Pairings/Characters: Rose/altverse!Benton Jr; altverse!Sarah Jane, Mickey, Jake
Summary: Making it in the new world (with extensive documentary and military backup). ~4300 words.
Notes: Big thanks to arefadedaway for her awesome beta reading, and everyone who encouraged me to follow this daft idea, since I had an extraordinary amount of fun playing in the altverse and writing this in the end.
"Right," Rose said, walking into the room where Mickey and Jake were working and sitting down right in front of them. "I want to live in this world, now."
"Norwegian sun do you good?" Jake asked, grinning.
Mickey swatted him and turned to Rose. "Okay. We have files."
Files turned out to be real, actual files, along with books, DVDs, CDs, and a hilariously inept slideshow. The three of them spent the next few days hunkered down in a room going over the material; Mickey hung a sign on the door saying "Acclimatization Training" (underneath which Jake scribbled "around the world in three days!")
Mickey turned out to be a surprisingly good teacher, mixing up the serious with the lighter side. But sometimes it didn't pan out.
"Um," Rose said, putting up her hand during the winner of the 2006 Blackpool Film Festival (as prestigious as Cannes in our world, Mickey said, prompting Rose to ask when they'd started allowing zombie movies into Cannes for him to know anything about it), "in this world, do they actually…I think I'm going to be ill."
"Hey, Mickey told me your world eats cows," Jake said, turning faintly green. "That's just sick."
"It's a delicacy," Mickey said quickly, "but, um, we'll keep you away from those restaurants. I have trouble eating it too. Anyway, let's move on. Let's get back to politics, I think. You see, one of the themes in this film is women in power – in this universe, Thatcher was narrowly defeated and so Great Britain didn't have a female leader until Harriet Jones, and – hey!"
A paper airplane landed right on top of his head. Rose and Jake both had their very best innocent faces on.
"Well," Rose said, when Mickey marched over to her desk and pointed out that the paper appeared to match up directly with the missing page from her notebook, "this history's interesting enough, but let's have some juicy stuff. Tell me more about Torchwood, and the war, and where we're at. Who'd you work for, who'd you work with, what sorts of aliens have you seen here?"
Mickey laughed. "Rose Tyler, more interested in war and aliens than films. Mark the day, Jake."
Jake ostentatiously scribbled in his planner and read aloud as he wrote: "today…Rose Tyler…became…a real man."
"I've got a paper airplane with your name on it too, mister," Rose threatened as Mickey and Jake laughed.
"Right then," Mickey said, "you'll be wanting to see these files." He pulled out a thick stack that had the Torchwood symbol embossed prominently on the cover. "Torchwood operations throughout history, summarized with handy flowcharts and pictures."
Rose reached for one, but Mickey put his hand out and covered hers first. "Rose," he said seriously, "you know the Doctor's not in these except for when we were with him, yeah? There's no Doctor in this world. Believe me, I looked."
"Yeah, I know," Rose replied, not quite achieving the flippancy she desired. "But this is the Doctor's stuff, you know? And it's what I'm good at now too - 's not like I've got much education to go on here, or anything. I do know mysteries, though, and aliens and reaching people and getting as much information as I can. That's what I'm going to do now, if that's okay."
Mickey smiled, and for a change, Jake didn't say a word.
"Of everything in those files, that's what you find most interesting?" Mickey shook his head.
"United Nations Intelligence Taskforce," Rose recited. "Dedicated to service, protection, and multilateral cooperation. Defeated the Yeti, giant spiders, and dinosaurs. Military structure, strong chain of command, good success rate. Some memorable failures."
"How's that so different from Torchwood?" Jake asked, then shrugged his shoulders at the looks he got in return. "Fair enough."
"We duplicate so much of what UNIT does," Rose said, waving files in the air. "We need to work together. Even if you lot won't help me, as I can tell you won't by your faces. One-woman show, that's me."
Convincing either UNIT or Torchwood of the benefits of this plan was even harder than convincing Mickey and Jake, however. After several weeks, she had to resort to more drastic measures.
"Hello!" Rose said cheerfully at the desk. "I'm here to see your Brigadier, please."
The soldier on duty stared at her. "How'd you get in here, miss?"
