Important if True

by mllelaurel [Reviews - 4]

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  • All Ages
  • None
  • General

Author's Notes:
Spoilers: Boom Town, Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways, Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel. None explicit.
Disclaimer: Humbly borrowed from Auntie Beeb; returned in mint condition.

It takes two and a half blocks for Mickey to admit that maybe this Jack bloke isn’t so bad after all. Long as he’s not torturing twenty-first century slang for his personal entertainment, anyway. The constant stream of conversation keeps Mickey at least a little distracted from the way Rose keeps hanging off of the Doctor. And the way the stupid alien keeps encouraging her, Mickey’s ready to take back the grudging respect he’s developed for him, after the whole Slitheen mess.

They’re halfway to the restaurant they were heading for, and Jack is just wrapping up a story involving a lift, two alien dignitaries and three ‘borrowed’ sharpie pens (stop him if you’ve heard this one), when Rose spots a sign on one of the buildings.

“Hey, check this out.”

And Mickey does, cause he’s stupid like that, doing everything she says.

The sign reads ‘Fortunes told, palms read, crystal ball optional’. Something like that; the usual bollocks. Plenty of places like this, up in London, but it’s this one Rose takes an interest in, and with the karma following her and the Doctor around, who knows? Could turn out to be for real. He’s seen weirder things.

Now, if Mickey had his way, they’d be walking right by and on their merry. The possibility of real psychic stuff, combined with this bunch… Best not to go there. Of course, the day Mickey gets his way is the day Rose’s mum gets elected Prime Minister. To Mickey’s surprise, the Doctor’s on his side, this time round, but with Jack wanting to play twenty-first century boy and Rose being Rose, they still get voted down. So in they all go.

The lobby is hung with bead curtains and covered over with lady’s shawls. For atmosphere, he guesses. There’s incense burning somewhere. Rose says it smells like someone’s been smoking pot. Jack mentions spices Mickey’s never heard of. The Doctor claims he can’t smell anything at all. As for Mickey, he can’t tell what it is, but whatever it is makes him remember he’s hungry, all of a sudden.

Five minutes on, the frizzy-haired receptionist seems to wake up from her midday nap and tells them to go in, one at a time. She forgets to ask about money. That, at least, is a small bonus, as Mickey figures he’d be the one stuck with the bill otherwise.

Rose wants to savour the wait, go figure, so Jack gets the first go-ahead.

***

The light inside the small room beyond the beaded curtains is harsh. Hot and glaring, and more appropriate to an interrogation chamber than a fortuneteller’s domain. Bad marketing, Jack thinks, ignoring the alarm bells going off in his head.

The oracle herself has her back to him, her spine ramrod straight. Unconsciously, Jack’s body mimics the stance. He stands at attention, a soldier even now.

A minute goes by. Neither moves.

“Well?”

She doesn’t acknowledge him in movement. If she didn’t speak, Jack would think she were a statue. But she does speak.

“You won’t ever see either of them again.”

That’s it. Just the one phrase and nothing more.

Hey, I’m getting my money’s worth, Jack thinks, but he feels cold now, despite the lights.

***

Mickey is no expert on the subject of Jack Harkness, but he can tell flyboy doesn’t look too good, when he comes out of there. He brushes it off with a joke and a detailed recounting of the session, which he’s clearly just made up on the spot, but Mickey doesn’t miss the way Jack’s eyes linger every time he looks at the Doctor, or the sharp, well-hidden flashes of sorrow glancing across his face.

It’s not hard to figure out that Jack has a bit of a thing for the Doctor. Mickey was there for their little exchange back in the Tardis, after all. He wishes them both the best of luck and many happy years together, so long as it gets the Doctor to stop hovering over Rose. Of course, it’s probably not that simple. Nothing ever is, with these Coronation Street rejects, and Mickey can’t help but feel some genuine sympathy for whatever Jack may be going through. One-sided? Oh yeah, he’s been there all right.

Never mind that Jack looks at Rose in the exact same way. Mickey does his best not to think about it.

Besides, it’s the Doctor’s turn now.

