Of Stars and Wolves
Alright, so this is for the Doctor Who Secret Santa over on tumblr. Darklordcthlalhu, this is for you.
I don't own Doctor Who or anything really. Darklordcthlalhu wanted a soulmate AU, a shapeshifter AU, or a kiss under the stars so the idea for this fic goes to them. I just ran with it. I hope they enjoy this.
Shapeshifters always had soulmates. It was a universal fact. Admittedly, said soulmate was not always a shifter. Non-shifters had soulmates, but theirs were nowhere near as vitally important to their overall wellbeing as it was for shifters. Humans were seemingly perfectly happy to settle, even as obsessed as they were with soulmates. For them, it was only a matter of a completed image on their skin as a 'soulmate' for a normal human was not always a romantic mate. A shifter's soulmate always was. There could be no other for them, not in that way.
That, however, was not a problem Rose Tyler ever thought she would have to worry about. Her entire family, from both parents as far back as anyone could remember, had always been shifters. It wasn't an uncommon trait. About a third of the world's population was of some Shapeshifter lineage. Probably more, but who was or wasn't a shifter was not always apparent and it was considered rude to ask.
She was musing over those thoughts as she watched the man she thought might just be her soulmate. Rose had come across him nearly two months ago, but had not managed to gather the courage to approach him. Instead, she used her free time in the afternoon to watch him in the park (when he showed up, he didn't always) and try to understand why else she might be drawn to him if he wasn't her soulmate.
"Moping again?" Mickey said, sitting beside her on the bench Rose had taken possession of in the small park near the university. He called it 'moping' because otherwise he'd have to term it 'stalking', and that could very well end up in a fight.
"I'm not moping," Rose protested. "And aren't you supposed to be meeting Martha?"
"How'd you think I found you?" He pointed to the nearest tree where a Barn Own sat, glaring at Rose.
Rose waved at the owl. "Couldn't use your own nose to find me?"
"And nearly get dragged to the pound again?" Mickey shivered in distaste. To get out of that, he'd had to transform, naked, in the tiny little cell the dog catchers had shoved him into.
"Wouldn't happen if you wore the collar like your Gran said to." Rose said, getting up. "Give me her clothes so she can shift back." She snatched the bag he'd been carrying even as he protested the thought of wearing a collar.
A few moments later, both young women returned to the bench. Martha was finger combing her hair back into a pony tail.
"Next time," she told her boyfriend, "it's your turn to track her down. I can't skip hours at the hospital like I can skip out of class."
"Martha, you didn't need to do that." Rose told her. "It isn't like I was lost or anything. Mickey could have just called my phone." She held up said object. "Fully charged and everything."
Mickey blushed. "I forgot mine at home." He admitted. "And it's not like you would've answered. You've been ignoring your phone for the past two weeks, always around now."
"He has a point," Martha agreed, perching herself on the back of the bench as she spoke. Rose might have been the gymnast, but she was the one who was part bird. Martha's whole family could shift into avian form, including her siblings' mates. Hers was the only owl though, just as Mickey was the only non-avian.
"Yeah, and we're concerned."
"Curious ya mean," Rose corrected him with a role of her eyes.
She adored her friends. She thought they were wonderful for each other. Martha didn't look down on them for coming from a Council Estate or their lack of higher education. She had been jealous of Rose at first, thinking that she was going to be competition for Mickey's attention. Rose had solved that quickly, happily shoving her oldest friend into the other woman's arms with a 'he is house broken; just don't leave out any tennis balls' before she scarpered off to her mother's for the weekend.
It did not mean that she was going to indulge their curiosity. Not when they had taken it upon themselves to try and help her find her soulmate.
"Can you blame us?" Martha questioned her. "It's not your usual style Rose, especially when not even Jack can find out where you disappeared off to and he always knows."
"No, Ianto always knows and just tells him," Rose corrected, almost absently.
