A/N: Another strange Doctor Who short, centered around Rose. This was actually a little wandering rabit trail of thought that branched off somehowe from the Christmas fic I wrote a couple weeks ago. Finished it first, actually, and it doesn't have a whole lot to do with it, but I like the idea. One of these days, I will post something with the Doctor. I promise.
Disclaimer: I have a dream, one day, to publish my own original novel. After that, I have every intent to write at least one fanfiction for it, just so I can say here that I do own it. This, much to my dismay, is not that story.
"Rose," he said softly, cradling the newborn baby in his arms. His somewhat, maybe, parallel-universe-kind-of-complicated daughter had crawled out of her hole long enough to be with her for-sure, stretch-marks-to-prove-it mother while she screamed her head off and threatened everyone who could possibly be even a smidgen at fault for her pain as she pushed out her second set of stretch marks. The life bought at the price of said stretch marks was now curled up in his arms, playing with his big sister's finger, and the mother was asleep in the next room over.
"Hmm?" Rose didn't quite ask, a smile trying its hardest to worm through the layers and layers of weariness. While it didn't quite make it, the tears in her eyes, for once, weren't those of grief over the Doctor. Which was an improvement.
Pete sighed, yet again adjusting his grip on the baby. He didn't know how to say it, but looking at the daughter that should have been his, he thought that something needed to be said. "I… there's… Jacks had a miscarriage."
Rose froze for a moment before looking up to meet Pete's gaze, the sudden tension causing the baby to fidget. "Then whose kid is tugging at my finger?"
"No, no no!" Pete corrected quickly, awkwardly. After giving him the seeing-right-through-you stare that Rose gave him much too often, she seemed to find the truth and relax a little. When she wiggled her finger again, the baby was instantly appeased.
After taking another moment of trying to gather up words that wouldn't come, Pete took a deep breath and tried again. "No. I mean… years ago. Back when Jacks and I were first married…" he stopped and sighed, pulling his newborn a little closer to keep himself grounded in the present. The rest was said softly, for the benefit of himself as much as keeping the secret. "The Jackie of this world. Back when I was still some poor nobody and we lived on a council estate… I'd imagine something like the way your life went. We were going to have a baby. But, hardly a month into the pregnancy, she slipped down the stairs and there was a miscarriage. Not a whole lot happened other than that, health-wise, but it changed everything." There was a significant pause, and Rose shifted into another chair so that she could wrap an arm around him. His eyes were teary, and she had half a mind to take the little boy from him if the shaking got any worse.
"I threw myself into my work and my stupid schemes, and Jackie blew off all her steam by berating me. It wasn't that she hadn't before, but… during the pregnancy, she'd been so happy, you know? Moody, of course, but it hadn't gotten the chance to get too bad yet. She was… glowing. And happy. Afterwards… we were both different people. And… it wasn't too much longer until the marriage fell apart."
At this point, Rose finally took the initiative and grabbed the baby, despite her shock. Tears that weren't quite so happy anymore were slipping down her cheeks.
It wasn't a moment too soon, because Pete's composure completely fell apart at this point. "I can't help but wonder, some nights…" His voice was shaky, and now that both of her arms were occupied, Rose leaned her head supportively against his shoulder. "If… if that baby wouldn't have been you. And… if that wouldn't have been what saved our marriage."
Biting her lip nervously, Rose shook her head against his shoulder. "No…" she whimpered, fairly composed save her voice, which was hollow. "I think that miscarriage saved your life."
Here, Pete had to lean away, forcing her to look at him. Her gaze steely but filled with tears, she continued without needing to be prodded. "The Doctor took me back to meet my dad… a long time ago. No matter how you count time, it's been so long. I wasn't actually supposed to meet him, though. Not until he was just about dead. I just… wanted someone to be there for him. It was such a stupid idea… But he took me there." Despite there being two 'he's, neither one had to ask which was which. The context made ordinary and extraordinary impossible to confuse.
"When he died… it was because he was getting milk or something stupid. I don't know why, but… I always get the feeling that he wouldn't have been so stressed if I wasn't there, or that they wouldn't have run out of milk that day. Something." She gripped the baby in her lap a bit too tight, and he let out a cry that jerked them both back to reality from their separate but conjoined la-la lands.
After taking a moment to soothe her little brother, Rose took a deep breath and sadly finished, "Coming here only made me more sure. If you and mum hadn't had me, you'd still be alive. Here, you didn't. And you are."
Pete shook his head, this time wrapping his arm around Rose, and assured her that she was wrong. "No, no, no. What happened to your dad was a crazy accident. There were a million factors playing into it. It was a one in a million chance, and anything could have changed it. Of course something as big as whether or not I had a daughter would affect it."
Rose didn't answer, looking instead at the baby. Her baby brother. "What do you think about Anthony?" She said quietly.
"Yeah. For a name. You think mum'll like Anthony? Little Tony Tyler?"
Pete gave the woman that he had adopted as his daughter a long look. While she hadn't gotten the soul-piercing gazes from him in one universe or the other, he wasn't horrible at sizing people up either. After a moment, he gave in with a half-exasperated, half-endeared sigh. "I think he looks like a Tony." He said softly, approvingly.
Smiling slightly yet somehow only more weary than before, Rose looked up at the man beside her. "Yeah?" She paused, struggling with something of her own. Pete didn't do anything but wait expectantly until she managed to say, "You know what I think you look like?"