Character/Pairing: Ten/Rose, and an OC
Summary: Even though Rose's sister doesn't realize it, it's not just the exhibits in the museum that are important, but the people you encounter there. Yet another 'Sonnets Writ in Skin' ficlet.
Spoilers: Big ones for 'The Stone Rose', with very, very slight ones for 'Voyage of the Damned'.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Author's Notes: As said above, yet another Sonnets ficlet. This one follows 'Penelope's Web', which can be found at my journal along with all of the other Sonnets stories. I may get shot for the ending of this one, but I've had this scene in my head for ages and have been itching to get it out for months now. More author's notes concerning the future of this series at the end of the ficlet (nothing bad, just a rearrangement of sorts). As always, my heartiest thanks to Paige for her prelim reads, and I hope everyone enjoys it!
It’s so silly, so absolutely, terrifically silly, but sometimes they need moments like this. Rose doesn’t even try to hold back the giggles as she fumbles for the camera. They’re at the Roman Forum by the Temple of the Vestal Virgins, and Gemma has taken it upon herself to become one. Or rather, become like a statue of one, and so she climbs up onto an empty plinth (the statues on either side of her are unfortunately headless, their visages lost to the ages, but still quiet and beautiful at the same time).
At first she stands still, striking a noble pose, acting just as dignified and stately as the statues next to her. But then she grins and begins to shift, going from dignified back to a normal eight year old again. As Rose stands and laughs Gemma turns herself into all manner of things, the most notable being a demented chicken.
The other tourists around them shoot them dirty looks, but the girls pay them no mind, having far too much fun posing and recording. It’s only when a security guard comes by and tells them they are not allowed to play with the ancient artifacts please do they stop, Gemma looking just a bit sheepish. Not for the first time since she’s been back in this universe Rose understands the foreign words coming from the security guard’s mouth perfectly. It’s this important thing that tells her that the TARDIS is still out there, and so is the Doctor.
(Their connection goes far deeper and stronger than either Rose or the TARDIS realizes. But that knowledge will come eventually, and Time knows that the moment will come when it is ready.)
And then, rather suddenly, Rose gets an idea.
* * *
The freedom of being able to explore the British Museum all by herself is a heady feeling for the eight year old. Well, not really by herself, Gemma thinks. She didn’t quite get it – they’d come all the way back to London just to see one certain gallery and now Rose didn’t even want to go in there, preferring to stay in the gift shop instead and foisting Gemma off onto a kiddie tour of the museum. However, that specific gallery wasn’t included in the tour’s planned route, so she had oh so gracefully ditched the chaperones and wandered off to see what she wanted. Although, she really shouldn’t have been surprised at her sister’s sudden change of mind; Rose was a weird one for an adult. She was probably in another one of her lovesick, mopey moods again. ‘Course, Rose had never called them that but their mum certainly had and Gemma thought it was quite appropriate.
She goes into the open archway to the sculpture hall and grins widely. It’s late enough in the day that the hall is empty but for the guard at one end. Here, she can see the statues restored to all their gleaming glory. Not that they weren’t cool in the Roman Forum, of course, but they weren’t all white and shining and polished and just really pretty.
There are all sorts of statues in there, from stately ladies to naked athletes that make Gemma avert her eyes hastily. Off in one area is a giant foot – looks like something she and Rose had seen in their voyages off planet back in the old universe. Maybe one she found her Doctor they could go off planet again; that’d be really cool.
And right about then she finds a statue that makes her stop and stare. In the long line of figures it blends in well, looking quite classic, but it’s the appearance that gets Gemma. Strangely enough, the statue looks exactly like her sister. Eerily so, as if she’d modeled for it and the sculptor really, really knew her. The facial features are identical, and even though the statue’s wearing Roman clothing she’s holding herself the exact same way that Rose does. There’s a bench in front of this statue so she sits down there, intrigued and happy to stare for a while.
She’s so absorbed that she doesn’t notice the man standing behind her bench, staring at the statue just as hard as she is. It’s only when he speaks that she realizes with a sudden jump that she isn’t the only one there anymore. “Pretty statue, isn’t it?” the man comments.
“Yeah,” she agrees, too surprised to turn her head away from the statue. The man talks like she does, Gemma notices, a working class London accent as Mum always called it, even though they weren’t really working class.
“Reminds me of a girl I once knew,” the man continues, making Gemma turn to check him out. For some reason she finds herself disappointed, because all that’s standing there is an old man in a suit.
(It should be noted here that our perceptions of age change with our own age. When you’re five years old, a person of twenty-five looks old, and a person of forty looks positively ancient. So while this man may have appeared to be around thirty-five or so, in Gemma’s eyes he is an old man.
It could also be argued though that Gemma sees something impossibly old in this young appearing man’s eyes, and subconsciously forms her name for him out of that. The subconscious is more right than she realizes.)
Gemma snorts, not all that politely, and turns back to the statue. “Reminds me of my sister,” she says back.
“Your sister’s made of marble and about 1900 years old?” the man says, and she can hear the bemusement in his voice.
“My sister’s a mopey, lovesick idiot right now,” she blurts out rather suddenly. She hadn’t meant to say that, but the thoughts are at the forefront of her mind and they just sort of slip right out of her mouth.
“I’ve known my share of those folks,” the old man says, perching himself at the other end of the bench. Gemma shoots him another glance, only to find that his eyes are still glued to the statue. “Been one myself also,” he continues, voice suddenly softer than it was before.
