From his vantage point above Earth, the Curator frowned. “Well, what?”
“D'you think he handled it well....leaving Dracula on Midnight, and all?”
“Considering what lives on Midnight in my own reality, I might be ever so slightly harsher in my judgement,” the Curator admitted, “but....all things considered, he has done well. As you predicted.”
“As we predicted. You can't keep pinning the success for this entirely on my shoulders.”
“Ever the humble one, aren't you, Kilroy?” The Curator took a sip of tea, sighing. “A pity, though....”
It was Kilroy's turn to frown. “What's a pity?”
“The Doctor has done so much, battling Dracula....yet he is only faintly aware of the fate that is in store for him, aboard the Blackstar. The suffering...the torment....” The Curator shook his head. “It's dreadful, isn't it?”
“Dreadful, and necessary,” Kilroy reminded him. “'Through suffering, there will come change', all that rot.” He nodded, glancing abougt the console room. “And that's not even going into Kashmir...which is ironic, because I've technically been through that whole bit already.”
“You know, I've been wondering why you never asked me to take part in that,” the Curator mused.
Kilroy looked surprised. “You were in the TARDISphere, right at the end....granted, there were a lot of Doctors in the TARDISphere, and I wasn't able to contact all of them personally, but still.” He shrugged. You're saying you wanted a bigger role in the proceedings, overall? To actually have been on the surface of the planet?”
“....wishful thinking, I suppose,” the Curator admitted. “It seems so strange that it's all over, now....”
“Over for us,” Kilroy corrected. “Not for him....time travel is a complicated beast, all things considered.”
“Complicated, yes,” the Curator agreed. “Dangerous, too....it's a miracle there were no paradoxes, this time, or any other.....incidents...” He took another sip of tea; Kilroy had gone for a hip flask. “I'm still wondering why Lindsay was involved---”
Kilroy nearly spit out the contents of the flask. “Can we not mention her, please?!”
“But she keeps turning up, when she's least expected---or wanted, even!”
“Chalk it up to a bizarre cosmic joke, if you must....she's not a part of some master plan to make the Doctor's lives hell.” Kilroy shook his head at the thought. “River would find that prospect amusing...or annoying, on a bad day---whatever the case, it's nothing like that, I think. In any case, her presence in this whole thing has only been.....a distraction, if anything. Anyway, speaking of distractions, I think it's time we make like John and Paul suggested, get back to where we once belong and all that.”
“A very wise decision,” the Curator agreed. “I must admit, this whole thing has been.....fascinating.”
“Not 'incredible' or 'epic'?” Kilroy replied, smirking.
“Fascinating,” the Curator repeated. “I have a feeling that this isn't the last time the Doctor will cross paths with Dracula....hopefully, neither of us will need to interfere when or if the Count returns again. For now, I think we, just like the Doctor, have earned our respite.”
“Best idea I've heard all day,” Kilroy agreed.
By the time the TARDIS had returned to Exeter, things had, surprisingly, begun to calm down---or at the very least, they were returning to some semblance of normalcy (if one can claim to feel “normal” after seeing a castle floating in the sky). As the Doctor had expected, Jack and River had taken it upon themselves to see to the evacuation of the “guests” by way of calling in the RAF and UNIT, both of whom were able to retrieve everyone from the floating landmass without difficulties.
The landmass (and the castle) itself, on the other hand.....
“...so it just disappeared.”
As soon as he'd landed at the Devon and Exeter Constabulary, the Doctor had been summoned to join Lauden and Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart in a conference room; either something's gone wrong, he surmised, or they need my help to get rid of the giant floating castle. Instead of either option, he sat and listened as they explained to him that the castle had, for lack of a better term, vanished.
“We thought it was going to hit the Thames, at first,” the Brigadier admitted. “But it was the damndest thing, Doctor....that giant floating mass it was on started to hit the water, and then those mists began to roll in!”
“By the time they cleared away,” Lauden finished, “it was gone. The castle, the landmass....all gone.”
The Doctor steepled his fingers. “But all of the guests had been evacuated by then....right?”
