Chapter 3: The One With Jackie In It

"Where are we going now, Doctor?" Rose asked.

"Thought we'd drop in on your mum, actually," he said. "Sort of surprise her."

"She'll kill you."

Better me than you, he thought. "Nah. She'll be so happy to see you, she won't even notice you're thirteen."

"Mum's not stupid, Doctor," Rose said resentfully.

"Oh," said the Doctor. "I didn't know."

She hit him. "I don't want to go see my mum!" she added resentfully.

The Doctor, though, had his mind made up. He was taking her to Powell Estates because it was quiet and he'd had a feeling they'd been pushing their luck thus far with trying to keep the tiny humans out of harm's way for the entire time they were small.

"I want to meet your mum, Rosie," said Jack quietly.

Rose rounded on him and glowered. "Well, I don't. And stop sucking your thumb, you're going to mess your teeth up."

"I'm not," said Jack, hastily whipping his thumb out of his mouth and hiding his hand behind his back. He looked up at the Doctor with pleading green eyes.

The Doctor shook his head. They looked like siblings, honestly, they did. Then, he grinned. Fantastic, maybe that idea would stick when they were grown back up and...

And what, Doctor?

He pushed that train of thought firmly away and turned to the console to start setting the coordinates.

"Please don't," Rose begged. "Please!"

"Why is it that, all through time and space, every other sentence I hear out of you is 'Let's go see my mum!'. And then I want to go, and you're complaining! I don't understand you stupid apes at all!"

"Mean old alien!" she snapped.

"Well, two out of three, anyway," he agreed. "Go get cleaned up, we're going to see your mother."


"Rose, I'm warning you."

"No!" she shrieked.

He reached over, picked her up, and carried her down the corridor to the first room he came to. Conveniently, it was filled with cushions. He set her down inside it and watched her little face turn red with fury. "Go on," he said, "throw a tantrum. Knock yourself out." He thought very hard for a moment, and something Doris had said last night clicked into place. "Mind, it's not very attractive, but if you want, go ahead."

The effect on the girl was nigh miraculous. All the fury dropped out of her, and her face went very white, then very red. She drew in a deep breath and ran a shaking hand through her hair. At last, she straightened and looked him in the eye. "Of course, Doctor," she said in the quietest, most reasonable tone of voice. "I'm sure Mother will be glad to see us. I'm sorry for my outburst." Then, she grinned shakily and held out her small hand. "Must be the hormones," she said.

He nodded calmly and took her hand to lead her to her own room.

"Did you spank her?" Jack asked when the Doctor came back into the console room.

"Absolutely not. I'd never."

"I would," Jack said gleefully, and since he was still so tiny, the suggestive smile on his face looked impish instead of wolfish. "You should try it."

"What I should try," said the Doctor, approaching Jack with a stern frown on his face, "is washing your mouth out with soap. Go on, get changed."

The little Captain looked up at him, eyes round with shock. He seemed to realize, though, very quickly, that the Doctor was quite serious, so he took off for his room at a dead run. The Doctor sighed, lowered his head to the console, and forced himself not to thump himself unconscious. "What did I do to deserve this?" he asked the TARDIS.

Get a clue, she replied, silently.

"Bloody hormones," the Doctor muttered.

"Hello, Jackie," said the Doctor when she opened the door to her flat.

The woman looked at him and shrieked. Possibly, this was because he was holding Jack in his arms. The Doctor had had an unbelievably brilliant idea about how to avoid getting slapped. Thus, he'd dressed Jack in an adorable little sailor suit the TARDIS had turned up for them. Jack had grumbled and complained and insisted that the TARDIS was laughing at him. (She was, too, but how was the boy to know that?) He'd also vowed revenge on the Time Lord, but the Doctor didn't see how that was possible.

Rose, too, had giggled quite a bit, and snapped plenty of pictures of them.

The Doctor was now holding the tiny Captain quite comfortably in his arms because he had the idea that Jackie wouldn't slap if she had to go around a child to do it.

Turned out, he was right. Instead, she turned stark white and shaking and backed away from the door, from the Doctor, and from the little boy. "H-How l-long... Oh my GOD!" She dropped to the sofa and started fanning herself with her hand.

"She screams," said Jack, over the Doctor's shoulder to Rose.

For some reason, she was hiding behind him and didn't look to be planning to come out any time soon. "Yeah," she whispered. "She's good at that."

Jackie took a moment more to pull herself together and rounded on the Doctor. "Let me see him," she said, softly.

