Summary: The last thing Dr. Theodore Smith expects to receive upon his return to the country is a handwritten note from his ex, Melissa “Missy” Masters, inviting him and his wife, River Song, to tea. And yet she expects them to join her, her wife Jo, and their two children to break bread. Well he could hardly say no, now could he?
Disclaimer: Doctor Who is owned by the BBC. I got the inspiration to rename Twelve and Missy from The Law of Gravitation by evilqueenofgallifrey (MayFairy), which also inspired the idea to write this kind of modern all-human fic at all.
Author’s Note: I wrote the majority of this fic and then promptly forgot about it for about six months. Now I’m finally paying attention to it again, probably. If enough people are interested I might work my way into actually writing the second half, which is vaguely percolating in my brain. I know what happens, I just need the motivation to write it down.
Dr. Theodore Smith wasn’t sure why he had agreed to this. But then, when had he ever been able to say no to Melissa Masters? The two of them hadn’t seen each other in ages, nearly a decade. Words had been said. Things he regretted, and things he didn’t. He had moved on with his life, and he presumed she had done the same, given the contents of her letter. Though, she seemed to have done so while keeping a close eye on what he was up to, since she had invited him to bring his wife along, including her name and title in the invitation, handwritten, no stamp, to their address.
I know that it has been a great deal of time since we last spoke, and we did not part under the best of circumstances. That said, you were, and remain, one of the people I hold closest to my heart. I would be much obliged if you would join my family and I at our home in London on July the 23rd, for a spot of tea. Please do bring your lovely wife, Professor River Song. I do believe that she and my own partner will get along like a house on fire. Not literally this time, though if this weren’t being committed to writing I might have less vague suggestions for other abodes. (I jest of course.)
I do hope that you come, I rather miss you, and regret the years we have spent apart, among other things better discussed in the privacy of a home.
River, who had heard a great deal about the infamous Melissa “Missy” Masters, was only surprised that Theo had considered refusing to visit his ex-lover.
“Isn’t that why we came back?” River asked, when he told her about the letter.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Theo replied defensively.
“Oh, sweetie, for a doctor you can be quite the idiot, but not me. This is the first time you’ve set foot on this island for longer than a week in almost ten years — in the ten years that you haven’t seen Missy. You haven’t been avoiding Britain, you’ve been avoiding her,” River looked at him pointedly. “Now I don’t much mind — you know how I like travelling, but don’t think I haven’t noticed that the address she gave us is only a mile away. But you knew that when you picked this apartment to rent, didn’t you?”
Shifting in his chair, Theo looked away uncomfortably. “I — I perhaps knew that. Does it bother you?” He asked.
River snorted. “Would you have done without consulting me if you thought I cared?”
“No, of course not!” He replied, aghast, and she laughed.
“Well there’s your answer. Now, I’ll be more than happy to meet Missy and her family with you on Sunday, but as of right now I have a date with Matt, we’re going ice-skating. Are you alright on your own for now?”
“Yes, yes I’m fine. Enjoy your ice skating in July,” Theo kissed her on the cheek before waving her off fondly. Matt was odd, but he pulled off bow-ties surprisingly well, and he could keep up with River, which was more than Theo could say for many of his wife’s past boyfriends. He was also not at all threatened by nor wanted to take Theo’s place, which Theo appreciated.
As his thoughts drifted away from Matt they turned again to the letter in his hand. Was River right, had Missy just been waiting for him to come back to the country? There was no stamp, had she come to the door herself? Why not knock? Why ask him and River to her home? Well, there was only one way to find out.
… … …
And so here he was, standing with River on Missy’s doorstep and ringing a bell. He had hemmed and hawed about what to wear — back when they knew each other, well, they’d known each other all their lives, but the last time they’d seen each other he was going for the professorial look, button down waistcoat, black slacks, shiny shoes, black jacket with the red lining and close cropped hair. These days he favored a more relaxed look, and was wearing plaid trousers, a black hoodie, and a black coat, his hair just long enough that the curls were noticeable. River, who hadn’t gotten a straight answer from Theo about how to dress, had decided to go with skinny jeans, knee-high boots, and a black leather jacket over a blouse.
