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Waking at exactly 7.00 am, the Doctor grinned and rejoiced as he rolled over to squint at the clock. It was precisely the time he had wanted to awake for his morning run. Jumping out of bed and stretching, he reached through his bond to check Hal, who seemed to be on the verge of waking. He rifled through his closet for a tracksuit and settled on a brown pair that he quickly pulled on.

He tiptoed quietly down the stairs and let himself out of the house, trotting out to the pathway at the edge of the woods. The warmth of the rising sun was filtering through the leaves as songbirds greeted it excitedly. Taking a deep sniff of the fresh air, he set off at a slow jog. A slow jog for a Time Lord, that is.

He picked up speed, powering into a small hill. His heart was singing in a new found joy, his feet so light that it felt as if they were flying over air. His life was truly beginning to fall together now. He and Rose were repairing their relationship. They were now roughly where they should have been on landing upon that dratted beach. He had a family, a meaningful job, friends, mental challenges to pursue, adventures to be had. The greatest adventure of all awaited him, and his feet were firmly on the path toward it.

He charged down the incline going full speed, the woods thickening as the footpath narrowed. His entire body seemed to crackle with power and energy, more than he’d felt since the War. He couldn’t repress the whoop of joy that erupted.

Trying to wake the neighbours on a lazy Sunday morn?

The Doctor slowed with a start at the voice in his head. Looking around, he tried to locate the owner of the voice, which he recognised immediately as Hal’s. A flash at his side made him drop his eyes to the tan wolf loping only inches from his left heel, her profoundly blue eyes laughing at him. They slowed to a stop before he crouched to throw his arms around the wolf’s neck in a tight embrace.

Do you always greet wolves that way?

“Aww, I knew it was you!” he grinned. “Not too many wolves running ‘round in jolly old England, and certainly not solid tan-coloured wolves with dark blue eyes.”

Eye colour is the only thing that doesn’t change when we shift, she told him.

“That’s brilliant, so I’ll always know it’s you!”

Lucky for you. If I were a real wolf, I’d have taken off your face by now, you know, said Hal drily.

“Oooh, don’t say that,” he said with a grimace, remembering the Wire.

And you don’t need to speak out loud, either, she chided him. Just focus your thoughts along the bond and project the words, or feelings. This shouldn’t be new to you.

Sorry, he sent her contritely. It’s… it’s just been so very long since I’ve…

I could tell, Hal laughed wolfishly. You were projecting so strongly that there’s probably not a telepath within a parsec who didn’t feel it.

I was projecting?!? To everyone?! A horrified look came over his features at the realisation his thoughts had not been private.

You’re just rusty and undisciplined. When’s the last time you’ve practiced?

I dunno. Decades. Nobody to practice with, he pouted.

Well, now there is. And you need to start meditating and practicing if you’re to form a proper bond with Rose.

Oh, Rose… he muttered, concern etched all over his face. How am I gonna tell her? Do I tell her about what happened last night?

Well, of course you tell her, dolt. Today would be a good time. You don’t want her to find out later and think you were hiding it from her. Trust is the backbone of every bond.

I’m not sure if I can even stop it from happening, Hal. If we were ever to become… well… intimate… I don’t see how I could prevent it from happening. He was thankful for the low light, given how hotly his face burned. He was sure he could share anything with Hal, but he couldn’t help feeling bashful discussing a delicate subject like intimacy with Rose. Over 900 years as a man, and here he was blushing like a callow youth.

Perhaps, Hal mused. But remember that she is not a naturally strong or trained telepath. She will need instruction to understand what a bond is, what to expect, and how sometimes what she’ll see and feel is not what it seems.

He nodded, staring at Hal as his mind pursued another oblique angle. Can we talk about your dream last night? Hal’s hackles rose before she turned her head to stare into the distance and shivered slightly.

Can we go someplace sunny? And warm… she asked quietly.

Know just the place, he smiled. A clearing not far down the path. I’ll race you!

