Mickey had sent Trisha a Christmas present. He'd sent it to her two days early, but he'd sent her one anyway. She felt bad about that, because while she had bought him one she hadn't wrapped it or sent it. Not yet.
Mickey's gift to her had come through the door the day before Christmas Eve, and it was marked, 'TRISHA, DONT OPEN TIL XMAS DAY MICKEY x' It was the x that got her wondering. Quite possibly it meant nothing, because they didn't see much of each other anymore. It was bizarre. They'd had their story, and it had lasted for a while and then it had finished with Bad Wolf Day (her name for that day- it deserved a name, it had been a turning point), and now...
...now he was still an incredibly important person in her life, and she was presumably still a little bit important to him, but all they did was exchange emails.
And Christmas presents.
She supposed he was busy. He had a job as a mechanic now, for a start. And, of course, there was the other thing. The fact that he'd helped Rose Tyler travel through time to save her friends, and she wasn't back yet, and it'd been a long time and she might be dead. Trisha didn't know how he dealt with that, and she quietly admired him for it, but...
...it was all over now. They'd said goodbye. They were still friends. The problem there was that Mickey had no friends. He just had Jackie and her and Shareen and the Finch family, and that was it. It was weird, but that was how it worked these days.
After Bad Wolf.
She put the present in the wardrobe. She would do exactly what he said- she wouldn't open it until Christmas Day. It was going to take a lot of willpower. But she just shut the door on it, and went to the window.
And looked out at her graffiti-strewn world.
That evening she went to the shops with Shareen. Christmas shopping. As per usual, conversation turned to the topic of Rose and Mickey- it happened when they went to New Look and Shareen picked up a pink t-shirt and said thoughtfully. "I'll buy this for Rose."
Trisha wanted to say, So you think she's coming back? but the words got stuck in her throat and she had to make do with, "You think it's her size?"
"Yeah, unless she's grown. Dunno what she's eating out there." Shareen folded up the t-shirt and slung it over an arm, and Trisha realised she rather admired Shareen as well. For not doing what she would do- which was stare wistfully at the t-shirt and say something along the lines of "Do you think Mickey's gonna get Rose something like that?"
They wandered on to a DVD store.
"You gettin' your brother anything?" Shareen asked.
"If he was my brother I wouldn't get him anything."
"Then again, I'm a fine one to talk," Shareen continued, flipping through a stack of half-price DVDs. "My cow of a sister, she's spoiled flippin' rotten, and I've bought her a CD. Cheap one, mind."
"'Flippin'?" Trisha said vaguely.
"I gave up swearin' for Christmas."
"You're supposed to do that for Lent."
"Eh. God won't care."
They walked out of the store giggling, under the London Christmas lights, and Trisha marveled to herself, just a little, at how far she'd come since last Christmas.
On Christmas Eve she saw Mickey. Early in the morning, when she was looking out of the window and he was going to work. He didn't look up and he didn't see her, and she felt glum. Just glum. But she put his present in the mailbox, wrapped and with a message saying merry christmas mickey love trisha.
Shareen came round, uninvited, just before lunch. She offered to take Trisha to McDonalds- to drive her there, she'd passed her driving test last month- but Trisha refused; she was tired of fast food. So Shareen took her to the shops instead. Both of them only had a few more presents to buy- Trisha was wondering if she should buy Rose something. They'd barely known each other, but even so.
"What'd you buy Mickey?" Shareen asked her, as they browsed the local bookshop.
"A new digital camera," Trisha answered. "A nice one that'll do videos and stuff. He can use it for his website."
Shareen whistled. "Dear god. That must have cost a fortune- I just got him a mouse mat."
"It didn't cost that much," Trisha answered. "I'd saved up quite a bit,"
"And you spent it all on him?"
Trisha knew that what she really meant was Why go to all that trouble- what's he ever done for you? And she knew the answer to that one. But she didn't say it.
"Did you see the new update to the website, by the way?" Shareen asked. "About the space probe...stuff?"
"Yeah. I did," Trisha answered. "Did you see that little note at the bottom?" she added.
Shareen responded by quoting it word for word, very quietly, "Doctor, if you’re reading this – come back. Bring her back. Or at least tell us what happened. We can't go through another Christmas like the last one."
"D'ya think maybe he does read it, somehow?" Trisha asked finally.
"Dunno. I mean if he did, he'd have brought her back soon as he saw it. Wouldn't he?"
They carried on down the street.
"You'd hope he would," Trisha said. She swallowed then, and said hastily, "D'ya think...d'ya wonder what Mickey's going to feel like tomorrow, if he wakes up and she's not come back? And Jackie. God, Jackie..."
"She might be back," Shareen said carefully.
"I mean, if she's..." Trisha said.
"No, I'm sure she's not..."
"Trisha!" someone called.
Both girls turned around to find Rob, Trisha's older brother, with a blonde on his arm. Closer inspection revealed that the blonde was a girl they knew. A girl called Alex Kelly, who had once dated Jimmy Stone The Psychopath, and was generally considered pretty thick.
Trisha wasn't entirely surprised to see her brother with Alex- she'd heard them talking on the phone and talking about each other. It was weird, though, how it had now gotten to the clinging-to-each-other-in-public stage.
"Trisha," Rob said idly, "-Dad called."
"What?" She got a strange sense of deja vu.
"Called us on his mobile. He's driving down here. Staying for Christmas."
Trisha didn't know what to think. She settled for just being indignant. "Why?"
"He wants to see us. Wants to see you and Sam especially."
"Oh yeah, wants to see us once a year."
