Rating: M overall, Teen this chapter
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 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6
The weeks passed in a blur of work, music, concerts, rehearsals, dancing, long nights in John's arms and her first experience trying to shag on a tiny, enclosed bunk on a moving tour bus. The space wasn't half bad for sleeping, feeling as though they were completely cut off and in their own little universe, but shagging ended up being a bit more difficult and caused a fair amount of unnecessary bruising. Still, John was a quick study, and they managed to find optimal positioning rather quickly, and it was well-worth the incessant teasing they received in the morning.
She sometimes found it hard to believe how close she'd become to John and the rest of the group in such a short period of time, everyone loosening up more now that she and John were together. She learned in a deep, close conversation with Jack that he was actually pansexual and head-over-heels in love with Ianto, their catering manager. She learned that Martha and Mickey had been seeing each other for quite some time, and Amy and Rory had been together for years and were actually engaged. Donna was aware of the relationships, but they had to keep the information close to the group. Harold Saxon had told them, when asked about their relationships to always answer noncommittally. Seeming available was important, but John promised Rose (as everyone in the group promised their significant others) that he would never outrightly lie.
Adam, on the other hand, was a completely different story altogether. He'd always been friendly and flirty, but was also a bit of a partier. Rose grew concerned for his health after the first two months, as he spent most nights drinking in excess and causing headaches for the record label press reps. He'd been harmlessly flirting with her the entire tour, even after she and John had made it known that they were together, but everything finally came to a head while they were celebrating a particularly brilliant performance in Dublin. He'd had a few drinks and made a rather physical, drunken pass at Rose. Upon seeing this, John's expression had turned stormy and he'd basically manhandled Adam back to his room. In the aftermath of that uncomfortable scene, Rose begged a still-fuming John to help her talk Adam into seeking help. It took a heart-to-heart between the three of them over coffee and muffins to convince him to try an AA meeting.
Still, Rose hadn't spent all of her time socializing and saving young boy band members from themselves. She'd also spent the weeks discreetly gathering information and asking innocent questions about Harold Saxon and MasterWorks Entertainment. It was difficult, as she didn't want to let on to John what she was doing until she had some concrete evidence. And as most of their free time was spent in each other's presence, Rose had learned to use her time to the fullest. She had two regular opportunities to research and make liberal use of NYU's databases, generally when John dropped off soon after making love or when he was engrossed in composing.
The more information Rose gathered, the more she was convinced that something was going on with the record label. Saxon managed several groups, all very similar and formed through open auditions just like the Vortex Boys. From what she understood, MasterWorks was incredibly successful, to the point that Harold Saxon was in the middle of constructing a 5,000 square foot estate and had just purchased a vacation home on the Amalfi Coast. The company jet had gotten a recent upgrade and they were expanding their state-of-the-art recording studios.
And her lovely, sweet Rory was having doubts about affording a house for his mother. Rose's instincts were screaming at her that something was very, very wrong, but she needed a look around Harold Saxon's file cabinet to confirm her suspicions. And in order to achieve that, she needed a plan.
She got her opportunity when they returned to London, a bit more than two months after she and John had gotten together. There was an excited air among the group, it seemed like everyone called London "home". They all exited the busses and went in different directions, finally able to return to their respective flats for a day of rest before their final concert and starting work on their Christmas album the next day. Rose would be going with them to the studio, ostensibly to give the readers a "sneak peek" of what was next for The Vortex Boys, but mainly so she could sneak off and do a little investigating.
She spent the day at John's flat, opening the windows so the warm, late-summer breeze would air out the stuffy space. It was a great apartment, with an open floor plan and two bedrooms, but it was...impersonal. John had told her how he found it, buying it with the insurance and inheritance from his parents' estate. His family had been lost in a house fire in his first year at uni, and he'd admitted to her that he had yet to find a place that really felt like "home."
The flat was sparsely decorated and didn't seem at all like John. The only personal touch she found was in the spare bedroom, which housed several different musical instruments, keyboards, and computers set up in a home composition studio. He admitted he'd been working on the collection since university and he was quite proud of the set-up. Rose had turned to him, her heart swelling at the fact that he was willing to share this with her, and kissed him firmly.
After taking an opportunity to make love on a surface that wasn't moving or covered in ugly paisley, where they could be as noisy as they wanted since John had taken great care to soundproof the rooms, they briefly napped in what Rose thought was the greatest bed she'd ever felt in her life. She wasn't sure if she'd just spent too many nights in hotels or if it was the fact that John was welcoming her into his private space, but she found it difficult to wake up even after two hours of a deep sleep.
