Rose feels like crying. She’s frustrated and bone-tired from keeping her three-year-old entertained and content while stuck in the Tardis while the Doctor is out for the spare parts. He specifically tells Rose that the planet where they landed is the mechanical superstore, nothing exciting.
He’s afraid that Rose will think that he has fun without her and their daughter while on the shopping outings.
Okay, this might be her fault, actually: once when she was nine months pregnant and he told her it was dangerous for her and the babe to be out where there was too much CO2 in the atmosphere, Rose threw a spectacular fit (complete with bouts of miserable tears) that he was tired of her already and was about to relax and to adventure without her fat pregnant self. The look on his face was sensational but Rose felt ugly and weary and she missed their adventures before pregnancy.
The kissing and Rose’s-body-worshipping session that followed after said scandal assured Rose that the Doctor didn't think her unattractive. An article about the danger of the lack of oxygen on the Tardis screen explained why he had to venture out alone.
“It’s dangerous when you’re running on all cylinders, love, and it’s plain deadly when you’re carrying a babe.”
Rose kissed him, hotly, again, before pushing him away from the Tardis doors and promising a rowdy night for when he returned.
The Doctor returned in fifty-two minutes.
The pregnancy hormones didn’t make Rose glow but they made her a sex machine when she wasn’t feeling sick.
The Doctor loved that and rarely strayed too far from her on the days when Rose felt good.
But back to her woes.
You’d think that the endless halls and rooms of the Tardis would be enough to keep a toddler busy and fascinated for weeks if not months (babies tend to imprint on something particular for a long time, so sometimes her and the Doctor have to re-listen and re-watch and re-read a book or a cartoon thirty times in a row). Not this time, however, and not this toddler.
April, the firstborn to the bond of the Doctor and Rose, doesn’t want to stargaze. She doesn’t want to draw with the safe-for-children fluorescent sharpies. The girl is not amused by the koi fish in the pond (she was obsessed with the fish mere days ago, came by the pond several times a day to feed and pet them), she moans and stomps her little foot when Rose offers to read a story about a space-travelling cat with glowing whiskers and electric tail (the story was usually read by the Doctor repeatedly). Alas, no stories for April today.
Rose is a hair’s breadth from bursting into tears. No books or video lessons ever prepared her for this. No amount of babysitting with little nieces and nephews ever frustrated her so.
After fifteen minutes come by and April grows more and more agitated and sad, Rose makes sure that her daughter hasn’t got a fever and starts worrying that something is surely wrong because, although April is slightly spoiled by her father, she’s never loud and fussy like this.
Rose wishes for the Doctor to be near. He’d know what was wrong and what to do exactly.
Fatherhood revealed his true self, that’s for sure. He is not irritable at all when April shoots questions like bullets at him, he offers to put their child to sleep when Rose is dead on her feet three weeks after giving birth, he measures the formula carefully (Time Lord - Human hybrid babies need special nutrients that Rose’s body can’t provide with the milk), he reads the fairy tales and stories eagerly and isn’t easily swayed and frustrated when April fusses and acts like a typical capricious three-year-old.
But her back hurts and her feet are swollen and resembles sausages, she’s not out of the morning sickness stage yet, and she wants to sleep all the time.
Rose is in her second trimester of pregnancy (out of four ) and, miraculously, this one is harder on her than the first one.
It feels as though the worst traits of Human and Gallifreyan pregnancies mixed just to make her suffer.
The Doctor’s gaze is filled with sympathy and guilt every time he sees how miserable Rose is while hunched over the toilet, losing the little what she had for breakfast, when she looks at her reflection in the mornings and witnesses an ugly, bloated monster with matted hair and rashy cheeks, when she sleeps for twelve hours at a time and manages to catch a nap or two during the day.
While trying to take care of their daughter April.
Don’t get her wrong, the Doctor is a picture-perfect husband and a brilliant, generous father. There was never any “You’re a woman, it’s your job to birth and to raise babies” nonsense, never . Rose was surprised at first because the way the Doctor spoke about domestics made her sure that he would never greet the role of a father with his arms open.
Rose couldn’t be more wrong.
The Doctor feels guilty because the second pregnancy was an unplanned one. He told her that human bodies needed at least five years between pregnancies for said hybrid pregnancies not to be strenuous for the female bodies. He blames himself still, blames himself for his carelessness and for putting Rose if not in danger than in such an uncomfortable state.
Her heart melts and she peppers his handsome face with multiple kisses while April is asleep in her pretty little bed.
He does all the hard work while Rose dozes or cooks: he bathes April, spending an ungodly amount of time and water, blowing bubbles and playing with the rubber ducks (well, she says ducks but they aren’t really, but that’s not the point). He cleans the mess in the library after April spills the paint bottles on the luscious rug, the tells stories and rubs Rose’s tired legs while she’s breastfeeding or lulling their daughter to sleep (well, while she was breastfeeding because, to Rose’s great relief, April stopped needing breast milk after a year and eight months).
The Doctor is a perfect, attentive, kind and generous father, and Rose can’t love him any more than she does at the moment.
