A/N: Selene directly quotes Nine twice. Once from “Rose” and the other from “World War Three.” Obviously, I didn’t write those lines.
The line from WWIII is one of my favourite exchanges between Rose and the Doctor. Ever. Christopher Eccleston. I just can’t even. And, yeah, I think what the Alpha has to say about it pretty much sums it up.
“If you laugh, or make a single joke, I swear on my TARDIS, I’ll chuck you into the next black hole we pass.”
The Alpha was feeling distinctly self-conscious. She and Jack had painted themselves gold to blend in with the natives, and donned more appropriate apparel from the TARDIS wardrobe. The ship had prominently displayed the garments on a circular rack the moment she walked into the spiralling room full of costumes and clothing, and, as she wasn’t fussy, and just wanted the whole charade behind her, she let the ship’s judgement be definitive. The robes the TARDIS chose were silver and midnight blue, with silver spangles that twinkled like stars in the night sky, highlighting the shimmering paint job on her skin. It was bound by cording in the middle bits, and floated away from her legs and upper body, leaving her neck and arms exposed. It was extremely awkward for her despite its loveliness, and she longed for her trousers, jumper, and boots. The strappy, delicate sandals, and filmy gown would be bloody ridiculous to run in. She fervently hoped those three prats hadn’t caused any trouble so she and Jack could just collect them and go. At least the paint covered her markings and she didn’t need to stress over keeping them hidden—so long as no one doused her with water and it didn’t rain—but there was a sort of freedom, she grudgingly admitted to herself, in taking off the armour, though it did leave her feeling more vulnerable than she cared for. She reminded herself she was capable of fighting starkers if necessary, and resisted the temptation to go back to her ship and wait for everyone to solve their own problems.
“Not a chance,” Jack promised through a lubricious grin. “You are stunning. Seriously. Drop dead gorgeous. And a girl! I’d never have guessed–OW! That was the only one! I swear!” Jack’s own chiton was a deep crimson, and half the length of hers, trimmed in a golden, Greek key design. His muscular arms, shoulders, and legs sparkled with the gold paint that accentuated their contours and tone.
Not that she’d been looking. She definitely hadn’t been looking. He was Captain Jack Harkness, interstellar playboy and inter-species Romeo, and he was her mate and trusted confidant—the only mate she’d ever had outside her brothers. So, she definitely didn’t look when he bent to lace up the leather sandals around his paint-covered calves. Definitely. She only hoped he was wearing pants beneath, but knowing Jack…
She cleared her throat and shook her head to banish any thought of Jack and his Schrodinger’s pants. “Okay. We need a plan, yeah?”
Jack grimaced in preparation for her tirade. She pretended not to notice.
“These people’re really strong telepaths, so make sure you don’ make skin-on-skin contact for too long, yeah?” That would be the hardest and most troublesome bit if they ran into problems, so she made sure to catch his eye to drive the point home. “I’m dead serious about tha’, Harkness.” She pointed a finger at him and gave him a stern glare, “Don’t try havin’ it off with anyone.”
“An’ maybe we better go over shieldin’ again,” she fussed as her stern face melted into worry. “Your barriers won’ work for long if you’re touchin’, ‘specially since your brain isn’t as advanced as mine. ‘S not bad for bein’ titchy an’ all – I mean, what’ve you got, only a hundred billion neurons? ‘S nothin’, an’ you’ll never last long against these people.”
Jack pinched the bridge of his nose, and sighed.
“Judgin’ by the evaporation, diffusion of the leaves, an’ temperature of the tea—”
“No way,” he interrupted with exasperated incredulity. “You’re full of it.”
She paid him no mind, and steamrolled on.
“—they’ve been gone four hours an’ nine minutes, give or take a minute or two,” she stopped a moment before admitting grudgingly, “okay, maybe five, but they really can’t’ve gotten far on foot. An’ two of ’em have the attention spans of ruddy toddlers! You’d think tha’d give us some room to breathe. That leaves a twenty-seven point nine two kilometre radius, tops. ‘S doable,” she proclaimed optimistically, before her face dropped and her brows contracted. “Unless they got in a cruiser, or found a teleport – so we should have a look at wha’ they use to get ’round. I know we’d cover more ground if we split, but I don’ wanna lose you too so, here’s wha’ we’ll—”
She started pacing in front of the doors, ignoring his entreaty once again, and moving her hands restlessly in search of some article of clothing to tug in her apprehension.
