Title: Lucky Thirteen
Word count: about 1160
Summary: Written for a prompt at churchontime: Rose is less than impressed when she discovers the reason the Doctor won't settle down with her is that he's already been married twelve times and thirteen is an unlucky number on Gallifrey.
"Doctor," said Rose, "when are we going to get married? You can't propose to a girl on top of an iceberg just before getting miraculously rescued by a pteranodon and expect her to forget about it. Don't think I haven't noticed how you change the subject every time I bring it up."
"Oh, look!" The Doctor jabbed a finger in the direction of the scanner. "Dogs with no noses, running and romping in the fields! We finally made it to Barcelona."
"Yes, change the subject exactly like that," Rose agreed. "I don't want a long engagement, so we'd better start planning."
"Well," said the Doctor, scratching his chin and avoiding Rose's eyes, "I might have a slight problem with the idea of marriage."
"You don't believe in it?"
"Er, not exactly." The Doctor still wasn't meeting her eyes.
"I've been married before," the Doctor admitted.
"Oh." Rose stared at him for a few seconds. "Well, so have lots of people. So what?"
"Did I ever tell you that thirteen is an unlucky number on Gallifrey?"
"Kind of is on Earth, too," Rose reminded him. "Why does it matter?"
"Because you'd be my thirteenth spouse."
Rose gaped. "You've been married thirteen times?"
"Just the twelve," the Doctor reminded her. "You'd be unlucky number thirteen."
Skipping over how unflattering that comment was, Rose blurted, "You've been married twelve times?"
"Hey," the Doctor protested, "for someone who's over a thousand years old, that's not bad."
Rose stared at him. "I thought you said you were only nine hundred."
"Give or take a century or three," the Doctor said, not meeting her eyes again. "Anyway, you wouldn't want our marriage to be cursed, would you?"
"Not particularly, no."
"And if Jackie ever found out about us, she might be a little jealous."
Rose's eyes widened. "Jackie? You mean my mum, and not some other Jackie?"
"You're married to my mum?" Rose's voice attained a pitch painful to even her own ears.
"During a bout of post-regeneration confusion," the Doctor explained. "It seemed like a good idea at the time."
Rose breathed in and out deeply for about ten minutes, during which the Doctor wisely remained silent. Finally, she spoke again. "It's over and done with now. Don't suppose I can blame you for your actions while you were so sick. We can move on from this. You got a divorce, so it's over with now. Right?"
The Doctor said nothing.
"You got a divorce, right?" Rose repeated in a more urgent tone.
"I don't believe in divorce," said the Doctor.
"Well, I don't believe in polygamy," said Rose.
They stared at each other. The Doctor could go for hours without blinking if he really wanted to, so Rose quickly lost the contest.
She sighed. "Fine. I can put up with the polygamy. Just tell me, does this mean you're still married to twelve other people?"
"Oh." Rose brightened. "They all died, then, except for my mum?" (Disturbingly, the phrase "my mum" uttered in connection with Jackie's marriage to the Doctor was becoming almost easy to recite.)
"Some of my spouses died," the Doctor hedged. "Probably. Possibly. I did see one go up in flames before my eyes, so I'm fairly sure she's permanently dead."
Rose felt a sick sensation in the pit of her stomach. "You aren't by any chance referring to Jabe, are you?"
"Jabe?" The Doctor looked blank for a moment before exclaiming, "Oh, her, too!"
"But when did you have time to marry her?" Rose cried.
The Doctor grinned. "You'd be surprised. Tree bark is very..."
Rose glared at him; his voice trailed off into nothingness.
"I've come up with a solution," Rose announced. "You don't believe in divorce; I don't believe in polygamy, but am willing to tolerate it in order to be with the man I love. I'd go into a speech about how that proves which one of us is the bigger person, but I'm better than that. My idea is that we travel to a time when all of your wives--"
"And husbands," the Doctor interrupted.
"And husbands," Rose agreed, very patiently if she did say so herself.
"I don't even want to know," Rose said hastily. "Just, whatever you married, and whenever, we travel to a time when all of your previous twelve spouses are dead--"
"That's nice and morbid," the Doctor muttered.
Rose ignored him, as well as the sudden trembling of the TARDIS beneath her feet. "And after we've travelled to that time, we get married. No divorce or polygamy necessary. We'd both be happy."
"If we follow your plan, we wouldn't be able to have any friends at the wedding," the Doctor pointed out. "And I'd like Sarah Jane to be there as my best person."
"Sarah Jane?" A horrible thought struck Rose. "Oh, don't tell me you married her!"
"No, of course not!" the Doctor snapped. "I married her dog!"
As if from a great distance, Rose heard the Doctor's voice continue, "If it's any consolation, it was a short marriage. He exploded eight hours later."
After meditating for an hour (give or take, like the Doctor did), Rose felt strong enough to resume the discussion. "I've changed my mind and want full disclosure. Might as well tell me now," she informed the Doctor. "Who exactly have you married so far?"
"The Rani who was also Susan's grandmother, the Master seven times but it only counts as one, Jamie and you shouldn't be surprised because we were always clinging to each other, Romanadvoratrelundar in her first incarnation, the Cyberleader as a marriage of convenience, Fitz because I was bored, the Black Dalek, Jabe even though the splinters were an issue, Jack even though fidelity was an issue, Jackie because I was ill and it was dark, K9 because he'd been pining after me for decades, " the Doctor rattled off.
After a brief struggle, Rose's mind latched onto arguably the most bizarre of those names. "How did you end up marrying the Black Dalek, of all people? Um, of all creatures?"
"It was a valiant attempt to broker a truce during the Time War," the Doctor loftily proclaimed. "A great sacrifice on my part, especially the wedding night. You don't know what one of those Dalek plungers can do to a body."
"Don't want to, either," Rose informed him before he could continue. "And now that I know the facts, I've decided that I can get past all of that. I still want to marry you."
The Doctor sighed. "None of this negates the fact that you'd still be my thirteenth spouse."
"You could get twelve annulments!" Rose victoriously proclaimed. "Then I'd be your only spouse."
Instantly, the TARDIS throbbed violently, pitching Rose head first into the console.
"Owwww!" she cried, picking herself up and rubbing her forehead. "What was that about?"
"Rose," said the Doctor, "remember when I was telling you the names of all my spouses? I listed only eleven...."
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