Part III 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 This gorgeous graphic was used with the express permission of the creator reminii n Tumblr. I was so inspired by the graphic, which fit so perfectly with my fic, that I worked in the quote. Twice.
"Are we there yet?" Tony asked for the fourth time in five minutes.
"Be patient, Tony," Rose admonished, feeling rather hypocritical, as she was beginning to wonder, when they would be 'there' too.
"Four minutes, twenty-two seconds, no twenty, no eighteen..." The Doctor turned and smiled at Rose.
"You got some magic internal clock or something?" Rose smiled mischievously, capturing her pink tongue between her teeth.
"Oh, you're going find I'm all sorts of magic, Rose Tyler," he growled quietly, for her ears only.
Rose felt heat rising in her cheeks, and she turned away, looking out the window. The sky was free of a single cloud, the moon was full and sported an icy halo. The snow magnified the silvery glow of moonshine across the countryside.
"To the nano-second, Rose and Tony Tyler! We are finally 'there'!" The Doctor turned into a boulevard lined with bare trees. Fairy lights had been wound through the leafless branches, and the white points of light glowed magically under a layer of crusty ice and fresh snow. The sturdy vehicle lumbered up the rutted drive, and then took another turn, passing under a stone archway.
An old, weather worn sign leaning slightly to the left marked their destination. "McGillicuddy's U-Pick Christmas Tree Farm," Rose read, slightly awed.
The Doctor made a happy sound in the back of his throat. "One hears things when one hangs around Santa Claus," he said, winking into the rear view mirror at the very wide-eyed Tony, who was watching his reflection.
After a short drive, the trio disembarked from the vehicle, pulled on hats, mittens and wrapped scarves, checked into a little shed, and were provided an axe, a hand saw and a red, plastic sled.
"How are we gonna see where we're going?" asked Tony.
"Don't you worry, Tony my boy, I have superior vision. I'd never lead you or your lovely sister astray!"
The Doctor pulled Tony in the plastic sled across the snow, and Rose walked alongside the Doctor, occasionally grinning down at her little brother as the trio sang funny songs, and the Doctor recited humorous poems. Tony's repertoire of alternate lyric Christmas songs was only outmatched by the Doctor's knowledge of silly poetry.
They finished up a raucous rendition of Jingle Bells, ending it with rude raspberries at the end of the chorus, a la A Christmas Story. They all laughed at the sound, and then Rose's laughter became uncontrollable, when the Doctor's laughter digressed into high pitched giggles.
"How 'bout We Three Kings, but the smoking the rubber cigar way?" Tony shouted.
"We three kings of Orient are, trying to smoke some rubber cigars..." they hollered, more than sang with gusto.
The Doctor abruptly stopped singing, and held up his hand. "Tch, tch, tch!" He put a finger it his lips to hush the rowdy siblings. "Quiet! Listen!"
Rose froze in place and trained her ears.
"I don't hear anything, Doctor," whispered Tony while looking up at her sister, nervous at the sudden seriousness of his normally fearless friend.
"There...I heard it again...something is rustling from over there between those two spruces? There it is again!"
This time, Rose and Tony did hear something - a muffled snort, the sort made by very large wildlife. All three remained frozen in the moonlight as it revealed itself: an enormous stag with an impressive rack of antlers. Its hot breath steamed from flaring nostrils, eerily visible against the darkness of the trees and silvery moonlight. The enormous beast stamped his hooves aggressively.
"Get behind me. Now."
Something in the tone of the Doctor's voice commanded compliance, and Rose and Tony moved into place without question. Slowly, he reached into the pocket of his brown, winter parka and retrieved a silver flashlight. Slowly, he extended his arm, pointing it at the enormous elk. Instead of a bright white light, it emitted a blue glow and whirring sound. The beast stamped at the snow a few times, but then backed up, turned, and disappeared into the untamed forest.
"End of the rutting season...the males are highly territorial and aggressively protecting their harem." The Doctor returned the odd device to his pocket. "Come on then, let's find the Tyler family a tree." He extended his free hand to Rose.
She looked down at it for a moment, contemplating whether she should or shouldn't. He wiggled his bare fingers encouragingly, and inclined his head. His lower lip was plump as he pouted ever so slightly. His brown eyes were wide and hopeful, and ultimately irresistible.
