Infinitely Late at Night

by Siani [Reviews - 8]

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  • All Ages
  • None
  • Character Study, Crossover, Fluff, General, Humor, Introspection

Author's Notes:
I am not a big fan of the Doctor's post-JE "I don't need anyone anymore" phase, so this is a story about one way he might just have gotten his smile back. It is a crossover, but it won't matter if you aren't familiar with the universe, though if you are I'm probably not going to fool you for very long.

It was infinitely late at night

It was a long- a long and damp- a long, damp, and dismal night.

Not that night meant much, not in the TARDIS. The TARDIS could have approximated any time of day anywhere. There was no such thing as night in the TARDIS, not really. But it was dark and wet on the streets of London outside and the Doctor, when he entered, was just as wet and his mood was perhaps even darker.

Inside, the TARDIS was quiet, dim. It was night inside, and it was going to be night until the Doctor was in a better-lit mood.

For a moment the Doctor stood, staring at nothing and trying to think of nothing, too. He shrugged off the weight of his waterlogged coat and just stood. He felt no motivation to go and gawk at a wonder of the universe, no urge to seek out and defeat a perpetrator of injustice, not even the call to go somewhere empty and sit staring at an alien landscape in solitary contemplation.

Instead, he wandered until he found himself in the library.

He slumped himself into a Louis XV armchair, which he had acquired many lifetimes before he had met and kissed the patroness of its creator. His dripping clothes ran rivulets down its legs. He soaked though and destroyed the priceless upholstery over the course of an hour, in which he unfocused his eyes at any number of books but read none of them.

When the pile of damp unread books began to tilt dangerously he abandoned them.

He walked the corridors at random, peering into one room after another, each failing to provide anything that could entice him from his stupor. Wandering through the wardrobe he thought that he really ought to change out of his now only slightly damp but still rather uncomfortable suit, but he couldn't be bothered to do so.

He wandered past one of the pools, into a sauna which dried him out a bit, and then through a steam room which promptly redampened his suit and hair, though he didn't really notice.

He soon found himself in another corridor, immediately opposite a plain wood door. There was a sign on it, uncoincidentally placed precisely at his own eye-level. It read, in neat block print, "Please knock!!!" and just below that was scribbled in pencil, "on penalty of death! This means you, you alien git!"

Time Lord memories are vivid. None of this fuzzy, half-remembered, soft-lit human stuff.

The Doctor's eyes unfocused and he saw the scene again, just as it had been. He had stood in this doorway, he could see Donna now, clutching a flowery blue and yellow bath towel and shouting so loudly her face was rapidly coming to match her hair.

"Come now, Donna," he'd said, with an affectionate grin, "It's not like you humans have any bits I haven't seen before."

Donna gaped and made a noise that sounded like "Huuuh!" but which the Doctor suspected wasn't a request for him to clarify what he'd just said.

"Listen, spaceman," she growled, "you may have seen a lot of others, but you haven't seen mine, and you're not going to! If you come charging in here without knocking again, I swear I'll bash your head in, you slimy intergalactic pervert!" At this she whipped around and, laying hands on the first blunt object she saw, brandished it at him.

"Oh, don't use that!" said the Doctor. "Ty Cobb gave me that bat..."

"Do I know who that is? Do I look like I care who that is?" Donna yelled, trying to clutch the towel while still maintaining a threateningly firm grip on the bat. The Doctor, however, was going on just as though she hadn't spoken.

"I say gave, it was really more like he threw it. At my head. While he was chasing me out of the clubhouse." He rubbed his chin. "Bit of a nasty temper really..."

"DOC-TOR!" shouted Donna, in a voice that rattled the walls.

"Yes, Donna?" he said with an innocent look, as if he had just remembered she was there.

"GET OUT!"

And so he had made what he felt was, really, a relatively graceful exit, considering he had had to duck a rare, valuable, and very heavy bat on his way out the door.

He had picked it up, intending to relocate it some place safer both for it and him, and as he retreated down the hall he had just caught a glimpse of the still towel-clad Donna, scribbling a furious addendum to the sign on her door with a pencil, before slamming the door with a huff that was audible even from down the hall and around the corner.

The Doctor looked at the sign with a fond smile, which faded away like time-lapse photography of a tree in autumn. When nothing remained of the smile but the bare branches he pulled the sign gently from the door, folded it, and placed in in one of the inner pockets of his jacket.

