Characters/Pairing: Ten/Rose with LOTS of others
Summary: Rose Tyler, a writer for Smash Hits magazine, gets the opportunity of her career when she's chosen to go on tour with the new teen sensation The Vortex Boys. What happens when appearances aren't really that deceiving after all?
Author's Notes: My first entry for trope_bingo. This will fill the "au:band" square. If you're at all curious about my card, you can click here! Not sure how long it's going to be, but there is a deadline so I'm going to work through it as quick as I can! MANY MANY MANY thanks to timelord1, kelkat9, who_in_whoville, callistawolf, and kahki for looking this chapter over and all of the ladies over in bad_wolf_rising who helped me plot! This is going to be a fun one, so I hope you enjoy it!
"Notes for The Real Vortex Boys..."
Well, Sarah Jane, I've got my work cut out for me. The Vortex Boys are the typical manufactured, artificial boy band based around a vaguely psychological formula for optimum financial rewards. Their manager, Harold Saxon, has done the same with other groups and is considered something of a mogul. The most popular ones seem to be Jack Harkness, the Heartthrob, and John Smith, The Leader. They have the most solos and are always in the forefront of the dancing. Both are marginally talented, I would even say that Jack's dancing is above average. He's a charmer, obviously coached in the ways of being chivalrous and old-fashioned. He kissed my hand and pulled out my chair, was highly complimentary, and even threw in a few legitimate French phrases to try and impress me.
John didn't say much, but he kept the group together during rehearsal and picked up quickly on new material. His voice is surprisingly nice, and sadly I saw first-hand that none of them lip sync. He seems to be the most musically talented, knowing instantly who was off-key and being able to give them the correct pitch. I caught him staring at me a few times, maybe he doesn't like outsiders coming into their little Boy Band universe. Whatever, I'll have to give you more on him when I have it.
Adam Mitchell seems to fit the Bad Boy role nicely, so nicely that he gives off the vibe that he's trying too hard. He's a bit rude and far too flirty. He's conceited and obviously considers himself God's gift to women. I may or may not have smelled vodka on his breath. He wears a black leather jacket that seems like it belongs to his older, cooler brother, his shirt is always open (if he's wearing one at all) because everyone needs to see his rippling abs and he wears sunglasses all the time. Even indoors. Even at night. Even indoors at night. Not exactly a winner, this one.
Mickey Smith is the comic relief, The Funny One. He cracks jokes and is goofy and doesn't seem to take the band very seriously, hardly surprising given the material.
Rory Williams is obviously The Shy One. He was quiet when introduced, didn't say much in rehearsal and even when he tried to, Superiority-Complex-Adam hurled not-heavily-veiled insults in his direction and Rory didn't say much after that. I do wonder if he's a bit slow, maybe has a learning disability of some kind. I'll keep my eye out.
Day one leaves me unimpressed. This is me hoping day two is better.
Rose clicked "send" and smiled a bit to herself, counting slowly to ten under her breath...
She picked up her ringing mobile just as she hit "eight."
"Sarah Jane!" she said brightly. "Did you get my email?"
"Rose," her editor huffed. "What exactly are you trying to pull here?"
"Well, you said you wanted to see the real Vortex Boys! I was just giving you my first impressions..."
"It sounds to me like you're actively searching out any negative traits that you can find..." Sarah Jane trailed off for a moment before groaning. "Rose, you aren't trying to write an expose, are you?"
Rose's heart began to race in panic. How had she managed to be so transparent? "Sarah Jane..."
"No, Rose, listen to me..." she began sternly. "This is not the place to achieve your agenda. Our readers do not want to read that Adam is an alcoholic or that Jack is a womanizer or that Rory has a learning disability. They want to know what they're like off-camera, how they treat people, what they eat, and above all, that their little fantasy bubble of these nice guys can't be popped."
"Well, what if they are all morons?" Rose protested. "Then what am I supposed to write?
"They won't be morons, Rose, not around a member of the press. If they are, then no one wants to know it. There's a lovely little picture painted to millions of teenage girls and all they want is to make it prettier, not to splash blobs of black across it, do you understand?"
Rose sighed and settled back against her pillows. "I do, Sarah Jane, I do. I just...wouldn't it be nice to give it a bit of an edge? A different angle?"
"Not at Smash Hits, Rose. Besides, this is only the first day! You barely spoke to them, you didn't even give them a chance! You're supposed to be spending time watching and talking and observing. And if it turns out that they're horrible human beings, well...just don't print it here, all right?"
"Right," she replied, defeated. "Well, thanks for the help. I'll work on some notes tomorrow and we'll talk...same time?"
"Same time. Thanks for...diving in, Rose...Adam really always wears sunglasses?"
Rose laughed. "He does! I don't know what to do about him! He won't even put on a shirt when it's raining outside!"
