Third piece to Only Time and Time After Time. Will likely have three parts, possibly four. Hopefully the plot bunnies will leave me alone after this, for a little bit at least.
Spoilers: TenRose, natch. Spoilers throughout series two, just to be safe. Spoilers for Only Time and Time After Time. Angst McAngsty.
Disclaimer: I own nothing, but that doesn't mean I can't make DT happy while I'm borrowing him...
Rose stood in the kitchen, making peanut butter sandwiches for Jack's school lunch and wondered if this is what the Doctor meant by fantastic life.
She listened to the giggles tripping down the stairs from the kids' rooms as they ran back and forth while Jack was getting ready for school. She called up the stairs to them before she packed Jack's lunch in his school bag and was just setting the dishwasher when Jack appeared at the bottom of the stairs, his little sister perched precariously on his hip.
As always, Rose found herself staring at the boy who would become his father.
He was on the small side of slender, almost skinny, with his thick tuft of dark hair and piercing dark eyes. She imagined it much like she was looking back in time and seeing the Doctor as he would've been if he'd grown up in the body he had when she last saw him.
Had he regenerated since then? Had he run out of regenerations, or had he maybe not been fast enough, quick enough, smart or witty enough to get away one time too many?
The one thing she regretted the most was that she would never know. For all she knew, he had found another companion, another her and moved on.
Letting that thought stab a little, she sighed. She felt like feeling sorry for herself.
She helped Jack get his bag on and he kissed her cheek before he ran from the kitchen, from the house and over to the main house to his granddad.
Pete may have barely been her father and true, looked as uncomfortable as hell when she called him Dad, but he was an amazing granddad to her kids and that was good enough for her.
She dressed herself and Cathica and they toddled down to the beach of the nearby lake, hand in hand.
No, she wasn't happy. But she was content and that would do.
Four year-old Cathica found delight in everything and Rose found delight in her. Jackie often commented that Rose had been just the same, but Rose couldn't see herself in Cathica. She only saw him.
Her mum was already on the beach when she and Cathica arrived and Rose let her daughter's hand go so she could run to her Gran. Rose sat next to Jackie on the blanket, silently taking the kiss on the cheek.
"What's wrong, sweetheart?"
"Nothing's wrong, Mum. Nothing more than has been."
Jackie knew it was coming up on the anniversary of their arrival in this world, but she didn't bring it up. Rose already knew.
Sometimes Rose wondered if she'd done the right thing. The Doctor had moved on, she was sure. He always had moved on, he said so. Rose grew stagnant.
"It's just…" Rose tried to stop the hard ball of tears in her throat, but she couldn't. She swallowed again. "You know, like when Dad died. If you had known he was going to die, would you have fought with him right before?"
"No, of course not, Rose."
"If I had known that the last time I hugged him or kissed him would've been the last time, I would've paid a lot more attention. And I would've held on for dear life."
"That's why you couldn't know. Why no one should know. Because if we never let go, how can we move on?"
"No, listen, Rose." Jackie tucked a stray strand of Rose's blonde hair behind her ear and ran a hand over her hair, kissing her temple. "It took me a long, long time to get over your dad. A long time. You don't remember, because you were a baby. But no one blames you for what you feel or if sometimes you cry a little bit more. You didn't only lose the Doctor, you lost your entire way of life and have been forced to settle for what you never wanted. It's hard. No one blames you."
"I've just been such a git, crying my eyes out lately." Concern creased Jackie's forehead and she turned to watch Cathica building a sand pile.
"Are you pregnant again?" Rose let out a breath, a strained laugh.
"God, I hope not."
"Do you think he moved on, Mum?" Jackie was silent and Rose turned to her, teeth worrying her lower lip.
"I think he moved on," Jackie started slowly, as if weighing each of her words carefully. "I think he moved on, but not easily. He didn't just lose you Rose, he lost his entire family." Rose snorted.
"Come off it, Mum, you couldn't stand him."
"I could. I liked him, I did!" She insisted when Rose began to protest. "I had issues with him, but I'd have issues with any man you were serious about."
"You didn't have any issues with Mickey."
"I knew you wouldn't last. You were too good of friends to ever—"
But the rest of Jackie's words were cut off and she and Rose both looking up to the blindingly blue sky. The sound of a ripping engine was deafening. Cathica began to wail, covering her ears and Rose clambered up, picking up her little girl and rubbing her back, looking up at the sky.
"Do you think it's a plane?" Jackie shouted. "We should call Emergency!"
Suddenly there was a bone-jarring crash, just beyond the hills at the edge of the beach. The silence that followed was just as deafening as the crash before it and Rose kissed Cathica before handing her off to Jackie.
"I'm going to see what happened, stay here. Keep your mobile on!"
Groaning, the Doctor held his head and stumbled out of the battered time ship, looking around. The air was quiet, the only sound the gentle lapping of water on the beach. A gull cried overhead and he looked up quickly, cursing when his head gave a sharp pain.
"I bloody well better not be in Norway," he grumbled, seeing the rocks. Frowning, he decided the sky looked decidedly British before turning back into the TARDIS to collect Martha.
