Holding On

Hold On

River figured out what was going on a fraction of a second before her daughter. They looked at each other before heading back to the TARDIS, where the older woman phoned the Doctor.

"Don't raise your voice, don't look alarmed… just listen." River said as calmly as she could. "They're not real. They can't be. They're all right here in the story book; those actual Romans. The ones I sent you… the ones you're with right now. Evie… that one." She muttered, pointing to a wire on the ground beside the teenager.

"I know!" Evie muttered under her breath, picking up the wire and threading it carefully into a hole in the glass platform of the TARDIS. Then she went down the stairs and pulled it through from underneath, plugging it back into its correct position.

"They're all in a book in Amy's house; a children's picture book… It doesn't matter, the TARDIS went wrong. Doctor, how is this possible?"

Evie hurriedly fiddled around with all the plugs in the bottom of the TARDIS's console room, making sure that everything was in the right place and ready for action. She couldn't understand how they'd got here. Something had affected the time machine, but to look at everything was perfect.

She climbed back up the stairs to the main section of the room, circling the console checking for any problems. She couldn't see a single thing that could have caused the TARDIS to malfunction like it had.

"But how?" River asked, still talking to the Doctor. Evie knew better than to interrupt to ask what was happening. She would just have to wait patiently; something she found difficult. "Yes… err… th-there's burn marks on the grass outside; landing patterns… Doctor, who are those Romans?"

Evie's eyes were still roving around looking for anything out of the ordinary. Her eyes settled on the scanner screen. Her heart sank. How could she have missed it before? There was a large crack on the display; exactly the same shape as the ones she'd seen before all over the universe. The Ood's words sounded in her mind, 'Keep your eyes on the cracks.'

"Mum…" She whispered, not caring that the Doctor might hear how she was addressing the woman. The teenager kept her eyes focusing on the crack on the screen, terrified of looking away.

"But they were helping us! My lipstick even worked." She obviously hadn't heard her daughter's pleas, or had chosen to ignore them.

"Seriously, Mum…" Evie repeated, not daring to remove her gaze from the crack.

"Hang on, Sweetie…" River told her in a distracted voice. "Doctor… that centurion. It's a trap, it has to be! They used Amy to construct a scenario you'd believe, to get close to you."

Evie glanced away from the crack for a split second, desperate to catch her mother's attention. As she did so there was a shower of sparks from the console and River cried out. The teenager leapt towards the scanner, putting her hands on the crack as though she could pull it closed. Then she moved to the controls, trying to help bring it back to normal instead of screeching and rocking as it was at the moment.

"River? River? River, what's happening?" The Doctor demanded, through the phone. Evie could hear his words as she tried to pull a lever back into its correct position. For some reason it wouldn't move.

"I don't know!" The woman shouted, grabbing the receiver and jamming it to her ear as she moved around the console moving her fingers quickly over the controls. "It's the engines."

"I was trying to tell you!" Evie shouted, still trying to move the lever. She had one foot up on the console and was pulling it as hard as she could. "The crack on the scanner; the Ood warned me. 'Keep your eyes on the cracks'."

"What?" River breathed, staring at her in confusion. "I haven't got time for this now, Evie. Doctor, there's something wrong with the TARDIS… like something else is controlling it."

Frustrated, Evie gave one final, monumental tug and the lever sank into position with another shower of sparks and a massive jolt. The teenager fell to the floor, breathing heavily for a moment before jumping back onto her feet. The rocking and whirring noise had stopped suddenly as the lever moved into place and Evie looked around, suddenly nervous.

"I'm flying it perfectly!" Her mother snapped into the phone. "You taught me. It's the 26th June 2010."

Something registered in the teenager's mind as she heard the date read out. She looked at her mother and the message seemed to flicker between them wordlessly. Something was very, very wrong and they needed to leave.

"I can't break free… I can't!" River shrieked still fiddling with the controls.

Evie was back on the case as well, twisting dials and pressing buttons as though her life depended on it; which it probably did. She turned away and caught sight of some kind of countdown on the scanner display and stopped, her eyebrows furrowing as she pulled it towards her. It was at 20.

