Rating: T (with a DVD extra rated MA)
Summary: In a world where Gallifrey survived the Time War, the Doctor must remarry. Only his wife will bear many responsibilities for helping rebuild and protect time. Not sure where to start, he gives Sarah Jane the power to choose. How will she pick? Written for bas_math_girl's birthday.
Required Disclaimer: This is a humorous twist on several ideas I've seen, built around one I thought of. So I don't own the characters within.
Dedications: BMG, of course! And... I suppose Juno_Inferno because of “Cosmic Love”, which fed a little into Muse's thinking about this story. And my beta for this work: tardis_mole. You really know how to make a girl feel better about what she thought was crack-fic. :D
Author's Note: Utter silliness that would NEVER have been canon. Written solely to amuse BMG. And hopefully my other readers. It clearly entertained TM, who apparently had a late breakfast because it was “compelling”. I don't encourage anyone to skip or have late meals, even if the effort is to my benefit. But I owe you one, TM. Thank you.
Time for a chapter that includes things that I think have been asked for by more than one reader. And the Doctor gets another shock. ;D Oh, and a Sylvia alert. FYI.
Chapter One / Chapter Two / Chapter Three / Chapter Four
Chapter Five: Meetings and Lessons
Finished September 9, 2013
Donna looked around her now empty flat. All her things were in her cases, mostly clothing, and she stared at the space. “What the hell am I doing?”
She'd been asking herself that silently for the past few hours. As soon as she recovered from the slight dizzy spell she felt once the Pendant clasp shut, she was hurried out with Sarah Jane and Jack, with UNIT guards accompanying them, to collect her things before any press got wind that the ad had been answered. Or before anyone could beat them to the announcement – which would have to be made by an official – that the Queen being sought was a ruler, not merely a wife.
Sarah Jane touched her shoulder. “A good thing, which I think will work out better than you realise. Jack is downstairs completing the payment of the rest of your lease, in full. Your temporary lodgings will be a UNIT-owned cottage where you'll study in peace. Your family can visit you.”
“Oh god, I need to tell them. We have to go there next.” She paled. “My mum's going to flip.”
“I'll help,” Jack said, grinning as he walked in. “Anyway, business here is done. Let's deal with telling your family.”
“That's exactly what I'm nervous about. My dad... I don't know how he'll react, but he'll be okay with me doing something important. Even though he's dying and would worry about me being so far away. Granddad will be over the moon since he's been fascinated with aliens, for as long as I can remember. Knowing his granddaughter is going to be Queen on an alien world will be like an early Christmas present. Or several all rolled into one. Mum... I don't know if this will be seen as running away from life, or if she'll believe me.” She touched the Pendant, trying to draw strength from its presence. “Mum doesn't know this, but even though my income's been sporadic, it's often more than hers. I've been living on as little as possible so I could give most of my income to helping pay for Dad's care, and clearing the mortgage a little faster. She doesn't know. She thinks the money is from some police fund that Dad's receiving benefits from since he fell ill.”
Jack touched her other shoulder. “We'll help you. How bad can it get?”
Donna glared at him, almost pleased to see him step back in alarm. At least she had the queenly look of death mastered already.
Arriving at the Noble home had been rather anti-climatic. Sylvia Noble was a woman who sought to be seen as having good manners, and was gracious enough when Jack and Sarah Jane intruded with Donna. The presence of the guards raised eyebrows, but no questions were asked until they were seated in the front room.
What caught Sarah Jane's eyes as Donna and Jack started the explanation were the photos on the mantlepiece and walls. There were many of two different boys. They appeared to stop growing at about six and three respectively, based on what looked like the newest photos, but none of them older than that. There were none of Donna in evidence.
“What the hell do you think you're doing, Lady?!”
Donna cringed, not for the first time. She looked up at her mother's angry face, hardly noticing her father and grandfather paling next to her, clearly knowing they would be out-argued on the matter. “I told you. I'm going to be Gallifrey's new Queen, so I need to study for my upcoming marriage and job.”
Sylvia Noble looked at Sarah Jane in disbelief. “You're choosing a Human who hasn't done a thing right in her life?”
