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. "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: Alas, no.
Author's Notes: Many many thanks to galadriella1 for her beta job and brilliant britpicking, which is an education in and of itself, and, as always, to Paige for being my sounding board with this epic monster. Prior knowledge of the Sonnets stories and the previous parts of Mysterious Ways can't hurt, and all of them can be found here. More author's notes after the cut, because they're a little more rambly this time.
a/n: So after careful consideration, I've come to the conclusion that after 'The Unicorn and the Wasp', this series diverges from the show and goes a bit AU. From all I've heard about the upcoming episodes, there's no way I can make them fit into this world (and maybe a touch of bitterness that they stole my semi-similar library and mysterious book idea, but that's neither here nor there). Which is why I'm rushing this post as well - two updates in a week, something I rarely do. ;) Enjoy, and any and all comments welcome.
Five: “It’s a god awful small affair to the girl with the mousy hair…”
- David Bowie, Life on Mars
The three girls hurtle down the long escalator at the Logan Airport station, bags and backpacks flying about them with no care for the disgruntled crowd around them. The train station in question is a modern and sleek structure, designed to welcome all to the airport with a quiet dignity that is currently being shattered by this discombobulated party.
“Which bus is it?” Rose calls out as they stumble off the escalator and onto the floor.
“Eighty…something,” Priya hollers back, attempting to get both wheels of her suitcase back on the ground again as she struggles to keep her pocketbook from falling off.
“They’re all eighty-something,” she grunts, grabbing Gemma by the strap of her oversized rucksack and pointing her in the direction of the doors leading to the buses.
“Actually, the screen there says that it’s thirty-three,” Gemma points out, making the two women pause and stare at the monitors.
“Right, let’s catch that bus and get moving,” Rose nods. Luckily the bus is waiting outside, and within seconds of them getting on it’s off and moving for the main airport terminal.
Priya slouches back against the window, bags propped on her lap, and she releases a happy sigh. “Finally free. Two glorious weeks of vacation ahead of me and I don’t even have to think about that bloody hospital once.”
Rose smiles at her and takes the seat next to her. “It is a lovely feeling, isn’t it?”
She nods. “God yes. Something we don’t get enough of these days, that’s for sure.” She looks over at Rose, who still has that soft sort of smile on her face. “What about you? I know you said that your job is stingy with vacation days.”
The grin wavers just slightly. “Well…” she hesitates for a moment, saved by Priya’s groan of exasperation.
“You got fired again, didn’t you?” she says.
“No,” Rose insists with an upraised finger. “I quit. Can you honestly see me serving out coffee at five in the morning anyway?”
“No, but that’s not the point.” Priya leans in close so that she can barely be heard over the loud engine. “How the hell are you paying for this trip? I know we don’t have to pay for lodgings but those plane tickets weren’t cheap.”
“I sold some of my mum’s good jewellery,” Rose whispers back. “She never wore the stuff, and I know that my mum would rather us be using the things to be happy instead of collecting dust in a box somewhere.” It was true that Jackie never wore the gaudy but expensive jewels that the alternate Jackie favoured, so Rose didn’t feel at all bad pawning it off in order to fund their travels. The important things, her and Pete’s wedding rings, held the place of honor around Rose’s neck right next to her TARDIS key tucked away safely under her shirt, and those things she was never going to let go of.
“Yeah, but you can’t live off of jewellery forever,” Priya insists. “Why not just find another job at a shop or a restaurant and work there until you find something a little better paying?”
Rose glances over at Gemma, who’s busy playing with the portable video game setup brought along for entertainment purposes. “I’ll tell you on the plane,” she whispers, not taking her eyes off of her sister.
It’s not until the red-eye flight is well under way and Gemma is absorbed in whatever family friendly movie the airline has decided to show them that Rose unbuckles her seatbelt and moves across to the middle aisle. She slides into an empty seat next to Priya, who puts down her book and looks at her expectantly. “So?” she asks, although not unkindly. “What’s the story?”
Rose sighs and curls up, tucking her legs under her. “How much did I tell you about what was going on before we ended up in Boston? I don’t quite remember.”
“I don’t remember much either, and probably for the same reason,” Priya says, smirking slightly and remembering the long nights spent around bottles of wine talking almost until the sun came up. “I do know you said you had been travelling for a while though.”
“Yeah, since I was nineteen,” Rose nods, chewing idly on a thumbnail. “Before Gemma was born, actually.”
“So how old are you really then? You never gave us a number and we thought it was a big joke because why does someone who looks like she’s twenty have to hide her age?”
Rose winces just a bit and shoots her a sideways glance. “Would it be really bad if I told you I kind of forgot exactly how old I am? That’s not the point though. The point is, I worked in a shop ages ago, and I used to think it was all I was ever going to do, that, go home, eat chips, watch telly, marry my steady boyfriend, and go to sleep.
“But then I started travelling and saw just what was out there waiting for me.” Her eyes grow wistful and distant, staring off into the gloom of the plane. “Met the love of my life, went travelling with him.”
