, sending his shopping bag flying and nearly breaking his nose. He muttered a word that would have shocked any passing Venusians, and pulled himself up. Someone had left fliers scattered all over the pavement. He picked one up. Jin-Roh. A film. Quite good, if he recalled. He crumpled the paper and tossed it neatly in the curbside bin.
All in order now. The battery, undamaged. The jumper cables, fine. The Doctor, bruised but functional. The key.
After a frantic search of his pockets and the surrounding ground, his eyes shot to the nearby sewer grating. Trust his luck. On today of all days, it would go straight in the sewer. He walked carefully to the grating, and looked down.
Of course. There it was.
Twenty minutes later, after exhausting every pocket he owned, completely failing to find a setting on the sonic screwdriver that could levitate keys, and fishing around with a bend paperclip and a bit of string, he was seriously contemplating giving the UNIT emergency number a ring and having them send a man, when a pair of fourteen-year old girls came strolling by.
“Ooh, nice outfit.”
“Who does he think he is, Austin Powers?”
“What’s he up to, then?”
The Doctor rolled his eyes and continued fishing around.
“Think he dropped something?”
“Think he’s trying to fish?”
Both girls giggled at this statement.
“As a matter of fact, ladies,” He turned, and the blonde girl caught his eyes. “As a matter of fact, you, in particular can be of inestimable service to me.”
She stared at him, wide-eyed.
He reached into his pocket and surreptitiously pulled out his collapsible baton. With a flourish of his right hand, he extended it. He held his left hand to the blonde girl. “Dear lady, your gum.”
She opened her mouth and handed him the piece of gum she’d been chewing on. He took the gum, and affixed it to the end of the baton. Then he performed a rather grandiose bow, ending with a kiss on the back of the girl’s hand. When he let it go, she opened up her palm to find a crepe paper flower expanding in it.
“Thank you kindly. You have no concept of the service you performed.” He then leapt to the sewer grate, and with a mighty sword-fight thrust, caught the key on the gum, and pulled it out. “Behold!” He displayed the key.
Both the girls fell about laughing. The blonde one gave her friend a good natured slap, “Shareen, he’s a clown!”
“Only sometimes.” He smiled and walked off.
Back at the console Jo Grant stood impatiently tapping her foot. “Well you took your time!” she said. “What did you bring back, a particle accelerator?”
He shook his head. “Bit of bad luck, I’m afraid. All sorted out now.” He pulled out the car battery. “Courtesy of UNIT. Think thirty years will be long enough for the Brigadier to get this past accounting?”
Jo laughed, “I say, bad luck seems to put you in a cheerful mood. You haven’t stopped smiling since I got back.”
“It’s just good to get out a bit. Stuck in the same time period all the time is so boring, don’t you think?”
Jo shook her head. “Personally I’ll be glad to get back. You won’t believe the cheek on some of these people. Two girls passed by just now, and you won’t believe what they just called me. Felicity Shagwell! Of all the nasty names! Can you believe that?” She glanced over at the Doctor who was trying to suppress a laugh. “It’s not funny!”
He shook his head. “Give it thirty years. You’ll get the joke, Jo. I promise.”
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Chapter 4: And she took the dog, too.The fourth time it happened, he was not, in fact, drunk. He was a Time Lord, after all. Time Lords didn’t get drunk. Everybody knew that. Fact of life. Plus, he wasn’t completely irresponsible. He had Adric to look after now, and he didn’t want to be a bad influence on the boy.
Still, there was nothing wrong with alcohol in moderation, and since Adric had dashed off with a pack of adolescents to look for something called lykos fish in the tide pools, he’d taken the opportunity to settle in at a beach bar and get a bit….relaxed. Sit back, enjoy the Valpasian sunsets, (best sunsets in the galaxy, after all), and have a couple of drinks.
She was a bit drunk, though. That was obvious.
“Mind if I joined you?” he asked. He hadn’t wanted to intrude, but there wasn’t an empty table in the place, and she had one of the few tables on the beach. She nodded, and bent over the condiment jars, which she’d been rearranging with surprising intensity.
It was after his third drink that she first opened her mouth.
“Blokes.” She fiddled with the pepper pot. “I can’t work it out.”
There wasn’t really anything to say to that, so he kept his mouth shut.
“There’s three of them, see.” She stared at him.
“That could be your problem right there.”
She shook her head. “’M only actually dating one.” She laughed bitterly, “Maybe not even him,.”
