“It’s beautiful,” Susan agreed as she looked at the planet they were in orbit around - a planet of blue oceans and green, forested landmasses, the way Earth once was, after the ice age, before man began to make an impact on it. “What’s it called again?”

“Forêt,” The Doctor told her.

By her side Ric started to whirr into action to tell her that it was Earth French for ‘forest’. But she knew French and she got there first.

“As in French for forest?”

“Yes,” he answered. “The original Humans to arrive here were, as far as I have been able to work out, a party of Earth colonists who set out from the spaceport at Marseilles in the 26th century. They crash-landed here rather than the planet they were aiming for and decided to make the best of it. And in my opinion they HAVE. They have a beautiful world and an idyllic way of life.”

“And you have a girlfriend here.” The Doctor was standing behind her, but she could see his reflection in the viewscreen, over the beautiful planet. He was smiling despite all efforts to look cool and collected.

“I have a wife,” he corrected her. “At least I call her that, and she calls me husband. I suppose.…” He shrugged. “No, there is no doubt about it. If my planet still existed, if I were bound by its laws still, I would be labelled as a &*#@£$ and flogged for it in the public square.”

“Crikey? Really?” Susan looked at him in surprise. “Really? They take it that seriously where you come from?”

“Yes,” he answered. “A twelve hour formal ceremony is the only marriage we recognise. The only way in which we can consider such a relationship. And until I met Dominique I would never have considered going against the law of my own people. I’ve never broken any of the Time Lord Laws lightly. But….”

“But on Forêt….”

“Dominique and I…. She swept me off my feet, literally. I loved her from the first moment. And we cut out all the middle men and got straight down to business. She called me husband from the first morning we woke in each other’s arms, and I have never let anyone question her right to do so. Not even myself.”

“That’s sweet,” Susan told him. “Really? Love at first sight.”

“Cupids arrow in both hearts,” he said with a laugh.

“And the two of you have a child?”

“He’s a young man, now. Fifteen years old. Dominic. He’s…, He is Dominique’s joy, My regret… I missed his growing up, and he doesn’t even know I am his real parent. We agreed he should not know.”

“That’s rough on you.”

“I know he’s alive. That’s enough for me. Anyway, let’s see if I can get the right platform, first time. By the workshop. It’s the spring rainy season. They’ll be working inside.”

He got it right. The TARDIS materialised on the rain-soaked platform right outside the workshop. He was ready to run out of the door as soon as they landed. Susan followed behind, Ric hovering at her ankles making a mechanical noise that sounded a bit like a whimper.

“I don’t think Ric likes the rain, Doctor,” Susan said. “Do you think the Professor made him waterproof?”

“Possibly not,” The Doctor considered. “K9 wasn’t so good that way, either. Ric, old thing, what do you reckon?”

“Master-Doctor,” Ric replied. “I think the moisture in the air here is not good for my solenoids. I will return to the TARDIS and download some more literature.”

“Good boy,” The Doctor answered. Susan held the door open for him and he disappeared inside. The Doctor looked a little sad. “Hate to just leave him there. It used to be the same with K9. But really he’s out of place here anyway. They don’t have anything like him in their technology. There are bound to be lots of planets like this. We really ought to find a good home for him where his talents can be put to use and somebody will appreciate him.”

A moment later he forgot all about Ric as a tall, dark haired boy with brown eyes ran out of the workshop door just before a red-headed, green-eyed woman. The Doctor seemed surprised by the way the boy hugged him so affectionately.

“It is good to see you, mon père,” the boy said. It was a few moments before The Doctor realised what he had said.

“What?” He held him at arms length and looked at him. “What…. But…. How did you…?” He looked at Dominique. She stood with a warm smile on her lips, waiting for her chance to hold him. “I thought you weren’t going to tell him.”

“She didn’t,” Dominic said. “I saw it in her thoughts. She thinks of you every day. And in her thoughts she calls you my father.”

“You can read people’s thoughts?”

