Peter Tyler had always been proud of his only daughter. She had her own opinions and wasn't afraid to speak her mind, yet she was still respectful of those around her and well aware of her station in life.
Maybe he had indulged her too much. There had been murmurs in the family that allowing her to go on an extended 'find yourself' holiday with just Captain Harkness was beyond inappropriate. But Rose had, so far, behaved herself much more than certain others in her generation.
Well she had, until two nights ago when she had blown off Prince Theta's ball for a poker game. And then somehow had found a drugged up prince on her doorstep and intentionally hid him. On her phone call early this morning, she had told Pete the entire story. Including the fact that she had fallen for the prince and their unofficial engagement.
Part of him was happy that she had found someone with whom she could share her life. He'd fallen hard for Jackie the moment he'd met her. Another part of him was angry that she had behaved that way. Rose was a member of the monarchy herself, a direct descendant of Queen Victoria herself. Pete was the great-grandson of King George V.
While Pete may have encouraged his daughter to be her own person, he had also raised her to understand the responsibility and obligation to their country and her people. Currently at 33rd in line for the throne, Rose had little to no chance of taking the British throne but she was still expected to conduct herself in an appropriate manner. Not to go around hiding runaway princes.
Pete rolled his shoulders to try and ease his mounting tension. Of course he could understand the pressure to marry that both Prince Theta and Rose were under. His daughter's family connections and wealth made her one of her one of the most eligible women under thirty in all of Britain.
That notoriety had caused the paparazzi to stalk her. To help her get away from that stress, Pete had agreed that she could get away for a bit of a holiday, provided that Jack accompanied her and that she behave in a proper manner. However, she hadn't done the latter. Instead, she risked not only her safety but the safety of Theta. And for what? A single day of adventure?
She should have gone to the party and met Theta through proper channels. But she couldn't do that, could she? Oh no, now she and Jack both could actually be charged with kidnapping and holding hostage a future monarch. And to make matters worse, she had neglected to tell Prince Theta that she was the daughter of the Duke of Vitex and not just some rich heiress.
So even if the prince wanted to marry her now, heaven knows what he would think when her real identity came to light. And if his father or Queen Elizabeth received word of this, it could cause an international incident. The best case scenario was that no one found out about Rose and Theta's tryst yesterday.
That was doubtful however, considering the pair hadn't officially met and yet they were considering marriage. No, the best outcome that could come out of this would be to have yesterday overlooked because of the prospect of a mutually beneficial union.
For now all he could do was preemptive damage control. King Rassillon's assistant had set up a call between Pete and his Majesty in about an hour and he was meeting cousin Elizabeth for afternoon tea.
The Doctor paced the small room he had been left alone in to await one last press interview that had been pushed back from yesterday. Fidgeting, he pulled on the bright red sash of his white military uniform. After arriving back at the Embassy, Sarah Jane had chastised him for running away and ignoring his duties and obligations. Fed up with people constantly wanting to control his life, he'd told her that if it wasn't his sense of duty that he wouldn't have come back at all.
Then, not wanting to waste a minute to get everything sorted about Rose, he had demanded to speak to Romana. She had promised to take a message for his father; the Doctor's choice for a wife was the Vitex heiress Rose Tyler. It was her or he would abdicate and hand Gallifrey over to Harry. To his utter astonishment, Romana told him that she would inform his father of his decision, make a few phone calls and get back to him later in the day. No arguments or questions about the identity of the woman he'd chosen.
She'd also said that she was glad that he'd made such a fine choice. While he didn't understand the reaction, he was glad for it. Now if he could only get out of this room, find a phone and call Rose. Hearing her voice, telling her the hopeful news would calm his nerves.
The door creaked open and Sarah Jane stepped in, clutching that god-damned clipboard. "Glad to find you haven't scarpered again, your Highness," she said in a clipped tone.
"When you have me locked in a room surrounded by guards, no I have not." He bit the inside of his cheek to keep from yelling.
"After the stunt you pulled yesterday, did you really expect any less?" Her jaw clenched and she let out a slow breath. "Romana called, she has spoken to your father and he is pleased with your choice of a bride. He will be speaking to her father within the hour to begin arrangements, and I am to understand the Duke is to have tea with Queen Elizabeth this afternoon to discuss the merits of the match."
The Doctor simultaneously felt elated and confused. "I'm sorry, the Duke?"
Sarah Jane raised an eyebrow at him. "Lady Rose's father, Peter Windsor Tyler the Duke of Vitex. You must have read the file." Pulling a manila file folder, she handed it over and sighed. "Honestly, Theta, it's no secret that you met with Lady Rose yesterday. The security cameras caught the two of you outside the gates last night."
