When Amy reached the hut, she sank gratefully into the bed that had been made up for her. River quickly checked her vitals.
"You'll be fine after a little sleep," she informed.
"I want to see my son first," Amy said insistently, sitting up against the pillows.
"Just as well. No telling what he's doing to Saada right now." When River went to get him, she found him screaming his tiny lungs out. Saada looked more than happy to return him.
"There's my wee man," Amy said delightedly when she saw him, taking him into her arms and holding him close. "Oh how I've missed you."
Ian was happy to see her too, although for slightly different reasons. Amy laughed as he began to nuzzle her, the snuffling sound he made from pressing his nose into her shirt reminding her of a piglet. "Alright, alright. I got your message," she said, helping him out.
Later, when the Doctor came up, he found River passed out in the armchair by the door, and Amy and Ian fast asleep in the bed, a dribble of milk drying at the corner of his son's mouth. He smiled, patting River's hand and kissing the foreheads of his family. With all of them together with him, he felt whole again.
There was a soft knock on the door, and curiously the Doctor went to answer it. Martha was standing there. Before she could speak he put a finger to her lips and moved outside with her, shutting the door behind him.
"I just wanted to let you know that Mickey and I plan on leaving tonight," Martha told him. "Fingers crossed the vortex manipulator doesn't overshoot by a few centuries again—or light years, for that matter."
"Oh come on, must you say goodbye so soon? We haven't even gotten a chance to catch up yet," the Doctor replied.
"There's not much reason to stay. We were going to leave as soon as we arrived earlier today, but then our scanner picked up the Dalek's signal. Our mission here is complete."
"Just stay until tomorrow morning, and I'll take you back in the TARDIS. I can take you anywhere you want to go, actually."
Martha smiled, old memories shining in her liquid brown eyes. "Still got that old box, have you?"
"Yeah, and she's still as big on the inside as she ever was. Got a makeover last regeneration; looks rather smashing. You should see her."
"Alright, I guess we can take you up on that." Martha glanced momentarily at the door, on the verge of asking her friend about his new Scottish companion, but she figured it could wait until the morning.
"Has Betoto offered you a place to sleep for the night?" The Doctor inquired.
Martha nodded. "Yes, he did. Nice bloke, him."
"Yes he is. Well, see you in the morning then."
"Night." The Doctor smiled one last time before stepping back inside the room and closing the door as quietly as he could.
The following morning, Martha awoke to the pale forest sunlight streaming through the window of the hut. It took her a while to orientate herself with her surroundings, but once she remembered where she was, she smiled.
"Mickey, wake up!" Martha said, flipping over to face her husband.
Mickey groaned sleepily and wrapped his arm around her waist. "Morning," he murmured, kissing her.
"Come on, sleepyhead. The Doctor's expecting us," Martha reminded him, kissing him back before sliding out of bed. Mickey yawned and followed suit.
"Are you sure about this? Riding in the TARDIS again, with him?" He asked, pulling a T-shirt over his head.
"Course I am. It's only one trip."
"It's never only one trip with him."
"What, you had enough adventure already? Thought you had a little more mettle than that."
"Hardly. If that were true I wouldn't have gone into freelance alien hunting with you. Gotta have courage to do that."
"What, the alien hunting part or the going into it with me part?"
"The hunting part, of course…yeah, the hunting part," Mickey said, stammering a little. "Although you do have your days."
"Oh shut it." Martha pulled her braids into a long ponytail and zipped up her jacket. "You coming then?"
Breakfast in the forests of Novus Lux was taken in the Mead Hall and consisted of grilled vegetables, rice, and wafers. The Doctor showed up for only a moment, piling whatever he could grab on a tray and taking it back up for Amy. River stayed, however, rocking the wide-eyed Ian in her arms.
"What a sweet baby," Martha remarked, stroking his fair hair. "Is he yours?"
"Oh heavens, no. His mother is the girl you rescued yesterday," River answered. "Would you mind holding him for a bit? I'm starving."
"No problem." Martha took the soft bundle from the woman and put him over her shoulder, patting his back gently. He hiccoughed and began to explore the leather of her jacket with his mouth. "Look at that, I think he likes me," she remarked, grinning as she felt his little heartbeat against her body.
"Is something wrong?" River asked, noticing that Martha had pulled the newborn away from her and was staring at it in shock. Ian stared back, his bright green eyes inquisitive as always.
Martha didn't respond at first. She laid her fingers against his chest, gently probing both sides of it.
"Martha, what's up?" Mickey had noticed her unusual behavior as well and half-expected the baby to turn into a miniature green Martian from the way she was looking at it.
"Two heartbeats, Mickey."
"So he's half-alien. We've seen worse."
"Not just half of any alien. River—that's your name, right? Who's the father?" Martha questioned, not really needing to hear the answer to know.
"Why, the Doctor."
"Unbelievable." To say Martha was surprised would be an understatement. The Doctor had always seemed so separated from his companions, knowing it would be unwise to get too close. There had been times, she knew, what with the whole Rose business. But Martha had never thought he'd ever go as far as to father a child with a human he traveled with.
"Well it's not that strange. I mean, Amy is his wife," River said.
"Wife?" Martha had to sit down for this one.
"Are you all right, sweetie?" River asked, her food long forgotten.
"Yeah, I'm good. It's just…wow."
"Sorry, Amy only just drifted off again. Did I miss anything?"
The Doctor suddenly appeared in their midst. He took one look at his son in Martha's arms and the expression on her face and said, "Oh."
"Doctor, you have got a lot of explaining to do," Martha told him firmly.
