Author's Note: So, here's the next chapter at last. Warning: It is extremely long so if you don't recall what happened in the previous one you might want to refresh your memory. I tried to put a lot into this, so I hope you enjoy it.
For what seemed like hours, the man in the pinstriped suit paced back and forth, his gaze glued to the screens in front of him. His left fist balled up against his thigh as his right hand trudged through his spiky hair.
He'd hardly even spoken in the hours since they'd arrived, a fact that nobody took to be a particularly good sign, especially given the circumstances.
Only Pete and Rose were willing to stand behind the Doctor, ready to deal with any questions or complaints the clever man might have.
The Williams' found themselves situated on a small sofa towards the back of the room where they could still see and hear all that occurred, but also give the others the space they needed at the same time.
"What's he doin'?" Amelia Williams asked, finally breaking the silence. Perched on her lap was Melody, who was apparently growing testy. Beside her sat her husband, a man that seemed very transfixed on the scene before him, much to Amelia's annoyance.
When Rory didn't respond, he received a rather firm nudge from his wife.
"Ow! What was that for?" his tone revealed his confusion.
"You weren't listening to me…" she announced, her voice now more light-hearted.
"Sorry, I was just…I…I…mean…" he muttered incoherently, eyes bouncing between the images on the screens and the woman sitting beside him.
"You're worried about her, aren't you?" Amelia conceded, knowing exactly where her husband's mind lay.
Lacing her fingers through Rory's, she tried to be understanding.
"Yeah. Well, it's kind of weird…I hardly even know River, but there's something about her…I mean, she's in there… enduring pain for our sakes… for our protection…it just…it just doesn't seem right. I don't want her to end up dying or something…maybe it's just my medical instincts kicking in…but...it's almost like…like I have this parental concern…oh, that sounds quite rubbish, considering she's…well, she's much older than me...actually…never mind…forget it…" he stared at the ground, afraid to meet his wife's gaze straight on.
"No, I know what you mean. I feel the same way." The red head confessed.
"Mmm. Hmm. It's like you said…there's something about her, not just what she's doing for us, it's deeper than that. Almost like…I know her from somewhere before…but we've only just met, so I suppose that can't be possible, can it?" Without thinking, Amelia found herself looking down at her precious Melody, who was currently tugging at her shirt.
"Well, with all we've learned in the past five hours, I think I'd probably believe just about anything. All this alternate universe stuff…the Raggedy Man from your dreams turning out to be real… I guess I wouldn't be that surprised if River turned out to know us in her universe, I mean, we know the Doctor there, right? And she knows…well, I think she knows the Doctor…so she must've met us sometime." Rory defined the situation as best he could.
"Maybe…but there's something else that I've noticed …Those guys at Torchwood, they've been calling River Melody Pond. My maiden name was Pond, well, duh, you know that…and obviously our daughter's name is Melody, so what if…what if she's…"
"Related to us? Nah. Too weird. I'd believe a lot of things at this point…but that, well, that's just ridiculous…she and Melody don't look a bit alike…" Rory shrugged, still not soundly terribly sure of himself.
"'Course. Yeah, right, dunno what I was thinking." A moment's pause. "Rory…"
"What…what are we getting ourselves into?" Amelia managed to ask, her voice barely above a whisper.
Her eyes rested on the pensive stances of the Doctor and Pete and also Rose Tyler, who stood behind them, cradling River's newborn in her arms.
"I…I really don't know. But whatever happens…I'll keep you and Melody safe. I can promise that." His voice filled with such conviction that Amelia felt her cheeks burn.
"But what if…" she started, a bit uncertain.
"It'll be fine. I think the Doctor knows what he's doing…I…I trust him…"
"So do I. Not really sure why, though." For a second, Amelia vacantly stared into seemingly nothingness, until her senses suddenly snapped back into gear. "Look at the pair of us, just jabbering on…don't you think we should be helping him—"But when she glanced back at her husband, she realized he'd already gotten up, probably about to do just that.
Moving from her seat, Amelia watched as Rory approached the young blonde.
"What can we do?" Dr. Williams wondered, his thoughts directed at Rose Tyler.
"Right now?" Her arms tightened around River's daughter, as her face grew downcast. "Nothing."
"Seriously though, Rose, with River being treated like that we can't just…"
"I know. Believe me, if the Doctor doesn't start spouting out a plan soon I might just do something drastic…" She annunciated each word in a distinct way, obviously trying to get her husband's attention.
