Jane Smith ran her fingers through her husband’s floppy brown hair as he stirred beside her. “Good morning,” she whispered, smiling as he rolled over to sleepily kiss her.
“Mmm, morning Wife,” John murmured, dragging his arm closer to drape over her body. Jane looked at her husband lovingly, tucking her head against his bare chest. Then she caught a glimpse of the alarm clock on his bedside table.
“John, John, we’re late,” Jane was instantly more alert, easily rolling out of his arms.
“Mmm, but we had such a good time here last night,” John yawned, lazily sitting up against the headboard.
“It’s past seven,” Jane called, hurrying into the loo. John’s eyes widened, swinging his legs over the bedside, barely feeling the coldness of the floor.
“Oh, do get dressed John,” Jane fretted, crossing the room. She pulled out a fresh jumpsuit for herself and her husband’s usual tunic. John pulled the tunic over his head, dashing into the loo to wash and brush his teeth. “You forgot to shave, dear,” Jane called as she left the bedroom.
Shave. John looked in the mirror, stroking the wisps of facial hair running down his chin. “I’m growing a beard, Jane. What do you think, eh?”
“Razor’s in the cupboard if you change your mind,” Jane laughed, her voice fading as she hurried down the corridor to the kitchen.
Working with your spouse held certain…advantages. Working for your spouse also held these advantages, as well as significant others. One of these was a private Trans-Mat connection from their house to the university.
“You’re insatiable,” Jane muttered, stepping away from the Trans-Mat and her husband.
“Mmm, that’s why you married me,” John replied teasingly as a brunette came up to them.
“You’re late,” she frowned, crossing her arms, watching them closely.
“Good morning to you too, Miss Oswald,” John said happily.
“Doctor, you are far too close to making lateness a habit.” Clara scowled.
“Oh, Miss Oswald, if you were married to such a lovely lady as I am, perhaps you would sympathize with me.” John couldn’t help but jest, though he wondered (in some distant part of his mind) if it was appropriate to speak that way to his boss.
Clara’s face softened. “And how is Jane this morning?” She turned to face the other woman. Jane. Even after a month, ‘Jane’ and ‘John’ felt foreign to her tongue. ‘John’ didn’t notice.
“Oh, quite excellent,” the grin on his face told her that he was thoroughly enjoying this life. Clara was not. The Doctor and Rose might be enjoying life in the twenty-eighth century, but this was the only life they knew. Clara, on the other hand, just wanted to go home. Or at least to a different planet. One month stuck in 2786 was enough for her, but the TARDIS refused to let her inside and she still had to wait either for the aliens to find them or the next two months to pass. Still, she had to admit that her friends appeared much more light-hearted and carefree without the weight of the universe weighing on their backs. But the practical jumpsuits that literally every woman on the planet wore were a far cry from her favourite knee-length dresses. And it was strange to see the Doctor without his bow-tie. At the very least, she thought, this ensured the disappearance of the fez.
The Doctor John was staring at her intently. “Are you quite all right, Miss Oswald?”
“Of course I am. Why wouldn’t I be?” Clara tried to feign disinterest, though she wondered if he saw through her façade. She missed her Doctor and Rose. John and Jane were far less interesting people, more suited to domestics than adventure, and she was starting to feel an itch to see a new world. The sole upside to this arrangement was that the TARDIS was behaving slightly friendlier to her, as she was the only passenger who regularly visited, the Doctor and Rose having no memory of the great time-ship.
“You’re staring, Miss Oswald,” Jane said apprehensively.
“Sorry,” Clara muttered, slowly coming back to the ‘real’ world. She feigned glancing at her watch, starting as she realized that she was nearly running late. “I need to go. I have a class in ten at the other end of the campus. You were late. You’re buying coffee later,” she called as she took off.
“Did you bring your credit stick?” John turned to his wife.
“Nope,” Jane popped the ‘p’. “Guess we’re not buyin’ coffee then.”
“No,” John agreed, “it would seem that it shall be Miss Oswald’s turn today. Besides, we bought yesterday.”
“Mm, and you bought chips,” Jane grinned in remembrance. “When’s your physics lecture?”
“Oh, in two hours and forty-seven minutes,” John raised his wrist, smirking when he confirmed the time. “Which means that your shift in the studio starts in two and a half hours.”
