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. All I've got is a kitten named Fortuna, but she's not for sale.
a/n: Two days after the end of the year, that's not too bad, is it? I seem to be operating on relative time...this one's not quite as bad as the last piece when it comes to cliffhangers, however I'll still be over here behind the bulletproof glass.
Many, many, many thanks to anepidemic and earlgreytea68 (I spelled it right this time!) 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.
Previous parts of Mysterious Ways and the rest of the Sonnetsverse found here.
Thanks for reading!
“But the world is full of zanies and fools
Who don’t believe in sensible rules,
And won’t believe what sensible people say
And because these daft and dewy-eyed dopes
Keep building up impossible hopes
Impossible things are happening every day.”
Impossible, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella
The party is in full swing a couple of hours later, the dance floor vibrating from the footsteps of costumed revelers, the strings of lights and lanterns twinkling against the darkness, the waiters coming around with trays of little nibbles and ever-flowing champagne, and the loud clatter of people talking. But after the highly eventful start to the night, it had turned out to be just your average party. Which isn’t a bad thing, Rose muses. Sometimes a little calmness does wonders for the body.
While Gemma has taken off for parts unknown in the palazzo with kids her age so they could play, the women have staked out a table near the water entrance, right under the first floor overhang, and set up camp there, occasionally stealing a platter of whatever was nearest from passing staff. And as conversations are wont to do, what had started out as a highly academic and professional sounding conversation had quickly evolved into a ‘who’s got the weirdest London story’ debate. This may have possibly been spurred on by Priya, who is always insistent that her story about ending up on the moon is true, and now, finally, she’s got backup.
“Walking blobs of fat,” Donna smirks, twirling her gilded mask around by the cord.
“Ooh, I remember that,” Martha winced. “One of Tom’s aunts suddenly started sprouting little baby blobs right in the middle of a family barbeque. It wasn’t a pretty sight.”
“All right, next,” Lou says, ever the sceptic. She shoots her roommate a challenging look, daring her to trot out the same old story.
“You know what I’m going to say,” Priya grins, tilting her champagne in her roomie’s direction. “Hospital, on the moon.”
“And I will vouch for her,” Martha tosses in. “Between the moon, the upside-down rain, the space rhinos- “
“Space rhinos,” Rose mutters with an arched eyebrow. She’s seen many a strange thing in her life, but some things (or, possibly, the way humans describe these strange things) will always give her a bit of pause. Space rhinos included.
“Apparently some sort of intergalactic police or mercenaries to my best understanding,” Martha shrugs, her voice almost too casual. Rose resists the urge to call her on it; it’s not the right time. Maybe if they’re still around tomorrow, she could pick her brain a little more. Because it sounds like exactly the sort of mess the Doctor would get himself into, and maybe it could be one more piece to add into the puzzle. “Your turn,” Martha nods in her direction.
Rose smirks and sips at her drink. “I know Pree and Lou know this, but I used to work in a shop. Henrik’s right in London. Well one night, I’m there a little late taking the lottery money down to the man collecting it, when all of a sudden the shop window dummies stashed down in the basement start to move.”
“That’d be enough to put me off of shopping for a while,” Donna says, cringing a bit as she spins her mask around on the table. It was messing up her hair anyway.
“Seriously,” Rose agrees. “Anyway, I ran for it and made it out of the building. Not thirty seconds later, when I’m still right across the street, there’s this loud bang and all of a sudden the building’s on fire.” A simplified version of the story, yes, but it’s the same idea.
“While that sounds dangerous,” Lou points out, “an explosion isn’t quite as weird as fat blobs. It may not have even been caused by something weird or alien. They could have been robots, or something like that.”
“And you’re such an expert on robots and science?” Rose shoots back with a grin. It’s a common fact that Louise is not well known for her scientific brain, and may have possibly failed a couple of semesters back in high school, something that she is inordinately proud of. “Trust me, nothing on Earth could have made those things walk about like that.” Not to mention the most distinct alien of them all that she had encountered there.
“If you say so,” Lou shrugs, although there is a bit of a smiling glint in her eyes. “All right, Martha, your turn, and it can’t be a repeat of anything anyone else has said.”
Martha thinks for a few seconds, then her face clouds over. “It’s not the happiest of incidences, but it’s an easily verifiable one,” she says, her gaze firmly locked on the gauzy tablecloth. Then her eyes shoot back up, and every can see the sudden sobriety in them. “The Ghosts. The Cybermen that came out of Canary Wharf. I think everyone in London was affected by that in some way or another.”
An uncontrollable shiver skates down Rose’s back, and she can feel her breaths start to speed up. It’s not fair; those few words should not have the power to bring her right back there, to make her relive those memories of one of the worst days in her life. She digs her nails into her palms in an attempt to stop the shuddering. “Yeah,” she says shakily. Suddenly she pushes her chair back and gets up in a flurry of black gauze and silver and gold sequins. “I’ll be back, just going to get some fresh air,” she mutters, and rushes out the water entrance.
