The Truth

by A Hopeful Voice [Reviews - 7]

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  • Teen
  • Swearing
  • Action/Adventure, Alternate Universe, Angst, Character Study, Drama, Het, Hurt/Comfort, Introspection, Missing Scene, Romance, Standalone

Author's Notes:
Again, slowly moving everything over here. This was written rather quickly, but very meticulously. I'm actually very proud of it. Nothing you recognize is mine, nor is the idea, as it is an oft travelled road for many writers. Hopefully this will be a bit different.

Originally, this was meant to be relatively short, only 1500 words or so. Obviously, it grew into something much larger. I hope you enjoy!

The Truth

She could have told him the truth, but she couldn’t bring herself to. So she did the easy thing; she lied.

It only happened once. She was so frightened after Krop Tor that all she could do was hang onto him for dear life. She wanted to squeeze her eyes shut and never leave his arms, for she loved him, even if she could never say it aloud. There wasn’t much she couldn’t do in this universe, not with the Doctor by her side, but using the L-word was an impossibility.

She would only leave him in the end. Death was inevitable, even if she promised forever.

Rose felt his two hearts quicken as she tightened her arms around his neck. His arms gripped her more securely, pulling her flush against his chest. If she could freeze time, she would want to live in this moment forever. This feeling was what being safe felt like; this was home. She had been so afraid. The Beast’s words echoed through her mind continuously, like a whisper. The Valiant Child, who will die in battle so very soon. What did that mean?

Before she realized what was happening, Rose blurted out, “I was so afraid, Doctor.”

“Me, too,” he murmured, thinking back on his last moments before leaping into the Pit. If you see Rose, tell her...oh, she knows. Surely she knew. She had to know. Right? If he ever lost her--when, he corrected, for her eventual death was unavoidable, even if she lived to a ripe old human age. In a way, the Beast was right. An entire lifetime to Rose was ‘so very soon’ to the Doctor. Just a blink, and she would be gone from him, forever.

He carefully lowered her to the ground from where he’d picked her up against him. Rose looked up at him, her heart slightly collapsing in her chest. This was where he came up with some excuse to fix the TARDIS, giving her the cue to leave. The victory hugs grew more victorious, but the distance afterwards grew as well. She tried not to reveal the sadness she felt as she took a step back. His hand took hold of her wrist, keeping her from turning away. Gently, his other hand rose to cup her cheek, lightly caressing her cheekbone with his thumb. The look in his eyes was intense, like he was memorizing every cell of her face. Rose searched his eyes for an explanation, an answer, and that which she received was surprising. He looked scared.

And then, before she knew what was happening, his head ducked down to be infinitesimally close to hers, hesitating for only the briefest of seconds before pressing his lips to hers.

Rose’s stomach fluttered, only in her dreams could this have ever been achieved. She wanted to pinch herself. One of her hands reached up to touch his elbow, the other shifted so that she was tangling her fingers with his. After seconds, but what felt like hours, the Doctor pulled away and searched Rose’s eyes for permission, since he didn’t ask before.

What he found was that he didn’t need to.

She was only able to give him the faintest hint of a smile before he kissed her again, this time moving his lips more rapidly against hers. He took advantage of her slightly parted lips, using his tongue--oh, that clever tongue--to coax her mouth open. At first, he was tentative, worried he’d overstepped some boundary, but his fears were assuaged when her own tongue pressed against his.

Rose took one hand and slid her fingers through that gorgeous hair like she’d wanted to ever since he regenerated. The kiss quickly grew more heated and firm, their hands wandering. When Rose had to pull away for air--damn respiratory bypass--he pressed gentle kisses to her forehead, her cheekbones, her jaw, just below her jaw, beneath her ear...

Unable to control herself, Rose moaned. As much as she didn’t want him to stop, she used one hand to lift his head up so she could kiss him again. God, she would never get tired of kissing him. Nine hundred plus years of experience definitely showed in the way he used his lips and tongue and teeth--oh, God.

One of his hands slid down to her lower back, dipping to rest lightly on her bum. Her nails scratched against the back of his head, he used the same hand to slide down to the back of her thigh, pulling that leg up to his hips. Lifting her up off the ground, the Doctor quickly turned to set her down on the console. Rose grew breathless so easily, she was already having to stop and breathe again. A moan escaped her as he dropped his mouth to her neck and pressed his hips against hers.

Tightening her arms wrapped around him, Rose bit down on her lip to keep from speaking something she might regret. One of his hands drifted over her breast before sliding down to her waist. Returning his mouth to hers to kiss her thoroughly, the Doctor slipped one hand under her shirt and jacket, ghosting his nimble fingers over her skin, raising chills, before covering one cup of her bra with the palm of his hand.

Rose pulled her lips from his, resting her forehead against his and breathing heavily. Staring at his lips--why was he always so perfect?--she mumbled, “Not ‘ere.”

Words just as thick, the Doctor replied, “Bedroom.”

He wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close to him as she held onto his hips with her legs. He continued the snogging, slipping the fingers of one hand just barely underneath her shirt so he could keep touching some of her skin. Because, Rassilon, once he had allowed himself to feel her skin, he never wanted to feel anything else ever again.

The TARDIS, feeling cooperative, relocated Rose’s bedroom door to just outside the console room. The Doctor fumbled with the doorknob briefly, before managing to swing the door open and then kick it shut behind them. Careful to never let his lips leave hers, the Doctor set her down on the bed and started tugging off her jacket.

Rose leaned down to take a breath, then smiled up at him. Surely this had to be a dream. What had she ever done to deserve such a perfect man to want her in this way?

Just like he was superior in every other way, the Doctor was the best lover Rose had ever had. When they both laid still with their eyes closed, utterly spent, Rose felt herself drifting off to sleep, more content than she had been in a long time. Even with the magnificence of the universe just outside her door, she had never seen anything so wonderful as the Doctor.

Maybe it was her imagination, but just before falling asleep, Rose could swear she heard the Doctor whisper, “I’ll never let you go.”

In the morning, she woke up to an empty bed. If it weren’t for the fact that she was naked and slightly sore, she would have thought nothing had happened. Two damn years of increasing sexual tension, and she wasn’t even given the opportunity to wake up with him there.

Did he regret it?

They never talked about it. Whether she had done something wrong or he thought her strange or he blamed himself, the Doctor would never speak to Rose about what she considered to be one of the best nights of her life. She loved him, damn it. Things continued on as normal as it had ever been, and no matter how many times Rose dropped hints about wanting to discuss it, nothing was said.

She didn’t know that it was because he was afraid.

***


It made her family unhappy, but Rose insisted on waiting five and a half hours after his image faded. She should have known that it would be pointless, useless. She was trapped in Pete’s World, never to see him again. It had taken every ounce of courage she could find within herself to tell him how she felt, and she hadn’t even been able to hear it back. Why was the universe so cruel?

That was retribution for her lie; it had to be.

There’s five of us now. Mum, Dad, Mickey...and the baby.

She was so close to telling him, but knew that losing her was enough for him. Losing a child would have been infinitely worse. So she kept her mouth shut, laughing it off and saying that the baby was Jackie’s. It was more believable to be hers anyway, and wouldn’t hurt him in the long run. After all, she was fourteen weeks along and didn’t look pregnant at all. What he didn’t know couldn’t torture him. It hurt her, but she could handle it. At least, she hoped so.

Staring out the window of Pete’s truck, she chewed on the inside of her cheek, a hand laying subconsciously on her stomach. How the hell was she supposed to raise a child--his child--on her own? She didn’t even know if she could survive the pregnancy, much less know how long it would take to grow inside of her. Rose Tyler was already an anomaly for having never existed in this universe before; what was one more reason to hide away forever?

Tears pricked at her eyes. Her proper goodbye had been complete rubbish. She was carrying the Doctor’s child, and he would never know. What was she supposed to do now? Watching the landscape pass by, Rose wondered what he would have done if he knew the truth. Would he have cared or would he be ashamed that he had ever shagged a stupid ape, impregnating her with his superior sperm? Would he tear the universes apart to try and find her, or would he shrug it off and consider it a dodged bullet? At least he would never have to pay child support.

Rose knew what he was going to say back on the beach, she just knew. He had been so close to saying it so many times. And now he would never have the chance. He would never know he was a father again, she would never know what it was like to have him tell her those words. An incomplete sentence became her worst fear.

Eventually, Rose drifted into a fitful sleep, alternating between dreaming of nothing and dreaming of him.

***


Rose walked briskly, keeping her head down so that she was only looking at her feet on the pavement. It would do no good for those damn paparazzi to see her completely unmade as she ran a personal errand. Normally, she would just be on her way to visit Pete at work, like she had for the entire month she had been stuck here, but she had felt sick the last several days. Finally, Rose drew up the courage to look at a calendar, and her stomach plummeted.

Careful to keep attention away from her, Rose bought what she needed and ran back to her flat. She anxiously paced the floor and specifically did not look at the little stick. What if her suspicions were correct? How could she do this on her own? It was just one time. The chances of them even being biologically compatible were slim to none. She bit down on her lip, thinking that the odds of her getting--she couldn’t even say the word--after just one night were impossible.

Finally, Rose grew frustrated with herself and looked at the test.

She did it again the next day.

And the next.

And the next.

After four tests, Rose walked into Torchwood and headed straight for a physician. Unfortunately, the man on duty was the unbearable Dr. Owen Harper. She hardly had to say a word before he reached for her arm to take a blood sample. The time passed, and he blandly announced, “Congratulations, Ms. Tyler. You’re pregnant.”

Under any other circumstances, she would have been overjoyed. To make a life with a man she loved so much...but he was gone and she would never see him again. Only in her dreams when she imagined he was calling her name. Her voice shaking and tears threatening to fall, she asked, “How long?”

“I’d say about six weeks.”

Yes, the timelines matched up, not that it could have been anyone else’s. She buried her face in her hands, shoulder shaking as she finally succumbed to the tears. Dr. Harper put an awkward hand on her back briefly before removing it like she’d shocked him. “Shit,” Rose mumbled, wiping tears from her eyes. “I’m sorry.”

