One: Son of an Adventurer – The Family of Blood
"Get down! – Argh! They're following us."– "And the good news is?" – "Their life spans are running out, so, we hide. Wait for them to die. – That's the Chameleon Arch. Rewrites my biology. – I have to stop being a Time Lord. I'm going to become Human.""Can you tell me why in the Nine Hells she sent me a distress signal?""Tales of the Sky. – Journal of Impossible Things.""He's like a miniature storm, isn't he? So different from what you are used to in men." – "Yes."'It doesn't help he's… fancying me!' – "He's still in there. His emotions."«If they find us Martha… open the watch.»'I need a roof. I need to see, to hear. There is something I cannot grasp, hidden under all these human timelines, some fixed event why we are here of all places and times. – I need a beacon.'"Sometimes I say things and they turn out to be correct.""Martha, they found us. – What in the name of the Nine Hells… The watch. Someone took it…""Change back!" – "We need a Time Lord." – "She's your beloved, isn't she? Your beloved companion." – "Which one do you want us to kill?" – "Doesn't this scare you enough to change back?" – "Your lover, or your friend?"
"Homo est. Humani nihil a se alienum putat." (He is human. He believes that nothing human is alien to him.) – Cicero
"Make your decision, Mr. Smith," Jenny grinned.
"Perhaps if that human heart breaks, the Time Lord will emerge," Baines mused.
"You did yourself a great disservice with not tying me up," the Professor muttered darkly. Baines shot her a confused look, and that was all she needed. Yelling, she let loose a blast of negative psychic energy, freeing herself and stealing Clark's gun with a well-aimed slap.
"What was that?" Baines whispered hoarsely, fighting the sound of an enormous bell in his head.
"I'm pretty good at ripping people's minds to shreds. Pity yours are a bit too dissimilar to most, which means I would need some time," she hissed, taking a step back to aim at them. The one time I forget the blaster. "One more move and I shoot," she warned him.
"Oh, the Mrs. is full of fire!" Baines snickered. The answer was not as funny, as the Professor shot off his tie, missing his neck by millimetres.
"Careful, Son of Mine. This is all for you so that you can live forever," Clark warned, also fighting with the echo of the psychic attack.
"Shoot you down!" Baines growled, causing a Mexican Standoff.
"You would be dead before you can pull the trigger, slowpoke douche dumpster," the Time Lady glared.
"Would you really pull the trigger?"
"Brief history lecture," the Professor stated in a deliberately bored voice. "Because it is impossible you're going to shoot me of all things in all of history. Surely, if you are after a Time Lord, you must have heard the stories and legends of Gallifrey? The walking terror, the galaxies which will never be, erased from the fabric of time and space… that was me, kid. I am the Raging Sea, the Misery of the Stars, the Destroyer of Histories, The Law of Gallifrey – the Professor." Slowly but surely, she let her presence flood the room. "Do you really want to bring that down on you, bozo? For then, I will guarantee your future will end in fire. Now let her go!"
Baines eyes widened, both in terror and in shock. But she scents of human! How?! One Time Lord – the one who burnt his own world – was one thing, but having another, who was very much aware of what she was and what she was capable of, specifically this one, Mother of The Doctor and epitome of her race's cunning, was another thing altogether. He nodded at Jenny, who let Martha go.
The Professor pushed the young woman behind her. "Martha, Theta, Miss Redfern, please, get everyone out. There's a door at the side. It's over there. Go on. Go, John, go!"
"Do what she said. Everybody out, now. Don't argue, Mister Jackson. They're mad. That's all we need to know. Susan, Miss Cooper, outside, all of you," Joan said, ushering out the crowd.
Gulping, Martha grabbed John's arm and dragged him away. "Come on, John."
"No…" John was simply put, shell-shocked, and thus, the women had to manhandle him away.
"Audacity, I give you that," Baines mocked the Professor, all of them advancing on the Time Lady after she'd let Jenny go. "The audacity of a Valeyard of Gallifrey. But you are nothing like that woman – she even banished her own daughter without hesitation. The Law of Gallifrey would have killed us, right here, right now. You didn't, for you had to suffer through the burning of your whole family…" Just then, a scarecrow reached for the Professor. "Get the gun!"
Relinquishing the weapon, the Professor used the one weapon which couldn't fail her. "Gong!" she hissed, evading the scarecrow as she projected the sound of a Cloister Bell into their heads, a thousand times louder than in reality, stunning them, and raced out. Much to her chagrin, Martha, John and Miss Redfern were still outside. "What are you still doing here?! Move! By the Seven, you're rubbish at being human Theta. Come on! Run!" And running they did.
At school, John called the faculty and the pupils at arms, much to the terror of Martha, the initial annoyance of the headmaster, and causing the Professor to look away. "John, you can't fight straw with bullets."
"First you want me to fight, now you want me to run. What do you really want?"
"I want you to remember, Theta." She had given up following the charade, as much as he fought it. "Martha, please go with Miss Redfern and find me that time-forsaken scrap piece of a watch."
The young woman frowned. "What will you do?"
"Find a gun. Of all the days I forget to pack the sonic blaster," she grumbled, but her distaste of (unnecessary) violence was there all the same.
Martha turned away. Her reaction matched her line of work all too well, as she knew from her uncle, who worked for Scotland Yard, and the woman's instincts were dead-set on protecting people; her being the matriarch of her family didn't help that at all. She had lived that life for longer than the modern calendar existed. Protect, nurture; capture, bring justice. To go for the kill… She shook her head and dragged Joan away with her.
On their way to John's room, they passed Timothy Latimer, who cowered in a corner, listening to the watch. "Hold me. Keep me safe. Keep me dark. Keep me closed. The time is not right. Not yet. Not while the Family is abroad. Danger!" the Doctor warned.
Meanwhile, John had to watch in terror as Baines declared that they were "the Family of Blood", had murdered people, wanted him on a silver platter and killed Mr. Philips. Shaking, he noted his mother's hand on his shoulder. "Mother."
