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Fic - "Natural Instinct"

April 21st, 2007 (01:29 am)
exhausted

current mood: exhausted
current song: Lucie Silvas - Like You Love Me

Title: Natural Instinct
Fandom: Doctor Who
Characters: Ten, Rose, and an infant guest star. Not really baby!fic - it depends on your definition of the term, I suppose. It does technically feature a baby, but he isn't theirs.
Rating: PG
Summary: They are pretending for a while, immersing themselves superficially in a world they can never truly be part of together, because this pseudo-parenting is the closest they’re ever going to get to the real thing.

A/N: This is the third of thirteen completely unconnected stories I plan to write during the course of series three, all of which will be Doctor/Rose centric and probably rather shippy, lest the certain deluge of Martha eps and fics to come allows us to forget how wonderful the two of them were together. I’ll post a new one a few days after each S3 episode is aired. I'm terribly sorry about the lateness of this one - I always intended to post mid-week, but the muse decided to take a little holiday this time.

The screams have been echoing through the TARDIS all night.

"Hush little baby, don’t you cry, Momma’s gonna sing you a lullaby…

"Not that I’m your mother, or anything," Rose Tyler hastens to assure the tiny, alien child cradled in her arms as she paces about the make-shift nursery before she continues with her song. "And if that lullaby doesn’t work, Momma’s gonna buy you a mocking bird…" Finally, his high-pitched whimpers slowly quiet down to a low murmur and some spit bubbles. This is the fourteenth nursery rhyme she’s tried and, finally, it seems to be working. Even if it probably is because the child is exhausted rather than because she’s finally done something right, it’s good enough for Rose.

She sighs, relieved, and slows her walking, continuing the gentle rocking of the child from side-to-side, thanking her lucky stars that she had a lot of younger cousins growing up and therefore has been left with some idea of how to care for a baby.

They – that is, her and the Doctor – had found the blue-tinged, winged infant on a war-torn planet in the Capella Archipelago. Armies, a hundred times worse than anything the human race could ever have imagined, marched ruthlessly across the land, turning entire star systems into dust as they destroyed all life they came into contact with. It was a two-hundred year war that had barely even begun, and they had ended up right in the middle of it.

The Doctor and Rose just landed in the wrong place at the wrong time, that’s all. Much as they love trouble, they aren’t stupid enough to stay in a war zone dictating an unhappy end for all. They were about to turn around and leave again, perhaps escape to the other side of the galaxy in three hundred years time and, just like always, pretend it had never happened. She’ll pretend she didn’t see Gallifrey burning in his eyes, and he’ll pretend he doesn’t feel guilty about yet another war he could not stop. They would have run, perhaps, hand in hand down a narrow alleyway, their pursuers angry villagers confused by the sudden appearance of the TARDIS, or even lain on a beach somewhere where the sand is blue and the sun is green, trying to forget the millions of deaths they had just so easily walked away from, moving on like always.

It would all have been so simple. But then Rose heard the shrill cries of a fearful child emanating from a pile of smoking rubble, mere metres from the spot they had first parked in, and she just couldn’t turn her back on the place.

They took the child on Rose’s insistence ("We can’t just leave him!") and the Doctor’s reluctant instinct. His dead mother lay at his side, her body almost completely covering his, an orphan to a war wrought by those who would never know the devastating effects their actions would enforce upon whole generations. There was no mistaking that he was orphaned, alone in the world, with long-dead corpses possessing the only ears to receive his cries. How could they abandon him to die? They might not be able to stop the war, but they could make a difference for him.

"We’re not keeping him," he had hastened to tell her, the second the child was well established in a TARDIS-provided cot, an accusing finger pointing in her direction as his eyes flicked between the two of them.

"I know," she’d said, a little too quickly, perhaps, already lost to the child. It was immediately obvious that she would move hell and high water to protect him. "But he hasn’t got anyone else. He’s all on his own, Doctor."

"That doesn’t mean he can stay here," the Doctor had retorted, warning himself as much as her. The sadness in her tone was enough to bring even him round to the idea.

"Not forever," Rose had said, quickly, rushing her point in her hope that he’ll agree. "Just until we can find somewhere for him. Somewhere better." What else could they do? It was either that or send him back to a home that didn’t even exist anymore.

The Doctor had been all for dumping at the first place they found and having done with it, always moving on, never getting attached, but Rose insisted that they owed it to him to give him a chance at a future. Quite how they owed him anything further after saving his life was beyond the Doctor, but he saw the fairness in what she was saying. Even though he knew the concern sprung purely from her attachment to the child, an attachment he had unsuccessfully sworn the instant she picked up the child that he wouldn’t let happen, he cannot deny her humanity, compassion. Besides, he realises now that he had been too late; Rose had been determined to protect that child from the very second she had first heard his cries. Her reproachful eyes on him as he suggested simply finding a "nice alien couple" to drop him off with had made him feel positively guilty, and he had enough of that already, thankyouverymuch.

There was only one solution, in the end.

