Fandom: Doctor Who
Pairing: Eight/Lucy [hints at the Master/Lucy]
Challenge/Prompt: doctorwho_100 002. Middles
Word Count: 7375
Summary: “You’re a mystery, Lucy Saxon,” the Doctor tells her with a pleased grin.
Author’s Notes: I didn’t want to write 100 fics of crazyness, after all. This is dedicated to Ant, who is not going to read this, but he runs a Doctor Who online forum and was kind enough to lend me the TV movie so I could meet Eight in person, rather than in BBC radio plays. Damn, he’s pretty with his curly hair. And I suppose I’ve made Lucy into a slight River Song figure, but what the hell. It’s personal crack.
You’d think the Second Sight could see before we met.
- Jon Boden
“You’ve redecorated,” Lucy says, and then wants to kick herself.
“So you’ve been in the Tardis before,” the Doctor remarks, smiling at her. Lucy nods, but doesn’t say anything; she’s aware that she’s on thin ice, and the last thing she wants to do is whip up a world-ending paradox. The Doctor doesn’t know her, and he’s not the Doctor who spent months onboard the Valiant anyway; this Doctor has longer hair and bluer eyes and a slightly more interesting dress sense.
“It was less melodramatic,” she murmurs, walking across to the console. The lights flutter and beep before she even lays fingers on it.
“She remembers you,” the Doctor tells her.
A year ago, Lucy would have said that wasn’t possible; the Tardis can’t remember her if she hasn’t been inside yet. But her brain has been re-wired so many times in the last few months that she’s perfectly aware about the process of pre-remembering, about time that curves in on itself and bends back out again. Now, she wonders how she ever coped before understanding all these processes; Jack Harkness just laughs when she tells him that.
I’m sorry, she thinks, pressing her hands against the console and spreading her fingers. A string of coloured lights burst brightly into life, and she takes that to mean that she’s forgiven for the Master’s sins. It’s a nice thought, and Lucy lets out a breath she wasn’t even aware she’d been holding.
“You’re a mystery, Lucy Saxon,” the Doctor tells her with a pleased grin.
Lucy blinks. “Yes,” she murmurs, “Yes, I suppose I am.”
It took a year to put everything back together. The TV cameras caught Harry Saxon being gunned down, but mercifully not his killer. Lucy doesn’t even remember her fingers on the trigger, bringing the Master down choking in his own blood. She doesn’t remember large patches of that period of time; Jack says it’s natural.
“You were possessed,” he explained, last time he dragged her down to Cardiff for a medical examination. His doctor, Owen Harper, conducts them; he has cold hands but a bright smile and Lucy suspects that he is very slowly seducing her. “The Master was pumping you full of mind-altering chemicals, and he spent large chunks of time sharing your consciousness. It’s a wonder you remember anything at all.”
Lucy can’t help thinking that Jack Harkness actually wants to get inside her brain and have a poke around, but she’s not immortal like him, and she’s told him resoundingly that he hasn’t got a chance. She’s trying to put that year behind her and move forward.
“Clearly I’m special,” she told Jack, with a grin to annoy him. “I’m a miracle.”
She moved back in with her parents once the screaming nightmares passed; they were happy to take her, mouths full of Lulu, we were so worried. Her husband was supposedly assassinated by political fanatics, it’s perfectly reasonable to suppose Lucy might have been in danger too. If not for the obvious. Anyway, she endured their anxieties, found a publisher willing to take her on, and began the attempt to slip back into life without a psychopathic alien as her partner.
And it was all going really well until people started vanishing from the streets and leaving trails of blue goo behind, and a man who was unrecognisable but had Lucy’s instincts screaming Time Lord! the minute he appeared began running around outside her house.
It only seems good manners to help him out.
“You seem to know a lot about this,” the Doctor remarks, apparently content to watch Lucy feed samples of the sticky blue substance into various computers. “Just how familiar with this Tardis are you?”
Lucy isn’t that familiar at all, but the Master knew a lot about the Time Lords and their methods of transportation, and chunks of that knowledge have stuck in her mind. The drums left her head when the Master of them died, and his personal history has vanished from her memory, if it was ever there. Pieces of the science have remained behind, however, and the technology comes easily to her. From barely being able to change a light bulb, Lucy has spent the last year rewiring computers for fun and being an unofficial technical consultant for UNIT; Martha may not trust her but she does acknowledge Lucy’s worth.
“How many bodies have you lived in, Doctor?” she asks, staring at the screens. It’s hopeless; she can’t read Gallifreyan, no matter how hard she concentrates. She doesn’t have the Master’s consciousness in her head; just the dregs, the trails left behind.
