Babies do not sleep. They lay around cooing or crying, demanding to be held or fed or changed, but they do not sleep.
Time Lords don't sleep, either, as a general rule. They have that much in common. Part-Time Lords, though, that's a different matter. Part-Time Lords do need sleep.
The Doctor jerks awake, his senses already tuned to the cries of the baby in the bassinet. Rose sleeps on, oblivious. She's been with the baby all day, and put him down after a feeding just three hours ago only to fall asleep immediately.
He doesn't need the clock to tell him it's the middle of the night, that dark time when nothing is stirring and all is calm and still.
The Doctor forces himself out of bed before Rose can wake up. He only went to bed an hour before and still feels groggy. They've been home with the baby for just three days, and he's already not getting enough sleep. Babies look small, but they require massive amounts of feeding and burping, dry nappies and clean laundry. Jack has wet through or spit up on every item of clothing Rose has dressed him in.
He scoops Jack up and leaves the bedroom, jogging down the stairs and into the kitchen. The baby is still crying.
"Hang on," he mutters, stubbing a toe before he can switch on the light. "Ow!" The baby howls in response to the sudden light and his sudden exclamation. The Doctor turns the light off and settles for a lamp.
"Better?" he asks. He can't exactly read Jack's mind. The little head is full of confused emotions. Mostly hunger and annoyance at a wet nappy and sometimes a sense of missing the dark warm place where he used to be.
The Doctor quickly warms up a bottle, remembering only when he's sitting down, holding the bottle, that he didn't change the baby first.
Oh, well, he reasons. A few more minutes won't make much difference.
The bottle is almost empty when he feels a warm dampness against his chest. Apparently a few more minutes would have made a difference.
"Thanks," he tells his son.
For now Jack seems content to lie in his father's arms. The Doctor stretches out his mind, but he still can't engage with Jack. It almost feels like Jack is looking for something. At that moment Jack starts to cry again.
Maybe he's missing Rose.
"You know, not all babies cry all the time," the Doctor tells his baby son. "My people didn't cry."
Of course, his people were Loomed, not created by a man and a woman, but the point still stands, as far as he is concerned.
Jack keeps crying. Rose finally wakes up and comes downstairs.
"Is he all right?" she asks anxiously.
"Same as ever," the Doctor says heartily, full of false cheer. His ears are starting to hurt.
"Why is he so unhappy?" Rose demands, sitting down beside them. "He's always crying. Are we such bad parents? Maybe he can tell."
"We," the Doctor says, "are very fine parents. Besides, he hasn't been here long enough to judge us yet."
"Then why is he still crying?"
"Well, I don't know!"
Rose rubs her hands over her eyes. She's tired, and the crying is not helping. The Doctor feels a pang of remorse. She's still recovering from childbirth and he's all but yelling at her.
"Let's take him for a drive," he suggests, raising his voice to be heard.
Rose shakes her head. "I'm too tired."
The Doctor shifts to put one arm round his wife. "It'll get better," he says. "How hard can it be?"
It is very hard. Babies are hard. Impossibly hard. Jack doesn't sleep very much. He doesn't eat very much. He doesn't like to lie down or sit up or be held or rock in his swing. He does not like car rides or walks.
In short, he is a very cranky sort of child.
"Are all human babies like this?" the Doctor asks. It's three in the morning, a time when they're usually asleep. Instead, Jack is crying his warm-up cry. A few wails of discomfort, soon to blossom forth into loud, angry screams that nothing will fix.
Rose, who has not slept longer than three hours at a stretch since Jack was born a week ago, continues to sway in the middle of the nursery, holding the baby in her arms. Her eyes are closed and the Doctor suspects she may be asleep. He gently guides her to the rocking chair in the corner, sits her down, and takes the baby from her.
Immediately, Jack's cries turn to shrieks. He wasn't happy with his mother, but he's less happy with his father.
The Doctor holds the baby up to eye level. "What do you want?" he asks. "Just tell me." He tries to modulate his voice, to keep it calm and reassuring. The kind of voice that lets a baby calm down and fall asleep so his miserable parents can also fall asleep.
The baby just screams louder.
The Doctor feels frustration stronger than anything he's ever felt before. He can touch the baby's mind sometimes, just fleetingly, but it's never long enough to grasp hold of Jack and find out what the problem is. He doesn't know if that will get better in time or if he will never have a connection to his son that way.
Rose is definitely asleep, sprawled in the chair in the sweats and t-shirt she's been wearing since getting up with the baby that morning.
"Are you hungry?" the Doctor asks hopefully. "Come on." He can't help but be amazed that Rose is still sleeping. The baby's cries are louder than anything he's heard in quite a while. Tucking him under his arm, the Doctor heads downstairs. Rose has been nursing, but he is not about to mess with the little bags of milk that are propped up in the refrigerator.
He quickly prepares a bottle of formula, sticking it into the baby's mouth and hoping for the best.
The baby drinks. Letting out his breath, feeling like he's just defused a bomb, the Doctor sits down in a chair. The baby drinks and his eyes drift shut.
