Toshiko Sato does not understand what is happening. It's her third day working under Captain Jack Harkness, and already she has met an organic supercomputer that she thinks might just be the love of her life, seen aliens, and then had a bunch of fake credentials shoved in her hands and ordered to go play doctor to cover for Owen Harper, who was currently on the couch in the Hub, covered in vomit and moaning about his head.
The alien she's been sent to examine is bizarre. It looks vaguely like a pig, but the technology scans that she's getting definitively indicating alien technology.
She brushes her hair out of her face and adjusts her glasses, grateful that at least that army man is gone. He was too military in a way that reminded her of UNIT, and being in a room with him had made the walls seem to close in on her again.
Never again, she whispers in her mind. I won't be held like that again.
A different man comes, full of authority and confidence in a way that reminds her of the Captain. He looks vaguely military, but in a much more casual way. He smiles at her, and he looks rather handsome when he does. His head is closely shaven and he wears a leather jacket over a jumper. He knows so much, and all Tosh wants to do is ask him questions; so many questions, because she feels that unlike Jack, this man will give them to her.
"How'd you get this job then?" He asks her abruptly, right after he's finished giving a story about mermaids and how the pig (actually a pig, what is happening) was made into a sort-of-mermaid. "How'd you end up dissecting aliens?"
Tosh feels herself flushing. "My boss… he said that we had to send somebody," she stutters, fiddling with the scalpel she's found herself holding. "Our… our actual doctor, Owen, well, he wasn't fit at the moment. But we needed to send someone, because the current administration doesn't like UNIT that much and…"
"So you got the job?" He asks. He seems to find it funny. He's smiling again. "What's your actual specialty then?"
"Mechanics," she mutters, "Computers. Machines. That kind of thing."
He takes her hand. His is calloused and scarred, but cool to the touch. He looks into her eyes, and she sees, just for an instant, just how old he really is, and how broken. He's even more broken than the Captain, even more than her. He's shattered, utterly and completely, with only a few pieces of tape holding him together at all.
"So, Miss Sato," he asks her. "How would you like to see a time machine?"
She thinks, briefly, about Captain Harkness, about her debt of five years. But…
It's a time machine.
"Please," she says. "I'd love to."
Then she meets Rose and Harriet Jones, and they lock themselves in an office, and engage in a battle against the Slitheen. The Doctor takes her and Rose into his TARDIS, and the three of them travel far and wide.
The TARDIS is fantastic. It's beautiful, and complicated, and alive, oh so alive. What was that about an organic computer, there's a TARDIS. She spends her time in the TARDIS with the Doctor in the control room, asking questions about time travel and laws of physics and every other scientific thing she's ever wanted to know. She learns so much, just talking with the man (alien?).
Rose seems… well, a bit jealous at first, until Tosh accidently comments about the attractiveness of a female singer they've gone to see from the mid-twenty-first century, and if Rose jumps to the conclusion that she only likes girls… well, if it means that Rose no longer has misplaced jealousy (the Doctor is so far from Tosh's type it's not even funny), she's not going to correct her.
She sees stars and aliens, meets Julius Ceaser and might have the tiniest crush on Catherine the Great during their brief stint at the Russian court, back when Catherine was still a young princess. There are picnics on other moons, battles in space, historical inaccuracies to weep over… Tosh has never been happier.
Then they come to Earth during World War II, and she meets Jack. He's so much younger, it's ridiculous. She keeps it to herself, because… well, the TARDIS seems to think that she should. It's nothing big, just a slight pressure on her mind every time she thinks of mentioning it. But it's enough for Tosh to guess that she probably shouldn't, that it probably will have awful time-shattering consequences.
So she travels with Rose and Jack and the Doctor, and she meets Mickey and fights the Slitheen again, and eventually…
Well honestly, she knew that the X-Factor was a harsh competition, but the robotic judges literally eviscerating the failing competitors is a bit much.
Luckily, however, she manages to rally three other competitors and dismantles the robotic version of that awful Simon bloke, and uses his circuit board to construct weapons that she can use to break them out.
Because she is just that good.
The Doctor, however, still sends her and Rose back home, and no amount of shouting and raging can change that. Rose mopes and cries and screams in anger, but Tosh knows where she needs to go, so she kisses Mickey on the cheek, hugs Jackie goodbye, and high tails it to Cardiff, where Jack will have her answers.
When he sees her, he hugs her tightly. He tells her what he remembers of the Dalek attack. She tries to think of a way to get back, but she can't think of a thing.
She resumes work with Torchwood, although Suzie and Owen seem to be surprised by her new confidence. She ignores them cheerfully, plowing through upgrading all of Torchwood's technology and keeping an eye on Mickey and Jackie through cameras.
