AU on aspects of Gallifreyan culture--specifically no looms!
He really shouldn’t have ended up here. He scowled in the general direction of the TARDIS. Not that he could get to her right now. He was stuck with a handful of panicking humans–well, not all of them were human–in a cramped basement.
He’d forgotten that the next few years in this area were war-ravaged. He’d forgotten that these people lived through years of the planetary equivalent of alien blitzkrieg attacks. He should have just left as soon as he realized when and where he was. But no, he had to indulge his curiosity again. He had to take a look and figure out why the TARDIS had brought him here.
One of the women suddenly let out a gasp and started hyperventilating.
The Doctor glared at her, about to snap at her that losing control wouldn’t do anyone any good. That’s when he realized her reaction probably had very little to do with being frightened, and a great deal to do with the fact that she was very pregnant.
There was a soft splash as her water broke.
The Doctor looked around–no one else seemed to have really noticed. He looked back and saw that the woman was retreating very deliberately to the small closet that held a toilet, sink and old-fashioned tub (why there was one of those in this basement he had no idea, given the other options available in this time).
He looked around again at all the others here. They’d been stuck down here for twelve hours and the bombardment overhead would probably go on for another day or so. Well, technically the bombardments were usually concentrated on the outlying areas, but occasionally they did hit more central locations. Some of the colonists claimed it was aliens, other said it was pirates–some said it was both. But a small colony like this didn’t have much by way of resources and so sheltering through the attacks was the best option. It wasn’t safe for him to try and leave and so he was stuck with them. But he had done his best to calm them all and had gotten them talking a few hours ago. He knew that none of them had the expertise to help a woman in labor.
Sighing he approached a human woman who had said her name was Jardeena. She had three children who she had introduced as her own so she would at least have enough working knowledge to help him.
“Jardeena–I think I might need your help,” he said softly.
She looked up at him sharply. “Doctor, was it?”
She turned to her oldest–a girl who couldn’t have been more than eleven–and told her keep an eye on her siblings. Then she eyed the Doctor expectantly.
He jerked his head in the direction of the facilities. She raised an eyebrow–not quite sure what this man wanted her to do with him in the bathroom. The Doctor knocked on the door and, hoping he remembered her name right, spoke. “Oleann–I’m the Doctor. Could you let us in? We can help you.”
There was a groan and a shuffling noise and then the door opened. She was sweating quite obviously and panting slightly. She eased herself backwards so she was sitting on the toilet lid.
Jardeena’s eyes widened as a very obvious contraction overtook the other woman. Oleann had braced herself with one hand on the wall and the other had a white knuckled grip on the bowl of the sink.
“Just breathe through it, dear,” Jardeena said, grabbing a towel and turning on the water.
“Is this your first?” the Doctor asked when the contraction had passed.
The woman shook her head, but her face was a mask of fear. “Third pregnancy, but neither of the first two survived.”
Jardeena looked surprised. Miscarriages were almost unheard of in this age, even on a remote colony like this one, and for this woman to have had two should have been impossible.
Oleann read her expression and explained in a whisper, “The doctors don’t know why. I can’t seem to carry to full term and they don’t survive.”
“How far along are you?” the Doctor asked gently, though internally he was wondering how in the hell he was going to help this woman deliver in conditions like this. It wasn’t the first time he had delivered a child, but it had been centuries and this was hardly an ideal location.
“Thirty-three weeks. It’s the longest I’ve been able to carry. I’ve been on bed-rest for the past five months. I guess getting down here is what did it.” She said the words almost flippantly but both Jardeena and the Doctor could see how scared she was.
“Do you have a partner?” Jardeena asked. The Doctor was glad she had been the one to ask because he didn’t know what the polite term was this century.
“My husband, Franklin. He was at work.” Tears leaked out of the woman’s eyes, “I hope he made it to a shelter too.”
“I’m sure he did,” the Doctor said.
They paused as Oleann sucked in sharply as another contraction hit.
“She shouldn’t be having contractions so close together yet," Jardeena hissed quietly in the Doctor’s ear.
“I know,” he said in a low voice.