“In the past year it has become stronger,” he answered. “Mother is the only one who knows. She told me it comes from you. That’s when she had to admit the truth to me.”

“Yes, you ARE my son. If there was any other doubt, the fact that you have developed those skills at the expected age confirms it. Forgive our deceit. The reasons….”

“I understand the reason,” he answered. “Mother wants you to herself. I can feel her impatience.” The boy grinned and turned. As his mother and father embraced and kissed lovingly he stood back.

“Are you travelling with my father?” he asked Susan. “What planet are you from?”

“I’m Susan,” she told him. “I’m from Earth. And The Doctor is my friend.”

“Then you are welcome in our home,” he told her. Dominique, when she finally took her lips away from The Doctor’s, confirmed that. She told Dominic to go and store his paints and lock off the spinning wheel. There would be no more work this afternoon. Then they climbed the ladder that brought them to the living quarters. In the fine weather that was still several weeks away, this room was hardly used. The platform outside was their place of resting and eating and amusement. But in the bitterly cold time just gone and the dark, rainy season they were in now, this room with cushions covered over with furs and rugs and the stove where food was cooked, was cosy.

Two other people joined them in their leisure. Dominic introduced the young girl as Thérèse and The Doctor noticed a look in his eye when she sat beside him and realised Dominic had grown up a LOT since he saw him last.

The other was a young man of twenty whom he remembered as Jareth’s younger brother – Dominique’s brother-in-law through her marriage to that good man who had cared for her in the years he was absent.

His warmest smile, The Doctor noted, was for Susan. He reached out his hand to her.

“Suzette,” he said. “From Earth. And a friend of The Doctor, it is good to meet you. I am Miche.”

“Susan,” she corrected him. “Miche...”

“It is short for Jean-Michelle,” he told her.

“That’s a nice name,” she answered. He smiled and called her Suzette again. She decided she rather liked to be called Suzette.

Thérèse and Miche were both, it transpired, apprentices in the spinning, weaving and hand painting arts that Dominique and her son both excelled at and were pleased to have the afternoon off to spend time with their guests.

Dominique prepared a meal for them. Before Miche claimed her attention again Susan looked around and took in the fact that she was in a house built onto the side of a tree. A rope ladder hung down in one corner leading up to another level - Dominique’s bed room, and above that, Dominic’s room - all self-contained against the weather.

The Doctor and his son were carrying on two conversations at once. One out loud among his friends, and a telepathic one, in which they said many of the things that had, of necessity, been left unsaid.

“Mother said it was her idea to keep the secret. In case I yearned to leave with you and see the stars.”

“You are a Forêtean first and foremost, Dominic. It was right that you should stay here.”

“I know that, mon père. I understand. But ever since I knew… I have longed to call you that. My father.”

“It gladdens me, too,” he answered. “Though I hardly deserve to be called it. I have not been a real father to you.”

“I know you love my mother. That is enough.” Dominic smiled warmly at his father before saying something to Thérèse at his side.

“She’s special to you?” The Doctor asked and he felt the telepathic equivalent of a blush wash over him.

“When we’re older, I hope she will be,” Dominic said and The Doctor nodded and sighed. His son, whose life he had missed so much of, already had his own sweetheart. He regretted more than ever the missing years. “It’s all right, isn’t it, father?”

“I have no right to object,” The Doctor admitted. “She is a pretty girl. You take care of her.”

They ate a pleasant lunch and The Doctor helped Dominique to clean the dishes afterwards while Dominic, who would have done that chore otherwise, was free to introduce Susan to a game a little like chess, but less formalised, using a board and pieces hand carved, he said, by his other-father, Jareth, some time before he died. He spoke of Jareth with affection, even though he had taken to using that phrase ‘other-father’ for the man he had once thought to be his biological parent.

Susan took to the game quickly enough and after beating Dominic, played a hard fought game against Miche, who, she was sure, eventually LET her win. Then they sat with The Doctor and Dominique and watched Dominic and Thérèse play the game - called Sauter because the pieces ‘jumped’ over each other to gain advantage.

