Title: Time In Blue

Author: TardisIsTheOnlyWayToTravel

Story Summary: Susan survived the Time War. Now in the aftermath, she does her best to live.

Setting: After the Time War, before and during series one of New Who. Spoilers for Seventh Doctor story Battlefield in this, but not that many. Quite a few references to Classic Who, although you should be able to understand the fic even if you've never seen those episodes.

Author note:

Crossover alert. See the end of this chapter for info.

Also I must thank Wiggiemomsi, who has been incredibly patient about this story and has not sent me angry emails or anything despite my total lack of act-togetherness. She won this fic in the author auctions ages ago, and I've been really slow getting it out.


TIME IN BLUE

CHAPTER FOUR

ABERRATION


When he'd first seen the reconfigurations Susan had put in place, the Doctor had spent some time going "what have you done?" in disbelieving tones, before spending several hours improving Susan's slapdash work, muttering things like "look at these connections" and "this is an artron conductor, Susan, what'd you use it for? And endothermic converter would've been much better."

Susan had listened to all his strictures, pointing out that her education had been somewhat hit-and-miss since she had after all been forced to rely on his teaching rather than attending the academy, which started another argument about his ability to educate, before she made console adjustments according to his instruction.

On Friday, however, Susan joined her Grandfather in a TARDIS that had been modified more or less to his satisfaction, although he still spent a lot of his time repairing minor damage and maladjustments that had occurred during the war.

"Right. Shall we get on with it then?"

"I'm ready. It'll be rather nice to travel in the old girl again, just you and me," Susan observed, looking pensively around the console room. She still wasn't used to its current appearance.

At this point a chorus of voices singing "let's do the time warp again!" blared unexpectedly from the console.

Susan let out a gurgle of laughter at the look her grandfather was giving the heart of the machine.

"Does she do that often?" she managed.

"Not for a while, no." The Doctor was frowning. "Did it quite a bit during my last regeneration – think it was Iris' fault, somehow – just played music at odd moments that had something to do with what we were talking about at the time. At one point she was playing 'Cherry, Cherry' every time we rematerialised, definitely Iris' fault that one, and me an my companion ended up with the lyrics permanently engraved to our brains. Got rid of that eventually, I'm glad to say."

By the end of this story Susan was smiling.

"I expect she did it to liven things up a bit," she said.

"Iris or the TARDIS?" the Doctor wanted to know.

"Both of them."

He snorted at the idea.

"I can do without that kind of enlivening, thanks. So, where you want to go?"

Susan considered.

"Barcelona, I think," she decided. "The planet, that is."

"Righty-o, then. Barcelona it is."

As the time rotor began moving up and down, a fragment of song played.

Susan laughed and sang along.

"'Cause I'm a wanderer, yeah I'm a wanderer, I roam around around around around…"

"Cheeky," the Doctor told his ship as the materialisation, and the music, ended.

Susan grinned at him.

"But truthful."

Together, he in his leather jacket, black trousers and dark jumper, she in a light summer dress and neat red blazer, they opened the TARDIS doors and stepped out.

-

Susan had always liked Barcelona.

She liked its wide, paved streets, its attractive architecture, the colour of its places and people. The main influence on the planet was supposedly Spanish, but in reality Barcelona had been inspired by a wide range of cultures. There were vast neo-classical buildings of warm-toned sandstone, with elegant columns and intricately-carved pediments. There were towering faceted structures of glass and steel, that glittered like crystal in the bright sunlight. There were market squares filled with interesting stores, and public gardens, their styles ranging from English to Japanese, and wild patches of rainforest.

Susan's favourite area of Barcelona was La Ciudad de Angeles – The City of Angels. It was an area that consisted mostly of neo-classical buildings and pedestrian-only streets, with garden squares here and there.

The city's name came form the fact that along both sides of most of its main streets were lined life-sized statues of angels, spaced roughly ten metres apart. They were incredibly lifelike and each had a different pose and expression.