The contraction passed and the Doctor placed a hand gently on Oleann’s belly. He slowly moved his hand across. Then he removed his hand and went digging in his pocket.
Both women looked rather surprised when he pulled out a stethoscope. He put it on and placed the head on her belly and listened. After a minute he removed the device and spoke to Oleann. “Do you know if it is a boy or girl?”
“Well, I think he is alright for the moment. As far as I can tell he isn’t in any distress. But what I’m worried about is how quickly you are progressing.”
Oleann nodded. “The doctors don’t know why it happens. I went into labor the first time at eighteen weeks. They tried to halt it but it didn’t do any good. They said my body just seems to go into overdrive when I am in labor. My second pregnancy I went into labor at twenty-five weeks and it was only a little over an hour. But the birth was too traumatic for her and they couldn’t save her.” Tears were leaking out again. Jardeena reached over the Doctor and gently used the towel to clean Oleann’s face.
“Oleann, we’re going to do everything we can for you and your son.” The Doctor said firmly. “Now, I will be honest I haven’t delivered a baby in a very long time, but I do remember how. I need to take a look and see how far you’ve dilated. May I?”
Oleann nodded and quickly propped one foot up on the tub and pulled her skirt up. The Doctor didn’t even balk as he hastily tore the underwear away.
“You’ve dilated quite a bit–I’d say you’re at six centimeters already. I think you skipped over early labor entirely and went straight into active labor. I think this child is coming in the next half hour–whether we’re ready or not.”
Oleann let out a muffled sob and the Doctor quickly pulled her skirt back down and grabbed her hand. “Oleann, I promise you, I promise we will get this baby out alive.”
Oleann nodded, and then let out a groan as another contraction hit.
“They’re coming about every five minutes and lasting about forty-five seconds,” Jardeena said worriedly.
“I know; this really isn’t the ideal place for a baby to be born.”
Jardeena looked pensively around the small bathroom. It was already cramped with the three of them there. She made a decision and said, “Right–I’m going to go clear everyone out of the sleeping area. We’ll move her there.”
“Good idea.” The Doctor nodded. She had already opened the door when he said, “Wait a second.” He grabbed a stack of towels and shoved them into her arms and then plunked his sonic screwdriver on top of them.
“Lay these out and then hit the button there on the side. It’ll give them a sonic scrub. Not quite sterilized, but better than nothing. Save a few to wrap the baby in. If you can find some string give it a sonic scrub too. And find someone who has something sharp. We’ll have to take care of the umbilical cord the old fashioned way.” Jardeena nodded and exited the bathroom.
No one had really noticed the three of them in the bathroom. Jardeena marched over to the curtained area that separated the bedding from the common and food areas. This shelter really was in poor condition, and there were too many people in it. Hopefully this bombardment would end soon.
She hated living this far out. Her husband had been the one to insist on “making a fresh start” out here at the colony. And then he’d gotten killed in the second bombardment leaving her with three kids out here. She admitted she didn’t particularly like the government of the inner systems, but it had been better than this. The Second Great and Bountiful Human Empire left the fringe worlds to their own devices–including hostile alien attacks. She’d adapted, but every so often she gave in to the urge to scream at her dead husband for abandoning them out here.
She shook herself a bit and cleared her throat loudly to catch the attention of everyone else. “Oleann is in labor and is going to have a baby down here. Everybody, clear out of the bedding area–we’re going to be using it.”
Everyone stared at her in disbelief for a moment. “Move it!” she ordered in the same voice she used when the kids were being recalcitrant. It worked.
When the area was empty, she pulled the curtains closed and started cleaning the towels. Using the Doctor’s sonic tool wasn’t a terribly efficient way of doing it, but as he said, better than nothing. The bedding area had one actual bed and a number of thin mattresses and pallets on the floor. She hoped they wouldn’t have to sleep here tonight. It would be especially uncomfortable for a new mother to spend her first night with her child in such accommodations. If the baby didn’t survive, it would be even worse.
When she had finished cleaning the towels and had laid some out to catch blood, she returned to the bathroom. The Doctor was talking Oleann through another contraction. He looked up from where he was at her feet, tension visible on his face, and said, “He’s coming soon. Very soon.”
