The Doctor passed time by flipping random switches and buttons on the TARDIS console. Not that he needed to. He was waiting for Emilie to emerge from her bedroom. She usually came out at about 8:30 exactly, and it was 8:28 now. Two minutes left. He continued fiddling around with the TARDIS like he had been doing for the past thirty-five minutes and twenty-seven seconds, ever since he decided where he would take her next.
The TARDIS hummed playfully in his mind.
Impatiently, the Doctor considered going in to fetch Emilie. But no, that would spoil the effect. He thrust his hand into his pockets and retrieved a bounce ball he had placed there for emergencies. "Well, this is as much an emergency as anything else," he muttered to himself. He started bouncing the ball up and down against the metal grated floor.
Thirty-two seconds left.
The Doctor bounced the ball once per second. That soon got boring, somewhere after the sixth bounce. So he got a little more creative, making the bounces happen twice a second, or one and a half times.
"Having fun there, Doctor?"
Startled, the Doctor accidentally bounced the ball too hard. "What?" It rebounded off the grating and bopped him in the nose. "Ow!" Rubbing his nose, he looked up and saw Emilie leaning against one of the TARDIS's coral columns. The girl was trying to stifle her giggles with a hand over her mouth.
"Ah, Emilie," the Doctor coughed. "I was
just waiting for you to come out."
At this, she lost control and collapsed in a fit of laughter.
He put his best pouting face on. "Oi! Stop it! If you keep this up, I might decide that you're not mature enough to travel with me."
Between giggles, she retorted, "That coming from the nine hundred year old alien
playing with a bounce ball
"Seriously though. The next place we're going requires a certain amount of maturity, and, at this moment, I doubt you possess that much," he said slyly.
Emilie stopped laughing immediately. Curiosity piqued, she ran over to him. "Where are we going?"
Feigning disappointment, the Doctor sighed. "Never mind. You can't handle it, so just forget about it."
"No! No, see? I'm serious now. I'm mature. You know I am. Where are we going?"
The Doctor had to admit, she was right. Emilie was mature. Often, she made him wonder who was more of a kid, him or her. He had certainly become more cheerful since he picked her up. He grinned, "Tell you what. I'll keep it a surprise. But there's a surprise waiting for you in the wardrobe."
In a moment, Emilie was running back down the hallway she had just come from minutes earlier. The Doctor chuckled, counting down the seconds. And fifteen seconds later, just as he expected, he heard her voice from the wardrobe.
"Oh my gosh!"
He smiled again. Yup, he thought, she found it.
The pounding of her footfalls echoed again through the hall, and then Emilie was peeking into the console room.
"Do I put it on now?" Her eyes were wide with shock and excitement.
"Well, yeah!" He replied, as if that was obviously the thing to do.
Emilie hurried off yet again and left the Doctor feeling quite pleased with himself. He figured she would enjoy this particular trip. Very much. In fact, other trips might even pale in comparison. Well, maybe. Well, probably not, but it was still going to be a fantastic holiday.
The Doctor finished typing in the half filled data for the flight while the teen was getting prepared. He himself didn't need to change. The classic brown pinstripe suite and Converse trainers worked pretty much everywhere. Comfortable and fitting for every occasion. Except on Bumbleyberg in the Seventh quadrant. It was a rubbish outfit there.
It took him a second to realize he was rambling again, maybe not out loud, but rambling all the same. Shaking his head, he chastised himself. But the Doctor couldn't help it, not really. Sometimes he rambled for the pure enjoyment of it, like a game. Humans have so many different game shows; he figured one more based on rambling couldn't hurt. How long can you ramble? That would make a fine show.
When he heard Emilie's voice, he yet again reprimanded himself for losing control of his thoughts. He hummed an acknowledgement and returned to his typing.
The girl's voice sounded hesitant. "Um
I was wondering
could you help me button the rest of this up?"
He looked up at her request and the sight of her left him breathless for a moment.