“A bit complicated, then.”
She picked up the pepper pot. “This one, the one I was dating, he’s sweet an all. Loyal. Reliable. There for you in a pinch. My mum likes him. But he don’t want to do anything. Travel. He wants me to go home, be normal, talk about normal things. Pretend the universe isn’t as big as it is. Pretend it still matters about his mates at the pub.” She frowned in contemplation.
“I see.” He looked down. “Never did trust a pepper pot. Always trouble.”
“This one, see,” She pulled out another shaker. “What is this, anyways?”
“Kezly,” he replied. “A staple of Valpasian cuisine. Native to this planet.”
She examined it curiously. “Good pick, then. So this one, he’s adventurous. Exciting. And he’s good. Always there for me. No matter what. Stake your life on him, you can. But he doesn’t date. He says he does, but he doesn’t really. I’ve never seen it.”
“Maybe he simply doesn’t go in for your type. Gender and species preferences can be quite strong.”
“No!” She brought her hand down on the table. “No. He flirts with the sodding tree-woman, so he definitely goes in for girls. Maybe it’s humans. Think some people don’t go in for humans? He looks human. I mean he’s not human, but he looks it.”
The Doctor nodded. “Some species are particular about romantic involvments. On my planet they didn’t allow intermarriage until a few decades back. Didn’t even let humans visit until I jumped in. Got myself declared president, and for what? So she could run off with some twit in a stupid hat. And take the dog too. I don’t know why, but they always take the dog.” He rubbed his face. Okay, not drunk, but maybe a little tipsy.
“You got made president? Congratulations.” She slapped him on the back, nearly falling out of the chair.
“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much. Now what about the other bloke?”
“The other chap. This one.” He waved the ginger pot at her. “You said there were three.”
“Oh, right. Well this one,” She plunked down the ginger pot. “He seems perfect. Charming, sexy, handsome as all get out. Shags like a bunny. And cruising round the galaxy’s just his cup of tea. But he’s not exactly a one woman man. Plus I think he’s got a thing for the other bloke anyways. And when the chips are down,” She shook her head. “I just don’t know.”
“Who?” he asked.
“When the chips are down, who?” He pointed at the condiments. “One of these, I hope.”
She tapped the kezly.
“Ah.” He leaned back, tilting his chair. “The adventurer. The alien. That might complicate things. Does it really matter so much if you don’t date?”
He shifted forward, knocking his chair straight. “He’s adventurous, you say. Someone you can count on. Someone you can tour the universe with, and know he’s there. Keep him, and if he really doesn’t date, you can have bunny rabbit boy on the side. A good companion should count for something, after all. It should be something.” He stared morosely at his drink.
A drunken hand patted him on the shoulder. “She left you and took the dog?”
“Twice.” He nodded. “Both of them did. Seems to be a pattern. But I outsmarted them you see. I’m not getting another dog.” He drained his drink. “Why is it my whole life everyone acts like mixing with other species is some sort of crime, and as soon as I leave the planet they all start running off with them? Humans, Tharils, it’s ridiculous. Have you ever met a Tharil?” The girl shook her head. “Egomaniacal space lions.” He waved his glass in the air. Okay, so he was drunk. So what? Adric had a key, and was old enough to get himself back to the TARDIS at night.
“Yeah! Bastards.” She clinked her glass in the air. “And the bloody salt shakers too!” She swayed dramatically and fell over backwards.
He stood quickly (see, he wasn’t that drunk) and reached out a hand. “Useful bit of advice,” he offered, pulling her up. “When you’re too drunk to manage a proper toast, best quit and sleep it off.”
She stood up, rather clumsily, and brushed the sand off herself. “You’re nice.” She looked at him contemplatively. “You’re very nice.” She put her hands on his shoulders, and kissed him.
It was a slightly sloppy drunken lip-mashing, but he’d had worse. “I’m very flattered,” he said, pulling away, “but this isn’t a good idea right now.”
She pouted, “Why not? I promise I won’t steal your dog.”
“I haven’t got a dog. And you have quite enough men in your life already. We’re dangerously close to running out of condiments. Also, you’re drunk and I’m leaving tomorrow.” He slung her arm over his shoulder. “Let’s get you home.”
“Wait,” she muttered, patting her pockets. “I have to pay.”
