As I am a professional writer and have work to do to get paid, I have decided to deal with these thudding plot bunnies in the traditional manner - I will inflict them on others. Please see my Profile for the Challenges of the Month. This month's May Challenges have been added because... well, I had a reason and I'm sure it was a good one. The new challenges will run through the end of May. If you'd prefer to do April's, feel free. Please let me know when you respond to a Challenge so I can read and review. Stories are linked on my LJ.
This fic, a prequel to "As Its to Time", was written for Rynne for her winning bid in the Support Stacie Auction. First time posting on FFnet.
Part of the "Tomorrow is Yesterday" 'Verse.
After the Wedding Part 1
Love Did No More Begin
"It sounds like the set up for a joke," Jack said gleefully.
"Mumph," said the Doctor.
Rose giggled. "Two Time Lords and an Immortal are standing at a bar," she agreed.
"Exactly," Jack exclaimed enthusiastically. "And the Immortal turns to the bartender, and the bartender says..."
"Go away, Jack, I'm busy," said the bartender.
"Ianto," Jack whined, "you have to play along."
Ianto frowned at him. "I am playing along, Jack. I am fetching drinks. Rose asked me to tend bar so that you wouldn't, and I am."
Rose smiled at him sweetly. "And I appreciate it very much," she said. "C'mon, let's go sit down," she added. "He looks busy and everyone's having a good time, let's not spoil it."
"Mumph," said the Doctor.
Rose chuckled and leaned into his side. "All right. Almost everyone is having a good time."
They took seats at their table and Rose let the Doctor put his head on her shoulder. When he started nuzzling at her neck, however, she found it necessary to shove him off. "Don't do that," she said, to the hurt look the Doctor threw her. "Please, Doctor?"
He made an annoyed chuffing noise and flopped back in his chair, the absolute picture of utter defeat.
"Tuxedo of Doom," Jack said, wisely.
The Doctor brandished a tired fist at the Immortal, then flopped back into his crushed and destroyed position.
"Still, gonna be one for the record books," Jack continued, grinning because he was just like that.
"No, it will not," Rose said, crossly. "What'm I gonna say?"
"'Dear diary,'" Jack suggested for a start.
Rose smiled and took the Doctor's hand, patting it gently with her other one. "Today I married the man of my dreams." The Doctor smiled sweetly at her, and leaned close enough to rub their noses together. She let him do that for a moment, then pulled back, her dark eyes flashing. "The aliens didn't invade until after Jack said 'I now pronounce you man and wife.'"
Jack snickered. "But before 'You may kiss the bride,'" he added.
The Doctor made a noise that sounded a lot like he was grinding his teeth together.
"And my brave and selfless husband dove in to save the day with only his sonic screwdriver and his wonderfully chatty gob." The Doctor grinned proudly, then seemed to decide that maybe he was offended, and his face screwed up. Rose poked him in the side and he wiggled in the chair, his eyes dancing.
Jack shook his head, fighting hard to keep from pronouncing them the cutest couple in the Universe. It was almost disgusting how adorable they were, really. "Which annoyed the aliens," he prodded.
Rose rolled her eyes, then nodded. "And, although he rescued his lovely bride..."
"And her dress," Jack put in.
"And her dress," Rose agreed.
"Very important to save the dress," Jack added. "White dress. Very important."
"Shut up, Jack," Rose said with rolled eyes as Jack reached out to finger the pale fabric.
"But it's white. It's important that it's white for reasons that escape..." Jack grinned at her, his best wolfish grin, then wicked cheekily at the Doctor. "Well, all of us actually."
Rose blushed the most delightful shade while the Doctor struggled to grin, too, and winced horribly. "Jack!"
"You're the one who wanted a white dress, Rosie," Jack reminded her. "A white dress. I'd have to be blind, deaf, and stupid to believe you're supposed to wear a white dress."
"So gonna kill you," Rose murmured, and leaned on the Doctor. The older Time Lord hid his face in his bride's neck, nuzzling again, and she pulled away to continue as if it was the most important thing in the world. "He still managed to get spattered in alien attack goo."
"Mumph murple mumph mum," the Doctor said, probably correcting her usage of "alien attack goo" with the technical name of the slime in question.
"Alien attack goo," Rose repeated firmly, "which he just had to lick."
"You had to go and lick it," Jack reiterated to the Doctor, in case he wasn't already annoyed enough.
The Doctor made a gesture that was considered obscene by most humanoid species in almost every age throughout the entirety of recorded history. Jack just grinned.
"Of course, he just had to lick it," Rose repeated again, now sounding extremely annoyed. "And of course, it reacts oddly with Time Lord saliva. And of course, I now have plenty of time to write. In my diary. On my honeymoon." She threw her hands in the air, then let her head drop to the tabletop before her.
