Happy Birthday to Tardisistheonlywaytotravel! In celebration of that event and for other gifts, great and small, I present...
At the Pressing of the Button
Rose was just bringing the last of her new things in from her mum's flat, wondering idly what Mickey was doing now, and thinking that the Doctor had completely vanished, when every single light in the console room came on and, for want of a better term, kept coming. The entire room flashed briefly a blinding white and faded to a delicate, friendly sort of cream. The Time Rotor roared. Rose clutched absently for something, anything, to hold on to, and everything seemed to spin.
The cream color went away as quickly as it had come, the lights dimmed back to normal, and Rose blinked in the sudden dimness, trying to get her bearings. "Hello to you, too?" she told the TARDIS questioningly, not having any idea what had just happened.
"I didn't mean to, I swear I didn't."
Rose blinked again and turned toward the strange new voice that had just appeared. Staring back at her, wild-eyed and a bit pale, was a dark haired, blue-eyed boy of perhaps eleven or twelve, wearing ordinary jeans and a jumper. Next to him, dressed quite exotically Rose thought, was a positively tiny blonde girl, who had her thumb in her mouth. She was clinging to the back of the boy's jumper with one hand, and the arm that kept her thumb in her mouth also cuddled a small, battered, stuffed something.
The boy opened his mouth again and started babbling at her. "I didn't. It's just it was a button - a big red threatening button..."
"That must never, ever be pressed," Rose cut him off.
"Right, an' it's all Dad's fault, 'cuz he said I can't press it, an' he was wrong, obviously, but I didn't mean to press it, I didn't. It was an accident."
A new voice, tiny, piping, and just barely comprehensible cut the boy off this time. "You tell. I sayed not press the button." Then, she walked over to Rose, and just as sweetly as you please, held up her arms. "I show you."
"You'll show me what button he pressed?" Rose asked, just for clarification. She bent to pick the little girl up, almost without thinking about it, and settled the child on her hip.
The girl juggled her stuffed whatsits to her other arm and settled her head on Rose's shoulder as if this was completely normal, before she said, "Yeah." Then, she stuck her thumb back into her mouth.
"Yes, ma'am," the boy corrected. He gave Rose an exasperated glare. "I told you she'd been spending too much time with Uncle Tony, but you never listen to me, none of you."
Twelve, Rose decided. "Uncle Tony?" she wondered.
The boy looked at her, his face puzzled but utterly familiar. Then, suddenly, his blue eyes widened and he said something that the TARDIS didn't translate, but didn't like, either, because the console beeped loudly and the usual hum went distinctly annoyed in pitch.
"Sorry," the child said, laying a hand on the console, just like the Doctor always did. "But I really messed up this time, didn't I?"
The TARDIS gave a decidedly affirmative hum.
The boy said several more untranslated things and Rose put her free hand over the younger child's ear. "I don't even know your name, kid," she said, "but you need to stop that, especially in front of... your sister?"
The boy stared at her again. "I can see it!" he exclaimed, blue eyes bright with joy. "Hah! Wait'll I tell Dad! If I know what I'm looking for, I can actually see it! Fantastic!"
Rose suddenly knew who he reminded her of. "What's your name?" she asked. "You obviously know mine."
"Yeah." He grinned, and the grin was a completely perfect duplicate of... her heart clenched in her chest. "Sorry," he said. "I mean, yes ma'am. I'm Jack."
Rose nodded. "And your sister?"
He thought about it, as if he couldn't remember what he was supposed to say. Rose shook her head and chuckled lightly. "I'll just call her Belle," Rose said. "Since she's so pretty."
The little girl pulled her thumb out of her mouth to beam at Rose. "Love you," she said, sweetly.
Rose felt something inside her heart try to tie itself in knots. She swallowed hard. "I'm gonna put you down now, Belle, and fetch us some help. You stay right here, ok? And Jack - if you touch anything else, I'm asking the TARDIS to zap you before you make things worse."
He nodded quite contritely. Just before Rose pushed open the doors, she could have sworn she heard him say, "Sorry, mum."
"Mum, is the Doctor out here?" Rose called.
"No, I'm not," the Doctor called back. "I ran away from home, changed my name to David Tennant, and became an actor in a Harry Potter movie."
Rose shook her head, laughing in fond exasperation. She shouldn't be laughing, really, because it looked like they were about to have a really weird conversation. She went through to the kitchen quickly, because there was liable to be trouble in the TARDIS if she didn't make this fast. "Doctor," she said, firmly, "is there something you need to tell me about? Maybe something you got up to last body that I don't know?"
"I met you and you asked me to marry you," he said, warily. "In your defense, you were only four. Does that help?"
Rose stared at him, decided he was completely mad, as usual, and reached over to pull his hand out of the marmalade bottle. "Put the lid on that," she said. "There's something in the TARDIS that you need to see."
Another voice, the worst possible voice to hear at a time like this, rang out across the living room. "Rose, what are you on about? Are you in..."
"Mum, don't!" Rose shouted, too late.
Jackie Tyler let out a piercing scream and, from the sound of things, toppled to the floor.
"Her looks funny," was the first thing Rose heard as she charged into the living room, where the TARDIS still sat after their horrible misadventure in the parallel world.
"She's younger, S... Belle," said the boy's voice. "I told you, and you need to be quiet."
