Doctor Who, Dr. Who, Chris Eccleston, Christopher Eccleston, Doctor who Fiction

“Right, then,” The Doctor said, “Paris…”

“Fantastic!” Rose echoed his favourite catchphrase. She looked at the viewscreen. “When are we?”

“June 10th, 1889”

“I was born on April 27th, 1986.” She said. “Why are we celebrating in June, 1889?”

“Two reasons – one, I’m damned if I am going to take you to Paris on a cheap rate Eurotunnel special offer like Mickey would have done. It’s your twenty-first birthday, and that’s special for Humans. And two, I happen to have an invite to the opening night of the Eiffel Tower which was June 10th, 1889. So, you know where the wardrobe is. I want you looking like a Victorian lady before we step out there.”

“Well, you had better change too,” she told him. “It’s my birthday. And I’m not going around Paris with you in that jumper.”

“There’s nothing WRONG with this jumper,” he protested, though only in fun. He fully intended to go the whole nine yards for her. Besides, the jumper, like his jacket, still had her blood staining it. And he really NEEDED to change it.

She looked fantastic, he thought, as he watched her finishing her hair in front of the full length mirror in the mysterious room of the TARDIS loosely called the wardrobe. The dress was a deep maroon taffeta, tight at the waist and falling to her feet, but off the shoulders, revealing an enticing amount of bare white flesh.

Time Lords have no sex drive! He laughed inwardly at that intergalactic fallacy. Right now, Rose was severely testing his control over impulses common to the male of any species. He admonished himself severely for the thoughts that crossed his mind. By Earth standards he was forty-five, she was twenty-one. Even that gap was wide enough to cause gossip. But by his own standards, he was nine-hundred and forty-nine and she was twenty-one. Gallifreyans were still considered immature until a hundred, and not ready to marry until two hundred or older.

Either way, every time he looked at her he felt like a child molester. It wasn't helping him sort out his feelings. And there was so much more to it than that, more she didn't know about him yet that might actually scare her so much that what they have now, the tender chemistry that COULD be more if they nudged it that step further, might be destroyed utterly.

“Wow, you look great,” she said as he came behind her. He was wearing evening wear of the period with an opera cloak lined with red that matched her dress. As she looked at him in the mirror he finished the look with a silk top hat. “Like a real lord.”

“I AM a real lord. Time Lord isn’t just a word. I AM from the aristocracy of my home world.”

“I’m just a girl from a council estate.” She mused, suddenly unsure of herself. He put his arms around her from behind, holding those bare shoulders, and his touch on her flesh was exciting to her even if he only meant it as platonic affection. She saw them both in the mirror, he head and shoulders above her, but somehow they looked right together. Like a couple.

“You’re more than that. You always will be.” He leaned down and kissed her on the neck, intending it to be affectionate, but she gave a sudden shiver as if the touch reminded her of something less pleasant and she put her hand to her throat. “It’s all right, Rose,” he assured her. “There’s no mark, no scar. The regenerative process erased it all.”

“It didn’t erase it from my memory.”

“I know. But don’t think of it now. Come on. Paris awaits.”

It was a warm, beautiful summer evening, just a little after seven, as they walked across the river Seinne on the Pont d’Lena, away from the incongruous blue box parked by the lion-guarded balustrade. Rose was having trouble taking in the view before her. She had, of course, seen some incredible sights in her time with the Doctor, but nothing quite prepared her for the Eiffel tower, its four legs straddling the wide road ahead like a great metal creature. Looking up she felt slightly dizzy. She was glad of the strong steadying arm about her shoulder.


“You haven’t seen anything yet,” the Doctor said with one of those grins that caught her breath and stole it away, giving her instead a feeling of euphoria and excitement and anticipation of what was in store. They came to the barrier, beyond which only invited guests were allowed on this auspicious occasion. Rose expected him to use the psychic paper – they had crashed many a party with it. But to her surprise he brought out a beautifully gilt-inlaid invitation card that he handed to the liveried footman who greeted them.

“My Lord.” the man bowed as he handed the invitation back to him. “And Lady… the Royal Party are gathering for drinks on the mezzanine floor. You may take the lift here.” He guided them to one of the four state of the art lifts, designed, Rose learnt from a plaque beside the entrance, by Mr Otis of the USA.

That was nothing to be proud of, she thought. The lift in the flats she grew up in was an Otis, and it worked one day a month on average.

