The Child Is Father To The Man

The Child Is Father To The Man

A Fanfic by Jennifer

The summer night was soft, not overly hot, not overly humid. The army base was no longer a place for planning war, no, not this night, but for celebrating peace. England had suffered bombing, air war, countless civilian and military casualties...but had, in the end, known, as its Prime Minister had put it, its "finest hour." She had helped to drive back the tide of Nazi tyranny and stood, once more, with its allies at the summit of the world's respect, and the people milling about the base on that warm summer night bubbled with the joy of victory and patriotism as they milled into the base's large communal hall. The sounds of tuning instruments could be heard...occasionally a trumpet or clarinet would blast out a riff from "Swing, Swing, Swing" or "Take The A Train."

In all the excitement, no one noticed the whirr of the small blue box that had materialized out of nowhere, or the silver-haired gentleman who stepped out of it to survey the scene before him with a smile. "1945...and Benny Goodman and his orchestra here to help the populace enjoy the peace," he called back over his shoulder. "Ready yet, Jo?"

"Just allow me another minute, Doctor," a sweet voice answered. "You did say that pillbox hats were in style around now, didn't you?"

"Yes, Jo...I'll just have a little stroll around while you're finishing up," the Doctor answered. He felt so much freer now that his Tardis was able to travel, and pleased with the idea of showing Jo this particular period in his beloved England's history.

He breathed in the scents of the summer night and smiled at the sounds of tuning instruments. He had with him, as souvenirs, some recordings of the "swing revival" of the late twentieth century...the Cherry Poppin' Daddies and the Brian Setzer Orchestra and the like. Jo had fallen in love with them and nary a night went by that he didn't hear the sounds of "Zoot Suit Riot" or "Mr. Pinstripe Suit" from her room. Pleased that she was moving toward "real" music and away from "that noisy rubbish" as he'd often put it, he offered to take her to the heyday of "original" swing music. Benny Goodman was here on this Royal Army base tonight, on one of his world tours, a talent to rival that of Glenn Miller, so sadly lost during the war.

He cleared his throat and tried a few steps. Slow, slow, quick-quick. Slow, slow, quick-quick...Swing, swing, swing, swing, da-da-da-da-da-da-da… No, he hadn't lost his touch. Or his step. Wait until Jo saw...he'd show her the meaning of the word "dance"! Not that he'd monopolize her long. Not with handsome soldiers aplenty to claim the pleasure of a dance.

"STOP THAT CAVORTING, AND STAND AT ATTENTION, SOL-DIER!!!"

The Doctor, startled, whirled about to come face to face with the small person who had produced that huge shout.

Immediately, he laughed. It wasn't so much that the little boy--four or five, he'd surmise--was so small to be barking army commands, or that he'd shouted so loud...it was the look of utter seriousness on the little round face. The little boy wasn't just playing army...he apparently believed in it to the nth degree. As much as he believed in the mock-army uniform he was wearing...a perfect replica in miniature of a Royal Army uniform, right down to a few medals carved out of silver-painted cardboard. The uniform was slightly worn in places, bespeaking that this boy had surveyed his troops many times. To the boy, however, it was obvious that this was a perfect, shining, authentic uniform, and that the medals were not cardboard but real brass and silver, given for deeds of inestimable heroism.

"Well, now, Commander," the Doctor chuckled, "going to finish the job on what's left of the Nazis tonight?" He

reached to tousle the boy's unkempt mop of dark brown hair.

The boy drew back, scowling threateningly. Apparently, no one tousled the hair of a hero of the British Royal Army.

"I said, stand at attention, soldier," he ordered imperiously. "Is this how the world's finest army acts? You expect

we'll give Jerry a thrashing if soldiers can't follow orders?"

The Doctor decided not to remind the child that Jerry had already been thrashed. He stood at attention briefly to

appease the boy.

"I'm sure that Jerry will be beaten soundly with commanders like you at the helm," he said solemnly. "Now, you're

not lost, are you? Let's see if we can find your mum and dad."

