Note: The inspiration behind this fic is because funnily, it happened to me. A bull got loose and suspended my bus' movement! Hope you enjoy and thanks for reading.
Rose isn't amused.
Everyone around her is, and maybe, if she wasn't running late she'd be one of those people. She'd probably be the one laughing at the whole bizarre situation. But Rose is running late so she isn't amused, not even in the slightest.
Work is going to be pissed. The first thing Rose was told when she started the job—as a junior assistant researcher (a job which is basically a glorified secretary and coffee-fetcher) at a high profile research company—six months ago is to be never late: they had a serious no-tardiness policy.
So far Rose has been pleased with herself. She's notoriously someone who sleeps way into the day, so having an alarm at stupid o'clock in the morning and successfully getting up is quite the achievement. Since starting the job, she hasn't been late once. She's successfully avoided lie-ins, bad traffic and everything else which could make her late.
Really, it was Mickey's fault. He was the one who challenged her to a drinking contest on Saturday, which meant she spent all of Sunday nursing a hangover which lead to her forgetting to turn on her alarm for this morning, Monday. This meant Rose missed her usual bus (because even though the job pays reasonably she keeps failing her driving test so she's still without car) and winded up having to catch this bus.
But then again, it's not nice to put the blame on Mickey. It was nice for Martha and him to come to visit her. Since she moved from London, Rose doesn't get to see them much, and she's been really missing them. Rose will just settle with putting all the blame on the root of the problem: the escaped bull which is roaming the roads.
Coming from East London, Rose knows more than most seeing those familiar blue flashing lights is never good news (very rarely did the police come to the estate with a mind to help them) so when the bus slowed down fifteen minutes earlier, and Rose had seen a row of cars with those blue flashing lights, she got a feeling in the pit of her stomach, and not a very positive one. To her horror, the bus stopped entirely and then there was those few minutes of everyone on the bus looking around, shifting in their seats, with mutual confusion on their faces. Panic had struck through Rose as her mind temporary forgot about the police cars and she worried the bus had broken down. Thoughts, such as how long will it be until the next bus gets here?, raced around her mind and it was in the mist of her panic the bus driver appeared to them, a look of disbelief and amusement on his face as he broke the news; there was a bull on the loose.
Rose had her own disbelief, then, but it quickly faded to annoyance when he then went on to say the loose bull meant traffic was diverted, and buses stopped so they don't spook the bull and make it charge. Rose is sure, after all this is finished with, she'll appreciate the effort the police is going to by taking precautions in order to minimise the chance of having to shoot the animal, but in the present, it merely infuriates her.
It's been fifteen minutes—more like twenty at this point— and Rose is thinking even the possibility of this bus starting up again isn't on the horizon.
It's just her luck: first time being late to work and she's forgot her phone so she can't even phone work to let them know. She would ask someone nearby if she could borrow their phone, but despite normally being a people person, she's in a fowl mood and can't trust herself to be nice and polite. Also, she doesn't want to be seen as the idiot who forgot her phone. Even more, it's her first time being late, and her excuse is going to sound like the worse made up excuse of all time. Even if work gives her leniency, she'll forever be know as the one who was late for work because of an escaped bull. It's laughable, and it's going to get her fired.
Rose could argue work'll be okay but then it's the fact not only is she late, it's because she slept in, because of a hangover (and she knows the photos are all over social media, damn it Mickey). On top of it all, there's the whole phone situation. Donna Noble, head of the HR department and the CEO's secretary who does basically all his official paperwork—in fact, Rose is still yet to meet the big boss man himself—is a reasonable woman. But she's also made her policy on tardiness very clear. Just last week, she made someone cry, according to another member of staff.
"Well don't you look cheerful," a voice, with a accent not unalike hers just deeper, interrupts her panicked thoughts. Rose looks to her side where in the previously empty seat now sat someone. A, Rose notes although it's hardly the time, very attractive someone.
