Previous Chapter: At the mention of his name, Han leaps down from the window sill to join the men as they watch the women leave the room. His look of amusement at the proceedings catches the Doctor's eye and he turns to stare down at Han with a smirk. "I don't know what you think is so funny. I've had my talk, now it's your turn."
Han's eyes widen in shock and if his expression was anything to go by, his thoughts were revealing, Oh bugger.
Disclaimer: I do not own anything in relation to Doctor Who, Star Wars, Godzilla, Frankenstein, King Kong, Universal or RKO.
The Doctor offers a stern expression as he crosses his arms over his chest and stares down at Han. "So…marriage…that's a pretty big step for an adventurer like yourself. Are you sure that you're ready to make that kind of commitment?"
Han merely returns the Doctor's steady gaze before he runs across the room and shimmies his way up Pete's desk. Once he's atop the desk, he scurries over to Pete's cell phone and types out a text message. Pete walks over and reads aloud, "Yes, I am ready and incidentally, I liked Pete's delivery better."
Pete laughs while the Doctor throws Han a withering glare and growls, "Yeah? Well, how would you like me to deliver a swift…"
"Gentlemen!" interrupts Pete as Han reaches for his laser pistol. "I believe that Jackie said we're to hurry up and spiff up Han for the big moment." He eyes the two men before him with a shrewd glance. "Unless, would either of you two care to explain the delay to Jacks?"
Two pairs of eyes simultaneously widen in apprehension before their owners quickly glance at each other and then turn to Pete to firmly shake their heads in the negative.
"I didn't think so," smirks Pete as he picks up the items that Jackie left on his desk. "Well, let's see what we have here." His eyes narrow with a slight smolder as he appraises the clothing. "Apparently, it's my favorite black silk handkerchief turned into a dinner jacket with coat tails and a matching tie for Han. Jackie has always hated it."
He holds it out for Han to slip on and chuckles, "I hope that you'll enjoy it as much as the advice that I'm about to give you."
Han's gaze is quizzical as he wonders what Pete is going to tell him. He's only known Pete for a short time, but he's found him to be caring and wise and as welcoming as he's sure his advice will be.
Pete smoothes down Han's coat and begins to work on making a bow tie while he muses, "It's funny, you and Leia have literally had a romance straight out of the movies. Since you know everything about each other, the only advice that I have to offer you is to love her, listen to her and compromise with her whenever you find that you can't reach an agreement." He finishes the bow tie with a bit of a flourish and smiles while he adds, "And hide all of the stuff you love that she doesn't."
The Doctor barks out a laugh at Pete's last remark before pinning Han down with a stare that reflects the true gravity of the situation. "No, really, mate, hide your stuff." Han nods his head in acknowledgement while the Doctor gears up to offer his own counsel.
He rubs the back of his neck as he grudgingly admits, "Obviously, Pete gave you some excellent words of wisdom and as you've just witnessed, I'm much better at dispensing advice than I am at taking it. However, I would like to offer you an invaluable tidbit from my own personal experience that I know that you will appreciate."
The Doctor leans over far enough to look Han directly in the eye to ask, "Do you remember the day that you 'came to life' in the hotel and had that little mishap with Leia?" Han nods curtly and the Doctor continues, "Good. Never forget it and never repeat it." He arches one eyebrow as he stresses, "When a woman declares her love for you, don't respond with 'I know' or any other inane attempt at flippancy! Simply tell her that you love her as fast as you can!"
One plastic smirk and a few taps on the cell phone later, the Doctor reads out Han's reply. "Quite right too."
"I see Rose has been having some girl time chats with Leia then," states the Doctor dryly while still managing to glower at Han. "I wondered why I kept finding them in front of Rose's laptop; I thought they were just shopping online. Oh well, that's my share of guidance for the day. Take it or leave it."
Han walks over to the edge of the desk gazing up at the Doctor with a twinkle in his eyes and a broad grin and as he holds out his hand to shake, he mouths 'Thank you'.
The Doctor glances over at Pete in amusement and inquires, "So Pete, when we first met way back when, did you ever imagine that your life would turn out like this?"
