by Jason A. Miller ©1998
Chapter 1: Take This Heart
travelling through time.
Floating through the continuum
Like bananas through my blender.
And my heart is in my heels
Like it is when I'm with you."
-- Poem by J.T. Adams (affixed to the Booth refrigerator)
The first book Callie had ever read was a children's novel by C.S. Lewis, and once you got past the heavy religious symbolism and rather juvenile writing, it was still a good read , though she was now ten years older. She still kept a rumpled copy of the paperback the Captain had bought her in 1983, on her sixth birthday. There were seven books actually, in a laminated cardboard case, but _The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe_ was her favorite (though as a child, her tongue hadn't made more sense out of the title than "The line of the witch in the water")
For her twelfth birthday, the Captain bought her an oversized illustrated edition of Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner", in dreamy watercolors. Callie hadn't suspected just how significant the verses really were to her dad.
As if it mattered -- Coleridge wasn't with her bookcase anymore, since the Captain had appropriated it within a matter of weeks, for his own use. He'd sit on the bridge, reading favorite passages aloud, whether Callie was listening to him or not.
And up until science fiction came to Swans Crossing, Coleridge's wistful journey through loneliess and despair only served as a faint echo of Callie's own adolescence. There was the return to Swans Crossing, the birthplace she'd left since before her memory had kicked in and started registering random flashes of the late 1970s. High seas and sunset-colored ports of call dominated the '80s, and then there was that particularly rigid boarding school in Jakarta. Coastal New England just wasn't the place for a Callie (Look, Daddy! I can see Long Island!)
And then there was Jimmy. You couldn't explain your first crush to a man of the sea. The ancient mariner, though a familiar guest at weddings, wasn't one for love. And Elia Walker really was the Ancient Mariner. He'd smiled at the notion of Jimmy but the boy's signifance never really seemed to strike him.
So, let's recap, she thought to herself. You're stuck in a town that's two sizes too small for your age. You've no idea how to make that final, forbidden leap to Jimmy.
And, worst of all, after the Doctor and his time machine had left Swans Crossing, you weren't even sure who you were anymore.
Well, Callie, if youth knew and age could, as the expression went, then you didn't know and you certainly couldn't.
It was time to bring the Doctor back to explain away the riddle of the rest of her formative years. He'd have to answer the rest of her questions this visit.
Bernice Summerfield, Ph.D. (imagined)
It's very simple, really. The 20th Century wasn't a simple place, but this is a simple story to tell. One of the Doctor's old childhood friends got into a spot of bother in an incident involving an albatross and a cosmic Specter, and got himself exiled to New England in the 20th century.
Well, you're right I guess, the town of his exile was simple, but the story behind his exile wasn't. You'd have to read the poem, but even Coleridge couldn't figure it out himself until he'd printed that explanatory gloss in the margin. And even then, he never learned the whole story from the Doctor's friend.
Oh, the friend's name? Well, the Doctor calls him Elia, and his name in exile is Elia Walker. His U.S. naval commission was for Captain, so that's what they call him. And he and his daughter live in a submarine-shaped time machine floating off the eastern shore of Rhode Island.
No, you're confusing it with Connecticut. Connecticut's the bigger one. And right, they stole the name Greenwich from England, though there isn't even a Meridian in America.
Well, this town is named Swans Crossing, and the Doctor and Ace and I were there a couple of years ago. We -- well, really only the Doctor, Ace and I just stood by and watched without comprehension -- we helped free Captain Walker from his exile, and the Doctor offered him and his daughter Callie a free passage back home. The Captain refused for both of them.
Her mother was human. From Ireland, I think. No, I don't know if she knew the Doctor's mother.
But I'm digressing again. The important thing to remember here is that the children of Swans Crossing are a precocious lot -- or precocious "bunch", as they'd say in America. We only met five of the teenagers, Callie and some of her friends, and they took to the time-travel game like, ahem, swans to water. Sorry Roz, it had to be said.
The ones named J.T. and Neil created a self-perpetuating rocket fuel, and they're the reason we're going back this time. You see, they're run into some trouble with various overlapping groups of espionage rings.
Callie's the talented daughter, and she's the one who summoned us. Remember, for her, it's barely been a month since the Doctor and Ace and I left -- still the same summer, still the same fifteen years old, still all that life-affirming sadness. And the love of her life is a fourteen year-old motorbike enthusiast named James. Reminds me of you, Chris, just like you. Only this boy's not quite so, erm, blond.
