Title: Beneath Blue Suburban Skies
Characters/Pairing: Ninth Doctor/Rose Tyler
Rating: PG-13 ish?
Summary: The Ninth Doctor and Rose Tyler mistakenly end up in 1950s London, but all is not well on Florizel Street…AU rewrite of The Idiot's Lantern, part of A Man Who Wasn't There series.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything, BBC owns it all.
Beta: Extra super huge thanks to Bonnie for beta reading, and to queen0fthecastle for encouraging and occasionally harassing me about this!
AN: I'm sooo sorry that this update took forever! My life has been hella hectic and crazy lately, and I've been too stressed to really get much writing done. Finally though, Idiot's Lantern!
There was always a moment of pure excitement as the doors of the TARDIS opened to a new adventure. Even when their destination was, as now, someplace on her home planet…it still sent a thrill through her. Rose Tyler's bright pink pumps crunched against pavement as she stepped out of the time ship, her full satin skirts swirling about her legs.
"I can't believe you've got all of time an' space, and not once have you been to Disneyland." She looked over her shoulder at the doors, as the Doctor leaned casually against the frame. "Not once?"
"Oi, once you've been to Disneyplanet in the forty-seventh century it stops bein' quite so impressive."
Rose rolled her eyes. "We're goin' to the first one though, yeah? Openin' day?"
"Roughly. Eighteenth of July, nineteen fifty-five," he said. "The second day, technically, first was a bit of a mess. Plumbin' went all wrong, asphalt melted – took the company fifteen years to admit that it'd happened at all!"
She bit her lower lip to hide a grin. "Yeah, don't mind skippin' that. So, day two of Disneyland? Fun to be had? I'll be gettin' my picture taken with every character they've got, just to let you know."
"Figured as much." He held up a rather worn-looking disposable camera and grinned before he vanished back into the ship.
A sudden loud rumble kicked up from inside the ship, and before she'd had half a moment to panic she saw the reason why: a classic, pearlescent blue motorcycle roared into the street, pulling to a stop beside her. The Doctor grinned out from beneath a shiny white helmet, holding out matching pink gear. "Need a lift?"
Rose bit her lip, smiling coyly. "I don't know, Mum always said that I shouldn't take rides from strangers."
He raised an eyebrow and gave a significant look to the telephone box behind her. She grinned and ran to the more Earth-bound vehicle, slinging a leg over the back of the long banana seat and pulling the helmet over her hair.
"Couldn't get a two-seater?" she teased as she buckled the chin strap.
"There's a sidecar in the TARDIS!" he proclaimed cheerfully. "Wouldn't take a minute t-"
"S'alright, I'm comfy," Rose said quickly. She wrapped her arms around him and leaned against the warmth of his back.
He touched his hand against hers and smiled softly. "Me too."
She threaded her fingers in his and enjoyed the short moment before his attention turned to the next. She let out a shriek of laughter as the motorcycle leapt forward, hesitated, and then glided smoothly into the street.
She looked around curiously as they headed further into town, her brow furrowing. "So, we're going to the original Disneyland, yeah?" She had to shout to be heard over the engine, even resting her chin on his shoulder.
There was a pause. He looked around as they stopped at a traffic light, noting the British flags flying high, and the close-built brick houses. "Epcot?" he suggested hopefully as a red, double-decker bus drove past.
She laughed. "Would explain all the flags," she said, hugging him tighter. She looked up, tilting her head. "Really, though, what d'you think they're for?"
"Wanna find out?" She could positively hear the grin in his voice, and could only nod against his shoulder as he swung the cycle onto another road. There was a van ahead, and two men unloading a television set from the back of it. The Doctor was still grinning as they pulled aside and she hopped off the vehicle with nearly as much enthusiasm as she'd had in climbing on.
"Your driving," she said. She didn't expound, simply shook her head and secured her helmet to the seat. "Absolutely don't want to lose that," she added pointedly.
The Doctor just rolled his eyes and tugged her toward the men and, hopefully, a conveniently distracting bit of danger.
"There you are, sir, all wired up for the great occasion!" The man slammed the doors of his van shut and waved off his young customer.
The Doctor shot a glance at Rose. She raised an eyebrow and shrugged.
"Great occasion?" he queried, grinning brightly.
"Where you been living?" The little man scoffed at them. "Out in the colonies? The coronation of course!"
"Ah." The Doctor's grin widened. "Pretend I'm stupid-" he cut himself off at the loud, snorting laugh from Rose. He waited her for her to finish, rolling his eyes. "Pretend," he repeated. "Who are we crownin'? And, y'know, what're we crownin' them?"
