Changing Me

DOCTOR WHO.

Rating may be at a precautionary high, but better safe than sorry.

"Doesn't it get lonely?" He paused for a moment, fingers ghosting over the controls. "From time to time," he replied evenly, his tone barely changing. My frown cleared as I joined him near the controls, leaning backwards against the cool metal console. He glanced over, blue eyes unreadable. "It always seems so much better through someone else's eyes." Eventual Doctor/OC.

Story is complete, and part of a never-ending series.

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7. Bedtime Story

Seven: Bedtime Story

“She called it what?”

I sat up at the sharpness of his tone, his eyes darting between me and the picture. “Home,” I said quietly, and for the first time I saw the Doctor crumble. He recoiled from the painting and returned to his armchair, his head in his hands. He was distraught, anguished- without knowing why, I moved to perch beside him, my hand settling on his shoulder after a moment of nervous fluttering. I realised that this was the first time I’d initiated contact between the two of us, when we were both conscious at least. “There’s a story behind it,” I murmured, and the Doctor tensed.

“Tell me,” he demanded, voice ragged. Needing the distance, I returned to the couch and kept my eyes on Mum’s colourful painting, calling up the memory of those nights when I’d be sitting up in bed, and she’d perch beside me. Then, as she stroked my forehead and smiled into the distance, her eyes not quite here, she’d start to speak, and I’d be captivated.

The story I knew so well, but I’d never shared it with anyone else... yet now, I wanted to. Something in the set of his shoulders said he needed to hear it, that there were things beyond my understanding at play here. He was fascinated by my necklace, for one thing, when nobody else even realised I was wearing one. The look on his face- stricken, shock, hope- when he’d seen it in the alley replayed in my mind and willed me to speak; closing my eyes, I began.

“Once upon a time, on a planet half a universe away, there lived a little girl. This little girl wasn’t like other little girls, you see, because of many things. The differences couldn’t be seen on her face, but in her heart. Because this little girl didn’t have just one heart, but two. Her mother said it was because she loved so terribly much that one heart could never handle all that love, so she needed two. The little girl wasn’t alone, either, as all her family and her friends and her friends’ families had two hearts, too, so that they could love each other and their home very, very much.

Only they weren’t supposed to. There were some people who lived in the city in the bubble, people who wanted everyone not to love. They wanted the people to fight, and to fight, the people mustn’t love. The people from the city tried everything they could to stop the others from their feelings, to force them not to use their hearts, but the little girl and her family refused. They were clever and they knew that their love is what made them strong.

But the little girl didn’t need to worry about that, as she was still a little girl, and she had all the time in the world. She could dance upon the red grass and throw silver leaves to the burnt orange sky. She could sing to the wind and lie on the hills to feel the planet orbiting around the two suns. She had a happy childhood, full of love and beauty and happiness.

One day, when the little girl was eight years old, she was taken to the city to go to school. She was frightened, because she didn’t know anybody, but she was excited because she would finally be a grown-up. On her first day, she was shown her future, and it frightened her so badly that she ran away. She ran and she ran fast, but she never went too far away, coming back to learn more and more. She was always afraid, though, always watching and waiting for the day when she would have to go.

While she was at school, she learned all sorts of fantastic things. Like how to fly a spaceship and how to speak different languages. She watched her older classmates graduate and fly out into the universe to explore, and she longed to join them. She learned how to feel time and how to understand space, how to see all that is, was, and could be. She learned to tell the difference between something that could change, and something that could not.

She saw so many fantastic things, but while she was at school, she was lonely. She didn’t make many friends, though she did have a few, and so she missed her family. She missed the mountains that she called home, and she wanted to go back. But despite her longing to return, she knew she had to stay at her school and learn all she could, because she knew that soon there would come a day when the school and the city and the mountains themselves would disappear.

She had seen it happening when she was eight years old, and each time she was shown the universe and all the possibilities she could see the end coming nearer and nearer. It frightened her and she wanted to run, and sometimes she did. But they always found her, always brought her back and told her that she had nothing to worry about. But she knew, she could see it, she could feel it.

