Misadventures in Babysitting
The-Chibis-Are-Stalking-Me issued a challenge to appropriate one of her chapters from her story What If... as a prompt for a new story. So, I did. Probably not any of the ones she expected, let me tell you. Still, fun. Started for a short story. Forty typed pages later, I realized I was going to need chapters. Everything below in bold is hers. The rest is what my demented mind made of it. Please note, I don't own Doctor Who (although I'd never say no to the job). Neither do I own any chibis, which can't help but be a good thing, judging by what they do to our challenge issuer. Neither do I own a leather jacket. Lots of roses, though, but no Tylers. Based on Chapter 61: The Plunny Chapter
Chapter 1: The First Eight Hours
After the ninth time Rose sighed and poked the salad in front of her, the Doctor rolled his eyes and gave in. "What's wrong now?"
"Nothing." Rose answered in a too-innocent voice. "Nothing at all."
"Then why have you stabbed the poor green things in your bowl into mush?" He raised an eyebrow.
Rose shot him a look. "Have not! It's just..."
He sighed. "Just what?"
"Why are there stemmy pieces?"
He blinked at her a few times. "What?"
She grinned at him. "Look at the broken record. I said, why are there stemmy pieces? I mean, can't anyone seem to understand that it would make my life so much easier if I didn't have to pick all the little stemmy parts off?"
"Rose, I think you shouldn't drink any of that tea your mum sends anymore." The Doctor looked at her cup like it was about to jump up and try to bite him.
Rose continued, ignoring him. "I mean, the TARDIS takes the stemmy bits off, so why can't anybody else?"
There was a pause.
"Yeah, guess so."
"Good." The Doctor leaned back in his seat, watching one of the waiters stroll by. "Now eat your salad."
"I don't want to," she said, and the Doctor sighed, again. He could just feel a tantrum in the offing, and it was making his teeth itch.
"What part of 'I don't do domestic' was the problem?" he asked the Universe at large. As usual, of course, the Universe ignored him. However, the small blonde girl across from him giggled and stuck her elbow into the salad dressing.
Then she blushed violently red while he tried to pretend he hadn't seen it, though he heard a voice already admonishing her to clean it up, and was surprised to realize it was his own.
There was a tiny tug at the sleeve of his leather jacket. He looked down, trying his best to keep smiling. "Yes?" he said, calmly.
"Doctor, I haveta go to the baffroom."
"You just went to the bathroom ten minutes ago," he replied, now starting to feel quite worried. What were a few dangerous proto-temporal anomalies and the destruction of an entire solar system when compared to this... this abomination?
"But that time was justa wash my hands 'cuz they was dirty. Now I gotta go." Heavy emphasis on the word "go" and some wiggling, dancing maneuvers in the seat indicated exactly how desperate the child was.
The Doctor stood and took his little companion's tiny hand. "Rose, stay right here. I mean it, young lady. If you move from that spot, I'll turn you over my knee when I get back." He walked away from the table, already feeling her huge brown eyes glaring a smoldering hole in the back of his head. He turned in time to catch her mocking him with much rolling of the eyes and little hands on twisting hips. "And don't take over the world, either," he added.
She stuck her tongue out at him.
"Girls are stupid," said his smaller companion, as if announcing a fact.
The Doctor couldn't help the grin. He really, really couldn't. "Sometimes, Jack," the Doctor said, "boys can be even stupider. But we're not supposed to tell them."
"Ohhh," said Jack, as though the Doctor had revealed one of the great secrets of creation to him.
He found that he couldn't be angry or even actually very worried with that tiny, trusting little face beaming so innocently up into his own. Jack, as an adult, made a handsome and useful, if roguish, addition to the TARDIS crew. However, at an age of, by the Doctor's best estimation, approximately six years, he was quite adorable. His small, serious face already showed traces of his adult beauty, but this little Jack was quite shy and remarkably sensible.
Not anywhere near the handful that the approximately thirteen year-old Rose was turning out to be. Not by a long shot. The Doctor rolled his eyes and straightened his jacket.
But it wasn't their fault. Mostly, it was his. His, and the government scientists on Zurvidea. Some absolute moron among them was convinced he'd discovered the secret to eternal life using limited range time slips. Unfortunately, what the idiot had done was ripped a hole in the Vortex (approximately the size of Belgium) and the TARDIS, responding to the keening distress that only Time Lords and their sentient time machines could feel, had dropped them down without warning or ceremony, expecting them to act to seal the breach.
By the time they'd arrived, though, fully a quarter of the adult population on the solar side had been reduced to dust, including the purported genius who had invented the filthy thing.
