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Wayward Son, Chapter 10: What's On My Mind

The smells of roasted lamb and potatoes wafted through the house, giving it a homey feel.  The Doctor had been invited to cocktails in the family room with Pete.  Thirty minutes before the meal he’d gone downstairs to join Pete, who was well ahead of him in the imbibition game.

Pete’s favorite poison was single-malt Scotch whiskeys, so he waved the Doctor over to the bar and pointed out a couple of his favorites.  A bottle of Lagavulin 16 year-old, and a Bruichlauddich in a black bottle that the Doctor didn’t quite recognize, sat on the bar.

“What’s this?” he asked Pete, whose eyes were twinkling as brightly as old St. Nicholas’ on Christmas morning.

“Oh, that’s a man’s drink, son.  It’s called Octomore 3/152, one of the most heavily-peated single malts in the industry,” he said with pride.

“It’s from Bruichlauddich, so it’s obviously an Islay,” the Doctor murmured, proving he had some degree of knowledge in Scotch whiskeys.  In truth, he liked Scotch but wasn’t much of a drinker.  Time Lords were efficient in metabolizing alcohol, and could control the degree of metabolism so that they would feel its effects only if desired.  Having had his masculinity challenged, he wasn’t about to refuse.

“I’ll try it, Pete.  But aren’t most of Bruichlauddich whiskey’s rather lacking in peat, compared to most Islays?”

“Correct.  Historically Laddies aren’t particularly peaty,” Pete responded as he poured a generous dram into a whiskey glass.  “But in the past decade or so they’ve got some very progressive distillers who aren’t afraid to experiment.  Their bottlings are now all over the place in terms of peat content.  Let me know what you think,” he said as he handed the glass to him.

Swirling the sunny gold liquid in his glass, the Doctor finally took a gentle sniff of the whiskey.  His eyes widened as he took another, deeper sniff.

“Blimey,” he uttered quietly in surprise, drawing a deep chuckle from Pete.  He took a careful sip of the whiskey, closing his eyes as he let the warm liquid wash over his tongue.  A blissful look crossed his face as he savored it.

“Pete,” he finally began, “did they distill the entire Scottish bog into this?”

Pete broke into howls of laughter.  “No, Doctor, there’s actually a peatier distillation that they don’t release to the public.  Is it a bit too much for you?”

“Oh, no.  No, no, Pete.  It’s a shock of peat at first, like you’ve just taken a big bite of a block of peat bog.  But now I can taste a bit of… sea salt.  And licorice.  Lots of smoke.  Something like, dark chocolate and… something herbaceous.  Thyme, perhaps?”

“Very good, Doctor,” Pete said with complete approval.  “So, you like it?”

“I love it!” he exclaimed.  “I wonder if they made this in the parallel world?  I would have been quite the lush if I knew this existed.”

Jackie swept into the room, dressed in a casual pantsuit, but hair arranged to perfection.  She stopped as soon as she saw Pete and the Doctor at the bar.  She gasped when she saw the Doctor.

“Oooh, Doctor!  You look gorgeous,” she cried.  “Come here and let me look at you.”

He blushed, something he still wasn’t quite used to doing, and approached Jackie with arms outstretched to show her what he was wearing.  He’d stuck to his usual dark denim jeans, a white broadcloth shirt, and layered it with a dark blue wool jumper.  His tie was a medium red with an interlocking blue ring pattern.  This time he’d worn a tweed jacket in a light brown color with elbow patches, just to dress up a little.

“You look marvelous,” Jackie gushed as she embraced him.  She pulled back slightly to look at his chest.

“What’s this,” she asked as she felt the little tie clip he was wearing.

“Oh, just something I found about a month ago and never wore,” he shrugged.  It was a small pink-gold tie clip with a single tiny miniature pink-gold rose attached.  Jackie smiled knowingly.

“Oi,” she suddenly started, waving her hand in front of her nose.  “You smell like that dreadful whiskey Pete drinks, mixed with aftershave!”

“Sorry,” he said with a contrite smile.

