Disclaimer: Not mine, the BBC's. I'm just playing.
After two-and-a-half hours of wandering around, Rose's confidence is waning, giving way to desperation. It's all these canals and bridges. She's not used to a city where she has to cross a bridge just to get across the main street, so to speak. And all the back alleys look alike, all horrible. Now she really wishes she had paid more attention to the way she was going this afternoon. But she is so used to having the Doctor around to point the way for her, it never even occurred to her. No matter how thoroughly lost she got, the Doctor would be there to take her by the hand and drag her back to the TARDIS. And if not the Doctor, then Jack.
Oh God, they really are gone. Surrendering her frantic search for the TARDIS, she sinks down on a conveniently placed stone bench. Now the full impact of whatever happened at the Game Station hits. It's not just the Doctor who's gone. She hasn't seen Jack either, not since that goodbye kiss. And there is just no way the Doctor would have left Jack behind if he were still alive, not even if the Doctor did happen to be dying himself at the time. So, no more Doctor, no more Jack, and she manages to get herself utterly lost a hundred and fifty years from the earliest flight home.
She fights the tears at first, but inexorably they come. Soon, she is sobbing so hard she doesn't even notice someone sitting down beside her. The first time she becomes aware that there is indeed someone else present is when long, elegant fingers prise her handkerchief out of her hands and use it to delicately mop up the tears from her face.
"There, that's much better. We can't have such a beauty as yours crying in public, now can we?" The voice sounds somewhat familiar, but with her eyes still full of tears, Rose can't see who her benefactor is. She does notice a red blur from a sleeve as her fan is also plucked from her hands and a purple blotch when it is folded open. She closes her eyes to enjoy the fresh air being wafted over her skin.
The voice continues. "In fact, it would be even better if you never needed to cry at all. What upset you so much?"
Rose opens her eyes. The tears have cleared away enough that she can now see who is paying her all the attention. Oh, but this is just too much. The usurper has found her, and he seems to think changing his clothes and showing concern now is going to make everything okay. Never mind that he let her wander all over Venice for hours, probably just waiting for her to break out in tears so he could swoop in and play the gentleman. Rose just manages to resist the urge to slap him, but she doesn't even try to disguise the frosty tone in her voice. "You took your bloody time, didn't you?"
The man's eyebrows rise, one after the other, transforming the look of concern into one of shock. But then his sky-blue eyes acquire a mischievous glint and he starts grinning. The resulting expression on the stranger's face is one Rose has only seen before on Jack Harkness at his most outrageous.
Now she does slap him. How dare he: not only has he taken her Doctor's place, but now he's trying to be Jack. Things just can't be more wrong than that. Somewhere in the background someone makes a noise of outrage. The man sitting next to her takes the slap about as well as the Doctor took the one her mother dealt him. Typical. She turns away from him, determined not to speak to him again, even if it does mean she'll be stuck in Venice in the 1750's.
But the stranger is not going to give up that easily. She feels a warm hand lightly touch her shoulder. "What's that all about, then?" he asks. When she doesn't deign to reply to his question, the stranger continues. "Come on, you can talk to Giac…"
Jack? Rose almost shouts out the name as she looks up and around trying to find him. No such luck. The small square is deserted apart from her, the stranger and a black man in a blue suit, standing at a discrete distance. So she asks. "Where?"
"Right here." The stranger gets up from the stone bench and after some flourishes with his arms and legs Rose can't quite follow, ends up in a deep bow, right hand extended towards her. "Giacomo Casanova, at your service." She lays her hand into his and he kisses it, very gently. "My friends call me Giac."
Casanova? Wasn't that one of the great seducers in literature? Has the usurper managed to throw them into a fictional world? No, wait, one of them had been real, hadn't he? She thought that was Don Juan, but apparently it was Casanova that really existed. Exists, at this point in time. Oh God, and she slapped him! That thought, and the memory of the look on his face, makes her giggle.
This also brings back the grin on Casanova's face. "Much better. You should do that all the time." He pulls on her hand, drawing her to her feet. He applies slightly too much force, so that she overbalances, and he catches her around the waist. But instead of taking advantage of that situation, as she fully expects him to do, he immediately puts her back on her feet and lets go. "Oops. Sorry."
She smiles at his apologetic grin. "That's okay. I should be apologising, anyway."