Apparently her tactics weren't too effective, considering the Doctor continued his agonizing pacing without so much as acknowledging her.
Inserting herself into the conversation, Amelia piped up.
"What exactly is he doing?" she repeated her earlier inquiry, her head tilting towards the man who was currently sifting his hands through his hair in frustration.
"Thinkin'. Or at least tryin' to. And he's been awfully quiet ever since we got here, so I'd say it isn't goin' too well." Biting her lip, Rose watched as her husband shot her a quick glance.
"Tell me about it." Her father mumbled, maneuvering away from his son-in-law. "Those screens monitor most of Torchwood's communications, but unfortunately security is limited. Wherever River is right now isn't within range. Which can mean one of two things. Either it's just a plain coincidence or else this is a deliberate move and they suspect they're being watched."
"I'm betting on the latter." A resigned sigh escaped Rose's throat. "Dad? What is it?" Pete's sullen demeanor finally got to her.
"It's just…I think he's still cross with me."
"Well, you did keep him and me in the dark about this for nearly three-and-a-half years so I don't exactly blame him, do you?" Rose snapped, immediately regretting her words as soon as she saw her father's reaction. "Sorry. But you really should've told us."
"I did what I thought was best, Rose, and I don't regret it. You've no idea how dangerous these people are. I couldn't take the risk. This was the safest option." Looking anywhere but her face, Pete Tyler justified his actions.
"Safe?" a sardonic laugh exploded from the front of the room as the human Doctor finally decided to acknowledge his counterparts' existence. He veered closer to his father-in-law, a fierce anger ablaze in his eyes. "This is what you call safe, Pete? In case you haven't noticed, there are a bunch of homicidal maniacs rampant at Torchwood, and you've known about them for what, three-and-a-half years? And somehow you thought that by keeping that very important tidbit of information to yourself, you would be protecting us? Oh, I suspected something was up a long time ago…but without this kind of technology I really couldn't do much about it, now could I? If you had kept me properly informed about this, these idiots would have been dealt with ages back. Now, because you've been so intent on hiding the truth, they're more dangerous than ever. As we speak, a woman who has been through hell and back and doesn't even belong here is putting her life on the line for all of us. But she isn't the only one at risk. Her baby, this innocent child, born only a few days back is being hunted by these monsters, who, let me reiterate, have been my fellow colleagues for, oh, what was it, three-and-a-half years! And who decided to wait until today to explain all of this to me?"
"Doctor, calm down!" Rose demanded, grabbing him by the tie.
"Calm down? How can I calm down when River Song is in there, trying to protect each and every one of us from those brainless morons? If I don't figure out how to get her out of there then before I know it, the last connection to her universe will be severed and she won't be able to get back. That can't happen under any circumstances, because if it does, past me will have never met her, which means she will have never existed and the biological metacrisis may have never come about." Stopping to catch his breath, the Doctor paused a moment.
"All this because of one woman? You're blaming this all on me, Doctor, and I can deal with that, but there's something I don't understand. If River's never been here before than what are the Torchwood people using her for? You're right, I have known about them for a while, and maybe I should've told you sooner, but look, we've got bigger things to consider. I've been monitoring these people for some time, and they've been planning something…way before they ever found this River Song or whatever her name is, which means she's only a small part of a larger scheme. But out of everyone they could've used, why her?"
"She's…well, like I told you before…she's like me. She's a partial Time Lord. And her daughter's nearly full Time Lord."
"What's…what's a Time Lord?" Amelia asked and her husband nodded indistinctly, both clearly confused.
Rolling his eyes, the man in the pin-striped nearly scoffed.
"Are you taking care of this?" he passed the responsibility of explaining onto his wife.
"Why do I…oh, never mind…Amelia, Rory, why don't we just come over here while these two sort out their differences." Drawing them away from the crowd, Rose managed to regain a patience she didn't know she had. Perhaps it was the warm bundle of a baby in her arms that helped to alleviate some tension.
"Oh, you don't have to…" Rory began, seeing their confusion was causing a further conflict.
"No, really, it's fine, I don't mind…"
While the blonde, and the Williams' swerved to the side, the Doctor and Pete continued their adamant conversation.
"Okay, back to this; Doctor, how can she be a partial Time Lord? I thought you were the last of your kind and as for the baby…"
"Yeah…long story…So the original Doctor regenerated and married River Song, the daughter of his companions, conceived in the TARDIS…and they had this baby, who the Doctor apparently doesn't know about. " he pointed to the infant in Rose's arms. "That's the gist of it. Any questions?"