Sarah Jane tried hard to keep her reaction controlled. This Prophetess knew how harsh this woman was from grief? “Mrs Noble, your daughter has fit every requirement we needed. And her wit will be useful in dealing with the stuffed-shirts of Gallifrey. And she's a woman I would be proud to call a friend.”
Jack pitched in. “Not to mention that she's quick to recover from a shock, and not afraid to tell someone off when they deserve it. Her husband-to-be will benefit, the planet Gallifrey will benefit, and I know Earth will benefit from the connections. She's going to be an important woman. Whatever your issues with her, can you at least be a support to her since family will be very important to her while we have her studying?”
Wilfred Mott grinned, despite his eyeing his daughter. “Well, she reads. She's always been reading. She learned the Dewey system backwards at her library job. She's great with kids and was always meant for something big. We called her the little general when she was small.”
Geoffrey Noble nodded. “She is better than what she's got in life. I wouldn't have thought of this for her, but it doesn't surprise me. You've chosen well.”
Sylvia shook her head. “How can a woman who's never held a true job in her life, who's never managed to keep hold of a man, and who didn't do well in school possibly be fit to become royalty?”
“Mum!” Donna was aghast. Her mother had never been this extreme in her bad-mouthing of her before.
Suddenly someone knocked on the door.
Sarah Jane blinked. “Do you have company expected?”
“No,” Sylvia said coldly. “No one's expected.”
Geoffrey looked at Jack. “Will you answer it, Captain?”
Jack nodded, seeing that the man wanted to try to reason with his wife. He moved, still listening in as the conversation continued.
Wilfred looked at Donna. “Are these guards going to be needed?”
“Yeah,” she breathed. “The Queen must be protected, after all.”
Sylvia scoffed, and a dark comment followed. “Dad, don't encourage Donna’s ‘party piece’ and imagination! It's all it is. She's done it before, but never to this extent! You should be ashamed of yourself for encouraging it and giving her ‘books’ when she should have been doing something more constructive with her time, like knitting and learning to cook and sew.”
“Sylvia!” Both men protested.
In the hall, Jack stood by the door, unable to open it for overhearing.
Sylvia turned her glare on her husband. “Oh you’re no better, taking her fishing and diving and teaching her to speak four languages before she even started school! And the football and wolf whistling and teaching her the offside rule by the age of five. And look where she is now! Nowhere, except playing some costume drama at the local theatre and believing it’s real!”
Donna's eyes watered.
Sarah Jane's jaw dropped. The Prophetess' words were truer than she'd imagined.
Jack quickly and finally opened the door. He blinked in surprise. “How did you two find your way here?”
Ross was with them. “I'm sorry, sir, but they insisted on meeting Miss Noble.”
“Well, it's their right,” Jack sighed. He waved them inside. “Can't make things too much worse,” he muttered, drawing odd looks from them. He led them into the living room.
Only the words overheard from the door kept the front room silent. But Sarah Jane couldn't hold in her retort any longer. “Did it ever occur to you that maybe those 'party pieces' were efforts to get a little attention and affection?”
Needing a distraction before she broke into years, Donna looked up and frowned. Ross she recognized, but the other two she knew she'd never seen before. They were wearing robes that made her think of monks, but she had never heard of any religious order that wore those colors; red and deep orange. The woman had short dark hair, and held herself regally. The man was almost an exact likeness for Derek Jacobi, except that he was a foot taller which meant he had to bend his head to enter the room, and was wearing the same outfit, plus an odd looking form-fitting cap on his head that extended to his neck and framed his face and revealed only his ears and the ends of his blond hair. There was no way to age these people, they seemed ancient and yet young. The man, in some very obvious act of deference and respect, stood a step behind the woman.
They looked around their surroundings with detached curiosity, and then focused on the people. “Sarah Jane,” said the woman, “where is she?”
Sarah Jane stood. “The Doctor doesn't know you're here, does he?”
The man's lips twitched oddly. “He is in too much shock from learning that the wedding has been announced. Young Mickey Smith is with him, helping him recover his composure.”
Donna had to groan, using the opportunity to cover her eyes and wipe away her tears. “The bloke fainted? Oh, that might not bode well.”
