Title: In My Unique Position
A DW/TW drabble series
Author: Nancy Brown
Spoilers: Nu!Who up through CoE, Eleven companion casting spoiler
Warnings: contemplation of self-harm
Characters: Alice, Jenny, Jack, other canon characters
Author's Note: Because Astrogirl wanted something to read when she got home. Expanded from the original drabble "Family Tradition".
Summary: Every Timelord needs a companion.
It is the hundredth day, after, when she sits alone by his grave, the sleeping pills her doctor insisted on hidden in her hand. Her world is drowned in tears, and Alice cannot tread water any longer.
A shadow crosses her. The woman is young and blonde and impossibly new. "I've been searching for you. Come on, then."
"I can't," she starts, doesn't continue.
"There's nothing holding you here now."
Alice does not argue, drops the pills. "Who are you?" she asks, as they walk together out of Alice's life and into a new one.
"You can call me Jenny."
Jenny's ship has a faulty time travel circuit. Alice was never one much for electronics, but she figures she's bright enough, and if she blows them both to hell by accident, so be it.
Jenny says they are starting a mad adventure. She will say that a lot.
Alice comes to wonder if it counts as a death wish for someone like her new friend, someone who cannot die. The next thought will come to her often as well, but she will push it away and under and behind her. She will not let him enter her sympathy. Not ever.
The first time Alice sets the controls by herself, they wind up in the middle of the Crusades. She remembers her father's stories about his days with the Time Agency, the rules about not interfering that he and his friends broke regularly.
Still, she and Jenny have no intention of mucking up history. They pose as cousins, seeing the medieval world and staying out of trouble until they discover the boatload of children about to be sold into slavery. Then the ship's master learns a hard and important, if brief, lesson on the perils of underestimating two woman traveling alone.
Jenny is a sea of contradictions. She speaks, almost by rote, about "finding a peaceful solution" to every problem, but they have yet to come across any alien weapon which she does not instinctively know how to use with deadly accuracy. She is young and old, impulsively brave and terrified of items as basic as toothbrushes, with a wicked sense of humour and absolutely no knowledge about the most basic human interactions.
Alice follows in her wake as much out of curiosity as anything else, waiting, though she never says so out loud, for Jenny to leave her behind too.
It would figure that if anyone was idiotic enough to punch a hole between universes, it would have to be some variation on the prats at Torchwood. Alice finds that she likes the Japanese woman most. The Welsh fellow seems sweet, but something about him bothers her until she realizes why. Their doctor is equal parts smarm and brilliance. The woman who leads them all worries Alice the most: her eyes are dead.
None of them have ever heard the name Captain Jack Harkness, and that suits Alice just fine as they fix the hole and send them all back.
New Earth is rebuilding from a cataclysm they don't discuss. The war between rival factions wanting to take charge is coming to a head. Jenny is withdrawn, serious, and spends her hours negotiating a truce that she does not believe will hold.
Alice finds herself drawn elsewhere, to the shrine built to the memory of the being who kept all the New Earth citizens alive during their long darkness beneath the city. The one called Novice Hame is on her deathbed when Alice is brought to her, but she smiles in greeting and recognition.
"He said you would come back."
When they rescue the survivors of the doomed starship, one of the crew asks to come with them when they return the rest home. Daff is barely twenty, and never pays attention to orders like "Stay here" or "Don't touch that red button." They spend more times than Alice likes saving him from his own silliness.
But he's funny and he's kind, and it's nice to have another person to bounce off of occasionally. He learns how to translate certain alien tongues, and then Daff is invaluable. Needed, even.
After a while, it's the three of them, a perfect team.
The band of colonists have lost their leader, and Daff says he is tired of traveling. He hugs them both goodbye and stays.
Alice wouldn't use the word "love" to describe what she felt for him, so why does her heart break a little as their ship leaves orbit, knowing she will never see him again?
"It will always be this way," Jenny says in her old voice. "We always lose people." Alice does not know which "we" she means.
"I can't lose you, too," Alice says.
"You won't." Alice supposes that, for their first lie, it's not so bad.
