Sally was fit to be tied. All she wanted was a normal day with normal chaos. Instead, James had shown up, decided to go completely barmy, and now, she was caught up in his insane mess. She dialed his number for the eleventh time, grumbling the entire time.
James, I swear to god I'm gonna kill you...
She fully expected the call to go to voicemail just as it had every other time. Instead, as the phone rang, she heard a pop ringtone get louder as it drew near to her. James suddenly rounded the corner, looking utterly annoyed as they made eye contact. His demeanor instantly put her on edge, making her defensive.
Where's he get off gettin' upset at me?
Sally had several questions and it was about time that she got some answers. She marched up to him, her brow furrowed and eyeing him sharply.
"First of all, where have you bloody been? Second, what on earth is goin' on? And third, why do you have a Spice Girls ringtone?"
James did his best to squelch his irritated scowl, but he couldn't hide the annoyance in his voice. "Well first, I've been out. Second, it's complicated but I'm taking care of it. And third, I don't know why. Donna had my phone last and she's still miffed with me over everything. But, seriously who cares? Why have you been ringing me up nonstop?"
Sally narrowed her eyes at him as she crossed her arms. "Well, I wouldn't 'v had to if you'd answer your bleedin' mobile the first time!"
"Sally, please just get on with it!" James grumbled.
Her eyes widened as she exhaled her frustration and focused her attention away from her anger. "Harriet's been looking for you for hours and I had to cover for your sorry bum! Erickson found out 'bout your lil' stunt earlier, and he ran and tattled to her. Now, she wants you in her office. She cornered me in the lift and asked for you. I told her you'd be there in a half hour–that was forty five minutes ago. So, get in there before we both get sacked!"
Harriet Jones had been Director of Medicine for thirty years; and in that time, she had seen countless physicians come and go, some of them not soon enough. And while there were many talented physicians working within St. Timothy's, Harriet could count on one hand the truly exceptional ones. James Arden was one of those exceptions. From the first moment she met him, she had been truly impressed with his character. His brilliance and skill was well reputed, but it wasn't his intelligence that struck her. It was his steadfast desire to help others. He genuinely cared for their welfare and thoroughly went out of his way to make sure his patients received the best from not just him, but from everyone associated with their care. It was a rare quality that immediately captured Harriet's attention, and automatically put him as the frontrunner as her successor.
James had always been in Harriet's good graces, but as he sojourned to her office, he couldn't help but agonize over what was to come. He was well aware that he'd made a colossal mistake in impersonating Erickson; but he'd expected the man to confront him, not run off and tattletale. James stopped in front of Harriet's door and took a steadying breath. He decided he would just come clean with everything and hope that Harriet would cut him some slack, especially in light of the insanity of the circumstances. He gave a brief knock to the door and waited for a response.
From behind the door, he heard, "Come in."
He opened the door and found Harriet stationed behind her mahogany desk, her glasses just below the bridge of her nose. As their eyes met, she gave him a tight smile and motioned for him to take a seat. He moved forwards and finally noticed that Erickson was seated in one of the chairs. James sat down in the empty chair, ignoring the indignant looks Erickson was sending his way.
"It's good of you to join us, James," she mildly reprimanded.
James fidgeted, slightly nervous. "Sorry about that. I had some things to take care of at home." Even though he was going to reveal all to Harriet, James realized that the best approach would be to wait for the appropriate time and not just blurt it out.
Harriet gave a brief nod in acknowledgement. Her brows furrowed together for a fleeting moment before her face became a mask of stoic professionalism.
"James," she began with a sigh, "I'm not quite certain where to begin, so I'll just cut straight to it—do you have any plausible explanation for your behavior today? I'm confident you're aware to what I'm referring."
Here it goes…
"Yes…well, it may not seem plausible to you, but if you just hear me out, I—"
"There is no plausible excuse for your ridiculous behavior!" Erickson interrupted. "You barge into my office, my sanctum of tranquility, and falsely represent yourself as a psychiatric professional. The mind is a fragile thing and—"
"David," Harriet said, attempting to stop his rambling but he was oblivious.