Pete smiles widely and declares, "Not in my wildest dreams. Of course, I'm assuming that you mean the alien invasions, parallel family members and more trouble than I can shake a stick at?" He smiles even wider. "Remind to thank you properly for that sometime."
The Doctor grins in return and chuckles, "You're very welcome but I was referring more to the fact of dressing up an alien sentient toy…" A few tapping noises has Han holding up the cell phone to display the words 'ACTION FIGURE', much to the Doctor's chagrin. "Sorry, action figure, and preparing him for a proposal?"
"I don't know," considers Pete, "it seems kind of fitting to me. Two old jaded and self-made men such as ourselves, basically feeling alone for the majority of our lives no matter how many people surrounded us and then finding a second chance at life with women that we never expected to come into our lives but love them all the more for it?"
Pete's grin is practically as manic as the Doctor's as he looks at the other two and asks, "Now who else can you think of who would be more appropriate for this moment?"
The Doctor's laughter is unrestrained as he replies, "Well, you have me there. Come on then, you two, let's move out before Jackie comes in search of us." The unintentional threat alone is enough to prod all three men into action and head off to the dining room.
On the way to the dining room, the Doctor looks down at Han and asks, "Aren't you glad that you don't have to worry about in-laws?" Han tugs on the Doctor's pant leg and points over at the group of figures assembled by one of the doorways. Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi and even Luke are all watching Han with narrowed eyes and wielding their light sabers in silent warning of hurting their girl.
"Oh, yes," recalls the Doctor instantly. "I forgot all about them. Sorry about that, it's just that they're so new."
Jackie's shriek of, "Where is everybody? The tea's getting cold!" brings an end to any further discussion and they all hurry down the hall as quickly as possible. The Doctor and Han throw each other sympathetic looks and shrug their shoulders as if to say 'What can you do?'
They arrive in the dining room to find that Jackie has set up a doll sized table for the couple using a mug with a spare tile across the rim for a table and two large round spools of gift ribbon for chairs. She's just finishing laying a lavender silk handkerchief over the tile to fashion a tablecloth. She glances up as she smoothes it out and declares, "This is my favorite handkerchief for Pete. I'm hoping it will bring them some luck."
Everyone smiles at the jovial remark but Pete's inner thoughts are a little less cheerful. It's also the one that I hate the most, but you know that. Couldn't make any dinner clothes out of that one, could you?
When Jackie places two birthday candles on top of the makeshift table and starts to light them, the Doctor rushes over and snatches the lighter out of her hand. "Jackie!" he howls in anger. "What in Rassilon's name do you think that you're doing?
Overly familiar with the Doctor's constant mood swings, Jackie ignores his outburst and tries to reclaim the lighter while stating, "Look mate, I don't know who this Rassilon is but I need that lighter back so I can light the candles." When he refuses to relinquish it, she explains in a huff, "I'm trying to create a romantic mood, here."
"A romantic mood?" squawks the Doctor incredulously. "This isn't romance; it's a tragedy in the making!"
Unable to avoid overhearing the ruckus that the Doctor was making, Rose walks out of the kitchen to investigate the latest squabble between him and her mum.
"Oi, you two! What's all the shouting about?"
Before Jackie can proclaim her innocence, the Doctor jumps in and claims, "Jackie's trying to kill Han and Leia!"
"What?" exclaims Jackie at the same moment that Han pulls out his laser pistol and trains his sights on her. "What nonsense are you spouting now?"
"Nonsense?" repeats the Doctor in an offended tone while Pete tries to get Han to stand down. "What exactly do you think would happen to them Jackie, if I had let you light those candles, hmmm?" When he receives nothing but a glower in way of a reply, he stares at her as if she had dribbled on her shirt and expounds, "They would melt."
"Melt from what?" demands Jackie angrily. "Two little birthday candles?"
"They're tiny little plastic dolls, Jackie!" A blast of laser fire shoots between the two bickering adults. The Doctor spares Han a quick glare before he amends, "I mean plastic action figures and what might seem like nothing to you could be very dangerous for them! Honestly, what on Earth were you thinking? Your idea of romance is basically the equivalent of the angry villagers chasing down Frankenstein with torches!"
