Rose stood in front of the mirror in nothing but a damp towel, looking at herself from several angles. She didn't look very pregnant. Her breasts were the same size, there was no glow (that she could discern—everyone else she encountered said she looked absolutely radiant), and her stomach was still entirely flat. Well, not entirely flat. She was hardly "washboard" prior to getting thoroughly (and intoxicatingly) knocked up.

Every time she thought of the term, it caused a grin to break out on her face. All the little euphemisms made her smile like an idiot. 'In a family way' was one of her favorites.

Shouldn't she be changing by now? It had been four months. Pulling her hair off of her neck, she tried to determine if she was putting on any weight in her face. Something about her seemed rounder, or maybe she just hoped she was a bit different.

The one that actually caused her to make an undignified sound somewhere between gushing and drooling had been from her mother's own lips.

She'd been sitting in her mother's kitchen, staring into the back of her spoon and wondering if the shine she saw on her cheeks was excessive oil production or motherhood's glow, when the Doctor MAY have asked offhandedly how Jackie 'wanted to do this.' He kept denying it. But she'd heard the next part clear as day, and he wasn't backing out of that bit. Did Jackie want a shotgun wedding to preserve her daughter's honor, or if it'd ruin Rose's chavvy street cred to get married. Or they could be all 'modern' and just live together. But they were already living together. This would be a SPECIAL living together. Maybe in a house, with carpets! Jackie'd have to visit, of course. But she couldn't stay, because he didn't want any Time Tots of his to start talking in a high-pitched chirp the way she did, it was bad enough he had to live with Rose's neglected consonants and abused vowels.

Before Rose could even clench her eyes shut, or yell for him to shut his big damned higher-species mouth, Jackie had drawn in a sucking breath and let it back out again in a bellowing tirade.

"Rose Marian Tyler, I cannot believe that you allowed him to… to… JIGGERYPOKERY you! And without protection! Now you're incubating his nattery little alien-spawn from the planet Mars! I can't believe you! Now my grandbaby's going to have two hearts and six arms and four eyes and…and tentacles! Oh my god, my grandbaby's a tentacle monster! I've seen those Japan-cartoons!"

Coming into the lounge, Rose had pointed her spoon at the Doctor, who was inching toward the door to the flat. "YOU are not allowed to talk to human beings ever again." She turned to her mother. "Mum, just calm down. This baby's going to be perfectly normal. Ok, it's going to have two hearts. But it's going to have ten little fingers and ten little toes, and you're going to love it. If I have to kill you into loving it."

The Doctor grinned wildly, his hand on the door knob. "Granted they'll be spread out over three arms and six legs. But you'll never even notice all those extra eyes!" Yanking the door open, he retreated through, like a man trying to evade death.

And Rose had just stood there, grinning at her mother stupidly, still wondering if she was oily or had magic mummy glow. "Yes, I'm incubating his nattery little alien-spawn." She grinned and giggled.

Somehow, this caused Jackie-tough-as-nails Tyler to cry.

Rose just sighed and rubbed her mother's shoulders. "It's going to be alright!"

Wiping a hand under her eyes, Jackie left streaks of mascara . "Just what am I supposed to tell your grandmother?"

Suggesting the truth had upset Jackie further. "You'll think up a convincing lie" hadn't really done all that good at calming Jackie either. Eventually Rose had to just let it ride and let her mother cry it out. Now Jackie just referred to the Doctor as the 'nattery bloody alien oaf who made me an alien grandmother.'

Rose hoped that meant they were bonding.

Of course, when the Doctor peaked his head into Rose's old bedroom and she saw the red and purple knot on his forehead, she didn't have much hope for the whole 'one big happy family' thing. He was a bit out of breath, but she didn't know if it was because she was declothed, or if Jackie was making him run for his life (again). "Dinner?" he clucked in a squeaky, high-pitched voice. "Save me? She's talking about cradles, cribs, cots and other frightening child-beds that begin with the letter C."

