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Wayward Son, Chapter 7: One Man, One Heart

The rest of the afternoon and evening passed rapidly for the Doctor.  Before he knew it, he was animatedly talking over dessert with his… family.

When, exactly, had he started thinking of Pete, Jackie and Tony as his family?  His family.  The words and the warmth that came with them frightened him more than a bit.  He hadn’t thought of having a family since before the War.  The loss of his family on Gallifrey and across the universe, his entire House, his House’s long heritage, had been the cruelest of icing on the bitter cake that was the loss of his entire species and planet.  To preserve his sanity, if one could say he preserved any, he never allowed himself to think for an instance that he might ever again have such a thing.  He never allowed himself the luxury of thinking he ever deserved to have another family.

And oh, what a rag-tag family he now found himself in.  A woman from an alternate universe, dead in this one, married to a man from this universe, who himself was dead in the other.  Together they had built a home and a life together with their son.  Their son, Tony, was the unique product of two different dimensions.  Tony, who sometimes referred to the Doctor as his uncle, was actually more akin to a brother.  If, by some miracle, the Doctor was able to accomplish what he hoped he could, Tony would eventually become his brother-in-law.

Timey-whimy, wibbley-wobbly.  A family as such only a Time Lord could have.  Actually, a family only as such a Time Lord could create.

And there was no doubt that he’d had a hand in the creation of this family.  He’d played match-maker between Pete and Jackie.  Granted, Pete and Jackie didn’t need much encouragement, but he’d seen the convergence of potential timelines.  Both he and the other Doctor had seen that Rose Tyler’s timelines could go either way, but the most potential existed in the parallel universe he now inhabited.

What he couldn’t see, because no Time Lord could see his own timelines clearly and directly (other than where he’d been, like a breadcrumb trail to avoid paradoxes), was how he would fit within Rose’s family in Pete’s World.  Or that he even could.

Ooooooh, but the other must have seen mine, he thought.  He hadn’t thought of that.  He was used to not having a sharp vision of his own timeline, and actually, Time Lords instinctually avoided looking at their own.  He never thought of how the other Him saw his timeline, because he never once thought that he could.  The first tenth Doctor, the original Doctor, was him, after all.

But the point of divergence was the moment he was created.  It wasn’t much of a divergence in those first few hours, but their timelines would have started separating and unraveling slowly from that moment on.  He was still the Doctor, but a different Doctor.  Like psychic twins, they were inextricably linked by common memories and experiences, yet separate and distinctly apart in memories, experiences and bodies after the Meta-crisis.

Oh, poor Rose.  No wonder you’re confused!  We were Time Lords, and even we couldn’t figure it out at first.  How could I have articulated something I hadn’t yet fully understood myself?  And perhaps, I hope anyway, he understood that I would have forever stood in his shadow if I’d stayed with him.

Dinner and dessert was over all too soon, and Jackie was busy preparing Tony to settle down for the night.  Rather than have Jackie take the initiative, he decided he’d wait for her in the library.  He picked a book from the shelf at random, which was his custom since he’d arrived in Pete’s World, and settled down to read.

Oi, of course.  Moby Dick.  Not a good omen, is it?  The marks on my face have finally faded, and soon I may have harpoon puncture marks to replace them.

Sighing, he decided to start reading the book, and was fascinated to find there were subtle differences in Melville’s classic in the parallel world.  In this version, Ahab was still just as obsessive, mad and tyrannical, but he survived along with Ishmael.  By the time he finished the book, Jackie arrived into the library carrying a tray of tea and homemade biscuits.  Unless she’d baked aspirin into the biscuits, aspirin still being a lethal poison for his new body, his fortune seemed to be improving.

“There you are,” she said as she set down the tray.  “Thought you’d be upstairs, so I checked there first.”

“Thought I’d do some reading while I waited for you, Jackie,” he said with a slight smile.  “Did you know that Moby Dick reads a little differently in this universe?”

“Nope, ‘cause I didn’t read it in ours,” she replied.  “I’m more of a Mills & Boone girl, myself.”

