Defender of the Earth
Chapter Thirty: Star Knight: Something New Begins
Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who or any of the spinoff material and I gain no income off of this story, just the satisfaction of playing with the characters.
Rose must have fallen asleep because the next thing she was truly aware of was Shareen shaking her awake. Groaning, Rose looked up at her friend, squinting in the sunlight. Sighing, Shareen adjusted herself to put Rose's face in her own shadow and examined Rose's face.
"You look like hell," Shareen said after a moment.
"Thank, Shareen," Rose grumbled. "I can always count on you."
"Come on, inside and then you can tell me all about it."
Allowing herself to be led inside, Rose sat down at the kitchen table calmly while Shareen rang up Sharon and put the kettle on. Leaning, on her hand, Rose flinched at the state of her hair and quickly darted to the loo in order to splash some water on her face and brush her hair. When she returned, Shareen had set out a cup of tea for her and was calmly sitting at the table waiting for her.
"Sharon will be here in ten minutes," Shareen said. "Now that she's passed her test she's enjoying that new car she bought."
Rose smiled and grabbed onto that conversation topic. "I'm still debating between car and motorcycle."
"Motorcycle?" Shareen asked with a raised eyebrow.
"My mum won't ask me to drive her anywhere," Rose replied with a small smile that made Shareen relax slightly.
They sat in what was surprisingly comfortable silence and Rose could only be silently grateful that she had two friends so in synch with her. Once Sharon arrived Rose knew she'd be telling them everything and in the process, she'd probably come to some epiphany and they would offer not only their support but also bits of advice. About eight minutes later Shareen stood and began preparing another cup of tea. As if on cue, Sharon Allen came rushing through the front door and into the kitchen. She took one look at Rose and instantly moved over to hug her friend. Watching with a soft amused smile, Shareen waited for Sharon to take a seat next to Rose before she brought over another cup of tea and plate with Rose's favourite chocolate biscuits on it.
"Whenever you're ready honey," Shareen said as she retook her seat.
Rose couldn't help but smile as she picked up on the biscuits and ate it slowly while her friends just sat with her. She was grateful for the silent support as she struggled to gather her thoughts. After licking the crumbs from her fingers, Rose took a breath and started to talk.
"I did something really stupid last night and this morning. Well, I guess I should start by telling you that UNIT called me yesterday to help deal with some alien crisis. It turned out okay and I'll give you the complete story of that later. Thing was though yesterday morning I saw this bloke watching me. It was the Doctor and when I got home yesterday I talked with him." Pausing, Rose stared into her teacup as if it held all the answers. "Well a lot happened, but it was clear that something happens to me in my future. I'm not dead, but I'm separated from the Doctor and he doesn't know where I am. So he told me that 'time can be rewritten' and told me to stay away from him."
"So you gave him the letter," Shareen said softly. "How did he take it?"
"It just said Bad Wolf," Rose said with a laugh, "I've seen those words a lot. Remember that's what Lumen said to me right before she went back into the painting and Eve said it to me too. The Doctor knew what it meant; it seemed to give him hope that I was okay wherever I'm… going to be." Rose groaned and rubbed her head. "Then he snogged me."
"How was it? Good?" Sharon asked with a grin. For her question, Sharon got a light smack on the head from Shareen.
Flushing, Rose nodded and Sharon grinned, poking Shareen. "Yeah, it was a really good kiss except we were in my bedroom at the time and things sort of escalated." Rose blushed again. "As in we slept together."
"I wasn't expecting you to sleep with the Doctor," Sharon said with wide eyes.
"I wasn't either," Rose admitted with a sigh. "But I did."
Then the whole story just poured out as Rose told them all about the Durmino coup, meeting Tosh, standing up to the General only to come home and find the Doctor sulking about. She recounted their awkward conversations before the White Guardian arrived and had an interesting time trying to assure them that she really had no idea why such an important being was interested in her. To Rose's relief, her friends accept her vague and short jump from her snogging the Doctor to what had occurred that morning. When she finished, Rose started chuckling and put her head into her folded arms while her body shook with laughter.
Across from Rose, Shareen smiled slightly. "Okay honey, you've had a strange few days." Shareen leaned forward and rested her chin on her hand. "Am I right in believing that what really has you worried right now if that you've entered into a relationship at what feels like the wrong time?" At Rose's slight nod she continued, "I can understand you thinking that. He knows you completely, but in reality, you know very little about the Doctor."
