"It was him, it was Adam," she muttered, as the Doctor wrapped his arm around her in the taxi. She was shaking from deep inside, as if she were very cold – actually shuddering. Curiously sensationless and emotionless, but physically shaking and she couldn't stop. "He shot me."
"Shot you?" said Jackie in alarm.
"With a, what did Jack call it, a cellular disruptor. I thought it hadn't hurt me. It just felt numb and I passed out. But I was OK. I thought I was OK."
"You'll be all right, sweetheart." Jackie squeezed her hand. "She'll be all right, won't she?"
The Doctor did not reply, but hugged her shoulders tighter.
There wasn't even that much blood. Rose realised that what had appeared on the bathroom floor after the non-existent jeans melted into nothingness had probably soaked into the fabric for some time previously, without her having been aware of it. The fresh flow wasn't heavy, she was able to staunch it with a pad. But it kept coming relentlessly.
"The baby was holding everything together," she said. She could actually hear the shake in her own voice, thin and wavering. "After Adam'd got rid of you, the world was still all right. It was almost the same as it is now. But after he shot me, it was run by the Daleks!"
"The Daleks won the Time War," said the Doctor, quietly. "And did what they do best – ruthlessly taking over worlds to exploit for resources, slaughtering the population, destroying the infrastructure."
"I don't know what you're talking about," said Jackie impatiently. "But your Auntie Irene, she bled through all three of her pregnancies, and there was nothing wrong with her kids. Not so sure about your cousin Rod mind you, but the point is, it doesn't mean you're going to lose the baby, sweetheart." She banged on the window that separated the passenger compartment from the driver. "Can't you go any faster? This is an emergency!"
Rose had a feeling that it wasn't going to matter how soon they got there.
Casualty on a Tuesday morning wasn't busy, and they were seen almost straight away by a brusque triage nurse who tried to make them go away.
"Bleeding in pregnancy is common enough. There's not much we can do for you here anyway. Go home, put your feet up, and if it hasn't stopped by tomorrow, make an appointment with your GP or midwife."
"We need to see a doctor, right now," said the Doctor.
"Yeah!" said Jackie. "What kind of a hospital is this? It says accident and emergency over the door – are you saying that my daughter isn't an emergency? I've seen the cases you have in here at night – drunks who can hardly put one foot in front of the other, falling and splitting their heads open – you treat them, you can treat my daughter!"
With a very definite sigh of exasperation, the nurse ordered them to return to the waiting area.
Rose looked at the hard blue lino floor, with funny flecks in it like bits of glitter, and the burst-open vinyl cushions on the bolted-down chairs, and the stacks of tattered copies of Woman's Own, Mother & Baby, Golfing World.
"I've travelled to a hundred galaxies and we still have to wait on the NHS," said the Doctor, getting up and beginning to pace. "I'm going to go and hurry them along."
"Leave it," said Rose. "'S OK. Someone'll come."
"That's the trouble with you lot, you know, just sitting here accepting this. You'd never get away with this kind of service on say, Ragalosh IV."
"Well we're not bloody on Rago-wotsit," Jackie snapped. "This is Walthamstow."
Rose was thankful that before the Doctor had the chance to expand on the inadequacies of Earth and rile her mother up more, they were summoned to see a doctor whose name badge identified her as Dr Pathil.
She was much more sympathetic, but had essentially the same thing to say. "It's not that uncommon to get some bleeding in pregnancy, and the majority of women who do, go on to have perfectly healthy babies. You'll have to wait and see what happens over the next couple of days."
"That's it?" said the Doctor. "Wait and see?"
"You can try lying down with your feet propped up, but the plain truth is, if you are going to miscarry, then there's precious little that can be done to prevent it. Sadly, miscarriage is very common. About one in four first pregnancies end that way, I'm afraid."
"I want a scan," said Rose.
"Well, your GP or midwife can make you an appointment."
