It isn't until after the Time War that the Doctor spends any time in the 24th Century. It's one of those periods that doesn't really stand out when you look at human history – civil unrest is the worst thing that seems to happen. After the Time War, it seems like such fresh air. Even if his landing there was an accident. Maybe not, maybe the Old Girl knew exactly what he needed, even if it wasn't what he wanted.

The Ninth Doctor meets the guitarist first. Purple hair, and attitude, and cleverness with a biting cynical wit, making her older than she is. She makes Rose bristle with jealously whenever they happen to run into her, and determined that they leave as quickly as they arrived. He doesn't know why; it's clear to everyone, and blinding fact, that this brilliant girl is madly in love with a broken mess of a boy who has so many time lines surrounding him it makes the Doctor uneasy.

It's not their time yet.

The girl – Scaramouche, she refuses to tell him her old name, claiming she can't remember it but he'll never call her out on the lie – is interested in how everything works, and finds the Tardis an amazing curiosity. Her face lights up in awe as she explores the Tardis, studying every dial with such a familiar expression that he feels an old longing in his hearts for the granddaughter so long lost. The Old Girl likes this one, hums happily under her touch, and tries to convince her along, but she won't leave her boy and the Doctor couldn't stand the arguments that were sure to come. Rose's mutters always grew.

Jack loved them all; but Jack always did love the pretty people.

Scaramouche doesn't want to travel, but she did want to learn, and listened to his long winded explanations with a look of concentration on her face. She understands, or at least attempts to, and Rose makes comments that get scowled off. She's seen too many of Rose's type, and the Doctor isn't going to stop the arguments.

They didn't spend long together, but she was an intellectual, and she understood the day he turned up with a different face, and a different attitude. It was fine, she said, she understood.

At least, that's what she said.

xXx

It's the Eleventh Doctor who turns up next, awkward with his charm, but seemingly more emotionally stable than before. He's the one who gets the drummer to smile again, when it seemed like she was forever broken. He takes her off on a whirlwind trip, seeing planets, and moons, and all manner of amazing things. They laugh, and they dance, and Meat sees so many things it's like she can't process them at once.

She's not some fawning girl, not easily to fall in love again, not after everything that happened, but Meat always wondered if she could have ever let herself do it. The Doctor in this body is awkward, yet graceful, old yet young, and he's hiding just as much as she is but her mask is a little better fitting. He hates himself, she tries to get him to think otherwise. (She also happens to have a beautiful time with River and thinks the convict amazing, but it's always the Doctor who she takes by the hand when it comes time to run again.)

Things happen on their travels, and she finds herself becoming things she can't quite process but she's Miss Meat Loaf and frankly there isn't anything she can't handle. She's brilliant, so he tells her, she should refuse to be anything less than that.

Their travels aren't long; more than anything she longs for her home; but the friendship and the things that happened can't be erased. She'll always be there if he needs her. He'll always have a friend to listen to him.

If only he remembers that the world would do as much for him as he does for it.

xXx

The Tenth is the last to arrive, and if in his older age he ever looks back on this and sees the humour in it, it's unknown. He arrives before the brilliant guitarist manages to put the broken mess of a boy back together, and sees just how broken he is. It's like he can't stop popping into his life, from child to youth to adult, and it breaks his hearts.

He's a genius, a gift of amazing talent and the voice that can lead a rebellion and save the world, and no one wants to see it.

They don't mend each other, the Doctor can't do it for Galileo Figaro, but he can see what this boy becomes and he does his damnedest to keep him alive to see it for himself. His name's going to ring out amongst the stars, and the Doctor thinks he'll be one of the ones to sing it the loudest.

The broken boy is fantastic, and he'll make sure people know it

(If Galileo is a little in love with the Doctor, he never says. But he makes sure to make him smile at the least.)