“This is my eighth,” the Doctor replies, leaning comfortably over Lucy’s shoulder to read the results.
“Then I can’t tell you anything,” Lucy tells him firmly. “You haven’t met me yet, and I’m really not going to be responsible for the inevitable paradox.”
The Doctor likes her, she realises; he’s grinning at her like she’s a shiny new toy he can’t wait to play with. The Master looked at her like that sometimes, but it made her feel afraid. When the Doctor looks at her like that, she just feels amused. She supposes that that’s the difference between the Time Lords.
“I look forward to meeting you again,” the Doctor murmurs, hitting a few keys. “I think you’re going to be formidable.”
He’s so tragically wrong that it’s nearly funny; Lucy has to turn away and bite her lips together to prevent herself from telling him not to get his hopes up.
The blue goo turns out to be what a person becomes when you extract all the bits and pieces that make them solid, turn them into a nourishing kind of soup, and then eat it. Lucy and the Doctor track down the aliens doing this and re-wire their ship to take them straight home with the minimum of journey time and the maximum of turbulence. It’s Lucy who does most of this; while the Doctor is casually charming, she’s the one knelt on the spaceship’s bridge with his sonic screwdriver and a desperate fear that she’s going to blow herself and the ship sky high.
“We make a good team,” the Doctor tells her. They’re sat outside a café with cups of tea, watching people stroll past on a warm summer afternoon. The Doctor’s slightly worn velvet coat is thrown over an empty chair and his sleeves are rolled up, but he still looks like an extra from a BBC costume drama who has lost his way en route to the set. They’re getting a few stares, but the Doctor seems entirely unaware of this.
Lucy laughs. “Oh no you don’t,” she says, a warning in her tone.
“What?” The Doctor is grinning, eyebrows raised in mock innocence. The mischievous twinkle in his eyes completely ruins the effect.
“You’re going to invite me to come with you,” Lucy informs him. “And you know I can’t take you up on the offer because if I let anything slip the universe could end.”
The Doctor studies her for a moment, chin resting on his hands. His clear grey-blue eyes sweep across her face in a way that makes her slightly uncomfortable, although Lucy knows he’s not reading her mind because of the secrets she’s hiding. He looks painfully grave for a while, and then his lips curve up into a smile again.
“So don’t let anything slip,” he says.
“It’s not that simple,” Lucy insists, “And you know it.”
“It’s not that simple,” the Doctor agrees. “But it could be.”
Lucy sighs, refusing to acknowledge the option because she’s nearly consigned herself to living on Earth forever. The Master did his best to break her apart, but it didn’t work, and she’s determined to live on if only to spite him. A normal life seemed impossible once upon a time, and now Lucy wants one if only to prove to herself that not everything shattered on the Valiant.
“Please,” the Doctor says quietly. “I’ll only ask once.”
He holds his hand out across the table. Lucy stares at it for a moment, trying to tell herself to refuse, to do the right thing. But the Time Lord who corrupted her for a year wasn’t terribly good at doing the right thing, and he’s the one who lingers in her mind. She smiles, and takes the Doctor’s hand.
“You’re going to regret this,” she warns him. “Or I am.”
“No we won’t,” the Doctor replies brightly, pulling her to her feet. “I won’t let you.”
Lucy wishes that she could be so confident.
“So, Miss Saxon, where to?” the Doctor asks.
Lucy hasn’t quite got around to telling him that ‘Saxon’ is a made-up married name that she’s clung to because it sounded a little more exciting than ‘Harrison’, her other option.
“Isn’t that up to you?” she replies. The control room seems almost too large, echoing and stony and there are too many armchairs in it. She sort of misses the glowing coral effect the later Doctor favoured, even though the only time she was in that Tardis the Master had butchered it and the air was choked with red and grief.
“Of course not!” The Doctor sweeps a row of switches, palm clicking them the opposite way. The Tardis always seems remarkably low-tech, although Lucy knows just how much power there really is inside it, and how complicated it actually is. “Where do you want to go? Past or future? How about Gallifrey?”
Lucy files away the fact that Gallifrey hasn’t been destroyed yet, and hopes that she’s not going to be around when the Doctor has to rip it apart for the sake of the universe. She swallows, and pulls together a smile.
“I shouldn’t visit Gallifrey,” she says carefully. She dragged out shreds of history from the Master, she recalls; he told her things about his home planet when he was at his craziest. Lucy’s forgotten most of what he said, but not all of it.
“All right.” The Doctor lets this go easily, still smiling at her. “So where do you think we should travel?”
Lucy is trying to keep herself aloof and calm, but just the idea of having the universe unfolded in front of her like a buffet is going straight to her head.
