Under The Stars
A few hours later, the engagement party has moved on to the countryside where everyone is busy setting out their things to enjoy a night out under the stars. Always the gentleman, Jack places his blanket on the ground for Donna to sit on before he opens his new Hawaii 5-0 Monopoly game that his mother sent him in her last care package.
He's still setting up the board when both he and the Doctor reach for the Jack Lord game piece at the same time. "Hey!" protests Jack. "That's mine!"
The Doctor tilts his head wearing an expression of puzzlement as he contemplates, "And why should you be the one who gets to be Steve McGarret?"
"Because it's my game!" responds Jack, staring at the Doctor as if the answer should be obvious.
"And tonight I'm your guest!" declares the Doctor indignantly.
"Yeah, well, my first name is Jack so rightfully, it should go to me!" insists Jack huffily.
"Yeah, well," returns the Doctor, mimicking Jack's petulant tone, "his last name is Lord, I'm a Lord of Time and I have really great hair! So rightfully and truthfully, it should go to me!"
Knowing this ridiculous argument could very well last all night, Donna decides to take action and calmly walks over to kick the game board sending the pieces flying all over the place. "Oh, dear, it looks like nobody can play now."
Utterly appalled at Donna's actions, both men are unable to do more than shout, "Donna!" in unison before they swiftly bend down to retrieve the scattered pieces and put them back in the box. "Women!" mutters the Doctor. "They just don't appreciate the finer things in life."
"Yeah," agrees Jack readily. He scoops up one of the pieces and then proceeds to stalk over to Donna and shove it into her face. "This is a collectible board game, Donna Noble! Only ten thousand of them were released incorrectly displaying Danno with straight blonde hair and this particular game is one of them!"
Donna rolls her eyes and with the box set aside, the Doctor suggests, "Since it seems that we won't be playing Monopoly tonight," he darts a glare at Donna, "would everyone like some tea from my new thermos?"
Rose looks at him with more than a bit of mistrust and asks, "It's not sonic is it?"
The Doctor replies laughingly, "Well, yes, in fact it is sonic but not the kind that you're thinking about." He pulls out a Sonic the Hedgehog thermos from their picnic basket and explains, "Tony gave it to me, he said that it reminds him of the me."
"Oh, yeah," notes Jack as realization instantly hits him. "You mean because of your hair, the way it sticks up."
The Doctor growls, "No, you idiot, it's because of the sonic!" He chances a glance at the women and notices Donna wearing her infamous smirk and Rose biting her lip to keep herself from laughing. He runs his hand through his hair in exasperation causing his hair to stand up in every possible direction while quietly determining, Yeah, it's because of the sonic.
Donna remarks dryly, "First themed board games and now cartoon thermoses, I guess I really don't appreciate the finer things in life. Let me amend that right now." She turns to her best friend and queries hopefully, "Rose, would you like to see my Eastenders viewmaster reels?"
Rose smiles cheekily and responds in mock enthusiasm, "Only if I can show you my Soup Dragon teakettle, it whistles just like a Clanger when the tea's ready!"
The Doctor sends them each a withering glare before stating, "How very droll. You two are just jealous because nobody is thoughtful enough to buy you two any gifts."
Jack throws his arm around the Doctor's shoulder in a show of support and comments haughtily, "That's right!" Then in a whisper meant only for the Doctor to hear, he adds, "Good one, Doc!"
Both men stand there looking entirely too smug while the women simply stare at them in disbelief. Donna is the first to speak and pointedly inquires, "Yeah, because just who exactly do we know who would be thoughtful enough that we could expect gifts from them?"
Each man looks away guiltily before Jack unexpectedly questions, "Well, exactly how much are we talking about spending here? If you happen to recall, I did just treat all of you to dinner."
The Doctor elbows him in the ribs and silently shakes his head in the negative to prevent any further discussion on the topic. Grateful to move on, Rose and the Doctor put their own blanket out while Donna and Jack make themselves comfortable on their blanket.
They're not seated very long before Jack starts shifting all over the place on his blanket and Donna leans away and quizzes, "Oi! What's wrong with you?"
Unfortunately for Jack, he's just discovered that he's on an anthill and several of its inhabitants have just crawled up his leg. When batting at his clothing seems to have no effect, he immediately jumps to his feet and starts stripping off his trousers, quickly followed by the rest of his attire in an effort to get rid of them.
Jack yelps in a panic, "They're in my underwear now!" Help me brush them off!"
The Doctor and Rose each look at Donna and she instantly waves her hands in denial. "Don't look at me! We're not up to that level yet! I'm still gobsmacked that he kissed me at the restaurant!"