"Don't be like that," Rob always got defensive when the subject of their father was brought up. "It's Christmas. You're supposed to see your family at Christmas."
"You're also supposed to not walk out on them in the first place." Trisha said coolly. Shireen, who was busy giving Alex one of those ooh-what-a-slag looks (and Alex was looking right back) nodded her head at this, and said, "Just drop it, Robbie. Scary how you look up to him so much. Don't bode well for Alex, does it?"
"And what is that supposed to mean?" Alex snapped, while running her fingers through Rob's hair.
"Means she's a bitch," Rob said.
"Let's go, baby. She ain't worth it," Alex cooed, and led him off. Rob didn't even bother looking back at Trisha, and so didn't notice she was glaring in fury.
"Goddamn it, he can be a bastard," she said, almost to herself. The words shocked her a little- she wasn't used to hearing herself say things like that. Shareen obviously heard, but pretended she didn't. "Come on," she said. "Let's go shopping."
They went shopping- they bought a box of Christmas chocolates to share and then Shareen remembered they ought to buy something for Maggie and Thomas Finch, so they put the rest of their money together and brought them a photo frame. Then Shareen bought a cheeseburger from McDonalds, and they wished each other Merry Christmas and went home.
And neither of them saw the blue box that had parked itself outside the flats, in plain view, waiting in the darkness.
When Trisha woke up on Christmas Day, she heard music blaring from the living room. Her father was in. What was she going to do with today? God, if only he hadn't come. It was Christmas Day, she couldn't ignore him on Christmas Day, and the day would end in an argument and it'd be worse because it was Christmas...
She got washed and dressed and put on her Christmas earrings- little Santas, a present from her mother two years ago...and went to the living room.
"Morning, Trisha," her father said. He was slumped out over the sofa; he'd obviously slept there. The most infuriating thing about him, Trisha thought, was that he didn't look like the sort of man who'd walk out on his family and get drunk all the time and not remember his own daughter's birthday. He was dressed fairly smartly- shirt, jeans, clean trainers- wasn't surrounded by empty beer bottles- he looked like a decent dad. If only people could be seen for what they really were, Trisha thought just for a second. He'd look like a Slitheen.
"You've lost weight," her father said. "Bloody hell."
"Thank you," Trisha said coolly.
"Arse is still big, but fuck, lads like that." He turned off the CD player with his toe and turned himself around to look at her. Trisha attempted to control her temper. She usually could, but this was going to be different. And how should she address her father, anyway? Call him Dad, or use his first name (which was Roger), or what?
Then Trisha's younger brother Sam walked in, still in his pyjamas. His father gave him an entirely different greeting from the one he'd just given his daughter- he actually picked him up and hugged him.
"Put me down, dad," Sam groaned.
"Haven't seen you for ages!" Roger said enthusiastically. "How's school, my man?"
"Boring as hell," Sam answered. If he was hoping to shock anyone it didn't work; Roger just sat him down on the sofa and began chatting. Trisha glanced at her brother, and thought You don't like him either. Get away from him.
Christmas breakfast was toast. The whole family sat around in the living room and ate and watched TV- Roger's DVDs, to be exact. Roger was tolerable when he was being quiet, and he was absorbed in his telly-watching. Sam had ripped open a present- it was a MP3 player- and he was messing around with that. Rob was asleep on the sofa. Trisha's mother was cleaning things up a bit, sweeping up bits of Christmas tree from the floor, and Trisha suddenly for no reason felt a bit sorry for her. She got up to help, but her father started talking.
"You got yourself a bloke yet, Trish?"
Trisha didn't know what to say.
"She was up to something with Mickey Smith," Rob said, opening one eye lazily.
"The one who they thought killed his girlfriend?"
"Yeah. The one who they thought killed his girlfriend," Trisha said pointedly. "He didn't. She just ran off. He never did anything."
"Never said he did, love," Roger said with a smirk. "He your bloke, then?"
"No," Trisha answered, not sure whether she was lying or not, "We were just friends. We never did anything."
"My arse you didn't, you were always with him," Rob said, and he rolled over on the sofa and knocked a full can of Coke onto the floor with his foot. "Fuck."
Roger grinned at Trisha, an awful patronizing grin. "So, you had a first date with him, then?"
"Sort of." She had had enough of being questioned about her lack of a love life, and she hoped it was clear in her expression.
Roger grinned and went back to the morning telly, but just as Trisha was getting up again he suddenly said, "Very PC, innit?"
"You dating a black guy. Very PC. That's the only reason, eh?"
Trisha stared at him and seethed. She then retreated to her room, all thoughts of helping her mother forgotten. She wanted him out of her house. And out of her life, if at all possible.
He wasn't her father. He was nobody to her.
For five minutes she was alone in her room, then her mobile rang.
It'll be Shareen, she thought. Complaining about her own family, probably. Why can't anyone have a happy Christmas?
It was Shareen, all right.
"Trisha!" she shouted down the phone. "Turn on the television! RIGHT NOW!"
Trisha went to change the channel, still listening to Shareen through the phone in her other hand.
"My sister- she never bloody sleeps- she says it's been going on all night or something! I was asleep! I phoned you soon as I heard! I tried to get Mickey, but his phone's turned off...we ought to go to Jackie's. He might be there, and Rose...might."
"Hold on a second, Shareen."
"Oi, what you want to change the channel for?" Rob demanded. "Dad brought all these DVDs down for us to watch..."
"We need to watch the news!"
"Leave it out, girl!" Roger said crossly. "We're watching."
"Just shut up, alright?" she said.
"Don't talk to me like that!"
An image of an alien appeared on screen.