He took off like a shot, gathering speed before running flat out down the pathway. Hal fell in behind him. She put on a burst of speed to close the distance, and within a few strides she was pacing him. She felt a twinge of surprise arise from the Doctor as he glanced down to see the wolf easily maintaining his pace.

Four legs, stupid, she shot him, her tongue lolling out in a wolfish grin. Within minutes they burst into an opening with mist hanging over a grassy area to their right. The Doctor veered off into the clearing and headed straight toward an outcropping of rock sitting roughly in the middle of the field. Bounding up onto the crag, they leapt from sheer to sheer until they reached the top. Arms held high in the air, the Doctor did a Rocky-like victory dance to celebrate his defeat of the four-footed.

Pretending to ignore him, Hal turned around and surveyed the area carefully. Finally, she sat on her haunches and launched into a full howl, eyes scrunched shut and ears flattened. Pheasants and other game birds bolted from their hiding places as the sound drifted into the surrounding trees.

Bet that hasn’t happened in a few hundred years, she said with a self-satisfied snort.

Nooooo… I would think not, mulled the Doctor. Should anyone come looking for the source of that howl, I’ll just tell them you’re my dog.

Hey, growled Hal, baring her teeth. Fangs. Face.

A very, very, very rare and beautiful breed, mind, he conceded quickly with his hands raised in supplication. Lovely pelt, too!

Fur, she corrected, growl increasing in volume by the second. It’s called fur. It’s only a pelt if I’m not in it!

It was becoming exceedingly clear to the Doctor that he was digging himself in deeper with his shifter companion, so he decided a change of subject was the best course of action. Changing subjects was his speciality, after all.

So, let’s talk about your dream last night, Hal. Do you suffer often from nightmares like that?

Hal’s ire deflated somewhat. She crouched down to lie with her forepaws over the edge of the sheer, glancing shyly at the Doctor from the corner of her eye.

You saw it, she said point-blank.

Is it always the same?

Sometimes, she answered cryptically.

Crawling over to her side, her wrapped his long arms around her neck and laid his head against the top of hers. He felt Hal sigh deeply, but she didn’t resist him.

I’m only trying to help, Hal. You scared me last night, he said softly. I wasn’t sure if you were coming back from that. It felt like much more than a dream. I have nightmares all the time, and I can usually tell the difference between traumatic memory and your common variety nightmare. Which was that?

I wish I knew, she stated flatly. As I mentioned before, I was retconned. I have no frame of reference to tell the difference, and even Elly blocked out everything she knows. If, in fact, the nightmares are memory leakage, it is not a good thing. The return of memories heralds the return of madness, or so I’ve been told.

The Doctor tightened his arms around her neck. I won’t let you go mad, Hal. It doesn’t matter if they’re memories or not.

Hal sat up to break the Doctor’s fierce hold. She licked him once gently under the chin. Unfortunately, the nightmares have steadily increased in frequency over the past five years. They were very rare until I came here. She looked deeply into his eyes. Perhaps it was Elly’s influence that kept them at bay. If so, then perhaps it is you who will keep me sane now.

Or we can be mad together, he grinned. You’ve seen what’s in my head.

I’ve also seen what isn’t in your head, and that is what we need to address, Hal reminded him, flashing him an image of Rose.

Oooh, breakfast with the Tyler gang. Almost forgot about that. I also need to type up a report on Torchwood letterhead for Pete, he grimaced. Looks like it will be late, and he hates missed deadlines!

Ever ridden bareback? Hal asked casually.

Over 900 years-old, me. Of course I’ve ridden bareback, he huffed in irritation. He paused after a second. We’re talking about horses, aren’t we? he checked.

Sort of, she said as she bounded down the crag to wait expectantly at the foot. The Doctor followed her.

Turn around, she ordered him. I’ll let you know when you can turn back. He did as he was told, fighting the impulse to peer around his shoulder. No peeking! Hal warned.