A gentle afternoon thus passed and Dominique made another meal for them all. While they ate, the rain stopped. Dominic got up and opened the shutter and between dripping branches, starting to bud, there were weak rays of sunlight.

“The warm sun days will soon be upon us,” he said.

“They will, indeed,” his mother acknowledged. “Though I think this is but an interval yet.”

“Suzette,” Miche said. “You have not seen our village yet. May I take advantage of the sunshine to escort you?”

Susan looked at The Doctor before she accepted his offer. Dominic and Thérèse stood, too, reaching out to hold hands with each other. They offered to join them in a walk.

“Mother wants to be alone with you,” the boy told The Doctor telepathically. The Doctor grinned at him. He KNEW that without any telepathy needed. As the four youngsters left the room he lay back on the cushions and turned his smile on Dominique, who came to his side at once.

“I’m sorry it has been such a while,” he told her as he embraced her in his arms. “More than a year. Two cold seasons.”

“My dreams of you kept me warm,” she assured him. “But…” Her eyes seemed dim for a moment. “I have to ask. Susan… She is beautiful, and young… the age I was when we first….”

She didn’t need to go on. The Doctor understood. He berated himself for not expecting the question. Before when he visited, he was either alone, or in mixed company. Susan alone with him, was bound to make her wonder. Dominique WAS, indeed, barely twenty years old when he first looked into her flashing emerald eyes and found himself smitten, and that was many years ago, now.

“She is a friend,” The Doctor assured Dominique. “You are my wife. And you look as lovely as you ever do.”

“I am a year older,” she admitted. “I will always be a year older. While you are young and handsome and I don’t need to see people’s minds as you and Dominic both can to know that Susan is fond of you.”

“In the way you were fond of your brother,” The Doctor assured her. “That is the kind of bond we have. Do not doubt it. Dominique, I love you.”

“When I am very old, and you are still as young and handsome as you are now….”

“You know,” he said. “There are some who don’t think I’m all that handsome. I’ve been accused of having a face like a weasel and boggle eyes. I used to get picked on for my ears and nose, but that’s another story.”

Dominique laughed, as he hoped she would. He understood her fears. But he knew his answer to them. He put his hands either side of her still flawless face. She was forty now, though the good, healthy living meant that she didn’t look it yet. She looked the same age as he did, both of them giving the lie to the world. But while he would stay looking thirty-five for a long time, she would not. The years would catch up with her soon enough. Ten years would make her fifty, then sixty, seventy… He wondered what the lifespan was for people on Forêt. Barring accidents, their lifestyle was good. She could live to a hundred. But her face would line. The red hair would turn grey. Her bones would become brittle. Perhaps even those lively green eyes would be afflicted by old age.

But he would never stop loving her. He would not let his head be turned by any young face as long as she was alive.

“I believe you,” she whispered. He was surprised.

“You can’t read my thoughts.”

“Just then I could,” she answered. “I felt it so strongly. You were touching my face and thinking so hard. Yes, my love, I believe you.” She reached up and stroked his cheek. “I don’t know what a weasel is, or a boggle, either. To me, you are handsome, and when I am an old woman, I hope my eyes will not dim too much. If I can look on your face, as it is now, I shall not feel the years.”

“Then I promise,” he told her. “I won’t change my face as long as you live.”

The respite from the rain continued into the evening. When others of Dominique’s friends finished their daily chores, they all came to the platform outside her living quarters and a fire was lit in the brazier there. A party celebrated the visit of The Doctor and his friend who was new to Forêt. Susan was overwhelmed by the hospitality the people gave to her as a stranger. The Doctor noticed that Miche kept close by her no matter who else talked to her. He still called her Suzette, and she answered to it. What may come of that, he wasn’t sure. But nothing that could harm her, he was almost sure.

“Come,” Dominique said. “They do not need us.” She took The Doctor by the hand and they climbed up to the high walkway where it was quiet. They looked down at their friends and listened to a song somebody had begun. It was a ballad that told the story of the Forêtean victory over the Robos, and the stranger who made it possible, The Doctor.

