A/N: This is Jessa L'Rynn welcoming you to our little project. One chapter per day (except Mondays) will be uploaded by a member of our team. My fellow authors are SilverWolf7, Kathryn Shadow, Olfactory-Ventriloquism, The Chibi's Are Stalking Me, and NewDrWhoFan. We hope you enjoy our work!
I Miss My Mind the Most
Chapter 1: Here There Be Ghosts
"The house stood by itself against the Welsh moorland. It had stood for thirty years, and might stand for thirty more. Inside, everything was rubbish, but could possibly be fixed by someone extremely clever. And whatever walks there, walks alone."
"Do you mind?" snapped Jackie, turning to glower at the Doctor, who was, of course, smirking. "Honestly, you're going to annoy Uncle Mortimer." Jackie stalked away from the TARDIS and up the gravel drive, ignoring the Time Lord, and her child with him.
"And you think this is good for her condition, do you?" complained Rose. "Misquoting Shirley Jackson at her, I mean?"
The Doctor spun in surprise, then snatched his young companion up and hugged her tightly. "Rose, you recognized it. Aw, brilliant."
"Put me down," Rose insisted.
The Doctor shook his head and buried it further into Rose's hair. "Won't," he said, petulantly. He was having a very bad day, for a wide variety of reasons, and Rose's hugs were a very good cure for that sort of thing.
They'd just come to visit Jackie for a day or so, give her the bezulium Rose had picked up for her, tell her some stories, drink some tea, do some laundry. Instead, they had spent the day watching Jackie bully some very large movers and also ogle their arses. The Doctor had gotten snogged and, he suspected, ogled as well, and frankly, if he were going to be snogged and ogled by Tylers, there were easily a hundred Tylers higher on the list of acceptable snog-ogler than Jackie.
Following the rather disgusting beginning to the visit, and over a cup of tea while Jackie rudely ordered the movers around, things had gone from as bad as they could possibly get to worse than that. It was an unusual thing to happen for them when there were no aliens involved but, in this instance, the aliens were conspicuous in their absence. (That excluded the Doctor, of course, but he wasn't so much an alien as a naturalized refugee. The bloke driving for the movers was also an alien, but only in the sense that he'd come from another planet and had tentacles. In all other instances, he could easily be mistaken for any other human service transportation driver, at least any one who had learned the theory of driving from a cabbie in lower Manhattan.)
It turned out Jackie had inherited a house and a small fortune to pay for the upkeep of the house. She'd also inherited two cats, the rest of the contents of the house, the two acres the house sat on, and any other such nonsense appertaining thereunto.
Oh, and she'd lost her mind, but wasn't that just like her?
The Doctor had had such wonderful plans for this visit, and now they were all scrapped. He was absolutely certain that the Universe hated him and was gifting him a mad Jackie Tyler as proof of its utter disdain.
The best in-law is a green turf. He'd been told that before, and wasn't it just the truth? Not that Jackie was actually his in-law, just his companion's mother, and she never would be his in-law.
Not at this rate, anyway.
He reluctantly set Rose down on her feet and sighed, fingering the box in his pocket. He was really going to have to watch this because he was sure, if there was anything Jackie couldn't handle in her current fragile mental state, it was an alien courting her daughter.
Not that he would have, not really. It wasn't like...
Yes, it was, and there was really no good denying it. Rose had said she would stay forever. It was time she knew that he would stay forever, too.
Even if they had very different definitions of forever, he wasn't going to get out of it by ignoring it and hoping it would go away. That hadn't worked with the attraction at Henrick's Department Store and it wasn't likely to start working now when attraction was just a member of a long list of words that added up to an emotional cataclysm the size of the Universe. Or just four small letters, they covered it, too.
He took Rose's hand. "We'll do this, Rose. I promise you, I will find a way to make your mother better."
Rose looked up at him with trust, with confidence, and the worry in her soft, dark eyes made him want to change time and prevent this from ever having happened. "I know you will, Doctor," she said softly, and leaned into him. "I'll just... I'll go make sure she's not playing with the appliances or something."
He nodded, and looked at the TARDIS behind him. "I'd better find some place safe to put Her. This isn't exactly the best part of the country to have an alien spaceship just sitting around."
Rose smiled and nodded and went to follow her mother into the house. The Doctor watched her, the sunlight streaming down on her hair, the way her beauty dimmed even that of the golden roses that had completely taken over the guardrail of the porch. It was a very nice porch. It had a swing.
Still, he had other things he had to do. The TARDIS had to be stowed and quieted because Wales meant Cardiff and Cardiff meant certain people whose company he wasn't capable of enduring. There was a large workshop and garage off to the side of the house, and Jackie had assured him that it was his for the asking.
