After taking a large gulp of his brandy, Jack set the near empty glass on the edge of the snooker table. He surveyed the balls, looking for his next shot. The last few days hadn't been very good for him. Between sitting on champagne glasses, Rose politely shooting him down, and Donna reading him the riot act, he wasn't sure he had much of an arse left anymore. Then he would shift the wrong way and a shooting pain would remind him that, yep, it was still there.
Then of course he had the issue of Christina. He shouldn't have been too surprised that she came back early. John had been bound and determined to keep him and Rose apart and the return of the fiancée would have been enough to throw a wrench in Jack's plans. Of course, Christina's return now had little effect since Rose was obviously in love with John. Jack also had a strong suspicion that sitting on the champagne flutes wasn't just a coincidence but an evil subterfuge by his devious brother.
Jack knew it was more than just a friendly goodnight that he had interrupted between John and Rose. In the moment it had felt like a small payback for what John had done. And then he saw the devastated look on his brother's face.
With everything John had done for Jack over the years, his big brother deserved not only a medal but someone as amazing as Rose. If he was honest with himself, it wasn't really an attraction to Rose that had made him want to run away with her. Don't get him wrong, Rose was incredibly sexy, but he was scared by his feelings for Christina.
Now there was a lady who understood him and accepted him for who he was. Rose had him on a pedestal and Christina had no delusions about who he was. Jack had almost completely mucked that up and for the first time in his life, really, he felt guilty for the way he had treated both women. So when Christina had come over today, Jack did something completely out of character for him. He told her the whole story and begged her forgiveness.
To his surprise, Christina had laughed. She loved him even if he had almost cheated on her. Of course he had to be punished for his wandering eyes. There was a promise that once he had fully recovered, he would be soundly punished for what he had done and that punishment may or not involve handcuffs. Jack had felt a thrill of excitement at that prospect.
The door creaked opened and Jack looked up. "Hello," he greeted his visitor. "Can I offer you a drink?"
"No, thank you," Rose said with a small, sad smile. "I can't stay long. I just stopped by to say goodbye to you and Donna. There is packing to be done. I'm leaving for Paris tomorrow and I don't know if I'll be back."
"On your own?" Secretly, or maybe not so secretly, Jack hoped that John was going with her.
"Yes," she confirmed, the tone in her voice not betraying how she really felt.
This news surprised him. "What about you and John?"
"There's nothing between us. I think his actions tonight proved that." She wiped away a tear before it could completely escape her eye. "It doesn't matter anyway. I was happy in Paris and I will be again. After a few weeks there, I think I'll be off to see the world. No stopping me."
Jack raised his glass to her. "I wish you all the luck and happiness in the world, fair Rose."
"Thank you. I really should go and find Donna." Rose had turned to go when Donna's bellowing voice came from another room.
"Jack Harkness," her dulcet tones rang out. "I need to talk to you."
"I wonder what I've done now," Jack said with an eye roll. "At least you won't have to look far to find her."
In an instant Donna had entered the room. "I just got off the phone with Tish. Do you know what she said our dear brother was planning to do?"
"Trick me into leaving?" Rose asked sardonically. "Because it worked. I'll be gone by midday tomorrow. No hard feelings, though."
Donna blinked in Rose's direction and rage bubbled over. "He did what? I'll murder him. Where is he?"
"Don't know and don't care. It's really good to know that you weren't in on it, though. Because I thought you and I were friends." Rose sighed. "I just stopped by to say goodbye and thank you."
"Of course we are, Blondie." Donna was still slightly stunned as Rose came over to hug her. "There must be a mistake, Rose. Could you have misinterpreted him?"
"I doubt it." Rose pulled back from a hug. "Apparently I got in the way of his precious merger and I was naïve enough to believe all those things he said. I'm not sure there was a grain of truth to the past few days. Still, no permanent harm done. I'll bounce back."
Jack held back a snort of derision. It was obvious that Rose was already in love with his jerk of an older brother. Not that Jack could really judge him. True, there were more than a handful of brokenhearted women in Jack's wake, but never once had he intentionally used one the way that John apparently had.
"Goodbye, and thanks again." Rose gave a wave from the door. "And good luck with whatever life may bring you."
"Rose, wait," Donna called and went to follow her.
Jack stepped in her way and shook his head. "Let her go, Donna. She's just had her heart broken and it's entirely my fault. If I hadn't tried to seduce her, John never would have… But we can't force him to feel something that he doesn't."
"I think he does, though," Donna insisted.
"After seeing them together last night, I would have thought so, too," Jack reluctantly agreed. "What did Tish call you about?" He wanted to change the subject.
