Title: The Return
(Semi-sorta sequal to The Jacket, but does not need to be read for this to make sense)
Characters: Rose/Ten (flufferoonie)
Disclaimer: Standard disclaimers apply. They're like little dolls you can dress up and play with, but I always put my toys back when I'm done.
Archive: Feel free, just drop me a line so I know (my ego is like that)
A/N: Pic fic based on darkbunnyrabbit's latest piccy. Also shamelessly stole one of her fic ideas for the ending. I steal because I love. And I know she'll never get around to writing it herself so this is a sort of present in that regard.
Summary: Rose contemplates the new and the old on her first Valentines Day in her new universe.
"You came an impossible distance, across universes, to return my jacket." Ok, maybe this wasn't a coma dream. Because that was something so ridiculous the Doctor would do it.
Getting back to her office after lunch with her mother, Rose threw the shopping bags in the empty chair on the other side of her desk, kicked off her black heels and heaved a sigh as she fell into her swivel chair.
The morning had started out quite nice. Mickey handed her a CD of a band she'd been meaning to try as soon as they'd gotten in the car together, and he'd even let her control the stereo, which was the vehicular equivalent of a remote control for her former boyfriend. She'd gotten through eight of the twelve tracks during their commute and was looking forward to listening to the rest on the way home.
Work had been…well, work. It was Torchwood. There were great lulls of boredom and inactivity punctuated with mass rushing about and invasion prevention. No one had bothered dumping any more paperwork on her desk and she'd been meeting-free since this time yesterday.
Lunch had been great, if slightly deadly; walnut-crusted salmon, an attractive salad, a sweet table wine and a dessert that had been too rich and decadent to finish on her own. Fortunately it hadn't gone to waste, not with her mother being eight months pregnant and capable of eating anything not nailed down. Her mother had bought her more clothes in one afternoon than she used to purchase in an entire year, even with her steep Henrick's employee discount.
Of course, there'd been the awkward moment where her mother had insisted she buy a blue button-up number identical to one she'd had back home—actually it had been a present from her mother for Christmas, and was the shirt she'd worn when she'd left after that emotional and whirlwind holiday.
It looked like something had been dropped on her desk during lunch—but it wasn't more work, she noted as she pulled the card out of the mass of red and dark purple flowers. She smiled as she slid the card out of the tiny envelope, noting the chocolate-coloured teddy bear holding the mug-vase. Unfolding the card, she twisted back and forth in the chair.
Thinking of you even though I'm out of town. Keep yourself out of trouble and take care of your mum for me and have a great day. Remember, there's a whole slew of us who love you here.
Reading the card over once more, she smiled then tacked it to the small cork board on the wall. Pete had been trying so hard to be a father to her since she'd arrived here, she couldn't help but have a rush of warmth for him flood through her. It was the little things like this that really made her appreciate the amazingness that was having a dad.
In fact, it was beyond any fantasies she'd ever had as a kid about what it would have been like for her father to cheer for her at her gymnastics meets or to see her parents walking down the sidewalk hand-in-hand.
Thinking of her mother's bulge, sudden nesting habits and propensity to eat anything not nailed down, Rose did smile. Sure, her mum and Pete had their problems. But even that warmed her heart—watching them duke it out and always end up better for it in the end.
Inhaling deeply, she closed her eyes and enjoyed the scent of the flowers. They were so fresh and pungent—she wanted to memorise the way they tickled the inside of her nose. In a few days they'd smell like early autumn, and a few days after that they'd be withered rubbish bin fodder.
Trying to get that thought out of her head, she got up from her chair and dug through one of the bags, down for the smaller gold bag she'd tossed inside. Opening it, she pulled out a few pieces of dark chocolate, knowing it'd be just the thing.
Biting into the large triangle chunk, she tossed the small bag and its contents back in with the clothes then stopped, looking at the blue shirt peeking out. Breathing a sigh of satisfaction she let the chocolate melt her mouth before she picked the shirt out of the bag, holding it up and looking it over.
It was a few sizes smaller than the one she used to wear. The initial lack of interest in any kind of food upon her arrival in this universe had certainly done away with a size or two. She'd gotten over that fairly quickly (she might have been broken hearted, but she was a girl who liked food, dammit), but most sweets that weren't chocolate tasted weird to her here. Mickey said it had something do with processes involved in refining sugars here, but she wasn't so sure about that. That had probably also helped her waste line.
The rest was probably the forsaking of chips. She'd been a chips whore back in the day, she wasn't too proud to admit it. Any size, any cut, any dip, any topping. Salt, no salt; it didn't matter. Nothing beat a perfectly fried piece of potato in all of it's glorious goldeny goodness.