Before Rose can ask this man, with gorgeous looking hair and a pinstripe suit, what he's doing next to her, he speaks again. "There's a bull on the loose, now is not a time for frowns!" The man grins, pure excitement in his eyes. He raises his eyebrows expectantly at her, as if he thought she'd grin back. (And trust her, she's tempted).
"Why did you sit down?" As soon as the words leave Rose's mouth, she regrets it. The words would be reasonably innocent if they came out how she intended, softly and curious. Instead, her tone is all wrong and she ends up sounding as if she's snapping at him. Her mood has definitely affected her people skills: this has to be the most attractive man she's ever seen and she's being rude to him. The man's eyebrows drop and the grin falls of his face, the excitement dampening in his eyes.
"Sorry," even his voice has lost it's exuberance. "It was rude, wasn't it, to come over here. Donna—my sister—she's always telling me I'm rude. Sorry, I just wanted to.. anyway, you don't want to be disturbed; I'll just leave you in peace." He goes to raise up, to leave, but Rose quickly grabs his arm. He looks surprised at her.
"No, um, stay." Rose feels a slight blush appear on her cheek. "It came out more brash than intended. I've had a rough morning," Rose tells him. He searches her eyes for a few seconds before, as if he deemed her truthful, settling back down in the seat.
"I'm Rose," she introduces with a smile, after a few seconds go by in silence. This seems to spark him back into action, as he grins again at her.
"I'm the Doctor!" he enthusiastically tells her, after testing out the syllables of her name. Rose raises an eyebrow. "Well, that's what people call me—I have a doctorate—but my parents called me James so I guess either is good," he seems to backtrack, still with a smile attached to his face.
"I'llstick with it, Doctor," Rose grins back at him, her tongue sticking out of her lips. His eyes seem to zone out for a second, before refocusing.
"What did you want to do?" Rose asks him. At his blank look, she expands; "When you got up to leave, you said 'I wanted to' but then continued on to leave. What's the end of that sentence?" It's his turn to blush now.
"I wanted to know why you weren't smiling like the other's—and if I could make you." He answers, his chin out straight, producing an air of unabashed shame towards his intent but the blush argues otherwise.
"So, what's happened to make your morning so rough?" James asks.
Rose lets out a sigh. "My alarm didn't go off so I missed the earlier bus and now I'm going to be late," Rose gives him the more shorter version than what is running through her head. James gives her a look of sympathy and understanding.
"That's why you weren't smiling," he guesses correctly. "At least you'll have an interesting reason why," he adds on, flashing that smile again. Another sigh leaves her lips.
"I don't know, there's a pretty tough tardy policy. Apparently, my boss made someone cry." Rose puts an emphasis on the word, and James chuckles.
"And I'm reminded why I'm glad I'm my own boss."
Rose lifts an eyebrow. "With a doctorate, wouldn't you work at some university or big pharmaceutical company—depending what your doctorate's on?" Rose's tone is teasing. James gives her a look which makes her heart beat far too fast depending she just met him.
"I am the big pharmaceutical company—or at least something similar. And the doctorate's in physics—although, I am working on a getting a PhD in astronomy," He tells her.
"Interested in the stars?" Rose asks casually as her mind spins. (What is someone with a doctorate—in physics—no less doing on a bus? Especially, from what he implied, he seems to be at least a partner in running a company. And, most importantly, why would a man like him be wanting to talk to someone like her. And Rose isn't naïve, she knows she can be quite the looker but it's something horrendously early in the morning, and she barely had time to brush her hair, let alone appear attractive).
"Oh, yes." James answers her question and although it's only a second later, Rose has to backtrack her mind to remember what she asked—her mind's too rammed full of thoughts, most of which is about those lips of his. "You interested much in them?" he asks back, although he clearly seems like he doesn't expect her to be.
Rose shrugs. "I've been known to look at them—especially now I moved out from London. Sky's a lot clearer, here," she answers truthfully, hoping he doesn't just think she's saying it because it's something he likes. (Rose has never been one for needing validation from others but for some reason, it matters to her James, a man she's known for five minutes, doesn't think wrongly of her). Her answer seems to please James, as his ever-present grin beams wider.