“I’ll get it.” He dropped a credit stick on the table. “I know the bartender. Now come on, I’m sure you know the tune. ‘Show me the way to go home…”
After about five minutes following her increasingly confused directions, they were interrupted by an athletic-looking young man. “What are you doing with Rose?” he asked in an American accent.
“He’s alright,” Rose slurred drunkenly. “He’s very nice. Paid for my drinks.”
This didn’t sit well with the athletic American, so the Doctor started talking fast. “I can assure you, I was simply trying to help the young woman find her way home. She appeared a bit intoxicated earlier, and I wanted assurance that she would make it safely back to wherever she was staying. In fact I was trying to find exactly where she was staying. That’s what the singing’s in aid of. Surely you heard us.”
He started up again, “Show me the way to go home, I’m tired and I want to go to bed…” He broke off. That young man certainly had a persistent glare. “Not a music fan, I see. Well if you really are a friend of the young lady, I’ll entrust her to your care. Rose,” he nudged her, “Rose, do you know this man?”
She straightened up and nodded. “That’s Jack. I told you about him. He was one of the shaky things. You remember, the bunny rabbit.” She started giggling and attempted to poke the young man on the nose.
“In that case, I entrust her to your care. Hop along now, down the rabbit hole you go.” This provoked another burst of laughter from Rose. Jack clearly didn’t approve of any of this, especially the bunny remark, but quietly hoisted Rose onto his shoulder and turned to walk away.
“Goodbye!” she shouted, waving. She leaned around and blew him a kiss.
He waved back as she turned the corner, then straightened his hat, checked his scarf and strolled off down the street whistling ‘White Rabbit’.
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Chapter 5: Waltzing on PeladonThe fifth kiss was a matter of custom. A masked ball on the planet Peladon. It had been a pleasant little affair, elegant really. There was the slight drawback of needing to identify and neutralize the Zygon agents before the invasion fleet arrived or they’d all be vaporized, but he had a good eight hours left. Plenty of time for a ball. Also, Tegan had actually smiled when he’d pulled out the dress.
The dance was a complicated little figure, a bit like a blend of ballroom and square dance on earth. There were rather complex rules for trading partners, alternate male and female leads (a tradition dating back to Queen Thalira) and a pause to kiss your partner every fifth trade.
The masks had been designed with this in mind, and extended upwards from the nose. Tegan was twirling around somewhere in a Peladonian gown and a rather elegant feathered mask. He spotted her in a flock of admirers from time to time. Turlough was looking sulky in a reptilian mask (he didn’t care for the formal wear). And the Doctor had drawn something that looked rather like a wolf.
They didn’t have wolves on Peladon, which made the mask odd, but by that era they’d been in contact with earth for centuries, so he’d written it off as an attempt at variety.
The dance had progressed nicely, and he’d almost settled on the chief minister of defense, when a young woman in an old earth domino mask took his hand. “I believe I have this dance.” The music started up and they were swept off.
“I take it you’re not from around here, then?” He smiled politely.
“Why would you say that?” she asked.
“Your mask.” He tapped it lightly. “It’s from Earth. Seventeenth century Venetian. A Columbine. Not the kind of thing they sell off-planet, anymore.” Not to mentioned remarkably well preserved.
She smiled. “And you? Are you from Earth then to?”
“I’m from everywhere. Nowhere, really.” He turned his head. The Minister of Defense was conferring with someone at the side of the ballroom. “You are familiar with the local dance traditions, yes?”
She nodded. “I think. It’s a bit tricky. I’m getting the hang of it.”
“That’s good.” They waltzed, more or less in silence for a bit.
“So are you here for diplomatic purposes?” he asked.
“Not really. My…companion’s an old friend of the royal family.” She nodded across the ballroom. He glanced over, at a cluster of dancers including a tall Ice Warrior in a rather peculiar human mask who’d just been partnered with the queen. “I’m guessing your friend’s not from Earth.”
She smiled. “Good guess.”
“He must be a very good friend of the royal family.” In light of the planet’s history, an Ice Warrior kissing the queen was going to be either a major step forward in interplanetary diplomacy or a good occasion to grab his companions and run.
Either way, should be entertaining.
“He seems to know everybody.” His dance partner continued. “He travels a lot.”
“Quite unusual for his species. Most of them don’t like to mix.”
This provoked a startled look. “You know then? You know about where he’s from?”
He nodded absently. “Encountered them a few times. I personally don’t tend to have good luck, but I’ve met some who are quite nice.”