"John's cancelling the merger. He's calling a board meeting for noon tomorrow to make the announcement." Donna turned look Jack full in the face. "And he asked her to change his plane ticket to your name."
"Why would he need to cancel the merger and why would he try to send me to Paris?" Jack asked.
"God, how am I related to such idiots?" Donna rolled her eyes. "Isn't it obvious? He wants to make her happy and for some deluded reason he thinks that she would still want you. So he's calling off the merger so there's nothing in your and Rose's way."
"But it's not like that with me and Rose. I don't think it ever really was. I was just a little afraid and needed an outlet." Jack did something he rarely ever did, he blushed. "I told Christina everything today and she still wants to marry me. I think we're just going to elope."
"Told you that girl was a good match for you, but if you ever do anything like that again to her, I'll flay you alive." Donna grinned teasingly at him.
Jack smiled. "I don't think that you have to worry about that. But we still have a problem. What are we going to do about John and Rose?"
"I don't know about you, but I'm going to find his skinny arse and strangle him with whatever stupid tie he's wearing." Her fingers clenched into fists and Jack was very glad not to be John right now.
"We'll call that Plan B, alright?" Jack lightly held her wrists so she couldn't slap him when she heard what he had in mind. "I think I have something that just might work, but I need to speak to Ianto and then we need to get to the office."
The next morning, Pete found himself loading Rose's luggage into the boot of one of the sedans. Donna had phoned and told him that neither she nor John needed a lift to the office that morning, but if he would meet them at the office after he had dropped Rose off at the airport it would be most appreciated.
"I'm sorry to see you go, love," he said after everything was loaded. "I wish we would have had more time together."
"Me too, Dad." Rose hugged him tightly before slipping into the front passenger seat while Pete took his seat behind the wheel. Laying a hand on his arm she said, "This is for the best, yeah?"
"Yeah, it is," Pete agreed solemnly, pulling the car onto the road. "At least we know that you're over Jack, for good this time."
"Yes, I am completely over Jack." Her eyes closed tightly. "Now to get over the cure." Several more miles passed quietly before she spoke again. "You were right, Dad. I should have listened to you. There is a front seat and a backseat and a window in-between. Never the two should meet. I was so stupid."
"No, sweetheart, you weren't. He was. If he let you go, then he is the biggest idiot on the planet," Pete assured her.
"Still." Rose leaned her head against the window. "I shouldn't have dared to even imagine a relationship with someone outside of my class."
"About that," Pete said, and then he swallowed hard. "I've been working for the Harkness family for twenty years and they have conducted a lot of business in the backseat of whatever car I was driving. Never once did they close the window. So I paid attention. When they bought, I bought. When they sold, I sold. And you know that they pay generous salaries. Add that to the fact that we've had very few expenses, and over the years it's been very lucrative."
"Dad, are you trying to tell me that you have a million pounds?" Rose asked with a laugh.
"It's a little closer to three million, actually," Pete answered succinctly.
"Sarah Jane and Ianto too. I've been investing for the three of us for years. We've even got Martha headed in the right direction. Adam refuses our help, though. His loss, really."
Rose looked utterly flabbergasted. "But why haven't you told me, and why are all of you still working instead of on a beach somewhere?"
"Mum and I talked about it, before she died. We didn't want the money to go to your head, but we wanted to have it to support your dreams. So now you can travel anywhere you want and paint. Just make sure you visit every once in a while." Pete smiled.
"Of course I will, and you can come see me, too," Rose agreed.
"As for why we're still working, we love our jobs. I get plenty of time to read and tinker with the cars. We'd all be doing something similar anyway, so why not do it for employers we actually like. Although I'd like to give John Harkness a piece of my mind right now."
"He's not worth it, Dad." Rose was quiet for a moment and then laughter began to bubble up from deep within her. "We're rich."
"That we are, my love." Pete reached over and patted her hand. "I just wish it would help you get over what has happened."
Rose shook her head, her laughter dying out. "I don't. I'd rather feel the pain of loss, than to numb it entirely. What kind of person would that make me if I just chose to spend away my issues?"
"Definitely not a Tyler." Pete squeezed her hand.
"Dad? Do you think I'm just running away from my problems? Should I just stay?"
Pete thought about that for a moment. "How can you be running away when you were planning on going anyway? Yes, things got sped up a bit because some people think they know better. But no, I don't think you're running away."
"Thanks." Rose smiled and her mood brightened just a little. "I'll write constantly and I'll send you pictures of all the places that I go. And of course I'll miss you terribly."
He let out a small sigh. It sounded like she was going to be just fine, eventually. She wasn't going to dwell in her misery (over a man) like she used to. As happy as that made him, a small part of him was sad that his little girl had finally grown up.