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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17. Can't Stay Mad Forever

Seventeen: Can’t Stay Mad Forever

Meeting Louie again- hearing what happened to her after she met us- had helped considerably. And Jack Harkness… whoever he was, would be- whatever- had given me hope that things wouldn’t stay so distant forever. His assurance that this wouldn’t be the first, nor the worst, thing the Doctor and I fought about only strengthened my resolve to apologise and get things back on track. The hints of the future I could have, the adventures and the friends I’d make- Jack himself, apparently- made me suddenly long for the TARDIS. I had kept the letter- the last correspondence between the two of us- close, the instructions clear and the message more so.

Don’t tell the Doctor about me, not yet. Messing with timelines is dangerous, and when he comes back for you it will be a while before we meet again. If you find yourself unable to avoid mentioning me, don’t use specifics- just tell him I’m a friend from the future, and he’ll understand you can’t say anymore. I’m sorry to put this on you after meeting you for the first time… but, well… you get used to this kind of thing when you’re around the Doctor for long enough. Whatever you do, don’t mention Torchwood, either, will you? You know what, let’s just make ourselves a golden rule; no details. Deal?

I can’t say much more than this, only that I’m looking forward to meeting you again. It will happen, no matter how bad you think things are, just know that the Doctor will always remember you. Until the next-

Jack.

I’d read these words a thousand times in the last week, over and over again, and each time I opened the light green envelope it felt like a fresh rush of hope. If I didn’t know better, I’d say that the letter was like my nicotine, and it was never more than a few hours between readings. The letter, and the handkerchief- I’d kept it, promising myself to give it to Jack when I met him again, so he could give it to me- gave me hope for the future.

But the postscript made me laugh, and wonder, the most.

P.S. When you ask me to dance- and please do- think Tina Turner. Jitterbug, baby.

It didn’t surprise me, somehow, that Jack knew my favourite song was River Deep, Mountain High. Or that he knew I knew the jitterbug. My mother had been absolutely mad about the 1950-60 era, the songs and the dances and, though she never said it, the whole flower power thing, and had played Tina Turner to death when I was growing up. Beyond that, it was simply a good song. I remembered the dance classes when I was eight; Mum had adored the skirt-shirt-and-necktie look, a rather obscure fashion choice but it had always suited her.

A small voice in the back of my mind drew my attention to the watch and I forced it away. I refused to entertain the notion that my mother wasn’t human- I knew her as human, and I intended to remember her the way she had been, the last time I saw her. The idea that she was a total stranger didn’t sit well in my stomach, so I kept myself busy to keep myself distracted. I forced my tumultuous stomach to keep some food down. I swept the kitchen floor… again. I polished the windows from the inside and out. I dusted the T.V. I scrubbed the bathroom tiles.

Again.

Most days went by like this; at first, I found any little excuse to stay out of the flat, then finding any excuse to stay in. I reorganised my meagre collection of DVD’s. Twice. I read fourteen books in three days. I don’t remember sleeping much, but it didn’t seem to affect me too much. I spent hours just watching the watch, waiting for it to do something to justify everything I’d learned.

It must have been late at night when I heard the TARDIS returning. Though it had been exactly a week since I last heard that wonderful sound, I remembered it instantly. I didn’t rush straight out the door though some part- well, most parts- of me wanted to. Instead, I peeked through the curtains like a snooping neighbour and watched the blue box appear beneath a streetlight on the other side of the street. The Doctor didn’t emerge, so I let the curtain fall back in place and forced myself to stay inside.

I wondered what he’d say if I went over there. If I were the one to make the first move to heal the wound. I was sorry for shouting at him, I really was, and I was especially sorry that we’d ended up fighting to the extent that we had. More than anything, I was sorry for the way I’d handled things. Oh, I was still mad that he’d taken the watch, and that he’d stayed away for so long. But how long could I stay mad?

