Chapter 1: Black Holes and Revelations
Sunday, 14th February, 2021. Lincoln, NE
Valentine’s Day. How could having a day using a body organ as a symbol possibly be romantic? Maybe, St. Patrick’s Day should have a liver instead of a leprechaun for all of the drinking that does damage to said liver. Olivia smirked at her snarky thought regarding the year's most romantic holiday. As she made her way in and out of morning rush-hour traffic, she thought she could make Valentine's Day just another day on the calendar.
No such luck. It was her birthday. She was twenty-nine and feeling fine.
Liar. She was bored. She felt part of herself was missing, leaving her with a hollow, incomplete feeling. The problem was that she didn't know why.
In the freezing February slush of ice and rain, she found an empty parking spot in the Fenwick Library parking lot. Pulling her coat collar closer and grabbing her black and bright polka-dotted umbrella, she stepped out of her car and into the pouring rain. Tucking her favorite red scarf around her neck, she suddenly felt warmer.
Her roommate, Rue, had given it to her as a birthday present a week early, yet, she was attached to it almost to the point of obsession. Olivia made it a point to loop it a specific way, tying it exactly as Sherlock Holmes did on the BBC television series. It soothed that empty spot in her heart that she didn't know why she had.
That scarf seemed alive to her, sometimes, snuggling itself around her like a protective mantle of yarn armor. She knew it was a silly anthropomorphization of an inanimate object. but strangely, she found great comfort whenever she wore it. On several nights, she had cried herself to sleep without knowing why, but holding that scarf made the unexplained anguish almost bearable.
Olivia felt the cold icy sludge pelt her face, realizing she hadn't yet opened her umbrella. The scarf was against her cheeks, wiping away the icy mix when she reached for it. She ran her gloved fingers along the large knitted pattern.
Her day was another ordinary day. No one at the Library knew it was her birthday and she preferred it that way. Throughout the day, she helped patrons check in and out their library materials, told some noisy teenagers to straighten up or leave the library, and set up the new non-fiction display for the Library. One book caught her attention and her eyes widened at what she read on the front cover.
"Doctor Who: More Than a Myth."
Olivia flipped the book over, reading the blurb on the back. "Does the Doctor truly exist or is he just a creature of myth? This book offers evidence that the Sainted Physician exists and intervenes in our lives, sometimes to save us and sometimes to bring destruction. Find out more about the lonely god of time and space who inspired the science fiction phenomena known as Doctor Who."
Olivia chuckled while scoffing at the blurb. Doctor Who was a television show created in the 1960s by BBC producer, Sydney Newman. Whoever had written the book had drunk too much or drank some imaginary hypervodka. She put it on the non-fiction display next to the new book, "The Whovian Encyclopedia."
As the day wore on, her mind kept going back to the book that she had dismissed with disdain. As a Whovian herself, she knew there were those in the fandom who were rabid about their favorite Doctor, whether Rose was the best or worst companion or if classic or new Who was better. She had just submitted her first script to the BBC to review under the pseudonym, Oz Noble, hoping they'd accept it and make it into an episode.
When the last patron left the library at 7:55, Olivia finished the closing routine she did almost every night. With Fenwick Library being only a few minutes from her house, she knew she'd be home by 8:30. As she turned out the lights and went to lock the front door, she thought once more about the blue paperback that had been nagged at her all day, screaming at her, "Hey, pick me up!".
She went over to the non-fiction display, noticing no one had touched it. She thought that odd given it was on the New York Times Bestseller List. Picking it up, she read the author's name: Christopher Noble. Turning to the back inside cover, she saw a photograph of him with short-cropped hair, high forehead, piercing blue eyes and the feature of a Roman emperor. He wore round frameless spectacles that she found charmingly old-fashioned.
What astounded her was that he was a doppelganger for the actor who had played the Ninth Doctor, but was only in mid-thirties while said the actor was fast approaching sixty. His biography read that he was a leading pioneer in the field of temporal mechanics with PH.ds in Astrophysics and Quantum Physics from Cambridge and Harvard.
He was handsome as hell and it said he taught at The ASTRID Project-Lincoln. She also worked with a new librarian named Nora Noble who was English. Olivia wondered if there was any connection. "Just because two people are from the same country doesn't mean they know each other."
"Great, I'm talking to myself," she scoffed. Going over to the main desk she checked out the paperback and the audio version of it when she saw it was read by Dr. Noble.
She arrived home at 8:30 and performed her usual routine. Olivia fed Bonnie her brown tabby and her Dachshund, Clyde. Partners in crime, he bayed while she meowed incessantly. The distinct thoughts of "feed me now" came off them in waves. She had stopped at the supermarket on the way home and left with some festive cupcake in honor of her birthday.
Then, she heard the thunder roll and the lightning crack right after that. The cupcakes went flying, the lights went out and Olivia screamed.
"Oh, lovely," she mused, looking out her front door. She saw her entire block was cloaked in darkness. "Power outage. Welcome to my birthday."
She realized that her day had turned upside down and pear-shaped. Alone in the dark on her 29th birthday with only Bonnie and Clyde for company, she refused to let herself fall into a sour funk. Lighting some large three-wick scented candles, she started reading the paperback that she had checked out from the Library.
Her housemate, Rue, had gone somewhere for the weekend, leaving her alone. She was lonely and a little sad because she missed her flamboyant, eccentric roommate. After a few minutes, Olivia lit the fireplace, warmed some water in it on a cooking grill and made herself a hot cuppa of Earl Grey Tea. As far as she knew, tea wouldn't harm the baby.
How in the world was she going to tell her family that she was three months pregnant, but didn't remember doing the deed to get that way? Olivia's memory was a blank from Halloween night to New Year's Eve, not a sliver of memory filled that two month period. Her neighbor, Rita, told her that she'd met Rue at the Library, had hit it off and when Rue needed a place to live, had offered her a room in exchange for sharing expenses.
She'd been to a neurologist at St. Gertrude's Hospital of the Sainted Physician who had diagnosed her with Disassociative Amnesia. She thought it rather odd that an Episcopal nun was also a neurologist. She had told the good doctor that she'd never had brain surgery, but she did have Synesthesia. The doctor gently revealed to her that she'd had brain surgery by guiding Olivia's fingers to the small scar at the base at the back of her neck where just below that indentation at the back of her skull. Olivia didn't remember ever having surgery.
Then, she had received a call two days later from Dr. Kyle with the results of her bloodwork. When Olivia had returned to her office, she and Dr. Kyle had a surreal conversation.
“Olivia,” Dr. Kyle had approached her with feline grace, fascinated by the neurologist’s movements when she entered the room. She was dressed in the gold and brown colors of her order and wore gloves, unique to the Sisters of the Sainted Physician. “I’m glad we could meet today.”
“Hopefully, you have some answers for me,” Olivia sighed. “So what is it, Doctor? What's wrong? “
Dr. Kyle sat in a chair beside her, giving a gentle nod and motioning Olivia to sit. She carried an electronic tablet in her gloved hands.
