SHERBET FOUNTAIN

Sherbet Fountain:

Back in time for Breakfast

Disclaimer: Everything is property of the BBC. I own no characters, trademarks, related merchandise or shoes.

Author's Note: Confession time. I've been MIA from the Whoniverse for a while. Studying and boys sort of took over and whilst I did watch the Series' with the Ponds I didn't get as thoroughly into it. However, the news about Billie and David coming back reignited the Doctor/Rose love and well...I'm back! Can I stay?


Pale, winter sunlight was filtering through a crack in her curtains filling her bedroom with a hazy sort of glow. Rose frowned at it, awake but did not open her eyes. The pillow was thinner than she was used to, too and whatever kind of duvet she was wrapped up in felt bobbly; worn rough with age and use.

She lay completely still, listening. She couldn't hear the steady humm of the TARDIS murmuring away all around her. It was quiet. She could make out the clanking and banging of a really old central-heating system clunking into life inside a wall somewhere behind her.

Still feeling half-asleep she opened her eyes a fraction and groggily took in her surroundings before closing her eyes again.

The first thing her eyes had focused on was a small plaque with Happy 18th Birthday! written on it in pink diamantÚs clutched between the furry paws of a mohair teddy bear, sitting on her bedside table. It was beside a handful of hair grips, an empty packet of Polos and a framed photograph of her parents on their wedding day.

Ah yes, the Doctor had left her at home with her mum. She was in her old bedroom.

Everything came back to her in a torrent of images as her mind played catch-up. She saw the little-girl magazines in a 90's paper shop; a plastic lunch box sinking beneath the surface of an algae-strewn duck pond; her younger self crying and cowering beneath a layer of sherbet; her kindly childhood neighbour waving a dishcloth about and the Doctor; the Doctor picking her up and hugging her close just to get her to shut up...

Now she was definitely awake.

Poking a crust of sleep from out of the inner corner of her eye, she got out of bed and almost immediately regretted it. Goosebumps crept up her arms and she began to shiver at the chill, her jaw quivering. It had always been freezing in this flat before the heating kicked in. Even then it was draughty and Jackie used to roll up towels and wedge them in the gap between the doors and the floor.

Deciding that her slightly crumpled hoody that she had left in a heap on her floor would do as a dressing gown, she pulled it on and headed in the direction of the kitchen, following the smell of toast and instant coffee.

"Morning, sweetheart, " Jackie said cheerfully as Rose entered the kitchen, burrowing her chin into the neck of her hoody for warmth. Jackie herself was stood in front of the open oven door, using it as a heater.

"What time is it?" asked Rose, yawning, making a beeline for the kettle.

"Just gone ten. D'you fancy a bacon sandwich? Sausage sandwich? I could do some eggy bread?" she offered hopefully.

Rose clicked on the kettle and leaned against the bench, sleepily. She was trying to work out whether she felt hungry or not. It always took her at least half an hour for her to feel even vaguely human in the morning and the thought of food made her feel slightly nauseous.

"I'm...going to stick to tea at the minute, Mum. Thanks."

"Did you sleep all right, then? You looked like you needed it," remarked Jackie, reproachfully as she pulled her cardigan tighter across her chest and crossed her arms. "Nothing like your own bed, though, is there?"

Rose made her tea, blinking to try and wake herself up as she poured boiling water in the kettle.

"Yeahhh, it was fine," she replied. She could tell that she still sounded half-asleep and really dopey.

Jackie shook her head at her in amusement.

"Go on, sit down, drink your tea and I promise I won't talk to you till you're actually functioning."

Rose smiled placidly, then slumped down at the table and buried her head in her arms.

She didn't look up, even as she heard Jackie take the seat opposite her, clattering a plate down on the table and heard the crisp scraping of what could only be her buttering her toast and cutting it into triangles.

In fact, it took a good five minutes before she resurfaced to take a cautionary sip of her still-too hot tea and then another five minutes until she finally felt awake enough to hold a conversation.

"This tea tastes weird," she announced at last, wrinkling her nose and waggling her tongue at it in distaste. "You changed the tea bags?"

"No," answered Jackie distractedly, ruffling the paper as she turned a page. "You're probably just used to space station filtered water or whatever he has on that TARDIS. You know, like when you went to the Lake District with school and you said the water was funny up there?"

She nodded, impressively at Rose, as if that proved her theory and went back to what she was reading.