Both Pete and Rose's eyes widen dramatically as they take a step back as Jackie steps right into the Doctor's personal space and starts jabbing him in the chest with her finger. "Now you look here, you arrogant little alien so and so, I'm getting sick and tired of you comparing me to Universal Monsters! First it was King Kong and now it's Frankenstein!"
Beginning to sense the danger that he has unwittingly placed himself in, the Doctor utters a timid reply as he slowly pushes her finger away from him. "Actually, Jackie, Frankenstein was a Universal monster, King Kong was made by RKO."
"Seriously, Doctor?" voices Rose in total disbelief. "That's the best defense that you can come up with?"
"Also," he continues in a stronger voice, "I wasn't comparing you with Frankenstein. In this scenario you would be the angry villager with a torch and they," he points to Han and Leia, who has just entered the room, would in fact be the Monster that Dr. Frankenstein created in his lab."
The room falls silent at the Doctor's explanation and he is unsure if it is due to unwavering acceptance of his brilliant analogy or if they are quietly plotting ways to cause him irreparable harm. "Ow!" yelps the Doctor when Leia throws a toothpick at him spear-like fashion. So, irreparable harm it is then.
Jackie strides over to Leia and congratulates her with, "Well done you!" as she high fives her with her finger. Leia happily returns the gesture and turns to the Doctor with a smug grin before taking Han's hand and leading him to their table.
Tony pops out of the kitchen to drop something off next to Han's chair and offers him two thumbs up before he disappears again. Seeing that the flurry of activity has finally settled down, Jackie instructs everyone into the kitchen for tea before she enters the kitchen with Pete right behind her.
Rose is about to follow as well when the Doctor tugs on her arm and leads her into a private alcove in the dining room. "Rose," he intones gravely, "Pete told me something very interesting during our talk, something I was never aware of."
At her quizzical glance, he states sadly, "He said that you had thought you were beneath me and I never even realized it. I never once in a million years thought that, Rose. You don't still think that, do you?"
A sad expression briefly crosses Rose's face at the memory of that time before it promptly vanishes to be replaced by a warm smile. "I did think that, Doctor, once, a long time ago, back when you first regenerated and for a little while after that but I don't think that anymore."
Her brow crinkles as she tries to figure out the exact wording for what she wants to express. "That you, when you were that you, was so desperate to push me away. But this you, the one who doesn't have to worry about the weight of the universe and me withering and dying, knows exactly where I want to be, where I need to be, and right where I belong."
"And where's that, Rose Tyler?" he asks, full well knowing the answer.
"Right alongside you," she replies without a trace of doubt. "Not beneath you and not on a pedestal, but right here, right by your side."
"That's exactly right, Rose Tyler!" declares the Doctor proudly with his manic grin. "Correctamundo!" He pulls a face of disgust and questions, "Why do I keep saying that?" He shakes his head free to clear it and pulls her closer as he whispers, "However you are absolutely correct and I can never apologize enough for not realizing that simple fact sooner, in any body."
"That's alright," she states as she nuzzles her nose against his, "I happen to be rather fond of this particular body."
"Oh yes?" he asks throatily. "And why is that? Is it the foxiness, the slimness?" He unexpectedly pulls her tight against him while he waggles his eyebrows. "The endurance?"
She throws back her head in laughter before leaning up into his kiss and murmuring, "Something like that." Their kiss is sweet, passionate and tender and over much too soon when they are interrupted by Jackie clearing her throat from the kitchen doorway.
"Do you two mind? Some of us are getting ready to eat. Now get a move on before everything turns crap." She pushes off from the doorway and leaves the lovers staring at her in disgruntled exasperation.
"Before it turns crap?" quizzes the Doctor. "Does that mean that she's ordered out instead of cooking herself?" Rose bumps his shoulder in both chastisement and amusement before they hurry into the kitchen and seat themselves at the table.
