Written as a late gift for Kathryn Shadow's birthday on the 24th. KS likes fluff, reunions, random Daleks, Bad Wolf references, quirkiness, and mysteries. I have fluff, post-reunion, quirkiness, and a bit of a mystery. I can only hope it will do, as the Dalek was too big for the mail slot. -giggles- Happy belated, Kat.

Post-Doomsday, NO SE/JE, post-reunion fic. With random applications of aliens.

Time Lords and Tour Guides

The pale orange creatures coming toward them were obviously tourists. Rose had guessed that much since she kept over-hearing snippets of one in front chatting at the ones following it.

They were tall and strangely elegant, this batch of alien tourists. The Doctor had raised a startled eyebrow at them when he saw them at first, hours ago when he'd stepped out of the TARDIS onto the surface of Mia Verasra to find them peering at a nearby fountain. He hadn't deemed to comment, which was amazingly out of character. Instead, he'd taken her hand and led her quietly into the shops, explaining that, as a resort planet in the late 80th century, Mia Verasra always had such a teeming variety of life that only in space bars in the lost Republic could one find more different people.

Rose was delighted to start with and ecstatic by the time they stopped for lunch. There was an enormous furry bloke and a small pink thing at the next table. They were conversing to each other in their own languages. Literally without the benefit of translation, one would speak in his language and the other would answer in his own, and no one ever needed to tell them what the other was saying. This was when she loved traveling with the Doctor the most, when she felt like an extra on a Star Wars set, all the mad variety of alien life in the Universe surrounding her like she belonged there as much as him.

The Doctor grinned at her over a plate of something they called chips, which weren't really, and reached over to take her hand. He looked like he was going to say something, when the orange aliens turned up and he leaned back instead, to watch them with narrowed eyes.

"And here we have a Horriden, conversing with a Taktatran. Horriden speech is impossible for the Taktratan voice box, so while they understand one another, neither actually speaks the other's language. The Horriden are usually found in the constellation of Mysa is Galaxy Three. The Taktatran are their closest interstellar neighbors. Eons ago, they used to war against each other, until a threat of Dalek incursion caused them to resolve their differences and ally themselves to deal with the Dalek fleet. After the Daleks threat had been resolved, they discovered that they needed each other for several mutually beneficent economic advances and have been at peace since."

Ok, so they sounded more like a college lecture group than a tour group.

"Any questions?"

Rose was beginning to suspect that only she and the Doctor could see them, since everyone they stopped to gawk at seemed to ignore them entirely too completely.

"Are they invisible?" she asked.

"It's complicated," the Doctor replied.

"Moving on," said the tour guide/lecturer person, and led his group over to their table. "Here we have a great rarity."

"Damn," said the Doctor, quietly.

"You'll need to be very quiet, or you'll startle them, because they can see us and, by and large, understand us."

"What are they?" asked one in the back, who sounded to Rose quite a bit like a small girl.

"After the Last Great Time War," continued the lecturer, much to Rose's sudden unease, "this species was generally believed to be extinct. Historical evidence, and now our own observation, has proven that not to be the case."

"Are they Daleks?" asked another.

"Don't be stupid," said its companion. "No one's dead, are they?"

"Good point," said the Doctor.

"No, these are Time Lords."

"I'm not a Time Lord," said Rose, torn between indignation and hilarity.

"As you can hear, the female of the species generally prefers the gender-correct distinction of 'Time Lady'. My apologies," added the guide in her general direction.

The Doctor rolled his eyes.

"Time Lords hail from the planet Gallifrey in the constellation of Kasterborous and are generally considered to be the single most powerful and knowledgeable lower dimensional life-form. In fact, there is no known reason why their species has not transcended, except possibly..."

"A deep seated aversion to wandering around as inspecific energy critters," said the Doctor.

"Yes, that, thank you," said the lecturer. "Time Lords as a species have formed a symbiotic relationship with the other sentient life-forms from their planet, multi-dimensional beings of enormous capacity known to the Time Lords as TARDISes.

"The symbiotic link, as you can see by studying the Atron lines, is held differently by the female than the male."

"Which ones are the Atron lines again, I keep forgetting," said another of the strange aliens in a booming, deep voice.

"The Atron lines are these golden ones." He reached out and tugged at something invisible and Rose felt the strangest tingling sensation in the back of her head. She looked nervously at the Doctor.

"Don't do that," he said sternly. "You'll hurt her. You'll hurt them both." He'd turned the Oncoming Storm glare onto the tour guide, who gazed at him vaguely and blinked in something that might have been surprise.

"As you can see, the male is very defensive of the female and the symbiont. Time Lords, as a race, are non-aggressive. Neither they nor the TARDISes travel armed. However, the more powerful males are reputed to tend toward a form of manifestation that is considered generally insane by most other lower dimensional life forms and by many others of their own species as well."

Rose laid a comforting hand on the Doctor's, as it looked like he might jump to his feet and make the orange alien eat those words, every last one of them, with this strange green sauce that passed here for ketchup.

