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.
a/n: Many, many, many thanks to anepidemic and earlgreytea for doing the beta on the next few parts of this. They've helped me out so much, and it's always appreciated. And, as always, to Paige, for putting up with my insane rambles about this. Love ya, hon.
Contrary to what the chapter title says, this piece does not contain the reunion. It's just a title I thought was fitting. You can hear this piece here. Please don't shoot me. ;)
Previous parts of Mysterious Ways and the rest of the Sonnetsverse found here.
Thanks for reading!
Ten: The Arrival and the Reunion
Rather carelessly the Doctor knots the bow tie around his neck (if he had any idea as to what was going to be occurring later on this evening, maybe he would have paid a little more attention to detail). He sighs to himself and tugs at the coat of his tuxedo, straightening out the lines. “Every time,” he mutters to his reflection in the wardrobe room mirror. “Every time I wear this, something bad happens.”
A passing thought flies by, and he thinks that maybe he could be a little safer and grab one of the outfits his previous incarnations used to wear. Surely one of them would make an ideal costume, wouldn’t they? But he shakes his head and shoves the idea back. If anything went wrong tonight-not that he was expecting anything to go wrong but he never knew with the sort of life he had-the tux would be capable of handling anything thrown at it.
He quickly glances down at his black trainers, seeing that they’re tied on tightly, and nods to himself. Now or never. The Doctor makes his way back through the inner passages of the TARDIS, not stopping until he’s outside the front door with his feet standing on Venetian cobblestones. ‘You know,’ he thinks, his brain wandering back inside to where that mysterious little book is still stashed in its shelf in the console, ‘Martha and Donna really should be all right. We’re in their time, on Earth, and Martha’s got friends there. They’ll be perfectly fine.’
But as the Doctor turns around to head back inside, the door to the TARDIS promptly slams itself shut on him. He purses his lips and shoots a glare at the glass windows in front of his face. “Right,” he says, a nasty feeling settling in the pit of his stomach. He jiggles the handle and, unsurprisingly, finds it locked. “Come on,” he chides the TARDIS in one of the sternest voices he can muster. “Let me back in.”
The image he gets in his head in response is one of a giant hand pointing in the direction of the palazzo, and the word ‘GO’ practically rings in his skull.
(All right, maybe she has to do just one more thing for her stubborn Time Lord…)
“No,” he fires back, crossing his arms over his chest.
The image shows itself even stronger than before, implying with great certainty that he won’t be let back into the TARDIS’s hallowed halls until he at least makes an appearance at the party.
“Look, I’m sure Martha and Donna appreciate your looking out for their welfare by wanting me there, but honestly, there’s a better chance of nothing happening if I’m not there,” the Doctor says, bringing up the second point in his argument. Still, the door doesn’t budge, and he sighs heavily.
“Can I at least go back in to get the book?” he asks, knowing that when his ship is in one of these moods there’s no arguing with her. You were lucky not to get your hand burned off while navigating when she was like this, and frankly he didn’t feel like risking his rather great hair (if he did say so himself) at the moment.
The hand is back in his head again, and this time he can practically feel the shoving at his back pushing him in the right direction. The Doctor huffs lightly; he couldn’t find any better proof than this that his ship was most definitely a female. He waggles his index finger at the door. “When I get back – yes, from the party – you and I are going to have to have a long chat about this.” With that he turns and walks off down the street, the lamps holding back the evening darkness.
The streets of Venice are a twisted maze on a good day, but on this night it seems that around every corner is lurking something unknown, whether it be a giant (a man on stilts dressed in bright satins and a papier-mâché mask), or an androgyne (a canoodling couple so tied up in each other that it’s impossible to tell where one ends or the other begins); the feeling of walking somewhere unknown is pronounced. When it comes down to it, really, Earth is just as alien as the rest of them, the Doctor thinks, a small smile on his face.
After two wrong turns and an encounter with a couple of disgruntled carabinieri he finds himself at the back entrance of the palazzo. It’s apparent that most of the guests, the ones who are there to see and be seen, are taking the water entrance at the front. That wasn’t his sort of style, however, and so he joins the short queue waiting to get in through the utilitarian wooden door.
“Your invitation, signore?” a man dressed in the typical garb of an eighteenth century footman asks him as he reaches the door. The Doctor pats himself down, finally finding the invitation stashed in the inside pocket of the tuxedo jacket.
“Here you go,” he says, giving the footman a winning grin. Yes, he was invited, but there’s a part of him that still feels like he needs to sneak into the place.
The footman takes the invitation and looks it over, nodding a couple of times to himself. When he hands the invitation back the Doctor takes it and begins to walk through the doors; however he’s stopped by the footman once more. “What now?” he sighs.
“Your mask, signore?” the footman says, an expectant look on his face.