No plans, no blue prints, and no time to deal with it, they had split up and made for the center of the anomaly. The Doctor was immune, largely, but, had Jack or Rose been hit by the now destabilized effects, they could have been torn apart. Thankfully, Jack's Vortex Manipulator made an excellent sensor to that sort of thing and the companions were able to make their way inside without harm.
Jack had taken out the protections on the computer while the Doctor was yelling at the remaining scientists and working out the quantum dispersal ratio and temporal sino-stasics calculations in his head. "I can fix it!" he had announced frantically, looking at Jack out in the lab area.
Rose stood from knocking down a large, burly, warped government official with a bit of pipe and smiled at him. 'I know you can,' her eyes told him.
The problem was, the lab area wasn't shielded and there was no way to rig one. The dispersal would require a massive reversal field. Save the world, right this minute. Save the solar system by the time he could be sure he could do it safely. But by the time he could rig a temporal grace stasis shield to protect Rose and Jack? It would be down to save the Galaxy. The planet would be dead, the TARDIS would be fighting the effects the only way she knew how, which was a thing infinitely not to be contemplated. Life and time would go directly to hell.
But they would be alive.
Rose just nodded, her eyes blazing with strength, with courage, with determination. The whole Universe should orbit around her head, he thought, and yet again, she offered herself up to be harmed for life's sake. Jack had asked for a figure, then, looking him squarely and confidently in the eye. A single stream of numbers that would limit the power of the reversal wave, making it something the TARDIS could probably correct. Without flinching, the ex-Time Agent plugged the numbers in on his manipulator, and clutched Rose tightly, shielding her with his body.
The Doctor had touched a different set of buttons and saved the world.
He had made the fools who survived bring the TARDIS to him while he took the temporal equipment to tiny bits and then incinerated the bits with the sonic screwdriver. He had torn the lab apart until he found the blue prints and took great pleasure in stuffing them into the shredder. Then, he had carried his companions out to the TARDIS himself and laid them side by side in Rose's room. Jack, because he'd been shielding Rose, had gotten the worst of it, and ended up all of five or six years old. But Rose was still tiny, too, dainty, light, and too small to be more than twelve. Which meant, if he remembered correctly, that she was about thirteen.
For a finishing touch, he had sent everyone out and blown the lab to hell.
"Doctor?" came Jack's now high pitched, soft voice, interrupting his reverie and bringing him back to the here and now. There was a splash. "Oops."
"Oh, Jack, what happened?" the Doctor asked. He touched the door open and found the little time traveler standing in the stall, completely naked and covered in water.
The Time Lord threw a hand over his mouth to stifle the laughter he felt bubbling in his chest. When he could talk and breathe at the same time, he followed Jack's accusingly pointing finger and saw the Vortex Manipulator, lying in the bottom of the toilet, sparking rather unpleasantly.
"Didn't you want to use that toilet?" he asked.
"Well, yeah," said Jack. "But I had to take my watch off, or it mighta got messed up. Then... well, it just happened."
"Your clothes?" the Doctor asked.
"It was a accident!" Jack defended loudly.
"Your clothes accidentally are on the floor?" the Doctor said.
Jack nodded, looking quite contrite for once.
"Jack Harkness," said the Doctor, slowly, "this has got to be an all time record. Even for you."
It took him quite some time to get Jack dressed and properly handled. Part of this time was due to the fact that he spent some moments glowering a hole in a man who looked entirely too much like a pedophile for the Doctor's comfort. OK, so the bloke had just come in to use the loo, but that didn't stop him from looking at Jack in a way that infuriated the Time Lord.
OK, so the bloke had only snapped a glance at him, shrugged and said, "Say, is that a human child?"
Still, that was enough to merit him a menacing death glower while the stranger dealt nervously and hastily with his own business and Jack struggled with his shirt, protected from view entirely by the Doctor's larger frame.
"I'd have thought," the Doctor said, when they were alone again, kneeling and tugging Jack's shirt onto his tiny frame himself, "that you'd have a bit more experience putting on your clothes hastily, little one."
Jack just shrugged, then smirked winsomely up at him, a tiny, cute version of his dimpled smile on his thin face. "Why do you think all my stories end the way they do?" Then Jack held his arms up and looked at the Doctor imploringly.
Sighing, the Time Lord picked him up, balanced Jack carefully against his jacket and carried him over to the sink. "Wash your hands, please."
Jack complied with only a little reluctance and the Doctor carried him back out, now worried that Rose had had too much time to cause chaos and destruction.