From what Rose could see, it looked like the free local rag. It was more adverts for second-hand cars and houses for sale than actual stories but still, Jackie liked the problem pages and the horoscopes.

"Listen to this," Jackie read aloud, with a snort of disbelief. "'I lost 10 stone and now my husband doesn't fancy me.' Poor thing. All that hard work and he's not even interested."

Rose wasn't listening. She was leaning forward, reading the article facing her, on the back of the story that Jackie was holding up. A story about a Blockbuster break-in and the names of the men behind it who had been arrested. She had recognised their names. How could she not? She had been standing in front of them less than twelve hours before. Their scruffy, youthful faces were still fresh in her mind's eye. She could almost still smell musty algae and sherbet. She felt her face redden and suddenly she didn't feel chilly and sleepy any more.

She felt hot and uncomfortable, as if the air in the kitchen had turned cloying and damply warm, like when you first walk into a leisure centre.

"Give me a look at that paper," she said, in a small, almost croaky voice.

Jackie, looked up at her, puzzled, then her eyes widened in horror as she flipped the paper over and clearly recognised the article that Rose was referring to.

"Oh Rose...no. I meant to rip it out, yesterday but then you and the Doctor arrived and I..." she babbled, holding the article protectively against her chest.

"Just pass it here, Mum," ordered Rose, firmly, talking over Jackie.

Her mum stared back at her, looking unsure. She hadn't even noticed that she was now resting her elbow on her used plate, smearing greasy butter and toast crumbs all over her sleeve.

"I didn't want you to see it and get upset," protested Jackie.

"I'm not upset," said Rose calmly. "I just want to read it, that's all."

Sighing, Jackie looked unhappily at the ceiling and slid the article across the table at Rose.

Rose scanned it carefully, her hair falling into her eyes as she pored over the article, reading it twice just to make sure she hadn't missed anything.

"New evidence," she quoted aloud, chewing her lip, thoughtfully. "He wouldn't...would he? Course he would," she muttered to herself.

There was nothing to suggest that anything strange or out-of-the-ordinary had taken place and had it been any other petty criminals, then she wouldn't have given it a second thought.

Evidence is evidence. They could do all sorts these days; finger prints, foot prints, facial recognition. The only thing that made her think that the Doctor had poked his not exactly tiny nose into things and might have been indirectly responsible for those boys, well men, now, being arrested is that she knew him.

She had seen the way he looked at her as he had carried her younger self up the stairs to her flat; a blazing, almost possessive look that was both pride and affection and just a hint of something unknown.

Yeah, he would definitely have done it.

She shook her head, feeling simultaneously awed and touched. She took a gulp of tea to see if it would stop her mind from racing.

"I thought he was just going to go back in time and explode sherbet over them or something," she confessed, with a stunned giggle.

Her mum blinked at her.

"Who...the Doctor?" asked Jackie, her voice going slightly high-pitched in confusion. "Explode sherbet over who?"

"This lot," Rose said impatiently, shaking the paper to show who she was referring to. "Who used to pick on me when I was little."

She stared down in distaste at the mugshot of Daniel Todd, taken at his last arrest that they had printed with the article. He looked older than her by at least a decade; he could be mistaken as being in his late thirties. His face was bloated and unshaven; his hair was lank and the bored, arrogant look in his eyes was the same as ever. He looked like had forgotten how to smile.

"God, he's a mess," Rose murmured to herself. "A proper mess."

She glanced up at Jackie, half-expecting her to join in on her disbelief but one look at her 'I'm out of the loop and I don't like it' expression told her that she'd be far better off if she told her what on earth was going on.

Rose gave a tight-lipped smile and pursed her lips; the picture of a guilty child being caught doing something naughty with no possible way of talking herself out of it.

"I think I'd better tell you where me and the Doctor were yesterday," she admitted, taking another sip of tea and grimacing as it burnt its way down her throat.

Jackie raised her eyebrows at her, looking both stern and concerned. Classic Jackie Tyler.

"Well that would be a start Rose, yeah," she said flatly, her eyes flashing in warning.

She crossed her arms under her chest and jutted her chin out, waiting for an explanation. Last time she had seen her mum pull this face was when she had accidentally stayed away for an entire year with the Doctor.

She rapped on the table. "Come on then. Out with it."

So, Rose took a large gulp of tea to help her get the higgeldy-piggeldy events into some sort of order in her head and told her everything.