"—you could have done irreparable damage. And then, you—"
"David?" Harriet tried again.
"—break my pen! It was perhaps the most perfect pen I've ever used. And you—"
"David!" Harriet shouted, finally halting the man's absurd rant.
"You're the most asinine man I've ever met," James muttered, rolling his eyes.
Harriet narrowed her eyes at him, though she happened to agree with James. She leaned forward as she reclaimed control of the situation.
"Gentlemen, I'm in charge here; and the only responses I want to hear are the ones to my questions. Now, James—I believe you were saying something?"
"Yes. That man…I knew him."
David scoffed and Harriet furrowed her brow in confusion.
"I don't understand, James. If you knew him, th—"
"I didn't know him…I knew of him," James clarified, cutting her off. "He…Harriet…"
Harriet raised her eyebrows expectantly.
"Rose is alive," James blurted out. "She was stranded on an island with David's patient, Jack. I ran into him—purely by accident, mind you—and I…I lost my head. So, I pretended to be David so I could find out more about him and…well…that's it honestly." He felt oddly liberated after divulging everything.
Harriet just stared at him, her lips slightly parted. Erickson fidgeted slightly, careful to avoid eye contact with both of them.
Harriet faintly shook her head as if to clear her mind, and then said, "James…I, um…I understand that things have been difficult for you these past few years. But I thought since Reinette—"
James mouth dropped open incredulously. "Wait…you think I'm making this up?"
Harriet's expression softened as she continued. "I think that marrying Reinette…well, perhaps this sudden drastic change may be harder to adapt to than you anticipated. And that may account for your…unorthodox behavior."
James' chin jutted further. She thinks I've lost it!
"Harriet, I'm not insane," he said, scooting towards the edge of his seat. "I'm telling you—Rose is alive! I'm not making this up! Ask David. His patient was with her!" James defended.
Erickson's silence caused James to turn and examine the man. He was steadfastly refusing to acknowledge James' pointed looks.
"Tell her, Erickson!" James demanded, completely disbelieving the man's continued silence.
Harriet continued to regard him, pity clearly evident in her eyes. She flicked her eyes over to the man.
He shifted in his seat as he addressed her. "Harriet, you're aware that I am bound by doctor-patient confidentiality to remain silent about anything discussed during our session. All I can divulge is that I found Mr. Harkness completely sound of mind. Other than that, I'm required to remain silent. Besides, I have no interest in excusing James' abhorrent behavior."
"You godforsaken wanker!" James shouted, completely disregarding his surroundings.
"James!" Harriet countered disapprovingly.
"No! This is unbelievable! I'm finally being completely forthcoming about this whole bloody situation and because he's a pretentious idiot, he refuses to admit—"
Erickson shot forward, but remained seated. "You broke my pen!"
"Oh for god's sake!" James hollered and began searching through his jacket pocket. "Here's a bloody pen!" he said, throwing it at his head.
"That's enough!" Harriet boomed, jolting upright from her chair. "James, I—"
Before she could continue, Sally opened the door, knocking as she did so. All three pairs of eyes instantly turned to bore into her. Sally gulped nervously under their scrutiny.
"Um…sorry, I ju-"
James' eyes widened in sudden realization. "Sally! You saw Rose. Tell them she's alive!"
"Uh, James…you really need to take this," she said, holding his mobile up.
He started to protest, but the look on Sally's face caused him to reconsider. He walked towards her, taking the phone, and leaving the room. Sally followed after him. She had her hand on the door knob but turned back suddenly.
"Oh, yeah…almost forgot—Rose's alive. Cheers!" she said and closed the door quickly behind her.
"What do you mean 'jail'?"
Donna closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose, desperately hoping the gesture would release the building pressure in her head.
"I mean jail. As in police. As in iron bars. As in get your bloody backside down there and fix it!"
"What happened? Why is Rose in jail?!"
Donna pulled on her hair till she felt pain. "Because your bloody chav of a second wife and her lush of a sister came in here and started spewing their venom. She kept her cool 'til they made Zoe cry, and then—"
"They made Zo Zo cry?!"