"No, I want one now! I want to see if the baby's still – " She broke off, and stared the poster of a nutritional pyramid on the wall behind Dr Pathil's desk. A tiny bar of chocolate balanced improbably on a mound of pineapples and piles of rice. "I had an accident, I'm worried it might have harmed it."
"The foetus is very well protected, you know. Short of major physical trauma, you're most unlikely to have done it any damage. And you don't look like you've suffered major physical trauma." She smiled.
The Doctor leaned over Rose's shoulder and said in a low intense voice, "Dr Pathil, I think you should do what she wants. You do have an ultrasound scanner in this building?"
"Well yes of course, but there are procedures for booking its use, you can't just walk into A&E and – " She stopped and frowned at the wallet the Doctor had flipped open and held forward to her gaze.
"We'd like a scan, now," he repeated, quietly.
"Just one moment, sir." She left the room in a hurry.
"The cheek!" said Jackie. "What do we pay our taxes for?"
"Who does she think we are?" asked Rose.
"Actually, I've no idea," said the Doctor, tucking the psychic paper back into his jacket. "But it made her jump. Just act important!"
For the second time in what was really only twenty-four hours, Rose found herself lying falt on a couch in a darkened ultrasound cubicle with her top hitched up and jelly rubbed on her stomach. Although this time the Doctor was with her, and he held her hand as she'd longed for before, she felt no pleasure in the contrast. When the radiologist pressed the scanner to her abdomen, a spear of terror pierced through her numbness.
The Doctor let go of her hand, whipped on his glasses, and peered at the little screen.
"There's the head," said the radiologist, "and an arm. There's the curve of the spine."
"It's still there, it's OK!" cried Rose, jerking up into a semi-sitting position. The picture spun into disarray.
"Keep still please," said the radiologist quietly. She found the image again.
"Yes! Look!" said Jackie.
"It's not moving, is it," said the Doctor, after the radiologist had scanned the short length of the baby's body – so very clear and definite an image to Rose, now that she had learned to see it.
"I can't find a heartbeat, I'm afraid."
There was an awful silence in the little room.
The Doctor had taken off his glasses, and looked round to Rose with his eyes dark.
She stared back. It was the shared understanding of something already known.
"You should've done what they said, sweetheart, you should have stayed and had the operation, they were going to fit you in right away."
"Mum, I don't want anyone mucking about with me any more. I want to be left alone."
"But you could get an infection, they said! You tell her!" She rounded on the Doctor.
"It's up to Rose," he said. He was gazing away, out of the window of the taxi.
Rose had drawn herself over onto the other seat, her coat wrapped around her arms, keeping away from for no other reason she could rationalise beyond, she didn't want to be touched. It was if she could hold herself still and keep the baby inside her, this baby that had only been a desperately awkward circumstance two days ago. It had been, in fact, nothing more than another potential threat to her relationship with the Doctor. And she hated herself for that.
She watched him, as the rain-streaked windows flashed past blurred lights and colour. His face was arched away from her, his hand was resting on one knee, his manic energy was stilled.
"Fat lot of good you are," said Jackie. "This is your fault, you know."
"Mum…" Rose muttered.
"Oh yes, everything's my fault," said the Doctor, and it wasn't even with a tone of sarcasm or antagonism. He said it simply, reflectively, as if he wasn't even talking to Jackie at all.
Despite everything, exhaustion took over and she fell asleep as soon as she shut her bedroom door on the both of them and collapsed under the duvet.
She woke up in pain, her stomach cramping in deep, vicious waves. When she staggered as quietly as she could to the bathroom – the bedside clock said it was three fifteen am – she found that the flow of blood was much heavier. It had in fact soaked through to her pyjama bottoms. She screwed them into a ball, buried them at the bottom of the laundry basket, and changed into an old flannel pair. Then she went in search of some painkillers. Her mother kept things like that in a cupboard in the kitchen, since she had filled the actual medicine cabinet in the bathroom with junk like dewaxing strips.