Jack begins pulling off his pants as he runs into the bushes to remove the rest of his clothes. Sympathetic to his plight, Donna shakes out their blanket and hands it to him through the bushes.
She takes the chance to peep at Jack as he wraps the blanket around himself and teases, "I didn't know that it was going to be a full moon tonight."
Jack squeaks back, "Donna, no peeking!" In a quieter tone he insists, "Besides it's not what you think, it's cold out."
Rose turns to the Doctor and laughs, "Well, there's another naked story."
The Doctor grunts, "Fantastic. Yet another story about Jack and his beanstalk."
Blushing profusely, Jack comes out wearing nothing but his blanket and sits down next to Donna, who always prepared for any contingency, had the foresight to bring a spare blanket.
Donna starts unpacking the picnic basket and comes across a six pack of Courtney's Concoctions Grade A Rootbeer. She turns to Jack in amazement and demands, "Are you kidding me? You brought rootbeer to an engagement party?"
Jack makes a face and defends, "The root beer is for me Donna. If you had kept looking in the basket then you would have found the wine for the rest of you."
Upon further inspection, she soon draws out the worst and cheapest generic liquor ever known to Pete's World, Shampagne by the Blue Box Wine Company. Its container is a blue cardboard box and written on its side is the company's slogan, 'Experience the full taste of fine wine at only half of the price!'
She shakes her head incredulously and asks, "Seriously, Jack? You know if we have to suffer drinking this then you should as well." Receiving a negative response from Jack, she coaxes, "You're not even going to have one glass of this to toast our best friends? Not even one tiny sip?"
Jack firmly insists, "No way, forget it. You know what happens whenever I take a drink and I refuse to force my attentions on you again. My mother taught me never to take advantage of a lady."
"Or Donna," mutters the Doctor under his breath. Donna retaliates by tossing a nearby rock at his head, "Oi! I heard that pencil neck!"
While the Doctor rubs his aching head, Donna and Jack work together to fill up the glasses and pass them around. Although still a bit miffed at the Doctor's slur on her femininity, she has grown accustomed to his rudeness by now and so it is with the true spirit of friendship that she wonders aloud, "Well, how's the night going so far, Spaceman? Is this another parallel disaster or a bit of fun from your weirdo viewpoint?"
The Doctor takes Donna's gibe in stride and responds by raising his glass in a toast. "Tonight has been absolutely exceptional and what has made it this way, besides the fact that I'm marrying my beautiful Rose, is that the two people who I consider my best friends, in either universe, are here with us tonight."
With a meaningful look at Jack from a long ago conversation, the Doctor confesses, "I know that I have made comparisons to your counterparts but I assure you with all of my heart that the only comparison that I could ever continue to make between you is the fact that you so readily accepted me for all that I am. Rose is the only other person that I know who has been able to accept me for me, not just the alien Timelord, the latest regeneration or the parallel meta-crisis, but just me."
He gazes at the three of them with all of his one heart in his eyes as his grasp tightens on Rose's hand. "And for that, I am more grateful than you know and I always will be for the rest of this life. There is no one else that I would rather be celebrating this night with than the three of you, whether it be in a restaurant or under the stars." He gazes lovingly at Rose when he tells her, "I'm so glad that I met you." Then he turns to Donna and Jack and stresses, "I'm so glad that I met all of you."
Rose's kiss is gentle as she brushes her lips softly against the Doctor's mouth and Donna's smile is warm and sincere. Jack is sniffling softly as he recovers from the heartfelt speech and hiccups, "I think my allergies are acting up."
They all smile at Jack's infamous sensitivity and the Doctor gently inquires, "Jack?"
"Yes, Doc?" he queries with a sniffle.
"Could you please pull your blanket closed?" he requests flatly.
Jack swiftly pulls it tight with a huge blush and offers, "Sorry, Doc."
The Doctor rolls his eyes and sighs, "Come on Jack, let's go sonic the ants off of your clothes so you can get dressed." The Doctor and Jack promptly walk away leaving the women to talk freely.
Donna mentions, "So, Rose, did the Doctor tell you about David McDonald's origins?"
Rose nods and remarks, "You mean that he's from Owthtiwretteb? Yeah, that was quite the surprise! Except for you of course, being head of Alien Artifacts and all. But for me, it was a total surprise."
She pokes her tongue out between her teeth and purrs, "And very intriguing."
"Oh? Donna inquires excitedly, her eyes wide with interest, "How so?"
