Chapter 1: Chapter 1
How Mels got invited to the Slumber Party.
"Basically, you're like my mum," said Melody.
Amelia rolled her eyes. Why did Melody have to be so dramatic all the time? "If I'm being bossy, just tell me. No need to bring mums into it. Where are your dads, anyway?"
"Probably shaggin'," said Melody with an unconcerned shrug. "They're always shaggin'. I don't know how Tad even walks down the path to pick up the mail, seeing how Daddy's always shaggin' him."
"That's gross," said Amelia wrinkling her nose as they walked out the doors of the school. "Hi, Rory," she said to the boy who was waiting on the steps. She and Melody sat down beside him, and promptly ignored him. "Anyway, they can't always shag. Otherwise they'd starve to death and your Tad wouldn't get to the store for his coffee."
Melody shrugged, unconcerned about the mechanics of Tad's Coffee. Tad's Coffee was a fact. So long as there was Tad, there would be Coffee.
"Are you two going to the slumber party?"
This, oddly enough, was said by Rory. Melody looked at him, confusedly. "How do you know about the slumber party? It's for girls."
"Rory counts as a girl," said Amelia, firmly. "I'm going. My Aunt already said yes."
"Ellen's mum said I could stay for a bit but I couldn't sleep there," said Rory.
"I haven't asked," said Melody. Before she could make an excuse, a horn blared and a large black SUV pulled up, driven by a large brunet man with a long blue coat and blindingly white teeth. "Ugh. Why does he always honk the bloody horn?"
"Mr. Jones," shouted Amelia as Melody's adoptive fathers stepped out of the car. "Can Melody come to Ellen's slumber party on Saturday?"
"I don't see why not," said her Tad, a soft spoken Welshman who always wore suits. "Hello Amelia, Rory."
"Hello," said Rory. Amelia just grinned, smugly, at Melody.
"C'mon, Mels," said her Daddy, his American accent still jarring after so long in Leadworth. "Lets get home, and you can tell me what you did this time."
How Rory and Amy learned about Bad Wolf
"Once upon a time there was a girl named Rose Tyler and a boy called Jack, and they were best friends," said Melody, and the girls and Rory listened. "They were heroes, and they saved the world a lot."
"Like Wonder Woman?" said Lucy, whose cousin was in America. The other girls shushed her.
"One day, they went to a space station in the future, where space aliens were stealing people and making them go on reality television."
"That doesn't sound so bad," said Emma.
"But they were stolen," said Rory. "They didn't want to be on telly."
"Yeah, and the aliens killed the ones who lost on the shows," said Melody. All of the girls gasped, except for the ones who went ooooooh. It was kind of... satisfying. "Anyway, Rose and Jack found out about the aliens, and blew them up."
"They saved the world?" said Rory.
"Yeah," said Melody.
The room was silent for a moment.
"Good story," said Amelia.
How Rory Williams saved Rose Tyler
"Once upon a time there was a girl named Rose Tyler and a boy called Jack, and they were best friends," said the Centurion. The Rose and Jack stories were Amy's favourites, especially once Mels had started adding the Raggedy Doctor into them. He'd started telling Amy the stories about half a century in; he'd had to cycle through them a few times, but he thought he'd kept them straight. He thought for a while about which story to tell. The farting alien was good for a laugh. The one where Rose and Jack met? That was good, but he'd only just done that one a week ago. Maybe the one where Rose and Jack stole a boat during Prohibition in America, and-
The doors to the warehouse banged open, and a girl in a pink hoodie ran in, closing them behind her. She leaned against them, breathing heavily, closing her eyes.
"Hello," said Rory.
The girl looked up, startled, and suddenly Rory was glad he'd 'died' in World War Two, if she was this scared to see a man in a security guard's uniform. She had blonde hair, and red marks shaped like fingers on her face. "Hello," she said warily.
Rory walked forwards into better light. "You don't have to be afraid," he said, adding silently, unless you're here for the Pandorica, but he didn't think she was. There was a clang, and the girl winced. "Is he your boyfriend?"
"No, he just thinks he is." Her voice didn't shake. Good. She was brave enough, but still smart enough to run away when she needed to.
