Author's Notes: I do not own Doctor Who, the Doctor, Donna, anything that I'm about to use in this story which I suspect will be a lot. I thought I would surprise you all with another chapter without some injury delaying it for a week. This is the sequel to First Impressions and Running Parallel and is of course, part of the Regarding Mrs Smith universe. Anyway, let me know what you think and happy reading!
A/N Update as of 8/7/12: Due to some requests and confusion, I have added a crib sheet for the kids to my profile page at the very bottom of the bio, if you need it.
"Can we go home yet?," Rhys asked Gwen.
"Not while there's ginger Time Baby kidnappers about," said Gwen.
Rhys had been in the Hub all night. He had hoped that he and Gwen would be leaving at some point. Instead, he had been stuck here all night while things grew increasingly weirder.
An alarm sounded.
"What is it now?," Rhys asked.
"Disturbance in the Rift," Gwen said, heading towards a computer. The CCTV cameras popped up showing a woman in a black leather suit with an eyepatch.
"What fancy dress party is she going to?," asked Rhys.
"I don't think she's from here," said Gwen. "There's something different about her."
Gwen walked to the weapons locker and took out a gun.
"What do you think you're doing?," shouted Rhys.
"I'm taking her in, obviously," said Gwen, walking out the door. "Why don't you go pop the kettle on, sweetie?"
Rhys sighed and went to follow Gwen outside.
It had been twenty one years since Cassandra Austen had seen a blue box in the family sitting room.
It wasn't the sort of sight one was likely to forget.
So, she was not surprised when a man with floppy hair and a tweed coat stepped out of the box.
"But I'm bored!," she heard a boy whine.
"You're in a time machine! How can you be bored?," a woman answered.
The floppy haired man shut the door.
"Never travelled with human children before. I can see why now. The batteries on his PSP- whatever that is- ran out an hour ago and he's been intolerable." He paused. "Are you Jane Austen?"
"No," said Cassandra.
"Absolute rubbish this navigation system. I'll have to have a chat with the Oracle. Anyway, thanks for your help."
He turned to leave and another man came out of the box.
"Doctor!," exclaimed Cassandra.
"Oh, no, I'm not the Doctor," he said. "John Smith."
"But you look just like him..." she trailed off, recalling the bizarre answer Mrs. Smith had given her in Mister Fitzwilliam's house ages ago. "You are his duplicate? Mrs. Smith tried to explain."
"Mrs. Smith?," asked John. He paused. "Donna! Do you mean Donna? Ginger woman? Talks a lot?"
"Likes slapping people?," asked the man in the tweed.
"Yes," said Cassandra. "She and the Doctor were our guests for a few days."
"Donna," said John. "She must have recovered from the metacrisis."
The Doctor turned to look at Cassandra. "Were there two girls?"
"Zara and Chloe?," asked Cassandra.
"Who are Zara and Chloe?," asked John.
"The Doctor and Mrs. Smith's daughters, of course."
John suddenly felt stung. He hadn't known their names. Children he almost considered his and he hadn't known their names.
"No, not the Doctor's children. Two other girls," said the Doctor.
"Miss Lydia and Miss Georgiana?," she asked.
"Yes!," the men cried in unison.
"Yes. The Doctor mentioned others might come looking for them."
"Did he say anything else?," asked the Doctor.
"He spoke to my sister last, but she is quite ill."
Cassandra showed them upstairs. The curtains had been drawn and Jane laid in her bed.
Cassandra sat at her bedside. "Jane, we have visitors."
"Hello, I'm the Doctor and this is John Smith."
Jane's tired eyes widened. "I do not believe it. He was right. All those years ago."
"What do you mean?," asked John.
The breeze blew softly as the Doctor walked with Jane in the garden.
"Someday, you might write a story about all this," said the Doctor.
Jane scoffed. "I could never turn this into the nonsense that I write."
"It won't be nonsense, though. You're brilliant, you are. You study people, you understand who they really are beneath everything."
"I do no such thing."
"Well, try me. What do you make of me?"
"Is this to be a new parlor game?," she snapped.
Jane stopped walking and looked at the Doctor. "You have a great deal of fear which you try to hide beneath displays of your knowledge and jokes. Your wife is the only one who knows the truth of this and therefore, you fear her loss most of all."
The Doctor paused. "See, there you have it."
"And what am I to do in this book?"
"Lydia and Georgiana, their parents will be looking for them. They'll want to know they're safe. Just give their names to two of your characters."
"And how will this help their parents?"
"Trust me," he said.
"How long ago did they leave?," the Doctor asked Jane.
"It has been twenty-one years," Cassandra answered as jane was consumed by a coughing fit.
The Doctor and John walked back downstairs to the TARDIS.
"We can't go back," said the Doctor. "We can't cross into established events."
John nodded. "We should have come earlier."
"I know, but the TARDIS takes us where she wants," said the Doctor.
John chuckled. "Know that one." He paused and looked at the TARDIS. "Doctor, have you noticed something?"
The Doctor looked at the TARDIS. "No. What?"
"The TARDIS is blue."
"Well, of course it's blue! The chameleon circuit is broken!"
"It doesn't have a chameleon circuit!"
"What?" The Doctor looked at the new TARDIS and realized it no longer resembled a large gourd, but was now a blue police box. "How did that happen?"
"No idea," said John.
They walked inside the TARDIS to find Donna and the Oracle waiting impatiently. Mayantha stood at the console. Josh and Ella sat on the floor with books.
"Well?," asked Donna.
"They aren't here and we can't go earlier," said the Doctor.
"I told you I didn't want to go to New Mars," said Donna.
"Sorry," said the Oracle. "We didn't mean for that to happen."
"Navigational error," said the Doctor.
