Grounded

by nostalgia [Reviews - 1]

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  • All Ages
  • None
  • Drama

He woke to pain and an unknown woman towering over him.

“Sorry about slapping you in the face,” she said, “but I was worried that you weren't going to wake up.”

The Doctor stood up, the woman taking some of his weight when he lost his balance halfway to his feet. He felt heavy and confused. “Where am I?” he asked.

“Earth, I think. I don't really know.”

He stopped leaning on the woman and stood up. “And who are you?” he asked, probably rudely but he wasn't in the mood to pretend to be polite.

“I'm Sexy,” she told him.

“I can see that, but who are you?”

She took a step back from him and spread her arms wide. “I'm me!”

“Wait,” he said, raising a hand, “I know you from somewhere...” There was something familiar about her, something he couldn't quite pin down to any specific feature. He was usually quite good with faces — he hardly ever forgot what people looked like and when he did it was almost always due to outside intervention of some sort. So really...

“Oh, no,” he said, when it hit him.

“Oh, yes.”

“But you're...”

“I know!”

He stared at her for a good long time. He walked round her. He prodded her arm. He sniffed her. Finally he said, “What happened to the blue box?”

“I don't know,” she said, “I woke up not long before you did and I was like this.”

They were in a field. The grass was green, the sky was blue, and a large cow was watching them with apparent suspicion.

“The last thing I remember is deciding to go to the Eye of Orion,” he said. He looked around. “Which I don't think this is. This looks more like Wales.”

“We have bigger problems than Wales,” she said. “I'm not supposed to be in a humanoid body, I could probably explode at any moment.”

“How do you feel?” he asked, concerned for her and for everyone in the potential blast-radius.

She thought for a moment. “Squishy.”

“Squishy,” he repeated.

She nodded. “My inner dimensions are full of meat and blood and... I don't want to think about it, it's horrible.” She shivered and wrapped her arms around herself.

“You'll get used to it,” he said.

“I don't want to get used to it! I want my own casing back!”

“Calm down,” he said, touching her back, “you'll be no use to anyone if you start to panic.”

“We'll be trapped here forever,” she sniffed. “I'll die and you'll have to get a job,” she said, sticking to the most distressing facts.

“Don't worry, we'll get this fixed. I always fix things, don't I?”

She nodded. Then she said, “Except when you don't.”

“Sexy... look, I can't call you Sexy, that's not even a name.”

“It is,” she protested. “It's my name and I like it.”

“Well, we can think of a better name later. First we need to find out where the rest of you went.” He searched in his pockets until he produced a few coins. “I hope we're in a decade that has phone boxes.”

“You really should get a mobile phone,” she said, following him as he started off across the field.

“I don't need a mobile phone,” said the Doctor, “I live in a mobile phone.”

“Now you're just being difficult.”

“If I had a phone, people could call me. They'd ask for my number and they'd use it and then I'd be constantly annoyed by the ringing sound.” He reached for her hand automatically as the ground underfoot turned to mud. “Careful, don't slip.”

She pulled the hem of her dress up to her knees and made an unhappy sound as her shoes squelched in the mud. “This is unpleasant,” she said.

“It could be worse,” he said, “it could be cow -”

She gripped his arm suddenly as she lost her footing, and he managed to catch her before she fell.

“I don't like fields,” she announced when she had regained her balance. “This would never happen in a quarry, you know where you are with a quarry.”

He helped her over the fence onto the tarmac road that ran alongside the field. “I don't see any phone boxes,” he said, looking down the road. “There's that building, though. They might have a phone.”

“Who are you going to phone?” she asked.

“I was thinking of UNIT,” he told her. “But if they're busy we can always try Torchwood.” He paused. “I really hope UNIT aren't busy.”



The building turned out to be a pub, which did have a phone. Sexy sat with a pint of lemonade while the Doctor made the call.

“It's me,” he said, “I'm having transportation problems, I need someone to come and collect me.” He listened to the voice on the other end of the line. “What do you mean 'Me who?' It's me, the most important member of your organisation. I'm the Doctor.”

He furrowed his eyebrows. “No, I don't know the password. Since when was there a password? Yes, yes, I am quite cross. Can you put me though to someone who knows who I am?”

The Doctor waited. He drummed his fingers on the bar, and looked across the room to check that Sexy was still sitting with her drink. She waved at him and he waved back.

“Hello? Yes! Good! Look, the TARDIS is... having some problems, I need someone to bring me to HQ. Can you send a car?”

