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But if you can still dream – 5

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Swift as a shadow, short as any dream.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream I, 1

Rose – Catnap

Her work colleagues wanted to go to the mall. Sure, why not. After all, she had a really good job – well-paid job – and a loaded father (who was quite eager to express his admiration for his daughter in any way he could, including the local equivalent of VIP Visa card), so she could probably afford a shopping spree of any kind. But nothing tickled her fancy yet, and they had already been here for at least three hours. She sighed and fingered a pair of male gloves displayed in one of the shops. They would do well for Pete, as he seemed to be constantly losing his gloves, hats and umbrellas, but she wasn’t convinced. She knew who they would suit for sure, but tried to think around this thought and make it wait until she was back home.

As the girls moved to the next door and giggled over some silly gadgets in a gift store, she walked to the nearest fountain and sat down on the concrete edge. Her nose ached, so she took off her spectacles – worn to work only (as she knew, spectacles tended to make one look more respectable and reliable) – and put them in her shirt pocket. She actually started to wear shirts, and trousers. Sometimes even nice blouses with some light and subtle jewelry. Jackie, armed with newfound certainty and feeling of being the wife of a really wealthy man, managed to work on her own style and on her little girl’s clothes. Both were way more classy than in their own London – money did wonders to one’s wardrobe – but also than local Jackie had ever been before.

Of course, nobody told it outright, but some gossip rags noted that since the catastrophe and “close call” Jackie Tyler had changed her taste in clothes to less flashy, less glittery and surely less girly. Also, they mused, having her long-absent daughter back made her assume finally the role of a mother, which explained the 180 degrees turn in the way she dressed, behaved in public and conducted her private life. Beginning with selling all her Svarowski-covered stiletto heels on e-Bay to the parties, which were no more.

The Tylers stopped entertaining at all. Of course there were official events, but nothing was hosted at the Tyler residence, no one but closest friends and chosen coworkers was admitted further than to the gate and the family became way more private than ever before. Combined with reappearance of a pretty daughter and gossips on another Tyler being on the way it made them the celebrities of the season.

As Jackie’s pregnancy progressed and Pete was seen getting into his car in front of a clinic, helping his rotund wife in, without hiding behind bodyguards, the tabloids moved on to someone else – and his or hers scandalous behavior on the deck of some love boat – and Tylers could again breathe with ease.

Now Rose could finally walk through a market or a mall without anyone noticing her and trying to pry some information. She leaned on a decorative concrete wall and admired the play of light on the water spouting from the hidden pipes.

There was a man, standing on the other side of the water wall, man of an uncomfortably familiar figure. His movements and gestures made her heart skip a beat, and when a young, dark-haired woman approached him and handed him a sleepy child, Rose’s eyes filled with tears. Fortunately he moved closer and into a spot where her view was no longer obscured by the droplets and she could see that his hair was neatly combed back, his built was rather stocky – the water made him look thinner – and his glasses were horn-rimmed, not black. Also his nose was rather… potato-shaped. Her heart constricted painfully as she tried to catch some air and she tilted her head back to ease her breathing. She closed her eyes to stop the tears and forced her face muscles to relax. Her hands rested on warm concrete and slick, wet tiles…

… she felt him squeeze her fingers. They didn’t even have to look at each other – they just sat in the sun, watching the clouds go by and waiting for their bodies to regain some strength and warmth before going back to the TARDIS. She felt his presence acutely, knew without checking when he raked his hair with his free hand, when he fidgeted with the shirt collar or when he checked his shoelaces. It was familiar. She was quite conscious of the fact that whatever she did, he could also guess, in the same way. Familiarity. The effect of watching each other, sometimes in rather cramped spaces, for weeks – or was it months? – now. Of course, since the regeneration she had to remove some quirks from the list – and add new ones – but there were enough similarities… Now he should pat his breast pocket and check for the stone they managed to retrieve, look at it in the sunlight, check the surface – letting go of her hand for a moment – grab her fingers again, even more firmly and say something joyous and absolutely nonsensical about being here and now but having to move, move, move, Rose, we are going…

“Rose? We are going to get something to eat… Rose?”

