Objection by LN29 [Reviews - 8] |
My mother, after reading my Doctor and Rose trilogy, requested that I write her a happy, fluffy oneshot story about the Doctor and Rose. With no significant angst, suffering, torture, death, or war. And there had to be at least one kiss between the Doctor and Rose. Thus, this tale was born.
Not really much plot to it, just an excuse for me to have some fun with the characters. It was fun to actually write something lighthearted for a change, after all the heavy stuff I've written lately. Their banter is so much fun to write, and the Doctor's always awesome to write! I hope it's relatively decent.
This is a standalone, independant of my Doctor and Rose trilogy. Though I guess it probably could fit somewhere in the Step by Step 'verse, if you wanted it to.
At some point, every girl dreamed of her wedding day, and Rose Tyler was no exception.
True, ever since she’d fallen in with (and fallen in love with) a time travelling alien, the whole possibility of a normal, church wedding on Earth had become a bit less likely. Or any sort of wedding, actually. He wasn’t really the domestic type. Not that Rose minded. She’d rather have the Doctor than any other man, and being with him every day was more than enough for her.
But she was only human, and there were still moments where she thought about that childish dream.
This…wasn’t how she’d pictured it.
Rose heaved a sigh as she paced the perimeter of the room for what felt like the thousandth time. Just like the other nine hundred and ninety-nine times, no opportunity for escape presented itself.
It wasn’t as though their methods of confinement were very complex or advanced. Quite the opposite, in fact. All that was currently keeping her in here was a simple, locked door. But, as she had long since discovered, in the right hands, a locked door was more than sufficient to confine someone.
“This stopped being funny a long time ago,” she muttered, leaning against the wall in weary frustration.
But then she glanced over at the heap of fabric she’d been presented with a little while ago, which was apparently supposed to suffice for her wedding dress, and she couldn’t help but laugh a little.
“All right,” she admitted, “maybe it’s still a little funny.”
She was perfectly aware of the absurdity of her situation, and no doubt this was one of those misadventures that she and the Doctor would laugh about in the future, once they were far away from this planet. But at the moment, boredom and frustration were mingling with a growing feeling of apprehension, leaving her in a less than amiable mood.
It’d been about two days since she’d been snatched out of an alien marketplace. She still wasn’t sure exactly how it had all happened. One second, she and the Doctor had been exploring their newest destination. They hadn’t been more than a step or two apart. But the next second, someone had seized hold of her, dragging her backward and covering her mouth so that she wouldn’t scream.
The last thing she remembered was the Doctor whirling around to face her assailant, shouting her name. Then everything had gone black, and she’d awakened here.
Apparently, she’d discovered, a resident of this planet had seen her and decided he wanted her as his exotic, alien wife.
Which might be a little more flattering if the residents of this planet didn’t resemble bipedal anteaters, fur and all.
And if she was actually given a choice in the matter.
But apparently, she was not to have any say in this arrangement. From the little she’d been able to gather about this planet, that was pretty much what their whole society was like.
Someone knocked on the door, startling Rose.
“Go away!” she shouted, rather rudely, she had to admit. But given the circumstances, she thought she had a license to be a little bit rude. The Doctor had told her, on more than one occasion, that they should only be rude if the situation demanded it. Well, this situation demanded it.
Speaking of the Doctor…where was he, anyway? It’d been two days, and they were running out of time…
The door creaked open, revealing the furry face of one of her captors, who regarded her with some shock.
“You’re not dressed,” she (Rose could tell from her clothing that it was a she) said.
“I told them,” Rose informed her, a bit more politely, “I’m not putting that on.”
“But…he’s commanded it,” the female anteater-thing exclaimed, almost as though she couldn’t believe Rose would have defied a command.
She stepped fully into the room, and the door closed behind her.
“If he wants to marry me, he’s going to have to take me as I am,” Rose crossed her arms stubbornly. She had no intention of actually being married, but she didn’t bother to mention that right now. “What I’m wearing was good enough for him when he first saw me, it’ll be good enough now. I’m not getting dressed up for a wedding I didn’t even agree to, and don’t want.”
The female walked over to where Rose had flung the (frankly, hideous) dress she’d been given, and picked it up.
“You must put this on,” she said, holding it out to Rose. “It’s almost time.”
Rose felt a little bad for the poor thing. She was obviously just following orders, and it was immediately clear that this wasn’t one of the people who’d actually captured her.
“I’m sorry,” she said gently, pushing the dress away.
“If you don’t,” the female’s voice dropped to a whisper, “he will be angry.” Rose immediately caught the change in tone. Her limpid brown eyes fixed on Rose’s, and Rose saw sudden, genuine fear in her gaze. “And we will both be punished.”