He shrugged. “How should I know, I'm a Time Lord, not Google Maps.” He looked out the nearest window. “...possibly Wales? I can see fields and some cows. I'm in a pub, does that help? I can wait here.”

With the conversation over, he handed the phone back to the barman and went to join Sexy at her table.

“I think that went well,” he told her.

“I don't know where I am,” she said, quietly. “I always know exactly where I am. I don't even know what century it is.”

“Don't worry about it,” he said. “Are you going to drink that?” he asked, indicating the lemonade that had cost most of his available cash.

“You can have it if you want,” she said, moving it across the table to him.

“I don't want you to get dehydrated,” he said, lifting the glass.

“I won't.”

He drank half the lemonade in one go, and then sat the glass back down on the table. “UNIT are sending someone to get us. Don't worry, we'll have this thing fixed by nightfall.”

She glanced out of the window. “It's getting darker already.”

“When have I ever let you down?” he asked, trying to keep her spirits up.

She sniffed sadly. “You don't always make repairs when you should.”

“I do so!” he protested.

“Not the boring repairs. You leave those until the last minute. And, you know, a bit of routine — which is to say boring - maintenance would save a lot of time later on.”

“The point,” he insisted, “is that I take care of you.”

“And I take care of you,” she said. “Or at least I did until someone poured me into a container made of meat.” She lifted her left hand and stared at it. “I wonder where this body came from.”

The Doctor wondered that too, but he didn't want to upset her with his morbid suspicions. “I take care of you,” he repeated, “and I always will. I'll find the rest of you, I promise.” He took another drink of lemonade, then added, “There's no use being pessimistic about it all.”

“Hrm,” she said, still staring at her hand.





The UNIT jeep arrived just as the Doctor was beginning to wonder how long they could stay in the pub without buying anything else. The driver hopped out and threw a quick salute at the Doctor.

“What's your name?” he asked.

“Evans, Sir,” she replied with a noticeable Welsh accent.

“Don't call me 'Sir,' it annoys me.”

“Right you are, Sir. I mean, Doctor.” She glanced over at Sexy. “Didn't know you'd have a companion with you. There's plenty of room, though.”

“I'm not a companion,” said Sexy, somewhat sulkily, as she climbed into the jeep.

The Doctor got in beside her and helped her with her seatbelt. “What if I get carsick?” she asked.

“You won't,” he said.

“How can you possibly know that? I've never even been in a car before.”

The Doctor nodded. “Yes, but you've travelled on roads. Remember when we had to tie you to the back of a lorry to get you to Dundee to defeat the Cybermen?”

He became aware that Evans was staring at them in the rear-view mirror. “Keep your eyes on the road,” he admonished. He turned his attention back to Sexy. “You'll be fine.”

Sexy didn't believe him. “You keep trying to reassure me about things, and it's not working.” She looked out of the window. “And we're going too fast, we'll probably crash.”

“Barely doing forty, Ma’am,” said Evans, calmly.

“That's still too fast.” She sniffed. “I don't like velocity. It's much more civilised to dematerialise from one spot and rematerialise in another without having crossed the intervening space in any real sense.”

“Don't know how to do that, Ma'am,” said Evans, unperturbed.

“Well, perhaps you should learn how,” said Sexy, rather snootily. “And don't take your eyes off the road, anything could happen!”

The Doctor leaned forwards in his seat and tapped Evans on the arm to get her attention. “Are you driving us all the way to London?”

“No, I'm taking you to RAF Llandow where you'll rendezvous with a helicopter and -”

“I'm not flying!” cried Sexy. “Those things can't possibly be safe!” She looked like she was about to cry.

Evans interrupted the unfolding drama. “Can I ask a question?”

“You already did,” said the Doctor.

“Then can I ask another question after this one?”

“If you must.”

“Your friend who isn't a companion. Is she your TARDIS?” She glanced back at them and then added, “Not that there's anything wrong with it if she is.”

“What's that supposed to mean?” asked the Doctor.

Evens shrugged. “Nothing. But I have to say, Ma'am, that I'm a huge fan of yours. I promise to drive as safely as I possibly can.”

Sexy was instantly won over. “Thank you.”

“And if you don't want to go in a helicopter, I'll drive you to London myself. I'll have to radio ahead and let HQ know, but it would be an honour.”

The Doctor sighed loudly. “I'm not good with fans.”

Sexy sniffed. “She didn't say she was a fan of yours.”

