A.N.: After watching 'Age of Steel' I started wondering how Jackie would react to Rose's teary arrival. This is the end result.
I also have to thank xwingace for the wonderful betaing.
Disclaimer: I do now own Dr. Who, and am not making any money off of this. I write this only to satisfy my muses and plot bunnies.
Men were all the same. It didn't seem to matter how many hearts they had. Whenever they saw a woman in tears, they all ran away crossed their fingers and hoped it would all go away if they just didn't look long enough. Even her Pete had been like that. He never could deal with tears very well.
But thinking about Pete brought a pang of pain to her heart. Somewhere out there, there was a Universe where she and Pete had lived together for twenty years. Her little baby, her Rose had seen that Universe. And she had gotten her heart broken.
That coward of a Doctor was off hiding somewhere in that box of his, leaving her to deal with the mess. Not that there was much to deal with at the moment. Rose had finally cried herself to sleep after she had told her mum about this other Universe, how the other Jackie had been killed, how the other Pete had rejected her, and how their Mickey had left them.
Jackie made herself a cup of tea and stirred two cubes of sugar in. Then she went back to the room where Rose was asleep. At times like this she hated the Doctor. He made her feel so powerless. How was she supposed to deal with Alternate Universes, psychotic robots, and Alien invasions? She was just a hairdresser for God's sake. It seemed like she couldn't protect her baby girl from anything nowadays. The only thing she was good for was as a shoulder to cry on after the damage had been done.
Maybe that wasn't strictly true. The second thing she could do was to find the Doctor and knock some sense into him. He had promised to keep her daughter safe, after all. But as tempting as that idea sounded, it would involve leaving Rose, or risk waking her up, and Jackie wasn't willing to do either. There would be time enough for dealing with the Doctor later. When Rose had gotten over the worst of the shock.
Suddenly Jackie realized that her daughter's eyes were open and focused on her.
"Oh sweetheart, I thought you were sleeping," Jackie said, trying not to be unnerved by Rose's stillness and quietness. Rose had never been still or quiet in her life. Even in her sleep, she had always turned and twisted and muttered all sorts of things under her breath.
"They were rich, Mum," Rose said quietly. "Dad was successful, and well connected. Those daft schemes of his paid off. And you mom, you were hosting parties and inviting some of the world's most important people. You were known for your parties. You were so happy."
Jackie Tyler wasn't quite sure what to say to that, so she settled for stroking her daughter's hair instead. Suddenly Rose's entire body shuddered and Jackie saw tears forming in her eyes.
"I wish you could have had that, Mum," Rose whispered so quietly, Jackie almost didn't hear her.
"Now don't be ridiculous sweetheart. I'm plenty happy with what I have."
Her daughter snorted and pointedly looked at the rather tiny room and the pictures of Pete on the wall. Usually Jackie would have berated her daughter for the disrespect, but right now she was too glad to see at least a hint of normality in her Rose.
But then Rose caught sight of the photo taken on their one month anniversary and she buried her face into the pillow, though Jackie could have sworn she saw a hint of guilt on Rose's face before it disappeared into the bedding. Their one month anniversary had coincided with a lucky break for one of Pete's harebrained schemes. He had insisted on taking her out to a fancy restaurant and had even bought a new suit for himself and a wonderful new dress for her. Jackie stared at the picture, wondering if the reason that Rose found it distressing was because their formal outfits reminded her of the other universe. But why would that make Rose feel guilty? By all accounts she had helped save the other Pete's life, and the other Jackie hadn't stood a chance anyway.
With a start she realized what the problem really was, and mentally berated herself for not realizing it sooner. The other Jackie and Pete never had Rose. They were rich and successful. She and her Pete had a daughter. She was now a widow living on the Powell Estates. And her overly caring daughter had added two and two and gotten ten.
"The other Jackie, she may have had Pete, and a big house, and the most exclusive guest list in all of England, but she didn't have you. And I wouldn't trade you in for the world," she tried to assure her child.
"The Doctor said that no universe seems to be able to get it right," Rose told her, cuddling up a bit closer to her.
Jackie had to snort at that. "Your Doctor has a very large brain, but sometimes I really think that he doesn't know as much as he wants everyone to believe."
Rose looked up at her in confusion.
"You know I love a good party, and I would certainly not mind being rich, but I can be perfectly happy without inviting the President of Great Britain over for a birthday bash. And I loved your father, sweetheart, but I can live without him. But I know that I can't live without you Rose."
"I thought losing your father was the hardest thing I ever had to live thorough in my life. But it was nothing compared to the year that you were missing. And don't feel guilty about it, I know it wasn't you fault," she added when Rose opened her mouth to start the usual apologies. "When you tell me about this other Jackie, I know you expect me to feel jealousy, but what I mostly feel is pity and a deep sense of relief, that that's not me, that that's not my life."
"But dad was successful there Mum," her daughter protested, but she had started to fidget again, and her voice had become stronger, and Jackie felt relief at the knowledge that she was getting through to her daughter.
"You know when I was a little a girl my grandmother once told me that in the end, what really matters in life is not what you had, but what you gave to the world. And I'll admit that back then I though she was a slightly senile old coot, but I am older now, and a quite a bit wiser. And I know this: the Peter from the other Universe may have had a long life and his own company and powerful connections, but your father, well he gave the world an amazing, beautiful and intelligent young woman who seems to be making a habit out of saving the universe, one wrong at a time. And I think by any count that makes your father a glowing success, even if he never did manage to sell those health drinks of his."
Rose blushed and swatted an arm at her mother, but she no longer looked guilty and Jackie could have sworn she saw a hint of a smile on her daughter's face.
When Rose had first suggested that they stay for dinner, The Doctor had looked like he wanted to object but a well aimed glare from Jackie had stopped him for saying anything.
Now, helping Rose put away the leftovers, he looked the same way the Jackie felt. Content. There was still a bit of a shadow in the girl's eyes, and her smile wasn't quite as high wattage as usual, but Jackie was positive that there was nothing wrong with her daughter that couldn't be sorted out by another crying session, followed by chocolate ice cream and some old movies.
Jackie put her birthday gift from Harold into the CD player. Harold was a good man, but she did occasionally wonder if it was possible to like Elvis a little too much. Her daughter, naturally, found that little piece of information about Jackie's boyfriend very amusing, and spent the rest of the evening poking fun of Jackie and of Harold, and of Elvis. Much to Jackie's surprise however the Doctor stepped it to defend the King.
The rest of the evening was spent on childish squabbling about the merits of "Blue Suede Shoes". As Jackie watched her daughter mockingly copy Elvis' dance moves, she leaned over to the Doctor and whispered:
"You were wrong, you know." At his confused look, she elaborated: "This universe did get it right."