Glory is J.T.'s girlfriend. She's very short and cute as a button, so Roz, you might want to stay away lest your hardened, cynical heart develop cavities.
They have other friends we didn't get to meet last time, but we'll let Callie make the introductions today. One of them's a singer, one of them's a child actress, one of them rides horses. One of them will become a famous environmentalist.
Oh wait, I forgot one more friend I made when we were there last.
Saja is just, well... Saja's my hero.
September 19, 1992" Dear Leda,
Mila left for France this morning. I think it's good that she's getting back into acting with that French soap opera. It's funny how things work out like that, since Garrett just flew to boarding school in France last week. They'll still get to be together! Sydney of course is not happy, but I'm sure she'll find her own special Angel at some point this year.
Glory's been lonely with her brother out of the house. She's put Fabian back in the window. She was afraid after those bald men questioned her about him over the summer, but there hasn't been any trouble. Anyway I've been spending a lot of time over there. The submarine is dark and lonely these days now that it's not a time machine anymore.
Not that it should really matter. I didn't even know it was a time machine until last month. And it can still sail the globe like we used to. But Daddy doesn't want to travel much anymore.
I heard that neat Richard Marx song on the radio this evning, "Take This Heart". It didn't make me cry but it came very close! It's amazing how the words are so close to the situation between Jimmy and me. Richard Marx is really perceptive!
"The pain's still alive in you
From what one man put you through
You say that we're all the same
But I'm called by no other name"
Of course I don't know who the "one man" is yet. I guess Jimmy think that's the Doctor. Or maybe Daddy. He doesn't know about Sean the pilot on board the Mariner, but at least the dreams about him have stopped. And "you say that we're all the same". Maybe he is right in that I'm deep down blaming him for stuff the Doctor did, or for what Daddy did. The Doctor blew the cover off family history, and Daddy I guess was covering up for me all these years. And as for the "called by no other name" bit. It reminds me so much of that line from Romeo and Juliet. Richard Marx is such a genius! Love ya! "Walker Woman"
The right-hander went into the stretch, rocked, and fired. The horsehide flew to home plate, and broke sharply down at the batter's heels. The batter swung and missed, struck out with a roar. There is no joy in Swanville; Mighty Clayton had struck out.
Jimmy groaned, threw down the bat, and wrenched the helmet off of his head. The hard plastic was pitted and scarred from a hundred kicks and beanballs. The foam rubber padding pulled at his hair and tugged at his ears as he yanked it off. He scowled at the pitcher and massaged the feeling back into his ears.
"And the mighty David Cone strikes out Barry Bonds, and the ball game is over! The Mets win the pennant!" roared J.T. Adams. He leaped about the diamond in mock ecstasy.
"Not the Mets any more, my friend," Jimmy said in a voice that sounded like car exhaust. "He's up in Toronto now, remember."
"Oh yeah. Well, I was busy at the time of the trade," J.T. said.
"Don't blame you, my man. It's been quite a time."
It was the weekend, and the school baseball diamond was deserted. So J.T. Adams and Jimmy Clayton woke up early and rode their motorbikes out to the ballfield. The idea to practice their diamond skills had been J.T.'s, although the idea to break away from work in general -- research for J.T. and engine repair for Jimmy -- had been strictly Jimmy's.
"All right, take five. Let's grab some Gatorade," said Jimmy. The two of them crossed the foul lines to the stands behind third base, and each grabbed a 16-ounce bottle of electric blue (or lime green, in J.T's case) sugar water. Jimmy twisted off the cap with his deceptively wiry arms, and gulped the bottle down in a matter of seconds. He mopped his forehead with the back of a batting glove, and sat down on the third row of the bleachers.
J.T. joined him, and neither spoke for several seconds. Jimmy idly squeezed baseballs in both hands, seemingly lost in thought. It fell to J.T. to talk.
"You know, Glory and I were talking last night --"
"No surprise there," Jimmy said.
"Ha! Well, actually no, we really did talk, and she said to me, `You know, I really haven't seen much of Callie or James recently, and --'"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, back up a second. She calls me `James'?"
J.T. laughed again. "Well, you know Glory."
Jimmy smiled faintly. "And Glory knows Callie..." His thoughts trailed off into the morning.
A few more seconds passed. J.T. observed that even a moment of silence was a long, awkward interval for two guys playing baseball on a sunny early-autumn New England morning. "Ah, listen, if there's anything you wanna talk about..." He trailed off as well.