Emilie was wearing a deep purple gown he had left out for her in the wardrobe. Now that he saw it on her, the Doctor knew he had made the right choice when he found it for her. The skirt was full and brushed the ground as she walked. The top was tight fitting and scoop necked, with ribbon crossing back and forth on the front. The sleeves hung slightly off her shoulders and ended at a three-quarter length. Lace fringed the neckline, sleeves, and hem of the skirt. Emilie had even put her hair into an elegant braided bun at the nape of her neck, though a few bangs had already escaped. Altogether, she looked absolutely lovely.
The Doctor shook himself out of his trance and approached her. "You look beautiful, Em. A proper lady now."
She gave him a small smile, "shut up." Embarrassed, she reached behind her back and cleared her throat. "Uhm
"Oh. Oh! Right, sorry." The Doctor circled around her and began buttoning up the back. It didn't prove too difficult, just about ten tiny buttons from her lower back to her shoulders. After he finished the last button, he patted her on the back. "There. All ready. How do you like it?"
Emilie swiveled around to face him and smiled shyly. "I love it! It's the prettiest thing I have ever seen. Thank you."
The Doctor waved his hand submissively. "It's nothing. I'm glad you like it. Now. Shall we go?" He offered her his arm and gestured toward the TARDIS console.
"Yes. I would love to," she answered as she accepted his arm and strolled with him the few feet to the controls. Emilie sat down on the pilot chair and, hands folded in her lap, waited for the inevitably bumpy journey. She laughed when the Doctor gave her a cheeky grin and a wink. Then he threw the last lever, and the TARDIS erupted in her whooshing sound and they were off.
The trip itself was not that long. It lasted only a few seconds before the final jerk came and all was silent again. The Doctor found himself sprawled out on the floor, though he couldn't recall how he got there. He chuckled and pushed himself up on his elbows. Glancing about, he saw that Emilie had been lucky enough to remain in her seat on the pilot couch. However, it seemed she had been gripping on for dear life and a few more bangs had escaped her bun. Oh well, she looked just as pretty.
He bounded to his feet and helped her up from the chair. "Ready to see where you are?"
Emilie nodded enthusiastically and rushed to the TARDIS doors. The Doctor strode after her, amused by her eagerness. Again, he was impressed by her morals. Even though she was obviously impatient to go outside, she waited for him to go out first. He didn't keep her waiting; he wanted Emilie to experience this as much as he did. The Doctor opened the door, ushered the two of them out, and locked the wooden door shut.
I glanced about, trying to get a feel for where I was. Nowhere I recognized, not immediately anyway, but that was no surprise. The TARDIS had landed in a long corridor, made of brilliant white stone, shaped into columns and arches. Already, I felt captured by their beauty.
I felt something nudge my arm. Turning my eyes away from the scene, I caught the Doctor in the act of bumping me.
"Well? Are you coming? Or do you want to stand here and admire the masonry all night?"
I stuck my tongue out at him, but nevertheless grabbed his hand. At first I thought he was shaking, but then I realized that I was the one trembling. Excitement coursed through my body. The first step never lost its magic. Never would. Thrilled, I let the Doctor lead me down the hall. To where, I didn't know. But I was eager to find out.
About a hundred feet down the hall we came to a large set of double doors, bigger than any doors I had ever seen. The Doctor grasped one of the handles and pulled it open. I murmured my thanks, stepped tentatively inside, and immediately froze.
I was in a vast room. Intricate pillars supported a ceiling that was a hundred feet above my head. Even the ceiling was painted and designed with such artistry I had never seen before. Stained glass windows bordered the walls and let the setting sun cast color throughout the room. Tables filled with delicious smelling food were set to the side, allowing the hundreds of people in the center of the room to waltz freely.
The Doctor had brought me to a medieval ball.
For a moment, I just stood there, mouth agape. A ball
I didn't know what to think. Naturally, I had expressed my interests in medieval culture, but never had I even dreamed. I should have thought about it. I mean, Time Lord, TARDIS, time travel
. It wouldn't have been hard to get there. It's just one of those little details that seemed to slip my mind.
