"I know you're disappointed that no one's home, Maria." Alan rubbed his daughter's shoulder as they made their way into the movie theatre. "But, I'm certain when Sarah Jane gets our message she'll get back to us."
"At least we didn't have to go back to mum's." Maria sighed. "Her and Ivan are bad enough during the day, to say nothing about at night."
"Agreed," Alan nodded. Maria's eyes drifted across the theatre, widening once she recognized the person standing at the counter buying popcorn. "LUKE?" She called out, leaving her father behind as she broke out into a dead run.
At the sound of his name, Luke turned, a grin spreading over his face. "Maria!" Luke barely got her name out before she crashed into him, her arms wrapped around him in a fierce hug. Alan caught up and appraised the man watching Luke and Maria with a grin on his face.
"Hello… I'm Alan Jackson," Alan said, holding his hand out.
"Of course you are. You and Maria used to live across the road from Sarah and Luke." The man rocked back on his heels and sniffed with a slightly smug air as he shook Alan's hand.
"Uh, Sarah Jane, you mean. She doesn't like being called Sarah." Alan pointed out, priding himself on this small tidbit of knowledge.
Luke grinned. "She does by him."
The man slapped Luke's shoulder before leaning on him. "What did we decide my name was again, Lukey-boy?"
"Pretty sure you settled on Jack," Luke supplied.
"Right, cause Ian and John were taken," the man said cryptically, pausing for a moment as he tapped his chin and then shoved his hands into his pockets. "Well, that and I lost a bet with the good Captain. It's fine, really, I'll get even. Jack it is."
As Alan took Jack in, Maria was quick to try to diffuse the awkward look her father was giving, "Uh so, Jack, what are you and Luke doing out?"
"John and Ian are out with Mum," Luke supplied and grinned up at the other man. "So, we thought we'd catch a movie, right, Dad?"
"Dad?" Both Maria and Alan's mouths fell open as they mouthed the words. This fellow couldn't be that much older than Alan – which made Alan disappointed he hadn't made a play for Sarah Jane when he'd had his chance. It hadn't escaped Alan's attention that Jack was wearing a gold band that glinted in the light of the theatre.
"Well, I guess congratulations are in order, Maria." Alan decided to concede gracefully, but damned his luck. "Sarah Jane is a wonderful woman."
"Thank you… It was a bit of a long courtship and all. Seems like lifetimes actually." He caught Maria's eye and winked. Maria's expression turned to one of shock and delight as she realized who this had to be. "Well, if we don't get in there, we'll be missing our movie." He said. "Come on, Junior."
"Call me, Maria." Luke invited as he followed Jack towards their theatre.
"I will!" She took hold of her dad's hand and started dragging him in the direction of their theatre. "You didn't stand a chance," she informed him sympathetically.
"Why?" Alan scowled. "You're not telling me he's better looking than I am."
"No, but that's the Doctor, Dad." Maria grinned. "The Doctor, definite article. There's never been anyone else for Sarah Jane, I'm afraid."
"That's the Doctor?" Alan looked back over his shoulder. "Funny, I expected him to be older."
It was a few days later and Maria and Alan hadn't managed yet to catch up with Sarah Jane and Luke. Chrissie was bound and determined to keep them away from that 'Suzie Q' woman and when she was determined it was hard to shake her. However a technology conference and trade show gave them the perfect excuse to slip away and the fact that Luke and the Doctor were there? Icing on the cake as far as Maria was concerned.
"Do you see them anywhere?" Alan asked his daughter as he scanned the crowd for Luke or the rooster comb hair man who apparently was the Doctor.
"No," Maria frowned, "but I think it'd be hard to find anyone with these crowds."
"Excuse me?" A cultured voice came from behind them and they turned to see a steel grey haired man, with a hawkish nose dressed all in velvet and ruffles. "Alan and Maria Jackson, I presume?"
"Uh, yes," Alan looked down at Maria then back at the man who was a touch over dressed for one of these places.
"John Smith." He held out his hand in greeting. "I believe you know my son, Luke and my wife, Sarah. I'm afraid Luke is in one of these displays playing one of those terrible virtual reality games with Clyde."
"Sarah Jane?" Alan and Maria's eyes bugged out more than a little. If this was the Doctor and Sarah Jane's husband then who was the other guy? Alan found himself scanning the man's hand as he shook it and found an identical wedding band to the one the other man had been wearing – down to the strange scroll work.
"Yes, odd that. She never had an issue with anyone calling her Sarah before." John shook his head. "Then again, she never was terribly rational." His attention focused on Maria. "Did she ever tell you about how when we met, she thought I was the mastermind behind the disappearance of some scientists? Silly girl." His attention moved to Luke and Clyde coming out of an inflatable structure. "Ah, there they are now," he waved at the pair that had emerged and started to make his way over to them.