There was a thought. Jack was the one shifter she knew personally that had a soulmate who wasn't also a shifter. Jack was a literal alley cat; at least he had been until falling into Ianto's lap. Again, literally as he'd been out roaming when Jackie had scared him off the railing of Rose and Mickey's shared apartment (another reason Martha had thought she needed to be jealous) and Ianto had caught him.
However, Jack was also her boss along with being her friend so that made it a little awkward. He would also be an even worse meddler than Mickey and Martha. Gods, he'd also be the one to mention it to her mother and then Jackie Tyler would be prowling around the park to sniff out the potential soulmate of her only child.
Rose didn't need or want that. She wasn't even sure why she was being so hesitant in approaching the man, other than the fact he was occasionally accompanied by several different women. She also had no desire to be so very wrong about another man ever again, the first one had been more than enough.
"Oh, hey, that's John!" Martha stood, precariously balanced on the back of the bench now, to wave the man over.
"You mean the bloke who managed to blow up the table in your chemistry class?" Mickey asked, moving just enough so that she was balancing more on his shoulders than the bench.
"The one and only," she replied with a grin.
Neither one of them noticed that Rose's faced had paled a little, or that her normal smile had tightened. Then again, it would be her luck that the mystery guy she'd been eyeing for weeks now would be known to her friend.
"Who's that with him?" Mickey asked as the man bounced over to them, leaving his female companion to trail behind him.
"Oi! Spaceman!" The very loud ginger yelled, "wait up you over-eager puppy!"
"But Donna! It's Martha!" John answered cheerily. "Hi Martha! Who are your friends?"
Martha grinned. She had had a very brief crush on John Noble when she had first met him, before realizing that he was absolutely insane and she much preferred someone more down to Earth. His sister Donna was fun and understood just how insane and overwhelming her brother could be.
"This is my boyfriend Mickey Smith and our friend Rose Tyler. Hi Donna, what's he dragged you into this time?"
"He thinks an absolutely enormous wolf has moved into the park. He dragged me along for a second witness." Donna answered, hugging Martha briefly. They had met before, several times as it was Donna's 'job' to sign her brother out of the infirmary. They had taken to exchanging stories about his antics, as Martha had (during her crush phase) allowed John to drag her around London and occasionally the nearby counties on 'adventures'.
"An enormous wolf, huh?" Mickey asked, eyeing his oldest friend. The only reason Rose wouldn't be picked up the dog catchers would be because they'd call out the wild life rescue instead. He really did not want to have to explain to Jackie that they needed to go pick Rose up from whatever sanctuary or woodland animal control dragged her to.
"Yep," John nodded, grin still plastered to his face. "I've only seen it twice so far, so I wonder if it's more nocturnal or a shifter out for a run, but still!"
Martha looked between the two. John, for all he was talking to them, was looking at Rose as if she was the only person there to speak to. Rose was being quiet, but Martha was certain her friend had just the slightest of blushes beginning to cover her cheeks.
"It is lunch hour, so maybe the shifter idea isn't so far off." Martha agreed. So, Rose had been wondering around the park in wolf form, had she? Interesting…as Rose typically didn't transform within city limits unless she was inside the apartment or at The Playground.
"Lunch! Right! We were supposed to get lunch today!" John looked at his sister, just now remembering why Donna had come to drag him out of his privet lab.
"Now you remember," Donna rolled her eyes again. She looked at her watch. "Almost too late now."
"Chips," Rose suggested, speaking for the first time. "There's a chippy nearby, we could go there."
"Great!" John nodded, attention now back on the pretty blonde he'd been seeing for several weeks now. He'd been curious about her ever since he had first seen her, but had never gotten up the courage to actually speak to her.
She had shown up just after the first time he had seen the wolf. He thought it an odd coincidence, but it wasn't as if he could just ask. That would be rude. He knew he was rude, very rude and very not ginger (no, Donna had all the luck there), but he'd only made that mistake once. He wasn't that oblivious to make the same mistake twice. Plus, what if he was wrong? Then it would be doubly rude.
