Author's Note: Inspired by a picture photoshopped by tumblr user Crowdedwithangelstonight, and Winterinthetardis' tag-based request to see it turned into a Ten/Rose god-and-goddess story. Likely not what she'd hoped from such a prompt, but this is what happened. Sorry…? Eh heh. ^^;
Warning: AU. The most roundabout TenxRose fic ever. (Probably.) Crap editing; I wanted to get this posted before heading off to work. 8D; Doot doot~
In his village, people blushed when they saw rainbows.
It wasn't a quirk he'd ever paid much mind to, really. Not something to which he'd dedicated thought. Not as a child, anyway. It was, after all, the only reaction he's ever known; in the quaint, seaside village of Gallifrey, the people built strong ships of bluest-blue, recorded their history in circles, and turned pink whenever they saw rainbows. That was just the way of things. And for years, Tony Tyler assumed it was the way of things everywhere else, too.
Except, one day, he discovered that it wasn't. Not according to his father, anyway. And his father would know, because he'd traveled as far away as London, if one could believe it. London! "Where the people ride ships of red and gold," he'd told Tony, arms waving wildly, as if trying to portray the magnificence of things though gesticulation alone. "And write their stories in straight lines, with little sound-symbols, and—!"
And here his father had hesitated, looking sheepish. Readjusting his young son on his lap, he'd glanced warily to his left, and then to his right, as if to make sure they were alone. Only after did he dare dip closer, lips quivering as his mouth slowly opened… But before he had a chance to whisper the rest, Tony's mother had burst into the kitchen, affronted and tutting as she bustled about in an irritated fit: "Don't you say another word! I don't want him gettin' any ideas! They gawk at those rainbows like uncivilized heathens, the lot of 'em! Completely without manners, Pete, completely without! Why, I worry about you, havin' to go off into godless territory like that, I really do. An' I don't want you makin' it seem like that's okay—"
Because apparently, it wasn't. Not okay. Much like the weather, at present.
Tony snapped from his memory of that morning as an otherworldly growl shook his small body; a sonic roll of sound had swept across the beach like an invisible, warning wave. The snarl of it ebbed and flowed, making the true tide quaver. The Doctor, Tony knew. He's here. Here to make things better… or worse, depending on his mood.
Beside him, his companion seemed to read his thoughts. "Ooo, the Doctor's got a temper on 'im, today," Mickey mumbled under his breath, glancing towards the darkening sky in mild concern. A storm was brewing on the liquid horizon— roiling clouds of gray and coal writhing like snakes on the edge of the world. "Some poor fool musta forgot to pay proper tribute. Damn…" He sighed, dropping the flat stone he'd been palming and brushing his hands off on his pants. Once clean of sand, he made a grab for his charge and began to lead him (drag him) towards the grassy dunes, and the bush, and safety. "C'mon kid, before he catches up to us. He's a fast runner, y'know."
"Yeah…" Tony returned slowly, only half-listening, as he resisted his caretaker's insistent tugs. Rather than flee, he seemed intent on keeping a watchful eye on the heavens, where their god was incensed and raging: stomping his feet with loud booms, and flexing his fingers with noisy cracks. Glowing veins of ethereal lifeblood would flash occasionally into mortal view, the luminous bolts pulsing against the sky like vessels on an angry brow. ("Having a right tantrum," as mum would grouse, rolling her eyes. "Just like a man.") It made Tony remember some of the tantrums he'd had—legs flailing, arms thrashing, catching on stools and legs and leaving bruises on everyone involved. If the Doctor had fits like that…
"Hey, Mickey? Is th' Doctor gonna hurt us if he catches us?"
Though Tony's gaze remained on the Oncoming Storm, he could feel Mickey's response through his arm: his nervous question had been answered by a nonchalant shrug. "Eh, probably not," the young man then added verbally, though he still didn't sound keen on sticking around. He yanked a bit harder on Tony's hand after glancing back and noticing that whitecaps had turned the ocean into foam. "Not unless your family hasn't been payin' proper tribute. But I wouldn't risk it, anyway. Apparently the Doctor can be kinda… rambunctious. Best t' just keep outta the way."
Tribute? Tony swallowed a bit at this, forehead furrowing. He was only 6, yet; remembering to pay tribute became mandatory for a child when they turned 8. But he was a bit tall for his age… What if that confused the Doctor? Made him think he was 8 and blasphemous? "I've never paid tribute t' the Doctor…" the boy whispered, picking up the pace enough to fall into stride with Mickey, rather than trail and trip behind him. The wind—perpetually cold, even during the best of times—had begun to claw at their faces with the exuberance of a beast… A wolf, maybe. The sting of wet talons reminded Tony of his mother's most terrible stories: the ones about the sun goddess and her rare bouts of fury. When she became so terrible, and her rays so hot, that even the Doctor cowered and dared not make it rain. The child shivered beneath his wools, stomach twisting into sailors' knots. "I dunthink my family's has ever paid him tribute… We've only gotta shrine t' Rose…" he confessed anxiously, worrying his bottom lip.