More seconds passed. Jimmy stood up.
"Did you ever realize," he began, "Did you ever just suddenly realize what you were forgetting?"
"That's never been a problem for Neil or me. Photographic memory 'n all, you know how it goes!"
If Jimmy heard him, he didn't answer. "Ah, look, Callie and I haven't spoken much over the last month. She's just become... well, quiet, too quiet."
Jimmy started pacing in front of the bleachers. "Yeah, although I guess I didn't stop to think about it until recently. Ever since the Doctor left, she's been so ... lost in thought. Anyway, we're talking a lot, but we're just not communicating."
J.T. stood up. "Listen, Jimmy, if there's anything I can do to help --"
Jimmy laughed, harshly. "Ah, listen to me. I'm talking about her like she and I are just a couple of spark plugs."
"Revenge of the giggling gearheads?"
"Ah, the heck with it. I'm going out to find her. Now."
"You can't! I haven't finished striking you out yet!"
Jimmy lashed out like a shadowboxer and threw a jab at J.T. J.T. blocked expertly. They both laughed, traded shoulder punches, and, gathering their equipment, set off on their motorbikes in different directions.
Elia paced the deck, making a complete circuit of the periscope every three seconds. His ship, his submarine, his home....
Centuries ago by our time, Captain Walker was just another Time Lord, and his name was Elia. Well, the short form was Elia, anyway, you'd never be able to pronounce the complete incantation. We were friends in those days -- you could say that, under my influence, he'd grown bored of Time Lord society, and gotten involved in politics. Now this was all long after the Time Lord empire had been dissolved, but opportunities were there for the enterprising, and Elia travelled from planet to planet, where the action was, ruling primitive worlds in the name of our race, using his powers for a purpose -- not sitting at home to quietly observe the universe, as his other Time Lords were content to do. Benny, stop laughing.
It was on the planet Verezzano IV that I first met up with him again, decades after our last encounter. You could say the meeting went poorly. I was persuaded to assist the natives in a war of independence -- when I say "persuaded", Benny, I really mean that you should stop laughing. aAd the rogue Time Lords who ran the imperial operation were exiled to medieval Earth.
Elia was young and too impetuous, hot-headed and drunk with power. The exile to Earth, however, was accompanied by a regeneration. In essence, Elia became a completely different person, one bound to Earth, with only the barest essence of the old life remaining. He was born again, living in London -- and bored senseless by Earth society. So he took to the seas, joining the last of the great oceanic exploratory vessels. I'll take you there someday, Chris. Great adventure.
By the eighteenth century, Elia had become almost boorish by Earth standards, drinking heavily and growing violent. On a boat called the Mariner, headed for the South Seas, Elia became a pawn in a game of high stakes against a supernatural being who called herself the Specter. Benny here will tell you two about her, if you're exceptionally nice. From this game was born the Earth legend of the Ancient Mariner. When he and I were outmaneuvered by the Specter, it was Elia who suffered -- the crew was killed and he alone survived.
The Specter imprisoned him for a period of just over two centuries. As punishment, in an effort to make the Time Lord more human, he was forced to roam the Earth, forever telling his story. She even gave him his TARDIS back. She superseded Time Lord jurisdiction, and a lot of very insignificant bureaucrats were very unhappy about that.
But there was more to the punishment. He'd fallen in love with an Irishwoman, and in 1976, a daughter was born. The mother's life was taken in childbirth.
And thus the transition was complete -- Elia lived his life for Callie, his daughter, and nothing else. He still had his time machine, his TARDIS -- disguised as a small submarine -- though it was the Specter who controlled his ability to travel. While he roamed the Earth telling his story, Callie had gotten to see the world. The primary place of exile was Swans Crossing, a town that the Specter had specially constructed for his purposes. Surrounded him with a lot of obstreporous teenagers.
And then, in 1992, he'd made contact me again -- for the first time in centuries for either of us. This is where things start to get tricky -- he'd lived through the incident on board the Mariner already, and I hadn't. That's when I fell into the Specter's trap, and though I was able to get Elia's exile rescinded, she set her sights on me. She returned to Swans Crossing with all of us, eager to imprison me, and take Callie away from the Captain. However, thanks to Ace and Benny and Callie and several other of the Swans Crossing children, the Specter was banished from Earth, banished from Elia's life. His centuries of exile were over.
