Stand Beside You
It’s not like she isn’t expecting what happens with her past self. She lived it from his side, and even if paradox rules mean she’s forgotten certain details, she remembers big things.
A scary woman she called herself. Or her past self considered her current self. Big things like spare parts and, well, self-harm stick with a Time Lord. Or a Time Lady.
Point is, she knows what’s coming when she and her past self run into the forest to the elevators, away from the encroaching Cybermen army. She knows she leaves the Doctor, so she does it, to avoid rewriting the universe because even if she were still that person, she can’t screw up her own timeline that way. Too much self preservation for that.
Speaking of self-preservation…she knows what she thought she did, back then. And she knows how to tweak the results. So yes, her past self shoots her current self in the back and disappears into the depths, to repair his TARDIS and regenerate into her. And yes, getting shot hurts, and it locks down her regeneration energy, and...oh, ow, that’s worse than she thought it would be. But it’s not fatal, even if she does play dead for a bit, and the back-up emergency measures she set for herself a long time ago, back when she first saw her new face and recognized it, kick in just as planned. So it hurts, and she’s stuck with the pain and her current face, but she’s not dead.
She staggers to her feet, feeling very much worse for the wear. From the looks of it, the other elevators have been taken, so that lump Nardole has already gotten the colonists out of there. All around her, explosions fill the air.
It’s a battlefield. She likes those, in general. A good place to raise hell, and this time she might not even get scolded for it. But first, she needs to find the Doctor.
She’s looking, trying to figure out which set of violent explosions is him, when another one goes off, ten times worse than any previous blast. It knocks her off her feet, and not just because it’s strong enough to level and incinerate the forest around her.
No, this is energy she recognizes, and she goes down with a curse on her lips. “You bloody fool...you better not have...”
But she knows he did. The utter arsehole. She felt it, the mix of sonic and regeneration energy. He’s been holding back his healing and regeneration for nearly two weeks, and now he’s released it, in one titanic, explosive blast.
It’ll certainly kill most, if not all, the Cybermen on this level. Problem is, it will also kill him. And that, right here and now, is the result she least wants.
She’s worked hard to prove herself to him. To become the kind of person he could trust and be friends with again, even love in some way. It’s been a hellish journey, worse than she ever thought possible when she started. How he ever managed it without someone beside him, monitoring him the way he did her, she’s no idea.
But if it’s been painful, it’s also helped her rediscover parts of herself she left behind on Gallifrey during the Time Wars. Possibly even before that. It’s helped her grow...if not always the way her friend would have liked. She’ll be damned if she’s going to give that up. Give him up.
She staggers to her feet and makes her way to the source of the blast, wobbling on unsteady feet and hoping that, somehow, he’s beat the odds again.
She finds him lying on his back in the center of a blast pattern, surrounded by the charred stumps of what used to be trees. His coat is ripped and torn, there’s ash and blood on his face, burns on his hands and his jaw. His hair’s a mess, even worse than usual.
For all of that, he looks...peaceful. Calm. As if this is what he wanted. Death in battle. And in a way, she supposes it is. He has served as the defender of humanity for a long time. If he could choose a death, perhaps this would be it, to die in battle against his deadly foes protecting human children.
But it’s not the death she would choose for him. She always swore he would die at her hands. And she never got to come back, to stand with him like she intended to. He fell, not knowing she was returning to his side. And that, after everything they’ve gone through together, after the long journey of redemption that he’s led her through...that’s just not fair. It’s irony for her to say it, but...it’s not right.
And curse her past self, she can’t even give him her regeneration energy to heal him and transform him into a new state. She finds herself swallowing back an odd burning that she recognizes as tears after a moment.
A clanking interrupts her, and she whips around, ready to kill the interloper. It’s a Cyberman, and she almost blasts it before she realizes that she recognizes it. The Cyberman that used to be Bill Potts. Broken and battered and clearly on her last legs, but coming to find the Doctor as she herself did.
The Cyberman clanks to a stop, then crashes to it’s knees. Odd, Bill can still cry in that form. She never saw anything like that, and she’s something of an expert on Cybermen.
She moves to stand across from Bill, the Doctor between them, and wonders if there’s anything she can possibly say. She’s got no experience with situations like this, no idea what would be appropriate. Besides, she can’t think of anything she wants to say.