They shared a shower, making the most of their alone time. The boys were staying in London for a few months to work on the album, and Rose realized as John was gently shampooing her hair how much she was looking forward to being able to do things like this on a regular basis. Not only with John, but with everyone. She was excited for plans of Friday night dinners at alternating flats, to going out dancing, there had even been talk of karaoke once a month.
She also realized how ready she was to move out of her mum's flat and into a space of her own, and Rose scoured the paper while they were having lunch. John's flat was lovely, but Rose didn't think it would be appropriate to entertain him at her mum's place. At least, not in the way she could...entertain him in the privacy of her own home.
"Whatcha looking at there?" John asked as he took a bite of his sandwich.
"Real estate," she replied, taking her red pen and circling a few prospective ads. "Last few months have made a nice little addition to my down payment, figured I'd start looking around."
He went quiet, and Rose glanced up from the paper at the uncharacteristic silence. "You all right?"
"Hmm? Oh, right, I'm fine...it's just..." He began fiddling with the crisps on his plate. "You know...you could just stay...here?"
His voice sounded so hopeful that Rose's heart swelled. "John..."
"No, really...I'm not around much anyway. And we've spent every day together for the past three months and it's been lovely and...well..." He swallowed and finally met her gaze, his brown eyes swimming with so much emotion that her breath caught. "It would make this place feel more like home and...I think...that I'd really like having you to come home to."
Rose couldn't answer at first, trying to wrap her brain around what he was saying. Did he...just ask her to move in? With him? To live in his flat, to spend every night they were in the same city in their home?
She couldn't deny how wonderful it sounded. A smile spread across her face against her will, and even though they'd only known each other for three months, the idea held more merit than she would admit out loud.
Still, she'd been down this path before, moved in with her college boyfriend too quickly. John was too important to her, she couldn't make the same mistake again. She wanted to take things at a good pace, really get to know each other sitting still in London before she made any decisions.
Rose wasn't saying "no." She didn't want to say no. But she did decide to say "not now."
She grinned at him teasingly, reaching across the small table to take his hand. "Ask me again after you've seen my shoe collection, yeah?"
His answering smile was luminous. "Deal."
The performance that night went off without a hitch, every small detail was perfect and the energy from the crowd was incredible. John greeted Rose after the closing number with his usual sweaty, twirly embrace-and-snog combination. Jack, as usual, tucked a few colorful packets in John's pocket with a grin and a wink and they made full use of them in his flat that night.
They all met at MasterWorks Studios the next morning and Rose was relieved when Donna told them Mr. Saxon wouldn't be in for their meeting that day, as he had some business in Spain he needed to tend to but would be joining them via video chat. She left John and the rest of the group in with Donna for the meeting, John giving her a brief kiss and imploring her not to wander off.
Not one to take instruction well, Rose turned the moment Donna shut the door and went off in search for Harold Saxon's office.
The studios took up two floors of a London skyscraper, the lower floor home to the recording studios and the upper of the offices. She needed a special access code to get into either space, but she didn't think she'd need to go into the recording studios. Most of the information would likely be in Saxon's office. She just had to get past the secretary and into his files.
It didn't take long to locate the office, prominently placed in the center of everything against a back wall of floor-to-ceiling windows. Rose was startled when the desk outside his door was empty. His secretary wasn't where she was supposed to be...in fact, there was no indication she'd been in at all that day. Her computer wasn't switched on, nothing was out of place on the desk...
Rose shook her head as she came to the realization about Mr. Saxon's "business" in Spain. He really was more of a slimeball than she gave him credit for. She wondered if his wife, Lucy, knew what he was up to.
Rose gasped and spun around, clutching at her racing heart. One of the group's security guards, Lonnie, stood behind her with his arms crossed and a curious expression on his face.
"Lonnie, don't scare me like that!"
"Sorry, luv," he replied with a smile, relaxing his posture a bit. "John just asked me to keep an eye on you is all. Did you get lost? Or are you looking for Mr. Saxon?"
"Oh, well..." she stammered. "I've...got some...paperwork...for Mr. Saxon but his secretary doesn't seem to be here, and..."
"What sort of paperwork?"
"Miss Rose, the cameras don't have any sound."
"The cameras, they only take video. You can tell me what's going on."
Rose sighed and stepped close to Lonnie, taking a file folder out of her bag and pretending to show it to him. It was her cover for getting into the office, containing a sheet of questions for her article. "I'm thinking there's something going on with Mr. Saxon. I think he's pulling something over on the boys. I just need a few minutes in his office."