Just wasn't so important.
She wasn't sure why that was. It wasn't like she'd stopped liking pizza or chocolate, or any of those other comfort foods from home. It was just the chips. They didn't taste any different here. Maybe she could have stuck with the chips, if they tasted different here. But they didn't. They were the same in a word where the skyline was blotted out by zeppelins and where Torchwood hadn't been set up because of her faux pas with Queen Victoria. So she just didn't want them.
Looking at the tag, a harrumphing laugh slipped from between her lips. Definitely a smaller shirt, even though sizing was done a little differently here. The label was the same though. The differences and similarities to home were as interesting as they were maddening.
Curious, suddenly, she held it up to her, looking at her reflection in her office window. The shirt looked like it would be a tad longer, now. And with her hair cut shorter and styled choppier, the overall effect would be a little less soft. Especially with the belt she was wearing.
She'd tried to talk her mother out of buying the thing at lunch, but had been unsuccessful. So she'd accepted the gift, figuring she'd stash the thing in the back of her closet, where she wouldn't have to see or think about it—and if her mother asked after it, she'd simply say she had worn it a few days before, and it was in the wash. Rose was an expert at saving feelings over unwanted gifts.
Looking down at where the white silk blouse tucked into black trousers, she thought about the oval silver links of the belt for a moment and the blue collar of the shirt. It wouldn't look half bad, really. Not how she'd looked back then—back home, when they'd left after Christmas. But she could probably get away with wearing this to work, if she accessorized it correctly.
Curiosity overcame her and she slid out of her blouse, checking to make sure she wasn't in danger of being disturbed, then slithered into the blue shirt, smoothing it out and examining the results in the window. Oh well, if there was some peeping tom on the forty-second floor of some other building, he may have gotten a flash of her frilly underthings. If such a person existed, she wished him well. She'd probably made the old bastard's day.
Sliding back into her heels, she tugged the wrinkles out of her trousers, then let her hands rest at her sides, looking at the ghost of her reflection in the window. Yeah. It worked with the belt. Maybe a silver bracelet, maybe some small, dangly earrings (she'd retired the hoops after nearly having an earlobe ripped off by an alien perp about four months back), maybe some more over-stated shoes with the shirt. Instead of something conservative with a rounded heel, something shiny and with a dramatic pointed toe sticking from beneath her crisp ironed trousers.
She wasn't that girl any more—any pair of jeans, any top, so long as it was comfortable. And she was OK with that. This wasn't her world. She didn't need to be who she was there, or even who she was with him.
With a guilty, blushing smile, she slid her fingers into the back of her hair, tussling it as she sat back down. And the thing she'd learned, both with him, and here, was that you could be anyone you wanted to be. Hard work and all that aside—dressing the part was half the battle. The proper shoes with this outfit would make the mouth-breathers in research beg to have the book thrown at them, so long as it was Rose doing it. Oh, she'd never do it, but it was nice to know that she could have that kind of power, if she wanted it.
There were some benefits to playing dress-up, and thankfully she was a woman and could reinvent herself, via her wardrobe, every day if she chose. Smoothing the tiny wrinkles in the light purple side panels, she nodded approval at the apparition-like outline she saw in the window. Right now she was flirty and fun, trying to look like a grownup doing the nine-to-five. She kind of liked it.
Going back to her work, she pushed the teddy bear and mug toward the corner of her desk, freeing up some space. She thought today was going to be horrible. Almost didn't want to get out of bed. This could only be the worst Valentines Day of her life. There was no alternative. Six months since Norway, eight since Canary Warf—she should have been a puddle of runny mascara and tears. But she was ok.
Didn't miss him any less. Possibly still in need of therapy, definitely in need of some sense of conclusion.
But she wasn't off sobbing in a corner somewhere or worse.
She was OK. As OK as someone in her circumstances could be. Rose was thrilled to death for her parents, excited about her new brother. She was also so happy for Mickey and the person he'd become in the time they'd been separated—he'd found his place in the world, had back the only family that ever gave a damn about him, and had grown into a confident, secure man capable of doing what needed to be done. On top of that she was content to have a job where she made a difference and was taken seriously, despite her lack of formal education and the drawback of a never-ending supply of paper work.
She just…had that one thing. That one thing that kept this life at a level just shy of fantastic and two steps away from perfect.
