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New Fic: Penelope's Web (Doctor Who)

Title: Penelope's Web
Author: Aenaria/io_aenaria
Character/Pairing: Rose Tyler, Gemma Tyler, and the Doctor in mentions
Rating: PG
Summary: She's not patient, not going to sit at home and wait. She'll find him. A Sonnets ficlet.
Disclaimer: You know, I've answered this question so many times over the years, and the answer never changes...
Author's Notes: So this whole ficlet idea actually started with a 'scientific' experiment conducted with the song 'The Stowaway'. I decided to play the song for a friend of mine to see what she thought of the lyrics. My friend is familiar with Doctor Who (the amount that Paige and I talk about it, she's had to have picked up something by now), but not to the extent of knowing where the song came from. After I played it, her first thoughts were of "Odysseus thinking about Penelope while on Calypso's island" - which made me squeal with glee and then break down and tell her exactly where the song came from, because it gives me hope for an eventual on-screen reunion. Yeah, I'm such a nerd. Anyways! This story then came out of that, after my brain ended up transposing Rose's point of view on the chorus of the song because in my screwed up head, it worked with my story universe. Hence, ficlet was born. It actually slots somewhere in the next story that I'm working on for this universe (which now finally has a set outline, thank all the Gods), but I like it as it stands on its own. As always, prior knowledge of the Sonnets world is necessary, all of which can be found through the tags on my livejournal.

As always, thanks to Paige for the read-through and to everyone else for reading. I hope you like it!



Penelope’s Web
by Aenaria


Rose sighs and pushes some hair out of her eyes. The gauzy piece of fabric has done an admirable job of keeping her hair out of the way, but a strip of tattered ribbon is not perfect and eventually hair begins to slide out. It’ll do for now though. They have a special event to go to this night, and so Rose works fast while the little girl is in the bath, making sure everything with this frock of Gemma’s is perfect.

She watches with concentration as she makes the needle and thread weave in and out of the satiny pink fabric of Gemma’s dress. There was an incident the night before that had to do with the shock of seeing a Stargazy pie for the first time, the fish head that poked through the crust glaring at her with beady and cloudy eyes, which led to a dropped fork that tore a two inch hole in the upper layer of the skirt. Her little sister wore this dress on the day they crossed over into her home universe, almost five long months ago, and has worn it countless times since. Such frequent wear takes its toll on the fabric, leaving Rose to pick up the pieces and sew them back together. She offered to buy Gemma a new outfit, they could easily afford a new dress for her, but every time she asks the little girl shakes her head vehemently, saying that this dress is her favorite and she won’t give it up. And so every time it rips or tears or gets snagged on an accidentally vicious keep left sign Rose takes the dress after Gemma gets into her pajamas and sews up the rips and seals up the seams so that the pink concoction looks as good as new.

In and out, in and out the pink thread moves, blending in with the fabric as it’s guided by the sharp flash of the needle. Almost done, at least for this time. Rose glances out the window, and she can see the soft multi-colored glow over the rooftops and peeking through the gaps between houses. Mousehole, Cornwall goes all out on their illuminations every year, and it’s been a treat to see them every night from their B&B window. This night is Christmas Eve though, and they’re going to go down to the harbor, listen to the carolers, and see the lights shine brightly as they welcome Christmas. She can hear Christmas music off in the distance, possibly echoing from somewhere across time, but more likely coming from the dining room downstairs.

As she sews, sitting on the bed of this room that is all soft floral prints and old-fashioned wood furnishings, she can’t help but feel a little bit like a modern day Penelope, sewing and unraveling so many days while waiting for Odysseus to come home. Once upon a time she’d sympathized with the woman, waiting at home and protecting her family, unraveling the death shroud every night to buy them time, while her partner was off adventuring and saving people and getting lost, with most of the world believing he was dead. But now…

Rose knots off the last stitch and moves over to the window, resting a palm on the cool glass. She can see the Gallifreyan ‘run’ transcribed on her wrist, highlighted by the glimmer of the Christmas lights – she makes sure to keep that mark constantly visible for everyone to see it, and to remind her of what she ran away from long ago and what she’s running back to. And that’s really it, isn’t it?

She’s no Penelope, not content to wait at home until he comes walking back in through the door and sweeps her away again. Rose can see the similarities between herself and the other woman; they would both do anything at all possible to protect the ones that they love from harm, to the point where they would screw over the Gods of Fate and Time if necessary -

(a vague vision of gold light and of ancient songs and burning like the sun flashes in her head, but it doesn’t make sense to her, at least not yet. It’s something so incredibly important, she knows, and the meaning will come with time)

- but Rose knows she is more than those. She is an adventurer in her own right, a skilled and semi-wise (wise enough to realize she doesn’t really know anything) woman, the valiant child – no, valiant woman now - who is able to keep a long dead planet alive in memory by the words on her skin. She’s an older sister to a little girl a universe away from everything she knows and the child of dead parents who loved her so, so much. She is the lover of a Time Lord who showed her the wonders of the universe, and she showed him that even though it hurts the soul like all hell, that he is worthy to love others and to be loved for himself. And she is not patient, not content to wait for something that hinges on sheer chance.

