A/N: Well I'm back. I'm now a married woman and a member of the Temple Bar appreciation society (I went to Dublin on honeymoon and spent most of the time in the pub) But as promised I have a new story for you, bit of a change from my normal route so let me know what you think.
When Jackie's mother dies, leaving a shock fortune and a house in the Lake District, Rose thinks things are finally shaping up for them on Earth but strange occurrences in their new house makes even the Doctor question his beliefs in reality. Prior to School Reunion as Mickey is still in Jackie's dimension so spoilers until there.
I own absolutely nothing!
Chapter 1: Sad News
Forty-eight Bucknall House was as silent as the rest of the estate as the street lamp illuminated night of London wrapped a sleepy blanket around the restless city. The stars were veiled by the thin layer of smog that had gathered during the recent hot weather, July proving to be hotter and more consuming every year. The only sounds were the occasional blare of police sirens as they raced through the streets or the screaming yelp of a fox as he foraged in the bins for scraps to leave laying on the floor. Bucknall House stood in all its concrete and metal glory, one of the many high rises South of the river that didn't have 'Luxury Apartments' written on a banner across its front like the ones erected north of the Thames but to Jackie Tyler it was home. Home however was now always too quiet even in the cold light of day. That's why Jackie Tyler slept fitfully in her large double bed, all too aware of the space beside her and the empty room across the hall that was still littered with possessions but devoid of any life.
People could say that after nearly two years she should have been used to living alone, used to the fact that her one and only daughter was travelling but people didn't know that travelling was a very loose term to apply to where Jackie Tyler's daughter had gone. Most mothers, when their daughters leave home, know exactly where they are, who they're with, when they'll next see them but for Jackie those facts would never be definite. How could you be confident in your daughter's return when all you knew was that she was in a space ship, with a man who claimed to be an alien, racing through Time and Space as if it was child's play? Jackie Tyler didn't know. Jackie Tyler worried daily that she would never again hear the now familiar rasp of the ancient time ship or, if she did, that only its pilot would step out, his now youthful appearance either ashen with sorrow or changed once more as he explained to her how her daughter had died a hero saving some planet a billion miles away that no one on Earth would ever hear of.
Jackie mumbled once more in her sleep as her legs thrashed out again, tangling in the thin sheet she had thrown over herself in the stifling summer heat. Sweat slicked her nightdress but not through the temperature alone. She called out her daughter's name, incoherently begging for her to stop, to think, to come home. She reached out her hand, groping in the darkness but gripping only thin air, her face set in the desperate look that only a mother can achieve when concerned for the welfare of her infant. She settled once more as the torturous dream seemed to pass, the only sound in her small flat being once again the gentle whirr of the fan on her bedside table and the even rhythm of her breathing, providing a pulse to the familiar cacophony of noise that made up the London night outside her window.
The comforting lull did not last long however as a shrill ringing, completely out of place in the world of three in the morning, echoed through the flat causing the startled groan that Jackie awoke with to be augmented with the thump and calls from next door as the sound filtered through the paper thin walls. Jackie groped blindly in the darkness for her phone, her subconscious rushing her as it related phone calls at this hour to only one person. Her hand closed around the small device that was currently racing across the dresser as it vibrated in time with the off key rendition of Für Elise. Her eyes were still to blurred from sleep, rendering her unable to read the caller identification, so she instinctively pressed down on the answer button and pulled the phone to her ear.
"Hello?" she said, coughing as her voice came out laced with the final traces of sleep, "Who is it?"
She asked the question out of custom but always knew the reply, perhaps that's why, as a familiar yet unexpected voice rang out at her, she sat more upright in bed and listened a little more intently into the phone.
"Jackie darling, its aunty Lynne," said the voice on the other end.
"Oh…hello," said Jackie, her brain refusing to co-operate with her mouth as she tried desperately to blink the sleep from her eyes, glancing at the clock beside her and only succeeding in adding to her confusion.
"I know it's a ridiculous hour and I'm sorry dear but I thought I should let you know as soon as possible," said Lynne, her voice laced with an emotion Jackie couldn't place, "I've just heard from the nursing home. I'm sorry dear, I'm afraid your mum has died."
"Oh," said Jackie again, unable to put any sentences together as the words slowly made their way into her rational mind, "Oh no, not mum."
"I'm so sorry darling, the nursing home called me a little while ago, I was going to wait until morning but I thought it best…well, you needed to know. The nurses were just doing their rounds and they found her, she'd died in her sleep, she wasn't in any pain at all," said Lynne, her voice barely concealing the sorrow she felt for the loss, "I can't talk long, your uncle John is inconsolable. Is Rose there with you?"
