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Sting (Fic: Doctor Who, 10.5/R/S, Oneshot)

Title: Sting
Fandom: Doctor Who
Pairing: TenII/Rose + Sarah
Word Count: 4,204
Rating: T
Warnings: A character has a severe allergic reaction. A good amount of salty language is thrown around during a fight.
Disclaimer: I don't own 'em! I just play in the sandbox.
Summary: There's a first time for everything. As it turns out, Sarah's allergic to yellow jacket stings. Her severe allergic reaction leads to a long-delayed confrontation between John and Rose, forcing them to face their fears for the future.
Notes: Sarah is TenII and Rose's daughter, introduced in my fic Ever After, but it's not necessary to read that one before this, nor is it necessary to know the 'verse it fits into, The Domestic Approach. This was written for the doctor_rose_fix ficathon prompt asking for kidfic featuring serious parenting issues. My thanks to the fine folk over at whumpers_guide for answering my questions about allergies and EpiPens.

Sting

- verb


1) to prick or wound with a sharp-pointed, often venom-bearing organ.

2) to cause mental or moral anguish.


Strangers had no compunctions, he’d learned over the past four years, about coming up to him and asking if he was certain, absolutely certain, that Sarah was his. He could see why they’d ask. Looks-wise, Sarah was all Rose: blonde, braided pigtails; toothy grin; dark, prominent eyebrows.

But if the strangers had watched a little closer, they would have realized that Sarah’s personality was a case of like father, like daughter. She couldn’t quite manage “Allons-y!” with a four-year-old’s lisp, but she could say “let’s go!” with enough spirit to marshal anyone to her cause. She was the ringleader of playground games, painting vivid pictures with her words of fighting aliens and saving the Earth. Her teachers told Rose and him that she had an active imagination, but they knew better. She was just repeating the bedtime stories her parents told her, after all, and you definitely couldn’t make those up. Real life: stranger than fiction.

Today, she was running about fighting Daleks, except she couldn’t quite master the pronunciation for that one and said it Darleks. The boys were the Daleks; the girls were the good soldiers fighting the alien threat. It made him smile: they’re in that stage, the other parents said knowingly. Boys had cooties and nothing could convince the girls otherwise, and vice versa.

“Rarrrrr! I’m the Bad Wolf!” Sarah chirped happily, diving on top of Andy Grimes and pinning him. At any other gathering, he’d be expected to scold her, but Sarah played with these kids three times a week and the scrapes and bumps are chalked up to child’s play, not any intentional roughness or bullying. Besides, Hillary Grimes, Andy’s mother, found Sarah and Andy’s interactions charming, and Rose told him that she’s halfway to planning a wedding for them.

“Sarah really is precious,” Chrissie Stark said to him, with a laugh. “You and Rose should be proud.”

“Oh, we are,” the Doctor said, grinning as he watched her untangle herself from Andy and scarper off, chased after by the others. “Couldn’t be prouder.”

“She really holds her own with the boys,” Ed Baylor observed.

“You can thank her Uncle Tony for that one. Been around her since she was a baby; as close to a big brother as she’ll ever have. He’s convinced he’ll teach her football, one of these days.”

It was his day to get Sarah to and from school and then her playdate at the park, since this was Rose’s day at Torchwood. The two of them rarely went into the field together these days—it was safer, since it wouldn’t do Sarah any good at all if both of them were to get injured or killed. He missed the rush sometimes of going out and fighting the monsters with his wife, but he would do anything to ensure Sarah’s welfare. Making sure at least one of them survived in the event of an emergency was something he could do.

And he actually didn’t mind the playdates. He’d found that he liked chatting up the other parents about their lives, their parenting techniques, their jobs. He made sure to know every name and every number, and every so often Rose would tell him how jealous some of the other mums were that their husbands weren’t that dedicated.

He was swapping stories with Ed about Tony and Sarah when they heard it: a shriek from the group of kids, and then another. Before he knew it, he was on his feet and running in their direction, and the four or five other parents were following behind him, all of them with the same thought in their heads: is that my kid’s scream? Is it my kid who’s hurt?

It wasn’t his day, apparently, because Sarah was the one who was crying, holding her right arm away from her body and looking miserable. He collapsed to his knees beside her and put his hand on her shoulder. The other parents still stood around in a worried huddle, checking their own kids as they did so.

“Sarah, sweetheart, what is it? Did you get hurt?”

She sniffed and nodded, looking up at him tearily. “Yellow jacket stung me.”