One of Barcelona's original colonists had been a very wealthy man; during the construction of La Ciudad de Angeles he had hired a renounced artist to produce the statues. Given a generous salary, the artist spent the next decade carving the statues and eventually settled permanently in the area himself. Many of his statues had been modelled on the city's first settlers, hence their life-like and distinctive appearances. The city had later been name for their unique decorations. They were now a strong tourist attraction.

Last time Susan was here she had found a statue of a young man, dressed in a long coat and trousers. His gaze was mild and quizzical, yet with his right hand he wielded a sword and his pose was vigilant, his wings curving back so that he could move swiftly without them getting in the way. Susan had met that particular regeneration only once, but recognised him easily all the same.

She had wondered what her grandfather had done to prompt the artist to give his representation the sword and the watchful pose.

Susan mentioned the statue now, and her grandfather grinned.

"Bit of a contremps with one of the locals. But you think that's interesting, you should see the one outside the city courts."

"Oh?"

"Come on, we'll pay it a visit." The Doctor set off down the nearest street, and Susan walked quickly to catch up with him.

As they drew near the courthouse the Doctor pointed at something near the secondary entrance.

"There we go. Take a look."

It was a statue of not one, but two angels. The first was of an older man in dressed in a frockcoat and trousers and holding a cane, his wings curving around him in a reserved way. His expression and bearing were imperious and autocratic; he had a decidedly unapproachable look to him.

Beside him was a very small girl clad in an indiscriminate array of vaguely Edwardian clothing and Ancient Egyptian adornments, wings askew, one hand clutching at the older angel's as her bright little face glowed with interest and excitement. Together they made an odd, contradictory yet complementary pair.

Susan stared at the two angels, stunned.

"I didn't think we did anything noteworthy here," she said eventually.

"I didn't, you did," the Doctor corrected. "They'd just opened a museum full of stuff they'd bought from Earth for a fortune, and you dismantled an antique remote surveyor from the first survey of Barcelona coz you wanted to see how it worked."

Susan stared at her grandfather in mingled horror and embarrassment.

"Oh Grandfather, tell me I didn't."

"Nope. You did. Sorry." His air was matter-of-fact, but Susan recognised the damned twinkle in his eyes. "They let you off for being a kid, but I had to repair for its reconstruction. Not cheap, either; not many people left who knew how to put one of those together."

"It wasn't real money anyway," Susan said, a little waspishly. "You just manipulated their account to show a credits transfer."

"True." They gazed at the statues for a moment longer. "You want to head off to the markets?"

"I suppose."

-

At the markets, Susan tried on a dress made from gold thread, which her grandfather mostly liked but thought was perhaps a bit gaudy. Susan pointed out that just because he couldn't do fancy, with those ears, didn't mean that she couldn't, and they got into a playful argument that lasted until their attention was caught by an escalating fight.

A four-armed blue woman was facing off against a purple-haired girl wearing red-and-black striped socks and the raiment of a priestess of Eris.

"Come on then," the blue woman taunted. "Unless you're too afraid, with your weak-arse old Earth god, full-skirts!"

"That's it," the priestess of Eris declared, armbands jangling with her angry gestures, "may Eris curse thee until your eyeballs fall out and insufferable mothers-in-law descend upon you! Bring it!"

With that she charged.

At first things looked fairly uneven – the blue woman had four arms, after all – but the priestess of Eris fought dirty, and luck seemed to be on her side. As the Doctor and Susan watched, the pair crashed into a nearby stall, so that several hard-shelled fruit crashed into the blue-skinned woman's head, but a saucepan fell at the priestess' feet.

Her eyebrows shot up in surprise, but after a glance between the cooking instrument and the blue woman, the priestess picked it up and hit her enemy over the head with it.

The blue woman collapsed.