"They won't get you, child," the Professor whispered, the eyes suddenly far older than ever before.
His eyes widened as he saw her shouldering a rifle. "You…" He shook his head in denial. "Mother, please…"
"Mr. Philips has been murdered, Dr. Smith." The headmaster broke into their exchange. "Can you tell me why?"
John shook his head again. "Honestly, sir, I have no idea. And the telephone line's been disconnected. We are on our own."
Rocastle took in the news sternly. "If we have to make a fight of it, then make a fight we shall. Hutchinson, we'll build a barricade within the courtyards. Fortify the entrances, build our defences. Gentlemen, in the name of the King, we shall stand against them."
"Count me in," the Professor ground out.
"Ma'am, with due respect, this is no place for a woman–" Rocastle stopped immediately as the ancient woman disassembled the rifle blindly, put it back together and aimed dead between his eyes.
"You were saying, sir? I bet not even you hunted tigers afoot." And it were Almatian Tigers, which are trice the size. Granted, I wasn't alone, but it's still something else than shooting them from the back of an elephant.
"Headmaster, my mother was always a better shot than me or my father," John added, both awed and saddened by the fact. He couldn't even remember why she could – just that everyone was supposed to know she could fight, and would stop at nothing.
"Very well," Rocastle conceded, sending the boys to finish their fortifications and walked away in shock, getting back to work.
John turned to his mother. "Mother, I want you to…" The words died on his lips as he came face to face with the full force of the woman's years reflected in her eyes. "Mother?"
"I left you to fight alone once, and it cost us everything, despite it being in my power to stop that nut job scientist who never could deal with wartime, just because I am as scared of him as of Black Holes," she whispered. "I am not abandoning you this time."
"But you don't like fighting."
Slinging the rifle over her shoulder, she hugged him tightly. "For family, I would do anything."
John ran into Joan who was decked out in her nurse outfit, preparing for battle. "Matron, it's not safe here."
"I'm doing my duty, just as much as you," she replied, replaying the conversation she just had with Martha – how he and Verity Smith were born on another world, called Gallifrey, not even human, and how the Doctor had turned himself into John Smith, storing everything alien about himself in a watch, overwriting it with false memories. How they all were from the future. "You said you were born in Alexandria."
"Just outside of it, on the Nile's westernmost branch."
What followed sounded more like a recitation of a geography lesson than a life story, much to Joan's confusion. No human would describe their childhood like that, facts and figures. "More than facts. When you were a child, where did you play? All those secret little places, the dens and hideaways that only a child knows?"
Unbidden, the image of a grand house with endless rooms built into a cliff came into his mind, a man's voice whispering Lungbarrow in the image; endless plains of red grass and great gardens surrounding it, and he felt an ache in his chest as if someone had torn out his heart and roasted it in front of him. He shook his head. "I… How can you believe I am not real? I am in love! I have a mother."
"She's just like you. She's an alien, a… a Time Lord or whatever it is those creatures are after. She isn't human."
"What in the world gives you the right…"
"She is your mother, in her own words, but she's not human," Joan interrupted. "She said it herself."
He froze, the realization washing over him like icy rain. "No…" he shook his head, "No, she… she was playing them."
"No Doctor Smith. She clearly knew what they were. She saved us, by betraying her own secret." Joan shook her head. "Besides. She and Martha are right. Those boys, they're children. John Smith wouldn't want them to fight, never mind The Doctor. The John Smith I was getting to know, he knows it's wrong, doesn't he?"
"Doctor Smith, if you please!" Rocastle called.
"I have to go," he whispered, unable to deny the nurse's words as he walked away.
Meanwhile, desperation made an advance on an already confused and frustrated Martha. Goddamnit! Where is that stupid watch?! The study, the library, his desk, the drawing table – nothing. It was gone.Letting out a frustrated yell, she threw several papers into the air and stormed out. I really should remember that I got the memo. Life with the Doctor is Murphy's Law.
"Latimer, you filthy coward!" Hutchinson called after his reluctant partner.
"Oh yes, sir. Every time," he called back as he ran back into the school. Away from the battlefield – he had something else to do. Hiding in yet another corner, he took out the watch again. "What do I do? What do I do? What do I do?" he whispered.
"Beware," all the voices of the watch warned.
"Beware of what?"
"Her." Just then, Lucy Cartwright – sister-of-mine – stood in front of him, sniffing. He got to his feet, alarmed. "Keep away," he called.
"Who are you?" she asked.
"I saw you at the dance. You were with that family. You're one of them," he rattled down, lowering the hand with the watch out of sight.
"What are you hiding?"
"What have you got there?"
"Show me, little boy," she demanded.
"Let me help," the Doctor whispered into his mind. "She won't be able to take that."
Grim determination etched itself into Tim's face. "I reckon whatever you are, you're still in the shape of a girl. How strong is she, do you think? Does she really want to see this?" he answered. In one fluid motion, he aimed the watch at the girl, opening it, showing her just what kind of man she was after – a man who didn't give second chances. Whose hands had destroyed his own world for the sake of all of history. Who drowned the entirety of the Racnoss just like that, a World-Maker watching on for amusement. The Oncoming Storm. Frightened, Sister-of-Mine ran away. Tim took the stairs to the dormitory. "Was it really right to reveal you like that?"
"They know the Raging Sea is here. I cannot lose her again. Watch yourself."
"Your mother?" He sat down on his bed.
"I am sorry for frightening you. But I wonder though, if it had been her, would you have been able to be not scared of her?" the Doctor mused.
"A sea rages when a storm comes," Tim answered, listening to the scarecrows attacking the front gates. "You go hand in hand, don't you?"
"What was there first, egg or chicken? And so we do."
As the scarecrows had broken into the courtyard, John found himself unable to fire even a single round, while his mother fired the rifle with the cold professionalism of a soldier. (He didn't know if he should be proud at that, flinch or be sad she even had to.) It became soon apparent that both Baines and his mother had been right – bullets against straw were such a good idea. However, he thought that not even these things would resort to such low measures as using a little girl, but there she was. Lucy Cartwright mocked the headmaster, and finally vaporised him.
