[identity profile] noblealice.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] sonic_tea
Title: Distractions
Author: lily_268
Summary: My idea of where the Doctor went in the brief span of time between leaving Martha in The Lazarus Experiment and reappearing in her bedroom. Post BDM in the Firefly-verse
Disclaimer: Firefly and Doctor Who belong to BBC and Fox *shakes fist*.
Rating: PG
Word Count: 5000+ (yikes!)
Prompt: "Even after all this time, there are things I don't understand."
Notes: Many pinstripe-covered thanks to [livejournal.com profile] goldy_dollar who took the time to beta this and turn it into what it is now. If you like anything about this fic, it is due to her influence and skill.

Inara had been commissioned to entertain on more than one cruise ship, taking her to more than a few Core planets. She had seen her fair share of elaborate dining rooms and banquet halls during her career.

She thought that she had seen everything. Which made this party celebrating another wrinkled man’s riches seem horridly long and boring. She glanced at the crystal clock again, counting down the seconds. Across the room, Chancellor Nortbel smugly crowed about his exploitation of mine shaft workers.

He was bragging about how he had stifled another strike and increased his profits. She was confident that if she heard another word from the withered lips of her host, she would need more than tea to calm her.

Turning to talk to Linsong, she smiled and relaxed her muscles, returning to the model of decorum she was hired to resemble. During their conversation, Inara deliberately angled her face towards the security desk, noting each change on the scrolling monitors, and watching for a flashing red light. She kept the Chancellor in view out of the corner of her eye, her senses alert for trouble so she could quickly warn the crew.

Despite her excellent reflexes, Inara was stunned when the crystal clock on the wall fell from its place and crashed to the ground, shattering into pieces. Quickly following it was a tall, skinny man in a long brown coat babbling apologies to the nearest survivor.

He ran to the stage and manically yelled into the microphone that everyone should run for their lives, sooner rather than later.

Noone moved from their stance in the hall. The only movement was his frantic hair-pulling. Inara hoped he wasn’t having a heart attack.

“Didn’t you hear me?” Bellowed his commanding voice, which was growing frustrated. “You all must leave.” With a grunt and curse he rooted around in his pockets, looking for something. Catching a glimpse of the emergency sprinklers, he grinned as he pointed the small object from his pocket up at the ceiling, a blue light glinting off the crystal shards on the ground. He seemed exasperated with their frozen silence and his face made clear that drastic measures were needed.

Water from the emergency sprinkles cascaded down from the ceiling. He looked happy to see that it jolted the guests back to life as they scurried to cover their expensive silks. Crowds gathered in small alcoves, jumping back from the puddles that were forming. Inara paused to help an elderly woman, who had slipped on the wet floor.

She ended up near enough to the stranger to hear his crazed groans while jabbing at the wall. Soon enough the water dried up and only errant drops of water fell to the floor. An authoritative woman with auburn hair stormed over to where Inara was standing.

“This is chaos. Who exactly are you?” She pointed an enraged finger at the stranger.

He turned away from the wall paneling, which he was trying to rip out, “I’m the Doctor, hello.” He waved. “Who are you?”

Indignant, she sputtered out, “I’m Katharine Trudeau, organiser of Chancellor Nortbel’s party.”

“Really, any relation to…” He looked from her upturned nose to the haughty collar of her outfit, “No, no, of course not.”

Slightly bewildered, she puffed herself up to her full importance. “This party is for Heads of State only.”

The Doctor scrambled for something in his coat pocket.

“And their guests.” Her voice was strong and compassionate. One that never wavered with superfluous emotion.

“What?” Demanded Katharine.

“He’s my guest.” Recognition fell across the woman’s hard face as she looked closer at Inara. Inara’s eyes were on the Doctor, his back turned to them, leaving the two women to work it out as he pulled screws from the wall in his attempt to release the ship’s computer panel from behind the gauzy fabric.