Opening the file, the Doctor was shocked to see a photograph of Rose. Well, portrait would be a more apt description. It looked more like one of those official photos they were always making him take. Unlike the casual photo he had of her in his pocket, her style of dress was much more formal and her smile didn't reach her eyes. Skimming a few more pages, he found a copy of her family history and her university transcripts. This was the file Sarah Jane had tried to give him after the ball.
His beautiful Rose, all of her warmth and zest for life taken stripped away and reduced to….what? A mail order bride? Had she known about this?
"I don't pretend to understand how your mind works or why you snuck out to meet her instead of waiting until your lunch date. Although she did miss the ball…" Sarah Jane clicked her tongue in a way he knew to be disapproving. "Without notice, too. I had been hoping to introduce the two of you that night."
Wait, Rose was supposed to meet him yesterday? She was supposed to come to the ball? Why hadn't she told him?
"In any case your father is willing to overlook whatever the two of you got up to yesterday. I think he's just thankful that, despite all of your willfulness you chose a young lady from the approved list. Lady Rose will be here in half an hour, right after your last interview. It would be wise not to say anything about your upcoming engagement. Well, not until we've ironed out the details and we've made an official announcement."
At least if she was on her way, he could ask her the million questions running through his brain. He ran through everything that she had said like a check list;
1) Rose Tyler, Vitex Heiress,
2) required a body guard, an understanding of familial obligations,
C) the birth of her younger brother meant that he became the number one heir,
4) she had promised that things would work out between them as if she had known something he hadn't.
Because she had, but she still hadn't even tried to tell him. No, that wasn't true. Last night, before they had made love for the first time, she had tried to tell him something. And he had stopped her, told her it didn't matter.
Did it? She was the same person whether the heir to a throne or the heir to a company. Wasn't she? He needed time to think about this before she arrived. Running a hand through his hair, he looked up at Sarah Jane. She had continued speaking, but he hadn't heard a word of it.
Checking her watch, she said, "Time for your interview. Let's go." Pulling open the door, she held for him. "Oh, one last thing." Reaching into her pocket she pulled out a small box. "It was your grandmother's. We brought it, just in case."
Blankly, he took the ring box from her hand. An engagement ring, a proposal without politics involved. It was too late for that now. But was it too late for them? He put the ring in his pocket. Taking in a deep breath, he closed his eyes and cleared his mind. One last interview and then he could talk to Rose. He was sure that once he spoke to her everything would be alright.
Rose had been pacing back and forth in the small room in the Embassy that they had been led to when they arrived. She stopped and smoothed the fabric of her navy dress decorated with light blue flowers in an attempt to calm her nerves. "What if he won't even see me, Jack?"
"Then I'm sure that we would have been informed of that already." Jack sighed and crossed his arms. He'd been really great all day listening to her worry and panic and only once had he told her that she should have just told the Doctor the truth before she took him back to the Embassy.
Rose was about to say something snippy when the door opened and a middle aged woman stepped inside. "Hello, Lady Rose, I'm Sarah Jane Smith, Prince Theta's personal assistant."
Rose felt a flare of anger at the woman when she realized that Sarah Jane had been one of the people who had drugged her Doctor to keep him under control. Somehow, Rose managed to hold her temper and murmur a polite 'nice to meet you' before the older woman continued to speak.
"It is so lovely to meet you finally. We missed you at the ball the other night, and I'm sorry we had to cancel yesterday." Sarah Jane smiled. "I still don't completely understand what happened between the two of you yesterday, but I am so glad that you are here."
A blush spread across her cheeks. "So you know about yesterday?"
"Security cameras…" Sarah Jane started to explain when the door crashed open and the Doctor barreled into the room
"That reporter was a joke. Sarah, let me know the moment that…" He stopped when he saw her. "Rose gets here," he finished lamely. "But I can see that she is already here." Rocking slightly on his heels, he stared at Rose with such intensity she thought she might catch fire from it.
He broke his gaze and turned to look at Jack and then Sarah Jane. "Leave us."
Sarah Jane started to protest but Jack quickly whisked her out of the room. The door clicked behind them, and the silence that followed was stifling. There were so many words on the tip of her tongue. I'm sorry. So, I guess you know the truth now. Please forgive me. Her mind raced but she couldn't make herself speak.
Slowly, the Doctor walked forward until he stood directly in front of her. Carefully he picked up one of her hands and brought it to lips. "Lady Rose."
"Your Highness." Automatically she bent into a small bow. He lowered their hands but didn't let go. For a brief moment she let herself hope that he would forgive her.
"Why didn't you tell me?" He sounded sad and vulnerable, and she knew that she had hurt him.
"I was surprised when you didn't at least recognize my name when I told you," she started to explain. "My mother arranged my invitation to the ball and out to lunch. I thought that you would have been told who I was."
