Chapter 11 – Running Away
Susan woke and found that she was pinned under Koschei's arm. Normally, she wouldn't mind that, except that she needed to get to the loo with a certain degree of urgency. She kissed the tip of his nose and he mumbled sleepily. She suppressed a laugh at the absurdity of the situation and wriggled free of him, letting him grumble and fall back into sleep.
She went to solve her most pressing problem, and then quickly showered. Her TARDIS kindly provided her with some clean clothes and she stroked the wall affectionately in thanks.
"Susan?" Koschei's voice was strained and nervous and she darted back into the med-bay and was back in his arms in a moment.
"I'm right here, love," she murmured and he held her very tightly for a moment, before releasing her with a rueful shake of his head.
"Damn but I'm pathetic," he complained and she grinned at him, admiring the way the light played over the planes and hollows of his face and how the deep blue of his eyes seemed to spark and shine in the room's white light.
"Yeah, but I love you anyway," she consoled him.
"You'll pay for that!" he teased and pulled her down for a kiss, but she laughed and wriggled free.
"Oh no you don't! I've just showered and you are filthy! Get clean and let's go see what Grandfather has gotten up to while we weren't there to keep an eye on him!" she scolded and he dropped his chin, looking up at her with a wicked smile that set her hearts fluttering. He was naked on the bed, gorgeous, obviously interested, and he looked damn near irresistible.
"Is that really what you want?" he asked and his voice was doing something to her; she was breathless and very definitely wavering, when Rose came in with a breakfast tray.
"Oh God, Koschei! Put it away!" Rose snarked at him and Susan was amused to see him get flustered and start to blush, as he scrambled for the sheets to cover himself up.
"Doesn't anyone around here know how to knock?" he groused, but his ears were still pink.
Susan took the opportunity to escape, fanning herself as she went. Damn but it was unfair for him to be that beautiful. How was she ever supposed to get anything done?
Koschei took the tray from Rose and caught her grinning at him.
"What?" he asked, still a trifle ruffled.
"Time Lord men, you none of you seem to have an 'off' switch," she chuckled and he barked a laugh.
"Well, my biology professor, who was the most uninspiring woman I have ever had talk to me about sex, by the way, ugly as sin and boring like you would not believe, informed us that the low fertility rates of Time Ladies had made the sex drives in the males much higher in compensation." He suddenly realized what he was saying and to whom and blushed bright scarlet. Rose however was cocking her head to the side and looking thoughtful, but not at all embarrassed.
"That makes a lot of sense, actually," she mused and then noticed how uncomfortable he was and grinned. "Oh please, I'm married and have had a baby, there is very little left in this universe that can embarrass me. Your wife was poking her hands around in my uterus, after all," she reminded him and now it was Koschei's turn to laugh.
"Time Lord society has always been rather, um… prissy, if you will," he explained. "There are some things one simply does not speak of," he continued, mimicking his Great Aunt's refined and snobby accent and Rose chuckled. "So, it's not exactly second nature to us to discuss intimate biological issues." He shrugged and she gave him the tongue in teeth grin. He was finding, to his surprise, that he was actually feeling comfortable around her. There weren't that many people he didn't feel awkward with.
"You know, when I first met you I wasn't really sure, but I've decided that I like you, and I'm really glad that you are there to watch out for Theta," he admitted and she grinned even wider.
"Yeah, you're not so bad either, when you aren't being a git," she conceded, which made him laugh, and still grinning, she left him to eat and get dressed.
A quick shower and a change of clothes and he was soon in the console room, feeling far better than he should have for being nearly blown up yesterday. His wife was a damn fine doctor, among other things that she was damn fine at, he thought with a smirk, eyeing her as she leaned across the console to flip a switch, admiring the curve of her breasts and the swell of her hips.
The Doctor glanced up at him and then rolled his eyes.
"Please stop having impure thoughts about my granddaughter, when I'm standing right here," he griped and Koschei turned to where Susan was now working the plotter and leered at her, while pretending to twirl a nonexistent mustache. She shot him a look of long suffering in response.
"But my dear Doctor, I am the villain of the piece, after all," he teased. "It's in my job description to despoil maidens." Dar burst out laughing and Geneva shook her head in disbelief, while Rose snickered and Susan arched an eyebrow at him.
