The Doctor grinned as he practically bounced around the TARDIS console, pulling levers and turning dials. “Almost there, Rose! Farther back than you’ve ever been before!”
Rose grinned from the jump seat. “How far, Doctor?”
He gave that excited, manic laugh of his. “Wait until you see it! Oh, it’ll be brilliant!” Rose laughed. He didn’t answer her question, but she hadn’t expected him to. He loved to surprise her.
The ship landed with a bone-jarring thunk that tossed the Doctor onto the seat beside her, where he grinned before leaping to his feet. “Here we go!” He grabbed his coat in one hand, and her hand with the other, then pulled her with him to the door. They were both laughing as they stepped out and a fairly cold wind whipped across the grassy plain.
“Oh! Cold!” Rose laughed, hugging herself in response to the chill. “Where are we? Scotland again?”
The Doctor grinned. “Nope. Not anywhere, really. Not yet. No one’s thought to name anything yet.” In the distance, there was some animal call that sounded strangely like the brass section of a marching band.
Rose blinked in confusion. “Elephants?” She turned and walked away from him, pulling her coat tighter around her shoulders as she walked around the TARDIS. When she reached the other side though, she froze, staring in awe at the sight that greeted her.
Open plains as far as the eye could see, with mountains barely butting up in the background. But it wasn’t the amazing view, or the chill wind that stole her breath away – it was the group of animals coming toward them. Their tusks were massive and curved back toward their brown, shaggy-furred faces. Trunks raised and the trumpeting sound she’d heard earlier was made louder when the wind shifted direction. As the animals came closer, their sheer size became apparent as well, showing why their name had become a synonym for “massive.” Rose’s mouth dropped open and she covered it with her hands. These… they were…
“Mammoths!” The Doctor said with a grin, walking up next to his companion and slipping an arm around her shoulders. “Woolly Mammoths, to be exact. Of the Steppe variety.” She was laughing with delight now at the sight of the living versions of the skeletal creature they had encountered just the previous night. “Rose Tyler, welcome to the Pleistocene. Also known as the ice age. That’s a bit of a misnomer, though, considering that your planet experienced many ice ages over its long existence, and this was only the one most recent to the birth of humanity. I suppose that’s why it stood-” He was cut off on his diatribe by a gentle touch over his mouth.
Rose grinned up at him, two fingers covering his lips. She wanted to hear everything he had to say about these beautiful creatures, this incredible time that she was becoming the first modern human ever to see. But not now. Now, she just wanted to watch them. She took her fingers away from his lips and wrapped her arms around his waist, snuggling into his side as they watched the parade of mammoths pass by. The Doctor’s arm tightened around Rose and she smiled. In her mind’s eye, she ventured back to the museum they’d visited the night before and back to the mammoth skeleton, eternally trumpeting to the sky. She smiled as she realized the real purpose of displays like that – no human before her would ever witness these creatures alive… but there wasn’t a single one on the planet who would ever forget them.