Set in the SwitchVerse.
The Doctor looked up from his plate, meeting Rose's gaze as he bit into his toast. Mouth full and jam smeared across his cheek, he watched with amusement as she laughed. "What?"
"Don't speak with your mouth full." She reached across the table to wipe the jam off his cheek.
He licked his lips. "Well? You're staring. Toast is getting cold." He picked up her slice and held it up for her to take a bite.
She took the toast from him and finished her mouthful, dropping it onto her plate as she smiled at him. "Thank you."
He shook his head a little, continuing to beam at her. "What for?" He ran his thumb along her nose and across her cheek. "I was just trying to make you smile, needed to bring you back to me. You looked like you were miles away."
"I'm just happy." She reached over and took his hand in hers. "And I meant thank you for choosing this." She squeezed his hand. "Thank you for being with me."
"Rose, you're all I want in the Universe." His smile widened. "I just want to be by your side wherever that takes us." He lifted her hand to his face and kissed her knuckles. "Thank you for getting back to me." He took another bite of his toast, trying to ignore the temptation to cuddle her, settling for squeezing her hand.
With a smile Rose looked down at her plate, squeezing her eyes shut before bringing her gaze back up to his. "I'm actually a little bit surprised at how well you're dealing with this; I know just how hard it is to adjust to a new universe. Maybe it's different this time because you chose it and you've got me when I was trapped here and stuck without you." His smile faded a little as he leant closer. "Maybe I worry too much but I imagined it'd be worse for you because of everything you can see in here." She held her free hand up to the side of her head. "The turn of the earth, what should and shouldn't be; everything must be so different."
He shook his head. "It's not so different really; this universe is a pretty close match to the other one. The fundamental things, the important things are the same or close enough. I'm adjusting just fine, don't worry about me, I've got you so I'm happy."
"Good." She squeezed his hand. "But whatever you need, I'm always here for you. If you need a cuddle, to talk, comfort or peace and quiet, or if you need to cry, anything, come and find me, yeah?"
He covered her hand with his free one. "I'm not about to run away or, I don't know, do something stupid like leave you because I'm struggling with the Universe. I'm happy, and I'm in love and I'm definitely here to stay."
"I know, and I know it's silly but I need to look after you; I don't want you to suffer the way I did."
"Rose." He strung her name out, walking round to her and swiftly pulling her into his arms. "Rose, Rose, Rose, Rose, Rose." With a smile he pressed a kiss to the side of her head and squeezed her tighter. "I love you."
Mid-conversation the Doctor cleared his throat, nervously shifting on his feet as he scratched behind his ear. "Pete?"
The other man smiled, hoping to put the Time Lord at ease. "You alright, Doctor? You look like…" He trailed off, trying to stop himself from laughing. "Honestly, I have no idea how to describe what you look like."
"I just, well, I wanted to, sort of, felt like I should…" He shook his head, grinning as he pulled Pete into a bear hug. "Thank you." He tightened his grip a little. "Thank you for catching Rose."
He gingerly patted him on the back, finding the Doctor's embrace almost crushingly tight. "You're welcome."
He happily released him, grin fading from his face. "I mean it, I don't know what I would have done if she'd fallen into the Void." He looked down at the floor. "Actually that's a lie; I would have ripped open the Universe to get her out of there." He flicked his gaze up towards Pete, catching sight of the tentative smile on his lips. "But I wanted to say thank you, for looking after both her and Jackie and giving them a home. I know you've been great support for Rose and Jackie's smitten."
Pete smiled broadly. "Like I said, you're welcome. I wouldn't have done it if I didn't want to; I love Rose, she's my daughter and don't even start me on loving Jackie."
"Right you two, I heard my name, what are you talking about?" Jackie casually walked into the room, thrusting a mug of tea into the Doctor's hands.
Pete shook his head at her, trying not to laugh. "You say that like I've never said anything nice about you. You worry too much, love."
"I'm not worried really." She smiled, passing him his tea. "And I'm not checking up on you if that's what you think. Feel free to tell me to go away if you like."
The Doctor sipped his tea. "I'm sure that won't be necessary." Hands shaking he carefully put his mug down. "Actually I was hoping to get the chance to talk to you both. I was wondering if…" He ran his fingers through his hair. "Well, I want you to know that I really do love Rose with everything that I have; I've given her everything and I've promised her my life but I still don't think that's enough." He squeezed his eyes shut, kicking himself for being so indirect.
"What are you talking about, sweetheart?"
"What I mean to say is that she deserves more than I can ever offer but I know it's me she wants, so I want to show the world, well the Universe, how much she means to me and that I really love her. Now I don't have a ring yet or anything but I was hoping that you'd give me your blessing to ask Rose to marry me." He tensed visibly, watching them both for reactions.
"Finally!" Jackie exclaimed, grabbing hold of him and hugging him tightly. "Of course you have my blessing!" She firmly kissed his cheek.
"And mine." Pete grabbed hold of his wife's hand, gently coaxing her away from the startled Time Lord.
