“See,” the Doctor was saying breathlessly to the no one who was listening, “the inside of the TARDIS might be gone, but the shell’s unchanged. It’s basically indestructible. Slam that into the side of a Dalek mountain, sure as eggs you’re going to break right through. Temporal engineering,” she said. “Hitting things.”
None of her friends even pretended to respond. They were still gasping for breath and rubbing their muscles after what they’d had to do. But they’d succeeded at doing it, at least. the shell of the TARDIS was now on the roof of the Mini, its inside wide open to the sky.
“It’ll crush us, won’t it?” said John. “I felt how heavy it was. The Mini won’t be able to take the weight.”
“It will,” said the Doctor, waggling her screwdriver. “I strengthened it.”
“Won’t the TARDIS fall off when we start to move?” said Chris. “There’s nothing holding it on.”
“There is,” said the Doctor, holding up a big bit of metal shaped like a horseshoe. “I magnetised it.”
“You can’t magnetise wood!” said Chris.
“Youcan’t,” said the Doctor.
Out of the corner of her eye she saw the billboard covered in Daleks, and her hearts sank.
“If only everything was so easy to fix,” she added with a sigh.
She looked up at the billboard for a while as everyone else climbed into the car. Lorna looked up pointedly at her as she budged her way through its small back door.
“Come on, Doctor, climb up into your box,” said Lorna. “It’s even more cramped in this Mini.”
“It’s just…” started the Doctor…
She waved her hand helplessly at the world.
“...this isn’t how I thought it would end,” she finished lamely.
“No,” said Lorna. “None of us did.”
“Maybe,” said the Doctor. “But I’ve had such a long life”–
“And I’ve had a short one. It does come to all of us in the end.”
“I know,” said the Doctor. “Or I should, at least.”
She hadn’t stopped looking at the advert, its giant image of the man who had been Davros and the rows of Daleks who flanked him. Behind them was a scene of stars and possibility, and for the briefest of moments it felt exciting even to her.
She sighed to the bottom of her vast alien lungs.
“They’re both out there, the past and the future,” she said. “And then there’s this, the place you really live in, and it’s different to them, right? No matter what’s happening around you… you pretend it’ll go on forever.”
She turned back to the Mini.
“There’s no time like the present,” she said. “That’s why it’s been so hard to let it go.”
Lorna just smiled sadly in response as she shut her door. All of them had found things very hard.
The Doctor scrambled up into her TARDIS, one hand clutched to each of the sides, her blonde hair burning bright against the blue. There’d been a point she’d thought the universe would overwhelm her. But for now the sun was bright and the wind was in her face, and there were no Daleks anywhere to be seen.
“The Doctor in the TARDIS, off to save the universe,” she said to herself. “One last time, then.”
She pointed one finger straight ahead and grinned.
“Allons-y!” she cried.
“It means ‘let’s go’,” she added when the car failed to move. “In French.”
The Mini glinted in the stale sun of the afternoon.
“You probably can’t hear me in there,” she said.
“Don’t be like this all the way, Doctor,” came Chris’s voice from inside.
The engine gave a horrible whine, and the car slowly started to move.
They were off on their trip to save all of the sentient things.