This is a story celebrating the birthday of Jewel Staite, best known for playing Kaylee Frye on Firefly and Jennifer Keller on Stargate Atlantis. And celebrating my birthday, too, but mainly hers.
I do not own Firefly, Stargate Atlantis, Doctor Who or Buffy. Please don't sue me for their use.
Kaylee was talking to Simon as she worked on Serenity's engine. This was fairly normal practice - Kaylee was a good enough mechanic that she could do her job even with the distractions that Simon brought. And even his crazy sister, who frequently dropped in (occasionally even literally) while Kaylee was working.
This time, though, it might've been a good idea for Kaylee not to be talking with Simon, but rather putting her full concentration into what she was doing.
Because, if Kaylee had been paying more attention to what she was doing, nothing much would've happened to her, and in another galaxy and another time from her own, something quite different would've happened. And this would be a much shorter story.
But Kaylee was preoccupied with talking to Simon and wasn't paying much attention to the work she was doing on the engine. And she got electrocuted.
Not fatally. Not even very badly. But enough to knock her unconscious.
In the normal course of events, Kaylee would've woken up after Simon's tender ministrations, and Mal would've yelled at her for being careless whilst warning her never to that ever, ever again, and then he'd probably hug her. And life on Serenity would've gone on as normal.
But, as it was, elsewhere and elsewhen in the 'verse a thief had just accidentally activated a piece of technology built by the Ancients. Had this thief (Neeva Casool by name) activated the device at another time, then she would've swapped bodies with one Jennifer Keller.
However, due to a series of freak coincidences, that didn't happen (not that Neeva knew anything about that). Instead, it was Keller, not Kaylee, who woke up in the infirmary aboard Serenity after Simon's tender ministrations.
And Kaylee woke up in Atlantis.
Keller woke up groggily, which was hardly an unusual occurrence. As one of the chief medical staff in Atlantis, she got far less sleep that she would've liked and she had to snatch it whenever she could.
"Ah, you're awake." said a voice. Not one which Keller recognized. After several years in Atlantis, she had come to realize that that was never a good thing.
She opened her eyes, and saw a man peering down at her - an attractive man, to be sure, but not one that Keller had ever seen before. "Where am I?" she asked warily. "What happened?"
The man frowned with concern. "I didn't think the shock was that bad." he murmured to himself. "What do you remember?"
Okay... so, if Keller had been abducted, shouldn't they be more like abductors? Shouldn't they be making demands and whatnot?
Still, Keller decided to play along. It wasn't like it could do any harm. At least she hoped not. "Last thing I remember, I was in Atlantis-" Keller began, but she was cut off by the man's roar of laughter.
"Oh, Kaylee, you really had me going there. I thought that electric shock you had had actually caused some damage." the man said, chuckling.
"Umm..." Keller hesitated before continuing "I'm not Kaylee. My name is Keller, Jennifer Keller. And I don't know you, or anything about being electrocuted, or even where I am."
The man laughed again, but was soon quiet when he saw the expression on Keller's face. "Oh. You're serious."
"Right." said the man uncertainly. "I'm Simon. Doctor Simon Tam. And we need to talk to the captain.
The last thing Kaylee remembered was being on Serenity, working on the engine and talking to Simon.
And now she wasn't. She wasn't even on a ship - Kaylee could tell because there want the telltale hum of an engine. But, wherever she was, it sure was beautiful. She was inside somewhere, some kind of magnificent building, far grander than those she tended to see on the outer planets. Kaylee wondered how she had managed to come to a Core planet. And where Simon and the rest of the crew had gotten to.
Well, there couldn't be any harm in her trying to find out. At least, she hoped not. Kaylee grabbed the arm of the nearest passerby, a busy looking man with thin wire glasses. "Excuse me? Could you tell me where I am?" she asked, trying to sound as much like Simon as she could. After all, if this was a Core world, then it would be for the best if she sounded like she belonged here.
The man gave her a puzzled glance. "You're in one of our auxiliary labs. Why, are you looking for Rodney?" he said, in an accent unlike any Kaylee had ever heard.
He seemed to know Kaylee, which was odd, given that she was sure she had never laid eyes on him in her entire life. And she didn't know anyone by the name of Rodney. "No. No, I'm not looking for Rodney. Have you seen Simon? Or the Cap'n? Or Serenity?"
"Noooo" said the man slowly, drawing out the single syllable. "I haven't. Look, Doctor, why don't we take you to the infirmary, have someone check you out."
