Title: A Girl’s Best Friend
Timeline: Three years after Journey’s End.
Synopsis: Tony Tyler has a couple of ideas for what a certain half-human, half-Time Lord could get Rose for Christmas.
The first time he’d been asked to babysit, the Doctor had been excited and scared. He’d never really been left on his own with a child…a child who had been entrusted to his care. But, it had been brilliant. And the next time he was asked, he had nearly bounced with excitement as he hurriedly accepted.
That had been three years prior.
And he still loved babysitting Tony Tyler as much as he did that first time.
“I think she’d like that!”
The Doctor, who was called ‘John’ by the boy more often than ‘Doctor’, looked down at the five-year-old who was holding his hand. “Who’d like what?”
Tony rolled his eyes and pointed towards a shop window with his free hand. “Rose, silly! She’d like that.”
The Doctor looked into the window and chuckled. “Yeah, I’m sure she’d like a ginormous box of robotic tinker toy bits and pieces.”
Tony sighed dramatically. “You could make her something out of it. Mum says you used to be a genius who could make anything out of nothing…”
“Still am. Still can.” The Doctor offered the boy a smile. “But, I already have something for your sister for Christmas.”
Tony’s eyes lit up. “Did ya get her a ring?”
“What?” The Doctor’s eyes widened. “What? Why would you ask that? What do you even know about rings and relationships and – ”
“Mum says that you should just go ahead and give her a ring. Says you’ve been playing house for long enough and you should just make it all legal and stuff.” Tony interrupted, swinging their linked hands between them. “What does she mean, Uncle John?”
The Doctor sighed softly, lifting his left hand and scratching the back of his head. “I rarely know what your mother means, Tony. Why do you insist on calling me ‘Uncle John’?”
“Rose said you’re pretty much my brother.” Tony offered as nothing like an explanation.
“Yeah, and…well, I pretty much am. Which begs the obvious question of why you call me ‘Uncle’, but I mean…why ‘John’ and not ‘Doctor’?”
“ ‘Uncle Doctor’ sounds funny.” Tony giggled, grinning up at the Doctor. “And so does ‘Brother John’. ‘Sides…you act like a uncle and not a brother.”
“Fair enough…” The Doctor replied, giving the boy a wink. “But, to answer your question…no, I did not get her a ring. I got her something much better than a ring.”
“Lots of things are better than a ring.” Tony replied, glancing across the street. “Can we get ice cream?”
“Ice cream? It’s…well, not snowing, but it’s bloody cold. And you want ice cream?”
“Uh-huh. Can we?”
“Don’t you want to know what I got your sister for Christmas?” The Doctor asked, his tone laced with amusement as Tony dragged him towards the ice cream shop.
“Nope. It’s a surprise, yeah? If you tell me then it’s not a surprise anymore. And Rose likes surprises!”
“Yeah, she does.” The Doctor stumbled over the curb, causing Tony to laugh. “Oi! Could’ve broken my neck then!”
“Didn’t hit your neck, Uncle John! Coulda broken your toe, though.”
“Funny.” The Doctor stated, shaking his foot before testing his weight on it. “You’re a funny boy…”
“Yep! Mum says I’m funny like Daddy.”
The Doctor smiled affectionately and pushed the door, holding it open for Tony. “I think you’re funny like Rose.”
Tony let go of the Doctor’s hand and ducked under his arm. “You love Rose.”
The Doctor paused, the simple statement causing his smile to grow. He watched as Tony ran over to the case displaying no less than forty flavours of ice cream to choose from.
He nodded slowly to no one in particular and stepped into the shop, grinning as Tony charmed the woman behind the counter into a spoonful of six different flavours to try.
* * *
“What did you and Tony do this afternoon?” Rose asked, plopping onto the couch and dropping her feet onto the Doctor’s lap.
“Took him into London proper to
see the Christmas displays. I know that I wasn’t around for Christmas in the
other universe, but…I don’t have any memories of
Rose grinned, wiggling her toes. “Christmasy?”
The Doctor took the hint and reached down, wrapping his long fingers around her left foot. “Yeah, you know…all into the Christmas spirit and such. The shops here are always decked out in Christmas gear…most of them extremely decked. I mean…it’s good for the kids…”
“You love it…” Rose smiled, sighing as his thumb rubbed along her insole.
“Well, yeah…” He agreed, eyes sparkling. “But, then…I’m just a big kid, right?”
