Disclaimer: I own no part of Doctor Who and am in no way affiliated with it. This is for entertainment purposes only.
Author’s Note: This takes place after the end of ‘World War Three’ episode 5 written by Russel T. Davies. Ten Seconds of Eternal Waiting
“Now, Mum, you’re forgettin’ it’s a time machine. I could go travellin’ around suns and planets, and all the way around the universe. By the time we get back, yeah? Ten seconds will have passed,” Rose had said before stepping into that blue box that would take her to explore the universe and leave her mother there on earth waiting for her daughter.
Jackie Tyler had always known that one day her daughter would leave and then Jackie would be left on her own. But to a demanding job, perhaps, or even to Mickey Smith. And the worst case scenario—to drugs.
But certainly not to an alien with a 1940’s police box that was somehow a spaceship—not to mention a time machine. She may have expected Rose to leave one day, but to France or even the States, not to a planet a billion miles away in who knew what time.
The handbooks didn’t tell you what to do when something like this happened. And she should know; when Rose had been born, she had read all the books on how to raise your child, and hadn’t stopped reading as the years went by. After all, she wanted to be the best mother she could be. She rarely followed their advice, but at least she had some idea of what to do.
But there wasn’t a handbook on what to do if your daughter runs off with an alien heedless of the danger. There should have been.
Jackie reached the steps to the apartment and paused. She took a deep breath, feeling the tears so close but refusing to give into them. Because Jacqueline Tyler couldn’t cry; no, she had to be strong.
She had needed to be strong when she had a newborn baby and a loving—but not successful— husband who didn’t have a steady job and she had never known where the money would come from.
She had needed to be strong when suddenly Pete was gone and Jackie was on her own—with no job and a young child to take care of.
She had needed to be strong for the last nineteen years—for Rose. She had needed to care for her daughter and give her the best life—no matter the circumstances. So she had been there for Rose through the bullies at school and through the first interview that had not given way to anything, her first love and her first heartbreak, and through all the troubles of life.
And Jackie had been strong.
But now? How could she be strong when her daughter had abandoned her to salvage a life that had never been? Not without Rose.
Because just as Jackie had been there for Rose, her daughter had been there for her. For the last nineteen years, Rose had been there to get Jackie out of trouble and keep her smiling through even the most miserable times of her life, and before Rose, there had been Pete to help her.
But now, both were gone and the only person who knew what had happened to Rose was Mickey Smith. And there was no chance of him helping her, not after she had accused him of doing away with Rose, now was there?
No, Jackie Tyler was alone and would be until Rose came to her senses and returned home before the Doctor could get her killed.
Jackie set the key into the lock and that was when she heard the faintest of noises. It was nothing but the wind and she knew it, but she couldn’t stop herself from hoping. Not with Rose’s promise still ringing in her ears.
“A time machine, Mum,”
The noise became louder and Jackie ran back to the alleyway. And there was Mickey staring at the same spot with the same hopeful expression. Could it really be?
The whooshing sound was loud and clear now and a shape was slowly coming into focus.
Mickey grinned and pulled Jackie into a hug, heedless of their current non-talking relationship, “She’s coming back, Jacks! Rose is coming back!”
“I know,” Jackie laughed, too excited to remember what Mickey had forgotten as well.
Then the noise stopped and there stood that tall blue box as if it had never left. And Jackie could almost believe that it was just a relic of the past and that inside would just be a tiny amount of space and not an entire alien world.
The doors opened and Rose walked out. Her hair was braided and her clothes had changed. Proof if Jackie had needed it.
“Mum,” Rose said happily, and pulled her stunned mother into a tight hug. “Mickey!”
The doors opened again and the Doctor stepped out. Hands in his pockets, his eyes shining with more knowledge than Jackie wanted to accept, he stayed silent. For once.
“I told you,” Rose laughed, “Ten seconds,”
“Well,” the Doctor corrected, “actually only nine seconds and forty-five milli-seconds. Didn’t want to be late after all, did we?”
“Close enough though,” Rose said as she went to give Mickey a hug.
Jackie gave them a moment before once again claiming her daughter. She held her close and promised herself that she would never let go. Not ever again.
But she had to ask.
“How long?” Jackie asked. She knew she shouldn’t; it would ruin her daughter’s mood, but in that instant she couldn’t help it. Not after the events that had just taken place…well, for her and Mickey Smith at least.
“Mum,” Rose murmured, sounding only slightly annoyed. “Don’t do this. It’s only been ten seconds for you, why can’t we leave it at that?”
Didn’t Rose understand what Jackie was going through? The pain of abandonment that Jackie felt; the exhaustion of having to be strong for someone else; the loss? of losing a child—not to a nice house with a family, but instead to an alien with an odd-looking blue box.
“Why does it matter?” she exclaimed loudly. “It matters because I’m your mother and I’m here waiting for news—news that tells me if you’re even alive. It matters because I don’t know if you’re ever going to come back or if I’m just going to be stuck here waiting forever. It matters because I love you and I’m afraid for you.”
Tears ran down Jackie’s face, but she didn’t try to wipe them away. And why should she, what with everything that was happening?