“So, what is it?” Olivia asked. “Brain tumor, cancer, head trauma, too much television?”
“Still cheeky, I see.” Dr. Kyle nodded. “Always one to give a glib quip in the face of adversity.”
“Sorry?” Olivia turned to look at the other woman. “Come again?”
“You may not remember, Olivia, but I saw you several months ago for your Synesthesia,” Dr. Kyle coughed. “I’ve seen you before as a patient.”
“You have? When?” Olivia’s jaw hung slack.
“Shortly after Halloween,” the doctor explained. “You experienced a Chiari Malformation due to a traumatic brain injury.”
“And what is that?”
“Your brain decided to drop through the hole in your skull into your spinal column,” Dr. Kyle explained. “Due to the swelling of your brain, you had emergency surgery to relieve the pressure of your cranium against sensitive tissue.”
“So, traumatic brain injury, my brains falling out of my skull and you cut a hole in it to relieve the pressure,” Olivia listed everything she counted each point on her fingers. “Lovely. Let me guess, I tripped over my shoelaces, right? Mother Rita said I turn klutziness into an Olympic sport.”
“No,” Dr. Kyle gave her a small smile.
“Are you sure you know who you’re talking to?” Olivia scoffed, snorting softly. “Not exactly known for my acrobatic feats and graceful maneuvering, Doc. I trip on the cair."
Dr. Kyle's subtle London accent had a calming effect on Olivia, mesmerizing her. “You’re from London, South London, by the accent, aren’t you?”
“Yes,” Dr. Kyle paused, her green eyes wide. “Very astute.”
“Why do I keep thinking you’re from Savannah?” Olivia asked, the nagging intuition of a memory just-out-of reach that seemed buried and buried again.
“I’m just amazed that you remember our conversation about where I’m from,” the doctor rose from her chair, quickly turning away to grab an x-ray and post it the lit panel behind her. “I'm from Savannah, just a few kilometers northwest of London. I practiced there before taking my vows. Maybe, your memories are starting to return.”
Why did the doctor act that day like she was a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs? Olivia mused at the abrupt change in the neurologist's behavior.
“After reviewing all of the test results accumulated over the past week, I know there’s nothing physically wrong with you. There are no complications resulting from your surgery. Your brain has completely healed.”
“Then why is there another lobe at the base of my skull?” Olivia pointed to the small lump above her spine on the x-ray. “Do I have an extra brain?”
“No,” Dr. Kyle laughed, coughing again. “You’re in excellent health.”
“Then, what’s wrong with me?” Olivia willed herself to keep her voice neutral and not to ball her fists in frustration. “Why can’t I remember those missing two months?”
“From what you’ve shared with staff this week, I’ve concluded your amnesia comes from multiple environmental factors: stress, psychological trauma. We've already had that discussion. Today, you're here because I wanted to share with you about what we found in your bloodwork."
“And that’s good, how?” Olivia motioned for the doctor to elaborate.
“I think it’ll be good for you in your recovery. It has to do with what showed up."
"Don't keep me in suspense, just give me the diagnosis?” Olivia eyed the doctor. “Do I have a disease? Leukemia? Am I the victim of alien abduction?”
The doctor stared at her, blinking several times in silence, then answered. “You always catch me off-guard with your deadpan humor, Olivia. No, none of those, unless you’ve spoken to some Martians lately.”
“That’s what I wanted to see,” Dr. Kyle grinned back. “Humor is a great diffuser of stress. This isn’t anything bad. It’s something that will change your life depending on how you wish to move forward. In your blood tests, there were high levels of hCG.”
“hCG?” Olivia asked, cocking her head. “What’s hCG?”
“Human Chorionic Gonadotropin,” Dr. Kyle explained. “It’s a hormone that shows in specific testing. Your blood test results show high levels of it. Olivia, congratulations. You’re pregnant.”
“I’m what?” The exam room turned sideways and everything turned white.
What Olivia didn't hear or see was Dr. Kyle talking to the receptionist, a red-headed woman sitting behind the front desk in the reception area. "Donna, please call the Doctor and tell him that Olivia only fainted this time."
Chapter 2: Meeting for the First Time Again
Olivia spent several hours after work reading Christopher Noble's bestseller. When her vision started blurring, she noticed it was two o'clock in the morning, ruing the consequences of staying up too late to read a book that was more science fiction than fact. Rubbing her eyes, she found a bookmark and placed it carefully inside the book. She leaned over and turned off the Tiffany lamp on the side table.
Dr. Noble’s book examined the legends of the Doctor through history, examining the documentation of the Sainted Physician’s appearances by many cultures in the world. As the scent of the candle filled the living room, Olivia remembered how the aroma reminded her of a dream that was just beyond the edges of her memory. Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, pink pepper and cloves with a hint of smoke lilted to the air. A shiver of passion started in her womb, causing contractions that made Olivia gasp.
She quickly shook off those far-too-dangerous tingling sensations, focusing her thoughts on Dr. Noble’s book. Lying in the dark staring up at the ceiling, Olivia pondered how close to home the Doctor’s theories of the Sainted Physician truly were. In fact, the hospital where Dr. Kyle worked was named St. Gertrude’s Episcopal Hospital of the Sainted Physician. Recalling what she read, Olivia remembered that St. Gertrude had been a sister at a nunnery when a man fell from the stars in a blue box.
Olivia pondered the connection, wondering why she hadn’t noticed it. The legend said that in the 19th century, the saint in the blue box saved a nunnery in a nearby town from a demon. The fiend had plummeted to earth, afflicting the local population with a deadly plague. The Sainted Physician defeated the evil demon, healed many of the ill and injured with his blessed wand of sound and light, then disappeared in his blue box.
"Small world," she murmured. She took a small sip of her tea and turned the page, excited to read more. The next words leaped off the page. “I wonder if he’s visited Loch Ness or hung with Big Foot lately.”
Dr. Noble had written, "If we take “The Doctor” to be the Doctor’s name – even if it is in the form of a title no doubt meaning something deep and alien – perhaps our earthly use of the word “doctor” meaning healer or wise man is direct result of the Doctor’s multiple interventions in our history as a healer and wise person. He either invented the word or gave it as a gift to Humanity. Maybe, the word "doctor" isn't from Earth, but from a place far away and distant in the history of time."
Olivia shook her head, skeptical of how anyone could think of the Doctor akin to a deity. He was a lonely, broken man from Gallifrey known for picking up companions who made him better. They always broke his hearts when they left for someone else or they turned to dust. He loved them far more than any loved him or her.
Olivia wondered how anyone couldn’t see that? He was either a long-lived being or the title “Doctor” was passed from one person to the next, male and female. That and his continued solitude affected his mental wellness. He wasn't a mad man in a blue box, he was alone in the universe without loving someone or being loved. All the ancient legends compiled by Doctor Noble and the ones that were the television show’s foundation iterated that the Doctor was a heartbroken man haunted by guilt who never knew redemption or forgiveness, thinking himself unworthy of love or absolution.