“Ah, Miss Serra, your reputation precedes you; of course every courtesy will be made for you.” She clasped her hands with a sugary smile but released her next words with slow venom. “However, I don’t recall the last political office you held, which returns me to my point that this man in unwelcome here.”

“I was invited by the Chancellor to dance.”

Katharine brought a hand to her lips with a faint gasp. She tried to retain her composure as she whispered urgently, “Given the rumours of you leaving the House, it was thought you had gone into retirement.”

“He is a very old friend. Imagine how insulted he would feel if he learned that respect was not given to me by his staff.” The Doctor paused from his destruction long enough to pass a curious glance along her body. For some reason, this simple inspection felt more penetrating than some of her client’s most lustful stares.

“Now, I believe that some young girls are recovering from their delicate fainting spells just in time to realise that their dresses are being ruined. Surely there must be a more pressing matter that needs your attention.”

“Yes, well, the staff needs to be managed of course,” Katharine murmured to herself as she glided away. And then she turned back, eyes pleading, “Miss Serra, will you still dance? To calm everyone’s nerves?”

The Doctor burst in. “Hardly the time, don’t you think?”

“There are no exits; we can’t afford a panic spreading. I could explain away the showers as faulty effects for Meng Chiang-nu, the Mourning Wife. I’m sure the band has the music for it. That is, if you will dance it, Miss. Serra.”

“Hold on, did you say no exits?” The Doctor interrupted again.

“It was to protect the politicians from dangerous terrorists and pesky reporters. They’ve gotten worse after the Miranda incident, always hounding us, flooding the office with waves and the like—“

The Doctor interrupted her a third time, this time with a growl. “Bureaucratic humans, always the same whenever you go. You know that the media are supposed to help maintain a system of checks and balances, right?”

“Well, they are a damned nuisance while they are at it. Besides, the Alliance isn’t a democracy, the work we do to control everyone is for their best interest.”

“You remind me of someone I used to know.” He muttered, his face dark.

Inara lifted her hands up to silence both of them. “I will dance, but only to settle the crowd. We can’t have any violence. When will the doors open?”

“They are scheduled to be reattached to the docking bay in two hours.”

“Can’t you call the station and tell them it’s an emergency?”

“It seems that something has occurred in the control room. No one is answering my waves.”

The Doctor looked at his feet guiltily.

“Well, please, spread the word while I prepare.” Inara watched Katharine scurry across the floor to the largest cluster of people, her arms spread wide.

“Now that she’s gone, Doctor, please, tell me what you’re doing.” She cast a doubting eye over all the wire he had pulled out.

By now he had effectively revealed the inner mechanics of the ship, bringing up a vid screen that was running diagnostics. He pointed to a small image that enlarged to show the schematics of a generator.

“Nuclear reactor, filled with millions of unstable neutrons flying all over the place, bumping into one another in a completely random sequence. Natural miracle, really, but it creates a lot of heat and grows as a chain reaction unless controlled. How to control these seemingly abstract patterns of collision? That’s the question, isn’t it? You don’t!”

Seeming to sense her alarm, he hurried on with his explanation.

“Now, don’t get panicked, you just have to find something to absorb the neutrons! Lovely bit of science! Only problem occurs when the energy isn’t used and stays in the tub of neutrons, creating more and more heat until there’s an explosion. Lucky for you, I showed up. It’s a simple fix, really. I just need to flood the nuclear core before it reaches the heat threshold.”

He leaned closer to her ear. “Between you and me, we definitely don’t want that. That’s a one-way ticket to explosion central, spewing shrapnel and radiation off into space. Leaving nothing larger than some scraps to identify the wreckage for what it once was. Once the chamber hits that threshold, there’s nothing we can do.”

Inara froze.

“Oo, bit of a Debbie Downer today, aren’t I? Not to worry!” The Doctor straightened up again.

