Chapter Twenty Three

For the next half hour, Michelle hurried through her food, wanting to get to the bottom of the mystery of the alien woman. She was still sitting at the table but now she was just looking around and observing the other tables. Another show came on but Michelle was no longer interested in it and she took very little interest in her birthday cake, gifts and tokens from the staff of Chuck-E-Cheese, even though she thanked the people who sang happy birthday to her.

Finally, Ten signaled to her to come with them and Lori told her to be careful and do what they told her to do. Michelle nodded and she carried her plate and glass over with Eleven, Ten, Jack and River so it would look like they were finding a table near the woman so they could eat. Jack carried a pitcher of Coke for them and they sat down two tables over from the woman. Michelle sat across from Ten, Jack sat beside her and Eleven sat on her other side with River across from them. They casually ate but Michelle could see Ten looking sideways at the woman while he ate his pizza.

"She's wearing a shimmer, I'm betting," Ten finally said to the others in a hushed voice.

"What's that?" Michelle said softly.

"Shimmer is this three dimensional disguise. It looks real but it's activated by a little device worn on a belt or concealed in a pocket. Turn it off and you see the true form."

"How do we do this?" River muttered to them. "Direct confrontation?"

"No, we don't know who or what she is yet," Eleven said softly.

"I'll fix that," Ten muttered, reaching into his jacket pocket.

He took out his sonic and discreetly put it under the table and scanned the woman with it. He glanced at her, making sure she wasn't watching and read the tiny display on the side of his sonic.

"A Zartok," Ten muttered to them.

"Is that bad?" Michelle whispered.

"No, not really," Ten said. "They're friendly enough, a bit arrogant but they're not ones for invading. I'm thinking he or she is just observing humans."

"She could have picked something other than white hair if she's going for twenty year old woman," Jack muttered.

Ten shrugged.

"Could be her first time observing," he said.

"Well, the Doctor's an alien and he needs eyebrows so maybe it's the same thing."

"I have eyebrows!" Eleven said while River slammed her hand over her mouth to hold in the giggles and Jack and Ten shook with silent laughter.

"Yeah, I noticed that as well," Ten said gleefully while Eleven eyed him. "Not only am I not ginger in the next life, I have sparse eyebrows as well."

"If we finish this up, I wanna play skee ball so I can win enough to get him an eyebrow pencil," Michelle said.

Eleven's mouth dropped open as the other adults chortled.

"I'm gonna have you go back to your seat in a moment if you don't button it, Bookworm," Eleven said to her.

"Sorry," Michelle said, giggling, while Ten patted her head.

"Wait, I have an idea," Ten said before clearing his throat. "Watch for her reaction," he added. "Gosh, this pizza is delicious," he said loud enough for the woman to hear. "I'm glad we came here, we have to come again and shol'tok mara pertain," he said, speaking in the Zartokian language at the end of the sentence.

Eleven noticed the woman jerked and turned her head towards them. Ten leaned his head up and caught her eye.

"Nath gara, eh?" he said to her in Zartokian.

The woman looked around and then got up from her seat. Michelle watched while she walked around to Ten's side and Ten smiled warmly while she narrowed her eyes and looked at him.

"Who are you?" the woman said.

"Time Lord and you?"

The woman's eyes bulged for a moment and then narrowed again.

"Can't be, they all died," she said.

"Not all of them," Ten said casually. "What is your business here?"

"What is yours?" the woman countered.

"I'm attending her birthday party," Ten said, pointing to Michelle. "And you're wearing a shimmer and sitting by yourself when no one else is, not to mention you have pure white hair which isn't common for a woman of twenty. I'm sorry but you obviously stand out here."

The woman looked at Eleven, Jack and River.

"And who are they?" she said, pointing to them.

"My future self, his wife and one of my best friends," Ten said. "They're here for her birthday party."

"And is she Time Lord?" the woman said.

"No, human. Human," he said, pointing to Jack. "Time Lord," he said, pointing to Eleven, "and part human, part Time Lady. Now that we've clarified who we are, why don't you tell us your name and what you're doing here?"

"I'm am Belana," she said. "I'm a medical officer but I'm on holiday here."

"Well, Belana, you need to pick somewhere more adult," Jack said. "This is mainly for kids and families."

"I had no idea," Belana said defensively, "I have never been to Earth before."

"Hello, welcome to Earth then," Michelle said.

Belana looked at her.

"Thank you," she said. "You are also on holiday?" she said, turning her attention back to Ten.

"You could say that," Ten said.

"How do I know you're telling the truth, the Time Lords supposedly perished with Gallifrey."

"How do you think Gallifrey was destroyed?" Ten said.

"And what is your name, Time Lord?" Belana said.

"I'm the Doctor."

Michelle frowned when Belana's eyes bulged and she backed up several feet.

"This is my future self, Jack, River and Michelle," Ten said, pointing to each person in turn.

Belana didn't seem to care about that, she was still staring at Ten in disbelief.

"You are the legendary Doctor?" she finally said.

