“Where’s he then?”
“Sleeping,” Rose managed between bites of croissant slathered in jam. Three more bites and she switched over to the poached egg. She bolted it down with too hot tea, huffing to cool her mouth.
Jackie sat across from her at the quartz kitchen counter in the mansion. They only had about ten minutes before Tony got home from school. She had promised to watch her little brother while Jackie met up with Beryl. She hadn’t seen her little brother in a week and he’d let her know with a late-night phone call on a stolen mobile. While she’d like to be home soaking after last night’s adventure, she couldn’t pass up the chance to see Tony.
And after Tony Time, they were going to have to spend a weekend with the Tardis. She didn’t seem to be growing or developing as fast as she had been. The Doctor wanted to try some new nutrient baths. He hadn’t said anything but it was obvious that he’d been worried at their last check-in with her. Donna had also given her an elaborate story about him biting a research assistant’s head off when he dared suggest he take a look at the budding time machine with only eyebrow raises and mouthing the curses. Rose’s stomach reminded her it was only half full and she went back to shoveling it in.
“Slow down, you’ll choke. The food’s not going anywhere, Rose Marion Tyler, and I will not have you teaching your brother bad table manners.”
“‘E’s not even here,” Rose complained around a mouthful of egg.
Jackie glared more glaringly.
Rose sighed, marginally slowing down. “Sorry! I’m starving! We were up all night. And once Tony barrels in here like a rocket, I won’t have time to eat. Pete says we’re going to have to meet with the Vliz’riKm again next week. That’s another late night for us, especially him because they’re telepathic. The Doctor says they never bothered to develop speech in a way we’d comprehend since they communicate mind to mind. I said if it’s a bit like how the Tardis communicates that I want to get in on the next meeting.” Rose pushed her empty plate away from herself as her stomach did it’s best to deal with all the food stuffed in there right up to her throat. Seconds earlier it had been complaining about being empty, silly stomach!
“Why would you want to let some freaky alien connect to your mind-’Ere, never mind, forgot who I was talking to for a sec,” Jackie snorted and refilled Rose’s teacup. It was a delicate thing with elegant ivy leaves painted on and a gold rim. Rose was terrified of dropping it. Why did her mum never use the mugs she and the Doctor had bought them? Good, solid, drop ‘em on cement mugs... “I’ll ask another one then, have you gotten engaged yet?”
“Mum,” Rose said, stuffing all of her exasperation into one word. “We aren’t in any rush. We said forever. We meant forever. All the rest is just…” She shrugged a shoulder. Rose had ‘married’ him in his peoples’ way mind to mind. While she figured they’d eventually get around to it, she was wondering if it wouldn’t happen until the Tardis was done. Or even after, she might have to ask him herself. He hadn’t yet. In his defense, they had very little downtime lately. There had been all the work to get Wilf to move in with Donna, then all the fun of having Wilf start at work, and then the invasion of Zygons-that had worked out great. They were even working in UNIT now in disguise. Then there was last night.
The Doctor had needed to use his telepathy for a seven-hour negotiation. The Doctor never ever mentioned the differences between his abilities pre and post-Metacrisis, but Rose suspected even with a wholly Timelord brain, he had taken a while to get in touch with all his alien skills, including telepathy. And she knew for a fact that it took more of a toll on his slightly human body. He’d be asleep for at least a full eight hours instead of his normal four to five.
Jackie harrumphed. “My only daughter and she wants to rob me of seeing her and her weird alien boyfriend get married…” She sighed. “And enduring years of your miserable lonely face without the Doctor, you’d think I’d earned a fancy party to show the pair of you off. I love you both you know, and a fancy wedding is the way I tell everyone else that. Not that I need to, you and he are always in the papers snogging.”
Smirking, Rose put the teacup down. “Yeah alright, give it a rest Jackie Tyler.”
“Disrespectful cow,” Jackie said, slapping at her with a tea towel.
They burst into giggles. Tony found them wiping happy tears out of their eyes and launched himself into Rose’s lap. Rose’s eyes stung for a minute. She had been so willing to leave them all behind. Maybe her mum did deserve a wedding, even if she was being unbearable about it. Rose already had a dress. She was sure she could have custom trainers made… She wondered if Donna would be willing to stand in as both maid of honor and best man? And if not, would they have to flip a coin for her? Should she make more friends? Jake would never want to be in the party. He’d want to be outside with guns in case aliens turned up which they inevitably would, wouldn’t they? Of course, they would. Who was she kidding?
“Now, I’ve got to go. Tony, come and give your mummy a kiss, sweetheart.”
“Where’s the Doctor?” Tony asked, looking around for him.
“How long do you think he’ll be at the perfect level of REM sleep, do you think?” the Little One in the Panama Hat asked, slyly.
“Oh, I daresay he’ll be out for at least as long as a human would, if not longer. He shouldn’t be overtaxing his mental abilities the way he has. I know I was particularly telepathically gifted,” the Cricket one said, “but the tradeoff was a bit of my time sense. All regenerations have different strengths.”
“Yes, and mine is Tardis maintenance,” the Doctor said, patting the black and white cat pin on his lapel affectionately. “We know he’s been having trouble and I can help. We shouldn’t waste this opportunity.”
“It’s against the rules,” the Little One in the Panama Hat said, face dropping into a mopy frown. “We can’t. Our time is over.” His burr was even mournful.
“Poppycock!” the Doctor boomed. “She’s OUR Tardis too. We’re him.”
“No, we WERE him, big difference,” the Cricket One argued, “he’s in charge. We have to let him do as he sees fit.”
They stared down at the impossibly thin pinstriped Doctor lying in the bed of the flat he shared with their mate, Rose Tyler. They were in his mind, of course, because they were his mind. The Doctor in the Rainbow Coat had finally spent a disturbing evening absorbing the horror of the Leather Coat One and this Pinstriped Chap and the end result was, he’d noticed a few flaws in the Doctor’s Tardis growing methods.
“Horseshit,” he swore.
The other two turned shocked faces to him. He waved off their offended expressions. “Sorry, sorry, something Peri used to say whenever I assured her I was perfectly capable of saving us from impending doom. And even though I continued to succeed time and time again, she insisted on saying it each and every time.”
“Until that last time,” the Little One in the Panama Hat said, darkly.
The Doctor wasn’t about to revisit those darker memories just now. She’d survived and lived on. That was all that had mattered. And they were in quite another universe from her now, so this was all a very moot point.
“Don’t distract me,” he hissed. “The point stands. We are him. We get to help him help himself.”
“That’s not what this is, this is, to use another American term in honor of Peri, a hijacking.” The Cricket One glared.
“Yes, but it’s for my own good,” the Doctor insisted.
The other two looked at one another, having a fierce conversation with eyebrows and possibly telepathy, he didn’t care. They ended it by shrugging. They turned to face him and if he wasn’t very much mistaken, they’d reached a consensus in his favor.
“Oh, why not?” The Cricket One said after a minute. “But DON’T get TOO comfortable.”
“Why? You want a go next?” The Doctor snarked, chuckling at his own joke as he gently slipped the Pinstripe One out of the driver’s seat.
“The Tardis is at BigBen. The security passcode is the same as our locker at the Academy.”
The Doctor waved them off, linking his mind into the control matrix for the hybrid body. It was a lot like getting into your car after someone had adjusted the mirrors. He took a moment to orient.
“Good luck,” the Cricket One said.”
“No need, I’m a genius, remember?”