Rose replies with a cheeky glint in her eyes, "Well, from what I remember learning about Owthtiwretteb culture from when their Ambassadors first visited is that any Owthtiwretteb, male or female, is destined for just one mate for their entire lifespan. That means that they're only with that one person, ever.
Rose's trademark grin is back in place as she intones, "Think about all of that pent up passion and desire just waiting to be unleashed! Can you imagine how lucky Liane might be?"
Donna laughs in reply just as the Doctor returns. "Jack's dressing now. What was that last bit that I overheard? We're not talking about McDonald, are we?"
He crosses his arms across his chest in frustration. "I'm a little tired of hearing everyone sing his praises. What's the big deal about him anyway? So he's an alien with a binary cardiovascular system, astronomical intellect and telepathic."
He gives a snort of derision and opines, "He's so full of himself."
Jack steps out of the bushes fully dressed and quizzes, "Talking about yourself again, Doc?"
The Doctor spins around to face him and exclaims, "What? No! We were talking about…"
Donna hisses in a whisper, "Ixnay on the alien thing. Jack doesn't know yet, remember?"
The Doctor rapidly changes course and states, "We were talking about…someone else. Besides, I only have one heart and I didn't mention anything about really great hair."
Donna whispers snidely, "Nice cover, Dimbo."
The Doctor grimaces as he hates keeping secrets from Jack but he has promised to honor Jake's request that Jack would be kept in the dark about David's origins to give his and Liane's relationship a chance to progress. And seeing that Jack and Liane were best mates, he knew that particular secret wouldn't be kept for long.
He claps his hands to draw everyone's attention to himself and away from the subject of David McDonald. "So back to the original topic that I overheard you two discussing, you shouldn't be envious of anyone on that front, Rose Tyler! Not only was I 100% pure and untainted goods in this body, at least until you had your wicked way with me, but I still retain over nine hundred years of experience so I've still got game."
Jack and Donna both laugh hysterically and the Doctor huffs, "What's so funny?"
Donna scoffs, "You? You've got game?"
The Doctor gripes, "I've got game!"
Jack chuckles, "Yeah, Balderdash!"
Donna quips, "Really, I thought it would've been SORRY!"
The Doctor growls, "No, it's more like Yahtzee! Tell them, Rose!"
Rose smiles sweetly and clarifies, "Actually, it's more like Operation."
Donna stares at her curiously and asks, "How's that then?"
Rose gazes besotted at the Doctor as she replies, "Because I always need a Doctor."
The Doctor grins smugly and kisses Rose while Jack proclaims, "Aw, how sweet," and Donna moans, "Oh, please."
The Doctor pulls back from Rose's kiss with a smile that slowly becomes pensive causing Rose to ask, "What's wrong, love?"
The Doctor frowns severely and answers, "I was just thinking about McDonald."
Rose gasps in surprise, "Again? Doctor, what is your obsession with that man?"
The Doctor shrugs and sadly bemuses, "I don't know, maybe it's like when Jack thought that I was talking about myself because when I was a full Time Lord, I would have been."
He looks mournfully up at the sky and lamnents, "I'll never be able to take you to new worlds or forwards or backwards in time again." He turns his sad gaze onto her. "I can't take you to the stars…I'll never be able to show you the universe again, Rose Tyler."
Rose's gaze is sympathetic as she inquires, "Has this been bothering you long?"
The Doctor laughs mirthlessly, "Only since we were stranded here without a TARDIS."
Rose's heart and soul ache for him, for the suffering that he's endured all of this time in silence. "You never said, Doctor, not once. Why didn't you ever tell me?"
He rubs his neck and watches her with an apologetic expression. "It seems we had enough to work through, I didn't want to burden you with my failings as well."
The others gaze on in sympathy while Rose stares out at the sky for awhile before she extends her arm out and asks, "Doctor, what's the name of that star?"
He points in the direction that Rose had and verifies, "That star?" At Rose's nod, the Doctor answers, "That's Pegasus. The story goes that he was tamed by Bellerophon with a golden bridle. They had the most fantastic adventures together until Bellerophon tried to ride Pegasus into the heavens. The gods refused to have a mere mortal visit their home so they made Bellerophon fall off of his mount. Pegasus continued his journey and remained with the gods."
Rose muses, "Sort of reminds me of you and the TARDIS." When he merely looks back at her in befuddlement, Rose expounds, "Pegasus is like the TARDIS and you're Bellerophon. You both had the most amazing adventures and then Bellerophon was forced to leave him because he was mortal, just like you."
The Doctor chuckles softly and agrees, "Yeah, I guess so."
Rose points to another star and questions, "What's that one?"