That had been the oddest thing, which was also the most obvious, the instant the two suddenly young humans awoke. Their little brains still had all their memories in them, but their minds were younger, less mature, less able to process what they saw and knew. Some of their reasoning had disappeared along with their shoes sizes and they occasionally did age-appropriate things for no readily apparent reason. Their personalities hadn't changed, exactly. Jack was still charming and chatty when he felt safe and comfortable. Rose was still sweet and uncannily wise when she was happy.
But in his small body, Jack rarely felt safe. And Rose, Rose was dealing with the hormonal shifts of a girl in early puberty. Last night, she'd baked them all cookies, as generous and helpful as you please. Then, she'd thrown an enormous tantrum because she couldn't find any edible ball bearings to put on the cookies.
The TARDIS had to deal with her, because the Doctor couldn't. What baffled him more than the fact that he couldn't deal with her, though, was that the time ship, admittedly sentient and ancient, could deal with her. She'd locked Rose in a room - not her own - and let her throw things and shriek until she was exhausted. Then, she'd played the girl a lullaby and finally let the Doctor in.
He came in to find the room a wreck, and picked up a drowsing Rose from the eye of the storm. The girl had smiled sleepily and cuddled into his jacket. "You smell good," was all she said. "Like leather and star dust."
He'd carried her down the hall to her own room, tucked her into bed and, unable to resist it, fondly kissed her on the forehead. "'m sorry, Doctor," she'd said, and turned over and went to sleep.
"I'm sorry, too," he'd whispered, patted her hand, and let her sleep.
Right now, though, she was not being sweet.
There was a lovely young woman sitting at the table with her, smiling kindly and trying to talk to her. Rose had her arms crossed over her chest and was glowering quite angrily at the woman, all teenage disdain and adult disgust rolled into one pouting little girl.
"All I'm saying is that your father's obviously got his hands full and might need some experienced assistance," the woman was saying as the Doctor came into what was easily earshot for him, but not close enough for the hearing of humans or the half-human inhabitants of this little world they'd landed on this morning.
Father? thought the Doctor. Unpleasant, to say the least. For a variety of reasons.
Rose had apparently had all she was going to take. She stood up, planted her hands firmly on the table and leaned in close to the woman so she could look directly into the other's eyes. "For the last effing time, he's not my father," she hissed out, an impressive feat with no sibilants. "He's my lover, and we can handle things just fine, thank you."
Oh bloody hell.
The woman gaped at Rose in outraged horror. The Doctor charged over, tugging the psychic paper out of his pocket as he came, and shifting Jack around onto his hip. Jack giggled like he was on an amusement park ride. "Uh oh! Rosie's in trouble!" he sang out.
The Doctor looked expectantly at the nosy intruder. She was going to hit him, there was no way around that. But the woman seemed too frozen in shock even to do that, so he stuffed the psychic paper into her hand.
"I am neither her father nor her lover, madam," he said, rapidly. "I am her Doctor. She is in my care until such time as she can learn to behave herself in public." This last he said while glaring at Rose.
She shifted guiltily from foot to foot and chewed on her bottom lip, even while her eyes met him, screaming defiance. He sighed. "Young ladies who do not speak to guests politely do not get dessert," he added, the only possible thing he could think of with his parenting skills rusty from - how long since he lost Miranda? He'd never been good with her, either, actually. Or any of them, out of the companions he'd had before the War who were still children. He'd been better, and yet so much worse, with Ace, for example, or Adric.
Now, Rose was all defiance, not a single trace of remorse. The woman stood up and dropped the psychic paper, then stared at the three of them as if they were aliens from outer space - which they were, but that was beside the point. "I don't believe any of you," the woman said rudely.
Rose's eyes flashed and, before the Doctor could stop her, reached across the table and delivered Jackie Tyler's ultimate lesson across the woman's sharp, astounded face.
"That does it, Rose Tyler," said the Doctor, "I am taking you home to your mother." He grabbed her arm, snatched up the psychic paper, checked he still had Jack secure, and started for the door. Rose planted her feet and tried to refuse to move.
He moved his hand down her arm and forced her to take his hand. He didn't have to drag her after that, but she moved only reluctantly as they crossed the restaurant.
He heard the disturbance behind them before she did. "Jack, put your arms around my neck and hold tight." He laughed, surprised at how suddenly amused he felt. "I know you know how," he teased.
The boy giggled and did as he was told. The Doctor flung the door open and said one word, just one. "Run!"