He moved the TARDIS and while he did, he called up the surreptitious scans he'd asked Her to take of Jackie while they traveled. (And hadn't that just been a hoot? "Just get in the TARDIS, Mum, the Doctor'll take us there." And Jackie's rejoinder: "If we end up on Mars, I'll kill you.") His sonic screwdriver hadn't found anything, so he'd set the entire power of a Space/Time ship with a mind of Her own and the ability to outsmart even him to having a look at everything that made Jackie Tyler tick.
He really could have taken them to a 62nd century psychiatric hospital and let them have a go at her. They had some of the very best treatment for the mentally ill in all of the surrounding twelve galaxies. The truth was, although he would use the rest of his regenerations denying it, no one was going to mess with the wonderfully difficult mind of someone he loved as much as Jackie Tyler (which he would also deny, with his last breath if he had to do) without him knowing exactly what they were doing every single second.
That left only one option. While Jackie Tyler was happily moving into her new house, and chattering animatedly to the ghost of the deceased great-Uncle who had left her the place, the Doctor and Rose were going to stay with her, watch over her, care for her, for however long it took.
Rose watched her mum as she opened up cupboards and peered into them with fascinated eyes. Rose had to admit it was interesting to see what had been left behind in this house. It was a small, place, really, although much bigger than her Mum's old flat, but every single square inch of space in the place seemed to be taken up with some collection or other.
Reminded Rose of the TARDIS, really.
At the moment, it was dishes. Jackie pulled down a small tea cup with a delicate little pattern of ribbons and blue birds. Uncle Mortimer had exquisite, if eclectic, taste. Mind, if her mum would stop complimenting him every time she found something particularly beautiful, Rose would feel a lot better.
"Don't s'pose Uncle Mortimer could help me with this box?" Rose complained quietly.
"Don't be silly, Rose," said Jackie. "Ghosts can't carry things. Just put it on the table."
Rose sighed and set the box down, and wondered which Viking museum the table had been stolen out of. It was gorgeous, but really the largest table Rose had seen in a modern house. Not that this house was exactly modern. It had all the amenities, sure, but the carpet had barely escaped the seventies with its life, and the paint had obviously not been changed once since the place was built.
It was, really, the most frightening day of Rose's life, and that was saying something, considering that the Doctor's hobbies ranged from explosives to inciting riots to picking major interplanetary wars with people who annoyed him (which was just about everyone who didn't see things his way) to arranging to get himself the highest listing on the pan-Galactic "Most Wanted" lists and the lists of every planet in between. Even considering that her major goal in life was to follow him until she couldn't move any more.
It had been so nice to start with, today. For some unknowable reason, the Doctor had brought her breakfast in bed, and fed her strawberries and chocolate from a delicate crystal plate. He'd told her stories about the most beautiful planets he could remember, places that he vowed to take her within the next few weeks. He'd described beautiful people and beautiful ceremonies and parties and occasions, and sworn he would take her to these places, where he devoutly attested he would be the envy of all.
He'd even, quite voluntarily, without her even suggesting it, set the coordinates for the Powell Estate. Said he wanted to talk to her mother. And never once, during all of this, had he taken those dark, burning, melt-me eyes off of her.
Between bouts of giddiness and an astonishing inability to breathe, Rose had wondered if maybe, just maybe...
But it was not to be. They'd arrived at the Estate to give Jackie her present, and found that Jackie had a surprise for them, too. Then, she'd very cheerfully announced that a ghost was coming to tea.
Rose had known, then, while Jackie happily conversed with a patch of empty air, that her days of bouncing through the stars were over. Her mother had gone very dreadfully mad, and she would have to stay with her and tend to her the rest of Jackie's life.
With a sinking, dreadful, horrific feeling, she'd looked at the Doctor, ready to send him off to find someone else to take to parties and ceremonies and occasions. Well, as ready as someone who was certain that bits of her were dying with every breath could ever be.
And the Doctor had wrapped her in a warm, tender, loving embrace, and then he'd asked Jackie if they both could come along to her new house and stay with her. Just 'til she got settled in, he said, quietly running the sonic screwdriver over her mother the whole time.
Rose had known before that he loved her, but right up until that moment, she'd never really been sure how much was love and how much was just hyperactive adrenaline-based affection for the girl who got into scrapes with him and always helped to get him out.
But the Doctor had agreed to stay, to do the "domestic" thing, to try to help. And he'd promised her six times today that he would do it, that he could do it.
