“The Second star is nearly gone.”
Queen Clarion, the majestic ruler of Pixie Hollow faltered for a moment before continuing. When her voice rang out again it was clear and strong, but her words lacked their usual melody, making it obvious to all the fairies gathered there just how much the words pained her, and how dire their situation truly was.
“We need a volunteer. Someone willing to travel to the mainland in search of the assistance we need. It will be dangerous, and if the Second Star fades before you can succeed in your mission… Then all will be lost. And you will be trapped there, stranded from Pixie Hollow… Forever.”
Many gasped and even more clasped hands or hugged each other tight.
It was March, and spring was nearly due on the mainland. Without the fairies of Pixie Hollow to encourage and guide the change of seasons, the mainland would be wracked by haphazard weather and unpredictable storms of increasingly devastating power and destruction. Left unchecked, the situation would eventually lead to a catastrophic global climate change that would endanger millions and drastically alter living conditions across the entire planet.
Pixie Hollow itself was one of the most delicate ecosystems on the face of the Earth. Despite its natural magic and the power of the Pixie Dust Tree, it was very susceptible to cold. The last winter storm was a fairy-accident that lasted just a few days, and it still took every fairy working together to save Pixie Hollow. There was simply no way Pixie Hollow could survive an Arctic climate that lasted a month or more. Without the Second Star to guide them back and forth to the mainland, the fairies could begin suicide missions, but their numbers were too few, and that would only help for a handful of seasons before there were no fairies left to continue.
“But your majesty,” asked the Minister of Spring. “Who can help us? What assistance is there among the humans who do not even believe we exist?”
Queen Clarion took a deep breath, taking care to phrase her words just so. “There is one who dwells among them, though he be not one of them. He protects them, for there are many dangers that most humans remain as blissfully unaware of as they do us. I would add that without him watching over the planet, these terrors would assail us too. In fact it was he, long before the first laugh that brought many of you here ever danced on the breeze, that saved Pixie Hollow from utter extinction by erecting the hidden passage governed by the Second Star.”
A great chorus of excitement arose in the fairies at the possibility of such a savior. The joyous cries culminated in a question: “Who? Who is it that can save us?”
The Queen’s eyes danced suddenly with a mischievous light, as if the current crisis was being assuaged by the sweetest of memories. “Who indeed,” she replied. “His name, is the Doctor.”
A great cheer for the Doctor rose up, and the Queen let everyone bask in hope for several long moments before breaking the spell: “We still need a volunteer to go to the mainland to seek him.”
Every voice in the meadow abruptly stilled, and every animal and bird stood in place, waiting to see who, if anyone, had the courage to go.
By their nature, most fairies are not cowardly or brave, but the overly cautious prisoners of their fragile existence. To this general rule there were rare exceptions, but one in particular who was familiar to all, and it was her crystal clear voice that arose from the crowd.
“I’ll do it.”
Every head turned to look as a green garbed tinker fairy with golden hair tucked into a crisp bun rose into the air. “I’ll go to the mainland and find this Doctor,” she said firmly.
Queen Clarion smiled warmly. I knew if there was no one else, there would be you most of all.
“Come forward,” said the Queen, “bravest of the brave, and let Pixie Hollow salute you: Tinker Bell!”
At dawn the very next day, Tinker Bell stood at the edge of Pixie Hollow, ready for her flight to the mainland. About her slender frame she wore an extra layer of sturdy clothes to ward off the cold, and sundry pouches were tied about her waist. She was joined by Queen Clarion, Lord Milori of the Winter Woods, a clutch of her closest friends and many others to see her off.
“Lord Milori has tasked an Ice Hawk to assist you on your flight,” the Queen informed her.
“An Ice Hawk?” Tinker Bell looked at the majestic white bird in wonder and more than a little trepidation. “I was expecting a Snowy Owl. I was almost eaten by a hawk once, trying to teach a bird how to fly when I thought I wanted to be an animal fairy and-”
The hawk peered down at Tinker Bell and she took a step back.
“Tinker Bell,” Lord Milori began softly. “I am afraid the trip to the mainland is far too dangerous for any Snowy Owl. But fear not, this bird is here to protect you, and your experience sneaking off to the Winter Woods in a basket to uncover the Secret of the Wings will serve you well. Hawks are faster, but the trip will otherwise be very much the same.”
“And don’t forget when you made that hot air balloon, to uh…” Terrence, a dust keeper and one of Tinker Bell’s closest friends began to stammer. “Uh, for when you needed just the right diamond to craft the most amazing Autumn Scepter ever. That was a long ride in a basket and that will help too!”
“Aye, and you have the bestest,” Bobble was quickly interrupted by Clank: “Most sturdiest basket ever made in a tinker’s shop in all of Pixie Hollow to rely on!”
The pair rushed her then and gave her a big hug. “Good luck Tinker Bell and return to us soon,” said Bobble.
The hug swelled quickly as her many other friends joined in.
Vidia, a purple garbed fast flying fairy, looked down at the group with a frown. “I still don’t like this Miss Spare parts. We’re your friends and should be going with you,” she said and the rest of her friends quickly agreed.
“Please, everyone. It’s all right. I’m a tinker. This is what I do. I fix things. And with all of Zarina’s talent switching fairy dust to help me, it’ll be like you’re all there with me. I’m going to be fine. I’m going to find this Doctor and bring him here to Pixie Hollow and we’re going to set things right.”
While the gathered fairies cheered Tinker Bell’s brave words and watched her flutter into the basket for the trip to the mainland, Queen Clarion glanced over at Lord Milori and felt a tear roll down her cheek.
“She is right you know,” the Lord of Winter whispered and brushed the Queen’s face with a gentle hand. “Tinker Bell is our best hope.”
“Your majesty,” said the Minister of Spring. “I have retrieved what you asked for.”
Queen Clarion looked down at his hand and accepted the small blue box with a solemn nod. It had no hinges and appeared to be a perfect square. It has been so long, she mused silently. How can we be certain this will even work anymore? Then, her dandelion yellow gown shimmering in the morning light, she gracefully alighted over to the basket where Tinker Bell was saying her final farewells.
“Tinker Bell,” said the Queen. “Take this seedling and keep it safe. This is what you will need to summon the Doctor. Find a lofty place. Then, after switching your talent with the garden fairy dust, sprinkle blue pixie dust on the box.”
