Oh, I've got the whole universe. Planets to save, civilisations to rescue, creatures to defeat and an awful lot of running to do. - Jenny, The Doctor's Daughter
i. Liz X
The moment Jenny heard about the space whale, she had to see what the fuss was about. She'd been traveling in the space hopper for almost a year now, little jaunts here and there. She'd gotten a lot of practice running in the meantime. At the first opportunity, she'd purchased some better shoes. Combat boots were for stamping, for owning the ground. Jenny didn't own anything but a tiny, battered spaceship and a really big dream.
She wasn't a British citizen and certainly hadn't expected to meet their queen, but she'd hardly been on Starship UK long enough to get into trouble before she was being hauled in front of a woman with brilliant eyes and a knowing smile.
"I'm sorry," Jenny said uncertainly. (Her eyes were scanning for exits, counting weapons, and preparing a distraction.) No one had warned her against asking questions here, like they sometimes did on other planets. When she mentioned the man with the bright blue box, no one had shuddered or scowled or hidden from her. Her father had quite the reputation, and the part of her that was born warrior was just as proud as her learned pacifist leanings. He was fire and ice, the Oncoming Storm, praised or feared but never anything in-between.
The queen burst out with a laugh and tossed her head. "You think that's going to work on me, sugar? You just tell me what you want with the Doctor, and we'll see about getting you where you need to be."
At this, Jenny brightened. "He's my dad," she said.
Liz's eyes widened. "So you're that girl I've been hearing about," she said. Jenny was unaware that she'd gained a reputation already. She wondered when she'd get a nickname like her dad's. Liz went on, "'Liberated' the zoo on Starship US--"
"They didn't deserve to be caged!" Jenny protested.
"Incited rebellion among the underclass on New Venus--"
"It wasn't right, the way they were being treated!"
"Challenged the Duchess of Vasilip to a duel--" The queen paused, as if to hear Jenny's rebuttal. She lifted one carefully groomed eyebrow when Jenny didn't respond right away.
Jenny shrugged. "I must not have done that one yet," she said. Donna and the Doctor had told her that the TARDIS traveled through time and space. Which was really why she was having trouble finding her father, because she could only travel through space. Right now, anyway. It was going to change. This wasn't the first time she'd heard about something she'd supposedly done, or met someone who greeted her like an old friend. The last person had been on this very ship, in fact, a tall boy about her age with curly hair and a perpetually confused look. The queen's guards had taken her away before she could get the full story.
Liz laughed again. "You're definitely his daughter," she declared. She called out to her butler, and soon Jenny and Liz were sharing stories over biscuits and tea. Liz had plenty of tales about Jenny's father and his exploits with the crown, and Jenny laughed until her stomach hurt.
"But tell me stories about you too," Jenny said breathlessly, after the tale of her father being knighted and exiled in one day. He had a definite fondness for Britain in any era, she was beginning to think. She'd have to visit it often.
"Me?" Liz said, almost surprised. "You don't want to hear about Old Bess?"
"Of course," Jenny said. "But I'm sure you've done a lot of exciting things too, haven't you? You're in charge of a whole country!"
Liz smiled. "You betcha," she said. "Let me tell you about the time we caught a thief in the Royal Collection..."
That tale ended with Liz pressing a battered device with a leather wrist strap into her hands. "We've been waiting to give this to you," she said. "A friend of the Doctor's left it for you. It's a vortex manipulator. She said to use it when you were ready."
Without hesitation, Jenny pressed the button.
The problem with the vortex manipulator was twofold. One, that it never wanted to take her to the location she'd programmed into it, or the location that the Doctor's friend had programmed into it, unless that person had really wanted to send her to twenty-first century Great Britain in the middle of a busy street. And two, it only transported whatever was on her person, which meant that her battered spaceship was still on the Starship UK, and Jenny spent a fruitless afternoon jumping around between Cardiff, London, and Aberdeen before the Time Police showed up.
At least, that was the idea that she'd gotten from them. They said their name was Torchwood and made her hand over the vortex manipulator, which was completely unfair. Who gave them control over all alien tech around here?
Breaking out of cells was difficult, so she was glad when someone came to get her. She was really starting to get tired of that tight grip on her upper arms that meant she was in big trouble with some sort of government authority, though.
It was okay when she stepped into the room, however, because Martha was there. Jenny grinned brightly.
"Martha! I didn't know you were here! Your hair is pretty!"
Martha had been startled into silence at Jenny's appearance, but she managed, "It really is you. How-- We thought you were dead!"
"I'm a Time Lady," Jenny said, enjoying the sound of that on her tongue. She hadn't used the phrasing before, preferring to announce herself as her father's daughter to people who knew him, remembering what he'd said about Gallifrey and its loss. She didn't know the culture or the history. But she had two hearts, and they were both beating in her chest. She was a Time Lady, really.