He is her friend, the only entity in the universe she cared enough to call that. And now, he’s dead.
Splashing interrupts her musings, and she turns, the distraction a welcome relief from the odd and painful feeling of grief that consumes her.
There’s a puddle. There shouldn’t be, the Doctor’s last explosion would have vaporized water. She watches in curious interest as the puddle flows upward, defying all the laws of gravity, and turns into…
A girl. Pretty little bit of a thing. And what a lovely feature, that star in her eye. Oh, she’d love to know how that came to be. Of course, the girl is dripping wet. And then, she’s not. Just a bit damp. She blinks, then moves over to the Cyberman shell that houses Bill Potts.
She’s not sure exactly what’s going on, but she’s never really cared about Bill anyway, except that the young girl is the Doctor’s companion, and he cares about her, which makes her at least marginally important. But then she realizes the girl is going all liquid again, and then there seems to be more water, somehow, and then…
Well now, that would be interesting if she weren’t more concerned with her fallen friend. Because now Bill Potts is standing outside her empty Cybersuit, back to being Bill Potts. Whole and unharmed and healthy. She’s never seen something that could reverse a Cyberman conversion.
Bill blinks at the girl, and it looks like they know each other, because the first words she says aren’t a variation of ‘who are you’. “Heather. How’d you find me?”
The water-girl, Heather, she supposes the Doctor would want her to remember the name, never mind that she doesn’t really care, smiles softly and taps Bill’s cheek. “I gave you my tears.”
Oh. That makes a sort of sense.
Bill looks back, just in time to see her empty shell fall over with a clank. “Am I dead?”
“No. Just another way of living.” Water-girl, Heather, smiles again. “Thought you might come with me now.”
Bill looks back at the Doctor. “We can’t just leave him here.” The girl sounds as near tears as she herself feels.
The two girls move toward the Doctor’s fallen body, and she moves forward before she can stop herself. “Wait.”
They look at her, Bill with suspicion, and the other with curiosity. “Take me with you. With him.”
“Why? You left him.” There’s more than a bit of hostility in the question, but she supposes that’s earned. And honestly, she might be reforming, or trying to, but she’s a long way from caring what Bill Potts might think of her. “Left him for yourself, it seemed like.”
“He asked you to stay. I heard him. Practically begged you. And you left him.”
“I know. I had to.” She sighs, and resigns herself to explaining. “Doctor’s explained the theory of fixed points in time to you, yes? I mean, you did say you were friends.” And she still thinks that’s absurd, because how can they be friends when Bill could never understand who and what the Doctor really is? But now’s not the time to bring that up.
“What’s that to do with it?”
“Everything. The final confrontation between myself and my past self was a fixed point. Paradox memory is a funny thing, darling, but it’s true. Not following through might have unraveled all of reality. But, be that as it may, and you can believe me or not, I always intended to come back. Back to him.” She looks down at the broken body of the only person she ever truly felt anything for, in all her long life. “Even if it’s only now, in his final resting place, I should like to stand beside him. And really, what harm does it do?” She looks up to meet Bill’s gaze. “Take us back to the quantum vault if you like, if it makes you feel better. I’ll go back in. With him.”
Bill thinks about it for a while. Long enough that she considers just shooting the girl and taking the Doctor’s body. She restrains herself. He wouldn’t like it, and who knows how Bill’s new friend would react?
“Fine. We’ll go back to the TARDIS. I guess...I mean, after Heather came for me...be good to have someone to watch over him.”
From which broken speech she gathers that Bill intends to leave the Doctor as soon as she’s returned him to the TARDIS. Leave him behind like a broken toy while she goes on with a new friend to explore the universe. Or wherever it is that girls made of water explore.
On one hand, she can appreciate the sense in it. She’s done things like that thousands of times. And what point is there in Bill letting sentiment for her old teacher hold her back? On the other hand, it’s taken her 2000 years and more trouble than she wants to admit to learn to value him. Even more for him to forgive her and accept that she might have changed. That Bill, who won his regard so easily, is willing to simply leave him...she’ll be there for him. She will stay beside the Doctor and find a place for him to rest in the stars, and she’ll do that instead of trying to vaporize Bill’s new liquid form and her new liquid friend.
