A/N: Set some time after Doomsday. The Doctor has managed to return to Pete's World. Now he's going to try and find Rose.
Don't Let Go
The Doctor couldn't believe he'd done it. Finally. He'd finally got through. And all he could think about was getting to her. His focus was single-minded and unwavering; find Rose Tyler.
Even if he had to search the whole of Pete's World, he'd seek her out.
But he'd start with the place he thought she'd most likely be.
He sprinted up the driveway so quickly that it was a wonder Jackie saw him. But see him she must've, because before he'd even made it to the door, she'd opened it, and flung her arms around him.
"Oh. My. God! It's you, it's really you!" she shrieked.
He let out a laugh, inexplicably delighted to see her, and he effortlessly twirled her around. "It really is!" he agreed joyfully.
"How did you get here?" she asked frantically. "Is the world in danger again?"
"No, no! Nothing like that, Jackie, I promise. I'll tell you all about it later." He paused, swallowing thickly. "So...Rose?" he murmured tentatively.
"She's not here," Jackie mumbled into his shoulder, grasping him firmly even as he set her feet back down on the ground.
The Doctor pulled back. "Where is she?" he demanded immediately, fear sweeping through him.
"It's alright," Jackie soothed. "She's just at her flat, that's all. Come on, let me get Tony ready and Pete can drive us there, okay?"
He nodded fiercely. "Yes. Yes, please. Thank you."
Jackie led the Doctor through the hallway and into the living room, where, with a quick apology, she left him with her little boy while she bounded upstairs to call for Pete.
The Doctor uneasily sat down, cross-legged on the floor, opposite Tony, who just looked at him with wide, brown eyes and mumbled a quiet hello - as if he knew who he was but wasn't quite sure how he ought to behave.
"Hello," greeted the Time Lord softly, instantly won over by Rose's little brother. He had the same trusting eyes as her, after all, as well as a brilliant array of toy figures surrounding him that the Doctor was just itching to play with. "It's fantastic to meet you, Tony," he continued, as he picked up something that looked rather astoundingly like a Slitheen, but was in actual fact something from a children's television show on Pete's World, and he absently started fiddling with it. "I'm the Doctor, by the way."
Tony's face broke into a grin, and he lunged forward, throwing his arms around the Doctor's neck.
"Woah! Hello there," laughed the Doctor, hugging the boy back. "What's all this for? Honestly, you Tylers are all the same. Your Mum did something very similar just now. And hopefully, with a bit of luck, so will your sister - "
"You're here," the little boy whispered in awe, stopping the Doctor's speech abruptly.
He swallowed thickly. "Yes. I am. Has she told you about me, then?"
Tony pulled back and regarded him with a surprisingly scrutinising look for a five year old. "I thought she might've made you up," he confessed quietly.
The Doctor smiled ruefully. "Nah, I'm rather real, actually."
"But she said you were...an alien," Tony murmured. The Doctor raised his eyebrows. "Are you an alien?"
He nodded. "Yep. And I have a spaceship," he informed him, grinning ear to ear.
"The TARDIS is real, too?" asked an excited Tony.
"Oh yes," agreed the Doctor.
"That's so cool!" he cried.
The Doctor beamed. "Finally! Someone's finally called me cool! I thought it was never going to happen, truthfully." He paused then, looking at the boy and considering something. "How old are you, Tony?"
"My birthday's coming up soon. I've asked for my own sonic screwdriver, like the one from the stories Rose tells me about your adventures in time and space! But she says she doesn't know how to make one, and even if she did, Mum wouldn't let me have one." He looked so disheartened that the Doctor couldn't help but feel obliged to promise he'd make him one himself.
"Just don't tell Jackie," the Doctor added. "So, how old are you, then?" he repeated.
"Six. I mean, nearly six. On my birthday, I'll be six."
"Six years," the Doctor exhaled roughly. "Blimey."
They'd been apart for so long. How much had she changed in all that time? Had she found someone else? Was she married? Did she have children of her own?
"Rose is going to be so happy. She's really missed the TARDIS," Tony confided in hushed tones, as if it was a secret.
The Doctor pouted. "I hope that the TARDIS isn't all she's missed," he grumbled half-heartedly.
Tony shook his head. "She told me that she even misses the alien prisons you kept getting her locked up in! I didn't really believe you both got arrested. Is it true? Is it?"
"Firstly, more often than not it was her getting me locked up in alien prison cells with her. Very jeopardy-friendly, your sister. In fact - "
"Doctor," came a male voice from across the room. The Doctor looked up and grinned at Pete, who had a look of wonderment on his face.
"See!" Jackie hissed at his side. "I told you I wasn't imagining him, you idiot. He's finally here."
"About that," the Doctor winced, standing up. "From Tony's age I've ascertained that I've been gone awhile." He scratched the back of his neck nervously. "Rose. Is she...has she...will she want to see me?"
Jackie rolled her eyes. "Oh, for goodness' sake!" she laughed. "Pete, get Tony to get himself dressed and into the car. I'm going to show the Doctor something."
Pete nodded, shaking hands with the Doctor in a brief greeting before hurrying Tony to get ready.
Jackie grabbed the Doctor's hand and tugged him out of the back door and into the garden. When she stopped, he was at a loss as to what he was supposed to be being shown.
