Disclaimer: The BBC owns all, I am merely borrowing.
Spoilers: Through Voyage of the Damned.
Author's Notes: Follows soon after Choices We Made. The Doctor, Rose and their daughter settle into life on board the TARDIS. Each part of this story contains a series of connected vignettes that cover the five years between CWM and a sequel.
The Doctor was not sulking. He was currently very busy glaring at a handful of wires, but that had nothing to do with the aggravation churning in his gut. He'd been planning to rewire the humidity controls in the spare aquarium for years. But even the complex color coding of the wiring couldn't distract him forever.
He'd made a simple request of his ship and she'd had the gall to laugh at the suggestion. Spare aquarium that no one ever ever visited, fine. But a lovely little classroom? Oh, no. That was beyond her dignity. He'd envisioned a neat little room with a chalkboard and motivational posters and desks with a variety of gum stuck underneath. And one of those maps that could be pulled down and snapped back into place. Although, it would need quite a bit of jiggery pokery to handle all the topography of the universe.
Sparks hit his hand and he swore, jerking the injured appendage away. As he considered leaving the wires in a tangle to further vex his ship, Rose poked her head through the doorway.
"There you are! I asked the TARDIS where you'd gotten to and she said aquarium. Didn't know where that was. Bit dusty in here." Rose wiped the glass of the nearest tank with her sleeve and leaned closer. "Where are all the fish?"
"This is the spare aquarium," he explained with a sigh. "Really just a closet compared to the proper one. I've never had a surplus of fish on board, so it's empty."
"Oh." Spotting the pile of wires on the floor, Rose frowned. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Everything's fine. Molto bene."
"You're sulking," she concluded, folding her arms across her chest.
"Time Lords never sulk," he insisted with his loftiest expression.
"You only do that much wiring when you're upset 'bout something."
He hurried to shove the wires back into the open wall panel. "Wiring? No, no, no, no, no. I was just...checking. You know...checking? Just, checking things that needed to be checked. Can't let things go unchecked, Rose. There could be consequences."
"Doctor," she encouraged with the greatest patience. "What is it?"
"You know how you said I should spend some time with our daughter." He carefully emphasized the last word, still delighting in the pleasure of actually having a reason to say it.
She nodded. "Father daughter time. Yeah?"
"Well...I thought it would be a great opportunity to start her education. Teach her a few tricks of the trade. All about being a Time Lord."
Rose laughed and gave him a look that suggested he was the silliest alien she'd ever met. Which, considering they'd recently met giant frogs obsessed with chewing taffy, was not in any way reassuring.
"Well, yeah. You've got to do that. But, Doctor, I meant like a picnic. Or read her a book. Or go for ice cream. I mean, I never had a dad around, growin' up. But that's what other fathers did with their daughters. You missed out on the first couple years. You should spend some time just getting to know each other."
"There'll be books," the Doctor argued. "And I'm certainly fond of both picnics and ice cream. So, maybe we could have field trips. Oh! Do you think she'd like a visit to the blooming fields of Kalladra? Flowers as big as your head? Well, relatively speaking. If you're a Kalladran they're quite a bit bigger than that." He glared at the ceiling. "Of course, they can't be real field trips if I haven't a classroom to teach in."
The wall sparked again and he jumped away from it.
"That what this is about? Can't you use another room?"
He sighed. "Won't have the same educational good karma, Rose."
"But...you've only got one student."
Rose, it turned out, was just as stubbornly logical as the TARDIS.
"That's not the point! A classroom is the perfect environment for learning. Renowned throughout the universe for turning little terrors into perfectly capable citizens."
"Neither really applies to Hope, you know."
"Well, it can't hurt," he insisted, turning away to finish sorting the wires left over from his repairs.
"That what classrooms looked like on your planet?"
His hands stilled.
Rose carefully touched his shoulder. "Doctor, I..."
"Didn't really have classrooms. Not a very social bunch, my people. We learned on our own mostly. Oh, there were syllabuses and tests, of course. They loved tests. All those percentiles to look at."
She grinned, giddy that he'd actually replied. "Bet you hated that."
"Failed. Every time. Well, almost every time. Fifty-one percent the second time 'round. Got past my piloting test with only fifty-three questions wrong. Then I nicked the TARDIS and that was that."
"Mum always warned me 'bout men like you," she teased, arms slipping around his waist as she rested her chin on his shoulder. "You're a slacker and a thief."
"Nonsense. I'm ridiculously clever and the TARDIS was elated to be stolen. She was about to be decommissioned." He closed the wall panel and tenderly brushed a hand across the metal. "I suspect she knew what a great pair we'd make."
