Twenty-Nine.

When Mickey Smith woke, he woke slowly. He remembers being in and out, blinking and breathing mostly, but even at his weakest he felt a presence with him. Being both dazed and weary he wasn't sure to trust his eyesight when he'd properly come back to the waking world but he soon learned to. The presence he had felt was confirmed and the sights he met were not to be ignored. After going over all that had happened before he'd awoken in such an odd, unimaginable place there was only one thing he found to be true. There was no denying anything anymore. But, best start at the beginning: his awakening.

XXX

Mickey Smith felt himself groan more than he heard it. His body felt stiff and his head felt lacking of coherence. His skin felt funny too, almost like fleeing kisses were dusting over his flesh. It tickled.

"Ah, and he lives." Interrupted a woman's voice at his first signs of life.

Mickey thinks there's a northern edge to her accent but he can't be sure. Images are blurring before him and he's not even properly opened his eyes yet.

"About time too," she continued, "you're missing all the fun."

No matter how he tries to place her voice his brain feels dense and heavy. It's as if connecting the dots requires too much effort. Panic settles in and he can feel his instincts start to kick in, or try to anyway. The sudden urge to run is nothing but a ghost of a feeling. An ill pointed blade poking at his back yet it's not ignorable. Even as he tries to move he soon finds his body is unresponsive to his own wants. When both eyes finally crack open and adjust to the lighting he's under Mickey takes to noticing the difference in scenery with an alarming sense of dread.

He realizes that someone's placed him on a stretcher of some sort. He can tell it's of a medical kind but he's never seen one of it's like in his life. He's also much too naked for his own liking. What looks to be various wires lie strewn across him but they are so thin they remind him more of veins that hide beneath the skin than actual medical equipment. A circular aura seems to be fitted precisely all around the area he occupies but no further. The color of light that shines down on him is of a dim pinkish color. It's so bright that it makes the rest of the room look dark in comparison.

The rest of the room, that is a dark thing indeed. The walls, if that is what they are, seem to be half chewed away. They look more like a garden of badly kept bushes decorating a maze than actual pieces of a building. But they are, or were, a building. There's an abundance in shelves too. Empty shelves that carry a silence louder than it has any right to be.

"Sleep well?" The voice chimed in again. Her voice carried through the silence and Mickey almost gets a sense that the sound chases away at something. Such a notion strikes a nerve that gnaws awake a frightful thing. The feeling takes to setting deep in his gut. Another look around the room and he can't help but imagine that the quiet in the room had its own pair of eyes and ears. Mickey then came to the realization that he had had yet to see any proper sight of this mystery voice and how she could very well be the cause of his current status. The uncertainty was almost too much to handle.

"Oh, no." The girl sounded fretful. "I know that look and don't even think about it mister. I'm nearly done healing you but if your body even thinks of struggling it'll reject all of the work I've done so please, do us both a favor, and don't."

"Where am I?!" His voice sounded broken, even to his own ears.

"Hush, now." The voice tried to soothe. "You're fine. Safe. Or, very nearly safe. You're in a med-bubble. There's only so much space that's not contaminated so I've constructed it around you."

"Why?"

"Well, because you were dying and I couldn't let that happen." Her reply was a tad bit snippy, as if he were a simpleton to ask such a question. Either way, her answer caused him to still because it was well enough news to him.

"Where am I?" He demanded again, "And who are you?!"

"Why?" She sounded amused. "Scared?"

Then he remembered. Christmas. The Fire. Martha.

This time when he attempts to struggle free his body reacts but only allowing him a flick of his wrist. A feeble attempt, but it was enough to drive him forward with purpose. With that thought at heart, he tried to force himself to sit up only to find himself incapable of doing so. He felt as if a ton of bricks were atop his chest and he at the bottom of the pile.

Mickey Smith was no stranger to panic attacks and he could feel the beginnings of a proper one building up.

"Oi, stop that!" The woman shouted at him but Mickey ignored her and tried again.

Suddenly, a visage appeared beside him in the blink of an eye. Her image seemed to be still gathering itself but she wasted no time and prodded at the various wires attached to him. He can only think to describe what was happening before his eyes as pixels from a graphic gathering, all static and fuzzy until the hues and the shape gathered perfectly, joining to show the final masterpiece.

Mickey might have stopped breathing for a second or two because she was there but a moment ago she most definitely had not been. It was enough to render him motionless. She seemed pleased of that.

She was a very beautiful, he noted, and very young. She had long brown hair tied up in a ponytail and was wearing a dress of bright red that fit snug on her tiny frame. He also noticed the gun strapped at her midsection. She stopped her fussing and stared down at him, brow raised disapprovingly. With a skillful glide of her hand a see-through virtual screen appeared.

Mickey swallowed and stared. There was nothing holding the screen and he could see right through it but it was still there. Hovering.

"See this?" She pointed to the screen. His eyes followed to the image she was indicating. It appeared to be a graph chart documenting all sorts of technical things he had no idea of. "This is your life expectancy rate." She informed him. The bar on the graph wasn't even halfway full. Maths had never been his best subject but he could figure what that meant easy enough. He felt himself pale with the realization.

"I'm going to die."

"Yeah," The pretty brunette nodded surely, "Unless you quit being such a little scaredy-cat and let me do my job. What say you?" She asked, "Deal?"

