Who Put That Banana There?
Jack’s yell could be heard several doors over. He slammed his fist down on the table, shattering a couple of phalanges and fracturing his thumb. Then he ran after The Doctor, his feet carried him quickly to the back door and out into the street, just in time to spot the thin trail of dark blood leading up to the TARDIS. The fly-by-night bastard must have slipped on the stairs. Growling a choice Racnossian oath, he sprang off the landing that led down to the lot and sprinted for The Doctor’s ship, at first glance a lonely blue police box standing fifteen feet from his door. The TARDIS doors were staying open just a crack for him, and as he neared that breach he could hear the Time Lord cursing darkly in a language that lilted like music. Damn. Even bloody fucking bollocks was beautiful in Gallifreyan. In the Doctor’s mouth, at least. It really was such a beautiful mouth...
A ragged force ripped through his thoughts, and suddenly the Doctor’s voice was inside his head, harsh and labored.
“Rassilon preserve me! Erm, on second thought, don’t. Barmy racist bastard. Jack! Since you seem to be volunteering, you can bloody well get your arse in here and help me fly her!”
Jack sighed and answered back with his limited capacity for telepathic speech.
“Are you all right? There’s a lot of blood out here... ”
He reached the door in time to receive a scowl from the alien, who was rushing about his b e l o v e d ship as though he weren’t seven months pregnant with two feisty boys. The slight, firm swell made it seem more like four, but of course Jack knew better, having had considerably more than a hand in that particular pie, and probably countless others as well.
“Blood?” the Time Lord said, thinking about the mess in the bathroom as he leaned on the round TARDIS control hub in the center of the room for a quick breather before returning to work. If he could remember what he’d been doing before being so rudely interrupted.
“Sorry, false labour. And that wasn’t blood. It was runny jam. I hid a jar in your pocket, and when I lost my balance, it slipped out and broke my fall. Almost was though. Good thing this body’s got the perfect center of gravity.”
Jam. In the pocket of his favorite coat. Great!
“Almost was? So you did fall, then. I take it the babies are fine too, or you wouldn’t be running around like a Chihuahua on chocolate. What was that about center of gravity? It can’t be good for someone in your condition to use what I think you used to prevent a nasty face plant, namely because I’m not so sure the face plant wasn’t the lesser evil. So spill it. Which martial art was it that you used, Venusian Aikkido, Gonta Rem, Yarakhini? Come on, Doctor! You and that trail of jam nearly gave me a heart attack!”
The Doctor came over to where Jack was standing and pressed a hand to the man’s cheekbone, then studiously began to pat him like an odd, obnoxious auntie.
“Oh, Jack! I’m sorry for that. But you’ll get over it. And you’re to get over me, as well.”
Then he stuck his hand under the console and brought out the broken jar, still half full of deep blackberry jam. “Besides,” he said, sticking a finger into the sticky mess and drudging up a fingerful, “...I couldn’t just waste it, could I? I’m eating for three.”
The look on his face, so matter-of-factly innocent, could have shamed several puppies, and Jack found himself wanting to rub the man’s back, among...other things. “Well, at least you got to satisfy two cravings at once. Sugar and dirt.”
The Time Lord looked at the Time Agent, then at the busted jar of jam, apparently oblivious to Jack’s playful jab. “Jar... of dirt. I’ve... got... a jar of dirt. Oh, bollocks!” He frowned, his girl-pretty face scrunching in extreme concentration. “Huh. I could’ve sworn that was meant to be madly humorous, but I haven’t a clue as to why. Sod on that, then. Moving on... ”
He looked at Jack, who merely shrugged, barely managing to suppress a smirk in time to dodge the Doctor’s sidelong glance.
“Where are we going? We’re obviously going somewhere, because you dressed for cold weather.”
That innocent face turned somber and ancient again, and Jack instantly regretted drawing the man’s focus back to the present.
“UNIT, Jack. We’re ah, going there to visit Martha, among other things. It’s her last day there, I need a prenatal checkup, and she’s the only one within this spatial quadrant who’s even remotely competent to run the tests I need performed. Besides... ”
He smiled and stroked the TARDIS’ central hub with gentle fingers, patting Her like a doting father.
“Martha’s the only living doctor in England that I trust with my health, plus she’ll get to be honorary auntie, if she’s willing. And, oh! Here we are, now, little ones! We’re off to UNIT, to see Auntie Martha!” he chirped, anxiously clutching his baby bulge as he took a last long look about the console room.
Jack was grinning as Time Lord pulled Jack’s coat protectively around himself and walked to the door.
