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07 May 2008 @ 03:59 pm
Fic: Spirits  
Title: Spirits

Author: wiccagirl24

Disclaimer: The BBC owns everything Charles Dickens doesn't. Me? I just own the voices in my head (or maybe they own me?)

Spoilers: References to Curse of Fenric, Ghost Light and Survival. Also the Big Finish Audio The Rapture

Rating: Teen (a bit of swearing, one use of the F word) Also, implied character death (not a main character)

Summery: Christmas is not the only time the Spirits of past, present and future make themselves known. Ace is shown something she needs to see by an unusual cast of Spirits.

A/N: This comes from a prompt was to rewrite Dicken's A Christmas Carol. It was suggested to use something other than 'Christmas.' I did. Thanks to talcat for the Brit checking.




“I have to... I’m sorry, I have to go.” Ace bolted from the chippy, ignoring the startled looks of the other customers and Dave’s attempts to call her back. She ran hard, dodging the people, dust bins and lights that littered the pavement. The TARDIS was in the park, only a dozen yards away, and she headed straight for it. She didn’t notice the car until the irate driver slammed on his breaks and blared his horn. Ace didn’t slow down to apologize. She didn’t stop until she reached the familiar blue door and quickly unlocked it.

“That didn’t take very long. I hope you remembered the...” The Doctor looked up from the panel of the console he had taken apart. His teasing smile slid into a frown. “Ace?”

“I changed my mind about the sandwiches and chips. I’m not hungry.” Ace took deep gulps of air, trying to steady her breathing. She couldn’t look the Doctor in the eye, and instead focused on the wires poking out of the console. The flux capacitor was on the fritz again. “I’ll be in my room unless you need an extra hand fixin’ that.”

She made it half way across the console room before she was stopped by a hand encircling her wrist. “You have many talents, Ace, but hiding your emotions is not one of them. Will you tell me what’s troubling you?”

“London is a naff town, too close to Perivale for my taste.” Once he would have continued asking questions until he got the answers and she would have kept silent as a matter of principle, but they had both learned. That didn’t mean she didn’t have to work up to the telling, though. “I ran into an old mate of mine at the chip shop.”

“Someone from Perivale,” he deduced. The hand on her wrist moved to her shoulder as he pulled her closer. Ace briefly closed her eyes and rested one hand on his chest, feeling the double beat of his hearts pulsing against her palm. Tactile proof of his living, and she took comfort from the knowledge.

“I haven’t seen him since I was sixteen; don’t know if I would have even recognized him if he hadn’t of had his name stitched on his shirt. Dave knew me right off.”

“You’re not an easy person to forget,” he said with a smile.

“We exchanged the usual what’s what and all that. He still keeps up with a few of the old gang. Shreela’s got herself a job here in town, working at the hospital. Dave said...” The words echoed in her ears, but she couldn’t seem to get them to pass her lips. An understanding squeeze of her shoulder and a deep breath, and she forced them out in a rush. “...said ‘e was sorry to hear about my mum.”

“Audrey?”

“She’s in the oncology ward, Dave said. Shreela....” It was too much. Ace pulled away and wrapped her arms around herself. “I can’t do this, can’t let her pull me down again. Every time I see her I turn into this girl who is angry and hateful and lost. I’m not that person anymore.”

“You don’t have to decide anything right now.” The Doctor brushed his hand against one of her cheeks. “A spot of tea and a bit of a kip, and things may be clearer in the morning.”

“Come morning I hope we’re ready for an adventure on the other side of the galaxy.” Something with lots of running and blowing things up, and little time for thinking, she hoped.

“If tomorrow morning comes and that’s what you want, then I’m sure we can come up with just the right spot. And if you desire a visit with your mother...”

“I won’t,” Ace interjected.

“If you change your mind, just know that you don’t have to go alone.” He took her hand and led her down the corridor to the kitchen. Perhaps instead of tea he would take an old friend’s advice for times of trouble and make hot cocoa.

........

“Wake up Ace. Come on, it’s time to get up now.”