“Oh, you’re growing up.” She countered with a chuckle. “So, just went to look at the Christmas decorations?”
“Nope. Had ice cream too.” At Rose’s raised eyebrow, he laughed and turned his attention to her right foot. “I know, I know…it’s winter, it’s cold…but he wanted ice cream. And he was so adorable about it…how could I say no?”
Rose thought, not for the first time, that her Doctor would make a brilliant father one day. She pushed that thought aside and cleared her throat.
“Do any shopping?”
“Nah, not really. Tony bought a few things, but I resisted.”
“Really? You didn’t buy anything?”
“Nope. After I turned down Tony’s suggestion of buying you a box of bits and pieces that you can make a hundred different metal toys out of, he said I should buy you a ring.” Rose’s eyes widened, but the Doctor ignored her reaction. “But, he jumped off that bandwagon once he realized that I’d already procured your gift. Well, that and he spotted the ice cream shop.”
“A ring?” Rose asked quietly.
The Doctor sighed heavily. “Apparently, he’s overheard Jackie saying that we should make it legal…and apparently things are made legal with a ring.”
“What did you say?”
“Changed the subject. I’m good at that. Besides, he’s five years old…he doesn’t need to know that I’ve asked numerous times only to be rejected each time.”
Rose rolled her eyes. “Rejected? Really?”
“You’re not wearing a ring.” He pointed out, lifting her foot to place a kiss on her big toe. “A man…well, a half-human, half-Time Lord…could start thinking that a woman doesn’t want to spend the rest of her life with him…”
She heard the teasing in his tone, but she could see the truth in his eyes. He didn’t completely believe what he just said, but…there was a part of him that wondered.
“I made my choice, Doctor.” She whispered.
He chuckled softly. “That choice was made for you.”
“Initially, yeah. But, here we are…three years on…the choice became mine. I didn’t go looking for him, did I? Not again. I could’ve…and I could’ve done it. But, I have you. I don’t need a ring to know that I’m going to spend the rest of my life with you…you know?”
“I know.” He replied, dropping her foot and reaching over to cup her cheek. “I’d still give you one though. I know that I don’t need to give you one…but, the offer’s there if you ever change your mind, yeah?”
“Yeah.” She smiled, reaching up to run her fingers through his hair.
She wondered briefly what the other Doctor, the full Time Lord…she wondered what he was doing. She wondered if he still had really great hair. She didn’t think he did…she had a feeling that his hair wasn’t nearly as fantastic as it had been.
She’d asked the man she shared her bed with, the man who’d been left here with her who she’d found to be very easy to fall in love with…she’d asked him when he woke up suddenly one night, drenched in sweat and gasping. Not exactly asked about his hair, but…about him. The Doctor.
He’d shaken his head sadly, tears welling in his eyes. And she’d comforted him in the realization that the Doctor had regenerated for whatever reason. He wasn’t sure what had happened, but he was sure that the Doctor was different now. And she’d held him.
Not the other way around…and that was a surprise to her.
“His hair is nowhere near as awesome as mine.” The Doctor stated, breaking her thoughts.
Rose’s eyes sparkled with amusement. “Awesome?”
He grinned and leaned over, brushing his lips across hers. “You know it’s awesome. Brilliant, superb, wonderful, magnificent, astonishing…”
“Could mean alarming as well, you know. Awesome is one of those funny words…both ends of the spectrum, that one.”
The Doctor licked his lips and gave a gentle shake of his head. “You, Rose Tyler, are not alarmed by my hair…”
“Nope. I’m really, really not…” She replied, slipping her hand to the back of his head and pulling him back down.
They didn’t talk much about his hair, or anything else for that matter, for quite a while.
* * *
The following morning she awoke to find the Doctor watching her intently, a smile plastered on his face. She covered her mouth as she yawned and then smiled back at him.
“I want to give you your Christmas present.”
Rose furrowed her brow and sat up, brushing her hair back from her face. “How long did I sleep?”
The Doctor glanced at the clock. “Seven hours and thirty-eight minutes.”
“Yeah, so…there’s still two weeks ‘til Christmas.” She stated, leaning over to place a soft kiss on his cheek.
“Yeah, but I kinda need to give it to you now.” He answered with a grin before sliding out of the bed and tossing her robe onto the bed. “Come on!”
