Past and Future
After the Doctor was properly dressed and the medical room
cleared up, the two stood in the console room. The Doctor was at his normal
post at the view screen and first section of controls. Isabelle stood across
from him examining some of the switches.
"Where to now?" Isabelle asked quietly.
"Are you sure you want to keep going? I could take you back home," he offered.
The statement of going home was said but it sounded awkward coming from him as if he didn't want to say it. She scrutinized him for a moment as he kept his eyes averted from her.
"I don't want to go home," she replied matter-of-factly. "Where are we going now?"
Her statement was finite. She crossed her arms over her chest and stood her ground. He finally glanced over at her. He looked pleased with her response but did not smile.
"How about those stars we talked about?" he inquired with a cocked eyebrow.
"Perfect," she said with a grin.
The Doctor took Isabelle to see Deneb, Dabih, and Deneb Algedi as promised. She was in awe of the stars. The color variations, their varying light years from the Earth, and their sizes put them in perspective of the tiny pin pricks she observed in the sky. She would never look at a star the same way again.
He also took her to the 16th century China to explore the Ming Dynasty. While he was discovering and thwarting the efforts of the Clasions, a porcelain consuming alien race, Isabelle managed to break one of the largest painted vases of the era. They managed to escape the wrath of the emperor and send the Clasions on their way with the remains of the vase which would last them until they returned home.
There were times when Isabelle had to remain at home to keep up appearances at work and in her life. The Doctor was upfront with her, explaining that one day their journeys would end, and she understood. Although, Isabelle found it more difficult to see him go each week after her weekends were full of adventures with him.
It was another Saturday morning. Isabelle expected the Doctor any moment. Her red hair was half tied back away from her face. She wore a grey jumper with a wide neckline and a pair of jeans. She was pulling a baking sheet out of the oven when she heard the familiar groan in the back garden. As she was putting raspberry jam on a sheet of heart shaped biscuits, the Doctor came in the door. It was now her custom to leave the back door unlocked for him.
"What's that smell?" he asked as he closed the door behind him.
"I'm baking, just for you for St. Valentine's Day," she said as she topped a jam covered biscuit with another heart shaped biscuit with the centre cut out. She picked up the sandwiched biscuit and handed it to him. "Try it."
He took the biscuit from her and gave it a sniff. She licked the excess jam off her fingers.
"What is it?" he questioned.
"It's a homemade Jammie Dodger. I don't like the pre-packaged ones so I make my own," she said as she picked one up herself and bit into it. "Mmm," she uttered hoping it would persuade him to try his.
Finally, he bit into it. His eyes lit up. She nearly laughed as he shoved the whole thing into his mouth.
"I take it you like it?" she asked grinning. He held up a thumb as he chewed. She took another bite of hers.
"Fantastic!" he said once he swallowed.
"Hey, that's my word," she said playfully giving him a nudge with her elbow.
"I like that word," he said grabbing another biscuit.
Isabelle smiled as she continued to assemble the sandwiched biscuits. The Doctor took a handful of them and went into the lounge.
"Where are we going today, Doctor?" she asked placing the last biscuit on top of a dollop of jam. When he didn't answer right away, she peeked around the corning of the kitchen door to see him standing in front of her star chart.
"Doctor?" she questioned quietly as she approached him.
"Hmm?" he said staring at the chart still munching on one of the biscuits. She stopped beside him.
"Where are we going today?" she asked. He swallowed and licked his lips then turned to her.
"Oh, I don't know. You choose," he said.
"What about . . . here?" she said pointing to a star.
"Ah, not much to see there. That's a small weak star with no planets," he told her.
"Okay. What about here?" she suggested pointing to different star. This one was in the Orion constellation.
"Now, that has an exciting planet that I think you would like," he answered.
"Why do you say that?"
"That's where they come from," he said indicating her poster of a Gray.
"And I can finally see them?" she said excitedly.
"Yes," he told her with his award winning grin. She smiled in return.
"Let me clean up the kitchen and we can be on our way," she said walking back towards the kitchen.
"I'll need to recharge the TARDIS before we go," he said finishing off the last of the biscuits he had in his hand as he followed her.
