Under the Mistletoe Moon
Chapter Six: A Promise
Disclaimer: Still don't own Doctor who and gain no income from this story.
Rose stepped out of Astra's TARDIS onto a thin layer of fresh snow. Around her a soft breeze was a twirling falling snow around her and Rose could hear Christmas carols echoing down the alleyway. She moved away from the TARDIS and looked up into the sky. Grey clouds had rolled in, but she could just see an intact moon overhead and no sign of the ship. Breathing out a sigh of relief, Rose smirked to herself as she wondered just how quickly Prince Hubert had run with his tail between his legs.
The Doctor stepped out behind her and looked up at the sky with a small satisfied nod. Then he looked back over his shoulder into Astra's TARDIS where she was checking the main column and adjusting the controls.
"Doctor?" Rose called softly.
"It's a bit of a shock," the Doctor admitted with a rather forced chuckle. "Imagine us having a child." He coughed lightly as Astra puttered around in her console room, the door still open. "Suppose it will complicate things a bit."
"Kids do that," Rose agreed carefully, glancing towards Astra. "But we'll manage. We may have to adjust things a bit; I could stay in the TARDIS with her until she's old enough during trouble. We'll work something out."
There was a shadow in his expression. Rose couldn't quite read it as he watched Astra before he turned to look at her. "Still hard to believe that I become a father again," the Doctor told her. "I guess it means that you'll stick around."
And there it was. Rose fought back a flinch as she took in the skittish words, feeling a blend of dread and sorrow churning in her stomach.
"Doctor," Rose groaned and then sighed loudly. "Why can't you believe me?" she questioned weakly, letting her hands fall to her side.
"I do believe in you Rose Tyler," the Doctor rushed to assure her, reaching out and cupping her face. "Trust me. You are the thing I believe in most in this and any other universe."
"I know you believe in me," Rose whispered in return, tilting her head and kissing his hand. "But Doctor I'm asking you to believe me." He frowned in confusion and Rose sighed. "I promised you several years ago, on Christmas no less that I wasn't going to give up on us." She fixed her brown eyes on him and intoned, "I made my choice a long time ago and I'm never going to leave you." Raising a hand, Rose set it on the Doctor's chest between his hearts. "Even if I'm not right beside you, even if events separate us it will always be temporary. It will pass because I will always come back to you."
"Rose- it hasn't- it won't- once I… and you-"
"We'll have problems," Rose continued with a nod. "You're a thousand years older than me and a different species from a very different culture. Of course, we'll have problems, but here's the thing Doctor: I'm permanent. I have been, am and will be a part of your life always. Since the moment you first met me in Rome in your first body until the last. I am a part of your life."
"I know that," he replied softly.
"No you don't," Rose insisted with a pained look, shaking her head and moving closer to him. "Which is why you need to listen right now. Yes, we've been separated, but who we are means that we stayed together through my younger self. That's who we are. I meet you again and again in your past because that's who we are. We will be together again, living and traveling together again soon. We will have a family together and will raise up a new generation of universe-saving Time Lords." Rose looked him right in the eyes and told him, "I am permanent Doctor. Believe me when I say that. Don't believe in me, believe me."
She breathed out slowly, filling a weight slipping off her chest. Looking into his brown eyes Rose could feel her heart thrumming almost painfully. It was as always staggering what she felt for this madman who dashed around the universe in his blue box, but now…
The Doctor was staring at her as if he'd never seen her before. Rose pushed down the hint of anger that was warring with despair. As much as he loved her, the knowledge that on some level he'd always expected- still was bracing himself…. It was a horrible realization. Then she saw a hint of tears in his eye as he brought a hand up to caress her cheek. Rose felt a tear running down her cheek before the Doctor's thumb brushed it.
"Rose…." He stopped himself and swallowed before he leaned over to next to her ear. Then he whispered a long melodic word that rolled off his tongue and burned itself into her mind. Rose gasped softly, suddenly certain that she'd be able to recite the strange series of sounds at any moment. She raised her eyes to the Doctor's. "That's my name," he whispered with a soft blush on his cheeks. "I've… written it down before on notes to you, but well… that's my name."
