Chapter 1 of ?
Warnings: Eventual discussion of sensitive topic of abortion in a later chapter.
Genre: AU, romance
Pairing/Characters: Tenth Doctor/Rose, Donna, Jack, Mickey, Martha, Sarah Jane, the Master/Harold Saxon, Jimmy Stone, and more...
Summary: Part of the Movie!Verse. Rose Tyler is a stage actress. John Smith (Ten) is a bookshop owner. What happens when they start a family before ever giving themselves a chance to fall in love? Odd mashup of Notting Hill and Fools Rush In. Bear with me... it's an experiment, but my betas tell me it works, and I absolutely trust them.
Betas: kelkat9, onabearskinrug and timelord1. Special thanks to whome_2.
One | Two
How had it come to this? Hiding from a bulldog of a paparazzo in the back of a dusty, cluttered book shop? Wearing a Seattle Mariners baseball cap (she never did get the hang of that game) to hide the fact that her roots were in desperate need of a touch up? (The redtops had certainly found that scandalous.)
"Rose Tyler broke! Has blown through her fortune on clothes and spa visits! Can't afford to get her hair done!"
"Former pop princess turned West End ingenue about to be replaced! So depressed, can't leave her flat to have hair done!"
"West End Rose throws tantrum, threatens to quit wildly successful My Fair Lady unless old flame Boy Toy singer Jimmy Stone hired in role of Freddy. Refuses to bleach her hair until producer relents!"
Rose Tyler wearily sank to the floor and slumped against a bookcase, legs stretched out in resignation. The shelves pressed painfully into her back and neck as she contemplated the surreal turn her life had taken.
It had all started when Rose was thirteen. Jackie Tyler had entered a drawing at Henrik's, and won: a trip for two to Disneyland. Six months later, Rose Tyler was standing in a queue in Tomorrowland to sign up for a singing contest. She had always been told she was talented, so she figured, why not? What she didn't know was that the contest had been staged by Disney talent scouts to find a cast for a new television show aimed at tweens: Superstar High, where everyone was pretty, talented, hysterically funny, never awkward, had a wardrobe that would make Paris Hilton salivate, and broke out into song and dance at dramatically appropriate times.
Apparently the talent scouts loved her, because she was cast in the role of Lauren Crumbcakes, wealthy, snobby and affected British exchange student. She went back home with a recording contract in hand, a bubblegum-sweet pop hit climbing both the American and British charts, instructions for her mother to find a manager, and a report-to-the-studio-no-later-than date.
During filming hiatus Rose and her mother would return to London and the Powell Estate. Jackie was adamant that Rose not develop 'airs and graces' and refused to let Rose fund a more expensive flat for the two of them. Rose did stay relatively anonymous and thoroughly grounded, even though her fame was steadily on the rise during those four years.
During the fourth year filming the show, Jackie Tyler met a British expatriate and widower by the name of Pete Tyler in the hallway outside of the soundstage where Rose was filming. Rose and her mother had marveled about the irony that the man shared a striking resemblance to Jackie's deceased husband, not to mention the shared surname. As if destined, Pete and Jackie married within a month. Within the year, Jackie was expecting Rose's half brother, who they named Tony.
After Rose's successful run on the show - Lauren Crumbcakes graduated, returned to London a humbled and changed-for-the-better - she decided to stay on in Los Angeles. She was already living in the Tyler mansion. (Like any good made-in-America love story, Pete was not only loaded, but generous and a truly wonderful stepfather.) However, after working since the age of thirteen, Rose began to feel stifled and bored, simply sitting by the side of the infinity edge swimming pool that overlooked the Malibu beach. She had made friends with the other stars on the show, but most had decided to go to college, or moved on to new projects. Like all of the other teen actors, Rose had been tutored on-set, but she had never considered college, and her course of study was under the auspices of her home country, and she had not completed her A Levels.
Pete, who was in the entertainment industry, suggested that Rose try stage acting. "Rosie, I'm funding a new touring production of My Fair Lady. It's going to be here for about a year, and then hit the main theatres all around the US and Canada. It could be a great career booster."