Dr. Harper walked to the counter and grabbed a couple pamphlets out of a file organizer, handing them to her along with a tissue. Rose wiped up her face and blew her nose before accepting the papers. “These will give you basic guidelines, since I’m assuming you’ve never been pregnant before. There’s also one about how to break the news to the father.” That just made Rose cry harder. He quickly backtracked, “That is, if he’s still in the picture.”

“No,” Rose sniffed, “he’s gone.” After declining to make another appointment for a checkup later in the week, Rose left the office and considered going to see Pete. No, she didn’t want to see a reminder of how she was in a parallel universe. She walked outside and stared at the ground so she wouldn’t have to see the zeppelins.

What was she going to do? Was she going to keep it? The thought of terminating the pregnancy entertained her for only a second; this was her last connection to the Doctor, her own child. How could she even think about getting rid of it?

Before she realized what happened, Rose threw the pamphlets into a rubbish bin and started making the trek to the Tyler home. It was not too far from Torchwood, if a bit isolated. She managed to make it there without getting completely drenched in the drizzle that had begun to pick up speed and intensity.

Jackie must have seen her walking up the drive, because she opened the door as soon as Rose stepped in front of the house. “What’s the matter, sweetheart?” she asked, a towel in hand to keep Rose dry or to keep the house dry (which one, Rose was not entirely sure).

“Mum,” Rose wailed softly before allowing her mother to wrap her arms around her and hold her tight. Jackie probably just thought she had had another bad day remembering, but God this was so much worse.

Jackie started leading her daughter towards the kitchen. “Come on, love, I’ll make you a cuppa.” Rose shook her head adamantly. “Well, then why don’t you go up to your room and I’ll bring it to you.”

She wasn’t really sure how she got there, but Rose somehow ended up in her room, curled up against the pillows and holding her stomach like she had to protect it. There was a quiet knock at the door before her mother walked in, holding two mugs of tea.

Rose held the warm cup in her hands, the words caught in her throat. No matter how hard she tried, nothing could make them come out. Her stomach clenched and she instantly wondered if something was wrong with her. No, she calmed herself down, it was just nerves. The tears started to fall again, making her shake so hard that her mother took the cup out of her hands so it wouldn’t spill onto the duvet.

“Rose,” her mum said gently, trying to convey that she could be there for her daughter if only she knew what was wrong.

“Mum,” Rose said, finally meeting her mum’s eyes, “I’m pregnant.”

Shock registered on Jackie’s face before her eyes dropped to Rose’s stomach. “Is it...”

“The Doctor’s, yeah.”

Jackie was quiet. “Well, at least the two of you finally did it.” Rose looked horrified and Jackie tried to smile. “Sweetheart, the tension was thick enough that you would need a chainsaw to slice through it. I was startin’ to think he was too alien to get it up. I was planning on locking the two of you in a cupboard the next time...” She trailed off, very aware that her words were hurting her daughter. “Oh, Rose, I’m sorry.”

Rose sniffed and wiped her nose on the sleeve of her jumper. “It was only once. I think he...we never talked about it.”

“Does he know?” She shook her head. “How far along?”

Chewing on the inside of her cheek where she had bitten it earlier, Rose answered, “Six weeks. I’ve suspected for a few days, took some tests, finally went to a Torchwood doctor, just in case. I can’t go to a normal doctor, Mum. I don’t...I don’t know if this is gonna be a normal baby or how long it’s gonna take, if it’ll have one ‘eart or two, or if--”

“Rose,” Jackie pressed, grabbing her daughter’s hand, “slow down.”

Looking at her mother through the tears, Rose asked, “How am I s’posed to do this alone, Mum?”

Jackie looked sad as she said, “You aren’t alone, sweetheart. This isn’t gonna be like when your dad died and all I had was you. You’ve got me, Pete, and Mickey. We’ll all get through this together, okay?”

Rose nodded, the minute movements seeming significantly smaller with her set jaw and blurred eyes. She bit down on her lower lip. “I really miss ‘im, Mum.”

This was going to be difficult, Jackie knew as she wrapped her arms around her daughter. “I know you do, sweetheart. I know.”

***


Five months into the pregnancy, Rose was finally looking to be about seventeen weeks along. She didn’t want to know if it was a boy or girl, but the first time she heard its double heartbeat, she was moved to tears. The last of the Time Lords was the last no more. More questions were opened up to her. Would the baby regenerate? How fast would it grow? How smart would it be? And how long would she be pregnant?

Dr. Owen Harper was her new doctor, as Torchwood was the only place she could go with an alien fetus. It made her sick to think back of the other universe’s Torchwood. If it’s alien, it’s ours. What would they do to her baby if they knew about it? Even the Torchwood in Pete’s World, what if they grew greedy?

She loved this child. She would die before she would let them have it.

How the hell was she supposed to raise a bloody Time Lord on her own?

Any time she went out for coffee (because that’s what the baby wanted apparently), people would look down at her left hand, expecting to see a ring if she was by herself. Sometimes, people would ask her about the baby outright. She was very vague about the father, often letting them assume he was dead. It was a lot easier than trying to explain that he was in another dimension.

The coffee affected her baby strongly. It would kick and punch at her until she rubbed her stomach enough to make it calm down. Just her hand on her stomach was able to keep the baby content. She had made it a habit to keep one of her hands there, like she was protecting it from something. When she was alone, Rose would sometimes sing to herself, hoping that her baby would know that she loved it.

Part of her wished that she knew Gallifreyan lullabies to sing.

Jackie and Pete were incredibly supportive, buying anything a baby could possibly need. Mickey was already gearing up to become a stand-in father figure, to take over on nights she would be too tired to function. Secretly, Rose wished she could run away and be alone with her baby. If its father couldn’t be here with her, she wanted to do this on her own.

But she hadn’t the heart to tell them no, and knew that practicality would win out in the end. If the baby was anything like its father, it would be a handful and then some. It hurt her every day to think that this baby would grow up fatherless, that she would always be the mother of a child who was a product of a one night stand, even if it was really so much more than that.

Rose missed the Doctor so much.

The strangest part of the entire ordeal was the fact that she was going to be a mother. She was only twenty-one! That seemed much too young to be changing nappies and breastfeeding. When she was twenty-six, she would be taking her child to primary school. Of course, being a mother in of itself was surreal. She had another life growing inside her. A life that would depend on her for everything. It was overwhelming.

She tried to think of names, but not even knowing when the baby was due made the task difficult. She could give birth tomorrow or in a year. The Doctor had never told her anything about Gallifreyan pregnancies. She was fumbling around in the dark for answers that weren’t there.

Rose desperately wished that the Doctor was there, if only to give her the information she needed.

***

She looked through the racks of tiny baby clothes, then into her buggy full of nappies and bottles and formula. Rose was trying to get everything in various sizes and colors, not knowing how big Time Lord babies were at first, or the gender of her child. Jackie was at the store somewhere, probably picking out groceries that she could rely on her servants to get. Something about having servants didn’t sit right with Rose or Jackie, so the latter often did the household chores for herself.

Looking between a green onesie and a yellow jumper, Rose wondered what her baby would look better in. Why was making decisions so hard? God, she didn’t even really want this child. She wasn’t supposed to get pregnant after one night of sex and definitely not with an alien!

How the hell was she supposed to raise an alien child without the alien who made this happen? It was his fault. Surely his ‘superior biology’ would have been able to keep her from getting pregnant. She hated him sometimes.

But deep down, in the middle of her heart, Rose couldn’t be angry with the Doctor. She knew that it took two to tango, that this child was half her fault, too. Part of her hated that she considered the baby to be a fault, but she couldn’t help it. She never had the urge to be a mum, never wanted to be locked down.

Maybe it was the hormones, or maybe it was her anger with herself and the Doctor, but Rose broke down in the middle of the shop between the racks of baby clothes. Sinking to her knees, Rose pressed her hands against her bulging stomach and cried. What the hell was wrong with her? She should be glad about this. Babies were miracles. So why didn’t this baby seem to be one?

Jackie found Rose after a few minutes, sighing as she sunk down to her daughter’s level. “Rose,” she said calmly, “you can’t keep doing this, sweetheart. ‘s not good for you or the baby.”

“I’m just sick of bein’ pregnant, Mum! How long is it gonna take for this bloody thing to get out of me? It’s been eight months and I only look half that size!”

“There’s no way for us to know, so there’s no reason for you to be angry with it,” Jackie said, a little more snippy than she intended.

Rose scoffed. “Ugh, I just hate it. I want it gone so I can have my old life back. I’m not ready to be a mum, I don’t want to be. I just want to be free and young and not have to worry about anythin’.”

Jackie frowned, knowing that her daughter’s words were not really true. Blimey, if she had to carry a baby for eight months and only know that maybe half the time had passed, she would be upset too. But that was still no excuse to blame the baby. “Rose, you can’t blame your child. It’s not its fault that you’re stuck ‘ere in this universe. That daft alien would do anythin’ to get you back if he could.”

While she knew her mother spoke the truth, it was hard for Rose to hear and even harder for her to accept. Quietly, she said, “I want him to be here, Mum.”

Rubbing Rose’s back, Jackie silently agreed.

***


A year after being stranded in Pete’s World, Rose felt it: a twinge of pain where she would normally have menstrual cramps. Living with her mum and dad because she could no longer get around easily by herself, Rose called out for help, knowing that someone had to hear her.

Pete came running, shouting, “Jacks! Mickey! It’s time!”

Thirteen months of pregnancy. Thirteen bloody months.

The contractions were already incredibly close together, she felt like someone was repeatedly stabbing her ovaries and twisting the knife. They helped her into the car, and Pete sped off towards Torchwood. Mickey called Owen, barking orders for him to be there as soon as humanly possible. The pain was hellish, Rose wished the Doctor was there to say something stupid to take her mind from it. Of course, if he were there, they probably wouldn’t be in this state of frenzy.

