The TARDIS gave a small jolt as it landed. Lilith bounced into the console room. “Where’d we land?”
“London, 2005,” the Doctor answered. “Rose’s running home to talk to her mother.” He made a face.
“Humans and their domestics, huh, Uncle?” Lilith teased.
“Oi!” Rose protested, but she did so with a smile. She pushed the door to the TARDIS open. The two aliens followed her out into London. “How long have I been gone?” she asked.
“About twelve hours,” the Doctor said, leaning against the TARDIS. Lilith rolled her eyes at his smugness.
Rose laughed. “Right, I won't be long. I just want to see my mum.”
“What're you going to tell her?”
“I don't know. I've been to the year 5 billion and only been gone, what, twelve hours?” Rose said sarcastically. “No, I'll just tell her I spent the night at Shareen's. See you later. Oi,” she pointed at Lilith, “don't you let him disappear!”
Rose laughed and jogged off as Lilith saluted with a wink. She shoved her hands in the pockets of the denim jacket she wore over her dress. “She was a good choice.”
“Clever and quick. The two most important traits in a companion and she’s got ‘em,” the Doctor said almost jokingly. Lilith murmured in agreement. A poster on a cement pole caught her eye.
The mirth in her eyes faded into horror as she read what was on the paper. She swore in Gallifreyan and took off, shoving the poster into the Doctor’s chest as she passed him.
It was a missing person flyer.
The Doctor raced after her.
Lilith burst into the Tyler flat to fin Jackie hugging Rose. Several different kinds of missing person posters littered the table. “He got it wrong. It's not twelve hours, it's twelve months. You've been gone a whole year. Sorry.”
Lilith was leaning against the window, looking at the young boy spray painting words on the TARDIS. The last words she wanted to see at the moment. Bad Wolf .
Jackie had gotten over her shock at seeing Rose again and had made her way into the ‘furious’ stage. The Police had been called and the elder Tyler was yelling at her daughter. “The hours I've sat here, days and weeks and months, all on my own! I thought you were dead, and where were you? Traveling with Lilith! What the hell does that mean, traveling? That's no sort of answer!” She turned to the officer. “You ask her. She won't tell me. That's all she says. Traveling!”
“That's what we were doing.” Rose said.
“When your passport's still in the drawer? It's just one lie after another.”
“I meant to phone,” the younger Tyler insisted. “I really did. I just I forgot.”
“What, for a year? You forgot for a year? And I am left sitting here. I just don't believe you. Why won't you tell me where you've been?”
The Doctor, who was clearly sick of the yelling, cut in. “Actually, it's my fault. I sort of er, employed Rose as my companion.”
Lilith cringed. Bad choice of words.
“When you say companion, is this a sexual relationship?” the officer asked.
The three time travelers answered in unison. “No.” The Doctor looked as though he found it humorous, Rose was more exasperated, and Lilith was barely containing her laughter at the thought.
Oh if they only knew.
“Then what is it?” Jackie demanded, marching up to the Doctor. “Because you, you waltz in here all charm and smiles, and the next thing I know, two girls vanish off the face of the Earth! How old are you then? Forty? Forty-five? What, did you find them on the Internet? Did you go online and pretend you're a doctor?”
“I am a Doctor!” he insisted, clearly insulted.
“Prove it. Stitch this, mate!” Jackie smacked the Doctor across the face, hard. Lilith was at his side in a moment.
“Damn, that sounded like it hurt,” she said, checking to see if he was all right. The two Tylers had retreated into the kitchen.
“It did,” he muttered. Glaring at the officer, he marched out of the flat. Rose poked her head out of the kitchen and looked at Lilith. She motioned towards the door and the two girls left to meet the Doctor on the roof.
“How’s the face?” Lilith asked as Rose jumped up onto a ledge. The Doctor waved her off, non-committedly.
“I can't tell her. I can't even begin.” Rose sighed. “She's never going to forgive me. And I missed a year. Was it good?”
“Middling,” the Doctor shrugged.
“You're so useless.”
“Well, if it's this much trouble, are you going to stay here now?”
Rose hesitated. “I don't know. I can't do that to her again, though.”
“Well, she's not coming with us.” Lilith said, taking a seat on the other side of the Doctor.
“No chance.” Rose laughed.
“I don't do families,” the Doctor said.
“You’ve got Lilith sitting right here.” Rose pointed out.
Lilith shrugged. “He’s just upset ‘cuz he got slapped.”
“Nine hundred years of time and space, and I've never been slapped by someone's mother.”
Rose chuckled at that. “Your face.”
“It hurt!” the Doctor protested.
“Wimp.” Lilith poked him in the arm.
After a pause, Rose asked, “When you say nine hundred years?”
“That's my age.”
“You're nine hundred years old.”
Lilith snorted. “Liar. You’ve been traveling for nine hundred years. You were twice my age when you started.”
“And how old are you?” Rose questioned.
“A hundred,” the Doctor answered for her.
Lilith sat up a little straighter. “One hundred and twelve, thank you very much.”