"Easy when you've got this," she said, waving a UNIT pass in the air. "And yes, it's fake," she said when the soldier's eyes narrowed, "but I only used it because you lot won't answer my phone calls. I know UNIT and Torchwood haven't got along well in the past, but –"
"Oh, so you're the one who keeps calling us," the soldier said, frowning. "Very well. I could have you arrested for this little stunt, you know, but I'll let you see the Brigadier. While I keep very close watch on you." He patted his sidearm conspicuously.
"Sounds marvellous," Rose replied, flashing her most winning smile. "I'm Rose Tyler, so you can introduce me. And you are?"
"Sergeant Benton. And also, not impressed."
Rose giggled, and the sergeant couldn't help but smile a little bit as he escorted her through the door.
The Brigadier wasn't terribly impressed to see her either.
"You see, Miss Tyler," Brigadier Bambera said, "whenever Torchwood shows up all hell always breaks loose."
"Our files don't seem to show that," Rose said, though as she said it she realized how stupid that was. "Of course, our files could be biased, right?"
Bambera nodded. "We haven't always been successful here, Miss Tyler. My predecessor was damned lucky to avoid being wiped out by those Autons – lost one of his best men in Yates during that mess with the Silurians – and on my watch we only just managed to stop the Black Guardian thanks to Sergeant Benton here's father, I'd say. Still, we did our best. No help from Torchwood, focusing on dragging everything down to catalogue and hoard it. And then being so xenophobic in deciding who got to benefit from their discoveries."
"Torchwood's not the same now," Rose argued. "It was thanks to them that the Cybermen were defeated."
"After relying on us to fight the ground war, and then punching holes in the universe, thus necessitating external forces, such as you, saving them from themselves?" Bambera quirked an eyebrow at Rose, then laughed. "All right, Tyler, it has been a long time. And if they're sending young girls like you over, they must be pretty desperate."
"Actually," Rose said, fiddling with the bottom of her shirt, "they don't quite know I'm here. But I figured if I could get you on my side, I could convince them..."
Bambera laughed, a sharp bark. "You're a right piece of work, Tyler. I admire that. You should join us here at UNIT. Work's not as glamorous, but we could get you some military training. In any case, I think it's about time we had an official liaison with Torchwood. At the very least, we can keep our eye on what you're all up to."
Rose grinned. "I promise you won't regret this, Brigadier," she said.
"I know I won't," Bambera replied. "Benton!"
"Yes, sir!" the sergeant said, snapping to attention.
"Benton, this goes both ways. Tyler here is our Torchwood contact, and you're her UNIT contact, understood? Go get her some paperwork. Don't let her touch anything."
"Ooh," Rose said, looking at the files on the shelves as the sergeant rummaged through a desk for some papers. She picked one up and started to read it.
"Weren't listening to the Brigadier, were we?" he said, and she put the file back guiltily.
"Just looking." She sat down on the edge of the desk and started swinging her legs. "So, we'll be working together!" she said brightly, checking for the soldier's reaction.
"Yes," he replied, putting forms in front of her (and not-too-successfully trying to pretend he wasn't watching her legs sway back and forth). "So we might as well try to get along, even if Torchwood...well, if the Brigadier can put it behind her, then I can too, Miss Tyler."
Rose grinned, and started in on the forms. "Let's get past the formality," she said as she pondered Last Five Residences, With Addresses and Dates. "Call me Rose."
"Okay," Benton replied, "and you can call me John. Don't quite like being called Benton anyway; that's what my dad went by for years and years."
"So, John," she said, "these forms are a bit hard for me to fill out. You see, I'm a bit of a mystery woman. Don't want to give it all away. Is it okay if I make a lot of this up? Oh, don't fuss, I was just kidding."
"UNIT regulations aren't jokes, Mi- Rose," John said, frowning. "And if I'm to be your contact, maybe you want to tell me at least what the mystery is?"
Rose leaned across the table, putting her head right up against John's. He shifted a little in his seat, turning faintly pink.
"You see," she whispered conspiratorially, "I'm from another world."
Despite the inauspicious start, the relationship between Torchwood and UNIT wasn't half bad.
"That was a meeting and a half," Rose said, collapsing against the back of the elevator as John pushed the button for the ground floor.
"Well, you did a great job," John replied, leaning against the side wall. "Though if it wasn't your dad in charge they might have thrown us out on our ears."