"Rose, what's rutting? What's a harem?" asked Tony, his innocent eyes shining and curious.
"I'll tell you when you're eight," Rose replied with a saccharine sweet smile.
"What's so special about being eight? When I asked about how babies happened, you said I had to be eight to know. I don't wanna wait until I'm eight, I want to know now," he whinged.
"Not now, Tony," said Rose, again hiding behind a smile.
"Now Rose, you should know that if a child asks that question, they are emotionally ready for some sort of an answer, worded in an age appropriate way, of course," he said with a slightly wicked grin.
"Doctor, you aren't helping," Rose grumbled, turning away from him to hide her blushing cheeks.
"Rose, when are you gonna have a baby? I wanna be an uncle. Stella's mummy had a baby last year, and Stella says babies' heads smell good. I wanna know why babies' heads smell good. And she says babies are cute and fun and they're even more fun when they aren't your own brother or sister, and if you had a baby, he wouldn't be my brother or sister, he'd be my nephew or knees, so a baby would be even funnerer."
"More fun," she corrected, "and she'd be your niece, not your knees," corrected Rose with an amused smirk. "Doctor, what was that thing? That flashlight thing," she asked, changing the subject.
"Oh that old thing? That's my good old...OH ROSE! Just look over there!" he exclaimed, changing the subject, purposefully abrupt. "I think I've spotted the one." The Doctor tugged Rose along, pulling the sled containing Tony, as he ran through the deep snow until they reached a tree that was an inch or two taller than he. It had evenly spaced branches, was neither too wide, nor too thin. It was, in fact, the perfect tree.
"Now that...that's a Christmas tree," he growled, excited. "What do you think Rose? You like it?"
After taking a moment to appreciate the tree, she finally spoke. "I love it," she replied somewhat breathily, eyes sparkling with happiness. "I've never had a real tree before. Mum always did a fake one."
"That looks like the kind in picture books, Doctor!" Tony jumped out of the sled and ran up to the tree. He extended his hand, and ran around it, skimming the branches with his fingers, laughing.
The Doctor pushed his face into the branches and inhaled deeply. "Ahhh! The scent of Noble Fir. Nothing like it anywhere in the universe."
"I'm sure there isn't," Rose said with an eye roll at his hyperbole.
"Shall I do the honors then?" asked the Doctor.
Rose nodded, smiling behind her mittened hands.
With a few swift strokes of the saw, the tree was felled. Rose grabbed the crown, the Doctor the base, and together they hoisted it onto the sled.
The Doctor took the rope in one hand, and Rose's hand in his other, and they merrily, they trudged back to the shack to pay the attendant. Tony sang Christmas carols all the way, but properly this time.
"Thanks for letting me help with the tree," the Doctor said, grinning. He draped the tale end of a string of lit Christmas lights around Rose's neck like a long, glowing scarf.
"You certainly do like a brightly lit tree. How many strings is this now?" she asked, removing the lights from her neck.
"One must be very thorough when it comes to stringing the lights on a Christmas tree. There can be no missed branches or twigs."
"But two thousand lights? On a six foot tree?" Rose smiled as she looked at the tree.
"You don't like it?" he asked, worried.
"Oh no, I didn't mean it like that," she said apologetically. "It's lovely. Looks very professional - like the trees in the Santa window at work."
The Doctor smiled proudly, and then knelt to place the last of the lights on one of the bottommost branches. He stood up, dusted his hands, signaling the completion of the task.
"I think Tony gave up waiting," said Rose, nodding towards the sofa.
"Sorry about that," he apologized.
"That's okay. He doesn't like to decorate. He just watches and keeps me company."
"He's quite a lad, Rose. You're doing a fantastic job raising him," he said sincerely.
Rose's face fell, and she dropped into the love seat.
"Rose?" The Doctor sat next to her.
"My Mum raised me alone, you know. She married Pete, my stepdad, when I was twenty. I think Tony happened about three hours after they said, 'I do,'" she said with a barely-there smile.
The Doctor laughed quietly before settling deeper into the sofa. For a while, they sat in silence, appreciating the lit tree, even though still unadorned with ornaments. The plastic storage crates were stacked in a tidy pile, latched shut.