Rose voiced her concern that she would be hired simply because she was Pete's step-daughter, but he assured her that would not be a problem, as his investment had been funneled through his shadow venture capital firm, Torchwood, LLC.
So audition she did, and she properly screamed when she heard the news she was hired into the chorus. There were four costume changes, no lines, and no direct interaction with the principals on stage, but there was also plenty of experience and she quickly learned the ropes. Within four months, she had been given a small speaking role, one Henry Higgins's maids; though she still had four costume changes and was singing in the chorus. Four months after that, she was the understudy to the lead, playing Eliza on the star's night off once every two weeks and very occasionally if she was ill, which was rare.
The show hit the road one year after she started, just as Pete had promised. The headliner decided she wanted to try her hand at Broadway and Rose was flung into the lead of Eliza Doolittle, debuting in Seattle at the Fifth Avenue Theater. She was given fantastic reviews by the local press. She was getting noticed...and not just by entertainment writers. She was pretty, sweet and innocent, and of course, was swept off of her feet by the first handsome actor to come along and gave her the time of day.
His name was James Stone. His seduction skills were as velvet-smooth as his voice, and Rose was quickly seduced...
Her foolish fling lasted less than two months, and ended when they were in Chicago for a twenty day engagement. Rose was distracted and moody. Trisha Delaney, her dresser and fellow Brit, noticed a fading bruise on Rose's cheek that Rose had attempted to cover up with makeup. She had tried to give Trisha the excuse that she had stumbled into a door the night before. "Yeah, and I'm the Queen Mum! Jimmy did that didn't he? The wanker! You tell him to sod off, love. He's no good!"
Rose didn't report Jimmy, but Trisha did. He was gone within twenty-four hours, and Michael Smith, his understudy, assumed the role of the would-be suitor, most famous for the song, On the Street Where You Live. Mickey and Rose had been good friends since her Los Angeles days. He was kind, fun, and thoroughly safe. He was a piece of home, too, having grown up in a neighborhood very close to her own. They talked about football and their favorite London haunts over shared baskets of chips. They even found out they had common friends. They dated casually, but never took things farther than a bit of snogging. To Rose, he was just...Micks, her best mate, but to Mickey, Rose was his world.
And then something happened she never dreamed would have come her way. She was approached to star in a bold new West End production of My Fair Lady. While the staging would be modern, the book and lyrics were unchanged. Several other stars were hired on as well, including Mickey reprising his role as Freddy. They left the touring show and returned to London.
At the recommendation of show producer, Henry Van Statten, Rose hired a new manager by the name of Harold Saxon. He was a visionary, and a master of promotion. He promised to make her rich and famous, and so far, he had made good on his promises. She was famous alright; her face stared back at her from posters and bus adverts; even her moderately embarrassing old bubblegum pop songs were getting airplay once again. And then there was the new phenomenon: paparazzi.
There was one photographer in particular who had decided that Rose Tyler was his personal project: Toc LaFan. He was crafty, cold as steel and wielded his camera like a weapon. He was everywhere she was. Sometimes Rose felt like she had a homing beacon implanted under her skin. According to her manager, LaFan was crafty enough to stay just inside of the law, and even though his actions scared Rose, any request for a police involvement would most certainly be turned down. No line had been crossed. Yet. But Rose was worried, and she told her manager so, often. It was like the man was two steps ahead of her...was everywhere she turned. What if his motivation wasn't greed? What he if was really and truly obsessed with her? What if-
"Can I help you?" a pleasant, male voice called around the corner of the bookcase, pulling her up and out of her downward spiral of worry.
"'M fine, thanks, just browsin'," she answered warily, pulling the bill of the cap further down to shield her face as she stood up. Turning to directly face the bookcase, Rose pretended to be engrossed in her hunt for a specific title. She pulled a book off of the shelf and hugged it to her chest like a treasure.
"Are you looking for something in particular within the Sexual Anthropology section?"
The young woman blushed and looked down at the title, then at the man for the first time. The lovely Estuary voice belonged to a tall, slender man in his mid to late thirties with soulful brown eyes and really great hair.
