HAPPY TWELFTH DOCTOR DAY! I LITERALLY DON'T CARE ABOUT ANYTHING ELSE RIGHT NOW! LALALA!
I wake up. And I have no idea where I am. I'm sitting on a bench next to a parking lot. The Tardis is parked in the middle of it. Around me are a bunch of apartment buildings. A faint twinge at my left wrist tells me that I was brought here by the vortex manipulator.
Frowning, I sit up. I rub my temples. My head hurts, like I drank too much whiskey the night before.
Sorry, says the voice in my head. The voice one River Song. I wanted some time alone with him.
Him, of course, being the Doctor.
"Never do that again," I mumble. "I mean it."
He wanted me to.
"You're just saying that because you're a psychopath."
Do you know why I'm inside you, Lillian?
"Been a bit busy. Haven't really had time to think about that."
You might want to. Your time is running out.
"Why don't you just tell me?"
"I hate you."
River just laughs. And her voice echoes away. And she's gone.
At least for now.
I can still feel her in there, smiling, laughing. Grumbling, I push myself off the bench. The headache fades away. Oh, it was just River giving me a headache. Amazing.
I march over to the Tardis, pulling the key out from underneath my shirt. I let myself in, shutting the door behind me. I lean against the doors and close my eyes a moment. I'm just so tired. Can I just, like, sleep for a week? Please?
Part of my misses my old bed in my old world. I want to curl up with a good book and a cup of tea. Maybe watch a movie. When was the last time I just sat and watched a movie? Sorry, what's a movie again?
I sigh and open my eyes.
The golden console room. It's 10's Tardis. Ugh! 11 has disappeared on me. Again. (Yes, I know I probably disappeared on him. Whatever. I'm still mad.)
I run my fingers over the console as I pass it. My fingertips tickle. Even though she probably only likes me because River's inside me, I still get comfort when the Tardis says hello.
"Do I have a room?" I ask.
She chirps in my head and I know that means yes. I smile and climb down to the hallway. I take a couple turns, then turn around and take a few more turns. Then I climb up some stairs and down a spiral staircase. And then for some reason I have to take an elevator down ten stories. Finally I find my door.
"Hidden, eh?" I tease the Tardis as I enter my room.
Just how I left it. I don't get how that happens, but it does. Every time.
I take a quick shower to wash the moon out of my hair. Then, wrapped in a big fluffy towel, I flop onto the bed. My eyes start falling. I only need a few minutes of sleep…
I'm staring at doodles on a note pad in a cafe in New York. The cafe is empty, though the giant fireplace roars with fire. Most of the walls are windows. The counter is made of glass and the dessert tray is empty. The trees outside are losing their bright leaves. It's dry and cold in here. There's lava outside.
A cloister bell bangs as the door opens. I look up from my cup of blood. Dead eyes stare at me. He's wearing a blue pin-stripe suit and his hair is sticky-upy, just like the last time I saw him.
"Hello, my love," he snarls, sitting in front of me.
"Oh," I pick up the cup of blood. "I forgot about you." The cup tumbles from my fingers and smashes onto the checkered floor. Blood and porcelain everywhere.
"I noticed." He throws a cup of tea against the window. It doesn't spill. "You need to think. Things must have been quite exciting for you of late."
I reach over the table and run my fingers through his hair. I blink. In a flash, an Ood is standing behind him, holding a bright translating globe. Kyle the vampire snarls at me. Silence everywhere. I blink and we are alone again.
"I don't understand," I whisper. My fingers are covered in blood. I sit back and wipe my hands on my jeans. "I didn't mean to forget you. It's just… I'm not quite myself."
"You were never yourself. You never had that choice."
I look at my reflection in the window. River's face is superimposed over mine.
"Daniel, how long have I been gone?" We're holding hands now.
"Too long," he squeezes my hand and my bones shatter. "They're almost here."
I lean forward. "Who?"
But Daniel's gone.
In his place is Michael.
"Let me go," he says.
I stand up. "I did let you go."
His kid eyes are sad. "I'm not what you need."
"I know" My lips don't move, but the words are said out loud.
There's a mirror. But my reflection is River.
"Get out of my head," I say. I punch the mirror, but nothing happens. "This isn't your life."
"I didn't ask for this either," she says. She reaches a hand out, through the mirror. "I just want peace."
I slap her hand away. She bursts into crows. The mirror falls on me, shattering. Chunks of mirror slices through my skin.
My blood is gold dust.
I wake up, gasping.
So much for rest.
I'm more tired than before, but I don't even bother trying to go back to sleep. My eyes feel puffy. I stumble out of bed and throw the towel off me.
I empty my stomach into the toilet.
I lay there, sobbing, shivering. And I don't know why.
Fifteen minutes later, I climb back to my feet. I brush my teeth, wash my face again, and I slip into a floral sundress to try to lighten my mood. I tug on some black tights and a pair of combat boots. Then I leave my room.
Which is now right next to the console room.
I can feel the Tardis in my head. She's trying to comfort me. I let her. But someday, that Doctor and I are going to have a BIG conversation. Even if I have to superglue his hand to the vortex manipulator so that neither of us can escape. I can only take so much stress. Even my dreams are messed up.
I hear the Tardis doors open, so I straighten my shoulders and enter the console room.
The Doctor is calibrating the Tardis. I can't judge his mood from behind, so I hesitate, taking a few deep breaths. Then I plaster a smile on my face. I will be in a better mood. In fact, I take a second to admire his bottom in that brown pinstripe suit. See? Already better!
