aibhinn_fics: (DW Ten  Lover-Friend)
[personal profile] aibhinn_fics
Title: Forever is a Gift
Author: [ profile] aibhinn
Rating: All Ages
Warnings: None
Disclaimer: Not mine. Not making any money. Please not to sue me.
Summary: The TARDIS has decided it's Christmas—and there's a box under the tree for Rose.
Author's Note: This is a consolation prize for [ profile] wiggiemomsi, who JUST missed out on the winning bid in the Support Stacie auction. Twelve hundred words of fluffy goodness. Keep the insulin handy, just in case.

The TARDIS Christmas tree twinkled brightly in the dim light of the lounge as Rose entered, cup of tea in her hand, her dressing gown wrapped tightly around her and slippers on her feet. She had no idea what hour it was, ship's time, but knew it was early. Otherwise, the Doctor would have been waiting for her in the galley, all excited about where he would take her today. Since there'd been no sign of him in the time it took her to make a cuppa and wander down to the lounge, she presumed he was off doing whatever it was he did when she was sleeping.

She settled herself on the end of the sofa and tucked her feet under her, both hands cradling the cup. The lights on the tree cast a warm glow over the room. Rose wasn't sure why the TARDIS had decided it was Christmas time, but she was pleased all the same; Christmas had always been her favourite time of year, and the tree made her think of years with her mum, around their little white tree, trying to sneak presents in and hide them away from each other—sometimes in the most preposterous places. Rose would never forget the time her mum had hidden a set of earrings for her in a plastic zip-top baggie inside the toilet tank.

She giggled at the memory, but then turned her thoughts to the Doctor. What would she get him? If the TARDIS had decided it was Christmas, she ought to get him something—but what does one buy for the 900-year-old alien who has, literally, everything?

Something at the bottom of the tree caught her eye, and she looked more closely. It was a small present, wrapped in pink-and-silver paper with an elaborate bow at the top. A little thrill went through her, and she set her tea down on the table and scooted off the sofa to sit in front of the tree cross-legged. She reached out and touched the package with a tentative finger, tracing along the line of the ribbon. It looked like something that had been wrapped at a posh shop, not like anything she'd ever received before. Any question she might have had as to who it was for—as though it could be for anyone else—was cleared up by the little tag that read 'Rose' in the Doctor's familiar scrawl.

Should she open it? She chewed her lip thoughtfully. Was it 'Christmas day' yet or not? How would she know if it was? Maybe she should wait for the Doctor and ask him.

But her hands itched to tear the paper open. She couldn't imagine what he would have got for her, and her curiosity burned. The TARDIS's hum warmed a touch, as though encouraging her. Go on, the ship seemed to say.

"I shouldn't," Rose said aloud, gazing longingly at the package. "I should wait."

"Of course you shouldn't!" the Doctor said from behind her.

Rose yelped and jerked around, clipping her elbow on the edge of the table. She yelped again and cradled her elbow against herself. "Ow! What d'you think you're doing, sneaking up on me?" she demanded, more out of irritation with herself than real ire.

"I didn't sneak up on you!" the Doctor protested, wounded. "I stood in the doorway until you said something, and then I answered you. It's not my fault you couldn't hear me coming down the hallway." He joined her on the floor, sitting slightly behind her so he could rub her sore elbow with his hand. "Not broken, I think," he said. "I could kiss it and make it better, though, if you want. Since you can't do it yourself. Did you know it's physically impossible to kiss your own elbow? Unless you're a Gizzanth, of course, but they've got a skeleton made of cartilage, like a shark's, so they're a bit more limber than you or I." He scooted closer, his chest against her back and his legs on either side of her. His arms wrapped around her loosely, and he leaned his chin on her shoulder. "Go ahead," he murmured. "Open it."

"But I haven't got you anything," she said.

"I don't care, Rose, honestly. It's not about that. It's about me wanting to give something to you." He pressed a kiss behind her ear, and she suppressed a pleasant shiver. "Go on," he urged.

She gave in and tore the paper open. Inside was a small box, covered in some sort of shimmery, iridescent material. She lifted the lid, and—

"Oh," she gasped.

Inside was a necklace. The chain was of flat links, thicker than a normal chain but not overly heavy, and each set with a tiny diamond. From the chain hung a pendant that looked like the same type of stone, cut to look like a starburst. Hands shaking, she lifted the necklace out of the box and held it up to the light. It sparkled brilliantly at her.

"Let me," the Doctor whispered, and lifted the chain from her hands. Numbly, she held her hair out of the way as he draped it around her neck, fastening it at her nape and placing a kiss over it. "There," he said. "Look, you can see yourself in the fireplace."

Rose turned slightly. The fireplace was cold, protected by bi-fold glass doors that were more decorative than useful, as there would be no cold wind down this chimney. She could see her reflection in the glass: a band of light around her neck, with a star nestling in the hollow of her throat. "'S beautiful," she said. Her voice trembled. "Thank you."

He wrapped his arms around her again, resting his cheek against her hair and meeting her gaze in the glass. "It's one-of-a-kind now," he said quietly. "The stone and the metal are from Gallifrey. I bought this centuries ago." He ran a finger down the line of the flat chain. "It suits you."

Rose's hands slid down to rest atop his at her abdomen. "Who did you buy it for?" she asked, just as quietly.

He was silent for a moment, and she felt his ribs expand and contract against her back as he took a deep breath. "My wife," he said at last. "When our daughter was born. My granddaughter Susan's mother. I kept it after she died. She wasn't a Time Lord, you see; not only couldn't she regenerate, but her lifespan was much less than even my first body's. But I didn't want my House or hers to get its hands on this—they'd have loved to; it was worth a fortune even then—so I took it when I took the TARDIS. It's been with me ever since."

Rose craned her neck to look at him, at the dark, haunted eyes of the man she loved. "I'm sorry," she whispered.

He managed a smile. "Don't be," he said. "I had her for over eighty years, and I wouldn't change a minute of it. And I've got you for as long as I've got you, and I wouldn't change a minute of this, either."

"Forever," she told him, reaching up to touch his cheek. "And I mean it this time."

"You meant it the last time," he reminded her.

"Mm. So now you've no way out."

"That's fine with me," he said, bending to capture her lips with his.
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