Olivia shook her head at the massive amount of idiots who thought of believed he existed. He was a television show character and anything else was insane. She wanted to know more about the legends and Christopher Noble’s background. His prose and intensity of conviction made her curiosity burn.
At the bottom of the biography was the Doctor's official website address. Intrigued, Olivia browsed the internet on her phone until she found it. The website listed several engagements on his schedule, including a dinner lecture at Haydn Observatory. At $80.00 for dinner and a lecture, it sounded like it was her particular kind of fun. If she were willing, she could pay $125.00 for a front-row table and a VIP swag package.
A mild rush of glee moved through her as she bought her ticket online for the dinner lecture. Olivia decided to take a risk and invite a work friend. She thought Nora would appreciate the intellectual aspects of the lecture and Olivia admitted that she didn’t want to attend the event alone.
She already had a life and she wanted to start living it. Olivia couldn’t wait to meet new people, make new friends and visit new places. So, she crossed her fingers, hoping that Nora would go with her. She promised herself that she was going to have a phenomenal year.
Monday morning came far too soon. Olivia’s phone alarm obnoxiously blared some happy feel-good song that made her want to grab the phone and throw it against the wall. Rising off the sofa, she shuffled to the kitchen. She reached for her kombucha in the fridge, what she called liquid ambition. Olivia grumbled as she went through her daily routine of getting ready for work.
During lunch, she sat at a small table in the library break room, eating her plant-based protein and vegan cheese. Damn, how she wanted a cheeseburger deluxe.
“Oh, what’s in the bag and why are you hiding it? Nora sniffed, and her face screwed into the grimace. “What is that bloody awful smell?”
“Because it’s supposed to be my lunch, but it’s more like cruel and unusual punishment,” Olivia chuckled, appreciating Nora’s reaction to the scent of tasty plant-based protein. “It’s hickory-smoked.”
“Oh, what a tragic thing to say,” Nora stared sadly at the poor wretched item called a sandwich. Her nose crinkled in disgust. “That is not real food.”
Olivia walked over to the trash can, held the sandwich over it and made the sign of the cross. “It deserves a proper burial, don’t you think?”
“Indeed,” Nora agreed, giving a solemn nod as Olivia ceremoniously dropped the bag into the trash can. “How is vegetarianism working for you?”
“It’s not,” Olivia shook her head. “My inner rabbit is about to rage.”
“Then, what the point of it, then?” Nora motioned toward the trash can.
“Trying to be healthy.”
“Healthy is eating good English cuisine,” Nora grinned. “Let me take you to the Rose and Crown, an honest-to-goodness pub with the best fish and chips, bangers and mash you could hope for.”
“I feel my cholesterol climbing now,” Olivia shot her friend a skeptical glance. “You’re trying to kill me, aren’t you? Death by artery-clogging.”
“You really like your dark humor, don’t you?”
“Well, I’ve been one to always look on the brighter side of death,” Olivia gave her a cheesy grin and two thumbs up.
“Were you always this morbid?” Nora asked.
“No,” Olivia chimed, giving her the biggest grin possible. “I used to be worse.”
“Trust me, once you have seen death once or twice, it just becomes a part of life,” Olivia mused with a shrug. “I slept in a chair by my mother’s bedside at the hospital for two or three nights. She had those death rattles,”
Olivia paused, blinking several times to banish the tears that burned the backs of her eyelids.
Nora’s sassy demeanor melted immediately, leaving concern in its wake. Large brown eyes stared at Olivia, nodding briefly as she covered Olivia’s hand with her own. “It’s all right, go on.”
“I shouldn’t have started in the first place,” Olivia looked away, grabbing a nearby napkin, loudly blowing her nose. “That’s one thing that I envy about the English: stoic persona and a stiff upper lip. It’s not like I’m the first person ever to have lost a loved one.”
“That doesn’t make your grief any less real,” Nora said in a soft voice, rubbing soothing circles on Olivia’s back. “We may all have lost someone we love, but that doesn’t make the pain easier to bear.”
“Nora, I didn’t mean to get emotional,” Olivia straightened her glasses. “I have whined, now, I want cheese.”
“Stop,” Nora’s Northern accent was thick and urgent with that one letter. “Stop trying to silly your way out of it. I never see you this open about anything. Talk to me.”
Olivia rapidly shook her head. “I’ve already talked too much. Don’t worry, I’m fine. I’m always fine. I’m over it now, but a momentary rush of hormones.”
“Finish what you were saying for me,” Nora’s voice was low and quiet. “Please.”
Nora’s brown eyes met Olivia’s darker ones. Nora had a magical way of pushing Olivia beyond her comfort zone, past her safe self-imposed boundaries. In many ways, Nora Noble was a doppelganger of the actress who played Clara Oswin Oswald and Clara personified right down to the reckless attitude and the excellent fashion sense. Quick-minded and silver-tongued, the woman had a way of persuading Olivia to break all of her rules.
“On the third day, I left for an hour, just an hour,” Olivia began, her voice no more than a whisper. “I went home to take a bath, just to freshen up. While in the bath, I received a call from the hospital. My mother had died only moments after I left. My dad died 9 days later. The Doctor said congestive heart failure, but it was from a broken heart. Nora, they weren’t even sixty.”
“You’re not alone anymore,” Nora stroked back a stray tendril of curly black hair, tucking it behind Olivia’s ear. “You have me.”
“I appreciate your friendship more than you know, Nora.” Olivia gave a little smile. “People don’t reach out to me and I’m fine with my own company. Most people just don’t understand that I’m, well, different.”
“You’re not different, you’re shy. There’s a difference.”
“I never used to be,” Olivia shrugged. “I feel like in the past few months that I’ve become a different person. I used to be so outgoing and now, I’m a shadow. I’m fading away, Nora. I don’t think there is really any of me left.”
“Oh, Ollie,” Nora gave her a gentle bump with her shoulder. “Times change and we must change with them. You’ve grown and changed throughout your life as you’ve experienced and learned new things. If you quit experiencing, quit living then you’re not alive. Olivia, you’re not fading and you’re not a shadow. It’s all right to remember who you were, but embrace who you’re becoming and choose who you want to be. Guide your life, but don’t surrender it to fate. Never forget who you were, who you are and who you want to be.”
“You are way too chipper to be English,” Olivia commented, reaching for her bottle of water out of her lunch bag.
“What about your brother, Von?” Nora asked. “When is the last time you connected with him?”
“It’s been a while,” Olivia kept her eyes focused on the lid as she slowly opened it. “You know Von, he’s moving on up. He graduated from Stanford, finished his Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford and is on his second tour of duty in Iraq. He doesn’t have time to talk with big sister.”