She started at the beginning; how it had all started with a ruined cocktail dress and singing Spice Girls at three in the morning; about seeing her younger self at the paper shop and realising what day they had landed in. She told her about June from next door and her dishcloth and pretending to be a police officer. She told her about how they had walked past the boys and how there had been a mini explosion a few seconds later and that they had ended up in a sherbet-strewn heap on the cobbled ground.

She talked and talked for half an hour, stumbling over certain bits, screwing the sleeves of her hoody up into her fists when she got to the bit about seeing her younger self being attacked.

She didn't cry, though. She told her mum everything in a nervous sort of soliloquy, looking down at the table at all the parts that were particularly painful to talk about.

Jackie, to her credit didn't interrupt her as Rose had half-feared she might. She just let her carry on, her face contorting seamlessly from rage to compassion every other second.

Eventually, when Rose had finished, Jackie sniffed, wiped her sleeve over her eyes, got up from the table and started to pull pans and mixing bowls out of the cupboards, making so much noise that it sounded like a little kitchen-war zone.

"Mum, what are you doing?"

Rose watched her rip open a packet of bacon with so much force that a slimy rasher went flying into the sink with a wet splat. "It's already dead, you know," she pointed out as an after-thought.

"I'm making something to eat for the Doctor," she said shortly, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. "'Coz by the sound of it the poor man hasn't had anything since that party you were at. He'll be starving, bless him."

She started cracking eggs into a large mixing bowl, slopping in the milk and scraping in a large mound of butter.

"What was it like?" she asked, her voice full of wonder. "Seeing yourself right in front of you. Was it not weird?"

Rose snorted. She wasn't that much of a seasoned time-traveller, that she was used to seeing herself, thank you.

"Yeah! Course it was!" she exclaimed, laughing. "It was like...seeing a video of yourself from years ago but like a live version! It was me. But not me, if that makes sense?"

Jackie nodded and then suddenly went very quiet. Rose watched her face fall and her eyes grow pensive and subdued.

"We never really talked about what you went through with those boys, did we?" she asked almost inaudibly, her back to Rose as she stirred scrambled eggs in a pan. The atmosphere between them changed immediately.

"Nah, not really," mumbled Rose, staring into her cup of tea, She knew why, of course. Even talking about it now felt jarringly uncomfortable.

Jackie busied herself with frying bacon and eggy bread for the next couple of minutes before continuing.

"I used to feel like I had let you down," she admitted, sadly. "I couldn't do anything at all to make them stop. Looks like the Doctor could, though," she said in a falsely bright voice with a very forced laugh to show that she was trying to make light of it.

Rose froze. She hadn't thought about this. She had felt wracked with guilt yesterday, when she had heard that her mum had blamed herself all those years ago. It hadn't occurred to her that telling her all of this might make her feel so inadequate and surplus to requirement.

"Mum," she started, her voice pained, half-rising from the table. She didn't know whether to go over an comfort her or to let her finish saying what was on her mind.

"No, it's all right, Rose," said Jackie quickly, spinning around and pointing her wooden spoon at her. She smiled bravely but her eyes were just a fraction too shiny.

"It's all right, I get it," she reassured her. "It's just...I'm your Mum," she insisted, forcefully, her mouth trembling in annoyance. "It was meant to be my job. Not his! Not all the way back then!"

She sighed and turned back to the sizzling bacon and egg-soaked bread, which was beginning to smell wonderful.

Rose gave her a few minutes to compose herself before she shuffled over to her and put an arm around her shoulders.

"He's not replacing you," she said softly, touching her head to her mum's own elaborate up-do. The last thing on Earth she would ever want to do is upset her mum. "I still need you," she promised her.

Jackie laughed.

"Oh, yeah," she said, in a tone that suggested that she clearly didn't believe her. "To do your washing and your hair, maybe!" she joked, snapping back to her usual, bubbly self.

"No! Mum-"

"Does he like mushrooms? Start doing him some mushrooms," Jackie ordered, changing the subject and thrusting a small carton of milky-white mushrooms at Rose. "Come on, Nigella."

Rose did as she was told and started slicing a handful of mushrooms as best she could with a knife that was about as sharp as her front door key.

"I think he's just a big softie," said Jackie, out of nowhere, lifting a golden, thick slice of spongy eggy-bread out of the pan and onto a plate layered with kitchen roll. "And he can't do what normal blokes do because let's face it, Rose, he wanders around licking stuff. He's not a normal bloke. So he has to find his own little way of doing it."

