Chapter Seven-Leadworth, 2010
As she materialized on Earth, Rose gasped. The trip across the Void from the parallel Pete's World had been rougher than usual and rather than just feeling a tingling in her skin, it felt like it was on fire. She took a deep breath and blew it out slowly, and gradually the pain faded.
Rose glanced at her watch. Damn. With the time of the translation and recovery from the trip, she had perhaps eight minutes before the cracks closed and she'd no longer be able to get back.
As the burning sensation subsided, her Torchwood training kicked in and she quickly began to survey her surroundings. She normally materialized outside, in the street or an alley or a park or something, but this time she was in a building. More specifically a nondescript hallway with a white ceiling made of acoustical tiles, walls painted dove grey, and a floor covered with an industrial carpeting in a darker shade of grey. Behind her was the entrance to the building, wide double doors of tempered glass flanked by windows on either side, while in front of her were more doors. One set was clearly marked as the mens and ladies' toilets, while others led who knew where. And coming from somewhere ahead of her were the sounds of people talking, muffled as if it was originating from behind one of the doors.
Overly conscious of the time, she knew she didn't have time to investigate everything. She had to prioritize, and that meant finding out where she was.
As Mickey arrived back on Earth, he shook his head and laughed when he saw where he was. "Of all the places to land."
He stood in the center of Roald Dahl Plass in Cardiff, Wales. Behind him lay the fountain and the Millennium Center, and in front of him was a clear view of the bay.
Pulling his temporal scanner out of his pocket, he scanned the surrounding area and shook his head again. Under his feet lay one of the largest caches of alien tech he had ever seen, and in front of the fountain was a lift hidden by a perception filter.
He crossed over to stand on the lift, and as it began to lower, his face twisted into a small grin. "Oi, Jumpin' Jack Flash," he yelled, "comin' down!"
Feeling the seconds tick away, she hurriedly left the building, to twilight and warm summer air. She stepped off a wide, cement stoop onto a stretch of pavement separating the building from a small green. A wood lay beyond a chest-high stone fence which seemed to surround the property. To the far left was a small car park filled to capacity and beyond that was an old, stone church. Something about its spire looked vaguely familiar, but she wasn't looking for a church. She was looking for Mickey, or a familiar blue box, neither of which she could see.
Probably not London. No sign of Mickey. No sign of the Doctor or the TARDIS. No clear way to find out where and when she was, or even what universe she was in.
And she now had six minutes in which to decide whether to stay or return to Pete's World.
Well, there was no way to find out where she was from a car park, not in six minutes at any rate. She knew there were people inside so she reentered the building, hearing again muffled talking and laughter. The sounds quickly turned into music, and she made her way forward to investigate. She rounded a corner at the end of the hall and found a set of wooden doors with glass insets at eye level. Outside the door was a placard that stated "Pond-Williams Wedding" and opposite it were a number of simple, armless chairs.
She groaned, debating whether to burst in on a private party, and a wedding reception at that, just to find out where she was, when the doors opened and a man walked out wearing a grey tuxedo with a top hat and tails.
They gaped at each other.
"It's you!" he said.
"Rory?" Rose looked at the placard and back at him. "Rory Williams?" She gestured at the sign. "As in the 'Pond-Williams' wedding?"
He threw out his hands. "That's me," he said. "The groom."
Rose was stunned for a moment. "Is he…" she began, and then stopped herself. She shook her head, indicating to Rory that she didn't want him to answer. If the Doctor was here, with Rory, it was the new him, not the one she knew. She hadn't been sure about how he had felt about her before, after all he had never finished that sentence in Norway, and even if he had cared for her then, it didn't mean he did now.
And if he didn't, she didn't know if she could bear it.
"Who are you?" Rory asked. "And if you don't mind me asking, why do you wear the same thing all the time?"
She laughed, the absurdity of the moment overcoming her nervousness. "To maintain timelines," she said. "But I don't suppose it matters anymore. In a little less than four minutes I won't even have the ability to damage timelines. My name's Rose. Rose Tyler." She held out her hand, and he shook it.
"And you've been looking for the Doctor, your Doctor," Rory stated. She nodded. "Did you ever find him?"
She swallowed hard. Three minutes. "No," she said. "Never did." She sank down on one of the chairs, and he sat down next to her.
"Can you tell me, were you two…" Rose looked over at Rory, startled. "I'm sorry," he continued apologetically. "Absolutely none of my business. It's just, I feel like I've known you my whole life, but I haven't, have I?"
"No, 's alright," Rose told him. "I don't mind. Sort of? Maybe? Sounds weird, I know, but I'm not really sure how he felt. And now, since he's changed…"
Rory flashed back in his mind to her the first times he had seen her, and the tall, blue eyed man in the leather jacket whom he now knew had been the Doctor, and the dark haired, dark eyed man in pinstripes who had been the Doctor as well. And all of a sudden he remembered how despite how different the Doctor had looked back then, he had had an adoring look for the woman next to him. And maybe it was because he just wanted the Doctor to be happy, maybe it was because he wanted to see Rose smile again, or maybe it was because it was his own wedding day, he began to grin and took her hand.
