A/N: I love you all! You've all been so good to me and here's a nice long light hearted chapter. Reviews would be AWESOME! Thank you everyone.
This chapter is un-betaed, I wanted to get this out to you all asap.
"Shh, just," he kisses me with a fierce, Rory-like tenderness, aww, "I know you miss him. I know because you haven't stopped talking about him once in the entire time he's been gone. No. Seriously. You talk about David, like, all the time," he kisses my neck, and whispers, "I know that you're hurting. Just let me do this for you. Once."
"Yes," his hand strokes up my leg cupping my lady bits, through my apron and jeans and embarrassing granny -panties I'm, for god only knows what reason, really committed to, "Rose, I want you."
I fall into him, crushing him against the wall. I pin him there with my comfortingly wide hips, holding his wrists above his head.
I want this. I do, I always have. I say, "Once, Rory."
We kiss they're against the window of the shop, right there where any passer-by or curious and encouraging co-worker could see us.
Our tongues battle for dominance.
Rory tastes sweet and clean. Like the toothpaste that he never screws the damn cap back onto and also doesn't ever squeeze it from the end like you're supposed to.
I bite his lip and he gasps.
We're really going to do this. Finally. After both of us have wanted this for so long. We've been so obvious about it. Such blatant unrequited manly-lusting on both sides.
We're both so tall, and our long limbs tangle as our tongues continue to duel.
"Here?" I growl into his ear.
"Where else? Rose, I…"
"Okay!" I can't listen to this anymore. I try to take the pages from Rory who is laughing so much he can't read, "Amy, Why are our tongues battling? And dueling? How do tongues do either of those things? And… I'm sorry, my lady bits?!"
"Oh, Rosie, you should never apologize for your lady bits," Amy can't breathe she's laughing so hard, "Tiger, that is the worst Rose Tyler I've ever heard!"
"Give me that," I finally snatch the pages out of his hands, "Jesus Christ…"
He looks up at her, grinning crookedly, "You hear a lot of Rose Tyler impressions, Amy?"
"Are my hips really… comfortingly wide?" No one answers me, "What does that even mean?"
I keep reading. My hand rests comfortably the small bump of my slowly expanding stomach, it's been three months since New York, and I finally gotten the green light to go back to work.
Well, when I say work what that really means is everyone else does most of the work while I sit around, but that's better than being stuck at home going out of my mind with boredom.
David was not impressed, if he had his own way I would have been stuck in bed until the baby was born.
Rory stands up, tucking his chin on my shoulder and reading along.
Reading the friend-fiction she has not only written about us… but printed and brought into work today.
It's… well. It gets filthy. Fast.
Thank god no one else is in the shop now.
"Oh, well… I would never do that," I mark my place with a fingertip, and shake my head at her, "Especially not to him."
"Hey! I'm right here," he says, feigning hurt, "Although, honestly… I don't think I'd want anyone doing that to me. Even you. Rose, I would not describe my penis as 'ruggedly sensitive."
"I would not. No. Never in my life," I turn the page, "Oh, god! It's illustrated!"
"I thought it would lift your spirits, Rosie," Amy flips a towel over her shoulder.
"Give it back," Rory reaches for the pages but I pull them out of his reach, "Oh, come on… that needs to be read aloud."
Amy wipes tears from her eyes with the corner of her apron.
"No," I fold them in half as the door opens and Dana, my sweet, innocent wide-eyed Dana, walks in, "No way."
It's her first time here in about a week. She looks back and forth between Rory and me as I'm holding him back with a hand planted squarely in the center of his chest.
He's laughing and as annoyed as I am, I take just a second to appreciate how content and healthy he looks. He's just come back from a month in the Greek islands with Amy… he says all they did was swim and eat and had, oh, so much sex... and it shows. He's relaxed and tan and fit… I hate to use the word robust for anything that isn't a flavor, but… Rory is robust.
"Morning," Dana stares, "What are you…"
Rory grabs the pages from me and takes them back to his table, sitting down and reading the rest of it silently, his hand covering his mouth as he laughs, shoulders shaking.
Sighing heavily, I carefully shuffle behind the counter.
