Chapter ten: M57
"Work was dreadful," Rose grumbled as she came through the door of the flat. "Every customer just had to be a complete wanker."
She paused and listened. Silence. John wasn't on the futon watching tele, he wasn't at the window looking at the night sky, and if he was in the next few rooms he was being very quiet. Setting her things on the counter, she wandered into the bedroom expecting to find him asleep. Instead, she found Wolf curled up on her pillow. Something hung from his TARDIS blue collar, and she moved closer to take a look. It was a folded sheet of paper held on by a piece of string. She removed it and sat beside Wolf.
"To my perfect Rose, this would be so much more interesting if it was my psychic paper…" she laughed at that thought. "Come to the roof. x John."
Smiling, she folded the note and set it on the bedside table. She gave Wolf a hug and wandered back out of the flat to the rooftop. When she stepped onto the roof, she didn't see him at first. It took him speaking to let her know that he was behind her.
"Well, hello. I'm over here."
"You could have stayed in plain sight," she pointed out, smirking and walking to his spot.
His coat was spread out on the concrete and he was sitting up, peering through his telescope. She joined him and nuzzled into his side, putting a head on his shoulder. "Fascinating what a telescope can see," he commented. "More like what it can't. These things are virtually useless. Or, maybe I'm just used to being right next to things in space itself. Yeah, probably that. At least tonight is the clearest night in a month. How was your day?"
"Terrible. I've decided that I hate the human race."
"I guess I can make one exception."
"Thanks for that," he smiled. "What'd they do this time? Ask for something you don't carry?"
"No. It was more general than that. Everyone had to be cross about everything."
He hummed. "Shame on them. I see you found my note."
She hugged his arm and smiled. "I did. And it would have been incredible on psychic paper."
"Every now and then I miss those little things. Psychic paper. Sonic devices. Time vortexes. But, I have something better!"
"Really? Better than all that?"
"Yes, I do! Something more brilliant. And it's right next to me," he winked at her and she blushed. "I want you to look through this telescope right here, right now. Off you go," he quickly pulled her into his lap so that she could look into it. "Do you see it?"
"Kind of like a smoky circle?"
"That's it! It's called M57 or Messier 57. A planetary nebula, meaning that it is comprised of an expanding shell of ionized gas expelled during the asymptotic giant branch phase of various kinds of stars later in their lifetimes. Really, it's not too far from here. Only about 2,300 light-years or so. It was discovered in the eighteenth century by Antoine Darquier de Pellepoix, a Frenchman. He said it resembled a planet that's fading. It's actually in the constellation Lyra near a star called Vega. But what's really hard to find is the star in the center. Can you see it?"
She looked again. "I don't."
"Me either. A star I can't find? What has the world come to? Inferior instruments."
"Right, blame the human technology."
As she took another look, he kissed her cheek and held onto her waist. "That nebula has another name."
"Yeah? What's that?" she responded halfheartedly.
"They call it the Ring Nebula."
"I can see why. It's definitely a ring. Have we…driven…past it?"
"Oh, loads of times. They should put a space station there with a drive through. We could have just rolled right up, ordered chips and a shake, and kept on our way!"
She chuckled. "That'd have been something."
They sat in silence and John started to get nervous. She leaned against him, occasionally glancing back through the telescope, and held onto the arm that was around her. "This is nice," she commented. "Just sitting up here. Relaxing."
"Yeah," he agreed, swallowing. His fingers gripped the box in his pocket. "Can you still see the nebula?"
"Yep, still can. What'd you say its name was? M…fifty-something?"
"M57, Messier 57, or there was one other name. The Ring Nebula."
"Right. Ring Nebula. It's beautiful. What I can see of it."
"I wanted to show you that nebula for a reason."
She grinned. "And what's that?"
He had the box out of his pocket and opened, holding it at his side. "Why don't you turn around and see for yourself?"
Rose wasn't sure what that meant, but she turned back and saw him holding a little box with a stunning ring. Her hand went to her mouth and all of the air escaped her lungs. She was speechless. His single heart was going mad in his chest. He could hardly say it. "Rose Tyler. I've only got one life. I'd like to spend it with you. If you'd like."
She nodded through tears. "Yes, I would."
He gave her a daft grin and slipped the ring onto her finger. She looked at it in the moonlight and tackled John onto his coat, kissing his neck and working her way up. Although it was a rooftop that was open to the entire building, Rose didn't care and neither did John. They were lucky that they weren't caught shagging by somebody somewhere, and they stayed tangled in his coat to look up at the stars.
"How'd you know my ring size?" she thought aloud, tracing circles on his bare chest.
"Oh, I've been planning this for months."
"Since before we got Wolf. I borrowed one of your rings the other day and took it to the shops with me. I read that tip online. I read a lot of tips online. You know, Time Lord brain. It doesn't always work out so well for a human. All these human traditions. I didn't want to mess it up."
She kissed his cheek. "You could have said, Oi! You wanna get married or what? I would have said yes anyway."
