"It's not bad for him is it?" Rose asked him as they walked through the estate to her flat. "Traveling in the TARDIS, should there be a big 'no babies on board' sign?"
"Nah," he assured her, swinging her hand in his. "Maybe for another pregnancy, but not this one. If anything the time vortex should work as a type of vitamin. Time Lords were exposed to the radiation of the Untempered Schism for their entire gestation."
"This isn't just a Time Lord though, he's part human," she argued.
"Doesn't hurt humans either. There's not a lot we can know about this, Rose. We kind of have to play it by ear. Nothing's going to work the way you think it should for a human."
"How far along am I, then?"
He laughed, shaking his head. "I've just told you, it doesn't work like that. Time is not the boss of your baby. You passed out in the bathroom because of a vitamin deficiency that shouldn't have appeared until months after conception. Then I scanned you and you didn't read as pregnant at all, then the hospital scanned you and you came back as six months along, based on how they reacted. Now you're barely registering two months. It's hopping all around the developmental scale. You might even out, or you might just continue on like this for nine months. Maybe he'll just get bored and decide to be born before tea time."
"Mum?" Rose called as she opened the door to the flat.
There was a clattering from the kitchen, then Jackie Tyler popped her head around the corner. "Rose!" she exclaimed, running forward grabbing her daughter into a tight hug.
"Hi! Sorry we've been so long… actually, have we been gone long?"
"Three months on my end, I don't know about yours. Come here you," she ordered the Doctor, hugging him against his will.
"Hey, hey, let me go," he whined a bit, wiggling away.
"'Bout time you brought her home," she scolded, whacking him gently on the arm before she took Rose's hand and led her into the kitchen. "How are you getting on with it, Rose?"
Rose paled. "Getting on with what?"
"Did you already forget?" she asked skeptically. "Last time I saw you, you were crying about seeing me die in that parallel world. You just got over it?"
"Right, sorry. I've just had a lot on my mind," her eyes shifted to the Doctor automatically, but she hoped her mother hadn't noticed.
Jackie Tyler was not one to miss a scandal. She looked back and forth between them, then sighed and sank into a chair at the table. "Okay, let's hear it. Finally decided to tell me about you two?"
"Mum!" Rose said, blushing a bit.
"Come off it. I knew this was going on, you know. From the first minute you walked through the door with that one, back when he had the other face. 'Companion' my right—"
"We weren't together then, Mum!" She insisted, shifting awkwardly.
"But you are now?"
"Yes," the Doctor said quickly while Rose stuttered a bit. "Yes, Ma'am."
Jackie stood up to her full intimidating five-foot height. She stood toe to toe with the Doctor, staring him right in the eye. For just a moment, The Oncoming Storm, The Destroyer of Worlds, The Mighty Doctor of Gallifrey, was absolutely terrified of this small Earth woman.
She pressed one finger over his right heart. "You plan on staying with my daughter?"
"You don't work. How will you get money to support her?"
"I still work for UNIT, technically. I accrued quite a bit of uncashed paychecks, I just didn't have any reason to use them before."
"Do you love her?" she asked, backing away just an inch.
The Doctor smiled. "Oh, yes. Always. As long as she'll have me."
Jackie sized him up a moment. "I'm watching you, Spaceman."
"Noted," he said nervously. "See, Rose? That wasn't so bad," he said turning to look at her.
She was ignoring them completely, her eyes fixed maliciously at the refrigerator. Her knuckles were white against the table, her fingers tightly gripping the side of it. Her tongue came out, gently wetting her bottom lip.
"Rose? Are you alright?" he asked.
She was up in a flash, making a mad dash for the fridge. She tore the door open, searching desperately through the messy shelves. "I'm so hungry!" she hollered, ripping open some tin-foiled monstrosity and shoving it into her mouth.
"Rose!" her mother scolded her. "What's gotten into you?"
Rose muttered something unintelligible through the pile of cold meat, pulling out a bottle of mustard and squirting it in her mouth for dressing.