As she crept through the flat's tiny hallway she noticed a light on under the door to the living room, and heard a low murmur of sound.
The Doctor was wide awake, sprawled into the corner of the sofa, watching middle of the night rubbish on TV with the volume turned way down.
He acknowledged her with an arch of his eyebrows then gestured at the screen. "Extraordinary thing, this. She's complaining that her husband has three other wives in various parts of the country, but it's quite clear from looking at him that he's a Teluvian."
"Come here. Look. A Teluvian. They're a species of sentient fungi who can adapt and imitate other lifeforms, but they always have that tell-tale grey sheen around the ears. You see? Teluvians have no interest in sexual activities with animal lifeforms at all. I wonder what he's up to."
Lumbering, balloon-like Americans clad in jogging suits were hurling abuse at each other across the strapline MY HUSBAND HAS THREE OTHER WIVES.
"He just looks like a fat American slob to me."
"It's the ears."
"I think you're making it up."
"Well, it's this or – actually, five hundred and seventeen other channels." He began channel-flipping. "Funny how they all seems to show the same thing at this time of night."
"You didn't go back to the TARDIS then."
"Oho, no, tried that last time and you disappeared."
"You disappeared, you mean."
"I thought I'd better stick around and make sure you didn't get into any more trouble."
"Me? Huh." She couldn't manage anything wittier as another wave of pain struck. She leaned forward, fixing her eyes on an old wine stain on the carpet, trying not to let him see.
That was pointless, since he seemed to be able to sense it. She flinched as she felt his hand on her shoulder.
"I'm sorry," he said.
"'S not your fault."
"Does it hurt?"
"Yeah, a bit. It's going now. I came to get a neurofen or something."
He darted out of the room and she listened to clattering in the kitchen, just beyond the hatch which her mother conscientiously closed at night. He came back with some pills and a glass of water and she took them, with an odd feeling. He had never ministered to her before, never looked after her in mundane ways. She was rarely ill and she didn't think the Doctor ever was.
"You should go back to bed," he said.
"I'd rather stay with you."
"And so you shall. Come on."
This was something she never imagined would happen in her mum's flat – the Doctor with her, in her own bed. There was scarcely room, but she didn't care. She curled up against the pain and he enveloped her from behind, wrapping her in warmth and comfort. He kissed the angle of her jaw, then settled his head against her neck. She could feel the coolness of his breath steady against her cheek. His hands laced tightly into hers.
"I can't sleep," she said.
"I can't. I keep thinking."
"That's dangerous, that is."
"Talk to me. Take my mind off it."
"Talk? To order? I mean I know usually you can't shut me up, but somehow being ordered to talk makes me wonder if I have anything to say."
"Tell me about your kids." Rose stemmed this babble with a tug on his hands. Her heart jumped as she said it, but if was ever going to ask him about it, it was now. Now, when everything seemed shattered and strange and lying around them.
There was only the briefest of silences against her cheek. "Kid. Singular. Only one, a son. Though I did have a granddaughter too."
"You had a what?"
"Granddaughter!" he repeated in a slightly wounded tone. "I'm an old man, Rose. When are you going to believe that?"
"Maybe when you stop looking so young and hot."
"Hot, eh? Well, I try. I was closer to her, really, in the end, than I was to my son. I ended up bringing her up, more or less, you see."
"Why, what happened to your son and his – " She didn't complete the sentence with 'wife'. She had no idea whether Time Lords even had marriage.
"They didn't die or anything – it was very complicated – Time Lord stuff. I had to get off my homeworld in a hurry, and she came with me. We travelled together – oh, for ages."
"What happened to her?"
"She met a man she wanted to stay with. On Earth, as it happens. She grew up."
"What about… you son's mum?"
"Oh, she died." He said it casually, but with an emphasis of finality that Rose knew signalled the end of that conversation.
The already unpleasant background ache intensified to a pitch of pain, and Rose held her breath as it gripped her. The neurofen had made no sodding difference whatsoever.