"Mmmm," Rose agreed. "Think it'll be...recess any time soon?"
"Rule number one, don't wander off. Rule number two." The Doctor paused, squinting at a book on one of the shelves that lined the study. "Don't wander off. Rule number three--"
"Don't wander off?" Hope interrupted, craning her neck to watch her father as he passed behind the sofa.
"No. Bananas are good. Always carry a banana with you. Now, rule number fo--"
She wrinkled her nose. "Isn't that awkward? Carryin' a banana around?"
"Don't be silly. You keep it in one of your pockets. Although, you do have to remember the date of expiration. Otherwise, well..."
"A banana is not going to fit in any of my pockets," she stated with certainty.
"Why ever not?"
She merely arched one eyebrow at him, an expression he often used himself.
"Ah," he finally said, realizing the source of her confusion. "That would relate to rule 632. The contents of pockets. Relative to the dimensional flexibility of said pockets."
She frowned. "How many rules are there?"
"Um...several. Many. Lots."
"More than 632?"
The Doctor hesitated.
"How many more?"
"Well, you've already mastered rule 31. Ask the right questions. Probably inherited that from your mum. Hard-wired into the Tyler genes that is." He shook his head to clear it of old memories. "And think, if you've got that one down pat, then you're probably all right with at least half of them. So, really, there are less rules to worry about than it might seem."
"How many less?"
Life with the Doctor left little time for relaxation. It wasn't that Rose wished there was less running, but she enjoyed the chance to recuperate. Keeping up with an alien with a god complex and an exuberant five year old was challenging on a calm day.
Sensing her occupant's need for comfort, the TARDIS had provided plenty of hot tea and chocolate biscuits. Seated at the kitchen table, Hope cheerfully related their latest escape from miniature lawn gnomes to Herbert the stuffed koala. It was an adventure Rose desperately wanted to forget. Tiny stone men brandishing spades and watering cans were not something she wanted to revisit in nightmares.
An alien tabloid with promising headlines served as ample distraction, until there was a loud bang and the table shook. Reluctantly, she peered over the top of the tabloid and discovered a large stack of the books and the Doctor, looking immensely pleased with himself.
"What's all this?"
"Books," he explained, rocking back on his heels.
Rose rolled her eyes. "Well, yeah. What sort of books?"
"Oh, all sorts. Big, small, new, ancient, leather bound, interesting, dull, more dull...biscuits!" Delighted, he reached over the books, grabbing several chocolate biscuits from the pile on the table. "I wonder where they came from?"
"Bit of required reading," he explained, gesturing at the books with a biscuit.
Rose stared at the daunting pile for a long moment, before realizing exactly what he meant. "She's five years old!"
"So?" He finished the last biscuit, licking crumbs from his fingers. "I was calculating the gravitational fields of black holes by the time I was five."
"Doctor, there's plenty of time."
"But, Rose, you never know when you might need to know the angular momentum of..."
"That's what you're for," she interrupted. "You're her dad."
While her parents debated, Hope inched her chair forward, covertly approaching the stack of books. She lifted the cover of the topmost volume to find the first page covered with a curious arrangement of interconnected circles. She leaned closer to get a better look, but the cover snapped shut, almost trapping her hand inside.
"Spoilers," the Doctor chided with a smile.
Despite her refusal of the Doctor's request, the TARDIS happily adapted to match the whims of her newest occupant. It was on one such occasion that Rose found the Doctor deep in thought, leaning in a doorway that led to a new section of the library.
"Penny for your thoughts," she murmured, resting her head against his shoulder.
"Is this...normal? She reads an awful lot of fairy tales. Look! The TARDIS built a whole new section. I hope she's kept the more gruesome ones out of reach. Especially that collection from Boralt 5."
Rose shrugged. "I loved 'em when I was her age."
"But...they're all fantasy. Not even loosely based on real facts most of them."
"We live in a blue box that travels through time an' space."
"Not the most average of upbringings, yeah?" At his arched brow, she sighed. "All right, maybe for you."
"Susan always read about theoretical mechanics," he grumbled. "Please tell me a love of pink isn't hereditary?"
"Yeah. And lots of pop music magazines. Melody Maker an' all that. We were on Earth for a bit and she found this tape recorder. Practically obsessed with it. Always humming and..." He frowned. "I'd forgotten all about that."
"Well, you are over nine hundred years old."
He tilted his head, appraising her with a heated look. "Oh, you know exactly how capable I am for my age, Rose Tyler."
"Fructolia," the Doctor announced, securing the parking brake before hopping over to his daughter. "Just you an' me this time. All right?"
Hope glanced at her mum, who nodded her approval.
