I know, I should really, really be writing FM, but this little thing crept into my mind
and wouldn't leave until I'd written it. Personally I don't think it's my best, but I'll leave
that for you to decide. Ignores everything post Journey's End.
He shouldn't be here.
He knows it's wrong, so terribly, terribly wrong, but in his defence it wasn't his fault. He didn't want to come here. The TARDIS malfunctioned, sending them both on a spiral journey that ended up with them crash-landing here.
He didn't want to come here.
Okay, that was a lie. He had wanted to, so many times, but was physically unable to. Even though the majority of his brain was cursing and screaming about it, the moment he'd stepped out the TARDIS and seen the zeppelins in the sky a little part of him had cheered.
He didn't know if it was the right universe. He thought it was the right universe; but what he thought and what was actually true were beginning to become two completely different things. God, he's getting old.
He wandered about for a while, trying to find any trace of them. It had been only a year for him since the Crucible, the Daleks and him.
Him. The biological meta-crisis, his clone. It became easier, if that was such a word, to think about them if he called them 'him' and 'her'. He didn't want to call them that, especially her, but if he even thought her name it was like an ice dagger through the heart; especially since this time, she could have stayed with him. A second chance, but he'd blew it again. He'd lost all contact with the clone when he regenerated, not long after leaving the clone and her on the parallel world. This world, maybe, hopefully.
Before, he'd always had what he'd called a 'niggling'. Little pieces of his life bleeding through into his own. Sometimes, randomly, he'd get flashes of a building, of London, and on one memorable occasion, he'd gotten a glimpse of Jackie yelling at him. He'd laughed his head off at that, getting quite a few stares from passers-by in fifteenth century Venice, where he had been at the time.
Oh, how he loved Jackie Tyler, even though he hadn't shown it and had done everything in his power to deny it, he did love Jackie. Simply because she had made him feel like family, her family, letting him in and cooking for him, simple things that he hadn't felt in a long time, things that other companion's mothers' hadn't done. Things they wouldn't even dream of doing, like cooking, forcing him to watch Eastenders.
He really hoped, for Rose and his clone's sake, that Eastenders existed on this universe.
He'd lost all contact, all glimpses, even the very notion that he was alive when he regenerated. It had been painful, this regeneration. As much as the last one. They were getting harder, he noted, as they got on. He was dreading the next one already, and he hadn't even been in this body a month if that.
He was wandering aimlessly now, looking around - for them, he realised, he was doing in unconsciously. How did he even know they still lived in London? In this part of London? They could have moved to Glasgow for all he knew, since he'd lost the niggling feeling that he always had from his clone.
He passed a vendor, and he found himself digging out a couple of Euros to pay for the newspaper they sold. This Britain had gone for the Euro rather than stay with the pound sterling - he sighed, wanted desperately to know how that would pan out for them.
It was paid for and in his hand in seconds, but that still wasn't quick enough. He found himself almost ripping it from the vendor's chubby hands. He calmed himself down. He smiled at the staring vendor, who was a little bit weirded out by this man's impatience to have the newspaper; surely he wasn't that interested in the day's news?
He walked away from the vendor, devouring the paper in front of him for any trace of her. He didn't even glance at the name of the paper as he looked for the date. He found it.
June 15th, 2014.
Six years since he'd left her. One year for him, six years for her.
He sighed; what was there life like now? Were they still together? Did they have jobs, a house, kids, what? Everything he wanted to know, everything he couldn't know.
His feet took him to a park bench. The park was a large green area slap bang in the centre of a city; a little piece of nature in a cosmopolitan world. There was a kids' playpark and large green leafy grass everywhere, with benches dotted around randomly. He sat down at one picked by random, eyes on the newspaper, digesting every single thing about it. Unfortunately, he'd bought a broadsheet rather than a tabloid, so there wasn't anything at all in the paper about her. There was no gossip column in these kinds of paper, which is the place where the long-lost daughter of Pete Tyler would have popped up.
He sat though, scanning the paper, mentally and physically preparing himself to go back to the vendor, or another one, and buy as many tabloid newspapers he knew she loved to read herself, just so he could maybe get a glimpse of her, of them.
"Tony Peter Tyler, come back here this very instant!"
Jackie's voice slashed through his subconscious with such a force that he thought he was having a flash again, until he realised two things; one, he didn't get them anymore, not after his regeneration, and two, the words she's said. She'd had a son, didn't she say? Or was that to his clone? She definitely had a son. She'd teased him for a bit, telling him she'd called him Doctor. 'No, you plum! He's called Tony!' he remembered faintly, and he didn't want to look up, for the fact that he might not like what he saw.
He did look up though, his eyes dragging away from the paper, letting anticipation prick at him for a few seconds more. He still couldn't believe his luck. Out of all the parks in London, Jackie had to come to this one, didn't she?
