They’d been invited to the Torchwood Hallowe’en party in Cardiff! Rose really wanted to go but the Doctor had dug in his heels with some rubbish about ‘dressing up for Halloween being an assault on Time Lord dignity’.
Facing him in the console room Rose wanted to figure out what was up with him. After all, it was a couple hours with friends at a dress up party! It would be fun! Rose didn’t get to see her friends at Torchwood often and she missed them. Nor did she get to see her friends from the estates very often. When you travel with the Doctor through time and space it’s hard to maintain friendships, not just because you don’t see them as often, but mostly because, as painful as it was to admit, she’d outgrown them. Their lives had taken different paths and she no longer had much in common with them. She didn’t have many friends who understood her life.
“Why don’t you want to go Doctor? she asked with an unmistakeable cajoling lilt to her voice. “Jack and the gang are going to all be there and you could refuel the TARDIS while we’re in Cardiff, plus it’ll be fun. Jack knows how to throw a party yeah? I bet it’ll be bonkers. I can’t wait to see their costumes. Gwen and her husband Rhys will be there and Toshiko Sato and of course, Ianto Jones. Why don’t you want to go?” she asked again, still cajoling.
“You know my view of Torchwood,” the Doctor grumbled. “Besides, it’s daft dressing up as ghouls and monsters. I have enough monsters to deal with thank you very much!” he growled slapping more console controls for no apparent reason.
Following him around the console trying to get him to stop and talk to her, Rose maintained a reasonable tone explaining, “That’s not fair Doctor and you know it. Jack has given proper leadership to that team in Torchwood. They’re doing good work and they don’t just kill alien visitors and steal their tech like other Torchwood outfits do. They think about cultural exchanges, ya know, trying to build trust for the future and all that diplomatic stuff.” Rose was really working on him because she wanted him to go with her and thought he would enjoy himself. Besides, if something happened to her, she didn’t want him to be alone. She wanted him to have friends that would be there for him.
“Also,” she continued, “you’d have fun! You know how they all gather around you, admiring you and hoping for your wisdom ‘n all. And you could go as a very swish character.”
He didn’t respond, suddenly out maneuvering her by bending down and slipping under the console which she knew was his way of hiding, not to mention, bringing the matter to a close which meant they would not be going. But Rose was not ready to let the matter drop.
“Why are you being such a stick-in-the-mud anyway?” she asked, looking under the console at him suspiciously. “You haven’t seen Jack in ages and he’s always there when you need him, plus he didn’t even blame you for the game station once you explained. It would be churlish if we didn’t go since they went out of their way to invite us.”
Watching the Doctor scowling and attempting to do something with wires under the console, Rose didn’t think her reasoning was making any headway. She decided to pull out the big guns.
“Besides,” she said, “you don’t have to go as a monster or ghoul ya know. There are several excellent costume choices the TARDIS put out for you and I think you’d look very handsome in several of them,” she said nonchalantly, hoping the flattery would work.
“What costumes?” he asked suddenly interested.
“Well, there’s a Luke Skywalker costume,” she said hopefully, only to be rebuffed by the Doctor’s derisive snort which came coincident with a sharp spark of rebuke from his ship causing him to suck his fingers in between mumbling curses in Gallifreyan.
“But Doctor, it’s quite authentic with a long over coat and a proper laser sword!” Rose knew that whenever they watched Star Wars, the Doctor spent more time laughing out loud than watching the movie. Plus it infuriated him whenever Darth Vader used telepathy inappropriately. Yet he loved Harry Potter!
Sighing, Rose floated another idea. “Well, what about the costume of a real swashbuckler, Hans Solo?” She asked trying to infuse enthusiasm into her suggestion.
“Rose,” the Doctor said rolling his eyes, “do you really think I’d wear a costume that has a blaster, a gun strapped to my thigh?”
Although he couldn’t see it, Rose’s shoulders drooped in disappointment. “No, I suppose not,” she sighed with an air of defeat. “Okay then, I’ll admit that was a dumb one. I mean, in real life, whose more swashbuckling than you?”
“Really?” the Doctor asked, feeling chuff that Rose thought he was swashbuckling. He was pretty sure Earth women liked swashbucklers.
“Yeah, ‘course Doctor. You’re always rescuing people in dashing and brilliant ways,” she said absentmindedly trying to think of things she could say to entice him to go.
With the reassuring sound of the central column pumping slowly up and down behind her, Rose mustered up enough enthusiasm to make another offer, “How about a swashbuckling Badlands Gambler outfit? It has a very neat waistcoat and a rakish top hat. You’re very fit Doctor and this costume would really show that off!”
“No, no, nope!” the Doctor stated emphatically, secretly thrilled Rose thought he was fit.
“Why not?” Rose asked coming very close to whining in frustration.
“Rose,” he said, as though stating the obvious, “everyone knows that Badlands Gamblers carry Derringers to shoot fellow gamblers under the table in their tender bits! I do not carry a gun!”
Leaning under the console, her irritation clear on her face, she grit her teeth and informed him, “Ya do know the blaster and derringer are not real right?”
“That just makes the costumes daft AND inauthentic!” he sniffed. But he was starting to notice that this party seemed important to Rose and he could tell he had turned her enthusiasm into frustration.
Struggling to put her annoyance aside, she placed her last option on the table. “What about the dashing Count costume? It’s both authentic and very swish. You’d look good in it!”
The Doctor didn’t answer and Rose gave up. She pulled herself up. She’d just have to go by herself AND make excuses for him so as to spare Jack’s feelings. “Very well, if you don’t wanna go, I’ll go alone and you can drop me off.”
To her surprise the Doctor had a question. “What are you going to wear?” he asked.
