The Last Supper of Thete
“And that, my dear Doctor, is why I had my aunt Cornelia committed. We simply couldn’t have her doing such things. There wouldn’t have been any relatives left, I daresay, once she got her hands on a goodly portion of rat poison, or anything sharp... ah! Capital. The others. They’re coming to.”
Pendergast looked to the alien, who was only half naked now in what was the second black Italian suit jacket he’d had cause to donate to science. Perhaps the Time Lord hadn’t heard him speak? No. Impossible, with the Doctor’s hearing and the tiny span of distance between them, not to mention the applied selective acoustics of the console room. The Doctor was on the floor, scooping up his three infants into a surprisingly strong bear hug, considering what he’d just experienced. Then again, perhaps this younger form, his permanent, eleventh regeneration, had mislaid some of that great burden, to have spoken so candidly about some of his more trying experiences, albeit within the purely mental environ of the TARDIS’s ship-mind.
“Come on, my pretties! Up we go, away from those dangerous doors!”
Time Lords hadn’t been born in far too long, Jack decided as he stirred on the grating beside Martha and Jenny.
“Captain Harkness and I can take care of the others and the triplets while you fetch yourself a change of clothes, Doctor,” Pendergast paused, eager to see the alien rest himself after this latest trial, “... besides, I believe I heard you groan, just now.”
Silver eyes made a point of sticking themselves to the Doctor’s back, and being the slightly empathic telepath he was, the Time Lord felt the agent’s soft rebuke like a razor’s keen across the slick of his spine.
“Agh. You’re right. But try not to do that again, old man. There’s still a bit of mental bruising up here from my having to confront Iraj so soon after labor.”
That grin played across his lips, showing teeth, at long last. Was this regeneration truly recovered of the long wound?
“Oh! And, erm... ” the Doctor put a hand to his head, masking it by running long fingers through his thick, shaggy forelocks, “... you know, Jack... before the girls wake up, I think I would like to, erm... ”
“Kiss me? Why yes, Doctor, I do think that an inordinate amount of kissing is in order... ”
“Captain Harkness is always like that, isn’t he? It’s rather amusing.”
“Isn’t he?” Theta Sigma grinned at the albino, who seemed to have reserved a vintage laugh for just that moment.
“Ah, boys, boys! Give me a hand. I’ve just given birth to triplets, and had a row with the mistress on top of that, after all!”
He waited, breath bated like a man condemned. But not a grumble, not a clink, not a trickle of heat echoed from the TARDIS at his probing little dig, and he let himself sag for a moment against the console.
“Doctor?” Agent Pendergast swept toward him, a white blur of smoke, but Jack was closer and reached him first, hands squirming gingerly around his still-sore waist, steadying him as he slid to the gratings.
“Easy there, Theta. Don’t do things like that! Makes me question your manhood... ”
The Time Agent made sure his fingers were a slight breath against the alien’s bruised muscles, careful to provide that familiar resilience he knew Theta so loved him for, and yet, after a few long draws of air and the creeping vines of an anxious pallor, Jack’s nervous joking remained unheeded, until-
“Do you think she hates me?”
At last. A response from the quavering temporal noble he held with his one arm.
“She?” Jack asked it cautiously, his intimate experience with countless women and one hormonal Time Lord telling him he didn’t necessarily need an immediate answer.
“You can’t mean Grace. She was worried sick about you. We all were. Now that you’re awake, we should probably, I don’t know, get to worrying about those nasty little things outside. They chewed my arm off, you know? Only, it wasn’t really like chewing, more like it was never there. I don’t like it.”
A groan of sarcasm from the patient.
“Of course you don’t like it. Who would, you silly git? It’s not as if-”
Abruptly the Doctor sloughed all pretense of weakness and stood without help, ignoring the grim protestations of his still-recovering body in the flurry of eureka which had evidently ensued.
“Let me see that,” he growled, and snatched at the stump of Jack’s arm, thumbing the point of amputation.
The skin was smooth and precise, like a shorn piece of metal. Then the alien held his forehead to the edge of cut flesh and waited and closed his eyes, hoping that expectation would find him worthy of the proof he sought. He scrambled backwards suddenly, his movements jagged and aqueous in the wake of his departure, until he found himself slammed into the opposite circular, his back indented by the pod-like extrusions what lined every wall.
The two men watched him squirm, hands to his head like some crazed and moaning supplicant, struggling against whatever terror had touched him.
“They... too strong! Too... too many minds! Going to... lose myself, in the storm!”
His fingers, claw-like, scrabbled over the circular as he made his staggering way toward the double doors that would lead him to the outside, to the Earth, what had been grass and cities and fields of people. But it wouldn’t be, once he left the safe confines of the TARDIS. And soon, whatever protective shell he had left would be stripped away by Them, by the Things in his mind. He could not contain them for long, but if he could just get out the doors, the others would be safe. His children would be safe. At least for another few minutes before the Chronovores used him up. His connection to the TARDIS was still there, for some reason, so he would not go quietly like before with Her at the little stone church, but oh yes. He would go.
Jack Harkness moved, as Aloysius and he shared a thought in the deep quiet. They looked to the triplets mewling softly by the center console, then to the screaming alien before them. He was in so much pain. Then they did the only thing they could. Each man took an arm, opened one door with a balanced foot and...