"So?" I say, setting her iced-tea (now that it's warm, I can't believe it's June already, she has forgone the usually hot chocolate in favor of something cold) down next to her stack of art books, "How was it?"
"Amazing!" she beams, "Your little brother is so, so nice and the school was… incredible! They're archives are… what's another word for amazing or incredible?"
"Uhh…" Rory looks up from the stapled pages, freckled nose wrinkling, "'magnificent'?"
"Is that in there?" I cringe.
He shrugs and nods, reading slowly, "'Rose's magnificent-'"
"Right!" I turn, "Yes. Archives."
I hear Amy laughing as she takes scones out of the oven.
Dana gives me a suspicious look, "Yeah… anyway, uh… they have such a, uh, an incredible art history program. And I could learn how to do art restoration. Wouldn't that be perfect? I could help preserve these incredible pieces of art…"
I smile, "I think that sounds great. Tony was a good tour guide?"
"He was great! He let me sleep in his dorm. I've never even been in a dorm before. And I met his girlfriend and-"
"I'm sorry, his what?"
Her eyes go wide, "Uhh… his… girlfriend."
"Right, ah," I make a mental note to call my sneaky little brother later, "Anyway, that's great Dana."
"You helped so much. I'm going to start working on my application materials now. It's so perfect…" she sips her tea, "But, uh… It's Tuesday."
"So… tomorrow's the big day for you, right?"
I swallow, "Yes. It is."
"Oh, great! How long will he be back?"
"A couple of weeks," I wipe at the counter with a towel. Maybe I have been talking about David too much, as was pointed out so subtly in that… friend-fiction.
"He'll be here for the play then?"
I laugh awkwardly, "Yes. He will."
The play. Dana helped Amy and Clara put up posters for the play thus earning herself a credit in the program under publicity.
"Great!" she says as Amy sets down a plate in front of her with a freshly baked scone, "Matt will be so great in it. I think. I mean. Um…"
"He's so self-deprecating about it," Amy rubs my back between my shoulders, ever since the accident I've had a lot of pain in my back and ribs. Amy has been like a mother hen. "He's a fantastic Macbeth, isn't he?"
"Mmhmm!" Dana tucks into her scone, "So good. I understand every word."
"Well… that's something."
"And Clara! Oh my gosh."
Adam had apparently been desperate to direct Macbeth for years and finally secured some funding.
Amy is his Assistant Director and she's the one who talked Clara into auditioning.
And when their original Macbeth, some blonde kid, abruptly left down… Amy begged Matt to step in.
Last minute, and asked me to help.
I mean… with David gone, it was appealing… to have something to do in the evenings most nights.
I haven't acted in years. Even though I'm not in the play, helping others with their lines and such. And memorization is so much harder at twenty-five and pregnant than it was at eighteen and there's so many lines to help with…
But, actually, it's really fun. I have these moments of really feeling it. Matt has a fight scene with Alonzo and he and they've been having been having way too much fun doing that. For two such tall and relatively in-shape men, they are both shockingly uncoordinated… which has been a real bonding experience for them.
And… also? Clara is amazing. Like, scary and intense and… Clara is an actress. She's so natural at it… when she comes out with bloody hands and a knife… I mean… she's magnificent.
Or. Some other word that isn't magnificent.
"You coming to rehearsal again tonight, sweet thing?" Amy asks Dana.
She shrugs, "If I get my homework done early."
"The uh," Amy glances at me sideways, "kilts have arrived."
I groan, hanging my head.
"What's that now?" Rory asks from his table.
"The kilts are here, tiger! They'll be in kilts tonight."
It's not that I don't like kilts, I really do. Maybe a little too much. There's something inherently sexy about a man in a kilt. Once Amy heard about my love for a sexy man in a kilt she hasn't let me live it down, and made sure all of our friends even David knew about it.
"Oh, well," Rory sets down the pages, grinning at me, "I might have to finish my homework early tonight too then."
"Magnificent," I break off a corner of Dana's scone and man the counter as a group of elderly customers comes in.
"Your brother won't stop going on about how soft Clara's lips are," I'm eating my burger in front of the laptop, between the morning sickness then the ravenous hunger, I take every chance I can get to eat when I can. "And she's so tiny. She's like a little pepperminty bird with soft lips."