And she was staring off into space, reliving adventures, stuck somewhere between just how bad her belly had ached after the Olympics after the number of confections topped with edible ball bearings they'd managed to consume in the chill night air that was still unseasonable for the time of year and a much earlier memory of Jack and heart shaped biscuits slathered with six different shades of sugary topping. Someone—she wouldn't say who—complained that it was simply some new flirting technique designed by Jack to get in either or both of his fellow travellers knickers before the evening was out. Didn't stop him from eating a full dozen of them though. Baker's dozen, if you counted the one he walked back to the control room with, leaving Jack whispering about how his nefarious plan was working.
Sticks filled with coloured sugar, rock candy, the almond cake on Ritan Four that had effectively ruined her for all cakes hence forth…
It was a damned good thing she'd done so much running out there, with him. Otherwise she'd have been more than a few sizes larger than her current self. It seemed like they'd eaten their way across the universe, when she thought about it like that.
So lost was she in her thoughts about all the confections that tasted weird in this universe that she missed the knock at her door. Not just the once, but twice. Lucy poked her head around the door, dark brown curls bobbing as she ducked inside. "Someone here to see you."
Groaning, Rose looked at her datebook. "I don't have anything on the books till tomorrow at ten."
Pushing up her thick black and white frames, Lucy drew her lips back apologetically. "He's not with Torchwood, Ma'am. He says that your father told him where to find you."
Rose swallowed back a moan of misery. Lucy was smart enough not to let just any old bloke wander in here saying that her father sent him. Obviously Lucy knew something she wasn't saying. It was probably someone from the government. It had to besome pencil pusher demanding an inquiry as to what went wrong with the Seene Bolnar last month, and since she'd been point on that case, she was about to be fried alive for Valentines Day. They'd been threatening an inquiry since the beginning of the week, and they'd probably put that plan into action when her phone call with the president's aide had gone belly-up yesterday afternoon. Politics. It always came down to that.
Things had been going too well today. Letting out a breath, Rose pulled herself together. "Show him in." Before Lucy could leave, she held up a hand. "No. Nix that. Show him to the conference room. The big one." She was not going to give up control of how she handled this day. If she was going to end up writhing like a sausage in a hot pan, she was at least going to put up a hell of a fight. "Don't tell him how long I'm going to be. Tell him I'll be with him as soon as I've finished my phone call."
Lucy nodded. Rose not being on the telephone was completely irrelevant. Lucy was, after all, smart. Leaving, the woman closed the door gently behind her.
Letting out a few more deep breaths, Rose contemplated how to approach this. Come in with a portfolio and a pen and grill him as hard as he was about to grill her? Maybe take nothing at all with her, showing that she had no fear of him, or his questions.
She decided upon the empty-handed approach, a sly grin spreading across her face. This was not going to go however this man thought it was going to, that was for sure. Rose Tyler, Defender of Earth did not bow or bend before some bureaucrat in a short-sleeved white shirt with an ink-stained tie and greasy hair. Then she looked down at her shirt. Maybe she should change.
To hell with it. She might be flirty, sassy and cleverly disguised as a responsible adult, but this bloke was not going to run all over her for heat of the moment command decisions—he wasn't there. And if flirty-sassy and ready for the club threw him off his game, all the better.
On second thought, she grabbed her favourite pen from the desk, taking that as her only weapon against mass stupidity. Another gift from Pete when she'd gotten off her requisite new-hire probationary period with Torchwood. There was something intimidating about it—thick polished oak with a silver nib. It might not impress this fellow much (despite it being a very expensive pen), but it made her feel better.
Toussling her hair again, she reached beneath the collar and grabbed hold of the tags, yanking them free. Sniffing, she tugged on the front of her new-old shirt and marched with slow intentional steps to the far end of the hall and the oversized conference room. Not only would the scale be awkward for this one-on-one meeting, but the wood paneling and green granite tables gave the space a dignity this pencil pusher would no doubt attempt to deny her.
Hand on the heavy conference room door, she screwed the most serene and care-free smile upon her face. Entering, she immediately turned her back to the room's occupant, closing the door as purposely and quietly as possible. It was a technique she'd learned from Pete, who was the master at getting the upper hand in these horrible boardroom kabuki dances. Her father was right—you didn't need to be a business man or a Torchwood agent or a covert operative…you just needed to make the other party think you were. It was how you held onto yourself when you were playing these games.
"So sorry," she breathed. "Conference call with a South East Asian chapter. Half of them don't speak English, the other half don't speak it very well…I'm lucky we got anything accomplished. I'm sure you know how those can be…" Completely ignoring his presence, she walked to the head of the table and put her hands on the tall-backed chair, prepared to make introductions. "Rose Tyler."
"Oh I should say."
She held out a hand and looked up at him for the first time. Suddenly her mouth ran dry and anything else clever she had to say just about went dribbling out the corner of her mouth and onto her shoe. "You're not the pencil pusher I was looking for."
