After a delightful lunch, including a side dish of what Rose pronounced to be passable chips despite being purple, the three of the them set out to explore the alien exhibits in the museum. They had hours of carefree amusement trying out various strange and wonderful alien instruments, making dozens of recordings for themselves and for their guide to add to the museum’s archives.
They traveled from exhibit to exhibit with no particular pattern, just enjoying the intellectual curiosities on display and each other’s company in a situation where for once they were out of the TARDIS and yet not running for their lives.
Having found themselves back near the Earth exhibits later in the day, the TARDIS trio stood side by side in one of the long corridors and discussed their plans.
“We’ve a couple of hours left until the place closes for the day,” the Doctor reminded his human companions.
“We could come back tomorrow if we don’t see everything we want to today,” Rose said.
But Jack pointed out, “It’ll be packed full again tomorrow.”
“True,” Rose agreed.
“Is there anything either of you have a pressing desire to see?” the Doctor asked.
“I’d just love to poke around more,” Jack answered.
Rose nodded, but then said, “What about you, Doctor, is there anything you’d like to see?”
“Nothing else, no,” the Doctor shook his head.
As they spoke, their guide from before approached them and cleared his throat to gain their attention.
“Excuse me sirs and madam, but the Director would like to know if you would like to try our state of the art Telekinetic Waveform Extrapolator before you leave today,” he said.
“Extrapolator? Like that surfboard thing?” Rose asked.
“Similar name, different device,” the Doctor told her.
“What’s it do?” she wondered.
“I’ve heard of it,” Jack said. “It’s very expensive to build and maintain.”
“Indeed,” the guide agreed. “But you have given our archive so much invaluable material today, it is the least we can do in appreciation.”
“But what does it do?” Rose asked again.
“It uses telepathic fields to extrapolate the music of the user or users’ minds and translate it to physical waveforms,” the guide explained.
“It reads your mind and plays the music you think about,” the Doctor translated.
“Got that, I think,” Rose replied, having actually followed most of the guide’s sentence. “It gets in your head, yeah? Is it safe?”
“As houses,” the Doctor replied. “Would you like to try it?”
Both Rose and Jack nodded enthusiastically, and the Doctor told their guide to lead on.
The Telekinetic Waveform Extrapolator turned out to be a room. The walls, floor, and ceiling were ink black with yellow grids across them.
“This looks like a holodeck,” Rose observed as they stepped inside.
“You’re not too far off about that,” the Doctor told her.
“What’s a holodeck?” Jack asked.
“Twentieth century cultural reference, Mr. Spock,” Rose told him with a grin.
“I still don’t know who this Spock guy is,” Jack complained.
“Make a note, Doctor, our next vacation we sit Jack down and make him watch Star Trek,” Rose told the Doctor.
“Noted,” the Doctor replied with mock solemnity and a quirked eyebrow, causing Rose to giggle.
A voice came over the intercom and warned them that the program was loaded.
“We’re ready,” the Doctor replied.
The walls around them shimmered for a moment, and then settled back into the same yellow on black grids.
“Is that what’s supposed to happen?” Rose wondered.
“We have to tell it where we want to go,” Jack explained.
“Tell it how?” Rose asked.
“With your mind,” the Doctor replied. “It’s a telepathic extrapolator.”
Rose concentrated for a moment, and then the walls shimmered and their surroundings resolved themselves into Rose’s incredibly pink bedroom in her mum’s flat on Earth.
“Gosh, that’s pink!” Jack laughed.
“You can go anywhere, and you pick your own bedroom?” the Doctor asked her incredulously.
“How do you know what the inside of my bedroom at home looks like, then?” Rose replied in kind.
The Doctor looked panicked for a moment, and Jack quipped, “Oops!”
Rose couldn’t hold the glare, and wound up smiling brightly at him. They all chuckled.
“Here, let me try,” Jack said then, also concentrating.
This time the room turned into a Roman dining room, with decadent cushions and a full dinner spread.
Rose and the Doctor both laughed this time.
“What?” Jack said indignantly, before joining the laughter. “I really liked Pompeii.”
When they had calmed again, the Doctor spoke up to take a turn at picking their location. He wouldn’t meet their eyes, but rather studied his boots as he told them, “There’s somewhere I’d like to show you, if that’s alright.”
