Chapter Seven

"So anyway we had finished dancing and decided to go somewhere and talk," the Doctor said, putting his hands behind his head while he stared up at the ceiling. "Arella asked me if I wanted to go outside for a bit so we walked towards the door and while we were walking, I caught sight of Koschei standing at the back. He had this angry look on his face but I didn't think anything about it beyond his just being jealous that I had a date for the dance and he didn't. So I ignored him and we went outside…"


The air was slightly chilly and Merzet was now grateful for the warmth the robes provided. While Arella led him to a fountain in the center of campus, Merzet glanced up at the comet blazing high above them. He let out a soft sigh, wishing he was traveling up among the stars instead of being stuck at the Academy. When they reached the fountain, Arella stopped and stared at it. It had been dedicated to the Academy centuries before in honor of Rassilon. It was made of a metal that could never rust so it gleamed in the light of the moons. The fountain was a small circular pool that had several jets of water going up around a silver statue of Rassilon. He stood there in his formal robes holding a book in one hand and a representation of a black hole in the other. The statue was supposed to show his role in creating time travel by harnessing black holes and putting them in TARDISes but Merzet thought it made Rassilon look like a pompous old fart. He silently vowed never to become a self-important twit like him while he stared at the statue.

"It's a lovely night, isn't it?" Arella said, turning to him.

"Yes, yes, it is," Merzet said with a nod.

"So, what is this big secret of yours?" Arella said.

"I'm sorry?"

"Show me what you're afraid to show me. What are you hiding that makes you so different from everyone else."

"Um…I'd rather not show you in public. It's on my stomach," Merzet said.

"Is it a strange growth or something?"

"Well, I wouldn't call it a growth. More like an absence."

"Hmm, well is there somewhere quiet we can go so I can have a dekko at your strange absence?"

"I'm not sure. The classrooms are shut and the campus is shut down except for the auditorium and I'm not showing it to you there."

"Then come with me," Arella said, taking his hand.

"Arella, I'd rather not."

"Come on, Merzet, trust me. I haven't fled in terror from you yet, have I?"

"No, but you don't really know me."

"Then let me get to know you," Arella said. "Rassilon's robe, Merzet, I don't think you're a freak, alright? You're not some weird outcast to me. I wouldn't have asked you to the dance if I thought that so will you please stop being so self-conscious and shy? Just trust me!"

Merzet nodded and Arella took his hand. As they walked, Merzet glanced back and narrowed his eyes when he saw Koschei was following them at a distance. He sighed angrily thought his nose knowing that there would probably be a confrontation when he got back to the dormitory. But for the moment he turned his attention back to Arella. Even though she was dressed in full Time Lady regalia, he still thought she looked beautiful as the moons shown down on her face. He noticed, however, that she was leading him off into a section of campus that had a small path surrounded by trees and flowers. It had been put there as a nature trail for the students and Arella was now leading him inside the forest. Once inside the shelter of the trees, she led him off the path to several large trees. She looked around to make sure they were alone before stepping back from him.

"Okay, show me this absence," she said to him.

The Doctor looked around, half expecting Koschei to jump out at them. He didn't see him and he sighed as he pulled up his robes to just above his navel. Arella took a step back when she saw it.

"My God, what is it?" she said.

"I think it's called a navel," the Doctor said, dropping his robes.

"What does it do?" Arella said.

Merzet told her what navels did based on his studies of humans and Earth culture. Arella gave him an odd look.

"So how did you end up with this navel if you were loomed like everyone else?" she said when he finished his explanation. "You're not an ape."

"I know I'm not an ape and I have no idea how I got it but people have shied away from me my whole life because of it."

Merzet was confused when Arella started laughing.

"What's so funny?" he said angrily.

"Other people's reaction. They're scared of a little indentation in your stomach and made you a pariah because of it. Oh Rassilon, sometimes I wonder at the intelligence level of the people on this planet. Oh no, he has a hole in his stomach, run for the hills, he's a freak and needs to be burned at the state or disintegrated!"

"I agree with you about that," the Doctor said. "I never understood why people were so freaked out by it."

Lift your robe again," Arella said, pointing upwards.

"Why?" Merzet said, giving her a wary look.

"Just do it!"

Merzet raised his robe again and was shocked when Arella came close to him. His hearts raced when she put her hand on his stomach next to the navel and then slowly put her finger into it.

"I don't feel your guts," she said with a shrug. "It's just a tiny indentation on your stomach, big bloody deal. Stupid fools, shunning you because of that. I like it, to be honest. No one else has it and that makes you unique."

She took her finger out and ran it around the rim of the navel while Merzet's hearts beat like crazy. Then she lifted her fingers to his cheek and laid them there while she stared at his face.

"I hate those people that made you feel like shite all these years," she said. "You're unique and brilliant and intelligent and the navel thing makes you stand out and…you're handsome."

Before he could do anything, Arella kissed his mouth and drew close to him. Merzet felt his body warming all over and he felt his arms embrace her as he returned the kiss. Time seemed to stand still for him and he forgot everything except Arella.


"Hey! I gave him his first kiss! I'm made of awesome!" Rose said, pumping her fist in the air.

"So, I s'pose your stalker mate jumped out of the shadows and punched you in the face while you were kissing your future wife?" Jackie said.