“Which means we have two hours and twenty-six minutes,” Jane smiled.
“Quite right, Jane dear. So now the only question is ‘my office or yours’?”
“Cheeky,” Jane smirked ferally, knowing exactly what her husband had in mind.
“Jane,” John said lazily.
A scream sounded from the courtyard. John didn’t hesitate, grabbing his wife’s hand and he wrenched the door open, running from the building.
“Baines?” John asked, staring rather stupidly at the student.
“We asked for silence! Now then, we have a few questions for Mister Smith.”
“No, better than that. The teacher. He's the Doctor. I heard them talking.” Lucy gestured toward John. He saw Clara running back.
“You took human form.” What an odd thing to say, thought John.
“Of course I'm human. I am a human, as are you, Baines. And Jenny, and Mister Clark and my wife and Miss Oswald. What is going on? This is madness.”
“Ooo, and a human brain, too. Simple, thick and dull.” Baines said tauntingly.
“But he's no good like this.” Like what?
“We need a Time Lord,” Jenny hissed. Clara was behind the Family and Jane shook her head, trying to voicelessly persuade the younger woman to leave.
“Easily done.” Baines said dismissively, stepping forward and revealing a futuristic gun of some sort. “Change back,” he ordered.
“I don't know what you're talking about.” John took his wife’s hand firmly. “Really, haven’t the foggiest. Change back what?”
“Change back!” Baines repeated.
“Change what? What are you going off about,” John raised his voice as Jane was ripped from his side. Jenny revealed another gun and put it to Rose’s head.
“She's your wife, isn't she? Doesn't this scare you enough to change back?” Jenny taunted him.
“I don't know what you mean!” John cried. “Please, just take me. Let Jane go!”
“Wait a minute. She told me about Clara. That woman, there.”
“Then let's have you.” Clark put his gun to Clara’s head. John stared in horror at his wife and his best friend.
“Have you enjoyed it, Doctor, being human? Has it taught you wonderful things? Are you better, richer, wiser? Then let's see you answer this. Which one of them do you want us to kill? Wife or companion? Your friend or your lover? Your choice. Make your decision, Mister Smith.”
“Perhaps if that human heart breaks, the Time Lord will emerge,” Baines suggested. Again with Time Lord. What was a Time Lord? “Kill them.”
“No!” John lunged for Baines; however, he was easily overpowered by the younger (alien?) man.
“Where’s his watch, Jane?” Clara whispered. Jane’s hand automatically went to her breast. “Jane, do you trust me?” The other woman nodded imperceptibly. “He’s got to open it.” This was it, wasn’t it?
“I don’t understand, it’s only a simple pocket watch,” Jane whispered back.
“Trust me,” Clara whispered urgently.
“Really, Baines, I do believe it’s high time that we were all returning to the school. John don’t you agree?” Jane passed the watch to her husband, mouthing ‘open it’.
As John popped the watch open, Baines cried out. A moment later, something changed in John’s eyes.
“Time Lord,” Baines hissed.
“Yeah. I am.” John stared at the alien. “And you, you¸ Baines, but you’re not really Baines, are you? Just like I wasn’t John Smith, professor. And my wife isn’t really Jane Smith, brilliant artiste extraordinaire. Well, she is brilliant and she did go back to get her A Levels in art and do you know who she is? Have you ever heard of the Bad Wolf, Baines? What’s your name, anyway?
“Father of Mine shall be pleased when I tell him that not only have I trapped the Time Lord, but the Big Bad Wolf as well,” Not-Baines’ eyes glinted.
“John. John, what’s happening?” Jane looked from Clara to the stranger wearing her husband’s face.
“Rose! Rose Tyler, I do believe that it’s time that you remembered me! Well, first yourself, then me. And maybe Clara and the TARDIS.”
“Are you well, John?” Jane looked into the eyes of her husband, noticing for the first time how ancient and tired they appeared.
“C’mon, Rose,” he pressed his forehead against hers. “Remember. Blue boxes and chips (lots of chips!), Daleks,” me, he thought, “and Clara Oswin Oswald!”
“Oi!” Clara couldn’t help but grin. The Doctor was back. Rose would be soon, too. “Just Clara’s enough, thanks.”