There was a panel set into the wall that the Doctor flipped open, revealing the circuitry beneath. He flipped two small switches, and twisted a knob to reset the room. And when that didn't work he cut two wires and whacked the wall just below the panel so that it did, with a hum. The Doctor stared at the door for a moment, then turned and kept walking.

He eventually made his way to the kitchen where he nibbled at a biscuit and sipped absentmindedly at a mug of cold tea. When his eyes finally focused properly it was on something centimeters from the end of his nose- a smudge of pink lipstick on the opposite rim of the mug.

He pulled back and blinked, taking in the chairs pulled up to the battered old table, the half-eaten biscuits left on a plate, and the collection of mugs. He could recognize who had drunk from several of them by the shades of lipstick remaining. The smudge on the one in his hand was a dusky pink, a shade of rose.

For a moment the various meanings of the word shade flicked through the Doctor's mind. A shade of Rose.

Suddenly he could see her, see all of them, sitting at the table, laughing and joking.

The room had been as full as it had been in hundreds of years- Rose and Donna and Martha making jokes, most of them at his expense, Sarah Jane alternating between joining in, and commiserating with Jackie about the difficulty of raising children when they insisted on participating in dangerous adventures, Jack flirting with everyone in sight and talking shop with Mickey the No-Longer-Quite-Such-An-Idiot. All the companions of his recent years, together, enjoying themselves and each other.

Rose had left off mocking him to Martha, and had instead started in on Jackie.

"We've just saved the world -no- the whole universe, yeah? We're on a spaceship, spinnin' though stars, and what does my mum have to say about it? 'Oh, I fancy a cuppa'!"

The Doctor saw the toss of her hair, and the flirt of tongue darting out at the corner of her mouth. And he saw her eyes. Her eyes that kept leaving the table to glance back at him where he had stood against the wall, where he was standing now. Her eyes had been full of questions and tinged with hopes that had made his chest hurt when he thought about how he was planning to answer them.

He shivered. It really did almost feel like the room had shades in it, spirits of people not yet dead but still gone. He shook his head. There weren't any ghosts in his TARDIS- Rose wasn't even dead! Before the self-pitying voice in the back of his head could chime in with anything melancholy he shook his head again, more firmly, and straightened up.

This was really quite enough.

The Doctor rolled the forgotten mug of tea between his hands for a minute, looking at it, feeling the ceramic warm to his touch, smearing the lipstick along the edge of his thumb in the process. He held it, touched the tip of his tongue to the rim, then drained the cold tea and let the old mug roll out of his hand into the bin.

The bin contained a tidy little portal to the center of an isolated star, and the mug made no satisfying thump as it entered, but merely disappeared with a swish and a hiss of vapors.

The Doctor picked up the bin and swept one long arm across the table, clearing the contents into it with an abbreviated clatter of breaking china, then replaced it, still empty, by the wall. He leaned back on the edge of the table, pushed both hands through his hair, knotted his fingers into the roots and pulled, stretching his face and pulling his head back. Finally he sighed deeply and let his arms fall slack into his lap.

He didn't mind an empty TARDIS, not so much, he had flown solo before. At the moment, however, his ship felt uncomfortably crowded. He couldn't look anywhere, couldn't take a step without treading on ghosts. There was no space to move and no room to think. The Doctor came to a decision, one he felt was overdue.

It was time -past time- for a drink.

As he left the kitchen he rubbed at the pink lipstick that remained on his thumb, working it into the skin where its color filled in the tiny lines there and gave at least one small patch of his skin the appearance of a healthy glow.

He turned his steps toward the console room to instruct the TARDIS to find him a bar.

...


Any bar, any planet, any time, anywhere.

That had been his instruction to the TARDIS, and didn't it just figure that when he opened the doors and stepped out, he found himself on what was obviously a human world?

He had been questioned, over the centuries, by many Time Lords and a fair number of other assorted lifeforms in terms that boiled down, more or less, to "What is it with you and the humans, anyway?" Now he found the words echoing through his own brain. What was it with him and the humans, anyway? He kept ending up on their worlds, kept involving himself in their history. He kept filling up his TARDIS with them, them and their pals and their things, their food, their smells. Their mothers! This had to end. It had gone too bloody far when he was transporting mothers. It had gone beyond too bloody far with the humans.

But.

But he couldn't be bothered to turn around and look for somewhere else. He had come for a drink not to make friends, and it didn't much matter who was sitting on the next stool (bench, cushion, chair dwarf, whatever they had here) so long as they didn't get chatty.

