Previous Chapter: The Doctor wraps his arms around Rose from behind and draws her tight against him as he leans down and inquires, "Are you ready for the big day, Rose Tyler? Are you prepared to become my wife again in all the trappings that human tradition will allow?"
"Honestly?" returns Rose as she stares back at her husband before kissing him softly. "I wouldn't miss it for the world."
What started as a chaste kiss is quickly becoming more and the Doctor is thoroughly enjoying kissing his wife when the interruption of the TARDIS door opening brings him out of his reverie.
Rushing out of the TARDIS doors are all of David and Susan's children, pushing and shoving each other one by one, until only their parents remain to exit the ship. Always excited to see the Doctor and his Rose, even after a sleepover in the TARDIS, the children bolt over to the couple for hugs and kisses. Watching in a mixture of amusement and exasperation at his children's enthusiasm as they cling around their necks and knees, David walks over and orders, "Alright, you lot, that's enough! You don't want to smother them on their wedding day!"
Susan continues to rub the sleep from her bleary eyes and is obviously surprised to see the Doctor and Rose. "Good morning, Grandfather, Rose, we weren't expecting to see you up so soon."
"Actually, we've been up for hours, too excited to sleep I guess!" He swiftly scans his granddaughter from head to toe and questions, "Didn't you sleep well, Susan? Are you feeling alright?"
"Oh, I slept fine, Grandfather," she aims an accusing eye at the couple, "we all did eventually. Isn't that right, David?"
David shoots his wife a look that clearly states, 'Why are you involving me in this?' before awkwardly clearing his throat and averting his gaze from the couple. "Well, it seems that there was a bit of a noise problem on the TARDIS…sounds of moaning, rather loudly to be precise."
Christopher pipes up, "We overheard Rose's mum telling Mum and Dad to tell us that the TARDIS was haunted in case anyone heard anything funny. Was that what all the moaning was about?"
The Doctor and Rose flush bright red at this statement which is only made worse when Sarah notes, "The ghosts sounded an awfully lot like you two, but Mum wouldn't let us go ghost hunting. She said that some things were left better unexplained."
"Quite right too," squeaks the Doctor while Rose offers Susan and David an uncomfortable and apologetic smile.
Desperate to change the topic of conversation, the Doctor takes note of the children with their neatly groomed hair and best dress-up clothes and he turns to his bride with beseeching eyes and exclaims, "Well, you lot look brilliant, don't they Rose?"
"Yeah," she agrees, "very proper, right smart and all!" With a teasing grin at the children, she nudges the Doctor's side and asks in a stage whisper, "Are you sure that these are the same children? Maybe some Slitheen snuck onboard and we should check them for zippers!"
Some of the children laugh, some groan but they all take the time to aim a funny face at Rose, each one aching familiar to the Doctor from one of his regenerations or another. Susan breathes a sigh of relief as she leans against David. "Finally, I didn't think that we'd ever be ready on time."
"Oh," asks the Doctor with a trace of worry, "was there a problem with the TARDIS? I know that she's been moving rooms about all higgly-piggly, oohhh, higgly- piggly, I like that, but I thought the old girl was back to normal after all the maintenance we did on her to pick up some of the wedding guests."
"No, the TARDIS is fine," reassures Susan, "that wasn't the problem." She darts an accusing glare at her children who all seem to find their shoes quite interesting at the moment. "Apparently, what with one thing or another, I found that I needed a time machine to ensure that the children were properly dressed and stayed out of trouble." She looks guilt stricken when she adds, "I'm so sorry about your Wardrobe Room, Grandfather."
Only half paying attention, the Doctor automatically smiles at his granddaughter before spouting, "Wait! What?"
"Um," offers Ian guiltily, "there was a bit of trouble in the Wardrobe but we'll put everything back after the reception, we promise!"
"I thought that you all promised me that you were going to behave and be good little Time Tots while onboard my TARDIS?" growls the Doctor with clenched fists.
Avoiding his great-grandfather's unyielding glare, Ian turns to his father and insists, "But we were good for the most part, weren't we Dad?"
David crosses his arms over his chest and gives them a stern appraisal and hedges, "Yes, I suppose for you lot, that you were."
Then Sarah takes an almost imperceptible step forward and whispers, "Although, we weren't always good so we are also dreadfully sorry about your lab, Great-grandfather."
