The Chibi's Are Stalking Me, Isis the Sphinx, Jessa L'Rynn, Kathryn Shadow, NewDrWhoFan, Olfactory-Ventriloquism and SilverWolf7 would like to invite you to read and enjoy this conclusion to the joint frolic that is "I Miss My Mind the Most". The good news is that everyone's had a hand in this one.
The bad news is that we don't own Doctor Who... still.
The Epic Epilogue
It took most of the following month, but Jack and the team from Torchwood Three were finally finishing storage of the worldly possessions of Mortimer Prentice. Jackie had decided to keep Diabla with her, as the cat was sweet-natured, harmless, and stupid. Lovey was in a cage on Jack's desk, as Owen still hadn't gotten around to examining her for alien DNA. The Doctor had already agreed that, if she proved to be free of any weird influences, he would set her down on an uninhabited planet well away from any sort of space lanes. However, if her DNA was dangerous, she was Jack's problem.
How that last part had jumped into the plan, Jack wasn't sure. Possibly it was somewhere between Rose's far-too-innocent smile and the Doctor's rant about how cats were nice and all until some scientist had figured out a way to transfer DNA to some species of aliens and made humanoid cats; Jack had tuned him out somewhere after the first five minutes.
Actually, that might be why he hadn't noticed when his keeping of Lovey snuck into the deal.
Lisa wiped a handkerchief across her face. "Ianto is such a lucky bastard," she complained. "He got to sit on his bum planning the wedding while the rest of us did all the dirty work."
"Such a lovely bum, though," Jack said, winking at her outrageously.
"Not the point," she complained, but she did almost smile.
"Sounds like Ianto is sleeping on the couch," Owen commented dryly, stuffing another box of priceless knick knacks up onto a shelf with an audible crunch.
"Ianto can sleep on my couch," Jack offered cheerfully.
"Only if he wants to sleep on your couch for the rest of his life," Lisa replied.
"You can have the bed," Jack wheedled. Then, as if he'd had a brilliant idea, he continued, enthusiastically, "In fact, we can all share. Conserve body heat."
"Bet that'd be the only thing you'd conserve," Gwen muttered darkly.
"I'd save some for you," Jack shot back. "There's plenty of me to go around."
"Don't do it," said the Doctor, entering with the very last box balanced precariously on his shoulder. "Start dividing him up and all the bits would probably grow back a new Jack like a hydra. One is more than enough."
"You're just jealous of my suspenders, Doc," Jack teased.
They'd gotten whatever the issue was between them out of the way earlier in the month, when they'd gone to a gym together and, according to witnesses, thrown each other around it for five and a half hours. After that, they'd come back to the Hub laughing – and slightly intoxicated – and arm in arm like the best of friends. Rose had sobbed and thrown herself into hugging paroxysms with both of them, and then slapped them both. So that was all over now.
The Doctor lowered his box, and handed it off easily to Owen, who collapsed, swearing, under the weight of it. The Doctor walked outside, hands in his pockets, whistling. "How the hell does the skinny bastard do that?" Owen grumbled.
"Don't be mean to the Doctor," Gwen protested. "He's been great help around the Hub. He got rid of that glove and knife, and you remember what he said that could do to someone's head."
"Yeah, some 'Danger to the Crown' he turned out to be," Owen agreed grudgingly.
Lisa smiled out at the Doctor, who was playing hopscotch on the pavement in front of the storage shed. "Oh yeah, right menacing alien threat, he is."
Owen snorted. "I'm a damn sight more terrified of his mother-in-law."
Jack stuck his head back in the storage bay. "Aren't we all," he agreed devoutly. "C'mon boy and girls, time to lock this down and get back to planning for security."
"I don't see why we can't just go to the wedding," Lisa complained. "Why do we have to work, Jack? It's such a small event and there's only a half-dozen civvies on the guest list. Everyone else is with UNIT, for pity's sake. His best man's Sir Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart! He's famous!"
"Yeah, Jack," Owen agreed. "And why aren't you his best man, anyway?"
Jack glanced warily out at the Doctor. "If you must know, it's because he really is a dangerous person. Not in himself, just things follow him. I want to be prepared for anything from jilted ex-lovers – for either of them – all the way up to full-scale invasion fleets. There's no telling what might show up to see the Oncoming Storm properly domesticated. Now can we go? I still have the cat from hell and those Tribble things on my desk, and the wedding's just hours away."
"Not 'til you tell us why you're not best man," Gwen said, teasingly.
"Would you believe they fought over which one of them got me?" he asked cheekily.
"Yeah," said Owen, and then fell into very bad voice impressions. "'You take him!' 'No, you do it!'"
"Very funny," Jack complained.
"You're not leaving 'til you tell us," Lisa told him. "And I have the keys."
"Because the Church of England ordained me in 1897," Jack finally admitted, to the wonder and terror of all. "I'm conducting the ceremony."
Gwen gaped at him and shook her head. "I'm converting to Catholicism," she decided.
Jackie Tyler had to admit that that young Ianto bloke had really outdone himself on the wedding plans, as she walked around the small chapel and smiled. He'd been given such crap instruction from the bride and the groom, and Jackie hadn't felt much like helping at first since she'd firmly believed it to be her prerogative to plan her only child's wedding. It was only that charming Jack reminding her that she couldn't properly enjoy the wedding if she had to oversee every single detail (not to mention listen to her impending alien son-in-law babble) that had finally calmed her down.
