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Cordially Invited

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"Tell me one thing. All those facts and figures I saw of the Doctor’s life, you were never alone. All those bright and shining companions. But not anymore?”

******

The Doctor entered the TARDIS, exhausted from his Victorian Christmas adventure. He'd helped a good man find his identity and his son, saved London from a Cyberman attack, and filled himself to bursting with a delicious Christmas dinner. Later, he'd taken Jackson, his son, and Rosita up for a spin in Jackson’s “TARDIS”, the hot air balloon. It should have cheered him, but it didn't. The Doctor felt drained. Jackson tried to make him promise to return, just to visit. The Doctor agreed. He was fairly sure Jackson knew he was lying, but didn't mention it.

He hoped for a happy, calm life for the Lakes and Rosita. They deserved it. Jackson and Rosita might have made good companions, (provided Jackson could have gotten over the shock of seeing the TARDIS), but that was never meant to be. Jackson had a family and his own brilliant life.

And it was just as well. The Doctor didn't need anyone.

He wasn't used to feeling this exhausted. He rarely needed to sleep, he hardly ever did. But tonight, all he wanted to do was lie down and perhaps induce a restorative coma for a while. The TARDIS would take care of him. It wouldn't be the first time. The Doctor suspected it was more due to his mental state than actual physical activity causing the exhaustion, but he didn't feel like engaging in self reflection at the moment. That usually caused trouble.

With the decision made, he began the dematerialization sequence. As the time rotor began to pump, a phone stored under the console began to trill loudly.

The Doctor stared at it dumbly for a few seconds. He'd forgotten he still had Martha's phone. He was in no mood to answer it. It rang several times and he stared at the storage drawer where it was kept as if it would explode after the ringing stopped.

Eventually it stopped, and after staring at the drawer for a few more seconds, he began to wearily walk away.

The squeak of the drawer opening stopped him in his tracks. “Nope,” he addressed the ceiling, popping the “p”. “Taking a kip now. The universe can do without me for a while.”

The TARDIS clearly disagreed, as the doorway to the corridor faded into a bare wall.

“Oh, come on!” the Doctor yelled.

The phone beeped.

“They can fend for themselves. I'm tired.”

The standoff lasted three minutes before a grumbling Doctor picked up the phone. Looking at the screen he read, “Missed call from Martha.” The screen also indicated a voicemail. Of course, he wouldn't get off that easily.

And of course, his curiosity got the better of him. “Hey..Martha here. Erm….not an emergency, but, at any rate…..just wanted to let you know I had some good news to share…..Mickey and I are gettin’ married. And we want you there…..We didn't know where to send the invitation. Probably couldn't afford the postage to wherever or whenever you are.” She chuckled nervously and added, “Anyway, we'd love you to be there. Twenty-sixth December, two o'clock sharp at St. Mark’s chapel by my mum’s. We'd love for you to come.”

The Doctor snorted. Yeah, he was sure Mickey would love to see him. If he concentrated really hard he could still feel the tender spot from Mickey’s punch to his jaw when the Idiot found out about Rose’s return to Pete’s World.

Amazingly, Martha was still talking. He thought voicemails had a time limit. “I know what you're thinking. And yes, Mickey wants you to come. We'd all love for you to be there. If you're traveling with someone, bring her...or whoever along. Well, anyway, call me back. Hope...all is well. ‘Bye, Doctor.”

The Doctor stared at the phone screen, expecting yet more talk from Martha, but the phone went silent.

He supposed he should call her back and decline the invitation. Rose would have demanded that he be polite.

Well, he wasn't polite. Rude and not ginger, that was him. He dropped the phone back in the drawer and closed it with a bit more force than necessary.

He had to cut ties. It was best for all of them. He'd destroyed Martha’s family. Even though the year had been reset, they still remembered. Why would her parents want him there as a further reminder?

And selfishly, he knew seeing Martha and Mickey happy would remind him of all the people not there. It wouldn't bring closure or help him cope with the loss of Rose and Donna.

No, best stay away. Far away. He'd pretend the call hadn't happened.

The corridor still was not making an appearance.

“Now. I mean it,” the Doctor commanded, the Oncoming Storm in his voice. The corridor materialized, but not without a telepathic wave of sorrow from the TARDIS. More gently he added, “It’s better this way.” And then he entered the corridor, determined to lose himself in the maze of corridors.

Chapter Text

“Right, then, off we fly to the asteroid bazaar of Caramarapacia, where they sell rotor parts at bargain basement prices and have been known to have a hell of a sale on bezoolium……”

The Doctor wondered why he'd ever spoken that aloud. Wasn't talking to yourself a sign of insanity? Or was it high intelligence? At any rate, the TARDIS was listening to everything, “So technically I’m not talking to myself. Ha. Anyway. Caramarapacia awaits……”

He did his manic dance around the console, flipping switches and turning dials, more than adequately covering the duties of six pilots, thank you very much.

Martha had manned that dial, and Sarah Jane had been over there, and Rose….

He rapidly quashed that thought.

Once safely into the vortex, he checked the viewscreen to find not the coordinates he'd entered, but rapidly changing Gallifreyan symbols. The TARDIS jerked suddenly, throwing him firmly onto the jumpseat.

The Doctor was most definitely not going to Caramarapacia.

