Characters: Romana, Eleven, Amy, little!Amelia, Aunt Sharon, Mandy, Liz X, Bracewell, Blanche Breen, Alistair, River, Francesco Calvierri, the Northovers, Rory, Dr Black, Craig & Sophie, OCs.
Pairings: Romana/Eleven, Amy/Rory, Craig/Sophie
Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who.
Spoilers: for the entirety of S5.
A/N: Contains frivolous, skientific usage of the chameleon arch/fobwatch technology, vortex manipulators, &c. I've made Sharon the sister of Amy's dad, solely because we don't know Amy's mum's maiden name.
A/N 2: Written for a ficathon run by the comm eleven_romana Livejournal.
The Doctor will destroy the Universe.
The cracks in time are the work of the Doctor.
Silence will fall.
The Pandorica opens.
She'd intended to stargaze, to take her new wellies for a walk down to the meadow, to lie down and let her mind wander. There had been a few clouds in the sky, and she had started to let it wander a bit prematurely, unfortunately, while waiting for them to pass. She must have taken a series of wrong turns unwittingly, because when a dog's sudden bark brought her back to Leadworth and gravity and gusts of wind and an itchy woollen jumper, she found herself halfway up the street Sharon Pond lived on.
Perhaps, she thought, she should postpone the gazing and visit her. Sharon always had a nice selection of teas. She also had a pleasurably predictable way of dragging up every single piece of gossip she though would be of interest. If they were home. It was a holiday, after all. And Sharon… wasn't always there as it was. Half the time it was as if she didn't exist at all.
Wasn't there something she really needed to talk to her about, something about her house, something about it that she had happened to notice… but what – a broken floorboard, a leaking tap? – no, she couldn't remember the specific details right now. She'd just have to anchor her mind firmly, first, and it would all come back.
Romana rewrapped her scarf (whyever had she invested in such a long one?) and walked the way to Sharon's house, her wellies making a rather loud noise on the asphalt, now that she was aware of herself.
There was something about that house that made her skin crawl, noises that sounded like whispers… and yet, there was something irrevocably alluring about it.
From the street, the house looked still. That didn't necessarily mean it was, though, she'd learnt. Sometimes they did things like that, the Ponds. Turned off all the lights and sat on a crooked bench in the garden, aunt and niece, wrapped in blankets and drinking hot chocolate. It was things like that that reminded the child that she had an aunt, Romana thought. She turned up the path.
Emotionally, her first reaction was No! Intellectually, she had to think about it.
The Doctor, sufficiently enraged, could do a lot of stupid things. Well-meaning, he could still do a lot of stupid things. Nothing like this, though. He knew what would happen and he wouldn't cause it. She might not know him anymore, but this was the TARDIS… the TARDIS. He would never. Not on purpose. But unwittingly… by mistake. It was possible, truth be told.
And if not him – who? She would not stomp around like an inexperienced tot anymore. She would handle this responsibly. She needed to see without being seen.
"What was the diagnosis?"
"They said it must have been a migraine or something." She's feeling quite shaken, is still recovering from a shock she doesn't know how she suffered. It's midday and she has the tea and the earful at Sharon's, the one she thought to have in the evening three days ago. Until she'd passed out in Sharon's garden. It feels a bit odd being back here again, and at the same time it feels like she never left.
Thankfully, Sharon seems a bit shaken, too. "What do youthink?"
"There was a crash. There was."
Sharon stares at her, automatically stirs her tea.
"I was at your door. My head started throbbing, and my heart skipped a beat – and then it made up for it by beating twice as fast. And there was some kind of pressure. I felt… crushed."
Two days in the hospital. Warm blankets, the smell of disinfectant, scans and ultrasounds, fingers in plastic gloves prodding, endless questions. She had a sniffle. Other than that she was perfectly fine. Well, except for the dreams.
"Because you know," says Sharon, and pales under her rouge. "Our shed…" She glances out the window, and Romana does the same. The shed is no more. Where it stood is now a pile of rubble, planks hastily pushed into some kind of stack, bent content set to the side. "And Amelia…" Sharon starts, but nothing more comes.
Romana rises, approaches the window, stares out at the remains. "What happened to it?"
"You tell me. The fence is whole. There aren't any tyre tracks. It's just…"
"Crushed." The kitchen table is set with mugs and a pot of tea, with milk and sugar and shop bought ginger biscuits on a plate. Everything is spotless. And the shed is crushed.
"What're you talking about?" Little Amelia stands in the doorway, an odd expression on her face. She's holding a blue crayon.
"Nothing, darling," says Sharon, drawing herself up visibly. She glares at Romana across the rim of her mug. "Romana's had a bit of an accident, that's all."
"Is it about the shed?" Amelia purses her lips. "I know what happened to it."
Sharon rolls her eyes. "Amelia! What did I say about bothering guests?"
Amelia doesn't even bat an eyelash. Utterly determined, she looks up at Romana and says, "I want to tell you about my friend."
