Chapter 11

The vaporizer. Remember it. The one the Doctor….

Tom's voice played in an endless loop over and over in her mind. He had been trying to tell her something.

The vaporizer.


Her eyes widened and she let out a little gasp. The man paused, his finger just touching the button, and his eyes flickered toward her, just for a moment.

That was all she needed. She lunged forward and rammed her head into the man's stomach. He fell backward. She grabbed his wrist and twisted his arm behind him until his fingers released the remote of their own accord.

She ground her foot into it and met his eyes. She heard a snap beneath her foot and kicked the broken pieces away. Rage flared across his face, and his form flickered to nothingness. She took a deep breath, and ran.

She flew down the alley and around another corner. The first barrel. The one the Doctor had opened. She closed her eyes and imagined the city from above, the streets spreading out before her like a map. She felt the walls pass by on either side of her and turned a corner, and another one. The noise of the crowd grew louder and louder, and she opened her eyes and looked around.

Not quite.

She took off down a side alley. Her breath came in short gasps, and her feet pounded hard against the cobblestones. She thought she heard the sound of running feet behind her, and she turned another corner, and another.

She closed her eyes again, and let her memory guide her.

She had come from the printing shop. Down the main street, and through a few alleyways. The noise of the crowd swelled, and died away, as if cheering for some especially well-spoken speech. Still she ran. One single voice rose above the crowd, and still she ran. She had run down the main street, empty then, and swerved into an alley. And there they had run right into…

Her eyes popped open and she skidded to a stop. She stood to the side of the meeting house, and the crowd spread out before her. A single barrel stood at her feet, and around the corner, she thought she saw…

Yes! She dove around the corner and snatched up the vaporizer, which lay fallen on the cobblestones. A figure skidded around the corner, and she whirled to see the Doctor.

He looked at the vaporizer, and back to her. A grin spread over his face, and he laughed.

"Oh yes!" he cried. "Oh, yes!"

She felt a grin tugging at the corners of her lips. She nodded, hugging the vaporizer and nearly jumping up and down.

"We did it!" she cried. "Oh, we did it!"

A shadow loomed around the corner, and she shoved the vaporizer into the Doctor's arm. "You've got a coat," she hissed. "Hide it." He shoved it under his coat, and they looked at each other, and their eyes met. They joined hands, and took off down the alley and into the crowd.

"Sorry—terribly sorry." The Doctor pushed his way through the people, still now, and listening to a single man speak. "Terribly important. If you'll just let us through—sorry. Sorry about that. You'll thank us. Or maybe you won't. In fact, you probably won't know we were here. But that's best! You aren't ready for it yet. Sorry."

A man put his fingers to his lips and pulled the Doctor to a stop. He glanced around, and jerked his hand from the man's. "Sorry," he said again. "Bit of a hurry, if you'll just excuse me…"

His voice faded into the background, and Rey tensed. A cloudlike consciousness pressed itself against her mind.

She pulled back and forced her way forward. They wouldn't dare show themselves in the crowd—not with that flash of light they made when they materialized. Oh—they were probably reading her thoughts. The foglike bubble seemed to hug her, and cling to her. He was following her!

She looked at the Doctor. Run, she mouthed, and took off through the crowd. She shoved her way past person after person, and felt herself tear through the edge of the bubble that surrounded her.

"Please—just let me past! It's important." She shoved a middle-aged woman out of the way, and nudged a little boy with her foot. The consciousness rubbed against her mind again, and she tried to run. "Please—I need past. Please!"

The people thinned, and she wove through them, faster, faster, faster, her body tense and her eyes searching for the clearest path through the crowd. A wall rose up in front of her, and she skidded to a stop. The Doctor popped out of the crowd, and their eyes met.

He nodded, and squeezed his coat. She sighed, and shrugged. He motioned his head toward the next house over, and she started down the alley. They flew around a corner, and skidded to a stop, a single barrel sitting, its face pointed toward the crowd.

They looked at each other, and grinned.

A white light flashed behind her, and another, and another. Five figures surrounded them, each holding a remote.

Their eyes met. The Doctor held up his hands and Rey shrugged.

"You are lying." The leader stepped forward. "You are not innocent. We have chased you through streets and through alleys. You are not innocent."

"You're right!" The Doctor stepped forward, his hands in the air. "We've done something. But you know what? One of your men has pressed the button." He jerked his head toward the nearest man, standing, his finger on the button of his remote. "Oh, you thought you were smart, didn't you? You thought, since we were in the way of the barrel, you'd just vaporize us and go about your business. But you know what? We're not in the way of the barrel." He tilted his head toward the barrel. "Something else is."