“Well, no, but...” He thought about this possible not-actually-an-insult. “Everyone's a fan of me,” he protested.

My fan has good taste and is going to make sure we don't die in a horrible collision. I don't know what your fans are doing to help us.”

“I don't like this,” said the Doctor, aware that he was being sulky.

“Well, I do,” said Sexy. And at least she was smiling now.




It was well after dark when they arrived at UNIT's London HQ, and the Doctor was quite hungry but hopefully there would be sandwiches.

Malcolm Taylor met them as the jeep pulled up in a courtyard. He didn't try to hug the Doctor this time, which was just as well, really.

“Good to see you again,” he said, cheerily.

“Is it?” asked the Doctor.

“Well, I mean... it's nice to see you even if something horrible is about to happen to the Earth. Sort of a silver lining, I suppose.”

The Doctor accepted this line of reasoning and nodded. He waited as Evans helped Sexy out of the jeep. “Are there any sandwiches?” he asked, because he might as well deal with that problem first.

“I'm sure we can get you some,” said Malcolm. He turned to Sexy. “Hello, I'm Malcolm. I don't think we've met?”

“Hello, I'm Sexy,” she said, offering her hand.

Malcolm turned red. “I suppose you are, yes.”

“She's the TARDIS,” said the Doctor. “She just likes to call herself Sexy. You know, as a name.”

“That's an unusual name, why did you choose it?” he asked her.

It was the Doctor's turn to blush. “It's just a name, it doesn't signify anything.”

Malcolm looked from one to the other and then shook his head as if to clear it. “Sorry, did you say she's the TARDIS?”

“I am,” she said, rather grandly.

“Do you mean she's disguising herself as a woman, now? Instead of a police box? How is that even possible?”

“I mean,” said the Doctor, impatiently, “that someone has put the consciousness of my TARDIS into a probably-human body. Which is a very bad thing, for everyone. We need to find the shell of the TARDIS and put her back inside. Somehow.”

“Oh,” said Malcolm.

“I'm dying,” said Sexy, conversationally. “I'm going to burn through this casing and then...” She spread her hands. “Then I don't know what will happen. But I expect it will be bad.”

“Don't worry,” said Malcolm, “UNIT can find anything.”

The Doctor made a sceptical noise.

“We're better than Torchwood,” said Malcolm, with dignity. “They couldn't even find you when you were exiled about five miles down the road from them in the... was that the 1970s?”

“Might have been,” said the Doctor, vaguely.

“We'll find the TARDIS. The rest of the TARDIS, that is.”

Sexy yawned. “What was that?” she asked, shocked.

“You're tired,” said the Doctor. “You need to get some sleep.” He felt a bit bad that he hadn't realised she'd have the normal humanoid weaknesses now.

“We have guest rooms,” said Malcolm. “Well, I say guest rooms. More like prison cells. But won't lock you in,” he added, ending on a smile.

“That'll do,” said the Doctor. He was a bit tired himself, if he was honest. He'd missed last week's nap due to an unusually thrilling chapter of the book he had been reading. “But no beds with ladders on them.”

“But you like the ladders,” said Sexy.

“The idiot before me liked them,” he corrected, “I don't.”

She seemed upset about this, so he dropped the subject with a shrug. “If there's a ladder I'm not climbing it, that's all I'm saying.”

“Suit yourself,” said Sexy.




The room they were given did not contain bunk-beds, but it did have bars over the windows. The Doctor sat on one of the twin beds and tried to remember when he himself had last slept. It was at least a week ago, so it was maybe about time for a quick nap at least.

Sexy had gone straight to the mirror on the wall and was moving and poking at her new face.

“I wish they wouldn't keep putting me in dead people,” she said after a while.

“She might not be dead,” said the Doctor. “Maybe her consciousness was stored somewhere else. Maybe we can put it back.” He didn't think that was very likely, if was being honest, but he didn't want to upset his TARDIS.

“I don't know whether you believe that or not,” she said, sadly. “I can only hear my own thoughts now, not yours.”

He knew TARDISes were slightly telepathic, like Time Lords, but this surprised him a bit. “What can you usually hear?”

“More than I'm supposed to,” she told him. “We're abnormally close, you and I.”

“Is that surprising? You were all I had for a long time after the war.”

“Even before that,” she said. “Don't be embarrassed, I won't tell anyone. Your secrets are quite safe from those humans you hoard.”

“I do not hoard humans!” he protested. “I've never had more than, what, three of them at any one time?”

“Yes, but who has to clean up after them?”