"Lovely garden," he commented casually. "Very...green. Oh! Look, now there's a nice flower," he beamed, strolling over to a white rose bush and plucking one into his grasp, mindful of the thorns. "Rose and I visited a certain planet once; Vronsa, it's called. Has the most – weeellll, okay, second most - beautiful rose you could ever see, all mysterious and magical. It's like...I'll tell you what it's like, it's like in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, yeah? The magical rose that drops its petals to count down time. All pink with yellowy magical dust surrounding it. Talking of Disney - does this world have Disney? This world must have Disney. Tony will not grow up sufficiently unless he goes through the rites of passages that are Disney films..." he turned back to Jackie, and was horrified to see her crying. "Jackie! Uh..." he floundered. "Um, are you...I'm sorry if I upset you, I..."
"No!" she replied, sniffing. "No, it's okay, it's not you. Well it is, but it's not your fault. It's just, you here...oh," she sighed, shaking her head. "She's...Rose, she's..."
His brow furrowed worriedly. "What is it? Is she alright?"
"Yeah," nodded Jackie. "Yeah, she's alright. She's always alright."
The Doctor failed to dislodge the sudden lump in his throat, so he just tilted his head in a silent request for Jackie to continue.
"She's working at Torchwood, helping save the world on a daily basis or whatever it is they do. She's travelled around a lot. She shares this lovely flat, all modern and posh."
He frowned. It all sounded like Rose up until the words modern and posh. But he brushed that aside to concentrate on the more important issue. "When you say 'share,' do you mean..." he voice trailed off as he noticed something for the first time, nestled in the oak trees in the corner of the garden.
"Is that a tree house?" he exclaimed excitedly. "Does Tony have a den? A very sophisticated, properly built one, at that! And TARDIS blue! Such a great colour scheme! Oh, that is one cool little boy you've got there, Jackie."
She muffled a laugh. "Actually, Doctor, it's Rose's."
He let out a surprised bark of laughter, and at once sprinted towards it, hearing Jackie quickly following him. Climbing up the rope ladder, he suddenly thought of Mickey and flying zeppelins. He paused, and looked down at Jackie. "What about Mickey? How's he doing?"
Jackie smiled. "Oh, he's very well. Works at Torchwood, too. Got a nice girlfriend and that. She's a doctor, actually."
"Good for him," he smiled back. Then, he went back to his task of seeking out Rose Tyler's secrets.
He opened the little door, crawled in, and settled himself on a bean bag, surveying the room as Jackie breathlessly heaved herself up, perching at the entrance. "I'm far too old for this," she wheezed.
"Nah you're not. Got a few more years of fun left in you yet, Jackie," he grinned, waggling his eyebrows. "I can't believe this," he whispered then, looking around.
There was an old, rickety bookcase in the corner of the little room, filled with both novels and photo albums and souvenir-y ornaments. Covering the walls were paintings and postcards and photographs; a collage of snapshots of the time and space that little old parallel earth had to offer. A couple of suitcases were atop a large trunk; all zipped up and possibly full of clothes and mementos. Blankets and various items of clothing were strewn across the floor to make it feel homey, well...make it feel like Rose had been here. The thought warmed the Doctor's hearts; she was still messy. And by Rassilon, he loved her.
And that, he thought, leaning forward, looks like a trap door. Weeelll. Considering it's in the wall, maybe just a door. But a very small door, so it looks like a trap door, he amended in his head.
"Twenty-six year old woman and she makes herself a club house. Not only that," the Doctor beamed, crawling on his knees to lift the hatch and peer inside what looked to be an extension, a room much like the first but hidden from view on the outside. "But a bigger on the inside club house! Oh, she's so brilliant, I could kiss her."
Jackie smiled to herself. "And I'm sure you will. This is what I wanted to show you, Doctor."
He turned back to her and grinned. "Well, it is very impressive."
"What I mean is, Rose never gave up on you. This place, in here...this is where she comes when she wants to get away from real life and all its paper work and demands and hostile aliens. She comes here and remembers. See, when she's not working, she goes away for days on end, sometimes; just drives to the airport and catches a random flight on a whim, ending up in all sorts of places. She takes her camera with her and a bit of money and not much else. Then she comes back, comes here, and she brings all the souvenirs she's collected, and she puts up the pictures she's taken, and she -" Jackie broke off, stifling a sob.
"She...?" the Doctor prompted eagerly, perusing Rose's collages of photos from across the World, his fingertips ignoring those of other people, tracing only the camera-captured smiles of Rose Tyler in the ones she was in.
Jackie took a deep breath and gestured to the dozen notebooks scattered amongst the mess. "She writes down every single thing she wants to say to you when you come back for her."
The Doctor sank back on his haunches, taking that in. Tears glistened in his eyes and for a long while, he could not utter a response.
"Everything she's seen, all the adventures she's had, all the people she's met and the funny stories they've had to tell. She writes it all down, Doctor, so that she doesn't forget everything she needs to tell you."
He wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. "I need to see her," he said in a low, gravelly voice. "Now. I need to see her now."
Jackie nodded. "Let's go."
He gave a weak laugh as he stared at the space above the little doorway as she spoke. In painted, blue, swirly lettering, it read: alonsy!
"Let's go indeed," he murmured, voice wavering.