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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5. Domino Effect

Five: Domino Effect

“It’s not the big shiny one on the pedestal, is it?” I asked, pointing behind him to a large, curved desk- the only one with a spotlight on, and the largest Cyberman I’d seen yet sitting in the desk chair. The metal man wasn’t moving and he hadn’t fallen over, so I assumed he was just a shell… but the last ‘shells’ we’d encountered woke up and followed us to the roof…

 “That’s it, Kia,” the Doctor breathed, bouncing up to the computer and turning it around. He kept one eye on the Cyberman as he worked, and I turned to explore the rest of the room, not sure what I could possibly find but certain anything was better than just standing around waiting. My body was on fire, aching with the efforts of the last few hours, and my brain was foggy with the want of sleep, but I was far too buzzed with adrenaline to stop and nap.

As I wandered around the perimeter of the room, I noticed something interesting- security cameras, trained on every portion of the building. They still worked, and each of the twenty screens I could see showed Cybermen marching. I had no doubt whatsoever that they were marching our way, ready to delete us for trying to sabotage their plans. Dear Lord, there’s a lot of Cybers on those screens… “Doctor, the army’s coming,” I called, a tiny waver in my voice the only thing that betrayed how afraid I really was. It had seemed like a good idea at first, saving the world, but now as I faced the possibility of death for sure I wasn’t so certain that this is how I wanted to die.

“I know,” he said, sounding much closer than I’d’ve thought. I looked up and found him a step or two away, his arms held limply by his side with defeat. “The codes need to be transmitted from the roof,” he said heavily, and I fell into the seat conveniently placed behind me, my hand flying to cover my mouth as tears sprang to my eyes. The first greatest adventure I ever had… would end up getting me killed. Why had I ever agreed to this mad plan again? Going directly into the Cyberman’s nest? I turned to watch the screens again, hearing the clank-hiss-clank-hiss of Cybermen footsteps outside the door, and then they knocked. The walls rattled and I closed my eyes, breathing raggedly as the Doctor placed a hand on my shoulder. “I’m sorry,” he murmured helplessly.

The sound of his defeat and despair sparked something in my brain, a long-suppressed stubbornness that I worked very hard normally to keep away. It reared its head like a giant beast ready to strike, talons embedding themselves in my heart and pulling me to my feet. “This building has a fire escape,” I said, my eyes fluttering closed as I pictured the outside of the building, the fleeting look I’d had as we arrived. “It goes to the roof, and if I’m right, there’s an entry from…” I walked with my eyes closed, my brain somehow navigating my body through the mass of cables and tables forming the control centre. My hands moved of their own accord and opened a window, the cool wind flowing in forcing my eyes to snap open.

Outside the window, a metal landing sat innocently, and as I looked up and down, would lead us from the fourth floor to the sixth- and if we were lucky, to the ground once this was done. “Kia, you little genius,” the Doctor breathed, grabbing my shoulders and yanking me against him in a hug. I blushed with pride and lead the way out onto the landing, sticking close to the building to avoid being spotted from the ground. The Doctor crawled out beside me and shot me a grin, bright in the darkness and the slight illumination from the streetlamps below.

I grinned right back and reached to tug the window down to avoid detection- just as the door and the chair on the other side of the room burst open with Cybermen pouring in. I snapped the window shut and nodded to the stairs. “They’re in!” I cried, panicking slightly as my confidence fluctuated and I nearly descended into a full-on attack. The Doctor eyed me curiously, almost as if he could see the battle my brain was creating- between fear and knowing what to do without actually thinking about it.

Abandoning stealth for speed, we thundered up the fire escape with the Doctor bursting onto the roof four steps before me. I paused to glance back the way we’d come and tripping on the final step, sliding back down to the landing on the fifth floor. The fourth floor landing supported three Cybermen now, standing in a triangle formation and glowing in the minimal light. The lead Cyber reached out to touch the metal railing of the fire escape and I remembered watching them delete before- their hands could electrify and I was right in the firing line.

“KIA!” The Doctor shouted, panicked and afraid for me. He leapt down to the landing beside me as I scrambled for my feet, aware of the metallic voice behind me crying out.

Delete! Delete!”

We ran, always running, and I heard the zing of electricity flowing up the metal to catch us before we reached the top. Time slowed and I was hyper-aware of everything around me, from the trembling of the metal groaning under the weight of another Cyberman to the electricity whooshing ever closer to the pressure and warmth of the Doctor’s hands on my waist to the thudding of my own heart and the harsh rasping of my breath. I barely felt the moment my feet left the staircase, propelled into the air by the Doctor, who held me away from the electricity while the charge struck him full on.

He grunted in pain but remained standing, holding me aloft and safe. I felt his grip on me tighten to almost a painful point, and I heard the scream of metal giving way as a fifth Cyberman attempted to occupy the landing below. The staircase snapped away and the Cybers tumbled down soundlessly, landing in a crashing pile five floors down. The Doctor fell too, then, our landing luckily still mostly intact. However, it was tilting dangerously and as I glanced up, I noticed the top of the metal was coming undone. We were going to fall…

“Doctor!” I cried, grabbing his hand as he slipped towards the edge. I wasn’t strong enough to lift or move him, but I could keep him from going over. Desperately, I wedged my foot against a tiny ledge on the end of the torn landing and felt for the Doctor’s pulse; nothing. “No, no, no, no!” I muttered, tears springing to my eyes as I started CPR. What it would achieve I had no idea, since the most medical training I’d had was applying plasters to paper cuts. “Come on, come on! Wake up!”