What followed, was nothing short of chaos. They ran. All of them. Eventually, they hid outside in the bushes.
Both to Martha's and the Professor's horror, the Family had… "By the Nine Hells, the Void and Rassilon's underpants! These sack-faces of a bunch of short-lived cockroaches have my TARDIS!" the Time Lady hissed.
Joan stared in shock at the older woman using such language.
"Not to mention the Doctor's," Martha shuddered. "We're trapped!"
"Doctor! Doctor!" Clark called, sing-song. "Come back, Doctor. Come home. Come and claim your prize."
"Out you come, Doctor. There's a good boy. Come to the Family," Baines mocked.
"Time to end it now," Jenny added.
Martha turned to John and put her hand on top of his. "You recognise it, don't you?"
"Come out, Doctor! Come to us!"
"I've never seen it in my life," he answered, the eyes wide with confusion and denial.
"I'm sorry, Theta, but you wrote about it. The blue box. You dreamt of a blue box," the Professor pressed. "That's a TARDIS."
"I'm not. I'm John Smith. That's all I want to be. John Smith, with his life, and his family, and his job, and his love. Why can't I be John Smith? Isn't he a good man?" he wailed as his world was rent asunder. Desperately, he clung to Martha.
"Yes. Yes, he is," the young woman assured him. And it was true. He was a good person – had she met that human Doctor in her time instead of the Time Lord Doctor, she would have been utterly charmed and swept away. Much like Joan had been in the beginning.
"Why can't I stay?" he whispered.
But, as the Professor pointed out, John Smith was a mere fragment of what the Doctor could be. "We need The Doctor."
"What am I, then? Nothing. I'm just a story," he got to his feet, preparing to run away.
A hand on his arm stopped him. "No. You are my son, Thete," the Professor stated sadly. "And you will always be my son."
Something slipped through the cracks made by the many key phrases, a memory filled with red grass and that house in the mountains. A poem, which, strangely enough, rhymed in English too. (Why was it he knew it wasn't in English?) "She's the first to hold my hand, the first to hold me tight, the first to show me love, and the first with whom I'll fight. The first to be my hero, the first to be my bane, the first of all my teachers, and the first to keep me sane. The first to say 'I love you' and the first to be my fun. And no matter what transpires, I will be my mother's son," he whispered hoarsely, the eyes glittering with unshed tears. "What am I then? How do I know these things?"
The Time Lady sighed, getting to her feet as well. "Not here. Is there any place we can talk in private, Miss Redfern?"
The blonde straightened and nodded crisply. "This way. I think I know somewhere."
She led them to a cottage. "Oh, here we are. It should be empty. Oh, it's a long time since I've run that far."
"It is empty," the Professor confirmed, scanning the place with eyes which saw Time. All lines were that of objects (or insects, but who was counting?).
"How come you're not out of breath?"
"Gallifreyan. My body works different than yours." They went inside, and came facing a table decked out for afternoon tea. "Stone cold. The place has been empty for hours."
"Who lives here?" Martha wondered, sitting down the man at the table.
"Err, the Cartwrights. That little girl at the school, she's Lucy Cartwright, or she's taken Lucy Cartwright's form. If she came home this afternoon and if the parents tried to stop their little girl, then they were vanished," Joan answered. "How easily I accept these ideas."
"It speaks of your strength, Miss," the Professor mused. "Omega, I still can't hear it. Why can't I hear it?"
"I must go to them, before anyone else dies," John spoke up.
"You can't," the three women called at the same time.
"Mrs. Smith – Professor," Joan corrected herself, "Martha. There must be something we can do."
"Not without the watch," Martha stated sadly.
"You're this Doctor's Mother. Can't you help?" he glared.
"A sea won't rage properly without an oncoming storm," she glared back, causing him to flinch.
What in god's name was wrong with her eyes?! I had the feeling I just looked at Time itself!
"What am I then, if not just a story?" he repeated his question from earlier.
"You are his hearts, taruelai," she stated softly. "The boy I have raised to be a man all these centuries ago. But you are so much more than just that. You are a legend, a hero amongst us."
"And that's what you want me to become."
Just then, a soft knock on the door interrupted the upcoming argument. Shaking her head, the Professor walked to the door.
"What if it's them?" Joan wondered.
"I'm not an expert, but I don't think scarecrows knock," Martha replied. "Professor?"
"It's a human. Timeline is definitely the line of a human," the LEO dismissed, opening the door.
Timothy Latimer stood in the frame, holding out the watch. "I brought you this."
"About damn time," the Professor muttered in Gallifreyan, taking the watch and leading the boy inside. Theta!
Janayi! Oh thank Rassilon, it's so good to hear you.
Once you're back, you have a hell lot of explaining to do to a certain med student, she thought darkly. And don't even think about your usual dismissals.
I wouldn't even want to, he admitted. Get me back, I hate this!
Easier said than done. You're rubbish at Human Nature. She turned around and held out the watch to John. "Hold it."
"I won't," John shook his head, as if this all was just a nightmare.
"He told me to find you. It wants to be held," Latimer insisted.
"You've had this watch all this time? Why didn't you return it?" Martha couldn't quite believe that soft-spoken Timothy would just snatch a watch from his teacher's study like this.
"Because it was waiting. Then, because I was so scared of the Doctor," he admitted.
"Why?" Joan wondered. Tim was not the bravest in school, but he was no coward. In a way, he was braver than his peers, being able to admit that he was scared.
"Because I've seen him." Getting bolder, he stepped forward, confronting the shell of the man trapped in the watch. "He's like fire and ice and rage. He's like the night and the storm in the heart of the sun."
"Stop it," John hissed. I don't want to hear this!
"He's ancient and forever. He burns at the centre of time and he can see the turn of the universe," Tim continued, undeterred.
"Stop it, I said stop it!" His head hurt, now that he was around the watch again, images jumbling through his head.
"And he's wonderful," the teen finished. "And so are you two, through his eyes."