Despite her grief and tears Jackie kept her voice as even as possible, not wanting to worry her aunt about her being alone, "Yeah she is," she lied, "I'll…I'll call you in the morning Lynne. I just…I'm sorry."
"Its alright dear, I know it's a shock," said Lynne, shushing her as if she was still five rather than forty, "You just take care and we'll talk in the morning. Bye dear."
Jackie heard the phone hang up on the other end and silence returned to the room. Her mind raged with a thousand emotions that she couldn't place, not knowing whether to cry or scream or run all the way to the nursing home to see if it was true. She felt her heart alternate between hammering and barely functioning as she struggled to contain the hot flow of tears now coursing down her face. She wiped them away foolishly with her hand but to no avail. Finally, as the news sunk into her conscious mind, she did the only thing she could do. Burying her face in her pillow she let out a desperate, howling sob.
The Doctor balanced precariously along one of the ledges surrounding the main console, gripping on to the support beam with one arm as he free hand, manoeuvred the sonic screwdriver into the small access hatch before soldering together the wires before it. As the metals fused he heard a grateful beep from the console and laughed to himself.
"Yes, come on!" he cried, swinging himself down from the ledge and moving back to the main console, flicking switches and pressing buttons until the screen brought up what he wanted to see, "Perfect. See, told you I could do it. Now hopefully that means you won't be landing us in a peat bog next time. I wish you'd let me know when your systems go off line, my shoes really don't appreciate it."
He was answered by an indignant rasp but he merely stuck his nose in the air with a superior smile before running his fingers through his wild, dark hair and proceeding to fiddle with the console again. He hummed happily to himself, tapping his feet against the metal grating of the TARDIS floor, his song echoing in the enormous room around him, the cathedral like dome above him rebounding the sound to him a few seconds after it left his mouth. The buzz of the sonic screwdriver flared intermittently against the familiar hum of the engines as they floated in between times in the vortex, the large central column moving up and down gently, the only thing to indicate the still craft was in any form of flight. With no where to go the TARDIS refrained from its usual judders and shakes, resting itself and sympathetic towards the sleep patterns of her other occupant, the one not currently attempting to revert her secondary power source to the kitchen microwave.
A shower of golden sparks lit up the soft, eerie green light of the room and the Doctor stepped back with a half incredulous look before returning his sonic screwdriver to his pocket, being sure to wave it about in demonstration before doing so.
"I'm only stopping because I don't fancy landing on a planet without any air," he said, stuffing his hands into the pockets of his pinstripe trousers and scuffing his plimsolls on the floor. He heard the little pattern of beeps and raised an eyebrow fondly at his precious time machine, "Language!"
He pottered round the console, peering here and there for something to either fix or fiddle with. With his companion currently tucked up in bed after what even he had to admit was an impressive forty-eight hours without sleep as they had battled to prevent a race of weasel like creatures from blowing up a nearby solar system's Sun in order to power their brand new theme park, he had nothing to do. Knowing full well that if he tried to land anywhere the judder of the ship would wake his passenger and she'd be willing to go on an adventure only to force him to carry her home when she collapsed from exhaustion, he was at a loss.
He almost jumped as the unmistakeable strains of Tubular Bells rang out in the room. He shuddered, the sound always making him think of the dreadful movie Rose and Jack had made him watch one night in the TARDIS when he'd been in his old form. He searched for the location of the sound, picking the small denim jacket from the back of the captain's chair and plucking the offending black and silver phone from the breast pocket. 'Mum' flashed up in front of his eyes and he groaned, considering for a second on hanging up while at the same time cursing the fact that he'd ever performed any jiggery-pokery on the device. Something stilled his finger over the reject button and he pressed down on the small green, answer button.
"Hello Jackie," he said, his usual cheery voice somewhat more sing song as he tried to sound happy to hear from her.
"Is Rose there?" came the stuffy reply. The Doctor cursed silently. Jackie probably had a cold which meant they'd have to go to Earth while Rose played nurse maid and he'd end up having to sit in front of breakfast television for a week, the only thing remotely interesting being picking out which of the pop stars currently in the charts were actually aliens. Perhaps he could convince Jackie they were needed elsewhere.
"She's sleeping Jackie, I don't want to wake her," said the Doctor, "I'll tell her you called though."
The Doctor paused as he heard the distinct sound of sobbing from the other end of the line, he held the phone a little closer to his ear as if to confirm his own hearing.
"Jackie you're crying, what's the matter?" he said, something in his hearts telling him that something dreadful had happened.
"Its my mum, " came the choked reply from the other end. He could hear the raging battle Jackie was waging as she tried to keep her voice level, "She just died."
"Oh God," said the Doctor with a remorseful sigh, "Jackie I'm sorry, I'm so, so sorry."
