They belonged to a couple who looked right at home tangled up as they were. The male shook his head as the female twisted from under him and sent him sprawling, leaping onto the bed, "Lily!" Lilac eyes closed as her friend hugged her tightly.
But hadn’t Ichigo been left behind on Chicago 43? She was sure she remembered…
"Lily?" Ichigo was peering at her. The Doctor took the girl's slender fingers and helped her down from the bed, before looking at what had so interested her. Ichigo pushed forwards again to look closer, her normally open features creased with shock.
At what must have been a questioning glance, the shifter became a round mirror, rimmed with lilac. As The Doctor helped her to sit up, she gazed at the girl who stared back. She barely recognised her. Her hair appeared to have grown beyond her shoulders, and was tinted with orange dust from the moon. Beneath the blue fringe was something much odder though - her eyes, always cobalt blue, were now noticeably different colours, a darker Prussian blue on the right to a green-grey on the left.
She was shaking, she knew, and Ichi's giggles at being held stopped quickly as she reverted, dropping to the bed to hug her friend tightly.
Xantist Kowarth sat at the kitchen table. The mug of hot chocolate she held had long since gone as cold as the tears drying on her cheeks.
It was all supposed to be over. The HOST was gone. Lily, Max and Ichi were back.
But nothing was the same. She didn’t just mean the way all the TARDIS rooms had been shaken up and redistributed in the Doctor’s attempts to enter the void.
When the action was over and the Lady Valeris retrieved them from the other side Xan and the Doctor had taken stock. They were in orbit around Chicago43. That was apparently how Ichigo found them. The Doctor let the ship circle the planet while it recovered from its ordeal.
Truth be told, the crew needed as much recovery.
Xan had found the Kitchen by accident. She’d been here since. Afterall, if you were going to run away, a source of food was as good a place to hide as any.
Ichigo kept hold of Lily’s hand as she guided her through the twisting corridors of the TARDIS. The walls that once were polished wood or stone carved in roundels now seemed weathered to a sort of coral. Where roundels once sat temporary spot lights glittered in serried rows. Bits of stone and wood still littered the floor. Lily was silent on the journey to the console room but the shock of what she saw there forced a gasp.
“To get you back we had to cross, well a boundary in reality.” The Doctor began to explain calmly as he crossed to the console. “The old girl’s not built for that sort of thing I’m afraid. We lost architectural configuration pretty early on. I’ve been making running repairs and I’m pretty sure we haven’t lost anything permanently, I just don’t have a clue where anything’s gone.”
Lily looked around her. Where once the console room was a warehouse like living space with bays off to the side and a balcony containing the library now it was a domed room. The steel supports, like the walls, were flecked with beige stone that seemed warm to the touch. The elegant parquet floor was gone, metal plate belying the route the console took to the heart of the vessel below.
Even the console itself was not immune, whole panels destroyed with odds and ends hastily stuck in their place. The overhead monitors were gone, one of the heavy tv boxes rested against the most badly damaged console panel.
“Looks like I’m not the only one to wake up without knowing who I am. Can you repair it?”
“Given time, yes I imagine I can. There’s a secondary control room about somewhere still. But like all the others it’s going to be a matter of searching it out.” He sighed and rolled up his sleeves before plunging himself back to work.
“Could all this – I mean, could it be related to what’s happened to Lily?” Ichigo asked quietly.
“Oh I shouldn’t think so for a moment. Well, that is I suppose it might be related to the reality parallel but I doubt its anything to do with the effect on the TARDIS herself.” he straightened up and fixed the girls with a stare.
“If you’re feeling up to it, we need to start map making, find the important rooms like the kitchen, the wardrobe, the bathroom, the bedrooms. And who knows you might turn up Max and Xan on the way.”
“You’ve lost Max and Xan?” Lily wondered.
“No they’re in here somewhere.”
“They’re probably together.” Lily smiled
“I wouldn’t count on that.” The Dr replied darkly as he returned to the console. Ichigo walked past him to where a leather school satchel was hung over the railing that now edged the console dais. She handed the pad and pencils she retrieved to Lily.
“You’re the artist, I’ll explain on the way.”
“When they found you Max had set off a bomb, or lots of bombs, I’m still not sure about that.” Ichi began. She opened the first door she came too; it was a cupboard with a large collection of plastic trolls inside. The two girls shook their heads and moved on. “He’d tied you up, probably because he thought you were still part of the HOST. We don’t think he’d noticed you were covered with burning rock, how’s your back by the way?”