Rose swallowed hard, but she also knew that the female wasn’t lying. She’d seen how women were treated on this planet. This wasn’t the first male-dominated society that she and the Doctor had encountered, and it never ceased to infuriate Rose. Travelling to other worlds wasn’t all about witnessing advanced, futuristic societies. There were governments and societies of all kinds, advanced and regressed, and sometimes the changes weren’t for the better. So she’d seen this sort of thing before, and it always made her sick.
Her only consolation was that they tried to avoid them, and moreover, she knew that the Doctor hated the injustice just as much, if not more, than she did.
However, while she might plan to resist these people at every turn, she wasn’t willing to risk letting innocent people be hurt because of her.
“Fine,” she sighed, taking the dress.
The female helped her put it on, and Rose couldn’t help but wonder whether her captor/aspiring groom had intentionally selected the most hideous garment he could possibly locate. Ruffles and drapings and a skirt so long and full that she nearly tripped on it even as she was putting it on. It wasn’t designed for a human, and fit her awkwardly, and the whole thing was made out of a sort of sickly yellow-green fabric that might just be the most repulsive color the universe had ever known.
“You look lovely,” the female informed Rose.
Rose resisted the urge to roll her eyes.
“You should be honored,” she added timidly, risking looking Rose in the eye.
“I don’t want to marry him,” Rose said, slowly and clearly. For what felt like the millionth time.
“But he wants you,” she replied, as though that settled everything.
“He kidnapped me.”
“He chose you.”
Rose sighed, battling back both anger and apprehension. It was like talking to a brick wall, just as it had been for days.
She really didn’t want to marry some alien, even if she knew the marriage didn’t actually mean anything. Accidental marriages weren’t exactly unheard of in her travels with the Doctor. This wasn’t the first time she’d been forced into a supposed marriage, and sadly, it might not be the last. Still, it was always best to avoid the actual ceremony, and she and the Doctor usually managed to rescue each other before the actual supposed union took place.
But so far, she’d seen no sign of him.
She knew he’d be looking for her, of course. She knew him well enough for that. He’d be trying everything in his power to locate and rescue her. But they were really running out of time…
“If I’m being forced into this without my consent,” Rose inquired, “why bother with any of this?” She gestured to the dress she was wearing.
“There has to be a ceremony,” the female replied, as if this was the most obvious thing in the world.
With that, she crossed to the door and opened it.
Rose eyed the open door, wondering if she could make a run for it, but the next second, two other grey-furred aliens came into view. And these were armed.
Wordlessly, as though she were nothing more than an animal to be herded, one grabbed hold of Rose’s arm and started to pull her out of the room.
“I can walk by myself,” Rose snapped, jerking her arm out of his grip.
Her insolence seemed to perturb them, but they only nodded and led her down a long corridor.
Rose had no idea of where she was or where they were going, and while she was desperately searching for a way to escape, a significant portion of her attention was forced to focus on not tripping over the absurd skirts she was being forced to wear.
Part of her wondered how in the world she managed to find her way into these situations. But part of her really wasn’t too surprised. Life with the Doctor was anything but ordinary, and she’d long since lost track of the mad adventures the two of them had had together. Being captured by various aliens was an almost daily occurrence. Still, this situation was a bit stranger than most, and Rose was beginning to get worried.
She had no doubt that, if she couldn’t escape, the Doctor would rescue her. She just would prefer it to be before she was supposedly married to whoever had kidnapped her.
“Where are we going?” she demanded, but no one seemed to find her question worth answering.
She couldn’t help but study her surroundings, not having seen much more than the inside of that room for the past two days. The architecture looked, in some ways, similar to Earth’s, though more metallic and angular. There was very little warmth or comfort in their surroundings, and Rose couldn’t help but shiver a little. Everything was happening so quickly now, and it was hard to keep up mentally.
And, surrounded by these aliens, her captors, she suddenly felt quite small.
But before she had time to reflect further on this, they’d entered a much larger room, and her heart started to pound when she realized where they were. It wasn’t exactly a church, but it was immediately clear that this was where the “ceremony” was going to happen.
If she hadn’t been equal parts frightened and furious, she might have almost laughed at the fact that, in some ways, it was set up like an actual wedding.
There were even guests, which she had to admit she wasn’t expecting. Her captor’s family, she supposed. Or maybe friends, if he had any.
(Which, going on the brief encounters she’d had with him, she sincerely doubted.)
And she found herself scanning the small group of people anxiously, seeking the familiar face of the Doctor. But the only faces that looked back at her were more of these aliens, and her heart sank a little when she saw that he was nowhere to be found.