Rose's only rules of absolutely no pink and keeping the roses down to a civilized number had been obeyed exquisitely. Presumably, the Doctor's requests had also been honored but, as far as Jackie knew, all the giddy lunatic had clearly stated was that he wanted no pears anywhere near the building or the reception. Honestly, the Doctor seemed unreasonably happy about all of this: as long as he would come out the other side married to Rose Tyler, he seemed willing to put up with anything.
They'd invited Mo and Bev, and Keisha and Shireen were going to be Rose's bridesmaids. A couple of cousins, Rose's gran, and a couple more old friends of Rose's rounded out the bride's side. The Doctor's crowd was just as small. There were fewer people actually attending this wedding, now Jackie thought about it, than had attended hers.
The TARDIS arrived just as Jackie was completing her final inspection, ready to put her stamp of approval on everything. She immediately found something she was not putting her stamp of approval on. Two somethings, in fact.
"No," she said to the Doctor.
He turned around and looked at her. "What is a two letter word meaning 'negation'?" he suggested. Apparently, he'd been watching quiz shows with Rose at the new flat (it was a new flat, since she was now too well off to be allowed space on Council Estates, so she'd had to find one a ffew blocks over. It didn't seem like a problem, really, what with having no plumbing issues and anything that did crop up was the super's problem, not hers.)
"No," she repeated. "No, that blue box is not sitting inside for the wedding, and no, do not even pretend that you are not trying to sneak a pair of trainers into the dressing room to wear with that tux."
"I'd never," the Doctor said indignantly. He turned to Jack, who had come out of the TARDIS behind the Doctor, carrying a box that seemed to contain a random assortment of small objects. "Jack, tell her I would never sneak a pair of trainers into the dressing room."
"Of course he wouldn't, Jackie, don't worry," Jack said charmingly. Then, grinning at the Doctor, he added, "He'd have to sneak at least two pair, in case you found the first."
Jackie shrieked indignantly. The Doctor dropped his garment bag over the back of a chair and ran for his life.
By the time Jackie had given up and come back, she found he'd snuck around her and was leaning against the podium, snogging her daughter. Jackie rolled her eyes. And to think there was a time she'd worried.
She turned around, found the TARDIS still sitting there, and went to tell the groom-to-be to move it before everyone showed up to rehearse. She wasn't explaining the thing, she just wasn't.
"She wants to see everything," Rose protested, while the Doctor obediently went to move the ship back out onto the street. "She can watch through Her monitors, but She says She's worked really hard for this and She wants to see it through." Rose leaned in close and confided, softly, "I think She's afraid he'll manage to break his neck right before the ceremony or something."
"If he tries to wear trainers with that tux, I'll break his neck," Jackie replied.
The Doctor came back inside, dusting his hands off, and accompanied by a regal-looking, slightly portly, older gentleman. Jackie hurried after Rose to be introduced.
She decided not to argue - just for the rehearsal, though, mind - when the ship reappeared again five minutes after Ianto arrived with his ream of notes.
Rose smiled fetchingly at the older gentleman, and the Doctor had to curb a strong desire to return to what he'd been doing before Jackie had ordered him to move the TARDIS, despite his suspicion that it would be futile. Not that kissing Rose would be futile, not even a little, although trying to kiss her in front of Jackie might be. But trying to get the TARDIS to do something when She wanted to do something else? He might as well try to get Jack to behave.
"Pleased to meet you… what should I call you?" asked Rose. "Mr. Lethbridge-Stewart is a bit of a mouthful."
"Call me the Brigadier," he told her with an amused smile. "Most people do."
"The Doctor and the Brigadier? No wonder you're such good friends," Rose said dryly. The Brigadier inclined his head towards her in a mischievous parody of a bow. Jackie hustled up, a picture of indignation.
"Will you please tell him," she demanded of the Brigadier as she gestured at the Doctor, "that he can't wear trainers with a tux at his own wedding?"
"Mum," Rose said exasperatedly. "It is, as you pointed out, his own wedding. Let him wear what he wants." Rose felt the Doctor point out in her head that he wanted to wear his normal suit, but Rose quite firmly, if silently, insisted he wear the tux. "I'm going to have far too much fun peeling you out of it to allow you to not wear it," she thought at him with a few choice images. His protests fell silent.
"I don't care!" Jackie was exclaiming. "It's disrespectful." She turned to the Brigadier. "He's known you for ages. Tell him he can't!"
"I wouldn't presume to tell the Doctor that he can't do something," he said calmly. Jackie stared at him with a face resembling a halibut before storming off.
Lovey stared at the back of the lock that secured her prison. She could reach to turn the dial, but didn't know the combination since the numbers were out of her sight. The infernal hum of all the enticing equipment kept her from hearing the tumblers align.
She'd watched the fuzzy creatures locked up across from her be taken out and put back again several times for tests, and knew their combination. But she didn't know her own, a lamentable fact.
She growled in frustration. One of the fuzzies looked over at her in amicable concern and chirruped a query. This was the first time any of them had expressed anything but hunger. The humans never fed them, she'd noticed, though they fed her regularly.
With hope, Lovey asked the creatures if they'd seen the humans lock her up. The amicable one purred an affirmative. After that, it was merely a matter of obtaining the right leverage to jog the creature's memory, and Lovey already knew the offer of food would get her everywhere.