"Charge all damage to this woman," the priestess announced. She wasn't finished yet, however; in front of the interested crowd, she fished out a marker from within her robes, and drew a moustache and other interesting facial additions on her fallen foe. Then she tucked the marker away, dusted her hands off in a satisfied fashion, and walked off as though she owned the marketplace.

The Doctor met Susan's look with one just as bemused as her own.

"Humans," he remarked.

"I wonder what that was all about?"

"Who knows. You going to buy that dress?" he nodded his head at the flowing gold dress Susan was wearing.

"I rather like it."

"Alright then, go get changed, and I'll sort it out."

Susan came out a few minutes later with the dress in her arms. It was carefully packed into a bag by the stall holder, and presented to her with a smile.

"Heard something interesting while you were trying on clothes," the Doctor observed.

"Oh?"

"A ship shaped like a giant globe's tethered to the sealine, over on the Cuidad de Angeles-Querida border. Nothing's come in nor out, the ship just bobs up and down with the tide."

Susan felt her eyebrows fly up in surprise.

"A Caleban, do you think?"

"Sounds like it." He gave her a goofy grin. "D'you want to go check it out?"

Her smile was blinding.

"Of course I do!"

-

The globe was sitting on the sand, looking rather like an oversized beachball. When Susan and the Doctor arrived, it was surrounded by a cluster of curious children.

"Oi," the Doctor said, flashing some psychic paper, "all of you lot, clear off."

The children ran off, and the Doctor began to search the surface of the globe.

"There should be an extrusion somewhere, shouldn't there?" Susan asked, examining the surface as well.

"Yep," her grandfather replied.

They worked their way around, until Susan gave a triumphant cry.

"Aha! I found it!"

There was a definite bump in the globe's smooth surface. Susan's questing fingers pressed, and without warning part of the globe opened up. Grinning at each other, Susan and the Doctor stepped into the sweltering heat of the Caleban dwelling.

Put in simple terms, a Caleban was the manifested consciousness of a star, upon the same plane of existence that contains beings such as human and Time Lords.

A stellar consciousness of such manifestation was usually both extremely intelligent and highly educated, and tended to be well-disposed towards other beings. Time Lords had occasionally had traffic with them in the past, exchanging information for mutual expansion of understanding.

As Susan and her grandfather stood inside the vastly hot, dimly-lit structure, a voice called to them in Gallifreyan.

"Greetings," said the Caleban.

"You know that we're Time Lords?" Susan asked the unseen Caleban in surprise.

"I experience connectives."

"Connectives?"

"Nexus-points in space-time," the Doctor interposed. "The Calebans see them, I'll explain later."

"Correction; I do not see."

"I'm going for a rough approximation of accuracy here," the Doctor told the Caleban. "I'm the Doctor, and this is my granddaughter Susan."

"Hello," Susan agreed cheerfully.

A feeling of curious, pleased expectation hit them. As telepathic beings themselves, Susan and the Doctor were easily able to identify it as the Caleban's response.

"Discuss connectives," announced the Caleban. "You experience connectives?"

Susan thought about the question. The Doctor watched her reactions.

"I do," she replied honestly, "but probably rather differently to how you do."

"Very differently," the Doctor confirmed.

"But experience connectives," the Caleban reiterated. "Others do not experience connectives?"

"For the most part, no," the Doctor replied, "although there's a few species who can sense a nexus point here and there."

"Experience nodes?"

"Yep, that's right, some of 'em experience nodes."

"Fascinating." The Caleban's interest was palpably genuine.

Abruptly enormous sorrow flowed around their minds, flooding their senses.

"Achievement of ultimate discontinuity of Gallifrey noted. I express great sadness."

Susan could see the expression on her grandfather's face. Without asking she put a hand to one of the central telepathic points on his temple and bolstered him with reassuring, positive emotions even as she fought her own pain.

"You are causing distress!" Susan told the Caleban sharply, broadcasting an echo of her emotions to the alien.

The Caleban's sorrow cut off.

The Doctor took a deep breath, and strengthened his mental shields.

