Character/Pairing: Ten/Rose, Gemma (an OC), with appearances by Jack, Martha, Donna, and a bunch of other OCs
Rating: This part is PG, however rating is more than likely to go up by the end of it...
Summary: The Sonnetsverse reunion, which now has an actual summary! "She's been lost, found the key, unlocked the door to the universe, wandered about, took a detour, stopped, stopped some more, then started again. Now, finally, Rose Tyler is on her way home."
Disclaimer: In my dreams...
Author's Notes: Yes, I probably should have waited for galadriella1 to get back with the beta on this, however I am a dork who is far too excited to post the story. This bit is more of an interlude from the Doctor's point of view, but it really is just one more step on the path to reunion. As always, prior knowledge of the Sonnets stories and the previous parts of Mysterious Ways is a good idea especially as some things from previous stories pop up in this chapter, and all of them can be found here. Thanks, as always to Paige for her help and her patience with my insane ramblings over this epic of a fic. Enjoy! :)
"I’ve Been Down This Road Before,
Now I’m Coming Back for More..."
I Really Hope, The Cranberries
The box in Jack’s hands rattles ominously, making the Doctor look askance at it then take a quick step to the side. “Do I really want to know the details as to how you acquired that?” he asks, leading them down yet another staircase to the basement levels of the Alexandria Library.
“No, you don’t,” Jack says, holding the box a safe distance from his body. “I just want to get it out of my possession as soon as possible.”
The Doctor just shakes his head and takes them through the maze that is the basement levels of the Alexandria Library. He was certainly surprised to get the call from Jack saying that he needed to dispose of something highly sensitive that Torchwood had come across, and he couldn’t think of a better man or alien to do the job. With ‘flattery’ like that how could he say no? So with a roll of his eyes he tosses Jack into the TARDIS and takes them to the 50th century library to see an old friend of his who is an expert at moving things.
A few twists and turns down a dark corridor later they arrive at a door. It’s a rather unassuming door, a plank of anachronistic wood with iron hinges, a stark contrast to the white marble that is the upper floors of the library. The Doctor reaches out a fist and pounds on the door. “Edgar? I know you’re in there! Open up!”
The door is pulled open suddenly, making the Doctor take a quick step to keep his balance. The face peering out is an older one, full of wrinkles and character. It sports a pair of half-moon shaped glasses sliding down a button nose, and the man’s white hair is pulled back into a small ponytail. Edgar leans against the doorjamb and stares at the Doctor, eyebrows arching above the glasses. “Now correct me if I’m wrong,” Edgar says, “but I could have sworn you had a different face the last time you were here.”
“Regenerated. Again,” the Doctor explains, one hand moving to scratch the back of his neck nervously.
“Not sure I want to know how many times you’ve done that by now,” Edgar sighs, opening up the door wider. “Come on in.”
“You’ve moved up in the world,” the Doctor says, impressed with his surroundings. The large room is paneled in the same dark wood as the door, and sconces set pink flame flickering on the walls. The contents of the room are a jumble of parts and baubles from all over the universe, the ingredients of all good jiggery-pokery. However, one wall is dedicated solely to old scrolls and books, crumbling and crackling with age.
“I got a promotion. Perks of keeping my nose clean for an extended period of time,” Edgar sniffs, setting down at a large workbench covered in curls of silvery wire and a stack of teetering books in the corner of it. “So why am I all of a sudden graced with your presence?” he says, shifting the books so they don’t fall off. “Although you never give warning when you decide to visit anyway,” he mutters under his breath, making Jack tilt his head in agreement.
The Doctor waves in Jack’s general direction. “My friend here has something he needs to get rid of, and fast.” Jack thumps the box on the work bench. As soon as it hits the surface it rattles again, making Edgar lean forward to get a better look. He grabs a ruler and uses it to lift the lid of the box, eyebrows arching towards the ceiling once more when he finally sees what’s inside of. “Good lord, haven’t seen one of these things in ages. Is that alive?”
