She remembers... what?
She remembers that she died.
"You could go, Leela. I could program a TARDIS to take you far away from here. They're not your people."
No. If this is how it ends, in blood and fire, then she is going to be here to see it.
"I will not leave you, Romana."
She had not left. She knows this. She knows it the way she knows the taste of food in her mouth, or the smell of the morning air outside the citadel, or the feel of Romana's skin under her hands.
So why now does she have metal at her back and a group of children surrounding her? No, not children, but not Time Lords. Humans. Humans with mortal life-spans, as she had once, before Gallifrey had stretched it out until it was worn and thin.
"I will cut out your eyes before the bolt touches me," she warns the one holding an object with the appearance of a staser. The girl keeps it pointed at her, and to her credit, her expression only wavers a little.
She begins to remember, the name first. "I must speak with Rose Tyler."
They exchange looks, these humans, as though she would not notice. "What do you want with her?" one of them asks her, a young male whose voice shakes.
"I have important information for her. It is in my TARDIS." It is strange to claim the Time Lord thing as her own. She looks at the girl with eyes older than her face, and that at least is familiar. "You are Rose Tyler." It does not need to be a question. "And I shall help you find Donna Noble."
They are not as dim-witted as the Time Lords would have had her believe. They have heard of Donna Noble, and they have been trying to reach her for what they think is a long time, although they do not seem to know what they will do with her when they have her. Leela tells them how to get the information the TARDIS contains and that they must use it to build their own device for traveling across dimensions. Several people in strange, white garments become very excited by this.
She does not look at Rose as she explains that her TARDIS has been broken by the journey and that it will never fly again. Instead, she hands her a machine containing the message that will tell her the things that Romana saw in the matrix; about Rose and what she must do, about Donna Noble and why she is so important.
Leela makes sure that she is too far away to hear Romana's voice.
"Why couldn't you go straight to Donna?" The young male's speech does not shake any more. His name is Mickey, she has discovered, and he is the only person here, other than Rose, who does not seem to be afraid of her. "Why's it have to be Rose doing this?"
Leela is sitting on the ground in the open space behind their building. She likes how easy it is to go outside here, to find real sky. "Romana told me that the only way to Donna Noble is through Rose Tyler," she says, simply. "I do not understand all their long words, but I think it is because Donna Noble is the source of the problem, and so their technology could not take to me directly to her."
He has heard her words, but his mind is elsewhere. "It's always Rose. She's always in danger, she's always the one who has to be strong, save the world, risk her life."
Leela smiles and does not take her eyes from the stars above them. "Perhaps she chooses to be. Even if the ones who love her would have her step away from it, would she be true to herself if she was to do so?"
When she kisses Rose it is because she thinks that Rose might snap like dry wood if she does not allow herself to draw breath.
"When you speak of this summit, there is no spark in your eyes, no great wanting," Leela once said to Romana. "You are tired." Rose speaks of fighting now. Of tearing holes in reality, and finding this Donna Noble, and returning the universe to its intended state. She tells this to all the people who watch her and wait for her instructions, but Leela does not think that she herself believes it.
Leela finds her alone, as she found Romana on so many nights when she had shrugged off the robes and symbols of the day. They look smaller, these women, when they have no one left to be powerful before. They look like they do not remember how to feel, only to think.
Rose does not flinch from the kiss, her eyes open and wet.
"You don't ask me stuff," she murmurs, her breath hot against Leela's neck. "You don't expect me to know everything, and you're not waiting for me to fail."
Leela makes sure that for this night, Rose does not think.
"I do not care! I do not care about the matrix, or this most-important-woman-in-the-universe. I do not care that your TARDIS needs someone to fly it across di-men-sions. My place is here, Romana. I will not leave you to die alone."
"Then we will all die." Her voice is cold and cuts like a knife. "Do you understand that, Leela? Not just you and me and Gallifrey, but the entire universe. Every universe."
"I am not stupid," she replies sullenly. "But I do not understand why you cannot send Narvin."
"He's a Time Lord. He wouldn't survive the journey..."
"...through the barriers. You have said that already, several times. His TARDIS would still get there."
Romana almost smiles. "I wish that were the case."
"And you cannot ask K9 to turn off the barriers long enough to send a TARDIS through?"
"If that was an option, don't you think I'd have done it already? The Daleks would destroy us in an instant." Romana has begun to cry, and she will not meet Leela's eyes.
"Then I will do it," Leela says, quietly. "Because we have no other choice."
In the morning, they send Rose to Donna Noble, and when she comes back, she is smiling.
"I found her," she says, breathless and on her knees. "It's all going to be alright." She lifts her gaze to Leela's. "I can do this."
She remembers what no Time Lord ever will. That Gallifrey does not always end like this, locked away from the rest of time and space to burn forever with their enemies. That she does not always die in battle, defending Romana and the citadel with her last breath. That the Doctor does not always live.
She remembers a warrior named Rose Tyler, who holds all the universes in her hands and will not break.