“Somewhere far away from here,” she decides. “Somewhere with a hundred suns, or people with noses on their feet, or no gravity at all… somewhere different.”
The Doctor laughs, and the Tardis screeches into life.
They’ve been flouncing around the universe for about a month and a half, by Lucy’s reckoning, when she stumbles into a room in the Tardis that she’s never been into before. This isn’t unusual by any means, because there seem to be an infinite number of rooms and Lucy really only has so much time on her hands. This one is full of metal boxes, like lockers, with little square labels on the front. Lucy walks down one aisle of boxes, reading the labels with interest.
Contains a machine that creates localised black holes; do not use.
A virus that binds itself to Wrathkan DNA and kills instantly.
This device removes all moisture from the air instantly.
This, Lucy realises, is the room full of the things the Doctor must keep away from the universe. The dangers he tries to hide. It seems almost laughable that they’re here, accessible; if the Master had found these, the world would have been in even more danger than it was. And then Lucy wonders if perhaps the Tardis meant for her to find this room.
Sewn into the lining of her jacket is a large, gaudy ring that Lucy retrieved from the ashes of the Master’s funeral pyre. She didn’t want to do it, but the pieces of her brain that aren’t hers compelled her to search through the remains until the ring was unearthed. It contains, as far as she is aware, the Master’s consciousness; or, at least, all the bits of his consciousness that aren’t still tucked into the corners of hers. Lucy is fairly sure she’s meant to put the ring on and allow the Master to take her over completely, until he can find a more suitable body. She knows that this is what is expected of her, but she’s been strong enough to resist so far.
Part of her worries that she won’t be able to stay so strong forever.
Lucy has kept the ring close to her because it seemed safer; in the wrong hands it would be disastrous. However, she also knows that she can’t guarantee its safety forever, and perhaps this is the Tardis’ way of offering to keep the burden protected for her.
There’s an empty locker at the end of a row; Lucy pulls the stitches of her jacket lining apart, working the ring out through the resultant hole. It feels too heavy in her hand, pulsing with warmth, and she thinks she hears the Master’s voice in her head for a moment. Lucy…
But she can’t and she won’t, and she puts it quickly into the metal cube, pushing the door closed. Immediately, the edges seal, removing all ways of opening it; there’s no keyhole. Lucy digs a pen out of her pocket and writes neatly on the label. Then she turns her back on the locker and walks away, refusing to glance behind her. She’s got to hope that she’s done enough to prevent anyone else repeating her mistakes.
The Master is inside. Please don’t let him out.
You know that he can’t change.
The Doctor puts a record onto his turntable, dropping the needle into place. Lucy watches him with a mixture of amusement and anxiety, as he steps back towards her and holds out his hands.
“Let’s not,” Lucy says.
“I’m not taking you back to the nineteenth century until you can waltz,” he informs her.
“I have two left feet,” Lucy replies hastily. “Harry always said-”
She stops, paling.
“Who’s Harry?” the Doctor asks. “An ex-boyfriend?”
“Yes.” Lucy shakes her head a little. “I shouldn’t have said anything. Please don’t ask me about it.”
“Liability,” the Doctor calls her teasingly, winking at her. He takes Lucy’s hands in his, positioning her. “Now we have to teach you to dance. It can be your punishment for nearly ending the universe.”
“I’m going to break your toes,” Lucy warns nervously.
“Starting on the left foot,” the Doctor says, apparently ignoring her doom-laden rambling. “Ok? And… one-two-three.”
The music crackling out of the old-fashioned record-player is relaxing, and Lucy does her best to keep up with the Doctor. He’s a natural at this, which is a given. He is impossibly graceful, nothing like the gangly and occasionally uncoordinated Doctor she has met before. This man is almost impossibly poised, further cementing the idea in Lucy’s mind that he’s secretly a romantic hero from a Jane Austen novel.
Her fingers clench on the Doctor’s arm, and she stumbles over her feet. She’s sure she used to be more elegant than this, but maybe it’s the one piece of brain damage she sustained from being tortured for a year in the sky. It could be worse, she reflects.
“Well,” the Doctor sighs, “I think you’ll do.”
“You’re mean,” Lucy informs him with a smirk.
“I’m charming,” the Doctor replies, taking a step back. Lucy nearly falls over without his support, and attempts to hide it. She’s definitely not as coordinated as she used to be.
“That’s a matter of opinion,” Lucy shrugs, but she’s laughing.
After all, there’s a beautiful dress in the gigantic Tardis wardrobe just waiting for her to step out into the 1800s.
“And don’t forget,” the Doctor says, “Don’t go on holiday next July. Wait ‘til August.”