She looked like she had swallowed a planet. Thank God it was time for the baby to get out of her.

Rose screamed as a particularly painful contraction waved through her. They hastened to take her to Torchwood’s infirmary, where Owen and Tosh, a scientist who had some experience with medical procedure, were waiting.

It seemed to take forever. They weren’t sure if using any medication would harm the baby, so she had to give birth naturally, without any painkillers. “I hate that bloody alien!” Rose screamed, squeezing her eyes shut and gripping her mother’s hand with striking ferocity.

But then it was over. At the sound of the baby’s first cry, the pain was gone, and Rose opened her eyes to see Owen holding the baby. Her baby. A tired smile broke on her face. She struggled to keep her eyes open, but still heard Owen say, “It’s a boy, Rose.”

A smile still on her face, she promptly fell asleep.

***


When she awoke, Rose was alone in her room. Panicking, she started thrashing about before Tosh rushed in to calm her down and make sure she was still hooked up to the machines properly. “We need to monitor your heart rate and keep you hydrated. Your son wiped out a lot of your fluids,” she explained.

The mention of her son made Rose smile again. “Where is he?” she asked weakly. Tosh looked to the door, where Jackie was walking in with Rose’s son, wrapped in light blue blankets. “Can I?” Rose asked, holding out her arms for her baby.

Jackie nodded. “Of course, sweetheart. He is yours.”

That made Rose’s smile grow even more. Jackie carefully placed the baby in Rose’s arms, helping her weak arms draw him close to her chest. The baby, who had been sleeping, opened his eyes to look up at Rose. Moved, Rose felt tears come to her own eyes. It was like seeing him again.

While she was asleep, they had washed her son and kept him warm. Holding him in her arms for the first time, Rose took some time to memorize every single aspect of his little face. He was so tiny. He had his father’s eyes and brown hair, already looking like it would take some work to keep tidy. His facial structure was hers, though, so was his nose.

“What are you gonna call ‘im?” her mother asked, looking down on her grandson with a smile.

Rose looked at her son’s face, thinking about what a good name for him would be. It had to be something special, but fitting; simple, but different. She had to choose wisely. What would the Doctor want? Honestly, she didn’t know. They had never really discussed children unless they were saving one, and that one time where he mentioned that he had been a father once. She tried not to feel hurt that he was a father again and didn’t know.

There was one name that she had heard a few times while traveling with him. First, when they were being chased by a scared little boy, and second, when the Doctor used the name as an alias when they met Queen Victoria. Rose smiled. “James,” she said. “But I’m gonna call ‘im Jamie.”

“Jamie,” Jackie said, trying it out. The name seemed to fit the baby in her daughter’s arms. “Jamie it is.”

Rose looked at her mother and smiled, but then moment was broken when she felt her baby--Jamie--nudging at her chest with his head. She looked down to see his mouth gaping open around her covered breast.

Jackie laughed. “Hungry little boy,” she said. “I’ll leave you two alone.”

As Rose looked down at her son, she was filled a sense of pride and an aching sadness. She tugged down the neck of the hospital gown they must have changed her into and shifted Jamie’s position so that he was facing her head on. It took a little bit of maneuvering, but he latched on to her nipple and Rose felt her heart swell.

Tears came to her eyes as she watched her baby boy nurse, so exhilarated by his very existence and the fact that he was finally out of her body and in her arms. The only thing that could make this moment better was the presence of his father. Thinking of the Doctor made Rose ache with longing. If he could see his son, she knew that he would tear the walls of the universe apart to get to him.

Rose rested her eyes for a few minutes, then realized that she didn’t want to miss a moment of this precious little boy’s life, especially if he would only grow up with one parent. Jamie would never have to struggle like she and her mother did. He would be so loved and cared for and would have everything he ever needed.

There was a slight tingle on the edge of her mind, catching Rose’s attention. It felt like the nudges she sometimes got from the TARDIS. Well, seeing as her son did have two hearts, it shouldn’t surprise her that he was slightly telepathic. She wondered if he would feel empty because she wasn’t telepathic; no one in this universe was.

He stopped nursing and Rose held him to her chest, kissing the top of his head lightly. She loved Jamie so much that it almost hurt. If only the Doctor were here to complete their little family.

***

Exhausted, Rose crouched on the floor, covering her ears with her hands. She felt frantic and on edge; he wouldn’t stop screaming, no matter what she did. Rose screamed in frustration, only for a knock on her bedroom door to follow. Mickey stuck his head in. “Anythin’ I can do to help?”

Rose could almost kiss him, she was so glad. “He won’t stop bloody crying! I’ve tried everythin’ but he just won’t stop!”

Mickey approached the crib and put his arms in toward the screaming baby. “Don’ worry, little man. Uncle Mickey’s got you.” Almost immediately, Jamie stopped crying and started giggling.

Frustrated and suddenly angry, Rose pulled at her hair and crossed her arms. “Why the hell won’t he do that for me? He hates me, I know it!” she exclaimed. “He knows I’m a rubbish mum and probably just wishes his dad were ‘ere and I can’t do nothin’ about it! God, this is so fuckin’ hard, I just wish this had never happened!” She broke down into tears, and Mickey frowned, bouncing Jamie on his hip.

Cautiously, Mickey took a step toward Rose and said, “Why don’t you go to sleep somewhere else. I’ll take care of this little guy.”

For a minute, he thought Rose was going to head to the door, but she froze in place and sank to the floor. Shuddering, Rose sobbed, “I’m so bad at this. I’m the worst mum in the universe. I just don’t even like him!”

“You’re just sayin’ that,” Mickey said patiently. “You’re tired. Go get some sleep. I got this.” He used a free hand to pull Rose to her feet and push her toward the door. “We’ll be fine here. You’ll feel better in the mornin’.”

Nodding blankly, Rose stepped from the room, feeling regret and guilt for not being able to calm her child.

***


Jamie seemed too intelligent for his age, even if his body grew at the same pace as a human’s. It was unnerving to her, when he spoke his first word (“dinosaur”) at six months. While the pregnancy had taken longer, his physical growth and appearance was to be expected, even if he was trying to speak with her much sooner than human babies should.

The night before his first birthday, Rose pulled her son into bed with her, tickling his stomach just to hear his laugh. They had watched Tarzan earlier in the evening (his father’s passion for Disney movies definitely carried over into their son--that always made her feel something indescribable, that she and the Doctor had a son), Rose hoping that Jamie would someday understand that he was different like Tarzan but was still very much loved. How fitting that when she first met his father, Rose’s species was considered to be made up of “stupid apes.”

Rose smiled at her son as he did his own rendition of “Trashin’ the Camp.” When he looked like he was waiting for her to join in, Rose took his small hand in hers and held it up to her other hand. His hand looked minuscule compared to hers. Jamie stared at their fingers for a few seconds before lunging forward to press his hands to her chest. She felt him search for her heartbeat. Someday, she would have to explain to him why she only had one heartbeat and why he had two, and how he could never tell anyone.

“Are you my Mummy?” he asked suddenly.

Rose shivered and had to collect herself before she could answer, “Yes, Jamie. I am your Mummy.”

“Mummy,” he said quietly. His eloquence always took her by surprise, but she loved that he was able to communicate with her easily. “I love you.”

“Oh, my precious boy,” she grinned, sweeping him into her arms and holding him firmly against her chest. “I love you, too.”

***

Rose’s stomach was in knots. She searched the sea of children running from the school for messy brown hair. Beginning to panic when she didn’t see him, Rose called out, “Jamie!”

“I’m right here,” a small voice said from behind her.

Rose jumped and turned, her heart in her throat. She knew that she should relax, everything was fine. She was just so afraid that someone would find out how special he was now that he was in school. “Oh, Jamie,” she sighed, kneeling and pulling him to her chest. “You scared me.”

“Why?” he asked, his voice full of innocence. He didn’t yet understand why she was so protective of him. Thankfully, he hadn’t started to ask questions yet. Jamie didn’t give her an opportunity to answer his question before he had taken her hand and was bounding over to the car. “I got a book from the library today. They seemed surprised that I wanted a book that was on the fourth years’ level, but they gave it to me anyway. It’s about outer space.”

Smiling, Rose unlocked the car with her key fob, helping him climb up into the backseat. Of course he would have an interest in the stars. When she backed out of the spot and waited in the long line of parents waiting to leave the car park, she asked, “So how was your first day of school, sweetheart?”

He met her eyes in the mirror and grinned. “Fantastic! I made friends with everyone in my class and my teacher is so nice. Her name is Miss Oswald. She read two books to us at story time, even though she said she would only read one.” His mind was racing a thousand miles a minute as he spoke, already jumping onto the next topic. “Are we going to Grandmum and Granddad’s tonight? Is Uncle Mickey gonna be there? Can we have pizza?”

Rose laughed. “Yes, probably, and probably not. I think Granddad was gonna cook out. If you ask nicely, maybe he’ll let you help.”

“Are we going there now?”

“Yeah. ‘s that okay?”

“Sure!”

Rose flipped on the radio, listening to one of the Disney soundtracks she had in the car. Jamie sang along to The Lion King, and Rose grinned as she remembered the time his father had quoted that film to the Sycorax. He did Timon and Pumbaa’s dramatic voices and just at the end of “Hakuna Matata” did Rose pull into the drive of her parents’ home. Every time she took the front entrance, she was reminded of that terrible day six years earlier.

Jamie was out of the car before she took the key out of the ignition, bounding up the steps to bang on the door with a strong fist. The door opened almost immediately and Pete scooped Jamie up into his arms, ruffling his hair. Rose rolled her eyes as she walked up the steps. “You don’t need to make it messier than it already is.”

“Hm,” said Jackie from inside, “I don’t seem to recall you minding it this messy before!”

Rose blushed as she knew that they weren’t talking about Jamie anymore. Stepping inside, Rose kicked off her trainers and looked in on the sitting room, where Jamie was playing with Rose’s four year old brother, Tony. Knowing he would be distracted for some time, she walked through the halls and into Pete’s study.

