The Doctor, who was not presently painting, looked up from the book he'd been reading. Yes, by all accounts Twilight was a worthless novel, but the war of the Team Jacobs versus the Team Edwards was a huge part of the mid 21st century Earth culture, and he figured it was really about time he gave a read to figure out what that nonsense was all about. The only thing the Doctor had worked out was that Earth women made no sense and Charlie really needed his own series.
"I…do?" he asked.
Rose stepped from the back room, producing a piece of canvas with a hillside and a castle painted to it. It was incomplete, and it took the Doctor a few moments to register that it was, in fact, something he had done during one of the many "time to find myself" periods of his sixth life. It was the same time in his life that he'd learned how to knit, draw, paint, do ceramics, and play the vuvuzula. It was also the period in his life where he suffered the most thwacks on the head with a vuvuzula wielded by Evelyn Smythe.
"Ah, yes," he said, slipping off his glasses. "Yeah, that's one of mine. How did you know? I'd have taken it for a Rembrant. Or a Van Gogh. Well, not really impressionistic enough for a Van Gogh, I suppose."
"You didn't clean the brushes, but they have your name on them," Rose explained. "Where is this?"
"Outside of France," he said. "Early 5th century. It was my favorite place to take tea, so I started painting there."
"Why haven't you finished?" Rose asked, looking at the painting. "It's quite good."
"Is it?" He was always overly critical of his own work. Wait, no, he always adored his own work, actually. He grinned. "Yeah. Inspired, I think. I haven't been that sort of inspired in a long time."
"Think you could finish it?" Rose propped the painting up against the console and squeezed herself into the captain's chair next to the Doctor. "Give it another go?"
"Mmm, I don't know, I suppose I could," he said. The paint was old, but the TARDIS kept it and his supplies well preserved. She kept everything in the TARDIS remarkably well preserved. Apart from milk. Milk always seemed to turn after exactly five days, no matter what the expiration date said on the carton.
Rose grinned. "You could show me that place you liked to go to. We could have a picnic."
"A proper sort of date," the Doctor replied, casually.
This idea elated Rose. She smiled that wide, happy smile that made the Doctor's hearts skip a beat. "Yeah, a real outdoorsy date."
He nodded then, of course, had to add a very serious, sobering thought to the mix. "You'd have to change."
Her smile dropped. "Change?"
A little while later, Rose was stepping out of the TARDIS to the most beautiful countryside Earth had to offer. Flowers speckled the green grass, and the trees were just starting to change colors in the autumn cool breeze. Pity she couldn't really, properly enjoy it with the fuss she was making over her dress.
"A corset!" Rose exclaimed, irritated. "How am I supposed to run around in this?"
The Doctor couldn't really see the problem. Yeah, the corset probably wasn't comfortable, but the green dress she wore over it really suited her, he decided. Not that he'd tell her, of course. That might encourage her to wear the corset again, and corsets were a terrible idea to wear on a regular basis.
"And you!" Rose snapped. "You don't even bother!"
"I changed my tie."
"And that's enough, is it?"
"Just about," the Doctor replied.
Rose huffed and crossed her arms, then apparently didn't like the way the corset felt that way, and kept her arms at her side. "What makes you think anyone's even going to see us up here?" she asked.
"Well, I didn't finish it for a reason." He took a few steps forward and planted his easel into the ground. He dabbed a little paint onto the palette in front of him and stuck his thumb out into the air to try to figure out where the center of his picture was.
"And that reason was?" Rose stepped over to him and leaned a little against his arm.
"Distractions," he replied.
She let out a little laugh. "Yeah, I can't see you getting caught up with distractions."
"I did try to take a class on focusing once," he said, stirring the paint with one of his wider brushes. He held it up and sniffed. "This wide brush has a name."
"You could ask Mum," Rose said. "She dated an artist for a while. Had the fag behind his ear, fedora, and everything."
"Why doesn't that surprise me?"
Very little would surprise the Doctor about Jackie Tyler. She was a complex woman, but she'd have to be with the life she led. And, well, he'd hardly expect less from the woman who raised as complicated a woman as Rose Tyler.
Rose nodded. "So how was it?"
"How was what?" he asked, distracted by the painting in front of him.
"The class on focusing."
The Doctor shrugged. "Don't know. Couldn't even make it to the first one."
Rose smirked. "Why doesn't that surprise me?"
The Doctor looked over to Rose and grinned at her. It was moments like this, the little moments, when they looked at each other and the Doctor knew they were on the same wavelength. That, no matter what happened, Rose Tyler would always understand him and would be there. Forever wasn't a concept that Time Lords acknowledged, but he imagined that her time with him would be the human equivalent of that.
"So this is it, yeah?" Rose asked, leaning over to him with a twinkle in her eye. "Your favorite spot."
"Yep," the Doctor replied, looking back to his painting. "Used to come here and sit for…minutes, I'm sure."
"Minutes?" Rose sounded a little surprised. "Don't you mean hours?"
"Who's got hours?" the Doctor asked, dabbing a little paint on the canvas. "We'll be lucky if this calm lasts a few minutes."
"What do you mean?"
As if on cue, there was a loud trumpeting roaring out from behind them. Rose spun around, but the Doctor kept his eye on the canvas, dabbling a little more paint as the very expected horses arrived.
"I thought you said this was your quiet place to think," Rose hissed, looking up at the eight very grumpy looking French guards glaring down at them.
"Don't be ridiculous, Rose," the Doctor said, turning back to her. "I said it was my favorite. I never said it was quiet."
"And why would you want to paint here?" she asked.
He shrugged. "It's a lovely countryside."
She smirked at him. "That's just like you. Only loving the countryside because it's dangerous."
He tilted his head and smiled over to her. "Or in spite of it."
And with that, he spun around, pulling out his psychic paper. "Hello!" he said, loudly. "I'm the Doctor, this is the Lady Rose. We're here on official business to France."
"This isn't France," the man on the horse said, looking very grumpy indeed.
"Did he just say this isn't France?" Rose asked, pointing at the man.
The Doctor blinked. "I think he just said this isn't France." He turned to Rose. "In Mongolian."
Rose narrowed your eyes. "You've been visiting this place for the last however many years, and you never knew you weren't in France. That you weren't even on that side of the planet."
The Doctor shrugged. "I was busy."
Muse: The Doctor (Ten)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count: 1,294