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Behold, the first story in a new series! This was inspired by [livejournal.com profile] then_theres_uss Challenge #91: AU., and this photo prompt  This will not be the last. This story has eaten my brain, and I have many, many ideas for it, so I hope you read it and enjoy.
Title: As The World Falls Down
Genre: Romance, Adventure, Mystery
Pairing: 9/Rose, other special guests
Rating: Teen
Summary: Rose Tyler rarely speaks. She is invisible. One day, she decides to take a walk down a tree-lined road to meet the madman that lives at the other end.
Author's notes: Yes, this messes with canon a bit. It is an AU. If you don't want canon tinkering, don't read AU.
This story would never have come to be without the help of the greatest betas in the world: [livejournal.com profile] kelkat9[livejournal.com profile] onabearskinrug and [livejournal.com profile] who_in_whoville

“They say a madman lives at the end of that road,” Jackie Tyler said, shifting her burden to her other shoulder. “Don’t never go down there, my Rose, whatever you do.” She said it every time they passed that way, and had done for as long as Rose could remember.
Rose, a nineteen year old spinster with calloused hands and little left of the light she’d once had in her youthful eyes, followed her mother in silence, dragging a burlap sack of washing behind her. She paused to stare down the mist-shrouded boulevard. Lined on either side by immaculately and identically pruned trees, the road ended in a bank of fog that gave it the impression of stretching on into infinity. The trees were squared at the edges, making them look like two rows of rectangular boxes standing on stalks, as if the owner of the road were growing a crop of boxes waiting to be harvested. In her life, she had never known a time when the fog among the trees had lifted, or even thinned.
More than anything, Rose Tyler wanted to walk down that road to see where it led.
Rose could not remember the last time she’d spoken a full sentence out loud. There wasn’t much need for speaking when her mother took up all the silence with her own endless chatter. It wasn’t that she minded; the sound was mostly comforting and it took the pressure off Rose to try to come up with something clever to say. She had so many thoughts in her head most of the time it was hard to wend her way through the maze of ideas to get to her mouth in time to properly answer someone who had spoken to her. As a result, most of the villagers dismissed her as a trifle thick at best; pitiably slow at worst. She didn’t mind as, for the most part, she felt the same way about them.
She and her mother lived in a small but cozy cottage not far from the center of the village. It was partially constructed from the ruins of what had once been something called “Mr. Foo’ Chine Takeaw,” according to the fractured remnants of the sign over the door. Rose’s bed, the sum of her sanctuary in the world, resided in a corner made from the junction of a faded red tile wall and a newer wall made of wattle-and-daub with bits of straw poking through the long-dried mud. There was a faded bamboo scroll hanging on the red tile over her bed, lauding the virtues of pairing Tsingtao beer with General Tso’s Chicken. Rose had stared at the scroll for endless stretches of time as a young girl, wondering not only what the flavors might taste like together, but what sort of world it had been when things like the taste of food mattered enough to be boasted about on bamboo scrolls.
They made a fair living taking in the washing and mending for the other villagers. London was a small village; mostly mud, clumps of shattered concrete and the ruins of buildings destroyed in the Great Cataclysm, but it was getting bigger every day, as people came out of hiding in the countryside to return to what had once been the major cities of the Earth. Rose was not all that enthused at the prospect of more neighbors. It would mean more work to do, and more people to regard her as in some way lacking. If they regarded her at all.
“Look at this,” Jackie said as she opened one of her bundles. “I’m not sure what Mrs. Lamson thinks I can do to fix this, but I’m not a bloody miracle worker.” She shook out a slightly charred blouse made of nubby homespun flannel. “’Grease spot’ my aunt’s fanny. She used this to put out a grease fire, more like.”
“What sort of madman?” Rose asked, setting her bundle down on the cracked tile floor.
Jackie was so startled by Rose’s pronunciation of a whole sentence she dropped the shirt she was holding. “How’s that?”
“The madman at the end of the road,” Rose said. “What’s mad about him?”
Jackie shrugged and went back to her work. “Everything.”
That was her mother’s way of saying she had no idea. Rose just nodded in agreement and went back to her own bundle, choosing as was her usual custom to keep the remainder of her thoughts to herself, where they couldn’t get trampled. Jackie changed the subject back to Mrs. Lamson’s carelessness with cooking fires and Rose nodded at all the right times, her mind fixed on the fog-shrouded road and the madman at the end of it.