Rose blushed. "Well, I could be embarrassed about that, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do. And I really want this collaboration to work. You did a great job too - I can't tell you how grateful I was to not be up there by myself."
"Well, this is a much more interesting assignment than paperwork, I can tell you that," John said. "Plus, um, you're very interesting to get to know. What with coming from an alternate universe, and all, I mean."
Rose stood up straight. "You're very accepting of this whole other world business, you know. Why so easy to convince you?"
John shrugged his shoulders. "Just easygoing, I guess."
"I like it," Rose said, and moved over to squeeze his arm. The elevator door slid open, and she smiled and headed out into the sunlight, with John following right behind.
"I can't get used to these zeppelins," Rose moaned, holding onto her stomach. John patted her arm sympathetically.
"But the ride's so smooth!" Mickey said. "I never get airsick on these. Plus, it's so...futuristic."
"Bloody great flying airships, futuristic?" She rolled her eyes. "Honestly, Mickey. Nah, it's more like that book I borrowed from you once, where it was all...Queen Victoria stuff, but with technology."
"You read one of my steampunk books?" Mickey said, confused. "Huh. Forgot you'd got a bit into that. Makes sense, though. Anyway, I don't think there's any of those books here. I should add that to my files." He put his hands up in front of his face reflexively at the word 'files'; Rose and Jake had taken to launching whatever projectiles were nearby when he started going on about them. John, being new to the group, was still only rolling his eyes.
"Oh!" Rose exclaimed, eyes lighting up. "I know! I'll invent steampunk! We could make…well, a bit of money, it's not like it was very popular. But all sorts of things, Mickey, really! We could invent Harry Potter!"
"Did the last book come out while I was gone?" Mickey asked excitedly. "Did Harry live?"
"…damn it. Okay, um, I'll invent…EastEnders?"
"Is that like WestEnders?" John asked. "Um, not that I watch it, or anything."
"Anyway, that wouldn't be right," Mickey said.
"Not like I'd be changing the future," Rose countered.
"The ethical argument, though -" Mickey started. Jake rolled his eyes and cut him off.
"If you two otherworlders are going to stop arguing about pots and kettles, you might see we've arrived. Come on, John," he said, "if we're going to investigate this all as a team, let's get to it, and you're the only other sane one here."
Rose hurried over to the exit, where John waited and helped her off before following, his hand lingering on her arm for just a moment. Mickey and Jake smirked behind their backs.
"Okay, so the alien we went to investigate turned out to be made of tinfoil, my people think your people are old-fashioned and useless, your people think my people are reckless idiots, and we can hardly ever get any information from one to the other. But other than that, things are good, right?" Rose asked a few weeks later as she sat up to her neck in useless paperwork.
"Fantastic," John said sarcastically, and if he noticed her flinch he didn't say anything about it.
"At least we've been getting to know each other and I'm 'making new friends' like my mum's always on about," Rose said, smiling at him and moving over to perch on the edge of his desk. "We're getting there, right? And you've got the best stories. Did you really punch out an alien in the back of a Land Rover? That's wild."
John coughed. "Well, 'punching out' might be going a bit far, but yeah, it was a hell of a fight. Did you ever get Axons in your universe? I wonder if they're a pan-dimensional threat."
"Could've been; if there's one thing I learned it's that there's way more out there than we can ever know about. Which is something neither of our people seem willing to hear, and it's my best line."
"It's a good line," John said, and he blushed.
"Hope it's worth it," she said, a little shyly, "cos you're cooped up doing paperwork and meetings with me most of the time now instead of being out there, fighting aliens."
"Haven't been any aliens in a while anyway," he said off-handedly, then stopped dead. Rose was staring back at him.
"We're in for it now," she said.
"Jinxed it for sure," John replied.
"You don't sound that upset."
"Neither do you!"
Rose laughed, and grabbed John's hand. "C'mon," she said, "let's go get some lunch. Maybe we'll get lucky and run into some aliens at the takeaway."
"Told you we might get lucky," Rose said. The aliens were large and ugly and the safehouse they'd ducked into might be discovered at any moment, resulting in a quick and grisly death.
"I don't know if I agree with your assessment of chance," John replied.
"Too much thinking at UNIT," Rose said, moving in close to him. It might have been passed off as trying to stay out of sight and safe if she hadn't also wrapped her hands around his back.