Promising them freedom and the ability to find all the food they wanted soon had Lovey turning her lock to their directions. It popped open with a satisfying click. A paw batted the door open soundlessly. Although she wasn't a cat of her word, Lovey was a cat who adored chaos. She imagined that releasing the fuzzies would cause the abhorred humans (who had locked her up and talked baby talk at her when feeding her) untold trouble. So she opened their cage before padding off, plotting revenge against the man in the brown suit who'd done this too her.
The creatures she abandoned blinked at freedom in confusion. The one who'd freed them got food frequently, they knew. By silent consensus, they tumbled after her.
The wedding party was gathered around a table that reminded Jack of his meetings at the Hub. He smirked at the table.
"The bride and groom have prepared their own vows, which they've chosen to keep secret from us all until the actual ceremony."
Jackie glared suspiciously at her daughter and the Doctor, fairly certain that this was either a scheme to give her a stroke from nervousness or to make a mockery of the institution. Probably both. Rose ignored her pointed stare, and the Doctor countered it with a cocky grin.
If she were fair, Jackie would admit that she sympathized with the TARDIS' fear that he would manage to botch this up. But she still wasn't letting that thing in the chapel.
She didn't know if it was out of a fear that the Doctor would do a runner, even though everything had already been planned and so well thought out by Ianto, or if it was because it was a box that would just be standing there like an unsightly lump of blue.
Well, she wondered, maybe she could somehow paint the TARDIS pink… then it would be going against the strictly no pink rule Rose had, and it would be left outside for sure.
With all the planning he had put into the wedding, Ianto had decided to let the rest of them slug out the little nuances that were left like, for instance, the trainers or no trainers thing the Doctor and Jackie had going on. Personally, if the Doctor was brave enough to go against Jackie and her rather scary slapping hands, then more power to him, but he should know not to go anywhere near his soon-to-be mother-in-law afterwards.
Stretching in his seat at the table, Jack to his left and Lisa on his right, he felt right at home. He had just planned a small-scale wedding, was sandwiched between two people he decidedly liked, if not loved, and he had met new and wonderfully odd people. Like the Brigadier. For a man getting on in years now, there was something about that man, human though he was, that screamed out 'I will blow you and your army up if you bug me too much'.
Ianto had thought he was retired by now. It was possible he was wrong. All he knew was that the Brigadier was rather friendly with the Doctor. Apparently the two of them had known each other for a long time in both their lifespans.
"Ianto, maybe you should tell Jackie that it's alright for trainers to be wor—"
Rolling his eyes skyward, Ianto covered his ears with his hands. "I refuse to be brought into this silly fight between you and Jackie, Doctor. Go ask Gwen or Tosh. They would know more than me."
The Doctor pouted, though the Time Lord swore he didn't. He really had a thing for those trainers.
Getting up from the chair he was sitting in, Ianto wandered off to see if everything else was in order, for the third time that day. Seeing that all was going smoothly was about the only thing lately that would give him some peace.
"Is it really that bad?" the Doctor asked Rose, after most of the others had left the table to take up their stations for the rehearsal proper.
"No," she replied, hugging him close. "You know my mum. You know how she feels about it. Just… maybe you should try to do something for her."
The Doctor began sulking, which wasn't the best look on him, and it made her want to giggle and kiss the look off his face. So she did. Well, the one good thing to have come out of that house was her and the Doctor's relationship. And Jack and the Doctor being friends again. And the wedding of course. Her wedding. No other wedding could be better than hers. On Earth. Using customs she was at least rather likely to recognize.
She hadn't realized she had been married so many times to the Doctor already.
"Can I watch?" Jack asked, as he came up behind them, leaning slightly on her shoulder and more heavily on the Doctor. She unlocked her lips from her soon-to-be real husband and grinned.
"You'd like that, wouldn't you, Captain Jack?"
"Why yes, yes I would," Jack replied, grinning winningly at her.
"Jack, stop flirting with my bride, please," the Doctor said, before grinning back and winking. "What happened to me?"
Jack kissed him like he had done on Satellite Five, before turning to Rose and doing the same. "Have fun kids. Rehearsal starts in ten. I'll leave you two to it."
With that said, Jack got up and walked, very slowly, out the door. One eye was on them the entire time.
"Well, that's Jack for you," she said, grinning up at the Doctor, who smiled back down at her.
"Yep! Now, ten minutes… where were we?"
Jackie paced back and forth, muttering to herself as she waited for Rose in the bride's room. "Honestly, trainers! Who wears trainers with a suit? Nobody with a brain, that's who! Then that TARDIS of his, wanting to be part of the ceremony; a big blue police box sitting in the middle of the room, that's not gonna cause problems! Now Lovey's out of her cage, an—" She stopped.
Yes, just down the hall, was Lovey, walking calmly across the hallway. As Jackie watched, about a dozen strange, fuzzy puffball things bounced and rolled behind the cat. Lovey paused in the middle of the hall to look at her, and Jackie could have sworn the little hellcat smirked at her before continuing on down the other hall and around the corner.
Jackie stood staring at the spot they'd been a moment ago, before spinning around and running back the way she'd come. "Doctor!"
Keisha and Shireen were left alone in the room, understandably quite lost.
