“I trust him because he’s like you. Except with dating and dancing... what?”
“You just assume I’m-“
“You just assume I don’t dance.”
“What are you telling me you do dance?”
Rose’s words had evoked a memory in the Doctor’s head, one that he’d long suppressed. A beautiful memory, before the horror of the Time War. From when he was still a romantic fool instead of a hardened soldier. He didn’t mean for things to turn out this way.
He remembered being back in the TARDIS, an indeterminate amount of years ago...
“What do you mean you don’t know how to dance the Charleston?” Charley exclaimed, hands firmly on her hips “Surely an accomplished man like yourself-“
“That’s exactly the point! Either I’ve never had chance to learn or I used to know and then forgot but I can’t remember.”
“Well, I can’t exactly leave you not knowing something, can I Doctor?” she replied with a chuckle. The Doctor’s pained expression over being outsmarted had amused her. She walked around the console to meet him.
“You are going to learn this, Doctor.”
“Well, you’re in luck. I’ve been told I’m a very fast learner.”
Charley placed her arms around him, distracting him from messing around with the buttons on the console. After the Doctor gave up his task to embrace her, she seized the opportunity to take his arms and hold them out in the correct position.
“Arms like this, Doctor.”
“No fair, Miss Pollard!” he laughed. “We’re floating in the time vortex. Is now really the best time?”
“Now’s a good a time as any, especially as we aren’t in any time in particular.”
“You’ve got me there,” he said with a smile. “Alright then, you’re the expert...”
Charley demonstrated the footwork, the quick kicks in and out, not dissimilar to a step-ball-change. The knee length dress she was wearing shimmered as she danced, her sequins reflecting the blue glow of the TARDIS, sending sparkles around the console room.
“Now you try.”
The Doctor copied, his footwork less than perfect but far from terrible. Charley nodded in approval, a grin spreading across her face. He stopped, looking at Charley and beaming.
“Hmm not bad, Doctor. I think you may just be a natural.”
“You know, I think the Venusians have a very similar dance as part of their courtship rituals,” he replied, thinking aloud than anything else. However, Charley’s face flushed with a faint blush, masked only by the console light.
“I think... what we need is some music,” the Doctor continued, walking over to the record player and switching it on, but not before switching the vinyl with something more appropriate.
“Shaking The Blues Away by Ben Selvin & His Orchestra! You’re familiar with this song, aren’t you Charley?”
The music kicked in and they began to dance together. Hopping and stepping in near-unison, they moved along to the beat of the music. Charley kicked higher, flashing a smirk at the Doctor and he grinned. They grew more energetic until the song finished and they stopped, panting and gasping for breath.
“You’re very good, Charley,” said the Doctor between breaths.
“Why thank you. I used to practice with my sisters.”
“I think it’s time we slowed things down a bit. I’m not a young man,” he laughed, returning to the record player and changing discs, choosing a slower song suitable for a waltz. He walked back over to Charley as the music started to play and offered his hand to her, giving a short bow as he did so.
“May I have this dance, Miss Pollard?”
“Yes you may,” she replied, curtseying.
They pulled each other closer, holding themselves ready for the Doctor to lead. The intro finished and they launched themselves into the dance, the Doctor whirling her around the console and out towards the armchairs. Charley let herself be directed between the furniture, trusting the Doctor’s judgement completely.
1,2,3. 2,2,3. 3,2,3. 4,2,3.
The beat coursed through them, from their heads right down their feet. Their hearts, all three of them, ran at double speed, their bodies closer than the regulations. But they were never ones for rules. Charley felt herself getting warmer, noticing that the space between them was non-existent, their hands clasped tightly together. The Doctor’s hearts pounded furiously against his ribs; he was close enough to see every eyelash and their breath mingled together, causing his to catch in his throat.
They danced all around the console room, the song seeming to last forever. Time felt outrageously slow and Charley wasn’t sure if it was the tension or the vortex causing it but she was sure about one thing. She wanted nothing more than to stay like that until time itself ran out.
The Doctor whisked her in the direction of the door, making Charley somewhat confused as they were still in flight but as soon as she realised what was happening, her chest gave a pleasantly painful jolt. Her back pressed against the solid wood of the exit, and she gazed up into the Doctor’s eyes before giving him a small nod to indicate that he should continue.
He leaned into her, taking a moment to breathe her in. Their foreheads were nearly touching, Charley’s chest heaving with anticipation. One of the Doctor’s hands found their way behind her neck, the other still grasping her hand.
Charley squeezed, prompting him to go on and he brushed a thumb against her cheek. It felt cool to the touch against her warm skin but she was oblivious; preoccupied with the Doctor’s heavy-lidded eyes.
They took two breaths before their lips met.
Charley’s free hand tightened around his waist, her tension rapidly dissolving. The Doctor pulled her closer, tilting his head to kiss her harder. Her lips felt soft against his own, his rough skin brushing against her. He felt her nose nudge against his as she reciprocated, kissing him as if she were starved. She let go of his hand to pull him closer and the Doctor took the opportunity to run his hand up the side of her ribs, lingering a split-second longer at her chest.
He quickly removed it, denying him any more temptation. He couldn’t allow himself to become attached, although he knew it was already too late. He broke away, angry at himself for falling; angry at letting his defences down. With one last kiss on Charley’s forehead he walked away, leaving her dazed and breathless.
Years on and he remembered his Edwardian Adventuress, but now she was gone. Although he was no longer alone, he found himself reminiscing. Any old fool can dream, and when you’ve lived that long your dreams can often haunt you.
“900 years old, me. I’ve been around a bit. I think you can assume at some point I’ve danced.”