They nodded their encouragement, and the Doctor simply blinked slowly once. With a much smoother and delicately controlled transition, the Roman dining room melted away into a picturesque hillside with deep red grass, tall silver trees, and a burnt orange sky.
“It’s so pretty!” Rose breathed as she and Jack admired the scenery.
“I thought you’d like it,” the Doctor answered softly.
They both reached out to grab one of his hands again, stepping closer in a supportive gesture. The Doctor seemed unwilling to say it, but both Rose and Jack could make an educated guess where they were.
“So what do we do to make music in here?” Rose asked after a moment.
“Imagine the instrument you want,” Jack told her when the Doctor seemed unlikely to reply.
As he spoke, he closed his eyes in concentration and summoned into existence on the hillside a key synth like the one he’d shown her.
The Doctor squeezed both of their hands quickly before releasing them and lifting his own hands, suddenly holding a harp identical to the one he’d played before lunch.
“Okay…” Rose said, closing her own eyes to concentrate for a moment.
A familiar weight blinked into being in her outstretched hand, and she opened her eyes again to see her fingers closing around her old recorder.
“A recorder?” the Doctor asked, his curiosity finally drawing his mind away from his memories.
Rose nodded. “We had to learn it for one year in school. I really liked it, and I’d wanted to do flute the next year. But we couldn’t afford to even rent one, money was so tight then. So I kept up with the recorder, saved my pennies and bought a few books to learn from at home. I stopped a few years later. Dunno why.”
She lifted the instrument to her lips and tried to play a little song she remembered from one of her method books. She’d enjoyed it at the time, and had memorized it. After a few false starts and experimental tooting, she played it once through.
“I always wanted to buy a better one,” she told them when she’d finished. “But I didn’t have the money then, and later on I lost interest.”
“I didn’t know you played at all,” Jack said.
“I didn’t know you did, either,” Rose replied. “And neither of us knew that you did, Doctor.”
“It never really came up in conversation as we were running for our lives,” the Doctor said with wry amusement, though his companions got the impression that he hadn’t thought about it himself for years. “I used to play penny whistle, you know.”
“Really?” Rose asked, interested.
“Ages ago,” the Doctor replied. “But if you always wanted a better recorder, why not imagine it now?”
“I can do that?” she asked.
“Sure, as long as you have a clear idea of how it looks and sounds,” Jack replied.
“There was this really expensive, fancy Celtic recorder I desperately wanted but knew I’d never be able to afford…” she said as she closed her eyes to concentrate again.
Her familiar plastic school recorder disappeared and was replaced by a heavier and larger wooden recorder.
“It’s beautiful,” she said, cradling it. “But it’s different, I don’t know how to play it.”
“It’s not a real instrument, you don’t actually play it with your hands. You play it with your mind,” Jack explained.
“Just feel the music and let the extrapolator do the rest,” the Doctor added, resting his harp on the edge of Jack’s key synth and poising his hands near the strings. “When we play together you’ll be able to see our perceptions of the music as well as your own, and manipulate your part of the whole with your mind.”
“I’ve never done this before, either,” Jack reassured her when he saw that she still looked nervous. “It’s supposed to work effortlessly without any training at all.”
“Okay, let’s try this, then,” Rose said, taking a deep breath and bringing the Celtic recorder to her lips.
The Doctor nodded, and began playing.
Instantly, Rose and Jack were aware of the Doctor’s perception of the music. In his mind’s eye, the Time Lord saw himself crafting waveforms and equations, the building blocks of sound and telepathic communication.
Rose found herself replying through her recorder after the Doctor’s first six notes, without conscious thought. Even though she couldn’t consciously follow the details of the Doctor’s perception of the music, the music itself was clear in her own mind.
Now the others could both feel Rose’s interpretation as well as the Doctor’s waves and equations. Rose saw herself dancing with the Doctor across the hilltop.
Again the Doctor played a series of six notes, and again Rose answered him on her recorder. He played a similar set of six notes once more, and then began building the music, pushing it higher and inviting both of his companions to join him.
They both took his invitation, joining in the pattern he created. Jack’s metaphor for their collaboration and music was added to Rose and the Doctor’s as he began to use the key synth as an entire percussion section.
The Doctor’s image now included all three of them crafting complicated equations and auditory interactions, while Rose’s interpretation grew to show the three of them dancing around each other. In Jack’s visualization, the three of them were locked in a passionate embrace in the thick grass, wrapped up in each other and in making love to each other.