She falls for Owen eventually, falling for his angry, hurt sarcasm and his biting remarks, and his too big heart that he tries to hide, because it hurts too much. She falls for him and it hurts, but when it hurts too much she goes and gets drunk with Jack, but never sleeps with him, even though some days she wants to.
Canary Warf comes and goes, and Rose's name is on the list of the dead, as is Mickey's and Jackie's, and she and Jack break down together, mourning their family.
Ianto Jones enters the picture, and he's sweet and young and broken, and when Toshiko finds his girlfriend-turned-Cyberman in the basement, she quietly sabotages his equipment so she dies peacefully in her sleep, and his suffering can stop.
His eyes are bloodshot the next day, but she says nothing, and the young man buries himself in work… and Jack.
Then the TARDIS comes. Tosh has long since made her decision to leave, but…
She needs her answers. She needs to know.
She grabs her coat and runs along with Jack, desperate to learn what happened to Rose, what happened to Jack, why he never came to find her.
It's not her Doctor she finds. It's a new one, with more smiles and a prettier face, but his smiles no longer mean the world, and he's now mourning Rose (even if she's alive) as well as his people, and he's hurting so much, she can barely stand to look at him. She pays attention to Martha instead, who is clever and beautiful and so in love with the Doctor that it aches just to watch her. She befriends the other, and when Martha wanders the Earth for a year, Toshiko walks beside her. The two of them. The women who walk the Earth. There are tales of them.
They save the world, and then they both leave the Doctor behind, leaving him with hugs and farewells and promises and phone numbers. She lures Martha to Torchwood (with Jack's help) and the first thing she does when she gets back is to ask Owen out on that date.
Because she is not waiting any longer.
Astrid leaps out of the machine, just in time. The Doctor grabs her hand and pulls her to safety, and the two of them flee. They see off the professor, and then he takes her hand, and they run into the TARDIS.
The very next day (it seems) they find Donna, who is funny and courageous and bold and brilliant and beautiful… and she comes with them. It's Doctor-Donna-Astrid, and even if Astrid sometimes feels like a third wheel in the friendship, it's all wonderful.
She touches stars (literally in one case; a star made entirely of diamond, icy to the touch, and shining with a brilliant light) and learns more about Earth than she ever thought she could. She learned how to laugh so not to offend a Randraleen, how to dance a waltz, and took lessons on the violin from a man named Mozart who Donna seemed to be really impressed by.
Oh Donna. Astrid is enamored with her. Her wit, her smiles, the way she could get almost anyone in the universe to do what she wanted with a glare and a shout. Astrid smiles and says nothing, and ignores the Doctor's knowing looks.
The name sends shivers up her spine, and she wants to run far, far away from it all, these monsters from legend, and their horrible creator. But she stays, because Donna stays, and the Doctor stays, and she tries to prepare herself to fight.
But then Donna gets consumed by the Doctor's regeneration energy, and she is so scared, because it's not Donna anymore. She's Doctor-Donna, brilliant and clever and magnificent, and oh, Astrid's so frightened. It's not the woman she loves anymore, and she feels everything she's tried to build slipping through her fingers.
And so when Donna's mind (her fantastic, wonderful, clever mind) is about to burn out, she gets between Donna and the Doctor, because she's got something she needs to do.
She kisses Donna, and the stars shine bright, searing into her eyes. Energy pours out of Donna into her, setting her on fire. For one, single, beautiful second, she sees the world the way the Doctor does.
Then she smiles at Donna. "I love you," she whispers, and then she collapses into stardust.
Sally Sparrow finds the TARDIS one day. The door swings open, inviting her to enter, tempting her with the bigger-on-the-inside and the possibilities and potential and… everything.
Larry is waiting for her in the shop, but… but he hates adventure and he just wants to settle down, have the picket fence and the mundane. Sally loves him, but she wants just one more adventure before she seeks peace.
The Doctor is waiting for her, Martha by his side. She smiles at them, and their journey begins.
Sally and Martha both want to see the past. The Doctor can bluster about the future, with its bells and whistles all he wants, but Sally likes to remember just how good she has it. She likes being reminded just how far she's come in her rights, not to be tempted with rights and privileges and equality that she will never see in her life time.
She and Martha have tea with Shakespeare and save the world alongside Jane Austen. Sally goes and sees Kathy again, even if the other refuses to leave her husband and children, but there are happy tears and hugs and promises to say goodbye to Larry.
She blows up aliens using fireworks, and saves the human race by quoting Star Wars, and imagining them vividly enough that the would-be-conqueror actually thinks that humans can use the Force, and retreats.