"Sarah Jane tried to tell me about you, but I didn't listen to her." His grip tightened on her hand. "That still doesn't explain…"
"At first, I didn't think it would matter," she said quickly. "You didn't recognize me, so I figured that it wouldn't matter if I told you about my family history."
He shook his head. "We were supposed to have lunch…Sarah Jane was insistent that I meet you, more so than any other potential match. Did you think I wouldn't recognize you? Or was this all some sort of ploy to ensure that you would be the one I chose?"
His words felt like a punch to the gut and she pulled her hand out of his. She turned and walked halfway across the room before turning back to him. "That's right. It was all a plot, a ploy, a scheme. I somehow knew that you were going to get yourself drugged up, run away and then somehow find your way to my hotel."
He flinched and she realized she was yelling. "You're lucky I was the one who found you, Highness. There are so many people who would have taken advantage of you."
"I know that and I'm sorry." He took a small step towards her. "You are my savior, Rose Tyler. Please call me Doctor."
"When we are alone, call me Doctor, not Highness or Theta, just Doctor." She nodded and he took another small step in her direction. "But you still haven't explained why it did matter if you told me who you are."
"I told you everything about me that was important. I told you about my family, my friends, and my life. An accident of birth does not define who I am. The same way it doesn't define who you are." She looked up at him, eyes wide. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you and I'm sorry that I broke your trust."
"You didn't break my trust." A few more tentative steps brought him directly in front of her. "Because you tried to tell me, didn't you? And I wouldn't let you."
Biting her lip, she said, "I didn't want there to be any secrets between us. All day long both of us were just being ourselves. You weren't Prince Theta and I wasn't Lady Rose, we were just Rose and the Doctor. But I wanted to tell you before we took things any further." She grinned remembering their 'lessons' the previous night. "I tried to tell you and you told me that it didn't matter. Does it? Now that you know, does it matter?"
"Yes," he replied quickly and Rose turned away so he couldn't see the look of disappointment on her face. She felt his chest press into her back and his arms wrapped around her waist. "It matters, because that means there is nothing to stand in our way now." He pulled her hair aside and placed a small kiss on the back of her neck. "If you still want to." His breath ghosted across her skin and she shivered.
"I do." She managed to say softly and she felt his body relax. Making no attempt to turn around she decided to tell him the whole truth. "I missed the ball because I wasn't interested in meeting you, and I never intended to come for lunch yesterday. If you hadn't shown up outside my hotel..."
His arms tightened and she felt him tense. "Why?"
"I wanted out of this life, away from all that pressure. I thought that you would just be like so many of the others, stifling, scheduled...boring. But you're not." She turned to face him. "We're a lot alike, me and you. And when you showed up in my life mumbling about just wanting one day away from it all, I thought that I could give that to you."
She raised a hand to cup his cheek; the light stubble scratched her palm. "I didn't tell you because I didn't want you to think that I had somehow planned yesterday. Figured I'd show you around Rome, and then I could take you back. Jack would be there as security, so it would be relatively safe. We could part as friends after you had your day of adventure. But somewhere along the way yesterday, I fell in love with you. And then I was too scared to tell you, because what if you didn't feel the same way or you were angry because I withheld this from you."
His breath hitched. "I was hurt that you didn't tell me but can't really be mad at you when I didn't tell you who I was. Actually, you told me more about yourself than I told you about me."
"So we're even then?" Rose asked with a small giggle.
The Doctor leaned back slightly and laughed. "Yes, that's what we need, a fresh start."
"We've known each other less than 2 days and we already need a fresh start?" Rose shook her head, laughing harder now. "I hope we don't have start over often."
"No." He shook his head. Then picked her up by the waist and spun her in a circle. "No more starting over, no more secrets, just us." Her feet touched the ground, and he briefly kissed her cheek.
Rose threw her head back and laughed. "Just us and an entire country, you remember that one, don't you? The one that you are going to rule."
"Oh, I remember. But I hope I won't be doing it alone." Taking a step back, he dropped to one knee and pulled a ring box out of his pocket. "Rose Tyler, I have never met anyone quite like you; smart, funny, beautiful and not afraid to demand what you want out of life. Honestly, this seems a bit like a fairy tale, but will you do the honor of letting me give you your happily ever after by becoming my wife?"
Slowly, she knelt down in front of him so that they were eye to eye. She grabbed his hand and said, "Yes, Doctor."
In a flash, he lunged at her and knocked her to the floor. In shock, she cried out, rather loudly. The Doctor's lips pressing on hers stifled anymore sound. At least until he moaned.
They were both too distracted by their leisurely exploration of each other's mouths that they didn't hear the door open. They didn't see Jack and Sarah Jane peek inside and smile to each other. "Come on, Captain," Sarah Jane said, pulling the door closed. "We have a wedding to plan."