"This might not be a good idea. Um. I should at least probably take you out on a real date before, um, before, yes," John said as she kissed his neck. "Um. Rose."
"People don't date where I'm from," Rose said, starting on his buttons. "Very casual. Plus, the whole we-might-be-about-to-die and I-fancy-you-rather-a-lot thing."
"Okay!" John squeaked, face turning red, as she got his trousers undone.
Rose laughed, her face buried in his chest, her hair tickling his skin. "And girls are always on top. But boys are very good about using their hands as needed."
"Yes, ma'am," John said, following her instructions immediately.
"All hail military men," Rose sighed happily.
The reports were glowing: with John's military tactical training and Rose's experience with aliens much like the Slitheen, the alien menace had been dispatched with merely some localized property damage, one broken leg, and an overpowering stench of vinegar and guts lingering around the area.
"Now they'll take us seriously!" Rose said, grinning, as she waved the internal reports in front of John. "As soon as you can get back to work, we're going to have a real official department for Torchwood-UNIT collaboration, a small staff, opening of files, the whole deal."
John smiled at her from his bed, his right leg suspended in a splint. It had been a pretty nasty break, but the doctors said it wouldn't take more than two weeks to heal with some of the new medicines coming out of the labs.
"I'm so sorry you got hurt," Rose said, changing her tone as she surveyed him in the bed. "I really didn't mean for that to happen."
"It's okay, really," John replied. "I'm just glad you were safe. Military training, you know, can't help but protect a civilian at all costs."
"Especially the pretty ones?" Rose asked coyly. "So, when you going to ask me out on a date?"
John sputtered, and Rose laughed. "Never take anything I say seriously," she said, grinning. "And kiss me again, because we'll just have to date here if you're not allowed out of the house for a while."
"Like I told you, my dad was military, UNIT like I am. Retired now. Mum's a journalist. Dad likes to play practical jokes and mum will probably ask you like a million questions. Sorry about that."
They were hurrying up to the front door, having been a little distracted in the car before heading over for dinner.
"John," she said suddenly, stopping dead in her tracks. "Do you think they'll like me? Some people are…some people are really weird about the whole alternate universe thing."
"I'm sure they will," he replied. "I got my common sense somewhere, after all. Do you…do you really care about that?"
"Yes," Rose said simply, blushing a bit. John grinned in return, one that split his face and made her feel a little bit dizzy from the sheer happiness of the smile.
"Jo-ohn!" a woman's voice called from the doorway. "Are you going to bring that lovely girl inside to meet us, or are you going to make her stand around in the cold all night?"
Rose laughed, and leaned over and kissed him firmly on the lips. "Lead on," she said, and they walked up the path and through the door, holding hands.
And Sarah Jane Smith was standing there waiting to greet them.
Usually, staring slack-jawed at your boyfriend's mum the first time you meet her and sputtering "what…how…" is a fairly major social faux pas. And, well, Rose reflected later, it had been this time too.
Rose turned to face a baffled John. "Your mum is Sarah Jane Smith," she hissed. "How is that possible?"
Realization dawned on his face. "Someone you know from the alternate world? She's not…oh god, she's not your mum there, is she? That would be really wrong."
"You've met my mum," Rose reminded him. "Jackie, comes around Torchwood from time to time?"
"I'm not technically supposed to know about that," John countered.
"If you don't mind," Sarah said, clearing her throat, "but John, perhaps you two could take off your coats, and then we can all go sit in the parlour and discuss this? I'm rather a bit confused, as you might imagine."
"And here's the young lady! Come in, we've been waiting to meet you!" John's dad was at the door, practically bouncing with anticipation. "Hey, what's with all the funny faces?"
The boys let Rose and Sarah have some time alone with tea, after dinner.
"I'm sorry for how I reacted," Rose said, holding the china cup tightly between her hands. "It was very rude of me."
"Nonsense," Sarah replied. "It must have been quite a shock."
"Other than my dad, I don't usually see anyone from the other world, you know? Mickey and my mum, me, we're all from the other world so that doesn't count, but, like, sometimes I'll see someone and think, hey, was that my Maths teacher? Or her, isn't that Mrs So-and-So from the butcher's? But no one I know, not really, not Shareen or anyone like that. I was friends with Harriet Jones in my world, actually, but it's not like I can go up to her here."
