James stretched himself out on the cold metal bench, one arm pillowing his head while he used his free hand to massage his throbbing cheek.
Well, this could've gone just a tad bit better.
From the adjacent cell, he heard a very pronounced snigger. He raised himself up just enough to look over at Jack.
"What's so funny?" he grumbled irritably.
Jack stood and walked over to the dividing bars, threading his arms through them for support. "Gotta hand it to ya, Doc. You've got a heck of a right hook. Never woulda thought so just by looking at ya."
"Trust me, I took it easy on you," James growled as he settled his head back down against his forearm.
Jack continued to stand there scrutinizing him intently. James could feel Jack's analytical stare boring into him.
"What?" he snapped.
"Just trying to figure out what it is about you that Rose can't seem to get over," Jack said in a meditative tone.
A slow smile crept across James' face at the mention of Rose. James also couldn't help the smug feeling that settled over his entirety at knowing it was obvious Rose wanted him, and only him. Jack could ponder the situation all he liked; it didn't matter if he understood why or not.
"It can't be looks. I mean, you've got that whole 'brainy' thing goin' on and it definitely works for you—"
"You should see me with glasses," James mumbled, flushing as he remembered Rose's reaction every time he'd worn them in the past.
Jack continued, oblivious to James' statement, "—but I'm…well, I'm me. So it can't be that. Maybe… maybe it's the hair. But then again, I have pretty great hair."
"Let's be clear on one thing—my hair is, and always will be, better than yours," James said decidedly.
Jack opened his mouth to begin his retort, but was instantly silenced by a sharp feminine voice.
Both men came to attention at the commanding voice. A blonde woman came charging around the corner, stopping directly in front of Jack's cell. She leaned her body against the cell, her hands clenching the bars, her knuckles white with anger.
Jack had the good sense to appear uncomfortable at the woman's arrival and attitude. James had no idea who she was, but her radiating fury was enough to put him on alert and refrain from asking questions at that moment.
Jack covered his uneasiness with a flashing smile. "Yvonne, I think you get more beauti—"
"Can it!" she snapped. "I pull strings to let you in here, and you have the audacity to get into a fight?! Do you realize my bum is on the line?"
A sly grin began to grow at her words. "And it's such a nice b—"
"Don't try that crap with me!" Yvonne spat, although under the surface she felt a slight tingle at Jack's flirty nature.
James raised his eyebrows at Jack's incredulous behavior. "So you say you're in love with my wife, but then you shamelessly flirt with her?" he questioned, pointing at Yvonne.
Jack turned his sharpened gaze to James, ready to verbally spar, but Yvonne latched onto James' words.
"Wait…the 'friend' you needed to bail out is his wife?" she demanded, her tone bone chillingly fierce. "I did not consent to helping you play home-wrecker, Harkness!"
"It's not like that, Yvonne," Jack insisted. "The Doc here—"
Yvonne held her hand up, halting his words. "Don't care! I'm done. No more favors!"
"Uh, don't I get a phone call?" James asked, finally breaching into the heated exchange.
Yvonne finally turned and acknowledged his presence. "No. No phone calls. No visitors. No bail. No food. No water. No air. No—"
"Well now, that's just ridiculous!" James scoffed at her tirade.
"Again—don't care! You two bloody gits brought this on yourself. You're on your own. ALL of you!" she fumed, and turned to leave.
"No, wait!" James cried out in a panic, causing Yvonne to stop in her tracks, yet not turning to look at him. "Our two little girls are with my sister. Can I please just call and let them know that Rose and I won't be coming home tonight? I don't want them thinking something happened to us…well, other than this."
Yvonne finally turned, eyeing him carefully, weighing the odds of his statement.
"Please?" James implored with desperate eyes.
Yvonne began walking forward again, stopping just in front of their guard.
"Give him a bloody phone call," she ordered before completely vanishing from sight.
"So let me see if I get this. Rose gets arrested—for fighting. So you go down there to bail her out, but end up gettin' arrested yourself…for fighting! Am I missin' something?!" Donna shrieked demandingly into the phone.