She wished she could bolt, or try to fight, or escape, or something. She hated being helpless. But when she glanced over her shoulder, one of the males behind her caught her eye. He said nothing, but she saw his hand rest casually on his gun, silently reminding her that he was armed, and she was to do as she was told. They may not view her as having any rights, but they weren’t taking any chances either.
She wasn’t going to be able to get away on her own.
“Come on, Doctor,” she whispered under her breath. “Cutting it kind of close, here.”
She shivered as she caught the eye of the alien who intended to be her husband. Gnack, he’d said his name was. In all honesty, he didn’t look much different from any of the other aliens in this room. But there was something in his eyes that made Rose extremely uncomfortable.
Fortunately, she’d been able to keep him at bay in the brief encounters they’d had since her capture, since they weren’t actually married or anything, but she really wasn’t looking forward to what would happen if this actually took place.
“Here we are,” Gnack said as Rose was pushed to the front of the room to stand beside him.
She glared and stepped away as much as they’d let her, nearly tripping over her skirt again in the process.
“I don’t want to marry you,” she informed him firmly, figuring she might as well say this one more time, with everyone listening. “I can’t and I won’t. You kidnapped me, and you have no right to do this.”
Gnack just looked at her coolly, as did everyone else.
“Be silent,” he ordered, but Rose’s temper flared. She’d been treated like trash for days, and was now being forced into a marriage that she was fairly certain was illegal, at least by human standards. She was not going to let him order her around like she was a dog.
“I will never obey you,” she countered. “I’ll always cause trouble. And,” she added, startling even herself with the sudden steel that crept into her tone, “I will never love you.”
Gnack only laughed softly.
“That is not necessary,” he smiled, putting a claw-like hand on her arm.
Rose took another step back, but felt her guard nudge her back in place with his weapon.
There was another alien standing up at the front, and judging from his attire, Rose assumed that he was whatever this planet’s equivalent of a minister was. He, like everyone else, was watching the interaction between Rose and Gnack with no emotion, as though Rose was of no consequence. And no one seemed to care that she was clearly here against her will.
“Are you ready?” he asked Gnack.
“Begin,” Gnack nodded, and Rose looked around desperately for a way out, as the minister-equivilent began to speak.
As she searched desperately for some opportunity for escape, her mind, rendered irritatingly unhelpful by frustration and panic, refused to stay completely focused on the task at hand.
Instead, as minds are sometimes wont to do, she found her mind wandering down several avenues of idle, random, and frustrating speculation. Such as wondering what her mum would think of this situation if she knew where Rose was. What the Doctor would think. Wondering if she was going to be expected to kiss Gnack…and how exactly one would go about kissing someone with a nose like an anteater…
Furiously, she shook her head to clear it and forced her mind back to the present. Still frantically seeking a way out of this, and failing to find anything.
The strange part was that, while a majority of the ceremony bore no resemblance to Earth weddings, there were a few similarities that Rose wasn’t expecting. And, she gathered, were largely formalities that had no real bearing on what was going to happen, judging by what she’d experienced so far.
But still, they were present, such as the words the minister-equivalent spoke next.
“Are there any objections to this union?”
“I don’t suppose my objection counts for anything?” Rose supplied.
Everyone looked at her blankly, and she sighed.
“If anyone objects…” he continued as if she hadn’t spoken, “please speak now.”
There was a momentary silence, which was unexpectedly shattered by a sudden and very familiar voice from the back of the room.
Rose’s heart leaped at the sound of his voice, her worries melting away in an instant.
She whirled around to see the familiar, pinstripe-clad form of the Doctor leaning nonchalantly against the back wall, next to the door.
He surveyed the room as everyone turned to seek out who had spoken, and his face lit up in a brief but genuine smile when he caught Rose’s eye.
“Actually,” he added, seeing that every eye in the room was now upon him, “I very, very much object.”
He pushed off of the wall and strode forward, hands in his pockets, but somehow still managing to act like he owned the place.
At the sight of him, all Rose’s fear and trepidation had immediately dissolved. He was here, and he wouldn’t let them go through with this. She still wasn’t sure exactly what he was going to do, but she had no doubt that he would do it. And in the absence of her fear, there arose the slightest feeling of annoyance and exasperation that he’d cut it this close. But that was mostly overshadowed by delight and excitement at the sight of him.
“More than object,” he continued. “I’m saying that this supposed marriage is not going to happen.”
“Who exactly are you?” Gnack demanded, and the Doctor fixed him with an icy, calculating glare that completely belied the casual expression on his face.
“I’m the Doctor,” he said. He pointed. “And that’s Rose Tyler.”
He caught her eye again, and even as he kept his expression relaxed and confident, she saw a slight strain of worry in his eyes as he looked her over, as though searching for injuries.
“You all right?” he asked.