His eyes sought her out, and there she was. Still as blonde, (evidently now to cover the greys rather than the brown) and still a little bit brash but not as much as she used to be. Obviously living with Pete had rubbed off on her, but he was glad to see she didn't dress any different. She was still in her pink hooded top, but instead of tracksuit bottoms she had opted for jeans instead. She looked older, of course; had gained wrinkles, laugh lines, crow's feet.
She was in the middle of scolding a boy, and by the sounds of it her voice hadn't lost it's South London accent. The little boy looked like her, with slightly mousy hair and a cute smile that probably had everyone wrapped around his little finger. The boy looked about eight or nine, and had obviously mastered the art of pretending like he was listening to his mother while really he was eyeing up a newly vacated swing.
There was a clang of a metal gate being shut, and then a voice he hadn't expected to hear rang through his ears.
"Leave him alone, Mum, he's only nine after all. He won't do it again, will you, Tony?"
Her voice rang through the air, still as South Londonish as her mother, as it was. Her new life hadn't given her airs and graces, thank god. She was much better off without them.
Tony nodded vigorously, before shooting off towards the vacated swing, a yell of 'Sorry Mum, sorry Rose!' ringing through the air after him.
He found himself drawn to Rose, forgetting Tony; she looked older. Her hair, still blonde, was a little curlier, softer than how he remembered. She was a little curvier, too, than he remembered her being. She had always been on the slim side. Always healthy, though. She looked … happy.
Her eyes, although they looked tired and had slight bags, were alight with laughter and love as she watched Tony, trying and trying to get higher on the swing, vehemently refusing his mum or Rose's help.
He realised he'd started calling her Rose again.
Then, someone tall and lanky came into his peripheral vision, carrying something.
Or someone, as it turns out.
"Mummy!" the someone said, running towards Rose with all the speed of a freight train, only Rose picked her up and swung her around, which she wouldn't have been able to do with a freight train. Then something smashed into him, metaphorically.
The tall and lanky person was his clone.
He and Rose had had a child. Obviously. A little girl.
He also looked happy, tickling the little girl that sat in Rose's arms, who was now squealing with laughter.
The little girl in question started squealing in Rose's arms, leaning towards the swings where Tony - her uncle, he realised - was swinging high now, Jackie keeping a careful eye on him in case he went just that little bit too high.
His eye was drawn back to Rose, unable to keep his eyes off her for too long. She was shaking her head at her daughter in her arms, who seemed to be looking at her father for something. The park wasn't too full, it being around lunchtime on a Monday afternoon, if his excellent timekeeping skills were correct, which they were (and the paper said Monday). Tony was not in school; his curiosity was piqued. Was he home-schooled? On his lunch break? Or was their a different reason for the youngest Tyler's absence? All these questions flooded through his brain as he listened discreetly to their conversation, being the only ones in the park (except from a woman and a two-year-old) it wasn't hard to overheard, especially since he was trying very hard to do exactly that.
"You can't go on the swings, you're too little," Rose was saying, jiggling the little girl up and down in her arms to try and comfort her best she could.
"But I'm THREE!" the little one said, shouting the last word. Rose recoiled as the sound was made right in her right ear. "I'm a big girl now!"
"We know you're a big girl," the clone said, taking his daughter from Rose's arms, "But the swings are took big for you. How about you go on with Mummy, and I'll push you both? How about it?"
The little girl seemed to consider this for a moment, before smiling. "Okay," she nodded, a smile just like her father's, he noted, before wiggling down from her father's arms and running full pelt towards the swings.
"Amber!" Rose yelled after her little girl, as the clone dashed after her, sweeping her up in a move so smooth it looked like an everyday thing, which maybe it was. So, they had named her Amber. It was a beautiful name, which he loved; maybe that's why they had chose it, maybe he had suggested it.
Now both girls managed to get on the swing, with him behind it, and he managed to get a good look at his clone for the first time. He still looked rather young, but like Jackie and particularly Rose, he had the eye-bags of a father of a young child. His hair was still brown, still in the disarray he remembered it being, still completely unmanageable despite the amount of time and effort he put into trying to make it half-decent. One thing struck him, though, as odd.
He wasn't wearing a suit.
Didn't he, last incarnation, refuse to be parted from his pinstripe suit? His beloved armour, as Rose had fondly called it? Now, this man who looked identical to his former self was wearing a green tee-shirt and jeans.
He was glad to see he'd at least kept the Converse.
They swung high for a few minutes, while he 'read' his paper but really keeping a watch over the five of them over the top. The sports pages really weren't his thing, but he'd gone through the financial ones and someone would know something was up if he stayed on the same page for ages.
