The whole thing sucked. Rose had only spent a few weeks with the Doctor, this wonderful person who made every day seem like five of them, who filled her life with adventure and chaos, who was an alien (but she was finding that she really didn't mind), and Rose had to go and do the most human thing of all.
She got sick.
It wasn't any sort of exciting, alien illness, either, just a common cold: high fever, racking coughs, and a few splitting headaches. The Doctor worried quite a bit about those headaches, in fact—he decided traveling through the time vortex would only make them worse.
So they were stuck. Rose couldn't go home, meaning the Doctor couldn't even drop her off and go on without her. Not that she would have wanted him to, of course, but either way the adventure was on an indefinite pause, and it was all her fault.
These facts looped in her brain like a recurring bad dream. When she opened her eyes again the doctor was sitting next to where she lay in bed. He was on top of the covers, sitting up against the headboard. The Doctor watched her. But didn't look concerned, exactly. More curious than anything else. But then that was the Doctor all over. He had faced Daleks, Genghis Khan, and warfare, amongst other things. Probably more than Rose could ever imagine. She really shouldn't expect him to look too worried over her, over a boring human cold.
"Ugh," she said, sitting up in bed. She pushed her hair away from her face, wondered how bad it looked. She coughed a little, too. "Hi. What day is it?"
The Doctor shot her a confused glance. She half expected him to ask why she wanted to know. "February fourth, I'd guess. Things can get a bit mixed with all the timelines, but if we're going by your time…then it's the fourth."
"Oh, no," Rose groaned. She sat up straight, forgetting all about her hair.
The Doctor frowned. "What's wrong? Do you have a headache?"
She grimaced. "Worse, I think. I missed Mum's birthday! She loves birthdays; she'll never forgive me..." Unless… Rose sent the doctor a pleading look. "Oh, but we can go back in time and be there at her birthday, right? Please?"
The Doctor thought it over. "Do I have to go to the party?"
"Um, she might be offended if you don't make it."
"Just tell her I'm sick." The Doctor bumped Rose's shoulder gently with his own, returning a gesture she had made a few times before. "Common cold."
"You want me to lie to my mum?" Rose asked. She was smiling, though, because he would really do anything to get out of tea with Jackie, wouldn't he?
"No, not if you don't want to…"
"…I can do it for you," he finished.
Rose wanted to point out that that still wouldn't be lying for her at all, not if the Doctor wanted to avoid Jackie's birthday party, but when she opened her mouth to speak Rose broke into a cough instead. It wasn't just any cough, it was the deep hacking kind that seemed to be all she was good for these days. Being sick was terrible. The one consolation, at least, was that the Doctor didn't have to go through this with her. Her face darkened at the thought. "Doctor, do Time Lords really get colds? Will I make you sick?"
"Psh," the Doctor said. "It takes a bit more than a human cold for me to feel ill!"
Rose smiled at that, but her smile fell as the Doctor's expression grew more serious.
"And even if it didn't, I could risk it. Told Jackie I'd take care of you, didn't I?"
"Right," Rose said. She couldn't name what felt off about that idea, what didn't feel quite right. She pushed the feeling down deep though. She told herself it was a thought she could always examine some other time. Sometime when she felt better.
"Thank you," she said instead.
"Course!" The Doctor put a hand on her shoulder and squeezed a little, let it drop. "Only Rose Tyler would worry about me being sick when she's still on bed rest."
Rose pushed a strand of hair behind her ear. She looked at her lap. "I just didn't want to cause you more pain, is all," she said softly.
The Doctor frowned, and Rose knew it. She knew he didn't like being stuck here any more than she did. She knew she was running his week and wasting his time. She knew—
"Rose, you have never once caused me pain." Rose glared at her lap. Because that certainly wasn't true. "You've given up your home, given up your old life, cricket matches and Mickey Smith, to come traveling with me. Not too many people would do that."
Rose shook her head in disagreement. "They would if they knew what they could see out there!" Her mind flashed to planets, creatures, entire new solar systems, and she sighed. "I wonder what I should get Mum for my birthday," she said. She didn't like fighting with the Doctor much.
"Just your presence should be plenty," he said.
Rose placed a hand over his, just for a second. "Aw, that's sweet."
The doctor nodded, smiling again.
Rose smirked back. "But for my mum? For Jackie?"
The Doctor blanched, and Rose nearly giggled. "Yeah, I don't think my 'presence' will be nearly enough."
"Hm, okay!" The Doctor spread his hands out wide. "But how about this? When you get better, we'll pick her up something lovely from the Hatticomb galaxy, famous for scarves. You want a scarf made out of wool or ice or nightmares, I know just the planet. How about a scarf made out of gossip? Can you see Jackie wearing that?"
Rose did giggle this time. "Maybe," she said. Also, "Thanks."
The Doctor patted her leg a bit over the covers, then he stood and pushed himself out of bed. He was off to read something, maybe, or go take a look at the TARDIS. Rose thought to ask where, but then she was feeling a bit sleepy herself. Maybe another nap wouldn't be so bad after all…
But just as he hit the doorway, the Doctor spun back around. "Hey Rose," he said. "We missed your birthday, too!"
"Yeah…but that's not important"
The Doctor grinned wide. "Oh, I beg to differ! At the very least, I think chips are in order."
Rose smiled at that. Chips? Really? "You always think chips are in order."
"Well, on Earth we have birthday cake."
"Oh, I'm certain you do."
Rose sighed. "It's okay, I'm not sure I can taste enough to eat cake right now, anyway. Maybe chips would be better. Don't have much of a taste to miss."
The Doctor patted the doorway. "I'll just have the TARDIS make them with extra potato flavor. I like them better like that anyway. Time Lord taste buds, it can all just taste a bit like beans on toast." He winked at Rose, and it seemed like he was about to turn around again. Before he could, Rose spoke up.
"You really don't have to do this, you know," she said.
"I know," the Doctor said. "But, Rose Tyler, guess what? I want to!" Then he spun around for real and walked away, whistling something familiar as he went.
"What's that?" Rose called after him.
"Oh, just a little Gallifreyan birthday tune," he said.
"No," she corrected. "That's the 'Earthian' birthday tune."
"Yeah, and where do you think you got it from?" he shouted back. She could imagine him winking at the remark, grinning at his own cleverness. Rose couldn't hold back a smile.
It was her belated birthday on the TARDIS, and they were going eat chips with extra potato flavor. Prepared by the TARDIS. In her experience the TARDIS didn't make the best food, especially not the best human food, but she hadn't been lying about her taste buds, and the Doctor never seemed to mind. Well, it'd be an adventure…
Suddenly being sick, even on bed rest, didn't seem so bad after all.