They stayed at the reception for another half hour, the Doctor taking Lyssa back out onto the dance floor for another dance, before they both looked at the newly married couple completely absorbed in each other, and decided without speaking that it was time to step out for the night. Lyssa couldn't help but smile as she looked back and saw Rory pull Amy in for another kiss. "They deserve each other," she whispered to the Doctor as they stepped outside into the cool night air, arm in arm.
He nodded, a soft smile appearing on his face. "More than you know."
Lyssa looked up at the sky as they walked towards the TARDIS, enjoying the breeze on her face, and watching the bright stars as they twinkled far above them. "Looks like all the stars have made it back," she commented.
The Doctor looked up and chuckled, pulling out his TARDIS key. "And there might even be an extra star or two out there. Pond always was a dreamer."
Lyssa swiveled her head around to stare at him. "What? There's... more stars now? How is that possible?" He stopped and looked down at her, raising an eyebrow in amusement.
"She was able to bring both of us, and her parents, and all the stars that ever were, back into existence simply because she remembered us, and you question the appearance of a new star?"
She snorted. "Well, when you put it that way, I guess it sounds a little bit strange. But, come on. My life just got thrown upside down less than two weeks ago. Let me complain about this one thing that doesn't make sense," she protested.
"Does anything ever really make sense when he's around?" A new voice said, interrupting their conversation and stopping the Doctor from putting the key in the door. They both spun around to see River standing there, looking as elegant as ever in a black dress, her curls hanging loosely around her face.
"River!" Lyssa cried happily, releasing the Doctor to grab the older woman in a hug. River laughed, returning the hug before returning her to the Doctor, who seemed to be quite happy to get her back, slinging his arm around her shoulders.
"To answer your previous question with one of my own, how about you tell me?" Lyssa countered. "You both apparently know me a lot better than I know you, so...?" She eyed them both curiously, expecting a 'spoilers!' in response.
Instead, River smirked, her eyes dancing. "I think lots of things start to make sense after a while... if you know what you're doing, which he rarely does. It's why he's such a bad driver."
"Oi!" he protested. "I'm not that bad!"
River just looked at him with a raised eyebrow. "Leadworth. Off by twelve years. Rose. Off by one year. Norgalith. Thorkan's drive. I hardly need to expound on that one, don't you agree?"
"I - well - No," he muttered in defeat, pouting. He brightened up though, a minute later, pulling River's old, worn journal out of his pocket and handing it to her. "The writing's all back, but I didn't peek."
She smiled, looking happy to see it again. "Thank you."
"Hold on," Lyssa objected, suddenly remembering something. "Wasn't that one of Rory and Amy's wedding presents? Did you nick that off the gift table? Also, how do you know that the writing's back, if you didn't peek?" She eyed him. "Doctor, have you been cheating?" She asked teasingly.
He looked offended. "I have not," he defended himself. "And I don't think that the humans really need access to the secrets that River Song may have written in her journal. Not yet, anyways. They can create enough problems on their own. And speaking off secrets," he added, pulling out River's vortex manipulator and handing it to her. "Here's this back. Might need it for something in the future. No spoilers, though," he said mockingly. He paused, watching her look it over. "Are you married, River?"
She started to put the vortex manipulator on. "Are you asking?"
"Yes," the Doctor said simply, not sure where this might be leading. She looked up, then over at Lyssa closely, obviously thinking about something. After a minute, she smiled, and said, "Spoilers. I'm not married to you, though, if that's what you're asking."
He looked repulsed by the thought. "Eww, no. Why would I want to marry you? And why would I ask that? Especially considering...well, you know." He looked down at Lyssa, who was watching them both with a semi-confused expression on her face. "Wait. That wasn't very polite, was it?"
Blinking, she snapped out of her thoughts. Thinking about what he had just said, she snorted and shook her head. "Not really, no."
He looked back at River. "Sorry."
She smirked at them both. "No worries, Doctor. I understand. Spoilers, you know," she said, raising her eyebrows knowingly. "I know what you were trying to say."
He sighed and shook his head. "River... who are you?"
