DISCLAIMER: The Doctor, his companions and everything in this universe belong to the BBC. I just borrow them occasionally for fun.
TIMELINE: "Unearthly Child" to "Christmas Invasion" plus some audio adventures.
Happy Birthday Karen!
The man lowered himself into the old wicker chair, his white hair swept back from his face and his wrinkled hands draped gently across his lap. In years, he wasn't that old. Well, for someone of his race that was. But in experience, with every event he had witnessed, with every terror that still ran before his eyes... today he felt as if he had been born in that same moment as the universe. He felt the weight of centuries, the chaos of existence, the push and pull of survival all pressing down on him in one instant. Today, here and now, he felt like an old man.
The Doctor looked up at the fresh faced young woman in front of him. "Hello Susan."
"I'm not disturbing you, am I?"
"No my dear. Just contemplating eternity."
She smiled as she entered the library, her hands behind her back. "You looked sad as we were leaving Earth so," she pulled out a small book from behind her back, "I got you this."
He smiled at his granddaughter. "You didn't have to do that, child."
"Maybe it'll help eternity pass a little easier." She smiled again and left the old man alone, gently closing the door behind her.
The Doctor ran his hands over the soft leather binding and slowly cracked open it's pages.
'When Mary Lennox was sent to Misselthwaite Manor to live with her uncle, everybody said she was the most disagreeable-looking child ever seen.'
"Doctor?" Ian poked his head through the door.
"Sorry, I didn't realize you were reading. Barbara just wanted to know if you'd like some tea?"
"Yes." He placed the book on the shelf next to him and grabbed his walking stick. "Tea would be lovely."
The Doctor leaned over as he grabbed the wicker chair, his black hair flopping into his eyes. As the chair moved, a small book fell from the nearby shelf. "Hello? What are you then?" He picked it up and ran his hands gently over the soft leather binding. "Oh yes! I remember you." He slowly cracked open the pages and started to read.
'It was true too. She had a little thin face and a little thin body, thin light hair and a sour expression.'
"Doctor?" Jamie tapped his shoulder.
"Oh! Jamie. You know, you really mustn't sneak up on people like that."
"Sneak up?" The Scotsman was laughing. "Doctor, I've been calling you for the last five minutes."
"That's neither here nor there. Now, what is it?"
"Zoe sent me to find you. She said there's something strange on the scanner."
The Doctor laid the book gently on the wicker chair. "Coming, coming."
"One moment, Jo. I'll find it." The Doctor walked into the library, a determined look on his face. "I know it's around here somewhere." He scratched his cheek, desperate to remember where he'd put the book on Advanced Mathematics. As he rounded the bookcase, his ruffle cuff caught on the edge of the wicker chair. "Hmm... that'll have to be mended. What's this?" He picked up the small book, his hands running gently over the soft leather binding. "Ah, so that's where you've been hiding." He slowly cracked open the pages and started to read.
'Her hair was yellow and her face was yellow because she had been born in India and had always been ill in one way or another.'
"Doctor? The Brigadier's looking for you!"
"Yes Jo, just coming." He placed the book on the small table. "I'll get back to you."
The Doctor sneezed, his brown curls falling into his eyes." Honestly Sarah, what's the point of dusting books? It's half their charm."
"Doctor, charm is one thing. Getting sick from three hundred year old dust is something entirely different." She shook out her feather duster and coughed. "Yuck. I need some water." She jumped down off the ladder and thrust the duster in the Doctor's direction. "Here, keep dusting."
The Doctor frowned as it took it from her. "Yes ma'am." He turned and started dusting the small table next to the wicker chair. "Ah, my little friend," he said as he picked up the book, "I keep misplacing you." He ran his hands gently across the soft leather binding and slowly cracked open it's pages.
'Her father had held a position under the English government and had always been busy or ill himself, and her mother had been a great beauty who cared only to go to parties and amuse herself with gay people.'
A scream pierced the air.
