Part II of III
Rating: All Ages
Pairings or Characters: The Doctor and Rose (Nine, Ten and Ten II...kind of. It's tricky.), Wilfred Mott, Tony Tyler, others
Summary: Rose works for Henrik's. She needs a Santa, pronto. AU of Miracle on 34th Street...with a twist.
Author's Notes: Written for the Bad Wolf Rising Christmas Ficathon, but not typical BWR fare. Don't pitchfork me Gutterites. It's clean.
Part I | Part II | Part III
Rose felt a wave of relief wash over her as she learned from the nurse that Mrs. Smith truly was fine, and was to be kept overnight solely for observational purposes. She had nasty bruises on her thigh and hip, and would be sore for a few days; but all things considered, the elderly woman had been fortunate.
The trio left the hospital, and prepared to pile into John's boxy, blue Volvo. That particular scent of cold and impending snow met their noses as they hurried down the pavement.
"Shotgun!" Tony called.
"Sorry little man, you're not tall enough for the front," Rose calmly corrected him, steering him into the backseat.
Once everyone was secured, the Doctor pulled from the kerb. Heavy, wet snow clumps were now audibly thudding against the windshield, and the windshield wipers swished rhythmically on an intermittent setting. Tony was mesmerized by the sight of the falling snow spotlighted under the street lamps. Snow was rare in London. In fact, Rose was not sure that her little brother had ever even seen a snowfall. The weather presenter had promised, that by morning, there would be at least six inches on the ground, perhaps even more.
From time to time, the Doctor glancing sideways at his blonde passenger, who seemed preoccupied. She hadn't spoken a single word since leaving the hospital.
"Penny?" he asked.
"Hmm?" she replied absently.
"You seem a billion miles away," prodded the Doctor.
"Actually, I'm worried about Wilfred Mott — Santa. You don't think he could be going potty do you?"
"Naw, he's a bright one," the Doctor said with confidence. "Definitely no mental illness. I would know, too. Been around him enough"
"You talk like you know him."
"I do. Have for years. Well…for a while anyway. I don't know that he recognizes me, though."
"Why? Have you had some plastic surgery done or something? Dyed your hair? I know, you used to be ginger, didn't you?" Rose joked.
The Doctor sighed a bit wistfully, letting out a quiet, "No, not ginger…" then returned to the conversation. "It's more he knows of me than actually knows me."
"Oh well, that makes things one thousand percent more clear," she said facetiously. Rose, who had been looking out the window without really seeing where they were, up until now, realized their destination. "Hey, I thought you said we were going out to dinner? I'm starving."
"I never said going out to dinner, I said have dinner. I happen to be an excellent cook, Rose Tyler. Learned from the masters." The Doctor jumped out of the car, and bounded up the steps which led to their block of flats.
Dinner was delicious, the Doctor proving that his boasting was not unfounded. Without so much as glancing at a cookbook, he had prepared a satisfying supper of fish with lemon and herb butter baked in parchment, sautéed vegetables and steamed rice. Even Tony, who usually turned his nose up at anything "fishy" had tucked in, cleaning his plate.
The young boy was now stretched out, on the soft, brown leather sofa, sleeping deeply. The Doctor and Rose were still at the dining table, seated across from each other. The bottle of fine, red wine was nearly empty, and the votive candle was flickering between the two of them. The twinkling lights on the Christmas tree provided the only other light in the room, and the rainbow of colored lights bounced off of the ceiling and reflected in the large windows. According to nine o'clock news break on the radio, at least four inches had already accumulated, with another six expected by morning.
One of those new, small advertising Zeppelins drifted low in the sky visible through the window. The marquee flashed a gaudy advert: One Day Blowout Sale Tomorrow Only at Torchwood's!
"So my parents never came home that night..." Rose wrapped up the story of her parents tragic deaths. She traced the rim of the crystal goblet, and then picked up the glass and took a sip. "After sixteen months, I was legally advised to make the decision to have them declared legally dead so that their estate could be settled, and Tony provided for." Rose looked out the window and saw the Zeppelin, rolled her eyes, but was brought back to reality when she felt a warm and gentle touch on the back of her hand.
"I'm so, so sorry." The Doctor encompassed Rose's small hand with his long, strong fingers, and squeezed.
They both felt it, a surge of warmth... Rose lifted her eyes and looked into the eyes of the man sitting across from her. His eyes were already trained on her. She swallowed, allowed her gaze to be held captive for a moment, and then looked away, back out the window trying to focus on the falling snow, but finding it difficult not to feel his eyes still burning into her face.
"Looks...looks like school will be cancelled tomorrow if it keeps snowing like this. I have plenty of vacation time that I haven't taken... Maybe I'll take some of it to stay home with Tony."
"I meant what I said, Rose," he said earnestly. "I'd be more than happy to watch him for you." The Doctor's calm voice pulled Rose's focus back onto him.
"What do I know about you, John? I mean really know about you." Rose pulled her hand away, regretful, but believing it necessary. "I don't understand why you are so interested in my little brother." Rose shook her head, worry creeping into her voice.