When they stepped out on the Mezzanine level, there was much to be proud of. For a start, she was rather proud of herself and the Doctor as another liveried footman announced them. “The Lord Du Temps and the Lady Rose!” Many of the crowd of European elite already assembled turned to look, and many of the men continued looking as the Doctor held her by the arm and promenaded her through the hall.

“Lord du Temps?” She smiled as her sketchy school French clicked into place. “Time Lord?”

“Why not? Lady Rose.”

“I can live with that.”

“So you should,” he said. “You ARE a lady. Come on, let me introduce you to royalty.”

She was utterly lost for words as he brought her to the other side of the room where the most elite of all were. He went right up to the man that she knew from her history classroom as Prince Albert Edward, future King of England and addressed him as “Bertie.” Whether he had performed some kind of hypnotism or he really DID know the Prince of Wales from some past visit to this time she wasn’t sure, but a moment later “Bertie” was kissing her hand as she was introduced. She barely kept a straight face. She wasn’t sure if she ought to curtsey. She wasn’t sure if she could. Her legs might not have the strength to bring her back up again. But the Prince of Wales seemed unaware of her breach of manners. He was too busy paying her the sort of compliments she would REALLY rather have from the Doctor.

She recalled that Albert Edward HAD been known as a bit of a ladies man.

She was glad when the Doctor claimed her back again just as it was announced that it was time for them to ascend the tower.

“Prince or no prince,” she whispered as they stepped into the lift with the royal entourage. “You keep between me and him, because he’s heading for a slap.”

“Count on it,” he promised, and his disarming smile turned her heart upside down again. “How are you enjoying your birthday so far?”

“Its great,” she said. “Mickey would never have done anything this good.”

He felt a little twinge of guilt when she said that. There was no getting away from the fact that he had beguiled her away from Mickey. She had been happy enough with him before then. If he had never come between them they would probably have got married, got a flat of their own, had several kids….

He looked at her, so radiantly beautiful that she had even turned a Prince’s head – even if it didn’t take much to do that in his case – and the guilt vanished. She deserved better. He hoped - he more than hoped – he WANTED to be that better man and give her the life she deserved.

The lift reached the top observation deck of the Eiffel Tower. The royal party stepped out. The Doctor was as good as his word and steered her away from the Prince who was being given the guided tour by the designer of the Tower, Mr Eiffel himself, who actually didn’t look half so impressive a man as his monument suggested.

“Do you think he was compensating for something?” Rose whispered to the Doctor.

“Well, if the rule of inverse proportions counts, then we probably should feel sorry for him.”

“Or for Mrs Eiffel,” Rose added mischievously. The Doctor laughed out loud then. He had been trying to suppress it, but the risqué little joke they shared broke through his carefully affected dignity. Those who heard his laughter and turned to see a handsome man laughing and a pretty young girl smiling with him just thought they were a beautiful couple.

He thought so too. It was a silly joke, and one he ought to have been ashamed of being a part of, but it was an example of the way they were so often on the same wavelength, sharing an understanding of what was happening around them. They WERE a beautiful couple. A perfect couple. And yet, they were the last people in the universe to realise it.

They stopped by one of the telescopes fixed in place for the visitors to view Paris in close up. He didn’t need it. If he chose, his Time Lord vision could easily bring far off things into close view. For amusement he focussed on some of the great sites of Paris; Notre Dame, Monmartre… then he glanced at Rose and realised that she was doing the same. It gave her Human eyes a slightly glazed look, but she had the power, temporarily.

“It will wear off, won’t it,” she said, referring to the special sight. “So will the feeling that I know what you’re thinking when I look at you.”

“Yes, it will. By tomorrow, I expect. And what AM I thinking?”

“Mostly that you wish Monsieur Eiffel would stop bragging about his tower and take us back downstairs to eat,” she said. “I wish it WOULD last, but since it won’t I intend to make the most of it while I can. And, by the way, not just because you’ve turned me into Supergirl for the day - but because you saved my life - it’s the best birthday present I EVER had.”

“Three-quarters of my blood!” he grimaced. “Sorry I didn’t gift wrap it.” But he laughed at the idea and she laughed too, and again the rest of the room might have ceased to exist for a long, sweet moment that contained only their shared laughter.