Jackie glared at the Doctor with menacing eyes. "What's wrong with her?"
"Um, long story really. Well, not a long story, maybe a bit complicated." She raised her fist warningly. "Okay! She's kind of pregnant. I'm sorry, we were going to tell you, we just had to get the whole dating thing out of the way first."
She looked back and forth between the two of them, a light slowly coming over her hard expression. "I'm a grandma? I'm a grandma and you didn't tell me?"
"We just found out."
"Oh, the hell you did. Look at her; cravings gone mad over there, that's what that is. She must be at least five months in."
"She could be, right now, but she won't be in an hour," he tried to explain. "Nothing's normal about this. She's only been pregnant a day, technically."
He suddenly realized Jackie wasn't paying attention to him. She was digging through the fridge, trying to help Rose find food. "No sense in starving the child, that's what my Mum said when I was carrying you, Rose. Here, have some fruit; plenty of vitamins in fruit. Does he actually need vitamins?"
The Doctor shrugged as Rose took a bite of the banana, then she immediately spit it out. "Ugh. That's worse than the perfume."
"You liked bananas a few months ago," Jackie protested.
"Now I don't. They're awful."
"Hey!" the Doctor said, a bit offended. "Are you trying to tell me a child of mine doesn't like bananas? That's insane! You are sure he's mine?"
Rose tossed the offending banana at his ruffled hair, missing by inches. "I don't want rabbit food. Have we got something… meaty?"
"You just ate my roast," Jackie said wistfully, eyeing the empty tinfoil.
"Wrong meat. I want something savory. I want…" she pulled open the freezer and yanked out a box, "This! I want these, and maybe some ice-cream or something too."
"Fish-fingers?" The Doctor winced. "You want fish-fingers and custard? That's disgusting."
It had been a long day. Jackie was finally in bed, after spending hours calling everyone in Britain to tell them Rose was expecting. Several of the women had come to the flat in person, prodding and poking at poor Rose's stomach, each one thinking she was at different point in the pregnancy, depending on what time of day they made it there.
Rose was happy to be rid of everyone and to just be home for a change. She'd popped one of her favorite Disney movie into the DVD player, a well-worn WALLE disc, and now she was laying comfortably across the Doctor's lap on the couch, a warm blanket pulled protectively around her shoulders. Her eyes were getting heavy.
"This movie is incredibly inaccurate, you know," he said accusingly, pointing out yet another flaw. "The last robot on Earth looked nothing like that. They always conveniently leave out what he did to all the other friendly little robots. You realize your sweet little robot is a serial killer, don't you? Just look at those soulless, replaceable eyes."
"Mmhmm," she hummed, listening to his words without trying to decipher them.
"Oh, it's late," he realized suddenly, feeling for the remote. "Sorry, I'll switch this off and we can go to bed."
"Leave it," she whispered, "You slept last night, there's no way you're tired. I can sleep with noise on, just stay with me a while, yeah? This is comfortable."
"Of course," he promised, settling back to watch the absurdly unrealistic depiction of outer space in silence.
It took less than five minutes for Rose to fall deeply asleep. He turned the volume to almost nothing, just to be sure it didn't wake her. She needed more sleep now than ever before, and it wouldn't be on his account that she neglected it.
The Doctor set one hand softly on her abdomen, wondering how much sleep a human baby needed. Gallifreyan babies (which was really a better term, considering they weren't Time Lords yet) usually slept about half of the day during their first few years. He was surprised to feel the roundness of the thing—she was at least seven months along at the moment. That was further than he'd seen her up to this point, and he started to calculate the equation for the increasing intervals when Rose suddenly sat up.
He was surprised; he had not felt her breathing change, and she had been so unwilling to move before. Now she was sitting up on his lap, eyes open but unblinking, turning her head slowly from side to side. They came to rest on him and he grinned, a twinge of pain stabbing at his hearts. Her eyes were wide, a strange tinting of yellow around her pupils as she stared at him passively. This was Rose Tyler's body, but she was not currently in the driver's seat.
