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!
Chapter 1 | Chapter 2
Rose arrived at the Motorpoint Arena a bit early, showing her press credentials to the security guard. She was immediately issued a lanyard and badge that would give her nearly free reign in the tour venues. Upon seeing her puzzled look, the guard simply assured her that she'd been vouched for and ushered her into the arena.
Rose's stomach churned unpleasantly upon realizing that someone in the organization trusted her, and after so short a time period. It wasn't as though Smash Hits was on par with the National Enquirer by any stretch. As a general rule, they didn't want to ruin reputations or run sensational pieces, but it was a complete shock to Rose that a member of the press would be given full access after only being with them for a day.
She entered the concert area and wasn't entirely surprised at the bustle of activity around her. Their rehearsal the day before had been mostly blocking and musical practice, ensuring that the boys had their choreography and harmonies down. Today was a full dress run before the show and there must have been a million tiny details to perfect before they went on stage in less than twelve hours.
Amy and her team were with the group, putting the finishing touches on their outfits for the first few numbers. Rose couldn't stifle the giggle that escaped her throat when she saw them. The outfits were fantastic; comfortable-looking jeans and white trainers paired with coordinating blazers, ties, and fedoras, all with strategically placed sequins to catch the light perfectly. However, they looked completely out of place in the brightly-lit, empty arena, and the odd juxtaposition struck her as hilarious.
John happened to glance up just as she was within sight of the stage and grinned broadly, hopping down despite the young woman shouting her protests after him. He jogged up the center aisle and met Rose in the middle, tucking his hands into the pockets of his jeans.
"Hello," he said, a little breathless, presumably from the small feat of acrobatics he used to make it there.
"Hello," Rose replied, shooting him a teasing, tongue-touched smile that caused the same dark look as the night before to pass through his eyes as they once again became fixed on her mouth.
He must have realized quickly that he was starting, because he cleared his throat and met her gaze once . "How...how was your night? Did you sleep well? Have you eaten? There's food here, can you believe it? Just tables and tables of food, right back stage! And coffee, or tea, whatever you want, really, I'm sure we have...do you want to go...see? I could show you..."
Rose laughed and gestured towards the annoyed costume designer, still standing on the stage with her hands on her hips, waiting for John to return.
"Oh," he said, as if noticing her for the first time. "Right, well, I'm sure you'll be able to find it yourself..."
"I may get lost again around lunch time," she attempted to appease him, and the wide smile that spread across his face at the comment heavily implied that it worked.
"Really? Well, that's brilliant! Well..." He tugged at his ear uncomfortably. "It's not brilliant that you'll be lost, but it's brilliant that I'll be in your proximity and I happen to know exactly where the food is..."
"I'll come looking for you when I get hungry," Rose promised.
"Right," he offered. "I better...get back..."
"Probably," Rose teased.
"Yeah..." He seemed to be warring with himself, and expression of intense concentration on his face before he reached over and pulled her into a brief embrace. "Glad you made it...here. Safe. Glad you made it here safe."
"Okay," Rose said, smiling at him as he pulled back. "Blimey, but you're a huggy bunch. Don't think I won't put this in my article."
He was about to come back with a witty retort, Rose could tell, when the rest of the group finally called out, "DOC!" and beckoned him back to the stage. She could see Adam peering at them over his aviator sunglasses, practically pouting at the two of them like a toddler. Rose noticed that he was only wearing the tie and the blazer, missing the untucked Oxford that the rest of the group was wearing.
Shaking her head, Rose sat down in one of the first row seats, notebook and digital recorder at the ready, while she watched them practice some impressive, synchronized routine with the fedoras. She tried not to giggle when, every time John caught her watching him, his fedora ended up on the floor.
Rose watched in fascination for the next three hours as the group rehearsed. Despite the fact that she had dismissed their music early on, they were incredible performers, even with the synthesized, highly-processed songs they were singing. Rose knew that the music was popular, but she couldn't help the idea that they were better than this. She had learned from their biography that Jack had trained in various forms of dance since he was a child, that John composed his own music and lyrics, that Mickey and Rory were accomplished instrumentalists, and Adam was a talented stage actor. Why they weren't allowed more freedom to pursue their interests was beyond Rose's comprehension...she was positive their popularity would only grow if they could really shine.
Rose jumped a bit at the sound of her name and turned. A man in a dark suit was striding down the aisle with a lovely, put-together ginger woman by his side. Rose stood as they approached her, and the man gave her a cool smile and stuck out a hand.