“Right. Let’s get her on her feet and into the other room.”
Oleann levered herself up using the sink and the Doctor caught her hand pulling her awkward weight fully upright. When they had maneuvered out the bathroom door Jardeena took the other side. Slowly they made their way over to the curtained area, ignoring the stares of the other occupants.
The Doctor looked at Oleann. “How are you doing?”
Oleann panted a bit. “I think walking pushed me into the next stage.”
The Doctor’s expression darkened and he gently but quickly helped her lie down on the bed. As soon as she was settled there was a bloody discharge onto the waiting towels. He ignored it and examined her, “You’re definitely into transition. Jardeena, hold her hand. You’re probably feeling the urge to push right now, aren’t you?”
Oleann grunted through a contraction but nodded.
“Just hold on, we’re not quite there yet, but you’re doing beautifully.”
It was only a few minutes later when the Doctor said urgently, “He’s crowning. You can push now, gently though. This has probably been a bit rough for him.”
Oleann let out a small scream and bit her lip.
“You’re doing great, Oleann, that’s it steady breaths and steady pushing,” the Doctor said soothingly as Jardeena mopped the woman’s brow.
“His head is out!” the Doctor exclaimed a moment later. “Jardeena, clean towel.” Holding the tiny head in one hand, he grabbed the towel and cleared the mucus from the infant’s mouth and nose.
He wasn’t breathing. The Doctor quickly felt around the baby’s neck, making sure the umbilical cord wasn’t wrapped around it. It wasn’t.
“Ok, Oleann, I need you to push again, we’re almost done here.” He didn’t let any of his concern show in his voice as he gently rotated the baby so the shoulders were in the right position.
Oleann pushed again and the shoulders popped out one at a time. The rest of the tiny body followed quickly. Oleann panted, “Doctor, my baby?” Her voice trembled. She knew that if everything were alright she should hear him by now.
“Jardeena,” the Doctor’s voice snapped, “take care of the cord. Stick with her until the placenta is out.”
The Doctor was cleaning the baby and wrapping him in a towel to warm him even as Jardeena tied the cord and cut it.
The baby still hadn’t moved or made a sound.
Oleann’s distress was just background as the Doctor slapped the baby’s feet. There was no reaction. No gasp, no cry.
The Doctor tried again. “Come on,” he spoke softly. With gentle fingers he felt the tiny chest. There wasn’t even a heart beat. Had the birth been too traumatic?
Oleann was now sobbing quietly, Jardeena hugging her closely.
The Doctor took another clean towel and wiped the baby’s face again. Opening the tiny mouth he brought his own lips close and breathed air into the boy. He gently palpitated the chest.
Bringing his mouth back down to the child’s face this time, he not only breathed air in but a small bit of his life–less than what he had used to spark that one small cell still alive in the TARDIS when they’d first fallen into Pete’s world, but part of his life energy nonetheless.
That did it–with a small gasp the child inhaled and his heart started beating. With great gusto, he let out a cry of protest.
Relief filled the Doctor. He had done it. This was one time he had been able to keep his promise. The baby was alive.
He stroked the little cheek, checking the rooting reflex, nodding to himself satisfied when the baby responded. His color looked good and he was crying enough to show there wasn’t any problem with his lungs. And his heart was going strong, showing no signs of distress. The Doctor double checked the towels wrapped around the tiny body and then moved to place him in his mother’s arms.
“Congratulations, Oleann. You have a healthy baby boy, with a head full of dark hair too.”
Oleann was crying again, but this time with relief and joy. Even Jardeena was looking a bit teary eyed.
“Thank you, Doctor. Thank you. You’re a miracle worker.”
The Doctor smiled gently but shook his head, “You’re the one that produced this miracle. Now, you just lie there with him and we’ll clean up a bit.”
Jardeena smiled at the newborn and then efficiently wrapped the bloody placenta in the towels and bundled them all together. “We’ll see if we can’t find you something to change in to. Your clothing is a mess.”
Exiting the curtain Jardeena announced to everyone (who had probably already heard everything anyway through the thin material), “It’s a boy.”
They all gave a cheer.