In the process, he'd lost his TARDIS. Yes, the submarine still remained, but its extra-dimensional corridors were lost, the control room no longer existed. It could sail the waters, but not the seas of time, and he was stranded on Earth yet again. The Specter's final bit of revenge.
And yet, it wasn't so bad after all. Callie'd known a steady home for the first time in her life -- she'd been in Swans Crossing for nearly four months now. More precocious, more adult than the other children, she'd become a leader of the town's youth, and even seemed to be falling in love -- he smiled at that, though he wasn't supposed to know. Freed from the need to wander the planet and tell his story, Elia was no longer the ancient mariner. His Earth credentials -- Captain, U.S. Navy; eminent marine biologist -- were intact, his life was assured
But exile was not for him. He and Callie had grown apart in the weeks since the Specter had been banished from Swans Crossing, from New England, from Earth. She brooded, perhaps spent too much time at her mechanic's job, too much time with the other teenagers. And started to ask too many questions about her mother.
And now, it seemed, she had contacted the Doctor again, and asked him to return to Swans Crossing. He was coming back, and that meant a storm was on the way. He suspected, in his hearts, that Callie would be leaving Earth with the Doctor, and that he'd be left behind, still without his time machine. But the time for anger, for counter-plotting, was gone. He remained unmoved, melancholy, resigned. There was nothing left to fight for.
Sighing, he opened the hatch underneath the periscope. Underneath here ahd been the control room to his extra-dimensional time craft. Underneath here he'd been able to pilot the ship across continents, across time, acting out his role. Now however there was just the black void, impassable, and no control room -- no home -- on the other side. The Leda was just a submarine. Even the name of his ship mocked him. For there was no Zeus in the heart of this swan -- no deux ex machina.
Elia pulled on his blue jacket and knotted a tie about his throat. The Doctor was due and it was time to pay respects.
Sandy Swan was never one for record stores. Ever since vinyl had gone out of style and the compact disc had completed its conquer of the marketplace, the Swan family couldn't much afford music. Sure, there were audiotapes, which were all very well and good for car rides up the coast, but they weren't for the musical purist, not at all.
Except for the demo tape, of course, but that was Owen's specialty.
There was one record store in Swans Crossing, and it was a good one. They still carried the seven-inch dance record, though most of her favorite groups simply weren't cutting LPs anymore. They also sold used CDs, which was about all that was within her allowance. She and Owen had promised each other years ago that they'd always market their CDs at discount price so that the real music fan -- the kids on the streets -- could afford them.
"Wow!" said Owen. "Too cool! They're playing Joey Lawrence!"
It was true, Sandy realized. Ever since the brother from "Blossom" had come out with his album over the summer, "Nothing My Love Can't Fix" had been impossible to hide from.
"Oh, Owen," she said, her already transparent voice cracking in disappointment. "He's so... so..." she hesitated, unable to come up with the right word. A flock of nine year-old girls staring up at the video monitor were shrieking, and her concentration was blocked out.
"Successful? Famous?" Owen finished for her. He lifted his sunglasses up off of his nose (allowing her a rare glimpse of his eyes; she'd pretty much forgotten what color they were these days) and peered at her directly. "Come on, when we're big, we'll probably be meeting him on the tour circuit. He'll be such a role model!"
Sandy sighed and rolled her eyes, and tugged on her navy blue miniskirt. "Oh, Owen," she repeated. "Look, why don't you just go scout out the competition and I'll go wait outside?"
"Too cool!" said Owen. Without sparing her a backwards glance, he rushed straight for one of the upright new release displays. Within a matter of seconds he'd vanished under an armload of Kriss Kross CDs, and Sandy left the store.
She found herself back out on the street. A new deli a few doors down from the record store had set out tables and chairs made out of tough, scratched plastic, in summery greens and whites. Sandy sat down in one of the seats and stretched out, examining her legs.
The roar of a minibike drown out the Genesis song pouring out of the record store, and Sandy looked up. It was Jimmy. He'd stopped at the curb, a few feet from where she sat, and removed his helmet.
"Oh, hi Jimmy," she smiled.
He turned around and saw her for the first time. "Oh, hey there."
They looked at each other for several seconds, until the pause grew too awkward and they both turned away. Jimmy drummed his fingers on the helmet tucked under his arms, and Sandy started tugging on her miniskirt again, a little self- consciously.
"So, um, what brings you here?" she finally asked.
"I'm just, ah, riding," he said. "You know. Gotta run the motor for 45 minutes a day or the engine filter cracks."
