FIC: Ten Times Trouble (1/2)
Title: Ten Times Trouble (1/2)
Pairings: Ian/Barbara is the only explicit one.
Characters: One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Ian, Barbara, Jamie, Victoria, Sarah Jane Smith, Romana II, Evelyn Smythe, Ace McShane, Fitz Kriener, Jack Harkness, Donna, numerous OCs, and Ben and Polly mentioned. Yeah.
Rating: PG-13 for Captain Jack (and to some extent Fitz).
Spoilers: Nothing specific, a lot of general ones, but most of them are episodes that were shown for the first time a minimum of nineteen years ago. If there’s a spoiler statute of limitations, I think we’re past it.
Prompt: All ten Doctors show up at Ian and Barbara's wedding, and all of them have very bad timing.
Author's Notes: Wow, this turned into a friggin’ monster. I hope you like it. Two’s line about lacy cravats originated in the finaleclipse community with suitboyskin, so all credit goes to him for graciously allowing me to use it. Also fits in timeline-wise with my story Listening, but reading that is not remotely required.
Bonus: Tell me where the OC names came from and I'll give you a cookie.
Dedicated to eponymous_rose, who is made of awesome.
The church was empty, silent apart from the creaking of the doors and the Doctor’s footsteps on the carpet. He frowned.
No, this was wrong. He had the right place, he was certain, and more importantly he was certain he had the right time. But something was off. Flowers looped along the pews, the service was set up, the register in place, everything ready; there were simply no people. Was he early?
The Doctor ran down a mental checklist. He’d hidden the TARDIS in a closet in the basement, and left Ben and Polly to entertain themselves inside (how, he did not want to know). Had he told them not to come out…? Yes, he had, and locked down the controls, even locked the closet door, too. They couldn’t get in too much trouble.
Hmm. Better not to think that, perhaps.
He was just on the verge of heading back to the TARDIS to triple-check the date and ensure that his companions weren’t ending the world when he heard footsteps behind him. “Excuse me, rector?”
Automatically, he assumed his most reverend attitude, turned around, and said, “Yes, my child?”
The woman behind him, her soft blue cardigan and wavy brown hair familiar as time, smiled tentatively. “Is everything ready for the wedding?” she asked. “Only my sister got me to come down and ask. She’s terrified that something will go wrong.”
He was willing to bet that a mysteriously absent rector would count as “wrong.”
Well, he had been ordained once, even if it was accidentally, and it would not be the first time he had fixed things for these two. The Doctor nodded. “Oh, yes, my dear,” he told her, grasping his lapels and smiling kindly. “Everything will be fine.”
Ian Chesterton had not exactly led an uneventful life. In the past two years alone, he’d faced down Daleks, Voord, Venusians and Zarbi, Romans, Crusaders, Aztecs and Mongols. He’d thought he was frightened then.
Well, if he’d been frightened then, he was terrified now.
Not of Barbara, or of being married to her. Being married to her would be easy and natural as breathing—they were perfectly suited to each other, after all, and they’d been in love for so very long already. No, being married held no terrors for him.
Getting married, on the other hand, did.
Especially when strange men, accompanied by rebellious-looking girls, appeared in his dressing room.
He pressed back up against the wall and stared at them, trying to decide if they were there to hurt him or not (travelling with the Doctor, you never knew). The peculiar duo stared back: the girl, a rather lovely brunette in a large black jacket, looking confused; the man, middle-aged with a Panama hat and a bizarre umbrella, merely contemplative.
“…Professor,” the girl said, in an accusatory tone.
“Yes, yes,” the man said, and got up. “Hello, Ian. Very sorry to interrupt, but it really isn’t my fault this time.”
“This time?” The girl’s voice scaled up.
Ian decided that they probably weren’t going to kill him and asked, cautiously, “I’m sorry, have we met?”
The man blinked. “Oh, am I the first? How strange. Yes, I’m the Doctor.”
“You’re the…” Ian gave the other man a long, hard stare. A kindly, mournful face beneath dark hair sticking out every which way beneath a Panama hat, a white jacket, a sweater vest with question marks all over it (he was fairly sure the Doctor would not have been caught dead in a vest like that). “No, you’re not.”