“You’re a legend,” Dominique told him. “That song will be sung long after we are ALL dead and gone and nobody remembers who we are.”

“I know,” The Doctor said with a smile. “Good job I don’t wear hats. I could get big headed about it all.”

They climbed higher, away from the music, away from the camp fire, to cool night air, the stars above them and a dizzying drop below.

“I used to hate heights,” The Doctor said. “Until I came here.” Then he said nothing at all, and they didn’t walk anywhere for a long while as they kissed lovingly.

“I used to think I would never love again until I came here. Before, in the past, it hurt so much, letting my hearts belong to somebody else. I was ready to close them completely and never dare….”

“Daring is what life is about,” Dominique told him. “That’s why… when I met you… do you remember….”

He laughed as he remembered. He had barely stepped out onto the planet when she had grabbed him by both hands and plucked him up into the trees. He had swung in the air by her arms on the end of a bungee rope, and in that moment he had put his trust in her. He trusted her not to drop him. Later that same DAY he had trusted her to love him completely.

Yes, until then, he had been a loyal son of Gallifrey and even if he bent the Laws of Time out of shape in the name of right and justice, he had been serious about the tradition and the law that dictated how a man and woman conducted themselves. But that night he had let her take him by the hand into her bedroom, and he had forgotten he was a Time Lord, forgotten about rules, about tradition, and remembered only one thing.

The last time he loved a woman he had not even dared to tell her he loved her and when he tried, it was too late to do so.

So when Dominique came into his life, he had grabbed with both hands. He had not let anything get in the way.

But he felt guilty about it. He had been a real husband to her for such a short time. He had treated her as if she was just a port in a storm, a warm place to lay his head when he was weary. She was always ready for him. She accepted that role in his life without complaint. She called him her husband.

But most people would simply call her his mistress. His bit on the side.

Or worse.

And that had to change.

“I love you, Dominique,” he said. “And I want… Even though I CAN’T stay here always with you, I want you to be my wife in the REAL sense.” He looked down and across the clearing to the Hall of Devotions. “I should have done this long ago. Certainly before Dominic was conceived. Dominique… Let us be married according to your tradition.”

For a moment she didn’t answer him and he wondered if he had said the WRONG thing.

“Yes,” she whispered with eyes bright and her smile as wide as possible. “Oh, yes. I should like that.”

His smile matched hers, caught in the firelight from below.

“Tomorrow, I will sit at the loom and weave enough silk for a dress,” he told her. “If you can sew it in time… this day next week can be our wedding day.”

“Yes,” she agreed.

They stayed in their own quiet place until the party below quietened and everyone returned to their own places of rest. When they came down to the platform Dominic and Susan were tidying up. But they forgot about the chores when they heard the news.

“I’m so pleased for you,” Susan told The Doctor, hugging him joyfully as Dominic embraced his mother and assured her of his approval. “Really, really thrilled.”

“Thank you,” The Doctor said. In a strange kind of way, having her say that, it almost felt as if his own Susan, his grandchild from the first time he risked his hearts on love and took to the domestic life, had given her blessing to him. It was silly to think that way, but Susan had filled that role for him, his surrogate child. And he WAS glad she approved.

“It doesn’t change our arrangement,” he assured her. “We are still going to travel. The Doctor and Susan in the TARDIS. Only…a little more often, it is going to be The Doctor and Dominique touching heaven in the treetops.”

“So we get to visit this lovely place inbetween the scary stuff?” Susan smiled. “I can live with that.”

“Jean-Michelle will be pleased enough, I think,” The Doctor said with a smile.

“He seems a nice boy,” she said. Then Dominique claimed The Doctor’s arms again, and her son brought them a cup of mildly alcoholic fruit juice. They shared the cup while he and Susan had a cup each. The betrothal was sealed thus before everyone said goodnight. Susan went to settle for the night in the living room. Dominic quickly disappeared up to his own room. The Doctor and Dominique took their leisurely time going up to the place where they slept.