“If there’s a market, we can ask if any strange blokes – an’ let’s hope they’d the good sense to stay together – have come wanderin’ through. Wha’m I sayin’?” She snorted. “‘Course there’s always a market— So, market first—”
“—an’ if no one’s seen ’em, then we should split. I’ll check the lock up – though, maybe, we should do tha’ straight off anyway – an’ you—”
“Wha?” She halted her pacing and glared at him. “I’m kinda in the mid—”
“You’re doing it again.”
He took hold of her shoulders and kneaded into the granite-like musculature. She relaxed a fraction with the physical release of tension his hands provided.
“Well, yeah!” She let herself lean into him, looking over her left side with an expectant, but affectionate, annoyance. “How stupid d’you think I am? Not gonna run ’round with no idea wha’ I’m meant to be doin’!”
He moved his metallic hands from her shimmering shoulders, pulled her a little closer, and lightly stroked the faux-golden arms that were so rarely allowed to see the light of day. “You don’t need to plan every second of your life!” He kissed her inky hair. Flecks of errant paint shimmered between the dark strands. “Relax, and you just might have – God forbid – a little fun.”
“This is serious, Harkness,” she admonished sternly, and pulled away to resume her pacing. She wasn’t in the mood to be cajoled. “Not the time for havin’ a laugh.”
“You’re impossible,” he conceded, hands in the air.
“No,” she challenged, “jus’ not thick like—”
“Do you trust me?”
She rolled her eyes and huffed. “Yeah, ‘course, but my only family is out there on a planet full of people who hate ’em on principle. D’you know wha’ I read earlier? ‘S not—”
He grinned, taking her mercurial mood in stride, and talked right over her. “Do you know how many times I’ve done this type of thing?”
“Wha’? Gone out in public painted arse to elbows? Probably loads, but I don’ wanna know ’bout it.”
Jack guffawed, taking the evasive jibe in stride, and took her face between his palms, pecking her silky hair again with his golden lips. “Oh, shut up, and let’s go.”
He spun her on the spot, and frog-marched her out the TARDIS doors.
Both jaws hung open as they took in the beauty of Olympia, which, in the late morning sun, sparkled, horizon to horizon, like a dragon’s hoard. The courtyard was full of Olympic ladies eating fruit, and languorously stretching out by the canals while gossiping happily. A white-capped mountain dominated the horizon, and the Alpha’s senses were assaulted with the various perfumes of the many gardens, and scents of freshly baked goods. She hadn’t realised how hungry she was until the sweet and savoury smells beckoned her.
Right. Not the time to muck about thinking of eating and faffing in the square when she was skint with no way to change that. She couldn’t work to pay for a meal and risk being discovered — not that there was time for it anyway, however tempting the notion — there wasn’t likely to be a cash point to sonic, and Torin always held on to it, in any case. Food was secondary to her mission – this wasn’t—couldn’t be a pleasure trip. She did not go on holidays with intolerable old Time Lords. No, this was an insufferable old Time Lord creating a complication. A glitch, not a break. She’d just have to ignore the tantalising aromas for the time being.
Forcing herself to focus, she scanned her immediate surrounding for the familiar figures of her brothers to no avail. Brows knitted, she grabbed Jack’s hand and charged forward into the throng.
Avoiding direct skin contact seemed all but impossible without her accustomed layers. The marketplace was dense with women who seemed to have no concept of personal space. They reached out to each other, kissed cheeks at each meeting and farewell, and touched, or held hands while they chatted. Someone was always trying to stroke her arms, caress her cheeks, or reach out to brush fingers through her choppy, black locks. She swallowed the urge to bat hands, left and right, away from her and Jack. Wouldn’t do to stick out when this seemed to be the cultural norm, but it grated on her nerves like nails on a blackboard.
Hadn’t they ever heard of a personal bubble?
They were popping – had so thoroughly popped it that she might have to construct one from an un-poppable polymer before taking another step – and it was torture.
She tried to compartmentalise the discomfort, while making doubly sure she had thick metaphorical walls surrounding her mind, as she concentrated on scanning for familiar faces.
