eloriekam: (Doctor (Ten) School Reunion by kumiko_ga)
[personal profile] eloriekam
Title: Traveling the Universe
Author: [personal profile] eloriekam/[livejournal.com profile] eloriekam
Rating: Teen
Characters: All Doctors, TARDIS, companions
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Summary: She knows him as soon as he sees her, and eventually their mutual familiarity becomes something more: 'It all started out as a mild curiosity in a junkyard, and now it's turned out to be quite a great spirit of adventure.'
Word Count: ~1750
Author's Notes/Spoilers: Anything and anyone in broadcast Who may show up in this fic (and probably does, however quickly), although I haven't listened to many Big Finish audios. I'm neck deep in something non-fiction at the moment, hope it doesn't read too awkwardly--I'm just happy my muse actually produced something!
This fic was written for the 'Old Friends' challenge at [livejournal.com profile] who_contest originally posted July 13, and managed to place! (squee) Banner by [livejournal.com profile] paynesgrey.

She knows him the moment he lays eyes on her, the instant he touches her. The pain that drove him away from his people makes him crotchety and caring by turns, and his hands sometimes caress her and other times pull recklessly at her as he tries to repair the malfunctions that had left her cast aside, exiled in a way. She in turn treats him gently and roughly, but tries to tell him more of how she works, how to guide her. Some days, when he stands up and leans against her after working longer than he ought to, she breathes in and out a little, a long, deep sound that she knows fills him with joy no matter his mood.

He wants to explore, and so does she, and they both accept it is far better to see the universe and try to change things for good than to sit idle, locked into tradition and immobility. The others don't appreciate her malfunctions, though they are all curious enough to enjoy traveling throughout the universe. They come and go, but she and he stay, learning from each other, talking in swift whispers in dark or light, especially after he leaves before the young one like him joins them. He does not know, then, when they will come back, but he says that they will.

She is aware he is clinging to this body, just a little bit; perhaps on some level he senses many of his other forms will have less time. He knows and trusts her now, and even his roughest touches hold love. It is and will be a contradiction of his personality and even the name he uses, that he cares deeply, but can be dreadfully awkward at showing it.

He changes, and others (courage, protection, curiosity, gentle heart, logic) continue to come and go from different times and planets, enjoying the traveling for a time, but never able to stay forever, even by their inadequate definition of the word.

For some moments, one time, she is close to almost-sisters, and knows the exact second he breaks his exile and calls for aid, though with that call they both risk more than being forced to adhere to tradition. They are all forced to return, and she sits by her sisters, newer though they may be (but without the same love coursing through them, she thinks to herself), and murmur of the turn of the universe. He fears, then, that they will not have forever by his measure either, and there is something missing in the tall form that is pushed into her before they return to Earth.

There are more of the others now, stern and affectionate toward him, often giving her only a quick glance. Late at night, sometimes, he leans against her shell and sighs, laying his fingers against the skin color the people here call blue, in the oddly imprecise language they both know so well now. There is wariness and frustration (from the shortcomings inflicted upon him that partially sever them from each other) when he steps into her now, though his fingers are just as caring as before, perhaps even more so.

He is angry when they can communicate fully again, but they are both relieved too, and they go on with time and the universe again instead of being left aside. And merrily they do go and explore the universe again, and sometimes contest against another of his kind. The others are always curious, and are stubborn or swift or protective. Some of them, she knows, he will encounter many more times, with different appearances, for part of him is used to this (approximate) time period on Earth, though she is still his home and he is her home.

The next change, in the pain it brings for both of them, mirrors the making of this form. He is afraid, and then not afraid, and then afraid mainly for her, so she nestles down gently against his mind and whispers him through it all as he curls against her unashamedly, mind and body. She lands where she had been brought before, in the primitive lab they had both come to know so well, and the others are afraid for him too, more than before.

The one of his kind was and is and will be right: this form can be quite odd, but he and she still know each other. He can be rougher with her again, but the sense of friendship, decades of caring for each other, is unchanged.