"So you regenerated," Martha said. "Do you mind--?" She had a stethoscope around her neck, and Jenny let her listen to her chest. Then Martha shook her head in amazement.
"It really is you," she said. "I wish I could call the Doctor."
Jenny's face fell a little. "He isn't here?"
She had been hoping that he'd show up, now that she'd seen Martha: burst in here with some device cobbled together out of old computer parts and hope, with Donna at his side. She was really looking forward to meeting Donna again too.
"Sorry," Martha said, sympathetic. "He doesn't really get along well with Torchwood to start with, and he doesn't pick up the phone anymore."
There was something in Martha's expression, a pinched remembering look, that told Jenny that Martha hadn't told her everything. Jenny frowned. Just then, the guards came back. They took Martha out into the hallway and had a loud argument about what they were going to do with Jenny.
So Jenny stepped out into the hallway and demanded her vortex manipulator back. Martha backed her up.
"We're not putting her in a cell. She hasn't done anything wrong, and you know it," Martha said angrily. "She doesn't belong to us. That's not how this works."
There was rumbling along the lines of yes, that was generally how Torchwood worked, but Jenny had had enough, and Martha too. Martha grabbed Jenny's wrist and started pulling her down the hallway, shouting loudly about going straight to the director himself. The guards didn't follow.
"They'll wait for him to turn me down, and then come get you," Martha explained, rolling her eyes as they turned down a quiet corridor. She tried a door, and finding it unlocked, dragged Jenny in after her. She pulled the vortex manipulator from her pocket and pressed it into Jenny's hands.
"I'm worried about the Doctor," Martha said. "Haven't seen him since that Sontaran, a while back. He saved my life again, mine and Mickey's, and then just vanished. He looked so sad." She bit her lip. "You go find him, okay?"
Jenny nodded, and then folded Martha in a quick hug.
"I will," she promised, and then pushed the button again. By the time that Torchwood showed up in the part of Scotland she'd gotten to, Jenny had managed to fix some of the time settings on the vortex manipulator and spent a couple frustrating months in the 25th century working menial jobs by day and retooling the manipulator by night. It was difficult work, made harder by the way her soldier training tried to crowd out her understanding of the device. It would be very easy to make it into a weapon. Time itself could be used in that way, she understood. Put half of someone into a timefield moving just a little quicker than the other half. Speed up their aging so that you're fighting someone feeble and old. Toss them into the vortex.
She was better than all of that. She dreamed of a million different stars. And when she fixed the vortex manipulator, she was going to see them all again.
The vortex manipulator kept taking her back to the twenty-first century on Earth. She wasn't sure if its last owner had been very fond of the place, or if this was where she was supposed to be. But this time she knew better than to rile up Torchwood, especially after Martha put her career on the line like that. She and her companion, Benjy, got a tiny apartment above a hair salon. He complained that it smelled like bad perms all the time, but she just ignored him. On Saturdays she liked to sit on a bench out front and watch the people go in and out, enjoying the little ways they transformed their lives.
She decided it might be fun to try domesticity for a while; thus the walk-up. She liked the way their landlord called her Miss Noble, squinting up at her from behind a pair of bright red eyeglasses. The landlord, who was also the owner of the beauty salon, had five tattoos, three ex-husbands, and an orangey tint to her tan. She was always offering to dye Jenny's hair, and for a while she was coming into work with a different color every week: ebony, bubblegum pink, neon blonde. Jenny's boss told her she'd started looking forward to the Monday morning change, even though no one else in the office colored their hair in any interesting way. Ms. McShane had dark brown hair always carefully tamed into a ponytail, and a certain hardness to her, the way she stood and gestured and spoke. Jenny had privately wondered if she were made of stone. She could hold up the world with one hand. She used that powerful personality to run A Charitable Earth.
Benjy got a job as a petrol station attendant, and he came home every evening smelling like burnt coffee and petrol. They sat on the couch and dissected reality television. Benjy was always scoffing about this or that ridiculous human habit, but she knew he was secretly addicted to The X Factor.
Jenny's other hobbies included piano ("How are we going to fit that in the apartment?"), terrible knitting projects, and fussing with the vortex manipulator. There was a way to extend its range, she was sure. She wanted to be able to take more than herself and Benjy, the next time they decided to travel. A whole spaceship would be ideal.
"You're in the wrong century for that," Benjy said as she draped her legs over his knees and stole the remote in a simultaneous, practiced move.
"I'm not on a timetable," Jenny answered lazily. She was beginning to understand that the best part of traveling sometimes was having somewhere to go home to. She didn't have a TARDIS, so she did what she could. She knew it wouldn't last -- that really, she didn't want it to, not forever. So she enjoyed it while she could.