"The female seems quite emotional," observed one of the tourists, causing Rose to turn her own glare on the orange creatures.

"The females are believed to possess the greater empathy, which may explain why the Atron link is more pronounced in the female. These two, as you can see, are a mated pair. More than likely, her empathy is necessary to control his more chaotic impulses."

"He's much older, isn't he?" asked someone.

"Ignore them," suggested Rose, who only just now noticed the Doctor was blushing vividly for some reason. Probably because his age was showing. The other bit, people mistaking them for a couple, happened all the time.

"The species was decimated by the Time War. Her choices for a mate may have been limited, or it may be that the females generally choose older males. She may have been asked to choose this one, as he seems to need the exceptional depth of empathic store this female appears to possess."

"He's brilliant," she announced with a smirk. "And you gotta admit he's pretty."

The Doctor beamed at her and nodded, and tried to go back to his chips.

"I thought Time Lords could select their forms."

"Generally, they can. She appears to be too young to have reached that stage in the life-cycle, however. His form was likely selected by her choice in some way, with her age in mind."

Rose looked up at the Doctor and, to her surprise, found the blush even more pronounced. "What?" she said.

"Never mind," he replied grimly.

"Do they communicate telepathically? I can't understand half of what they're saying but it seems to make sense to them."

"Mated pairs amongst the Time Lords do communicate telepathically. Generally, and as you can see in this case, the male holds the greater telepathic capacity."

"If they change their form, how can they recognize their mates? The telepathy, again?"

"Partly that. Also, the male marks the female. You can see that, here, here, and here." The alien gestured, and again Rose felt funny sensations in her head. The Doctor was looking horrified across the table from her.

"Never, ever touch a marked female," the tour guide continued. "It's safest not to even confront one, especially not if she has this mark, here."

Now, Rose felt spots dance behind her eyes.

"That does it," the Doctor said and bolted to his feet, eyes blazing with that dark, alien power that always made people back off a few paces. "Leave her alone. If you touch one more time trace on her, I will personally drop you into a dimensional labyrinth and leave you to find your own way out. Shouldn't take you more than six centuries."

"Oh," said one of the tourists. "I see. Yes, that is interesting, isn't it."

"I mean it," the Doctor added fiercely, and pulled out the sonic screwdriver.

"He just threatens?"

"Only because he is already here. They have been known to do strange things in the fourth dimension in defense of a female so marked. Time Lords will even cross their own time lines to reach a marked partner, and on occasion, go so far as to jeopardize the local continuum by appearing in more than one manifestation. Were she in genuine danger, we would see very interesting temporal pyrotechnics. The Time Lords, as a race, are the only beings known who can manipulate the fourth dimension without any form of technological assistance."

The Doctor, apparently, did just that because, all at once, he was at her other side and taking her hand. "Let's go," he said.

"Run?" she asked.

"No, this one calls for nothing less than stalking off in high dudgeon."

Rose nodded.

"I think we upset them," remarked one of the tourists as they stormed past.

"Perhaps. Or they may be required to rejoin the symbiont."

"Can we see that?" asked the little girl sounding tourist.

"If we are quick, we may be able to get a glimpse of it. It is nearly impossible to get through a TARDIS's defenses without being invited." The tour group was following them from the bar, bobbing after them like a pack of baby ducks behind its mother.

"Would they invite us?" asked another tourist.

"No," said the Doctor. "I never invite chaos or higher dimensional beings. Not happening."

"How disappointing," said the guide. "No, apparently we will only be allowed a brief glimpse of the outer polyphasic shell of the symbiont."

Rose was keeping her questions to herself, so as not to distract the Doctor and not to give the tourists anything else to natter on about. But she did wonder what they had done to her.

"As you can see, the male prefers to keep physical contact with this female at all times. This is not a common occurrence amongst the Time Lords, as they generally forbid touching to the younger ones while their telepathic senses develop. My supposition is that this is also an artifact of the decimation of their species, the need for physical closeness that has over-ridden their previous customs. They were a species much given to ritual and tradition in their native environment."

"Can others see those markings? She practically glows."

"He can see them, and any higher life form with senses that extend can sense them if not see them clearly. Most advanced species would not dare to threaten her."

Out of nowhere, Rose remembered a half-dead Dalek demanding to know what the Doctor would do to save the woman he loves. She'd always wondered before how she'd accidentally given the Dalek that idea. Now, she began to wonder if it hadn't gotten the idea somewhere else.

"I heard that Time Lords who travel have companions from lesser species."

"That tradition was credited to a legendary wanderer believed to be one of the Time Lords in the last days of their planet, the protector of worlds and - an odd title - the Oncoming Storm. An unimaginably dangerous Time Lord demi-god called 'Physician', or 'Medicine Man'. Maybe 'Healer' - the translation has never been quite clear and no proof that such a being actually existed has ever been found."

Rose looked at the Doctor who grinned at her and put a finger to his lips. She nodded, fighting the urge to giggle.

