We landed in a park, bit of breeze, nothing unusual on the scanners.
Rose said she wanted to go and get something called American idiot. At first I thought she was having a dig at me, what with the accent. But the Doctor explained that it was an album.
To this day I don’t know where we were, outside of Earth. The high street was narrow and pretty Old World so I’d bet on England, probably the south. Rose found her album and we were headed back down towards the park when the wristcomp bleeped at me.
It was a split second decision.
I ran for the source of the disturbance as one of the windows ahead-exploded outwards with a fury of orange sparks. At its centre was a girl. I pulled her from the shrapnel and pushed her blonde hair from her face.
I’d seen this girl before. As Rose caught up I could hear her gasp the girls name.
“This is bad, very bad” The doctor peered around him at the mass of unconscious people. He moved to them individually, checking them over and calling occasionally for help or a cloth. Xan kept him supplied with what she could salvage.
The pretty Siabarian was at a loss. She’d heard the story of the entity that had killed her sister. But to finally meet it in the form of her best friend was more than confusing.
Max and Ichi had gone after her, it, whatever. The Doctor insisted on tending to the wounded. He had this idea that someone here might be important, a keystone figure that would make a difference to the HOSTs plans.
Xan helped up a rather fragile looking gentleman who grumbled gruffly about having seen worse.
“Bloody terrorists, think they can just waltz in and do what they like. Well not if I have anything to say about it.”
“What makes you think you have anything to say that this particular, ah, terrorist, might listen to?” The Doctor asked him, his tone suggesting that this man may well be the one he expected to find.
“Since I left the RAF things have just gone downhill. Well I’m fed up of it. Just you wait till I get my hands on those ruffians!” he exclaimed and stormed out as best he could. Xan started after him but the Doctor held her back. “Let him go, I’m sure there’s something I’m missing here..”
Across the little high street The Doctor scratched at his chin in consternation.
“What’s up? What’s Lily doing here?” Rose asked him.
“This is very bad. I think. Er I think she’s with me. I hate when this happens.”
“There’s another of you here?” Jack frowned, now equally concerned.
“Yep. And you know what that means.”
“That means its bad, right?” Jack nodded. “Should I take the girl back to the TARDIS?”
“I honestly don’t know. In this sort of instance I can’t remember what I did because it’s already happening to me at the same time so it hasn’t yet happened for me to remember it”
“Yeah right.” Rose snorted. “Shouldn’t we worry about lily?”
“Not till her eyes change colour.” The tall man nodded. He started rooting about in his leather jacket trying to find something.
“Er Doctor?” Jack started, nodding to the eyelid he’d prised open. Lily’s eye broiled with orange flame as though the pupil were on fire.
“It really is bad isn’t it.” Rose gasped.
“There’s something I have to do.” The Doctor decided and ran for the park. Rose ran after him with a cry of wait.
I hated it when he did things like that. I mean, sure I’ve been left holding the girl a few times before but.
Anyway. I decided to follow my original plan and carry Lily back to the TARDIS. Hopefully whatever it was the Doctor had to do didn’t involve taking the ship away.
I hadn’t gone far when I felt a firm hand on my shoulder.
“Hold on you, what do you think you’re up to?” I thought I recognised the tone and was prepared to ‘co operate’
“This girls been hurt, I was taking her to a Dr” I turned with the action to face a man I was sure I recognised from somewhere. He was about the same height as me, goateed with a splash of grey at either temple. He looked like he hadn’t slept for a week. He certainly wasn’t the cop I was expecting, even in the weird high collared uniform.
“I’m sure you are. She happens to be a relative mine, in a manner of speaking. Now put her down. I’ll look after her.”
“Could I see some identification?” I asked. This girl had saved me in a way. I wasn’t about to hand her over to any old loony. Oddly, he agreed and pulled a crumpled photograph from his jacket. It was a wedding photo, in which he was the groom. Lily was a bridesmaid.
“My name is Maxwell Kowarth, Ms Yeats Wood there is my er.. Ward” his eyes dropped from mine as he explained.
“Then you won’t have any objection to my taking her back to the TARDIS then?” he looked up sharply and I had guessed right, this must be one of the Drs previous companions.
