The Most Loved Girl In The Universe
Set in the SwitchVerse.
"Rose, hold out your hand." The Doctor ran his fingers along her arm and across the back of her hand, coaxing her to raise her arm. She followed his touch instinctively, suddenly forgetting the mass of people that were downstairs waiting for them as she was drawn in by his piercing eyes, once again finding herself enchanted by her Doctor. She dropped her gaze to her wrist as agile fingers tied a TARDIS blue ribbon into a bow. When he'd finished she flipped her arm over, completely unaware that he was nervously watching for a reaction, relief flooding through him when she began to grin.
"Doctor, it's beautiful." She flexed her wrist and adjusted the flower and surrounding ribbons that made up the corsage.
He began to smile. "Before you say anything, yes I know this isn't a prom."
"I don't care."
"But Jackie told me how you missed out on your prom, and I thought maybe I could make up for that." He tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear.
"Is that why you insisted I get this dress?" Rose ran her hands down the front of his suit. "So you could pick out this tie to match me?"
He nodded. "And it's TARDIS blue."
She wrapped an arm around his neck and pulled him in for a kiss. "You really have no idea how romantic this is, do you?" He shrugged off her comment, idly twirling a blonde curl around his finger. Rose grinned and kissed him again, slipping her hand into his as she pulled away. "I hate to spoil the moment but Mum will kill us if we don't get down there soon."
His entire body filled with dread at the reminder of needing to make a good impression. "Right now that sounds like the better option compared to making a fool out of you. Formal occasions are not my thing; you know I'll be a complete embarrassment, right?"
"I keep telling you it's not that formal. Formal dress maybe, but it's just a party, no press or important stakeholders or anything like that. Just relax and have fun."
He shook his head with a smile. "Relax? I'll be too busy trying to avoid the inevitable disaster, not to mention the embarrassment and the shame I'll bring you."
"Hey." She reached up to cup his cheek. "You're amazing and they'll see that. You might be completely ridiculous at times but I'll never be ashamed of you. You could destroy the buffet table, knock over everything, be covered in food and have everyone laughing at you and do you know what I'd do? I'd help you up off the floor, pull you close and tell you I love you."
The Doctor smiled and pressed his forehead against hers. "I'm so lucky to have you. I love you so much."
She gently rubbed her nose against his, having to consciously avoid getting sucked into the moment again. "If you want we can sneak out and slip into the party from the back. It'd be simple enough to climb out the window; I don't want you on edge all night because you had to make your grand entrance with me."
"Climb out the window in that dress?" He raised an eyebrow. "As much as I'm sure you could do it, I'd rather not risk you falling, maybe we should save your neck, not to mention the dress, which looks absolutely divine on you I might add, and take the stairs. I'm sure everyone will be too distracted by you to even notice me anyway."
Rose bit her lip, resisting the urge to tell him how gorgeous he was and that he'd have every bit as much attention as she would, probably more. "Come on then." She coaxed him into place beside her and led him by the hand to the top of the staircase.
Step by cautious step they began to make their way down towards the awaiting guests. Rose felt him tense and squeezed his hand, happily pausing with him in the brief moment before everyone would be staring at them. She could see him scanning the faces of the small crowd below them, each one raising their gaze to the couple as whispers alerted them to their approach. "Rose." She met his gaze and found him now watching her, the look of horror in his eyes made her want to tease him about everything he'd faced compared to that but she knew it was neither the time nor the place and for once such a comment would be no help.
Her smile calmed his nerves. "Just keep going." They continued down the staircase, both trying to block out the whispering and comments they could hear from the guests below. Once they were only a few steps from the bottom Rose caught sight of her mother; from the middle of the crowd she pushed her way to the front, pointing at the camera in her hand.
