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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14. Stalemate

Fourteen: Stalemate

I stood nervously in the console room, one hand clutching the watch and the other fiddling with the hem of my shirt. The Doctor had sent us into a state of stationary movement- only he used long, alien words and ran about impressively with grand gestures and large smiles until I was as baffled as a penguin in Africa. Basically, we were moving through the Time Vortex, but actually going nowhere…

“So, drifting?” I asked, as the Doctor stopped short and gave me a sidelong look.

“I was being impressive and brilliant, and you ruin it by saying something dull like that.” He sighed heavily. I couldn’t stop myself from giggling at his childish pout, one that faded into a serious half-smile as he pulled one last lever and gently took my head in his hands. “Try to relax. I’m going to sift through your memories to find the ones we need, of the Skith. Anything you don’t want me to see, lock it behind a door. I won’t look if you don’t want me to, I promise.”

“You can read my mind?” I whispered, astounded. It really shouldn’t surprise me with everything I’ve seen, yet somehow this fact shocked me beyond anything else. It was the little things, I suppose, that really lit up my interest. The Doctor nodded and I took a deep breath, closing my eyes and locking away memories of my mother and my life that he had no place in seeing, shutting them all behind a door. I tried to keep my breathing steady as I opened my eyes, finding the Doctor less than a foot away. His gaze burned into mine and I nodded, consenting to the invasion and letting him know I was ready.

“Just relax, Kia. It won’t hurt, I promise.”

Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in... a headache was forming in the base of my neck. This was where they usually began, my headaches. The watch felt hot on my skin, through my shirt, and the chain around my neck began to itch and tighten. I tried to touch it, to take it off, but my fingers couldn’t pry it away from my skin. I heard the Doctor say my name as the headache blossomed into a physical hit of agony that sent me reeling away, stumbling over my own feet and sprawling on the ground.

The headache was gone, and the watch was normal. I tore the chain off from around my neck and felt for melted skin, but found everything was fine. The watch was returned to its place and I slowly pushed myself onto my side, before rolling onto my stomach and pushing myself- not without a bit of difficulty- to my feet. The console was less than a foot away and I used that to regain my feet before looking for the Doctor. Dizzily, I stumbled forward and caught myself halfway down, taking deep breaths to stop my stomach tossing like a rodeo bull.

“Doctor?” I murmured, feeling steady enough to look around.

He was out, still lying on the grating a few feet away, but stirring as I watched. I swayed dangerously and stumbled to the jump-seat, wanting to be a little closer to the ground and have something soft to land on if I fainted again. Was that even what had just happened? It didn’t feel like a faint. It felt like something had pushed me, like invisible arms had caught me round the middle and thrown me far away from the Doctor, and him away from me. He sat up slowly and looked for me, eyes wide with concern. Spotting me on the jump-seat, he crawled over and dragged himself up, allowing me to rest against his shoulder a moment later.

“You okay?” I asked, genuinely concerned. I felt him nod and knew he was lying, but let it go. “What happened?”

“There is something powerful protecting your mind from me,” he replied heavily, voice slurred and very tired. I knew I wasn’t much better, although I hadn’t been awake all that long. “You must have let the Skith through.”

“I let you through,” I replied, snuggling against him just a little. I think my reaction to being even slightly cold would be forever changed from my meeting the Skith, and leather is actually quite comfortable, and he smelled of peppermint and old things and new things and things I couldn’t even name, all at once. It was intoxicating. “I wanted you more than them.”

“I just have one of those faces,” he sighed. I was aware of the joke, however tiredly it was made, and made an effort to chuckle. He shrugged and bumped my head, which only made me laugh harder, until he swept but from under me and dragged me to my feet. “Go lie down again, will you? You’re not up to scratch. I’ll land us somewhere safe and we can explore when you’re rested up.”

