A/N: Hi I'm back again. This is a little one shot I thought up the other day and I thought I'd put it down on paper. It's a bit angsty and there are character deaths but it does have a happy ending I promise.
As always I own nothing although I would really like to get my hands on the rights to Torchwood at the moment. Fantastic show!
The Doctor brushed the stray tear on his cheek away with the back of his hand. He'd arrived with such hope, such promise and now he saw them destroyed before him. He felt a warm hand on his shoulder and leant into the man beside him slightly, amazed at how grown up he now was compared to the boy he remembered. The faint smell of burning still tinged the air and mingled with the scent of flowers which lay at his feet, little messages of loss and comfort tied to each delicate bunch. The pretty patchwork however could not disguise the shamble of the half collapsed and burned house. He remembered back to when it had been alight and brimming with merriment and laughter. They'd snuck there way inside and the warmth had made it almost feel like home. That was all gone now.
"How…" the Doctor began, "She…"
The grip on his shoulder tightened slightly as he felt himself choke on a sob.
"It was quick," said the familiar London accent beside him, "Rose ran out with the baby but she went back in for Jackie and Pete. The fire brigade said that they were coming down the main staircase when it collapsed, they died instantly…they didn't…they didn't get killed by the fire. Stupid that it started in the first place, Jackie had told Pete to get the wiring looked at weeks ago."
"My Rose," murmured the Doctor, trying desperately not to picture the ornate staircase they had watched the alternative Jackie give her speech from on her birthday. He tried not to let his mind wander onto the thought of the marble and wood collapsing beneath Rose and her terrified parents as they tried to reach safety.
"I wish I could have told you Doctor," said Mickey, tightening his grip on the alien's shoulder once more, "When Torchwood alerted me to your arrival I didn't know what to do but I knew I had to speak to you before anyone else did. It was my job to tell you but you just ran over here all guns blazing before I could find you."
"I wanted to see her," said the Doctor turning to Mickey with a sad smile, "Guess I never will now. Where did you bury her? I'd like to…I want to say goodbye."
Mickey choked back the tears that were still so fresh behind his eyes, "I didn't bury her, she wouldn't have wanted that, stuck in a dark hole not able to see the stars. The day after they got her out and completed all the investigations I had them all cremated properly and I took their ashes to Norway."
"Bad Wolf Bay?" said the Doctor, frantically brushing away an errant tear as it broke loose, "Where I last saw her."
"I scattered their ashes just off the bay, on the cliff so they could ride on the breeze. I suppose, in a way, I thought she'd be able to reach you from there."
The Doctor was silent as he turned back to the house, bending down to read several of the heart felt messages that had been left for the family. Mickey had told him they had only been in the parallel world for eighteen months but still Rose and her family had made an impact on everyone's lives. His mind travelled on to the one survivor, the one member of the family he had yet to meet. She would have only been just short of a year old.
"You said that Rose saved the baby."
"Scarlet," said Mickey, "Scarlet Gwyneth Tyler. Jackie asked Rose to name her. She said you watched the Scarlet System fall into a black hole once and that it was one of the most beautiful sights she had ever seen."
The Doctor managed a half smile as he remembered their time on Sanctuary Base Six, only Rose could have found something so beautiful in a time so terrifying. He'd thought he'd lost her that day, when he heard the rocket leave without him and the pain in his hearts had been almost unbearable but he'd found her again. He would never forget the feeling that took him when she walked through the TARDIS doors, the smile she gave him, the one he gave her. Those smiles which told them how much they loved each other, the embrace that fused them together again as if they would never come apart. Part of him had wanted to kiss her, there and then kiss her but he knew it was out of place. That moment, that one singular moment when death and destruction and pain completely disappeared as she clung to him, it was perfect in its innocence.
He felt the tears well behind his eyes once more as he realised that death and destruction before him but this time there would be no smile, no warmth, no loving embrace to comfort him. His thoughts turned once again to Jackie's infant, orphaned and alone in the universe. He almost felt the slight tug of connection there.
"What will happen to the baby?" he said finally, realising Mickey was waiting for him to speak.
"She's with me and my Gran at the moment but we can't keep her. I'm always away at work and Gran can't look after her properly twenty-four hours a day," said Mickey with a sigh, "I guess she'll go up for adoption, or into care. She's a pretty little girl, someone will give her a home."