The Centurion listened for a moment, hearing the boy on the other side of the door mutter about 'tease' and 'bitch' and 'you'll regret it when I get my hands on you'. One of those, then. "Right," he said. "Stand away from the doors." She did, hesitantly. The Centurion opened them, and looked down his nose at the boy.
The boy froze, crowbar raised to swing.
The Centurion glared. "What do you think you're doing with that?" he said.
"I-I-" The boy seemed a little off balance, but he rallied. "My girlfriend come in here."
"And so you came after her with a crowbar?" said the Centurion. "Can't say I blame her for running. That's what we call assault, these days." And before then, there would be mobs to take care of you, you little shit, he remembered fondly.
That seemed to upset the boy, for some reason. "You don't know!" he said. "You don't know!" And he swung the crowbar at the man in front of him.
The man in front of him caught it.
Then, once the boy met his eyes, he bent it in half.
Once the boy stopped gaping at the crowbar, he looked back at the man, who growled, "Go. Away."
The girl was still staring at him when he turned around. He sighed. "You can stay the night if you'll feel safer. He's not liekly to attack you in the morning." She still stared. "You'll catch flies," he added.
She closed her mouth. "How'd you do that?" she asked. "That was incredible!"
"Just... something I've picked up over the years."
"Could you teach me?"
"I doubt it," he said. "Look, the museum officially doesn't want people sleeping in here, but the twelfth century French couches can take it. The pink one, over there."
"Thanks. What's your name?" she asked.
"It-" He hesitated. "I'm called... Paul."
She looked at him oddly. "Doesn't your nametag say Christopher?"
"I'm called Christopher too," he said awkwardly, because he only started using false names in the Forties, because before then, they'd all called him Centurion.
She shrugged and started walking towards the couches. "I'm Rose. Rose Tyler."
It was Rory's turn to gape. The Rose Tyler? It couldn't be. The Rose Tyler was a superhero, a time traveller... a blonde teenager in a pink hoodie. Maybe it was really her. But- she was so young. And if she was really Rose Tyler, where was the boy called Jack? Why wasn't Rose Tyler traveling through time and space with her best friend? Why was she being chased by some crap boy, instead? He quickly looked away before she turned around, and some graffiti caught his eye.
What was that supposed to mean, Bad Wolf?
How Bad Wolf saved Rory Pond
When Bad Wolf was created, Bad Wolf always was and Bad Wolf always would be. Even for a being that is, for all intents and purposes, a god, that is a lot of time to fill.
So Bad Wolf Watched.
Bad Wolf watched the TARDIS, and saw her born among the singing of her sisters, and saw her fall in love with a young Time Lord, and saw her steal him away, and saw her live, and saw her die among the singing of her sisters.
Bad Wolf watched Jack, and saw him live before the Doctor showed him how to Live, and woke him up from Death, and saw him found Torchwood, and saw him fall for Ianto Jones, and saw Ianto Jones fall, and saw him run, and saw him die, and saw him run, and saw him die, and saw him run, and saw him live, and saw him die as the Face of Boe.
Bad Wolf watched the Doctor, and saw him born on a planet with an orange sky, and saw him lose a friend at school, and saw him at the birth of his child, and saw him at the birth of his grandchild, and saw him fall in love with a blue box, and saw him yell at his granddaughter when he realised she had stolen away with him, and saw him leave her behind when she fell in love, and saw the others come aboard and leave him, and saw him leaving Sarah Jane, and saw him leaving Rose Tyler, and saw him leaving Amy Pond, and saw River Song, and saw the Doctor die for the last time.
Bad Wolf watched Rose, and saw what had been expected, but also saw other worlds. A world where the Doctor was human, and married Rose, and their children were beautiful and blessed. A world without stars, where the TARDIS was dying and Rose was saved from a human boy by the a Nestene drone who was more human than a human had the right to be, and guarded the Pandorica until the Doctor could return the world to how it was meant to be.
Bad Wolf watched Rory Williams, and saw Amy Pond tell him about the Doctor, and saw Melody Jones (who would be River Song) tell him about Rose Tyler and the boy called Jack, and saw the Doctor invite him inside the TARDIS, and saw him die in a tunnel, and saw the claws of nothing reach out for him. And Bad Wolf screamed, because Rory had not saved Rose.
So Bad Wolf Acted.