"Lonnie, I don't want your job to be in danger. Just go back to wherever you were and act like you and I never talked."
"I can get you five minutes in there," he replied. "If you think there's something going on, I can go distract the guard in the security office. Just wait a few minutes. Answer your mobile or something. And be in and out fast."
"You don't have to do that..." Rose began to protest.
"I also don't want anybody thinking they can get away with that stuff. This band is good people. And I'm supposed to protect them."
Rose smiled and squeezed the large, muscular man's hand. "Thank you. I really appreciate it."
He nodded and turned down the hall, Rose immediately digging her mobile out of her bag and pushing a few buttons, listening to the voicemail but nodding as if she were having a conversation. After about three minutes had past, she moved carefully over to Mr. Saxon's door and tried the knob.
Locked, of course. He wouldn't be stupid enough to leave his office accessible. Carefully, Rose reached up into her hair and pulled out a pin. John had complimented her style that morning, two French braids that left a few pieces of her layered style looser around her face. She'd pinned these pieces up, and was glad for the fact now. She slid the tiny piece of metal into the lock and wiggled it, just as her Dad had showed her when she was a kid. It didn't take more than a few seconds for the door to pop open and Rose to make her way inside.
The office was clean, sterile, and impersonal, with some generic artwork on the walls, a sofa, and a very impressive, decorative oak desk. There were two locked filing cabinets and a few drawers in his desk that would probably contain the information she needed, and she wasted no time in jimmying the locks and sifting through the folders.
She didn't actually read what she found, she didn't have the time to spare. Anything she could get her hands on regarding The Vortex Boys group or and of the individual members was photographed with her mobile and tucked back away so no one would be the wiser. She'd look at the individual pages when she got a bit of privacy. For now, she just needed the information in hand.
She'd gotten through both file cabinets when she finally checked her watch and saw only about one minute remained of her five. Quickly, she put everything right and scribbled a quick note to leave on Mr. Saxon's desk, requesting an interview for the article and offering her desk phone number. She also left the manila folder and, her cover for being in his office fully in place, exited the room, the door locking automatically behind her.
She managed to get back to the waiting area before the meeting was over and pulled out her laptop, ensuring that she looked appropriately busy by the time they boys and Donna exited the room. John greeted her with a kiss and they spent the rest of the afternoon in the recording studio perfecting a gorgeous, a cappella version of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. It nearly brought tears to her eyes, the way their voices were blending together and the clear emotion that was shining through in their voices. It was odd, to be hearing a Christmas song in the middle of August, but it put a bounce in her step that carried on even as the six of them headed out to pick up Martha and Amy. They were meeting Sarah Jane and Lynda for dinner at Rose's favorite pub, and Rose was almost unreasonably excited to share a little bit of her life with her new favorite people.
They eight of them walked in, John's arm around her waist as he whispered something ridiculous in her ear about the fit of her jeans. She was giggling as she scanned the room, seeing Sarah Jane and Lynda at a large, rectangular table with somewhat sour expressions on their faces.
Rose was about to call out when Sarah Jane raised an arm in a half-hearted wave. Her stomach sank when the crowd parted and she noticed the likely reason for their dour moods.
Reinette, dressed to the nines and perfectly put together, gave the group an excited, toothy grin and waved daintily at Rose and John.
Reinette's breath caught when she saw John Smith. He was even more gorgeous in person, even with his trademark hair hidden beneath a baseball cap and dressed casually in jeans, Converse sneakers, and a deep blue henley beneath a pinstriped blazer. The picture would have been perfect had his beauteous smile not been directed at Rose bloody Tyler.
The rest of the group had come in behind her, Rory with his arm around a gorgeous, stylish ginger and Mickey with a beautiful dark-skinned woman, both of whom she didn't recognize. Jack and Adam were solo, and Reinette's heart fluttered a bit at the sight of Adam, her second-favorite Vortex Boy, wearing an unbuttoned Oxford under his leather jacket and a few tasteful gold chains, one had a huge medallion of a scorpion on the end.
Of course he's a Scorpio, Reinette thought. Very, very sexy.