“Professor?” Ace fought her way through her dreams and back into reality. She felt like she had just fallen asleep; not even the cocoa she had drunk earlier had helped with the restlessness. Her bed was a testament to her tossing and turning, with the twisted blankets and the pillows on the floor, not to mention the girl sitting near her feet.

The girl?

“Who the bloody hell are you, and what are you doing in my room?”

“If my mum could hear you now, she’d be threatening you with a mouthful of soap.”

In the half light it was impossible to make out much more than a basic form and a long black braid, but Ace recognized the voice immediately. It was impossible. “Manisha?”

“In the flesh, which is a bit strange after all this time.” The laugh was even more familiar than the voice had been. “I haven’t had an actual body since... well I guess you know that.”

“You’re dead.” Ace fumbled for the lamp next to her bed, half expecting the form at the end of her bed to disappear when the light turned on. She was still there, looking exactly as she had all those years ago in Perivale. She even had the same ratty friendship bracelet tied around one wrist, and wore a familiar purple jumper.

“Keen as ever, mate. And before you ask, no you’re not dead. It’s been close a time or ten, though. You should be more careful.”

Ace ignored the chastisement. “What are you doing here?”

“Do you remember the year we were twelve, and we went to that panto in London with the rest of the school?”

“We tried to skive off, but Miss Watkins caught us in the hallway and watched us like a hawk for the whole performance,” Ace remembered. “Christmas Carol, waddinit?”

“Got it in one. Anyway, it turns out Dickens knew what he was talking about.” At Ace’s puzzled look, Manisha elaborated. “Just call me Marley.”

“You’re joking.” The Professor was right fond of Dickens - hoped to meet him one day - and just last Christmas he had read the whole of Scrooge’s story aloud while she had decorated the tree. She had liked the story then, especially as he had done all the voices, but had no wish to act it out in her own life.

“Nope. Don’t ask me who, but someone apparently thinks you need a bit of an eye opening.” Manisha prowled the room, picking up bits and pieces that were lying out. She smiled when she picked up an old snapshot of the two of them, right next to a photo of Ace and the Doctor.

“I’m not a scrooge.” It wasn’t fair, really. Didn’t she spend the better part of her days helping people and stopping bad guys? If she was going to get a chance to see her best friend once more - even if it was a weird dream - couldn’t it be for conversation over a cuppa?

“Never said you were. Greed was his thing. You’ve got a different lesson to learn.”

“I don’t want to learn a lesson, I want to go back to sleep.”

“You know the drill, Ace. I’d say that the first ghost appears at the strike of one, but you’ve only got a digital clock and ringing the cloister bell would be slight overkill.” The carved elephant Manisha had been holding slipped through not quite solid fingers as she started to fade away.

“Oi! Don’t do that. You have to tell me what I’m supposed to learn, don’t you? Can’t you just...”

“Sorry, Doro. They only gave me a little bit of time, and I’ve used it all up.” She smiled sadly. “Take care, my friend.”

“”Nisha!” Ace jumped out of the bed, but it was too late. The room was empty and she was once again alone. She turned off the light and flopped back down on the bed, burying her head under the pillows.

.....

“Front and center, Ace. We have places to be so no dilly dallying.”

With the pillow still over her head the voice was muffled, but Ace refused to remove it. “You’re a figment of my imagination. I’m not listening to you.”

“If that’s the way you insist on going at this.”

Suddenly she was falling, her bed gone from under her. Before she could brace for the impact she was on the floor. A white linoleum floor that was most definitely not her bedroom carpet. “Oi! What did you do that for?”

“Expediency. Now come along.”

Ace looked up and found that the man holding out his hand was Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. Great. “You’re not a ghost. T’ be a ghost you have to be dead, and the Professor would be upset if you were dead.”

“I am not dead, nor am I a ghost. I’m simply being borrowed for a little while, if I understand things correctly. Tomorrow when I wake up I’ll simply think this is a weird dream. Doris will be amused. Now come along.” The Brig helped her up before heading down a corridor at a fast walk. Ace had to run to catch up.