She smiled sadly. "You're going to find out very soon now. And I'm sorry, but that's when everything changes," she breathed, looking at Lyssa with concern. "Take care of her, Doctor," she said, activating her manipulator and disappearing with a flash.
The Doctor looked down at Lyssa. "Do you know what she meant by that?"
She frowned uncertainly. "I don't know. In theory, if things haven't changed from what I know, then yes. I do. But the way she acted, and the way this conversation changed... I think what she was talking about, at least, is different from what it's supposed to be." The Doctor unlocked the TARDIS door and pushed it open, pausing to let her in. He stopped, thinking back over the conversation, and arriving at some sort of conclusion that made him frown.
"Lyssa, you know that some things are different from what you know, right?" He asked in concern.
She frowned, not sure where he was going with this. "Well, obviously. I'm here, for one. And I've already seen things change. And I've been able to change things myself, like how Ashton and Abby didn't die when we were heading towards the sun."
He shook his head. "Well, that's not quite what I meant, but close enough. Lyssa, yes, things have changed from what you know, but that doesn't necessarily mean that things are different from what they're supposed to be here."
She furrowed her brow. "I don't understand."
He ran a hand through his hair, sliding it back from his face. "The basic stream of events seems to be the same for the most part. But, this is not the universe you saw that take place in. You're here. You've been here for quite a while, from my point of view. You're supposed to be here, in this timeline. I've seen what happens what you're taken out of the timeline," he added in a quieter voice, his eyes distant and unhappy.
"I know you won't understand fully for a while, but try to at least understand that you're supposed to be here, I want you here, and time isn't being destroyed just because somethings are different from what you know. Even some of the bigger things," he added, seeing her start to object. "Have you got that?"
She nodded. "Loud and clear."
He nodded in satisfaction. "Good."
He released her and danced his way up to the console. He was about to flip a switch when the door opened, and Amy came marching in, still in her wedding dress. "Oi! Where are you off to?" She demanded. "We haven't even had a snog in the shrubbery yet!"
Lyssa chuckled and moved towards her, noticing her husband come up behind her. Her eyes twinkling, she said, "Don't worry, Amy, there's still time. We'll wait for you." Pushing the new bride out the door and into Rory's arms, she shut the door behind them and moved back to the console, where the Doctor was waiting, amusement clear on his face. "That should take them a minute or two," she said with satisfaction.
In fact, it was three minutes later when the couple came in, Amy's curls a bit disheveled , and both looking extremely happy. Amy waggled a finger at Lyssa as she came marching up to her. "That was... actually really nice," she admitted. "But anyways. Where were you planning on going?" She asked, spinning on the Doctor, who managed to hide his smile better than Lyssa.
"Sorry, you two...shouldn't have slipped away. Bit busy, you know?" he said with a shrug. "But we both thought it was time to leave."
"You just saved the whole of space and time. Take the evening off. Maybe a bit of tomorrow," Rory suggested, a bit disbelieving.
The Doctor looked at him seriously. "Space and time isn't safe yet. The TARDIS exploded for a reason. Something drew the TARDIS to this particular date, and blew it up." He frowned as the phone began to ring. "Why? And why now? The silence, whatever it is, is still out there, and I have to...Excuse me a moment," he trailed off as he answered the phone. "Hello. Oh! Hello. I'm sorry, this is a very bad line. No, but that's not possible. She was sealed into the Seventh Obelisk. I was at the prayer meeting. Well, no, I get that it's important. An Egyptian goddess loose on the Orient Express...in space! Give us a mo." He covered the phone and whispered to Amy and Rory. "Sorry, something's come up. This will have to be goodbye."
"Yeah, I think it's goodbye. Do you think it's goodbye?" Amy asked her husband.
He nodded. "Definitely goodbye."
She smiled, opening the TARDIS door and leaning out, waving. "Goodbye! Goodbye!" She called out into the night, before shutting it and looking back at everyone else.
The Doctor smiled with satisfaction and turned back to the phone. "Don't worry about a thing, Your Majesty. We're on our way." He hung up and turned back to the others, a wild grin on his face as everyone grabbed onto the console. "Geronimo!" He shouted, slamming down the lever that sent them whirling into the time vortex.
