A/N: Thank you to all of you who have read and responded these last few months! Your comments have kept me going!
FIFTY-FIVE YEARS LATER
Alanna stood at the edge of the cemetery, an umbrella protecting her from the misty rain. It had been six months since her father died, and in those months, Alanna knew that her mother visited the cemetery every day. She sighed as she looked across and saw the frail form of Susan kneel in front of Alan's headstone. Since Alanna's aging joints were complaining about the damp weather, she knew it couldn't possibly be good for her mother to be out in it either.
Susan absently ran a hand through her silver wavy hair, ignoring the rain falling around her. She knelt down and patted the headstone absently. She thought back to the day he died, which still came back fresh to her mind as if it had been yesterday. She ran her hands along Alan's name, then reached up and wiped away a tear.
She used her cane to stand up as straight as her aged form would allow, which wasn't very. 'Alan, there's no one I would've preferred spending my life with than you. You made it worth taking the slow path.'
As Alanna saw Susan stand up, she walked over to her. She gently put a hand on Susan's shoulder. 'Mum, you really shouldn't be out in this weather. It's not good for you.'
Susan looked over at Alanna and frowned. 'Nonsense, Alanna, this is fine weather.' She looked at her daughter and saw through her words. 'You just think I'm too old to be out here.'
Alanna sighed. 'All right, fine, yes, I do. Is it wrong for me to think that way? You are 98 years old, and it is not fit for anyone to be out in this mess, much less you.'
Susan held up her cane and shook it slightly at Alanna 'You insist on looking at things from a strictly human perspective. Remember your heritage, it's not that simple. I may be a lot of things young lady, but I am still your mother, and I am more than capable of looking after myself.'
'Right, whatever you say, Mum.' Alanna gently turned Susan away from Alan's grave towards the waiting car. 'Let's get you home, all right?'
It was Susan's turn to sigh. 'Fine.'
The ride back to the house was silent, but as they pulled into the drive, Alanna didn't get out of the car. Susan continued to stare out the window. Finally, Alanna turned to Susan. 'Mum, I know you miss him. I do too. Just cause you're half alien doesn't mean that you don't have the same emotions humans do.'
'He stood by me through so much, Alanna, I don't think you could ever understand what it was like, especially right at the beginning. He put up with more than anyone else would've done.'
'What are you going to do now?' Alanna asked.
Susan turned to her, a smile on her face. 'Ah ha, the truth now.'
'What?' Alanna turned away from her mother. 'Must you always use your telepathy?'
'Just because you choose to ignore it doesn't change the fact that it's there.' Susan reached out and took Alanna's hand in hers. 'You feel that I'm not technically tied to Earth any more, so you want to know what I'm going to do.'
Alanna frowned. 'Can you blame me? I just lost my father, I don't want to lose my mother too.'
Susan reached out and took Alanna's hand. 'You're not going to lose me, sweetheart. In all likelihood, I'll outlive you. Besides, I wouldn't do anything stupid that would put my life at risk.'
'You mean like Grandma or Grandpa and their reckless lifestyle?'
'It's their choice. Oh they have their bright shining moments. Travelling the Universe, trying desperately to stay out trouble.' Susan frowned. 'Speaking of, have you heard from them lately?'
Alanna just shook her head. 'Nope. The two of them worry me sometimes, but it's so hard to follow because they're not living life in a straight line.'
'The joys of time travel,' Susan said with a smile. 'They left forty years ago, pop back for something important or for a quick visit. I have no idea how long it's been since they left. Mum didn't look much older last time I saw her.'
'It confuses me,' Alanna admitted. 'I can't keep it straight.'
'And I think they enjoy keeping you on your toes.' They both laughed as they got out of the car and headed towards the house. Alanna started heading for the front door, but Susan stopped. 'I'll be in shortly. I need to check on something in my TARDIS.'
'I'll make some tea and bring it out.'
'Why don't you just make it in the TARDIS galley then?'
Alanna shrugged. 'Sure, why not?' They both walked around back, Susan going fairly slowly, using her cane to support her.
The back shed stood as a welcome sight for Susan. Opening the door, she ushered Alanna in before entering and closing the door behind them. Susan took a deep breath as she looked around her bright and airy console room, bluish-green roundels covering the walls. 'Ah, home sweet home, where I can be myself.'
Alanna watched as Susan walked up the ramp towards the console, standing straight as she walked, not using her cane, the hunched over appearance of mere moments before having disappeared. 'You know, Mum, one of these days, you're going to get caught. Being outside in this crazy weather might be a red flag to someone.'
Susan laughed as she pulled off the wig she was wearing, the grey hair now gone and her normal wavy brown hair in its place. She also began pulling off the facial prosthetics, dropping them into a small container, revealing much younger skin beneath the surface. She opened her mouth and moved her jaw, stretching the muscles. 'Nonsense, I've gotten very good at this over the years.' She walked back over towards the hat rack, tossed her cane onto one of the rungs and looked at herself in the full-length mirror. Patting her cheeks and smiling, she said, 'Yep, still look like I was fifty!'