"How do you do that?" she questioned retrieving an empty canister.
"There is a rift in Cardiff. Found it by accident one day. The TARDIS landed on it after . . .," he said but he didn't continue.
"After what?" she asked looking up from putting the biscuits in the canister. He looked distant, as if he were remembering something difficult.
Isabelle went over to him and touched his arm gently. He looked into her eyes with pain.
"You can tell me. I don't scare easily."
"It was right after I destroyed Gallifrey, after the Time War, just before I regenerated into this incarnation," he said glancing down at himself.
Isabelle wrapped her arms around him and pressed herself against him. He gradually embraced her as well.
"I can't imagine how difficult that must have been for you. I see how it hurts you to think about it. If you need to talk, I'm here," she said sincerely.
The Doctor was quiet for a second. Then, he whispered, "Thank you."
She slowly let go of him.
"Let me just finish up and we'll be on our way," she said with a slight smile.
"No," he said to her.
"I'll go recharge the TARDIS. There is something else I need to do anyway. It'll just take me a couple days. I'll be back before you know it," he said cheerfully.
"As long as you promise to come back," she said meekly. She slowly met his eyes. "Promise me, in two days time, you'll be standing in my kitchen, because I'm going to have a cup of tea waiting for you. You better not let it get cold."
"Two days, tops. I promise," he said.
They stared at each other for a moment. She eyed him longingly. He viewed her with consideration.
"Come here," she said giving him another hug. Then she let go. "Go on, then. The quicker you go, the quicker you come back."
"Right," he said with a grin. He walked out of the garden door towards the TARDIS.
Isabelle turned to put the baking sheets into the sink to wash. She sucked on the jam spoon as she looked out the window into the garden but the TARDIS was still there. Not seeing the Doctor, she looked around the garden leaning over the sink to see more of the property. He was nowhere to be seen. She shrugged thinking he must be in the TARDIS already. She went to lean away from the sink to start to wash up the pans when a something caught her eye. She turned to see the Doctor standing there in her kitchen.
Taking the spoon out of her mouth, she put a hand on her hip and said with sass, "I thought you were leaving?"
The Doctor rushed over to her and took her into his arms and kissed her passionately on the lips. Isabelle dropped the spoon and started to flail at first. Realizing what was happening, she didn't fight it but tenderly wrapped her arms around him. The kiss was wanton, yet affectionate. As if someone had flicked a switch, he grabbed onto her shoulders and pushed her away.
He let her go and stood back. Glancing at her once, he then ran out of the house.
Isabelle stood there stunned. Before she could go after the Doctor, he was gone. The TARDIS groaned and disappeared.
Inside the TARDIS, the Doctor set the coordinates for Cardiff. Seconds later his TARDIS was parked on the Rift. He opened up the engines and set her to refuel. Then he walked outside to clear his head. Before he had a chance to think of how he left Isabelle, there was a shout.
"Doctor!" he heard a man yelling with an American accent. The Doctor looked around and saw a man with a dated blue wool coat.
The Doctor glanced around figuring he meant someone else because he had never seen this man before. Then the man, who was rather good looking, came right up to him.
"I'm sorry, do I know you?" the Doctor asked giving the stranger a scrutinized look.
The grin the man had been wearing fell immediately. "Damn it!" he shouted as he ran a hand through his hair. "Too soon. Yeah, you know me, but not from this time."
"I know you from your past?" the Doctor asked.
"Past and future."
"Past and future?"
"My past, your future."
"Er, don't tell me anymore."
"Don't worry, I know how this works. The name's Captain Jack Harkness, by the way," he said extending a hand to shake and looking around the Doctor towards the TARDIS a bit puzzled.
The Doctor looked at his hand apprehensively but shook it anyway. Then he said, "What's the look for, Captain Jack Harkness? Am I different from when you remember me?"
"You look the same. It's just that you were with someone and you didn't know who I was the last time we met either," Jack mentioned.
"Maybe I did know you and I was just putting you on. And yes, I am with someone. She's just not with me at the moment," he said.