The young woman being given this advice frowns a little, but nods eagerly. Lucy has noted that this Doctor seems to love playing the role of TV psychic, rolling out cryptic but nonetheless helpful predictions to random members of the public. It amuses her no end, though perhaps it’s only because he can’t do it to her.
“You know what I like about you, Lu?” he asks, as they’re walking away, their fingers interlacing easily.
“My fabulous fashion sense and unparalleled logic during times of crisis?” Lucy suggests lightly.
“I was going to say your modesty,” the Doctor interjects, a smile tipping across his mouth.
“That too,” Lucy agrees. She’s been a megalomaniac and she’s lost all self-esteem under the fists of an insane Time Lord and now she likes to think she’s somewhere in-between.
She thinks the Doctor probably likes her because she’s a human with more Gallifreyan in her than she cares to admit; but that’s something she’s not going to bring up, if only because she doesn’t want to torture him with too many unanswered questions. It seems a little sadistic, for one thing, and although the Master loved sadism Lucy has managed to keep herself separate from that particular trait.
“You’ve got it all in your head,” the Doctor tells her, sounding thoughtful. “I’m used to being the one with all the answers, but now you’re the one with them. It’s a bit of a relief, to be honest.”
“It doesn’t drive you mad?” Lucy asks. “It would drive me mad.”
She’s curious too; she’s got questions about her past and his future and of course she can’t ask them. What did the Doctor think, seeing her mad and belonging to the Master, knowing that eventually she’d be here? And how did he keep silent?
“I find it restful,” he replies. “Mysteries are such a luxury, when you’re as old as I am.”
Lucy nearly asks how old he is; then she reasons that if she finds out she’ll know the space of time between the Doctor as he is now and his tenth body, and then she’ll know answers regarding her future that she’s not entirely comfortable with.
“I promise that it’ll all become clear one day,” she offers. And you’ll have a year being kept prisoner to put all the pieces into place, she mentally adds, but doesn’t say it aloud.
“I look forward to it,” the Doctor tells her, leaning into her shoulder a little as they walk back towards the Tardis.
I wouldn’t, Lucy thinks.
The Tardis has decided to have some kind of powercut, which Lucy didn’t even know was possible, and the Doctor is doing his best to placate and/or fix her. Lucy considers offering to help; her knowledge of engineering has improved greatly, things just seem to come to her more easily now she has pieces of the Master in her mind.
“Don’t worry, Lu,” the Doctor tells her, “I’ll handle it.” He pushes a handful of white candles into her hands. Lucy glances at him doubtfully.
“All this technology at your disposal, Mr Time Lord, and the best way to light up the Tardis is still fire?”
“Don’t mess with a winning formula,” the Doctor smiles. “I’ll let you know when we’re ready to go.”
Lucy ends up having a bath, the shadowy stone walls of the Tardis scarcely lit by the flickering candles. The Tardis remains imposing, not cosy, and she wonders when the Doctor will make the decision to redecorate. If she’ll be with him when he does. Thinking of both the past and the future confuses her a little; she suspects that if it weren’t for the Master she’d be even more lost and nauseous than she already is. How long does she travel with the Doctor? What happens to her?
“All mended,” the Doctor announces, walking in. Lucy sits up, the water splashing over the sides of the imposing clawed-foot tub. Her wet blonde hair sticks to her shoulders as she hastily curls herself up, preventing the Doctor from seeing anything. She’s sure that he would never think of her that way, but she’s blushing anyway.
Lucy has been in love with a Time Lord before, however mind-altered she became later. And the Doctor claims to be half-human – however that happened – but that doesn’t improve things. If anything, it makes them worse. Time Lords can be cruel and psychopathic and arrogant, but humans can be even more hideously brutal. The Toclafane were people, once, after all.
“You could knock,” she snaps. There’s an edge in her voice that’s never been there before, and she can see confusion on the Doctor’s features.
“The Tardis is ready to go when you are,” he says, still sounding slightly blank, and he backs out.
Lucy sighs, sliding back under the water again. She promised herself she wouldn’t do this.
“How about this, Lu?” The Doctor flings out an expansive arm, managing to encompass the bustling market before them.
“It’s wonderful,” Lucy replies honestly. “I didn’t even know there was a shopping planet.”
“There’s a whole shopping galaxy,” the Doctor corrects her, linking his arm through hers. The bright sunlight here reflects off the curls of his hair, and Lucy leans her head against his shoulder. She’s been travelling with the Doctor for months, possibly even a year; she doesn’t feel the urge to go home, and so they haven’t. The universe has been their playground, and Lucy has seen the very worst thing already; there’s nowhere she’s unwilling to go.