Rose smiled, pressing her tongue between her teeth. "Since we're pretending," she said, holding back another giggle fit. "I'll be nice an' tell you." She waited until he met her eyes and just grinned wider at the absolute lack of comprehension in his expression. "The Queen?" He raised an eyebrow. "Queen Elizabeth!"
It was like dawn breaking across his face, as knowledge brightened his eyes. "Fantastic! See that, Rose? Not more than six months off! Not bad if I say so."
"Guess that means we're a bit early for Epcot," Rose teased. "So, London it is?"
"Can you hush an' let the man speak?" The Doctor gave her a stern frown, which she firmly ignored. In fact, she smiled wider.
The man in question just smiled bemusedly at the pair. "Well," he said awkwardly. "It's about time we had a celebration, isn't it? Nice bit of pomp and circumstance to brighten up the day."
The Doctor beamed at him. "Just what I love about you little people!" he declared happily. "Shadow of a terrible war behind you an' what d'you do? Throw parties, crown pretty young queens and play cricket. Fantastic."
Rose, whether out of sheer habit or actual inclination, ignored the speech. She heard a variation of it nearly every time a member of her species did something that pleased the Doctor. The most recent, and absolute final, time he had attempted to give such a speech to her had been shortly after she began sharing his bed. That she had put an end to very, very quickly.
She supposed though, that if he insisted on being such a fanboy, it was better that he focus his attention on her planet and people than say, sci-fi television. Much better to bounce about space and time stalking the progress of humanity than having them constantly end up 'accidentally' landing in William Shatner's garden.
Speaking of television…
"Look at all the TV aerials!" she said. "Looks like everyone's got one. That's weird, my mum said tellies were so rare, they all had to pile into one house."
"Not around here, love." The local smiled at her. "Magpie's Marvelous Tellies, only five quid a pop!"
"Oh, good deal, that," the Doctor said, nodding. He grinned at Rose. "Fancy a meeting with good Queen Liz?" He ignored the gasp of outrage and disapproving look from Mr. Magpie. "Could do with a party; not quite Walt Disney but she'll do, eh?"
"I'm always up for a party," Rose agreed, returning his smile and reaching out to lace their fingers together. "And I'd love to meet her!"
"Someone help me, please! Ted!" A woman's shriek shattered the jovial atmosphere. The Doctor spared Rose a quick glance before they both took off running, hands still linked, toward the cries.
"What's going on?" he demanded as they came to a stop beside the police car.
He tried to insinuate himself between one of the officers and their police car, but he was dodged as they pushed a blanket-covered man into the backseat of the vehicle. They ignored him and the increasingly desperate cries of the man's wife as they slammed the door shut behind him.
"Oi, what's he done?" The Doctor pushed his way in front of the oldest of the officers, but his attempts at making eye contact were ignored as he was brushed aside with a vague comment about his crime being 'police business'.
"Who'd they take?" Rose asked. The Doctor turned to snap the obvious – that he didn't know – when he spotted the teenage boy beside her. "D'you know him?"
"Must be Mr. Gallagher," he said. "It's happening all over the place. They're turning into monsters."
An irate man was storming onto the street. "Tommy! Not one word!" He gestured to the open door behind him. "Inside – now!"
"Sorry," Tommy said, glancing between them and backing away. "Better do as he says."
The Doctor looked after the police car, shot one quick look to Rose; she nodded back, and without a word they ran for his motorcycle and clambered on.
The race through the streets was exhilarating – and terrifying. Rose wrapped her arms rightly around the Doctor's waist, clutching to the leather as they roared after the police car.
That is, until they rather abruptly stopped roaring after them. The Doctor frowned at the dead-end alleyway that should have held several humans. "They're gone. How can they be gone? I was right behind them!"
"Yeah, I noticed!" Rose slapped his arm lightly. "I'm surprised they didn't turn around and arrest you for reckless driving; have you actually passed your test?"
"They were right here!" He glared at the wall. "This is the British police, not the Gestapo, they don't raid homes an' steal people away never to be seen again."
Rose tilted her head thoughtfully. "Monsters, that boy said…"
That got the Doctor's attention. He twisted and gave her an appraising look. "What's that?"
"Maybe we should go ask the neighbours," she said.
"Rose Tyler!" He said her name like it was the highest compliment, and she preened. "An' this is why I keep you about. Gotta have someone to think of the domestics."
"Exactly." She smiled happily, and then paused. "Oi!"