"We're on our way," said the Doctor before Jackie could even finish a sentence, "Are you on your own?"
He could imagine her nodding on the end and he heard the hitch in the level of her sobs.
"Call Mickey," he said, "You need someone with you right now. I'll tell Rose and then we'll come home. Try to keep your chin up hey."
"Thank you Doctor," said Jackie, "Rose'll be upset, she loved her Nan."
"I'll take good care of her until we get back, we won't be long Jackie."
He heard her muffled goodbye before the phone cut out. He bit his lip and frowned, tapping his fingers against his lips as he tried to think of how best to break the news to his sleeping companion. He slipped the mobile in his pocket before climbing up the stairs that led into the main body of the TARDIS. Stopping at the kitchen he ducked inside, coming out a few minutes later with two cups of tea, very British curing everything with tea but his main concern was actually waking Rose and making sure she was coherent before breaking the solemn news and that could not be achieved without a cup of tea. The TARDIS sympathetically morphed the corridors to make his journey to Rose's room a lot shorter and she dutifully unlatched the door as he tried to juggle the two hot mugs as he fiddled with the door handle. He uttered a silent thank you before pushing the door open with his toe and entering the dark room.
He carefully picked his way over the scattered clothes and shoes that littered the floor on the way to the bed, cursing under his breath as he nearly tripped over something soft and furry. He rolled his eyes as he thought of the last TARDIS in existence playing host to Rose's vast collection of fluffy, pink teddy bears. He smiled to himself though as he looked down at her sleeping form and saw the oversized bear he had brought her last Valentine's clutched protectively to her chest underneath the king sized duvet she insisted on having despite only sleeping in a normal sized double. He set the cups on the small night stand beside her before perching on the end of the bed. His face fell into a serious expression once more as he reached a hand out to her shoulder, shaking her gently.
"Rose," he called softly so as not to startle her, "Rose, wake up."
He heard her groan sleepily as she turned her face into the pillows, murmuring something about peanut butter and parrots. He gave her shoulder a gentle squeeze, leaning down closer to her ear.
"Come on Rose, open your eyes," he said, "I need to you to wake up."
His hand began to rub her back as she stretched, a familiar gesture whenever he woke her that he knew would bring her comfortably from her dreams. The knotted mass of blonde hair parted to reveal her face, her brown eyes blinking up at him sleepily as she rolled onto her back. Her lips pouted prettily in the darkness as she shook off the last of her dreams, before curling into a gentle smile.
"Is it morning?" she asked, her voice still thick from sleep, her hand reaching out from under the covers to find his, entwining her warm fingers with his cool ones. Her eyes narrowed as she took in his expression but he cut her off before she could question him.
"I made you some tea," he said, using his free hand to reach for the cup and handing it to her as she sat up against the head rest. She took it, blowing on the steaming liquid before drinking, the warmth waking her body all the more.
"Something's up," she said, her eyes not leaving his, searching their depths, "What's the matter?"
"Your mum called," said the Doctor squeezing the fingers currently encased in his own, his expression wavering as he struggled to find the words that he knew would devastate his young companion whichever way he put them.
Rose set her cup on the table and poked him firmly in the chest, "I see. We've been summoned and you're looking for an excuse not to go," she said, playfully, "You really are making avoiding my mother an art you know."
The Doctor's free hand came up to grip her hand that rested against his chest, bringing the other up to join it. His eyes focused intently on hers before he reached out and brushed a loose strand of hair back behind her ear. He could feel the lump in his own throat as he loathed the pain he was about to cause the girl before him. Rose tilted her head into his palm, regarding his solemn countenance, her eyes questioning and concerned.
"Your Mum called because she got some bad news. Now she's alright and she's going to get Mickey to take care of her until we get there so she's not on her own, you don't need to worry, she…"
"Doctor stop rambling. What's happened to my Mum?" cried Rose, the panic rising in her voice as the Doctor felt her fingers tense against his chest.
"Sorry, I just don't know how to tell you this," said the Doctor, huffing out a sigh as he decided that the direct approach, although brutal, was what was needed, "Your Nan died, Rose. Your Mum called when you were sleeping and told me. I'm so sorry sweetheart."
The Doctor needed no prompting to pull her into a hug as her small body convulsed with sobs, her fingers digging into his back as she clung around his waist. He rocked her gently, murmuring comforting words into her hair as she cried in his arms, her tears soaking his jacket as they flowed hot and free from her grief darkened eyes. His fingers knotted into her hair, trying to bring her as much comfort as he could, the movement causing Rose to hug him a little tighter, frightened he'd pull away.
"Rose," he said, his lips dancing across her hair, "Rose it'll be alright, I'm here. You just cry sweetheart, I'm here. I'm not letting go."
