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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10. History Comes Alive

Ten: History Comes Alive

Twenty minutes is all I took to run from the kitchen to my room, grab a change of clothes just in case, brush my teeth and hair, and run back to the kitchen, where the Doctor waited for me. With shining eyes, I breathlessly announced that I was ready. By the smirk on his face, I could see he very much doubted it, but went along anyway, coddling me all the way to the TARDIS.

“Where’d the Cybermen go?” I asked quietly as we crossed the street. There hadn’t been many fallen in my neighbourhood, but there were one or two at the end of the road, already cleared away. The Doctor’s eyes darkened as he shrugged.

“Probably cleared away to be dissected.” I didn’t dare ask anything further, figuring it would be a touchy subject for an alien to discuss. My stomach rolled in my gut and I forced it down at the sight of a blue police box standing innocently under an unlit streetlamp, just waiting for us.

Once inside, I felt that same sense of awe and amazement washing over me as it had the last time I’d entered, only this time it was so much better as I was awake enough to enjoy it. The coral-like décor still caught my eye and I gingerly touched the walls, jerking back when the hummed and buzzed against my hand. The Doctor was watching me carefully as I explored every inch of the control room before finally joining him up on the metal grating near the console. I tried to count the buttons, but lost count after fifty-three.

“You’re all on your own in here?” I asked, oblivious to his flinch and cringe as I circled the console, admiring it’s beauty and complexity. I’d always been a bit of a computer-fan, but this definitely took the cake. I wanted to know what everything did, whether it all did something, and how he remembered everything. I caught the Doctor nodding in reply to my question, and felt my brows pinch lightly together in a tiny frown. I ducked under one of the tree-branch columns, eying the leather-bound man in front of me. “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.”

I felt a shudder rising, but pushed it down again; the tone of his voice gave away much more than his expression did. “So, where are we going?” I asked carefully, diffusing the tension as he grinned and pulled a lever. The doors snapped shut and while I jumped just like last time, the tingle in my spine was definitely excitement this time.

“Your choice,” he said quietly, catching my gaze as I glanced over to see his cheeky-schoolboy smile. “Anywhere in time and space, Kia. Everything that ever was, is or could be, right at your fingertips…”

The sheer magnitude of what was indeed spread before me for the taking overwhelmed my brain and I couldn’t think, couldn’t decide. I briefly thought of going to the future but decided that my interests lay more firmly in the past; oh, the people I could meet, the things I could see… Pompeii, before the volcano… the Mayans… the Incans… the first human being… in a flash, the essay I was supposed to be writing for class entered my brain- no idea why school deemed itself important right then- and I knew. “I’m studying the development of mankind,” I whispered, wondering for the first time whether I was actually about to Time Travel. It seemed impossible, and yet… so believable. “I’ve often wondered… Charles Darwin…”

“Alright, then,” the Doctor smiled, locking his eyes with mine. “Off to meet Charlie it is.”

I rolled my eyes, but couldn’t help the joy that rose as the Doctor spun around the console, locked in a kind of dancing ballet that only he knew the steps to. I got out of the way, perching on the jump seat, and watched, transfixed, as he pushed this, pulled that, switched that, kicked this and grabbed a hammer to stop something flashing. His face was a mask of concentration, slightly drawn brows and pinched lips, but his movements were graceful, an age-old dance I almost felt out of place witnessing.

It was only when the TARDIS began wheezing and groaning- that beautiful sound I’d committed to memory from the first moment I heard it- that I realised we were landing. I leapt to my feet and ran to the doors, bouncing on my heels until something gave a thud and the Doctor joined me, grabbing the jacket he’d tossed off in his frantic piloting. “Always that hectic?” I asked, nodding to the console.

“Designed for six people,” he shrugged. “Can only do so much with two hands.” Shrugging in acceptance, I pushed open the door and stumbled back at the blast of cold that hurried in. Tugging my jacket closer around me, I stepped out into a full-on blizzard, staring around at the gas lamps lining the street, and the complete lack of cars. There were houses all around, and not one of them had a vehicle. “England, Kent, in the year of Eighteen-Twenty-Nine. February Twelve, if I’m not mistaken-“

“You aren’t,” I murmured, noticing the nearest house had lights burning and a party going at full swing. A banner above the door read clearly, even through the snow and darkness, Happy Birthday Charles. “He’s twenty, today,” I pointed out, and the Doctor gave me an innocent smile.

“And apparently, quite a dab hand with the ladies. Least he was when I went to his book signing for Origins of Species.” I stared, open-mouthed, at my companion and he winked back at me. “If you want, there’s a wardrobe on the TARDIS. We could go,” the Doctor nodded at the house and the party, and if I hadn’t been dying of excitement I would have fainted with joy right then and there.

“Seriously?” I squeaked, overjoyed and delighted at the thought. “Yes, yes, yes!” I bolted back into the ship, the Doctor shouting directions at me as I ran down the halls. I found his verbal mapping completely incorrect, as the first random door I opened contained the wardrobe. Almost as if my wishing to get there faster had made the room easier to locate… I didn’t dwell on anything but finding a dress, skipping the corset since I already felt poncy enough. Leaving my hair loose but for a beaded headband, I raced back to the front door as fast as my skirts would allow.

