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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20. Take Me Away

Twenty: Take Me Away

A month had crawled by, with me and the Doctor in the library every spare moment we had, between me sorting out my affairs and the Doctor taking us to his ‘favourite places on Earth’, a restriction I placed on our travels since I didn’t feel ready enough to face the universe. I was barely used to the fact that anywhere in time was readily accessible; the idea of anywhere in space overwhelmed me a little.

Through all my travels into Cardiff, I never ran into Jack Harkness or Louie Owens again. I called into the tourist office once or twice, hoping to find Ianto at the desk, but there had been a stranger manning it and the word ‘Torchwood’ just got me raised eyebrows and confused looks. It was like they didn’t exist- despite my curiosity, I didn’t go digging for them. They still had the Doctor as Code Nine and me as Code Eight; I wasn’t going to tempt fate.

So, between seeing this-and-that and meeting so-and-so, I was researching the Doctor’s… our… species, occasionally having my questions answered, more often having more questions than answers. He was desperately searching for a solution to my problem, trying to see if there was any mention whatsoever in any text of my situation. With every failed venture, the tension rose and we found ourselves snapping over the simplest of things, the most insignificant of topics quickly escalating into flaming rows.

And for all that, we were still no closer to finding a resolution.

The TARDIS doors creaked as I snuck out, feeling the sting of Cardiff’s early-morning coolness hitting my skin. As much as being in the ship made me happy, I needed the fresh air. I must have been sitting awake all night in the library, though I was nowhere near tired. My sleeping patterns were sincerely messed up since meeting the Doctor.

He hadn’t reappeared since the row over who ought to keep possession of the watch two days ago, and I’d found a piece of paper and a pen to write him a note and let him know I’d gone into town, just in case he came in search of me. I was going to take advantage of the reprieve from research I had, use it to tie up a few loose ends so I wouldn’t be worrying about them if we ever left Cardiff again. Maybe that was a bit ridiculous, but getting back to normal life and my usual routine felt like the best kind of distraction.

I darted across the street in a pair of borrowed trainers, ducking into my flat and making sure the power was turned off. Whether I was back in a day or in a week, I wanted to make sure nothing would catch fire while I was gone. Imagine the excuses I’d have to come up with to explain my whereabouts.

I considered making a cup of tea, before turning for my bedroom and making good time in packing a proper bag of clothes. The room the TARDIS modelled on my own had been melted when the Doctor temporarily kicked me off, and he’d let the ship remodel however she wanted. With a psychic, sentient ship, the room was predictably just my style, all whites and soft blues and fluffy blankets. The only problem was, I had just two changes of clothes. While it might be alright for the Doctor to stay in one outfit and appear well-groomed at all times regardless of what we’d been through, I for one preferred a bit of variety.

Digging out Mum’s old travelling case, the one I’d used when moving from the house to the flat, I filled it with a selection of my favourite stuff, intending on taking that to the TARDIS with me. It seemed almost instinctual to include the painting of the orange planet Mum had created years ago. The Doctor had said I could make myself at home. I intended to make myself comfortable, at the very least.

Leaving the case by the door, full and ready to go, I locked up the flat and headed for the corner and the bus stop. A day in town- going to school, going to work, eating chips- would do me good. Along the way, a paper-boy rode towards me and I caught the paper he threw my way, unfolding it to get a glimpse of the date.

I scanned the headlines first, eager to see if the Cybermen still dominated the news. They had been replaced by mundane issues- new road repairs, an upgrade for Rookwood hospital- which relieved me somewhat. They might have been dealt with, but I could still hear the clunk-hiss-boom of their footsteps.

The bus pulled up as I skim-read the article about the hospital upgrade, smiling at the unknown benefactor who had left a winning lottery ticket in an envelope, addressed to the Board. Ten thousand dollars would go a long way for improving patient conditions, I knew. Absently paying for my ticket and taking a seat, I finally checked the date.

Fourth of April, 2009.

My stomach plummeted to my feet and I leapt off the bus as quickly as I could, ignoring the fact that I’d paid for a full day and had only gone one stop. The newspaper scattered on the concrete behind me as I sprinted back for the TARDIS, gasping for breath the entire way.

“We have to go!” I shouted as I pushed the doors open, sending a leather-clad man stumbling backwards. My note was flung out of his hands and he looked at me like I was the devil incarnate, which at that moment, I very well could have been. “I haven’t met you yet, so we have to go!”

The Doctor’s eyebrows rocketed to his hairline, receding as it was, and he regarded me with a look of utter amusement. “What’s gotten into you then, madwoman?”

I took a deep breath, forcing myself to calm down. I knew this was bad, had to be breaking some kind of time-travelling rule. I’d read Harry Potter and I’d seen Back to the Future. Both of them, while I’m sure were rife with time-travelling inaccuracies, had the same message; meeting yourself and changing history is bad.

“Today is the fourth of April,” I began as slowly as I could. “I met you on the eighth. Therefore, there is another version of me running around Cardiff, and since I can’t remember meeting myself, we clearly have to shift.”

“Ah,” the Doctor nodded, turning for the console. “Steering, a bit dodgy. I thought there was something off...”  I grabbed the note I’d left him, joining him by the console, as the thought of the case I left in the flat entered my mind. A laugh bubbled up my throat and escaped as the doors snapped shut and we took off for the unknown. “Don’t laugh, it’s not my fault!”