But- and that was a pretty big but- the term ‘forgive and forget’ only worked in theory. I understood why the Doctor took the watch, and I forgave his intentions… but his actions were a whole other story. No matter what Jack Harkness or Louise Owens said.

Stubbornly and determinedly, I kicked off my shoes and grabbed a book, and another cup of tea, stubbornly determined to not go over there. I may have been sorry, and I may have missed him terribly, but I was not the only one in the wrong.

It was when I realised that I’d read the same sentence seven times that I gave up putting it off. Tossing the book aside, I peeked out the window again and found the TARDIS still sitting under the streetlamp. Snow had begun to fall and I watched the flakes flutter down for a moment or two, gathering my nerve and steeling my spine. It was now or never. I wasn’t sure how long he’d wait for me to change my mind, and I didn’t want to risk losing him forever.

Grabbing my keys, I locked the flat behind me- security reasons only, I planned to return for the rest of the night out of principle if nothing else- and hurried across the road. I should have grabbed a coat; it was freezing outside. I should have grabbed shoes too, I realised, as my feet began to go numb. But it was too late; I was too lazy, frankly, to go back and get them, as I stood outside the TARDIS and prayed the alien within would still be lurking around the console room.

I knocked. Firm and friendly, I think. It was a good knock regardless. I jigged from foot to foot, freezing my toes off and counting to ten. If he hadn’t answered by then, I’d go back inside. When I reached nine, the TARDIS doors swung open and a stone-faced, leather-jacket-wearing man leaned against the frame.

“I’m sorry,” I said, first to break the silence.

His expression barely changed as he looked at me impassively. “Me too.” No emotion in his tone, either. I began to feel a little nervous, that maybe I’d damaged our fledgling friendship beyond repair.

“I shouldn’t have overreacted,” I added, just to be safe.

He shrugged, only his shoulders moving. My heart began to sink. “I shouldn’t have pried. You were justified, I was curious.” He was defending me. Oh, the stupid alien was defending me, as if he were completely in the wrong and I were a saint. I’d made my mistakes too, been a little too dramatic. He had no right to shoulder all the guilt. I shrugged this time, feeling the need to lift the dark mood. The tension was killing me.

“Nosy, more like,” I smiled to show the joke, and was rewarded by a twitching lip. Either a grimace or a smile, but I’d take what I could get. “I told you the watch was Mum’s,” I continued, folding my arms across my chest and giving him a bit of a hard stare. I couldn’t stay mad forever.

“Sorry,” he was smiling now, a little sheepish. The tension had definitely lifted and I allowed myself to relax enough to shake my head and sigh at him, exasperated and playing it up to an over the top level.

“What for now?” I grumbled.

He was grinning at me now. Good. No more sulky Time Lord, which means we could start putting this fight behind us. I didn’t like owing people and I especially didn’t like fighting with the people I owed. “Not listening,” he replied, as I just shrugged again. Like this was nothing for either of us, as if we fought and made up every day. I had a feeling that with his nosy, devil-may-care attitude against my private, stay-out-my-room one, we’d be fighting a few more times. Jack Harkness’ reaction to this fight was clue enough.

“S’alright.”

There was a pause. I had no clue what to say and it was obvious that he didn’t either. I imagine he didn’t often have to come back and face this stage of an argument before- I had an idea that he’d just take off and leave things unfinished, leave the other person hanging for the rest of their lives. I was suddenly so, so grateful to the watch for being mine so I had the chance to tell him I was sorry.

A slight breeze picked up from the south and I shivered as the snow was whipped up and touched my skin. The Doctor straightened up as if he just noticed how little I was actually wearing against the weather, and that I was still standing out in the weather.

“You’re cold,” he stated, eyes wide and shaking his head at me.

“Observant, Martian,” I bit back dryly, smiling as he gave me a pained frown.

“I’m not from- never mind. You coming in?” He kicked the door open and moved aside, a clear invitation if I’d ever heard one. I stepped out of the snow, grateful for that at least. The wind was off my skin and being in the warmth of the TARDIS only made me feel colder. I really, really wished I’d worn shoes.