The Doctor gazed on the new mother and son, who were oblivious to anything else, for a while before he gathered the towels he had used to clean the baby and moved out of the curtains as well. He put the towels in the garbage and then went into the bathroom to wash the blood and fluids off his hands. Jardeena was already there washing as well.
“Thank you, Jardeena,” he spoke, grinning widely. “You were brilliant.”
She smiled back, as much at his expression as at his words. “You didn’t do half bad yourself. I really don’t envy her delivering in a dump like this. It was bad enough for me delivering my youngest at home. We didn’t quite make it to the clinic. Though, you’re a better coach than my husband ever was.”
The Doctor got a distant look in his eyes. “I remember when my wife gave birth to our son. Let me tell you, I am glad I am not able to bear children. Feeling the psychic echoes was bad enough for me. Telepathically sharing the birthing pains is not all its cracked up to be.”
Jardeena laughed. Telepathy and psychic abilities were common enough among various alien species and even a few near-human species that she didn’t think this was strange.
“Oh,” Jardeena said suddenly, “one of the older women offered a fresh nightgown for Oleann. It’s sitting on one of the chairs near the curtain.”
They exited the bathroom. Jardeena smiled and nodded once more to the Doctor before joining her children again.
The Doctor approached the curtains again (picking up the donated piece of clothing) and spoke. “Oleann, may I come in?”
“Yes,” she called.
He entered to find that she had moved to prop herself up against the wall. She’d improvised one of the blankets as a cover as she nursed the baby. The enthusiastic sucking sounds brought a smile to the Doctor’s face. “He seems to have a healthy appetite.”
Oleann grinned. She didn’t remember the last time she’d felt so happy. The only way this could have been better were if her husband had been here. She didn’t care what the Doctor said–he’d been the one to make her son live. She somehow knew that her son probably would not have survived if he’d been born in the birthing clinic–no matter how much they boasted about their doctors and technology. Not one of them had been able to explain why she couldn’t carry to full term or why her previous two pregnancies had failed.
“One of the women offered this.” He put the nightgown on the bed beside her.
Oleann looked at the nightgown and then at her son. She sighed. “I guess I ought to clean myself up a bit. Will you hold him while I do?”
“I’d be honored.” He carefully lifted the infant out of her arms so she could rise. She grabbed the article of clothing and exited the area. She returned wearing the gown and looking refreshed only a short time later, but the boy was already asleep in the Doctor’s arms.
The Doctor handed him back to her once she got re-situated on the bed. “I’ll let the two of you rest then.” He moved to leave, but stopped when she said, “Wait.”
He turned, regarding her expectantly.
“What’s your name?”
“John Noble,” he answered without hesitating. He’d taken to using “Noble” rather than Smith after everything with Donna. She probably would have slapped him had she known, but he did it anyway.
Oleann smiled. “Doctor Noble, I’d like you to meet Jacobi Noble Servatchi.”
The Doctor blinked, stunned twice over. Oleann had named the child after him (or after Donna, but he didn’t think she’d mind–he hadn’t met a human woman yet who didn’t melt over a newborn…well perhaps not Yvonne Hartman and Mercy Hartigan). But the last name was the even more surprising part.
“Your husband is a Servatchi?” At this point in the Second Great and Bountiful Human Empire, the Servatchi name was as recognizable and powerful as the Kennedy name had been to twentieth and twenty-first century Americans–except without the bad luck associated.
Oleann smiled and shook her head. “No, I’m the Servatchi. Tradition in our family–even the females have the right to give first heirs the last name.”
“What are you doing way out here then?” the Doctor asked, genuinely curious. If he remembered his history correctly (and he usually did) then Oleann’s grandfather (or perhaps great uncle or some such relative) was the current Imperial Director of the Triangulum galaxy.
She sighed, she had expected the question. “I made a few less than popular choices culminating in marrying a man most of them saw as well below our social status. Oh,” she hurriedly explained when it looked like the Doctor was going to interrupt, “they didn’t disown me or anything. It was just…easier to avoid conflict–and the spotlight–by moving out here. I like it out here. It’s so much more peaceful than the inner systems. We’ll probably move again when Jacobi grows up a bit, but for now we like it here.”
