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This story was requested by AFantasticRose. It's slightly AU. Takes place after PotW, but the Doctor didn't regenerate. Rose knows about regeneration, not that it matters to this story. Oh, and they know where Jack is and visit him from time to time, so I've sorta messed up Torchwood, too, but hey, I own Doctor Who (that ALSO is in an alternate universe).
I was requested to make this 9/Rose, include a little girl from a war torn planet that they are to care for, and to have to face Jackie while dealing with said child.
It's sorta been done, so I decided to add a tiny bit of a twist.
This is two chapters long.
The Star Child
Jack phoned them to let them know he had a weekend free, so they decided to pop by for a visit. "Call Jackie and Mickey the Idiot," the Doctor suggested. "Let them know we'll be in Cardiff if they want to see you."
"All right," Rose agreed cheerfully. She placed the call and didn't think, she really didn't.
When they arrived in Cardiff, the Doctor insisted that he would carry the baby. Rose teased him that he just didn't want to be caught, dead or alive, carrying the changing bag or anything like that. He shook his head and repacked everything into a dark rucksack he'd found somewhere. "More efficient, anyway. Can't understand how anyone can find anything in one of those frilly, fluffy things you've been lugging around."
"We're taking this from now on," Rose agreed, especially because this bag was connected to the TARDIS, which meant they didn't have to take Starr's bottles with them. "Still, Jack's gonna laugh at you."
"Jack's the reason I'm carrying the baby," he said.
"She's a little young for him to flirt with," Rose answered.
"I know, but try telling him that."
"You're just worried he'll hit on you. The baby might make it worse. Some men like that."
The Doctor, still managing to look every inch the Oncoming Storm with an eight month old child on his shoulder, turned to her and said, firmly, "He's not allowed to hit on you, me, or the baby."
As an after thought, on the way out the door, he added, "Neither is Mickey."
Jack didn't try to flirt with Starr too much, but she adored him instantly, anyway. He insisted on being allowed to carry her, and Rose was sure she saw pain in his bright green eyes when he held her and kissed her pale pink forehead. The four of them made their way over to meet the train that was bringing Jackie and Mickey over from London.
Starr was pointing at everything she saw and making up some noise to go with it. The Doctor said that was part of her education. Rose said it was precious, and no one could argue with that. Jack handed Starr into Rose's arms and turned to help Jackie from the train, while the Doctor grabbed a paper from the news agent and made his way back through the crowds.
Jackie stared at Starr in undisguised, unadulterated shock. "Oh my GOD!" she exclaimed. Jack caught her arm to hold her steady, and Mickey stepped around to catch her other arm. "Oh my god," she whispered. "Mickey, you were right, oh my god."
"I told you," Mickey said with a sigh.
"Um..." began Rose, completely baffled. "Yeah, can I get that again in English?"
Jackie shook her head. "Let me see her."
Rose shrugged and nodded and passed Starr over. She gestured Jack to keep a tight hold on her mum, though, because the woman still looked like she might faint any second.
"Rose," she said, looking devastated, "I'm your mother. Why didn't you tell me?"
"Tell you what?" Rose asked, still completely confused.
"What's she called?" Mickey asked. "Is it... I mean, can we pronounce it?"
"Her name's Starr," Rose answered, and reached over to soothe the golden hair that had gotten wispy and flyaway in the Cardiff weather.
"She looks just like you," Jackie said. Then, she shook her head. "She looks like you, not him, oh thank god."
Oh, thought Rose, finally cottoning on. She started to say something to correct the misapprehension when the Doctor turned up and grinned down at her. "She does a bit, you know," he said. "I hadn't thought about it before."
"I distinctly remember you saying you weren't shagging my daughter," Jackie snapped quietly.
The Doctor looked baffled, but shrugged. "Well, that's not the sort of thing that gets bandied about in public where I'm from."
Jack laughed, a genuinely happy laugh that bubbled up from his chest and made Starr giggle in Jackie's arms. Jackie raised the baby to her shoulder, and soothed her back, but didn't move to pass her off to anyone else.
"Alien menace," Jackie growled at the Doctor.
"Now, Jackie," chided the Doctor gently, "don't you want to take this some place private if you're going to yell at me?"
"I'll do more than yell at you," she said. "I oughtta murder you. You lied to me!"