Bad Wolf grabbed Rory, not the body but the essential Him that was being leeched away, and stole him away from the nothing, and held him close until there was a tugging at the parts of him that were already gone, and followed them to the Nestene Consciousness, which was building a column of the Roman Army, and found the one that was Rory, and settled the essential Him inside of it.
Then Bad Wolf watched Rory Williams fight against the Nestene Consciousness, and punch the Doctor, and threaten Caesar, and pull the Pandorica across the English Channel, and take Mass, and yell at the Pope, and pull the Pandorica across the Channel again, and kick King Henry VII in the shin, and punch a few Jesuits, and teach Shakespeare how to play football, and curse at Napoleon, and teach a girl how to dress like a boy and go to war, and write down a blinded man's poems, and shoot down a V1 missile, and punch a Nazi in the face, and save Rose Tyler, and shoot a Dalek with his hand.
And then the stars came back, and Bad Wolf could breathe again.
But Rory Williams kept dying, and he hadn't lived out his time yet, and now Bad Wolf cared to see it lived out. So Bad Wolf pulled Rory Williams back from the brink of death when he drowned, long enough for the siren to save him. And Bad Wolf pulled Rory Williams out of the sniper's line of fire, and blinded the sniper. And Bad Wolf kept Nephew in the right place when his mind was filled with death to Rory, and ensured his freedom from House. And Bad Wolf cradled Rory's head when Jennifer punched him. And Bad Wolf pulled Rory to Amy's memory when she'd been left by herself for thirty-six years. And Bad Wolf would have saved him from the creatures that had had him killed before...
...but Amy Pond saved him first.
And Bad Wolf was pleased, because some other time or place was calling, and it was time to move on.
How the Silence set themselves up for a fall.
It was time to move on from River Song, the Silence decided. Their weapon had failed, and was now working against them. But why? Well, the fact that she'd fallen for the Doctor, of course. That was only partially negligence on the part of their human servants.
It was those damnable stories - the Raggedy Doctor stories she'd traded her "Rose and Jack" stories for when she'd been out of their sphere of influence. Not much they could do about that.
It was also her mother, the notorious Amy Pond. She was too entwined with history, though - too entwined with the Doctor's history. They tried to end her, once - sent an auton with her fiance's face at her - but somehow it had gained her fiance's soul and went through hell and high water to bring her back.
And her father. Rory. He was an influence, and after her conception he could be safely removed without much damage to the timeline; anything he accomplished was mostly Amy, anyway. Yes, he could, and should, be erased.
And then they tried.
Time after time, they tried to kill Rory - shooting at him, burning him alive, poison - but he escaped, again and again, sometimes injured but never unsalvageable. Their guns would jam. Their poisons would miraculously become inert. And then they saw the writing on the wall.
Oh, they knew of Bad Wolf. Anyone who had studied the Doctor's ninth or tenth incarnations knew of Bad Wolf most intimately, and the others all saw shadows - scarcer, but undoubtedly there.
Bad Wolf had taken an interest in Rory, for some reason. And for the moment, that meant he was untouchable.
"Perhaps we're going about this the wrong way," said Madam Kovorian, dead only for a forgotten moment in a forgotten timeline. "Perhaps we ought to go straight to the source. After all, we can certainly find a use for Rose Tyler."
A simultaneous Prologue and Epilogue to A Whole Different Birthday
"What do you mean, make use of Rose?" said the Doctor.
"I don't know," said River, leaning back against the far wall of her Stormcage cell. "You never told me. But since you're both here, it must be time to tell you that they are going to try."
One of the two Doctors looked confused, but the other blanched. "They'll use the Flesh, won't they?"
"What, like they did to Amy?" said the first Doctor.
"Yeah, and River. Oh," said the second. "Is that a Spoiler?"
She shrugged. "Not if you mean when I was a baby. Dad already told me, when he gave me the Talk again."
"What talk?" said the Doctor - the one she was reasonably sure was the Ganger.
"Oh... spoilers," she said. They both looked confused. So Rory hadn't given this version of the Doctor the Talk yet. Hm. He was younger than she thought. "They'll never really do it, though. You'll figure it out and stop them."
"How do you know?" said the Doctor.