"Okay, now who is this guy?" Alan tried to process the information.
Maria frowned. "Well, if he is the Doctor, maybe something happened to him? He travels through time and space, Dad. Sarah Jane has said that if he gets hurt badly enough, he'll change."
"Change… You mean… from that skinny git to this poncy old prat?"
"Yes…Dad, you're letting your jealousy show." Maria rolled her eyes. "Let's just have fun and we'll ask Sarah Jane later."
Alan's nostrils flared, unimpressed. "Fine, lets go."
Once Alan and Maria headed back to Chrissie's, Alan admitted to himself that John Smith was much closer to Sarah Jane's age. He also had Sarah Jane's flare for life, which Alan had begun to see budding in Maria. If Sarah Jane wanted to spend her life with this face-changing alien, then that was her business. Still, Alan felt that irrational twinge of jealousy when he thought about it.
"Mmmm." Maria made noises of pleasure as she bit into her slice of pizza. "This is so much better than that health crud at Mum and Ivan's. If I had to eat one more sprout, I think I'd be sick."
"Your mum's attention span always was short." Alan agreed.
"Is that how we managed to escape?" Maria grinned, her dad's actions a bit predictable.
"Of course." Alan deflected handily and took another bite of his slice.
It was that moment that Luke walked in.
With yet another man.
This time he was insanely tall, with a floppy brown hat with riotous brown curls coming from beneath, a scarf wrapped around him far too many times, and a tweed coat that his hands were shoved in the pockets of.
This time neither Alan or Maria were terribly surprised, but Luke had spotted them and left the man paying for the pizza at the till. "Hey…" Luke grinned and hugged them both.
"Hello, Luke," Alan smiled a bit bemusedly. "Let me guess, another version of your dad?"
Luke nodded amiably enough as the tall gangly fellow made his way over to them and handed him the pizza boxes.
"Hello, I'm the Doctor." The fellow smiled showing off more teeth than any man had a right to and a grin like the Cheshire Cat. He fished a crumpled white bag out of his pocket. "It's very nice to see you both again, would you like a jelly baby?"
"Uh, sure, thanks," Maria said as her hand fished into the bag.
"Luke, do you mind if we pop over to visit? We haven't seen your mum in a while." Alan asked, unable to stand it any more.
"I guess that'd be alright," Luke said.
"Actually, we haven't finished our pizza." Maria tried to hint to her father about staying here, but apparently he wasn't listening to anything subtle.
"I'm certain they could pack it up, Maria." Alan voice reflected his determination to pry into the situation.
"I'm certain they could," the Doctor agreed and made his way over to the counter and came back with an empty box.
Once the pizza was packed up, the Doctor and Luke settled themselves into some sort of classic yellow roadster and waved at Alan and Maria to follow them in their rental car back to Bannerman Road.
The exterior of the house hadn't changed at all, however Alan suspected as he and Maria followed the Doctor and Luke up to the front door and were led inside that the interior had changed a great deal.
"We have guests… Come in, come in." The Doctor ushered Sarah's friends in, the grin never leaving his face.
"You didn't go and bring Harry home again did you – scaring the wits out of him with all this is getting a bit old." Both Alan and Maria's heads came up as Sarah Jane's voice echoed through the front hall from the direction of the kitchen.
"No, not Harry," the man they'd been introduced to as Jack came trotting down the stairs. "Hullo Lukey-boy," he pulled the boy into a hug before turning his attention on the newcomers to the house. "Nice to see you again, Alan… and Maria right? I'm much better with names. He's rubbish."
"You're back. Brilliant." Luke beamed and stayed close to the version of the Doctor he'd first met. "Can we work on my sonic now? I've been working on a few additions."
"Don't see why not… After dinner, though." Jack messed Luke's hair as Sarah emerged from the kitchen causing their guests to gape in shock at her state. "That's mine."
"But… But…" Maria struggled to find the words. "You're pregnant…"
"And gorgeous." Alan was much more fixated on the fact that she looked at most thirty five, her cheeks rosy and her eyes sparkling.
"It's hardly conclusive." The man who'd introduced himself as John Smith glared at Jack as he followed Sarah Jane from the kitchen. "The baby could very well be mine."
"Or mine." The final version of the Doctor added.
"I thought we'd agreed that the children would be ours. It's unlikely they'll be able to tell any discernable genetic difference." Sarah sighed and shook her head. "If you want to have a pissing contest, we'll measure tonight when we go to bed." Her eyes widened as she took in the identity of their guests and her skin turned bright scarlet, "Oh good grief."