The Doctor had a pretty good idea what she was thinking, so he tried to move to reveal Rose. She wasn't having any of it. In fact, when he turned his head, she was no where to be seen.

"Where's my daughter?" Jackie demanded. "What have you done, you filthy alien?!"

"Now, hold on, Jackie," he said, but Jackie wasn't listening. She was carefully prying Jack out of the Doctor's arms. "This isn't what it looks like," he tried to add, over the sound of Jackie cooing.

She finally got Jack loose and held him up, studying his face. "And aren't you just the most precious little boy ever. What's your name?"

The boy shot the Doctor a vengeful, satisfied little grin. "Jack," he said, in the sweetest, most precious little voice you ever heard. "For my Gran." Butter wouldn't melt in his mouth as he smiled softly and adoringly at her.

"I see," said the older woman, as calmly as the Doctor had ever heard her speak. "Well," she said, "at least you don't have your father's ears. You sit right here, Jack Tyler, and I'll go get you some tea and biscuits. Your Dad can come with me." She reached over, fast as lightning, and snatched the Doctor's ear. Holding it forcibly between thumb and forefinger, she half-led, half-dragged the Time Lord into the kitchen with her.

The very second she let him loose, the Doctor moved to put the table between them. "Jackie, I swear to you, this is not what it looks like!"

"Then what the hell is it, Doctor!" she shrieked, circling the table like a cat stalking prey. Her hands flexed like she was already throttling him. Make it a tiger. "Because what it looks like means I'm gonna kill you."

Make it a saber toothed tiger. A big one.

"He's not..." the Doctor managed, but got no further because Jackie snatched up a mug and hurled it at him. Time Lord reflexes, he caught it, but that only seemed to infuriate her more.

"He looks like you, he's got your funny eyes, and your hair. But he favors Pete a bit, too, actually."

"Really? said the Doctor, astonished. "How is that possible?"

Jackie shrieked again, and came after him, over the table. Rose picked that moment to finally turn up and rescue him.

Jackie rounded on her and very nearly, it looked like, lost her grip on reality. She planted her hands on the table and started breathing heavily. After a few seconds to regain her composure, while Rose hovered frantically near her elbow, she stood up and leveled a glare that promised all the torments of the damned on the Doctor.

"She looks just like her mum," Jackie said. "Thank God. So now what're you gonna try to tell me? Are they human? Inside, I mean? Or are they alien spawn?"

"Oi!" shouted Rose. "Even if he was mine, he'd not be spawn and you can't say that."

"Not you, too," the Doctor pleaded. "Rose..."

"Where is Rose?" Jackie asked. "Because I'm gonna give her a piece of my mind, even if she's my age, now."

"I'm right here, Mum," said Rose, sweetly.

"I'm not your mother, Sweetheart," Jackie said, but not unkindly. "I'm your Gran. Sit down, I'll make us tea."

"I knew this was a mistake," Rose told the Doctor, who slumped into a chair and nodded. "I told you it was a mistake, but you don't listen. Think you know everything."

"She even sounds like her mother at that age. Good God." Jackie bustled around making tea and hunting up biscuits, still looking quite a bit dazed.

"Just sit down," Rose said softly, getting up to take over the tea-making herself. "Sit down and let the Doctor explain."

"She calls you Doctor, too?" Jackie demanded.

"Doctor," said Jack as he stuck his head in through the door.

"And him, too," said Jackie, in shock, and sank into a chair, finally, looking like that dead faint was coming really soon. "I give up."

"What is it, Captain?" said the Doctor, by way of emphasis.

"Mickey was here. I opened the door, and he screamed and ran away."

"Oh, no!" wailed Rose, jumped up, and left the room.

"Rose!" the Doctor shouted. "Get back here!"

The front door thudded and she was gone.

"Right, Jackie, let me make this very short. That little girl was Rose Tyler. She got caught in a temporal distortion field. The boy is Captain Jack Harkness, and he's in a great deal of trouble."

"Sorry," said Jack, looking not the least bit, "I just couldn't resist."

"Well, let me tell you something, Doctor," snarled Jackie, prodding him sharply in the chest. "You'd just better go get my daughter back and you'd better do it right now. And in her correct age. 'Cuz you know something, I'm not raising her again, I'm not. She was impossible at that age, like you can't even believe, and then you'll just turn up after I've gone through it all again and snatch her up and I'm not having it. I can't even tell you the number of times she scared me to death. Kissing total strangers in coat closets, having chips with old men when she's s'posed to be meeting Mickey and Shireen. And I can't even think about the summer she was sixteen, and then all that garbage with that disgusting Jimmy Stone. He left town, went to America and joined a cult! If I didn't know you weren't involved, I'd be sure it was all your fault!"