“Either that or it’s a zombie alien, take your pick. Do you think you’d have someone who could take it?” Jack asks, holding the box firmly with both hands.
“Edgar here can fence just about anything in the universe, and coming from me that’s saying something,” the Doctor says, crossing his arms over his chest and leaning against the far side of the workbench. “Speaking of which what have you been up to lately? Jack and I were here a couple of months ago only to find that you were out of town.”
The man snorts to himself and picks up what appears to be an old fashioned magnifying glass with a few bits and bobs of glass and crystal wires looped around the metal outside of it. “Was sent to do a job, by the Library no less,” he says, pushing a button on the handle of the glass and making it glow with a bright pale blue light. Using the ruler to prop up the lid of Jack’s box, he leans in closer with the glass at his eye. “Ended up on Earth, sometime around the start of the second millennium common era.”
“Not far off from my usual haunt,” Jack murmurs.
“From my understanding it’s an interesting time to be on Earth, that’s for sure,” Edgar agrees. “Long story short, I had to retrieve a couple of books that shouldn’t have been there. I spent a few months living as a real life monk,” he chuckles.
“You, a monk?” the Doctor says with a slight bit of incredulity, but then his face morphs into a more pensive look. “Actually, I can easily see that,” he comments, looking around at the cluttered workroom which really isn’t much more than a glorified bachelor pad.
Edgar shoots him quite the dirty look. “You’re the last one to talk. When were you last shagged rotten?” he asks, turning to look at him in expectation of an answer.
The Doctor can tell that Jack is also very interested in the answer to that question as well, going by the inquisitive look he is shooting his way. He just arches an eyebrow at the two of them, daring them to challenge his non-response. Besides, he knows exactly when he was last ‘shagged rotten’, and who with. It was none of their damn business.
Jack and Edgar trade a look and it’s obvious they’ve come to the conclusion that the Doctor isn’t going to offer up any information in regards to that question. Edgar shrugs as if to say ‘worth a shot’, and turns back to the box, hitting another button on the glass that makes the light flash on and off at a steady rate. “One of the books I had to bring back had a story in there that I could have sworn described you,” Edgar eventually says.
This makes the Doctor stand up a bit straighter. “Really? What did it say?”
Edgar shakes his head. “Can’t remember the details, but the book’s over there below the window if you’re interested. It’s the skinny black volume.” As the Doctor walks over to get it he can hear Edgar continuing in the background. “Used the story to scare the living crap out of a kid though back on Earth, so the trip wasn’t a total waste.”
“That’s a bit cruel, isn’t it?” Jack says.
“Possibly, but I don’t think it traumatized him too badly. It’s weird, I’m not even sure how that book got there, the damn thing seems older than time itself, or at least the Time Lord over there…”
The Doctor tunes them out as he picks the book out of the haphazard pile it’s currently in. It’s so nondescript it doesn’t even have a title, but the second page reveals a list of all the tales that are contained within. He scrolls through the titles, recognizing familiar legends, some cloudy memories from his own childhood oh so long ago, but there’s the name of one tale that leaps out at him with the force of a supernova – ‘The Bitter Pill’. He quickly flips to the page and begins to read.
Sure enough, he is intimately familiar with the tale, how the two strangers landed on the dead world that orbited a black hole and encountered the Beast in the Pit. He glides past his own actions and instead focuses on Rose, and how she destroyed the putrid soul of the Beast. A soft smile crosses his face.
I've seen fake gods and bad gods and demi gods and would-be gods…Out of all that, out of that whole pantheon if I believe in one thing, just one thing, I believe in her.
“Hey, Doctor?” Edgar calls out, pulling his attention back to the small crowd huddling around the box. “I’ve got another shipment of Zidraxian ink here. You want some more while I’ve got it in stock? I know you took some with you last time you were here.”
