anyone who fails to love us is damaged, lacking, malfunctioning in some way? And particularly if they replace us with a god, or a weeping Madonna, or the face of Christ in a ciabatta roll--then we call them crazy. Deluded. Regressive. We are so convinced of the goodness of ourselves, and the goodness of our love, we cannot bear to believe that there might be something more worthy of love than us, more worthy of worship. Greetings cards routinely tell us everybody deserves love. No. Everybody deserves clean water. Not everybody deserves love all the time.
"This is stupid." Rose sighed, scowled, and dropped onto a splintery wood bench. "We have all of space and time, including the Renaissance period, and you're taking us to the bloody Renaissance Faire? In 2006? I could've taken the Tube here, didn't have to take a TARDIS."
She had been complaining the entire time the Doctor had been bouncing around, gobbling up chocolate-covered bananas on a stick, talking human physiology with the tightrope walker, taking the piss on Mickey when he fell off the Climb-A-Wall contraption, and generally making a fool out of himself.
"You have to remember," he said, "This is a time period all in itself. It's how people see the past. It's what they think the past was like."
"I don't think they had chocolate bananas in the past," Mickey said, "Or credit cards."
"The whole thing is completely commercial," Rose pouted and crossed her arms.
The Doctor sighed, "Just can't have any fun, can you? And while chocolate bananas may not be of the era, Mickey, they are delicious, so there is no reason to complain."
"Yeah, well, I like the chocolate cheesecake on a stick best," Mickey all but bounced down the street.
"It's gonna stick to your arse," Rose warned. She had already consumed two of those herself, despite the protesting.
"Yeah, you're one to talk," Mickey replied. He pointed to a large, canopied building, "Oh, brilliant, a fortune teller. Always wanted to go to one of those."
"They're all fake, Mickey, you know that." Rose's pessimistic mood had no boundaries, it appeared.
"Oh, Rose." The Doctor sighed, playing very much the good-natured father-type to Rose's highly agitated mother-type (which made Mickey the child, and that was very appropriate, if not anywhere near genetically possible).
"Oh, come on, Mickey. That's stupid. Plenty of other things to waste our money on, here."
"Technically it was never our money to waste to begin with," the Doctor replied, brandishing the screwdriver he'd used to hack the outside ATMs.
Rose's return sigh was nothing short of incredibly put out. All the same, she followed Mickey into the building, with the Doctor finishing up the last of his banana before he followed as well.
The building was dark, lit by dozens of candles that were dimmed with the heavy incense that hung in the room. Along the walls there were dark velvet curtains with small golden stars embroidered along the seams. At the back of the building was a table, with a large crystal ball (the Doctor was fairly sure he saw it for sale at the other end of the Faire), a stack of tarot cards, and an older woman, draped in the same velvet as the walls. She appeared entranced by the ball, and she looked at it with bloodshot eyes over her long, hooked nose.
Though, the bloodshot eyes could've come from the heavy smoke. The Doctor knew his eyes were watering.
Mickey took another step in, only to be stopped by a man in a red-check uniform that read "Ye Olde Cashier".
"25 quid a reading, mate," he said, holding out a hand, "50 if you want it full."
Mickey turned and looked imploringly at Rose. She sighed, loudly, and pulled out the money pouch, producing 75 pounds.
"Three readings, then. Might as well."
The Doctor held up his hands, "No, no, I don't do that sort of thing."
"Oh, come on, Doctor, it's all fake anyway," Rose said, "And aren't we supposed to be having fun?"
"He's just scared they'll tell him he's a little green man or something," Mickey laughed, hopping into the room with the same enthusiasm that he took every aspect of this trip.
The Doctor rolled his eyes. "Oh, all right." He didn't like being risky, but, really, what would a human fortune teller know? And from the way Mickey said 'scared', the Doctor wasn't about to be shown up. And after how he'd made Rose go through silly things like the mirror maze? How was he supposed to be a spoil sport?
"Yes, yes, come into my den of magical fortunes," the Fortune Teller Woman Person said, waving her arms to have them enter closer. Mickey plopped down on the cushion closest, while Rose gingerly sat down a little further away. The Doctor stretched his legs out on one of the longer pillows.
"You seek fortunes, you seek the future!" She cooed.
"Obviously." Rose rolled her eyes.
"Oh, yeah, totally." Mickey bounced forward.
The fortune teller waved her hands around a bit more, in a manner that was supposed to be dramatic, the Doctor figured.
"As there are three of you, I will read the ball for one, the cards for another, and for the final I shall read your palm. Your fortunes will be read and you will know! The! Future!"
The Doctor was fairly sure Mickey was about to clap. The Doctor joined Rose in the eye-rolling, but he couldn't help but grin as well. At least it was a good show.
"You, young man," she pointed a finger at Mickey, "You are brave. Strong!"
"You got that right."
"I see many great dangers in front of you. A long journey!" She gazed deep into the crystal ball. Despite everything she was doing, the Doctor was very certain that it was only glass.