The TARDIS was in a corner of a dusty alley that led off of an open spaceport. Judging by the unpaved surface of the landing area and condition of the rusting ships slouched around the perimeter it was a minor port on some colonial backwater of a planet.

The building the TARDIS had nestled itself against, once he wandered around the front to investigate it, was indeed a bar. It had a sign dangling from one bracket above the door declaring it to be The Musty Bucket, and both the name and the premises looked to be in the serious pursuit of victory in some sort of local 'Least Appetizing Eatery' competition, but it served the Doctor's purposes perfectly. It looked like a bar where people who were serious about their drinking went when they felt like drinking seriously. He went in.

There was a definite theme to the decor. The room had unfinished wooden planking for floor and ceiling alike, and the walls in between, though they had been covered in something that could no longer properly be described as whitewash, he suspected looked pretty much the same underneath.

The front half of the small room featured three or four rickety wooden tables ringed with a collection of mismatched wooden chairs and stools. Along the back right wall was the bar itself, which consisted of a plank of wood screwed through the top into some bolted-together wooden shipping containers. It was faced with a number of wooden stools of varying heights and backed by a single wooden shelf holding a small collection of bottles, which for a change were made of glass.

As a decorative touch the wall behind the bar featured a large and menacing shotgun resting on wooden pegs at an easily accessible level.

The doctor glanced about at the few patrons. They mostly seemed to be conducting business dealings of varying levels of legality. He put his hands in his pockets, and strode up to the bar, though without his usual strut and flurry of coattails. The bartender was a burly man with a bald head and a large red mustache, bleached to blond at the ends where it curled over his lip, who slung a gray rag over his shoulder at the Doctor's approach and and greeted him with, "Yeah?"

"Ah. Yes." The Doctor sucked air through his teeth and glanced about. "What have you got?"

The bartender jerked his thumb at the handful of unlabeled glass bottles on the shelf behind him, containing what was ostensibly liquor in a variety of shades of yellow and brown.

"Ah, yes," the Doctor repeated, tilting his head, "I'll have, ah, number three. No, no, the orangey one."

The bartender thumped a grimy wooden tumbler down on the bar with a grunt of acknowledgment. As he tilted the bottle the liquid inside sloshed, dislodging from the silt at the bottom a fat white grub of some sort, curled in its death throes, which spun dizzily as the liquor drained into his glass. "You want it?" he asked, shaking the worm in its now empty bottle at him.

"Want what?" the Doctor asked, " That, um, lovely wormy thing? No. Thanks, though."

Over his shoulder, there was a disgusted snort.

"Damn shame. That's just wasteful. Hey! Give it here, if he's got no damn sense."

The Doctor turned to see who had spoken as he sat down, instantly wishing he had looked where he was sitting instead. He dropped hard onto a stool that was several inches below where he expected it to be, splashing his drink across the bar and the hands of his neighbor.

The man who had spoken was big. "Of course," thought the Doctor, resting his chin on his arm, which itself was now resting at eye-level on the bar, "Of course he might just seem larger being so much higher up," but no, a second look confirmed him to be really quite big. Large. Thick in the shoulders, neck, and most probably, the head too.

"Watch it," the man growled as he popped the white grub into his mouth, sucking remnants of worm guts and the Doctor's drink from a blunt index finger.

The Doctor muttered a meek apology and turned to his drink, tilting the tumbler this way and that with waning enthusiasm. He should have ordered the light amber. He should have told the TARDIS exactly where to take him. He could have been on Risa right now.

Still, better to get it over with than sit here contemplating the drink's former occupant. He drained the glass in a single gulp, hardly giving the last drops time to slide down his throat before he called out, "Barkeep! One of that light yellow one. Yes, in the twisty bottle. No, wait- it's not got any, erm, insects, in it has it?"

...


"Girl trouble, right?"

The Doctor blinked furiously. He was being addressed by... breasts. Very nice breasts. In some sort of an orange suit.

He was considering what sort of things one said to breasts when he remembered he was sitting on the low stool (the little Rose-voice in the back of his head guffawed and said "You can say that again!") so he jerked his head up at whiplash-inducing speed and waggled it from side to side a bit until his eyes focused on the speaker's face. It was a girl. A young girl. A cute young girl. In other words, the last thing he wanted to see right now.

"It is, isn't it," she went on, "girl trouble. I got an eye for this kinda thing."