Sarah Jane cleared her throat. “We were just informing Donna's family of her future. May I present Sylvia and Geoffrey Noble, the future Queen's parents. Wilfred Mott, Mrs. Noble's father. And, last but not least at all, Donna Noble.” No further introduction was necessary.
Jack took over. “Mr. Mott, Mr. and Mrs. Noble, and Miss Noble, may I present to you the parents of the man Donna is marrying. Their names are Heradvoratrelundar and Zeusinadtorabi.” He had been mentally practicing that for days, just to get it right.
“But you may call us Hera and Zeus,” Hera added.
That caught Sylvia's attention. “'Hera and Zeus?' They have some cheek, naming themselves after Greek gods.”
Hera smirked in amusement, while Zeus looked to his feet to hide a grin. “Where do you think the Greeks got the ideas for their gods? We are their gods.”
Donna groaned again. “Great, I have to deal with arrogant people, and stuffed-shirts. You know, you might be my future in-laws and deserving of respect because of that and your age, but you can take that pride and stick it where the sun don't shine, missus. It doesn't do anything to help revive a planet.”
Both Time Lords had eyes wider than saucers, and exchanged a silent look.
“Eternals, she does have a fire in her,” Zeus muttered. “Are you prepared to deal with a Council full of people like us?” he wondered, mentally relishing the idea of being relegated back to the Civil Council once the High Council reshuffling due to a new Queen was complete.
“Are you all this full of yourselves?”
They blinked at each other over her lexicon. They turned to Jack with questioning looks.
He had to smile. “It means filled with an overly large sense of importance and an inflated opinion of yourself.”
Zeus frowned. “Time Lords and Gallifreyans in general have a great deal to be proud of.”
“Not from where I'm standing, you don't,” Donna retorted. “You got yourselves into a situation where you can't have children, your planet is ravaged by war and neglect, and you don't know how to deal with emotions. Sounds to me like you're missing the key basics of life. Especially the details that make life worth living. I wouldn’t call that pride. I’d call that evading the truth and hiding behind a facade of defiance and ignorance.”
Hera and Zeus were silenced, disbelief and a hint of comprehension warring on their faces. Was she already giving them lessons on emotions?
Sylvia risked standing and stepping into Hera's line of sight. “Excuse me, but Miss Smith must have chosen the wrong person when she picked my daughter.”
Attention captured, Hera stepped forward. “Sarah Jane Smith was given very specific instructions from our Prophetess, who saw a woman of fire with a mother who did not treat her with love or respect or like she was important.”
Donna watched in horror. She could see this going so very wrong. Her father and grandfather were trying to break in to calm things, but Zeus was doing nothing to help. Only glaring at Sylvia.
Sylvia tensed. “How dare you dare say that to me, in my own home. She is important, she's my daughter!”
Donna choked on a gasp. As shocking as that was, she feared this going further.
“Then why does she seem in disbelief over that? Why have you ignored her in favour of sons who are no more? Why have you persistently held her back in all things save disappointment if you profess to value her as important? Truly, these are not the markers of a parent who loves their child.”
Then Donna remembered the necklace she now wore, the Pendant. The note she read about it said it had the ability to project the wearer's emotions on those in her company. It could do other things when used in connection with other items of office, but... could she, a Human, make it work?
“How would you know what it's been like for me?!” shouted Sylvia.
Concentrating while her mother spoke, Donna remembered a moment when she felt calm, and then imagined the emotion and sensations she had then spreading to her mother, to Zeus, and to Hera.
She felt the Pendant become a little warmer.
The two mothers were ready to have another go at each other, but then they were both silent, blinking at each other. Sylvia spoke first. “Where did all this calm come from?”
Hera blinked harder. “Is that what this emotion is?”
Zeus also blinked. “It is different from the results of meditation. What has happened?”
Donna opened her eyes and sighed in relief. It worked! “Oh my god!” she almost purred, looking down at the Pendant around her throat in awe.
Sarah Jane and Jack looked at her and noticed the Pendant returning to its dormant shine. They gasped.
“She can use the Pendant!” Jack exclaimed.
Hera and Zeus looked again, and their mouths fell open.
Sylvia turned toward Donna. “What, is that what that necklace is?! What just happened?!”