Ah. Now it all made sense. "I'm sorry, you must have me mistaken for someone else." Kaylee said brightly. "I'm no Doc. Never even got any schooling."
"Uhuh." said the man, smiling. "So you're not Jennifer Keller. Well, you look just like her."
He obviously thought Kaylee was joking. "Nope. Not Jennifer Keller. My name's Kaylee."
The man chuckled softly, then stopped when he saw Kaylee's expression. "You're serious. Right. So I'll take you to the infirmary, get you checked out, and speak to Rodney. I'm Zelenka, by the way, Radek Zelenka."
"So, you're saying that you're not Kaylee." said Mal dubiously. "Which is powerful crazy, 'cause you sure look like her."
Before Keller could say anything, the strikingly beautiful woman who looked as out of place on this ship as a Wraith would in Atlantis said "She's not Kaylee, Mal. Look at the way she walks, the way she stands, the way she holds herself. She's an entirely different person."
"Thank you, Inara, isn't it?" Inara nodded. "That's what I've been saying. I'm not this Kaylee. I've never heard of her. We must've switched bodies somehow."
"I reckon she's flipped, Mal." said the great giant of a man who looked like he could give Ronon a run for his money. "Gone crazy in her brainpan, like the Doc's sister."
"Who's he?" Keller muttered to Simon out of the corner of her mouth.
"What, the ape man?" Simon said sourly. "That would would be Jayne."
"Jayne?" said Keller incredulously. "But that's a girls name."
Jayne's face darkened. "Yeah, well, I ain't no girl. And I can prove it." he said, hooking his thumbs suggestively under his waistband.
"Jayne, if you do that, there wouldn't be enough bleach in the world to scrub that memory out." said the man in the Hawaiian shirt drily. "That, and my wife would surely shoot you."
Keller turned to Simon again questioningly. "That's Wash, our pilot. And the woman who hasn't spoken yet is his wife, Zoë." he said, in response to her unspoken question.
"Look." said Keller plaintively. "I know you've got no reason to believe what I'm saying. I know it sounds crazy - it sounds crazy to me, too. But I'm going to need your help if we're going to get your Kaylee back and get me back in my proper body."
"We can't help." said a voice. Keller turned to see a barefooted girl leaning in the doorway. "Everything's on the other end, Doctor. Nothing we can do here, out in the black."
"River-" Simon began.
"Wait." said Keller, cutting him off. "What are you saying? I can't get back?" she said. She didn't know why she was attributing so much weight to the young girl's words, but she hadn't told anyone that she was a Doctor. And yet River knew. Besides, it wasn't as though she had much choice.
"No. You can. Maybe. Things are uncertain, oscillating, unfixed. But there's nothing you can do about anything. It's all up to those on Atlantis to find your way back." River said dreamily.
"Well." said Mal decisively. "You heard the girl. There's nothing we can do, so let's keep on doing what we're doing and hope that Keller's friends pull through and send Kaylee back to us."
"You can't be believing this crazy talk, Mal! Stuff like this just don't happen." said Jayne skeptically.
"There's plenty of stuff out there in the 'verse that you wouldn't believe. Sometimes it happens to us." said Mal. "'sides, it's not like it's more unbelievable than having a Reader on our crew."
Jayne looked like he was going to argue, but decided against it. After all, the captain did have a point.
"So, you're not Jennifer." Rodney said doubtfully.
"Nope." said Kaylee brightly.
"Funny. Because you could be her identical twin." Rodney said, mainly to himself. He glanced at Carson. "You're sure
there's nothing wrong with her?"
"Nothing that my scans can pick up." Carson replied. "If there's something wrong with her, I can't find it."
"So, you say you have a body?" Shepard asked Keller - or Kaylee. He hoped she wasn't some Descended Ancient who for some reason had taken up shop in Keller's body, or some other kind of entity. He'd had enough of that kind of thing to last a lifetime.
"Yeah. Don't everyone?" Kaylee answered, bemused.
"You'd be surprised." Shepard muttered.
Rodney said "So, you say you were on your ship-"
"Serenity." Kaylee interjected helpfully.
"Yes, the Serenity-"
"No, just Serenity. She's not pretentious."
"Right." said Rodney, obviously irritated by the interruptions. "So, you were onboard Serenity, and then you just woke up here and you have no idea how you got here?"
"That's just how it happened." Kaylee affirmed.
