Title: Heaven All Alone
Disclaimer: I own nothing except Summer, and her only sort of.
AN: Cleaned up a bit and reposted, thanks to Charlotte Dhark's BRing!
The Time Lady formerly known as Dawn Elizabeth Summers stared at herself in the mirror and frowned. Since recovering her memories of her life before Dawn – she reprimanded herself sharply for the pun – she'd been decidedly unsatisfied with her wardrobe.
Maybe it was a Time Lord thing, she decided. The Doctor certainly had a defined and more or less unvarying look, but it was hard to tell...most of her childhood had been spent in a rigid uniform, and the adults had always dressed nearly identically. There wasn't a chapter on Time Lady Fashion in any of the books she'd been searching at any rate, and as best she could figure it was simply a random instinct – some things were just right. Maybe that was why they'd always worn the uniforms – saved them the trouble of agonizing over a new look with every regeneration.
Which still led to the conclusion that wearing her sparkly jeans and rock band t-shirts felt absolutely wrong
. The things she'd bought in London, not long ago at all, were very much Dawn...and she wasn't sure at all what she would be able to consider very much Summer
. The TARDIS wardrobe, however fabulous, seemed rather ill equipped to dealing with the fashion crises of a twenty-one year old Time Lady.
She sighed, pulling out a pair of very dark jeans and a deep orange sweater – a jumper; she thought a bit sarcastically – that cut rather low on her chest. There was something missing...she closed one eye and tilted her head; she pulled her hair up off her neck and twisted, watching her reflection. Yep, definitely something missing. She shrugged and sat down, pulling on a pair of soft camel-colored suede boots she'd found in the back of the massive shoe rack. They had nice, thick heels and solid rubber bottoms – perfect for running but still very slim and feminine. She bounced experimentally; testing the resistance of the soles. She might have to work at them a little, make sure they had enough traction just in case they ended up running for their lives on something slick, but otherwise they seemed alright.
She wondered at the fact that these things had never bothered her when she was likely to be running for her life in Sunnydale – but then, she'd known what sort of terrain to expect back then. She tossed her head a little, admiring the small silver hoops in her ears before she began the trek through the corridors back to find the Doctor. She couldn't deny it anymore – she simply had to find a mall.
?" Donna looked downright offended.
"America," the Doctor replied with a grin. "Early twenty-first century, couple years before I picked up any of you lot. No idea what we're doing here, perfect mystery, could be any number of horrible things happening in..." he checked the readout again and raised both eyebrows. "Maryland? Well maybe it's a bit more interesting a place in this dimension."
"I don't even know where Maryland is," Rose muttered.
"East coast, near DC," Summer frowned thoughtfully. "I wonder how long it takes to get there from here? They've gotta have the good shopping. We could take a train."
"Will you shut up about clothes? There are really more important things in the universe and that's all you've gone on about for days." The Doctor shot her a dark look. "You're being such a...a..."
Summer's eyes narrowed and her hands planted firmly on her hips. "You should think very carefully about how you finish that sentence."
He noticed at that particular moment that Rose and Donna had mirrored the Time Lady's pose, complete with expectant expressions on their faces. He was struck by an odd sensation – it wasn't often the Doctor felt truly outnumbered. "Ah," he said after a short pause. "I think for my health I'll let that one rest."
"Good choice," Rose grinned at him, and he couldn't help but return it. "Really though, you mind if we go shoppin'? I didn't really pack anything from home and I've sorta grown out of the stuff I had left in my room."
He had actually noticed that she wore considerably fewer hoodies these days, but now that she mentioned it her overall appearance was quite a bit...older. He sighed, a pained but accepting sound of defeat. He dug into his coat pocket and pulled out a bank card. He checked the date with a quick glance and then handed it to Rose with another sigh. "Yes, go. I'll find out what's so interesting here on my own, and if any adventures are to be had you lot had better not whine because you missed them."
"Wouldn't dream of it," the blonde rolled her eyes. He snorted, but the doors unlocked and the girls exited into the bright sunshine of Arcadia, Maryland.
There were bags of clothes at her feet; she'd been rather successful in determining that she liked lots of layering of thin shirts and camisoles - not to mention lots of very dark jeans – and had not wasted the opportunity to use the Doctor's funds. That said...it was still not quite right. She needed something; there was some accessory that would make it perfect, something like the Doctor's trainers that would just fit. She'd gone through silky scarves and shiny necklaces and crazy jackets galore; she'd even bought a few of the latter, but none had quite accomplished what she wanted.
She supposed she ought to let the process occur organically, as it was meant to. She just wanted so desperately to be comfortable in her skin, to feel as at home in her body as she had in the years before she opened the stupid fob watch. She pouted a bit and leaned back against the cold wooden bench; she figured it would still be a while before the others finished. Rose seemed to have a talent for endless shopping and chatting; Donna was just happy to be doing something girlish for once, though Summer had a sneaking suspicion that the older woman just wanted the time to get to know the younger companion.
She figured she would leave them to it; she didn't begrudge them discussion of the Doctor, but it wasn't exactly her favorite topic either. It was a bit unsettling actually, she could still remember hearing stories about his adventures at bedtime or whispered by the others at the Academy – the few that had actually been corroborated being largely school pranks, and then mostly because no one had ever quite figured out how to paint over the results of said pranks.
She remembered her older brother finding the highly
impossible suggestion of what Lord Borusa should do with the Untempered Schism and his own person to be the most entertaining of the Doctor's adventures. Summer had always been partial to the stories that involved Lady Romana – often cited as the Doctor's great romance – but she couldn't exactly share those
with Donna and Rose, particularly since they'd been proven well wrong by the young blonde.
