She shouldn’t exist in this time line, she knows that. At the very least not yet. And the way the Master’s hacking away at the time line, her earth will never come to be, at least not in any way that she’d recognise. But that’s paradoxes for you.
Eyes as dark as her own stare back at her, so lost and lonely. So young to have the weight and indeed the fate of the world upon her shoulders. She remembers times when she’d felt that weight on her own shoulders, but she’d never had to bear it alone. Oh she’d rescued the Doctor and Jamie all by herself, but saving whole worlds? She’d always had at least one of them there to back her up, always together whether scared silly or saving the day. She misses them both terribly.
With the steady roll of the ocean waves beneath them easing them into sleep, she reaches across the gap between them on the bunk they share for warmth, huddling from the cold night air, fleeing the burning islands of Japan. The rhythmic passage of her thumb over her companion’s temple eases one of them to sleep and the other’s guilt at surviving her adopted homeland’s destruction.
People said about the day that the islands of Japan burned that it was a day like any other, notable only for its very normality. But Professor Zoë Herriot would tell them differently. Long used to the strange dreams of trips never taken and adventures never been, the previous nights dreams had been particularly vivid.
Endlessly running down metallic corridors, clinging to Jamie’s hand the Doctor just ahead of them yelling at them to run just that bit faster - nothing unusual. But when they reached the ship, inside it was different, red, hurting. The Doctor spoke of paradoxes and holes ripped in time. His voice was somehow different, but how she couldn’t fathom, until he turned around. He wore a face she didn’t recognise, but she knew him still. His eyes were older and full of unspeakable sadness.
“Run, Zoë,” he said. “I know you can hear me, run. As far and as fast as you can. It’s all the help I can give you.”
Jamie’s hand felt so solid in hers as she clung to it, his voice insistent in her ear.
“Listen to the Doctor, Zoë. Get out. It’s one of his people, he kens what he’s talking about. He’s after somethin worse than our memories this time.”
Normally the dreams faded quickly on waking, but not this one. The words of those two men she had met only once yet dreamed of a lifetime of memories by their side, clung to her conscious mind like some persistent ghost.
The news reports speak of breakdowns in talks with the British Prime Minister. Her colleagues are concerned but not fearful. His little flying robots of death were only seen on the furthest most islands of Japan during their cull. Rumour had it that their scientists are too valuable to his empire-building quest for him to risk a full out attack. The rumours are proved wrong that afternoon. As she heads for the underground on her way home, the pale autumn sunlight is blocked out by a silver cloud of violent death. All she remembers afterwards is the odd quality of the light; the screams of people the creatures catch and the strange calm of the underground staff. Somewhere at the back of her mind she realises that they’ve been expecting this, watching the calm infect the crowds flowing desperately into the relative safety of the station and tunnels below, trains only running to get people off the platforms and make room for more. The clang of the gates closing somewhere behind her, sound of the Toclafane’s blades failing to cut through the wrought iron, the screams as they shoot through the bars at anyone they can reach. When everything’s still again, she wanders through the station down the platform searching for anyone she recognises. Families and co-workers are bunched together, creating little areas to call their own for the duration of the attack. Twenty years since she woke up in a time that was hers but not, until an hour ago she would have had to concentrate to speak anything other than Japanese yet right now the words seem to blur and mix in her mind, refusing to coalesce into anything comprehensible. She finds herself gravitating towards a young man and woman together on the floor slightly apart from everyone else. Everyone else’s eyes seem to slide over them, but their quiet conversation is being held in English and she needs the comfort of her first language. Her own English feels awkward and clumsy in her mouth as she apologetically explains her situation. The young man eyes her suspiciously, but the young woman gestures for her to sit down and admits to not speaking more than a handful of words in Japanese, which causes another odd look from her companion that Zoë is too out of it to really analyse.
She realises that she’s practically cuddling the plant she’d bought not half an hour ago. Before the world changed, when her main concern was what to have for dinner tonight and finding a less aggressive plant to replace the cactus on her kitchen window sill. She finds herself babbling to the woman about the healing properties of aloe vera, oddly numb to the way the girl slides the sleeve of her torn blouse up, breaking off a stem to rub over the burn where one of the Toclafane lasers grazed her. She’s unsure which is more soothing, the plant or the younger woman’s voice as she calmly talks about the layers of skin damaged, the difference between types of burns. Epidermis, dermis, subcutaneous. Science still so comforting in the face of these technological horrors.