Mickey's eyebrows went up, "How far?"
"In a van."
The fortune teller nodded, "You will go there with the one who is destined to be your love. And there you will stay, facing your fears and becoming strong."
Mickey grinned. "See, Doctor, you're not the only one who finds love in France."
"Mickey." Rose's voice was low and warning.
"In a van!" The Doctor shook his head. "Of all the transportation to take to find your one true love."
"Well, at least I'll find her, right?"
The fortune teller looked suddenly very dubious. She waved over Rose.
"You, girl, you shall be next."
Rose shook her head, "No, you know, I don't think I want---"
"Don't be afraid." With one long-nailed hand, the fortune teller took Rose's hand and placed it on the deck of cards.
"Cut the cards, my dear."
Rose sighed, and did as she was directed. The fortune teller shuffled the cards again, and began placing them before her.
"You are a traveler, too," she said, "You travel with friends…" she placed down The Fool, and then The Lovers. "And lovers…"
Rose glanced back at the Doctor for a moment and despite the low light, it was easy to see she was blushing.
"You will travel, too. To untold dangers." The card labeled The Devil was placed next, followed by The Hermit and the Priestess She placed a blank card between the Hermit and the Priestess.
"There will be a wall. A very long, very thick wall between you and what you desire."
Rose snorted. "That's not very optimistic. Can't I have one about finding a true love or something?"
The fortune teller shrugged, "I call them as I see them, darling." She curled a finger in the Doctor's direction. Mickey's teasing went quiet, and Rose's attention went from indifferent to intent.
The Doctor sighed, then offered her his palm. Of all the stupid ideas…
The fortune teller's eyebrows knitted together. "You have the longest lifeline of any person I have ever seen."
With his free hand, the Doctor scratched his chin. "Do I really?"
"Mhmmm… You think entirely with your heart…" the fortune teller tilted her head to the side, "Hearts. It appears you have two." A pause. "Metaphorically speaking of course."
"Excellent mount of Jupiter, very strong-willed. Deep crevaces, which means your life is very deeply rooted in destiny."
"Says all that in his hand?" Rose asked.
"You have had many loves," the fortune teller continued, "Many, many loves. You love each deeply and with every part of your metaphorically doubled hearts. Many love you in return. I see emptiness, however. They all leave you. In the end, you will always have them leave you. You will always be alone."
The Doctor jerked his hand away and scrambled to his feet.
"I'm sorry, that's…it's what I see." She offered him a sympathetic smile. "But, honestly, what good is love? Not everyone needs it, and fewer that have it actually deserve it, am I right?"
Without a word, the Doctor turned and left the building. Rose and Mickey stared after him a long moment, then got to their feet and followed. The fortune teller seemed genuinely surprised that she wasn't tipped.
"Doctor!" Rose caught up with him first. "Doctor! What was that? Was she---"
"No," the Doctor shook his head, "She's a person-reader. Reads expression and worry. Probably saw…"
He gestured between himself and Rose for a moment, then gave up on that train of thought. "And besides, I think you're right. This isn't the best trip for us."
Mickey caught up, taking in deep gulps of air, "It isn't? What? We just got here."
"No, no, I think we should try the Post-Modern Faire." He grinned widely, but it was almost entirely false. "See how the 32nd century humanoids saw you lot in 2007, yeah?"
"Excellent!" Mickey again bounced away, this time in the direction of the TARDIS. He rather reminded the Doctor of a very excitable ferret. Which was good, if only one could actually train a ferret.
"Doctor." Rose's hand sought out his. "What she said…about people not deserving love…"
"She was trying to sound philosophical," the Doctor shook it off, "It's nothing."
Rose's fingers twined with the Doctor's. "No, no, I mean, I know she was. But you…" She took a breath. "You, Doctor. You deserve love, you know that?"
He looked to his companion and smiled. It was the closest either of them had come to really, really admitting it.
"Oh, come on," he said, "Only a few thousand years in the future! We can make it there in ten minutes if we hurry!"
He ran towards the TARDIS, his hand still firmly in that of the woman who loved him.
"That was not the kindest prediction you've given today." The Ye Olde Cashier stepped back into the den, where the fortune teller was removing her earrings and scarves in the reflection of the crystal ball..
"No, no it wasn't. It was just the right sort of prediction, though, I think." She smirked, and peeled the rubber nose off, letting it fall next to the tarot cards. She turned to the Cashier and sighed, "Oh, do take that silly human costume off, won't you?"
The Cashier nodded, and his face and body dissolved into the spiny-skinned coral of a Zygon. He shifted towards the woman, squishing and creaking with every movement of his body.
"There are better ways to throw the Doctor off-guard without all of this subterfuge, Mistress Rani," the Zygon said.
"Yes, I imagine there is," she replied, her smirk widening. "But once these predictions come true, I don't doubt he'll return."
"And then, Mistress?"
"Then, the fun truly begins."
Muse: The Doctor (Ten)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count: 1,846