Rose jumped down and walked over to the edge of the roof. “Every conversation with you two just goes mental. There's no one else I can talk to. I've seen all that stuff up there, the size of it, and I can't say a word. Aliens and spaceships and things, and I'm the only person on planet Earth who knows they exist.”
“Well,” Lilith said, “there’s—”
A deep horn cut her off; and a spaceship trailing black smoke passed overhead and headed for the city. It missed Tower Bridge, wove around St Paul's, then, with a nasty back-fire and a splutter, it dove for the Thames, taking out a bit of Big Ben on the way down. The clock tower chimed once and the spaceship crashed into the river. The Doctor, Rose, and Lilith watched a plume of black smoke rise into the air on the horizon.
“Oh, that's just not fair.”
The Doctor laughed and grabbed Rose’s hand, dashing off. Lilith followed with a bright grin on her face.
‘ Army? Navy? ’ Lilith wondered, watching the men in red berets patrol and block off the streets.
‘Nope, UNIT,’ the Doctor told her.
‘The people you worked with in your third incarnation? Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and those guys?’
‘Yep.’ “It's blocked off,” he said aloud.
“We're miles from the center.” Rose panted, out of breath from running. “The city must be gridlocked. The whole of London must be closing down.”
“I know. I can't believe I'm here to see this. This is fantastic!” the Doctor said, excitedly.
“Did you two know this was going to happen?” Rose asked.
“Nope!” the Doctor and Lilith replied together.
“Do you recognize the ship?”
“Do you know why it crashed?”
“Oh, I'm so glad I've got you.” Rose muttered.
“I bet you are,” the Doctor grinned. “This is what we travel for, Rose. To see history happening right in front of us.”
Rose finally caught her breath. “Well, let's go and see it. Never mind the traffic, we've got the TARDIS.”
The Doctor shook his head. “Better not. They've already got one spaceship in the middle of London. I don't want to shove another one on top.”
“Yeah, but yours looks like a big blue box. No one's going to notice.” Rose argued.
“You'd be surprised. Emergency like this, there'll be all kinds of people watching.”
‘Or you just don’t want UNIT to know you’re here.’
“So history's happening and we're stuck here.” Rose sighed.
“Yes, we are.”
Lilith shrugged. “We could do what humans always do, watch it on TV.”
The Tyler flat, as it turns out, was packed already with people from the Estate. Jackie had pulled Lilith aside; intent on grilling her to get details about the ‘travels’ the trio had been on, Rose was curled up on the couch, trying not to talk to people, and the Doctor sat a foot away from the TV, trying to hear what the announcer was saying over the sound of chatter throughout the apartment.
“So where was it you ‘travel’ to?” Jackie probed.
“Everywhere, Jackie. The things we saw? Fantastic. Beautiful views and gorgeous stars. But it was a bit dull sometimes. We spent Christmas in Cardiff, actually. Holed up with an amazing author. A regular Charles Dickens, he was.” As she spoke, more people arrived. “Guests, talk to your guests, not me. I’m gonna check on my uncle.”
She walked over and sat next to the Doctor who was staring intently at the screen. The man on the news announced that they had found a body in the wreckage.
“Did you recognize the ship at all? It looked a bit Rennin, didn’t it?”
The Doctor frowned. “Renn? The level seven planet by Clom?”
Lilith shrugged. “Like I said, just a bit. Where do you think they took the body?”
The channel changed to a cooking channel. Lilith looked over to see the Doctor wrestling the remote away from a toddler. She laughed.
The Doctor changed the channel back just as they announced the answer to Lilith’s question. The Albian Hospital.
“Worth checking out?” Lilith elbowed the Doctor. “We can stop by the TARDIS and I’ll grab a perception filter.”
“Let’s go.” The two got up and headed out of the flat.
“And where do you think you're going?” Rose had caught them.
“Nowhere,” the Doctor said. “It's just a bit human in there for me. History just happened and they're talking about where you can buy dodgy top-up cards for half price. I'm off on a wander, that's all.”
“Right.” Rose crossed her arms. “So you’re not going to Albian Hospital to check out the alien body they dug out of the Thames?”
“May have crossed our minds.” Lilith murmured.
“Nothing to do with us. It's not an invasion. That was a genuine crash landing,” the Time Lord said.
“Angle of descent, color of smoke, everything. It's perfect.” Lilith agreed.
“So maybe this is it. First contact. The day mankind officially comes into contact with an alien race. I'm not interfering because you've got to handle this on your own.” The Doctor’s grin was slowly growing. “That's when the human race finally grows up. Just this morning you were all tiny and small and made of clay. Now you can expand.”
“You don't need us. Go and celebrate history. Spend some time with your mum.” Lilith suggested.
“Promise you won't disappear?”
“Tell you what,” Lilith took off her necklace and handed it to Rose, “TARDIS key. It's about time you had one. I’ll get my own later. See you around, Tyler?”
Rose smiled and slipped the necklace on. “Stay out of trouble.”