The Doctor was thankful he didn’t have tea or biscuit in his mouth yet, or it would have fallen out.  Shutting his jaw so quickly his teeth clicked, he hoped Jackie hadn’t caught his expression.

He took a deep breath.  “Sooooo,” he drawled, looking around the room.  “I don’t see any drop cloths or plastic sheets out to catch blood spatter, Jackie.”

“Aww, you,” she said with a little giggle.  “We’re not havin’ this talk one-sided, and I’m not gonna slap you, unless you don’t keep a civil tongue in your head.  I jus’ think we need to have a little heart-to-heart.  An’ I’m sorry.  I’m really, really sorry I slapped you so hard this morning, but I couldn’t help myself, Doctor.  I can’t stand anyone hurtin’ me kids, ever.”

He nodded, looking down a little as she poured him a cup of tea.  “You were right to do it, Jackie.  I deserved it.  I didn’t exactly behave in a civilized manner with Rose.”

“Doctor, I consider you a part of this family.  Sometimes families fight over the daftest things, but we forgive each other and move on.  All the same, I don’t expect anything like that to happen ever again and I won’t tolerate it, but I forgive you this once.”

“Thank you, Jackie.  I promise you it’ll never happen again,” the Doctor said gravely.  She was surprised to see that there was something very different about the Doctor.  He was looking her directly in the eye, and she saw something she hadn’t seen since he’d arrived at the mansion.  There was a spark of life, a confidence she hadn’t seen in a long time in the cast of his features.  Something had changed.

“Rose and I talked before you came back, and again before she left for her flat,” she began.  “She told me a little bit of what happened.  She was wrong to say those things to you.”

The Doctor’s eyes widened in surprise.  Never would he have expected Jackie to take his side against Rose, no matter how mildly.  He was speechless.

“Is she ok?” he queried carefully.  He hoped he didn’t cause any serious bruises to her body or ego.

“She’s so confused, Doctor.  She had a dream that she would get back to the Doctor and the TARDIS, and she pursued it with all her heart and her energy for three years, day and night.  We watched her get hurt, many, many times, and then she’d go right back at it.  She was obsessed with getting back.  She didn’t care who she hurt or who she stepped on or used to do it.  We were very concerned about it, but no one was able to really stop her.  We were gutted about it.”

“She told me in so many words,” the Doctor said.  “I hadn’t known how much she’d been through.  It sounds like she almost lost her life a few times.”

“More than a few, Doctor.  Much more.”

“I didn’t know,” he said quietly.  The sadness in his huge brown eyes and a hitch in his breath told her everything.

“Do you love her, Doctor?”

“Yes,” he answered emphatically.  “I’m but one man, and I have but one heart and one life, as you well know.  I may not be exactly the same man living the same lifestyle that she was looking for.  But I’m him in that I remember every minute we shared together when I was him, and I love her just as much.  He could never give her what she needs, Jackie.  He knew that.

He lives a dangerous life, you know that.  He hasn’t survived much longer than four years per regeneration his last few lives.  He’s the Last Time Lord in that universe, and he has responsibilities that he can’t delegate or shirk.  There’s no one to delegate them to since the Last Great Time War.  All of the other Time Lords are gone.  He lived everyday worrying if he was going to lose Rose somehow, even if it was to old age.  He knew that eventually he had to go on without her, and it hurt him terribly to think about that day.  He knew he probably could never keep her completely safe, or settle down and have a family with her.  It was the one adventure he could never have.”

“But you can,” Jackie asked, looking deeply into his eyes.  “You can settle down and have a family with her?  She said you could make another TARDIS or something.”

He nodded slowly.  “I think so.  I mean, it wouldn’t matter because I don’t have his responsibilities.  At least, not the same level of responsibility to the universe.  I don’t need to run around righting every wrong in the universe.  It would be futile, anyway. 

You know I’m part human, thanks to Donna.  My lifetime is only a drop in the bucket, compared to his.  I might make it another seventy years or a little more, but that’s only if I’m lucky.  If I grow the TARDIS, it’ll be to travel with her or our family, and I’d never take them into harm’s way.