The moment was broken by that welcome announcement that it was time to descend once more. Again he kept her away from the royal intentions as they travelled to the bottom of the tower by Otis lift. The dinner was to be served in a special enclosure outside, beneath the great arch of the tower. Tables, elegantly decorated, were set up and a dancing area with an orchestra was already playing soft chamber music. “A table for two,” The Doctor ordered as they entered the enclosure, and they were shown to a seat that overlooked the river.

“So…” Rose said as the soup course was put before them. “You were an aristocrat on Galli… Gall…”

“Gallifrey.” He corrected her, trying not to choke on the name of his destroyed home world.

“That’s the one,”

“Yes.” He took a sip of the very excellent wine that was served with their meal, savouring the taste as he tried to find a way of talking about his home that didn’t hurt so much. “I was born of one of the most respected high caste families.”

“So it’s a… what do they call it… autocracy?”

“Actually, it is - was - a meritocracy. Regardless of your family status, you start at the bottom of the heap at the Time Lord Academy and it is only after 180 years of study that you get to call yourself by that title. When you become a senior and get to take field trips to other planets. And then if you have any ambition you could spend another 200 years in post-graduate studies or rising through the ranks of the High Council. In our family, no fewer than eight generations have been Lord High President of the Council, including my father and myself for a very short time.”

“Now you’re just bragging.”

“I’m not,” he said. “I’ll have you know I worked very hard to qualify as one of the elite of the elite of the most stuck up, superior-minded, insufferable and irritating race in the universe.”

Rose wasn’t sure if he was joking or not. Her borrowed psychic powers told her he was not.

“Sarah did say you hated the place.”

“It was my home. I couldn’t totally hate it. But the political system….” He smiled ruefully. “I was a rebel. I wouldn’t conform, I wouldn’t sit down and shut up. I wouldn’t stand idly by and let tyranny reign throughout the universe.”

“I should think not,” Rose said. She lifted her wine glass. “Here’s to rebellion.”

“Here’s to you, my birthday girl.” He let the distraction push aside thoughts of Gallifrey. Talking about it wasn’t as painful as he expected, but he was glad to move on. For the length of the next few courses of the meal they made small talk just like any two people on a dinner date. He was glad. As unusual as this “date” was, he wanted it to feel normal for her at the same time. Besides, he enjoyed doing ‘normal’ things, too. When WAS the last time he took an attractive woman to dinner? When had he ever felt like he was ‘on a date’. He’d never really had that kind of life. He blessed fate for giving him the opportunity.

“Funny,” she reflected as the waiter refilled her wine glass. “I usually get tiddly after one glass, but I feel fine.”

“That’s the Time Lord blood again,” The Doctor explained. “We don’t get drunk unless we want to. If you concentrated really hard, you could get the effects of alcohol.”

“Why would anyone WANT to do that?”

“I can’t imagine. But we can if we want.”

“It’s weird…” Rose said. “Living in your world even for a little while, feeling what you feel… the WAY you feel it.”



“Good different or bad different?”

“Good different, I think. I like feeling close to you. I don’t want to lose that when the effects wear off. I don’t care about the seeing things close up, and the telepathy, and the being able to drink a bottle of wine without falling over – which is a really handy trick, if you ask me. But I like having a special connection with you. I like….”

She became aware as she talked, that he was not listening. Under the table, she heard the familiar clicking sound of his sonic screwdriver being adjusted. “What….”

“Damn! I couldn’t have just one night off from saving the universe?” He sighed and looked at her. “I think there is a Nestene transmitter at the top of the tower.” He stood up. “You stay right there. I’ll be back before they bring the dessert around.”

And he was gone. She saw him summoning one of the lifts before her attention was taken by a handsome man in a black tuxedo who asked her if she was alone, and could he put her down on his card to dance later. “No,” she told him flatly. “I’m not alone. I’m with the Lord du Temps, and he is the only one I am dancing with.”

The man looked disappointed but went away without making any further designs on her. She glanced at the ornate dance card she had been given. She thought it was blank, but when she looked she saw that every one of the dances were marked off by “The Lord Du Temps”. Out of curiosity, she picked up his card and saw that every dance had been reserved for “the Honourable and Beautiful Lady Rose.” Her heart skipped a beat at what was positively the most romantic thing any man had ever done for her. If there was a better way of saying that he thought she was special she couldn’t think of it. She almost forgave him for rushing off to save the world in the middle of her birthday dinner.