"You can't even begin to imagine how incredibly brave your daughter is," the Doctor interrupted softly, in a quiet, dangerous voice. "Do anything to save a life, your girl, and stronger then whole star systems besides. She's rubbed off on Captain Jack, too, and made him a right dashing hero. So don't try to blame me for her, Jackie Tyler! She's fantastic all on her own." He turned around and headed for the door. "Can you watch the Captain for me while I go find Rose? Jack?"

No answer. The Doctor looked round, hearts heavy in his chest. "Jack, where are you?"

"He must have gone to find her," said Jackie softly.

"He can't even do up his buttons properly!" the Doctor exclaimed. "If he comes back, call Rose's cell phone. I've got to go find them."

He charged over to the garage and found Mickey the Idiot sitting on the curb, looking thunderstruck and heart-broken. "Always knew it would happen one day," said Mickey the Idiot as the Doctor stormed up to him. "Just knew it. One day she'd come home with an alien baby in her arms and smiling like that at you and all. I just can't believe..."

"Where is she?" the Doctor demanded.


"We haven't got time for your silly theatrics, Ricky, where's Rose?"

The boy looked at him, blankly. "I... she didn't come to... she's..." He looked up, then jumped to his feet, following the Doctor. "She's not been here," he said to the back of the leather jacket. "What, lost her already, have you? Hah!"

"Shut it, Ricky," the Doctor growled. "She came charging out of the flat the minute Jack told us you'd been by."

"Wait... Jack? So that's that Captain's kid, not yours!? What, don't you aliens..."

"I am not going into this with you." The Doctor stormed across the estate toward the TARDIS.

"So, he what? Treated Rose like some slag and then left you to put them back together, so you thought you'd just dump them back here?"

Rage, titanic, thundering, seething, all encompassing rage flooded through the Doctor's veins. Nothing, nothing was going to save Ricky the Idiot, not this time. He rounded on the boy, grabbed him by the collar, and flung him up against the side of the TARDIS.

The boy was almost as pale as Rose, looking at the Doctor with enormous, terrified eyes. "Tell me where he is, Doctor," the boy grated out, even though he was trembling in the Time Lord's grip, even though his hands were shaking while he tried to prize himself free. "I'm gonna kill him."

The Doctor dropped him and turned away. "Sorry," he muttered.


"You don't understand what's going on, you stupid ape!" the Doctor shouted, turning back to him again, hands clenched into fists and nails biting into his own palms to stop himself throttling the young human. "It's only that you care for her... If it wasn't that..."

"Then tell me what the hell is going on, Doctor, because I swear to any gods there are that I'll murder the bastard who hurt her!"

"If it were what you thought, Mickey," the Doctor said softly, "you'd've had to dig him up first."

A short, childish scream echoed through the estates. "Jack!" the Doctor shouted and took off toward the sound at a dead run. Mickey was following him without even a pause.

"Short version," the Doctor said as they ran. "I keep having to tell this, dammit. Jack and Rose got caught in a short-term temporal distortion field. They are, respectively, six and thirteen. Rose ran out after you, Jack went out after her while I was arguing with Jackie. If I have to explain myself another time, I'm going to go mad."

The Doctor slowed as he approached the area at the back of the little play park. He was certain he'd heard the scream from here. He dropped behind a bin and peered around it until he caught sight of a shadow and a vivid red light that shouldn't be there. There were two small shapes before the impossible field of darkness - it was broad daylight out right now - and he knew he'd found his two companions. He held back to ascertain what was going on, flinging an arm across Mickey's chest to keep the boy back as well.

"Filthy Time-brats," the shadow said, in a voice like nails on a blackboard. "Children of indolence and insolence."

"What do you want with us?" Rose demanded. Even in danger, even thirteen years old, she was magnificent.

"Nothing," said the thing, its voice all the more frightening because it sounded utterly unconcerned.

"Let her go," Jack said. "If you don't need us, let her go."

"Such a brave little boy," the creature purred. The Doctor was suddenly struck by a wave of intense pride. "Protect your sister, boy. And she'll protect you. It won't matter, you're only the bait."

"What are you going to do?" demanded Rose. It was almost as if she knew he was there, and knew he would need more information. "The Doctor won't do what you want, so you'll just have to kill us!"