Olivia sipped her water. “How did we get on this tangent, anyway?”
“Looking on the brighter side of death, I guess,” Nora gave her hand a pat.
“I am walking hormonal upset on legs,” Olivia shook her head. “I’m not even showing yet and I’m an emotional mess.”
“It is what it is,” Nora didn’t like seeing the young human said. It made her hearts clench in pain.
“Hey, since I made a New Year’s resolution, I’m thinking about attending a lecture at the Hayden Observatory. Dinner included. Want to go?”
“Sure,” Nora smiled, steepling her hands and resting her chin on them. “What is so interesting about Dr. Christopher Noble?”
“Well, I’m intrigued. What happened, Nora? Before my memory loss, Doctor Who was just another BBC program. I wake up New Year’s Day with two months of my life missing and he’s the hottest thing since the Beatles. It's like I’m living in a parallel universe and I’m the only one who is sane.”
“I know what that feels like,” Nora nodded, then rose from her chair and grabbed a mug from the break room cupboard.
“I want to know what all of the hype is about,” Olivia shrugged. “I want to know why so many people are fascinated with the Sainted Physician.”
Nora filled her mug with water, put it in the microwave and turned the dial. “In fact, I think this is the first time we’ve done something other than board games or binge-watching Netflix.”
“Well, while you like to skydive and bungee jump, I take the slow path and I’ll watch the occasional documentary.”
At six o’clock, Nora pulled into Olivia’s driveway in her blue and white BMC Mini Cooper. She heard Nora stomping up the steps, imagining her shaking the snow off of her shoes. Opening the door, she saw her friend dressed in a long cashmere sweater, black leggings and black boots.
Olivia felt wasn’t showing yet at seven weeks, but she knew she didn’t look sleek and sophisticated like her petite, leggy friend. With large brown eyes and curves, Nora caught everyone’s attention. At 5’1”, Nora just came to Olivia’s chin. At 5’7”, Olivia often joked about using her as a chin rest.
Olivia didn’t do sexy, she did practical. She chose a long gray turtleneck with black jeans and black boots so she wouldn’t land on her backside. She had a talent for tripping on air and didn’t want to have any accidents during her pregnancy. Wrapping her favorite red scarf around her neck, she grabbed her favorite black wrap from the hall tree by the front door.
Her favorite accessory was her blue pocket watch pendant. She didn’t remember where she’d bought it, but it held great sentimental value. In circular Gallifreyan, the front of the pocket watch read, “Laugh hard. Run fast. Be kind.” On the back, she knew it read, “Love is a promise we make.”
It was the word inscribed on the interior that she had never heard anyone speak, but she knew it sounded lyrical to her ears, “Re’Hallion.” The closest she had ever found on any wiki or website was that it was Old High Gallifreyan for “Beloved, Darling, My Love.” Long before passion had been torn out of the Time Lords by Rassilon.”
The blue watch pendant was one of Olivia’s prized possessions and it seemed fitting to wear it to a lecture about Doctor Who. Being the shameless geek she was, she had taught herself Gallifreyan back in her college days, even taking her class notes in the language just to better understand it. Her roommate had been a Trekkie, so she’d taught her Gallifreyan while her roommate taught her Klingon. Olivia had considered it a fair trade.
She heard a knock on the door and she tied her scarf, ready and looking for a night of adventure. She opened the door and saw Nora impatiently tapping her foot. “Stargazing again, Olivia?”
“No, of course not!” she denied, crossing her fingers behind her back. “Well, c’mon, Allon-sy!”
Nora rolled her eyes, shaking her head. “Way too much like Ten.”
Olivia insisted they arrive at Hayden Observatory one hour early. Nora said she was being too much of a worrier. “I’ve already spoken to his staff. We have a front table.”
“Wow, I’m impressed,” Olivia smiled in admiration shaking her head. “Front row tables at the dinner were $125.00. I bought two tickets for the cheap seats.”
“It’s a belated birthday gift,” Nora motioned to the table covered in a deep cranberry linen table cloth with cranberry linen napkins folded into an artful stand-up design. Next to it was a blue box tied with a silver ribbon. “It’s not every day that you turn twenty-nine, so I wanted to get you a little something.”
“You didn’t need to do any of this,” Olivia’s eyes widened slightly.
“This is what friends do,” Nora sat down. “we laugh, we cry, grieve and celebrate.”
“I don’t know what to say," Olivia felt the air stolen from her lungs. A slow smile crossed her full lips. “Thanks.”
After the Doctor completed the lecture, Olivia did the appropriate thing to support the author and bought a hardback copy of his book. She noticed the vast majority of the attendees were women ranging from college age to well into middle age. She was glad that she wore flat boots because she knew a long wait in line was hellish in heels. Yet, Nora did it like she was born wearing stilettos.
Ninety minutes later, she and Nora finally stood in front of the author’s table.
“Nora, blimey!” The Doctor rose out of his chair, reaching over the table to hug his little sister. “I thought you found my lectures more boring than dry toast.”
“I do,” she cast him a skeptical glance. She turned to the Librarian behind her. “but, she doesn’t Chris, this is her.”
“Your Plus One?”
“One of my best mates this side of the pond,” Nora replied.
Olivia inwardly beamed but felt more comfortable playing with the tassels of her red scarf.
“We met at work,” Nora explained. “Bit of shy one, this one.”
“Nora,” Olivia growled in a low warning tone. “Please, don’t.”
“Hi, I’m Chris Noble,” she heard that Northern Burr ripple through her and it made her shiver the same way the same night when she had read his book. Olivia bit her lip to stifle a sigh. He looked and sounded like the Ninth Doctor right down to stormy blue eyes and timbre of his voice.
Olivia studied Nora's brother, giving him close scrutiny. He looked every bit the good soldier with his combat boots, burgundy vee-neck sweater and closely-shorn hair. He had a high brow, aquiline nose and cheekbones sharp enough to cut glass. Olivia looked into his grayish-blue eyes that reminded her of dark storm clouds. She didn't try hiding her smile when she distressed black leather coat tossed over the back of a chair behind the author’s table. It wasn’t a U-Boat captain’s coat, but it was a similar style. It was obvious that Chris Noble was a doppelganger of the actor who played the Ninth Doctor, but she had trouble processing the fact.
She looked down at his extended hand, seeing it was large and callused. His hands were covered in light, short scars resulting from working on engines or a TARDIS. Olivia gawked at Nora's brother for several seconds, unable to blink.
Olivia felt a hand gently shaking her shoulder. "Ollie, are you all right? Ollie?"
Olivia stared at Chris Noble, cocking her head to the side in confusion. Looking at him, she closed her eyes and hear four rapid heartbeats. She processed his introduction, how he pronounced his vowels and consonants. Her eyes widened as disbelief washed over her.
“Olivia Brasseaux. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I truly enjoyed your book."
“Pleasure is mine,” Chris’ voice dropped an octave. "Nora has told me a lot about you."