Today, however, the Doctor had to go out for the auction where some smuggled Gallifreyan technology was offered to the buyers. He told Rose that he could pilot the Tardis back to the Vortex and return to the auction when Rose felt good enough to deal with April (“It’s a time machine, Rose!”) but Rose sent him on his way, knowing that the Doctor, while eager to do domestics, still needed some “ alien time ” and he didn’t get it for a while
Rose is brought back from her musings by the sound of April throwing her toys in a wall in a fit of exhausted tears. Rose sighs wearily and silently starts to pick up the toys, not talking to the toddler, not reprimanding her for hurting the Tardis (the Tardis hums soothingly in Rose’s mind - a plastic toy would never hurt her), not commenting on April's behaviour. Fits like these tend to end soon, right? It is just a long-running fit, yes, and April will surely be out like a light in a peaceful sleep in a few minutes (because that’s what usually happened to the kids Rose babysat when she was 15).
Not today, obviously.
April stops throwing objects in chaotic directions and lifts her arms to Rose asking to be hugged. Rose’s heart breaks a little and she sits on the sofa near the fireplace, gently cradling her wailing daughter, humming a tune she heard from the Doctor when he sang Rose to sleep.
Something’s definitely not right.
Rose frets, April feels it and starts to cry louder, sniffling pitifully, and Rose feels her own tears running down her cheeks.
What is going on with her baby?
The child in her womb feels the distress, too, and starts to move nervously.
After several bleak moments filled with fear, the Tardis cheerfully alerts Rose of the Doctor’s appearance. The beautiful Time Ship also informs the Doctor that something’s up with his favourite girls.
A minute after stepping into the Tardis the Doctor appears in the library, witnessing the great distress brought upon his bond mate and his children.
“Rose, what happened? Are you hurt? Is April hurt?” The sonic screwdriver is already buzzing in the direction of Rose, her belly, then April, and the Doctor frowns after reading the results.
“Oh, love…” he extracts April gingerly out of Rose’s arms and takes her into his embrace, putting his forehead to April’s forehead and gently touching the child’s temple with his right arm.
Rose’s heart starts to beat frantically, erratically, her instincts crying, begging her to do something - her baby is unwell .
“Doctor, what is it?” her voice is unnaturally high and raspy, eyes stinging with the onslaught of new tears.
“Hush, Rose, give me a mo’,” the Doctor answers quietly.
A few minutes pass and nothing but the sound of their mismatched breathing and Rose’s sudden hiccups can be heard.
Finally, the Doctor stops his ministrations and sets the now calm April into his lap.
Rose stops breathing while waiting for the explanation, arms stretched towards her baby.
The Doctor scoops closer to Rose, settling April between them on the sofa. The toddler is playing with the sonic contentedly, unaware of the things that trouble Rose.
“What...Doctor, what...she’s never like that…” Rose stammers, scared.
He hugs her closely with one arm, mindful of April between their bodies. His hands start to draw soothing patterns on Rose’s right forearm while he explains.
“You’re in the second trimester now, Rose. Our little one inside you starts to develop telepathic abilities and wishes for someone to share her emotions with. You can’t feel her mind yet but April can and she is scared. This morning, there was someone beside me in her mind, someone projecting their feelings into her mind, and she wasn’t ready.”
Rose just gapes at him, eyes wide, lips open, as he rushes to explain.
“D’you remember when you felt someone in your mind when you were four months pregnant with April? - at her nod, he continues further, - well, you knew it was your baby after I checked your and April’s brain in the medbay, didn’t you? You can still do that when I’m around to help you to connect to April but the little one in you can do telepathy with me and April without touch and a help,” the Doctor explains, stroking Rose’s hair.
Rose’s face dawns with understanding.
“Oh...oh! The baby can talk to you and April now?”
The Doctor smiles and hosts April onto his knees, making his legs jumping up and down, and April squeals happily as she starts moving with his legs.
“Yes, Rose, and to you, too, without my help, while still in your womb, - when Rose tries to ask if the distress like today will happen again to April, the Doctor shushes her, - I installed basic shields into her mind, love, and she knows now that it’s her little sister trying to talk to her, not an evil intruder.”
Rose smiles and slugs onto the back of the sofa, exhausted.
The Doctor smiles ruefully. “I’m sorry I wasn’t there.”
Rose hugs his elbow and snuggles closer to him. “You didn’t know it would happen today, - before he can interrupt with more apologies, Rose adds, - it isn’t your fault. We couldn’t know that April would react that way, now, could we?”
The Doctor nods tersely and kisses her brow.
She can feel someone glowing with emotions now, someone trying to share their mind with Rose’s. Rose gently caresses her belly wondering how she didn’t notice the new presence in her mind this morning.
The family sits by the fire for some time before the Doctor helps Rose with collecting the scattered toys and Rose makes them a cup of tea while he teaches April to fill the lines in the colouring pictures carefully. Rose has a much-needed nap in the bedroom while the Time Lord and his daughter draw basic circular letters in Gallifreyan, the Tardis providing them with a tablet that doesn’t damage the eyes and allows them to correct mistakes easily.
Rose wakes up with April jumping up and down on the bed enthusiastically, shoving a paper with a complicated sequence of circles and dots inside the circles into her face, repeating “Mummy, mummy, it’s Rose!” loudly.
Rose embraces her daughter and kisses her cheek, thanking for the precious gift profusely, enjoying the happiness radiating from her firstborn. The babe inside her sends small thrills of contentment to her mind and to the Doctor’s. Rose looks up at her bond mate standing in the doorway and beckons him to come and share the familial bliss.
He stays with his girls long after all three of them are asleep, stroking Rose’s hair and belly lovingly, enjoying the gentle humming of innocent minds in his own.