This time, it was Mickey's hand on his arm that stayed the Doctor. He shot the boy a weak smile of gratitude. "Mickey, I need the morpho-concatenator from the TARDIS," the Doctor whispered. "It's in the console room, blue, about six inches across and covered in lights. Here." He thrust his TARDIS key into the boy's hand. "Go, I'll make sure nothing happens to them."

Mickey nodded at last and sprinted off, keeping low. The thing probably wouldn't have noticed him, anyway, as he was utterly human. If it thought he was going to get the Doctor, it probably would have let him, even if it saw him.

"Your race died," the shadow thing mused. "All of your kind, throughout all the Universe, stopping anyone else from learning what they knew. And they finally died. But he survived, the last one, their ultimate meddler. And now you two." The thing did something to the device it held and the light cranked brighter. "I'm going to do the Universe a favor and finish off the Time Lords, once and for all."

"It'll never work," Jack shouted.

Rose snapped, at the same time, "You can stop the tide if you want to, but not the Doctor!"

"Your father will be no match for this little device. Would you care for a sample?"

Rose suddenly stood up clearly against the red light. The Doctor could make out her small face, shining, magnificent, impossibly infuriated. "This is absolutely the last time I'm saying this!" she shrieked and moved with incredible, almost inhuman speed toward the shadow thing. The Doctor jumped up and raced toward them. "He is NOT MY FATHER!!" Her hand shot forward as if pitching a cricket ball.

The shadow thing turned the red light device toward the Doctor. Whatever Rose had thrown hit the lens with a sound like all the crystal in the world exploding. There was only one chance now. The Doctor snatched the sonic screwdriver from his pocket, ducked under the explosion of staggered light, and turned the screwdriver on the device.

Rose dropped to the ground and rolled, pulling Jack to her as she moved.

As if in slow motion, the device started to expand with a sickly blue radiation. "What have you done?!?" shrieked the maddened shadow thing.

"Stopped you," said the Doctor, coldly. Then, he threw himself onto the children, snatched them up and swung Rose over his shoulder. He tucked Jack safely under his arm and ran for all their lives.

There was a muffled pop as they exited the play park. The Doctor turned slightly to see the shadow thing spiraling into the radiant blue light that was blossoming from the device. Not far enough. He kept running full out. Jackie and Mickey were racing up the street, so he thrust Jack into Mickey's arms and they all thundered down the pavement as if pursued by wolves.

With a sound like a jet engine taking off and twice as loud, the thing behind them exploded. The Doctor jerked Rose over his shoulder, tucking her child's body into his much larger one and dropped to his knees. "Down," he shouted, dragging Jackie closer with one hand.

A great rushing wind swept over their prostrate forms.

Then, there was silence.

The Doctor sat up and began automatically checking Rose over for injuries. She smiled shakily at him and pointed over to where Mickey was holding Jack.

"Is he all right?" Mickey asked worriedly.

Jack was curled up in a very small ball, shaking. The Doctor set Rose down gently, then reached over for Jack.

"Not gonna cry," Jack whispered. "Not gonna..."

The Doctor reached into Jack's little self-made cocoon and took the tiny hands in his. "You can, if you want, little one," he said softly. Jack looked up at him, green eyes wide and terrified. The Doctor held his arms open.

Without another word, Jack flung himself into them, wrapped his arms around the Doctor's neck, and sobbed.

"Is he ok?" Rose asked, entering her bedroom with tentative steps. She carried a glass of water in one hand and some children's Tylenol in the other. Jackie hovered outside the door, looking like a mother who very much wanted to mother the hell out of someone right now.

The Doctor smiled at them and nodded, then reached over and patted the tiny hands of their brave little Captain. He jerked his head toward the door and they all stepped out. With a quick kiss on Jack's small forehead, the Doctor followed them and closed the door behind him.

"He's just terribly embarrassed. His body's that of a six year old, and it tells him he's got to cry when he's that scared. He used up every ounce of adult in him while the Midid was attacking you two. A nap's the best thing for him, then some comfort food for dinner and he'll be right as rain."

Jackie looked at him as if she'd never seen him before in his life. "What?" the Doctor said.

She just shook her head, wordlessly, hand over her mouth.

"What'd'ya know," said the Doctor, beaming. "Jackie Tyler, speechless."

"Oh, you," she said, but she said it astonishingly fondly.

"What happened?" the Doctor asked Rose as they all found seats at the kitchen table.