The Doctor snaps the book shut with one hand, gaze darting from Edgar to Jack and back again. “You know what, I think I’m going to take a wander through the library. It’s been a while, maybe they’ll have updated the collection a bit,” he says loftily and walks out of the room, discretely slipping the small book into a pocket in his coat.
As the Doctor leaves, Jack trades a look with Edgar. “Now maybe it’s just me, but did you get the impression that we were just blown off big time?”
Edgar nods, tapping the ruler lightly against the table. “He did that last time he was here too. However, when an old as dirt Time Lord like that brings a young blonde cutie into this place, he should realize he’s going to get questions.”
* * *
It isn’t until the Doctor ends up perched on the top step of a stairway high in the upper echelons of the library does he realize that he’s stopped on the very same stairway where he and Rose had sat all those years ago, with those misguided books about Time Lords right on the platform above his head. ‘Figures,’ he thinks, dashing a hand back through his hair. He’s not going to let himself dwell on it, just going to take a few minutes to reorder his brain and then get moving with things. Jack has to be back in Cardiff as fast as possible – from what the Doctor understands Jack’s team is still in a bit of a state and he doesn’t want to leave them alone for too long if he doesn’t have to.
‘How times have changed,’ the Doctor muses thoughtfully with a small quirk of his lips. ‘We are all new, every one of us.’ A fleeting thought goes through his head, wondering about how Rose has been doing lost on the other side, and not for the first time he hopes she’s doing well, leading a fantastic life. With a deep breath he clears his mind, then leans back on his hands and stares out at the gleaming white arches and stairways of the Library, preferring not to think at all. A rare occurrence for him, true, but sometimes if he tries really hard it can happen.
Eventually Jack comes trotting up the stairway directly towards him, and it’s not at all hard for the Doctor to see the concerned look in his eyes. Really, he’s fine though. It’s taken a while to get to this point, but he’s not going to break. Not anymore. He misses her like nothing he’s ever known before, and would love to make the impossible possible and see her again, even if just for a second, but he’s not going to give up and lay down and die. Life keeps moving and changing, and so must he. A hard truth learned by experience, but isn’t that why never stops and keeps traveling, so that he can keep seeing new things and always learn more? “Everything all right, Jack?” the Doctor calls out, not moving from his perch on the step.
“Yeah, it’s fine. Edgar’s contacting one of his buyers to see if they’ll take my little toy off our hands,” Jack says, stopping a few steps below where the Doctor’s perched. “Everything all right with you?” he tosses back.
“Yep,” the Doctor muses, staring out past Jack and at the other platforms. “I’m doing rather well, I think.”
Jack shoves his hands in the pocket of the coat, looking almost like a guilty little boy for the briefest of moments. “Edgar mentioned that the last time you were here you were with a blonde…” he trails off, no doubt to let the Doctor’s mind fill in the rest of the blanks.
“Yeah, I took Rose here once. Years ago now, really,” he says, glancing behind him at the rows of books on this specific platform. No regrets taking her here, that’s for sure, especially with what came out of this. Unknowingly that soft smile crosses his face again, making Jack wonder what exactly the Time Lord’s thinking. “Libraries weren’t really her thing,” he continues.
Without much warning, the stairway begins to rattle beneath them, making Jack grab onto the banister and the Doctor leap to his feet. “What was that?” the Doctor asks, looking over the railing and seeing the confusion and panic from the people rushing around the platforms below them.
“No idea, but whatever it was can’t be good.” From somewhere off in the distance they hear a creaking, followed by something that sounds like the sharp tinkle of breaking glass. Jack looks over at the Doctor, eyebrow arched. “You can’t go anywhere without attracting trouble, can you?”
“This has absolutely nothing to do with me,” the Doctor frowns. “Suppose it can’t hurt to take a look while we’re here though. Don’t want another Alexandria Library to burn to the ground, do we?” The two men trade a look, nod at each other, and then run down the stairway towards the building commotion, leaving the platform full of books behind them.
More to come soon, I promise. :)