A/N: The Enigma Variations was a piece of music based around a single, unknown, theme. Likewise, this collection of stories have the same theme, and each story is based closely on a song. The difference is that you know the theme; what you don't know is the song. The stories can come from anywhere, have any rating, any characters, any adventure. Feel free to try to guess the song; I'll be glad to tell you if you get it. Clues are embedded in the work. Also, feel free to suggest songs. I'll be glad to try them and see what happens.
Story 1: What Never Changes
Characters: Rose Tyler, the Doctor
Other Works: None
Time Line: S1, S2
Rated: All Ages
Disclaimer: As per usual, I still do not own Doctor Who. Yet.
This first chapter is written in honor of the birthday of my co-conspirator, partner-in-crime, NQN co-author, fellow music lover, and general all around FANTASTIC friend, Olfactory_Ventriloquism. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, love. Hope you have the best day, filled with wonder and joy, one worthy of your brilliance.
What Never Changes
The night was sultry, the air heavy, thick with moisture. It was high summer here on Ineffina and, the Doctor said, the middle of an immense street festival that was a lot like Mardi Gras, sans the nudity.
Jack had pouted about that, so the Doctor sent him off with directions to a specific bar. Of course, this had earned the Time Lord a lot of affectionate ribbing from the ex-Time Agent, which the Doctor survived by simply out-brazening him, right up until Rose had put her two cents in. Then, both men had blushed, for some reason. Jack's whole face went bright with color at being caught out, while a softer, some how more innocent pink graced the Doctor's ears and cheeks. Rose, the undisputed winner, once again, had scampered off to get changed.
The Doctor's sole concession to the party was the wearing of a pale blue jumper Rose had bought for him, the leather jacket still heavy over it. Rose, meanwhile, was in a flowing summer dress the TARDIS found for her, all soft pale cotton that went floaty and shimmery and cloudy in alternating waves with her every move. Her unbelievably comfortable little shoes had been selected to match, but still afforded her the ability to dance (like that would happen) and to run for her life (which was more likely).
Now, Rose and the Doctor were walking hand-in-hand through the musical, magical night. Every other time of their year, this place was a happy little town, but tonight it was all down to a single crowded street, music everywhere. There were fairy lights hanging from every awning, tree, and lamppost, and some vivid crystal powder had been scattered all over the place, so it looked like the night was below them, like the stars hung upside down.
Above the fragrances of the nearby ocean breeze, the street vendors' food carts, the perfume sellers, the crowd, there was the constant, airy fragrance that the Doctor called "illoreybi", a flower that reminded Rose of lilac and honey. As ever present as the music, it wafted through and over and around everything, permeating and somehow enriching every other smell with sweetness.
About half way down the street, they stopped to listen to a band play, some song that Rose had never heard. She asked the Doctor if he knew the catchy, beautiful tune, but he shook his head while the band played on. Rose sang along, anyway, but she couldn't even understand the words - the translation wasn't good enough for this sort of thing. She bounced on her toes enthusiastically, and managed one word in ten, and stopped to giggle, and sang some more. A soft baritone sound like the most glorious music ever graced her whimsical notes, and Rose looked up.
Her breath caught.
The Doctor was laughing. His bright blue eyes shone in the darkness and his normally haunted, tragic face was like a light. He smiled some times, a real smile that peeked through his masks. He grinned a lot, and that was his mask, in a way, a brilliant expression that fooled everyone, even him. Only rarely, so very, very rarely, did he laugh.
It was like watching a sunrise sing.
Rose clutched his hand tighter and their eyes met. His expression, the shining, the softness, it made her whole body shake, made her heart stutter in her chest. She felt like the whole world around them had been snatched entirely and taken far, far away. It was just them in a world of music and summer air. He looked at her and he laughed for her and he loved her. It was right there, gentle and obvious for her to see, for all the world to see.
The moment was too fragile and perfect and precious to disturb in any way. To see his eyes light like that, to see the ease in his body, the way the twinkling lights just seemed to orbit around him, the way he watched her like she was the only thing worth looking at, ever. He caught her other hand, tugged her close, sang along.
After a heartbeat or an eternity or an indiscriminate amount of time somewhere between those two, he moved. He didn't let go, didn't stop singing, he just moved. Slowly and all at once, and they were dancing. She laughed and he laughed, and they flung their heads back and sang. Twirled around each other like they were both born to it, a song that they had never heard still ringing through the street, movements like perfect choreography or the meeting of paired minds, the two held each other like they would never let go.
Beneath a foreign sky, so in love and so very aware of it, Rose Tyler and the Doctor danced.
Months or maybe a lifetime later, the Doctor stood in the TARDIS doorway, grinning at Rose. There was something lop-sided and precious and a little nervous about that grin, just as there was something questioning and tentative in his rich brown eyes. "Come with me?" he asked softly, holding out a hand.
Rose, never one to pass up an adventure with the Doctor, even if she never knew these days what was really on his mind anymore, took his hand without hesitation. She plastered on a smile that she hoped he would not look at too closely and, although she often worried about her place in his life these days, she stepped with confidence into a heated night of a world far, far away that he had yet to identify.
The smell hit her first, the sweet, illusive fragrance of the illoreybi flowers. Then, the music caught her ears, unknown and glorious and ever present. Then there was the crowd that swirled around them and swept them up. Rose glanced up at the Doctor, surprise not anywhere near enough to describe the wonder that swept over her.
"They say you can't go back," he murmured. "But they don't have a time machine, and I've never believed this mythical 'them', anyway."
She laughed with delight and the merry sound of his own laughter, so much more common these days, joined in. As one they charged up the street, hand-in-hand, with a million, million twinkling lights scattered around their feet. A familiar song, with words they still didn't know, skittered into their ears about half-way up the street. By unspoken agreement, they stopped and watched the band play.
Before she knew it, they were singing, and then she was in his arms, again. They were different arms, now, and maybe she was a different girl, too. She'd lost him and gained him, and learned more than he wanted her to know about him, and she'd misplaced him for five and a half hours, lost her illusions about so many things, lost her childhood friend and maybe lost her innocent faith in people she thought she loved. But he was here with her now, where they had been before, and maybe they could just let go. Everything could come back around, later. They didn't have to let the losses tie them down.
She looked up at him to ask him if he remembered, and he looked down and met her eyes and she didn't have to ask. It was there, bare and honest, for her to see as clearly as daylight.
"Dance with me?" he murmured low, and she could only nod a silent assent.
The feeling she had steeled her heart against welled up and throughout her entire being, swelling in her soul and in her eyes, and he held her close and she remembered, oh so very well, that he was her Doctor and some things never changed. His lips parted and his eyes shone and they sang along to the band, maybe one word in ten, and the rest "la, la, la, la, la."
Underneath a foreign sky, another life and a pinstriped suit, still so in love and so very, very aware of it, Rose Tyler and the Doctor, once again, danced.