"No…That about covers it," James sighed, too spent to verbally spar with her at the moment.
"Well, that's just flippin' wizard!" she growled, suddenly lowering her voice as she remembered that small, inquisitive ears were present in the house with her. "What kind of daft bloody idiot gets into a fight in a bloody police station?! You had one job to do—get Rose. How hard is that? "
"In my defense, I was provoked."
"Of course you were," Donna patronized. "Lord knows you never do anything stupid unless provoked. Someone had to drive you to it. Becau—"
"Listen," James said, cutting her off rather calmly, "normally, I would love nothing more than to keep pointlessly arguing this with you, but I have a very small window of time to talk."
"Think ya can manage?" Donna snorted, the idea of James controlling his gob laughable.
"Think you can cut the snarky comebacks?" James countered, not missing a beat.
"Fair point," she yielded, "So, you were saying?"
"It's slightly complicated, but the long and short of it is we're stuck here—every single one of us."
Donna's mouth hung slightly agape as she processed that unexpected news. "S-…so, what does that mean? What's going to happen?"
"All I know is that we go before a judge tomorrow morning…"
Donna heard muffled voices in the background of the call with James voice becoming distant as he replied, "Just two more minutes."
"Donna, I've gotta go. Tell-…"
The last thing Donna heard was an "Oi!" before the call was unceremoniously ended.
Sally arrived at James' house around 7:30 A.M. Donna had called the night before, relaying the entirety of events, before begging her to watch the girls while she tried to help James and Rose. Sally rang the bell, and took a sip from her ridiculously large hazelnut cappuccino. Within a few seconds, Donna opened the door for her. As Sally stepped into the foyer, she took in Donna's appearance. Her hair was up in a loose ponytail, and her eyes were tired, craving sleep. It was painfully obvious that she was exhausted; even that intrinsic fire within her was slightly dimmed.
"Y'alright?" Sally asked softly, putting a concerned hand on Donna's arm.
She rubbed her forehead, squeezing her eyes shut at the dull pain in her head. "'M fine. I'm just related to a flippin' moron, s'all. Uh, the girls are upstairs sleeping still. There's no school today, so no need to worry 'bout that bit. I'm not sure how long I'll be, but I'll keep you posted."
"Sounds good," Sally said, nodding her head in understanding.
"Sorry to do this to you," Donna apologized for the umpteenth time since last night.
"Donna, seriously—stop apologizing. I want to help," Sally assured her, smiling warmly. "So, go take care of things and I'll watch the girlies."
Donna gave a weak but genuine smile of thanks. Grabbing her keys, Donna gave her a quick hug and left to try and salvage the situation everyone found themselves in.
Henry Saunders was not amused, not in the slightest. He was in one of his rather cantankerous moods, and to add insult to injury, he still was battling the same kidney stone. That blasted bit of calcium refused to take mercy on him, and as a result, he was likewise withholding mercy to those who approached his bench.
He was in the process of opening up his third bottle of cranberry juice, when two familiar faces entered, joined by three unknowns, and caught his attention. He recognized the young doctor from Monday and the gratingly superficial blonde to whom he willingly chained himself. All of them looked worse for wear. The doctor had a bruised cheek and swollen lip. His wife had several scratch marks to her face and her clothes were torn; she looked as if she'd been locked in a closet with a psychotic raccoon. The other dark haired man had a swollen jaw and a cut at his eyebrow. One of the other blondes had a cut lip and a pronounced bruise at her temple; something about her caused the foul-moody judge to smile despite himself. The only one who didn't have a mark on her was a stretched specimen of skin, who he immediately disliked. It was an interesting spectacle. The doctor and the nice looking blonde were grinning like loons at each other, while the other three shot them unseen looks with various intents.
Though it was highly irregular, Saunders called the five of them to him. He waited till the clerk finished stating the essentials of the case.
He took a sip of his juice before he spoke. "So, Dr. Arden… didn't expect to see you again. Or you," he said, motioning to Reinette with his head.
James quirked his lips into a half-smile. "Nice to see you again, your Honor."