"You see?" Shareen was saying frantically. "Christ! On Christmas Day and everything! And that's not all, Trisha- I'm outside right now, and if I'm right there'll be....yeah, it's there! The box. They're back."
"Oh, my god. And...the aliens? Are they...did they bring them? What's going on? You're right, we have to go to Jackie's. I'll meet you outside, all right? Don't hang up."
"Right. I won't."
Trisha ran for the door, and found the way blocked. It was Roger, standing in front of her.
"Where d'ya think you're going?"
"Something's happening, alright? I've gotta go...and meet my friends." She tried to get past him, and failed. "Stop it!"
"It's Christmas. You ought to stay with us. Your family. Me. Since you've been giving me the cold shoulder ever since I arrived."
She saw red, and lashed out.
"You bastard! You left us, alright? You left me! Went off and left us all! And you come waltzing in and act like you still..." She was out of breath, she was messing up. "...just let me leave, alright? I never even want to look at you again."
Every person in the flat held their breath.
"Now listen to me, you little-" Roger began, and then he stopped. Because there was a suddenly long flash of blue light, blue light around his head...and Trisha felt her heart sink. It was happening here. It was happening now. It wasn't like last time.
This time she knew no secrets. This time there was nothing she could do. Bad Wolf Day was over.
And the alien invasion had just started.
"Where's he going?" Trisha's mother shouted, as Roger walked out of the door.
"I don't know." Trisha answered flatly.
"Dad?" Rob called.
They all went out into the corridor. People were coming down the stairs- some of them just walking, others talking frantically.
"Joe? Joe, stop it, come back inside-"
"Look, kids, stop it, stop it please-"
"Where are you going?"
"Dad?" Rob tried again.
Trisha suddenly remembered Shareen was supposed to still be on the phone.
"Shareen? Shareen, are you still there?"
There was a pause, and then Shareen said slowly, "Er...are people walking? As in...out?"
"Shit. Oh, shit. My aunt just went. And my cousin. Shit, shit, shit. What's happening?" She was clearly beginning to panic. Trisha felt like joining her.
"Why isn't it happening to us?"
"I dunno, Trish, I've got no fucking idea. Look, the box...it's still here...this is stupid, I have to go, I'll meet you...shit, she's heading for the roof. I gotta go-"
She hung up. Trisha was on her own. Her mother grabbed her arm.
"Follow him!" she shouted. "Follow everyone!"
They were heading for the roof.
Oh my god oh my god I'm just another person and there's nothing I can do, there's always going to be other people who have nothing they can do, that's just the way the world works, you were lucky to ever get to do anything...
It was Shareen.
"Oh my god, Shareen, are you okay?"
"My aunt and cousin," she said breathlessly. "They're standing on the edge. My aunt and my five-year-old cousin!"
"What do we do? Listen, I thought I saw Mickey and Rose heading for another roof..."
"I thought I did. I was...you know, I wasn't really watching..."
"The box. The time traveling thing. Where was it? We can't see it from here, can we?"
"No." They were on the roof by now. "No, we can't. Why? Were you going to see if they went back there?"
"I dunno...I think..."
"Shareen!" A woman was shouting- it was Shareen's mother, holding the hand of another woman. The other woman seemed alright, though- except that she was sobbing hysterically.
"Shareen! Come look after Shania! Do something, anyway! Oh Christ..."
And then Rob, standing a little way away, joined in. "Trisha! Come here! What's happening, Trisha?"
The world seemed to slow down a little. Trisha heard the shouts and screaming and crying, but they seemed to be only in the back of her brain. She felt the ground beneath her feet, and felt like fainting, and thought, The apocalypse is here.
Mickey's left me, and he's never coming back, because he loves Rose. What do I do now? Am I angry?
We might all die.
Shareen tugged at her arm. "Trisha? Oh Christ, don't do this to me now. Wait- oh shit, it's you, isn't it? You're not...being controlled? Trisha!"
Rob was there too now. "Trisha! You stupid girl! We're all frightened!"
The words BAD WOLF flew across her mind, and then left, and then she was smacked across the face and it hurt like hell. She almost fell backwards with shock, and she was awake again, thank god, and...
...I'm such a coward...
...it had been Rob who'd slapped her, and now Shareen was shouting.
"You son of a bitch! Don't you ever do that to her again!"
"I'm alright," Trisha said. "I'm alright."
Shareen tried to slap Rob back, but he grabbed her hand. And then a policeman was running towards them, but he wouldn't know what to do either, Trisha thought.
"You lot! Stop fighting, or you're dead!"
He said dead, Trisha thought. Not 'nicked' or 'in trouble' but dead.
Rob started yelling and Shareen started yelling but there was no more hitting. The policeman went away in disgust. Rob went to stand by his father- not that it did much good. And there were so many people, and they all were crying except for the hypnotized ones, and Shareen's mother was still yelling and her sister was still crying and Shareen's five-year-old cousin might be dead in a few minutes, few hours, whatever, and...
She realised the slap round the face might almost have helped, because it had shocked her out of her stupor, and everytime she thought about it the anger towards her brother brought her down to Earth. She ought to hit him back.
"We need to organize ourselves." Shareen said.
"I know," Trisha said hopelessly.
But there seemed no chance of that. The roof was crowded with a mess of screaming people.
This is what alien invasions are like. This is what Rose does. Good lord.
Her attention turned, very gradually, back towards her family. They were standing in a small huddle together, like a few other families were. Her mother was crying. Sam was crying too. Rob looked just plain frightened and furious. And her father was just standing there, unmoving.
Nobody was comforting anyone else.