She walks with them as they join the slow pilgrimage through the tunnels, in search of more permanent safety. As her own shock fades she notices that other people are becoming more aware of her companions. Especially the girl - Martha apparently, a trainee doctor before everything went wrong - they watch her and whisper amongst themselves, casting glances at once fearful and admiring. The girl walks on apparently unbothered by the attention, the only sign of awareness being the way the fingers of her left hand tighten on the strap of her rucksack. They reach a wider area, clearly normally a depot for the trains and people slow to a stop. As the young man - he will not give his name, which unnerves her - searches for a good spot for them to call their own, a young child darts forward from the crowd which has formed around them. He taps the girl’s arm shyly before darting back a few paces.
“Are you really her? The girl from London, walking the Earth in search of a way to stop him? Can you do it? Can you make him stop?”
His words are echoed from the crowd around them. There is fear in those voices, but also, she realises hope. They want to believe in this slip of a young girl. She smiles down at the boy and simply replies,
She climbs up into the doorway of an abandoned train and sits there. Silence ripples out around her until everyone, young and old, is listening to her. The young woman tells a story, one she has clearly told many times before. Of a man from the stars, saving the world quietly, running always running, and how each and every last one of them can help him to free themselves. Lost in her own thoughts she almost misses the oddness of what she’s hearing: focusing and unfocusing her mind she figures it out, the girl is speaking in both Japanese and English at once. She wonders if the girl knows.
Her thoughts are interrupted by the return of the taciturn young man. He speaks abruptly.
“Stories and rumours and hope. I don’t know what help it will be. It’s all part of her plan and she believes it. Believes it so hard that people look at her and believe it too.”
She has a brief flash of a world outside the universe, held together purely and simply by stories and the warning of a long forgotten voice in her dreams. She does not doubt for a moment that the plan will work.
“You’d be surprised at the power of words to shape the world.”
People around them are settling down to sleep, worried but buoyed by hope, unaware that above them, the world is burning. When all is still again, the two quietly depart to the next gathering of refugees. Equally quiet Zoë follows them. She has her own questions for the girl. She keeps a low profile for the next few days and nights, sleeping little and listening carefully to Martha’s repeated story. She lets her own memories, so long locked away, carefully unwind themselves till finally, during a brief snatch of sleep a door opens in her dreams and on waking the dreams do not fade but instead take their place as the memories they really are. She knows now that she cannot stand aside, she’s going to help the Doctor with more than words. The girl is alone with her burden despite her companion, because he hasn’t travelled the stars. But Zoë has, she knows those joys and fears.
It’s not until they leave the tunnels that they realise she’s following them. Where there should be verdant forests stretching up from the edge of the city into the mountains there are only fields of ash. Where once stood a city there is only rubble coated in that same ash. A fire so great it could be viewed from space. They find her standing among the ashes of what had once been her favourite shrine. Everything that she had rebuilt her life around is turned to dust. She talks quietly of the ship that haunts her dreams, the way she can feel it hurting in her dreams. She can tell from the hurt in Martha’s eyes that she’s seen it for real, she once called it home too. Together they walk through the dust to the harbour in fading light. Slowly, starting the process of untangling the mass of images, sounds and smells that make up her newly reclaimed memories.
Near the coast small fires still burn, and the sea boils like lava. They cross the sea for several miles in a relay of boats, watching their previous transport crumble to nothing in the poisoned sea. Eventually they reach the edge of the mire and they and the other boats crews take refuge on a larger boat anchored just far enough offshore to be safe. Creeping away in the night, she feels a curious lack of relief.
They take refuge on a tiny Indonesian island. A few days respite before they carry on to East Timor to meet a boat to continue on to Australia. Long nights talking on their journey across the Pacific basin bind them together in a friendship closer than either of them expected to find in this world full of fear and acquiescence. All argued and talked out, the sounds of the island fill the gaps in conversation till companionable silence becomes almost the norm. The quiet gives Zoë time to study her young companion closely, to learn about her from her actions rather than her words. The younger girl is rarely still, always busy, exploring and keeping watch, unable to fully relax even in sleep. In her own turn, Zoë finds herself becoming increasingly calm and still, understanding that this is what Martha needs from her. She has the Doctor as her anchor, as her compass, to guide her path through this insane world. As long as he is alive her faith that the world can go back to how it once was is unshakeable. Zoë remembers that feeling all too well and is surprised by how much of a reassurance that has been throughout her life, even beyond her stolen memories, just knowing that he was out there, had been a shield from the weirdness of the world. But now it’s not an abstract, blind faith, she has her proof in Martha, living, breathing, fighting and brave. And Martha needs something real too. Something to remind her that her ‘quest’ is not some desperate delusion.