The Queen nodded once. “This is what the Doctor told me, those many years ago.”
“How do we know this is going to work?” asked Silvermist suddenly. “What if it’s like a regular seed and needs water too? If I’m not there how will she know? She can giver herself my water talent powers but she can’t giver herself my experience.”
“What if some of her talent switching dust is inert?” added Rosetta. “Especially if it’s her garden fairy talent switching dust. I should go with her to be sure.”
“If that’s true I should go too,” said Fawn. “There are lots of different birds and wildlife on the mainland. Dangerous wildlife.”
“It’s still cold there,” noted Periwinkle. “If it’s too cold Tinker Bell won’t be able to fly. A winter fairy should go. I’m her sister, it should be me.”
The chorus grew until-
A red haired fairy garbed like a pirate, long locks roiling in the breeze, rose swiftly into the air and flew to the edge of the basket.
“Zarina!” Many whispered. “It’s Zarina!”
“I personally prepared every pouch of dust Tinker Bell is taking with her,” the pixie dust alchemist said firmly. “They will work. She is ready. To Tinker Bell!” Zarina drew her sword and thrust it into the air.
“Tinker Bell!” many cried.
“I said!” Zarina followed her sword into the air over the basket. “To Tinker Bell!”
“Tinker Bell!” everyone shouted.
Zarina began to sing a rousing Pixie Hollow melody and the crowd joined in lustily. Near the end she fluttered close to Tink and whispered, “Are you ready?”
“I am now,” Tinker Bell hugged Zarina tight. “Thank you!”
Zarina sped into the air again and began to chant: “Fly! Fly! Fly!”
A short distance away Queen Clarion nodded at Lord Milori. The Lord of Winter whistled to the Ice Hawk and said, “Nimrod! Setzoun!”
Spreading its powerful wings the bird hopped several steps and leapt into the air.
“Fly! Fly! Fly!” the crowd continued to chant as the hawk circled twice and then dove toward the basket. Speeding in, claws extended, it appeared as if the streaking bird would pummel the basket and a great gasp strangled the chant. But Nimrod spread his wings at the last second, slowing just enough to gently clutch the basket in his talons and rise away with it toward the mainland.
“Fly! Fly! Fly!” the crowd resumed chanting.
Tinker Bell waved until they were out of sight, and then sat in the basket clutching herself. “This is going to work,” she said. “Right Nimrod?”
Nimrod replied with a piercing cry that should have stung Tinker Bell’s ears. Instead she found comfort in it, as she did too the rhythmic flap of the great bird’s wings and the swaying of the basket. Snuggling up in a blanket laden corner, she pulled out the summoning seed and examined it to pass the time.
“Right then Clara Oswald, time to find out who you are!”
The Doctor flipped the Dematerialization Lever and the TARDIS lurched unexpectedly to the left, sending him careening against the railing warding the ship’s hexagonal console.
Quite abruptly the TARDIS’ landing sequence began to squeal.
“No, no, no!” the Doctor shouted. “What are you doing We have to find her!”
Unbidden words surfaced in his mind. A conversation not too long ago. A conversation with the TARDIS when its bio-circuitry briefly assumed a human form called Idris.
Those who knew him best would say a conversation with his wife:
“You didn’t always take me where I wanted to go,” said the Doctor.
“No,” replied Idris. “But I always took you where you needed to go…”
The console quieted and after a moment, the Doctor raised his head and looked at the monitor.
“Organic distress signal?” he mused out loud. “Who could have? Only one person… But that was so long ago… Oh-oh-oh-OHH no!”
The TARDIS doors opened and the Doctor came racing out. “Your majesty! I’m-”
He ran straight into a massive bell.
“Oww! Owww! Owwwwwww!” said the Doctor, holding his forehead. After a moment, still holding his head, he squinted up through the pain with one eye. “That looks like Big Ben. We’ve materialized inside Big Ben… Cool! What’s Big Ben doing in Pixie Hollow?”
“It’s not in Pixie Hollow and neither are you,” said a jingly voice flitting passed his ear.
The Doctor’s vision cleared and he looked down over the gas lamps of Victorian London. “I suppose I’m not,” said the Doctor. Then he looked up and saw a massive plant with luminescent blue flowers that resembled satellite antenna sprouting from the top of the bell tower.
“Oh that won’t do,” the Doctor said. “That won’t do at all. Why did you plant the organic distress beacon on top of Big Ben where everyone can see it?”
“Oh I don’t know,” said the jingly voice fluttering around his head. “Maybe because you told Queen Clarion it needed to be used on high ground without saying how gi-normous it was going to get!”
“Gi-normmous,” the Doctor reflected. “How is that not a word yet? Going to have to pop back and talk to Mr. Webster about that.” The Doctor leaned out to look at Big Ben’s face, lost his balance and nearly fell out of the giant clock.
“High ground!” he shouted, whirling around and straightening his bow tie as if nothing had happened. “Well then,” he finally made eye contact with the tiny figure fluttering before him. “I must say, that was rather resourceful of you, putting it way up here, where the TARDIS would be sure to hear it.”
“I, uh,” the diminutive figure put her hands on her hips and hovered in place. “Thank you, I suppose. You know it wasn’t easy. There were storms! The moment we arrived heavy winds whipped me right out of the basket Nimrod was carrying and we got separated. So ever since I got here, I’ve had to walk. Walk! Quite a ways too because it’s been too cold for me to let my wings out. And now, only just today, the sun peeked out so I took a chance on flying up here and turning myself into a garden fairy. And growing your blue box seed thingy into this giant tree plant to get you here because we, I mean, Pixie Hollow, is in big trouble and Queen Clarion said you made a promise to help us if we were ever in trouble, and we’re in trouble so I hope you’re ready to keep that promise.”
The Doctor’s eyes wobbled a bit from trying to keep up with the rapid recap.
“Sorry,” Tinker Bell said after another moment, “I can get a little excited. It’s just-”
“Yo-ho-ho!” the Doctor spun around on his heel. “I’m ready! I am ready indeed! But I have two questions. First: Who are you?”
“I’m Tinker Bell, of course.”
“Of course,” the Doctor whirled again. “Tinker Bell! Smashing! What a brilliant name! Tinker Bell!”