All around the edge of the roof were people clinging onto other people. All in the middle were people talking, crying, screaming. People waiting for the end of the world. People fighting. People sobbing on the ground all alone.
The Doctor's here, he'll save us...
But he wouldn't save everyone, surely?
Everyone else has to save everyone else, was the useless phrase which drifted through her mind.
"Trisha!" Shareen was by her side once more. "Mum says to go back inside and try the TVs."
"In case...there's any information, I suppose. Not that there will be, but..." She shrugged.
They went to Shareen's flat. They raced past people crying in the streets, and up the empty staircases.
There'll be suicides. Murders. People will die. They could be dying right now. Anyone could. My father could.
She tried not to care about that last part. Tried and failed. Shareen turned the television on and slumped on a sofa.
"Bring out the popcorn," she said humourlessly.
They watched. A simple newsflash was playing over and over again: Do not panic. Do not attempt to move those under control. Stay with them by all means, but do not attempt to communicate with them, and do not panic.
DO NOT PANIC.
But they were.
"Let's go back to the roof." Shareen said glumly, after they'd watched it loop through a couple of times.
"Yeah." Trisha agreed. She felt like she ought to say something else, but she couldn't think of a thing. She glanced around the flat. There were crooked pictures on the wall, a box of tissues on the floor, a pink mobile phone on a coffee table. How could everything be so normal when the world was coming to an end? Why weren't the pictures screaming?
"Hold on a second," Shareen said. "Look!"
Trisha looked at the screen. Prime Minister Harriet Jones was there, staring out. She looked exhausted. Shareen sat down right next to the TV, arms crossed across her legs.
"Ladies and Gentlemen," Harriet Jones said. "If I may take a moment during this terrible time. It's hardly the Queen's speech, I'm afraid that's been cancelled." She turned to someone offscreen. "Did we ask about the Royal Family?...oh. They're on the roof."
It sounded almost funny. If only she could laugh a little.
"Ladies and gentlemen, this crisis is unique, and I'm afraid to say it might get much worse," Jones went on. "I would ask you all to remain calm. But I have one request. Doctor...if you're out there, we need you."
Shareen gave a little gasp and looked at Trisha. Trisha looked back.
"I don't know what to do. But if you can hear me, Doctor..."
"Oh God," Trisha muttered.
"If anyone knows the Doctor, if anyone can find him... the situation has never been more desperate."
"We know him," Shareen whispered.
"We know. We know things. We know about the box, we know Rose!" She was almost shouting. "Rose! We need to tell somebody about Rose!"
"They might already know," Trisha said, trying to stay calm.
"But do they know Rose is back?"
"Oh my god. Yeah. You're right. But if he's back," Trisha said slowly, "why isn't he doing anything?"
They looked at each other, each asking themselves the same questions.
"Maybe he can't." Shareen said. "What do we know? Only that something major happened, and Rose came back, and she left...shit...what if she came back again, in the box, but without him? Again, I mean?"
Trisha was reaching for her mobile phone.
"I'm calling Mickey."
"He won't answer. His phone'll be turned off, he's too busy to answer it."
"Cause he's gone and done to you what Rose did to him."
Trisha's hands froze in horror, and she almost dropped the phone.
"That's not true," she whispered. "That's not true. Because I..." The right words just weren't reaching her mind. "I...I'm not in love with him."
Trisha screamed and Shareen screamed and they scrambled down behind one of the sofas, not knowing what was happening. And then there was the sound of falling glass. Thousands of windows cracking. Everything breakable breaking.
I'm not in love with him.
I knew that.
Shareen was swearing, using every bad word under the sun. She got up, and Trisha got up too. They looked around the room- the windows were all broken.
"Back to the roof." Shareen said.
Trisha didn't need telling twice. The two of them ran, down the stairs, down the street...
"SHIT OH MY GOD LOOK UP THERE!" some unnamed person in the road was shouting. "LOOK UP THERE!"
Other people were shouting. Everyone was. Trisha and Shareen looked up.
Sam was sobbing his eyes out when Trisha got back to her family.
"Aliens," he was sobbing. "Aliens."
"I know," Trisha said hopelessly, trying to comfort him.
"We're gonna die." Rob said.
"How do you know?"
Everyone around her seemed to share Rob's opinion. People were crying, wailing, pointing at the sky. At the spaceship. And Trisha didn't know what to do.
She wished Mickey was here.
The world seemed to be a whirlwind again. To her right, a woman was trying to convince her hypnotized husband to have a bite of mince pie. To her left, a boy was staring forlornly at an unopened present. Trisha reached up to touch her Santa Claus earrings.
Shareen was at her side again. "Shania just told me there's been a murder. Somewhere round here. Someone shoved someone else off the roof."
"But not this roof. One of the other blocks." Trisha realised Shareen had a cigarette between her fingers.
"Why do we do this?" she said giddily. "Go mad whenever something goes wrong."
"I dunno," Shareen said. "But you have to admit this is pretty wrong."
"Who was murdered?"
"I dunno. And there's a woman over-" She pointed to the roof of a nearby building- "there whose husband is standing on the edge, and she's strapped her one-year-old to him, and she's saying if he goes the whole family goes, her included. And there's people trying to stop her-"
Trisha felt like throwing up.
"And there's people looting the flats downstairs, of course."
"Of course," Trisha said hopelessly. "Most people left the doors open."
Shareen took a drag on her cigarette. "I don't suppose you want to hear more. Shania seems to have tons of stories. Then again, she always was the gossip in the family."
"We're doomed." Trisha said flatly.
"I know. How about you try your first cigarette, before you're doomed?"