"I'm Harold Saxon," he said. "Manager for the Vortex Boys. Sorry I couldn't be here yesterday, I was in Hong Kong with Boy Town for their big show. Have to be a supportive manager, you understand."
"I do, Mr. Saxon," Rose replied, shaking his hand heartily. "Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to get to know the group. They've been very welcoming."
"Glad to hear it. This is my assistant, Donna Noble." He gestured to the woman at his side, who smiled warmly at Rose and shook her hand. "She manages the group's day-to-day affairs. If you need anything, she's your girl."
"Nice to meet you, Ms. Noble," Rose told her.
"Oh, please, it's just Donna. Don't ever call me anything that makes me think of my mother."
Rose laughed, and even the cool, polished, professional Harold Saxon cracked a smirk before addressing the flurry of personnel on the stage. "All right, everyone, take your lunches, I need a word with my guys!"
Everyone murmured their agreements and dispersed, but Rose decided to hang back and wait. She wanted to see how Harold interacted with the group and vice versa, and she was glad she did. John's shoulders were set and tense as he stood next to his manager, who seemed to be giving a generic, impersonal pep talk. Everyone looked a bit on edge, not unusual for having the Big Boss there, but the stormy look on John's face spoke of something else entirely, and Rose made a mental note to ask him about that if she ever got him alone.
She surmised that Harold had dismissed them for lunch and John instantly relaxed as he greeted Donna with affection. They conferred for a moment and Rose started a bit as both he and Donna turned in her direction. She blushed and glanced back down at her notebook, scribbling a few nonsense points down before slowly packing up her equipment. The group scattered, and Rose smiled as she noticed John lingering on a corner of the stage. She caught his eye and he grinned, gesturing towards the backstage area and she held up one finger to indicate she'd be just a moment.
"They seem tired," Rose overheard Donna tell Harold. She hadn't realized they'd come back in her direction, and her ears perked up at the hushed conversation. "And Rory's been complaining that his range has decreased. Can't we give them a little break? Maybe postpone some of their interviews or appearances...?"
"Donna, do you have any idea how much an interview with The Vortex Boys goes for these days?" Harold responded condescendingly. "They can't afford time off. I can't afford to give them time off! Give Rory some tea with lemon and honey and have Martha look at his throat. They'll be fine."
"Mr. Saxon, they've barely had time to breathe-"
"Trust me, Donna, they'll thank me for this later. Now, I'm putting everything in your hands. I'm off to New York, MTV is pitching me a reality show first thing in the morning."
"You're not staying for the performance? This is the opening of their tour..."
"Time is money, Donna! Call me if there are any issues, you have the number of the jet?"
"Yes, Mr. Saxon," she sighed, sounding intensely frustrated.
"Good! We'll catch up in London."
The pair separated, Donna headed back towards the stage with her shoulders slightly slumped. Rose continued to organize her bag in an attempt to look casual and realized that, despite the fact that she'd barely spoken to the man, she was not at all fond of Harold Saxon.
As the day progressed, Rose tried to recall if she'd ever laughed so hard in her entire life. Jack turned out to be an amazing story teller, and all of them seemed to end up with him, John, and at least one innocent bystander naked. She learned that the boys were remarkably low maintenance for pop stars, and the only request from John was that the bananas were kept as far away from the pears as possible. In fact, when Adam wandered across the room with one in his hand, John sent him a glare so deadly that Rose wondered what offense pears had committed on him to make this such a personal issue.
"Hey, John, Rose..." Adam offered casually.
"You're really doing this? You've brought a pear into my bubble? Adam, we've had a talk about my bubble before..."
"So, you're having a good time so far? What do you think of the show?" Adam asked Rose, completely ignoring John's complaints.
"I don't ask for much here, and I don't think I'm being unreasonable. I mean, I haven't asked you to stop dousing every part of your body in that god-awful cologne..."
"Yeah, it looks fantastic!" Rose replied. "So how much rehearsal time have you put into it so far?"
Adam bit into the pear and John groaned. "And now I'm going to be smelling it on your breath all day! That and the cologne...it'll be like pear cologne and I don't think I'm okay with that..."
"We've been working for a couple months now, actually," Adam told her, sliding his sunglasses down his nose and winking at her. Rose had to bite her lip to keep from laughing. "It's been...very demanding."
"Not only are you disrespecting me, but you're disrespecting Miss Tyler, and you know how I feel about disrespecting Miss Tyler!"
"Oh, yeah?" Rose asked, turning to John with a teasing grin. "How do you feel about disrespecting Miss Tyler, then?"
