Not Just Your Dad But Your Father Too
Set in the SwitchVerse.
"Pete." Rose called out to stop him leaving the dining room. "Wait, please, I wanted to talk to you."
"Can it wait?" He looked at his watch.
"Yeah, I guess." She looked down at the table, sounding downhearted. "You've probably got a meeting or something."
"But you're more important." He took his suit jacket off and threw it over the back of his chair. Returning to his place beside Jackie he shot the Doctor a questioning look, when he shrugged he watched Rose's trouble expression with concern. "What's wrong?"
"I'm sorry." He looked at her questioningly. "I'm sorry I've been messing you around."
"You haven't." He shook his head at her. "Why? What are you talking about?"
The Doctor scooted closer and began to stroke her hair. "Rose?" He leant closer as he saw she was blinking furiously. "Please talk to us." He pressed the pad of his thumb against her cheek to catch the tear that had escaped. "Do you need us to go away and leave you two alone? Would that help?"
"No, no." She lifted her hand to his wrist and rubbed the back of his hand with her thumb. Sighing she rested her head against his shoulder and looked across at her dad. "I just feel rotten for so happily letting you be my dad without having the decency to call you just that."
"Hey." Pete's brow furrowed as he leant across the table towards her. "We talked about this." He got up from his seat and took the chair round to her side. "Rose." He leant forward and rubbed her arm. "I've told you, I don't mind, not in the slightest." He leant his head against his hand but didn't look away. "You know how much I love you, so what's this about?"
"You know I said I didn't understand why it hadn't clicked properly? Well I think I do now and it just makes me feel worse about it."
"Don't beat yourself up over it." He frowned, saddened by the tears in her eyes. "And please don't cry."
As the Doctor slipped his hand into hers she sighed. "Well it occurred to me last night, made me feel miserable."
"That's what that was?" The Doctor had tears in his eyes, she'd cried her heart out the night before and it didn't help that he could feel in his mind how miserable she was, it had to be intense for him to feel it so strongly. "Oh Rose." He couldn't resist slipping an arm round her, cuddling her close as he pressed his cheek to her shoulder.
She closed her eyes, soaking in the feel of his embrace to let him calm her emotions. "When we were in the other universe." She opened her eyes and twisted to look to where the Doctor was still cuddling her. "When this one was still all big-eared and blue-eyed." He frowned at the mention of his ears, but was soon smiling when he saw the slight curl of her lips. "Even then he loved me as much as I loved him, probably more. He loved me so much that even though he knew it could be dangerous he took me back to the day my father died, so I could sit with him in his last moments. I just didn't want him to die alone." She looked across the table at her mother. "And it really upset you that he'd been alone, Mum." Jackie gently nodded; that wasn't how she remembered it but knew that would have left her all the more heartbroken. "And my gorgeous Doctor did that for me." He slipped his arm from around her waist, leaning his elbow on the chair behind her as he stroked her hair, softly kissing her cheek.
"That was you?" Jackie stared wide-eyed at her. She nodded. "Oh sweetheart!" With that she rushed round to her side and squeezed Rose tight. "Why didn't you tell me?" She gently let go of her, rubbing her cheek before Pete pulled her away and into his side so she was perched on the edge of his seat.
"I tried. But the version you remember outside the church is now what happened, but I remember you telling me two versions, the one you know now and the one that made me want to go back, plus I remember actually being there." She leant her head back on the Doctor's shoulder. "But anyway, to cut a long story short, in the end I couldn't just let it happen. I saved his life and though I didn't realise at first that had a serious impact on time that had to be corrected. The Doctor was so angry with me 'cause I was meant to just sit with him, I thought he hated me, he couldn't even face me and I knew he wished he'd never agreed to take me."
"No." He kissed her temple. "I was angry at myself because I knew even if I could remake that choice I'd just do the same thing. I still don't regret it, never have. I went to find a way for you not to lose him, but then you were in real danger, I had to protect you. But no, I could never hate you."
She smiled, finding his words a comfort. "As a thank you he let me tag along to the wedding where I met you, Mum. Oh you were angry, thought he was cheating on you 'til he worked out who I was and told you. The Doctor even got to hold the baby version of me." Her smile widened, thinking it was funny that he'd been able to do so. "So did I actually, but that turned out to be an even worse mistake." She turned her head so that her nose bumped the Doctor's. "Nearly cost me you." He pressed a kiss to her forehead, wanting to reassure her that she would never lose him. "But he was smart and he worked out what neither of us wanted to admit to him; he was meant to be killed by that car and there it was outside constantly going round the corner like it was stuck in a loop. He knew that to save us all he had to die, and he said that even if he couldn't be my dad he could do that for me." Tears were forming in her eyes again. "Mum, you just remember him running out in front of the car and you never knew why, but he knew what he was doing, he gave up his life for you and me, both his baby Rose and the me he'd got to know, and for the Doctor so that I could have him back. He gave everything up for love and for the love I had. Maybe he didn't really get to be my dad but that's just because he never had the chance." When she started to silently cry the Doctor cuddled her closer, cradling her head against him.
Jackie listened intently to every word and only realised she was crying when she felt Pete move to brush away her tears, ignoring the fact he was emotional himself. She wiped her eyes. "And then you went to him, so he wouldn't be alone." She reached across to take her daughter's hand, rubbing her thumb across her knuckles.
She nodded, hesitantly meeting Pete's gaze. "Sorry, I shouldn't have…" She wasn't entirely sure what had been too much.
"No. You should have, 'cause I get it. You couldn't call me 'Dad' because the other Pete deserved the chance to be your dad like he wanted."
Jackie released Rose's hand, took her husband's and squeezed. "But he's the same man, sweetheart."
Rose sniffed, still frowning as she turned to face them. "I know, he's still Pete, he's my dad and he's the man you love, I know, but he's just different."
"No, love." He slipped his hand out of Jackie's and leant towards his daughter. "I'm him and he's me. I'm not just your dad but your father too." He held both her hands in his. "I remember all that stuff you were talking about; I remember when your mum was expecting you." He smiled as Jackie leant her chin on his shoulder. "I remember the day you were born and holding you in my arms for the very first time. But it's a bit fuzzy, kind of like a dream, and it never made sense before but then I got the chance to talk with your mum, properly and deeply, and I told her about it and she talked it all through with me and it clicked for both of us, it made sense because I'm him. It's like I was him and then thrown into this universe where I had a life with a woman that wasn't my Jackie and where I didn't have you, the only good thing about this alternative life was having the success and fortune I'd been working for but it didn't really mean anything because I didn't have the two people I wanted it for." He leant his head against his wife's, blinking away the tears in his eyes. "And yes it does kill me that I never got to help raise you, because I missed out on so much of my child's life. But at least this way I can still be your dad, if you'll let me, because like I said to your mum, I got a second chance, a life I shouldn't have had and I'm so grateful for it because I get you and I get my Jackie and I get to give her the rest of our lives together like I promised when I first married her. I'm him, Rose. I'd give up my life for you in a heartbeat, for Tony or Jackie or the Doctor, any of you."
Rose slipped out of the Doctor's embrace, wrapping her arms around Pete and pressing her face into his shoulder as he pulled her closer. "Dad."