This is the routine. Has been for a while. When it's possible.
I'm not going to lie… I really look forward to this all day long.
I look forward to David.
Even David over Skype.
"I'm telling you…" he shakes his head, rubbing his hair with a towel, "I can't even form a realistic mental image of the two of them kissing."
He chuckles, "Insanely."
"Well… you'll get to see it happen on-stage and in the flesh soon enough."
"No rehearsal tomorrow night, right?"
"None at all. For me anyway. Amy said I've been working too hard, and scheduled a no-Macbeth required Macbeth rehearsal. Conveniently."
He smiles, "She's a good woman."
"With clear priorities." I say, passing a forlorn looking Mickey a fry. Satisfied, he then hops off my bed and trots out of the room, "Before you get in."
Apparently, Adam's vision is for a Macbeth with shorter hair. Matt had to cut his longish hair into a short buzz cut. He's due for a haircut, but to see him with such short hair made him look even younger, and now his ears stick out even more.
It took a lot of getting used too.
"She's taking me to a salon. Her salon."
He leans in closer to the screen, "Are you getting your hair done?"
"A bit maybe, I like it a bit longer so maybe just a trim."
He grins back. That happy David grin. Happy and a little pervy. He likes being able to grab a handful of it and pull my head back and-
I grin, stupidly, "Yeah?"
He is happy. Really. He's been happier in general since New York. At first he was overly protective, and I liked it in the beginning, but after two weeks of both David and my Mum hovering over me like a helpless baby. I had a few broken and cracked ribs that kept me down for a while. There were deep gashes on my body from twisted metal from both the Taxi and the truck. I'm scarred and very self-conscious and even after three long months some are still healing while others have scarred me permanently
. Once I had woken up, my recovery was… well, it was something that's for sure.
It took some time for the realization that I am pregnant really sink in, it wasn't until the ultra sound when I seen the baby's heart beat when it truly started to feel real. Thankfully the baby is well and fine. At the time it was so early into my pregnancy that the risk of miscarriage were up in the air, but now three months later and a noticeable baby bump and cravings there's no denying it now.
I've never been so happy in my life.
For David getting this job is a big part of it too. He doesn't have to do weddings now. He gets to travel. The money is good and he still gets to work fairly independently. All things that he likes.
It's not like he has to work, money has never really been a problem for him. It's the security and the feeling that he's providing for our little family that he does it.
This distance thing, though, that's been… hard. But not as hard as I thought it would be, honestly.
It was harder when he was in Reykjavik for two weeks… because of the time difference, but now that he's just in Scotland.
Well, at least we're in the same time zone.
And this isn't forever. He'll be able to work out of Cardiff as soon as the magazine (it's symbolically 'the magazine' - they're calling it that even though it's, like, mostly a blog… because no one buys print anymore…) gets a little more settled.
I've been busy at night with rehearsals. Nights that we don't rehearse have been spent, with the group. Dinners. At Matt's place especially. He and Clara have started throwing these themed dinner parties.
The last one was D&D&D… Dungeons and Dragons and Dinner.
Costumes are required by the hosts. I wore my princess dress over my clothes, the dress had to be let out some, it's the only thing about all of this I have not enjoyed so far, none of my clothes fit properly anymore to that one. Amy wore chainmail. We had turkey legs and played D&D (which Rory was completely perplexed by… and which, much to my surprise, Amy was an old-hand at). I mean… doing that kind of stuff with them has made the fact that David is far away easier to deal with.
Skype has also helped.
David stands up and I can see the lower half of him in the frame.
He's wearing a towel and his back brace.
And I love him.
In a towel and a back brace.
He's gone for a minute, coming back with a glass of water.
I tell him about work. The friend-fiction and Dana, and about how Tony apparently has a girlfriend now (who he claims is not a girlfriend at all but just a girl who happens to be her friend…).
He tells me about the editorial he's working on. The obnoxiously touchy-feely team-building workshop they had at the end of the day.
I tell him about rehearsal.
He tells me about the shower he took when he got home.
And I grin.
He's in bed now too, his hair messy and still a little wet.