"Do I get a chance to defend myself?" Olivia didn't want to stand there gaping at Chris Noble as if he had a third eye in the middle of his forehead.
Olivia felt the coolness of his skin against hers, almost icy to the touch and she inhaled those same spices that she had smelled the previous night.
The first notes that she recognized were hints of pepper followed by the fiery richness of tobacco and tanned leather. The sweet flavor of saffron touched her taste buds along with light, sweet flavors of cherry and almond. She inhaled slowly, recognizing each layer of aroma as breathed in the masculine spice. She tasted the sweet lemon zest of bergamot, the rosy undercurrent pink pepper, notes of cinnamon, vetiver which reminded her of lemongrass and red pepper. Olivia thought she caught a whiff of pine, but she was entranced.
Olivia felt a sharp twinge along the inside of her wrist. Jerking her hand out of Chris's grasp, she cradled it in her other hand. Looking down at her wrist, she saw a thin red line run straight across it. "What the Hell?"
“Olivia,” a distant voice called to her, unfamiliar and male. “Olivia, are you all right?”
“Huh?” she shook her head, tamping down on the mind drift. “I'm okay, but I think your brother shocked me.”
"Shocked you?" Chris shook his head, not understanding.
"You have an electric personality," Olivia held out her wrist. "You've effectively branded me."
Chis took her hand in his, carefully examining where the red line marked her wrist. The mark, red and swollen, looked similar to a new tattoo. "Probably a nasty bout of static electricity."
Then, Olivia saw that he had a matching red mark on his wrist, but the mark ran through several concentric linked circles. She looked at the mark, leaning closer to study it before looking up at Chris. "Who knows? By the way, I love your tattoo. You really must be a Whovian to get one in Low Circular Gallifreyan."
“Are you okay?” Nora asked quietly.
Olivia quickly removed her hand from Chris’s grasp and nodded slowly. “Peachy with a side of keen considering I just got electrocuted.”
“Oi!” Chris replied. He looked at Nora, tapping the side of his nose and she nodded silently.
“Hey, it's not every day that I see a tattoo in Low Circular Gallifreyan,” Olivia gave Chris her best smile. “You must really be a fan if you have a tattoo. You're braver than I am.”
"And I bet she can translate it, too," Nora's eyes sparkled as her grin grew bigger. "Okay, Brain Girl, what does his tattoo say?"
"Nora, I'm a Librarian, not a Time Lord," Olivia scoffed. "There are about three or four different versions of Circular Gallifreyan floating around designed by fans and a version or two that are of unknown origin. How am I supposed to know?
"Oh, c'mon, Ollie! Give it a go," Nora encouraged her. "What does it say?"
"Don't be putting her on the spot-" Chris started.
"Always," Olivia answered. "It says, 'always.'"
"Where did you learn to ready Circular Gallifreyan?" he asked.
"My roommate was a Trekkie and I'm a Whovian," Olivia shrugged. "To pass the time when we were too broke to go see a movie and we needed cheap entertainment, she'd teach me Klingon and I'd teach her Gallifreyan. She could recite Shakespeare and I started an Old Testament translation in Gallifreyan because it beat watching the crap on TV in the Residence Hall Lounge."
"I can't wait to see what you're like when you're serious about researching something," Chris said with a bit of awe in his voice.
"Oh," Olivia winked. "You've no idea."
Olivia shook her head as Chris suddenly turned into two of him. Queasiness followed and then lightheadedness made her lose her balance and stumble.
"Ollie, what's wrong?"
Nora grabbed her shoulders to steady her.
"Suddenly, I don't feel so well," Olivia murmured, hot flashes coming in alternating waves. "I think I need to sit down. Hot flashes and I don't mix."
Her feet crumble beneath her. Before she hit the ground, two strong arms scooped her up bridal style. "Don't you worry none. Best Doctor in the house, me. Let's get you sat down.
“Ollie is seven weeks pregnant and she gets hot spells from time to time.” she explained. Nora returned her attention to Olivia, steadying her by wrapping an arm around her waist. “Easy now. Just sit. “
Chris poured a glass of water and set it on the table. “Here, drink this.”
Olivia gave a wave of her hand. “I’m fine, just lightheaded. No big thing. I’m just not getting enough electrolytes.”
"You need to eat more bananas," Chris chimed.
Olivia rose to her feet when she felt two large hands gently push her back into the chair. “Good source of potassium and let me guess. I bet you don’t like pears.”
“Hate them,” he gave her a goofy grin, kneeling down in front of her. “May I see your hand?”
“I’d rather not,” she folded them firmly in her lap. “I’m not really the touchy-feely type of person.”
“I give a great hand massage,” he beamed another silly smile at her.
“You do not want to know how that sounded just now,” Olivia had a hard time not laughing.
“Oi!” he looked at her in shock. “Innocent as the driven snow, me.”
"Before or after someone drove through it,” she smirked. Olivia wanted to know more about Nora’s older brother. He was handsome, thoughtful and a bit playful. He was also an unabashed flirt.
"You're a feisty one. You've got a bit of a gob on you."
“I'm awesome like that,” she assured him and Nora. “I think it's best if I go home. My body tells me when enough is enough. It’s been a late night and I'm about to turn into a pumpkin.”
“It’s not even ten o'clock,” Nora looked at her watch.
“All fun and no sleep makes for a grumpy librarian,” Olivia reminded her friend.
“You didn’t open your gift,” Chris nodded toward the table. Reaching past her, he grabbed the box and held it out to her. “Happy Birthday, Olivia Brasseaux.”
Her brows furrowed in question, silent questioning. She had forgotten about the lovely blue box with the silver ribbon sitting on the table. Holding it in his large hands, Chris held it in front of her. She put her hands on the box, her fingers brushing his. "How did you know?"
A thousand pictures flashed through her mind. Olivia saw a man with blue-green eyes, wavy black hair in a Belstaff coat who used a sonic screwdriver to clear her driveway of snow. She saw deep brown eyes gazing into hers. She remembered bright green eyes alight with enthusiasm belonging to a young man dressed in a blue waistcoat and frock coat. She saw light blue eyes looking at her, still holding the box.
“Like I said, Nora said great things about you,” he nodded at the box. "Open it."
“Okay.” Olivia slowly lifted the lid off the box, feeling gleeful anticipation bubbling inside here. Inside was a silver key on a long, slender silver chain and a copy of his book.
“The book is from Nora and the key is from me,” Chris explained as Olivia lifted the key out of the box. It gleamed in the light as it swayed on the chain.
She held it up to see it better, examining the key. The shape and feel were familiar. Olivia had seen them at conventions and had never bought one, but it looked different than the others she had seen. She felt the metal vibrate and it felt warm to her hand, almost alive. “This is a Tardis key. Ninth Doctor design. It's beautiful.”
“Yes, it is.”
“Is it . . .” she heard a familiar sound. Holding the key to her ear, she gasped. “humming?”
