Red Bicycle When You Were Twelve
"Look at you. Smiling like you were Father Christmas."
"Who says I'm not, red-bicycle-when-you-were-twelve."
He had stopped on Earth, yet again, and smiled to himself as he walked down the road, looking at the houses that he passed by. They were more like condos, but they were cozy and friendly, people out and about, snow on the ground, kids playing in their front yards.
He paused in front of one house, seeing a blonde woman in a blue jacket out with her daughter, who wore a pink jacket, and he couldn't help but overhear…
"But mum, it's the only thing that I want! I swear it! A red bicycle. Nothing else. I swear I won't ask for another present ever again!"
The woman shook her head, her eyes and tone firm.
"No, Rose. You know that we can't afford it right now, so you're just going to have to do without. You can walk to school; it won't kill 'ya!"
The girl, who the Doctor assumed by human standards to be about twelve, just shook her head and dropped her eyes to the ground, obviously disappointed. He didn't know what it was, but there was something about her…something different. Unique.
Suddenly, the girl named Rose looked up and saw him, and then flashed him a bright smile as she waved to him.
"Hello! Are you lost?"
She ran over to the edge of the grassy, snow covered area and propped her arms over the fence, giving him an inquisitive look, and he smiled.
"Yeah…yeah, I guess you could say that." She smiled again, and then tilted her head, as though silently asking him where he was trying to get to, so he went ahead and said, "I couldn't help but hear that you wanted a bike, so it occurred to me that you might know where the local bike shop is. Could you help me out?"
Her face fell slightly, but she nodded.
"Yeah, alright." Rose then leaned a bit more over the edge and pointed down the road. "Take this to Michael's Street and then turn left on Deighton. Follow it for about seven blocks and then turn left again on Wright Street. It'll be right on that street."
Nine flashed her a grin.
"On the right-hand side of Deighton Street, then?"
She shook her head.
"No…left on Wright Street."
He continued to grin, determined to win the word play.
"Yeah, so, right on Deighton and right on Wright Street…"
He was certain that she would simply get frustrated and walk away and call him weird, or strange, like had happened with so many other humans that he'd dealt with in the past, annoyed by his illogical persistence and his devil-may-care grin, but she just shook her head and grinned back at him, her tongue sticking from between her teeth out of the corner of her mouth.
"Fine, get yourself hopelessly lost then! But you know what I said, so don't go complainin' when you can't find the shop!"
He chuckled and so did she, but then Rose's mother yelled across the yard.
"Hey, you! Get away from my daughter, you hear? Rose, get yourself back inside! We've got presents to wrap!"
The young blonde rolled her eyes and walked back across the yard, flashing him a regretful smile, and then yelled to him, "Don't get yourself lost, now!"
He smiled back and watched as she walked inside.
"I won't," he said quietly, wondering what it was about the girl that had caught his attention. She was just a human! They were interesting simply because they were similar to the Time Lords in appearance and made him feel less alone, but other than that, they weren't all that interesting…
…so why had this one caught his attention?
Thinking about it, he walked down the road to Michael's Street, turned left on Deighton and then eventually turned left on Wright Street…and there was the bike shop. Just as she'd told him.
Curious, he stepped inside, and immediately saw the bike that she must have had her eye on.
It was an eight speed and was a bright, shiny red, and, for some unknown reason, he decided to purchase it for her.
He knew enough about human traditions to know that it was three days before Christmas and he was determined to make sure that she got the bike that she wanted for Christmas. He didn't know why this girl was so interesting to him, but she was.
The man at the counter asked if he wanted it shipped to a location, but the Doctor simply shook his head and strolled out of the bike shop wheeling it in front of him. For now, he would take it back to the Tardis and hold onto it for a few days. For some reason, this felt like something that he had to do. Like something that he'd already done, or was going to have to do…or something like that. He couldn't figure it out, but as he brought the bike into the Tardis, it seemed to hum with approval.
Oh, well. He'd figure it out later.
Two days later it was Christmas Eve, and it was close to midnight.
He had found Rose's house again and looked up at the darkened windows. Good. There was little chance of being seen.
Quickly, he crept up the steps, trying to keep the bike as silent as possible, and then, using his sonic screwdriver, he undid the front lock and made his way inside. There was a nice big pine tree in the middle of the room, but it had few decorations on it and even fewer presents beneath it.
Still staying quiet, he rolled the bicycle up to the tree and put out the kick-stop, and then quickly fumbled around in his coat for something to tie onto the handlebars.
He found an old scarf, but it was too long…but it was old, so he tore off part of it and tied a bow around the bars, and then stepped away to admire his handiwork.
He slipped back outside the home and headed back to the Tardis.
Rose Tyler got out of bed with much less enthusiasm on this Christmas morning than on other Christmas mornings in the past. Her mom had lost her job a few months ago, so they were low on money. She wasn't expecting anything more than a few small things.
Perhaps a few hair things, maybe some cute nail polish…a tape cassette, if she was lucky.
She rubbed her eyes and stepped into the kitchen first to get herself a glass of orange juice, her eyes barely skimming over the living room.
It hurt her to look at their tree. It was big enough, but only a few scant ornaments were on it, not even lights or popcorn, and it was a sorry sight.
She gulped down the orange juice, glad for the refreshing and sweet taste, one of the few bright highlights of her day. At least they were still able to afford groceries and were still able to pay the bills on time. That was the most important thing…
…but she had really wanted that bike.
Her heart low, she stepped into the living room. And then she felt her heart skyrocket so high that it stopped beating for several seconds.
A red bike.
And not just any red bike, but the red bike. The one that she'd been staring at for the past four months in the bike shop.
Someway, and somehow, it was in her living room, and as she approached it, her hand outstretched, she noticed that it had an unusual colored bow tied around the handlebars. She tugged at it and it easily came undone, and she realized that it wasn't a normal material.
It felt as though it were a scarf.
It had several different colors in it, including purple, tan, brown, yellow, and green, and it appeared to be quite old.
She then heard her mom enter the room behind her and she turned around and ran to her mom and wrapped her arms around her.
"Mum! Thank you, thank you, thank you! You're amazing!"
Jackie looked at her daughter in confusion, trying to figure out what she was thanking her for, but then she saw the bike that was in the middle of the room and her jaw dropped. How in the world had that happened? She hadn't…and none of her friends had…and…
Her mind went blank, and all she could manage to say was, "How on earth…?"
Rose heard this and pulled back from her hug and saw the look on her mom's face and realized that she hadn't gotten it for her.
Someone else had.
Suddenly, her belief in Santa was rekindled.
"Well, looks like Father Christmas is real after all, mum. I mean…look!" she said, gesturing to the bike. "He knew I wanted it!"
Jackie just shook her head in disbelief, while Rose continued to hold onto the fabric that had been lovingly tied around the bike. Whoever had given it to her was someone special, and they had left this little bit of themselves behind, so she would hold onto it.
Before she took the bike out, she put the material into her footlocker at the end of her bed that she had inherited from her father. As she put it in there, she smiled.
This was going to be the best Christmas ever.
A.N. - I heard that set of lines and I simply *had* to write a story about it! I figure that he met her once before on accident, and this is what happened. Of *course* the Tardis knew that she was destined to be with him! Why else do you think he was led to get her a bicycle? ;)