Sarah Jane found a smile. “The Prophetess' notes said that it would not react to the influence of anyone who did not have a right to be Queen. It means I chose rightly, especially if a Human can call upon its ability to project their feelings on others. Seems to me, Donna wanted you all calm enough to listen to her.”
“Actually I was feeling anything but calm. I relied on a memory to project the emotion.”
Zeus sucked in a breath. “No Queen has ever been recorded as capable of projecting an emotion she was not feeling at that moment. How did you do it?”
Jack grinned. “Human imagination. That's one of best things about the people on this planet. Some can use the creative power of the mind to think themselves into any emotional state, or put together a story that makes others feel they lived through it. If Donna can use her imagination to project any emotion she can think of, that makes her extraordinary and more powerful than the Queens of record.”
Donna's family stared in shock. Wilfred and Geoffrey could barely exchange glances with a hint of awe and pride in her.
Hera slowly looked back at Sylvia, and touched her shoulder. “From a mother to a mother; I lost my son. I sat holding him for three days while he slowly died. I dug his grave with my bare hands to prevent his body being taken and desecrated by man and beast. There is no voice in my mind that can take the place of his, no other who can fill the void he left behind. There is no comfort in one child remaining. But I have him when others have nothing. I know your loss.”
Sylvia covered her mouth half way through the story. Instinctively she knew Hera was not lying, and could not lie about it. Her grief was raw, and it was unclear how recent it was. And she had never met anyone else who had lost a child.
“Our ways are very different to yours, but I can understand that you do not like the idea of such a drastic change in your daughter's life. I implore you to understand that our planet needs a Queen again to lead us. Our need is more vital and desperate than your wishes for your daughter. And now I am convinced that your Donna is the right woman for the job.”
Zeus nodded. “She may be perfect for our son.”
Hera did not completely silence a laugh through her nose at the thought.
Sylvia's eyes filled with tears. “But will I ever see her again?”
“Mum.” Donna stood and took her mother's hands in hers. “I've been promised leave to come to Earth whenever I want, so I will come home for visits. I’m doing this because I want to, because it’s the right thing to do. I’m not a prisoner. Might have a guard with me, but I will visit. I'm even still going to go scuba diving next month, to relax before the wedding. I really need you and Dad and Gramps to help with preparing the wedding. I want to blend Human and Gallifreyan traditions together, and I know that seeing Anglican aspects would be important to you.”
Sylvia nodded. “I want a ceremony that would be recognized by our laws.”
Hera nodded. “Then it will be. Perhaps you and your husband would be willing to explain your traditions to us, and can arrange for someone to perform the Earth parts of the ceremony?”
Sylvia exchanged a look with Geoffrey, and then sighed. “Very well. Just let me have a few days to collect myself and think about what I would have imagined my daughter experiencing. If you would bring similar notes about the Gallifreyan ceremony, then we will work things out.” She offered her hand.
Hera frowned. Her son had said this was a Human tradition, and slowly returned the foreign gesture, leaving her hand hovering in the air beside Sylvia’s. Sylvia clasped her hand and shook it, sensing she needed to demonstrate.
Zeus turned to Donna. “I must ask, what is scuba diving?”
She smiled at an opportunity to explain something to satisfy a curiosity that seemed child-like in its innocence. “It’s like swimming, but instead of staying near the surface of the water you go deeper, wearing a tank of air and a mask to breathe it in. It’s fun, but you have to be trained and licensed to do it. A bit like driving.”
Hera and Zeus looked intrigued.
Geoffrey had to ask one final question. “What about money? If Gallifrey is war-weary, then how will you manage, Donna?”
She cleared her throat. “As I understand it, the Doctor – the man I'm to marry – has collected wealth over the years of travelling to Earth, and has been paid by UNIT. I will have access to his income to make sure you're all taken care of and to clear the mortgage.”
Sylvia had to sit down. “Clear it?!”
“Yes. And there's something else you need to know. The mortgage and Dad's medicines? I've been putting much of my income toward both. It's been more than you think because I wanted to help, to be taking care of my parents. That's why I seem to have so little.”
Sylvia's eyes watered. She looked at her husband. “You knew?”