The Doctor pauses for a brief second – he’d totally forgotten about that part of the invite. “You know, I don’t think a mask is necessary,” he says. “No one here knows me so there’s no reason to hide my face.”
The footman shakes his head, and reaches into a large basket on a stool next to him. “No mask, no entry,” he mutters, holding out a black satin eye mask. The Doctor arches an eyebrow at him. He’s joking, right? He crosses his arms over his chest and proceeds to give the footman his best glare.
However, the footman isn’t fazed, and he just nods his head towards one corner. Without warning, and with the stealth of a giant cat, one of those cats the Doctor really doesn’t like, a security guard walks over to them, hand clutching something ominous at his side. The Doctor bites his lip, holding his tongue back. It’s not worth it to get into a fight just over a silly piece of satin, especially considering that Donna might forcibly regenerate him if he doesn’t make it through those doors. “Fine,” he groans, plucking the mask from the footman’s hand. He puts it over his face and snaps the elastic around the back of his head, leaving his hair in a state of disarray that almost seems to defy gravity a bit. With a nod and a slightly smarmy look, the footman moves to the side and waves the Doctor in.
“Benvenuto a Carnevale,” the footman calls after him, his words getting lost in the music that’s beginning to play. The music just adds to the atmosphere, and the Doctor has to admit that whoever designed the theme for this party did one hell of a job with it. The arches that surround three sides of the courtyard are draped with swags of shimmery multicolored and embroidered fabric, giving the place the feeling of being inside an oversized tent rather than a Renaissance palace. There are lamps and torches set up around the courtyard floor, scattered here and there, and somehow they manage to look more like candles than just boring old electric lights. The poles that the lamps and torches are mounted on are wrapped in ivy, trailing up the wires and overflowing into plant pots and small fountains nearby. There are draped tables set up all around, both under overhangs and in the centre of the courtyard, with the stars and the night air shining above them.
“Very nice,” he murmurs. Opposite him, on the far side of the courtyard, he can see the entrance with the water beyond it. More lights are spilling from that doorway, and it’s obvious that most of the people are congregating around there still. For a moment he wonders if he should go out there, mingle with the crowd, but then shakes his head and turns to the bar. As he’s being served his lime and soda, he sees Martha steal in through the door and scan the large room. Even with the silvery mask and evening gown he still knows that it’s her.
He gives her a wave, bringing her eyes over his way and making her face light up with a smile. She weaves through the tables and the sparse crowd that’s migrated inside, heading right for him. “You made it!” she says as soon as she’s close enough.
“Of course I did. Did you really think I wasn’t going to?” He declines to mention that he had to be locked out of the TARDIS in order to show up there; it’s not really an important tidbit of information.
The twist on Martha’s lips is a rightfully sceptical one. “Well…”
“All right, fair point,” he grudgingly concedes. “But I’m here now, that’s what matters.” He looks her over with an approving nod. “Very nice outfit, by the way.”
Martha smiles and does a little spin, sending the pale-coloured skirts flaring out around her. “Thanks. Couldn’t resist it when I saw it in the wardrobe room. I may have to borrow it for a little while; I think Tom’d appreciate it.”
“No doubt. So…anything interesting going on?” the Doctor asks casually, supposedly innocent eyes scanning the courtyard and the handful of costumed kids who have just run in from outside.
“Oh, no. Don’t you dare,” Martha admonishes him, moving directly in front of him and crossing her arms over her chest.
“What?” he fires back.
“You are not going to go looking for trouble here tonight,” she says, giving him a pointed glare that says she knows all too well what he’s thinking. “It’s going to be a nice, if slightly raucous party, and there are no mysteries or rampaging aliens showing up that need your undivided attention.”
This time the Doctor manages not to pout, knowing that it’d serve to make Martha even touchier. “I’m not going looking for anything. You should know that this tux is jinxed though. Trouble always happens when I’m wearing it.”
She reaches out and grabs his arm, pleading eyes staring out of her silver mask. “I know. But seriously, Doctor, the only trouble I’ve seen tonight was a girl falling down the stairs, and I’m pretty damn sure that has absolutely nothing to do with aliens.”
“All right,” he sighs, sounding a bit put-upon (even though it’s really an act. It’s worth it just to see Martha’s eyes light up like that). “I’ll not go looking for trouble. However, if something happens…”
Martha grins. “Then I’ll expect to see you there attempting to save the day.” Her hand slips off his arm and she backs away a step. “All right, back to being a social butterfly. Thank you,” she says, smiling again. With a twirl of skirts she slips back through the tables, moving around the cluster of kids, and then darts outside into the night again.
The Doctor wanders briefly about the courtyard, soon finding himself by the large curving staircase. With a shrug he begins to climb them, figuring that the upper level is as good a place as any to observe events from. And, possibly, keep a look out for anything a bit out of the ordinary.
