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Jam, Apple Butter, Marmalade and Other Gifts from Jackie Tyler

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Jackie Tyler does not hate the Doctor.

Sure, she'll never understand why her twenty year-old daughter wants to travel through all of time and space with a 900 year-old alien.
Of course, she might have done the same thing at Rose's age, if given the opportunity. Anything to get off the Estate. At forty- ahem -thirty-nine, she no longer sees the appeal. But Rose loves the Doctor and that's good enough for her. Her own mother had never approved of Pete and Jackie couldn't bear to put Rose through the stress of having to choose between your partner and your family.

So she accepted the Doctor, did her best to welcome him into the family, because god knows that's something she and Rose are short on these days.

 

It's decidedly easier after he regenerates. Big Ears, as she affectionately called him in her head, seemed to want to crawl out of his skin at the slightest mention of anything domestic . Pinstripes, seems to be more relaxed about it of Christmas is anything to go by. Jackie's feels a bit of shame for not having gotten him anything for Christmas. Big Ears wouldn't have accepted anything she bought him, but she has a feeling that the newly minted, excitable Doctor would love getting a present. So Jakie resolves to get him something for Easter.

But what does one buy a 900 year old time and space traveling alien for Easter?

Rose is easy, always has been; bit of nice dark chocolate and her gran's lamb recipe for dinner. Simple. But the Doctor? Can his species even eat chocolate? What about lamb? And are they even going to show up for Easter? Rose hasn't missed a holiday since that year that she was missing but they aren't super religious and Easter isn't that big of a deal...

Jackie calls her the Monday before, nearly panicking now, because she's got all the plans for a great dinner on Sunday but still nothing for the Doctor.

"Rose, what does the Doctor like?" She asks desperately.

"Why mum? What's going on?"

"It's almost Easter, Rose, and I haven't got anything for that daft alien."

"Jam." Rose says once she understands. "No pears. But jam, or marmalade. I've caught him eating it straight from the jar."

"Ta." Jackie says, immediately making plans.

She gets him three jars. One of raspberry preserves, a nice marmalade from Italy and a jar of something called apple butter. It's an american thing and she hopes he likes it.

He adores it. It's almost comical the way his eyes go wide when he realizes that she's got gifts for him. But then she realizes why he's so shocked and she vows that she's going to get him gifts for every holiday that she can.

The raspberry preserves disappear that night and she actually laughs when Rose tells him off for eating with his fingers.

He tastes the apple butter and crows with delight. Jackie resolves to find other interesting and different jams and preserves and the like to give him. He's like a kid on Christmas morning and it endears him to her.

On Rose's birthday, she slips him a jar of banana jam she special ordered and his smile is blinding.



She starts a collection, tucking them away in the top of her closet, the only place in the flat he won't rummage through when bored. Any time she sees a new flavor, as long as it doesn't include pears, she buys it.

He does find it, eventually. Rose tells him to look, that day on Bad Wolf bay. The plethora of jars makes him break down and he makes quick work of clearing the flat out. Rose and Jackie's things are slipped into Rose's room on the TARDIS, but the jam, that's stored in a special cabinet in the galley and he slowly eats it. Only allowing himself some after particularly hard adventures. He downs a whole jar after meeting the damn Daleks in Manhattan. All three jars of banana jam- labeled 'birthday' in Jackie's cramped writing- are eaten with vigor after the Master. He idly wonders who's birthday Jackie meant. He doesn't really have one so do that mean that she was already planning for Rose's next birthday? That train of thought is shut down quickly. The jam and Jackie may be relatively safe to think about but Rose is a whole other category. Decidedly in the box of 'don't ever think about again if you want to keep your hearts in one piece'.

 

Rose's return and subsequent loss to the metacrisis leads to him eating the jar of blackberry jam that Rose had specifically labeled as her's, on the floor on her bedroom. It had lived in the cupboard the entire time she was gone and provided him with just the smallest bit of hope that maybe, maybe she could do the impossible and come back to him one more time.

 

But now, he thinks bitterly, there's no reason for her to come back. She’s got a stupid human version of him to spend the rest of her life with and God doesn't that sting. He knows, logically, that it's better this way, and that she'll be happier with whatever-the-metacrisis-calls-himself. But there are time when he can't find it in himself to be happy that she's happy. Because he misses her. He needs her, she's the one thing he still believes in.

His new mouth doesn't seem to like apples so he tucks away the lone jar of apple butter from that Easter and vows never to eat it. It's meant to serve as a reminder, there in his private cabinet with his jelly babies and jammy dodgers. A reminder of Jackie Tyler, the first mother in time and space to slap him.

The first member of a companion's family to treat him like family.

The raspberry-orange marmalade is gone after his regeneration. He finds that this new mouth definitely hates raspberries, which is interesting, because Rose Tyler hated raspberries too.

 

He spreads a very interesting, but delicious, pumpkin jam (where did Jackie find all the weird flavors?) on toast in the library after meeting River Song for the second time.

He's dismayed to find, after being forced into marrying River that there's only that single jar of apple butter left. It's not that he doesn't care about River. But he doesn't love her the way she deserves, and any affection he has is so, so tightly wrapped by his guilt. Because it's his fault that she never got to have a normal childhood.

He cradles the jar in his hands, running these different hands over the label. He's not quite as tactile this time. At least he's lost the urge to lick everything, because that was ridiculous. But the paper of the label is soft and not nearly as smooth as the glass of the jar but the difference in texture is interesting.

He puts the apple butter back in his cupboard, sighing, yes, there's other jam. But it's not Jackie Tyler jam. It'll have to do. The apple butter is tucked back in the cupboard, to spend the rest of his and the TARDIS's lives there, uneaten.

He peaks in on the jar every once in a while and seeing it sitting happily on the shelf is enough to keep him going on the hard days, the days where he wonders of the universe is better off without him.

Amelia Pond eats it. He's not sure how she ever found it. But he walks in on her one day, slowly spreading the last of the jar across a piece of toast.

He scrambles across the counter, scooping up the jar and cradling it to his chest. The weight is wrong and he frowns. His thumbs smooth over the label, memories of that Easter flurry in his mind. "Doctor?" Amy's asks, gently nudging him.

"You ate my apple butter." He says in reply. He peaks into the jar, hoping beyond hope that there's something, anything left.

 

It's empty.

 

His hearts stutter and his respiratory bypass kicks in as he realizes he has nothing left now. Just and empty jar and an old bedroom full of painful memories.

Amy’s voice cuts through his melancholy, "But you don't even like apples."

He sucks in a sharp breath, finally breathing again.  It's a feeble attempt to steady his emotions, and it usually works. At least long enough for him to flee to Rose's room, let the pain out for a bit and then pretend to be normal again. He's promised himself time and time again that he's going to stop sleeping in her bed anytime something bad happens, but it's a hard habit to break, and somehow, the TARDIS has maintained Rose's scent. It's almost like she's still there and he can pretend that she is. He's not sure if that makes it hurt more or less, but in her room, surrounded by her things and cocooned in her duvet, he sleeps better than he has since she was here.

Not that he's slept much since he lost her. He's at record lows actually, down to a few hours a month, less than he did right after the war.

He'll put the jar on her night stand, he decides, as a way to distract himself. In a spot of honor so he can see it anytime he sits on her bed. He'll have to move the photo of them from that first Christmas but maybe if he scoots it back just so....

He shakes his head to clear it, realizing the Amy is still waiting for a response. "I used to."