“They clean up after themselves!”

“Oh, really? Who do you think deals with all that radiated heat and the excess carbon-dioxide? And as for the -”

“Okay, I see your point.”

She left the mirror and moved to sit beside him on the bed. “I know they're important to you,” she said.

“Do you envy them?” he asked.

“What? Why would I do that?” She seemed to be genuinely confused by the idea. “If I was one of them I couldn't look after you properly, could I? I'd be stuck in three spatial dimensions and only one — one! - of time, and I'd hate that.” She looked at him with such a sad expression that it made his hearts hurt. “I hate it right now.”

He nudged her gently with his arm. “We'll get you back into your own casing, I promise.”

“You might not,” she said. “I might have to stay like this until I die. And then who'll take care of you?” She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. “You know, I always assumed we'd be together forever.”

“Nobody lives forever,” he said, quietly.

She shook her head. “You won't die, you'll just keep on regenerating forever.”

“Is that optimism or a spoiler?” he asked, not really wanting to know about his own future.

“Does it matter?” she asked.

He wiped a stray tear from her cheek. “I suppose it doesn't.”

She looked at him curiously, tilting her head slightly.

He leaned in closer without being entirely aware that he was moving. He took her hands in his and kissed her cheek.

She pulled had hands away and shifted on the bed. “You don't like touching people,” she said.

“You're not people.” He wasn't even sure what he wanted here, but his hearts were starting to beat that little bit faster and he felt warm.

She shook her head. “I am. This isn't my body and I don't think you'll be happy when we find out where it came from.”

How could he have forgotten something like that? For goodness sakes, Doctor, pay attention. He took a breath and looked away from her, staring at the wall and feeling quite ashamed of himself. “I'm sorry.”

“So am I,” she said. “Someone's torn us away from each other and I don't like it. I miss having doors and rooms and corridors and I miss knowing that you're safe. This is horrible.”

“You should get some sleep,” he told her. “Things might look a bit brighter in the morning.”

“They won't.”

“Just give it a try, old girl.” He stood and went to sit on the other bed. “Don't worry, I'll make sure nothing happens to you in the night.”

“Thank you,” she said through a yawn as she lay down. “Goodnight, Doctor.”

“Goodnight, Sexy.”




“I thought you said it would be brighter today.”

The Doctor looked up at the angry sky above them. “I meant metaphorically. Besides, it's only weather.”

They were standing in a courtyard outside UNIT HQ, waiting on what the Doctor hoped would be a nice surprise for Sexy.

“I hope it doesn't rain,” she said. “How do I turn the heating up on this thing?”

“You're cold?”

She nodded. “A little.”

A large van rolled into the courtyard, driven by a soldier and with Malcolm Taylor in the passenger seat. The Doctor ran over to meet it, Sexy following close behind.

“Did you get it?” he asked when Malcolm got out of the van. “Does everything still work?”

“Take a look,” said Malcolm.

The Doctor grinned as the back of the van opened to reveal a bright yellow car. “Bessie!” He looked at Sexy, but she didn't seem very happy. “What's the matter?”

“I never did like that thing,” she said.

“What? How can you not like Bessie? How could anyone not like Bessie? Is it the colour?”

She shook her head. “She can take you places when I can't.”

“You're jealous?” he asked, surprised. Maybe he should have thought of this reaction, but he had been too pleased with the idea of getting his old car back.

“Should I be jealous?”

“Of course not! She's just a car, she's not... well, she's not a you.”

Sexy smiled at that. “You're so sweet sometimes.”

He glanced at Malcolm and then said, “Not in front of the humans, eh?”

She giggled and climbed into the back of the van, sitting down in Bessie's passenger seat. The Doctor followed her up and got into the driver's seat. Carefully he drove down the ramp at the back of the van and out into the courtyard.

They came to a halt beside Malcolm, who said, “I have a question.”

“Is it about where babies come from?” asked the Doctor. “Because it's quite surprising.”

“I just wondered, what's the point of stealing a TARDIS and then taking out the bit that makes it go?”

“I thought about that too,” said Sexy.

“So did I,” the Doctor lied. “Why not just steal a police box if you only want the exterior?”

“Maybe it wasn't theft,” said Sexy. “Maybe they're deliberately trying to kill me to trap you on Earth.”

“You do have rather a lot of enemies,” said Malcolm, almost apologetically.

The Doctor shook his head. “Removing the consciousness from a TARDIS is much more difficult than stealing one would be, you'd have to be an idiot not to take it.”