Rose finds them in the living room the next morning. She's feeling refreshed, and she knows it's because the Doctor has been tending to the baby all night. What she'll do after this week is over, when he has to go back to work, she doesn't want to think about yet.
The baby is lying on the floor, fast asleep. He's covered up by a blanket, and the Doctor is sprawled next to him, also asleep. Rose stands there for a moment, smiling at the picture they make. The Doctor's hair looks like he's run his hands through it more than once, and there's a damp spot on his shirt where the baby's diaper leaked sometime during the night.
The baby stirs. Rose hastens to pick him up, but she's too late. The baby's eyes open.
Rose picks him up and smiles at him.
"Good morning, love," she whispers.
The baby looks at her, frowns, and starts to cry.
On the floor the Doctor rolls over and covers his head with a pillow.
At Pete and Jackie's for dinner later that week, Rose foregoes eating in favor of a nap, leaving the baby with Jackie. Jackie does her best, but the screams and crying are more than she's ever seen.
"He sure cries a lot," Tony observes from the corner of the sofa where he's wedged himself, playing with the latest version of the Gameboy. "Doesn't he ever stop?"
"Colic," Pete says shortly, rubbing his forehead. Being around Jack for any period of time long tends to give him a headache.
"It's not just colic." Jackie stands up, gently juggling the baby. "Have you gone to the doctor?" she asks the Doctor.
He's been watching Jackie hold the baby. Now he sighs and takes Jack from her. Jack stops crying as his father brings him against his chest, and they all let out their breath in relief. Tony rubs his ear.
"It's not colic," the Doctor says. "Not acid reflux. It's not anything that the doctor can see. It's his personality, apparently."
"His personality," Jackie repeats, horrified. "Is that what he's going to be like? Cranky and grouchy all his life?"
Pete and Tony exchange wary looks with each other.
Jack is quiet because he's finally fallen asleep. The Doctor tucks the now sleeping baby into his arms. Jackie covers Jack with a blanket printed all over with tiny blue rockets.
"He won't be like this forever," the Doctor says wearily. He sits down on the couch, determined not to do anything that will wake the baby.
"I hope not," Jackie says. "The two of you look awful."
"Jackie," Pete says reprovingly.
"Well, they do." Jackie continues. "The pair of them. Rose is supposed to be recovering right now, and she looks worse than she did after childbirth."
"We're not making him angry on purpose," the Doctor says wearily. "It's just a phase."
"We hope so, anyway." Rose has woken up from her nap and is standing in the doorway. Jackie hurries to her and insists that she sit down. Rose does, sitting on the sofa beside Tony.
"Feeling better?" the Doctor asks quietly.
She nods, smiling when she sees the sleeping baby. "Thanks." Rose looks at her mother. "I don't know what I'm doing wrong," she says in frustration. "He's just so unhappy all the time. I don't remember Tony being like that."
"I wasn't!" Tony says indignantly. "Was I?"
"No," Jackie tells him with a smile. "You were a normal baby. Not that your sister would know," she adds tartly. "All she could think about back then was getting back to the Doctor."
Rose rolls her eyes.
"Someday," the Doctor says pleasantly, "you're going to tell me what you got up to back then."
"Have you tried bouncing him?" Donna asks. "You know, up and down?" She bounces slightly on her feet to demonstrate.
The Doctor squints at her. "Are you serious?" he asks, having to raise his voice to be heard over the crying.
"Yes, I'm serious. Why wouldn't I be serious?" she demands, turning to look at her companion. "Did I sound like I was joking?"
Her companion ignores her. He's focused on the baby. "Are they always like this?" he asks. "I don't think I've ever been so close to a human baby before. He's so loud. A bit unpleasant."
This conversational gambit kills the conversation dead. The Doctor gives up on the pair of them and hauls Jack into the other room, where the promise of running water may convince him he's at a seaside resort and decide to take a relaxing nap.
"You think babies are unpleasant?" Donna asks calmly.
Sam may be an alien masquerading as a human, but he's also been dating Donna Noble for quite a while now. He knows what's expected. "They seem very nice," he allows. "When I see them. Which is not often."
"I suppose babies on your planet are perfectly behaved?" Donna inquires.
Sam winces at the icy politeness of her tone, which signals that she is very seriously ticked off.
"I didn't interact much with them there, either," he admits. "Oh, hello, Rose, how are you? Here, let me help you with that." He bounds up to meet Rose at the doorway, so obviously relieved at the distraction that Donna rolls her eyes.
"Thanks, Sam." Rose releases the carrier bags in her hands and smiles at Donna. "I didn't know you were coming by."
"We wanted to pop in and say hello," Donna says, eyes still narrowed on Sam as he disappears into Rose's kitchen.
Rose sinks down into a chair. "The shops were mobbed," she says wearily. "But it was heaven to be alone."
"John says the baby's been crying non-stop," Donna says sympathetically.
Rose has been tired for several days now. It takes a moment to make the mental leap from "John" to the Doctor. Despite his insistence that he be called just the Doctor, Donna continues to address him by his assumed name. Rose is sure there is a reason for that, but she's never figured it out. Apart from the fact that Donna knows it drives the Doctor slightly batty.