"If she wasn't already nineteen I'd be covering her ears." Alan looked somewhere between amused and outraged. "This is…"
"Making up for lost time." Sarah suggested with a coy look. "Maria, Alan – I'm certain Luke has called him Dad once or twice." As Alan nodded, Sarah chuckled. "We've had that problem before. This is the Doctor… As is he, and him. This is my first Doctor – for sake of identification he's going with John Smith." She looked up at him adoringly and he looked back at her with equal adoration.
"My second Doctor – all teeth and curls or as we're calling him here, Ian," Sarah smiled at this one, meeting his gaze with a playful glance that he returned the two of them looking like nothing less than children out to find trouble together.
"Still Smith then?" Alan asked.
"Oh yes, of course – I would have considered taking her last name, of course, there are many matriarchal societies in the universe." Teeth and curls, which Alan had decided suited him better than Ian, started only to be cut off by Sarah Jane.
"Then there's this last one, I never considered him mine necessarily, but apparently he thought otherwise." Sarah shook her head. "I'm sure he told you, he lost a bet to Jack Harkness, who apparently finds all of this extremely amusing. So much for making it easy to identify who we mean."
"Mum calls them all Doctor and they know who she's talking to, so…" Luke shrugged only to be glared at by his mother.
"Oh come on now, Sarah." Jack cajoled her and made his way over to rub her protruding belly, speaking to the belly as though it could answer him back. "You are mine." Jack looked up to Sarah. "Besides I sent Rose off with my duplicate, Martha's married and can't ever talk to Donna again. That leaves me with you, my Sarah Jane."
"You know you're rapidly talking yourself out of my bed." Sarah warned him.
"Do keep it up old boy," John encouraged the much older version of himself. "Ian and I benefit from you sticking your foot in your mouth."
"So, how does all of this work?" Alan asked unable to hold back his curiosity.
"I'm going to defer to them – I'm still not clear on everything." Sarah Jane fixated on the pizza. "And I'm starving. Maria could you please bring me those pizza boxes."
"Sure, Sarah Jane," Maria fell instantly back into the habit of helping her friend. She opened the first box and nearly gagged at the sight. "Uhm, this must be yours right? Anchovies, pineapple and hot banana peppers?" The girl looked ready to faint at the sight.
"Oh goodness no." Sarah looked ready to give into morning sickness.
"No, that one's ours." Ian moved quickly, his scarf fluttering around him as he appropriated the pizza.
"They eat that?" Maria looked at Sarah Jane in horror.
"Trust me, it's better than fish fingers and custard," Sarah shuddered.
Jack waited patiently for Sarah to settle herself with a more mundane piece of ham and pineapple pizza before he started. "So it goes like this… Romana, Susan, Andred and some of the more like minded Time Lords escaped the Time Lock they were in…"
"Typical." John scowled at the other version of himself, grabbing a piece for himself. "You do realize that he's missing a grounding in what happened before that, old boy. Start from before that."
Jack rolled his eyes before starting again, "Okay then – everybody died." He paused, letting that sink in. "Except some of them didn't."
This time it was Sarah Jane's turn to roll her eyes. "That makes everything so much clearer, dear."
"I should have done away with the Daleks when I had the chance." Ian said suddenly, cutting into the conversation. "You were right, Sarah."
Sarah's expression softened instantly and she held out her hand to teeth and curls. "And you get to spoon me tonight."
"Oy! My duplicate did away with the Daleks." Jack complained loudly.
"That was your duplicate – and you sent him away for committing genocide." Sarah pointed out, holding Jack's gaze in a staredown.
Alan watched the interplay for a few moments then his attention was drawn to John, who'd acquired a cup of tea and sat calmly drinking it. "You seem quiet."
The older man grinned. "I know my other two selves well enough that I know they'll both get themselves in trouble with Sarah sooner or later. I can afford to be patient."
"ANYWAY," Jack glared at his other two selves and Alan before continuing. "So those that didn't die decided to rebuild Gallifreyan society but we sort of have to spread ourselves out, even bringing back previous versions of ourselves, so we're all supposed to find …" He looked at Sarah Jane with affection. "… Wives and husbands from compatible other races and I've always liked humans."
"Apparently one human in particular," Alan quipped unable to stop himself.
"Sarah's my best friend." Ian now stood beside her, sharing a look of adoration with her.
"She is special," Jack agreed with Ian, "We were arguing and Sarah said that since she'd gone forty years without, that she should get to have all of us." His eyebrows bobbed suggestively.
"To be fair, I was only joking." Sarah blushed once more then chuckled. "But they convinced me it was a workable situation."
There was silence through the room as everyone digested that. After a moment Alan spoke up, "Well then, I don't suppose there's room for one more?"
Maria got the last word. "DAAAAD!"