The Boy With the Gravity-Defying Hair
The Doctor felt a sharp prod in his mind the minute he stepped out of the TARDIS. It tickled more and more as he walked.
He put it down to nerves about being within the proximity of Rose Tyler again.
The Doctor was excited. Very, very excited. He could barely remember to breathe, he was so excited. He was finally going to see her again. Well, if she let him. He wasn't sure how long it had been for her. Whether she had moved on or not, though, he was practically bouncing with energy, utterly convinced he would get the chance to put things right with her, and at the very least get to tell her how much he loved her.
He walked past a few hedges and down a couple of pathways lined with daffodils and then, as he looked straight ahead, he was confronted by a young boy on a swing.
"Who are you?" the boy asked, a bit rudely, as he swung to a stop.
"Who are you?" the Doctor retorted, also a bit rudely, as he stepped closer.
When he got a proper look and within a couple of metres' distance of him, the connection he felt to the little boy was instantaneous. It was almost as if...but no. No, it couldn't be. It was impossible.
And yet, as he stared at the child in complete astonishment, he couldn't help but notice his hair was the same shade and sticky-upiness of his own hair. And he had...
He swallowed thickly as he admitted this to himself.
...he had her eyes.
Because plenty of people had big, wide, brown eyes – like himself, for instance – but these...these were exactly like hers. Even down to the tiny flecks of gold.
And said eyes were staring up at him with an equally baffled expression.
The Doctor cleared his throat and held out his hand. The little boy looked at it warily as he said, "Hello. I'm the Doctor." The boy's eyebrows leapt to his hairline, and he instantly thrust his hand into the man's, holding it firmly rather than shaking it in greeting like he might've expected.
The Doctor beamed down at the boy, squeezing his hand in reassurance. "And what's your name, then?" he asked, his voice wavering with emotion.
"Josh," the boy murmured, a slow smile working its way onto his face. "Mum's been waiting for you," he added.
A lump came to the Doctor's throat and he crouched down to Joshua's eye level. "And where is Mum right now?" he asked softly.
"We're in Nana's garden at the moment. Mum's inside, just up there..." Joshua pointed at the large house. "Shall I take you there?"
The Doctor almost cried with relief and he nodded quickly. "Yes, please." He paused, biting his lip thoughtfully. "Do you know who I am?"
Joshua grinned at him, then. "Of course I do," he answered. He let go of the Doctor's hand and wrapped his arms around his neck, giving him a big hug. The Doctor squeezed back, and stood with him still in his arms, holding him to him like he never wanted to let go. Joshua squealed in boyish delight as the Doctor started to run up to the house, clinging on tight. The Doctor laughed, too - a full, hearty, happy laugh - and it felt like years since he'd last done so. It probably was.
When they reached the back doors, Joshua scrambled down from the Doctor's grasp, realising that he was acting like a little kid - when seriously, now, he was practically a grown up, nearly, almost, perhaps, but honestly, he'd never met the man before so could you blame him for being a bit clingy upon their first greetings? nah, course not - and said, "You wait here for a second, yeah? I want to tell Mum I've brought her a surprise." The Doctor nodded, unable to remove the wide grin from his face. Joshua turned to go inside, but then span back around as he remembered he ought to tell him something, "It's April 27th, today, just so you know."
The Doctor's eyes widened in delight and he let out a low whistle. "She's going to have the best birthday ever," he told Joshua wisely. "How old is she now? How old are you?"
The boy smiled secretively. "That would be telling," he said. And with that mysterious response, he went into the house. The Doctor rolled his eyes. He'd obviously inherited his enigmatic streak. He shifted from foot to foot nervously, even more restless with excitement than earlier, and he couldn't wait for her to come outside.
It was five minutes later, as the Doctor had begun pacing up and down in front of the rose bushes, that he heard the doors open again. He turned instantly, expecting to see her, but it was Joshua, standing alone. "Joshua, where is she?" the Doctor asked in a panicked voice, running through all the possibilities in his head.
Joshua sighed. "It's Josh," he corrected long-sufferingly, as if he had to do that a lot. "And she said she'll come down in a minute. She's busy."
The Doctor scoffed. "Busy? She wouldn't say that if she knew what her surprise present was," he said cockily. "Let me just go to her, now."
Joshua held the door open for him. "Fine. But don't blame me when she has a heart attack when you sneak up on her."
He looked at the boy like he was stupid. "I won't sneak up on her. Is she upstairs?" he asked enthusiastically.
"Yep," Joshua replied, popping the 'p.' The Doctor grinned, and swiftly sprinted for the stairs. "Oh, and Dad?" Joshua added.
The Doctor's step faltered and he went very still. Turning his head slowly to look at him, he hoped his son couldn't see the tears in his eyes. "Yeah?" he replied hoarsely.
"She's in the bath," he smiled.
The Doctor's eyes lit up. "Well, then. She's not that busy," he answered cheekily, before bounding up the rest of the stairs.
Once he got to the landing, it was easy to find the bathroom. He just followed the sound of Rose singing, and then knocked on the door tentatively.
"Sweetheart, I'll be down in a sec, yeah? Just let me have a nice, relaxing bath for a bit. It is my birthday," she called out, expecting it to be Joshua at the door again.
The Doctor smiled, and twisted the door knob, entering anyway. His breath hitched as he saw her, for the first time in years, lying with her eyes closed amongst the bubbles.
"Josh, I said - " she began patiently. But when she opened her eyes her words caught in her throat.