But even as he spoke, Mickey was snorting, smirking. Or perhaps that was a grimace in the face of the gale, which had begun to toss twigs and sand into their path. The leaves screamed in the trees; the boys nearly stumbled over knobbed roots and tangled vines as the beach became forest, and the forest became country road. They were nearly home, now. But Mickey's thoughts, it seemed, were already worlds away.
"Just leave it t' Jackie t' not ever explain nothin' properly," he muttered as they marched—quietly, as if to himself— before turning his head just enough to offer Tony a reassuring grin. "Kid, no one makes offerin's to the Doctor. He'd never accept 'em. But he gets mad when people forget to pay tribute t' Rose, an' that's when he gets violent."
His brow arched meaningfully. The sky opened. Rain crashed upon their heads in screeching sheets.
"Ah, see? He's upset," Mickey said (yelled) knowingly, pointing a finger towards the undulating clouds above. Thankfully, they weren't the only things which loomed above them; the sodden pair had made it back to the village, to its plaster-and-plank houses and thatch-work rooftops. "C'mon get in, get in," Mickey grunted, pushing the little boy through the crooked door of his home before barreling in, himself.
Inside, the pounding drum of the rain made the whole house sing.
Though already wet upon entering, Mickey immediately dipped his fingers into a stoup near the lopsided jamb; he flicked a droplet of the blessed water onto a woven model of a wolf, resting within an alcove of candles. While Tony wasn't obligated to act in kind, he did clap his hands together and bow in reverence to the idol. Distantly, he noticed how the candlelight caught on the dew that'd been sprinkled on the dried fronds, making the moist beads sparkle, iridescent.
Then he frowned.
"How come the Doctor gets mad when people don't pay tribute t' Rose, then? Why does he care?" Tony demanded, his voice muffled (but unfalteringly insistent) even after a towel was dropped unceremoniously atop his head. He made a noise of protest when Mickey began to scrub him down, weakly batting the larger hands away. "Stop, I can do it myself! What about th' Doctor, then?" he persisted, trying very hard not to succumb to stamping for an answer. Instead, pout puckering into a scowl, the child gazed unblinkingly up at Mickey, consumed by curiosity and an oversized towel.
"Oh, c'mon. I'm sure Jackie'll have at least told you about that," Mickey scoffed, shaking his head in disbelief. But Tony's glare persisted, and he could be as stubborn as a rock if he put his mind to it; it would undoubtedly be easier to repeat the story than it would be to insist that he already knew. That everyone knew. "Pft, fine. All right, then."
Sighing, Mickey rubbed his own hair dry, then lifted a metal prong from a wall-hook and began to prod at the embers in the fireplace, trying to necessitate them. Inside the grate, the ashes sputtered like a dying thing, belching up transient fireflies. "A long, long time ago, th' Earth had a lot of gods and goddesses. They lived everywhere, and were mostly pretty peaceful. But then a war came, an' it was awful. All of these different gods and goddesses were teamin' up, killing each other, and in th' process making Earth a real hell. Thousands of people died. Some as casualties of the disasters caused by the gods, an' some because they joined the gods… Eventually, people started t' fight amongst themselves as t' which gods and goddesses were right, and their war became ours. It was gonna destroy everythin', so eventually, the Doctor had t' step in."
Oh, yes. That was right; that sounded familiar. This part of the story, Tony knew. All the children knew, if they paid attention in class. "He made it rain, right?"
"Yeah. The Doctor made it rain an' rain an' rain. 40 days an' nights, an' the whole world was flooded an' everyone—gods, goddesses, people— all drowned. It needed t' happen t' stop the war, but the Doctor still felt awful for killin' everybody. He mourned, and the storms continued, and for years th' world was nothin' but a planet of water an' storms."
Mickey paused then, wetting dry lips. Absently, he continued poking at the cinders; his face shone orange in the growing glow of it. Slowly, as the flickers became flares and the flares became flames, the little room filled with warmth and light. "But even though th' world was in ruins, the Sky Beyond th' Sky wasn't. It's said that th' stars are all gods and goddess from different worlds, spread out like fruit on different branches of a tree… An' Rose, she saw what had happened here, an' how hurt the Doctor was, an' knew she couldn't just leave him alone in the dark an' the cold."
"An' that's when the Earth gained a sun?"