The Doctor and Rose were still mid-snogging session when Jackie came running around the corner, huffing and puffing. Unlike Rose, Jackie was not used to running for her life, or anyone else's. Completely out of breath, Jackie began to gesture and point behind her in a most worried and agitated manner, trying to get the point across without words. This made absolutely no sense to Rose and the Doctor, who just looked at her blankly.
"Mum! Breathe, then talk."
Jackie took a few deep breaths, then, "Lovey's out!"
The Doctor did a double take. "What?"
"You heard me!"
"Did you go daft after that last snog?" she snapped at him. "The rehearsal's s'posed to start any minute, the guests'll be here for the wedding in less than two hours, and Lovey's out! 'The most dangerous cat in the whole universe', as you put it, has escaped!"
Jack almost knocked the podium over, where he stood going over the ceremony instructions. It had been quite some time since he'd heard that particular tone of voice from the Time Lord. In fact, he was fairly certain it hadn't been since his previous regeneration...
His musings were cut short when the Doctor stormed into the room, a breathless Rose and Jackie close on his heels. "Anything I can do for you Doc?" Jack asked, trying to tell himself he wasn't shaking in his boots.
"Why, when I know you were clearly instructed to lock it up, is that devil-cat loose and wandering around this very building?" the Doctor demanded, stopping only inches from Jack's face.
"Lovey?" Jack asked, blinking.
"No," Jackie put in unhelpfully, "the other cat from hell. Of course it's Lovey!"
Ianto and the Brigadier chose that moment to make their appearance, unsurprisingly considering the rehearsal was supposed to be getting underway.
"Ianto," Jack called, hopping down from the podium and evading the Doctor's rather fiery glare. "Take over for me, will you? Seems we've got a bit of a cat problem." He gave Ianto a falsely reassuring pat on the back, ignoring his gobsmacked expression, while summoning the rest of the Torchwood team to his aid.
Jackie nodded to herself as she watched Jack leave, thinking he had the right idea. "Alright," she said, taking Rose's arm and leading her back towards the bride's room. "Now that's sorted, it's time for the rehearsal."
Rose was dragging her feet. She looked back towards the Doctor, asking, "Shouldn't we go and help catch Lovey?"
Before the alien could answer, Jackie rounded on him. "Absolutely not!" she announced, staring the Doctor in the eye, keeping a firm grip on Rose. "Jack's people'll catch the cat. This rehearsal is going as planned. This wedding is going as planned. Any questions?"
"Good!" She stormed out of the room, Rose following close behind.
Lisa and Owen had paired off to search the north half of the building, while Gwen was following Jack through the main hallway on the south side. So far, there had been no indications of the meanacing feline.
"Jack," she whispered, weapon drawn as she peered into another empty room.
"Yeah?" he answered in a whisper of his own.
"I know this cat's a bit of a bother and all," she said, "but do we really need to be this concerned about it?" she said, indicating her firearm.
Jack didn't give any answer, except to pull an extra weapon from his belt and continue the search.
Gwen sighed, but stopped short as she peered into the next room. "Um, Jack?"
"What now?" he asked, but stopped next to her as he, too, took in the sight before them.
The pizzas that had been ordered for the rehearsal-ees before the wedding were arranged on a buffet table, but most of the boxes had already been opened. Huddled inside the boxes that still had food left, were the happily chirruping Tribble things.
"Lovey," Jack muttered, and Gwen could have sworn the word came out as a curse.
Jack holstered his weapons, and dragged the nearest empty covered trash bin over towards the table. "Gimme a hand," he ordered over his shoulder to Gwen, who was still standing in the doorway.
"What're you doing?" she asked.
"Rounding up the Tribbles," he told her, unceremoniously dumping four of the little critters out of their pizza box and into the bin.
"I still don't see what's so terrible about these things," Gwen said as she dumped another three out of a box with half a pizza left. "They were just hungry, and no wonder since you wouldn't let us feed them."
Jack reached into the bin, retrieving the half a pizza that Gwen had dumped in with the furballs. "I have my reasons," he told her with a pointed look as he tossed the pizza into an empty box. "Didn't you ever watch Star Trek?" he asked as he scooped up another handful of aliens.
As they finished with the Tribbles, Jack moved to cover the bin, then stopped. "There were twelve in the cage, right?" he asked, counting the puffballs.
"Yeah," Gwen told him. "We got them all."
"And then some. There are fourteen here," Jack told her.
Lovey was in evil-feline heaven.
She'd known she'd hit the jackpot when the pizzas had been delivered. It was just the thing to get those bothersome fuzzies off her tail, and throw a little extra disruption into the festivities. Now, she was free to roam the building at her leisure, devising the most ingenious way of getting back at the brown-suited humanish man. And, maybe, she could take over the world while she was at it.
Lovey sniffed at an open doorway, detecting the scent of the pink and yellow human, and made her way inside. There before her was a gleaming white dress, all covered in shiny bits and beads and lace.
Jack was getting more and more worried with each step he and Gwen took.
His plan, as far as it went, was to bring the Tribbles to the Doctor, and let him sort them out. Maybe there was a room in the TARDIS where they could hide them.
Unfortunately, exactly as he had feared, the bin was getting heavier and heavier as they went. The Tribbles were multiplying.
"Just like Star Trek," he muttered under his breath as they gave up carrying the bin and set to dragging it along the hallway.
Ianto was just getting to the part about pronouncing them man and wife (Jackie had insisted that they stick with "man" for the sake of Rose's guests), and the Doctor was wondering if he dared snog Rose good and proper in front of her mum when he reached the "kiss the bride" part. It was just a rehearsal, after all.