"Yes. What? How do you me—"
"Well…sorry because I don't really have time to explain. It's a long story, very complicated. And honestly, I don't know most of it. Right, then. Pete, I also apologize for snapping at you but as you can see, I'm under enormous pressure at the moment."
"Alright, but…It doesn't make sense." He stated, very matter-of-factly.
"What doesn't make sense? Plenty of things in the universe don't make sense…well, at least relatively speaking..." The Doctor sounded more like his typical self.
"Doctor, stop jabbering on and answer him!" Cutting in, Rose reprimanded her husband.
"Oi! I thought I told you to…"
"Yes, and as you can see, I'm doin' my best. Now what doesn't make sense, dad?"
"Well…among other things…which I won't even begin to consider…my question is this. If they've had access to you all along, Doctor, what makes River Song so special? They could've killed her, but they haven't so I'm assuming they've something else in mind."
"See…that's kind of where I'm stuck…much as I loathe admitting it…because you're right, Pete, if they simply wanted someone with Time Lord DNA, they could have used me, but when they had the chance, they only knocked me out. Now, River's baby, she's very close to being a full Time Lord, so that may be something. What if River's just bait and all this is a trap? Nah. Too simple. Plus, they only discovered those two a few days ago, which means they must have modified their original plan within that time…and somehow River and the child just happen to fit in with…OH."
"Oh? Oh, what?" Amelia quipped, catching on quite quickly after that little discussion with Rose Tyler.
"Doctor?" His wife questioned, perching a brow.
"Oh, don't you see?" Running a hand through his spiky hair, the Doctor finally regained some liveliness.
"No, believe it or not, I don't."
"Oh, Rose. I am thick, so very thickity-thick-thick…"
"Please…Not this again…" she muttered under her breath, no longer in high spirits. "Come on, get on with it! What are you tryin' to say?"
"Pete, you know what I'm thinking don't you? You said it yourself…"
"What? Did I? What do you mean? Doctor?" He furrowed his brows.
"Think about it, Pete, you've been monitoring them all along, but what for?"
"Well, because I suspected that some of 'em were getting dangerous, plotting something…it all started after you and Rose and Mickey showed up in this universe…only a few people seemed suspicious, but the resistance grew, especially after you settled here permanently. I overheard things, feared for your safety…you know…"
"And you built this place. Yes I know. But still, there's got to be something more to this. If you went to all this trouble, then you must have been fairly certain of their intentions. What did you think they were going to do?" His voice gradually reached a crescendo as he became more adamant.
"I…well…with their sudden…interest in you…I thought, well I suspected that they might be planning on killing you, which not only jeopardized your life, but also my daughter's. I hoped that maybe by keeping you oblivious to that I would be able to handle the situation, myself."
"But why would they want to kill me?"
"Because you're an alien, and they saw you as a threat…"
"Okay, slow down, can someone please tell me what is going on?" Amelia feistily demanded, hands on her hips, as Rory held Melody, clearly wondering the same.
"Doctor, the Torchwood people, you keep referring to them as 'they,' but what exactly do you mean? We've worked at Torchwood for years, so how could this group of people have gone unnoticed for that long?" Dr. Williams asserted himself at last.
"They didn't. Pete saw the truth. And I always suspected people could turn on me; that's why I had everyone call me John Smith rather than the Doctor. But I suppose these people are also really good at keeping secrets."
"But what is their intent, Doctor, are they trying to kill you just because you have some alien DNA in ya?" the Scottish cadence rippled through the room.
"No, it can't be that simple. If they'd only wanted to kill me they could've done it ages back. Maybe that was the intention to begin with, but it certainly isn't now. They saw something in me that could be used. They've been using me …because their plan is much deeper than I've ever imagined..." he paused to catch his breath, before continuing his in-depth explanation. "Back at Torchwood, Pete, before you picked us up, as we were leaving, I heard the leader speaking to River. He said that River was an alien threat and some other rubbish. It sounded like he wanted to kill her, but we know from my experience and hers that that's not what they really intend. How would they have even known to monitor River the way they did? She's only been here for a few days…and I'm the only person in this universe who'd ever heard of her, so they couldn't have known who she was to begin with."
Sensing where her husband was going with his rant, Rose chimed in.
