Author's Note: Thank you to everyone who has reviewed this story, set an alert or favorite. I'm glad to know you're enjoying it.
Again, a big thank you to Gaben for beta reading this chapter and making suggestions that definitely made it better.
Donna watched as the Doctor paced the small audience chamber where they were awaiting an appearance by King Swemin. The guard who had escorted them to the audience chamber had offered to find another place for Donna to wait, but she wasn't about to miss the show. Ever since learning he'd been a father, she had wondered what kind of parent the Doctor could have been. Now, she supposed, she was going to find out.
The Doctor was pacing the room, muttering to himself as though he were trying to work out some sort of impossible problem. Suddenly he stopped pacing, and turned to face Jenny. She still wore the black leather pants and dark olive t-shirt she'd worn when she stepped out of the replicator. Her pale blonde hair was tied back in a ponytail. In fact, she looked exactly as she had when she'd died in his arms from a bullet meant for him. That fact only added to the anger burning in the Doctor's eyes.
As he approached, Jenny straightened from where she had been leaning against the far wall and came to attention. Stepping in close, the Doctor invaded her personal space and pointed his finger in her face. "Don't you ever," he said, emphasizing the last word, "step in front of me like that again. Is that understood?"
Jenny swallowed and resisted the urge to take a step back and regain some of her personal space. She nodded and looked away from her father's steady gaze. She might have the appearance of an adult, but in actuality she had only been alive a short time. During that short time, she had never really been in trouble. There had been a few stern words from her father, and General Cobb,who had her locked up because she came from pacifist stock. But, she was beginning to realize just how serious the situation really was.
"I didn't hear you," her father stated, tilting his head in her direction as though trying to hear something. "What did you say?"
"The correct answer is 'yes, sir.'"
"Yes, sir," Jenny dutifully repeated as she met her father's gaze.
"Now that that's settled, I have a question," Donna stated as she came to stand beside father and daughter. The Doctor had had his say, and now she wanted an answer to the question that was burning in her mind. "How are you even here?" she asked, gesturing to the room in general. "We all saw you die in your father's arms."
Jenny thought for a moment as a puzzled expression crossed her face. "I don't know. One minute you were holding me after I was shot," she said to her father. "The next thing I remember is waking up on a table in the theater where General Cobb had set up camp. Cline and one of the Hath were standing over me."
The Doctor took a step back and scrubbed his hands through his hair, causing it to stand up in spiky tufts. Children on Gallifrey grew up knowing about a time lord's regenerative abilities. Jenny did not have that advantage.
"Time lords are born with the ability to heal themselves. If the damage is too extensive, we regenerate into a new body – new body, new personality, same memories," he explained. He sighed heavily before continuing, "you must have been close enough to your progenation that your body healed itself without regenerating."
Both Jenny and Donna stared at the Doctor for a moment. Donna finally broke the silent. "You mean you haven't always looked like that?" she asked gesturing in his direction.
"No, he hasn't" said a deep voice from the doorway. "In fact, he looks quite different than when I last saw him."
The occupants of the room turned to see a tall Mendalsunian standing just inside the entrance to the room. His mane of hair was snowy white, and his dark face was deeply lined. He wore what appeared to be soft leather breeches, tied at the calves with crisscross garters, and an open leather vest, which revealed his muscular chest.
The Doctor immediately dropped to kneel on one knee. Reaching up, he yanked Jenny and Donna down to kneel beside him. "Your Majesty."
"Please arise, my friend. There is no formality between us." King Swemin watched as the Doctor and the two women stood. He moved to pull the smaller man into a hug. "It has been too long, my friend."
"Yes, it has," the Doctor stated as he stepped back. "The last time I was here you were undergoing your own rite of succession ritual. So, Prince Heim?"
"My nephew. My wife, Nagir, and I were blessed with four daughters, but no sons," the king responded before grinning. "They are all married with good husbands and have made me a grandfather several times over."
"Well, how about that – you, a grandfather." The Doctor grinned. "That would be something to see."
"Who are these lovely young women?" Donna preened at the king's description, but Jenny felt uncomfortable. She had a bad feeling that this was the man who was going to determine her fate.
"This is my friend, Donna, and my daughter, Jenny."
"Ah, so this is the young woman who has caused such a stir," King Swemin stated as he moved to study Jenny, who barely resisted the urge to squirm under the scrutiny. "I'm surprised a child of yours would create such trouble," he said to the Doctor, not taking his eyes from Jenny. "Not after the way you kept after me and your granddaughter."
