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An Absence of Trees

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The first thing that Rose notices about the planet Hjatland when she arrives is that there are no trees. Actually the first thing Rose notices is that they're in the middle of nowhere, picturesque nowhere, but nowhere all the same. Miles and miles of empty hillside and moor-land as far as the eye can see. The lack of trees is just the first thing she feels moved to comment on.

"Lots of planets don't have trees," replies the Doctor, staring off into the middle distance, "in fact I'm fairly sure this isn't the first planet we've visited to not have trees."

"Not ones that look so much like Earth," mutters Rose at his retreating back; coat flapping dramatically in the wind.

Approximately five minutes later as she's nearly blown off her feet for the third time she thinks the trees probably had the right idea.

~

The first thing Amy notices about the planet Hjatland when she arrives is that it looks like Earth. Northern Europe at that. Northern Scotland if we're going to get technical about it. The second thing she notices is that it's making the Doctor jittery as all else.

"Hjatland. One of the earliest Earth colonies. After the great exodus when the nations of the Earth were wandering the stars, one of the ships of the fleet of Scandinavia and Finland broke down here. So the fleet stopped while repairs were carried out, found the planet empty but habitable and stayed. Rather than getting into an argument about whether the planet should be new such-and-such or new so-and-so, they named it after the ship that accidentally found it. Famous for there being no trees whatsoever on the entire planet. Making it pretty much unique among the Earth colonies…" rambles the Doctor.

Amy tunes him out and focuses instead on the view. The valley is picturesque and the small town at the bottom hugs the coast.

"It reminds me of Shetland," she interrupts him with, then seeing the blue and white flag flying above the town hall, "and that looks suspiciously like a Shetland flag, are you sure this isn't Earth?"

"Quite sure. And that's the Finnish flag."

By the time they've got half way down the valley towards the town, Amy has been almost blown over three times and is almost entirely convinced that she's correct.

~

Amy and the Doctor stare up at the flagpole and its pennant flapping cheerfully in the breeze.

"Okay, so the Finnish flag is the other way round," concedes the Doctor.

"Failte gu Sealtainn," responds Amy smugly, skipping away.

"Actually Shetland never had a Gaelic tradition!" The Doctor calls after her.

"True but I'm not exactly fluent in Old Norse are you?" she calls back.

"Yes, actually," he mutters to her retreating back.

~

Rose liked a bit of devious plotting to go with her foiling of alien invasions but frankly all this cloak and dagger getting tedious. The bar was crowded, noisy and there were far too many elbows and beards for Rose's liking. Perhaps that was why the bloke in the bow tie stood out so much, he and the Doctor were practically the only two clean-shaven people in the place. Also he had the look of someone trying really hard to look innocuous, which always draws the eye. Rose noticed, with some irritation as she failed to get served for the third time, that his drinking companion was having far less issues navigating the elbows and getting served that she was. Her irritation lasted approximately as long as it took for the other girl to catch her eye, smile and point the barman in her direction. Rose was just starting to look forward to being thoroughly distracted by approximately three miles of legs and almost as much hair, when a scuffle broke out across the room.

Clearly the Doctor had spotted the 'trying-to-look-inconspicuous' gentleman and had felt the need to confront him. Now they were circling each other in the middle of the floor (no mean feat considering the crowd) and jabbing at each other with stools.

It took considerable effort, but eventually they both got their respective companions restrained. This evening was rapidly and depressingly descending into the type of Saturday night Rose had left Earth to avoid. The crowd was just beginning to get interested in a 'place your bets now' sort of way, when an unexpected Inverness accent cut through the rising hubbub.

"Hold on, don't I recognise that suit? Isn't that the suit you were wearing the night I met you. It's in better nick admittedly but still."

The other man looked decidedly uncomfortable. So did the Doctor. A horrible realisation dawned on Rose.

"Please tell me you did not try to hit your next incarnation with a stool." Said Rose without much hope of a comforting response.

"He didn't try he succeeded," protested the other man.

"There are RULES about not crossing your own timestream!"

"That's why I was trying to be subtle, though trying to clean up one of your messes subtly isn't easy, let me tell you!"

