The queue of cars and stream of people on their way to the field stretched for miles, but there was no sense of hurry, of frustration, of annoyance. It was so amiable that it made a royal gala in Buckingham Palace nonetheless look like a bacchanalian orgy. Men and women of all walks of life — in varying degrees of undress — sang and danced and swayed to the sounds of the concert that wafted on the breeze.
They were having a grand ole time, so in tune with the music and each other, that no one really heard the whooshing growing louder as the TARDIS materialized on a hill above them. Well, one person did notice the blue police box come into being. He scrambled up the hill, his love beads clacking against his bare chest, and circled around to the back of the box. He hesitantly reached out and stroked the wooden structure.
“Far out,” he murmured to himself.
He heard a door open. He stumbled around to the side and saw Rose and the Doctor in the doorway. Rose wore a flowing white peasant blouse and krinkly blue skirt, her hair done up in a loose bun and rose-colored sunglasses perched on her nose. The Doctor wore a white Nehru jacket, tightly buttoned up, and matching white slacks, with his characteristic red Converses clashing completely. He had a plaid picnic blanket and wicker basket hooked on one arm. Rose had persuaded him to also wear rose-colored sunglasses, an acquiescence he was beginning to regret when he peered around at the setting.
“I never did understand the allure of wanting to see something through rose-colored glasses. Everything just looks…red.”
Rose took his arm and pulled him firmly out of the TARDIS.
“You needed something. You look like a wanker, or what would they call it here, a narc, in that get-up.”
The Doctor pulled the jacket down, puffing his chest out.
“I’ll have you know this is the height of the fashion world for the mod set, or at least it very well soon will be. Who knows, I could even be the fashion setter for this time period! Me, a trendsetter. Wouldn’t be the first time.”
Rose smiled and took in the setting.
“Well, you look like a 1960s geek.” She eyed him up and down, admiring the way the tight white fabric clung to his body. “Although, I have to admit, white is a good color for you.”
He gulped hard, which admittedly was rather difficult since the jacket was suffocating his neck, making him keenly aware of how fast his two hearts were indeed beating. He resisted the urge to fiddle with it. Rose would just make him go change again, and he really didn’t care enough to go and find something more hippie to wear.
Besides, she was already content to have him in white. That was good enough for him.
He looked down at her, for all intents a poster perfect hippie child, complete with sunshine gold hair. She was already bouncing in anticipation as she watched everyone streaming into the concert. On the breeze he caught the sounds of Santana beginning their set, and he could feel her excitement pouring over them as she clutched his arm.
“Hey, man, how’d you do that?”
The Doctor and Rose turned to see the man with love beads pressing against the door to the TARDIS, completely unable to get in.
The Doctor made a move for him, but Rose held him back.
“It’s a space ship, uh, dude,” Rose answered.
The Doctor shook his head, whispered in her ear: “A bit early to be tossing around that bit of slang. And since when do we go about announcing such things to–“
She cut him off by pulling him tighter against her and giving him her best “trust me” look — which he recognized as the one he always gave her. Those two well execute moves completely disarmed his tirade.
“Cool, a real spaceship, huh?” The man gave up trying to open the door and turned to inspect them. “So that makes you, what, aliens or something?”
Rose quipped in before the Doctor could open his mouth.
“Nah, I’m human, he’s the alien. He kidnapped me to be his slave.” She waggled her eyebrows for added emphasis.
The man focused on the Doctor. Being tall enough, he looked the Doctor square in the eyes, making the Doctor slowly lean away.
“He doesn’t look alien.”
“Oh, but I am,” the Doctor responded, keeping his expression perfectly blank. “Is that going to be a problem for you?”
The man shrugged and backed off. “Nah, man, you wanna smoke?”
He held up a joint that was halfway gone. Rose looked up expectantly to her Doctor, but he grinned tightly and pulled her away.
“That ain’t copacetic, man, we aliens can’t handle Mary Jane all that well, you dig?” He pushed up his glasses and peered down at the man, his expression completely stone. Rose squelched a laugh.
The man shrugged again and waved them off. “Suit yourself. Have fun at the concert, alien and slavegirl. I’ll watch your spaceship for you.”
Rose waved back, but the Doctor steered her around and nearly ran down the hill to join the line.
“Oi, mind not pulling the arm out of the socket?”
“That man probably didn’t even know where he was. Really, you apes and your mind-altering drugs. Tobacco and alcohol isn’t enough, you have to go and create new ways to warp your minds and desiccate your bodies.”
“And what, the Time Lords never had any use for recreational drugs?”
He shrugged, maneuvering them around the slower concert goers. “Who needs drugs when you’ve got a universe to explore.”
Rose yanked her arm away. “Then you can’t blame us silly little apes if we’ve used drugs cuz we can’t go whizzing about the universe and all of time like you mighty Time Lords.”