Later, they’re sitting in a café with coffee, and Lucy trying to talk the Doctor into going shopping for shoes that she doesn’t really need when a waiter walks over.
“Lucy Saxon?” he asks.
The Doctor raises amused eyebrows at her. “You’ve been here before?”
“Never,” Lucy tells him, and turns to the waiter. “That’s me.”
“I’ve got something for you,” the waiter tells her. “The Doctor left it for you.”
Lucy glances at the Doctor, but he looks as confused as she feels. She presumes that this means ‘the Doctor’ doesn’t indicate the one sitting opposite her, and curiosity rises in her.
“If you’ll come with me, Miss Saxon?”
The Doctor looks like he wants to come too, but Lucy glares at him. “I’ll be fine,” she says. “And we wouldn’t want to cause a paradox, would we?”
“I suppose not,” the Doctor agrees, sounding exaggeratedly long-suffering. “I’ll have another cup of tea then, and wait for you.”
Lucy follows the young man into what she assumes is some kind of staffroom. He rummages in his locker and pulls out a small, flat package with Miss Lucy Saxon written on it. She takes it, murmuring her thanks, and pulls off the wrapping. The small silver box that’s revealed seems to be some kind of data disk.
“Have you got somewhere I can play this?” she asks.
Her companion nods and takes her to an office with a computer in it. He leaves Lucy in peace and she slots the device into the machine. There’s static for a moment, and then a holographic image waves into life. She claps her hands to her mouth.
“Hello, Lu,” the Doctor tells her. He’s the Doctor that she first knew; neat brown pinstripe suit, battered red trainers, wildly messy hair. The last time they were in the same time period, the Doctor’s face was tight with grief and he was practically looking through Lucy. She wonders if that was deliberate. “I know how curious you are,” he continues, “And I wanted to tell you something so that you won’t worry about it.”
Lucy finds this impossibly surreal; she remembers that the first time she met the Doctor, it was not the first time he had met her. But she was a different person then, and she knows the Doctor must have learned to differentiate between them. Her past/future self, and his past self. Something like that. Even considering it makes her head ache.
“The Lucy I have just met is a wreck,” the Doctor says. “And I know that she will become you but it’s been hard to make the link.”
Lucy stares at him, remembering what he suffered at the hands of the Master, and what she let happen because she looked through him. She never hated the Doctor; she hardly thought of him at all. She wonders if that hurt the Doctor, or if that was a relief. She feels sick, knowing now what she allowed to happen, what she helped happen. She wonders if she broke the Doctor’s heart; she knows that she would fall apart if she met her Doctor and he did not know her and he allowed her to go through hell.
“I wanted to tell you, Lu, that I forgive you.” The Doctor seems to have read her mind, because he smiles that crooked smile that’s nothing like the assured smile of her Doctor. “I understand, and it’s ok.”
Lucy blinks, and finds that her eyes are wet.
“I don’t know if we meet again,” he tells her. “I hope we do. But I wanted you to know that I understand now, all the things you never told me, and I’ve never regretted inviting you aboard for a second. You’re forgiven and you’ve never been forgotten.”
She curls her fingers into her palms, her breathing ragged. They’re words she’s needed to hear because sometimes she talks to her Doctor and the guilt is almost crushing. He teases her about her mysteries but she’s wondered how he reacted when he found out the truth, the dark realities she endeavoured to keep from him. She wouldn’t have blamed him if he’d hated her, but he didn’t seem to. He just looked so sad every time he looked at her, and she supposes that now she knows why.
“Enjoy the ride, Lu,” the Doctor tells her, grinning like a child. She wonders what it would be like to travel with him; but he’s still in the future, too far in the future, and she’s got her own Doctor now, one who doesn’t know her transgressions and hasn’t suffered because of them. “I miss you. You always did look beautiful in red.”
The last words mean more to him than they do to her, and she realises that their positions are reversed again. Now the Doctor’s the one who knows what her future holds while Lucy remains entirely ignorant. She swallows hard, removing the data chip and sliding it into her pocket.
“Anything exciting?” the Doctor asks neutrally, when she returns damp-eyed to their table. “I ordered scones.”
“I think I may love you,” Lucy responds, and leaves it at that.
You always did look beautiful in red. The words haunt her; they’re not a compliment. There was an expression on the Doctor’s face that came through clearly even on the recording, and Lucy tries to work out what it means. She’s largely avoided red, because the Master liked her to dress in it. After they’d been on the Valiant a few months, he insisted his queen should dress in it, and she dropped her silken blue gowns for swathes of crimson. Recalling this, sitting in the control room with a teacup of Earl Grey and the gramophone playing some quiet jazz, Lucy remembers something else. The first time she swept past the Doctor – aged uncontrollably though his eyes remained young – in her red gown, there was something besides agony on his face. Something in his eyes that haunted her. Like he was remembering something. At the time she was half out of her mind and she dismissed it, but now she wonders.