"He drives me up every wall in existence, but yes, he's absolutely, insanely wonderful," the Professor agreed, smiling together with Martha. "Enough charade…" Twisting the outer ring of the Shapeshifter pendant, she unbraided her hair, transforming back into the perpetually youthful Time Lady. Quickly, she captured the mane in a ponytail. "Much better."
"Vain anyone?" Martha muttered.
"Do you blame me?"
John stared at them as if they were freaks of nature.
Joan however had kept up with the matter, and recognised the appearance of the Professor from the Journal. Making a decision, she pulled it out. "I've still got this. The journal."
"Those are just stories," John shook his head.
"Now we know that's not true. Perhaps there's something in here."
Suddenly, an explosion rocked the area. They ran to the window, and witnessed glowing orbs descending on the area. "They're bombing the area, aren't they," the Professor answered, not looking outside, having her own watch pressed against her ear instead. "They're trying to lure us out."
"Watch." Out of an impulse, John grabbed the watch, and was shocked to hear his own voice, but so different from his own. It was more like that of his mother, flippant but dark, commanding and infinitely old. "Closer."
"Can you hear it?" Tim eyed him.
"Closer." John nodded numbly. "It's like he's asleep. Waiting to awaken."
"Come closer, little man, become complete," the Doctor coaxed.
"Why did he speak to me?" Tim frowned.
"Oh, low level telepathic field," John dismissed in the tone of The Doctor. "You were born with it. Just an extra synaptic engram causing – Is that how he talks?" he stopped, scared.
"That's him!" Martha grinned, excited to hear that familiar manner again. "All you have to do is open it and he's back."
"You knew this all along and yet you –" he gestured between themselves, unable to speak any further.
"She did because you are him, and because I told her so," the Professor cut in. "Don't blame her for my ways. You – you are exactly the same as the Doctor. 780 years ago."
"It was always going to end, though! The Doctor said the Family's got a limited lifespan, and that's why they need to consume a Time Lord. Otherwise, three months and they die. Like mayflies, he said," Martha explained, looking just as troubled.
"And trying to consume an Antarian instead is a one-way ticket to hell," the Professor muttered.
"So your job was to execute me," John accused Martha, feeling slightly betrayed.
"No," the Professor cut in. "That is my duty. The TARDIS would have sent me a signal after the end of the three months, and I would have opened it. Or make you. I will never allow Martha to suffer for our family's tendency of attracting minor and major catastrophes."
"Why should I then?"
"People are dying out there. They need him and we need him. Because you've got no idea of what he's like. I've only just met him. It wasn't even that long ago. But he is everything. He's just everything to me and he doesn't even look at me, but I don't care, because I love him – you – to bits," Martha admitted.
Just then, one of the bombs struck closer to the cottage. "It's getting closer," Tim murmured.
He rushed to the side. "I should have thought of it before. I can give them this. Just the watch. Then they can leave and I can stay as I am."
"You can't do that!" the Professor glared.
"If they want the Doctor, they can have him."
"He'll never let you do that. Neither will I. And you can never have Martha. The times won't allow it, and you know it. What kind of life would that be?" the Professor answered. "And also… you'd never be able to overpower me. I have lost my world, my people, my House, and my husband. Are you denying me my only surviving child as well, taruelai?" she whispered.
"If they get what they want, then, then…"
Flipping through the journal, Joan shuddered. The ancient woman's maternal love was heavy in the air, bordering on obsessive. Her words reminded of the dreams John had about a burning world, lost forever. But the end made her gasp. "Then it all ends in destruction. I never read to the end. Those creatures would live forever, to breed and conquer. A war across the stars for every child."
"And the Lords of Space would fight them, leaving nothing but ashes of stars," the Professor promised darkly, remembering the Great Rift – a wound in reality-space from the Celestial Civil War, not healed yet despite billions of years having passed. The result of a battle all over reality. She reached for Joan and Tim. "Let them have some privacy." They filed out, leaving the pair behind.
Inside, Martha and John had sat down before the fireplace. "I'm sorry." She hugged the sobbing man.
"You have no idea of how he feels about you, don't you?" John snorted without humour. "You think he doesn't even see you. But we see you, and you're beautiful. And I cannot even be angry with you, because, well, he isn't, and you are too important to him to lose." He closed his eyes, unable to keep the Doctor's voice out any longer. "I can't even be mad at you for keeping it all a secret, what you and Mother were going to do because the way I feel about you. I just love you two too much."
"Oh John," Martha whispered sadly. She took his hand, covering the watch.
John gasped as a vision assaulted him. The life he could have had, had he been a human from Martha's time. His life as another doctor, meeting her as a colleague. Working together, falling in love. (Getting slapped by her mother.) Their wedding. The birth of their first child, walking in the park with their children, and, finally, a peaceful death after leading a peaceful life. "Did you see that?" he breathed.
Martha nodded numbly. It had been… tempting to say the least. "The Doctor has such adventures, but he could never have a life like that. Not anymore."
John let his head hang. "And neither can I. The times."
The young woman hugged him close. "What now?"
John disentangled himself from her, staring at the watch. Meanwhile, more bombs fell. 'Are you denying me my only surviving child as well? – I need him.' "Decide now." He turned to Martha again, looking her into the eyes. "Allow me one last thing; it would be everything to me."
Unsure, Martha nodded, and was duly surprised as John kissed her for the fourth time, but didn't hesitate to respond. Suddenly, she could hear a faint click, and golden energy wrapped itself around them, concentrating on John…
He jerked back as the power reasserted itself where it belonged. But, even as it was a return to base, it hurt, and so, they screamed. Every second that passed though, the pain lessened as the man's internal structure was reset, and his conscious memory returned. Gallifrey, Lungbarrow, Citadel, Time Lords, and alas, Daleks. Janayi. His name. His family. His companions, beginning with Susan, clever little Susan… Rose, Mickey… Loyal, brave Jack… Magnificent Donna who he scared off… and Martha. Strong, brilliant, beautiful Martha. The Doctor ceased screaming, looking at his companion. No point lying to yourself, you old codger. Janayi will have your hide for it. His beloved companion. I must have the worst track record in the universe after Captain Jack. He noticed faintly that he was panting, and was, much to his dismay, dressed in tweed. Worse than bowties! "Hello Martha."
Laughing, she hugged him briefly, but then, she waved her head at the door. "Go."
Not waiting, he pocketed the watch and raced outside, falling into step with his mother. "Any ideas?"
"I am just an annoying old policewoman, you're the cloudcuckoolander genius," she snarled sarcastically. "Took you long enough. Seriously. Of all the faults you had to inherit from your father and his House, it just had to be the inability to deal with emotion."
The Doctor blushed. "Okay, okay, I get it. No, really, any ideas?"
"Acting and trickery, as it becomes of a scion of Prydon. Beyond that…" she trailed off. "Well, they wanted to live forever?"
He nodded grimly. "I think I know just the ones."
"Let's go then."
"We'll blast them into dust, fuse the dust into glass, then shatter them all over again!" Baines shouted gleefully as he and the Family watched the destruction on a screen. There was a metal clang behind them, causing them to spin around to see John enter the ship.
"Just…" A bomb blast rocked the ground, causing him to lurch against a column of switches. "Just stop the bombardment. That's all I'm asking. I'll do anything you want, just, just stop."
"Say please," Baines ordered calmly.
Both Jenny and Baines turned down two of the panels, ending the attack. "Wait a minute," Jenny said, taking a deep sniff. "Still human."
In a panicked voice, John continued. "Now I can't, I can't pretend to understand, not for a second, but I want you to know I'm innocent in all this. He made me John Smith. It's not like I had any control over it," he stumbled, pressing another set of buttons.
"He didn't just make himself human. He made himself an idiot," Jenny frowned.
"Same thing, isn't it?" Baines mocked.
"I don't care about this Doctor and your family. I just want you to go. So I've made my choice." He held out the watch. "You can have him. Just take it, please! Take him away," he offered.
Baines/Son-of-Mine snatched the watch. "At last." Before John could get away though, Baines yanked him back by the suit lapel. "Don't think that saved your life." He pushed John away. More switches got activated as the man fell against the wall. "Family of Mine, now we shall have the lives of a Time Lord," he grinned, opening the watch. All of them sniffed deeply, once, Sister-of-Mine even twice. But… "It's empty!" he thundered, snapping the contraption closed and rounding in on John.
The man stared at him with wide, panic-filled eyes, still sitting on the ground. "Where's it gone?"
"You tell me!" He threw the watch.
The man caught it one-handed without looking, blinking slowly. "Oh, I think the explanation might be you've been fooled by a simple olfactory misdirection," The Doctor smirked, getting to his feet. "Little bit like ventriloquism of the nose." With a dexterity John never possessed, he played with the tritanium tool, holding it between his index and middle finger before pocketing it. Nonchalantly, he continued, "It's an elementary trick in certain parts of the galaxy. But it has got to be said…" he put on his glasses and shot a look at an instrument on the wall beside him, "I don't like the looks of that hydrokinometer. It seems to be indicating you've got energy feedback all the way through the retrostabilisers, feeding back," he gestured at the energy's path, ending at a metal pillar beside him; he knocked it and leaned against it. "Into the primary heat converters. Oh." The Doctor pulled a grimace, somewhere stuck between 'glee' and 'whoops'. "Because if there's one thing you shouldn't have done…" He paused, mock-pouting. "You shouldn't have let me press all those buttons." The Time Lord turned around, making way for the door. Almost as an afterthought, he turned back again. "But! In fairness, I will give you one word of advice." He grinned, a full Lungbarrow-manic grin filled with naked spite and glee. "Run." He rushed out, again falling into step with his mother.
Just then, alarms blared on the ship. "Get out! Get out!" Baines yelled.
The family barely made it out of the ship as the spacecraft exploded, and was thrown at the feet of two very aware and very irate Time Lords. Their glares would have turned suns to ice.
They never raised their voices. That was the most terrifying part. The fury of the Time Lords. And then we discovered why. Why this Doctor, who fought with Gods and Demons, and this Professor, who walked along the Keepers of Space and burnt whole galaxies worth of history, why they'd run away and hidden:
They were being kind.
The Doctor wrapped my father into unbreakable chains, forged in the heart of a dwarf star and dropped him into a pit.The two of them tricked my mother into the event horizon of a collapsing galaxy… to be imprisoned there, forever.They both still visit my sister. Each one once a year, every year. I wonder if one day they might forgive her, but there she is, can't you see? The Professor trapped her inside a mirror. Every mirror. If ever you look at your reflection and see something move behind you, just for a second, that's her. That's always her.As for me, I was suspended in time, and the Doctor put me to work, standing over the fields of England... as their protector. - We wanted to live forever... so the Last Lords of Time made sure that we did.
The next morning, the two Time Lords approached the cottage. "Are you sure I shouldn't…"
"Theta, I hate repeating myself as much as you do. You are rubbish at being human, or any form of being emotive for the matter," she glared, now dressed back in her own black suit and white coat, causing an eerie reflection effect between mother and son. He was back in his brown suit, his own coat and the cream Converses.
Sighing, he nodded. "Right. And how am I then supposed to talk to Martha?"
She lifted an eyebrow and shrugged. "Ask John. Otherwise, I have a Room of Truths in my TARDIS."
He frowned. A Room of Truth was Valeyard equipment, a remnant of the age his mother had come from. Hybrid tech, it merged Time Lord and Antarian technology, forcing anyone within the room's boundaries to answer any given question or statement with the bluntest of honesty. "I am not one of your convicts, Janayi."
"No, you're something way worse. You're my offspring," she grumbled.
He sighed, blushing. "Beating an army of Daleks and Cybermen is child's play compared to dealing with women," The Doctor muttered to himself.
"The problem are not women, but you and your inability to look into a mirror other than for shaving," she shot back. "Get it into your thick Gallifreyan skull, that woman is good for you. Want a comparison just how good?"
Now it was the Professor's turn to sigh; she took him by the chin and looked him into the eyes. "She could be to you what your father was to me. If you let yourself for once. And…" she smiled softly, "if you don't believe you deserve it… believe you can't give her what she wants… how about the fact she deserves it? And stop making assumptions about her wishes. Ask her."
He looked her in the eyes. "Her being what father is to you is what I worry about." His eyes showed the pain he always kept hidden. "We both know my… record… How everyone I've ever gotten close to leaves me. They get killed, grow too old, or just decide enough is enough… I'm afraid to go through that with Her."
"I told the same shit your father when he pursued me – it would never work, I was too much a Valeyard, he would get hurt, I wouldn't age etc. For 100 years. Didn't stop him to get me to say 'yes'. And if you continue to be, as Illarion put it so aptly, a pompous ass, you will lose her before you ever had her, she will walk away because enough is enough. You are belittling and underestimating her strength. For someone who is such a fan of humans, that is somewhat idiotic." She glared. "And by the way, I am still here, so your statistic is crap anyway."
"So I get a few decades of happiness for centuries of loneliness?" The Doctor asked. "The difference between her and janayika is that he was a Time Lord."
"I have been accused of being a fan of Antarians. But in this one, I have to agree with them. Time is not important in matters of the hearts. Only life." She let his face go and reached into her pockets. "Remember the prophecy of Kaletiel?" She held out a small crystal slab, the offending words right into his face. "There was a line, which, according to the comment, describes one Martha Jones, and her fate. If you let her: Child of Assiah, Child of Assiah no longer, Walking Maiden, Child of Gallifrey, Chosen One." She pocketed the crystalline tablet pc again. "Pop quiz. What is my major qualification, and which device allows a changing of species?"
"Healer Geneticist and Chameleon A–" The Doctor stared at her with eyes wide. "You… you can…"
"Yes. But that is her decision. For later. Now, you have to go for even ground first." She pressed a kiss to his forehead. "You are my son, and no child-of-my-blood was born a coward. Yes, there is loss, and terrible pain… but wouldn't the prize be worth it all?" With that, she left him behind, entering the cottage.
Alone, the Doctor stood in the rain as bewildered and conflicted as a wet cat.
Can this really happen? he thought to himself. I thought I had given up on such notions long ago... but here I am again. He sat down on a nearby bench. Who am I kidding. She wouldn't want this. Sure, my life seems amazing now, but soon she will get tired of it and want to live the quiet life like everyone else… like the life she would have gotten with John. He leaned back and rubbed his eyes. Besides, even if she did say yes, can I put her through all this? Can I let her see the deaths of all her friends and family as they suffer the tooth of time? Can I keep putting her through all the dangers I go through. Even if she does agree to everything, do I really deserve it? After all I've done?Giving in, he put his head in his hands. Either way we both will get hurt. Either due to the lives we live, or due to me being, well, a Grade A pompous ass. What kind of fool am I? What kind will I be, what shall I do?He started wishing he could just use the chameleon arch again and make it permanent this time. I doubt she'd turn into a Time Lady just for me… what am I thinking? Making assumptions again? So yes, I have a ton of reasons to say no – but then I could just as well lie down and die. I am rubbish at being alone, as much as at emotion. He closed his eyes, trying to will away the pain, but it was as if he was caught up in his own storm. Love, and lose, push away, and lose. What's the gain? In the latter, nothing, the former, a little… Shocked, he realised that this whole argument resembled rather eerily a 20th century poem he'd read not that long ago. "»It is nonsense, says reason. It is what it is, says love. / It is misfortune, says calculation. It is nothing but pain, says fear. It is hopeless, says insight. It is what it is, says love. / It is ridiculous, says pride. It is careless, says caution. It is impossible, says experience. It is what it is, says love.«" It is, what it is. What is, is. Mother… why do you always tend to be right? I'm in love – and I have not a single idea what to do to make it right. Apart from asking Martha myself… dare I? Can I?…
The door clicked closed softly, causing Joan to look up. The Professor stood there, in all her alien glory – infinitely old, and perpetually young at the same time. At least it's not the Doctor. She got up and looked out of the window. "It is done?"
"Yes. They will never hurt anyone again," the Time Lady nodded. "Long beyond the day all the stars go out."
"I suppose that is some kind of vow of assurance for your people."
"Yes. The highest I can give."
"The police and the army are at the school. The parents have come to take the boys home. I should go. They'll have so many questions. I'm not sure what to say." Joan turned around. "Oh, you look the same. Goodness, you must forgive my rudeness. I find it difficult to look at you," she admitted, stopping her ramblings. "Professor, I will have to call you Professor. All a story."
"No. A part of me. You said the day before yesterday that my books – and yes, I did write these – seemed to be as if seen through history. Well, it is actually true, I did see their time." Stepping in front of the nurse, she held out a hand. "I am here to apologise, for you getting caught up in these events."
"It was not your idea. But he was braver that the Doctor in the end, that ordinary man. The Doctor chose to change. He chose to die." She shook her head. "Just one question, that's all. If the Doctor had never visited us, if he'd never chosen this place on a whim, would anybody here have died?"
"I resent the idea John died, or that we came here on a whim," the Professor chided gently. "John is but a small part of what is the Doctor. And there is a reason for us being here. And I can prove it."
"Our people can feel, see, and occasionally – depends on the person – hear Time. You know intellectually your world turns on its axis – I can feel it. Every waking second, I can see what is, what was, what could be, what must not," she explained, the eyes growing dark. "It is the burden of a Time Lord. When the family came close to finding my son, hidden amongst you, his ship sent for my help. And when they came here, I felt something in Time. A hidden fixed point in time – an inevitable event in history. These can be as big as a war, or…" she trailed off.
"What? What was this event that was so inevitable that both of you were drawn here?" Joan murmured bitterly.
