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." Has gone totally AU after 'The Unicorn and the Wasp', so is safe for people avoiding spoilers for the end of s4.
Disclaimer: Alas, no.
Author's Notes: Things are getting closer and closer...although I apologize in advance for the cliffhanger. This one's a little worse than the previous one. ;)
My hearty thanks to the usual suspects, paiger1218, galadriella1, and solielle, plus a new name: deepdarkness, who planted an idea in my head that wouldn't go away, and the first part of this chapter is the result. Prior knowledge of the Sonnets stories and the previous parts of Mysterious Ways is probably necessary by this point, and all of them can be found here.
Thanks for reading!
All the girls are rowing there
Gently down the stream
In a dream I saw you there
On Thimble Island.
- ‘Thimble Island’, Rasputina
A voice follows her as she storms up the stairs, with Gemma trailing in her wake. “Mari, wait!” the voice calls out, making her draw to a stop in the upstairs hall that overlooks the courtyard. She turns around to see yet another one of Louise’s cousins chasing after her, although she knows that this is one of the nice ones. Neil – Aneillo, really, but he’s spent so much time in the English speaking world it’s far easier to use the Anglicised version of it – comes to a halt a few feet away, panting for air.
“What’s up?” Rose asks, crossing her arms over her chest.
(Gemma giggles to herself and imagines that she can see honest to goodness smoke coming out of Rose’s ears. At least her face has returned to a normal colour)
He shrugs, leaning over to brace his palms on his knees as he tries to catch his breath. “Just wanted to apologize for what went on down there,” he says, his English only slightly accented. “They’re not normal on a good day, so I can only wonder what the hell’s going on in her head right now.”
Unlike the lot downstairs, Neil is one of the good ones, a down to earth soul with a wicked sense of humor, and a bit of a charmer as well. Apparently he had made somewhat of a name for himself at his young age in the movie industry as a director due to a few indie flicks on the natures of love, hate, good, evil, and all of that stuff, but in this scenario he’s just an good-looking bloke in his early thirties wearing jeans and a t-shirt with some retro video game on it. So of course, he’s lumped in with Louise and the rest of the black sheep of the family.
“S’okay,” Rose sighs. “Believe it or not, I’ve dealt with worse.”
“I’ve no doubt of that,” Neil agrees, straightening up and brushing his longish black hair out of his eyes. “However, Nonna sent me up here to apologize about them, and she’s not a lady you want to cross.”
“Well, let her know I appreciate the thought.” She reaches out and grabs onto Gemma’s shoulder. “However I think we two might need a little time to decompress and regain some courage before we venture downstairs tonight,” she continues, resisting the urge to rub at her temples.
“Certainly.” Some more angry voices filter up from the grand staircase, and this time Rose does groan. She recognizes those voices all too well. “Go on,” Neil says, tilting his head. “I’ll hold off the angry mob.” Rose just nods back and hustles Gemma up the stairs to the next floor.
“He likes you,” Gemma whispers naughtily as they climb the next staircase.
“No he doesn’t,” Rose grimaces, practically pushing Gemma up the steps with a hand on her back.
“Yes he does,” Gemma sing-songs.
“No, seriously, he doesn’t. You didn’t see him at dinner the other night. He was practically glued to Priya’s side. Still,” Rose muses, “at least it proves that Louise has some decent relatives out there. Unlike that demon downstairs,” she finishes, her face falling into a deep scowl.
“You were so gonna smack her one,” Gemma finally giggles as Rose slams the door to their room shut behind them.
“Bloody cow,” Rose mutters as she sits down on the bed and dashes a hand back through her hair. “How can Lou be related to that witch?”
Gemma hops onto the bed, cuddling up to Rose’s side. “I think the cow married into the family.”
Rose looks around the guest room they’ve been put in, an elegantly Spartan room with simple and classic bed coverings that fits very well in this old palace. “You’d think that people who live in a place like this would have better taste, although I suppose that’s giving them too much credit.” Sometimes she forgets that once upon a time she lived in a mansion as well, even if it was only for a short time in her life. It never really felt like home though, even with the presence of her mum, Gemma, and Pete.
“Thank you for sticking up for me,” Gemma says, hugging Rose around the waist.
“Anytime,” Rose grins down at her, wrapping an arm around her shoulders and pulling her close. “It’s chapter one in the big sister’s manual, after all – sisters have to stick up for each other.”