“Er, I haven’t noticed anything.”
“Good, that’s good. Yeah so the Doctor brought you in while Xan pulled max back. You were out of it, still were when I got back. Max. Well, we aren’t too sure what’s happened to him.” she opened the next door. The inside was dark and the girls walked carefully as they entered. There was a smell of sweetness in the air and Ichi giggled as the lights rose. The walls were pink and a vast curtained bed loomed out at them. Rows of sweet jars and honey pots lined one wall and knickers seemed to be a feature of the floor.
“This’ll be your room then?” Lily guessed. Ichi just removed one of the smaller bottles of syrup and continued her tale as she walked, sucking syrup from her fingers along the way.
“He was a bit catatonic. You ever see the Mckowitch movies? Like him y’know”
“Anyway, it frightened Xan. For a while he wouldn’t say anything. Then he started on about hallucinations and ghosts. He seems to think he’s dead.”
“And where was he last?”
“In the console room, with Xan. They both vanished yesterday.”
“Maybe he’s better?”
Ichigo didn’t reply, nodding at the next door that they already knew was lily’s room.
Max sat against his headboard. The room was dark as he glowered at the doorway. Even when the door opened his face didn’t change. He barely noticed the touch of slim fingers on his shoulder. Didn’t register the chatter of voices.
“Maybe I’m wrong.,” he said suddenly, startling Ichigo.
“Wrong about what Max?” Lily asked quietly
“Maybe you aren’t ghosts.”
“No max, we aren’t Ghosts.”
“Ah, then I must be the ghost. Nothing could survive that.” he rolled over away from them. Ichi took Lily’s arm and urged her from the room.
“That’s probably the most he’s said in ages. Wouldn’t talk too anyone, only at them before.”
“Maybe he’s getting better. I did.” Lily replied wistfully staring at the door.
“Did you?” Ichigo asked. Lily was surprised at her friend’s tone.
“Course I did.” She pirouetted on the spot and smiled. “All in one piece and I still remember all the words to ‘the sally gardens’ so it must be me.”
“And the hair, with that copper tint. Or the eyes what about your eyes?”
“You heard the Doctor, chromatic reaction to extreme stimulus.”
“You didn’t pay much attention in biology classes did you.”
“He made it up?”
“He made it up.”
“Then what did happen to my eyes?”
“If he knew he’d have told you. I think.” Ichi replied wandering off. “Looks like I found the boot cupboard!” she called back over her shoulder as Lily hurried to catch up.
Across from the wardrobe, on the other side of the bins they finally discovered the kitchen. With a cry of “Kitten!” Lily ran to hug Xan. “It’s been so long.”
Xan blinked in surprise as Lily held her in a Siabarian welcome. That was nothing to seeing what had happened to her eyes. Xan shivered as she recognised her lost sister in her friend’s features.
“What are you doing hiding in here?”
“You’ve not seen him then?”
“Max, yeah we saw him didn’t we Ichigo.”
“He, er, he spoke to Lily.” Ichi piped up from her place by the sugar bowl. Xan frowned.
“Yeah, nothing much, reckons he’s a ghost or..” Xan grabbed the girl’s wrist and swung her back, desperately searching her face for the truth.
“This isn’t one of your games?”
“What. No Xan, would I lie to you?”
“i. I don’t know.” Xan bowed her head to the table and the tears started again.
“Is it the eyes? Not sure she’s real, I get that all the time, but then being a shapeshifter I spose”
“Shut up Ichi!” Lily hissed at her friend. The girl tossed her head and sat down on the table with her back to the others. “Xan?”
“Ichi’s right, perhaps it is the eyes, you remind me of Miko.”
“Well.” Lily barked an unfamiliar laugh “who else would I remind you of?” Xan looked up convinced her sister had spoken. The eyes she met weren’t right though a black sheen glittering over them for a moment.
“Faro perhaps?” the Wolfgirl suggested. She watched Lily blink. A hand flew to her mouth and the girl ran from the room. Ichigo stared after her. “What was that all about?”
“I have a feeling it’s a long story, we better get after her.”
Lily had made it to the Console room in one rapid run. At first the doctor was nowhere to be seen but presently his tousled head appeared from under a floor plate.
“What’s up lily?” he beamed at her, wiping his oily hands on an equally oily rag.
“I’m so sorry.”
“Why, what’s happened?”
“For shouting at you, for running, for everything.”