“I’ll flood all the lower levels with heavy water, too! Then I need to find some good old fashioned Xenon to poison the water with. The chemicals should help absorb the extra radiation and slow the chain reaction. If we get people out in time, they should be safe and everyone can go on home happy as clams.”

“And if you were to wait?” Inara’s face had grown pale during his fast-paced speech.

“Ever hear of a tiny little blip called Arnpresse?” His eyes scrunched up like he was doing calculations in his head.

“Hmm, right, still 5000 years off from that aren’t you? Good thing too, because instead of little happy clams there are giant snapping clams and it’s not as tasty as the seafood restaurants would have you believe. I mean, you’re meal is radioactive, glowing and trying to pinch your nose while you’re eating your salad. It’s quite distracting.”

After taking in her blank expression, he turned back to his pile of wires. “Speaking of distracting, I really should get back to shutting down the system.”

“Can’t you wait?” She asked again, touching his arm.

He paused now, and looked into her eyes. His voice was barely audible as he moved her hand to hold in his own. “Why?”

“The people here get alarmed easily and--”

With a quick shake of his head he silenced her words. “You see, normally I just loooove a thrilling mystery, like for example, why you don’t want me to do this simple thing to save everyone’s lives. I’m good at saving lives, even made it a profession of sorts. So the intriguing thing is - why would someone stop me?” He narrowed his eyes at her, moving his face closer, his right hand still grasping hers.

“Curious as a cat, I am, although, I must say that I am not really a fan of the species.Not so bad when they’re kittens, mind you, but then you have to watch out for that one in a wimple teleporting you away from your destination to say goodbye to a face in a jar. Rather unruly creatures, wouldn’t you say?”

Inara shot a stern look at the Doctor.

“Right, where was I going with this? Oh right, surprises! Very fun thing, except when I’m in a rush, in which case, it’s very very bad.” His voice lowered to a rumble.

Defeated, she relaxed her hand and he dropped it, his own falling to his side. “There are people down there.”

Taking out a pair of glasses from an inside pocket, the Doctor inspected the numbers flying across the screen.

“Sensors don’t say anything.”

“That’s because the system has been rigged not to register them. It would a little difficult appraising the Chancellor’s private bonds if their presence was announced.”

“Appraising?” He questioned, rolling the word around on his tongue. “You don’t look like the sort of woman to consort with appraisers, Miss Serra.” She couldn’t ignore the emphasis he put on her name.

She excused herself quietly, retreating towards the stage. Before she was out of hearing distance, she lightly called back to him, “Please, they can’t…you must be able to find a way out for them. I need them to be safe.”

“Understood.” He gave a solemn nod. “Now that I know what I’m looking for, I should be able to find them in a jiffy and guide them to a higher level so I can still flood the generator. Everything will be right as rain!” His enthusiastic smile did nothing to help the growing knot in her stomach.

She found herself scoffing. “They won’t leave until they’ve got everything.”

“Even under the threat of nuclear explosion? How very stubborn.”

“More like ‘how very stupid’.”

“Perhaps, but I doubt it. He managed to get this far, hasn’t he?”

“So long as he lives to keep going tomorrow.” She paused, wondering when they had made the switch from talking in the plural sense to an individual.

A lesser trained companion would blush.

Glasses back on, he resumed his work, diligently tapping the screen with a blue tipped silver pen. “They’re calling for you.” He said over his shoulder with another smile, this one warmer.

* * * * * * * *

The readings blinked out to him. Two and a half thousand people were working on this cruise ship, floating through space, oblivious to the imminent danger. Two and a half thousand lives in his hands, and he needed to put them at risk to save a half dozen.

With a sigh, he hoped his actions would be forgiven. Humans could be such silly little creatures. With the capacity and potential for a million different things, yet the majority still managed to squander it all. It was rare that he met a person whom he felt had actually fulfilled their potential in life. As he watched the lights play on Inara’s hair, he added another name to his small list of humans he admired.