“But-“

“Go on, get!” he shooed me out of the console room and I hurried myself away, giggling to myself. He was right, actually. I might have wanted to protest and go see just what he deemed safe- going to a party at Charles Darwin’s house was supposedly safe- but I was tired. Inexplicably tired. Maybe it was because of the Skith, maybe it was because of whatever had hit me when the Doctor tried to read my mind. It was odd though, I thought, as I found my room almost by instinct and collapsed into bed, that the Skith got in so easily while the Doctor was thrown out.

My musings faded out as my mind slowly shut down, and slumber swept me away to a dreamland I can never quite remember. What felt like minutes- but must have been hours- later, I heard something strange. It wasn’t in the dream and it wasn’t the usual sounds I expected to hear while asleep. A high-pitched whine, starting somewhere inside my own mind but originating outside, began to build in volume inside my head. I stirred and rolled over, trying to block out that horrible sound. I twitched and flung a pillow over my head, but still the whine persisted, turning into a determined scream. I had heard this sound before, I realised. But where? My sleep-fogged mind wouldn’t work, I couldn’t remember...

I was in a cage, not alone, someone else was there. A girl, a young girl, Daniel Craig on her shirt. Louie. She was afraid. The Skith, they took me, they wanted to strap me down. I fought, offered to help them, they showed me their everything, their plight. Back in the cage. Louie- Louie! Must ask about Louie- she called my name. Something in my mind shifted; I wasn’t afraid or cold anymore. Something had changed. The watch was cold, I was warm. My mind was buzzing like a net waiting to be filled, like there was so much more space inside my head that just needed to be used.

And still the whine persisted. And I knew where I’d heard it before.

The Skith came back. They took Louie and I back to the table-room. I danced around, hugging them. Wanting to name them. Feeling happy around them. They smiled at me but I could see their true faces, they’re ugly. They snarled at me. Grabbed at my head, they were in my head, singing to me, talking to me, they wanted to know everything. I would give them everything. The Doctor- the Doctor shouted- the Doctor...

I sat bolt upright in bed and instantly turned for the door, which was half ajar. I distinctly remembered closing it before going to bed, closing it properly too. I remembered taking off the watch and placing it in the bedside table, as I wouldn’t sleep with it around my neck. The drawer was open. And the watch was gone.

 The Doctor.

Flipping back the blankets, I raced out the door and straight for the console room. Empty. Of course, I thought, he wouldn’t go there when it would be the first place I’d look. He’d go somewhere I’d never been before. That wouldn’t stop me though; I would find him if I had to tear the TARDIS apart. A light above me flickered and I reached out a hand to touch the walls, feeling more than a little silly but understanding this perhaps above all else; the ship was alive, and I wasn’t angry at her. The TARDIS had done no wrong; her stupid, moronic, self-serving arse of a pilot, however, was a different story.

I stormed down the halls, not caring where I was going and ending up in the console room more than once. I thought perhaps the TARDIS was sending me in circles, but something sparked near my elbow when I thought it and I apologized again. She wasn’t helping him, nor was she helping me. “Smart,” I muttered. No reply. Hadn’t really expected one to come, actually. The ship may be sentient but she wasn’t vocal unless she really, honestly had an opinion. Or so I noticed.

Finally, I found a doorway that lead me into a library. At first, I was amazed at the sheer amount of books housed in the room, and the fact that a swimming pool had appeared in the middle of the floor. A moment later, I was aware of a Time Lord standing across the water from me, with my watch dangling on its’ chain from his fist. It was still screaming in my head and though I’d managed to block it out while searching, the scream returned full-force now and I buckled against the door.

The Doctor hurried over to me, and I snatched for the watch. He shoved it out of my reach and tried to ask me what was wrong; I gave him the best death glare I could muster and grabbed the watch, slinging the chain around my neck. With the screaming gone, my strength returned, and my anger reigned.

“You had no right!” I fumed, fists clenched. He held up his hands in an innocent, surrendering gesture but it did nothing to assuage my fury. “This is my property, and I don’t care if this is your ship, this is mine and you had no right!” My head was spinning and my body felt warm, not just from sleep and adrenaline either. I was beyond furious.

