Title- Chapter 5
Genre- drama-esquey stuff.
Disclaimer- I only own this in a timey-whimey swirley kind of way.
Summary- The Doctor finds that sometimes the wrong turn can be so very right.
The Doctor was knocked out of his musings on his past by a hot mug of tea placed under his nose. He followed the arm to a perfectly made-up Jackie with a sad smile on her face.
“Up all night, love?”
He nodded and accepted the mug. “Thanks.”
“Rose always said that you had trouble sleeping.”
He looked away, slightly embarrassed but wanting so desperately to know that she hadn’t forgotten him. “Does she talk about me, then? Still?”
Jackie sighed into her own steaming mug. “Less than she used to. Half Heather’s bedtime stories involved a Doctor in a blue box who battled monsters. I swear she thought that was normal. First day of school she asked the teacher to explain time-travel to her.”
The Doctor chuckled. “Precocious.”
“Like her sister, little mare.” Jackie snorted. “First day of Rose’s school she told the teacher she didn’t want to play in the Wendy-house because she’d just have to clean it because men were useless.”
The Doctor laughed out loud. “She said similar to me when I asked her to wash up once. I swear she did half an hour on why woman are better than men. Beat any of my rants … although I’ll deny that if anyone asks.”
Jackie nodded and sipped her tea. “She worried about you, ya know. Worried about you being on your own and getting hurt with no one to hold your hand.”
He looked down at the hand which had felt so empty only hours ago and cleared his throat. “Oh, I coped. Same old life.”
“Lonely?” Jackie avoided his glance.
“Oh, I was all right,” he answered less than honestly.
“I remember when Pete died, you know, Rose told me you went back and saw him. I always wanted to find who the blonde was who held his hand while he died, came as a bit of a shock when I did, must admit.”
The Doctor snorted. Knowing that the woman holding your dying husband was your future daughter: ‘bit of a shock’. He loved human understatement.
“You’ll be taking her away again, won’t you?”
He stilled at the direct assault and turned to face Jackie as she stared out the window at the marquee as it flapped in the wind.
“I—I—” he stumbled and stopped, looking her over.
She held herself differently in this world, Jackie did. She stood tall and proud, like she’d weathered the worst and come out on the other side better—which she had. Jackie Tyler was nothing if not a fighter. She was almost like a Queen surveying her surroundings but the Doctor knew that she was fierce as any mamma Bear when annoyed, his jaw still throbbed in cold weather.
But he’d deserved that. He’d taken her only daughter away from a year, throwing her into all kinds of danger without so much as a care for what her mother was going through.
She deserved the truth.
“If she’ll come with me,” he answered honestly. “I have to. I can’t—won’t leave her.”
Jackie nodded, still not looking at him. “An’ you won’t be able to do this will you, come back?”
He shook his head. “No. I … I don’t know how we got here this time, Jackie. It was a mistake. A fantastic mistake, but once we leave I’ll have to close the rift again. It does too much damage to the universes to keep it open. There’s no … no way back again.”
“And you won’t stay ‘ere,” she whispered looking away. “In this universe. It needs a Doctor too, ya know. You could stay and visit, be like it was.”
He swallowed hard, deliberately not glancing her way. Jackie was asking him to stay and, from her tone, he knew that it wasn’t just for Rose. Some time in their association he had become close to the strident woman, almost like a real mother-in-law and he wanted to say he would stay; visit on weekends, play with Heather and be…domestic
But it wasn’t for him.
“I can’t,” he said with real regret. “The TARDIS isn’t equipped for this reality; it’d be like trying to fill a car with diesel. It would hurt her and that would hurt me. I’m sorry.”
Jackie nodded again tightly. “It sounds horrible to say that I wished for this.”
She turned to face him, eyes swimming. “Rose has never been really happy since you left and I see it. My baby hurts and I can’t do anything. I think she went off because she couldn’t stand seeing me with my happy ending when she was told hers was impossible.”
“No!” He reached for her and wrapped one arm around her. “Rose would never begrudge you happiness, Jackie. You and Pete together was all she wanted. She talked about the two of you all the time. She wouldn’t be upset by it, that’s not Rose.”