"I'm right now," he told Susan.

After giving them a moment to recover, the Caleban's feelings reached them again, softer and apologetic.

"Causation of distress was not intended."

"I know," the Doctor said quietly. "We're not offended."

He had his emotions under strict control, but a tendril of reassurance and understanding, and a tin amount of gratitude reached the Caleban.

Susan did the same. The Caleban's response was relieved, but still regretful.

"What are you doing on Barcelona?" Susan asked curiously, moving the conversation along.

"Communicating with Time Lords," was the prompt reply.

The Doctor grinned.

"What she means to say is, why did you choose to come to this planet?" he clarified.

The slight air of puzzlement vanished as the Caleban comprehended the point of the question.

"Experienced desire to communicate with humans," the Caleban explained. "I am unfamiliar with the species. I desire to learn from them."

"Good luck with that," the Doctor snorted.

"Please explain comment," the Caleban requested.

"He hopes you're successful," Susan translated, glaring at her grandfather. "I'm sure you will be. Humans are quite interesting," she said sincerely.

The Doctor muttered something.

"Which star are you?" Susan asked, ignoring his muttering.

"Please explain query." The Caleban didn't understand the question.

"Er–" Susan thought, trying to find a way to frame the question so that the Caleban would understand it, "can you identify your personal stellar mass, so that I can identify it as well?"

In reply the Caleban sent a flash of... Susan blinked as she absorbed the unique energy signature and spatial/temporal coordinates.

"Thank you," Susan said politely. It wouldn't really have occurred to her to identify a star by its energy output, but then she wasn't a star. To a Caleban it probably made more sense than anything else.

"Listen, we've got other things to do and see here, so we might head off," the Doctor announced. "It was fantastic to meet you, and I hope we do again, and we thank you for letting us come in an' talk to you."

"It pleases me to know you," the Caleban responded, radiating a wave of mild happiness.

"Us too!" Susan called out, as she and the Doctor left the globe.

The comparative cool of the crisp sea air was a shock as they stepped out of the heat and dark into the sunlight. The door sealed itself behind them.

"Well?" The Doctor watched Susan, waiting for her reaction.

Susan felt a wide grin stretch across her face. She gazed happily at him.

"I've met a Caleban!" she exclaimed, beaming. "I've actually conversed with a stellar consciousness!"

"Congratulations." Her grandfather was pleased by her delight.

"Have you ever met a Caleban before, Grandfather?" Susan questioned. "You seemed to know how to talk to them."

The Doctor snorted.

"Met one once before," he agreed. "Couldn't get a straight word out of it. Was infuriating. After that I read up on them in case I ever met another."

"You said that they see nexus points," Susan remembered something the Doctor had said earlier.

"Well, kinda." The Doctor reflected for a moment. "They see all the things that separate this universe from other universes, all the little differences. And most of those are nexus points."

"Is that why they like Time Lords so much?"

"That's part of it. We're a connective in ourselves. Plus we exist in more dimensions than most beings, so we're not just a point on a line. Not much more than that, mind, but a bit more."

"They see time and space as a line?" Susan asked, surprise.

"Yep. Higher beings if anything are, Calebans."

"I feel sorry for any humans that try to communicate with it," Susan remarked. "They're nto going to understand it at all, and they don't even have telepathy to help them along."

"Me, I feel sorry for the Caleban," the Doctor opined.

-

The two Time Lords went back to wandering the city. They were discussing neo-classical versus genuine classical architecture as they came to a large temple, modelled loosely on the style of an ancient Roman temple.

"Perfect example," the Doctor exclaimed, gesturing at it. "That's exactly what I mean."

"Hey peeps," a voice greeted them. "Would you like to come inside the temple?"

They glanced in the direction of the voice to see the purple-haired priestess from the fight in the marketplace.

"You are clearly one of Eris' Chosen," the priestess told the Doctor happily, running her eyes over him in an evaluating way. "The Threads of Chaos are all over you. As such, we would be honoured by your presence."