That’s why for the past five months they’ve been playing a game, Rose knows. She spins the TARDIS key on a map of the world, focusing all of her energy on her memories and feelings for the Doctor, and then they travel to where the key points. It’s not the best of plans, but it’s all they have to go by. It keeps them traveling, keeps her searching, and Rose is content with that. Because she’s not Penelope sitting at home and waiting.

“Beg, borrow, or steal…” Rose whispers, staring up at the night sky yellowed by the reflection of Christmas lights on clouds, “I will find you. I’m coming home.” She kisses her fingers and places them back on the glass, hoping that maybe, just maybe, it’ll be felt somewhere off in the heavens.

“Ooh, you fixed it Rose, brilliant!” Gemma cries, pulling Rose out of her distant thoughts and making her turn back to the beds. The little girl grabs the dress and holds it up to her towel clad body, twisting back and forth and smiling as the repaired dress shimmers and shines with the movement.

“’Course I did,” Rose smiles. “That’s what I’m here for!” She makes a shoo-ing motion. “Now go get dressed, the carolers are going to start soon.”

“Do you think they’re going to sing some good songs?” Gemma asks when she comes back out of the bathroom, dress hanging off of her shoulders and thick grey woolen stockings twisted a bit from her tugging them on too fast.

“I hope so,” Rose says, turning her sister around and zipping the dress up firmly. Rose looks down at her own blue sweater, short grey skirt and thick stockings and smiles as Gemma pulls a pair of boots on that are nearly identical to her own: black leather that comes halfway up the calf with flat, practical soles. They don’t exactly match the pink frock, but that’s okay. No one’s going to care; they’ll just think the two sisters are cute to wear matching boots.

“What’s your favorite Christmas song?” Gemma says as Rose buttons her into her winter coat.

Rose laughs, a laugh that tinkles like bells. “There’s how many different Christmas songs out there, and you want me to pick one favorite?” She grabs her own coat and ushers Gemma out of the room, locking the door behind them. The room key gets shoved into her skirt pocket, while the TARDIS key rests coolly against the skin of her chest beneath her sweater.

“Come on, you’ve got to have one favorite,” Gemma prods, grabbing Rose’s hand as they move down the stairs.

“Well, I’ll say this – I like any Christmas song that makes me feel hopeful, how about that?” Rose grins, winking down at her. She knows that hope is dangerous, but she can’t fight it now. If she didn’t have that hope, she wouldn’t be here, taking the world’s wildest chance on sheer faith.

“I like that,” Gemma nods decisively.

“So do I.” Rose grips Gemma’s hand tighter as she pushes open the front door to the B&B, letting them out into a world filled with bright colors and riotous music. The two sisters share a smile and dash off into the milling crowds, joining the celebration that lasts long into the night.

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Comments

( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
nohara_megami
Nov. 25th, 2007 10:45 pm (UTC)
This is beautiful. I love the parallel between Rose and Penelope, but the difference of Rose does not sit and wait, she goes and does something about the waiting is wonderful.
I heard someone once make a parallel between Odysseus and the Doctor, so the entire time I have been reading The Odyssey in my Mythology class, I can't help but think of the similar points. I'm such a nerd XD
io_aenaria
Dec. 8th, 2007 07:04 pm (UTC)
If you're a nerd, then you're in good company. Given what's been going on with the Doctor and Rose at the moment, comparisons between the two just seem to pop out. ;) Thanks for reading, I'm so glad you liked the story!
honorh
Nov. 25th, 2007 11:20 pm (UTC)
I love this series, and I'm so looking forward to seeing where you take it next. This is a lovely portrait of Rose, who's grown up so much and has such incredible, hard-won strength.
io_aenaria
Dec. 8th, 2007 07:06 pm (UTC)
Thank you kindly. :) I am very glad that you like how I've been writing Rose - it's different from the show and quite a bit of fun to explore. She's not perfect though and still can screw up a bit - as the next story will show, so hopefully it won't disappoint!
dettiot
Nov. 25th, 2007 11:51 pm (UTC)
I so love this series, and this ficlet really captures what I love. The way that Rose is so proactive, that she's seeking out the Doctor because she's not one to sit at home . . . yet at the same time, she's doing so much for Gemma, giving her that stability and tradition that a little girl needs. Just brilliant, and I'm always so happy to see another story in the Sonnets-verse. Good luck with the next one!!
io_aenaria
Dec. 8th, 2007 07:10 pm (UTC)
I guess it's a bit of a belief I have about how a reunion scene would take place - the Doctor, knowing what he knows about the flow of time and all of that other wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff wouldn't be the one to search out Rose, knowing that he can't destroy two universes for the sake of one girl. However, he just needs to keep his faith in her, because if anyone's going to be doing some returning and crossing the void, it's going to be her. </ end long rambly explanation >