"Oh…" was all that Rose could manage, the name singing in her mind.
"I can only tell someone that when I marry them," the Doctor whispered. "So Rose Marion Tyler will you marry me?"
"Doctor," Rose breathed in surprise.
"When you return from wherever you are now of course," the Doctor added in a nervous rush. "We don't have to worry about it now, but-"
"Yes, you daft Time Lord," Rose laughed softly. "I'll marry you."
Grinning, the Doctor leaned down and kissed her. Time fell away, twisting and spinning away from them as Rose lost herself in this blissful reality. Then the Doctor slowly released her lips and Rose became aware of the Christmas carols playing in the street around them. Astra was watching them with a red face, but a silly happy smile on her face. Rose finally recognized that smile as her own and her heart flipped over in her chest.
"There Rose Tyler," the Doctor sighed with a widening smile. "You're the woman who is going to marry me."
"Bit out of order," Rose chuckled.
"When do we ever do anything in order?"
"You do realize this means that I'm going to be your fiancé the moment I start traveling with you," Rose pointed out, watching an odd expression cross the Doctor's face and barely holding back a giggle. "How does that make you feel?"
"Every much the idiot Jack always said I was," the Doctor admitted, kissing her forehead. "And to think I thought that my feelings would pass."
"Nope," Rose retorted with a grin. "I'm permanent."
"Yes," the Doctor agreed softly, a look of awe on his face. "Yes Rose, you are. I believe that." He kept his hand on her lower back, just holding her gently and Rose allowed herself to bask in his presence.
Astra was watching them with a soft serene smile, looking very much like everything was right in her world. Rose supposed that indeed it was and her heart felt like she could start floating at any moment. Then the moment passed and the young Time Lady suddenly perked up. A look of realization flickered across her face and a different sort of smile appeared on her face.
"Just hold on a moment," Astra said in a rush before vanishing back into her TARDIS.
Rose glanced at the Doctor and shrugged. She reached over and took his hand, squeezing it gently. There was a strange sad expression on his face as he looked after Astra and wondered just what was going through his head. The silence in his head after connecting with his own future child…. She moved closer to him and rest her head against his arm.
"Here it is," Astra announced as she came out of her TARDIS panting slightly and holding a black violin case. She held it out to Rose in both hands with a wide smile. "Happy Christmas."
"Oh…" Rose whispered as she reached out with one hand and opened the case carefully. Inside, nestled in purple lining was a violin made of dark rich wood with golden detail work. She carefully lifted the violin out of the case and inspected the sides, giggling when she found a rose and vines decoration in gold running around it. "Wow," Rose breathed, feeling a strange and unfamiliar itch in her fingers.
"It's my Mum's," Astra explained softly. "Helped a violin maker last month and he offered it to me and I recognized it." She chuckled and glanced at the Doctor who smiled and shook his head. "Promised myself I'd give it to you next time I saw you."
"I'm a bit out of practice," Rose laughed as she inspected the instrument. It felt strong, yet delicate in her hands and before she really thought it through, she'd brought the instrument up to her chin and plucked the strings carefully. "Given that I've never played the violin with this body."
The Doctor and Astra laughed and Rose closed her eyes, shaking her head at herself. These were conversations she just couldn't have with normal people yet completely made sense with her Time Lord family. Astra looked down at the bow and the Doctor was looking at her expectantly.
"I've only played around on the piano since I got those memories," Rose protested, recalling all the hours of practice that the other Rose Tyler had put into her music. "I haven't tried the violin yet."
"Trust me you'll master it in no time," Astra assured her.
To humor them, Rose gently ran the bow over the strings basking in the smooth rich sound that filled the air. The Doctor smiled at her and his shoulder eased in relief. Rose met his eyes and gently played a few cords of Silent Night. Her fingers moved over the strings and seemed to know just the right amount of pressure. It wasn't easy and Rose bit her lower lip as her pointer finger slipped a little off the mark, but she made it through the song and blushed when the Doctor gave her a boyish grin.
"Lovely," he told her and Astra nodded in agreement.
"It was alright," Rose replied as she lowered the violin and placed it carefully in the case. "I need more practice." She held up her hand and wiggled her fingers. "Need to get these hands used to it."
