He's sitting where he was told to, in the small room that's designated for the groom. Simon is out there, performing his duties as an usher before he stands up with him at the altar.
All the time he was planning and plotting and scheming to marry Rose, he never looked this far ahead, to a small room in a church. When he pictured marrying Rose it had been something vague, perhaps eloping to Las Vegas or Gretna Green. Did people still elope to Gretna Green?
Jackie had had her way in this, as well, vetoing roundly Rose's suggestion of marrying at the mansion. For his part, he's glad to be marrying Rose, and he would gladly submit to any ceremony that will make it as official and as binding as possible.
The Doctor stands and stares at his reflection. He's wearing a tuxedo, black tie. Jackie had made some noises about the type of suit he ought to have, based on the time of day. He'd ignored her. He has the tux, so he's going to wear it.
And Rose has a particular fondness for the tuxedo. Seems a shame to let her down today of all days.
He's still him. Dark hair, dark eyes. A body that will age and grow, but never change into a different one. He's stuck with this one, all right.
He tilts his head back and forth. "Could be worse."
"What could be?"
The Doctor turns around. "Hello, Pete."
"You ready?" Pete asks.
The Doctor clears his throat. "Just about."
"I know you haven't got any family," Pete says awkwardly. "So I thought I'd come and see if you needed anything."
The Doctor frowns lightly. "No, I don't think so. Is there something else I should have?"
"No. You look good." Pete nods at the pink rose in the Doctor's lapel. "Got your flower, then?"
"Yes, yes I did. And you."
Pink roses, to match the flowers Rose was holding in the movie they shot, when he asked her to marry him.
It's his wedding day, and if anyone is going to be nervous today it ought to be him, but he senses something coming from Pete.
"Everything okay, Pete?" Surely he's not regretting the expense of all this.
"Jackie didn't want kids," Pete says abruptly. "My first wife, Jackie. Obviously. She never wanted to lose her figure. We had a dog instead. Named her Rose."
The Doctor nods. "I remember."
"One day I was on top of the world. My marriage was in a bit of trouble but I thought that we could work things out. As soon as I was done with my operative work, we could fix everything. And then it all disappeared." Pete slides his hands into his pockets and looks out the window. "My wife was killed."
"I'm sorry," the Doctor says, apologizing once more for what he knows wasn't his fault. He didn't bring the Cybermen to this world but he still feels responsible.
"I know I wasn't kind to Rose when she tried to tell me who she was." Pete glances at him. "But I had three years to think about it. Three years to think about Rose and her mother."
The Doctor nods, comprehension coming. "You knew what would happen when the Cybermen came through, didn't you? You were going to find Rose and Jackie."
"Yeah." Pete laughs. "Yeah, I was. I didn't want to admit it, but I couldn't stop thinking about them."
"I know the feeling."
"You met him. The other...me? Rose's father?" Pete has heard this before, but he needs to hear it again. Needs to hear that it's okay for him to take a dead man's family from him.
"Yeah. He was a lot younger - Rose was a babe in his arms. But he was a good man. It's a tragedy that he never got to see her grow up."
"I've got her now. She's mine. Wasn't always easy - me with a grown daughter out of the blue. But she and Jackie made it all work here. Rose means a lot to me."
The Doctor will make many exceptions for Pete's special status today, but on this point he's not going to bend.
"She was mine first," he says lightly, but a thread of steel runs beneath it. "From our proper world to this one, she was mine. I won't ever hurt her."
"I know." Pete looks at him levelly. "I know you won't. But you're not the only one she belongs to."
She was the Doctor's first, and only Jackie Tyler has a greater claim on Rose than he does. And still the Doctor nods, accepting Pete's verdict. This, too, is what family means.
"Something old," Jackie says from the middle of the bride's room in the church she chose for her daughter to be married in.
Rose looks down. "The bracelet." On her wrist is a diamond bracelet that Pete gave to Jackie when Tony was born. For a bride who landed in the world with nothing to her name just a few years ago, finding something old is the hardest part of the old ritual.