‘Oh, great,’ Gemma thinks, giving him a wary look. ‘First Rose, now this. Why can’t we ever meet anyone normal when we travel? It has to be another lovesick idiot.’ She quickly decides to tell her story, thinking that maybe she could get a little sympathy out of it if not anything else. “My sister had this boyfriend she was totally mad for. But then he left. Well, he didn’t really leave, they both sort of…went in different places. But she just can’t seem to let go of him. It’s not fun,” she sighs, thinking of all of the travelling. It was exciting at first, but a year later it’s getting a bit tiring. She likes all of the interesting and amazing places they go, but she’s starting to miss having a home – a real home, something that was all theirs and not shared with whoever else was staying in the hotel at the time. Because having a home, any sort of home really, as odd or unorthodox as some homes could be, is really sort of important to her.
“I guess your sister’s never heard the phrase ‘if you love something, set it free’,” the old man says, tugging at the cuff of his suit jacket. He’s staring hard at one loose thread, and Gemma wonders who he had to let go. It’s obvious that he’s speaking from experience here.
Gemma shakes her head, taking her gaze from the old man to the statue and back again. “I think her phrase is more ‘beg, borrow, or steal, I’ll find a way’.” She folds her legs up under her; the rather worn out pink skirt doesn’t exactly keep her legs warm in the climate controlled atmosphere of the museum.
“I think I’ve heard that song before,” the man mutters, practically to himself.
A quick glance down at her watch makes Gemma’s eyes widen, and she realizes that the tour should have ended five minutes ago. How long had she been sitting there talking to this old man anyway? It’s like time just plain old got away from her there. “Sorry, mister,” she says, leaping off the bench and turning to look at him again. “I gotta go otherwise the mopey, lovesick idiot is going to be really mad at me.” She pauses for a moment, watches as his mouth opens to say something, then blurts something out that she really hadn’t seen coming at all. “I hope you find the person you had to let go.”
The old man’s dark brown eyes latch onto hers, boring in so deep she almost takes a step back in fear. Then the eyes soften and glance up at the statue again. “No, she won’t be coming back. She’s happy, and with her family. She’s safe there,” he says, and Gemma suspects that he’s saying that not just for her benefit. Something’s not quite right about his words.
Gemma shrugs. “Maybe she’ll find you, then. Maybe she misses you that much that she’ll come back.” Of course, she thinks of her own sister there and resists the urge to groan at wherever she’s going to be dragged to next. It’s summer now, so she’s hoping it won’t be someplace cold. They can save that for Christmastime.
The man smiles gently at that. “There is a second part of that phrase about whatever you let go returning to you. However, I think that may be a little too much to hope for in this case.”
“No it’s not,” Gemma retorts. “It can’t hurt to hope for it!”
Still smiling softly, the man shakes his head. “When you get to my age, you’ll find that hope isn’t everything.”
“Well if that’s the case I ain’t growing up to be as old as you are then,” she says decisively. “I hope then that she does come back, just to show you that you’re wrong,” Gemma declares, crossing her arms over her chest.
“I would absolutely love to be proven wrong with that one,” the man says, the soft smile turning into a toothy grin.
“Good!” she cries out, then runs out of the hall. She really is running desperately late now, although there was something strangely intriguing about that old man. She couldn’t think about that now though, because she has a place to be. As she runs through the next hall she vaguely hears a noise from behind her, an electronic whooshing noise and grinding gears sounding hollow and far off. It doesn’t really register though, because at that same moment Gemma’s tapping on the face of her watch, hoping in vain that the hands would turn back just slightly. Where on Earth could the time have gone? Rose is so going to kill her.
Eventually she finds Rose in the shop, getting lost in a book about Egyptian hieroglyphics. “Hey you,” Rose says with a smile as she sees her. “How was the tour?”
“Very good,” Gemma says in a rush. “Tour’s done. Let’s go.” She grabs Rose’s hand and starts tugging, hoping to get out of the museum before one of those chaperones found them and let Rose know just what she had done.
Rightly so, Rose looks suspicious, but lets Gemma lead her out of the shop. “So, did you see anything interesting?” she asks as they make their way out the main entrance.
“Yup,” Gemma replies. “Saw lotsa cool stuff. D’you know there’s a statue that looks like you in there?”
“Really?” Rose says, and Gemma can just catch the knowing twinkle in her eyes. Oh, she hates it when Rose goes all Dumbledore on her, and looks suspiciously up at her sister. “I had no idea,” she continues calmly, looking out at the street as she opens the door for them.
“Riiiight,” Gemma drawls. She doesn’t believe her one bit, but Rose isn’t offering up any more information. She decides not to tell her about the old man in the sculpture hall then, ‘cause a girl’s got to have some secrets. She’s forgotten his face by now anyway.
A/N: So I know I've been talking about for a while about an epic story involving Rose and Gemma's travels (of which this fic is actually an outtake from). However, with certain developments in regards to the upcoming fourth season, I've decided to skip right past that and go straight to the real reunion scene of the Sonnets universe (which is always the fun part, isn't it? *g*). I'm also, and I'm very hesitant to say this *gulps nervously* going to post it as a WIP. It may take me a while, but I want to have the story in progress and out to the world before the fourth season starts. That's all, really. Not too bad an announcement, I guess. :) Thanks for reading!