The Right Thing for Who?
Rose didn't know where she was. She was sitting somewhere outside, but the grass was...wrong. The blades were tinted red, and when she pressed down on it with her hand it was crisper than grass should be. She looked out into the burnt-orange horizon and saw something big in front of her, just beyond a wide mountain. There was a globe, a big, glass globe. It shone in the sun, glittering so bright she had to shield her eyes. As she focused on it she realized there was something inside it, like it was one big snow globe in the middle of a red summer meadow. A figure appeared on the hill—
There was a pounding in her head as she blinked awake, grunting softly.
"Rose?" she heard the Doctor ask. She felt his hand grasp hers. "Are you awake?"
She was in a soft cotton bed, but it wasn't her own. She glanced around the sterile-white walls around them, occasionally peppered with a kitschy painting. "Are we on the TARDIS?"
"No. Hospital room. A real, proper hospital, if you can believe that. I took you to the med-bay onboard at first, but the sonic gave no readings at all. According to this, you're perfectly healthy." He pulled the offending instrument from his pocket and seemed to get some kind of information from the side of it. Rose rolled her eyes; she was never sure what he could be reading, it didn't even have a screen. She was fairly certain it was just a dramatic effect for his companions.
"What planet? I'm not being treated by cats in nurse uniforms, am I?" she asked with a weak smile.
He smiled back, but it didn't reach his worried eyes. "No cats, promise. We're on Earth, actually. Well, about ten thousand years in your future. I figured there was no use in letting a bunch of 21st century quacks have a go. Still, if you're treating a Raxacoricofalapitourian, you go to Raxacoricofalapitourious. I figured, to treat a human, no better place than Earth."
"What do you remember?"
"I remember you trying to break down my bathroom door. Oh, you didn't did you? I mean thanks for saving me, but I really liked that door, I'm pretty sure it was solid mahogany."
"You passed out Rose, in the bathroom."
"I know. Why did I do that?"
He leaned into her face conspiratorially. "They won't tell me, they said you're results aren't back yet, but I think I know what they're hiding."
"They're hiding something?"
"If your blood came back with poison in it, they would never tell me, I'd be the first suspect, so I think they know exactly what's wrong, but don't trust me enough to share it until you make a full recovery."
"Why do you think I was poisoned?"
"Don't panic," he whispered, but I found something strange on the bathroom floor." He pulled the little yellow bottle from his jacket and pointed it at her, gazing intently at into her eyes. "I don't know how someone would have smuggled this bottle on the TARDIS, but I swear Rose, I will find out exactly what's in it and reverse any negative effects it may have had on you."
"Doctor, that's my perfume."
"I bought perfume, on Woman Wept. It's banana-scented."
He squinted at the bottle and cautiously held it to his nose, taking a careful whiff. The smile that split across his face was genuine this time. "Oh! Lovely! Where did you manage to find this?"
"I love a little shop. Well, anyway, there goes my poison theory. I suppose that's a bit of a relief… but it just means we're back to square one."
"Hang on, what did you mean?"
"You said if I was poisoned, you would be the number one suspect. Why would they suspect you?"
"Oh," he said, scratching absently at the back of his head, "it's nothing really, but a bit of a cover story."
"What's the cover?"
"Well, I tried telling the rude woman the front desk that you were my friend, but then she told me I couldn't come into the room with you. Can you imagine? I had the psychic paper with me though, so it was easy to convince her I had misspoken and we were…uh… you know."
"We were what?"
"Ah!" a balding man said from the doorway, holding a clipboard. He was a short man, in what Rose presumed was an appropriate doctor's attire for the time period, though to her he looked more like a mime. "Mr. and Mrs. Tyler. Feeling better now, young lady?"
Rose shot the Doctor an amused look. "Yes, Sir. The Doc…My husband was just telling me that you don't know why I passed out."
"That's why I'm here," he said calmly, striding in to stand next to her bed. "No reason to be alarmed, that's the first thing, I always tell my patients not be alarmed. Unless they should be. There are appropriate times to be alarmed, I suppose. An ulcer is a reason to be alarmed, I suppose, but, imagine if you had cancer, and then I told you there was an ulcer to go along with it. Sure, I bet it's a bit distressing, but not nearly as much as the other thing you would have on your mind of course—"
"Do you mind?" The Doctor asked, cutting him off. "Is Rose alright or not?"
"Oh! Oh yes, yes, the results," he stammered a bit. "Well, the good news is that you should be fine, My Dear. The bad news is that you wouldn't have to be here at all if you were following proper precautions. Been skipping out on your pills, have we?"