Torchwood files were open on the desk, as was a silver object. Recognizing it, Rose picked it up, feeling the metal weight resting on her fingers. “We’re not sure what that is,” Pete said from the doorway.

Rose smiled, stroking her fingers gently along the ridges. A tinkling sound was produced immediately, filling her with warmth and memories of the day she almost died in 2012 Utah. “It’s a musical instrument. I saw one o’ these a long time ago. Back when I was with my first Doctor.”

“At least it’s not a weapon,” Pete said, walking around his desk to sit in the leather chair. Swiveling slightly, he watched her set the instrument down and look over the papers on his desk.

Pointing at a word on one page, she said, “You spelled that wrong. And a better translation would be ‘clever boy and remember.’”

Pete nodded, still watching her. “The offer still stands.”

“Working for Torchwood?” Rose asked. “No thanks.”

“Now that Jamie’s in school, what are you going to do all day?”

She shrugged. “I’ll find somethin’ to do.”

“Rose,” Pete said, “we could use someone like you. You speak almost every language we’ve come across and know so much more than us. You knew that was a musical instrument and I’ve been thinking it’s a blunt object used to bash someone over the head with.”

With a sigh, Rose said, “If it’s alien, it’s ours.”

“You still think that? Damn it, Rose, we’re a different operation. This isn’t your universe. We’re different, better than them.”

“I said no.”

Resigned, Pete knew that no matter how hard he tried, she would never want to work for him. Not after what Torchwood did to her. He couldn’t blame her. He let a few moments pass with her skimming over documents before saying, “Have you told your mother?”

That caught her attention. Rose’s eyes flicked up to meet his. “How d’you--”

Pete rolled his eyes. “I’m the bloody director of Torchwood, Rose. Something of this magnitude was bound to show up in my memo box eventually.”

“How long have you known?”

“A couple of weeks. When are you going to tell her?”

“What am I supposed to say?” Rose asked, exasperated. She ran a hand through her hair and exclaimed, “How am I s’posed to tell her that--”

“Mummy!” Jamie’s voice called from the hallway. “I made a skyscraper!”

The conversation was over. Rose stepped out of the study and put on the special smile she reserved for her son. She clapped and applauded, gasping in horror as Tony grabbed a plastic dinosaur and made the skyscraper collapse. For a brief moment, Rose was worried that Jamie would be upset, but he merely squealed in delight that his creation was worthy of a monster’s attention and destructive abilities.

Yeah, he sure as hell didn’t get his speech from her.

When dinnertime finally rolled around, Rose led her brother and son into the dining room, where Jackie was placing plates with buns at each seat. The hamburger meat was stacked on a plate in the middle of the table, still steaming with heat. Rose helped Tony climb into his chair next to their mother’s seat, then took her own seat across from Mickey.

When Jackie finally sat down with a tray of chips fresh from the oven, they passed around the plate of meat and condiments and made their own burgers. They ate in relative silence, with Jamie telling everyone about his first day of school in vivid detail. Just after finishing an explanation of his recess adventure, he plainly asked, “Uncle Mickey, are you my father?”

Rose choked. Mickey paled. Pete laughed, and Jackie looked like she was about to fall out of her chair. Once Rose stopped coughing, she turned to her son and asked, “Jamie, what makes you ask that?”

He shrugged. “Miss Oswald was telling us to draw a picture of our family, and I just drew me and you. Melody asked where my daddy was and I said I didn’t have one. She said everybody has one at some point. I thought about it, and the only person I could think of was Uncle Mickey.”

Rose stared at him, afraid of what she would have to say. Fortunately for her, Mickey regained his wits before her and said, “Nah, sorry, Jamie. I’m just your uncle.” Rose could tell he was thinking back to a time in their lives when it was very possible that he could have been Jamie’s father.

“So who is my father?”

For a second time that day, Rose’s stomach tangled up into knots. What would she say? “He’s gone,” she said quickly, looking back down to her plate of chips.

“Where is he?”

“Um,” she stuttered, trying to think of an excuse. “He’s, uh, away. ‘e’s a scientist, studying endangered species in, um, the rainforest.” Not a terrible lie.

Jamie looked completely innocent, and it wasn’t his fault that he was tearing at her heart as he asked, “When is he coming back?”

Rose tried to blink away the tears that formed in her eyes but it was no use. She was going to cry and didn’t want to lose it at the dinner table. Blinking rapidly, she forced out, “I don’t know. Excuse me.” Then she stood up and rushed from the room.

Stopping just in the hallway to calm herself, she overheard her mother speaking softly to Jamie. “Sweetheart, please don’t ask questions like that. It makes your mummy very upset. She loves your father very much and misses him more than anything. She doesn’t like talking about him because it makes her sad.”

Another wave of tears hit her, and Rose sprinted up the stairs to the bedroom she used when staying with her parents. For the first time in a very long time, Rose let herself cry. She clawed at her hair, pressed the heels of her hands to her temples. The only air she could take in is made up of quick, shallow breaths, and her heart was racing. She didn’t care if she was being loud, she was upset, and it wasn’t her son’s fault.

She should have known all along that one day her son would start asking questions. She had just hoped it wouldn’t be so soon. After a very long time, her door opened just a crack and a tiny head poked through.

“Mummy?” came a small voice, making her squeeze her eyes shut for a few seconds before sitting up.

“Yes, baby?”

Jamie climbed up onto her bed and sat down next to her. “I’m sorry for making you sad, Mummy. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.”

Rose smiled and brushed away the tears that sat her on son’s cheeks. “It isn’t your fault, Jamie. I just haven’t talked about him in a long time and it makes me sad to think about him because I miss him very, very much.”

Jamie shifted his eyes down and to the side, his thinking face. That was a trait he had gotten from her; his father was much more manic and straightforward. “Do you love him more than me?”

That broke Rose’s heart. Fresh tears came to her eyes as she shook her head. “Of course not, sweetheart. I love you so much more than anything else in the world. Just because I love him doesn’t mean I can’t love you, too.”

He still looked nervous. “Does he love me?”

“Yes,” Rose lied, although it wasn’t untrue either. If the Doctor knew about his son, he would love Jamie with both his hearts and then some. But he didn’t and never would. Maybe one day Rose would tell Jamie the truth, and let him help her through each day. But for now, she would keep him in the dark and keep him safe. “Tell you what,” she said, “you can ask me any questions you want, and I’ll answer them the best that I can.”

“Even if it makes you sad?” Rose nodded, and Jamie made his thinking face again. “What’s his name?”

That gave Rose pause. She didn’t know herself. Would she give him a fake name or the one that he chose? After a few seconds of consideration, she said, “John. John Smith. His parents weren’t very creative.”

“Do you like them?”

Rose smiled sadly. “They died before I met him.” Jamie looked a little better, but still anxious. He smiled to himself, and Rose longed to keep seeing that happy face.

“Did he hold your hand when I was born?”

That stung, but Rose had given him a promise that she intended to keep. She shook her head. “He was already working abroad.”

Jamie nodded thoughtfully. “What does he do?”

Rose smiled. “Wonderful things,” she answered. “He saves people’s lives. Entire civilizations could be on the brink of ruin and he just sweeps in and saves the day.”

“Like a superhero?”

She laughed. “Yeah.” Already, she could see the pride growing in his hearts. The following day at school, he would probably tell all of his friends how his daddy was a superhero.

Jamie looked at the duvet for several seconds before looking up at her again. “Does he still love you?”

That threw Rose. Did he still love her? Had he moved on to someone else? Surely he wasn’t traveling alone after all these years, but maybe he had already replaced her as...well, what was she to him? Not girlfriend, certainly not wife, but maybe more than just a best friend... This time, Rose figured she could afford to be honest. “I don’t know, sweetheart. I haven’t seen him in a very long time, and people change.” (Jamie didn’t know the half of it.) “I don’t know.”

“I bet he does,” Jamie said, curling up against his mother.

In the softest of murmurs, Rose added, “I hope so.”

***


The first thing Rose decided about John Hart was that she didn’t trust him. His smiles were too easy, his laugh sounded forced. How he managed to rise to the top of Torchwood in only a few months baffled her. Oh, he was kind, yes, but too flirty and sickeningly sweet. He gave her a stomachache.

She accompanied Jamie to his annual checkup, only to find Captain Hart in Owen’s office. When she and Jamie walked in, Hart said, “Hello, Rosie.”

Grimacing, Rose said, “Please don’t call me that.”

Owen sensed her discomfort and started speaking with Jamie, intent on subtly implying for Hart to leave the room. “Happy belated birthday, Jamie,” Owen said. “Fourteen years old. You’re practically a man.”

“Oi!” interjected Rose, eyeing Hart nervously. Why wasn’t he leaving? She knew Jamie wouldn’t want her there for the entire appointment, but she wasn’t leaving until Hart did.

Out of nowhere, Hart picked Jamie’s file up off the counter and flipped through it. Owen and Rose both moved to take it from him, but he turned away from their outstretched hands. “Two hearts?” he asked, eyebrows shooting toward the ceiling. “My, that’s something. Makes you almost…valuable.”

Rose stiffened. “Heart defect. He was born with it.”

Captain Hart kept reading. “Near perfect IQ, amazing healing abilities. How old were you when you had him, Rosie?”

Bristling, Rose spoke through gritted teeth. “Twenty-one.”

“Funny,” he said. “You don’t look a day over twenty.”

Suddenly, Rose barked, “Leave now. You’re interrupting my son’s appointment.”

Hart grinned and bowed his head. “While Jamie is with Dr. Harper, I’d be honored if you would get coffee with me, Rosie.”

She looked to Owen for help. Rose could tell by the look on his face that he didn’t like Captain Hart either. “I don’t--”

“I insist.”

Rose stared at him, unwilling to accept defeat, yet unwilling to allow this man to have access to her son. They refused to break gazes, but Rose knew she had lost when he simply smiled at her. He offered her his arm, and she had to take it, if only to make sure he completely the room and her son. She never wanted to put Jamie in danger.