"But didn't they give her a blood test or somethin'? And then they placed a tracking device on her to learn more after they figured out she wasn't human. I…I think they must have seen her as a threat."
"Not just a threat, Rose. An opportunity."
"To get exactly what they want."
"And what's that? You?"
"No, I may be part of it, but I'm not the key. We know they've been scheming for a while, but I think there's something else, something vital, that we, or rather, I, have overlooked. Let's think back. How did they find River and her child in the first place?" His hands gestured dramatically, beckoning Rose to answer.
"The readings…at Bad Wolf Bay…they saw that the gateway to reality had reopened. They were worried, so they got you to examine it more closely."
"But why would they need me to examine it? Evidently they've been monitoring that area ever since the Doctor left us here four years ago, perhaps even longer. They may have acted surprised by it, but something else tells me that was all just for show. Torchwood wasn't just monitoring Bad Wolf Bay. They were waiting." He annunciated the last word, trying to make his point clear.
"Yes, waiting! That's exactly why they haven't enacted their plan until now."
"Hold on, if they knew about possibility of the crack re-opening all along, then why did they send for you?" the young blonde couldn't help but wonder.
"Because something unexpected happened." His gaze shifted down to River's baby. "A woman and her infant daughter landed on Bad Wolf Bay. That's why everyone was so panicked. The cracks had reopened, but they hadn't found what they'd been looking for."
"Wh-what, what had they been looking for?" Rose asked.
"Not what, who. After all, who's the one person that unintentionally prompted this Torchwood sedition effort in the first place? Who has been the only person ever to leave this world and go back to the other universe, not just once, but twice? Who was it that you spent all that time trying to find, Rose?"
"Yes, the Doctor. Not me, not a partial-human metacrisis version of him. The last of the Time Lords, the Doctor, the Oncoming Storm. That's who they were waiting for. But that's not who they found is it? They found a woman and her child. Not just any woman, oh no, no ordinary woman could've gotten through to this universe with only a Vortex Manipulator and survived, unscathed. Only someone with incredible strength and stamina and access could have accomplished that. And of course River Song isn't just anyone. She's the Doctor's wife. And not only that, she's the mother of his child. They wanted the Doctor, but they got the next best thing. His wife and daughter. Both nearly Time Lords themselves, and also the perfect bait. After all, what better way to attract the Doctor than to place the lives of his wife and child on the line?"
"But that still doesn't tell us why they want him. And how would the Doctor even know about this Torchwood threat? He doesn't have access to this universe."
"He wouldn't. But let me tell you, if the Doctor is anything, it's not stupid. He'll be smart enough to figure out that something's happened to River and sooner or later he'll find out exactly what that something is. I know River tried to hide the baby from him, but I wouldn't be surprised if he already knows by now. Which must mean that it's only a matter of time before he discovers the truth. Now, if I were him, which I kind of am in a way, and I found out my wife and daughter were stranded in an alternate universe, what would I do? I'd find a way to get to them whether it was possible or not. And that's exactly what those idiots down at Torchwood want. Which is why we're going to prevent that from ever happening." A suspicious gleam flickered in his eye, as a grin crinkled across his face.
"Like this. Allons-y!"
Cringing, the curly haired woman regained her surroundings, slightly chilled by the dark room that she'd been thrust inside and the fact that due to her blindfold, she couldn't see a thing even if she'd wanted to.
How long have I been in here? She wondered, unable to make out any distinct features of the place they'd put her in.
Let's see…I was in that other room…and then they threatened me…but all the rest is a bit of a blur…so they must have given me something to knock me unconscious…obviously they don't want me to have any idea where I am…no comprehension of surroundings means no chance of escape…or so they think…
Recollecting her recent experiences, River began to try to move, only to be constrained by the shackles that fettered not only her wrists but also other parts of her body as well, including her ankles, clutching her even tighter than they had before.
After my little outburst, I suppose these people aren't taking any chances.
Without warning, her arm began stinging, and River realized that they must have been drawing her blood or else injecting her body.
A brief feeling of lightheadedness overcame her, which made her suspect that both actions had been performed.
All this blood-testing, what's it for? They already know who I am. What are they trying to do, then?
She didn't have time to ponder this before a series of heavy footsteps entered her hearing; somewhere in front of her a door slammed open, causing River to jolt in surprise.
"It's time." One man declared to others, his gruff voice anything but promising. "Let the interrogation begin."