“Sure” she smiled, shaking off the remnants of the dream. “I’ll have something to drink. Way too warm for me today. Where are we going?”

They found a nice, cozy restaurant with an outdoor table or two, and ordered tons of food.

“So, you finally found something nice?” she asked, conscious of having to interact with her group. “I think I’ll get these gloves for my Dad, he lost the last pair on the crash site yesterday. Mum is furious, of course.”

“Why? He can afford them, for sure” one of the girls looked curiously at her.

“Oh, it’s this thing about principles, you know. She still remembers the times when she had to count every penny. So sometimes, when we do something totally stupid, she goes berserk. It takes a day or two for her to wind down and everything is back to normal, but this gloves thing is her pet peeve. She says Dad just doesn’t pay enough attention and one day, when he manages to spend all his money on replacing his gloves she is not going to support him and he will have to count on my charity” she sipped her soda. “So, anything good today?”

“Sure. A sale at the Body Shop. I got a box of Ocean soap, my Ma’s favourite. And some bubble bath” Josie smiled widely. “And I got you something for your birthday, Rosie-chan, but I’m not telling!”

“Aw, Josie, spill” Rose reached for the Body Shop bag next to her friend.

“Keep your hands to yourself. You’ll see in two weeks. Dori got you something too, you go badger her.”

“No way I’m showing this here, Rose. You would not want, I guarantee you. But I got myself a chocolate fondue set I wanted and not as expensive as I saw them in some other shops. And they threw in a dose of Belgium chocolate for the first try, so we shall have a treat for your party. You are having a party, aren’t you?”

Rose smiled contrarily.

“Oh, I thought we could go and hang out in some nice pub, look at some nice backsides and get totally trashed. Then we would get to my place, kick my Mum out of the TV room and watch some sappy romance or brain-numbing chick flick. These I have enough to get us quite stupid in one night.”

“Good plan, but I got a better one” interjected the fourth girl, silent until now and busy sipping her tea. “We get to my place, as my mother is out for that weekend, some conference or other, and we have our party in one place without moving. The pro is, I got a pub on the other side of the street, so if we feel like some backside-looking, we could make a short trip there, get our fill, and get back to a safe and warm home before we get too drunk. This way we get all the entertainment without any parents noting the hour or trying to set us straight and get us to bed before we wish. No offense to your mother, Rosie, but she tends to treat you as if you were still sixteen. Didn’t she notice you’ve grown up a bit? You know, change of bra size, job, your own money?”

“I still live with them. And it’s not like she didn’t notice, but she has these protective urges. Even more so since she got pregnant again. Hormones are talking through her. So, you know, I try not to tax her nerves too much, this is eight month and she isn’t taking this well. Also, I admit, I sometimes like the attention. It’s hard when your boss is your Dad and the only way not to take your work home is to talk about weather at the table, and sometimes even weather is ‘work’.”

They all nodded. Torchwood employees learned soon that every topic, after careful examination, may be work-related and thus, is many instances, secret. That was why they tended to hang out together – at least they didn’t have to watch their mouths so much, even if they were supposed no to talk about professional issues in public places. And they could watch each other, which made the situation a little bit more comfortable.

“That sucks, sure. But you know things waaay before we get out hands on them, don’t you?”

“If my Dad told me of them, you would be right, but I usually hear of them in the loading room” Rose smiled slightly. “These truck drivers have big chatty mouths and they feel they should share all the stories from the sites with me when I do the primary search of the load. Dad sometimes learns things from me and before his secretary gets around to showing him the key reports.”

They all smiled at the memory of the boss’ main assistant, competent, nice, careful but quite slow lady who never managed to beat anyone to the boss with the news.