"Oh, good! I was worried something might have happened to her," Jack said grabbing his chest in relief.
The Doctor looked worried and Jack looked confused. Jack quickly put on one of his winning smiles to mask his troubles.
"So, you here to recharge the TARDIS?" Jack asked.
"Yeah. How did you know? Oh, never mind," the Doctor said realizing that Jack's past was his own future.
"I know you have some waiting time. Want to grab something to eat while you wait?" Jack offered.
"No, thanks. I just ate," he replied.
"Do you mind if I do? I could use some company," Jack said and flashed a smile.
"All right," the Doctor agreed.
"Great!" Jack lead the way to a restaurant along the pier. "Where did you leave her?" Jack asked hesitantly.
"At her home," the Doctor explained. "I'll go back to pick her up."
"Ah, with her mom," Jack said with a smile.
"She doesn't have a mum," the Doctor said stopping.
There was a long pause as the Doctor and Jack eyed each other.
"You don't know Isabelle, do you?" the Doctor mentioned.
"Sure I do! She's that brunette," Jack lied. The Doctor stared. "Blonde?"
"I'll take that as a no," the Doctor said as he started walking again.
"Ooh, a redhead. I do love a good redhead. So fiery," Jack said playfully grinning as he caught up with the Doctor. Seeing the Doctor's distress, his smile dissolved. "It bothers you that I don't know her."
"Of course it does!" the Doctor said heatedly.
"How long have you been travelling with her?" Jack asked stopping outside the restaurant.
"One month Earth time, four months my time," he mentioned halting next to Jack.
"You've been with her a while then. Okay. So, maybe something is different from the last time I saw you. Maybe there has been a change in events and I'll see you with her the next time we meet," Jack offered. The Doctor peered at him with contemplative look.
"Perhaps you're right, Jack," he said with a lift in his voice. "Maybe that's it. Maybe something in time has changed. Maybe the next time you see me I will be with her."
"Of course, in your future, it will be my past. Don't get discouraged if I don't know you," Jack offered.
"Oh, you're spoiling everything. Stop," the Doctor said sarcastically with an impish grin.
Jack opened the door to the restaurant and gestured for the Doctor to enter. They stood inside for only a minute before the hostess escorted them to a table. She smiled pleasantly at them.
"You two make a handsome couple," she mentioned before leaving them. This made Jack smile. The Doctor opened his mouth to say something to her but he only shook his head.
"This is not a date," the Doctor said to Jack leaning over the table.
"Never said it was, but you do realize this is St. Valentine's Day," Jack quipped as he perused the menu.
"Buy me a drink first," the Doctor implied as he leaned back in his seat.
"Whoa! Déjà vu, Doc. You reallyare hard work. Do you make it this difficult for Isabelle?" Jack questioned.
Before the Doctor could comment or answer Jack, the waiter came over to take their drink order. Once he knew what they wanted, he left to get the drinks while giving them time to pick out their entrées.
"Tell me about Isabelle," Jack said to the Doctor. "Besides being a redhead, what's she like?"
"Interesting," the Doctor said thoughtfully.
"Not much to go on there, Doc. How interesting?"
"When I first met her, she had me tied to a tree because she thought I was intruder. Then she thought I was a prankster and then a wizard. It took a bit to convince her I was alien despite all the star charts and alien posters in her living room. She was orphaned at the age of two and adopted by an older couple at the age of four. Her parents died when she was eighteen. She married at twenty," he explained but was interrupted.
"Whoa, she's married?" Jack asked excitedly.
"Not anymore," the Doctor returned sadly.
"Divorce?" Jack questioned with one word. The Doctor shook his head. For a moment, Jack looked perplexed, then it dawned on him the other reason she could not be married anymore.
"Oh," Jack said leaning back in his chair. "You weren't lying when you said she was interesting. You were tied to a tree? And she thought you were a wizard?" Jack inquired on the verge of laughter trying to lighten the mood.
"Yeah, something about Harry Potter," the Doctor responded uncertainly.
"Oh, right. Great story. You should read it sometime. You know, to get to know what she likes, if that is her thing," Jack offered.