"Not a chance."
Trisha heard Sam's cries again, and her mother talking frantically. She listened. She was talking to Roger.
"Roger. I never loved you. I hated you for a fucking long time. But don't jump. Don't jump, alright? If you're in there...think of the kids. Rob adores you. I know you were always fond of Sam. And Trisha..."
"They're going to jump," Shireen said, her voice flat and empty. "They're going to jump and we can't do a thing."
There was a split second of silence, in Trisha's mind at least.
She walked to the edge, where her father stood, and there was chaos in her head and crying in her ears.
"And Trisha..." her mother said again.
"Dad," Trisha said, actually making her mother jump. "Dad-"
What to say now? I think you're a racist sexist bastard but you are my father after all? Or the other end of the spectrum, please don't jump I love you?
"-you're not going to jump."
That was all she could think of and she knew it wouldn't work. So, hopelessly, she reached up and clung to him, even though she alone could never hold back a jumping man.
"No point, Trisha," her mother said. "No point."
Rob and Sam were sitting together now, sprawled on the concrete ground. Both looked hopeless. Everyone looked hopeless.
She went back to Shareen, who was with her own family now. Shania, her glamorous older sister, was sitting on the ground not looking at anyone. She was also smoking a cigarette.
"Hey, Shania," Shireen said. "This is my best mate Trisha."
Shania glanced up. "Hi." she said.
The two of them sat down next to her. "Your phone still working?" Shareen asked her.
"Yeah. Dominique just called me," she said, in a gloomy voice. "Some old man who lived next to her, he was...hypnotised as well. But he never made it to the roof. He lived alone, and he'd locked the door, so he went out of the window. It was a big window. But it'd been broken up two days ago, by a bunch of thugs...he sliced his head open on the glass, and he bled to death on the roof of his garage."
Trisha stared. Shireen grabbed her arm, stood up, and led her away.
"You spend too long around my sister and you want a truckload of antidepressants. Jesus."
"You won't be the only one," Shania called to them, and pointed over their heads. The two of them turned around to see a bunch of boys beating up a policeman...the same one who had said or you're dead a while ago. He was screaming.
"Why are they doing that?" Trisha asked, lost in the sound of the punches and the yelling.
"Because everyone thinks they might die." Shareen answered. Her voice was thin and high; she was about to start crying. Trisha was sure she would join her.
"No," Shania said from behind them. "Because a few minutes ago he was passing on information. He was telling people to get off the roof, the spaceship could fire any moment."
Trisha could still hear Sam crying, and she could see her family in the corner of her eye. She could also see all the people on the edge, and the people in the fight, and she wondered what it would be like if she could see everything. People all over the world, standing on the rooftops. On top of the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building. Everywhere. Warnings being screamed in French, German, Welsh, Spanish, everything, everywhere, people....
Rob was going to join in the fight. Sam and her mother attempted to hold him back, but they couldn't.
"I do not believe your brother," Shareen groaned. Rob was marching into the rapidly increasing fray, and grabbing the hand of a blonde bloke.
"That's Alex's brother there," Trisha said suddenly.
"That man. He's Alex's brother. Lloyd, I think. He and Rob must be mates."
"Where is Alex anyway? She's the only one can control Rob. Where is she?"
"I don't know."
There was nothing she could do. The scene on the roof was descending into anarchy. She could stand up, shout STOP, but no-one would stop. They wouldn't be able to hear her.
"Trisha!" her mother was calling. "I think all of us have to go inside. It's not safe!" Tears were streaming down her face. "That ship could fire any minute. And this lot too! Get Rob! I'll take Sam."
She couldn't get Rob, she couldn't get near enough. He and Lloyd were busy taking revenge for the black eye Lloyd was now sporting. They were hitting some man, some man with dark hair Trisha didn't know. He was screaming.
RUN AND HIDE BECAUSE THE MONSTERS ARE COMING, THE HUMAN RACE.
"Trisha! Come on! We have to leave your father! We have to go inside."
"Is she right?" Shareen whispered. "The ship might fire? Who says the ship might fire?"
"Everyone's saying it." Shania said.
Everyone else has to save everyone else, Trisha thought. What would Mickey do in this situation? Wait- he'd do whatever Rose would do, because Rose is a time traveller. Rose would do whatever the Doctor would do, because he is something out of space and time.
So the question that remains is...what would you do?
She walked over to her brother, her stupid brother, and grabbed his hand.
"Stop it, Rob. Stop it right now."
"Get out of it," he said, and shoved her out of the way. Harder than perhaps he meant to. She fell.
"Trisha!" her mother shouted.
She lay there, staring right up at the spaceship, no people in sight, just noise. And the noise was getting quieter. She was one person, and she could do nothing.
"Rob, you-" It was Shareen, and she had just punched him.
Two people, then.
"Trisha, get up!" her mother was shouting. Sam was shouting, too. "The ship's gonna fire!"
Panic was starting to overtake the people on the roof. A few people were starting to run. Some had stopped fighting in order to run, others were still clinging to their loved ones on the edge.
Panic and screaming. What could they do?
The words were flying through the head. The message had been important, and she had been one of the messengers. If you did that...
"TRISHA IT'S GONNA FIRE-"
...if you once delivered the most important message in the universe...
More and more people were running now. Running and panicking. It was a crazed stampede now, driven by terror. Human beings were terrified creatures by nature-
...you could do anything.
It was there, plain as the writing in the wall, the graffiti in the park, the chalk letters on the ground, her own small message: everyone else has to save everyone else.
She got up.