"What do you think?" The Doctor said softly next to me.
Words failed me. All I seemed able to do was look at all the pretty things in the room. It was so exotic. Unfamiliar, yet so comfortable at the same time. Finally getting a hold of myself, I turned to him. "Thank you, Doctor. This is amazing! I mean, really properly amazing!"
"Well," he sniffed. "All in a day's work, I suppose."
I couldn't resist punching him in the arm. The only response I got from that was his classic wink.
He gave me a small push. "Don't be shy, go on! Have some fun! Just don't do anything I wouldn't do." After he said it, he seemed to reconsider his instructions. "On second thought
ignore that last bit. Just
use good judgment."
I smiled. Of course I wouldn't do anything the Doctor wouldn't. At least, not intentionally. So I set off, ready to discover what a ball was like.
I wandered around for most of the first hour, just watching the dancers, admiring clothes, trying some different foods, and watching some more. After meandering through some of the guests, I settled on a bench at the edge of the ballroom. All the dancers were so beautiful! Each couple was different in respects to the elegant dresses and suits, yet they all spun gracefully together into a kaleidoscope of colors. The colors were soothing, swirling around and around and around
A cough sounded to my right. Turning, I found myself suddenly face to face with a young man. A cute young man at that
He was tall, but not extremely. About a head taller than myself. He had a head-full of sandy blonde hair, and clear blue eyes. Eyes that made me want to trust him.
The blue-eyed boy bowed slightly. "Would you care to dance, malady?"
My eyes widened. Quickly, I glanced around, making sure he was talking to me and not some other girl. I was the only one anywhere near him. "Me?"
He gave a short nod. "I don't see any other single ladies," he pointed out. "Well?"
So he had caught my surprise. "Well
yes. Yes, I do. But
I don't know how," I eventually stammered out. How embarrassing to be a dancer and not know how to ballroom dance or waltz?
He smiled slyly. "Then I shall teach you." He held out his hand.
In that second, I had a brief flash back of just a few weeks ago. Of a girl sitting on a park bench. A girl completely in awe of what was in front of her. A tall, thin man in a pinstripe suit holding out his hand to the girl, wishing for her to join him. The girl hesitantly took the man's hand and he led her into her dreams.
Taking the Doctor's hand had been one of the best decisions I had ever made.
As I had done before, I took the boy's hand and he led me into the midst of the dancers I had just been envying. He placed his hands on my waist and back, and I placed mine on his shoulders, as I had seen the other women do. Slowly, the boy began waltzing. He helped me ease into the dance by whispering where to move next and encouraging words. I felt like such a little girl, but I blushed every time.
"What's your name," he asked abruptly.
I giggled, not believing that we had been dancing for this long and we didn't even know each other's names. "I'm Emilie. What's your name?"
He seemed somewhat surprised at my question. Smirking, he replied, "My name is Arthur."
Unsure of how to answer, I simply said, "Arthur. That's a nice name."
Arthur looked at me quizzically. "You're not from around here, are you?"
" I wasn't sure how to answer that one. "No, not exactly. I come from far, far away. I place called America. You've probably never heard of it."
He shook his head. "No, never. Strange. I thought I knew of all the provinces around."
"Oh, well, it's overseas. Halfway across the world," I elaborated. Certainly, it couldn't hurt to tell him that much.
Chuckling, Arthur commented, "You're a long way from home then."
" No matter how much fun and exciting traveling the universe was I missed it at odd times like this. I was beginning to understand how Rose and Donna had felt, wanting to visit their families so often.
"What brings you to these parts?"
"What?" I hadn't even realized he had asked. "Oh, um, just traveling. Seeing the world," and the universe, I wanted to add. "There's more to life than just sitting at home. I wanted to experience it." That was the truth.
Arthur hummed in agreement. "I wish I was as free as you to make those decisions. My father would never allow it."
"My mother wasn't too fond of the idea either." I remembered how my mother had reacted to my request to travel with the Doctor. I brought myself to look him in the eyes. "Maybe, you should just take that chance. See what happens." I smiled encouragingly.