"Why would I do that?" the Doctor questioned as the waiter set down their drinks.
"Are you ready to order?" the waiter asked.
"Ah, yeah," Jack said, "I'll have the steak salad with the dressing on the side."
"And for you, sir?" the waiter asked the Doctor.
"None for me, thanks," he answered. The waiter took the menus and walked away.
"Why would I read the books?" the Doctor asked again.
"Because you have a thing for her and this would help you get to know her better," Jack simply said then took a sip of his drink.
"I don't have a thing for her," the Doctor returned as he crossed his arms over his chest. Jack started laughing.
"Oh, yes, you do."
"No, I don't."
"You should have seen your face when you realized I didn't know Isabelle. You looked like your world had come to an end," Jack pointed out.
"Yes, you did, my friend." He took another sip of his drink.
"That makes sense."
"What do you mean?"
"Before I left, we had a . . . moment," the Doctor said.
"What kind of 'moment'?" Jack asked intrigued.
"I kissed her."
"You . . . kissed her? She didn't kiss you?"
"No. I absolutely kissed her."
"And then you left her? Not sure how she's going to take that."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, if she doesn't like you, then you have nothing to worry about," Jack explained.
"And if she does?"
"Earth girls tend to get upset if you just leave them after kissing them. I should know, I've been around enough of them. They want to know the meaning behind the kiss. Was it friendly or romantic? If it was romantic, then where is the relationship going? And in your case, you're an alien. I'm sure there are all kinds of questions running through her mind right now about that," Jack analyzed. "So which is it, Doc?"
The Doctor hesitated to answer Jack. The waiter came by with Jack's meal which allowed the Doctor a bit more time to contemplate the situation. When the waiter walked away, Jack managed to catch the Doctor's eye. He raised his eyebrows in inquiry. The Doctor sighed.
"Romantic. But it can't be."
"I'm sure you understand my lifespan. I'd outlive her and have to deal with that loss everyday of my life. If I leave her, after a few months or years, then I won't have to grieve over her entire existence."
"But if you truly loved her, could you do that?" Jack questioned as he took a bite of his salad.
The Doctor became very quiet. Jack smiled and then swallowed.
"Wow, the Doctor speechless, that's a first." The Doctor rolled his eyes and looked away. "She must be something special."
"She is," the Doctor spoke quietly.
"But is she special enough for you to put your differences aside when it comes to her lifespan?" Jack questioned.
"I guess I'll just have to wait to find out," the Doctor answered vaguely with a slight grin.
"Ooh, so you are going to keep her on board. Excellent. I can't wait to meet her. By the looks of you, I'm thinking in another year," Jack surmised then took another bite of his salad.
The Doctor looked at his watch. "I've got to go. Something I've got to do, for her," he mentioned with a smile as he finished his drink.
"Something special? What did you have in mind?" Jack inquired.
"She has a room in the TARDIS but it's not her. I want to furnish it with things that she likes," the Doctor informed Jack.
"Very nice," Jack said coyly.
The Doctor stood from the table. Jack held up a hand to stop him from going just yet.
"Before you go, fair warning, Doc. Torchwood has been looking for you since 1879. They mean to destroy you."
"How do you know?" the Doctor asked.
"I work for them, but you're safe here. I'm the one who keeps them off your trail," Jack mentioned. The Doctor nodded. "Be careful."
"Hopefully, I won't see you for a while," the Doctor said.
"Again, I'm sorry about that. I look forward to meeting Isabelle," he said.
"And this time you will," the Doctor said with a small grin. Then he thought for a moment. "Jack, you spoke of a 'she' as well that isn't Isabelle. Who was, er, am I with in the future?"
Jack looked thoughtful and wiped his mouth with his napkin.
"I guess it doesn't matter if I tell you now if your future is different. Her name is Rose," he told the Doctor.
"Rose?" the Doctor said and contemplated. "Yeah, well, it's Isabelle now." He grinned.
"Yeah, I guess so. Hey, if you want to have lunch tomorrow before you go, there is an entrance to my office just under the Terra Nova. Ask for me," Jack said. The Doctor nodded and left Jack finishing his lunch.
