Title: The Sky is Bright
Characters: Amy Pond, Sarah Jane Smith
Pairings: Amy/Rory (and Amy/Eleven and Sarah/Doctor, I suppose)
Disclaimer: I don't own Doctor Who or The Sarah Jane Adventures.
Amy pushes her way through a particularly inaccessible part of the forest, branches scratching her bare legs, getting in her mouth, tugging at her hair.
It was a pretty crazy day. First the village went mad because apparently the sky was falling (but things had calmed down when people realised it was actually falling some towns over), and then she'd driven for hours (towards the crash site, why of course), and since then she's walked a lot, and presently she's what, bushwhacking, and she still hasn't found the spot where the alleged stardust is coming down…
She's running on adrenaline, desperation and anger, not necessarily in that order. This foray is on a new level of stupid even for her, and she would never have done it a year ago. But now she knows she's right, had been all along.
Another year. Another bloody year. Another taste of the wondrous and then – nothing. As an added bonus, all the old questions had boiled up again, broken through the barriers she'd so painstakingly placed around them, and they'd been more frequent and insistent than ever before. Why didn't he come back? and variations thereof. And then there were the new ones, burning in their own very special way. Why did he leave again? etcetera. etcetera.
But today, if there was something the Earth needed to be protected from, then maybe… Even if she had to hunt him down, she was going to get some answers. She'd told herself she didn't care anymore, wouldn't care. Then the opportunity had presented itself and before she knew it she was off.
She'd borrowed Rory's car by way of nicking the spare key, and texted him a short explanation. He'd tried to call her about a million times, but she hadn't answered. She could only deal with one bloke at a time, she rationalised it to herself, even if one was clearly interested in getting hold of her and the other might not even be in the same century.
There are people all over the forest. Camping at the edge of it, rigging up telescopes, propping up laptops…
Amy's following a rowdy group who seem to think they're on some sort of leisure trip, singing and joking – but they at least have a map. People are coming behind her, too; she can hear branches crunching and the occasional swear word. She pretends she's a tourist, imagines it in the same way she imagines when she's wearing one of her costumes, but in this case she imagines the costume as well – something warm and sensible and suitable. And all the time she looks, out of the corner of an eye.
The sky is raging above the treetops, in perfectly silent bursts of light, in streaks of pure white energy stretching from one corner of the sky to the other. Every now and then a cascade of giant embers disengage from a lightburst and fall in a quite beautifully curved way down, down – always in the same direction, always disappearing among the trees. It's supposed to be evening but it's as bright as if the sun was in zenith, brighter even.
Amy wrenches some more branches aside and finally steps out into a somewhat more roomy part of the forest. The group ahead of her celebrate their freedom by getting even louder; they're singing some garbled version of Hit Me Baby One More Time, while waving cameras and mobiles, notepads and beer bottles. It grows darker the further into the forest they get, as more and more crowns block out the sky – but glimpses of light cut through the dusk like torch beams further in, almost straight ahead, blocked by so many tree trunks. The falling embers. The stardust. That's where they're all headed. Not too far now. Finally.
She lingers further and further behind the group. She tries to gather her thoughts, but they're fleeting and touch upon so many different subjects (from If he's there what will he think of me coming here maybe he left me on purpose he might not like me at all to My legs are freezing and I should have brought sunglasses what if this light is bad to look at) that she abandons the attempt. They come to a natural fork in the nonexistent path – just a thick copse of trees between two less dense parts – and the group go to the left, following a crude colourful mark on a tree to that side.
They move quickly, their singing echoing among the trees. Amy lets them get out of sight. She fishes her mobile out of a jacket pocket and uses the display to light up the closest area (ignoring the many missed calls it has to report). The sign is nothing more than various sweet wrappers pierced on sharp branches. She should make for the left as well, but gives in to her Doctor-influenced nature and investigates the part to the right of the copse too. She holds her mobile up and when the light falls across the ground there's… something odd. A pair of tiny tracks, as if a very small tank has passed by. Someone is making their way out of the thick mass of branches behind her, swearing copiously. Amy heads to the right without a moment's hesitation.