Bright brown eyes twinkling and grin lighting his face, the Doctor took one hand out of his pocket and thrust it out to her, pumping it vigorously. "Pleased to make—remake your acquaintance. I'm called the Doctor, and I'm here for a single purpose."
She remembered to blink, but she was having trouble with that whole involuntary diaphragm movement and breathing thingy. In fact, she couldn't even tense up her muscles to resist or retreat when he yanked on that hand he'd been shaking, pulling her toward him.
Her chest crushed against his and one jacket-clad arm wrapped around her waist and he dipped her, before she could react and his lips crushed against hers.
Maybe that thing with the Seene Bolnar hadn't ended how she thought it did. Maybe she had been caught in that explosion, and she was, like, in a coma or something and this was all some head-trauma induced dream.
She was totally fine with that.
Because, like, really. First of all, she was having her mouth thoroughly trounced by the Doctor's tongue. Not that she'd never wondered what would happened if he'd used his oral fixation for good, instead of evil. But the Doctor? Here? She wasn't supposed to see him ever again. And the next part about why this was impossible—the Doctor kissing her. On the lips. With tongue. The odds of that happening were about the same as her winning the lotto. And a funny thing about the lotto—you had to play to win.
This was the best coma dream ever.
Finally, when she started to see stars from oxygen deprivation, he swung her back up to a standing position. "THAT is not what I came here to do," the Doctor announced, stepping back and reaching for something on a chair.
Rose pushed the hair out of her face and looked down at the blue jacket had thrust at her chest. Ok, this was a surreal coma dream. Could they go back to the part where there was, like, insane-good kissing? "What's this?"
The Doctor threw his hands up in the air in excited disappointment (was it possible for disappointment to be exciting?). "Don't tell me that isn't your jacket. I distinctly remember you throwing it over the rail in the control room before we went out to see your mother… I mean, I only came all this way to give you back your jacket."
Blinking, Rose examined the thing. Yes, it was her jacket. She'd traded it for the lighter hoodie before they'd gone to see her mother on their last day together. "You came an impossible distance, across universes, to return my jacket." Ok, maybe this wasn't a coma dream. Because that was something so ridiculous the Doctor would do it.
Obviously the kissing had been some kind of lapse in sanity or judgment on his part. Brown pinstriped suit, the royal blue shirt was different, but looked good. Crazy hair, Chucks. It was her Doctor.
Grinning brightly, the Doctor squeezed her so tight she was afraid something would snap. "I know! Isn't it fantastic? It took me forty-seven and a half years, but I figured out how to make it in one direction through the void. I just couldn't find the right parallel universe, but now I have, and now you have your jacket, and everything's fantastic!" He started bouncing up and down like a kid on a sugar high.
Her mind slowly caught up to what he was saying. "Ok. So you spent forty-seven years trying to bring me my jacket."
His lips smashed against hers again and he kissed her hard enough to make her see stars, without oxygen deprivation. "No, silly! I spent forty-seven years trying to find a way through parallel universes! I spent another hundred and eight looking for YOU!"
Blinking, Rose looked at the coat in her hand, then to the Doctor. Then the coat, then the Doctor… "Okay… and how do you know that I'm me? And not some other me, and that you're in the right-wrong world?"
Grabbing her arms, he spun them around in a circle. Obviously the intervening years had driven him mad. "Because, Rose Tyler, are one in a million! I have been to six-thousand, seven hundred and twenty-one realities, and you haven't existed in a one of them!" He smacked her lips again with his; it was almost like being licked by a dog. "Well, one in six-thousand, seven hundred and twenty-one!"
Skipping them in a circle again, he laughed, something care-free and wild. Childish and innocent—the sheer exhilaration of the moment erupting from his lips. "I found you I found you I found you."
Before he could continue on, she returned the sentiment, grabbing his face and pulling it to hers and exploring those pearly whites of his. A moment later, she tore her lips away, gasping for breath. "You also need to switch to decaf. And no more sugar."
Grinning ruefully, he crushed her arms to her sides again, breathing in the scent of her hair and feeling the pressure of her body against his for a moment, until he dipped her again. "Sugar helps me play. And I haven't had caffeine in…four days. I just…need to give you your jacket back."
His lips covered hers again, and she was glad that returning lost property was of such vital importance to him. Of course, she had a whole wardrobe in the TARDIS. He might have to give every piece of clothing back to her one at a time.
Yeah, that she could handle.
Closing her eyes, she slid her hand up his neck, into his soft, bushy hair. There was only one thought in her mind as their mouths continued this new and fantastic dance.