Jackie sniffed. “I wished you’d come back and take ‘er away again because then she’d be happy. She’d be gone and I wouldn’t see her, but at least she’d be happy.” She looked up at him, eyes filled with trust and hope. “You will make her happy won’t you, Doctor? You’ll try?”
A tender feeling overwhelmed him and he reached up to capture a tear as it slid down her cheek and vowed with both his hearts. “I promise.”
It wouldn’t be a tough promise to keep, he thought as he watched the guest flock into the great mansion later that day, so long as Rose didn’t need parties like this to keep her happy because this … this was domesticity as its worst and he was feeling twitchy just being here.
Maybe he’d be less tetchy if the waiting wasn’t driving him crazy. Pete had left that afternoon after a telephone call and Jackie had had to be there for the party girl. Martha had endeared herself to the family by proving that she knew how to do girly hairdos for Heather, Misha and Rachel, and Mickey and Jake had arrived to help out with the music and games.
The Doctor had paced the library and wished for something to blow up.
And not balloons.
The scores of little girls dressed in various shades of pink and white with frills and lace had driven him out of his hiding place to ensure that it was some sudden inexplicable alien invasion. The Barbie invasion, terra-forming the universe to pink and frilly.
Each gaily wrapped present presented to the birthday girl made her squeal and he was tempted to silence her with the sonic-screwdriver.
The rounds of pass the parcel made him want to just rip the paper open, musical chairs made him want to remove all the chairs and the least said about the rest of the games the better; he’d never look at a Piñata again the same way again.
As it was he wanted to eradicate the Spice girls in all dimensions and was plotting on exactly how to do that when Martha came over to him dressed in a blue shift, —notpink— thank Rassilon.
“Not enjoying yourself?” she said waving a pink cupcake under his nose.
He eyed it like it was a dangerous weapon. “This much pink is not healthy.”
Martha looked around her with a grin. “Oh, I don’t know. My niece had a party like this, very pink and girly. It was cute.”
He stared up at her. “Cute? This is … like some horrible, disgusting—hello Jackie, lovely party.”
Jackie rolled her eyes. “Is he complaining?”
Martha smirked and took a bite out of her cupcake. “Yup.”
“Knew it. Travels through space and time fighting Cyber-whatevers but scared of a little girl’s party.”
The Doctor pointed at one sugared up party girl who was dancing around in a pink tutu with a crown of feathers. “She’d be hung for that in J’ktorr VIII. Blasphemy.”
“We’ll be getting the karaoke machine out next.” Jackie pushed back the hysterical laugh that threatened to erupt. “Oh, and Heather wants to know if you’ll help her with the dance moves to the Time Warp?”
The Doctor actually paled. “I’ve forgotten something in the TARDIS … on another planet. In another dimension. A demon dimension. I’ve got to go. Shame. Sorry.”
He surged to his feet only to be caught by Mickey.
“Oh, you ain’t going anywhere. Consider this payback for the big red button.”
The Doctor gulped.
Pete sat in the black people carrier and watched as his daughter threw a dusty backpack onto the pristine floor.
Rose clambered into the car and slammed the door shut, leaning against the back of the leather seat and pulling her straw hat off in one smooth movement.
Pete examined her as she made herself comfortable and grabbed a bottle of water from the mini-bar in the back of the car.
She was much leaner than the last time he’d seen her, her muscles clearly obvious from all of that hiking and climbing up mountains. Her blonde hair was more sun-bleached and natural than the one that had come from a bottle and it hung in choppy strands across her face, like she couldn’t be bothered to have it cut properly and just hacked at it when it got in her way.
She had bags under her eyes and a weary slump to her tanned shoulders. Her long legs were encased in denim and she wore her favourite white tank top with slight rings of sweat from her time in the rainforest. Her combat boots were thick with mud and were making quite a mess of the floor.
Rose opened one eyes and fixed him with an amused look. “Guess.”
He nodded and sighed, offering her a glass of wine from the bar; she declined with a shake of her water bottle.
“So, what’s the emergency?” she asked, straight to the point. “We were on the trail of some radiation readings near the mountain ranges. They were pretty off the charts to be from Earth and I’ve had to leave my team to go in themselves.”
“Can they handle it?”
“Of course!” Rose said, affronted at the idea that her team were less than competent.
