E-Mail From The Home Front

Anji read the e-mail.

Then she read it again, to make absolutely sure she hadn't missed anything.

She permitted herself a small grin.

Then she went to find one of the others.


'Benny's WHAT?!' Fitz screeched.

'Pregnant.' Anji repeated. 'Bun in the oven. Preggers. Pregnant. Oh, and Jason's back, too.'

Tenchi frowned. Partly, this was because of the cards he was holding, but...

'Who's Benny?'

'Bernice Summerfield,' Anji explained. 'Old friend of the Doctor. Archaeologist from the 26th century. Used to travel with him some time back.'

'Oh dear God...' Fitz moaned. A horrible thought seemed to strike him.

'Wait... it's not /his/, is it?'

Anji raised an eyebrow. 'Fitz, that was five years ago. Even for Benny, a pregnancy that long is a /little/ odd...'

'Wait... are you saying she and the Doctor...' Tenchi left the question hanging.

'We don't know,' Anji said calmly. 'Benny smirks whenever the subject comes up - and the number of women who drool over him, it /does/ come up...'

'And the Doctor doesn't /seem/ to remember.' Fitz added. 'But you know the guy. When it comes to things like /this/... not a word.' He winced. 'I mean... Me, Sam, Charley... /Charley/, for Chrissakes! The others... well, nogo just yet, but it'll probably happen.'

'Sorry, but are you talking about lemons?'

Anji and Fitz blinked. 'Lemons?'

'Umm...s...s...se...' Tenchi's nose started bleeding.

'Ohh... Sex fica. Yep.'

'Sam... Charley... and /you/?'

'Don't mention it. I mean, I didn't even /realise/ it was... well, what it was... until I read the Archive...' Fitz shuddered slightly.

'If you didn't realise it,' Tenchi said. 'that makes it a lime yakoi.'

'A what what?'

'A story with, um... se... well...'

'Sex.' Anji completed.

Tenchi shook his head. 'No. Nothing actual, just...'

'References.' Fitz deduced. 'Implications.'

Tenchi nodded.

'What's a yakoi?'

Tenchi blushed even more. 'Um... I think you'd call it a slash story.'

'Ohh...' Anji said. Off Fitz's blank look, she helpfully explained 'A same sex story. One or two used to pop up on Dave's newsgroups.'

'Oh.' Fitz said.

'Ask Izzy. She'll know more.'

Tenchi frowned. 'Wait. /Just/ the three of you?'

'/Just/ the three of us?' the other two echoed.

'Well, I would have thought... well, there's Izzy... and um...' Tenchi's nosebleed was reaching critical levels. 'Umm, well...'

'Sorry, are you saying there should be /more?!/' Fitz said incredulously.

'There are for us...' Tenchi mumbled.

'You guys? You mean...'

Tenchi nodded. 'Uh-huh.'

'You and Ayeka, you and Ryoko...' Fitz winced. 'Okay. I can /just/ get my head around Mihoshi, and Washu...'

'/Don't/ go any further.' Tenchi said quietly. 'Others have...'

Fitz shuddered.

'The same for...' Anji's gesture indicated the others.

'Uh-huh. Ranma, Keiichi... even Ataru.'

Fitz's eyes widened. 'Oh dear God, that's all we need. The Lecher Prince...'

'Well... not that there isn't usually a catch in it...' Tenchi added, a wry expression on his face. 'He /is/ one of the unluckiest people alive.'

'Yeah? Try telling that to Adric.' Fitz said, noting the expression on Anji's face. 'Umm... Anj? Something else up?'

'There was something else. Remember that Antimony guy?'

Fitz waved a hand. 'Vaguely. Cammy and Izzy were the ones downloading that whatsit... webcast thingie...'

Anji's mouth twitched again. 'We've got another new companion.'

'We've /what/?'


'That 'webcast thingie' just got commissioned for a full series.' Anji explained. 'Oh, sorry. Well, we've had a Who series made for broadcast on the web, with a new companion. Not our Doctor, though - his predecessor. Anyway, they made the pilot episode, and were waiting on whether they could finish it.'

'And they can.' Tenchi surmised. 'So Antimony's the new companion?'

'Mm-hmm. Shame /this/ aspect of us is out here.' Anji added. 'So we've got a couple of new arrivals.'

'Hmm. I'll wait and see on Benny's baby.' Fitz commented. 'There's gonna be a catch somewhere along the line.'

'There is. It's not Jason's.'

'Sorry? Jason is...'

'Her ex. She's just got him back from the wrong side of a dimensional rift.'

'Yow.' Tenchi winced. 'That's got to be nasty.'

'Mm-hmm. And as I understand it, Benny wasn't even in her body when it happened - she got bodyswapped, and the new person decided to try it out.'

'You mean like...'