Just before they left, Rose turned to Owen and said, “Don’t forget that I need a refill of my migraine medication.” He nodded, and she turned to face front.

They walked to the little coffee shop down the street from Torchwood Tower. She bought a cup of Earl Grey instead of coffee, putting her two sugars in and sipping at the hot liquid, like she could burn him away from her. Rose was briefly reminded of another time in her past that she had burned.

Sitting across the table from Captain Hart, Rose sized the man up. He was bigger than her, but she was stronger than she looked. If it came to it, she could have a fair chance in a fight with him. “So tell me how old you are, Rosie.”

She pinched her lips together. “I believe I asked you not to call me that.”

“Fair enough,” he conceded. “How old are you, Rosie?”

If looks could kill, Hart would be long dead. “You remind me of a friend I once knew.”

He grinned, showing her his bleach white teeth. “Dashingly handsome and incredibly intelligent?”

Rose gave him a very forced smile, so that it looked like a glare. “To be honest, yes, but at least he had a moral code and a sense of modesty and humility.”

That seemed to throw Hart, but he recovered instantly. “So you do like me. I should like to meet this man. What’s his name?”

“Jack Harkness.” He didn’t exist in this universe, she had checked when she first got to Pete’s World. Hart could never hurt Jack, not in a million years. Which, honestly, wouldn’t surprise Rose. She recognized the leather strap on his wrist and his futuristic standards on dancing. Time Agent. Rose didn’t trust him, not did she want him anywhere near her son.

“I think I may have once known a man by that name,” Hart said, but Rose knew he was bluffing to shake her up. She wouldn’t give in so easily. Cooly taking another long drink of her tea, Rose narrowed her eyes. “So how old are you?”

Raising an eyebrow, Rose decided to try a new tactic since, clearly, he didn’t understand subtext that said ‘sod off.’ “Don’t you know not to ask a woman her age?”

He leaned back in his chair, the personification of ease. “I still stand by what I said earlier. You don’t look a day over twenty.” That was incredibly specific, in Rose’s opinion. She kept her grimace inside her own mind, her determination to keep her face passive succeeding. Twirling a little wooden stick in his coffee, Captain John Hart smiled at her. “I know your son isn’t human. Don’t lie to me and make excuses. Tell me about him, and I’ll do everything in my power to keep him safe.”

What power? Rose pursed her lips. “You don’t have any power. Even if you did, what would make me trust you of all people?”

He laughed loudly, much too enthusiastic for their situation. People around the cafe shifted their attention, and Hart leaned to grab one of Rose’s hands in his own. Stretching his torso across the round table, he whispered two words into Rose’s ear.

When he leaned back, she paled. “Get the hell away from me,” she spat. “Don’t you dare come anywhere near me or my son.”

He just continued smiling at her like nothing was wrong, like he hadn’t just threatened her. “Be careful what you wish for, Rosie,” he sang. “I think we’ll be seeing each other quite frequently in the near future.” Hart winked, and just then, Rose’s phone began to ring.

Without taking her eyes off Hart, Rose pulled her mobile from her jacket pocket and answered without looking at the caller. “Hello?”

“Rose,” came Jackie’s voice, thick and shaking. “There’s been an accident. Pete...he’s in the hospital. You’ve got to come, Rose!”

Raising a hand like Jackie could see her, Rose felt anger growing in the pit of her stomach and smoothly said, “I’m on my way.” She hung up the phone and put it back in her pocket. “I know it was you,” she said to Hart. “You won’t get away with this.”

His smile was so easy-going, it unnerved her. “Oh, Rosie. I already have.”

***


Rose cried silently, feeling the rain wet her legs. Jamie linked his arm through hers. He lost his granddad only two days after his massive heart attack. For Rose, this was like a sick version of deja vu. She had lived this not only once, but twice. And for Jackie...Rose couldn’t imagine.

She remembered watching him die the first time. It was horrible, and she was determined to make it right. She cocked things up, dooming the entire planet. The only good that came out of that was that she got to hold her father’s hand while he died.

This universe’s Pete Tyler wasn’t so lucky. Rose and Jamie were in the hall when it happened, Jackie was in the loo. He was alone. If she could go back in time and hold his hand, Rose would do it in a heartbeat. Even if he wasn’t her real dad, he was almost the same.

Rose rested her head on her son’s shoulder. He was almost as tall as his father now, growing steadily over the last few months. Jamie held the umbrella over their heads as the rain began to fall harder. Watching as dirt was thrown over her father’s grave, Rose started to grow angry.

Pete’s death was no normal heart attack. Captain John Hart was to blame, even if Rose didn’t know how. She would make him pay for destroying her family.

In her pocket, Rose’s phone dinged. She pulled it out and stared at the screen, showing a forwarded email from Mickey. Glancing behind her at her ex-boyfriend, she saw him look pointedly at his own phone and back up to her. Rose selected the email with her thumb and opened it. It was a Torchwood email, naming Captain John Hart as director of the Torchwood Institute.

Shoving her phone back in her pocket, Rose grabbed her son’s hand and pulled him over to Mickey. Without preamble, Rose bluntly asked, “Where are you with the Dimension Cannon?”

Mickey shrugged. “Not our division.”

Rose groaned, “Make it your priority, Mickey. I don’t like Hart and I don’t want him in charge of Torchwood.”

Mickey crossed his arms and narrowed his eyes. “Why? You don’t even work there? How d’you even know about the cannon?”

“I have x-ray vision,” Rose said drily. “I looked at the files in Dad’s office at home. Just trust me, Mickey. He’s greedy and manipulative. Hart has only been at Torchwood for five months and now he’s director? I don’t think that’s a coincidence. He’s up to something; he caused the accident and this heart attack, I know it.”

Jamie stared between her and his Uncle Mickey, growing anxious. “What do you mean?” he asked.

Rose looked at him. “There are things I haven’t told you. I’m sorry, and I’ll explain it to you later, but right now we need to take care of some things.” To Mickey, she added, “You remember the Torchwood Institute from home. ‘If it’s alien, it’s ours.’ You can’t tell me that isn’t what Hart is after.”

“Okay,” Mickey conceded, raising his hands in defense, “but how can we prove it.”

Rose bit her lip and shook her head. “He knows about Jamie, and he suspects about me. I’ve gotten lazy with hiding it.” She began walking towards their car. “It won’t be long before he does something drastic now that he’s in charge. God, this is why I hate Torchwood.”

“Mum, I don’t--”

She turned to him and snipped, “Jamie, please, I--”

“Is this because you don’t age?” her son asked, having given up trying to cover them with the umbrella.

Rose narrowed her eyes at him. “How--”

He rolled his eyes. “C’mon, Mum. People have thought you were my older sister for three years now. I think it’s pretty obvious. You look exactly the same as you did in my baby pictures.”

Growing wary, Rose chewed the inside of her cheek. “Hopefully no one else caught on.”

“Rose,” Mickey said with a dead look in his eyes, “even your mum noticed. I’m pretty sure it’s obvious.”

“Damn,” she huffed. “How could I have been so stupid?” She looked over her shoulder to see Jackie and Tony talking with people in the crowd. “Mickey, when this all blows up, you’ve got to get them out of here. Promise me you’ll take care of them.”

“Rose, nothin’--”

“Promise me, Mickey,” she pressed, squeezing his upper arm. After he nodded, she said, “I don’t think I’ll be around much longer.”

Jamie looked horrified. “Why not?”

She looked him straight in the eye and said, “Because I would rather die than let anythin’ happen to you.” Climbing in the car, she buckled her seatbelt and stared out the window. Mickey took the driver’s seat and Jamie sat in the back. Leaving the cemetery, Rose wished the rain would stop. It might help her to think more clearly. She needed a plan. Hart was up to something, and she had to find out. If he knew that Jamie was half-Time Lord, there would be no stopping him from trying to harness that power. It frightened her, but Jamie had the potential to be a very dangerous weapon between his telepathic tendencies and regenerative abilities.

If he were fatally injured, she didn’t know if he would regenerate, but he healed very quickly. His telepathic urges were easily shrugged off since he didn’t know how to use them and humans weren’t telepathic, but he could be easily controlled by another telepath. Jamie’s vast knowledge and capability to learn quickly would be simple to manipulate.

He was a walking weapon, and that frightened the hell out of Rose.

Really, it was because of Jamie that Rose realized what was wrong with her. Her body still behaved like a human’s, but she was able to feel Jamie’s telepathic outreach and was slightly clairvoyant. The migraines had been the first hint that something was wrong. They were almost always present, especially when she was worried, and were getting increasingly worse. A visit to Owen had revealed that biologically, Rose was still twenty years old. Her hair grew and she still needed to eat and sleep, but she wasn’t growing any older. The pregnancy hadn’t affected her body at all after some time had passed.

Lost in thought, Rose felt the hairs on the back of her neck rise. Just as she felt the shiver, Mickey said, “Rose, I don’t mean to scare ya, but someone’s followin’ us.”

Her eyes shifted to the rearview mirror. Mickey was taking evasive maneuvers, but every lane change and turn he made, they followed. Whoever was pursuing them was following the rules incredibly carefully. Textbook carefully. It was almost stupid of them.

Calmly so as not to worry Jamie (who was already looking somewhat panicked), Rose instructed, “Go to Torchwood.”

“But--”

“Just do it,” she snapped. After a few minutes passed and they were only about a dozen blocks from Torchwood Tower, Rose took a deep breath. “When we get there, you’re going to let me out, and drive off as fast as you can. Go straight to my flat. In my closet, the second drawer from the bottom in the dresser has a false back. Inside should be an envelope of documents and instructions.” Inside, she felt sick to her stomach. “Do exactly as it says, and everthin’ll be fine.”

God, she had hoped she would never have to do this. Rose felt tears pinch at her eyes, and counted to three before blinking them away.

