Disclaimer: I don't own the Tenth Doctor, Martha Jones or the Brigadier; they all belong to the BBC (Although I hear the Brigadier belongs to specific creators due to his original status as a one-shot character, but that's not really relevant right now…). Also, this story is inspired by DutchLady's FANTASTIC Doctor/Martha story "Colourblind", and is written with her permission
Feedback: Much appreciated
As he sat reflectively in his armchair, sipping at a glass of tea as he read a book, his wife currently on holiday and his telephone quiet for the last few days, the last thing former Brigadier Sir Alistair Gordon Lethbridge Stewart had expected to hear was a ringing at the door; most of his old UNIT contacts were currently occupied with training missions- the curse of being the first of something was that you always ended up being asked for assistance by the new ones later on- and there hadn't been any real news of anything potentially requiring UNIT's assistance anywhere in the news for the last week or so.
As a result, when the doorbell did start ringing, for a moment he thought that he was only imagining it; it took a good few seconds for him to recognise that it was genuinely ringing.
"All right," he said, sighing as he put down his book and stood up to walk towards the door, picking up his walking-stick as he did so (His hip had never really been the same since that mess with the Cybermen a couple of years ago; he'd strained it a bit when getting away from one of their patrols and it had never quite gone back to what it was).
Opening the door, the Brigadier was briefly surprised to see a young man standing on the other side dressed in a blue pinstripe suit and a long brown coat, only for the surprise to end when the man grabbed his hand and began to shake it enthusiastically
"Brigadier!" the man smiled, grinning broadly at the man before him. "Brilliant to see you!"
The Brigadier didn't even need to think about it; even without the memory of this man's face being plastered all over the news as a 'wanted terrorist' almost a year ago, there was only one man who could be this enthusiastic about meeting him when he'd never seen the man before in his life.
"Well, where else would I be these days, Doctor?" he asked, shaking his head with an amused smile as he stepped aside to allow his old friend into the house. "Has all been a bit quiet since that incident with the Titanic- which I assume you had something to do with, by the way?"
"Oh yeah, Martha and I dropped in during a test-drive and ended up having to stop the old owner destroying Earth to collect on the insurance; long story going nowhere," the Doctor said, shrugging casually as he smiled over at his old friend.
"Ah," the Brigadier said, nodding in understanding as he turned around towards the kitchen, picking up his now-empty cup of tea as he moved back towards the kitchen. "How's the new body working out?"
"Brilliantly, thanks," the Doctor replied, following him into the kitchen as the Brigadier fetched an extra cup from the cupboard and began to heat up the tea again. "Wasn't sure about it at first- hair wasn't ginger and the personality seemed a bit rude- but I've gotten used to it; if nothing else I've got a lot more hair than the previous model."
"Ah," the Brigadier said, trying to restrain the slight smile at the thought of a short-haired Doctor as he passed his old friend the newly-filled cup of tea; he'd spent so much time with Doctors who always seemed to have at least a good few inches of hair around their heads- that short fellow with the umbrella being the shortest-haired model he'd ever met- that the idea of a short-haired Doctor seemed almost contradictory. "And… 'Martha' would be your current companion, I presume?"
"Actually, she's my fiancé," the Doctor replied casually.
If the Brigadier hadn't grown used to surprising news during his time in UNIT- starting from the moment he'd started to believe that the strange man with thick white hair was the same man as the short comedian who'd helped him during the Yeti business and working its way up to that mess with the Fourth Reich that had ended with him coming face-to-face with Adolf Hitler himself before the man shot himself-, he was confident he would have dropped the cup he now held in his hand.
"Your fiancé?" he repeated, turning around to look at the Doctor incredulously.
"Yeah, I know; brilliant, isn't it?" the Doctor replied, grinning casually back at his old friend. "She's a medical student in her last year; helped me deal with a Judoon platoon upon the moon- I love that phrase; it just sounds brilliant, don't you think?-, accompanied me back for a run-in with a bunch of witches using Shakespeare to open a portal, ended up becoming a full-time passenger fairly soon after, and then…"
He shrugged helplessly. "What can I say; a few months alone with each other and she caught both hearts before I even knew it."