"Sarah!" The Doctor dropped the book and ran from the library.
"I know it's here, Nyssa," he called across the library. He brushed his blond hair away from his face as he frowned. "It's just a matter of where."
"Doctor, you really should organize this library someday. It's next to impossible to find anything."
"Next to impossible, but not completely impossible."
"We've been in here for three hours."
"Have we?" The Doctor's hand hit a patch of soft leather binding. "How did that here there?" He pulled it from the floor and gently cracked open it's pages.
'She had not wanted a little girl at all, and when Mary was born she handed her over to the care of an Ayah, who was made to understand that if she wished to please the Mem Sahib she must keep the child out of sight as much as possible.'
"I think I hear the cloister bell."
"Oh no." He laid the book on the shelf and ran from the room.
The Doctor dropped his multi-colored coat across the wicker chair and stretched. "It's up towards the top, Peri. I'm sure you'll find it."
"I'm sure I'll wind up with asthma too. Look at all this dust!" To emphasize her point, Peri picked up the book nearest to her and blew. A cloud of gray dust filled the air, then drifted down and landed on the Doctor's shoulders.
He frowned up at her. "Yes. Point well made. Thank you, Peri."
As Peri shifted her weight to climb down, a book fell from beneath her elbow. "Look out!"
The Doctor moved out of the way as it slammed to the floor. "I said point well made! You needn't try to brain me on top of it."
"It was an accident!"
The Doctor leaned over to retrieve the book and found another beneath it. "I don't believe it." He gently picked up the book, his hands running over the soft leather binding and cracked open it's pages.
'So when she was a sickly, fretful, ugly little baby she was kept out of the way, and when she became a sickly, fretful, toddling thing she was kept out of the way also.'
"Doctor, I found it!"
"The recipe book I was looking for. I told you I was going to make strawberry tarts, remember?"
"Strawberry..." The Doctor laid the book on the small table.
"I think it rolled in here, Ace." The Doctor took off his white straw hat and crawled under the small table. "Hmm... maybe not." As he lifted himself off the floor, his head smacked the edge of the table. "Ow!"
"Professor? Are you okay?"
The little man grumbled as he rubbed the sore spot. "Yes. But I think it's time to reconsider your juggling lesson before someone else gets hurt. Ah," he said as he reached for the small lather bound book. Smiling, he cracked open it's pages and began to read.
'She never remember seeing familiarly anything but the dark faces of her Ayah and the other native servants, and as they always obeyed her and gave her her own way in everything, because the Mem Sahib would be angry if she was disturbed by her crying, by the time she was six years old she was as tyrannical and selfish a little pig as ever lived.'
"Professor! I found it. It rolled under this metal box. Hey, what's a K-9?"
The Doctor closed the book and laid it on the floor. "Coming."
"Honestly Doctor, how can you have gone through life and ever once read a Sherlock Holmes story?"
The Doctor laughed, his brown curls bounding off his shoulders. "I didn't need to Charley. I met Conan Doyle once. Nice man, a bit flighty in his later years. Do you know, he and Houdini were good friends?"
"And I suppose you met him too?"
"Yes, several times. Shame about how he died."
Charley poked her head from over the top of the bookcase. "Died?"
"Oh yes, a bit after your time Charley." The Doctor's foot hit something on the floor. "Stupid me," he said as he bent over, "I keep forgetting about you." He ran his hands over the soft leather binding and crashed open it's pages.
'The young English governess who came to teach her to read and write disliked her so much that she gave up her place in three months and when other governess' came to try to fill it they always went away in a shorter time than the first one.'
"Whoa... ouch!" A crash sounded from the other side of the bookcase.
"Charley! Are you alight?" The Doctor dropped the book on the wicker chair.
"My foot slipped off the ladder. Oh, I think I've twisted my ankle."
"Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later."
The Doctor dropped his leather coat across the back of the wicker chair, grabbed the soft leather bound book and dropped himself onto the seat in a heap. "I'm going to finish you if it kills me." He cracked open it's pages and started to read.