Gemma sighs softly, taking a few more seconds of comfort where she can get it. But then she perks up a bit, the spirit coming back to her a bit, and she slides off the bed. “So d’you think we can start getting ready for the party?” she asks, picking up her sparkly black wings and twirling them over her head a few times.
“I suppose so,” Rose responds. She doesn’t know just how much time was spent dealing with Louise’s family – she lost track after the first twenty minutes of defending her sister, herself, and her family. She recalls seeing Louise’s grandmother sneaking into the oversized pantry at one point, rolling her eyes at her progeny’s actions and giving Rose sympathetic glances all the while. “Besides, that’s chapter four in the manual,” she says, moving over to where her garment bag is hanging from the wardrobe door.
“Getting ready for a big party together,” Rose grins, tongue poking through her teeth as she unzips the bag, revealing her dress.
The sari isn’t much a sari yet as it is a length of sheer black silk georgette fabric that crinkles against her fingertips as she strokes it. There’s a small halter top and under skirt in a heavier black silk that are meant to be worn under the big swath of fabric, but they’re really not the important part of the costume. She traces the embroidery on the sari, her lips twisting just slightly. There’s something about the arcing silver and gold swirls and whirls that reminds her very much of the handwriting that she carries with her, and as soon as she saw it she knew that this would be the perfect thing to wear.
The fabric is so sheer that she can see her fingers through it, as if there’s a veil covering her hand. She flattens her palm against it and wiggles her fingers, letting the writing on her left palm show through the veil. “Huh,” she muses.
“What?” Gemma asks, stopping in her struggle to get the wings on over her hoodie.
Rose shakes her head, squinting at her palm. “Nothing really. Just thinking – out of all the writing, this is the only one I have absolutely no clue about what it says.”
Rose twists her palm, showing it to Gemma through the veil of the silk fabric. “The Doctor wouldn’t tell me what it said, just that it was a gift and I should keep it safe.” She returns her gaze to the design, chewing on her lower lip as her mind wanders just a bit. She closes her fingers around her palm, catching some of the gold and silver embroidery in the process. It’s a bit rough against her fingertips, but that sheer fabric and its decorations really highlight the writing scrawled across the front and back of her hand.
“Uh oh,” Gemma sighs. “I know that look. You always get it when you get an idea that may or may not be a good one.”
“Well it’s nothing bad,” Rose muses, tapping her finger against the slight smirk on her lips. “Just…declaring my allegiances, so to speak.” She pulls her necklace over her head, leaving the chain with the TARDIS key and her parents’ wedding rings on the dresser. Quick as anything she changes into the black halter top. The simple design leaves most of her back bare save for a few strips to tie things into place. She then rummages around in one of their suitcases, eventually finding a makeup bag filled with various substances to decorate the body. Eventually she comes up with a squeeze bottle filled with sparkly gold glitter gel, and hands it to Gemma.
“There,” she says, spinning on the spot and pointing to the design that is spiraling upward from the small of her back, the only one visible back there at the moment. “Trace that one out with the glitter.”
Gemma, being used to her sister’s odd quirks by now, just shrugs and sits on the bed, pulling Rose over by the belt loops on her jeans. “So what’s this one say?” she asks as she carefully begins to trace over the intricate and complicated Gallifreyan words.
“It’s Shakespeare,” Rose says, trying not to squirm as the clammy gel glides over her skin. “One of the poems.” Gemma makes a noise behind her, obviously expressing her total dislike of the concept of poetry and making Rose laugh. “It’s not bad, I promise. The Doctor’s the true fan though.” She closes her eyes and exhales, remembering and reciting a fragment of the sonnet. “It is an ever-fixéd mark/that looks on tempests and is never shaken/It is the star to every wand’ring bark/Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.”
“I don’t get it,” Gemma says bluntly, placing a palm on Rose’s waist to keep steady.
“Well, that’s not the whole thing. Let’s just say this, Shakespeare knew an awful lot about what goes on in peoples’ hearts.”
“Oh, great,” Gemma mutters. “Are you going to spend the whole night as a mopey, lovesick idiot again? I hate it when you get like that.”
Rose laughs again, making Gemma pinch her on the side to keep her still. “Not hardly. I’m in a good mood today, despite what happened downstairs. Besides,” she gazes out the window, seeing the sunlight filter in through pale curtains, “I’ve had the strange feeling all of a sudden that we’re getting rather close.”
“Close to what?”