"McKay, has Keller been messing around with any Ancient tech?" Shepard questioned. "I know you have a tendency to leave your work lying around."
"What? No, of course not!" said Rodney indignantly. "To both things you said." he added.
" said Ronon, through his earpiece.
"What is it, Ronon?" Shepard responded.
"I've just come back from offworld. Some villagers have just captured a trio of thieves who were trying to steal some Ancestral artifacts. Apparently, she was caught because one of them lit up and attracted a nearby villager's attention.
" Ronon replied.
Well now, that seemed like a lead to Shepard. It was generally a safe bet that anything related to the Ancients was the cause for the latest madness to hit Atlantis. "When did that happen, Ronon?"
"A few hours ago.
The timeline fit. This particular piece of Ancient tech, whatever it was, was seeming more and more likely to be the culprit. "Right. Ronon, get Teyla, tell her we're going offworld. Let's see if they'll let us have a look at this device of theirs."
"You found something?" Kaylee asked.
"Can I come?" Kaylee asked excitedly. The chance to see another world, one far, far away from any others she might ordinarily visit, was a tantalizing prospect.
Shepard would have to ask Woolsey, but he didn't really see why she couldn't come. After all, she just as involved in this madness as he and his team was. "Sure. I don't see why not."
"You said that before." said Radek thoughtfully. "What does it mean?"
"What, shiny? Its what you say when something's good." Kaylee replied.
"Like cool?" Rodney asked curiously.
"That's temperature, ain't it?" Kaylee said, baffled.
"Never mind that, let's go and have a look at this Ancient device." Shepard said impatiently.
They didn't let Kaylee examine the Stargate, which she thought was downright mean. She was sure that if she had a few hours, she could figure out how it worked. And even if she couldn't, when would she ever get the chance to look at technology like that again?
They let her go through it, though, and that was something.
After trekking for a couple of hours through a forest (which Kaylee enjoyed, because she so rarely left Serenity and when she did it was generally to visit some city or other, or when they were out in a desert. She could tell that McKay didn't enjoy it, though, judging by his endless whining. Kaylee wondered what Keller saw in the man - while he was probably as smart as Simon, he didn't have a single one of the doctor's redeeming characteristics) they finally arrived in a village which wasn't all that different from those which Kaylee might see on an outer world.
They were asked by a villager to wait a few minutes until the Magistrate returned - apparently he was attending the execution of Neeva Casool and her two accomplices. But, even as the villager was speaking, the Magistrate appeared. He was a short, bearded and somewhat effeminate man, and one whom Kaylee felt was unsuited to the task of leading a town. But then, she was used to the captaincy of the fiery and charismatic Mal. After him, even Shepard seemed like a pale shadow of a leader.
However, before Kaylee could make herself homesick by thinking about Mal and Serenity too much, she was distracted by being shown into the room housing the treasure trove of Ancient technology.
Naturally, the thing which immediately grabbed Kaylee's attention was the ornate object in the centre of the room. The blue crystal (Kaylee couldn't help but think that the Cap'n would love to get his hands on something like that) that mounted the device was glowing faintly.
Kaylee heard Rodney's sharp intake of breath. "You know what it is?" she asked absently, running her fingers over the shallow indentations on the bottom half. Evidently they were a plug of sorts, but beyond that Kaylee couldn't even begin to guess.
"I think so." Rodney muttered. "Yes. I recognize it from SG-1's reports - its an Ancient communication terminal, like the one they found under Glastonbury Tor. The report said that it projected Doctor Jackson and Vala into the bodies of two people in the Ori galaxy."
"Did they swap bodies too?" Kaylee asked curiously.
"No. But then this could be another kind of terminal, or it might be damaged somehow." Rodney answered.
"Yeah, that's all very well and good, but how do we turn the thing off and bring Keller back?" Shepard said impatiently.
"If I remember correctly - and I always do - the report said that SG-1 destroyed it by throwing it into the event horizon of forming wormhole, disintegrating it instantly. We could do that, I suppose, but I call dibs on not hauling it back go the Stargate." Rodney replied.
"Hey, Ronon?" Kaylee asked "Would you mind lifting this up for a moment?"
Ronon did so, and Kaylee peered at the device's base. "There's a switch here." she said.
She flicked it. There was an ominous whirring sound, and then the crystal pulsed once before darkening. Kaylee slumped on the table.
"Umm, Jennifer?" Rodney said tentatively, poking Kaylee's - or possibly Keller's - side.