***

There are many things the Doctor would rather be doing, instead of this. Saving the world, drinking tea, knitting a scarf, if it came to that. Maybe even finding out what had ruffled Jack’s feathers so much — it doesn’t exactly take a telepath to see that something’s wrong.

Instead, here he is, in a room that seems much bigger than he would have thought and lit so brightly he almost believes for a moment that he’s been whisked off by the White Guardian again. None of this does much to put him at ease.

Including the fortuneteller, whose dress looks like nothing so much as the formal robes of a Gallifreyan noble, garish and prim all in the same breath.

“Who are you?” he asks, but she lifts a finger to her lips.

“It’s not over,” she says, voice barely above a whisper. “You think they’re done with you, but even you get to be wrong, from time to time.”

In her words, the Doctor swears he can hear the sounds of a world burning.

***

To Mickey’s eyes, the Doctor doesn’t look any different, after his little chat with the psychic. A little bored, maybe. He immediately starts chatting up Jack and Rose, leaving Mickey more on the outside than ever.

It’s not that Mickey has no idea what they’re talking about, but that he wouldn’t know what to say even if he did.

He’s only too glad when Rose gets up, finally psyched enough for her own round.

***

Everything’s grown hazy, all of a sudden. Warm, and damp, and surreal. Rose shakes her head to clear it, but all that does is make her dizzy.

The fortuneteller lady has gone all soft and flickering in the golden glow, wisps of light wrapping around her, making her body seem fluid as water.

Her voice, on the other hand, is as corporeal as they come.

“Look, girly,” the fortuneteller says. “You’re not the Little Red Riding Hood of this story, all right? So get off your arse and figure it out already. There’s only so much I can do for you.”

She sounds like Mum, which is all kinds of wrong, especially since Jackie Tyler would never sprout such vague daftness.

As Rose leaves, she can’t help but think that she’s missing something real important.

***

“Drugs,” Rose says confidently, soon as she walks out. “No other explanation for it. That lady’s been hitting the hay.”

Mickey rolls his eyes. “Will you let go of that? The joke was old the first time you said it.”

Rose glares at him for a split second, then the glare turns into a crooked smile. “I just don’t see why she can’t share the good stuff is all. Stingy. You’d share with me, wouldn’t you, Mickey?”

And sure, the joke is old, but for once Mickey’s on the right side of it. He’ll take what he can get, and when she laughs, oh yeah, now he remembers why he fell in love with her to begin with.

Then, she looks at him. “You sure you want to do this.” There’s no mockery there, but actual concern.

“Yeah, I do,” Mickey says, and to his surprise, he finds that, yeah, he does.

***

It’s a perfectly normal room. Mickey isn’t sure what he expected, but this isn’t it. A few rays of sunlight stream in through a curtain-covered window. The psychic is sitting on an old cloth chair that looks like it’s seen better days.

“Um, good afternoon,” Mickey says, with a sudden urge to tip his hat or something. His gran brought him up polite.

And his gran is who this woman reminds him of, which is funny, cause they look nothing alike. He feels a prickle behind his eyelids. Stupid. Getting all emotional in public.

The woman takes a sip of tea from a chipped mug. “You don’t belong here,” she tells him, as calm and sweet as if she were asking him to join her for a couple of biscuits.

She probably just knows he’s not Welsh. Some psychic.

***

Before they went into the building, Rose made each of them promise to share what the fortuneteller tells them. Funny, how she forgets all about that, by the time they leave. Not a single one of them complains about her oversight.

By unspoken consensus, the incident is never brought up again, and by the time Blon Slitheen pops up on the horizon once more, it seems forgotten altogether, replaced by bigger, more real problems.

And when it’s over — when, once again, Mickey’s the only one left behind — only then does the whole thing lodge in his head and refuse to let go. The psychic is right. He doesn’t belong here. He doesn’t belong with them, and he certainly doesn’t belong with Rose.

It begs the question of where does he belong, but Mickey would be damned if he knows.

The brisk Cardiff wind picks up, cutting across his face, and Mickey flinches but doesn’t look away, facing it head-on.