Ok, you can turn around now, she said after about ten seconds. In the wolf’s place was a pure white unicorn, about the height of a Welsh Cob at about 14 hands but a bit slimmer and daintier. In the middle of her forehead grew a spiralling greyish-blue iridescent horn at least three feet in length, ending in a wickedly sharp point. Her silky-looking mane glinted in the sun as it cascaded down her graceful neck, but it wasn’t overly long at about 8 inches. The only spot of colour on her body was a large 12 inch swirl of grey on her right flank that strongly resembled a spiral galaxy with sweeping arms. Her eyes, while horse-like, remained a startling crystalline deep blue.

The Doctor could only stare at her, mouth agape in pure astonishment and admiration. “Oh, you are just gorgeous,” he cried out aloud once he regained his voice. “Look at you!” he chirped in pure excitement, laughing delightedly. “You’re a flippin’ unicorn! How cool is that?!?”

Hal flicked her long tail in exasperation. How is this more impressive than a wolf?

“Are you kidding me?” he said, pacing animatedly and forgetting all about practicing his telepathy. “Unicorns are just brilliant! That… that… that is simply a work of art, Hal. Not too many proper unicorns in the universe, or I’d have seen them. Very rare, unicorns, and always have been. Stand there, ‘cause I’m gonna hug you… right now.”

Hal sighed and snorted gently as the Doctor strode over for his hug, wrapping his long arms around her neck in another tight embrace.

Enough with the love-fest, she grumbled. Get on or you’ll be late with your report for sure. Don’t think I do this on a regular basis, by the way. You can count the number of people who’ve had the privilege on one hand.

Grasping a fistful of her mane and her withers, he hoisted himself onto her back and scooted up. Hal twisted her head around to roll one eye at him. Stop pulling on the mane, please.

Ooops, sorry, he apologised silently, holding both hands up to show her he’d let go.

She set off at a trot as the Doctor bounced precariously on her back, trying desperately not to yank at the tempting mane in front of him.

Are you sure you’ve ridden bareback before? Hal asked as they reached the edge of the woods and entered the footpath.

Yup, he answered, somehow managing to pop his P telepathically.

Hal increased her speed to a cantor, and then a full gallop as the Doctor dug in his heels trying to maintain his seat. The glint coming from the tip of Hal’s horn ominously reminded him not to grab a handful of mane, so he leaned forward placing both hands on the sides of her neck underneath her mane to brace himself. Just as he thought he was beginning to get the hang of it, they approached the end of the path near the Tyler mansion.

You’re really rubbish at this, aren’t you? Hal chuckled. Ever considered riding lessons?

He slid off and stood gingerly, rubbing his derriere and adjusting his trousers in the front, face contorted in pain.

I think I just got one, he moaned. A really hard one. I may be sittin’ on a blasted pillow for the rest of the day!

Hal gave him an evil laugh.

And you said “rubbish” for a change, he grinned. Usually, you say something crass like… I’m crap, or…I suck… or even worse, he trailed off.

Well, obviously you’re a bad influence and corrupting my perfect American English. Now go on and get your report done. I’ll see you at breakfast. She turned to trot back down the path.

Where are you going? The house is that way, he pointed.

To find my clothes? I doubt the Tylers or their staff would appreciate seeing me strut into their home stark naked.

What?! You have to get starkers to change? That’s rather inconvenient, he said.

Tried forming clothes. Not very good at it, she explained. You wouldn’t mistake them for real clothes, anyway. Tried changing colours once. Ended up looking blue all over… and naked, sort of like Mystique in the Fantastic Four movie. Not exactly my best look.

Oh, I don’t know, he said teasingly. Would have been a smashing outfit at the Torchwood party, I bet!

He ran to the mansion giggling hysterically when Hal lowered her horn, stamping a hoof at him.

**********************************************

The Doctor quickly showered and dressed for breakfast before preening over 15 minutes on his hair. Finally satisfied, he typed up a report for Pete, hitting the print button before rushing downstairs.