She came back from lunch one day and had just sat down at her desk when the screaming started. Her training kicked in and she dropped to the ground, crawling on her elbows to her boss's office. Ms. McShane hadn't thought to lock the door yet, which was good, because she didn't want to upset her boss by kicking it in.
"Who's there?" Ms. McShane asked as soon as the door cracked.
"Just me," Jenny said. She slipped in and shut the door behind her before rising to her feet to see over her boss's desk. Good thing there weren't any windows in this part of the building. Someone else screamed, much too close. Jenny froze.
"Over here, Jenny," Ms. McShane said. She hadn't moved from her seat, and was in fact rummaging around in her desk drawers. Jenny crept over obediently, glad that her boss wasn't panicking. That meant they might make it out of here alive. She reached into her pocket and felt for the vortex manipulator. She wouldn't use it -- she couldn't leave Benjy here by himself -- but it was a comforting weight anyway.
Ms. McShane finally produced a deodorant canister and Jenny couldn't help but wrinkle her nose. She'd seen some bad responses to panic, but this one was in the top ten.
"Whatever is out there making people scream probably doesn't care about how you smell," she said, trying to sound soothing.
Ms. McShane grinned toothily. "Oh, I hope not," she said, and before Jenny could ask for an explanation, the door was flying open, and something with a terrible mechanical voice was shouting, "EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE!"
Ms. McShane threw the canister with a practiced arm and Jenny dove down behind the desk right after her. There were three more deodorant canisters in the bottom drawer. She handed one to Jenny.
They made it out, but just barely. Jenny refused the hospital, unsure what they'd make of her two hearts, and stumbled home to regenerate. Benjy found her hours later curled up on their couch. She was black-haired now, with warm green eyes that he didn't see much of at first, because she was sleeping for almost a week.
When she woke up, she sent Ms. McShane her resignation and her love, and she and Benjy were gone by nightfall. It wasn't running away. It was running back to the big wide universe.
(A man in a bowtie had shown up and frightened all the Daleks away. She might have to tease him about the bowtie. That was something a daughter did, right?)
Jenny wasn't looking for a companion when she ran across the one she found. She was trying to sort out the strange appearances of a large lizard bird in a suburban neighborhood a few lightyears west of Barcelona (the planet, not the city, which she'd never heard of). The people here were three feet tall on average and called her the Bigfoot when they didn't think she was around. She didn't mind too much. People reacted differently to fear, and the lizard bird had already carried off two small children.
She was trying not to stomp too heavily, though, in case it was an important detail, combing over a narrow alley for any clues. There were claw marks in the dust that she was studying, bent double in order to see better, which put her head right on the level with the person whom she promptly knocked heads with. She fell back on her butt and the person fell forward, his gangly limbs completely destroying the only clear claw marks she'd been able to find so far.
Jenny glared. She couldn't help it. The boy had curly blonde hair and big elbows smearing up all her evidence. He also looked completely human, which surprised Jenny at first. She was taken aback by his height, evident even from a sitting position, and his completely human nose (the people here had four nostrils and an amazing sense of smell). He wrinkled it, scowling back at her.
"What are you doing?" they both asked at the same time. "No, you first!"
The charade continued for another frustrating minute before something big and dangerous shrieked a warning call behind them. Jenny was up and running, dragging the stumbling boy behind her before she even paused to think about it. They could talk later, after she'd figured out where they needed to send the alien so that it would terrorizing the people here.
It took a long time to get to later, however. The boy, whose name was Benjy, questioned her every move in the case, right down to her choice to wear "that ridiculous hat" (a deerstalker she'd picked up on Earth, last she visited, after reading the Sherlock Holmes stories). He was pessimistic and whiny and he kept tripping over his own feet. She'd never met someone so gloomy.
(He was also adopted, which explained why he looked human: he was. His mother had died in bearing him, he told her much later. He'd never known anything but this life, in a tiny house with his tiny parents, not fitting in both literally and figuratively. It hadn't been a bad life, really. But he needed room to grow.
"Good thing you came with me," she said, beaming. Benjy rolled his eyes.)
Finally, with Benjy's reluctant help, they managed to capture the lizard bird and have a lengthy talk with it. Well, mostly Jenny talked. The creature's communication skills left something to be desired. It struggled fiercely against the ropes that held it. No being wanted to be trapped forever. Jenny hated having to do it to start with, but she had little choice.
Benjy was saying something she was ignoring about the best thing to do with scary monsters, in his opinion. Jenny fussed with her vortex manipulator and finally found a setting she liked. She reached out to touch the feathery hide of the creature, and before he could say something about dangerous ideas, she popped out of existence.
When she popped back in, a few minutes later, the first thing she saw was his dismal back. He was making his way down the street slowly, occasionally looking back over his shoulder, and she was lucky enough to catch one of his hopeful glances.
