Remix Author: rude_not_ginger
Remixed fic: Faith
Remixed author: jellybean728
Characters/Pairings: TenII/Rose UST, Jackie/Pete
Word Count: 3,237
Summary: Rose and the duplicate Doctor suffer a crisis of his identity at their first Christmas on the other universe. Jackie tries to play matchmaker
A/N is optional: I tried to keep the original author's format and pacing, which was a challenge for me! Hope you like!
It's supposed to be Christmas.
It's the first Christmas they've all been together. Jackie had Pete's household staff set up the huge tree in the main hallway for the company party and she'd picked out her verybest cocktail dress for the occasion. The family's to be there and she's got to look the part of Pete's wife. She'll be showered with praise, compliments, and impossibly expensive presents. Christmas Eve is for the company and for the public.
But it's the family Christmas that she's really, truly excited about. The little room in the upstairs of the main house with the small, aluminum tree and the family ornaments. Opening presents with each other away from the prying eyes of the paparazzi. Those moments, occurring on Christmas Day, are even more valuable than any gifts Pete's partners would give her.
Well, except for the gift from the woman who owns Tiffany's, she's very excited about that, too.
They're setting up the family tree. It's December 23rd. There's Jackie and Pete and Tony, and Rose and the Doctor. Well, he's not really the Doctor, Jackie figures, but he looks near enough him that the name often pops out without her even meaning it to. The bloke who looks like the Doctor always looks a little sad, then. But she doesn't pay it any mind. He's still the Doctor to Rose, and that's all that matters to Jackie.
"Jackie," the bloke who looks like the Doctor says, holding up a gingerbread ornament. "Is there a reason we're putting mangled gingerbread ornaments on the tree along with the expensive ones? Besides to add to the homey-nature of the tree?"
When he talks like this, he sounds less like the Doctor and more like that ginger woman, the one with the sassy attitude that Jackie thought she might've liked, if they got to know each other. It's that know-it-all-ness, and the pickiness of appearance. It's different.
Rose notices it, too. She had been not-so-subtly watching him decorate the tree, but hearing this, she looks away, back to the box.
"Because Tony made them, sweetheart," Jackie tells him. It suffices, and he hangs them up.
"Where is the little monster?" Rose asks with a forced sort of cheeriness. "After the first few steps, I thought he'd never stop running around."
"Everyone needs sleep," the bloke who looks like the Doctor says. "Even little monsters."
"You didn't used to," Rose says. Jackie can tell that Rose didn't mean to say this, because her face instantly scrunches up into something like the way Jackie's hair would look after a very bad home-bleach job.
The bloke who looks like the Doctor looks sad for a moment, but he brushes it off in a way that Jackie knows is just like the Doctor. "Well, everything's a bit different now. I didn't used to do family Christmases, either."
"And we're all very glad you do," Jackie says. "Aren't we, Pete? We're very glad."
"Yep, glad, right." Pete nods, then leans forward as if to impart some sort of wisdom to them. Jackie feels her shoulders lighten. Course Pete would fix this thing between Rose and the Doctor. Course he would.
Course, that's when Pete's phone rings. He sighs, leans back, and pulls out his mobile. He's always so efficient with his work in the way Jackie used to think she wanted Pete to be, back when he was her Pete and alive. But Pete was always there. Oh, a few minutes late, the wrong address turning him around, but he never missed a birthday. She never spent a Christmas putting up ornaments alone.
As he heads for the door, Pete pauses for a moment and puts his hand on Jackie's shoulder. He's told her he wished his Jackie would want him around more, and he's not sure what to do with her as she is. A bit clingy, far too emotional.
You'll manage, she told him.
He laughed. I only hope I can.
That's got to be what will happen with Rose and this bloke, yeah? They can't sit in a room and avoid each other's gaze forever, can they?
Rose pays extra attention to a bow on a present. The bloke who looks like the Doctor pointedly hangs up Christmas ornaments, tsking loudly at chipped corners. The tone of his voice is teasing, though, the way Jackie'd imagine a babysitter tsking over a beloved child's disaster of an art piece. He really likes Tony and living with a family, Jackie thinks. He just doesn't know how to express it, or really get involved.
"So," Jackie says, pretending to pay attention to another box of ornaments as she considers him. "You don't have Christmas back on your planet, right? What sort of holidays do you have?"
