Author's Note: Sorry about how short this is. I reached the point I planned to end the chapter and found I had only written just over 3 pages instead of my usual 4 to 4 1/2... I'll make it up somehow.
The doors banged open. Dad and Jenny dashed in and forced them shut. Breathless, they grinned at each other for a moment, before dissolving into laughter. Almost immediately someone started banging on the outside. The TARDIS seemed to hum inquiringly as Dad, trying to regain his composure, worked his way up to the controls.
"Okay, so, what have we learned today?"
"Well," Jenny said, deciding the floor would make a great seat as she recovered, "pretty much, if you're ever asked by omnivorous cannibals with four arms to join them in a 'hunt', say no."
The banging grew louder as the being outside was joined by several of its fellows.
"No, no," Dad said, shaking his head. "That's rather rude. First you have to ask which side you're supposed to be on, the hunter or the hunted. If it's the former, you can refuse on moral grounds."
"And if it's the later?"
"You get a head start."
"So it doesn't matter?"
"No, but manners are important."
"Since when do you use manners?"
He paused from fiddling with whatever he had been fiddling with. "There's an old saying, used by a lot of parents. Do as I say, not as I do."
"Yeah, sure, because that's not hypocritical at all," she said slowly climbing to her feet. She motioned back to the door. "Can they get through that?"
Dad shook his head. "That door has held back things far worse than hungry savages."
"Good." Jenny mounted the first step up to the controls, holding on the railings with either hand. "So, not pissing off the locals before the big feast, should I file that under 'Common Sense' or 'Don't Feed a Dragon Ham'?"
"Okay, first of all, that was not a dragon," Dad said, wandering around the other side of the control column. "Second of all, why didn't it like the ham? I mean, what, are giant, flying, fire breathing lizards – okay, it was a dragon – are they too good for a roast of ham?"
Jenny shook her head. "It probably didn't help that you ran all the way back to the TARDIS carrying it."
"What?" he protested, shrugging. "That was a good ham. If he didn't want it, I'd eat it." He leaned against the railing. "I mean, I gave him the chance. I didn't even go back to grab it till his third pass."
"You know, I'm really glad no one else was there to see that."
He grinned. "What's the point in being a dad if you don't get to embarrass the kids from time to time?" He glanced at the door where the pounding was persisting. "That's getting a little annoying," he said, pushing himself off the railing and reaching out to the controls.
The TARDIS groaned and wheezed, shaking for a moment as the banging faded away.
"Better," Dad said, smiling at her again and leaning back up again the railing. "So, where to next? There's a planet called Barcelona. They've got dogs with no noses. Sad little things, they never get to smell. Or chase cats. They don't have cats there for some reason; I think it's against the law. Something about the dogs being allergic to their dander, which doesn't make much sense, because they still don't have noses."
Jenny contemplated it for a moment, staring down at the steps. Finally, she looked up. "What planet is Donna from?"
If she hadn't been looking right at him, she might have noticed the near imperceptible shift in his defenses that came with bad memories. "Earth," he said after a moment of hesitation. He quickly busied himself with something on the control panels, another defensive sign.
"What's it like?"
"Oh, it's wonderful," he said sincerely. "A little tiny blue planet with nothing special about it, yet everything in the universe seems to pale next to it. I blame the humans. Clever apes. Well, okay, stupid, primitive, obsessive, and proud apes, but oh so clever. Recently I was in a country called America and tried some 'Cheese Fries'." He gave her an almost giddy look. "They were literally chips covered in cheese. I'd heard of them, but that was the first time I'd ever tried them. They were amazing. Granted, they probably had enough grease in them to take a decade off my life, but the flavor. Actually, I don't think there's anything you couldn't improve by covering it in cheese." He paused. "Except broccoli. Never was a big fan of broccoli myself, not even during that vegetarian phase a few years back. Or cauliflower. They're just like little trees, it's weird."
Jenny grinned. "Can we go there?"
Dad hesitated again. He removed his hands from the console and turned to her. "Jenny, you can't ever see Donna. Never."
Letting go of the handrails, Jenny climbed the last few steps up to the control deck. "Why not?"
Dad sighed. "It's complicated." He turned back to the consoles, fiddling again for a moment before continuing. "Donna absorbed my mind. Well, okay, not my actual mind, but a copy. Still, she knew everything I knew. And that was the problem. She had a Time Lord mind in a human brain. It was too much, far too much, for her to handle. She started to short circuit, burning her mind out." He looked at her. "I couldn't erase her memories, so I suppressed them. She doesn't remember anything, not me, not you. And if she ever does, she will die."
The silence hung in the air.
"So do you understand?" Dad finally asked. "Do you understand why you can never see her again?"
Jenny nodded slowly.
"Do you still want to go to Earth?"
Dad crossed his arms. "Why?"
"It was her homeworld." Jenny smiled weakly. "Donna is the only other person I ever really met. She accepted me. She was important. Even if I can't see her, I want to see where she came from."
Dad gave her a kind smile in return. "One trip to Earth, coming up." He turned back to the controls. "Pretty simple. Press this here, twist that, don't forget to flip these, very important those. I don't exactly remember what they do, but they're important."
The TARDIS groaned. Jenny was smiling widely.
"Pull this, shift this here, press this, this, this, and this, in that order, twice, then do it backwards, and finally, hit that." He nodded at her. "Go on, my hands are full over here."
Jenny pressed the large yellow button. The TARDIS shook, jerked, then settled in.
Dad pushed past to the exit. "Well, here we are." He grinned again, leaning against the doors. "Planet Earth." He turned around, threw the doors opened and stepped out. Jenny jogged out after him.
And came to a sudden halt as an assault rifle was pressed in her face.
Dad's hands were already up. Slowly, she raised hers.
"This happen to you a lot?" she asked.
"No. Well, okay, occasionally, well, less than occasionally, but certainly every once in a while. I'd say in a blue moon, but I think it happens a bit more often than that."
"Quiet," a man holding a rifle said. He was dressed in black body armor and was wearing a red beret. In fact, all six of the men sounding them were dressed like that. Definitely soldiers of some sort.
A woman, perhaps in her late thirties, stepped to the front. Unlike the others, she wasn't wearing any armor. Instead, she was dressed in a sharp dress uniform. She paused, looked both of them up and down. "Doctor," she finally said curtly, settling her gaze on Dad.
"Colonel," he answered, glancing around. "You know, while I certainly appreciate you lot changing up your greetings, give life a little variety, and while I still really didn't like the other one, I think I do prefer when UNIT threw up solutes instead of guns."
"I'm placing you under arrest, Doctor."
"Oh, okay. Out of curiosity, for what?"