"I apologize for not telling you sooner, but I wasn't sure how you'd react," the Doctor admitted. He and Martha were facing each other on the bridge outside the Mead Hall, which was approximately twenty feet off the ground. The sun was trying its best to shine through the leaves overhead, patterning the forest floor with pale splotches of light.
"But she's human. And she can't be more than twenty one," Martha replied, crossing her arms and leaning against the uneven railing.
"Yes, but here's the thing. She's never going to be more than twenty one."
"What do you mean?"
So the Doctor told her everything, starting from when he first met Amy Pond up to the present, of the Fountain of Youth and Dulkis and what happened in Greece. By the time he was finished she was dumbfounded.
"Well I guess that just about sums it up," Martha remarked.
"Does it bother you?"
"No, of course not. It's just new, you having a family now and all. Suppose I don't have to worry about you being alone anymore." Martha smiled wanly. "Your son, what's his name?"
"Not very Gallifreyan, eh?"
"It was Amy's choice. I don't think he'd want a Gallifreyan name; they're terribly long and difficult to pronounce. You don't even want to know the one I was born with."
"Well he is a cutie. Surprising; he must have gotten his looks from his mother."
"Hilarious." The Doctor shook his head wryly. "So you and Mickey, freelance alien hunters. How's that been going for you?"
"Pretty well. Not quite the same as saving the universe, but still, never a dull day."
"No, I wouldn't imagine so."
"We've missed you, though. We were certain we'd never see you again, after that last time with the sniper. When you…"
"Yeah, well, that's all over now. I have a tendency of turning up again, although not always at the best of times."
"Got a point there."
The Doctor grinned, shoving his hands in his pockets and walking back towards the Mead Hall. Martha fell in step with him, studying his new profile at the same time. This latest face intrigued her, being capable of showing his nine hundred years and making him look youthful at the same time. Whenever he looked at her with curiosity or confusion, she felt like she was reading his life story in the lines of his forehead and crinkles around his eyes. Although if there was one thing she knew, it was that she would never understand everything written there.
"Look, Doctor, I really appreciate ya being so concerned, but I'm going to do this on my own. Got it?"
"Amy, please. I don't want you getting hurt."
Amy tapped her husband on the nose and smiled. "I won't. I just want to walk to the TARDIS like a normal person. Well, a sort of normal person."
Reluctantly the Doctor backed away, allowing her to get out of bed by herself. She changed into jeans and a cotton sweatshirt, moving slowly due to the soreness in her body. Then she opened the door, breathed deeply, and marched outside.
The Doctor lifted Ian out of his cradle and placed him over his shoulder. "She's going to kill herself one day, your mum. But you can't help admiring her spirit. Now listen, I better not catch you gnawing on the bowtie again. Despite what she says it's cool." Ian gurgled, which his father took as a good enough answer. "Glad to see we understand each other."
The Time Lord moved outside where Amy was waiting with River, and together they descended the staircase down to the forest floor.
"Morning!" Martha appeared from another set of steps, Mickey right behind her.
Everyone turned to find Betoto hurrying towards them.
"Hello there, Your Majesty. Fine morning, isn't it?" The Doctor greeted.
"Yes, it is. I wanted to thank you before you left," Betoto told him.
"Oh? What for?"
"We just got word this morning. Kondo committed suicide shortly after the incident yesterday, and his followers have surrendered to us. Lucians aren't accustomed to so much war," the prince replied. He watched the Doctor's reaction and was mildly surprised. "I thought you would be relieved."
"Oh I am. But traitor or no he was your brother," the Doctor answered.
"He was, a long time ago. He changed, though. In my mind, the true Kondo Kiongozi died years ago."
The Doctor patted him reassuringly on the back. "What are you waiting for, then? Reclaim your kingdom."
"Are you sure you don't want to stay just a little longer? We Lucians are well known for our celebrations."
"I'd love to, but we really do need to get going. Thank you anyway for the offer."
Betoto bowed his head respectfully. "Best of luck to you then, wherever you're headed. And don't forget us."
"Course not. This is my son's birthplace, after all."
The prince smiled and then withdrew, fading into the sunlit mists of the woodland.
The trek over the open terrain of Novus Lux went unhindered. The mists were starting to lift, and the sun was burning brightly as if it knew it was the dawn of a new age. The Doctor kept a close eye on Amy the entire way, but if she was hurting she wasn't letting it show. She clasped his hand in hers and smiled, always the trooper.
"Now there's a sight for sore eyes," Martha announced as they neared the TARDIS. She ran her hand over the blue-painted wood, reminiscing over the past. The Doctor snapped his fingers, and the door opened for her. "The Doctor was right. You are looking smashing, old friend," she commented upon entering the time machine. The TARDIS hummed warmly in response.
"Here, I'll take Ian to the nursery. I'm sure the TARDIS is excited about him seeing it," Amy said, retrieving the boy. The Doctor drew her in by the waist and planted a tender kiss on her lips before letting her head up the stairs. Martha watched the exchange and was surprised to find that she didn't feel one ounce of jealousy. The Doctor had found what he needed, and so had she.
Once Amy had disappeared, the Doctor bounded over to the console, wiggling his fingers over the controls like an excited child. "Right, is everyone in? No one hanging any arms, limbs, or other important body parts outside the TARDIS? Nursery stabilized, River? Good. Geronimo!"
Okay, I decided it was time for a story split, mostly because the next chapters are going to go in a slightly new direction what with Martha and Mickey on board and some more stuff coming up. This will be the last chapter in the first part, but it isn't the end of the universe, I promise :)
Thanks for reading, please review and all that good stuff.