However, his musings were interrupted by Jack and the rest of his team entering the hall.
"Oh, now what?" demanded Jackie. "Did you get the cat?"
Lisa and Owen shook their heads, looking at Jack. Gwen looked at Jack. The Doctor looked at Jack. "Well?" he asked, just as impatiently as Jackie.
"No, but we've got another problem," Jack answered quickly. "It's the Tribbles," he said, kicking the bin and eliciting a chorus of squeaks from within.
"They're not 'Tribbles'," the Doctor corrected automatically. "I've already told you, they're perare perpetuo." Honestly, how many times did people need to be told?
"Well, they sure are acting like Tribbles," Jack said. The lid to the bin suddenly shuddered, and Jack leaned his weight on it to hold it down.
"You didn't feed them..." the Doctor began.
"No, but they got themselves good and fed anyway," Jack answered.
"Lovey," the Doctor cursed. "Alright, everyone split up and find that cat!" he ordered, moving to step down from in front of Ianto.
However, Jackie was standing in his path in a flash. "Not yet, you don't!" she countermanded. Then, lookining to Ianto she asked, "That's the end, right?"
"Just about," he answered her.
"Alright," she said. "Wedding party exits properly first, then we find the cat."
The Doctor sighed as he followed her directions. Offering Rose his arm, he was at least glad they'd be the first ones out of the hall.
Lovey considered the dress for a further moment, but turned away. That was just too good. It would have to wait. Besides, the chances were that someone would expect her to go for something that big instantly; she would continue to work her destruction, but she would just be a little subtler first.
She padded to the still-cracked door, flicking her tail delicately as she glanced around for a moment to make sure nobody was there. They weren't, and she continued, going along the hall in a sort of lazily speedy lope which would have screamed "suspicious" to anyone who had the misfortune of knowing her (not that any action of hers would not be labeled thus). The closest thing the cat could feel to fear descended over her in a cloud of dark mauve as she passed into an area in which the humanish creature's oddly alien scent unmistakably traced the air, but her fur settled quickly enough that, had anyone been there to see, they would have discounted her alarm as an illusion. It was stale; she was not about to get caught yet. She had merely passed into yet another good place for her revenge to take place, and one that was distinctly less obvious. Shoes, yes; shoes would be a much better place to start. And that pair in the middle of the floor would be absolutely impossible for the creatures to miss.
The fact that they weren't those horrible canvas things her claws got stuck in, but rather a soft, almost deliciously scratchable leather, was just a bonus.
The Doctor managed to maintain the fastest pace he thought would be acceptable to the maternal unit watching his every move until he got out the door. At that very moment, he dropped Rose's arm in favor of her hand and took off running. He was dimly aware, from his companion's rapid backwards glance, that the aforementioned unit had thrown her hands up in a gesture of defeat instead of chasing them down, and a giddy sort of relief went through him. He giggled and then stopped as he caught a deathly chorus of squeaking noises from around the corner.
He skidded, managing to stop awkwardly, and then turned the corner. Quietly. Carefully. He didn't need to scare those things; their sole defense mechanisms were fleeing for their lives and reproduction. He didn't want the first, certainly didn't want the second. A single perare perpetuo could transform into hundreds in a day - less than a day. Especially after a feast such as the devilcat had given them.
"Lovey," he muttered.
Rose, who had found herself situated behind the Doctor, attempted to peer around him. She couldn't see any Tribbles from that angle, couldn't hear the faint noises that attuned her Time Lord to the little creatures' location, but she knew through the connection that pulsed happily between them that they were there. She maneuvered around him, trying to hack into the part of his brain that was cataloguing his senses while trying to ignore the bits about her.
Unfortunately, not having the near-infinite multitasking capabilities of the Doctor's irritatingly efficient brain, she could not do this and walk at the same time. She stumbled a little bit, and at least twenty Tribbles...
They're not Tribbles.
...darted out from their hiding place and scattered in all directions.
Rose cursed imaginatively and ran after them.
Ianto didn't see the cat. He didn't need to.
He had started to follow the general chase, as soon as he had extracted Jackie's permission to do so, but a thought descended on him, a dark, horrible thought filled with terror and sixteen types of evil. And with that thought came a deep shadow of fear that clotted his blood as if someone had injected him with felt. And with that intravenous felt there came the deep knowledge that someone had to save the day and nobody else knew to do it, just as from that knowledge there sprang a little feeling of being very heroic, in his own slightly diffident way.
At any rate, he knew exactly where to find Lovey. And he would be the one to stop her before it was too late.
Jack came into view and instantly regretted it.
The Doctor had Tribbles in his hands and a look of pure murder in his eyes. Rose was running, apparently aimlessly, until she abruptly changed direction for the fifth time and barreled past him in pursuit of a pair of small, brown, furry creatures.
He should have known, really. When the last of the Time Lords - or anyone, for that matter - said his name in that particular way with that particular volume, it didn't mean he should run towards it. It meant he should dart back to his hole under Cardiff and curl, whimpering, under the nearest desk. But he was Jack Harkness and his immortality had taken away such self-preserving instincts and replaced them with the vague, almost distracted interest over what it was that was trying to kill him now.
Unfortunately, the last of the Time Lords did not want to kill him. He knew far worse methods of torture, and they both knew it; and this was what made the immortal truly wish he hadn't come to see what was going on now. He shouldn't have.