“Ah. I hope these bombardments don’t disrupt your dream.”
Oleann grimaced, but replied, “The colonial council says we should be getting aid from the Imperial Armada.”
The Doctor forced back his worry over this small settlement and said, “I should let you rest.”
She smiled. “Thank you, Doctor, for everything.”
He nodded and exited the area.
The bombardment let up early the next morning and the Doctor insisted on accompanying Oleann to the birthing clinic, at least until her husband got there.
She didn’t argue very much beyond a polite, “That isn’t necessary.”
Jardeena flagged them an automated cab, gave Oleann her contact information, and then hustled her children off towards their home.
Jacobi woke up as soon as the vehicle started moving, but didn’t start crying as he squirmed and stretched. Oleann laughed and caught one tiny flailing hand which immediately curled its tiny fingers around her thumb.
The Doctor just looked on grinning.
They arrived at the clinic in short order and were greeted by two nurses and a very worried doctor. The nurses whisked mother and baby away while the doctor accosted the Doctor.
“You, sir, are the one who delivered the child?”
“I did. Say, do you have a shop here?”
The doctor pursed his lips, ignoring the last bit, and then launched into question after question–to which there was no apparent logical order.
Luckily, a few minutes later they were interrupted by the entrance of a frantic man. He spotted the doctor and made a beeline to him, completely ignoring the Doctor. “Doctor Inkley–where’s Oleann?”
The Doctor smiled and stuck out a hand. “You must be Franklin!”
The man blinked, slightly startled. “And you are?”
“John Noble, pleased to meet you. Congratulations on your son.”
Franklin only took a second to process this and then he smiled. “You’re the one who delivered him, then?”
“Yes, shall we go visit them?”
The two of them walked past the now sputtering Doctor Inkley and followed the signs to the rooms. They located Oleann easily enough as Jacobi was now making a racket. Franklin entered and swooped in to kiss his wife even as the Doctor hung back in the doorway. The two nurses were washing and measuring and weighing the baby–along with all the other standard medical practices of this era. It wasn’t long though before he was returned to his mother’s arms and then nearly immediately passed along to his father.
The Doctor didn’t know why he was still here. He would usually be gone by now, but right now he had no urge to leave.
Oleann caught sight of him and gestured for him to come over. “Doctor, I’d like you to sign the birth certificate.”
Touched, the Doctor did so without protest. He looked at the happy parents and asked, “May I have a copy of the birth certificate?”
Oleann nodded. “Of course. Would you make him one?” she addressed one of the nurses, who quickly exited, presumably to retrieve a copy of the item.
“I really ought to get going,” the Doctor said. “I just wanted to say goodbye.”
“Oh, so soon?” Franklin protested.
“I get restless too long in one place. I’m a traveler these days.”
“Well, whenever you happen to travel by these parts again, you’re welcome to stop by our home. Anytime,” Oleann said.
“Thank you.” The Doctor was about to leave but hesitated a moment. “May I hold him again?” He gestured to the slightly less fussy Jacobi.
Franklin nodded immediately without even consulting Oleann and handed the baby over.
Jacobi stopped fidgeting and gazed wide eyed at the Doctor, one hand reaching aimlessly up. The Doctor bent to place a kiss on the infant’s forehead. Then he did something that he hadn’t done in a long time.
It was tradition on Gallifrey for parents holding their new child together for the first time to take a peek at the baby’s timeline–all the possible futures available to the Lords of Time to view. Older family members would sometimes do the same at the naming ceremony as a sort of blessing. The Doctor didn’t know why he decided to do this for Jacobi, but he did anyway.
He opened his mind to Time and gazed at the child. He normally didn’t walk about with his time sensitivity so heightened–it would drive anyone mad to do that. But focusing on one individual, so new, was usually at worst only confusing simply due to the sheer number of possibilities.
What he saw left him speechless.
He choked out a “thank you” to the couple, returning the baby, and then, only pausing momentarily to grab the copy of the birth certificate from the startled nurse, fairly fled to the TARDIS.
Once there he stroked the console and spoke softly. “You knew. That’s why you brought me here. Ah, old girl, you never cease to amaze me. Let’s go then, shall we?”