"Smile for the camera!" As she held it up, Rose stopped in her tracks and felt the Doctor slip his arm around her waist. Her smile became more natural compared to the fake one she'd been about to use for the photo. She leant into him and suddenly felt completely at ease, beaming at Jackie and losing all sense of nerves from the staring faces as the camera flashed at them. "Doctor, look at the camera." He finally looked away from Rose, pressing his cheek against the side of her head as he smiled, concentrating on Rose's proximity in the hope of blocking out the people around them; he was sure that more were gathering and was seriously considering legging it back up the stairs and hiding for the rest of the night.
Much to his relief Rose could feel how tense he was and had every intention of getting away. She held a hand up towards Jackie to block the next shot. "Mum, enough photos for now." She grabbed the Doctor's hand and pulled him after her as she slipped through the crowd and into the hallway. "That's the worst over." She gently kissed him. "You were just brilliant, and in an hour the novelty of all this will have worn off for them."
He leant into her, pressing a kiss to her hair. "I hope you're right. It wouldn't be so bad if they just stopped staring."
Rose hugged him tightly. "They're staring because you're gorgeous. Mum's probably been gossiping about us since they got here, not to mention everything else they must have heard about you over the past few years. They just want to know who the infamous Doctor that stole my heart is." He couldn't help but grin; even the slightest mention of her loving him lifted his mood. He held her tighter and began to rub her back; he was sure there was a slight draft and she was beginning to get goose bumps. She withdrew from him slightly and took in his concerned expression. "Relax." She placed her hands over his hearts. "Your hearts are pounding."
The Doctor shifted her hands from his chest, coaxing them upwards until her arms wrapped around his neck. "Stop worrying about me." He struggled to keep his voice even and firm, soon softening his tone. "Enjoy yourself tonight; I'm sure that before long I'll be as relaxed as you are. But I can't help my racing hearts if you're going to start professing your love for me; you know how happy you make me."
She leant up to kiss him. "I love you." She held the proximity for a moment then gradually let go of him. "We'd better join them in the hall; people are waiting to meet you." She bit her lip as she noticed him grimace. "It's getting cold out here anyway and I'm not sure how long we can leave Mum to cover for us before she crosses the line into insanity."
He grabbed her hand and began to lead her towards the hall, trying to stop himself from laughing. "Pretty sure she's already crossed it."
"Oh stop it." Rose laughed, leaning into him. "Don't let her hear you say that."
He grinned at her, lowering his voice and whispering in her ear. "If we're quiet and curl up in the corner, how long do you think we can hide from everyone?"
"About ten minutes at the most probably." Glancing around the room and seeing no one watching them, Rose tugged him towards some empty seats in the corner. Maybe if they trapped themselves behind a table and looked thoroughly preoccupied by each other then they would be left alone.
"Doctor! Rose!" Rose instinctively turned towards the source of the call and saw Pete watching them. After a moment he casually raised a hand to focus her attention on him, a grin spreading across his face as he waved them over.
"Sorry." Rose released the Doctor's hand. "Looks like we're wanted. No hiding just yet."
With a soft laugh he slipped his hand back into hers, twisting so that his back was to Pete and pulled her towards him. "Smile, you." She deliberately gave a weak smile in response. "No." Shuffling backwards he dragged her after him, widening his eyes as he grinned at her. "Properly, I want to see your beautiful smile."
"Shh." She pressed a hand over his mouth but smiled anyway. "Stop it, be serious for five minutes." As they reached Pete's side the Doctor pulled her hand away from his face and pressed a kiss to it, keeping his gaze locked with hers as he drew her closer.
Pete turned to the two guests he'd been chatting to. "You remember my daughter, Rose."
Suddenly feeling horribly aware of the attention they were about to receive she extracting herself from the Doctor, pressing her palm against his chest. "Sorry, hi."
Pete rolled his eyes. "And as you can probably tell, this is her partner."
"I'm the Doctor, nice to meet you." He held out his hand and looking confused they both shook it.
"Hello, handsome." Rose picked Tony up, sitting him on her lap as she cuddled him. "Where have you been? Has Mum not been keeping her eye on you? Or did she let you go off and play? Having fun?" She laughed as he nestled closer but didn't say anything. "Are you even listening to me?"