Susan and the Doctor exchanged glances.

"Why not."

They followed the priestess up the wide stone steps into the main hall of the temple. The priestess led them right to the back, where a golden statue stood on a podium.

It was a young woman in ancient Grecian dress. She stood proudly, holding a spear in one hand, with the other holding out an apple invitingly, her expression a triumphant, wicked smirk.

Susan and the Doctor looked up at the statue.

It was an excellent interpretation of a being who was supposed to represent chaos and discord.

"Looks a bit worrying, doesn't she?" the Doctor observed.

"I certainly wouldn't take that apple," Susan agreed.

The priestess laughed.

"It's not that bad," she told them, grinning. "It's actually kind of fun. Fun's good, right?"

"Depends on what kind of fun," the Doctor said dryly. "I prefer to avoid that sort."

The priestess laughed at him, as though he'd said something genuinely funny.

o0o o0o o0o

The Doctor was a bit grumpy after that, grumbling a little about cheeky apes. Susan suspected that he was only put out by the priestess' laughter because he knew quite well that she was right, and he was a beacon for chaos.

"Where shall we go now?" Susan asked, back in the TARDIS.

"How 'bout Afarensis," her grandfather suggested briskly.

Susan remembered what the planet had done to the state of her shoes.

"No."

"Cliordia?"

"They'll try to arrest us the moment we say who we are, and you know they'll ask. They're very big on security. Besides, totalitarian regimes aren't really my thing."

"So no to the Xanti Wars, then?"

"No."

The Doctor reflected.

"How about Earth then? You always like Earth. We could land a few centuries past your time."

'Your time' was of course a highly subjective term among Time Lords, but Susan knew what he meant.

"That sounds nice enough."

The Doctor input the coordinates and pulled the materialisation lever. The TARDIS promptly began playing 'Riders on the Storm' by the Doors.

The Doctor's expression was rather like a thunderstorm itself.

Susan kept her face carefully straight, but patted the console in appreciation.

The Doctor glanced at the TARDIS controls and frowned with sudden alertness.

"Hang on, that's not right." He looked at the instrument readings, a little furrow of perplexity between his eyebrows. "It says the planet out there's uninhabitable."

Susan checked the coordinates.

"Well, this is definitely Earth."

Still frowning, the Doctor broadened the focus range of his equipment.

"Earth's completely uninhabited," he reported.

"Totally lifeless, except for the odd bacterium. No obvious signs of habitation for the rest of the solar system, either. Where've the humans gone?"

A few minutes later the Doctor's eyes widened in surprise.

"The rest of the galaxy, apparently. Well, this is wrong." He looked at Susan. "Shall we go investigate?"

o0o o0o o0o

Susan noticed it the moment they stepped out of the TARDIS.

Walking around was actually painful.

Susan could feel Time around her like a high-pitched whine. It was jagged and torn, more ripped apart than not, loose edges flapping where they'd come apart from the rest of the fabric of space-time.

It was horrendous.

Susan hadn't known such temporal destruction could exist, without annihilating that patch of space-time utterly. Time here was all jumbled up and discordant. Space-time was trying to heal over, but there were so many bits missing that it was connecting totally separate bits of time together, where in some cases they should have been entire centuries distant. It was a wonder all the sentients were sane.

Susan and her grandfather were surrounded by humans, however, and they seemed to be coping with things fairly well. Either they were oblivious on a level Susan hadn't thought possible, or they were resilient beyond imagining.

The Doctor leant against a wall.

"Gotta give humans more credit," he said, watching them go past with an expression on incredulity. "I wouldn't have thought anyone could stand this. Are they completely cut off from anything outside themselves?"

He glanced around, his expression more assessing.

"Nah. They feel it, all right. But it's not as bad for them, and they're ignoring it, the way humans do."