Jackie softened and gave him another tight hug.  The Doctor hugged her back and said quietly in her ear, “You’re a brilliant Mum, Jackie Tyler.  Have I ever told you that?”

Jackie pulled back a little, the look on her face saying it all.  Obviously, he hadn’t said it before, because her eyes began to fill with tears.

“Thank you, Doctor,” she choked out.  “Now stop it before I have to do my makeup again.”  She dabbed at her eyes before heading back out to the dining room.  “Dinner will be ready in 20 minutes, and Rose should be here any second,” she called over her shoulder.

A twinge of anxiety passed through the Doctor at Jackie’s announcement, just as Tony barreled into the family room.  He brushed past Jackie and ran full tilt to wrap himself around the Doctor’s leg.  “Doctor!!” he screeched in glee.

The Doctor picked Tony up and whirled him above his head in their familiar greeting.  “Tony, my lad!” he laughed.  Sliding the boy down to chest level, he gave him a tight hug as Tony wrapped his arms around his neck in a choking embrace.

“I was lookin’ for you to play video games with me, Doctor.  But Mum said you were takin’ a kip,” he said with a pout.

“I’m so sorry, Tony,” the Doctor told him with a slight frown.  “I was a bit knackered because I didn’t sleep too well last night.”

Tony’s face became a little more animated.  “Did you see the big lion?!?”

He was so shocked that he almost dropped the tyke.  “Li…lion, Tony?”

“You had to see him, Doctor,” Tony cried.  “He was ginormous!” he said with his arms outspread above his head to demonstrate the size of the creature.

“Wh-where, Tony?” he stammered.  “Where did you see a lion?”

Tony frowned and seemed to be thinking.  “I’m not sure.  It was someplace weird.”

“Hullo,” came a voice from the doorway.

“Roooose!” screamed Tony as he wiggled to be put down.  The Doctor set him on his feet, and he ran to jump up into Rose’s arms.  Pete shot him a glance that said he didn’t miss the shocked look on the Doctor’s face, but he went to Rose to give her a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

Rose greeted her brother and step-dad while the Doctor tried to compose himself and his face enough to extend a proper greeting.

“Hullo, Rose,” he said when he finally found his voice.

“Hullo,” she responded simply, a cordial social smile on her face as she continued to hold Tony.

Still Uomo senza nome, he thought.  Man with no name.

Pete was surreptitiously sidling his way over to the Doctor, leaving Rose and Tony to chatter away.  The Doctor broke the silence first.

“Pete, I think I could use a tad more of that Octomore, if that’s alright.”  Pete nodded and walked with him back to the bar to get his drink.

“What was that about a lion, Doctor,” Pete asked quietly so that Rose couldn’t hear.

“I’m not totally sure,” he replied.  He hadn’t decided yet if it would be prudent to tell Pete and Jackie anything until he talked to Tony more.

“You looked like you’d seen a ghost.”

“It caught me by surprise, Pete.  Could be a complete coincidence, but I did have a dream during my kip that had a lion in it.  Guess I was just startled.”

Pete appeared mildly concerned, but only gave out a small grunt.

“If it’s ok with you, I’d like to ask Tony about the lion sometime later.  Just to see what he was really on about,” the Doctor carefully asked.

“That’s fine.  But if it’s not a complete coincidence, I expect you to tell me immediately,” Pete said in a serious tone.

“Absolutely, Pete.  You have my word,” the Doctor assured him.  He drained his glass, barely tasting the fine Scotch.

They both stopped talking as Rose approached them, and then faced the Doctor expectantly.

“May I speak with you for a second,” she asked, a neutral expression revealing none of her emotions.

“Of course,” he said.  Pete gave him a reassuring glance as he walked away after a nod to Rose.

She crossed her arms across her chest and looked the Doctor in the eye.

“I just wanted to thank you for the lovely flowers and vase.  And the note, of course,” she began.

“You’re quite welcome,” he responded automatically.  “I… I… It was the least that I could do,” he finally stammered.  He was blushing furiously, he knew.

“You’re blushing,” Rose said with a crooked smile.