Apparently, he’s not the only one to have had this idea. There’s already a good number of people milling about up in the balcony area, drinks in hand and merrily chatting away. The balcony looks the same as downstairs, with lanterns and brightly colored swags draped about the golden-coloured marble. He nods to himself and sips at his soda, deciding to investigate this level of the palazzo in a little bit more detail. He barely manages three steps before –
The Doctor spins on his heel, only to see a group of young men clustered around a table by the arched line of windows looking out over the Grand Canal. He looks around briefly, then points at himself. “Yeah, you,” one of the men dressed in a toga and crown of laurels says, waving him over. “We’re having a bit of a chat and we need an op-opinion from a subjective – “
“Objective,” the pirate next to him corrects.
“Yeah, what he said, point of view.”
“I can try,” the Doctor says, moving closer. “I may not have the answer you want to hear though.”
“Truth hurts though,” the pirate says, making the group nod in agreement.
“All right. Fire away,” the Doctor nods.
“It’s a question of good and evil, of what lurks inside men’s souls and makes them do what they do, the how and why of matters of the heart, and what can desire…”
The pirate rolls his eyes, pinches the bridge of his nose, and glances at the Doctor. “He starts to babble when he’s had a few.”
“Ah,” the Doctor replies knowingly, taking in the large amount of glasses on the table. “How about this?” he says, waving a hand in Caesar’s face and cutting off the ramble which has taken a detour into Pythonesque logic. “I’ve seen things in my lifetime which could easily be considered as the devil, a force that could mess with humans’ heads and drive them to do unimaginable things. And yet, sometimes the worst things that have ever happened out there have come solely from the minds of man. So how is it explained?”
“Good question,” Caesar nods, mulling over things. In a few seconds he kicks another chair in the Doctor’s direction and waves at him. “Take a seat. I can tell we’ve got a hell of a conversation brewing here.”
The Doctor shrugs and sits down. Maybe this is just the sort of distraction he needs tonight. And he’s always up for a conversation that takes the brain down those twisty and turny pathways of thought. “What’s your name, by the way?” Caesar asks. “Mine’s Neil.”
“I’m the Doctor.”
“Just the Doctor.”
“Oh, come on. You’ve got to have a name to go with that,” Neil prods drunkenly.
“Just the Doctor,” he insists, putting his soda down on the table with a little more force than normal.
“Please, it’s Carnevale. If you don’t want to give us your real name then make one up,” Neil snorts, waving a hand around at the motley crew assembled around the table.
The Doctor rolls his eyes and tosses out a name, if only to remove the focus from him and bring it back to the more important questions of life, the universe, and everything. “Call me Dr. James McCrimmon then.”
Neil’s brow wrinkles, his crown of laurels sliding down practically into his eyes. “Oh, that’s weird.”
He shakes his head and pushes the crown out of his eyes. “Nah, the name just sounded like something I’ve heard recently. Buggered if I could remember where though.”
The pirate chuckles and pushes another drink in Neil’s direction. “Have some more rum. We’ve got some chatting to do.”
* * *
“You know, it’s a bit strange,” Rose muses with a smile on her face as she leans in the doorway to the courtyard. Most of the partygoers are inside already, but she’s staying out here for a few more moments, savouring the darkness at her back with the light spilling out around her.
“What’s strange?” Priya asks, standing next to her in the doorway. It’s obvious to Rose that her hovering is out of concern, which is rather nice to feel.
Rose shakes her head briefly. “For some strange reason, it feels like one of those moments. You know, when you’re looking at something and you suddenly think ‘how did I get here?’ That the life you’re living now is so strange and mad and wonderful and so far off the one you pictured back when you were thirteen.” There’s more to add to that list, Rose knows. The adventures through space, time, parallel universes, with aliens and captains and lovers and family, but it’d be too much to explain right now. But the feeling of ‘I can’t actually believe I’m here’ was ever-present tonight. Her eyes flicker over the amassed crowd, absorbing all of the sights before her.
“I know what you mean,” Priya nods, crossing her arms over her chest. “I never imagined ever I’d be able to go to some fancy party like this. I feel like I’m going to wake up and realize that this is all some pretty dream and I really fell asleep on top of a table in the break room while going for a coffee. Then Dr. Holloway’s going to waltz in with the rest of Cardiac on her tail yelling at me as to why her patient had been brought upstairs thirty seconds later than he was supposed to. If she acts like that at work, I can’t imagine how her husband puts up with her at home. Anyway, yeah, sorry for the diversion, but I do get it. Sometimes it pays to have friends in high places, huh?”
“That it does,” Rose laughs, linking one of her arms with Priya’s crossed one. “Come on, time to party,” she grins, and drags the two of them into the light.