Lyssa leaned against the console tiredly as Amy and Rory disappeared into the TARDIS hallway, still in their wedding clothes. "Well, that was a ride," she commented, blowing a loose strand of hair out of her face.
The Doctor made a face as he stabilized the TARDIS, letting them drift gently in the vortex. "Well, yes. We never actually got to the Orient Express, which was a shame. I keep meaning to go there, and never get the chance. But apparently somebody," he said with emphasis, staring at the console. "Thought we needed to go to the Orient Express on earth."
"Well, we were kind of needed there, too," Lyssa pointed out. "Apparently trains attract trouble no matter where they're located."
He shrugged. "You could say the same about people. But," he reached across the console and flipped another switch, jumping backwards as sparks flew. "Problem's solved, now, and the Ponds are off by themselves for the night. I'll try and keep things calm for them. No more adventures for the time being. What're your plans for the night?" he asked.
She shrugged. "I don't know... Read? Watch a movie? I don't feel very sleepy..." He nodded in understanding. "Well, you've had a very busy day. And you did get stuck in a time loop for 2,000 years. Which reminds me. I would like to check you over, make sure there're no lasting effects from today."
She pursed her lips, but gave in when she saw his pleading face. "Fine. But at least let me change out of my dress first," she added, looking down at her long, blue dress.
He nodded. "Meet you in the Infirmary."
She sighed. "Again," she commented dryly, hurrying up the steps and down to her room. Slipping inside, she reached behind her back and unlatched the dress, sighing in relief as it fell to the floor. It may have fit just fine, but there's something to be said for wearing sweatpants and a comfortable T-shirt, too. Hanging it up on a loose hanger in her closet, she pulled on some comfortable clothes and began the task of combing out her curls.
Perhaps as a result of what the TARDIS did, it was fairly easy to comb out, and left her hair with a bit of wave at the ends. Leaving it down, she threw on some ballet slippers, and, about to leave, spied her journal sitting on the table next to her bed. Pausing, she reached over and grabbed it, looking at the bed with a frown. She had a feeling that she wouldn't be sleeping there tonight. More to the point - she didn't really want to sleep at all tonight. She remembered her restless sleep after their last big adventure, with the Tenth Doctor and Martha, and had no desire to go through a repeat tonight, particularly after the day's events.
Shaking her head to dismiss her thoughts, she hurried out of the room and tried to find the Infirmary. Whether because she had been there so often, or because the TARDIS was making it easy for her, it was right down the hallway. The Doctor was waiting for her inside, by the examination table, looking over some scans with a frown. He looked up when she came in, though, a smiled appearing on his face.
"Ahh, Lyssa. Hello! Would you mind hopping up here for a mo'?" he asked. "Shouldn't take too long, I just want to make sure that nothing's wrong after the time loop, and all that."
She frowned, hopping onto the table. "Why would something be wrong?" she asked. "You didn't seem that concerned about River, and she was stuck there with me, too."
He sighed, bringing one of the overhead machines closer and turning it on, stepping back as it revolved around her body. "River doesn't have the time vortex running through her body," he pointed out. "And... there are other factors at play, which I can't explain right now, because you find out about them later."
She sighed. "No end to the spoilers, huh?"
He smirked, pushing the machine back to it's place once it was finished with its scan, and looking over the results. "You tell me-" he started to say, before stopping, his eyes flashing over the report.
"What is it? What's wrong?" Lyssa asked, seeing his eyes widen.
He held up a finger, reading it through carefully before turning to look at her hesitantly. She felt her heart drop, uncertain what he was about to say. "I can't explain everything, but... as a result of you being in the time loop for so long, you won't be jumping any time soon."
She furrowed her brow. "Well, isn't that a good thing? That just means I won't be jumping right away... right?" she asked uncertainly.
He frowned. "Unfortunately, I can't explain it fully. But... Lyssa, you jump because you need to to survive. The time jumps help save your life," he said, emphasizing the word 'life.'
Her eyes widened. "What? Are - are you saying that I'm about to die because I won't be jumping right away?"