When the door opened, Theo let out a breath as he was surprised to not see Missy, but a smiling blonde woman who looked about ten years younger than them, perhaps thirty five. She was barefoot, and her wide blue pants, which were splattered with paint of all colors were held up by rainbow suspenders. Her t-shirt (which also had a rainbow on it) was the same.
“Oh hello! You must be Theo and River!” she greeted them cheerfully, and they stepped into the house. Directly behind the woman they saw a hallway to what must be the kitchen, and to the right there was a staircase. Theo and River, though, naturally gravitated toward the left they saw a wide space that they assumed to be the living room, where two children, also splattered with paint, were whispering to each other as they worked very studiously on the same series of art projects that River and Theo assumed the blonde woman had been working on before she had opened the door for them. “I’d shake ya hand, but I’m a bit of a paint hazard. Oh darn I probably should’ve —”
“Not touched the door handle?” came a dry voice from behind them, and the couple turned to see Missy coming down the staircase.
“Yeah, that,” the blonde woman’s cheeks burned, but she also had the kind of soppy smile on her face that was easy to recognize as affection, and Missy easily returned it with a fond smirk of her own — though she would never look soppy.
“Hello, Theo,” Missy said hesitantly, as she continued coming down the stairs, her expression changing to something that wasn’t quite readable, but River thought there was a kind of longing to it, “and you must be River. Pleased to meet you.”
Missy stook out her hand to shake and River shook with none of the hesitancy she felt — River never showed hesitancy — and replied. “Please to meet you as well —”
“Missy. Call me Missy. Anything else and I —”
“Missy remember what we said about death threats in front of the children?” the blonde woman hissed.
“Right.” Missy blinked. “Sorry. The rainbow one is my wife, Jo. The children are our children. The child with the blue hair is our daughter, Niko, the child with the green hair is our son, Sasha. Oi, children, come greet the guests,” Missy called over to them.
“Yes mother!” They chorused.
Sasha, as it happened, could have been Jo, but shorter, and with green hair. Sasha also appeared to be the smaller of the two, or maybe it was just the fact that Niko was strutting with such boldness that she overshadowed her brother, whose hand she held tightly.
“Hi!” Sasha chirped happily. Looking between Theo and River equally. “I’m Sasha!”
“Well it’s quite nice to meet you Sasha,” said Theo, smiling at the boy. He had always liked kids. “I’m Theo, and this is my wife, River.”
Looking at Niko as River smiled and greeted Sasha, Theo was startled to see her looking at him with an unbridled intensity, a curious stare as though he were the key to unlocking the greatest mystery she knew.
Missy cleared her throat. “Perhaps those of us not covered in paint can retire to the garden, and those of us who are covered in paint can change our clothes and wash our hands like we should have done when I asked half an hour ago?”
… … …
Theo and River sat in the garden, feeling enormously awkward, as they waited for Missy to bring out the tea, given she had denied their help. When she came outside she had added a hat to her ensemble, which already included a long purple skirt and matching blouse, and made her look like nothing so much as Mary Poppins. River truly did not want to laugh at her husband’s ex, who had once — and potentially would be again — his oldest friend, but the image would not leave her head. They were sitting around a glass table, River to Theo’s right, and Missy had just settled into the chair to his left.
“This is nice. I mean, it’s a nice place you have here, lovely even, you’re lovely, I mean, you have a lovely family, house, um —” River had covered Theo’s mouth, and Missy’s lip twitched.
“So someone still has to do that to him, I see,” she drawled.
“On occasion,” River said with a small smile, removing her hand.
“Hey!” Theo huffed. But he faltered when he saw the way that Missy’s hands were cradled around her tea cup. She looked… small. The Missy Masters he knew was many things but she was not small.
“Missy, what’s wrong?” Theo asked, leaning toward her and hovering a hesitant hand near hers before she placed the teacup on the saucer and took it.
“You’re going to hate me,” she choked out a laugh, one of those empty ones that comes out when there is absolutely nothing funny about the situation.
“Missy,” Theo said softly. “I feel a lot of things for you. I feel a lot of ways about how things ended. But I could never, ever hate you.”
Missy closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and said the only words that could have possibly made Theo rengage on that statement: “Niko is your daughter.”