"I think I'll wait to finish the tree tomorrow. Wanna come by? Put up the tall ones? There's still time," Rose said through a yawn.
"Not much time left before Christmas, Rose. Christmas Eve is in three days. Don't want you want to enjoy the tree as soon as you can?" he asked, serious.
"There's still time," she repeated.
The Doctor sighed in frustration, and raked his hand down his face. "No, there really isn't much time left. Time is finite commodity for us humans. It's limited. The sand is slipping through the hourglass. I can feel it. People only have so much of it, and then pouf, it's gone.
"Who are you then, Chief Dramatist?" Rose teased, turning to face him. She propped her head onto her hand, her elbow on the back of the sofa.
"Think about it. If you look at it my way, you will want to make every moment important...every single moment."
"I suppose that makes sense," she said, brow furrowed.
"Rose?" Tony's thick-with-sleep voice called out. "Can you carry me to bed?"
"I don't know if I can lift you little man," Rose said regretfully, "but I'll walk you there, and tuck you in."
Rose aimed for the sofa, but the Doctor beat her. He scooped him up as if he were as light as a feather. Tony's heavy head dropped onto the Doctor's shoulder, and he carried him into the boy's bedroom. Rose pulled back his star-sprinkled duvet, and the Doctor deposited him into bed. Rose pulled the covers up under her brother's chin, and tucked the duvet snugly around his drowsy form.
Tony closed his eyes, and Rose sat on the edge of the bed. The Doctor backed away, pushed his hands into his pockets, and leaned against the doorframe, one leg crossed over the other, observing Rose and Tony in the dim light of the room.
Rose leaned over and whispered, "Goodnight Tony, I love you," into his ear, and placed a kiss on his flushed cheek.
"He is the Doctor, Rose. Please accept him, and he loves you just the same as before. He told me himself," Tony whispered, eyes still closed. He turned over onto his side, and buried his head into the pillow.
Rose stood up, and stumbled backward. The words had felt like a slap to the face, as if Tony were chastising her, but she had no idea what he had meant by them.
Slowly, she turned to face the Doctor. He was no longer leaning against the doorframe, but was standing tall and straight, a perfect silhouette against the glowing lamplight of the lounge. He extended his hand to her, and held it out, never taking his eyes from hers. With small, hesitant steps, she approached him, and accepted his proffered hand.
He led her back to the sofa. Still standing, he took out his silver penlight, and depressed a button. The device made a whirring sound, and the lamps extinguished, as did the overhead light in the kitchen. The lights twinkling on the Christmas tree like all of the stars in the universe, provided the only light.
He took off his blue suit coat, and then rolled up the sleeves of his light blue shirt before sitting down next to her. He loosened his tie, and slipped his arm around Rose's back and pulled her into his side.
Rose tensed for a moment, but then gave herself permission to relax. She dropped her head onto his shoulder with a sigh. He caressed her upper arm with his fingertips. Rose melted into his touch.
"Is this okay?" he asked, voice low and rumbling.
"Yeah..." She wasn't sure how else she could answer. She knew it was certainly okay that she allow herself to enjoy the company of this good man. She had come to trust him, even though their time together had been limited. She was attracted to him, to be sure, but was feeling much more than just attraction now, after these short three weeks.
Something hanging from the ceiling caught her eye. She looked up and chuckled. "Tony is playing matchmaker again. Look." She pointed at a sprig of mistletoe hanging from the ceiling.
"Who said it was Tony...and what are we going to do about it?"
Rose dipped her head shyly.
"Some traditions simply can't be ignored," the Doctor coaxed, his voice even more rumbling and low.
She turned under the Doctor's arm, so that their faces were now only inches apart. She cupped his cheek, and placed a soft, lingering kiss on the corner of his mouth.
"Who's ignoring?" she countered into his parted lips, and then adjusted her position so that their mouths were perfectly aligned. She waited, hovering, her breath mingling with his.
The Doctor pulled her into his embrace, and bridged the gap, touching his lips to hers, but just barely. Rose made a soft sound of assent, and the Doctor's lips met hers again. This time, he coaxed, caressed and teased; nipping first her bottom lip, then her full upper lip.