Jack, of course, was on cloud nine. He must have decided when in Rome—er—no, that idiom would be stupid, never mind – but he was very happy to return every caress and kiss. It made her unreasonably irritable. In addition to popping her bubble, they were getting hands-y with her best mate! Best mate? Well, only mate. That probably made him her best mate by default. She wasn’t going to read too deeply into it.
Terrible manners, all of them.
She decidedly disliked Olympians.
When he stopped for a proper snog, the Alpha angrily considered simply leaving him to it so he’d quit slowing her down – only, she really didn’t want to leave him to it either.
The upside was that the people seemed to take to him, and shoved food at him with not a little annoyingly coquettish simpering. He quite happily divided the spoils as they walked.
“Oh,” Selene all but moaned with pleasure at the flavours exploding on her tongue. “Tha’ is gorgeous! Jack,” she, in a complete one-eighty of feeling after experiencing the morsels he’d procured, pushed him toward a blushing golden woman carrying a tray of pies, “try gettin’ a few more of those bits with the fig an’ custard, an’, oooh, more of the veg pasties. Blimey, I wish I had pockets. Be nice to have a few of these later. Certainly beats Monster Munch.”
“That sounds suspiciously like enjoyment,” he teased. “Careful, or you may end up having the ‘f’ word.”
“Shut up, an’ pass us one of them bottles then. I’m sponged.”
He handed it to her with an absent, mechanical movement, and went to talk to a singing blonde in a silver sash.
She shook her head, doing her best to ignore the burning irritation welling up again. Just as she lifted the bottle of sweet-smelling, amber liquid to her lips, she was nearly knocked off her feet when someone collided with her, spilling the juice all over her right hand and forearm. The paint started to run, and she warred with her internal panic, and the urge to shout at the offender who was sprawled at her feet. She hastily dabbed at the smeared areas, but only succeeded in staining the silver sash with gold, and exposing a noticeable patch of pink skin with swirling golden circles.
As he clambered to his feet, the Alpha saw who had run into her, and blanched beneath her golden camouflage.
Right. Bad timing.
Or not. The Doctor apologised without looking at her, then continued trying to manoeuvre through the crowd while touching as few people as possible.
She tore the stained bit from her skirts, tied it as artfully as she could manage around the exposed bit of skin, then ran and grabbed Jack away from the woman he was chatting up. Just in time too, apparently, as he had just started to unclasp the left side of his robe – what the bleedin’ – oh, never mind. She dragged him along in his stupor as she ran after the Doctor.
The very conspicuously-not-an-Olympian Doctor.
The very alone Doctor.
The Doctor who very definitely didn’t have the two most important people in her life safely with him.
The soon-to-be-very-dead Doctor if he’d lost them, or let them get into any trouble.
He kept ducking out of her sight, and each time she had to put on a burst of speed to recover ground once she spied him.
She knew she lost Jack after the third time this happened, but there was no time to go back for him, and less danger to him by comparison, so she focused on collecting her Time Idiots. And, how much trouble could Jack—well, she couldn’t dwell too long on that.
She’d just have to nab the Doctor, then get Jack, and they’d all find Lios and Torin together. No more splitting up nonsense.
Then they’d get the hell out of there. Too many variables on this rock. It did her head in.
The Doctor had slipped away again, and she was turning in circles within the crowd to find him.
She spotted him talking to a woman selling baubles nearly half a kilometre away.
There had to be a way to get his attention before he ducked out of sight again.
She stooped as she waited for the path to clear, and scooped up a small stone. He wasn’t going to like it—no one ever did, but the fact that he would consider it particularly heinous—perhaps, even whinge—made her smile to herself. That was what he got for absconding with her family and losing them. She took aim, and threw it as hard as she could at his left shoulder, praying fervently that no one made a sudden turn into its trajectory.
The Doctor clutched at his shoulder, and spun in her direction, searching the crowd. His eyes glossed over her once, twice, then snapped back, and glared at her with a look of pained vexation.
She let out a breath she hadn’t realised she’d been holding, and ran toward him with a cheeky grin.
She fleetingly realised she was smiling more than usual—or, at least, more than she had since they’d crossed the void. Perhaps, Jack had been right about blowing off steam, and this was better than hypervodka any day. Even with the annoyingly hands-y people, and maddening members of her party who kept disappearing, there was nothing like a good run, and a bit of adventure. The nosh had been first rate too, and she got to throw something at the Doctor. He looked, for all the worlds, like he was going to whinge about it, and her satisfaction was steadily increasing.