“Or a Time Lord,” said Malcolm.

The Doctor looked at him sharply. “What do you mean?”

“Well, a Time Lord would already have a TARDIS of their own, so they wouldn't need to steal another one.”

“You think it's her, don't you?” asked the Doctor.

“I think it's a possibility.”

“Her who?” asked Sexy.

“Missy,” said the Doctor.

Her eyes widened. “The one who turned me into a paradox machine?”

“Don't worry, whatever she's up to we can stop her.”

Sexy shivered. “It's so cold out here.”

The Doctor was concerned. “Are you okay?”

“No,” she said. “I'm dying, remember?”

He looked away from her and spoke to Malcolm. “Missy's probably quite near here. She never lights the fuse without staying to watch the fireworks. The shell of the TARDIS should be close by.”

“I'll let them know to narrow down the search.”

The Doctor nodded, watched him leave, and then turned back to Sexy. “You'll be home soon enough,” he said.

“I hope so.”

He hoped so too.




They sat in the canteen because it was warm and served food. He watched Sexy tackle a cheese sandwich and thought dark thoughts about Missy. Killing his TARDIS would definitely be on the list of Unforgivable Things, which was disturbing given how much he had forgiven Missy for in the past.

“Don't eat so quickly,” he said, mostly to distract himself from his own thoughts.

“Why not?” she asked between mouthfuls.

“You'll make yourself sick.”

“I don't care,” she said. “I'm hungry and I'm dying and I can eat however I want.” She chewed thoughtfully for a moment, then added, “I don't know how you people cope with eating all the time. Doesn't it just get boring after a while?”

“I've never really thought about it like that. I suppose that's why we eat so many different things, to maintain the novelty value.”

“And the whole system of digestion and waste-excretion is just disgusting.”

He glanced around. “Maybe don't talk about that while people are eating.”

“If you don't like talking about it then maybe you should try not doing it.”

“How?” he asked.

“I don't know. Yet. I'll let you know if I think of a solution.” She turned her attention back to her sandwiches.

He noticed how pale she was now, and how she still huddled against the cold when they were inside and away from the weather. Surely she wouldn't actually die, though? He'd come up with a way to save her, wouldn't he? He hadn't let himself dwell on what would happen if he didn't find the rest of the TARDIS in time to save her. He'd find a way off this planet eventually, but it would never be the same. He'd miss her.

“You're staring at me,” she said.

“I was just thinking.”

“You'll make yourself sad,” she said, with worrying insight. “I need you to stay focussed so that you can fix me.”

“I am focussed,” he protested.

“I don't believe you,” she said. She moved quickly, pressing her fingertips to the side of his face, and then

Everything was going to be okay. She didn't know it because she could see the future, but because she trusted him, she had complete faith in his ability to save the day. She wasn't going to let anyone separate them permanently, and she knew that he wouldn't let it happen either. She wasn't going to lose him, and wouldn't lose her, and it would all work out somehow in the end.

The Doctor smiled at her, and then he moved her hand away gently. “I don't think you should do that in public,” he said. “But thanks for believing in me.”

She shrugged. “I just wanted you to know.”

“I didn't think you were so optimistic.”

“I'm not optimistic, I'm being completely logical based on past experiences. You always win. It's what you do.”

We always win,” he said. “I'd be lost without you.”

“Well, we're going to win. I had a bit of a crisis of faith, but now I know it'll be okay.”

The Doctor was trying to think of an adequate way to thank her when something started ringing.

“That's the phone they gave you,” said Sexy, helpfully, when he took too long to find the source of the noise.

He pulled it from his pocket and worked out how to answer it. “Hello?”

“We found her,” said Malcolm.




They drove in Bessie to a warehouse on the other side of London. It was partly-derelict and surrounded by UNIT soldiers, and the sky above was still dark and cloudy.

Kate Stewart was waiting for them when they arrived. Sexy jumped out of the car and the Doctor had to catch her by the arm to stop her running straight for the entrance to the warehouse.

“Wait,” he said.

She turned to Kate. “Is the rest of me here? Are you sure?”

Kate glanced at the Doctor. “Is she really..?”

“She's the TARDIS, yes.”

“This is so strange,” said Kate. She looked at Sexy. “I suppose I should say it's an honour to finally meet you.”

“I know you,” said Sexy. “No, wait, I don't. Do I? Did you used to have something hairy on your face?”

“You're thinking of her father,” said the Doctor.

“Oh,” said Sexy.

