Children of Time and Space, Series 3

Six: TRIPLE Crash

Imago animi vultus est, indices oculi. (The face is the image of the soul, and the eyes mark her intentions.) – Cicero

Two days of unscrewing, sonic cutting and copious amounts of ripping/weeding wiring out, and the console room actually looked like it used to, golden brown and green, shimmering like an undersea cavern. It had also been the first days of Martha's life as the recipient of the Professor's variant of pop-quizzing, something which apparently was done amongst Antarians to trigger the knowledge of your past reincarnations. The lesson had been TARDIS knowledge, and Gallifreyan language…

"Professor, can we please take a break? I still don't get Gallifreyan," she begged, the head buzzing.

"Then how come you just answered me perfectly in New High?" the older Time Lady snickered.

"I just… Oh my god," Martha gasped, finally switching to English again. "So that's why? All I have to do is become aware of the knowledge?"

"Yep. Got a really long list of annoying questions for you for the next few months," she grinned. "When I'm finished with you, you will be able to perform surgeries on him. Not to mention graduate top of your class."

"Nice."

Suddenly, the Professor's Chronos Controller beeped. "Ah. Looks like Jack decided to call me after all. I think you two can manage to take her for a test drive alone, can't you."

"We'll see you later," the Doctor nodded, waving after her as she left. The door fell closed behind his mother, and he smiled. "Let's take her for a spin. Just a quick trip through the vortex – materialise in the vortex, land someplace in the past, get back."

"Sure."

Just after he pulled the handbrake, the TARDIS spun out of control, throwing both of them into the captain's chair, a klaxon sounding. He struggled back to the controls, turning off the alert and stopping the shaking. "Stop that! Stop it!" he scolded. "What was that all about, eh?" He knocked on the Time Rotor column. "Eh? What's your problem?" Oh, hadn't having an avatar module been a treat.

Martha finally managed to get back on her feet and got out of the Doctor's way – while it was no problem for her helping him with his TARDIS now, the most knowledge she had on the subject was about Type 35, which had been The Surgeon's vessel of choice, a type known for being rather quiet in workings and personality, nothing like the mad, cloudcuckoolanderish Type 40 or Type 23 AT her fiancé and his mother flew. Also, like the Professor's, it was designed for a single pilot. While the Doctor rushed around the console, she noticed another man working his way in the opposite direction, on direct collision course…

Said man was dressed in a cream white frock coat, an outfit which seemed to be directly from a cricket team locker room and a white panama hat, and looked a little older than the Doctor, physically speaking… "Right, just settle down, now…" he muttered, speaking to the TARDIS as well.

Just then, the two men bumped into each other, and it clicked for Martha. Oh dear. I am having two Doctors in front of me! Let's see… If I remember it right, it's the Fifth Doctor. And realising that, she knew already she couldn't say a thing before the younger regeneration of the Doctor left for his own time. Yep. Version 5. Wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey. Oh Omega.

"Excuse me…" the Tenth apologised, not quite noticing his younger self yet.

"So sorry," the Fifth gave back as the Tenth got around him…

And then, the Tenth finally saw who he had bumped into. "What?"

"What?" the Fifth was more than just a little shocked to see the strange, thin Time Lord dressed in a blue pinstripe suit in his console room.

"What?" They stood nose to nose.

"Who are you two?" the Fifth demanded, noticing Martha leaning against a coral column. A Scaltata and a Lungbarrow?

Unfortunately, that triggered only the Tenth's exuberant enthusiasm. "Aw, brilliant! I mean, totally wrong, big emergency, universe goes bang in five minutes, but… brilliant!" he grinned.

"I'm the Doctor, who are you?" the Fifth demanded angrily.

"Yes, you are, you are the Doctor," the current one gushed, still grinning.

"Yes, I am, I'm the Doctor." The younger version was getting exasperated by now.

"Oh, good for you, Doctor. Good for brilliant old you." The Tenth was still very much chuffed.

"Is there something wrong with you?" Fifth frowned.

"Ooo, there it goes, the frowny face! I remember that one!" the Tenth grinned, pointing at the younger Doctor. "Mind you…" he grabbed the Fifth by the face and squished his cheeks, then ruffled his sideburns, "bit saggier than it ought to be, hair's a bit greyer. That's 'cause of me, though. Two of us together has shorted out the time differential, should all snap back in place when we get you home." Stepping back and pressing a few buttons, he grabbed the jacket of his younger self. "Be able to close that coat again. But never mind that, look at you! The hat, the coat, the crickety cricket stuff, the… stick of celery, yeah…"

Martha did a double take at that, and surely enough, the Fifth wore a frickin' stick of celery pinned to his lapel. Lol. I wish I had some popcorn; he's said he always has trouble when meeting himself. And given my Theta's model, it's gonna be worse!

"Brave choice, celery, but fair play to you, not a lot of men can carry off a decorative vegetable." The Tenth's grin faded a little – he still couldn't wrap his mind around what had made him pin a stick of soup ingredients to his jacket back then. Probably encountering the stuff in Castrovalva in post-regenerative trauma ingrained it, ugh.

Obviously hitting a nerve with that, the Fifth gritted his teeth. "Shut. Up!" he hissed, angrily taking off his hat. "There is something very wrong with my TARDIS, and I've got to do something about it very very quickly, and it would help, it really would help, if there wasn't some skinny idiot ranting in my face about every single thing that happens to be in front of him!"

"Oh, okay. Um, sorry. Doctor," 10 answered mutedly, putting his hands into his pockets.

I wonder really how many people in this world call him and the Professor skinny idiots, Martha snickered under her breath. It was just too hilarious.

"Thank. You."

But as the Fifth turned around and exposed his back to the Tenth, the latter couldn't help himself again. "Oh, the back of our head!"

"What?!"

"Sorry, sorry, it's not something you see every day, is it, the back of your own head. Mind you, I can see why you wear a hat… I don't want to seem vain," that earned him another snort from Martha (who remembered the Professor's vanity), "but could you keep that on?"

Frowning again – that other Time Lord really grated on his nerves – Version Five turned around again. "What have you done to my TARDIS? You've changed the desktop theme, haven't you? What's this one? Coral?"

"Well…"

"It's worse than the leopard skin."

At that, the Tenth was more than slightly offended – Coral theme after all meant reaching perfect form, and besides, janayi used it too – but no time to dwell again as his younger self put on a pair of half-moon glasses as he turned back. "Oh, and out they come! The brainy specs! You don't even need them! You just think they make you look a bit clever!" He bounced on his feet.

Brainy Specs. Really. Well, at least on the Tenth, they have another function – they're an 'Action Mode' sign. God, I really, really have trouble keeping it in. I feel like in a comedy revue.

Just then, another klaxon sounded. "That's an alert… Level Five, indicating a temporal collision! It's like… two TARDISes have merged, but there's definitely only one TARDIS present…" Pushing buttons, the Fifth turned off the alert and rushed around the console. Comparatively, the Tenth walked coolly around the other way and leaned on the scanner screen, watching him. "It's like two time zones at war in the heart of the TARDIS… That's a paradox. Could blow a hole in the space-time continuum the size of…" As it was his cue, the older Doctor pushed the scanner into the younger regeneration's way. "Well, actually, the exact size of… Belgium. That's a bit undramatic, isn't it? Belgium?"

Nonchalantly, the Tenth Doctor pulled out his sonic screwdriver and held it into the other Doctor's line of sight. "Need this?"

"No, I'm fine," he declined.

"Oh no, of course," he remembered, performing a rather swishy flipping move with said sonic before pocketing it again. "You mostly went hands free, didn't you, like 'eh, I'm the Doctor, I can save the universe using a kettle and some string. And look at me, I'm wearing a vegetable'." For emphasis on what he thought of the latter, he pulled a grimace. The only thing worse I ever did was after that. I must have been colourblind in my 6th incarnation.

Ticked, the Fifth finally abandoned the console and faced the older Time Lord, nose to nose again. "Who are you?"

"Take a look," 10 answered softly.

"Oh. Oh no."

"Oh, yes."

"You're… oh, no…"

"Here it comes… yeah, yeah, I am…" the Tenth grinned.

Shaking his head in disgust, the Fifth finished, "A fan."

"Yeah… What?" The Tenth Doctor squeaked, not quite believing it as he returned to his spot opposite of the jumpseat.

Beep-beep-beep. "Level ten, now. This is bad. Two minutes to Belgium!"

"What do you mean, a fan? I'm not just a fan, I'm you!" he protested.

"Okay, you're my biggest fan," Five conceded, causing Martha to bite her hand so she wouldn't laugh. "Look, it's perfectly understandable, I go zooming around space and time, saving planets, fighting monsters, and being, well, let's be honest, pretty sort of marvellous…" The Tenth nodded in agreement, smiling.

Oh no. Here he goes, getting a full ego massage. The Professor and I are going to have our work cut out for us with that on our hands.

"So naturally, now and then, people notice me. Start up their little groups. That L.I.N.D.A. lot. Are you one of them?" He stared at the man in pinstripes in pure paranoia. "How did you get in here? Can't have you lot knowing where I live…" he turned down to the console again, much to the annoyance of his older self.

"Listen to me, I'm you. I'm you with a new face," he slapped his cheeks. "Check out this bone structure, Doctor, 'cause one day, you're going to be shaving it," he scolded, sounding eerily like their mother. I just had to add the remark about shaving, hadn't I?

Just then, the dark, ominous sound of the Cloister Bell reverberated through the ship. "The Cloister Bell," the Fifth remarked a little redundantly.

