Chapter Fourteen

Ten excused himself after a bit, telling Eleven that he needed to freshen up. But he really needed to take a break and process the information he'd heard. He shut the doors to his TARDIS and walked over to his console. He leaned against it, his hands gripping the rim while he thought over what his counterpart had told him. Not only about River but also about Michelle.

"You can see into the future, old girl, so you know about Michelle?" he finally said, looking up at the ceiling.

The TARDIS grunted in affirmation. The Doctor leaned back up and paced around the console while he thought. Michelle was very special to him but he didn't realize she would become so special that he would marry her someday. It terrified him though that she might end up lost to him like Rose and Donna. He stopped and shook his head.

"It's her birthday tomorrow so I want to give her something special," the Doctor said to his ship. "I want a way for me or my future selves to know when she's in danger so we can come help her. I want to protect her and her family, especially if they become such an integral part of my life. Can you do that for me, old girl?"

The TARDIS thought for a moment and then communicated with him silently her idea for protecting them. The Doctor listened and smiled, nodding and liking her idea. The TARDIS was suggesting something for the whole family and something specific for Michelle since she would continue to have an association with the Doctor and be entwined with his life for years to come.

"Thank you, old girl," Ten said, patting the rim. "I just don't want them to perish before their times are up. I care deeply for them and I want to be able to protect them."

The TARDIS grunted in understanding. The Doctor decided to go tell his counterpart about the idea and he patted the rim of the console once more. He started to go to the front door when he heard Michelle's voice calling to him at the same time she knocked on the door. Ten smiled and hurried to the door. He opened it and Michelle looked up at him.

"Daddy's home and your other self is talking to him now," she said. "He's telling him about you and what's going on. Mommy's almost got supper done so she wanted me to tell you that too."

"Thank you," Ten said.

Michelle stepped inside the doorway and Ten leaned up against the railing while she looked around.

"Does the TARDIS change too when you change?" she said to him. "The other Doctor's TARDIS looks different inside."

"Not always," Ten said. "Sometimes it does. I can change it or she can."

"I like both," Michelle said, putting her hand on the railing. "His looks more like science fiction stuff. This looks like a cave, kinda."

"Sorta," Ten conceded with a nod.

"Well, I was supposed to come and get you so that's why I knocked."

"Thank you. I wanted to talk to my other self once Jim is through with him…and I need to speak to you as well but you have to keep another secret when we do."

"Wow, I'm keeping lots of secrets, I feel like a spy," Michelle said.

The Doctor chuckled and patted her head before taking her hand and walking out with her.


After telling his counterpart he'd like to meet with him and Michelle later in the TARDIS, they went up to dinner with Jim and the others. What struck Ten as so astonishing was the level of acceptance this human family had for him and his other self and River and how eager they were to help solve the problem of curing Donna. They ate tacos, refried beans, Spanish rice and nachos at the dining room table and all the while the family was throwing out ideas and brainstorming about saving Donna. It touched his hearts deeply and he knew that his other self was just as affected by their willingness to help. To be honest, he welcomed the brainstorming. He wanted Donna restored in the worst way so he and his future self listened to the ideas and questions they had. But the conversation also began to turn towards finding a way to help bring back Amy and Rory and this was where Ten started listening with fascination since he didn't know the full story of how they were lost. They spent the next hour, eating and discussing the problem of finding a way to help their lost family members and it endeared them even more to Ten that they were doing this.

Not to mention the food was delicious. He had to admit, Lori was one hell of a cook. The food and the conversation and camaraderie hit the spot and he found himself contributing to their discussion along with his future self and River.

"Isn't there someplace you could take Donna?" Michelle said as she scooped a bit of refried beans onto her spoon.

"Like where?" Eleven said.

"To get her memories back safely?" Michelle said.

"Well, there are places to do that but I don't know if they could do it safely," Eleven said while Michelle ate her beans and listened. "The problem is if one memory could trigger more and then more and more until the Time Lord mind is reactivated and then that would result in overload."

"But you said that you put a failsafe in her head in case that happens," Michelle said to Ten. "Can you do that and make it so she doesn't go to sleep?"

Ten and Eleven looked at each other.

"I suppose it could be done," Ten conceded, "but we'd have to make sure it was foolproof if we set up blocks in her mind."

Eleven thought while River took a bite of rice and watched him.

"Perhaps we could control the amount of memories and give her the basics of her time with us. We'd have to still block off the remnants of the Time Lord mind though so there was no chance of the memories triggering that."

"Could you do a test run," Brittany offered.

"In what way?" Ten said.

"Try it out. I mean, go to her and see if you could limit the memories and would it work," Brittany said.

"Oh! I see!" Eleven said, grinning at his counterpart. "Steal her away when she's out shopping and just hook her up to a machine and if it doesn't work, say sorry and take it all back and dump her at Sylvia's feet with apologies."

Ten chuckled at that and at the image he was seeing in his mind's eye of them trying to pull an enraged Donna into the TARDIS and hook her up to a machine against her will.

"You do the kidnappning then, mate," Ten said to Eleven. "I don't want the beating that'll come with it."

"She'll fight you that much, eh?" Lori said.