"I see…" the Brigadier said, nodding slightly as he took in what he'd just heard- the Doctor getting married?- before he looked at his old friend once again, a silent expression of reflection on his face as he studied his former scientific advisor.
It was actually rather fascinating, really; he'd met at least seven other Doctors on a long-term basis by this point- his encounters with the old man he'd seen during that 'Game of Rassilon' affair had always been rather brief-, and he liked to think he'd had the pleasure of seeing all of them at their best- even if that one in the green velvet coat hadn't even known who he was when he first met the poor chap in that asylum, he'd improved significantly after he'd got his memories back-, but this was the first time he'd seen the Doctor look this…
Relaxed, he supposed was the best term.
Oh, he'd seen the Doctor at rest, of course- he'd spent enough time with the one in the frilly shirt and thick white hair alone to see the Doctor when he didn't have to worry about stopping Earth's latest threat, to say nothing of later encounters such as the aftermath of that incident with the Destroyer or that whole mess in Los Angeles-, but this was the first time he could recall seeing the Doctor looking so…
Calm, he supposed was the best term.
Every other time he'd met the Doctor, no matter how much the Doctor might have been grateful for time off from having to save the world- or the universe, depending on the scale of the crisis-, there'd always been a certain… edginess about him, the Doctor seemingly uncomfortable with sitting still long enough to spend even a couple of days in one place when he didn't have to; the one he'd met during the first Auton invasion had spent practically all his time fiddling with something while he was trying to escape his exile, and that hadn't changed much even after he'd regained control of the TARDIS.
But this Doctor… he actually looked comfortable with himself for once.
Whoever this young woman was, the Brigadier already liked her; anyone capable of helping the Doctor feel that comfortable staying on a single planet for any length of time was someone he unquestionably wanted to meet.
"I'm happy for you, Doctor," he said at last, smiling at his old friend. "Shall I assume you came to invite me to the wedding?"
"Well, actually, it was a bit more than that…" the Doctor said, scratching the back of his neck in a manner the Brigadier recognised from the frilly-shirted Doctor he'd worked with in the seventies all those years ago. "I was actually wondering if… well, if you'd care to be the best man?"
The Brigadier's eyes widened at that.
"Doctor…" he began.
"Yeah, I know it's short notice and all that," the Doctor said, shrugging apologetically. "But… well, I've known you for practically all my lives- my last one's the only one you haven't met as far as I know-, you've always been there for me when I needed you- and I like to think I've done the same-, you helped me out when I needed to set up a life on Earth-"
"Doctor," the Brigadier cut in, shaking his head in amusement- this new incarnation was certainly one of the most talkative Doctors he'd ever met- before he nodded, hoping that his old friend could see the gratitude in his eyes. "I would be… honoured… to be your best man."
"Really?" the Doctor said, another broad grin crossing his face as he looked back at the Brigadier. "Brilliant!"
A coupe of days later found the Brigadier driving up to the hotel listed on his invitation as the location for the reception and the rehearsal dinner, his eyes almost instantly falling on the three figures standing at the hotel's main entrance. The young man standing there was swiftly recognisable as the current Doctor, now dressed in a tuxedo, his arm draped around the shoulders of an attractive dark-skinned woman in a deep purple dress and an older woman with weathered features standing slightly behind them in a gold-coloured dress, the similarities between her and the young woman next to the Doctor making it clear that she was the younger woman's mother.
The Doctor's mother-in-law…
The Brigadier couldn't restrain a slight chuckle at that thought; he wondered how the woman in question was coping with the knowledge that her future son-in-law was at least a good few centuries- he wasn't entirely certain which incarnation of his old friend this was, although he was willing to bet that it was one of the later ones- older than she was.
As he pulled up in front of the hotel, tossing his keys to the man in the hotel uniform who came out to take the car, he smiled at his old friend.
"Nice place you've got here, Doctor," he said, nodding at the building behind them.
"Well, what else was I going to do with my accounts?" the Doctor asked, shrugging nonchalantly. "Investing them in nonsensical ventures doesn't seem to work; did I ever tell you about the time I invested in a time-travelling restaurant and ended up owning the place?"
"You what?" the young woman beside him asked, turning to look at the Doctor with a broad grin and a sparkle in her eyes that displayed such an intensity of love for the man beside her that any further questions the Brigadier had about this young woman were instantly put aside.