"Great," Rose smiled at him, relaxing a little.
Mickey rolled his eyes this time. "Come on then, Jake's waiting for me to get back to the shop and Martha's got to get back to class."
"Right, and my lunch break's nearly over. Get a move on it Spaceman."
"Going Earth Girl," John retorted, dodging the slap his sister aimed for the back of his head. "Sisters! Really!"
Rose giggled at their antics. "Come on then, I'll show you the way."
Almost as if they'd planned it, the other three watched as they clasped hands. Rose tugged, beginning to lead John towards the chippy she'd told them of.
"Ten pounds says they figure it by the weekend," Mickey said.
Donna snorted. "You're on, twenty on it taking at least my brother a month before he figures it out."
Martha shook her head at them. "Two weeks," she entered her bet. "And I'm not telling Jackie or Jack."
"I'm not telling them!" Mickey protested. "That's Rose's job."
"Think they noticed if we went elsewhere for lunch?" Donna asked them.
"Nope," Mickey shrugged. "Babe, you wanna go to that sushi place you keep mentioning?"
"Sure, coming Donna?"
"Might as well, although I think I'll pass on the sushi. There's a burger place right next to it." Donna headed off, the pair following behind her.
"Um…" John looked sheepishly at his turned out pockets. "I think I left my wallet in my lab." So much for him buying lunch…or being a gentleman and paying for Rose's as well.
Rose had to duck her head to keep from laughing at his face. He looked so cute like that!
"I'll buy, but next time it's your turn." She said, handing over the money to the cashier.
"Ok!" John agreed, smile back on his face. "So…Miss Tyler, what do you do all day besides sit in the park?"
"I work," she commented, grinning.
"What kind of work?"
"Detective work mostly," she admitted, "My friend Jack, he's a PI. I help out him and his partner Ianto doing odd bits."
"Oh, what kind of odd bits?" John took the basket of fish and chips Rose held out for him, following her to a nearby table.
"Sketches, photos, occasionally climbing into dumpsters or over fences," or following scent trails or chasing down a culprit or a myriad of other things that her wolf form was useful for, not that she was going to tell him that the first time they spoke. "Occasionally I play Girl Friday to his James Bond, Ianto's a bit too proper for that role although he does look good in a suit."
John frowned…that sounded…oh! "You wouldn't happen to mean Jack Harkness would you?"
"I do, you know him?" Rose was curious now. First Martha, now Jack?
John nodded. "We were friends growing up; he flirted a lot with both me and Donna. Had Donna going spare for a bit, leaving black cat hair everywhere and occasionally showing up naked."
Rose snorted. "Yea, he still does that. Ianto's got lint rollers hid all over the office, along with spare clothing. First time my Mum met him, she threated to neuter him if he didn't learn some proper manners. She also scared him off mine and Mickey's balcony once, landed him right in Ianto's lap."
"You live with Mickey?" John was a little confused. Martha had introduced the young man as her boyfriend. Why would he be living with Rose?
"Yeah, we've been friends forever and when he was offered an apprenticeship for mechanic at a shop here I came with him to be closer to where I worked at the time. That and he needed a roommate he could trust. Martha lives with us too, now." Rose explained. "Our apartment is closer to the university than the one she was renting or her mum's house."
John nodded, relived although he wasn't altogether certain why. It made sense, after all. That was why he and Donna had shared an apartment when they had first left Chiswick.
"So what do you do then?" Rose said, changing the subject.
"Oh, I'm a doctor!" He replied. "Not the kind of doctor Martha's going to be, but astrophysics and astronomy and regular physics and a little bit of chemistry and biology and some other stuff."
"Wow," Rose wasn't really certain how to respond to that. She didn't even have any A-Levels, never mind a university degree. "I like the stars," she managed to get out, "couldn't see them very well on the estate, but that never stopped me from looking up. Drove Mum mad, sneaking up to the roof."
