“I want to meet my mother,” Piper said. The Doctor was taken off guard. Obviously, this wasn’t what she had been expecting. She took a deep breath, and seemed to be considering Piper’s request. Or was it more a demand, Piper wondered.
“Alright,” conceded the Doctor, “but remember: you can’t interfere.”
“I promise,” she said, “I just want to talk. I swear.” Piper had never met her mother, she really just wanted to know what she was like. Hear her voice, see her face, just to ease the terrible curiosity that had emerged inside of her.
“When and where do you know that I can find her?” the Doctor asked, placing her hands on the tardis’ controls.
“April 8, 1995,” Piper said confidently, “Saint Illness Hospital in San Francisco.”
The doctor sent her a funny look and asked, “How are you sure that she’ll be there?”
“Well,” Piper replied jokingly, “it was when and where I was born, so unless I have this whole birds and the bees thing all wrong, I’m fairly sure that she was there.”
The Doctor’s face turned a bright red and she replied, “Alright, this is a bad idea, but here we go to,” she paused a moment, groping for the name, “what was the name of the hospital again?”
“Saint Illness,” Piper replied.
“Saint Illness?” asked the Doctor.
“I didn’t name it,” she said, shrugging in response, “but your name is the Doctor so I don’t think you have any room to talk in the naming department.”
“Touché,” the Doctor replied.
Piper stepped out of the tardis and saw the hospital that she was born in. It was tall. The bottom half was rectangular, with red-brown bricks and an occasional window. The upper half was a dome shape completely covered in glass windows sitting directly on top of the lower, rectangular half. At the very bottom sat the set of two glass doors, both self-propelled that opened by sliding in an Open Sesame motion, like Moses’ parting of the Red Sea. Piper looked to the Doctor who stood beside her in the shadow of the hospital.
“No matter what happens,” the Doctor said, “remember not to touch yourself.”
“Are you telling me not to masturbate?” asked Piper confused. She gave the doctor an odd look.
“N-n-no,” the Doctor said, tripping all over her words, “I meant don’t touch your baby self. Don’t touch baby Piper!”
“Oh,” Piper said in embarrassment.
“Universe destroying paradoxes,” said the Doctor, “it’s bad news. Just don’t risk it.” Piper walked through the doors and sat down in the lobby, in one of the many little, blue, plastic chairs.
“So how are we going to go about this?” the Doctor asked, “obviously we can’t just go up to the receptionist and ask to see the baby-version of you.”
“We can always impersonate doctors,” suggested Piper, “although, you wouldn’t really be impersonating.”
“Sounds as good of an idea as any,” the Doctor replied, getting off of the hard chair.
And that is how the two ended up with white doctor’s coats over their clothing. Piper hoped that her ski jacket didn’t budge too much under the coat, but she couldn’t bear not having it on. She could possibly lose it, and that thought worried her. They took the elevator up to the sixth floor. She and the Doctor wandered the hall a few minutes before slipping into a small waiting room to discuss their strategy. The room was tiny. It had fading beige walls with dusty Catholic paintings. Lining the walls were the small, worn chairs with discolored floral print. Jigsaw puzzles littered the floor. A small, battered coffee table sat in between two of the chairs and a boy girl was kneeling in front of it, putting together one of the various jigsaw puzzles. The boy heard the footsteps and turned around to face them. He frowned and said, “You aren’t my sister.”
“No,” said Piper, sitting down in a chair near her, “I’m sorry.” The boy pushed a lock of shaggy black hair out of his face.
“She said that she’d be back soon,” said the boy, “she said that mom was too bad to see right now. What does that mean?” Piper could feel the burning in her throat again. This boy’s mother was probably dying right now, but there was nothing that they could do about it.
“I’m sorry,” she lied, “I’m not sure what she means.”
“I wish Bianca would just tell me what’s going on,” he said, a pout on his small face, “I’m not a baby.” Piper guessed that he was somewhere between seven and nine.
She glanced at the Doctor and the Doctor gave her a look, I feel bad, but there’s nothing we can do.
Piper looked back to the boy, with his shaggy black hair and his youthful face and his bright black eyes that seemed to hold an abyss of innocence and joy. She was afraid that what was in store for his future would leave them cracked like shattered glass. She looked him over one more time and reminded of his youth. He was wearing a black shirt with a Pikachu on it. She hugged him and then he made a bleh sound.
“Girls,” he said, wiping himself clean of her girl germs.