Anji nodded. 'Yes. But Benny managed to get her body back - with no lasting effects, or so she thought. Not the same as Izzy's circumstamces - and Izzy's body certainly /wasn't/ used for what Benny's body was used for.'

'In other words... Benny's pregnant with a baby for whose conception she wasn't around, it's not her ex's, and she's just got her ex back...' Tenchi winced again. 'Sometimes, your lives are so much like ours, it's scary.'

'Yup. You've mentioned that. Lots of times.' Fitz observed.

'Oh. Um... does she know who the father is?'

'Not /yet/...' Anji said.

'Uh-oh.' Fitz said. 'Now that's nasty... speaking /as/ an absentee dad.'

'You're an absentee dad?'

'Not by choice... Lemme put it this way. One night, together. Things happen. Then you don't talk about what happened that night, and whatever there might have been-' Fitz snapped his fingers. 'Nada. And then, Inside, you leave soon afterwards. Then you look back on it, Outside...'

'...And find out.' Tenchi completed. 'Ever thought of...?'

'Maybe. But in that world's timeline, we won't be coming back for a long time, if ever.'

'Vanishing Point.' Anji said.


'That's the story's title. Fitz isn't the only one who had that happen to them - Chris, another of the Doctor's earlier companions, it happened to him too. Little girl called iKrissi.' Anji half-smiled. 'Chris's being a real doting dad Outside... even if he /is/ a teenager, physically. He got temporally regressed.' she explained to Tenchi, whose eyes were now so wide that a full dinner service could have been slotted into them.

'Okay...' Tenchi said slowly. 'How many of you /are/ there? Companions?'

'In the official Insides?' Anji said drily, counting off on her fingers. 'Let me see... Susan, John, Gillian, Ian, Barbara, Vicki, Steven, Katarina, Sara, Dodo, Ben, Polly, Jamie, Victoria, Zoe, Liz, Jo, Sarah - with a 'h', Jeremy, Harry, Leela, K9 - two of him, Romana - two of her, too... , Sharon, Adric, Nyssa, Tegan, Turlough, Kamelion, Peri, Grant, Frobisher, Evelyn, Mel, Olla, Ace, Antimony, Benny, Chris, Roz, Grace... we're still debating Chang Lee, even now... Stacy, Izzy, Ssard, Sam, Fey, Fitz...'

Fitz bowed slightly.

'Compassion - yep, Compassion - Charley, me... The UNIT guys are difficult to count. The Brigadier, definitely, Benton and Yates, probably, the others not so much... Then there's the movie Ian, Barbara and Susan... /and/ Louise and Tom. Emma, sometimes..' Anji hesitated. 'And Kroton.'

Tenchi noticed a silent look pass between the other two, but said nothing.

He shook his head. 'Wow. So how do you keep track?'

'With great difficulty.' Fitz paused. 'Okay, now we've got the expected gag out of the way... Me, Anji, Izzy and Charley... we're the 'current' companions, we get the bulk of the official Inside stories. The others... it wobbles, but basically, /most/ of us will get an official Inside story at /some/ point. Not all, things being what they are, but...'

'And that was just the /official/ Insides,' Anji added drily. 'The fanfiction Insides...'

'I know. The number of newcomers around the shrine... I think I lost count somewhere about thirty.'

Anji and Fitz winced.

'It's almost a tradition. A newcomer shows up at the Masaki shrine, I finally choose one of the girls, and the newcomer triggers off a new adventure. Sometimes all in one go.'


'And most of them end up with me choosing Ryoko...' Tenchi's voice trailed off.

'Would you choose her?'

'I...' Tenchi hesitated. 'I know, one way or the other, one of them will be hurt. That's part of it - they're both friends, and that is something I don't want to lose. They're both... I don't want to lose either of them... and I /know/ my indecision risks that. But the other is... if what I understand is correct... there will be a third OAV, where I make the choice. /Have/ made the choice, a long time ago...'

'Do you know who it is?'

'Up here,' Tenchi tapped his head. 'No. But down here...'

Anji nodded.

'What about...?'

'The Doctor?' Fitz completed. 'Okay. There's Grace, at least the way Izzy sees her. And Patience.'

'Umm... is she a companion?'

'No, she's the Doctor's wife.'

'His /what?/'

'His wife. For some strange reason, people think he can't be married - at least, going by the books. But the books gave him a wife.'


'It's not a contradiction. People /believe/ the books said he wasn't married - but the books /do/ say he was married. Well, Cold Fusion and The Infinity Doctors, at least...'

'So he /was/ married?'

'According to the books, yes. Long before he /ever/ left his homeworld...' Anji said. 'She's dead... finally dead... by now. A wife, children... and one grandchild. At least by the books' account of the situation. Having multiple and contradictory Insides gets confusing, after a time.'

Tenchi almost grinned at that one. 'OAVs, manga, films, two TV series... Yes, they do...'