"That's right." Tony grinned, proud of himself, as Mickey nodded. "There was a great big flash, like an' explosion… An' Rose's star came closer t' Earth, and brought warmth an' light in her wake. The Doctor had never seen anything like it. An' she held him, an' told him he wasn't gonna be alone anymore, an' in doin' so, she calmed the storms an' cleared the waters, an' she brought sunlight an' spring. So we worship her, an' we pay tribute to her," Mickey somberly concluded, nodding pointedly at his own blessed niche, where the reed-spun wolf glinted in candlelight, "'cause if it hadn't been for her, the Doctor woulda died in his grief, an' taken the world with 'im. We're only here an' alive 'cause of Rose. Same with the Doctor. So he wants us to pay tribute t' her, not him. And in honorin' her, we honor his wishes an' wind up honorin' him, too."
Well, that made sense. Mimicking Mickey's sober nod, Tony glanced from the wolf, to the fire, to the window, where streaks of rain continued to paw at foggy panes. In his mind, the little boy imagined the droplets to be probing fingers, trying to push their way into every house and check each families' alcoves. Somewhere outside, there was another rumbling thrum of noise, like someone dashing about on a trail of clouds. The Doctor, he knew, racing from place to place. Always running. "So… the storm'll stop when th' Doctor finds whoever forgot to pay tribute t' Rose?" he surmised, turning back towards Mickey.
Once again, Mickey shrugged. "Or whenever she notices what he's doin' an' calms him down herself."
Calms him down… herself? In an instant, Tony's eyes had widened in awe and alarm. Alone? He tried to picture Rose—the gentle, golden goddess— face down a shrieking tempest like the one that seethed outside. Could she really? He could understand the goddess's victory in the legends; the Doctor had probably worn himself out by the time she arrived on Earth. But right now, in the thick of it…? Their god, the Oncoming Storm— he was a blessing, Tony knew, but he could also be so frightening. And his squalls: they were big, and dark, and dangerous… "How does she calm him? How does she do that?"
For the first time since this conversation began, Mickey faltered. Faltered, and gained a bit of color in his cheeks, Tony noted with a bemused frown, head cocked to the right. How odd— …no, wait a moment. The only other time he saw people react in such a manner was when… Was whenever rainbows painted the sky, and the girls would giggle and the men would nudge each other, and then everyone would turn away and smile and blush a bit. Was this somehow related, then?
"Mickey? How does she do that?" Tony asked again, shuffling over to tug at his caretaker's damp sleeve. He really needed to know, now. It was such a bothersome mystery! "Does it hafta do with rainbows?"
"Rainbows?" Faintly startled, Mickey turned to gape at the clever boy, his handsome features a wavering amalgam of mortification and involuntary amusement. Tony preened a bit, recognizing that his caretaker was impressed that he'd managed to work those two pieces of the puzzle together himself. But being smart didn't merit him a proper answer, it seemed…
"W-well…" Mickey cleared his throat with an awkward grunt and glanced towards his shrine, as if hoping that the holy sight might give him strength… but then he noticed the prisms that his offering had cast upon the wall. He looked abruptly away again, properly red. The whole charade simply stoked Tony's curiosity further; he jerked and jabbed his poor sitter until he was finally offered a groan and an answer. "Rose is the goddess of sun an' light," Mickey carefully reiterated, shifting a bit as he prayed for protection against Jackie's wrath, "and th' Doctor is the god of storms an' water. An' to calm him—that is, when light an' water touch… er, mix… it makes rainbows," he finished lamely, coughing again to keep his voice at its proper timbre. He was clearly uncomfortable, talking about this.
Tony couldn't imagine why. It was perfectly innocent, wasn't it, mixing things? He mixed seawater and sand all the time when making castles. His mother mixed flour and milk to make bread. The men in the shipyards mixed pigments and oil to make paint. What was so embarrassing about the goddess mixing with the god? Especially if it calmed him, and gave birth to pretty things, how could it be bad?
And speaking of…
"Oh, look!" With an exuberant bound, Tony spun and leapt towards the window, pointing excitedly at the clearing sky. As suddenly as the gale had come, it had dispersed, fading into nothingness; Rose had calmed the Doctor once again, and the heavens were alive with streaks of pastel color. "It's a rainbow! Ah—! Hey!"
"No way. I'm not havin' Jackie rant my ear off for lettin' you be a rude little bugger an' stare on toppa everythin' else." Mickey—who had all but dived after the energetic Tony— grunted in a mixture of laughter and exasperation as he physically hefted his charge away from the sight, shielding his eyes all the while. "Didn't you listen t' anythin' I said? Rainbows are the god and goddess… mixin'. So you don't gawk at rainbows. It's rude."
"But how is it rude?" Tony demanded, innocuously frustrated. Making sandcastles wasn't rude. Helping his mother bake bread wasn't rude. Nor was it rude to watch the shipyard workers make their paint. So what made rainbows so private?
But this time, Mickey didn't offer an answer. He just snorted, and shook his head, and mumbled, "You'll understand when you're older."
And when he was older, Tony did.
And then he, too, blushed at rainbows.