She turned round to face Jamie and said, “You’re goin’ to listen to exactly what Uncle Mickey says, okay? ‘s gonna be hard, and probably scary, but you’ve gotta do this.”

“Mum,” he started, but she doesn’t let him finish.

“Jamie,” she said carefully, using all of her strength to keep from crying. She was the only thing keeping him safe from Torchwood. “I love you so much.”

“I love you, too, Mum,” he said, tears forming in his eyes. “But I don’t understand--”

Rose leaned back, kissed his forehead, kissed Mickey on the cheek, then jumped out of the car. Tires squealing, Mickey sped away, but Rose stood in the middle of the road so they would have to run her over to follow him. Besides, if they had her, that would give Jamie time to get away.

Who wanted a half-Time Lord when they could have Bad Wolf?

Guns trained on Rose, she stretched her arms into the air. More people flooded out of Torchwood and onto the street. Captain John Hart stepped in front of them, smiling at her. “Good to see you, Rosie,” he said. “Or should I say Bad Wolf?”

So he knew.

Rose glared at him, felt a pinch in her neck, and then knew no more.

***


Jamie and Mickey sped through the streets of London, probably breaking dozens of traffic laws. Fortunately, the streets were empty at this time of morning. Jamie cried in the backseat and Mickey tried to hold his tongue. Finally, he parked the car three blocks from Rose and Jamie’s flat, saying, “Come on, kid. We gotta go.” The two men walked briskly down the street, trying not to attract attention. “Been a bloody long time since I’ve done somethin’ like this,” Mickey said to himself.

When they got to the flat, Mickey took Jamie’s key from the boy’s shaking hands and let them inside. Everything looked normal, untouched, just as it had when they left that morning. Jamie’s open bedroom door revealed a mess, while Rose’s closed door hid a pristine room. (She kept it clean, Mickey knew, because her room on the TARDIS was such a mess, but of course Jamie wouldn’t know that.)

“Pack a bag,” Mickey commanded, walking through the doorway into Rose’s room. He went to her closet and followed her instructions, finding a manila envelope stuffed full with papers and something solid at the bottom. He shuffled through it, seeing everything was dated from before Jamie was born to only a few weeks before. Rose had been planning something, but what?

When he left Rose’s room, Mickey saw Jamie wiping his nose with his sleeve, holding a full backpack zipped shut. “Where’re we gonna go?” sniffed Jamie, trying to seem manly but failing. This was all so sudden and frightening to him. “Why did Mum leave?”

Mickey held the flat door open for Jamie before shutting it and locking it firmly. As they left the building and walked in the drizzling rain, Mickey said, “I dunno for sure, but I think it has something to do with something that happened before you were born. All I know is that we gotta get out of the city. If Rose was right, it’s not safe here for us anymore, especially not you. We gotta get Jackie and Tony, and...” He stopped, looking both ways before crossing the street, trying to put the puzzle pieces together. “I know where we need to go.”

They took public transportation as far as they could, then walked the rest of the way to the Tyler home. He called Jackie ahead of time and explained that something had gone wrong and they needed to leave the city. When they got there, Jackie had Pete’s Jeep out and warmed up to go.

Mickey took the driver’s seat, Jackie in passenger, and the boys in the back. “Where’s Rose?” asked Jackie, very concerned.

With a grimace, Mickey answered, “Torchwood.”

“What the hell is she doin’ there?”

Jamie answered this time, clutching the manila envelope in his fingers so tightly that his skin was white. “We were being followed and she just got out of the car and let them take her.”

Before Jackie could protest, Mickey said, “It was Torchwood, I mean, the old Torchwood from home. Greedy, manipulative bastards. After anything alien they could get their slimy hands on.”

“Aliens?” asked Tony. Neither boy had been told of the Tyler family’s history, just believed that Torchwood was a large corporation that owned Vitex and worked for the government.

Jamie spoke up, “Aliens aren’t real.”

Mickey exchanged a glance with Jackie, who nervously said, “Get some sleep boys. I’ll wake you when we get there.” To Mickey, she softly added, “Where are we goin’ anyway?”

He set his jaw and stared directly at the empty road ahead. “Norway.”

***


Jamie, I’m not sure what happened to me for you to be reading this letter, but I guess it’s serious enough that I’m not with you. I don’t trust Captain John Hart at Torchwood, so I’m taking precautions to keep you safe because you are so important. Right now, you’re asleep in your room, the night before your fourteenth birthday. I just want you to know that no matter what, I love you more than anything. I haven’t made the best decisions, but you are my greatest joy.

And I need you to do something. Torchwood has been working on a technology for cross-dimensional travel. Originally, me, mum, and Mickey are from a different universe. It’s kind of a long story, and I assume I’ve already told you, but [She scratched a significant bit out so Jamie couldn’t read it.] Anyway, I’ve fixed the dimension cannon so that it will actually work, which will move you into my original universe. It’s kind of Star Trek, but it’s real, I promise. The technology is programed into my old mobile. I’ve written out instructions on another sheet. I haven’t tested it, but I think I’ve got it right. I’m sorry, but it only carries one. You’ll have to go alone.

You need to find a man called the Doctor. He’s an alien who travels in a blue box that says Police. He looks human, but he isn’t. He travels the universe, so it might take a while to find him. To help you, though, because he’s bloody awful at directions and I don’t want you waiting around for a few decades, there should be an old silver mobile in the envelope.

The contacts should still be intact. Dial the number labeled ‘Doctor’ from a pay phone and let it ring. After three rings, it should go to voicemail. He’s bad at answering the phone, too. Don’t leave a message, don’t answer if he calls back (which I don’t think he will). Just sit and wait. It might take a while, but if he hasn’t shown up after five and a half hours, go to 13 Bannerman Rd in London. Tell Sarah Jane that you’re my son and she’ll take care of you.

If the Doctor does show up (which I hope he will), tell him who you are. He will take care of you.

Jamie, I love you so so much. I’m sorry for not being a very good mum, but I just want you to know that I love you.


***

It took a few days to reach Norway, and no one would answer Jamie’s questions. He shouted and cried and acted very selfishly, but they would not give in, insisting that it wasn’t their place. They drove down the coast, very careful to not be followed by anyone or anything. Mickey had checked for bugs and tracking devices but, finding none, cleared them for travel.

Mickey parked on a windy beach, feeling the nostalgia more than the bitter cold. Jackie shivered and wrapped her arms around Tony and Jamie. Mickey tried to configure the settings on Rose’s mobile so that it would be easier for Jamie to use, but after five minutes, he declared it was too complicated and allowed the genius to have access.

Jackie stopped him before he pressed the final button, to give her only grandson a hug and a kiss. She hoped it would work. If Jamie was lost, she would tear down the walls of the universe herself and smack that bloody alien into his next regeneration.

With a weak smile and a half-hearted wave, the instructions from his mother shoved in his jacket pockets, Jamie pressed the button and disappeared in a flash of light and static.

***


All Rose knew for what seemed to last for an eternity was gold and howling and dust of Time. Tears of gold flowed down her face, her knees scratching against the floor, hair tangled from her grubby fingers. She burned, and it was glorious.

***


The air felt lighter, Jamie decided. He felt disoriented when he first landed, but the sensation soon passed. Blinking several times to clear his vision, he looked around and made mental notes of his observations. No zeppelins, more pollution, time itself seemed to progress with more definitive rhythm. That was odd; when did he start thinking about time?

There was a little hum in the back of Jamie’s mind, but he shook it off, accepting it as a song stuck in his head.

He pulled the papers out of his pocket and moved his mother’s handwritten instructions to the top of the thin stack. Carefully, he shifted the bedazzled mobile phone so that he had a better grip on it to scroll through the ancient screen. How did people survive with phone screens that were only a square inch big?

The contacts were easy enough to get to, but locating a pay phone was more difficult. He didn’t even know where he was, so how was he supposed to find anything? Walking nervously, Jamie shuffled his feet, glad he’d worn his Chucks to the funeral instead of dress shoes. Back at home (well, Norway), he’d taken off the coat and tie and dress shirt, trading them for his plain undershirt and a jacket he’d luckily forgotten to get out of Pete’s Jeep last week.

It didn’t seem as cold here. Something in his head told him that it was late spring, not early like at home. Jamie turned a corner until he saw a red phone booth up ahead. An older man sitting on a bench was reading a paper, so Jamie took a quick glance. It was a London paper. Looking at the street signs, Jamie recognized the names. So he was in London. At least that was somewhat comforting.

Stepping into the phone booth and shutting the door behind him, Jamie put a few coins into the machine before dialing the number. It rang and rang, four times before hearing a beep. Jamie hung up, and left the box.

The man had vacated the bench, so Jamie took a seat, preparing to wait the five and a half hours his mother instructed. If he was in London already, at least finding that Sarah Jane woman would be easy enough. Surely he could reverse the Dimension Cannon so that it could take him home. He would figure out some way to save his mum on his own if he needed to.

A loud, wheezing sound interrupted Jamie’s thoughts not half an hour after he made the phone call. He looked up and saw the outline of a blue box fading in and out of sight. It grew definitively more solid, until the wheezing stopped and the box stood still. A few seconds passed, and the right door opened, revealing a tall, skinny man in a blue suit and wild hair. A red haired woman stepped out after him, loudly complaining about something.

The man paid her no mind, fixated on Jamie, who suddenly felt very small. Moving to stand right in front of Jamie, the man looked down off the edge of his nose. “How did you do that?”

Jamie, feeling shy for once, held up the mobile. “I had the number, was told to call it.”

The man’s eyes narrowed. “Who told you? Who gave you that? Who are you?”

“Blimey!” the woman exclaimed, walking over to sit on the bench next to Jamie. “Let the boy speak!”

Jamie didn’t feel like speaking. He felt like a child for the first time in his life and wanted to go home. “I’m Jamie. My mum gave this to me and told me to find you. She’s in trouble, she needs help. I think she knows you. Are you the Doctor?”

