Disclaimer: Doctor Who isn't mine. If it was things would be quite different. The BBC owns all and I bow before them. The Star Wars references belong to their respective copyright holders because as I have as much claim to them as I do to Doctor Who.
This is my horribly late Secret Santa gift to TenRose4ever and I'm so, so sorry it has taken so long. Chapter 2 will be posted as soon as it is ready.
Many thanks to AmeliaPonders and jeeno2 for beta services. I did make changes after they looked this over and all mistakes are my own.
The Doctor turned away from Mr. Copper and back to the TARDIS. As he did so, he heard a car whiz by from the road, the unmistakable sound of Christmas music blaring from the window that was cracked open as the driver puffed on a cigarette. I just want you for my own. More than you could ever know. Make my wish come true, oh…
Opening the door with an impatient jiggle, he stepped inside and closed it behind him before the song could reach the next verse and he looked around wearily. Another Christmas without Rose and it wasn't any easier than it had been the year before. At least he could make the holiday disappear with a flip of a switch.
The Doctor shed his coat, throwing it over the nearest coral strut, then wandered over to the console and punched in the dematerialization code to take the TARDIS into the Vortex. "Let's just drift for a while," he murmured to his time ship.
The TARDIS gave him a comforting hum as he wandered off to the room he was now occupying. Shedding his pinstripes for a t-shirt and his pants, he climbed into bed. Within moments he was asleep, leaving the Titanic, and the past year, behind him.
The Doctor engaged his respiratory bypass as he withdrew from Rose. He cleaned them up gently with a towel and she cuddled up against him, her head resting on his chest. Drawing a hand to his face, she traced a finger across his cheekbone, giggling softly.
"What?" he asked.
"The lights, they're dancing across your freckles," she replied, giving him a tongue touched grin. "I love it."
His hearts went to his throat. This was the closest they'd ever come to those words in a moment like this. He opened his mouth carefully, ready to finally say them. "Rose Tyler-"
The Doctor woke with a start, 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 53 seconds after falling asleep. Rose's laughter still rang in his ears as he blinked through the last vestiges of sleep and turned over with a lump in his throat.
This was worse than the nightmares that had plagued him when he'd first lost her. The endless white wall that he couldn't penetrate and the beach that was beyond his reach had transformed into a dream that he desperately wanted but would never come to be. And even in his dreams of what might have been if she hadn't fallen, he hadn't said the words. Still a coward inside.
The Doctor ran a hand through his hair and got out of bed, putting on his brown suit and running a hand half-heartedly through his hair. He headed for the galley but stopped short when he heard strains of Christmas music playing from the direction of the media room. He arched an eyebrow to the ceiling and sent out an inquiry but the time ship ignored him, so he followed the sound.
Why?! Why would the TARDIS do this? He had always loved Christmas, and someday he probably could enjoy it again, but not yet. The memory of Rose was too fresh and he suspected it always would be in this body.
The door to the media room opened as he approached and he stepped inside. Not only was Rocking Around the Christmas Tree playing, but there was a six foot Douglas Fir, wrapped in tinsel and ornaments collected by various companions through the years, including several Rose had picked up during their travels together after his regeneration but had never had the chance to see on a tree.
"Stop it," he told his ship sternly and forcefully. "What are you doing?"
Finally the TARDIS answered him, not in a mental nudge, but in a sharp groaning sound.
Concerned, the Doctor made his way to the console room. He glanced at the terminal, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary. They were still drifting in the Vortex. He punched in the coordinates for Calibris into the navigation computer.
"Let's get there and I'll check you out." He threw down a lever and the TARDIS landed with a soft thud.
The Doctor reached for the grating, to climb under the console and see what had caused the horrendous noise moments ago, but before he could move it aside, the door to the TARDIS opened. Go, she told him.
Stepping outside, he found they were not on Calibris, and he made two startling discoveries. First of all, he could see the familiar streets of Westminster, Big Ben in the forefront, decked out for Christmas. However, this wasn't the London he knew, the Doctor realized as a zeppelin sailed across the sky overhead.