"Are you an anthropology student then?" he asked her. "That's a rather obscure, scholarly work."
She looked down and read the title. "Sexual Selection and the Origins of Human Mating Systems. Uh...well...no...I'm not a student. Like I said just browsin'..."
"In the Sexual Anthropology section..." he repeated with a wry smile. "Don't really get too many customers back here."
Rose heard the tinkling of the bell on the door, indicating someone had entered the shop. She whirled around, visibly shaking, looking for someplace to hide.
"Are you sure you're alright, you seem to be upset."
"Sorry, I...someone is following me, and I ducked in here to throw 'im off. Oh no..." she said, slightly panicked, "That's 'im," she said, looking over his brown pinstriped shoulder.
"Quick, get in here." The handsome man opened a narrow door and pushed her inside a storage cupboard, closing it quickly behind.
A shady-looking man ambled through the shop. He had a bulge under his leather jacket, which immediately caught the shopkeep's eye. The clerk boldly approached the man. "Can I help you find something in particular? We just got several new titles-"
"Uh, naw...just looking." The man's shifty eyes scanned beyond the tall man, and he pushed the proprietor aside. "As a matter of fact, I am looking for something...well, someone." The man pasted on a small smile. "My...girlfriend. I'm wondering if you saw her come in?" The man produced a glossy photograph of a beautiful blonde woman.
The shopkeep didn't know that he had ever seen a smile so bright. It was obvious that a professional photographer had taken the photo. It was the sort that an actress or model might use to promote herself.
"This is your girlfriend?" asked the shop keep, incredulous. "Is she a model or an actress?"
"Uh, yeah, something like that. Don't know what she sees in me. I'm a lucky bloke, ain't I?"
Much to the both men's surprise, Rose came out of hiding. "I ain't your girlfriend, LaFan! Now stay away from me, or one way or another, I'm gonna get ya arrested if I have to give myself a black eye an' accuse ya of assault!"
"Good luck with that Rosie. Mind if I snap your picture while your face is still pretty?" The man revealed the bulge under his heavy black leather coat to be an expensive digital camera. The automatic shutter fired repeatedly.
"Only one person calls me Rosie, and you ain't him!" she hissed. Instinctively, Rose reached for the handsome shop keeper's hand.
"Sir, I'm going to have to ask you to leave my shop or I will be calling the police," the owner of the shop demanded as he squeezed the pretty young woman's hand in reassurance.
"New bloke, eh?" The photographer ignored the shop's proprietor and aimed his camera at their clasped hands. "Is he good in the sack?" LeFan asked with a dirty grin. "Inquiring minds want to know."
At that, Rose lunged at the paparazzo's camera, but the brown-suited man pulled her back before she ended up being charged with assault.
"I'll take that as a confirmation of your relationship. What's your name, pretty boy?" he shouted as he backed up, shutter continuing to fire. "Don't bother answering. It's right here on the wall. Hmm. Dr. John Smith. Impressive Rosie. Aiming for the stars, are you?" He snapped another series of photos of a framed newspaper article announcing the opening of the specialty book shop two years prior.
"I...said...leave!" John Smith's voice was low, commanding, and authoritative.
Something about the way he commanded Toc LaFan to get out made Rose Tyler glad to be on this side of his anger, and man immediately knew that it was time to leave. He fled the shop, slamming the door behind him, the bell jingling extra loudly in his wake.
Rose muttered an expletive and stomped her foot petulantly. "I'm so sorry you've been dragged into this. I don't even know your name."
"Uh, it's John. I own this shop." John shoved his hands into his trouser pockets. "What was that all about?" He looked out the front window.
"Paparazzi. I'm getting used to it, unfortunately."
He looked at her like she had just dribbled on her shirt. "What do you mean, you're used to it? You're used to being stalked by scary photographers? Don't only famous people have a problem with those? So that would mean you're famous... Or royalty." He paused. "No, that's not right, you don't sound like a Windsor. You're from London. Southeast side. Oh! I know! Maybe you're one of those European princesses who just travels around...and you're faking your cockney accent! Oh! You're brilliant!