"Looks like you’re stuck with us for a while, then, kiddo,"
he’d said eventually, eyeing the child warily. He had sighed, running his hand over his face as Rose grinned, delighted and triumphant. "Rule number one," he’d stated, in all seriousness. "Don’t wander off."

--

So now here they are, Rose rocking the thing gently into sleepy submission and the Doctor hiding out in the console room, using some sort of intergalactic Yellow Pages to hunt for an orphanage that measures up to Rose’s strict standards. If he’d thought her determined before, it was nothing compared to this.

"Not that I’m your mother, or anything."

"Now, why does that sound familiar?"

Rose spins around to find the Doctor in the doorway, eyeing her and the baby with a raised eyebrow and wide grin. Finally. The child must have been with them for close on twenty-four hours, and he’s barely said a word to either of them in all that time. She can’t understand why he’s so eager to get all this over with."How long have you been standing there?" Though she smiles warmly, there’s something in Rose’s voice he can’t quite place. He suddenly feels a little guilty for spending so long in the console room while she’s been left looking after an alien child all by herself.

"Long enough," he says lightly. "You’re a natural."

"D’you really think so? He’s been crying for hours; I thought the space police were gonna come and arrest me for child abuse…" The joke is weak, wrapped around the slightest hint of an accusation, but he’s forgiven all the same.


"Well…" the Doctor begins, dragging out the word, and Rose just knows that whatever comes next isn’t going to be complimentary. "Having experienced your singing first-hand, I think I can safely say that you’ve scarred the poor thing for life. He’ll need therapy for horrible repressed memories before he even hits his teens." His teasing eyes belie the serious line of his mouth, and she can’t help but laugh as she reprimands him.

"He’s settled now, though," the Doctor points out, inclining his head in the direction of the snuffling bundle in Rose’s arms. He takes a step closer, his earlier reluctance around the child evaporated. "Lucky kid. Reckon he couldn’t have landed himself with a more doting not-parent." A quick smile is flashed in her direction before all the Doctor’s attention is returned to the child, his voice a little distant as though his mind is somewhere else. "You’ll make a magnificent mother yet, Rose Tyler."

He’s intent on the baby, obviously paying no attention to the impact of his words. Rose blushes.

"Yeah, well…"

She’s pleased, but kids are a no-go subject area with them, and they both know his words are a lie. In her eyes, she is with him forever, children a long-forgotten impossibility. In his, she is dead before she even gets the chance to realise she wants them.

Sensing the awkwardness, the Doctor coughs and addresses the almost-sleeping bundle. "Hello, little fella," he says, peering into the blankets and receiving smiles and gurgles in response. "He likes me!" he exclaims, delighted, the previous few seconds of conversation wiped from his mind as he looks to Rose for confirmation. She decides to follow his lead.

"Yeah, I reckon he does." Her smile is soft, now, happy that he seems to be accepting the child despite the rocky start. "I wanna know why don’t I get a greeting like that. From either of you!" she laughs, prodding him in the shoulder with her spare hand, struggling to bring the teasing tone back after his earlier words. They don’t mean what she wants them to, she knows that. They never will, so there’s no point dwelling on it. She pushes them to the back of her mind, concentrating on the scene before her as the Doctor sticks his tongue out and crosses his eyes before turning back to her and straightening his face.

"It’s not my fault he prefers me," he defends, bordering on smug.

"You just said I was a natural!"

"You are. Just not as natural as me, it seems."

Rose rolls her eyes, suppressing a smile, and he notes dark circles gathering over her skin. It’s a shock, though he knows full well that she was up all night just watching the child, desperately sad for him. He’d wandered in numerous times during the early hours, telling her to get some sleep, but she hadn’t listened – she never does, not when she’s as stubbornly concerned over something as much as she is the welfare of this baby. She’s so loathe to put him down, to take her arms from around him. It’s almost as though she thinks she can make up for all he has lost as long as she doesn’t take her eyes off him for a single second.

"You’re tired," he states, tone suddenly soft, and the lightness evaporates from the air around them once again. "Let me take him for a while."

Rose hesitates for a second, remembering how dead set against this child he was not an hour ago, before he reaches over to take the baby from her. She hands him over with only a little reluctance, willing to give the Doctor a chance and in obvious need of a rest.

She flops down onto the sofa, evidently exhausted, lying horizontally across it and stretching her stiff arms. "Dunno how Mum managed all this on her own," she says, throwing an arm above her head and resting back on it, a little sleeping quirk he has come to recognise over the course of his time with her. He refrains from pointing out that she wouldn’t be nearly so tired if she’d just gone to bed like a normal person while the baby was sleeping last night. "She must’ve been a right saint."

"Now that I’d like to see," the Doctor quips, kicking her legs down and stealing the seat, still clutching the child. She drapes them resiliently back across the sofa as soon as he’s sat down, leaving him with a lap full of baby and leg. "St Jackie. She could have her own day and everything. Wait a minute…"

The Doctor eyes Rose suspiciously as she wiggles into a more comfortable position, sliding her legs across his. Something has obviously just occurred to him. "Why are you suddenly so keen to hand him over?"