“Oi, you--” the girl started.
The man laid a hand on her arm. “Never mind, Ace. I was quite different when I knew him. Trust me, Ian, it is me, and I am terribly sorry for interrupting your wedding.” He paused, thought about it, then said, “Again. Do pass that on to Barbara for me, will you? Now, Ace, see if you can find me a light bulb. And a metal fixture; that one on the door will do.”
The girl gave Ian one last, narrow-eyed glance, then went off to the door to pry the fixture off. The man turned around, humming under his breath, and snatched a pen off the table. “May I have this? It’s for a good cause.”
“It isn’t mine,” Ian said. He was fairly sure Colin had left it; Colin was good at losing pens. “Look, I’m sorry, but how did you get in here?”
“The Master caught us away from the TARDIS,” the man said, taking some unidentifiable pieces of machinery out of his pockets and slotting the pen into them. “I’m afraid I was taken by surprise. But I can get us back.”
Ian did not respond directly, blindsided by the word ‘TARDIS,’ that word that only one other person on the planet knew. A blue police box, bigger on the inside, adventure and terror, other planets far away and Earth so far back in the past that it might as well be another planet, Barbara’s hand in his, Susan’s cheerful face, Vicki’s piping voice and over it all the Doctor, smiling benevolently… “Doctor?” he said, not quite believing even yet.
The Doctor looked up and gave him that same benevolent smile, and there was no question in Ian’s mind anymore. “It’s called regeneration,” he Doctor said. “Every so often I change bodies. A very long story, and one I haven’t time to explain just at the moment, but you’re going to be seeing rather a lot of me today. I’m sure I’ll be happy to explain. I suggest asking the fellow in the cricketing gear, as the others are going to be a bit busy. Thank you, Ace.”
The girl returned and handed him the fixture. “Can’t get the light bulb,” she said, “unless I take one out of a lamp.”
“Well, go and do it then,” the Doctor said. “We’ve got to stop the Master, after all. There, that should do it.” He twisted the fixture into place on the strange machine he’d produced, and held it up, frowning at it. “Or… no, it still needs something…”
“The light bulb?” Ian suggested.
“No, that’s for the Master,” the Doctor said, and shook his head. “No, something… oh, of course, how could I be so silly? Ian, may I have your tie?”
Ian blinked. “My… what on earth do you want my tie for?”
The Doctor reversed the machine, which looked strangely elegant for all it had been assembled out of bits and bobs, and showed him a hook that the fixture from the door had created. “It forms a loop that keeps Ace and me with it when it goes back,” he explained. “That’s the simple version, of course; I could get far more complicated but I gather you wouldn’t prefer it.” He smiled again, and his eyes twinkled. “So may I borrow your tie? I’ll bring it back.”
Ian thought about it, then shrugged. What was one more tie? His mother might lecture him, but he suspected Barbara would get a kick out of the story. He slipped it off over his head and handed it to the Doctor.
“Perfect!” the Doctor said, threading it rapidly through the hook and tying a neat, tight knot. “Right. Ace, got that light bulb?”
“Almost.” The girl had unplugged a lamp and was halfway under the lampshade, fighting with it. “Ha! Got it.”
“Good, then come here and put your hand through this and we’ll go.” The Doctor beamed at Ian. “Congratulations, my dear boy. May you be happy.”
The girl slipped a hand through the loop, and the Doctor turned the pen cap halfway around. Ian barely had time to nod before they faded from view.
Bemused, he turned away from the spot where they’d been and began fixing his collar in the mirror. How very odd.
And just what had he meant about others…?
Louisa Wright twitched the neckline of her bridesmaid’s dress just a little lower before she approached the two men. One, a lovely Byronic type with long brown curls and a poet’s face, was pretty but really not her type; however, the other, tall and rugged and simply gorgeous in leather, was precisely what she was looking for. My, but Ian did have good-looking friends.
The gorgeous one lit a cigarette as she approached, only to have it neatly and quickly removed by the pretty one.
“Have a little respect, Fitz, it’s a wedding,” she heard the pretty one say.
“So?” The gorgeous one tapped another cigarette out of the box, scowling. “I don’t know them, do I? They’re your friends.”
