Chapter 40 – Future Echoes
"Two times table until twenty," the Doctor instructed his daughter, leaning forward and covering up the worksheet with folded arms, grinning.
"Two, four, six, eight, ten, twelve, fourteen, sixteen, eighteen, twenty. Make it harder!" Leah demanded.
The Doctor grinned. "All right, three times table until fifteen."
Leah frowned a little. "Umm... Three... Six..." She looked down under the table. "Nine, twelve..."
"Oi!" the Doctor said quickly. "No finger counting!"
"I wasn't!" Leah insisted, looking at him with wide, innocent eyes.
"Put your hands on the table where I can see them, then."
"No buts!" the Doctor insisted. "Now come on, hands on the table and gimme the three times table until thirty."
"But it was fifteen earlier!" Leah whined, putting her hands on the table.
"That was before you cheated."
"Don't 'Daddy' me with those adorable eyes, Leah. C'mon, I know you can do this. Three, six, nine, twelve..." He gestured for her to continue.
"... Fifteen... Umm... Eighteen... Um... Twenty-one..." She stopped and frowned, visibly resisting the urge to count on her fingers. She looked up at him, very quickly distraught. "Daddy, I can't do it!" she wailed.
"Yes, you can."
"It's too hard!"
"What's twenty-one plus three?"
"Twenty-four," Leah said absently without thinking.
The Doctor stared at her, urging her to catch on.
"What?" she asked. Then blinked as she realised. "Oh! Umm... Twenty-four... Twenty seven... Thirty!"
"Yeah!" the Doctor cheered, clapping. "See, you can do it."
"Yeah, I can," she replied, beaming.
"I think the whole multiplication thing scares you, a bit. But you've just proved to me you can do it, so don't get worried when I say multiply, all right?"
"Okay," Leah replied, nodding positively.
"Good. Lesson end for today... But take this worksheet and I want it done by Friday," he said sternly, giving her a sheet of paper full of maths problems. "All right? And no counting on your fingers, or I'll know."
"Yes, Daddy," she replied, clutching the paper as climbing off the chair. "Can I go play with my new stuff until dinner?"
"Yep," he replied. "We'll be having dinner a little late tonight so grab a couple of biscuits if you like."
"Thank you," she said and ran out of the room.
He smiled and leant back in his chair, propping his feet onto the table. It was New Year's Day, four weeks since Alex had been born. They'd done the usual festivities of Christmas with everyone, although in the complete blur of looking after Alex, he and Rose had forgot to get anyone presents. Thankfully the others had been very forgiving and understanding.
Alex had been doing very well and it wouldn't be too long until he came out, Martha had said. Although the Doctor could monitor Alex perfectly well by himself, he had made an oath long ago that he would ask Martha to deal with anything medical to do with his family. So he let her get on with it.
Rose spent most of her days in the infirmary, watching over Alex. She was worried, the Doctor understood that, but no amount of reassurance was helping. He knew Alex was going to be fine and he also knew that Rose knew that as well, but he supposed Rose just couldn't quite let go of her worry as a mum. Which was understandable, so he just retreated to the background to look after Leah and Tony, do all the meals, keep Jackie reassured and the others up to date whilst going to the infirmary as often as possible. Quite honestly, he was knackered, but he saw it as repayment to Rose for what she had done for the family after the Shadow Proclamation.
Jackie and Tony meanwhile had been looking around all the accommodations Jack had sorted out for them to view in Cardiff, as Jackie quite rightly pointed out she couldn't exactly stay in the TARDIS, but she wasn't about to go back to London either. She seemed to have finally settled on a flat in the bay quite close to the Hub.
The Doctor ripped himself out of his thoughts, running a hand through his hair and getting to his feet, tidying up the papers on the desk to a slightly more acceptable mess before leaving to go to the infirmary.
There he found Rose and Martha next to the incubator, but something was different. The instant Martha caught sight of him, she smiled and beckoned. He moved over to find Alex was out of the incubator, and taking his first feed direct from his Mum.