“Why are you so excited?” She asked cautiously, climbing out of bed and slipping into her robe. She arched an eyebrow when he tossed a pair of her trainers over to her. “And…why do I need to put shoes on?”
“Because we have to go outside.” He replied, tying the belt of his robe before grabbing the blue pair of Converse All-Stars that Tony had bought him for the day they’d chosen to celebrate as the Doctor’s birthday. “Come on, Rose…”
Rose laughed as he put on his shoes, but didn’t bother to tie the laces. “You look ridiculous…”
“Yep, so do you. Come on!”
With that, he reached over and grabbed her hand, pulling her towards the door. “I promise, you’ll love it!”
“I’d better…” She chuckled, having no other choice but to follow him.
* * *
Rose stood in the doorway of the garage, mouth open in shock. “Oh my God...”
The Doctor shifted nervously, biting his lip as he looked at her. “Rose?”
She stepped inside, closing the door behind her. “When? How? Is it…real? I mean…”
“Yeah.” He sighed, reaching out to run his fingers along the blue painted wood frame. “She’s real. I mean, she’s…functional. She works perfectly and…she’s ours.”
“You built a TARDIS…”
He shook his head and offered her a tender smile. “They’re not built, they’re grown…remember?”
Rose moved to stand next to him, lifting a trembling hand to touch the door of the TARDIS. “I don’t understand. How?”
“A piece of coral from his TARDIS.” The Doctor replied softly. “He…gave me a piece before we landed here. Said…he said that I could grow one, that it’d take time, but…I could grow one for you. For us…so that we could travel again.”
Rose met his eyes, confusion shining brightly in hers. “He’d already decided to leave us here?”
“No. Well, yeah…but, it wasn’t what you’re thinking. I mean, he didn’t leave us here because he didn’t want you with him. He did. Want you with him, I mean. Jackie said that it looked like his hearts were broken when you kissed me. He loved you, Rose. Probably still does…you’re not all that easy to get over, after all…”
“Shut up.” She whispered, leaning against the TARDIS door. “I’m not angry with him…not anymore, anyway. Got over that years ago. Why did he decide to leave us here?”
The Doctor swallowed and took a deep breath. “He knew his song was ending. Didn’t want you to have to go through another regeneration, learn a new him. Not when you loved that version as much as you did. He loved you too much to put you through that again.”
“What about you?”
He threaded his fingers through her hair, tucking a strand behind her ear. “I was born loving you, Rose Tyler.”
Rose smiled, silent for a few moments before tilting her head towards the TARDIS. “How long did it take?”
“I…started growing her the day after we arrived here.” When she looked around the garage, he gave her a crooked grin. “Not here, obviously… ‘cause it was a surprise and all. The, uh…the chameleon circuit works in her. She can be whatever you want her to be…”
Rose looked up and smiled as the lamp on top of the TARDIS glowed brightly. “You okay if we keep her like this? I’m kind of partial to blue police boxes…”
The Doctor smiled and snapped his fingers. As the door swung open, Rose grinned.
“Well, that’s new.”
“Would you like to come inside, have a look around? Maybe go on a little trip?”
Rose looked down at herself and then stroked her fingertips along the lapel of his robe. “We’re not really dressed to go on a trip.”
“Fully stocked wardrobe…we can get dressed on the way.”
Rose held the tip of her tongue between her teeth as she grinned at him. Without another word, she slipped inside and ran up the ramp towards the console.
He followed her in, closing the door behind him before strolling up the ramp after her. He leaned against the coral console and ran his fingertips along the frame.
“Like it, then?”
She turned towards him, positively beaming at him, and then launched herself into his arms. “Best present ever!”
He held her tightly, sighing when he felt her lips against the side of his neck. He remembered hearing Jackie say that diamonds were a girl’s best friend. Hearing the TARDIS emit a hum easily recognizable as contentment when Rose giggled happily, there was no way he’d agree with that.
His Rose would choose a TARDIS over a diamond ring any day. And he’d learned in the past three years that Rose would choose him over a TARDIS, if she had to.
But, now…she didn’t have to make that choice.
He reached over and flipped a switch, grinning brightly as the rotor began to move and green light bathed the room. As the TARDIS dematerialized, Rose slipped her arms back around him and enthusiastically announced her love for him through a passionate kiss.
And just like that, a new chapter in their lives in a parallel universe began.
He just hoped that it would involve a lot of running. He’d missed the running.