The pretty one took that cigarette too, and the box. “Yes, and need I remind you that Barbara once drove a—hello, miss, is something wrong?”
Damn, they’d seen her. Louisa had been looking forward to that story; it sounded like there was rather more to her sister than the bookish schoolmarm she’d always seen. Oh well. She directed her prettiest smile at the gorgeous one and said, “No, not at all. We’re to begin soon, so if you could sign the register and sit down, please…?”
“Oh, yes, of course,” the pretty one said, and beamed. He had a lovely smile, she had to admit. He took up the pen and began writing in a beautiful, flowing hand.
Louisa took advantage of his distraction to edge closer to the gorgeous man. “I’m Louisa,” she said, and fluttered her eyelashes at him. “Sister of the bride.”
“Fitz,” he grunted, glaring at the pretty man’s back. “Dragged along unwilling.”
“You could have stayed in your room,” the pretty one said, still writing. “Bride or groom…”
She wasn’t sure if it was a question, but Louisa answered anyway. “They only want to know if you’re friends with the bride or groom. It changes which side you sit on.”
“Does it?” the pretty man said, looking up at her and opening his absurdly long-lashed eyes very wide. “How strange. We’ll have to sit in the aisle, then.” He returned to writing.
“What?” Louisa asked, blankly.
Fitz grunted again. “He’s like that.”
“I’m friends with both the bride and the groom,” the pretty man said, capping the pen and laying it aside. “And that reminds me, I need to speak to Ian. Is he around?”
Louisa blinked. “I don’t believe so,” she said, cautiously. “But we’re about to start, so he should be up any moment.”
“Lovely. Fitz, entertain the young lady for a moment, will you?”
Fitz’s scowl deepened, then, abruptly, he switched on the charm. “It will be my pleasure, Doctor,” he said, and lifted Louisa’s hand to his lips.
That completely blanked out Louisa’s usual perceptiveness, which led to her missing the interesting exchange between the pretty man and her soon-to-be brother-in-law. She only came back to reality when Fitz blinked and leaned away from her.
The pretty man and Ian were walking back towards them, deep in conversation. Ian was for some reason only now putting his tie on, and looking mildly aggravated. “…there’s going to be more of you?”
“I’m afraid so,” the pretty man said, and smiled sheepishly. “Erm, the one who claims he’s undercover, don’t mind him. The rest of us are much less strange. Except the chap in the scarf, but he’s got a babysitter.”
Ian sighed. “Well, it’ll be a story, I suppose. Thanks for returning my tie.” He looked at Fitz. “Hello.”
Fitz nodded. “Fitz.”
“Boys,” Louisa muttered under her breath. The pretty man laughed.
“Well, we’ll be off, Ian,” he said, taking Fitz’s arm. “It was lovely to see you. Do give Barbara my love.”
Ian smiled. “I will. Enjoy your travels.” The pretty man nodded, and wandered off with Fitz in tow, towards the doors. Ian turned to Louisa. “Hadn’t you better go downstairs? Your mother said they’re lining up.”
“What, already?” Louisa gasped, and fled downstairs, where, as it turned out, no lining-up was occurring. Barbara was, however, close to panicking, their mother fussing, and the other bridesmaids dithering about in a flurry of chaotic non-productivity. Louisa sighed, and took charge.
Only later, after she’d sorted out the mess, calmed her sister down, drafted the bridesmaids into getting the guests in place and shooed her mother upstairs, did it occur to her that the questions she’d been about to ask had been neatly dodged.
“I never thought I’d see the day,” Caroline Wright said, watching the bridesmaids shoo the guests into place. “Our Barbara getting married.”
Her husband Paul grunted. “About time, if you ask me.”
Caroline gave him a reproving look. “Paul, don’t start.”
“Don’t start?” he demanded. “Don’t start? Two years the girl is gone! She just swans back in and expects us to forgive everything and come to the wedding?”
“Paul,” Caroline said. “She is your daughter and you will stop that right this instant. At least try to be happy for her.”
“Oh, I’m happy all right,” Paul said, glaring impartially around the room. “Happy she’s off our hands at last. Who would have thought she could cause this much trouble?”
Someone behind them said, “You’ll find it’s the quiet ones that cause the most trouble. Have we met?”