“I think you mentioned something about that once before that as well,” Priya nods, clutching convulsively at her armrest as the plane hits an air pocket. “As an explanation as to why the date with that lovely intern from the hospital I set you up with ended with you sneaking out the bathroom window.”
Rose turns to Priya, giving her a look that seems to penetrate all the way through. “Even if I live for another three thousand years I’ll always love him. He wasn’t perfect, not by far, but I loved him so much that no man I meet now will ever measure up to him. I still love him, really, and I feel…lucky, and honored, I guess, that I had that love in my life at least once. If I don’t find it again and I end up dying alone three thousand years from now, I’ll remember that, and him, and be content.” She shakes her head, pulling loose from memories of the Doctor once more and back to the present, focusing on the feel of the air pressure of the plane, the movement through the sky, and the whir of the engines. “But that’s not the point. What is the point is that he showed me the wide world that’s out there for us to explore.
“Even when we ended up…going our separate ways--” she can’t bear to tell her friend the truth about their separation. Yes, it’s been years hence and though she’s managed to survive and have a relatively fantastic life thus far, she feels the tenuous string that her emotions are being held in by. Remembering that scene on the beach and knowing that ten years later she’s still searching for a way back to him might just break her irreparably right now, and she can’t afford that. She has to stay focused… “I got a job that took me all over as well. I was defending the Earth, something that he taught me, keeping the planet safe.”
“So he was an environmentalist?” Priya asks, pulling the cheap and rough airplane blanket up around her shoulders.
“Sort of like that,” Rose says, not willing to get into all of the complexities that made up the Doctor right then and there. She’d need a lot more than a cross-Atlantic flight to London to have enough time to explain him. “And then…then my parents died, and it was up to me to take care of Gemma.” It was a simplified version of the story; as much as she loves her friend, how could she possibly understand the whole parallel universe bit? Although maybe she shouldn’t doubt her, this was the girl who had ended up on the moon once. “So I went from travelling and defending the earth to a mummy substitute, and as I’m sure you’ve figured out I’m not exactly a candidate for parent of the year. Tried to take Gemma travelling, use our inheritance to show her all of the wonders, but I pushed her too hard. I realize that now, but I didn’t at the time. Ended up in Boston, tried to get a normal job, met you guys, and the rest is history.”
She smiles, looking over at her friend again. “I don’t regret it, not any of it. But to go through all of that and then land back working in a shop yet again…no, it’s not going to happen. I’ll hold out for something better, but don’t expect me to go out and get the first thing that comes my way just for money.” A vague and fuzzy thought passes through her head, that ages ago the Doctor had mentioned U.N.I.T and how they were alien experts. Maybe she should check to see if they were hiring…
Instead of coming out with the expected platitudes for the supposed hardships of her life, Priya surprises her pleasantly, knowing just what her friend needs more. “You’re too smart to work in a store for the rest of your life anyway, and you know it,” she says, leaning over to wrap an arm around her friend’s shoulders and giving her a quick squeeze.
“Yeah, but I can’t exactly put my varied and random skills on a CV, can I?” Rose grins, leaning her head against Priya’s arm.
“Maybe when we get back I can take a look at what MGH has posted for employment opportunities,” Priya offers. “It won’t be the most exciting of places to work, but it’ll be better than Starbucks.”
“Can’t hurt,” Rose agrees. “However, I don’t want to think about it right now. I’ll deal with it when our lovely Venetian vacation is done with.”
“Sounds like a fantastic plan. Now, how about seeing if we can’t purchase some crap overpriced wine from this flying tin can? I need something to anesthetize me if I’m going to make it through this flight without tearing all of my hair or the stuffing out of this seat back here,” Priya grumbles as Rose grins wider and hits the call for service button.
* * *
They’ve been in London for a couple of days now, and not for the first time in that short period does Rose feel like an alien in the place she used to call home. With the exception of one brief trip a year and a half ago, it’s been over a decade since she’s visited this London. As soon as she steps out of Priya’s small and bustling family home she feels like something’s just slightly off in the air. It doesn’t take long to figure out yet again that London hasn’t changed, but she has.
She stares up and down the street from her perch on the brick wall outside Priya’s house and bites her lip in thought. Priya had taken Gemma shopping to find a pair of wings – she’d found a dress in a dance shop back in Boston and had deemed it nearly perfect. All it needed to complete the look was a set of fairy wings, and Priya claimed to know the perfect place to get them. Right next to Henrik’s department store, she said, not noticing the sudden widening of Gemma’s eyes. The little girl wasn’t at all surprised when Rose begged off shopping due to a sudden migraine.
Now her brain is whirring though, and her feet are itching to move. Not far, just enough to satisfy the curiosity. Rose pushes herself off the wall and jogs over to the bus stop.
A short ride and a few route changes later she hops off the bus right at the stop for the Powell Estate. It’s a typical early March day, all blustery wind and chilled air, and for a second she feels as if she’s back in school, huddling at the stop with her mates for warmth as they wait for the bus to cart them away to yet another day at school. She smiles to herself and wanders further into the maze of buildings.