“Where are we?” A hospital, that much was obvious as they passed open doorways. The rooms were full of sterile whiteness, standard institutional beds and medical equipment. At least she wouldn’t look too odd in her nightshirt and bare feet.

“You’ll see when we get there.” One more twist in the halls and they arrived, walking into a room that Ace was surprised to find occupied. There was a red headed woman sitting on a hard wooden chair and a chavey blond in the bed. The blond was holding a baby. Neither woman noticed the two new additions to the room.

“Brig?” Ace asked curiously.

“We’re only here to watch, not to interfere. Though we can see them, they can not see or hear us,” he answered. “Feel free to move about as much as you like.”

Ace waved one arm widely in the air. When the gesture wasn’t noticed she moved closer the bed, her attention drawn by the baby. It was tinier than any she had seen before, and looked almost like a doll.

“What are you going to name her?”

Intently looking at the pale blue eyes that had just fluttered open, Ace started when the woman next to her spoke.

“We ‘aven’t decided for sure yet. Harry’s leaning towards Michelle, but I’ve always liked the name Dorothy.”

“Dorothy?” For the first time Ace took a good look at the woman in the bed. She’s young, and without the sheen of makeup she always wore, but it is unmistakably Audrey McShane she is looking at. And the baby had to be... “That’s me?”

“Dorothy?” The visitor unknowingly repeated Ace’s question. “Where’d you come up with that?”

“Wizard of Oz,” Ace and Audrey both said at the same time.

“Stupid reason to name a kid,” Ace muttered.

“That’s the Judy Garland movie about rainbows, innit?”

“It’s about a girl who escapes her dreary life and finds a great adventure.” Audrey stared out the hospital window. “I swore t’ myself I’d go on a great adventure like Dorothy did, and look at me now. Twenty miles from where I grew up, living in a tiny flat and working at Tesco’s. Maybe if I start her with a proper name my kid’ll turn out different.”

“It’s still a naff name,” Ace said, but she watched Audrey’s finger stroke a tiny hand until the room faded away.

A moment later she found that she and the Brig were standing in a bedroom. With the shades drawn and none of the lights on it was hard to make out any features of the room.

“Mummy?” The bedroom door was opened, letting in a little light from the hall. Whereas Ace hadn’t recognized the baby in the hospital, the child in the doorway was instantly familiar. Her blond hair was tangled, she was dressed in blue pajamas, and she carried a small stuffed cat.

“His name was Sooty,” she remembered, looking at the stuffed animal. She had fallen asleep clutching the toy every night until she was eight, when he had disappeared. Audrey had claimed she was too old by then to sleep with a stuffed toy; Ace didn’t think it was a coincidence.

“Mummy?” The child Ace had been stepped into the room and stood at the foot of the bed. She must have been about six, Ace realized. She remembered wearing those jim-jams on sleep aways at Manisha’s house.

The figure on the bed shifted and spoke wearily. “Go back to bed, Doro.”

“I’s scared, Mummy. Noises woked me up.”

“Do you remember this night?” the Brig asked.

“Should I? It doesn’t seem to be anything special.” Could have been the last time she had admitted to her mother that she was scared, Ace thought. They didn’t share emotions often in her memories.

“It was just the phone ringing.” This time when Audrey spoke Ace could tell it wasn’t just tiredness that affected her voice. There was something else. A bedside lamp was turned on and Ace saw that her mum’s eyes were puffy and red. There were a few shredded tissues lying next to her on the quilt.

The little girl clambered onto the bed and tentatively touched one tear-streaked cheek. “Wot’s wrong, Mummy?”

“Your Gran...” Audrey reached out and picked up the child, holding her in her lap. Ace suddenly remembered this night, and how she had clung to her mother for comfort. Looking at her mum now it looked more like the woman was drawing comfort from the child. “Your Gran’s died.”