The Doctor attempted a casual denial, with little success. "Naah. Not me. No. Well, not exactly. Well, sort of. Maybe. How did you know?" He peered through the haziness at the girl, twisting up his face till his eyebrows knotted

"So why'd she leave you, then?" the girl went on. "Found another fella? Or maybe you sent her packing?" She smiled like she was going to laugh at some joke he didn't get, and the doctor felt like maybe he should be insulted. "Or maybe it was both? You'd say as she left, and she'd say as you threw her out?"

The Doctor didn't answer, instead pulling back and looking up at her, gaping a little.

"Who are you? Why are you here? Are you some kind of a telepathi- telepaffi- minder reader person?"

Now the cute girl did laugh. She had dimples. It occurred to him how simultaneously out of place and at ease she looked in the Musty Bucket.

"You ain't gotta be a mind reader to tell a man who's been unlucky in love! For one thing you sure don't look like you come into places like this much. And you menfolk're all the same, anyway. You all couldn't tell what you're feelin' about somethin' from a hole in the ground." The girl grinned again, a disconcertingly impish look, "An' I only say the ground to be polite-like."

The Doctor decided to ignore most of this, and protested, "I come to places like this! I come to places like everywhere. Sooner or later."

"So you're a traveler then?" The girl's face lit up. "So'm I! I've been about everyplace now, least everyplace out here on the rim. You in your fine suit, you've prob'ly been to much nicer places, I guess," she paused with a wistful look, then continued, "But you still didn't answer my question. Girl trouble, right? You're drinking like you got a broken heart."

"Or two," muttered the Doctor, and then hurrying on at the girl's confused expression, "No. Not me. Not broken. More like... bruised really. Just, just poked it in the same spot too many times is all."

"There was a girl," she said, smiling.

"There were a lot of girls. A very lot of girls. And some boys. And a dog once. But no, yes, there was a girl. One particular girl."

"Well no wonder you lost her!" the girl retorted, indignant now, "You may be cute but you ain't anything so hot as all that! I don't know what girl'd be fool enough to hang around if-" He cut her off.

"No, no. Nothing like that. I've just traveled with a lot of people. Friends. But then there was one girl-" he stopped. "Cute, eh?" He managed what he felt was a rakish grin.

"Don't go getting no ideas. I just meant you're, not all together poorly looking, that's all. So how did you lose your one girl, then, huh?"

The Doctor considered.

"I didn't lose her. I left her. Or, maybe, I made her leave. But I had to do it. It had to be done. Better to end it for good. It was never going to... sooner or later she... and I'm not..." he didn't know how to finish, or how to begin either. "I... I... I... need another drink. Barkeep!" he shouted, "That brown one. Shake it first- no bugs? Good man. One of those. A double."

The Doctor put his face down in his cup, contemplating the slowly settling depths of his something-th drink of the night, and half hoped when he looked up the girl would be gone, but instead she had sat down next to him, and was watching him with her chin in her hand.

"Why'd you go and make her leave then? You musta loved her, else you wouldn't be so sad now."

"Well... I..." the Doctor floundered "Yes, I guess I did. Love her. And she, I think she, at least she thought she... loved me. But it would never have worked, between us. She was... beautiful. Young. And I'm old, " seeing the girl's doubting face, "older than I look. Very old. I was half-crazy when I met her, or I would never have let it get so far. There was a war. And I had- I was- Anyway, came to my senses finally is all. It would only have ended badly. Painfully. For both of us. So I left. Left her. Put her off the ship."

The girl's face was unreadable. "You sound like a friend of mine," She said.

"Oh?"

"He's a fool."

"Ah."

"Leastwise about this."

He didn't know what to say, and the girl went on. "Can't ya go back for her? Tell her you were wrong?" He shook his head. "But you do think you were wrong." It wasn't a question.

The Doctor looked intently at the ceiling.

"No, I can't go back. It's dangerous. And it's impossible. And then there's the space-time continuum-in-inity. Thingy. I can't go back for her." He glanced back into the depths of his drink. "There's a lot of places I can't go back to now."

"You're more than just heart broken," said the girl, "I reckon you're broken all over." This was true. The Doctor nodded.

"Figured you'd have a nice long sulk to soothe your soul, then?" The Doctor stopped nodding. He wasn't sure he liked this description of what he was doing. The girl went on. "So who do you fly with now? Got a big crew?"

