Rose Comes First

"We're out of tea bags." Rose appeared in the doorway of the library.

The Doctor didn't look up from his book. He was sitting crossed legged on the sofa and clutching a mug of tea. "Yeah, sorry I used the last one, thought I'd get some more in the morning. I thought you'd gone to bed early anyway." He looked up at her, brow furrowing with concern; she was visibly drained and looked utterly miserable. She was wearing pink pyjamas and a hoodie that was far too big for her, one of his that he knew was her favourite so always wore to concerts when she refused to let him wear his suit. She'd wrapped her vibrant pink duvet around herself in a way which only made him more aware that she was really suffering. "Are you alright?" He stood up, book falling on the floor as he pulled her into a hug, the warm mug of tea held carefully out the way. She shook her head and leant into him, pressing her cheek against his chest as he rubbed her back. "How long have you been feeling like this?" He suddenly felt guilty when he realised quite how many hours it had been since he'd seen her.

"Few hours." Her voice was slightly muffled making the words unclear.

He loosened his hold a little, pushing the mug of tea into her hands. "You have the rest. Some tea will do you the world of good." He kept his arm around her, willingly letting her lean against him. "Oh Rose, you really don't look well, and I don't mean a little sniffle of a cold." He knew without a doubt that this was worse than any cold or flu she had caught before, this was a full blown alien virus that she had no immunity against. "I think we need to take you home."

"But this is my home." There was a hint of a smile on her face but she was completely sincere.

She had no idea how much it warmed his hearts to hear her say that. "Your mum's then."

Rose groaned. "But I feel awful, I can't deal with you two fighting."

He leant closer and kissed her forehead. "I'll be good, I promise. Come here." He took the empty mug from her, haphazardly tossing it on the sofa as he wrapped an arm around her shoulder and walked with her to the control room. She slumped into the chair leaving him to run around the console as he tried to land the TARDIS as gently as possible, even then it was a less than smooth landing. He let go of the controls and walked back over to her, pulling her to her feet despite her reluctance. "Come on, humour me, if she's really bad I'll lock her out of the flat." He winked at her, earning a smile. "Ah, now there's that beautiful smile of yours." Wrapping his arm around her shoulders, he led her down the ramp with a level of enthusiasm she found surprising considering they were going to see her mother.

The Doctor opened the door to see Jackie running towards the TARDIS, a huge grin on her face. Rose stepped out to meet her, still wrapped in her duvet, frowning as her mother's expression quickly became accusing. "What've you done to my poor Rose? Look at her, she looks awful!"

"Mum, don't." She sighed, reaching back in search of the Doctor's hand or arm to hold onto for support.

He stepped closer and wrapped her in his embrace. "Just let me get her to bed. She's exhausted, she needs some rest and looking after. I just thought you'd want to help but I can do it by myself if you'd rather. Feel free to yell at me all you want later, but Rose comes first."

Jackie looked up at the Time Lord, the concern in his eyes making her relent. "Alright, get her inside."

Rose reached out and lightly touched her mother's arm. "Don't you dare yell at him for this."

"I won't sweetheart, save your energy." Jackie soon understood his evident concern. Rose looked even more tired than before, as if she was ready to fall asleep on her feet.

He scooped her into his arms, walking with Jackie into the flat before laying her on her bed and tucking her in. Rose looked up at him with tired eyes but a hint of a smile on her lips. "Get some sleep." He sat on the edge of the bed next to her, happy to let her curl into his side and pull him down so he was closer to lying than sitting. "I'm going to look after you and so is Jackie and by the time you wake up I'll be here with some chips, a big mug of tea and a massive selection of Disney films." He watched with a smile as she closed her eyes and her expression grew more content. She was already falling asleep. "You'll never even know I was gone." He leant down and kissed her forehead, happy to wait until she fell asleep before he went to find the things he'd promised.

The Doctor mopped Rose's fevered brow as she slept. She looked content with a half smile on her face but every so often she'd screw her face up, tossing in her sleep and mouthing his name. "Rose." He brushed her hair out of her face. "Relax, I'm here." He hoped to keep away any nightmare that might form as a result of the virus; the added stress would only hinder her recovery or worse make her too weak to fight the illness. Eventually Rose's expression relaxed and the smile returned, she softly sighed and stopped fidgeting, allowing the Doctor to pull the duvet over her properly. A flicker of movement behind him caught his attention; he suddenly became aware that he'd been oblivious of anything but Rose for a while now. "How long have you been there?" He turned to face Jackie.