"Someone who doesn't know who she is, who her family was," said the Doctor, a slight touch of venom slipping into his words, "She'll grow up just another human."
"Can I see her?" said the Doctor pushing to his feet suddenly, "I'd like to see her."
Mickey nodded, "Sure, the car's parked at the end of the drive."
The Doctor gave the house one final look, saying a silent farewell to the three souls he had held so dearly and lost so tragically, before following Mickey up the gravel drive to the car.
He had gone mad, that was all the Doctor could surmise, he had gone utterly and totally mad. That was the only explanation he could think of as he watched Mickey and his Gran fade from view on the TARDIS monitor as the ancient engines groaned in the dematerialisation sequence. The journey for once was smooth enough, the technology he'd augmented to enable him to pass into Mickey's dimension making the return trip as painless as his arrival. He thought as well the TARDIS was being sympathetic to its occupants' needs. Soon he felt the familiar hum of his own universe and the gentle swell of the time vortex as in enveloped the ship and welcomed it home. He smiled up at the central column as he felt his connection to the ship shift resonance slightly as she offered her own form of comfort for his loss.
This light gurgling from the console chair caught his attention and he turned to the small wicker bassinette and its precious occupant. He reached a hand into the basket and warm, little fingers curled instinctively around his index finger, gripping on for dear life.
"Looks like its just you and me baby," he said softly, "Out there, millions of planets, millions of species all for us to see and you're gonna love it."
He picked up the tiny girl out of her blankets and cradled her softly, making a show of walking her around the console room. He had been apprehensive the first time Mickey had laid her in his arms but he'd relaxed as she'd gazed up at him, her big brown eyes so similar to those that had looked up at him when he had been charged with the care of baby Rose. He wandered if the little child he held as much of a fascination with hands as Rose had done and he'd been answered when Scarlet's tiny fingers had closed tightly around his own. He hated to admit it, it sounded strange, but he'd fallen in love there and then. He remembered when his own children had first been laid in his arms, all that time ago, that need to protect them that rose in his chest, that love that told him that he would gladly sacrifice his life if it meant saving them from harm. Scarlet Tyler awoke those long dead feelings once more.
He'd argued with himself for hours, argued with Mickey, argued with the sunlight and then the moonlight. He was no man to bring up a girl alone. His life was dangerous, he was uselessly inconsistent, he couldn't give her a proper home, an education that would allow her to do anything with her life if she left him when she grew older but still his hearts were arguing back. She was part of Rose, she was a Tyler and if she was adopted that would be lost forever. Scarlet Tyler would become another non-entity on Earth, loved tolerably, loved well but not loved as she should be. Rose had been his family, that made him Scarlet's too. He could show her the wonders that had so enthralled her sister, make her understand and appreciate the universe rather than just be controlled by it.
He'd cried for a while, sitting in the small back room of Mickey's house, the cradle beside him. He'd cried for the loss, not focused on one person at all, just the loss that surrounded him. Scarlet had started crying and he'd gone to her instinctively, wrapping the tiny girl in his arms and rocking her gently. He hadn't known Mickey had been watching from the door, a small smile on his face as he watched the ever growing bond between the two people before him. He'd made his presence known and told the Doctor that Scarlet never quieted that quickly for anyone. The Doctor had made to place the baby back in her cradle but Mickey had stopped him and the look in the boy's eyes had made the Doctor almost cry at the pain once more. He'd looked down at the little bundle in his arms and seen it then, the future he could have, what he owed to Rose. It hadn't taken long to get everything onboard the TARDIS, his adopted daughter not even flinching at the spatial displacement as she crossed the threshold. The Doctor had a minor, that was a new one.
Scarlet's whimper brought the Doctor back to reality and he hushed her softly, deciding it was time to sort out how he'd live with the little being in tow.