“Well, we can fix that, can’t we?” he said, giving her as big a smile as he could and reaching into his jacket pocket for his wallet. He fished out a credit card and used it to scrape the stinger away from the wound, trying to do it as gently as he could. Once he was done, he looked the wound over—the area around the sting was swelling a bit, but it was nothing they couldn’t take care of at home. Calling it a day seemed like the best option.

He looked back up at Sarah and was about to tell her they should get home, but when he really looked, he froze. Sarah looked like she was having difficulty breathing, and tears were streaming down her face in earnest now.

Panicked, he got the attention of the other parents by saying, “She can’t breathe. Why can’t she breathe? Must be allergic—what does she need—?”

“You’re the Doctor, aren’t you?” Hillary said.

“Not a medical Doctor; not the kind that could help—” And really, he’s not an astrophysicist, either, because all he has is credentials falsified by Torchwood, but the parents still know him as Dr. John Smith and he must not have specified what kind of Doctor he is—

Ed Baylor was pressing something into his hand and telling him to inject it in Sarah’s leg and hold it for ten seconds. Later, when he could process the day’s events, he’d realize that it was an EpiPen, that Ed Baylor’s quick thinking (as well as the unfortunate peanut allergy that made him have to carry the EpiPen in the first place) saved Sarah from anaphylaxis.

He did as Ed instructed and injected the epinephrine into Sarah’s leg, holding the button down until it clicked. In a minute or two, Sarah’s breathing had steadied and she’d thrown her arms around his waist, but her tears hadn’t stopped and she was whimpering in pain.

Chrissie was saying over his shoulder that she was calling an ambulance for them, but he barely heard. He just stroked Sarah’s hair and whispered in her ear, soothing her until the ambulance arrived.

“Everything’s fine, Sarah. You’ll be all right, love. Everything’s fine…”

***
“Rose. Rose. Pick up…”

He was muttering under his breath and pacing in the corridor outside A&E, and it was killing him to be away from Sarah, who was scared out of her mind, but the doctor who was looking her over had ordered him out when his nerves had threatened to scare Sarah even more.

His cell phone was pressed to his ear and incessantly ringing, and Rose picked it up on the last ring, sounding out of breath. “Hey. I should be home in half an hour; ‘m sorry if you and Sarah ’re chomping at the bit for dinner—”

“Rose, you’ll have to come to A&E,” he broke in. He’d wanted to break it to her gently, but he knew she needed to be there, knew she was going to stress out as much as he was, knew Sarah needed both of them.

“A&E?!” Her voice on the other end was louder than he would’ve liked, and the next words out of her mouth were “John, what’s—?”

She only called him John when she was nervous or upset with him, and he didn’t want to take bets on which it was. “Sarah got stung by a yellow jacket at the park, nearly went into anaphylactic shock—”

“She stopped breathing?”

Rose was very nearly yelling at this point, and he could hear her gathering her things and slamming out of her office. He tried to assuage her, even if he knew she’d still get to the hospital as fast as she should. “She didn’t stop, exactly—Ed had an EpiPen—Chrissie called an ambulance; the doctors are looking over her now…”

“I’m coming, right now. John, fuck…”

He gave her the address of the hospital and hung up once it was clear that she was gone. He sighed and scrubbed his hands over his face before making his way back to Sarah’s bed, his nerves somewhat more at ease now that Rose was on her way.

The doctor was just finishing up her exam, ruffling Sarah’s hair gently and then stepping to the end of the bed where John stood, speaking quietly.

“She’s fine now, but we’re going to keep her here for the next few hours to make sure she doesn’t have a rebound. That aside, she’s going to be worn out; epinephrine’s tough on anyone, and definitely hell for a kid. Is anyone else on their way?”

“Her mother’s coming.”

“That’s good; she could probably use the both of you right now. Your daughter’s remarkably calm, considering what she’s been through; she’s a real trooper. You should be proud, Mr. Smith.”

“She gets it from her mother,” he said with a faint smile, and the doctor told him that he could ask a nurse to find her if she needed anything, leaving once she’d made sure he didn’t have any more questions.

John checked the time on his phone, and seeing that Rose was at least ten minutes away still, went to sit beside Sarah on the bed. He smoothed her hair away from her face, grateful that she really was handling this well, like the Doctor had said. She looked small and a bit scared in the hospital bed, but otherwise, she was coping.

“Feeling any better?” he asked, as gently as he could without his voice shaking, and Sarah shook her head.

“My arm feels better, but I’m tired. Can I go to sleep?” Sarah looked up at him pleadingly.

“In a few minutes; just as soon as Mummy gets here. You’ll feel better then, okay? I promise, love.”

He kissed her forehead gently, and a clacking sound coming nearer and nearer to the bed made him look up.