"It's not going to fire!" she shrieked. "It's not going to fire! The Doctor says it's not going to fire!"
That was never going to work- her swearing on the name of a man she'd never know. But it did work. The people who had seen the television broadcast, and who had been told what it had said- they all stopped in their tracks. And for one split second, everything was quiet.
Some people ran back down to the houses, and Trisha didn't blame them in the slightest. But others just stood around helplessly, having ceased to fight, ceased to scream- and they were looking at her, she realised uncomfortably.
"You know the Doctor?" one man said. "You know who Jones was talking about?"
"No," Trisha answered. "I've just heard of him. Seen websites and the like. But it's not going to fire! It's just a false alarm!" She was talking as fast as she possibly could. "I had to say something just now! Just try and be calm, okay? Or something. Please."
And they did. Or they seemed to. People inched back to the edge of the building, sat down on the concrete, looked around bewildered.
Sam spoke up.
"Does anyone want some food?" he said in a small voice. "Cake or something?"
"Yes," someone said, a kid about Sam's age.
"I'll get some," Trisha's mother said, shaking and holding her cardigan to her. She stepped away from the edge. Trisha then noticed two bodies on the floor, the people who'd been in the fight...the policeman, and the bloke Rob and Lloyd had been beating up.
"Christ." Shareen said.
Someone gave a whimper. Trisha thought it was Sam, but it wasn't. It was Rob, leaning over the body of the man he'd just beaten up.
"Oh shit I didn't mean to I dunno what I was doing...you hit me," he trailed off, looking at Shareen.
"You deserved it," Shireen shot back. "You hit your own sister! Could've knocked her out!"
"I'm sorry," Rob muttered, and Trisha thought he probably meant it.
"What do we do?" Shania spoke up.
"It's probably better if more people are in the flats," Trisha said thoughtfully. "I mean...we're a bunch of loonies, all of us."
"What about the people on the edge?" Shareen said. "Jesus Christ, a load of people just ran off and abandoned their loved ones. They're going to need a shitload of therapy when this is over."
"We all will." Trisha's mother said.
Trisha tried desperately to think. Why was everyone still on the roof looking at her, anyway? "Okay. Rob, go get...plasters and bandages and stuff. For these two here. In fact, bring the whole medicine cupboard."
"Um, I've got a medical student staying with me," one of the women volunteered. "He's not here now, he went to Wales, but I can go get some of his stuff."
People hurried off in their various directions. Trisha leaned over the dark-haired man while Shareen's father tried to help the policeman up.
"Are you all right?" she asked him.
He groaned. "Aliens," he said giddily.
"Yeah." Trisha said.
"Me old mum..." The man looked around. "She's still here. Phew. They're all still here. What's happening?"
"There was a sort of riot-stampede," Shareen filled in.
"I heard a woman yelling," the man said to Trisha. "You?"
"Saying the ship's not going to fire. It's not, is it?"
"How'd you know?"
The man pulled himself to his feet. "Name's Howard," he said, sticking out a hand.
"Trisha," Trisha said, taking it.
"Nice to meet ya. Now, where'd the bastards who...there's one of 'em." He started towards Lloyd, but Shareen and Trisha together held him back.
"Been enough fighting," Shareen said. "We need to help people now."
Neither of the men were hurt too badly...or at least, not as badly as they could have been. Rob and Lloyd stayed out of their way- at least, until Rob came over to talk to Trisha.
"I dropped in on Alex when I was getting the bandages. She's hiding in her flat with her mum."
"I am sorry I hit you, right. Sorry I hit you twice."
"It's alright." It probably wasn't, but whatever.
"What was that about the Doctor, Trisha?"
"Don't ask, alright, Rob?"
He didn't ask, and went away. Howard popped up behind her.
"The Doctor? Say, you know Jackie Tyler?"
"She mentioned a Doctor once. I mean...a capital-D Doctor. Sounded like someone important."
Trisha nodded. That was all she could really do.
"You know Mickey Smith as well?"
All of a sudden, all the people on the edge took a step forward. It happened with no warning, nothing, and Shania and some others screamed out loud. Trisha's heart leapt into her mouth-
-and then they were back. With no reason, her father stepped away from the edge, and turned around.
Trisha could only look on in wonder.
"Elliot!" a female voice shrinked, and she turned to see Shareen's aunt drag her five-year-old son away from the edge. "Oh my God, what happened? And what the bloody hell is that?" The people who'd been on the edge were all stepping back now, and looking up, and putting two and two together.
"I was abducted by aliens!" one teenage boy yelled out. "Wicked!"
"What happened?" said Roger. "Why am I on the roof?" He stared dazedly around and his gaze landed on Trisha. "I was shouting at you."
"Yeah, you were," she said.
Rob marched forward then, and hugged his father fiercely. Trisha looked the other way. She was about to walk off when she received a hug as well- her mother had come to her.
"Well done," she said.
"I didn't do anything," Trisha said.
"My arse you didn't," Shareen said.
Shareen and Trisha helped Howard take his old mum home.
"Who exactly is the Doctor?" Howard questioned her on the way. "Jackie talks about him, Mickey Smith talks about him, the bleedin' Prime Minister talks about him and now you scream his name."
"I don't know who he is," Trisha said carefully. "I've just heard about him. He's some kind of...magician, I suppose. Something like that."
"The mythology of the Powell Estate, hmmm?"
Howard let them in and they sat around and ate biscuits for a bit. Howard's mother turned the TV on- the spaceship was still there. There were reports of things having been seen falling from it.
"We'd better go home," Shareen said.
"Yeah," Trisha said.