The island had once been some millionaire businessman’s playground, and his palatial home becomes their refuge. They share a decadent master bedroom; comfort of another’s breathing close at hand something they crave in their glorious isolation. Behind the mosquito nets the heat makes all but the most minimal of clothing excessive. Zoë wakes in the night and watches her companion sleep, hair drying into loose curls around her head, muscles taut with a tension that no amount of long baths or punishing showers seems able to shift. The weight of the world is still upon her shoulders even in sleep.
The moonlight creeping through the window gives her dark skin an unearthly shine, which compels Zoë to reach out and touch her. She watches with fascination the contrast with her own skin, the moonlight extenuating her natural pallor from a life lit almost entirely in fluorescent and neon lights. Her fingers ghost over the skin of the nearest leg. She feels oddly like some voyeuristic spectre sneaking glances at something beautiful and not hers to touch. Yet as her fingers trail over the soft skin of an inner thigh, a contented sigh issues softly from lips not her own. Fingers move higher, over smooth skin interrupted by the cotton of her underwear. A sudden sense memory assaults her, stilling her movements.
The ship feels like it’s shaking itself apart. They’re thrown to the console room floor. Sliding around with the ship’s disjointed movements, she reaches out for Jamie’s hand as they slide past each other. She misses but manages to grasp a handful of his kilt. The thick, rough texture of the plaid in her hand feels so strange. Even when the ship has stilled she continues to hold onto it tightly, staring at the fabric with uncomprehending fascination. She can hear the Doctor commenting on her not being used to natural fibres, living in an environment where everything is synthetic, but she doesn’t take it in. Jamie’s voice when he speaks seems both far away and far too close. His own hands guide hers over the fabric, tracing the pattern in the fabric as he explains the process of dying the threads and how they are weaved into such a warm and durable material. Clearer now, anchoring her to this place, explaining the significance of the colours and the clans each combination represents, the rules of a society so very different from her own. So much closer to the earth that she’d never touched before she met them. There is so much in this new life that she doesn’t understand, but that’s all right she realises. Because there are things that the others don’t know either, and things that they do. They understood that she was scared and have shown her she doesn’t need to be. She has them to keep her safe, and to keep safe in turn.
The memory leaves her breathless, tears leaking from her eyes. She both treasures and resents the memories that appear so unexpectedly. Hates that she can’t access them when she needs them. Glancing at her companion she feels a new resolve. Time to make happy memories she can access. The cotton beneath her fingertips gains an extra sensuality, reminding her of why she loves the feel of natural fibres. The movement of her fingers as she enjoys the texture of the fabric is causing reactions in Martha too. Her hips move, unconsciously trying to guide the invading fingers to other places. She teases happily, trails her fingers along the edges of the other girl’s underwear, caressing the place where skin meets cloth all along her thigh. Briefly she gives in to her companion’s unspoken wishes, caressing cotton that covers skin grown especially sensitive, an upward glance towards the other piece of cotton shows evidence beyond the sleepy sighs of her enjoyment. Clearly that piece of cotton needs exploring too. Ignoring the protesting mew as she moves her fingers, she trails them over sensitive belly skin. She takes a special delight in the twitches and muscle spasms the passage of her fingers across that flat expanse causes. As her fingers explore this new expanse of cotton she feels the flesh beneath it tighten further, and hears a change in breathing, subtle but one she recognises as awakening from sleep. Smiling to herself she tests her theory, placing her mouth to cloth covered nipple, licking gently and feeling the breast try to follow her as she removes her mouth. Emboldened now, she flicks the catch of the bra, suddenly struck by what an excellent invention front fastening bras were. Repeating her previous action on bare skin causes unsuppressed arching and pleasured moans. Removing her mouth to blow cold air across the damp area, her eyes meet her companion’s now open ones.
“Like that do you?”