It was almost pointless. He’d see the entirety of time and space and he knew how each of their lives would end. It was a trait of humanity to deny the failure of the body, the aging of the cells. Looking around was a perfect example of people trying to squeeze a few more years into their lifeline, trying to cheat death. Little did they know that they were draining their resources, ruining their souls with each gasping breath to fill their black hearts.

He found the emergency reservoirs in the basement and breathed a sigh of relief. He had been puzzled when he had noticed that none of the alarms had been sounded, none of the backup measures had taken place to spare these people their lives. A control tower on a nearby dock was blocking all transmissions. A political coup was planned for this impressive party, an explosion made to look accidental, all to dispose of Alliance party members that had fallen out of favour. Now, to discover that a pilfering crew was below decks trying to make off with the meant-to-be-dead-man’s money. The Doctor let out a sigh - when it rained, it poured. Sometimes he felt that he could never fully grasp human emotion, especially as he watched these men in their impressive suits condemn a ship to death.

He understood the shifting of time, the breaking down of molecules; he knew that every living thing must die eventually. He even considered letting the ship scatter into pieces with the explosion, it wouldn’t be the first time he had be responsible for the deaths of many innocent people. The TARDIS had whined while in orbit, and he’d known what he must do, what she would’ve wanted him to do. In Martha’s time period, they may have been changing what it meant to be human, but today’s humanity was the same, still unable to cope with death and he was still the same, unable to let it all pass him by.
Watching Inara dance was exhausting. His eyes strained to keep up with her liquid form. Her limbs flowed with the audience, pulling energy from them. She took their emotions, storing it within her. He felt drained with the exertion of watching this one-sided love story be told through movement and form.

Halfway through the song, the tone shifted and he felt overwhelmed with emotion. Suddenly all the strength she had absorbed was being pulsed back at him, hitting him like a wave. She was more than reflecting back the previous heat she’d borrowed from the audience, she had infused herself in it, enriching it. The entire audience was enraptured with every nimble step that amplified the charge filling the room. Tears streamed down dignitaries’ whisky-red cheeks as they imagined the harsh winter that Meng Chiang-nu had to wade through to find her love. Throughout it all, Inara remained the picture of a stoic widow, searching for her lost husband. Only her eyes and the gentle turn of her body betrayed the deep sadness that she was now projecting. The room shrank around her as she continued to pour her emotions into the dance. She finished the dance by draping her silver cloak along her body, still dripping from the earlier shower, to symbolise Meng Chiang-nu’s transformation into a sparkling fish in a river of tears.

The memory of a blonde girl dancing in Kyoto swam before his mind; her eyes were smiling as she tried to imitate the demure geishas by her side while laughing at the antics of a nearby Captain. He shook his head to clear it and concentrated again on his work, trying to establish communication with the people below.

Suddenly, there was a small crackle of life and he could hear voices. Then a grainy image flickered onto the screen.

A battle-worn woman was leading the group, her long legs striding with purpose and direction; she was followed by a burly man strapped with guns across his chest and a shorter girl with pigtails. Behind them all stepped a tall, wary man, his eyes darting behind them on constant alert.

Amazed at this collection of unlikely friends, he stopped to listen to the cheerful voice of the girl floating through the speakers. “Too bad we’re missing it, I coulda wore my dress again, eh Cap’n?” She looked back at the man in a sand-coloured coat, smiling.

“Only one is needed for distractin’. Don’t wanna risk more’n we have to.” His words were curt, but his eyes softened their effect.

“Still, wouldn’t it be nice to see her dancin’?”

The bulk of the group stopped abruptly at this development, whipping around. “’Nara’s dancing and we’re missing it, Mal?! Aw, c’mon!”

“If she’d wanted you to ogle her while she danced, she’d practice in the cargo bay.”

The girl continued dreamily, “I wonder if someone will take a vid of it and if we could get it. We gotta document these type of things.”