"Doctor!" Rose began, looking as though she might burst into tears with happiness. "Look..."
He just smiled, sitting beside her to watch nature at it best until it was over. Rose just cradled Alex after that, his shining blue eyes open and flickering around the room as he waved his little arms and legs around. He was a lot healthier than when he'd be born, a lot more alert, bigger and chubbier, off of most of the tubes and somehow even more beautiful than before. He had grown a mess of thin dark hair on his head and his eyes were a bright blue.
"Are you going to tell me his name, yet?" Martha wondered.
"Not until he's officially out of the incubator," Rose replied as the Doctor leant forward to take Alex from his Mum's arms, holding him carefully. The boy giggled, and dribbled slightly.
"I think he might be ready to come out now, actually," Martha informed them, checking her chart over. "He seems to be strong enough now without support, he's sorted himself out very fast. Let me check him over."
The Doctor and Rose simultaneously nodded, kissing the boy before carefully handing him to Martha. The Doctor got up and outstretched his hand to Rose for her to take it and leave, but as ever, she was reluctant.
"I wanna stay with him..."
"No, c'mon, Martha can look after him. And I've got something to show you."
Rose was intrigued instantly. "What?"
"Come and see," the Doctor insisted, grinning as he kept his hand outstretched to her, waggling his fingers.
Rose looked at Alex in Martha's arms, and Martha smiled reassuringly. "I'll be careful, don't worry."
Rose took a few long moments to decide, before she finally took the Doctor's hand and let herself be led away from Alex. The Doctor gave a quick glance at Martha, mouthing a 'thank you'. She just nodded and smiled knowledgeably.
The Doctor took her out into the corridor and straight to their bedroom. She was about to protest before he pointed to the side wall. The door to the en-suite was there as usual, but there was also another door. A new door. She looked at him enquiringly, but he just let go of her hand and gestured for her to go ahead and open it.
Slightly apprehensively she moved forward and pushed it open. Automatically a dimmed light came on and revealed what was inside... And her jaw dropped.
It was a nursery for Alex. The walls had a jungle theme, full of the animals the Doctor had planned out, in full colour. There were artificial windows currently set to night, with jungle green curtains and trim. The cot was ready and waiting at the far end with an animal themed mobile turning slowly above it whilst twinkling a calming melody. There was a nappy changing table on the left side of the room, and a comfy rocking chair and stool next to the cot for feedings.
There was a toy box with a few cuddly toys on it, and shelves fitted with more toys and books on. A tiny wardrobe was in the corner, filled with little outfits ready to be worn and a chest of drawers full of the essentials. There were even paw print rugs on the floor. Everything was here.
Rose turned to the Doctor with her jaw agape, staring at him leant against the door-frame with his arms folded, grinning at her expression. "When did you do this?"
"Oh, a little here, a little there," the Doctor said, nonchalant.
"Did... Did you do all of this?"
"Oh no," the Doctor said quickly. "I just painted the walls. Gwen planned and arranged the room, Jackie and Tony got the curtains and rugs and whatnot, Jack and Ianto bought the furniture, Mickey put up all the shelves, Martha got all the toys and books, and Leah was official tester – and don't let anyone tell you any different."
She just stared. "... Everyone helped?"
He nodded. "I just mentioned about needing to do the nursery, then Gwen started asking me how I was going to plan it. Then things kind of escalated and soon everyone wanted to help. Took a few weeks, but we got there."
"It's perfect," she croaked, hand over her mouth. Then she turned back to him and hugged him tightly. "Thank you."
He just laughed, kissing her and holding her tight.
"God, I feel so guilty," she muttered after a moment into his chest.
"I've just been sitting in the Infirmary doin' nothin' and you've been doin' this, lookin' after Leah, doin' all the meals and stuff..."
"You weren't doing nothing, you were caring for and watching over our son," the Doctor replied gently. "I didn't want you to worry about anything else, so I took care of everything so you could fully concentrate on him."