"H-How long have I been here?" the woman asked aloud, dreading the response that she might receive.
"Long enough to get yourself in the right frame of mind. We really don't want to have a repeat of this morning's incident, now, do we?" the leader mocked, drawing closer to her with a large gun in hand, ensuring that River Song knew exactly what she was up against.
"No, I suppose not." She replied icily, pretending to go along with whatever they were trying to do.
"Good. Glad to see this psychopath is finally coming to her senses. Now, Miss Song…"
"Yes. Quite right. So… Mrs. Song, we're going to ask you a series of questions. You are going to answer to the best of your ability and as concisely as possible."
"And if I don't?" a bitterness seethed in her tone.
River felt the barrel of a gun placed against her temple. The man bent down closer to her, speaking just above a whisper.
"Oh, I think you know perfectly well what we'd do. Let's just say if you want your daughter and your friends to live then I suggest you do everything I tell you." His callousness made her shudder.
"Why are you doing this?"
"That's for us to know and you to never find out and if you speak out of turn like that again I will not hesitate to use this. Do you understand me?" he pressed the gun further against her head.
Stiffening, River tried her best to keep the quiver out of her voice.
"Yes." It was defying her very nature to not fight back, but in a way she was retaliating because she was protecting the people she cared about the most.
"Good. Now, once again, I have been instructed to ask you a series of questions. You will give me appropriate answers to the best of your ability in a short amount of time."
"Fine. Ask away." Although she intended to sound cool and confident, River couldn't conceal the fear she felt seeping into her tone.
"Oh, and one more thing. Don't even think about lying to us. In here, we have the kind of technology that can detect a lie just by the sound of your voice. So don't play games, Miss Song, you really don't want to do that. Currently your body is not only restrained but also hooked up to a series of wires which will send jolts of electricity straight to your heart if you so choose to defy me and lie. Do you understand, now?"
"Yes, and like I said before, ask away."
"Alright then. You are married to the Doctor, correct?"
"Which incarnation of the Doctor are you married to?"
"The Eleventh. But I'm probably married to future incarnations as well, I don't really…"
"Thank you, but that is all we know for this question. Next one. Have you met the tenth incarnation of the Doctor at any time in the past prior to coming here?"
"Prior to coming here, no." apparently that wasn't the answer the man expected, going by the way he clutched River's wrist.
"I'm not lying. I'm sure your scans can tell you that—"
"Then how could he have recognized you?"
"Because he met a future version of me, you moron, and if you knew anything about my relationship with the Doctor this wouldn't come as a surprise to you." River stated firmly, sarcasm filling her tone.
"Scan her again." he barked to one of his inferiors.
"Confirmed, Sir. Song is telling the truth."
"Off the fly this time, but if I catch you lying to me…well, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it, won't we? You had a daughter with the Doctor, correct?"
"Yes." She bit her lip.
"How much does he know about her?"
"Nothing. I used a perception filter to hide my pregnancy." Her throat closed as she truly realized how much she wished she had told her husband, especially given the possibility that she might never see him again.
"When was she conceived?"
"About nine months ago." Stating the obvious, River refused to give them any insight into her personal life.
"Under what circumstances?"
"Oh, I do think that's pushing it, don't you? Though if you really insist I'd be happy to go into detail…" River's hearty laugh rang in their ears.
"Actually, never mind that. Moving on. Why did you conceal your pregnancy from him?"
For a moment she laid completely still, unresponsive.
"Answer me! Why did you conceal your pregnancy from him?"
With a weary sigh, River submitted.
"Because…because…he's…he's lost so much already…and I can't bear to put him through that again." her eyes grew watery and for once she was actually thankful for the blindfold.
"Has he had children before?"
"Then with who?"
"His first wife back on Gallifrey, thousands of years ago. And if you must know they're all dead." Her heart silently broke for her husband as she considered the immense pain he must cope with having endured that.
"Why did you land at Bad Wolf Bay?" the man asked calmly, and River was glad he'd changed the subject.
"It wasn't intentional. I was frantic to get out of the hospital so I typed in random coordinates into my Vortex Manipulator."
"Why were you frantic to leave the hospital?"
"Because my daughter was in danger."
"The Silence. An organization in my universe that stole me from my parents and raised me as a weapon to kill the Doctor."
"Your parents are Amelia and Rory Williams, also known as Pond, correct?"
"And in this universe, their daughter, Melody, would have been you if your mother had never met the Doctor, correct?"