"Amelia!" says Sharon.
"It all right," says Romana, trying to sound flippant. "I don't mind."
Amelia runs out of the kitchen, her hair flying, returns in but a moment carrying a small red suitcase. She plops down on the floor and places the case in front of her. Next she makes a demanding gesture indicating that Romana better sit down, too.
Romana leaves the window and obeys; sits down across from the child, tugging her legs into the lotus position.
Sharon makes an irate noise and clutches her mug, stares out into the garden.
Amelia solemnly opens the case.
Romana can't see what it contains, wonders what to expect.
"This is me." Amelia places a little thing with blazingly red yarn hair and a handkerchief for a dress on the floor. "This is my friend." A slightly larger doll, made from an empty paper roll, with askew pieces of cloth for a shirt and trousers. Its yarn hair was brown and plentiful. Amelia makes very sure the doll is standing perfectly straight. "He's called the Doctor."
"How unusual…" says Romana. She's starting to feel a little light-headed, all of a sudden.
"He doesn't need a boring name. He's magic."
Romana peers closer at the doll. "Magic?"
"His box is magic too." She reaches into the suitcase with both hands and smiles up at Romana, waits a few seconds before reverently retrieving said box. It's vibrantly blue, if still obviously just a painted tea bag carton.
Romana's heart skips a beat nonetheless.
"It has a library and a swimming pool and guess what? The pool is in the library!"
"Shouldn't it stand up?" she manages, when Amelia has placed it on the floor. She really shouldn't be this invested in a child's game.
"It needs to have a lie-down while the engines are phasing."
Romana presses a hand to her chest. "It crashed?"
Amelia sighs impatiently. "Yes. You see, he was in such a hurry to fix the crack in my wall. He didn't stop in time and crushed the shed."
Cracks in time… Romana suddenly feels nauseous. "A crack? He fixed it for you?"
"Closed it. Just like that. He's got a wand."
"We met when Aunt Sharon went to London," says Amelia brightly.
"Can I see your wall?"
"Absolutely not!" says Sharon, staring down at them. "Amelia has an unhealthy obsession as it is, don't fuel it!"
Amelia turns a fierce frown on her aunt. "I'm not making it up!"
"Who are you to decide what's unhealthy?" asks Romana quietly.
Sharon slams her mug down and a little tea sloshes over the rim. "There's no such thing as raggedy men flying about in blue boxes."
"What if there is?"
"You should listen to Amelia, just for once. What if there is? What if he crushed your shed?" If she really thinks about it, Romana knows there is no such thing, that it is indeed preposterous. If she doesn't think, however, she feels that she must defend this man and his box.
The phone rings, in another room. Sharon gets up and leaves the kitchen, her lips tightly compressed.
Romana hears her answer, wonders if she ought to go.
"I can show you my wall now," says Amelia.
Romana had sat on a swing, stared up at the sky, wondered if there were planets where the grass was red. A great weight had pressed against her. She'd stumbled into a bush.
Someone had draped a coat over her. She had looked up and it had been like looking in a distorted mirror. The face of the woman looking down on her was as familiar to her as her own face, and yet she knew she looked nothing like that.
It's just an ordinary wall. Romana inspects it thoroughly, running her hands over it, though she has no idea what she's looking for.
Amelia watches her, clutching her Doctor-doll. "No crack."
Romana turns. "No crack."
Amelia runs down the stairs; her aunt is off the phone and crying for her, decidedly angrily.
Romana takes it slower, thinking. She's seen the wall; it's normal, and still she isn't pleased. Then she notices something: a door, and it is most certainly not normal, even though she can't say what's wrong with it.
She opens the door and peers in.
What... is that? What is it trying to do?
Her watch… The emergency switch!
With a little tweaking, the fobwatch will do nicely. She needs to keep her mind, but change her body. It may defeat the point of the Chameleon Arch, but she doesn't care. She needs to be something other than a Time Lord, and yet she needs to think like one.
She upgrades the perception filter, programs parameters for an infinite number of different projections, makes sure she can't be a scientist every time. She'll undoubtedly get to keep the appearance of her arms and legs, most of the time, thankfully. The Doctor and his beloved humans.
Next, she gets hold of a vortex manipulator. She programs it to track the cracks, by way of the Doctor's TARDIS, by way of the Doctor. It's throwing caution to the wind, tying herself to his whims, but it's necessary.
She'll have three months to examine each crack, and that will have to do. She adds an emergency switch, wires it to the manipulator; she is not spending a quarter of a year in any given (illusion of a) different body if there is nothing to investigate.
A silence so complete it is a force, a presence; an actual substance invading her lungs and sticking to her skin… an actual something crushing her watch, inside and out, breaking and bending the precious technology… She takes the step, a motionless step into a nonexistent darkness, but it doesn't work the way it's supposed to. Her control is not where it should be. Her mind leaks into the watch, just where it's not supposed to go…