He's wearing a bowtie and a new face when they run into him during a minor revolt on a seventy-second century colony world. Jenny recognizes him instantly and flings herself into his delighted arms. The pretty --- and so young! --- redhead with him watches, confused. Alice has to turn away as the two Timelords explain their complicated relationship.
"I've seen him," the Doctor tells her, after they've pulled out an impossible or at least unlikely victory for humanity. Something tells her this happens around the Doctor quite a lot. "He's not well."
"Good." There is no room in her to forgive.
Alice doesn't want to be on Earth in this era ever again, but here they are stranded in Ealing, having tea while Jenny fusses over a tin dog. Alice tries not to reveal too much, but Sarah Jane's eyes tell her that she's seen through far more stories than Alice could ever spin. Alice confesses everything.
The supercomputer in the attic helps them make repairs to the ship, and Alice is grateful, but she insists on leaving as soon as possible. Her soul turns to ashes each time she sees Luke with his mother, and the burning will not end.
John is the first man she's slept with in years, and it's so good, Alice can't remember it being this amazing with any other guy. They've been together three days when he calls her the wrong name at really the wrong time, and she knows it's a common first name, but she also knows. He swears he didn't know, but John Hart is a terrible liar.
She showers for two hours after they've kicked him off the ship by gunpoint. Jenny brings her a towel and tea and silent company, and she is the best friend Alice will ever have.
On fifteen planets, they are worshipped as avenging goddesses. Thirty three worlds across the galaxy have two incongruously English names for infant females born in the time after their visits. There are legends of the light and dark warrior queens spoken in dozens of tongues.
All this, and Alice will always be most amused by that fellow they save from the Reavers while Jenny, off her head on absinthe, tells him about alternate universes, Gallifreyan temporal theory, and the improbable use of space inside a TARDIS.
Dodgson, also drunk, declares that together, the two of them make the perfect girl.
A thousand years in the future, on a park bench in Cardiff, she finds him. He's begun to age, she can see it now at last, but he has miles beyond measure to go before he saves one last planet with his ultimate death.
"I can't remember his name," Dad says, eventually. "I promised, and I forgot." She knows who he means, saw the man a few years ago, by her reckoning, in a timeline her father cannot touch.
It is still too soon, and she cannot offer him forgiveness, not yet. Kindness, though, she can spare him this once.
Geoff is handsome, daring, and almost as good with a gun as Jenny. For the first time since they started out together, someone else rescues the two of them from a threat they've misjudged, and he looks even better when splattered in someone else's gore. Alice doesn't go for his type, but there's a "well-muscled hero" exception to every rule.
She can't help but find it strange. The rules have changed.
Stranger still, when she catches the two of them kissing, and she hurries back to her own bunk unseen, she's sure it's not Jenny that she's jealous of.
"It's a fixed point in time," Jenny says. "You can't change it."
Alice doesn't care about monsters coming through time and eating the world, not if it means she has the chance to change everything. She has always known she would do this.
As she stays hidden, watching the worst day of her life unfold again, she remembers all the lives she's saved, all the children who will grow up because of who she is now. Suddenly he is there beside her, so terribly ancient, watching himself too, knowing this is how it had to be.
She takes his hand.
The Senate is empty but for the four of them and the long dead bodies. Novice Hame takes Jenny by the arm and leads her off, making an excuse about showing her something. Jenny is wise enough not to argue.
"Everything ends," he says.
"He is coming at last." If she could read joy on the strange face, she knows she would.
Alice cannot reach him through the jar, instead places her hand against it. "Love you."
He whispers the secret nickname he called her as a little girl, and she is loved, loved longer than time itself.
The beginning and end of time. Star clusters bursting with newness. Waterfalls made of solid diamond. Daleks. Cat people. Ghosts. Fairies. Gods. There's no end to the odd and wonderful things they've seen as the years pass, marked only in laugh lines around Alice's eyes and the very first grey hairs on Jenny's brow.
Alice thinks it must get boring at some point, but it never does. She never wants to stop. Jenny just gives her that smile, and flips the circuit to random.
"Are you ready?"
"Always," Alice says, and they're off to dance together among the stars again.