"As you can see, although these two stand out particularly to us because of their obvious natures, they blend in well with the lesser species here, having the rather convincing ability to generate a sort of familiarity that makes sentients generally fail to notice their distinctive nature."

"Well, that answers a question I forgot I had," Rose said, blandly.

The Doctor laughed out loud at this, and pulled her close to his side, wrapping an arm around her shoulder and drawing their steps into synchronization.

"If you'll look just ahead, you'll see the symbiont off to the left. This one appears to have been damaged at some point, as they generally blend in to the scenery around them. This one is not doing so, but appears to retain the form of an incongruous blue box for some reason. A quirk in personality may also explain... my goodness, this one is very old, ancient even. A Type-40, if I'm not mistaken. My, my, my, a rare treat indeed we have encountered today. Very rare. I hope you appreciate, my students, that you are seeing a wonder of the worlds, here, as TARDISes almost never reach this advanced stage of development or age."

"When I give the signal," the Doctor whispered next to Rose's ear, "I want you to run to the TARDIS, open the door, and start the sequence. You remember how, don't you?"

"Sure," she said, shaky from the intensity of his voice and his cool breath against her face.

"I'll be right behind you, just don't leave the door open."

"No problem."

"Lady-like creatures and gentle-things," the Doctor said, stepping between the party and the TARDIS and giving Rose a sharp nod, "I'd like to thank you for ruining our holiday so dramatically. I've, frankly, never been so insulted in my entire lives, and believe me when I tell you that's saying something." Rose flung open the door as he rounded on the instructor and continued his rant at that being alone. "You are an idiot, as well as rude, and your students will be idiots too, if they follow your example. You don't tell them not to touch something and then prod it yourself, that's not only bad form, it's taking your life - such as it is - into your own hands. Time Lords are a very old race, you should know that, and we have unique and eldritch abilities. We can do things even beings like you can't possibly imagine, and then there's me."

"What's he saying - I did get the pronoun right, yes? He?"

"Yes, he," agreed the instructor. "This is the male. He is apparently lecturing us."

"Too right," the Doctor agreed. "We're leaving now; I wouldn't recommend following us. You'd just as well go back to your tour." He smirked at the instructor. "I'm an unimaginably dangerous demi-god, after all. They usually just call me 'Doctor'." And he turned, leaving the thunder-struck, rude creatures to gape at him while he followed Rose into the TARDIS.

"Fascinating," said one of the students as the TARDIS disappeared.

"What was that?" Rose asked.

"Higher dimensional beings. Unusually stupid batch, too, apparently."

"I mean... well, they... I... haven't they ever seen a human being before?"

"Yeah, all the time."

"Then why'd they..."

He ran a hand through the back of his hair, nervously scratching at his scalp and looking for all the world like a small boy about to get into a lot of trouble. "Mistake you for a Time Lady? Easy mistake to make, actually, what with you being with a Time Lord, and looking like you do and all."

"Looking like..."

"Are you having trouble finishing your sentences, Rose? Let me help." His voice took on a high-pitched tone as he mimicked her rather well. "Looking like me. Humph. Idiots. Let's forget them, Doctor, and go to Arcturus."

She laughed. "Not a chance, Doctor. What'd they do to me?"

"Oh, that." He sighed. "Every person who exists has a line of possibility or two that threads around them. Some people have a few more than that. My people called them 'time traces' and we can see them. They tugged on one of yours, the one that connects you to the TARDIS, and it disturbed you both rather a lot. You might notice her trying to keep you in places over the next few days, at least until she's sure you're safe."

Rose nodded agreeably. "OK, now we can go to Arcturus. But I did have one more question, and they sorta answered it, actually. Three times while I was living in Pete's World, these different aliens turned up, took one look at me, and turned around and took off. The last batch said, 'Do you really want to bring that down on our heads?'" She looked at him expectantly.

He gazed at her sheepishly, then shifted to impishly. "What was the question?" he asked, grinning.

She sighed and dropped the subject. Implying a why wasn't going to work on him, and she was sure - more than sure, actually - that she trusted him to tell her anything that really mattered, no matter how much it made him blush. "What was that bit about selecting your form, then?"

His cheeks turned adorably pink and he reached up and toyed with his ear. "Ah, well, you know. How would they know, right?"

"Right," she said with a smirk. "So you just got lucky to be young and gorgeous and not ginger this time, right?"

"Yeah," he said and twiddled with the console. "'Course I'm gorgeous. Always wanted to be gorgeous, always had fun when I was gorgeous."

"Sarah Jane liked you anyway. I liked you with the ears."

He snorted. "So we went all over the place," he demanded indignantly, sounding an awful lot like his previous incarnation, "and you kept bringing back people by complete coincidence that just happened to be pretty, young, male, and swotty?"

She giggled. "Gotcha," she said, letting her tongue poke out through her teeth as she smirked at him.

He sighed and reset the coordinates. "Yep," he said, finally. "I expect you do."