Rose was limping towards the bed barefoot, holding her pair of high heels in her hand. The heel on one was broken; the other seemed perfectly fine, but hardly useful with its mate damaged. It looked like the heel breaking had done something to her ankle, as well—hence the limp. Her hair was a mess, windswept and half-falling out of its ponytail, and there was mascara tracked on her cheeks from tears.

She wasn’t happy.

A nurse tried to tell her to please put some shoes on, but Rose just pushed past her, limping to the bed and leaning down immediately, pressing a kiss to Sarah’s hair and giving her a teary hug. “Oh, Sarah, sweetheart, are you okay? Do you feel sick?”

“Just tired. Can I go to sleep now, Mummy?”

“Sure, sweetheart. Anything that’ll make you feel better, okay? Just go to sleep and we’ll wake you up when it’s time to go home.”

Sarah nodded and closed her eyes, and her breathing evened out into the rhythm of sleep within moments. Rose sat for a second, watching her, before she jerked her thumb to the space beside the bed and got up. She drew the curtain around Sarah’s bed to give her privacy and waited for him to come close before she spoke.

“I called Ed Baylor on the way; he told me what happened. John, you can’t tell me you had no idea what to do in an emergency! Jesus Christ, she’s our daughter; do you know how terrifying it must have been for her to see you upset when she couldn’t even breathe—”

He was so startled by the fury in her tone that he was rendered speechless for a moment or two, before it hit him what exactly she was saying. “And you think you would have handled it any better?” The anger in his tone surprised him, and although he wanted to be the calm one, he found that was impossible. “It’s exactly like you said, Rose; she couldn’t breathe and it was terrifying, I’ll have you know—”

“Fucking hell, it’s an allergic reaction; anyone and their mother knows what to do! You can’t tell me that in all those years of traveling, you never once ran into anybody with an—”

Watch what you say around Sarah, would you? And forgive me for not being well-versed in proper Earth protocol for an allergic reaction because this is all new to me if you don’t remember—”

“Oh, I remember; it’s next to impossible not to remember when I’m married to you!”

“So that’s it, then. You’ve never said anything before this about how you apparently find me inadequate—”

“Because I thought you would have learned by now! It’s been six years, John! You pick up a few things along the way! Or at least, he would have!”

He wanted to say something to that, but the words stung with the force of a slap and anger still lit Rose’s face. Normally, something that out of line would have made her snap out of it and apologize immediately, but today was not that day, apparently.

It took him a few moments to collect himself, to even think of a response. “You’re blowing this out of proportion. She’s fine, and I know now what to do if it happens again—”

“It doesn’t excuse that it happened in the first place, John! God, I’ve gotten used to getting calls about you in the hospital, but I never expected to get one about Sarah! If I lost her—”

“—if we lost her, you mean—”

“If we lost her, if I’d lost you like I almost did in Copenhagen… there’d be nothing left. Do you understand that?”

“I can’t believe you’re bringing Copenhagen into this.”

“What the hell else do you expect me to bring into it, John! It was traumatic; it was fucking terrifying, don’t you understand?!”

“Of course I understand! We’ve been through this, Rose; I understand more than you think I do! I almost lost you so many times—”

“—but it doesn’t stop you from going into the field still, does it?”

“You’re one to talk! I wanted you here all those years ago so you’d be safe; that was the reason I put the teleportation device around your neck—you were safe here, that was the point of it all, and you still risked your life getting back—”

“I was trying to get back to you! You didn’t seem all that concerned about getting back alive when you decided to go to Copenhagen, even when you knew it was dangerous! Do you even realize what that did to me and Sarah? What it’s like to be waiting for two weeks just to hear if you’re alive? John, if I lose her and there’s another job like Copenhagen… I can’t, John. I just can’t keep getting phone calls and hoping to God the person they’re calling about is still alive. I can’t.”

She turned away from him and pulled the curtain away from the bed, sitting on the edge and taking Sarah’s hand in hers. She never gave him a second look.

He turned on his heel and left A&E, pushing through the main doors and into the evening air, needing to get rid of the suffocating feeling of fighting with Rose. They’d never fought this badly before, especially not over Sarah.

He’d known what had happened in Copenhagen had affected her, would never have assumed it hadn’t. There’d been nights afterwards where they’d been lying awake together, not speaking but somehow still knowing what the other felt. Often, they’d finally fall asleep out of exhaustion on those nights, only to wake up with Sarah wedged between them. It had taken a long time for the terror to fade.

He headed back into the hospital once the wind became too cold for him to stand it. He glanced into A&E just to check, and saw Rose still sitting with Sarah, who was awake and talking. Even after the fight, he could still manage a smile.