"I'm sorry," she said. "I never understood mechanics. I don't even own a bike!"
"So, anyway," he said, eventually. "You haven't seen, um, anyone around this morning, have you?"
Sandy stood up. "Owen's in the record store. We won't see him again for hours."
Jimmy gave a short laugh. "I don't think I was looking for him."
"Oh," she said.
Another pause. A sparrow landed on the table where she'd been sitting. It grabbed an old cheese puff in its beak and hopped down to the ground.
"Well, who were you looking for?"
"Oh," he said. "No-one. Everyone. Callie."
"A-ha-ah!" she grinned knowingly. "Why didn't you say so?"
He suddenly became eager. "You haven't seen her, have you?"
"No, not in a while," she said, and his shoulders slumped. He started to put his helmet back on.
"Well, I'm driving down to the docks," he said.
"Wait!" she said. He turned to look at her, helmet still poised just over his head. "Have you tried Swans?"
"I just tried Swan," he said.
She looked at him for a moment, and then laughed. "Oh, you mean me! Swan!"
"Well. What I meant to say was, you really should talk to Jazz. She knows where everyone is. In our house we don't even need to carry beepers. You know. We just ask Jazz."
"Well, it's just around the corner, lemme check there then." He put his helmet on and roared off. Not even a good-bye.
Come to think of it, Sandy thought, maybe I should walk over there myself. It's a better place to spend a Sunday morning then looking over Owen's shoulder, that's for sure.
She popped her head into the record store. Owen was playing air keyboard for a college-aged sales clerk. She sighed. He wouldn't even remember she was here.
Callie hauled herself out of the submarine and climbed down the ladder onto the dock. She gingerly stepped over coils of blackened rope, and threaded her way through the docking posts until she reached the harbormaster's building. It was deserted, and she sat down on the steps, carefully dusting them first as she was wearing white pants that morning. They went well with her yellow shirt and brown cordouroy jacket. Cordouroy. What a peculiar word! She'd never noticed that before. What a bizarre thing to call a heavy material.
She looked across the pier to where the Leda was docked. The side of the topside hatch was dented from Jimmy's wrench, which he'd used in lieu of a doorbell all those times. Saja never used a wrench, though. He'd just sink cross-legged to the ground and wait for Callie to come in, or out. Or maybe he'd just sit there.
"I saw that the sub wasn't here and thought you'd gone for good!" he's said, somewhat panicky, the day after the nudibranch benefit, the day her dad had left town in the sub and left her behind. She felt a stab of sorrow and winced.
It was believed in some of the cultures she'd visited, that all the events, all the emotions that ever occurred at a particular location, lingered on through time. A building, a field, a submarine's pier, was populated by memories and thoughts and anguish, the sum total of years and years of human beings scampering about in a panic, scarring the landscape with their inner torments. That was Saja's theory too, and if it was so, the Swans Crossing harbor was forever in tears.
So much had happened at this spot, right near these very steps, since we got here at the beginning of the summer. Saja had longed for her here, and Jimmy had followed her here, faithfully, after every argument. And Glory Booth had been here, looking for Callie, needed the older sister she'd never known, after any number of crises with J.T. or with her brother.
All those people. They'd been here, they'd come here looking for her, and the Captain had steadfastly refused to let them come into the sub. Or the sub hadn't been there. Saja's heart had nearly broken, thinking that she'd gone and not told him. She was ready to cry.
A flock of seagulls squawked overhead, and scattered. A greasy napkin skidded along the dock and fell into the water. The sounds of the lapping waves was drowned out by a harsher, wheezing and groaning noise.
The air at the end of the pier, in front of the submarine, thickened, darkened. With a loud, final thump, a tall, dark blue box solidified into reality on the docks. The yellow light on top of the box rotated and flashed three times, like an extra-temporal police siren.
The TARDIS was here and the Doctor had come back for her. Another picture sprang to mind, that of the Doctor walking her back to the Leda last month, saying goodbye to her at the conclusion of the Mariner affair. He'd pledged his support, told her how to contact him. Hugged her, awkwardly. Tried to soothe her tortured emotions about her family, her lineage, her father, her mother.
This dock had been through lots of grief, and now the worst of it had literally popped back into being before her eyes.
The emotions flooded back into her, and this time, Callie really did begin to cry. Oh, daddy, why? Why?
Through an ocean of tears, the TARDIS door opened.