Sarah Jane let out a little giggle. "Oh, Rose..."
"Yeah, I know. Give Tom and the boys my love."
"Of course. Enjoy your night, we'll talk tomorrow!"
Reinette clicked off the conference line after it was evident that both parties had hung up the phone. So Rose was trying to put the Vortex Boys in a bad light, expose something that Reinette was sure wasn't even there. She'd been following their career for months now and was sure that they were the nicest guys in the universe. Especially John. With his soulful brown eyes and gorgeous smile...Reinette shivered at the thought. How could he be anything but wonderful?
At least Sarah Jane had shut her down. Still, she knew Rose was ambitious. Sarah Jane couldn't stop her from writing a second piece and selling it to the highest bidder. The right words whispered in the right ear could ruin a career, and Reinette would not let that happen to The Vortex Boys, especially by some twenty-two-year-old stuck-up, no-talent bint.
She knew how to get information out of people, to get people to trust her, so Reinette vowed to keep an eye on Rose and make sure to stop her if she stepped one toe out of line.
Rose clicked off her mobile and sighed, tossing it down next to her on the bed. He first day on the road had been...interesting, and certainly not as bad as she'd made it seem in her notes. Adam had been borderline intolerable, but certainly nothing more than she had dealt with in college. Jack had made her giggle with his over-the-top, "Hello, Captain Jack Harkness, and you are...?" Mickey talked to her like they were old friends, and Rory seemed sweet, even though he hadn't said much to her.
John, however...well, she could see why millions of girls and plenty of women were head over heels in love with him. He was far more gorgeous in person than in any of his photos, with his sparkling brown eyes, slim build, and hair that she very nearly sank her fingers into on many occasions. He'd been a ball of energy the entire rehearsal, never ceasing in his motions and when he sang...Rose had felt her heartbeat increase during several of his solos.
They all worked well together and got along well, they treated the band and the staff like they were friends and equals. They laughed and joked and took mistakes in stride. No one tried to upstage the others. Rose actually found herself concerned that she wouldn't be able to find anything to write an expose about.
Rose was still planning the article, she couldn't waste an opportunity like this. She decided to focus on Adam, as he seemed to be the weakest link in the group. Even if she couldn't get them all, he was the most likely to have hoards of issues that she could shed light on.
She grabbed her laptop and was about to start making notes when a pounding on her door caused her to yelp and nearly fall off the bed. She scrambled over quickly and peered out of the peephole, only seeing a pair of lips that would have been unrecognizable had she not spent the entire afternoon staring at them and only half-heartedly trying to banish the traitorous thoughts about feeling them against hers.
Rose opened the door and tried not to look too excited that a gorgeous man with really great hair was standing on the other side. John grinned at her and she had to make a conscious effort not beam back at him. He had charisma and oozed charm, but not obnoxiously. It was obvious that he was magnetic, that people were drawn to him, and Rose didn't want to admit that she was not immune.
"Hi, John," she said with careful control over her voice. "What are you doing here?"
"Well," he began, tucking a hand into his brown-and-blue pinstriped trouser pocket and scratching the back of his neck with the other. "We were about to have dinner and Jack may have...mentioned that you might not have plans...I mean, not that you're, you know, a hermit or anything, but since you just got into town we thought someone should come ask you if you wanted to join us...?"
Rose felt her small, courteous smile spread into a full-blown grin, her tongue tucking between her teeth without conscious thought. He was adorable, babbling and nervous, nothing like the commanding presence he had on stage and she found him incredibly endearing.
No, she scolded herself. Professional, Rose Tyler. You would actively destroy his career if you had the chance. Pull it together.
John's eyes zeroed in on her mouth and she saw his Adam's apple bob as he swallowed thickly. Her entire body flushed at the tiny, innocuous movement and an image of her laving her tongue across the skin of his throat accosted her so fiercely that she had to steady herself against the door.
Well, Rose thought. So much for 'pretty boys' not being my type.
"That's sweet of Jack to think of me," she said. "Where are you going?"
"Oh, just to my room," he replied with a grin. "The one drawback to being the one on my own this time, I have to host dinner. Fish and chips okay?"
"They're brilliant!" Rose exclaimed, feeling her grin widen. "I'll just need to grab my key and my mobile...where's your room?"
"Oh, I'll wait for you," he said, his voice going a little soft at the comment. "We can walk down together. Never know what sort of...dangers are lurking around the corner of this three-and-a-half star hotel. You might...run head first into a housekeeping cart or something."
Rose laughed and noticed his smile widen at her reaction. "Those housekeeping carts are menaces, aren't they?"
"Oh, Rose Tyler, you have no idea," he replied, and she shivered a bit at the way her name rolled off his tongue. She turned to hide her surely flaming cheeks, leaving the door to her room open in a silent invitation for John to follow her in. He took the hint and Rose heard the door click softly shut behind him.