"And you were conceived in the Doctor's TARDIS, which mutated your DNA, giving you partial Time Lord abilities, correct?"
"Yes. Now why don't you ask me something you don't already know." She shot back, clearly annoyed by the interrogation.
"Are you the Doctor's current companion?"
"Why not? You are his wife, yes?"
"I'm also locked up in a cell nearly all day. But that doesn't mean I don't enjoy my nights with my husband."
"So you do travel with him?"
"Yes. But not in the companion-sense. Well, unless, of course, you're speaking in the s-"
"Ah-hemm…Moving on. Who is the Doctor's companion currently?"
"Clara Oswin Oswald." River revealed, surprised she remembered the girl's name, having only met her a few times in the past.
"Not your parents?"
"No." she shuddered.
"What happened to them?"
"I don't know." Her heart pounded as she spoke. "But it was something big. Something in my future, I think. My husband has not been the same since he lost them." In her mind, River could picture her husband, his darker clothing, and oh, those endlessly sad eyes.
"How long have you known the Doctor?"
"Technically? My whole life."
"How well do you know him?"
A moment's hesitance.
"Fairly well, I'd say."
"Do you know his name?"
"Not yet. But I hope to someday." River explained with a calm assurance.
"Do you love him?"
"Yes. Always and completely."
"Does he love you?"
The question was spoken quietly, and yet somehow it shook River to the very core of her being.
"That depends. Which Doctor are you referring to?"
For a second, she didn't open her mouth, content to remain silent. A dark voice inside her, Melody Pond, the psychopath, taunted River, plaguing her heart with the doubts she battled every day.
Her throat caught.
"I…I…honestly…don't know…" It hurt to admit, but the truth was that River couldn't have been more blatantly honest.
"That answer isn't acceptable. Give it to me straight. Yes or no."
"I…" River started to answer but didn't finish, conflicted by the sight of the young Doctor's face in Utah, the pain that she'd felt as he'd spoken those bitter words without mercy.
'I love a bad girl, me. But trust you? Seriously?'
Those memories flooded her mind, making it impossible to pull out the good bits that she tried to cling to during such painful times.
'I don't wanna marry you.'
But suddenly, amidst the massive storm of chaos that consumed her mind, the image of her husband shone through, flashing like a beacon, a vibrant hope.
'River, whatever you do, don't give up. I… love you… so much, always and completely, and that is not about to change. But you have to stay strong, now, River. Please, just do that for me.'
It was odd, she couldn't even remember him ever saying that, and yet the words returned, calling from the depths of her heart with a firmness that she could scarcely comprehend.
"What is it Song? Yes or no?!" the man practically spat, his fingers digging into her flesh.
Deep down, in the farthest reaches of her soul, she knew with certainty that there was only one honest way to respond. No matter the pain or the lies or the anguish, after all these years of marriage, she couldn't deny the truth.
And then it came, a quiet, hushed whisper, spoken not only to the men surrounding her, but more importantly the one who needed to hear it the most. Herself.
"Doctor, would you like me to put her back in her cot, now?" Novice Pyne asked suddenly, drawing the man in the bow tie out of his silent trance-like state.
"Sorry, what?" was his swift response. His eyes shifted down to the tiny baby that was nestled against his chest, her steady breathing a blissful melody that steadied his hearts if only for a fleeting moment.
"Your daughter…she's asleep now, would you like me to put her back in the cot?" her soft voice was calm and gentle.
"Oh…cot?" a thought quickly occurred to the Doctor. "Wait, I have just the thing for her. But I'd have to get it from the TARDIS." The image of his ancient Gallifreyan cot rippled through his mind, reminding him of a beautiful day long ago, the day he'd discovered the truth about River Song.
He gazed at his daughter's precious features, and couldn't help but see the resemblance to her mother even now.
"Sorry, Novice. Just…just talking to myself." The Doctor's shoulders slumped.
"You said something about getting a cot?"
"Oh, yes, yes. But I'd… I'd have to get it in the TARDIS, and I well, I don't want to leave her." His finger wobbled as he pointed to his baby girl.
"Is the TARDIS still in the lobby?"
"Well…yes. I suppose it is." He stuttered, looking at the nurse straight on.
"That's not far, Doctor. And from what I've seen, you're a gentle man. Why don't you just take her with you, and dematerialize here?"