“Something.” She doesn’t want to elaborate, doesn’t want to get her hopes up. But right now there’s a constant part of her that is staring up at the stars and can sense the storm approaching from the distance. There’s that tiny little hope brewing deep inside her heart that maybe, just maybe, the long years of searching will soon be over.
Rose’s mobile rings, shattering the stillness and making Gemma’s hand skip a bit against her back. “You done?” Rose asks hurriedly, glancing back over her shoulder.
“I am now.”
She rushes forward and snags the phone from the top of the bureau, where she’d thrown it right before the oh-so-fun confrontation with Lou’s relatives.
“Marion, where the hell are you?” Louise’s voice crackles through the phone. “It’s five thirty, you were supposed to be in my room half an hour ago!”
“Shit,” Rose mutters, spinning around until she finds the one lone digital clock in the room (hiding behind the lamp on the night table, as if it were scared of the throw pillows). “Give us two minutes and we’ll be there.” She clicks off the phone and turns to Gemma, who is already getting her kit together for the twenty-foot walk down the hallway. “My fault, I lost track of time,” Rose mumbles, scooping the garment bag up in one arm, the makeup, hair supplies, and accessories bags in the other.
“Haven’t we run enough this trip?” Gemma grumbles as Rose pushes her down the hall. One of her slippers falls off the stack in her arms, and without stopping Rose scoops it up and tosses it into one of her own bags. She bumps the door to Louise’s room open with her hip.
“You can never have too much running,” she says, motioning Gemma inside. She pauses herself then, taking in the rather chaotic scene before her. Lou is sitting on the window seat dressed in a bathrobe, a nail polish wand in one hand aimed relatively in the direction of her toes, a fan in the other waving at the other foot to dry said polish, and a cigarette dangling out of her mouth. Priya’s holding onto the dresser for dear life as an attractive black woman pulls at the strings of the undergarments required for her traditional eighteenth century gown. The look on Priya’s face screams ‘get me out of this bloody contraption’, while the woman doing the lacing looks rather apologetic. Louise’s younger sisters are in the scene as well – Anna’s on the bed with needles and thread hanging out of her mouth, putting the final touches on the long skirt that she’s already wearing. Bridget’s camped out in front of the mirror and is actively rimming her eyes with dark eyeliner, with the rest of her makeup scattered in puddles around her. Sitting on the settee is a red-headed woman, a little older than herself possibly, with her hair setting in curlers and flipping through a magazine. Out of all of them she seems the least fussed, and is making a face of incredulity at whatever she’s reading in the tabloid. Gemma heads over to the settee herself and sits down on it next to the woman, dropping her costume and wings onto the floor. Not quite sure where to start, Rose latches onto one thing and just decides to start talking. “Lou, I thought you quit smoking,” she says, a slight accusatory tone in her voice.
Louise drops the fan and pulls the cigarette from her mouth, blowing a stream of smoke out the open window. “I did. So did my mom but where do you think I got these from?”
“It’s true,” Anna pipes up, speaking around the needles clenched in her teeth. “Mom fell off the wagon and has been smoking like a chimney since we got here. Dad’s family has a tendency to do that to her, and, well, everyone always says that Lou and Mom are awfully alike.”
“God help ya,” Priya jokes, then winces. “Ow! That bloody hurts!”
“Sorry,” the woman behind her says, putting a little slack into the strings.
“Looks like we got some new additions,” Rose continues, dropping her own bags on the bed and flopping down next to them.
Priya tosses her head backwards. “This one behind me, who I suspect is getting some sadistic pleasure out of yanking my strings, is Dr. Martha Jones. We went to med school together. And the other is Martha’s friend – “
“Donna Noble,” the redhead cuts Priya off as she puts down her tabloid and smiles in Rose’s direction. “And you are?”
“Marion McCrimmon,” she replies, the alias falling off her tongue far too easily. She doesn’t like that habit. “That’s my little sister Gemma sitting next to you.” Gemma just waves in their direction, her wings are far too distracting at the moment.
“Lovely to meet you,” Donna nods.
Bridget turns around, her black hair teased to extraordinary lengths, leaving her looking like she’d decided to shove a fork in an electrical socket. “Gemma, did Luca ever apologize for pushing you in the canal?”
Gemma drops the wings and crosses her arms over her chest, a pout blossoming on her face. “No. The jerk.”
“What did you end up doing to him?” Priya asks, her corset finally laced up and giving her an oddly straight-backed posture.
