Introduced by a friend of a friend
Smiled and said 'yes I think we've met before'
In that instant it started to pour,
Captured a taxi despite all the rain
We drove in silence across Pont Champlain
And all of the time you thought I was sad
I was trying to remember your name… •
He lands on her birthday.
It's quite by accident, of course, he's not even supposed to land along her timeline at all. But most things in life, well, in his life, are by accident, happenstance, or chance. He's come to accept these sort of things.
It's still disarming to see her again. He walks around the corner of a hallway and she turns as well and there they are, standing in the same space.
With a wave of her hand, the two women she was addressing leave without question. She turns back and looks up at him, her face at once angry and anticipating. She is young and old as well, and it is a tribute to her beauty that he can't figure out what year he's landed to visit her.
"I had often wished you would visit again," she says. "But I had often imagined it under different circumstances."
He looks down at his clothes. The blue suit he wears is torn at the sleeve and knee, and the tie around his neck is askew. The TARDIS had been parked out in one of the gardens, unfortunately near where a fire-breathing Graske had taken up residence. He'd meant to take a quick look 'round before heading back to the TARDIS. But, well, he walked into a piece of his own history before then. He's come to accept these sort of things.
"Well, never a chance to slow down," he says. "You know me."
She smiles thinly, and coughs into a small handkerchief. Tuberculosis takes her in the end, he thinks, seeing the bloodstain on the white fabric. But she was sick (is sick) for a very long time prior to that. A silly, stupid illness that could've been cured not even two hundred years in the future. Time is so short for them. Truncated, sliced away. There's not enough time to see anything, or do anything, and even a life as fantastic and accomplished as Madame du Pompadour will be lost to time.
But not lost to him.
He wishes he could tell just how long it's been for her. It has been so very, very long for him. Has he left her waiting by the fireplace? How could she look so calm, talk to him so sweetly, if she knew (knows) he has already left her?
Or perhaps she doesn't know how old he is. Perhaps, for the first time, they are on the same timeline, both old and both lonely for a long while without each other.
One of the women reappears and gestures to Reinette, who ignores her. If anything, the gesture appears to put her out more than interest her.
"They are planning for the ball, tonight," she says. "For my birthday." She takes in a breath. "You'll come. You'll dance with me." There is no question in her voice.
"I don't dance anymore," he says.
"Which is what you said before," she replies, her lips very slightly turning upwards, pleased by the challenge his refusal gives her.
"I only dance with the stars, now," he says.
"A noble pastime," she says, nodding to placate him.
"I don't dance with people," he insists. "I don't love them, not anymore. I dance with time and space." He dances with universes and unrealities, he rewrites history and undoes time. It's what he's become, now. He's not the same man who sipped watered-down wine at the Yew Ball and danced with a pretty woman simply because he wanted to.
Her smile changes, very subtly. He can see the lines in her eyes, the creases in her smile. She's much older than she was when he left her at the fireplace, he decides. She may not show it on her face, but it's there, in her eyes.
"Time and space is all that you love?" she says, her words crisp and delicate 18th century French vowels. "You must be aware that it will never love you back."
They're both far too old to be dancing, he thinks. Far too old to be playing. He needs someone to stop him, and she deserves the stars. Deserves them at least once.
"Come with me," he says.
He reaches out a hand to touch her face, but she moves back, very slightly, leaving the warmth of her skin in the cold December air. He can feel the streams of her timeline in her wake, touch the fragile strands binding her to this December, what must be the last December she spends alive.
He's shattered fixed positions in time before, but he'll never quite accept that he can.
"Dance with me," she says.
They stand together here, but timelines away from each other.
• There's one thing I want to say, so I'll be brave
You were what I wanted
I gave what I gave
I'm not sorry I met you
I'm not sorry it's over
I'm not sorry there's nothing to save
I'm not sorry there's nothing to save… •
Muse: The Doctor (Ten)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count: 851, not including lyrics from Star's "Your Ex-Lover Is Dead"
Mike says it's romantic and depressing, so it must be one of my stories. =|