It wasn't that Violet didn't remember Owen Harper. He was a terminal git and he was hard to forget, no matter how hard one tried. It was that he remembered her. He shouldn't have—they hadn't met yet. She'd been living in a tiny one-room efficiency above a pub for nearly a year waiting for the Doctor to remember where he'd dropped her—without a ship, she might add, and come back for her. With her luck he'd have been aiming for a week after he'd left her and Greg, and would end up a decade later.
But she had time to kill. All of eternity, apparently. So she'd spent her time avoiding Torchwood and Jack, so as to not muddle time lines any more than they already had been, putting out minor fires of an alien nature and generally piddled her life away on a bar stool, never quite finding the right amount of alcohol to get herself drunk.
It was 2008. He wouldn't recognise her for…maybe another three years. Her head was a little fuzzy, so she wasn't quite remembering when last they met (or would meet). Maybe she was finally getting enough booze into her system.
"So where's your bloody nursemaid?" he asked snidely, hopping onto the red-covered stool beside her.
Tossing back another shot, she slammed down the glass. "Fuck you, Owen Harper. You shouldn't even know me yet." But when she glanced over at him, she wasn't so sure. He looked as she remembered him. Certainly he'd have been a few years younger, without the hardness around the eyes being quite so pronounced. How many had she thrown back? She needed to find out what brand this was, and how many shots she'd had. Because her mind was royally muddled. Time sense gone straight to hell.
He nodded in something resembling contentment. He would be prick enough to take pleasure in her pain. "And just how drunk are you?"
"Not drunk enough."
Ordering a drink, he leaned against the dark wood bar, regarding her with something akin to scientific fascination. She was glad she was so fucking interesting. "It's only been about four months since I had the pleasure of making your acquaintance. I think I'd remember someone as cheerful as you. Like the new digs, by the way. PVC. It's very in, this season."
Violet looked down at her jacket. A swirling cosmic blue, some crazy cross between a motor cycle jacket and…a bowling ball.
It was then that she caught a glimpse of the hair hanging over her shoulder. Blonde. "Shit," she whispered, sliding further down the bar to look at herself in the mirror. Everything was a little hazy right now, but she'd remember regenerating, right? And why the hell would Owen recognise her, if she had?
On the other side of the glass, past the half-filled bottles of booze and a touch-screen cash register, she saw herself. The self that she remembered. But with shorter blonde hair and dark brown eyes. She turned back to Owen. "What year is--" she clutched onto the bar. The world had started swimming the moment she'd tried to gauge her relative location in space-time. "It?" she finished, after taking a deep breath.
What had she done this morning? How much drinking does one have to do, to end up short two feet of hair, sporting coloured contacts and wearing a jacket that wouldn't be in style for another five hundred years?
Rubbing her head, she blinked, trying to figure it out. What was the last thing she remembered, really? Before Owen coming up to her. How much trouble could she possibly get into, without a TARDIS?
The world flew out of focus and she tried to sit down. She didn't plant herself firmly on the stool however, and slid off, crashing to the floor in a loud display. She remembered being in her room, staring at the dirty grey wood on the floor, waiting for him to come. Him who?
It was someone important. It was about Greg.
Owen grabbed her arm and hauled her to her feet. "I think you've had enough."
Trying to focus, Violet licked her lips, looking around at the people watching her. "I have to talk to Jack. I think I made a deal with the devil."
They weren't even out of the TARDIS yet, and Rose had already taken a baby wipe to Branden's face. Twice. "Where are you finding more dirt?" she asked in frustration, readjusting the weight of the infant in her arms. "Better yet, why are you putting it in your mouth?"
Branden shrugged. "Tastes funny."
Rom sighed, leaning against the ship door like it was a burden to have to wait any longer. "If it tasted funny the first time you did it, did you didn't think it would taste funny the second time you did it?"
His younger brother looked away. "It was different dirt. It was from the bottom of the console."
The baby in Rose's arms let out a little huff of indignation. "You know, you burped yourself this morning." And he'd been all proud of himself, too, as if he were the most advanced creature in the universe, simply due to his ability to rid his own tummy of excess air bubbles.
