This takes place in the same universe as Come Back To Me, my post Doomsday Reuion fic, and its sequal Return For Me (which I haven't finished yet, sorry). You do not have to read either story in order to enjoy this one, but it wouldn't hurt. This fic is also a present for my lovely friend Vincelia Valentine, who gives the best reviews ever.
Rose searched frantically for the better part of an hour; opening and closing doors like a mad woman, growing more and more anxious as each empty corridor of the TARDIS revealed absolutely nothing. Her breath was coming faster now, tears just starting to burn the rim of her tired eyes, as panic threatened to overcome rationality any moment. Rose drew in a ragged half-sob as once again, the open door in front of her revealed nothing behind it. How, in the ten minutes that she'd been gone making weak tea and dry toast, had one tiny little five year old, sick with fever, managed to completely disappear?
It wasn't fair, Rose thought petulantly, not caring at all if she were acting younger than the girl she was looking for. Rose could face just about anything, and given what she'd been through, both with the Doctor, and during the time she'd worked for Torchwood, that was certainly saying something. Give her a Slitheen, a werewolf, or a disembodied life form any day, and Rose wouldn't bat an eyelash, but just the thought of loosing her baby girl made Rose go all to pieces.
Freya had been fine this morning, playing happily with her older brother; riding on his back as he'd raced down the long corridors of the TARDIS. She'd squealed in delight, begging Tyler over and over again to keep going, to run faster. When she'd refused to eat later, Rose had thought it had just been a little nausea, caused from all the excitement. An hour later though, as her daughter lay shivering under a mountain of blankets, her temperature skyrocketing, and her tiny body wracked with coughs, Rose had known how very wrong that assumption had been. God, she hadn't even been able to give her any children's paracetamol, because her father's stupid Time Lord biology made their daughter intolerant to normal human pain relievers. Bullets, poison, radiation, getting stomped by a swarm of giant beetles, sure those were no problem: just slurp down a cup of tea, grow a new body, and voila they were fine. But swallow a Panadol, and you could cancel all your plans for…well, all your plans.
Oh where could she be? At this point, Rose was almost running, terrified that every corner she turned would reveal a broken little body at the bottom of a staircase, or slumped against a wall from some sort of fever induced coma. It certainly didn't help that there was no one else on the ship to turn to. Both the Doctor and Tyler had left hours ago, searching high and low in yet another alien bazaar, to find some medicinal herbs that the little Time Lady's body could tolerate.
Just one more door, Rose told herself as calmly as possible as she navigated the spiral staircase leading to the massive wardrobe room, just one more hallway, just one more…Rose's eyes stung with unshed tears as she entered the cluttered room. She paused in the doorway, taking deep breaths as her whole body sagged in immense relief. At the far end of the room, surrounded by rows and rows of hat boxes, suit jackets, and colorful period costumes, was Freya.
She was barefoot, still dressed in her little white vest top pajamas with the pink drawstring trousers she favored so much. She was, strangely enough, leaning against the full length mirror; resting her cheek against the glass, a look of soulful contemplation on her little face. Rose approached slowly, afraid to startle her out of such a deep state of thought, but desperate to touch her, to reassure herself that she was alright. Once within her daughter's line of sight, Rose knelt down and drew Freya's little hands into her own; clasping them gently as the little girl sleepily met her gaze.
"Why'd you disappear like that sweetheart?" She asked softly, struggling desperately to keep her more violent emotions tethered. "You really scared me."
Freya's big brown eyes grew even larger, a look of remorse and confusion coming over her innocent features. "I'm sorry mummy," she answered sweetly, closing in to cuddle into Rose's arms, "I just didn't want to leave her alone for too long."
Rose was so relieved to feel the cool sweat covering the back of Freya's vest top that she almost ignored that strange response entirely. Drawing back a little, she stroked the cool skin on either side of her daughter's little freckled face, smoothing back the damp strands of dirty blond hair. "Who's alone honey," Rose asked with more patience than she actually felt, "what was so important that you left your bed and came all the way up here for?"
Freya scrunched up her face in annoyance and pulled away. "My friend mummy," she answered, rolling her eyes as if it were perfectly obvious. "Come see. I'm sure she'd like to meet you." So it was a game, Rose realized, as her daughter once again moved to lean against the glass, one slightly freckled cheek resting on its cool surface. Rose fought against a wave of guilt as the implications of that set in. She'd thought their daughter was so happy here, traveling from place to place, seeing the universe with their small family of four. Could she have been so very wrong; was Freya lonely?
Playing along, Rose addressed the empty space in front of the mirror, smiling warmly in greeting. "Hello," she said, giving a little wave, "I'm Rose. What's your name?"
Freya tugged on her mother's hand, letting out a long suffering sigh that should never had come from such a little girl. "No Mummy," she scolded lightly, "you have to do what I'm doing. Put your cheek on the glass," Freya squished the side of her face against the mirror so tightly that her lips puckered out, "like this."
"All right," Rose agreed, deciding that this wasn't a battle worth fighting, "I'll lean against the glass, if you promise to go right back to bed once I do, yeah?"
The little girl's response was interrupted by a few violent coughs. "Promise," she agreed a moment later, suddenly looking exhausted once again.
Rose moved into the mirror, intending to make this very quick, and leaned her cheek against its cool surface. Freya turned to face her, their matching noses inches apart, "Do you see her mummy?" she asked expectantly, her luminous eyes filled with hope.
Rose opened her mouth, intending to lie as all mother's do when confronted with a child's fantasy, but stopped mid-breath as she caught some inexplicable movement just beyond the mirror's glossy surface.
Freya's smile was triumphant as she noticed her mother's surprise. "That's how it works, you know," she said, as the image of a little girl in pink wool coat became crystal clear, "you can only see her out of the corner of your eye."