He did, indeed, get back to the table in time for the dessert. By that time several other men had tried to “mark her card” and she wasn’t sure at least one of them wasn’t using that as a metaphor for something rude. At least the Prince of Wales had stayed at his own table, though she had the personal cards of three other Heir Apparents of the thrones of Europe presented to her, and she had turned them all down for The ‘Lord Du Temps’. She hoped HE realised just how much that said about her feelings for him.

“Yes, I do,” he thought to himself as he slid into his seat, pocketing the sonic screwdriver. “I just wish I knew how to tell you.”

“Did you find the transmitter?”

“Yes,” he said aloud. “It wasn’t the Nestene, it was a Deltan space bandit’s sub-space transmitter. Not so deadly, but Paris could do without an invasion of four foot high hairy marauders looting and pillaging.”

“Yes, I should think so. The Doctor to the rescue again.”

“You know me. I can’t sit and do nothing when the world is in danger.” She looked at him and smiled. How COULD she stay angry with him, even if he had abandoned her to the company of Paris’s most elite lechers for a half hour?

“I forgive you.”

“Good. Then you can have your birthday present now.” He pulled a small package from his pocket, something metallic wrapped in pink tissue. “Happy birthday, my Lady Rose.”

She opened it carefully and gasped with delight as she held up the necklace. The tear shaped silver pendant on the rope chain was studded with what she KNEW were real diamonds in an unusual asymmetrical arrangement that she had seen many times before. It was on the fob of her TARDIS key, but she had never before properly noticed it, just taken it for granted.

“What is that pattern?” she asked now. “Why is it significant?”

“It is a symbolic representation of the constellation of Kasterborus, the constellation in which Galiffrey used to be,” The Doctor told her.

“Oh!” She turned it around in her hand and looked at it closely. “Is it valuable?” That sounded so mercenary. “I mean… Nobody ever gave me REAL jewellery before. Mickey bought me a bracelet for my 18th birthday and the gold all came off and it gave me a rash.”

“Well done, Mickey,” The Doctor thought.

“It's a family heirloom. I couldn’t begin to put a price on it. I want you to have it, because you’re priceless to me, too.”

“Oh, Doctor…” He stood up and helped fasten it around her neck. “Oh.…” There were tears of joy in her eyes as she realised what it meant for him to give such a precious thing to her. Aside from it being a wonderfully romantic gesture, it was almost as if he was saying she WAS part of his family now. She pressed her fingers against the pendant, feeling the diamond pattern. “Which one represents Gallifrey then?” He pressed his finger over hers and guided it to the central star which was the Gallifreyan sun.

“Of course it’s all gone, now - the whole system.” He said. “But it’s here - in my hearts – and maybe, a little bit, in yours. At least, it will never be forgotten while I’m alive.”

Rose nodded. She wasn’t sure what to say. This was a deep wound in his soul. She knew that. She wished she had something inside her, whether Human or Time Lord, that would take away that pain.

But his mood changed as quickly again. She suspected it was slightly forced, so as not to spoil her birthday with melancholy, but in a heartsbeat he was smiling and making her laugh with a description of the mischief Deltan space bandits had once caused in the intergalactic market place of planet Mercius 5, which had been unprepared for the pillaging and looting of four foot high hairy marauders.

And then the mood changed again. The dinner over, the guests drifted over to the dance floor. By protocol, the Prince of Wales led his partner of the night – apparently a very famous French actress - out onto the floor first. Then others slowly joined them in a waltz. Rose wasn’t entirely sure about that, but the Doctor led her onto the floor. He took her in his arms in the formal way that people danced in 1889 and although she had never been taught a single step of ballroom dancing she suddenly found she was doing it.

“Is this the Time Lord blood, too?” she asked him. “When did YOU learn to do this old stuff?”

“If it is, it’s a side effect nobody on Gallifrey intended,” he said. “Dancing is NOT one of the disciplines of the Prydonian Academy. Don’t question it, just enjoy it.” That was the principle he was going on. His one plan tonight was to give her the time of her life. If he could do that by moving around a dance floor without stepping on her feet, then that was fine.

Maybe it was the Time Lord blood, Rose thought, but neither of them seemed to tire as the waltz gave way to a two step and that in turn gave way to a quadrille and a polka and at that point Rose gave up trying to understand the rules and let him lead her to whatever tune was playing. She half suspected he would be able to break dance if they suddenly found themselves thrust forward in time. But this old fashioned stuff, as she called it in her head, seemed to her to be the best kind of dancing for two people who really didn’t need anyone else on the floor with them.