“Would you be surprised if I told you, I haven’t the first idea what you’re talking about?” he fixed her with his most charming smile and dazzled her with those so very blue eyes of his..
When Xan and Ichigo caught up to their friend they were rather startled to see her staring open mouthed at a hole in the floor. The Doctor stood behind her with one broad hand over her head. As they watched he shuddered and stepped backward, catching and easing Lily to the floor as she toppled towards him.
“Well, that explains a lot.”
“Lily’s not alone in there.” He sighed, tapping his own temple, leaving a greasy smear. “I’m not sure how or why, or even if, for certain. But think there’s a good chance whatever parts of her make up were once Faro and Karisma have started to emerge. She came in here to apologise for shouting at me before Faro was taken.”
“Can we stop it?” Ichi asked
“Should we stop it?” Xan countered
“I haven’t the first idea.” The timelord admitted. “I can probably teach her a few methods of calming herself, possibly allow one of the three personalities in there to take dominance.”
“That’s not a good idea, if it’s a battle for dominance Miko is bound to win.” Xan grumbled. “No wonder Max spoke to her, they’re both mad.”
“Well Max would have.. Wait a second, Max spoke to Lily?” the Doctor frowned
“Yeah, in his room. Wouldn’t listen to me though.” Ichi reported
“Well, then things are looking up!” the Doctor laughed and searched about him, pulling a black velvet housecoat from under a toolbox. There was a large stain on the breast pocket but it was in better condition than his green coat. “Ichi I want you to think carefully, did they say anything unusual?”
“They were talking about ghosts..”
“No not subject, it would only have to be a word.”
“She called him Max. Usually she calls him Da.”
“Perfect! We might have a way to help both of them in no time at all. Well, in the time it takes to wake up Lily again.”
The only noise in Max’s room was his breathing. That was probably why Lily’s footsteps sounded so loud as she walked to sit next to his huddled form. When he paid her no attention she moved to lie in front of him and ran her fingers along his cheek.
“Hey?” she tried but he just stared at her. She swallowed hard; this wasn’t going to work. “The Doctor wants us to talk. Xan misses you.”
“I didn’t know you could miss ghosts”
“Yes you did.” The change in Lily was so subtle she would never have noticed it without being forewarned. Her voice had deepened a shade; her eyes regained that dark sheen. “Don’t you remember, you told me about the girl in the park. How did it go? You were left behind?”
“I was a boy. Chris was a newborn. Mum was busy with the pushchair. She went off talking while I played in the park. I never even noticed her go. When I realised I was alone I panicked. I was just on the verge of tears when an older girl took my hand and we played some more. It was late, as sunset came she said she had to go. And she melted in to the sun. That was when mum came back.”
“And didn’t you tell me you looked for that girl every time you went to the park?”
“Even when I was 20.” Max smiled at the memory “faro told me it was…” he looked up from his fixed stare and saw the girl in front of him properly for the first time.
“You. Lily it was you.”
She didn’t expect his embrace to be quite so passionate. But she surrendered to it just in case. His steady breathing matched hers and she started to doze in the warmth of his arms.
“Is he ok?” a soft voice purred from the edge of the bed
Max had been unaware of the time for what seemed like an eternity until he heard that voice. The voice had wrung out to him before, in the midst of his pain. Now here it was again, more solid and substantial than before. He rolled towards it, releasing Lily from his grip. He was crying as her eyes peered at him, her jeans brushing his back as he rolled against them. Then she whispered again ‘I love you max please don’t be angry anymore’
He dragged her down to the bed with him and they sobbed themselves to sleep.
Lily eased herself out of the room and propped herself against the door. She panted hard and shook herself, glancing down she noticed her dress was still mottled with dust. She had to find her room, change and maybe ease the tension she felt in her belly as well.
Thoughts both familiar and entirely alien to her were racing through her brain, and a scent she’d never noticed before but she was sure had always been there.
“You ok?” Ichi asked as she stepped from the boot cupboard.
“I.. don’t know.”
“Wanna talk about it?”
“No. I want a bath, a change and.. Oh I don’t know what I want.” She sighed, squirming her thighs together as she stretched away from the wall.
“Well, I can probably help you with some of those, I’m an expert in I don’t know what.” Ichi giggled, stroking her friend’s arm. Lily noticed the shifter had oily marks all over her blouse and jeans. “And, I found the bathroom.”
“Lead on Miss Muffin” Lily laughed.