She was standing in the doorway, arms crossed. "Long enough."

"I'm sorry, I'll go if you want."

"No." She smiled weakly, worry evident on her face. "Just a bit of déjà vu. How's my Rose doing?" She sat on the opposite edge of the bed to him. "And be honest, Doctor."

He gazed down at Rose, frowning. "She's got a fight ahead of her. She's fighting the virus but she's strong with a great immune system, it was good even before all the travelling. She just needs some rest and looking after. Remember this is Rose; she's tough." He looked over at Jackie. "I won't let anything happen to her."

"Do you think she'll make a full recovery?"

"Oh yes. This one's tougher than me." He gently stroked Rose's cheek with his thumb, watching her wrinkle her nose and lean into his hand.

"She's in good hands. You'll look after her, Doctor, like you always do. And don't think I don't know that she looks after you as well. When you changed your face and wouldn't wake up for hours she hardly ever left your bedside. She might have been confused and terrified but she looked after you, just like you're looking after her now, that's what I meant by déjà vu. She sat with you for hours, mopping your brow and just wishing you'd wake up and tell her you'd be alright. She went up in that ship to stand in your place, you know? Just you make sure you don't give up on her either." She pointed her finger at him.

He smiled at her playful remark but it never reached his eyes. His concern remained in his expression and voice despite his best efforts. "You know I won't, Jackie." He never could, purely because she was Rose Tyler, his pink and yellow girl who he believed in above all else. The Doctor promptly returned his attention to Rose; she seemed to be comforted and was sleeping peacefully. "Can I leave her with you for a bit? I just want to pop out and fetch her a few things. I'll only be an hour or two."

"'Course you can." She smiled. "Go get something to cheer her up, just don't be too long and try to be here when she wakes."

"Yeah I will." He reluctantly pulled his gaze from Rose as he got up, a slight frown on his face. It was silly that he missed her when she'd only been asleep a few hours. This was no worse than when she usually slept but then again he had grown accustomed to sleeping when she did; he had no reason to miss her when he always dreamt of his Rose.

"Oh come here." Jackie walked round to him, hugging him in that excessively tight way that she often did. "Stop fretting so much. The sooner you go the sooner you'll be back."

"Thanks." He hugged back for a moment before extracting himself from her grip and checking on his sleeping Rose again. "I'll see you soon, Rose." He leant down and softly kissed her forehead before taking a few steps towards the door. "I'll take Rose's mobile with me." He stopped and looked at Jackie. "The slightest thing happens to her, anything changes or she wakes up, you call me and I'll be here as soon as possible."

"I will. Go." She urged him. "And Doctor, I know what you two are like; no chips."

The Doctor tiptoed into Rose's room, leaving his shopping bags by the door in an attempt to avoid disturbing her. He could hear Jackie moving around in the kitchen and she was making a ridiculous amount of noise; anyone would think she was fighting aliens in there not making a cup of tea. Finally rid of the last bag, there were at least ten he realised, he flexed his fingers and lifted his gaze to Rose. Jackie had insisted she was fine, she was sleeping peacefully, a result of him calming her she'd added, curled up on her side with her duvet tucked under chin. She clearly still had a fever and looked incredibly vulnerable but still he found himself smiling; she looked utterly beautiful as always.

"Doctor?" Her eyelids fluttered and she opened one eye.

He crouched down at in front of her, grinning as she peered at him over the side of the bed. "Hello."

"Hello." A hint of a smile formed on her lips; there was no better way to wake up than to see his smiling face.

"How are you feeling?" He tucked her hair behind her ear.

"A bit better. I'm not so tired."

"Good." He continued to smile as Rose reached a hand out from under her duvet and touched his hair, playing with it for a moment before brushing her thumb against his cheek. "What?"

"Nothing." She smiled more prominently. "Just you." She withdrew her hand, tucking it back under the duvet. "And that goofy grin."

He grinned again as if her comment had been a request. "Can I get you anything?" He stood and stepped back a little.

"Cup of tea would be great, thanks." She pulled the duvet back a little, swinging her legs off the edge of the bed and sitting up.

"Now where do you think you're going?" He raised an eyebrow at her.

"Oh you're worse than my mum." She shook her head a little, rubbing at her temples. "Would you relax? I'm just going to the bathroom." The Doctor held out a hand to help her up and pulled her into a hug.

She knew he was grinning even when she couldn't see it. "Rose Tyler." He released her and pressed a kiss to her forehead before bounding off towards the kitchen.