John flushed brilliantly as Adam chuckled. "Oh, you should have heard him last night. 'Don't scare her off,' 'She's brilliant, be nice to her.' On and on!" He laughed again and pulled a flask out of his back pocket with another dramatic wink to John. "This oughta get rid of the pear smell, John. Just for you, eh?" He took a quick swig before coughing a bit. "Blimey, that's strong."
John raised his eyebrow at the action and turned towards Mickey. As if reacting to a silent communication, Mickey met his gaze and nodded, fixing what looked like a cup of tea from the beverage table. He came over and gave Rose a charming grin.
"John, Adam, Miss Tyler," he greeted, handing the Styrofoam cup to his bandmate. "Donna told us all to drink this, Adam. Says it's good for our throats."
"Really?" he asked, taking a sip of the hot beverage. Mickey plucked the flask from his hand and gave John a tiny nod. "Oh, that's not bad at all. And we've gotta sound our best if we want to get laid at the end of the night, right, guys?"
"Oh, go put a shirt on," John grumbled, placing his hand on the small of Rose's back and gently guiding her towards one of the food tables. She tried not to shiver and the surprisingly intimate touch. "Sorry about him," he murmured. "Adam requires a bit of...delicate handling. Doesn't exactly live in the same reality as the rest of us."
"Hmmm, I'd never have guessed," Rose replied, and John chuckled, handing her a plate. They each chose a few lunch items and went to sit with the rest of the group and the crew. Rose remained quiet throughout the meal, observing and reflecting on the group of people before her. It was obvious that they were close, and though they didn't always seem to like each other, there was a deep bond there. They took care and watched out for one another, and it was refreshing (if not somewhat worrisome for her story) to be surrounded by people with such an obvious respect for their work and for their friends.
They went back to rehearsal after the short break, everyone still in good spirits. They began working with their choreographer, Leela. She was obviously frustrated at the group, who were energetic from lunch and were having a hard time settling back into the routines. When Leela finally snapped at Adam for adding a free-style, break-dancing ad-lib in the middle of the routine, Jack let out a low whistle and leaned over to Rory. "There's trouble in River City, my friends!"
"With a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for 'pool'," Mickey finished.
In odd synchronicity and without missing a beat, the rest of the group all belted out in gorgeous harmony, "Stands for pool!"
Immediately, their keyboard player, Jamie, began tinkling out the familiar melody and Rose couldn't stop the guffaws from escaping her as they bounced to the rhythm and sang the familiar lyrics with joy and enthusiasm. Donna was chuckling and shaking her head, as if this was a common occurrence and she had long ago resigned herself to the fact.
There was a cheer from everyone in the stadium when they finished, and Rose's sides were hurting from laughing so hard. She found it hard to keep the smile off her face for the rest of rehearsal, and when they were dismissed around four to rest and get ready for the show, she realized she was oddly excited for it and nearly froze. She never would have thought that after one day, she would feel giddy at the idea of attending a Vortex Boys concert.
As she left the stadium, Rose could practically see her exposé being crumpled up into a little ball and tossed out a window.
The electricity in the air was palpable. There were tens of thousands of fans screaming, completely inconsolable as The Vortex Boys said their final thanks and goodnights, the band playing their exit tune as the five men ran off stage, soaked with sweat but each one wearing a grin brighter than the sun. They had been phenomenal, and Rose was completely floored. The production quality of the tour was incredible, their performances were so dynamic that she wondered how they were still standing, and the energy from the fans and the music left her breathless.
John's eyes immediately locked on hers as he came backstage, a smile unlike anything she'd ever seen before spreading across his face. He jogged towards her, his gaze never straying, his smile never faltering, and Rose felt her arms coming up automatically as John grabbed her in a tight, hot, sweaty, but thoroughly wonderful hug.
She shrieked as he picked her up off the ground, playfully protesting that he was going to soak her through, but he didn't put her down and she didn't ask him to. They remained that way for several moments, him swinging her back and forth gently. She pressed her nose into the shoulder of his jacket, amazed at how good he smelled, despite being a sweaty mess.
He finally put her down when the other members of the group realized that they were in their own little world and apparently decided it was unacceptable. They descended on the pair and there were hugs and praise all around until Donna rushed them back towards the dressing area.
John didn't remove his arm from around Rose's waist until Donna had finished giving her notes and praise, when they were finally dismissed to shower and change. She watched them go, the four of them who were actually wearing shirts stripping out of them almost immediately. Rose grinned and decided rather quickly that, if this was how every concert was going to end, she couldn't wait to attend the next one.