"Harkness," growled the Doctor again, "I don't know how or why these creatures got loose, but I'm willing to bet it's all your fault."
He really shouldn't have.
Rose came skidding back around the corner with the little furry creature in her hands and unceremoniously tried to hand it to the Doctor. He gave her a disbelieving look and she turned around, plopping the creature into Jack's grasp instead.
"Damned Tribbles multiplied again before I managed to catch them," she gasped. "There's more over there…"
"They're not Tribbles," explained the Doctor exasperatedly - very patiently, actually, considering the state of his thoughts at the moment. "They're perare perpetuo."
"That's like lupine wavelength whatsits, yeah?" asked Rose. "Means it lives in the blood and is a wolf, yeah?"
The Doctor nodded, albeit reluctantly.
"Which pretty much means werewolf, which it was." She grinned at him and he knew he was going to lose this round. "And perare perpetuo means what?"
"Tribble," said Rose, firmly, and nodded with conviction.
Jack grinned. The Doctor smacked the back of the immortal's head and they all three ran after another tumbling pile of fuzzballs.
"Fan out," ordered the Brigadier, his voice heard everywhere. "Surround them, then herd them to the center of this room. Sergeant Benton?"
John Benton, having just entered the chapel, and long since given up being a Sergeant, nevertheless found himself responding to that voice like the last twenty years hadn't happened. "Sir?"
"Tribbles," the Brigadier explained.
"Yes, sir," said John and joined the team of annoyed looking young people, beginning to point them out to positions in a standard reconnaissance pattern.
Sarah Jane Smith, still trying to decide if she was going to sit on the bride's side or the groom's, kept hold of her young son's hand as they entered the chapel. Almost immediately, she realized that coming early had been a very good idea... or possibly a very, very bad one. She could already hear the Brigadier's authoritative voice ringing out over the crowded room, and knew there was trouble afoot.
She turned to the two additional youngsters who had accompanied her. "Right, Clyde, Maria, you two stay with the Brigadier - that's the man giving orders. Luke and I will go find the Doctor."
"I'm right here," the Doctor shouted from somewhere that sounded like he was under the piano. "Just close the door, don't let them out."
"Them what, Doctor?" asked Sarah Jane.
Something small and fuzzy went tumbling across the room and Rose went chasing after it.
"Tribbles," said Rose.
"So they are," said Sarah Jane, deciding then and there that she had, in fact, finally seen everything.
Shireen and Keisha had been sent out by Jack to collect a quick takeaway for everyone to replace the lost pizzas. Ianto had disappeared, apparently to handle some last minute arrangements. Everyone else had spread out as the Brigadier ordered, Jack laughing heartily about this as he found himself following before he even thought.
Such was the authority and presence of the man that only the Doctor seemed to be able to do anything but exactly what the Brigadier said immediately when he said it. This time, though, even the Doctor wasn't trying to do otherwise. They had every Tribble in the building crowding slowly into the center of the main hall of the chapel.
There wasn't a way for them to escape from the circle around them, which included Torchwood, two UNIT officers, a handful of children, the legendary Sarah Jane Smith, Bride, Groom, and an infuriated Jackie Tyler.
The Doctor had the sonic screwdriver out and was scanning to make sure they'd gotten them all. The pile was getting larger by the second and Jack was worried. "Well, Doc?" he asked.
"That's the lot," the Doctor said.
"Fine, but what do we do with them?"
The TARDIS materialized right into the center of the circle, then dematerialized. There were no Tribbles left in the circle, just a spot of bare flooring.
"Did you do that?" Jackie demanded in astonishment.
"No," said the Doctor. "Oh, you clever Girl!"
Rose laughed. "She took 'em, then?"
"Yep," the Doctor replied. "Probably has them in a storage room until we can drop them home."
Jack grinned. "Fantastic!"
Rose bounced on her toes and hugged him, then proceeded to hug her way around the circle, including the children, whom she hadn't even formally met yet. Jack smiled after her, trying to remember what exactly it was that still had the small hairs on the back of his neck standing up. Everything seemed fine, but there was something he couldn't remember.
The TARDIS rematerialized in Her usual corner. Jackie shrieked in fury and stormed up to the box, but stopped and laughed herself silly halfway there. Covered in decorations and huge banners that read, "Just Married," the TARDIS stood there and flashed Her light innocently at them.
From the doorway, there came another shriek. "Did that box just... appear?" Shireen demanded.
"Don't be silly," Rose said, distractingly. "How can anything just appear somewhere? C'mon, what'd you get, I'm starved."
They were all seated at a table, chattering and laughing and sharing introductions, passing the takeaway cartons around when Lisa suddenly asked, "Where's Ianto?"
Rose looked around and the Doctor exclaimed, "Lovey!"
"My DRESS!" Rose wailed, and dashed towards the bride's changing room.
Ianto Jones looked like he had been through a war. Rose's dress was hanging from a light fixture in the ceiling. The train was missing and the hem frayed. Rose was swearing incoherently and shrieking blue murder.
The Doctor looked the dress over carefully. Except that the dress was now floor length instead of likely to trail after Rose for a good half-mile, the damage had been minimized by the quick thinking young man. It looked like it had cost Ianto dearly. His usually immaculate suit coat was covered in black and white cat fur. His hands were bleeding from numerous scratches, and his trousers had been shredded in several places.