Geoffrey took her hand sadly. “Her heart was in the right place. I couldn't say no. The pressure would've been too much on us both otherwise, and you've got enough already to deal with, love.”
Sylvia burst into tears. Geoffrey drew her into a hug, and then into a tender kiss.
Hera and Zeus exchanged a look complete with silent exchange.
Donna sat in the front passenger seat of another UNIT car, this time driven by Ross. This time she was more listening in as her granddad gave a history lesson to her future in-laws. Neither had been to Earth in over one thousand years, and never to England. So it was a new experience for them both, learning about their future daughter's home-world. For Donna it was a chance to learn about the psychological state of Gallifrey, about her in-laws in general, and perhaps pick up some information about their son.
Only when Wilfred realized he didn't know where they were going did the Time Lords turn their questions to Donna. But instead of asking about her they asked more about scuba diving. Who invented it? How did the technology work and evolve? Where on Earth did people go to scuba dive? How deep could anyone go with the current technology? Where and how deep had Donna gone? What made her try it?
Donna found their questions unobtrusive and freely answered them, getting to be in full teacher mode. Something she had not experienced since working at Hunslow Library. She had a suspicion that they would find a way to join her in Spain, so she hoped she could impress on them the need to blend in by actually using the equipment rather than rely on their arbitrary need to breathe. Respiratory bypass? Two hearts? It made her wonder how much medical intervention would be needed to give her a chance of carrying a half Gallifreyan child.
Finally Ross pulled them to a stop. The second car, carrying their guards, Sarah Jane, Jack and Donna's parents, also stopped. Donna blinked at the cottage. It looked from the front to be rather small, a single window beside the door, but on closer examination the rest of redbrick structure could be seen peeking through the trees. Only the middle was visible, while it rambled off to either side and had a chimney at both ends. It looked like it had been plucked from Medieval England and dropped into the Modern, with its thatched roof and its rounded ends. The windows were small but numerous and the climbing roses around the front door completed the picture.
On being led inside and told that it had been cleaned for her, Donna quickly walked through to explore the rooms while her things were brought inside. Of to the left of the entryway was a farmhouse kitchen, pantry and utility room, and to the right was a living room and library, chock full of books, all with exposed beams, low ceilings and polished dark wood. The furnishings were all of muted greys and blues. In the hallway itself was an open staircase, leading up to bedroom and bathroom on one side and a bedroom and bathroom on the other, again low ceilings and exposed beams, but both bathrooms were spotless if Victorian and both bedrooms were furnished for a Victorian single gentleman. She fell in love with the place on sight. It was gorgeous. But the decor? No pictures, no oddments, no television and no DVD player. She wondered who had lived here before. How long had UNIT owned this place, and why? And, strangely important, why bring her here?
She returned to the kitchen, where she could hear the whistle of a kettle on the cooker, despite the cottage not having any visible nor even viable access to gas mains or electricity supply. She wasn't surprised to find her mum preparing dinner (which would surely leave her with leftovers for days unless these Time Lords had major appetites) or to see her father talking about the security with Jack and the soldiers. She was surprised to see Hera and Zeus had been roped in to helping her mum, and wasn't sure if their curiosity had been taken advantage of.
The added presence of the Brigadier was not a surprise, and he was talking with her granddad about life in the military. Seemed the two got on well enough.
Sylvia nodded at her assistants. “There, now we'll wait for the casserole to cook. Cleaning as I go along saves me time and frustration later, when I'm a bit tired.” She looked up at her daughter. “And look who's rejoined us. You've seen the place, so how is it?”
“Before I answer that, Brigadier, may I ask who the last person was to occupy this place? Because it looks like a bachelor with very weird tastes lived here. And there’s no electricity or gas, so how’s the cooker working?”
“This was the Doctor's residence when he was exiled to Earth in what was his third incarnation. Couldn't use the TARDIS to travel, so he was truly stuck. We had difficulty getting him to agree on compensation. Kept claiming he had no use for money. Well, we paid him anyway, which is where the funds you'll have access to as of tomorrow come from. And we settled him in this cottage, which I know he modified with a power source from the TARDIS even though no one has been able to find it. Captain Harkness called and said you would need the access to continue supplementing your parents' income.” He looked at her for confirmation.
