Down in the kitchen, the Doctor absentmindedly started eating marmalade from a jar with his fingers. Lilith rolled her eyes and punched him in the arm. ‘How old are you?’
He realized what he is doing and put the jar back. They turned their attention to Rose.
“Those pictures, they're alive. She's drawing people and they end up in her pictures.”
“Ionic energy,” the Doctor explained. “Chloe's harnessing it to steal those kids and place them in some kid of holding pen made up of ionic power.”
“And what about the dad from hell in her wardrobe?”
Trish crossed her arms. “How many times do I have to tell you? He's dead.”
“Well, he's got a very loud voice for a dead bloke,” Rose muttered.
“If living things can become drawings, then maybe drawings can become living things,” Lilith guessed. “Sure, Chloe's real dad is dead, but the one who visits her in her nightmares isn’t. That dad is very real to her. That's the dad she's drawn and all that’s keeping him from crashing into this world is an ionic cage.”
“She always got the worst of it when he was alive,” Trish said.
“Doctor, how can a twelve-year-old girl be doing any of this?” Rose asked.
The Doctor pushed himself away from the counter. “Let's find out.” The four of them went up to Chloe’s room. Chloe was sitting on her bed. She did the Vulcan salute when the Doctor came in. “Nice one,” he said, kneeling in front of the girl. He put his fingers on her temple and her eyes roll back in her head. He laid her back on the bed. “There we go. Now we can talk.”
“I want Chloe,” Chloe said in a raspy voice. “Wake her up. I want Chloe.”
“Who are you?” the Doctor asked.
“I want Chloe Webber.”
“What've you done to my little girl?” Trish demanded.
“Doctor, what is it?” asked Rose.
Lilith shushed them both.
The Doctor continued. “I'm speaking to you, the entity that is using this human child. I request parley in compliance with the Shadow Proclamation.”
“I don't care about shadows or parleys.”
“So what do you care about?”
“I want my friends.”
“You're lonely, I know,” the Doctor said. “Identify yourself.”
“I am one of many. I travel with my brothers and sisters. We take an endless journey. A thousand of your lifetimes. But now I am alone,” Chloe hissed. “I hate it. It's not fair, and I hate it.”
“Name yourself!” the Doctor insisted.
‘The flower looking things? The ones that have a million kids?’ Lilith wondered silently, not wanting to speak aloud.
“You're Isolus. Of course,” the Doctor breathed.
Chloe started to draw as she spoke. “Our journey began in the Deep Realms when we were a family.”
“What's that?” Trish asked.
“The Isolus Mother, drifting in deep space,” the Doctor said. “See, she jettisons millions of fledgling spores. Her children.”
“The Isolus are empathic beings of intense emotions, but when they're cast off from their mother, their empathic link, their need for each other, is what sustains them,” Lilith explained. “They need to be together. They literally cannot be alone.”
“The Isolus children travel, each inside a pod. They ride the heat and energy of solar tides,” the Doctor added. “It takes thousands and thousands of years for them to grow up.”
“Thousands of years just floating through space,” Rose marveled. “Poor things. Don't they go mad with boredom?”
“We play,” Chloe said.
“While they travel, they play games. They use their ionic power to create make believe worlds in which to play,” Lilith said. “It’s like in flight entertainment.”
“Helps keep them happy. While they're happy, they can feed off each other’s love. Without it, they're lost. Why did you come to Earth?” the Doctor asked the Isolus.
Chloe started a new drawing. “We were too close.”
“That's a solar flare from your sun,” the Doctor realized. “Would have made a tidal wave of solar energy that scattered the Isolus pods.”
“Only I fell to Earth. My brothers and sisters are left up there, and I cannot reach them. So alone,” Chloe rasped.
“Your pod crashed,” Lilith guessed. “Where is it?”
“My pod was drawn to heat, and I was drawn to Chloe Webber. She was like me, alone. She needed me, and I her.”
The Doctor nodded. “You empathized with her. You wanted to be with her because she was alone like you.”
“I want my family. It's not fair.”
“I understand. You want to make a family,” the Doctor said gently. “But you can't stay in this child. It's wrong. You can't steal any more friends for yourself.”
There was a crash from the wardrobe. A red glow emanated from the crack between the doors and they shook. Chloe was shaking too. “I'm coming to hurt you. I'm coming,” a deep voice growled.
“Trish, how do you calm her?” the Doctor asked.
Trish frowned. “What?”
“When she has nightmares,” Lilith clarified. “What do you do?”
“I sing to her.”
“Then start singing,” the Doctor ordered.
“Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree. Merry, merry king of the bush is he," Trish sang. “Laugh, Kookaburra, laugh, Kookaburra, gay your life must be. Laugh, Kookaburra, laugh, Kookaburra, gay your life must be.”
Chloe fell asleep, and the wardrobe fell silent.
“He came to her because she was lonely.” Trish whispered. “Chloe, I'm sorry.”
After collecting all the pencils they could find, Lilith, Rose, and the Doctor headed back to the TARDIS. “It won't stop, will it, Doctor? It'll just keep pulling kids in.”
The Doctor nodded in agreement. “It's desperate to be loved. It's used to a pretty big family.”
“I’d guess around four billion?”
Lilith sighed. “We need to find that pod, don’t we?”
“It crashed,” Rose said. “Won't it be destroyed?”
“Well, it's been sucking in all the heat it can. Hopefully that should keep it in a fit state to launch. It must be close,” the Doctor reasoned. “It should have a weak energy signature that the TARDIS can trace. Once we find it, then we can stop the Isolus. We can scan for the same trace that I picked up from the scribble creature. We'd need to widen the field a bit.”
Once inside the TARDIS, Lilith helped the Doctor build a small machine that would be able to trace the heat signature of the pod.
“You knew the Isolus was lonely before it told you. How?” asked Rose.
The Doctor shrugged. “We know what it's like to travel a long way on your own. Give me the styner-magnetic—.” He looked up at Lilith, who was already holding out the piece.
“Sounds like you're on its side,” Rose commented.
“I sympathize, that's all. It's a child. That's why it went to Chloe. Two lonely mixed up kids.”
“Feels to me like a temper tantrum because it can't get its own way.”
“It's scared. Come on, you were a kid once.”
“Yes, and I know what kids can be like. Right little terrors,” Rose muttered.
The Doctor held out his hand. “Gum.”
Rose spit out her gum. “I've got cousins. Kids can't have it all their own way. That's part of being a family.”
“What about trying to understand them?” the Doctor suggested.
“Easy for you to say. You don't have kids.”
Lilith flinched at her words. Rose seemed to realize what she had said and shot her friend a look of apology.
The Doctor’s hand froze for a moment. “I was a dad once,” he said quietly. He used Rose's gum to fix a component in place, then closed the lid on a glass globe containing the small machine. “Fear, loneliness, they're the big ones, Rose. Some of the most terrible acts ever committed have been inspired by them. We're not dealing with something that wants to conquer or destroy. There's a lot of things you need to get across this universe. Warp drive, wormhole refractors. You know the thing you need most of all? You need a hand to hold.”
Rose held out her hand out; he took it.
Lilith gagged. “Not to ruin the moment, but we’ve got an energy source registering.” She nodded to the scanner.
“It's the pod!” the Doctor exclaimed. “It is in the street. Everything's coming up Doctor.”
“Then, let’s go!”
They exited the TARDIS, Rose and Lilith ahead of the Doctor.
“Okay. It's about two inches across. Dull grey, like a gull's egg. Very light.”
“So these pods they travel from sun to sun using heat, yeah? So it's not all about love and stuff. Doesn't the pod just need heat?”
There was a crash as the glass globe fell to the ground and broke. Lilith spun around at the noise. “No.”
“Doctor?” But the Doctor and the TARDIS had vanished. “Doctor!”
Lilith growled and swore in Gallifreyan.
Lilith pounded on the door to the Webber household. When Trish answered, she pushed passed the woman and stormed up the stairs. “It's okay. I've taken all the pencils off her!”
Lilith slammed the Chloe’s bedroom door open and snatched the drawing of the Doctor and the TARDIS away.
“Leave me alone. I want to be with Chloe Webber. I love Chloe Webber!”
“Bring him back. Now!” Lilith said dangerously.
“Don't you realise what you've done? He was the only one who could help you. Now bring him back!” Time Lady snarled.
“Leave me alone! I love Chloe Webber!”
Rose grabbed Lilith’s arm afore she could lunge at the girl. “I know. I know.” She took the picture. “Doctor, if you can hear me, we're going to get you out of there. We'll find the pod.” She ran out of the room.
“Don't leave her alone, no matter what,” Lilith ordered Trish before following Rose. She stood just outside the house, shaking with anger and worry as Rose grabbed a pickaxe, dug up something from the road, and argued with the road mender from earlier.
She picked something up from the hole in the street and raced back over to Lilith. “I’ve got it.” They ran back into the living room where Trish was staring at the TV. “I've found it! I don't know what to do with it, but maybe the Isolus will just hop on board."
“Hang on,” Lilith said, “I told you not to leave her.”