"Rose," he said, "I've got to tell you something…"
Amy looked around the room as she allowed Brian, her new father-in-law, to pull her into his arms for a dance. On the other side of the dance floor her mother waited to share the same dance with Rory.
"What's wrong?" Brian asked.
"Nothing, nothing," she answered in an overly cheerful voice that indicated anything but. As she and Brian danced, Amy continued scan the room. "I'm just looking for your son. My new husband." Out of the corner of her eye she saw the Doctor come to the rescue, grandly offering to take Rory's place. She would have laughed at her mother's expression, which indicated more than a little trepidation, if she weren't so upset. "Who is supposed to be here dancing with my mother right now."
Brian began to look around as well, muttering something under his breath. Although Amy couldn't quite make out what he had said, she assumed it was a criticism of his son. Amy would have normally defended Rory, but she certainly wasn't going to do it right now, not when she was so angry at him for missing the dance.
And then grew angrier still. Through the glass in the double doors leading into the hall, she spotted him sitting in the corridor with a pretty, blonde woman. Holding hands with a pretty, blonde woman.
"Excuse me," Amy said and pulled out of Brian's arms without waiting for a response and stalked across the room.
As she burst into the corridor, the doors swung all the way open and then by sheer momentum bounced back, neatly closing behind her. Rory snatched his hand out of Rose's and jumped to his feet.
"Amy!" he said, wide eyed. "This…" he waved a hand between himself and Rose, "this isn't what it looks like."
"I am glad it isn't," she said coldly, "because what it looks like is a prospective murder scene. Right now you are supposed to be in there," she jerked her thumb over one shoulder towards the doors behind her, "dancing with my mother. And instead I find you out here, holding hands with…" Amy looked over at the blonde woman, who met her gaze. The woman had schooled her features into an expressionless mask, but Amy could see the tracks of tears recently shed. Puzzled, she looked at her new husband and then back at the young woman in front of her.
"Amy, if I could just explain," Rory began, surprised when Amy didn't interrupt him. "This is Rose, a friend of the Doctor's." He glanced down at her, but she didn't return his gaze. Instead, she looked directly ahead of her. "A very good friend, if I'm not mistaken." His eyes met Amy's. "A very, very good friend," he said meaningfully, "one who hasn't seen him in a very long time."
Amy gaped at him. "Seriously? Did you tell her he's here?"
"I hadn't gotten that far," Rory answered. "I was just about to tell her that when you interrupted us."
"He's here?" Rose said at the same time. She jumped to her feet and wiped her face with her hands.
"Yeah. Dancing with my mother. Which, I might remind you, you were supposed to be doing." That last part was directed at Rory. "I'll just go get him."
"No!" Rory almost shouted. "Let me. Please let me. You stay here with Rose."
"Alright," Amy said slowly. She adjusted the long skirt of her wedding dress and sat down, and then patted the seat next to her. With a deep breath to quell her nervousness, Rose sat down beside her, and after Rory pushed open the door and reentered the hall, the door swung back but didn't quite close all the way.
It took Rory several minutes to get the Doctor off the dance floor. To the consternation of his father, and the great amusement of everyone else, the Doctor was now dancing with Brian, thankfully at arm's length, twirling him around the room not quite in time to the music. Rory just stood and watched for a moment, hoping the scene was being caught on video by someone in the room.
When the music ended, he quickly crossed the room and grabbed the Doctor by the arm before he could begin to dance with someone else.
"Did you want the next dance, Rory?" the Doctor asked in surprise. "Because I assumed you'd want to dance with your wife. Or your mother-in-law. Who seemed to be a bit put out when you weren't there to dance with her at the proper time. Luckily for you, I stepped in and took your place."
Rory rolled his eyes and pulled him from the dance floor. "No, I don't want to dance with you. There's someone I want you to meet."
"If it's that great-aunt of yours, we've already met, thank you very much, and I'm certain she doesn't want to dance with me again. And the fire was absolutely not my fault, no matter what she says."
Rory made a note to himself to ask Amy about that later. "No, it's not Aunt Ethyl. It's a friend of mine," he said and the Doctor gave him a puzzled look. Rory grinned. This was the first time in his life that he felt he had the upper hand with the Doctor, and boy, did that feel good. "C'mon, she's out here."
Rory's grin widened. God, it felt good.
He led the way to the hall door, and the Doctor peeked out of the window… and stopped. He didn't just cease moving forward; he froze, mouth agape and wide eyes staring fixedly at Rose. It was more than surprise, more than shock. The Doctor didn't even appear to be breathing.
Oh, this didn't just feel good, it felt incredible.
Rose's voice filtered through the double doors.
"And so we were trying to trace him through her, and all of a sudden she just sort of… disappeared. We couldn't figure it out. So we had to start tracing him individually, just using the time traces of the TARDIS which was much harder."