"That's brilliant!" The tips of his ears go red, as if he realised he seems a bit too excitable. "I remember moving to London and being in the centre—not at all like Scotland," James' tone is still enthusiastic but it's quietened down.
"You're not originally from London?" Rose is shocked. His accent sounds authentic. James shrugs in response.
"Moved there when I was a teen," Rose notes his tone drops, as does his eyebrows and wonders why he moved there—and if it's because of less than desirable circumstances. "This accent is inherited. Whenever I'm back in Scotland, or talking to anyone Scottish, my original accent comes out in full force," His tone rises to a happier level again, inciting more curiousity from Rose. She pushes it down, however. It's not any of her business.
Some commotion comes from the other passengers which makes Rose—and James—look up from their conversation. There's more muttering about the bull, and with that, James shoots up from his seat, wide eyed.
"You can see it!" he exclaims, turning to her with a grin. "Look, Rose!" he tugs gently at her hand, and it's because of the action and his infectious energy, which makes her rise from her seat. Out the window, further up the road, a bull is running looking like he's immensely enjoying his new-found freedom.
Rose isn't having a good morning, and she's still late, but the sight of the bull brings an amused grin to her face. "Look it go," she says softly to James, all too aware his hand is still gripped around hers. James beams down at her.
"Now, that's better than the frown," He says softly. Rose would think it's a comment which should incite annoyance in her—especially when said by a stranger—but she can't find it in her to care. Like she knows he's saying it in good-nature.
The bull runs out of sight, and Rose sits back down again. James flops down, and surprisingly, to Rose's disappointment, he lets go off her hand. His leg, however, is pressed against the side of hers and it takes all her effort to not lean into him. (Maybe what Martha said is true and she does need to get back out in the dating game again. The sour reminders of her past relationships—Mickey exempt—is what puts her off, however).
James and her conversation progresses and Rose is amazed at how at ease the pace of it is. There has been other people she's met in her life she's instantly connected with—Martha being the most recent example—but there's been none which had sent butterflies to her stomach like this, or made her heart race.
They talk for just a bit over ten minutes, exploring all kinds of conversational topics and discovering how similar they are, when the bus driver appears back on the bus, with the confirmation for movement. The engines of the bus are started up and there's a collective sigh of relief.
James nudges her shoulder. "I bet you're glad," He smiles at her. Rose nods, but to be honest, since James sat down next to her most of her irritation has faded. That being said, the engines starting up also starts up her worried thoughts again.
"I'm so dead," Rose groans, leaning her head against the seat, her eyes closing.
"You shouldn't have forgot to set your alarm," James teases her, but she can hear the underlying concern. Rose peeks open one eye.
"s'not my fault, Mickey was the one who got me drunk. He knows I can't step down from a challenge," Rose protests. James cocks an eyebrow.
"Getting drunk the night before work? Rose, you should know better!" James mimics a stern expression.
"I didn't. I got drunk on Saturday." Rose defends herself.
James chuckles. "Then what does it have to do with you forgetting to set your alarm?" He asks.
"'Cos I spent all of Sunday hungover which meant I forgot," Rose manner-of-factly replies to him, before breaking out in a smile and straightening her posture.
The bus is rapidly approaching her stop, and Rose's heart leaps. A light takes over James' concerned expression; Rose thinks the image of a lightbulb appearing is fairly apt.
"Why don't you phone work? Albeit, it's a little late now, but it's still something." Of course a man of his intelligence would work that solution out. Rose's face is no doubt tomato coloured. She mumbles out her reason. James blinks.
"I'm sorry, can you repeat that?" He asks, and Rose's blush deepens even more furiously.
"I forgot my phone. I was in a hurry and..." Rose trails off with a hand motion. James stares at her, then, laughs.
"You really are having a rough morning. I'm surprised you actually put up with me," James says causing Rose to blush for a different reason.
"You could borrow my phone— quickly do something. What's the company's name, I'll research their number if you don't know it off by heart," James offers. Rose would refuse—they're near enough at her destination—but he's looking at her with those chocolate eyes and she can't refuse. Maybe it might even encourage her to ask for his number.