Returning the smile, Arthur said, "Emilie from America, I have never met a girl quite like you."
I guess my puzzlement showed on my face, because he laughed and continued. "It's a compliment! I like your air. You're so
free. Free from responsibility, unlike the rest of us. I envy you."
" I blinked in surprise. Traveling with the Doctor had changed me, yes, but I still had responsibilities. Even more so now, in some ways, because instead of just protecting my family and friends, I also had the rest of the universe to think about. I was beginning to also understand the burden of the Time Lords. The burden that the Doctor carried every second of every day, even if it was on a much smaller scale. "It's not all like that. I still have my duties to my family and home. I travel for their sake too."
"But you still have the opportunity. You're not stuck in one place."
I thought about his argument. "Maybe it's all how you look at it too. Even if you never have the chance to explore other lands, there's still so much to discover in one's own home."
He cocked his head, "I never thought about it that way."
"Neither have I," I realized.
A new voice spoke. "Excuse me."
Both of us stopped dancing to look at the speaker. The Doctor stood slightly behind the boy, a charming smile on his face. He bowed. "May I?"
Arthur sighed. "If I must." He turned back to me and smiled bitter-sweetly. "Thank you, Emilie. You've given me much to think about. I hope to see you again?"
Most of me wanted to cry out. No! Stay! The Doctor can wait. But I had to remain inconspicuous and abide by this culture's rules, so I said nothing. However, that would not change my feelings about his interruption.
Hiding myself, I laughed softly, "The feeling is mutual. Maybe we will meet again. Who knows what the future may hold." I tried to direct that bit to the Time Lord standing by my side.
Arthur took my hand. "In that case, I look forward to the future. Goodnight." Bowing, he kissed my hand, and then left.
I blushed as he walked away, because of his actions and also because the Doctor had witnessed it all. For being a Time Lord, sometimes the Doctor had the worst timing. But I barely had a chance to worry about it. A second later, I found myself whisked out to the middle of the dance floor again, only this time in the arms of the said Time Lord.
Momentarily, I forgot about my troubles and lost myself in the lively dance that the Doctor and I became a part of. We laughed at nothing in particular, constantly apologized for stepping on each other, and just had fun as a brother and a sister would. However, once the dance ended and the dancers returned to a slow waltz, I slipped back into dejected silence.
The Doctor peered down at me and I avoided his eye contact. "You wish I hadn't interrupted you earlier." A statement, not a question.
I could no longer keep back my irritation, no matter how hard I tried. It showed in my tone, "Well, if you must know, yes!"
"You know your parents put me in charge of you."
I sighed in defeat. "Yes, I know. I'm sorry. But I'm seventeen now! I think I can take care of myself." When I saw the Doctor's smirk, I defended myself. "Oh, you know what I mean!"
"Sorry," he coughed, getting control of himself. Really, he was such a kid sometimes! "But I doubt your parents would approve of their daughter getting hit on by the Prince of Camelot."
I almost fell over from shock, and I would have hit the floor had the Doctor's arms not already been around me. His words echoed in my mind. The Prince of Camelot. My brain was working overload, connecting puzzle pieces.
"Whoa, steady there!" The Doctor wrapped an arm around her waist and gently led her off the dance floor. "Come on, let's get out of here. Don't wanna attract any unwanted attention."
?" I stammered.
"Yep!" he said, popping the 'p', like he usually did. Then, raising his eyebrows, he asked, "He didn't tell you?"
I thought back to our introductions earlier. Arthur had seemed genuinely surprised that I didn't know who he was now that I really reexamined it. But he hadn't told me anything. He hadn't even hinted. "I don't think he wanted to," I mused. It all made sense now, our conversation. I felt sorry for him, yet I knew that he would soon have some grand adventures. Glancing about, I saw him surrounded by courtiers. So he was Prince Arthur of Camelot. And I had danced with him. I smiled to myself as the Doctor and I exited the room. Maybe they would meet again.
I looked forward to that future. Allons-y.