Without putting much thought into it, Rose parted her lips to him slightly, and he accepted the invitation, using the tip of his tongue to trace just inside her parted lips, where the sensitive skin met the pinkness of her lips. Rose accepted his kiss fully, and wrapped her arms around him, pulling him down with her so that he was enveloping her, covering her, warming her from nose to toes.
"Oh Rose," he whispered against her lips. "I want you...not the way you think...well, I do, but...I want to be yours, and I want you to be mine. I was made for you, Rose..." He redoubled his ministrations, pressing his body against her, but not demanding anything more than what he was taking this moment with his lips.
Rose's kisses became heated and needy, and she pulled the Doctor impossibly close. But he pulled back, and then away, sitting up, pulling a very frustrated Rose with him.
"Why'd...why'd you stop?" she asked, almost hurt.
"Because you don't believe...not yet. You're kissing a memory, Rose, not me."
She looked at him, mouth agape. "I'm so confused. I don't understand what's happening. You appear in my life and within a few days, you're...practically making declarations of...forever! You come at me like a...freight train and now you're pushing me away?"
"No. Not you. Never. I'm not pushing you away Rose, I'm begging you to come closer. To see me as I am. To want me, to let go of the past pain and to live. To really live now. Life is too short to be anything but happy. I don't want to waste one more moment. Rose Tyler, don't you see? I...me!" He placed his hand over his heart. "I am offering to spend the rest of my life with you!"
"But we've known each other less than a month! How can you say that? How can you possibly know that I am the one you want to be with?" She spoke quietly, through tears which were threatening. "You haven't even told me once how you feel about me! Do you feel sorry for me? Are you offering yourself as some sort of consolation prize to the poor, wretched girl who has lost so much already?"
The Doctor leaned close and whispered three words into her ear...
Three words that she had longed to hear from...Him...the one of whom she tried not to think...the one from whom she'd been torn so long ago...
She pulled back, furrowed her brow, looked at the man next to her, unsure of what to say in return. Rose thought she did not know this man. She did not even know what to think of him.
The doorbell rang.
"Who...would...?" Rose escaped the situation, and jogged to the door.
"Hi Rose. Is Spaceman here with you?" said the ginger-headed woman from Henrik's, craning her neck to look around her. "Your shirt is crooked. Might wanna fix that."
"Huh?" asked Rose.
"Doctor, I know you're in there," she replied, rolling her eyes, and pushing past the bewildered woman.
"Oi! You're late, Skinnyboy! You're supposed to be there right now!" She pointed out the window.
"Donna, I'm in the middle of something important," the Doctor said through slightly gritted teeth, leveling a judgmental look at the fiery redhead.
"Yeah, I can see that. You've got pink lippie on your cheek. The Big Man is not gonna be too happy if the kids are disappointed 'cos they don't get their-"
"I'll be on time, Earth Girl, I've never been late yet," he said, pushing his hand through his hair.
"What's going on?"
"The Doctor here was supposed to be at the North Pole two hours ago, that's what! Those elves have little legs, you know. You know it takes them two days to pack up that TARDIS of yours."
"Are you saying..." Rose's words faded. "Are you saying that the Doctor here, Dr. John Smith, is the alien that your Granddad keeps going on about?"
"Well, who else would it be? Honestly Rose, you can't see the forest for the trees." Donna put her hands on her hips.
"How do you know who I am?" Rose asked Donna, slightly fearful.
"'Course I know you. You're all he ever talks about. Rose Tyler this! Rose Tyler that! Rose would know what to do... There was this one time that Rose figured out there was something wrong just by looking at the number of TV aerials on the rooftops..." she mimicked in a voice that vaguely sounded like the Doctor speaking.
"I don't know what you're talking about," said Rose, looking at the Doctor and Donna, who was now standing next to the redheaded woman. "I never laid eyes on Dr. Smith until a few weeks ago at Henrik's! Tony knew him before I did!"
"Oh but that's where you're wrong, Rose. You do know him. You know exactly who he is, you just don't want to believe he is who he says he is. He's the same man, Rose. You are not betraying his memory if you let yourself love him. You'll be loving the same man. The very same one."
"Who are you then, Doctor? Tell me!" she begged, throwing her arms out as a plea.