“What about a party?” the Doctor asks, holding up a square of what seems to be embossed paper with an invitation for the Doctor plus one on it. “An old friend of mine has just split the atom on his native planet, would you like to go to the celebration?”
Lucy doesn’t hesitate: “I’d love to.”
She’s in her room, searching through the wardrobe, when she finds the dress. She knows that she didn’t put it there, but nonetheless there’s a beautiful scarlet silk gown hanging up neatly. Lucy takes it out carefully, and it’s so fine it feels like water under her fingertips. The skirt is long, and she can tell it will sweep the floor if she chooses to put it on. The question still remains; where did it come from?
“I won’t wear it,” she says aloud.
The lights flicker, and the Tardis seems to quiver a little. Lucy supposes that satisfies her curiosity.
“What are you up to?” she asks. She’s not expecting a reply and the Tardis doesn’t give her one.
Lucy can’t resist the temptation, especially when she finds the beautiful pair of heels in the bottom of the wardrobe that have clearly been designed to go with the dress. Maybe, she thinks, the Doctor was just remembering how much fun they had, and couldn’t equate the party in the past with Lucy’s mental state in the present. Maybe it’ll be all right.
“You look magnificent,” the Doctor tells her when she finally leaves her room, feeling a little self-conscious. He’s changed to a dark velvet jacket and she can already tell how good they’ll look together. Harry thought like that too… but she is not thinking of Harry, not any more. And damn, she should have worn something else, anything else.
“You don’t look half-bad yourself,” she responds.
The Doctor holds out an arm. “Shall we?”
Later on, Lucy reflects that she should have trusted her gut instincts. She should have known that nothing good could have created that expression in the future Doctor’s eyes. But they have such a nice night, the people are friendly and Lucy’s not so overdressed that she feels uncomfortable. It’s a perfect party, and she should have known that it could not last.
Not all the natives of this planet are happy about the atom being split, and as they’re leaving a group of protesters attack. Lucy is caught off-guard, a shot from a gun sending her reeling to the ground, pain exploding through her. The Doctor is on his knees beside her in seconds, cradling her, as she chokes up a mouthful of sticky blood.
“Lu,” he says desperately, “It’s going to be all right, Lu. Please.”
Lucy wants to reassure him, but darkness is eating up her vision and coldness is seeping through her limbs and the next thing she knows is nothing at all.
When her eyes next flutter open, Lucy knows she’s been dead. She wouldn’t be able to explain how she knows, but the fact that up until a moment ago she was dead is a certainty in her mind. She’s in the Tardis, laid out on a stone slab in yet another large, hall-like room. She wonders if this is a mortuary, and then reasons that it’s not outside the realm of possibility for the Doctor to have one.
She’s still dressed in the silk gown, which clings easily to her skin. Lucy is shivering; it’s cool in here, and her body is still heavy and cold from being… gone. But she can’t think about that right now, she has to go and find the Doctor. Find out how long she’s been dead for. Find out why she isn’t dead any more.
The stone floor is cold under her bare feet, but with an inner heat somewhere below. Like stone would be if it was alive; the Tardis isn’t inanimate, after all. The dress catches around her legs as she heads for the doors, moving silently and smoothly. Her hands are quivering uncontrollably.
Two false starts get her to the control room, where she hesitates in the doorway. The doors close soundlessly behind her, and she is about to go and find the Doctor when she sees him. He’s sitting in one of the comfortable armchairs he keeps in here, absolutely still. There’s nothing playing on the gramophone, and it’s the first time Lucy’s ever heard it silent in here. And the Doctor is so… still. Just sitting and staring at his feet and not doing anything at all. As though the weight of his grief is paralysing.
She walks over to him, still soundlessly. She doesn’t know what to say, how to phrase this without telling him too much. She doesn’t even know the answers to most of the questions. She freezes two feet from him, unsure how to broach the subject. She doesn’t want to shock him, after all.
But the Doctor must hear Lucy inhale, because he looks up, and his eyes grow wide. His lips move a little but nothing comes out; he’s clearly as thrown as she is.
“You were dead,” he manages eventually. It’s not original, but at least it’s a start.
“Yes,” Lucy says. Her voice catches in her throat but it does actually work.
“But you’re not now.”
“No.” Lucy struggles to find words. “I don’t know what happened. I’m not a Time Lord.”
“I know that.” The Doctor gets to his feet. “I’d have sensed it if you were.”
