Half Human

Jack Tyler

They dressed the boy in a warm robe (pulling out a couple of wayward oranges) and the Doctor gently set him down in Rose's bed. She was beside him in a second, hauling a heavy comforter over him. The Doctor pulled his stethoscope from his deep pocket.

"What's his name?" Jackie asked from the doorway.

Rose shrugged noncommittally. "Not sure yet. I don't care, as long as he's alive."

"He is," the Doctor promised, listening closely to both sides of the boy's chest. "One heart, but it's strong. Blood pressure is a bit high, but I suppose if you had just been born on a metal floor and had the boss of all headaches welcome you to the world, you'd be a bit jittery too."

"He looks like you," Rose said, and the Doctor smiled at her.

"Yeah, a little. He's got my last form's ears though, poor devil."

"How are you, though?" Jackie asked, pressing a hand against Rose's face. "Any pain? Can I get you something to eat?"

"I'm fine," Rose insisted, swatting her hands away, barely paying attention to her mother. "Perfectly normal. What do you think he'll eat when he wakes up? You eat human food, right Doctor? Yes; yeah I've seen you eat a hundred times, what am I thinking—plus being half-human means Earth food should taste good, I suspect."

"Hey," the Doctor said, catching her shoulders, "calm down. You've just done something amazing. Let us help now, okay? Why don't you go rest a bit and—?"

"I don't need rest," she said, softly shrugging him off, "and I'm not going anywhere. I'm staying in here until he wakes up."

"I don't think you'll have to wait long," Jackie muttered, tapping her on the shoulder.

The boy's head moved to the side a bit, his eyebrows knitting together worriedly. He opened his eyes slowly, catching sight of the strange creatures around them. He gasped and backed away quickly drawing his knees up to his chest as he cowered against the headboard. He was going to cover his face with his hands, but Rose held tight to one of them. He blinked at her, using his free hand to rub his eyes.

"Shh," she said quickly, setting her other hand on his shoulder, "it's okay. You're safe, you're okay."

"Hello, there," the Doctor grinned, leaning in just a little so he didn't scare him, "we met last night. Do you remember me?"

He looked at the strange man blankly, trying to hide with his free hand.

"What's wrong with him?" Jackie asked. "Can't he hear us?"

"He hears us fine," the Doctor said, "but I doubt he understands anything. He's a newborn, have you ever seen a happy newborn? Nah, one minute you're happy and warm and protected and then the next you're tossed out into the world. No explanation, no direction, surrounded by creatures you don't know, and in this case with way too much empty brain space. It must be terrifying."

Rose took the boy's face in her hands and he stared at her, looking her over suspiciously. "You're safe," she repeated, sweeping his hair back. "Look, it's me, do you know me? Huh?"

He stared at her for a long minute as recognition slid across his features, then suddenly he was clinging to her, hiding his face in her neck in a tight hug. "There we go," she said, petting his hair, "don't be scared."

"Mothers," the Doctor said happily, "most powerful beings in the universe."

They sat the boy down at the kitchen table; Rose was staying close by his side as he was still eyeing the other two fearfully. Something was different now, though—he didn't look scared as much as he looked…overwhelmed. His head whipped wildly back and forth, watching staring down everything in the room from the table to the fridge to his own thumb.

"He's bound to be hungry," Jackie said rummaging through the cupboards.

"Why do you try to feed everyone who walks in the door, Mum?" Rose rolled her eyes. "There are other ways to take care of people than stuffing their faces."

"Faces," the boy repeated.

They all stared at him in shock. He was simply sitting in his chair, looking in fascination at the ceiling tiles.

"Did he just speak?" Jackie asked.

"I think so," Rose said.

"Think so," he repeated.

"Well, that's interesting," the Doctor said, watching the boy carefully. "Not even Time Lords started repetition this early. Of course, they weren't born fully formed either."

"But, why's he doing it?" Rose asked.

"Why's he doing it?" the boy said flatly.

"He's only repeating you," Jackie said to her daughter.

"Well, yeah, he knows her. Most intelligent beings can recognize their mother. This is learning, he copies voices until he can use language himself. Maybe, if he gets to trust me, he might mimic me, too," the Doctor leaned in patting the boy on the arm.