But that wasn't the most shocking part. It was the tingling in his head that he felt the second he set foot outside the TARDIS's mental shielding. There was a Gallifreyan presence in his mind, one that had not been present the last time he had stood on this world. Assuming this was the one where he desperately wanted to be. It was entirely possible there was another parallel world out there with zeppelins after all.
Turning back to his ship, the Doctor stepped inside again and hurried over to the console. His hearts were beating quadruple time in his chest as he was overcome with a million emotions at once. He wanted to run directly to Rose, but he needed answers. He couldn't move forward without them.
Elation was foremost in his heart. A second chance with his beloved. Then there were nerves. What if she'd moved on? Given the intensity of their relationship and that it appeared to have only been a few years for Rose looking at the current date, he doubted that, but he couldn't exactly blame her if she had. He had wanted her to go on and be happy, after all. Finally, there was dread that this wasn't real. That this was some mad dream within a dream, one of far-flung hopes that could never come to be, and he would wake up for real the moment he reached her.
Pushing those thoughts aside, he got to work. How could they be in a parallel world? Any parallel world? The walls were sealed. He'd spent months trying to get through to Rose and had come up empty. The TARDIS had mourned her just as he had. It didn't make sense for her to suddenly take him there.
In response to his thoughts, the ship confirmed the coordinates (yes, they were on Pete's World, a few years after the last time) and brought up manuals and detailed instructions for crossing the void. It was nothing he'd ever seen or read before, but he could easily follow them even though they were written in archaic High Gallifreyan. He now had a way through to the other universe and back again. It put a strain on the TARDIS's engines (and that was the source of the groan he had previously heard) but with the proper maintenance even that could be overcome and he could travel through dimensions at will.
Then there was the tingling he had felt. How could there be another Time Lord out there? It was extremely unlikely any Time Lord had chosen to ignore the call to return to Gallifrey before the Time War and were stuck in this exact date but hadn't been there the first time his ship crashed here. The Master was gone too. Which left the most reasonable and yet also most impossible answer. Rose had been pregnant.
Yes, the TARDIS confirmed. He sank to the floor at the impact of the revelation.
"What did you do," he asked his ship hoarsely. "And why didn't you bring us here before? All the months I tried," he trailed off.
His time ship gave sympathetic hum in his mind. She needed to be here, my Thief. They both did. Your separation was fixed, but so was your reunion.
The Doctor swallowed another lump, the swooping hope that had settled in his belly when he'd felt that tingling finally taking flight. Not just a Gallifreyan presence but a familial one at that. Tears sprang to his eyes and blinked them back. He, no they, had a child together. Yet despite knowing it now, he didn't understand how. "We weren't compatible! What did you do to her?"
Annoyance flashed across his mind as the TARDIS responded. The Vortex changed her, but she made her choice. She wanted to be with you forever. I helped give her what you both wanted.
"She shouldn't have… she couldn't have known," he argued.
It was her choice, made freely. The TARDIS brought up medical scans of Rose taken after various scrapes they had had. Her DNA had been altered enough to make them compatible and her cellular degeneration was practically nonexistent. They could potentially have centuries together. You weren't ready to know, my thief. She gave him another gentle nudge. They've been safe and protected, but now it's time.
The Doctor let out a shaky breath and nodded. His ship was right. It had taken Krop Tor for him to cross the boundary of friendship into intimacy, but would he have acted if he'd known what could happen? Probably not, he admitted, his hand ruffling through his hair.
The thought of having a family with Rose, though. It had never crossed his mind, being genetically incompatible, but the fact she had decided to carry his child filled him with a sense of awe (and no small bit of terror… he'd been a rubbish father the first time around, but he'd love the chance to do it again, the right way, with her). She hadn't thought she'd ever see him again, yet she still chose to have their child, and in doing so gave them the chance of being a family. He was beyond sick at the thought of missing any part of his son or daughter's life, or not experiencing that with Rose, but the fact that they had been out of reach of the Master, the Carrionites, and the Family of Blood was something he was thankful for.
The Doctor gave his time ship a gentle caress. "Thank you," he told her. "Now take me to Rose."
The rotor pulsed happily and moments later they were across London and on the grounds of the Tyler estate.