"For God's sake Shareen, she knows all of that," Sharon snapped suddenly before looking at Rose. "So yeah it's strange Rose, but it could be worse."
"It is worse already," Shareen said calmly. "Thing is Rose now knows more about a possible future than she probably should. We're eighteen years old, that's not exactly the age to have your entire future figured out."
"She's worrying too much! We're supposed to be making stupid decisions right now!" Sharon argued back, crossing her arms. "Including sleeping with blokes when our hormones win! At least the one she slept with is in love with her!" Sharon grumbled something about Mark and Shareen grimaced in sympathy.
Rose smiled slightly as her two friends banter, feeling better as they argued the pros and cons of Rose knowing about her future. Hearing a knock on the door, Rose carefully stood from the table and glanced back at Sharon and Shareen who had started arguing about foreknowledge while Shareen referenced the play Oedipus. Shivering at the reference, Rose walked to the front door and blinked in surprise at the delivery man standing there. She smiled as he handed her familiar envelope with Eve's handwriting on it and calmly signed the sheet.
Both Sharon and Shareen looked at Rose with mild surprise as she reentered the kitchen with an actual smile on her face. She sat back down and held up the letter for them to see. They both nodded their understanding, Eve did not send as many letters now as she used to, but all three of them still received them from time to time. Rose tore open the envelope and unfolded the letter.
How I wish my ability to see your timeline included some empathy, but I'll work off of what I can see. Of course, you're confused, knowing the future is a complex and strange thing. I must also confess that you are approaching points of decision. My ability to see your future with clarity is fading. I have still seen glimpses of what might be, but nothing is certain. The good news is that your future is in your own hands and that is also the bad news. The only advice I can give you to figure out what makes you happy and what will make you happy. Sometimes leaving the problem is the only way to find the answer.
Rose finished reading the letter and giggled when she realised that at some point Sharon and Shareen had both moved behind her to read over her shoulder.
"Well that was vague," Sharon said when she finished. "I swear Eve has got the Zen master vague advice thing figured out."
"She would have done well for herself writing fortunes," Shareen added with a grin.
"I think she and her father found the lottery and markets more profitable," Rose chimed, looking over her shoulder at Sharon.
"So, what the plan?" Sharon asked as she glanced back at the letter.
Rose placed the letter on the table as her friends sat back down, "I'm thinking ice cream and movies tonight." A smile appeared on Rose's face and she added, "Then let's go somewhere."
"What?" Sharon and Shareen both said.
"We've got money and a month before our university terms start," Rose said. Her smile widened as an idea took form in her head. "Let's go somewhere, just the three of us and see what happens."
"So you're going with the old run away from your problems strategy?" Shareen asked with a raised eyebrow. "Classic?"
"No I'm taking Eve's advice and leaving the problem behind for a while," Rose replied with a grin. "Besides, we won't see each other as much once we start school."
"Fine, we'll talk about that later," Sharon said. "I'll run out and get some ice cream, you two start figuring out what movies."
"It isn't even lunch yet," Shareen scolded. "You just want an excuse to drive around."
"I do not," Sharon responded. "This way we don't have to leave once we get started."
Smiling into her teacup, Rose sipped the warm liquid while Shareen made a list of food for Sharon to buy at the shop. Looking out the window, Rose chuckled at the square impression on the grass that had been left by the TARDIS. She cleared the table and put the dishes in the sink to start washing them. About half way through Rose caught sight of the ring the green-eyed Doctor had sent her when she was sixteen. She stood there by the sink staring at it and couldn't help but think that there was another level to this gift. Pushing the thought away, Rose finished the dishes and left the kitchen to join Shareen in the living room to start researching where they should go.
Six days later, Rose Tyler was sitting on a bench in Rome looking up at the Colosseum or the Flavian Amphitheatre depending on if you wanted to be technical. Her drawing pad was open in her lap and she was absentmindedly drawing the huge ancient structure and listening to the large crowds moving around her. The translator behind her ear made everyone sound English to her and the hum of life around her was both startling and comforting at the same time. Sharon and Shareen had dashed into one of the many shops in the area that sold overpriced cheap souvenirs to tourists with a promise to meet Rose was lunch in the café behind her in an hour.