"He's a bit cranky," Rose agrees. "He was fine after he was born. We brought him home and he was fine. And then he woke up and started to cry and he hasn't stopped."
"It'll get better," Donna says reassuringly, even though she knows very little about babies. For all she knows Jack will spend the next eighteen years crying.
The Doctor walks in, carrying a crying baby. He smiles tiredly at Rose.
"He doesn't care for the running water trick."
"That's okay," Rose says wearily. "I'll just go put my head under the tap instead."
"To wake up?" Donna asks sympathetically.
Rose shakes her head. "To drown."
It's a total accident that they figure out what's wrong with the baby.
"I really can't do this again," Rose confesses. She's in tears, trying to calm an infant who won't be calmed down. "He's just impossible."
The baby is still crying. Rose gives up. She's tried rocking, walking, swaddling, going for drives in the car. She can't make him cry it out because that's all he does. She buckles him into the baby swing and starts it so that it swings gently back and forth. She leaves the room, heading for the back door.
The Doctor follows her, feeling secretly grateful that he gets to step outside and away from the screaming.
"This is it," Rose continues. "Really. No more kids. I can't handle this one little person!"
He hugs her tightly. "I can't either," he confesses. "Does that make us human?"
"I mean, I wasn't planning on it," she continues, sniffing into his shoulder. "We only just had Jack, and he's impossible. I never thought we'd have more than one anyway. It's not like I wanted another one." Her tears come faster now.
He holds her tightly. "Jack is more than I thought I would ever have," he says fiercely. "That's enough for me. Don't cry, Rose. Please, don't cry."
She shakes her head, unable to stop. He wonders if he should call Jackie or Rose's doctor first. Obviously this is the crash of hormones that he's heard about.
"We don't have to have any more," he promises her again. "All right? Let's try to calm this one down, and then we'll be okay."
He finally gets Rose to stop to crying. The prospect that she won't, in fact, have to ever do this again seems to have calmed her down.
"I'm all right," she sniffs. "Really."
He has his doubts about that. "I know!" he says suddenly. "Let's go somewhere."
"I've already done the shopping."
"Rose." His tone is that of a man trying to deal patiently with an incredibly simple-minded woman. "I'm not talking about a trip for nappies or milk-"
"We need more nappies," she interrupts him.
"I'm talking about - what do you mean, we need more nappies? I just hauled home that huge box!"
"All right, we'll pick some up on the way. But I was talking about going out in the TARDIS. We've been ignoring her since the baby was born."
"It's only been a few days."
"She's very sensitive, Rose, you know that."
"He's still too small," she protests.
"Rose, we can't protect him forever. The TARDIS will be his some day. She wants to see him."
"What if something happens?"
"Nothing will happen."
"What if we get lost?" His driving is better in this TARDIS, but it's far from perfect.
"Well, it wouldn't be the first time for that, would it?" He grins at her, happy and excited. "Come on, Rose! We can take Jack anywhere! Anywhere at all for his first trip."
She's still not convinced.
"Is this the Rose Tyler who said yes to a handsome alien stranger just minutes after meeting him?" he teases. "You're not usually so indecisive."
"It's not just me anymore, is it?" she points out.
"It's us now," he agrees. "And it's time Jack learned what that means."
Jack doesn't really want to learn anything. He's still crying, flushed red and angry when Rose takes him out of the baby swing. She shakes a little teddy at him, which makes him cry harder.
"Oh, well," she sighs. "You can cry just as easily on Mars as you can here, right?"
"I keep telling you," the Doctor complains as he picks up Jack's car seat, "there is no life on Mars."
The TARDIS is the same when Rose carries the baby in and sets her diaper bag down on the grating. Same coral, same controls, same familiar humming. But when the doors close behind them and the Doctor moves to the console, Jack makes a startled sound that Rose has never heard before.
"He's smiling," the Doctor says in shock. "He's...he's happy!" And he knows this for a fact, because suddenly he can sense Jack's mind, open to him. "Rose, he's happy!"
"Jack?" she asks tentatively. "Are you happy, baby?"
Jack smiles at her, and Rose catches her breath. She hasn't seen him this calm since the first moments after his birth.
"It's the TARDIS," the Doctor says in a hushed voice. "He could sense the TARDIS but he didn't see it."
"But that's impossible," Rose protests.
"Why is it impossible?" he counters, walking over and taking the baby from her. "He was in here before he was born. He heard the song. He knew it was here. He just couldn't get back to it."
Rose continues to shake her head. The suggestion just seems so absurd to her. But Jack is smiling and, to her astonishment, he is cooing.
"He's making sounds. He shouldn't be making sounds like that yet. He's too young. Isn't he?"
The Doctor sits down on the seat, staring at the baby in his arms.
"You are a clever boy, aren't you, Jack?" he asks quietly. "A clever, clever boy."
The baby smiles and babbles. The TARDIS hums in contentment. Rose can almost see the song in the air, as it floats all around them.