Distance from Rose was best after a fight, he’d learned. He took a walk down to the cafeteria and decided to stay put.

***
John had been gone for over an hour, and while she normally would have been concerned, Rose’s only thoughts were of Sarah. She’d never even thought about allergies. Why hadn’t she? She supposed that with all the danger she and John faced at Torchwood, with all the alien threats they’d fought off and survived, the more mundane ways to die in the world had never occurred to her.

She’d basically given up hope of looking dignified once her mascara had started running, and while she’d wiped it away earlier, there was always more where that had come from. The quiet sounds of her crying were what woke Sarah, who sat up and looked at Rose worriedly. “Mummy, are you okay?”

“I’m fine, sweetheart. Mummy’s just glad you’re all right, that’s all.” Rose used her wrist to wipe her eyes and then reached out to smooth Sarah’s hair down. Strands of hair were poking messily from her braids, rumpled from sleep, and Rose would usually be doing what Jackie had done when she was a kid (fixing the braids even as Sarah insisted they didn’t need fixing, just as Rose had), but today she finds it endearing and so very Sarah. “Do you need anything? Did sleeping help you feel better?”

Sarah nodded, but seemed to look around for the first time. “Where’s Daddy?”

“Daddy just went to call Grandad Pete; he’ll be back soon.” She hoped. Even with everything she’d said, she still needed him to be around, for Sarah’s sake, at least.

She forced a smile even through her apprehension and reached for her purse, rummaging inside. “You wanna see something?”

“What is it?” Sarah asked, and though her voice sounded a bit raspy from earlier, she seemed genuinely excited. This was her daughter, back to normal; this wasn’t the scared little girl from earlier. Sarah was more resilient than she’d thought.

“Well, before I came here, I got you a present, because you’re such a brave girl for getting through something so scary. Do you want to see it?”

“Yes!”

She pulled the teddy bear from her purse and handed him to Sarah, and though she was worn out and tired as hell, she couldn’t help the smile that spread over her face when Sarah squealed and clutched the bear to her chest in a hug. He had dark brown fur and a red ribbon around his neck, and she was glad she’d somehow managed to wrangle herself into some semblance of sanity long enough to walk into the gift shop and buy the bear. She knew her daughter well, and one thing she knew was that during the Copenhagen mess, Sarah had never been without a teddy bear.

“Are you going to name him?”

“I think we should call him Eddie. Daddy said Mr. Baylor was the one who helped save me, and his name is Ed, ‘cept Eddie isn’t as big as him so he needs to be called Eddie and not Ed. Ed is a grown up’s name.”

“Well, Eddie sounds great to me. Listen, the doctors said you’re going to be tired for a while longer, and you might not feel well tomorrow. So tomorrow, you’re going to stay home from school, and you and me can watch movies in our jimjams. How’s that sound?”

“Yay!”

The smile on Sarah’s face at that, Rose decided, was worth every second of the pain.

***

“Daddy?”

He had carried Sarah to her room and tucked her into bed, and he was just finishing up a quick bedtime story (a rather mundane one about a polar bear and a penguin; after the scare she’d been through that day, telling her a bedtime story from his past just felt wrong) when Sarah said it. “What is it? You’ll have to go to sleep soon, sweetheart; you’re already up past your bedtime.”

Sarah nods, but she looks away from him as she kneads the blanket with her fingers. “When I got stung, was it okay to be scared?”

“Of course it’s okay to be scared. Who told you it wasn’t?”

“Nobody, but… brave people don’t get scared, do they? That’s what makes them brave.”

“Sarah, love…” He sat down on the chair by her bed, reaching for one of her hands and covering it with both of his, gently. “You were brave today because you were frightened. Not getting scared in a bad situation—that doesn’t make you brave. That makes you a coward, because you’re not letting yourself feel something you have every right to feel. Do you understand that?”

Sarah looked slightly lost, but she nodded anyway, before asking, “Did you and Mummy have a fight?”

“Why would you ask that?”

“Because you weren’t talking on the way home.”

Four-year-olds: gifted with perception most adults would kill for. “Mummy was just scared, like you were before. She’ll be fine in the morning; you will be, too. I’ll see you then, okay?”

“Okay. ‘Night, Daddy.”

“’Night, love.”

He leaned in to kiss her forehead, going to her door and shutting off the light, watching her settle in for sleep before he shut her door behind him and headed to his and Rose’s bedroom.

She was already in bed, lying on her side and facing the opposite wall, her back to him. He’d hoped she would have calmed by now, but no such luck.