They laughed when Ten looked at her with wide eyes.

"Are you serious? Donna will fight tooth and claw to get away from me if I take her in the TARDIS without letting her know who I am."

"Get Jack to do it," Eleven said with a shrug. "As I recall, she seemed to fancy him."

"Yes, I remember her nearly throwing Sarah into the support column to get to him," Ten said dryly.

"You know a lot of people," Michelle said to him.

"I do. Heaps of people," Ten said. "In all periods of time and both from Earth and other places."

"Well, what about this Jack and Sarah?" Lori said. "They can't help?"

Ten and Eleven looked at each other.

"Sarah, perhaps, would help. Jack might be able to also if he's not busy with Torchwood."

"Jack might not be with Torchwood at the moment," Eleven said. "He was traveling around in space, the last time I saw him."

"Wait, I disabled his manipulator," Ten said angrily.

"No, I don't think that's how he left Earth," Eleven said.

"Oh," Ten said, calming down.

"Don't you love being on the end of a conversation you know nothing about?" Lori said to her family.

"Tell me about it," River said.

"Well, now you know how it feels when you holler "Spoilers" in my face," Eleven said to her.

They laughed when River stuck her tongue out at him.

"If you need more help, invite who you need," Lori said with a shrug.

"You know, I have to say it now but you lot have been stellar," Ten said. "You just opened up your hearts and accepted us and are very tolerant and I thank you for that," he said while Eleven and River voiced their agreement.

"Well, you've helped us out too and we've had the pleasure of meeting you and knowing that there are friendly aliens out there," Lori said.

"Besides, it's interesting being around you and listening to your stories," Jim said.

"And you're fun to be around," Brittany said.

"And you bring me teddy bears," Mandy said.

They laughed at that and Eleven tousled her hair.

"Plus, we have a big house and you have your TARDISes which as far as I can tell are the size of a small city," Lori said.

"Oh, it's much larger than that but the point still stands," Ten said.

"Well, I'm saying we have the room if you need to bring in more experts. Plus, I wouldn't mind meeting more of your friends," Lori said with a shrug.

"Are they just as fun as you?" Michelle said.

"I think so," Eleven said. "Jack's like a big kid."

"So, he's like you," River said to him.

Ten thought for a moment while he ate a bit of taco. Then he excused himself for a moment and sprinted to the stairs. Everyone watched while he ran downstairs, his feet thudding on the stairs while he went down.

"Where's he going?" Mandy asked Eleven as she pointed at the stairs.

"Dunno. Must have an idea," Eleven said with a shrug.

They heard his feet thudding again five minutes later and Ten came up into the hallway and slowed down as he walked into the lounge. As he approached his seat, they saw a mobile in his hand and Eleven's eyes widened.

"Gonna call Martha," Ten said to Eleven as he sat back down, "I'm sure Jack gave her his mobile number, among other things. Sorry, all, I know it's rude to use a mobile at the table but I want to try this."

"Wow, we're learning the names of all kinds of people now," Michelle said while the Doctor found Martha's number and called it. He put the mobile to his ear and ate a bit of his rice while he waited for her to answer it.

"Martha?" Ten said, quickly swallowing when she answered. "Hey, it's me again….fine, fine, I'm fine," he said while everyone listened and Lori went to get some paper and something to write with so he could jot down the phone number. "Listen, I need to ask you something. Did you by any chance get Jack's phone number because I need to contact him. I see…"

He smiled and nodded his thanks at Lori when she hurried back and put a small pad and pen beside him. He picked up the pen while Lori sat back down.

"Yes, I have pen and paper," he said. "Whenever you're ready…"

He listened and jotted the number down while everyone ate and watched him.

"Thanks so much, Martha. Listen, are you busy at the moment?"

He quickly ate a bite of beans while he listened to her response.

"No, nothing serious," he said after swallowing, "I am in Indiana at the moment with this wonderful family who have adopted me as their own and they keep asking about people who traveled with me and I think they want to meet you. Yes, they do," he said when the children nodded emphatically. "We're eating at the moment and this little ten year old girl is having her tenth birthday tomorrow and they invited me and my friends to attend it so if you're not busy…and actually, you'll get to meet my future self since he and his wife are here as well."

He sniggered and covered the mobile with his hand.

"I specifically said "Wife" to get a reaction from her and boy, did I get one," he said and put the mobile back against his ear while everyone laughed. "How should I know?" he said to Martha. "I don't know the circumstances of my future marriage, it's best not to know but they seem happy," he said, glancing at his counterpart while everyone giggled. "But would you? At least meet them, I won't take you on another unplanned trip again. You would?" he said and grinned when the children cheered at that. "Hear that, you made the children's day," he said while Lori and Jim laughed. "So…I will be by to pick you up. Are you at Francine's? Okay, I'll be there soon. Cheers."

"Can we go with him?" Michelle said to her mother. "Can we go and meet her there?"

Lori laughed when the children begged to go.

"Up to him, I'm not the one driving his ship," she said, glancing at Ten.

"If you lot behave, I will take you," he said to them.

"We will!" they said in unison.

"Then I will take you with me," he said while the children cheered.

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