The rest of the women trade a look. “What was that about?” Donna whispers (as much as one can whisper and still be heard in the middle of a party).
Priya glances over at Lou. “Remember that guy she lost?” she asks, leaning in close as if it’s some great secret.
Lou’s brow wrinkles in puzzlement. “I thought you said he left though, not that he was dead by Cyberman.”
“All she said was that they went their separate ways. That could mean just about anything. From what it sounds like though, it wasn’t a voluntary separation. Which tells me that he’s probably dead or was turned into one of those things.”
Donna waves a hand towards the door. “So all of that’s over a guy?” She sighs and rolls her eyes. “There’s always one at every party, isn’t there?”
Lou pushes her chair back with a rough grating noise. “I’m gonna go see how she is.”
Outside, Rose dashes her hands back through the tangled mess of gelled and hair sprayed-brunette waves on her head. Usually, she handles the memories better, but something about tonight just triggered it, and if she hadn’t left when she did the floods of tears would have started. She rubs her hands over her bare arms, bringing out the writing that’s in close reach to her. She lets it fade within seconds, but for that brief moment she wants the reassurance of all of her stories.
A hand falls heavily on her shoulder, and she twists to see a bunch of silver-ringed fingers attached to an arm leading up to Louise’s concerned face. “You okay, sweetie?” she asks.
“Yeah. Sorry,” she says, scrubbing carefully at the skin below her mask, making sure the traces of any lingering tears are gone. “I don’t usually get emotional like that.”
“S’okay. Happens to all of us now and again.” Rose just nods in agreement, not willing to say anything more. “Seems like that was a bad time for everyone,” Lou continues, a bit awkwardly. “Did it have anything to do with that guy?”
“How did you know about him?” Rose yelps. She couldn’t remember ever mentioning the exact details to Lou (not that she’d believe it anyway).
“Umm…” Lou bites at her lip and eventually sighs in defeat. “All right, Pree told me.”
Rose groans. “Why am I not surprised? So much for the confidentiality of the medical profession.”
“She just said what you said on the plane. Everything else is just guessing, but seriously, honey, it’s kind of obvious that you lost a guy. Escaping from the intern through a window, that ring any bells? We just kinda put two and two together when we saw your face after the Cybermen were mentioned.” Lou crosses her arms over her chest, obviously satisfied with her argument.
‘Yeah, two and two together and came up with five,’ Rose thinks with a mental eye-roll. Still, given the limited information they had, it was actually still fairly close to the mark. “All right, fair point,” she concedes, then sighs again. “God, it was years ago, now. I should be able to control it a bit better after so long.”
“You lost someone you loved,” Lou says, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. “It’s always gonna be hard.”
“I think I might have lost myself that day,” she says softly, resting her head on her friend’s shoulder.
“Yeah, but the world keeps spinning, and all we can do is get up and keep moving.” Rose picks her head up and shoots Lou a glance. Odd choice of words from her. Oddly appropriate, rather. “So you going to be okay?” she asks again.
“Yeah, I think I will,” Rose nods. She quickly pats at her hair, attempting to bring some sort of order to mass of waves and settles her mask back into place. “You really are an old romantic at heart though, aren’t you?” she says with a sly look.
Lou shrugs. “Some people find it easy to believe in aliens.” She nods back towards the doorway inside. “That lot in there is proof of that, but they’ve seen things I haven’t. But I know what I have seen, you know? I’ve always been a bit of a sap, and I’m a sucker for a good love story.”
“’If this be error and upon me proved/I never writ, nor no man ever loved,’” Rose quotes, eyes flicking briefly skyward.
“Sonnet 116,” she nods. “One of my favorites. Read it at my uncle’s wedding actually…other side of the family, of course.”
“Yeah.” Rose rubs her arms, trying to bring a little bit of blood back to them. “It’s freezing out here. Shall we go back?”
“You go ahead,” Lou waves. “I’m going to hunt down someone for a smoke.”
Rose nods and heads back in, plunking herself down at the table amid the curious looks of everyone else there. She ignores them with a smile and steeples her hands on the table before her. Whatever happened outside was her business and no one else’s. “All right, ladies, where were we?”
* * *
“This is one of the first things I ever learned in university.” Neil gesticulates wildly with his drink, making the assembled coterie lean out of the way of the flying droplets. The crowd has grown and spread out a bit, taking the seats at the small cocktail table with a few people perched on the deep-set windowsill behind them. “Out of all of the screenplays ever written, there are only ever two stories. One, a man on a mission, and two, a stranger comes to town.”
“Well, patterns throughout all walks of life repeat. The common archetypes are so common that you can find them in every culture that’s out there,” the Doctor tosses back, “so it only makes sense that the same themes would keep popping up in films. However, that doesn’t hide the fact that those themes are so vague that they can be applied to almost every situation, not just movies.”
“But what about the oldest story of them all?” someone else says.
“You mean the one about the prozzies?”
“Oi! No, that’s the oldest profession, you twonk.”
“Ahem,” the first man clears his throat, “I meant the real old one. I know you know the story: boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy loses girl. Which one would you put that under?”