Rubbing her smooth-ish tummy, she looked at herself in the mirror. "Wait till I start showing. That'll make her happy and she'll calm down because it'll be real to her and she'll have something to look forward to."

Closing the bedroom door, he sat exhaustedly on the magenta-clad bed. "May not survive that long. She just wrung up someone on the phone, and thrust it at me, and when I wouldn't take it, she tried clubbing me to death with it," he rubbed the bump on his forehead. "Then she made me tell your grandmother, who asked when the wedding was…"

Laughing at him, but trying to make it seem like she wasn't laughing at him, she ran her hands along her sides, wondering if there was more of those than there were before. There should have been. Shouldn't there? "Oh, I've been meaning to ask. How does this work? Like a human pregnancy? Nine months?"

"Not exactly."

Turning around, Rose inspected her bottom in the mirror, swishing it from side to side. "Longer? Shorter? In-between-er?"

Trying to swallow, the Doctor licked his lips. "Try twenty-five," he stuttered in a soft, bairly audible voice.

Rose spun around in shock. "Twenty-five months?"

Smiling cautiously, the Doctor slid to the corner of the bed furthest from Rose. "Uh…twenty-five, um…years."

"WHAT?"

He suddenly looked defensive, as if she'd just insulted his mother or something. "Rose, think about it! One body'll last two hundred and fifty years. That's light years ahead of humans in this time period. So of COURSE our gestation period is…comparatively longer." Sighing, the Doctor threw himself back on the bed, then stared at the pattern on the ceiling. "Why do you think we perfected the artificial womb?"

Grabbing hold of the chair in the corner of her room, Rose tried to steady herself. "OK. This is going to be a little bit… tough to deal with. For the next QUARTER CENTURY!?"

The Doctor flung an arm over his eyes. "See, I knew you'd be just like this. It's why I have a plan."

"Oh it MUST be the end of the world! YOU Have a plan! Alright, fearless leader, what're we going to do about this? About ME? For the next quarter of my life?

Despite continuing to hide his eyes (probably because of the headache that was no doubt forming behind those depthless brown eyes), the Doctor grinned. "I've thought of this. How's about a surrogate? In a few weeks, the baby will be old enough to transfer to another womb. And then right back to the way we were! Running about and saving things."

Rose pinched the bridge of her nose. Just WHO are you going to get to be pregnant for twenty-five years?

"Someone indestructible for starters. Gallifreyans are, size-wise, the equivalent of a primary schooler when they're born.

Looking up at the ceiling, Rose wondered just where you'd find someone like that. "Jack?"

The Doctor shook his head. "No. He said he wasn't doing that ever again."

"Well, that's all the indistructable people I can think of!"

Sitting up, the Doctor somhow managed to repress a grin. "We have an appoiontment with the Face of Boe in the year 199,975. He's willing to do it with very few strings attached, no questions asked."

Still stark naked, Rose put her hands on her hips. "And just what's the catch?"

The Doctor shrugged. "Very minor. Visitation and naming rights."

Rose held out a hand to the Doctor. "Done."

"Are you sure?"

Face twisting incredulously, Rose cocked her head at him. "The impending joys of motherhood are one thing. But twenty-five years is a bit…ok, it's a lot. And lets just put it this way. Boe can have visitation rights. It'll be like having a free babysitter." She shook her head. "Twenty-five years?"

Giving her his best toothy grin, the Doctor shrugged. "I must have mentioned it. At some point. Or another."

"Uhh huh. I think I'd have remembered that," she replied sarcastically.

"Foetal transfer's easy-peasy! Then we pop into our handy time machine, dial it forward a bit, and presto! Instant parenthood! Just add water!"

"I don't think water is what's gotten me into this mess."

The Doctor smiled, rather sure of himself. "Or little swimmers… as the case may be! Come on, Rose…we've got a date with a face!"

THE END