Where THEY slept, The Doctor thought as they undressed and slid into the warm bed. He had been born in a mansion, raised in Ambassadorial residences. As a youth he had at various times felt at home in a Shaolin Monastery and a boarding house in Victorian London. Later he spent time in Milan where he roomed with a young man called Puccini who loved wine, women and music in any order they came to him. Later still, for a short time, his home was officially a junk yard in East London, about as far from the mansion of his birth as it was possible to get.

For more than half of his life the TARDIS was the only place he COULD call home.

Now he was ready to make a tree in a forest his mailing address.

It was a big thing. His hearts fluttered alarmingly as he lay there in the arms of the woman he had pledged his life to. He knew the wanderlust would never die. He ALWAYS wanted to be out there among the stars. He loved reaching new places in the TARDIS. He loved having somebody like Susan to teach the mysteries of the universe.

But now, until the end of her life, he would have Dominique as his wife. He would have a life here, that he could, and would, return to as a respite from the wandering life.

He was a lucky man.

The next day, the preparations for the wedding enveloped the whole village. Dominique was, after all, officially the leader of the village. That she was getting married was a big event, even though everyone knew she had called the man she was marrying husband for many years before. The Hall of Devotions had devoted attention to it by the carpenters and the painters of the village, and a feast was prepared and music practiced.

The Doctor was true to his word and while Thérèse, Miche and Dominic span the thread his hands blurred on the loom as he wove yards of silk. Susan and Dominique sewed it into a wedding dress.

“One tradition from my world,” The Doctor said, emerging from the TARDIS after they had broken the work to eat their midday meal. “The bride’s worth is measured by the jewels sewn into her dress.” He dropped a canvas sack the size of a sugar bag onto the pile of half finished silk.

“There must be a million pounds worth there,” Susan told him as she ran her hands through the cool, glittering diamonds.

“Then that’s what she’s worth,” The Doctor replied. On Forêt, there was no such thing as money, and jewels had no worth at all. They were just pretty things. But on planets where they DID have a value, Susan’s estimate could be squared and squared again and then multiplied by ten.

Yes, the diamonds had a value that could be measured. But Dominique was priceless to him.

The night before the wedding he didn’t sleep beside her. He could at least keep some of the traditions of his own race. After a pleasant evening with their friends, he kissed her fondly and climbed to the high observation platform where they had observed the comet that nearly destroyed the planet. He had a piece of chalk with him and drew on the boards a neat Seal of Rassilon, a pattern he learnt to draw from memory as a child not long after he mastered squares, triangles and hexagons. Then he knelt in the middle of it and looked up at the stars in a clear, cloudless spring sky. He looked down and let his mind drift over the sleepy but content minds of all the people in this village he loved. Then he cleared all his thoughts and put himself into a third level meditative trance as part of the purification ritual before he was married to the woman he loved.

It got cold during the night, but it didn’t bother him. He had often meditated in the open air in that way. When he roused himself he felt wonderful.

He slipped down the ladder and into the TARDIS. In the wardrobe he found a suitable outfit for the wedding. The full Prydonian regalia was a little too much, but he found a simple black robe with a silver Rassilon seal on the front and a cloak that fastened with a clasp moulded on his own family seal. He looked at himself in the mirror and smiled happily.

“No cloister bells,” he whispered. “No mauve alerts. No trouble. Let me have this day to myself. I’ll fight the universe’s battles again afterwards.” He went back through the TARDIS to the console room. “Wish me luck, Ric,” he said.

“Good luck, Master-Doctor,” Ric answered.

As he stepped out of the TARDIS Dominic and Miche met him. They were his attendants at the Hall of Devotions while Susan and Thérèse were Dominique’s handmaidens.

“You must come with us first,” Dominic said. “Then mother comes after.”

“Yes,” The Doctor noted. “Just as it is on Gallifrey.” He walked with them across the walkway to the Hall of Devotions, which had been beautifully decorated with spring flowers. Almost everyone in the village was there already as he stepped up to the altar where the Minister of Devotions waited patiently.

