Character/Pairing: Ten, Rose, the TARDIS, Mickey
Spoilers: It's technically post Doomsday, so at least that episode
Disclaimer: Not mine...
Summary: Unlock the door and find your way home. The second step on a long way home for Rose Tyler. A story set in the Sonnets universe.
Author's Notes: Another story in the Sonnets-verse, and in here we finally get to see Rose really start on the way home. Prior knowledge of the Sonnets stories is probably necessary at this point, and you can find them all here.
For some reason I'm really nervous about this story. It's been sitting on my hard drive for months and only now am I getting the courage to post it. Therefore any critical comments are most appreciated! Thanks for your help, and for reading. :)
At first glance, the big house looks like it’s only temporarily closed. Inside, furniture is there, bills are left on the table, clothes in the wardrobe, a few random books scattered around, foodstuffs in the pantry and perfume and other female oddities left in the washroom. However the bags packed into the small Jeep tell a different story. Those bags, while packed with the necessities for travel, also hold the family memories. There are pictures of family and friends, important papers, some pieces of music, and whatever other heirlooms the girls deemed important enough to bring with them on their voyage across the universes.
Rose kneels down outside the open door to the back seat. Gemma is strapped into her booster seat, still rather tiny for a girl who has just celebrated her seventh birthday, and her legs kick against the bench. “Gem, love, are you sure about this?” Rose asks, wanting to be absolutely confident that Gemma is okay with this move. “If you don’t want to leave, then I can make arrangements for you here, and you’ll have an absolutely brilliant life here too.” As much as Rose doesn’t want to leave her little sister behind, she knows she will if she has to. That odd feeling in her bones has just kept growing over the past few years; it’s what made her start actively searching for the way back home. Something was telling her that she didn’t belong here, that she was never meant to exist in this universe (her parents’ counterparts here had been married for near on twenty years before the Cybermen, and the only Rose that had been around was the dog). She’d tried to tell Jackie that once, but she had just brushed it off as a slight bit of a hangover. Rose’s gut feeling was telling her that this universe just plain didn’t like her (‘was it possible for a universe to get indigestion?’ she mused). So home was calling.
Gemma shakes her head. “Mum and Dad’re gone. I don’t want you to go too. I’m coming with you,” she says, her face set in that stubborn Prentice expression that all the ladies since her great-grandmother had mastered.
Rose smiles at her and kisses her forehead. The sound of a car pulling up the long driveway makes her stand up and stare, check out who is coming. Her smile stays when she sees that it’s just Mickey, come to bid them farewell on their ‘vacation’. It pains her a bit that she can’t tell him her plans, but he would be convincing her and Gemma to stay, and she wants to leave him with good memories of her, not memories of fighting. Rose waves at him as he parks his car next to hers.
“There’s my girls,” Mickey says to them, coming around to the open door. Gemma grins widely at him.
“We’re going to Jenci World!” she says.
Mickey shoots Rose a puzzled look. “The equivalent of Disney World,” she mutters under her breath.
“Gotcha. So are you guys going to have fun there?” he asks, not to Gemma though but to Rose.
Suddenly it hits Rose that Mickey knows exactly what she is planning. There’s something in his words, in that look in his eyes, that tells her he knows she wants to go home, and that she’s finally figured out how to. She smiles again, and leans against his side. His arm goes around her shoulders, a familiar move. “It might be a bit of a hard trip,” she says, “but I think it’s going to be fantastic.” Mickey just grins at that.
She twists and wraps her arms around Mickey in a tight hug. “Thank you, for everything,” she whispers to him. “I can’t even begin to tell you how much…”
“Anytime. You know that,” he says, voice a bit gruff. He kisses her on the forehead and strokes her cheek briefly. “Same to you. Thanks, Rose.”
“You be sure to have a good life, you hear me?” she says as she pulls away, wiping away a stray tear.
“I already got that,” he winks at her. And it’s true, since he arrived in this universe he’s been embraced, become the man he was always meant to be and never got a chance to in the other one by pure circumstance. “I hope you find yours. You be safe, you hear me?”
Rose looks over at Gemma in the jeep, playing with a doll. Actually, it appears she is dyeing said doll’s plastic blonde hair bright candy apple red, courtesy of an old lipstick. “I will, I promise,” she says.
Mickey heads over to Gemma, leans down, and ruffles her hair quickly, making her laugh and swat at his hands with the doll. “Have a good time, Gemma,” he says. “I promise you it is going to be one amazing adventure.” She nods and leans over to give him a hug.