Rose slowly stopped chopping and replayed what her mum had just said in her head. Nope. She still didn't get it.

"What are you on about?" she asked, putting her knife down and frowning at her mum.

Jackie, who was still unloading glistening slices of eggy bread onto a plate, gesticulated wildly, shrugging.

"Well, you know...!" she replied, getting herself all worked up as she tried to articulate what she meant. "Any other bloke would send flowers. Buy you jewellery, take you out to a fancy restaurant. But him? He sculpts a statue of you and goes back into 1997 to sort out your childhood bullies!"

Rose felt her face grow very hot, again. She stared down at a wonky piece of mushroom as her tummy gave an uncomfortable clench. She had that old, teenage feeling of when one of your mates accuses you of fancying someone and you deny it even though it's painfully true.

"It's not like that, Mum," she stammered.

Jackie stopped what she was doing and looked at her, shrewdly.

"Oh, is it not?" she asked sarcastically. "Are you having a laugh, Rose? All of that, 'he's not my boyfriend, he's much more important' stuff you came out with...you're not telling me you don't have feelings for him?!" she teased her, smiling knowingly at her.

Rose rolled her eyes, feeling sixteen again. She didn't have to say anything; her beetroot-red face gave everything away. But it was far too early in the day to be having this conversation, anyway.

She finished chopping and pushed the small pile of neatly diced mushrooms across to Jackie as she thought about how she was going to reply.

"No, it's just...he did all of that with Daniel Todd because of who he is, Mum. He can't bear to see someone suffering and not do anything about it," she insisted, feeling like she was giving a well-rehearsed, tired speech. "He's just... like that. It has nothing to do with me."

As soon as she heard those words coming out of her mouth she cringed inwardly at how glum and defeated she sounded and immediately regretted saying them.

Not because they weren't true, but because she wanted so much for the Doctor to prove that they weren't true. And she knew he never would.

"Is that what you think?" mused Jackie, tipping the mushrooms into a separate pan.

When Rose merely shrugged and didn't answer, Jackie shook her head at her.

"If that's the case, then you're both as bad as each other," she tutted fondly. "I thought you had more sense, my love! I don't know..."she muttered to herself.

Rose opened her mouth to reply but Jackie shushed her, standing very still.

"Sh sh sh sh shh!" she hushed, waving at her to be quiet, raising a finger to her lips. Her mouth fell open in concentration and her eyes darted from side-to-side as if she were straining to hear something.

"Did you hear that?" she whispered, frantically turning the hob down so that she could hear over the sound of the sizzling pans.

Rose listened but all she could hear was the gentle hissing of the pans on low-heat and a police siren somewhere fairly far in the distance.

"Hear what? Mum?"

But Jackie was already pushing her in the direction of the kitchen door. "Go and get dressed. Hurry up," she told her, patting her on the backside to chivvy her along. "Your hair's going to smell like a greasy spoon with all this frying. Go on."

Feeling remarkably like a child who had been sent to her bedroom for scribbling on the wallpaper in felt-tip, Rose didn't pay her mum any attention and trudged over to join her at the kitchen window.

Jackie was standing, holding the net blinds over her head so she could see out and rubbing her sleeve over the pane to wipe away the condensation. "Look!" she breathed triumphantly after a moment's search. "There!"

Rose leaned in close to see where she was pointing, her face almost touching the glass.

"What am I meant to be looki-" she trailed off, the words dying in her throat. Because she could see it, too. A few streets away, behind the alleys full of wheelie bins and junk, beside the garages, she spotted the corner of a very blue wooden phone box. It definitely hadn't been there two minutes before.

He was back.

"That's reserved parking, too" pointed out Jackie, mutinously, raising her eyes to the heavens.

She elbowed Rose, "He'll end up with a parking fine, you know. Just you watch," she told her, aghast. "Does he think he can just park that thing wherever he wants?"

Rose tittered at her mum's scandalised muttering but then, as she stared happily at the TARDIS, waiting for any signs of movement, her smile grew wider so that it was almost splitting her face in two, her eyes crinkling.

"Yeah," she replied honestly, with a laugh, sticking her tongue through her teeth. "That's exactly what he thinks."

She took one last look out of the misted-over window and scarpered out of the kitchen to get changed, giggling to herself as she heard her Mum start banging on the glass.

"RESERVED parking," she heard her shouting. "You'll. Have. To. Move. It."

She decided she wouldn't bother telling her that he wouldn't be able to hear.

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