Lauden nodded. “Harkness and Miss Song had handled the vast majority of the legwork for that...we weren't able to retrieve their vehicles, but all of them will be reimbursed, as soon as possible.”
“Lindsay vanished as well,” the Brigadier added. “Not with the castle, mind you....she was taken into police custody shortly after everyone was evacuated, and caused....a bit of a disturbance, when she was taken down to the cells...a few minutes later, some of my men went to retrieve her, so that she could be deported, and she'd simply disappeared.”
“I have a feeling her vanishing act is far more mundane,” the Doctor muttered. “Also, you may want to----”
“We already disposed of the toilet rolls from her cell, Doctor.”
“....good call. Very good call.” The Doctor chuckled. “I never really expected it to get this far, if I'm honest...I knew I'd have to face Dracula, but....the aftermath of it all, the end-game.....it was something I never really tried to picture.”
The Brigadier and Lauden exchanged concerned looks. “Ah, Doctor....there are a few things we still need to sort out before you leave,” Lauden admitted. “And before you even ask, I'm not going to use this as a pretense to arrest you.” Noting the Brigadier's confused look, he quickly added “The Doctor's been watching one too many clichéd cop shows on television.”
“You didn't have to bring that up,” the Time Lord mused. “But anyway....whatever you need me to do, just point the way, and I'll do it.”
“UNIT will be assisting as well, obviously,” the Brigadier informed him. “A lot of parties are interested in what's happened here, and you'll need someone to run damage control---and to make sure the clinics are shut down, across the country.” He shuddered at the thought. “Utterly abhorent....those clockwork things taking people's skin, their organs---”
“We can discuss that aspect of the cleanup operation later,” Lauden advised. “For now, we have just bit of work to do before this whole thing can officially be declared 'finished'.”
The Doctor nodded. “Might as well get to it, then.....”
“.....are you serious?”
Lucia stared at the paperwork before her, going over every detail. “After everything that's happened, all that I was doing alongside Graaf---”
“Who just so happens to be nothing more than dust now,” Danielle added. “Thanks to you.”
The vampire rolled her eyes, but continued. “.....you seriously think this is going to work?”
“Seeing as how you'll be living with Janos, and working with Father Wyngarde to curtail your, ah, unusual diet, I don't really have any problems with it. And for the record, you can't be charged with murdering Graaf, because technically---”
“He was already dead, I get it....” Lucia leaned back in the chair across from Lauden's desk, frowning.
“For the record,” Danielle informed her, “I personally recommended you for this.” The damage to her face (and every other inch of her flesh that had been seared off by the flamethrower blast) was no longer apparent; with a bit of help from UNIT and the Doctor, she'd been given a new, artificial skin covering that felt 99.9991% similar to human skin with none of the drawbacks (sweat, zits, etc.). “And it's not like Dracula's going to pop up in a storm drain and entice you to return to him, or anything.....”
“....so you really think I'd make a good police officer?” Lucia inquired. “You actually want me to do this?”
The chair next to Lauden's whirled around---and then turned the full 360 degrees, much to the chagrin of its occupant; “Seriously, can these things ever stop when I want them to?!” the Doctor groaned. “Give me a sec, just hang on....okay, it's stopped.....” The chair came to a halt, allowing the Time Lord to face Lucia directly. “If you'd stayed with Dracula,” he informed her, “you more than likely would've been destroyed in the process of carrying out his orders...”
“Like Graaf did,” Lucia realized. “It makes a lot more sense, when you put it that way.”
“Well, at the very least, you've taken the first step towards atonement for any misdeeds you committed under Dracula's orders,” the Doctor reminded her. “And if any of his 'acolytes' show up again to cause problems, you might even be the one who takes them down.”
Lauden politely cleared his throat. “She'll probably be starting out with cases of a less...personal nature---”
“So you're actually giving me a badge, then?” Lucia cut in. “I'm not being charged with anything?”
“....Father Wyngarde and Janos have both vouched for you,” Lauden informed her. “And Harkness was most insistent in his appraisals of your actions in the castle....he could've done without the graphic description of what you did to Graaf, but the point still stands. I wholeheartedy believe, Lucia, that you can overcome your past indiscretions by serving the public good....” He adjusted his reading glasses on his nose. “The question is, do you think you can?”