He shrugs. "I've been treated worse." The mischievous glint in his eyes returns. "Though not usually at the first meeting, I admit, at least not by a lady." Her eyes lock with his, and there is a long moment when neither of them speaks. During that time, the slight smirk on Casanova's face grows into a full smile. Then he asks: "Since there's nobody around who can introduce me to you, may I be so bold as to ask your name?"
"Tyler… That doesn't sound Italian. Where are you from, golden Rose?"
"I've come a long way." She certainly had, in more ways than one. "But I'm from London, in England."
One of Casanova's eyebrows rises again as he smiles in anticipation. Then he says something, and for the first time, Rose can't understand a word he's saying. "What was that?"
"'A Rose by any other name would smell as sweet.' That's from one of your famous writers, isn't it?" The frown that appears on his face is identical to the one on the usurper's face when he saw her in the dress she's now wearing. "Couldn't you understand that?"
He's spoken English? But they'd been speaking English all this time… So why hadn't she understood that, when everything else had been completely clear? Ah, because Casanova, at least, isn't speaking English. She's just hearing it as such. The TARDIS is still translating for her, and because Casanova's Shakespeare quote was in English, even if horribly accented, she heard it the way it was said. It's quite a comfort to know that the TARDIS is still here. She isn't stranded permanently. Yet.
But the young man in front of her is still staring at her inquisitively. She has to say something, at least. She forms a smile. "Your accent needs some work."
He smiles back. "Well, maybe you can help me with it." With a wink, he presents her with his elbow. "I'm getting tired of standing here. Shall we take a walk?"
She lays her arm over his and he pulls it in snugly, like the Doctor did in Cardiff. But as soon as they start walking, they fall out of step. Casanova mutters under his breath to correct her pace. Instead of her purposeful stride, Rose is soon gliding along on his arm. Her graceful gait is only interrupted by the occasional stumble as she stubs her toe on a wayward cobble. Casanova seems to find it amusing.
"So what brings you here, then?"
What to tell this young charmer about that? She can't bloody well tell him she came here in a time machine. "We're travellers, on our way to Barcelona. We had to make an unscheduled stop here, so I wanted to see the sights." This was entirely true, in a way.
"Your wish is my command. Shall we go this way, then?"
As Casanova guides her around the corner, Rose notices that the black man who'd been in the square is now following them. Casanova sees her looking over her shoulder and asks what's wrong. She tells him about the man following them and he looks behind them. When he sees who she means, he starts to laugh. "Of course he's following us." He calls out to the man. "Rocco, come over here." Voice extremely pompous, but humour still dancing in his eyes, he continues: "May I introduce my manservant, Rocco."
Rocco approaches. When he is close, he bows before her. "My lady." His expression when he looks at her is entirely neutral, but the one he directs at Casanova betrays some good-natured annoyance.
"Do you have to follow us like that?" Rose asks him.
Rocco shoots another glance at his master. "It would be the proper thing to do, miss." There is a strange sort of emphasis on that last word.
If Casanova has picked up on it, he's not letting on. "And Rocco is very adept at observing the proprieties in public," he says while winking at Rose, "so it would appear that he has to follow us, yes."
"Just ignore me, Miss Tyler."
If Rose is reading the exchange between these two correctly they are more than just servant and master. There is a friendship there as well. But still, it's a bit unnerving to have someone pacing them like that, silent but listening. Even if he does have the trust of her current companion. So for the next few minutes she is silent while Casanova plays tour guide. He must have noticed her reticence however, because he is soon regaling her more with stories from his own past than anecdotes about the streets they're walking through.
The stories remind Rose of Jack Harkness and his adventures with and without her and the Doctor, and after a while she is talking enthusiastically about them. Well, with a few adaptations so that time-travel doesn't enter into it, of course. Casanova listens to her with rapt attention, laughing and joking with her as the tall tale approaches its conclusion. He follows it with the tale of how he himself was dismissed from the seminary in Padua. But just as he's reaching the punchline, he interrupts himself. "Ah, here we are."
Rose looks around, seeing nothing special. Surrounding them are tall buildings, highly ornamented but seeming to have fallen into disrepair. The one they've stopped in front of towers over them, five stories into the air. "Where's here?"
"My home. The least I can do is offer you supper. You don't mind fish, do you?"