Title- Finding Fire Amid Ice
Seven and Ace
"It amazed him to find a fiery creature like her on Iceworld of all places." As Ace prepares to leave, Seven reflects.

A/N- Odd little piece, but it had to be written. Tell me what you think with a review. *hint hint*

"So... I guess this is it, then."

"I suppose so."

"End of the adventure."

"Oh, Ace, it's never the end of the adventure."

"Yeah, I know... but it won't be half so fun without you, Professor."

No, he thinks soberly, as he surveys her, it won't be half so fun without you.

She is a woman now, her bags in hand, ready to walk out that deceptively narrow door for the last time. That auburn hair that looks plain brown most of the time, but which turns copper-penny-red in the light of a supernova, is tied up just as she has always worn it, and she still has that ridiculous leather jacket, but other than these tokens of her past, she is no longer the child he met so many years ago.

That first meeting was a funny thing, he recalls, smiling. Even then- perhaps especially then- she was a little bundle of tightly coiled energy, just looking for an outlet, and he was the one who released the spring.

She is human (well... mostly). Any other space or time traveler would call her a Child of Earth. But he knows better.

Ace was never a creature composed of earth. She was not born of rock and clay and the little green things that grow and Thursday afternoons. She was never that. Even long before he met her, she was never one of those silly, wonderful humans who go about their lives with their heads in the sand. She was always beyond that, always more than that.

From the moment he met her, Ace was a woman of starfire and dreams. Everything about her spoke of light and danger and burning and fierce, overwhelming love. That intellect of hers blazed, her aptitude for science and chemistry frightening those around her. Her temper was both a weakness and a strength, acting sometimes to blind her to what she really needed to see, but also lending her the sheer energy to power her way through any problem.

That blazing light in her soul struck him from the very moment he met her. It amazed him to find a fiery creature like her on Iceworld of all places. How can such hot fire exist in such a cold place? he recalls wondering, all agape once again by the universe, the juxtaposition that great mystery had presented him with this time.

At the same time that he marveled at her, he remembers being a little afraid of her. She was something new, something uncontrolled. He had thought at first he would just leave her there to catch the last shuttle off Iceworld; if Mel had not chosen that moment to leave, and dropped a few heavy hints, he would have.

Now, he's glad he didn't. These past twelve years (give or take) with her aboard the TARDIS have been undeniably the best of this life, and among the best of any of his lives. He knows he's been good for her, as well. If he'd left her alone, that fire in her would undoubtedly have been lost. Either it would have burned out completely, leaving her the shell of the woman she could have been, or it would have flared up destructively and consumed her, made her both great and terrible, a bully, a tyrant, with that tragic dark fire that illuminates those that might once have been beautiful but allowed themselves to be skewed apart by life.

Today, as he prepares to see her leave at last, he finds a very different result presented to him. She has been burned by her own flame and been tempered by it. She is young and courageous and free and, best of all, she is wise. Still hasty, but not reckless, still fierce, but not foolish. She has learned to use that fire to warm and illuminate as well as to scorch. All that wildfire intellect has been honed, sharpened to the utmost, an incredible tool. She is ablaze from within, an invisible light that he can nevertheless sense around her, almost tangible in the air.

He has had many companions, so many that he thinks of as his children, of sorts. He has watched them grow, some of them from very young ages, and on reflection he thinks he is probably far prouder of most of them than he is of his own children. Ace, though, is special. She is the daughter he never had, and he is so honored to have had the chance to help to raise her, to guide her, to shape her into the woman she has become.

When she walks out those doors, he thinks, she will be an incredible gift to the universe.

"Will you be alright? I mean... you'll have someone else to travel with soon, right?"

"Yes, probably."

"That's good. Wouldn't want you getting lonely without me."

"Oh, there's still plenty left to see in this old universe, plenty of people to meet. I won't get lonely."

"Alright then. I guess this really is it."

She hugs him, and when they break apart he shakes her hand energetically. She turns and walks out the door, heading for the motorcycle she's been retrofitting for months to make it suitable for time travel. That was the one thing she refused to give up. She said she could do too much good to lose the advantage of traveling through time, even if it was only a localized area.



"Be spectacular."

Her grin lights up the little planetoid they're standing on.

"I will."