They hijack a lift, the absolute last lift, one that she thinks was probably an old supply lift, and they go up. It takes a long time, and no time at all. The wonders of temporal relativistic manipulation via black hole. She’d quite like to study it, if she didn’t have other things to be getting on with.
The TARDIS is still where they left it. It looks faded somehow, as if it knows the Doctor has fallen. But of course it does. The TARDIS does have a telepathic interface with it’s chosen Time Lord.
She’s expecting to have to take the controls and hope the TARDIS doesn’t refuse her, but the strange girl, Heather, steps up. Bill looks at her. “You know how to fly this?”
“Of course. I’m the pilot.” Heather grins.
What a nonsensical phrase that is. But there’s no denying that the TARDIS responds to her. The low groaning hum of the engine kicks in and then they’re off, tumbling through the vortex. Not bad. She could almost get to like this girl with a star in her eye.
They stop overlooking a star nursery. Beautiful view, even for her. Creation and destruction all in one. She can see the appeal, and it is the sort of place that he would like as well. It would appeal to his sense of wonder and aesthetics.
Heather stops and stabilizes the TARDIS, then offers Bill a smile. “Come on. I’ll show you around.”
“Yeah. Sure. Just a mo...” Bill nods, then crouches beside the Doctor. “So...guess this is goodbye. Thanks...for everything. It was great.” She’s getting all watery eyed, which seems ridiculous when she’s also getting ready to leave. Doesn’t seem much like grief, but then, what does she know? She barely understands grief, only experienced tears recently, for the first time in centuries.
Bill smiles down at his battered and peaceful face, then swipes a finger across her lower eyelid. “Do you remember what you told me, Doctor? You said that, where there’s tears, there’s hope.” She touches his forehead gently, leaving the droplet like some bizarre human sort of benediction.
Then she stands and goes to the door. “One thing, yeah.” Bill takes Heather’s hand and offers her a smile with a hint of challenge. “I’ve been through a lot since we last met. So...I’ll show you around.”
Heather doesn’t seem to mind, and the girls vanish into the void, leaving her alone. Alone with the body of the Doctor.
Without an audience, she feels free to sink down next to him. She still hurts from her near-death, but her hearts ache more.
Bill’s tear still sparkles on his face. She doesn’t bother to wipe it away. What would be the point? She’s not sure she believes all this ‘tears are hope’ rationale, but...he would. He would understand it and cherish it.
She remembers weeping for her victims, for the crimes she committed, crimes that at the time only seemed like fun and thrills. An antidote to boredom, founded in destruction and chaos. And she remembers his gentle encouragement.
‘It hurts...I didn’t even realize I knew their names...’
‘I know. But Missy...this is good.’
She hated him for saying that, at the time. But now, here in the silence of the TARDIS, alone without witnesses, it means that she can sit beside him and allow her own tears to surface. She can cry for him, for all they had, all they could have had if one of them had been less stubborn, and all that has been lost with his fall. The missed opportunities, the things she wanted to share with him. Wanted him to share with her.
She doesn’t stop her tears, but she does jump back a little, defensive and startled, when his face begins to glow.
Regeneration. But he released the energy without regenerating in the explosion. She saw it. She knows what he’s done. It shouldn’t be possible.
The light shimmers from where Bill cried for him, and then it all makes sense. Water. Water-girl. Water as a vital liquid. Whatever gave Bill and Heather their ability to translate between solid and liquid and still retain intelligence, some small part of it must have been in the tear she transferred to him. Not much, but enough to restart the regeneration.
He comes awake with a gasp that sounds almost like a scream, convulsing off the floor of the TARDIS. Stares at his glowing hands, at the energy beginning to build. “No. No!”
He slams his hand down on the TARDIS console, sending them hurtling to a new destination, and doubles over on himself, apparently oblivious to her presence. That would, quite frankly, be insulting, except that he is in the midst of regenerating and focus is always a bit off during times like these.
The TARDIS thumps down, and he staggers to the door and through it. She follows.
Snow. How cold.
The Doctor slams to his knees in the snow with a howl, then shoves both hands into a nearby snow-drift, nearly to the elbow. “No.”
Ah. Now she sees. He’s fighting the regeneration. Cooling off the energy to stop the transformation. Not the way she’d have done it, but then, she wouldn’t be fighting a regeneration. Not in his condition. As much damage as that body has taken, he needs a new one. He’s needed one for weeks, ever since he got zapped by a Cyberman on the lowest level of the ship and damaged his hearts.