He raised an eyebrow at them all. Despite his horrid mood, he decided to humor his curiosity. "So…who would like to go first?"
With that opening, all of them began clamoring over each other except for the 'nice one,' who had started to speak but quickly realized the uselessness of shouting over each other.
"Alright! Alright!" he shouted, regaining control of the situation. "You," he said, pointing to the 'nice one,' "I want to hear from you."
"What would y'like to know, your Honor?" Rose asked with a smile.
A smiled tugged on his lips as he began, "First, who are you exactly?"
"Rose. Rose Arden. Used to be Tyler."
Saunders furrowed his brow at the name. "That name… I know that name. How do I know that name?" He then recalled the looks she and the doctor had been giving each other and he suddenly remembered. "Aren't you supposed to be dead?"
"That was the popular opinion," Rose said with a small grin. "Fortunately, I was only temporarily misplaced."
"Meaning?" Saunders asked gruffly as he had a flare of pain.
"During the storm… after the three of us were knocked over, Jack and I managed to latch onto some broken piece of Billy's boat. We tried to reach 'im, but…," Rose's eyes became glassy at that recollection, but she regained her composure and continued, "Anyway, we drifted and ended up on some island. We tried every day to get back home, but nothin' worked. Then one day, this beacon-like thing we built was seen by some freighter that was off course. They found us and I was able to make my way back."
Saunders was completely silent. For once, he had no biting retort or pointed question. He just sat there trying to process what had been related.
Reinette decided to break the silence. "So you gallivanted with Slick over there? And you wonder why people think you're a chav!" she spat with disdain.
Her harsh words instantly pulled Saunders out of his daze. Before he could reprimand Reinette, Rose spoke up.
"Oi! You wanna go another round? Because I was just barely gettin' started."
That statement was followed by a rather loud snort from the galley. Saunders honed in on its source—a ginger haired woman in the second row. When she realized that he was observing her with a critical and disapproving eye, she quickly covered her mouth and molded her expression into a serious one.
"So Mrs. Arden, y—"
"You can just call me Rose, your Honor. If you'd like," she offered.
James looked between her and the judge, remembering the judge's anger when he corrected him about his title. To his and everyone else's surprise, the judge managed a small smile and continued, forgoing the tirade.
"Rose, you were on this island with this man?" he inquired as he pointed to Jack.
Rose nodded her head slightly. "Yes, your Honor. And despite what certain creatures like to imply," she said, pointedly glaring at Reinette and Cassandra who both scoffed in derision, "he is nothing more than a very dear friend who looked out for me." She turned and smiled softly at Jack, silently sending him her gratitude. Jack returned the gesture.
"Despite human nature, I actually find myself believing you, Rose. Now then, what in the world possessed you to do that?" he asked Rose, gesturing to Reinette's injuries and appearance.
"Well, even though she's a complete cow and pawed her grubby hands on my husband, it was because she shouted at my little girl and made her cry. I don't care who she thinks she is—no one treats my family that way, especially my children," Rose said with fierce protectiveness, the gold in her eyes sparking with intensity.
James couldn't help but grin at the force of nature that was his Rose. He wanted nothing more than to snog the life out of her right then and there, but circumstances at the moment made it all but impossible.
"And we're definitely pressing charges," Cassandra shrilled.
"Oh, pipe down," Saunders demanded. "And don't speak again unless I tell you to. Now," he said, focusing his attention to the two men, "I'm assuming you two had a disagreement over Rose here?"
James shifted uncomfortably as he recalled Jack's attention towards Rose. "I guess you could call it that, your Honor."
"Your Honor, if I may?" Jack asked, finally joining the conversation.
"No," he replied without hesitation. "It really makes no matter what you may want to say. The simple fact is, it boils down to these two," he said pointing to James and Rose. "This whole thing started with you and that's how it's going to end. Now, Dr. Arden, you seem to have an excess of wives; so I'll ask you first. Do you w—"
"I want Rose. Always," James said immediately, not even caring if that might not have been the judge's actual question.
A smile tugged on the corners of Saunders' mouth. "And you, Rose?"