Clearly they could go on all night. Rose looked despairingly at Amy, who mouthed 'on three' at her. In perfect sync they clipped their respective Time Lords round the ears.

"Behave the pair of you!"

The man, the other Doctor, she supposed, sighed deeply, "Pond, this is Rose Tyler. Rose this is Amy Pond."

"Charmed I'm sure," said Amy as they reached round their respective Doctors to shake hands.

The resistance were rather pleased to discover they had two of the Doctor now. They were less pleased to discover they bickered constantly.

~

Amy and Rose stood on the edge of the smoky back room, watching the Doctors argue furiously and being roundly ignored by the rest of the conspirators.

"You know at times like this, I'm often tempted to sneak off and save the world on my own," confided Rose in a stage whisper, "but right now…"

"You'd rather sneak off for some fresh air and a bag of chips?" concluded Amy.

"God yes, shall we?"

"I spotted a place down by the harbour earlier."

"Lead the way then."

~

Rose and Amy stood side by side in the walled garden for a long moment staring up at the tree. It wasn't a particularly impressive specimen, but after a week of not seeing any plant life taller than three foot high it was a welcome sight. Rose hugged the tree; it looked lonely. She thought about explaining about meeting sentient, highly evolved trees at the end of the world but Amy didn't seemed inclined to give her odd looks as she was stroking the needles and talking to it softly. This particular tree might not be inclined to hug them back but it was certainly a long way from home.

"Is it me or is this…" began Rose.

"A Scot's Pine?" finished Amy. "I think someone wanted to hold onto a little bit of home, I imagine a pine cone would have been fairly easy to smuggle aboard when they left. Would keep well on the voyage too."

"Why would Scandinavians have Scots' pine cones? I know Norway and Sweden at least have got great swathes of evergreen forests, why wouldn't they bring one of their own?" queried Rose

"Same reason they've all got really random accents." Responded Amy.

"Random accents?"

"Come on, you're from a big city, you must have met more tourists from that part of the world than I have; we had some Norwegian nurses at the hospital and you know what I noticed about them? They spoke better English than the English. So why, does everyone in this town pepper their vocabulary with Doric words and phrases? Why do they all, in fact, sound like they're from…"

"Aberdeen." Said Rose, realisation dawning on her.

"Now we have three possibilities. One, they were all taught to speak English by an Aberdonian, unlikely but possible. Two, Norway claimed back the Shetland and Orkney isles some time in the intervening centuries and took them with them when they left," she paused to point at the distinctive blue and white flag above their heads, "as a semi-autonomous state. Or Three, Scotland joined Scandinavia and went with them. Less likely because I was previously told Scotland had or at least wanted their own ship."

"They didn't leave with the rest of Great Britain?"

"Nope," off Rose's expression Amy continued. "Oh you kept Wales and Northern Ireland don't sulk."

~

"I can't believe you lot run off and join Scandinavia."

"You lot get a space whale, stop whining."

~

Amy and Rose watched the twin suns rise over the harbour from the vantage point of a rather good facsimile of a broch. It was a beautiful, if undeniably alien, sight.

"So," said Amy as the silence began to drag, "definitely another planet then."

"Yup," said Rose.

"On which, for reasons as yet unclear, the inhabitants have recreated the Shetland Isles in loving detail."

"Probably a warmer version of the Shetland Isles," replied Rose, gesturing at the twin sunrise.

"You think they'll notice under all that wind?" asked Amy.

"Probably not." Said Rose with a sigh.

They stared at the sunrise some more.

"I feel a tad sacrilegious having just done that on an Iron Age monument," observed Rose.

"You shouldn't." Amy assured her. "Even if this really is an Iron Age broch, its been demolished and rebuilt thousands of light years from home by people who probably don't remember why they brought it with them anyway. Also broch's were forts. I can guarantee this fort has seen far worse sights than what we just did."

Rose contemplated that thought for a long moment. "Fancy doing it again then?"

"Thought you'd never ask," said Amy, before pushing her back into the grass and kissing her thoroughly.