Twenty minutes later, congratulations for the happy couple are still being given out and an irate Brigadier begins to grumble. "Look at them," he disapproves with a shake of his head, "just standing there larking about as if we have nothing better to do!" He turns a frustrated gaze onto Doris, Benton and Yates. "Don't they realize that we have a schedule to keep?"
Doris rolls her eyes at her husband before replying with a frustrated tone of her own. "Alastair, this is their wedding day, not a maneuver. Do you really feel the need to put a damper on the festivities this early on in the day?" She gestures to the beaming newlyweds and smiles. "It's a day of romance after all."
"Well they can save the romance for their marriage where it belongs!" He darts a teasing grin at his wife while exhibiting a twinkle in his eyes. "Or at least that's what I've heard from other husbands."
Doris merely sends him a playful glare and sticks her tongue out at him while the other two men chuckle softly. Unfortunately, the Brigadier's own smile swiftly changes to a frown when the best wishes continue to flow. "We'll never have this lot under control at this rate." He rubs his chin thoughtfully. "What they need is some discipline. Captain Yates, I want these civilians brought to attention."
Mike offers a brisk nod and instant reply of, "Yes, Sir!" He swivels to face John Benton with an impish gleam in his eye and orders, "RSMBenton, call these men and women to attention!"
Ever one to quickly and faithfully follow a direct order, Benton snaps his heels as he salutes the former officer and acknowledges, "Sir!" before turning on his heel and rapidly and very loudly calling out, Attention! Alright you lot, everyone get seated! It's time for the Brigadier's speech!"
As the shocked crowd hurries to their chairs, Benton spins back around to face the Brigadier with a curt nod. "Good job, man!" as he claps his old friend and colleague on the shoulder. He shoots another teasing grin to his wife and notes, "Good heaven, I had forgotten how good it felt to have someone actually listen to me when I tell them to do something!"
Doris laughs aloud and remarks, "Well enjoy it today, I think we both know who the true commanding officer is at home."
Holding up his glass to his wife in acknowledgment, the Brigadier then turns to the crowd and begins speaking. "I've known the Doctor for quite some time," tipping two fingers towards his head to indicate his grey hair, "longer than I care to remember, actually." Laughter erupts from the crowd. "We've been through a lot together, the Doctor and I. Alien invasions, mad scientists and mutants, but this is a day that I never thought I'd see." The Doctor chuckles softly in appreciation at the truth of the Brigadier's words as he gazes cheerfully at Rose while she giggles back at him.
"In saying that, I never expected to be standing here today hearing this speech, and so I was actually quite surprised when I was asked to be the one to give it. But however unexpected it may have been, it is also an honor. Since I have known him, I have seen the Doctor save our planet and our lives, and always at the risk to his own. No matter how dire the situation or the threat to humanity, the Doctor never once turned away from the great responsibility of saving us all regardless of the cost to himself. And in saying that, how could I possibly refuse to honor this one simple request for the man who I have had the privilege not only to call my Scientific Advisor and comrade in arms, but most importantly, my friend."
The Brig looks at Rose with admiration in his eyes before continuing his speech. "It takes an incredible type of woman to be able to make the Doctor settle down, much less want to. Believe me, I know," he looks over at the Doctor with a mock glare and offers a soft chuckle. "I can't even begin to tell you how many times that I've tried to accomplish the very same thing. My hat is off to you, Rose Tyler," he brings two fingers up to his forehead and tips them in her direction and then casts his attention to her husband, "and to you as well, Doctor. You've both accomplished more than you realize, a life filled with adventure and someone to share it with," the Brig darts a soft glance towards his own wife and adds, "Sometimes you just need a hand to hold in this world and I am ever so pleased for you that you have found yours." He holds his drink up to ends the toast with, "To the Doctor and Rose Tyler!" Everyone readily repeats his sentiment while Rose and the Doctor mouth, 'To us', before clinking glasses and sharing a soft kiss.
A round of applause meets the end of the Brigadier's toast and when all has quieted down once more, Pete Tyler stands up to request, "So is anyone ready for the cake?"
Eyes bright and alight at Pete's suggestion, the Doctor is immediately drawn out of his reverie with Rose and jumps to his feet exclaiming, "Ooohh, cake! What kind? Vanilla, chocolate, or ooohh, banana? Tell me that it's banana!"
Rose rolls her eyes in amusement before she tugs him back down and confides, "It's not banana, but it does have ball bearings." At the Doctor's squeak of excitement, Rose laughs heartily as she notes that the moment that these words leave her mouth, his pout instantaneously transforms into a huge mouth watering grin.
"Ball bearings!" he cries excitedly before pulling away from Rose completely and darting to the table where the cake stands. Pushing aside Susan's children when they innocently form a barrier between him and his heart's desire, he chides, "Oi, watch it you lot! I'm first!" He straightens his tie and reminds them, "Seeing as it's my wedding and I'm the groom and all, which makes this whole day all about me!"
Susan is pulling her youngest child, Katy, away from the temptation of the cake's frosting when she softly clears her throat and murmurs, "Grandfather, I think that you've forgotten someone," as she subtly tips her head in Rose's general direction.