Rose is trying with Gemma, that's for certain. She loves that little girl and would do anything for her...but she's not her mother, not a parent, and some of that will pop out in the next part of the series that I'm currently working on, which is another reason to be nervous about it, LOL. Thank you for reading and for the review! It is always always appreciated!
midasu
Nov. 26th, 2007 01:15 am (UTC)
Rose is such a good big sister, I love the realationship between Rose and Gemma. It's very sweet and trusting. Lovely, I adore these. This one felt hopeful.
io_aenaria
Dec. 8th, 2007 07:10 pm (UTC)
Hopeful is exactly what I was going for. The perfect feeling for this Holiday season. :) Thanks for reading and for the review!
erinm_4600
Nov. 26th, 2007 02:30 am (UTC)
I think I missed something somewhere

*goes back to search for other parts*

Love it, btw!
io_aenaria
Dec. 8th, 2007 07:11 pm (UTC)
Glad you loved it! :) All the other parts are floating around here somewhere....

Thanks for the comment!
maypanic
Nov. 26th, 2007 03:21 am (UTC)
I do so love a strongly written Rose. No weak woman, her.

This series is beautiful, I'm enjoying the quiet hope of this bit. Lovely.
io_aenaria
Dec. 8th, 2007 07:12 pm (UTC)
Definitely no weak woman this Rose. :) Thank you for reading and for the lovely comments!

(btw, love your icon!)
paiger1218
Nov. 26th, 2007 04:01 am (UTC)
I love this. I need to start making a book of all your fics so I can read them during the painful classes at school...
io_aenaria
Dec. 8th, 2007 07:13 pm (UTC)
Hmmmm....I already bought your Christmas gifts though! ;)
nyaaaaaauuuuuuu
Nov. 26th, 2007 05:34 am (UTC)
yay :)
"Odysseus thinking about Penelope while on Calypso's island" *shriek* - you do know that Penelope's Song by Loreena McKennitt always makes me think of Rose and the Doctor, right?
There like a bird I‘d fly
High through the air
Reaching for the sun’s full rays
Only to find you there

And in the night when our dreams are still
Or when the wind calls free
I’ll keep your heart with mine
Till you come to me

Except that, as you say she's no Penelope. :) But that they are constantly in each other's minds and hearts...until they are reunited...hee!

And I love the sense of this story. I get the feeling that just as Rose is pulling her literal boots on at the end, she's pulling on her figurative boots, too, to start - indeed has started - her journey to find the Doctor (holistic though it may be). Her wanderings aren't aimless, but she's not rushing herself; she's completely sure of herself - that, given time, she and the Doctor will be reunited. And so they shall. *grins*

and re: the ficlet - you take all the time you need. sometimes it's nice to have a deadline, but you rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles. ;)
io_aenaria
Dec. 8th, 2007 07:17 pm (UTC)
Re: yay :)
Penelope's Song at the concert pretty much reduced a friend of mine to near tears thinking of the Doctor and Rose. ;) 'Course, she played something like three sad songs in a row, so by that time we were all a bit wibbly...

You're totally right with your sense - this story slots right in the middle of the next story (the one with the timeline that is still being worked on) and she's in the middle of the search, but Christmas is the time to sort of reaffirm herself. She will find him, wants to find him more than anything in the world, but she's got other things she has to take care of as well. And if she has faith in herself and in him...well, it'll all work out. :)

Well, no more rushing miracles, LOL. The fic is done and I'll be posting it later today. :D
catsfiction
Nov. 26th, 2007 09:26 am (UTC)
Penelope isn't just passive. She needs a lot of strength and cunning to fight off a houseful of obnoxious suitors. I've loved this whole series of stories and there is a lot here to savour. The loving relationship with Gemma, Rose's own faith and quiet strength, the Cornish setting and folklore and the carolling interwoven with the Stowaway song. It all adds up to a treat to savour.

BTW there's a very good BBC Radio 4 dramatisation of The Odyssey available on CD, but it's a little distracting to recongise the voice of Francine Jones playing Calypso!
io_aenaria
Dec. 8th, 2007 07:22 pm (UTC)
Oh, I agree totally. :) Out of all of the characters in all of the books I've read, Penelope is one of the ones I admire most of all for how she protects her home and her family.

I'm so glad you like this bit of the series too! The Cornish folklore sort of came out of nowhere - I was originally going to have them head out to this place called Minack Theatre that I was reading about online, but in following links as to how to reach the theatre I discovered Mousehole and its lovely Christmas traditions, and suddenly found the story going out there. Thank you for reading and for your lovely comments!

An audio book of the Odyssey sounds absolutely wonderful, even with Francine Jones doing Calypso! It's got to be a bit rattling I can imagine, but the things we'll do for this story...I listen to audiobooks a lot while I'm at work actually processing my papers, which takes up about six hours of an eight hour day. 'Course, most of them feature David Tennant reading them, so it's really no hardship...
earlgreytea68
Apr. 7th, 2008 01:38 am (UTC)
I love the Rose/Gemma relationship. You've done a beautiful job with it.
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )