Hearts

Chapter 8

It was a quiet, late morning in September. Jack was paying Janice his weekly visit, supposedly to hear about her latest dreams, but really to check in on her to make sure she was all right.

They were sitting outside enjoying the last few warm days before fall set in properly, and drinking the bitter black tea Janice was so fond of.

The wheezing sound of the TARDIS cut through the morning quiet. With a flash of light, a shed materialized on the other end of the garden. Janice and Jack stared at the shed, stared at each other, and leapt to their feet simultaneously.

Being the faster runner, Jack got there first, just as Kate was poking her head out of the TARDIS. He swept her up into his arms, twirling her around as they both laughed with joy. When Kate was more than a bit dizzy he finally set he set her down, planting a solid kiss of her forehead.

Before she could regain her balance Janice embraced her, and for nearly a minute mother and daughter clung to each other, silent tears streaming down both their faces.

"Oh my little girl, I thought I would never see you again."

"I'm home, Mom. After all these years I'm finally home."

Janice tensed and stepped back form her daughter. "Years? Kate, love, you've only been gone three months."

Her eyes widened as she took in the young woman standing before her. The Kate who had left was hardly thirteen; this one was at least twenty. She would never have her mother's easy beauty, but the intelligence in her expression more than made up for any plainness of looks. She had grown taller, not as tall as her mother, but at least a good five foot four inches. She had filled out properly, still lean, but there were curves now where a woman was supposed to have curves. She wore he hair longer held back in a foxtail bob, no longer the flowing mane of her childhood, nor the short curls of her preteen years. Her face was the most changed; it had grown thinner, her nose sharper, her freckles gone. A thin white scar from some long ago injury cut across her neck. Her eyes were steadier, and even a bit sadder.

She wore a heavy coat that rather resembled a female version of Jack's, if a bit more form fitting. Her shirt was an uncomplicated white tank top, her pants simple brown cargo, with countless pockets. Her boots were heavy, knee length black leather, well scuffed. Not something her thirteen-year-old self would have ever worn.

The nervous fidgeting of her earlier years was gone, a calm intensity replacing it.

"How long?" Janice asked weakly.

"Eight years."

Janice let out a slow breath. "We've lost so much."

"I'm sorry Mom. I tried so hard to find my way back. It just never worked until today. Please believe me-I'm still Kate, just a bit older."

Janice hugged her daughter again, "I know love, it's all just a bit of a shock. I'm sure I'll get used to it."

"You're crying again."

"It's just the thought of you all on your own for so long. My poor little girl."

"I was on my own for a long time. But not for all of it. I met people along the way, and two years ago I finally found someone who would travel with me."

As if on cue, a petite pony-tailed blond girl, glanced out from behind the TARDIS door.

"Is this really earth?"

"Yeah Jenny, it finally is. I even got the time period right this time, no dinosaurs."

Jack stared at the girl flabbergasted. She smelled like the Doctor. Not like a relative of the Doctor's but exactly like him, except female.

"Doctor? Did you regenerate as a girl?"

The girl brightened up, giving him a dazzling smile that made his heart skip a beat. "No, he's my Dad. Do you know him?"

"I used to travel with him. Er…wait, how do you even exist? You can't be his daughter, you smell exactly like him. You are the Doctor."

Jenny rolled her big brown eyes. "I was made from extrapolating his DNA. It's a long story, trust me."

She strode past Jack to Janice, "Hello Ms. Caylan. I'm Jenny. I've been traveling with your daughter for the past year. Kate's told me a lot about you."

Janice could not seem to decide what to make of the chipper blond but accepted the offered hand and shook it.

"Did you help Kate get home?"

Jenny made a thoughtful expression. "Well she figured out the coordinates and how to fly the TARDIS, but I pushed some buttons for her. Does that count?"

Janice smiled, "it means your welcome in my home. Now I really need a cup of tea. Why don't we all go back to the house? I think I have some biscuits in the cupboard."

A half hour later they were all settled around the living room, Kate and Jenny on the couch, Jack in one easy chair, Janice in the other. There was something about the way the girls sat together, shoulders touching that suggested to Jack that they were a bit more than traveling companions. He wondered if Janice noticed, but she seemed a bit too caught up with getting her daughter back to be thinking about anything else.

Kate accepted a cup of tea from her mother and sipped at the dark liquid with a degree of reverence.

"Earl grey doesn't exist anywhere else in the universe you know. There's a rough equivalent to almost every other human food out there, but not earl grey."

Jenny took a sip of hers and made a face, "no wonder, this stuff is bitter as peat." Kate deftly plucked several sugar cubes up off the tray and dropped them into Jenny's tea. There was clearly no concept of personal space between those two.

"Have it with sugar, that should help."

"hmm, that is better."

Jack cleared his throat. "Now that we're settled. Kate, what happened after you left? How did you finally manage to get home?"

Kate set down her cup. "I hardly know where to start. I guess the beginning is as good a place as any. When I initially ran I just jammed in random coordinates. I ended up on an uninhabited planet. I've never been able to figure out it's name, I think it might actually be undiscovered.

"It was rather like an earth forest, except with purple trees, at least in the part where I landed. There was enough fruit in the trees, that I didn't starve, which was good since I was stuck there six months.

"It took me a while to figure it out, but the journey had drained the TARDIS's fuel cells. I had been able to wake it up, but it was still healing and recharging. It wasn't ready for the journey I took it on.

"I spent my time studying the books on time travel in the TARDIS library trying to figure out how to get back to earth once the fuel cells regenerated. When there was enough power I tried jumping back to earth.

"That's when I figured out the navigational equipment was terribly damaged. I never did manage to fix it. I eventually had to give up and build a whole new set, but that was years in the future.

"After the second jump I found myself on a highly advanced planet inhabited by a humanoid species. It was a bit like New York if you could picture it a thousand years in the future, but more seedy and alien. I nearly starved my first week there. Eventually I figured out how to forge the local digital currency chip they used."

"You stole?" Janice looked mildly horrified.

Kate didn't meet her eyes. "I was hungry. It was the safest way to get money. It didn't hurt anyone."

"She survived. That's what matters," Jack reminded Janice. "She was thirteen year old girl from a different planet and time period. She couldn't exactly get a job."

"At least not the sort I would want to do," added Kate quietly. She had wrapped her arms around herself. Jenny put an arm around her reassuringly and Kate kept talking.

"I didn't like that city. As soon as the TARDIS regenerated enough for another jump after four months I went. I didn't care where I ended up as long as it wasn't dark and filled with the smell of smog and rot.

"I ended up on a nice planet that time, occupied by a race of blue fox like creatures, sentient if rather laid back. They were content to live in the forest, and never build cities. I made some good friends. I liked that planet. There were beautiful oceans too the loveliest pink color, with silver fish. I stayed there for a long time as I tried again to repair the TARDIS.

Eventually I realized that I needed more books and training than what I could find in the TARDIS. I managed to create a set of navigational equipment just good enough to get me to a nearby-industrialized planet. From there I traveled on a commercial transport to a library planet where I hope to learn more about time travel and Time Lords. I'd gotten good at forging currency by then, so money wasn't a problem."

Janice looked rather perplexed. "How did you fit the TARDIS on a transport, it's awfully bulky."

The half Time Lord grinned. "Oh that was the easy part. You see size is all rather relative with a TARDIS. I shrunk it down to the size of a trunk, with wheels on it in fact. It was easy to take with me then. I traveled the slow way when I could, less chance of ending up on the other side of the galaxy unintentionally."

"I learned what I could at the library, did more repairs, and tried another jump. Of course I failed. The next seven years were basically like that. I'd travel somewhere that I thought I could learn more about the TARDIS, study, make repairs, jump, and end up somewhere completely random. I'd find a way to live in the new place, probably get caught up with something that was going on, and then start the process of trying to get home all over again."

She slumped forward slightly, "Each time I tried to transport home I was so sure. I had so much hope, but every time I opened that door it was to an alien world."

"I'd actually given up when I met Jenny. She convinced me to keep trying. I guess she was right, because here I am. I can still hardly believe it."

Jack's phone chose this dramatic and meaningful moment to go off. "Jack we've got a herd of neon pink flying fish coming through the rift," blared Owen over the ear bud, so loud that everyone in the room could hear it.

Jack smiled apologetically and stood. "I've got to run. Sounds like my team needs their fearless leader."

"I'll come by the hub tomorrow. It'll be good to see everyone again."

"I'll give them all a heads up about your return and miraculous transformation into an adult. I'm sure Gwen will feel the need to acquire a cake or something."

Kate grinned, "I'd forgotten all about cake."

Jack returned her grin and the dashed out the door as Owen yelled over the headphones again demanding to know what was keeping Jack.

When Kate arrived at the hub with Jenny in tow each member of Torchwood greeted her in his or her own way; Gwen with warm hug and a peck on each cheek, Ianto with a rare smile, Tosh with a reassuring touch on the arm. Owen being his usual awkward self, tried to simply say hello, Kate laughed and pulled him in for a quick hug.

"I missed you two gecko boy."

"Good to see you're as annoying as ever, kid."

"I'm hardly a kid anymore."

"Not much taller though."

"Touché."

Ianto waved a pastry-stained knife at them. "If you're done with the sarcastic banter there is cake"

It was in fact a quiet nice chocolate cake, with "Welcome Home" written on it in pink frosting, obviously Gwen's doing. The team gathered around the couch to eat. Jenny poked at the cake uncertainly at first, but after one bite began to ravenously devour it.

"Have you never had cake before?" asked Jack in mild amusement offering her a third slice. Kate intercepted the plate, plucking it from his hands and putting it back on the table before Jenny could take it.

"No she hasn't. She's also got the self-control of a two year old; so don't give her any more. She'll make herself sick."

Jenny shot Kate a pouty look. "Hey I'm at least three years old earth time!"

Jenny's protest earned her some very odd looks from the entire Torchwood team and some coughs.

"And I'm now feeling like a pedophile for thinking she was cute," commented Owen dryly.

Tosh adjusted her glasses, "Jack explained to us you were the Doctor's daughter, via some sort of DNA extrapolation, but how can you be three years old? You look eighteen."

"Oh, that's easy. I was created as an adult, this size, able to speak, full knowledge of military protocols, how to fight, everything."

Kate put an affectionate arm around the blonds shoulder. "So she can brush her own teeth, or fight off a battalion, but she doesn't have much life experience yet. No comprehension of social norms or common sense for that matter. I guess they couldn't figure out a way to program those into a gene extrapolator."

"I understand social norms just fine." From the level expression the two girls were sharing this was clearly an old, and rather fun argument.

"Only when I explain them to you. Remember on Nocalian Five when you left the TARDIS in nothing but your knickers"

"It was hot."

"You scandalized the locals and nearly got us arrested."

"How was I supposed to know they'd object?"

"If you had any concept of modesty you would have."

"I'm still not convinced this modesty thing you talk about is real."

Jack held up his hand, "I'd agree with that point."

Ianto poked him in the ribs with his elbow. "You understand modesty sir, you just chose to ignore it."

"No arguing with that," laughed Gwen.

Tosh chose this moment to try and redirect the conversation towards a less potentially awkward direction. "So how did the two of you meet? I mean what are the chances of two of the only Time Lords in existence running across each other?"

"Surprisingly good actually." Kate's face had suddenly gone nearly as red as her hair. Jennt could not suppress her giggles. Kate rolled her eyes at her and continued. "Do you all remember when I hit puberty and almost got eaten by weevils because of the psychic signal I was sending out?"

There was a nod of heads around the room. "er well turns out another Time Lord can pick up that signal from as far away as half a galaxy and can follow it with impressive accuracy."

"Ah, and I get the impression the whole going into heat thing is a lot more dramatic is there's another Time Lord around" Jack asked.

"You could say that." Kate appeared to be sinking into her seat, half dead from embarrassment. Jenny just shook her head in amusement. Having a complete lack of modesty proved an effective protection against mortification.

Owen snorted, "nymphomaniac teenage Time Lord girls. Sounds like a porno." He did not manage to duck the pillow that was thrown by an indignant Kate, or the following swat by Gwen, and then additional pillow chucked by Tosh.

"What is a porno?" asked Jenny clearly perplexed.

"I'm sure we could find you an example on Owen's computer," joked Jack.

Gwen gave him a warning glare. "Something surprisingly boring, of which we are not going to speak any more of." Gwen's tone left no room for argument. The girls had been corrupted enough for one day as far as she was concerned. Jenny looked confused, but shrugged and let it slide. Life was full of mysteries


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