Dominic gave a gasp of surprise as the door opened once again and the handmaidens stepped inside before the bride herself. The Doctor held his breath as he watched her approach him.

She didn’t look like the mother of a fifteen year old boy now. The years seemed to have dropped away and she was the lovely young woman who first took his breath away. The silk dress glittered and shone with diamonds, and she smiled joyfully as she walked towards where her groom stood.

“She looks so beautiful,” Dominic whispered.

“That she does,” The Doctor answered as he reached out and took her hand in his. He turned with her to the Minister of Devotions who began the simple but beautiful ceremony, a full eleven hours shorter than it would have been on his own planet, but in its way fully binding on them both until death. He fully meant to be her husband until then, even if he couldn’t be with her all the time.

There was one moment when it almost seemed like the ceremony couldn’t continue. He realised that nobody on this planet knew his real name. The Minister looked at him with a puzzled expression. He looked at Dominique. She took his hand and said his name that he had whispered to her once as he lay in her arms. Then she made her vows of love and devotion to him. He made the same vows to her and slid a ring onto her finger - a ring forged by the metalsmith of the village but with Gallifreyan gold from the same vault in the TARDIS that the diamonds came from. She put a second ring on his own finger. The Minister said a few more words and they were married.

The villagers celebrated in style. The wedding of their village leader was an excuse for setting aside work and enjoying themselves. A great deal of fermented fruit juice was drunk and there was music and dancing and general joyfulness.

The party would go on into the night, but as the lamps were lit in the evening The Doctor took his bride by the hand and they headed for the TARDIS. Susan stood with Dominic, Thérèse and Miche.

“I promised Dominique long ago that I would show her beautiful places out there,” The Doctor told them. “Don’t worry, Dominic, I will look after your mother.”

“I know you will, mon pére,” he answered. They hugged lovingly. Then The Doctor looked at Susan.

“You’ll be all right?”

“Course I will. At least… I don’t mind hanging out here for a couple of weeks while you have a proper honeymoon,” she told him. “But no longer than that. Don’t go forgetting me.”

“I won’t,” he promised. “I’m sure you’ll have a nice time. Dominic wants to teach you to play Bâton Haut.”

“Miche wants to teach me to spin silk,” she countered.

“Miche wants to teach you a lot of things,” The Doctor noted. He paused and looked at her. Surrogate parent was, for that moment, a very real role. On behalf of her parents he needed to give her the right advice now.

“It IS all right,” he assured her. “Jean-Michelle is a good man, just as his brother was. If you and him…. You’re nearly twenty years old. Neither I, nor anyone has a right to stop you following your heart. Just be sure it is what you want, first.”

“We’ll see how it goes,” she answered, grateful for all that was unspoken as well as spoken in those words. “Don’t go leaving Ric on some strange planet while you’re busy snuggling up with Dominique.”

He laughed. She gave him a kiss on the cheek and then stood back. It was strange seeing the TARDIS disappear without her. She did feel a little uncertain. She wasn’t even sure how far away from Earth she was.

“You won’t have time to miss him, Suzette,” Miche told her and put his hand on her shoulder. “Tomorrow there is much work to be done. You can start learning to load the spindle.”

“Oh, joy!” Susan answered.

“But first… there is dancing.” She smiled as he took her in his arms for a slow, romantic dance. The music was a long way from the kind of thing she used to listen to, but she was also a long way from Earth, and that hardly bothered her.

Romance had never really been something that interested her before. She didn’t reject it. She just felt there was plenty of time for it. But now, in the last place she ever dreamt of finding it, she looked into the eyes of a handsome man as he danced with her in the firelight and she knew anything was possible.

As the days went by she found herself enjoying living life as a Forêtean. She and Miche, Dominic and Thérèse worked happily together by day and spent their evenings in quiet entertainments. Both of the young men enjoyed hearing Susan tell them about her life with The Doctor, and when she ran out of adventures she talked often about Earth. They both found it fascinating, though it was Miche, more than Dominic, who asked her about it.