It wasn’t like he’d been trying, but he knows if he’d wanted to play parents during that first night then he wouldn’t have got a look in. Somehow, for Rose, the plight of this tiny little alien creature has taken on a personal note, and she obviously wants to take full responsibility while he’s with them.

Her eyes are closed, her breathing slow, and the Doctor begins to think she’s fallen asleep until her mouth opens and she answers his question. "As you’re such a natural, I thought I’d let you change his nappy."

The Doctor chooses to ignore that, hoping she’s joking. "You should go to bed."

Rose makes a tiny noise of dissent, nudging him with her knee. "’S comfy here," she points out, turning her face defiantly into the cushions.

"You’d be more comfortable in bed," he retorts, but she doesn’t hear. It’s not long before the child drops off, too, and he’s left the only one still awake.

He smiles fondly and watches them for a while, but he can’t stay there all day; his arms are already growing numb from being kept in the same position for too long and he’s getting itchy feet from all the sitting still. He doesn’t know how Rose managed it for so many hours.

It’s time to be off somewhere, he knows. He’s beginning to feel quite cooped up, which is saying something when one lives on a ship so huge. Oh, they’ve stayed in for more than two days before, happy to do nothing but keep each other company, explore the ship and fiddle with things that don’t really need fixing, but it’s the idea that they can’t go anywhere that’s making him so restless. They can’t put the child in the kind of danger that their everyday life entails; he doesn’t need Rose to point that one out to him. He just hopes that all this is sorted before she develops any emotions beyond sympathy for the child and goodbyes are made too hard.

Carefully and awkwardly, he gets up while cradling the child in one arm and moving Rose’s legs off him with the other. Both stir slightly, but, to his relief, neither wake. A quick blanket covers them both, the baby now in his cot, before the Doctor returns to his hunt for an orphanage, more than a little scared of how content he could be with life this way. Just throw in a few more monsters and –

No.

They both know it can’t last forever.

--

Rose awakes a few hours later to a series of oddly melodic cooing noises mixed with the obvious giggling and gurgling of a young baby. Intrigued, she prises her eyes open to find the Doctor making strange noises to the delighted child as he raises him above his head and brings him back down again in one swift, repeated motion. It takes her a long, sleepy moment to realise that the cooing is baby talk, not some sort of language native to Capella, and she presses a hand to her mouth, stifling the urge to laugh.

The Doctor has brought the baby back down to body level and is giving him a very serious, very bouncy lecture on quantum consciousness before he notices Rose. He grins, slightly abashed.

"Carry on! Don’t mind me," she insists, obviously resisting the urge to gloat. "I knew you’d come around in the end!"

"What? This is important stuff! I wouldn’t be doing my duty if I didn’t inform the poor thing about the origins of the universe, now would I?"

Rose smiles fondly, shaking her head with silent incredulity, quite unable to believe how domestic he’s being. Even for this incarnation, baby talk is stretching it, no matter how often he spoke to K9 in the same way.

She levers herself up and heads for the kitchen, pausing on her way out to deliver a kiss to the baby’s head and the Doctor’s cheek. "Adorable. Both of you," she grins cheekily, and saunters out in the hope they’ve left something edible in the fridge this week. He can’t bring himself to tell her that he has four orphanages lined up already.

The Doctor raises his eyebrows at the boy. "Well. I don’t know about you, but I reckon we must’ve done something right. Now," he says, sharply, gazing at him with all the seriousness in the world, "next lesson: how to understand Earth women."

--

"I was a dad once." That’s what he said, all those weeks ago in the TARDIS, facing a child with untold powers. I was a dad once.

Rose recalls this, later that night, lying in her bed and staring at the ceiling (typical – now the baby sleeps, she can’t). She wonders if this is painful for him. If it is, he doesn’t show it, getting down on the floor and playing with a toy spaceship as though it’s as normal as making a cup of tea, and with twice as much enthusiasm. She even caught him singing earlier, though he stopped the second he heard her footsteps in the corridor outside.

It would certainly explain his initial avoidance of the child. How would she feel, she wonders, being forced to look after a completely random baby at the insistence of a companion who knows they can always get what they want if they try hard enough, if they bat their eyelids in just the right way? Especially after having been a parent, after destroying the right to that title with her own hand…

She shivers, suddenly guilty. She never once thought about the Doctor in all of this, and she realises now that she should have been considering him as much as, if not more than, the child. What has she done?

The thought preys on her mind. She can’t settle until she knows he’s not hurting, that he doesn’t blame or resent her for her thoughtlessness.

Decision made, then, she finally heaves her covers off and tiptoes nextdoor to the Doctor’s room, not bothering with formalities such as dressing gowns or slippers. He’s seen her in worse states.

His voice, inviting her in after her tentative knock, is surprised. It occurs to Rose as she steps through the arch that she’s never really knocked before, not since the very first time she came in here. Personal barriers are something they rather willingly left behind a very long time ago.

