Part 23 - There's Still Hope

Hope was a special girl. No one really noticed it because she didn't seem so different from any other teenager, but she was, and she knew just how unique, too. In fact, she was very special. She had once seen things that weren't meant to be seen, images from the future and shadows of the past, and she'd carried the entire vortex of time inside her head, and survived. This had been ten years ago now, but it could have been yesterday, for so vividly did she remember it, as well as the man who had saved her life - her father, the Doctor. She still had visions that came to her from across time, flickers of things what would be, or what had been, but these visions weren't coming to her as often or as strongly as they used to. Her mother thought that she might have an idea why, but she never told Hope exactly what her theories were. Perhaps it was better that she didn't know.

It was Tuesday afternoon, another Tuesday very much like last Tuesday, and it must be noted that it wasn't particularly special in any way, but it was yet another Tuesday in Hope's life that would prove to be most significant. Hope knew this from the moment that her rather dormant sixth sense began to tingle at the back of mind during lunchtime, and as the day progressed, she became more and more excited about what this might mean.

My a quarter-to-three in the afternoon, she was in another History lesson with Mrs. Gaskin, and was spending another forty-five minutes hearing about the Black Death, the plague doctors, and the red crosses that were painted on people's doors. It was fascinating, but Hope's concentration wasn't there. She kept looking out of the window at the school yard, noticing the little details that other days she would take for granted - like the way the trees swayed in the wind, the way a crisp-packet rolled across the concrete, and the pure azure-blue colour of the cloudless sky. Something was afoot but she had no idea what it was, or why she was feeling this way.

The bell rang finally at the end of the lesson, as the clock read three-thirty, and the class disappeared swiftly out of the door. It was home time! The voices of myriads of children echoed and shrilled down the corridors, and desperate feet, eager to get home, pounded down the stairs, making for the exits. White shirts were un-tucked from trouser and skirt hems, blue-and-red ties were loosened from about shirt collars, and black blazers were thrown off and carried over shoulders as the mass of pupils took flight.

Hope, however, took things slowly, almost as if she might never see them again, picking up on every smile, every individual laugh, and every joke pulled on every unsuspecting victim. She waved goodbye to friends, hitched her backpack over her shoulder, and made her way out of the school gates toward the spot where her mum or Uncle Jack would usually be waiting to pick her up. As she turned the corner onto Petunia Grove, though, she stopped and sighed. The car - either her mum's or Jack's - was not there.

Hope pursed her lips and shrugged, taking another good look around just to make sure that she hadn't missed it, but there wasn't a familiar car in sight. She thus let her bag slip off her shoulder, and she perched her backside on the street sign, swinging one of her feet back and forth as she waited for the arrival of her escort.

In the meantime, she couldn't help but let her mind wander again, as it had been doing often throughout the day, and looked around the street. There was a blue tit on the hedge over the road, stood near a couple of sparrows and a robin. The front door of house number five was a brilliant shade of red, something which she had never really noticed before, and there was some graffiti on the road sign on the opposite side of the street. It read 'Bad' something or other, but she couldn't read the other word since it was blocked off by the blue box.

Hope blinked and slowly rose to her feet. It couldn't be…

She looked both ways, picked up her bag, and walked across the road to study the great, blue monolith which was stood the other side of the road, and wondered why she hadn't noticed it to begin with. Now that she saw it, it stuck out like a sore thumb!

She halted just short of it, looking up at the doorway: 'Police Public Call Box', it read. The wooden panelling was a bit worn, and the paint was clearly flaking in several places, but, in her eyes, it was one of the most beautiful things in the universe. She rather felt that she had never quite seen anything so precious.

She reached out to touch it and, as her fingers connected with the familiar ship, a thrill was sent through her. It was her father's genes within her, she was certain of it, reacting to this ancient Galifreyan artefact. To her, it felt like home, but even more than this, it felt like an old friend.

She smiled and walked all the way round the TARDIS, running her hand over the rough panels and taking in the texture and the feel of it as she went. "I missed you," she whispered to the ship, stroking it like a dearly beloved pet, before she leant against the wood and just listened. There wasn't any noise to be heard in particular as she pressed her ear to the box, but there was a silence outside the noise which was beautiful to her - a vacuum of sound that only her ears could appreciate, the sweeping essence of the TARDIS.

She stood there for some time, absorbing all that the TARDIS exterior could give her, before she gave the door a knock and walked right in.

It was just the same as ever. The huge control room yawned out before her, with its great domed roof held up by coral pillars, it being just one tiny part of what was, in essence, a never-ending labyrinth of rooms and corridors. The TARDIS was a world inside a box, a magic trick and an illusion, and she loved it.

As she stood there across the threshold and patted her hand against the railings, the atmosphere felt as though it shifted. She smiled - it was the TARDIS, welcoming her back. "I missed you, too," she replied, taking a few steps further into the control room and staring up at the central column as it sat there glowing an eerie green-blue, still and at peace. She liked to think of the glowing column as the heart of the TARDIS, even though she knew far too well where the real heart was concealed, and of the blinding light that was contained therein.

"You've changed."

Hope turned and set her eyes upon the Doctor, the 'impostor'. He smiled back at her, unchanged from their last encounter, as samey as the TARDIS around them.

"You haven't," she retorted.

He laughed a little at that. "No, no… I don't age."

"You just make one big change once in a while, right?"

He cocked his head to one side. "I suppose that's one way of putting it."

"Will I ever change like that?" Hope asked, not really a question she'd been intending to ask. "Change my face and everything? Become someone new?"

He leant against the console, and replied frankly, "I don't know."

She nodded and looked down.

"You do look a lot like your mum," he continued.

She gave him a pleasant smile. "Everyone says that."

The Doctor gazed at her a moment longer before he pushed himself away from the console and paced around her, scrutinising her every feature. "Your hair's darker than Rose's, of course, and the eyes…" He lowered himself to his haunches and looked up into her eyes, making her smile even more. He nodded. "Yes… you have my eyes."

"The eyes you used to have, you mean."

He conceded with a quick nod and returned to his feet, reaching to scratch behind his head. "Well, yeah…"

Hope's eyes took on a sad aura. "Mum missed you, you know."

He nodded slowly. "I know."

"It was really hard for her. It still is. And can you blame her? I mean, you changed so completely… maybe not as much as she once thought, but still, it comes as a shock when someone you love transforms into a new face and almost a new personality." Hope paused, looking down as she felt her own emotions rise. "But then I have to stop and think of how you must feel, too." She stared into his eyes again. "How do you deal with it? The changes?"

He shook his head frankly. "I don't know. I just… get on with it, I suppose."

"And us? How are we meant to deal with it? The people you leave behind? Your family."

He looked down and sighed sorrowfully. "Family? My people are all gone…"

Hope shook her head. "But we're not. I'm not. Aren't we family?"

He turned and looked her up and down again. She had Rose's poise, that determined pout and confident manner, but her spirit… it was as much his as it was Rose's. "You're right," he said, and his aura brightened as he walked right up to her and said, "I have a proposition for you, Hope Tyler."

"Yes, dad?"

The Doctor grinned at this, and gently lay a hand on her shoulder. "Do you wanna come with me?"

The End

NB: Thank you to everyone for reading, and many more apologies for taking so long to finish what should have been an easy project. I've enjoyed writing it and I hope you've enjoyed reading it, too. There's no planned sequel since I have no story to continue with in my head, and I don't particularly like writing tenth Doctor stuff, but, as the saying goes, never say never. :) It's been for the fans, for the fun, and especially for Nine. :) Now go and enjoy series 3.