“Well, Jack?” the alien said, his youthful face shining with anticipation like a child at Christmas, “... allons-y!”
Then the double portals of the TARDIS folded outward, and they stepped out into sunlight, snow, and a field full of armed guards.
“Hello, lads!” the Doctor said brightly, and made to breach the wall of guns with a cautious step forward. An overzealous private whose too-young face hinted at Asian descent accidentally struck him in the belly with the butt of his rifle for coming too close, and angry though he was, the Time Lord hit the ground hard, curling instinctively around his stomach. “Ugh. I much prefer injury to death, don’t you, Jack?” he murmured, still holding his body as Jack rushed to his side. Did you call Auntie to let her know we were coming?”
But Jack had no time to answer, because the doors of the complex opened, and out came the woman they’d come to see, surrounded by more guards.
“Get back from him, all of you! Don’t you know who this... is?” started Martha, but when she saw Jack kneeling beside the new new new new Doctor, she had to gasp.
He was so different, but beautiful, still... so beautiful. Her training smacked into place, and she was beside him quickly, checking his body for bruises and breaks.
“Doctor, are you all right?” she managed, setting a hand on his shoulder while she hunted around beneath his borrowed coat. Then she found it.
“Oh my god! You’re... this is definitely going to complicate the situation... ”
The Doctor’s eyebrows rose up into his lovely ginger hairline, trying desperately to fly off into space. Then they crashed together like two trains made of fine little nutmeg threads as he threatened to speak. Finally, he succeeded.
“What situation?” he muttered, his feathery spice-drop hair crackling across his body as his head whipped around to her, then turned to face the man who had struck him, who upon hearing The Doctor’s name had promptly moved forward and saluted.
“Meanie. I’m cross at you! Help me up.”
As the soldier hopped to attention and bent toward him, looping decidedly gentler arms about his swollen waist, the alien bit back a grin.
“Sword Dancer, my insolence has named me your servant. I am yours until the time of my death.”
Meanie whispered the soft plea in Old Mandarin into the Time Lord’s ear just as he was about to lift his new charge to his feet. But the Doctor just looked at him sadly and held his stomach as if he were about to be ill.
“Don’t ever say that to me again.”
The Doctor’s vicious, inhuman snarl, sudden and fierce, silenced everything in a stab of clear, precise English, causing everyone present to hold a collective breath. Hearing this sudden intake, however, he softened his tone and continued. “You’re still a child, compared to myself and Captain Jack, here. You shouldn’t pledge your life to anyone. Besides, there’s no harm done. See?” He took the young man’s narrow hand and placed it against the thick wall of his stomach, flattening the fingers out slowly one by one. The smile he gave the man was warm, paternal. Genuine. And Meanie returned the gesture with his own version, despite quivering lips.
Jack had to smile himself, albeit nervously, when the alien spun about on his heel and waved a dismissive finger in the air. “All right, then! Are there any Electro Magnetic Pulse Apparatii on the premises? Near the premises? A hundred miles from the premises? Anywhere related to the premises where we might have to travel? Come on, show of hands! Chop chop! This isn’t a holiday! If I can’t be sure of my unborns’ safety, then I can’t be sure of yours. So hurry it up, my lads! Think! Think! Think! Think! Think!”
He tapped the side of his head, while his lips peeled back thinly in a demure little grin and his nostrils flared as though he were about to reveal some grand scheme.
It was then that Jack saw his chance.
“For some odd reason, I have this vision of you in tweed and a red bowtie... and spectacles.”
The Doctor’s face drooped like a narrow, flesh-colored posey as he considered this for all of five seconds, whereupon he then gave an excited little squee.
“Ohhhh! That does sound like me, doesn’t it? Stop distracting me with those damn pheromones. If Donna were here, she’d... ”
His face turned ashen and he flung his head around the fenced in entry, desperate for something big enough to...
He threw up quietly into someone’s helmet, retching over and over again until merely looking up from the mess was an all consuming chore. Upon discovering that Meanie -whose real name, Rin Lao-Tsen, was stitched on his uniform- had been the one to offer up his head covering, The Doctor fixed the man with a weary smile and pushed himself to his feet. Thankfully none of his long ginger hair had advanced into the chuck. That had to be one of his signature accomplishments of the day. Then he took a deep breath, exhaled, and swallowed hard before scrubbing his lips clean with the edge of a slim thumb.
“Sorry... I wish I could say it was morning sickness, but no. It was just... an unpleasant memory.”
He looked at Jack, Jack looked at him. Donna had been in the pub. Donna, who had saved the universe but lost her soul. Donna, his friend and latest willing victim. Dimly he could feel the blood rush from his face once more as every eye fixed in place to see if he’d sick up again, or worse, collapse.