"But I don't…I don't want to leave my wife either…" His hearts constricted as he glanced over at River's sleeping face in the next room over.
"Nonsense, she'll be fine, Doctor. I'll keep an eye on her. You trust me, don't you?"
"Well, River obviously trusted you enough to deliver our baby, so…yes, I-I do." Snuggling his daughter closer to himself, the man in the bow tie began to move. "But if anything happens to her—"
He spun around to face Novice, who planted a firm hand on his shoulder.
"Doctor, she'll be fine. I promise. Now, please, after all the shocks of the day, I think you need to do something that isn't out of the ordinary. Go to the TARDIS, get that cot, and come back here. Miss Song and I will be waiting when you get back. Alright?"
"Alright. And Novice…"
"Thank you." A sad, crooked smile formed across his face as he turned towards the exit to the room.
She muttered something incoherent in response, but the Doctor didn't hear it. His mind was too focused, too intent of reaching his destination, too determined to protect this tiny bundle in his arms.
And off he went, swerving along hallways that he'd only seen once before; secretly amazed that he had even the faintest idea where he was going.
Hmmm. The Old Girl should be around here, somewhere. Ah, yes!
Finding himself back in the lobby in a matter of minutes, the spaceman slowly made his way toward his box.
He cradled the infant in the crook of his arm, using the other hand to open the doors with the snap of his fingers.
Just the aura of the blue-green light of his beloved TARDIS raised his spirits, at least a little bit, making the Doctor breathe easier.
Almost immediately he noticed the familiar old cot situated right beside the console. In awe of what his ship had done for him, the Doctor sucked in a breath.
"Thanks, Old Girl. You always know just what I need." His TARDIS hummed in response at the sound of her thief's voice.
With that, the Doctor lifted his sleeping daughter ever so carefully into the cot where both he and her mother had slept as babies. Bending down, he planted a light kiss on her forehead, before moving to stroke those soft curls. "Sleep well, my daughter." A lump formed in his throat as he recalled a very different looking man speaking those same words to his children centuries ago. He felt a lone tear slip down his cheek, but quickly rose to wipe it away. "They're gone. Long gone. But…but…at least…after all this time…I still…I still have you… and your mummy. For now, anyway."
His thoughts of the Library and River's sacrifice came souring back into his mind, crushing his hearts in the process.
It was then that a ringing sound suddenly reverberated through the console room, causing the Doctor to jump in surprise.
Startled by the unfamiliar noise, the baby awoke, her cries reaching her Daddy's ears.
"There, there, now, it's just the phone. Daddy's gotcha, little one." He wrapped his hands around her tiny form yet again, bringing her back up to his chest. "And look. Guess where we are?"
The baby made a small gurgling sound.
"That's right! The TARDIS. My TARDIS. What do you think of Daddy's Old Girl?" He gestured to the beautiful interior dotted with bursts of blue, silver, and white, the Gallifreyan-lined top of the console glistening as the centerpiece.
Ignoring the fact that the phone was still buzzing, the man in the bow tie continued talking.
"What? You—you think I should answer my phone? How do you even—oh, never mind. If you insist." His lips quickly touched her cheek as he grabbed the old-fashioned-looking phone.
"Hello?" his voice was uncertain. Who would be calling at a time like this? Wait, what if it was his wife, calling from a future point in time? What if River needed him?
"River?" he asked meekly, wanting nothing more than to simply hear the comforting sound of her voice.
It was rather difficult trying to listen, given the fact that his daughter started tugging at his bow tie.
"Oi! Stop that! I'm trying to find out if this is your mu—"
"Doctor? Who are you talking to?" the Doctor recognized the young woman's voice at the end of the line in an instant.
"Cl-Clara?" he muttered, slightly disappointed that it hadn't been his wife.
"Yes. Clara. Your companion, remember? You dropped me off to do some investigating in Victorian London a few days ago?"
There was a brief wave of silence as the Doctor recalled doing just that, though admittedly for him, it had been weeks, not days.
"Doctor? You alright?"
"Yeah, yeah, I'm fine."
His daughter began to cry again, so the Doctor rocked her back and forth soothingly. "Hush, hush, it's alright, just Clara."
"Wh-what? Wh-who's who?" he tried to avoid her question.
"You were talking to someone. And earlier you said something about your wife. Is that who you're with? River?" Clara supposed, being closer to the truth than she knew.
"Well, not…not exactly." His voice trembled as he spoke.