“I’m fine,” Rose replied honestly, and his face lit up with that incredible smile of his, before he turned his attention back to the others.
“As I was saying, I’m the Doctor, that’s Rose, and she’s definitely not going to be marrying anyone today.”
His tone was utterly confident, as though he were stating an absolute fact and fully expected them to just hand Rose over and be done with it right then and there. Rose’s heart pounded as she braced herself for whatever he had in mind.
“Because I’m objecting.”
Rose had the slightest suspicion that, on some level, he was rather enjoying himself.
“On what grounds?” the minister-equivalent demanded, and the Doctor, who had by now made his way across the room, standing before Rose, Gnack, and the others at the front, regarded him nonchalantly.
“A very good reason,” the Doctor said. “More than good.”
He was stalling. Why was he stalling? Rose tried to read his expression, but it was impossible.
“A very, very good reason why she can’t marry this man here. Why she won’t be marrying anybody.”
“State your reason!” he barked.
The Doctor glanced at Rose, and Rose felt her whole body tensing in anticipation at the sight of the sudden expression on his face. An expression that she was, unfortunately, quite familiar with, and had been on the receiving end of many a time.
An expression that was equal parts don’t-worry-I’m-here-and-I’ll-get-us-out-of-this and I’m-sorry-this-might-be-awkward-please-don’t-hate-me-I’ll-explain-later.
That expression never boded well, though whatever mad scheme he came up with did usually work. She held her breath, waiting for what he was going to say or do.
Realizing that, knowing the Doctor, she had to be prepared for anything.
“Because she’s already married to me.”
Except for that.
Only extreme self-discipline kept Rose from gasping or otherwise reacting in surprise, which was fortunate, because if she had, that would have been a dead giveaway. As it was, there was a gasp from the other occupants of the room, and Rose saw the minister-equivalent-alien shoot a brief look at Gnack, who glared at the Doctor.
“No I don’t,” the Doctor shook his head firmly. “That’s Rose, my wife, who you kidnapped two days ago.”
Hearing him refer to her as his wife made Rose’s heart pound harder than she would have thought possible, though of course it was just an act on his part. Still, she definitely hadn’t seen that one coming, and she hoped he knew what he was doing.
He crossed his arms in front of him and regarded Gnack with that cold stare he could summon at a moment's notice, when the situation required it.
“So this marriage is both unlawful and immoral according to the laws of this planet,” he said.
“If she is your wife,” the minister-equivalent said in a tone that implied he didn’t quite believe the Doctor, “why was she not marked?”
Marked? Rose wasn’t quite sure what he meant, but evidently, the Doctor had some idea, or at least was pulling a very convincing bluff.
“Look at us,” he gestured from himself to her. “We’re not exactly natives of this planet, are we? We were visiting, and the planet we come from does not require marks as indications of marriage. Marriages are cemented through minds and hearts, not through objects.”
Again, he looked at her, his eyes shining with a myriad of emotions, and she wanted more than anything to go to his side. But she still wasn’t sure if her guard was going to let her go, and the Doctor seemed to intercept her slightly desperate gaze, and gave her a brief reassuring nod.
“I would have come forward sooner,” he added, “but I didn’t know where you took her. I’ve been looking everywhere for her.”
And from the look in his eyes, Rose knew that part, at least, was utterly true.
Rose heard murmurs from the group behind him, from the gathered aliens, and they sounded sympathetic. But Gnack and his minister friend remained unconvinced.
“Then how do you expect to prove it?” Gnack demanded, one hand shooting out to clamp down on Rose’s arm.
Rose pulled herself free as the Doctor’s eyes flashed.
“Like this,” he said. And without another word or moment of hesitation, he strode right up to where they were standing.
He ignored everyone else standing around, his eyes never leaving hers as he reached out to her, pulled her close, and kissed her passionately.
For a moment, Rose was caught off guard, dizzy with emotion and unsure of how to react. Should she play the more submissive role that this planet seemed to expect of her, playing along but letting the Doctor take the lead? Or should she be more demonstrative, as befitted a wife reuniting with her husband? Which would better convince these people, this society?
She wasn’t quite certain, but the next second, she decided that she didn’t care what the people watching thought. Because she wasn’t about to waste what was, frankly, a pretty brilliant kiss. It’d been two days since she’d last seen him, she’d been held captive, and he’d just come to her rescue and broken up a forced marriage at the last second.
Not to mention that she would never turn down an opportunity to kiss the Doctor.
So she reached up to put her arms around him, holding on tight as though he might disappear, and kissed him back.
She felt him smile even as he maintained the kiss, pulling her closer still, and in his grip, she could feel the worry that he’d experienced in the past days. That he'd been just as anxious about the whole situation as she'd been, their seperation hurting him too.
