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All That Life

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I.

2008

Three weeks after their move to America, Alan Jackson was only slightly surprised to find his daughter crying in the garden.

“It's just, I miss them so much, Dad.” Alan pulled his daughter close as they sat beneath a giant birdbath left behind by the house's previous owners. “Sarah Jane, Luke, Clyde, Mom...all of them.”

“How about this, Maria? First holiday I get, I'll take you back for a visit. And think of it this way, Maria. No more monsters, no more aliens. Just a quiet life for the two of us.”

Maria said nothing. She had already told her father that she liked the aliens and the adventure, but he was too thick to listen. It was as if Sarah Jane had opened a door to an exciting new world, a door that had been slammed shut the moment she had set foot in America.

3 days later...

“Shame we don't have your mother and her high heels around, Maria.”

“You think this will do the trick, Dad? The UNIT files said they'd never been able to kill a Brax.”

“Well, I guess we're about to find out, eh?”

A large hairy, creature rounded the corner. Alan fired the water gun containing the makeshift solution at the alien.

Instead of dispersing or exploding, as the UNIT report had predicted, the alien monster emitted a roar of pain and set off after its two attackers.

“Maria, come on, in the house! We're doing what we should have done in the first place and calling UNIT directly.”

They dashed around the corner with the monster in sharp pursuit.

“Maria, help me get the couch in front of the door;, that should keep it out long enough for us to get help.”

“But Dad! What about the windows?”

Sure enough, a furry paw broke through the kitchen window, blindly groping for the house's inhabitants.

“Maria, go downstairs. You should be safe in the basement until UNIT gets here.”

“No Dad, I'm not leaving you!”

“Honey, we don't have a choice here. You're my little girl and I....”

“Wait Dad, I have an idea! UNIT says that the Brax visited Earth before and inspired the legend of werewolves. And you know what they used to kill werewolves, Dad? Silver!”

Maria rushed to the stove and pulled off her necklace, tossing it on the frying pan.

Alan fired a few more shots at the furry arms protruding from the kitchen window. The compound might not be lethal, but at least it left a sting.

“Okay Dad, I've got it!” Maria grabbed the pan and quickly poured its melted contents into the makeshift mold Alan had created. She grabbed her own toy gun, filled it with the new formula, and headed out the door.

“Maria, what the hell do you think you're doing. It's danger....”

Fortunately for Maria, the Brax was too preoccupied with its assault on the kitchen window to notice her approach. Without a second thought, she fired at his back.

At first it seemed to be the same as before. The monster roared and turned in her direction.

“Maria, get back!”

Her father emerged from around the corner, and pulled her back, away from the Brax. The monster slowly advanced towards them with slow, painful steps...then incinerated into a pile of ashes.

Maria laughed and hugged her father.

“We did it! We did it!”

So much for a quiet life.

II.

2011

“Alan, I can't believe it, our little girl's all grown up and going to Oxford. It seems like yesterday we were sending her off to her first day of school.”

Maria smiled as her father put his arm around her mother and pulled her close.

“Time flies, Chrissie. But I have a feeling that our little girl will be fine.”

“Now listen here, Maria. I want you to promise me that you'll stay away from that Calamity Jane and those aliens. It's not safe. Why, I'm half a mind to contact the parents of those other children. Not that they'd believe the alien part but someone needs to tell them their kids are in danger-”

The doorbell rang, cutting her mother short.

“I'll get it!” Maria practically ran towards the door, glad to be free of yet another of her mother's rants about Sarah Jane. She and Dad had agreed not to tell Mum that Luke was also at Oxford and would be living 20 feet away from her.

A dark-skinned women dressed in black stood in front of the doorway.

“Hello, you must be Maria.” She extended her hand and Maria shook it awkwardly.

“Yes, that's me. Umm...who are you?”

“My name is Martha Jones and I'm here to talk to you about UNIT.”

....

“Martha Jones, I've heard that name before. Sarah Jane told me about you, you were one of the Doctor's companions!”

Martha smiled. “Guilty as charged.”

“But I don't understand,” Dad said. (Maria was grateful to him for getting Mom out of house.) “Maria's not a soldier. She's only eighteen and going off to Oxford to study computer engineering.”