'That is so wrong,' Alanna admitted. 'You look younger than I do!'
'Your aging at the normal human rate, although I was hoping you'd get a bit of a slow down.' She ran a hand through her hair to loosen it from where the wig had weighed it down. 'At least I am aging, albeit slowly. I don't regenerate, unlike your Grandpa. Your Grandma told me about faces he's worn that made him look like a teenager.'
Alanna nodded. 'I know there was one of him I met when I was six that Grandma fussed about, but the main version of him I remember is the one that Grandma is with now.' She walked up to the console with the equipment from various centuries and planets all functioning as necessary. She turned one of the dials and read the results. 'I still have trouble wrapping my brain around this whole wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey thing.'
Susan shrugged, 'Mum didn't want to take the linear path after a while. I can't say as I blame her. Now that your father is gone, I don't have a reason to do it myself. I can just skip ahead or back to the more interesting bits.' She looked over at Alanna. 'I'd ask you to come with me, but I know you can't.'
Alanna shook her head. 'No, my kids would never understand.' She laughed. 'They already think their Nanna is crazy.'
Susan laughed, 'There's no other way to be! Now, how about that tea?'
After Alanna went to make the tea, Susan reached out and patted the console lovingly, 'It's just about time, my girl,' she said softly. She jumped as she heard a knock on the door. She walked around the console and looked at the monitor to see who was outside. She frowned as she saw a young man with floppy hair, wearing a bow tie and a tweed jacket. 'C'mon Sue, I know you're in there,' he said as he banged on the door again.
She shook her head and smiled as she recognised the familiar tap against her mind. It had been a while since she'd last felt it. She opened the door. 'Come in, Doctor.'
He walked in and within a few strides, he had swept her up into an enormous hug. He pulled back and held her at arm's length, before leaning in and giving her a quick kiss on the forehead. 'You look incredible, Sue!'
She gestured at his appearance. 'This is the regeneration that looks like you're twelve! Mum told me about you. That is unfair.' At his hurt expression, she continued, 'I must say though, it's been a long time, and I'm glad to see you. I always feel bad if I haven't seen all your incarnations.'
The Doctor bounced on the balls of his feet as he turned his attention to the console. 'Oh, she is gorgeous,' he said, running his hands gently across the controls. He reached out and placed both hands on one of the sensors, allowing it to scan him. He closed his eyes and Susan only watched as he finished his task. Finally, he looked up at Susan and smiled. 'TheRassilon Imprimatur is all set now, making her fully functional.' He patted the console affectionately, 'She suits you.'
'Well, even with the quick grow that allowed her to protect Mum and I from the Master, she took quite a while to complete. Finding a suitable environment and then the time for the seven full growth cycles. You might've warned me about that.' She shook her head gently. 'It's a good thing I've lived a very long time.' She reached out and tweaked a couple of levers on the console. 'You came here now because of the Imprimatur?'
He nodded, then asked, 'How long has it been, Sue?'
'Since when? Since I started growing my TARDIS, since I last saw you, since Alan died?' She sighed. 'I've begun hating this slow passage of time. Too many dull patches between the interesting bits.'
'I know the feeling,' he said softly before loudly clapping his hands and rubbing them together. 'So, catch me up. On all those things you mentioned.'
Susan crossed over and sat in the jump seat. It was reminiscent of the TARDIS she travelled in with the Doctor all those years previously. 'Well, I don't know how much I can tell you.'
The Doctor nodded. 'You've seen later versions of me, haven't you?'
Susan laughed. 'Spoilers, Doctor. That's what you get when you do things out of order.'
'Therein lies the fun, Sue. What's the right order for me is different order for you, for Sarah, for Alanna. Who's to say whose order is correct?'
'Did I just hear my name?' Alanna called as she walked back into the console room carrying a tray with the accoutrements for tea. She gaped as she saw the young man with the bow tie standing in front of her. 'Grandpa?'
'In the flesh,' he said with a smile.
Alanna gestured at the Doctor but spoke to Susan. 'He's out of order again, isn't he?'
'Of course, he wouldn't know any better,' Susan answered with a smile.
'Oi! Still in the room!' the Doctor exclaimed, looking back and forth from Susan to Alanna. He walked over and tapped Alanna on the nose as he looked down at the tray she was carrying. 'Oh, Jammie Dodgers,' he picked one off the plate and bit into it. 'I love Jammie Dodgers.'
Alanna looked at her mother and knew instinctively what Susan was going to ask, even before she said it. Even though she dreaded it, she knew she couldn't blame her mother. She closed her eyes, even as Susan started to speak.
'Doctor,' Susan started. 'I'm done with this slow path.'
He nodded. 'I know, that's why I'm here.'
'For advice or pointers or what?'
He smiled, 'Only to remind you of one thing.'
He walked over and threw an arm around her shoulder. 'Have fun, and remember that the order works itself out later.'