"Its not fair!" Rose hiccupped through her sobs after several minutes of desperate tears, "Why'd she have to go and die?"
"I doubt she chose to," said the Doctor, "No one ever chooses to leave the people they love. It was just her time Rose, just be glad you had such a long time with her when she was alive. You've always said she was never properly happy since your Grandad died all those years ago."
"You remember that?" said Rose, her sobs quieting to the occasional sniffle as she turned her ear to his chest, finding comfort in the familiar double heart beat she found there.
"Of course I do," said the Doctor, his hand running soothingly up and down the cotton of the t shirt she wore to sleep in, "How could I not remember. I know how much you loved her Rose and I'm sorry to be the one who had to tell you. I've told your mum we'll be on our way soon."
"Oh God Mum," cried Rose, her tears starting once again, "She'll be so upset and she's on her own there."
"I told her to call Mickey," said the Doctor, "He's a good boy, he'll take care of her until we can get back. You just worry about you for now ok?"
"How did you do it?" said Rose, pulling back and looking up at him, her eyes red and puffy from crying.
"How did I do what?" said the Doctor, his hands stilling against her frame.
"I've lost my Nan but you…how did you cope…when they all died? How can you comfort me when your pain must be a thousand times what I'm feeling?"
The Doctor's face darkened in remembrance for a second before he reached a hand up to brush away the tear tracks on her cheeks, "You shouldn't measure what your feeling by anything I do or have felt for my people. Your grief, that's just what it is, your grief and I will comfort you regardless because that grief is as important as anything I could feel Rose. Nan's are very special people, in every society, and you are going to hurt and you are going to miss her and I'm going to be here when you do," he said pulling her back into a hug, "because you were the one who was there for me when I needed you."
Rose clung tightly to him, burying her face in the folds of his jacket, seeking the familiar warmth and scent that always brought her comfort. She could hear the Doctor whispering against her hair once more, felt him shift them both on the bed so that he was laying beside her, never releasing his embrace around her. Rose felt the grief and fatigue hit her as she lay in the quiet of the TARDIS. The sleep that found her wasn't a comfort but a rest from the grief, safe in the arms of her best friend as he stayed loyally at her side.
Mickey pulled open the front door of Jackie's flat as he heard the sound of the TARDIS materialising in its favourite spot on the estate. The sun drenched court yard seemed utterly contrary to the sullen mood that had settled over the place. He could hear Jackie talking in pained tones to her aunt, making various arrangements for the funeral and making a list of who needed to be told. He saw the door to the TARDIS open and watched the Doctor step out, the tails of his long, brown coat catching in the breeze and flying out around his ankles. He watched the alien turn, clearly offering his hand to the girl behind him and then leading her into the bright, July sunshine. Even from a distance Mickey could see Rose's ashen complexion and for once was glad as he saw the Doctor's arm curl supportively around her waist as they walked towards the stairwell.
It wasn't long until he head the familiar footfalls on the steps leading up to the floor he stood on but he mused regretfully that it was usually accompanied by the sound of laughter and flirtatious banter, not today though. Today two figures appeared on the floor, stoic and solemn as they made their way slowly to Jackie's front door. Only pale recognition flitting across their faces as they saw Mickey standing beside the door. Rose accepted his comforting hug before silently passing him and going into the flat. Mickey made to follow but the Doctor's firm hand held him back and Mickey needed no further prompting to leave mother and daughter alone in their grief for a while. He leant on the ledge of balcony, looking out over the expanse of London. The Doctor stood beside him, his pose mimicking his.
"How is she?" said the Doctor, the light wind catching his hair and blowing it every which way.
"Devastated," said Mickey, his voice tired from emotion and lack of sleep, "Its been expected for a while but it was still a shock. How's Rose?"
"She's strong," was all the Doctor offered in response, "Thanks for looking after Jackie before we got here."
"She said you said to call me. I'm glad you did, she wasn't in much of a fit state when I got here and I think she was a heart beat away from the drinks cabinet when I got here."
"We all do silly things to escape our grief," said the Doctor, his eyes not leaving the horizon, "I flew the TARDIS into the heart of a sun when…well, like I say, we all do silly things."
Mickey didn't respond as the sound of sobbing echoed out from the flat. He closed his eyes as if attempting to block out the noise only opening them as he felt a hand on his back, the Doctor's cool fingers pressing through the fabric of his T shirt.
"Hurts like hell doesn't it?" said the Time Lord, "Hearing someone you care about cry."
The younger man nodded silently, turning as he felt the fingers on his back tap lightly and following the Doctor into the flat.
A/N: A very melancholy chapter to start off with I'm afraid but the supernatural side of things will pick up in the next few chapters. As always please review.