"Now just a minute," Donna said stepping forward, intending to defend the young woman. She stopped, confused at the Doctor's quick hiss of warning.
"Normally, you would be right, Your Majesty. But, these are far from normal circumstances." The Doctor went on to explain his and Donna's visit to Messaline, Jenny's emergence from the progenation machine, and what he had believed had been her subsequent death.
"Shall I assume that the space craft found in the desert north of town belongs to you, young lady?" King Swemin asked, as he crossed his arms over his chest. He had slipped effortlessly from friendship to angry father. Jenny might not be his child, but to his mind, a father was always a father – regardless of whether the child was his or someone else's.
Jenny was unsure how to answer and glanced at the Doctor. At his nod, she turned back to the sovereign and stated, "yes, sir, Your Majesty, it is mine."
"Shall I also assume that it does not actually belong to you?"
"Since I had planets to save, civilizations to rescue, and creatures to defeat, not to mention an awful lot of running to do, I decided to borrow a space ship and get started." Jenny met her father's gaze and grinned. At his hard glare, she quickly dropped her gaze and managed to look sheepish.
The Doctor had to fight the urge to grin in response. Yes, she was definitely his daughter. After all, he had "borrowed" the TARDIS all those many years before. Well, if the truth were to be told, he'd stolen it. Still, he couldn't reveal to Jenny just how amusing he found that tidbit of information.
"I suppose I am going to have to contact Messaline and let them know where they can find their missing ship," The king said almost to himself, as he moved to sit on the wooden throne situated in the back of the room, signaling that the matter was to turn serious. "The question now becomes, young lady, what is to be done about you?"
The Doctor took Jenny by the arm and guided her to stand in front of King Swemin. Donna stood a few paces behind. She had been surprised at the easy going manner of the Mendalsunian king. It wasn't exactly how she had expected a monarch to behave. Now, however, she was beginning to be concerned at his sudden change in demeanor.
"By all rights, I should turn you over to the judicial system. You would be incarcerated until such time you were given a fair trial. If convicted, you would be sent to the forced labor camp to serve out your sentence." King Swemin paused when he heard Donna's snort of disbelief. "Yes, young woman," he said in her direction, "it would be a fair trial. She would be given an impartial jury and the opportunity to present her defense." Turning his attention back to Jenny, he continued, "I am very aware of the Gallifreyan method for dealing with disobedient children, having spent time there in my youth. I also know the kind of man your father is."
The Doctor nodded in acknowledgement of the king's unspoken confidence that the Doctor would see that Jenny thoroughly understood the error of her ways.
"However, these are far from normal circumstances. Because of that, I am turning you over to your father for discipline." He rose and moved to stand in front of Jenny. He grasped her chin in his large hand and tilted her head back so that their eyes met. "I hope you learn from this experience, Jenny. The next time you get into trouble, you may not get off so easily. Although, when he's finished with you, you may not think I've been so lenient." The king released Jenny's chin and took a step back and nodded in the Doctor's direction. "Doctor."
"Your Majesty," the Doctor returned the king's wordless farewell. "But, before we go, I believe Jenny owes you an apology." He took her arm and pulled her forward to standing in front of him.
"No, I won't apologize, and I don't understand why I'm to be punished for doing what I thought was right. What kind of people are you, anyway. That rite of succession ceremony of your is brutal."
"Jenny," the Doctor said in warning. His voice was harder that she had ever heard it, but she continued on.
"I thought I was saving his life. What kind of people are you that makes someone go through something like that?"
The Doctor reached forward and grasped her arm. He pulled her back until she rested against his check. Leaning down, he whispered in her ear, "You will stop this immediately and apologize to King Swemin or you will not like the consequences." Jenny wrenched her arm from her father's grasp and turned to meet his eyes. What she saw there scared her.
When she turned back to look at King Swemin, the expression on his face was nearly as scary as her father's. She swallowed hard. "I apologize." She hoped it sounded more sincere than she felt.
King Swemin had to fight to keep his features stern rather than smirk. "Doctor, you've got your work cut out for you with this one. Young lady," he said, turning his attention to Jenny, "if I weren't positive your father will thoroughly see to your discipline, I would add to it for your disrespect."
Both men nodded their farewells. The Doctor, along with Jenny and Donna, watched as the king turned and walked from the room.
"What did he mean he was turning Jenny over to you for discipline? What kind of discipline?" Donna demanded. Jenny wanted to ask the same question, but her emerging sense of self-preservation warned her to keep quiet.
"Not now, Donna. We'll discuss it back on the TARDIS." He took Jenny by the arm. "Let's go."