By the time they reached the TARDIS, Jack was whining and Rose was swearing in Gallifreyan. It would have been hilarious if she didn't look so young and if she had any idea what she was saying. She'd obviously been listening a little more closely to his conversations with the TARDIS than he thought because, while her pronunciation was ghastly, she had every word in its grammatically correct location.
"Just open the door," the Doctor said. "You can bellow about what Archaellians do with hammers later."
She unlocked the door and they flew inside. He raced to the console and set the coordinates one-handed, juggling Jack from arm to arm without a thought.
Rose just stood and watched him. "Hold that switch," he told her, gesturing at the console vaguely. She did as she was told immediately and he grinned at her.
The TARDIS dematerialized. The Doctor shouted, "Fantastic!" and whooped with laughter. He reached up to ruffle Jack's hair, only right that moment realizing that it should have occurred to him, at least once in the proceedings, to set the child down while he ran the dematerialization sequence.
He put Jack safely into the jump seat and ruffled his dark hair again. "You did very well, children," he said. Then, he turned to consider Rose. She was staring morosely at her feet. "Ah. Ok, then. Jack needs a nap."
"Not sleepy," Jack said. He yawned and rubbed his eyes as he said it.
"I think you are," the Doctor said, patting the small hands. "Go on, little one, get to bed. We'll wait for you."
Jack pouted but the Doctor's expression must have convinced him because he got up finally and left the room. The Doctor then turned to Rose, to find her brushing sharply at her cheeks.
"I'm sorry," she wailed after a second. "And we were having a nice dinner, too."
He took a deep breath. If he recalled correctly, she had been complaining about the stemmy pieces. "Ok. Do you want to tell me what happened?"
"That woman... she was... she was awful, Doctor," Rose said, her voice trembling as she said it.
He hadn't seen or heard anything particularly awful about her but then, he trusted Rose's instincts about people better than his own most of the time. Of course, that was without forty-five gallons of pituitary hormones racing at break-neck speeds through her delicate human system. Still, she was his Rose. She deserved the benefit of the doubt. He leaned back against the console and straightened his leather jacket. "Go on," he said finally.
"She was one of those women, Doctor. The wicked step-mother kind, I mean."
"What?" he demanded. Rose Tyler and fairy-tales? Those hormones must be doing more damage than he thought. Probably the estrogen.
"The kind that make nice to the kids to try and hit on their dads. My mum says they're just horrible."
"She'd know," he said, before he thought.
"See, that's just like you. Always making a joke. I'm trying to tell you something important and you just get all... oh, never mind, you don't understand!"
"Why, because I'm an alien?" he asked, remembering the disappointing moment he'd had in the basement right when they'd first met Jack.
"No, because you're a man!" she shrieked.
He decided not to tell her how absurdly pleased that assertion made him feel. Instead, he knew he was going to have to deal with the rest of her behavior. "But why did you tell her... that?"
"She was a vamp, Doctor! A cheap whore in a nice suit." She sighed and threw herself into the Captain's chair and glowered at him. "And I forgot, ok?"
Excuse me? said a voice in his head, so he echoed it aloud before anything else could come out. Then, the rest of it came out, because she was still glaring at him, stonily. "How could you forget that, exactly... I mean, like that..."
"Not that, dammit!! Like I will ever forget that I'm not, like you'll ever let me!"
"No," Rose continued, rolling her eyes, and innocently unaware of his expression. As usual. Rose was insanely good at reading people, but determinedly wouldn't or couldn't use her gifts on him. Most of his kinesics were human, he'd spent so much bloody time around them, and Rose could understand them entirely at a glance on other people, just not on him. Dammit all. "No, I forgot I was effing thirteen! If I was nineteen and said that, she might be a lot annoyed, but not freaked out. I screwed up." She took a deep breath and her whole body slumped. "I'm sorry."
He sighed deeply and leaned over her, taking her into his arms and holding her close, while she burrowed into his jacket and sobbed into his shoulder. "It's all right, Rose. The TARDIS is repairing the damage the time reversal did to you and Jack. You'll be right as rain in about another forty-eight hours or so."
"Thank God!" she said against his neck.
He laughed out loud and ruffled her hair. "Cute as a button, you are, but I'd much rather have you around without the puberty bit. Dunno how you apes can stand it, myself."
"It's hell," she agreed.
"You weren't this much trouble last time you were thirteen, were you?"
"Nah. Used to fight with Shireen all the time and got it out of my system. 'Cept I drove Mum mad."
"Fantastic," he said with a grin and set her on her feet. "Do me a favor and go check on the Captain-let, why don't you?"
"No problem. Do I have time for a nap, too? I think I wore myself out with all the shrieking and the slapping and stuff."