Hal was already in the dining room; her hair still moist from her shower. He saw that Jackie had placed her to the left of his customary position. Rose was also present right across from Hal, and they were engaged in friendly conversation. Both women looked up at his entrance and beamed smiles at him. He stopped, unable to stop staring at a Rose devoid of all makeup.

He choked out a greeting around the firm lump in his throat, and forced himself to break his gaze to assume his place at the table. Pete mumbled a greeting, or what sounded like a greeting. Tony ignored his entrance as he pushed his toy dinosaur through a bowl of hot cereal. Rose self-consciously nibbled on a piece of toast as her mother returned to the table with a jar of marmalade.

Of course, he had seen Rose before without makeup. He had, after all, jumped onto her bed many a morning to wake her for a new adventure. But those mornings had while she was on the TARDIS, and the dynamics of their relationship had been firmly established long before when he was his ninth self. She had always been beautiful to him, but she had also been unattainable… forbidden… his Muse and his Galatea; a glorious figure of perfection that must always remain on her pedestal, untouched and unsullied by such as he.

But, no longer was she forbidden; the only one who could claim her had passed that claim to him. Her formidable mother, who was the only one who could rightly deny him, had given him her blessings. He had been given a new body, new tasks, a new universe, a whole new life that were as if designed to fit her, and her alone. She was his very raison d'être.

Yet, he remains convinced he cannot possibly deserve her, may never deserve her. He seeks absolution, and only she can guide him to it. Like Dante guided by his Beatrice, he would follow his Rose to the very lowest levels of Hell and back, if only to be worthy to gaze into her eyes. He may have but one heart now; worthy or not, it burned for the woman who sat across the table from him.

He felt a gentle mental nudge from Hal, sending him a bolstering wave of support and encouragement. He smiled at her and squeezed her hand under the table, an action that did not go unnoticed by Rose or Jackie. Pete, on the other hand, sat at the end of the table with his head in his hands. He noticed nothing except the pounding in his head.

He saw Rose and Jackie turn deathly pale as they looked at each other in confusion. Realising that they had gotten the wrong idea, he cleared his throat.

“Uhm… I have a little announcement to make,” he ventured in a small voice. Everyone stared at him expectantly, except Tony, who made roaring noises as his dinosaur noshed farina… and Hal, who stared pointedly at her toast.

“Hal and I… bonded… last night. We’re technically, for all practical purposes… brother and sister now.”

A thunderous silence fell over the table. Rose frowned in an attempt to understand, tilting her head to the side before addressing him.

“You’re… you’re... bonded? You mean, telepathically or somethin’?”

“Yeah,” he nodded. “A psychic bond. A… uhm… permanent psychic and emotional bond formed between two telepaths when they’re in a close sibling relationship.”

Pete may have been hung over, but he was also very quick.

“So you’re a telepath, Hal?” he asked.

Hal met his eyes and nodded. “We were going to tell you at our meeting later today. Amongst other things we have to tell you.”

“I’m still not getting’ it,” Jackie grumbled. “When did this happen? How can she become your sister?”

“It happened last night, when Hal had a nightmare,” the Doctor tried to explain quickly before Jackie got too wound up. “I couldn’t wake her, so I had to contact her… mind to mind… to snap her out of it. That’s when it happened. Our emotional closeness was so much like a brother-sister relationship that the bond formed. We didn’t plan it that way, I assure you.”

“Soooo, you have a sister now?” drawled Rose, squinting her eyes at the two.

“Yeah,” he responded again, not sure what else he could safely say before talking to Pete.

“Yaaaaaay!” shouted Tony. “We got another wolf in da family now!”

“What?” they all blurted out at once. Hal paled.

“Yeah,” continued Tony, oblivious to the commotion he created. “Rosie’s a wolf an’ she’s a wolf. An’ if she’s da Doctor’s sister, we got two in da family!”

Panicking that Tony had somehow seen Hal in her wolf form this morning, he turned to Tony for more clues.