"Time is counting down." That had been the second thing the Ood had said to her in the garden. As the number changed, Evie's heart missed a beat. 19.

"Mum!" She screamed, terrified. "We have to get out of here."

"What d'you think I'm trying to do?" River bellowed back, equally scared. Rubbing her eyes furiously something caught the teenager's attention and made her smile, for the first time in so long.


"What?" The woman snapped. The girl raised her wrist, pointing at her Vortex Manipulator. "Oh you clever girl." River exclaimed, her face breaking into a smile.

Their smiles soon dropped from their faces when they realised that the device was completely dead. The power had been drained from it making it totally useless. Feeling as though all their hope had been snatched away both women sighed. River squeezed Evie's arm tightly, assuring her that she didn't blame her at all.

The teenager couldn't share her mother's views. If she'd checked the device on her wrist before alerting River to the possibility that they could escape then it would just have been her who was now bitterly disappointed, rather than both of them.

"Silence will fall." A voice said, echoing around the TARDIS. River lowered the phone which she had replaced between her ear and her shoulder, her mouth dropping open. Evie started breathing short, fast, shallow breaths, tears building in her eyes. Her mother held out her hand as the phrase was repeated and the teenager ran to her, burying her face in River's hair. River clamped one arm tightly around the girl, planting a kiss on the top of her head.

After a couple of moments, River gently disentangled herself from Evie and flicked some switches on the console. The rocking and shaking had mostly stopped now. "Someone else is flying it; an external force. I've lost control." She murmured into the receiver.

Evie's mind had moved back to the Ood's words and she drifted away from her mother to look at the scanner screen. The countdown had reached 6. She was staring at it, almost in a trance. The Ood had said something else, but Evie couldn't remember what that had been. 'Keep your eyes on the cracks, Evie. Time is counting down.' But what was the last thing!

River was beginning to feel desperate. She couldn't see a way out of this. "It's not safe!" Using the last little bit of her strength she pushed the starting handle all the way back up to its resting position, letting out a sigh of relief as she managed it. "Doctor, I'm down. I've landed… I'm going!"

She ran for the doors, grabbing the teenager by the arm as she went and dragging her along. Evie's mind was still fixed on trying to remember what the Ood had said. She was sure that it was important, but she just couldn't think.

The doors were stuck. River growled as she tried her best to open them but to no avail. Thinking quickly she sprinted back to the phone, jamming it between her ear and her shoulder and thinking fast.

"Doctor, Doctor! I can't open the doors!" River shouted into the phone. There was no reply, something which made the woman's heart sink. She was alone in the TARDIS with her daughter and she couldn't see a way out for either of them.

Evie ran back the scanner, roughly dragging it round so that she could see the numbers. She let out a slight sob as she saw that the countdown had now reached 2. What would happen when it reached 0?

She was suddenly aware that her mother was racing around doing everything she could think of to keep the sparking and screeching time machine under control. Refusing to let her battle this alone, the teenager pulled herself together and leapt to her side, moving frantically around the console.

River, refusing to give up on her Doctor begged him to answer. "Doctor! I can't open the doors! Doctor, please, we've got seconds!"

Then she let out a slight sob and dropped the receiver. Knowing that it was their last chance, she quickly tried to work out how to get the doors open. Taking both ends of a thick pipe, she plunged them together, causing a massive jolt of energy which caused the console to spark even more. Evie threw her several plugs, which she fixed to the end of the pipe. The teenager joined a pair of large clips onto the end of the wire and watched as her mother wound a handle, shooting a last desperate look at the console and leapt for the doors. Evie glanced at the countdown as she followed: 1.

River threw open the doors ready to leap out as the machine rumbled and sparked behind her. Evie cried out as she realised why her mother had stopped dead in the doorway. It was completely blocked by a massive stone slab; there was no way out.

"I'm sorry, my love." River said, before glancing back over her shoulder at her daughter, tears falling down her cheeks. As their eyes met there was a massive explosion behind them and Evie guessed that the countdown must have reached zero. She reached out to hug her mother but the teenager seemed to be being dragged backwards away from River, into the very heart of the explosion. Evie screamed.

Then she remembered the last words the Ood had said; 'Hold on.'

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