Tinker Bell, still hovering, cocked her head from the left to the right. “Wait a second. You are the Doctor right?”
“Yes. Absolutely.” The Doctor ran his fingers through his hair and spun a third time. “At your service.”
“Really,” Tinker Bell peered at him skeptically. “The Queen said you’d have a long, rainbow scarf. Where’s your scarf?”
“Yes, ah, that was some time ago,” the Doctor said. “Quite a few wardrobe changes since then. But I’ve got the blue box,” he pointed at the TARDIS. “Surely she told you about the blue box?”
“Well yes, that’s true,” Tinker Bell conceded. “All right then. What’s your second question?”
“Second question?” the Doctor was momentarily confused. “Oh yes! The second question! Very important. Second question.” The Doctor took a breath and let it out all at once: “Are there going to be pirates? I love pirates! Yo-ho-ho and uhhh,” the Doctor saw Tinker Bell squinting at him and began to drift off, “uhhh…”
“No,” said Tinker Bell. “No pirates. And what do you mean you love pirates?”
“Well,” said the Doctor. “I just meant-”
“Pirates are bad!” Tinker Bell interrupted him. “They pillage. They steal. Always up to no good. Trying to swipe our Pixie Dust.”
“Right!” said the Doctor. “What was I thinking?” He jolted his forehead with his left hand. “Things still a little scrambled in there after thumping Big Ben.” He smacked his head with his other hand. “Ha-haaa! There it is! Pirates-Bad. Got it now! So where’s Queen Clarion?”
“She’s in Pixie Hollow.”
“So she is,” the Doctor clapped. “Pixie Hollow. We should go there and talk to her, I suspect.”
“Can’t?” The Doctor stilled and looked directly at Tinker Bell. “Why? What’s happened? Pixie Hollow is protected.”
“No,” said Tinker Bell. “I mean, Queen Clarion is fine. Pixie Hollow is fine, for now, I guess, and maybe longer, we hope. But we can’t go there.” Tinker Bell flew to the ledge and looked up. “It… It took me too long to get here.”
“Too long?” the Doctor said. “What do you mean?”
“Doctor,” Tinker Bell pointed up into the sky. “The Second Star is gone.”
“Gone? What?” The Doctor jumped forward and looked up. “That’s impossible.”
The Doctor scanned the sky, muttering, “Impossible. That’s just impossible. Should be burning for millennia, that’s why I chose it. If it’s gone, that would mean…”
“It means,” Tinker Bell said weakly. “I’m stranded here, in the human world, forever.”
The Doctor hunkered down, resting his arms on the ledge next to Tinker Bell. Bringing his head low to look at the fairy closely, he could see that her blond hair had come undone from its bun, and that her bright green, leafy garb had been soiled by the rough hands of London.
“Tinker Bell,” the Doctor said softly.
The fairy sat on the ledge and drew her legs in, then sniffed and brushed away a tear. “I was too late. I was going to save spring, and all the seasons, for everyone. Now the Second Star is gone and I have no way to get back. When it gets cold again, my wings will freeze and crack and I’ll never fly again. What’ll happen to me then?”
“Tinker Bell,” the Doctor began again. “You can’t be stranded. Not when your new best friend has a space ship.”
Tinker Bell looked at him. “A space ship?”
“Yeah!” the Doctor grinned. “And not just any space ship. The best space ship anywhere, ever.”
Tinker Bell fluttered up in excitement. “It can take me back to Pixie Hollow without the Second Star?”
Trying to maintain eye contact, the Doctor lifted himself to the very tip of his toes. “Well, no,” he fell back on his heels. “Not without the Second Star. No one can get to Pixie Hollow or Neverland without the Second Star. That’s the whole point of there being a Second Star.”
“Then what good is it?” Drained of her momentary enthusiasm Tinker Bell landed again.
“What good is it?” the Doctor’s face zoomed in close and zoomed away again. “It’s the TARDIS!” The Doctor pranced away and leaned against the blue box with all the flair he could muster.
Sensing the Doctor was holding something back, something big. Tinker Bell darted over and circled the TARDIS twice. “Not very big for a human ship,” she observed.
Shrugging away the comment with a sly smile, the Doctor said, “Yeah, like it that way. Good for parking.”
“Hold on,” Tinker Bell froze in the air. “How is it you can even understand me? Humans don’t understand fairy talk.”
“Ohhh, you are good Tinker Bell,” the Doctor wagged his finger at her. “Very good. The TARDIS has a translation circuit. Any language. Anywhere.”
“Wow,” Tinker Bell said, looking the blue box all over again with fresh eyes.
“Wow,” the Doctor shucked and stroked the TARDIS with a gentle hand. “She said ‘wow.’ Love it when people say wow.”
“What else can it do?”
The Doctor tilted toward Tinker Bell, raised his right hand and snapped his fingers.
The TARDIS door squeaked open and Tinker Bell’s flight response jet her straight back as fast as her wings could take her.
“Come inside and find out for yourself,” the Doctor proposed with an enigmatic smile and then vanished through the door.
Tinker Bell blinked twice, flew up to the door and paused a moment before retreating again. Finally, with a deep breath that rattled her shoulders, she affixed and stern look to her eye, and flew through the doors in search of the Doctor.
After casually observing that the TARDIS was like a puddle being deeper than you expected it to be, Tinker Bell seemed rather unfazed by how much bigger it was on the inside and didn’t even ask for an explanation.
It was completely different with the ship’s gadget laden console of course. The moment she saw it Tink gasped in delight and circled it over and over, ahhing and oohhing at all the intricate Lost Things and wondering what they did.
“Confound it!” the Doctor said, drawing her attention. “Sometimes I’m just too thorough for my own good.”
“What is it Doctor?” she asked, fluttering up beside him as he contemplated the view screen. “What is that?”
“That my dear Tinker Bell, is a celestial star chart that should contain the location of the Second Star. But the TARDIS can’t get a fix on it. It seems to be just gone. Like it never existed. No way to zero in. No way to lock on. No way to get there…”
The Doctor tapped his chin.
“Ohhh,” Tinker Bell alit on the Dematerialization Lever. “Guess that means I’m back to just trying to go home without it.”
The Doctor’s fingers stopped tapping and he looked at Tinker Bell.