Even though she worried about the future, she told herself not to dwell on it, and she found herself becoming closer to one of her classmates. Eventually, after they graduated, she married him and they planned to have children together of their own. They moved back to the mountains, to a house near her parents, and they lived there for the longest time.

The little girl was not so little anymore, though she still felt like a child when she thought of her future, which was closer than ever. When she found out she was expecting her baby, she knew the time to run was then. She had to escape her beautiful homeland before it was gone forever, because there was a shadow coming that only disappearing could stop. So, in the dead of night, the little girl who was all grown up snuck away and stole a spaceship, running away into the stars with her baby safe in her tummy.

She knew she needed to find somewhere safe, somewhere she could keep her baby, and so she came to Earth, where her favourite story had come from. She fell in love with the people, and she came to love Earth as much as she loved her own home. Though she would never see her mother or her father or her husband or her friends again, and though she hurt, she ran for so long that eventually she almost forgot them. They became dreams, shadows, and she became a mother... and she lived happily ever after...”

I opened my eyes, smiling. The story wasn’t exactly a totally happy one, and probably not one a normal child would enjoy hearing, but it had inspired me to dream of travelling through the stars like the little girl had. As I grew up, I began to see the similarities between the story and what I assumed of Mum’s life; she was the little girl, and had run away from her home. She’d had a North London accent... I always assumed she went through something horrible and run away to keep me safe. I knew that the ‘other planet’ she spoke of was England, and her imagination had painted it in vivid, fiery colours. A psychiatrist’s field day.

Now that I’d spoken it aloud for the first time, on my own, I realised just how plausible the possibility of it actually being another planet was. But that... that would mean I was a secret alien? Which was ridiculous, as I was born on Earth, had the certificate and everything. But after everything I’d seen with the Cybermen, and the Doctor’s two hearts- still not convinced that was real- this business of aliens seemed all to shockingly real. Could Mum have been... no. No... utterly ridiculous.

“It’s just a story,” I shrugged, thinking nothing of it. A nice story, in parts, a story that meant the world to me- but that’s all it was. A bedtime story to get me to sleep, and to inspire my dreams.

“No, it isn’t.” The Doctor stood by the painting again, his eyes half closed and his cheeks wet. I didn’t say a word as he blinked away his tears, and without a word he left my flat. I heard the front door close sharply with a dejected click, and couldn’t help but think I’d done something wrong. Sighing, I stood to drag myself to bed, figuring I might as well start recuperating from my epic night. Every cell in my body ached for sleep, and just as I’d entered the bedroom with my shirt halfway to being off, I heard it.

A whooshing noise, halfway between metallic screeching and gears grinding. I froze, a smile pulling on my lips; I remembered that sound, though I’d only heard it once before. Yanking my shirt back down, I spun out of the bedroom into the short hallway that ran from the front door through to my bedroom, and felt the breeze that blew from the bathroom door. Sure enough, before my very eyes, the blue box materialised- conveniently blocking my bathroom- and out stepped the Doctor.

“We meet again,” I smiled, surprised at how happy I was with his reappearance. He returned it, still ruffled but seeming so much more in control now that he’d had time away. I wondered how he’d gotten from here to the box so quickly, because even at a full run I knew it took at least fifteen minutes. He’d made it in what, three? If that. Perhaps it travelled in time, too, though it looked pretty small for a time machine.

He ducked back inside and I inched forward to peek, just to have on brief look. No matter how tired I was, my curiosity won out, and my feet propelled me down the hall. One step at a time, half nervous and half eager to just throw caution to the wind and run, but I’d had quite enough of that lately, thank you, and so I inched my way along. I could hear the Doctor- or someone- moving around, things crashing to the floor and clattering together, as the door was still slightly ajar.

As I came within a foot, I could smell it; tea. A cup of hot, wonderful tea, and that alone made me dash the last few paces into the box, searching for the tea like a hound for a fox. It took my addled brain all of three seconds to snap into gear and I froze, staring around at what should have been a very tight squeeze. The Doctor, noticing me for the first time, gave me a smug smile and flung his arms wide.

“Welcome to the TARDIS!”

I blinked, not sure what it was he’d just said- it wasn’t English, that’s for sure, he was just saying things-, and my jaw dropped. “Oh my God,” I whispered.

 

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