“Missy's in there,” said Kate, getting to the point. “She says she'll only talk to you.”

“Of course she does,” said the Doctor with a sigh. He took Sexy's hand and they started walking towards the warehouse.

“Are you sure it's safe?” Kate called after him.

“Not really,” he replied, “but I don't see any alternative.”

Sexy gripped his hand as they walked. “I don't think I have much time left,” she told him.

“Don't worry,” he said, opening the door to the warehouse.

“Why shouldn't she worry?” asked Missy, standing just behind the door. She placed herself between them and the empty shell of the TARDIS. “She's going to die, you know.”

“No, she isn't,” said the Doctor. He was angry and he wasn't bothering to hide it.

“It's for the best,” said Missy. “I'm only doing this because I worry about you. You're too close to that thing, it's not normal. I'm trying to help.”

“I don't need your help,” he snapped.

She looked at Sexy. “He's so rude, isn't he? I don't know what you see in him.”

Sexy glared her her. “Give me back my body.”

“No,” said Missy, calmly.

“Aren't you afraid?” asked Sexy. “You should be afraid — I'm the big bad wolf, I killed the Dalek Emperor.”

Missy looked at the Doctor. “See? Ideas above her station. That's what happens when you coddle them.” She shook her head. “I'm not afraid of either of you, and I'm not afraid of your little fan club outside.”

Sexy stumbled to one side suddenly and the Doctor caught her before she could fall.

“Oh dear,” said Missy, “I don't think she has much time left. You should probably say your goodbyes.”

“If she dies, I'm never going to forgive you,” the Doctor warned her. “She's much more important to me than you are.”

“And why is that?” asked Missy. “Go on, say it. Tell me how you feel about your spaceship.”

“You could never understand. It's not something you're even capable of any more.”

“Ouch,” said Missy, lightly. She touched a hand to her chest. “That hurts.”

He stepped up right in front of her. “Get out of my way.”

Missy stared back at him for long enough that he thought she wasn't going to give in. Then, finally, she stepped to one side. “Don't say I didn't try to help you.”

Sexy was barely conscious now, and he half-carried her to the tall blue box. “Stay with me,” he pleaded, “you're almost home.” He was aware of Missy watching as he found the key in his pocket and opened the door, and he let it slam shut behind him when he had dragged Sexy inside.

With the doors closed he carefully lowered Sexy onto the floor and knelt beside her. “You're back inside,” he told her, “you're safe.” He wasn't sure what he was expecting to happen, but there wasn't a sound from the ship. “You can't die,” he said. “I need you too much.”

Sexy's eyes opened for a moment and she smiled weakly. “I know you do,” she whispered. She started glowing, yellow light swirling around her body.

The lights came on, and he heard the distant drone of engines starting up again. The console bleeped and flashed as it rebooted.

When he looked back down, Sexy was gone.




There was a knock on the door. He stood up and moved slowly over to open it.

Kate stood outside. “Is she..?”

“It's okay,” he said, “she's back in the box.”

“And you? Are you alright?”

“I'm fine,” he lied. “Where's Missy?”

“She disappeared. We're searching the building, but I don't think we're going to find her.”

“You won't,” he said, certain. “She crossed a line,” he added. “I'm not going to let her off lightly next time.”

“I know,” said Kate. “It worries me though. Everything that she's done, to so many planets, and this is where you draw the line.”

“You're probably right,” he said. “I should have given up on her centuries ago.”

“Why didn't you?”

“Does it matter?”

“I suppose not.” Kate looked past him into the TARDIS. “It really is bigger on the inside.”

“Do you me to take you away from all this?” he asked, not entirely sure that he didn't mean it.

“Hardly,” said Kate. “I have plenty to do in the here and now.”

“Okay,” he said, eager to move on.

Kate was silent for a moment, and then she said, “I'm sorry you lost your TARDIS.”

“I didn't lose her, she's right here.” He patted the door-frame.

“I'm still sorry,” said Kate. She stepped back. “You'd better be off, Geneva wanted me to ask if you'd stick around this time.”

“Thanks for the warning.”

“Any time.”

He closed the door and turned to look around the console room. It seemed awfully big and empty. Maybe he should think about getting another human in, he could do some with company. He imagined that the TARDIS agreed, and then wondered if really had imagined it.

He touched the controls of the ship. “At least I'll always have you.”

The lights flickered on and off so quickly that he wasn't sure if it had actually happened.

Then, with a grin, he pulled the dematerialisation lever and headed off into the time vortex.