But wait, that's not right either. Think think think. I asked that man if you were an actress or a model... He said... or...or...something..." John rambled as he worked through his thoughts.
Rose grabbed the bill of her cap, and a cascade of long, messy, wavy hair tumbled down onto her shoulders. She was tired of hiding today, tired of putting up the facade. If this man, John, sold the story, so be it. She was already going to have to call Harry to tell him about this latest run-in with LaFan. He'd craft an appropriate reply denying it all.
"Well...?" Rose prompted, stared at the brown-eyed man expectantly waiting for the inevitable You're Rose Tyler! but it never came.
"Well...what?" he asked with a grin, pushing his black-rimmed spectacles up his nose.
"You really don't know who I am, do you?" she asked, slightly amused.
"No. Should I?" He frowned, and then a look of disdain came over his face. "Hold on, did she send you? Because I thought I made it perfectly clear to that other disagreeable man that she sent last month! There simply isn't any profit to split! She is trying to get water out of a turnip, or bleed a stone, or however that saying goes." He angrily pushed his hands through his hair. "The money is gone! It's all gone. She took it all. There is nothing left to-"
"What? I'm not..." She paused, shook her head and calmed her voice. "Listen, whoever this woman is who wants your money, I'm not her, and I don't represent her. You saw that man comin' after me! I was tryin' ta hide," she said angrily, pointing out the door.
"Sorry. I'm a bit...paranoid. My wife...ex-wife...ran off with a Daniel Craig lookalike a year ago, and she is still trying to bleed me dry. My sister says I'm full of blood, anger and revenge."
"Not bitter at all, then?" she smirked, and glanced out the front window. "I can prove I'm not some...bill collector or whatever. Go on, look, right there, out the window!" She pointed at a double decker bus which was parked at the bus stop just outside of the shop, and then cocked her hip.
Submerged in a bounteous bed of flowers was the twelve foot long image of the woman standing in front of John Smith on the side of a bus. She wore a jubilant smile, and nothing else. The interesting parts of her anatomy were covered by strategically placed blooms.
"My Fair Lady..." he read, looking out the window, and then looked back at Rose with a cheeky grin. "I don't remember any nakedness in My Fair Lady. Puts an interesting spin on I Could Have Danced All Night, now doesn't it," he said with a flirtatious grin, and an eyebrow waggle.
The young woman quickly lost her anger. She grinned and tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear. "Not to mention How kind of you to let me come."
John Smith's eyes shot open and his fair, freckled skin positively glowed as he blushed at her naughty joke. Rose giggled, and the handsome man relaxed and joined in.
"Yeah, well those bus adverts weren't my idea. Harry Saxon, he's my manager, Harry said it fit with the modern staging. But I don't get naked up on stage, or anything!" she added in a rush. "The story is the same, just the costumes and sets are modern. It's set in 1965. Has a swinging sixties vibe." Her tongue peeked cheekily from between her teeth. "He's working on a movie deal, too."
"Well I'd say that was false advertising, then, if there's no nakedness," he teased. "I'm Dr. John Smith, owner of this shop."
"Thanks for rescuing me, Doctor."
"Oh, it was nothing, really."
"So, doctor of what?" she asked.
"PhDs in geography and astronomy. I was a professor before this happened." He sloppily motioned his hand, gesturing around the room and smirked. "My ex got all the money and the BMW, and I got the shop and the mortgage."
"So this ex...is shethe she you thought sent me to strong arm money outta ya?"
"Yep. And I wouldn't put it past her to send a beautiful girl like...a beautiful girl to try and charm it out of me, either. You sure you don't moonlight for Renee Fisher?"
Rose held up her hand as a pledge. "I promise. I am not here for any money. I only came in here to hide from that git." She crossed her arms and huffed.
"Well we have a problem then." John clasped his hands behind his back, rocked on his trainer-clad heels and looked sternly at the petite blonde.
"Whastha'?" she asked with a grin.
"You are guilty of loitering, Miss Tyler. I'm afraid you are going to have to buy something if you plan on spending any more time in my shop."
- Feeling...: contemplative