She’d never admit that to Himself though, not in a million years.
“Tyler, as glad as I am to see you out of your cave, I wish you would find a new way of getting my attention. Honestly! Did your mum know about this terrible habit? It bloody hurts!” He stopped rubbing his smarting shoulder, and tilted his head at her huge smile, and odd appearance. “What are you wearing? You really outdid yourself. I’m properly impressed. What is it?”
He pointed the sonic at her skin to scan the particulate make-up of the gold facade, then rubbed at her shoulder with a finger. She batted it away.
“Brilliant! Very realistic looking!”
“Actually, it’s a compound the TARDIS came up with to allow for maximum breathability an’ heat ven’ilation,” she grinned, feeling quite clever, and preening ever so slightly at his sincere admiration of her efforts to appear indigenous. “Though, tha’s more for Jack’s sake, ‘cos he’s got a rubbish vascular system. Two hearts’re better’n one, eh? Bit nippy when she sprayed it on though. Think it has some heat-leachin’ properties while in a liquid state, but she hot air-dried me pretty quick! The things tha’ ol’ girl can do. Madness, I’m tellin’ you—Oi!“ Her eyebrows contracted again, and her goofy smile was replaced by something altogether less pleasant. “Now’s not the time to be talkin’ ’bout this, is it! You’re distractin’ me! Where’re my brothers?”
“I’ll find them. Don’t worry.”
She went very still, eyes closed as if she were retreating to a happy place in her mind. The Doctor took a small step back, bracing himself for the imminent explosion of curses, and maybe fists. Instead, she huffed and shook her head, wilting like a popped balloon.
“I could shout at you, an’ tell you all of wha’s in my head right now, but no real point, innit?”
The Doctor looked at her like she’d grown two heads.
“Well, ‘s not like you give a damn, do you? Nothin’ stopped you from leavin’ ’em, so wha’ difference would it make if I told you how stupid it was?”
“Very much untrue! I give many damns, in fact, I was looking for them when you so rudely decided to start throwing rocks at me! Again! Did I mention that it hurts?”
She smirked smugly before her brows met in the middle once more.
“Still lost ’em.”
“I’ll get them back! And what are you, their mother?” he sniffed. “I have a bit of news for you, Alpha, and it may come as a shock, but they don’t need you to hold their hands to cross the street. They’re big boys now.”
Again, for a moment, she looked like she might explode, but it quickly morphed into something he might’ve called guilt if he thought her capable of experiencing such things.
“‘S jus’ a bad place… dangerous…” she muttered. “…I mean… maybe you’re… maybe you might be…”
He took the sonic out again, and scanned her face. She batted it away, and started to chuckle, then caught herself with a hand over her mouth, and knitted her eyebrows together.
“Go on,” she nodded guiltily, “scan then. I ate loads of food tha’ I didn’t even think about identifyin’ first, an’ I do feel a bit loose. Strange-ish. Not normal. Go on.”
He scanned her before asking, “Did you have anything to drink?” then checked the results with a frown.
“Nah—well, almost, but you crashed into me an’ spilt it all, didn’t you?”
“Oh, was that you then?”
“Yeah, you barmy git!”
“There’s nothing wrong with you,” the Doctor declared, dismissing their run-in without further acknowlegment. “Maybe a little less inhibited if you ate something with the golden fruit in it, but nothing concerning, and, so as long as you stay away from drinking anything but water, you’ll be fine. Well, I suppose if you ate large amounts of the fruit they make Ambrosia Nectar from, you might have a bit of a problem, but no one is allowed to eat them in any kind of real quantity. You’d have to eat two, maybe three entire fruit, so, well, I think you’re fine.”
He stowed the sonic back in his jacket pocket, and pulled her with him by the painted arm into a more secluded alcove where they wouldn’t constantly have to dodge the touches and telepathic nudges from the throng of women around the bazaar.
“How long’ve they been gone?”
She stared at him silently, rather unamused.
“Oh, yes, right. Only five hours, nearly. Four hours, forty-one minutes.”
“Right,” Selene huffed. “All bleedin’ day. Beau’iful. Perfect. How dangerous would it be to—er—call out to ’em telepathically then?”