The Doctor squints as his gaze travels over to the section of sky that Rose is referring to. "That star is Leo. He was a lion who was so strong and fierce that his roar would make everyone tremble with fear in its wake."
"So a bit like The Oncoming Storm then?" teases Rose.
He smiles grandly and puffs up a bit with pride as he replies, "Maybe just a bit."
Rose selects another star and queries, "And that one?"
"That would be Virgo." He turns towards her and bears a manic grin as he remarks, "Now that one reminds me of you."
At her quizzical glance, he explains, "Astraea, the goddess of justice who the star was named after, was also known as the Maiden or Virgo. She moved from place to place searching for peace." His loving gaze slowly trails across her features like a caress as he informs her, "It reminds me of you crossing the void to find me."
He suddenly gives her a very pointed look along with a knowing smirk as he accuses, "Although, I would expect a woman who has a university degree in both Astronomy and Mythology to know that."
Rose smiles widely and asks, "Don't you see, Doctor? You still take me to the stars and show me the universe; you just do it in your own way now. The travel and adventures were wonderful and I wouldn't trade those experiences for the world, but the only reason that I will ever stay is because of you."
The Doctor smiles softly at her in response and reaches to interlace their fingers together. Rose holds up their linked hands and she declares, "See? Even with one heart and no TARDIS, we still fit."
The Doctor's smile quickly turns into a huge grin and he squeezes her hand as he assents, "Yes, we do. A perfect fit."
The Doctor lowers his head down to Rose's and they are lost in their kiss for quite some time before Jack clears his throat to draw their attention and mentions uncomfortably, "Uh…guys? We're still here."
When he not only doesn't receive a response but the pair actually start leaning backwards as if to lie down, Donna shouts, "Oi, you two, knock it off! Just because you two fit doesn't mean that I need to see proof of it right in front of me!"
Properly chastised, the pair hastily separate and adjust their clothing. The Doctor clears his throat before announcing, "Yes, well, fitting aside and all that," as he rubs his neck and flashes a wide grin at Rose, "I still have a trick or two of my very own up my sleeve."
He whips out his sonic screwdriver and with a quick press of a button and whir of the sonic, he produces an array of fireworks that illuminate the sky. Rose squeals, "Oh, Doctor, I love it! Thank you so much for doing this!" and she throws herself into his arms.
He embraces her tightly before leaning far back enough to waggle his eyebrows and suggest, "You can thank me later when the real fireworks begin."
The couple behind them watches the night sky light up with a rainbow of colors. Jack murmurs, "They're beautiful, huh, Donna?" Then shyly adds, "Of course, not as beautiful as you."
Donna smiles sweetly and then purrs, "How about you showing me your own brand of fireworks?"
Jack pouts, "Sorry, Donna, but I didn't bring any fireworks. Besides, I'm a little surprised that the Doctor's doing this without a permit or any special precautions. They can be a real fire hazard when left to chance."
Donna sighs, "Don't worry, Jack, you seem to be capable of putting out any type of fire."
Jack glows at her praise and beams, "Thanks, Donna!"
Donna's roving eye happens to notice the Doctor and Rose wiggling around again and she yells, "Oi! What did I tell you two about that while I'm here?"
Rose insists, "It's not that, Donna! There's something…," her voice trails off as she shifts around trying to move into a more comfortable position.
The Doctor and Rose start becoming even more restless and Donna questions, "Then why are you two so antsy?"
The Doctor shouts, "That's it exactly, Donna! It's ants!"
When Donna starts to twitch from something on her leg and notices Jack beginning to squirm around again she bellows, "Oh, bloody hell! The ants are back! Come on, everybody, time to leg it!"
They brush away the ants and gather their belongings as fast as they can and Jack sympathizes, "It's too bad that this had to happen, I hope it hasn't ruined your special night."
The Doctor replies giddily, "Are you kidding, Jack Harkness? This only makes it all the more perfect!"
Both Jack and Donna's bewildered gazes travel from the Doctor's manic smile to Rose's trademark grin. The Doctor enthuses, "What kind of adventure would it be without the running? Or as Donna so aptly put it, Come on, everybody, leg it!"
Rushing to leave the ants behind, they grab each others hands, trudging up the hill and catching each other as they fall, each one supporting the other, and extremely grateful that the only thing following them into the night was the echoing sounds of their laughter.
Next Story: The Great Escape!
You are cordially invited to attend the wedding of The Doctor and Rose Tyler, Forever After style! Please note that the wedding will be as much a surprise to the bride and groom as it will be to the guests. Hope to see you there! :)