"Yeah, and then—"
"What did they do?"
She gave a prolonged exhale. She was one more interruption away from blowing her top. "They basically told her to shut it and scamper off. So, then Rose—"
"You still haven't said why Rose is in jail!"
"If you'd shut your bloody gob and lemme speak more than two words, then you'd know why Rose is in jail! So SHUT IT!" Donna shrieked into the phone, finally breaking from the stress of everything.
There was a silence on the other end of the line.
"Thanks…so, Zoe ran upstairs crying and Rose grabbed Reinette by the hair and jerked her around like a dog with a chew toy. Then, Reinette tried to fight back but obviously couldn't keep up. Turns out Cassandra called the police. They hauled Rose away and when they went for Reinette, Cassandra freaked out and started swinging. Now, all three of them are in jail, I'm here with two very upset and confused little girls, and you are doin' what, exactly?"
The words had barely left her mouth before James answered.
"I'm getting my Rose back, that's what!"
It wasn't hard for Jack to track down Rose. After all, he had both of their names, so he could look them up. Plus, Rose had mentioned her home more than once to him. He made a couple of phone calls, and quickly confirmed her address. He walked up the steps and rang the doorbell, waiting patiently for an answer. After a few moments, he rang the bell twice. He heard heavy footsteps, and suddenly the door flew open, revealing a fiery redhead with blazing eyes and a mobile clutched tightly in her hand.
Jack turned on his megawatt smile that had always worked wonders. However, it didn't work on the woman before him. She just continued to stare him down, glaring with such intensity that he was certain she could melt fire. Despite that, his smile remained.
"Hey there. I'm here to see Rose. She here?" he said, attempting to look behind the woman.
Her eyes flashed at the mention of Rose's name. She opened her mouth to speak—or yell, more than likely—but a small figure bounded up next to her.
"Who's here?" she asked as she turned to look at him, her long blonde curls bouncing around her as she did. He instantly knew her to be one of Rose's girls, though he wasn't sure which one.
"Hey cutie," he said sweetly, winking at her.
She giggled bashfully. The redhead was not pleased and moved the little girl behind her.
"Listen, I don't know who you are, but—"
"Are ya gonna take Aunt NaNa to jail, too?" the small voice said.
Jack's eyebrows rose questioningly. "Jail?"
The little blonde head bobbed around trying to look at him. "Yeah, Miss Tyler—"
"Sarah!" 'Aunt NaNa' warned, looking down out her. "Sweetheart…you and Zoe go watch a movie in the living room, 'kay?"
Sarah happily ran off without another word. 'Aunt NaNa' turned back to him, the fire in her eyes raging once again.
"Like I said, I don't know who you are and I don't care. So take your flashy smile and pretty face and beat it."
"You think I'm pretty?" he asked, grinning. She growled at him as she slammed the door in his face.
Even though this didn't go the way he hoped for, Jack was undeterred. Thanks to Sarah, he knew where to look. He pulled out his cell, deciding to call in one of his multiple favors. The phone rang twice before a young woman answered and asked where to direct his call.
"DI Yvonne Hartman, please."
Rose sat on the cool bench, her elbows resting on her thighs as she held her head in her hands. She grimaced as the palm of her hand grazed the bruise to her temple. Reinette had managed to get a hit or two before Rose recovered from her initial shock. Fortunately, the police were wise enough to put her in a separate cell from Reinette and Cassandra. However, they were situated side by side, so insults were easily and frequently exchanged. It wasn't long before words weren't enough and they began to reach for each other through the bars. After twenty minutes, they finally stationed a guard directly in front of their cells.
Rose was waiting patiently for James. She'd tried calling him, but he hadn't answered. Despite that, she had every confidence he would show. She knew him, and he wouldn't let her down. A little over three hours later, she heard James' voice. Rose ran her fingers through her hair trying to smooth the tangles. She stood, grimacing at the persistent but now dulling pain in her ankle, and went towards the front of her cell. Reinette also rushed to the front of her cell. But as James rounded the corner, he completely overlooked her, instead making eye contact with Rose and rushing towards her.