Sarah started a bit at that part of the story, but recovered smoothly. "And everything else is different?"
"No, but so many things are. You can ask Mickey about that. He's got files," Rose said, smiling.
"And I travelled with your Doctor. Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't think I'd upset you like that. Here, have a tissue to clean up that tea."
"We met once," Rose said hesitantly, "you and me. We didn't get along well at first, because we were both jealous of each other. But I grew to like you very much."
"Was it an exciting life?" Sarah asked, a queer sort of look on her face.
"Yes. You had some amazing adventures with the Doctor, more than I even know. But at the end you...you wished you'd done something more with your life, I think."
Sarah exhaled, with a funny sort of squeak. "I've had a fabulous career, have a loving husband, a wonderful son, and I've helped save the world too, with UNIT. Do you think...is that something good, with my life? Does it compare?"
"More than," Rose said, putting her hand over Sarah's.
Sarah shook her head, smiling. "You understand why it can be so odd for us to meet you, from the other world, yes? But thank you, Rose, you're a very dear girl."
"Great, you'll be showing her baby pictures next, won't you?" The two women looked up and found John standing in the doorway. Sarah laughed, and stood up to kiss his cheek.
"Not tonight, sweetheart," she said, smiling at her son with such pride in her eyes Rose felt her heart fill up. "You two kids get going, no need to hang around with the old folks all night. Go, have some fun."
"It was great seeing you, mum," John said. "I'll be back next week."
"Thank you, Mrs Benton," Rose said. Sarah reached over and hugged her, and Rose hugged her back.
As they walked down the pathway, John's parents stood in the doorway and waved goodbye. John held Rose's hand tightly. They didn't talk again until he'd pulled up in front of the little flat she'd rented.
"Well, I'd say that went pretty well," Rose said, trying for nonchalance and not quite succeeding.
John leaned over and kissed her. "My parents love you. I'd say that's good enough."
She smiled, and got out of the car. "See you at work tomorrow. Goodnight."
He sat and watched until the light in her room went on, and she waved him away through the window.
"Is this going to be a thing with us?" John asked.
"What?" Rose answered, while undoing his belt. "Help me out a little here. That's good. Oh god, yes, that's good."
"You know," John said, voice breaking a little as Rose arched her back and shifted her hips, "other couples have sex in beds, or on couches, you know, generally indoors. Where there's no aliens trying to kill them. Oh. Yes."
"You want to be like other couples?" she asked incredulously, pulling back to look at him properly. "Where's the fun in that?" She punctuated her question with a sharp bump of her hips.
"Cheater," he said, through clenched teeth. Rose threw back her head and laughed, and John came so hard he could barely breathe.
After the aliens had been defeated (Axons, this time, back for a second helping she'd said, laughing in the face of danger), he pulled her aside. She'd been slightly burned, and he examined the marks on her arm carefully. Mickey and Jake stopped by to see how she was, but quickly left them alone at the look on John's face.
"Rose," he said, with what seemed like quite a lot of effort. "Rose. I don't want to be like other couples. I don't want to be boring."
"Okay," she replied, a bit bemused.
"But I want to be with you," he continued, catching her short. "I want the excitement and the adventure and I also want to take you to the cinema and for dinner with my parents and go home with you afterwards. I won't hold you back though, I promise. I won't hold you down."
For several long moments, Rose was silent.
"I," she started, "I...it's hard, John. I don't really know how to let go. I just keep moving."
"I think you're doing better than you give yourself credit for," he replied. "But I'll take what I can get. I just...I just wanted you to know."
Rose smiled. "I care about you more than I can say," she said. "That's all there is to it. And things will keep changing. Things will get better."
"I can live with that," he replied, grinning. "Really, though?"
"Yes, really," she said, rolling her eyes in amusement. She hugged him then, fiercely. Away in the distance Mickey and Jake were enthusiastically giving her the thumbs-up.
Rose Tyler had seen alien worlds, she'd travelled in time and almost destroyed the world and saved it a fair few times. This world had zeppelins and they ate unmentionable animals and the Doctor didn't exist. She threw her head back and looked up at the sun, and laughed.
"Come on," she said, grabbing John's hand. "Let's go get Mickey and Jake and get in some more trouble."
And so they did.