Then, in a move so fluid it felt, and probably looked, rehearsed, he lifted her off her feet in front of everyone, spun her around and placed her back on the floor on the other side of him. Having neatly planted himself between Rose and her captors.
Rose heard people murmuring as they broke apart, and the Doctor, while keeping one arm firmly around her, turned back to face the startled aliens at the front of the room.
“There’s my proof,” the Doctor said, sounding the slightest bit breathless, but not in the least repentant.
As for Rose, she had to force herself to keep her head in the game, heart pounding wildly as she felt him next to her.
The sheer absurdity of this situation struck her full force, and she had to force herself not to laugh. Judging from the look in the Doctor’s eyes, he was well aware of it too, and for a brief second, she thought he might laugh too. But he kept his composure, though he didn’t let go of her.
Rose could see in the eyes of the aliens that they’d managed to convince most of them.
“She never said anything about being married,” the one who’d been guarding Rose said, sounding almost sullen.
“Would you have listened to her if she had?” the Doctor demanded severely, his face registering his distain at their sexism.
Rose saw them all glance at each other uncomfortably. Gnack was beginning to be on the receiving end of glares from some of the others.
“I thought not. No, from what I can tell, she did everything she could to delay things as much as possible, and made her feelings as clear as she could.”
He smiled down at her.
“She did everything right.”
Given everything else that they’d done and condoned, Rose was a bit surprised that these people were reacting so strongly to her supposed prior marriage. But for some reason, the Doctor’s claim that she was already his wife prompted the reaction that nothing she’d been able to say or do had accomplished.
Everyone looked guilty, and many looked angry at Gnack, who looked a little ashamed of himself.
“I meant no disrespect,” he mumbled, sounding more humble than Rose had ever heard him before.
Rose stifled a snort of derision, and the Doctor raised an eyebrow.
“You took her from me and held her against her will for days,” he informed them. “Consider me disrespected.”
“Of course,” the pseudo-minister said, fixing Gnack with a glare, “this changes things.”
“Yes,” Gnack agreed crossly.
He took a step toward the Doctor and Rose, and the Doctor shifted so that he was more directly between her and Gnack.
“Of course it does. I never meant to attempt to cheat you.”
“Cheat me?” the Doctor inquired coldly.
“How much do you want for her?”
The Doctor actually froze, his arm tightening around her. His face displayed his genuine shock and disgust at the question, and any amusement at the situation melted away in moments. Leaving only the dark, grim, alien authority that was so inherent in him, though he usually kept it hidden beneath chatter and motion.
“She is not for sale.”
“Darn right,” Rose added, unable to keep quiet any longer.
“Name your price,” Gnack persisted, ignoring her, and for a moment, Rose thought the Doctor might strike him, despite this action being utterly out of character.
But instead, he shook his head with a mirthless laugh, stepping forward to confront Gnack. He slipped his hand into hers, though, as though not wanting to risk letting go of her.
“She is not for sale,” he repeated. “Not for any price.”
He looked from one face to the other.
“Are you really so thick? You can’t just buy and sell people, or take them if they strike your fancy. Not women, not men, and definitely not Rose.”
Gnack started to say something, but now almost everyone was glaring at him.
“You stole another man’s wife?” one of the guests demanded furiously.
It was a bit irritating that they seemed more upset about the “other man’s wife” part than the “stealing” part. This planet needed to get their priorities straight.
“You tried to wed a married female without telling us?” another cried. “You would bring dishonor on this whole family!”
Gnack seemed about to speak again, but the Doctor had apparently had enough, and interrupted.
“Okay,” he said, somehow managing to draw every eye in the room with just one word. “This is ridiculous, and I’ve seen quite enough of you to last a lifetime. More than one lifetime, which in my case isn’t as figurative as it sounds” he added, shooting a conspiratorial glance in Rose’s direction before resuming his speech. “You have no right to her until I give my permission. I believe that’s how it works?” he added, directing this question to the minister-equivalent.
“Yes, sir,” he replied. “And please accept our apologies. We couldn’t have known…”
“Save it,” the Doctor cut him off. “I’m really not interested. I most certainly do not give my permission. She’s my wife, and...” he looked over at Rose and pretended to evaluate her for a moment. A smile tugged at his mouth and shone in his eyes. “I think I’ll keep her.”
“Sounds good to me,” Rose replied, and he squeezed her hand.
“So if you don’t mind, we’ll be going now.”
“Of course,” one of the guards said, and Rose’s heart leaped as he gestured to the door. The Doctor seemed to sense her utter impatience to get out of here, and gripped her hand tight.
“Come on, Rose,” he said. “Let’s get out of here.”
