02 February 2007

New Companion, Old Earth - Prologue - Part 3

The Doctor looked startled. "Are you expecting anything drastic to happen?"
'"Not specifically, no. Just generally. I've read Rose's Diary, remember. I've also communicated with the TARDIS – something drastic happens to you on a regular basis! As far as I can tell, it's a normal part of your life."
"That's true. Perhaps we should have gone back to Einfuhlung – you said it was quiet there."
"Not just before we left, it wasn't!" retorted Saskia.
"But it would have been after all the Rovians left."
"Not for some time, believe me. There will have been endless Council meetings – there are probably still endless Council meetings going on." Saskia scowled at the thought. "That's assuming we haven't travelled forward in time yet."
"No. It's exactly a week since we left," the Doctor reassured her.
"There you are then. If I know the Council, the meetings will last for 2 or 3 months."
"We could go back at a point after the meetings ended, when everything had calmed down again."
"Are you trying to get rid of me, Doctor?
"No, honestly. I was just thinking that a bit of peace and a lack of 'something drastic' would be nice," he answered.
"You'd get bored. I bet you wouldn't even last a week without going looking for trouble."
"I resemble that remark." Saskia grinned at him as he realised just what he'd said. "There's no point telling you that I meant to say 'resent', is there?" he asked.
"None," she answered, still grinning.

He sighed, knowing that having this woman around was going to be an interesting experience, she was so quick-witted. "Barcelona it is then," he said.
"Come on. Let's go back to the Control Room. Your twitchiness is distracting."
"My twitchiness? I wasn't aware I was twitching." The Doctor looked puzzled.
"Physically you're not, but emotionally, you're like a man anxious to get back to his lover."
The Doctor's eyes widened in surprise. "You can read that?"
"It's coming off you in waves, Doctor, and has been for the last five minutes." Saskia stood up and stretched in one fluid movement. "Are you coming?"
The Doctor nodded absently and they set off towards the Control Room. "How tall are you?" he asked, rather randomly Saskia thought.
"Five foot nine. Why are you asking?"
"No particular reason. I was just thinking that you're a bit taller than my last two Companions. It makes a change not to have to look down so far to see into someone's eyes," he explained.
"Do you do a lot of gazing into people's eyes?" Saskia asked curiously.
"Hmm?" The Doctor was rubbing the back of his head in that thoughtful way of his. "Quite a bit, actually. Although I'm not an empath like you, I can often pick up people's emotions by looking in their eyes. Fear dilates the pupils, for example."
"I know. I've studied humanoid physiology."
"You have?" The Doctor wondered how many more times Saskia was going to surprise him today. "What's a historian doing studying physiology?"
"It was part of my general science education. For an Empathian education is very broad outside their area of specialisation, so I've studied Mathematics, the sciences, and music to a certain level, as well as my own specialist subjects to more advanced levels."

"What music do you like?"
"Orchestral and instrumental, especially pieces for solo instruments."
"What about early 20th century Earth pop music?" the Doctor asked eagerly.
"Not so much, although I've heard very little of it."
"Oh." The Doctor's face fell for a moment. "Oh well."
Saskia sensed his disappointment. "You can teach me, if you like."
"Really? Fantastic!" his face brightened.
Saskia shook her head. "For a 900 year old being, you're very like a small boy at times."
"Oi! What's that supposed to mean?"
"Exactly what I said. Sometimes your emotional reactions are like a small boy's when he's given a treat – or told not to do something," she said.
"Huh." The Doctor didn't answer and Saskia could tell he wasn't sure how much she meant what she was saying.

"So, changing the subject entirely, how did you end up reading Rose's Diary, of all the books in the library?" he asked.
Saskia smiled to herself at the change of subject, she could tell she had given him something to think about. "When you grabbed my hand outside the Museum and told me to run, you were remembering your previous self grabbing Rose's hand in a similar situation –"
"You read my mind?" the Doctor interrupted in annoyance.
Saskia glared at him. "Yes, I read your mind. You grabbed my hand so suddenly that I had no time to block your thoughts, so I saw the two of you in that department store basement when Rose's planet was under attack. I blocked out your thoughts immediately after that, but I was curious about Rose because your emotions were so strong and quite confused about that event. I decided that if I got the chance, I'd find out who she was. When I found the TARDIS library that first morning after I came on board, I spotted Rose's Diary almost immediately; to be honest, I think the TARDIS gave me a nudge. So I read it as it was the quickest way to find out more about you and about Rose whilst you were preoccupied with trying to fix the TARDIS."

The Doctor stopped in the doorway of the Control Room. He still looked and felt, to Saskia's senses, quite angry. She had seen that look in his eyes before, when he was dealing with the Rovians. It was steely and merciless. He had told them he didn't give second chances, and she hadn't doubted it. If he changed his mind now, about having her company on his journeys, she wouldn't get a second chance.
"So what do you know, with all your research? What do you know about me?" he asked harshly.
"You're the last of the Time Lords and you've been travelling the galaxies for years with a succession of Companions. But the only one you've ever truly loved was Rose Tyler, an immensely courageous young woman, who was full of energy, life and fun. Losing her was probably even more painful than the loss of your own people and planet. I think you probably hate yourself for not being able to save her from going through the void, even though you knew that sooner or later a day would come when she wouldn't be travelling with you again. But in spite of your pain, you keep on travelling, keep on saving lives, whole planets even, because you're a strong, compassionate person with a highly developed sense of right and wrong."
"You didn't get all that from Rose's Diary," observed the Doctor.
"Not all of it, no. Some of it I got from you, from reading your emotions, and some of it I got from the TARDIS. I think she brought you to my planet for a reason, for you to find me, so I can help you."
"Giving yourself airs, now? What makes you so special, Saskia Scolere, that you think you can help me?" His voice was harsh again.

Saskia answered calmly, whilst wondering if he would change his mind about taking her back, since she was doing such a thorough job of annoying him.
"I'm an empath. I can read your emotions and understand them, perhaps better than you understand them right now. I can read your thoughts too, with your permission. You need to deal with losing Rose."
"Offering to be my counsellor, are you?" His tone was still harsh, but she could sense that he felt a tiny sliver of longing for someone to talk to, someone who might be able to help.
"If that's what you want to call me, then yes."
"What would you call yourself then?" he asked.
"A friend. Either way, you might as well talk to me now I'm here."
"I could just take you back home," the Doctor said abruptly.
"You could – but I suspect you're not going to get me back instantly, not if the TARDIS has anything to do with it. So why not talk to me? If you don't want my company after that, take me back home, and I'll go back to my work and my life."

The Doctor walked over to the Console and stroked a hand across the surface. "You're probably right, she probably would make it hard for me to take you straight back home."
"Thank you."
"Why are you thanking me?" the Doctor asked. "You'll probably end up running for your life on a regular basis."
"So I'll stay in shape." She gave him a tentative smile and was pleased to see that he didn't scowl or glare back at her. Not that he was smiling at her, not yet, but he wasn't glaring, and she had decided that she wasn't fond of seeing him glare, when the glare was aimed at her.
"So when do we start?" he asked.
"Why don't you go and have a warm bath or do something else to make you feel more relaxed, and then we'll talk?"
"Fine." He stalked back out of the Control Room, and Saskia sat down abruptly, feeling somewhat shaky. Being around the Doctor could prove very exhausting, she decided.

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