"You made it!" Mrs. Hudson pulled her friend into the atrium even before he could finish knocking. "Oh, just look how you've changed. Quite a handsome man you've become," looped her arm around his, and swung him into her living room, pushing him into a fuzzy chair.
"And you've not changed a day," the doctor replied, basking in the warm welcome.
"Oh, hush. You were always such a flirt," she giggled, "I'll just put some tea on."
"No need, Maggie," the doctor replied, pulled a silver bag from his pocket. "I've brought Allergrian coffee. And, no, I'm not lying. You're still that silly girl I once knew."
Mrs. Hudson slumped, happy as she held the vacuum sealed container in her hands, "oh, this coffee. I'd completely forgot it. And you. No more scarves? I should have to knit you another. Can't let you get a sore throat."
"That silly girl. You know, you were never my smartest companion. Not even close. But you were always one of the kindest and definitely most patient. Never, ever let anyone ever convince you that a thousand brains will ever be better than an ounce of compassion."
"Yes, well." Mrs. Hudson bit her lower lip, heading into the kitchen. "There's that brilliant honesty I've missed. Let me get this percolating."
"So you're doing well?" The doctor asked loudly, hearing her opening/closing cabinets, knocking over things, digging deep into the dark recesses of cupboards.
"Well enough," echoed a reply, "Happier now that Phillip's passed."
"Oh, thought you'd heard. "Phillip passed. In Florida. Better that way, actually. He had… tendencies," She saw his face as she bent around the corner. "Oh, I know your thoughts on such matters, but I'm not going to lie about this. Not my feelings and not to you."
"I could save you, you know." The doctor said, readjusting his sitting. "From Phillip. If I had known. Picked you up and taken you out among the stars again. Just like old times. Find you a proper husband, if you want."
"Doesn't matter. Not now. And you know you can't change the past. And I have my boys now. They keep me young." Mrs. Hudson came back into the front room with her tray of coffee and cream and tiny cups. Set it down on the ottoman, and relaxed in her own comfy chair, inhaling the aroma.
"You had children?"
"Well, not quite," she replied as the upper flat door slammed open , and a blur of black wool and white jumper blurred out the front door. "There they go now. Off on a new adventure, saving London again. They so do love their adventures."
"Do they? I'm two weeks between companions right now. Could use an interim. A month for Rory and Amy Pond's honeymoon, six months for me. They'll never notice. I love it when humans play the relativity game. Like monopoly. They just lock themselves in such temporal notions. Acting like spinning tops has any sort of temporal influence on the rest of the universe."
"Sherlock claims not to know that the Earth revolves around the sun."
"Really? The doctor beamed. "How quaint for this time Perhaps I could take them to Nebulon 12. Remember? A triple star system caught in harmonious orbit around one planet. Astronomical wars fought time and time again over the one place in the galaxy to view the rock without burning out everyone's retinas."
"I remember. I also remember you shifting the telescope when nobody was looking three centimeters so everyone thought it was a hoax after all. They all just sort of went home after that. Never really understood how that worked."
"One of my more cleverer notions," the doctor agreed. "So should I wait here with you for them to get back or should I go randomly pluck them from the streets of London. Make it look coincidental?"
Mrs. Hudson finally faltered, set her cup down on a side table, forgotten. "No, I do not think that would be a good idea. I know you feel adrift without your friends, but those two would not do well. Sherlock, at least." She saw the doctor's puzzled face, let him think for a second, then continued "You know, I occasionally meet some of your other companions out in the streets. They're almost too easy to spot. Bits of stars in their eyes, always scanning the sky for something unknown. Most are happy, content, have their own babies and lives. I'm surprised you hadn't depopulated half of London back in the Seventies. But I met one… You know those stories of people who couldn't live after the War? So thrilling, exciting. Life and death and stalwart exhilaration. Not all made it after it ended. I met one of yours. An addict, you see. Continually trying to hear the universe sing again. Oh, please don't look that way. It isn't your fault. It's just that you are never, ever boring, and an ordinary life after you can be hard on some. John would be perfect for you- loyal, strong, one for adventure and saving lives and being John. But Sherlock could never stop. Not after you. Not after having such fun. All those worlds and new things would ruin his brain and ability to settle for 'just London' after that. And John would never go without him."
The two lapsed in quantitative silence, the doctor drinking his coffee, Mrs. Hudson forgetting about hers.
"But the book!" She finally changed the subject. "Not sure how I got it. John found it in some pile around here. It's terribly out of date, but I knew you'd want it." She retrieved the hardback from a drawer, and handed it over. "The inscription is still there."
"'To my dear friend,
To travel, to exist, to find meaning is not the end of all things, but merely the beginning.'"
The doctor read aloud, "ah, Lavinia. She was the rare scientist. A true philosopher."
"Thought you'd want it back. I just couldn't see you flying about the universe with an incomplete library. Wouldn't seem right, somehow." Mrs. Hudson smiled, enjoying this time. "I know you get impatient at times and get forlorn in that very large Tardis with nobody to talk to and impress. How long has it been since we last met?"
"Almost four hundred years ago for me."
She nodded. "Bout thirty for me. Amy and Rory sound lovely. You should wait for them. They're your companions now."
They sat there again for an hour in silence. Until John and Sherlock slogged tiredly through the front door, too dejected to say anything. They took one look at the doctor, then tromped up the stairs, dismissing him from their lives.