Hands in his pockets, the man narrowed his eyes. He nodded once. “Who’s your mother, Jamie?”

Boldly, he answered, “Rose Tyler.”

The Doctor paled and the red haired woman gaped. After a few seconds of staring into Jamie’s eyes, the Doctor crouched down to be eye level with him, wariness still present in his gaze. “Who’s your father, Jamie?”

What would the right answer be? Jamie had always assumed that his mother told him the truth about his father, but if she had hidden other things from him... “She told me he was a scientist named John Smith, but I think she lied.”

The Doctor swallowed, shifting his eyes to the woman. “Donna, can you take him to the med bay? There’s something I need to do.”

She, Donna, seemed to be about to argue, but he cleared his throat and she pursed her lips. Standing, she said, “Up and at ‘em, Jamie. Let’s go do what our lord and master dictates.”

“Don’t call me that,” the Doctor said, suddenly testy. He let them go first; Jamie could feel his eyes on his back. While Donna led Jamie down the hall to the med bay, the Doctor looked up at the Time Rotor, mumbling to himself. This was impossible. There was no way that Rose could have, but oh she could have.

The TARDIS argued in his mind, throwing him vicious memories of Rose laughing, of them hugging, her tongue in her teeth, Rose jumping up and down in victory, of him leaning down to kiss her... The Doctor abruptly opened his eyes, cutting the attack off. There was a tickle on his cheek; he wiped away a tear.

Suddenly nervous, the Doctor walked toward the med bay. What was he going to do? He didn’t want to get his hopes up, but it was possible. No, it was supposed to be impossible. It was only once, and they weren’t biologically compatible, not in that way.

Donna and Jamie were laughing at something one of them had said. Jamie was looking around every few seconds, disbelief and awe apparent on his face. When the Doctor walked in the room, Jamie looked at him and said, “It’s bigger on the inside.”

He couldn’t help but give a little grin, despite the turmoil that was going on inside his mind. Getting the proper tools, the Doctor walked over to Jamie and took the boy’s arm. “I need to get a blood sample.”

Naturally suspicious, Jamie questioned, “Why?”

The Doctor was not normally so enigmatic, but he couldn’t help it. He didn’t want to get his or the boy’s hopes up. “To make sure you’re well from your travel.”

“What do you mean?”

Oh, right. “Well, you came from another universe.” Putting the blood sample in one of the TARDIS’s medical thingamabobs, he said, “That’s quite a journey.” He coughed, subtly taking his own blood and entering it as well. The Doctor placed his hands on the counter while he waited. He didn’t want to look at the young man behind him, didn’t want to be reminded of his past. “How is your mother?”

Jamie took a moment to answer, “She’s okay. I mean, she’s in trouble now, but she’s been okay, I think.”

“Is she married?” He was being blunt, but he didn’t care. He missed her more than anything.

Jamie must’ve shook his head as he said, “No,” for there was a rustle behind him. “She got asked on dates, but she always said she was already involved with someone. For a while I thought it was my Uncle Mickey, but when I asked him, he just laughed.”

The Doctor frowned. Mickey the Idiot and Rose Tyler, reunited in Pete’s World with nothing to keep them apart. He needed to stay casual, tone down the hopeful. “I’ll take that as a no?”

“I did,” Jamie said. “I think she still loves my dad. I asked her when he was comin’ home, but she didn’t know. He’s been gone since before I was born.”

Feeling sick to his stomach, the Doctor winced and rubbed the back of his neck. Just as the printer spat out the results, he ran a hand through his hair and grabbed the warm papers. The words were written in circular Gallifreyan, he would have no proof if Jamie didn’t believe him. But the words were there, the scientific data was accounted for. The Doctor’s heart leaped and his mind raced with possibility.

Turning around quickly, the Doctor walked over to Jamie and wrapped him in his arms. “I’m sorry,” the Doctor said as Jamie awkwardly moved to return the hug. “I’m so sorry.”

“For what?”

Not wanting to release him, the Doctor took a deep breath. “For missing your life. I don’t--I’m not...” He took a step back to look Jamie in the face. “Jamie, I’m your father.”

Donna gasped and Jamie’s eyes widened. “How d’you know?” he asked, his stomach light and airy. This was the moment he’d waited for his whole life.

The Doctor held up the papers in his hand. “I did a test just then. Sorry you can’t read it, it’s in my home language, TARDIS doesn’t translate.” Guilt suddenly shook the Doctor, making him halt like he’d hit a brick wall. He’d abandoned Rose to a half-Time Lord, half-Human pregnancy all on her own. If he had known...but that was the past. He could come to terms with it later, but he had to look ahead for now.

Shifting her eyes between the father and son, Donna suddenly made a jerky move towards the door. “I’ll just, uh, give you some time, then.” Before either could react, she was out of the room.

Rocking on the balls of his feet, the Doctor stammered, “Well, uh, would you like to, um, go somewhere else?”

Jamie shrugged.

The Doctor tilted his head toward the door. “Let’s go somewhere more comfortable.”

They made their way to the library and sat on the plush armchairs by the fireplace. Not there could actually be a fire on the TARDIS. It replicated flames from a different atmosphere that didn’t really burn, just gave the appearance of doing so. Otherwise, the fire could be potentially messy and destructive.

Without being prompted, Jamie sat in the chair that had been Rose’s favorite. The Doctor grinned at that and sat in his chair. Upon closer inspection of the boy’s features, the Doctor was able to piece him together. The mess of hair was definitely his, as were the eyes, but the nose and jaw were Rose’s. Just thinking about the two of them making an entire person was unbelievable.

“Has your mother told you anything about me?” asked the Doctor, wishing he had thought to get tea before this. Or maybe something stronger.

Jamie shook his head. “Are we gonna help her?”

The Doctor nodded. “Oh, yes. But first, can I ask you some questions and let you ask me some? I’ve--it’s just, well,” he tugged on his ear, “I’ve never met you before.” Quickly, he added, “The TARDIS is a time machine, too, so we’ll get to your mum soon enough.”

“TARDIS?” asked Jamie, raising an eyebrow.

The Doctor grinned, “Stands for Time and Relative Dimension in Space. She’s sentient. Your mum got up close and personal with her, but I s’pose she’s told you all about that.”

Jamie cleared his throat. “Actually, she’s never told me anything about you or anything about her life before me. Not really. I mean, I know she used to date Uncle Mickey and she worked in a shop and did some traveling before having me, but I don’t know anything else.”

Hearts sinking, the Doctor wondered if Rose regretted ever meeting him. To be burdened with a child at such a young age and trapped in a completely different universe than her own must have been overwhelming. Slouching back in the chair and hanging his head, the Doctor felt his confidence sag. “I don’t even know where to begin.”

“How did you meet my mum?”

Looking up, the Doctor let half of his mouth lift into a smile. Now answering questions about his magnificent Rose Tyler, that he could do. “I saved her life from the Nestene Consciousness, living plastic. She was nineteen, working in a shop in London. I blew up her job, she ran away with me to see the stars.”

Jamie ran his eyes over his father. “How old are you?”

The Doctor coughed awkwardly before answering, “Nine hundred and six or so. I’ve sort of lost count.”

He thought Jamie’s eyes were gonna bug out of his head. “Bloody hell,” Jamie said, chest collapsing as he exhaled heavily. “No wonder Grandmum never fancied ya.”

The thought of Jackie made the Doctor laugh. “Yeah, she never liked me much. I think it was ‘cos I accidentally brought Rose back a year later than I was supposed to. Well, that and I’m not human.”

“Yeah, Mum said that,” Jamie said, leaning forward to rest his elbows on his knees. The Doctor raised an eyebrow, so he clarified, “She wrote me a letter but I just got it, well, earlier today. Here.” He pulled the wrinkled piece of paper out of his pocket and passed to the Doctor.

It took the Doctor about two seconds to read the entire thing. Rose would make a Star Trek reference. He was never Spock enough for her. “She never told you anything, did she?” Jamie shook his head. “I’m a Time Lord. It’s more of a title than an actual species. I’m Gallifreyan, really, from Gallifrey. When I was eight, I was chosen to attend the Academy, and that’s where I became a Time Lord. My physiology is different than that of a human, that’s why I’ve got--”

“Two hearts,” they said simultaneously.

“Yeah,” the Doctor finished.

Jamie grabbed his jeans to steady his shaking hands. “Me, too. Mum always said it was a heart defect. I’ve always sort of wondered how that thing happened.”

“It’s because you’re part Time Lord,” the Doctor said. “With the right training, you’ll be able to...well, I don’t even know how much of you is Time Lord. I would say much more than human since we are superior in most ways--that’s one thing you must know about me, Jamie. I’m very rude. Your mother usually called me out on it. Donna’s good at it, too. Although, she’s basically just as rude. Oh, and I’ve got quite the gob, as you’ve probably realized.”

The look written on Jamie’s face was of, “Well, duh.”

Clearing his throat again, the Doctor got back on track. “Any other Time Lord-y qualities?” Jamie shrugged. He probably wouldn’t know as easily as the Doctor would. And there was that harmonic hum in the back of the Doctor’s mind. He hadn’t noticed it before, but now that he was concentrating on it, the sound grew more distinct and more present. It was coming from Jamie. The Doctor stretched his mind and reached out for Jamie, who looked shocked as soon as the Doctor made contact. He pulled back and apologized, “Sorry, it’s been a long time since there’s been anyone else up here.”

“What was that?”

“Time Lords are telepathic,” the Doctor said. “It’s not like mind reading really, more of just an awareness. You’ll probably start being aware of the TARDIS mostly, and then me, particularly because we’re related.” That was so weird to think about, being a father again. “Tell me, do you heal ridiculously fast?”

Jamie gave a short laugh. “Mum used to make fun of me for being a pansy when I never really got hurt.”

“Yeah, she could be ruthless,” the Doctor said, thinking back to all the times Rose could be surprisingly cruel in a joking manner. “Um, Jamie, I really am sorry about missing your entire life.”