She was just over a year when she started to speak but that didn't halt the surprise the Doctor felt. He rationalised in the end that the D was already there in her vocabulary, he always referred to himself as the Doctor to her, it was that letter that made her come out with her first tiny words. When she called him Dada he pretended to himself that she was just trying to say Doctor. That lasted nearly two minutes before she kept repeating it with giggly delight and he wondered if she was Rose reincarnated with the teasing look in her deep dark eyes. He wanted to correct her, tell her she wasn't to call him that but those big brown eyes were so full of hope that he couldn't say no. Letting her hand curl around his he smiled down at her and told her that yes he was her daddy. For some reason it felt good. He'd always thought himself a bit useless at the 'father' business but here was this precious little piece of Tyler telling him in her beautiful, fluffy baby talk that he was the most special thing in the universe. He'd been insanely protective of her until now but now he saw the courage and determination that her sister had always shown and he knew it wouldn't be long until she was out in the stars with him.
She was five when she first asked him why his hearts sounded different to hers, she was five and a half when he finally told her about her 'real' Mum and Dad. Her little face had screwed up in confusion and she'd muttered something in Martian that he found so endearing. Her grasp of languages, albeit augmented by the TARDIS, was astounding even to him. Martha was giving him that look of hers from across the console room, the one that told him she was in no way going to be that child's mother. He didn't want her to be. He turned his attention back to Scarlet who was looking a little confused, even more so when he told her about how her Uncle Mickey had asked him to take her away. She asked if she ever had any brothers or sisters. He lied and Martha gave him that look that told him they'd be arguing later. He didn't care, Rose was his and only his but Scarlet's disappointed little face was a pain to his hearts. The Doctor decided he was a bit useless at this father business.
He fought with Martha that night, they'd been doing that a lot recently. She'd waited until Scarlet was asleep and they'd fought in the console room like always. He wasn't surprised when she asked to leave, for some reason he'd already tapped in the co-ordinates before she'd asked. She didn't say goodbye to Scarlet. The Doctor went to bed with a heavy heart that night, staring down at a picture of Rose until her face began to blur with either fatigue or tears. He hadn't moved when he heard the door open or the pad of tiny feet and, as Scarlet slid in beside him and told him that she thought having an alien daddy was cool. He thought he was actually a bit alright at this father business.
At twelve she's nearly impossible, annoyingly moody and asking him questions he doesn't want to answer. When she asks him outright about sex he tries to explain behind a pained expression and he thinks she's more than a little glad when he hands her a science text book and lets her find out on her own. They go to see Mickey in the other universe, its almost as easy as his other trips now and he tells the Doctor that she's going to need a mother soon. The Doctor thinks he's right and they travel back in their own universe but no one is up to the job. He goes to find Sarah Jane. She's a bit old to be a mum now but she's the only one he can think of. She thinks Scarlet is beautiful and she comes with them for a while but soon she gets all human and asks to go home. Scarlet can't understand her concept of wanting to stay in the same place and the Doctor wonders if he's taken the humanity away from his daughter. He wonders if that's such a bad thing.
At fifteen she's finding herself and he's terrified. When she first puts on make up he tells her to wash the unsightly look off her face. When she dyes her dark hair blonde he doesn't say anything and just hides and cries a bit. He wonders if he's lived these passed few years or if he's just been seeing a ghost. With dark hair he could pretend away the similarities between Scarlet and Rose, with blonde hair its impossible. He nearly has a coronary when he sees Rose's bedroom door open, its doubled when he sees the blonde girl in a pink hoodie and jeans on her bed. Her name has half left his lips before he realises himself. Its enough to alert Scarlet to his presence. She asks again the question she asked at five and a half and he answers the same. She calls him a liar and pulls a picture from beneath Rose's pillow. Its one of him and Rose, so similar to one now on the lounge room mantle of him and Scarlet except he looks a little older and the look in his eyes has changed. He wonders how he never realised he wore his desire so close to the surface when Rose was alive.
He tells Scarlet the truth about her sister and she tells him it's a bit weird. He assures her that he didn't take her in because she was like Rose and she says that she knows. He's a little shocked when she calls him Dad rather than Daddy, he's more than shocked when she leaves the room that was her nursery and moves into Rose's that night. She's getting older but he still calls her baby. By morning her hair is brunette again.
