Luke is completely and utterly confused. Of course, considering it's only his third day of life there is plenty to be confused about, but currently it's focused on why there is a giant moving truck outside, why there are at least half-a-dozen or more cars parked on the road and why his new mum looks so...horrified.
"How did they find out already?" Sarah Jane sounds odd, but he's still not good at reading emotions, so he's not sure why she smiles when her voice sounds annoyed.
There's a stream of people in the home; his new home. Large men moving things up the stairs, smaller men stacking boxes in the living room, women who smile and coo over him then disappear to talk to Sarah Jane and direct the men who are moving things. The kitchen is filled with dishes of food, Sarah Jane looked happy and aggravated by that, but the dishes smelled good. Luke isn't exactly certain why she'd be aggravated by food that smells nice, mostly food so far has smelled of smoke.
"Here," a blond woman – Aunt Liz, he's informed – hands him a cupcake covered in a mound of frosting off of a platter. "Take this and go find your cousins, okay?"
Cousins are blood relatives with who a person shares one or more common ancestors other than parents, children or siblings. When he tells the people he's been directed at this they laugh and say
"Definitely his son." But they don't tell him who 'he' is when asked, they just laugh.
The eldest is a woman called "Julia", she introduces herself as the eldest child of Aunt Liz and Uncle Alistair – the large man with a cane who hugged Sarah Jane and directed younger men around.
There's at least thirteen of the 'cousins' that he counts. None are blood related, but for some reason they all call Sarah Jane "Aunt Sarah".
He remarks that she doesn't like just "Sarah", but prefers "Sarah Jane" and they all laugh.
"There's plenty more cousins to meet," Uncle Alistair tells him happily, clapping a hand on his back and making Luke sway slightly under the weight. "Plenty of backup if you need it and certainly enough to start your own football team."
"Jo alone could form a football team." Aunt Liz laughs.
"She passed football team years ago," A man he's told is his Uncle John scoffs as he sets down another box. "Seven kids, nine grandkids...she'll have two cricket teams by 2012 with her and Cliff!"
"Make that 2011." A man – Uncle Mike, wagers. "Got news yesterday that number ten is on the way."
There's a cheer that goes around the room and several groans, but Luke doesn't get the joke. He'll have to ask Maria what they mean by cricket. All he can think of is the small insect that chirps.
The names they go by aren't really names, it seems. Well, at least some of them, and they aren't consistent at all. Uncle Alistair is not called Alistair alone. Sometimes it's "Sir Alistair" or "Brig" or "Brigadier".
Brigadier, a senior rank in the army, under 'General' but above 'Colonel'.
"That's a rank or title given to those in the army." he informs Dani, also known as Danielle Lethbridge-Stewart, daughter of 'Little Brig' or 'Al' though again he's not sure why. Dani's been put in charge of making sure he's not completely confused, but it's not working.
"Yeah, but that's not Granddad's rank anymore. He's a General, retired, but still one." the nearly fourteen year old informs him quite proudly.
"Then why is he called 'Brigadier'?" Luke questions.
Dani looks contemplative for a minute then shrugs. "Because he's the Brigadier."
"But why is he the Brigadier?"
"Because he is. Ask your dad."
"I haven't got one." Luke says simply.
Dani looks at him in surprise, "Everyone says you have."
"Who?" Luke tilts his head quizzically.
Dani shrugs, "Dunno. Your hair's too flat to be Uncle Harry's. Maybe you're my uncle?"
Cousin H.J. Who's been sitting nearby taking a break chokes on his fizzy drink and rapidly starts correcting Dani while wiping the liquid from the front of his shirt.
Lunch time rolls around and they all end up sitting around the living room. They run out of seats fairly early so the youngest ones end up sitting on the floor. He really doesn't mind at all. He's the youngest in the room, bar Dani, but Dani says that's because she's suspended from school and the others are still going. She won't tell him why she's suspended though, and her dad frowns when she tells him.
The adults are talking, sharing stories and Sarah Jane is turning red sometimes. He's not sure if that's good or bad.
For lack of ideas he sits with his plate at Sarah Jane's feet, Dani plops down on the floor by another cousin, eagerly babbling about babies.
There are no babies around, so it's silly to discuss them.
He settles in, chewing thoughtfully on a sandwich stacked with several types of meat, cheese and some peanut butter. He wishes Maria could be here, but she's with her dad shopping for new school things.
Luke overhears bits and pieces of the dozens of conversations, but doesn't understand any of them at all, really.
"-Just like the second one."
"-Then he climbed the fountain...naked!"
"-Ate the entire cake, right there."
"-y once jumped OUT of a cake at a stag night."
"-tell us which one is his?"
The last one catches his attention. It's aimed at Sarah Jane and Aunt Liz is smirking as she gestures to Luke.
"He isn't!" Sarah Jane protests, "Luke's adopted."
"No one believes that. Not even those who haven't met him. Speaking of..." Aunt Liz turns to Aunt Abigail, "Do you?"
"Not according to my husband." Aunt Abigail replies with a grin. "Harry was certain the boy would have curls."
"Why haven't you named him for his dad?" Uncle Mike teases. "Really, 'the Nurse' has a nice ring to it!"
Sarah Jane flings a slice of tomato, hitting him in the forehead. "Luke's not his son, he's ADOPTED."
Uncle Alistair has a smirk too. It doesn't look like it should be nice, but it makes Luke smile anyway. "Well, beyond the lack of curls and blue eyes...I'd say Liz and Jo's version. Then again, Ace's version is highly likely too."