Pete shrugged. “Then they don’t need you just now. Your mum does.”
He hated it when she cross-examined him. Jackie had always said that it was something that she got from the Doctor; the intense stare and unwavering gaze, there was something in her expression that made you think she’d understand whatever you had to say and it made you want to say it.
Rose would make an excellent interrogator.
He avoided her eyes and sipped at his wine. “You know Jackie. If I told you her surprise then my life wouldn’t be worth living.”
Rose nodded once and then took a deep breath. “If she’s called me back for Heather’s party I’ll go mad.”
“Is it so bad at home, then?” He looked up and fixed her with an intent stare, a variation of the Tyler glare. “It’s not exactly a dump, so is it the company?”
Rose swallowed and looked away. “Course not.”
Rose just sighed and stared out at the passing scenery, lost in thought and Pete didn’t know what to say to her.
“So, have you been having fun in … wherever you were?”
“Heaps,” Rose smirked. “Fell down a mountain, faced off a couple of wild animals, fought off an over-eager college boy and saved the Earth from an alien invasion. You know—same old life; defender of the Earth.”
Pete didn’t know whether or not she was kidding and was just a little afraid to ask. “Right,” he settled on with a grin. “Almost home. One of the perks of the rich, eh?”
Rose just smiled.
Home? Not even close.
Home was four blue walls so far away from each other that sometimes you couldn’t see the opposite side. Home was blue eyes that changed into brown eyes and the smell of spices and engine oil.
Home was not a white clinical mansion with a yappy dog and a scullery maid. Rose didn’t even know what a scullery was.
She raked her hand through her hair and grimaced as she felt the grime embedded in her hair. Travelling through the dense forests left little time for personal hygiene and even less for thoughts, which was why she loved travelling so much. When she was knee deep in guerrilla warfare or climbing up the south face of some inactive volcano she wasn’t thinking about all the places she could be: she was living a fantastic life.
Semi-fantastic; missing only two vital components.
Rose shook her head free from thoughts which would do her no good whatsoever and stared out of the window recognising the landmarks as they got closer to the mansion.
She gave Pete a small smile and settled back. “Sorry, dad, you know me. I was really enjoying myself and hate to be dragged back when things get interesting. Those radiation readings we’d been monitoring were moving south and we’d tracked them over the mountain ranges just as mum called. Gave me a right start I’ll tell ya. I was expecting a big furry alien with gigantic teeth to jump up at me and then the Nokia tone went off. Thought I was on Trigger Happy TV.”
Pete frowned. “On what?”
Rose remembered that they didn’t have that in this world, for better or worse and she just smiled ruefully. “Never mind. Forgive me for being grouchy?”
He grinned. “Course I do, love. I know how it is.”
And he did. They exchanged a few more pleasantries and Rose told him how well they were tracking the odd readings when the driver announced that they had reached the mansion.
The iron gates were guarded by Torchwood security due to the extra guests for the party and it took a moment to check that Pete was who he said he was and they were ushered through. The car eventually pulled up right outside the open door and Rose all but jumped out of the seat, hating being confined in such a small space. She squinted into the sun and waved at the gardener.
Pete stepped out after her and eyed her somewhat bedraggled appearance. “So, you want to go and change, freshen up a bit first?”
Rose could hear the sounds of kids squealing and singing somewhere at the back of the house. “Heather’s party, yeah?”
Rose looked down at her rough attire and shrugged. “If Mum’s surprise was really so urgent, then it doesn’t matter how I look, yeah?”
She stepped towards the house and paused, something dragging her attention away for a moment. She could feel something tingle at the base of her spine; something urging her towards the back of the house. Rose usually identified that tingling with danger or anticipation—usually evident when she was in the middle of some alien crisis. She bit her lip, focussing on the feeling. It was definitely coming from out back, she stared through the house.
Pete darted in front of her. “But you have been in the jungle, pet, you could do with at least a brush.”
Rose stared him down. “Dad, I’m a mess. I’m going to be a mess until mum tells me what she wants and lets me get on with it. Can’t keep her waiting now, can I?”
She grabbed her rucksack from the floor and hoisted it onto her shoulders before heading through the front door.
okay, so it's mean to leave it there. Never said I was a nice person.