Turning her body slightly to stretch, Rose caught sight of an older gentleman sitting on a nearby bench and glaring up at the Colosseum. Tilting her head, Rose observed him carefully. He stood out here wearing a neat black suit and neatly combed white hair. His utter lack of enthusiasm also stood out among the tourists and locals who made their living off of the tourists. Something about him bothered her, well bothered wasn't the right word, but clearly, he did not belong here. There was a sense of sorrow and loneliness wrapped around him like a heavy winter coat. Rose remained where she was watching him for a time before making up her mind. She just couldn't bear to see someone so sad.
Standing up, Rose gathered her things and shoved them into her bag before she moved over to the other bench. Sitting down next to the man, Rose pulled out her drawing pad again and started drawing the random faces moving through the crowd. They were both silent for a time as Rose saw him finally relax again after tensing up when she sat down. Rose didn't look up from her drawing pad.
"I love Rome," she said with a smile. "The age of this place makes everything else seem insignificant."
"I suppose so," the old man replied sternly.
Smiling, Rose brushed some hair behind her ear and looked over at him. "So what did you come here to forget?"
He looked over at her sharply and his eyes widened slightly before he regained control. In the back of her mind, Rose wondered about that odd reaction. "What makes you think that is my reason for being here?" He questioned her a moment later.
"You're sad and angry at the world," Rose replied. "You've been glaring up at the Colosseum as if it personally offended you."
That remark actually made the strange man chuckle. "It reminds me of time passing," he said a moment later. "This whole city does."
"Time passing is usually a good thing," Rose replied. She bit her bottom lip for a moment. "Or are you really talking about change?"
Again he chuckled. This time his eyes were a bit softer as he looked over at her. "You're very perceptive," he said.
"Not really," Rose replied. "I just understand being worried about that. Something changed in my life lately and I haven't decided how I feel about it yet. The city makes it feel small and less important so to me it is a comfort."
Silence overtook them for a few minutes, while both of them stared up at the ancient structure. Then to Rose's surprise, the strange man softly said, "My granddaughter is getting married. I shall not see her for a long time."
"And that change worries you," Rose said with a nod. "I can understand being sad about that loss even if you should be glad she'll be happy." At the man's curious and amused expression Rose smiled and continued, "I'm about to start university which will have me leaving home for the first time. I'm happy and worried about my mother and my friends."
"But you're still leaving," the man pressed.
Nodding, Rose answered, "I suppose it might be selfish, but as much as leaving scares me, staying still there scares me even more. I worry I'd regret it and never be as happy as I could have been. That means that I have to leave no matter how much it scares me."
"If nothing ended nothing new could begin," the man said thoughtfully before he gave Rose a very small smile, but a smile nonetheless. He stood gracefully, despite his cane and gave Rose a nod. "Thank you, young lady, and as for your concerns, I'm quite certain that you'll be just fine."
"Certain?" Rose asked with a raised eyebrow and a teasing smile.
The man's eyes were serious as he examined her giving Rose the feeling that he saw something else. Nodding, he answered, "Yes, I think you'll find where you should be very soon." With that he turned and walked into the crowd, his dark clothing standing out.
Rose watched him for a few moments until the alarm in her mobile went off. Grabbing her things, Rose moved towards the café where she saw Sharon and Shareen already waiting for her. Sitting down, she greeted them happily and laughed as Shareen pulled out a ridiculous shirt that she had bought for her mother. Then she looked up over Sharon's shoulder and stilled. Tucked in a corner of the plaza was the TARDIS. She stared at it and gaped as the old man walked up to it and entered it. Rose couldn't hear the wheezing noise over the sounds of the busy area, but she could hear it in her mind as the TARDIS dematerialized.
"Rose?" Sharon called as she waved her hand in front of Rose's face. "You okay?"
"I'm fine," Rose said with a smile. She giggled softly and shook her head. "The universe is a strange thing," she said after a moment.
"How so?" Shareen asked as she sipped her soda.
"Coincidences," Rose said, "The universe's way of telling you to stop being an idiot." Grinning, Rose picked up her own soda and held it out in front of her. "To next year and whatever follows." Sharon and Shareen glanced at each other but clinked their glasses to Rose repeating the toast to whatever came next year. Rose herself made a mental note to talk to the Doctor about his earlier forms because; if the universe was going to play that way she needed to know who to look for.