"He wants you to do it," Branden informed her as he grabbed one of the railings, swinging himself back and forth. "He likes it when you make his back rumbly and pound on it good."
It figured it was something like that. Her smart little boy Arten could burp himself but he liked it when mummy helped better. She listened when the boys told her these things, though. They were rather good at picking up on the little one's moods and desires, and even though it was technically cheating, she'd take any insight into the mind of a cranky child, psychic or otherwise.
Rubbing the baby's back, Rose gestured to the bag on the jump chair. "Rom, grab that for me. I'm all out of hands."
The boy clomped off, as if she'd asked him to push a boulder up a hill. Another day in the life.
Free hand still engaged in trying to make Arten burp, she used her heel to pull Branden away from the railing near the console. "PLEASE don't get dirty again. This is the first time we're meeting your grandmother, and you want to make a good first impression." Rose had NO IDEA why this was important, but it was—terribly so.
Looking around, she searched for the last member of the party. Sighing, she tried to decide which one to send. Rom already had the bag, he'd give her a hard time about 'doing everything,' but Branden would get lost along the way, or distracted by something shiny or cute. "Rom, give the bag to your brother and go get the Doctor. Tell him he can watch the tiny TARDISes later."
She found it about as interesting as watching paint dry. He thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. He'd spend the next hundred years watching them grow, checking the monitors and talking to them, if she let him. They had the growth and development of people who could actually talk back to worry about instead.
As she suspected he would, Rom put on 'the face,' as he stomped off, the one that let her know in no uncertain terms that this was a huge burden and that life was fantastically unfair. Oh well, it was a lesson they'd better learn early.
The baby grunted but refused to burp, almost as an act of stubbornness. It was the second-coming of Violet, and they'd better get some help before this one started walking. It had taken four adults to keep Violet in line, and even then she'd end up with her knees scraped up and something living in her pocket.
A minute and a half later, she was still patting the baby's back when the Doctor and Rom appeared in the console room. "You could have at least shaved," she informed him. This was not going to go well. She just knew it. How could it possibly go well? This was THEM.
Stopping her incessant back patting, she handed him a wipe. "And get the dirt off of your face. What were you DOING down there?"
"Eating dirt," Branden said pointedly, as if he'd been denied some great opportunity.
The frown of indignation the Doctor gave the boy could kill. "I wasn't eating dirt." And he said it as if eating dirt had never ever crossed his mind. Too bad Rose knew better. Branden already put everything in his mouth, he didn't need to learn from the shining example of the Doctor's oral fixation. Maybe if she killed him, his next incarnation would be less inclined to see instilling bad habits in small children as a hobby of sorts.
Rose sighed. It was just dirt? What was the fascination?
Violet had an enthrallment with mud pies and everything filthy, but still…sometimes she missed having a girl. They could…be girls together. Paint nails, dress in pink…
Oh well. As if she didn't have her hands full enough with this lot….now Rom was growling like a dinosaur and making Branden screech as he was chased by the boy, who was dragging the bag of baby things behind him. Of course, the Doctor was scratching his chin, like the display was some kind of experiment and he should be taking notes instead of stopping them.
It was time to set everyone straight. Rose slapped the baby's back, and he let out the belch of the damned. "If my mother thinks we're anything other than happy, nice, calm people, I will cause you all to regenerate where you stand."
The boys stopped in their tracks and the Doctor dropped his hand to his side. They looked at her, trying to judge the seriousness of her reaction. Was this a 'no cake' type threat, where they had cake anyway, or would she really kill them all?
She glared at each of them in turn. "I'm serious. I do NOT want my mother going on about how I'm raising savages." Then she grinned and the Doctor looked at her as if she were mad. "Now. Lets have fun."
Shaking his head, the Doctor walked past her and opened the TARDIS door. "I'd say you're as mad as she is, but you'd just hit me again," he muttered, holding the door for Rom and Branden, who shot out into the sunlight as if they'd never seen it before.
Before Rose could make a smart remark about him having already said it, Arten sighed, almost apologetically, and threw up rancid milk all over her shoulder.
She'd remind him of this, when he was older. In front of his first girlfriend, maybe.