But they didn't. They sat outside, staring up at the spaceship. They weren't the only ones- the streets were crowded and frantic people ran to and fro, taking photographs of the thing in the sky. Some were holding banners, and some were still crying.
"He'll be up there, maybe?" Shareen said quietly.
"Mickey or the Doctor?"
"Both, I reckon."
Trisha's mobile phone rang. She exchanged a look with Shareen and then answered it. "Hello?"
"Trisha?" her father demanded. "Where are you? Come home right this minute. There's still a fucking spaceship above us, you know."
"What's happening?" she answered. "Is everyone alright?"
"Scared but fine. You get your arse over here, alright."
He hung up. Trisha sighed and flicked the phone shut.
"I'd better get back too," Shareen said. "It'll be chaos up at my place. I'll see ya."
They hugged and went their separate ways.
Trisha walked into her flat. Her family was sitting around the TV- it was showing scenes from Paris, people being helped down the Eiffel Tower. No-one was saying a word.
"Bad Wolf." Sam said.
Trisha's heart almost stopped. "What?"
"That was something to do with the Doctor," He looked her up and down. "You know something, don't you?"
Her whole family stared like she was a stranger.
"I only know what Mickey's been telling me," Trisha said quietly. "He was studying the Doctor, he knows a lot."
"You shouted his name."
"I had to do something. It was the only thing that would make everyone stop."
They stared for a few seconds more, and one by one turned back to the television.
"I'm going to go outside." Trisha said.
"Then go," her mother said. But she was looking at Trisha again, one of those looks every mother gave her kids eventually, a oh my god you grew up sort of look. "But keep your phone on, and come back soon."
She stepped outside and looked around. There were still people around, but not many, and...
...the ship had gone.
She barely had time to digest this information when there was a noise and a flash of green light-
oh no oh no we won it's over NO!
-and a far-off explosion sound, and that was it. It was over. No spaceship, no more standing on the edge, it was...
...they'd blown it up. Someone had blown the spaceship up. If Mickey and Rose and the Doctor and possibly even Jackie had been on board, what had happened? Were they alright? She could barely breathe.
And then she heard cheering. Cheering and cheering and cheering. People had heard, people had seen, planet earth was triumphant and the aliens were dead. People came running out of houses, running down the road, shouting and clapping and she just stood in the middle of it, not knowing what to do.
People ran past her, jogging into her, and she didn't notice. She realised she was scared. She shook her head, and turned around, not knowing where to go. And then felt a hand on her shoulder.
It was Shareen. Trisha turned to look at her.
"S'over," Shareen murmured.
"They'd have gotten off," Shareen said. "They wouldn't have been there. It just doesn't work like that."
They hugged again, and Trisha's mind flew. Bizarre how friendship worked. For example- if Rose had never left, Mickey wouldn't have Jackie, and if Mickey hadn't been left, she herself wouldn't have Shareen. Or anyone. How weird.
Weirder than aliens, in a way.
They just stood around for ages while people relayed news. It had been a mysterious government organization responsible for the green lasers. The Prime Minister had given the order to fire. Even after the aliens had surrendered, she'd given the order. Trisha listened to every story, and then she and Shareen went home.
It took her a while to pluck up the courage, but she phoned Mickey.
"Hello?" he said. He sounded happy.
"It's me, Trisha." she said.
"Trisha! Merry Christmas!" Suddenly he trailed off a little. "Are you alright?"
"Yeah. Think so. I was worried about you."
"Why?" He sounded genuinely puzzled.
"'Cos...you do dangerous stuff."
He was silent. Then he said. "Um, yeah...you're right...yeah."
"What are you doing?"
"Having a Christmas party. Me and Jackie and Rose and the Doctor." He swallowed a bit, and said, "I was there. On board that ship. There was a sword fight," He sounded amazed. "It was...incredible."
"Mickey," Trisha said.
"When Rose leaves...are you going with her?"
He wouldn't answer, she thought. He'd hang up. But he answered. "I don't know. I might go for a little while, see some stuff. But I'll come back. I'll always come back. And I'll stay back- I'll be here next Christmas."
"Alright." Trisha said quietly. And then she said, "You...do what you think is right, okay?"
"What do you think is right?" Mickey asked her. "Not for me, for you."
Trisha thought about the night she'd met Mickey, and the words Bad Wolf written on the ground, and the screaming echoed in from hours ago. She thought about the ability to go anywhere, do anything, see anything she wanted- and then she thought of how it had felt when she'd stood up and screamed and people had stopped running.
People had listened.
She thought of Shareen standing up for her and her brothers sitting on the ground hopelessly and her mother looking at her as if she was a different person, and she thought of Christmas, the real Christmas, presents and food and television and going shopping with Shareen.
There is no Christmas on Mars, if you leave the planet you have to leave so much behind-
and she said-
Mickey took a deep breath and said, "You're fantastic, Trisha," There was genuine admiration in his voice, and she blushed.
"Um, thanks. So are you. And I know you want to go..."
"I'll be back," he said. "I'll be back, and I'll bring you the best Christmas presents in the world to make up for the camera you got me."
"Oh, you opened it!"
"Yeah. You open yours sometime, alright? The Doctor'll be back in a minute, I reckon, Trish- I'll see you soon. I promise."
"Goodbye, then. And good luck!- and be careful"
She put down the phone and leaned against the wall.
She'd just made the most important decision of her life.
Her father left the next day. She woke up and found him packing. Rob was helping him, Sam and her mother were staying out of the way.
"You're going?" she said in astonishment.
"Yeah," he said curtly.
"I don't live here, Trisha," he said, throwing his shirts into his suitcase. "I don't like it here."