"VORTEX," Rose tells him, and James freezes. Rose nudges him.
"James," Rose says. James looks at her, and she sees him swallow.
"Vortex, you said?" His voice squeaks slightly higher. Giving him a confused look, she nods. What's stumbling him about it?
"Phoning them won't be necessary, then," James says, putting his phone away. Rose's eyebrows furrow. James blushes, seeming to appear very embarrassed all of a sudden.
"Vortex, it's... It's my company," He admits. It takes a few seconds for it to compute in Rose's mind, but then her eyes are widening in realisation. Oh, god, she admitted to all her crimes—the not setting the alarm, the sleeping in, the hangover. How could she be so stupid—he even said his sister is called Donna. Everyone knows Donna is the boss's sister!
James seems to notice her internal panic. "I can hardly hold it against you if I'm also late due to poor planning," He smiles softly at her but it does nothing for her but make her cheeks burn more.
"Some first meeting, huh," Rose would like nothing more than for the ground to swallow her whole. "Really, I'm usually very prompt," Rose starts to defend herself but James merely shakes his head.
"It's alright," He assures her. A frown then appears on his face. "You know, Donna won't mind, either. And I don't know where you heard she made someone cry; she's very understanding. She mainly has the rule because I keep turning up late and she says 'you have to set a good example, Spaceman,'" James imitates Donna. "I don't think—besides me—she's ever made someone cry,"
Why did she have to say that about his sister? "It's just what I heard from someone else," Rose shrugs thinking now would be a great time for the floor to open up. "Now I think about it, though, she's not a very honest person—not that she shouldn't be trusted to work there!" she attempts to backtrack. James merely laughs again.
"Rose, when I said it's alright, I meant it," James assures her again, tugging at her hand for the second time. "Come on, it's our stop,"
Once out of the bus, Rose stands on the pavement looking at him. She had been warned, by Donna herself, it may be years until she finally got a glimpse of Vortex's owner stating he ran by his own ever changing rules. Rose isn't too sure of how she imagined her boss but she knows tall, handsome and has the energy of a puppy was not it. Now she's faced in front of him, after getting to know him, Rose doesn't know what to think.
James grins at her. "I know. Donna got all the ginger genes and I was stuck with brown—it's a crime. It's what we get for being half-siblings." His tone is light and Rose can only guess it serves it's purpose as she smiles reluctantly (or rather, not reluctantly enough).
"I really don't care about why you're late, or you being late at all. And I promise you, neither will Donna—plus, she'll be far more focused on me, trust me. And as far as the hangover goes, my head of security Jack regularly rocks up drunk; I'm just lucky you did it in your own time," James extends his hand out for hers. "Come on," he encourages her.
The journey from the bus stop to VORTEX is reasonably short, and it's one they do in a comfortable silence. James' hand is locked firmly around her own and Rose's mind spins with reasons why he's doing so. However, as they approach the entrance to work, her thoughts shift from James to work. Rose believes James when he says everything is fine—he is the CEO after all—but what is it going to say when she walks in with the boss? Rumours fly easily. And she knows James said Donna will be understanding, and Rose really shouldn't doubt it; the woman's amazing, but Rose is over an hour late and she doesn't want Donna to loose a good opinion of her.
"Stop worrying," James says softly, tilting his head down to hers. "I only pick the best candidates for my company; Donna knows that," Rose looks at him in surprise.
"You pick the employees?" she can't keep the shock out of her voice, and she wants to kick herself for it. Way to impress the boss, Rose.
"Yep. Vortex is my baby, I can't let anyone work there." James gives her a look. "Why, did you think I wouldn't?" He asks. Rose suddenly finds the pavement very interesting.
"I just thought you were more focused on the research element—I thought Donna handled more of the official document work. In my defence, I've worked there six months and have only just met you—and not even under official circumstances," Rose attempts to make some effort to save herself.
"That's fair. And, Donna really does handle most of the paperwork, I'd be useless without her. I only pick the employees," James squeezes her hand and Rose, feeling brave, risks a glance at him, again, relieved to see the smile still on his face.