Anji raised an eyebrow. 'There was probably a Mrs Who in the movies - he has a granddaughter, at any rate.'

'Those are the official ones,' Fitz said. 'Unofficially? Me, Sam, Charley, Peri - that /was/ a surprise, Ace, Benny, Tegan, Sarah, Romana, the Master... probably more, but I've lost track.'

'Which was why you were asking if the baby was the Doctor's.' Tenchi realised.

'She /did/ get pregnant by him in one timeline. Didn't stop teasing him for a week after I found out.' Fitz said as an aside, grinning.

Tenchi shook his head. 'Like I said... it's /scary/.'

'Ryoko filled you in on Adric and Nyssa yet?' Anji said. 'Now /that's/ disturbing...'

Tenchi grimaced. 'I'd heard. Something about the ultimate 'rebound boy', and the psycho who keeps killing him.'

'Got it in one,' Fitz said. 'Almost 'xactly like what you guys have. But without the multiple homicides.'

'Oh, I don't know...' Tenchi observed.

'Anyway... depending on how things go, we may be ending up with a new baby toddling around the place.' Anji said.

'Ready to be Auntie Anji yet?'

'Only if you want to be Uncle Fitzie.'

Fitz winced again.

'Of course, nothing's ever as simple as it seems.'

'Have any of you considered having children?'

Another silent look between them.

'This gets personal.' Fitz said eventually. 'Be warned.'

Tenchi nodded.

'I did... once,' Anji said slowly. 'But there never seemed to be enough time, things that had to be prepared for, trusts and resources to set aside... I looked after Rezoul, my younger brother, when he was born, but... I don't know, to be honest.'

'Mm. I don't know.' Fitz said. 'Not quite sure. I mean...' He took a deep breath. 'There were times when it /might/ have reached that stage, but crap happens. And some of it by me.'

'Izzy... it wasn't likely before the bodyswap. It's even less likely now. She might have asked about a sperm donor later on in life... now...' Anji shook her head.

'Asked about...? Oh.' Tenchi said.

'My best guess, at any rate. Stacy and Ssard? Stacy definitely wanted kids, but...' Anji grimaced. 'Something happened when she travelled with the Doctor. She can't have kids now. I've wondered if she and Ssard have considered adoption... it might prove difficult, for a cross species marriage, but...' She shook her head again.

'Fey may have kids, actually.' Fitz said. 'Dunno much 'bout her past, and she doesn't go into her background, so it's possible. Unlikely, but possible.'

'Her concerns are more about her friends, really.' Anji said, her voice slightly distanced. 'With her friends, and her duties. If she doesn't have children... I don't think she'll decide to, not soon.'

'Compassion /would've/ had kids, if the Doctor hadn't changed history.' Fitz's voice was quiet. 'Had them by force.'

A chill passed across Tenchi's skin.

'The Doctor stopped it from happening. Luckily. Now... well, there's a way to create more, if she wants to... but she's said she's not about to do it just for company.' Fitz took a deep breath. 'She may change her mind. /May/, but...'

'Sam?' Anji half-grinned. 'Sam might, it's certainly possible. If she wants to. She does have her whole future open to her. Some would rather she didn't, but... I don't know. She'd make quite a good parent.'

'Charley? Same with her. Got /her/ whole future ahead of her. If it includes kids, fair enough. If not, that's okay, too.' Fitz grinned. 'Nice to have someone without a potential hangup on the thing on the team, y'know?'

Tenchi nodded. 'Not yet. Not for most of us.'

Anji and Fitz nodded in response.

'But Washu...'

'Has the twins.' Fitz's face broke into a massive grin. 'Ryoko /and/ Minagi.'

'Yeah. Not sure of how much is her sincerely wanting to be a parent, and how much is her teasing them. But they /were/ created from her ovum. In a way, they /are/ her daughters... Although...' Tenchi's voice trailed off. 'Although... She seems reluctant to care about them. It's... hard to explain. She cares a lot about science, and sometimes, she'll treat them as subjects in an experiment. She does it to /everyone/ - not everyone, but pretty much... and them most of all. It's like she goes into 'scientist' mode when she's got an idea that really speaks to her... or to remind herself not to get too close.'


'She lost one child. I don't think she wants to lose another - or two.'

'Washu lost a child?' Anji's voice resonated with shock.

Tenchi nodded. 'Not died, but... her husband's family reclaimed her husband - and her son. They thought she was beneath him - she wasn't from a noble or powerful family. /He/ didn't think that, and neither did she... She never learned what happened to them afterwards.'

'Ye gods.' Fitz whispered.

'I'm not sure she /wants/ to - she is the greatest genius mad scientist around, it wouldn't be hard, not for her... but I don't think she wants to know. She may be a scientist, but there are some things she doesn't want to find out.'