“I… I know,” he said, feeling his face grow even hotter.  “I can’t seem to control it now.  Quite embarrassing, it is,” he admitted with a grin.  His face grew more serious.  “But Rose, I am really, truly sorry.  I don’t know what came over me and… .”

“It’s ok,” she interrupted.  “I said some things I shouldn’t have, so it’s partially my fault.  I forgive you.”  Her eyes dropped down to his tie clip, and seemed to be held there.

“Really?” he blurted, quite surprised by Rose’s response.  “Oh, thank you, Rose!” he gushed, wanting to grab her and give her a hug.  He quickly stuffed his hands into his pockets instead to keep them from getting him into trouble.

He noticed Rose’s cheeks take on a reddened appearance as she reached up to twist her necklace and avert her gaze to the right.

Uh oh, now what, he wondered as he looked down.  In putting his hands into his pockets, his jumper rucked up in front to almost waist level.  Rose had inadvertently gotten a good view of his extremely tight denim trousers.

Hah! She looked again, he thought in triumph.  Biting his lip to keep a silly smile from plastering itself on, he turned to Pete.

“Pete, shall we see if dinner is ready?  I do believe it’s time, and the smell of the lamb is driving me barmy,” he said.

“Not arguing with a Time Lord,” Pete said with a laugh.  The three of them retired to the dining room where the staff had just finished setting the table.

The Doctor gave up his usual position at the table to Rose, gallantly offering her the chair to the right of Pete.  Instead of taking the next seat to the right of Rose, he chose to sit in the third seat on the left, right next to Tony.

Jackie leaned forward to look at him, frowning.

“What the devil are you doin’ way down there, Doctor?” Jackie asked.

“Uhm… well… I thought we were going by age, Jackie.  Technically, Tony’s older than me, so… “

Jackie’s glare caught his eye and stopped his gob instantly.

“Sit over there by Rose,” she hissed with an imperious point to his new position.  “Didn’t you notice there was no place settin’ where you’re sittin’?”

“Yes, ma’am,” he answered with a sloppy salute.  He got up, walked around the table and slid in next to Rose.  It occurred to him as he sat that he was feeling just a bit woozy.

Oh, blimey, he thought.  I think I lost control over alcohol metabolism with the meta-crisis.  Not good.  He made a mental note to watch his gob over dinner.  Now was not the time to have a Donna moment.

The kitchen staff started bringing in the steaming platters of food.  He was thrilled to see the broiled rack of lamb.  He did love his bit of lamb, although he abhorred mint sauce.  Thankfully, the mint sauce was in a saucière on the side.  The lamb was accompanied by little potatoes (oh, love little potatoes), glazed carrots (meh), sautéed green beans with almond slivers (pass) and oven-roasted Brussels sprouts (are you kidding).

One of the rituals surrounding the Tyler dining room table was that one had to sample a little of every dish as it was passed around.  Chattering merrily about current events, the family passed the dishes around as everyone served themselves from the platters and bowls.

The Doctor loaded up on lamb and potatoes, placed two slices of carrots on his plate and skillfully managed to maneuver one single string bean out of the bowl.  When the Brussels sprouts arrived, he used Time Lord slight of hand to appear to place a sprout on his plate as he chattered away, seemingly oblivious to the fact that no sprouts were actually transferred.  It did not go unnoticed.

“Doctor,” Jackie interrupted sweetly.  “It seems you’ve somehow missed the sprouts, dear heart.”

“Ate it already,” he said, the very poster child of innocence.

Jackie fixed him with an ominous stare, her eyes narrowed.  “Well, I thought I did,” he mumbled as he cracked under her gaze.  “I mean, didn’t I?  No?”

He sighed and picked the bowl back up to scoop a single sprout onto his plate.  Actually, it was only half a sprout, since they’d been neatly sliced in half before roasting.  The little green half, perfectly caramelized on one side, stared up at him as he eyed it suspiciously.  He could see Rose’s shoulders shaking in the periphery of his vision as she tried to stifle her giggles.

“Just try it,” Jackie urged.  “Roasting them caramelizes the sprouts and brings out their sweetness.  I’ll bet you’ve never tried them that way before.”  Tony was grinning and took a big bite of a sprout to demonstrate his mastery over the vegetable and issuing the Doctor a challenge at the same time.