Rose followed his line of site to the little girl about his age that was sat on the floor in the corner. She had mid-length, dark brown hair and piercing green eyes that were filled with tears, her knees tucked up under her chin and her head rested on her arms. "She looks sad. Why don't you go and say hello? Go and cheer her up."
Tony nodded, hopping off her lap and running over to the girl before sitting down beside her. "Smile." He beamed at her as she shifted her gaze up to him but otherwise didn't move a muscle. "You're beautiful." That made her smile, blushing slightly as she lifted her head. "What's your name?"
"I'm Tony." He grinned as her smile became more confident and began to reach her eyes. "Come on." He pressed a kiss to her cheek then stood up, pulling her to her feet and leading her by the hand towards the hallway. "Let's go play a game."
"Mum." Rose walked up behind Jackie, tapping her on the shoulder. "Have you seen the Doctor?"
She shook her head. "Thought he was with you."
"He was. I only left the room for five minutes; went to check on Tony, left him chatting to a group of people, come back and he's gone." Jackie rubbed her daughter's arm, reading the concern in her eyes. "No one knows where he's gone; do you think he's alright? Do you think something's happened?"
Jackie shook her head again. "Rose, sweetheart, you know him better than anyone else; trust your instinct on how he's feeling."
"Look at me." Rose looked her in the eye. "Even I can see that he's doing just fine; he's never gonna run out on you. He loves you, and I know you know that, he'll do anything and put up with anything for you. He's happy, just go and find him."
"Mum." She couldn't stop herself smiling, blinking back the tears in her eyes. "I know, I know he's happy. I'm just worried about him."
Pete stepped away from the group behind them, having overheard the conversation, and wrapped an arm round Rose. "If anything he should be the one worrying about you; you should be letting him fuss over you." He lightly brushed away her tears and tucked her hair behind her ear. "You've worked hard for this so just enjoy it." He leant in to kiss her forehead. "I think I saw him go into the hallway, no idea where he was going though. Go on." He nudged her away from him. "And smile."
Rose walked out to the hallway and found the Doctor sat halfway up the stairs; elbow's leant on his knees. "Wondered where you'd got to." She kept her gaze fixed on him as she walked up to his side. "Leave you alone for five minutes and you go missing. Whatever happened to the 'don't wander off' rule?" She sat down beside him and nudged his shoulder with hers. When he didn't look up at her she frowned. "Okay, what's wrong?" He turned to face her but didn't say a word. She lifted a hand to stroke the side of his hair. "Doctor? What happened?" She gently pulled him in for a kiss.
He withdrew and looked down at the floor. "I just." He sighed but began to smile when she slipped her hand into his. "I'm not good enough for you."
"That's not true." She squeezed his hand.
"No it is, and I already knew that, I did, but for someone else to say it out loud, well, that's entirely different."
"They said that?" She was horrified. "Who said that?"
He shook his head. "Doesn't matter, it's not important. Sorry, I just couldn't face them any longer." He pressed his face up to hers. "Oh but Rose, you make everything better with a cuddle. I love you." He slipped his arms around her, pressing his face into her shoulder.
She smiled, hugging him back. "But you are good enough for me. More than good enough, I mean if my parents are so happy about us and love you this much then you've got to be doing something right." She gave him a comforting squeeze. "You've got Mum loving you. Isn't what I think the most important thing anyway?" She withdrew from him a little, resting her hands on his shoulders. "I say that you're more than good enough, I say you're perfect for me." She slipped her arms around his neck and kissed him. "Remember all those silly love songs I always used to play on the TARDIS? Well one of them has this particular line 'people throw'…"
"'People throw rocks at things that shine'." He smiled a little.