John's eyes brightened and he began to babble about his own misadventures of climbing roofs and sending his mother into hysterics. Rose took up the unspoken challenge and responded in kind until it was very clear that they had to be making things up.
"Okay, I give!" Rose finally said with a laugh. "I've never set anything on fire, accident or otherwise."
"Occupational hazard with me," John told her, basking in the sound of her laughter and enjoying the fact that he had brought it out. "I'm still banned from the kitchen, every kitchen, on campus. The only reason I'm still allowed into the labs is because I'm good with introductory chemistry classes. Teaching them, at least, and I've got my own lab."
"You think you're so impressive!" Rose said, smiling the tongue touched smile that she was well known for.
"I am so impressive I'll have you know Rose Tyler!" John said, matching her smile with one of his own.
"Course you are," she agreed before giggling.
John would have said something, but at that moment he caught sight of the nearest clock. "Blimy, it's gotten late."
Rose looked at her watch, blanching. "I was supposed to be back at work hours ago." She looked at her phone, seeing that she had several missed calls from pretty much everyone in her small social circle.
"Ah, I could walk you back?" It wasn't as if he had anything pressing at the lab. He was his own boss, aside from when he had classes to teach.
Rose shook her head. As nice as the thought was, it wasn't needed.
"No, Jack's already texted me to have fun." Rose showed him her phone, where Jack had sent a message to that affect. "Besides, they've already closed up for the day. It's date night for them."
Jack would just grill her tomorrow about this. Rose was both dreading it and looking forward to it. If she was wrong, it would be just another heartbreak. If she were right though…it could still end in heart break. Donna might have been his sister, but what of the other women she had seen him with? Surely one of them was his girlfriend?
John nodded. "Well then Miss Tyler, what would you like to do?" He paused. Well, that was presumptuous of him, wasn't it? "I mean, unless you want to leave? Or, uh, you'd rather not…" he was terribly bad at this.
"Let's go Doctor," Rose stood and took his hand, feeling brave at the moment. "I'll walk you back to your lab."
"Ok," as if he was going to say no to spending more time with her!
Once she arrived back at her apartment, Rose locked herself in her room. Throwing herself on the bed, she hugged one of the pillows to her chest. Of all the blokes in the world, she would find the oddest of the bunch.
John had kept up an ongoing commentary on their walk back to his lab. He could babble like no one she had ever met, and it had been fascinating for all that there were times what he said flew over her head. She was pretty certain he had invited her to go stargazing out in the country, something about shooting stars and how the city had terrible views for anything cosmic.
Rose was just as certain that she had said she would join him amidst her amusement at his energy. She hadn't been out of the city in over a year. It would be nice to really have the chance to stretch her legs. The Playground and various parks throughout the city were well and good, but were honestly better suited for the more domesticated Shifters like Mickey and her mother.
That brought up an entirely different set of concerns. How would John feel when he found out? She had to tell him, obviously. There wasn't a thing wrong with being a Shifter or not, and despite what some people would say there was absolutely nothing wrong with being part of a mixed couple.
It wasn't as if it was some kind of secret thing. It was rude to announce it or ask outright, but there was nothing secret about it.
Rose gave a long sigh, getting up to strip so she could shift. Once in wolf form, she curled back up onto the bed. With a little bit of maneuvering, she had fully covered herself with her blanket and created a nest of pillows. Warm and comfortable, she turned her thoughts to the real reason why she was so reluctant.
Fifteen years old, she had been an idiot. He had been older, sure of himself, and able to convince her that they were a perfect match. His mark had never been a match for hers, but even though he was also a Shifter he had sounded so certain that it didn't actually matter. He had made her head spin with dreams of travel and running free in different parts of the world.
As humans, he had been bigger than her. She had been convinced she was in love with him so had until the very end never thought of turning her beast side upon him. The one and only outright beating he had given her (instead of the usual sharp words and occasional slap or kick) had changed that. Jimmy was a canine shifter, but he was nothing more than a yappy mongrel compared to her Red Wolf.