“Right behind you,” she answered, and he led the way to the door.
Then he stopped and turned around to face the occupants of the room again.
“Just something for you to think about,” he said grimly. “If a system can allow something like this to happen…if the only way you’re able to find a spouse is to kidnap one and force her to the altar at gunpoint…maybe there’s something wrong with that system.”
Everyone looked at him blankly, and the Doctor sighed.
“Just saying,” he reiterated. “Think about it, okay?”
And then he led the way out the door.
Rose caught her breath in relief and exhileration as no one stopped them, blinking in the sudden sunlight as they stepped outside.
The Doctor caught her eye and grinned cheerfully at her, but he didn’t check his pace, and neither did she. They weren’t taking any chances on anyone changing their mind, and neither of them wanted to stay anywhere near that place or those people.
So they quickly and wordlessly made their way down the unfamiliar street, and it wasn’t until they’d rounded a corner that the Doctor came to a stop and turned to face her.
“Hello,” he said, and she grinned.
“Hey,” she replied. He looked her up and down.
“Shut up,” she half-heartedly glared at him, yanking the skirts up so that they weren’t trailing in the dirt, and wishing she had her own clothes back.
He smiled, but then grew serious and put both hands on her shoulders, looking straight into her eyes.
“Are you sure you’re all right?” he asked anxiously, and she nodded.
The Doctor studied her face, and gently reached up to touch her cheek. Rose winced, unable to help it, as his fingers brushed a tender area of skin, and realized that she must have a bruise there.
“They hurt you.”
“Only a little,” Rose tried to reassure him, “and it was right at the beginning. It’s not that bad, and I’m not hurt anywhere else, I promise.”
He looked into her eyes as though seeking the truth, and nodded after a second.
“I didn’t exactly make it easy for them,” Rose added, and he nodded proudly.
“Didn’t expect you to. But I’m sorry it took me so long.”
“Hey,” Rose shrugged, trying to gather her skirts into a more manageable configuration. It was a hopeless cause. “You made it in time. Though I’ve got to admit, you cut it a little close, there.”
“I came as soon as I could!” he protested, and Rose raised an eyebrow.
“And you’re telling me you didn’t delay even one minute so that you could make your dramatic ‘I object’ entrance at the perfect moment?”
“I am appalled that you would think that of me, Rose Tyler!” he exclaimed, eyes innocently wide.
Rose shook her head, unconvinced, and he couldn’t hold back his smile any longer.
“Maybe I waited a few seconds,” he admitted finally. “But I’ve always wanted to see someone do that!”
“Well, that was certainly one way to make an entrance,” Rose granted.
She couldn't help but hug him tightly, and he hugged her back.
“And speaking of rescues,” she added, pulling back so that she could see his face. He met her gaze, and she knew he knew what she was about to ask. “Your wife?”
“Yeah…” he said, running a hand through his hair nervously, making it stick up in odd directions. “About that…”
“Hey, it got the job done,” she added, grinning, now fully able to grasp the humor of the situation. “It’s just…did I miss something?”
“Well, I knew that even if I located you, I’d have to find some way of getting you out, or stopping the wedding. I couldn’t exactly make a case for kidnapping or you being forced against your will, because the laws on this planet are the most absurd I’ve seen in a long time.”
“Next time,” Rose put in, “we’re going to a matriarchal planet.”
“Your wish is my command. Though if I get kidnapped by some woman who wants to marry me, it's your job to rescue me. But in any case, as I was trying to find you, I made a few acquaintances who were able to educate me on the customs of this planet. And apparently, polygamy is frowned on. Beyond frowned on, actually. It’s not only illegal, but it’s grounds for dishonoring a whole family’s name. Which is apparently a fate worse than death, here.”
“Why polygamy?” Rose couldn’t help but wonder. “I mean, women are basically viewed as property here, and kidnapping is evidently fair game. Doesn’t seem like polygamy should be the worst of their concerns.”
“Logic,” the Doctor said gravely, “is not their strong suit.”
“Tell me about it.”
“And apparently, neither is fashion,” he added, flicking the ruffled, beribboned sleeve of her absurd dress. Rose gently slapped his hand away. “I mean, you look good in almost anything, but I think that color is illegal in some galaxies...”
“Don’t remind me,” Rose groaned, fully conscious that she was standing out in public in the hideous thing. “And if you take a picture,” she added, “you’ll regret it.”
“Hadn’t thought about it. But now that you mention it…”
They began to make their way down the street again as the Doctor continued to talk.
“But anyway, back to rescuing you. Once I figured out where you were, there wasn’t any way to get you out before the actual ceremony. Believe me, I tried. So I had to find a way to stop the ceremony itself, and,” he shrugged, “that was the easiest way I could think of.”