“Even if I don’t make it, it’s better than freezing, or worse, getting captured by the humans. And maybe I’ll make it, you know? Use my instincts. Let my wings guide me.”
“Let your wings guide you…” the Doctor echoed.
“Yeah, sounds crazy I know but-”
“Not crazy Tink! Genius!”
Tink’s eyes widened. “Genius? Really?”
“Yes!” the Doctor exclaimed and leaned down close. “You and your wings do know the way. And you can guide the TARDIS to the Second Star!”
“How? I’m not that sure I can even get home. How can I lead us all the way to the Second Star? Through space?”
“Not from out there,” the Doctor pointed toward the doors. “From in here.” He looked up at the ceiling. “Well, from up there actually.”
“Up where?” Tinker Bell followed his gaze to the ceiling and saw nothing but girders, catwalks and crossbeams. “What are you talking about?”
“The Flight Indicator on top of the TARDIS of course. From in there you can be the TARDIS’ nose, a nose that can lead us first to Pixie Hollow and then by course coordination extrapolation straight on through to the Second Star! Brilliant Tinker Bell! Smashing!”
“Well,” Tinker Bell fluttered happily. “I’m a tinker. That’s what we do. We fix things. Even if we’re not quite sure how.”
“You certainly do. And we are going to fix this. Two tinkers fixing the Second Star eh? Yo-ho-ho-”
Tinker Bell cocked an eye at the Doctor.
“Oh right,” he pointed a finger in the air as if recalling a mental note. “No-no-no on the yo-ho-ho. Follow me!”
The Doctor spun his upraised finger in a circle over his head and then stopped to point at a hallway leading out of the console room. “That away!”
Tinker Bell zoomed after the Doctor as he sped out of the room behind his pointing finger; down the hall, up some stairs, through a left-right-right-left combination of doors and halls, then down some stairs which looked suspiciously like the stairs they had taken up, and through another quick series of halls.
“Shouldn’t the Flight Thing be over the Lost Thing steering board?” Tinker Bell wondered out loud.
“Used to be,” the Doctor explained. “Lots of changes since then. Remodeling me, remodeling the TARDIS. But it’s never far. Ah! Here we are!”
The Doctor jumped up suddenly to pull down a ladder that didn’t quite pull down and Tinker Bell hid a quiet giggle behind her hand.
“Just a second,” the Doctor kicked his legs and swiveled his hips. “A little stuck. Edison himself gave me the bulb up there. Never burns out you see, so it’s been awhile since-whooaah!”
The ladder came free and the Doctor plummeted to the ground with a loud thump.
Tinker Bell’s laughter chimed pleasantly up and down the corridors of the TARDIS.
“Ahhh,” the Doctor sighed. “Fairy laughter. Didn’t quite realize how much I missed it. The best medicine. Even the heaviest hearts can’t help but be buoyed.”
Tinker Bell absorbed the Doctor’s words with a quizzically wan smile. Then peered up and said, “It looks really dark up there.”
“Yes, won’t be for long though," the Doctor said as he scurried up the rungs. "And we must do something about the antenna plant before all of London wakes to see it.”
At the top of the ladder waited a small hatch. The Doctor eyed it for a moment, then pulled a slender, tube shaped device from his coat and aimed it at the lock. The device whirred for several seconds and the hatch popped open.
“Ooo,” Tinker Bell’s eyes grew large. “What’s that?”
“Sonic screwdriver. Now,” the Doctor’s tone turned grave. “This is a very, very sacred place in the TARDIS Tinker Bell. If someone got up here and mucked about with the Flight Indicator mechanism, there’s no telling how much damage they could do. The TARDIS would always be off course.” The Doctor glanced away and back again. “Well, a lot more than usual.”
“Hmmm,” Tinker Bell bit her lip. “You know, Doctor, back home… I kind of, sort of, do muck things up from time to time. Not on purpose obviously, but maybe I shouldn’t go up there. Maybe there’s another way?”
“Nonsense,” said the Doctor.
“Nooooo, it really isn’t,” Tink floated back down toward the floor. “When they trusted me with the moonstone to make the Autumn Scepter… I broke it. It was an accident of course. But it was the most valuable thing in all of Pixie Hollow and I broke it.”
The Doctor slid down the ladder and leveled his eyes at the little fairy. “What did you do then?”
“Well, with a little help, no- a lot of help actually, from some friends, I used a diamond to intensify the radiance of the blue moon directly into the shards of the moonstone.”
“Whoah!” the Doctor grinned. “That must’ve made a spectacular poof.”
“Well, yeah, it did, the most blue Pixie Dust ever, but…”
“Shhhhh…” the Doctor put his finger to his lips. “”You fixed it. Like you said, that’s what tinkers do.”
Tinker Bell looked up at the Doctor hopefully.
“I fix things too,” the Doctor continued. “So, tinker to tinker, I know I can trust you Tinker Bell. When you get up there, just get your bearings, think about home, and the TARDIS will do the rest.”
Tinker Bell nodded. “Okay. I’m ready.”
At that, Tinker Bell flew up to the ceiling. The Doctor climbed up the ladder behind her, unscrewed the Edison bulb and carefully put it in one of his pockets. “The door has an automatic locking spring. You can get in but you can’t get out, so I’ll come get you down as soon as we get there.”
He held the door open and Tinker Bell flew in without hesitation.
“Ohhh,” the Doctor grinned. “You are one brave fairy. Don’t worry. When this is over, you’re going to be a legend.”
“Legend,” Tink mumbled after she heard him hit the ground and his footsteps recede. “That’s what I’m afraid of.”
Looking out from the Flight Indicator at the mechanical innards of the great clock made her wonder. How does this thing fly anyway? A moment later she saw the Doctor leap outside and quick step over to a thick stem of the antenna plant anchored to the top of Big Ben.
Watching him closely, she saw him lovingly caress one of the strange blue flowers that were probably not coincidentally, the same shade of blue as the TARDIS. The flower opened and Tinker Bell saw him harvest several seeds from the flower and store them in another blue box that he tucked safely into his pocket.
After placing his hand on the limb for a long moment, he gave the tree a final gentle pat and turned away.
Almost immediately the majestic, towering plant behind him began to tremble, shriveling with age before her very eyes.
Darting her gaze between the dying plant and the Doctor plodding back toward the TARDIS, she looked on in horror as the once lush vines and roots swiftly withered into dust to be carried away by the morning wind.