However this relationship had happened, he could be sure of one thing; the woman before him truly did love the Doctor, quirks, absent-mindedness, alien heritage and all.
"Weeeell, it's a long story and the restaurant ended up getting destroyed after the founder of a religion tried to use it to escape his own death; it was all a long time ago," the Doctor said, his own eyes making the warmth and compassion he felt for the young woman beside him plain to see as he looked back at his old friend. "Anyway, getting back to the important stuff, Martha, this is Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart; pretty much the only man alive to have known at least eight of me; Brigadier, this is Martha Jones, my fiancé, and Francine Jones, my…"
He grinned slightly as he looked over at the older woman, who returned his enthusiastic grin with a resigned one of her own. "…my mother-in-law."
"Actually, I'd consider it nine of you, Doctor; aren't you forgetting the old man during that 'Death Zone' business?" the Brigadier pointed out, smiling slightly at his old friend before he took the hand of the young woman before him and shook it warmly. "Pleasure to meet you, Miss Jones; your fiancé's been unable to shut up about you."
"Trust me, he's mentioned you a few times too," Martha replied, smiling back at him.
"Yes; pleasure to meet you, Mr Lethbridge-Stewart," Mrs Jones added, shaking his hand herself- the Brigadier didn't bother to correct her about his title; he'd never felt entirely comfortable with being referred to as Sir- before the sound of something beeping in her pocket prompted her to pull out a pager, shaking her head as she glanced at it. "Sorry, there seems to be something wrong with the centrepiece; the staff want us to take a look at it-"
"Wrong with the centrepiece?" the Doctor repeated, turning to look at Mrs Jones incredulously as she turned around to walk back into the hotel. "Hold on a minute; I had that set up…"
As the Doctor hastily hurried after Mrs Jones, the Brigadier turned back to look at Martha.
"Dare I ask?" he asked her curiously.
"He picked up a few flowers from some planet called Florana for the centrepiece," Martha said casually, shaking her head slightly as she looked after the Doctor's retreating form. "He's been going on about how to keep them in good condition for ages; keeps assuring me that he's going to make sure they're perfect for the real thing…"
She shrugged briefly as she looked back at the Brigadier. "Is he always this… keen on things?"
"The Doctor tends to be keen on a lot of things, Miss Jones; the second one of him I met had a great fondness for vintage cars, and a later model had a certain enthusiasm for cricket," the Brigadier said, before he took a couple of steps forward to stand more directly in front of her, smiling reassuringly at her. "However, I can tell you this with absolute certainty; as he said, I've seen him with at least nine different faces and nine drastically different personalities… and I've never seen him as happy as he was when he first told me about you."
"Really?" Martha said, looking up at him with an almost apprehensive look (The Brigadier recalled the Doctor mentioning when he'd asked him for more information about Martha that it had taken some time for their relationship to start because he was getting over the loss of his previous companion; he wondered if that could have something to do with this).
"Miss Jones," the Brigadier said, smiling warmly at the young woman who'd made the most emotionally-awkward man he'd ever known happier than he'd ever seen him, placing a reassuring hand on her shoulder as he did so, "I think I can safely say that I cannot think of a single moment when I have seen the Doctor- any Doctor- look happier than this one was when he told me that he was marrying you."
For a moment, the young woman simply smiled at him, then she reached up and gave him a brief hug.
"Thanks," she said, stepping back to smile at him again, her eyes sparkling with pleasure and joy.
"Any time, my dear," the Brigadier replied, nodding briefly at the young woman who had captured the hearts of his oldest friend and comrade, before he indicated the hotel behind them and offered her his arm. "Well, are there any further guests you need to wait for, Miss Jones, or shall we rejoin that fiancé of yours and see about that centrepiece?"
"It would be my pleasure, kind sir," Martha replied, taking the offered arm as they turned around to walk into the hotel.
One thing was for certain, the Brigadier thought as he walked into the building before him; whatever else would happen in the Doctor's future, he would no longer face it alone.
He would have Martha Jones in his life, and the Brigadier had little doubt that his old friend had never been happier than he was when he knew that he would have the young woman beside him for the rest of... well, for a long time, anyway.