He knocks out the first guy to break her heart. The second time round she does it herself. She learns to pilot the TARDIS and on her second go she manages better than he can. He feels a little bit jealous. They go to visit Sarah and find they've arrived too late. They both cry a bit but he stops when Scarlet starts muttering something about useless humans, they both forget sometimes. He gets a bit reckless after that and she nurses him through a regeneration. He's not impressed when he finds himself older and still not ginger. He looks a bit more like he could be her father now though. Mickey teases him about the new look, in between crying about his Gran and his wrecked marriage. The Doctor suddenly realises Mickey's in his forties and he thinks that's a bit scary. He wonders if Rose would've looked like Jackie by now and shudders. It doesn't take much to ask Mickey to come home. He's the first of many new companions.
The Doctor had previously called his companion Simon but he now thinks Useless is the term he will use from now on when Scarlet tells him she's fallen in love at twenty and wants to get married. He grumbles and moans and gives Useless filthy glances but he pays for the wedding, gives her away, cries a little when he gives his speech; its what her real Dad would have done. His thoughts are less than happy on the day. He wonders if Rose would have been a bridesmaid. He wonders how Rose would have looked in Scarlet's wedding dress. He wonders if it's the end now that Scarlet's no longer a Tyler. He's heart broken when she says she's staying on Earth. He remembers that she's not really his to be heart broken over but that doesn't help.
He travels a lot, takes companions and shows them the stars. The arrive, they see, they leave, he gets used to the pattern. He doesn't visit Earth often but he calls and he thinks he's failing a bit in his duty but each time its harder not to beg her to come back with him. One night she calls and there's something in her tone that has the co-ordinates programmed in before he even hangs up. He promises himself that if Useless has hurt her there'll be trouble. He's run to her and embraced her before he even realises she's the size of a house and he nearly kills Useless for getting his baby pregnant before she reminds him that they've been married five years. She calls him Daddy and gives him that look and he relents with a filthy glare at his son-in-law. He wonders how many ways you can kill a man and make it look like an accident.
He's there holding her hand as she's screaming and demanding all the drugs in the universe. He wants to correct her cursing but she's already popped several bones in his hand and he isn't luckily within a few hours of a regeneration cycle so he keeps quiet. Useless passed out hours ago and he wonders how something that pathetic could have captured his baby's heart. From the language coming from Scarlet he thinks she thinks the same at the moment. He's more relieved to have his hand back than anything when the first desperate wailings of his grandchild fill the room. A baby girl. He watches Scarlet cradle her and then watches Useless pass out again. The tiny bundle is handed to him and he tries to make out what he feels for her. He's silent when Scarlet tells him she's going to call her Rose. He feels a little bit sick. With her face all bruised and purple and the shock of dark hair he doesn't think the baby looks like Rose at all, she might end up looking like Useless. He thinks he's going to have to find a nickname for the little thing. Her ears are kind of pointy. She becomes his little elf.
He buys little elf a red bicycle for her twelfth birthday. Scarlet thinks it's a little odd because she's never taught her daughter to ride but the Doctor just says that she'll learn. Scarlet knows the look in his eyes and she doesn't ask further. He's a pretty good grandfather and he stays around a lot more, although he's always begging them to come away. Useless is a bit scared of space but goes all macho gorilla when a trip is mentioned and says that little Rose is too young. The Doctor doesn't like her being called little Rose with her black hair and too pale skin.
He decides he hates humans and all their frailties when Scarlet calls him crying. He goes to Useless' funeral and feels a bit sorry that he's dead but only because its made his baby cry. Scarlet asks him to say something at the funeral and he reads a poem because he can't think of anything nice to say. It's the first time he ever calls Rose by her real name and he finds that the universe doesn't end. They go back to the house afterwards and he sees that the suitcases are already in the hall. He picks them up without a word and takes them into the TARDIS. Scarlet locks herself in her old room while little Rose finds herself in the library, buried in the books. The Doctor watches her unseen and wonders just how like him she really is becoming. He's pleased to see she's reading about astronomy.
Its late when Scarlet finds him in the control room and makes her request. Perhaps its all the loss she's faced and he almost feels himself back in time forty years when he was telling Rose that her wish was his command. She wants to see her real mum and sister, she knows not to ask to see Pete, and the Doctor sets the co-ordinates as something flickers in the back of his mind. They land at New Year 2005/2006 and he takes her across a South London Estate to a small pub, mindful to have locked the door so little Rose can't escape and follow them. He feels the tug of a paradox in his mind as a memory surfaces that has not yet formed but he remembers. Confusing things paradoxes. He's glad Scarlet looks more like Pete now she's older and that he's regenerated, they won't be recognized. He hears his own voice and flinches as he enters. They go to the bar and he sees his former self staring at him, the paradox as clear in his head then as it is now and he suddenly remembers how uneasy he felt knowing that he'd arrived without Rose.