When the Doctor’s slow, heavy steps finally brought him back to the TARDIS doors Tinker Bell called down from her perch on the roof, “Doctor! Was that really necessary? That was awful!”
“I know,” he said softly. “But just like you, it could not stay here. And its children are with me to bring somewhere safe.”
Tinker Bell’s anger softened when she saw the Doctor’s stricken face. All that stuff before about heavy hearts. And now, she realized, he’s added to that pain trying to save Pixie Hollow. She wanted to say something more, something soothing, but she had no idea what the source of the pain in his eyes was, and the right words did not come.
The Doctor walked out of view into the TARDIS. “Don’t forget. When you hear us take off, focus on home!”
“Wait!” Tinker Bell pressed her face against the light housing. “How will I know we’re taking off?”
Oh my! Tinker Bell thought: What’s that awful noise?
Then the world around her began to wobble and blur.
This must be it! We’re taking off!
Tinker Bell whirled around in a panic, then remembered the Doctor’s words and calmed down.
She fluttered into the air and closed her eyes, turning this way and that before finally settling on a direction. “That way,” she whispered, focusing her gaze on the horizon. “That way. I know it.”
As if sensing her thoughts the TARDIS raced off, wheezing and groaning through the predawn sky. Moments later the TARDIS was careening over Pixie Hollow. Tinker Bell cried out in delight when she saw the Pixie Dust tree and pressed up against the glass.
A few heartbeats later the TARDIS was through the clouds and beyond. As the darkness of space began to close in around her and the tiny fairy shrank back, but a moment before Tink thought she would suffocate, she was surrounded by stars and her fear evaporated.
“Oh my,” Tinker Bell whispered, unfurling like a flower.
Clank! Clank! Clank! She heard the Doctor storming up the ladder below the floor. “Coming Tinker Bell,” his muffled voice rose up, followed by that whirring sound of his sonic screwdriver. What I could do with one of those!
The floor popped open.
“There we are!” said the Doctor all hair and teeth. Then he slid down the ladder. “You did wonderfully!” When the little fairy didn’t speed out of the light housing straight away the Doctor looked up. “Tinker Bell? Aren’t you coming?”
“I… wow…” Tink’s voice drifted off and she fluttered down at last. “It’s just so beautiful Doctor. I could look at the stars out there forever.”
The Doctor rocked back on his heels and eyed the ship around him. “Hear that? That’s two wows. We’re up to two wows.” The Doctor pointed at Tinker Bell with both hands, “And she doesn’t even know the best part.”
“The best part?”
The Doctor sidled up next to Tinker Bell. Looking at her closely he whispered, “We don’t have to wait till morning.” The Doctor clapped and whirled. “Haha! Follow me!”
The Doctor jogged off happily and Tinker Bell followed. Every time I think I know what to expect, she thought, shaking her head from side to side. He says or does something else… This is wonderful!
Back in the console room, watching the Doctor dart around flipping switches, turning dials and humming softly, Tinker Bell began to think out loud. “We don’t have to wait till morning… Does that mean-”
The room lurched suddenly, hurling the Doctor brutally against the guard rails. As if toying with him, the room careened over and over and again and again with teeth grating wails and whines each time he regained his feet.
Floating unaffected by the motion, Tinker Bell covered her eyes and winced each time the Doctor or the TARDIS yowled. When the gyrations finally ceased and she heard the Doctor thump to the floor with a long, soft groan, the fairy peeked between her fingers.
“Doctor? Are you all right?”
The Doctor sat up slowly, his eyes looking in different directions. Still shaking his head, he drew himself up to his feet. “That was rough, even for the TARDIS. Let’s see what’s going on out there.”
The Doctor pulled the monitor over, flipped a few switches and contemplated the picture.
Flying over the console, Tinker Bell alit gently on his shoulder. Then she cupped her right elbow with her left hand, and her chin with her right in an exact imitation of the Time Lord. “What is that a picture of? And why is it moving?” she asked.
“This picture is an eyehole to the outside that shows us where we are. All this, debris floating around, appears to be blocking us from seeing or getting any closer to the Second Star.”
“Debris?” the fairy wondered. “What kind of debris? It looks like an avalanche without the mountain.”
“Hmmmm,” the Doctor tapped his chin. “Maybe the debris is the mountain. Or more precisely, a moon that was pulverized into a fused asteroid belt of some kind.”
“What happened to it?”
“That is the question Tink. That is the question. That and what’s holding it together and how is it hiding the Second Star from my instruments. Guess we’ll have to go and find out, won’t we?”
“Go and find out? Outside you mean?” Tink’s voice rose. “In space?”
“In space?” the Doctor echoed. “Noooo. Didn’t I tell you the best part?”
Tinker Bell flew off the Doctor’s shoulder and hovered in front of him with her hands on her hips. “Yes. You said we didn’t have to wait till morning.”
“Right,” the Doctor pointed at her. “I mean the other best part.”
Tinker Bell folded her arms and cocked her head in mild annoyance.
The Doctor looked away and back. “The part about the TARDIS being the best spaceship anywhere, everrr?”
“Well, you did, but you didn’t quite say it like that: everrr. What’s that supposed to mean?
“It means, the TARDIS is also a time machine, and we can go back and see what happened! We can find out why the moon exploded!”
The Doctor spread his hands, mouth hanging open, waiting for Tinker Bell to speak.
“Great!” she said. “Let’s go! I’ve never seen a moon explode before.”
The Doctor’s hands dropped. “Great? That’s it? I thought for sure she was going to say wow again. That would have been a third wow. The record is five you know, on a first trip.”
Tinker Bell was standing on the Dematerialization Lever. “Can I push the lever that makes us go this time?”
The Doctor’s face lit up again. “You can! Absolutely! How about that?”
“Flitteriffic!” Tinker Bell exclaimed.
The Doctor lowered his eyes gloomily and set to work, throwing switches, twirling dials and consulting various gauges.
At length, the Doctor drew a deep breath and Tinker Bell asked, “Now?”
“Delicate business, calibrating. Have to set the chronolytic telemytron just right so we don’t whiz passed the event we’re looking for without seeing it.”
Tinker Bell turned around and leaned against the lever.