"Um…I suppose so," Ten said shrugging. "Even a legend has to have a holiday once in awhile."

"I am not a threat to the Earth," Belana said quickly.

"Didn't say you were, I'm just curious because I could tell you were wearing a shimmer," Ten said. "In my long years of life, I have learned it's better to assess a situation rather than ignore it. I know your people aren't a threat to Earth which is why you're not being dragged out of here and away from the humans. As for being a legend, I don't know about that but I am relaxing and so is everyone here, so why not do the same and join us?"

Belana looked at the empty seat next to Michelle.

"You can sit here if you want," she said to Belana.

Belana thanked her, slid the chair out and sat down. Michelle let them talk while she walked back to her family to tell them what happened.


After telling her family, she decided to take some of her tokens and play some games since she figured they would be leaving soon to head for the movie theater. She chose the skee ball game and put her tokens in the slot at the front of the long titled ramp that resembled the lane in a bowling alley. She took a hard ball and rolled it up to a series of holes at the end. The holes all had different point values and an electronic board above it kept score. At the end of the round, tickets came out of a slot under the coin slot. She kept playing, doing fairly well when she felt a hand on her shoulder. She looked up, ball in hand, and saw Ten smiling at her.

"I see you're doing well," he said, pointing to the tickets she had taken out of the slot and put above the coin slot.

"I like this game," Michelle said. "You wanna try?" she said, pausing to fish the little sack of coins out of her pocket.

She gave him five tokens and Ten thanked her. He took the lane next to hers, put a token in the slot and studied the holes.

"My other self took Belana over to meet your family," he said to her as he rolled the ball and got the hole in the middle. "She's not a threat, just visiting."

"I'm glad," Michelle said.

She paused when Ten rolled another perfect score, hitting the center hole precisely. She rolled her game but she noticed Ten kept hitting that hole over and over.

"Hey, you're good at this, you keep getting the highest score hole," she said when she finished her round and collected a few more tickets.

"I have calculated the distance between here and the hole and the amount of oomph I would need to put the ball into the hole, so yes, I keep getting the highest score. But I'm winning these tickets for you so don't complain."

The Doctor was about to put his fourth token into the slot when he noticed Jack walking out of the other room with Belana at his side. He groaned when he heard Jack flirting with her.

"Why am I not surprised?" he said as he took another ball in his hand after a fresh set of five rolled down a side slot to the end.

"Huh?" Michelle said, picking up another ball. "Surprised about what?"

Ten chuckled.

"My friend Jack likes people…a lot," he said as he rolled the first ball. "He likes dating them…a lot," he added when the ball went in the center hole. "And I'm not surprised he set his sights on Belana."

"Is that why you said our ages to him over the phone?" Michelle said.

"Yes, love, because I've seen him…love a lot of different people, human and alien, and I was afraid he might have an interest in little girls. Thankfully, he doesn't…or he doesn't when I'm watching," he added, rolling a second ball into the center hole. "If he does have an interest in little children, he can stop being my friend this instant."

"I don't have an interest in little children."

Ten glanced over his shoulder and saw him and Belana standing behind him.

"I'm not that depraved, Doc," he said to him. "I do have standards."

"Good, I'm glad," Ten said, rolling another ball.

Michelle finished her round and collected more tickets. She pulled out her sack again and gave Jack and Belana five tokens.

"Thank you," Jack said. "Come on, I'll show you how this game works," he said to Belana.

He took the lane beside Michelle and Michelle started another game while Ten finished off his. He took his tickets and put them on top of Michelle's pile before playing his last game.


Michelle walked out of the restaurant with her family, carrying her gifts from the staff and her new Chuck-E-Cheese backpack that she got with the tickets she, Ten and Jack had won. Jack had said farewell to Belana, getting her communicator code so he could contact her sometime. They were going to drive two miles back to a movie theater and see Get Smart 2. While they were walking, Ten and Eleven walked up to Jack and flanked him. Jack looked at Ten and then at Eleven.

"Ah, a threesome with the Doctor, my dream come true," he quipped.

"It will stay a dream, I assure you," Eleven said. "We wanted to ask a favor of you."

"And that favor would be?" Jack said.

"I was talking to Lori and Jim and they want to move when they get their money. I suggested London since I think they would like it better than Hillbilly Central. You visit London frequently, don't you?"

"I do when I'm not on assignment in Cardiff or we have an assignment in London, why?"

"We would like you to keep your eyes on them and make sure they're safe when we're not around," Ten said.

"And help them adjust to London if they do decide to move there," Eleven added.

"It would be my pleasure," Jack said, smiling at the children while they walked ahead of them and laughed and joked with each other.

"We asked Martha and Sarah to do the same," Ten said. "Sarah wants to introduce Luke and his friends to the children so they'll know people near their age but you know how it is, how chaotic it can get so just keep watch over them."

"I will," Jack said.

"Thanks, old friend," Eleven said. "See you in the cinema."

He patted Jack's shoulder and hurried to catch up with River.

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