She looked at him wistfully, so the Doctor patted his knee and smiled at her softly. Rose grinned and came over to him, let him pull her into his lap and rested her back against his chest.

"I went out to find Mickey. Thought he'd be down near the play park, because that's where we always went when we had fights when we were kids. But there was something off, something weird. I almost came back to find you, but then I was afraid the whatsits had Mickey."

"And Jack?"

"He came up right behind me that instant and he said 'That's a Midid, I thought they'd died in the...' Well, then I knew something was wrong and I decided we'd better come back because Jack's so little right now. Then... I dunno what happened. One minute we were standing there, the next we were lying in front of it."

"Ok," said the Doctor, and looked up worriedly toward Jackie. The older woman was giving him a dreamy, vacant smile while she made tea, so it was nothing to worry about, he supposed. Maybe.

"Then, there was the traditional exchange of threats - my big scary menace is bigger than your big scary menace. That sort of thing."

The Doctor grinned. "Fantastic, Rose Tyler, absolutely fantastic."

"Thanks," she said softly.

"Tea for you, Doctor. Juice for Rose."

"I don't want it," said Rose.

"Oh, hell," said Jackie. "Here we go. Drink your juice, Rose."


The Doctor smirked. "You need the vitamins, Rose. Good for running for your life. Makes you healthier and all that. And we definitely want to keep you healthy."

She glared at him, but drank the juice.

Jackie just shook her head.

"Tell you what," said the Doctor, "when Jack wakes up, we'll go out to dinner."

"Oh, no," said Jackie. "I'm not taking that one out, you've no idea what you're asking for."

"Yeah, he does, Mum," said Rose. "I destroyed a salad at him yesterday. Besides, I don't think I want to go out, either. Can we stay in and see a DVD? It's easier than me getting into another fight, don't you think?"

The Doctor smiled. "That's fine. What do you want, I'll go bring it up from the TARDIS."

"Actually, I was hoping..."

He sighed. "All right." His tongue very nearly curled up at what he was about to say. But, Rose had asked. "Jackie, would you like to come to our place?"

"Not me, thanks," said Jackie. "I've seen a bit tonight. Think I'll go out with Bev and pretend I haven't."

The Doctor grinned.

"'Sides," said Jackie, sternly, "didn't anyone ever tell you that thirteen-year-olds are NOT allowed to wear that much make up?"

Rose and Jackie decided to go a few rounds over Rose's makeup, so the Doctor wandered into the kitchen, after sternly admonishing them to take it outside so as not to wake Jack.

What was comfort food on the Boeshane Peninsula? the Doctor wondered. The TARDIS could have told him, but he was in Jackie Tyler's kitchen, so that was out.

A few minutes of rifling around, and he found all the makings of a decent noodle soup with chicken and, if he remembered correctly, that was at least comfort food in America and Jack was very American, sort of.

He followed the recipe from memory - very handy, being a genius - and soon had the soup stock started. By the time Rose and Jackie came back in with Mickey, he was neatly cutting up the cooked chicken for the soup.

"What?" he said, when Rose came in and stared at him boldly.

"Nothing," she said, and went to wash her face. Evidentally, Jackie had won.

Mickey came in and helped him put together some grilled cheese sandwiches to go with the soup. Jackie followed a few minutes later, looked at them for several minutes, and walked back out, humming the theme to the Twilight Zone.

Jack woke at last about the time the soup was ready. He came in, tossle-headed and yawning and walked straight up to Mickey, then held up his little arms. Mickey, quite surprised, picked him up and Jack kissed him on the cheek. "Thanks," said the little boy. "I'd give you a proper kiss, but you'll have to wait 'til I'm older."

Mickey rolled his eyes, set the boy down in a chair and went to wash his own face.

The Doctor laughed. "Feeling better?" he asked.

"Yeah," he said, sheepishly. "Sorry about that."

"No worries," the Doctor said. "How about some soup?"

"Oooh," Jack exclaimed, as excited as any kid his apparent age. "I love soup!"

The Doctor nodded, came over, and fished out his comb. A few deft gestures and he had Jack's hair straight again. The boy smirked at him and the Doctor shook his head. "Soup's on," he called out, and waited for the rest to arrive.

They headed back for the TARDIS after dinner, the Doctor carrying Rose this time, as she had fallen asleep on the sofa.

Jackie stopped him at the door. "I know you'll take care of them," she said softly, kindly. "Take care of yourself, too."