"Rose? Is everything all right?"

She finds the Doctor sitting up, reading in the near-dark and as alert as he is in the daytime, just as she expected. "You’ll ruin your eyes," she says with a smile, almost but not quite a response to his enquiry.

He knows something’s wrong, but he remains silent, peering at her intently instead of questioning her with words. The offer of a share of his covers, his hand cold but reassuring on her arm, would normally be encouragement enough for anything, but not tonight.

When it comes to it, Rose backs out and lets the subject drop before the words have had a chance to form on her tongue. She doesn’t want to push it. She doesn’t want to drag up painful memories he isn’t willing to relive. He knows she’s there, if he needs her, knows he can go to her in the middle of the night simply because he wants to talk, to recall a person he used to know or relive some fragment of his childhood, decry a past mistake, and that’s all that matters.

He’ll come to her when he’s ready.

So, she asks the standard question, expecting and receiving the standard answer.

"You alright? With all this, I mean?"

The Doctor looks at her, sitting crossed-legged at the foot of his bed, so desperate to understand what’s going on inside his mind, to comfort when he needs it, and yet so completely unwilling to press the issue in case she does more harm than good. He’s fully aware of what she’s asking, really, but he skirts around the issue, too, because that’s what they do best.

"Course I am." A slight frown. "Why wouldn’t I be?" The words themselves mean nothing, they both know that, but the fact that they were voiced at least lets him know that Rose is aware of how this could be for him, that she’s opened her eyes and realised what she’s been doing. They have some kind of shared understanding, now – one that he probably won’t act upon, but it’s there all the same. The smile he sends her is genuine.

When she leaves, shutting the door softly behind her, he wishes he hadn’t let her go.

--

All the poor thing seems to do is cry for his lost mother, and they’re not Earth-baby cries, either. They’re far shriller, longer and louder. The Doctor finds that it’s rather hard to retain his sympathy for the baby when he has a constant headache.

But this is what they do now. Get up, stop the crying, feed the baby, go to bed, all at times dictated by the child himself. He has no idea how humans do this for most of their lives. Even Rose, who seems to think of the child as the next messiah, is going stir crazy.

One night when she’s too exhausted to be roused, he sees to them both and stays in the room afterwards, ready to leap up and deal with the baby should he start screaming again. Rose wakes to find him in a chair at the foot of her bed, dismantling her radio with his sonic screwdriver and staring down at the parts as though they hold the answers to all the world’s greatest mysteries.

"Aren’t you cold?" she asks, inexpressibly grateful that he’s stayed in here all this time when he must have been bored out of his mind. Even if he has grown fond of the baby, that doesn't stop him – doesn’t stop her – from wanting to get on with their adventures, feel new air in their lungs and put their legs to good use in a spot of life-or-death running. Still. It won’t be for much longer…

"Time Lord biology." Of course. It’s the standard answer. She shifts over and lifts her covers all the same, and he scatters the radio bits across the floor to join her, glad of the company and conversation. He loves his screwdriver, but it’s not exactly talkative.

It’s one routine they don’t break.

--

Day four, and Rose asks the question the Doctor has always known was coming.

"Can’t we name him? It feels rude to keep saying ‘he’."

They are in some kind of living room, Rose slumped into a beanbag and the Doctor stretched out on the floor in front of her, his arms behind his head. He shoots a glance at the baby, who is currently playing with levitating lego (it’s amazing what you can find in the attic when you really try) and taking great delight in dropping pieces haphazardly across the Doctor’s stomach.

For once, he doesn’t like being right. So much for hoping they wouldn’t get attached. This is ridiculously domestic.

He brushes his thoughts away and debates for a couple of seconds over how best to answer her question. "Rude is my middle name," the Doctor replies eventually, nonchalant, as if this justifies everything. "But no. Naming something is the first step towards keeping it. Once you manage to persuade me to call the poor mite Jack, or Ben, or Zephaniah, there’ll be no getting rid of him."

Rose snorts with laughter and struggles to appear scandalised. "Zephaniah? I’d never be so cruel!"

"You think of a better name, then," he sniffs, and she wonders if he’s been harbouring secret hopes of calling the poor thing Zephaniah all along.

"Alright, I will." She stands and thinks for a couple of seconds, gaze fixed on the baby playing on the floor between them. A careful look of manufactured innocence slowly replaces the determined set of her jaw. Her eyes twinkle mischievously, giving her away. "What ’bout your name?"

The Doctor eyes her cautiously. "What about it?"

"You said think of something better, and I did. Why can’t we name him after you?"

"Beeecause…I thought we agreed we weren’t naming him at all?"

Rose waves a lazy hand, and the baby’s golden eyes follow it, transfixed. "Go on. You know you want to."

"Doctor? You want to call a child Doctor?" he asks in horror, craning his neck back to look at her fully. "Rose, believe me when I say, it’s one of the most unfortunate names you can have. All the questions, all the jokes… If one more person asks me, "Doctor who?" I might just regenerate from pure frustration." He runs a hand through his hair, pulling it up from the roots and leaving it sticking out all over the place as if to demonstrate his point. "Why can’t anyone ever accept that it’s just the Doctor?"