“How do you know..” an excited female voice interrupted him by calling my name.
The vision in strawberry blonde that was Ichigo Muffin ran up to us, her wide lilac eyes taking in the scene.
“Hey Max, you found her, and Jack too.”
“Is that who this is?” Max groaned.
“Am I that bad?” I tried to break the ice. Mr Kowarth stared at me with the sort of dead eyes I would expect from a firing squad.
“Not you no. But we have a situation here and Two doctors in the same place may complicate matters completely. I think your right, let’s get back to the TARDIS.”
With a whine the sonic screwdriver undid the edge of the door that had collapsed over a waitress. Xan and one of the other patrons of the teashop that the HOST had destroyed lifted the door away for the Doctor to get closer to the woman.
“She’ll be fine, as far as I can tell.” He muttered standing and closing the screwdriver. He tapped it thoughtfully against his chin. “You know one day I should work on integrating a medical scanner onto this thing.” He dropped it into his trouser pocket and pinched the bridge of his nose. What a shake of his chestnut curls he brought himself back to matters in hand.
“Is that everyone?”
“I think so.” Xan admitted.
“Right, nothing obvious there, perhaps it was getting used to its new powers afterall.”
“Which means it could try again?”
“Precisely. Where’s Max?”
“He went after Lily.”
“Ah. And Ichigo?”
“She went after Max.”
“I think we better find them all first.”
“Hey, slow down a minute, where we going then?” Rose tried to get her friends attention but his angular body strode ahead of her into the park.
“Look don’t shut me out, what’s going on here?” she finally cornered him outside a police box, holding his wrist to stop the key reaching the lock. “You’re shaking. Doctor?”
He didn’t look at her first. His jaw was clenched; his eyes set firmly on the lock. But he didn’t press her to move her hand. He was strong enough, she knew that. She ducked her head into his vision and he finally noticed her, his features crumbling with the pain of the admission that followed
“This is where it starts Rose. What happens today? It’s the path to the time war.”
“And we better get out of here right? What about Jack?”
“We’ll get him. I have something to do first.” He shrugged her hand away and opened the doors. Rose stepped in after him, taking in the brass and wood floor, the polished rail, the burnt and steaming monitor that hung by a thread from the roof. The log fire in the book lined study. The mezzanine floor with even more tomes in bookcases. The kitchen.
“…Hell happened in here?” Max asked as he stared around the console room. The roof supports in weathered coral and the console burning with dark green light.
“What do you mean?”
“Looks like a bombs gone off.”
“I don’t think you’re supposed to know the future.” Jack muttered as he lay Lily on the flight chair.
“Doesn’t matter anyway. At least we know the HOST has less affect inside the TARDIS.”
“How do you know that?” Ichi asked bemusedly. “You’ve not done anything to check”
“Lily’s are eyes are normal again.” Max snapped. “I’m going to find the Doctor.”
“Doesn’t matter, either” he turned and jogged out of the room. Jack stood up from his examination of Lily.
“He was right about the eyes.”
“But how did he know?” Ichigo wondered to herself. The captain and the shapeshifter stood in silence for nearly a whole minute before she started showering him with kisses.
“We. Mm we should be mm be watching mm unf Lily.”
“You heard Max, she’s ok in here.”
“What if we wake her?”
“She won’t join in, she’s saving herself.”
“That’s mmung not what I meant.” Ichigo squirmed against the Captain’s jeans and grinned.
“You wouldn’t say no would you. Here, let me make it easier for you.” By the end of the sentence Ichigo had taken on Lily’s form. “Come on Lover, let’s find a quiet room.”
Max was most of the way back to the TARDIS he arrived in when an elderly gentleman in a flannel suit accosted him.
“Young man, I want a word with you. I saw you chase after that terrorist and I should warn you that if you think we’re going…”
“Sorry sir, can’t stop. I have to find the Doctor.”
“You’ll need more than a Doctor when I’m finished with you.”
Rose hadn’t moved from the doorway as The Doctor made some subtle adjustments to the controls of this other TARDIS.
“What are you doing?”
“Setting some co-ordinates.”
“Hang on, this is what the TARDIS used to be, right?”
“So you’re changing the past, right. What if them reaper things turn up.”