It was after that incident (she hoped he still bore the scars from her claws across his face) that she had made the decision to never enter another committed relationship unless it was her soulmate. Her actual soulmate, the one who bore the mark that matched hers. Rose was never going to let another pretty face and sweet words convince her otherwise.
Now that she had potentially found him, it scared her. Humans didn't have the same draw and ingrained loyalty to their soulmates that Shifters did. John could leave her and it wouldn't harm him in the same way it would her.
Rose had seen it before. Her father died when she was a baby and her mother had never completely gotten over it. She had had boyfriends and lovers, but none that had ever stuck around. Other shifters might not mind a lover, but once they inevitable found their other half then they would be gone. Humans just didn't understand, not really.
Martha's dad, for instance, wasn't a Shifter and had left her mother for a time. Aside from when her frustration reached a breaking point, Martha didn't like to talk about it. Rose always knew when it was bad because those would be the days that the only one Martha wanted to be around was Mickey. There had been a whole week once where she had remained in owl form because she was tired of being in the middle of the fighting. Mickey had carried her around on his shoulder the entire time, curling up in dog form at night to sleep.
Both of a pair being Shifters didn't always mean happiness and stability either. Again, her mother was a case in point. Rose had lost count of the number of times she had heard someone say that except for Rose, Jackie may very well have pined herself to death after Pete died. Jackie (who took the form of a Scottish Terrier) had always told Rose that losing a soulmate was one of the most difficult things one could go thru, but (and this was a very big 'but') it was not the end of all things. Jackie had never been one to simply give up and she had raised Rose to be the same way.
Mickey's parents had been soulmates, but they hadn't remained together. Mickey's gran had taken him in, lambasting both her son and daughter-in-law for being fools. To this day Mickey didn't speak to his father, and his mother had died when he was a teenager. Probably (as Jackie and Mickey's gran were certain) of a broken heart, as uselessly romantic as that was (again, according to the two main adult figures in hers and Mickey's lives).
So with all of that, Rose was apprehensive. She had not given up on finding her soulmate, just as she had never given up her dreams to travel. She was just a little more realistic about it now at nineteen then she had been at fifteen and sixteen.
Even so, she had had a good time today. Holding his hand as they walked, chatting about random topics and simply listening to him babble about whatever caught his fancy. He could talk for England, he could! Still, as long as he did it while holding her hand she was perfectly happy listening to him.
His hand had felt warm in hers. The few times he had dropped her hand in order to use both of his in his excitement over one topic of another her hand had felt cold, almost as if it would never be warm again. She had to imagine how it would feel to have his hands buried in her ruff or scratching her ears.
Rose startled, falling off the bed as it struck her. They had held hands! Skin to skin! Her mark!
Scrambling to her feet, Rose huffed in annoyance as her blanket den tightened around her. Shifting, she managed to escape with an impatient huff.
"Rose?" Martha called thru the door. They had heard her come in, but when she hadn't said anything to them they had decided to leave it alone. With the noise now coming from the blonde's room, however, they were concerned.
"Damn mirror!" Rose cursed. "I'm fine!"
Martha heard her muttering about where her mark was and a giggle escaped her. Hers and Mickey's marks were on their forearms, easily seen. Rose's, on the other hand, was in the middle of her right shoulder blade and took effort to see.
"Do you want some help?"
Mickey turned around just as Rose opened her door. He yelped and covered his eyes.
"Quite acting as if you've never seen me naked before," Rose scolded at him, yanking a giggling Martha into her room.
"Still doesn't mean I want to see it!" Mickey called back. They had learned to control their shifting together and had been closer than some siblings growing up. He waited a beat. "So? Is it any different?"
Martha came out of Rose's room. She had a wide grin on her face.
"Verdict?" Mickey said, lacing his fingers through hers.
"Wolf paw within this spiral of dots," Martha explained.
