David was at a council meeting tonight. David's always at a council meeting, she reminded herself. Now was a good time to curl up with a good book. She had found a copy of "A Tale of Two Cities" in an abandoned library when they were exploring last month. A name was written in a child's script on the inside back cover, one Willis Johnson. Susan wondered who he had been; if he had been a child when the Daleks first attacked. She hoped not. It was so much for a child to bear.
Willis had probably had to read the book for school. Children, she reflected, seldom read Dickens for the pleasure of it. Susan had, of course, but Susan was different. She had begged her grandfather to take her to meet Dickens when they had first arrived on Earth in 1963. The Tardis needed repairs, he had reminded her and he was not very good at piloting it yet, so they never made the trip to meet the author. More's the pity.
So Susan curled up on the couch with Willis' book on a dark and chilly November eve and began to read. She got four pages in when she realized that someone was rapping very lightly on her front door. Visitors were rare and never at night. Susan stood up and grabbed the shotgun by the door. With a calmness that would never have been there when she was a child, she leveled the barrel at the door.
"Who is it?" she asked.
A muffled voice replied, "It's me, Susan. Your grandfather. Let me in!"
She didn't recognize the voice. It wasn't like his. Grandfather's voice had been aristocratic, with an air of authority and a twinge of haughtiness. This voice didn't sound like him at all. For all she knew, it was one of the groups of thieves that frequented the area at night. Holding the gun steady, she opened the door. Standing outside were three people: a young Scotsman in a kilt, an even younger girl in a metallic-looking cat suit, and an impish little man with a dark, bowl-cut hairstyle.
Time Lords knew. They always knew. Looking at the little man, she felt his mind, reaching out to her. Susan dropped the shotgun and was on him in a second, hugging him tightly.
"Hello, my dear," the Doctor said, his voice cracking with emotion. "My dear, dear Susan!"
They held each other so long that the two other people became a little uncomfortable.
"Och," the Scotsman said in a loud voice. "So that's yer granddaughter then, is it, Doctor?"
"Hello," the young girl said, when at last the two had parted. She held out her hand. "I'm Zoe."
"Susan," the older woman said, wiping a tear and shaking Zoe's hand.
She then waved at the Scotsman, who smiled and said, "Jamie."
"Let me look at you, my dear," the Doctor said, pulling her back a bit. "Have you been eating right? You look so thin."
"I weigh almost a stone more than when you left me here, Grandfather," she said, leading them into the house. "You were unwise to travel at night. There are roving gangs here."
"Yeah," Jamie said, smacking his left fist into his right hand. "They won't be bothering us much anymore."
Susan noticed that the Doctor looked somewhat unkempt, as if he hadn't maintained his almost polished appearance. She suspected that the regeneration had changed his dress sense, which was a pretty common side effect.
"Please sit down," Susan insisted. "Mrs. Grandow traded us some milk for a sweater I knitted. There's plenty, if you'd like some." Zoe and Jamie agreed and the Doctor declined. Susan poured three large glasses; one each for Jamie and Zoe and one for herself. She sat on a chair from the dining table opposite the three people sitting on the sofa.
"It's been, let me see," the Doctor muttered, "about sixty years since I saw you last, my dear. How long has it been for you?"
"Eight years," she said, sipping the warm milk. "I'm not sure I've forgiven you yet, Grandfather."
"I am sorry," he insisted. "But you were becoming a young woman, Susan. It wasn't right to keep chasing after your old grandfather. You were ready to settle down.
"Speaking of which," he said, looking around, "where is David?"
"The council is meeting tonight," Susan said. "They meet three nights a week, and David is very busy these days."
"I see," the Doctor said, noting the tinge of sadness in her voice. He didn't press the issue. "I noticed some signs of civilization returning on our walk here. You have a running post office, I gather?"
"Yes," Susan said, taking another sip. "All the way from here to Glasgow."
"Ah, Glasgow," Jamie said. "So there's still a Scotland. Good."
"There's always a Scotland, Jamie." Susan laughed. "But what happened to Mr. Chesterton and Miss Wright?"
The Doctor waved his hand dismissively. "Long since back in their own time, my dear. Happily married, I'm glad to report. Although the last I saw them, they still hadn't figured out that they weren't aging. It will come to them as time goes by."
"I've missed you so much, Grandfather," she said. She could still see little flashes of the old gentleman that she had traveled with all those years ago, but she liked this little fellow who had taken his place as well. Susan wished that she had been there when he regenerated. She had been taught that family should be there for regenerations. Especially the first one, which was often traumatic.
"I've missed you too, Susan," he said, perhaps showing a bit more emotion than he had intended. He had to see her. It had been too long. But he didn't want her getting too attached and asking to come along with him. As much as he loved her, he didn't want her in the danger he faced almost daily. She was family and that was more important than anything to him. "I didn't always get where I wanted to go in the Tardis, but on occasions I have been able to pilot her, so here we are.
"I picked up Zoe in the 21st century aboard a deep space station. This was a few years before the Daleks attacked. Jamie is a Highlander from 18th century Scotland. We've been traveling for about 5 years together now."
"Doctor," Zoe asked, "why didn't you tell us that you had a granddaughter before?"
"The Doctor doesn't talk much about his past," Jamie interjected. "But I dinna think ye were old enough to have a grown granddaughter."
"Oh, I'm older than I look, Jamie," the Doctor said, winking at Susan. "But I did promise to check up on you, Susan. I can't stay long -- you know why -- so we had best make our way back to the Tardis."
"They're still looking for you, aren't they?" Susan asked the Doctor. He nodded. "You know that they'll find you one day."
"Not unless I lead them to me, my dear." He stood and rubbed his hands together. "I've no doubt that they're watching YOU, Susan. So long as you stay here and don't travel, they'll ignore you. It's me they want."
"Who, Doctor?" Zoe asked as the three travelers rose.
"Never mind," the Doctor insisted. "Let's just be on our way." He hugged Susan close. "I'll be back, my dear," he whispered to her. "I promise."
Susan bid them farewell and returned to her book. The words wouldn't cooperate as the tears came unbidden. "Damn."