"Come with me," she said, offering a hand. He stopped and turned.
"Are you going where you took that creature?" he asked suspiciously. "Because if it can understand me, I think I'm going to be lunch."
Jenny shrugged. "I go wherever the wind takes me," she said. The wind and her vortex manipulator, but that didn't sound as exciting.
Benjy smiled, just a little, and reached for her hand.
v. the Doctor
Jenny found her father long after she stopped looking for him. Well, perhaps that wasn't the best way to say it: she certainly hadn't forgotten about him; couldn't if she wanted to. She had family out there, and it made the whole wide universe feel like home. But it had been almost a hundred years, and another regeneration, before she landed her cranky timeship on the shores of Florana and found a familiar blue box to park next to.
Her traveling companions of the moment included a married couple, Dora and Nell, who'd been honeymooning with her for almost three years now; a space hitchhiker, or so he favored himself, who'd stuck out his thumb in front of the right spaceship; two bright green kittens with squeaky voices and telepathic collars; and Benjy's granddaughter, who had no idea what her grandpa had gotten up to in his youth. Jenny liked a full house, even if it meant she stuck out more. She was always finding someone who needed a ride to somewhere, or from something. Or people who just liked traveling with a touch of danger and Jenny's smile. She was never lonely.
They knew her moods too well to miss the look on her face when she saw the TARDIS. Hal, the darker-green kitten, offered to come with her to meet her father, but she turned him down. It'd be better to go slow at first, she thought. And if he came back to the TARDIS before she could find him, her companions had her phone number and a great deal of ingenuity between them; they'd make sure she got to talk to him, one way or the other.
She stepped off the ship onto soft sands, the breeze teasing her dark brown hair, and wondered what it would be like to see the Doctor again. Maybe this time he'd teach her about what it meant to be a Time Lady. Or maybe he could give her some advice about the maintenance of time machines; she loved her old boat, but it didn't handle the vortex well, probably because she'd had to extrapolate a lot of technology from that old vortex manipulator. Surely her father had a way to stop from being knocked about all the time.
She was running before she could stop herself, feeling impossibly young today, all of her successes and failures still ahead of her. She'd thought it might be hard to find the person she was looking for, but she recognized him by the shape of his mind, which was quite useful, because he didn't look much like he had when she'd been born: taller, more angular, with an old man's eyes in a young man's face. His eyes grew impossibly wide when she appeared before him, grinning and panting with the effort, trying not to fall over in the sand.
He was sitting under a big umbrella in a ridiculously big and floppy straw hat, with a bright strip of sunscreen on his nose. Donna was nowhere to be seen, but there were two people nearby playing volleyball in swimsuits, and as soon as she shouted, "Dad!" they abandoned the ball and rushed over.
"Jenny!" the Doctor said in utter surprise, looking around himself as if trying to decide if there was a dignified way to liberate himself from the beach chair. She stopped him wondering by flinging herself down in his lap and wrapping her arms around his neck. She hoped he was still a hugger. She always was.
"Doctor!" the red-haired woman said, going impossibly pale and quite possibly shrieking a little.
The Doctor managed to extract Jenny from his lap and get to his feet in a remarkably graceful manner. He held up his hands defensively.
"I know what you think--" he began.
"You can't tell me I'm a grandmother," the woman said, glaring. "I'm only twenty-five!"
Jenny blinked. The other man stared at her, his mouth dropping open in shock.
"Doctor!" he said.
The Doctor flinched just a little and picked the large umbrella up out of the sand, holding it in front of himself protectively.
"She's not-- oh, definitely not--" he began. Jenny shook her head and then offered the woman her hand.
"I'm Jenny," she said. "Nice to meet you."
"Nice to--" the woman began absently, but then turned her scowl on the Doctor again. The other man scratched the back of his head and offered her a friendly handshake instead.
"Sorry. She's -- " He hesitated, and then started again. "You're not River's daughter, are you? Melody's?"
Jenny shook her head. "Cloned, actually."
She was feeling a little put out, but Rory introduced himself and awkwardly explained his relationship to the Doctor, which was certainly interesting. By the time he was finished, the Doctor had managed to offer Amy an explanation she liked, and the pair of them came over to say an awkward hello. Jenny admired Amy's hair.
"Oh, I'd like to be ginger next time," she said cheerfully. The Doctor grinned.
They had so much to talk about, but somehow, it didn't seem as important as beating the Doctor at volleyball, which she did handily, especially after she recruited half of her crew as her team. Laughing on the beach, chasing to and fro over a bright white ball, Jenny was content.
She almost always was. Anyway, it was about time for a vacation, she thought.
But she wasn't exactly surprised when the frightened shouting started, somewhere over the next dune. She just started running in that direction, the Doctor at her side and their companions not far behind.
This was the life she loved, after all.