A wistful smile settled on Jamie’s face. “‘s okay. I mean, ‘s not your fault.”

“I swear to you,” the Doctor said, “if I had known, I would have ripped down the walls of reality to find you and your mother. It--we--I never...she and I were just friends, really.”

That seemed to strike Jamie somehow. “So you never married?” When the Doctor shook his head, Jamie added, “She always said she hadn’t been, but I always sort of hoped she’d been lying. I mean, growing up without a dad is hard enough.”

The Doctor’s hearts sank. “It was only, well--we--”

Jamie cringed at where the conversation was quickly heading. “Whoa, no need for the details. Uncle Mickey taught me about the birds an’ the bees, thanks.”

Skin flushing red, the Doctor turned his face away. The fact that Mickey the Idiot taught his son about life was just horrific. Rassilon, he had a son! He was a father again, and not just by some genetic machine to create soldiers. Jamie Tyler was his actual, biological son with a mother. A mother who was in danger.

Suddenly worried, the Doctor felt his stomach do flips. Who had Rose Tyler?

“A man named Captain John Hart,” Jamie said.

The Doctor hadn’t realized he’d spoken aloud. “We’ve got to save her.”

Jamie nodded, but was immediately hesitant. The Doctor moved to stand, but Jamie stopped him. “Look, um, I don’t know what to call you yet, either Dad or Doctor. But I love my mum more than anything, and I don’t wanna see her get hurt again. I’ve heard that she was a mess when you left. I have to know that you’re going to at least speak with her, that you aren’t just gonna leave her again. Because if you’re gonna hurt her, than I’d rather save her by myself, without your help.”

While surprised, the Doctor was greatly impressed by his son’s courage. “I promise you, Jamie, I will not abandon your mother again, unless she no longer wants to be with me. And, I want you to know that, while it might not change your opinion of me, I didn’t leave your mother behind. She was taken from me. It was not her fault, she was doing what she thought was right, what was good, but the universe tore us apart and...” His voice started to shake, his eyes began to fill with water.

Staring at his tightly clasped hands, the Doctor didn’t notice Jamie stand and walk over to him. He just felt the warm hand on his shoulder and looked up into his son’s eyes. Jamie gave him a supportive smile. “I believe you.”

“Let’s go find your mother,” the Doctor said, joy filling his voice even though Rose could be in serious danger. “Jamie Tyler, allons-y!”

***


Rose shuddered, running her dirty hands through her knotted hair. Eyes squeezed shut, the headache pounded at her head, distracting her from any coherent thought. Wisps of voices traipsed through her head, traces of dust danced on her skin. It was burning her from the inside out.

And then she wasn’t.

A hand, a real honest-to-God hand, gripped her arm and Rose opened her eyes. Staring directly into her (into her mind) were those brown eyes she saw every day, and never thought she’d see again. A weak, ghostly smile passed over her face, then she promptly passed out.

***


A faint beeping accompanied Rose’s journey back into consciousness. Her eyes flickered open, blinded by the whiteness surrounding her. Slowly adjusting to the light, Rose moved her eyes around, attempting to figure out where she was. Just as she thought she recognized something, a loud voice called out, “She’s awake!” making her squeeze her eyes shut once again, as if the action could mask the sound.

Warm skin took hold of her hand, Rose opened her eyes, unable to stop the smile she always got when she saw her son. Throat aching, Rose could hardly get the words out. “Hey,” she croaked.

Jamie smiled and squeezed her hand. Loud footsteps approached, growing heavier as they got nearer. Rose shifted her gaze over her son’s shoulder to the familiar doorway. She’d finally been able to place her current location, solidified by the joyous humming in her mind: the TARDIS med bay. There was a sharp pinch in her elbow, but she didn’t care. All Rose wanted to see what the sight of her best friend.

Bursting through the door, the Doctor immediately stopped to a standstill. He and Rose stared, both frozen, afraid to move. Butterflies fluttering in her stomach (she’d waited for this for so damn long), Rose started to push herself up into a sitting position. Jamie helped her, but was almost instantly shoved out of the way by the Doctor.

Strong, warm arms surrounded her. Rose put her hands on the Doctor’s chest, feeling the definite thump-thump of his hearts. His head rested on top of hers, Rose laid her forehead on his chest, closing her eyes. This was home.

The Doctor murmured words against Rose’s hair, words that she didn’t understand. It was the fault of the TARDIS’s translation matrix that Rose didn’t know what he was saying, but because she knew he was speaking his own language. Sounds that she’d never heard except when he was cursing. Then, in English, the Doctor whispered, “Rose Tyler, I love you.”

Tears pricked at Rose’s eyes, she bit her chapped lower lip and leaned back so she could look at him. He was smiling down at her; she returned the favor. “Oh, my Doctor,” she said, unable to keep from crying. She had longed to hear those words for so many years now. “I love you, too.”

Aware and uncaring that they had an audience, the Doctor pressed a quick kiss to Rose’s forehead before leaving a more meaningful one on her lips. Rose reached a sore arm (one that wasn’t hooked to an IV, she realized) up behind the Doctor’s head and latched onto his neck, holding him in place.

After what felt like too short a time, a throat was cleared from behind the Doctor, and an irritated voice said, “Oi, if you’re gonna snog, let’s not do it in front of the kid, yeah?”

The Doctor broke away first, smiling against Rose’s lips before quickly kissing her once more. Still holding her in his arms, the Doctor turned and smiled triumphantly at Donna and Jamie, who looked very awkward. With a grin, the Doctor gently unhooked Rose’s inner elbow from the IV, scooping her into his arms. She secured her arms around his neck, he supported her back and under her knees.

Jamie and Donna led the way out of the room, the Doctor saying, “That’s Donna Noble, my most recent companion. She was the first person I talked to after I lost you, y’know.”

“Oh?”

“Yep,” the Doctor said, “she magically appeared in the console room while I was still in orbit around that supernova I burned up. Well, I say magically, it was more mysteriously until I figured out that it had to do with huon particles and TARDIS energy and--”

Rose shut him up by kissing him.

Turning slightly red, the Doctor continued walking. “I’d say that’s a fair way to get me to shut up.” While Jamie and Donna made conversation, heading back to the console room, the Doctor took a sudden detour into a corridor that had not been there when the others passed. Just as Rose was about to ask where he was going, he opened a heavy wooden door into a large bedroom.

Feeling tired, Rose yawned. “Yours?” she asked when she could.

“Ours,” the Doctor corrected, hastily adding, “if you want.”

Leaning her head on his shoulder and closing her eyes, Rose nodded. “I’d like that.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

Setting Rose down gently on the bed, the Doctor toed off his shoes and climbed up next to her, tickling the instep of her foot as he passed it. She giggled and curled into him. “We’ve never done this,” the Doctor said. Rose opened her eyes and raised an eyebrow. “Been domestic.”

Rose rolled her eyes, looking up into his with a small smile. “Well, I have. For the last fifteen years or so.”

“He’s fourteen?” the Doctor clarified.

Nodding, Rose said, “Yeah. But I was pregnant for over a bloody year. Had no idea when the hell he was gonna come out. Thirteen months before he finally decided he’d had enough suspense.”

The Doctor pressed his lips to her forehead, running a hand up and down her arm. “I’m so sorry, Rose. I never meant, never thought...this wasn’t supposed to be able to happen. You and I--that is, Time Lords and Humans, we--well...”

Rose let him trail off, softly saying, “I don’t think I’ve been human for a long time, Doctor.”

Grim, the Doctor nodded. “I can tell. When we rescued you and put an end to Torchwood, your mind was reaching out in pain. Not just pain, agony. It was affecting Jamie more than me, but that’s only because I know how to block out these sort of things. He’ll learn, of course, but I was worried I’d have to carry both of you if Donna and Mickey and your mum hadn’t been there.”

“Mum?”

He nodded.

“Pete died,” Rose said calmly, not a hint of emotion in her voice. “He was killed by that bastard, John Hart. I could ring his bloody neck if I--”

“Rose,” the Doctor said, tone even and reassuring, “he’s dead.” When the gravity of what he meant sunk in, Rose raised her eyebrows at him. The Doctor gave a little shrug. What was one more man’s blood on hands that were already covered in so much of it? Rose looked like she was going to cry again, so the Doctor took her face in his hands, brushing his thumbs under her eyes, saying, “To save you, I could do anything.”

With a smile, the Doctor kissed her again. It was slow, but began to heat up past the point they had been allowed to reach in the med bay. He was the first to make a move, afraid of her abandoning him like he’d abandoned her so many years ago. The kiss, while still slow, was thorough and full of longing and lost time.

Pulling away to let her breathe, the Doctor whispered, “I will never leave you again, I swear it.”

“I know,” Rose mumbled, reaching for his head to bring his lips back to hers. Kissing lazily, the Doctor’s hands began to roam as he shifted his body over hers. He dropped his lips to her neck, sucking where he remembered had elicited a beautiful sound. Rose was breathing heavily, brushing her fingers through his hair, but she couldn’t help yawning. “Doctor,” she gasped when he nipped at her skin before running his tongue over the mark, “Doctor, I--oh--not now.”

Looking like a kicked puppy, the Doctor rolled off her, insistent on putting space between them. Rose reached for his hand and squeezed.

“I’m sorry,” she said, yawning once again. “But I’m exhausted. Can we resume that later?”

Reassured, the Doctor’s lips spread into a smile. “Of course, Rose. I wasn’t thinking.” He pulled her against him, running his hands over her body gently as she started falling toward sleep. “You know,” he said, “Jamie is a wonderful young man. You have been a wonderful mother to him.”

She smiled at him. “Better with two.” Quietly, Rose said, “Don’t leave me, please.”

He knew she meant for him to be there when she woke up, but also as a request for him to let her give him the forever she promised. They both knew she could give it to him now. Rose slept in the Doctor’s arms and he watched her peacefully. In the morning (relatively speaking), they would decide what they would do about Jackie and Mickey and Pete’s World, about Donna, and about Jamie.

But for now, they were together.