"You really are perceptive. As big as a war, or as small as a boy finding a Chameleon Arch watch, gaining visions of the future which will save his life and many others," the Professor finished. "I admit, I had trouble finding the event. The fabric of history in Farringham school is dense and twisted, and thus the event was hidden from my eyes and ears. Only when Tim Latimer came to this cottage, the watch in hands, it became clear." She offered her hand again. "Do you want to see what I see? The sun will rise soon over the horizon before disappearing behind clouds."
"It's different to you, isn't it." Nodding slowly, the blonde took the offered hand. "What now?"
Joan looked outside, facing east, and gasped. The twilight of the dawn gave way to sunrise, the star just barely peeking over the horizon… but, it was different from what she normally saw. A glowing trail of something was written onto the sky, like a ghost of the sun's rise, and she realised that it was some kind of signature. "What's that?"
"Time signature of the sun's path of vision. I gave you a selected view of what I can see. All the time, no pun intended. Right now, you are seeing where it was, is, and will be," the Time Lady explained. "Given the right kind of knowledge, you can tell apart flux from fixed. And both my son and I have learnt that from age eight on." She let her go. "So, we were here for a reason."
"By god's will, huh?" Joan shook her head. "No, not to you. Different world, different beliefs."
"I will not delve into that particular subject, as it cost my people too much. You can say that, whoever wanted us here, got what they wanted." The Professor shook her head as well. "If it is any comfort, I can tell you something about yourself."
"You can see the fu–" She stopped herself. "You can, just not all of it."
"Especially not my own. And it's more the hearing that does the job. If you want me to."
"Will they be alright?"
The Professor closed her eyes, delving deep into time. "Don't worry about the school, they'll be fine." She opened them again and faced the nurse. "Furthermore, so will you. It will take a while, but you'll be fine."
Surprised at the honest assurance, Joan nodded. "Thank you. Professor."
The woman from Gallifrey bowed. "It was my pleasure, Miss Redfern." In a whirl, she swept out.
It was still drizzling when the two Chronarchs returned to the TARDIS, now parked where the scarecrow that the Doctor mended used to stand. Martha awaited them. "How was she?"
"She's fine," the Professor nodded. "Or technically, she will be."
"Right then. Molto bene," the Doctor intoned, indicating the end of the adventure. "Time we moved on."
"Are you sure? I mean, I could go and–"
"I think you two have your own issues to work on, so yes, time we moved on," the Professor interrupted the younger woman.
"About last night…" Martha began.
"Can we talk later? This is too important," the Doctor stopped her, shaking on the inside. "Way too important."
"So here we are then," she stated.
"Yes, here we are," the Doctor finished, not looking her into the eyes.
"You … wouldn't happen to have no memories of your time as John, right?" she asked hopefully.
"That's one of the things we can talk about hanging in the vortex. I'd rather don't stand for that in the pouring rain," he answered, fidgeting. But then, he faced her again. "I didn't have the time last night. So I never said: Thanks for looking after me." He hugged her, maybe a little too tightly for it being a mere friendly hug.
Stop being a coward, Theta, the amused voice of his mother called into the ether. She had stayed a little behind, letting the two friends-or-so have their moment. And thanks for the show!
Just then, Timothy Latimer came up the hill behind them. "Doctor. Martha. Professor."
"Tim-Timothy-Timber!" the two Chronarchs exclaimed, grinning.
"I just wanted to say goodbye. And thank you. Because I've seen the future and I now know what must be done." He paused, frowning. "It's coming, isn't it? The biggest war ever."
"You don't have to fight," Martha told him.
"I think we do."
"You could get hurt," the Professor warned.
"So could you two, one travelling with him, the other doing the same things as him, and it's not going to stop you," the boy lifted an eyebrow.
Truly. Making a decision, the Doctor pulled out his own Chameleon Arch watch. "Tim, I'd be honoured if you'd take this." He held it out on his palm.
Grinning, Tim took the contraption, and frowned. "I can't hear anything."
"No, it's just a watch now. It served its purpose, all it contained is back where it is supposed to be," the Doctor smiled. "But keep it with you, for good luck."
"Besides, no watch on this world will ever be as precise as that one," the Professor grinned, placing her hand on top of it. A faint glow enveloped the hands of Time Lady and schoolboy for just a second. "And that's from me."
Tim was astonished to say the least, for now, he could hear a faint echo of the Professor herself. "What is that?"
"You're a telepath, but you can't control it. So, the watch will teach you to do so… and our language," the Valeyard smiled, stepping back.
"I'll keep these words close to my heart," the boy promised.
Martha hugged him goodbye, placing a kiss on his cheek. "Look after yourself."
The time travellers entered the TARDIS, the Doctor being last. "You'll like this bit," he grinned, closing the door after himself.
Tim grinned as he finally saw with his own eyes how the TARDIS dematerialised.
Inside, the Doctor was having a hard time not to start whining. "Janayi, you have your own TARDIS!"
"And you are not going anywhere or anywhen until you've faced that damn mirror, son," the woman glared, having hijacked the controls of the ship. "Besides, she won't go anywhere, or will you, beautiful?"
"Not a chance in the Nine Hells, my thief," the Avatar of the TARDIS stated behind him, causing him to jump. With Martha's help, the sentient ship had chosen the appearance of a dark-haired, fair-skinned pretty woman in a dark blue dress.
Martha didn't know if she should laugh out loud, shake her head, break out into tears or just collapse from exhaustion. The whole situation was just too surreal. Another version of the Doctor – apparently, made up of his emotions – had fallen in love with her, and now, the Doctor's mother and his ship were ganging up on him on the issue.
"And what am I supposed to do?"
"How do you feel, taruelai? How do you feel? Just for once in the last few centuries, act how you feel, not what your overdeveloped Gallifreyan mind tells you," the Professor argued.
"How do I feel?" he muttered. "How do I feel…" The two women inched closer, waiting for his answer. "I feel… I feel like…" The words wouldn't come out, no matter how hard her tried. Only one thought came to mind. "This," he reached over and kissed Martha square on the full lips.