It was a bit of a rough trip, with the Doctor staggering back to the console, having to hold on tightly. He remembered Rose’s laugh as they were thrown to the grating when they’d tried for Ian Drury and ended up with a werewolf. Even with the din of the time rotor and the grinding, wheezing sound of the engines it seemed unusually silent now. He didn’t know if he’d ever get used to it.

As quickly as the chaos began, it was over, and the TARDIS landed with bang, knocking him off balance once again. He picked himself up, dusted himself off, and grabbed the viewscreen roughly. “Oh, no. No you don’t. I told you we weren’t going, and I meant it!” he growled as he punched in Caramarapacia’s coordinates. The screen went blank. “Come on!’ he yelled. The screen faded back on, showing the same scene as before.

A London street, decorated for Christmas.

Before he could register another complaint, a dinging sound coming from under the console interrupted him. He reached under the console to retrieve the Timey-Wimey detector.

It dinged again. There was stuff to investigate. The Doctor sighed, resigned. “Fine. I’ll check this out. Then we’re leaving,” he announced.

***********

The Doctor stepped out into an alley between a large stone church and a small brick shop. The TARDIS was tucked into a small area where two stone walls came together in an L-shape, sheltering the timeship from view. There was one window several feet up, but the light was off, and he hoped that he could get in and out without anyone noticing he was there.

Timey-Wimey detector in hand he slipped out of the TARDIS and around to the front of the church. He took a quick glance at a newspaper stand and noted the date: 26 December, 2013. Of course, that would be the date. Resorting to trickery now, I take it? He thought grimly. The detector dinged quietly in his pocket. Whatever was setting it of was inside the church. Conveniently, the same church where his old mate Martha Jones was marrying Mickey the Idiot. He intended to have very strong words with his time ship later. Now he had to find out if something was really threatening their wedding or if it was a ploy to get him inside.

It would be the easy thing to leave, he knew. He could walk away and leave them to whatever happened.

He couldn't risk letting something ruin Martha's wedding. He'd already stolen a year of her and her family’s lives. Mickey deserved happiness as well.

People were filing in, none he recognized, so he joined the throng and slipped into the vestibule. He hoped he could hide in the background and nothing would happen.

The Doctor slipped into the men’s room, relieved that he didn't run into someone he knew. He ducked into a stall and pulled out the sonic. He always scanned for alien tech now, and it didn't fail him. Something was here. Something was in the church, and he had to find it.

He stepped out of the stall, and of course, this time he wasn't alone. A man had brought his young son in. And as usual, children always were more observant than their distracted adults. “Wassat?” the little boy chirped, pointing at the Doctor.

“S’rude to point, Gabriel,” the man said.

“Wassat?” he asked again, but by then the Doctor had secreted the sonic away.

The Doctor winked at the boy. “That’s a handsome bow tie you have there, mate,” he grinned, distracting him enough to make a quick exit.

The vestibule was starting to become crowded. The Doctor slipped along the wall until he came to a locked door. He heard another soft ding from inside his pocket, so he pulled the sonic screwdriver out and discreetly unlocked the door. He caught sight of Tish Jones, gorgeous in a black gown, coming through another door across the room. He slid through the door and closed it, locking it again from the other side. He hoped Tish hadn't noticed.

*******

In the vestibule, Tish was sure she'd caught a glimpse of a familiar figure in a brown suit. She wavered for a second, unsure of what she saw. She decided, at least for the moment, not to say anything to Martha.

The door opened again and Francene appeared. “She's on the way up,” she informed her daughter. “What? Looks like you've seen a ghost? Now, don't be giving me any bad news. If some sort of alien shenanigans are goin’ on, I don't want to know. They'd just better not ruin this wedding.”

“Nothing's wrong, Mum,” Tish answered. After all, she wasn't sure if it was a lie or not. They hadn't even heard back from the Doctor. No reason to worry at all why a man in a brown suit had just sneaked into the choir loft entrance. Maybe this was some weird thing in which he preferred to watch it secretly. To each his own. There was certainly no time to be concerned now.

She checked her watch. This wedding couldn't get over with fast enough for her.

*****
The choir loft was dark, smelled of dust and disuse, and was the perfect place to hide. That purple skinned, three fanged Skarlax hiding three feet in front of him thought so as well.

Apparently it thought no one could see through its shimmer, but the Doctor, with his Time Lord senses, saw through it immediately. What he didn't see, however, was the large vase that fell over with a crash, ruining the element of surprise. A half second later a fanfare of pipe organ music signaled the beginning of the wedding. As the Skarlax turned to face him, snarling, the Doctor couldn’t help but think of Lazarus in a church with a pipe organ and the Jones sisters in the thick of it.

He didn't think turning the volume up on the pipe organ would be the way to go this time.

The creature had placed some sort of device on a switch box and triggered the threatening red button on the side just as the Doctor launched himself at it. There was a cacophony of feedback shrieking through the speakers, and the power went out.

*******

Tish had just made it down the aisle, winking at Mickey when she reached the end. They had a good relationship, and Mickey had fit into the Jones family quite well. Mickey had become a second brother to her. Tish mouthed ‘she’s gorgeous!’ as the music changed.

Mickey turned toward the back of the church to see Martha step in, arm in arm with her father. A lump formed in his throat at the sight of her, beautiful in her white, strapless gown. She was all he’d ever wanted in the world, and when he thought of all they'd gone through to make it to this point…..

A sudden flash caught his eye from above in the old choir loft, and Mickey suddenly realized they had a bit more to go through when the feedback reverberated and the power suddenly failed, plunging them into darkness.