"Right," said the Doctor, "Ianto Jones, I owe you a trip to anywhere or anywhen in Universe you want to go. You are brilliant, and you saved the day."
"We still have to catch the cat, sir," Ianto said, softly.
"We'll handle that," the Doctor promised gently. "Jack, Dr. Harper, I'd like you to get the hero of the hour fixed up - the Med Bay should be fine for that. And the wardrobe should have a replacement for his suit."
"My dress," Rose whimpered, looking at the hem of her gown in dismay.
The Doctor soothed her with a gentle thought that she would look just as lovely to him in a bin bag. Or nothing at all, he wasn't going to be fussy. She still glowered a bit, but the glower softened when he took her hand and patted it comfortingly.
When Jackie turned up and wailed over the train of the dress, too, though, the Doctor turned the sonic screwdriver onto setting 6888 (hems hems) and fixed the now shorter gown with a few flicks. It seemed to appease his mother-in-law (or would-be mother-in-law, if they could ever round up this damn cat and get on with this. He could hardly wait to be married to Rose. Forever. Her forever, anyway, and that was going to be the most wonderful time of his life.)
"Right," the Doctor said, rounding on everyone present. "Catch that cat. Oh, and Brigadier?"
"Try not to shoot her."
Only the Brigadier heard the Doctor grumble, as he walked by, "You don't have to try too hard, though."
"She mauled my shoes!" the Doctor yelped. "She..." He sputtered and then swore, rapidly and colorfully, in so many languages that even Rose had trouble keeping up.
"It's all right," she gentled him.
"She mauled my shoes, Rose!" he yelped indignantly. "I found them, I was going to wear them, they're bad and hideous and all sorts of other uncomfortable things, but Jackie said I had to wear them, wouldn't take no for an answer. Might think she didn't even know the word, your mum, but she uses it on me all the time. So I said 'I should wear trainers' and she said, 'no, you have got to wear proper shoes,' and I didn't want to, but I was gonna do it anyway and what happens? That CAT!"
"Just shut up and wear your trainers," the woman snapped.
The Doctor, holding a well-destroyed black dress shoe between his two fingers blinked at her mum in astonishment. "Really?" he asked, and a slow grin spread over his face.
"Yes, really," said a thoroughly defeated and exasperated Jackie Tyler. "Just wear your trainers with your tux, stand up there, say your lines, and marry my daughter before the world comes to an end or something!"
"Brilliant," the Doctor announced brightly.
"We still have to catch Lovey," Rose reminded him.
He nodded and then sniffed. "Right. Catching the cat. Allons-y."
Lovey hissed and backed into the corner. They couldn't understand her, of course, this crowd of people who had chased her everywhere and finally herded her into a room where she could no longer escape. However, that didn't stop her from promising to dismember them all. She devoutly assured them that she was going to murder them all in their beds when a sudden, strange sensation overtook her.
Her already puffed out tail grew three sizes as every single hair on her small furry body stood on end.
"I'm going to put you in the freezer," Jack told the hissing, spitting, screeching cat they had finally managed to back into a corner. "I just want you to know that I'm putting you there and I am NEVER going to defrost you. At the end of eternity, it'll be just you and me and that freezer, and I promise you, I'll still gloat."
"Jack," the Doctor cautioned.
"What?" he grumbled. She'd actually managed to kill him. Ran around his legs and tangled him up so much that he'd fallen into the power box. A cat had killed him. The indignity of it was enough that he was sorely tempted to just pull out his revolver and off her and who gave a damn what anyone thought.
Every hair on the back of his neck stood up. Jack shook it off. He knew that sensation meant something, but it didn't matter. The cat mattered. He was going to rid the world of the terrible influence of Lovey the Hell-spawned Devil Cat. He stepped forward.
"Jack!" the Doctor shouted, and snagged his arm.
There was a sudden, vivid light. Everyone in the crowd who had cornered the cat yelped.
"The Rift!" Tosh shouted. "Jack, it..."
"...took the cat," Jack realized, gloomily, as he looked at the empty place where Lovey had been.
Rose and the Doctor looked at each other in horror.
"Bet she comes back with an army," the Doctor said, sounding quite worried.
Rose shook her head. "Bet she becomes a nun."
The Doctor groaned. "That would explain so much."
"But we'll want to do our vows," Rose complained.
"You can do them at the reception," Jackie insisted.
"But..." the Doctor objected.
"No, seriously, Doc," Jack agreed. "Just... repeat after me for the ceremony, all right?"
"Why?" the couple demanded together.
"Because if we give you even five seconds for anything else to go wrong," said Jackie, "the whole bloody world will explode or something an' we're not having it. You're getting married, and you're doing it right now."
"Yes, Mum," they both said.
Jackie beamed and patted them both on their cheeks. Then, as if it was an after thought, she added, "Oh, and Jack and the Brigadier both have shoot-to-kill orders if anyone objects."
"Isn't that going a bit too far?" Rose asked, faintly.
In answer, Jackie just glowered and hustled her off to change.
Radiant on her mother's arm, Rose Tyler walked up the aisle as quickly as she could get away with it. From the podium, Jack smiled down at her. And before the podium, eyes dark and bright and beautiful, the Doctor waited, a smile on his face, his feet and hands twitching, his love for her brilliantly displayed for all the world to see.