The Doctor put a hand on her back and tried to rub soothing circles across the stretch of skin left bare by the beautiful white wedding gown she was wearing. Rose shrugged him off, then thumped him, then laid her head on the table again. The Doctor glowered at Jack over the top of her golden head, his dark eyes blazing with the promise of all manner of unnatural torture.
"I'll go get her a drink," Jack offered.
"Mumph um mumph," the Doctor agreed.
Jack shook his head. It was their wedding reception, he hadn't ordered the aliens, and he certainly hadn't told the Doctor to lick anything. He would really love to know how this was, in any way, his fault. He stopped by the bar for only a minute, but saw the Doctor leading Rose to a quiet corner of the room and went to look for some more interesting way to get into trouble.
"Brigadier," said the tall blond in the doorway, his whole face caught up in his smile. "Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbrigde-Stewart."
The Brigadier sighed. "Hello Doctor," he said as he shook the proffered hand. He turned a little and looked at the small woman at the Doctor's side. "Miss Jovanka," he added.
"Good to see you again, Brig," Miss Jovanka answered, equal parts tom-boy and lady.
"I say, you did get old, didn't you?" The Doctor had pulled out his spectacles and was inspecting the Brigadier's face with a worried expression in his vividly blue eyes.
"You're a bit out of your normal time frame, Doctor," the Brigadier felt compelled to point out.
The Doctor's expression got even more puzzled, if that was even possible, his head whipping around to consider the TARDIS out on the lawn. "I take it this isn't 1984?" he said as he looked back at the Brigadier with quite a nervous frown on his youthful features.
"Not even the right century," the Brigadier agreed.
"Oh, dear," the Doctor said, while his companion looked up at him and glowered furiously. He looked down at her and sniffed delicately.
"Doctor!" the small woman almost snarled.
"Still," the Doctor said, bracingly, taking in the crowd in the room off to their left, "it is a party, Tegan. You like parties, and you must admit they're much nicer than airports. Are you hosting a wedding reception, Brigadier?" He crinkled up his face in a petulant, annoyed expression. "Please tell me it isn't your own. Surely it can't have taken Doris this long to finally pin you in place?"
The Brigadier chuckled. "Doris and I have been happily married for many years. We were sensible. We eloped." He shook his head at the young couple dancing together in the ball room. "I can't say those two were ever sensible, and he certainly isn't."
The Doctor considered the slowly swaying bride and groom. "I don't recognize them. New to your group, are they?"
"You could say that," the Brigadier agreed blandly. "You're welcome to come in, of course, Doctor, as long as you promise not to bring chaos in with you. We've had quite enough of that today."
The Doctor gave a broad, beatific smile, showing his slightly crooked teeth. "Just Tegan, and she's quiet as a mouse."
Tegan rolled her eyes. "When you get struck by lightning, don't be anywhere near me," she said. "Thank you for having us," she added, turning her attention back to the Brigadier completely. "I don't suppose they'll mind?"
"Miss Jovanka, you're on the guest list, I assure you."
The Doctor's face fell and went completely petulant now. The Brigadier had to stifle a grin at the thought that at least this one didn't pout. Not that the other one could at the moment. "And I'm not?" he asked, all indignation.
"Are you kidding, Doctor?" Tegan said. "No one ever knows when or where you'll show up. How can they invite you to anything?"
The Doctor seemed to consider this, then nodded sagely. "Very true," he agreed.
The Brigadier pointed them in the direction of the open bar and leaned back against the wall. Harkness happened to be standing handily nearby, so he summoned the annoying immortal over with a tilt of his head.
He wondered who was going to have the job of explaining to the Doctor that the groom was never on the guest list.
Just as he'd almost managed to work up the nerve to ask Tegan if she might fancy a dance, just one dance, some excruciatingly pretty chap in an antique military uniform swept her out onto the floor. The Doctor sighed his frustration - they were never going to get on, he didn't know why he tried, really - and turned to the extremely compassionate looking young bartender. He ordered a coffee because he wasn't in the mood for alcohol and didn't expect to find tea at a wedding.
He was rewarded with quite the best cup of coffee he had ever tasted, and a few moments of understanding conversation with the bartender who was, apparently, Tegan's dance partner's regular - erm - dance partner. Or possibly former dance partner, the Doctor wasn't quite certain on that point. When the young man went to serve someone else, the Doctor turned to look at the bride and groom, who were still swaying together in a quiet corner as if in defiance of the loud and fast music being played.
Knowing he was in his own future, the Doctor wondered if they might be future companions of his. Time clung to them rather tightly, as if enamored of their very presence. Though he forced himself not to look at their time traces, no matter how he wanted to do, he could clearly see they were time travelers and familiar with wonders.