"Dots are new, any shape or just the spiral?" Mickey was glad his was so obvious, a wrench. He had always been good with his hands, and it had pleased him that his mark described him so well. It had gotten slightly more complicated when Martha's quill had joined it, making it appear as if the quill were drawing the wrench.
His mate was a classy lady. He could easily imagine her dressed to the nines in some Victorian get up, writing with the owl feather quill pen in her neat cursive. Or Ravenclaw robes, which was even easier as they had all dressed up as Hogwarts students for Jack's Halloween party the year before.
Martha shook her head. "No, but then I've never studied astronomy." There was another thump from Rose's room. "Think we'll see her anytime tonight?"
"When her stomach reminds her that she needs to eat, or she wants coffee." Mickey said. "Gonna call Donna?" He'd liked the ginger they'd eaten lunch with. "And does this mean I won the bet?"
"Donna! Donna you need to come see this!"
Donna groaned as she rolled over, yanking a pillow over her head to block out her brother's voice. Maybe if she ignored him, he would give up. Not that that ever worked, but she could hope.
"Donna!" He whined. "This is important!"
"It's always important with you Spaceman," she said, sitting up to glare at him. "What time is it? And why are you naked in my doorway?" There were times she regretted agree to share an apartment with him.
"I'm in a towel," he protested, tightening said towel around his waist. "I was getting out of the shower when I saw it and I –"
She cut him off. "If this is over another stupid spider I am going to hang your skinny arse from the balcony." She told him as she got out of bed.
"One time Donna, that was one time!" He said, frowning. He dodged out of her way as she headed towards the bathroom.
"A cricket then? A mouse? I swear, if you've gone and 'rescued' the lab rats again I'm moving back to Mum's." Donna looked around the bathroom, not seeing anything out of place.
"I did that in secondary, and I was twelve." He defended himself. "No, my mark Donna! Look at my mark!"
"Turn on a light then Spaceman," she blinked in the sudden brightness. The things she did for her brother. "Well, turn around!"
John did, arching his neck as if he could bend it enough to look at his shoulder blade without the aid of a mirror or two. Donna had often teased him for the spiral of dots there with the big empty space in the center. He had always protested that they were stars in the form of a nebula if a person just knew how to look at it.
Now, the empty space was filed with a clawed paw print. It didn't look like it was from a dog and it was much too large to be a cat. Donna frowned.
It struck her, then, that it had to be from a wolf. That was what her brother had been looking for in the park after all, and that park was a safe spot for Shifters to run around in while transformed. John probably hadn't even realized it, but he'd been talking about the blonde girl he had seen almost as often as he'd spoken of the wolf. It was not a stretch, to Donna at least, to think they were one and the same.
"Do you see it?" John was beginning to bounce in place.
"I see it, and yes it really is there." Donna assured him.
John blinked at her. "But I don't…and usually I…"
Donna grinned at him. "No gloves Thursday, ran off without them when you were dragging me to the park."
His eyes kept getting bigger as his brain put the pieces together. Damn it, but this meant that Mickey had won the bet. Donna had been certain her brother (who mostly ignored his mark and steadfastly kept himself covered in layers) would take weeks to notice the change.
"But…but Rose!" It had to be her. She had grabbed his hand and he had grabbed hers. Not just grabbed it, but they had held hands for ages Thursday.
"Unless you've been getting handsy with anyone else, yes Rose." Donna told him.
John went between shaking his head and nodding it. How was he supposed to do this? Just walk up and ask her? Ask to see her mark? Didn't that count as an innuendo in some circles? He knew it was rude, and while he was rude and not ginger (that was Donna) there were some mistakes he only made once…sometimes.
Donna rolled her eyes. "Get dressed Spaceman, we'll go check the park and see if she's there." After coffee…lots and lots of coffee.
Rose shoved Jack off her desk, scowling at him. "Don't look at me like that. I'm not showing you. And you've got cat hair over my sketches."