“Aw, now aren’t you just the brave one,” he said to Tony in answer to his challenge.  “But see, I learned a trick from the Bad Wolf.  She could just wave her hand and things would disappear into thin air,” he said.  He heard Rose suck in a breath, but he didn’t respond.

“You can make things disappear,” asked Tony, suddenly very interested.

“Oh, yes… but I have to really, really, really want it to go away.  Like… really green vegetables.”

Dinner continued as they ate, with the Doctor spinning a fanciful tale about the Bad Wolf entity who once inhabited a beautiful princess named Jasmine.  He changed enough of the details and character names that Tony would think it was simply that - a fairy tale.  But he knew Rose would recognize many of the events and people.

The Doctor himself became a Frog Prince, who was in love with the beautiful Jasmine.  The TARDIS became a magnificent sentient space ship called the Voyager, Jack was just a swashbuckling captain called the Captain, and Daleks became Evil Pepper Pots from the planet Scary.

When he got to the part of the story where Princess Jasmine took on the power of the Voyager and brought the Captain back to life, making him immortal, he heard a sharp intake of breath from Rose.

So, it appears she didn’t know, he thought.  He was almost sure Jack would have told her on the way back to the Sol system from the Medusa Cascade; but then again, they were pretty busy piloting the ship.  But it was important that she understand the events that led to his creation.  Bad Wolf was definitely a part of that.

He continued his story, vaguely noticing that Rose had stopped eating and was staring into space as he spoke.  Pete and Jackie were listening quietly as they ate, sometimes giving each other meaningful glances or watching Rose’s reaction.  When he got to the part where the Frog Prince took the Bad Wolf from Princess Jasmine with a kiss and died, Rose gasped.  She turned to look at him with wide eyes, but said nothing.

He finished his story with a flourish, explaining how the Frog Prince returned to life as a handsome humanoid Prince Charming.  He gave the Princess her human Prince Charming, sending them off in the Voyager to happily travel the stars forever after.

“And that,” he told Tony, “is how I learned to make things disappear!”

“But your sprout is still on your plate, Doctor,” Tony said with a laugh.

“Weeelll… I guess I don’t want it to go away nearly enough,” he sighed.  “Guess I’ll have to do it the old-fashioned way.”  He popped the dratted vegetable into his mouth and chewed only enough to swallow it without choking.

Rose was uncharacteristically quiet for the rest of dinner, saying little as they devoured dessert.  The Doctor couldn’t be more pleased with the dessert menu, because it was a honey-baked banana dessert dish served with vanilla ice-cream and chocolate sauce.  Jackie soaked up the praises he heaped on her for her exquisitely selected dinner menu.  He knew she chose the dessert just for him.

After dinner, they retired to the family room again to play a round of video games with Tony before he had to go to bed.  Pete shared more of his fine Scotch with the Doctor when he wasn’t playing with Tony, seemingly aware that the Doctor needed a little liquid courage.

Soon it was time to prepare Tony for his bedtime.  Jackie came to the Doctor and asked, quietly, “Are you two going to be alright while we get Tony ready for bed?”

He nodded.  “I think it’ll be fine, Jackie.  I promise I’ll behave myself,” he said with a smile.  She smiled her encouragement as she and Pete took Tony upstairs.

Rose sat on one of the couches, appearing to be lost in thought.  She looked up at the Doctor finally, her eyes sad and bewildered.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” she finally said.

“Excuse me,” he said quietly, trying very hard to keep a neutral expression on his face.  He had been both dreading and hoping she would ask.

“Why didn’t you tell me the whole story; how the Bad Wolf was really me?  That I’m the reason why your former self died?  That the reason Jack can’t die now is all because of me?”

Sticking his hands into his pockets again, he approached and sat down on the other end of the couch from Rose.

“Who are you really asking, Rose?” he asked gently.  “Are you asking me, or are you asking someone who isn’t here right now and you somehow think I’m a proxy?”

“But you have all of his memories.  You would know,” she said, a bit leery of his response.