“Fine, point taken. But I don’t see why you are getting so upset over a little observation that you have to admit is pretty spot on. As per normal, really.”
Rose continued on, not looking at him, not smiling. The Doctor kicked himself and gently took her hand, forcing her to stop. When she pointedly kept her gaze on the dirt, he used his other hand to tip her chin up at him.
“When did you do it?”
“Just a bit of marijuana, for my 18th birthday. Me and Mickey and some other mates.”
“And nothing. It was just a bit of harmless fun. Nice way to celebrate becoming an adult.”
The Doctor pulled her into a hug, surprising Rose. Not enough that she didn’t melt into his embrace, naturally. She never missed opportunities like these.
“You were lucky.” He pulled out of the embrace, and their eyes met. His intensely serious gaze bore into her — the type of gaze he reserved for those times when he had saved her, or she had saved him. “Rose Tyler, drugs are dangerous. From now on, just say no.”
She smiled. “You know what, Doctor?”
He smiled in return, lightening the intensity of his eyes. “What, Rose?”
“You really are a narc.”
She grabbed his hand and took off running, laughing, and dragging the Doctor behind her for once. The way her hair and clothes moved in the breeze, and in time with the intoxicating music, the Doctor was most certainly not about to argue.
They didn’t find a place to sit — at least, one not in the mud — until after Santana had wrapped, Canned Heat had gone to the country and left, and Mountain was already halfway through their set. But Rose had to admit, the Doctor found a great spot. They sat on a small hill, underneath a large oak tree, with only a few other couples nearby.
True, they were a ways off from the main stage, but that meant a little more privacy. So they couldn’t exactly see who was on the stage. They could still hear the music, and they could appreciate it without the crowd pressing around them. After their trek through the crowd to find this spot, the seclusion was a luxury Rose felt entitled to.
She stood watching the crowd, listening to Mountain, as the Doctor set up their picnic. She was utterly amazed at how many people were there. Sure, she had been to other rock concerts, some rather large ones in fact, but this truly was the rock concert Earth had to offer. And she had never felt this kind and amount of peace from such a large crowd before. Other concerts, they’d be all about pressing forward to reach the stage, jostling into each other to get closer in the vainly ridiculous thought that they could become part of the show.
These people, these “flower children” as her history books called them, they knew they were already part of the show. Part of the biggest revolution in the world since those nasty French aristocrats met the sharp edge of the guillotine.
The Doctor had commented on their “perchance to lollygag,” sitting around here and doing all number of things to each other, rather than out there trying to stop the war raging in Vietnam. But Rose liked them. She felt an immediate camaraderie with them. They were all about loving each other, making a difference that way.
“After all, all you need is love!” she had finished her argument as they passed a naked couple rolling in the mud.
The Doctor fell uncharacteristically silent with that argument, and hadn’t said a thing until he pointed out this spot. She knew better than to press the matter, to bring up the same conversation about the future that never got her anywhere. Besides, that wasn’t what Woodstock was about. It was about being in the present, loving the world and everyone on it, for as long as you could.
Yeah, she definitely felt kinship with these flower children.
“Rose,” he said, right in her ear, somehow having snuck up on her as she took in the spirit of the concert.
She turned, but he backed off. A triumphant smile lit his face as he gestured to the picnic he’d masterfully arranged. His reward was her face light up seeing everything he’d brought. Cheeses from a variety of planets. Crisps from her favorite deli in London. A bottle of old French wine, from the wine cellar she’d only recently found during her wanderings on the TARDIS. And a variety of local and exotic fruits. It looked all so tempting, touching, and even romantic.
She pushed the last one out of her head. No, no thinking romance and the Doctor. If she got that notion into her head, she wouldn’t be able to relinquish it. And even broaching that subject could ruin a perfectly wonderful moment.
He took her hand and led her to the blanket. A niggling thought crept into her head.
“Doctor, when did you have time to put all of this together? Our coming here was rather spur of the moment, and we were both getting dressed at the same time.”
The Doctor didn’t answer, focused as he was on opening the wine, but she could see the blush creeping up his neck to his hairline.
“Have you been planning this?”
He popped the cork and started pouring a glass. But she saw the grin creeping in.
“Have you been planning all of this? Picnic and concert?”
He handed her the glass, his grin in full out wicked mode.
“You have been here before, haven’t you? That’s how you knew about this spot!”
He merely shrugged and poured himself a glass. “Well, I did promise you Elvis, and then get your face sucked off by some nasty alien — which was most seriously not a good look for you. I figured, a nice picnic in the country with the best rock and roll bands of all time may just make up for it.”
He held out his glass to her. She studied him for a moment, doing her best to look shocked, but that damn grin of his tore apart that facade. She clinked glasses with him.