Neil gulps and wrinkles his brow a bit. “Um…it could fall under both?” he stutters out, his argument falling to pieces beneath his feet. A groan rises up from the crowd.
“And besides, what if the lost girl comes back?” the Doctor tosses in. He may, just possibly, be speaking from personal memory, not that he’d admit that to himself. “How do you classify that into your themes?”
“It all depends on what the boy decides to do,” Neil says, full of bravado – in the form of the free-flowing champagne he’s been indulging in. “Does he welcome her back with open arms? Or does he do something else?”
“What if he thinks that she was safer where she was? That life with him was too dangerous, and that all he wants is for her to be safe. And if safe means making it impossible for them to ever see each other again?” No, he’s definitely not speaking from personal experience here. Not at all. Besides, some things were unclassifiable.
“Hmm.” Neil takes yet another sip and ponders for a few moments. “So basically, this hypothetical boy has the chance to get this girl he fancies back – no, she comes back, and he still blows it under the guise that it’d be safer for her.”
“Sounds about right,” the Doctor muses.
“Then he’s a bloody coward,” Neil states with a nod.
“Oi!” he yelps, then backs off. Remember, it’s not personal. “How’s he a coward?”
“He’s got the chance to get his love back, and even though life is always dangerous and never safe (which is what makes life so fantastic) in his deluded mind he doesn’t think it’s worth the leap of faith to keep her with him, which is really just another sort of cowardice.”
Neil’s ramble is quite impressive for one as drunk as he is; however, it’s not convincing the Doctor. “It’s not cowardice if it’s the difference between life and death,” he insists, but then runs a hand through his hair. “What the hell, it’s impossible anyway.”
“Well, love is an impossible thing,” Neil says with a sage nod.
“I meant the girl coming back in my…hypothetical story. It’s impossible for her to come back.”
“What’s impossible?” Louise asks, rushing over to Neil’s side in a flurry of mint green and glitter and nicks a cigarette from the open box on the table. She lights up quickly and exhales a stream of smoke, her eyes fluttering shut at the first rush of nicotine.
“Lost loves returning, apparently.”
“Hypothetically,” the Doctor interjects (mysterious books aside). “Hypothetically, it’s impossible.”
“Yeah, but you know what they say about impossible,” Louise says, shoving her mask on top of her curls.
“What do they say?” the Doctor asks, unable to keep the slightest bit of sarcasm out of his voice.
“Well, zanies and fools and all that,” she replies.
“Zanies and fools who don’t believe in sensible rules are the ones that make impossible things happen,” she clarifies, taking another drag.
Neil cackles at that one. “That, dear cousin, probably takes the prize for the most obscure pop culture reference of the year.”
Louise snorts. “That’s hardly pop culture, that’s my childhood coming back to haunt me.”
“This from the woman who still has a Care Bear on her bed?” She thumps him one on the shoulder, making his toga slip a bit and causing him to wince from the impact. “Ow!”
“This place is very strange,” the Doctor mutters, finally giving in and snagging a passing by champagne glass from a server. If anything it’s a good distraction from hypothetical stories that are most definitely not about him or anything he has or could be going through.
“But still,” Neil continues, however the Doctor cuts him off with a watered down version of his Oncoming Storm glare.
“Drop it,” he nearly growls. Even though Neil is in an addled state, he can’t miss this sign and gracefully backs away.
“So, how are things going for you?” Neil asks Lou, who is currently in the midst of stealing some of his drink. She swallows quickly and shrugs.
“Oh, you know, the usual sort of family party. Avoiding the relatives, having plenty to drink, giving romantic counseling.” She wrinkles her brow and gazes out the arched window behind him, getting in a quick glance of the canal. “Actually, it’s pretty calm given our usual gatherings. No fist fights have broken out yet.”
“That was only the once.”
“Yeah, but you have to admit it made for a hell of a party.”
The Doctor lets the familiar conversation wash over him briefly, using the moments to reset his brain and drag it out of the past and possible futures. Better to focus on the now, because that’s the fun part. However, a sudden loud clash of horns and drums from a new band below echoes through the courtyard, making Louise straighten up and her eyes gleam. “Ooh,” she grins. “Time to dance,” she says, stubbing out her cigarette in the ashtray and skipping a bit in place. “It’s tradition, they play it every year and everyone just piles onto the floor and goes a bit wild.”
“Well, go on then,” the Doctor smiles at her. She smiles back and runs off. The Doctor slides off his chair and moves to the rail of the balcony, watching as her polka-dot dress flies down the grand, curving staircase and practically leaps into the mass of humanity below. As the sounds of a modern update of a saltarello begin to play he lets his eyes shut, just briefly. It’s that feeling, one he knows all too well even though he doesn’t like to admit it. It’s that urge to fall. Maybe it’s just the result of looking down from on high, but the little niggling feeling at the back of his neck suggests that maybe it’s something more, but he doesn’t know what. Shrugging, he turns back towards the table, sliding easily into the conversation.