And there’s another benefit of being part human; one that I haven’t mentioned to either of you yet.  According to the medical scans, there exists the potential for us to have children together.  The chances are quite good, actually.  We’re more genetically compatible from a reproductive standpoint, if that’s what she wants.  I even sleep longer, closer to a normal human sleep pattern, so I wouldn’t be bouncing around like Tigger all night while she’s in bed.

I’m not afraid to say forever, Jackie.  My forever, Jackie… not just hers!  I’m not afraid to promise to spend it with her, if only she’ll take it.  Just think, I can grow old with her, Jackie!  She wouldn’t have to grow old and watch as I looked a youthful thirty-five the entire time.  Or even worse, regenerate into what looks like an even younger man.  I wouldn’t have to dread eons of time lonely without her because I live too long.  I only have one life to live, and I want it to be with her.”

He handed Jackie a napkin as her eyes filled with tears.  “But I supposed I’ve mucked that all up now, eh?” he added with a wry smile.

“I’m not gonna lie to you, Doctor.  She’s a stubborn woman.  An’ she’s still loyal to the other one.  She’s not seeing you as the Doctor at all.  She’s worried that the other Doctor is out there alone, and it’s driving her mad.”

“She’s not completely wrong,” he said, catching Jackie by surprise.  ‘But there’s something she doesn’t know, Jackie.  There’s someone in his future.  Someone I’m almost 100% sure he’s going to marry someday.  It could be one year, or 200 years in the future, for all we know.  Neither of us knows quite when in his timeline it will be, but we’ve met her.”

“You’ve met his future wife?!?”  Jackie’s eyes were wide with shock.  “How do you know he’ll marry her?”

He looked a little disturbed as he swallowed hard.  “She knows something.  Something that she could only know if they were in a very close, very formal relationship.  Something that only he could tell her.  He couldn’t have told her it outside a very important ritual.  She knew my Gallifreyan name.  Not the one that I chose, not the Doctor.  She knew my real name, Jackie.  And it shocked us to the core.”

Jackie couldn’t help but to notice that he now periodically referred to himself and the other Doctor as “we” and was more likely to call the other “he” in conversation.  It wasn’t consistent yet, but the separation of identities was in progress.  “You need to tell her, Doctor.  You need to tell her about this other woman.  Maybe she’ll understand that he won’t always be alone.”

“Maybe.  I’m not sure if that’s the right thing to do, Jackie.  Won’t it just hurt her?”

She nodded.  “I’m sure it will, at first.  But it needs to be said.  She needs to understand that he’s gonna move on in the other universe, and that he has a future that won’t include her.”

“But that’s not my future.  I’ll never see her again; River Song is her name.  But he will.  I was everything that he ever was.  But now I realize that I’m much, much more.  I’m the Doctor, but I’m also my own man,” he said with boldness and decisiveness she hadn’t heard since before the Doctor split into two.  “I need to make my own way in this world.  Right now, she just sees me as a copy, an inferior copy, of what she remembers.  I don’t really exist for her as a complete man.  Somehow, I’ve got to convince her that I can stand on my own two feet and gain respect.  That I’m worthy of her love in my own right.”

He smiled another crooked smile.  “I don’t need a TARDIS for that, do I?”

“No you don’t,” Jackie agreed.  “Although, you might wanna start with a proper job.”

“Saw that one coming,” he laughed.  “I’m going to ask Pete tomorrow about going into Torchwood One with him next week.  I may accept his offer to work there in research.”

“Oh, Doctor!” she exclaimed, clapping her hands together.  “That’s wonderful!”

“I don’t think Rose will like it, though,” he added with a frown.

“Don’t you worry about that.  She’ll get over it.”

“I’m not so sure about that.  We didn’t exactly part on good terms,” he half moaned.

“You made more of a dent then ya think, Doctor.  I think she saw more of the Doctor in you last night then since you first came here.”

