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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19. Reflections

Nineteen: Reflections

The library was quiet as ever. Silent, in fact. Not surprising, seeing as I was the only one in it. My wrist-watch said it was somewhere around three in the afternoon but I felt so, so tired. Being in this ship was really messing with my sense of night and day, though I suppose it didn’t matter. I could sleep as long as I wanted, whenever I wanted, and wake up to it being a brand new day. As long as the Doctor didn’t object to running on my body’s clock, that is. I considered returning to my flat across the road for a nap but couldn’t bring myself to move.

The Doctor had left some hours earlier, shuffling off deeper into the ship mumbling about research and I had no idea, and no compulsion, to go and find him. I didn’t want a new adventure just yet anyway; I needed the time alone, the space to just think. I had instructions to not venture too far away from the library, and not to read anything published in my future, not that I could read and truly concentrate in any case.

My head was buzzing long after the revelations the post-apology conversation I’d had with the Doctor had been... well, revealed. I was still grappling with some parts, but I think I had it down pat enough to surmise it into a bite-sized, easy-to-swallow, nutshell of an explanation for... everything. I knew and had mostly accepted four things for certain, though not without a fair amount of difficulty and a few secret tears or two.

1.My mother was an alien from the planet... Gallifrey? Yeah, Gallifrey. There was a war and she, wanting to protect her unborn baby (me), turned herself into a human and hid.

2.Her other self, the Time Lord... Lady... self, was compressed and hidden in an old fob watch that I now wore firstly as a memoir, but now as something much more precious.

3.My mother’s untimely passing thirteen years earlier had left the Lady with very few options. One of them was stay locked away forever, the other was be freed and dissolve into nothing, and the final option was hope the Doctor could tweak things enough to allow her to possess me, seeing as I shared a biological link with her original self.

4.If that happened, the me I knew as me would surely die.

As you could probably guess, the thing I was wrestling with the most was Number Four. At twenty-two (and a bit) years old, I had never entertained thoughts that I could die shortly, not before meeting the Doctor at least. I had dreams of being something special, even if I didn’t know what. I knew I could have been so much more, but things had changed very rapidly. The Lady in my mother’s watch would die, or be trapped forever, without my help. I was never the kind of person to sit by and allow that sort of thing to occur, so of course I wanted to help, but at the cost of my own life?

Who could blame me for being a little selfish in that respect? I had had a taste of what life could truly be, I didn’t want to lose that just yet. Technically, I knew I wouldn’t die in the complete sense of the word. But I would be changed beyond recognition, and might not even be me enough to enjoy what I had now. The flat, the mortgage, the job, the classes, the “friends” I rarely saw... that was the life I’d been living, and it had been reliably good to me as far as I could recall. A little dull at times, but reliable and safe. The Doctor certainly spiced things up a bit, admittedly, but I was still me enough to enjoy a good cup of tea and a few hours of doing nothing.

Would I even like tea if I was someone else? Or would I be like the Doctor, never staying still long enough to really enjoy the little things? I loved to stop and smell the figurative roses. Would the New-Me do the same? Or simply crush the garden in the rush to do other, bigger, more exciting things?

I had never put much thought to how I would die. But... dying in place of someone I love- hang on, that’s Twilight. Oh dear Lord, what was happening to me? Was I that frazzled and stressed out that I resorted to quoting, of all things, Twilight? The heel of my hand made a decidedly loud thud against my forehead and did nothing to erase that sinful quote from my mind. It only made the tension headache worse, and the quote louder. As much as I despise its’ origins, that line did sum up my situation. The point still stands. Dying in the place of someone I love seemed like a good way to go, if I had to go.

I hoped the Doctor, wherever he was, was trying to come up with an alternative. I didn’t hold out much hope for him finding one, because if he’d thought there was another way, I’m positive he would never have mentioned the fact that I’d have to die to free the Lady. Why worry me unnecessarily?

My jittery body demanded movement and I obeyed like a puppet, woodenly throwing off the blanket and starting to walk around the pool. The water looked inviting, though I had never been a strong swimmer. I wonder if the world would look different from under the surface? It didn’t look all that deep... but I didn’t want to test my luck. Apparently, I wasn’t supposed to be alive in the first place. I wasn’t about to tempt fate by jumping into a pool; I’d leave that to the experts.

Barely two steps later, another issue had taken over my mind. Long-forgotten and much more tame than any of the issues I had amassed since, I returned to worrying over what I would write for my thesis. I had a friend with a time machine, and I was a year into my doctorate in history. I’d already met Charles Darwin... who had been drunk at the time, but I still shook his hand and put him to bed. I listed all the people I’d love to meet and sorted them alphabetically, then by preference, then by year of birth, year of death...