"Well, this is nice," pronounces Jackie as she gazes lovingly at her family, "us all being gathered together for dinner."
"Yes," agrees the Doctor, "even if you are the one who's cooking the meal."
The Doctor remains completely unfazed by Jackie's glare as Rose steps hard on his foot and asserts, "I think what the Doctor meant to say, Mum, is that even if you had to go to all this trouble by cooking this lovely meal."
"Yeah, right," mutters Jackie and the Doctor in mutual sarcasm.
Jackie glowers at the Doctor while suggesting, "Anyway, I was thinking that it's been far too long the five of us sat down together ever since you moved out and how lovely it would be if we all went for a day out sometime, maybe to the countryside."
"Oh, that sounds brilliant, Mum! I can't remember the last time we went out to the country!" enthuses Rose. She turns to the Doctor and inquires, "What do you think, Doctor?"
"Molto bene!" he marvels. "What a first-rate idea, Jackie! After being cooped up in the Torchwood offices the past couple of weeks, an outing in the country is just what we need! And to show my good faith in your admirable plan, I'll even drive us all out there in the Citroen!"
A hush falls over the table as three uncomfortable and knowing Tyler glances are exchanged much to Tony's confusion and the Doctor's irritation. "Why does everyone always go so quiet when the Doctor offers us a ride in his car?" inquires Tony innocently. "I love riding in his car!" When the Doctor beams at him, he expounds, "It's like riding on a roller coaster!"
The Doctor's smile falls as quickly as the bark of laughter that resonates from Jackie. She wipes her eyes as she faces the Doctor and chuckles, "I'm sorry, love, but it's true. Tony's the only one of us that can stand riding in the Daftmobile."
Seeking to avoid a fight at the dinner table, Pete clears his throat to stifle his laughter and remarks, "So, Doctor, I've been meaning to ask you how you're coming along with the car since our driving lessons."
"Well, it was slow-going at first," admits the Doctor with a tug on his ear while he shoots one last glance of disregard towards Jackie as she wears a knowing smirk, "but I think that I've finally started to accustom myself to a manual transmission."
"I don't understand that," states Jackie in befuddlement. "I thought that you told us that you had a stick shift when you lived on Earth. What did you call it? Betty?"
"That's Bessie," replies the Doctor with a sniff of disdain. "And, yes, she was a manual as well. Unfortunately, when you regenerate you not only gain certain traits and preferences, but you also tend to lose some previous skills that you may have happened to have mastered in your previous life."
"Oh," muses Jackie in understanding. Then with a shrewder gaze she questions, "That's basically just doubletalk for saying that you're too old to remember, isn't it?" At the Doctor's affronted gasp, Jackie soothes, "No worries, love, it happens to the best of us."
"Mum!" chides Rose with a hint of cheekiness in her tone, "Don't be ridiculous, the Doctor's not old!" When the Doctor nods smugly in affirmation, Rose teases, "He's just too lazy to want to relearn how to drive a stick." She holds her hand up to stop any argument. "It's true and you know it! I've seen those plans that you've drawn up, trying to figure out how to build a TARDIS console into the car's interior and muttering about how 'levers and switches are so much easier than these useless gears'."
"But they are!" whines the Doctor in a petulant tone. "Why can't a planet that's brilliant enough to invent edible ball bearings create a car with a minimum inertia hyperdrive?"
"I don't know," answers Tony seriously, "but you forgot to answer Dad's question. How's your driving?"
"Thank you for reminding me, Tony," deadpans the Doctor. "You've been most helpful this evening."
"You're welcome," asserts Tony while nodding agreeably, happy to contribute to his share of the dinner conversation.
"My driving is actually going quite well, thank you. Quite well," assures the Doctor as he gestures at Pete. "However, if my word isn't good enough for you then I'm sure that Pete will be more than happy to vouch for me."
Pete's eyebrows rise as if to ask, 'Who me?', while the Doctor takes the opportunity to praise his own driving skills. "Seven bodies later and I've still got it. Go ahead, Pete, and regale the women with tales of my expertise."
"There's so many different ways that I can respond," stalls Pete. "I simply don't know where to start."