“Flitteriffic,” the Doctor asked suddenly, slapping a row of switches down with his left hand. “What is that? Is that like wow?”
“I guess,” Tinker Bell said. “I suppose it’s better really.”
“Better,” the Doctor nodded, smiling again. “All right then. That’s a wow. I’m giving you a third wow. Rarefied air, three wows, absolutely. But you earned it- now.”
“Thank you Doctor, though I’m not sure what all that means or why it’s important.”
“Now means,” the Doctor spread his hands. “Now.”
“Now means… Oh!” Tinker Bell turned, set her feet on the console and gripped the lever. “Now!”
“Now!” the Doctor cried with her, and Tinker Bell leaned into the lever with all her might and flap. The lever hesitated and Tink’s wings blurred and buzzed with effort until it finally yielded and the console grinded into life.
Stepping back, Tinker Bell dusted her hands together and watched the rotor going up and down. “You know, when I first heard that sound, it scared me, but the more I hear it, the more I like it.”
“Of course your do,” the Doctor said. “Everyone does! It’s the call to adventure!”
The Doctor turned from the viewer, staggered and collapsed into a half sitting position on the floor. “Is there anything unspoiled by that madness, that horror?” He buried his face in his hands.
“What is it Doctor?” Tinker Bell asked. “What did you see?”
The Doctor reached up toward the console without looking and turned a dial. “See for yourself.”
“Wow,” Tink said and the Doctor smiled wistfully. “Is that the Second Star up close?”
Tinker Bell looked down at the Doctor and he nodded.
“It’s so bright and- oh!”
A saucer like ship, flaming and heavily damaged, materialized before the star. Then another. Finally a third appeared; the last a total ruin and swerving out of control, it slammed into a small planetoid and everything exploded.
“Whooaah,” Tinker Bell shielded her eyes from the blast-flare. “Were there people on those dinner plates? Are theyyy?”
“Not people,” the Doctor informed her. “Daleks. The enemies of everything good and kind.”
“Then, I guess I shouldn’t feel too bad for them, but what happened?”
The Doctor pulled himself up, grimaced at the viewer a moment, and then said, “The Time War happened. Those ships apparently tried to escape the final battle, and landed here. When the last one crashed it set off a chain reaction. The resulting explosion created a temporal cloud that’s been expanding across the face of the Second Star ever since. Absorbing its light and sending it elsewhen, and it’ll keep on doing that until it finally dissipates.”
“And when it dissipates,” Tink closed one eye and scrunched up her face, “the Second Star will be visible again?”
The Doctor nodded once and said, “Yes.”
“Okay then, how long will that take?”
“Millennia, Tinker Bell,” the Doctor hung his head again. “I’m sorry. There is nothing I can do to change what happened. It’s an extraneous time locked event linked to the Time War.”
Tinker Bell flew up to the viewer slowly and watched the events scroll through time once more. Then the Doctor shut it off and the screen went blank.
“I’m sorry Tinker Bell, I truly-”
Tinker Bell whirled on the Doctor. “But why do we have to go back to change what happened? I understand having a time machine is handy and all, especially if you break a moonstone, but aren’t you a little too, I don’t know… You shouldn’t always need it to fix things. Tinkers fix things all the time- I fix things all the time, without time traveling.”
“Yes, good point Tink, but for something like this the TARDIS is our primary tool, and its primary function is useless to us.”
“Primary function?” Tinker Bell was unrelenting. “Back home human stuff washes up on Pixie Hollow every day. Some fairies call it junk. I call them Lost Things, and use what I find all the time for things they were never intended to do. Which is exactly what we need to do now. You said yourself the TARDIS is the bestest spaceship anywhere,” Tink enclosed the next word with air quotes: “Everrr. Now it’s time to prove it.
The Doctor stood up straighter, his voice remained low, but inspired by Tinker Bell’s speech, his eyes had begun to shine. “Do you have a plan Tinker Bell? I’m getting the distinct impression that despite being so far from home and completely out of your element, you might have a plan. Usually I’m the one who gets the plans, but… not lately.”
Tinker Bell sensed the great sadness around the Doctor once more and resolved to try and fix that too if she could. “Okay,” she thought out loud, “first things first.”
“But not necessarily in that order?” the Doctor forced a smile.
“Yes!” Tink cried. “Finally! Someone who gets what that means!”
“Finally,” the Doctor agreed.
Time Lord and fairy shared a knowing grin, the former pleasantly surprised at how Tink’s glee had turned his smile into a genuine one.
Then she elaborated: “So, it might not be a plan. Not really, but it is and idea.”
The Doctor smoothed his sleeves and then peered at her from under his hair. “Go on.”
“Well, you said it was a cloud of some kind right?”
“Yes. A temporal cloud.”
“Well, in Pixie Hollow, when we need to water some things but not others, Vidia and the other fast flying fairies zoom around a storm cloud and catch it up in a cyclone, then guide the cloud to where we need it. Can the TARDIS do that? Fly real fast and move the cloud somewhere safe?”
“An inter-stellar cyclone,” the Doctor mused. “That is quite clever Tinker Bell, quite clever indeed.”
“In this case, at the right speed, I think the temporal cloud might even collapse in on itself and blink right out of existence.” Then the Doctor sighed. “But were talking about one, very big, very massive cloud that’s blotting out a star. The velocity it would take to create a cyclone big enough to capture the temporal cloud, I’m afraid it’s beyond even the TARDIS.”
Tinker Bell’s eyes sparkled in the light of the TARDIS’ instruments.
“I might have left out the best part,” she said with a smile.
“The best part?” the Doctor asked.
“I have Pixie Dust.”
“Yes,” the Doctor nodded. “Pixie Dust. Great for flitting around from place to place but-”
“Talent switching Pixie Dust,” Tinker Bell added.
The Doctor’s chin rose. “Talent switching Pixie Dust?”
“Yes,” Tinker Bell said. “I get the feeling the TARDIS is more than a ship. That it’s a living ship. And if it is, maybe we can use the fast flying Pixie Dust to make her fast enough to create the cyclone. It’s worth a try at least. Right?”
The Doctor stood there speechless. His eyes glistening. Then his lips moved, his voice barely a whisper. “I shouldn’t travel alone. That’s what she said and she was right. Ah, my lost Ponds…”
“Lost ponds?” Tinker Bell asked. “What are lost ponds?”