“Chronovores will have a lot more to do if I don’t set this. When I get back here I have to leave in a hurry. I just want to make sure I get where I went.”
“Shouldn’t we leave, you might be back any second.” She watched the Doctor stroke the polished wood of the console fondly and nod.
I thought I heard something, but stupidly I put it down to the bedsprings. Later we realised that Lily, or whatever was in Lily’s body, had woken up. It had tried to interact with the TARDIS and been rejected. The Doctor must have prepared for that sort of thing with the War and all. Anyway, when Ichi and I got there she was gone, the console was smoking and The Doctor was shouting like it was my fault. And I supposed it was. I’d forgotten at just the wrong time not to judge by appearances. With her eyes closed Lily seemed fine.
How wrong I was.
The Doctor ran for the screaming in the Park. Xantist Kowarth close behind. The children there had huddled amongst the climbing frame as the burning lady hovered above them. Amongst then the small boy who had watched the TARDIS arrive earlier in the day. His mother had dragged him behind a bench but he was trapped in the restraint of his pushchair.
Trapped was the word, the eyes of the creature that was once Lily Yeats Wood turned to lock with his. It smiled.
Everything happened at once. The Doctor and Xan screeched to halt with a cry at the site of Lily floating on a broiling carpet of orange flame. Across from them Max and the retired Pilot tried to distract her attention from the child.
Behind her The Doctor and Rose ran towards the action, Jack and Ichi follow in their wake.
Ahead of her the pushchair lifted into the air as she raised her arm. The mother screamed the other children in the park already weeping. Below her the ground swirled open in an orange vortex. Rose recognised the portal from Edinburgh and tried to hold Jack back as he ran forward. He shrugged her off, lily wasn’t his target.
Max had acted without thinking. He’d leapt for the pushchair, hanging from it and trying to drag it back to the ground. The elderly gent moved to help him and was incinerated in a blast of orange flame destined for Max.
Jack barely dodged the shrapnel as he dived to tackle Max, dragging both him and the pushchair down to the ground with the force of his impact.
Xan screamed her husbands name and the not lily threw a pillar of flame in her direction.
Max struggled free of Jacks grip.
“It’s not taking anyone else. Never again.”
“It’ll kill you.”
“Then send flowers.” Max snapped. Jack felt the punch connect with his temple and was surprised at the force of the blow. He fell over the pushchair and turned in time to see Max leap murderously towards the hanging teenager in front of them. Their combined weight pulled the struggling figures down, the vortex below them closing over their falling forms.
A rather attractive fella helped me up with a shock of chestnut hair. He seemed very familiar but I would have recognised someone with those cheekbones.
“Well done, you’ve managed to save this young man’s life and very possibly those of everyone else you’ll ever meet.”
“Not everyone.” I told him, still staring at the scorched earth where Ichigo’s friends had been moments before. I looked around for the shifter but there was no sign of her. The pretty Wolfgirl I’d seen in Lily’s photographs at school was nearby, weeping. I recalled that she was Kowarth’s wife. Widow might be more apt. Rose was by my side shortly afterward, arms holding me and tears staining my shirt. The Doctor just stood there, a haunted look on his face.
“Let’s have a look at you eh?” the other man was talking to the child in the pushchair. The child giggled. “I see. Well that makes sense.” The man stood and waved at the child’s mother to take the poor lad away. Then he turned and locked eyes with the Doctor. I saw the look pass between them, almost solid in the force of its blow. The Doctor nodded and turned away.
“Hey, we can’t just leave!” I called after him. Rose bit her lip.
“Thank you for your help. I look forward to getting to know you next time, but leave it to us now.” The other man said
“What?” I managed in my confusion but he was already leading the Wolfgirl away. “What’s going on? Who are you?”
“That’s the Doctor, a younger one.” Rose explained.
“Oh.” I watched them wander mournfully to the shade and heard the roar of TARDIS engines as Rose led me back to our own.
“We can’t just go, people have died.” And if we stay they’re only going to blame us I thought. “The Doctor’s friends have died, that poor girl.” My voice tailed off as we returned to The Doctor’s side.
“Don’t judge by appearances.” The time lord muttered and slammed the controls into life before he walked off into the depths of the TARDIS.