"There was nothin' to worry about, though," she murmured.
"No, there wasn't, but you can't be blamed for wanting to make sure that was true. You're his mother, after all. Staying there all that time and doing all you could for him proved how great of a mother you are. Besides, even if I did think you were completely barmy for that I would've still done all this, because I love you. Got it?"
She giggled and kissed him again. "Yeah."
"Right, now let's go and introduce our son to everyone."
Martha had given the all clear and went to gather everyone in the Hub for the big announcement. Five minutes later the Doctor emerged from the TARDIS to the waiting crowd, holding the boy swathed in blankets closely followed by Rose.
"Everyone," the Doctor announced. "I'd like to introduce to you... Alex Tyler."
Everyone took in deep breaths as if to cheer loudly, but the Doctor quickly stopped them.
"Quietly!" he hissed, nodding at the boy.
Everyone quietly cheered, dancing silently on the spot. Then Alex was passed around the crowd, each of them awwing and cooing at the boy, who just stared up at them all, utterly bewildered and making all manner of noises. He finally got back to his Dad's arms, where instantly he felt comfortable as could be and fell quiet and still.
"Looks just his Mum," Jackie commented, smiling in the way only a proud grandmother could. "He's got her nose. Her ears. Those bright blue eyes... They're from my gene pool, you know..."
The Doctor cleared his throat intentionally, but she didn't seem to pick up on it.
"He's even got her mouth!"
Rose glanced at her husband, currently standing there a little miffed, and grinned. "Mum, how's the house hunt goin'?"
Jackie frowned for a moment, thinking about it. "I tell you, these Welsh are bloody weird," she said, shaking her head. "I was in the shop earlier and this woman, she's got a kid called Mun!"
Gwen smiled slightly. "Mun is just slang we use," she explained.
"Oh," Jackie realised. Then thought for a moment. "This is gonna take a bit of gettin' used to."
"I could get you a place in London if you like," Jack offered.
"Nah," Jackie said, looking at the Doctor and Rose. "You'll be hangin' around here, won't you?"
"You know... you're welcome live in the TARDIS with us," the Doctor began. "There's plenty of room."
She laughed. "No, you need your space. Besides, I don't wanna be wakin' up to an alien invasion every day. I'll stay here in Wales. I'd rather be here with my family than back in London where you'll only bring them back once every year..."
"Hey!" the Doctor interrupted, hand in the air. "That was an accident!"
"But completely your fault!" Jackie pointed out.
"No! Well... Yes, but it could've happened to anyone!"
"Because I know loads of aliens with time machines!" Jackie replied sarcastically.
"Mum! Husband!" Rose yelled quickly, placing herself between them. "That's why Mum can't stay with us, you two can't have one civil conversation, yeah?"
She stared pointedly at them both with narrowed eyes. Jackie harrumphed and the Doctor looked a little guilty, scuffing the ground with his shoes.
"Right. Look, Mum..." Rose turned to her Mum. "Wherever you live, we'll constantly be over, I'll make sure of that. If you don't feel comfortable here then it's okay for you to go back to London... But if you're here right next to the Hub then it'll be an easier journey for us, and Jack'll be able to look out for you. Right, Jack?"
"Sure," Jack said, smiling charismatically.
Jackie paused to consider this, Tony as ever quiet and standing next to her side. "Me and Tony'll stay here in Wales," she finally concluded.
"Sure?" Rose asked.
After Alex was put back to bed the adults just spent a while chatting, the Doctor and Rose thanking them for the nursery and all they'd done. They had of course accepted their thanks gracefully. As time ticked by eventually people began to filter away, until it was just Rose, the Doctor and Jack remaining.
"You off after this?" Jack wondered.
Rose nodded. "It'll be just us four spendin' time together."
"It's been a while," the Doctor added on the end.
"But how are you coping?" Jack wondered.