There’s no purpose to this trip down memory lane, but it’s interesting to see where she came from through these new eyes. The estate still looks the same as it ever did, brick and concrete buildings looking a bit dour, with the people inside them providing all the life needed and more. Rose shoves her hands in her coat pockets and looks over at Bucknall House. Yes, there are fond memories of this place. Who’d have ever thought that little Rose Tyler would manage to escape this place and make a totally different life for herself? Her neighbours sure didn’t. Hell, neither did she back at the beginning.
She spins around and looks down the gap between two buildings. Her feet soon follow, and she finds herself looking at a place where the TARDIS once stood. She had landed right on this spot when they got back from her first trip, a year after he’d meant to bring her back. Talk about ‘oops’. No regrets though, Rose thinks with a smile as she scuffs her feet around a square area where she imagines she can see the outline of the TARDIS. Eventually, she leans back against the brick wall and watches the life swarming in and out of the estate.
No one recognizes her – the sunglasses and brunette dye job help with that – but she knows them. She sees someone who worked in a nearby market, a young woman who looks like someone she went to school with, and her mother’s friend Bev, rushing up a flight of stairs to God only knows where. Life has moved on here, and no one seems to miss the Tylers at all. It’s a bit weird, realizing that a place that had been home to her for nineteen years doesn’t even seem to bear the slightest trace of her anymore. The other universe hadn’t been home at all, and now this one had seemed to abandon her in its trek into the future. Bit disheartening, really.
Her next stop is the concrete court on the outskirt of the estate, where she had seen the words ‘Bad Wolf’ scrawled in chalk on the pavement. She pauses as she mulls over those words. They wouldn’t be as much of a puzzle to her if that had been the last time she’d seen them, because that would mean her job would have been done. Her job was done – she’d opened up the heart of the TARDIS, got back to the Doctor, and he was safe from the Daleks. But that wasn’t the last. Even years later they keep popping up, still managing to haunt her a bit, making wonder just what’s going on. Rose runs her knuckles over her right bicep, staring at the ‘Bad Wolf’ that’s still on the wall surrounding the court.
There’s a slight hiss off to one side of her, and she looks over to find a few young boys there, none of them more than ten years old at the most, scrawling random patterns on another wall with a can of spray paint. The sight of it gives her an idea. It’s all about the writing, isn’t it, she thinks as she smirks to herself.
“Oi, can I borrow that for two seconds?” she asks the boys as she trots over to them.
The boy in possession of the spray can hides it behind his back. “Borrow what?”
“Oh, come on,” Rose whinges. “Don’t worry, I’m not gonna call the police on you, and you’ll get the paint back in a minute.”
“All right.” The boy reluctantly hands it over and Rose smiles as she feels the cool cylinder in her hand. She tosses it up and down a few times, then turns tail and runs to the other side of the court, shaking the paint as she does so. It’s nearly an established fact in her mind that the Doctor doesn’t look back or revisit the past deliberately. On the off chance though that he wanders back into the life of the Powell Estate one day, she wants to leave him a message.
Her Gallifreyan handwriting is nowhere near as smooth or as sleek as the Doctor’s is, but it’s all her own. Soon, scrawled on the wall untidily next to the old words of ‘Bad Wolf’ is a quick and concise message in Gallifreyan: ‘Rose Was Here’. A bit immature, but as she backs away from it she smiles widely, thinking that it’s just perfect.
“Cheers, mate!” she calls, tossing the cylinder back to the boy as she leaves the court and makes her way back to the bus stop. That was enough of a visit into the past for today, now it was time for the future.
When she arrives back at Priya’s home she is met by an armful of giggling Gemma. Her sister spins around and shows off the wings she’s found, black nylon butterfly shaped wings dusted with a scattering of iridescent glitter. “What do you think?” she asks, backing away and twirling around and showing off right there in the hallway.
It’s not the best put together look, the jeans, tattered trainers, and wings don’t exactly blend, but Rose can easily see that they’ll work with the dress she’s picked out. “I think they’re brilliant,” she says, running a hand along the top edge of the wing and feeling the thin metal frame under her hands.
“I agree,” Gemma says, dancing away from Rose and spinning around once more.
“Me too,” Priya says, leaning over the stairway banister. “The wings are absolutely smashing, Gem.”
“Still doesn’t answer the question though what your dear sister Mari’s going to do about her costume.” Priya gives Rose an arch look, at which Rose just nods and crosses her arms over her chest.
“Oh, don’t worry, I’ve got an idea. You remember that store your Mum took us to yesterday?” she asks, and Priya nods affirmatively. “We’re going to have to go back there. I spotted something perfect…”
Oh, by any chance is anyone out there good at making icons? I'd love to have a specialized icon for the Sonnets series, but anyone who knows me will tell you that my artistic skills are a bit lacking and I should stick to writing instead...*g*