Oblivious to Pete's terse reply, the Doctor stares off into space and ponders, "Yes, I can see your problem. I excel at so many things…" Suddenly, he slaps his hands down on the table and exclaims, "I know! Tell them about how proficiently that I reverse the car and how quickly that I mastered working the brake and accelerator!" He turns to the women with a haughty gleam in his eyes and opines in a superior tone, "Frankly, I was brilliant."
"Oh, really?" questions Jackie in mild astonishment. "Because from what Pete told me, "You were more rolling downhill backwards than reversing, that is if your girlish screams were anything to go by. And as for your skill with the brake and accelerator," she interrupts herself with a gleeful cackle, "Pete said that he hasn't been jerked around that much since the last Vitex board meeting."
The Doctor silently engages Pete in a staring contest until the Tyler patriarch relents and offers, "I'm sorry, but she asked me how your lessons were going and I went with the truth. Oh, look!" he points at the doorway in an effort to derail the Doctor's oncoming rant. "Han and Leia are back!"
All eyes fix on the couple who appear to be newly engaged, judging by the strawberry ring pop that Leia is dragging behind her. The Doctor eyes Tony curiously and inquires, "Is that what you gave to Han earlier? A ring pop?"
Tony grimaces before explaining, "It's all that I could find! I tried to pull the ring off of Jenna's nurse doll this morning but that's when Luke soniced her to life and she wouldn't let me have it!"
"Wait a minute!" realizes Rose as she gazes at Tony accusingly. "You just said, 'soniced to life', meaning you were there watching it happen! You little monkey! You've know about Han and Leia having the Doctor's sonic screwdriver all of this time!"
Tony's eyes are as wide as saucers as he stares back at his family while they patiently await his explanation. The mind of a child is a complex thing. It is bright, full of colors, sounds, and wonder encased with the memory of familiar scents and soothing touch. The stimulation of these combinations frequently leads a child to follow a trail of curiosity and gives them the urge to explore. It is this very series of events that has found Tony Tyler in his current predicament. Pondering his actions, considering the results and their consequences, he reveals the true essence of a child in the formation of one thought. Uh oh.
A blind panic settles over Tony as he worries over the various repercussions coming from so many family members all at once. Overwhelmed with fear, he blurts out, "The Doctor was talking about sex in Dad's office and how he's really, really good at it!"
"What?" simultaneously gasps the Doctor and Rose.
"What?" growls Jackie as she jumps out of her chair.
Pete leans over and pushes Jackie back down into her seat and clarifies, "It came up during our discussion, Jacks. At your request, remember?" Then he points his finger at Tony and scolds, "And don't you go changing the subject, young man!"
"So you want to talk about sex?" asks Tony in shock.
"No!" squeaks Pete in a panic rivaling Tony's former state.
"Good," breathes Tony in a sigh of relief. His eyes light up with excitement when he suggests, "Let's talk about our picnic! I think that we should all go in the Doctor's car!"
"I don't know, sweetheart," answers Jackie sternly, not once taking her gaze off of the Doctor. "I don't like riding in that car, the backseat's always sticky." She includes Rose in her sights when she notices them both flushing with embarrassment. In a more rumbling tone, she asks, "Anything that you can think of that would be causing that?"
Multiple replies fly out of the table residents' mouths. "Soda pop…ice cream…marshmellows!"
Four sets of eyes pin a nervously shifting Pete down while Rose questions, "Marshmellows, Dad? Really?"
"Yes," insists Pete with a snarl, "marshmellows is a perfect example of something sticky. Something that doesn't lay immediate blame on the two of you," he stares down Rose and the Doctor and they shrink back in their seats, "and something that doesn't cause me to have a conversation with my son that I'm not ready for." He rubs his temples when he begins to feel a slight throbbing behind his eyes. "Give me a corporate takeover, an alien invasion, a society party…but this? This talk I am not ready to have just yet."
"What talk, Dad?" asks Tony. "You mean about sex?" The entire table stills at his question with the exception of Han and Leia who have discreetly left the room at Tony's inquiry. "You don't have to tell me about sex."
