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The Thick of UNIT

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It was a rather peaceful day in early Spring. The sun warmed everything the brisk air couldn’t and it truly felt like better weather was within one’s grasp. It made the day perfect, Kate thought, in regards to Clara coming over to visit, the schoolteacher finally getting a day where she could make the journey all the way out. She made the trip on her motorbike, taking a leisurely drive until she pulled up to the Stewart-Tucker residence, where Kate and Malcolm were waiting to greet her.

“Where is the little guy?” she wondered as she stepped into the house. “Napping, I take it?”

“How did you guess?” Kate chuckled. “I figured it would be good for the three of us to visit without much distraction first. He can get to be a handful if he gets restless.”

“As expected,” Clara replied. She followed Kate and Malcolm into the sitting room, where tea was already waiting. “I’ve never seen good things happen when his father gets like that.” She sat on the couch quietly, suddenly becoming introspective. “I still haven’t told him.”

“When you’re good and ready,” Malcolm assured. “We don’t care how long it takes, just you make sure that you’re telling him on your terms, and we’ll take care of things until then.”

“You don’t know how thankful I am towards the two of you…”

“We’re Lethbridge-Fucking-Stewarts—it’s our duty to keep the Doctor’s secrets,” Malcolm scoffed.

“He’s just being nice because he knows he’s wrapped around the boy’s finger,” Kate said. Her husband sank into his chair and grumbled unintelligibly—he was caught. “It’s my older children and our niece that are really being troopers, considering they’re not the ones who signed up for a baby wandering around here. This whole situation has been a lesson in children that I’m certain they’re not taking lightly.”

“Sounds like some of my students with younger siblings,” Clara replied. She couldn’t help but crack a smile at that, the image well worth it. “Otherwise he’s doing well?”

“Just as well as any other child,” Kate assured. “He’s such a good influence to have around—our family couldn’t have taken to him better.”

“Good… I’m so glad to hear that.”

“What about you and the Doctor?” Kate wondered. “How are the two of you doing?”

“Same old, same old, you know,” she shrugged. “We wander around time and space, saving the day, sometimes just barely saving ourselves, and the thrill is beyond compare. There have even been times I’ve almost forgotten what I’ve left behind… and it’s scary.”

“You never really forget,” Kate reminded her. “It won’t matter how big he gets or how long it’s been since you’ve seen him, but you will never stop thinking about your child, even once they’re grown.”

As though on cue, Conall’s wail began to filter through the house, catching the adults’ attention. Malcolm took it as his opportunity to leave the conversation, as he quickly put down his cuppa and jumped up from his chair, making for the stairs.

“I got ‘im,” he announced for good measure. “You ladies just stay there and gossip.” He then left and Kate and Clara were alone.

“I can barely believe that five months has passed,” Clara said soon as Malcolm was out of earshot. She stared down at her tea and frowned. “I’m actually surprised that I haven’t accidentally blown our cover.”

“It’s alright,” Kate said. “If it’s any consolation, Conall fits in perfectly. Very few people give his existence a second thought, and the main person that has… well… she’s a former investigative journalist, so it’s in her nature to be suspicious of everything.”

“Oh…? Who’s that…?”

“Malcolm’s mum.” Kate rolled her eyes and shook her head. “Just think about what sort of woman you need in order to have raised him on her own and that’s about it. You missed the two of them butting heads almost all of Christmas.”

“Oh no…” Clara laughed weakly. “What was it about?”

“Stupid stuff—it’s the Tucker blood, I think. Malcolm might’ve said we’re Lethbridge-Stewarts, but I’m the only one who is; just because he’s attached now doesn’t mean he was thrilled at the prospect in the beginning.”

“I know… but it still makes me feel better about the entire thing to hear him say that.” She took another sip of her tea and nodded. “Malcolm’s done pretty well for being livid that he was cleaning up the Doctor’s ‘messes’, hasn’t he?”