When he returned, two cups of tea in hand, Rose was sitting in bed, beaming up at him. "Thanks." She took a mug from him, clutching it in both hands and inhaling deeply.

The Doctor placed his own on the bedside table, taking the duvet she'd brought from the TARDIS and wrapping it round her shoulders. "Keep yourself warm!" He insisted. "I've brought you the biggest collection of DVDs you've ever seen!" He pointed at the shopping bags. "And you know your mother is cruel, she said I wasn't allowed to get you any chips! But I snuck some in anyway." He grabbed a box out of the nearest bag and got in under the duvet beside her, opening the container and offering her a chip.

"Mum is going to kill you." She leant against him as he wrapped an arm round her. Despite still feeling awful she couldn't stop herself smiling; he always knew the perfect way to cheer her up.

"Which is precisely why we aren't going to tell her."

"Tell me what?" Jackie walked into the room, peering at the two of them suspiciously. "Doctor! I told you no chips! She needs to eat what's good for her, what good are chips going to do?"

Rose failed to wipe the grin from her face. "Look!" The Doctor pointed at her. "Look at that smile! Look how happy she is! Can't argue with that."

Jackie smiled and shook her head at them. "Honestly! I don't know what I'm going to do with you two."

Some time later Jackie got up from the sofa, deciding to check on the Doctor and Rose before she went to bed. The flat was quiet with no voices coming from Rose's room which surely meant that she was asleep again. She eased open the door to find the two of them curled up together, both asleep.

The light was still on and the duvet lying loosely round their hips covered neither of them properly. Rose lay with her head on the Doctor's chest, her left hand resting over his right heart. He'd wrapped an arm protectively around her waist, head titled towards her. His feet were sticking out of the end of the duvet and he was leaning at a slightly awkward angle but still there was a smile on his face as he subconsciously pulled her closer. An exhausted Rose had fallen asleep cuddled up to him and he hadn't the heart to move her when she looked so content. She needed the rest and he was happy to stay where she needed him, lying down to make her more comfortable but otherwise staying put.

Jackie carefully pulled the duvet over them, smiling as she reached for the light switch. Maybe this wasn't how she'd imagined her daughter's life would be, but this was certainly the way she wanted it.

Rose stretched her legs out, flexing her toes as she placed her feet over the Doctor's. He wriggled his toes, moving his feet apart then back together, laughing as she tried to keep her feet on top of his. "Film not interesting enough for you?" He wriggled his toes again. "Honestly Rose Tyler, what are you doing?"

"You have massive feet."

"Oi! That's rude!" He poked her in the arm, raising an eyebrow.

"It's true!" She laughed at his expression, making him all too aware how much he loved that sound.

"Rude, you are!" He prodded her again, trying to look offended but before long he was grinning again. "And definitely not ginger." He ran his fingers through her hair, fingering the ends of the strands. "But I think you'll find my feet are a perfectly normal size." She wrinkled her nose at him but said nothing. "Be nice!"

"Okay, okay." She grinned, tongue peeking out from between her teeth. "You're so easy to wind up."

"Are you sure you're ill?" He eyed her suspiciously, holding the back of his hand to her forehead. In fact he knew how ill she was, he could see it on her face despite the smiles and she was burning up again. "Oh, come here." He pulled her close, letting her nestle into him as he cuddled her. "You've got to tell me when you're feeling hot or cold. Let me look after you properly, Rose."

She rolled her eyes. "I'm fine. I don't want to make a fuss."

There was a hint of laughter in his voice. "Now where's the fun in being ill if you can't make a fuss?"

"Rose says she'd like a hot chocolate." The Doctor opened the kitchen cupboards one after the other, rummaging through the contents of each one as he went. He didn't seem to notice that Jackie was watching him from across the room, legs crossed at the ankles and shoulder against the wall. "Have you got any of those little marshmallows?" He suddenly turned to face her. "You know, about this big, pink and white, put them in hot chocolate." Jackie smiled as she looked at the man before her, a man that she could no longer imagine her life without. "What?"

She tilted her head a little. "You really love her, don't you?"

The Doctor was taken aback. He didn't know what to say to her, didn't know what he should say when he hadn't admitted as much to Rose yet. Time Lords didn't do love, not really, least of all with a human and there he was believing that loving her didn't even begin to cover how he felt. He didn't even know how to describe what he felt, but he found himself wanting to, he wanted to tell Jackie that it was more than love, confess that even he couldn't define what it was and that it terrified him. But he could never admit so much to her mother before telling Rose herself which left him only one way to cover what she meant to him. "She's Rose Tyler."