And, she thought, the method with the least risk. If he’d broken into the wedding and tried to just take her, he might have upset the guards or caused them to start shooting. Disrupting the wedding legally was the most peaceful way.
Not to mention, she suspected, the most fun for him.
“Sorry about sort of dropping that on you,” he added.
“Hey, I’m not complaining,” Rose said, almost too quickly, prompting a bit of a smile from him. “Have to admit, it did catch me off guard, hearing you say we were married.”
“You do realize that we’ve been married at least,” he glanced up, as though adding up the sum in his head, “six times in the course of our acquaintance?”
Rose stopped in her tracks, tripping on the skirt as she did.
“You told me none of those counted!” she exclaimed.
“And they didn’t,” he laughed. “Just like this one wouldn’t have.”
Not sure what to think, Rose fell into step beside him again as he kept going.
“Marriage is sort of a fuzzy area sometimes, when it comes to intergalactic travel. Every planet and species has their own customs, and just because something is legal on one planet doesn’t mean it’s legal on another.”
He nodded over his shoulder, indicating the way they’d come.
“Perfect example. This species doesn’t require the consent of the woman, but they consider their marriages just as binding as a human ceremony would be. For him, it felt legal and right, even though we both know it was wrong. But for you, it wasn't real. Happens all the time. Some planets, as we’ve both discovered, can marry a couple without either of their knowledge or consent. Others only consider it legal if the husband literally devours the bride’s father…”
“Oh, come on!” She half-suspected he made some of these examples up.
“It’s true! Every planet is different, so it’s all a matter of perspective.”
She thought for a minute, just enjoying being side by side with him once again, talking like they always did.
“So what makes it real?”
“That, Rose Tyler, has been the subject of much debate over the millennia.”
“But what do you think?” Rose persisted, looking at him.
He glanced at her, saw that she was serious, and actually thought for a moment, hands disappearing into his pockets as though searching for somewhere to be.
“I think…it’s a matter of the mind,” he said slowly. “And the heart.”
His eyes were fixed somewhere ahead of them, as though seeing something invisible to Rose.
“If both want it, and both truly feel that it is real and binding, then as far as I’m concerned, that makes it real. The emotions are what’re most important, more than pieces of paper or rings or ceremonies.”
Rose couldn’t help but catch her breath, not taking her eyes off him. Neither spoke for a bit as his words hung heavy in the air between them.
He finally looked at her, and smiled.
“But pretending we were actually married was about the only way to get you out of there, short of blowing up the place. And while I think we’ve established that I have an affinity for pyrotechnics, I’m somewhat more opposed to the idea of blowing up a building if you happen to be inside.”
“And I appreciate it,” Rose nodded.
Her foot caught in her skirt and she nearly stumbled to the ground. The Doctor caught her, and Rose let out an exclamation of frustration.
“This is ridiculous!” she cried.
The Doctor steadied her on her feet and scrutinized the dress as though it were his newest adversary.
“How much farther to the TARDIS?”
“Good,” Rose sighed, hiking up the skirt and trying to knot it up a little. He helped as best he could. “I was afraid they’d taken me across the planet or something.”
“So was I,” he agreed. “But no, they kept you in town.”
They walked together in silence for a minute.
“So,” the Doctor said finally, and Rose recognized that tone. “About the TARDIS…”
“What about her?” Rose asked, puzzled and just the faintest bit alarmed.
“Leaving this place sounds pretty appealing to both of us, I think, and we can absolutely do that. I completely understand if you’ve seen enough of this planet and these people to last for the rest of your life.”
“Or?” Rose asked, recognizing the look in his eyes and the tone of his voice. She knew him well enough to know that there was most certainly an ‘or’ coming.
“Or…” he looked at her. “We’ve both seen the injustices that this society commits, you even more than me. It isn’t fair, and it isn’t right. If you wanted,” his dark, alien eyes fixed on hers, “we could see if there’s something we can do about that.”
Rose let out a breath.
“You think we can change things?”
“Won’t know till we try. And we’ve pulled off bigger.”
Well, that was certainly true.
“It’s entirely up to you,” he said, and she could tell that he meant it. Whatever she chose, he would be fine with.
But she didn’t even really have to think about it.
“I’ve seen what they can do, Doctor,” she said, “and you’re right. It’s so wrong. What happened to me…that happens a lot, doesn’t it?”
“Then if we can help anyone, even a little, we should. That’s what we do, right?”
“Right,” he agreed.
And as soon as she’d made her desire known, she could see the eagerness and determination in his face too. He’d have left if that was what she wanted, but the Doctor thrived on fighting injustice and helping those in need. This was what he lived for.
