"What about all those rings she wears?" The Doctor wiggled his fingers at Rose, grinning from ear to ear.
"Honestly, what's with that?"
"It's got to be a fashion thing, right? But why so many?"
"Doctor stop it."
"Oh come on! It is a bit funny."
"No it's not actually. My mum can wear whatever she likes, alright?"
"I was only joking." A little concerned, he watched her expression.
"No, you were taking the mick out of her, that's what you were doing."
"I'm sorry; you usually like talking to me about your mum." Running his fingers through her hair, he cautiously cupped her cheek. "I didn't mean any harm."
"I know you think my mum is just a stupid ape that isn't worth anything, but she's my mum and I love her. Until I met you she was all I had so stop it."
"Stop it." She firmly held his gaze. "Can we just change the subject?"
"Yeah, yeah if you want. I am sorry. I've really upset you, haven't I?"
"No." She shook her head.
"Hit a nerve then." He watched as she stepped back from him, slumping onto the sofa and bringing her feet up in front of her. "Or something." He sat down beside her. "I didn't realise it was a sensitive subject, I really am sorry."
"It's okay. It is." She reached a hand out to stroke his hair. "I'm alright."
He mirrored her action. "Are you sure?"
She covered his hand with her own, closing her eyes. "Yeah, I shouldn't have snapped."
He smiled, leaning closer to press a soft kiss to her lips. Coaxing her feet back onto the ground with one hand, he pulled her into a hug. "Your mum isn't a stupid ape, and there's no way she isn't worth anything. She's worth so much, if only because you're her daughter, she made you and raised you." He gave her a squeeze. "I could never think otherwise, and I swear if you tell her I said this I'll deny it but I love your mum, without her I wouldn't have you and she's a pretty amazing woman."
She leant back in his arms, trailing her thumb along his jaw. "I'm so telling her you said that." She smiled as he rolled his eyes, kissing her brow. "Do you actually want to know why she wears so many rings? Or are you just going to make fun of her?"
"I genuinely want to know now, but if it's private between you and her, that's okay."
"She uses them to hide her wedding and engagement rings 'cause she still wears them."
"Oh." He realised if he had thought about it that should have been obvious. "Why?"
"Because she loves my dad, it doesn't matter that he's dead because she does. And she can't forget him or let go because he's part of her, and part of me, and she's still in love with him after all these years."
"I get that. I meant why does she hide them?"
"Because from the day my dad died people told her she had to stop wearing them and move on, told her she had to let go and forget him and find a different man. She was told she had to fall out of love with him. So she hid them to make everyone shut up. But she wears them every day without fail. She says they remind her that she was loved, that for a while she had everything she ever wanted and that's what keeps her strong when it's hard, so don't you dare make fun of her because of that."
"Rose, I never would."
"You can't tell anyone this. There are only four people in the universe that know that now."
"My lips are sealed. Who's the other one then? Mickey?"
"No." She shook her head. "Howard."
"He's your mum's friend, right?" Rose nodded. "Boyfriend?"
"It's not actually like that, people just assume that but she's never even implied it. This is going to sound stupid to you but they're just mates, good mates, probably best mates. He was my dad's best mate, and when he died in the end my mum just didn't have the time to keep in touch with him, and others too, she had to work and raise me all at the same time, but she met him again recently, completely by chance, because he works in the market. Mum didn't even realise it was him until he started delivering to her door 'cause he recognised her, so now they're back in touch and really close, which is good for mum. But it's purely platonic, he knows she still loves my dad, but she's lonely too. I'm all she really has and then I upped and left and now she's really lonely, so he stays over some nights, keeps her company, because he's a really good guy and knows how much my dad loved her; he wouldn't want her to be lonely."
"'Course he wouldn't."
"They really are just mates, but it helps her to have him around, especially when it means people leave her alone because they think she's got a guy on the scene. People have stopped setting her up on dates and telling her to find a man and settle down. She likes that."
"That sounds good then."
She nodded. "It is, 'cause I don't know what it is about Dad, I suppose he's just the love of her life, but when she lost him she knew that was it, she's never believed she'll find love again, she's never been on more than a couple of dates with a guy, and even then only because her so called friends were setting her up, practically forcing her. At least if she's got a mate like Howard then she's not so lonely. I feel so guilty for leaving but how could I pass this up? Besides everyone leaves home in the end."
"You know she doesn't hold that against you, right? She loves that you're happy."
"I know. But I would give anything for her to never be lonely again, for her to be completely happy." She held his gaze. "For her to have Dad back. Literally anything."
"Rose, I can't tell you exactly what the future holds, but I can tell you one thing; she'll be happy."
He nodded. "You'd be surprised how often things work out in the end. Nothing's impossible."