“All right, Mum, I’m sorry, I wasn’t trying to be rude,” Rose said, and pulled her mother into another tight hug. “For me it’s been two weeks, but now I’m back—at least for a little bit. Let’s just focus on that, all right?”
Jackie nodded and tried to make an effort for her daughter and her…friend. Mickey, however, did not.
“Two weeks?” he asked, his voice soft with barely contained emotion. “And in those two weeks did you ever even think of us? Here waiting for you? Did you, or was it all, ‘Oh, Doctor, where to next?’ or ‘Doctor, look an evil alien who wants to destroy us, what do we do?’ Well, was it?”
Rose took a deep breath and narrowed her eyes. “Well, what’s the point of coming back when all I get is accusations and hostility—even from my own mother—and the Doctor just gets to be distrusted and ignored?” She was annoyed and wasn’t bothering to hide it. She never had been able to hide her emotions.
“What did you expect?” Jackie asked, forgetting for the second that she was supposed to stay out of it. “After you went off and left us. Again!”
“Well, maybe I’ll just go back to those planets—it’s starting to feel safer with aliens shooting at me than it is here,” Rose snapped.
Silence fell after her words and Mickey looked guiltily at Jackie, pleading for her help. Well, Jackie didn’t know what to do to fix everything, but there was one thing that would cheer everyone up. She hoped.
“All right, everyone,” she said. “Let’s go into the apartment and smooth things over with a cup of tea. It will be nice and warm and we can all talk. All right?”
Mickey nor Rose said anything.
“Well, that sounds absolutely charming,” the Doctor said, surprising everyone. “A cup of tea never hurt anyone…well, actually it has—like the time with—”
“Well, come on,” Jackie interrupted before the Doctor could say anything more and upset the whole situation. “Let’s get going,”
The walk up the stairs and into the apartment was rather silent until Rose blessedly broke it. “Well, fat lot of good you were back there,” she accused the Doctor jokingly. “You could have put in a word or two for me.”
“Uh-uh,” the Doctor said, shaking his head, “I told you, I don’t do domestic.”
“There now,” Jackie said, setting the kettle on the stove. “There we are.”
She went to the cupboard to get some cups, but Mickey got there before her. “Here you go,” he said and handed her some.
Jackie took them, and if her hands were shaking, there was no doubt why. They hadn’t gotten along too well before Rose had left, then Rose had gone and Jackie had blamed the only person who actually understood what Jackie felt like. And now—since he had saved her life—things were even more complicated, weren’t they?
“Jackie,” Mickey said, almost as if he had read her thoughts, “I know why you said what you did, we were all worried about her.”
“Yeah, I suppose,” she sighed before taking a deep breath. Some things needed to be said to him. “But I shouldn’t have said them and I’m sorry.”
“That’s all right, it’s all good.” He handed her the last cups.
“And thank you,” she added sincerely. “I almost died today, and if it hadn’t been for you, then I would have, now wouldn’t I have?”
“Well, it’s all behind us now, isn’t it?” His face brightened. “Besides, Rose is back.”
“Yeah,” Jackie whispered and looked to where her daughter stood.
Rose and the Doctor stood by the window, looking out at the stars. She was close to him—far too close in Jackie’s opinion—clinging softly to his arm, her hand held tightly in his. The Doctor was smiling down at her with a look in his clear grey eyes that said she was the only one who mattered in his life. He was leaning down to say something in her ear and his right hand was pointing at something in the sky. Rose laughed at whatever he said…and Jackie understood.
She understood that she had lost her daughter to the stars, the dangerous universe, the endless amount of new species, and Rose wouldn’t ever be coming home to stay.
Jackie had lost Rose to the Doctor, and she had the feeling that once the Doctor had someone, they never came back.
And Rose wouldn’t. Oh, she would come and visit her mother and her boyfriend, but in the end, she would always leave again. Because he would. And wherever the Doctor went, Rose would go as well.
And maybe one day, she would forget to come back at all.
“Yeah,” Jackie said again, and Mickey looked at her with the same look that was on her own face. Because he understood too.
“Well, here we are then,” Jackie forced herself to sound happy. “Tea’s all ready,”
“Rose, sweetheart,” Jackie said, and hated the questioning tone of her voice, “I really am happy that you’re back. You know that, right?
Rose stopped making the bed for a second to look at her mother with one of those brilliant smiles that lifted Jackie’s heart every time she saw it. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that. Because I really do love you and Mickey and all of this—its home, Mum.” She gestured to encompass everything around her.
“I’m just scared, that’s all,” Jackie admitted.
“I know,” Rose said and stepped close to set her hands on Jackie’s shoulders. “But traveling out there…it’s amazing seeing all those new things and stepping out onto those planets and meeting all those people and just travelling out there among the stars with the Doctor in the TARDIS…it’s a better life.”
“You’ll be careful though, won’t you?”
“Yeah, I will be, Mum.” She laughed then. “Besides, the Doctor won’t let anything happen to me.”
“Well, he had better not,” Jackie warned. “Or else he’ll have me to worry about.”
Rose pulled her into a hug. “Just be nice, all right?”
“I’ll be nice to that man as long as you come back to me.”