It calmed me down, making and shuffling that list. I liked lists; they kept me organised.

I turned swiftly at the sound of the door opening, and watched the Doctor slowly make his way to me. The pace he kept didn’t fill me with hope; quite the opposite, in fact. Dread curled and settled like a stone as I swallowed thickly and tried to put on a calm facade.

“It’s possible,” was the first thing he said. I didn’t jump to the happy conclusion, sensing there was a but to come. There always is. “You didn’t have an individual consciousness when your mother changed the both of you, so yours melded with hers. That’s good, it will make things... easier. That was the good news. The mildly good news is she’s already bonding herself to you too. I’ve noticed it once or twice, that you somehow know things you shouldn’t know, or shouldn’t guess easily. The bad news is, every time she takes over your mind, she weakens you, like a disease. I don’t know what will happen if you try to assimilate the energy completely; as you are now, you could never handle it. Perhaps if you remain in contact with the watch for a while, you may become somewhere near ready. When we finally try, either it will work and change you, or you become a combination of the two, which would fry your circuits and kill you.”

“Either way I die,” I muttered bitterly, trying not to feel guilty at the stricken look that passed over the Doctor’s face. This wasn’t his fault, I knew, but I had to take my anger out on someone. He just happened to be the closest victim, unfortunately for him. He chose to ignore my irritation and smile apologetically.

“Not necessarily,” he murmured, and a tiny flicker of hope began to appear in my stomach. “I need more time. I’ve never heard of this happening before... but if there’s one thing I am, it’s clever. So clever that I might actually be able to do it.”

Without thinking, I flung my arms around his neck and hugged him for all I was worth. Somewhere in the bottom of my mind, I tallied up all the times I had touched him first and willingly, this being the third or fourth. Usually, it was him reaching out for me, but this time, I couldn’t help myself. If he could both save the Lady and save me, I would be forever in his debt. I hated owing people, but if he accomplished this, I would gladly owe him for the rest of my lifetime and beyond.

We were broken apart by my stomach rumbling, and I blushed as I looked down at it in surprise. I hadn’t eaten much for the last few days, and apparently even my small appetite was piqued. Grinning at me, the Doctor lead me to the library doors and along corridors I’d never seen before. I was grateful he was leading me or I’d be lost as anything, unable to do anything but waste away and pray someone found me. We stopped outside a door that turned out to lead to a kitchen.

“Take anything you want. I’m not overly well-stocked, but you should be able to find something. I’ll be in the library if you want me,” the Doctor nodded to the cupboards and I hummed a thank you as I dove for the food, hungrier now than I could ever recall being in my life. His leaving barely distracted me from my task as I searched and grabbed anything that looked edible and delicious. Vaguely, I recall hearing the Doctor chuckle and mumble something about insatiable apes but the comment washed right over my head. I had food; everything else be damned.

In the presence of the heavenly delicacy known as Nutella, everything paled. The problem of the watch which still hung around my neck- I felt more aware of it now, more conscious that it was there. I considered for a moment taking it off, but the thought of losing it somewhere in the TARDIS had me shivering with dread and rethinking my ideas instantly. Still, having it so close to me now that I knew what it really was had me alert for any changes in myself. The Doctor had mentioned that the Lady and I were linked, and had connected; I could recognise these times now, in myself.

Way back with the Cybermen- I remembered it vividly, despite the time tha had elapsed between then and now- when the Doctor and I were trapped in the control centre. Although I’d seen the building just once from the outside, and only very briefly, I had remembered there was a fire-escape. I wasn’t sure if that was me or something the Lady had influenced, but I couldn’t recall seeing that fire-escape from outside.

And then with the Skith. Was the Lady to blame for my memory loss where they were concerned? I couldn’t remember much after being taken to the warehouse; maybe she had taken over my mind and controlled me, to the point where I couldn’t remember it at all? That was entirely possible, I told myself, though the Doctor would have to confirm it. I still wasn’t sure I could trust anything in my own head anymore; I still had flashes of a snowy, icy planet being destroyed and a ship hurtling through time and space, all images of the Skith that they had given me. I could picture a burnt orange sky and red grass, from the picture Mum drew, like I had seen it before.

I couldn’t sort out whether half the things in my head were mine, the Lady’s, or the Skith. As far as headaches go, I might be so bold as to say this was shaping up to be one of the worst I’d ever had.

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