She sighed and kicked her nearest bag a little, trying desperately not to sulk. She felt like wallowing a bit actually, maybe getting a pint of mint-chocolate-chip ice cream and curling up in the TARDIS with a large spoon and a copy of Thelma and Louise. Given the Doctor's random mood swings, she could bet money that Rose would be up for it.
Summer congratulated herself on not showing exactly how much the young woman's voice startled her. She really should have noticed the fact that the girl had not only approached but had in fact sat down next to her. Time Lady senses indeed.
"What?" Okay, so she wasn't entirely unaffected.
The girl – teenager, maybe sixteen? - smiled hesitantly. "Are you okay? Do you um, need help or something?"
Summer shook her head, pulling her feet up under her on the bench. "Nah, just um, thinking."
"I'm Joan," she stretched out her hand, smiling a bit more confidently. "You know, I've been told that baring your soul to perfect strangers is a great stress reliever."
Summer laughed a little and shook the proffered limb. "Summer. And yeah, I've heard that too. I appreciate the offer, but it's wicked complicated."
The teenager shrugged and glanced back over her shoulder into the park. A bunch of children were playing on the equipment, and she smiled sadly. "Yeah?" She met Summer's eyes and for a moment the Time Lady felt as if the girl was reading something that no one else would ever see. "I'm actually really good with complicated."
Summer picked at her sleeve and chewed the inside of her lip. "Well, I guess...I'm having an identity crisis. I just found out I'm not biologically related to my family, and it's like...everything is different, but at the same time I haven't changed as much as I should have. My mom and the biological parents are dead so I can't even talk to them, and my sister is gonna be out of contact for months so I can't talk to her about it either."
Joan played with the long scarf she'd wrapped around her neck. For a moment Summer wondered if she shouldn't have said anything – if the girl had just wanted her to say she needed directions to the drugstore...but no, she'd been asked after all.
"I think..." she started, then paused and began to chew on a strand of her long dark hair. "Family is really important right? It defines who you are...but it's not about the blood. I love my brothers, and it's not because we have the same parents and DNA and stuff, it's because we have the same memories. Because Kevin beat up a guy who pushed me in the second grade, and because I beat up a guy who hit Luke in the fourth. I mean, like, you know your family are the people who will kick other people's butts for you," she grinned a little. "Totally messed up way to say it but you know what I mean."
Summer giggled a bit. "Guess so. And I don't really have a problem with that, I spent a lot of time being raised by my sister's friends and all, so family is a lot of 'what you make it' for me, I'm just tired of the rules changing. And it's weird 'cause things just keep getting...I dunno, more complicated. Every time I get comfy in a some sitch or another, everything goes wacko and I'm stuck trying to figure out why the pieces don't fit together anymore."
"Well," Joan paused. "I keep changing and getting involved in random things...and my parents and my friends think I'm just insane, but all these stupid projects and clubs I join for five minutes sort of...teach me. I guess, I mean that's as best I can figure it anyway. 'Cause how do you know what you like if you don't try, right? Like, I know that right now, I hate chemistry. In five years maybe I won't, and I'll have to try again, but it doesn't mean I don't hate it now. But I wouldn't know that unless I tried it."
Summer grinned. "You're kinda wise for a teenager."
"People underestimate teenagers," Joan shook the end of her scarf in Summer's direction. "No one ever learns."
"I guess people figure that the young have strong bodies and the old have strong minds, it's hard to accept that a person can have both."
"Though easy to figure that they don't have either," Joan smirked.
Summer laughed and nodded. "True words," she shifted in her seat, stretching a bit. She rubbed her arms, shivering slightly in the cool spring air. She frowned a little and stood before reaching into one of the bags and pulling out a lace-edged brown corduroy jacket. "Getting chilly," she explained needlessly as she pulled off the tags and shrugged it on. "I'm not used to this weather, I grew up in California."
Joan stood as well, nodding sagely. "It gets cold suddenly. If you're gonna stick around Arcadia come fall, you'll need a warmer coat."
"Nah, just passing through," she hugged the material close to her chest. "I'll be fine."
The younger girl paused for a moment before reaching up and removing the scarf around her neck. She leaned forward and draped it over Summer's shoulders. "Here. You can have it."
"Oh, no, I couldn't -"
"Consider it a gift. From one walking identity crisis to another," Joan smiled broadly. "I wore it too much anyway, I need a new look."
Summer looked down and cautiously wrapped the multi-colored scarf once around her neck. It still fell past her knees, and she smiled slowly. "It's...exactly what I was looking for." She leaned forward impulsively and hugged the girl. "Thank you...you have no idea."
Joan just grinned. "You'll be okay," it wasn't a question, but she still looked expectantly at the Time Lady. Summer nodded. "Good. Keep warm," she admonished gently, and she slowly turned to walk away.
"If I'm ever back in Arcadia I'll look you up, okay?" Summer called after her. The younger girl just held up a hand, waving without looking back.
Summer got the feeling that Joan enjoyed the moment for reasons that were completely unconnected to her. She smiled and picked up her bags, quite satisfied and ready now, to return to the TARDIS. She might even be up for an adventure...she wondered if the Doctor had ever figured out why they'd landed in Maryland.
From across the park, a ginger-haired little girl watched Summer walk away, the plastic antennae on her head waving gently in the wind. She hugged a red rubber ball and smiled.