Rose walked back inside and the Doctor and Lilith headed back to the TARDIS arm in arm.
“So,” the Doctor said, failing to sound nonchalant. “You gave her your key.”
“Saved you the embarrassment. I saw you reaching for your pocket.” Lilith accused. “Besides, imagine how it would look to Jackie. You giving the keys to you home to her daughter?”
“S’not the same.”
“Yeah, it’s the same. You’re into her and you know it.”
The Doctor scoffed and unlocked the TARDIS. “Not the same,” he repeated, more to himself than to her. Lilith dashed up to the console and pulled a lever, starting the dematerialization.
The duo danced around the console, flipping switches and turning knobs and such. The TARDIS started to shift a bit, tilting to the side. Lilith tossed the Doctor a rubber mallet, which he used to hit the console a few times. The ship righted itself and landed.
The Doctor eased his way out of the crowded storage closet that they had landed in, Lilith right behind him. He used the sonic to unlock the door. He opened it to a room full of soldiers.
Soldiers who immediately pick up their rifles and aim them at him. Lilith stayed hidden behind her uncle.
A scream tore through the air. A scream that sounded suspiciously like that of Toshiko Sato, Lilith thought to herself.
“Defense plan delta! Come on, move, move!” the Doctor shouted and led the UNIT soldiers out of the room and down the hallways. Lilith followed just a tad bit behind. They burst into the lab where the scientist, who incidentally was Tosh, was hiding behind a table.
“Spread out,” the Doctor ordered. “Tell the perimeter it’s a lockdown.”
“My god.” Tosh whimpered. “It’s still alive.” Lilith and the Doctor rushed to her side.
A bit of blood was running down the side of Tosh’s forehead. “I swear it was dead!” she said.
“Coma, shock, hibernation, anything,” the Doctor threw out. “What does it look like?” From somewhere in the lab, there was a sound of metal clattering. “It's still here.”
He got up and gestured to a soldier outside the door to come in and kneel by Toshiko. He walked over to where the sound had come from. Something clanged and he dropped to his knees and crawled the rest of the way.
‘What is it?’
“Hello,” the Doctor said quietly. The creature ran out from its hiding place. It was a pig on its hind legs wearing a spacesuit. “Don't shoot!” the Doctor shouted.
The pig continued to run and squeal out into the corridors where another soldier shot it.
“What did you do that for?” the Doctor demanded. “It was scared!” Lilith joined him as he knelt next to the dead pig. “It was scared.”
Lilith helped him lift up the body and carry it back into the mortuary where Tosh was waiting. They placed it on one of the tables.
“I just assumed that's what aliens look like, but you're saying it's an ordinary pig from Earth?” Tosh said.
“More like a mermaid. Victorian showmen used to draw the crowds by taking the skull of a cat, gluing it to a fish and calling it a mermaid. Now someone's taken a pig, opened up it's brain, stuck bits on, then they've strapped it in that ship and made it dive bomb.”
“It must've been terrified.” Lilith whispered. “They've taken this poor animal and turned it into a joke.”
“So it's a fake, a pretend, like the mermaid. But the technology augmenting its brain, it's like nothing on Earth. It's alien. Aliens are faking aliens. But why would they do that?” Tosh looked up. “Doctor?”
He was gone.
Lilith rolled her eyes. “He does that. Sorry, Tosh.” She ran after him.
“All right, so I lied. I went and had a look,” the Doctor said as Rose rushed into the TARDIS. “But the whole crash landing's a fake. I thought so. Just too perfect. I mean, hitting Big Ben? Come on. So I thought, let's go and have a look.”
“My mum's here.” Rose whispered.
“Jackie! Micks!” Lilith exclaimed with forced cheerfulness.
“Oh, that's just what I need. Don't you dare make this place domestic.”
“You ruined my life, Doctor.” Mickey yelled. “They thought she was dead. I was a murder suspect because of you.”
“You see what I mean?” the Doctor said. “Domestic.”
“I bet you don't even remember my name.” Mickey spat.
The Doctor turned around. “Ricky.”
“No, it's Ricky.”
“I think I know my own name.”
“You think you know your own name? How stupid are you?”
Lilith shoved the Doctor. “Uncle! Chill!”
Jackie looked from Mickey to Rose to the Doctor and left the TARDIS. Rose called after her, “Mum, don't!” She looked at the Doctor. “Don't go anywhere.” She turned to Mickey. “Don't start a fight!”
“What about you, then, Lil?” Mickey said, ignoring the Doctor’s glare. “You called him your uncle?”
“My dad’s brother. That’s the definition of ‘uncle’.” Lilith said.
Mickey looked at her for a moment. “So you’re an alien too.”
“That was a real spaceship.” Rose said, as she came back into the ship.
“Yep,” the Doctor said.
“So it's all a pack of lies? What is it, then? Are they invading?”
Mickey, who was looking over their shoulder at the monitor, spoke up. “Funny way to invade, putting the world on red alert.”
“Good point! So, what're they up to?”