“It’s gonna be great! Rose is gonna show me all sorts of stuff,” Gemma says, snuggling the doll close to her.
“Too right,” Mickey agrees, straightening up and heading back over to Rose. “You’re one of a kind, Rose Tyler,” he says, giving her one last hug for the road.
“So are you, Mickey Smith,” she smiles back, hands going out to straighten his collar out of sheer habit, one last time before she goes. He gives her one more kiss to the back of her left hand, and heads back to his car. Just before he gets in, his arms draped over the open door, he shouts back to her.
“When you see the Doctor, give him a smack for me. After you kiss him hello!”
Rose just laughs loudly, joy bubbling up inside of her. Mickey winks at her, then drives off, car fading to a speck in the distance. Rose sighs and heads back to her own vehicle. She makes sure the doors are secure and slides into the driver’s seat, starting the engine with a decisive twist of her wrist. She strokes the back of her neck, right over the words of the ancient lullaby her first Doctor had given her, and can almost feel him right there with her. It makes her feel at peace, and she knows this is right. Rose twists in her seat and looks back at Gemma. “So, you ready?” she asks.
“Yup,” she says, colouring the doll’s hair in once more.
Without looking back at the mansion they had dwelled in since they had arrived in this universe (it’s not home. It’s never been home, at least for her, because her home was off somewhere in a different universe, the same place she left her heart) Rose drives down the lane and starts them off on their new lives.
* * *
Instead of going to Jenci World, Disney World, or any other equivalent, Rose drives north towards Scotland. It’s a long drive, and eventually Gemma’s initial excitement gives way to tired crankiness. Still, Rose drives on. It will take them a couple of days to get to the place they need to go, a foreign name first seen in that circular writing on her left calf-Sandvik, on the island of Suðuroy in the Faeroe Islands.
By the time they reach the port in Aberdeen the sun has already fallen and the last ferry to the islands left hours ago. The tourist centre is closed as well, so after a relaxed dinner at a nearby pub (run by an extremely eccentric chap by Rose’s standards - standards that allow for all sorts of intergalactic weirdness - this man is obviously a special case), they take a room there. The eccentric promises to wake them in time for the first ferry out, but Rose sets the alarm on her mobile anyway, just in case. That night both girls sleep soundly, exhausted beyond anything.
* * *
The next night, they sleep on the beach in Sandvik - it’s a cool summer night, and the high tech sleeping bags keep them warm in the flatbed of the jeep. Their belongings surround them, and it’s a tight squeeze. They’re not supposed to be sleeping in areas that aren’t designated campgrounds, but Rose figures that they’ll be gone early enough to avoid the patrols, and that her grasp of the Faeroese language was none at all - in this case the ignorant tourist act would come in handy.
Gemma turns to Rose and crawls under her arm. “You asleep?” she asks.
Rose shakes her head. “No.” She’s too excited, too nervous, too scared to sleep.
“Me neither,” Gemma sighs. “Tell me a story?” she whisper-asks into the night.
Rose strokes her sister’s curls back off her forehead. “I think I’ve told you all of them,” she says. “Not sure if I’ve got any left.”
“Yes you do,” Gemma murmurs sleepily.
“No, I don’t think so,” Rose says back, tears leaking from her eyes to trail into her hairline. God, she is so scared. Is she doing the right thing? Should she be happy in this lonely universe, to try and make yet another go of it (she’s tried in the past, and every time it failed for some little miniscule reason that is nearly invisible to everyone but her)? Here, she is the daughter of one of the most powerful men in England, one of only two heirs to the Tyler fortune. What does she have back in the other universe? Friends and family who believe she’d died years ago, and an alien who loved her once but may not even think about her anymore. She hopes he has someone there to take care of him, and wonders if he ever mentions her name to the latest girl.
But what it feels like with the other, parallel universe, was that more than anything else, it was hers. Maybe that is the reason. There may not be people waiting for her on the other side, but something there is singing out her name, calling her back. She’s got the keys, so why not try? If it doesn’t work, the worst that’ll happen is she’ll take a small tumble into the ocean and get her clothes soaked. And a little bit of water isn’t going to stop her.
“Tell me something happy,” Gemma sighs. “Something where no one dies.”