She tilted her head and gave a worried stare. “You know about them? His people? And you look like the big bad wolf. Cause I’ve been warned…”
Just then, the music stopped.
He leaned in, gave her a quick peck on the lips and whirled away in the confusion of the partner change. He caught Tegan’s hand, and pulled her away.
“What’s going on, Doctor?”
He grinned and waved to where the Ice Warrior was leaning awkwardly towards the queen.
“History in the making.”
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Chapter 6: A nice relaxing vacation. Honestly!The sixth time was at the Eye of Orion, where he’d taken Peri in a largely futile effort to relax. He couldn’t seem to get the hang of it in that regeneration. The brain chemistry had gone a bit wrong, he suspected. Something, possibly the spectrox, had left him almost perpetually annoyed.
He’d been particularly on edge just after that mess in Spain (accidentally tripping over your own time stream will do that to a man, not to mention nearly turning into an Androgum), and Peri was touchy about ‘getting dragged into his vegetarian phase’ and threatened a hunger strike if he didn’t learn to cook properly. He’d offered the trip to placate her, figuring a good soak in negative ions would do them both good.
It hadn’t worked. Peri wouldn't exit the TARDIS until he’d been out a good ten minutes to verify that nothing was plotting to kidnap her, marry her, or bite her head off. But as soon as she set foot outside, she blissed out, and after an hour she was lounging on a rock , nibbling on a bit of the nut roll she’d refused to touch the day before and smiling at everything he said.
He, on the other hand was stalking about ‘like an angry bear’ as Peri put it, trying to remember how to be calm. It was particularly maddening being annoyed next to someone so insistently happy. He’d even resorted to insulting her clothes (a t-shirt with, in his opinion, a rather cliché print of a wolf) but she just smiled and poked around in his pocket for the sack of liquorice allsorts.
He’d just gotten up for the twelfth time to check a suspicious noise behind a tree (he could swear he heard a TARDIS materialize) when Peri laughed.
“There’s no monsters here. You don’t have to keep checking every ten minutes.”
“Pardon me, but I thought you were the one who was so insistent that I check. I recall some very pointed remarks about ‘bug-eyed monsters everywhere we land’.”
“Well yeah.” Peri said, “but you were right. It’s perfectly safe.”
He huffed. “Well I certainly wouldn’t want to be caught unaware if a fleet of Cybermen turned up behind a rock. You’d never let me hear the end of it.”
She just laughed again. “If they do, Doctor, I’m sure you’ll handle it. Come. Sit. This is a truly lovely place and I’m thrilled we came.”
He paced some more, muttering, “Now I know something horrible’s going to pop out from behind a tree.”
There was a giggle. It wasn’t Peri’s. It came from behind a tree.
He froze and glanced over at Peri. “Did you hear that?”
“Obviously.” he snapped.
“Do monsters giggle?”
“Rarely.” He stepped closer to the tree. “Now the Melepetanian Snoods have a battled cry very much like the laughter of a human female.”
“Snoods?” Peri asked. “You mean like the hair things?” This provoked another laugh from behind the tree.
He whipped a device out of his coat pocket. “All right, you there! Come out quietly or…”
“Or what?” A young woman stepped out from behind the tree. She was a peroxide blonde in her mid twenties wearing a hoodie and a Union Jack t-shirt. “You’ll play us a tune?”
He glanced down at the Silurian touch-harp he’d been pointing in what he’d hoped was a menacing fashion. “Who are you then, a loitering British music-connoisseur? Hiding behind trees giggling at people. Is that anyway to behave? If people menace you with fake weapons for it, it serves you right.” He frowned in annoyance as she burst out laughing again. Even worse, Peri’s mouth had begun twitching as if she were about to start.
“It’s you!” The strange girl laughed. “It really is you. Storming about in that ridiculous coat trying to look frightening. Oh this is just too good!”
He deepened the frown, then switched to a full on glare, which only set her off laughing harder. “And where did you get it from anyways? Did you stitch it yourself just to be rude?”
This got Peri going again, and soon he found himself standing between two young women who were both doubled over with laughter, feeling strangely left out of the joke.
Even worse, he was the joke.
“Young lady!” He shouted. “I insist you tell me what is going on here!”