He rolled his eyes.  “Oh, fantastic.  The worst part of the Doctor, that is.  She probably doesn’t want to be within 100 yard of me now.  What am I going to do?”

“You’re gonna make her respect you, that’s what you’re gonna do,” Jackie shot back, a hard glitter to her eyes.

“You think I should get a flat of my own?  Show I can take care of myself?  Prove I’m not afraid of mortgages, even if I truly am?”

“No, not jus’ yet, love.  Build up a little nest egg first, then let’s talk about it,” she said.

Puzzled, he seemed a little unsure of himself suddenly.  “Then what?”

“I think you should start seeing someone else.  Nothing serious, just casual little dates or outings with another woman,” Jackie blithely said with a wave of her hand.

The Doctor almost dropped his cup of tea, right then and there.

“What?!?,” he yelped.  “WHAT?”  His eyes were huge and round.  His eyebrows almost disappeared into his hairline.

“You heard me.  Start goin’ out with some hotsy-totsy socialite that’s everythin’ she ain’t,” she nodded sagely.

“Jackie, have you gone completely mad?” he asked, totally incredulous.  “No.  No, no, no, no, no!”

“No, Doctor, please hear me out,” she explained as he shook his head vigorously.

“Jackie, I can’t,” he said, almost sounding like he was going to start hyperventilating.  “I just can’t.  I literally, literally just can’t.  How could you think I could ever do something like that?!?”

“Doctor, let me explain something to you.  There is nothin’, nothin’ at all, that will get a woman’s attention faster than it lookin’ like her man is gettin’ away.  Trust me on that.”

By now the Doctor was truly agitated, panting a bit and pulling at his hair as if he was in terrible distress, which he was.  “Jackie… Jackie… I can’t begin to tell you how… absolutely… positively… barmy that sounds!  How in Krop Tor is that supposed to create trust between us, let alone respect?”

“Look, the two of you had a fight.  She’s feelin’ a bit guilty about what she said.  She’s even questionin’ whether she’s right about you not bein’ the Doctor.  Now is the perfect time to do it… to let her think that you’re doin’ it because she didn’t show you proper respect.  You need to strike while the iron is hot,” she emphasized by pounding her fist into her hand.

“There’s been no one for me since long before I met Rose,” he admitted, still shaking his head.  “I can’t start seeing other women now.  I can’t start cheating on her right after telling her I love her.  That’s absolutely barking mad!”

“Oi, I didn’t say anything about cheatin’ on her!  You don’t have to shag ‘em, you know!  All’s you got to do is show you have somethin’ that other women want.  You’re gorgeous, you can have any woman you want, and you’re hurt.  Don’t let that go to your head, by the way,” she added with an eye roll.  “That’s just your tag line.”

The Doctor was scrubbing his face now, trying to reign in his whirling thoughts.  “I dunno, Jackie.  I just dunno.  This is so confusing and so counter-intuitive.  And it makes my single heart hurt.  I’d only gotten a little used to just one.”

“That’s ‘cause you’re a bloke and you’re all gormless,” she insisted.  “It’ll work to get her attention, I promise you.  And according to Rose, it’s not like you haven’t run off with other women before.”

He stopped and sat stock-still now, mouth open, face contorted in consternation.”  “WHAT?!?  WHAT?!?”

“Yup.  Told me all about how you ran off and left her and Mickey to be with that French whore, Madame de Pomp… Pomp… something.”

“Pompadour… Reinette,” he stated flatly.

“That’s her!  Said ya didn’t even have a way of gettin’ back to ‘em.”

“I never!  I didn’t run off with her, Jackie.  She was about to get killed by some clockwork droids, and I had to preserve the timelines.  She was a fixed point in time!  I couldn’t just let it go.”

“Said you bragged about snoggin’ her,” Jackie glared.

“Oi!” he yelped.  “She snogged me, not the other way around!”

“Ooooh, so you do admit to snoggin’ some of the ladies since you met my Rose,” Jackie snorted in vindication.  “Who else ya been snoggin’, eh?”