“Let’s do it,” she said, eagerness rising up in her as well. Finally being able to do something after days of confinement. She believed in the Doctor, in what they could do together. If he decided to put a stop to what these people were doing, then he would succeed. And she’d help in whatever way she could.
“Brilliant!” he exclaimed, grinning at her.
“Though I’d like to stop at the TARDIS to change first,” Rose added. “I refuse to run about overthrowing oppression in this torture device disguised as a dress.”
“Done,” the Doctor nodded, squeezing her shoulder amiably.
Then something occurred to Rose.
“But…” she glanced at him, unable to hide her apprehension, “There is one thing. Um…I’d rather not get kidnapped again…”
Even now, she found herself sticking close to the Doctor, and despite his casual, cheerful demeanor, she knew that he was on the alert too, not letting her out of his sight.
“Oh, yeah,” the Doctor said, “that’s to be avoided. We’d have to keep pretending we’re married, if that’s okay.”
“No arguments here,” Rose answered honestly.
“And as for avoiding someone taking you again,” he added, stopping abruptly as he reached into his coat pocket. “We can take care of that.”
“Remember what they said about marks?”
“They said I was unmarked. That’s why Gnack took me.”
“That’s the name of the guy who tried to marry me.”
“Sounds like a disease,” the Doctor commented.
“Anyway,” the Doctor continued, still digging around in his pocket, and to Rose’s surprise, he looked a little awkward. “when they say you weren’t marked, they mean that there was no external indication of the fact that you were married. No object marking you as being taken, unavailable.”
His hand emerged from his pocket, clutching something, and Rose looked at him curiously. He still looked a little uncomfortable and uncertain, as he opened his hand, revealing a gold ring.
“Very similar to Earth’s wedding rings, actually,” he said, fiddling with the ring as he spoke. “Except that Earth’s are more symbolic. Here, this is very necessary, and very binding.”
To her surprise, there was actual distaste in his eyes and voice as he looked at the ring.
“It marks you as belonging to someone,” he finished.
Rose let out a breath and took the ring from his fingers, studying it. It was thicker than rings on Earth, but though the metal looked like gold, it wasn’t nearly as heavy.
“So…” she said, “I wear this…”
“And it sends a message to anyone looking that you’re very much taken. That you belong to someone else.” He glanced at her hesitantly. “Me, in this case.”
She looked closer and noticed that there was something engraved on the band. A symbol. The next second, she recognized it as Gallifreyan. Yes, this ring was definitely identifying her as belonging with the Doctor.
“It doesn’t actually mean anything,” he continued quickly, his words almost tripping over each other. “I mean…unless…obviously I'm not...it’s just necessary if we’re going to stay here. I picked it up while I was looking for you…in case we did end up staying…obviously I’m not saying it means what they think it means…”
She found it a bit strange that he was so flustered about the ring, while he’d just proclaimed that they were married in front of a whole group of people. Though she had a feeling that it had something to do with what this ring represented to these people. He was trying to put it nicely, but Rose knew what he wasn’t saying.
To this species, this kind of thing was almost like a brand of ownership. It marked a woman as property of some man, probably whoever’s name was on the band, hence the Gallifreyan that he'd apparently put there. It would keep her from being taken, because as far as anyone seeing it was concerned, she’d already been taken by someone else, thus marking her as exclusively his.
But it was like he said earlier, about how what you thought something represented became reality.
It didn’t matter what these aliens thought that ring represented, though idea of what this represented for other people made her feel sick, and more determined than ever to make a change in this place. She knew the Doctor didn’t mean it that way, and she wasn’t taking it that way.
She wasn’t an object or possession, but as far as her heart was concerned, she belonged to him just the same.
“So, for us,” Rose said slowly, “it is basically serving the same function as a wedding ring.”
“Essentially,” he nodded, watching her expression. She could tell that he wouldn't mind her wearing it if she didn't mind, but he was still waiting for her reaction. Still a little uncertain to how she'd react to the idea of being linked to him like that. He wanted to know what this ring represented to her.
She looked back down at the ring in her hand, rolling it around in her fingers, feeling the slight indentation of the engraving inside. The comforting weight of it in her palm.
The Doctor looked quite serious.
“It’s just an act, Rose. Like at the wedding. It’s only for a little while. And you don’t have to wear it if you don’t want to.”
Rose met his eyes.
“I’ll wear it,” she said seriously. “On one condition.”
Rose felt the beginnings of a blush on her face, but she fought it back as she looked at him. His expression was gentle and concerned and just the slightest bit unsure of himself, his eyes still a little apprehensive as he looked at her, awaiting her response.
She took a deep breath.
“Can I keep it after we leave here?”
The smile that lit up his face was as radiant as the brightest sun.
And only his eyes shone brighter.