It was communication on a level deeper than Rose had ever experienced before. Mind to mind, and what felt like soul to soul, as they each contributed equally to the musical expressions they were building.
Through the power of the telepathic extrapolator, each of the three could experience and understand the perceptions of the other two even if they might not have in any other context. Rose could watch the Doctor’s equations and feel like she somehow knew what they meant, where they would be meaningless squiggles to her if she’d seen them on paper. The Doctor could experience Jack’s idea of all three of them making love simultaneously without the gut reaction he would have had in reality to tell him that it was somehow a very bad idea. And Jack could see how much the dancing Rose had done with him and the Doctor had really meant to her.
It was intricate and exciting, soothing and simple all at once. It seemed to go on for an eternity, and yet only last a moment. It was perfect harmony, musically and emotionally, no secrets or misunderstandings between them.
The Telekinetic Waveform Extrapolator took their telepathic signals and extrapolated them into music, using the sounds their minds created with their virtual instruments to build a concert quality performance none of them would have been able to play in reality without hours of practice together.
When it felt right to end it, they let the music fade slowly and allowed themselves to pull back into their separate perceptions of the reality, and the virtual reality environment, around them.
When it was over, and they opened their eyes again, they found that their imaginary instruments had long since disappeared and they were standing in a close three way hug on the hilltop.
They continued to hold each other silently for a long moment, trying to ease the ache they each felt at the loss of their intimate mental connection.
Finally, the Doctor pulled away with a sigh, allowing the hilltop to fade and be replaced by the black room with the yellow gridding on the walls.
Still keeping relatively close to each other, they stepped back out into the hallway.
They were met by an awed crowd of museum employees and even a few visitors who had gathered in a hushed mob to listen to their music. They recognized their guide standing in the front, next to a man the Doctor recognized as the Director.
The Director stepped forward to shake each of their hands enthusiastically and present each of them with another of the small record tabs.
“Thank you all so much,” he said to them. “I have never seen anyone use the Telekinetic Waveform Extrapolator with such natural unity and intricate balance, you three must be very close. It was a true joy to listen to. We can never repay you for the wealth of music and knowledge you have given us this day.”
“Thank you,” Jack replied, the first of the three to find his voice again. “I think the experience we just had was worth all the music and knowledge we could ever give you, and then some.”
“All three of you are welcome here always,” the Director assured them. “And if you stop by the information desk before you leave tonight, we have one final gift for you all.”
“Thank you again,” Rose told him.
He nodded in reply with a warm smile before turning and ushering the crowd away.
After the crowd had dispersed, the TARDIS trio wandered their way through a final hour of exploration in the museum. They were less energetic than they had been, less focused on the various strange alien exhibits, and more in tune with each other.
When an announcement was played across the speaker system that the museum would be closing soon, they leisurely strolled back towards the front of the building once again arm in arm.
They were one of the last groups to leave, and they stopped at the information desk as the Director had asked them to.
He was there waiting for them, along with the man who had acted as their guide and a few other museum employees. There were three dark colored cases of varying sizes sitting on the desk.
“I’d just like to thank you again for all you’ve given us today,” the Director said, lifting the cases one by one and passing them to Rose, Jack, and the Doctor. “These replicas were created this afternoon specifically for you.”
Rose took a peek inside hers, by far the smallest, and nearly squealed in delight when she saw what it was.
“It’s the Celtic recorder, just as I imagined it! Thank you!” she said, beaming at the Director.
“And mine’s a key synth, just like the one I used to have as a kid,” Jack added, having put his case on the floor and popped it open to look inside. “This is great!”
The Doctor just cradled his case against his chest, wrapping his leather clad arms around its obviously harp shaped form.
“Thank you,” he said quietly to the Director.
“Again, the pleasure was ours,” the Director replied. “You have given us so much, it is the least we can do in return. Sadly, we must now close the museum for the day. But I welcome all three of you to visit us again! Until then, fare well, all of you.”
“Good bye,” Rose called, following Jack and the Doctor as the Director led them towards the door.
“Thank you again!” Jack added, waving back at the Director, their guide, and the others they’d met in the museum as they left.
In his estimation, with which Rose and the Doctor each completely agreed, their friends in the museum had given them so much more than the entire contents of the TARDIS’s music databanks was possibly worth.