Grateful for the distraction, Caroline turned around. The gentleman behind her was… well, distinctive, she supposed was the most diplomatic phrase. Yes. Distinctive. A mass of blond curls above an outfit that induced eyestrain within seconds, complete with ridiculous tie, was certainly distinctive.
She almost didn’t notice his companion, a small woman of about her own age with glasses and a pointed look, until the woman tugged on the man’s elbow and hissed, “I thought you were supposed to be undercover.”
“I haven’t the faintest idea what you’re on about, Evelyn,” the man responded, in what Caroline thought was a massive refusal of reality. “I am undercover. I am stealth personified. I am so undercover that I might come to resemble a bedpan at any moment. This is Evelyn Smythe, I’m the Doctor, and you are?”
“Caroline Wright,” Caroline said, managing to keep a straight face only with great effort. The Doctor? It wasn’t terribly strange for a doctor to be so egotistical that he referred to himself as the only doctor around, but still. “This is my husband, Paul. We’re the bride’s parents… er, I expect you must know Ian…”
“Oh, both of them, both of them,” the Doctor said, waving a hand airily. “Not like this, of course, I expect they would have run screaming if they saw me dressed like this—“
“I’m surprised I didn’t,“ Evelyn Smythe muttered, and Caroline found herself in perfect agreement.
“—hush, Evelyn—but yes, I’m a friend. It’s lovely to meet Barbara’s parents at last, though not,” and here he shot a glare at Paul so quickly that Caroline almost missed it, “to hear her badmouthed.”
Paul stiffened and shot a glare right back. Caroline stepped on his foot as hard as she could and said, sweetly, “Yes, well, Paul is a bit overwrought. He is losing his oldest, today. You understand.”
The Doctor opened his mouth, but Evelyn stepped on his foot just as hard and replied, equally sweetly, “Oh, indeed. You must be feeling so conflicted.”
“Conflicted!” Paul got out, before Caroline could stop him. “Conflicted! When she swans off for two years with some man and never bothers to even write...”
“Oh, yes, and you never once considered that she might not have had a choice?” the Doctor retorted. Evelyn dragged on his arm, but he shook her off impatiently and took a step forward. “Barbara is a wonderful woman and I will not hear her spoken of this way!”
“Doctor,” Evelyn hissed, in precisely the same tone as Caroline’s “Paul.”
Both men ignored them. “She’s my daughter and I’ll speak of her any way I choose,” Paul snapped, stepping forward himself. “As it happens I do think she might not have had a choice, which is why I don’t like that Chesterton boy half as well as her!”
The Doctor drew himself up, and Caroline realized that he was a good head taller than her husband. She shot a nervous glance at Evelyn, who’d covered her face in her hands. It was clearly up to them to prevent a fight. Because if there was one thing Barbara would never forgive, it was fisticuffs at her wedding.
“Ian,” the Doctor was currently thundering, “is just as splendid as Barbara, and frankly I’ve no idea how the pair of them put up with you!”
“Two years!” Paul shouted, holding up two fingers in an obscene gesture that Caroline hoped was inadvertent. “Two years! Two years she’s gone and I’m expected to just say, oh, welcome back, trot on in and have some tea?”
“Yes!” the Doctor bellowed back. “Respect the poor girl’s privacy for heaven’s sake! She’s getting married, isn’t she, what more do you hidebound old fools want from her?”
“Hidebound old fools?”
Caroline exchanged a quick glance with Evelyn and decided that the situation had gone quite far enough. “Paul,” she snapped, grabbing his elbow and dragging him backwards a few steps. “Hadn’t you better get down to Barbara? We’re going to start soon.”
Paul, still glaring, sniffed audibly, about-faced and marched down the stairs, indignation in every line of him.
Evelyn took the much simpler route of whacking the Doctor in the ribs with her handbag. “Stop that right this instant!” she snarled. “You’re going to ruin the whole wedding!”
“I am not,” the Doctor snapped back. “He started it, didn’t he, badmouthing my companions…”
She whacked him again. “Shut it and keep it shut! Go and sit down or I’ll hit you a third time.” The Doctor slouched off down the pews, grumbling, and Evelyn turned to Caroline. “Men!” she said.