"So, what brought you to write for Smash Hits?" John asked in a conversational tone. Rose turned and saw him leaning casually against the wall, both hands now tucked into his trouser pockets and his Converse-clad feet crossed at the ankles.
Rose also noticed, for the first time, the threadbare white t-shirt emblazoned simply with "fun." in faded black letters. The shirt was so thin it was practically see-through, and she actually felt a stab of disappointment at the outline of a slim white vest underneath. The shirt looked like it could be at least five years old, and she knew from her job that the group hadn't hit the mainstream until the year before.
"Best job offer at the time," she replied before offering a teasing smile. "So the record company says you can advertise other groups now?" She spun around towards the bed, gathering her key and phone and tucking them into the back pocket of her jeans. When she turned back around, she couldn't keep her grin from widening at John rather obviously tearing his gaze quickly back from the vicinity of her bum.
"Hmmm? Oh, the shirt," he replied. "I've been a fan for years. Practically since they were babies."
"Don't the old fans usually desert a band once they get a number one song?" Rose asked him playfully, nudging him with her shoulder as she walked by.
"Well, that would be a bit hypocritical of me, wouldn't it?" he replied, following her out of the room and into the hall. Rose started a bit when he grasped onto her hand and led her towards the elevator. Not only was the contact unexpected, but the fact that Rose didn't mind one bit was also something that shocked her. His grip was cool and strong and so comfortable that Rose actually questioned her ability to let it go in the future.
John and Rose chatted amiably on the way down to his room, which ended up being almost directly below hers. She knew a bit about him from the biography, but the book had mainly focused on the history of the band and their musical resumes. John had been a music student, a prodigy, earning a PhD in Musical Theory and Composition at the tender age of twenty four before auditioning in an open call for the record label on a whim. This had earned him the nickname of "Doctor" among the group and their crew. They talked a bit about their college experiences before he opened his door and an oddly harmonious chorus of "ROOOOOOOOOOSE!" hit her like a wrecking ball and she couldn't help but laugh.
Jack pulled her away from John and instantly wrapped her up in a huge bear hug, picking her up off the ground and causing an involuntary and unflattering squeal to escape her lips. Rory was standing off to the side when Jack finally put her down and introduced her to a pretty redhead named Amy Pond, apparently their wardrobe designer, make-up artist, and an old friend of Rory's from Leadworth. Mickey came over soon after with Martha Jones, the tour medic, offering Rose a bottle of Guinness and a plate full of greasy fried fish and chips. Jack led her over to the small table filled with condiments and introduced her to their catering manager, Ianto Jones, who apparently made the best coffee in the known universe. Adam gave her a sloppy kiss on the cheek, his tiny goatee scratching against her skin uncomfortably and she once again made a mental note to keep an eye on him, feeling a bit shocked when she realized that her first motivation for doing so were his wandering hands and not, in fact, for the story.
The gathering was loud and raucous, but not out of control. In fact, she caught herself more than often laughing out loud at someone's joke or grinning broadly at a story from the road or the recording studio. John stuck by her side whenever he could, and she ended up staying in his room long after everyone else had left, talking about their work, music, and books until well past midnight. In fact, Rose was the one who pointed out that he had a rehearsal to attend at nine the following morning.
John walked Rose back to her room, ostensibly to protect her from renegade housekeeping carts. She laughed and squeezed his hand, reluctant for the night to end as they approached her door.
"Thank you for inviting me tonight," Rose told him. "I had a lot of fun. Everyone is so nice."
"They're brilliant," he replied, beaming. "And they're glad you're here. Not even a day and they already like you more than me."
"Well, I'm very charming," she teased, grinning at him and tucking her tongue between her teeth.
She watched as his eyes grew dark, zeroing in on her mouth like a beacon. His gaze shot up to meet hers, and Rose nearly gasped out loud at the look of supreme intensity he fixed on her.
Oh, my God, he's going to kiss me, she thought, her heart rate picking up.
And kiss her he did, planting a kiss on her cheek as he squeezed her hand tight. She could feel the tension in his muscles, and her eyes fluttered shut of their own accord as she felt his soft lips against her skin.
"Sleep well," he murmured. "I'll see you in the morning?"
"Yeah," she replied, opening her eyes and smiling at him. "In the morning."
"Good night, Rose."
He gave her one final smile, turned, and walked back in the direction they'd come. His hands were once again tucked into his pockets and he looked so delectable that Rose had to forcibly throw herself into her room to keep from running after him.
Her good mood immediately dissipated upon seeing her laptop still sitting innocuously on the bed. She sighed. She'd not gotten anything useful for her story, at least nothing concrete, but she had plenty of lovely, complimentary things to send to Sarah Jane.
She sat down on her bed, opened up her laptop, and began typing out her notes.