“Well, on Earth, I’d’ve done hours ago. Here? You’d basically be shouting to everyone in the city, so I’d say, only very extremely. Might as well paint a sign that says, ‘I do not belong and have come here without permission’ in flashing mauve letters. Even you aren’t that stupid, even if you are that – oh, hello – rude!”
“Yeah, a bit rude.”
“A tad, yes.”
“So, I had this whole thing planned where I asked ’round, an’ people gave me answers, but you’ve done tha’ one, haven’t you, an’, unless you’re an utter clod, ‘s not workin’. So, next bet says they’re in trouble. Where do they lock people up?”
“Thankfully, I am not a clod, and as far as I can tell, there isn’t any such place here in this city. Haven’t you noticed yet? And you’re having a go at me for being thick?”
She stepped back to survey the picture painted before her, taking in every detail she could. Nothing seemed out-of-place. None of the doings of the town and its people felt anything but mundane. She looked, but could find nothing sinister in any way, but, of course, she wasn’t exactly an expert on the cultural norms.
“S’pose the way they all touch all the time might indicate a—”
“Well… maybe they don’t—”
“They’re really friendly an’—”
“Let go of the fine details, Alpha. Stop dissecting, and tell me what’s all around you.”
“If you painted a picture,” the Doctor sighed impatiently, “what would its contents be? I’m not asking for hidden meanings, or anything socially profound. Contents only.”
“Loads of women floggin’ stuff, an’ chattin’.”
“Say it again.”
“Loads of… oh. Oh, I am thick! How did I miss tha’?”
He tapped his nose. “Can’t get too caught up in looking for patterns, and allow yourself to actually see them. Take them in. Bigger picture and all. Your mum was brilliant at that.”
“Yeah… I know,” she replied in a small voice. Her father had tried to drill the very same lesson into her countless times before he was gone. She always struggled with it.
She opened her mouth to speak, before choking on her words and snapping it shut.
It washed over her then that this man – this infuriating person with whom she couldn’t stop arguing – was the same who took her mother on all the adventures that had made up the majority of the stories she grew up hearing. He knew her mum. He had held her mum’s hand while they travelled, and saved people, and stared into black holes, and jumped into danger. Saved each other. Laughed. Cried. Lived. Died. Ran. He had been there. He had… She hadn’t truly believed it. That man had always and only been her father in her eyes…
…but that was just it. They were the same. This man had loved her mum the same as her father.
He just chose to let go of her hand in the end…
She let the moment go with a shake of her head and a huff, and refocused on the task before her. “So, you think they’ve got ’em somewhere secret then. No cells to keep ’em in since an all female society, in a theoretical sense, should be Utopian paradise. But ‘s not, is it?”
“Not even close,” he replied with a smug smile and a superior look. “And I mean you, on both counts, but nice try. Prisoners on Olympia, male and female, are teleported directly to the nearest Capitol City, so no need for any kind of holding area in the lesser cities. Women are more than capable of committing crimes, and they know it. Utopian paradise. Honestly! Gender bias much? Have you looked in the mirror lately? You’re scarier than half the things I’ve come up against anywhere in the wide universe. I’ve met Daleks less steely than you.”
“I really do hate you, you know.”
“And your brothers are in the middle of a city filled with beautiful, interesting, and very friendly women,” he rubbed his superior powers of deduction in a little further, “I don’t think they’re prisoners at all. I think they’re chatting up girls, and don’t want to be found yet.”
“Chatting up girls?”
He reached up to awkwardly push back at his wayward fringe, and examined his shoe laces. “Yes, I understand that’s what young men often do in situations where they come across attractive women. Especially if they were never told that Time—that we aren’t supposed to be interested in—er—chatting women up.”
“You’ve never exactly had a problem with it, have you?” she smirked and rolled her amber eyes.
“Oi! Me? I do not— I have never—”
“‘I can feel it. The turn of the Earth. The ground beneath our feet spinning at a thousand miles an hour…‘” She affected a Northern burr and yanked at her ears, then her smirk widened into a downright self-satisfied grin. “Or my personal favourite: ‘Right now there’s this plasma storm brewing in the Horsehead Nebula. Fires are burning, ten million miles wide. I could fly the TARDIS right into the heart of it, then ride the shock wave all the way out. Hurtle right across the sky, and end up… anywhere.'” By the end of her monologue she was fighting fits of evil laughter. “‘S like the Time Lord equivalent of tellin’ her you’ve a flash car, an’ offerin’ to show her how fast it goes. You can’t tell me you weren’t tryin’a get off with my mum then.”