"Because you told me. It was my birthday - I won't say which one; I'm sure the TARDIS will bring you to the right one once you've done it."
"Found out how they did it to Amy without Rory knowing, and made sure by doing it to Ianto Jones."
How Jack Harkness came to owe Rory Williams Ianto Jones' life.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Ianto Jones woke up with a gasp. Jack was there, but Ianto Jones was sure that he had died.
"Hey, hey," Jack said, holding his shoulders a bit too tightly to be believable. "Ianto, it was just a nightmare-"
"No," Ianto said, still fighting for his breath. "No, it wasn't." Jack pulled him closer, and Ianto felt like crying. "Jack, I died!"
"No, you didn't," said Jack.
"Yes, I did! I remember-"
"Don't lie to me, Jack! Not now!"
Jack fell silent, swallowed hard. "You died," he confirmed. "The four-five-six released a virus. We both died, I- I tried so hard to save you, but-"
"Jack," said Ianto, voicing both their pain at his death, sobbing now into Jack's shoulder. Jack held him tighter, his reassuring heat chasing the chill of death away, his scent grounding Ianto. After a few minutes of assuring himself that Jack wasn t going to fade away, Ianto asked what had happened.
Jack pulled back a little, and looked at him carefully. "I thought you were dead. I was sure I had lost you forever. But - I don't really know how he did it, but the Doctor - Ianto, he saved your life."
Ianto laid back on the bed - not his bed - but he'd been lying there for god knows how long, so perhaps he'd be right in calling it his bed - god, he was confused. "But- how? Why?" he said.
"Very complicated answers, those two questions," said a voice to Ianto's left. He looked over and saw a man in tweed and a bow tie leaning against the door frame. "And frankly, we don t have the time to explain it in any sort of detail you'd like."
"The long and short of it is, we swapped you out with a duplicate," said an identical man who walked into view from behind him. "We needed to know how they did it to one of our friends, so we could stop it from happening to another one."
"River told us we practiced on you - she never mentioned we'd be saving your life."
"Or that Jack would run away, after. The dizziness from stasis should go away momentarily, Mr. Jones, just lie back and drink plenty of water over the next few days. It took a month to find a good time to pick him up. We couldn't do it until after that mess with the Blessing."
"Utter nonsense, that. Coming back from death is a rubbish blessing," said one of the men, shaking his head. "I'd rather have a cool hat. Now that's a proper blessing."
"Right you are," said the other. "Or maybe a box of unlimited cool hats."
"Ooh, that's a much better blessing, Doctor!"
"Why, thank you, Doctor!"
"Okay, I'm confused," said Jack. "How are there two of you?"
The two Doctors looked at each other seriously, then back at Jack, who still hadn't let go of Ianto. "No flirting, Jack?" said one of them. "Ianto Jones must be very special."
"He is," said Jack, and Ianto felt the old familiar paths in his mind start to be worn away, given how quick Jack was to claim him, even in front of the Doctor. Even in front of two of him.
A slow grin grew on their faces. "Well then," said the other Doctor. "We'll let you two get back to your happily ever after."
"I love it when we get to start those."
"So do I, Doctor."
"Oh, and everybody thinks you're dead, so no going around in the public eye," said one Doctor.
"Might be a fair time to retire, actually," said the other, as they started to walk away. "The twenty-first century is when everything changes, after all, and it's usually better to live through changes from the sidelines. So I've heard, anyway."
"Doctor?" said Ianto. They both stuck their heads back around the door frame. "Isn't there any way we can repay you?"
The phone in the hall rang. The Doctor picked it up. "Hello?" he said. "Yes, they're here. Why? What? No, you didn't. Really? Oh. What? What? You're joking! Well, it isn't very funny. Stop laughing. Stop it. Stop- Fine, put Rory on, then! Hello, Rory. Is she right? What, really? Ye- Yes. Yes he's fine. ... Well, my Latin's a bit schoolboy, but- Oh, alright," he said, pressing a button on the phone.
"Salve Iohannes," said a man's voice over the phone.
Jack straightened. "Salve Centurion," he replied. "I didn't know you were still around once the stars came back. Your box is gone."
"Yes," said the man Jack called Centurion. "We made sure of that. But I will always guard what was inside of it."