“Might be,” he whispered.
Olivia felt the key’s warmth thrum in time with the line throbbing on her wrist. Then, she slowly removed the book from the box. Opening the inside cover, she saw Chris’ signature written boldly in black marker.
“Nora said she wanted a copy of my book for a friend, but she didn't tell me it was you. She said it was for a friend. Taking the book from her, he pulled out the marker and wrote in it. Handing it back to her, Olivia read the words written. “Olivia, I'm so glad that I've met you. Always, Christopher. Always love and always hope.”
As the Doctor knelt in front of her, he watched her with a growing intensity he didn’t see. She didn’t see him inhaling in her scent, filling his senses with eyes closed. Had she glanced at his hands, she would have seen the edges of similar markings like hers, fresh and swollen on his inner wrist. If Olivia had looked down, she would’ve seen the concentric circles forming on her wrist glowing eerily with hints of red, green and blue.
“Such beautiful words,” she murmured. Then, a hot metallic taste filled her mouth. “Bathroom. Quick. I’m going to be sick.”
“This way,” Chris took her by the hand, leading her to the Ladies’ Room. Olivia had barely rushed to the door and fell to her knees in front of one of the toilets when that night’s dinner came back to haunt her. She felt cool, callused hands hold back her long black fishtail braid.
Ten minutes and several eruptions later, she rested her flushed cheek against the cool metal of the bathroom stall. Chris helped Olivia to her feet and walked slowly to the sink. She turned on the tap, taking a handful of cool water into her mouth and swishing it around to get rid of the sour taste left on her tongue.
“Easy,” Nora scolded her. “Don’t drink too much too quickly.”
She shooed them away, telling them to wait outside and that she’d join them shortly. Looking at her flushed reflection, she thought herself a sight with streaks of mascara and eyeliner running down her cheeks. Olivia set to work wiping away the streaks, reapplying some concealer and powder and touching up her lipstick.
Knowing her breath smelled dreadful, she popped into her mouth the after-dinner mint that she’d saved from that night’s meal. Putting on her best smile, she straightened her sweater, slathered hand sanitizer on her hands and walked out of the bathroom with head held high. There, she saw Nora and Chris hovering outside the Ladies’ Room entrance.
“How do you feel?” Nora asked, making no attempt to hide her concern.
Olivia’s sarcasm was followed by two thumbs up. “Fantastic, absolutely fantastic.”
She saw Nora turn, her eyes gleaming with anger as she spoke to Chris in a language that sounded vaguely familiar, certainly not English? Gaelic?
“Thanks for your help, both of you,” Olivia glanced at the siblings. “I probably need to slow down my much too exciting life. Time for me to head home.”
“You’ll do nothing of the sort,” Christopher pointed to the chair. “Don’t go wandering off. Sit.”
“I'm not exacting running at top capacity,” Olivia admitted. “I’m pregnant, not drunk. I’m quite fine to drive.”
“I have a better idea,” Chris said with a goofy smile on his face. “Let Nora drive you home and I’ll follow behind and then take her home. You need to rest.”
“I’m fine.” Olivia was tired and wanted to go home. “I can make it home just fine. If you want to catch a ride with Chris, I understand.”
“I’ll do no such thing,” Nora quickly grabbed the keys out of Olivia’s hand. “You need to rest and I’ll do the driving.”
“Hello, are you the one making the payments on my SUV?” Olivia stood akimbo, looming over Nora. “Unless you’re God or sign my paycheck, you don’t get the right to be my boss.”
“Sit, both of you and quit your arguing,” Chris commanded. Nora defiantly remained standing while Olivia swayed a little on her feet, trying to ignore the queasiness in her stomach.
Olivia snapped. “Is your entire family full of control freaks?”
“Yes,” the siblings said in unison, glancing at one another.
She snatched the keys out of Nora’s hand and headed for the door. “Chris, I enjoyed your book and your lecture. Nora, I’ll see you tomorrow at work. I’ll leave you two to get over yourselves. Good night.”
She left the Observatory without a backward glance.
“Olivia,” Chris called after her, running to catch up with her. “Wait.”
She saw Nora right behind him. She looked at them, wondering what had transpired. He inhaled deeply and slowly. His gaze was intense, full of an emotion she couldn’t name. Chris’s blue eyes gleamed in the moonlight, suspiciously bright. “Olivia, I’m sorry, so, so sorry. Nora and I forget that we can’t be to other people the way we are to each other. She wants you to be safe and I don’t want to be an arse. We don’t want you to get upset because it will put stress on you and the baby. Would you let me drive you home?”
His remorse was palpable. The smell of regret permeated the air, thick and sweet between them, reminding Olivia of Hyacinths. Black fumes wafted around him, smelling of earth and rain. He hid his worry behind a wall of anger; broken, lonely anger. Loss. Heartbreak. Olivia shook her head to dispel the onslaught of synesthesia taking over her senses.
Olivia looked at him for a long moment. There was a connection between them and she felt it. From the moment that Nora introduced them to when their fingers brushed, she knew Christopher Noble was intriguing. Yet, she just read him better than she had read anyone in months. He had a sarcastic sense of humor and Olivia loved it. She decided she wanted to get to know Chris Noble much better. He was a risk worth taking..
“I know both of you mean well,” Olivia chose her words carefully. “However, I am in charge of my own life and answer to no one but God and the IRS. Yes, I'd love a ride home as long as Nora doesn't wreck my SUV.”
The siblings chuckled at her unexpected dash of humor, but the message was well received. Don’t mess with a pregnant Librarian.
“Fantastic! Noted and point taken. ” Chris conceded. “I’d like to get to know you better if you’ll let me. Fresh start? Anyone who can inspire my sister’s protective streak is worth getting to know.”
Olivia’s brows rose in silent question when she looked over Chris’ shoulder at Nora. In return, Nora mouthed the words, “HE LIKES YOU. GO WITH IT.”
Chris looked right at Nora. "Shush, you."
“I’m stubborn, but not stupid. I know you had only the best intentions at heart regarding my welfare. Let’s start over?”
"Fine by me," Chris beamed.
Olivia placed her smaller hand in his, feeling the callus rub against her palm. This time, his grasp was cool and refreshing. This time, she experienced a burst of excitement coming from him, half disbelief and the other half delight. Nora knew she was perfectly fine, but was pushing the safety factor with her shrewd planning. “Chris, I truly enjoyed your book. It was articulate and well-researched.”
“Thank you,” Chris replied. Even though it was night, Olivia thought she saw the tips of his ears turn red. “I’m glad that you enjoyed it.”
“Thank you,” she gave him a small smile. “I appreciate the ride. I know your time is important.”
“Please, take up my time!” Chris’ enthusiasm was obvious. Olivia fought to keep a straight face as Nora stood behind her brother, rolling her eyes and shaking her head.