The Doctor and Rose looked at each other. It took a few moments to gauge how they both felt at that current moment, and when it came it surprised them both.
"I'm... fine," the Doctor announced, gazing at his wife with a huge smile.
"Me too," she replied, smiling back. It was as though Alex had healed a forming rift between them over the past four weeks, rebuilding bridges that had been destroyed by the Master and the Shadow Proclamation. Things really were copacetic.
Suddenly they both simultaneously felt tiny hands tugging on their trousers, and they looked down to see Leah, gazing up at them with wide eyes.
"Daddy, Mummy, I ate all the biscuits but I'm still hungry!" she wailed.
"Okay, okay," the Doctor said quickly, getting to his feet. "We'll have dinner now. What do you want?"
"Chips!" Leah said excitedly.
"Okay," the Doctor replied. "Say bye to Uncle Jack."
"Bye, Uncle Jack," Leah said as she ran over to the ex-Time Agent to give him a hug.
"Bye, Leah," he replied. "I'll see you again soon."
"Oh, are we going for long time, now?" Leah asked, turning to her dad.
"Oh, bye, Uncle Jack!" she yelled and hugged him again.
"Bye, Leah," Jack repeated, grinning.
She turned and ran to her parents, who moved off to the TARDIS. They both said a final good bye and thanks to Jack, before stepping in the TARDIS.
"I'll just dematerialise," the Doctor said, moving over to the console and hammering a few buttons.
"Dinner!" Leah demanded, tugging on Rose's trousers again.
Rose rolled her eyes. "C'mon, Leah," she said, taking her daughter's hand and leading her to the kitchen.
The Doctor started dematerialisation, the column pulsating up and down to take them into the vortex. He just spent a few moments watching it, before he suddenly remembered that package he had left under the console before Lix. He pulled it out and opened it, reaching in to take out a piece of paper and a data-chip.
He frowned, opening the paper.
Your secret admirer x
His frown deepened, and he plugged in the data-chip, and fired it up. There was a surge of energy, and a hologram appeared on his left, crackling into life. It was slightly corrupted, jolting every few seconds and flickering in and out of life. The Doctor backed away instantly as he realised...
"This is the last living member of the Shadow Proclamation High Council, recording what I expect to be our last log, Universal time 25.01/7," a pale woman wearing a familiar long black robe said as the Doctor's eyes widened. This was a recording from the future... "We are falling, one by one. We should have never meddled with its family. We should have left them alone. We are the makers of our own demise. We created Echo, and now one by one it is hunting the High Council down and executing us for what we have done.
"I know not of its face, or its voice, but Echo makes it clear that it cares only for our deaths. It strikes from the shadows, kills, and is gone in a blink. They say to see Echo in the flesh is to see Death incarnate. It shows no mercy, no remorse, no love for the ones that it seeks. Only I remain, but I know not for long.
"But I truly believe that we deserve nothing less. We had taken control of an innocent life and warped it until it became our own retribution. We cannot ask for forgiveness. Echo is the end of the Shadow Proclamation. The child of the Doctor will come for me. I pray only that death will alleviate my guilt for the horrendous damage we have done."
It crackled, and died.
The Doctor just stood there, staring at the space the hologram had been standing. He felt completely numb... Was this the future? This was what the Shadow Proclamation had seen – their own demise, mass execution by one of his children, and they had broken every law they had ever created to stop it from happening, to prevent the reign of Echo... And Echo was one of his children.
"Doctor?" a voice came from the corridor and the Doctor almost jumped about a foot in the air, spinning around to see Rose standing there staring at him, a little bemused. "What's up with you?"
The Doctor blinked a few times, letting his body relax. "You startled me."
"Sorry," she said, giggling. "Come on, Leah wants to hold Alex."
"... Okay," he muttered, quickly shutting off the monitor, taking out the data-chip and dropping it into his pocket, then moving quickly away from the console.
As he reached her, Rose frowned. "You sure you're all right?"