“I can’t.” She straightened up, wiping her eyes. She’d laughed so hard tears had run down her face. “I’m not exactly supposed to be here now. Give it a couple centuries, it’ll all make sense.” She glanced over to the trees. “I ought to be going now, or he’ll turn up and then we’re all in for it.” She took a hesitant step closer. “You,” she said, pointing at Peri, “Don’t let him get away with anything. He needs someone to knock him down a peg or two.” Peri laughed all the harder at this, and was forced to sit down. “And you.” The strange girl looked back at the Doctor.
“Yes?” he asked.
She stepped in closer. He stared down into a pair of big brown eyes that made something at the back of his brain itch, and was startled by a quick kiss on the lips. She smiled up at him. “Be seeing you.” She winked and walked off.
“Who was that?” Peri asked, when she’d gotten her breath back.
He stared off at the retreating figure trying to catch at the faded echoes of memory swirling around his brain. “I have absolutely no idea.”
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Chapter 7: InnocentThe seventh time around he was good at spotting patterns. Very good. Maybe too good for his own good. So sharp you’ll cut yourself was the saying, wasn’t it? And that time around he was wary of wolves.
So nothing suspicious happened. No mysterious course malfunction leading him to a little blonde girl with a Hi! My Name is Rose Tyler nametag carrying a stuffed wolf. No bumping into strange earthlings in red hoodies on distant planets wandering around the coincidentally named Wolfshead Cape. No, this time it was far more subtle.
Doctor Losvuk hadn’t been the one to produce the virus. By coincidence he hadn’t even been Serbian. He’d simply been a reasonably intelligent physician who’s helped answer a few questions about odd symptoms on the neonatal ward. And the Doctor had been too wrapped up in tracking stray time portals and developing an antidote for the viral assimilation process that he’d hardly had anything to do with the actual infants in question.
But he’d always adored children, babies especially. They were still young enough not to be plotting against him or answering back. And he’d had Ace along at the time, who’d seen him at his worst, so playing around with babies had a double appeal. She’d seen enough of what was dark inside him, what happened when he was pushed. He wanted to make sure she knew that wasn't all there was to him. He wanted her to see something nice.
They’d needed someone to look after the seventeen babies in quarantine, and he’d volunteered himself and Ace on the ground they’d both been vaccinated. That wasn’t strictly true, but much simpler than explaining about Time Lord immune systems and forty-fifth century nano-filtration. And seeing as how he’d created the vaccine, no one knew to argue the point.
Ace hadn’t taken well to the information, but after he’d agreed to assume full responsibility for diapers, she relented. And that had been it, really. He’d helped feed the babies, changed them, held them, tickled them, and tucked them in for naps. It was lucky that he didn’t need to sleep every night.
Ace had warmed up to the job a bit, and had taken to smiling more. She found it terribly cute to watch him rock the children to sleep. After a day, half the nursing staff was vaccinated, and he had little to do. After two days, the staff was at full strength, and they’d been approved to leave.
It was centuries before he bothered to backtrack who had been at that particular hospital in 1987, and found the name Rose Tyler on the list. And he still couldn’t say which one she’d been, since the wristbands for identification had gone missing.
But he’d held and rocked the babies, bottle fed them and tucked them in, and given an occasional impulsive kiss on the forehead. And he’d willingly wager that of all the children there, he’d kissed Rose Tyler on the forehead exactly once.
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Chapter 8: The morning of the warThe eighth kiss happened just before. Before…the war. It was 2030, in his eighth body, and he was at a football match. Being (so he’d thought) between traveling companions at the moment, he’d stopped off for a bit of relaxation. Manchester United v. Wolverhampton, quite a rare match-up.
The Wolves had just scored when he felt someone take his hand. He turned. It was a woman. She was somewhere in her forties with brown hair, an attractive build and big brown eyes. Her face wore an expression of urgency and mysterious sorrow. But it was her jumper that startled him, an old blue one of washed-out wool that he’d bought for Victoria, centuries ago.
“Come with me.” The woman pulled on his arm. “It’s important.”
He turned to the match. He’d been hoping to see Manchester rally, and it was frightfully dangerous to attend the same event twice. He’d be forced to catch the end on the telly. Ah well, such was life. He followed her.
She let him by the hand out of the stadium, straight to where he parked the TARDIS. “Would you mind,” he asked, “telling me what is going on here?”
“I can’t.” she replied stopping outside the blue box.
“I see. Fair enough. It’s just if there’s some sort of emergency on that you want me to assist with, I might be more helpful if I knew what was going on.”
“There’s no emergency.” The woman turned to face him. “And you will help.” Her eyes were wet with tears.