… … …
“Sweetie, I know you’re angry right now, but if you hold her hand any harder you’ll break it,” hissed River, and Theo, who hadn’t even realized he was still holding onto Missy let go, startled, and with a look of revulsion that Missy couldn’t describe, but knew she probably deserved. She would not cry, because she never cried, but she wouldn’t deny it hurt. Especially after he had said, in that soft voice that she hadn’t heard him use in such a long time “I could never, ever hate you.” Ha. Liar.
“How could you?” River asked angrily as she rubbed circles on Theo’s back, as he took deep breaths and got his brain back in gear.
“Easily. Secrets and lies are her bread and butter,” said Theo bitterly, before Missy finished opening her mouth.
“This was not easy,” Missy snapped.
“Ten years! You kept the fact that we had a child together from me for ten years!”
“I was doing what I thought was best for her! You were off galavanting about the world, you didn’t have time for a baby, you wouldn’t have come back —”
“You can’t know that when you never asked me if I would —”
“You’re the one who left me —”
“Because you asked me too —”
“Did you really think I wanted you to leave that badly?”
“Well I’m not a fucking mind reader! How could I know?”
“I didn’t want you to think you had to stay just because of her, I know you would’ve —”
“Yes, I would’ve and now the alternative is that you’ve let our daughter go the first nine years of her life thinking her father doesn’t want her when that’s the farthest thing from the truth I can imagine! How dare you HOW DARE YOU?”
“OI! That’s enough shouting in my house, thank you! I’d appreciate you not harassing my wife and scaring my children, thanks,” Jo was back, her arms crossed and her formerly friendly face now in a scowl that while out of place on her petite features was actually quite menacing. “If we can’t keep things at a family friendly decibel I might just have to ask you to leave, and by ask I mean you’ll find yourselves arse over tit out the front door before you can say allons-y, caspisc?”
Theo took a deep breath and nodded curtly. “Understood.”
“Great! Back in a mo’ the scones should be about ready, and that will probably keep the kids distracted enough if I also set them up with a movie. They’ve been wanting to watch Moana again for a while, and I’ve just got the disc for ‘em the other day!” And with that cheerful Jo was back, and it was like they had gotten whiplash.
Missy laughed again, only this time it was gentler, fonder, filled with a raw and genuine nature that Theo hadn’t heard in a long time. “That’s my wife alright.” Then Missy straightened up, and it was like her armor was on again, and Theo remembered what had made him so furious, and then so sad.
“Why, Missy?” he was quiet now. Theo was never someone who could sustain anger for very long.
“I was scared,” one of Missy’s long curls had come loose from her elaborate updo and she was now curling it around her finger. “I didn’t — you had just left, and it was still so fresh and horrible. I was working my tail off at that law firm for those sexist pigs — you’ll be happy to know they work for me now — I don’t know what I would’ve done if I hadn’t met Jo,” Missy said, almost wistfully.
“How did you two meet?” River asked. “Forgive me for saying, I don’t know either of you well but —”
“We make a bit of an odd couple?” Missy asked with a raised eyebrow. “I’ll admit, you’re not wrong. And we weren’t a couple immediately. We met while I was still pregnant, outside a coffee shop. I was with my brother, Harry, in the outdoor seating and then all of a sudden we hear swearing, then breaking glass, and next thing you know, this blonde woman falls down out of nowhere onto the couch next to me. Of course I scramble out of the way and then there’s more breaking glass and someone else appears too. Jo had gotten into a bar fight with someone over whether Shakespeare’s first 126 sonnets were addressed to a man or a woman. Of course I was in love. Harry thinks I’m insane, but his boyfriend’s twin brother is dating a furry —”
“OI!” Jo had come back. “Are you talking smack about Rose? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with her being a wolf and all. She’s perfectly lovely, and her mum makes excellent tea. Scones, anyone?”
“Oh, well they do look quite tasty don’t they? Did you make them yourself?” Theo asked.
“Oh yes,” Jo nodded. “Missy didn’t mention? I own the cafe now. From security guard, to baker, to owner. Moving up in the world, I am. Clara even taught me how to make souffles.”
“You were a security guard?” Theo asked.
“Yes. What Missy left out of the story was that the man in question was saying some very homophobic things to some students who were having some friendly discussion about their Shakespeare course, and when I asked him to leave he got a bit too hands on. He didn’t think he’d have trouble with me, but I showed ‘em.”
Theo’s lip quirked and he couldn’t help but give a small smile. He knew exactly why Missy liked this woman. He liked her too.