Unfortunately, subtlety has never been one of the Doctor's strong suits in any incarnation and he blithely replies, "Don't worry, Susan, there's plenty of cake for everyone, you'll get yours! Besides, even if you do miss out, I happen to know for a fact that Ace is around here somewhere and she can create the tastiest milkshake this side of Kasterborous!" He rocks back onto his heels at the memory while he sticks his hands into his jacket pockets and sternly advises, "Just don't ask her to serve it to you."
David, Susan's eldest boy simply stares at his great-grandfather in wide-eyed astonishment and mutters, "Wow."
"Well said," agrees the oldest girl, Carole, and prods the Doctor in Rose's direction as she flat out tells him, "Mother is referring to Rose, Great-grandfather, your wife."
Realization quickly dawns in the Doctor's eyes and he hazards a glance towards Rose, who is merely sitting patiently at their table and offering him a small wave as a reminder that she's still there. He clears his throat before stating firmly, in a loud tone, "And of course my beautiful, no make that gorgeous wife, who without her stunning presence would make this day not only impossible but woefully and bleakly incomplete." Rose shakes her head in amusement as he stretches out his hand and wiggles his fingers in invitation for her to join him and so she slowly rises to make her way over to him.
"Nice save," whispers young David approvingly. "Tell me about it," the Doctor whispers back.
Jackie calls Isobel over to take the first picture of them cutting the cake while she and Rose search the table for the knife and spatula to cut and serve it with. When Rose and Jackie turn back around, they find themselves utterly stunned upon discovering the Doctor already holding a piece of cake that he had spooned out onto a cloth napkin and merrily chewing away.
"Mmmm," he hums appreciatively, "this is good cake! I knew that ball bearings would make all of the difference."
"Rose!" growls Jackie as her daughter does her best to hold her back. "Just look at what that idiot has done! He's ruined the entire cake cutting!"
The Doctor stares at her in confusion as he continues enjoying his cake. "That's the beauty of this cake, Jackie, it's so moist that you don't need a knife to cut it, simply use a spoon like I did!" And then he proceeds to show her how to do just that.
Jackie shuts her eyes tightly in effort to calm herself down. After all, it wouldn't do to make Rose a widow before she's had her reception. They'll be plenty of time for that sort of thing tomorrow, before opening them to glare at him and wail, "Now what are we supposed to do? Take a few pictures of him stuffing himself? As if we don't have a ton of those already!"
Both Rose and Pete do their best to calm her down while the Doctor continues to stare at her with a bewildered look that plainly conveys, What's her problem?
Across the way, Ian Campbell scurries over to Harry and Sarah Jane and grandly introduces himself with a graceful bow. "Good day, my name is Ian Campbell, please consider me completely at your service." Before the couple can reply in kind, Ian holds up his hand and announces, "No need to introduce yourself, Dr. Sullivan, I know who you are; Great-Grandfather told us all about you." Harry looks flattered and puffs up with pride. "You're the one who fancies Miss Smith rotten!"
Harry is extremely grateful for the boy's request for a lack of response because at this moment he doesn't think he could give him one. As he notices the heated flush rising in Sarah Jane's cheeks, it's absolutely no great feat for Harry to turn even paler in comparison.
Spying their nearly empty drinks, Ian moves into action. "Mum told us to help out in any way we can, do you need me to do anything?" He rapidly pulls open his jacket and dress shirt to reveal the Loca-Cola slogan and inquires, "Fancy some Loca-Cola? The latest flavor is jalapeno."
"No, thank you," states Harry with a forced smile. "And please don't feel that you need to stay on our account, I think that you've done more than enough."
Ian offers a departing bow before taking his leave and once gone, Sarah Jane, attempts to bite back her laughter before turning towards Harry who is currently avoiding her gaze. "So," she suggests with a peculiar gleam in her eyes, "What do you say that we go find a nice quiet table and discuss a few things?"
"Like what?" asks Harry dismally as he continues to all avoid eye contact by staring miserably at the ground, sure that Sarah Jane is about to kindly explain how they're nothing more than friends and it's best to remain that way.
She leans into him as she softly informs him, "Like how you're not the only one who fancies someone rotten."
Harry's eyes instantly dart to hers and his brow furrows in confusion. He raises the hand holding his plate and gestures towards the Doctor. "But you two were always so close…I just figured that…well, you know."
Sarah Jane shakes her head slowly so that her message is clear. "You have the wrong doctor, Harry Sullivan." Then in a tone that's so gentle it's almost a whisper. "It's always been you, Harry." And then, in a much firmer voice, "It's just that you're too bloody stupid to see it."
Properly chastised and yet elated all the same, Harry promptly admits, "Well, I happen to have it on good authority that I am an imbecile." He tilts his head to indicate a group of empty tables away from the main festivities. "Shall we?"
Sarah Jane nods once and ribs; "Now you're getting the idea." With a soft chuckle, he escorts her through the crowd of party goers and as they reach the table he leans down close to her and murmurs, "And Sarah?"
"Yes Harry?" she responds quietly. He takes a moment to clear his throat. "When and wherever we traveled together and every day since, it's always been you…for me."
She reaches up and kisses his cheek and despite the gravity of the moment and the importance of the steps that they are about to take towards a new life together, Sarah Jane, being who she is can't help but make one last teasing remark. "I'm sure the Doctor will be very relieved to hear that."
And Harry, being who he is, simply rolls his eyes and returns the kiss that she is so sweetly offering. Because who he is, is a man who loves her and could never resist her, teasing or not.
To Be Continued…