Susan could see it too. There was a restlessness, a subconscious uneasiness among the humans around them, not strong enough for the humans to be consciously aware of it, but present in almost every human they saw. They lacked a truly relaxed, carefree manner, and the way they dealt with each other was slightly tense even when they were being open.

Susan became ware that she was being watched. She turned to see a dark-haired girl, watched her with a blanked-out face an unblinking, inscrutable eyes.

The girl tilted her head a little to one side.

"You're a wolf." Her voice was quiet and impassive. "Or maybe just its teeth and claws."

Susan and the Doctor looked at her in confusion.

"You gonna explain that?" Susan's grandfather asked.

"It won't need explaining when you know it," the girl said in reply. Her unwavering eye contact was quite unlike ordinary human behaviour, and another human might have found it eerie or unsettling. "The captain has a ship if you want to get there."

"Get where?" Susan asked.

"Where you're going," the girl said simply. She turned and headed off into the crowds. With a quick, intrigued glance between them, Susan and the Doctor followed.

After about a five minutes walk, the girl approached a slightly battered old ship with its hatch down, and a cheerful looking young woman sitting on a crate next to it.

"Howdy River," the woman greeted the girl. Her eyes moved to the Doctor and Susan. She gave them a sunny smile.

"You folks need a ride? We're for hiring," she told them.

"Depends on where you're going," the Doctor replied, pulling on a bright smile of his own.

"Well, I think we gotta delivery to make to Persephone, but after that anywhere you want. I'm Kaylee."

"Perfect," the Doctor declared. "I'm the Doctor, this is Susan. We'd like to hitch a lift."

"Where to?" Kaylee asked.

"Oh, I dunno, wherever you lit want to go," the Doctor said. "Me and Susan are after a bit of a change from our humdrum little lives, aren't we Susan?"

Susan nodded, trying not to smile at the idea that she and her grandfather had 'humdrum little lives.'

"Then you picked the right boat for a ride, alright," Kaylee replied, smiling. "The captain likes things adventure-free, but excitement always seems to find us."

"Fantastic! What'll it cost me, then?"

"A thousand credits if you want to come with us to Persephone and back, I guess."

"Ah. Right."

The Doctor proceeded to go through his pockets for anything that might possibly be considered acceptable currency.

As Kaylee watched in increasing bemusement, he pulled out a five pound note, something that looked like a mechanical spider, an eighteenth century guinea, and a credit chip from the Fourth Bountiful Human Empire.

Shaking her head, Susan fished out a small velvet drawstring bag, and extracted a small glittering thing.

"I'm afraid we don't have any credits on us. Would you be willing to accept diamonds instead?"

A flawless half-carat stone sat on her palm.

Kaylee's eyes went wide.

"Cai bu shi! Is that real?" She stared at the diamond in fascination. "It's real pretty."

Susan nodded.

"I'll have to ask the captain," Kaylee decided. "Wait here."

The Doctor raised his eyebrows at Susan.

"You carry diamonds about with you?"

"Well, most planets accept them somehow," she explained, dropping the jewel back into the bag. "I traded for some years ago, before I married David."

"How many've you got?"

"Several hundred half-carat and single-carat stones. The bag's bigger on the inside."

-

Kaylee returned, this time with a determined-looking black woman and a man in a long dusty coat.

"I'm Mal Reynolds, captain of Serenity," the man said without preamble. "Kaylee says you're wanting to pay in diamonds."

Susan pulled out one of the half-carat stones again and handed it to the captain.

Mal held it up to the light, stared at it, and looked at Susan.

"Mind if we borrow this?"

"Not at all, as long as I get it back," Susan replied.

"Kaylee." Mal turned to the young woman. "Take this and get it valued."

"Davis?" Kaylee questioned, accepting the diamond.

"He's pretty trustworthy," Mal agreed. "Find out what he thinks."

"Be back soon, captain," Kaylee said, and headed off into the crowds to have the diamond valued.