He and Scarlett stand and watch the merriment as his younger self seems to decide to ignore them, he remembers thinking in the end he was just imagining things. He feels Scarlet's hand tense around his as they watch the scene. Jackie, catastrophically drunk, is dancing on the table, pulling poor Mickey up to dance with her. Rose, beautiful, young Rose is blushing desperately but a hand on her shoulder from her newly regenerated Doctor makes the whole world disappear. The Doctor closes his eyes against the next scene, the pain is too much to watch it but he knows that Scarlet does. Scarlet sees his younger self lead Rose to the makeshift dance floor and begin to move her to the gentle ballad. Scarlet sees her sister cling tightly to his skinny frame and whisper unknown words in his ear. Scarlet sees when Rose's friends run over with a sprig of plastic mistletoe and hold it over the couple. Scarlet cries as she watches her father, before he was her father, press a soft, chaste kiss to her sister's lips.
They don't talk when they go back to the TARDIS but they don't part either. Little Rose is fast asleep in her bed and the Doctor realises she's not so little anymore, he suddenly sees that his baby Scarlet has been a woman for many years. He can't quite fathom that. They curl up together in the lounge room and the TARDIS flips on a movie. The Doctor thinks his ship has a sick sense of humour when Annie comes on the screen. He feels a tear escape his eye towards the end when Albert Finney is singing his final strains when Annie leaves with her parents, who aren't really her parents. He feels Scarlet shift on the sofa and lean against his side, her slim arm wrapping around his middle.
He looks down into those big brown eyes of hers and falls in love the same way he did the first time he held her as a baby. He gives her a smile that isn't quite as brilliant as his ninth incarnation's nor as cheeky as his tenth's but still holding so much meaning.
"I'm glad I ended up with you," murmurs Scarlet, "I think Rose would be too."
He doesn't say anything but he knows she feels him cuddle her all the tighter.
He thinks its ironic that his little elf is nineteen the day he rediscovers Gallifrey and realises he has mourned for years over something that was still alive. Scarlett is already talking politics with one of the senators and he thinks he's raised a monster but he's pleased that they've accepted her as his daughter. He takes his granddaughter by the hand and leads her out of the Capitol and high onto a hill in the countryside surrounding. She doesn't struggle to keep up the pace and soon they reach the pinnacle, looking down over the glittering city in all its glory. She gasps at the sight and he drinks in the sight of her, the light of his home star glittering off her newly dyed blonde hair. She smiles that familiar, wide, cheeky grin and wonders if she knows how beautiful she is. He squeezes her hand a little tighter before he speaks.
"I always wanted to show you this Rose."
They both know he's not just talking to a grandchild and little Rose thinks that's ok. She's heard her mother's stories and she thinks its kind of cool that she had such a wicked aunty and she's glad she reminds her granddad of her. She wanders if he knows he reminds her a lot of her Dad, when he wasn't being Useless. She thinks he does and that's why he never liked him. They both wonder if Gallifrey will be their home and when they go back they think it will. Scarlet seems too attached to the Senator she's been speaking to and the Doctor thinks it might be alright to stay for a while.
Its two years before they try to make him President and he's running away again. Scarlet stays behind, she's married to a Senator and fiercely in love with the planet she calls her home world. Little Rose hates it though and she's running by his side, squealing with delight as the TARDIS breaks from the planet and rushes for the stars. She's dropped her father's surname now and the Doctor thinks he can just about cope with travelling with another Rose Tyler, she's certainly got as much spirit as the first. The travel together, picking up strays and fighting aliens. He doesn't need to knock out the first guy to break her heart, she breaks his nose instead and he's fiercely proud of her. She even manages to get him out of several scrapes, nurses him through a foolish regeneration and he pretends to be hurt when she crows about it. He thinks he needs to be a bit more careful with his remaining lives, he doesn't realise that that choice isn't his. Scarlet joins them again when politics gets too much for her but her time with them is short lived. They encounter a difficult enemy and he gets hurt and his body is too busy regenerating to let him save his baby. He doesn't know what Little Rose did after it all went black but he comes round on Gallifrey, newly formed and the universe safe but his baby is gone.