"No," he shook his head, "No, No one, now. Not anymore."

The girl put her hand on his arm, and he looked up at the unexpected touch.

"Did you lose your whole crew?" she asked, gently.

"What? No! Not like that! I, um, I took them home. Sent them all back to their lives. They're fine. I'm sure they're fine."

To his surprise, the girl pulled back her hand. She had an angry wrinkle between her eyes.

"An' of course you asked 'em all first, before you did it, right? You asked 'em, and they said they wanted to go home? Back to their lives?"

"Well, no," said the Doctor, feeling confused. "Not... as such." There was an odd urgency to the girl's anger. "It's just got too dangerous," he explained, "Too many people on my conscience."

The girl had pulled away now. Her face was glowing as she spoke.

"So you just dumped them all off, then? You left 'em behind, an' who cares what they wanted? Typical man, telling people what's good for them! You just said 'Nice knowing you' and put them all back where you found 'em? Just abandoned 'em cause you was too scared?"

"It wasn't like that!" the Doctor protested, but he had an uncomfortable feeling it was, in fact, quite a lot like that. The girl seemed to be taking his actions awfully personally. "They had things to get back to. Friends, family, jobs. I didn't just toss them out the door! They wanted to go."

"And your girl, she wanted to go too?" There was nothing the Doctor could say to this, so he said nothing and the girl went on, "No- 'course not. But you just had to be the big man and do the decidin' for her. So you just left her by the wayside. Tossed her out without so much as a by-your-leave! You threw her out, probably broke her heart as well as yours, and now you're here, crying into your drink 'cause you're alone!"

The last was said angrily, and for awhile neither of them spoke, but when she continued her tone had softened.

"You can't just fly around on your own, you know," she said. "Ship needs a crew. You'll end up dead in space somewhere with nobody even to know what happened to you. You need somebody to help you. One somebody, maybe a lot of somebodies. Somebody you can trust. Somebody who's good in a fight. Somebody who makes you laugh. Somebody to care about, so's you care what happens to you. At least somebody to talk to when you get to feelin' broken so you ain't stuck crying you heart out to some strange girl in a bar!"

The Doctor didn't know what to say to that either, so he ordered another drink.

...


"It is never three o'clock!"

The bald-headed and red-mustachioed bartender, unmoved by this argument, dragged the Doctor out the door and dropped him unceremoniously in the dirt outside.

"I have an innate sense of time that would move the watchmakers of your crumby little planet to tears of envy, IF they could understand it, which I doubt, and I am telling you it's never three o'clock!" The Doctor kicked the even less sympathetic, and now closed, door and then slumped down with his back against it and shut his eyes. So much for a nice quiet drink. So much for getting away from humans for awhile. So much for forgetting his troubles. He rubbed his face with both hands. He could hear voices conversing somewhere above his head, but he couldn't bring himself to care what they were talking about.

"Fine then, suit yourself," said a deep growling voice. "Don't come crying to me if he murders you or somethin'." The voice sounded familiar and the Doctor thought vaguely that it might be his hulking worm-eating neighbor of earlier that night.

"He ain't gonna murder me! Just tell the cap'n I'm held up, 'kay? I'll take him back to his ship and I'll come right back." This voice sounded familiar as well. "He's all on his own," it added, with a note of pity.

"Suit yourself," the first voice repeated, and the Doctor heard heavy footsteps retreating into the distance as the face of the pretty, dimpled girl swam back into focus before him.

"Hi," she said.

He found himself smiling involuntarily. He had a feeling this girl produced a lot of involuntary smiles.

"Hello," he answered.

"Sorry I went off at you earlier. Why doncha tell me where your ship is, an' I'll take you home to her, huh?"

Home. It sounded nice.

"I'm parked around back," he replied.

The girl slid an arm under his shoulders, hoisted him into a standing position with surprising strength, and they ambled companionably around the bar and up the alleyway. When they got to the TARDIS she let go of him suddenly and took a step forward with an awed breath, and then half a step back. She extended an arm and touched her fingertips to the ship, almost hesitantly, walking around it and looking up and down each side.

"Oh, gosh. She's beautiful..." She looked at him, eyes suddenly questioning. "Who are you, anyway?"

"Oh. The Doctor. I'm called the Doctor."

Somewhat unexpectedly, she guffawed in response to this answer.

"You're a doctor? Well don't that just figure! Well, then. She's beautiful, Doctor."