In the center of his chest, hanging from its chain, I see my little silver shield.
"You still wearing that towel?"
He smiles, his right hand coming into view as he rests his palm against his chest, red string still tied around his wrist, "No."
That red string. The day he left this time, I noticed it was starting to fray. I said something about it, to which he coolly replied that when it fell off, he was going to take it as a sign that it's time to move on.
When I made what he refers to as my wounded-badger face he took it back. Swiftly and sincerely.
I knew he was kidding, but all the same, I have since made him a new, structurally reinforced string to replace that one when the time comes.
His hand slides down, out of frame.
His eyes close and he sighs my name, "Rose."
"I'm so ready for you to be here," I watch the muscles in his chest flex has his hand moves, frustratingly, out of frame until my eyes slip closed, fingers slip down into my trousers, listening to him, moaning, through the speakers, "So, so ready."
His voice cracks, "Keep talking, Rose."
Did I mention I look forward to this all day?
Because, oh fuck, I do.
I might be freaking out. I think that's fair, given what's just happened.
"Tell me the truth…" I can see my reflection in her sunglasses, "How… bad is it?"
"Calm down," Isabela's staring at my head, "It looks fine."
"Good. Great!" she frowns, "Good."
Okay well, let's just be honest, it's gone.
My hair is gone.
I look past her in the reflection of a window.
My head is so big, and my hair it… beyond short...
I'm a monster.
"I… it'll grow out."
"You're not bald, it's a pixie cut girls get them all the time."
I can see my scalp.
"You look cute."
I had no idea I was so attached to it. Physically… yes, I was very much aware of how attached I was when the freaking trimmer-thing dug in and my hair started falling, everywhere… by the time I objected it was too late.
But, emotionally? No idea. Until it's gone and my head is round and-
"David's going to kill you?"
She shrugs, "He won't, Oh, Rosie… I had no idea you were so vain."
"I'm not vain! I'm just… bald."
"Fuck, my ears are massive! I can't believe you took me to a salon to give me a buzz cut," I snap, "My mother could have done that in the bathroom."
"This argument just took a strange turn."
"You…" I make a frustrated sound, "Dammit."
"Let me buy you lunch."
"And a Sunday?"
"Yes. Whatever you want."
"I want buffalo wings. Loads of them."
She laughs, "Okay. Fair enough…" I let her wrap an arm around my waist, "It does look nice by the way. Really. It's nice to see your whole face for a change."
I run my hand through my short hair as we walk, "It's just so… weird. It feels weird. Feel this."
She reaches up and runs her fingers through my hair, "Yeah. That's… it feels nice. And at least your head isn't… malformed or anything."
"Thank god for that," I roll my eyes and brush hair from the front of my t-shirt.
"Your profile is actually… striking, Rosie."
"It was likely just as striking when I had hair."
"Hmm," she shrugs, "maybe. You can't hide behind it now. Maybe that's it."
"I don't…" I stop walking, "I don't hide."
"Whatever you say," she opens the door to the pub for me, "After you."
I walk in rubbing my head with both hands.
I just… I'm dazed.
I woke up this morning with a full head of hair.
I've had a full head of hair for all of my sentient existence.
I'm Rose Tyler, the awkward girl with paint on her shirt and that full head of hair.
After lunch (where I eat too many wings) I head home and grab Mickey taking him for a quick deject walk around the park. We sit together on the bridge. He licks my ear and I imagine that he's just as puzzled by my new look as I am.
I don't really understand why this is bothering me so much.
Maybe I am vain. Or… and I'm even less willing to own up to this one… maybe I have been hiding behind it. I do feel a bit exposed.
I had no idea.
I take a long, hot thinking-time shower. When I wash my inch of hair I use way too much shampoo and completely gave up on the idea of conditioner.
Because really. What's the point?
It just looks… weird.
I'm on the couch when David comes in.
He doesn't have an apartment in Cardiff anymore. Just the studio in Scotland. And here. My place.
He has a key.
I mean, he should, seeing as so much of his stuff is in my apartment now.
It's mostly books and winter clothes and skeletons.
You know, regular stuff that you leave at your girlfriend's house when you move away.