Donna balked at the knowledge of where she was, and took a deep breath over the money details. “Just so I know what I can do, what kind of funds are we talking?”
He handed her several papers. “Summary of the income drawn from UNIT, which has been invested for him.”
Her eyes widened as she quickly read the pages. “Oh my god! This one account, I could use it to clear the mortgage and buy three houses and still have loads left to help my dad!”
Both Geoffrey and Sylvia needed to lean against their nearest respective object, be it the Welsh dresser or sink.
Zeus frowned, remembering something he heard second-hand about the prophecy. “What is the matter with your health, Geoffrey?”
Donna blinked. They had gone to first names already? What had happened while she was examining the cottage? She focused on that to avoid thinking about her dad's fate.
Geoffrey took a deep breath. “Leukemia. My doctors say even with chemotherapy I won't live more than two more years. Might not see one more.”
Wilfred touched his arm, in a way that signaled they had always been more like father and son than in-laws.
Hera remembered, too, but she had a streak that she had unknowingly bestowed upon her surviving child. “With your permission, I will have a Gallifreyan medic examine you. Perhaps there is something our medicine can do. I do wish that you live to see at least one of your grandchildren.”
The confidence that there would be both impressed and alarmed Donna. Talk about pressure! But if they could help her dad... she would be the first to ask him to consent. Even ahead of her mum.
With a nod from Sylvia, Geoffrey said, “If they can spare the time from whatever they're dealing with on your planet.”
“You're the father of the Queen,” Zeus reminded him. “It would be wrong to do nothing to help.”
From the looks on the Gallifreyan's faces, and her granddad's, war had been a topic at least once. So Wilfred had talked about his first experiences – something she had had to coax out of him with repeated efforts.
Jack felt he couldn't let the mood sink too far. “Well, Donna, I know it is a bachelor's dwelling, but I think you have the time to make a mark on it. Unofficially, it still belongs to the Doctor. So it could be a hideaway from the universe for you both.”
Donna snorted and put her shoulder bag on the table. “What if I need to get out for a bit? Am I allowed to shop at the Tesco we passed? And how do I get my car back? Or does that have to be sold?”
“We'll bring it to you later today,” the Brigadier said. “Just give Ross the key. If you want something more challenging to drive, there is a vehicle in the garage around the back.” He pointed to a door through the utility.
Donna stepped quickly through the modern utility and opened the back door. She turned on the light, expecting a garden, but finding a garage instead. She blinked as she stepped closer to said vehicle, which despite its covering was identifiable as far as what it was. “Why did the Doctor have a yellow roadster?”
Sarah Jane gasped as she heard Donna’s voice drift back to the kitchen. “Bessie's here?” She rushed to join Donna, drawing the others to come closer. “Oh, the memories this brings back! He could be so... reckless! I don't know what he did to this car, but he could make her get in and out of things I thought we shouldn't have.”
“So he named his car after a woman and made improvements? Talk about boys and their toys.”
She and Sarah Jane laughed, and the older woman shook her head. “You have no idea.”
Donna looked at the old car. “I'll see her up close later. Right now I think I'd better see what I need to learn, and decide on a lesson plan. Crash course in Gallifreyan history and law, here I come.”
Dinner might come first, but the planning had to start. Between both sets of parents considering the time required, the date was set for June 12, which gave her seven weeks to prepare.
Going for groceries and supplies, even under guard, was a needed break. All she could wonder when she went to bed was that her future husband had slept in that bed. Presumably. She still had so much to learn.
The only thing she wondered was what the unusual smell was that lingered. She'd sensed it by the car, and it was inside the cottage to a lesser extent. It wasn't consistent with the cleaning smells she also detected. Was it his scent and how had it lasted so long?
She did admit to herself that it wasn't bad at all.
Over a week later, Jack and two people blinked into existence on Gallifrey. He held them as they struggled with the side effects of Vortex Manipulator travel. “Breathe. Take your time.”
Alice straightened slowly, blinking as she took in her surroundings. “This... is really an alien world?”
“The world we originally came from.”
Steven's eyes were wide. “Wow.”
