And Then What Happened?
Jenny and Martha dropped their pill packs and ran to Jack, who lay on his back on the TARDIS grating near the doors, still unconscious. No blood spewed from the stump of his missing arm, no bone stuck from the slice. It was just... clean. Clean as if it had never been there. As if Jack had never had a left arm. If only the Doctor were conscious... he might have known what could do that to Jack, Jack being what he was. Behind them, as they rushed to Jack’s side, the Lord of Time shivered in the GOS-F Stasis Incubator that had grown around him, his mostly-unconscious body struggling to expel its reclaimed natal burden into the sustaining gelatinous mass which enveloped him. No one noticed as the whole growing apparatus gave a querulous shake, and then broke like a ripened fruit, splitting enough to allow The Doctor’s writhing body egress in a thick gush of silverish, nutrient-rich jelly.
“Why is it so wet in here?” Jack murmured suddenly, rousing from his little nap just as the pregnant Gallifreyan’s white and shivering form collapsed to the TARDIS grating with the quiet thud of pillows hitting flesh.
That meant that some, if not all, of the Time Lord’s mental lights were lit, else the alien, skinny as he was, would have made a sound like the proverbial ton of bricks. Either that, or the TARDIS had done something to cushion his fall. Bigger on the inside, indeed. Jack lurched to his feet and scrabbled past the three women, anxious to get to the parent of his three children, his comrade in purpose, and assess the damage.
Still, despite Jack’s cries, despite his frantic rush to help, the Doctor was already lying on the grates. He looked pale and shaken.
“Theta, talk to me!”
Jack realized he was shaking the alien, after a moment, and slid his hands around his lover’s heaving body to hold him. The stasis jelly was already crusting around the Time Lord’s mouth from exposure to the air. Theta wasn’t answering.
Suddenly the scratching noise clanged against the TARDIS’ hull again, banging and scraping as if there were billions of hard claws chafing the timeship’s sides...
Then the limp form in Jack’s arms arched, and more liquid spilled onto the TARDIS’ grates.
“Be a dear and help me to my feet, would you, Jack?”
Jack Harkness considered dropping him then. If only for an instant. But the Time Lord was still pregnant. Barely. And that meant that Jack had to take care of him until their three children were born, and then, it would be time to spank an old man’s bottom. The Time Agent laughed to himself as he pulled the alien upright with his one arm.
“There are voracious Things raking at the doors outside. Thought you might want to know.”
“Things? What sort of things, Jack? Are they tall? Thin? Ugly? Beautiful? Winged? Five-tongued? Hominid? Quadruped? Superfluous? Maleficent? unequivocally boring? Don’t have time to play twenty questions, me! Say something! I-”
He clutched his side, feeling his lips curve without him as a tiny foot dropped between his legs.
“Not. You! Not. Yet! Pull that foot back up where it belongs, Minyavellicanoramulette! And you, Koscheimarathnahvalvishnu! Stop trying to push your sister out through my vagina before it’s time! Do you want me to regenerate? No, wait... don’t answer that. And stop stepping on poor Telperiondrikartian’s head! He’s trying to get some shut-eye before I have to give birth to you lot! Honestly!”
“Having trouble?” Jack said, winding an arm around the twinge-stricken Time Lord’s swollen waist.
“Always. They’re your fault, you know.”
“And I was never so proud to have personally contributed to the repopulation of your species, Doctor. But the girls are getting nervous, and you need to lie down. You’re looking paler than me after one of my less pleasant deaths. Come on. You can’t do anything about what’s outside in your state.”
The alien didn’t answer, only sucked air and clasped a hand to his big waist, gasping for breath as he stole a quick glance toward the console whilst he crumpled against the nearest available railing.
“Martha! Jenny! Grace! He’s awake, and giving birth on the grates! Get over here now!”
But Theta Sigma shook his head at him, closing his eyes as his exhausted brain struggled to partition nature’s rending of his innards. It was Time, no question. But... things? outside? He was dying to know, despite the distraction of early labor, and so he pushed himself to his feet, swaying like a drunkard. He lurched for the double doors but caught his foot on something, twisting and landing hard on his back against the floor grates.
His yelp as his much-abused body struck metal echoed through the TARDIS as if his beloved ship had been no more than an empty room.
“Jack? Jack, I’ve fallen. The babies are descending into the birth canal and I need you!” he called, his voice wavering with strain in the silence that followed.
Silence had not been something he’d expected, and he struggled to breathe for a moment as the sudden, uncomfortably intimate knowledge that no one was coming hit him in the hearts like a jolt of pure huon. Eyesight drifting in and out in blotches of patchy grey-red, he managed another railing, then another, shoving forward toward his fears. And there were so many of them, outside. And inside. So many shadows waited to eat him once he set too far a foot inside his own mind... but why were his senses on fire? His every nerve felt pricked and raw, like shards of glass pressed to a baby’s feet. A shudder ran through him, quick as water at the thought, and his fingers found his belly again. So he started to rub, overwhelmed for a moment with the ripeness of his womb. There was something outside. He needed to protect his children. Slowly, his gaze filtered over the still forms of Jack, Martha, Jenny and Grace. They were all frozen in place, almost as if... Rarely-used neurons flickered at this, humming to life in the Oncoming Storm that was his electrical mind. Grace. Grace. Grace.
“Come on you stupid, senile old fool!” He screamed harshly at himself, and flinched as blood from the sores of his hoarseness ran down his throat even as the tiny scars healed themselves.
“Think think think! You can deal with your faults later! There are children to protect!”
But there was no segue for idle postulation in the spare remaining moments before whatever it was broke through his TARDIS’ defenses.
“Come on, Theta! Use that colossal brain and get them out of this! There’s no more time!”
Time... grace... time... Grace!
Mind wheeling, The Doctor snarled his rebellion with a torturous howl, merely to stumble the few short steps to the central console and half-lean, half-collapse indelicately over it. His much-abused nether muscles, taut and glistening, querulous from a year-long embrace, chose that precise moment to contract for the final time, promptly shoving three new lives out onto the TARDIS grates. Ignoring the mushy remains of the organic preservative jelly as he eased himself against the cool validium, he tore the strength to speak from his lips and spoke softly to the Ship, who had ceased humming her concern in his ears and busied herself with shielding them all from the Things outside.
“Iraj. I know what you’ve done. You’ve stopped time around them, haven’t you? Put up a Temporal... Grace Field! That’s my good... girl! I knew you hadn’t left me... ”
Then the exhausted Time Lord lolled his head leftward to gaze through glazing eyes at Aloysius Pendergast, who was seated nearby and, by all accounts, untouched by the bubble of Static Time the TARDIS had created around the others, while the TARDIS bristled and hummed and popped in dis-ease and the Cloister Bell rang his head off.
“I know, I know! I’m too weak to be doing this right now, but if those things outside are what I think they are, suffice it to say I will not be amused if they touch one hair on my children’s heads. And I don’t just mean the ones I gave birth to that are gonna be mewling for daddy before it’s time for tea! Course, it’s always time for tea, really... on the other hand, Beautiful Ship that you are, it was very considerate of you to short out the viewers so that I in my delicate state couldn’t see the outside, by the way. So,”
He reached toward the albino, hands clasping those white temples in welcome. Theta Sigma, it seemed, was going in.