Jack was talking, but Rose didn't care. Her mother lifted her veil and settled it around her, and handed her off to the Doctor.
"Who gives this woman to be married to this man?" Jack asked.
Her mother, smiling like she'd always meant for this to happen, for them to end up here and like this, announced proudly, "I do."
The ceremony went on and then Jack came to the section for objections. Rose didn't expect anything at all, not really, even though her nightmares for the past month had had everything from the Emperor of the Daleks to future versions of the Doctor turning up at this point. Everyone in the know heaved a sigh of relief when Jack went on to the next part after hardly pausing for breath.
She said, "I Do," proudly, and the Doctor said it with tears in his eyes. He smiled through his tears and waggled his eyebrows over, "in sickness and in health," as his mind added, "and regenerations," silently. Rose teared up, too, when she promised, "'til death do us part."
They were in love and they belonged together. Forever had its time, just like everything else.
When Jack declared them man and wife, her mother lead the applause. And when Jack ordered the Doctor to kiss his bride, he complied without hesitation, kissing her like she was life itself.
The TARDIS-forged link between them flared dramatically to life, swirling time and memories and hopes and dreams all through the pair of them. It tilted, shifted, and then the ancient Time-ship stepped out. Between them, though, the link remained.
When they separated at last from the kiss, they were married in the eyes of her world and by the laws of his eldritch race, lost forever to time and surviving only in him. And maybe, someday, in their children.
Jack beamed his most compelling smile at the crowd. He introduced them the first time by their married name - silly thing, really, but they had to have it for the Earth documentation, so they were Dr. and Mrs. Tyler-Smith.
Rose shook her head as the recessional played. She was Rose Tyler and he was the Doctor and they were married, for real, at last, and for keeps.
And that? That was fantastic.
"I didn't plan to make a speech," the Doctor said. "But everyone knows a lack of a plan has never stopped me."
"Not to mention you love to hear yourself talk," Jack and the Brigadier both said, dryly. The two men looked at each other and laughed like old friends.
"And that," the Doctor agreed, wryly. "Since circumstances worked out this way," he continued, "Rose and I had planned to give our own vows in the ceremony, but a couple of things happened. Well, I say a couple. I mean a few. Well, actually, it was more... fifty things, and a cat."
"Especially the cat," Rose agreed.
The guests who hadn't been present for the cat looked confused. The rest just laughed. It was funny, now, but only now. Now that it was over.
The Doctor took Rose's hand and they stood side by side. "I will love you for the rest of my life," the Doctor told her.
"And I will love you forever," she answered, her tongue poking out through her grin.
The Doctor was tempted to just forget the rest of this and go somewhere to consummate this marriage. Several consummations, actually. That seemed to be a good idea. Just in case.
Still, they had actually practiced this. They knew what they were doing and, really, it needed to be done.
"Whether that's ninety years," he continued.
"Or nine hundred." Her eyes were sparkling and she looked like temptation in soft white lace.
"No matter what you look like," they continued together.
"Big ears or big hair," she said with a wink.
"Young or old," he added, though oddly, in his mind's eye, he could only see her looking exactly as she did today. Maybe that was because they had bound their time lines together and he could no longer see her future, or maybe it was because he would always see this precious girl in his wife no matter what Time did to her.
"No matter what happens between us," their joint vow continued.
"Running for our lives," she said happily.
"Domestics," he complained cheerfully.
"I am yours and you are mine," they both continued.
"From the moment you took my hand," Rose told him.
"Until even Time itself is gone," the Doctor concluded.
The crowd applauded for them as their lips met in a tender, vow-sealing kiss. Jackie brushed tears out of her eyes even as she complained vigorously that those were the most ridiculous vows she'd ever heard.
After that, there was cake with edible ball-bearings, and some lawyers with money, and signing some papers with Jack, and quite a few photographs. And then there was managing to escape the shower of bird seed and bubbles only by running for the TARDIS instead of the limo Ianto had arranged for them. They opened the doors and turned to wave their farewells, and She dumped a great cloud of seeds and soap bubbles down on them anyway.
Rose tossed her bouquet over her shoulder and it exploded into a shower of smaller ribbon-wrapped bundles of flowers. Jackie, Sarah Jane, Keisha, Gwen, and Tosh all ended up with one. Shireen pointedly ignored the one that had landed at her feet. Maria, Sarah Jane's friend, snatched it up, and then had to explain the whole thing to Luke.
The Doctor snatched Rose up and carried her inside. While she giggled and squealed and demanded to be put down, he kicked the door closed behind them.
"They've got to come out of there sooner or later," Shireen said, staring at the blue box, obviously firmly believing that right up until the second a great wind went whipping across the room.
Jack shook his head and sent Owen after the ret-con.
They stood hand in hand on the lawn in front of the house where all this had finally worked itself out.
"S'not a great house," Rose said softly. "Not really."
"No," the Doctor agreed. "But it makes a great story."
Rose laughed. "So, honeymoon?" she asked.
"Barcelona?" he offered. "Not the..."
"City!" they both exclaimed. "The planet!"
Hand in hand, where they had always belonged, Rose Tyler and the Doctor returned to their home and to the stars.
The house stood by itself against the Welsh moorland. It had stood for thirty years, and might stand for thirty more... Might. Inside, everything was rubbish, but could possibly be fixed by someone with vast resources, a lot of money, and all the time in the world.
And none who left there left alone.