It was a while later, when they were 'playing' tennis (more or less seeing if the kids could hit the ball) when the ball in question soared right into his paper, making him jump slightly in surprise even though he'd been watching them the entire time.
Amber had ran full pelt after the ball, running smack into his shins. She looked up at him, startled, her hazel eyes identical to her mother's. He smiled at her, and she smiled back shyly, rows of milky baby teeth gleaming in the summer sun. She had a smile like her father's, but also like her mother's. It was a strange but adorable combination. She was exactly the image his mind had, oh so often, conjured up when he believed he and Rose really did have forever, when he had naively thought that maybe he and Rose could have the best of both worlds, travelling the stars but a family as well.
He realised what she was; she was the little girl he never had a chance to have.
"Oh, my God, I'm so sorry," Rose said, rushing to him and picking up Amber, looking for the tennis ball. "Trying to teach three-year-olds to play tennis ..." she trailed off, as he smiled. A sliver of silver caught his eye, and his eyes rested on the silver band she wore around her fourth finger of her left hand, which was stretched to reach the ball which was slightly out of reach.
"Here," he said, giving the ball to her. "You've got a good shot, little one," he said to Amber.
"Say thank you to man for getting your ball," Rose said, as he came trotting over towards them, to see what was taking them so long to get a ball.
"Tank you, man," Amber said, shyly, before burying her face in Rose's shoulder, thumb in her mouth, reminding him of the girl - no, woman - in front of him. She was pretty much identical to her mother, except for her untameable brown hair, which Rose was smoothing down now, pressing kisses onto it, her nose (strangely, she seemed to have inherited her father's nose, poor girl) and the little pink converse adorning her feet. He beamed at her shoes, and Rose smiled back at him, a little weirded out by his full-force smile.
"Thank you, what was your name, sorry?" Rose said, smiling at him.
"John - " he started, before realising he wouldn't be getting away with 'John Smith' here. "Noble. John Noble," he said, smiling. Rose, if she had recognised the name, didn't show it.
"Well, thank you, John Noble," Rose said, nodding her head, as Amber wiggled down from h
er mother's arms.
"Daddy, can we go on the monkey's bars?" Amber asked her father, who was beside them now.
"'Course we can, princess," he said, picking her up and swinging her round, his own silver band glinted in the the sunlight. They were off before you could blink, Rose twirling around from him to face the pair.
"Doctor, watch her head," she said, running after the man in question, who was looking at his wife with a dumb expression.
Somehow, it kind of hurt watching her call him the Doctor, even though they technically were the same person.
"I was!" he said, as they bantered back and forth, their three-year-old daughter laughing as she nearly fell from the great height of 6ft, but her dad was there to catch her whenever she fell. Her mum was cheering her on, but soon Tony came to play so he handed over Amber to Rose and took care of Tony, who was on the second bar and was dangerously close to falling. He got there just in time to catch him, reliving the ears of everyone around the vicinity as Jackie's screeching stopped.
A weird buzzing sensation began in his pocket, and he pulled out a small, cube-like box which was glowing red. It was entirely alien in origin, and he was thankful that his clone and Rose were away; he'd seen flashes of Torchwood before the regeneration and had guessed enough that they both worked there with Pete.
No-one but him (and maybe the clone, if he had seen) knew what the glowing cube meant. The TARDIS was ready to leaving, and probably itching to get away from this wrong universe.
He stood up, leaving the paper on the park bench, completely forgetting about it as soon as Rose had walked up to him. He walked away from the park, but kept looking back at them, the whole happy family that they were.
A part of him was sad, sad that Rose and his clone were getting to experience the one adventure he could never have, but for some reason he felt better than he had since the regeneration; since leaving her, he realised. He felt like he had given her the best, that she wasn't hung up on him.
The selfish part of him, deep down inside, wondered if she still thought about him at all. He hoped she did. Like he said - selfish in his old age, that was what he was becoming. Selfish and reckless, his other incarnations wouldn't have even entertained the idea of looking for them, never mind touching and talking to them.
He cast one final look at the happy family, all smiles and laughter, before he and the TARDIS disappeared, finally ready to start wandering the stars again. Anyway, Amy would be waiting for him.
The Doctor whipped his head around, almost certain that he had heard the TARDIS engines.
He looked all around, but it was no-where in sight; the sound itself had gone as quickly as it had come. He was imagining things, now. He hadn't heard that sound in six years, and never would again. He shook his head to get rid of the thought; even if the TARDIS had come, he wasn't sure if he would swap this amazing life for his old life.
"Is everything okay, Doctor?" Rose said, looking concerned while still keeping a hold on their wiggling three-year-old.
"Everything's perfect," he said, leaning over and kissing her softly, smiling against her lips as he pulled back, their daughter protesting at being squashed between her parents.
And the perfect balance of the universe was once again regained.