“My God! Er, what's going on here?” They whipped around to look at the TV. The stadium crowd had vanished.
The road mender stormed in. "I don't care if you've got Snow White and the Seven Dwarves buried under there, you don't go digging up—”
“Shut up and look!” Lilith hissed.
“The crowd has vanished! Er, they're gone. Everyone has gone. Thousands of people have just gone. Right in front of my eyes. It's impossible. Bob, can we join you in the box? Bob? Not you too, Bob?”
“The stadium won't be enough,” Rose said. “The Isolus has four billion brothers and sisters.” Lilith grabbed Rose’s arm and pulled her upstairs. They tried to get into Chloe’s room, but the door was either locked or barred. “Chloe? Chloe, it's Rose! Open the door! We found your ship. We can send you home.”
“Chloe?” Trish called.
“Isolus!” Lilith shouted. “Open the damn door!”
“Right, stand back.” Rose used the pickaxe to break down the bedroom door. She got a hand through and pushed the chair blocking the door away and went in. “Chloe!”
“I'm coming to hurt you. I'm coming,” the deep voice said from the closet.
Chloe was drawing a picture of the Earth on the wall. Lilith growled. “Rose, stop her or I will.”
“If you stop Chloe Webber, I will let him out,” Chloe warned. “We will let him out together. I cannot be alone. It's not fair.”
“Look, I've got your pod,” Rose said, holding out the Isolus’ pod.
“The pod is dead.”
“It only needs heat.”
“It needs more than heat.” Chloe told her.
“What, then?” Rose begged.
The road mender gulped. “I'm not being funny or nothing, but that picture just moved. And that one!”
The picture of the Doctor had changed. He was pointing to an Olympic torch. “She didn't draw that, he did,” Rose realized. “But it needs more than heat, Doctor.”
“-Is still on its way. I suppose it's much more than a torch now, it's a beacon,” the announcer on the TV said. “It's a beacon of hope and fortitude and courage. And it's a beacon of love.”
Rose and Lilith looked at each other. “Love,” they said in unison.
“So let's have a look from the helicopter. There we go, the torch bearer running past Dame Kelly Holmes Close.”
“I know how to charge up the pod.” The duo ran outside to where the street was filled with spectators. They pushed their way through the crowd.
“Sorry, you'll have to watch from here,” a policeman said.
“No, I've got to get closer.” Rose insisted.
“I can stop this from happening!” The pod started to chitter and hum. “You felt it, didn't you? Feel the love.” Rose threw the pod into the air, and it flew into the flame of the torch. The Torch Bearer staggered briefly then carries on.
“Yes!” Lilith cried and hugged Rose tightly.
Down the street, the kids reappeared and reunited with their parents. The old woman came over. “I don't know who you two are, or what you did, but thank you, darlings! And thank that man for me too.”
“We will.” They grinned.
They stayed for the celebration that night. The Doctor had carried the Olympic torch to the finish and sent the Isolus on its way. Lilith clung to his am and he stroked her shoulder comfortingly.
“Cake?” Rose called from behind them. She held out a fairy cake with silver sugar ball decorations on top. All three of them laughed.
“Top banana!” The Doctor accepted the cake and took a bite. “Mm. I can't stress this enough. Ball bearings you can eat, masterpiece!”
Rose pulled him into a tight hug. “I thought I'd lost you.”
“Nah. Not on a night like this. This is a night for lost things being found. Come on.” He linked one arm through Rose’s and she linked her other through Lilith’s.
“What now?” Lilith asked as the three of them strolled down the street.
“I want to go to the Games,” the Doctor said. “It's what we came for.”
“Go on; give us a clue.” Rose nudged him. “Which events do we do well in?”
“Well, I will tell you this. Papua New Guinea surprises everyone in the shot put.”
“Really? You're joking, aren't you?” The Doctor winked, but said nothing. "Lil, is he serious or is he joking?”
Lilith shrugged. “Beats me. Wait and see.”
The obligatory fireworks display started. “You know what? They keep on trying to split us up, but they never ever will,” Rose said.
The Doctor stopped walking. “Never say never ever.”
“Nah, we'll always be okay, us three. Don't you reckon, Doctor?”
“There's something in the air. Something coming,” the Doctor said seriously.
“A storm's approaching.”
Lilith shivered. There they were; the words that signified the end. The end of the twelve years she had with the Doctor and the two she had with Rose. Soon she’d be leaving, soon she’d be gone. They’d both be gone.
She unlinked her arm and gripped Rose’s hand tightly. She could try to ignore it, focus on the present, not the future.
But thunder had sounded; lightning had struck.
The storm was on its way.