"Well, hello there," he said, a small sad smile on his lips. "I'm the Doctor. Welcome to the universe, young one."
The being ignored his words, bringing Rose's hand up to exam the fingers, flexing each one of them carefully.
"Those are fingers," the Doctor said gently. "Your Mum's finger's actually, nothing to worry about. A Time Lord mind, you see, is much more powerful than that of a human under normal circumstances. You're already inside Rose's body, when she fell asleep your mind overpowered hers and saw an opening in the motor controls section, so you just moved right in and took her over for a little while. She's fine, just sleeping while you play around with her body."
Those yellow rimmed eyes looked at him again, and one of her hands came forward to press on the side of his face.
"Yes, I'm real. You're real too, in fact. You'll be a fast learner, I can tell. This happened on Gallifrey, you know, to some of the smarter children. It was something to brag about, being able to overtake your Mother's mind. I suppose the bragging rights are diminished a little considering she's a human."
It took his hand and pressed it against Rose's face for a minute, the examined his fingers. The being placed its hand over her ribcage, a small smile tugging at its lips as it felt her heart beat.
"See? You know that sound, don't you?" The Doctor asked, trying to be as delicate as possible. "Less than a day in the universe and you've already mastered heartbeats. Good on you, young one."
It moved its hand to his chest, feeling a double beat, and looked at him quizzically. "Two hearts," he explained. "You'll probably only have one. That's fine, human are fine, I love humans. They really are fascinating. Now then, your mother needs her sleep, but if you're running her body about the rest will cancel itself out, okay? I need you to let yourself sleep so your Mum can, alright? Can you understand me?"
It stared at him blankly.
"Well that's not your fault. Half-human and conceived a day ago, I suppose you're doing pretty well considering the circumstances." He gently took hold of Rose's shoulders and laid her body back down on his lap. "Do you need something? Is that why you came out to visit?"
The being practiced making a fist a few times, then grabbed softly at the afghan covering the both of them.
"Oh, you're cold? That's it, isn't it? Gallifrey had temperatures running quite a bit higher than this I suppose, a chilly night here must feel like winter to you right now. Well, no worries," he folded the blanket up over the bump on her stomach, "I'll keep you warm all night. Just lay down, close your eyes…that's it now, just like that. You need your rest too, for all we know tomorrow could be your big day."
Rose's eyes fluttered and finally closed. The Doctor rubbed her abdomen, hoping it would put the being living inside to sleep. He sighed, shutting his eyes tightly and allowing himself to think about what he'd been ignoring. This wasn't his first child.
He could remember almost everything about them, but every hundred years or so he would forget some little detail. His daughter, for instance, he could no longer remember her favorite color, and that knowledge haunted him on the rare occasions when he did try to sleep. He could remember the birth of his first child, a boy with light blonde hair and blue eyes. He'd had seven years with that child before it had asked the question. Every Gallifreyan child asked the same question, one day, the question that ended their childhood and sent them off to the academy to become Time Lords.
"Daddy, what's a Dalek?"
They couldn't ignore the threat to the universe forever, the children had to be told about. There was no way to explain pure hatred to a well-raised child. He could hear his son's voice in his ear, it was one of the voices he heard whenever he was about to do something terrible. Why did you let the Daleks have the Satellite Five? Why did you leave Jack Harkness? Daddy, why have you stolen the moment? What do you mean 'no more'?"
How could he do this now? How dare he have another child when he couldn't protect his others? He held Rose a little tighter. This wasn't her fault, she was barely more than a child herself. This baby hadn't asked to exist, the weight of this was on his shoulders alone.
"I'll try," he whispered quietly, wondering if the child could hear or understand him. "I will do everything I can for you. If it comes down to my life or yours, I'll always save you, or your Mum. I can try," he promised.
The light from the TV danced over the warm family. They were little, and unusual, but they were happy.