Rose catches sight of the Doctor turning pale as he asks bleakly, "What about the lab?"
Instead of receiving a reply from Sarah, Christopher sticks his hands in his pockets and mutters, "And I'm sorry about your infirmary. However, there's really no need to worry because it's practically back in one piece now, thanks to Mum's help."
"What?" utters the Doctor with a gasp of pure horror.
"Yes," whispers Billie consolingly, "and Daddy was just wizard at handling the flood of water so the water hardly shorted out anything really! Well, anything that you use."
Susan's eldest son, David, smirks as he shares, "Ian tried to reverse the polarity of the neutron flow, I'm sure that you remember how well that worked last time."
Ian flushes bright red in both anger and embarrassment. "Quit trying to drop me in it, you berk!" He glares at his brother as he snarks, "We can't all be perfect like the master chef here, although the state of the TARDIS galley would testify otherwise!"
It's now David's turn to redden when he defends, "How was I supposed to know that the blender had a sonic setting?"
Ian needles, "Nobody could know that, but everybody else could see that it didn't have a lid!"
"And there's no need to worry about the library and the swimming pool," interrupts Carole as she pushes the two wrestling boys apart and thrusts them into opposite directions, "I've taken care of it so it's all been sorted!"
The Doctor's ashen pallor instantly morphs into a greenish tinge at this last announcement, in addition to all the others, and as he is currently unable to find his voice, Rose tentatively queries, "So that means that whatever happened with them is fixed so that we don't have to know, right?" She gazes hopefully at Susan and David who are steadily avoiding her gaze.
"Well…," Carole hesitates as she pull on the ends of her hair, "when I say sorted, I don't mean fixed exactly as much as I mean it's been sorted."
The Doctor groans and after rubbing his hands over his face, he questions morosely, "And that means what exactly?"
"It's been sorted as in separated," declares Carole adamantly, "the library on one side of the TARDIS and the swimming pool on the other. I'm not quite sure how it happened actually; you see Ian's polarity effect went a lot further than the infirmary and…" her voice trails off as she is reluctant to go into any further detail.
The Doctor holds up his hand and begs, "That's enough, thank you. I don't need to hear anymore until after the reception and possibly the honeymoon and then not until I had have several large bottles of Hypervodka." The children all quiet down with a pout and the Doctor aims an accusing finger at Susan. "You were supposed to be watching them, Susan!"
Susan's eyes widen in alarm as she hasn't been chastised by her grandfather since she left the TARDIS and she forgot how incredibly good he was at it. "It's not my fault, Grandfather, I was busy restoring the infirmary! David was supposed to be helping me watch the children!"
Gaping at his wife with a look of the utmost betrayal, David hisses, "Oh, now don't drop me in it, Susan!" He gives the Doctor a sad pitying look and bleats, "You know how helpless we humans are when it comes to following a Time Lord's train of thought, Doctor." Then in a mutter that turns condescending, "Or so you tell me often enough."
The Doctor's about to let loose with a tirade the likes that the two adults have never seen when Susan unexpectedly yells, "Barbara, Ian, over here, that's right come over here!" She darts an anxious glance at her grandfather and adds, "Quickly, please!"
Even though barely any time has passed for the Doctor and Rose since they last saw Barbara and Ian, it is an elderly Barbara and Ian Chesterton that make their way over to the group. "You'll have to give us a moment, Susan," returns Ian cheerily, 'we're not as young as we used to be."
"Speak for yourself," chides Barbara good-naturedly, as they approach everyone.
Seeing that Rose is slightly taken aback by their advanced years, regardless of her knowledge and experience in time travel, both the Doctor and Susan greet the new arrivals in order to give her a moment to adjust. Susan throws her arms around the couple, squeezing them both so tightly that she nearly knocks them off of their feet. "Oh, Barbara, Ian, I have missed you both so much! How have you both been? You look wonderful!"
The Doctor's greeting is less jarring for the couple, a handshake for Ian and a kiss on the cheek for Barbara. "Yes," he agrees, "the years have treated you well. Rose and I visited you for the first time not so long ago, so when's the last time that we saw you for you?"
"Actually, not that long," smiles Barbara fondly. "You and Rose come to see us regularly and you frequently bring Susan and her family as well."
"Wow, really? Then you must have known us a really time!" chimes in Susan's son, Ian.