“More than you realize.” It was then that Malcolm reappeared, Conall sitting firmly against his left arm. “Ah, there you are. A nappy change was in order, I take it?”

“Just some piss, nothing more,” he replied. Malcolm and Kate then took notice of Conall and Clara, seeing how the two were staring at one another. Their eyes were seemingly inflating, the resemblance between them shockingly apparent even for but a moment.

“Oh… my baby…” Clara whispered. She put her tea down on the table and allowed Malcolm to approach. He placed Conall down on Clara’s lap, making sure he was steady before letting go.

“Do you know who this is?” Malcolm asked. Kate backhanded his leg, though it didn’t faze him.

“Muh,” Conall said, pointing at Clara. He then pointed at Kate, saying, “Mah.”

“Very good, lad,” Malcolm beamed. He then went back to his own tea and watched as mother and son were getting reacquainted with each other.

“Muh…?” Conall wondered, tilting his head to the side. He saw that Clara was beginning to cry and was terribly confused by it. He crawled up her and put his chubby hands on her face, bracing himself as he left an open-mouthed kiss on the tip of her nose. “Muh?”

“Yes, Mummy’s just glad to see you, sweetie,” Clara said. “These are happy tears. I’m so glad to see how big you’ve gotten.”

“Muh! Muh, muh!” Conall pointed towards the corner where his toys were sitting, prompting Clara to set him on the floor. He then used the table to prop himself up as he took some steps, only getting a few wobbly ones on his own in before he fell on his bottom and gave up, crawling the rest of the way instead.

“Oh my God, he’s walking,” Clara marveled.

“Not quite,” Kate corrected. “I’d give it a few days of practice and he’ll be fully walking about.”

“Walking?” Malcolm snorted. “Lad’s gonna be fucking running if what I’ve seen holds true.”

“It would be more appropriate for the Doctor’s son,” Clara agreed. She then bent to pick up Conall again, the boy having come over with a toy penguin in-hand. “You still have your penguin! Mummy remembers him too! You’re such a clever boy.”

“Muh!” Conall cheered. He snuggled into Clara’s chest, only to realize that there were biscuits on the table. Opening and closing his hands, he pouted in protest, wanting some of the baked goods himself.

“Here you are,” Clara smirked. She gave Conall a biscuit and watched as he stuffed it in his mouth, quickly making it an oozing mess of sugar and saliva. “Oh, he’s definitely got making a mess down pat, doesn’t he?”

“We were planning on having spaghetti tonight, if you care to join us,” Kate offered.

“That sounds lovely,” Clara cooed. She squeezed Conall gently and kissed the top of his head. “We’re going to have plenty of fun tonight, aren’t we sweetie?”

“Muh,” Conall said through his biscuit. Clara fawned over the boy as she cleaned his face, seemingly not missing a beat since she last saw and cared for him.

“You know,” Kate decided, “it’s such a nice day that we could sit outside on the patio for a while. How would you like some fresh air, Clara?”

“That would be great, actually,” she admitted. She stood, carrying Conall as they all went outdoors. “I can barely get enough of the outdoors right now—you can imagine why.”

“I don’t need to imagine,” Kate chuckled. She watched as Clara knelt down in the grass and placed Conall in it, the lad laying down for a moment on the cool surface before scooting a few feet forward to pick at a flower.

“He’s very curious,” Malcolm explained. “Can barely get him to sit still for long, and if so it’s just because we’ve trained him well when it comes to when we have to work.”

“You’re working from home now?”

“Taking turns, anyhow,” he shrugged. “Our positions let us, so we might as well. I get one or two days, Kate gets one or two, and then Fiona watches him when neither of us are home. It works for the time being.”

“Sounds lovely,” Clara smiled.  She saw as Conall plucked another flower growing in the lawn, shoving that particular one in his mouth. “Gross! You silly thing!”

“Muh!” Conall said, holding up the remnants of the flower.

“Oh… not again…” Kate sighed. She went to Conall and took the flower from his mouth. “We told you this is icky.”