"There's no way I'd've told you the truth. You hit too hard, even when I lie. Mind, I wasn't lying at the time..."
"I vote we head back to the TARDIS," Jack said. "This conversation's getting a bit too personal and Mickey looks like he might be sick. Rose, are you all right?"
Rose had been trying very, very hard not to laugh at the Doctor's flippant, arrogant responses to Jackie's ranting. But she was also confused. Any time she and the Doctor had had the slightest disagreement, Starr was utterly inconsolable until they both calmed down. "Is something wrong with her?" she asked the Doctor softly.
"What?" He took the baby, despite Jackie's protests, and looked at her carefully while Jack led the others on ahead. "No, she's fine. Why?"
"Well, you know, telepathic alien baby."
"Oh, that," he said. "Nah, just your mum isn't as pissed off as she's trying to let on. How'd she figure it out anyway?"
"She thinks Starr is ours."
"Ohhh," he realized. He chuckled then and handed the baby over to Rose. "What'd you tell her?"
"I hadn't realized, and then you came over and started picking on her."
This time, he laughed out loud.
The Doctor made Jack pick out a restaurant instead and he chose something far enough away from the train that Mickey had time to calm down and Jackie had time to smack the back of the Doctor's head. Still, she waited until after he'd given the baby back to Jack.
"Can I hold her?" Mickey asked as they walked.
The Doctor hesitated. "Yeah, go ahead," Rose said, but the Doctor stopped Jack and looked at Mickey very carefully.
"Yes," he said after a moment. "But make sure you think happy thoughts, yeah?"
"Sure," said Mickey, looking a bit confused and dubious.
Jackie tutted disapprovingly. The Doctor shook his head and actually apologized. "It was custom with the weight of law on my planet; only immediate family get to hold the kids. Sorry, Mickey. But, she's telepathic, so I'm not sure if that wouldn't be better for her as well. Still, you're doing fine."
Indeed, Starr seemed absolutely fascinated with him, kept tugging at his shirt and squealing with giddy infant laughter every time he looked down at her.
Jack was looking startled and thoughtful. Rose reached over and put a hand on his shoulder. "What is it?" she asked softly.
"He just handed her to me," Jack said softly. "Didn't even stop to let me ask her name. And he flinches every time I touch him, I thought... But..."
Rose smiled. "Feeling better then?" she asked.
Jack grinned and drew her into a one-armed hug.
"Hands off the blonde," the Doctor said calmly.
Jack snatched Rose up, laughing, and charged off with her. The Doctor laughed and thundered after him.
"They're mad," Jackie explained to Mickey.
"Yeah," he agreed. "Mummy and Daddy and Auntie Jack are completely nutters," he told Starr in a baby voice.
She squealed happily and, it looked like, nodded agreement.
"She's not ours," the Doctor confessed over dinner. "I mean, we've sort of adopted her, but she was given to us. We can't keep her."
Rose's heart broke for him, just seeing the devastated expression he was trying so very hard to hide. He had mashed some vegetables from his plate into an absolute puree and was trying to feed the mess to Starr. She apparently didn't find it any more appetizing than he did, but he was making an heroic effort.
Mickey and Jack talked, and Rose talked some, but mostly she was watching her mother gawk at the Doctor in undisguised fascination. Rose reached into the bag she was carrying, concentrating on Starr's lunch, and brought her hand out with a small jar of baby food and a miniature spoon with an ornate infinity symbol carved in the handle. She handed the spoon and the jar to the Doctor and he kissed her briefly in thanks.
"Are you shagging my daughter?" Jackie asked him at last.
All the conversations went silent.
"At the moment?" he said distractedly, still trying to coax Starr into eating, what was in the baby food bottle, this time.
"Prat," Jackie answered. "Give her here."
He shrugged and passed the baby over the table. Starr giggled happily. Rose beamed at her proudly. She would never be afraid of anyone, it seemed. If they could just maintain this aspect of her personality as she grew up...
Rose's eyes blurred as it hit her all at once. Oh, gods, it hurt.
The Doctor wrapped his arm around her shoulder and tugged her into a hug against his jacket. "I know," he whispered. "I'm sorry. I know."