"Who're you calling a maiden, sirrah?" she shot back with asperity. "I seem to recall doing plenty of despoiling as well, in case you've forgotten!"
"Yes, thank you for that mental image, Susan, I must now erase that entire conversation from my memory," the Doctor grumbled, but his lips were twitching.
"Arrival on Gallifrey," Susan chuckled and threw the materialization circuit open.
"Hello all," Andred called out as he stepped into the console room, Leela on his heels. Susan immediately went to scan him thoroughly, much to his amusement.
"Oh well done, Andred, you're in great shape!" she told him with a smile.
"Isn't he just," Leela purred and the Doctor dropped his head down on the console and groaned.
"Can we just get through the rest of the day without any more innuendos?" he requested and the two other married couples simply shook their heads.
"Not going to happen," Rose informed him with a cheeky grin and he threw up his hands in surrender.
Susan walked into the lab with a sigh.
"It's not that bad," Rose assured her and she nodded.
"It's not the damage, Rose, it's the memories. Eddy and Matilda have gone home with their new families, thank heaven, but the other ten are gone and, without Arthur here, it just seems so futile." She turned and looked up at the repaired, but empty, artificial wombs, thinking about the children that should have been there, growing and living.
Rose, in loose trousers and a nursing t-shirt, was bouncing Jenny in her arms while the baby yawned and squirmed and Susan had a sudden stab of grief and envy, which she forced back down with ruthless dispatch. Rose however, still had Malla's empathic gifts and she looked at Susan in surprise.
"Why haven't you started on your own family, Susan?" she asked softly and Susan crossed her arms protectively over her chest.
"I can't," she admitted. "This regeneration didn't go well at all, I can't carry to term, not as I am."
"Oh Susan, I'm so sorry," Rose pulled her into a one armed embrace, since her other arm was already filled with Jenny. Susan rested her head on her shoulder and sighed out, looking into the baby's unfocused blue eyes.
"Nap," Jenny told her, just mature enough now to start broadcasting basic thoughts, but not enough to really work out complex concepts.
"Yeah, that does sound nice," she answered and Rose smiled down at the baby.
"You first, Jenny," she suggested, but the baby simply wriggled more vigorously. "Speaking 'baby' is a pretty convenient Time Lord thing, I must say." Rose sounded somewhat smug as she said that and Susan smiled, straightening and nodding.
"I'm all right," she sighed. "It's just that I've waited so long, I feel like I've spent most of my life waiting for one thing or another and finding out that I'm going to have to wait some more just seems so unfair."
"True, but it might not be such a bad thing, in the long run," Rose suggested and Susan looked at her in interest. "Koschei's a good man, but has he ever been around children before, does he even have a clue as to how to be a father?" Rose paused to let Susan mull that over for a while.
"No, I don't think he does," she answered slowly.
"Then maybe easing into this might be the wiser course. Let him be around Jenny and the other children for a while, get him used to what they entail." She paused again and looked out the window for a moment, as though she was sorting through her thoughts, looking for the right words. "Susan, he's waited two hundred years to have time with you. You both need time to be just the two of you together, so let yourselves have that for a while. You have centuries ahead of you to have kids, to raise a family, but this time alone may be the only chance you have to really heal each other."
Susan studied her grandfather's wife for a long moment and nodded slowly.
"How could Grandfather not have fallen in love with you, Rose? You are brilliant, just amazing," she told her and watched Rose grin and look a bit abashed.
"It's always easy to see things when you're on the outside of them, it's when you're knee deep that it's hard!" she laughed, waving off the praise.
"Yeah, but most people don't even look at all," Susan disagreed.
"Hello? Is this the medical laboratory?" a woman's voice called out and Rose turned and looked at her in pleased surprise.
"Martha Jones?" she asked with a huge smile and the young woman in the doorway blinked, seeming rather startled, and nodded. She was extraordinarily pretty, with a pointed chin, high cheekbones and winged brows. Her dark hair was pulled back into a ponytail and she was wearing scrubs with a white lab coat.
"I'm sorry, you're Rose Tyler, right?" the dark skinned girl enquired with a puzzled look.