Suddenly there’s a hand cupping the back of her neck and she finds herself firmly pulled up to the same level as Martha. There is a long moment of stillness, as the younger girl seems to be searching for something in her eyes. Whatever it is, she evidently finds it and Zoë finds herself being thoroughly kissed. She returns the kiss with interest, enjoying the feel of a leg slowly sliding up her own to wrap round her own and pull her closer. Soon her own hand is dragged down between them, under the cotton that so fascinated her before, through soft curls until they reach softer folds of skin. Martha’s hand clumsily guides Zoë’s till she moves her fingers in a certain way that causes the other girl’s head to fall back and her grip on her wrist to relax. She takes the opportunity to explore the hollow of Martha’s neck with her tongue, eliciting more moans that send pleasant shudders through her own body to the apex of her own thighs. She moves so that Martha’s other leg is between her own, rocking slightly against it in vain hope of easing her own desire. She fills her other hand with one of Martha’s bare breasts to avoid the desire to touch her own still covered breasts. Hands not her own slide over her back caressing it, heightening her awareness further. Eventually they unclip her bra and a moment after it has been pushed out the way the wandering hands are covering Zoë’s breasts, massaging them gently, before manoeuvring so that one of her breasts rubs against Martha’s other breast. The sensation of puckered flesh against puckered flesh is almost too much for her and she finds herself grinding unashamedly against the leg, only for a hand to depart from one of her breasts and slide into her own underwear. Awkward at first, but increasingly confident fingers slide over and into her. Soon there is nothing but movement and sensation as fingers, skin, hips, breasts, tongues and breath seem to all meld into one and then, then they’re spinning through the stars they’ve both seen closer than nearly anyone else on this planet. All that remains is soft whispers, gentle kisses and caresses to lull them to sleep, still entwined even in sleep.
The rest of their time there will be spent exploring the island in search of pools to fall in and shady clearings to drag each other out of wet clothing, evenings filled with shared showers, baths, bubbles and laughter. Stolen moments to keep the fears at bay and sustain them on the long journey across the sea ahead.
The journey across the sea to Australia is spent plotting together. Creating a cover story to disguise their true intent. The gun in four parts seems the most practical. Small, easily carried and equally easily destroyed. The sort of thing that will travel well in rumour. They worry that it seems a bit too apocalyptic sci fi cliché, but eventually decide that given the situation this will make people believe in it all the more. Zoë holes herself up on the long truck journey across Australia to the resistance headquarters in Melbourne in trying various designs for the gun while Martha tells the people they meet her story, and rumours of her quest spread out ahead of them.
The resistance have collected their own set of experts, and their time in Melbourne is packed full of meetings and planning sessions. They see little of each other in those weeks, spend even less time alone. Martha’s time is spent strategising and negotiating passage across both sea and land, Zoë’s in helping hack the Archangel network, so she can hide the now finalised blueprints in the UNIT system, to make sure they’re found without seeming like an obvious plant. Despite the success of their plans and the mass of people equally determined to bring the Master’s reign of terror to an end, they are both more alone than they ever were walking down empty roads together. Their rare moments alone are spent in stretching silences with pointless arguments the only sign left of the passion they once shared. Neither of them sure when they grew so far apart, or how to close the distance they both long to cross.
Their last night in Australia is spent unexpectedly in a somewhat dilapidated hotel, rather than the expected slave holding houses. The faded decadence of the once luxurious hotel reminds Zoë of their sojourn on the island. Since then there has been little time for moments like that. On the road at least they still spent the lonely hours of walking or hitching deep in discussion about odd branches of science or philosophy, still spent their sleeping hours cuddled together sharing warmth but for all their close companionship, there is little opportunity for the intimacy they shared on the island. She’d hoped that their time settled here would afford an opportunity to rekindle that, instead it has only faded further. Mostly Zoë can content herself with quiet hours on the road, lying by campfires, playing with Martha’s hair and letting her pour out her fears and dreams, treasuring the trust and the fragments of stories about a life that bound their fates together before they’d even met. Someone once told her that there was no such thing as fate, just opportunities and choices. Recently though, her dreams have started to make her wonder. Both their lives seem to be controlled by the will of a race far more powerful than their own, for whom life, death, belief and memory are all just tools to be manipulated. Tonight it is she whose fears are looming loud and troublesome. She is the one in need of comfort. Was it all that had been between them a fevered tropical dream?
Standing in front of the mirror amidst the faded grandeur of their room, she examines herself. Clad only in her underwear, she casts an unforgiving eye over her body. Gone are the days when sparkling cat suits were her favoured mode of her attire, but while the last few months have taken their toll on her the previous two decades have been kind, a Japanese diet having no doubt helped maintain her figure. She decides in a fairly dispassionate manner that she is still quite beautiful, certainly still desirable. But is she desired, she wonders.
