Turning A Corner

by Kathryn A

Series:Cally and the Doctor
Words:900 or so

This covers the same events as described in RedStarRobot's opening "Cally and the Doctor" story, except told from Cally's point of view. (original post where one can comment)

There was grit on her tongue, smoke in her eyes, and her ears were still ringing. The concrete was rough against her fingers as she felt her way, trying to find the stairs and a way out -- if the roof didn't come down first.

A hand clasped hers. "Run!" said a voice, masculine, unknown.

She ran, guided by his pull. Her streaming eyes only made out a blur of dark clothing, but his steps were strong and sure. A dark shape, an opening; double doors. A rumble and roar erupted just behind them as they crossed the threshold. The doors slammed shut against the chaos outside. The air was blessedly clear and still. She blinked.

Yellow light shone on vaguely organic columns growing to a ceiling high above. The centre of the room was dominated by what were probably a set of controls, but looked more like an abstract sculpture soldered together out of scrap metal, with blue-green lights glowing inside. The place felt... alive. This was not Federation technology.

Her rescuer brushed the dust off his jacket. He grinned at her, like a child who has just won a game, as if bombs and explosions were merely fireworks for his delight. "I'm the Doctor, by the way. What's your name?"

He wasn't human. Oh, he looked human enough, with his long nose and sticking-out ears, but he wasn't human, nor Auron either. His aura wasn't the bright blaze of her own people, but neither was it the dead blankness of a human. She could feel his presence; he was there and alive. Talking to humans was like living with ghosts.

"Cally. Cally of Auron," she said automatically.

"Nice to meet you, Cally of Auron. Welcome to the Tardis. So, can I drop you off home, then?"

The blithe way he way he said it made her certain that this craft could do as he said -- if she had had a home to go to. The hope that Franton carried would not bear full fruit for many years. It didn't count. Auron was gone.

"No," she said. "My home no longer exists, and my people are dead."

He stilled, hands dropping away from the controls. "Oh," he said.

His aura thrummed with pain, like a tuning fork to her own. Pain and loss. Of people? Of home? Of dear ones? She did not know. But loss all the same, short and sharp.

But he did not indulge it. Instead, from a well of discipline, he pulled a smile. "Well, no worries, then," he said to her. "You can come with me."

"I should return to my friends," she said, not even considering his offer. The others still lived, she knew that. They were all she had left, she couldn't abandon them. She turned to the door, and it opened silently in front of her. She stepped out into the underground complex. The air was still full of smoke and grit and the footing was unstable. She could feel tremors beneath her feet, either aftershocks or more bombs. She took a few careful steps forward.

"Cally," the Doctor called behind her.

She stopped, and twisted around. He was standing in the doorway of his craft, the Tardis.

"What do they give you worth living for?" he asked.

The question gave her pause. What, indeed? Why had she joined with them in the first place? Because of Blake, and his cause. "They gave me something worth dying for," Cally said. Blake had. But Blake was gone. According to Servalan, Blake was dead. Without Blake, the cause was dead. "Once," she added. The last year without Blake told her what the future with the others would hold: a bare scrabble for survival. Was that living?

"Look around you," he said, waving his hand at the destruction around them. "This is Terminal. End of the line." His eyes bored into her. "Time to get off this train; venture out, somewhere new." He smiled, again that grin of a child and his winning games. "You want danger, I've got it. Something to fight for, yeah, got that, too. There's so much to set right."

How does he know? she wondered. How does he know what I hope for?

His eyes softened, and his voice also. "And out there, deep in space, there's a nebula glowing in the dark of space where you can land the Tardis right in the center, just right, and ride the currents while it churns. The stuff stars are made of, all around you, creating something beautiful in the middle of the blackness."

She could almost see it.

"There's something, Cally, when it's all gone... you and me, yeah? We'll run a thousand miles an hour, raging against the dying of the light. We'll blow things up. We might well die in the process. It'll be a whole lot of fun."

Again, with the grin. And more, a passion for life, instead of mere existance.

"And then we'll go watch something begin. After so many endings."

She nodded slowly. "Yes," she said. "I'll come with you."

He smiled gently, and stepped back inside. She stepped through the dark blue doors.

Something brushed against her mind, then, something Other, something alien. It wasn't the Doctor. This was something... it reminded her faintly of Zen, only deeper, wider, and far, far older. The ship. The Tardis. It really was alive.

And it welcomed her.

It was like coming home.