“She was our only family, my Gran.” Ace stared at the pair on the bed and listened to as the woman tried to explain death to a six year old child. She hadn’t understood than, and had spent weeks waiting for her grandmother to come visit her. “We had dinner with her every Sunday, and she always gave me a bag of biscuits to take home. Things changed after she died.”

“You come from strong stock, Ace.” The Brig stood in the corner of the room, his eyes more on her than the grieving mother and daughter.

“My Gran was strong. She survived war and Fenric and raising a kid on her own when she was widowed. My mum always wanted someone else to take all the responsibility, and never went long without a man in her bed.” She’d always seemed more interested in her boyfriends than her daughter. Ace had told herself she didn’t care, and had spent as much time away from the flat as possible.

“It’s not always easy to be alone.” As the Brig spoke the room flickered around them. When it steadied again they were still in the same room but the bed was empty. There were other changes too - different curtains, different paint on the wall. Different time.

“Where is...”

“I don’t want to talking to a bleeding desk Sergeant, I want to talk to someone in charge.” Even from the other end of the flat, Audrey’s voice was loud and clear.

“Mum voluntarily talking to a copper? That’s different.” Ace lead the way out of the room and through a narrow hall to the kitchen where Audrey was still on the phone.

“No you won’t give ‘im a bloody message. It’s been a week since I left the last one and he still hasn’t called back. He’ll talk to me now or I’ll come down there and get in his sodding face and make him talk to me.”

“Wot’s got her so bothered? Somebody clamp her car?” Ace asked offhandedly.

“It might have something to do with this.” The Brig picked up a piece of paper from the table and held it out to her. Funny. Ace hadn’t thought of trying to touch anything in this dream/hallucination/what ever the hell it was. She took the proffered piece of paper.

It was a police report for a missing person. Dorothy Gale McShane, disappeared 13 September, 1986. The calendar on the wall told her that it was October now.

“Maybe if you didn’t spend all your time stuffing your face with doughnuts you’d have time to find out what happened to my daughter.” The phone was slammed down with enough force that it was a surprise when it didn’t break. “Rat bastards. You’ve all decided she’s just a runaway, and don’t give a toss.”

Audrey fidgeted with a package of fags, finally pulling one out and lighting it with a lighter. She leaned heavily against a wall and closed her eyes. “I hope their right, Doro. I hope you’re holed up in some dingy flat in London with a couple of mates or bumming around Europe with a backpack. ‘s better than lying in a ditch somewhere dead.”

When she opened her eyes again Ace thought for a moment her mum was looking directly at her. Audrey turned and flicked the ash of her fag into the sink.

“Not dead. A bit farther than London, though.” She’d given little consideration over the years to what her mum had thought of her disappearance. If anything she had assumed that Audrey had been relieved. By the time she was fifteen most of their conversations had been arguments and they had been more like two strangers living in the same flat then mother and daughter. The last proper talk Ace remembered having was a week after Manisha had died, three year before she had left.

The room started to darken and fade away.

“Is that the end, Brig? I’m pretty much done with this whole memory lane thing.” She was tired, more tired than she had been when she had fallen asleep.

“My job’s done.” The room was completely gone now, and the Brig was the only one standing with her in the darkness. “You still have two more to go tonight.”

“Can’t I break ‘em up a bit? Take the rest next week?” Maybe by then she would be far enough way from here that what ever was making this happen wouldn’t be able to find her.

“Afraid not, Ace. Better to get it all done at once anyway.”

“But I...” Without warning the Brig was gone, and Ace was alone. “Brig? Brigadier?”

She paced the empty dark space restlessly. It was times like these she wouldn’t mind being like her namesake, if it meant she could tap her heels together and be back in the TARDIS. “Oi. Whoever’s next in this naff little play would you just show up now so’s we can get it over with already? I don’t want to be here.”

“I don’t want to be here either.” He appeared behind her, a boy in a traditional English public school uniform with a stock of bright red hair.

Ace narrowed her eyes suspiciously. She’d known Manisha, and though she’d only met him a few times she knew the Brig. Why, all the sudden, would her subconscious invent someone new in this dream world of hers? “Don’t suppose that means we can skip this next part.”