Pushing him up, I managed to get some leverage on his shoulders and half drag him onto the more steady stairs, sure I was hurting him but more concerned with getting us both safely onto the roof. Just as we made it to the top landing, me having exhausted my knowledge of expletives, I heard the sharp poing of the screws becoming loose; the staircase shrieked as the metal tore and I sobbed blindly, casting a petrified glance at the ground, which swam in my watery vision, I choked on a sob at the sight of the Cybermen army waiting to catch us. If the fall didn’t kill me, then they certainly would.

I was exhausted through and through. The last few hours of my life had been swinging between extremes; first, the painful fear of dying, then elation at the possibility of survival, back to fear, back to hope… having it repeatedly crushed was killing my energy and no amount of adrenaline would save me now, not when I was all but giving up. I was ready to fall, I suppose, and I closed my eyes and buried my head in the Doctor’s leather jacket to avoid watching my death set upon me. And it was there I heard the most wonderful sound; a heartbeat.

Slowly, it started up, few and far between. But in the few seconds I listened I heard it go from slow to normal to fast, and then to something amazing; double. Two heartbeats… I shook my head in disbelief, sitting up and all but ignoring the shuddering of the staircase. If the Doctor was alive… “Come on!” I shouted, slapping his cheek a little harder than necessary. I didn’t have the physical strength remaining to haul him over the edge, though as the fire escape dropped a foot or two down and I shrieked, I realised we were level with the sixth floor windows.

In a final surge of energy or bravery, I’m not sure which but I know it was fuelled by pure adrenaline and don’t wanna die here, I kicked at the window and it shattered around my foot, littering the floor inside and my shoe with shards of glass. The Doctor stirred as I continued kicking, frantically and desperately fighting for my life. There was no doubt or grace about my erratic movements, which didn’t cease until I had a gap big and clean enough to jump through, pulling the Doctor after me. Just as his feet cleared the edge, the fire escape collapsed, and I fell back with the Doctor’s weight atop me, gasping and groaning with pain and exhaustion.

I didn’t move for the longest time, and I was almost certain I could and would drift off to sleep for a bit, had the Doctor not chosen that moment to wake up. He launched himself to his feet, patting himself down like he was missing something, whirling about and flapping his arms. Aching, I rolled to my feet and observed the room we were in, letting him have his fit of insanity. As if leading me here wasn’t insane enough to begin with…

“You saved my life,” I heard him say, his voice high with disbelief. “You saved my life! Why did you do that?”

“Because the alternative was clearing you off the road, and I hate cleaning,” I muttered in reply, almost dismissive of my efforts. Honestly, it was no more than he’d done for me- and how had he done that? All that electricity should’ve killed one or both of us, and yet while he’d held me I hadn’t felt a thing. And he was still alive… I was beginning to truly see that there was something not quite right about the Doctor, though I should probably have figured that from the moment he stepped out of his impossible blue box.

“Kia,” his hand caught mine, turning me towards him, and in a brief moment of clarity I could see the storm behind his eyes. A twisting inferno of conflicting emotions; fear and uncertainty, gratitude and wonder, curiosity and determination. “Thank you.” He pulled me in and I went willingly, quietly marvelling at the fact that in all my life, only one other person had managed to get through my defences enough to hug me as often as the Doctor had. And that person was my mother, so I don’t think the comparison is really effective.

I hugged him back, though, liking the way my own head calmed down enough to not pound agonisingly loud inside my pressurized skull. A headache, one of the only constantly recurring themes in my life- headaches. Migraines to be precise, sometimes getting so bad it was all I could do not to lie in the road and wait for a lorry. “You too,” I replied, barely a whisper, and I closed my eyes briefly. Only briefly, because the moment I closed them all I could see was his suffering expression as he saved me from the Cyberman’s electricity.

He pulled back after a moment or two, chucking me under the chin as he headed for the doors, me on his heels. We didn’t speak as we hurried back to the roof, and the Doctor ran to the bottom of the satellite tower and the control case. It was blessedly still working, and he stood staring at it for a moment or two before entering a series of numbers straight from memory. If anything was another clue to his not-normal-ness it was the fact that the sequence stretched into the thirties, far beyond anything any human could memorise in the few minutes he’d had.

His had hovered over the transmit button, and his gaze darkened. “Press this, they die,” he murmured. I knew he wasn’t exactly talking to me but I felt compelled to reply anyhow.

“And the world is saved,” I whispered. He glanced at me darkly and I read the regret on his face as plainly as I felt it in the back of my mind. The Cybermen were, at their core, human, and to kill on that great a scale set my teeth on edge. I could only imagine what it felt like to do it, and the Doctor had clearly done this before; he’d said as much the first time we saw them- the way he spoke told me he was painfully familiar with them… if someone’s creating them, we’ll need the emotional inhibitor codes… they should self-destruct.

“They still die,” he growled, and before I could say anything else he slammed his hand down on the button. Anguished shrieks rose throughout the city and I shuddered listening to them echo; all those creatures, falling down like dominos, right across the world. The Doctor kept his eyes on my face and I knew he was judging my reaction to what he’d done; although I was sickened by the scale of deaths, and a little afraid of how quickly and ruthlessly he’d destroyed them, I was relieved that the danger was over and my world was safe. 

 

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