Gemma tilts her head from side to side, obviously stalling, at least in Rose’s eyes. Eventually Gemma sighs and drops her arms. “I smacked him in the face. He deserved it, especially after teasing me that it looked like I’d wet myself, which wasn’t true!”
Donna nods in Gemma’s direction. “Girl after my own heart here.”
Gemma shrugs. “When Mum was alive she would have done the exact same thing.”
“It’s true,” Rose chimes in. “Mum really didn’t care who you were, how powerful you were, if you were the bleedin’ Prime Minister or not, if you deserved a slap, you were going to get one.” She quirks her lips in a slight grin, thinking of the most infamous slap of all. Of course, not knowing the difference between twelve hours and twelve months probably merited a lot worse than just a slap round the face. The Doctor probably hadn’t realized just how easy he’d made out in that instance.
“God, that sounds like my mum,” Martha says, a grin crossing her face. “Smacked a guy once right on the steps outside a building once in full view of half the world.” She adjusts Priya’s corset briefly, making sure it all lies straight. “So how’d you meet this degenerate here?” she asks in Rose’s direction with a teasing jab at Priya’s back.
“I am not a degenerate,” Priya fires back, jerking away and tugging at her corset herself.
“I’m not going to mention how many times you showed up to hospital just a bit hung over,” Martha says with a wink.
“That’s stress relief, that is.”
Rose just giggles at their antics. “Actually, Lou and I met first. We were both temping – oh where were we again?”
“Somewhere in the Prudential building. Beyond that it’s a bit of a blank; can’t tell you how many places we worked at then,” Lou shrugs, stubbing out her cigarette in a makeshift ashtray. “If I recall right we were taking just about every job the agency was offering us.”
“Sounds about right,” Rose nods. Those first few months in Boston were rough on her, with all of the things that had to be done – finding a flat for the two of them, getting Gemma into a public school, the bitterly cold weather that was beginning to sweep through the streets, and trying to find a job when her history and papers were spotty enough that if you poked in the right place the entire thing would collapse underneath their own weight. Then she met Louise and Priya, and finally it seemed that the world was getting back on its axis. “So yeah, I met Lou first, then I got to know Pree from there, and the rest is history, I guess.”
“See? Super temps. We’re everywhere,” Donna says, giving Martha a knowing glance. The other woman snickers slightly, there’s an obvious private joke there.
“But speaking of Pree,” Rose continues, sliding off the bed, “You said you were going to help me get into this sari.” She pulls the outfit from the bags and holds it up, waving the pieces about like a dark and glittery flag.
“Put the under skirt on and we’ll work from there,” Priya replies as she attempts to bend over in the corset to grab part of her costume.
As she darts behind a folding screen to change she hears Gemma’s voice rise above the clamor. “You’ve got purple nail polish. That is too cool.”
“Thanks,” Donna answers back. “Do you want to use some for tonight?”
“Could I? It’d really match my outfit.”
“Put the outfit on first!” Rose hollers, hoping to get her attention. “And don’t forget the leggings!”
“Yes, Mum,” Gemma calls back sarcastically.
Once the simple black underskirt is tied on, Rose runs back out, tossing the sari in Priya’s direction. “Here you go. Work your magic.”
“What’d you do on your back there?” Priya asks, tapping a finger against the gold glitter as she begins to wrap the fabric around Rose’s hips.
“Thought it’d match the sari,” Rose shrugs, feigning indifference.
Eventually all of the girls are in their costumes, makeup done prettily, masks fastened to their heads, and a flurry of skirts in purple, green, silver, black, gold and pink, brown, and more. It takes time, but it’s worth it, and when Rose gives herself a quick glance in the mirror she likes what she sees. Part of her looks alien, draped in gauzy black fabric that hides some skin and exposes others, with the gold and black mask covering her eyes and swooping feathers up above her head, and yet part of her looks more familiar than it ever has. She twists and glances over her shoulder at the sonnet on her back, and smiles.
“Shit!” Louise calls out, strapping on a modern metal watch that clashes very much with her dress, strapless, mint green with black polka dots and a black cummerbund, flaring out to land at her knees. “Ten after seven, we’ve got to move, ladies! They wanted us out by the water entrance ten minutes ago!”
“Running again,” Gemma grumbles as they’re hustled out the door and down the hallway, heading for the stairs. It’s halfway down the utility stairway to the ground floor that a wave of dizziness hits Rose, making her feet slip on the marble. Her vision cuts out, and all of a sudden the scene changes.