"Donna lent me a barrette." It's of semi-precious stones, nothing very fancy, but it was perfect to fasten in amongst the curls on Rose's head.
Rose lifts her skirts. "A garter."
"Sixpence for your shoe?"
"In my shoe," Rose confirms.
Riley watches from the sidelines, highly amused. On this world, there is no such bridal tradition, and she finds it fascinating.
"You can still change your mind," Jackie says, and Rose looks at her mother in surprise.
Jackie smiles. "Just kidding. You're happy, aren't you?" she asks. "He does make you happy."
"Do you have to ask?" Rose says softly.
Jackie shakes her head. "No. I've known you've loved him since you were nineteen years old. I just never thought I'd be standing here today."
"Either did I," Rose admits. "But try and stop me now that I am."
The music starts up. Jackie picked it out and Rose doesn't recognize it. She starts down the aisle on Pete's arm, amazed that she's doing something so traditional.
Rose sees just about everyone from Torchwood, as well as the executives from Vitex. A large number of people from Sam Lively Productions are there, and she's pleased that they've risked Torchwood to come to her wedding. Sam and Donna are sitting near the front on the groom's side. Donna waves excitedly when she sees Rose.
"Your mum is over the moon with this," Pete says as they slowly move to the front of the church. "Thanks."
"Oh, Dad. Thank you for doing this for us."
At the altar, Pete takes Rose's hand from his arm and walks her to the Doctor. He's standing there looking a bit nervous, but his face broke out into a smile when he saw Rose and now he's beaming as he takes her hand and holds it tightly.
"Hello," she greets him.
They turn and face the minister, ready to begin their newest adventure.
"Do you, John Smith, take this woman to be your wife? To love her, comfort her, honor her, in sickness and in health? And forsaking all others so long as you both shall live?"
"Forever," the Doctor says.
The minister is thrown by this. "I beg your pardon?"
"My vows are forever. Not as long as we both shall live. Forever."
"That's not the way the service is read," the minister murmurs. In this universe the marriage ceremony is the marriage ceremony, and no one writes their own vows.
"That's how I'm saying them," the Doctor says pleasantly.
"Just do what he says," Simon mutters.
The Doctor turns to look at him. "I'm being very precise," he says firmly. "That is what I mean."
The minster is still waiting for a response.
"Are you sure you want to muck up your wedding to do it?" Simon asks.
"Very good." The minster seizes on this as a response to his question and turns to Rose.
He clears his throat. "And do you, Rose Marion Tyler, take this man to be your husband?"
"To love, comfort, honor him, in sickness and in health?" Rose nods. "And forsaking all others so long as you both shall live."
"Forever," Rose says.
"Oh, honestly," the minster mutters.
"They're our vows," Rose says reasonably.
"It seems fair that we get to choose the wording," the Doctor adds.
Simon is sincerely regretting his decision to stand up at the altar. He is fairly sure Pete is aiming a gun at his head right now, just waiting for something wrong to happen.
"Say it, Rose," Riley urges her quietly. "You want to get married, don't you?"
"Of course I do-"
"Very well," the minister interrupts, taking her answer for the response to her vows. "Now, John, you say to her, 'with all my worldy goods I thee endow'."
"My worldly goods," the Doctor repeats.
"With all my wordly goods I thee endow," the Doctor says promptly.
"The ring?" The minister looks to the best man for this. Simon shrugs.
The mister looks at the bridal pair. They hold up their hands, wedding rings clearly visible.
He controls himself with an effort. "Very well. By the power invested in me, I pronounce you husband and wife." He turns to the congregation. "May I introduce Doctor and Mrs. John Smith."
"Oh, no," the Doctor says. Rose looks at him.
"Shouldn't it be... I don't know. Where's your name gone to?" He looks at the minister. "She's always been Rose Tyler. Is that what she's called now? Mrs. John Smith? It's not even my real name."
The mister's eyes bulge. "What?"
"We can change it. Do you want to be Doctor and Mrs. Tyler?" Rose suggests.