Still, with her favorite Vortex Boy was within reach, she couldn't spare Adam a second thought. She focused on Rose, who was dressed casually in jeans and a tank top with trainers, a light sweater draped over one arm. She didn't hold a candle to Reinette's look, and she felt a smug sense of satisfaction at how quickly John would be putty in her hands. She had, of course, known that they would all be meeting tonight. She had overheard the phone call between Rose and Sarah Jane, and she'd conveniently shown up knowing Sarah Jane was too polite not to invite her to sit with them. Reinette had gone all out on her outfit, pulling out her favorite Louboutin pumps and a low-cut, lace camisole with a sweetheart neckline to go with her tight, skinny cropped trousers and black blazer. She'd pulled her hair up off her face and had very definite plans to peel off the blazer when it simply grew too warm in the room to wear it.
In fact, it seemed to be the perfect time, now that Rose had spotted her and the wide smile on her face had faded. She stood up and waved, waiting for John to glance in their direction so she could strip out of the garment slowly, but he seemed to be distracted by the bottle blonde next to him. Reinette tried not to retch at the sight of John's fingers surreptitiously tucking underneath Rose's tank top and stroking the skin he found there. The frown on her face faded immediately faded and she turned to give him a huge, simpering smile and led the group over to their table.
Reinette frowned. Could they have been any more uncouth?
"Lynda, Sarah Jane!" Rose said when they made it to the table. "Reinette."
Always remembering her manners, Reinette extended her hand. "Rose, it's been so long! You're looking well! And who are your friends?"
"Oh, come on, Reinette, don't be daft!" Lynda said with a huge grin. "Hi, I'm Lynda, Rose's friend. Nice to meet you guys!"
"And this is Sarah Jane," Rose offered. "My editor I've told you guys so much about!"
"All good things I hope!" Sarah Jane replied, stretching out her hand in greeting. "Sarah Jane Smith, nice to meet you all!"
"This is Jack, Mickey, Martha, Rory, Amy, Adam and this," she said, squeezing John's hand and beaming at him. Reinette fought not to roll her eyes. "This is John Smith. My, erm..." She glanced up at John, unsure, and he offered a small smile in return. He wanted to see how she would introduce him. "...my...boyfriend."
His smile stretched into a full-blown grin. Reinette felt her mouth go into a pout, but felt a little thrill when she noticed Adam's gaze zero in on her.
Maybe the night won't be a complete waste after all, she thought, smiling at him prettily and peeling off her blazer, enjoying Adam nearly going cross-eyed at the gesture.
Despite Adam's obvious attentions, Reinette felt her mood grow more and more sour as the night went on. John was completely uninterested in anything she said or did. He offered polite interest, certainly, but he and Rose were so wrapped up with each other that there was no pulling his attention away.
After what felt like her millionth giggle and eyelash flutter, Reinette decided she had to up her game if she wanted to attract John's attention. She got her chance when Rose and Jack went to play darts and John leaned back against the bar, watching them with a small smile on his face.
"Hello," she offered politely. "Are you having a good time?"
"Yes, thanks," John replied, and Reinette thrilled a bit at having his attention on her.
"Hmmm, they're awfully close, aren't they?" she mused innocently, gesturing a bit towards Jack and Rose. Jack was standing behind her, their hands holding the same dart as Jack demonstrated the proper hold and throw.
"Hmm, I suppose so," he replied, taking a sip from his pint of lager. "Jack's a bit...touchy-feely. Something I've come to accept the hard way."
Reinette huffed. Nothing she was doing was working. He was mad about Rose, it was obvious. There had to be something, some weakness in their relationship that she could exploit, make him see that Rose just wasn't right for him.
A thought suddenly occurred to her, a scathingly brilliant idea that had a smile creeping over her face. She chose her words carefully and deliberately, hoping that her instinct was true and that Rose had kept one tiny detail from him.
"She sure seems happy," Reinette offered. "You too."
"Yeah," he turned to her with a grin. "She's brilliant."
"I'm glad she gave up on the idea of that exposé," she said deliberately.
She could tell she'd struck a nerve. John tensed next to her and he turned slowly, one eyebrow raised in question. "Sorry?"
"Ohhhh," she said, feigning apology as she clapped her hand over her mouth. "I guess she didn't tell you..."
"Exposé?" he asked slowly.
"Why would she have done that?" Reinette mused innocently. "Unless...well...maybe she didn't give up on the idea?"
John didn't reply but his face had grown cold, his eyes were dark, and his mouth drawn so tight that she could barely see his beautiful, pouty lips.
"You two should talk," Reinette told him softly, squeezing his arm. She dug a pen out of her purse and scribbled her mobile number on a napkin. "I'm here...if you need anything, okay?"