"Yeah, right on time. That's my cue," the Tenth replied, springing into action, but far more relaxed than his younger self.

"In less than a minute, we're going to generate a black hole strong enough to swallow the entire universe!" the younger Doctor yelled, a little panicked.

"Yeah… That's my fault, actually," the Tenth admitted. "I was rebuilding the TARDIS, forgot to put the shields back up. Your TARDIS and my TARDIS… well, the same TARDIS at different points in the same time stream, collided and wurp, there you go, end of the universe, butterfingers. But, don't worry, I know exactly how this all works out. Watch." Exploding into activity, he fiddled with the console. "Venting the thermo-buffer… Roaring the helmic regulator… And just to finish off, let's fry those Ziton crystals."

Horrified at the implicated course of action, the Fifth pulled away the Tenth's hands. "You'll blow up the TARDIS!"

"Only way out." Martha was a little worried at that, but, if anything, she trusted both Doctors.

"Who in Rassilon's name told you that?"

"You told me that!" He hit the final button, causing an almighty explosion, and for just a second, the console room was flooded with white light.

"A supernova and a black hole at the exact same instant…" the Fifth Doctor marvelled.

"Explosion cancels out implosion," the Tenth continued.

"Matter remains constant."

"Brilliant."

"Far too brilliant. I've never met anyone else who could fly the TARDIS like that," he frowned.

"Sorry, mate, you still haven't," the current Doctor shook his head, the memory playing out in his mind. I really suck at recognising my own regenerations. Let's hope the Valeyard abilities I gained will put a stop to that.

"You didn't have time to work all that out. Even I couldn't do it!" the Fifth protested, following the tall, thin Time Lord around the console to where his hat lay.

"I didn't work it out. I didn't have to," the Tenth explained softly.

Suddenly, all of it made sense to the Fifth. Ouch. I've been calling myself a skinny idiot. "You remembered," it dawned on him.

"Because you will remember."

"You remembered being me, watching you doing that… You only knew what to do because I saw you do it."

"Wibbly-wobbley…" the current Doctor began.

"Timey-wimey!" they finished together.

Martha was pretty sure that if she bit any harder into her hand, she would draw blood, especially when the Tenth attempted a high five and not receiving it. Suddenly, the console made another sound, this time however one she recognised. Time Crash is over.

The Tenth Doctor jumped into action again, fiddling with the controls on the stabilization part. "Right! TARDISes are separating. Sorry Doctor, time's up, back to long ago," he called, stopping to look at his younger self again. "Where are you now? Nyssa and Tegan? Cybermen and Mara and Time Lords in funny hats and the Master? Oh, he just showed up again, same as ever."

I recognise these names. Old companions, Martha realised. And you've got some explaining to do, mister!

"Oh, no, really? Does he still have that rubbish beard?" the Fifth wondered.

"No, no beard this time. Well, a wife," the Tenth shrugged, causing the younger Doctor to look rather bewildered.

What seemed rather strange to Martha was the fact that the Fifth didn't seem to be unnerved by mentioning his nemesis, well, until she remembered the Doctor telling her about that time – it was the time he had had to deal with the Master the most. Does it never end? Just then, the Fifth Doctor started to fade.

"Oh. I seem to be off. What can I say? Thank you. Doctor," his voice echoed, distorted by the differences in time.

"Thank you," the Doctor nodded.

"I'm very welcome," he grinned, disappearing.

Noticing that his previous version had forgotten his hat, the Tenth flipped a switch, causing the Fifth to resolidify. "You know," he picked up the headgear and handed it over. "I loved being you. Back when I first started at the very beginning, I was always trying to be old and grumpy and important, like you do when you're young, especially considering what I was. And then I was you. I was all bashing about and playing cricket and my voice going all squeaky when I shouted, I still do that! The voice thing, I got that from you!"

The Fifth smiled and put his hat on. Looks like I will do alright.

"Oh!" the other Time Lord remembered, putting his foot up the console to show his red Chucks. "And the trainers! And…" He put his foot back on the ground and put on the tortoiseshell glasses. "Snap. 'Cause you know what, Doctor? You were my Doctor," he finished, sotto voce.

Still smiling, the Fifth Doctor lifted his hat in farewell. "To days to come." Especially with her.

"All my love to long ago," the 10th replied with a wistful smile.

Martha, having given up the hand-biting, smiled at that, a few tears pricking at her eyes, for she knew in that moment that her Doctor would give nearly everything to be back there… for it meant home still being there… I hope I can give you what you need, Thete, she thought as the Fifth finally disappeared.

"Hm…" He turned to Martha, taking off his glasses. "Thank you for not saying anything."

"I have the knowledge and instincts of a First Rank Intertemporal Class Time Lord Healer-Surgeon in my head, Theta," she answered, but then, she glared at him as she approached the jump seat. "And you've got some explaining to do, mister."

The Doctor sighed and leant against the console. "I think you can figure it out with my uncle's knowledge. Yes, I knew. And for a long time, I had been very curious about the young Scaltata who would travel with my future self."

"You knew me. Just not my name."

"Yes."

"Then why…" She frowned, another prompt making its way to the surface. "Oh Omega, no."

He sighed again. "To my Fifth self, and every other version of me right up to number eight, the idea of travelling with another Time Lady would not have meant much; after all, my 4th version travelled with Romana… remember, I told you about her, last proper Lady President… but…"

"To you, and the you before now, it was some hidden hope in your subconscious that you were not the last," she finished, pulling him into a hug. "You saw yourself with a Time Lady, and you knew that you would one day travel with one… That's why you didn't want to believe the Face of Boe. It must have been crushing."

"More than I wanted to believe. I mean, I finally get to meet you… and there's no recognition, but you kept my secret of my two hearts hidden," he murmured into her hair. "I thought you maybe were chameleon arch hidden, or even just a Gallifreyan, but… when we handled the Judoon, it became pretty clear you were as human as they come. The right mental signature, but belonging to a human. Brilliant, extraordinary, but undeniably human." He shuddered. "And I was alone again. Alone in my own head, alone in a universe that left me behind as the coda of a legend."

"And you became angry. Oncoming-Storm-grade angry. It wasn't even about Rose, was it."

"Not really. I was just sick of Time playing with me. Of everything and everyone I love being taken, of every hope and every dream crushed and fucked up beyond all recognition," he admitted. "Add my personal version of survivor's guilt, some PTSD and sprinkle losing Rose, especially like I did, as a topping, and you get…"

"You, in pompous angsty asshole Time Lord emo mode, moping inclusive," Martha finished, snorting. "And then the Professor came, and shook the world."

"She always does. I tend to forget what mothers are good for. The thing with my particular mother is, I am way too similar to her, so trying to outtalk her never works. She just tells me off," he admitted. "Again. I'm sorry for making you feel second best, whatever the reason."

"You might have fancied Rose, but…" Martha looked up at him, a crooked smile on her face. "You asked me. You told me, showed me that you love me, in every little gesture you do. And would she have done what I did for you? I think not," she finished in Gallifreyan, placing a kiss on his lips. I think that's enough to make up for it, lairelai, she whispered into his mind, not breaking the kiss. This is the story of a guy, who cried a river and drowned the whole sky, and while he looks so sad in photographs, I absolutely love him… when he smiles.

Truer words have rarely been thought. And don't forget to remind me every day to show you more, lairelai, he transferred back, smiling.

Suddenly, the voice of the Fifth Doctor cut into their moment – a delayed echo from earlier. "Oh, Doctor? Remember to put your shields up."

The Doctor reached behind himself, pushing a button… but a moment too late. In the very moment he touched the control, the bow of a giant ship crashed through the hull, complete with foghorn sound, throwing both Chronarchs to the floor. "What?! What?!" they yelled simultaneously.

"Are you okay?" Martha coughed slightly, having taken in a whisp of dust from the crash.

"Yeah," he shook himself, crawling over to where a life belt lay on the floor, just in front of his fiancée. Together, they flipped it over. It proudly declared the ship to have one of the most misfortunate names in transportation history: TITANIC. "What?"


May 29, 2008 (So, meanwhile, relatively speaking, On Earth)

"Would you like a cup of tea, Professor?"

"I'd rather have an espresso please," the Time Lady answered, having just gotten back from Cardiff tweaking Jack's DNA to contain a basic human version of Restoration, and thus sat in the living room of the Joneses.

"Coming right up," Tish grinned, going to the kitchen.

Clive put down his own cup of tea. "So they're just taking his TARDIS for a test drive, yes?"

"Knowing my House, they'll manage to make even that some semi-catastrophic trip," she answered glumly. "But that's okay. They'll sort it out."

"They always do, don't they," Tish commented, coming back with the espresso. "Well, someone has to, and you are only three people. But I have a question."

"Fire away, and thank you."

"I think it's one you have too, mum, but how does someone marry as a Time Lord?"

Francine's head shot up. "Wait, what? Are you saying they are not going to get married on Earth?"

"Didn't you hear them yesterday Franny?" Clive frowned. "I first thought it unfair too, until I thought of his side of the matter. We still have all these things – home, family – but theirs is beyond their reach. I believe you had some compromise for that, Professor."

"Yes. There's a planet on the Eye of Orion, originally known as a resort, but it was abandoned after the Last Great Time War, and then turned into a memorial for all those races and worlds who've fallen victim," she answered grimly, downing the espresso as an afterthought. "Closest you can get to the actual custom."

"And pray, tell, what are Gallifreyan wedding customs?" Francine glared.

To no effect of course. "Glaring at me is futile, I've stared down every Lord President but Rassilon, and reduced five of them to tears. And Rassilon was the Founder of the Time Lords."