"Ow, Rodney, what was that for?" Keller said. Then she blinked "Oh, I'm back!" she said happily, throwing her arms around Rodney.
Unfortunately for Kaylee, she wasn't going back to Serenity. Not just yet, at least.
Because, even as the essence of Kaylee was streaking through time and space back to her body, in the year five billion and twenty-three, in the M87 galaxy, one Lady Cassandra O'Brien.Δ17 was trying to put her mind into the body of Rose Tyler.
Unfortunately, Kaylee got in the way. Instead of Cassandra jumping into Rose's body she ricocheted off of Kaylee's mind, and entered one of the hospital patients in a ward above her. Cassandra had the misfortune to enter a terminally ill patient - she died upon entering.
However, Kaylee's route back to her body was interrupted by the impact, and rather than heading back to her own body, she entered into that of a certain two-hearted Time Lord, known only as the Doctor.
And the Doctor was thrust out of his body and into Kaylee's.
The crew of Serenity were understandably alarmed when, for no discernible reason, Keller suddenly collapsed. They hoped that it meant that Kaylee would soon be on her way back to them, but they feared that it meant something had gone wrong.
So they weren't best pleased when Kaylee's body, upon opening her eyes, said promptly "Hello. Who are you?" and then frowned, a hand going to her throat. "And why do I sound like a woman?"
Mal groaned. Fantastic! It looked like another visitor had found themselves thrust into Kaylee's body. And a man too, by the sounds of things.
Without getting an answer, the Doctor (for it was he. Or temporarily, she.) got up and dusted himself off. "So, I'm female. Don't have two hearts, which suggests that I haven't pulled a Corsair. Must've switched bodies, somehow." he muttered to himself rapidly. "Where's Rose?" the Doctor asked to the room in general.
"I'm sorry, can you get back to the bit about two hearts?" said Book bemusedly.
"Yeah, I'm powerful curious about that too." said Jayne, eyes alight with avarice as he imagined what he could sell a man with two hearts for.
The Doctor sighed. Humans. Always getting hung up on the details. "Yes, I'm an alien, okay? I have two hearts. Or I have two hearts when I'm not randomly shunted into the body of a young human woman. Am I ginger?" he added as an afterthought.
"Nope. Blonde." said Simon, mesmerized. Keller hadn't been Kaylee, but unless she spoke for a length of time you probably wouldn't have noticed the difference (unless you were Inara, and it was your job to see things like that). But now, whoever had taken over Kaylee's body was a completely different person, filled with a nervous energy that seemed to prevent her from standing still. Even Simon, who had never been known for his observational skills, could tell that much.
"Aww, c'mon, I even switch bodies and I'm still not ginger." the Doctor complained. "So we're on a spaceship, yes?"
Mal decided to take charge. "Look, I'll be asking the questions here. Who are you?"
"Didn't I say?" said the Doctor, smiling. "I'm the Doctor."
"Doctor What?" Simon asked.
"If you like." said the Doctor sourly, as though his punch line had just been ruined. "So, have any of you seen a blue box anywhere? Or maybe a blonde woman, name of Rose?"
Everyone shook their heads. "Pity." the Doctor muttered. "They can't have made the trip. Rose and the TARDIS must still be on New Earth."
The Doctor went to search in one of her pockets, temporarily forgetting that he was in fact someone else's body and wearing their clothes. He jumped guiltily and blushed slightly, saying "Oh, definitely female. And I don't have my sonic, either. S'pose it's up to Rose and whoever filched my body to come and pick me up."
Meanwhile, Kaylee was having trouble adjusting to having two hearts. The fact that she was in a male body was only a secondary issue.
Having two hearts hurt
. It was like constantly being pummeled in the chest. She (or temporarily he) had to constantly struggle not to wobble all over the place at every heartbeat.
When Kaylee finally managed to get a grip on herself, and look around herself a little, he had to get over the shock of seeing cat people.
Cat people! And a giant head! And a monstrously obese person, who seemed to be turning into stone! Kaylee had never seen the like.
Compared to that, having a blonde woman come up to him and announce "Doctor, you'll never guess what! I just met Cassandra downstairs, you know, Ms Trampoline, and she tried to activate some kind of machine, a psychograph, I think she said, only it didn't work, and now she's dead and her creepy Gollum servant is bawling next to her." all in one breath.