Uncle Alistair gets an onion slice.
He isn't quite sure why Uncle Harry gives him a bag of jelly babies randomly after lunch, nor why it makes everyone laugh, but he takes them politely and studies the packaging.
Jelly babies...the name sounds horrible.
Why would you call something that? Who would eat something named after babies?
He politely takes one out of the package and studies it.
They look like little men, babies he guesses, and look quite unsuspecting.
He carefully places a yellow one in his mouth and chews.
He can't help but make a face and open his mouth slightly. The texture is odd and it tastes like the cleaning stuff Aunt Liz was using smells. Citrus and lemon, way too sweet and horribly wrong.
Cousin Greg giggles and hands him a handkerchief to spit it out into.
Luke stares at the packaging with a look of horror. Who would make such things? Especially with that name...they must be some evil ploy, like bubbleshock, meant to take over the world with overly sweet miniature men.
He voices this opinion quietly to Sarah Jane and she smiles at him, gives him a hug and comments that it's just a sweet people like, nothing evil.
Luke isn't too sure on this and plans to keep an eye on these 'Jelly babies'.
"Good lord, no." the uttered words sound like a plea from Sarah Jane as a loud noise reaches all of their ears. Luke's heard it for a few seconds longer than them, and is puzzled by the noise. It roars but buzzes and rumbles.
"Someone lock the door." Cousin Ben complains.
"Won't work." Sarah Jane sighs, "She has a key."
"Why in the world—?"
The roaring noise stops and moments later a woman in a leather jacket walks in. She grins brightly, her eyes landing on Luke and Sarah Jane winces. "Hey, he even looks like me!"
That sparks a round of laughter again and many comments.
"Hello," Luke offers his hand like social conventions say he should. "I'm Luke Smith."
She looks down at his hand and scoffs. "You don't shake hands with relatives. She pulls him into a hug instead and Luke is confused again. "Are you a cousin too?"
She looks at him in shock, "They never—-? I'm Ace, your sister."
His eyes widen...that's a new one.
Sister, biological offspring from the same parents. Mrs. Wormwood? He was the only one though.
"He's adopted." Sarah Jane complained, "And I'm not your mother."
Ace brushed her off with a wave of her hand and kept an arm around Luke.
"They do look alike." Uncle Harry says with a bright grin.
"Smile for the camera." Cousin Julia proclaims, tugging out a digital camera.
The flash blinds Luke briefly. "Sister?" he says out loud.
"Yup. Don't worry, she's a great parent. Made me fake ID's, let me drink and got me a motorcycle." Ace confides.
"I didn't let you drink, you did it anyway." Sarah Jane corrects her, "And I just paid for the bike you'd already 'borrowed'. Plus, I'm not your mother."
"Oh, give it up, old girl." Uncle Harry tells her, "You've been fighting that fight for twenty years. No one believes it."
Sarah Jane throws up her hands, in forfeit or disgust, Luke isn't sure.
"You'd think after twenty years people would listen to me."
"You'd think." Uncle Alistair agrees cordially.
"Speaking of believing and parents." Ace says, a grin lighting up her face. "Which one's his other?"
Sarah Jane smacks her over the head with a rolled up newspaper. "He's adopted!"
"That's what you say about me." Ace sticks her tongue out.
"I didn't adopt you. The records were altered by Unknown influences who upon being found out and proven guilty will be hurt." she shoots a look at the gathered crowd, but no one looks inherently guilty.
"My bet's on the newest one." Uncle John says bravely. "I'm told he had weird hair and it accounts for the teenager a year later. Those Time Lords must have odd biology.
He gets whacked with the newspaper too.
Luke looks at the arm wrapped around him and up at the woman – his sister... "Are motorcycles good or bad?"
"Extremely good." Ace says as Sarah Jane says "BAD." "I'll give you a ride on mine later if you want."
"You will not!"
Everyone's left by bedtime, leaving just the two in a suddenly quiet house.
His closet is filled with clothing Dani says is 'cool', his room is set up with a bed, chest of drawers and a video game system he has no idea how to work. The bedsheets have stars on them and the comforter is a deep blue.
He takes a shower and uses the new shampoo that cousin Ben says will make him smell manly. It just smells like his cousin to him, the scent tickles his nose and nearly makes him sneeze. He prefers the soap that smells like fruit he had before.
"Are they really my relatives?" he asks as Sarah Jane tucks him into the bed. His hair makes the pillow wet, but he doesn't care right now.
Sarah Jane sits on the side of the bed and smiles. "As close to it as you have, yes. They've been my friends since I was very young and your 'cousins' I've known since they were born. Well, more since their mums were pregnant and their dad's hid from them with me." She looks fond as if recalling some memory then smiles at him again. "And Ace...well..." she trails off.
"My sister?" the hope in Luke's voice shines with confusion as well. "You adopted her too."
"No." Sarah Jane corrects. "I came home one day in 1987 to find her drinking in my kitchen. The Doctor – my friend I told you about – had left her with me to keep her safe. I enrolled her in school, helped her pass her A levels, got her into a good University and let her live with me for a while."
"She's the Doctor's daughter?" Luke wonders about that and what it means.
Sarah Jane inclines her head in a half nod. "I think he adopted her like I adopted you."
"Oh...Does that mean the Doctor is my father?"
Sarah Jane chokes and turns several colours that Luke can't quite interpret yet.