“Something where no one dies,” Rose repeats…and then, a sudden smile spreads across her face. “A story where everybody lives.” She knows just what to share now. “Did I ever tell you about how I met Captain Jack?” Gemma shakes her head. “Well, one time we traveled back to World War II – that war didn’t happen here but back home it was huge. There was a mauve alert, and a mauve alert can only mean very bad things for us…”
Rose tells the story until the sky begins to lighten, pale light bleeding in over the dark blue horizon, at which point she rouses Gemma from her half-sleep. The sunrise is crucial, the directions on the fleshy skin of her hip saying that she must unlock the sky come dawn. “Come on, Gem love, we’ve got to get moving.”
The canoe is hauled off the roof and the bags from the back, with Gemma ‘helping’ in her own inimitable fashion. By the time they are done the canoe is nearly stuffed to bursting, but Rose isn’t worrying. They don’t have to go out far into the water, just that they have to be in the water, facing eastward. Rose stares out over the grey water, seeing a small island off in the distance, with vast stretches of water beyond that. Even further past that is the coast of Norway. Rose wonders if she could be staring right at Darlig Ulv Stranden. That would be fitting, she muses, the beginning coming out of what she thought was the end. A smile steals across her lips as she tugs her green hoodie into place.
“All right,” she calls out, spinning to face Gemma, winds whipping her hair all about. She takes one last good look at the beach, seeing the sandy shoreline scattered with large rocks, leading up to a paved road with grassy hills above that. “Hop in the boat, love, and then we’ll get started on our adventure!” Within seconds her little sister is settled in, a wild grin on her face. Somehow, Rose shoves the weighty canoe into the water, jumps in and grabs the oars, grateful for the wellies keeping her jeans dry. Gemma turns her face into the sea spray; Rose thinks she looks like a little princess, sitting in the middle of the boat in the frilly pink dress she had insisted on wearing for such a special occasion.
She rows out a little way, somewhere deep enough so that the boat doesn’t scrape along the bottom. They are still in the bay, with the rocky arms surrounding them and the sun just beginning to emerge through the space leading out to the North Sea. As the yellow ball creeps above the horizon, colouring the sky in shades of reds and oranges and golds, Rose locks the oars into place. It’s time. In the back of her head, she can faintly hear the song of the universe calling to her again. She takes a deep breath, letting all of the words from Gallifrey appear on her skin in their deep black ink, as if they’re calling out for home as well.
The large iron key is grabbed from one of the sacks, and Rose shuffles up in the canoe a little so she is kneeling right behind Gemma. The sun is shining in her eyes now, and she winces a bit as she pulls the chain with the TARDIS key from around her neck. “Love, I’m gonna need your help with this.” She presses the TARDIS key into Gemma’s hand. “Hold onto that until I tell you when.” Gemma nods, turning around to look at Rose.
Rose gently faces her back towards the sunrise and pulls her so that Gemma’s standing between her knees. She wraps an arm tight around her little sister’s waist, anchoring her firmly, as she raises her left hand with the iron gate-key grasped in it. The Gallifreyan writing for her name on the back of that hand gleams in the sunlight, announcing to anyone that she is there and it is time. Ever so slowly, she pushes the key forward, holding her breath as a golden glow flares out around the key. Half of it disappears, as if it has been slid right into its proper keyhole. Rose grins widely and breathes in some air through her nose.
Another, smaller light appears above the iron key. “Okay,” Rose whispers into Gemma’s ear. “Put the TARDIS key into there, as if it’s a normal keyhole. Then, on three, turn.” Gemma nods, and Rose can see her biting her lower lip in deep concentration. Her hand shakes as she puts the TARDIS key into its matching keyhole. “Good,” Rose murmurs again, placing her other hand over her sister’s. “One…two…three.” Together, they turn the keys. Something bright flashes, like lightning but stronger, more intense. Rose fights to keep her eyes open, though the brightness quickly blinds her. It could be seconds or a lifetime that pass before the light becomes even more powerful, enveloping them.
When the light dies down, the sea is flat and still, with nothing in the way to block the view of the horizon. The only thing left on the beach is the empty old Jeep. Once upon a time it was registered to a Rose Tyler, but she never returns to claim it.
* * *
The light fades and Rose blinks harshly, shaking her head. “Ooh, that stings,” she mutters.
“Looks the same,” Gemma says, frustration obvious in her voice. Rose glances out at the bay and finds that she’s right, the view is exactly identical to how they left it. She sighs and swears under her breath, the sick feeling of failure growing in her stomach. Maybe it’s too much to hope for, she wonders. Maybe her translations were wrong also. The Doctor didn’t teach her all of the Gallifreyan words he put on her skin, so it could be entirely possible that she’d botched her words up somewhere along the line. Rose sighs again and turns around to head to the other side of the canoe. When she looks out towards the shoreline, however, it finally dawns on her that their car is gone. There is also a power line strung along the road here as well, something that hadn’t been there before the flash of light.