The boy looked at him, blinking curiously, then leaned in as he had, copying his facial expression.

Jackie set a plate in front of him, a bunch of different sandwich meats piled on it. "Go on then, take a bite; see what you like."

He looked at Rose, tilting his head to one side. She picked a bit of salami off the tray, popping it into her own mouth. He copied her movements, pushing a piece of the meat into his mouth. His eyes went wide and he grinned, repeating the action with the other items, suddenly acting as though he had been starving.

"See? Food is the answer sometimes," Jackie teased as she cut up a few fruits and slid them on the tray.

"Sometimes," the boy repeated, taking the fruit from her.

Jackie grinned, grabbing Rose's shoulder. "Oh! He's doing it to me now!"

"Well, yeah," the Doctor said, "you brought him food. Bring a parrot a cracker and he'll be your best friend."

She whacked him on the arm. "You're just upset that he isn't copying you. Don't call my grandson a parrot."

"Parrot," the boy said around a mouth full of strawberries, a slight chuckle in his voice. He took a slice a banana, then spit it out, wiping at his tongue in disgust.

"What?! The Doctor said, his face falling. "You're actually serious, aren't you? You don't like bananas? Bananas are good! Tell him! Rose! Jackie!"

The boy laughed again. "Jack."

"No, it's Jackie," his grandmother informed him. "You don't have to call me that though. We could go with Gran. Or Nan—oh no that makes me sound so old." She said in horror, covering her mouth.

"Jack," the boy insisted.

"Look at that," the Doctor said, suddenly a bit more serious. "You didn't repeat that. You heard it early and used it. That…you shouldn't be able to do that. Not yet, not by any stretch of the imagination."

Rose frowned at him. "Is something wrong? He's just smart, that's all. He's a smart boy, he learns quickly."

"He learns quickly. Jack," the boy said.

"Is that your name?" Rose asked, wiping a bit of fruit juice off his face. "Are you Jack? You want to be named after your grandma?"

"Jack," he said again happily.

"That smile," Rose said, washing the juice from his hands. "My god, you smile just like your father. Okay then, I don't see why you shouldn't have a say in your name. Jack it is. If that works with you, Doctor," she said suddenly, turning back to him.

"Jack is lovely," he said, nodding. "Great name— Jack be nimble, Jack in the box, Jack and the beanstalk—"

"Jack Harkness," Rose laughed.

"No. No, not like Jack Harkness, no. Nothing like him," the Doctor shivered.

The loud scraping of the chair against the floor grabbed all their attention as Jack stood from the table, stepping carefully on long shaky legs into the living room. They followed him, watching him carefully as he explored the room, picking everything up and examining it. His grin grew after each new discovery. They sat and watched, getting just as much enjoyment as he did from watching him find new things. He spent a good five minutes staring intently at a vase Jackie had placed on the coffee table, studying the three roses placed inside of it.

Finally he stretched his fingers out and inspected them. "Fingers," he stated, looking over at the Doctor.

"Well, look at that!" the Doctor said. "He does remember last night."

Jack lifted one of the roses out of the vase and brought it to his face, then gently walked over to Rose and put it in her hand. "…look at that," he stuttered out a bit, trying to reuse the Doctor's words.

"Wow, that's a very nice rose, Jack," she said, pretending to examine it as closely as he had.

He looked between her and the flower, obviously trying to convey something he had no words for. The Doctor frowned, reaching over and taking the flower. "No, he can't be."

"What's he doing?"

"He recognized the word. He knows your name is Rose, and he's made the connection between your name and the flower. That's amazing. I've never seen a being learn that fast."

"He learns quickly," Jack said, repeating a snippet he'd heard earlier. "Jack learns quickly." He looked at Rose with a broad smile. "Rose?"

"It's Mum to you," she informed him, booping him on the nose as Jackie switched on the TV.

He laughed, poking her nose back, all traces of his earlier fear gone from his excited face. He heard more voices and turned to the TV, his eyes widening as he saw more faces running past the screen. He looked at the Doctor with wide eyes.

"What, did you think we were the only faces in the universe? This isn't even my only face. You've got plenty of things to see, Jack."

Rose watched the boy carefully as he examined the television. "Doctor? You've had other faces…Will he…?"