“Where’d you see a wolf, Tony? Did you see a wolf this morning? In the yard?”

“Naw,” he answered, suddenly suspicious. “I jus’ know. Like I know Rosie is a wolf.”

“So you know of two wolves?”

“Naw, three! There’s three wolfs,” he said, speaking to the Doctor as if he were stupid. “See? One, two, three…” he said, counting on his fingers.

“Wait,” the Doctor shook his head in befuddlement, “Rose, Hal and…?”

Tony shrugged. “I dunno. She’s got a funny name. You know! You saw ‘er, Doctor. Great big white wolf. She was with da white lion, remember? The big ginormous lion?”

It was the Doctor’s turn to go pale. He felt the urge to heave, and he hadn’t yet eaten anything. Hal put a hand on his arm to steady him.

“What does he mean, Doctor? A white lion and a white wolf?” she asked in a whispery voice.

“A dream I had a few weeks ago. I don’t know how he knew,” he responded in a low voice.

“Makin’ up stories, are ya?” Rose asked, turning to Tony with a patronising smile.

“No! I’m not makin’ nothin’ up,” he insisted. “An’ there’s another lion and a big dragon, too! But they’re far, far away. You ain’t seen ‘em yet, Doctor.”

Gasping, Hal reeled and appeared as if she would faint. Her complexion had turned a sickly grey as she trembled.

“What is it?” the Doctor asked in wide-eyed concern.

“It can’t be, can it? Can he be talking about…

“This is another one of them alien things you do, ain’t it?” Jackie glared at the Doctor. “What is my baby Tony goin’ on about, anyway?”

“Jackie, I’m just as confused as you are,” he retorted.

“You’re the one sayin’ you’re bondin’ with women an’ stuff. Don’t you dare… I mean, don’t you ever dare t’do that bondin’ thing with my Rose and make ‘er ya sister, you git!”

“Oh, no!” yelped the Doctor in horror. “That would never, ever happen, Jackie! Never… never, ever, ever!” he emphasised, hands waving frantically in a defensive motion.

“But… what’s wrong with me?” Rose asked in a hurt tone. “Why couldn’t ya bond with me? “Cause… ‘cause I’m human, or somethin’?”

“Oh, no, Rose! I can bond with you, believe me, I really can! I want to! Just… just not as my… uh… sister.”

“Then what?” she shook her head slowly, not quite grasping the entire bonding concept.

“Well, it’s more like… I mean, we’d be… if you want… I mean, we could…” he ground to a halt, gesturing back and forth in a Seinfeld-like motion to indicate mutual interaction between them. “We could be… sort of… closer?” he gulped, half keeping an eye on Jackie lest he needed to run. “A bit closer… than siblings, that is?” he added hesitantly.

A spark of understanding flared in Rose’s eyes. Her face relaxed into an indecipherable Mona Lisa smile that slowly thawed out the Time Lord’s fear-stricken palpitating heart. It relieved him immensely that she didn’t seem horrified at the idea; perhaps even wanting it, he thought wistfully.

“Well, I’m glad everyone else is gettin’ it, ‘cause I still don’t,” mocked Jackie. “What’s all this gotta do with Tony? An’ what is he on about with lions, and tigers and bears?”

“Oh, my!” said the Doctor and Hal together, both struggling to prevent grins from taking over their faces. Pete snorted in amusement, but took one glance at Jackie’s face before sobering up.

Pete’s gaze settled on the Doctor. “Doctor?” he asked expectantly.

“Different subject altogether, actually. You might remember that I had a dream about a lion a few weeks ago when I took a kip, and Tony asked me if I’d seen a large lion afterwards. I was supposed to query him about that later, but I forgot.”

Pete nodded slowly. “Ok, I remember that… somewhat.”

“There was also a large wolf in the dream. A large white wolf. The lion was pure white, as well, but I never mentioned any of those facts to Tony, ever.”