As they enter the building, Rose hopes she can have a peaceful, uneventful arrival. Usually, there's very little member of staff present in the reception, and Rose hopes she can merely sign in, and get to work without much fuss about her lateness—hopefully, they'll see James and think it's official business which kept her. Unfortunately, life is unfair to Rose as any hope of avoiding Donna until later disappears as the woman herself stands in the reception, talking to one of the secretaries. Talking, Rose supposes, in a understatement; shouting might be more apt.
"I don't care about what my idiotic brother asked you to do, one of my staff members is over an hour late!" Donna is shouting, and Rose's worry which was alleviated by James comes back in full force. "She's never late, and she hasn't called, I'm worried! So, you find out where she is, and quickly, before I have to report myself for assault!" the secretary visibly gulps as Donna's hand twitches, and Rose notices how James flinches as well. Sighing, Donna turns around and Rose realises they're about to be seen.
As Donna's eyes land on them, relief first coming over her face, then anger. Rose's heart leaps, as Donna begins to storm over.
"Spaceman!" she yells. "What on earth do you call this! You're late! Again!" Donna growls, standing face to face with her brother. So far today, Rose has seen James look amused, happy, excited and disappointed. Now, she's seen fear. Donna's eyes flicker down, landing on their still adjoined hands, before looking between them.
"Oh no," Donna shakes her head. "Please don't tell me my best employee's lateness is because of your corruption." Donna extends a finger out, jabbing it into James' chest.
"There was a bull!" James suddenly exclaims. "Yes! An escaped bull, it stopped the bus and—" James begins rambling, his free hand carrying out huge motions. Donna's look silences him, James freezing, his mouth still open.
Then; "Please don't slap me,"
Donna gives him another look. "A bull? Get your mind out of that overgrown imagination and at least actually give me a plausible sounding explanation, if you're going to lie." She places a hand on her hip.
Rose chooses then to speak up. "There was an actual bull. We were stuck on the bus for over half hour," Donna turns her eyes on to Rose. To her relief, Donna's eyes seemed a lot softer than what they did when looking at James.
"Don't tell me he's got you lying for him. He's an idiot, Rose, you don't have to cover for him. Especially as it's pretty obvious looking at the two of you to know why you're late," Donna tells her, before patting James on the chest. "Don't worry, I don't want to hear the crude details," with that, Donna goes to head off but not without a final look at Rose.
"Your tardiness is excused, but I'm not too sure you'd want to be here, with what, all the paper cuts you must've got from this skinny sheet of nothing," Donna's tone is more light hearted and she winks at Rose, before heading off, leaving Rose confused to as what she was saying.
"Told you she'd be fine," James grins at her, seeing to have recovered from his state of fear now Donna's gone.
It's a little while later Rose finally understands what Donna was implying, and it makes her face burn.
In the lunch hours, Donna likes to make a habit of routinely sitting with the other employees which is mostly how Rose had interacted with the woman. It's at lunch when Rose finds Donna, intent on correcting her.
"Donna," Rose gets the older woman's attention. "James- me- we didn't—" Rose tries, in vain it seems like, to make up a sentence to correct her assumption. Donna seems to get instantly what she's on about.
"Rose, you don't have to explain, or pretend—I've been wanting you two to meet for a while, anyway." And Donna also seems to have missed the point.
"No, Donna, you don't understand—" Donna rises from her seat.
"Trust me, you don't have to lie. And I know my brother, he's definitely more light and cheerful today—yes, more than usual— so, really I'm fine. And even if it was against policy, it wouldn't be a problem; he's the ceo. Although, I'm not judging, but maybe you actually want to get his number before doing bedtime activities," Donna hands her a piece of paper. "James told me to give you this before he left to deal with a Jack-related emergency," she tells Rose before leaving her for the second time today.
Rose looks down at the note. You'll never have to worry about a reasonable excuse for lateness again if you call the number below ;)
Rose smiles to herself, knowing exactly what she's doing when she gets back to her phone.