"Probably because no-one’s ever really called that?" She mimes filling in a form. "Last name: Doctor. First name: the." He’s obviously not amused. She grins all the same. "Anyway. I didn’t mean that. Not Doctor." Rose laughs, as though this is the strangest name anyone could ever possibly consider giving to a child, and he finds himself a little offended. "You real name."

"Ooh no. No, no, no. Rose Tyler, you are not using that poor, innocent child to blackmail my real name out of me!"

She tilts her head to the side, making her eyes all big and round as though the thought never even occurred to her, and he pretends that he’s as far away from giving in as ever.

"And the puppy dog impression won’t work, either." For once, the Doctor adds mentally.

"Fine," she pouts. "I’ll call him Zephaniah and have done with it." The boy looks mortified, and she giggles, slightly ruining the effect of her threat. "Unless…"

"What’s wrong with Zephaniah? What’s wrong with no name at all?" the Doctor whines.

"He’ll get picked on!" Rose protests, ignoring his second question. Evidently, she is bent on naming this child, even if she drives them all to the brink of madness in the process. The Doctor suddenly regrets his comprehensive collection of books. If she starts looking in the library for a dictionary of names… "Besides, I can’t even spell it, let alone him. We can’t do that to a kid."

"He doesn’t have to keep it forever, you know, Rose. They’ll probably call him something else as soon as we leave him."

Rose’s indignation sobers slightly at this reminder that they’re going to have to let him go, name or no name, and soon. She’s been putting off visiting the orphanages, no matter how many the Doctor suggests, but she knows she’ll have to give in eventually. The Doctor’s right.

Apparently, though, he’s become more attached to the child than he’s been letting on. The last few seconds of thought have, for him, been filled with names, and he thinks he’s finally found one she’ll approve of.

"Pete," he suggests quietly, and all of a sudden she’s not quite equal to meeting his dipped gaze.

"Thought you didn’t wanna name him," Rose says softly, surprised that he’s taking this seriously and eventually looking up with slightly shining eyes. Despite her words, there’s no hint of accusation in her tone. She straightens up after a second, peering as intently at him as she had been the baby, an unspoken thank you shimmering in the air between them. "Nah," she concedes eventually, still looking at him, "he’s not a Pete."

"What is he, then?" the Doctor asked, resigned to the fact that she’s going to name the child come hell or high water. He might as well be helpful about it. "We have to decide on something, or I’ll be tempted to carry on calling him The Baby."

She swallows. "What about…" She pretends to think for a second, but it’s obvious she already has a name picked out. "Bob?"

The Doctor hopes that was an attempt to lighten the mood rather than a serious suggestion. "Bob?! Rose, if we ever have children, remind me not to let you name them."

She decides not to look into that one too deeply and keeps with the simple reply. "Yeah. Bob."

"…Bob? As in the builder?"

"As in the builder."

The Doctor is scandalised, obviously wondering how she can feel that Zephaniah is a cruel name when she’s had designs on "Bob". "I’m going to get the Bob the Builder theme tune stuck in my head everytime I look at him!" he splutters, incredulous.

Rose just grins. "’S not my fault you insisted on watching CBeebies for three days in a row to learn all the words, is it?"

"But…Bob the Builder’s an alien!"

"So’s he!" Rose protests, pointing at the child, not really taking in what’s been said. And then…she sits up suddenly. "Wait, what? Seriously?"

--

He’s with them for about a week, in the end.

The Doctor does eventually give in and allow Rose to call him Bob. It’s difficult not to, really, when she refuses to call the child anything else and when he stays defiantly silent and still whenever the Doctor throws another name in his direction. He’s been around Rose far too much.

Bob goes out with them a few times, in-between orphanage visits when they can be sure it’s safe, to parks and circuses and zoos across the universe. They even take him to Jackie’s, once, and she nearly has a heart attack when Rose turns up at the door with a baby in her arms and the Doctor’s hand at her waist. That's a slap he won’t forget in a hurry.

They even try out public domesticity once, though not intentionally – they’re forced to take Bob into a Martian Tescos ("Galactic monopoly," the Doctor says, disgusted, when he sees the sign) when they run out of milk and it becomes clear that neither Bob nor Rose will be left behind. The woman behind the till mistakes them for his parents ("He yours? You’re looking good on it. Which one’s he get the hair from, then?"), and they don’t correct her. They are pretending for a while, play-acting at mother and father, immersing themselves superficially in a world they can never truly be part of together, because this pseudo-parenting is the closest they’re ever going to get to the real thing.

They visit twenty-seven space orphanages, most of which even the Doctor turns his nose up at. Rose categorically refuses the rest on the grounds that they’re a few degrees too cold ("Not for a Capellian," he informs her, but she doesn’t care), because the food looks horrible and, once, because the owner’s feet are too big.