Lauden nodded, extending his hand. “Welcome to the Metropolitan Police Force, Miss....”
“Kolyana. Lucia Kolyana.” Lucia shook the Chief Inspector's hand. “I stopped using my surname when I was 'recruited' by Dracula.....I think it's time I started using it again.”
“Your training begins in three days---I suggest you ask Father Wyngarde to help you sort out your affairs.”
“Not a problem, Chief Inspector.”
“....and as soon as her training ends, she'll be a regular officer of the Metro Police!” The Doctor grinned. “A pretty good ending for what might've been a tragic story, don't you agree?”
“It's a lot better than watching her get staked,” Sarah Jane Smith admitted, “especially after she helped us in the castle....I just hope she can keep the more...bizarre aspects of her life from being made public. The papers would be all over it if word got out!”
“Seeing as how they're all trying to figure out how to cover the sudden appearance of a floating castle,” the Time Lord replied, “and the just-as-sudden disappearance of that same castle....I think Lucia can rest easy for now.” He chuckled. “As for you, Miss Sarah Jane Smith, I have to admit: you've stayed calm, collected and rather cool under pressure throughout this little adventure....”
Sarah Jane gave a brief laugh. “I've never been one to run away, screaming, when things go pear-shaped.”
“An admirable quality in a journalist, to be sure....speaking of which---”
“The paper won't take the story,” Sarah Jane sighed. “Too 'sensationalist' for them, apparently....”
The Doctor frowned. “They do know that there was a castle floating over London just a few hours ago....”
“They're still trying to work that part out, to be honest. Some are already spinning it to be something from a film, or a publicity stunt....but who in their right mind would believe that?”
“Eh, Pink Floyd used to have inflatable pigs floating above their stage at concerts....people do strange things to get attention, sometimes.” The Doctor shrugged. “In any case, it's been an honor and a privilege to work alongside you, Miss Smith.” He shook Sarah Jane's hand with both of his own; “Hopefully, someday, we might even be able to work together again!” he added, grinning.
“As long as there aren't vampires involved,” Sarah Jane replied.
“Hopefully not....and, ah, just a quick heads-up: I may not look the same the next time I see you. And not just in terms of weight lost or gained, or anything like that---I mean I literally might not be the same person---”
“I've read your file, Doctorr,” Sarah Jane interjected. “Regenerative cycle, two hearts, all that stuff.”
“.....seriously, does UNIT just hand that information out to everyone who calls to ask about me?” the Time Lord muttered, scowling. “....eh, forget it---and since you haven't fainted at the thought of working alongside an 'alien lifeform' like myself, I can only assume that you've come to terms with it.”
“I prefer to think of it as international cooperation,” Sarah Jane replied. “Besides, it helps that you look, well...”
“Human?” the Doctor finished, chuckling. “I'll take that as a compliment, under these circumstances....anyway, I have to be off---things to do, people to see, worlds to explore, all that great stuff.”
“Ah, one more thing,” Sarah Jane called out, jogging to catch up with the Doctor as he walked away.
“....thank you. For everything. Even for barging into my room at the Xanadu....” Sarah Jane shook her head at the memory of it. “I just....if it hadn't been for that---”
“I get it,” the Doctor assured her. “And you're welcome.” He grinned, turned on his heel and headed for the exit of the constabulary. “Happy times and places, Sarah Jane Smith!” he called out.
“And to you, Doctor!” Sarah Jane shouted back. “Be safe!”
Emma was nearly asleep by the time the Doctor returned to the TARDIS---but the snap of his fingers and the closing of the TARDIS doors was enough to rouse her from her half-slumber. “.....you're back,” she muttered, “finally.....”
“You could at least pretend to be glad to see me,” the Doctor teased. “Hello to you too, by the way.”