Lucy nods. She’s still shaking, though it’s warmer in here. “I think I regenerated,” she admits. “A little bit. It’s complicated. I think it comes from having-”
The Doctor pulls her to him and kisses her before she can say any more. Her mind whites out with shock and then she feels the energy in him; he’s helping her through the worst of the regenerative process that her body isn’t ready for. And he’s also shutting her up, which is just as well, because Lucy honestly doesn’t know what she’s saying, what she could let slip.
“All right now?” he asks, pulling back. “Not going to say anything incriminating?”
Lucy nods, trying to smile, and then, to her eternal shame, she bursts into tears. Her limbs still feel weak and cold, and the Doctor wraps his arms around her and lets her cry against his chest.
“I didn’t know I could do that,” she manages eventually. “I didn’t know.”
“I wouldn’t try it again,” the Doctor replies. He still looks slightly shaken, and Lucy can’t blame him; he probably isn’t used to companions who aren’t Time Lords coming back from the dead. She wonders briefly if her appearance has changed, but she knows it hasn’t; it wasn’t a full regeneration, just enough to shock her back to life again. The Master’s safety net, apparently. Maybe. She wishes that there were someone to ask.
“Tea,” the Doctor tells her, pushing her to sit down in the armchair. “You need tea, it’s got all the stuff you need when you’ve regenerated. And then we’re going somewhere nice with a beach.”
The idea of the Doctor trying to go on a beach amuses her; Lucy’s never seen him in anything other than frilled shirts and waistcoats. She finally smiles, broad and wide and relieved.
“Will I ever know how you did this?” the Doctor asks, glancing back over his shoulder at her. Lucy considers her answer.
“The next time you see me in red,” she tells him. “By the next time you see me in red, you’ll know why.”
“Cryptic,” the Doctor scolds her fondly.
The Time War ruins the happiest time of Lucy’s life. The Doctor becomes quieter and more anxious, and she begins to suspect that this is when the worst of the changes are going to occur. Things can’t stay as they have, with the two of them darting from planet to planet and having so much fun Lucy can’t believe that she was ever miserable enough to kill her husband. All of that seems like a bad dream, and one she doesn’t ever want to return to.
“I need to go to Gallifrey,” the Doctor broaches one morning over breakfast. Toast and coffee and the two of them in pyjamas in the kitchen; it seems ridiculously domestic, even if the kitchen does have flaming torches in brackets in the walls and cathedral-like windows.
“I can’t go with you,” Lucy says, and knows that in saying that she’s taken a step forward that she can’t back away from. “I can’t go to Gallifrey.”
“I know.” The Doctor looks sad, grave. Lucy knows she’s only the last in a long line of companions, and wonders who he’ll have after her. How they’ll measure up. “I was thinking, I’ll leave you somewhere, and then I’ll come back for you once I’ve sorted it out. I’ve done it before; I wouldn’t be gone longer than an hour.”
Lucy agrees to let him take her to one of her favourite spa planets; quiet and peaceful and somewhere she won’t mind living for a long period of time. She packs what she calls an overnight bag – “just in case” – but crams in everything she wants to keep and sneaks it off the Tardis before he notices.
“I’ll be back in an hour; for you anyway,” the Doctor tells her earnestly. “I promise, Lu.”
Lucy wraps her arms around him and buries her face in his shoulder, memorising how he feels, the velvet of his coat against her cheek. She lets go, and smiles brightly.
“See you in an hour.”
She very deliberately doesn’t start crying until the Tardis has faded from sight. Then she sits down beside her heavy bag and begins sobbing desperately. There is the possibility that he’ll come back, of course, that it isn’t time for her to leave yet. The Tardis is wonderfully unreliable and could end up returning in a day instead. But… but Lucy knows that if he’s not back in an hour then he isn’t coming back at all. That Gallifrey and the Time Lords and the Daleks have been destroyed, and her Doctor has died and been reborn. Her instincts tell her that much, and since her instincts aren’t really hers at all, she’ll trust in them.
Lucy sits there, staring at the space where the Tardis was, counting the minutes. Thirty… forty… forty-five. She gets a grip on her hysteria, smearing the tears from her cheeks. There’s no sense in devastation. After all, on some level, she knew this was going to happen.
Fifty-five… sixty. An hour passes, and he has not come back. Lucy sighs, getting up, and lifts her bag to go and book herself into a spa. There’s nothing else to do.
The Tardis’ screaming engines wake her up five days later. Lucy has her belongings in hand in seconds and is running desperately, though she knows that what she’ll find isn’t what she wants.
She comes to a halt, panting, as the door opens. And even though she was expecting it, her heart shatters in her chest when the Doctor walks out. He’s tall and lanky and wearing navy blue pinstripes and cream converse all stars.