“Are you alright?” he asked.
The woman shook her head. “God, you look so young.” She turned away. “So innocent. I didn’t know you were going into it like this.”
A chill ran down his spine. “Going into what?” He’d been trained since his first day of school against that sort of questions. Interfering with his own future, poking holes in causality, damaging the web of time. But he still had to ask. “Going into what?”
“You’ll find out.” The woman wiped her eyes. “Any minute now. Time is short. I didn’t come here to frighten you.”
He put his hand on her shoulder. “What did you come for? If you’re from my future you must know it’s dangerous to interfere.”
“It’s alright. This time it’s worked out. I just wanted to see you before….thing are going to get bad. I wanted to tell you that as bad as it gets, as desperate, as hopeless as it may seem, it will get better. Don’t despair. Although it doesn’t seem like it, there will be someone waiting for you after.”
Then she reached up, put her hands on the back of his head, pulled him down and kissed him. As her lips touched his, he felt something like an explosion in the back of his mind. An alarm. The alarm. Gallifrey.
As if sensing it, she pulled away. “Time to go. They need you. The universe needs you. Goodbye.” She stepped back, gave a little wave, turned and walked off.
He stared after her for a moment, his hand on his mouth. She walked off towards the car park, climbed into a vehicle and drove away. She’d said things were going to get bad. Mind you, when he returned to Gallifrey it was rarely good. And when they used the recall alarm, it was even worse. He turned to unlock the door.
She also said don’t despair. Someone would be waiting for him. A future companion, probably her. But he'd be different. Older looking, maybe a different body. And less innocent. That was the frightening bit. By any standards he cared to contemplate, he hadn’t been innocent for a long time.
He programmed the coordinates for Gallifrey, and set off. It must have been thousands of times he’d told his companions ‘Brave heart’ or 'don’t lose hope'. No one ever bothered much about telling him.
He wasn’t sure if he should be more reassured that someone had bothered, or frightened that they thought he was going to need it.
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Chapter 9: Everything you know is wrong Strangely he hadn’t seen it the moment he met her, that time around. Nor a week later in Cardiff or a month after in London. Not even after the ball in Peladon when she’d come back nervous.
He’d heard her name, but it was a common name, Rose. If he sat down trying to remember all the Roses he knew….well he’d once managed to kill a week on every Dorothy he’d known and hadn’t even made a dent. Her best mate Shireen didn’t have such a common name, but that wasn’t much to go on.
And he was barely thinking past the next alien menace then. He kept Rose around for company, so he wasn’t talking to the walls, and so he’d have a reason to pop over and visit places where no one was being killed. The last thing he’d wanted was to look back.
It was after the bad business with Van Statten and the Dalek that he’d begun to notice the words. He’d checked on the company website to see how things changed. To make certain it was really gone. The node stabilizers were suspicious, and then they landed on Satellite Five with Bad Wolf TV staring him right in the face. Something was out there. Something big and powerful enough to play games with time, and it was following him and Rose.
He’d needed Rose by then, needed her to for more than an excuse to go to the beach. She was someone to care about, in person, not just in abstract. With her around it wasn’t just mathematics, saving the most he could. She demanded miracles from him, just by being there. Her presence required that he save the world, save her, and make everything all right On top of that, she insisted that he be alive. Properly alive.
And in return she gave him the biggest miracle of all. He didn’t become a monster, and he didn’t go mad. At the darkest point, he had put the gun down. If he had Rose’s eyes on him, he didn’t break. And he’d seen what happens to the Universe when a Time Lord breaks.
He’d started investigating after that. The usual suspects, ultra-powerful beings from before the dawn of time that he’d pissed off at some point. He’d checked Fenric first, but it appeared to be dormant, and no one around had the right genes. Not Rose, not Adam, not Captain Jack or Mickey. Not even Harriet Jones, MP Flydale North.
Then he checked Osirans, but they were all dead. Genuinely dead. The Eternals hadn’t anything to do with this, nor the chronovores, nor the Black or White Guardians. He’d put months of effort on the quiet, hoping not to alarm Rose and all he discovered was that he knew a ridiculous number of godlike menaces from beyond time. And he’d pretty well pissed off the lot.
Then one night, after they’d brought Jack on board, the two of them were swapping bad date stories. And Rose had started on about some charming Greek student she’d met a year ago when she and Mickey were on the outs.
