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The Long Ride Home

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Rachel Seybolt wouldn’t have believed that his blue box was in fact a borrowed time-machine if it hadn’t materialized in front of her while she tended her herb garden. As far as she knew, there wasn’t a need for any mysterious appearing Police Boxes to show up in her front yard, in Kentucky of all places. Not only that, but since when did anyone still wear a bow tie?

“Oh, hello,” the tweed wearing, bow-tie sporting guy greeted stepping out of his box. “Well, this isn’t Timbuktu.”

“Nope,” Rachel replied. “Wrong side of the globe, even.” Her palm itched for the pistol that her uncle had left with her. She had told him it was a waste of time to give it to her. She wouldn’t carry it because she’d never need it because she didn’t chase monsters or bother her neighbors. She was holding a spade though, a plastic spade at that. She was so screwed if it came down to a fight. Maybe she could use his suspenders against him.

“Aren’t you a live one,” the guy smirked. “I’m the Doctor, and you are?”

“I’m wondering just how the hell you appeared on my front lawn,” Rachel answered, her hand loosening a little on the spade. “And why you landed on my petunias?”

“I’m sorry, I’m sure they were lovely,” the Doctor had the nerve to look slightly abashed. “You’re lucky. I took out a whole shed once.”

“Of course you did,” Rachel muttered, and did not massage her forehead to fight the headache that was starting to form. Between Bobby Singer sending her after obscure occult texts and not-so-dead Archangels dropping by, her dance card for wacky was almost full.

Things only got weirder from there, but it wasn’t long before she was inviting him inside for iced tea. He was bonkers, she was certain, completely off-kilter, hair of an idiot and the whole nine, but she found that she trusted him. And his box was bigger on the inside. She said as much, and the smile she got in return was dazzling.

“So, time machine?” she clarified, looking at the box in the afternoon light, sipping tea. It didn’t look like much, if you didn’t take into account its inside. The blue was quite distinct in contrast to the relative plainness of her yard.

“Time machine,” he nodded, quirk of a smile in the corner of his mouth. She almost wished her uncle were here. She had a feeling that those two would get along like gangbusters.

“And you’re an alien,” Rachel repeated, “and yes. You look human and humans look Time Lord. Got that. You could also say you look vampire, or angel, or gods, or werewolf.”

“What gods have you met?” he asked, something sparkling in his eyes. “Have you met Loki? He’s fun.”

“Too much fun. And an angel,” Rachel grimaced, “and by fun, I mean not at all.”

“You just need to go drinking with him. He makes an amazing daiquiri.” The Doctor suggested looking wistful.

“But. Time Machine,” Rachel pulled the Doctor out of whatever philosophical rant or long-winded story involving daiquiris he was about to tell. He’d already told her about the wonders of ice castles in on desert planets and honeymooning moons and everything in between.

“Yes. Time and Relative Dimension in Space,” he nodded, grinning.

“So you can go anywhere? Any when?” she asked, wheels turning.

“Yep, the whole of the universe, space and time, forwards and backwards and everywhere in between,” the Doctor assured, gesturing broadly.

“Even to say goodbye?” she asked. “I mean, I’m sure that you can’t change things that have already happened. I’m sure you couldn’t change this thing, because sometimes people are just gone, even if they went a hero. It’s just. You know, maybe some doors should stay closed.”

Rachel raked back her hair and fought back the tears. What was she doing? She could ask him to take her anywhere, not that she should, but she just wanted to go back to a year ago and kiss a girl.

“It depends on the thing,” the Doctor mused, crunching on a piece of ice, swallowed and then fixed her with a look, not unkind. “Some points in the universe are in fact unchangeable and fixed. The rest can be fussed with, but you’re right, some doors should stay closed.”

Rachel nodded, “yeah. I kinda figured.”

“What was her name? This hero of yours?” he asked, perceptive.

“Jo,” Rachel whispered.

“I knew a Jo once,” he said, looking suddenly much older, and very distant. “Saw her again recently, as it happens!” and he snapped back to himself, looking Rachel in the eye again.

“Right,” he said, setting down his empty glass. He clapped his hands together, leaping up and pulling Rachel with him.

“Right what?” she asked, allowing him to drag her.

“Let’s go open some doors,” the Doctor declared cheerfully.

“But you said,” she argued, and couldn’t have told you why.

“Yeah, I say stuff all the time,” he waved his hands. “Look, Amy and Rory are off being newlyweds on a honeymoon I forced them on so I’ve got room and time for a quick trip. Besides, I’ve never had the descendant of a siren on board before. I hope you’re not a screamer.”

“Huh,” Rachel mused, “I thought Gabriel was kidding.”

“Nope. Not kidding, even if I’m not sure about that whole ‘angel’ business,” he said, maybe sneering a little.

“I should leave a note,” Rachel said, pausing uncertainly in the doorway of the Tardis.

“I’ll have you back in no time, be like you weren’t even gone,” the Doctor waved off, but waited, fingers taping the doorway impatiently while she dashed back to the house.

She left the note, taped to the door written of the corner of a yellowed scrap of paper in green sharpie. It read: Back in five minutes. -R