“I am goin’ as a Genie like in Aladdin’s Lamp,” she grumbled, frustrated with his attitude.
Seeing visions of Rose with a bare midriff, in low-on-her-hips harem pants and a skimpy bra and Jack Harkness ogling her the Doctor sat up quickly hitting his forehead on the undercarriage of the console. Rubbing the sore spot he blurted out, “Even though I’m a Lord already, I’ll take a demotion and go as a Count, the Dashing Count!”
For crying out loud Rose thought, why didn’t I mention my outfit in the first place! Just for fun she asked, “What changed your mind Doctor?”
Continuing to rub the goose egg on his forehead and knowing he couldn’t let Rose know the real reason he’d changed his mind, he put on a newly chipper voice and said, “They have a pterodactyl there I’d like to see again!”
“You’re bonkers Doctor!” she said thinking he was also less than truthful about his real reasons for not wanting to go.
“Am not Rose Tyler. I am, however, a scientist! What scientist doesn’t want to see a real pterodactyl?” he sniffed.
You’re a pillock is what you are Rose thought to herself, pasting a broad smile on her face as he finally crawled out from under the console.
He stepped in front of her and cupped her cheeks asking, “Now Rose, why don’t you tell me the real reason this is so important to you hmm?” He wanted her to know what she had to say was important to him.
Looking up at him she saw in his inquisitive eyes his concern for her. “It’s just that my friends from the estate, well, we just don’t have that much in common anymore, ya know? And, Jack and his crew, well, they share common experiences. And they’re friends too. And I miss having downtime, fun times with friends.”
“Oh Rose,” the Doctor sighed, feeling bad he hadn’t figured this out. She was lonely for friends and community. She’d been cut off from her friends and now she only had her Mum and him. He’d been selfish, afraid of sharing her incase...incase she found something better than him. He’d been a proper git thinking only of himself and not of her, “I am sorry Rose. Have I monopolized your time?”
Hurrying to clarify, Rose put her hands on his chest. “It’s not that Doctor, not that at all. I love spending my time with you and that’s why I wanted you to come too. It’s just me wanting the company of friends to share stories, to catch up and share laughs when we’re not under fire. Ya have to make those connections when you can because ya never know what will happen. We need to make time for our friends and we need to share their lives when we can too.”
Staring at her in awe he gave her a dazzling smile. “All right then Rose Tyler, a Halloween party it is,” the Doctor said his eyes twinkling down at her.
Grabbing her hand and tugging her towards the corridor he kept up his ruse by wrinkling his nose in distaste and saying, “Let’s have a look at the costumes, shall we?” He had pronounced ‘costumes’ with significant disdain but Rose let it pass not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth and she knew he was going to make her happy.
He decided it would be miserly of him to go to this party and sulk. No, if he was going to help Rose he needed to show enthusiasm and throw himself into things with gusto. So when they got to Rose’s room he grabbed up the dashing Count costume, announced he was off to shower and change and swept out of the room calling over his shoulder for Rose to be ready to go in one hour.
“Fat chance Time Lord,” she yelled down the corridor after him, “I need an hour and a half!”
“I’ll believe that when I see it,” he muttered, “more like two l’d say.”
But he was happy to be going now because he had made Rose bubble with enthusiasm and he enjoyed making her happy. Plus maybe the costume wasn’t so bad and Rose thought he would look good in it. After all she thought he was fit! Plus Rose would never be ready in an hour so now he would have extra time to get his hair just right for her. He was going to aim for a rakish, dashing Count look!
When they met later in the console room the Doctor found he was actually nervous as Rose circled him looking him up and down. He wore an embroidered silk cutaway waist coat, long in the back, with a complementing vest and a brilliant white, high colored shirt. He wore fine and soft leather breeches which buckled tightly at the knees holding long, white, silk knit stockings in place.
“Well?” he prompted.
“Very nice,” she announced.
“Nice? Just nice?” he asked, his disappointment obvious.
By now she was back in front of him, smiling up at his face. “You look handsome Doctor,” she purred up at him. Very handsome, l’d say,” she finished.
“So what’s with the ‘nice’?” he teased.
With her tongue touched smile she teased back, “Well...you’re missing part of your costume...the top hat! It would make you look even taller. ”
He frowned. “But Rose, it would mess up my hair! Didn’t you notice I styled it for y..errr...to go with my costume?”
“I noticed Doctor. You look rakishly handsome with the way you styled it. I like it!”
“Good. That’s exactly what I was aiming for so I’m not wearing the hat. Thank you Rose.”
He grabbed her into a tight hug and in so doing felt the material of her costume chastising himself yet again. He’d been so nervous what she thought about his costume he hadn’t even looked at hers.
Taking her by the shoulders and holding her out, he apologized, “Rose, I’m a selfish git! I have not yet looked at your costume! Let me see! Ohhh Rose you look lovely!” he pronounced looking her up and down and confirming his worst fears. She was wearing more or less what he’d imagined and, if anything, less than he’d imagined. Over her shoulder he spied a gossamer shawl on the console bench that was part of her wrap-around flimsy stuff and got an idea.
“You know Rose, it can get quite chilly in the Torchwood hub but luckily I have just the solution,” he offered, snatching up her shawl, bunching it up to make it opaque then wrapping it around her neck, crisscrossing it over her front, effectively covering her, and tucking the tails into the wide beaded belt at her hips.
Of course this left her back mostly bare and therefore what he’d done was useless to protect her from the apparently freezing hub. But Rose knew exactly what he was doing and she laughed inside but she was pleased too. She grabbed his hand, “Thanks Doctor. It’s much better. So time to get us there then yeah?”