The Doctor watched the incongruous blonde in blue leather wander from table to table on this backwater asteroid bazaar. She seemed familiar but he was positive he would remember meeting her if he had. Even with his occasional memory gaps and lapses, he knew he would recall meeting someone with timelines like hers.
Time danced around her, golden strands glimmering and glittering as they twisted and turned. There was an infinitude of them, like she had once had the entirety of time at her fingertips and in her grasp, as impossible as that was for someone who appeared to be human from his short observation.
He was rather mesmerized, to be quite honest.
The Doctor pushed off the building he was leaning against, brushed off his velvet frock coat and headed towards her, curiosity getting the better of him. He trailed behind her for a few minutes, watching as she chatted with the vendors in broken Yilutian. The Doctor was impressed she knew as much as she did as it was a difficult language for a humanoid to pronounce at the best of times.
He was following her to the next stall when she stopped suddenly and whirled around to face him. She crossed leather-coated arms over her chest and raised an eyebrow as she flicked her eyes over him, obviously assessing his threat level.
“If you’re going to follow me around, you might as well introduce yourself,” she said. English was her language of choice this time, with a London accent if he wasn’t mistaken.
“Terribly rude of me, I apologize,” he answered with his most charming smile, watching the shock play over her face at his own English accent. “I was just curious.”
“About what?” She narrowed her eyes and shifted, subtly getting ready to make a run for it if she needed to. He was rather impressed by her readiness. She must have been traveling for quite some time.
“Oh, just the fact that humans don’t make it to this asteroid for another century at least and yet you seem to be here anyways,” he said mildly, smile never dropping.
“You so sure that I’m human?” she retorted.
The Doctor peeked at her dancing timelines again. They were almost blinding now that he was closer to her and still just as undecipherable.
“Not entirely,” he admitted.
She snorted and looked like she was considering walking away when she turned back eyes wide and alight with hope. “You said humans wouldn’t get here for another century, yeah?”
“I did say that, didn’t I?”
“You could only know that if you were a time traveler,” she said, gaze now searching, looking at him as something other than a potential threat.
He wasn’t entirely sure what she thought he potentially was now but he was less than surprised at her obviously being a time traveler as well. That would account for some of the knots and twists in her timelines. Not for the dancing or the sheer amount, but for some of the complexity.
“I suppose that’s true as well,” The Doctor said with a smile. “You must be as well.”
Her mouth twisted into a sad smile. “Used to be.”
“Could I interest you in a cup of tea?” he blurted out before he really thought the better of it. Something inside of him insisted that this woman should never be sad, that he should always try to make her happy.
He wasn’t sure where that urge came from but he was going to listen to it for now.
“Don’t think they sell any ‘round here,” she said, gesturing to the bazaar around them.
“I have some on my ship.”
She looked at him carefully. “Alright, that sounds like a bit of a line but I haven’t had a decent cuppa in a week so lead the way!”
He offered her his arm and felt his hearts lighten and trip over themselves when she giggled and took it.
“So, you don’t look like a Time Agent,” she ventured after a few moments of silence.
He made a face. “Those idiots are amateurs who should never have been allowed time travel technology.”
She laughed again. “You sound just like someone I used to know. Used to rail about the Time Agency even when a former agent was travelling with us.”
“They’re astonishingly irresponsible with the Web of Time,” he agreed.
“So if you’re not a Time Agent, how do you go about traveling?”
“I’ve got the best ship in the universe,” he boasted, chest puffing out a bit. “She can take me anywhere.”
The blonde’s smile was impish and looked like it was about to burst into a full-fledged grin at any moment. “Full of it, you are.”
“What about you?”
“Oh, used to travel with a friend in his ship but these days I’m going solo with some experimental tech. Trying to get back home,” she shrugged. “Taking longer than I was hoping it would.”
“I might be able to help,” he offered. “I’m good with tech or I could just give you a lift.”
“Might take you up on that,” she replied with a soft smile. “You remind me a lot of the friend I used to travel with, honestly, the one I’m trying to get back to.”
“Thought you said you were trying to get home?”
She bit her lip before answering. “He is my home. Him and his ship. Promised I was gonna stay with him forever and I’m trying to keep that promise.”
“He’s a lucky man,” the Doctor said. “What’s his name?”
“The Doctor,” she said, affection and love and longing all evident in her voice.
It felt like a lightning bolt had hit him, hearing his own name, and he stopped in his tracks, looking down at the blonde in awe.
“What’s wrong?” she asked, letting go of his arm, obviously confused.
“You said the Doctor?” he asked, needing to hear it again.
“Yeah. Do you know him?”
Perhaps this is why she felt so familiar, he thought. She was from his future.
“My dear, I am the Doctor.”
Her face paled and she took a step closer, searching his eyes. He let her, staring back as he let some of his shields fall away. It felt like she would see right through them anyways.
“Doctor?” She rested a hand on the center of his chest, right between his hearts.
The hope in the single word nearly broke him. What had she been through trying to get back to a future him? What had separated them in the first place? If his own reaction was anything to go by, his future self wouldn’t have wanted them to be apart any more than she did. She didn’t seem to be fazed by the fact that he looked different than the version of him that she knew which implied that she’d been with him through a regeneration and had stayed . There weren’t many who did that.
He had a feeling that this woman was going to be extremely dear to him.
“I believe we have a lot to talk about,” he said. “My offer of tea and a lift still stands.”
“I’m definitely gonna take you up on that now,” she said. “Hopefully the TARDIS can scrounge up some of my favorite blend. Wasn’t able to find any where I’ve been recently.”
“We’ll just have to find out,” he replied. Her timelines brightened when she talked about the TARDIS so fondly and he had a sneaking suspicion that his ship would do anything for her. “May I ask your name, first? I feel at a bit of a disadvantage.”
She laughed and slid the hand that had been on his chest into one of his, twining their fingers together like it was her right. He couldn’t find it in him to argue even a little bit, not when it felt so perfect.
“My name’s Rose. Rose Tyler.”
“Well, it’s lovely to meet you for the first time, Rose Tyler.”
“And it’s better than you could ever imagine to meet you again,” she said, grinning up at him.. “Now take me to your ship. I’ve been away from home for way too long.”
“Your wish is my command,” he promised as he tugged them in the direction of the TARDIS, the words echoing in his head oddly like they were from a timeline not yet lived by him.
He had a golden future forward to, he could already tell.
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