Jackie slept fitfully; the excitement of having her daughter back home with her had left her restless. Knowing full well that in just the other room Rose slept peacefully. Knowing that Mickey Smith was just outside in the sitting room, sleeping just as restlessly as Jackie herself. Knowing that the Doctor would come back and steal away to the stars and take their girl with him soon enough.
Rose had made sure that Jackie invited the man to stay over, but with a cheeky smile he had declined. He’d been silent as they had spoken through the night, rarely saying a word. Not like him at all. And when the words had run out and sleep had begun to move its hand over the Tyler residence, it had been the Doctor who had been the first to slip away. With a polite thanks and a soft spoken goodnight, he had slipped out the door and away from the humans to disappear into his box. Jackie would not forget the way Rose had stood inside the doorway, watching until the moment he had looked back and given one last silly wave before the door closed behind him.
There had been something…private about that moment. As if they were something much more than friends. Neither Jackie nor Mickey had been brave enough to open that subject.
But now it was morning and there was nothing to do except enjoy Rose’s company. While it lasted.
Outside her room, the flat was empty; no one else was awake. She put the kettle on and stepped outside to get the paper. Mundane tasks that seemed so out of place with her depressed excitement, but somehow, they gave her a small comfort. Maybe if she went on as she always had, life would return to normal.
But things never went as Jackie wanted them to. For there, standing on the balcony staring into nothingness, was the Doctor.
Unsure of what to do, Jackie quietly stepped up beside him. Setting her hands on the ledge, she stayed silent for a moment. The Time Lord was quiet as well, his eyes seeing things that Jackie couldn’t dream of seeing. Nor did she wish to.
“You keep her safe, you understand me?” Jackie said finally, “You keep her safe. And if you don’t…don’t you ever show your face on this planet again. Do you understand? I don’t care if you’re a Lord of Time or if you have a box that travels through Space and Time, blimey, I don’t even care if you’re master of the universe. If you harm her in any way, I will hunt you down and all that power and knowledge and alien technology won’t do you a bit of good.”
He nodded. “I understand, I won’t hurt her.” He put his hands up as if to show that he was harmless. Except he wasn’t…because he didn’t need a weapon like normal people did—like proper people. After all, he had blown up 21 Downing Street with just a phone. No, the Doctor wasn’t harmless in any sense of the word.
“I don’t think that you do understand, Doctor,” she said, her voice rising with passion. “Because, she’s my daughter, you see? And I can’t—I won’t let anything happen to her, not even if I have to, if I hav— …Oh, I don’t even know what! But I’ll do it, whatever it takes, don’t you mistake me!”
The Doctor looked at her then with an understanding that shocked Jackie. It was the look of a parent’s understanding. Perhaps he really did comprehend what she would do if Rose was injured.
“I understand. I won’t let anything—anything in the universe hurt her,” he promised, and though Jackie hated him for taking Rose away from her and though she distrusted him with everything that she had, she believed him.
The Doctor would do whatever it took to keep Rose Tyler safe…even if it cost him his life.
“Good,” was all that Jackie could say.
And with one last nod, she entered her flat again.
Thirty minutes later, Rose came out and Jackie was lost once more in her daughter’s stories. This morning it was all excitement and laughter—the stress of yesterday’s events were wearing off and the joy of having Rose there with them was settling in.
But of course it couldn’t last.
The Doctor stayed for only one day before he showed any real signs of restlessness. Anyone could see that he wanted to be gone—staying at home and visiting wasn’t his style; he belonged in the stars not on the ground.
And though Jackie hated the fact that her daughter wouldn’t stay longer, she begrudgingly thanked him for staying as long as he had. Still, it was a subdued party that stood in front of the Blue Box that night, with Rose’s suitcases in front of them, a silent message that she was leaving again and that she didn’t plan on coming home for some time. Again.
“Thanks, Jacqueline Tyler, it’s been a pleasure.” He shook her hand, turned to Mickey. “Mickey Smith, it’s been…well, you know. Anyway, farewell.” Then he picked up the suitcases and disappeared into that alien world.
Jackie waited patiently for Rose to say her goodbye to Mickey; after all, she didn’t want to say farewell. But at least this time, there was one.
When Rose stepped away from Mickey, Jackie grabbed her, trying so hard not to fall apart here in front of all these people. In front of the Doctor and his machine. “I love you, Rose, I love you so much.”
“I love you too, Mum,” Rose said, leaning her head on Jackie’s shoulder. “And I’ll see you soon.”
“Ten seconds time,” Jackie said, her voice cracking with unshed tears.
“Ten seconds time,” Rose promised. “I love you,”
And with one last hug, a wave and a sweet smile, she too vanished into the TARDIS. Five seconds later, the whole box disappeared.
Rose was gone again.
“Jacks.” Mickey nodded to her before settling into his place on the bin. Where he would wait for Rose to return. For as long as he had to.
Jackie nodded farewell to him. “The door is always open,” she offered because there really wasn’t anything else to say.
There was nothing else for it, so Jackie held her head up high and kept the tears back with that strength that had kept her through her husband’s death and her daughter’s suspected murder.