He was trying very hard to convince himself that he was not worried. He was trying to tell himself that the reason he wasn’t paying close attention to The Who wasn’t because he couldn’t understand what was taking Rose so long at the loo, but because they were doing the early songs from Tommy, and he had never found those songs to be either particularly compelling or The Who’s best in their long litany of respectable–
“Even my inner dialogue is long-winded,” he murmured, looking for the umpteenth time (which is a very large number according to Time Lord recreational mathematics) down the hill to the spot he had told Rose to go. Yes, it was dark now, and the stars of this interesting galaxy twinkling overhead — an ambience he’d hope to share with Rose. Not for any suggestive, implicative reason other than good company, good food, good music, good —
Oh give it up, Last of the Time Lords, you know exactly what you want out of this, you’re just too scared to ever try it.
“Fantastic. Now my inner dialogue is yelling at myself. I thought I’d gotten past that bit of psychosis.”
He stretched, his Nehru jacket tightening across his chest like an infernal Chinese finger trap. Trendsetter or not, he had never been into bondage this much. He undid the top buttons of the jacket and sighed as the cool breeze hit his bare skin. He tried to savor the feeling, mix it back with the music and the fantastic ambience, but his mind wandered immediately back to, heavy sigh, worry.
Where was that Rose Tyler, any way?
He mentally ticked off the reasons why he shouldn’t worry. First, this was Earth, the planet she was from. Sure, it was a different time and place than the one she knew, but he’d been here before, briefly, and he’d never heard of anything too dangerous (that is, on a scale that included werewolves, Lady Cassandra and Daleks). Second, they’d been traveling together for a while now, and Rose had proven herself quite capable of taking care of herself should she fall into the clutches of some unknown terror until the moment he could sweep in to save the day, which he found himself liking a lot more in his latest regeneration. Mostly because of his reward for saving the day…
He felt himself straying from his rigorous mental checklist and kicked himself hard to get back on track. Third, even if there was no alien baddie out there, he felt quite certain that Rose could handle any human weirdo just as ably. It’s not like she would be swept off her feet and run away to live a new life with some stranger in 1969 Earth just like she had run away to live a life onboard the TARDIS.
The Doctor shook his head. He could probably go on and on, logically listing all the reasons for him to not worry about what his assistant/companion was doing. But he knew there was just that one reason why he always will.
Because Rose Tyler was his best friend in the whole universe.
He stretched out on the picnic blanket, resting his head on his arms, taking in as much of the night sky as he could. He tried to keep from naming every star he saw. From recalling those times he’d visited them, those that he had helped, those that he had hurt. The memories were always there — so crisp and fresh, as if he could step into one and relive it over and over and over. Good memories, bad memories, all within easy reach of his, admittedly, formidable mind.
The wind blew, a little hard. The oak tree swayed over his head, dancing with the stars. The wind blew into his face, over his chest, playing with his hair. He closed his eyes, pushing all those pesky thoughts and memories away, to concentrate on the sensation of the wind. And how much he imagined Rose’s touch felt like that.
And the wind brought something else, something tantalizing, that intensified the image and feeling of Rose that had crystallized in his mind.
Her scent, mixed with something utterly Earthy — even, musky?
His eyes snapped open as he heard her coming up the hill, singing, although not along with The Who. He didn’t move, didn’t want to jump and give away how worried he’d been. And how excited he was that she returned.
So he nonchalantly propped himself up on one elbow to watch her arrival. He wasn’t prepared for what he saw.
Her face beamed brightly, so intensely happy her eyes were almost as big as his. Her hair flowed loosely around her face and was set into motion like her flowing skirt by her dancing. She was actually spinning and skipping and swaying, all completely out of tune with the music coming from the main stage.
But if Rose Tyler cared about such formalities (which she rarely did, which is why he found her so–intoxicating), then she was completely freed from such concerns as she embodied the free spirit of the concert. She was the quintessential, stereotypical, hippie flower child. The Doctor inhaled deeply. She even smelt like —
One of his hearts stopped, and the other threatened to join it, as his entire body trembled.