"Well, it wasn't during the kiss but yes, we were standing there and…"


Merzet was stunned when she pulled her lips away. He tried to speak but he found he couldn't form any words. All he saw was the moonlight hitting her face through the trees, making her look even more stunning. Arella gave him an amused look when he stood there, stone silent.

"Wow, I didn't know I was that good a kisser," she quipped.

"I…I…that was amazing," Merzet finally got out.

"Well, you're amazing," Arella said, putting her hand on the side of his face. "You're not like anyone I've ever met. You're sweet and funny and your shyness is very endearing. It's better than being a pompous arse who's only out for sex."


"Yes?" Arella said.

Merzet leaned in and hesitated just before his lips reached hers. Arella chuckled and completed the kiss.


"You notice how I was the dominant one back then?" Rose said to her mother. "Nowadays it's all listen to me and do exactly as I say but apparently back then, I was the one wearing the trousers in this relationship!"

"Now wait just a moment!" the Doctor said while she chortled. "Just because I'd never kissed before didn't mean I wasn't dominant in other areas. I am a very dominant person."

"And I was the one that made him pull up the robe so I could have a look. See, I knew how to get the boy to do what I wanted," Rose said.

"I'm surprised you didn't pull out a camera and take a photo of it," Jackie said.

"Thank you! Yes, I'm surprised as well, knowing you as I do now. You must have shown some great restraint in not documenting my deformity!" the Doctor said to Rose.

"I was too busy kissing ya and besides, I probably wanted to keep the deformity for myself," Rose said with a shrug. "It was my special little navel, all for me."

"And let's just get one thing clear here," Jackie said. "You keep talking about the stupid apes and our backward ways but somehow you landed up with something we have that you lot aren't s'posed to have? And you still think you're superior to us?"

"Your species isn't the only ones who have navels, Jackie," the Doctor said. "And I never said I was superior to you!"

"HA!" Rose barked out. "Oh, that's rich! You say that about a zillion times a day!"

"I do not!" the Doctor said while Rose bent over laughing.

"No, Rose, he doesn't have to say it, he has it on a voice recorder somewhere and he just whips it out and plays it over and over when he's flying that TARDIS of his."

"Bloody hell, it's badger the Doctor day!" the Doctor said while Rose nodded her head rapidly. "I start off telling a nice story and now it's turned into take the piss out of the Time Lord. I think I'll leave!"

"You do and I'll go to the BBC and tell them an alien with a navel is invading England!" Rose said, pointing to him.

The Doctor raised his eyebrow while she continued to giggle.

"You wouldn't," he said, deciding to join in the teasing. "In fact, I wouldn't because if you do, I'll buy a loudhailer and get on a bus and yell to London that an alien with a navel is dating a chav and I'll charge a quid for any schmoe to come and see her."

"You wouldn't," Rose said with mock defiance.

"Oh? Wanna bet, Chav-a-roo? Actually, Chav-a-roo and mother," the Doctor said. "Perhaps I can find you a nice chav boy and you can make chav babies and live in a chav house in Chav-ville and have your own little chav world!"

"Then I'll call…um…Area 54 and tell them an alien is…being a twat and England needs to be rid of him," Rose said.

"it's Area 51, brainiac, not 54," the Doctor said smugly. "And if anyone is a twat, it's you, Twatzilla."

"Area 54 is where they put the twat aliens, so I was right all along," Rose said smugly. "Area 51 is for the non-twat aliens, so there!"

"Then I s'pose Area 57 is for chav women with their chavvy blonde highlights and track suits?" the Doctor countered. "And would they be putting your chavvy bum in the Burberry suite of Area 57 along with the other chavs so they can study you?"

They giggled when Jackie cleared her throat loudly.

"Can we get back to your story now and stop the chav jokes?" she said.

"I'm just trying to defend myself from the chav here," the Doctor said, pointing to Rose.

"He's jealous because I'm made of awesome and he's not," Rose said.

"Oh yes, I'm soooo jealous of Chav Chav the Wonder Bra here," the Doctor said, hooking his thumb back at Rose while she laughed. "She's just stunning in her chavness that I can't just compete."

The Doctor's eyes widened when Rose suddenly leapt up and ran her fingers rapidly through his tousle until his hair spewed in every direction.

"So there!" she said when she finished with the hair mussing and plopped back down on the sofa.

"Um…okay…" the Doctor murmured while Rose giggled hysterically. "Not quite sure what that was about but I hope you got it out of your system before you completely lose your mind and shear me like a sheep or something."

"Hmm, cut your hair and take it as a trophy? Why not?" Rose said.

"Could you please let him tell the story?" Jackie said in exasperation. "And do this teasing on your own time. I don't wanna sit here all bloomin' night listening to this story of his."

"Sorry, mum," Rose said. "We'll stop now."

"Hmmm, apparently Jackie is the one who wears the trousers in this life, eh Miss Dominant?" the Doctor said.

"Yeah and she dominates you too, Merzy, so I'd shut my gob before you get a slap."

"Just shut it and tell the bleedin' story!" Jackie said when the Doctor opened his mouth for a retort.

"Very well," the Doctor said, ignoring Rose who was sticking her tongue out at him. "Well…let's see, we were kissing in the forest and suddenly Koschei shows up on the scene and interrupts us."

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