As she boarded the bus and managed to obtain a window seat, she leaned back and to the right. Her back hurt, her feet hurt, her left hand hurt where she managed to bash it on the glass door when the opening mechanism failed and started to close the door directly on her person. She sat, favoring her left side and looked at the greenery outside. She could have called a taxi, but she simply wanted to do something normal and everyday. And seeing the other girls board their buses she paid the driver and readied herself for a half-hour ride home by the indirect route. The sway of the bus made her a little sleepy, but fortunately not queasy. She let her eyelids drop, but a hard motion of the bus made her jerk awake suddenly, before the dreams appeared. Fortunately.

As soon as she passed through the door to the living room, she felt the day’s weariness catching up with her and she could barely crawl towards the couch.

“Mariah?” she called tentatively towards the kitchen door.

“Rosie? What are you doing here, girl? Shouldn’t you be out, shopping?”

“I was” she yawned desperately. “But I feel… I felt a bit warm. An’ sleepy. Could you…” she tried to gather her thoughts. “Coffee? And wake me up in half an hour?”

“How long did you stay up yesterday?” the cook put her hands on her hips and stared at her with reproach.

“Like… Three? Four…?” she yawned again. “Coffee, I beg you” and she fell forwards on the pillow.

“You just lie here and I’ll get you what you need.”

“…k you…”

She was staring down at the crowd milling under the balcony. They were yet unaware of the trouble that was clouding the horizon, but they would soon realize that their world is not as easily controlled as they thought. Well, that would teach them. But to learn, they must survive, and for them to survive, she and the Doctor must finish their quest. And one thing this quest demanded was for them to stay silent.

He pressed her fingers, once, and pointed towards the vines on the side of the building. They grew in a way reminding of the Earth grapevine, but sturdier and with much thicker branches. She nodded and touched the back of his hand in confirmation.

They communicated thus for the whole day. The problem was the language. Although TARDIS translated it for them properly, the local society demanded different ways of speaking depending on the social and financial situation of both sides of the conversation and they didn’t have enough time to explore and research where in the hierarchy they should place themselves, especially as it was at least three if not four-dimensional. Not too low, nor too high, to be able to move freely but not to draw attention… Apparently the locals noticed you only if you emitted sound, so as long as they stayed silent, they were safe.

They were back, finally, having searched, found and disposed of a rather ugly, literally underground, problem which would make the local society crumble in a few weeks if not neutralised. All this without uttering a sound, which took its toll on the Doctor. He was holding her hand, communicating even without any signals his level of stress and worry. As soon as they were inside the TARDIS and shut the door safely, she tried to free her hand from his grasp, but to no avail.

“Let me go” she uttered slowly, looking in his exhausted face. “Doctor?”

“I’m sorry, Rose” he inhaled deeply and drew her hand to his lips. “You were wonderful” he added, bestowing a light kiss on her fingertips. “We should land somewhere nice and calm next time. We need vacation, don’t you think?”

“I think we need some rest now, we can talk about vacation when we think straight.”

“Right as always” he murmured, squeezing her hand again and rubbing it carefully. “I didn’t hurt you, I hope? I thought I was holding you too hard, but I was afraid that if I let go of you I’d never be able to find you again in this crazy place.”

“You surely wouldn’t be able to ask for directions” she joked poorly and they both smiled tiredly.

“So, rest it is. Do try to get a few hours tonight…”

“…tonight. Not watching TV, not working, just sleeping, you hear me? No more catnaps, you are not a middle-aged male!”

“Whut?” she tried to see her mother, who was apparently in the middle of a good scolding.

“You are going to bed, now, missy. All right, you may make a pit stop at the bathroom, but no books, no movies,no phone, no laptop. And give me back your PDA!”

“‘k, Mum. I’ll go in a few. Really.”

“I’ll wait” said Jackie Tyler calmly and decidedly.

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Written by Srebrna

2013/07/29 at 01:28

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