"Yes, I am, this is Doctor Susan Campbell, she's in charge here. I'm just visiting," Rose waved Susan forward and she stepped over to shake hands. The stranger's hands were strong and the handshake firm and looking into her earnest brown eyes, Susan recalled images from her grandfather's mind. This woman, in the other universe, had been one of his companions.
"Did Pete send you?" she asked and the woman shook her head.
"No, UNIT sent me over with about a half dozen others, they're still being processed, so I thought I would come ahead and look around." Curiosity, interest, intelligence, the young woman radiated all of them and Susan was pleased. "I'm Doctor Martha Jones, just finished my residency at Royal Hope Hospital," she informed them. "I have excellent references, if you want to see them?"
"I have every faith in UNIT to have found me the best possible people," Susan assured the nervous young woman and waved her into the room. Rose grinned and signaled her farewell, giving Susan a thumbs-up, when Martha's back was turned. "I'll wait for the rest of the group to get here before I start explaining everything, but in the meantime, did you have any questions?"
"Well, yeah, a few, I guess. I mean, I read all of Sarah Jane Smith's articles, but I don't quite understand a few things," she paused and looked at Susan, as though she wasn't sure quite how much leeway she had.
"I will be happy to answer any questions you might have, as long as I don't feel it violates my personal privacy, all right?" she told the other woman, who relaxed a bit and gave her a tentative smile.
"That's more than fair," Dr. Jones agreed. "We're here to help you clone new members of your species, but how many will there be and where will they all live?"
"Excellent questions, both of them!" Susan chuckled. "I'm planning on starting in small batches. Finding families willing to help raise alien children wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, humans are wonderfully generous and kind and we've had literally thousands of volunteers. But, there is a lot about being Gallifreyan that will need to be taught to them by us, things like controlling their telepathy and not reading the minds of those around them without permission," she explained and Dr. Jones nodded her understanding, though an eyebrow went up at the word telepathy.
"Hello!" Grandfather strolled in and grinned at Martha who smiled right back at him. Some things held true in any universe, Susan thought with a sigh.
"Hello, Grandfather," she called back. "Your wife just left five minutes ago," she told him, more for Dr. Jones' benefit than for his and his eyes met hers in shared amusement and understanding.
"Grandfather?" Dr. Jones gasped in surprise and he nodded with a smile.
"I'm over nine hundred years old, Martha Jones, though I think I look pretty good for my age," he told her, preening a bit and Susan laughed.
"Go on, you peacock, go display your plumage for someone who cares!" she shooed him off and he grinned and bounced out.
"That was your grandfather?" she asked, still unable to take it in, and Susan nodded.
"Yeah, I'm nearly five hundred years old myself, mind you, so don't judge us by how we look, because the youngest of us is three hundred just now. Well, except for the babies, of course, they all actually look their ages."
"All right then," Dr. Jones marveled.
"So, as I was saying, I am only planning on cloning about five thousand people and I plan to stretch that out over at least two hundred years, so only about twenty-five each year. After that, we ought to have both a viable gene pool and also a fully trained genetics team who can take over for me, so I can go back to just being a doctor again."
"Just being a doctor, again? Aren't you one now?"
"Not really, I was a proper doctor before, with a practice. I had regular patients; I was delivering babies, making house calls, running a clinic, just being the person who could make things better and easier on other people and I loved that life. I went back and got the doctorates just so I could help even more people. I learned genetic engineering so I could create retroviruses, to cure genetic faults, not to restore my race after a cataclysm," she explained and Dr. Jones nodded her understanding. "My training and my own personal inclinations lie in being a GP, not Dr. Frankenstein," she sighed and Dr. Jones laughed. "But I'm the only Gallifreyan doctor left in the universe. I'm literally it for anything medical that needs doing around here."
"This all must be really hard on you," she answered, waving around at the lab. "That's a huge responsibility."
"You do the job that's in front of you," she shrugged and Dr. Jones laughed.
"Terry Pratchett!" she blurted, clapping her hands in delight at the reference and Susan grinned.
"Yeah, I love his books," she admitted and the other woman nodded.
"Me too, Dr. Campbell."
"Please, call me Susan, I'm not much on formalities," she urged and the dark haired girl nodded.
"Call me Martha," she agreed and Susan smiled. If all the people UNIT sent her were as delightful as Martha, this was going to go far better than she'd thought.