"Regenerate? No. One heart, one life. Mind you, he might live quite a while. One hundred, maybe two hundred years if he's careful. Then again… we'll have to keep an eye on his quantum state. If it's too unpredictable then… well then we'll have to find a way to fix it."

The voices on the television changed from happy to maudlin as Jack played with the buttons, switching channels. A grim faced woman in a pinstripe suit sat behind a news desk, facing her waiting audience through the screen.

—and there has been no development on the disappearance of Chairwoman McNab, but the remains of Professor Edwards from the University of Colorado, America, have been found. Authorities have placed the time of abduction at roughly 4pm, London Standard Time, meaning the Professor was still expected in classes when he suddenly disappeared from his office. The Professor's death is being considered connected to that of Miles Frobisher because the two had been close friends, despite their difference in location, and disappeared in the same way—from a locked office in the middle of two busy office buildings. The body of Miles Frobisher was found some weeks ago, but authorities will not discuss the details of how the bodies were found, or what they looked like. We do have it, on good eyewitness report accounts, that both the bodies may have been compressed in some way. This, on top of the death of Miss Toshiko—

Jackie switched the TV off. "Dreadful business. Too bad about Chairwoman McNab though, I voted for her you know—"

"How long ago was this?" The Doctor asked. He turned the TV back on, but the report was over. "Why didn't you tell us about this?"

"Tell you about murders? Why would I? They weren't crushed by a spaceship, if that's what you're thinking. Just ordinary humans killing each other. It's sad, but there you go."

"Professor Edwards, I knew him, I met him last year. He was working on a paper on his theory of Relative Time Travel, and I attended one of his lectures. He was way, way off mind you, but it was still fascinating to listen to a human get close to figuring it out. It's like watching a fish play chopsticks; it's not exactly Beethoven, but still pretty impressive by the standards of a fish. Miles Frobisher… I know that name, too. How do I know that name?" the Doctor sighed, rubbing his temples. "Ah! I can't think! It's this head! I need a bigger head."

"Doctor," Rose started, "if you know these people, do you think they're disappearance might be connected to you? With them disappearing like that…do you think someone is sending a message?"

"It could be. We should definitely check it out. I recorded a copy of his lecture, I should have it in the library on the TARDIS."

"Um, hello," Jackie said, crossing her arms. "I think you two are missing something. You have a child. You can't just go off, running about the way you used to, leaving him all alone."

The Doctor raised his eyebrow. "Well, no. Obviously he's coming in the TARDIS with us."

Jackie widened her eyes and threw her arms out, making a blockade between the Doctor and his son. "Not bloody likely! I've heard about some of the things you two get into. He's a baby! It's bad enough you run my daughter all over the universe; I barely get to see her. You can't take him too."

"Mum, there's no safer place than the TARDIS," Rose said reassuringly.

"Maybe, but you never stay in the bloody TARDIS, do you? You told me about the last places you've been. You fought the devil, those French clockwork men, that school, just a few miles down the road was all full of monsters, then Mickey and that whole Cyborg thing—"

"Cybermen. Those were Cybermen," the Doctor interjected quickly.

"Whatever! You aren't dragging my grandson all over Time and Space in that worn out phone box!"

"Oi! Bigger on the inside," he protested.

"Mum, I know how to take care of Jack," Rose said.

"How can you? He's not even a day old. No one knows exactly what he is—"

"Exactly, neither of you know exactly what he is, but I know him best. There's a reason I had to drink that goop in the TARDIS floor—he's part Time Lord. The TARDIS is his home, I'm sorry but it's true. It's where his parents live, where they fell in love, and if I have anything to say about it, it's where he'll spend most of his time. We will come back, Mum. All three of us, no matter how bad the situation gets, we'll always find a way back to you."

Jackie was about to protest, but she was surprised by Jack, hugging her from behind. She turned to him, the baby who was at her eye level. "Home," he repeated from his mother.

Jackie rubbed a bit of water from her eyes, hugging the boy back. "You better find your way back to me. Every time. I expect to see you again soon, young man."

The Doctor smiled to see his son hugging his grandmother. "You think telly is fun, Jack? Wait until you see the real world."


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