Taking a deep breath, the younger woman forced herself calm. "Sorry."

"No problem. Let's see. Ever seen a handfasting?"

"I have, one of my university classmates did that for his wedding. Lovely thing," Tish smiled. "So you do that too?"

"Kind of, just a lot more complicated. It's one of the most common forms to get married in the universe for humanoid species too," the Time Lady answered, reaching to pull up her sleeve, then stopping sadly. "I tend to forget it's no longer there. The mark." She shook her head. "Anyway. A Gallifreyan wedding is actually rather private, done before the closest of sworn friends and immediate family, on the land of the family both sides will belong to, in a surrounding reflecting the taking House best – for Lungbarrow, 'twas either a grassy hill or the high plateau of the mountain. We had both available. Sometimes, some preferred the banks of Cadonflood…" she mused. "And it's really short. Doesn't last longer than 20 minutes. Afterwards, the Head of House welcomes the groom, or, in this case, the bride to her House."

"But what about the rest of the Family?!"

"Do I sense an anxiety to show off being mother of the bride?" the Professor smirked before dropping into a dead serious expression. "The Ceremony of Bonding is so much more than that gesture humans do. You sign a paper and make vows, but in the end, you still can get out. We call that a union. A legal marriage without any further strings attached. The Bonding is…" She stopped.

"What?" Francine started.

"Memory Lane. Time Lords are telepaths. The union is just like your weddings, a contract. But a Bonding… is binding the souls telepathically, so close it is impossible to tell where one begins and the other one ends. This is the traditional way to join a main line pair, like Theta and Martha."

"Never alone. 'You never walk alone'," Leo breathed, having kept silent until now. "And you wouldn't allow anyone to deny them such a bond." Suddenly, it came to him why the Professor was so glum. "You are alone though. They're all gone."

"It's fine. I just tend to forget sometimes," she declined.

"No it's not." Clive shook his head. "It never is."

"Please…"

"Let's leave it at that," Francine cut in. "So, you lot prefer private ceremonies… but what of the rest of the family?"

"As far as I can remember, Martha would prefer small anyway for the actual ceremony. But… while the Bonding and the Welcoming slash Adoption is only about 30 minutes, the actual celebration afterwards could last for a week on the average. Depended on which Houses or Clans took part," the Professor grinned. "Record was 11 days, 15 hours and 37 minutes, done by a bonding of a Redloom groom to the Scaltata heiress."

"So, while the Houses don't take part in the ceremony, they put up a party to beat all parties afterwards instead, and the length depends on how many people are in a House, right?" Francine recapitulated. "Sounds a little like two people eloping and then apologising."

"The last time someone actually elope-unified in my House, I ended up annulling the thing after 253 years," the Professor mumbled into a tea mug Tish had handed her. "Last time my son disobeyed me if it came to family matters."

"I'm sorry?" Francine asked, not having understood a word.

"Never mind. Just the ramblings of a person way past expiry date. And it's not eloping, far from that," she answered. "It's just very different."

Now it was Francine's place to sigh. "I get that. I really do somehow. But I cannot help wishing. Is there really no other form for that?"

"How are we going to accommodate my son's 'family' if we would do it like this? His companions, from all over time and space, Francine. How are you going to explain them?" she gave back. "And my answer is no. There is no other way. We have broken already too many traditions. Do not ask of us to break the last."

"But…"

"Franny, Martha isn't exactly the most religious type if you fear that part," Clive interjected. "What about you lot?"

"Religion per se hasn't played a role to Gallifrey for over ten million years, not since the Pythia were overthrown by the Three Founders. We are agnostics. You could say we practice a form of ancestor veneration, following the virtues and beliefs of those who walked time and space before us," the Professor considered. "The Welcoming is thus the ceremony confirming you to those who bore your new name before you. As I said, we can throw a party afterwards." She shrugged. "Look. Martha may still be Martha, but her complete point of view has changed. And her priorities. And it's not like you won't have a chance to show off."

"Can't we do it first your way and then the Earth way?"

"With the life we lead? Putting out fires all over time and space?"

Leo chuckled. It had been somewhat of a wild story with his sister and the Doctor, well, the parts he was able to remember (and from what he understood, he was rather glad he didn't remember). But even from his one encounter with the crazy awesome Time Lord he could tell what kind of life was in store for Martha – and that his mother was in denial about it, despite that both the Doctor and the Professor had never lied about that. "She's got you there mum."

Francine glared at them. "You are so not helping. What about Martha's family?"

"Stupid primate egotist," The Professor hissed angrily. "Your real question is what about me. What about Gallifrey then, hm?" She got up and rushed out into the garden, nearly knocking over her cup.

"Bravo Franny, bravo," Clive sighed. "Have you ever considered you're talking to a widow?"

The accusing glares of the other Joneses sobered the woman up. "I really can't get it right if it comes to them, can I?" The accusing silence hanging in the room said it all.

Finally, the Professor came back, wearing a stony expression. "I had to bury a world. And besides, this is not my idea. It's theirs."

Tish decided to end the ancient woman's misery – honestly, putting two Inquisitor-women into one room was never a good idea. "Look mum, let's just do it as she said. They will have a Gallifreyan Bonding, and then I'll put together a party like you've never seen one before."

Leo laughed, especially seeing his otherwise so demanding mother out-stubborn-ed. That woman's a fricking mountain. "So how is that handfasting going to happen?"

"That might be a little tricky, to get Gallifreyan mind-silk for the Handfasting-Question ceremony, and a proper binder…" the Time Lady frowned. "Oh well, that's what Kesh'at is for."

"Anything special that I should consider?"

Gratefully, the Professor smiled. "I'll get the band."

"Alien I take it?"

"Oi! They're among the best the universe has to offer!"

"I really don't know about this," Francine insisted.

"How about this. Given the rough time we've had recently, I'll take you all on a holiday?" the Professor offered.

"Off the planet?" Leo and Tish asked together.

"Where else? There are entire worlds out there built as resort. Your deci–" Both younger Joneses raced out.

Shaking her shock off, Francine sighed. "What do I have to pack?"

"Just necessities. We're going to Ira-Illah. Also known as The Resort, in cap letters." The Time Lady smirked in the door of her ship. "You have two hours."

As she was gone, Clive got to his feet. "I don't know about you, Franny, but I will go. Not like we're going to lose any time."

Francine followed him a little slower. "Don't I know it."


The experience had been harrowing. Not that it was much different from any Christmas in London in the last few years, but seriously. A spaceship looking like and bearing the same name as the most unfortunate ship in passenger transportation history? Gimme a break, Martha thought darkly as they had finally landed the TARDIS on 15th century Almatia to finish their test drive. Only name worse is Intrepid. Oh well, at least it had been good practice on the matter of her title-name, with everyone calling her Walker instead of Martha Jones. And they had lost people, most prominently, Astrid Perth, who had sacrificed herself to destroy the mad owner of the ship, Max Capricorn, driving a forklift into the cyborg and both of them into the engines. But it looks like Theta got pardoned by the Queen. About time! Another irate monarch would have just taken the cake. Shaking her head, she joined her fiancée on the picnic blanket they had laid out on the red-orange grass, and stared up with him at the stars. "What are you thinking about?"

"Do I make people die for me?" he whispered finally.

"Astrid didn't die for you, lairelai. If you want a negative reason, a good part of her wanted revenge for being treated expendable, a positive one, she chose to do something that would be meaningful, and if not for that stupid host or the damages on the teleport system, she would still be there," she answered, hugging him close. "And who knows, maybe, she'll be back one day."

"This whole thing just reminded me of how easily I seem to loose people." He put his hand over hers. "It made me realise how often I would end up putting you in danger."

She made a face and pulled out her mobile. "Who do you want me to call, your mother or mine? Stop belittling people's choices, Theta, whether they're Chronarchs, Space-Weavers, or just simple human beings. It's unfair of you, both to them, and to yourself. And I can take care of myself." She turned to him, pressing a kiss to his cheek. "I know where your point of view is stemming from, but as you said, you'd rather care. Don't detach yourself now."

He smiled and kissed her softly on the lips. "You are truly one of a kind Martha Jones. My Walking Maiden."


January 2009

"How many seconds in a month?" the Professor asked Martha out of the blue, amidst a long list of interspecies surgery theory.

"2.678.400," the student answered promptly in the same language, New High Gallifreyan, which was now the usual language between them. It had been a long few months, with her being tutored by the Professor, and the most harrowing time of studying she's ever had in her comparatively short life. Days, weeks, months spent with only three hours of sleep a day (not that they needed more), filled with endless, seemingly random questioning, even longer pop quizzes and a crash course in (very) basic Gallifreyan telepathy. I know she'd been a recruiter for the High Office, but to have it demonstrated what that means… and I still find it partially disturbing to wake up after only three hours! At the same time, it had been very therapeutic, as she had been able to share that year with her and her betrothed. Even if the UNIT debriefing had been a little annoying (they'd ended up registering her as medical advisor).

"How many in a solar standard year?"

"31.557.600, if solar standard year is 365.25 days."

"Main epitaph of House Scaltata. Explain social standing as the second."

"Children of Rassilon, as he was our ancestor. Nonetheless, Lungbarrow stands higher for seniority and descendance of a ruling Pythia, and is the House which brought forth The Other and Omega, also known as The Engineer. Second epitaph is Scaltata of the Forest, as the House had its home in a clearing," she rattled down. "Reflecting the relationship between the Three Founders, the House of Scaltata is on the best of terms with the House of Lungbarrow, and leads the Prydonian Chapter together with them. The last Lord Cardinal of the Chapter was Borusa, also Scaltata. Its members were widely known for inspiration and ambition of mind; Borusa was considered the best jurist to have lived for eight millennia."