He hastily tried to reassure her. "No, no, no. There's quite a large time span that would be required before it would kill you, years, in fact, and other variables factor in as well. It's just, that...as a result of certain conditions, and these particular circumstances, if you stay for an extended period of time, you might start to feel sick. Nothing fatal, you just wouldn't feel very good."
She didn't feel very reassured. "Is that why I feel so tense now? Because I didn't jump while I was in the time loop?"
He started to shake his head, paused, then said, "Not exactly. You're feeling tense for the same reason I am - time was restarted and, because we're both sensitive to disruptions to the flow of time, it affects us both. It's just a side effect of rebooting the universe. It should wear off in a day or two. As for the other matter... the only reason why I'm concerned now, is, because you were erased from time, I think you were rebooted along with the universe. That reset your system, and now it might take a while for it to get back to normal."
He started pacing the room. "Which is why you'll be fine if you stay here for a while. Considering the results, it would actually be beneficial for you not to jump, right now, at least." He sighed, running a hand through his hair again. "In time, you'll need to jump again, of course, but... let's just say that right now you're better off not jumping." Lyssa swallowed hard. She didn't know the full extent, obviously, but clearly there was more here than just good old-fashioned 'time jumping.' She had had no idea that it was to save her life.
"Is there anything I should do?" She asked nervously.
He shook his head, trying to smile reassuringly at her. "No. Your body will start to heal all on its own. Just try to eat healthy, get enough sleep, etc. You know, take care of yourself. You'll jump when your body's ready."
She nodded. "All right. I'm gonna head to the TV room, maybe watch something before I go to bed. If I go to bed, she added mentally, now feeling even less like she wanted to sleep.
He nodded in understanding. "I'm going to look over the TARDIS real quick. She seems a bit fussy, and I want to make sure that everything's in working order. I might join you there, later."
"'K, see you around," she called, hopping off the table and walking out of the room. Not entirely certain where the TV room was, she just picked a direction and began walking randomly, hoping that the TARDIS would help her. She had no idea if she was helped or not, but she saw an open door around five minutes later, and headed towards it. Peeking her head in the door, her eyes widened as she saw what was evidently the TV room. A large screen was displayed on one wall, and comfortable couches and chairs lay on stairs leading down to it, allowing each level a clear view of the screen. A popcorn machine and fridge stood off to the back wall, and and a smaller screen stood next to them offering lists of movie suggestions.
She shrugged and began to look through the options, seeing literally thousands of options to choose from. A list of earth classics caught her eye, and she picked that one, hoping to find something familiar. She smiled when she saw one title, and immediately picked it, jumping as the large screen on the wall turned on with a loud noise. Picking a chair that looked nice about halfway down the stairs, she sat down and was almost swallowed by it. Managing to sit up straight, she popped the foot rest out and saw a soft, folded blanket lying next to the base of the chair. Smiling, she pulled it over herself and snuggled up in it as the opening credits to 'The Princess Bride' began to play.
The lights dimmed around her, she watched the movie, quoting along with her favorite lines. When it finished, before the lights could go back on, she hesitantly asked if the TARDIS could play it again. The flicker of the beginning of the movie was her answer. She settled back in her seat, smiling gratefully up at the ceiling. "Thanks," she whispered, pulling out her journal. She wanted to write, and the movie playing in the background provided a good distraction to keep her from getting too lost in her thoughts.
She flipped it open, stopping and looking over her last few entries, her cheeks flushing again as she read through the entry titled '42.' But it also made her think of what River and the Doctor had both said - both denied any attraction to each other, and River had made it clear that she wasn't married to him. Turning to a blank page, she started writing out the events of the Pandorica, especially noting what River had said, and circling it, followed by the Doctor's explanation that things wouldn't necessarily play out the same from what she had known before - and, even more, that things sometimes weren't supposed to follow what she knew.
She huffed a breath in frustration, trying to figure it out, before making a star by it so that she wouldn't forget about it, before moving on, writing what had happened when the universe reset, and the worrying discovery that she wouldn't be jumping any time soon - as well as why.