She is reminded, while he is the madcap, of just how poised and formal even the young of his kind could be, and that he is not typical. They both show the young one more of how the universe works, and that sometimes the manual needs to be thrown out (though not quite literally, she is already upset at him for tossing her manual out into space though she isn't quite sure when or where he will do it). They are both lonely when the young one leaves, for her mind and voice provided something new and the conversations with the others are not quite the same.

Still, they merrily explore and meddle for some time after that, although his forms change far more quickly than either of them wish. Their exile is more a matter of choice now (though they both rapidly lose patience with the political manipulations, neither of them is sure anymore who loses patience first), and occasionally they see the warrior, and again travel with more than one other. One form is unusually gentle, and the next is often quite unkind in his certainty of knowledge. They might argue more when he is in that form, but then again they might not.

His changes, though they have never been easy, become worse and more stressful for both of them (though at least when he is the conspirator they have fun pretending to hide things from each other). Sometimes now they travel without any others for many worlds at a time (and now the others stay with them less, when they do come along to explore), thinking affectionately of all those who have traveled with them before and hoping they might meet again. There have always been wars, but a new one starts and spreads out, vicious and ruthless, wiping out whole systems before they kindle life or even blazing fusion (she likes the blue/white/green/gold/orange glow on her shell). He is called back, though they both resist it. This war springs from many sources, not least of them his people, but he will always remember that he could have ended this enemy, that his people sent him to do it, and he always blames himself while being angry that his tendency to change things was used against him.

Eventually, they agree to go back: she knows he loves his home planet despite all his ill feelings toward it, and he knows she would aid her sisters until she can do no more.

They speak to each other all through the time of that war, though never of how long it took or what they did for the sake of their side or how much blood the wounded left in her hallways.

When it is over, they expect and yet don't expect to see any of his people or her kind again, and stumble through the universe in confusion, feeling alone except for each other, still traveling with no one else but remembering their names, when and where they were from, always thinking of Susan and Romana, of sometimes-enemies of their kind the Master and the Rani. They both remember Ian, Barbara, Steven, Victoria, Jamie, Liz, the Brigadier, Sarah Jane, Leela, Tegan, Ace, Fitz, and all the others, he asking her to remember their names well in case he cannot and they need his help (though some of them will not be seen again).

They begin traveling with others again, still from the same general time on Earth. His anger over that war seeps through to his conversations, but she scolds him gently, as friends will sometimes do and as they have done for hundreds of years. He makes her laugh inside him when he gives his 'age' to any of the others, for they both know that the length of a year is as diverse as the planets of the universe.

Some enemies come again, and he looks different again, and is gentle and rough by turns as when they were both much younger. He still feels different than before they went to war, but the core and essence of their long friendship is the same, and neither of them break through more encounters with the many enemies (a moment of traveling with a stubborn one from lifetimes ago, and fantastic, and brilliant, and very very good, defenders of the Earth, and impossible: those others fill them both briefly), and the creation and departure of his almost brother (but not quite son). When at last he crosses a line that he refused to cross lifetimes ago (he decided the right to end an enemy was not his, but now he decides he holds the right to change the timeline of his friends, as she has always known he will, so that for a moment some of the others they traveled with never existed), they argue until his voice is just a rasp and he shudders and sobs against her with memories.

She knows he is almost glad to change, for all his protests, though they both know this form had far less time than it could have (normal with him now, but neither of them like it). His next form begins a little less scarred, and though he picks up both new and old pains, he finds a great joy and then a great grief. For just a little while, she has a physical body similar to his, and stands beside him, still one of her kind but able to speak aloud what they have only murmured to each other since he laid eyes on her and she knew they would travel the universe.

The others travel and leave, less of their own free will than before she thinks sometimes, and they begin to understand why both of them were confused after that war, and think they might see others of his kind again, and even perhaps of her kind. They speak of his next change, and both hope he won't frighten the other on board. She is prepared to do her best (and this other at least knows of it, very well indeed), but it's often hard for them to understand, especially if he can barely remember himself (as with the gentle one after the eccentric).

It happens, and he can barely hear her, cannot understand why she murmurs in his head, but it is all still there. She knows him still, and he will know and understand her again, friends traveling the universe for as long as they both live, in a great spirit of adventure.
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