"Oh, thank goodness," smiles Pete gratefully.
"You don't have to tell me because the Doctor told me all about it last week," relates Tony amiably.
"What?" cries everyone at the same time.
"What in heaven's name are you talking about, Tony Tyler? I have never once had that discussion with you!" defends the Doctor.
"Oh, yes you did!" retorts Tony firmly. "It was just last week when you were watching television and you started telling me all about sex. You told me about different species and customs and very…very…," Tony's face scrunches up as he tries to remember the word, "variations! I didn't understand all of it and what I did understand was pretty gross."
"Oh. Oh no," moans the Doctor. "I thought that I was talking to Rose. I was so engrossed in the program that when I caught a glimpse of blonde hair out of the corner of my eye that I thought that I was talking to Rose!" He hazards a peek at a furious Jackie Tyler and a not too happy Pete and drops his head into his hands. "Oh…no, no, no, no, no!"
"Well, just when I thought you couldn't top the night of our first family dinner together, you go and prove me wrong," comments Rose in exasperation.
"Shut up, Rose," begs the Doctor, "and help me out of this mess!"
"And how am I supposed to do that, then?" demands Rose. "Let's face it, mate. Your only way out of this is the Dimension Canon and I had that dismantled right after we came back!"
"You idiot!" hisses Jackie in her fiercest tone while staring daggers at the Doctor. She faces Tony and instructs, "Since you've finished eating, you can go right upstairs to your room and think about what you've done until I can come up with a proper punishment."
Tony shuffles off with a sullen face until he reaches the kitchen doorway. "Okay, but I'd just like to say one more thing. When you think about my punishment, I want you to consider this. What's worse? Is it me bringing together a family of action figures or the Doctor telling me about the 'rutting of the apes'?"
With a final pout, Tony states, "I leave it to you to decide." He walks out of the room bearing a smirk that his mother would be proud of while thinking, That'll teach him to ruin Christmas.
When Tony has gone, the Doctor peeks out between his fingers and asks resignedly, "Are you going to slap me now?"
"No," denies Jackie calmly, although she still carries a bit of fire in her eyes.
"You're not?" verifies the Doctor, carefully edging back just in case she's luring him into a false sense of security. When she doesn't lunge for him or otherwise make any other move, he leans back and relaxes into his chair and turns a hopeful gaze on her. "Is it because we're going to be family in the legal sense as well as how we are now or is it because we've made such great strides in our relationship that we're far past the point of resolving our issues with physical violence?"
Jackie merely stares back at him wearily as she massages her hands and replies, "It's because my hands hurt from making those tiny little clothes."
"Oh," responds the Doctor flatly before brightening up considerably. "Well, as long as I'm still avoiding a Tyler slap!" When Rose elbows his side, he quiets down and admits, "Although, it would be a rather well deserved one. Sorry about the rutting of the apes thing and all."
Pete is about to graciously accept the Doctor's apology when the roar of Godzilla bellows from Tony's bedroom and practically deafens them all. "That kid!" grouses Jackie. "I don't know how many times that I've told him to keep that television set turned down!" Jackie watches as her husband pales and shuts his eyes as he starts rubbing his head again. "What's wrong with you?"
"Jacks," declares Pete slowly, "Tony doesn't have a television set in his room right now. He's been having problems with the reception lately so I dropped it off at the repair shop this morning." As the light of realization begins to dawn in the other's eyes, Pete asks tiredly, "Doctor, by any chance did you leave your sonic lying around, again?"
Feeling an empty pocket, the Doctor rises from the table and heads for the door vowing, "Jackie, Pete, I'll take care of this. It's an easy fix, I swear!" He heads off at a run towards the stairs and doesn't stop his mad dash until he reaches Tony's bedroom. Laughing aloud at the scene before him, the Doctor leans against the doorjamb and watches in amusement.
Tony has taken the liberty of not only sonicing Godzilla to life, but the Hoth from his Star Wars playset as well and both Han and Luke are racing them across the room. Ah, he muses happily, life on the slow path, it's never boring.