If the people in the village dismissed her as thick and slow, when she knew she was anything but, it stood to reason that someone the village dismissed as a madman might be the only person in all of London worth knowing. Of course, there was always the possibility that he was indeed a madman, in which case it would be wise to steer clear of him just as her mother suggested. Of course, her mother also suggested that if she walked backwards down the street on a moonless night and held a mirror over her shoulder, when she tripped and fell over something she’d be able to see the face of her destined true love in the mirror, so Rose knew to take her advice with a grain, or often a pound, of salt. By the time she started work on her third shirt, she had made up her mind; she would be walking down the tree-lined road towards the bank of immovable fog before the sun went down that day.
Some people are made for adventure; they want it deep in their bones, and they want it badly enough that they are willing to do whatever needs to be done to make their lives extraordinary. Some people want adventure, but they want it to come to them, snatch them by the hand and drag them along for the ride, and they’re willing to wait possibly their whole lives for that moment to come. Other people might claim they want adventure, but when presented with the opportunity, find that there is something in themselves that is sorely lacking. Rose didn’t know which of those three she was as she stood at the end of the tree-lined boulevard, the light from the setting sun painting her satchel and the bits of blonde hair that poked out from under her dingy knit cap a deep coral pink, but she knew she would have an answer by the time she reached the end of the road.
Walking down a road alone did not seem unto itself all that bold a move, but it was the boldest thing she had ever done. She hadn’t left her mother a note, but had waited until Jackie left to drop off some of their finished work to throw a change of clothes, a hunk of cheese, some deer jerky and a skin of water into a satchel, slip on her most comfortable boots and her warmest jacket and head out the door. They had never detached the bell on the front door to their cottage, which had once been the entrance to Mr. Foo’ Chine Takeaw, because Jackie claimed that in the days before the Cataclysm, bells on doors had been religious in nature, signifying blessings ringing out over the person who passed through the doorway. Rose had never put much stock in the bell, but as she passed through the door for what she knew might possibly be the last time, she was comforted by its cheery, jangling song.
She lingered a few moments at the end of the boulevard. The end of the road was, as always, indiscernible in the gray bank of fog. It was a simple walk down a simple road. Why did it feel as if this were the most important moment of her life so far? Perhaps it was. Perhaps this was the end of her days of wondering, and the beginning of her days of taking action. The day the spinster became the adventurer, and never went back. Either that, or it was the day Rose Tyler walked down the wrong road and was murdered by the maniac waiting at the other end. Whatever was at the end of the road, it wasn’t another bundle of shirts and another moment of her worthless, workaday life. That alone made it worth the risk.
The trees were spaced exactly nine Rose-steps apart, on both sides of the road. It was hard to imagine that someone who was dangerously insane would bother to space trees so neatly. Or, perhaps it was the most perfect hallmark of someone dangerously insane; who else would bother to be so precise? She walked along, counting nine steps from one pair of trees to the next, until the fog began to thicken at her feet. She walked onward, becoming more convinced that there was something wrong with her mind as the fog made its way from her feet to her ankles and up to her knees. Any rational person would have turned around and run for home by the time the fog reached her waist and, a few steps later, consumed her. Still, onward she went, further into the fog, until she could no longer see the trees on either side of the boulevard, or anything in front of or behind her. Her heart sped up but she kept herself calm by counting sets of nine steps over and over, reminding herself that every time she got to nine, there were trees on either side of her.
She would not let the fear get to her.
She would not be one of those people who longed for adventure, only to find that they weren’t up for the challenge when the adventure presented itself. She couldn’t see a damn thing, and had gone from walking to sort of gingerly shuffling, afraid to step on some unseen obstacle and fall on her face.
She should go home. She should turn right around and go back. The fog was sitting right on her eyes. This was a stupid idea, and once she was back in her house and in her bed, under her quilt, she would feel a lot better. It was all right to be lacking. The whole world was lacking. Why couldn’t she stop going forward?
Rose screamed and jumped backward. The voice had come from somewhere near her feet.