I may be mad at him, but that's the future. This Doctor isn't nearly as annoying. Yet.
I creep behind him. "What's up, Doc?" I joke in my best Bugs Bunny voice.
The Doctor jumps a mile. He spins to me. His face is a comical array of scared, confused, and concerned.
"What?" he says.
I just beam at him. "Sorry, I've always wanted to do that."
"I know, I know, it's a lame joke. Amused me, though."
"How did you get in here?"
I stroll around the console. "You gave me a key." Figures, I must have gone pretty far back. "Or will give me a key? Either way, I have one now?"
"Sorry, do I know you?"
That makes me freeze. "Oh." I put my hands up and step away from the console. He's pointing the sonic screwdriver at me. Well, this is new. "Um… Sorry. I thought…"
Great. Thanks, Tardis, for not telling me. Next time write a note or something, ok?
"I'm Lily," I say. No recognition. "Lillian Meyers? I think we've met… Anyway, we know each other. In the… future, I guess." I laugh, but it's humorless. "You'd think I'd be better at explaining this sort of thing."
Recognition lights up his eyes. He tucks the sonic screwdriver away. "Lily. Right. I've met you once before."
Well, ain't that a stab in the heart?
I clear my throat and I can feel a babble bubbling up. Luckily, it doesn't get very far.
The Tardis jerks. I stumble into the console. She starts wheezing.
"What are you doing?" the Doctor yells. He runs around, flipping switches. "You can't leave yet!"
I pull the hand brake, but it does nothing. "She's doing this on her own!" I yell back.
"Oh, really?" the Doctor says. He his the console with a mallet. "I didn't realize that! Come on, we can't leave without Rose!"
I reach for the zig-zag plotter, but, wait, that's from the other Tardis and… Did he just say something about Rose?
We land with a crash. I fall into the console, just barely missing my nose. I lose my grip and fall right onto my ass.
"Where are we?" I ask.
The Doctor, who had managed to stay up, looks at the screen. "The same place I was getting ready to leave for."
He abandons the screen. "It's the year five billion and twenty three." I jump up as he runs past me. "We're in the galaxy M87, and this?" He opens the door and sticks his head out. "This is New Earth."
"New Earth?" I say.
He closes the door. "Yup," he pops the p. "But it doesn't matter. I'm going to take us back."
He passes me and I whirl around. "We're going back?"
"I was trying to bring Rose here. I don't want her to think that I abandoned her."
Oh, good god. I'd laugh at the irony if that wasn't so sad.
I tilt my head, really taking a good look at him. He's concentrating on calibrating the Tardis again, so I don't think he's paying attention to me. He looks young. His hair is weird. Not so much sticky-upy… but there's still lots of pomade. He's holding himself as if he doesn't really know how to use his body yet. And he's not so quick to smile.
He just regenerated.
I scratch at my scalp with both hands. My hair feels insane when I'm done, but I don't care.
I don't know what to say. I don't know how to fix this.
The Doctor slams against the console. "No!" He shouts. "Don't do this!"
"What's wrong?" I ask.
"The engines are cut off," he says. "No, sorry, not cut off. They're working, but the Tardis is redirecting the power."
I lean against a column. My back feels all tingly. "Maybe she wants us to stay." I feel the Tardis chirp. "You're needed here."
"And I'll come right back," he promises. He's jerking the hand brake back and forth. "As soon as I pick up Rose, we'll come right back."
He's having a maniac attack on the console. There's no other way to describe it. He looks like he's going crazy.
"She's being stubborn," I say a few minutes later. "For whatever reason, she wants us here. Without Rose."
He glares up at me. "Who are you? I don't even know you."
"You will. I promise," I sigh. "Look, would the Tardis let me in if she didn't trust me?"
That seems to make him think. Or at least angst all over the place.
"Maybe if we, like, I dunno, look around? Figure out what the Tardis brought us here for?"
He stares at me another moment. Then, resigned, he reaches into his jacket. "I got this message… Do you know what the psychic paper is?" I nod and he continues, holding out the psychic paper to me. "Someone wants to see me."
I take the psychic paper. It says, "Ward 26. Please Come."
"Where is Ward 26?" I ask.
"Hospital," he says, brushing past me. He opens the door, but steps back, holding it open for me. As I walk past him and step onto the bright green grass—why does it smell like sweet gala apples?—I can feel his eyes burning into me.
I don't like mistrustful Doctor. But what can I do?
"And where is this hos—Oh, that's gorgeous." I interrupt myself, taking a few steps forward. There's a city ahead of me, stretching high into the sky. Flying around everywhere are little dots. It takes me a second to recognize them. "Are those flying cars? Awesome! You know you're in the future, since there are flying cars." I beam up at the Doctor as he stops next to me.
He looks me over, his mouth spreading into a smile.
"What?" I ask at his sudden and welcome delight.
"I love that look," he says. "They all get that look. I bet Rose would have given the same look." He frowns, but then shakes his head. "Right, off to the hospital. The sooner we get there, the sooner we leave." He turns away from the city.
He starts walking in the direction of a tall building along the coast, opposite the rest of the city. It's vaguely familiar, so I follow behind the Doctor.
"Is this New New York?" I ask.
"Yes," the Doctor responds over his shoulder. "Well, strictly speaking, it's the fifteenth New York since the original, so that makes it New New New New New New New New New New New New New New York."
Oh, I remember now. New New York. The hospital with the Catkind and The Face of Boe.
And Cassandra. Who takes over Rose's body.
And Rose isn't here to do that.
That can't be good.