“I think we may have gone further than we thought,” Rose says, eyes wild and gleaming, grabbing Gemma and turning her towards the beach. As Gemma gasps and claps Rose takes hold of the oars and gets them quickly back to shore. When she’s close enough, she hops out into the water and drags the canoe onto the sand, finding reserves of strength from somewhere inside her that she didn’t know she had.
“Um, Rose?” Gemma says as she scampers out of the canoe, kicking up the sandy ground as she lands. The air here is a bit colder than before, and the first thing Gemma does is reach back into the canoe for a sweater.
“What is it, love?” Rose replies, fishing an elastic from her pocket and pulling her hair back on her head.
“How’re we gonna get all of this stuff back into town? And where’re we gonna go anyway?” she says, pulling the sweater over her head.
Rose bites her lower lip and stares around the bay, eyes gliding around and up towards the road ringing the beach. She admits to herself she hadn’t quite thought that far. She has fake IDs for them stashed away in one of the bags, some slightly dodgy currency that would work in this universe, and some valuables that can be sold for legit cash, but she hasn’t quite figured out where they were going to do that. The fanciful and romantic part of her had the vain hope that the Doctor would be there waiting for her on the beach when they went through to the other side, but the more rational and realistic part figured that they’d have to make their own way, and eventually she’d find him.
She takes a few steps closer to the road, and suddenly her eyes widen. “There we go!” she says. There’s an emergency phone tacked to the utility pole, from before the time of mass market cell phones. “Gem, if anyone asks, we got caught in a strong current and swept away from where we parked on another beach. I’m gonna call us a taxi to take us to the nearest rental car place.”
“Yes ma’am!” Gemma replies, sporting the same grin that Rose is. She perches herself on the lip of the boat as Rose runs up the slope to the road.
Eventually a taxi shows up to give them a ride, the driver grumbling once he sees just how much he is going to have to cram into his cab. Rose and Gemma settle in the back seat, with bags on their laps and rucksacks shoved under their feet. Gemma stares out the window at the passing scenery as they drive, completely absorbed and fascinated, her first glimpse into this brand new world.
“So where are you ladies from?” the cabbie asks them as they drive back towards a town.
“England,” Rose replies. “My little sister and I are here on holiday.”
“England, hmm? You must have seen what had happened on the television last week then. That alien hoax that got the American president assassinated right there on camera.”
Rose leans forward, bracing an arm on the back of the front seats. “An alien hoax and an assassinated president?” she asks, a bit astounded. “We’ve been here for a while, so I missed that bit of news.”
“It gets better,” the cabbie says. “Apparently, right after the cameras cut out your Prime Minister, Saxon, was killed too. They’re not sure how it happened, but it looked like a gunshot according to all the news stories. Rumour has it his wife was the one that pulled the trigger.”
Saxon…that name sounds familiar, Rose thinks, from many years back. An echo of a memory from before she had fallen through the rift, but enough there to trigger something in her head. She glances down at Gemma, who drags her eyes away from the window to look up at her inquisitively. “Alien hoaxes involving the Prime Minister,” Rose murmurs, a grin quirking her lips. “I think we’re home.”
* * *
Somewhere, far off in space and time, the TARDIS knows something has suddenly opened up the gates of reality. Not a rip this time though, but a proper door, with something small but powerful sneaking through and closing the door carefully behind it. The TARDIS reaches out her senses, tendrils that float through the universe to try and find out what it is. Unfortunately whatever it was that snuck through is too far away to lock onto. She can sense an unidentified feeling there, however, and reaches out even further.
Somewhere beneath the grating of the control room floor, the Doctor swears under his breath in his native tongue and whacks at some recalcitrant part of her with the rubber mallet. The TARDIS gives off what passes as a giggle for her, and mentally reaches out to give him a pat on the head, as if he is an overly hyperactive and affectionate puppy.
And then it hits her, what that feeling is. It’s a feeling of great love that has latched onto her seeking tendrils and takes up residence in her heart. Whatever opened up reality, it’s not malevolent, and cares about this universe beyond all belief. The TARDIS sets up a few internal monitors secretly (if there’s no danger, the Doctor doesn’t need to know about what she’s watching) and resolves to keep an eye on this feeling, to see if anything would come of it. It could be nothing, but it could also turn out to be something amazing…
Cut-text lyrics from SweetWater Kill, by Rasputina