"Why the long face?" the voice made her jump and drop her pencil, looking up in surprise. The Doctor was sitting on the couch next to her, a bowl of popcorn in his lap, and some grease smudges on his face.
She shook her head. "Just some stuff I have to figure out. You know. Spoilers. The usual."
He shrugged. "Why worry about it now? Like Rory said, we did just save the universe. Why not take a break and enjoy it?"
She pursed her lips and thought about it for a minute before nodding reluctantly. "All right," she agreed, putting her journal and pencil on the floor next to her chair.
"The Princess Bride?" The Doctor asked, tilting his head to the side as he watched the movie.
She nodded. "It'd been a while since I'd seen it, so I decided to watch it again. Plus, I'd read that watching movies that you're familiar with can help calm you down, because you know how it ends, so... I watched it again," she admitted.
He smiled. "No reason not too. Centuries in the future, it's still considered a classic, even after everything else."
She nodded in satisfaction. "Good. It deserves to be," she added, stifling a yawn. He chuckled, pressing something on the side of his chair that made the room completely dark aside from the movie screen. Lyssa leaned back in her chair, pulling the blanket up around her shoulders as she fought off another yawn. They watched the rest of the movie in silence, Lyssa's eyelids growing heavier. At last, she gave up the fight and closed her eyes, giving into the exhaustion she had been feeling for the last few hours, and falling into a dreamless sleep.
The next morning, she was surprised to wake up in her bed, but realized that the Doctor must have brought her there, and flushed at the thought. He didn't have to do that, but it was nice to not wake up with a crick in her neck, so she wasn't going to complain. The Doctor dropped the Ponds off for their honeymoon on a starliner, promising to be back in a week or two. He then proceeded to latch onto a distress signal, sending them shooting clear to the other side of the galaxy on what ended up being a trap set by scavengers in an effort to take the ships of those who stopped to help.
They managed to stop them, but not before a stray shot sent after them while they were running back to the TARDIS managed to miss them both, fly through the open door, and hit the console, sending sparks flying everywhere. They ended up crash landing on Earth, stumbling out through the doors to escape the billowing smoke.
Unfortunately, as soon as the doors were shut, the TARDIS shut down and immediately began to disappear. According to the Doctor, it had moved somewhere safe to fix itself, and would be hidden in an effort to protect itself from further harm until it was all fixed. Apparently, while he was fixing it the night before, he had accidentally activated the HADS, but due to the console itself being damaged, it was not responding as it should be.
So, they spend the next week waiting on the east coast of America, where they had apparently landed, in the middle of the 20th century, before finally getting a signal. The TARDIS had relocated to the other side of the American coast. And, due to the Doctor misplacing his psychic paper before they left the TARDIS, they were unable to take a train. They were, however, able to get ahold of some camping supplies, and began the long trek across America. It only took them three months, instead of the usual 5-6, thanks to the kindness of passing drivers that would pick them up and give them rides for some distance down the road.
All in all, they were very grateful when they came across the TARDIS sitting peacefully in the middle of a cornfield in the state of Utah. The Doctor immediately shut off the HADS, promising to make sure that they were off the next time they went on a trip, before ensuring that the TARDIS was fully operational this time, agreeing to take a break before going on another adventure. Lyssa had thrown away her worn tennis shoes, vowing to never take up jogging as a habit, and had gratefully sank into a very large, very warm bubble bath.
They spent the next week relaxing, before Lyssa reluctantly got back into the swing of adventures, still disliking the running, but enjoying the trips with the Doctor. The trip across America had drawn her closer to him, and she now counted him as a close friend; but that didn't make it any less awkward when he found her crying in her bedroom one day when he stopped by to check on her.
"What's wrong?" he asked in concern, hurrying over to her.
She sniffed unhappily, her journal spread out before her. "Nothing," she muttered, swiping a hand over her nose.
"I hope you don't expect me to believe that that's true," he commented, sitting gently on the bed.
She looked away. "I'm fine, just tired. That's all." He paused, taking in her surroundings. Her journal lay open to a page covered with writing, and a picture of the two of them dancing at Amy and Rory's wedding lay on it, evidently produced for her by the TARDIS. On another, loose sheet of paper, lay a rough drawing of a woman that he recognized, though not, it must be said, with a great deal of fondness.