I watched his expression go from innocent to sheepish to as angry as I was. I knew he could be scary when he was angry; I never expected how frightening having his anger focussed on me would be. “That watch contains the consciousness of a Time Lord, someone just like me! They could be trapped, or in trouble, and they’re the only hope I have of finding someone else, since as I’m sure you remember, I am the last! I think that gives me just a bit of a right, don’t you Kiarna?” he seethed, volume much lower than mine but with twice the rage in his tone. He had had more practise than me, I supposed, but I was still determined to give him a good what-for.

“Don’t call me Kiarna!” I shrieked at him, shaking my finger at him; what kind of jerk is he, anyway, to go rifling through my drawers at night! Especially while I slept not two feet away! “This watch belonged to the most important person in my life, Doctor, and that person is dead!” So callous, and he flinched, but I closed my eyes and told myself I didn’t care; “So I would appreciate it if you would leave it alone.” My voice was calm now, probably because I couldn’t see him, and the watch wasn’t screaming in my head anymore. Without that buzzing whine in my head, I found myself a lot calmer. Which wasn’t really saying much, as I was pretty worked up in the first place. I’d been on edge about the watch since the moment he made comment on it; now, my fears and trepidations were realised.

“The Time Lords are dead, Kia!” the Doctor spat, fury in every syllable, “and you’ve got the last link in the universe. Don’t you understand what that’s like for me?” He was close to me now, and I opened my eyes to take a step away. I would stand my ground but I refused to let him dominate me; he would not win this argument by intimidating me with superior physical stature. Damned if he would.

I snarled at him, ignoring the pain he tried desperately to mask with anger. I had my own pain to deal with, my own confusion. I deserved a little credit; in less than three days, I’d gone from being a parentless nobody to someone coming to terms with the fact that aliens were real and that I might not be human. “I have an idea of what it’s like to lose everything, yeah. I’m sorry for your loss. But this watch is still mine regardless of its’ origins- it belonged to my mother!”

“Give me the watch,” he demanded suddenly, holding out a hand like he thought I’d just give in. I shoved the chain over my head and the watch down my shirt, daring him to try and get it. I’d rip his head off if he tried, I swear I would. “Kiarna, don’t play games with me. Don’t ever, ever think you’re capable of that- give me the watch.”

“This watch,” I breathed, shaking my head and quietly begging him to understand, “whines at me when I take it off. When you go near, it screams, and it hurts. I can’t.”

“Kiarna,” he growled, the usage of my full name no longer serving to irritate me. All it- and the look of rising irritation on his face- did was make me tired of arguing with him. Why couldn’t he just listen? The watch was important to both of us, so surely we could work together so we both got what we wanted? It meant as much to him as it did to me; it was a link to our dead loved ones, though he had many more than I to grieve for.

“I’m sorry, Doctor, but I just can’t alright? Not right now at least. Maybe... if you give me time... I’m- I’m sorry.”

“Please,” he tried soft and gentle now, the same as he had back in the alley. The watch throbbed against my chest and I squeezed my eyes shut, hardly believing the words I was about to say.

“Look, I get it, I really do. You want the watch because you think I’m it. If the watch opens, you get another Time Lord. What about me? What do I get? Death? The loss of the one thing of Mum’s I’ve got? I know it hardly compares- the loss of a parent to the loss of a species- but please, please try to understand that at least right now, we’re at an impasse... if you can’t, then... well,” I took a deep breath, bowing my head, and in a small voice I whispered; “Then I think you should take me home.”

“Fine,” he snapped, whirling on his heel and stalking from the room. As he left, the TARDIS rumbled. I hesitated before following him to the console room. I made sure to arrive there as we landed in Cardiff, stopping on the way out to admire the TARDIS one last time. I had no idea if this was the last I’d be seeing of her, of the Doctor, but by the way he ignored me and the doors opened of their own accord, I surmised that he would be only too glad to see the back of me. I stepped out into a cool Cardiff evening, across the road from my flat, and the TARDIS doors snapped shut at my heels. A second later, she started to disappear, and I held my breath until she’d gone before entering the flat and slamming the door behind me.

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