The Professor smiled. "Molto bene. You have successfully recalled the entirety of Gallifreyan politics and history and the division of our culture between the Great Houses and the Citadel-dwellers; your basic Time senses are up to speed, your Time Lord knowledge is active and running, and you know the ins and outs of Gallifreyan anatomy and biology, as well as showing a good sense for genetics. As for surgery, well. Your current teachers at the Royal Hope are blown away already."

"Really? You mean… wait. No, I know that I know. I know I remember it. Everything," Martha whispered the last part as she recalled Gallifrey… and, would she have been born or loomed a Scaltata, what her home would have been, that compound amidst an endless silver forest, and she shuddered. "I would have loved to see it myself…"

"Lady Scaltata would have loved to call you daughter."

"You think so?"

"You are everything that makes their House members great: Intelligent, smart, witty, utterly charming, brilliant, beautiful, resilient and a horrible loser," she smirked. "Everything positive there was about Rassilon. And believe me, my sister-in-law would have bent backwards to call you hers, short on naming you her heir."

"Oh. That reminds me, do I not need that genetic imprint, the Rassilon Imprimatur?"

The over-10k lifted an eyebrow and smirked. "You have it already. The Evolution Arch only creates Time Lords. Only those elevated from plebeian to Time Lord status needed the imprint, and that only sometimes. I don't do things halfway, I'm way too old for that."

Martha nodded numbly. Now that most of her senses corresponding to the 4th dimension were active, she could tell it with certainty: The absolute age of The Professor. And it was more than just humbling to know that the woman wore the markings on her collar – she was wearing her Gallifreyan Valeyard jacket (grey variant) instead of an Earth pantsuit – not for fun. "»The colours, black and white and the golden blossom of the Flower of Remembrance, for they have defied death longer than anyone. See these colours, bend your knees and bow your heads, for your elder is walking alive amongst you.« I remember it usually being a stole though."

"Too impractical for work, I lost it all the time. Now, I believe you have shift in an hour, and you need to get ready."

"Where's Theta?" Martha wondered, putting her papers away.

"Up to his neck in trouble if I know him," the Professor snickered. Not one to stay planet-bound, the Doctor was doing the Professor's work – saving lost Time Lords, working down the list with the help of a command disc. "But it would not be him if he would not end up escalating things."

"True enough," Martha snickered. "He's probably running away from some madman with a world domination scheme as we speak…"

(And now for something completely different…)

Booooooriiiiiiiiiiiing! Booooooriiiiiiiiiiiing! the Doctor thought glumly. And, in a way, it was. Sure, his surroundings – Brisbane Botanic Gardens, Brisbane, Australia – were absolutely gorgeous, especially since it was summer, but when he had agreed to continue his mother's work, he hadn't counted on all the waiting he would have to do. The pre-programmed dates on the collection dates were approximate, that is, usually at least a day early, leaving him with literally nothing to do, for interfering with the events leading to the 'death'/disappearance of the Chronarch to be rescued could end with said Chronarch surviving… and thus being sucked into the Time Lock. Not that he hadn't been tempted initially, but then, when he waited the first time, even his Time senses told him why he couldn't: The events leading to the Missing-In-Action entry on the list were fixed, only the death, never confirmed, was flux. Only a Valeyard would think of something like that – it's the ultimate type of technicality of temporal mechanics. But why in Rassilon's name am I in Brisbane? The entry on the list was weird too, two designator numbers like for a DE biog…Just then, a group of 15 college students led by a fairly young man entered his view, chattering, laughing and joking. From the supplies they carried, he reckoned they were an art or art history class out on a day of practical application en plein air: paint, water, brush sets wrapped in etuis, stretched canvas and field easels. Mildly curious, he studied the group and frowned as he watched the group leader, clearly the professor of the affair. There was something vaguely, no, awfully familiar about him… especially his manner of speech, wild and animated, but gentle, steadfast and compassionate all the same.

"Well then, ladies and gentlemen, now that's what I call a rich environment. Brisbane City Botanic Gardens. As I said, today is a practical application of what you have learnt of the impressionists' methods and ideas. Let the world be the guide of your mind," he smiled.

"Professor, sir. Are you going to paint something yourself today?" one of the male students asked, having unfolded his own easel already.

"Only if you drop the palette knife for once, Mr Stiller," he glared, opening a metal briefcase of Copic Sketch markers and setting heavy Tiziano marker paper on a sketch board before placing it on his own easel. Unlike most of the students using lightweight metal easels, their professor preferred an easel made of heavy-duty wood. "Today is about new experiences. To learn how to keep your mind open to the endless possibilities of our wild, wide universe, inside and outside, and that includes using methods and materials you are not or not that familiar with." He shook his dark head. "To me and impressionist methods, that's using Copics and Paper."

"Sir?" One of the girls in the group had her easel still under her arm, clearly intent of going to another part of the park. Judging from her looks, she had to have some aboriginal ancestors.

"Yes, Miss Nodea?" he smiled – the thing being a friendly impression of the Cheshire Cat.

"What was your last bout with something you've never done before as an artist?"

If possible, his grin grew even wider, now reminding the Doctor of his own manic smile. "As you know ladies and gentlemen, I am also a sculptor… but usually, I don't do living sculptures; most things I sculpt require the use of stone/ice saw, mallet and chisels. So, when the Mathematical Department requested a box bush to be 'sculpted', I was confronted with needing a gardening saw, a set of bonsai and rose scissors, various hedge and other gardening scissors and a chainsaw… and I loved every minute of it. That poor bush is now standing tall in front of the department, in the shape of a cylinder topped by a sphere and a tetraeder. Hmm… maybe I should do something like that again…"

Michael Stiller hung his head and put away the palette knife, unrolling his brush etui. "I stand defeated, sir."

"You might be surprised, Michael," the art professor smiled. "You might be surprised. Now, listen everybody. We'll meet here again at half past four, whether you've finished by then or not, so we can talk about your experience. After that, you are free to finish painting. Itterasshai!" And they scattered, leaving the teacher alone with his Copics.

He is awfully familiar. If he wasn't human, I'd swear he could have been Keenon, the Doctor thought, and got a surprise as the young professor suddenly began to draw at a manic, obsessive pace, definitely faster than anything his students could do… and faster than what most humans could do. Even that… Keenon worked like that, the eyes never leaving the motive, with hands dancing like a hurricane. But it can't be… can it? He took his time to study the artist's profile, but to no avail. Tall, downright lanky, he was rather pale compared to his students, with smooth dark hair sticking out under his hat (the straw headgear was about the only piece of clothing that seemed to fit the climate he wore). The face was young, younger than what you'd expect of a chair professor, and strongly set. Like Keenon, he was ambidextrous, and had no problem drawing with both hands simultaneously. There was no recognition, but to be fair, it had been well more than a century since he had seen his cousin – the man had left Gallifrey when he (the Doctor) was still in his Fifth regeneration, citing 'personal reasons' and 'needing inspiration' – so it stood to reason the Chaos Painter would have regenerated in between, having been in his first body still. By the time the War started, the youngest male of their generation had all but vanished, not even naming a successor for Crèche Guardian, not that it made sense anyway – war gave little time for new children after all… Suddenly, the manic moves ceased for a second, and the sun glinted off something the artist wore around his neck which the Doctor had first thought to be a medallion… but it was in fact… I'm thick. Thick, thick as a brick and then another suitcase of thickness! Janayi said it herself! It's a Chameleon Fob Watch! He slapped himself. Focus. For all you know, he's no-one less but the most talented artist Gallifrey has seen for longer than your mother is alive. But how to approach him? I wonder… does he have memory-dreams too? If he really is Keenon, or even one of his students, he's probably painted and sculpted them. But how to get in contact? Direct confrontation is usually about the worst thing you can do

"Excuse me?" a voice snapped him out of his reverie. Before him stood the student from earlier with the palette knife issues. Like the entire class, he wore a hat of some form, in his case, a simple gardener's straw hat, but it had done nothing for the boy's complexion – he had a typical Aussie summer tan, probably spending a lot of time on the beach.

"What? What?" The Doctor caught himself before performing another triple. "What is it, young man? Mister Michael Stiller, wasn't it?"

"Err yeah. And I wanted to ask if you wouldn't mind being painted by me… otherwise I must ask you to leave my view, sir," Michael stated, a bright-type paintbrush in hand.

Sensing a chance for information, the Time Lord relaxed into his bench. "I won't mind, if you wouldn't mind chatting with me."

"Okay… hey, how do you know my name?"

"You and the professor do not have an indoor voice exactly… not that I can talk at all of that," he rubbed the back of his neck. This incarnation of me is so Lungbarrow it hurts. The. Ears. "He announced your name for the entire class to hear."

"Oh. Yeah. I think it's the whole lecture hall talking mode. There ain't an indoor voice need for us," he answered. "And you are? Since we're at names." Not pausing, Michael pushed the brim of his hat back a little so he could take in the colours, and started choosing from his box.

"I'm John Smith. I'm interested in purchasing some new art for my private collection and I heard your teacher is the best around." He smirked lightly. "Given you're imitating him, I think you know him best out of your class."

Mick hid his blush behind the canvas. "Err… the hat, well… yeah. Well. Professor Jovanka is a great teacher… and the hat is very practical to work en plein air. Which reminds me, it is very unwise to not wear a hat in Australia, Mr Smith. We don't have the luxury of a thick, London ozone layer." His brush hit the canvas, working in the thick acrylic paint.