I hear him unlock the front door.
And I wait for him on the couch.
Bald and awkward.
I'm holding a pillow in my lap.
I haven't seen him for weeks. I'm mean, on Skype. But… God. He's… David. Here.
My heart is beating so fast.
Wearing a t-shirt and a sweater my hand resting lightly on my ever expanding bump, what he always flies in, he walks into the room and I look up at him.
He stops, cocks his head to the side, "…Rose?"
I want to stand up and hold on to him, but he's… staring. At my head. And… I want to apologize. Or something. Explain.
More than anything, I actually feel embarrassed. Not because I look ridiculous, but because I am bothered.
I close my eyes for a second. Get over it, Rose, he's here. Really. Right now.
I feel the warmth of his body against my legs. He's standing close in front of me. His right hand caressing my stomach protectively.
And then his other hand is on my head, fingers brushing gently through my short hair. God, his hand is so warm. I lean into his touch and groan softly and he rubs more, feeling the whole shape of my skull.
Which is fortunately not malformed.
He bends a finger gently under my chin, tilting my face up. His voice is soft and deep and home, "Rose."
He kisses me. I can feel him smiling. Well, he's amused at least.
I kiss him back, enthusiastically, reaching for his wrists with my eyes closed. He chuckles and reaches for the sides of my face, "Looks good."
I pull him in, onto the couch, tossing the pillow I was spooning across the room to make room for him on me.
Since New York.
As awful as it was—
As battered as I was after everything that happened.
As much as my now scarred body hurt.
As much as the anger that flared in my chest every time I looked down and saw the scabs and then the scars and remembered hurt.
As much as so much of it hurt, since New York I've known that he's always going to be home. Wherever he is. He's my home.
I've known that since New York. Without panic or doubt or insecurity.
So as much as New York hurt, it was worth it.
Because this clarity? This calm that I have now, here, bald and vain though I may be, on my couch with David's weight on me?
It's worth everything.
His fingers are warm and strong at the back of my very exposed neck.
"Welcome home," I kiss his jaw, "Sorry I'm bald."
"Sorry? You look…" he rests his forehead against mine and says with his eyes closed, "Bed. Now."
He smiles, broad and happy, and rubs the back of my head with his palm again and chuckles, "Christ!"
"I know…" I groan.
"I actually like it," he says leading me out of the living room, "I mean… I wasn't expecting it."
"You still like me?"
He stops walking and turns, closing the distance between himself and, and consequently between my back and the wall.
He holds me there. He's smiling crookedly, but there's something deeply serious in his eyes that takes me by surprise. He nods.
I curl down to kiss him, one corner of his mouth and then the other.
And then everything is fast, hot, hard. A blur of want and need.
Clothes gets pulled off, tugged away, dropped between the kitchen and my bed.
We drop into bed which I haven't made in a week, and there's so much, so much and I just need him.
We're tangled together, face to face, my hand on his cock and fingers, stroking, biting necks and shoulders and lips.
He makes me come first, watches my face, saying look at me, holding my head and telling me when to come, telling me that he needs me to, that I'm his and that he needs me.
I come, groaning his name, reeling, because it's so good, so much that can't keep stroking him, and he growls, "…too close, I can't, I can't."
He takes over, wrapping his own hand tight around himself, gripping me by the back of the neck, our heads together and he jerks himself off, holding me tight, shuddering, his whole body tense, shaking, eyes closed tight and mouth open.
I'm clear enough to move down, pushing him from his side to his back and getting between his legs, I tell him I want it… I want it so much.
"Please," I lick over his curled fingers to the head of his cock, "David."
He moans, his free hand clutching emptily at the back of my head as he comes, curling forward.
I swallow, lick him clean.
And he laughs.
"What?" I look up at him.
He clutches at the nape of my neck again, laughing between gulps of air, "I… I thought there was going to be hair. To pull. I… habit," he sighs, pulling me up to kiss him, "There was no hair there."
I shrug, bracing myself over him, "Yeah… afraid hair-pulling's off the table for the time being. But now I can do this."
I rub the longer front of my hair against the side of his face and hear first the odd rasp of hair against his skin and then him chuckling and gently shoving me off.