Jack took in their awe and curiosity with a fond smile. He had missed so much of their lives because he had to hide them, to keep away for their own safety. Maybe now he could coax them into living on Gallifrey, where Alice wouldn't have to hide the side of her that was alien to Humans, and Steven could learn about his ancestors in peace.
As it was, convincing Alice to let him finally tell Steven who he really was to them had been a near failure. She understood intellectually why he had left her and her mother, but the emotional sting could still rule her decisions. Only the promise that Gallifrey was open to them, that their ancestors would receive them as family, coaxed her into relenting to the truth and to a visit.
Alice sniffed the air. “Seems strange compared to what I'm used to.”
“The air is different. It's not just the recovery or the different flora and fauna. The air is rarefied. Come on, we'll walk a little. I think our hosts are coming toward us.”
He took their hands and led them. Steven asked questions, his mouth running a kilometer a minute. (Not quite as fast as the Doctor, especially the current one, but that went without saying.) Mostly about the differences between Gallifrey and Earth, and what the various plants were. Alice's questions were more pragmatic, checking about how well someone descended from unusual means (their code phrase for the cloning on Boe-Shane) would truly be received by the Gallifreyans. No amount of answering Steven's questions or giving reassurances eased her mind.
Finally, Jack stopped them, standing straighter with a smile. Alice and Steven followed his gaze, and blinked.
Walking toward them were two men. One wore robes and the other a pinstriped suit. The juxtaposition was oddly fascinating and yet weird. The man in the robes was smiling widely, whereas the other was more subdued.
Jack, still holding his family's hands, bowed slightly. “Grandfather.” He straightened and smirked. “Doctor.”
The Doctor glared at him. “Don't you start. Unless you're going to tell me something about this Human I'm marrying.”
“Not a chance, Doctor. I swore an oath of silence. I will say this much: as the English would say, you lucky sod!”
He rolled his eyes. “With apologies to your family here, I have to take what you say with a grain of salt. Even if you have been one of the most honourable companions I've ever had.”
Jack gave him a wicked grin, letting him know that only the presence of the younger ears kept him from giving that the retort he wanted to give. Instead, he teased him. “This is the behaviour of the Lord President?”
Andred looked at the Doctor. “You would not believe how he reacted to the news that the Queen has been found.”
“Not this again,” the Doctor moaned.
“The medic used the correct term. You fainted.”
“I passed out from shock. There's a difference.”
Alice giggled. Steven outright laughed.
Andred looked properly at Alice, and both went strangely silent as their eyes met.
Jack froze, blinking as his time senses said something important was happening. He just couldn't tell what.
Steven tapped Jack on the arm to get his attention. “Who is he to me?”
Jack knelt to Steven's level. “This is the Time Lord all of the Boe-Kind descend from, Andred of Red Loom. He married the Human woman Leela, and they broke the Curse. You know that I'm your granddad?” At Steven's cautious nod, Jack continued, “Well, imagine nine 'greats' in front of the word 'granddad', since Boe-Kind live one hundred and fifty years each. That's who he is to you.”
Steven stared at Andred with eyes ready to explode. “Wow.”
What the Doctor knew Jack wasn't saying was that the closeness to the Time Lock and the cloning had shortened their lifespan. If they could be healed from that, they could probably live as long as any Gallifreyan.
“May I present my daughter, Alice Carter of Earth, and her son, Steven Carter.”
“Dad, shouldn’t you use the full name you gave me?” Alice wondered quietly.
Jack looked uncomfortable, and realised she had a quicker grasp of protocol than he did. “Forgive me, Alicianadpythenii of the House of... we have no House,” he finished, ashamed. “And my grandson, Stevenisadpythenii.”
That made the Doctor raise an eyebrow. What did that portend for the boy's future? He could sense that Steven's time-line would be connected to his, but how was unclear.
Andred, who seemed equally bewildered, tore his eyes from Alice. “If when we find the other Boe-Kind they do not wish to join Red Loom, then a new House will be created: Boe-Shane.”
Jack and Alice smiled.
Andred smiled back. “Come, kinsmen. The other members of our Clan are curious to meet you, and we have prepared a meal in honour of three family members coming home, however short the visit.” His words and tone bespoke a desire to have them stay forever, but he did not voice it.