The Doctor took one step forward. "I'm the man you met in a dark basement, who saved you from living plastic. On our first date we had chips. You paid. I told you that you were beautiful...for a human...but really wanted to tell you that you were beautiful for anyone." He took another step closer. "I wore a black leather jacket, shaved my head, had big ears, and a helluva nose. I had attitude to spare, and hid my pain behind bluster and sass, and still, you saw past all of that and loved me. And then I changed." Again, he moved closer. "I changed for you. For a moment we were connected...dangerously connected through time and space, and I saw what you needed, and what I needed to be, and I changed for you, Rose. But I was a fool, and I chose to close myself off to you. There were moments, of course, when I let you in, when you saw glimmers of the fire in my hearts that burned for you. And then, just when we had promised each other Forever, in the cruelest turn of all, you were torn from me, Rose. Stolen. Tucked away safe and sound in this other universe." His eyes were glistening now.
"Don't you see what He's given you?" said Donna, no longer fiery, but now, earnest.
Rose closed her eyes, covered her face with her hands and wept. Memories flooded back of another man with the same face, pouring himself into a hand in a jar, in a surge of golden fire. She remembered a declaration on a beach...of words she had longed to hear, but hearing them from different lips against her ear. Lips that were warm, not cool, lips warmed by blood being pumped by a single heart. She remembered kissing the man for all she was worth, and then feeling such sadness as the Other left them, abandoned them to fend for themselves. The kiss suddenly became a seal of her betrayal to the Other.
But now, she was beginning to understand what the Doctor, this Doctor, had been saying all along. He was a good man, the best, and he'd been created for her by the Other, a gift...the gift of himself. They were the same man...the very same man.
She knew now was the time to decide, to make the choice whether she was going to accept happiness, accept the gift that the Doctor had given her...the gift the Other had given himself...
Donna faded in a shimmer like oil on water, and disappeared from view.
The lights on the Christmas tree faded away.
Rose's flat, with its view of the Thames melted and disappeared, and she found herself flat on her back, her body in pain, aching...
The room was dark, save the glow of the television screen. Her eyes were a bit blurry, but she squeezed them a few times to encourage them to focus. She tried to sit up, but found she didn't have the strength to move. She turned her head and saw Him sleeping in the guest recliner by the window.
In the past six months, she'd referred to only by the name that he was legally required to have: Dr. John Smith. She had refused to call him Doctor, afraid that she would betray the man on the side of the Void. But this man, was also the one who told her he loved her; he had told her for both of them. He had tried to make her understand that they really, truly were the same man, and not only that, he had had tried to show her every single day, too, with his declarations, actions and promises just how much he loved her...they loved her.
Rose's mouth was dry, and her tongue felt thick and heavy. Finding it was difficult to speak, she couldn't form any words, so she groaned.
The Doctor sat up, turned and looked at her, but did not make any further move. "Rose..." he whispered.
"Where..." Rose's voice trailed off and she whimpered, feeling pain throughout her body.
He jumped out of the chair, bounded to her bedside, and pressed the nurse call button enough times that the nurses would most likely be irritated.
"Oh Rose," he said her name through a brilliant smile, and then whispered her name over and over. There was an urgency in his voice that frightened her. He was like a man in the desert who had been desperate for water, and had found a well.
"What's happened'? Why'm I in hospital?" she asked. Her voice was gravelly from disuse, and she was beginning to appreciate the gravity of her condition. One of her legs was suspended in midair and casted from ankle to thigh. Her right arm was encased in plaster as well, but covered with a pink wrap, her favorite shade. She now understood why she'd been unable to sit up.
"You were in an auto accident. It happened five days ago." The sound of metal squeaking against tile echoed as he pulled a side chair close to the bed and sat down. He gathered her free hand into both of his, unwilling to relinquish her touch.
She stifled a cry, and squeezed her eyes shut as the memories flooded back into her mind. "Mum and Pete...Tony...they were with me..."
"They're fine, Rose. Treated and released from A & E with a few bumps and bruises. But your side airbag didn't go off, and your side of the car was crushed. You're lucky to be alive. You had a bad concussion, and they've had you sedated for days because they couldn't control your pain adequately. They don't know why, but I know it has to do with your exposure to the Time Vortex when you looked into the TARDIS. Your bones are knitting twice as fast as they should be, and the pain medications simply can't keep up."
