Character/Pairing: Rose and Nine, and a few others...
Summary: She's no guardian angel. Just another traveler trying to help her out.
Disclaimer: Alas, no.
a/n: This piece is inspired by two songs. The first is 'Knights of Cydonia' by Muse. It's a bit random, but I was lucky enough to see them in concert last month (oh my god so fantastic) and have been on a bit of a binge since - so I really just couldn't resist it.
The second is 'Fires at Midnight' by Blackmore's Night. If you know the song you'll probably see the twist in this story coming from a mile away.
Written under a bit of sleep deprivation so my apologies if this is a bit scattered...
On the hills the fires burned at midnight
Superstition plagued the air
Sparks fly as the fires burn at midnight
The stars are out and magic is here…
She stands at the top of one of the small hills, staring out over the field full of hills and fires. Technically, they aren’t hills, the Doctor had told her when they had first landed in this place. “They’re barrows,” he’d said. Underneath these are the graves of the ancestors of the Tomolian people. Every year they gather here and light fires in the valleys between them. It’s their way of guiding their ancestors on to a safe and happy afterlife.”
The Doctor hadn’t mentioned that a revolution would start during one of these celebrations. Rose is sure that he hadn’t intended to land right in the middle of the revolution either. Inevitably, he managed to get involved with the rebels, meaning they had been separated, and meaning Rose is now standing at the top of a hill with bonfires burning all around her and no clue where the TARDIS is parked.
“Great,” Rose sighs, exhaling sharply. She thinks she remembers that the TARDIS was parked on the other side of the complex, but she can’t be sure. And this is not the time to be wandering about.
Before Rose can react she is slammed in the back by something, sending her tumbling face first to the ground. She gasps, trying to fill her suddenly aching lungs. Barely a few feet ahead of her a thicket of arrows thud into the ground, quivering as they drive into the earth.
“That was close,” the weight on top of her mutters. The weight rolls off of her back, and Rose looks to the side to see a young woman lying on her back in the grass panting for air.
“Thanks,” Rose says.
“No problem,” the woman nods. The woman looks to be about her height, has chin length black hair, is wearing jeans tucked into sturdy boots and a mid-length brown coat that is pooling around her.
“I’m guessing you’re not a local then,” Rose says, staying still as the sound of a bullet firing echoes off in the distance.
The woman turns her head to look at Rose, and she can see that her blue eyes are heavily lined with makeup, in a similar style to the way she does her own makeup, actually. “Just passing by. You’re a fellow traveler yourself?”
“We were supposed to be coming by for the Tomolian’s yearly ceremony.” Rose sighs and lets her head drop, her forehead resting against the grass. “’Perfectly safe,’ he said. “’A peace loving society’ my arse.”
“Well, it could have been an honest mistake,” the woman says. Another rain of arrows crosses overhead, and the glare Rose gives her could melt metal. “All right, mistakes don’t mean much if you’re about to be turned into a cheese grater,” the woman concedes.
“I’ve got to find the Doctor,” Rose says. “You haven’t seen him, have you? Looks human, tallish sort of bloke, short hair, leather jacket, ears a bit on the large side?” It’s not the kindest description she’s ever given of him, but it’s accurate. Considering that the Tomolians are a distinctive shade of strawberries-and-crème pink it stands to reason that he would stand out anyways.
“Sorry, no.” The woman rolls her head about a bit, trying to see what’s around them. “’Course, you can’t make out much with all of this smoke.”
“Maybe if I get to the TARDIS I can find him that way,” Rose muses, casting her gaze about. The problem is she can’t remember quite where they had parked. She and the Doctor had wandered through the fires for a long while, sampling the wares and listening to the songs of the Tomolians before the first shots had been fired. Now, the TARDIS could have been halfway on the other side of the planet for all she knows.
“What’s a TARDIS?” the woman asks.
“’S our ship. The Doctor will head back to her eventually, he always does, so if anything I can meet him there. Or maybe I can get into her computers…she’s got to have a way to trace him,” Rose says. “Now if I can just find the TARDIS, I’ll be all set.”
“Do you remember being by a sort of Stonehengy type structure?” the woman says, rolling onto her front and pushing herself onto her knees, keeping her eyes open for anything incoming.
“Yes…” Rose trails off, giving the woman a wary glance. She knows that she hadn’t told anyone that day that the TARDIS was set down near some standing stones. And no one would know that TARDIS is equivalent to big blue police box. So why would she be asking if they were by any sort of stones like that? And if she’s comparing them to Stonehenge of all places?