Mickey wanted to say no. He wanted to say he had to go find Martha but it seems whoever this woman was didn't intend to give him the chance. She tinkered with the virtual screen again and then he felt a haze surrounding him. He watched on as she snapped her fingers and the virtual screen evaporated into thin air.

"Now," the stranger said to him with a bright smile, "You get your rest and when you wake up, whatever you do, don't freak out and leave the med-bubble."

Whatever she dosed him with hadn't taken him yet so he had to ask, "Why?"

She smiled, "Because you're not me, so there's nowhere to run that the Shadows won't catch you."

Mickey wants to ask more of what she means but he's out like a light before he can utter another word.

XXX

To be sure, the first thing he heard was singing. No music was provided, the performance was full acapella.

Woman you want me give me a sign

And catch my breathing even closer behind

Do do do do do do do dodo dododo dodo

The voice continued in a soft, yet wobbly tone.

In touch with the ground

I'm on the hunt I'm after you

Smell like I sound I'm lost in a crowd

And I'm hungry like the wolfffff

The voice stopped abruptly before muttering a curse. All fell silent again.

Mickey took the chance and opened his eyes, automatically seeking to catch sight of the tiny brunette whom the voice belonged to. He found himself alone for she was nowhere in sight. He'd been so sure by the sound of her being so close.

He found himself able to sit up now and did so but he didn't hop off from the surface he had awoken on. For some reason he found himself trusting in the mysterious warning the girl had given him before he'd slipped back into unconsciousness. He did glance around properly thought.

He found his brain feeling clearer and so all the things that had spooked him before he now found terribly frightening. Outside the lighted area he was under (the med-bubble, she'd called it) the rooms were dark and deserted. He was stuck in a wasteland, it seemed. At least he was fully clothed now.

The longer he sat, waiting, the more unsettled he became. The darkness outside of the bubble seemed to shift and move around him. He felt like prey.

"Good of you take my warning to heart."

Mickey jumped at the sound of her voice and almost fell from the stretcher. She giggled and then appeared, steadying him with one helpful hand.

It felt so impossible. She had gathered out of thin air and yet she felt as solid as he was. She then reached to check at his pulse point and nodded, appearing satisfied with what she found.

"Who are you?" Mickey asked her.

She ignored the question. "You're back at full health. Bravo, me. I'd have been a hell of a nurse, I tell you."

She hopped onto the stretcher and sat beside him, her legs swinging idly. Given the state of wherever they were and whatever was in the dark, the nonchalance of her every action was so odd. Mickey had never felt more confused in his life. He decided on trying to find where exactly they were.

"What is this place?"

The girl looked to him and smiled. "Mine. I'm the Keeper of the Library." She extended a hand to him and he shook it. "And you, don't belong here."

"I'm Mickey." He offered back to her.

She laughed at that. "I know that much. We already have one of you in this universe."

Mickey didn't know how to reply to that. Instead, he said, "Is Martha alright?"

"I don't know." The girl answered honestly. "I can't see through worlds but I do know one thing, he'll fix it. He always does."

"Who?"

"The Doctor." She answered.

"Please," Mickey begged, "Tell me where I am."

She seemed to consider him for a very long time.

"Oh, what the hell. When the cracks between our separate worlds close you won't remember a thing." She hopped down back onto her feet and started pacing. "You are in a separate universe to your own. Some of the Doctor's friends crossed over to get him back to where he belongs, here, because the longer he's away the more trouble for everyone involved. And since those friends of his are using vortex travels for hopping universes the transfer is dodgy at best. If you were anywhere near their touchdown spot you get caught in the crossfires. They transported there, so you get transported here. Its rubbish, I know, but once they do come back you'll pop right back to your own world as well. The balance depends on it."

"But, but Martha. She was with me. Everything exploded." Mickey shook his head. "I have to know if she's okay."

"You will. I'm planning on sending you back earlier than I should. I need you to carry a message to the Doctor's friends for me." The girl placed a firm hand on his shoulder, "Besides, The Doctor will make sure it's alright."

"How can one man do that?!" Mickey cried. "You weren't there. You didn't see what I saw."

She beamed at him as if she knew something he didn't. "He's the Doctor, and believe me, if anyone can set things right, it's him. It won't be long now. So you just sit tight and ready your strengths. This transfer is going to take a lot out of you. Oh, gods, with all this excitement I almost forgot. I have someone else I have to check in on. I'll be right back."

She was gone before Mickey could stop her, her image sliding away into the air like mist. Stuck in such a place had him wondering who else she could possibly be looking after but she was well enough prepared, she'd proven that much.

Ready your strengths.

She also mentioned a transfer. Mickey didn't know what that entailed but if it got him back to Martha, he'd do it.


So, if going by the various mentions in past chapters had anyone questioning WHERE THE F*** IS MICKEY SMITH?! then hopefully this chapter answered that question. And, I also wanted this chapter to delve into a certain someone I've been wanting to address. Ever since the scene of her (Clara, or one of the many versions of her) watching on as the Tenth Doctor lingered around the Library on the 14th episode of Series 7 (The Name Of the Doctor) happened I've wanted to play around with that idea and so that's what this chapter allowed me to do.

Oh, and please keep in mind/remember that this story IS an AU so this is going somewhere, I promise.