"Thanks, Jackie," the Doctor replied quietly, shifting Rose carefully so as not to disturb her.

"I'd've never thought..." Jackie smiled and patted Jack's head. "You know, little man," she said to the tiny Captain, "if it wasn't for your naughty mouth, I wouldn't mind you for a grandchild."

Jack smiled at her, straightening his little sailor suit and trying to look dignified. "Thank you," he said. "I hope I'll see you again." He winked outrageously and hugged her around the waist.

Jackie laughed at him. "Look after my girl," she told him.

"From a distance," the Doctor added.

Jack grinned, opened the door, and stepped out onto the balcony.

"Tell Mickey thanks from me," the Doctor said kindly.

"He'll appreciate it." Jackie laughed softly, stood on her toes, and kissed his cheek.

For that single instant, the Doctor could see quite clearly her connection to his Rose. "Thanks," he said, softly. "We'll be back by in a few weeks."

"Good, I wanna see the photos."

He shook his head and hugged Rose closer, then carried her out into the evening twilight.

The night air woke her, but she didn't want to get down. "Mickey went down the pub, then?"

"Yeah," the Doctor said with a wry grin. "Something about chicken soup being a bit domestic for him."

Rose snorted and Jack giggled and the Doctor felt more alive than he had in months.

They watched Star Wars, one of the Doctor's personal favorites. "I love this scene," he told them, pausing the DVD on the Tatooine sunset. "It's brilliant. And no, I haven't taken Lucas to see a binary sunset, so I've no idea how he got it so right."

"You love sunsets all around, don't you?" she asked, curled up at his side in her little night dress.

"Beautiful things," he agreed.

"Can I ask a question?" Jack said some time later.

"Yeah?" said Rose.

"Didn't they know when they made this thing that you can't hear that stuff in space?"

Rose grinned. "Yeah, just, you can't have a cowboy movie without the guns blazing."

"Oh," said Jack. He was silent for a few minutes, but they caught him watching the screen covetously. He grinned and gestured. "I want one of those."

"Lemme guess," said the Doctor. "Han's blaster?"

"That, too," Jack agreed. Then, his eyes lit up. "I want a light saber."

The Doctor grinned. "Don't we all."

"Nah, you'd just get your hand cut off in a sword fight," said Jack.

Rose laughed.

"Tell you what, Captain," said the Doctor. "When you're back to normal, you're on."

"Why not now?" Jack demanded indignantly.

The Doctor just looked at him and shook his head.

The Doctor tucked Jack into bed some hours later. "Get some sleep, Captain, and tomorrow, this'll all be a bad dream." He kissed the boy on the forehead and went to put out the light.

Jack sighed and beamed at him. "Think I'll just stay this size," he said. "How else am I ever gonna get you to kiss me?"

The Doctor laughed. "Buy me a drink, first," he reminded the small flirt.

Jack yawned. "When you lose the sword fight," he said softly.

The Doctor brushed a hand over the small, dimpled cheek. "I'll see you in the morning."

"Night, Doctor," Jack said. "You were... fantastic."

Rose was waiting for him in the corridor. "Do I need to tuck you in, too?"

"Sure," she replied with a wistful little smile.

"Ok, c'mon."

"I'm not tired yet," she said and followed him down the corridor. "Read me a story?"

He grinned and shoved open the door to her room. "All right."

Rose climbed up into her bed and the Doctor tucked the covers up around her chin.

"Will I remember all this?" she asked.

"It'll be very hazy," he said. "Changes your body will go through in the night, it'll wipe out most of the short term."

"Then, I'm sorry for being such a pain in the arse."

"You were fantastic, Rose," he replied sincerely.

"You were domestic, Doctor," she teased back. Then, her small face sobered and she studied him with a serious expression, reaching for his hand. "It was amazing." She smiled up at him, shyly, then. "But you're not mad?"

"No, not at all. You're right, it was almost amazing."

"Do you still love me, then?" she asked sleepily.

He looked deep into her eyes, saw there the reflections of things that could never be, taxies and street corners at two am, houses with curtains. A little girl with silver blue eyes, dark hair, and Rose's glowing smile. A little boy with golden curls and deep, dark, stormy eyes. "'Course I do," he admitted softly.

"Good then." She yawned. "Love you, too."

"I know." He patted her small hands, then settled into his chair next to her bed. He picked up a book from her bedside table and grinned at it. Well, why not.

"Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of Number 4, Privet Drive, were proud to say they were perfectly normal, thank you very much..."