"Are you... homesick?" he asked carefully. She sniffed again, looking at him, then where he was looking.
She flushed, flipping the drawing of her mother over. "Not really. At least, I don't really miss her, if that's what you're asking. It's stupid," she muttered, looking away again.
"Then what's got you so upset?" he asked gently.
She scrubbed at her eyes. "I was just flipping through my journal, and I saw that," she said, indicating the photo of them dancing, and smiling at each other. "And it just sort of... hit me all at once, I suppose. Just that... even then, I trusted you, more than my own mother, and I'd barely known you for all of two weeks."
She shook her head. "I mean, you're one of my best friends now, so of course I trust you. But, I've still only known you for three months. And I trust you more than I ever trusted her. My own mother! And even back home, the friends I'd known for years, I still..." she stopped. "Like I said. It's stupid," she muttered.
He watched her carefully. "Do you... regret trusting me, Lyssa?" he asked gently, keeping his face neutral.
She snapped her head around to look at him. "Absolutely not! I trust you with my life. It's just... You shouldn't trust people like that, after only three months. And I trusted you after less than two weeks! But even knowing that I wouldn't trust other people to this extent after such a short time, I still trust you. I don't know why, though. Maybe because I knew you from before, knowing what you were like, before I even met you?"
He smiled at her gently. "Sometimes the heart decides before the brain can. Thank you, Lyssa. I don't take your trust lightly, I promise."
She nodded, swiping at her nose again. "I know you don't. I don't even really know why I'm crying. I just, I saw that picture, and wanted to draw a picture of my mom, so that I wouldn't forget her, but once I saw her, I didn't want to see her anymore, and I just started crying." She sighed. "Ugh. I'm such a mess. Sorry for taking it all out on you."
He shook his head. "No. That's what friends are for. To take care of each other when we're down. So, on that note, how about I show you something cool? Maybe it'll help cheer you up."
She looked up at him hesitantly. "Like what?"
He smiled, standing up and offering a hand to her. "Like the Markets of Aznakan. It was formed by two groups that used to be at war with each other. The reason why was lost to time, but they eventually realized that their fighting was pointless, brought to their senses by a good fairy, or so the legends say, and became friends; forming a peaceful union that was strong enough to last centuries, producing some of the most valuable artwork and jewelry in their galaxy.
"I have something I've been meaning to get something from there anyways, and it'd be a good chance to show you the place. The natural waterfalls are considered some of the most beautiful natural phenomena for light years."
She shrugged, taking his hand and letting him pull her up. "All right. Let's see this amazing place of yours." He grinned, helping her up.
They were halfway down the hallway when she stopped, a sharp pain suddenly coursing through her, robbing her of breath. He turned to look at her, his eyes wide. "Lyssa? Are you all right?" She tried to speak, but ended up giving a strangled cry as the pain worked its way through her body, collapsing to the ground. He knelt beside her. "What's wro- oh." His shoulders sagged. Blinking through the tears, Lyssa managed to make out the gold mist engulfing her hand and swarming up her wrist.
"It's never hurt this much before," she managed to choke out.
He nodded. "I know. But you haven't jumped for over three months. And depending on where you're jumping too..." He paused. "You'll find out why, soon. I promise. Just hold on, Lyssa. Wherever you end up, I'll be there soon, no matter what it takes. I promise." She nodded, unable to concentrate on his words as the pain intensified before everything went black, immediately fading into a cold, metal floor that helped somewhat to soothe the pain, even though she had no idea where she was.
A/N: Dang it. This chapter needed so much editing... *sigh* I even had to cut out something I'd been planning for months, and save it for a later date. All well... it'll happen in its own time, I guess. Huge thank you to everyone who's favorited and followed (62 favorites and 90 follows?! You guys are amazing!) and shout-out to E-man-dy-S and guest for reviewing! I'm really glad that you guys liked my story so far. We should be seeing the Twelfth Doctor next chapter! Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed! :)
General Disclaimer: I don't own Doctor Who, but Lyssa's all mine!