“But his friends, his friends were weird. And the names were a bit daft, I mean I looked it up and Theta’s not a proper name anyways it’s like a letter or something.” His ears perked up, but he didn’t move from the chair and tried to look like he was still absorbed in Dickens. “And they said there was another one, Koshchi or something,” she paused to mentally check the pronunciation “and that don’t sound Greek at all. More like Russian.”
Jack laughed. “Maybe they were spies. Russian agents. The whole Cold War thing, that was your time, wasn’t it?”
Rose shook her head. “You’re off a bit there. That finished when I was small. Doctor?”
He didn’t look up. He didn’t dare look up.
“You know a name like Koshchi? Is it something Russian?”
“Koschei. Yeah. Mythological. Koschei the Deathless was an evil sorcerer who magically made himself nearly impossible to kill.” If he kept talking, kept his feet on the table and his eyes on the book, they wouldn’t notice anything odd. “Story has it he removed his own soul.” That was a lifetime ago. “He stuffed the soul in an needle, the needle in a duck, the duck in a rabbit, bound the rabbit in an iron chest and buried the whole lot on a disappearing island in the middle of the sea.” Her face, if he could just focus on her face. “Only way to kill him was find the island dig up the chest, unlock it, cut open the rabbit and the duck, break the egg, take the needle, and crack it against his forehead.” That night in the club, it was Rose. His Rose.
“Wow.” said Jack. “Some date.”
Rose frowned. “How do you fit a duck in a rabbit? It wouldn’t go.”
After that things got a bit sidetracked and she never finished her story. But then the bits started falling into place. The department store. The seaside. The key in the sewer grating. The Peladonian ball.
The football match.
Manchester versus the Wolves.
Sometimes he wanted to give the universe a smack.
He’d never told her about the match, never told anyone.
He double-checked, and triple-checked. He made incessant inquiries. He even checked his own genetics in case he’d had wolves of Fenric in his family tree. It got so that the few things from beyond time that weren’t already plotting to kill him threatened to start. And finally, in Cardiff, he asked. Pointed out the words, big as life, right there on the wall, and asked if anyone knew anything about it.
The only thing he learned from that was that humans, even the bright ones were less observant than he thought.
After the trip to Raxicoricofalipitorious, the TARDIS developed the inevitable worrying groan. And Jack had been up for a good day’s overhauling. And Rose had wanted to park somewhere relaxing so she could duck out for a nice evening’s stroll. So he’d parked along the shoreline of Valpasia, far enough away he wouldn’t see himself.
And he’d let her go out, and spent the day in the TARDIS adjusting wires with Jack. He hadn’t gone out for a moment, so he wouldn’t risk bumping into himself (awkward) or Adric (even worse). And even when she came stumbling back, drunk but relieved in some mysterious way that he’d been there twice and still didn’t quite understand, he kept his mouth shut.
But in the end there’s been the Daleks and the approaching doom and he’d walked right into it. The Daleks were the Bad Wolf, playing with history, with humanity, and with him. It was there, all laid out. But Rose was in there, in some way he didn’t want to imagine.
So he readied the weapon, sent her off, and prepared to die. So there’d be humanity and somewhere there’d be Rose. But as he worked on the weapon, time ran short, and he knew. He was going to have to press the buttons again. To wipe out the Daleks by killing them all. In the end his hand had faltered, and he couldn’t press the button twice. Even if this time offered him the mercy of not having to survive.
Then Rose came though the door and showed him what miracles and mercy really were.
She’d looked into the time vortex, which was insane, and taken it into herself which was completely impossible, and she did it for him. She eliminated the Daleks with a wave of her hand, and restored the dead to life with a wish. She gave life, she took life, and she saved him from having the doom of the human race on his hands.
And in that moment, on the space station, in a room full of dead computers, he saw, or thought he saw the answer to it all. She had scattered the words Bad Wolf across time and space. She gave life and took it as easily as a thought. She was strong enough to create all of this. She was dying of power. He needed her. And everything he’d tried was wrong.
So he stepped up. He took her by the hand. He followed the guideposts laid out for him through the centuries. And he kissed her in a moment of swirling energy and need. And though he’d never believed in any gods, he kissed his goddess of the time vortex with one prayer in mind.
I need her to live.
He let the energy flood into him, and felt the burning, the warning of the price to be paid. He let it flood back to the TARDIS. Then he carried Rose away to safety in the TARDIS. He made ready for the sacrifice, to let his flesh be torn, simply relieved that they both would live. And he let loose in his mind one last belated wish. That it be over. That whatever games the universe is playing with him and Rose stops. That it let the two of them just be.