I roll to the side of the bed and grab a shirt, slipping it on.
I try not to be self-conscious about my body all scarred and ever expanding, but it's hard for me not to cover it up. It upset David at first, he loves seeing me naked scars, tummy and all, but I can't help it sometimes I just have too, and this is one of those moments.
He frowns and gets up after, when the light in the room's just started to shift from afternoon to late-afternoon. I watch him, propped up on my elbows.
I'll never get tired of watching naked-David do anything.
He could balance his check book naked and I'd be fascinated.
Not that I think David's ever balanced a check book.
He grabs his pants off the floor and takes something out of the pocket before folding them and putting them on the trunk at the foot of my bed.
He comes back to the bed, sitting next to me.
He looks at the thing, wrapped in blue paper in his hands, "I, uh… I got you something."
I sit up, "Huh?"
"It's… it's not anything… much," he grunts and hands it to me.
"I was… being back in Iceland, I…" he clears his throat, "Uh, having this," he touches the shield around his neck, that I gave him when he left, "and this," the fraying red string, "helped. So, I thought, maybe you'd want…"
I kiss his shoulder. He's endearingly terrible at this.
It's a rock.
A black rock about the size and thickness of the tip of my thumb. Matte and rough and porous but rounded and on a leather cord.
"Iceland, for me is… important. It's something from a place that… matters to me. This, is… lava. It was, lava," he says, "I found it. And I brought it back with me, to Portland and I had it, uh…" he touches the leather, "put on that. I… if you don't like-"
I kiss him, pulling him in, hard, deep.
When I pull back, he reaches for my face, holding me between his hands, "So that when I'm gone, you…"
"Yeah," I kiss him again, smiling.
I put it on. The rock rests on my chest about an inch below the base of my throat.
He rubs my head and laughs before leaning in to kiss the side of my throat, above the leather, right where my pulse beats.
"…just breathtaking! My god, Clara…" she looks at me, leaning forward to pat Matts leg, "you were very good too, sweetheart. But, Clara! You should be acting professionally. You were just… should I put the tape on? We could go inside and-"
"No!" I laugh, watching David laugh and exhale, "Mum… don't put the tape on. We just finished the show," I grab Rory's arm, he lets me, and look at his watch under the porch light, "Three hours ago."
Mum had actually brought the huge ancient camcorder and taped the performance on a VHS. I'm simultaneously horrified and very proud of her; my mum does what she wants.
"Too soon?" Mum sits back down, "Oh, all right."
Clara is tucked in next to Matt on wooden porch swing. He's been beaming all night… he is so, so proud of Clara. Before the play he brought her this huge bouquet of daisies, as the play opened, which maybe have been just about the most nauseatingly adorable thing I've ever seen in my life.
The image of a fake-blood splattered post-suicide Lady Macbeth-Clara holding those obnoxiously cheerful flowers is forever seared into my brain. So good.
David shifts across the little circle we've made in the backyard, arching his back a little and wincing.
I catch his eye and pat the bench next to myself. There's room and it's at least a little more supportive than the backless chair where he's sitting now.
He smiles and shakes his head, getting up. Mum watches him, and then looks at me with a Mum-look.
His back's felt tight all day today. Not anything to be worried about, he's assured me, but enough that he's uncomfortable.
"Well," Mum clears her throat, "am I allowed to talk about this Alistair character yet?"
Rory laughs, "Please do!"
I'd stopped her from fawning over him at the theater at least. Mum has a new crush.
I mean… I can see why. But I had asked her, politely, to not gush quite so loudly while he was within earshot. There was a reception after the show in the warehouse. Jack, who's been so supportive of the show supplied the food and drink… lots of coffee, lots of baked goods, fruit and cheese and wine and, thematically, some very nice Scotch, and loads of apple juice for me.
"Well… his legs," Mum cups a hand to her cheek, "he should just never wear pants. I couldn't look at anything else. I mean…" she smiles sweetly at me, "your performance, Matthew, but… but those legs. Legs for days. Thick and long… like, handsome tree trunks."
She continues to wax poetic about them, Amy egging her on, and the rest of us can't stop laughing.