Alice risked speaking. “We are truly welcome, are we not?”
“Yes. It would ease our concerns and I hope yours if you will agree to live on Gallifrey at least part of the time.”
She flushed slightly. “Let's see how this turns out, if that's not too difficult?”
Andred smiled gently. “We will take this at your and Steven's pace.”
She smiled back, a bit shy. Something Jack could never remember her being.
Steven stepped up to Andred and took his hand, unknowingly being the first child on Gallifrey to ever hold a Time Lord’s hand. “Pleased to meet you, Grandfather Andred.”
The action left Andred confused, but at Jack's pleading look he accepted it. “Come.”
Jack spoke. “If you'll lead them slowly. I'll catch up in a moment. Need to share something important with the Doctor.”
Andred noticed how Jack nudged the backpack he carried as a hint, and nodded. He kept a pace so Alice could walk at his side, and so Steven wouldn't tire easily, just in case their thin air caused them difficulty.
Jack waited until he was sure a whisper couldn't be overheard. “Doctor, what just happened there?”
The Doctor's eyes had been wide from the moment Andred and Alice and locked eyes. Only then did he relax. “Destiny. He had that same look when he met Leela.”
“But she's a descendant. Isn't that a problem? Wouldn't there be instincts against that?”
“Well, the laws only apply to within five generations out, and two regenerations thrown in. Given the sheer number of generations between them, even factoring... Boe-Kind practices there won't be enough genetic closeness to matter. It's still mixing the genes, which I'll admit we need. Your daughter might become the next Matriarch of Red Loom.”
Jack sighed. “Oh, that'll be fun explaining to Steven.”
“If he's as much like you as I sense, he'll be fine in the end.” Then the Doctor turned to face Jack completely. “Now what's this you needed to say?”
Jack found his familiar smirk as he removed his backpack and handed it to his friend. “This is for you. Study it well.”
“What is it?”
“Homework for your marriage.”
The Doctor nearly choked. “Homework?!”
“Yeah. You're marrying a Human woman. As much of a flirt as you are, I bet there are things you don't know anything about. You owe it to your future bride to be knowledgeable about certain practices, and trust me when I say she deserves to be pleased. And mark my words: there will be a test. Only written, so you can relax. Even though there are videos on the discs I included, to play on the DVD player also in there, so be nice to the bag. See you later! I may be having dinner with the man who's both my ancestor and my future son-in-law.” With that, he hummed a tune and jogged to catch up.
The Doctor blinked, recognizing the song. Leave it to Jack Harkness to find it in him to hum I Am My Own Grandfather.
He looked at the pack, sighed, and walked in the same direction for a while. Half way along the columned palisade he took a different path until it led him to where he parked his TARDIS.
Or rather, he grumbled silently, where the TARDIS had parked herself.
“Oh, come on!” he snapped when he shut the doors. “You can't let me have at least one adventure?!”
She chimed an obvious negative.
“Not yet?! Who talked you into this?”
She chimed again.
“No one? You're doing this on your own initiative?!”
She chimed smugly.
He groaned and grabbed the mallet, whacking her console. “Behave!” he growled through gritted teeth as he tossed the mallet back and stormed off to his Reading Room.
His ship let out a frustrated sound, clearly aimed at him.
The Doctor put the pack down on the biggest table. He hesitated a moment before opening it, removing the contents without paying much attention to what they were. When he emptied the pack, he also found papers: an inventory, with notes on what to read and watch, and quizes (with a note that they were not open-book, proof that Jack had spent too much time around Americans) on various subjects. There was indeed a DVD player, and a box with some DVDs inside.
Then he looked at the list, eyes going wider than ever at the titles. The Joy of Sex. Kama Sutra (two versions, one very definitely illustrated). And many more. What the hell had Jack given him?
There was a hand-written note on the bottom of the inventory: “Doctor, study these carefully and you'll learn all you'll need to know about lovemaking for your wedding night, and hopefully for a while after. Trust me. Your wife will thank you. Love, Jack.”
The Doctor paled. He'd forgotten he would have to mate with this new Queen.
Chapter Six: Here Comes the Bride