“Mah!” Conall grinned, his few front teeth gleaming. He went to put the remainder of the flower in his mouth only for Kate to take it away again—no fun at all.

Alas, the wholesome times were not allowed to fucking last, as it was just then that Gordon’s car pulled into the driveway, pulling the adults’ attention away from Conall as they stood to see what was going on. A weight dropped in Kate and Malcolm’s stomachs both—what the fuck…?

“I thought you said that no one was coming over today,” Clara said.

“We thought so too,” Kate replied. She picked up Conall from the grass and held him close. “My son was supposed to have his fiancée’s parents over so that he could meet them, but it doesn’t seem like they waited to wait until tomorrow to meet us.” She saw two unfamiliar faces get out of the back seat and she presumed she was looking at Mister and Missus Keng themselves. “Malcolm…?”

“Yeah, that’s them.”

Malcolm waited for the group to approach, taking note of how everyone looked. Gordon and Kanda themselves looked a mixture of embarrassment and excitement, while her parents seemed almost… cross. Well, not her father. Her mother, on the other hand…

“Lawan, good to see you again after all this time,” he said, acting as though nothing odd was happening in the slightest. When her expression did not change, he knew she was not there to play games and simply rolled with it. “You’re looking as sour as ever. May I introduce you and Somchai to my wife Kate and our son Conall? A lot’s happened since we last saw each other.”

“I know,” she scowled. She was about to continue when Gordon came between them, first giving Malcolm a hug—as he was closest—then Kate, the expression on his face becoming increasingly tipping towards elated.

“Whoa, what’s got into you?” Malcolm half-laughed, not sure about what to do with his own arms. “I thought we were mostly on handshake terms except on designated holidays.”

“We’re moving up the wedding,” Gordon beamed.

“Wait… why…?” Kate wondered. “What about September?”

“I don’t think I’ll fit in my dress by then,” Kanda admitted. She was blushing strongly, her embarrassment seemingly of the happy sort. “I’m pregnant.”

“No shit,” Malcolm grinned. “Really…?!” Kanda nodded in reply. “Well congratulations, kids! Wait… does Lex know?”

“No; I just told Gordy and my parents a couple hours ago. I was planning on telling everyone together, but it just sort of slipped out…”

“I… I get to be a gran…” Kate realized. She looked at her son, then his fiancée, and back again. Her eyes were wide as everything hit her. “Really? When are you due?”

“November,” Kanda confirmed. She waited until Kate passed Conall over to Malcolm before going in for a hug, both beginning to shed tears.

“Hold on… where’s Fiona…?” Gordon asked. “She needs to be told she gets to be the Fun Auntie sooner rather than later…”

“She’s at work,” Kate affirmed. “What about your father and his family?”

“They’re busy right now—Jonny’s school fête is today and everyone else was helping out.”

“Then have them come here after everything’s done—we can all celebrate together properly.”

“What’s this for you, Som?” Malcolm smirked at Kanda’s father. “Number five?”

“Your memory is very good,” Somchai nodded. “Each grandchild is a great blessing and our daughters have blessed us beyond measure. Lawan and I are glad to count Gordon’s child amongst them.”

“We sure about that…?” Malcolm asked, looking towards Kanda’s mother. Lawan mumbled something under her breath, unwilling to neither agree nor disagree, considering the setting.

“We are,” Somchai assured. “This will be your first, won’t it?”

Kate’s first,” Malcolm insisted. “No grandkids for me unless this monster has some before I croak.” He tickled Conall in the side, which drew a giggle from the boy. “Gordon’s a good start for her though. He won’t disappoint you.”

“I admit that I had doubts considering our Kanda kept Gordon so far from us for so long,” Somchai said, “but after seeing how his face brightened in excitement when he learned about the baby… your wife has a good son there. She raised him well, as did his father, and your bringing him and our daughter together has shown us that.”