I mean… she's right. Alistair's legs are impressive. There's no denying that fact.
I lean back, folding my hands over my stomach and I see Matt watching David, who is now pacing slowly, holding his lower back.
Matt is perceptive. I mean… far less so about anything in his day to day life. Socially, he's a bit weird actually. Awkward.
And… that's me saying that.
But he's very good at what he does. He's good with patients, and even more so with his big brother. Good at being able to read what's going on and when to push and when not to.
And I see him looking at David now with that eye.
Later, when Rory, Amy and Mum go inside to make tea, he asks David if he's doing PT while he's here for the next week and a half.
He sits down next to me, close, and I put my arm around him, "Yeah. It's just…" he makes a dismissive noise in the back of his throat and leans back, into me careful not to lean on my stomach his hand resting on it, and smiles when I feel a little kick that bumps against his palm.
I started feeling the baby move a week ago, it's was both scary and the most amazing feeling, then last night just before falling asleep the baby was the most active the baby's been since the first time I felt the little flutters of life.
David felt it for the first time last night and ever since his hand is practically attached to my stomach.
Matt nods, "Yeah, I know."
We have tea and dig into the box of leftover baked goods from the reception that Jack insisted Mum take with her. With the lack thankful of nausea from morning sickness and my new ravenous appetite these are, without a doubt, the best doughnut holes I've ever had in twenty-five years of living.
Clara falling asleep with a croissant in her hand and her head on Matt's chest is the official sign that it's time to call it a night.
David and I are the last to head out.
In the entryway, Mum pulls him into a hug, being careful of his back.
He hugs her.
I know that he's still not entirely accustomed to the Jackie Tyler level of motherly PDA… but he likes it. It just takes him by surprise every time still.
She hugs me, kissing my cheek, and presses something into my hand.
"What is this?"
It's a tape. And unlabeled one. One of her many VHS's.
"That…" she smiles, tucking her loose, frizzy hair behind her ears, "Rose, tonight… when I wasn't looking at Alistair's legs or… at Clara, because she's…"
"Right," I laugh, and glance at David, "Amazing."
"Yes, amazing," she says, tapping the VHS in my hands with a fingertip, "but… you.. you made me think so much of your dad tonight."
I look at her.
"He… well, he never wanted anyone to ever see this again," she laughs, "but… it needs to be seen by someone who will appreciate it. And I know you will. So…"
"Your dad acted. For a while. In his twenties."
"That, right there… is, as far as we understood, the only surviving copy of a very, very low budget film he was the, and I use the term loosely, star of."
I look at the tape, pulling it out of the cover.
I blink, "How have I never heard of this before?"
"It was his secret! He and I used to get a little drunk and watch this sometimes… I could never stop laughing. He hated it! Oh… he hated it. He's about your age in this. I just… it's a terrible movie, and he's pretty terrible in it," she reaches for my hand, squeezing, and takes David's in her other hand, "but he has a few moments. Now, I know what you're thinking, sweetheart, and I'm not suggesting that your acting was as terrible as his is…" she winks, "you make me think of his good moments."
When David and I get home, we take a shower in the hopes that the hot water will help with his back.
It does, a little, but he can't sleep. And as tired as I am neither can I.
Because he's uncomfortable and I hate that but also because I have the tape.
"You want to watch this with me?" I ask him, sitting on edge of the bed wrapped in a towel.
He adjusts his own towel, "You want me to watch it with you?"
I have watched all the home movies of Dad so many times.
But this? Is new. A discovery. Like finding a time capsule.
And as exciting as it is… it's a little-
We go to the living room and he lies down on the floor on his back and I put the tape on. I still have a VCR. I haven't used it in a while… and I realize as I'm pushing the tape in that all the things I use this VCR to watch are things that have to do with Dad. The Monty Python tapes. Our home movies. Now this.
All of Dad can be played on an old machine… old technology. Nothing new.
And it hurts.
"Hey," David says softly, and I look over my shoulder, crouched on my hands and knees as the title sequence music starts playing, sounding tinny and ridiculous, "Come here."
I grab a stack of pillows from the couch to prop my head up and go over, on my back next to him.
