My stories are becoming more and more ambitious, even though they start out as an excuse for smut. Anyway, this is something of a prologue to whet your appetite. Hopefully, there will only be two or three parts...
18 June, 1969
On the night we met Shakespeare, after the fight, the Doctor showed me to a large, comfortable spare bedroom, and invited me to have a kip. I was exhausted and grateful . When I woke, a little red leather book had appeared on the bed beside me. I opened it, curious, but it was blank.
I asked the Doctor why he'd put it there, and he averted his eyes, took a long pause (the trademark eye-aversion-followed-by-long-pause with which I was to become painfully familiar, and which signified an inner turmoil of some sort, one that he would never share with me) and said that he hadn't actually put it there. I chuckled at him and said he was a terrible liar, but he interrupted, and told me that the TARDIS must have done it.
"She does that…" he began, but he didn't finish.
"She does that… what?"
"Never mind," he said dismissively. "Come on, let's storm the breach once more!" Then he took my hand and dragged me down the hall back to the console room. The book was in my pocket.
After settling in for the next ride, I had a minute or two to think. I extracted the red leather book from my red leather jacket. On the first page, some words had appeared, in slightly erratic, but legible, handwriting. It said "31 March, 2007: Judoon Platoon on the Moon."
The next time I looked, after we'd left New Earth, the second page said, "Summer, 1599: The Mystery of Love's Labours Won," and the third page said, "Five Billion Years: How New is New York?"
"Oh, it's a journal!" I exclaimed aloud. "I'm supposed to write about our adventures!"
"Mm," the Doctor grunted.
I loved the idea of it. I wrote about our time on the moon with the giant rhinos, I wrote about meeting the Bard and the intergalactic witches, bent on destroying the Earth with words. I wrote about spending time with Milo and Cheen and freeing New New York from the oppressive smog, and even hearing the truth about the Time Lords' lost planet.
But the one thing I left out of all of my entries, the one thing that was too painful to commit to paper, was my relationship with the Doctor. We had kissed, we had shared a bed, but none of it meant anything. Shakespeare laid it bare for all to see, I talked to Milo and Cheen about my feelings, even as the Doctor was turning a city upside-down trying to find me when I was lost. And still, it meant nothing because I was so desperately in love, and he didn't even have a passing interest. I'd been pulled into his life by a tornado of events, and pushed off a cliff into absolute, all-consuming, insane passion for the man himself. But still we existed like two pillars of stone, connected only by the ground beneath our feet and the burden of history.
As I wrote the entry, "2 November, 1930: When Hooverville Reached its Limit," I tried to talk to the Doctor about it. But as usual, he grunted and avoided my eye. Obviously, he had some kind of problem with the journal, and I wondered why, of course. Very soon, I got my answer.
He tried to ditch me.
Sure, he'd warned me that it was one trip only, but one trip had turned into three. We'd been together for what felt like weeks, and risked our lives together and for each other… I thought he'd changed his mind, and that I could stay on for a bit. But all along, he'd been thinking about how to get rid of me.
And that was the problem with the journal. If the TARDIS gave it to me, it implied that I was a permanent fixture. All those empty pages meant that I'd continue to have adventures with the Doctor, that I was a real lodger in the TARDIS now, not just a hitcher, as the Doctor saw me.
Then he did change his mind. He took me on permanently, and admitted later that the TARDIS must have known that I was indispensible to them long before he did. By then, I understood his companion issues, why he wasn't willing, at first, to keep me on-board, and why it bothered him that the TARDIS would make that assumption without his consent. I had accepted the big Rose-shaped hole in his life, and the fact that I would never fill it. But that didn't mean I couldn't be an excellent friend and a useful first mate on his ship.
Accepting though I was, I still could not bring myself to write in the journal about my real feelings. "1st April, 2007: Changing What It Means to Be Human," was completely missing the details of how my mum thought we were a couple (and how I didn't rush to correct her), and how my pulse pounded with excitement while the Doctor and I were jammed into that gene mutation machine, hearts to heart, even though we were twenty seconds from death. "The Pentallian: Abide or Burn With Me," had the glaring omission of how I believed for a split second that when the Doctor mouthed I'll save you, he'd said I love you, but then came to my senses. And I didn't write about the unabashed joy I felt, not only to know that the Doctor was safe after the sun had attacked him, but to see him run at me and open his arms. I didn't write about how he then wrapped them around me, and I wrapped my arms and legs around him and wept with relief into his shoulder.
But when I changed into that plain black dress in 1913, tucked the journal into an old rucksack and followed John Smith into the academy to apply for a job, I had no idea what I was in for. I still couldn't bring myself to do it, to spill my guts on the page like I should have, and it was like holding in a cough. I felt, after three months, that I might explode. Chronicling every day of that horrible time was tedious, and without mentioning that Mr. Smith's occasional kind words made it all worth it, and knowing that in a few weeks, I'd have my beautiful, beloved Doctor back, my journal became a place of grey, cold emotion. It was a melancholy I'd not been prepared to deal with.
My friend Jenny, a fellow servant in 1913, could see, and would say she didn't understand why I was so "sweet on" Mr. Smith, but that, of course, was an understatement. When she watched me watching him, she saw the smile behind my eyes, my lingering gaze, the wistful longing on my face. She didn't know that his presence, his very existence suffused every fibre of my being, and being without him was like torture for me. One woman does not say to another, "You can feel him in your bones, can't you? He's in your blood, like a sickness, isn't he? His smile makes you want to cry, because you burst with some emotion you can't describe, doesn't it?" Not in that time period, anyway.
So, no matter how acutely aware I was, as far as I was concerned, my feelings were buried beneath a veneer of proper post-Victorian behaviour, and remembering (God help me) that I was a black woman at a difficult time in history.
When it was over, we re-entered the TARDIS and I wrote the last day of our 1913 adventure (destruction and mayhem, a very cold and objective account of Joan Redfern's personality and involvement) and shut the book. I laid it on the bed beside me, and without thinking, I made a face and pushed it away from me. I had begun to loathe the sight of it. The TARDIS had given it to me, as a permanent member of its crew, not the Doctor. And it was a chronicle of happenings in my life that were overshadowed by desire and longing. I had not written any of it down, and its absence from the book made it all the more obvious: it was a story of love and rejection. It was almost a living, growing artefact of keeping something locked away, unable to confront it, unable to get past it.
So, when we stopped in London to deal with the lizard eggs, I threw the book into the sewer, then apologised to the TARDIS.
The next time we stopped in London, we were touched by stone angels and transported to 1969 without the TARDIS.
That was two days ago. Yesterday, while the Doctor was finding a place for us to live and replenish our wardrobes, I was finding a job and buying a new journal. This one.
But this journal will be done right. It will not be the story of avoiding inevitable heartache, therefore making it stronger. It will be a story that has desire and rejection within, but also the level-headed thoughts of a woman who is not so helpless to her desires that she can't even bring herself to face the words on the page. This new book will help me expel the poison, swim in the love, swim in the misery, and thereby, surmount them.
That means I cannot mince words. I cannot refuse to write about times when my heart palpitates, times when a jolt of hope slams through me, or a surge of lust. It will all be here for the taking.
Starting with this: the tiny flat he found for us has only one bedroom and no sofa. I hardly slept last night, there, curled up in bed next to him. I lay awake almost all night in a room bathed in the blue neon light of a shop across the street, making everything formless and vague. My whole body was alive and throbbing, and would not let me rest.
How do I master myself in these moments? I have a job to do, and I need to sleep some time…