The Doctor thrust his arms out suddenly, pointing at the little fairy with both hands. “Talent switching Pixie Dust!” he exclaimed.
Tinker Bell fluttered back in confusion, then shook her head and said, “That’s right. Will it work?”
“Oh I have that wonderful tingly feeling that it might and it might not! Love that feeling!” The Doctor began turning knobs and dials. “Just have to go back to your present and find precisely the right spot. Of course we’ll have to exponentially increase the size and mass of the TARDIS. Can’t whip up the wind we need in this tiny box.”
The TARDIS wheezed and lurched suddenly forcing the Doctor to hold on. Then he patted the console. “Oh don’t worry girl, soon as were done I’ll have you back to your svelte, sexy self.”
“Who invented that I wonder,” the Doctor was once again running around and making adjustments all over the console. “Talent switching Pixie Dust? You, Tinker Bell?”
“Me? No. That was Zarina. She was a dust keeper who became a pirate-”
“Ah-ha!” the Doctor grinned. “Pirates! I knew there’d be pirates!”
“And noooowwww,” Tinker Bell looked at the Doctor sternly, “she’s back in Pixie Hollow and a Pixie Dust alchemist. Not a pirate! But, she still does kind of dress like one.”
“What a name,” the Doctor tore himself from the console and stretched his hands across the air before him, “Zarina, the Pixie Dust alchemist. Great names fairy names. One of the bestselling baby name books across the universe for millennia. Don’t remember seeing Zarina in there, must be new. She must be the first! That settles it, have to pop over and say hello when we get back.”
“I’m sure she’ll enjoy meeting you too Doctor,” Tinker Bell interrupted him. “If we fix this, I hope you’ll consider-”
“Here we are!” the Doctor announced, racing over to open the doors. “Whenever you’re ready Tinker Bell.”
Tinker Bell looked back and forth between the Doctor and the open doors several times. “Is it safe to just, go out there?”
“The area around the TARDIS is shielded. Plenty of room for you to fly around.” The Doctor flashed a dainty smile and flicked his fingers in the air. “Sprinkling.”
“All right,” Tinker Bell said, examining herself. “I know it’s here somewhere. Give me a second. I’m not used to all these pouches and pockets.”
“Love having pockets,” the Doctor said. “Lots of pockets. Not pouches so much. But pockets. Have lots of pockets I always say. Best way to find things you’ve forgotten about to help you out of a jam.”
“Here it is,” Tinker Bell announced.
“Looks small,” the Doctor noted. “Will it be enough?”
“I have blue Pixie Dust too. Blue Pixie Dust multiplies any other dust it gets mixed with, should be plenty.” Tinker Bell crossed to the doors. “But I’ll use it all just in case.” Then she flew out.
“She’s going to use it all,” the Doctor echoed, flexing his fingers rapidly. “I need a hat! This calls for a hat!”
Tinker Bell spread Pixie Dust all around the outside of the TARDIS and returned a short time later. “All right Doctor, we’re all set.” Tinker Bell looked around the empty chamber. “Doctor?”
“Coming!” the Doctor cried, all but leaping back into the console room.
Landing with a low thud he tugged at the goggles affixed to a brown leather cap he’d put on and let them slap back down with a loud thwap!
“Huh? Huh?” he asked brightly.
Then he twirled and the ear flaps rose up around him like a propeller
Tinker Bell’s chin drooped, but her gaze never left the Doctor. “Do you really need that?”
“Do I really need this?” the Doctor frowned. “Do I really need this? Oi! This is my speedy hat. Wore this when I helped Chuck Yeager break the sound barrier.”
Tinker Bell blinked twice. “Well, I suppose, if you think it will help.”
“Of course it will help. Not as much as you’re going to. But yes. Absolutely.”
“Me?” Tink floated back in surprise.
The Doctor opened his mouth to reply but the TARDIS shuddered suddenly, cutting him off.
"What was that?" Tinker Bell asked, darting through the air in short, quick spurts, eyes peering up at the rafters.
“That was the TARDIS. She’s not aligned with the magic of the Pixie Dust. That’s where you come in.”
“Oh.” Tinker Bell touched her chin, then looked up hopefully: “Back to the Flight Light?”
“Flight Light,” the Doctor’s eyes widened and he began to mumble. “Much better than what I made up before. What did I make up before? Flight, something or oth-”
The TARDIS rumbled again and Tinker Bell landed on his shoulder, looking up behind him and tugging on his hair, “Doctor?”
“Yes Tink!” he answered. “Back to the Flight Light. And hang on! Might get a little scary with all the crazy swirling. But you are as perfectly safe up there as I am in here. Remember the way?”
Tinker Bell gave the Doctor a salute and zoomed off, her tiny, tinkling voice fading quickly, “I remember!”
The Doctor saluted the direction in which she disappeared. Then he switched channels on the display until he saw Tinker Bell clambering inside the newly renamed Flight Light. Once she settled in, he used his sonic screwdriver to unlock a panel near the rotor and opened it. The toggle underneath had two settings: lock and free. He flipped the switch to free and pressed the button beside it. Almost instantly the rooftop beacon outside began flashing through the spectrum. Gradually it began to slow, until finally, the light settled on the same luminous green as Tink’s outfit.
“Right then,” the Doctor said softly. “Now you’ve got it. This is just for a little while I promise. Then it’s right back to comfy blue.”
He flicked the toggle over to the lock position and the outside of the TARDIS turned green.
“I know I’m asking a lot of you today, maybe the most dangerous flight we’ve ever undertaken, and we’ve undertaken quite a few. But it’s important. Pixie Hollow is worth saving.”
The Doctor tugged and snapped the goggles down over his eyes with both hands.
“So let’s save it.”
With a final, deep breath, the Doctor threw a bright red lever and the TARDIS jolted forward.
The TARDIS sprang under Tinker Bell’s feet, throwing her back against the glass.
“Whooaah!” she cried out, flapping her wings to steady herself.
Transfixed once more by the starfield, Tink watched the temporal cloud loom larger and larger until the sheer enormity of it made her shrink back in awe.
Without warning the TARDIS began to wheeze and hiss beneath her while the Flight Light Compartment began to get bigger and bigger and bigger. By the time it stopped, Tink was certain the whole ship had become as big as all of Neverland.