With a roll of his eyes, Mal tried to herd their group forward like cattle. “Can we please just get on with the theivin’ and cut the chatter?”

“Actually,” interrupted the Doctor, “there will have to be just a bit more chatter before you proceed.”

There was no response from the vid screen and while the Doctor blinked, they all moved out of site from the camera lens. Suddenly, the same woman who reminded him of an Amazon stealthily crept up and shot the camera, costing him his view.

With a groan, the Doctor complained that it would only make things more difficult.

He tried to calm his voice so as not to alarm them. “You can’t escape! I’m only trying to help you!”

Silence continued to flood through the speakers. Rubbing his hand over his face, the Doctor leaned in again to talk.

“You better listen to me or Miss Serra will have risked her life in vain.” He looked over to Inara, closely surrounded by hordes of trophy wives and crotchety old men; well, it was close enough to the truth. She certainly was risking her sanity.

“Serra?” Chirped the voice of the small girl. “You mean Inara’s in trouble?”

“I wanna talk to her myself.” Came a gruff voice.

“Unfortunately you can’t, as she’s been….” He looked over to see Inara being sneezed on by the same elderly woman she had helped up earlier. “Detained.”


“Nothing serious, an extra dose of Vitamin C will probably cure it. But right now I’m sure she’s more concerned about you not leaving, which by the way, I urge strongly. I need to fill the bottom chambers. If I don’t, I can promise you, there will be devastating consequences.”

“Gosh, Cap’n. It sounds serious.”

“Hell, it aint so bad Mal, we survived plenty devastation before. Doc can look after us and River can fly Serenity through a needle to get us.”

“Cap’n, what about everyone else?”

“They got transport, Doctor?”

“Once I override the exits they might, but right now they’re trapped.”

“You do that.” The Doctor rarely liked taking orders and his hair bristled until he heard the man comfort the small girl with him.

“See, Kaylee? Not our problem. Things could still go smooth.”


The answering voice was cold and distant, like she was in another room. “’Nara’s crew. We don’t leave crew behind.”

“That settles it. You two run and get the bonds, call if there is trouble. Then we get Inara, and then we get the hell out. Kaylee; you get a signal to River, tell her to start comin’ in now and be ready for a fast push out again.”

“And then you, Doctor, you’re going to tell me who you are and how you know Inara.”

“We are acquaintances and she is helping me to save your lives. So please be civilized and follow my instructions.”

“I never really liked much that term civilized. How do I know this isn’t a trap and the Alliance will be waiting down the next corridor?”

Inara, released from her adoring crowd, pressed the comm button to speak.

“Mal, a reactor has failed and the basement will be flooded. You need to go back to Serenity.”

“Ta ma de.” There was silence for a minute as they waited on his word.

“We’ll pick you up, Miss Serra.”

She rolled her eyes at the similar emphasis she had heard before in the Doctor’s tone. “Mal, there’s no time. It should be contained enough by the time it reaches us, right, Doctor?”

He grimaced, then, unable to lie he said, “Well, just to be on the safe side, why don’t I take her in my ship and we can rendezvous?”

* * * * * * * *

Mal ignored the Doctor’s half-hearted assurances. “Inara, you want us to pick you up?”

“My shuttle can get a dozen or so people to safety and the rest will go in the Doctor’s ship, it’s already on this level. Isn’t it, Doctor?”

“Parked and everything.”


“I assure you she will arrive relatively on time.”

“Right. Well, we’ll be expecting you, how much do you want?”

“For what?”

“For transport.”

“I don’t….wait, you think that I’m….well I’ve never been more insulted in my lives, you know except that one time that Jack said he liked her bottom better than mine, but honestly, how was I to compete?”

Unable to answer the Doctor’s rather odd question, Inara glared again. “Sorry. Back on topic!” He yelled. “I’m not going to charge you! What kind of person do you take me for?”