He frowns thoughtfully as he considers this. Simon clears his throat and tries to avoid catching Jackie's eyes. He can tell that she's having conniptions over the hold up. Tony is squirming around on the seat beside her.
Riley is fidgeting with her bouquet. "Tyler-Smith," she whispers.
Rose and the Doctor and the minister and Simon turn to look at her. Seeing their heads move, the entire church looks at Riley as well.
"Change your name," she tells them. "Be the Tyler-Smith family. Everyone's happy, yeah?"
Rose and the Doctor look at each other and smile.
"Done," the Doctor says briskly.
"I love it," Rose says happily.
The minster lets out a deep, deep breath. "May I present Doctor and Mrs. Tyler-Smith," he says wearily. "You may now kiss the bride."
The Doctor kisses his bride enthusiastically. The congregation begins to applaud, Jackie loudest of all.
With his arms still around Rose, the Doctor looks at the minister. "Shouldn't that have come before you pronounced us husband and wife?" he asks politely.
The photographer poses the family groups around ruthlessly, treating them all like puppets who won't stay where he puts them. On the sidelines roams some of Sam's crew, videotaping the entire thing for later enjoyment. Knowing Sam, he'll make them sign a disclosure statement later so he can use part of it in an upcoming movie.
"Bride and groom now," the photographer calls.
Rose and the Doctor move forward obediently. They smile and look into the camera, trying not to squint. On the sidelines Jackie is crying, continuously and silently, into a handkerchief.
"Your mum's gone off the deep end."
"No, she's finally accepted that you are now mine." He sounds pretty smug about that. "I always knew I'd get you in the end."
"You did?" Rose is surprised into a laugh.
"Oh, yes," he assures her.
The wedding party and guests moves back to the mansion, and the back lawns and tent are filled with people.
The Doctor keeps scheming up ways to leave, but someone always seems to want to talk, or take his picture, or force him into something he doesn't want to do, when all he wants is to take Rose's hand and run.
After an hour he gives up. He's come this far, he may as well concede the entire day and evening to Jackie. He allows himself to be photographed and congratulated. Colleagues from the scientific world have come, awed at their surroundings, so different from the academic world. They appear delighted that the secretive Dr. Smith has married the Vitex heiress.
There is one, horrifying moment, when the Doctor and Jackie are expected to dance together. Rose and Pete readily move to the dance floor, but the Doctor and Jackie are left standing like statues. The music grows persistent, and people are starting to notice. He manfully swallows and stiffly extends his arms to her. Jackie nods nervously, and he puts a hand on her waist and she puts a hand slowly on his shoulder. Their other hands clasp in a light hold, and he sincerely hopes for time to speed up.
And then it hits him - how absurd that poor Jackie Tyler has just watched him marry her daughter. And he laughs with joy and spins her around, this mother-in-law who's not all that much older than he is. Jackie's hair falls down, and she laughs like a lunatic, kicking off her shoes and letting him spin her around.
Eventually she abandons him altogether for the CFO of Vitex. Pete finally cuts in for a dance.
The Doctor finds himself facing Donna, and the he tries to ignore the odd lurch his heart gives.
"Spare a dance?" she asks.
He smiles and holds out his arms.
"This is lovely," she tells him. "It's been lovely."
"It was all Jackie," he tells her. "I just showed up."
"Well, that's what the groom is supposed to do," Donna allows. "We were looking at the scene with you and Rose, at the end of the film? Sam thinks it's one of the best shots."
"Again, I just showed up."
"Stop it." But she smiles. "Hey. Listen."
"Do you feel it?" she whispers.
"Do I feel what?" the Doctor asks, glancing around.
"Every time I see you," she says slowly, "I feel like I'm supposed to know you. Am I supposed to know you?"
"You do know me."
"No, something else."
"Why do you think that there's something else?" he asks, stalling for time, hoping the band stops playing so he can bolt.
"Just a...just a feeling I get."
"Okay, so it's stupid," she says briskly. "Been hanging around too many aliens, I have."
"Ah, my cue," Sam says from behind them, and Donna abandons the Doctor without so much as a backwards glance.