She moves toward where the Doctor is curled up on his knees, breathing harshly. He looks absolutely frightful, and she’s more than tempted to stun him and let nature take it’s course while he’s out of it. But he would never forgive her for that, and she’s worked too long for his forgiveness to jeopardize it now with a stunt like that.
So she moves forward, hands carefully weaponless. “What are you doing?” She puts as much skepticism as she can into her tone.
His head jerks up, snow turning his wild silver hair even lighter. “Missy...” He blinks. “You...”
“Left. I know. Had to deal with a fixed point in time.” She crouches in front of him, not kneeling because that’s far too awkward in a skirt, really. “But I came back.”
“Why?” His breathing is evening out, indications that this wave of regeneration force is passing. The energy will return, they both know it.
“To stand with the Doctor. With you.” She looks over his battered body. “That being said, I have to wonder why you’re resorting to...this.” She waves at the snow. “Regeneration would heal those wounds you got, not to mention the damage to your hearts.”
“I...I don’t...” He shakes his head.
“Don’t what?” She reaches out and tips his chin up, forcing him to meet her eyes. “Don’t what, Doctor?”
“Never mind. Doesn’t matter.” He shoves himself to his feet, awkward in his pain and his damaged frame. “I don’t wish to regenerate. I have that choice, you know. We all do. I choose to let go.”
“And why is that?” She follows him up. “Why give up now?”
“It doesn’t matter. Why should it? It’s my choice, to live or die or regenerate on my own terms.”
“Oh, but it does matter.” She follows him, spins him round with a well placed hand on one thin shoulder. “It matters a great deal. I have worked a very long time, trying to become the person you wished me to be. To change, to be good. To find your so-called virtue. I almost killed myself, trying to do the right thing by your standards. Without witness, without hope, without reward. And now that we’ve both survived, if you’re going to leave me alone to meddle through this, to wander the universe, then I want an explanation. And I rather think I’ve earned that at least, don’t you think? As your friend, if nothing else.” She meets his dulled blue eyes with her own stare.
For a moment, he looks like he’ll argue with her, and she welcomes it. Anything, even a fight, to put a spark back in his eyes. Then he seems to crumple inward on himself, looking old and weary, even though he shouldn’t. His face goes still, and all of eternity seems to be showing in his eyes.
He sinks to sit beside the TARDIS, eyes closed. “I’m so tired.”
She sinks down to sit next to him. It's cold and wet, but she's sat in worse. “Regeneration will take care of that.”
“No, you don’t understand. I’m tired. Tired of running around, tired of saving the universe, then having to save it again and again and again. Tired of losing people, leaving them behind or being left behind myself. Tired of this...this ache...” He thumps his own chest, anguish in his face.
And now she really does want to find Bill and vaporize her. For this, for the pain in his eyes. Oh, it certainly isn’t all the little Earth girl’s fault. She knows he’s had other companions, and there’s the loss of that pudding ball, Nardole, too. But Bill...if Bill had stayed around, he might have had more hope.
Except that he defines virtue as the actions one takes without hope. And she thinks he must have lost hope some time ago. With his little Clara, or his wife, River Song. Or maybe even before that. She wouldn’t have thought it, not of him.
It’s like the War all over again, she thinks. This weariness, this exhaustion that goes deeper than the physical. This is what he was like in the days before he used The Moment. Before he carved ‘NO MORE’ into the stone of two worlds.
And maybe that’s the point. He can’t endure any more. Pity she’s not still evil. If ever there was a time to recruit him, it would be now. Except that she’s tried that before, during the Time War, and it didn’t work out right for her then. Probably wouldn’t now. He’d just think she was backsliding and lock her up before going off and dying some lonely and ‘heroic’ death.
Idiot. She’s not sure which is more annoying, his apparent martyr tendency or her newfound and hard-won practice of thinking before she acts. Of actually caring about the consequences of actions.
Her past self was right. Developing empathy is a highly annoying trait. And it doesn’t help with deciding what tactic would be best for dealing with him. She never was good at soothing despair. Better at causing it.
“It’s not so bad.” Standard platitude, ought to count for something, right?
“I failed Bill. I’ve failed everyone I ever tried to save. Everyone that matters.”