Rose had never loved him more than she did right now.
Jackie had been astounded to find out that her estranged great-Uncle Mortimer had left her his house in his will. She understood it, though, the instant she saw the house, a few weeks ago. The vast lawn was dotted with an impossible variety of rose bushes. Given her only child's name, Uncle must have believed he and Jackie shared an affinity for the plant. Unfortunately, having always lived in London Council housing, this was the closest Jackie had ever been to a rose bush in her entire life.
She'd had a group of rent-a-maids come in and clean the place, at least rid it of dust and cat hair and change the sheets on the beds, but there was now a fine layer of white and black cat hair all over everything again. This was because of Diabla and Lovey, who were the spoiled ladies of the manor - an oreo cat and a tuxedo cat, one of whom was the most precious little cat you could imagine. The other, Lovey, oddly enough, was evil, incarnate.
She watched the Doctor and Rose out of the corner of her eye. It was absolutely imperative that they not escape her and go gallivanting across the cosmos again (or where ever the hell it was they went). There was more than a million pounds at stake, Rose's portion of the inheritance. Unfortunately, Rose could only claim it on the event of her marriage, and she only had until she was twenty-five to do it, or it all went to the RSPCA.
Rose and her alien lover were all the time claiming they traveled all over the universe, but Jackie was almost convinced they just had a flat in Glasgow and didn't want anyone to know. And, all right, so that box of his was bigger on the inside, it flew around, and it did tend to appear out of no where, but that didn't mean he could actually do anything useful with it.
Still, Jackie had come to terms with the fact that there was no getting rid of him. He had even changed his face and Rose still walked into his blue box with him, laughing and hugging and god-knew-what-else, all the way. Still, he was better looking this time, more her daughter's own age, even if he still hadn't gotten a proper name.
Hum. Maybe she could fix that as part of the plan.
The suits (solicitors and lawyers and one over-weight accountant) had assured her that as long as the man was breathing and competent to sign legal paperwork, he counted. So Jackie had known right then and there what she had to do.
It was time for the Doctor to make a respectable woman out of Rose and Jackie knew that would never happen if they were allowed to continue with their mad gallivanting. But how in the hell did you keep two people who acted like ping-pong balls in a room full of mousetraps in one place?
Then, she'd come up with the plan, and it was brilliant, even if she did say so. If the plan chased off the Doctor, they could find Rose a decent suitor in the next two years and, if it didn't, well, he would just have to step up and do the right thing.
Jackie had the slap and tantrum all ready. The very instant she caught them in anything that resembled a compromising position, she was going to jerk them both straight to the nearest registry office.
The Doctor moved to the overstuffed leather recliner, a large volume from Uncle's vast bookcases in hand. Rose was collapsed dejectedly on the sofa. "No you don't," snapped Jackie. "That's Uncle Mortimer's chair. Pay attention. Go over there and sit with Rose."
The Doctor nodded apologetically - wasn't he precious - and slumped onto the sofa, sprawling out, his long legs inhibited slightly by a small coffee table.
"I'm so sorry, Uncle," Jackie told the chair fondly. "Just ignore the alien. He's harmless."
"I most certainly am not," the Doctor muttered, and Rose patted his arm sympathetically.
Jackie grinned. "Now, I think it's time we discuss where everyone's sleeping. I think I want that front room. It's got such lovely light in the morning. Rose, you can have this little bedroom just off the hallway here, and Doctor, I'll let you share the Master bedroom with Uncle Mortimer."
"No, it's all right, Jackie," the Doctor said. "Let Rose have the large room. I don't have to sleep and if I do, I have a room in the TARDIS."
"Nonsense. You can't stay in my home and sleep in the garage, I'm not having it. No, you and Uncle Mortimer will get along just fine in there, I'm sure."
Rose sighed. "Think I'll stick to my room in the TARDIS," she said. "'Least it's got a window."
"Rose Marion Tyler, what an ungrateful thing to say," said Jackie. "And while I'm at it, how come you've got a window inside that box? Don't be daft, you'll sleep in a bed under my roof while you stay in my house."
The Doctor sighed. "I'll bring your window in for you," he offered. "It's just a tiny bit of tech, shouldn't set off anyone's alarms or anything."
"Are you worried?" Rose asked him, looking quite nervous.
"Nah," he said, grinning broadly. "Pfft, nah, no one's gonna know I'm here, it's fine."
Rose chewed her lip and then nodded and leaned into him to hug him. The Doctor wrapped an arm around her shoulders and smiled down at her, tenderness and possessiveness in his warm, dark gaze.
Jackie smirked quietly to herself. Perfect.