Still, Starr stayed with them. They bounced from world to world, avoiding places the Doctor knew for sure they would have trouble and, though they never talked about it, places where they could find a family who could take her. They got in trouble from time to time, and they rescued each other and still managed to keep the baby safe.
She learned to say "Da da" one clear morning while they were running for their lives with Starr strapped in a clever little carrier across Rose's back. The Doctor let them into the TARDIS with Starr still proudly calling him "Da" and he sent Rose to put her to bed.
When Rose found him a few hours later, his face was wet and his blue eyes looked almost as shattered as they had after the encounter with the lone Dalek. "We can't keep her," he whispered. Rose held him tightly and listened to the heavy rant of his absolute silence.
The morning he came in from playing at repairing the TARDIS to find Rose singing a soft lullaby to the quietly sobbing little girl very nearly broke him. Her dark eyes smiled so gently and the tears stilled in Starr's as she watched him walk toward them. "Why can't we keep her?" Rose's eyes asked him, though she never said a word, just sang her lilting tune and held the little girl close.
"I don't know," he didn't answer, just sat gingerly on the arm of the recliner and held onto his little family for dear life. After a moment, his voice blended with Rose's, rising and shifting in perfect harmony, and the song was all that kept them both from falling completely to pieces.
Starr learned to walk in the TARDIS, leaning on Rose or the handy rails the sentient ship supplied, taking tiny, wobbly steps to reach the Doctor and cling to his leather jacket. Then she would bounce off of him and toddle slowly back to Rose, falling down and shrieking with hilarity every time her little bottom hit the floor.
The Doctor kept his telepathic communion with her almost constant after that, just to make sure she didn't try to wander off, or do too much and hurt herself. He had rarely been happier in his life than he was on nights when he and Rose lay in his bed, with Starr, exhausted from her efforts of the day, sleeping contentedly between them.
He spoke to Rose about his past while they lay there in the dark on those nights. Sometimes she cried. Once or twice, he did. Her mind and his grew entwined, the link forged in the heartache of fear and completed in the burning of the Vortex becoming something stronger, something precious, something unbreakable. He admitted that he'd always wanted this with her, but been afraid to commit to it, been afraid to ask it of her.
The necessity of providing telepathic communion for Starr made him braver, and the knowledge that he would have to give Starr up made the connection to Rose an imperative that he couldn't ignore. The unsolemnitized nature of their union became a forgotten triviality. They were together, she was his, he was hers, they just were. Her Doctor and his Rose, and their Star Child.
The day they met Sarah Jane Smith was particularly hard because, of all the people Rose had imagined who had travelled with the Doctor before, Sarah's still beautiful face would never have been one she pictured. They had left Starr with Jackie intermittently, but had her with them the day it all came crashing down.
Sarah Jane offered to keep her. Rose was tempted by that, but another idea was forming in her head as she watched the Doctor thank his friend and apologize for oh, so many things. He offered to take her home and she accepted, then laughingly dove into the TARDIS corridors, dragging Mickey along for company, claiming that she wanted to see if anything she remembered was still there. Rose was grateful for the time; she and Sarah Jane had exchanged a silent, wordless conversation on that point.
"Doctor," she said, as they prepared to take the TARDIS back to Croydon (he was sure he could hit Croydon, this time).
"What is it?" he asked, easily reading her nervousness and the worry that she was going to say the wrong thing.
"I could stay."
"What?" he demanded.
"No, seriously, hear me out." She sighed and put Starr down in the little play area the TARDIS had designed for her to keep her out of trouble in the console room. "I could get a place for me and Starr. I'd have my mum and Sarah Jane and... and you could keep her, that way. Wouldn't have to worry about her, so much. Jack'd give me a job, I'm sure, so I could afford it, maybe doing his filing and stuff, not actually hunting aliens. I could keep her and... and you'd have a home to come to, with us."
He looked thunderstruck, alarmed, appalled, elated all at once. His mind was a jangling cacophony inside her head, so much that she couldn't make out what his reaction was. "I don't want to leave you," she said. "I want to stay with you. But... you want her to be with us, and it isn't safe, we know that now, but..."
He stopped her, both hands on her shoulders. "You'd do that?" he asked. "For me?"
"Wouldn't be so bad, would it?" she ventured. "I'd still be with you - it'd be like, you know, nine to five saving the world, then home for supper."