“And what about Rose and Hal being wolves? I understand how there might be a connection to Rose, but not Hal,” Pete asked, his look clearly stating the Doctor should choose his words carefully in front of Tony and Jackie.

“Perhaps we should save that for our meeting today, Pete. There’s a lot of background information we need to bring you up on first.”

Hal had composed herself by then, but her posture conveyed overt uncertainty and anxiety. Pete scanned her features carefully as she dropped her eyes.

“It’s a good thing you’re family now, Hal,” said Pete warmly, “otherwise I’d have to lie and say this type of dinner conversation is unusual.” He smiled when she looked up in astonishment. The Doctor patted her hand, watching as her shoulders visibly relaxed from their hunched posture. Just as the family resumed eating, Jackie caught the Doctor’s eye.

“Me and you,” she gestured, “we’re gonna have a little talk after ya finish with Pete!”

Her expression did nothing to ameliorate the knot of anxiety in the pit of his stomach, and neither did the waves of mixed emotion radiating from Hal. He envied her placid features, so unlike his own in this regeneration. His face seldom hid a single thought, much to his chagrin. No doubt, Jackie was enjoying watching terror flit across his face, he thought.

Breakfast continued mostly with innocuous nattering. When finished, the Doctor and Hal quickly excused themselves to prepare for their meeting with Pete. They both bolted up the stairs to retrieve printouts of the night’s incident report from the Doctor’s room.

“That went over well,” Hal muttered drily. “I’d better pack up my toothbrush for my trip to Cardiff. Wonder how I’ll look in vault stripes?”

“Oh, you’ll be fine. Pete welcomed you to the family, after all,” the Doctor assured her. “I’ll be the one hanging by my genitalia from the Tyler Estate flagpole by nightfall, when Jackie gets a hold of me.”

“Hmmm, pity. I didn’t bring my camera.”

“Well, thanks so much for your support, dear sister!” he pouted as he stapled the report together. “I’ll return the favour in a few minutes when I throw you under the flippin’ bus for tapping into Torchwood’s data.”

Hal childishly stuck her tongue out in retort as they both turned to walk out the door, only to run straight into Rose. Face turning vivid red, Hal retracted her tongue and pointed at the Doctor in accusation. “He’s… he’s… totally the most…,” she stammered.

“Yeah, I know,” nodded Rose. “Use’ta travel with ‘im. No explanations needed.”

Oi! Two against one,” he cried foul. “No fair!”

All three burst into laughter after a bright grin spread across Rose’s face. “Was jus’ checkin’ to see if you two was ready to meet with Pete. Won’t have a lot to say, but I can be moral support.”

“Thank you, Rose. You don’t know how much that means to me,” said Hal. “I won’t lie and say I’m not scared, because I am.”

“We’re not exactly normal around here, so ya kinda fit right in. I use’ta think Tony was the only normal one in the family, but it looks like I’m wrong,” Rose said, looking straight at the Doctor.

“We do need to talk about that, Rose,” he said. “I’m starting to think that the child of parents from two different dimensions may be quite extraordinary. Besides, who wants normal? What’s the fun in that?”

“Oh,” Hal said softly with a shudder. Her eyes went suddenly round in realisation.

“What is it?” asked the Doctor.

“That explains so much. That explains why he felt… different, somehow.”

“Is he a strong telepath? Is that how he accessed my dream?” the Doctor asked in a low voice.

“No, not particularly. At least, I didn’t detect any indication of strong telepathic skills. But there are other types of psychic ability. Maybe he didn’t tap into your dream at all. And how did he know about my other form?” She turned to Rose.

“And there is something of the wolf about you, Rose. I don’t know if the Bad Wolf entity has entirely left you, if at all.”

Shocked, Rose looked from Hal to the Doctor for an explanation. “You think I’m still the Bad Wolf?”

“Weelll, Tony seems to think so,” drawled the Doctor. “I certainly didn’t tell him. I doubt he figured out you were the princess in that story I told him.”