"Yes, I do," replies his elder namesake. "In fact, you out of everyone, Ian Campbell, I could never forget."
Young Ian beams at the Doctor and surmises, "It must be because he's a science teacher and I'm going to be a scientist like you! Hey!" cries the boy as his eyes light up with excitement. "Since you know me so well now, could you give me a hint at what I should study?"
"Of course, son," assures Ian kindly as he rests his hand on the boy's shoulder. "You need to study your books." When the boy's face becomes crestfallen, Ian states, "Sorry, young man, but timelines and all." After young Ian wanders off to the other side of the group in disappointment, Ian adds, "And believe me, he really needs to study his science!"
"Tell me about it," agree the Doctor and Susan heartily and in unison as they glance at each other knowingly.
"We're actually going to be visiting you next week," Susan informs the Chestertons. "It will be the first time I've seen you, besides now, since I left the TARDIS."
Barbara smiles fondly at the memory of their reunion. "I remember that day well, don't you Ian?"
"Yes, I do," chuckles Ian affectionately.
"It was wonderful to see you again after so long, Susan. We both missed you so much," recalls Barbara with a soft gaze.
"Yes, we did," declares Ian, "but just be sure that you bring your husband David with you."
"Why?" questions David anxiously as he draws Susan closer to him. "Does something happen to Susan or the children?"
"No, no, not at all," denies Ian reassuringly, "but apparently you're the only one out of all of us who knows how to put together a crib." He directs a pointed look at the Doctor and inserts cheekily, "Without having it fall to pieces."
David wisely pretends to ignore the Doctor's glower in his direction and humbly remarks, "Well, it's nice to know that my mundane human talents are still appreciated."
The Doctor leans in close to Rose and grumbles, "I must've forgotten to bring my sonic screwdriver that day. You need quality tools like that when you're working with 20th century craftsmanship."
Rose pats his arm consolingly just as Billie tugs on Rose's arm and laments with a very familiar pout, "You two didn't tell us what you thought of our clothes."
Rose peers quizzically at the little girl and reminds her, "Yes, we did, sweetheart, we told you how lovely you all looked."
"Not these clothes," she reaches into her tiny purse and pulls out a t-shirt and holds it up to show them, "these clothes! Mr. Tyler sent them for us to wear when we help out at the reception. We're going to refill drinks and grab extra cake for anyone who needs it!"
Rose and the Doctor need to take a few steps back as they attempt to absorb the vibrancy of the garment before them. On a bright orange shirt, in huge blazing and sparkling red letters that would never require the Doctor to throw his brainy specs on to read them, they read, 'DRINK LOCA-COLA, IT MAKES YOU CRAZY WITH ENERGY!'
The Doctor stares down pityingly at Billie and asks, "Pete wanted you to wear these?"
"Yes, Great-grandfather, and he wanted to know if you could make them flash with your sonic screwdriver!"
"Did he?" inquires the Doctor sarcastically. "How unfortunate, it seems that I've happened to misplace my screwdriver at this exact moment. Oh well, too bad!" He glances at Rose with a trace of repugnance at Pete using their wedding to advertise his energy drink by using his great-grandchildren as living billboards while Rose just gives him a sheepish grin and a helpless shrug.
"Well, I'm off to pick up the last two guests who need time trips," announces Susan. She turns to David and asks, "Are you sure that you're going to be okay with this lot?"
David laughs and brushes a kiss against his wife's temple. "I've survived this long, haven't I?"
"Yes, but a little longer would be nice," she returns as she cuddles into his chest.
'Don't worry, Susan, Ian and I will help out," offers Barbara kindly. "We've grown quite used to them around and we know how to handle them after all of this time."
"Oh, really?" asks the Doctor in great interest, his eyebrows practically shooting past his hairline at this declaration. "And how's that then? I'd love to be let in on that little secret."
Ian nods and divulges with a wink, "It's easy, Doctor, after their first visit to our house, or what remained of it, we either went to see them at Susan's or went with you on trips in the TARDIS. That way we had no collateral damage and we had back up at the same time."
The Doctor returns a smile as cunning as Ian's own along with a soft chuckle. "That's very impressive, Ian, I didn't think you had it in you."
"However," addresses Ian to the group of children while shooting a quick glower at the Doctor, "we did have to end up making a list of rules that you must always follow in our home just as if you were traveling on the TARDIS."