“I mean, I’m glad that we could get a second chance to get things right,” Chris explained. "Nice meeting you for the first time again."
He glanced over his shoulder at his sister and mouthed the words, “Thank you."
To Be Continued . . .
Chapter 3: I Just Haven't Met You Yet
Time Lords are the most ancient, advanced civilization in the universe with a billion years of greatness to show for it except for just one thing: A particular Time Lord has no idea how to court a shy Librarian. Thank Rassilon that DoctorDonna is in the house.
Olivia didn’t need to be conscious to know that she was aboard the TARDIS. Caught between the worlds of wakefulness and dreams, she tried engaging the healing coma that he had told her about before he died. She couldn’t reach out to him because she needed every bit of her regenerative energy to heal for the sake of their unborn child. She felt the darkness coming, seeping into her mind as heat left her body. She had died before and had seen her parents, but this time she had a reason to stay. Her child needed to live.
She remembered how the winds of the void howled, pulling her husband from her into the darkness as death tried to claim him. Since when was the veil between death and life like being in outer space? She wrapped her thoughts around him, a barrage of wind and fire, will and time, barraging the void with her light and life to keep it at bay. The Doctor’s grip on life slipping, ebbing away, as death crept upon them. She saw the Nothing as she held Jules fast, refusing to let him go.
“You have to let me go, Re’Hallion,” he whispered in her ear, his voice audible above the roaring winds. “You have to live for both of us now.”
“No,” she screamed, shaking her head with adamant denial. “You are not going to die on me, Jules. No!”
“You’ll die if you don’t let me go.”
“Then, wherever we go, we go together,” Tears streamed down her face. “I’ve died more than once, you know. It’s not supposed to be this way. There isn’t a howling or a void. There is always someone waiting for me on the other side.”
“Olivia,” he cupped her cheek as her hold tightened around the Doctor. “Oh, my Olivia! No one can help me. A fixed point has been established. The aperture between the universes is closing. There is no one on the other side waiting for me. I always knew that I would die alone. Our bond is disintegrating. You have to let go.”
“Then, we go together,” she wept, pressing her brow to his. “We’ve got this.”
“She’s going into dual cardiac arrest,” a voice yelled. It was a distant voice that had a distinctive Northern lilt to it.
“My Darling Girl,” Jules pressed a kiss to her brow. “Listen to me, please. There’s not much time. I love you. I. Will. Always. Love. You. You have to live. Not just for me or for you, but for our child.”
Olivia sobbed, tears falling freely down her face.
“Tell Ian, thank you, for the time he stole for us. I am forever in debt and I remember everything. All the times his heart broke and all of the joys I remember having more time with you.”
“You said our love would last eons,” she whispered. “You promised.”
“And it will, Luv,” he kissed her nose. “Know that I am better for loving you and you were worth the wait. Two thousand years I waited and it was worth everything. You have to take care of them now: our child, Rue and the Tardis. They need you. Be there for them, for me. Promise.”
Olivia felt her grip loosen slightly as the pull of the void became stronger. “Let them love you. Olivia, and love them in return. Take care of each other. Be brave. Live. Love enough for the both of us, My Darling Girl, my Re’Hallion. I love you.”
Olivia felt the break, the snap, the pain of Jules being ripped from her mind. She screamed as she reached to him, willing her body to follow, but something held her in place. "Let me go! I have to go with him.”
“No,” a firm voice stated. She looked over her shoulder to see her mother holding her back. “It isn’t your time.”
Olivia reached out, watching as her mate disappeared into the void. She saw a brilliant flash of light and the strong presence of a dark-haired man blocking the Doctor's path. She saw him catch the Doctor before he vanished from sight. Looking over the other man’s shoulder, the Doctor gave her a sad smile before they vanished. Olivia threw her head back and wailed, the mourning cry of a banshee as it broke the barriers of time and space. “Your father caught him, Olivia.”
Olivia looked wide-eyed at the hazel-eyed young woman with coal-black hair. She couldn’t have been more than thirty, but Olivia stared back at that familiar face that mirrored her own. “Mom?”
“Yes, getting your butt out of trouble, again,” giving her a knowing smile. “Now, let go. Live much, love much, laugh much. You promised him.”
“I have a message from him,” her mother smiled. “The Doctor said you’d know what this meant.”
“Message?” Olivia wept, her eyes wild with confusion. “What?”
Olivia awoke with a start. The last face she saw was Christopher Noble as he worked furiously to get her hearts beating again. “That is the last time I eat Macaroni with barbecue sauce. Too many weird dreams.”
Christopher Noble. He had been in a lot of her dreams lately. Sitting in bed, she fingered the unusually warm key that dangled from her neck on a delicate silver chain. She heard her phone give notification of a text. It'd only been two nights since Chris had driven her home, but they'd been texting back and forth, just making small talk. Looking at his latest text, it inspired a smile and a happy sigh.
“Olivia, I’d love to see you again, Darling Girl. Would you like to get together for a cuppa?” Olivia heard the words murmured in his voice as if he were standing behind her, whispering them in a low voice in her ear.
Olivia pursed her lips in contemplation. She had been taken by him the moment she first saw his book and that sentiment had grown after meeting him. She took a deep breath to gather her courage and reached for her phone before she came to her senses and changed her mind. It was Saturday morning and at half-past eight a.m. She dialed the number, always preferring the direct approach.
Olivia let go. She sank into the sweet, welcoming blackness of dreams. Odd ones, fantastic ones, filled her mind as she lay in the med bay of the TARDIS. The Doctor in Leather piloted the brokenhearted TARDIS through the last small sliver of aperture before it closed. He had seen and felt it all, every nuance of Eighteenth Doctor’s bond with his wife fading as life left him, his choosing not to regenerate. As she had held him, he knew that she had been fatally injured and the destruction of their psychic bond would kill her.
The Nineteenth Doctor knew that the one called Jules had filled Olivia with the last of his regeneration energy to make her strong enough to survive the trauma of the psychic break when he died. On Hogwarts’ bridge not long before, he had shared every memory of their love with the Nineteenth Doctor. Foxfire had altered every timeline for each Doctor after the fixed events happened.
Ten had Rose. Eleven had River. Clara had Danny Pink. DoctorDonna's memories were restored when Wilt passed away. She had lived out her life with her husband and came forward in time when he passed. Clara was restored to life after her last heartbeat when Foxfire had asked the Quantum Shades of Hogwarts to restore her life in Clara’s original universe. Bill had chosen to remain a water-based entity and travel the universe with Heather.
Now, Nine/ Nineteen sat in the med bay beside the fourth Librarian who barely clung to life, deeply immersed in a healing coma. His mind was so inverted that nothing registered when he scanned her with his sonic screwdriver. The Tardis had last her connection with reality with the loss of her pilot and her daughter, collapsing psychically upon herself, nothing more than a shell. He piloted the transdimensional shell of a time ship to New Savannah and found Sister Nominae, begging her for one more boon to save his beloved wife and his precious ship.