"So you left us," Trisha said coolly. "Your family."
"I left because I wanted a better life, Trisha, surely you know that. I was working full-time in a soft-drinks factory after Sam was born, for fuck's sake-"
"We were your better life!"
She didn't know where that had come from. She didn't care. All she knew was that she was angry, and her father didn't care about her, and if he left he would never bother coming back. Never ever bother coming back, even after what had happened Christmas Day.
She walked out, walked right out of the flat, down the road, to Shareen's place.
She and Shareen walked down the road. The aftermath of yesterday was plain to see- there was litter on the ground, sick in the gutters (Trisha felt a little sick herself) and just general mess.
"Your cousin and aunt alright?" she asked Shareen.
"Yeah. Dead shaken up, though. Everyone is, I guess."
"How's your dad?"
They walked slowly down the road and then Trisha couldn't help herself- she had to say it.
"I hate him," she muttered.
"Who?" Shareen said, alarmed. "Wait, what'd Mickey say to you?"
"Not Mickey. Not him, my father! I hate him."
"Oh, Trish, you don't." Shareen said.
"I do! He's a bastard, a racist sexist bastard and he's leaving," She could hardly breathe for anger. "He doesn't care. We waited there, on that roof, and, and..."
Shareen put her arm around her.
"Everyone leaves." Trisha murmured. "Everyone leaves."
"And some of them come back."
"True," She could feel the anger leaving, and she felt a bit ashamed of herself. Did she hate her father? Had she gone as far as actual hate before?
"Hey," Shareen said suddenly, "There's Howard. That bloke from yesterday."
Trisha looked. It was him all right- he was just walking down the road eating a banana. He spotted them, as well. "Hi, girls!"
"Hi, Howard." Shareen answered.
They stood around and chatted. The sun was still rising.
"So," Howard said, as if he was still trying to get the previous day's events straight, "does Mickey know the Doctor? Has he met him?"
"Yeah," Trisha said, not knowing what else to say.
"Have you, young Trisha?"
"Me neither," said Shareen.
"Hmmm. Were you going out with Mickey, Trisha? Because that's what Jackie says."
"Yeah," Trisha said. "Yeah, just going out."
"I thought he was going out with Rose Tyler."
"He...was." Trisha said slowly. "He'll probably go back to her, or something. I mean...fall in love with her again."
"Not necessarily, sweetheart." Howard took another bite of banana. "Love is a strange, strange, goddamn freaky thing. Were you in love with him, Trisha?"
"No," she said, and the words came out. She could explain herself now. "He was my friend. A good friend. He...helped me out. Showed me stuff."
"Showed you what? London?" Howard asked cryptically.
"Yeah...London. And...just...he showed me I had a future."
Howard shook his head and grinned. "Well, that sounds like enough. The future's most important. Here- have an orange." And he threw her one. She caught it. And then he walked away, eating his banana, until he was gone in the morning mist. The two girls were left alone.
Trisha felt weird.
"Hey," Shareen said, almost idly, "I changed my mind, you know. Mickey didn't do to you what Rose did to him."
"What makes you say that?"
"Cause...Rose just ran off, right? Just insulted him and ran off and left him for a year, or...something. Hell, couple of years back I'd have laughed at the thought of that...but...what I'm saying is-" She drew herself up, as if she knew she was saying something important. "He didn't leave you like that. I mean, he didn't leave you feeling alone and hopeless. Because you said it, just now, he showed you you had a future. And he wouldn't be, like, on the verge of leaving if he thought you'd just be...feeling whatever he felt when he thought he'd been left behind. Maybe he..." She sighed. "You know how Rose was always going on about the Doctor showing her new stuff, and showing her how to do new stuff, and all that? Well, Mickey's been doing that. For you. 'Cept he showed you stuff on Earth. I suppose he did it by accident, but there you go."
Trisha nodded and smiled and looked out at London. "Thanks, Shareen. That means a lot." She felt like crying, but she'd done enough crying already.
Shareen grabbed her hand and helped her up. "C'mon, you. Show's over. Planet's saved. And we know," she said wistfully. "We know more than almost anyone else 'cept Jackie. We can help people out."
"Yeah," Trisha said. "We can do that."
When she returned to her home, still with Shareen, her father had left already. Rob had gone back to bed. Sam was watching the TV- the Prime Minister was on. Her mother was also asleep.
"Mickey's present?" Shareen asked.
"Yeah," Trisha said.
She went and got it, and the two girls sat on the sofa, and Trisha opened it.
She held it up, and unwrapped the paper, and inside was...a blue box.
Just a box. It didn't feel like there was anything in it. And it certainly wasn't a time machine. She opened the box.
Inside was a small, and incredibly light, purple stone sitting on top of a note. Trisha stared. She took out the stone.
"It's gorgeous," Shareen breathed. "Read the note."
Trisha gave Shareen the stone to hold, and read the note.
I don't know if I'll leave with Rose or stay here or what. I don't want to leave you or Jackie or anyone, you see, but I don't want to leave Rose either. Even though she left first. It's really complicated.
But if I go I'M COMING BACK.
Oh, and the purple stone, Rose gave it to me. She gave me lots of stuff and I thought you should have it. It's from a place called Raxicoricofallapatorios. That's probably not how you spell it. But anyway, the aliens who invaded Earth before, who you asked me about? How all this started? They were from there. So the stone is for you.
I'll see you later, I swear.
"Blimey," Shareen said. "All I got from him was a bloody CD. You alright?"
Trisha wiped her eyes.
"I'm alright," she said quietly. "We're all alright."