"So I'll be out of these casts twice as quickly?" she said, trying to lighten the mood.
"Rose Tyler, always looking on the bright side," he said with a grin.
She smiled in return. "I was...we were going out to dinner and we were gonna be late for the reservation. I had gotten reservations at Jamie Oliver's new place, and I knew they'd give the spot away if we didn't get there soon. Mum was hollering at me-"
"What else is new," he added with a wry smile.
Rose laughed quietly in silent agreement. "She was on about you and me and was mad that I hadn't invited you along...and well, you know," she said, ashamed. "I must have not been paying attention or something, but I don't remember the accident much."
"It wasn't your fault. A drunken driver ran a stop and slammed into your side of the car. This is the first time you've been lucid since you were brought in." The Doctor, as he was prone to do, quickly changed gears, and looked up at the television. "Did you know that Pete's World has a thing for Miracle on 34th Street? BBC2 has been playing it for eighteen hours straight, over and over and over again."
"I don't know why it's the holiday movie here..." she said. "I think I was dreaming about it. Donna's granddad was Santa, and Donna was there too. She was an elf helper."
"Oh, she would've loved that," the Doctor said facetiously. "Sounds like a nice dream."
"I was Tony's guardian because my parents were dead," she said sadly.
"Not so nice then..." he added.
"You were there too." She grinned and laughed quietly. "You secretly helped Santa deliver Christmas gifts." Rose turned her head and really looked at him for the first time since she had returned to a state of lucidity. "And you chopped down a Christmas tree for me and Tony."
"With my very own manly, hairy hands?" He waggled his eyebrows.
"Yeah. Very manly. You cooked for me, too. You been holding out on me? Dinner was delicious."
"Were we on a date?" he teased.
Rose pressed her lips together tightly and tried not to smile, remembering the passionate kiss that they had shared in her dream.
The Doctor pushed down the sadness he had carried since that day they were left on Bad Wolf Bay. After the TARDIS disappeared, Rose had refused to further any sort of relationship beyond friendship, claiming that she felt guilty, that it would be a betrayal.
"What is keeping that nurse?" the Doctor complained, changing the subject.
"What day is it?" asked Rose.
"Christmas Eve...almost midnight." The Doctor leaned closer.
"Happy Christmas," she said.
The nurse finally arrived, and regrettably, the Doctor relinquished her hand. The nurse checked her vital signs, and asked her if she wanted anything to eat or drink. Rose requested water and green jello. The nurse promised that the physician would be around in the morning.
"I should call Pete and Jackie, let them know you're back with us." The Doctor reached into the pocket of his leather jacket to pull out his detested, but necessary, mobile phone.
"Wait," said Rose. "Wait for a while...I want...I want to spend Christmas Eve with you...just you."
"What?" he asked.
"I...I have come to a decision. I don't wanna wait any longer, Doctor." She saw a brightness surge to his eyes the moment she the word came out of her mouth. It was the first time she had called him by that name. "Life's too...life's too short to be anything but happy," she forced out through tears. "And I do want to spend my life with you...and I do believe you're the Doctor. I love both of you and always will, but you're the one who is here with me, and I don't wanna wait any more. I'm so, so sorry...I'm so sorry it took me so long to come around."
"Very Happy Christmas, my Rose." He leaned over the side rail, and kissed Rose Tyler.
While the kiss was nowhere near as intense as the kiss Rose had pulled him into on that beach, and not as heated as the kiss in the dream, it was no less passionate, for it communicated the love he had wanted to share with his Rose for both months and years, and Rose returned the love she had tamped down, wanting to give, but afraid to do so.
"So do you have plans for Christmas Day, Doctor?" she asked, a bit breathless.
"I'm completely booked."
"You can't squeeze me in? Just for a few minutes?" she asked, cheekily.
"Oh, would you look at that," he said brightly. "My schedule just cleared. The whole day has been blocked out to you. Scratch that. My schedule has cleared out for as long as we both shall live... Marry me Rose?"
"Yes, my Doctor."
In the distance, the bells of Westminster Abbey chimed midnight, signaling the arrival of Christmas Day.
- Feeling...: happy