“This,” the Doctor said, eying me up and down until I squirmed and blushed lightly, “is even faster than you moved while running for your life. I’ll remember that- bribes work better than threats.”

“Har-har,” I muttered sarcastically, taking in the leather jacket and black jeans and combat boots. Definitely not the attire one wore to a party in 1829. “Aren’t you going to change?”

“Nah,” he said dismissively, shutting the TARDIS doors behind me and causing me to step out into the snow once again. “Bowties make me itch, and I hate suits.” For all his gruff manner, he did offer me his arm and we walked as one to the front door of Charles Darwin’s birthday party. Dear Lord, I thought I was going to faint. As we approached the door, a man in a tuxedo and top hat spilled out into the snow, laughing uncontrollably with a bottle of gin in his hands.

“Walk it off, Charlie!” a woman’s voice shouted, and I turned to face the drunken bloke- who turned out to be none other than my hero, Charles Bloody Darwin. The woman in the doorway was pretty with dark brown hair, her hands on her hips, and I recognised her vaguely as Emma Wedgwood… his future wife- and his cousin. I looked between the two and saw the sizzling hatred, wondering just how they turned that into a love that spanned the rest of their lives. “Don’t come back until you’re halfway sober, neither! You’ll be getting none of Ma’s cake if you even think about gettin’ in here pie-eyed!” Emma shouted once more, grabbing a broom to sweep the drunk naturalist off the footpath.

He stood and looked at me and the Doctor, standing with amused expressions and waiting to be noticed. Charles stepped forward and took my hand, bending to kiss the back of my knuckles but wobbling precariously and nearly falling on his arse. “Careful, Charlie,” I grinned, “Don’t hurt yourself.” I couldn’t believe it. Could not bloody believe it; I meet my all-time hero, my one idol, and he’s completely pickled. Oh, but what an experience!

Darwin straightened and glared at us both through bleary eyes, clearly trying to put faces to names. He took a breath to speak and, to my amusement, fell flat on his back before he could say a word. Emma Wedgwood swooped down and tried to lift him, the Doctor and I helping her a moment later. I could barely contain my laughter as we hauled him into the house and up the stairs, dodging the criticising eyes of the rest of the party.

“Thanks, the both of yah,” Emma addressed us as she tucked her cousin/future husband into his bed. “He’s a good bloke, usually. Gets a bit carried away when there’s scotch involved, unfortunately.”

“I don’t remember reading that,” I murmured before I could stop myself, though luckily Emma didn’t seem to hear. The Doctor, however, did, and squeezed my arm lightly in warning. Shaking off my thoughts, I held out my hand to introduce myself. “I’m Kia Pullman,” I declared, as Emma shook my hand. “And this is the Doctor.” He kissed Emma’s hand, as was polite to do, and I felt a strange tug in my stomach that felt vaguely like jealousy.

“Emma Wedgwood,” said Emma Wedgwood, as if I wouldn’t know who she was. “Cousin to the drunken lout and guest of honour. Sadly, they’re the same person…”

I laughed appropriately and followed Emma back down to the party. The Doctor caught my elbow at the foot of the stairs and drew me close. “Watch your words and don’t leave the house. Try not to change history too much… I’ll be around- we’ll head out around midnight.” And just like that, he was gone. Four hours and six minutes, I thought, as I found a grandfather clock quickly to confirm my guess. I was hardly surprised when it read exactly, thinking that perhaps I’d seen it without really registering it.

Emma had disappeared through the crowd and I wandered, mingling in with the women and trying not to gush at how everything was so fantastically fantastic. I could barely believe we were in the eighteen hundreds, nor that I’d just met Charles Darwin and put him to bed, or that I was now being offered a small glass of sherry by a jolly, red-faced woman who introduced herself as Caroline. I struggled to make a connection between her and my history books, her identity coming to me in a flash of illumination; Charles’ older sister.

Trying not to think about it too much, I sipped the sherry and, having very little drinking experience, soon found that it went pretty much straight to my head. Soon I was dancing the night away with a handsome man vaguely similar appearance-wise to Charles Darwin. My tangled brain supplied his name- Erasmus- but it didn’t honestly matter. He was a fantastic dancer, and I couldn’t stop laughing as he twirled me under his arm during what was supposed to be a slow, romantic waltz.

As the song drew to a close, my eyes found the Doctor watching me from the sidelines. The sight of him sent the alcohol rushing out of my system as the realisation of the time sank in; time to go. Erasmus pulled me in again and I slowed our frantic dance to a stop, a hand on his chest and my face flushed with joy. “I do declare,” I announced, putting on a posh accent just for show. “I have had a marvellous time… but now, now I must depart… my chariot awaits!”

Yeah, okay, so maybe the alcohol hadn’t left me entirely. Erasmus, however, was far beyond the point of coherence and his hand wrapped around the back of my neck as he pulled me in for a steamy, bruising kiss. I stood frozen until Erasmus leaned back and toppled over himself to land on the couch behind him. A sense of dread curled in my stomach as I looked around… the Doctor was gone.

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