Her thoughts are disrupted in exactly the way she had hoped they would be. Skin on skin in the moonlight, soft whispers and guttural moans. Somehow in the silence and faded decadence they find their way back across the void that has grown between them, till they can no longer see where it once was. Through desperation and desire they reclaim comfort and companionship. Fears are shared and nightmares soothed, anchoring each other among the chaos of their life. The morning takes them across the sea once more but for now there is only each other.
The voyage is long but time seems to fly by. Long nights spent pouring over maps, plotting their journey across Africa, debating with their resistance colleagues countries best avoided and how exactly to get them up on the Valiant. They must keep from being found too early yet ensure they’re in position when the time comes. Messages flit slowly across the resistance’s network of contacts in search of suitable ways in that will maintain the believability of their story. They detour across the Transvaal in search of a lab where the resistance there are holding one of the Toclafane brought down in a chance lightning strike.
The lab is decidedly makeshift, the equipment a hodgepotch of what could be salvaged by members of the resistance from bigger more complex labs, labs destroyed so gleefully by the Toclafane. Thankfully the chemicals she’s been working on don’t require complex equipment, a child’s chemistry set would do nicely. All they require is to be bright, unnaturally pretty colours, and to fizz nicely but non-corrosively when spilled. Stoppered neatly in their test tubes, packed into the case with the ‘gun’, they glow eerily in the low light of the lab. A perfect match for the schematics and reports she hacked seamlessly into the UNIT files back in Melbourne. She spares a thought for a young Colonel she remembers bravely fighting Cybermen, and the photo she’d found attached to an internal memo warning everyone to go to ground. “No one is safe. He knows us.” When even one of his little ‘friends’ could destroy any human they chose with minimal effort, the Master had sent five of them after an old, long retired Brigadier. He’d used UNIT to make his power play, only fitting that she use them for Martha’s ultimate bluff.
But now with the ‘gun’ completed, there is little for her to do, except think of her next project. A lightning strike the previous week had brought down one of the evil little robots, and the resistance had brought it to her. It sits there in its clamp on her workbench taunting her. Martha is out, telling her story to the latest slave camp, spreading hope out ahead of her, the TARDIS’ universal translator ensuring her words reach the ears of her audience in the language they know and love best. Their current resistance contact is out acting as Martha’s guide and she’d promised not to work on the creature on her own. But her curiosity is eating at her. There’s a long night ahead of her until they return and her fears will only prey on her if she has nothing to focus on alone in her lab.
The magnetic closure is easily broken into now that the creature is immobilised and inside the technology is both incredibly advanced and horrifically barbaric. She’s reminded of the Doctor and Jamie’s description of the creatures that lived inside the Dalek’s travel machines. And the Doctor’s horror that they’d once been humanoid. The creature twitches and blinks, it lives. It speaks in circles and riddles, like a small clever child enjoying its ability to confuse the adults that surround it. Having grown up around such children she knows exactly how to translate and foil its games. Between its babbling and the stories that Martha has told her about her trip to the end of the universe she understands what the Toclafane once were. The last of the humans, given the name of fairytale monsters, because that’s what they’ve become. She grieves what her race will someday become, and all the creature can do is mock her, uncomprehending of its own monstrosity. Still with enough energy now to call one of its fellows down upon her. Her time is limited, she knows. (She could run, but to where?) She burns all the relevant information to disk, enough to provide a bait for the scientist their latest resistance boy had brought news that Martha is to use when she gets back to Britain. Hides it where the creatures won’t think to look. The creature arrives before she has time to leave any notes. Time to show these creatures how to play properly.
Stillness. The night here is so very quiet. Desert nights are always so cold and unforgiving. Yet she doesn’t move, doesn’t drag herself towards her computer. She’s carefully fallen within easy reach of the first aid box and binds the worst of her wounds. The disc she’s hidden in the first aid box will give Martha everything she needs to pull off the bluff. The creature is gone, having destroyed its wounded fellow, no evidence. Martha need never know what they really are. She stares at up through the hole the creature made in the roof. The stars look so bright in the clear sky, almost as clear as she remembers from watching them as a child with only glass not atmosphere between her and them. Long before she’d been to see them.