“We could if there wasn’t the distinct possibility of someone watching us.”

“Bugger all,” Ace sighed. It had been worth a try. “Alright, show me whatever it is they want me to see.”

“I’m Turlough, by the way.” He tilted his head up a little as he spoke. “I used to...”

“I don’t really care.” Ace crossed her arms. She had a fair idea what was coming, and no way to run away and avoid it.

“Right pleasure to be around, you are,” he snapped. “Just my luck to get stuck with someone who makes Tegan seem as sweet as a lolly.”

A table appeared next to Turlough, followed by a chair, a bit of flooring, a kitchen. They were back in her mum’s flat. Ace looked around expectantly, but there was no sign of her mum.

“She’s not here,” Turlough said.

“Thank you, Captain Obvious. So why’d you bring me here?”

“Read the mail.” Turlough flopped down on the sofa and picked up a magazine, which he proceeded to flip through.

“Like I want to go through someone else’s bloody mail,” Ace muttered. There was a stack of opened letters at one end of the table, though, and she picked them up. Visa bill. Postcard advertising a new beauty shop on town. A still-sealed letter from a doctor’s office - no way in hell she was opening that. A wedding announcement. A card from...

A wedding announcement. Ace read the fancy script on the parchment paper.

Mr and Mrs Level.... Proud to announce... Daughter Brigit.... To Liam McShane...

The wedding had taken place six months ago, but the announcement was postmarked last week. Liam had been married without any family present. Ace wondered if he had send the letter to their mum to let her know, or if his new wife had done it. She wondered if he had wished his sister had been there.

“Are you done yet?”

“Cool your jets.” She read the announcement over again, taking in the details. They’d been married in a village church down south, near Nottingham, on the eleventh of May. May was a good month for weddings. The invitation was pretty posh; she wondered if that meant her brother had worn a tux or...

“You’re the one who was in a hurry to get this over with. I was simply reminding you that we do have other places to be.” From the corner of her eye Ace could see that Turlough was tapping his fingers on the arm of the sofa. The light plopping noise of the action didn’t bother her as much as the intent way he was watching her.

“Alright then.” Ace tossed the announcement back on the table. “Do your worst.”

“It’s not like I enjoy this.” As he stood up the room seemed to spin, becoming a great blur. When it came to rights again they were standing in a hospital corridor.

“Not again,” Ace muttered. “We keep going around in circles. Can’t you take me to a nice little tea shop or summit?”

“Room 317.” Turlough nodded to the door they were positioned in front of. “I don’t make the rules, I just follow the game.”

“Bet you wouldn’t be so laid back if someone was playing This is Your Life with you.” She stood frozen in the doorway, not wanting to cross the threshold. “Well, aren’t you coming?”

“I don’t do hospitals. They... scare me.” For the first time he didn’t look haughty or annoying. He looked something like she felt.

“Turlough...”

“I’ll be waiting out here for you.” He touched her shoulder, not to nudge her into the room as she had expected, but a friendly squeeze.

Alone, she walked into the room. Though there were two beds in the room, one was empty. The other was occupied by a woman Ace never would have recognized if they had passed each other in the street.

“Mum?” Rationally Ace knew that she couldn’t be heard, but she was still surprised when Audrey didn’t speak back. She took a few slow steps towards the bed. Her mum was awake, though her eyes had a far away look in them that spoke of tiredness or medication. Or both, Ace guessed. Hr hair was cut short and a natural brown very different from the bleached blond of Ace’s memories. She was breathing oxygen through her nose and there was an IV line taped to the back of her hand.

“What’s happened to you, Mum?” Oncology, Dave had said. Cancer. “Was it the f...”

“Dinner time, Ms. McShane.” Dressed in pale pink scrubs, a woman came into the room pushing a cart.

“’m not hungry.” Audrey’s voice was raspy and low. Ace strained to make out the words.