Kaylee responded, and marveled at the deep male voice with which she did it. "A few things. One - cat people! Tai kong suo you de xing qiu sai jin wo de pi gu
, cat people! Second - do you have gills or something, 'cause I'm pretty sure most people need to breathe. Unless you're some kind of alien or something, in which case, sorry for being insensitive. Third, and I probably should've started with this one, but I was distracted by the cat people, but I'm not you think I am."
Rose digested this. It was probably true. The person who looked like Doctor seemed to be vibrating slightly on the spot, with a rather pained expression on his face which was nothing like the Doctor's usual exuberance. That, and the fact that the TARDIS hadn't automatically translated the words he had just said (they sounded like Chinese to Rose), suggested that something had gone amiss. "Right. I'm Rose, by the way. Let's get you to the TARDIS, see if we can sort this all out. Oh, and if you're not the Doctor, who are you?"
"Kaylee. And what's the TARDIS?" Kaylee said warily, always leery of being led off somewhere by a perfect stranger. Especially when she wasn't even in her own body and very, very far from Serenity.
"Oh, it's your... umm, the Doctor's ship." Rose answered, pulling Kaylee along towards the lifts.
"Doctor who?" said Kaylee, desperately trying to cling to some form of normalcy, no matter how far flung it might be.
"Oh, it's just the Doctor." Rose answered airily, as though she had never wondered that exact same question. "Oh, and get ready for the decontamination." she added as an afterthought.
"DecontaminaARRGHH!" Kaylee squealed, as the hospital lifts began spraying her with disinfectant.
Rose would've said something along the lines of "Yup, that's what I said when the Doctor told me." but she didn't want to get disinfectant in her mouth this time around. It wasn't exactly a pleasant taste.
Mal and Wash had headed back to the bridge after an alarm had gone off indicating that a ship was nearby (never a good thing for a bunch of smugglers in the run from virtually everyone), Inara had returned to her shuttle and Jayne eyeballed the Doctor for a few minutes until Zoë ushered him away. Simon wanted to question him about his alien physiology, but he got as much out of him as Keller had told him about - well, anything, so he decided to go and talk to River. Book had tried to engage the Doctor in a discussion on theology, but the Doctor was too worried about Rose and the TARDIS to be a much of a conversationalist, so Book left him alone to fidget.
That is, until the Doctor heard a sharp intake of breath, and turned to see a young girl peeking curiously at him from around the door frame. "Ah! Hello! You must be River." he said cheerily.
"Where are you?" River said slowly, staring at the Doctor as though she had seen a ghost.
The Doctor looked down. Nope, he hadn't suddenly become invisible. Oh well, they had said that River wasn't exactly sane. "I'm right here."
"But... you're a lever, a catalyst. You push and things change. But Kaylee fixes things. Makes them whole. You just change things. Not necessarily for the better." River said absently, as though she wasn't even aware that she was speaking. "You can't be anywhere, or anywhen. You're everywhere, the Big Bad Wolf."
Ah. Well. That was interesting. Almost as though River had picked the thoughts, the things the Doctor wondered about during his darker moods but never actually voiced, from right out of the Doctor's head. Except that was impossible. As a Time Lord, the Doctor had enough psychic barriers around his mind that no one could get through, and even if they did he customarily thought on so many levels at once that it would be impossible for a telepath to read anything except for the mental equivalent of static.
Except that the Doctor wasn't a Time Lord, at least not right now. He was an ordinary human woman, an open book for any half-way competent telepath. And insanity and telepathy often went hand-in-hand.
"Yes. That would be me." the Doctor replied softly. "But I also fix things. Save lives, stop the path if history from careening off into a different pathway entirely. I help people too."
"Do you? Do you help them by leaving them, Doctor? Help them by running away, because they're just wrong, because of you?" River asked, edging slowly closer.
The Doctor didn't answer. Because he couldn't.
As soon as Rose and Kaylee entered the TARDIS (which, from what Rose had said, Kaylee gathered to be some kind of massively advanced teleporter, capable of moving the occupants of the ship through both time and space), it began its trademark humming sound all by itself and jerked violently, flinging Rose and Kaylee to the floor as they lost their balance and then they rolled into a heap (which Rose enjoyed more than she would ever admit, even if it was only the Doctor's body rather than the man himself that she was tangled up with).
Then the TARDIS stopped with a thump, and after several moments trying to disentangle themselves, Kaylee and Rose finally got to their feet, and Kaylee flung open the TARDIS doors, hoping that at last she would be back on Serenity.
She wasn't. She appeared to be in a basement.