“...I never said I wasn't glad you're here...” Emma pushed herself to a sitting position from where she'd been napping on the floor. “I'm just....this whole thing has been utterly mental, but it's also been fun, in some weird, twisted way---don't get me wrong, I never want to get kidnapped by a vampire ever again, or anything like that, but.....it's all been---”
“An adventure?” the Doctor offered.
“....something like that, yeah.” Emma couldn't help but grin. “And what's this I hear about you knocking a fireball out of the air, while fighting Dracula?”
“Chalk that one up to the power of belief,” the Doctor deadpanned. “All I had to do was find a positive focus---”
“.....the memories of my friends.” A smile formed on the Time Lord's lips. “I focused on the knowledge, the fact, that every single person who's ever traveled with me would be counting on me to not fail---and getting hit in the face with a fireball would've definitely counted as a failure...” He stopped. “It was River who told you, wasn't it?”
“To be fair,” Emma admitted, “she did say she thought you'd been vaporized.”
“Well, we can both be thankful that what she thought and what actually happened are two different things,” the Doctor mused. “In any case....Dracula is finished, Lucia's joining the police force---”
“Danielle recommended that she join---you should see how she looks with the new artificial skin, by the way, it's like she never got burned by that flamethrower at all.” The Doctor grinned. “A clockwork construct and a vampire in the Metropolitan Police Force,” he muttered, shaking his head. “It's almost cheating, if you think about it, but then again, the forces of evil never play fair, so....”
“Right, right....makes sense. And what about Jack and River?”
“They've gone their separate ways....apparently, they 'happened to run into each other' while Jack was on one of his own misadventures...they weren't really supposed to stay as long as they did—-”
“So we didn't....mess up their timeline, or anything?”
The Doctor chuckled. “I'm pretty sure River has arranged things to ensure that her timeline is impossible for anyone else to break....even me. As for Jack....he has a talent for getting out of trouble just as often as he gets into it, so I think we don't have to worry about him.....”
He strode over to the console. “....that just leaves the issue of bringing you, Emma, back home.”
Something in the tone of his voice earned him a concerned, almost fearful look. “I'm not going to forget about all of this as soon as you leave, am I?” Emma quietly asked. “I won't think this was all a dream, or some kind of rot like that....”
“If you want to forget, I'll help you forget,” the Doctor replied. “If not....you won't. Simple as that.”
“Way to suck out all the drama,” Emma teased. “Seriously, though....” She walked over to stand by the Doctor at the console....only to lean over and hug him. “Thank you.”
“....you were almost enslaved by Dracula,” the Doctor mused. “Nearly killed by him, too---”
“But you stopped him from enslaving me, and from killing me,” Emma reminded him. “Not to mention saving me from those....Arkonzynes, or whatever they were called...I mean, yes, my life was in danger a few times over the past few days, but you kept me from getting hurt, killed, enslaved or being stuck with Lindsay for more than an hour---”
The Doctor couldn't help but laugh. “So being stuck with Lindsay is worse than being hurt, killed or enslaved?”
“Pretty sure you already know the answer to that one....” Emma pulled away from the Doctor, glancing at the monitor on the TARDIS. “So this is really it, then,” she murmured. “You're bringing me back home....”
“To where you were supposed to go before the Arkonzynes sidetracked you. To anyone who may have been waiting for you, you'll have been....five minutes late, at the very least.” The Doctor threw a few levers. “While I'm thinking about it, where were you headed before you were, ah, 'introduced' to the Arkonzynes?”
Emma stared at him. “You've already forgotten?”
“I was on my way to a sodding Christmas party, Doctor!” Emma punched the Time Lord in the leg. “I told you as soon as you'd introduced yourself...I mean, yes, I was panicking at the time---being chased by aliens can do that to a person, after all....”
“So we left 2017 in December,” the Doctor mused. “Fascinating....” He circled around the console, pressing a few buttons. “....would there, by any chance, be any room at this party for....one extra guest?” He grinned.
“You are not guilt-tripping me into bringing you with me,” Emma droned, trying (and failing) to glare at him.