"I'm perfect," the Doctor forced himself to say as happily as he could, forcing a grin. "C'mon."
He took her hand and led her back through the doorway, away from the console to his two children... Wondering just what exactly the future might bring for him and his happy little family.
Or maybe his tiny little Time Lord brain couldn't even begin to comprehend it.
As Jack watched the TARDIS disappear, he took a few moments to finish his thoughts, then turned to go to bed. He was just about to climb down into his room when there was a sudden buzzing at the Hub door – someone wanting to be let in.
He frowned slightly, straightening up. Who the hell was that at this hour?
All the same, he checked his gun was in his holster and slowly moved to the door, cautious. He pressed the button and the wheel rolled back to reveal...
"Hey, Jack," the Doctor said, grinning.
Jack blinked. "You, umm, you just left."
"Yeah, I know," the Doctor replied, still grinning. "Perfect timing, if I say so myself."
Jack stared at him for a moment. "Err, you wanna come in?"
"No," the Doctor answered. "I've only got a few minutes, I need you to give me a message from me."
"The other you?"
"Yeah. Almost exactly one year from now on the 10th December, when the clock hits 6pm exactly, you need to tell my other self that it's a code ten, and give him this."
The Doctor held out a piece of paper, which Jack took, frowning. "What's a code ten?"
"A warning to myself."
"Can't say. Just promise me, 6pm on 10th December you will tell him it's a code ten and give him that piece of paper. Don't wait for anything. Scream and punch him if you have to. He has to know, and he has to know then."
Jack nodded. "Promise."
"Don't forget," the Doctor warned. "You're going to have a completely barmy year, but 6pm, 10th December 2012, you tell him."
"Okay, I got it," Jack assured him.
"The entire universe is in your hands, Captain Jack Harkness... Sure you don't want to at least write it down somewhere?"
"I'll remember!" Jack insisted.
"If you're sure," the Doctor replied, a little unconvinced. "You couldn't remember the right date to give Martha for labour day."
"I thought you said the 11th!"
The future Doctor just sighed and rolled his eyes. "I have to go, thank you."
He turned to leave.
"Wait," Jack said quickly.
"6pm, 10th December 2012!" the Doctor snapped, exasperated. "Write it down!"
"No, not that bit," Jack replied quickly. "But you're from the future... How about you give me a little bit of the future? Give me a clue to what happens?"
The future Doctor didn't seem very happy with the idea of that, but Jack noted he wasn't saying no...
"Go on," Jack encouraged, smiling his most charismatic smile. "Just a tiny bit. Little clue."
The Doctor sighed. "Fine," he said, and with that he grabbed Jack's face in both hands, wrenched it forward, slammed their lips together and snogged the life out of him for five very long and very lovely seconds.
He finally drew back, letting go of Jack and simply letting him stand there feeling as though he was going to collapse at any second. Then the Time Lord simply turned, and walked towards the exit.
"Wait! Doc! Is that the future?" Jack asked, breathless.
The Doctor kept walking towards the exit.
"Doctor! You can't just walk out! Was that a joke? Do I have sex with you? With Rose? Both of you? At the same time?"
The Doctor had gone.
Jack sighed as the Hub door rolled closed in front of him, staring into the metal before raising the piece of paper the future Doctor had given him, considering it. Well, what was the worst that could happen? He wasn't telling the Doctor for a year anyway. He opened the paper, and read it.
The reign of Echo will begin.
Well, what was that supposed to mean?
He shoved the paper into his pocket, noting to put it in his desk tomorrow morning. Then he left to bed, anticipating some lovely dreams.
A/N: Done and done! That may or may not answer question about a sequel. I have plenty of idea and I have set myself up to continue this series because I'm beginning to absolutely adore this fictional world I've made, but if I did there would be a buffer between this and Echo. Because there's a whole year in-between to be explored :D
Any questions, fire! My fingers are ready and willing to type a thought-provoking and no doubt interesting reply.