“I know you’ve been a bit woozy from the treatment, so I brought a nice soup and some crackers.” For one terrifying moment Ace though the cart was going to be push right through where she was standing. Ace wasn’t at all interested in finding out if she was non-corporeal like a ghost. Instead the woman veered to the right a little and pushed the cart alongside a table next to the bed. Ace moved to the far corner of the room.

“I told you I wasn’t hungry, you stupid cow.” The insult came out slowly, between gasping breaths, but no less scathing than it was meant. “Get out.”

“Don’t let her talk to you like that,” Ace said. Some things never changed.

The nurse had more composure than Ace had ever possessed. “You need to eat something, Audrey. Your pills require that you have food in your stomach before you take them.”

“Not taking the bloody pills either.” Slowly, Audrey rolled over, her back to the woman. She didn’t know it but the action turned her more fully in Ace’s direction.

“As pleasant as ever, Mum, aren’t you?” But she could see the pain in Audrey’s eyes, the effort that such simple thing like rolling over took.

“Audrey...”

“Get the fuck out of my room,” Audrey shouted. It came out as a wheezing moan.

When the nurse silently took Audrey’s suggestion, Ace did too. She didn’t need to see anymore.

“Ms. McShane’s being her usual self.” There was another nurse in the hall, not far from where Turlough was waiting for her. “It’s a good thing she’s not on my schedule. I’d of told her off by now.”

“Shush.” The first nurse looked over her shoulder at the still open door. “She’s dying, Carla. If she needs to yell about it a bit I can take it.”

Dying. The fact, so plainly stated, sent Ace reeling. Dave’s tone of voice when he had spoken of her mum, seeing her mum with her own eyes; it shouldn’t be such a shock. She had know the truth. Had known, but hadn’t wanted to admit it.

“Ace.”

She had forgotten about Turlough. “Get me the hell out of here.”

He nodded silently as the hall vanished. “There’s just one more...”

“No more,” Ace said grimly. “I want to go home.”

“One more,” he repeated. Behind him the walls of the TARDIS corridor formed. They were standing just outside her bedroom door.

“Professor?” The Doctor stood in front of her door. Ace waited for him to turn and smile, to tell her that it was alright, she’d been sleepwalking and he’d come to wake her up. It had all been a dream. They could share a pot of tea and maybe he would tell her a story of a far away planet she had yet to see.

“Ace.” He whispered her name but he didn’t turn to her. He pressed his hand against the door, as if reaching for something. For long moments he stood there, unmoving. Finally he lowered his hand and turned to walk away down the corridor.

“Wait...”

“He can’t hear you, remember?” Turlough leaned against the wall across from her bedroom door.

“Has anyone ever told you that you’re a smug and irritating git?” Only when the Doctor turned a corner and disappeared from view did Ace turn around.

“Once or twice.”

“Good. Then I don’t have t’ waste my breath.” She reached for her bedroom door, but found that the knob wouldn’t turn. “Turlough?”

She tried again, twisting the knob, rattling the door. When that didn’t work she gave it a kick with her foot, forgetting that she wasn’t wearing any shoes. Her toes throbbed in protest. “Gordon Bennett. You couldn’t give me a hand, could you Turlough?”

“Turlough?” Ace looked over her shoulder, but the hallway behind her was empty. She turned back, and swore under her breath when she found that the bedroom door was gone. Not opened. Gone. In the half-light she could see herself sleeping in the bed, the blankets kicked away and one pillow gripped tightly in her grasp.

Between her and her sleeping self stood a figure a figure draped in black, a hood covering the person’s face.

“Oh, this just keeps getting better and better, don’t it.” She stepped into the room. That thing about people looking innocent in their sleep, she thought as she looked at herself, wasn’t always true. She looked fierce, ready to do battle.

Maybe she already was.

“Well let’s get the introductions over with,” she said to the figure. She didn’t receive a reply.

“You know who I am. It’s only polite to return the favour.” More silence. Ace narrowed her eyes. “Alright then, why don’t...”

The room disappeared in the blink of an eye, replaced by a cemetery.

