The Doctor is standing in the crowded amusement park, completely baffled. He’s holding a stuffed toy rabbit in his slackened grip, staring, astonished, at the owner of the thematic toy store. The woman is picking up the scattered toys hurriedly, yelling at her assistants to come and please sweep the floor to get rid of the glass shards sooner before the kids arrive and hurt themselves, God forbid.
The Doctor has just stopped a violent bloke who didn’t know how to deal with a polite rejection from actually harming someone at the small shop. The man arrived at the toy store with the air of someone to whom the world owed everything, and the Doctor didn’t like this kind of attitude one bit. Such people were usually troublemakers. The Time Lord was sure the newcomer would bring headache upon the show owner.
The Doctor wished he was wrong this time. The troublemaking man demanded the biggest prize from the shop. He didn’t have enough credits that were the monetary system at the amusement park, so, naturally, the cashier politely explained to the man that to have the toy of the blue-eyed dragon with glitter-sprinkled skin the man had to have at least 260 credits more.
Of course, the troublemaker in a baseball cap didn’t like the polite explanation one bit. He ordered the manager to appear loudly and requested the owner to provide the well-deserved prize to him. The Doctor honestly hoped that the man would leave the premises of the shop and the amusement park peacefully but of course, things rarely went the way the Doctor wanted them to.
Typically, he stepped in the moment it became clear that the troublemaker was unrelenting and especially violent. The Doctor sincerely tried not to get involved without it being absolutely necessary but his meddling was inevitable when the troublemaker broke one of the glass shelves with the purple ‘magical’ umbrella he had snatched from the umbrella holder near the counter.
That’s why he’s standing in front of the shop’s doors, staring in puzzlement at the stuffed toy. The owner gave the Doctor one of the best toys for ‘his missus’ and as a ‘thank you’ for stopping the angry shop-ruining bloke and calling security promptly.
The Doctor furrows his brow and wonders what ‘missus’ the lady meant.
He thinks the bunny reminds him of the one from Disney's ‘Bambi’ . The Doctor thinks that the bunny’s name is actually Thumper. Or not. It’s not that he’s all that knowledgeable of Disney’s mythology.
The owner of the shop, a sweet lady in her mid-fifties with curly brown hair, smiles and waves her hand at him again one more time before returning to the task of carefully putting the toys and prizes back after vacuuming them from the shards of glass with a compact vacuum cleaner.
Seems like the trouble they all witnessed not ten minutes ago is a regular occasion, then.
The Doctor looks in the toy bunny’s eyes, shrugs and turns on his heels to find his companions. He barely walks ten steps when he hears them simultaneously call out for his attention.
“Hey there, Doc!”
The Doctor rolls his eyes and curls his lips in an irritated grimace. He hates it when Jack calls him ‘Doc’.
The travellers start walking toward each other. Rose’s curious stare is glued to the prize in the Doctor’s hands but Jack is the first one to address the plush toy in his arms.
“Aw, Doc! Did you win something for Rose? You old softie!”
The Time Lord is about to rebuff the idiotic remark about him doing something as silly and pointless and time-consuming as winning toy prizes when he notices the hopeful look in Rose’s eyes, the lively spark lighting up in the brown of her irises.
She’s been a little down ever since Cardiff, Rose has been, and though she stoically convinced everyone that she was ‘fine’ and ‘never better’ , the Doctor could feel the passive melancholy overlapping the cheerful exterior of his dear companion. He lost the count of how many times he wanted to land in London circa 2006, find one Mickey Smith and pack a punch to the boy’s face for upsetting Rose Tyler to the point of tears.
Not that the Doctor truly comprehends what the remark about second chances was about.
He only wishes it isn’t about Rose regretting meeting him.
Jack whistles and nudges the Doctor’s shoulder not-so-gently as if warning him about not saying anything dismissive or rude and motions to pass the light-grey-furred bunny with ridiculously long ears and endearingly pink nose to Rose. The Doctor shakes the cobwebs clouding his mind and pushes the bunny into Rose’s unexpecting arms.
The blonde gaps a little at the gesture but hugs the toy close to her chest. Gentle blush spreads on her cheeks, filling the space with pink where the rouge isn't brushed on, and her neck turns a peculiar shade of rose, too.
The Doctor feels the smile coming alive on his lips; a genuine item, unforced, sincere, stupid-looking.
Jack calls it ‘Rose Smile’ . Jack, who’s looking at the Doctor and Rose smugly, nose slightly upwards, proud of his day’s work.
The silly plush toy is enough to make Rose smile candidly for the first time in three days and the Doctor’s hearts are basking in the cradle of Rose’s enthusiastic “Oh, thank you, Doctor!”
Well, maybe the prize toys aren’t too stupid. No thing that makes Rose Tyler’s lips stretch in a wide, sincere grin can be stupid.
That’s why the Doctor answers with a slightly breathless “You’re welcome” and offers Rose his elbow (he knows she likes walking ‘her hand in the crook of his elbow’ as much as she likes holding his hand, their finger intertwined.)
He is fond of either of these options, to be honest.
They return to the Tardis, Rose and Jack pleasantly buzzed from the cotton candy and jelly babies they’ve consumed, warm tired feeling spreading through their bodies. It’s a nice kind of tiredness, it is, the one you get after spending all day out, entertaining and having fun; or meeting a good old friend and talking and talking for hours; or when you finish watching a movie that had a happy ending but sure made you weep and use a dozen of tissues while watching it.
It’s a good feeling, and all three travellers share it this evening.
The Doctor knows not what makes him check on Rose after she went sleeping that night but he sure does so (he suspects the Tardis in planting the ‘Rose-checking’ seed in his mind).
He opens the door to her room after the Tardis assures him that his companion is decent and very much asleep and switches on the night light installed in the walls of her room. Rose is sleeping on her side facing away from the doorway, and the Doctor steps closer to make sure that no tear tracks paint miserable lines on her sweet cheeks.
He peers over her frame and stops dead in his tracks.
Rose is cuddling the prize bunny. The one he gave her mere hours ago. Here she is, curled in her pink-covered bed, hair stunningly yellow against the bright fuchsia of her duvet, the stuffed toy gently pressed to her chest, hands encircling the bunny protectively.
The Doctor closes his eyes and swallows the overpowering desire to crawl into bed with Rose and to hold her close, to enfold her frame and surround it with the warmth of his own body.
The peaceful and enticing image sleeping Rose creates is enough to make the Doctor’s breath shallow.
Rose holds unfathomable power over him, and she’s even more precious to him because she’s clueless of that knowledge. The girl still can’t believe him not wanting to save the world if it meant losing her, no matter how many times the Doctor proved how important Rose is to him.
Such a small gesture, a stuffed toy in the shape of a Disney character, is enough to make her eyes glint and her soul grateful, and the Doctor is endlessly humbled by that knowledge.
He scoffs good-naturedly at his sappy thoughts and decides to leave his companion to sleep in peace, but not before leaning down and placing a whisper-like kiss on Rose’s cheek.
The Doctor shuts the door behind him soundlessly and smiles.
He’s sure at least some of his dreams will be filled with Rose-coloured pictures in the near future.