“Are you unwell, John?” Jane asked again, placing her hand against his brow, noting his cooler than usual skin. “You’re awfully cold.”
“I’m cool,” the Doctor pronounced, his eyes widening as his wandering hand failed to find a bow-tie to straighten.
“You’re daft,” Clara corrected him. “Completely mad. You and your wife. And that box.”
“Yep,” he popped the ‘p’. “Remember, Rose? Slitheen in Downing Street and Margaret the Egg? And your mum Jackie and Jack and chips and changing leather for suits and suits for cool bow-ties?”
“John,” Jane stroked her husband’s thumb.
“Oh, Rose,” he cradled her face, “let’s bring you back, eh? It’s not going to hurt so much this time, I swear,” he kissed her forehead, resting his own against hers. “Do you trust me?”
“Of course,” Jane whispered.
“Open the watch, sweetheart,” John looked as though he wanted to kiss her properly. Slowly, she clicked it open and shut it once more as voices and memories that weren’t hers began swirling in her mind. “Rose, you’ve got to open it,” she heard the well-hidden desperation in his voice and clicked it open again. Exterminate! How long you going to stay with me? Forever. You were fantastic, absolutely fantastic. A lifetime of memories flooded her mind.
“Doctor,” she breathed, before fainting. The Doctor caught her before she had the chance to fall, holding her close.
With Clara under strict orders not to leave Rose’s side for an instant, the Doctor dealt with the Family. They wanted immortality. He was old and tired and he gave it to them. He wrapped the Father in unbreakable chains, forged in the heart of a dwarf star. He left the Mother into the event horizon of a collapsing galaxy to be imprisoned there forever. The Sister he trapped in a mirror, every mirror, on the other side of the looking glass. The Brother was suspended in time, watching the fields of England; a scarecrow.
All that took him away from Rose’s side for far too long. A hug and kiss to the cheek for Clara to reassure her that they were both fine (they weren’t, but they would be with time), then his attention turned solely to Rose.
“Wake up, eh,” he softly caressed her cheek. “For me?” He reached through the bond, seeking her mental signature. Her mind was still Jane Smith. The Chameleon Arch hadn’t worked.
“Rose?” He asked, more desperately searching her mind for the locked door. Everywhere he looked, he saw memories of their fake idyllic life together, but nothing of their reality.
“Window shop dummies come to life, Rose, remember?”
“John,” Rose’s mental voice said.
“Rose, you’ve got to wake up. You’ve got to remember. I don’t know what I’ll do if you don’t come back,” the Doctor felt his mental voice crack. And suddenly, he finally noticed her mental voice shift slightly. “Rose?”
“Doctor,” there she was, her voice full of concern for him when she’d the one who hadn’t come back properly.
“Rose Tyler, need I remind you of Rule Number One?”
“Which one’s Rule Number One, again? You’ve gotten so many rules lately. You know my favourite? Always waste time when you don’t have any,” Rose grinned.
“You’re awake!” Clara pushed the Doctor aside, with the pretence of having just returned to the medbay, reaching over to give Rose a hug.
“Oh, I’m sorry, Doctor, but she’s kind of my best friend? And you’ve been rubbish company the last few days, all mopey doom and gloom, not even eating so much as a banana. Rose, she gets all the fancy intravenous fluids but you don’t even try to take care of yourself. I tell you, Rose, it’s hell to live with him and only him. Don’t know how you do it when I’m not around.”
Rose grinned. “Oh, there’s a fair amount of…activities we can do onboard.”
“As open as I may be, there are certain things that I definitely do not need to be around for. Rules, Doctor. Pertaining to how far you flirt in front of other people? Sure you’re not still newlyweds?” Clara waved as she backed into the corridor.
“Few days?” Rose looked back to the Doctor.
“Complication with the reversal of the Chameleon Arch,” the Doctor mumbled, burying his face in her hair. “Not technically meant for humans. Not technically meant for non-binary cardiovascular systems. Had to bypass some things.”
“Doctor,” Rose lifted her head up so it was level with the Doctor’s. He cupped her cheek and kissed her, hard and desperate. As his lips slowly pulled away, he kissed her again, and again, and again, pulling her in closer to feel her familiar single heartbeat.