Cover Note: Original TARDIS image property of BBC Wales, found via the Almight Google.

Author's Note: The Doctor Who sandbox is property of BBC Wales. This prologue takes place some time before the epilogue of Rift.


lonely children

It's two o'clock in the afternoon. The Doctor, in his study, is searching for the photos he knows are in the house somewhere. He needs those photos; he needs something more than just the Rose he has in his mind, something to remind him that the Rose he knew was very much real, very much a part of his life.

His one heart beats too loudly in his chest.

Jenny, in her room, is staring at the glow in the dark constellations on her ceiling. They were Rose's idea. She had brought them home one day with the shopping, and the two of them spent the afternoon sticking them to the ceiling. Jenny still remembers exactly which stars Rose put up.

Her twin hearts beat much too loudly beneath the plastic stars.

The Doctor walks out of his study to search his bedroom as Jenny comes down the stairs. He sees the questions in her face, the hesitance, but also the loneliness.

He stops his search, just as he always does for her at times like this. He crouches in front of her. "What are you thinking about?"

"Rose," she says timidly.

He picks her up and she curls into him, laying her head on his chest. "Me too," he admits as he walks back into his study and takes a seat in the big armchair in the corner.

"Daddy?" she asks in a small voice.

"Yes, pumpkin?" The Doctor has never been terribly fond of pet names, but he catches himself using them occasionally; he attributes it to the general human tendency for such things.

"Danny at school says his mummy and daddy aren't his real mummy and daddy."

He isn't quite sure where she's going with this. "It's very possible his parents adopted him when he was younger."

"Like you did me?"

He begins to see the line of conversation. "Yes, something like that."

"Danny says his mummy and daddy love him as much as they love his big brother Benjamin, even though Benjamin isn't adopted." She bites her lip. "But I don't have a real mummy and daddy like Danny does."

"You have a very real father. Remember what I told you?"

Jenny nods. "But what about Rose?"

"What about her?"

"I thought—" she sniffles "—is Rose my mummy? Like Danny, not like Benjamin."

The Doctor blinks against the sudden prickling sensation in his eyes. He kisses his daughter's hair and gives her a reassuring squeeze. He doesn't want to tell her, but he will not lie to her about this. He shifts her so that she is sitting on his knees, looking straight at him. "What I'm going to tell you is very, very important. Rose loved you like you were her own. And you were, in many ways, but that Rose is gone. Another Rose is in her place, a new Rose. I think, given enough time, she will like you very much, but I don't think she will love you the way our Rose did."

Jenny nods solemnly. She curls up against her father again. "I wanted Rose to be my mummy, cause then I could be like Danny and have a Benjamin, except mine would probably be smaller than me."

The Doctor is not surprised at this confession, having wished it many times himself, not only with one heart, but also with two. Now, he realises, even three hearts together cannot wish hard enough. He thinks of the Doctor, the Time Lord victorious, alone in his universe save for the brief camaraderie of a few brave humans, and he counts himself lucky. He may not have Rose, but he has Jenny, and together they will at least survive: two lonely children in an unfamiliar world.

A/N: I seem to have neglected, in past stories, to include the usual statement proclaiming I am merely playing in a sandbox owned by BBC Wales. But then, I shouldn't have to disclaim anything, seeing as your browser's address bar clearly states you are browsing a fanfiction website.

I must thank my beta and editor for taking time out of her busy schedule to proofread this and make sure it's not entirely stupid.

This story is shaping up to be shorter than the others, but it should tie up some loose ends for those of you who wish to stand me up in front of a firing squad for how I ended Rift. I may be taking my hiatus before instalment number five, rather than afterward as I had planned, but I promise I'll finish this story before I take my leave.