Last Orders

by vegetables [Reviews - 0]

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  • Teen
  • None
  • Action/Adventure, Alternate Universe, Angst, Drama, General, Horror, Humor, Hurt/Comfort, Introspection, Mixed, Series

Chris ran to the Doctor as she sobbed and gasped, hands and knees pressed to the weeping ground.

“Oh, God,” said the Doctor. “I shouldn’t cry!”

“It’s fine to cry,” said Chris. “Whoever you are.”

“She’s right,” said Lorna apprehensively, “it is fine to cry. But it’s less fine for someone who’s thousands of years old to come to depend on my daughter.”

The Doctor looked up into Lorna’s eyes from the floor. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I really am. I didn’t mean to be… I didn’t want to be that.”

“We didn’t want that, either,” said Lorna coldly.

“You’re angry,” said Chris to the Doctor.

“Angrier than I’ve ever been. I think… that I might have needed to be. To get to this place. The centre of everything that’s gone wrong.”

On a glass panel in the TARDIS console a normal-looking street appeared, all glass fronts and cracked pavements. People who looked like people were walking the streets in ordinary clothes, and in the air hung a thing like the end of the world.

“This place looks boring,” said Chris.

“Everywhere’s interesting under the surface,” said the Doctor, looking at a display on the console. “And this place is no exception. The planet has a literary influence.”

“They like books?” said Chris.

“They like a book. A book from the Earth. I don’t know which one; the dial on this isn’t very good.”

“You have a dial to tell you you’re in a book?” said Lorna.

“You don’t need a dial for that!” said the Doctor. “It’s always pretty obvious when that happens. It’s for when people are very into a book; build their whole world around it. Like a religion without the faith” — she wrinkled her nose — “but still with a lot of fanatics.”

“What’s that?” said Chris, pointing at the thing in the sky. It looked a bit like St. Paul’s Cathedral might, if you’d thought to turn it upside down and suspend it in the air.

“It’s a battle craft, with lasers pointing down,” said the Doctor. “I don’t know.”

“And where’s this?”

“I don’t know that either. It’s not part of space and time as you’d understand it. It’s more of a possibility, and not a very possible one. If you smashed a mirror and went to the heart of the break, it’s a place like this you’d find in the middle of the shards.”

“It doesn’t look very interesting,” said Chris.

“Maybe not on the surface,” said the Doctor, regaining some of her composure. “And I’m glad you said that, because you won’t be going out there.”

“Okay,” said Chris.

“What?” said the Doctor.

“That’s fine,” said Chris. “I’ve not had a good time today; you’ve been really scary. And I saw a nuclear bomb go off. Now I can’t stop thinking that one might go off over me.”

The Doctor didn’t look remotely angry anymore. She just looked sad, like something had been lost.

“Travelling in the TARDIS should be wonderful,” she said. “No matter how scared you might feel. But it’s too dangerous now, isn’t it? You have to feel safe before you put yourself in danger. And there’s something out there that makes nothing feel safe anymore”–

There was a knock at the TARDIS door, and both Chris and Lorna flinched.

“That’s odd,” said the Doctor as she drew out her sonic screwdriver. “I wasn’t expecting visitors.”

She walked slowly towards the door, the silence only broken by the sounds of the forest outside. She thrust the door open with one hand as she clenched her screwdriver tight in the other–

–To see a a man in a hi-vis jacket, who was looking a little confused.

“Postman,” he said.

“What?” said the Doctor. “We’ve only been here five minutes! There’s no way we could get any post!

“That’s none of my concern,” said the man, handing over her letter.

She took the envelope from him that was simply labelled DOCTOR, THE UGLY BOX, and decided she was at the point of accepting things like this.

As she closed the door she opened the letter, then frowned.

“Chris, Lorna. Come’n look at this. It’s an invitation.” The two of them came over to her, Chris taking the letter and Lorna bending down to read:





“That looks like a trap,” said Lorna.

“It looks very like a trap!” said the Doctor. That’s what makes it so clever. Most people would try and trick me a little, they’d think they might even succeed. But whoever sent this, they know it’s better not to try. Because they’ll send it, and know that I’ll think this, and that of course I’ll walk into it anyway. You have to, right? When the trap’s set by someone so clever.”

“That’s…” Lorna tried to say the words ingenious and incredibly stupid at the same time, but her mouth just let out a strangled sound instead.

“This place,” said the Doctor, “it’s dangerous. I mean, of course it is; we don’t go anywhere that isn’t. But here…”

She gulped.

“I’m not sure I’m going to come back,” she said. “And when I don’t, I’m not sure anywhere will be safe. Not anymore. The TARDIS will take you to the safest place she can find. And maybe, hopefully, that’ll be enough.”

Her hands were in her pockets and she was looking at the ground.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I thought this time I’d get it right, once I knew how few chances I’d have left. And I do want that, you must know that. Somewhere, maybe. Somewhere I got it right.”

Lorna and her daughter looked at the Doctor coldly.

“You’ve put us through hell, Doctor,” Lorna said.

“Yeah,” said the Doctor sadly. “I did do that. Yes.”

“You saved our lives,” said Chris, who didn’t sound so happy about that either.

“True,” said the Doctor. “I did do that as well.”

They all paused awkwardly, the only sound the rustling of the leaves.

“It’s been bad and it’s been good,” said Lorna. “It needn’t be one or the other. But I am glad we met you, in the end. And I hope you’ll be alright.”

“Don’t die,” said Chris.

“I’ll try,” said the Doctor. “It’s all any of us can do.”

“That’s the world,” said Lorna.

“The reality we’re in now,” said the Doctor as she looked through the TARDIS doors. The city outside was grey and unremarkable, and the most dangerous place she’d ever been.

The three of them looked at each other awkwardly, not knowing if they should hug, then did and found that the awkwardness didn’t leave.

“Right,” said the Doctor. “Off to save reality again. It’s very regular, how that needs doing. Like hoovering.”

Her friends looked uncomfortably at her and didn’t smile.

“Well,” she said. “Best be getting on.”

She waved to them, then stepped out of the TARDIS for what might have been the last time.

“I trusted that woman with you, Chrissy,” said her mum once the Doctor had gone. “I don’t know if you can forgive me.”

“She wasn’t always so bad. She fought monsters in my head. Ones you were pretending weren’t even there.”

“And I love her for that,” said Lorna. “I just sometimes wonder about the ones that only she can see–“

“She wasn’t frightened when I first met her. The world was about to end, but she didn’t even seem scared.”

“You’re scared now, though, eh? After seeing her like that?”

Chris looked warily at her mother. “I’m more scared of what scares the Doctor than I am of her. Even when she’s like she was right now.”

Lorna thought of what did scare the Doctor– which she’d told her once, though her daughter never could know. That soon all of space and time would be filled with Daleks– without any way to stop it from happening at all.

She thought of that, and knew she couldn’t mention it. However smart your eleven-year-old was, there are some things she would never understand.

And if there was one thing they both needed less than anything, it was for everything to somehow get darker.