"I want my doctor," Rose said, turning her eyes to meet James, both pairs of eyes brimming with intense love.
Saunders cleared his throat, reigning in the emotions he would vehemently deny he was feeling. "Well, then let's not make this more complicated than it is. James and Reinette Arden—I hereby annul your absurd marriage. Miss…Adams, wasn't it? Miss Adams. I'm dismissing the charges, and you and the other Miss Adams are free to leave. Preferably now."
"What about her?" Cassandra inquired.
"Does this mean you're dismissing her charges as well?" Reinette demanded indignantly.
All sets of eyes were focused intently on him. Saunders merely shrugged his shoulders. "Technically, Rose Arden is dead. Dead women can't be charged with anything."
"Don't be stupid! She's obviously alive!" Reinette shouted angrily at him.
"Ridiculous little man," Cassandra muttered.
His eyes turned cold and he glared at the two women. "One more word from either of you and I will personally escort you to a jail cell. Understand me?"
For some reason, possibly Divine Intervention, both harpies remained silent.
"So, now, I declare Rose Arden legally alive and well. That means you two are still legally married. Now, I don't care if I've forgotten something. I'm done with this insanity. You all go home," Saunders said with a crack of his gavel.
A brilliant smile immediately spread across James' and Rose's face, and she leapt at him, throwing her arms around his neck. They moved in to kiss, but were instantly startled by the sound of the gavel cracking again.
"Take that elsewhere," Saunders grumbled.
Both muttered their apologies and all parties exited the courtroom. Saunders leaned back in his chair and allowed a rare broad smile.
For the first time in twenty-seven years, he finally had an interesting case to tell his wife.
Jack stood in the hallway and took a moment to watch James and Rose. They were completely engrossed in each other, unaware of the outside world. A small smile worked its way onto his face as he saw their interaction. It was impossible to deny that there was something special, something everlasting between them. He turned away and had only taken a couple of steps before he felt a soft hand on his shoulder. He turned to see Rose, her hazel eyes smiling warmly at him. She took a step forward and wrapped her arms around him in a tight embrace, which Jack reciprocated.
"Thank you, Jack," she said, pulling back to look at him. "For everything."
He smiled softly at her. "It was my privilege, Rosie." He looked over to where she'd come from to see James being verbally attacked by the familiar redhead. He looked back at Rose,
"I never had a chance, did I?" he asked, finally realizing that fact for the first time.
Rose shook her head but kept her eyes warm and affectionate. "I was a goner from the day I met 'im. He's…he's it for me…always will be."
"Well, he's a lucky guy," Jack said, his smile attempting to mask some of the sorrow he was feeling.
"Chin up, 'Adam,'" she grinned and playfully bumped his arm. "You'll find your 'Eve'… promise."
Jack chuckled, and Rose gave a small, chaste kiss to his cheek. He watched as she rejoined her family and walked away from him.
Turning around, he was instantly met with the sight of Yvonne. And she was actually smiling at him. Jack quirked an eyebrow at her unexpected appearance.
"Yvonne, what are you doing here? You're not gonna shoot me are you?"
She chuckled at the half-joke. "Never going to let that one go are you?"
"It's pretty unforgettable," he said, grinning at her.
"Well, you can relax. I'm off duty," she said, smiling just a tad wider than before. She took in his body language. "You look like someone just stole your puppy."
Jack's smile faltered slightly and he shrugged his shoulders. "Not exactly. I just said goodbye to a good friend."
Yvonne nodded, taking in his answer. "C'mon, Harkness. What do you say to us getting a drink? You know…as friends."
Jack studied her for a moment before his grin returned. He extended his arm for her. "I say lead the way…friend."
Yvonne smiled broadly at him and laced her arm through the offered opening. With a quick exchange in smiles, the two of them made their way through the crowd.
Donna opened the door with James and Rose right behind her. Without a word, Donna trudged up the stairs to her waiting bed. James and Rose remained in the foyer, their hands intertwined. He took a few steps forward, but quickly realized Rose was remaining fixed in place. He turned to look at her, his eyes questioning.