"I don't take pills. What kind of precautions?"
"Well, what vitamins are you taking?"
"I take an Echinacea sometimes...If I'm feeling sick. I didn't have time to take one in the bathroom, if that's what you're suggesting. It all happened too fast."
"No, no, I mean your prenatal vitamins."
She stared at him. "Prenatal? As in for pregnant women? Why would I be taking those?"
The old man sighed, rolling his eyes. "Great, your one of those women. Listen, I don't know what garbage your last doctor filled your head with, but prenatal vitamins really are essential. You passed out because your body is working in overtime to compensate for the extra life. You would think a woman as far along as you are would have thought this through a little better," he scolded gently.
"I'm not…" she started, waiting for him to realize that she wasn't 'along' by any means. She wasn't pregnant, obviously.
Rose glanced at the Doctor, but he wasn't looking at her eyes. He was staring at her stomach. She glanced there too, her breath catching in her throat. It was hard to see if you didn't know her body as well as she did, but it was clearly there. The bottom of her stomach was extended by a few inches. Unless she had managed to put on five pounds since she left the bathroom, the insanity the man next to her was spouting was beginning to sound plausible.
"I'll tell you what," the man started again, "I'll get you some vitamins, free of charge, just promise you'll try them."
"I…Okay." She said, eyes not straying from her midsection.
"Oh, before I forget," he stopped on his way out the door. He pointed at the Doctor, drawing his attention momentarily away from Rose. "I better get your information too."
"My information." The Time Lord stated blankly. It was hardly a question, and he turned his eyes back to Rose as the man continued to talk.
"Well, I did assume you're the father of your wife's baby, yes? You look human enough, but these intense vitamin deficiencies are more common when the parents are from two separate planets. You see, an Earthling's body, for instance, will naturally make the nutrients its offspring needs to survive. But if the father is from another, similar humanoid species, then the woman's body can't make the nutrients his baby would need, can it? Stowans, for instance, actually make a low level amount of cyanide in their neurochemicals, can you believe it? So if a Stowan gets an Earth girl pregnant, we have to find a way to provide the half-Stowan baby with cyanide without killing the mother. Where are you from?"
The Doctor stared at them both for a moment, and Rose wondered if she was the only one who could see the intense fear behind his eyes. "Stow. Yeah, I'm from Stow. Those vitamins would be a good idea."
"Excellent," the man smiled as he left. The second he was out of earshot the Doctor jumped forward, pulling out his sonic and scanning over her abdomen.
"Doctor?" she started to ask him a question but he cut her off. Suddenly he was inches from her face, whispering very quietly.
"Listen to me, I promise I won't be angry. We were not together, officially, until last night. Except for me, who was the last person you…danced with?"
She raised her eyebrows at him, a slow blush creeping over her face. "There was one boy, Jimmy Stone. I had to leave school because of him, total jerk. Because of it I was too paranoid with Mickey, I was afraid it would all end the same way."
"When was that? Jimmy Stone I mean, when were you with him?"
"Three years ago. He was the only one, except for you."
The Doctor rubbed his hand against the side of his face, his eyes gathering that special kind of crazy he usually reserved for life or death situations. "Impossible," he whispered.
"They're wrong, right?" Rose asked him. "I can't be pregnant. If I was, we wouldn't be able to tell, it was less than a day ago. They seemed to think I was months along already."
"Stay here," the Doctor said simply, jumping up and heading quickly out the door and shutting it behind him.
Rose stared after him, wondering if he was about to catch the doctor and explain that this was all some big mistake. Instead she heard the familiar sound of the TARDIS'S screeching engine, and the blue box itself appeared next to her bed.
The Doctor popped out of the door, but before she could ask him what he was doing he scooped her up, gently untangling her from the machines next to her bed, and carried her away into the TARDIS.
"Oi! I can walk," she protested as he set her down on the seats and started grabbing seemingly random controls. She watched the time rotators whirr for a minute, the Doctor wasn't looking at her. "Doctor? This isn't possible, is it? You said you scanned me in the bathroom. You would have noticed if I was pregnant."
"I scanned you right away, yes, and nothing came up."
"Then I scanned you again, just now in the hospital," he cut her off. "It confirms everything they said. You were perfectly normal a few hours ago, now it says you're expecting."
She stared at him. "I'm actually pregnant? That's not possible."
"I know," he said as the TARDIS stilled. He ran over and felt at her pulse, then dropped to his knees and started to sonic over her abdomen. His hands were shaking.
"Why couldn't I stay in the hospital?" she asked.
"They couldn't help you. Not worth staying when I could be keeping a much closer eye on the situation."