'So if Mary had not chosen to really want to know how to read books she would never have learned her letters at all.'
"Hey Doctor," Captain Jack Harkness said as he poked his head into the library.
"Oh for pity's sake, what?"
Jack frowned for a second. "Sorry. Didn't mean to interrupt."
"They never do."
"Do you know how long I've been trying to read this stupid book? A thousand years!"
Jack laughed. "Oh come on Doctor, you're exaggerating."
The Doctor sighed. "You're right." He did a quick calculation in his head. "More like eight hundred give or take a decade or two." He closed the book. "What is it?"
"Rose wanted me to tell you that the time rotor is making a funny..." Jack and the Doctor were thrown to the floor as the TARDIS shifted in space. "...noise," Jack said as he stood up, brushing himself off.
"I'll be right there." The Doctor picked up the jacket and shoved the book into one of the inside pockets. "Someday I'm going to find out what happens."
The Doctor stood in front of the full length mirror, his brown hair spiking off in a few different directions.
Rose stood behind him, smiling. "Honestly, you look fine."
The Doctor frowned. "Hmm... not sure about the teeth."
"I think I caught Mum checking out your bum."
A look of mock disgust crossed the Doctor's face.
Rose laughed as she reached for the leather coat of the man she had previously known as the Doctor. As she reached for the hanger, something fell out of the pocket. "Hey, what's this?"
The Doctor turned, a sad smile crossing his face. "Oh that. I think I'm going to give up trying to read that."
Rose opened the book. "Give up? Are you kidding? I love 'The Secret Garden'! Mum used to read it to me when I got sick." She flipped through the pages, smiling to herself.
The Doctor watched her for a moment, then sat cross-legged on the wardrobe floor. "Go on then."
Rose looked confused. "Go on what?"
"Read it to me."
"What," she asked laughing.
"Rose, everytime I've tried to read that book, something happens. I mean every single time! Someone makes tea, something goes wrong in the TARDIS, someone's looking for me, someone gets hurt." The Doctor ran his hand through his hair. "Do you have any idea how frustrating it is to have been reading the same book for nearly nine hundred years and only be one paragraph in?" He thought for a minute, then jumped to his feet. "Wait right there." With that, he ran out of the room.
Rose walked into the console room, the book still in her hand. The Doctor had been gone for almost an hour and she was beginning to worry. She had only been aquatinted with this new version of the Doctor about two days. Maybe this was part of his new personality... as odd as that thought sounded.
"Ah, there you are!" The Doctor walked up behind her, a picnic basket in his left hand. "I was just looking for you." He took her hand and led her to the TARDIS doors. "Go on."
Rose slowly opened the door and looked out. The TARDIS had landed in the middle of a lawn surrounded on all sides by flowers, the style and color of which Rose had never seen before. "Oh my..."
The Doctor followed her out. "Like it?"
He pointed to a nearby tree covered with bright blue flowers. "Over there?"
Rose nodded and ran to the tree. After the Doctor had laid out the blanket, Rose pulled the book from her pocket. "Right, one paragraph in.
'One frightfully hot morning, when she was about nine years old, she awakened feeling very cross, and she became crosser still when she saw that the servant who stood by her bedside was not her Ayah.' "
"Wait," the Doctor said, raising his hand. They sat in silence for a moment.
"What is it, Doctor?"
He smiled. "Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Go on."
" ' "Why did you come?" she said to the strange woman.'..."
The Doctor sat back and listened to Rose. He looked at the fresh faced young woman in front of him. He looked at the weight of the pollen laden flowers, the chaos of the leaves blowing in the light breeze, the push and pull of the birds and worms in the ground by his feet. Today, here and now, he didn't feel like an old man.
Excerpts from 'The Secret Garden' by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
I, of course, had to take some liberties with the personality of the 10th Doctor since, as of this writing, we have no real idea what he'll be like yet.