"Maybe…it's because I'm interested in his big sister." The Doctor picked up his glass, swirled the wine around and inhaled the plummy scent of the Cabernet before sipping, and then looked back at Rose before setting the glass down. "I'm a good man, Rose Tyler. You need to believe that."
Rose looked down at the table. "I never said I thought poorly of you, John."
The Doctor winced internally at the use of the name, but did not let Rose see the sting he was feeling in his solitary, thumping heart.
"I'm just a shop girl, and you're this doctor of…everything, apparently. What could you ever find interesting about me?" Old insecurities that she had long forgotten bubbled to the surface. "I don't even have my A levels." She said under her breath. "And I don't think I'll ever get 'em now…now that I'm responsible for Tony." She closed her eyes and shook her head. "I'm not saying that I resent having to be his guardian, not at all. I'm just…stuck…stuck in this place where I never thought I'd be, you know? I feel so unimportant, and confused."
"Everyone's important, Rose, everyone, and I've met an awful lot of people. I've seen the way you are around Tony, how you treat Mrs. Smith, those are the things that matter. Not what you have, what you've lost, what you do or don't do. How you treat people, that's a big part of who you are…who I am. I've lost a lot too, Rose Tyler, but I've gained so, so much more because of that loss."
"Who are you? I mean really? Do you even have a job? How do you keep this posh flat?" she asked.
"I told you who I am: I'm a good man. Isn't that enough?"
"It should be," she whispered. "But I don't know."
The Doctor again reached across the table to take her hand. He stroked her thumb with his, and then squeezed her hand firmly.
"Are you willing to find out?" he asked. "If it's enough for you to know that I'm a good man?"
"I will try," she half whispered.
"And I will do everything in my power to prove it to you, even if it means waiting forever."
"That's a long time to wait," she said, one eyebrow raised.
"I've only got one life, Rose Tyler, and I want to spend it with you."
Desperate to flee from the confusing emotions that were swelling, she dispelled the moment. "I know what it is. You want to get your hands on my Henrik's employee discount."
"You offering? 'Cos I've been thinking about getting a new suit. How do you feel about brown pinstripes?"
That night as Rose lay in bed, she wasn't thinking about who would take care of Tony while she was at work, or wondering if she remembered to pay the electricity bill, or even about Wilf's insistence that Santa Claus had an alien helper.
She was thinking about a pair of fathomless, espresso eyes, eyes which seemed somehow both ancient and young.
Rose wanted to trust Dr. John Smith, she really did, but there was something unbelievable, perhaps even fantastical about the man. He made her feel nervous, not in a fearful way, but in a way she hadn't allow herself to feel in years. This was not simple attraction. The man made her want to run to him, throw herself into his arms and spend her life with him; but at the same time, to flee, far and fast. He told her he was 'interested' in her, and was willing to wait for her to come around. The way his eyes had been burning told her he wasn't looking for friendship, or even a companion. This man wanted more...she was sure of it.
She wasn't so sure she didn't want more right back.
Rose hated to admit it, even to herself, but she was lonely. Tony was her family, and she loved him wholly, but she couldn't keep her personal life on hold forever. It had been so long years since she had allowed herself to love anyone.
She could hardly remember his face now…the man she had loved with such all-consuming passion; she could no longer remember how his arms felt as he held her; how the rhythm of his heartbeats felt pressed against her chest.
A wave of overwhelming guilt washed over her. How could she move on from that? Was she allowed to? She knew he was never coming back...never ever. Could she allow herself to love someone new?
Rose flopped onto her side with a sigh and drifted off to sleep.
"I'm waiting…" Tony sing-singed dramatically. "It's your move, Doctor." Tony was stretched out on the floor on his stomach, resting his chin on his perpetually grubby, seven year old hands.
"If I move my bishop here, I'll expose my king, and if I move this pawn…here…" The Doctor mulled his options, holding back from utilizing his enormously superior intellect to give Tony a chance to win. He too was sprawled on the floor on his stomach like a child.
Tony's mobile sounded the first strains of the theme from classic Star Trek. "It's Rose." Tony thumbed a button to answer. "Hi Rose. Guess what? I'm beating the Doctor in chess!" he said proudly. "Uh huh. Okay. Doctor, she wants to talk to you." Tony sat up and held out the phone to his opponent.
"Hello?" the Doctor answered.
"Hello John," Rose asked.
The Doctor was disappointed that she continued to refuse to call him by his chosen name. "That's twice you've called me John," he said lightly, hiding his frustration. "It's a step up from Dr. Smith, but still not Doctor."
They had been friends for a full two weeks now, and she had even entrusted Tony in his care, given that President Harriet Jones herself had offered her personal seal of approval. Rose had been gobsmacked to say the least when the official government courier had delivered the letter at work the very next day after their quasi-romantic dinner at his flat.
"Why is it so important that I call you the Doctor and not John or Dr. Smith, or Mr. Smith?" Rose asked with a chuckle.
The Doctor sighed. "Never mind. What can I do for you, Rose Tyler?"