"Go ahead," he said with a nod. "You silly apes and your diurnal habits."
"Ugh," she said. "That sounds like a funny way to say we use separate loos!"
He laughed again as she walked out into the corridors.
After only two hours of solitary tinkering with the TARDIS console, the Doctor was surprised to discover that the ship was too quiet. He decided to get up and check on the little urchins. He told himself he was simply worried they were getting into mischief but, in truth, the TARDIS would have warned him.
No, he didn't miss Rose with her book, sitting barefoot in the jumpseat, commenting randomly and passing him tools. He certainly didn't miss Jack, under the console with him, helping impressively with the rewiring and rejigging of bits that had needed work since his fifth incarnation, of course making an innuendo of everything, and flirting with everyone, even the ship.
It was just, they were quiet. And kids and quiet was never necessarily a good thing.
He went to Rose's room, but she wasn't there. He'd even been polite and knocked for once since, as a teenager, she was more likely to have a tantrum than simply squeak and giggle if he walked in on her.
He stormed worriedly up the corridors to Jack's room and there he found them. They were lying side by side on Jack's bed, Rose holding his hand, Jack huddled in close to her and, low and behold, sucking his thumb. Any other time in the recorded history of time, he would have been furious to find them like this together, but their clothes were on - Rose was even still wearing her shoes - and it was pretty obvious what had happened.
She'd come in to check on the boy and he'd been having one of his nightmares. Rather than get the Doctor, she'd climbed into bed with him and held on to him. He imagined his precious Rose whispering soothing phrases to their small, adorable Jack, maybe even singing him a nonsense lullaby.
He reached over and removed Jack's thumb from his mouth. The Captain would not appreciate it if he had to straighten his teeth once he'd got back to full size. Then, he removed Rose's shoes and, very carefully, straightened them both against the pillows.
"Not sleepy," Jack muttered as the Doctor shifted him, but that was it. The green eyes remained closed. Rose held securely to his hand for a moment while he shifted her but, beyond that, she didn't even turn in her sleep.
He tucked the covers up tightly around their little chins and listened to the TARDIS humming soothingly in the back ground.
Ok, yeah, he was a bit tired. Maybe just a bit.
The overstuffed recliner from Rose's room appeared next to Jack's bed. The Doctor toed his shoes off and slung his jacket over Jack's door knob. With a heavy sigh, he settled in comfortably and picked up a book from Jack's night table. He stifled a laugh. The Kama Sutra, of course, the first Pan-galactic edition.
Rose shifted and muttered in her sleep. The Doctor set the book down and reached over to pat her hand. She grinned in her dreams. "My Doctor," she said possessively. He beamed with delight and watched the blankets rise and fall with the even rhythm of their breathing.
It was his last conscious thought for some time.
Half an hour later, Rose woke long enough to dig another duvet from the chest at the end of Jack's bed. She covered the Doctor quietly, stopping to check that his feet were tucked in. Then she climbed back into bed, soothed Jack's hair away from his face, and fell back to a happy sleep.
Tiny voices. Wake up. No! Comfy. Little, bitty, naughty whispers. Warm. Safe. Ickle tiny humans up to juvenile mischief. They'd never.
There was a small bright flash. The Doctor opened one eye, peered down at the giggling pair of them, and leaned back in his chair. "Are ya happy then?" he asked.
"Yep," said Rose. "Proof at last, the Doctor does too sleep!"
"Better keep your camera away from my sonic screwdriver, then," he said and grudgingly sat up. "'Cuz I can fix your proof."
"You wouldn't!" she exclaimed, delightfully scandalized.
Jack giggled and ran over. "You ticklish, Doc?" he asked.
The Doctor jumped out of the chair in a single vault, a speed faster than human beings could manage. He snatched Jack up and cuddled the little boy, then tickled him under the chin. "Not as ticklish as you are!" he replied, grinning.
Jack laughed and fought and squealed. "Help me, Rosie!" Jack yelped.
Rose ran over and started tickling Jack's sides. The Doctor grinned at her and they tickled Jack until the boy was pleading for mercy. Then, he shifted Jack a little in his embrace and started in on Rose, too.
She shrieked in protest and golden, glorious mirth. Then, apparently for fun, she tripped him. He staggered a bit, dropping carefully to his knees, and set Jack lightly on his feet. They both pounced on him.
The Doctor didn't think he'd had this much fun in years.
When they were all breathless and lying happily on the floor, though, he wondered why he suddenly expected the adult Rose to stick her head in the door, an expression of mirthful distress on her face, to demand to know what they were up to in here.