Nearly automatically, Martha responded, wrapping her arms around his neck to pull him closer. Before, kissing John had been a little awkward on both sides, with the man acting a little inexperienced, less demanding than his Time Lord self had been in the Royal Hope hospital. But, unlike the 'genetic transfer' (and a part of her began to doubt that it was the only reason for that), this was not cut short, more explorative, as if learning the lay of the land; the man's fine, long-fingered hands were doing the same with her jawline and cheeks as he cradled them. She took the invitation and took control, doing a little exploring of her own, taking in the feel of his thin lips, the strong jaw, and the man's soft hair. A tongue suddenly nipped at her lips, begging entrance. Without hesitation, she opened her mouth to him.
The Doctor couldn't help but moan as his tongue came in contact with hers, and she matched him every second. Truth was, ever since the Royal Hope (genetic transfer? Seriously? There are easier ways to do that!), a big part of him had wanted to do it again. Repeatedly. The same part had wondered how she would taste, and was met with immense pleasure to find out it was a mix of dark chocolate and, strangely, limes, but overlaid with something intoxicating, something so quintessential Martha he had no name for it.
Boy, the man could kiss. Martha lost herself in it. It was steamy, demanding and passionate, setting every nerve end on fire, yet she could still sense that it had an element of exploration to it, and… was there the element of "finally" too? She had fantasised a lot about that mouth of his, but none of her thoughts even came close to the sensations. In tune with his body temp, it was a lot cooler than what she was used to, but that made it way more sensual all the same. And oh, the taste… As they finally came up for air, she licked her lips, remembering it (she wondered though if Time Lords could kiss all they wanted with that respiratory bypass). Something awfully, intoxicatingly sweet and alien, mixed with cinnamon and spice, and something that was just him. "And… what… was that?" she panted.
The Doctor leaned against her forehead, breathing in her scent, reminding him of the sweet grass of his ancestral lands. "Would it be wrong to say I don't really know?" His eyes darted to the side. "Mother… is gone."
"Well, she got what she wanted. Just tell me one thing. What does this mean to you?" she whispered.
"Everything," he answered sincerely, grateful for the serving. "You asked if I remembered being John… truth is, my mother did tell you the truth. John and I, we are, at the core, the same person – what I feel, he felt. But he didn't have to suffer my thoughts and defences and coping mechanisms, and thus, he pursued freely what he felt. You, Martha Jones, are everything to me… and that's why I am not sure if I should do this." He stepped back, rifling his hands through his hair. "I… I. Rassilon, this is hard. I wanted to do that so often for so long already, and I always deny myself, out of fear…" He wandered around, frustration clear in every move. "I am a Time Lord, Martha. I am 902 – that's early middle age, about some bloke who's 40 among humans. And my family is long-lived too. Barring any accidents, I am going to live up to 13.000 or so, more if my mother fixes my Restoration abilities. All I've ever known with people is loss. And honestly? I don't know how much more I can take." He shook his head. "At the same time, a big part of me wants this," he gestured between them, "so badly he'd tear stars apart for the chance." He smiled painfully. "I'm at war with myself. Remember when John drew you?" She nodded slowly, pulling out the drawing. "The thing that slipped through from me to him in that moment, that was You are so beautiful by Joe Cocker…" He barely suppressed the blush threatening to spread on his face. "I… I just don't know what to do! I'm sorry to bring her up, but it's just the most recent example, Rose promised me a forever and the next day I lost her, and oh, it was a horrible way to lose someone, and… I was blind with grief after that, even dealing with the Racnoss on Christmas didn't help… and then I met you. Brilliant, beautiful, brave Martha Jones. And you proved it to me, so many times, for the person I am right now, you are perfect. I can run with you, not worrying about my back, because you are there, I can be me… and then, when I indulge these thoughts too long, I catch myself at thinking that I am betraying Rose. But, as everyone around me says, I cannot help how I feel. So what am I supposed to do–"
Martha had crossed the distance between them in a flash and kissed him, silencing his worries. "I take it you worry about you not being able to give me a normal life. And I admit freely, the vision you and I had of such a life was more than just tempting…" she stopped, rephrasing, "But if I was put before the choice, I'd rather have lived with you, without all these things… than never having lived with you." She smiled. "Besides, who says that in the future, you won't be able to? Your mother is scavenging historical technicalities to rebuild, so you won't be the Last to put out all these small fires out there. And as long as you have to, I'll help. If you let me."
He reached over and took hold of her hand, lacing his fingers through hers. "I would love to try," he whispered, pulling her into his chest. "Can't promise it will always be safe. but I can promise it will be an adventure."
In the TARDIS kitchen, the ship avatar and the Professor grinned at each other like the cat with the canary. The Time Lady couldn't help it; she drowned her laughter in her teacup. Omnia vincit amor.
1985Brigadier Sir Timothy Latimer, KCB, ret., listened only with half an ear to the female vicar reciting Laurence Binyon's For the Fallen at the Remembrance Ceremony of Llandaff Cathedral, Cardiff, his eyes rather focussed on the old but still pristine watch in his gloved hands. His thoughts turned inwards – his son didn't have had much thought for attending the ceremony (which he could actually understand, given the man had endured World War II as a submarine hunter), and so his eager grandson had taken him, wheelchair included, to the cathedral in the vicinity of his home. But, unlike the last year, he just couldn't seem to focus on the ceremony, as if something was lying in the air…
He looked around, and was actually not exactly surprised to see the Doctor, the Professor and Martha standing on the other side of the courtyard. Martha just finished pinning a red poppy to the Doctor's lapel, wearing one herself, while the Professor had chosen to wear a red poppy-adorned hair tie. He couldn't help it; he smiled at them, then blinked. Don't you dare crying, old boy. Focussing, he sent his invitation out in the ether, and smiled as he received a nod from the two Time Lords.
Grandson? the Professor's voice called him, both from the watch, and the actual source. Her eyes darted to the young man pushing Tim's wheelchair.
Yes. He knows the tale. See you later.