“We can talk about this later,” Rose said. “Let’s get downstairs to Pete’s office before he comes lookin’ for us.”

Pete’s home office was smaller than his Torchwood office, but as inviting. Decorated tastefully in a rustic Northwoods theme, it might have led you to believe you were in a rural cabin in Minnesota. On his desk sat a tray with glasses and a pitcher of Bloody Marys, albeit the pitcher appeared to have quite an imbalance in the ratio between vodka and tomato juice.

“Are we runnin’ out of tomato juice, Pete?” Rose jibed with a cheeky grin.

“No,” he answered simply. “An’ it’s noon, so I don’t wanna hear it. Like some?”

Rose and Hal accepted a glass, while the Doctor declined, muttering what sounded like a snide remark about “the Devil’s other fruit.”

“So, start from the beginning,” Pete instructed them as they settled comfortably in leather chairs. “A lot has happened in the past week since we scheduled this meeting, so I want to know how it all precipitated.”

The Doctor started, explaining that Hal was from the other universe and had been undercover for fear of persecution by Torchwood, and how she was essentially seeking asylum now that she trusted him. Clearing her throat, Hal began her story with how she came to Pete’s World and became stranded. Periodically, Pete would stop her for a point of clarification, but essentially let her tell her story mostly uninterrupted.

Because Hal found Pete to be an excellent listener, she soon relaxed and confided her most egregious offenses first, then explained why she had committed them. In all, it took her a full two hours to fill him in on all the salient points. Occasionally, the Doctor would pitch in with details surrounding any involvement he had. Pete wore a poker face through most of the brief, hardly blinking at most of the bizarre retelling.

“So, let me get this straight,” Pete said in summary. “You entered this world accidently and found yourself stranded, hid your ship in a rural location, infiltrated Torchwood for your own purposes by forging documentation, eluded detection through data manipulation, tapped unauthorized into highly classified data and replicated the data on your computer at home, borrowed Torchwood technology and took it off the grounds against policy, and tried to kill another Torchwood employee when you were finally uncovered after five years. Did I get everything?”

Hal swallowed hard and nodded, her face blazing at Pete’s synopsis. “Yes, Pete. That’s pretty much it.”

Pete appeared lost in thought for a minute. “So, what do you think I should do, Hal?”

She gulped softly and took a deep breath before responding. “Fire me. Stick me in the vault?”

Pete leaned back, templing his fingers as he raked his gaze over the three of them.

“That’s exactly what I would do,” Pete said quietly. “If, that is, we were talkin’ about the old Torchwood.”

Hal and the Doctor held their breaths, not daring to say a word as Pete enjoyed his melodramatic show of power over them. Their deference was not lost on the Torchwood Director.

“You’re one of my best employees, Hal,” Pete finally continued. “But I can’t ignore what you’ve done. Believe me, I understand your motivations and how you were afraid of detection. I might have felt the same in your place.

But the fact is you used deception to infiltrate and use Torchwood and Torchwood property. For five years you’ve violated my trust, and I can’t completely overlook that. But I commend you for having the courage, after everything you’ve done, to step forward and make it right. I know the Doctor probably encouraged you, but you still didn’t have to reveal yourself. Somehow I doubt he would have blown your cover unless you endangered this family or this world.

Therefore, here is what I am going to do: For the next six months you are on disciplinary probation. Any further unauthorized activity, any further deception, or any endangerment to Torchwood property or personnel, you will be terminated from employment and dealt with as an alien of suspicion. You don’t want to know what the latter means for you.”

“Doctor,” he said as he turned his attention to the Time Lord, “since you were well aware of Hal’s activities and did not report it, for the length of the probationary period you will be fully responsible for any and all infractions to Torchwood policy committed by Hal. Is that understood?”

He nodded, keeping his eyes down and sending Hal encouragement through their bond.

“Rose, you will be responsible for sending me a weekly report on the activities of these two, whether Field-related or not.”

Rose smiled and nodded her acquiescence.