"What rules are those Mr. Chesterton?" queries Sarah animatedly, intrigued by this glimpse into her future.
"Number one," he informs them with a bit of a grimace, "don't wander off! Especially don't wander off into my den and find my private stock of Brandy that my father gave to Barbara and I are on our wedding day. And then don't wander off with it and test it in our backyard swimming pool to see if you can sonic it's molecular composition into different colors!"
"Ian, calm down," urges Barbara, as he begins to redden at the memory. "The Doctor made it up to us with that lovely trip to Ezoobeerf and replenished our stock quite nicely, didn't he?"
Ian nods grudgingly and glances over at the Doctor who is looking rather self-satisfied. "And what are you looking so smug about?" demands Ian of the Doctor. "You don't even know what you've done yet!"
"No," replies the Doctor with a smile full of arrogance, "but thanks to Barbara, I now have a pretty good idea."
Ian merely huffs in annoyance while Barbara turns back to the children and advises, "Rule number two is please don't try and make my closet bigger on the outside, not even if you hear me complaining that I don't have enough room for all of our things, alright?"
The children all nod wholeheartedly, well…most of them, some of them, so worshipful of the Doctor's brilliance and eagerness to try new things, continue to fan the spark of the idea that Barbara has just given them and see if they can turn it into a blaze of glory.
"And one of the most important rules to follow, but not last as there will be many more in the years to come, is to stay away from the toilets for any use other than what they are intended!" finishes Ian with a rather accusing stare at his small namesake, a stare which Barbara shares as she pinpoints the young man with a look that only a teacher can perfect.
Young David elbows his little brother Ian in the ribs and taunts; "It looks like you're never going to master reversing the polarity of the neutron flow, eh?"
"Shut it, David!" threatens Ian hotly.
"Or what?" scoffs David in derision. "You'll drag me to the nearest loo and give me the ultimate swirly?"
As Ian lunges for his brother, the Doctor calmly walks up between them hissing, "Boys! Behave!" before knocking their heads together. He gazes at both Ian and Barbara with a pained expression and immediately apologizes. "I'm sorry you two, I am so, so sorry."
Wanting their perfect day to get back on track, Rose suggests, "Doctor, why don't you and Susan take a picture with Ian and Barbara when the photographer arrives? You always tell me how you considered the four of you to be the first TARDIS family."
"What a wonderful idea, Rose Tyler!" proclaims the Doctor as he takes in the Chestertons delighted smiles but instantly frowns when he notices that Susan bears a bit of a pout. "Susan, what on Earth is wrong?" he asks apprehensively.
"Wasn't I enough family for you on my own, Grandfather? I thought that you were quite happy when it was just the two of us," she teases with an impish gleam in her eye.
He laughs aloud as he strides over to her and takes her up in a firm embrace. "Of course you were, Susan!" He gazes directly into her eyes and tells her, "My dear Susan, you still are in fact, and even though our family has grown considerably since our first travels into time and space, I will always deem you 'more than enough' for me." She smiles back at him, ridiculously happy as she burrows into his side. "And I feel the same way about your children," he states flatly. She pulls back long enough to give him a look of pure exasperation which he returns with a meaningful look of his own that has Susan resignedly nodding in reluctant acknowledgement of his highly accurate point.
Knowing that Susan will be off at any moment, David surveys the area and inquires, "Where's Pete and Jackie? We were under strict orders to check in once we got here to see how we could help out."
Rose answers, "Mum's upstairs setting everything up for me to get ready and she has Dad issuing orders like he's in charge of a command force for setting up down here."
The Doctor scouts the surrounding area full of family, vendors and wedding staff unloading their vehicles to start preparing the street for the ceremony. "Now that I've had time to take everything in, I can see that he's not that far off the mark." A glance down the way alerts the Doctor to incoming guests and he politely requests, "Speaking of a command force, my former colleagues from U.N.I.T. have just arrived, would you please excuse us?"
"Of course, Doctor," David assures hastily before addressing the children. "Now, do you all remember what you're supposed to be doing during the wedding?"
"Yes," they answer in unison, "we keep quiet."
"Excellent, praises David, "and what about during the reception?"
Each child whips out their t-shirt and gives two thumbs up as they recite, "Trust me on this!"
David kisses a fretful Susan goodbye, waving her on her way as he glances at the Chestertons. "I hope Mr. Tyler knows what he's doing."
To Be Continued…