The Doctor remained in Cardiff for the next day and a half. The first thing he did was read all the current Harry Potter novels. Then he set out to decorate her room. He got rid of the white walls and floors. Her remark of the floors in his own room influenced him to put the same flooring in hers with large worn red oriental rugs. Instead of putting the same wood paneling in her room, he took his inspiration from her favorite story, and her own room in her home, and went with half golden yellow painted walls and maple wainscoting. He built a king sized canopy bed with heavy maroon curtains and a large cherry wardrobe with his sonic screwdriver. Of course there were shelves as well. He went to the local antique shops to search for trinkets to add to the decor. He found an old globe of Earth. He discovered an actually alien artifact from the planet Karn that he was certain the shop keeper knew nothing about. It was somewhat symbolic to him and he felt it deserved a place in her room. When it was finished, it looked like something from a storybook.
When the TARDIS was fully charged, he closed the engines and set the coordinates to Isabelle's house then pulled the necessary levers to get him there. He never did visit with Jack again.
He landed in the dark, much later than he had intended. There were no lights on in Isabelle's house. He figured she must be asleep. The rear door was locked. This surprised him because she always left it unlocked for him no matter what time of day or night. He used the sonic screwdriver to unlock it. Once inside, he saw a pot of tea sitting on the counter with a cup sitting beside it. The cup was clean. The tea was cold. Too bad he had not arrived earlier.
The Doctor decided he would check up on her in her bedroom. He walked silently through the kitchen, passed the dining room and into the lounge.
"Where have you been?" Isabelle's voice resonated from the couch through the darkness.
"Isabelle?" he questioned the voice. She flicked on a light. Her angry face was illuminated.
"Where have you been, Doctor? You're very late," she demanded.
"Sorry. I was doing something that took slightly longer than I expected," he explained.
"I thought you said it would only take two days."
"Yeah, I did. I left two days ago and here I am now."
"It's been a month!"
"You left on the fourteenth of February and now it is the fourteenth of March!"
"It can't be," he said staring at her.
"But it is, Doctor. So where have you been?" she asked standing up.
"Isabelle, I swear to you, I only left two days ago," he said keeping her eye contact.
"A month!" she shouted.
"I'm sorry," he apologized. "The TARDIS must have wanted me to come back now for some unknown reason." He moved away from her again trying to think what could have pulled him so far into the future.
"I've waited every day for your return. Everyday I fixed a pot of tea. Everyday I hoped you would come back. Everyday I wondered if I did something wrong. Everyday I thought you left me without saying good bye," she said as she watched him sonic virtually everything in her lounge and continue on into the dining room.
"I would never do that," he said as he turned to go into the kitchen.
"Then, I thought it was the kiss. I thought I was horrid or something. I nearly went mad," she rambled and her voice cracked.
"What?" he said in surprise as he emerged from the kitchen. She glanced over at him standing in the dining room from her position in the lounge.
"I figured you didn't like the kiss," she said quietly.
"No," he said. She stared at him. "I mean, no, it wasn't that. I liked it. Maybe it happened a bit too soon. I might have rushed things. You were all I thought about in Cardiff. I even told Jack about the kiss. To me it only happened two days ago, but for you a month ago. Oh," he babbled and then suddenly stopped.
"Who is Jack?" Isabelle asked out of curiosity.
"Someone from my future that I accidently met," the Doctor said distantly. He thought for a moment. Then, he moved to stand in front of her. He took her by the shoulders and looked seriously into her eyes. "Isabelle, if anything should happen to me, I want you to go to Cardiff, to an entrance under the Terra Nova and ask for him, Captain Jack Harkness. He'll be able to tell you anything you need to know."
"Is something wrong, Doctor? You're scaring me," she said with quiet trepidation.
"I don't know. He knew things, and didn't know things. Promise me you'll go to him," he urged giving her shoulders a squeeze. She silently nodded her head. He eased his grip on her shoulders. "Good. Again, I'm sorry for being late."
"Don't do it again," she stated.
"Never ever," the Doctor promised as he embraced Isabelle.