"And I have something for you too Daddy," Astra announced, reaching into her pocket and pulling out a thick old-fashioned sort of envelope.
The Doctor took it with a quizzical look as Rose gently repacked the violin case and held it in front of her. Rose watched him as he quickly opened the envelope, eyeing Astra who just smiled serenely at him. Inside there was a piece of paper made of the same thick paper which the Doctor unfolded.
"Time-space coordinates?" the Doctor asked as he examined the series of circular marks that Rose recognized as Gallifreyan.
"Yeah, to someplace and time that I think you're ready to go to," Astra replied with a widening smile and a pointed look at Rose.
"Rose?" the Doctor breathed, his expression brightening and Rose reminded herself that it really was her putting that look on his face. "You mean-"
"I would suggest getting some rest first even if I know you won't," Astra laughed, but she nodded. "But yes Daddy, Happy Christmas. Just don't forget to pick up Aunt Donna first."
"I thought you weren't expecting us here," Rose gasped as she looked back at Astra, giving the Doctor a moment to catch his breath.
"I didn't know the time and place this would happen," Astra replied, her eyes moving between them. "But I've had the envelope for a while now."
"Are you sure?" the Doctor pressed his future daughter; about what Rose wasn't completely sure.
"Please Daddy give me some credit," Astra pouted slightly though she couldn't hold her smirk back for long. "I am a Time Lady."
The Doctor gaped at her, the look of utter shock back on his face. Astra's smile softened and she stepped over to Rose, opening her arms and Rose stepped forward to hug her. She placed her free hand on the back of her daughter's back and felt the faint double heartbeat, wondering once again how she'd ever missed it. Astra let Rose hold for a long moment as the Doctor watched in stunned silence before Rose released her. Astra looked back at her father before moving forward and giving him a quick hug. The Doctor automatically returned it and Astra chuckled warmly at him, leaning up to kiss his cheek quickly.
"Happy Christmas Mummy and Daddy," Astra said once again as she moved away from the Doctor. She gave Rose a warm look and waved a little before snapping her fingers. The doors of her TARDIS opened and Astra giggled at the look on her father's face. "See you down the timeline."
With that Astra vanished into her TARDIS. Rose shifted the violin case and stepped over to the Doctor. Taking his hand, Rose stood there next to him in silence as the familiar song of a TARDIS filled the alley and Astra's TARDIS vanished. She looked over at the Doctor only to find a vulnerable look on his face. Rose leaned against his shoulder, keeping her fingers tightly entwined.
After some time, the Doctor finally started moving again. He kept a tight hold of Rose's hand while still grasping the paper that Astra had given him in his other hand. The Doctor led Rose out of the alley and back to the square. The celebrations were still going on, though muted, but seemed to be regaining energy as the people realized that the danger had passed. She glanced around to take everything in, but the Doctor still seemed to be in a trance. Soon enough they were back at the TARDIS and with a frown, the Doctor paused and snapped his fingers. The doors of the TARDIS swung open and he chuckled softly while Rose wondered why Astra had even bothered with her key before. Perhaps so as not to overwhelm her father all at once.
They stepped inside and the Doctor exhaled slowly. Rose gently set the violin case down by the door and noted that the Doctor wasn't moving to take off his coat. Instead, he kept hold of her hand as he moved up to the console. He placed the paper with the coordinates down on the console by the monitor and stared at it in silence for a long moment. Then he released her hand and it fell limply to her side. Taking a deep breath, Rose straightened up as the Doctor turned to face her.
"It's time," Rose told him softly with a nod. "I'll miss you of course," she assured him with a soft laugh. "But… this is my last year on Earth. I'm finishing school and hopefully easing UNIT out of depending on me." She held out her hand to him and breathed, "Forwards."
"Forwards," the Doctor agreed, squeezing her hand. "Happy Christmas, Rose."
"Happy Christmas," Rose returned before stepping up to the Doctor and leaning up to breathe his real name into his ear.
The Doctor released her hand and wrapped his arm around her waist as he laughed and pulled down the lever, sending them into the vortex and hurtling forward.