Mal looked at Susan and the Doctor, in a careful and assessing fashion. He had a cautious, dangerous feel to him, but Susan didn't think that he was necessarily untrustworthy. She'd seen the same air among experienced U.N.I.T. personnel. The woman beside the captain had a similar aura about her.

"So," said Mal. "You two have names to go with those diamonds?"

"I'm the Doctor, and this is Susan," the Doctor replied. He'd toned down the bright and cheerful act now that Kaylee was gone.

"And you would be her…" the black woman asked the question delicately, leaving it tactfully unfinished.

"Her uncle," Susan's grandfather said very firmly, looking slightly offended by the implications of her question.

"Right." Mal accepted this. "I prefer to steer clear of romantic entanglements on my boat. This here's Zoe Washburne, my first mate."

Zoe nodded at them.

"Assuming your diamonds turn out turn out to be the genuine article," Mal continued, "I got just one question. Either of you Alliance?"

"Alliance? Us?" the Doctor asked without skipping a beat, far too brightly. "Nope, not a chance."

Zoe and Mal didn't look quite convinced, but the captain said,

Right. Then let's wait and find out if those diamonds are shiny."

Zoe blinked and raised an eyebrow at him slightly. Mal just gave her a stare.

"Honestly, we really aren't Alliance," Susan assured them earnestly, wondering what Mal meant by 'shiny.' "Uncle Ian just overdoes the enthusiasm a bit."

The Doctor looked offended again. Presumably the humans interpreted this as a response to their scepticism, but Susan knew better.

A sliver of thought reached her.

Uncle Ian? Her grandfather sounded disgruntled.

You know that you liked him really, Grandfather, Susan told him, before returning her attention to the spoken conversation.

"Is there anyone else on board your ship?" she asked Mal and Zoe.

"You can meet the rest of my crew when that diamond of yours checks out," Mal said, a little curtly.

The Doctor frowned.

"She was only asking a question. No need to get short with her for trying to be friendly."

"It's alright, uncle," Susan said soothingly. "I understand." She smiled winningly. "My grandfather could be a bit like that, sometimes."

The Doctor glowered at her. He had an excellent face for glowering this time round, Susan noted, particularly where the eyes, eyebrows and nose were concerned. Their arrangement lent an intense, piercing quality to the glower.

Susan giggled at him. Her grandfather eyed her darkly.

"Doubt your grandfather'd be pleased to hear it," he said warningly.

"I don't see why, it was perfectly true," Susan remarked, with perfectly-crafted innocence in her big eyes.

"Cheeky," her grandfather muttered, and they lapsed into silence, waiting for Kaylee's return.

-

After about half an hour of waiting – Susan sitting on Kaylee's crate, and the Doctor leaning against the ship itself, arms folded – Kaylee returned, a bounce in her step.

"Hey Mal, Zoe," she called. "It's real alright. Davis says it's one of the most flawless stones he's ever seen, and if we're finding ourselves at a loss with what to do with it, he'll happily take it off our hands and any others like it. Puts it at maybe four hundred credits, at least."

Mal nodded, and turned to his prospective passengers.

"Be back here before sundown with any luggage you folks might want to have with you. It'll be two stones like that one for Persphone and back. If you change you mind about where you're wanting to go then we can negotiate when it happens."

He nodded at Susan and the Doctor.

Susan held put her hand, eyeing Mal firmly. They shook on it.

"See you at sundown," Mal reiterated.

"Right, see you then," the Doctor agreed.

"Sundown." Susan nodded.

-

END CHAPTER


Author notes:

Crossover alert!

Okay, first of all, Calebans belong to Frank Herbert, and you can read about them in Whipping Star, in which there is vast and entertaining communication failure between humans and a star, and a little in The Dosadi Experiment, which is rather grim. Calebans do not actually see nexus points in the books… and that's all I'll say about how they work.

Secondly, Serenity, her crew, and that particular universe belong to the tv series Firefly.