"Well," he fusses a bit with another ornament. "Weren't much of a fan of holidays, my lot, were they? Not big into the whole 'fun' thing. Though they did have a go at it, I always reckoned it was to save face with the other stuffy races. Lots of holidays based around the death of some evil renegade where the main course of celebration was doing what you were told."
"Doesn't sound like much fun," Rose says, tucking one leg under herself in an effort to get comfortable. Jackie's seen this move before, it's before she thinks she's going to hear a really interesting story, probably told by the Doctor, like he did that one Christmas they all spent together. A story about some girl named Susan, and her teachers Ian and Barbara, and the Christmas they spent together. Jackie felt like she was missing something when she heard that story, but Rose drank it all in.
"It wasn't," the bloke who looks like the Doctor agrees. "And Donna always hated Christmas and other holidays. Usually spent the day before drinking and the day of nursing a hangover. Must be why I'm craving rum so very badly."
"Could also be the punch steaming over there," Jackie points out.
"Mmm. Could be."
The Doctor passed on the alcoholic punch last Christmas, and always shied away from sharing. Maybe that's why Rose looks so crestfallen at this man's words. He's a lot like the Doctor, but he's also a lot different.
"You swallow a lemon or something, dear?" Jackie asks Rose in an effort to get her to cheer up. "It's the day before Christmas. First Christmas all together in a long while. And with Pete and Tony."
"Not everyone's here," Rose mutters under her breath. Jackie can hear it and she's all the way across the room, she has no doubt the bloke who looks like the Doctor can hear it, too. He flinches.
It strikes Jackie as impossibly cruel. Did she really raise an impossibly cruel girl? She knew she raised a strong girl, a stubborn girl, a stupid cow of a girl who would leave her mother worrying about her for a year without so much as a phone call, but not a cruel girl.
"Lights," the bloke who looks like the Doctor says, suddenly. "That's what this tree needs, lights!"
"In the third hallway's closet," Jackie says. Good. He can go, let her talk to her daughter. Jackie will let Rose get away with an awful lot, she thinks. Universe cannons, great big Dalek guns, and having this stranger move into the mansion with them, but she will not let Rose ruin Christmas.
He shifts, as if to get to his feet and run out of the room, but Rose is faster. She's been chasing the Doctor for so long that Jackie doubts anyone in this universe could outrun her.
"I'll get them," she says over her shoulder. And like that, she's gone.
The tension in the room goes down ten notches.
Jackie and the bloke who looks like the Doctor realize they're alone in the room together.
The tension in the room goes up twenty notches.
Jackie, never one to let things linger, speaks first: "So, no holidays, then?"
"Nope," he replies.
"What about religious celebrations?" she asks.
"Sort of goes in the same category as 'holidays', doesn't it?"
"Holy-days, holi-days? Same thing, Jackie."
"Well, what I mean is, do you have any faith?"
The bloke who looks like the Doctor sighs. "Donna was raised Protestant, and the religions of Gallifrey are really complicated, sort of a twisted version of the three hags at---"
"I don't care about what she believed or what people on Gilford believed," Jackie snaps. "I want to know if you believe in anything."
He looks back to the door. "I used to think I did." And although he was mostly human, and although he didn't really belong to any planet, Jackie had the strangest feeling of distance from him. Like someone so far away from everything they understood that they were struggling with the universe to just stay put.
"She'll come around, love," Jackie says quietly, sympathetically, reaching out a hand to put on his shoulder. "It's been everything to her these last two years. Getting back, that is. Thought she'd kill herself jumping around universes. Worried for a while that she wanted to."
"Without Him," he says. Him being the Doctor, Jackie figures.
"No, you plum. Without you."
"I'm not the Doctor," he says. "I'm only sort-of like Him."
"More than sort of," Jackie speculates. "You've even got that hair of his. I always figured that was a freak of nature or something."
"Oi!" he says, sounding affronted. He almost sounds genuinely offended, which Jackie can only figure comes from the other part of him. The Donna part of him.
"Just…have a little faith," Jackie says. "She'll come 'round."
He nods. "Faith's not easy to come by."
"Yeah, but once you've got it, you can't let it be shaken."