"Now that it's over, can you tell me-"
Jack fell silent. He did not tease this man for his obvious dedication to his wife, like he used to do to Rhys. Ianto wondered if it had something to do with losing the Doctor. Ianto wondered if it had something to do with losing him.
The voice through the phone was muffled for a moment, and then they heard a door close. "Sorry. I can't talk about this in front of her. I've only just gotten her back."
"But the stars came back two years ago."
"Etiam," said the Centurion. "Atque ea sunt furati. Et abstilit filiam meam. Et ne abiissent cognovits."
Ianto's Latin was a bit schoolboy as well, and the Centurion's voice was so think with emotion that he couldn't understand the words. But the weight of them - well, Jack had gone very pale. That was enough to tell Ianto that, whatever had happened, it had been very bad.
"You said you've only just gotten her back," said Jack.
The man on the other end of the line was silent for a moment. "They stole my daughter, my Melody, the day she was born," he said. "I didn't see her again until she was a grown woman." Ianto breathed, harsher than he meant to. "Are you alright, Mr Jones?"
"Fine," said Ianto.
"Keep an eye on his breathing for the next twenty-four hours, Jack; his Ganger died of a lung infection. I barely kept him from following at the time and I'm not sure how it'll affect him now."
"I will," said Jack. "I'd... forgotten that you were a nurse, before everything."
"Most have. Jack," he said, and then hesitated. "I... my daughter is a Time lord. And... I grew up with a girl named Melody, who'd been adopted by Ianto Jones, who lived with his partner, a man named Jack."
"I understand," said Jack.
"Spero vos eam velut praesidio custodiebat me Pandorica," the Centurion said, and even though only legends survived from that other time, that time without stars, Ianto suddenly realised that they'd been talking to the Last Centurion. He barely heard Jack's agreement and promise. They had been charged with raising the Lost Daughter of the Last Centurion, and Ianto Jones was glad that he was already lying down. Jack said his goodbyes to the Centurion, and the other man hung up.
"Well," said the Doctor.
The other Doctor let the moment settle. "Come to think of it, Ianto Jones, there is something you and Jack can do for me," he said. "How do you feel about spending a few years in Leadworth?"
With Many Thanks to MissEars for beta reading my Latin.
Chapter 8: Chapter 1 Again
How Melody Pond got to go to school in Leadworth
"She'll be getting out of detention, soon," said Ianto, pulling back from his lover - his husband, actually, in everyone's eyes but the government's, and as soon as that was legal they'd fix that. He straightened his tie. "Can't leave her at school anymore."
Jack sighed. "Tease," he said, putting the car back in gear.
"Yes, I'm horrible," said Ianto, grinning at Jack as he fixed his hair. "Learned from the best."
"Oh, ha ha," said Jack, grinning back. "I'll get you, when we get home. Oh, there they are," he said, laying on the horn.
Melody huffed at them, and Jack smirked; he knew she was irritated that she always honked the horn when they drove up to the school.
"Mr. Jones," shouted Amelia as they stepped out of the car. "Can Melody come to Ellen's slumber party on Saturday?"
"I don't see why not," said Ianto. "Hello Amelia, Rory."
"Hello," said Rory. Amelia just grinned, smugly, at Melody.
"C'mon, Mels," said Jack. "Let's get home, and you can tell me what you did this time."
She hopped into the back seat - Rory waved goodbye, but Melody didn't look back. She never did. "Why did you say I could go?"
"It'll be fun," said Jack.
"It'll be stupid," said Melody.
"It'll be good for you," said Ianto. "You should spend time with kids your own age, Melody, and not just Amelia."
"They aren't my age."
"You're pretending to be theirs. I'm not saying you need to play with dolls and ponies all the time, but you do need to make an effort."
Melody sighed. So did Jack. "I know it's tough, kiddo. Just... things'll get better. Tough it out, okay?"
"You're not even my real dad," she said grumpily, which was always the signal that the conversation was over. Ianto thought that he and Jack might have won this one. "What do you even do at a slumber party?"
"Play games," said Ianto. "Do each other's hair. Tell stories, mostly. Do you know any stories?"
Melody shook her head.
"I've got a few I don't mind sharing," Jack said. "Once upon a time there was a girl named Rose Tyler and a boy called Jack, and they were best friends..."