I shook my head, claiming a spot in the jump-seat as he leaned across from me, arms folded sulkily over his chest. “No, it’s just... I can remember coming home and finding a case packed by my door. I thought someone was playing funny buggers...”

He seemed to pick up on the joke and his eyes sparked with humour, laughing at my unintentional pranking of my younger self. It was pretty funny, I suppose. My reaction when I’d come home from an early-morning meeting with a potential second job to find Mum’s case packed and standing by the door... I had called the police, who brought in the sniffer dogs, who traced the intruder to me.

I still hadn’t paid that fine for wasting their time, I realised, remembering the slip of paper still sitting, forgotten, in my desk drawer. It never would be paid if I could help it; I’d been genuinely scared that someone had tried to steal my clothes.

“Down to business then,” the Doctor began brusquely, rubbing his hands together and beginning to pace around the console, occasionally touching something as if to distract and amuse himself. “I was searching all night but found nothing; you’re something the universe has never seen before. As far as I can tell, though, it’s perfectly reasonable to predict that you could absorb the energy and change. Only problem is when. Doing it now, when you are so startlingly human, wouldn’t work.”

“So we wait, then,” I finished, nodding. “You said that each time we psychically connect, I change a little bit more. All we have to do is wait.”

The Doctor nodded and paused where I couldn’t see him, the lights of the TARDIS dimming just a little. “The bad news is each time you change, even a little, you’re going to get weaker. Kia... she could kill you before you save her.”

Sliding to my feet, I softly approached him and placed a hand on his tensed wrist. He flipped his hand over and grasped mine, squeezing slightly as if to reassure himself that I was still there. “It’s a risk I’m willing to take, Doctor,” I whispered, and although I still had doubts and fears abound, I knew I was speaking from the heart. The Doctor picked up on my sincerity and his grip on my hand tightened once again, before letting go as he spun away from me and input a destination.

“Enough of this dark talk!” he exclaimed, giving me the brightest grin he could manage. My answering one strengthened the levity of his mood and the tension faded into background noise; we would deal with it when it arose and demanded attention. “Everything right at our fingertips, just waiting to be explored. Hold on!”

The TARDIS lurched and shuddered, almost sending me rolling off if I hadn’t gripped the console and braced my knees. The Doctor was laughing loud enough to be audible over the groaning of the engines and I couldn’t help but be swept up in the excitement. After the stress and pain and confusion of the last few days, it felt incredible to be getting back to somewhere near normal. Well, as normal as things got with the Doctor as a travel partner.

As we spun and twirled through the Vortex, the TARDIS rocking violently all around us, my heart leapt with anticipation, the sweet taste lingering on my tongue. I had no idea where we would end up, or when, or even with whom. The feeling of being utterly unprepared made my stomach lurch a little, but one reassuring look from the Doctor had the unease replaced instantly by intense excitement.

I heard the thud and tolling of bells that signalled our landing. I rushed for the doors but the Doctor beat me to them, blocking my way and holding up a single finger.

“The Doctor lies, don’t wander off, do what I’m told,” I rattled off the three rules like I’d been doing it all my life, unable to stop a smirk as his expression fell.

“That isn’t fair,” he muttered, shaking his head. “That’s something else we’ve got to figure out, too. Who lead you to where I just happened to appear?”

“Can’t it wait?” I asked, impatient. I tried ducking under his arm and opening the doors, but he was much too fast and much too clever, blocking my way without a second thought. His thinking-face was on, the stern and faraway look he’d been wearing consistently since our fight the night before last. He had that same look whenever the watch was mentioned or visible, and I snapped my fingers in front of his face to bring him out of it. “I’ll tell you what’s not fair. Whisking me away into time and space then refusing to let me see. Shift, you oaf,” I commanded, grateful that his scowl melted into an exasperated smile.

“Who are you calling an oaf, you ape?” he teased me right back. I flicked my hair in his direction and placed a hand on the TARDIS doors, apprehension rising now that I had gotten my wish. I had no way of knowing what was on the other side of these doors, or even if it were safe to open them. The Doctor smirked- I could see him from the corner of my eye- and folded his arms across his chest. “Scared, Kia?”

“Never, Doctor,” I lied, feeling all the braver from having done so. I pulled the doors open to be met with a rush of stale air and pitch blackness. The light from the TARDIS spilled out and glittered off sculptures and masks and toys that looked decidedly Egyptian, if the faded hieroglyphics were anything to go by. I was startled when before my very eyes, the pretty symbols morphed into English words.

The Great Pharaoh Tutankhamen.

“Welcome to the tomb of the Child King,” the Doctor announced grandly, the lights brightening so I could see every inch of the cavern, including a magnificent stone coffin just a few feet away. “Howard Carter will be digging us up any minute now, so feel free to have a snoop.”

As if in a dream, I drifted forward and stared, unsure as to where to go, what to see, whether I could touch... this was like being in a museum, only a thousand times better because it was real and I could touch it and smell it- not so pleasant, but hey- and see it where it was meant to be seen. No human has ever seen this before. I am the first human to set eyes on King Tut’s coffin...

“Doctor,” I said again, a little louder and much firmer than I’d thought I’d be. He hummed in reply, distracted by the statue of Ra looming over us, and I sat back in the dirt to just stare. “You’ll never get rid of me now.”

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