“I saved your life and defeated Dracula,” the Time Lord reasoned. “Personally---and pardon me for borrowing and paraphrasing an old advertising slogan---I think I deserve a break today.” He paused, regarding the console with a thoughtful look. “....not to mention the fact that I almost died---”
“Oh, all right,” Emma groaned, “you can go the sodding party with me...” Her attempt at staying angry fell apart after a few short seconds; her groan quickly faded to a laugh as she circled the console. “I was never not going to invite you, since you only saved my life at least twice---it was River and Jack who saved me from Dracula in the castle, after all---”
“And they're both my friends, so technically---”
“OI, don't push your luck!” Emma grinned. “You can be so weird sometimes, Doctor....”
“....coming from you, I'll take that as a compliment---and you may want to hang onto something.”
“Oh, this should be good...” Emma grabbed the console, grinning at the Doctor. “Ready when you are.”
“Excellent...” The Time Lord grabbed two levers and pushed them all the way forwards. “Back to 2017, and to the Christmas party you nearly missed because of the Arkonzynes,” he declared.
“Fun, food, merriment and alcoholic beverages,” Emma added. “Not that I'm going to abuse that last one...”
“I should hope not,” the Doctor chided, grinning; the VWROP, VWROP sound filled the console room.....
For three whole hours, Emma and the Doctor enjoyed partying with Emma's friends and co-workers (when asked who he was and why he was at the party with Emma, the Doctor replied that he was “a friend” and had been “passing through” before randomly meeting Emma on her way to the party), indulging in karaoke and other party games (some of which were more hilarious than others, due to more than a few of the participants being, in Emma's terms, “royally sloshed”). By the time the festivities ended, the Doctor had wished almost everyone a merry Christmas and the best of times for their new year---most of them, despite not having a clue who he was, reciprocated the sentiments.
By the time night had fallen, Emma and the Doctor were the last ones out of the building, saying their final goodbyes at a bus stop. “When and if I ever see you again, Doctor,” Emma stated, “try not to attract so much weirdness.....maybe just enough for a few hours of adventure.”
“Pretty sure I can't dial it down any,” the Doctor admitted, “but I'll do my best.” He gave a parting salute as the bus pulled up. “Happy times and places, Emma.”
“Take care of yourself, Doctor---and have a great Christmas!”
“Merry Christmas to you, too!” The Doctor waved again, watching as the bus drove off.
“Well,” he murmured, “I have a feeling she's going to have one hell of a set of stories to tell her friends, years from now....” He retrieved the fob watch from his pocket. “Speaking of friends.....”
The door to the hospital room opened, the hinges making the slightest creak. “....it's you, isn't it?” a quiet voice asked from the bed. “They told me you wouldn't make it....you were 'busy'.”
“Just had to wrap up a few things....but there was no way I was going to not be here. As soon as they told me you were awake....” A sigh. “You're probably going to hate me for asking this question---especially since it's me asking, but....how are you feeling, Emily?”
“I don't mind you asking it, Doctor...” Emily Grace Quinn smiled. “I've got to admit....it's getting better---”
“Getting better all the time?” the Time Lord teased, chuckling. “Let's just hope Macca doesn't mind anyone borrowing his lyrics to describe how they're feeling....” He took a seat by the hospital bed, sighing. “Did any of them tell you what I was 'busy' with?” he asked.
“Fighting Dracula, apparently,” Emily replied. “Were you really?”
“.....I was, yes.”
“....did you win?”
At this, the Doctor smiled. “I did. How's the scar?”
“Barely there, anymore....you can kind of see it if you squint, but....” Emily shrugged. “Why do you ask?”
“Because,” the Doctor replied, “I couldn't bear the thought of you in constant pain.” He sighed. “I was at a Christmas party, before I got here,” he admitted. “Emma....a girl I ran into, rescued from the Arkonzynes---”
“You don't have to apologize, Doctor,” Emily laughed. “You're here, now....that's all I could ask for.”
“...thanks.” The Doctor leaned over to kiss Emily's forehead. “Merry Christmas, Emily Grace Quinn.”
“.....it's July, right now.....but merry Christmas to you, too, Doctor.”
Merry Christmas, doctorwhotoys.net!
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