"I can understand that," said Donna. "What I don't understand is why we had to stay and stop the civil war. If you get off in the wrong place, why don't you just get back in the TARDIS and try again?"
The Doctor, the Oracle, Mayantha and John exchanged glances, the idea having never occurred to any of them.
"So," said the Doctor, turning to John, "where do we look for him?"
John grimaced. He knew there was only one place the Doctor and Donna were guaranteed to show up. "Chiswick."
"Chiswick!," the Doctor exclaimed.
"What's Chiswick?," asked Josh.
"Chiswick?," asked Donna. "You brought me to a parallel world to go to Chiswick? I haven't been to Chiswick since I was eight years old."
John nodded. "Donna's, well, this Donna's mother and grandfather live in Chiswick. She'll want to visit them."
"Hold on. Her grandfather?," asked Donna.
"Wilfred," John answered.
Donna was stunned. "He's alive? Oh, my God."
"Next stop, Chiswick," said the Oracle. "John, will you put in the coordinates?"
John nodded and stepped forward to the console.
"Oh, by the way," the Doctor said to the Oracle, "the TARDIS is blue now."
On her TARDIS, Donna walked into Zara's nursery carrying Chloe. The TARDIS had given Georgiana a cot next to Zara's and seemed determined that the two would share the room. This was just as well because Donna had her work cut out for her just walking between the two rooms a billion times a day, a third would be out of the question. She was also starting to worry about Lydia. She knew the girl needed help of some sort.
She was then pleasantly surprised to find that Zara and Georgiana were sitting in front of Lydia on the floor of the nursery. They had out the Gallifreyan letter spheres and was playing some sort of game with them. She would hold one up, then look at Zara, who handed her another one and then Georgiana handed her another. Lydia looked up in surprise at Donna.
"Don't stop on my account," said Donna, taking a seat in the rocking chair. "What are you doing?"
Lydia's eyes widened. "You mean you don't know?"
"No," said Donna, "I don't speak Gallifreyan."
"Well, it's easy, really," said Lydia. She held up the first sphere and said its name in Gallifreyan. Zara held another up proudly. "I say one, then Zara picks the sound that comes next and then..." she smiled as Georgiana handed her another sphere, "...then Georgiana hands me the next sound and we go around until we've made a word and in this case we have." She clacked the spheres together and spoke the word as she did.
Donna frowned. "Is Georgiana really learning that quickly?"
"Yes," said Lydia. She pointed at the ceiling. "Your TARDIS has been playing educational films for her."
Donna looked up. There was indeed some sort of film being projected with Gallifreyan letters colliding against each other onto the ceiling.
"Mummy, play!," said Zara.
"Oh, I think Mummy will have as much fun just watching you," said Donna.
"You could learn, you know," said Lydia. "It's not very difficult."
"You're a Time Lady," said Donna. "All I see when I look at them is a bunch of circles."
"It seems like that at first, then it just clicks."
"But didn't you learn when you were a baby?," asked Donna.
"No," said Lydia, "well, a little, but I learned most of it when I was six. I spoke English until then."
"When the Silence took you?," asked Donna.
"Yes," said Lydia. So, I didn't properly learn Gallifreyan until I came home." She looked down and started gathering up the letter spheres.
"Play more!," said Georgiana.
"I think Lydia might be tired, sweetheart," said Donna. "Why don't we go to the kitchen and get a snack?"
Lydia excused herself and Donna helped Zara and Georgiana toddle along to the kitchen. She put Chloe in her carrier on the table and then put the two older girls in their high chairs. Then Amy burst in.
"You have got to talk to your husband," said Amy. "He's being completely unreasonable!"
"What?," asked Donna as she sliced a banana.
"Doctor!," exclaimed Martha in the corridor.
The Doctor and Martha came in.
"Donna! Talk to them!," said the Doctor.
"About what?," asked Donna.
"The clothes," he said.
Donna groaned. The Doctor had insisted upon getting Lydia some suitable clothes and since she couldn't take the girls out of the TARDIS, Donna had deputized Martha and Amy to find a suitable wardrobe for a fifteen year old girl on their quick stop at the shopping mall planet. The main instruction had been no short skirts because apparently young Time Ladies did not wear short skirts. Or short shorts. Or short anything apparently.
"I saw her this morning," said Donna. "She had on jeans. She looked lovely."
"Did you not notice how tight the jeans were?," he asked.
"They're skinny jeans!," Amy shouted in exasperation.
"Everyone wears them," said Martha.
"Have you noticed how tight your trousers are?," Donna asked the Doctor.
"Ah! Well, that's different!"
"Really?," asked Donna. "How is that different?"
"I'm an adult!"
"She's fifteen," said Amy. "You've got to let her have a little freedom."
The Doctor shook his head. "No, she's fifteen in Time Lord years which in Human years is about Zara's age."
Donna motioned at Zara. "She's wearing skinny jeans."
"Okay, a few things about that," said the Doctor.
"Thought so," said Donna.
"One, they look different on her. Two, when did you start buying Zara skinny jeans? What does she need skinny jeans for?"
"Zara has your toothpick thin legs!," exclaimed Donna. "They're the only ones that fit properly!"
"Which is why we bought them for Lydia in the first place," said Martha.
"It's the same as leggings," said Donna. She put down the plates of banana for Lydia and Georgiana. "Would you rather she wear a burka? God, you're overprotective."
"I am not overprotective!," exclaimed the Doctor.
Jack walked into the kitchen. "Are we still talking about the skinny jeans?"
"You don't get to say anything," said the Doctor.
He crossed his arms playfully. "Can I say that Gwen just called and she thinks she might have someone we're interested in speaking to?"
"Who?," asked the Doctor.
"She calls herself Madame Kovarian of the Silence."