Suddenly the Oncoming Pout appeared.  “Nobody,” he muttered.  “Weeelll, only a couple, and it isn’t what you think, Jackie!”

“Who else, Doctor?”  She fixed him with a stony look that made him squirm a bit.

“I swear, it’s not what you think.  I mean, once… just once, I had to do a genetic transfer to Martha.  It only looked like I snogged her, an’ that… that was just so the Judoon thought she wasn’t human.  And the only other time was with Donna, but that was completely and utterly for shock value and I couldn’t know she was going to do it.  I needed it to detox from a poisoning.  Oooh, wait.  I forgot about Astrid on the Titanic.  But she was disintegrating into star dust at the time, so that shouldn’t count.  And then there was the time I had to kiss Martha’s Sontaran-created clone, although the details on why I had to do that are fading… but I assure you it was not for pleasure, oh no.  Oooooh… and I almost forgot about Joan Redfern when I went into hiding from the Family of Blood.  Now, that… that…that was a real kiss, but it totally… I mean literally… cannot count for any reason whatsoever, because I was not in my right mind, had none of my memories, and thought I was some bloke named John Smith.”

Jackie looked as if she were about ready to deliver one of her stinging slaps, causing the Doctor to sit back on the sofa.  “Anyone ya missed,” she asked sarcastically.

“Jack.  Jack Harkness, and I swear, Jackie.  I swear that’s it.”

“Jack?  You kissed Jack Harkness,” she asked with a look of disgust on her face.

“Yup,” he said with a pop of the “p” at the end.  “I’d rather not talk about it.  I’m still traumatized.”

“Doctor, all that sucking face, and now you’re gonna sit there and tell me you haven’t been with anyone, other than a snog here and there… and everywhere, apparently… since you met Rose?”

“Yup, I haven’t been with anyone like that in… oh… at least two regenerations,” he confirmed.  He frowned.  “Maybe even longer.  It’s been awhile.”

“No shaggin’, you’re tellin’ me.”

“Nope,” he said emphatically, with another pop of his “p”.

“Not even with the French tart.”

“Especially not with the Fren… uhm… Reinette.  I mean, she was attractive.  Brilliant, I’ll say that.  I did find her attractive, but I didn’t touch her.”

“So what were you waitin’ for, Doctor.  Seems like women were throwin’ themselves at you.”

“Well, part of the time before I met Rose, I was not in a good place emotionally.  It was after the War, and I didn’t let anyone near me.  Didn’t travel with anyone, even.  Rose was the first after the War.”

“You mentioned a War before.  You were in a War?”

“Yeah,” he said simply.  “And I don’t want to talk about it.”

“And after you lost Rose at Canary Wharf?” she pressed.

“I was in mourning.  Wore blue a lot.  Blue’s the color of mourning… was the color of mourning… on Gallifrey.  No one could hold a candle to Rose.  I couldn’t bear the thought of anyone replacing Rose,” he said quietly.  “Donna just showed up out of the blue on the TARDIS.  We had an understanding that we were just mates.  I never intended to ever have another traveling companion.”

“So, you kinda want to save yourself for Rose then, so that’s why you don’t wanna go out with anyone else?”

The Doctor’s neck and face turned a startling crimson in embarrassment.  “Oi, no!  No!!  I mean… Oh, Rassilon’s Rod of Lordly Might, woman!  Can you emasculate a bloke more?!?”  He scrubbed his face in frustration.  “Yes,” he finally mumbled from behind his hands.

“Oh, Doctor,” Jackie said, obviously very touched.  “That’s the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard.  You’re quite the romantic, aren’t you?”

“Jackie,” he began in earnest.  “You can’t tell Rose that!  Please don’t tell her that… don’t tell anyone that.  I’d die a million deaths!”

“Thought you only had the one life, you silly alien,” Jackie teased.

“I’d die every nanosecond.  Time Lord, me.  Promise me, Jackie!”

“I promise.  Your secret’s safe with me, Doctor,” she stated sincerely.