Violet had passed out in Owen's car and didn't wake until he was looking her over at the Hub. She knocked his hand out of the way to get the pen light out of her eyes then rubbed her face, sitting in the most uncoordinated fashion. "Stop it."
When she tried to stand up, she very nearly ended up face-first on the floor again, which could have been seen as somewhat fitting. "Just settle down," he told her as he tried to force her back into a sitting position on the examination table. Granted most of his patients were dead when they were on this slab, but he worked with what he had.
She looked at him, trying to focus, and it took her a full ten seconds to recognise him. Interesting. "Wait. No. I can't be here. What year is it? It's only 2008, so I can't--" It was like they were having this moment of realisation for the first time.
Jack helped him sit her back down. "Hey, kiddo. Calm down. It's a little bit later than that, so you're ok. No time lines exploding or anything like that. What's the last thing you remember?"
Her hand twisted around the material of Jack's shirt as she thought about it. "I was…I don't know. I was by the water. It was sunset… no. I was drinking. There was a man…" she slumped against him, unconscious again.
Owen looked to his boss for an explanation.
Jack let the woman slide gently back onto the table. "Ok. I think I know what's happened to her. But I have to try this one more time, to be sure." He slapped her cheek gently. "Violet. Vi—can you wake up, kiddo?"
She opened her eyes again and she slowly focused on Jack, then tried to sit up. "Violet, take it easy. You're at Torchwood. What's the last thing you remember?"
"Captain Jack?" She had no memory of the last five minutes. "You can't be here…I can't be here… I have to go…"
He held her down until she stopped struggling. "You're not going anywhere. You're fine, everything's fine. The time lines are fine. Just relax a minute." Fortunately she did seem to settle enough that he could take a step back to speak to Owen. "She's had her memory wiped. No telling how long she's lost. And she's going to keep losing it until she stops trying to remember."
Owen didn't take his eyes off of her. She was asleep again, lying on her side with a look of consternation tugging at her thin lips and creasing at her eyes. "What?"
Jack gave a sad nod in her direction. "I've got some pretty good experience with this. First hand, you could say. Standard Time Agency memory wipe, done by the book. Take an hour, or a day, preserve the time line, keep the locals from figuring things out when they interfere… But it looks like they took too much. Usually a good night's sleep will fix it, like with Retcon. But if they take too much…say, a couple of years… it can take WEEKS to come out of it. You just keep kind of…wandering around in your old life, like a zombie, and every time you start thinking about it or something reminds you of it, it's like hitting the reboot button. You're right back where you started."
Folding his arms across his chest, Owen pondered the problem at hand. "Well, then whatever she's involved in, it's Torchwood territory now. Right before she completely lost it, she said she needed to talk to you, that she was afraid she'd made a deal with the devil."
Shifting slightly, Jack tried not to show his agitation. "I don't want to jump to conclusions. She doesn't remember what she did—it could have been anything. She might have never gotten around to doing what she's afraid she did, she might have done something a thousand times worse. I guess what I'm saying is…we need to keep all possibilities in mind. But a girl with no time ship doesn't end up with a wardrobe like that without…assistance."
It wasn't just the swirling blue jacket that gave that away…the boots had a slightly green crackle effect in the leather, which was typical for the hide of an animal not found on Earth, but became very popular at some point in Earth's near-future. The jeans were a close-cut fit with some give in the joints and the shirt sticking out from under the jacket was an oversized muslin in a large weave that lacked that mass-produced touch, probably from about five hundred years in the past. Whatever she'd been up to, she'd been well-travelled.
Running a hand through his hair, he let out a deep breath. It figured, the Doctor wouldn't be in this universe at the moment to help him sort this. If it involved the Time Agency it could be very serious. "Alright. We need to figure out what she was up to. At least we need to figure out how long she's been wandering around in her old life. Find her other half—he can probably tell us how long she's been out of circulation, of course, that stuff is relative with time travel… but someone had to have noticed she was gone."
Nodding, Owen pulled out his phone. "I guess that means we need to get everybody in here."
"Pretty much. The sooner we start playing damage control, the sooner we can go beat her memories out of some jackass field agent with more ambition than brains." They might have thought they had something special with a Time Lord under their control. But you didn't mess with Jack's friends. You got a shitstorm levelled upon you, if you did that.