“You keep surprising me like this, and soon nothing you do will ever surprise me.”
The Doctor raised his glass to his lips and waggled his eyebrows. “I seriously hope not.”
Rose laughed and merrily sipped her wine, turning back to the music. Yes, definitely a time to soak in the pleasures of the moment. Although in the back of her mind, she was plotting on ways to get back at him in the future.
They ate in silence as Mountain played their set, enjoying their food and each other’s company. By the time Janis Joplin started singing “To Love Somebody,” the wine bottle was nearly empty. She didn’t mind. Rose had had enough picnic and decided instead to lean against the Doctor, bathing in the pure emotion Janis could produce. Her eyes closed, she snuggled closer to his chest as he wrapped an arm around her shoulders, holding her there. And that’s how she’ll always remember being at a Janis Joplin concert, with the Doctor holding her in his arms.
For Sly and the Family Stones, he decided he wanted to dance. Seeming him gesticulate wildly, somewhat in time with the music, easily prompted her to join. With the Grateful Dead, it was more like a slow swaying, side by side, holding hands. The Doctor held up his sonic screwdriver as a lighter, having found a setting that kept the sonic part of it to a minimum. For Creedence Clearwater Revival, it was back to the picnic to replenish their energy. Until she felt the urge.
“Born on the Bayou” was ending when she stood up and looked around, unable to see to far with dusk taking them over.
“Do you think there are proper public loos here, or is that also a communal activity?”
The Doctor thoughtfully tapped his chin. “I do recall there being portable facilities, although I can’t vouch for them. Advanced Time Lord physiology, and all that.”
She threw him a disgusted look. “Brag all you want, just keep the details to yourself, alright?”
“So then I have your permission to brag whenever, however and about whatever I want?”
He grinned, but she merely stepped over him and started down the hill to what she surmised was the rear of the concert.
She stopped and looked back. Without looking, he jerked his thumb to a spot about a hundred yards off.
“They’re thatta way.”
“Show off,” she threw back.
“Time Lord,” he corrected.
As she walked away, she could swear he was singing along with the band.
She left the public facilities, vowing to thoroughly eradicate the memory of that experience from her mind.
“Little more than a bloody mudhole,” she muttered, picking her way carefully through the throng that was intermittently queued up for the loo, or focusing instead on the band on stage.
She listened for a sec and found to her dismay that the band had changed. No longer was it CCR, but The Who! She started to hurry, kicking herself. How long had she been in there? Was the Doctor going to go into his normal “worry about the poor, naive little ape” mode?
The Who were singing something about a boy being born, and she somewhat recalled the song from her mum’s Tommy record. Her mum had grown up obsessed with the Who — even had a schoolgirl crush on Roger Daltrey — especially as her parents didn’t do much to take away the music that wasn’t quite suited for a young girl. Rose wanted desperately to see The Who, in their prime, in concert, just to tell her mum all about it.
And here she was missing it because she’d been stuck in the bloody loo!
She was moving so quickly now she forgot to pay attention to who was around her. Naturally, she ended up bumping into someone so hard that the poor fellow fell face first into the mud.
“Oh, sorry, uh, man!” she exclaimed, helping the man to his feet.
He wiped away the mud from his face, and Rose had to admit he was very comely even with the mud. Dark brown hair and eyes, dimples when he smiled. And he was smiling, completely at ease with the fact that he’d been unceremoniously plopped in the mud.
“Hey, no problems, sister. You ain’t really experiencing Woodstock if you don’t get muddy.”
She smiled and ran her hand through her hair — not noticing the mud on it from helping him up until it was in the hair.
“Then I guess I’m officially a part now,” she laughed, and he joined her, heartily.
“Sister, would you like to become more in tune?”
She hesitated as he reached into his vest. The Doctor’s admonishment to “just say no” came ringing back, and she really didn’t care to experiment with any of the drugs she had heard flowed so freely among people at Woodstock. But then the Doctor was also always admonishing her to try to go native on their travels. Wouldn’t dropping acid or smoking dope at Woodstock be the quintessential definition of going native?
Luckily she was saved from making the decision when the man removed a set of love beads from his vest.
Her eyes lit up when he placed them in her non-muddy hand. They were made from a dark wood and gave off a musky smell, sort of like patchouli. Even in the dim light they glittered.
“They’re beautiful, and they smell wonderful,” she sighed, taking the scent in deep.
“I made them myself. Special blend,” the man said, obviously delighted that she was so enthralled.
“But I don’t have any money on me.”
“Sister, these are love beads. I will not take money for them. I just want everyone to enjoy themselves.”
Rose slipped them around her neck, giggling when the smell got stronger, more pleasant.
“Um, in that case, could I have another, for my friend?”