To Capture a Glimpse
"Come here, you, come and look at these." Jackie sat down beside the Doctor, crossing her legs underneath her as she opened the photo album on her lap, moving it across to balance between them. "Isn't she beautiful?"
He looked at the first photo; Rose, just a few hours old, wrapped tightly in her mother's arms as her head rested on her chest. "Yeah." He turned his head as Rose perched on the arm of the sofa beside him.
She leant towards him and peered over his shoulder. "Oh, Mum!"
She chuckled. "Shh, you're adorable and it's not like there's any inappropriate ones. Neither of us was ever like that and I assure you you're just beautiful in every single one."
The Doctor smiled and lightly put his arm round Rose. "Go on, let me see them." He pointed at the first picture of her. "Look, you're beautiful."
She softly laughed, curling into him and looking over his shoulder at the wall as a grin spread across her face. "Okay." She rested her head against him until he pulled her into his lap. "I said, 'Okay.' Go on, show him, Mum."
She smiled. "Good, 'cause just look at you, you've always been beautiful." She reached across to stroke her daughter's hair. "The most beautiful baby."
The Time Lord nodded. "Yeah, and look how tiny you were."
"Six pounds five, four days early, less than forty minutes after the first ache, our perfect little baby."
Rose smiled, turning more towards them and hiding her face against his shoulder. "Stop it." She grinned more as he lifted his hand and began to gently stroke her hair.
"No." He tightened his arm around her waist. "Go on, Jackie, show me some more."
She looked at them both and smiled, then refocused on the photos in her lap. "I love these, look at Pete with her, and all three of us cuddling."
He noticed her thumb linger over Pete's image, delicately rubbing his cheek. "They're gorgeous photos."
"We took loads." She gradually turned the pages of the album. "She grew so much over those first six months."
"I'm so glad we took so many though." As she turned another page, she went quiet and stilled her movements. "That was the last photo Pete ever took with her. Her last photo with her dad. He looks gorgeous, a wonderful smile on his face, and she's just beautiful."
"Yeah." He let his gaze settle back on Rose as he felt her move, straining to whisper in her ear. "As beautiful as I remember."
Rose lifted her head, flexing her legs. "This is ridiculous, I can't keep listening to this, I'll go sit in my room 'til you're done."
He slightly loosened his hold on her but kept his hand on her waist, hoping it would be enough to tell her he wanted her to stay. Jackie gently ran her fingers through the ends of her hair. "Don't be silly; stay and listen to how beautiful you are. It's not like he's laughing, he thinks you were adorable, don't you?" She nudged the Doctor.
"I might actually prefer it if you were laughing though."
He gave her a light squeeze. "Come on, stay for both of us. Stay 'cause I want to share this moment with you."
"Alright. Just stop calling me beautiful. Stop cooing over me, it's embarrassing."
"No can do I'm afraid." He smiled as she softly laughed and hid her face in his shoulder again. "Go on, Jackie, show me some from when she was older. I wanna see what she was like toddling around the flat."
"Here." She found some pictures that matched his request. "Soft, blonde hair, wide eyed, full of laughter. The brown in her eyes came through stronger until she had almost the opposite of Pete's eyes, brown with blue and green in them, like they are now, whilst his were blue with green and brown in them, still completely his eyes though. She loved running around even then but she was always really alert, aware, she knew when to be quieter and she'd happily sit and draw for ages, even when it was hardly more than scribbles; she's always been artistic. She was really intuitive too, she had her own adorable little way of looking after me." She reached across to stroke Rose's hair. "I'm lucky. She's beautiful."
"Mum!" She pressed her face into the Doctor's shoulder more, slipping an arm round his neck to hold him tighter.
"What?!" She laughed. "I'm just telling the truth. I love you."
She turned her head, resting it against him so she could look at her mum. "I love you too."
She smiled. "No more hiding, look at this with us." Rose nodded in response and that was enough for Jackie.