We lay there on the floor, in our towels, our hands tangled together resting on his stomach, and watch 89 minutes of quite possibly the worst movie either of us has ever seen.
The script is laugh out loud bad.
The cinematography is bleak and wobbly, the audio cuts out and is out of sync.
There's some convoluted love story with a very busty and largely unintelligible red-headed woman. It's vaguely noir… kind of.
And my Dad… my Dad at twenty-nine years old, is no Laurence Olivier.
But he does look, and sound, and move a lot like me.
And it's so…
Comforting isn't the right word.
I'm chuckling, with tears in my eyes that run down towards my ears, as Dad delivers a cringe worthy closing line, gazing dramatically into the middle distance. Fade to black.
Two minutes of credits.
I roll to my side and kiss David.
"That was truly awful," he smiles against my lips.
And we're still kissing when the audio changes abruptly, cutting from the horrible music over the credits to a voice in a quiet room, a voice that sounds like me but isn't me saying, with an accent, "Well. First of all, I want to apologize for that."
We both go completely still, and my eyes snap open.
We both sit up.
It's Dad. In the living room of the old house. Smiling crookedly into the lens of the camcorder. He's wearing a thick sweater, and I can see a little bit of silver chain around his neck. He grins sheepishly.
"Oh my god."
He scratches his blonde and silvery beard, "But really… I think I should also say that you have no one to blame but yourself. I can say this with certainty, because there will never be any situation, ever, where one person forces another person to watch The Family Legacy. Ever."
I laugh, and cover my mouth with my hand.
David reaches for my knee, holding onto me lightly.
"A cruel and unusual punishment if ever I heard of one," Dad smiles broadly, "So now, you're asking yourself, 'Pete… if you're recording this onto the only copy of your most humiliating episode, why not just tape over the entire thing and be done with it?'" he opens his wide, familiar hands, "To which I will reply… for whatever reason, The Family Legacy makes my Jacks laugh so hard that once, and I'm not making this up, once she completely lost control of her bladder. Everywhere. She thinks it's that funny. So… no. I could never destroy something that brings so much joy into that woman's life."
I look like him.
He's my Dad.
"And… I suspect that you might be Jackie… if you're watching this," he shakes his head, "I adore you. But you have very questionable taste."
David laughs next to me, rubbing my knee with his thumb.
"If you are not Jackie…" he blinks, wide blue eyes, "Christ I can't imagine why anyone else would sit all the way through that shite. Still… you must have thought it was something else. And… again, I apologize. If you are my daughter Rose," he smiles, creasing the skin around his eyes, folding his hands again, "Oh, my little Rosie, what you must think of me now."
I make a noise, a choked sob, and I can't move.
"Sometimes, a man does things he's not proud of, sweetheart. This film, if I can be so bold to call it that, is a shining example of that," he laughs, a warm sound that I feel in my bones and my lungs, the baby kicks and I realize my dad will never get to meet his grandchild. My heart clenches that I know, "Just remember that doing this awful thing made me enough money to buy a ticket to fly to New York, where I met your mother. Your beautiful naked mother. So…" he shrugs, "It was worth it. I think."
He reaches towards the camera, and the focus shifts, losing him but finding him again, "And Rosie? If it is you watching this. I'm not proud of this. But I am so very proud of you."
He nods, smiles, waves, and the video ends, going to a blue screen.
Just a blue screen.
"That's my dad," I say into the very quiet room, tears spill down my face, "That's my dad, David."
He's pulling me in. Against himself.
I go where he is.
His hand is steady against my head, holding me as I bury my face in his neck.
I quiet sobs wreak my body.
I hold onto him, onto David.
We're silent for a long time, until I feel him laughing under me.
"'Looks like the mayor,'" he's quoting the movie, quoting my dad in the movie, with a fairly passable accent and a painfully dramatic pause, "'has fallen from grace.'"
"Awful, awful, awful…" I lift my head and look at him, grinning.
"Pretty awful, yeah," he kisses me, "But worth it by his approximation."
"Mmm…" I settle in against him, "Whatever it takes, right?"
I feel him nod, his fingers touching the leather cord at the back of my neck, "Yeah," he kisses my forehead and I close my eyes, "Whatever it takes."