"You'll have to tell her someday, won't you?" Rose asks quietly from beside him.
He lets her take the lead in a slow dance because they're already on the dance floor.
"Maybe. Maybe not."
"She feels something, that connection. I think it's her to the other Donna. You know, back home?"
He leads her off of the floor to stand by the edge of the tent, away from everyone else.
"Maybe she does. It's not something I want to think about right now."
"Or ever?" Rose guesses shrewdly. "I know you, love. You're the master of avoidance."
"Well. Sometimes things need to be avoided."
"And sometimes they can't be. Sometimes they need to be faced."
He wraps his arms around Rose and heir hands meet in front of her. She looks down at their wedding rings and smiles.
"Your dancing was something else. I haven't see Mum laugh so hard in ages," she says.
He murmurs something as he rests his chin on the top of her head.
"You know what?" Rose continues.
She twists her head to look back at him, their hands still together.
"I love you," she says clearly, so there can be no doubt. "All that is, all that was, all that ever will be. Through all that, I will love you."
Rose is losing interest in the entire affair, to be honest, and would love nothing more than to leave for the honeymoon. The destination hasn't been revealed to her but she has it on good authority that the Doctor requested three weeks' leave for both of them, as well as passports. She only hopes they won't have to travel far by zeppelin.
And that it won't involve aliens.
Or be anywhere even close to bloody Norway.
She's standing outside of the tent, looking up at the stars. The Doctor was seized upon by one of Pete's elderly great-aunts, and is being forced to listen to an long anecdote about Rose's childhood that can't possibly be true, seeing as how Rose did not grow up here and she's not this Pete's daughter.
The guests are inside the tent for the most part, dancing and eating the lavish meal that Jackie ordered.
"Good evening, Bride." Rose looks up and sees Sam and Donna standing there.
"Hi. Are you two having fun?"
"I am, yeah. Are you?" Sam asks.
"Yes." Rose smiles. "It's been a lot of fun."
"It's a gorgeous set-up here," Donna says. "Your mum's over the moon with it all."
"Yeah, that's my mum."
"I was talking to some of your Torchwood mates over there. They seem to have some kind of pool going on whether you'll leave before the cake is cut."
"Really?" It seems an odd thing to bet upon.
"And whether the Doctor will try to explode the cake when you slice into it."
"Or if aliens will interrupt the festivities."
Rose starts to walk over to those Torchwood employees when Sam starts to laugh and grabs her arm. "Just kidding, Rose. Honestly, you humans are..." He catches Donna's eye and stops. "Anyway!" He digs through his tuxedo pocket. "We have something for you."
"I don't think so," the Doctor says from behind them. Walking around, he slides his arm around Rose's waist, keeping her close to his side.
Sam grins. "Relax. Here. From Donna and me." He hands Rose a small box. Opening it, she has a strange feeling of familiarity. People have been giving her jewelry all day, she thinks humorously.
Inside is a small round pendant made of sparkling little diamonds. It's hanging from a silver chain.
"It's lovely, Sam," Rose says, but doesn't know what else to say. It seems a bit awkward to thank a man for giving her jewelry when her new husband is standing right there.
But she has underestimated the Doctor. He reaches out and lifts the pendant. "Are these Arborean stones?"
Sam is pleased. "Yes."
"What's that?" Rose asks.
The Doctor lifts the pendant up all the way and hangs it between them so that she can see the stones shine. "They're stars. Actual ancient stars taken from the Arborean constellation. They renew every few thousand years, and when they die they're mined. These stones are what's left."
"How do you know that?" Sam asks, and the Doctor looks as guilty as if someone just accused him of theft.
"Oh, I must have heard it from somewhere," he says vaguely.
"Heard it where?" Donna presses.
"Oh, around, I guess."
The pendant catches some light from the twinkling lights hanging on the tent, and Rose blinks
Sam was waiting or that. "You can still see the star within, sometimes," he tells her.
"It's gorgeous," she says, honestly and heartfelt.
"I'm glad you like it. Something from across the stars, yeah?"
The Doctor slips it around Rose's neck and fastens the clasp. It rests right in the hollow of her throat.