“I quite agree,” Caroline said. “Thank you ever so much for your assistance. I’m afraid Paul can cut up rather stiff at times.”
Evelyn shook her head. “He’s just as bad,” she said, jerking her head towards the Doctor. “We’ll have to keep them apart at the reception, that’s all. Are you starting?”
“Any moment now,” Caroline said. “Do sit down. And thank you again.”
“Think nothing of it,” Evelyn said, and smiled warmly.
“Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this congregation to join together this man and this woman in holy matrimony…”
And about bloody time too, Thomas Chesterton thought, from his position by his brother’s side as best man. Really, even before Ian had eloped, it had been obvious to pretty much everyone that he was head over heels in love with his pretty history teacher. Thomas was uncertain as to why they hadn’t had the decency to just get married while they were away and save their families this rigmarole.
But for his brother’s sake he would put up with it. Ian still packed a good punch.
Besides, the pretty history teacher had a pretty little sister.
Thomas smiled at Louisa Wright, across the way as maid of honor. She blushed and smiled back. The rector cleared his throat discreetly and they both returned their attention to the ceremony.
“…reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God; duly considering the causes for which matrimony was ordained. First, it was ordained for the procreation of children…”
Well, Ian had that one right down. Thomas never would have thought it of his brother; Ian had always seemed so straight-laced. Nice to know even the mighty fell occasionally. He glanced inadvertently at Barbara’s stomach—she wasn’t showing yet, thank God, or his mum and dad would probably have had an even bigger fit—and looked up straight into Louisa’s eyes. She blushed again and dropped her gaze hastily.
Interesting. So at least one other sibling knew. He’d bet the parents didn’t, though.
“…into which holy estate these two persons present come now to be joined. Therefore if any man can show any just cause, why they may not lawfully be joined together, let him now speak, or else hereafter forever hold his peace.”
Thank God, they were coming to the vows. He could soon get off his feet and sit…
…what was that noise?
The rector stopped mid-sentence. Ian and Barbara both turned around with expressions much resembling those of someone who has unexpectedly been handed a thousand pounds by their worst enemy. The audience shuffled and whispered, and the big blond man who’d caused all the trouble earlier looked outraged.
A blue box shimmered into view on the center aisle.
Gasps and a few screams echoed in the sanctuary as the key-on-piano-wire noise faded away into a shrieking silence. Barbara had crowded into Ian’s side, and the two of them stared at the box with wide eyes. Thomas stood frozen, mouth open. So that story hadn’t been a drunken lie…
The door opened with an ominous creak, and a blond man in cricketing gear strolled out.
He beamed at everyone, and essayed a wave. “Hullo! Don’t mind me, just here for the wedding. I wonder if you could… oh…” He trailed off as he realized that a good many people were staring in fear, and a minority were glaring.
“Excuse me,” the rector said, his voice dripping with ice. “We were rather in the middle of something.”
“Um, beg pardon,” the blond man said, looking positively diffident. “I must have got my timing wrong.”
“I should say.”
Thomas coughed. “Excuse me,” he said, rather diffident himself. “If we might continue with the wedding? Unless you had a reason they shouldn’t be married,” he added, to the blond man, and decided that if the blond man did say anything he’d better punch him and bundle him back into his box before Ian did.
“Oh, no, no, no, far from it. I only wanted to see the ceremony.” The blond man actually scuffed a foot against the carpet. “Er, terribly sorry. I’ll just go and move the TARDIS.” He darted back into his blue box, which shimmered away again with that scraping sound reversed.
Thomas exhaled, turned around, and raised an eyebrow at Ian, who was still clutching Barbara and looking rather poleaxed.
“You don’t suppose…” Ian began, but he seemed to be talking to Barbara, and Thomas didn’t feel like answering.
“It’s a nice thought, anyway,” Barbara responded, her voice going a little high with stress.
“If I might continue,” the rector said, loudly enough for the guests to hear. The congregation obediently (if somewhat nervously) shuffled itself back into place. The rector cleared his throat ostentatiously and went on. “Wilt thou have this woman to thy wedded wife?”
Finally, Thomas thought, resisting the urge to swipe a hand across his brow. First the curly blond man and now the diffident blond man. This wedding was getting far too interesting for his tastes.