He beams. "Jackie Tyler, that was positively wise of you."
"Oh, come off it. I'm serious."
"So am I." He sighs, and then nods. "I have faith in her. The Doctor had faith in her, told the Devil himself he did. And Donna did, too. Rose was her only friend in a terrible world. I'm made to have faith in her, Jackie. That'll never go away."
It's not much, but it's a start, Jackie thinks. At least he's receptive to having faith. At least Jackie knows he has faith in Rose, even if he's afraid he's losing it. The bloke who looks like the---oh, sod it.
"What are we supposed to call you, anyway?" Jackie asks, exasperated by her own internal narrative.
He looks a little startled by the question. "Um, well, I haven't thought of a name for myself, yet---"
"Well get a move on with it, love, I've got presents to put under the tree and if they haven't got tags, Tony's going to be certain they're his."
"I'll think about it as best I can."
"Right, and until then I'm just going to keep calling you 'Doctor', all right?" Jackie pats his shoulder and gets to her feet. "I know you're not quite the same person, but you mean the same thing to my daughter. I'll stick with what I know. And keep on with that tree, I'll be back in a few minutes."
The Doctor blinks, and then salutes.
Jackie heads down the stairs, meeting her husband halfway up. He puts his mobile in his jacket pocket and looks up at her apologetically.
"I'm sorry about that," he says.
"It's okay," Jackie replies. She sighs. "It isn't. Pete, you know how much Christmas means to me."
"I know," he says, putting his hands on her shoulders. "And you know how much my inventions mean to me."
"More than your family?" Jackie's voice is sharp, and she tugs herself away from her husband, storming down the stairs towards the kitchen. She can hear the silence of Pete not following her.
Rose is eating gingerbread-flavored ice cream, all curled up at the table.
"So much for lights, then?" Jackie asks.
"He only wanted them to get out of the room," Rose counters, gesturing at her mother with her spoon.
"Isn't that what you used them for?" Jackie demands, putting her hands on her hips.
Rose shrugs. It's a very offhanded gesture, and one that Jackie's not used to seeing from her daughter.
"None of that, young lady," Jackie snaps. "You've got nothing to be miserable about. You've got a good family, a man who adores you. Everything you could want."
"Not everything," Rose says.
"Oh, come off it. He's the Doctor, and you know it. He looks like him, he thinks like him, just like he said. He loves you, Rose." Jackie sighs, then moves to the chair next to her daughter. "Rose, he loves you."
Rose's eyes shine with tears, but she won't cry, Jackie knows. Rose has forgotten how to cry in the last two years. Pete always says it's a sign that she's strong, but Jackie feels like, somehow, that part of Rose is proof at how much she failed as a mother. Her daughter can't even express her sadness.
"He's not the Doctor," she says. "He's got his memories, but he's not quite, you know? He says things that the Doctor would never say. It's like I've got a mockery of him. A great big joke."
"You know what he said to me?" Jackie says. "He says he has faith in you. Real faith. Faith from the Doctor and from that other woman---"
"Donna," Rose interjects.
"But it's real, Rose. Real faith." She sighs. "You know, Pete's not quite like your Dad. Doesn't always say the things I know your Dad would say. Buys the wrong gifts sometimes, doesn't always know how to make me laugh." Then, Jackie sighs again. Slower, happier. "But I love him. I love him because he's still Pete. Maybe not the Pete from my dreams. But he is. He's real. So's this Doctor. You'll learn to love him, too."
Jackie thinks about that first night with Pete. His embrace was firmer, more confident. It was startling, and she almost felt like she'd met another man, some other strange man with his face. But his eyes. Oh, his eyes were just like Pete's. The little changes didn't matter, he was her husband. She loved him.
She reaches over and pats the side of Rose's face. Her daughter leans into the touch a little, the way she used to when she was very young. Rose is still very young, Jackie reminds herself. Too young to hurt like this.
Rose draws in a shaky breath. "I don't know if I can."
Jackie nods. "I've got faith in you, too. In both of you." She stands, then turns back to her daughter. "And be nice to him at Christmas, would you? It only comes once a year, for goodness sake! Nobody's got time machines anymore!"
Despite herself, Rose laughs.
Even though it's a sort of forced laugh, something feels better. Something is fixed.