“Oh, Mr. Jackson. We've been monitoring your activity closely over the past three years. You and I both know Maria is no ordinary young woman.”

“Is that what you're here for, to arrest Dad for hacking into your database?”

“No, your father is a talented computer hacker, but even he can't get into our systems undetected. If we wanted to stop him, we would have done it years ago.”

“But I still don't understand. Dad's right, I'm not a soldier.”

“And you're absolutely right, Maria. You're not a soldier, and neither am I. Soldiers are not the only people UNIT employs, though, they took me in when I was fresh out of medical school. UNIT may have started as a gun toting military, but I and several others are working to change that. What we want is your mind and your spirit, Maria. Our entire operation is dedicated to fighting aliens, but not everyone can take one on singlehandedly in their front lawn.”

“But what about school? I'm due at Oxford in less than a month.”

“We can arrange for your schooling while you're working for UNIT. They arranged to push my doctorate through as soon as I began working for them.”

“I still....I don't know.”

Martha smiled. “Why don't I give you a tour of our American facilities and then you can make up your mind.”

III.

2016

Sarah Jane drew Maria into a hug as soon as she saw her.

“Oh Maria, it's so good to see you again. We're so glad you could come to Clyde and Rani's wedding.”

Maria basked in the presence of the older woman she loved beyond measure, her second mother. But when had Sarah Jane become so small, so fragile?

“Come on, Maria, we've got seats waiting for us on the groom's side. You don't want to miss the beginning of the ceremony, do you?”

Maria tried not to laugh as Sarah Jane practically dragged her into the chapel. What had she been thinking? It was still the same old Sarah Jane..

...

Maria was seated at the wedding table, alone with Luke, Sarah Jane, and Sky, Sarah Jane's new adopted daughter. Clyde had already cracked a few jokes over Skype about Sarah Jane's tendency to adopt unwanted alien children.

Maria was just happy to be sitting next to Sarah Jane.

“So Maria, I've been hearing wonderful things about your work in UNIT.”

Sky chimed in.“But isn't UNIT the place with the men in red hats who go chasing after aliens with guns?”

Maria laughed. “That's what it used to be Sky, but Martha's made a lot of changes. I don't carry a gun. Martha doesn't either and she's a Brigadier.”

“I can't begin to say how proud I am of all five of you. But, Clyde, Rani, you haven't told me about your plans now that you're out of college. What's this I hear about a new job offer?”

“Well, Sarah Jane, the missus and I are trying to keep things under the radar, you know. It'd be bad luck to make announcements before we've, urr, made everything final.”

“They're going to work for Torchwood,” Sky blurted out.

“Torchwood, my heavens!” Sarah Jane looked aghast. “Clyde, Rani, you can't be serious! Haven't you heard the stories? No one who joins that team dies of natural causes. You two are walking into a death trap!”

“I don't know, Sarah Jane, there's just something about that Captain Jack. Maybe it's the coat or that damn smile-”

“Clyde Langer, how dare you!” Rani Chandra chimed in. “This is our wedding day and you're going on about Jack Harkness.”

“Well, if I remember correctly missus, it was you who was writing your number on napkins and slipping it to him when you thought no one was looking.”

Luke stood up and tapped his glass with a silver spoon.

\ “Stop it, both of you! Especially you, Clyde. This is your wedding day and you're already fighting. What are Rani's parents going to think when they come back to our table?”

Clyde and Rani both looked ashamed. It was Sky who broke the silence.

“I don't understand, can't you just have a threesome with Captain Jack?

“Sky Smith!” Maria had never seen Sarah Jane's face turn such a vibrant shade of red.

...

After the reception, Maria volunteered to help Luke clean up the mess the reception had made.

“Sorry about the craziness, Maria. It comes with the family, I guess.”

Maria laughed. “We're lucky Rani's parents weren't there.”

“Yeah, I hope Mom doesn't go to hard on Sky. She's been trying so hard to understand social interaction.”

“Not at all like someone else I used to know”, Maria teased.

Maria and Luke continued to wash dishes in silence.

