The First Meeting

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Rose Tyler groaned. He was supposed to have met her at this exact spot an hour ago. She swore he did this on purpose. No doubt he'd be off having an amazing time in some futuristic party on an alien world whilst she was stuck in present-day Ireland investigating a possible alien takeover. And it was raining. Still. Suddenly she started to worry. He'd never been gone THIS long without warning. For all she knew, he could be literally seconds away from death. It's like the Doctor always said; he didn't go looking for trouble, it just always seemed to find him. She spotted a dark-haired girl leaning on an old-fashioned looking car, reading a magazine. She'd probably seen nothing, but it had to be worth a try. Rose strode over, trying to remain calm.

"Excuse me? I don't suppose you've seen my friend?" The girl looked up. Now Rose could see her face, she realised that the girl looked to be around 17, only two years younger than herself.

"Can't say I have, sorry. I'm actually looking for mine too. He's tall, wears smart suits, really skinny?" Rose's eyes lit up.

"Like, REALLY skinny? Like there's no meat on him at all?" The girl nodded happily.

"God yes! Does he have this habit of using A LOT of big words and talking really really fast, and then when you look confused he'll make fun of you and call you an idiot?" Rose beamed. This must've been the Doctor's informant. The girl grinned. "Where the hell have you been?" Rose span around and gasped. Yes, this man had the suit. Yes, this man had the Doctor's unnervingly slim physique. But what he also had was a bare skull where his face should've been.

"Good afternoon, my name is Skulduggery Pleasant. Please try not to throw up on my car." Rose flinched back in shock but quickly composed herself. She'd fought werewolves, living shop dummies, even the Daleks themselves. She wasn't going to let a walking skeleton freak her out. She held out her hand to greet this "Mr. Pleasant".

"Pleased to meet you, I'm-" Her sentence was cut short when she noticed the revolver in the skeleton's hand. The revolver that was aimed straight for her face. The dark-haired girl span furiously on her heel.

"Skulduggery, what the HELL are you doing?"

"The Sanctuary's on red alert for a certain blonde-haired Londoner, and after she escaped from England it only makes sense that Tanith Low would return here." Rose continued to look Pleasant straight in his eye sockets, and when she spoke it was with a calm tone.

"Look, I don't know who you think I am, but if this Tanith Low person is so wanted, she'd have to be pretty stupid to just saunter around like she owns the place."

"To be fair, that's more OUR thing," the girl piped up. "She's right, Tanith wouldn't wander around waiting to get caught. She'd be more underground. Literally if she's still with Sanguine." The girl shuddered at the mention of the name. Pleasant hesitated for a moment before holstering his weapon.

"My apologies. For a moment there I thought you were a friend of ours. Well,  I say 'friend', she WAS, but then she went and got possessed by an evil spirit and became an enemy, hence the whole 'almost shooting you' thing there. Are you alright? You don't seem incredibly phased by any of this." Rose gave a shrug.

"I've been doing a lot of travelling lately, seen some pretty strange things. Honestly, I doubt there's anything that could surprise me anymore." The dark-haired girl laughed.

"I started out like that. After 5 years of this you learn that there's always something you don't know, and you just roll with it." She held out her hand. "Valkyrie Cain. And you are?" Rose shook Valkyrie's hand.

"Rose Tyler. Look, I don't mean to be rude or anything, but are you two... Y'know... Human?" Valkyrie tilted her head in confusion and Rose flushed with embarassment. "Sorry! It's just with him being a skeleton I figured it must be difficult being out in public. How do you get around that by the way?" Valkyrie buried her face in her hands.

"Now you've done it..." she mumbled. "Any excuse to show off, he grabs it with both hands." Pleasant turned his skull to stare at her.

"I've told you before, I don't show off, I merely demonstrate my abilities when the opportunity presents itself." He turned back to Rose, peeling down the lapel of his shirt to reveal what looked like a tattoo etched into his neck. "You see, Miss Tyler, all I need to do is give this sigil a little press, and it'll temporarily give me the appearance of an ordinary human being. Skin, external organs, the full shebang. Like so."

He tapped the symbol, and instantly Rose could see skin spreading out over the bones. Two piercing blue eyes appeared in their sockets. Neatly trimmed nails grew at the ends of his fingers. Long, curly blonde hair sprouted from underneath his hat...

"Oh for God's sake..." muttered Pleasant, as Valkyrie dropped to the floor in fits of giggles. Because where Mr. Pleasant had stood not a minute before, there was now a curvaceous young blonde woman. "I swear, Sorrows has even more to answer for after this... Come along, Cain. We've been summoned to the Sanctuary."

"Right away, Skulduggerina." Valkyrie sniggered, clutching her side and wiping a tear of laughter from the corner of her eye. Pleasant scowled, an expression which, when contrasted with the beauty of his new face, only made Valkyrie laugh even more.

"Yeah, yeah, laugh it up Cain. Next time we're running from some hideous monster, I'll remember this and trip you." He turned to Rose. "You'd better get in too. We're supposed to have a very strict lockdown regarding overseas arrivals in our community at the minute, and it'll be so much less paperwork if WE bring you in."

"Bring me in? For what exactly? And what do you mean 'our community'? Either you tell me what the hell's going on, or I'll make a run for it and tell the police, and you have no chance of catching me in those heels." Valkyrie howled with laughter from the passenger seat of the car, and Skulduggery pinched the bridge of his nose between his fingertips.

"Look, we really don't have time to argue about this. We have an appointment to keep, and more urgently I need to get this face fixed before my colleague punctures a lung. We'll fill you in on the way. Coming?" Rose thought for a second before she nodded and got into the car. Skulduggery glared at Valkyrie before sliding into the driver's seat. Rose tapped him on the shoulder lightly.

"Just one quick question? Do you have a button for outfits too? That top really isn't working for you."

Skulduggery remained deathly silent, while Valkyrie began struggling to catch her breath for laughing too hard.

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