He's glad he's in his final body because it means he can die. He can't see a future now that he has lost his daughter. She wasn't Jackie's or Pete's any longer, she was his and his alone and she was gone. The funeral went by in a blur and he never saw the concerned faces. He dreams of Rose, his first Rose, the real Rose but she's not smiling as she normally does, she looks sad and he asks her why. She opens her hand and there's a little pixie dancing in her palm and the Doctor wanders exactly how much he had to drink before he passed out. Then he realises. Little Elf. Dream Rose nods and gives him a silent promise that she's still waiting for him and that he shouldn't waste his final life in torment over her, he's been too reckless with his last few. He forces himself awake and finally takes in his new appearance, fairly young, thirty-ish with jet black hair and pale skin. For some reason he thinks he'll look good with eyeliner. His eyes are a familiar deep blue and he tests his accent to find it back in the north somewhere a bit more Liverpool this time though, he likes it. He's still a bit upset that he's not ginger.
Little Rose smiles madly at him when he tells her that they're going back to the stars and she dresses him like some grungy pop star but he thinks he'll get used to it. They go back to fighting monsters and she's gone beyond his image of Rose now, and suddenly Rose Sarah Tyler, his granddaughter is her own woman and no longer the ghost of someone lost. He likes it that way. She dyes her hair black as a joke and he never thought he'd be having a gothic convention on his TARDIS but stranger things have happened. He likes the fact that it winds Gallifrey up to see them dressed that way.
They land in Cardiff 2006 to refuel and he's met by the fist of an old friend as it connects squarely with his cheek. He soon finds himself kissed better though as Jack hugs him tight and knows who he is despite the new look. He would have thought Jack's attentions would have become focused on Little Rose as introductions and stories were over but he's not even glanced her way. The Doctor thinks its weird. Secretly he's a little glad when some fellow named Owen seems to show an interest. They talk of Torchwood, the past, the future. Jack cries a little over Rose, cries a little more over Scarlet, cries a lot over Gallifrey and the Doctor thinks he told him things in the wrong order. They decide to stay a while but the Doctor wants to race through the stars again and Jack wants to follow him.
The Doctor is not surprised when Rose tells him she's fallen in love. He tells her to love with all her heart and that he'll always be only a phone call away. He kisses her forehead when he says goodbye but he holds her a little longer that usual and they both know somehow they'll never meet again but maybe that's ok. She gives him that big, mega watt smile and he tells her that he's proud of her and that he loves her. He wasn't going to be a coward this time. Jack is waiting at the TARDIS door and he takes the Doctor's hand as he steps inside. The Doctor keeps hold of him as they leave Earth behind, he knows Jack can't die. He doesn't stop him when he kisses him. He knows its okay.
Its dark in the final moments. The Doctor likes the dark. He thinks back on the years, over all the companions he had but when he gets to Rose Marion Tyler he stops. He doesn't need to think further, he needs to make no effort to know what she gave him. He thinks of love, of life, of forgiveness. He thinks of chips, pink hoodies and eyeliner. He thinks of Scarlet, of pink teddy bear wallpaper in his TARDIS, of knocking out boyfriends, of the little orphan Annie. He thinks of his little elf, of pain, of acceptance, of forgiveness in the eyes of a child. He thinks of Gallifrey reflected against her hair. He thinks of Jack and hopes he forgives him. He feels the warm fingers on his brow and the lips against his own and he knows that he does. He thinks of closing his eyes but he knows he did that hours ago but as he does she's there and he's young. He sees the brown pinstripes on his body and calls her materialistic for preferring this form to his ninth. She just gives him that grin and he melts. She pulls him close and thanks him and he asks what for. She doesn't answer but takes his hand and something amazing happens.
Rose Sarah Harper holds her son, Theta, up to the observatory eye piece and shows him the star twinkling in the heavens above him. He asks her why its so special and she tells him that's where they'll all go one day and that's when he'll get to meet the most special man in the universe. He asks if the special man is his great granddad and Rose tells him he was better than that. He was the Doctor.