“You know, you ought to come inside.”
Martha was cajoling him! She was quite the brilliant girl, an indispensable colleague. Already her skillful hands were rubbing at his lower back in slow, soothing circles, hard and firm against the stress-tight muscles. She was trying to persuade him to rest. Perhaps she thought a nice massage would put him to sleep. And well it might have, if he’d been so inclined.
“Why, that was nice of you, Martha!” he murmured as Jack, Martha, Lao-Tsen and a flurry of young, eager soldiers -well, younger than him anyway- all herded him into the complex, down a short hallway, then crowded him into a chair.
“Ohhhh... Rassilon... that felt so good! You’ll be a splendid aunt to Adric and Jamie.”
The Doctor eased back with a sigh and patted his belly, then popped his head back up to look at Martha and Jack. Lao-Tsen retreated behind him, saying nothing.
Martha knelt at his feet and, at his nod, began reaching into his coat to palpate the warm, taut swell.
“Well, if I had to guess, I’d say you’re a bit small for four months, but there you have it. You’re definitely pregnant, and with twins, Doctor! Two squirming infants ought to be a good influence on you!”
She looked at him hopefully, bright-eyed and so very obviously excited at the prospect of his impending motherhood.
He shook his head and took a breath, then held her hands in his.
“Nope. More like seven. I am precisely, as of this moment, three point four eight seven seconds, sixteen minutes, four and a quarter hours and seven months gone.”
He touched her cheek, caressing her skin so very softly.
“Don’t look it, do I Auntie? Wager I will soon enough though, eh? Because... not only am I heavily pregnant with twins, but both of them are boys! Isn’t it brilliant?”
His grin was bright with joy, and she hugged him close.
Then she frowned at him.
“You’re a bit feverish, you know that?”
Her hands were at his cheek, brushing his pale skin.
The alien just nodded.
“Oh, yes! I’m quite all right, sweetheart. It’s just Nature taking her own course. My internal temperature will be back down to 60 before long, I promise.”
He flashed a quick smile then proceeded to set his feet up on the small table in front of him, closing his eyes and leaning his head back as for a nap, his manner terse and loose once more as if he owned the place.
“Now, as for that teensy weensy little problem you mentioned? What about that, eh? Eh?” He looked around at all the UNIT members crowded around his chair. Will somebody sing and play canary already? I haven’t got all day! Things to do, people to save, baby showers to crash. Come on, lads! Allons-y! Break a leg and what!”
“It’s in the basement.”
It was a woman who answered, Major Kusanagi. She was superbly feminine, strong, impossibly competent... nothing like one of the several twenty-something up and coming I wanna look good in front of the boss types. That, and her short hair was a pleasant shade of deep violet. Those red eyes... Jack wished he could have met her under different circumstances. And that self-assured grin as she and Theta nodded to each other like two old war buddies as she was walking away. Ohhhhh! He could have sworn he knew her from somewhere! He would have to ask the Time Lord how he’d met her, some day...
Watching her retreating footsteps with a smile, the Doctor sat upright, giving his legs a cautious swing off the table, and pushed up from the chair with a thumb in his back.
“Ah! There we go! Leave it to a woman to get the job done. Brilliant mind for covert ops, that one. Now, what exactly is it?”
Martha stepped back and gestured toward the darkened hallway which led to the lower level.
“Well, Doctor, we were sort of hoping you could tell us. It’s got the colonel and most of the command staff down there, wrapped in some sort of sticky webbing. The stuff’s blue, and... as far as we can tell they’ve not been harmed, but if you could make certain for us, it would be very helpful. Just don’t get yourself injured, or I’ll call Sarah Jane.”
This got his marbles going.
“Blue, you said?” he asked, scrubbing a hand through his hair as his massive brain ran through the possibilities.
“Hmm. ‘M not happy about this, but I can’t very well leave it alone, can I? Sooo! I’m off to take a look-see.”
His fingers stroked his swollen belly gingerly, as though the stretch of his flesh were a sculpture made of thin glass. “I won’t put these two in any danger if I can help it, though, so if you could send a detail with me, I’d be grateful. Jack? Lao-Tsen?”
Both men nodded, eyeing each other’s weapons and grinning ferally. “Martha, you too, eh? The last thing any of us need is to get into a fix, especially with me already in one.”
Hiding his worries behind a conspiratorial shrug, the alien met every gaze with the warmth he always made such conscious effort to convey, then made off down the unlit corridor in a flurry of quiet hurry up finger snaps and thoughtful frowning.