She heard Jayne’s husky voice give a warning. “Don’t trust him, Mal; the last Doctor we got involved with gave us a massive headache. The whole lot of ‘em are sneaky and hoity.”

“I’m not disagreeing with you, I’m not a mite too fond of the profession myself, but we ain’t got much choice at this juncture.”

“Once I bring Inara back, you’ll probably never see me again. Think of me as a Good Samaritan.”

Inara inwardly pleaded with Mal, knowing that if she objected any more he’d come to get her out of spite. His tone was disbelieving, but slowly relenting.

“Any funny business and you’ll be met with hot lead.”

With another sharp crackle, the comm link cut out, leaving Inara alone with this pinstriped stranger.

She turned to him, her face blank and her body tired. “Alright, Doctor, now what do we do?”

“Well, I’ve got the supplies ready and every other deck has been evacuated while we argued, so we just need to wait for them to leave before the reactor can be properly shut down.”

“How much time do we have until the reactor reaches that threshold you were talking about, the point where it can’t be shut down?”

“Where it explodes?”

She felt a coil of fear in her stomach as he busied himself with the complicated controls.

“Important thing is how we get these doors to open and get the rest of the people out. Won’t that be a bit of a shock to the higher ups in that fancy control tower? They’re expecting this party to blow into dust and here they’ll all come prancing back, mad as a murderous moose.”

“I’ll start rounding people up. It should only take a short time for mine and the other companion shuttles that are directly attached to reach the planet’s surface. I just hope there will be enough room.”

“I have a feeling they will all fit.” His eyes twinkled at her and she felt like maybe they could survive this.

If the clock had still been in one piece on the wall, it would have chimed twice before everyone was safely in a shuttle on their way to the planet surface.

Inara looked around, checking for something she might be missing. There seemed to be no-one left except for the Doctor who was cheerily waving goodbye to the last group to leave. Before she completely turned around again, he was practically by her side, grabbing her hand.

He gave an urgent whisper. “Run!”

“I thought you said we had time!”

“That was two hours ago. Eight decks are already full to bursting and my ship is on the ninth.”

Inara used her other hand to pick up her draping skirt, wrapping the train around her wrist she kicked off her shoes so she could match the Doctor’s quick stride.

When they approached the end of the hallway, all Inara could see were blue wooden doors. The Doctor took out a key, sliding it easily into the lock with a click. He ran inside, shutting the door behind her.

Inara almost gasped at the intricate and bewitching interior architecture. It reminded her of the warmth of Serenity.

But there must have been some mistake. Some optical illusion. Perhaps that wasn’t the walls of the ballroom that flanked the blue doors. She had suspected it to be in an alcove, but it must have been a docking port, and what she had thought was the wall, was really the hull of this ship. It was odd for them to match so perfectly with the rest of the decoration, but more believable than a wooden box that had an inside bigger than the outside.

She walked around on the grating, her feet cooling from their hasty exit on the cold metal. Her fingers trailed over furniture and railings as her head swivelled to take it all in.

“Rather large ship for only one person. Don’t you need a crew?”

The Doctor was madly pumping levers and turning dials so she had to repeat herself, while marvelling at the height of the ceiling.

He spoke slowly, his mania from before gone. His words were measured, as if he was afraid of revealing too much. “I had a crew once, well, a friend. She flew with me. I’ve taken on a few others since she left, but it’s not really the same without her. Still feels like I’m alone.”

“Some crew are irreplaceable.”

“Well, it’s not exactly like that, I’ve had a few passengers since. Lovely blokes and ladies, just...”

“You miss how it was before?”

“Sometimes, even though I’ve told myself to move on.”

Her voice grew softer; she arranged the pillows on the seat, frowning at the tape holding it together. “Harder than it sounds, isn’t it?”

“Very, I don’t think you could possibly understand.” She didn’t think that he meant to sound arrogant, he was just so separated from the present that she found herself trying to engage him in easy conversation, like she would a client.