Eventually, the Doctor finds somewhere appropriate and even Rose acknowledges that keeping the child for any longer would be a bad idea. His skin tone has evened out to a more human-looking shade – a product of being around Rose so much, the Doctor says, but she has read up on Capellian children, and it turns out that their blueness fades within a few weeks of birth anyway – but his eyes are still burning gold. His wings are as conspicuous as ever, and always there is that urge to be off, away, to dive back into the kind of life no-one should ever knowingly take a child into. He doesn’t belong with them. He never could.

--

Children are a pain, Rose had said. Right little terrors, the same day the Doctor had admitted he was once a dad, but they both know it’s a cover act. She’s pretending that she’ll never want that kind of life for his sake, for the sake of what little future they have together, and it hurts them both. Rose is the caring type. If it wasn’t for him, he has no doubt that children would be high on her list of priorities. She’s so young now, but he can see it all so easily in her future. He’s certain that the day will come when she’ll want children of her own, want one of the few things he simply cannot give to her.

Rose has convinced herself that this isn’t what she wants, that children aren’t on her agenda anymore. Children are not, can never be, part of her life with the Doctor. She wants to hang onto this life more than anything else in the entire world, but she can’t help the fondness she’s developed for Bob. She even thinks she might miss the crying.

Oh, she knows they can’t keep him, and she’s not even going to ask – she wouldn’t dream of tying the Doctor down like that, or of condemning an innocent child to a life full of such death and devastation, beautiful as their adventures can be – but she’s still indescribably sorrowful to see him go.

She doesn’t know why it should be like this. They’ve come across children before, plenty of them, but she’s never become so attached so instantly. The Doctor, however, has a sneaking suspicion that Bob’s presence on the TARDIS allows her to, on some level, subscribe to her little fantasy of a perfect, happy family. Growing up without a father and having seen both parents die on their travels together, Rose immediately identified with the parentless Bob, recognising within seconds that they could give him something she herself had never had.

Quite apart from all that, Bob represents an ideal between the two of them, all the things that they both want on one level or another but will never ask for. Marriage, children, commitment. A small promise of forever. There are parts of both of them, certainly, that crave these things, but it will never be enough to prompt them into acting on it. Even if the danger of their life together didn’t stand in the way, even if it was what they really wanted, nothing would make their genes match. He told her so, once, not long after she first came on board, listing all the things he couldn’t give her and all the reasons why she should go home. He’s surprised, now, infinitely surprised, that she stayed with him, that she so willingly gave up all of her human dreams and desires for a short, painful, dangerous existence with him. Bob, along with all that he represents, is just another thing that she’s going to have to let go of for him, another thing that they’ll pretend to forget about and never dare to mention again.

--

Rose buries her head in his vibrant hair, kissing his forehead in a resigned farewell.

This is what it has come to; what it was always going to come to. She knows it’s for the best.

"He’s gonna be alright, isn’t he?" Rose asks, with the air of one trying to make a statement rather than ask a question, something in her tone and manner of expression failing her.

"He’ll be fine," the Doctor says, as she reluctantly passes the baby on to the matronly-looking official. She looks doubtful. "I promise. He’s in good hands here, and this is where he’s meant to be."

"I know," she says, but it’s obvious she doesn’t want it to be so. Not yet. In a few days’ time, she’ll see the sense of it all, realise that this is something they could never have continued together, but for now she feels entitled to mope a little.

"Rose," he begins, gentle but earnest, "we can’t – "

"Keep him. I know."

"Do you, though? Do you really?"

Rose nods. "We both know this isn’t the kind of life we’re ever gonna lead together," she says with a sad smile, and the matter is closed. The Doctor doesn’t think he’s ever seen her so upfront about anything surrounding the nature of their relationship before.

The matron begins to carry Bob off, but Rose stops her with a light touch to the arm. "Sorry. Could you hang on, just give us a sec? We won’t be long; I promise."

The Doctor’s frowning at her, wondering what’s stopping her now, clearly thinking she’s found another excuse to keep Bob with them. He feels rather ashamed, then, when she says, "Aren’t you even going to say goodbye to him, Doctor?"

She resists the urge to hold the child, hold both of them, for one last time as the Doctor takes an awkward step forwards. He won’t say a proper goodbye, of course he won’t, but he never got even this much with his own children. She wants to give him this opportunity at least.

He takes it, in his own way. The Doctor doesn’t do farewells, goodbyes or closure, especially with those he won’t admit to being fond of, but he does quickly and awkwardly ruffle the child’s expanse of purple hair, letting his hand linger a little longer than necessary. He doesn’t need words, not when his mind is always so very full of them.

An abrupt step back again, and that’s it. His eyes are fixed on some indefinite point in the distance as the matron begins to clip-clap away down the corridor in her funny metal heels, Bob whimpering a little as he is taken from all he’s known for the past few days and placed in the path of a better life. With him goes the whole, tempting façade, the display of a life they revelled in while knowing it would end, but which neither of them truly want every single day.