She quickly turned around as he shifted. "Ianto, come and get your cat before I skin him!"
Ianto sighed, finishing the tea as he ignored the antics of his boyfriend and their co-worker. Ever since Mickey had mentioned Rose's changed mark, Jack had been poking at her to see it. It had been a week now and they were all getting sick of it.
Rose had been steadfastly avoiding the park she'd been frequenting and the man who may or may not even be there. There had been astronomy books littering her desk for that time, along with several pamphlets discussing 'how to explain being a shifter to a non-shifter'. Those alone had Jack curious, but Rose wasn't talking.
"Come on Rosie, I'm just curious!" Jack was trying to get her to settle down. He knew from experience that procrastinating talking to your soulmate was hard on a shifter.
"Curiosity killed the cat Jack, do you really want to risk it?" Rose was getting very irritated at him.
A case, any kind of case, would help. It would at least keep him distracted from bothering her. It might also take her mind off John, but she doubted that.
"And satisfaction brought it back," Jack sing-songed at her. "Besides, even if it did, I have nine lives."
"Five," Ianto set a cup of coffee in front of Jack and Rose's tea in front of her, "and I'm still waiting for the report from the last case."
"That dog missed, so I have to have at least six left." Jack teased back, a long running joke between the three of them.
"If you insist," Ianto replied, going to fix another cup of tea.
They didn't ask why. Ianto almost always knew when they would be getting someone in with a case. Rose took that as her cue to get some fresh supplies out to take notes with. Jack, deciding to leave it for now, returned to his desk to get out his own things.
The bell above the door chimed, alerting them all that they had a guest. Looking up, Rose squeaked before ducking back down.
"John! Aren't you a sight for sore eyes!" Jack got up to greet his longtime friend with a hug. "And where is that spitfire of a sister of yours?"
"Donna's on a date with Lee," John replied, eyes zeroing in on Rose. His face reddened.
Jack looked between them, confused for a moment before it dawned on him. Rose groaned as she recognized the look that crossed his face.
"So John, what brings you by?" Jack was grinning, which should have been his first warning.
"Oh! Yes!" John jumped, turning his wide gaze to Jack. "I've been trying to track a wolf I saw in a park near the campus." He absently took the tea Ianto handed him. "I was hoping you could help me."
"Of course we can! Rose is great at tracking."
Rose was going to kill him. She was certain of that.
John turned back to her. "Really? Um…would you…uh…could you…" he floundered, taking a gulp of tea to give his mouth something to do that wasn't talking.
"I can meet you at the park in an hour, if that works for you?" Rose was glaring at Jack as she spoke, but he was just grinning back at her.
"Actually," John coughed, the tea was hot! "Actually, I was thinking about going later tonight, after dark. I haven't seen it again in the daytime and the first time I saw it was nearly midnight so I thought maybe it was nocturnal and…"
Rose began to smile as he continued to babble. It was cute, especially as he'd put down the tea and was now running his hands thru his hair. It was making it stick up and her hands itched to sooth it back down.
Maybe she wouldn't kill Jack. She did need to speak to John anyway.
"I'll meet you at the entrance of the park, yeah?" She got in when he took a pause for breath. "About seven?"
John nodded his head. "Yeah, yeah, that sounds like an idea Rose Tyler."
Rose shivered. She liked how her name sounded coming from his mouth. "See you then Doctor."
The sky was just beginning to darken when Rose arrived at the entrance to the park. She had her kit with her, just in case. She doubted she would need it, but if working with Jack had taught her anything it was that it was far better to be over prepared than be caught unawares.
John was already waiting for her. She stopped to watch him for a moment, her hearing catching his muttering.
"Hey Doctor, been waiting long?"
John jumped. "Rose! You're here! I mean, obviously, where else would you be? I mean-"
Rose laughed. "I know what you mean Doctor. Shall we?" She motioned towards the open park gate.
John smiled. "I like when you call me Doctor." He rolled the name around in his mind. "I might just start using it. Sounds like the name of an adventurer."