She laughs herself sick after that, and then decides to go home.
She returns to Larry, nice, sweet, sensible Larry, and she tells him what happened. He's upset, of course. But he forgives her when she gives him the letter from Kathy and a little ring she picked up in ancient Egypt.
"Marry me?" She asks, her hand on his.
"Of course," he breaths, kissing her breathlessly.
Rita enters the TARDIS, and she is overwhelmed.
"Where shall we go?" The Doctor asks, spinning around like a child in the toy store, eyes alight.
"The future," She breaths. "It's a time machine, right? Show me the future."
He grins at her, and he dances around his control panel, flipping switches and twirling dials, and she just falls back with Amy and Rory and watches the madness.
Oh, and there is madness. She gets crowned Queen of the Calliope System by accident, and actually has to rule for three days before the Doctor finds a way for her to abdicate without causing a civil war. Three whole days of listening to complaints, and dealing with bureaucracy, and assassination attempts.
She deserves that week in the spa, and no complaining will convince her otherwise.
She meets River Song, and she sees just how that woman could be married to the Doctor. A madwoman needs a madman. They're the only ones able to keep up with each other, playing and bantering and competing in a way that's always flirting. Rita watches and laughs and laughs, and tells Rory, matter of factly, that she sees a lot of him in his daughter.
Rory smiles at her fondly and agrees, although he claims that she's more Amy.
But she's both, Rita thinks. She's Amy, and Rory, and the TARDIS too, and a little bit of special something that is definitively her own. She's madness and wit, violence and love, and she's so River.
River kidnaps her once, takes her on a little hike to carve Hello Sweetie on an Aztec Pyramid. The two of them then set out to invent the first American cocktail, mixing River's surprisingly large stash of Vodka with every ingredient that they can get their hands on. Rita accidently gets the Emperor's wife so drunk (and gets smashed herself in the process) and finds herself in bed with the woman, after what appears to be a night of wild and crazed sex. She manages to grab her clothes and flee out the window before anyone sees her, but she really hopes the Doctor comes quickly.
The Doctor then declares that they should never be allowed to team up again, which of course, results in not-kidnappings, but excursions, where they try to cause as much trouble as they can throughout history. Eventually though, Rita thinks that she should get back home.
She leaves, but he comes to visit sometimes. Amy and Rory come too, although they stop one day. When she asks, River smiles sadly, and tells her.
The next time he comes, she punches him for not telling her, and then hugs him tightly. He stays with her for a week, drinking her tea and watching Star Trek. She goes on one trip with him again, which of course ends up as an insane adventure involving sentient snowmen. She ditches him to the company of his mystery woman, and then returns to her nice apartment, where she takes up a bet with her new girlfriend Joan about how long it will be before he shows up again.
(Two months, three days, twelve hours; victory for Rita.)
Wilf looks at the new, young Doctor. "You alright?"
"I'm fine!" The alien-man squeaks, desperately flailing around the consol. "We're crashing!"
Wilf blinks. "Oh." Then he holds on for his life.
They crash in the garden of Amelia Pond, a cute little girl who reminds him sorely of his Donna. This Doctor proves to be… slightly picky about food. Wilf and Amelia share a tub of ice cream and watch the Doctor flail around the kitchen, and laugh at him.
The Doctor has to make a quick hop to the future, leaving Wilf to look after Amelia, while the Doctor saves the TARDIS.
What is supposed to be five minutes was three months. Amelia is despondent, and it takes a lot of effort on Wilf and Rory's (her neighbor boy who adores little Amy) parts to stop her from telling the whole village about her raggedy doctor.
When the Doctors shows up again, there is a serious discussion about child endangerment, and it ends with Amy and Rory coming along for a brief trip, then being dropped off again, then being picked up again in three months, and it kept going on. In between visiting the kids, the Doctor and Wilf go on adventures of their own, which tend to be slightly more dangerous and involve things like Daleks. Wilf takes great pleasure in blowing up the plungered bastards who stole away his granddaughter's mind and happiness, as does the Doctor.
He goes to see Donna some times, her and her new husband. She's all smiles and jokes, but… sometimes her eyes start looking far away, or her grin is off, or she lingers too long when she's passing a trench coat or Converse in a store, and he knows that she'll never quite be right.
Amy and Rory grow up, in the mean time. Rory asks her to marry him. They start to travel more often, the adult versions of the children from the garden. The Doctor beams and smiles and is truly happy, surrounded by his wonderful family.
Amy calls him Grandpa, sometimes, when she's about to sleep.
Wilf smiles at his family fondly, and makes sure that Amy's secure on the couch.