The hand in the corner of the Doctor’s vision disappears only for him to feel it a moment later in his coat pocket, searching gently for his fingers. He grasps it, though whether for Rose’s comfort or his own he can’t say, and looks back to her as the faint tapping noise of the shoes slowly disappears down the silver corridor. An encouraging smile tugs at the corner of her mouth, telling him that she finally accepts what he’s always known – the child will be better off here.

Rose uses her free hand to wipe conspicuously at her eyes. "You’re right," she tells the Doctor, as he takes her in his arms, becomes the protector and carer once again, and they watch Bob disappear around the corner forever. "We should never’ve named him."

 

Comments

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Posted by: Teska Future (teskafuture)
Posted at: April 21st, 2007 02:13 am (UTC)
Sims Baby Romana

Awe, what a bittersweet fic, but quite an enjoyable read. *grin*

Posted by: Deborah (blaidd_wolf)
Posted at: April 21st, 2007 03:42 pm (UTC)
<3 paper

*snort* Oh god, is that a Ten/Rose Sims icon?! With an alien baby?! XD <3!!

Posted by: Teska Future (teskafuture)
Posted at: April 21st, 2007 09:15 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Rach (hippiebanana132)
Posted at: April 21st, 2007 07:18 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Teska Future (teskafuture)
Posted at: April 21st, 2007 09:16 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Kalleah (kalleah)
Posted at: April 21st, 2007 02:17 am (UTC)

In her eyes, she is with him forever, children a long-forgotten impossibility. In his, she is dead before she even gets the chance to realise she wants them.

I went into this with the expectation that baby with the Doctor and Rose = cute, but this story is laced with so much hope, unspoken tenderness and pain, and longing that I was taken rather off guard. Amazing.

He won’t say a proper goodbye, of course he won’t, but he never got even this much with his own children.

This got me in the gut. And of course, he doesn't say goodbye to Bob, but it makes the fact that he went back to say goodbye to Rose even more poignant.

Posted by: Rach (hippiebanana132)
Posted at: April 21st, 2007 07:20 pm (UTC)

Thanks! That's what I was going for :)

Posted by: theyellow_daisy (theyellow_daisy)
Posted at: April 21st, 2007 04:09 am (UTC)

Awww this was beautiful! So sweet but so sad at the same time. You had just the right mix of domestic!Doctor, and cute baaby fic, but this story was a lot more then that. Bob was so good for both the Doctor and Rose and I think it brought them an understanding of each other. And I'm glad they didn't name him Zephaniah either. This was really really sweet. Thanks for sharing!

Posted by: Rach (hippiebanana132)
Posted at: April 21st, 2007 07:27 pm (UTC)

And I'm glad they didn't name him Zephaniah either.
- LOL, me too! Thanks for commenting :)

Posted by: spastasmagoria (spastasmagoria)
Posted at: April 21st, 2007 05:55 am (UTC)

awwwwwww. and waaaaaa

Posted by: Rach (hippiebanana132)
Posted at: April 21st, 2007 07:29 pm (UTC)

*hands tissue*

Posted by: Dave, CK (dave7)
Posted at: April 21st, 2007 06:22 am (UTC)
Dr Who || Eight - dramatic pause

Oh, damn. This fic is... amazing. I don't really... I have no idea what to say. It's just amazing. It's happy and sad and funny and cute and it's making me feel everything all at once. I don't know how you're doing that, but I'm loving it. *g* Thanks for sharing. :)

Posted by: Rach (hippiebanana132)
Posted at: April 21st, 2007 07:30 pm (UTC)

Aww, thanks! :D

Posted by: waverly_place (waverly_place)
Posted at: April 21st, 2007 09:06 am (UTC)

"You’re right," she tells the Doctor, as he takes her in his arms, becomes the protector and carer once again, and they watch Bob disappear around the corner forever. "We should never’ve named him."

Oh man, that end line killed me. So sad. These fics are making me miss Rose more than I already did.

Posted by: Rach (hippiebanana132)
Posted at: April 21st, 2007 07:32 pm (UTC)

Oh dear. *grins* You should come and join me in my happy little bubble where nothing past the hugging in Fear Her ever actually happened. Bring chocolate!

Posted by: taliahrose (taliah_rose)
Posted at: April 21st, 2007 10:27 am (UTC)

Oh wow, this is lovlely, I could totally imagine David and Billie acting that out. Such a different spin on the traditional 'babyfic'. Well done!

Posted by: Rach (hippiebanana132)
Posted at: April 21st, 2007 07:35 pm (UTC)

Thanks :)
(Psst. Your icon literally made me go, "Guh")

Posted by: Bec (beckers87)
Posted at: April 21st, 2007 01:03 pm (UTC)

Aww that was so great!! Such a bittersweet fic there. That last line killed me. *sobs*
Fantastic fic. :D

Posted by: Rach (hippiebanana132)
Posted at: April 21st, 2007 07:38 pm (UTC)

Thank you!