"Brilliant!" the Doctor declared, grabbing Hope's hand and pulling her toward the exit ramp. "Be back in a few hours."
He pushed open the door and Hope gasped at the sparkling world of spun sugar that awaited them.
"It's beautiful!" she gushed, spinning in a circle to try and see it all at once.
"It is, isn't it?" he agreed. "Wait 'til you see the chocolate fountains."
But there was trouble brewing and they were soon busy saving a delicate princess from the wrathful Gingerbread King. Afterward, there was a banquet held in their honor at the Peppermint Palace. Normally, the Doctor would have disappeared before any celebration could be planned, but Hope was so excited by the prospect that he agreed to linger until it was over. The tables were covered with every confectionary delight in the universe and Hope wasn't satisfied until she had tasted every one. The Doctor was similarly inclined and it wasn't until the eleventh course that he noticed that Hope looked a bit queasy.
Certain she'd been poisoned, he hurried out of the banquet hall, carrying her as he rushed to locate the TARDIS. Insulted by their hasty exit, the princess ordered her entire army to arrest them. The Doctor barely managed to run fast enough, careening inside the TARDIS just before explosive gumdrops hit the police box. He rushed to the central console, handing Hope to a surprised Rose as he went.
"Thought you said you were takin' her somewhere safe?"
"Safe-ish," he muttered, flipping the switches that would take them into the vortex.
Hope groaned, clutching her stomach, and Rose knelt to check her over. "Are you all right?"
Shaking her head, Hope leaned closer to whisper in her mother's ear.
Rose's eyes went wide. "You let her eat what?!"
The Doctor wasn't the least bit alarmed by the angry tone of Rose's voice. "I think she's been poisoned," he stated, voice wavering with urgency. "I need to check her over in the infirmary immediately. Don't know what..."
"She hasn't been poisoned," Rose interrupted, sounding exasperated. "Just too much sugar."
"Don't be silly, Rose. It's impossible to have too much..."
Rose glared at him. "C'mon, sweetheart," she murmured, taking Hope's hand. "Cuppa ginger tea and some sleep are what you need."
The Doctor watched them go, forcing himself to take several deep breaths to mitigate his state of panic. After a few minutes, he retreated to their bedroom, sitting on the edge of the bed, running his hands through his hair to expel his remaining fear. It wasn't long before he felt Rose's displeasure swell at the edge of his mind and he knew she was on her way to find him.
"Don't you know anythin' 'bout raising kids?" she demanded, stalking into their bedroom.
"Of course I..." He stopped himself, taking a deep breath. "Rose, it was different. On Gallifrey, children were raised at the Academy. I barely spoke to mine. Except..." He faltered, hesitant to revisit memories long buried. "Susan. She sought me out. Demanded attention. And I...well, she deserved it. It was partially my fault, after all."
He turned away, fingering the edge of the duvet. "Remember our first time."
"Hard to forget."
"I told you it was, well, pretty near impossible." Hesitantly, he glanced up at her. "Me getting you pregnant."
"I wasn't lying," he continued. "Time Lords and humans aren't that compatible. Genetically speaking, of course. Although, we might have had a slightly better chance. Very slight, mind you."
"I'm..." He swallowed hard and suddenly the words tumbled out in a rush. "Not exactly one hundred percent Gallifreyan. My mother was a human."
"Rose, you've got that look that usually precedes fainting. Are you...?"
"You're half human?" she managed to ask, stunned by this revelation.
"An eighth. Technically. Time Lord genetics overwri..."
"An' Hope?" she interrupted.
"What about her?" His brow creased briefly, before he realized what she meant. "Oh. I dunno. Suppose I should test her, shouldn't I?"
"Is it necessary?"
Carefully, she sat beside him on the bed. "I think I suspected."
"I know you did," he murmured, gently bumping her shoulder with his. "Susan was actually my granddaughter. In my first life, I'd turned into quite the doddering old fool. Hard to imagine, I know. She destroyed my nice quiet life. Emotional attachments were considered unnecessary for Time Lords." He reached for her hand, twining their fingers together. "This is all very new to me."
Night on the TARDIS was relative, but there was only so long they could keep running. At Rose's suggestion, the Doctor tucked Hope into bed every night, delighting her with tales of adventures on distant worlds. He told each story as if it was one of the fairy tales she favored, reluctant to reveal the real dangers of the universe just yet. There would be plenty of time for that later.
"And then, the golden goddess saved the whole universe with a wave of her hand," he said one night to his enraptured audience of one. "But the enchantment was too powerful. The wanderer knew what he had to do. One kiss, just one kiss, and he could save her. Only, he would have to change."