"I'm not lost," the boy replied fiercely. "I'm looking for German spies. And my father's a general and he won the

war."

"Singlehandedly, I'm sure," the Doctor smiled, noting the look of pure pride on the boy's face at these last words.

"Yes," the child answered, briefly forgetting military demeanor in a rush of enthusiasm, "and he would have shot

Hitler himself if he'd had the chance. And he says that we may have won, but we still ought to be careful that some

old Nazis don't sneak around our country and try anything funny. You know, to get back at us." He scowled.

"You're not a spy, are you?"

"Suppose I was," the Doctor laughed. "You think I'd tell you just like that?"

The child apparently failed to see the humor. In a flash, the military bearing was back.

"You certainly would tell me," he said threateningly. "You'd tell me anything. I'm wearing this uniform and that

means I'm in the Royal Army, and that means you have to do whatever I say. And I think you're a spy. And you'd

better come with me so I can take you to prison!"

The "spy" was starting to lose his patience. It had been rather cute a moment ago, but the boy was taking this just a

mite too seriously. And if there was one thing he disliked, it was being ordered around…especially by a

whippersnapper who, at his age, would be in diapers if he were back on Gallifrey.

"Now, look here, young man," he stated, "I am not a spy, I am not going to go with you to prison, and wearing that

uniform does not make you the boss of anyone. Especially me. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go fetch my

friend, so cheerio."

He turned around…and suddenly felt a sharp poke in the back. The boy had picked up a nearby stick; apparently, in

his hands, it was a bayonetted rifle.

"You…come…with…me…spy," he hissed, eyes narrowed. "No one disobeys a British Army commander. And I'm

going to defend this island. And my father's going to have you hanged!"

The Doctor glared at his "captor", hardly a third his size.

"Your father, I'm sure," he answered, "will be more concerned with tanning your hide than hanging me!"

"I'll have you shot at dawn!"

"And I," a voice boomed from behind them, "am inclined to agree with your friend there, young man!"

Both turned around to face a tall, handsome man in general's uniform. The Doctor smiled in relief, but something

felt a little odd. Something was familiar about the gentleman.

"Son," the man intoned sternly, "shame on you! Talking like that to a guest. I've taught you better manners than

that! Now, I may have talked about stray spies, but I certainly don't think this man is one."

The boy immediately relaxed. Apparently, if General Dad said so, it was so.

"Sorry, Dad," he said.

"It's the nice man you should say that to." And a twinkle appeared in the father's eye. "That's an order from your

commanding officer."

The boy smiled up at the Doctor. He was a handsome lad, and would no doubt be charming whenever he wasn't

exercising command.

"Sorry, sir," he said. "I guess you're not a spy. Pass, friend."

"I will," the Doctor laughed, good temper restored. He grinned at the father. "Must keep you in line."

"He certainly does," the general laughed. "My wife made him that uniform this past Halloween and we can't get him

to stop wearing it."

"A good soldier's always ready to fight," the boy said. "You told me that, Dad."

"So I did," the father answered, ruffling the boy's hair (apparently this gesture was allowed from his idol). "And you

are a good soldier, son." His sternness had relaxed into fondness. "Hope you'll enjoy yourself tonight, sir." He

started toward the base.

The boy lingered behind to snap a salute at the Doctor, which the Doctor returned. But suddenly the Time Lord felt

his jaw drop as the father called back,

"Come along, Alastair!"

Jo couldn't understand, when she caught up with the Doctor, why he was standing there open-mouthed like an idiot.

At least not until he explained.

Nor could the Brigadier understand, upon their return, why the Doctor took one look at him and started laughing so hard he was virtually incoherent for the next three days.

Okay…so anyone who didn't see it coming, raise your hand. And if you don't know the tune "Swing Swing Swing"…it's that tune that you hear in the Chips Ahoy commercials. It's also prominent in the movie "Swing Kids".

All in all, a lighter look at our beloved Brig's childhood than "When The Tigers Broke Free."