"Jovanka?" The Doctor's eyes went wide. "Did you say 'Jovanka'?"

"Sure, everyone in Brisbane knows the Jovankas. Tegan and Keith Jovanka, née Johnson. Mrs Jovanka owns an art gallery not far from here, it has also the professor's studio, and Mrs Jovanka's office for her activist group." Having gotten rid of his blush, he smirked. "The place is soundproof – otherwise they'd need a new place every few weeks, with him and his sculpting. They say Master Keenon is worse a neighbour than Michelangelo."

I can't believe Tegan married Keenon, the Doctor thought, floored. My old traveling companion married my favourite cousin. And the housekeeper-painter-sculptor crèche guardian at that. When in the Nine Hells did that happen? How did that happen? Suddenly, an odd image of himself (1st edition), Tegan and Keenon in the Death Zone came to mind – with his cousin solving the chessboard trap in Rassilon's Tomb by splashing a can of quick-dry paint on the thing, burning the paint where it was not safe to walk. After stopping Tegan from stepping on it by pulling her into a hug. Oh Rassilon. Literally. Wait, what? "Did you just call him Keenon?"

"It's his artist pseudonym," the student shrugged. "Why?"

"Nothing. Just a coincidence… So, who is he and how long has he been teaching here?"

"The professor holds his chair since 1999. From what I understand, he met his wife when she was still an air hostess, and then, well, apparently, he followed her everywhere, until they ended up here, and got married somewhere along the way," he snickered. "I sometimes wonder if she'd called him a stalker once. Really. A Brit sculptor and an air hostess. The whole thing is considered cliché on campus, partly because she still sometimes bites his head off for trotting behind her everywhere," Michael snickered. "She's got him whipped."

I can imagine. Shy, lullaby-singing Keenon who spent 600 years watching the kids and Tegan? I can imagine who's in charge of that relationship, the Doctor suppressed his own snicker. Keenon had his own brand of the Lungbarrow courage, if chasing after brave-hearted Tegan, the self-declared mouth-on-legs was any indicator, but as a proper crèche guardian and loomed cousin, he was not one to disobey a woman important to him. "I thought you admired him," he frowned.

"Oh, I do. In fact, I wouldn't mind having a relationship like that," the twen's eyes positively sparkled. "You know artists. We tend to take flights of fancy – but Professor Jovanka? He's always on the ground, and has no trouble with cash. Thanks to her." He checked the proportions, and continued, the brush strokes getting bolder as he sketch-painted the heat-flickering background behind the Time Lord.

A few more minutes passed in silence as the Doctor pondered the situation. Does janayi know? Silly. Of course she does. But how long was it really? I doubt it was just 20-odd years, given he looks like he's regenerated at least once. "Do you know how long they have been married?"

"No idea. That's actually something nobody really knows here. Adds to their mystery. I mean, from what I gather, Mrs Jovanka is from Brisbane, but she hasn't lived here for many years. When she finally shows up again, she's married, and before anyone knew, her husband has taken over the asylum so to speak," he shrugged. "Got his chair in one with a painting called Mount Lung at Dawn. A really Scifi-ish one, almost like digital fractal art. And most people don't mind, he's way too good and way too cool to bother."

"Lung Mountain," the Doctor spoke slowly, his hearts constricting painfully. "Can you describe that one?" He painted home?

Michael stopped his work for a moment, recalling the work which hung in Jovanka's office. "It shows a tall mountain, grey in colour on one side, where it cliffs off into an abyss, but everything else dissolves into gentle sloping hills covered in red grass; it's so tall you can't see its peak. The other mountains in the background are black, covered with snow. And the sky over it he made dark orange, as if it was made of gold a little. Hmm… now that I think of it, there is a house or something like that in the image too, on that cliff. It's not very clear – he's really fond of more capturing the spirit than accuracy. And the reason it's so sci-fi is that the painting shows two suns rising. But don't ask him to sell it to you – a lot of people tried that, and they got kicked out faster than you can say brush."

"Are the mountains shining in the suns' light?"

"They are. Do you know his work after all?"

"I once knew someone like that," he evaded. It's home. And I don't know any other artist who would paint Lung Mountain that obsessively. Keenon… what happened, cousin? Eventually shaking his head, he shelved the speculation for later, and noted that over an hour had passed already; the young man was evidently close to being finished with his 18" by 24" canvas, if his choice of a filbert brush was any indicator – he was now at the 'details'. "How much time do you reckon you'll need?"

"Another ten minutes, sir. And let it be said, your hair is a nightmare to paint; also, I am currently really glad I have no reason to paint your face in detail…" he trailed off, patting a cloud above in place. "It's so fine-boned; a painter can make so many mistakes with it."

Hearing the hidden compliment, the Doctor smiled lightly. "Thank you." He waited a few minutes for the student to finish painting, "You think you could introduce me to your teacher?"

Seeing nothing he could add to the picture, Michael closed his paint tubes and started washing out his brushes. "I don't see why not. He's finished anyway – I don't know any other painter who works that fast and can still get such results. Just give me a moment to wash and pack up."

"Take your time," The Doctor answered. I'm going to need a moment myself to decide what to say.

Nodding, the art student proceeded to clean his tools with loving care, all the while considering the strange Brit. I wonder if he's related to the professor. He reacted so weirdly…oh well. Not my problem. Packing everything away, he plonked down beside the Doctor, holding up the painting for him to see. "What do you think? Too much?"

The Doctor checked the work. Michael Stiller had caught the scene nicely, in a moment he had looked to the side to observe Keith Jovanka again. The trees and plants were moving with the breeze, but… "Nicely done, but I think you need some practice on the light, here, and here. It's too static."

To the Doctor's surprise, Michael didn't flinch, but nodded simply. "I thought so too a little, but the heat makes it difficult to capture – the air is positively vibrating. It's as hard as trying to paint you, Mr. Smith."

"Oi! It's not that difficult."

"I beg to differ, and anyway, it's nearly half past four I believe, so let's go." Folding up the easel, he picked up the stand and his tools, and, shouldering them, he carried the painting horizontally so it would dry faster in the sunlight until he reached the spot where his professor was now going at a third sheet of paper, Copics racing over it. "Sir? Professor Jovanka?"

"One moment," Keith called, not looking up as his Blender softened the edges. Apparently finished, he sprayed a fixator over the picture, put the markers into a heavy metal case at his side, and turned around. "What is it Stiller?"

"This gentleman wants to meet you, professor. Says he's interested in buying a painting, or commissioning one."

"Thank you, but you should see that you get your work somewhere it can dry better for now," he advised. "I'll see you in a few. You can leave your tools here."

"Sir." Doing just that, Michael left the two older men behind, still carrying his painting sunny side up.

"That boy might just cost me my patience," Jovanka sighed. "Talented, but a little too set in his ways, and careless in others. And who do I have the honour with?"

Now that he was face to face with the painter, the Doctor started a little – Keith's slight lilt of the vocals reminded of his own, whenever his Gallifreyan bled through the pronunciation. What the…"I'm John Smith. I was hoping to procure some of your works for my private collection," he answered. "Professor Jovanka."

"I see." Rolling up his work in transport tubes, he packed, and fished out a business card. "In that case, meet me in my studio in another hour. I am sure we can find something that catches your eye."

More than you might think, the Doctor thought as he took the card and shook the man's hand. "Pleasure to do business with you, sir." The Doctor slowly walked away.

6

Once the Time Lord was sure Keith and his students couldn't see him any more, he ran as fast as he could and burst through the TARDIS door. "Come on old girl, we have a meeting with a very dear friend. I hope." The TARDIS rumbled, conveying her amusement at his impatience, but nonetheless, they ended up where he wanted to be, just outside the Jovankas' workspace and home. Just as he wanted to pull the handbrake to finish landing, he realised he still had no idea on how to get the man to open the watch. Well, technically, all I have to do is ask about it… just have to make it not too obvious. Shaking his head, he pulled the brake and shuffled out, entering the gallery. Inside, a signpost – he wasn't sure if it was another sculpture – greeted the visitors, stating that the studio was in the back and the path to it was covered with… yellow tiles, roughly the shape and size of regular bricks. "Someone has a very peculiar sense of humour here… 'Follow the yellow brick road', huh?" Sighing, he did exactly that, and ended in a brightly lit studio, sunlight pouring indirectly into it from multiple angles. Most of the walls were bare and white, except for one – this one was covered with sketches and paintings of all sizes, so much in fact that a row of presentation stands showed another series of images. What most of them had in common however was the colour scheme – red, orange, silver, blue and white. That's

"I see that you found my dirty little secret. The Gallery of Impossible Dreams," Keith stated behind him. "Lung Mountain and Hills is the only one of them I ever revealed to exist so far. I hope you won't mind me asking of you to not speak of these?"

"Don't worry, I know how important some secrets are."

"It's not a secret per se, I just find it somewhat embarrassing, these things… sometimes, I wake in the middle of the night, and I can't get rid of the dream, so I paint it," Keith explained. "It's always been like that, but it's become worse since I've come to Australia. And lately, they all show that, that… world, of red and orange and gold and silver…"

"And sometimes you don't even know who you are, do you?" the Doctor finished softly.

"You know about that?"

"I had a similar experience recently. Was hit over the head so to speak." Kind of. "Does your wife know about these, if you don't mind me asking?"

Keith stepped beside him, a smirk twitching the corner of his mouth. "Tegan? The ones on the easels over there, they're hers." He shook his head. "You had something similar happening to you?"