"And you never did find out what happened to Donna?" Amy asked.
Suddenly the Doctor came back to himself. He burst through the doors, making a typically grand entrance, and Rory followed, dodging the doors so they wouldn't hit him.
"Donna got married," the Doctor said, walking in. He stopped before he had made it halfway across the hall. "Met him while trapped in the mainframe of the largest library in the universe. At first we thought she had imagined him, but then when we realized he was real we went back for him. Lee. Nice man, has a bit of a stutter but the marriage is still legal. They're living in Ealing now, not far from Sarah Jane actually. Last time I saw them they had two children, a boy and a girl."
As he had been speaking, Rose had risen slowly to her feet. The Doctor's voice trailed off, and the only sounds were those of the wedding reception, muffled by the doors behind him. Amy and Rory exchanged concerned glances as the Doctor and Rose stood there staring at one another without moving.
After several long moments, the Doctor broke the silence.
"Rose Tyler," he said, his voice full of repressed emotion. "I thought you were dead."
"Doctor?" she asked tentatively. She stared at his new looks: his floppy, brown hair; his young-old face with its prominent jaw and forehead; and his green eyes, eyes that seemed to have the knowledge of the universe behind them. "Is it really you?"
"Yes," he answered. "Still me. New face—well, not all that new anymore—new hair." He looked up at a lock of his fringe that had fallen down into his face. "I don't always wear a tuxedo, that's just for the wedding, but I do wear a bowtie now—bowties are cool—and hats." He whipped the top hat off his head and almost dropped it. He fumbled with the brim a bit before handing it to Rory. "Hats are cool too. But even though the outer packaging is different, it's still me." He began to move and was instantly at her side, laying a hand on her shoulder. He trailed it down, finally taking her hand in his. "I'd tell you the first thing I ever said to you was run, but what I really want to do is finish the sentence I started on the beach in Norway." He glanced out of the corner of his eye at Rory and Amy, who were staring at them with undisguised interest, and bent down to whisper in her ear. When he pulled backwards, he met her eyes and she let out a quiet sob.
"Do you still…" he asked, and she nodded vigorously. "Even though I changed?" She nodded again, and then almost faster than the eye could see he had cupped her face and was kissing her. After an almost imperceptible hesitation she had wrapped her arms around his neck and was kissing him back.
Rory tried to pull Amy back into the reception, but she wouldn't move, continuing to stare at them wide eyed. She had a small smile on her face, one that grew as the Doctor deepened the kiss.
Mindful of Rose's need for air, the Doctor eventually pulled back from her and rested his forehead on hers. "Evidently kissing is something I now do as well," he told her quietly, and his voice held a touch of amusement.
"Good," Rose told him, "because I plan on doing a lot of it from here on out." She pulled him in for another snog, this time clearly more passionate than the last.
"Amy," Rory hissed, tugging harder on her arm. "Let's give them a little privacy, shall we?"
"No way," she stage-whispered back.
The Doctor pulled away from Rose again. He spoke without tearing his eyes away from hers.
"Amelia Pond, do I interrupt you when you are snogging Rory?"
"Then do I stare at you when you are snogging him?"
"Sometimes," she answered.
"Well, this is different, and you will do me the courtesy of shoving off."
"Alright, but don't do anything I wouldn't do," Amy said cheekily. "Particularly here. After all this building is owned by the Church."
Rory snorted, and Rose grinned. The Doctor shot Amy a glance before returning his attention to Rose.
And as Amy watched her best friend begin to snog Rose again, she allowed her new husband to pull her backwards into the reception hall.
Later, much later, after most of the wedding guests had left and Amy and Rory sat at the head table drinking champagne, the Doctor entered the hall with Rose. Amy smiled as she saw they were holding hands. They were awfully cute together.
"Mr. and Mrs. Pond," the Doctor began.
"It doesn't really work that way," Rory interjected, and the Doctor ignored him.
"Amy and Rory Pond," the Doctor continued, "I'd like to take you on a honeymoon trip, anywhere, any when in the universe."
Rory snorted and whispered something under his breath which sounded a lot like no way in hell.
"Fat chance, Raggedy Man," Amy told him. "You think I want to go on my honeymoon just to watch you play kissy-face with your girlfriend?"
"Told you she wouldn't go for it," Rose told him. "You owe me ten quid, and don't think I won't make you pay up."
He shot her a look, and she grinned cheekily at him.
"Tell you what," Amy said. "We'll go on our honeymoon, and when you and Rose are done getting reacquainted," she put her hands up and made a gesture of air quotes, "you can come back and pick us up. But it better not be after fourteen years this time." She shook her finger at him, and he grinned.
"Deal," he agreed. Then he turned to Rory. "And Rory Pond, you've been holding out on me. Why didn't you tell me you knew Rose? How long have you known each other?"
Rose and Rory exchanged glances and grinned.
"I didn't tell you because I couldn't," he answered, "but as far as how long I've known her, I've known her almost my whole life."