When the door swung open, Mr. Connolly was not entirely certain what he was expecting; however, a tall man who looked rather like he was on the run from the navy accompanied by a very pretty, very young blonde in a satin skirt was certainly not very high on the list.
"Hello!" They chimed, in perfect unison. The man raised a hand and wiggled his fingers in a cheerful wave.
He blinked at them, a scowl immediately forming across his less-than-pleasant countenance. "Who're you, then?"
"I'm the Doctor," still waggling the fingers.
She held her grin, waiting for him to expound. He didn't.
"And what're you doin' on my doorstep?" Mr. Connolly demanded.
"New neighbours," Rose said, slipping her hand into the Doctor's pocket. A moment later the psychic paper appeared from his other pocket, and was passed surreptitiously under the nose of their host. She flipped it open and displayed it, clearly showing the address of a very expensive house she'd spotted down the street. "Thought we'd introduce ourselves," she added.
"Oh!" A too-bright smile appeared on his face, and he stepped back. "Come in, yes, I'm sorry 'bout the mess. Rita, we've got company!"
The Doctor breezed past him into the home, tugging Rose behind. "Nicely kept little home, isn't it, Rose?"
"Beautiful," she agreed.
The Doctor stopped inside the door and glanced cheerfully at the pair. "Well, isn't this fantastic, neighbours, domestics –" Rose elbowed him – "bright little spot all your own. Mrs., ah…" he raised an eyebrow expectantly at Rita.
"Connolly," she murmured, glancing nervously at her husband.
"Now then, Rita, I can handle this!" Mr. Connolly boomed. "This man's a proper gentleman! And you're a doctor then, eh?"
"Yup!" The Doctor grinned. "The Doctor an' Rose Tyler, that's us."
Rose smiled at Mr. Connolly and Tommy before sliding onto the sofa and grinning at Mrs. Connolly. "Hello!" She greeted cheerfully.
"Lovely to meet you, Mrs. Tyler," Rita said hesitantly.
Rose blinked, eyes widening a bit. Her smile never faltered, but her chuckle was a bit weak as she opened her mouth to correct the woman.
"Lovely to meet you too!" The Doctor spoke before she could. "Hardly know a soul in London, the missus an' me," he said, now grinning in genuine amusement. "And with the coronation tomorrow, not got a place to see it!"
"Oh, you're welcome here!" Mr. Connolly said, his voice still booming with false warmth. "New neighbours, should be friendly-like on an occasion like that, eh?"
"I love new neighbours," the Doctor agreed. "Might just take you up on it; always fond of a party, me."
"Oh, me too," Rose agreed readily. "I'm sure it'll be just lovely, Mrs. Connolly," she added, making a point of addressing the timid woman directly, lowering her voice gently. "Should we bring anything; food or something?"
"No, no," she said, smiling slightly. "We are, well, we're fine. All planned, I'll be making snacks and punch for everyone here."
The Doctor glanced over, nodded encouragingly at Rose and then grabbed Mr. Connolly's attention across the room.
Rose shifted closer to Rita, propping her elbows on the edge of the sofa and speaking in just above a whisper. "Alright, then tell me, truthfully, what's wrong?"
Rita glanced at her husband then leaned closer herself. "Your husband, he's a doctor?"
Rose shifted awkwardly, shot a look at the man in question and nodded. "Yeah, he's brilliant. Just don't tell him I said so, yeah?"
Rita smiled for a moment before her expression crumbled and she clutched Rose's arm. "Can he help her? Oh, please, can he help her?"
Mr. Connolly's eyes shot to the pair and he stepped closer. "Now then, Rita, these folks don't need to know about our problems!"
The Doctor folded his arms. "Fair assumption, just happens to be wrong. We very much do need to know."
Rita began to cry. Rose moved and sat on the edge of the older woman's chair, rubbing her arms gently. "Tell us what's wrong," she said gently. "We can help."
"Alright now!" Mr. Connolly glared at them. "There's being neighbourly and then there's just intruding! Ain't any of your business, is it? I can take care of my own family!"
"Well, you're doin' a fair useless job of it," the Doctor replied scathingly. "People bein' taken –"
"I AM TALKING!"
"Well, shut up then!" The Doctor folded his arms and narrowed his eyes. "Unless you want to tell me what's goin' on, you're wasting my time, so sit down and be quiet!"
Mr. Connolly's face began to darken; his cheeks puffed out and he was nearly purple with rage when the Doctor turned to Tommy, completely ignored the older man.
"Right then," he said. "Tell me what's goin' on."