"I kept a journal in that time." Scanning the paintings Keith had designated to be Tegan's, he saw something astonishing – one of them seemed to be the other half of one of Keith's… and together, they showed a Gallifreyan Bonding Ceremony, as the hands of both parties were on the respective one… and they showed the Keenon and Tegan he had known, save for Tegan wearing long hair. The style was one Keenon only employed for portraits – photorealistic – and done with a painstaking obsession evident in every loving stroke he'd placed on Tegan's portrait. He also recognised the Binder: It was Keenon's twin sister (they had been loomed together), Alion, in her second body. "A journal of impossible things," he finished, suppressing his surprise, and frowned at another one of them. This one was an art print, and definitely fractal in nature, showing clockworks… and Gallifreyan text, meant for the eyes of a passing Time Lord. 'I am The Chaos Painter, child of the House of Lungbarrow of the Hills. Free me, I implore you.' Well, it cannot be more obvious, the Doctor thought, staring at the centrepiece of the fractal art piece – a Gallifreyan fob watch in all its glory.

"Interesting. I would like to compare if you don't mind… or do you not have it any longer?" Seeing the Doctor shake his head, he sighed, and smiled ruefully. "Sorry. I sometimes cannot help myself with the enthusiasm. I'm always late too when that happens…" He took off the watch from around his neck. "And that thing never works. Tegan always gives me an earful because of that."

"But you just can't seem to bring yourself to get rid of it, right?"

"No, not ever. It's the only thing that I still have from my old house… burnt down, you know," he sighed. "That, and my art tools – brushes, easel, chisels and mallets. I was lucky – I was out when that happened."

"Are you sure it doesn't work?" 'House' burnt down. Oh, clever, clever cousin. You did only a basic stripping, replacing memories with things that would make sense in your current identity. Not even a personality change.

"I…" Keith shook his head as it ached suddenly. "I don't know. I never opened it actually…"

"Well…why not?"

"I…" A voice, so much like his own, resounded in his ears, or was it his mind? Hurry up. Your life will never make sense if you don't open the watch. Taking a deep breath, he took it in his left and pressed the top, opening the contraption… As soon as the seal was broken, the essence of the younger Time Lord escaped, returning to where it belonged, but unlike the Doctor, Keenon had no need to scream, settling back in far slower. Where the Doctor had returned as a hurricane in a time of desperate need, Keenon slipped back as a gentle breeze in times of peace. Nonetheless, he was breathing heavily by the time it was over. "Took you long enough, Thete," he mock-glared, the green eyes sparkling with mirth. "And seriously. Do you have to use the least believable name in the English-speaking world as alias? I made a joke out of my own at least!"

If Keenon would have headbutted him, it wouldn't have left him half as dazed as this brilliant display of the negative version of the Lungbarrow motormouth: Breakneck-speed sarcasm. "I… Well, at least that way, people don't remember me. Keenon."

The younger Time Lord laughed and opened his arms for a hug, which the Doctor returned fiercely. "Cousin… Oh Omega, it's good to see you, and good to be back."

"Same to you, Keenon, same to you," the Doctor whispered hoarsely, not letting go.

"Err, Thete… as much as I appreciate it, I still have to get Tegan back. And it would be nice not to need respiratory bypass."

"Oh, sorry," he said, letting go. "Wait, what do you mean, 'get Tegan back'?"

"Come on, Thete. You've seen that painting. How long do you think I have chased after Tegan, and how long do you think we've been bonded?" he snickered, walking over to what seemed to be a battered broom cupboard. "Come on. I think that calls for a place that's smaller on the outside."

"And bigger on the inside," the Doctor finished. "Broom cupboard?"

Keenon simply stepped inside. "I thought it more interesting to say it the other way round, as apparently everyone says the bigger on the inside. And don't ask me. She's a Type 307 Mark II, from the House stockpile. And, as you can see…" The control room had the looks of being another studio, white, and the console was designed to be controlled by two people. "We get along pretty well. Hello old girl, did you miss me?" In answer, Keenon's TARDIS started powering up again, awakening from her slumber with a loving hum. "As for your question. I have been bonded for roughly 150 years now, regenerated 60 years ago, and yes, Tegan is a Time Lady now, which is a rather long story you should ask janayitritarane about." He looked up. "Omega, it's good to feel her again. I almost forgot what it feels like, to sense the Lady-Mother-of-the-clan."

"I know she can do that, I saw it happen with my own eyes. And I know what you mean. But why? Why did Tegan agree to do this? And how did you become a pair?"

"You heard the stories about me, no doubt. Well, I have to inform you they are true… I chased her around the Earth after you left her here," he chuckled, leading his cousin to the kitchen. Busying himself with brewing tea, he continued. "In hindsight, it was rather hilarious, especially when her car broke down in the outback, and I literally followed her; the usual exchange we had in these situations was 'Are you going to keep following me? – Are you going to keep ignoring me?' or things like that. And she always refused coming aboard my TARDIS."

"Why do I have the feeling that you and her is like an overly long gag quote from a road movie?" the Doctor wondered, accepting the cup of Illawarra.

"Probably because it is. Only in the Qantas/TARDIS World edition," Keenon snickered before sobering up. "She'll be here soon."

"Does she remember travelling me?" the Doctor wondered, following the man back to the console room; after all, that part was still from Tegan's human days.

"The arch reduced her extraterrestrial memories to the day she walked out on you, so yes, but I doubt she'll recognise you until I get her back. Which reminds me…" Pushing a few panels on the console, a small box came up through the floor on a pedestal. The red-and-silver glow of the wood betrayed it – Gallifreyan redoak – and the seal on top was the Seal of Omega, the seal of House Lungbarrow. "Hello love," the artist smiled lovingly, picking it up, and revealed the contents to his cousin: A silver watch with blue engravings and two keys on chains. Putting one of the keys around his own neck, he pocketed the rest and put the box away. "Shall we?"

The Doctor shook himself as Keenon simply left the broom cupboard-disguised TARDIS, and followed him. "How can you be so casual about all that happened?" Why don't you blame me?!

Keenon stopped halfway to the studio door and turned around, sighing. "Probably the same reason you and janayirane keep racing across the universe putting out fires. Keeping on going or to lie down and die, cousin. Not much of a choice, and frankly speaking, I prefer to count my blessings." He shook his head, shooing away his own regrets. "I am the 423rd Guardian of the Children of Lung Mountain, but that title has no meaning without children to watch and raise, cousin. I have not forgotten them. But I prefer to remember them laughing instead of burning. And in the end… it could have been anyone turning that key in the lock. Anyone willing to end it all."

"Do you not get it; I killed everyone–"

Keenon picked up a towel and walloped him over the head. "I said anyone. From what I know – and granted, Tegan and I spent the war out of the firing line, here on Earth – Romanadvoratrelundar would have done it herself if given the chance. And do you even have an inkling of what would have happened if janayitritarane hadn't spent the last two years of the War chasing down a madman?"

"No," he gnawed out.

"She would have started a revolution."

"What?! What?! WHAT?!" He was aware that his mother was distilled Lungbarrow spirit, but breaking her vows? It seemed a little far-fetched (but then again, it was janayi…).

"Yep. Overthrow Rassilon, and then call the Antarians for help. But I am not quite sure if that would have been better," he mused. "Calling them is waking a sleeping giant, unleashing a hurricane. And finally… If you hadn't done that, we wouldn't be here discussing this, waiting for Tegan to return. What you would have instead are two funeral pyres too many, mine and hers. So no, I don't blame you. I simply do what Lady Lungbarrow does if it comes to you, sigh and lament your fate, but never blame you. You're my cousin, and you always do what you have to do. That's all I need to know. Are you coming?" Turning around again, he left the studio.

Stunned, the Doctor shuffled after the artist to the man's actual home, across the courtyard. Have I really forgotten Keenon's kindness? Apparently… "Do you have children?" he asked shakily.

"No. Our Human/Almatian selves – chose something long-lived but made them think they're humans – were infertile, and…" Keenon fell into his couch with a sad sigh. "Well, you wanted to know why Tegan became a Time Lady. Basically, it's because the racial markers in both of us make us incompatible on a personal level. We found that out the hard way." Seeing the shocked expression on the other man's face, he nodded. "Originally, we were just unified, happily so. But she miscarried. Several times. Lady Lungbarrow found out that it would only stop if we were the same race. Something went wrong though, and so, we were told we would have to wait 80 years for trying again, until then, Tegan would be infertile. But still, it allowed us to bond, properly. By the time the 80 years were over, we were fighting a war already. I can imagine she's upgraded the program by now though." The face Keenon wore had lost all its cheer, filled with a sadness the Doctor knew all too well. The bitterness of infinite loss.

Sitting down in front of him, the older man sighed. "She did. By now, it's more like a very rough regeneration. And I'm sorry."

"Thanks." Suddenly, he looked up. "She's here." A small smirk stole itself onto his lips as the door fell closed. "Wish me luck."

6

I wonder what that absolute klutz is up to this time, Tegan thought sarcastically as she entered the house. Given that he didn't even bother with putting a sign on the gallery that he ain't there… I hope he's got a customer! "I'm home!" she called, dumping her sling bag on the side table.

She didn't come very far. Keegan wrapped a arm around her waist and pulled her into a deep kiss. At the same time, he kept his mind on the task… and opened the watch he held concealed in his hands, letting wisps of gold and silver escape. Wrapping themselves around Tegan, they whispered of infinite bravery, infinite fire burning with light and time. Of silver river beds and fruit plantations where the House of Redloom once had their home, and of wild, untamed Lung Mountain which had been home for more than a century. As the process and Keenon's kiss ceased, she became faintly aware of the silent tears running down her cheeks, and of her mate's long fingers stroking them away oh-so-gently. "Keenon? Lairelai?"