Rose stared down at the small bump, a ghost of a smile on her lips. She hadn't thought that she and the Doctor could have a family, because of the life they lived, but here was the proof. The movement she'd felt, the heart beat she'd heard, they were all from a baby. Her baby. The Doctor's baby. It happened quite suddenly, whether it was how she would have always reacted or a byproduct of the unusual pregnancy she would never know, but Rose Tyler knew in that moment that she was a mother. And her child might be in danger. Her eyes widened, remembering what the doctor in the hospital had told her. "What about the vitamin thing? He said if two members of a different species had a child, the mother would need supplements. You're a Time Lord, I'm a human—"
"That's the problem. They wouldn't know how to help with this situation. It's impossible. There has never been a cross between a human and a Time Lord before, never once in all of time and space. They would give you drugs for some other child, and it would kill you." The Doctor sighed, pressing a hand against the bump sadly. "I'm sorry," he said quietly, not looking at her anymore. He was speaking directly to her child. "I'm so, so sorry that I forced you into existence, you did nothing wrong. I don't know how far developed you are, but if you can understand me, it will all be over soon."
He hopped up and ran down a corridor, and Rose frowned after him. What did he mean, it would all be over? Was the pregnancy so fast that her baby would be born shortly? He came back with a needle.
Rose stood quickly backing away from him. "Just what the hell do you think you're doing?"
"Rose," he said sadly, "I wouldn't do anything without your permission, you know that, but you have to listen to me. A human body cannot support a Time Lord. This is an extract from a plant on Gallifrey, I kept samples onboard before the Time War. It's deadly, but only to natives. You wouldn't feel a thing, but whatever this life form has poisoned your body with, it will neutralize it. A few hours ago there was no sign of it, now it shows up on tests, another hour or two he could be born for all we know. There's not much time to think about this."
"If I neutralize the poison, what happens to my baby?"
He sighed, not looking her in the face. "Rose, I'm sorry, this is not a possibility for us. There's never been a study, we had to reason to conduct one. Most Time Lords preferred to avoid humans altogether, let alone have a child with one. This could kill you."
She was silent for a minute. "Could kill me? As in, you don't know for sure?"
"I promised to keep you safe, Rose. I promised, and this is my fault. Please don't gamble with this. Your life means so much, to me, to your mum—"
"And this life doesn't?" she asked, placing a hand protectively over the baby. "What makes one life less important than another? You, who abhors violence and breaks guns, you just want to kill a child—your child? Would you kill your own child?"
He winced, and she could see that she had hit some nerve inside him that she didn't recognize. "If I absolutely have to, to do the right thing, then I will. I've done it before."
"No," she said simply. "You already said it was my decision."
"What do you think this would accomplish, Rose? We can't even be sure it would be born alive. You could be killing yourself for nothing."
"We both live, or neither of us do," she said finally. "What would you do, Doctor? If you were me, could you honestly let one life be extinguished to save our own?"
He sighed, leaning back against the console. "No. I never would."
"It's decided then. If this baby has a chance, we give it everything we can to increase those chances. We'll watch this closely. I'll take whatever vitamins you think would help him. If the moment comes, and we have to decide between me or him…can I trust you to pick him?"
He stared at her for a long moment. "Yes."
"Okay," she nodded, smiling a little again. She walked forward and wrapped her arms around him. He hugged her back, less enthusiastic, but she understood. He was afraid, so afraid that giving in to the relationship they'd been ignoring for so long had come with a deadly consequence. "It's going to be okay," she whispered. "I'll be fine."
"I love you," he murmured into her hair.
"I love you, too," she said kissing his collarbone. "Can I ask you something?"
"Let's say this all works out. Let's say I live, and the baby lives. Let's say he's normal, and happy, and a brand new form of life the universe has never seen. Would you be happy?"
She felt his smile against her neck. "Oh, yes."
They stayed there together, ignoring the passage of time, holding tightly to the other one until their fears seemed less daunting.
"Well," he said finally, "no Olympics then."
He raised an eyebrow at her, some of the terror she'd seen melting form his face. "Are you kidding? We have no idea when this baby will decide to be born. You don't want to go into labor in the middle of the shot-put throw. No getting into trouble, not until we've worked this out."
"We never try to get into trouble."
"No, but we always manage to don't we? No wandering, no traveling, this was your choice," he said with a wag of his finger.
"Fine. I don't want to be holed up in here though, not if we don't know how long it could take."
He clapped his hands and spun around, adjusting a few levers behind him. "Sounds good to me. How about a trip home, Rose Tyler?"