"This is wonderful, you're such a perfect couple and the wedding's going to be beautiful!" She nudged him affectionately, unable to keep the grin off her face. "I'm so happy for you both."
"Don't get ahead of yourself." The Doctor held up a hand. "I haven't even asked her yet."
Jackie laughed. "Of course she's going to say yes! Sweetheart, she loves you with all her heart and she's gonna be so happy when you propose! How am I ever going to keep this a secret? I already want to tell the world."
Pete leant closer to her. "I'll have to keep an eye on you then, you can't let it slip else you'll spoil it for him, poor bloke. I won't have you ruining the moment for them."
The Doctor exhaled, releasing the tension in his muscles. "Good, because I still need to find the perfect ring, and I don't even know when or where I should propose and everything needs to be perfect; I need time."
With a smile Pete patted his arm. "If I know Rose, and I think I do, then the fact it's you asking her will be enough to make it perfect. It's the person that matters; I mean I completely messed up my proposal to Jackie."
"No you didn't." She rubbed his arm.
"See? So no worries." He wrapped an arm round Jackie's shoulders. "Oh, and congrats in advance."
The Doctor grinned and picked up his tea. "Thanks, and thanks for the tea, Jackie." He indicated to the door, eager to find Rose and give her a cuddle. "I think I'll go and find her, if you don't mind."
"'Course not." Jackie waved him off, grinning at her husband. "How beautiful is that wedding gonna be? But he's so on edge, bless him, anyone would think he doubted Rose's love for him. Is everything okay with him or did he say something was wrong?"
"I don't know, we were just chatting away, having a bit of fun and then he was suddenly thanking me for catching Rose and looking after you and her."
"He's probably fine; I think he just appreciates what you've done for us both. Besides I know I don't thank you enough but I am so thankful for everything and I know Rose is too."
He pulled her into a hug. "Jacks, I've told you before, you do enough. I love you and you're my wife and you definitely do your fair share of looking after me too. You've given me a family, what more could I want?"
Rose perched on the edge of the sofa beside the Doctor's sleeping form. His legs were hanging over one end and he was slumped at an uncomfortable angle with one arm over his face. As if sensing her presence he shifted a little restlessly, moving his hand away from his eyes and resting it on her arm. "Hey." She smiled, keeping her voice quiet as she hushed him. He fell back into a deeper sleep and Rose coaxed him closer to her, letting him settle into a more comfortable position. A smile appeared on his face and he curled a little closer to her, she wondered what he was dreaming about to have him looking so happy. Gently she held the back of her hand to his forehead, being careful not to disturb him; his temperature was normal and it gave her peace of mind to know that he was just fine, even if he looked exhausted and clearly needed the rest. Lifting his hand from her arm she closed her own over it, squeezing his hand as she kissed his forehead. It made her smile to see him sleeping so peacefully, a contented smile on his face that showed that whatever was going on in his head had no effect on his happiness. The gradual rise and fall of his chest, the subtle changes in his expression and the affectionate caress of the back of her hand all kept her smiling as she began to relax. It was a wonderful stress relief to just watch him sleep, to get to observe him and soak in his very presence after so long without him. It warmed her heart to know that he was there with her, lounging around the house and feeling thoroughly at home as part of the family; there was nothing better than having him by her side and totally in love with her, having promised her his forever. She hoped he knew how much it meant to her.
"Oh, there you are, sweetheart!" Jackie caught her daughter's attention from over the back of the sofa, coming rushing in through the doorway and looking utterly delighted.
Rose held a finger up to her lips. "Mum."
She narrowed her eyes, brow furrowing as Rose gestured her closer. She caught sight of the Doctor and brought a hand up to her mouth. "Oh I'm sorry, I had no idea he was there."
Rose couldn't help smiling at how unobservant her mother was. "Just be quiet, yeah?"
Jackie peered at the Time Lord. "Is he okay?"
"Are you sure? I only mention it because I've never seen him sleep much, in fact the only times I've ever known him to sleep were when he was ill or you were curled up in his arms, and this clearly isn't the latter."
"I'm sure." Rose rolled her eyes. "He's just exhausted, whole new universe to adjust to and he's still getting used to being without the TARDIS. There's a lot going on in here." She pressed a finger to her temple. "But he's just fine I promise, I would know if there was something wrong, and even if I couldn't tell he'd have told me." Her fingers were in his hair now, delicately twisting the strands and playing with the ends. "What was it you wanted?"
"Oh right." Rose's prompt suddenly reminded her that she'd come with news. "Your dad's organised a little party for us, to welcome us back home and let you introduce the Doctor to a few people. It's on Saturday evening, and I know these kinds of parties aren't exactly your favourite thing, or his I'm sure." Jackie indicated to the Doctor's sleeping form, Rose instantly felt less at ease with having her mother peering over him, something she knew he wouldn't be comfortable with. "But your dad's been rushed off his feet dealing with the business and things, bless him, and I think it's lovely that he wants to take some time out for this. It's really thoughtful of him and I think it'll help him to relax; he's been worried sick about us."