"Welcome back, lairelai," he whispered in Gallifreyan, smiling just as tearfully.

"I'd say took you long enough, but we did this to each other after all, so, who came around?" she wondered, following him to the living room.

"Hello Tegan," the Doctor smiled, getting up to greet his old companion. "I think we all have some catching up to do."

"Doctor?" Seeing him nod, and sensing him, in his position among Lungbarrow, she let go of Keenon's hand and grabbed him in a fierce hug. "Oh my god, it really is you… how many times did you change that daft old face of yours since the last time?"

"Well…" He grinned down at her. "Four. I think we all should sit down and have some tea, or what do you think?"

"Certainly."

6

'Catch-up' was an understatement for the conversation that followed; a tale that would send even the craziest Time Lord mind spinning it was. And laughing himself halfway to regeneration; Keenon's student Michael had been very on the spot with his assessment of the relationship between the "Jovankas", as the one in charge of everything was Tegan. But it was stunning, above all things. "…let me get this straight. You two are the end result of the longest road movie routine I've ever come across, Tegan's a child of the Virtuous and Noble House of Redloom by adoption, and you are basically deserters because you've seen it coming?" he rattled down.

"That's it in a nutshell, miruelai." Tegan shook her head. "I may not have grown up on Gallifrey, but I lived there for one-and-a-half centuries. And we saw it fall, together with the other Great Houses. The corruption and the arrogance eating away the ruling city-dwellers. When was the last time before the war you've stayed longer at home than four days?"

The Doctor started to feel a lump well up in his throat, first janayi and now my cousin as well as Tegan becoming miruelai, cousin…this is just…just brilliant!, he thought to himself, but soon noticed they were both looking at him. He cleared his throat and answered instead, "True enough. And during the war it wasn't much better. So you two didn't want to fight."

"No. And so we left everything behind. Not that there was much to be left behind, the young were all around 120 or so," Keenon shrugged. "When it became clear that the Professor wouldn't return in time to stop Rassilon and everything, we did what every Lungbarrow does in the face of such odds."

"Run?"

"Run," they both confirmed.

6

Dinner was a rather jovial affair, held in a strange but comforting mixture of Gallifreyan and English. The Doctor hadn't even realised how much he missed talking in his own language until his mother had shown up, and the longer he remembered this, the more he wanted it. Before, English had been a convenient thing, and something he didn't even really think about, a way to express his rebellion against convention, but now, it was one of the few things left of home. "So what are you two going to do now?"

Keenon raised an eyebrow at him. "If you are implying that we should come with you, let me remind you that I am the most domestic of all of us."

"More like a painting, sculpting super-nanny with incredible housekeeping skills crossed with a master chef," Tegan remarked. "Luckily, you didn't overwrite that with the arch, otherwise we'd have starved long ago."

"And here I thought you bonded to me because of my brains."

"Oh, don't worry. I wouldn't be a proper Time Lady if I wouldn't find that big four-lobed thing between your ears sexy," she teased leeringly.

"I can think of a very stimulating list of mental activities, lairelai."

"Right now or later?"

"Oi! Too much information, cousins. Too much information," the Doctor grinned before addressing his former companion and in-law. "So you two are staying here?"

"For the time being. I have my activist groups – I work for Aboriginal rights – and Keenon has his classes. We know we can't stay too long, so we're going to enjoy it while it lasts," she confirmed. "Besides…"

Keenon caught on immediately. "We're overdue for trying to start a family you know, so, when you see janayirane again, please send her our way."

"Will do." Pushing his plate away, he sighed. "Just one last thing Tegan. Why in the Nine Hells is your title-name The Marana?"

"I thought it a good pun," she shrugged, ignoring his incredulous stare. "No, really. I know why you are so apprehensive – the actual Mara screwed me over really good – but, surviving her made me stronger than I ever could believe to be. Besides, I did help you defeat her, and as far as I know, that's what you always called me, so it fit."

He chuckled. "I stand corrected; it absolutely fits. 'Marána', brave heart, but also, 'Márana', 'Mara slayer'. No-one else would do."

"Only her," Keenon agreed. "So. Since I am going to do what I always have done, keeping the fire on while you lot are out, I take it you and your intended are going out again to save the universe?"

"Ye-p." Seeing their stares, he chuckled again. "Oh, you want to know when the Bonding is, right?"

"Pretty much, yeah," Tegan confirmed. "But as you said, our Lady is out there, saving our people, so I guess she's back exercising her rights as Head of House, including when you'll get bonded?"

"It's not that easy to get everything needed these days," he answered. "But it would be my greatest pleasure if you'd show up."

"It would be our honour, miruelai-rane," Keenon shook his head as they got up. "Come on, we'll see you off. Anyone left on the list?"

"You two were last… oh, I can't believe that woman. My own mother!"

"Feels like home, Thete, feels right like home."


February 14, 2009

The Doctor sat in line with the Jones family and his mother, watching the graduates of the Imperial College receive their diploma, in the Royal Albert Hall no less. I am so glad you didn't decide to wear the ceremonial jacket.

The Professor sent him the mental equivalent of making a face; she wore the dark blue version of her Valeyard jacket as the ceremonial uniform (silver white) would have stuck out like a sore thumb. I know the value of good camouflage, thank you, Theta. And hush ye now, it's her turn.

"Doctor Martha Jones," the Dean called. "Summa cum laude." Giving her a rare smile, the man handed her the diploma and shook her hand.

Martha received the paper and the praise with a blush and a bow, and, as she turned to the crowd, she couldn't contain herself any longer: She waved at them, smiling broadly.

As reward, the two Lungbarrow offered her a set of face-splitting grins. I am so proud of you, dearest, the Doctor sent her. We both are. Proud doesn't even cover it. There are no words for that.

How about you show me? Later? Martha sent back as she left the stage, with a little leer. I still have to show you off to the class.

Why?

Do you have any idea how many of my class were drooling about John Smith DSc, Internal ward, Theta? You're wandering trouble to both men and women! And of all of them, Martha no-social-life Jones gets him!

Oh really? Well, we don't want to disappoint, Doctor Jones, do we.

Indeed we don't, Doctor Smith, she smiled as he pulled her into a bear hug.

6

Suffice to say that Martha had a blast at the graduation ball, especially since she was one of the few actually with a long-term partner in tow – and the only one who was actually engaged to said partner. And for the first time in a while, the Doctor enjoyed himself without restraints or regrets, including a ton of jealous stares both of them got. (Their answer was the same as in 1969 against the racists – a good public snog. If anything, the whole day proved Martha right – it wasn't the black tie ensemble that spelt trouble, just the wearer's tendency to deliberately walk into it.)

Words were the power of Lungbarrow – talk till insane. But this night, he showed her just how proud he was without a single word beyond her name.


February 16, 2009

Martha packed the last of her clothes into a suitcase, closed it and slung her backpack over her shoulder, carrying that last luggage downstairs and grateful for her non-human strength. But, she had to concede, with her own flat mostly blown to smithereens, there wasn't much left of her belongings (one of the things she had had to buy after that year was a new laptop), the photographs replaced with copies the Professor had managed to steal from time, much to the dismay of the Doctor. Still, it was surprising to see her own life being able to fit into two suitcases, a sports bag and two boxes, especially since the two other Chronarchs lived in surroundings more close in size to something in between university campus and small neighbourhood – the Professor's TARDIS sported no less than four university-grade libraries, three tennis courts and a fully equipped 18-hole golf course with Gallifreyan redgrass, while the Doctor had two libraries of the same size and grade as well as seven squash courts, a karaoke bar and a scullery; both TARDISes currently featured two indoor swimming pools, a modernised Roman thermae, four gardens and a cinema. And every bedroom onboard was actually a full suite, consisting of study, bedroom, walk-in wardrobe and a luxury bathroom. I still wonder why they need all that space, she snickered as he turned up to pull everything into his TARDIS.

"Is that everything?" The Doctor was the picture of itchy feet as he closed the doors behind them.

"Yep. And not like we won't come back." Having said goodbye yesterday evening, the house was empty.

"Nope. But now, we'll have to wait until…" Just then, a few lights on the console went on. "Well, now. She scooped us up."

"So where are we going?" she asked as they left the Type 40, ending in the hangar of the Professor's.

"Get on the transduct and I'll show you. It's time you get to have your Viewing," their pilot's voice reverberated through the intercom. Doing just that, they found themselves in the console room. "Hey you two."

"Why didn't you just land around us, janayi?"

"Sorry. Habit. And we're going to Scima-Thera, Walker," the ancient woman shrugged, pulling the handbrake. "You seem to have a question though."

The take-off was smooth, but then again, it was the Professor's one-pilot TARDIS. "Why in the Nine Hells are your two TARDISes so ridiculously gigantic in living space?"

"Have you ever tried to fit the egos of six Time Lord pilots simultaneously into one building? No? Just for reference, Theta is, by Time Lord standards, rather modest. To do that comfortably, you need enough space for a small neighbourhood, and in my case, a lot of it is lab space, holding cells etcetera."

The young couple shot each other a look that said everything.

6

Scima Thera was a world in *relative* viewing distance from the Great Rift, and thus featured one of the 21 (semi-) natural schisms of the Antarian Empire. Its climate and flora reminded Martha strongly of Earth, even considering the plants came in various shades of purple. As they left the TARDIS, it was evening, just after sunset. "This place is gorgeous."

"Glad you like it. I admit, when I came here at the age of eight, I was too terrified to appreciate it," the older woman smiled, leading them to a complex of hedges and pillars.