She had never looked so ravishing, and ravishable.
And boy did that make the Doctor’s worry kick into transdimensional, intratemporal hyperdrive.
He stood up and watched her approach. If she saw him, she didn’t really acknowledge it. It was impossible for her to beam any more than she was.
“Rose Tyler, do you have any idea where you have been?”
Rose kept twirling, and decided to use the tree as a stationary dancing partner.
“Shame the trees can’t dance on this planet, can they, Doctor?”
“They aren’t known to, at least, not yet.”
Rose hugged the tree, pressing herself against it as much as she could.
“I love you any way, Mr. Tree. I love anything that’s wooden. I love how the TARDIS looks like it’s made out of wood, but then you touch it, and you’re like, hey, that’s not wood!”
The Doctor stepped closer, and the smell of musk and — what was that, patchouli? — got stronger. His knees threatened to give out, but his mind was whirling faster than the speed of light.
“Rose, what happened?”
She relinquished her hold on the tree and started dancing again, using him as a new stationary dance partner.
“I love this song. I love this sky. I love this field. I love this picnic. I love this skirt.”
She stopped suddenly and hugged the Doctor as tightly as the tree.
“And I love my Doctor.”
The Doctor gulped. The smell was so overpowering — and tingling?
He looked down at her exuberantly peaceful face, and saw two strings of wooden beads that were pressing up against his bare skin. And making his skin tremble.
He bent down to look at it when Rose decided to look up at him, full of hope and love.
“Does my Doctor love his Rose Tyler?”
For a moment, all he saw were her lips forming those words and waiting for his reply. But the overpowering smell, the tingling on his skin, the odd necklaces, his immense curiosity and worry — it took all of their combined efforts to redirect his attention.
“Rose, where did you get those necklaces?”
Rose pulled back, not the least disappointed for this new topic of conversation. “Oh, don’t worry, I got one for you too!”
She removed one and held it out. He moved to take it, but she laughed and pulled it away.
“No, no, like when people go to Hawaii and get laid.”
“Rose, I don’t think that’s exactly–“
She leaned forward and pressed a finger to his lips.
“No correcting me, my Doctor.”
She was actually beginning to pout. And while it was definitely cute, it just added to the overall uncharacteristic behavior of his companion that was both worrisome and, yes fine, adorable.
The Doctor obeyed, bending slightly without breaking eye contact. Rose slipped the necklace around his neck and planted a solid kiss on the top of his head.
“See, now you are properly laid!”
He opened his mouth to correct her, but she jumped away and started dancing with her tree again.
Okay, so she obviously has taken some form of the illicit narcotics that were woven into the lore of Woodstock. The Doctor accepted this. He wasn’t tremendously happy about it. He had told her to not touch the stuff — any of that stuff — with his whole “just say no” talk. Well, not so much as a talk as an order — a request — a plea? Looking back, it did seem rather silly. The human girl couldn’t even follow rule #1 faithfully enough to save him from his aforementioned fits of panic and worry. Why did he think she would as easily mind him when he didn’t want her to ingest, inhale or inject any of the substances these “flower children” were passing around?
His mind ran through the litany of drugs famous at Woodstock to match Rose’s obvious symptoms with their known effects. One quickly sprang to mind. Lucy in the sky with diamonds. That silly little hallucinogenic, LSD.
If Rose was indeed “tripping” (he’d have to check his lexicon, but that seemed the proper Earth slang), then her sudden bout of free spirit could only be the first symptom — before a deeper psychosis took grip. He shuddered to think of watching his Rose having a full flung hallucination, and not being able to help her through it.