"Doctor, what is it? What's wrong?"
"Nothing. I'm fine, Clara."
"Clearly you're not. Or you wouldn't sound like that."
"Like what? Like, like what?" he shifted his tone of voice, sounding even more abnormal in the process.
"Like you're hiding something. If you don't start talkin' soon I'm going to call your wife, borrow her Vortex Manipulator and come speak to you face to face." her tone was one of determination.
"You most certainly are not! You—you…that's just…that's ridiculous…you don't even have her number…and you're in Victorian London!"
"So, what? I still carry my mobile. And for your information, River did give me her number last time we saw her. Said I could use it if you ever need her or do something stupid beyond belief." Clara stated, very matter-of-factly.
"What? Why would I do that?" the Doctor scoffed.
"Have ya seen yourself?"
"Oi! Just…Shut up!" it came out of habit, but the Doctor immediately covered his mouth, silently reprimanding himself for saying such a word in front of his daughter. "Sorry." He whispered to his baby, who coed in response.
"Wait, was that a baby?"
"Doctor, I'm a former governess, I know what a baby sounds like." His friend stated dryly.
"B-but…n-no…I d-don't know what you're talking about."
"That obvious, huh? You're even using your lying voice."
"Lying voice? What do you mean?"
"Oh, just the way you sound when you start using that high-pitched tone and spluttering like a bloody idiot and you think you're being convincing but in reality anyone could tell you're lying in a heartbeat."
"I…I do not do that…"
"Yes, you do. In fact, you're doing it right now."
"No, I'm not, stop it, stop—"
"I'm sure River would completely agree. But that's beside the point. My question is this: Why are you trying to hide the fact that you're holding a baby from me?"
Sighing in frustration, the Doctor resigned himself to answer.
"Clara…please; I just…I really don't want to talk about this right now…" his voice began to waiver, and he nearly stumbled over his words.
"I just…I want…I want to help you, Doctor. That's all." A hidden vulnerability shone through Clara's declaration.
"I know. And I appreciate it. But, I can't…I can't talk about it right now. It's just…too…painful…" a sob reached his throat as he gazed down at the newborn baby in his arms.
"Okay. But you're…you're not alone are you? With the baby?"
"No, no, I'm not. Not exactly."
"Is River there?"
"Um…yes…she is…in a way…" he tried to be as honest as he could.
"Good. If anyone could help you, it's her. I've got a feeling you're hiding something major from me. But it's alright, I understand. Just…please look after yourself. And don't…don't wait too long to pick me up. Vastra, Jenny, and Strax are worried about you too. We all are."
"I'm fine, Clara. Really."
"You'll tell me when you're ready, I get it. Goodnight, Doctor."
"And remember, don't wait too long."
"Promise?" her voice was muffled.
"Promise. Cross my hearts. See you soon?"
"Yeah, see ya soon."
"Oh, and Clara?"
"Don't go and get yourself killed while I'm away."
"Why would I do that?"
"No reason…it's that you have…a…erm…dangerous history…"
"Goodnight, Doctor." Clara quickly cut him off.
"Goodnight. See you soon." Pressing a button, the Doctor hastily hung up.
His daughter had since fallen asleep, so he gently placed her back on top of the soft blankets in the cot. As he put her down, a small slip of paper, placed among the blankets caught his eye.
Odd, he didn't recall seeing that before.
Making a mental note to himself, the man in the bow tie put it in his bigger-on-the-inside pockets to save for later.
The Doctor spoke to his child.
"Sleep well, little one. I love you."
He kissed his daughter's baby-soft skin one last time, before rising to pilot his ship.
"Let's see then, Old Girl, don't want to keep Novice waiting, do we?" with that he pressed assorted levers and such, typing in coordinates and putting the TARDIS on invisible setting.
That last action jolted his memory. He couldn't help but think of his wife, all curls and smiles, always trying to outwit him and fly his ship better than he did when she thought he wasn't looking.
His hearts cried out for the woman he loved with desperation he didn't know he'd had.
In seconds he felt the TARDIS land, momentarily snapping him out of his thoughts.
Grasping the cot, the Doctor cautiously opened the doors, before placing it in his daughter's room.
"Back already?" Novice asked from across the way. "It's only been about a minute or so…"
She watched a flicker of pain in his face, as he bent down beside where his daughter slept.
"Wait, Doctor, did something happen? Are you alright?"
"Oh, Novice, you have absolutely no idea…"
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