It was hard to tell at first, even with its new girth, but the TARDIS began skirting the edge of the cloud, its sheer speed melting everything around her into wavy lines of flickering light as the ship tried to complete its first rotation around the massive field.
To Tink that journey seemed to take a very long time, and she began to feel the strain of staying aloft for so long.
Her toes landed on the floor, and the moment they did, the TARDIS slowed beneath her.
“Heyyy,” she wondered aloud. “Is that supposed to happen?”
She began flapping again and felt the TARDIS pick up speed and energy. It’s like… we’re rowing a boat together…
“The Doctor to Tinker Bell.”
The voice was all around her.
“Doctor to Tinker Bell. I’m broadcasting outside the TARDIS. I hope you can hear me. The TARDIS appears to have… synced up with you… joined forces you might say… realigned her molecules using you as a template so that it can maximize the potential of the Pixie Dust.”
“This is very important Tink,” the Doctor went on. “Absolutely vital. The TARDIS needs you. She’s getting the extra strength she needs to create the imploding cyclonic vortex from you.” His voice dropped noticeably. “So you have to stay airborne Tinker Bell. At all costs.” Then it rose again. “So c’mon now! Get that fairy-nitro flowing! I know you can do it! Flap-flap-flap! Our little Tink Turbo! That’s what you are! Flap as hard as you can! As long as you can!”
Urged on by the Doctor, her face flushed with effort, Tinker Bell focused on a distant point at the edge of the cloud. Flapping with all her might, she imagined a place just around the curvature and strove to reach it. With the Doctor cheering her on to keep giving just a little bit more and a little bit more, the strain grew and grew until all at once, she realized her wings had peaked.
How long was she flying?
It seemed like forever.
The Doctor was pleading now, begging her for more, for all of Pixie Hollow, but she just couldn’t do it. She had nothing left to give, and worse she knew, was that she would be weakening before the job was done.
Tinker Bell ground her teeth together.
She had to find more somewhere.
Dig down deeper.
Into… I nto one of her pouches!
Maybe. Just maybe. She had used it all, but just maybe…
Tinker Bell felt around for her empty pouch of fast flying fairy dust.
Reaching inside, she dug her fingers into the corners and traced every seam, then pulled her hand out.
Several random flecks were on her fingers and she coated her shirt with them. Reaching in again she found a few more. Then the bag was utterly and truly empty.
Blue dust! Blue dust!
She found the pouch of blue and splashed a dripping handful on the fast flying fairy dust on her shirt.
C’mon! C’mon! Please work!
In the next instant the dust multiplied and she was coated with fast flying fairy dust. Just to be sure, she snatched as much as she could with both hands and tossed it back over her wings.
“Faith. Trust. And Pixie Dust!” Tinker Bell shouted with renewed energy.
“Yes! That’s it Tink!” the Doctor called out to her. “Go! Go! Go!”
Thanks to the talent switching fairy dust she might have the abilities of a fast flying fairy, but that didn’t give Tink the aerodynamic wings of a fast flying fairy, and the air around her was filled with an ear splitting buzz created by wings never meant to go as fast as they were.
On and on she flew. Gasping and crying. Her tiny heart pounding! Until suddenly, her vision blurred and she was overcome by blackness.
The buzzing stopped abruptly, and like a stressed green leaf stripped from a tree in spring far too soon, Tinker Bell crumpled to the floor; her delicate wings bent, jagged and riddled with hairline tears- dreaded types of injuries that had grounded fairies for life since the beginning of time.
The Doctor lifted himself up off the floor and staggered back to the viewer.
“You did it Tinker Bell!” he cried happily at what he saw on the screen. “You did it! I was just able to dematerialize as the temporal cloud collapsed in on itself. A bit bumpy, kind of like being stretched in every direction at once and snapped back again, but we made it. And thanks to you the Second Star is visible all over the universe again!”
The Doctor ran around the console throwing switches and turning dials.
“Coming for you in a moment. We’ve crashed landed and I don’t know where. Must be close by, just want to make sure we’re not…”
The viewer flicked over to show the inside of the Flight Indicator Compartment.
“…in any danger,” he finished just as his eyes captured the image of Tinker Bell lying motionless on the floor.
The Doctor shook the monitor as if it were her shoulder. “Tinker Bell! No!”
Then he was off, vaulting up the stairs two at a time.
“Hold on Tink! Hold on!”
In a flash he was scooting up and down the corridors, mumbling: “No, no, no-no-no-noooo. I can’t lose you too. Not after Amy and Rory.”
The Doctor leapt up on the ladder to the Flight Light with a running start and was several rungs up before it hit the floor. As gingerly as he could, he opened the small door and let Tinker Bell slide gently into his hand.
“To the infirmary,” he wheezed with urgent softness.
Sliding to the floor and dashing off once more, he began turning through corridors in such a reckless fashion that any onlooker would have thought it random. Throughout the entire sprint his eyes never left the little fairy in his palm, and as hard and as fast as he ran, she didn’t jostle or bump at all.
Forty-eight seconds later he set her down softly in the middle of a giant white bed, then began poking at numerous instruments and examining the readouts until finally, he pulled over a saucer shaped light, angled it at the prone little fairy and switched it on.
Tinker Bell was bathed in a soft, pink light, and the Doctor pulled over a football sized lens attached to a white extender arm through which he could see her more clearly.
“You can do it Tink!” he whispered, wincing at the sight of her crumpled, twisted wings. “You can do it!”
To the Doctor the tension seemed endless, but finally, Tinker Bell stirred and moaned. Still, she did not open her eyes and with a great exhale, the Doctor fell into a nearby chair and buried his face in his hands.
After several long, deep breaths and wiping the tears from his eyes, he began to talk quietly. “Brilliant Tinker Bell. Truly amazing. To find so much heart and courage in someone so small and fragile. I knew you could do it. Never doubted you not once.”
Without warning he became a blur of motion, springing out of the chair and examining her again through the lens. “Now that you’re stabilized, we’ll let you rest a bit and see if we can’t get those wings some proper help. Perhaps the Parladorians. Experts in physiognomy from one end of the cosmos to the other the Parladorians.”
With a long, final look at the unconscious, fretful fairy, the Doctor swept out of the infirmary and stalked back to the console room.