Jack was the only one in the hub right now. Gwen was home and Ianto had to run a few errands. Mickey, who had sort of unofficially joined the team, had headed out hours ago, bragging about a date.
Jack had just put one stack of papers away when a familiar sound echoed through the hub. By the time the TARDIS had finished materializing, Jack was half way up to the Plass. The Doctor met up with him half way across the concrete. He scrutinized Jack carefully with an expression that Jack couldn’t quite interpret.
“Something wrong?” Jack finally said, getting uncomfortable.
The Doctor seemed to snap out of his thoughts and said, “Beautiful night! Shall we take a walk?”
Jack blinked. “Oooookay,” he elongated the syllable while regarding the Doctor with some concern. He shook it off then–if the Doctor wanted to keep his secrets, that was his business. “Let me show you where I like to hang out.”
The Doctor followed Jack as he led him to his perch on top of the Millennium Center. He breathed in deeply and said appreciatively, “This is a wonderful view.”
They stood there in silence until Jack couldn’t handle it any longer. “Ok, what is going on? I have never seen you so quiet and introspective in this regeneration.”
“I was wrong, Jack, so wrong, when I said that you were never meant to happen. You are woven into the fabric of the universe and have been since the moment you were born. Your entire existence is a paradox, but a stable one, that always is, has been and had to be.”
Jack was staring at the Doctor now. “Since the moment I was born?”
The Doctor laughed and ran a hand through his hair. “Strangely enough, that’s my fault.”
“Would you just spit it out!” Jack said impatiently. As annoying as the overly loquacious Doctor normally was, this hesitant babbling was even worse.
“I got sidetracked. Landed where and when I wasn’t expecting–you know, the usual. But while I was there I helped a woman give birth to her son. He shouldn’t have survived; he wouldn’t have, if I hadn’t been there. But I gave him a tidbit of my life to jumpstart his own.”
“And?” Jack prompted when the Doctor went silent once again.
The Doctor wasn’t looking at Jack now, but across the darkened horizon in front of them. “And she named him Jacobi Noble Servatchi.”
Jack stopped breathing and lost all color in his face.
“Son,” the Doctor continued, “of Franklin…well, Franklin something, I didn’t catch his last name, and Oleann of the Servatchis. Met a wonderful woman named Jardeena too–helped me deliver him.”
“She used to babysit me,” Jack let out in a strangled whisper, finally remembering to breathe. “She liked to tell the story of being there when I was born. About Doctor Noble, who brought me into the universe in a shabby underground shelter during one of the early bombardment periods.”
“I started using Noble recently, rather than Smith,” the Doctor said, not needing to go into a longer explanation with Jack.
“What does it mean?” Jack finally asked.
“What does it mean–I don’t really know what it means–except this.” The Doctor turned now and looked directly into Jack’s eyes, once more peeking at the other man’s timeline. It was difficult to look at Jack with his time senses fully primed, but at least he was prepared for it. He confirmed what he already knew, that Jack would one day become the enigmatic Face of Boe. “Your life Jack, from beginning to end is intertwined with mine. You are so, so far from being wrong–your timeline, if altered, could very well destroy the universe.”
Jack was silent as he digested that. Then he smirked. “So I’m not an impossible thing?”
The Doctor broke out into his customary grin, switching off the philosophical introspectiveness with ease. “I wouldn’t go that far. Come on, let’s get some chips.”
As they walked, Jack tentatively asked, “You say from beginning to end….”
“And I mean it. I didn’t understand it at first, but the spark that Rose used to bring you back, and that keeps bringing you back, will eventually run out. By that time you will be old, so, so old. But at the end Jack, I am there with you.”
Jack blinked back the tears that threatened and spoke softly, “Thank you, Doctor.”
“I hope you know that when I asked you to come with me again, it wasn’t a one time offer. I know you want to stay here for now, but if sometime in the future you want to...well, let’s just say it’s an open offer."
Jack grinned lasciviously, just as able to switch out of serious mode as the Doctor, and spoke. “How open exactly are we talking here?”
The Doctor sniffed in feigned disdain. “You still haven’t bought me a drink.”