He watched her dance about, flowing with the wind through the leaves. He hadn’t noticed any of those little stickers on her face or hands. He grinned. He could always look for them on other parts of her body…
The Doctor shook his head — remain objective, you perverted old man. If he had to, he could easily and disaffectedly ask Rose to strip down or at least show him every square inch of her skin to make sure she didn’t, or someone else didn’t, stick something there that was very much not supposed to be there. And in her current state of mind, it probably would be a rather simple task of getting her to agree to the examination.
I love my Doctor…
He felt his head beginning to swim. Did she really mean it?
No, of course not. It was the drug talking. Of course, it wasn’t far from the possibility, after all, he was quite certain he loved her, in a highly, strictly, never-to-cross-that-border platonic way. He knew she cared for him, probably even in the same way. So why shouldn’t she say I love my Doctor and not mean it, even if it was brought about by the “all you need is love” atmosphere of the concert. And that friendly love between them was and would be enough for him.
The Doctor groaned as that new, intoxicating scent she had acquired wafted back into his face. There wasn’t anything alarming about the deep musky smell — other than he wanted to fall down into a bed doused in the perfume and drag her naked body down next to his. Every cell in his body hummed with the fragrance, as if he’d just gone through a regeneration cycle — every cell sung out in praise of being alive, of being so full of life, of having someone alive so close by. So many images crowded into his brain, filled his heart, stirred his groin, that he–
“Hold on, it’s that smell, isn’t it!” he announced, cheerily clapping his hands together.
Rose paid him no mind, having decided to watch her hands move in time with the music. He bounded over to her, grasped her and spun her to face him. Her eyelids were heavy, and her lips were moving with no sound coming out.
“Rose, you silly little ape, where did you acquire that new smell?”
Rose didn’t even look up at him. He knew he was running out of time. So he leaned in and breathed as deeply of her as he could.
But the smell was no longer on her. It was faint on her skin, only a whisper in her hair. She smelled like his normal Rose, of jasmine and lavender, not musk and patchouli.
So then where — he stepped back and smelt it. Bloody hell, it was on him!
He snapped his fingers. “The necklace!”
He whipped it off and held it up for inspection from his screwdriver.
“Rosewood, laced with some sort of polynueclonic oil, must be used to hold and activate the lysergic acid diethylamide derivative, probably polybiethylamide or desudiethylamide, but I can’t determine the exact chemical composition that would be required for the chemical to become gasified. Oh, bouncing buggery balls — parenthetically, another phrase, strike from lexicon — whoever brewed this oil was most certainly not a typical Earth hippie. Probably not even an Earth anything, for that matter. Not unless the fool stumbled upon this concoction by accident, like how you lot developed the Waldorf salad. Rose, where did you –“
Rose’s eyes rolled back in her head. She fell, a puppet with its strings cut, and would have hit her head on the tree had the Doctor not dropped everything and caught her.
He softly set her down and took of his Nehru jacket to form a pillow for her head. Sure, he’d get cold, annoyed he couldn’t have fit one of his shirts under that tight jacket. But a check of her pulse and skin temperature warned him that she might get a lot colder a lot quicker if he didn’t work out what exact alien narcotic she had stumbled across.
He scooped up the still fragrant necklace he’d dropped. The screwdriver could only tell him so much, and he wasn’t certain he could get Rose back to the TARDIS in time, given the sea of people he would have to struggle against. There was only one option. Hope that his Time Lord physiology was advanced as it was, so that he could brag about one more thing to her when she woke up.
She looked so still and peaceful lying beside him. He traced her face, cheek to chin, with his free hand. He always worried when she went away because of what she might get herself into. But there was one thing he never worried about. He knew he would always be able to get her out of it. Or die trying.
He clutched the beads, steeled his nerves, and gave them a good, solid licking.
“Oh, well, that was disgusting,” he murmured.
He ran his tongue around his mouth, tasting his own saliva, which was bitter and tingling, but not as unpleasant as that sounds it would be. His eyes lit up as the test results came in. “Ah, very clever, why didn’t–“
The Doctor slumped down next to Rose.