"I be a Jingle Belle," the little girl said very firmly.
The boy chuckled and answered, "Fine. Then together we'll be Jingle Bell Rock. Now, shush, they're bound to be coming back."
Rose knew the boy's real name now, but didn't know why her knowing it or not was an issue.
"I want my mummy."
"I know you do, sweetheart," he said. "I'm sorry."
"You fix it?"
"The Doctor will fix it. He's here. He's never far from the TARDIS."
The Doctor was looking at Rose with huge, horrified eyes. "What did you do?" he mouthed at her.
"What did I do?!" she mouthed back fiercely. She couldn't wait 'til he got a look at the boy.
Jackie groaned. Rose charged over so she could get between her mother and the kids. "Rose," she said, as soon as her eyes popped open. "I had the weirdest dream. You were hiding alien grandchildren in that ship of yours."
Jack started to laugh. "She never changes," he muttered to his sister.
"Like that one," Jackie added, and looked like she was to pass out again.
"Mum, they just appeared. I know what it looks like, who he looks like, but I swear to you, I had nothing to do with it."
The boy fell over laughing this time.
Rose shot him a black look, but he seemed to be either immune to them due to his age or so used to it that it bounced right off of him. He looked at Jackie and grinned rather fetchingly. "I'm Jack," he said, "and I'm impossible. This is Belle, and she's adorable."
Jackie glanced at the little girl briefly. "He's got it right, there." Then, she studied Jack, her eyes getting wider by the second. "My God, Rose, he's the very spitting image. Except for the ears."
"Oi," protested Jack, "what's wrong with my ears?"
"Nothing," Jackie began, "that's my..."
"If I live to be a thousand, I will never understand you," the boy talked right over her. "In fact, if you live to be a thousand, I'll still never understand you. Not even..."
The Doctor appeared at last, staring at the children with his own juvenile fascination. They stared back at him, both of them twitching a little under the intensity of his gaze. He opened his mouth the speak, several times, but nothing came out, resulting in a look that Rose was quite familiar with (which, in the privacy of her head, she referred to as the startled guppy look). He tried a smile. It didn't seem to want to stay, so he tried a frown. That didn't work either, apparently. Confusion was never something he was good at, so he whipped out the brainy specs and tried to appear all scientific and interested as he blinked at the children through the useless lenses.
Belle clapped and giggled at the appearance of the spectacles, which seemed to shock the Doctor into realizing the two newcomers were actually real. He dropped to his knees, so that he was eye-level with Jack, and stared into the boy's face. Then, he said something, something alien and musical and completely beautiful.
Rose gasped in wonder, felt tears start in her eyes at the strangely inquiring sound. Jack nodded, and then said something back, in the same language, while Belle pointed at Jack and said something different, but still alien and exotic.
The Doctor vaulted to his feet, his head whipping around every which away, like it did when he was trying to do six or eight things at once. He jerked his hands through his hair, looked back at Jack, looked at Rose with his eyes so huge they might start away from his face at any second. By this time, he was completely ruffled, and he let his hand go to the back of his neck, where he scratched at it while staring at Rose. He shuffled his feet, seemed to shrink in on himself, became completely insecure. "Just checking," he muttered, and bolted for the kitchen.
"Well, looks like someone stole the Doctor's nerve today," Jackie grumbled.
"I still want my mummy," Belle said, and she sounded rather annoyed.
Rose didn't know what to do, not really, but Jackie was on the case immediately. "I'm Rose's mummy," she said gently. "Will I do?"
Belle blinked at Jackie through gigantic brown eyes. "K," she said, and held up her arms. Jackie hoisted the baby onto her hip and held her close, running a gentle hand through the soft, golden curls.
Jack let out an explosive breath, walked up to Rose, and hugged her around the waist. "That was too weird, Jingle Belle. I want my mummy, too."
Rose petted the boy's hair, not sure what else to do. Jack's hair was thick, like the Doctor's, but insisted on falling flat again immediately after being touselled. "I'm sorry he upset you two."
"Not upset," Jack denied. "Just... this isn't good. We kinda... no, I definitely, I s'pose, broke the Laws of Time, somehow, an' I can't begin to tell you how much trouble I'm gonna be in when I get home." Jack shook his head, released Rose, jerked his hands through his hair just like the Doctor always did. "He's gonna want you in a second."
Rose shook her head. "I don't think so," she denied. More than likely, the Doctor would be busily looking up facts and figures in his head. He wouldn't have even a moment to think on her, anymore, that was certain, might not even need her ever again. She doubted he would care what she did, not now, not knowing these two children existed.
Rose knew one thing for sure, though. If Jack's face hadn't given him away, if his attitude and manic grin and attempted enigmatic behavior hadn't done it, if even the quick exchange in what she knew for certain was Gallifreyan hadn't assured her, she knew one utterly indisputable fact. Both children had two hearts.
"Ten seconds," Jack said, a slow grin starting on his wistfully familiar face.
Rose shook her head, couldn't resist grinning back.
"Six seconds. Five. Four, three..."
Rose blinked down at Jack in shock. He shrugged. "I'm off a bit, I s'pose," he said.
She bent down, hugged the child, and kissed the top of his head. Then, she turned and went to give the Doctor a piece of her mind.