As one, five heads turned toward the barrel, and five men started forward. The leader whirled, and yanked his gun from his belt.

The Doctor shrugged apologetically. "It's already getting ready to detonate. And I'm sorry, I'm so, so, sorry, but I'm afraid you've just lost your last two vaporizers."

The man turned.

A wavering cloud shot from the barrel, and another from the shadows of a corner, where the grey outline of the other vaporizer could be seen, pointed at the barrel. The two clouds met, and a blinding flash filled the alley. Rey squeezed her eyes shut.

She heard the sound of feet pounding against the cobblestones, and a cry, wavering, dying. She opened her eyes carefully, and stared, frozen, as the forms of five men turned to mist, which curled, and floated away into the sky. The barrel and the vaporizer collapsed, spitting out cloud after cloud toward each other. Bit by bit, they disintegrated, and whirled away in a breeze.

Rey let out a sigh, and leaned back against the wall. "We did it." Her breath came in short gasps, and her eyes were wide. "We finally did it."

The firelight flickered on the faces of Mr. and Mrs. Lancaster as Rey set Tom's gloves gently on the woman's lap. She lowered her eyes, and she laid her hand in the older woman's.

"I'm sorry," she said, and her voice was low. "I—I'm so sorry."

Mr. Lancaster approached, his hat pulled low over his face, the newspaper tucked into the crook of his arm. Rey jumped to her feet, and snatched it from him.

"Mr. Lancaster." She ripped the newspaper down the middle, and met his eyes with tearful determination. "Listen to me. No matter what you thought of him, no matter how many times you fought with him, your son was—is—and always will be—a true hero." Tears stung her eyes, and she met his cold gaze. "And he loved you. And he wanted—" She trailed off, and swallowed hard. "He wanted nothing more than for you to love him." She fought back the tears in her voice. "And he wouldn't—he wouldn't want you to call him that. A hero, I mean. But please—please remember him as one." She stood straighter. "Remember that he…that I'm alive now, because of him." Her voice caught, and she slumped into the chair beside Mrs. Lancaster. "And I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."

Mrs. Lancaster's arm went around her shoulders, and before she could stop herself, she was in the older woman's arms, her head resting on her shoulder.

"I'm sorry." She blinked back tears as sobs caught at her throat. "I should be the one comforting you. I should—"

But the woman's arms tightened around her, and she let herself collapse into them, let the tears come, and wet the shoulders of her dress.

Mr. Lancaster stepped silent to their side, and his hand came to rest on his wife's. And together they stood, staring into the fire.

"There we go. Good as new!" The Doctor slipped his new sonic screwdriver back into his pocket and set the little droid on the floor of the TARDIS. It rolled around for a moment, moved its head back and forth, and looked up at him with a happy beep.

Rey smiled, and reached down to pat its head. It bumped against her ankles and looked up at her with a little beep. "You know, BB8," she said, "you saved the world."

If the little droid could have blushed, it would have.

She stopped for a moment, her hand resting on the door. "All these people," she said softly, looking out into the bustling street. "Fighting desperately for something they have such a small chance of winning." She turned to the Doctor, and there was longing in her eyes. "Do they win, Doctor? Do the rebels win?"

He stepped to her side, and smiled. "Yes," he said. "They win. Seven years of hard-fought battles, clinging to a thread of hope, just one little thread. And they win."

"I'm glad." She turned from the street, and stepped inside, closing the doors behind her. "I'm glad they win."

The Doctor grinned, and bounded to the console. "Soo…what now? The future? Another planet? The past?"

She met his eyes, and they just stared at each other for a long, silent moment. His hand fell to his side, and the grin dropped from his face. "Oh," he said. "You're not—well. I guess I can get you back. If the throughway's still open, I can probably—"

"No." She stepped to his side. "I'm coming with you." She looked away, and a wistful smile curled around her lips. "Tom—Tom died so I could travel the stars." She allowed herself to laugh a little, and rested her hand on his. "Come on then," she said. "Allons-y?"

The End.

Thanks to everyone who's followed me this far! I'm very sorry to have to announce that this is, unfortunately, the last I'm going to write of this series at the moment. I have quite a few sequels in the works, and they will be written at some point, but Real Life is calling, and I have other writing projects (most specifically, a novel) that I'd like to focus on at the moment. I'll probably be back sometime this summer. See you all then! :)