Don't cry emo Time Lord... Wow this got a little angsty! (but then, given the guest star, it probably had to...)
Title: His Constant Companion
Author: Shona (aka Mara)
Disclaimer: None of these characters are mine, you know that right? I'm just playing in other peoples' sandboxes.
Series: Close Encounters of the Tenth Kind - 2/10
Characters: The Doctor (Ten), Death of the Endless
Archive: My site, LJ, A Teaspoon and an Open Mind - anywhere else, just ask!
He couldn't shake the feeling that someone was watching him even though all reason said there was nobody there. A smile flashed across his face as he heard his own voice echo in his head, 'you don't want to listen to reason'. Being observed like this was… disconcerting to say the least and he found himself turning quickly and at random in an attempt to catch out whoever it was.
It never worked and before long he found that everywhere he went people would edge away nervously from this unpredictable stranger. He found it mildly amusing at first but then - as his paranoia grew to ridiculous levels - he grew more irritated than amused.
The worst part about it was that the feeling of being observed was omnipresent no matter where - or when - he went. He was beginning to wonder if this prolonged period of solitude was exactly healthy. His current incarnation especially seemed to have a rather abstract fear of loneliness, which was more than a little ironic when the facts were considered. Perhaps this paranoia was just his mind's way of telling him to seek out companionship again. Perhaps that's why he continually found himself returning to Earth, just to wander the streets amid the humans. Such an odd species, so sure of their status as lords and masters of all they saw, even when faced with their obvious failings they refused to accept the truth. They were as children compared to most species and yet he found himself constantly watching them and marvelling as they took their faltering steps through evolution.
A shiver ran down his spine as he recognised the parallels between his thought process and the fact that some superior being could be watching him. It wasn't possible, he knew that, he refused to believe that there were superior beings out there and in that thought he recognised a very human arrogance. Had he spent too long amongst them?
He was wandering through London again, he felt oddly comfortable in the city no matter the year, it had almost been like a home for a while - before the restless traveller had taken over once again and he'd left it far behind. If he could be bothered he supposed that impulse would make for an interesting case study, but what would be the point? No one apart from him would care enough to read it anyway.
As he wandered, he gradually became aware that he was growing hungry. Which no doubt explained his salivary glands' reaction when he happened past a Harry Ramsden's takeaway shop. He almost went in, had his hand on the door in fact, before he remembered he had no money to pay for anything. Yet one more reason he should find someone to travel with, he reasoned.
He continued on, trying not to notice the wave of amusement that his lack of finance versus hunger seemed to have inspired in the unseen audience. Strange how quickly he'd gone from suspecting someone - or some thing - was there to accepting that presence outright. It was almost comforting.
Pedestrian traffic around him was picking up as people began to make the transition from working day to what they laughingly called 'free time'. The volume of people on the streets was no doubt a result of the balmy autumn evening, and he found himself being jostled as he made his way down the street. Truth be told, he wasn't exactly paying attention to where he was going so it was hardly surprising that he was being pushed from pillar to post like this - people were always in such a rush it seemed. Even when there was no need they rushed from place to place, heads down, not making eye contact, each of them the centre of their own private universe, each of them ultimately alone.
Again the shiver of recognition played across his skin and he stepped away from the flow of those eager to leave the crowd behind and isolate themselves in their homes, alone with their little lives. The mirror they were holding up was not one he particularly wanted to see right now.
As he found his way into a park he wondered where this sudden melancholy had come from. Live long enough and you might be forgiven for believing you'd seen it all. But then once in a while life threw you for a loop and you ended up wandering the streets of a foreign city wondering just how you got there and why.
He sat on the side of a large stone fountain laughing a little. He was far too old to be having an identity crisis.
All around him there were people - humans - doing the kind of things that they were wont to do in parks. There were a lot of overweight pigeons, he noticed, along with young men playing football and couples walking hand in hand. And a girl. Watching him.
He sat back a little and tilted his head to one side as he watched her approach. There was something not quite… right about her. Her skin was almost unnaturally pale and the contrast between her face and her ultra-black hair was shocking. Dressed all in black it would have been easy to dismiss her as a wannabe-Goth, but something about the confidence she exuded, the smirk on her face belied that.