As the evening wore on, the moon came up over the River Seinne and lamps were lit all over Paris. Waltzes and slow sets increasingly took over from the faster dance styles and many of the younger bloods in the crowd abandoned the more formal placing of hands decorously on the lady’s waist while retaining their own personal space and had adopted more intimate modes.

The Doctor and Rose, who had gravitated towards a quieter spot on the edge of the dance floor, were no exception to that rule. His arms were both around her back now, and she had her arms around his neck as they danced on, pressed close. She felt as if the beat of his two hearts was the tempo they were dancing to, and the rush of the blood in his veins the tune - the blood he had shared with her, and was still in her own veins. They were one. She had never felt so physically and emotionally close to anyone before. Perhaps she was a little drunk after all, because the feeling was so very like flying that she had to look down to see if their feet were still on the ground. Whatever it was, it felt good.

She thought for a moment about the daydreams she had as a little girl, when Cinderella was the best role model on offer, and she thought she would like a prince charming to take her away. Well, the Prince had turned out to be an old lecher and really not that charming. But here she was, dancing with her very own, genuine, LORD, whose faith in her had turned her from the Cinderella of the North London council flats to Lady Rose who crowned heads and presidents had gaped at in admiration. It was a dream come true.

In case having a dream come true had some down side she did not yet know about, she wanted it to last for ever, or as near forever as it could get.

“So do I, Rose,” The Doctor thought as he pressed her a little closer.

It was just after midnight that the ball formally ended with the Last Waltz. Several hopefuls drifted her way but the Doctor’s hard stare made it quite clear to them all that she was dancing with nobody but him. Everyone became quite formal again. He held her very properly once more, one hand hardly touching her waist, the other holding her hand in his while her arm rested on his shoulder. He smiled warmly as they danced and slowly manoeuvred them to the edge of the dance floor again so that, as the last dance ended and the French guests all became very solemn to the first strains of La Marseillaise, they slipped away from the party, walking alone on the promenade beside the Seinne.

Apart from asking if she was warm enough, which she was, he didn’t talk very much. There didn’t seem to be anything to talk about. That was fine. She was in Paris, by the Seinne, on a warm summer evening, with her Time Lord. She didn’t need anything else.

She certainly didn’t need the rough looking man who suddenly appeared in front of them brandishing a knife and demanding money and jewellery. His eye fell upon the silver glint of her necklace. The Doctor gave a sort of impatient growl in his throat and the next second she saw the knife arc into the air and land with a quiet splash in the Seinne. Meanwhile the would-be robber was keeled over on the ground making very unhappy bubbling noises. He now fully understood the expression ‘a world of hurts’. The fact that she had never even seen the Doctor move didn’t disturb her, but she added Knight in Shining Armour to his list of qualifications as the most perfect date she could have imagined herself with on her 21st birthday.

They walked on, leaving the wretched man to his own devices. She wondered now how and when this perfect night would end. If he was an ordinary man, she guessed they would be on their way to a hotel to spend the night in each other’s arms. And that would be nice, of course. But she had the feeling the Doctor was not about to do that, because as romantic as this evening had been, as perfect as it was, he was NOT her boyfriend. He had never even kissed her, although several times during the evening he seemed to come close.

She felt, somehow, that when they kissed, then he WOULD be all of that. She knew that he knew that, and that something still troubled him about moving their relationship up to that level of intimacy. The rudimentary psychic that was one of those temporary side effects told her that much. They also told her that he was not holding back out of meanness, or to hurt her, but rather to stop her being hurt, and if she trusted him, everything would sort itself out eventually.

“I suppose we ought to go back to the TARDIS,” she said, breaking the silence at last. She looked back. The Eiffel Tower actually looked small from here. She hadn’t realised how far they had walked.

“Don’t worry about that. I’ll bring it to us on autopilot in a moment. But… while we’re still in Paris, and while it is still a fantastic evening, and you are my beautiful Lady Rose… and it’s your birthday… you ought to have one birthday kiss”

The Doctor drew her close to himself and kissed her on the lips. It was nice, and it made her heart skip a beat and it WAS exactly what she needed to complete the evening, but the only fireworks came from back there over the Eiffel Tower as the grand opening ceremony continued. She knew that this had just been a ‘birthday kiss.’ There was another way he could kiss her. A proper way - and when he did, the fireworks would be in her head.

But it was ok. And it HAD been a wonderful birthday.