She walks along those odd tracks; the ground is quite soft and quite muddy and she slips sometimes and she can't see anything but trees ahead, but the tracks go on unerringly, and so does she.
Then she hears it, a sound she recognises. That peculiar sound, to be precise, the one the Doctor's device made when he investigated the crack in her wall all those years ago. She could never forget that sound; she'd never been able to describe it to anyone, but she would never mistake it.
She runs, follows her ears rather than her eyes (though when she glances down she sees that the tracks lead in exactly the same direction as that the sound is coming from - of course they do).
It's so close now, so very, very close… "Doctor!" she yells, because he'd better not disappear now, not again… She all but jumps between a pair of trees, bursting into a tiny glade. Then she stops as if frozen.
The Doctor isn't there – a dark-haired woman who eyes her curiously is, however. She's got her hands in her pockets and looks like she was just interrupted during her evening stroll.
Amy tries to understand. It sounded exactly like… She glances around, hoping she doesn't look as crestfallen as she feels.
"Hello," says the woman.
"I'm a tourist," Amy says, as if it were true.
The woman smiles at her. "I don't think you are any more than I am." She gestures at her smart jacket and trousers.
Amy looks down at herself, and the tourist she's imagined falls to pieces in her mind. She's wearing a miniskirt, a bright blue top and a leather jacket, and she can no longer deny that.
She hates it when her characters fail her. She glares at the woman. "I'm wearing wellingtons," she says, trying to salvage some dignity. At least she had the mind to plonk her feet into those and not the ridiculous pair of heels that were next to them. "That's all I really need."
"I think the other tourists are about half a mile that way." She points to the right.
Amy folds her arms uncertainly. She should excuse herself and go home. Call Rory and apologise. She'd only imagined that sound. "I must have taken a wrong turn."
The woman raises an eyebrow. Amy feels all too familiarly scrutinised, as if the other knew
just what to look for in her.
"I saw some odd tracks or something," Amy admits, not quite sure why.
"That would be my tin dog." The woman smiles brightly. "I sent him to spy at the camp."
How's that for an unexpected sentence? Amy laughs half-heartedly and takes a step back. She really ought to leave now.
The woman's smile fades and her features soften. "You're looking for a little blue box?" she asks, softly, quietly, and with a completely straight face.
Amy flinches as if stung. "What?"
"You came here because you heard this." The woman reaches into her pocket and withdraws a small tube. She does something and it glows red and makes that sound. That unmistakable sound.
"Where did you get that?"
"From a friend." The woman tries very hard not to let her smile broaden. Her eyes glitter.
Amy suddenly very much wants to sit down, but this is just a glade and there's nothing but soggy leaves and mud and dirt on the ground and tall stoic trees all around her. Her head is swimming properly. "I thought… maybe I could help. I helped, last year." She doesn't usually ramble. She hates herself for doing it now.
The woman nods.
"I don't want to keep looking, but I can't stop. I can't stop because he's real. He's really real. And I kind of want to punch him in the face."
"I know," the woman says, and then she frowns. "He's not here?"
Amy shakes her head. "Exactly what do you know?" she asks, and the cool desperation in her voice makes her flinch.
The woman approaches her, as slowly as one would approach a frightened animal. She reaches up and puts a hand on Amy's arm. It's a small and firm and kind hand. "I know a great deal. Certainly enough to try to answer some of your questions. You look like someone with a lot of them."
Amy really, really wants to say that Yes, she has a lot, but she can't because she's afraid if she does the next thing that will happen is that she opens her eyes to the dingy ceiling in her bedroom.
"Come on. I have a flask of tea in my car."
"But… the sky?"
"I've got it under control. Just your basic cosmic shower."
"How can you control that?"
"I think you and I have a lot in common," the woman says, and starts walking across the forest floor as surely as if she's walking on pavement. She's heading further into the forest, away from the campsite and the stardust and the fork in the path. Amy hesitates for a heartbeat and then hurries after her, because there's no way she can't and above them there's a hint of another brilliant burst of light across the sky.