Of course, they were all dead now. What a stupid thing to have brought up. She tensed her muscles, trying to displace the pain through her fingers and toes.
"What your mum said was right though."
"It is my fault. If I hadn't lost my temper with Adam, this wouldn't have happened."
She breathed out again as the cramp receded. "Yeah well. No, actually. You shouldn't have done it and I shouldn't have let you."
"Maybe this sounds like a cop-out, but it's hard sometimes to relate to things I did in a previous body. Would I have done that now? I don't know that I would've. Yeah, I'd probably blow my top at him, but I don't think I'd just have kicked him out and left him to deal with the consequences. I'd probably get his head fixed then kick him out. Too late now."
"Well, he got you back. He killed your baby."
"I know," said the Doctor simply.
Oddly, now that she had said it out loud, and got an acknowledgement from the Doctor, Rose felt a little better. She shifted round in the tiny bed that was filled by the pair of them, trying to twist away from the pain and wanting anyway to look into his face. "Couldn't it… you know… do what you did?"
"Regenerate? No, the ability to regenerate only kicks in after adolescence. Babies and children can't." He squeezed her. "But, you know something, it kept you safe. If you hadn't acquired immunity to the timeshift, Jack might never have found the fracture point in time to undo the damage."
"So next time I want to get stuck in an alternative reality, I'd better get knocked up by a Time Lord first?"
"Drastic but effective, apparently."
She curled her legs up again as another cramp took hold. It was getting worse, even though the Doctor holding her was immensely soothing. Freezing sweat broke out on her forehead. "Fuck."
"Not now, not a good idea. I mean apart from anything else it would wake your mum up."
She would normally have laughed but her sense of humour was stretched tight into intense irritation for a couple of moments. She pushed him away and gritted her teeth until the spasm died down.
"Sorry," she said, and pulled him close again.
"Maybe try to sleep. Sleep is good."
She didn't argue, but she knew that she had no hope of sleeping until this stopped hurting, and she had a horrible idea of what would have to happen before it did. Time to approach other distracting topics, while she was at it. "You know you said that Jack stayed behind on Platform One to help rebuild Earth?"
"That's what you told me."
"Just after you – changed."
"Oh God. Never listen to a word I say under those circumstances. Seriously. If you're around when I regenerate again, disregard all conversation for at least twenty-four hours afterwards. If I'm capable of talking at all."
"So he didn't. I thought it sounded odd. Why didn't he come with us, then?"
The Doctor blinked slowly. "Rose, Jack's dead."
"I thought you knew. I'm sorry."
"No! I didn't know because you never fucking told me!"
"The Daleks killed him. He held them off me right to the end."
"So why the hell didn't you tell me?"
"I… thought you knew."
"You don't – think – you might've – noticed me – crying…" God, he was absolutely hopeless. She batted her hands weakly against his shoulders while he continued to hold her tight, then she gave in and collapsed sobbing into him.
"I've seen so much death, Rose. I've lost almost everyone. I have to forget. What else can I do?"
"I know," she gulped between sobs. "I know."
Despite the pain and the shock of grief and the storm of tears, she did dose off in the end. She became aware of her foggy, sleep state when she awoke in a stupour, filled with unease and urgency.
The Doctor looked like he was asleep too, making his usual gentle snoring noises.
She eased herself out of bed, trying not to disturb him, and crept to the bathroom. It was five thirty-eight, the luminous clock said, and still inky dark outside.
She was afraid that she might have soaked through to her pyjamas again, but the two pads she'd stuffed into an old pair of knickers had coped. Now that she was standing up, though, pooled blood was flowing out freely along with some scary-looking, jelly-like clots.
That was OK though. That's what they'd told her at the hospital, that bits and pieces would come away. She told herself that firmly, as she felt a little faint at the sight of a wobbly mass she'd caught with a wad of toilet tissue.
She was about to flush the mess down the loo when she realised what she was actually looking at.