"I know that. It just isn't the same. You have to think about how you do things and not just what you do. That much I've learned."
"I'm proud of you," she beamed, cuddling into his side. "I can't wait to tell Mum and Dad about us!"
"Well," he said hesitantly, hoping that he hadn't screwed up by letting Pete know ahead of time. "That's another thing I did. Asked Pete for his blessing. That's customary on this planet, isn't it?"
Her eyes watered again. "You asked Dad for permission? He did say yeah, didn't he?"
"He probably didn't tell Mum since she wouldn't be able to keep it to herself."
John chuckled. "That Jackie. She's going to be my mother-in-law."
"She always has been," Rose teased. "I'm so happy you finally asked me and didn't wait until we were in some life or death situation."
"I'm a new man, Rose, and I'm all yours."
"Bloody right you are. You know that I'm a girl, right?"
"Right…is this going somewhere?"
"Shut up," she laughed. "That means that I'm already thinking about the wedding. What do you think? About the wedding?"
He let out a long breath. "I'm rubbish at weddings. Especially my own."
"Oi, you been married before?"
"Well, I'm over nine hundred. Things happen in nine hundred years."
"How many 'things' happened?"
"You know how it is. Go to some strange planet. Don't know the law. Suddenly, you've married an alien that looks like a foot."
She folded her arms. "I can't believe I'm hearing this."
"C'mon, Rose. Don't be like that. You're the love of my long, strange life. And I mean that. Over nine hundred years, and I have never loved somebody like I love you."
"Bet you say that to all the girls," she smirked, mocking anger.
She studied him carefully and pulled him into a long, passionate snog session. Once they pulled away for air, she smiled. "So. We're getting married."
"Yes we are!"
"Something tells me you're not one for a church wedding."
"I'd rather not."
"That sounds lovely."
"Okay. How many people?"
He grimaced. "Honestly, I don't have many friends here. My only family is your family."
"I don't have many friends either," she agreed. That was the bad thing about living on a parallel world. Even if you found your old mates, they would have no idea who you are. "So, let's say family only."
"Who do you want for your best man?"
"Oh," he frowned, thinking about it. He thought of Donna first, but obviously that was problematic. Next was Jack, even if he would have flirted with everyone, but again he wasn't there. "Everyone's in the other world. I have a few mates at work, but they all think I'm a bit odd. I'm proud of that. Still, no best mates."
She sighed sadly. "Well it's a good thing we have each other. I'm in the same boat as you."
"Even in all your time here? No best friends?"
"I spent all that time here looking for you," she admitted. "Friendship wasn't high on my list of things to do."
They shared a laugh, understanding what had to be done. No frills. No fuss. A quick wedding in Pete's backyard with Pete, Jackie, Tony, Wolf, and someone authorized to marry them. No one else. It'd still be perfect since it was still them. And that's what they were about. Each other.
"Now, honeymoon…" Rose winked mischievously. "Remember that planet you wanted to take me to? Barcelona?"
"Yes! Oh, gorgeous planet. You would have loved it."
"So let's go to Barcelona. I know it's not the planet, but it's a start for an Earth-life together. What do you say, Mr. Davies?"
"I say that sounds perfect, Mrs. Davies. A perfect wedding and a perfect honeymoon for my perfect Rose."
She ran her fingertips down his face. "I love you, Doctor."
"I love you, Rose."
Some months later…
John stood on the garden of Pete Tyler's estate with one of Pete's friends, who just happened to be qualified to marry people. He fidgeted with his tie and glanced up, breathless by the sight before him. Rose Tyler was in a wedding dress and hanging onto her father's arm. He had seen all kinds of things in his time, but nothing could compare to how beautiful she looked. She walked up to him and smiled, and he smiled back. Jackie, Pete, Tony, and Wolf stood nearby to watch the ceremony. John didn't hear anything the man said until Rose whispered, "I do."
He waited until the right time and also said with all of his one heart, "I do."
They exchanged rings and laughed slightly at just how strange life could be. "You may now kiss the bride."
"With pleasure," he smirked, leaning in for the kiss.
Jackie ran over with the dog, in tears, hugging both of them and rambling about how she always knew it would work out. Pete shook John's hand and hugged his daughter, moving back to let Tony get his hugs in. Wolf leapt on both of their legs, wagging and barking. John took Rose's hand and they walked back towards the house as a married couple, being chased by Wolf.
"You are so stuck with me," she chuckled, poking her tongue out teasingly. "Right until we're old and in a retirement community."
He grimaced. "We'll never be that boring. I just know that we'll be the only two elderly people in London riding around on scooters and causing mayhem."
"Is that a promise?"
"Oh yes, Rose Davies. It's you and me to the very end. But for now," he scooped her up and ran for the door to the house. "Barcelona! At last! Allons-y!"
She laughed and they disappeared into the home, Wolf and Tony in pursuit. Jackie took Pete's hand and they smiled at each other. Rose had finally gotten her Doctor, and the Doctor had finally gotten his Rose.