The Doctor grinned, pressing a gentle kiss to her forehead in thanks. "I like this picture." He pointed to one taken when she was three, in a light blue summer dress, her blonde hair a little messy but she didn't care, beaming at the camera and holding an ice cream that was beginning to melt in the sun. "You've still got the same smile, Rose."
She instantly felt her lips curl upwards and reached across to turn the page, flicking through a few more. "What about ones from when I was at school? At least then there might be some of me actually doing something."
"Alright." Jackie chuckled, swapping the album for another on the table. "There's primary school, oh there's a really cute one of you and Mickey in here."
She wrinkled her nose. "If it's that one of us hugging…" Her expression dropped as she saw her mum point at just the one she was thinking of. She was six years old and both of them were wearing thick winter coats as well as scarves, hats and gloves. The background was white with snow, and a snowman smaller than them could be seen in front of them. Mickey, as the taller of the two due to his extra years, had his arms wrapped around her shoulders as she strained to hug him back, and both had smiles on their faces, although his was wider since he was feeling the cold less. "Yeah, that one. It might look cute but I was freezing, I remember I just wanted to get inside, I asked you take me home and give me a cuddle to warm me up but Mickey pulled me into a hug and insisted on one more photo."
She smiled. "You weren't that cold, and I did take you straight home after, wrapped you up in a blanket and put on your favourite movie. Look." She pointed to the photo beside it in which she was cuddling Rose, keeping a green blanket round her shoulders as she held the camera away from them with her other hand.
The Doctor beamed and rubbed her side. "You do look much happier." He leant down slightly to touch his brow to the side of her head. "And I know you don't want to hear me say it, but you were beautiful." He felt her shake her head as she exhaled with a laugh.
"There's so many from her school years." Jackie smiled. "Both primary and secondary school. So many wonderful memories that we made together." She reached for a third album. "She's got even more in her room, some copies of ones in here, or ones that didn't make it into the albums, but she's taken quite a lot with her friends as well, or they've taken them of her." She glanced up at the Time Lord to check he was still paying attention. "Most of the ones in here are when she was at secondary school, that obviously includes her teenage years." She slowly turned a few pages in the album, giving him a glance at the pictures, there were some close ups of the two of them that Jackie had taken herself, some that had been taken by third parties of them, and various ones, mostly of Rose, specifically posing in some location they'd visited. The Doctor smiled as they passed a few that they'd taken in the flat just to capture a glimpse of the fun they were having in that moment, love emanating from them all.
"I remember this." Rose pointed at the photograph in the middle of the page; she was wearing a Santa hat and was obviously caught slightly off guard as she grinned at the photographer, Jackie, both excitement and surprise evident in her expression. In the left of the frame stood a bright red bicycle with a large bow stuck on one handlebar. Underneath the bow hung a tag that just read 'Rose' in large, curly letters.
"Yeah, Christmas Day when you were twelve." Out of the corner of her eye she caught the Doctor's grin. "What's that grin for?"
"Nothing. She just looks happy."
"Yeah she was, she loved that bike. We never found out who it was from though."
"I imagine it was someone that loves you both very much."
Rose reached for the hand he had on her waist and covered it with her own, curling her fingers between his. Jackie smiled. "Yeah, thanks, sweetheart."
He squeezed Rose tighter, pressing a kiss to her temple. "You look absolutely beautiful in all of them."
She wrinkled her nose at him. "You're really not going to stop, are you?"
"Nope." He grinned, making Jackie mirror his expression.
"He's right though." She pushed the album a little closer to him and shifted forward on the sofa, uncrossing her legs. "Anyway, I need a drink, all this talking's making my throat dry."
He gently took the album from her. "Jackie, do you mind if I take a look at the rest? I mean I just want to look at them all, I don't need you to talk to me about them, I know there's a lot."
"Go ahead." She couldn't help smiling at him as he reached for the first album they'd looked at. "I was just gonna make us a cup of tea, then I'll come back and tell you about some more of them. I don't mind sitting here 'til you've seen them all."
Rose carefully stood and watched them both with a smile, stroking the Doctor's hair. "I'll go and make the tea, Mum, you stay, talk to him about them."