She grinned when their eyes met and he felt himself trying to grin back, but he couldn't yet. They'd made it through some particular crack but he wasn't sure which one and didn't even know if they'd landed on the right Earth.
The navigation console had blinked out almost right away and he'd had to fly blind and hope for the best. The console room was jumbled from their particularly ungraceful landing, the room dark without the glow from the central column.
The Doctor stepped aside and let Martha out before following and locking the door behind them.
Martha moved ahead of him, climbing up a rock outcropping to get a better view of their surroundings. The Doctor watched her as he climbed up behind her, her body tensed, ready to spring.
"Don't tell me, we landed on that damn Melan planet again, with all those nuclear…" He came up next to Martha and felt his, this world drop out from under him.
She hadn't changed.
That was his first thought.
She was still small and slender, her hair still that bright sunshine blonde that he knew wasn't natural but loved so much. It was longer now, nearly to her elbows, like it had been when they first met, but nothing else had changed, even down to the kohl black eyeliner around her eyes.
"Rose," he whispered, and felt Martha's hand on his back, supporting him.
How long had it been? Years and years, but how many? He didn't know. Time changed for him, constantly, and he had long since stopped counting the days.
He skidded down the front of the rocks, landing in the sand unceremoniously and almost tipping over. He moved closer to where Rose'd stopped upon seeing Martha, where she stood, searching his face.
"Rose," he said again, voice a little bit firmer, but not really. She hadn't moved, unless you counted the increase in her pulse or the rise and fall of her chest as she struggled to catch her breath.
And then he cursed again because he was really in Norway after all and she was only an image, not his real Rose and now they were stuck here because he'd broken the TARDIS.
And then she spoke and he felt something inside crack.
"Doctor?" Her hand reached out, much like it had however many years ago, only this time he grabbed it, holding it to his cheek before stepping forward and gathering her in his arms, lifting her off his feet, holding her as close he could without taking her inside himself.
She cried and he cried and he just held her as she soaked the shoulder of his jacket. As the shaking began to subside and her body calmed enough to only give off little tremors, he let her slide down to her feet, cupping her face in his hands.
"What are you doing here?" She whispered. Her fingertips brushed across the scar on his temple, the smaller one on his jaw.
"I came to get you, Rose Tyler. Can't be without my plus one, can I?"
Time moves on.
When Jackie Tyler finally climbed over the rocks on her side, a wriggling child in her arms, she stopped so hard that her feet slipped out from beneath her and she landed on her bum with an "oof," Cathica clapping and shouting again, again! Wincing at the soreness that she knew would double by morning, she hushed Cathica and watched the couple on the beach.
She watched as her oldest daughter hugged the Doctor again and heard his laugh as he spun her around.
Jackie never thought she'd welcome the day the Doctor was in her daughter's life, but if she was honest with herself, she'd missed him, too and she was always honest with herself.
She climbed up again, wincing at the pain and made her way down the rest of the rocks, standing in the sand. Rose said something else to the Doctor and suddenly he looked her way, his handsome, slender face breaking into a huge smile. He kissed Rose's forehead before making his way to Jackie.
Jackie put Cathica down and Cathica ran to her mummy, but the Doctor didn't notice her. Then she remembered that the Doctor didn't know he was a daddy and probably assumed the little girl was hers.
He stopped ahead of her, putting his hands on her shoulders and she looked at him, really looked at him.
"Never thought I'd be glad the day I saw you," she murmured. He smiled. "I thought you couldn't age."
"I can't. Not in this regeneration, anyway."
"You look older." She touched his face, much like Rose had done, only she noticed all the tiny lines, too, around his eyes, his lips.
"Are you here now? Tell me you're here to stay."
"We are. There's no more going back, even if I wanted to."
"We?" Jackie frowned and suddenly her worst thoughts came slamming to the forefront of her mind and he must have read it or seen it or known it and he frowned at her.
"My companion, of sorts," he said, turning a bit and gesturing to Martha, where she stood talking to Rose.
"Not like Rose, Jackie." He turned, alarmed at the tone in her voice. "Never like Rose."
She let him hug her and held him close, finally understanding why Rose enjoyed it so much. The Doctor hugged with his whole body and while he was hugging you, you were the only one in his world. She was only sad it had taken her so many years to understand it.
He let her go and turned to look at Rose, his arm slung casually across Jackie's shoulders. Rose stood holding the little girl on her hip, casually supporting her as Martha talked to both
"How long's it been, Jacks?" The Doctor asked, recalling Pete's nickname for her. She chuckled a bit and sighed.
"8 years in the spring." She looked up at him and watched as a frown flitted across his features.
"8 years? How long was it after you got here that I showed up?"
"Only a few months, why?" He looked down at her, eyebrows raised and she had one fleeting thought.
"Jackie, your daughter is only 3 years old, 4 at most. If it's been 8 years, why is she so young?"
"Oops? What the hell does that mean?" Jackie tried giving him a reassuring smile but was afraid it came out more pained than anything. "Jackie Tyler…"
"Well, you see. Doctor." He glowered at her and she swallowed hard. "Doctor, she's yours. She's your daughter."
TBC. Read/review, please, let me know what you think. Thanks!