“Thanks, Som. I appreciate it.” It was faint, but Malcolm heard Clara’s motorbike rev up and drive away—one glance confirmed that she had slipped away unnoticed, not waiting to be brought into the conversation on a false pretense and what was sure to be a few lies. “Then again, given the circumstances, it could have gone a lot worse. Could’ve been the cunt that ditched her in Aberdeenshire.”

“Don’t teach my grandchild your filthy ways,” Lawan scolded. “I want to be able to hear clean words out of their mouth, not what you’re teaching that boy in your arms. Respectable ones. I knew we’d never be able to get rid of you, and now that it’s unfortunately true, I’m not going to let you ruin things.”

“It’s a pleasure to disappoint,” Malcolm teased. He grinned cheekily at Lawan, who merely frowned in response.

“Enough bickering,” Kanda said. “We need to figure out what we’re going to do in order to move everything up—that’s why we came over! Mam and Dad are only here for a couple days and we need to use this time the best we can!”

“Yes, by all means,” Kate agreed. “Somchai, Lawan, it’s a pleasure to finally meet you, even if things are relatively late. I’m Kate Stewart and welcome to my home. Let’s go back inside where everyone can sit comfortably…”

“Go on ahead—I’ve got a call to make,” Malcolm said. He took out his mobile and waited until everyone had been ushered in the house before looking through his contacts. Hitting dial, he waited as the call went through to voice mail, clicking over automatically.

Hi, it’s Clara Oswald! Chances are I’m either teaching, in the Tube, in space, or not exactly myself right now. Long story. Please leave a message and I’ll get back to you soon as I can.”

The mobile beeped again and Malcolm wavered, knowing there was no clean way of doing this…

“Clara? It’s Malcolm. I know you’re busy driving so I’m glad you didn’t answer, but… fuck, listen, I’m sorry if any of that made you upset. Get with Kate or me and we can reschedule Messy Spaghetti Night, okay? At least text one of us. Please. Feel better.”

The voicemail cut him off and he looked first at the mobile screen, then at Conall. “She’ll be back, lad. It’s your mummy we’re talking about. Until then, you’ve got Mam and me to help you out.”

“Oh!” Conall frowned.

“Yes… Fiona too… and Gordon, and Kanda, and Lex, and Euan…” He glanced towards the house, where he could see through the large windows as Gordon and Kate attempted to get everything set as Kanda settled her parents in the sitting room, where the remnants of tea had already been hastily cleaned up. “How about if we go inside and see what’s going on? Figure out what we have to do to prepare for your niece or nephew.”

“Kah! Go!” Conall said, pointing towards the house.

“Yeah, Kanda and Gordon are going to have a baby themselves… give you a playmate, and maybe us adults can be left alone for once in a while. It’s going to be a tricky couple for years between when you can get into everything and when you can go play with the baby—Mam and Dad are going to need to get in their shags creatively.”

“Ka, Go,” Conall pouted. He looked at the house, then at Malcolm.

“Don’t worry,” Malcolm assured. “Your wee niece or nephew… they’re gonna be the best thing in the world. The two of you are going to get into so much fucking trouble that Mam and I are going to be tearing our hair out and Gordon and Kanda won’t know what the fuck to do.” Conall tilted his head at that. “Trust me—how do you think Lex got to be the way she is? Not by fucking chance, I’ll tell you that much. Yeah, the two of you are going to be different than Lex and me, but the thought’s still there, you know.”

A moment passed between them and Malcolm shuddered. “Fuck… Lex having a kid… I really don’t need to be thinking about that.” Conall patted his face and he chuckled. “Yeah, Euan better watch the fuck out.”

“Malcolm…? Are you coming?” He looked to see Kate standing at the door, waving him towards her. He approached, after which she gave him a quick kiss, dropping her voice. “Where’s Clara? Was that the call you made?”

“Yeah—left without saying goodbye. Kate, love… fuck…”

“Oswald’s a big girl; she can handle it.” She then took Conall and gave her husband a wink. “Come on—we’ve got a wedding to plan.”