“That’s cheating, that is, you little terror. Rose was… different… and she would’ve stayed stuck out of a sense of duty. She needed a push. It’s hardly a chat-up line—”
“It was a chat-up line.”
“You weren’t there. Shut up.”
The teasing look dropped without a trace as she scanned the crowd again, tapping her foot. Torin and Lios chatting up girls? The idea was as foreign as playing nice with the bow-tie-wearing git in front of her. She’d been known to run around with a bloke or bird now and again, but Torin and Lios? Torin’s type was nerdy human – not that he ever went further than a flirt, a friendly cuppa, and a chat – and Li? Well, Lios wouldn’t know what to do with a female of any species if you handed him a manual and visual aids. He was too shy. It was ridiculous to even entertain the idea.
“They’re never chasin’ after women. I know my brothers. They’re jus’ not. You don’t know ’em like I do. They’d explode if pretty girls even talked to ’em. No. Someone’s got ’em an’—”
“Let it go, Alpha. They’re young men. Aren’t you interested in why there are only females as far as the eye can see?”
“Not really, ta.”
“I mean, it’s not right, is it?”
“Really, jus’ want my brothers back ‘s all.”
“Something had to have happened. There had to be a catalyst.”
“You stopped listenin’ to me before you even started talkin’, didn’t you.”
“What could make a society, which once held entire festivals devoted to love and mating, suddenly split in two?”
“Oh, Lord!” she exclaimed in a sudden panic. “We should get Jack. He’s probably right pissed. We didn’t know ’bout the drinkin’.”
“It had to have been of enormous significance! I mean, they call the eviction of every female from the inner cities ‘The Great Purge!’ That’s a bit harsh, don’t you think?” He started to pace in the narrow alleyway. “Says something about the attitude of it all. I mean, why not ‘The Great Separation’ or ‘The Great Divide?’ No, they call it the ‘Purge,’ like women are evil, or corrupt, or somehow less than desirable — and they’ve never even met you.”
“Very, extremely not nice, and not at all like the society I recall.”
“Maybe they were miffed after their queen person went mental,” she threw out casually, trying not to let him bait her with his goading.
“What?” He stopped pacing and stared at her intently. “What was that? Repeat that last thing you said.”
“Welcome back then,” she smirked. “I said, maybe, after the old queen went completely mental an’ killed half her people, they quite likely got a bit put out, an’ did somethin’ drastic. Try readin’ a bit before you leave the TARDIS sometime, Bow-tie!” She shook her head in disdainful superiority.
“Oi!” he growled. “I happen to be an expert on all sorts of history! My history-memory is perfect!”
“Yet, you didn’t remember the second biggest disaster in their entire cultural past. Food for thought, ‘s all I’m sayin’.”
“And you call yourself a Ti—… Tell me I don’t have to say it.” Impatience dripping in his voice, he gave her a sceptical look.
She just stared blankly in response.
He sighed when he received no answer. “Time can—”
She smacked herself on the forehead. “Can be re-written, yeah. Point taken, I’m a div. So, the queen goin’ mad might be a symptom rather than the cause.”
“Finally, you’re being clever. What else did you read then?”
“‘S rumoured was her an’ one of us. Dunno who. But there’s no hard evidence one way or the other. Some claim the war machines they built jus’ before all the people got slaughtered, were only possible because one of us came up with ’em. But they were massive an’ did unbelievable damage. They were called The Titans. Death engines. ‘S why they hate us so much. Was more, but tha’s as far as I got before deciding to come after sharpish. I dunno how dangerous these people’re meant to be, but I’m sure I don’t wanna cross ’em an’ find out.”
The Doctor was very still, and seemed to be examining what she’d said very carefully. He didn’t speak for a long time, and when he finally found his voice, it was strained and somehow disconsolate. “I believe I know who it may have been. When was it?”
“Bit over five centuries back from when we are.”
He yanked at his fringe. “Yes… Come along, Tyler. Back to the TARDIS. Time to visit the inner cities, eh?” He grabbed her hand and began pulling her along behind him.
“Oi! Wha’bout Jack an’ my brothers?”
“We’ll collect them on the way, I’m sure.”