'The Doctor would understand.' Fitz observed. 'Do the twins know?'

'Ryoko, yes.' Tenchi hesitated. 'Minagi... maybe not. That they had a big brother, once...'

'And she takes a child's form now. To have a kid... suggests she didn't always look like she does now.'

'She didn't.' Tenchi said softly. 'And she chose to look like a child deliberately.'

'Who needs family to mess us up? We're quite capable of doing it to ourselves...' Fitz murmured.

'As Benny would be the first to say, especially when Jason's around.' Anji murmured.

Tenchi looked thoughtful. 'The baby's going to have an interesting upbringing...'

'Heh. That's another thing. Can you imagine one of /us/ having a baby? "That's your Auntie Compassion, she's a TARDIS, and no, you can /not/ crawl around inside her; that's your Auntie Fey and Uncle Shayde, both at the same time; that's your Auntie Anji, she's already budgeted the finances for your next twenty years-"

Anji raised an eyebrow.

"That's your Auntie Charley, and if she says she wants to take you on an airship ride, don't listen; that's your Auntie Izzy, who's gonna teach you all about being a fan; that's your Auntie Stacy - listen to her whan she talks about falling in love with the alien; that's your Auntie Sam, who's got some lessons about choosing your future; that's your Uncle Ssard, he doesn't say much, but he's a great babysitter - and he knows how to fish; and I'm your Uncle Fitz, ever on hand with the unbelievable stories. And you know the thing about those stories? They're all true." Well,' Fitz added, tongue in cheek. 'Most of them, at any rate...'

Anji grinned at that one.

'I can believe that,' Tenchi said, grinning along with her. 'It'd be the same for us, too... well, not quite, not after seeing how the others took care of baby Taro.'


'My cousin.'

'Oh.' Fitz looked distinctly embarrassed at that one.

'Definitely /very/ bizarre. And very tiring. And very fun, to boot.' Tenchi's grin grew a little bigger, then fell. 'Oh... I'd better check back on the shrine, especially now we're back in the country. I'd nearly lost track, what with the Doctor roping us into this.'

'You get used to it.' Fitz observed.

Anji nodded in agreement. 'He spins you along so fast, you barely have time to catch your breath. It's only when you stop to breathe you remember... It happens to all of us. It's learning how to deal with it that's the trouble.'

'I think that's called "adventure",' Tenchi observed.

'Really? I wanted to call it "danger pay". Still... this way, living's a bit more interesting.'

'Speaking of which...' Anji put her fingers together. 'We should really get something for Antimony - /and/ for Benny and the baby.'

'Is it just me, or are we spending most of our money on other people's presents? Not complaining...' Fitz said quickly. 'I think Benny'd want some quiet time. Oh, and someone to scream at, for therapy. Umm... Any idea what we should be getting for Antimony?'

'Have to think on that one,' Anji said reflectively. 'After all, it's easy for us to come up with something stereotypical for one another.'

'Mm-hmm.' Fitz said. 'Maybe a tacky Japanese gadget?'

'Somehow, Fitz... I don't think so. We'll see how it goes.'

'Would you mind if we signed the cards? For both Benny and Antimony?' Tenchi suggested.

'Yeah. Why not?' Fitz said. 'Couldn't hurt. And the Doctor won't mind.'

'No, he won't. He's got a tendency to rope in as many people as possible.'

'I'd noticed...' Tenchi said.

'Anyway... got to go and fill in the others,' Anji said, stretching her arms out. 'But I'm willing to bet the Doctor and Compassion already know...'

Fitz snapped his fingers. 'Hey, Anj? Who let you know?'


'Mel?' Fitz raised an eyebrow.

'Mel.' Anji repeated. 'We do still keep in touch with the others, remember? And Mel is the Systems Operator for /our/ Outside...'

'Nice of her to let us know.' Fitz observed.

'Mm. Yes, it was.' Anji said.

As she left, Fitz could have sworn he saw the faint touches of a smile playing around her mouth. Almost like...

His eyebrow raised again.

She /was/. She was /enjoying/ dropping the bombshells.

'Okay...' Tenchi said, laying a card on the table.

'Hah.' Fitz said. 'Fireball. Lose the mana.'

Damn. He wished he'd thought of that firat...

Tenchi frowned. 'Hmm...'

'Come on, come on...'

'No, I was thinking, with the baby thing coming up. Could the Jusenkyou Curse be inherited?'

Fitz winced. 'Ow. I don't think they let you fill in /both/ genders on the birth certificate, even here.'

His eyebrows knotted together, as he considered that.

'Do they?'

He and Tenchi looked at each other.

A silent look passed between them.

A mutual understanding to most definitely /not/ bring this up again.

Then their eyes dropped back down to the cards.

Tenchi hmmed.

'All right. Let me see...Tap the mana, or...?'




Copyright 2001 Imran Inayat