A/N: The final part! I started this fic just after The Big Bang aired, and the only part I didn't more or less write in July 2010 is this one. S6 provided me with a way to, hopefully, tie this together (in some manner).
I feel like I should explain this fic, but I don't know how, so I'm just going to put it here. When it comes down to it, these are some of my rather convoluted thoughts on Who and its characters, so, um, thank you for reading.
The Goblin laughs (at least it sounds like a laugh), copies the face the Woman's making. "Don't ask me, I'm just the resident copy! Tell me, how's being suspended in time working for you?"
The Woman sniffs. "You must like the sound of your own voice."
"Oh, fine," says the Goblin, looks them over. "You may, collectively, ask me two questions if I can dare our Girl something."
The Man straightens. "What?"
"I'll answer one with a truth and the other with a lie. How about it?"
"Dare her to do what?"
"How about it?"
"How about it?"
"Fine. I'll ask."
"Oh, of course you will. Dazzle me!"
"Are you and I the same?"
A sneer. "No. Thought that was obvious."
"Is that a lie?"
The Goblin rolls his eyes.
"Ha!" The Girl exclaims; can't help herself.
"Was that really the most pressing question?" mumbles the Woman.
The Man merely smiles.
"My turn, and the dare. Amy! One of these men – choose. One stays, the other… leaves. Either way I think I'll keep you, see. And you, too, Woman; guess I'll have to."
The Woman bends a knee. "Flattered, but no thanks."
"I won't." The Girl clutches the Woodsman's hand with one of hers and reaches for the Raggedy Man with the other; paws at his torn shirt. "I won't choose."
The Raggedy Man squeezes her fingers but refuses their grip; flicks a strand of her hair and smiles. And he walks backwards, smiling still, across the thousands of hairlines fracturing the floor.
"Where are you going?" she asks.
He winks, and opens the door; lets the full glare and the cold heat in for a moment –
and the door shuts with a click (a tiny sound for what was, considering, a heavy door) and he's no longer inside the castle.
The Goblin mock-gasps. "Oh, no! Did you see that coming? I certainly didn't."
The Girl makes for the door, pulls the Woodsman with her; but the Woman blocks her path.
"So he left on his own," continues the Goblin. "What are you going to do about it, hm? Cry?"
"Why her?" asks the Woodsman, and the Girl tries not to notice that he looks relieved. (Really, really relieved.)
The Girl scowls. "You can just shut up. All of you."
"Oh, shush," says the Goblin, "You'll forget him soon."
The Girl's eyes have glazed over, and she's cross-legged on the floor, sitting on her red coat. She's in the Goblin's castle with the Woodsman and the Woman, and she's not feeling very well.
"Okay!" The Woodsman shouts, stomps his foot. "What is it you want us to do?"
The Goblin slouches on his throne. "I don't want you to do anything, stupid. You'll wake up soon, we'll all be rid of one another." He raises a brow. "At least I hope you'll wake up soon. Tranquillisers were never my forte."
"Are you that desperate for praise?" The Woman raises her book; licks the tip of a finger; flips another page. "What about me?"
"There's always a way out, apparently."
The Girl bites her lip; something's a bit wrong, isn't it? She looks at the Woodsman, but he's distracted by his hand (again); stares at it; shakes his head.
Something brushes her shoulder; the Woman's fingers. The Girl looks up, because why not?
The Woman seems, of all things, calm. "Didn't you say something about guessing?"
The Girl blinks, and she thinks about the way there and back again – remembers the feeling of fabric in her hand and the warmth of a voice in her ear. She thinks about the pain in her throat and in her chest and in her head, about her half-finished painting, swallowed up by the Shed swallowed up by the ground. She can't remember the adventures the Goblin talks about, but she remembers returning, every night, returning – "Someone's missing," she says.
"Who could possibly be missing?" The Woodsman presses his hands to his head. "If he'd just tell us what's happening, but no, he's just going to sit there and make that face…"
"Shh!" The Girl makes fists and raises her voice (because she was asked to guess); cries to the room in general. "Good Wizard!"
There's a sourceless wind and the orange light dims, and he's a familiar profile stumbling into existence, with a perfectly horizontal bowtie and an enormous smile and a few accessories.
The Goblin straightens, brushes his trousers off.
Once the Wizard's there, the thunder starts up again; the orange light blazes and throws shadows all across the broken floor. "Hello! I'm the Man with the Mop. And the Fez. Can't forget the fez. And the Bowtie! Don't forget that! And the Madman Without A Box. And the Good Wizard. And, oh, dear, someone shut me up!" He looks at the Girl, and his eyes shine. "Good Wizard is nice, though, as far as monikers go."
The Goblin hisses. "That's my word!"
"Oh, you have got to be kidding me!" says the Woodsman.
The Wizard hands the Girl the mop. "Sorry I'm a bit late. Had to tell a girl a story, and the ducks kept interrupting. Hold this."
"Great!" says the Girl. "Let's whack him in the face!"
"Yes, maybe later."
The Goblin doesn't look worried; if anything, he looks even smugger. "Saving the day in the nick of time. Right? The Woodsman agrees with me."
"Leave him alone."
"I'm curious, though… Why would you relive this? Seriously?"
The Good Wizard shrugs. "I didn't have much to play with, did I?"
"And you're sure this… impromptu hivemind was the way to go?"
"We're helping each other."
"Ah, yes, the silence! Worked it through? Figured it out yet?"
"I'm impressed by the perfect prisons, though. Lemons, lemonade."
The Girl hefts the mop; the worn wood bites her hands. "What are you on about now?"
"Dreaming." The Goblin leers. "Or… falling through time, or being tranquilised, or shutting yourself away in a box – again, I might add." He fixes the Good Wizard with a stare. "Cut off from the rest of the universe, and you still haven't worked it out?"
"Speaking of…" The Good Wizard rubs his hands together, smiles. "Let's not drag this out anymore, shall we?"
"That's it? You're just going to do it like that?"
"Amelia Pond," says the Good Wizard. He turns away from the Goblin and walks up to her; tangles his fingers in the ends of her hair, and when he pulls them back he's holding a speck of dust. "See, the thing about fairytales…" He blows the dust away, and –
The Goblin spreads his hands and disappears.
The orange outside bursts through the windows, bursts properly; great beams of light; cracks – it becomes brighter and hotter; falls on the throne and the table and the chess pieces and make them bleed away; erases the castle from the inside.
The Good Wizard raises a hand to the Woodman, pokes the air in the Woman's direction; then he grins, and adjusts his fez, and challenges the light with open arms.
The Girl backs closer to the Woodsman, to the Woman.
The Wizard disappears, fades away, and the light is searing, blinding –
Her stomach flips, and the hair on her arms stands up; her knees give way and she thinks that the floor will be hard and –
ever after ever after.
The Girl twitches. The Woodsman's fingers aren't entwined with hers anymore, and the Woman's hand is no longer on her shoulder.
"Can you even remember? The warehouse?"
"I see you."
"What are you waiting for?"
"Do not approach the prisoner."
The smell of plastic and sweat, the sandpaper-y dryness in her mouth; her hair in her eye.
Here's the box in the box, hidden in plain sight, and here's the man in the box and here's the girl who remembered and the boy who forgot.
Here's Canton Everett Delaware III, helping her to her feet.
"So I guess they can't hear us, right?"