“Now that’s not true. Just because it didn’t turn out all sunshine and rainbows like you wanted doesn’t mean you failed. Bill for example. Did you know she had a girlfriend? Pretty little slip of a thing, made of water and with a star in her eye. She came and got Bill right after you fell. Fixed her up and everything. Last I saw, the two of them were heading out to explore the universe. Grand adventures and all that. Seemed happy enough. And before you say anything, I know Nardole made it to safety, and he looked like he was getting on quite well with that farm lass he met. I’m sure they’ll do splendidly together.”
“Clara and River.”
“Well now, I can’t speak to them.” She hopes this isn’t going to be one of those moments she’s heard about, where he moans over every person he’s ever lost and weeps and blames himself. She really doesn’t have the patience for that. But she’ll still try, for the moment. “But it seems to me, your girl Clara, and your wife, well, they weren’t the type to let anyone else direct their lives for them. So if something went wrong, I should think it would be as much their fault as anyone else's. I mean, really, you do have a thing for strong-minded girls darling. It’s not your fault that it doesn’t always work out.”
He looks like he’s about to dredge up another memory, another lost companion or friend, and she decides she’s had quite enough. She shifts her skirt, then gets to her knees, facing him, and puts a firm hand on his opposite cheek to turn his head. “Listen. You have not failed everyone. If nothing else, you’ve foiled practically every scheme I’ve ever had, and that’s not a failure. And...” She lets her expression soften. “You haven’t failed me, not yet. And you won’t, unless you decide to die and leave me here alone. After all, how am I supposed to work out all...this...” She waves a vague hand, trying to encompass the concepts of redemption and remorse and change with a gesture. “Without you? Besides, I thought you said we could be friends again. And it’s not going to work out if you up and die, now is it?”
“Missy...” he shivers under her touch, but she can’t tell if it’s the cold or her words. Pity, she’d like to know.
“I can’t promise not to go evil again if you leave me on my own, you know that.” And yes, that’s a bit of emotional blackmail, but she is not and never has been above that. “And you know, I might have lied to you about Gallifrey’s location that once, but I didn’t lie that it exists. You’re a hero there, you could always...”
“No!” he shakes his head, pulling loose from her grip with his vehemence. “I’m not...not returning to Gallifrey. Not now. Not for a long time. If ever.”
Oh, there’s a story behind that , she’s sure. And she’d like to hear it. Sometime. Not right now. If it’s that upsetting it will probably only reinforce this whole dark mood of his. Maybe he’ll tell her after he regenerates. If she can convince the stubborn fool to regenerate.
“All right. Not Gallifrey then. But there’s a whole universe out there waiting for you.”
“Only for me to save it.”
“Just until you can find someone to take your place. At least sometimes.” She doesn’t like what she’s about to do, she really doesn’t, but if it will make him live… “How about a little deal, you and I? You regenerate, and I’ll...I’ll try to learn enough to be your successor, and then you can retire from saving the universe, go...oh, read your way through a library, sit on a beach staring at the waves, watch a galaxy turn...whatever suits you.”
She sees another reaction to the word 'library' wonders about the story there, then puts it out of her mind for other matters. In truth, she doesn’t think she’ll ever be the kind of person who can be a hero. Certainly not a hero of the type he is. And yes, she knows he’d deny being a hero, but who cares. He’s always been a hero, she’s always been a villain, and even though she might be trying to turn her coat she knows he never will. The War was enough to prove that.
Still, he’s always enjoyed a challenge. And he seemed to thrive, trying to rehabilitate her. Perhaps it’s enough.
“Well? How about it?” He doesn’t look convinced. “Come on, one more regeneration. You and me. One more time. And if it hasn’t worked out after that, we’ll take new terms then.” She offers him her best smile, knowing he’ll see through the pretense, but hoping he’ll accept it.
For a long, horrible moment, she thinks he might refuse. And she can almost understand why. He looks worn down. Older than even his true age. Broken, in some ways. It occurs to her that this regeneration of his has endured some terrible things. What, she doesn’t know. When and how are mysteries. But in his open expression, she can see the marks of pain that have been carved deep into him. Almost to his essence. It’s destroying him, probably has been for a long time, for all that he’s managed to hide it most of the time.
She doesn’t mean to speak as gently as she does. “Please. Let me try? I really can’t do it without you. Not sure the universe can either, you know.”