"You've been following me." He commented matter-of-factly as she stopped in front of him.
She laughed lightly and stretched her arms high above her head, clasping her hands together at the apex, "Always." She acknowledged.
She shrugged and moved to sit next to him on the stone ledge. "You're intriguing."
He frowned a little, "Well, yes in a way, but… how? You've been watching, everywhere I go there you are, but that's just not possible unless…" He looked round to see her smirking at him. "You're not exactly human, are you?"
"You're one to talk."
"But this is 2006, there aren't any aliens in London. Well, not yet anyway. So… who are you then, and what are you?" As he spoke he searched his memory for any possible explanation of who she might be but was drawing a blank.
"Well, put it this way, everyone sees me but most don't want to - not really. I'm what you might call an anthropomorphic personification."
His eyes tracked over her, her outward appearance was that of a normal young woman, but then… he spotted the pendant she wore on a long chain around her neck - the Egyptian symbol for life - and his eyes widened in shock as recognition dawned.
She grinned, "Oh don't look like that, I'm not exactly here on business. Not right now anyway."
"So why are you here then? Why have you been following me?" The challenge in his voice was born purely from fear, an interesting emotion and one he had long thought he was beyond feeling for himself. Fear for others yes, but for himself? It had obviously been far too long.
"Human beings are designed to be social animals you know, being alone is really - for want of a better word - alien. Humans need companionship."
He scratched his ear, an odd habit he'd picked up in this body, "Well, we've already established neither of us really falls into that category. You didn't answer my question."
She pulled her legs up until she was seated in a lotus position, "Spend long enough in their company and you pick up their traits. I should know, anthropomorphic personification remember?" She leaned towards him and lowered her voice. "Face it, Doctor, you're more 'human' than you want to admit."
He barked out a laugh until he saw from her expression she was serious. "No, no, no, no. No. Not that there's anything wrong with humans - amazing race, so stubborn and determined - but just… no."
She was still grinning, "If you say so. Question is then, why come here? You can go anywhere you want and yet you keep coming back here. To Earth, to humans. It's not just force of habit is it? You just keep on coming back here because they are so fascinating, because they're something you're not."
He tilted his head to the side again; it was an odd sensation to be talking to someone like this. He didn't for a moment think she was right, he had no desire to be more like a human, but she did have a point. Something did keep drawing him back here.
"So you have a suggestion then?"
She nodded, "Show someone the stars."
He blinked, "What?"
"You heard me. Find someone and show him or her how clever you think you are. Impress them, mentor them, blow their minds, whatever. Just let someone in. And show them the stars. Deny the human influence all you want, but recognise that you need someone around. You'll go mad otherwise, and that's something no one needs. You, insane."
"Are you looking for an invite?" He asked, knowing she was making a lot of sense but still reticent to admit it, although hadn't he just been thinking about how being alone wasn't really for him any longer?
"Me? I've seen stars being born, burning bright and fading. You need someone to impress and - no offence - there's nothing you could show me that I've not already seen." She smiled again, "Besides, I've got a job to do."
"So is this agony aunt gig a hobby for you or something?"
She laughed again and tossed her hair, "Well I don't make a habit of it or anything, just decided that it was either this or smack you round the head 'till you saw sense. So have you? Seen sense that is? Or do I have to get violent?"
He grinned back, "Nah, I get your point. Just one thing, you still didn't answer my question. You've been following me, watching me, why?"
Her smile faded, "It's what I do. There's always work for me when you're around." She stood abruptly and stretched again. "Gotta go, got one more job to do before I hand in my agony aunt credentials. Now, stop with the emo already and find yourself a new friend. 'kay?" The grin flashed back onto her face and she was gone before he could say anything.
He turned to watch her and saw her glance back in his direction. Nodding to her he gave a mock salute and watched her approach someone seated on the other side of the fountain. The Doctor stood and walked away without turning back. He marvelled a little at how much lighter his step was now. As if a weight had lifted. He fished in his pocket for the TARDIS key and smirked at the irony of the situation. Maybe it really did take facing Death to make him appreciate life.