He snatched her close and held her tight, his arms shaking as she buried her face in the leather of his jacket and forced herself not to cry. It was a terrible choice, but she'd do it, do it every day, just to be sure he could have a real life, and still do what he was supposed to do.
"I love you," he whispered into her hair, so softly she couldn't even be sure he said it aloud.
"Well, yeah," she agreed, only just this second realizing that he'd never actually said it before. "I love you."
It had to happen eventually, but it came as a complete shock to both of them when it did. They were on New Earth again, having taken Mickey for a visit with the Face of Boe, when the Doctor stopped suddenly in mid-description and looked around in horror.
They were sitting out of the lawn above the City, the apple grass smelling like heaven on New Earth. Boe in his tank and his friend Hame the Cat were talking to Mickey a few feet away. Starr was toddling around, still too tiny to rely on her chubby little legs for much of anything, but the grass was clean and Rose was quick enough to keep her from putting anything into her mouth.
"It's time," the Doctor whispered.
He was shaking. Rose stared at him, appalled. "You mean..." she couldn't say it, she really couldn't.
The Face of Boe seemed to have known. He looked up in sympathy and "spoke" kindly, apologetically. "We will care for her, until the time is right," he said silently.
The time lines had coalesced. The Doctor tried to shuffle through them, searching desperately for one, any one, that didn't have to end this way. The only ones he could reach that didn't end with losing her like this ended in death and destruction instead. He couldn't bear it.
He darted across the lawn and snatched Starr up, holding her close, whispering things he never thought he would say aloud again to anyone. Rose appeared at his side, looking weak and pale, and as shaky as he felt. He dragged her into the embrace as well, and they were leaning on each other, clinging, fighting tears. Starr, for the first time either of them could remember, burst into absolutely inconsolable tears and sobbed in uncomprehending anguish.
She had cried before, of course, all babies did, but it was never like this. She wouldn't still, wouldn't stop, wouldn't be comforted. "Da," she protested.
"I know," the Doctor whispered. "Oh, I'm sorry."
"We love you," Rose insisted. "We'll always love you."
"Mama!!" she shrieked as Hame came to take her from them.
Rose broke. "You never called me that," she whispered through tears. "Oh, I love you. I'll miss you, we'll never forget you, not ever."
"She will never forget you, either," the Face of Boe promised.
The Cat nurse took the little girl from the Doctor's trembling hands. He stopped her briefly, laid a tender kiss on the baby's forehead. "My little one," he whispered. Then, he laid a hand on her brow, pronounced a soft, chiming benediction. "Sleep, Star Child," he said, at last.
Their little girl closed her vivid blue eyes. The Doctor almost managed a smile as he stroked her golden hair one last time. "I love you," he whispered into the sudden silence. A single tear made its solitary way down his suddenly old and weary face.
Hame stepped close to the tank and, with a flash of blue, she and the Face of Boe and the Star Child were gone. Mickey stood silently and shook his head, before wandering back to the TARDIS, leaving the couple to comfort one another.
Even the wind didn't dare blow to interrupt their grief.
The planet of Rakku was awash in a celebration of peace. The Star Child had returned at long last and the days of war were over. The people were happily beating their swords into plowshares, and their young leader looked down on the giddy chaos below, smiling a wistful, far away smile.
The return of the Star Child had been prophesied since the War broke out. Her parents had supposedly been the last two legitimate leaders of the two separate sects.
Starr didn't know that. All she knew was that peace was the way things were meant to be. Her father, her real father, would be proud. She could hardly remember him, or her mother, but Boe had promised her that her memories were true. Her mother was a golden haired flower of a girl, her father a wounded, reluctant soldier with star-fire eyes.
He would be proud, because she would heal a world, a whole world, and without firing a single shot. He was, after all, a Doctor, with all the healing that entailed. Starr was his daughter and, though she could barely remember him, she would do what he would do: save this world, and make it better.
She fingered the infinity medallion around her neck and watched the parties below her with laughter in her eyes. As she made her way to bed for the night, she hoped they had bananas, as they'd need them.
Time sang itself into the way things were meant to be around her, and the Star Child slept, dreaming of blue boxes and her mother's dark eyes, and her father's giddy, shining smile.