"Wait, wait, wait. This is where you had your viewing, janayitrita?" the Doctor stuttered.

"Hole-in-one, taruelai. Look up, and you might see something familiar," she grinned mysteriously.

"What is…it…" His eyes went wide, the jaw hanging slack. "Kasterborous," he whispered. Indeed, above them, the seven star (eight if you considered that Kasterborianii was binary) constellation shone in the high heavens, just off Sagittarius encircling the core of Mutter's Spiral, or, as Antarians called it, Ossiligath, and "Milky Way" in Earth western civilisation.

"We are in viewing distance of the galactic centre, and thus, both Sagittarius and Gallifrey. Before that stupid dispute, this is where our initiates would come to see eternity, while the lords of this world would see infinity," the Professor explained calmly. "One of the most important institutions of this world is a Prophet Academy, where until 14.000 years ago, ideas and interpretations would be exchanged. Come now. We're expected."

Indeed, as they reached the core of the "labyrinth", with the circular containment ring holding the schism, several Antarians looked up or turned around, the only exception being a Cherubim staring into the schism, sitting cross-legged before it with the blue-tinted wings spread out. "It has been fourteen millennia since I welcomed a Child of the world that walks in the shadows, now sleeping between the dimensions. To have three to come here…" She vanished her wings and got up with the elegance of flowing water. Her style of dress betrayed her as the Dean of the Prophet Academy – a master Visionary. "I have waited a long time for this, Time-Weavers," she finished, still speaking New High Gallifreyan. "And it has been a while since I saw you, Milady. But this is not the time for words." She gestured at Martha. "De-ra'iya, strong one. I am Skasiel, Mistress of the Scima Thera Prophet Academy. I have been waiting for you for a long time."

"How?"

"It's what she does. She's a prophet, an Antarian Visionary. She looks at things and into the schism and sees the reality of everything. Every reality. Past, present, future," the Doctor explained, gently pushing her forward until the young woman stood in front of Skasiel.

"And what do you see when you look at me?" Martha wondered.

"Many things, but most of them magnificent." Skasiel answered in flawless English, the aqua eyes shimmering like pools. "I see the Time Lady to be I have in front of me, but I also see a human seras healer who walked out on him. And who would come back over and over again. Come now. Eternity is waiting."

Martha gulped slightly. While she knew that all these Antarians were here to protect her from going insane like the Master had done, there was a lingering fear of what she would be going to see. Eternity. All that is, was, will be, could be, must not. It was too easy to understand why some ran and others lost their minds. At the same time, she could hear it: The irresistible siren call of the schism, promising completion. No turning back now. Taking one slow step after the other, she passed the long row of Antarians – mind-healers and visionaries – and looked.

To see the worlds in a grain of sand, and all heavens in a wild flower, hold Infinity in the palm of your hand, and Eternity in an hour, Skasiel whispered.

And Time saw her, called, pleaded, demanded her, her help, her strength, everything she was. Heart of the Storm, Healer to the Learned Man, she called her.

Martha had not even realised she had run when she came face to face with a 6m high purple labyrinth hedge wall, the chest heaving with the effort. This is… is that what they see? What they hear? It's so much… so big. Shaken, she sat down on the bench marking the dead end. She had thought before it different – and dizzyingly difficult at first – to feel the passing of Time, but now… to see how the Antarians had managed to make this world long-lived and frankly, a paradise (Iyan, perfect world, they called it), seeing its Time. "This is too much," she whispered, closing her eyes to limit the number of timelines she could sense.

"Martha," a voice called out, soft but powerful at the same time, cutting through the haze. "Lairelai, it's I." The voice was her lifeline. As she looked up, the Doctor stood over her, his hand held out for her and his smile shining even though the only light was a water-element torch. "I'm here for you."

"I… I saw all of it… everything," She started, trying to focus on the here and now like in her lessons. "This is what you went through, isn't it? You saw all of Time and you ran. You, and your entire House."

"Keenon didn't run, he got a high on colours instead. Neither did my brother or Quences. Strangely enough, those who don't run in the House of Lungbarrow are somewhat of an underachiever, rarely leaving the planet. Brilliant, but creatures of comfort," the Doctor mused, sitting down beside her. "My mother ran. And it took the abilities of the Mistress of the Academy to find her. And that after she'd stood for hours before the schism."

Leaning into him, she shuddered. "Why did she freeze?"

"No-one really knows, she never says. Officially, it's because she had her Ears of Chronos already active, and her eyes needed to catch up, synchronise. Personally, I think she saw something about herself on top of that," he sighed before pressing a kiss to her temple.

She smiled at him. "So you're surprised that I ran as well?"

He shook his head. "Martha, no, Walker, from the very moment I met you I knew you were special. When janayitrita started planning your viewing… there is a reason I decided to wear my good running shoes today." He smiled. "I can hardly run all the time with janayi – not even I would be able to keep up with the speed and scale of a full Wraith of Gallifrey, not to mention it's rather childish, hanging on her coattails. But you, you're meant to run with me, and I with you. Before, you would wade in Time. Now, you've been thrown in and learnt to swim. And soon, you'll learn to dive, when the Ears will come active. Just like us."

They stared into each others eyes for a moment but felt like ages to them. They both started moving closer and closer till their lips finally met in a soft but loving kiss. The Doctor was the first to pull back but the moment there was a separation Martha pulled him back in, her tongue begging entrance, which the Doctor allowed gladly. Letting their tongues meet and perform their own dance, Martha gave out a moan as this happened and ran her hands through the Doctor's soft hair. He, in turn, groaned into her mouth, letting his hands wander all over her back. As finally both their respiratory bypass kicked in, they ended the kiss, leaning their foreheads together. Numbly, the Time Lady noticed she somehow had managed to end up in his lap. That's when she heard it. "Is someone singing?" she asked, confused.

He tilted his head and listened for a moment. "Oh that's the Visionaries. Hold on…" he concentrated, and then grinned. "Oh dear. It's Auguries of Innocence."

"Blake?" She lifted an eyebrow at him.

"Who do you think Blake was listening to when he wrote that?" He shook his head, chuckling. "I never had a confirmation until now, but I think Blake had the then-Watcher as a friend. It's the same poem – in High Antarian, as a song."

The Walker leant back, listening to the literally celestial chorus. "Your mother is right. There aren't any better singers anywhere or anywhen."

"I've never found better. Makes one glad janayi has a duet of them at hand for our bonding day." The Doctor answered as he kissed the side of her head. Martha then stood up. "Something wrong?"

She shook her head. "We should get back. I know now that this place is a maze for a reason – so the runners don't get far – but I have no idea how I got here. And your mother wanted to give us something before seeing us off."

"True enough." Leading her back to the centre of the maze, he prepared to say his goodbyes to Skasiel. "Mistress. We thank for your hospitality."

"No thanks is needed when needs must," the Cherubim declined. "I wouldn't like to ruin your Viewing with a prophecy, Walker, but they are best heard, not read."

"What is it?" Martha wondered.

"The old enemy lurks in the dark, stealing what is other ones' rights. But be steadfast in your beliefs, and passion's fire will consume them. Fire will try all of you, shake all your beliefs before a rebirth can take place, and fill the house with laughing chatter again," she intoned. "The seed will be planted soon, and grow into the mightiest of trees."

"Sounds about right," the Professor answered, having recorded the words. Her face was pensive. "Lady Kaletiel said something like that, centuries ago."

"I call it as I see it, Professor. And for you, Children of Gallifrey…" The Antarians surprised them by honouring them – they spread their wings. "May all the stars be bright on you… and all skies be friends to thee forever," they called.

Overwhelmed, the three bowed and left.

6

Much to his surprise, The Professor had used their absence to move his TARDIS out of the hangar. "So. Back to work," she smiled.

"And back to running," Martha quipped.

"I take it you'll drop us a message when you have all the stuff needed for our Bonding?" the Doctor asked tentatively.

"Count on it. Or when I need some backup." Rummaging through her (bigger-on-the-inside) pockets, she pulled out three objects. "Here you go."

"That's…" the Doctor frowned slightly as they took two exact copies of his mother's watch-disguised wrist computer. "No way."

"Yes way. Chronos Controller/Stattenheim remote control combo. Considering you always end up separated from your TARDIS, that's way overdue for both of you," she glared.

The younger pair laughed. "True enough," the Doctor conceded.

"And I know you don't have one anymore, so I thought it high time to replace it," she continued, handing him the last object: A hypercube.

"I don't think I'll need that."

"You of all people shouldn't say that," she smiled crookedly before pulling them into a hug. "May Time's hands rest kind on you, laiah taruelai."

"And history remember you with love, janayitrita," the Doctor smiled as he stepped back, leading Martha to their own TARDIS.

Remembering the parting between the 5th and the 10th Doctor, Martha smiled her own farewell. "To days to come, Professor."

Turning around in the door to her TARDIS, the ageless woman grinned foxily over her shoulder. "Long beyond the stars going out, Walker, Doctor." Door closing, the Professor and her TARDIS vanished, a slight breeze the only proof of her departure.

Smiling fondly, the Doctor closed the doors behind himself and took the captain's chair, while the Walker stood at the co-pilot's position. "Right then. Molto bene."

"What now?"

"Same as ever, don't you think, lairelai?" he teased.

"You mean, off to see starfire, end up in trouble, keep out signs are for others, get thrown into jail, do troubleshooting and run like hell?" she mused, then grinned. "I can't wait!"

Setting the coordinates for Meta Sigmafolio, he mirrored her grin maniacally. "In that case… Watch out universe, here come the Time Lords. Allons-y!"

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