“I wouldn’t really want to leave Forêt,” Dominic insisted, glancing at Thérèse as he said so. “Besides, Earth sounds like it has so many people on it.”

“It does,” she said. “Millions, billions.”

“I would find that terrifying,” Dominic said. “I don’t think I want to travel.”

“I think your mother would be glad of that,” Susan told him. “And The Doctor. They’re both afraid that you might want to leave.”

“I know,” he said. “But really, they have nothing to worry about. I have no desire to leave my home. I want to learn my craft, marry Thérèse in a few years, and be happy.”

“I should like to go,” Miche said. “To see your planet.”

“It was your planet once. Your ancestors came from there.”

“Is that really true?” Miche asked. “I always heard it, but I wasn’t sure.”

“The Doctor says so,” Susan told him. And that seemed enough proof.

“I would have liked to see my father’s planet,” Dominic said. “But it was destroyed by the Robos - the same creatures that killed my uncle before I was born.”

“Have you seen a Robo, Suzette?” Miche asked her.

“You mean Daleks? No, The Doctor says they ARE all gone now. He finished them off. Though when he says it, there is something in his eyes, as if he wonders if they WILL be back one day.”

“Not to Forêt?” Miche looked fearful. “I remember. I was just a boy, but I remember them. We used to live in such fear.”

“I don’t think The Doctor would let anything happen to Forêt,” Susan said. “He cares about this planet.”

“He cares about the whole universe.”

“He LOVES my mother,” Dominic said with a smile. “That’s why this planet means so much to him.”

“I wish they were back,” Susan sighed. “I miss him.”

“But you have us,” Miche told her. He smiled at her. She smiled back. She was starting to understand how it was that The Doctor had so easily fallen in love with Dominique. For her, lately, her ideal was a blue eyed man in homespun clothes. She knew he was interested in her. He found every opportunity to sit next to her and to talk to her, to be with her in the evening, taking walks around the high walkways.

But the closest they had been yet was when they danced at The Doctor’s wedding. He seemed shy of getting any closer to her.

They had not yet kissed.

Until one evening after The Doctor had been gone for a fortnight and she had almost started not to mind that he was gone and she was stranded on a strange planet.

She and Miche stood on one of the high walkways looking down on a torchlit Bâton Haut practice in the evening of a fine, pleasant day.

“Suzette,” he said to her, and his hand covered hers as it rested on the railing. “Suzette, do you have to return to Earth when The Doctor comes back?”

“Not straight away. There are other places he means to take me. But I am only with him for a little while. Eventually I must go home to my ordinary life.”

How far away that life was now! She had almost forgotten that her ambition was to be a journalist. She had almost begun to think it was to be a silk weaver.

“And you will never travel again? Never come back here?”

“No,” she said. “I won’t. Earth people in my time don’t have the ability to travel in space. Not deep space like this. The best they’ve managed is our own moon. I was born about five hundred years before your ancestors even came here. If it wasn’t for The Doctor, I couldn’t have dreamed of such a thing.”

“So you would be too far away for me ever to see you again?”

“Far away and in another time,” Susan answered.

“Then… Then I shall ask The Doctor to take me to Earth in your time, so I can see you,” he decided.

“You would do that? You really would?”

“Yes,” he said “Suzette….” She gasped as he reached and held her close and then kissed her on the lips. The pink and fluffy magazines she never read would have called it a perfect romantic moment.

It WAS her first REAL kiss.

And it WAS perfect.

“Oh… wow….” she said when he leaned his head back, still holding her close. “Oh….”

“Suzette....” he began. She looked at him and waited for him to continue but they were distracted by a noise she had never expected to hear on Forêt.

“That’s a HELICOPTER!” she exclaimed. “And it should NOT be here.”

The romantic moment was forgotten as she began to run. Something was wrong here and The Doctor wasn’t there.

She was there in his place.

“Oh, Doctor!” she murmured. “I don’t think I CAN.”