The Doctor rubbed his neck. "It's funny, most people aren't so impressed, I mean, with the outside. You see there's this circuit that..." he stopped, looked at her again, rubbed his neck, considered. "Would you like to see the inside?" he asked.

The girl had gone quiet, but her eyes were shining. She held her breath, nodding. The Doctor fumbled the key into the lock, opened the door, and stepped aside to let her pass.

The girl let out her breath as she entered the TARDIS. It came out in an "Oooh" a sort of sigh that almost made the Doctor blush. She turned several circles, but she didn't look surprised, and she didn't utter the habitual cry that had almost become a ritual of showing people the TARDIS for the first time. Finally the Doctor said it for her.

"It's bigger on the inside. You know."

"Well, of course she is," the girl replied, gazing upward, "Have to be wouldn't she? Knew that the second I touched her. What's her name?"

The Doctor was disconcerted.

"It's called the TARDIS, that's Time And Relative Dimen-"

"But what's her name?" interrupted the girl.

He swallowed uncomfortably. The TARDIS had a name, of course, but it wasn't something he just bandied about. He changed the subject.

"I could show you around, there's a lot more of it, quite a lot really!" He made a sweeping motion to indicate the vastness of the ship, but the girl shook her head.

"I'd love to see her, but I oughta be getting home myself."

The echo of the girl's voice made the Doctor painfully aware of the emptiness that stretched out from the console room, the quiet there. How could he have ever thought it was too full? He could hear it now, that quiet, like a ringing under the hum of the TARDIS' engines. He was painfully aware, too, that once she left he would be alone, again. Alone in all that stillness. He went on at a reckless, break-neck pace.

"I have an idea, just a thought. Would you like to see her fly? To go on a trip with me? Just one, mind you! Just a short trip. But, what I mean is, I was having a bad day, and you... helped. Thank you. And you were right, too. A ship needs a crew. I shouldn't be rattling around in here all by myself. Come with me?" He raised his eyebrows in supplication, but the girl was hesitating. "I'll take you anywhere you want to go, anywhere at all. One trip to anywhere."

The girl smiled, but shook her head.

"Don't get me wrong, Doctor. I'd love to see her fly. Boy, would I ever love to! But I have my own ship, and my crew. They'd worry 'bout me. They're like my family, really, they get all concerned... But- thank you. Thank you so much, for showin' her to me. She's amazing."

The Doctor couldn't give in. He gave it a final try.

"It travels in time too, you know. No really! Cross my heart. I can take you anywhere, any time, any place, and have you back before anyone even knows you left. Could have you back before you left, though that can get sticky. Just one trip. Anywhere in the galaxy?"

"You can really have me back before anyone knows I left?" The girl's tone was doubtful, but her eyes were shining. "You're not joking?"

"Cross my heart," the Doctor repeated.

The girl looked around with an assessing eye. She stared at the walls, up at the corral arches of the ceiling, she turned, taking in the console, and then she closed her eyes and listened with rapt attention, her face assuming an incandescent expression that seemed to be quite literally lighting up the room until the Doctor noticed it was the TARDIS lights that were brightening, filling the console room with their glow.

"You know, it's crazy, but I believe you," she grinned. "Well, I guess... one trip you said? Anywhere in the 'verse?" She took one more look around, stepped further up the ramp and pressed a palm against the column there. "Gosh. Well. Well, shiny! Lets go, then, Doctor!" She flashed him another cheeky grin.

The Doctor was grinning now, too. Outside the streets of the unknown planet were still dark, but inside the TARDIS it felt like morning.

"One trip, then. Just for you, uh, erm- do you know, I never asked your name?"

"It's Kaylee," she said, flashing her dimples at him and dusting her hands on the seat of her orange coveralls before offering him one to shake. "Kaywinnit Lee Frye, but you can call me Kaylee. Pleased to meet you, Doctor."

"Kaylee," said the Doctor, and he looked up at the ceiling as he said it, rolling the name around in his mouth to test it out. "Kaylee. Alright then, Kaylee."

But before he could add a enthusiastic 'allons-y!' he looked over at her and found she was straying dangerously close to the controls, her face filled with an enterprising expression, fingers practically twitching. He moved quickly to put himself between her and the console, and with a twist of a few knobs (and a pump of a lever and some shimmying, and button pushing, and two thumps with a mallet) the air filled with a tremendous grinding and wheezing.

The ground shook, and engines moaned, and the ship flew.