Title: Ransom for a Time Lady
Summary: The TARDIS kicks the Doctor out and into an alien market, where he runs into a familiar face. Before they can have a joyful reunion, however, trouble strikes, and the Doctor has to save her before it's too late.
Author's Note: JE left the Doctor all by himself, and if there's one thing I can't stand, it's a depressed Doctor. Steven Moffat made the brilliant decision to revive Jenny at the end of "The Doctor's Daughter" with the intent of bringing her back later in the series (something I still hope for because she's thoroughly awesome). In the meantime, I thought I'd use her to perk the Doctor up in the aftermath of JE.
A/N 2: Huge thanks to Tari, who helped me get unstuck when I felt like I was spinning my wheels on this story. She helped me solidify plot points and clarify bits that felt vague to me. She just might be crazier than me, so that makes brainstorming with her all the more fun!
It was quiet. Too quiet. Even the TARDIS seemed melancholy, her hum pitched lower than usual. She had tried to comfort the Doctor after they left Donna, but in truth, she missed the snarky redhead too. In the aftermath of defeating Davros and the Daleks, everything had happened so fast, but now it was starting to hit. Martha was off living her own life, joined by Mickey, interestingly enough; Jack was rebuilding what remained of Torchwood Three after it had been attacked by the Daleks; Rose was living her life in Pete's World with the Metacrisis Doctor; Sarah Jane had returned to her son; Donna was oblivious that he even existed. Once again he was alone with his thoughts.
And they were bleak thoughts, indeed. Maybe Davros had been right. Maybe he did turn people into weapons. The TARDIS hummed angrily in response to this, mad at him for even considering such a thing. If anything, he made people better. Just look at Jack: the Doctor had turned him from confidence games to saving the earth. Things could have ended much differently if he hadn't been there when the Doctor had been shot.
The TARDIS knew she had to do something to distract the Doctor before his thoughts turned much darker. With that in mind, she set off through the Vortex, throwing the Doctor to the grating of the control room as she flew. Several planets would fit her purpose, but she was drawn to one by a timeline she hadn't noticed before and she knew the Doctor hadn't even considered. That was where she needed to take him, and she landed discreetly in an empty alleyway. It took several rather forceful mental nudges, but she eventually got the Doctor off the floor and out the door, but not before receiving several colorful Gallifreyan curses.
Once outside, the Doctor took a moment to look around. The TARDIS had landed on Picon 3, a planet that was made up of a single city, most of which was a sort of market place. Specialty products from over a dozen planets could be found here. Shoving his hands deep in his pockets, the Doctor made his way down the street, passing vendors without really seeing them.
He didn't really want to be there, but the TARDIS had made it clear she didn't want him back until he was in a better frame of mind. She was sad enough without his depression adding to it. His face creased in a frown at this. He had been so caught up in his own melancholy that he hadn't even noticed the TARDIS had been upset as well. She had loved Rose almost as much as he had, in her own way—always humming cheerfully when the pink and yellow girl was on board—and she had been quite fond of Donna, as well. She had taken a while to warm to Martha, but even the med student had been okay eventually. Then, of course, there was Jack, Mickey, and Sarah Jane. The TARDIS had had to say goodbye to so many of her favorite people recently, and the Doctor hadn't even tried to comfort her because he was so busy wallowing in his own grief.
That would not do. The two of them had been through too much together for him to abandon her like that. He couldn't shut her out. She was now all he had left in the universe, literally. He knew he would never fully recover from what had happened, but he could at least cling to her, and together they would keep their lost loved ones alive in their memory. Deciding to take at least some interest in the market and people around him, he began to look to see if there was anything that the TARDIS might like—an olive branch, as it were.
He had been out for almost an hour when a flash of blonde caught his eye. His hearts clenched as he thought of bringing Rose to a similar market, right before the Battle of Canary Wharf. Almost against his will, his eyes sought out the blonde head, and saw its owner discussing a brightly colored sarong-type article of clothing with a vendor. Something the seller said made her laugh, and the lilting sound drifted over to him, rooting his feet in place. Memories of tunnels, a laser grid, and a seven-day war drifted to the front of his mind, but as much as he might wish it otherwise, the blonde was not his daughter. Jenny was yet another person he had lost.
Knowing that standing there was not doing him any good, the Doctor swallowed past the watermelon-sized lump in his throat and turned to walk away. However, she turned first.
He had finally snapped. That was the only explanation he could come up with for what he saw. He had reached the maximum that a Time Lord mind could handle, and he was losing it. She was dead. She had jumped in the way when Cobb tried to shoot him. He had left her body on Messaline to be interred by the human and Hath soldiers-turned-colonists. He kept repeating this to himself as her face lit up at seeing him and she turned and ran towards him, throwing her arms around his neck and clinging to him when she was within reach.
"Dad!" she whispered, and he could feel his neck getting wet from her happy tears, he could feel the weight of her hanging on his neck, he could feel the slightly-cooler-than-human temperature of a Time Lord radiating from her body.
He could feel the physical evidence of her being there, but his head refused to believe it. Jenny could feel his hesitation and drew back, concern written all over her face.
"Dad, it's me, Jenny," she said. "Don't you remember me?"
"Of course I remember you, you're my daughter," he replied adamantly, struggling to maintain his voice.
"Then what's wrong? Aren't you happy to see me?" she asked, fighting the tears forming in her eyes.
"You're dead," he answered, shaking his head as his voice cracked; on top of everything else, he really didn't think he could deal with seeing his dead daughter. Maybe it was finally time to call it quits.
"No, no, I came back," she argued, grabbing him as he moved to step away. "After you left, I don't know exactly what happened, but I came back to life. I took one of the shuttles from the ship and started traveling, just like you. Hoping I'd find you again, at some point."
As she spoke, his mind ventured out, automatically seeking out some familiar presence. He was still close enough to feel a faint hum from the TARDIS, but a second presence made itself known. It was unfocused, but it was the distinct feel of a Time Lord mind. He had been too busy before to realize that she had acquired his mental abilities as well as his second heart. She probably didn't know, either, but there would be time for that later.
Several tears escaped as he pulled her into bone-crushing hug. He wasn't sure if he could fully accept her as his daughter again, but right then, he didn't care. For once, the universe had given something back to him, instead of just taking.
Eventually, he managed to reign in his emotions and pull back and look at her properly. Her hair was a little darker and longer, and she wore a white button-up blouse, khaki cropped pants, and sandals instead of the soldier's fatigues she had been "born" in. The sparkle in her eye remained, though.
"You look fantastic," he said with a warm smile, bringing a blush to her cheeks.
"Thanks," she replied, taking in his features in return. He looked older than she remembered, as if he had aged several years in the months it had been since she had last seen him. She kept this to herself, though, somehow knowing it was not something he particularly wanted to talk about. She wasn't sure how she knew, she just did.
"So what are you doing here?" she asked instead.
"My ship kicked me out," he said. "Long story, but I haven't been in the best of moods lately, so she came here and kicked me out until I was in a better mood."
"Your ship kicked you out?"
"To be honest, I can't really blame her," he shrugged.
"There is so much I have to learn about you," Jenny said in awe.
"No time like the present. I know a little café not too far that has the best milkshakes in this galaxy," he suggested, offering his arm, which she took eagerly, slinging her bag over her other shoulder.
Across the street, both Time Lords were unaware they were being observed. The man watched as they headed down to a small café, reporting their location to his partner over his communicator. They would follow and watch and wait for their opportunity to move in. If there was anything their past endeavors had taught them, it was patience.