"Of course we'll come." Rose read the concern on Jackie's face, every day she saw how much her dad loved her mum, and equally how much she loved him back. It was wonderful to see them so happy together, she couldn't ask for a better man for her Mum, and he clearly thought the world of her. "You never know I might even manage to get him into his tux." She smiled. "But that might be pushing it, and will probably involve a lot of bargaining."
Jackie began to laugh, abruptly stopping as she reminded herself that she was supposed to be quiet. "Well as long as he's there by your side, that's good enough for me."
Jackie watched from a distance as Tony bounded up to Rose, he grabbed the model TARDIS that lay on the floor as he fell into her lap, giggling as she tickled him. She heard someone walk up behind her and shrugged as she felt his hand on her shoulder, quickly assuming it was Pete; she sighed as she felt him squeeze her shoulder, unwilling to avert her gaze. The last thing she wanted was to be distracted, feeling a mixture of concern and adoration as she soaked in the sight of her two children, hoping that their happiness would help her relax.
"Are you alright, Jackie?" The Doctor's voice was not what she expected to hear, suspecting that of all people it would have been Pete that came to see how she was.
"I'm just fine, sweetheart." She smiled but still didn't look away from Rose and Tony.
"Is it Pete then? Rose? Tony?"
Jackie eyed him suspiciously, wondering how he'd become so perceptive when it came to her emotions. "I'm just a bit worried about Tony, but I'm sure I'm just being silly."
"Did something happen at school?" He watched the little boy pick up a toy werewolf and attack Rose with it. "He seems fine."
"I got a letter from his teacher saying she's worried about him. Apparently a lot of the children aren't really including him, he doesn't have anyone to play with at lunchtime and most of them don't want to work with him."
"At least he's happy." He indicated to the four year old, by now he'd given Rose the werewolf and was busy acting out a scene using toy versions of the Doctor and Rose. "He doesn't seem to mind."
"He wasn't very happy when he got home though, and I know he's only been at school a few weeks but I want him to have friends his own age." Jackie inhaled deeply, glancing behind her. "Do you know where Pete is?"
"No I don't, but, Jackie, don't worry too much; Tony's got all of us and you're an amazing mum. He's brilliant and he'll have a best friend before you know it." He smiled in a failing attempt to cheer her up.
"Yeah, I'm sure he will." She tried to shake off the concern that felt so heavy on her shoulders. "Thanks." She patted his shoulder, reluctantly turning away from her daughter and son. "Anyway, I'm gonna go find Pete or have a lie down or something." She rubbed at the sides of her head and walked away.
The Doctor sat down in front of Rose, ruffling Tony's hair. "How are you doing, Tiger?" He watched the little boy's reaction carefully.
"Good, having fun playing with Rose." He grinned. "Much better than school plus she teaches me lots of amazing things."
"Your mum was talking to me about your school just now, and she probably won't tell you how worried she is but I want to talk to you about it, is that okay?" Tony nodded and the Doctor leant a little closer. "I know school isn't that fun most of the time, but you're a clever little boy and you're going to learn so many amazing things there."
He frowned. "I like learning but lots of the boys in my class are mean. Tom says I'm a freak and stupid for believing in time travel and aliens. No one wants to be my friend."
"Hey, I'm your friend aren't I?" He tilted his head. "And I'll let you into a little secret, he's the stupid one for not believing in time travel, you know the truth." He smiled a little as Tony looked happier. "Don't worry about anyone that calls you a freak, because you're brilliant."
"School is just lonely. I don't like being lonely."
Rose cuddled him closer. "You've got me though."
"Yeah, you've got your family. Your mum and dad love you so much, and Rose and I love you too. I know it's horrible feeling lonely but I promise you'll always have us, and I promise that one day soon you're going to meet a boy or girl who's going to think the world of you; they will love you as much as we do and think you're the best person they've ever met, just like I met Rose. And I promise that all the loneliness and the time you waited will be worth it; you, Tiger." He tapped the boy's nose. "Will be so ridiculously happy all the time that you'll forget you were ever lonely."
Tony stared at him for a moment before a grin spread across his face. "Sounds brilliant." He wriggled out of Rose's arms and hugged the Doctor. "Love you."
"Don't I get a cuddle?" Rose gently touched her brother's arm.
"And you, Rose!" He launched himself back into her arms, beaming up at her with wide eyes.
"Good." She kissed his forehead. "Where were we in the latest adventure?" Rose held the werewolf figurine up before him. "I think the werewolf was about to attack the Doctor." Tony nodded enthusiastically, turning away from her and growling at the Doctor as he jumped on him. "I meant the toys!" She laughed, putting the figure beside the miniature TARDIS.
"Ouch!" The Doctor pretended to struggle. "You've got me! Please don't eat me!" He peered at Rose over the top of Tony's head, trying not to laugh as the boy growled again. "Rose! Help me! Save me!"
She laughed and leant back against the wall. "You're a big boy, you can look after yourself."