"Do you think you could talk to your friend Donna? I've asked Wilf nicely to stop talking about that Christmas alien but he just won't. Do you think that Donna could convince him?"
"Why are you so tied up in knots over this, Rose? No one else seems to care. The parents have actually stopped complaining. Ever since Wilf's appearance on Christian O'Connell last week, even more kids have been visiting him. Surely you know that."
"It's just…wrong! There can't be two! There can not be two!…There can't be two people who deliver gifts on Christmas!" Rose screeched into the phone.
The Doctor winced at the shrill voice coming through the mobile. Tony sat up and shrugged at his friend, obviously having heard his sister's protest.
"Put Tony on," she said after a short pause.
"Rose," the Doctor said calmly, "I really don't want another argument about this, but I don't understand why this is such a…a…thing with you." Unfortunateley, it had become an ongoing argument.
"Please John," Rose said in a quiet, sad voice. "Please let me speak with my brother."
Not ready to cry defeat, the Doctor handed the phone to Tony with a wink.
"Yes, Rose Marion?" Tony said, arms crossed, ready to defend his new best friend.
The Doctor sputtered a laugh, knowing he probably shouldn't undermine Rose's authority in Tony's eyes, but unable to resist.
"Don't be cheeky, Anthony. Did you remember to take your vitamins?" she asked, not really having a purpose for wanting to speak with him, other than to get off of the line with the Doctor.
"Yeah…" Tony drawled, incredulous. "Did you?" he volleyed back with a giggle.
"Tony!" Rose replied, irritated.
"The Doctor wants to take me to the zoo today."
"Isn't it a bit cold for the zoo?" Rose looked out of her fifth floor window at the falling snow, adding to the already mounting snow on the streets below. It was turning out to be the coldest, snowiest winter in England in one hundred years.
"Probably. But I'll dress ap-pro-pree-at-lee. I promise," Tony said as he crossed his fingers, stifling a wicked giggle when he saw the Doctor wink.
The Doctor pantomimed talking on the telephone to Tony, indicating he wanted to speak to Rose once again, so Tony returned the mobile to the Doctor.
"Rose, I promise that Tony will be clothed in a perfectly proper manner with which to face the weather." He winked at Tony again, and then added, "I would never let any harm come to him." His voice was reassuring.
"Alright…" Rose conceded. "And John, I'm sorry I hollered at you. This…alien Santa business has struck a nerve, that's all."
The Doctor smiled to himself…it was a small victory, and for the first time, he saw a glimmer of hope.
"Apology accepted, Rose Tyler."
"I'll…I'll be around about half six to fetch Tony. I don't think I'm gonna have to work late tonight," she said softly, both in tone and volume. "The crowds have been getting thinner 'cos of the weather. Supposed to be really cold tonight."
"I have an idea, why don't we swing by and pick you up on the way home from the zoo?" offered the Doctor, hopefully. With hesitation, he continued. "I noticed this morning when I picked up Tony that you don't have a Christmas tree up in your flat yet. Why don't we take care of that? I know a brilliant tree lot. It's a ways out of town, but…it'll be worth the trip. I promise."
Tony's eyes lit up, and he clasped his little hands, closed his eyes and mouthed, "Please, please, please…"
"Yeah. That'd be good."
Of course, the Doctor didn't know it, but Rose was biting her lip and was feeling butterflies in her stomach at the thought of Christmas tree shopping with the Doctor, maybe even holding his hand as they walked through the rows of trees. The Doctor smiled and spun around on his heel at Rose's answer. At that, knowing that Rose had agreed to the plan, Tony sprang up onto the sofa and bounced gleefully.
"See you at half six then?" asked the Doctor before ringing off. "I'll park in the alley by the north Employee entrance, and I'll be the one in the boxy blue vehicle."
Rose laughed as she thought of the Doctor's old, boxy, blue Volvo sedan. "I know what your ride looks like. See you later…Doctor."
The Doctor made a happy noise in the back of his throat as he thumbed the "off" button on the mobile. "Tony my boy, she's coming around. We'll convince her yet! Now, what do you say to a trip to the zoo?"
Tony whooped, punching his fist in the air as he hopped off of the sofa, landing with a thud that probably alarmed the neighbors in the flat below the Doctor's. "Is it really as hot as they say in Melbourne in December?"
"Brilliantly hot! Hot and sunny and completely not snowy. It's downright toasty, Tony. Ha! Toasty Tony! Tony who is toasty!" He grinned manically as the boy tied his little blue Chuck Taylors high tops, an early Christmas gift from the Doctor.
"Doctor, is it scary?" Tony asked, looking up at the man who he desperately wanted as a brother-in-law.
"Is what scary?" asked the Doctor as he slipped on his long, brown overcoat.
"Traveling in the TARDIS…is it scary?" Tony asked, halting at the door.
"Oh yes! Scary, and thrilling and completely brilliant! Allons-y!" The Doctor grabbed Tony's little hand, closed the door behind him, and aimed his sonic screwdriver until the lock clicked.
To be concluded