John didn't pay her any attention. Instead, he pushed off the bar and was striding over to where Jack and Rose were putting on some kind of ridiculous dance. His movements were so quick that Reinette actually jumped back a bit in surprise. As he approached the pair, she watched with barely-contained glee as Rose's face lit up briefly at the sight of him before furrowing in concern at his expression.
"Ooh, trouble in paradise," a familiar voice next to her said gently.
Reinette reluctantly turned her head away from the show and smiled at Adam. "I suppose."
"You, ah...wanna get out of here?"
Reinette turned back to John and Rose, both of them looking tense and strained. He grabbed her by the elbow and glanced around, leading her out of the pub through a side door. It seemed she was going to miss the show anyway, and there was no real reason to stay anymore. Reinette turned to Adam and gave him a slow, seductive smile as she reached over to take hold of his arm.
"I think that sounds like a lovely idea."
Rose whooped as her dart hit the board, far away from the target but at least it wasn't the wall...or a person. She turned around to face Jack and they high-fived, grinning like loons and proceeded to do the funky little victory dance they'd choreographed nearly a month before.
She was mid-spin when she saw John coming towards them. Her face automatically broke out into a grin at the sight of him, but she felt her heart start to pound out a panicked rhythm once she registered his expression. His eyes were dark, his brow furrowed, his mouth pulled tight. He looked furious.
"John," she asked, moving towards him. "What's happened, what's wrong?"
"We need to talk," he said, grasping onto her elbow.
"Okay," she said as he guided her out of a side exit into the humid summer night. The streets were full of people enjoying the warm summer weather, and he had to tug her practically into an alley to get a little bit of privacy.
He dropped her arm immediately and turned away from her, shoulders tense as he took in a deep, shuddering breath. Rose was beginning to panic. She had no idea what could have happened in the time between when she and Jack had gone to play darts and they'd exited the pub to make him feel this way, and she was desperate to know so she could work on making it better.
"John," she murmured softly, stepping forward and placing a hand gently on his shoulder.
"Don't," he snapped, shrugging away and spinning around to face her. His expression was thunderous. "Don't use any more of your investigative tactics on me."
Rose blinked, confused. "What are you talking about?"
"Is this all we were?" he gestured between them, his eyes looking suspiciously damp. "Everything we've shared, everything we've done? You were only with me to get all the juicy details for your exposé?"
Rose felt her jaw drop and all of the blood drain from her face. Her hands began to shake. How had he found out?
"John, it's not what you think..."
"What is it then, Rose?" he barreled on, voice rising. "You told me you wanted to be a reporter, I just didn't realize it was going to happen like this. So, what, now that you've got everything you need are you just going to turn around and stab us all in the back?"
"It's not like that!" she protested, following him as he paced. "The story hasn't been on the table for months! I won't deny that I was thinking about it in the beginning, before I really knew you, but I'd given up on it before anything happened between us, before we'd even kissed!"
"Why didn't you tell me about it then?" he asked, his voice hitching on the next words. "How can I trust you now? For all I know you've got a recorder going right now! You gonna tell the whole world about Jack, too? About Rory and Amy? How about what it's like to shag John Smith? Everyone is dying to know!"
"Listen to me!" she implored, practically screeching as she caught his arm and tugged him to face her. "I don't know what you heard but I swear, the story is gone! I've only been working on my assignment from Sarah Jane for over two months! I couldn't do it, John, not once I realized how much I lo-"
"No!" John cut her off and pulled his arm out of her grasp angrily, his voice thick with emotion. "You don't get to say that! Not ever! It doesn't mean anything, not from you."
"How can you say that?" Rose cried, the tears finally spilling over.
John stiffened. "Maybe because you're just one of many, Rose. One of many that we thought we could trust and who only wanted us for their own gain. Well done you, though, no one else has gotten me into bed before. Keep this up and you'll end up with a Pulitzer some day."
His icy words cut through her chest. The physical blow was so intense that she actually had to grasp at her chest to attempt to alleviate some of the pain. She'd never before realized just how badly words could hurt, but they did, so much that she nearly had to gasp for air.
"John," she pleaded, turning her watery gaze on his once more. "Please, listen to me..."
"I think I've listened to enough these past few months," he snapped. "I'm done listening. Enjoy your success."
He turned and walked down the street, ignoring Rose sobbing his name, pleading with him to come back. When he finally turned a corner and was out of sight, Rose broke down. She leaned against the brick wall behind her and couldn't keep herself upright any longer. She felt the fabric of her shirt scrape against the rough surface, as she slid to the ground, letting everything out until there was nothing left.