She can feel him in the network, tuning in and out, aligning his mind with the network ever so slowly so no one notices. Such a powerful telepathic system, only boosted by his poor butchered ship. The occasional fragments she’s picked up in dreams were enough to steer her from the worst of her nightmares, to let him know she’s taking care of his friend. She reaches out to him now, seeking a long forgotten reassurance. The recent Toclafane activity here has made the signal stronger, seeking to squash all resistance but serving to let their minds touch for a moment. She feels him in her mind, soothing, searching. His sudden panic as he realises the extent of the damage to her body. But she bats away his concerns: she’s at peace with her fate. After all if they succeed then this will all have never happened, will just be another darkly beautiful dream to haunt her sleep. Her mind drifts at what could have been had she waited for Martha’s return, happy fantasies amuse her as they cause the Doctor to blush as he flits through her mind boosting endorphin releases and easing pain receptors. But in heart she knows that had she waited Martha would be lying on the ground bleeding too. And that doesn’t bear thinking about. She’d forgotten how it felt to love someone enough to die for them.
“Take care of her.”
“I will, I promise.”
“She loves you.”
“So did you, once.”
“Yes, but not like that. I loved you the way I loved Jamie, and the way you loved us. The way you love us all, even though we always break your heart. Hearts.”
“Not the way I love her.”
“No, that kind of love is…not for me.”
“Comfort and companionship, need and desire. Co-dependence and mutual support. It’s not so different our human love, it just burns sharper and brighter because we have so much less time. But I wouldn’t…I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’d gladly make all my mistakes all over again and find myself lying here in the dirt, so long as I’d known a love like this one.”
“Good. She deserves to be loved like that. The way humans do.”
“Doctor, I’m cold.”
“Hold on Zoë, she’s coming, just a little longer.”
She feels the absence keenly when he suddenly leaves but Martha is there, sweet practical Martha. She keeps her own voice steady and logical, explaining everything, making sure that it is Martha ‘Almost Doctor’ Jones that is listening and making the decisions, not Martha the person with feelings and emotions and guilt. She understands, she knows there’s nothing she can do except make sure it was all worthwhile. A thumb brushes her temple and there’s a warm body beside her increasingly cold one. A last shared kiss. A last shared smile. A last look into sad brown eyes and her own are terribly heavy.
Sitting in her office in Tokyo, watching the constant bustle of traffic and people in the street far below, Professor Zoë Herriot has an odd feeling in the pit of her stomach. There’s a knowing feeling, one that she associates with time being meddled with, one of the odd little quirks of being a former time traveller, an awareness of change, just not knowing what’s changed. She’s used to it by now, twenty years on earth and she’s learnt where to go and what questions to ask to find out enough that she can usually spot the differences: the internet makes her quest both easier and far harder. But something’s different today. Among the reports and conspiracy stories she finds an image of the little shiny robots they called ‘Toclafane’ and she gets a sick feeling in her stomach. There’s a feeling like an itch at the back of her mind, she knows something terrible about those creatures, something horrific. Something she’s grateful to have forgotten.
“Professor Herriot? There’s someone in reception for you. She won’t give a name just says that she needs to see you in person.”
The young woman floating awkwardly in the reception gives her the same itch in her head. She’s known this girl, but time has erased those memories. She feels a momentary twinge of sadness, clearly she was once fond her. She’s holding an odd-looking pot plant in her arms. An Aloe Vera she realises, the itch worsening. The girl looks up at her and smiles, but it is her eyes that hold Zoë’s attention, the sadness that lurks behind her smile is terribly familiar.
“Just to say…I’m sorry. I’m so very, very sorry.”
The girl turns away then.
She reaches out to stop her walking away; catching the girl’s arm with her own unladen one. Skin meets skin and it’s the stomach business times a thousand.
Images pour past her eyes. Satellite transmissions, blade wielding homicidal robots, panic, collapsing buildings, blood, screams, tunnels, hiding in the underground tunnels, meetings, painful goodbyes, her adopted homeland burning, boats, water boiling like lava. Walking, walking, walking. Laughter. Unexpected friendships. The feel of skin on skin. Shared stories and memories. Deserts. Lightning strikes. A sphere held in a clamp. Horrific understandings. Found. Lab destroyed. Blood everywhere. Truth hidden, kept safe. A disk. So much pain. Shared tears and one final shared smile. And through it all that same face. Those eyes, laughing despite the responsibility they carry, pushing away the sadness for a moment’s joy. She has loved those eyes.
Memories that never were, flit past her eyes and drift away back to the vortex where they belong. But standing there in the empty reception hall one thing remains.
“Martha? Martha Jones?”
The girl is stunned, yet delighted. “You remember me? How’s that possible?”
She reaches out and cups the younger woman’s cheek and the way she leans into it confirms everything she doesn’t remember about a year that never was.
“Just for a moment, it was there clear as day. But I’ve known, all this last year that there was something I’d missed, something I’d forgotten. And now I know. I’ve missed you Martha Jones.”