"Yeah exactly. And that's just it; you shine and we shine, that's why they're throwing those metaphorical rocks at you and at our relationship, because you're so beautiful that you shine." Smiling broadly he rubbed his nose against hers; her words rendering him speechless. "Honestly you're just everything I want. It's like, you know they say that all little girls start planning their wedding from when they're about five and dream up this perfect day? Well that wasn't me, all the girls around me would talk about their dress and the cake and the big castle they wanted to get married in and I just didn't care about any of that stuff, I still don't, I've always cared about finding the right man. And yeah maybe they'd insist their perfect man would be tall, dark and handsome, which actually yeah you are, but I'd be dreaming up a list of what's really important. My list was all about what's in here." She prodded him in the chest. "You know, funny, intelligent, adventurous, affectionate, generous, honest, trustworthy, loving. Everything you are. And yeah there's stuff about you that I never thought I'd love so much, like how geeky you are, and the way you say my name, I love the way you babble, and I love what comes from you being a Time Lord; I love the sound and feel of your two hearts beating, I love that I can feel you here." She pressed her forehead to his, touching a finger against her temple. "That you can show me memories and feelings and so so much beauty in a way that no one else can. I could go on for ages but I'd never stop." She couldn't help but grin. "And I'm not saying it's always easy because yeah we argue about stupid things and our lives were so dangerous and I have had to fight so ridiculously hard to get this back, but I wouldn't change you for anything. Just the way you love me astounds me every day, when I think about how much you love me and the way you show it, it makes me feel like crying. You love me so much you shaped yourself around me, that in itself is incredible, to be so eager to be right for me that you'd tailor your body and mannerisms and just everything to fit me, even when you actually already did and always will, that's amazing. Not to mention the little things, like you just can't sleep if you think that I'm mad at you or that I think you're mad at me, the way you used to wait outside my door if I was upset because it broke your hearts to see me like that and you'd always wait right there until you could make it better. You've always done everything to make sure I'm alright, and even more to make sure I'm happy, you even took me back to see my dad twice knowing full well what damage I could do." She took a deep breath, wiping her eyes. "Just think about everything you've ever done for me because you love me. How can you say you're not good enough for me? You fit everything I've ever dreamed of; you're literally my dream man. You're just my perfect man."
He delicately cupped her cheek, cuddling her closer as he pressed his face into her neck. "Oh Rose, you're so much more than I ever dreamed of."
She smiled, curling into him. "I've got something for you." He mumbled a response against her, shifting to press his face into her hair, kissing the top of her ear. "Cake?"
He felt her lean slightly away from him and loosened his embrace so he could meet her gaze. She held the cupcake up for him, grinning at his elated expression. "Oh that's brilliant! Edible ball bearings!" He took it from her and took a bite.
She laughed. "Yep, the last one."
He hummed around the mouthful. "You've got to try some of this."
She shook her head. "I got it for you."
Grinning he took another bite. "And there was me thinking your mum would be a gateau kind of person now."
Rose stifled a laugh. "Nope, still a cupcake person. Which I'm sure you'll be taking full advantage of. She's still the same old Jackie."
"But they're ball bearings you can eat Rose!" He waved the rest of the cake at her.
"Yeah, I know. 'Masterpiece' wasn't it you said?" She reached across to wipe the icing from the corner of his mouth.
He grinned as she licked it off her finger. "Here." He fed the last bit of cake to her, pressing a soft kiss to her lips.
"You taste like icing." She grinned.
He smiled back. "I missed you."
"I missed you too."
A few hours later Pete and Jackie said goodbye to the last few guests. Shutting the door behind them he breathed a sigh of relief and pulled his wife into a cuddle, happily letting her lean against him. She sighed, settling into his embrace, glad to have some time alone with him, a brief moment of peace after spending so long trying to get the guests to leave that it was well past midnight. He strained to press a kiss to her forehead. "I know I keep saying this but you look stunning."
"You scrub up pretty well yourself." She lifted her head from his shoulder. "But no, seriously, you're gorgeous."
He smiled and leant in to kiss her. "Did you put Tony to bed?"
She shook her head. "Why? Didn't you?"
"No." His brow furrowed with concern. "And I haven't seen him for hours, assumed he was asleep."
Her eyes widened slightly. "Neither have I. He should have been in bed, what, five hours ago?"