But life is never that simple, at lease not for him. And as always, he was wrong.
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Chapter 10: Nothing stops until you make it stop.It had seemed normal when he first had a chance to check. After his regeneration had stabilized and the crises had passed. The “Bad Wolf” was fading. Rose was healthy, the TARDIS was functional, no one had managed to poke a hole in the universe, and he hadn’t lost anything more than one regeneration. Not the best ending he could hope for, but by no means the worst.
Then Rose kissed him. After less than a month.
Not like Rose either. He was fast becoming the expert on Rose’s kiss (okay, not fast by human standards, or even on a Time Lord scale but by geological standards, once a century was fast) and she kissed tenderly. Gently. Not like she was attempting to steal your tonsils.
Mind you, the tonsil stealing approach had advantages too. For one thing it was much nicer than the usual big angry men with scissors trying to cut them out. Plus Time Lords didn’t have tonsils, so he could just enjoy.
But it wasn’t Rose. It was someone or something else in Rose’s head. So he watched, and he waited and he played along. Until he had the information he needed, then he let loose.
Of course it turned out he was completely wrong about who did it and Cassandra got the drop on him. Bit embarrassing that. Still, turned out in the end.
But that’s when he started to worry again.
Cassandra. Lady Cassandra O’Brien Dot Delta Seventeen. Last Homo Sapiens Sapiens and ardent xenophobe. Kissing an alien. On a whim. Granted she was in Rose’s body, and he’d heard enough of what Cassandra said in his body to know Rose fancied him a bit (although he diplomatically claimed not to remember when she asked later).
But he knew enough about humans to know there was a distinction between admiring someone’s appearance and random snogging in corridors. Good thing, otherwise the human race wouldn’t have progressed past the invention of corridors. Something else was pushing for Cassandra to do what Rose wouldn’t. Something was still playing games.
Not Cassandra, she wouldn’t have the power. Top marks for palace intrigues and blackmailing suspicious nuns, but a major feat of temporal engineering was right out of her league. Not Rose. He’d had her checked out every way possible, and the vortex energy was gone. She was in a perfectly normal state of health, and entirely a human being. Not the TARDIS. She hadn’t had anything to do with the first incident, so it couldn’t have been her. The face of Boe might have something to do with it, but he didn’t seem the type.
He kept his eyes open and his mouth shut, and a few days later there was the wolf. Nothing subtle about this one. The Bad Wolf wasn’t playing games anymore. One kiss, the coordinates go wrong, and they’re drawn into a castle with a giant ravening werewolf. You didn’t need five billion languages to spot that one.
They’d been blatantly manipulated. Someone had dropped the TARDIS right where they wanted it, in the path of Queen Victoria and written all over the psychic paper to have him appointed Royal Protector to make sure they would walk right into it. They weren’t even bothering with hints and games anymore. Just dropping him where they wanted, and handing out written instructions on what to do.
Well he wouldn’t. He’d tried waiting and watching and outsmarting and even going along with it in the hope that it would end. None of it worked. So he’d stop. If the psychic paper gave instructions he’d ignore it, or burn the damned thing. If Rose felt a sudden urge to go for a nice relaxing vacation, they could try Brighton. If the TARDIS landed at the Eye of Orion, he wouldn’t open the door. She wasn’t even going to know about the football match. And he wasn’t going to kiss her again.
She fancied him a bit, he knew and in different circumstances he might give things a chance. He wasn’t young anymore and had better things to worry about than his parents’ unhappiness or failings. He had much bigger ones of his own. And even if he had cared, there was no one left on Gallifrey to disapprove. A girl that miraculous, who’d stuck around for so much was a girl worth considering.
But not if they were being manipulated. Not ever like that. So he’d pretend not to notice, even if that meant pretending to be blind, and if they managed to bring some man on board, all the better. Even Mickey would work as a decent distraction.
And maybe she’d find she didn’t fancy him that much at all. Maybe she’d find somebody else. Maybe he’d find somebody else. Stranger things had happened. Most likely after a few years she’d just go home. Nearly all the humans did in the end. Even five years was a long time away from everything you knew. But he could say goodbye now without breaking, so that was okay.
And if one day, he had answers and there were no more mysterious wolves and she was still on board, and she still felt like kissing him, then they’d see.
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