“You can’t save people in that way, Chrissy!” her mother was saying, “it isn’t safe. What is it?” she added to the Doctor. “The thing that isn’t safe?”
“We can fire on the ship with the Scott Monument. The historical society; it’ll have made sure it’s kept a working laser. The controls’re pretty straightforward; functional stuff from Edinburgh Three. It’s just...” She gazed up at the spire in front of them. “They’re also up there.”
Lorna looked at her. “Is there time?”
“To blow up the loomship? Definitely! To get out afterwards?” She shook her head. “The control sequence takes a while to initiate, and we have to get back to the TARDIS now. One of us, we can take down whatever they’re building. But we won’t be around afterwards, to tell the tale.”
“Then I’ll go,” said Chris. “You saved my life, and you listened to me. And then I listened to you, and now I can save you as well.”
“Chris… you’re ten years old.”
“I’m eleven now. You gave me that tin!”
“Let’s all forget about the tin. It’s still not enough, to risk your life like that. You have to be, well,” she sighed, “however much older than eleven I am.”
“You’re not her mother, Doctor,” said Lorna quietly. “And you’re not the one that should be risking their life for her.”
“Her mother’s not responsible,” said the Doctor. “I should’ve been able to stop all this.”
“And could you have?” asked Lorna.
The Doctor looked defeated. “Maybe not. Maybe I could never‘ve saved this city. But if you’re totally certain it’s you who’s going up there? Then I might be able to save you.”
She looked up at the great blackened spire of the monument, picked out like a shadow against the flames. Above it, the shape of something unimaginable was close to coming right into being.
“Thing about the TARDIS,” said the Doctor. “People’re all about the time; forget about the space. If my ship’s down there and the monument’s up here, and if I jack the accelerator to beyond the mandated level“–
“You want to crash into me,” said Lorna. “That’s your plan.”
“Oh, no, I want you to run away. This is the backup plan.”
“And there isn’t a better one?”
The Doctor looked down from the top of the many-tiered city, at the endless amount of heritage that was melting and boiling away. The integrity of the central structure was failing, she could tell. It wouldn’t be long before the whole thing blew apart.
“The only plan now is getting away,” said the Doctor. “Lorna, you know… I’ve looked death in the face so many times.”
“And so have I. But it wasn’t my death I was frightened of. If this is what it takes to save her, you are not about to try and stop me. And if you try, well. It won’t be the Daleks that’ll scare you after that.”
The Doctor gulped. “Sorry. It’s been a long time, since I’ve had to take care of a child.”
“And if it’s a short time, ‘till you have to do it again?”
The Doctor looked down at Chris, who was sobbing to herself.
“Then I’ll find a new way to be the Doctor,” she said.
“Is there time to hug her?” asked Lorna.
“Yes,” said the Doctor. “Yes, there always is.”
Lorna knelt down to her crying child and took her into her arms.
“Chrissy,” she said. “Chrissy, Chrissy, Chrissy. Come here, my little bear.”
“Don’t go,” said Chris softly.
“Well, it’s not fair if it’s just you and the Doctor, eh? Who get to go around saving people. And I trust her, really. To keep you safe.”
“I don’t want you to die,” said Chris.
Lorna laughed. “I don’t want to go doing that, either! I’ll fight the Daleks, Christina.”
She kissed her daughter on the forehead.
“And I love you.”
“I love you too, Mum,” said Chris as the Doctor awkwardly fiddled with a chisel.
“Access tool,” said the Doctor, throwing the chisel to Lorna. “Give the laser a whack, it’ll think you’re qualified to fire a giant weapon. Which nobody is, not really. But maybe we’ll make an exception when you’re firing it onto them.”
The two women exchanged a look for a second, in silent respect.
“Keep her safe!” shouted Lorna as she ran up the first stairs of the monument.Normally, the Doctor would have said something then, or taken a moment to breathe. But the air was full of flames and screams, and there was a child beside her she might soon have full responsibility for. So instead she just clenched onto Chris’s hand as her friend began climbing the spire, and made sure she could never let go as the two of them began to run away.