“Thanks,” I whispered, shivering worse. It was that strange sensation one has of being in cold weather and slowly adjusting, then going somewhere warm and realising just how cold one actually was. Yeah. That was me, slowly thawing out in the TARDIS console room. “I- I’ve got a few questions,” I changed the topic, feeling quite self-satisfied and in charge. The Doctor didn’t seem to mind me doing so, and I figured this was his way of telling me he was truly sorry for poking around the watch.

“I’ll bet. Me too,” he replied, leaning against the banister as I scuffed my bare feet against the metal grating. I watched his gaze begin to travel down and, desperate to stall him from seeing how much I’d worked myself up fussing over whether I should come over or not, I walked up to the console itself and headed for the jump-seat.

“Right, let’s get started shall we?” I called, my voice taking on a bit of an in-command edge. The Doctor caught my elbow before I could sit down and gently tugged me towards the corridors.

“Library. It’s warmer... where are your shoes?” he asked, voice sharp. He sounded like a concerned parent and if that wasn’t enough to get my goat up, the fact that I’d forgotten my shoes in the first place made me irritated with myself. Unfortunately, it was the usual thing that if I was irritated with myself, I would take it out on whoever was unlucky enough to be closest. Seeing as my closest potential victim happened to be the Doctor and I didn’t feel like fighting with him and being booted out into the snow again, I let it go.

I looked down at my bare- and red with cold- feet, feigning surprise. I don’t know whether he fell for my act or not, but I played it out nonetheless. “Forgot,” I replied simply, with a shrug to indicate it didn’t matter. Who needed feet anyway? It wasn’t like I may have to run for my life in the future.

The Doctor gave me an incredulous look, shaking his head. “You forgot shoes?” he mocked, which only made me scowl and hurry up, which had next to no effect seeing as he could walk so much faster than I could without even trying. “But it’s snowing out there! Kia!” he reprimanded me, walking alongside me now and easily matching my longest strides, barely even extending his. I felt like a child trying to outrun a parent, and I hated that feeling.

“Shut it. You said library?” I asked, again keeping the conversation going where I wanted it to go. The Doctor nodded and lead the way.

The library took my breath away. It had when I’d come here before, but then I’d been much too preoccupied with being a rotten brat to notice how amazing it truly was. The lighting was wrought-iron candle holders and a huge chandelier hanging from the roof. The swimming pool that took up a majority of the first level was perfectly still and reflected the lighting back at us, making the room shimmer through a fog of golden light and sweet-smelling smoke. Comfortable recliner chairs were dotted around the walls, a pair of floating mats drifted on the water, and the shelves stretched up a good thirty metres, every inch crammed with books of all shapes and sizes. Forgetting everything else for the moment, I gravitated as if magnetised to the nearest shelf and ran my fingertips over the colourful spines, my eyes wide and my heart already falling in love with this room.

The Doctor hadn’t followed me in but he barely crossed my mind. The books were all the distraction I needed; the TARDIS could explode around me and I’d hardly notice. I even began to feel less cold, probably because the room was lit with fire which therefore rose the temperature. I circled the Olympic-sized pool slowly and had barely made it along one length before the Doctor returned with a blanket and a pair of socks, both of which he shoved at me and wordlessly crossed to a pair of armchairs tucked away in a nook between two shelves. I followed, curling into one with the socks on my feet and the blanket tucked around me snugly.

“Thanks,” I said, still breathlessly admiring the library. I’d never seen a room full of more beauty and temptation; this was my idea of heaven. I could quite easily make this my home, if truth be known. The Doctor said nothing, apparently content to let me stare and blink and admire the stunning setting. He’d suggested it, probably because he guessed this would distract me from shouting at him. Although, this was technically where the real trouble had started. “One thing I don’t understand,” I murmured, not looking at the alien sitting across from me. “Is how this watch can contain a pers- a Time Lord?”

His deep intake of breath had me settling down for a long story. 

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