The woman nods. “That’s one of the big docking areas here, sort of like a massive intergalactic parking lot. And luckily, I remember where it is.” She turns to Rose and grins widely, teeth glinting in the firelight. “Come on. We can be errant knights voyaging to find the Lady TARDIS.”
“Yeah, well I don’t want to go jousting at windmills, personally,” Rose mutters, still keeping pressed to the ground and hoping that the next arrow that flies by won’t find its home in her back.
“Oh please. You seem like the type to go headfirst into things regardless of the danger.” The woman waves a hand around, jerking it back quickly at the sound of another bullet. “Come on. Come ride with me through the veins of history.” With that the woman tosses herself down the hill, sliding down the slippery grass feet first.
The quote makes Rose jerk her head up and stare hard at the woman as she slides down the barrow. It is eerily appropriate. Part of Rose feels that she should keep this woman in her sights, that she knows possibly dangerous things and could do her some harm. Yet there is another part of her that wants to trust her and believes that, if nothing else, this woman can help her reach the TARDIS. Taking a deep breath Rose rolls herself over and scuttles down the hill.
She stands up next to the woman who is currently brushing grass off her jeans. “All right, lead the way,” Rose says. The woman nods and trots off, weaving between two more barrows.
* * *
“What’s your name?” Rose asks after a few minutes of bobbing and weaving. So far so good, they haven’t caught the attention of any unsavoury characters.
“It’s not important,” the woman replies, pausing to peer around the side of a boulder. She leaps back as a bullet makes a cracking noise a short distance away.
“Well, I need something to call out after I get shot in the leg,” Rose mutters, pressing her back against the boulder as well.
“How about Cydonia then?” the woman says, shooting Rose a glance. The look Rose fires back is practically mutinous.
“That’s not your real name. I have heard the song, you know.”
“Well that’s all you’re going to get.” The woman – Cydonia – glances around the boulder again and nods. “Let’s move, Lady Knight. The Lady TARDIS awaits us.”
“Whatever you say, Sid.”
* * *
After what Rose guesses is about an hour, they make it to the thick forest that rings the field. Once in there they stop for a breather. It seems quiet, so they should recharge while they can. The two women sit opposite each other, backs up against trees and keeping vigilant eyes forward to watch if anyone is coming their way.
The woods are dark and oppressive, with thick pine branches hanging low over their heads and the sounds of warfare in the distance muffled by the leaves. Rose eventually has to break the silence. “So, you’re from Earth, I’m guessing?”
Cydonia looks up at her and arches a brow. The color of the eyebrow doesn’t quite match her hair color, making Rose suspect that the black hair is more of a fashion statement than naturally occurring. “What makes you think that?”
Rose ticks off the points on her hands. “You mentioned Stonehenge, a cheese grater, and a popular song from the planet. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but those are very Earthly objects.”
Cydonia nods slowly, then smiles a bit, a quick upturn of the corner of her mouth. “I was born on Earth, yeah. Lived there on and off through my teenage years. But I discovered I liked the wandering life too much.” She turns her gaze towards the sky, even though all that’s up there is pine needles. “There’s so much out there to see. Why confine yourself to just one planet?” She turns her gaze back to Rose. “You can understand that, can’t you?”
“Yeah, I can.” Cydonia pushes back the sleeve of her jacket, revealing a wide leather wristband. “What’s that?” Rose asks.
“My space hopper,” she smirks. “Also broadcasts the Weather Channel in fifty different galaxies.”
“I’m betting that’s far more practical than you make it sound,” Rose fires, grinning back at her.
“Right now it’s telling me that there’s a breeze coming in from the west, meaning we’d better get out of these woods before one stray spark sets the whole thing alight.”
* * *
Cydonia jerks Rose’s arm hard, pulling her behind the gnarled trunk of an old tree. “What – “
“Shh!” Cydonia hisses, cutting her off. A branch snaps a bit of head of them, and Rose peers around the trunk to see a cluster of soldiers standing a dozen or so yards away. For a moment Rose hopes that the Doctor will be among the crowd, but it’s clear to see that only Tomolians are in this group. “Just let me listen,” she says.
They quiet down, trying to make out as many words as possible. The words that Rose can hear she can understand – meaning the TARDIS is still in range and working. A loud comment about a painted lady makes Rose shove her left hand into her jacket pocket. “Painted lady?” she repeats to Cydonia.
“Old-old Tomolian legend,” she whispers back, although she seems to stutter over the words a bit. Rose isn’t quite sure she believes her.
When the next words Rose and can vaguely make sense of are something about a ‘Bad Wolf Project,’ Cydonia hustles them away and back onto the field of bonfires and barrows. “Not long now,” Cydonia says, leading the way once more.