“Hey Maria, I meant to tell you earlier, you look great.”

“Why thank you Luke! Not so bad yourself, mate.”

“So...do you happen to be seeing anyone....I mean, just out of friendly curiosity.”

Maria laughed. “No Luke, lots of guys and girls have asked me out for a cup of tea but I just haven't found the right one yet.”

“Well, Maria would you like to...I don't know....You know what, never mind.”

Maria put the dishcloth and turned towards Luke, so they were standing face to face.

“Yes Luke, I'd love to go on a date with you.”

IV.

2031

“Dr. Smith, Dr. Jackson, Martha Jones tells me you two are responsible for the Luna Initiative.”

“Oh no, it was all my husband, Mr. Prime Minister, he's the genius.”

Luke stepped forward. “My wife's being modest. I may have designed the colony's life support and agricultural systems, but it all would have been nothing if my wife hadn't designed the artificial intelligence to oversee everything.

“Well,” the Prime Minister coughed into his handkerchief, “if you two don't mind, Dr. Jones has promised me a full presentation of the colony's workings in the demonstration room.”

The two of them watched the Prime Minister depart.

“What do you think you're doing, scaring him away like that, Luke?”

“And let my wife give me all the credit for this project, not in a million years! Besides, we can still catch him at the presentation, if you're really that keen on chatting with the Prime Minister.”

Maria laughed and gave her husband a peck on the forehead. “No, I think I'm fine for now, I've got all the company I need right here.”

“You know, Maria, I've half a mind to build another colony on the Moon, away from UNIT's jurisdiction. A small dome for just the two of us.”

Maria placed her hand on her stomach and smiled. “Actually, it would be the three of us.”

Luke's mouth opened in shock and he had to grab hold of the wall ramp to keep himself from falling over.

“But, but, this is impossible. We tried when we first got married and I discovered because of the Bane the odds of conception are....”

“I know Luke, 17,432 to one. Looks like we finally beat the odds on this one.”

“Wow, , we've got to call Clyde and Rani right this minute. I know, why don't we name the baby after them?”

“You mean Clyde if it's a boy and Rani if it's a girl. We can't name the baby after both of them, silly.”

8 months later

Clani Sarah Jackson-Smith was born on a breezy September morning, to the delight of her parents and grandparents alike. Only her maternal grandmother dared question her strange name.

V.

2071

The sound of a crash from downstairs woke Maria from her sleep. She lay in silence, senses on alert. Maria might have never been a soldier but she still had UNIT's training and worked hard to keep her eighty-year old body in shape.

Hearing nothing more, Maria slipped into her bathrobe, grabbed her emergency pistol, and headed downstairs.

She tried to move as quietly as she could, but even her tiny footsteps couldn't compensate for the creaky staircase. Luke had promised to fix it a dozen times before he passed, but his work with UNIT had always taken top priority.

Thankfully, the intruder didn't seem to notice. Maria could see his silhouette now, standing in front of the kitchen sink.

“Stop or you'll shoot, how dare you break into my house!”

The trespasser turned around, revealing a far too familiar face.

“Gran, stop it! It's just me, what do you think you're doing pointing a gun at me like that!”

“Mary Wilson, is that you?” Maria grabbed hold of her granddaughter, half hugging and half shaking her.

“Where in the cosmos have you been? It's been eighteen months, you parents have been worried sick about you.”

Maria had been lucky with Clani, she had been an amazingly easy child to raise. Her daughter, Mary, had been a different story entirely.

Mary was wild and free, always looking for the next big adventure. After she had been kicked out of her fifth school, her parents had sent her to stay with Maria, hoping her grandmother could knock some sense into her.

“What do you mean eighteen months, she said it would only be five minutes!”

“What do you mean, she, Mary?”

“Oh Gran, I met that man, the one called the Doctor. Actually, it's a woman now, but she's still the same person great-grandma Sarah Jane used to talk about. She's got this big blue box that travels through time and space. Oh, I can't wait to tell you about all the adventures we've been on together. I've seen Victorian London, Ancient Egypt, and planets you wouldn't dream of, Gran.”

Maria Jackson threw back her head and laughed. Time had come full circle.