Why… oh, why, do I find myself confiding in Jackie Tyler?  Oh, how the mighty have fallen, he thought.  This has to be Donna’s influence!  But if she can help me get back to Rose… she may be exactly the ally I need. No one knows Rose better than she.

“By the way, Jackie.  I was thinking of sending some flowers to Rose in the morning, with an apology note.”  Anything to get off this subject, he thought.

“I think that’s a grand idea,” she said with approval.

“Do you think roses are too cliché?  Roses for Rose?” he ventured.

“I don’t think so,” she said.  “I would hope she’d be touched.  And it might be perfect timing.  She’ll be here tomorrow night for Sunday dinner.  She could thank you then.”

He blanched a little, the freckles across his cheeks and nose stood out against his pale skin.  “Oh,” he said, sounding a little faint of heart by the thought.

“Play it kind of cool, if you know what I mean.  You might not want to mention that you think you were made just for her,” she warned.  “Sounds a lit’l bit barmy.  And a lit’l desperate.”

“I get that,” he nodded.  “But do you think it’s ok if I mention how I think the TARDIS was responsible for my creation?  Let her reach her own conclusion?  I don’t know if she knows I took the Vortex energy from her, and that’s why my previous self died, although I think she may have figured it out.  Jack may even have told her.”

“That may be safe, if you make it sound like one of your adventures.  Sort of like how you tell Tony stories, eh?  It could make for fun dinner conversation.”

“Oookaay…,” he said, lost in thought.

“And Doctor.  Please think about what I said.  Sleep on it tonight,” she urged.  “I know a few girls who would do.  There’s no lack of beautiful, rich, bored heiresses around here who aren’t interested in commitment.  You wouldn’t be hurtin’ nobody.  And I’ll be watchin’ you, so you won’t be tempted to go astray no matter what,” she said with a wink.

“I don’t know, Jackie.  I just don’t know.  But I’ll… think about it,” he stated noncommittally. 

“We’ll tell ‘em that you’re just lookin’ for a mate.  Somebody to go to social functions with and eat at fancy restaurants every now and then.  You know.  You don’t even have to snog her.  You can be eye candy long enough for Rose to notice, right?  It wouldn’t take long, especially if you’re workin’ at Torchwood!  And don’t forget, you live in the Tyler mansion.  Everyone will be watchin’ and talkin’.”

He shuddered at the thought.  Oh, the shame, he inwardly groaned.  Eye candy.  Aren’t I already eye candy?  Now I’m gonna look like an expensive escort?  Jackie, what are you trying to do to me????

“Just leave the selection up to me.  A blind date, yeah?  Just to up your stock, yeah?”

“Let’s talk about this later, Jackie,” he whispered.  “I can’t get my head around it right now.  Maybe I’m just tired.” 

And maybe I am doing exactly what you said.  I’m saving myself for Rose.  I don’t want to go out with anyone but Rose.  I don’t want to hold hands with anyone but Rose.  I don’t want to ever kiss anyone in this new body but Rose.  And the first time I…

Stopping his train of thought, he looked over to Jackie and bid his goodnight.  Tomorrow would be the first day toward the rest of his life… with Rose.  On that he swore to any deity listening.


**************************************
Ten II and Jackie have their discussion after dinner. Once again, Jackie throws Ten II off and proposes an unorthodox strategy for winning Rose back.

My apologies, but I promise that Rose will be back in the next chapter, for sure!  Also, I found that I made a grievious continuity error in my earlier copy that went out on Teaspoon.  Ten II never met Christina de Souza.  That occurred after JE.  D'oh!!  Fixed in this version.  Mea culpa!

Title: Wayward Son - Chapter 7: One Man, One Heart
Characters: Jackie Tyler; Ten II; Pete Tyler; Tony Tyler
Genre: Alternate Universe; Angst; Character Study; Het; Romance
Author's Description: Set mostly in the AU of Pete's World; TenII hits a big snag in his efforts to forge a new life with Rose and finds himself facing an unexpected identify crisis.
Length: WIP
Rating: Teen for slight swearing