“I can empathise to the fullest extent of my abilities; I’ve been trained to do that. But I suppose one can never fully understand the suffering of another.”

“Mmm, very diplomatic answer, are you sure you’re not in politics?” His eyebrows darted up and the animation was starting to creep back into his actions.

“Thank you.” She let out a pleased breath, which was more due to his new attitude than the compliment just paid to her. “But I think my profession right now has a high enough profile. I wouldn’t want to bring more unwanted attention to my friends.”

“Yes, we all deny ourselves the pleasures of the world just to keep the ones we care for safe, don’t we?”

“It’s the essence of humanity.” She was having some trouble following him. Every time she looked up, he had bounced off to another part of the console, bashing another button or turning another crank.

He quirked his head up from the monitor he was studying. “Self-sacrifice?”

She too was choosing her words carefully, looking for a smile of approval from him. “No, more like the preservation of life. Whether it is a mother protecting her child or a doctor protecting his patients, we all take on far too much responsibility.”

A faraway look crept into his eye. “And it feels gut wrenching when you fail that responsibility.”

With back turned to her, she couldn’t explore his emotions as she would have liked. Instead she tried to absorb more of the space around her. After staring at the shimmering supports for ten minutes, she felt compelled to ask him, “What was her name?”

The Doctor paused for the first time since she’d met him. His feet were rooted to their spot and his arms hung limp by his side. “Her name was Rose and she was the most human person I’d ever met, so full of life.”

His eyes were closed as he spoke and the green light of the console cast a shadow on his stubble.

“She was so young but had all the nurturing skills of a seasoned mother. With no-one to look after, she looked after the whole world instead, even perfect strangers. Lived more in her twenty years than some have lived in a lifetime.”

He stopped to clear his throat. “But now she’s got to do it alone. She’s in a different world now.”

Inara waited patiently for more, but after he started walking about again, she ventured other questions. “Couldn’t you just Wave her? Fly to her?”

He let out a slight chuckle, almost accidentally. “Not quite as simple as all that.” His face clouded over as he returned to the metal knobs that were reflecting the green light.

Without thinking, she replied, “Yes, for once I think I understand you.”

The Doctor gave her another searching glance that left her naked and vulnerable on this cold metal ship. She unconsciously shivered, knowing that she had spoken out of turn, gotten too close.

It was her turn to clear her throat. “How long until we arrive?”

The Doctor glanced at the monitor again, and then his eyes lit up like Kaylee’s string of lights. “As long as we want! You wouldn’t want to...well...would you like to take a detour with me?” He seemed almost anxious as his fingers nervously tugged on his ear and his eyes were looking at her feet.

She wanted desperately to go with him. It would be a classic adventure. It would be thrilling and comfortable at the same time.

For the second time that day, her own voice surprised her as it rose to the ceiling, “I should get back, Kaylee will be worried.”

“Yes, right.” He let out a huff of air. “So will my friend. I left in rather a hurry. Bit rude of me really, to leave like I did. But hopefully if I just pop back all will be set right. I just felt like…. it wasn’t fair.”

“To who?”

He didn’t so much as evade the question as avoid it all together, his hands flying at the controls one last time before walking to sit beside her.

“But I really should go back. Like you said, humanity, always changing, always experiencing a new rebirth. I wouldn’t want to miss out.”

The ghastly noise of the engine roared again so that he had to shout above it for her to hear him.

“Will you do me a favour?” She looked around at the golden walls, the many passageways and her still dripping clothes and nodded over the crescendo of what sounded like cymbals crashing.

“Tell him, will you?”

Before she could ask what he meant, the sound of gun barrels clicking greeted her as the wooden doors opened. She was shocked to find that they weren’t on the flat plains of Persephone as planned, but actually in the cargo bay of Serenity.

She turned around to question the Doctor, but by then the blue doors were already fading, accompanied by the sound of old cables rubbing against one another.
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