Tommy looked between his furious father and the serious stranger; there was a long moment where Rose thought he might give in and follow his family, but a loud bang resounded from the ceiling, and his spine straightened as he met the Doctor's eyes. "We started hearing stories; all around the place." Mr. Connolly finally looked away as his son began to speak. "People who've…changed; families kept it secret 'cause they were scared. The police started finding out; we don't know how – no one does. They just…turn up, come to the door, and take them. Any time of day or night."
The Doctor shifted, a deep frown creasing his forehead. "And then it came to your house," he said finally. He took a quick glance to survey the emotions in the room; the grieving Rita, furious Mr. Connolly, and the increasingly agitated Tommy. "Let's see her then."
The family exchanged serious looks, but finally Mr. Connolly nodded. "So sure you can help then, Doctor?" he sneered. "Follow me."
He led them up the old, narrow staircase to a room above. He pushed the door open roughly and stood aside.
"If you're going to help her, get on with it!"
The Doctor raised an eyebrow at the portly Mr. Connolly then brushed past him into the dark room. A woman's silhouette could be seen against the moonlit window, and he slowly moved deeper into the room. "Hello!" he greeted cheerfully, holding up an empty hand. "I'm the Doctor, an' you are?"
"Agatha Baxter," Mrs. Connolly whispered from the doorway. "She's my mother."
"Agatha, fantastic name," the Doctor grinned at the silhouette. "Now, Agatha, what's wrong?"
Slowly she turned, and as the moonlight crossed her face it showed only smooth, featureless skin where features should have been.
Almost instantly he pulled the sonic screwdriver from his coat pocket and turned it on, running it over the facial void.
"Her face has gone!"
The Doctor paused for a moment, glanced at Rose and rolled his eyes. "An' there we have it, the reason I keep you about. Thank you, Rose, hadn't noticed that meself."
"No need for sarcasm," she muttered, drawing closer. "What could do that?"
"Oh, loads of species," he said, still scanning her. "Anything that feeds from individuality for example, wipin' out everything that makes a person a person. Brain's all but shut down, too. Whatever it was it made a thorough job of it."
"What're we gonna do, Doctor?" Tommy asked fearfully. "We can't even feed her."
Rose opened her mouth to reply, but a crash from below interrupted her. "We've got company!" she said instead.
"It's them!" Rita pushed deeper into the room, shielding her mother with her own small frame. "They've come for her!"
The Doctor was not the only one to notice a momentary expression of satisfaction drifting across the face of Eddie Connolly. "What happened before this? Where was she – what did she do?"
Rita bit her lip, looking around the room worriedly.
"Quick, answer me!"
"Nothing; she doesn't leave the house!" Tommy shouted. "She was just –"
Whatever else he had to say was cut off by the entrance of several armed and none-too-willing to negotiate officers. "Oh, fantastic," the Doctor grinned widely, stepping in front of the faceless woman. "Backup; I was just here discussin' this problem with the locals, glad you're here to help! Now if you'd just step aside while I –"
A sharp punch to the jaw later the Doctor was flat on his back and Rose was perched beside him, his head cradled in her lap. She slapped his cheeks lightly, attempting to rouse him. "Oi! Doctor! Wake up! No time for a nap now, Doctor!"
"While I get punched in the face!" the Doctor said suddenly, sitting upright. Rose blinked at him. "Can't leave a sentence unfinished, Rose," he explained, his tone chiding. He pulled her to her feet and then released her as he bolted for the stairs.
Rose followed, quickly remembering why it was she never wore heels on her adventures with the Doctor. Even comfortable ones like these failed when it came to rapidly descending stairs. She stopped by the entrance to the living room as something caught her eye: the television. It was sparking, but not in the way even a bad television would be expected to spark; for one thing, she had never seen electricity spark red. Everything went a bit quiet as she moved toward it; even the increasingly annoyed yells of the Doctor were dim as clues began to fit together in her mind. The lights began to pull back into the TV set, and the roaring of the Doctor's motorcycle faded as he took off after the policemen.
She turned the set around, watching the sparks dance along the aerial and a small label designating the place of purchase: Magpie Electronics.
"You!" She jumped as Mr. Connolly stormed back into the living room, glaring at her. "Get the hell out of my house!"
"I'm going, I'm done!" Rose stood, hands on her hips. "But first, Mr. Connolly?" He met her eyes, veins throbbing furiously in his neck. "Your fly has been unbuttoned since I got here. I am a lady - you should be ashamed!"
She waited for him to adjust himself before she grinned and bolted from the house.