“What’s your name,” she asked, standing back up.
“Nico,” he said looking her over.
“Nico,” she said earnestly, “I wish you the best.” She and the Doctor stepped out of the waiting room and walked away from Nico. The two walked in silence or a few moments, moving aside for patients and doctors.
“Is that what it’s like,” Piper asked, “Knowing the outcome of something and being unable to save everyone?”
“A little,” the Doctor admitted, “but Piper, I need you to realize that it might be even harder to just walk away from your mother. That’s personal. Remember, O let not Time deceive you, You cannot conquer Time.” Piper tried to push away the ache as they walked through more of the hospital’s corridors.
Eventually, they arrived in the maternity ward. Piper and the doctor started taking various clipboards off the walls near the entrances to the rooms. They read various different combinations of names, but none included a Tristan McLean.
“Piper,” asked the doctor after a few minutes of clipboard-hopping, “Is your father’s name Tristan.”
“Yes,” she said.
“It reads Aphrodite Petit and Tristan McLean,” she said holding the clipboard and then she paused a moment, “do you want me to come inside with you?”
Piper thought about it a moment, but then decided that this was probably something she should do alone and replied, “I’m sorry, Doctor, but I don’t think that you should.” The Doctor respected Piper’s decision and opened the door for her. Piper took a deep breath and then took a step inside. On the white hospital bed sat a pale woman with wavy, caramel colored hair and lightly freckled cheeks. She held a small, tan baby gently in her arms. Piper crept softly in and the woman, Piper’s mother asked, “Who is it?”
“The doctor,” she said lamely.
“Well come on in then,” Aphrodite replied, her voice slightly lower than Piper’s own high pitched soprano. Her mother’s seemed more a mezzo-soprano and tended towards slightly lower pitches. And if Piper wasn’t mistaken, her mother had a bit of an accent. It wasn’t British like the doctor’s, maybe it was French?
“Hello,” Piper said, walking awkwardly towards the stiff hospital bed.
“You look nothing like the doctor I had earlier,” said her mother, “but I guess there’s more than one doctor in a hospital this big.” Piper was glad that her mother had reasoned away her own worries and that she wouldn’t have to do it herself. Though she was persuasive, actually using her powers of persuasion wasn’t her favorite thing.
“What are you doing, today?” her mother asked in a conversational style.
“Just giving brief checkups,” she lied. She was close enough to see her mother’s eyes, a mixture of brown, green and blue, just like Piper’s own. Her father was curled up in a large ball in the corner of the room.
“What’s with him?” Piper asked. She didn’t know why he wasn’t in the bed with her, there was certainly room.
“He’s doing that in protest because I’m moving back to France with my baby in a few months,” the woman said. And then it hit Piper, suddenly her life made a bit more sense. Her mother had been determined to return to France and her father wanted raise her. She decided that she wouldn’t push the situation any further. Her whole life was in danger of changing drastically. Her every step could change everything.
“Why did I tell you that?” her mother mused, “I don’t even know. I just feel comfortable with you for no reason at all.” And then Piper walked over and gave her a hug, careful not to touch her baby self.
“You’re not really a doctor,” her mother replied with a smirk.
“Not exactly,” she said, walking out of the room.
The doctor smiled at her and said, “looks like you didn’t destroy the time space continuum after all.”
“I know,” Piper joked, “it’s shocking, isn’t it?”
“Just a little,” the Doctor said as they got into the elevator. She hoped that Nico would be alright, but she figured that his timeline was as fragile as her own.
She could hear an old Kansas song playing gently in the background,
“I close my eyes, only for a moment, and the moment's gone
All my dreams, pass before my eyes, a curiosity.” Briefly, Piper wondered what it would have been like had she grown up with her mother, but she allowed the fantasy to die. She thought back to the time that she spent with her father and she wouldn’t trade it for the world. She wouldn’t trade his proud smiles and surfing trips and stupid little sticky note communication system for whatever she might have had with her mother.
“Where do you want to go next??” the Doctor asked, leaning against the tardis door.
“I don’t actually know,” Piper said, “where do you want to go?”
“Somewhere with amazing architecture,” she said, “Maybe ancient Rome, futuristic Tokyo, Utalia, or-“ The Doctor cut herself off and the continued, “China!” Piper smiled, China seemed like an interesting change of pace.
“Hold on tight,” the Doctor said adjusting the controls, “this might be a bumpy ride.”