"Don't fret." He took her hand and led her back towards the hall. "He's not going to do anything stupid; he'll be fine, we'll find him curled up somewhere, safe and sound."
"I hope so. Last time I saw him Rose was keeping an eye on him."
"Then he'll be fine, she's not gonna let anything happen to him." They walked into the hall and found the Doctor and Rose sat together, Rose looked exhausted, leant sideways against the back of her chair as he rubbed her feet. The Doctor looked up at them as they approached, Rose following suit as she saw him mirroring their concerned expressions. "Please tell us you know where Tony is."
She nodded, beginning to smile. "He's fine I promise. He's asleep on the sofa in the living room. Stop worrying I've been checking on him."
Jackie leant into Pete, breathing a sigh of relief. "Oh sweetheart, thank you." She slipped her shoes off, padding through to the living room to check on Tony, Pete following close behind.
Tony was just where Rose had promised, sleeping peacefully at one end of the sofa with a half smile on his face. She had however forgotten to mention the little girl that was curled up against him and fast asleep. Jackie knelt down in front of the sofa, pressing a gentle kiss to Tony's forehead; he gradually woke, squinting at her. "Mummy?"
She hushed him, gently stroking his hair and momentarily glancing up at Pete. "Are you okay?" The boy nodded, letting his eyes drift shut again. "Who's your friend, Tony?" He told them her name and was soon getting carried away, eager to tell them every little thing about her. "Shh." Jackie kissed his forehead again, his slightly incoherent babbling making her smile. "Go back to sleep, you can tell us everything in the morning." He smiled, fatigue soon winning him over as he began to fall back asleep.
Nonetheless their conversation had already woken Alexia; she was watching Jackie with quiet interest but made no effort to move away from her new friend. "Am I in trouble?"
"No, no sweetheart." She stroked the girl's hair. "You've done nothing wrong." She couldn't help but think that it was in fact her parents that had done a lot wrong in leaving their daughter behind, each guest had checked out as they left so they knew her parents had definitely left. "We're going to give your parents a call and let them know you're here, you go back to sleep." She couldn't help but notice how the girl frowned for a moment until she nestled back into Tony's side, smiling as she drifted off to sleep again.
Pete picked the blanket up off the back of the sofa, draping it over the children and gently tucking it round them to keep them warm. "No one's even called us." He took Jackie back into the hall so their conversation wouldn't disturb their slumber. "She's the Bannerman's little girl, right?"
Jackie nodded. "I can't believe they just left her here, there was me worrying about Tony when it's our house and I knew he'd been with Rose, and they don't seem to have even noticed she's missing. That poor little girl, she actually looked sad when I said I would call her parents." She shook her head, tears pricking her eyes.
"Mum." Rose stood up, taking a few steps across the room. "Earlier, before Tony went over to talk to her, she looked really sad, miserable even, she was sitting alone in the corner of the room looking like she was going to cry. And I mean this was ages ago, they've been asleep for hours. I think her parents left hours ago, right near the start of the party."
Her brow creased. "Pete, will you call them?" He nodded and left to do so. Jackie walked with Rose back over to the Doctor, Rose returning to her position with her feet on his lap as Jackie sat on the opposite side of the table to them. She wasn't just sad for Alexia but was beginning to feel angry, forgetting how tired she was as she thought about the revelations of the last few minutes. "But she's so beautiful and Tony clearly adores her already, he's smitten, so how could they just forget her like that?"
"I don't know, Mum." She shook her head. "Right now I think it's just important that we look after her."
Pete walked back in, setting the cordless phone down on the table as he sat down beside his wife. "No answer, I've left about five messages though. I guess we just call again in the morning."
Jackie nodded. "Guess we'll have to. It just makes me so angry, but I guess they could have had a reason to rush off, can't see what could possibly be a good enough reason though."
Rose softly sighed as the Doctor rubbed just the right bits on her feet to soothe the aching. "Relax, she's okay and that's what matters. We'll just have to keep an eye on her and make sure that that beautiful little girl doesn't suffer. Tony's gonna make her feel like the most loved girl in the Universe."