Rose sat down on the bathroom floor, avoiding her mum's new bath mat so that she wouldn't stain it, and with a finger, gently wiped aside blood from the fluid-filled capsule. Cupped in the palm of her hand was a tiny baby, shrouded in a delicate membrane, intricately detailed, absurdly miniature. It looked perfect.
She sat there for a long time, staring at what would have been – what was – her child, and the second-last of the Doctor's people. She had been dreading just this, but now it had happened she felt nothing but wonder and pity.
Should she show it to the Doctor? She thought about the controlled desolation in his voice when he'd said he'd seen so much death that he had to forget. He had basically forgotten to tell her that a close mutual friend had been gunned down by the Daleks. His wife, if she'd been a wife, had died, his son and granddaughter had been killed – maybe not that long ago, either – in a war that had also wiped out his entire race. He had accidentally left his last lover to die while she was waiting for him to return. She could spare him this sight, she could take it onto herself. For sure, he would never ask.
She didn't want him to see it. If it caused him pain, he might turn some of that pain in her direction and shut down and move away. She trusted him to die for her, but she didn't entirely trust him to stay with her.
"I'm sorry, baby," she whispered, and wrapped it in clean tissue, and flushed the tiny corpse away.
Deadened with relief, still aching, she tidied up the rest and padded back to bed.
The Doctor stirred. "Feeling any better?" he murmured sleepily.
"Yeah. Quite a bit."
He snuggled around her and fell promptly back to snoring.
She lay awake in his arms until the sun streamed through the curtains.
Her mother caught her packing just as she was pulling the last strap of her rucksack tight. It wasn't that Rose had intended to sneak off without saying goodbye, it was just that she'd not been looking forward to an argument and so had been putting it off by making her preparations quietly.
Jackie folded her arms and shook her head. There wasn't even any need for a verbal opening.
"Mum, it's not like I wasn't going to go away again," she said, forestalling it.
"Oh, I know that."
"I'm OK now."
"Are you?" Jackie closed the door. "It wasn't just a miscarriage, was it, not a normal one. Someone shot you, someone caused it."
Rose had no comeback to that. She clutched her rucksack in front of her defensively.
"Well, doesn't that make you stop and think?"
"Mum – what do you want me to do, leave him and go back to my job in the shop?"
"Why does it always have to be one or the other? Why doesn't he do what you want instead, for a change? Ask yourself that, Rose."
"What, do you think I haven't?" She faced her in the doorway. "He'd never going to change, Mum. And I'm staying with him anyway." She brushed past her, and didn't look back.
The Doctor was waiting for her at the bottom of the stairs, squinting up. He looked surprised when she said, "Right then, let's go."
"Your mum not coming to see us off?"
"She's in a huff."
"Fair enough." He turned on his heel and hooked her arm, and they headed towards the TARDIS.
"You don't have to worry about it happening again, by the way."
"Oh? Why's that?"
"Because I got sorted out with the Pill. When I was at the clinic last week."
"It doesn't matter."
"What doesn't matter?"
"Doesn't matter if it does happen again. It's fine."
He spoke quickly, unemotionally, squinting at the rain, but the very casualness of his words meant, she knew, that he was probably saying something difficult. Quite unexpectedly, her heart glowed. She didn't want to spoil the moment by lading it with emotion or even, really, reacting much. But she squeezed his hand and said, "Nah. I'm too young to be a mum yet, really."
"I thought the average age round this neck of the woods was fourteen?"
"Anyway, we've got the rest of my life."
"True," he said, more distantly. They had reached the doors of the TARDIS. "Is your mother really not coming or have we got to stand here in the rain for the next hour while she unhuffs?"
"Tell you what though, you said there was a storm coming."
"I did, didn't I."
"Well…" She fiddled with the knot of his tie, which never seemed to go on straight. "It's passed now."
"I hope so."
They both looked round together at the cry from the distant balcony, and stepped apart to await the onslaught.