“So am I understood?” he asked the three of them sternly. “Do I have your agreement with the terms?”

“Yes, sir,” they all responded in turn.

“Good, glad that’s over,” smiled Pete finally. “Now, somebody tell me what the Devil is goin’ on with my son, ‘cause I am completely confused.”

With a grin and a nod of their heads, the Doctor, Hal and Rose all joined in a refrain:

“Lions and tigers and bears; Oh my!”


*****************************************
Eeek!  The three segments combined into one chapter came out to over 12k words on TEA.  Egads.  Anyway, here's the final segment of NtK.  Hope you enjoy it.  :)  Plot bunnies from the last 19 chapters are hopping all over the place.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
tracy_lousia
Mar. 5th, 2012 04:09 pm (UTC)
Oooh 1st :-)

Yay for part three. I'd almost forgotten about that dream stuff earlier on. I'm guessing that the other lion and big dragon are Hal's family in the other universe? Loving all the plot bunnies so far and loved this part in particular -
'A spark of understanding flared in Rose’s eyes. Her face relaxed into an indecipherable Mona Lisa smile that slowly thawed out the Time Lord’s fear-stricken palpitating heart. It relieved him immensely that she didn’t seem horrified at the idea; perhaps even wanting it, he thought wistfully.'

Lovely, thanks :-)
biteymadlady58
Mar. 5th, 2012 07:06 pm (UTC)
Hmmm. Three wolves, two lions and a dragon. Sounds like a menagerie, doesn't it?

You could be right about the other two, seeing Tony described them as "far, far away." Can't get much farther than across the Void, I suppose. We shall see. ;-)

Thanks for reviewing! Glad you liked that part. There were a few segments in there that I fell in love with, so hopefully it shows.
kelkat9
Mar. 5th, 2012 07:45 pm (UTC)
Loved it! Hal appearing as the wolf and then the unicorn was genius! Loved her snarky comments to the Doctor. Breakfast and the meeting afterward and how you started weaving together all the plot points was just a work of art. Very well done you! I can't wait for more. Oh and I need to tell you again how much I adore Hal!
biteymadlady58
Mar. 6th, 2012 12:54 am (UTC)
Thanks, KK!

I'm so glad you're enjoying Hal. She does have many of the qualities of Donna, and yet so radically different. Now that she and the Doctor are bonded, she'll probably give him a bit more grief when he's being pig-headed. But she'll always be loyal and supportive of him, which is something he needs to regain his self-assurance fully.

I'd been seeding plot bunnies throughout the series, and some may well be held over to the next story. My main concern is that the reader may lose sight of them as the story progresses. We'll see how it goes, but there are more tricks up my sleeve that should be revealed soon.
(Deleted comment)
biteymadlady58
Mar. 6th, 2012 01:27 pm (UTC)
Ugh!! I was having all sorts of problems with LJ when I posted that, so that explains the lack of a title. I *know* I put a title in the form. Grrr!

Hal is an Amorphous Variform. In other words, she can assume the form of almost any creature she makes contact with. A Haemovariform is a variform who lives in and is transmitted via blood (haemo- = blood), hence the werewolf in TaC was called a Lupine Wavelength Haemovariform. Gotta love technobabble, eh?

Rose is orbiting every closer, isn't she? I don't think it's going to be long before she finally falls. She was already a bit hurt that the Doctor bonded with Hal and then told Jackie he would never bond with her as his sister, not understanding what it was that he was protesting against. (The sister part, not the bonding.)

And you know I credit you with the idea about Tony! Not only is he special, but he may be the key to their success in getting Hal back to Prime. The child of two dimensions may well be in touch with both dimensions a way. We'll see.

Now that I've put all three sub-chapters together, I sort of regret not splitting them up into Need to Know parts 1-4 or 5. That is a BIG BIG chapter! I read it over in TEA and it almost wore me out. I'll keep that in mind in future. A 12,000 word chapter is too much. :-(
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