He took off his shirt and placed it in the hamper, doing the same with his jeans once he’d gotten them off. He set his belt in his dresser drawer and then got into bed with her, lying on his own side and placing a hand on her shoulder. “Rose. Are you—?”

“Of course I’m awake.” She rolled over to face him finally, giving him a slightly incredulous look. “If you think I’m sleeping at all tonight…”

“Then I don’t know you at all, I know.” He sighed, casting his eyes downward for a moment and then back up at her. “Rose, I’m sorry. I should have known by now what to do in a situation like that one. It used to be that the TARDIS had cures for everything, and it just never occurred to me about the things humans had to live with on Earth—”

“John.” She held up a hand to stop him, before giving him the smallest of smiles, hopefully a forgiving one. “I was… too harsh on you earlier. More than I should have been, and I know that. You freaked out, same as my mum did the first time I had an allergic reaction. It would happen to anyone, and I probably would have done the same, just like you said.” She breathed in for a moment, lying back and looking up at the ceiling. “I just worry about her sometimes. Sarah, I mean. I used to worry that she’d run into trouble, since she’s as curious as you are, and now I have to think about if she could get stung while we’re not there…”

“The doctors said they could get her an EpiPen of her own; she’d be able to use it if that were to happen. This isn’t the end of the world, Rose; there are things we can do to prevent this from happening again.”

“I know there are. It’s just… what I said earlier still stands, John. Ever since Copenhagen, I’ve been fucking terrified. For her, for you… I just want the three of us to make it through a year without one of us nearly dying.”

“And I can’t promise you that. No one can, Rose.”

“Won’t stop me from wishing.” She looked over at him, using her elbows to push herself closer and kissing him, sighing. “I’m sorry for what I said. I do love you, John. You kept as calm as you could and you got her through it.”

“And I love you for buying her the bear. Brilliant move, that was.” He stroked her cheek with his thumb, gentler than ever.

“So we’re even?” Rose said with a soft laugh.

“As ever. And there might be something I can do to make up for scaring you.”

“Oh?” Rose laughed a bit. “And that is?”

“Well, if you’ve worried so much about being left with nothing, I think our only recourse here is to ensure that we have more than one child.”

“Really, now?” Rose was smirking a bit, tracing her fingers gently down his bare chest. Only John could defuse the tension by figuring out a way to seduce her. “I never took you for the heir and a spare type, John Smith.”

“You forget that I’ve been around royalty. I might have picked up a few things.”

“So that means you’ve been around courtesans, huh?” she breathed into his lips, that smirk threatening to overtake her whole face. “Wanna show me those things you learned?”

“Oh, yes.”

* Another note, for those who might've been wondering: the Copenhagen incident is only vaguely referenced to because it only occurred to me as I was writing, and I didn't give any specifics in case I wanted to write a full fic about it, which I'm actually considering now! I am a fickle thing, and it would be irritating to give one idea here only to change my mind later on, so for now, it'll just be obliquely referenced. But it's definitely being thrown into the pile of things I want to write someday!

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
develish1
Jun. 16th, 2011 01:58 am (UTC)
great way to use that prompt, very in character and very believable :)
haveloved
Jun. 16th, 2011 03:48 am (UTC)
Thank you! :D
captaintish
Jun. 16th, 2011 03:29 am (UTC)
Lovely story! And of course, there has to be a make-up scene at the end -- all the best angst fics end happily, IMO. :D

Loved Sarah playing Daleks and Bad Wolf at the beginning, so cute! And so what I would expect of the daughter of Rose and the Doctor in Pete's World!

She only called him John when she was nervous or upset with him,

Glad to hear this. I must admit, I always get a bit weirded out by the Doctor going by any other name. :D

I really would love to see that Copenhagen fic some day!

You did a wonderfuly job here, thank you!
haveloved
Jun. 16th, 2011 03:52 am (UTC)
So glad you enjoyed! :D

The distinction between her calling him John and the Doctor was something I established mentally in one of my other fics (still unfinished, alas), and I was going to have her call him by the Doctor here, but since they were in a hospital setting, I decided it was best not to go there, LOL. It was definitely weird, though!

Copenhagen is definitely going towards the top of the list of things I want to write; it'll take a bit of drafting, but it's certainly something I'm interested in writing! And you're very welcome--thank you for prompting!
(Deleted comment)
haveloved
Jun. 16th, 2011 03:10 pm (UTC)
I really struggle with kidfic sometimes, since I'm a good five to ten years away from having kids myself, and the fight scene in this one took me hours to write. Glad to hear it's believable! :D Thank you!
(Deleted comment)
haveloved
Jun. 18th, 2011 12:39 pm (UTC)
Aww, thanks! I'm really glad you enjoyed! :D
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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