“I have all of his memories, yes.  They’re my memories, too.  But as I recall, he chose not to tell you.”

“So what else hasn’t he told me?” she asked.

He laughed a little hollowly.  “Oh, Rose.  Wouldn’t you like to know,” he said as he looked directly into her eyes.  “A lot, I’m afraid.”

“Then tell me.  I think I have a right to know.”

“How so?” he asked, still remaining calm.  “Rose, you don’t even acknowledge me, really, as a proper person.  You won’t even call me by my name.  You think he’s the proper Doctor and I’m someone who can just parrot back his memories like a recording.  That’s not who I am.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I know,” he said sadly.  “I understand now.  Or at least, I understand better than I did a few days ago.  I don’t blame you for being confused, because I was.”

“But why can’t you just tell me,” Rose asked.  “I want to know.  I spent three years trying to get back to him, and he just dumped me here with you.  He loves me, I know he does.  Why?”

The Doctor drew a deep breath, and wrung his hands together as he leaned forward.  He wasn’t sure how to proceed.

“Rose, I can tell you everything.  I mean, everything.  And I want to tell you everything,” he said just a little anguished.  “But you need to be prepared to hear it and believe it.  I’m not sure you’re there yet.”

“Let me decide that,” she said a little testily.

“You forget.  I have free will, too.  I can choose not to tell you, just as he did.”

“Please, I’m begging you.  Tell me why he left me here.  If he really loved me, tell me why he would abandon me after everything I suffered to get back to him,” she pleaded.  “I just want to understand.”  Huge tears were threatening to spill from her eyes, gutting the Doctor.

He coughed, trying to compose himself.  “He did love you, more than you can guess,” he began.  “But he couldn’t bear the thought of how he would eventually lose you to time or danger.  As long as you’re here, you’ll always be alive and young to him.  He also knew that he could never give you what you needed.  He couldn’t give you a family, he couldn’t keep you safe, and he could never settle down because of his responsibilities as the Last Time Lord.  He could never promise you his forever, Rose.”

“I don’t care about that,” she cried.  “I knew that, and I wasn’t asking for that.”

“No, but he did care.  It did matter to him.  And there was another thing, Rose.  Something you wouldn’t know because it happened after we lost you at the Battle of Canary Wharf,” he said in a tremulous voice.

“What?” she asked.

“He knew his destiny lay with someone else.  We met her at the Library in the 51 st Century.  It’s a large planet-sized library, and she was an archeologist who was sent there at the same time that Donna and I were there.  Her name is River Song.”

“What?” she whispered, eyes wide and wild at the revelation.

“She knew our name.  Or real name.  The sacred Gallifreyan name that we can tell no one, except ritually.  So, I’m positive that he marries her at some point.  We don’t know exactly when, but we know she’s in his future.  It could be a year from now, or hundreds of years, but we can’t know when in his personal timeline it happens.  Not mine, because I’m here.  I’ll never see River again.  But he will.  And they will have children, of that much I am certain.”

Rose stared at him, completely in shock.  “I don’t believe you,” she said flatly.

“It’s true, Rose.  I’m sorry.  I’m so, so sorry to tell you that.”

“You’re lying!” she insisted, her voice beginning to rise.

“No, no… I would never lie to you about something like that, Rose.  I swear it’s true.  I can show you, if you like.”  He raised his hand to place his fingers at her temple, but she batted it away.

“Stay away from me,” she warned.  You ain’t gettin’ into my head!  I don’t believe you.”

Jumping up from the couch, she ran from the room.  He heard the front door slam as she left.

Sighing, he put his face in his hands and slumped.

“Tame the Wolf, eh?” he muttered to himself.  “That’s just wizard.  Fantastic.  Molto bene.”


***************************************************************
Sunday dinner at the Tylers, and Rose joins them. Ten II tells a fairy tale to Tony about a Bad Wolf, and Rose gets the message. When she asks for additional information, things don't quite end like either of them expect.

A special call out to A_Who_in_Whoville, who gave me the idea on Tony. :)

Title: Wayward Son - Chapter 10: What's On My Mind

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