It's Christmas Day. Christmas Eve went without a hitch. The Doctor kept himself scarce as promised, Rose was charming and wonderful, and that lovely lady at Tiffany's gave Jackie the most gorgeous necklace.
She wore it even now, in her jim jams. Tony tries to reach up and play with the shiny baubles, but Pete moves his hands down and away.
"Mummy's getting you a gift, sweetheart, don't play with that," Pete says. When she hands the toddler a package, he slips a smaller one into her hand, too.
"What's this?" she asks. She puts Tony in her lap and opens the package. It contains a slim, grey mobile phone.
"It's my phone," he says. "It's off. For today. For every important day, Jackie. I can't always be here, but I'll always be here for you."
Jackie feels her eyes tear and she leans up to press a kiss to Pete's mouth. She pulls back after a moment. "This isn't your only gift for me, right?"
"Course not, there are about half a dozen under that tree."
"Good." She kisses him again. Tony tugs at their arms as they kiss, but eventually gives up at trying to gain their attention again.
"Mum." It's Rose that finally brings them out of their tiny, romantic moment. She's standing by the door, holding a large album that says Forever on it. Jackie smiles. It's something she saw her daughter working on since they had that talk in the kitchen. Something to prove that she had faith in the Doctor, too.
But something's wrong.
"What is it, sweetheart?" Jackie asks.
"Where is he?" she asks.
He? Jackie looks at Pete, then back at Rose. She hadn't even realized that the Doctor hadn't come downstairs for Christmas morning. She places Tony back down on the floor and stands, stepping over to Rose.
"You haven't seen him?" she asks.
Rose shakes her head. "No. He---I thought I heard him walking around last night, but I wasn't sure. He sleeps on the other end of the hall, Pete, when he walks it's very noisy," she adds the last to her not-quite-father's disapproving look.
Jackie shakes her head. "Oh, he's probably just…gone out somewhere for…" She looks to Pete for assistance. "Tell her!"
"Last minute Christmas shopping?" Pete offers weakly.
"Everything's closed for the holiday," Rose says. "Wait---"
She steps towards the tree and reaches in, where a small envelope sits tucked behind a few aluminum branches. Rose, it says in a thin, neat handwriting that Jackie doesn't recognize. Rose slips a fingernail under the seal and breaks it.
Her breath catches. A sharp, stunned sound. The same sort of noise that someone makes when they get a rather nasty papercut, or a burn.
Jackie's heart sinks. She doesn't need to see what's on the letter to know what it says. A burn indeed. Pete puts a hand to Rose's shoulder as she folds the letter closed again. They're quiet for a long moment, only the sounds of the baby tussling with the wrapping paper breaking the silence.
"I can't believe he'd do that!" Jackie half-shouts, furious. "After all that rubbish about having faith in you! And then he goes off and runs away!"
"It's just like the Doctor," Rose murmurs.
"Just like the Doctor! I'll slap him what for just like he's the Doctor! Running off on Christmas! I bought him a tie!" Jackie stomps her feet and Tony giggles. It's a very frustrating giggle, because it's the sort of noise that Jackie wants to coo at, but she's far too enraged to indulge him.
"At Christmas!" Jackie bellows again.
"Yes, sweetheart, we know," Pete says, trying to sounds sympathetic.
"Who does he think he is?"
"The Doctor," Rose says. "The Doctor would do this." Her voice is strangely calm. She tucks the letter into the journal and takes in a shaky breath. It's the only sign that she's even considered crying.
Jackie feels twice the failure. Failure because she couldn't keep the man her daughter loves around, and failure because her daughter won't even cry about it.
"On Christmas!" she cries out one last time.
"He says he was listening to what you said, about faith. Wants to figure out what his name is," Rose says. "But he'll be back."
"Are you so sure?" Jackie asks.
Rose smiles. It's small, but it's warm. And it's real. Jackie almost swears it's the first real smile she's seen out of her since the Doctor, the proper Doctor, left.
"He promises he'll come back," Rose says. She leans down, sliding the book beneath the tree. "The Doctor always keeps his promises."
Jackie leans back into her husband's embrace. They've got each other, they've managed despite their differences, and Pete never ran away.
At least Rose has faith in the Doctor. It's something to hold onto, at least.
So why does it still feel like a failure?