As a result of his study, the Doctor suspected he was the only one who saw it when the bride abruptly stopped dancing. Her mouth opened in an 'o' that was shaped like fury, and her eyes blazed. The groom's eyes blazed just as brightly as they glared at each other.
Then, as if it was a perfectly choreographed event, they stormed off in completely opposing directions. The young bartender appeared behind the Doctor, and the bride appeared beside him, and he was rather unexpectedly in the middle of something that looked like it was about to be a wedding reception disaster.
"Do you need anything Rose?" the bartender asked. He looked like the perfect bartender, the ideal combination of sympathy, serenity, and seriousness, all exquisitely tailored into an Armani suit.
"Just water, please, Ianto," she said. She looked out over the actual dance floor and smiled. "And I see Jack's found someone to disgrace with his presence."
"I'd give you the odds, Rose, but I've never met the lady in question." The bartender placed a water with ice and lemon in front of the bride - Rose, apparently - and turned to assist a young black woman in neat UNIT dress, whom the Doctor had never met.
"Bloody martyr," Rose muttered into her water glass. She turned around, her elbows resting on the bar, and reclined in a fashion that was decidedly not lady-like. Apparently, she also didn't realize her friend had deserted her, because she said, "If it is the last thing I ever do, I am going to convince that man that not everything that happens is his fault."
The Doctor shook his head at this and felt compelled by something - whether it was the beauty of the distressed bride, or the fondness he heard behind her anger, he didn't know - to put in his two pence. "Couldn't possibly be," he said. "Everything that happens is my fault."
Rose turned to him, then, a ready smile on her face, and the Doctor was struck momentarily speechless by the light in her eyes. For just the slenderest filet of time, he thought he saw worlds begin and end in the dark gold depths. She blinked and it was gone, but the Time Lord was now caught.
Tegan and her erstwhile escort appeared while the bride and the Doctor smiled at each other, with the Doctor utterly clueless as to why he might be smiling so. "The lady needs a whiskey and soda, please, Yan, and I'll have my usual," the man - whom the Doctor assumed to be Jack - said.
The bartender - who seemed to be Ianto, or just Yan, sometimes - said something decidedly snarky, but the Doctor didn't register what it was because he was too busy trying to decide if he'd seen this young woman before and, if so, where. She looked like she knew him. She was smiling like she knew him.
"Probably better put your eyes back into your face before the groom comes back, Doctor," Tegan murmured. He could tell from her tone that he was the only one meant to hear this rather amusing and unnecessary advice, but it made Jack laugh.
"Rose," he said, "may I present Miss Tegan Jovanka? And you know him, of course. Biblically."
"Shut up, Jack," said Rose, and her smile finally released the Doctor from its spell. She turned to Tegan, her smile now smaller but just as open. "I've heard so much about you," she said, and that was it. She was hugging Tegan as if they were old friends, and Tegan, though startled, was hugging her back.
"Better," Jack said when the bride stepped back and grinned cheekily at the Doctor's bemused companion.
"I promised I'd never pull that stunt again, an' I haven't, Jack. You weren't even there, an' it wasn't that bad. Speakin' of which. Tegan, have you met Sarah Jane? She's here somewhere."
Tegan smiled. "I don't think... No, I haven't; who's Sarah Jane?"
"Jack, you've gotta introduce them, please?"
"Must you?" the Doctor asked plaintively.
Rose's smile batted up to him again. "We need to know each other. You don't get it, an' that's fine, but we REALLY need to know each other."
As Jack led Tegan away, the Doctor heard her ask Jack, "What did you mean, biblically?" He suddenly wondered about that himself, and turned to Rose to ask her.
"Dance with me?" she requested, her hands outstretched.
She knew him, this big-eyed stranger in his oldest human friend's house. She knew him, and he found himself almost drawn to her. "Who are you, Rose?" he asked.
She grinned, her tongue just visible at the edge of her smile, and he was fascinated. "I'm the bride," she said. Her attempt at a haughty expression collapsed almost immediately into giggles as her South London accent came back, full strength. "An' by human custom, everybody dances with the bride. Even you, Doctor." She took his hand, their fingers entwining as if it was perfectly natural for them to do so. Her skin was cool against his palm and the Doctor was startled, but decided to blame it on the glass she had been holding. "I know for a fact that the Universe doesn't implode if the Doctor dances, so c'mon, give it a go."
Though reluctant, the Doctor nodded and moved to lead her to the dance floor. She shook her head and tugged, and they were soon in the quieter area where she'd been dancing with her husband just moments ago. He frowned. "Is this a good idea?" he asked.
She shrugged. "Dunno," she admitted. Dark eyes shining as she gazed up at the Doctor, Rose danced anyway.