"Is that what we're doing, going on an adventure?" Rose teased him, barely registering that they had clasped hands.
"We're looking for a wolf that may or may not be wild. I'd call that an adventure, wouldn't you?" John asked her. Her hand felt right in his; as if it were the piece he'd been missing his entire life without knowing it.
"I would," she bit her lip. "Doctor, I was-"
A low growling cut her off. Instinctively, Rose tried to push John behind her. That wasn't a friendly growl.
"Rose," John said slowly, "That's not the wolf I've been looking for."
"I know John." Rose shifted her stance, readying herself for whatever she would need to do.
The wolf stalking them from the shadows was a deep black. It wasn't someone she knew, and most of the canines in the area knew each other. It was considered common curtesy for a new shifter to make oneself known to the local community.
A wild wolf wouldn't be hunting them like this one was. Rose knew what a hunting wolf looked like, what the air felt like during a hunt. This was a hunt and they were the prey.
"Maybe we should-" John started to say but Rose cut him off.
"Stay absolutely still," she thrust her kit at him. "Don't make any sudden movements and stay quiet."
"Okay," he whispered, eyes on the other wolf and not on her.
The wolf leapt for them. When it did, Rose sprang into action.
John gaped as his companion, the young woman he was fairly certain was his soulmate, turned into a large reddish-brown wolf. The very same wolf he'd been seeing around the park.
She had done it mid leap, slamming into the other wolf in a tangle of ripped clothing and scrambling paws. All he could do was stare as Rose took on the other wolf in a fight unlike any he'd ever seen. John struggled to remain frozen, wanting to help Rose but not knowing how to.
Teeth snapped, sometimes drawing yelps and growls from the one being bitten. Claws flashed, leaving streaks of blood behind when they connected. Often, they were little more than a tumble of fur.
Finally, Rose emerged victorious. She held the other (much larger, John noted absently) wolf down by the throat. The wolf whimpered, splaying out as much as it could in a display of submission. With a final growl, Rose released him. She cuffed him with a paw, bearing her fangs at him.
He scrambled away from them as fast as his legs could carry him.
Rose gave the impression of snorting in dismissal before approaching John and nudging him. Almost on reflex, he began to stroke her head.
"You know," he finally said, "it's highly unfair that even you have more ginger than I do."
Rose collapsed in laughter, shifting as she did so. "T-t-th-that-that's th-the b-best y-y-ya g-got?" She managed to say through her laughter.
"No, you're a wolf! The wolf! And you're naked!" He spun around.
Rose calmed down. "Yes, unless it's very skin tight clothing doesn't shift with you. My bag."
"My bag, I've got a spare set in it."
"oh…oh! Right." He turned around to hand it to her, blushing as he took her in.
Rose took the chance and turned around, baring her back to him. It was now or never, either their marks matched now or they didn't.
By his intake of breath, they did.
"You're my soulmate…and you're a shifter…"
"That a bad thing?" She tried to keep it light, but then this was her fears made manifest. She didn't know what she would do if he rejected her.
John shook his head, realized she couldn't see him with her back turned, and spoke. "No, no it's not." He paused. "This is so cool! You can turn into a wolf! A really big wolf, and a ginger one, but a wolf!"
She turned, now fully dressed, to face him. He was bouncing in place, hands flexing as if he wanted to touch her.
"Yeah," Rose had no idea what to say.
"Do you want to go stargazing with me?" John burst out.
"What?" Now she was confused.
"Stargazing…that's what I normally do in this park. It's not the best, but there's a clearing where the trees block out most of the light and we can talk or not talk or whatever really-"
Rose gave in and kissed him to shut him up. "Sounds lovely," now she was blushing as red as he was, "lead the way."
"Right," he took her hand. "Ready Rose Tyler?"
"Always," she responded.
And they never stopped.
Happy Holidays Darklordcthlalhu, hope this makes you smile!