“No,” she whispers, “Not you, please not you.”
“I’m sorry, Lu,” he replies, and his voice is wrong and everything about him is wrong and Lucy hates it. “I’ve missed you, though. I’ve missed you so much.”
Lucy lets him hug her, and he’s too skinny, and she hates his suit. She knows she’ll be calm in a minute and stop hating him but the sense of loss is too rich and too extreme and she feels sick with it.
“I’m sorry,” she murmurs, over and over again against his chest. The last time he knew her was when she still belonged to the Master. She wasn’t herself then.
They cling to each other for a while; their story isn’t perfect, by any means. It’s messy and ugly and strung across too many timelines. And a large chunk of it never happened. And yet.
Sometime later, they’re sitting in the Tardis sharing tea and biscuits.
“Married to the Master,” the Doctor says, rolling the revelation over in his mouth. “Didn’t see that one coming at all.”
Lucy shakes her head, slightly embarrassed, grinning a little. “You don’t have to forgive me if you don’t want to,” she murmurs. “I did some terrible things.”
“He was controlling you,” the Doctor replies. “All your knowledge makes sense now; you had the Master in your head for that long, of course bits of you stayed part Time Lord afterwards.”
Lucy sips her tea, unable to find adequate words for a moment. “You knew I was going to die,” she says. “When you left that message. You knew and I didn’t.”
“Thought I might turn the tables on you,” the Doctor replies, smiling a little, though there’s the memory of grief in his expression.
“You could have warned me,” Lucy mutters.
The Doctor says nothing, and then looks at her. “He left a lot of himself in you,” he says, voice laden with curiosity. “Almost too much. I always thought that, Lu, and now I know how all that knowledge got there and it still seems too much.”
Lucy folds her fingers in her lap and looks at them and says nothing.
“He meant to take you over, didn’t he?” The Doctor’s voice is calm and steady, not accusing, and that nearly hurts. The Tardis is too warmly-lit, too natural. Lucy misses the sharp lines and the stone, though she never thought she would. “He gave you his consciousness, that’s why you killed him.” The Doctor is thinking aloud, getting to his feet, pacing. “Lucy, tell me.”
“He wanted to take me over,” Lucy admits. “I didn’t let him. I travelled with you instead, only used what he left behind for me.”
“What did you do with his consciousness?” the Doctor asks urgently.
“It’s safe,” Lucy replies. “I’m not telling you where it is yet.” Before the Doctor can demand more, she says: “You don’t have a companion at the moment. You’re alone. I can’t tell you where the Master is because I won’t let you resurrect him.”
The Doctor looks tight and angry for a minute and then nods, accepting defeat. A heavy silence falls, an awkwardness that was never there before. He’s not her Doctor any more, not the Time Lord she travelled with for years.
“What am I missing?” she asks. “Are we up to date now? You come back for me here and now, and that’s it?”
The Doctor smiles palely. “One last thing,” he tells her. “I come back for you. The Time War… it was too much. I couldn’t return. And then I died, began life in my ninth body. I came back here, a week late; you’d gone. And that’s it; now you know as much about our relationship as I do. We’re both up to date.”
Lucy thinks about this. “So if I stay here, then I can go travelling with your ninth self?”
“You can’t.” The Doctor sighs. “I’ve got to meet Rose.”
Rose Tyler; the lynchpin to the universe. Lucy nods, bowing her head.
“I’ve come to take you somewhere nice,” the Doctor says. “The end of the line. Pick where you’d like to live, and the Tardis will take you there.”
Lucy looks at him. “And this is it, then? You take me home, end my mysteries, and never see me again?”
The Doctor considers her for a while. His eyes are too dark, his smile is too crooked, he’s handsome but he hasn’t leapt off the page of a nineteenth century novel and yet Lucy can’t lose him.
“Ok,” the Doctor smiles, as though reaching a decision. He gets to his feet, starts rummaging around on the console. He flicks a few switches, spins a couple of dials. “I’ll leave you one last mystery, Lu. We won’t end it here.”
“I don’t understand,” Lucy says.
“I’ll wait here,” the Doctor tells her. “And the Tardis will take you on one trip. When you leave, she’ll come back to me, and I won’t know where you are.”
Lucy smiles. “And you’ll have to find me so I can tell you where I put the Master.”
The Doctor smiles back, and they embrace again. He leaves, the doors closing behind him.
“Just you and me,” Lucy tells the Tardis softly. “Just us.”
Lights across the console flicker. The Tardis has missed her, after all. And Lucy smiles, bringing her hands to the controls, picking her destination.
It isn’t enough, but at least it isn’t the end of the line.