He’s silent for a while. Then he heaves out a breath. “Fine. One more regeneration. One more round. I suppose it won’t kill anyone.” He looks down at his hands, bloody and worn and bruised. “Well, except me.”
“It’s just a new face.” She grins at him, then stands. “Come on.”
She lifts him, guides him back into the TARDIS. Just in time too, as the golden regeneration energy begins to flare under his skin once more. “Don’t fight it. It’s going to be rough as it is.”
“No.” He gasps, clutching the console, and she moves to support him. That’s what she’s supposed to do for a friend, isn’t it. “No...I just, I want...I want to do this right.”
“And how’s that?”
“I...I need to leave a message. For whoever is coming next.”
She never did, but then again, she’s not him. And if that makes him feel better about this process… “All right. Will you give it to me?”
“Yes, but I want to record it too.” He taps a few buttons, gasping as the regeneration energy cycles and burns through him.
“So...lets do this right. Before you arrive...” He closes his eyes, head tilting back, going into his own thoughts and leaving her behind. That’s all right. It’s typical for a regeneration. She steps back and lets him go, getting out of the immediate blast zone. “Never be cruel. Always be kind. Never eat pears.” And she’d love to know what that was about. “Never tell anyone your name. They wouldn’t understand it anyway. Except for children. Children can hear your name, if their hearts are in the right place, and the stars are too. But no one else.” Well, she knows why his name is a secret, she’s heard the rumors and all, but still...children?
He doubles over in pain, the golden glow intensifying. “Run fast. Laugh hard. Be kind.”
Good advice for her and whoever he’s about to become she supposes. She’ll have a bit of trouble with that third one, but oh well. That is why she prodded him into doing this, now isn’t it?
He straightens, hands extending out from his sides, head tilting back once more, eyes closed as the regeneration energy surges through his veins. “Doctor, I let you go.”
The regeneration takes hold, explodes from inside him like a star being born. And several things happen.
The TARDIS shudders under the blast. That much regeneration energy, held back for so long, well of course it’s a bit potent. This is the same force that leveled a forest and an army of Cybermen. Various panels explode, and she has to wonder how much damage this is doing.
She really ought to have let him do this outside, before they jumped back into the vortex, but she didn’t think of it. Oh blast.
The regeneration cycles through, the external energy fades and draws back to show the Doctor’s new face. And...now this is interesting .
It’s been a long time since she’s seen him in a female form. They all learn how to change genders in the Time Lord Academy, of course, but they still have preferred genders, and his has generally been masculine. But this…
Wide eyes stare at her from a heart-shaped face surrounded by shoulder-length blond hair. The new Doctor is shorter than the previous, slender but with some curves, though not enough to make her masculine clothing uncomfortable.
The new Doctor bolts over to a console to look at her reflection. “Oh, brilliant!” She does seem genuinely delighted by her new face.
Then the Doctor sees her properly for the first time. “Hang on, who are you? What are you...” She blinks and thumps herself on the forehead. “No, I think I know you, I have to if you’re here, it’s just...I can’t quite grasp it...oh, now that’s frustrating that is...”
This is all very amusing. And all very normal for post-regeneration. Memories take a while to settle into a new head, which is why she’s not at all offended.
It’s the perfect time to start off with a clean slate. Yes, the Doctor will remember her eventually, but not before she remembers their deal and all the rest too. How they interact now could very well set the tone for the rest of this regeneration.
So she steps forward. “I’m Missy. I’m an old friend.”
“Are you?” The Doctor blinks at her, and it’s still not offensive. Typical regeneration, it’s hard to remember one’s own name right after.
“Yes I am. I’ve come to stand with you. To help you. Don’t worry, you’ll remember it all later dear.” She wants to say more, but just then the TARDIS gives a massive shudder and shake, and everything goes haywire.
Of course. Pilot in flux equals TARDIS in flux, and that blast did some damage after all. She grabs for the rail with one hand and the Doctor with the other, and they both try to hold on.
It’s certainly an exciting start. If this is what the rest of her adventures with the new Doctor are going to be like, she might even enjoy being good at her side. To say nothing of the fact that they can now share ‘girl time’. She’s always wondered what that would be like. It’s been ages since the Academy, after all. And they were both boys then.
Oh yes. Standing beside this new Doctor is definitely going to be...entertaining.