She did for a price.
It had taken decades for her to regenerate Olivia’s neural pathways permanently damaged during the psychic break when Jules had died. She and her unborn child remained in stasis while Nominae labored endlessly to repair the harm done by the Doctor’s death and the scarring caused by her past injuries. Forty-eight years and nine months later, she proclaimed her work on Olivia a success. There was only one setback. Olivia’s memories of her time with the Doctor had been lost and were irretrievable. There was no bond between her and Nineteen. With the work Nominae did to save two lives, it was as if the bond had never been.
The Doctor wept bittersweet tears of losing the woman he had known and getting her back along with her child. Donna uniquely understood from both perspectives being the one with lost memories and feeling the Doctor’s hearts break.
“You don’t give up, Space Romeo,” she said one day, poking him in the chest. “Never give up, never give in.”
“Nah,” Donna gave a dismissive wave. “She’s just on vacation. If you don’t have what you lost, then you start over.”
“How?” His eyes appeared bright blue as they were red from crying.
“From the beginning," Donna laid a hand on her brother's shoulder. “Court her, woo her, ask her out. You never heard of dating?”
“Time Lords don’t date,” he grumbled.
Donna pointed a thumb in Olivia’s direction. “But, humans do and Olivia is still mostly human. So, do what humans do. Ask her out.”
“Might have already,” he mumbled.
“That’s very human and I’m going to show you how to get her to say yes. Did I ever tell you that I'm often considered the best matchmaker in Chiswick?”
“Yeah, might have once or twice,” Chris grumbled, not daring to acknowledge that small flicker of something inside his mind. He called it hope. “There's never been a human Time Lord Metacrisis before and now I know why.”
“Because no one had never tried to figure out how to make it stick?” Donna asked.
“No,” Chris gave her a look of mock disdain. “It’s because once you start talking, you never stop.”
“Oi!” Donna stood akimbo before punching the Time Lord soundly in the arm. “Watch it, Cowboy.”
“Watch it, Cupid,” they playfully glared at each other.
“You need a wing gal, anyway,” Donna scoffed. “Not like you can get a girl on your own. You don’t know your knob from your arse.”
“Hey, doing all right, me,” Chris crossed his arms, staring hard at the ginger Time Lady glowering back at him.
“Somebody has to make sure that you don’t muck up things. Between me and Nora, we’ll get you where you need to be.”
Christopher glanced upward to the ceiling. “Rassilon, help me.”
“We’re stuck here now. The walls of the universe have closed and we can’t get back. All we have is this little blue marble floating in the middle of the universe. It's dimensional retroclosure. Look, I told you and I was right. Her body is soaking up her native universe’s artron energy and she’s healing. “
“So, what’s the next move, Stud Muffin?” Donna asked as she poured Chris a cuppa at the kitchen table.
“Nora’s working at the Library and Rue is her roommate.” Chris took the cup from her, putting in two sugars and cream. “Even if she doesn’t want me, I know that she’ll be safe and she and the baby will be looked after.”
“That’s it?” The redhead turned around, her brows raised in question. “When are you going to meet her?”
“I already have,” he mumbled, absently stirring his spoon in his tea. “She had a bout of morning sickness.”
“Did she ruin your boots?” Donna smirked.
“No, I held her hair back,” Chris laid down the spoon, hiding his defeat behind a sip of tea.
“No, you got it right,” she grinned. “Brilliant! You were her knight in shining leather. Ooh, you might have a brain in that big head of yours after all. Now, what?”
“I wrote my number in the book I signed and gave her a key to the TARDIS. She didn’t do anything.”
“Well, what do you expect? She doesn’t know you from Adam,” Donna slapped him lightly on the back of the head. “You have to ask her out. You can’t go back now.”
“How? I can’t just show up on her porch saying, ‘Hello, I’m the Doctor.’”
“God, I hope not. You have to court her?”
“She’s not the same woman, Donna,” there was a sad look in Chris’s eyes. “Her fire. It’s just . . . gone.”
“She’s in there, I promise. You just have to remind her who she is,” Donna sat down across from her best mate. “So, tell me? Can you love this Olivia now that she’s regenerated?”
“She is quiet, shy, timid. Not at all the woman I knew.”
“And she doesn’t know you from Adam,” Donna reminded him. “Get to know her, don’t judge a librarian by the cover of the book she’s reading.”< /p>
“You need her. Otherwise, you’ll waste away until you’re some skinny pretty boy.”
“Oi!” Chris barked. “She looked right through me.”
“But, it’s better than that. Don’t you see what the other Doctors gave you? Come on, one broke the laws of time to keep her alive for you and the other gave his life and memories to you. Same memories, same thoughts, same everything. Same DNA. She gave you a body. Foxfire knew what she was doing.”
“Your forevers match. You both have clean slates. Someday, you can let her know that you’re Jules, but she has to get to know Christopher first. If you want to spend your life with Olivia, you’ve got to let her know.”
“When she held him. . . the other you in her arms on the last day of your life, what was the last thing you said to her? Come on, Big Ears, say it.”
“I said, ‘Be brave. Live. Love enough for the both of us, My Darling Girl, my Re’Hallion. I love you.”
“And where is it going to go from there?” Donna pressed. She picked up the cell phone lying beside his tea mug. “Call her and ask her out.”
“What do I say?”
“Hello is a good start,” Donna smirked.
The phone rang and the number was unknown. Chris thought about pushing the decline button because it was probably a telemarketer. Donna looked over his shoulder. “That’s Olivia. I recognize the number from her medical file.”
He stared at the phone. It rang twice, three times.
Fuck it. He hit the accept key. “Hello?”
“Hi, er, Chris?” a familiar feminine voice greeted him on the other end of the conversation.
“Yes,” he paused, inhaling deeply, slowly, purposely. “Olivia, hi!”
“I was wondering how you were doing,” she started, not knowing what to say next.
“Fine, me. Always fine,” he looked at Donna who gave him a big grin and two thumbs up.
“Hey, I saw your note inside the book,” Olivia started.
“What are you doing this morning?” Christopher asked at the same time.
“Sorry, go ahead-” she stopped.
“No, you first,” he responded.
“I was wondering if you’d like,” Olivia desperately searched her mind for what to say next. Her stomach growled. “Are you hungry?”
“Famished,” he answered, taking another sip of his tea.
“Would you like to get together this morning for breakfast?” Olivia looked skyward, thanking the God she believed in for the divine inspiration. “I know this little pub called the Rose and Crown here in Lincoln that serves a genuine English Breakfast. I know it’s short notice, but if you’re hungry, I’m buying.”
“Oh. My. God.” Donna mouthed. “Do it!”
“Love to, absolutely love to,” he cradled his mobile a bit closer to his face, turning away from Donna for a bit of privacy. “10 o’clock? Fantastic. I’ll pick you up at 9:45.”
To Be Continued . . .