"It's an unbreakable chain, too," Donna adds. "No matter what happens, it won't break."
"Thank you," Rose says.
"There is a legend about the Arborean stones," the Doctor says, staring at the pendant. "That as long as the stone is there the star can be seen." His voice is low and hypnotic as he recites from memory something he's known for a very long time. "That it will never completely die. And that if a beautiful woman wears them, her beauty will never fade."
"Now that sounds like something I can get behind," Donna says.
Sam is watching the Doctor. "That's not known here. No one has ever brought those stones to Earth before. How do you know that?"
But Rose smiles at them both and takes her husband's hand. "We have a cake to cut," she tells them, and leads the Doctor away.
But the cake, a truly gorgeous creation of four tiers and pink and white buttercream frosting, surrounded by bouquets of pink roses tied with pink ribbons, will have to wait for someone else.
"Are we ready?" Rose asks. "No one will notice if we leave."
They sneak out right there and then, him in his tuxedo and her in her wedding dress. The car has been packed with their bags, and they get in and drive away with no one the wiser. One of the security guards sees them, but he only smiles and waves.
Driving down the freeway, windows open to let in the warm air, Rose removes her veil and laughs out loud. "We did it!" She lets the veil float through her fingers and out of the window, and they both whoop with laughter to see it fly down the freeway.
"We did it," he agrees with a grin. He turns his head and smiles at her.
"What?" she asks self-consciously.
He shakes his head. "Just looking at you."
"Because you're my wife," he says simply.
She once saw all that is, all that was, all that ever could be. She did not see this happening to her. If she had she would have tried to avoid it no matter what the cost. It's only now that she understands it's what was meant to happen all along.
When they reach the hotel where they've planned to stay for the night, he gets out and hauls their bags out of the car. He long ago abandoned his black jacket and tie, and his white shirt hangs messily outside of his trousers, the top button undone.
Rose steps out of the car. It's dark but the lawn is lit by some lights along the building. The heels of her shoes sink into the grass, and she steps neatly out of them, standing on the grass. Holding out her arms, she starts to spin, her skirt belling as she moves.
He stands and admires her. His wife. He would give anything to change the past, to allow his family and his people the chance to keep living on. How could he have known that their destruction would mean his salvation at the hands of one young, human shopgirl?
Rose has stopped spinning and is watching him. "Well?"
He sets the bags down. "Well, what?"
She smiles slowly. "Well, let's go find the honeymoon suite."
Later when Rose is still asleep, sprawled across the gorgeous bed with its insanely expensive linens in the honeymoon suite, he walks outside. It's cool out, and he's only wearing jeans and a t-shirt. His feet are bare.
Still, he stares at the sky. These are his stars after all, and he's starting to know them very well.
He stands up straight and summons all he can, and throws out a name to the heavens, willing it to cross over to the one who carries that name, forgotten though it might be.
"Thank you," he throws to the heavens. "Be at peace."
He thinks he can feel a gentle smile in reply.
"Do you think," she begins, and then stops. This is not the day for that question.
"Do I think what?" he asks absently, concentrating on merging into traffic.
She takes a deep breath. "Do you think this is what he meant, back on the beach?"
"I think so," he says easily. He turns to smile at her, and her heart fills with love for him. "I think he wanted it. He hoped for it."
She nods. "Me, too." She hopes he is well, that other Doctor. From now on she will not think of him except as a deeply loved memory. Her future is right here beside her, and it's one she's going to seize.
"You still haven't told me where we're going, you know."
"Oh, I thought we'd go traveling."
"I mean, I've been on this world for months and months, and I don't know what's happening or what's out there!"
"We've been a bit busy," she says.
"And there's no telling when the TARDIS will be operational," he continues.
"Shall we tour the world?"
"The world?" she says in surprise, startled into laughter. "All of it?"
"Well, no. Not all of it. Not right now, obviously. But I think we can make a good start."
"Where are we going first?" Rose asks.
He takes his eyes off the road and smiles at her. She smiles back.
"Further than we've ever gone before."