Interestingly enough, so was Mal. Even if he was dressed as a Shepherd. At least that meant that she was in the right galaxy, and it was only a matter of time before Mal led her back to her body and she could get on with her life without any more body switching madness.
In the meantime, Kaylee was just happy to see Mal. So she flung herself at him, hugging him to her with an ecstatic cry. Mal stiffened, and made no motion to return the hug.
Upon noticing that, Kaylee backed off somewhat, examining him curiously. Something had to be wrong. "What's up, Mal?" she asked, worried.
"Mal?" said Mal, mulling over the word. "I suppose you could call me Mal. It'd suit my patron more, though. There isn't anything else more Mal than that."
A short blonde woman materialized out of thin air beside the person who Kaylee was beginning to suspect wasn't Mal. "Stay away from him, Caleb. He's bad news."
"What, this little man?" said Caleb incredulously. "I could crush him in one hand."
"He's not all that he seems." the blonde warned.
However, Kaylee, being somewhat wary of the creepy evil preacher version of Mal, especially after him saying that he could crush her with one hand, was backing away slowly.
That is, until Caleb leant forward and grabbed her by the tie, pulling her inexorably forward, despite her efforts.
It was understandable that Kaylee, after all the body switching and general insanity that had filled her day thus far, might be on the verge of panic. Being dragged closer to evil-Mal drove her over the edge. So she turned and struggled to get back into the TARDIS.
Caleb, to his great surprise, found that he was being dragged forward by the other man. He made to exert more of his colossal strength, as given to him by the First, in order to stop this, but by this point he had already been dragged into the TARDIS.
Whereupon he instantly crumpled into a ball and began a high pitched keening.
In the outside world, Caleb was connected to the First, and through it to vast network of evil beings throughout the universe, the least of which world dwarf the strongest demon found on Earth.
But here, inside the TARDIS, he was cut off, alone. Caleb had become so used to the constant connection to that vast network of evil that it's sudden severance simply proved too much for him to cope with. So he didn't cope with it.
However, the TARDIS was on the move once again, somewhat more smoothly this time. Kaylee just hoped that it was finally taking her back to Serenity, because if it wasn't, she just might scream.
As it turned out, it wasn't Serenity. It was just a rather dull room. "C'mon." said Rose decisively "Help me roll this guy out of here."
Kaylee shook her head. She wasn't going to go any nearer to evil preacher Mal than she could possible manage.
Rose sighed, and set to doing it herself. To her mild surprise, Caleb didn't put up a fight. It was a simple matter to shove him out through the TARDIS doors.
No sooner had the doors closed once again than did the TARDIS take off once more.
When it landed, Kaylee found herself, at long last, back on her beloved Serenity, and face to her face with her own body - who seemed as delighted to see the TARDIS and Rose as she was to see it.
"Tyen shiao duh!
" Kaylee said exultantly, before breathing a sparkling stream of rose-coloured energy at herself.
Then both she and the Doctor collapsed.
Some time later, Kaylee woke up. The first thing she noticed was that she didn't have two hearts, which was a good sign. She opened her eyes, sat up and gingerly glanced down at herself, wary that she might once again find that she was in a body not her own.
She needn't have worried. She was back.
Simon appeared at the edge of Kaylee's field of vision. "Ah, you're awake... Kaylee?" he said, tentatively.
"Yup!" Kaylee replied, happily. Then a thought crossed her mind, and she decided to act on it before something made her change her mind.
So she got up and kissed Simon. The way he rather enthusiastically responded (once he got over his shock, that is) more than made up for the madness of Kaylee's day. She didn't even care about the thunderous round of applause that erupted as she kissed him, although she knew that both she and Simon would probably do creditable impressions of tomatoes later on.
Before the Doctor left, he made some time to talk to River privately.
Well, not talk, exactly. More like show her something.
The Doctor lowered the barriers he had painstakingly built around his mind as part of his Time Lord training, and shared with her the memory of how he made them.
The look of wonder on River's face as she worked out how to block out the incredible noise of the minds of those around her made the entire trip worthwhile.
"I'll come visit you in a few years, see how you're getting on." The Doctor said.
"No, you won't."
"You're probably right."
Elsewhere, Caleb got up, and the door to the room that he found himself in opened. A group of hideous, demons with tentacles where their mouths should be, clutching some kind of glowing ball emerged through it.
"We must feed. We must feed. We must feed." they chanted, all the while ominously advancing on Caleb.