Date: 2011-12-19 03:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] who-in-whoville.livejournal.com
No words are necessary for how excited I am for this story, so I give you this:

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Date: 2011-12-19 03:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] timelord1.livejournal.com
I just love you, just so's you know. :) Thank you! :)

Date: 2011-12-19 03:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bloose09.livejournal.com
I really like the way you have set up the world this story takes place in. You have done a wonderful job of describing just how oppressive a life Rose is living. The descriptive details set the tone perfectly.

This paragraph stood out for me. The feeling of being on the cusp of some great moment of self discovery.
...Perhaps this was the end of her days of wondering, and the beginning of her days of taking action. The day the spinster became the adventurer, and never went back. Either that, or it was the day Rose Tyler walked down the wrong road and was murdered by the maniac waiting at the other end. Whatever was at the end of the road, it wasn’t another bundle of shirts and another moment of her worthless, workaday life. That alone made it worth the risk.

Time for ch.2!

Date: 2011-12-19 03:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] timelord1.livejournal.com
Why thank you!! :) I'm usually not so heavy on the world-building, so I'm glad that it came across well. Hope you enjoy the story as it unfolds...I cranked this out in a matter of days, so I'm a bit buggy and worn out now, so if this comment makes no sense, blame the writing hangover. lol

Thank you!!! :)

Date: 2011-12-19 12:31 pm (UTC)
annissamazing: Ten's red Chucks (Default)
From: [personal profile] annissamazing
Ok, so I saw that you'd posted several chapters of this last night, and I was ridiculously excited to see more fic from you (AND THE TITLE!), but I wanted to have some uninterrupted time to read it, so I'm starting now.

Wow! That was a big run-on sentence! :D


I *love* the AU you've set up here. The small village in the ruins of London. The cottage/former Chinese restaurant. The bell having religious significance. A 19 year old spinster! Wonderful world building!

I love how you've set up Rose's character: so clever that other people think her daft. I also love how you've described her bravery. She wants adventure so much she's going to do this thing she's been warned against all her life. I love how she's aware that nobody really knows what's down that road, so she's going to find out.

A fantastic start! I can't wait to read the rest! Oh, look! There's chapter 2!

Date: 2011-12-20 03:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kelkat9.livejournal.com
Finally getting to this! Well, you know I love the first part. It just tickles me that they live in an old chinese restaurant.

Date: 2011-12-20 06:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] timelord1.livejournal.com
LOL me too!! :) I should have gone more into detail, but in the time it's been since that place was a Chinese restaurant most of the stuff I would have described (plastic jade-looking lions, paper parasols) all would have rotted away, so I guess it was okay... :)

Date: 2011-12-21 08:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] srcstcrocker.livejournal.com
You know, I'm not usually one for AU, but you might make me a convert! The mysterious, dreamy quality of the writing, the Chinese takeaway house, the mad man down the road - all are reminiscent of a fairy tale (the creepy "into the misty forest" kind - my favorite.)

Also, I love Rose's character so far: "As a result, most of the villagers dismissed her as a trifle thick at best; pitiably slow at worst. She didn’t mind as, for the most part, she felt the same way about them." Ha!

Can't wait to read the rest!

Date: 2011-12-21 02:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] timelord1.livejournal.com
Thank you! :) Especially thanks for taking a chance on it, as you say you're not an AU fan!! :) I hope you enjoy the rest of the story!!!

Date: 2011-12-23 04:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wander-realtai.livejournal.com
Oh, wow! I finally got the chance to sit down and start reading this. I'm already hooked!! I really love the voice of your prose in this piece; it's elegant yet straightforward with a touch of classicism.

Date: 2011-12-23 05:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] timelord1.livejournal.com
Thank you! :) Glad you like it - I hope it proves to be inspiring. :D


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