* * *
The crossbows the rebels are aiming at them are long, shiny, and extremely pointy. Rose and Cydonia raise their hands to the sky. A sideways glance tells Rose that Cydonia is trying not to laugh for some unknown reason. “The Doctor’s so not gonna let me forget this one,” Rose sighs.
At the mention of the Doctor’s name the rebels’ crossbows drop just a bit, and she can see them trade a few puzzled looks. They become even more puzzled when Cydonia kicks a bow out of someone’s grip, grabs Rose’s arm, and practically propels the two of them through a fire to get away from the small crowd.
“So, is the Doctor your boyfriend?” Cydonia asks as Rose smacks a small bit of flame from her sleeve, leaving a burnt patch behind.
Rose shakes her head. “No, not a boyfriend. He’s…” she trails off and shrugs. “He’s the Doctor.”
“Ah,” Cydonia nods, moving them around the base of another barrow. “So he’s your secret lover then. How very dramatic.”
“Oh, piss off,” Rose sighs. There’s a certain truth to Cydonia’s words that she can’t acknowledge. But it ‘s so hard to define she’s not even going to try to. They’re the Doctor and Rose and together they can do the impossible, she thinks. Maybe the Doctor doesn’t see it like that, but Rose finds it a nice idea to believe in.
(Even at this early stage she’s underestimated the depth of the Doctor’s feelings. Still, everything must happen in its time – and it’s not their time, not just yet…)
* * *
Eventually the structure that is sort of but entirely unlike Stonehenge comes into sight, and the two women sigh with relief. “It’s this way,” Rose says, leading them around a curve. “I remember now.” They still have to be careful, the sounds of fighting clear around them, but now the goal is in sight and it makes a world of difference.
They round the path and there, standing placidly in one of the smaller docking bays is the TARDIS. “Home sweet home,” Rose sighs. Had it really only been a few hours since she had last been here? It felt like lifetimes had passed in the time hence.
To Rose’s immense surprise the Doctor comes walking around the side of the ship then, one hand digging through his pocket as if trying to find his key. Oh, thank god, she thinks, feeling lucky that he hadn’t been shot or maimed or anything like that. “Doctor!”
He looks up at the sound of his name. When he sees Rose standing there his face breaks into that wide grin of his. Without thinking about it Rose hurls herself at him, wrapping her arms tightly around his neck. His arms go around her waist and he spins her around, laughing into the night. “You all right then?” he asks when he finally puts her down.
“Never better,” Rose smiles back, resisting the urge to bury her face in his leather jacket and not come out for a good long while. “Hey, Sid!” She trails off, staring around in confusion.
“What is it?” the Doctor says.
There’s no one there. All Rose can see is the parking lot full of spacecrafts with the fires burning in the distance. “There was a woman…”
* * *
There’s a blue flash, and the woman pops out of thin air to land in on the dusty gravel ground of the alleyway. She groans and punches a few buttons on her wristband, making sure that the portal is sealed safely behind her. “Mission accomplished,” she says to no one as she pushes herself to her feet. She dusts her clothes off and pulls a small bag out of her pocket, trying to make it look as if she’d just been shopping in this alien bazaar instead of possibly but not really messing with the laws of time.
Suddenly there’s a grinding, whooshing noise behind her, and she nods. “And there’s my ride,” she mutters. She spins around to see the blue Police Box fade into existence. When it’s solid she goes and bangs on the door. Yes, she has a key, but a little courtesy is never a bad thing.
The Doctor that opens the door is the one she is far more familiar with, tall and skinny pinstripes and trainers with hair that just won’t lie flat. He’s smiling, but the look quickly morphs into one of suspicion. “What did you do, Gemma?” he asks, holding the door open wider.
Gemma saunters into the TARDIS, grinning and holding up her baggie. “Just a little shopping.”
Rose is sitting on the jump seat, idly turning the pages of a magazine. This is the Rose that Gemma is far more familiar with, a little older, a lot more experienced, and the one who usually takes care of her, not vice versa. She looks up and Gemma can tell that her face is being very carefully controlled at the moment to show no emotion or questions whatsoever. So all that Gemma does as she hoists herself onto the seat next to Rose is mutter: “Done and dusted.”
Rose nods, then winks and smiles slightly. Message received, loud and clear, Gemma thinks, sitting back in the seat as the TARDIS shudders into the vortex again.
After all, what else are sisters for if not to take care of each other?
So, the sisters smiled to themselves
And they whispered as they shone
And it was from that very instant
I knew I would never be alone…
“Fires At Midnight” – Blackmore’s Night
a/n: Yes, this is a Sonnets story.
a/n 2: No, I have not abandoned 'Mysterious Ways.' More is coming. :)