He didn't even get to start his question before Rose spoke. "I, uh…I haven't…I haven't told Sarah and Zo Zo that…that I'm their mum," she fumbled nervously.
His eyes softened as he witnessed her anxiety. He lifted up his free hand and cupped her cheek, stroking it gently. "I know. But no time like the present, yeah?"
Tears pricked the back of her eyes, and she nodded. James pressed a small kiss to her lips, and the two of them walked towards the sound of their little girls. They went into the living room and saw Sally sitting cross-legged on the floor allowing the girls to use her hair and face as their personal canvas. All three pairs of eyes turned to look at James and Rose.
Zoe and Sarah's eyes widened in delight. Abandoning Sally, they ran and hurled themselves at them. James lifted Zoe up into his arms, hugging her to him tightly. Rose lowered herself to Sarah's level and allowed the little girl to squeeze her small arms around her. Sally stood and walked over to them.
"Have a nice time?" Sally teased.
"Oh a blast," James answered sarcastically, causing her to chuckle. "You have a little something there," he said with a wide grin, circling her face with his finger.
"That bad, huh?"
"You look like a bad clown," he chortled.
"Oi!" she huffed in mock offense, walking to the loo to wash her face. When she was finished, she made her goodbyes and promptly left.
Zoe and Sarah had pulled Rose onto the floor eagerly showing her their drawings. Normally, Rose would be listening with rapt attention; but the task at hand was so daunting, she found it hard to think of anything else. She suddenly felt James' hand intertwine with hers, squeezing softly. She looked up and met his warm dark eyes, and felt his added courage.
"Are you our mummy?" Zoe said, her words instantly pulling Rose out of her hazy thoughts.
"What?" Rose asked, her voice barely above a whisper and racked with emotion.
Zoe crawled over to the sofa and pulled out a book from underneath it. She crawled back over to them and Rose recognized the book. It was the book she'd stolen back from James all those years ago.
"You girls were snooping in my office," James said, though there was no trace of chastisement in his voice.
"No, we were exploring…and then this one fell down and we found this…it has our names on it," Zoe said, opening the book and pulling out a photo.
Rose reached out a shaky hand and took the picture from her. Rose remembered it immediately. It was the first photo James had taken when they brought the girls home. She was curled up on their bed, cradling the two infants close to her chest. In that instant, her emotions broke free and tears streamed steadily down her cheeks. Rose looked up to see Zoe and Sarah staring at her expectantly.
Rose nodded her head in affirmation. "Yeah…yeah, I am," she said through her tears.
Their eyes lit up with excitement and wonder. "Really?" they asked in hopeful unison.
"'S that okay?' Rose asked through her tears.
The girls answered her by lunging at her, wrapping up in the tightest embrace their little arms could muster. Her eyes sought James, finding his to be shining with barely restrained tears. She gave him a wet smile as her girls continued to hold onto her.
A few tears broke through as he returned her smile. "It's brilliant."
Hours later, after the girls had finally gone to bed, James and Rose were curled up on the couch in the library. The fireplace had been lit and the flames cast a warm glow throughout the darkened room. They simply laid there in quiet contentment, relishing the fact that they were finally able to be with each other freely. Rose was curled into him, and his arms were wrapped lovingly around her. For the first time in three years, he was whole. He gazed down at her, drinking in her image. Realizing that something was lacking, he reached into his trouser pocket.
"I think you're missing something," he said softly.
She rolled over onto her back to face him properly, furrowing her brow in confusion. He opened his hand, revealing two gold bands. Rose looked back up to see that brilliant smile that she adored. She picked up his band, silently taking his hand and placing it on his waiting finger. He then took her band and did likewise, before joining their hands.
"How long are you going to stay with me?"
She looked up at him, her eyes full of limitless love and devotion, so much that he almost found it hard to breathe.
He leaned down, ghosting his lips over hers fleetingly before finally kissing her properly, conveying in no uncertain terms the extent of his passion and unwavering love for her.
In that moment, one thing was abundantly clear.
Rose was finally home.
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