"Jamie?" Reinette squawked irritably.
He ignored her, and instead focused his attention to Rose—more specifically, the marks on Rose's face. He ghosted his fingertips over the bruise at her right temple, trailing his fingers down to the cut on her lip. Rose felt an electric shock cascade over her at his touch. His eyes began to darken with rage at her injuries. Seeing that, she grabbed his hand and squeezed gently, attempting to bring him back to the present.
"Hey…'m alright," she said reassuringly. "Promise."
James smiled softly at her and closed his eyes, exhaling slowly.
"Um, hello? Over here?" Cassandra whined.
On hearing the shrill voice, James' eyes flew open and he whirled around, glowering at both her and Reinette. He marched over to their cell, his attention focused on Reinette.
"You yelled at my children? And you did that to Rose?" he growled.
"Look at what she did to me," she shouted and motioned to herself.
James took in her appearance, and he had to hand it to Rose—she'd done a fair amount of damage. Reinette's hair was knotted; there were several tears to her blouse, and a few ring marks to her face. He quickly glanced back to Rose who couldn't help but proudly smirk. His face broke out in a mad grin.
"God I love you, Rose Tyler."
Reinette stomped forward and banged on the cell bars, startling him.
"I'm your wife, nimrod! And you cheat on me with-with…that!"
"'That' is Rose. And she is my wife—not you!" he growled.
Reinette's eyes widened before she snarled. "What?"
He rolled his eyes. "Look, I'll prove it to you," he said, waltzing over to Rose. He reached through the bars and grabbed her head, pulling her to him in a fierce snog. Though startled, Rose quickly became an active participant. Before either of them could fully enjoy the kiss, the guard barked at them to knock it off.
They broke apart quickly. Rose's eyes were blissfully hazy after their brief interaction.
"What did that prove?" Reinette squealed.
James shrugged. "Nothing. I just really wanted to snog her," he said rather nonchalantly, eliciting a chuckle from Rose.
"So you have been stepping out on my sister with this chav!" Cassandra sneered.
"God, you two are thick," Rose grumbled. "Did you not listen when I said 'my' children? I'm their mother. Which means…?" she trailed off, giving them the opportunity to put the pieces together.
Reinette walked over and sunk down onto the cold metal bench. "Oh, my god…"
A smooth voice cut through the momentary silence. "Mind if I join the party?"
All eyes turned toward the sudden voice—even the guard, who was thoroughly engrossed in the peculiar scene playing out before him.
"Jack?" Rose questioned softly.
"Hey gorgeous," he said with a saucy grin and a wink.
He answered the question forming on Rose's lips. "I stopped by to check on you. The redhead guarding the door wouldn't tell me anything, but your little girl asked if I was the police. Before I could ask any more questions, the redhead slammed the door in my face. But I called a friend of mine who's a DI here and…well…here I am."
James' eyes blackened at Jack's arrival and continued to do so as Jack spoke to Rose. "Yes, well, she's fine…so you can leave now."
Jack ignored him. Instead, he looked at each woman and smirked as his eyes finally landed on James.
"Have a thing for blondes, eh Doc?"
"Who is he?" Reinette and Cassandra said in virtual unison.
Rose felt uneasy with the rising tension. There were too many sparks firing near this powder keg. "Jack, you-"
"I thought I told you to back off," James said, his voice low and ominous.
Jack stood his ground. "And I thought I made it clear I was coming for Rose."
"No, you're not," James growled.
"Try and stop me."
At that challenge, James swung his fist, making firm and direct contact with Jack's chiseled jaw. Jack at once retaliated, his own fist cracking against James' cheek. Reinette and Cassandra shrieked, while Rose shouted, pleading for them to stop. In an instant, five officers rushed onto the scene, breaking up the scuffle. Both men continued to antagonize each other as they were dragged away to a cell of their own.
Rose groaned as she sunk to the cell floor. She rested her forehead against her knees, hugging them close to her chest.