She’d been here before. She and her mates used to pinch a six pack and prove how cool they were by sneaking into the cemetery to drink them. Manisha was buried here, along with the rest of her family. Her gran...

Kathleen Anne Dudman
April 1923 to November 1976


She was standing next to her gran’s grave. Just on the other side was a hole, six feet deep. Ace moaned. “No.”

“Poor Audrey,” someone said in a low whisper. For the first time Ace noticed that there were other people surrounding the open grave. A dozen women her mum’s age, a few whom she recognized. A few people who had been their neighbors for years, including Mrs Chandry, who used to watch her when she was little. One or two men, who might have been past boyfriends. Shreela, holding hands with a bloke Ace had never seen. And a Reverend, dressed in black.

“Didn’t she have any family?” Ace couldn’t tell who asked the question, but she recognized Wanda, a friend of her mum’s, as the one who answered.

“Her mum died years ago, and her dad was killed in the war while she was still a baby.”

“She drove her husband away,” an older woman said critically. “He took the son with him when he left.”

“Wasn’t there a daughter? I seem to remember...”

“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” The Reverend’s words silenced the questions, but Ace knew it was only a temporary reprieve.

“Bloody vultures,” Ace muttered. “Half of them are only here for the gossip.”

After one last look at the empty hole that would soon be the final resting place of Audrey McShane, Ace turned her back to everyone. The figure in black still stood there. “What about you, mate? Why are you here?”

When there was no reply Ace’s temper flared. “I didn’t want this. I never got on with my mum, but I never wanted to to end like this. But the universe doesn’t care what I want. My mum’s dying, and there’s nothing I can do about it. She’s dying and I can’t change it. If there’s anything I’ve learned from the Professor it’s that you can’t change the past to suit yourself. It only gets more mucked up. So why the hell would you make me see this?”

She was shouting loud enough that the Reverend’s speaking would have been drowned out, had anyone else been able to hear her. They couldn’t. The only person who could hear her was herself and... “Who the hell are you?”

With grim determination Ace lunged at the cloaked figure, pulling at the hood until it fell away. She stumbled backwards, her mouth hung open in shock, when she found herself face to face with herself. She was the figure in black. She had forced herself to see the future. Had she also made herself see the rest?

“What am I supposed to do?” She didn’t expect an answer.

“Go and see her. You can’t change what will happen, but you can make your peace with her. You can say good-bye.”

“I never said good-bye to her.” They’d fought, that day she’d left Perivale. She’d shouted that she hated her um and slammed the bedroom door behind her before going to work on her experiment.

“Now’s your chance.”

.....

She awoke with a jolt and found that she was about to fall off the bed. Her bed, in her room. Everything look as it should, right down to the door that nice and solid as it should be.

“It was just a dream,” she said with little conviction. Climbing out of the bed she threw on a pair of jeans and a jumper. She left her room and made her way through the TARDIS halls to the console room. She paused in the doorway, unnoticed by the Doctor who was still working on the console.

“Need a hand with that?” she offered as she crossed the room and sat on the floor at his side.

The Doctor sat up. He surveyed her for long moments before speaking. “I’m almost done with the repairs. We should be able to leave in an hour or so.”

“We’re still in London, then.” She had know they would be, even before she had left her room.

“Still in London,” he confirmed. “But I was thinking of setting the coordinates for Rudhiraunda. The water there is red and...”

She placed a hand on his arm. “Sounds bril, that does. But I’ve someplace to go first. Will you come with me?”

“Visiting hours begin in at ten a.m.” The Doctor smiled as he tapped her nose with his finger. “With your help we should have time to finish the repairs and have a cup of tea before we leave for the hospital.”

“Hand me the sonic spanner, won’t you?” She leaned back to look at the underside of the console. After handing her the requested tool the Doctor laid down next to her, their shoulders touching. Ace rolled her head to the side and looked at him speculatively. A grin slowly spread across her face. “Hey Professor, before we head off for Rudhiraunda you want to crash a wedding with me?”