Posted by: NP-Complete (np_complete)
Posted at: April 21st, 2007 02:28 pm (UTC)

Another very good, bittersweet story. These are all about domesticity so far -- domesticity and longing. Wistfulness and memory.

Posted by: Rach (hippiebanana132)
Posted at: April 21st, 2007 07:40 pm (UTC)

Hm! I hadn't noticed that before, but you're absolutely right. I think I can see a pattern emerging :P
Thanks for commenting!

Posted by: Deborah (blaidd_wolf)
Posted at: April 21st, 2007 03:45 pm (UTC)
Bob the builder; can we fix it? Bob the builder; YES WE CAN!
Ouch Daleks r meen. D:

First things first: My brother's name is Robert, so of course, ever calls him Bob the Builder. Same with my cousin, though he usually goes by Rob.

Second: Awwww! ;__; So sweet and cute, but my heart hurt a bit at the end!

<3

Posted by: Rach (hippiebanana132)
Posted at: April 21st, 2007 07:47 pm (UTC)
Re: Bob the builder; can we fix it? Bob the builder; YES WE CAN!

Hehe! Yeah, I've a cousin called Bob, too, but he's unfortunately about twenty years old, so I'm still waiting for someone to say the inevitable :P
Thanks for commenting! :D

Posted by: KathyB (kb91)
Posted at: April 21st, 2007 04:46 pm (UTC)
DW Sepia Hug

I am quite in awe of your talents. You are very, very good at this. This story had everything -- laughter, tears, joy, sadness. And a deeply romantic connection running beneath it all. I love the way you write them and wish your stories were canon. :)

Posted by: Rach (hippiebanana132)
Posted at: April 21st, 2007 07:49 pm (UTC)

*blushes* Thank you!

Posted by: megoddess2 (megoddess2)
Posted at: April 21st, 2007 06:01 pm (UTC)

Aw, I just read all three stories, and can I just say, they are absolutely gorgeous. So bittersweet, heartbreaking in places, and then you throw in somethng like this:

Rose just grins. "’S not my fault you insisted on watching CBeebies for three days in a row to learn all the words, is it?"

which is just so...Doctorish! definately mem-ing all three

Posted by: Rach (hippiebanana132)
Posted at: April 21st, 2007 07:50 pm (UTC)

Thank you! :)

Posted by: Helen (shootingstars88)
Posted at: April 21st, 2007 09:24 pm (UTC)

Fantastic, as I'm glad to say I'm come to expect from you. It was beautiful and bittersweet but still made me laugh a few times (particularly the conversation about his name and the martian tescos!)
I really do look forward to your series every week :)

Posted by: Rach (hippiebanana132)
Posted at: April 22nd, 2007 12:31 am (UTC)

Thank you!! :D

Posted by: Milady Hawke (miladyhawke)
Posted at: April 28th, 2007 05:53 pm (UTC)
BOB? Bwahahaha!

Aww... this fic really gutted me. I was expecting cute, fluffy babyfic (and it was cute, don't think I've ever seen anything so cute as domestic!Doctor), but it was amazing because it was incredibly different from other babyfics I've read - there's just so much poignancy and bittersweetness in here. You're going the realistic route and exploring the heartbreak of the whole situation. I really think this could be the babyfic for people who don't normally like that genre. You handle it with such sensitivity, which is great, because the other realistic babyfics I've read were nothing but an exercize in proving how wrong the idea would be *sigh*

This part killed me:

He’s intent on the baby, obviously paying no attention to the impact of his words. Rose blushes.

"Yeah, well…"

She’s pleased, but kids are a no-go subject area with them, and they both know his words are a lie. In her eyes, she is with him forever, children a long-forgotten impossibility. In his, she is dead before she even gets the chance to realise she wants them.


And this hurt so much, but it's so true:

Children are a pain, Rose had said. Right little terrors, the same day the Doctor had admitted he was once a dad, but they both know it’s a cover act. She’s pretending that she’ll never want that kind of life for his sake, for the sake of what little future they have together, and it hurts them both.

He’s surprised, now, infinitely surprised, that she stayed with him, that she so willingly gave up all of her human dreams and desires for a short, painful, dangerous existence with him.

Posted by: Rach (hippiebanana132)
Posted at: April 28th, 2007 09:15 pm (UTC)
Re: BOB? Bwahahaha!

Thank you very much!

Yeah, I'm not keen on baby!fic, so I was really surprised that I actually wrote this. It's good to know that it's not just the usual cliché - cute as they can be, that wasn't what I was going for :)

Posted by: Milady Hawke (miladyhawke)
Posted at: April 28th, 2007 09:45 pm (UTC)
Re: BOB? Bwahahaha!

Posted by: The Doctor's Rose (rjrog77)
Posted at: May 31st, 2007 11:48 am (UTC)

That's a slap he won’t forget in a hurry.

This line made me chuckle. Excellent, bitter-sweet story; thanks for writing it.

Posted by: Rach (hippiebanana132)
Posted at: May 31st, 2007 02:54 pm (UTC)

Thanks for reading! :)

42 Read Comments
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