(The work can also be found at A Teaspoon and An Open Mind under the penname callistasshadow. http://www.whofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=5
Chapter 1: Passengers
There was a brilliant shower of blue and silver sparks from one of the consoles, bright enough to momentarily blind him, and where they landed on his skin, they burned. When his vision cleared, he was no longer alone in the control room of the TARDIS. A woman had materialized on the grating at his feet. A young and attractive woman.
She glared up at him, this little human female, and her cerulean eyes blazed. Chestnut hair…not black like Martha or blonde like Rose, but somewhere in between, with streaks of auburn fire, tumbled in loose curls around her flushed face. Her skin had an olive tone, Mediterranean or the like, and she had the delicate ears and button nose of a pixie-child. Her full lips were pursed in surprise and annoyance as she studied him from her somewhat undignified seat on the floor. He looked at her feet, then down at his own. Red plimsolls on both. How strange.
“Hello. I’m the Doctor,” he said, “Who are you?”
Her voice, when she spoke, was honey smooth and just as warm, with a light, exotic accent, “I’m Dr. Phoenix Anderson, Pleased to meet you Dr…?”
He shook his head, used to this routine by now. “Just the Doctor.”
“Ah. Where am I and where is Captain Jack?” Her gaze darted around the room, taking everything in and, surprisingly enough, she didn’t look nearly as frightened as she should have done. Considering Donna Noble’s reaction to finding herself unexpectedly inside the TARDIS, this was going rather well. Curiosity was the prevailing emotion he read on her pretty face, with a touch of wonder widening her eyes. Well, that and irritation, which he hoped wasn’t directed at him. He hadn’t done anything!
Captain Jack Harkness raced around the corner, long coat flying out behind him and already speaking, “Hey, Doc, this is…” He skidded to a halt and blinked. “Oh. Making a good first impression as always, I see.”
“Welcome aboard, Jack,” the Doctor said, not looking at him. Belatedly, he held out a hand and helped the woman to her feet. A small tingle raced up his arm when he touched her and his fingers squeezed hers reflexively. A barely perceptible flash of silver and blue bewilderment sparked in his mind. Their eyes met for a startled second before he dropped her hand and the colors vanished. The woman ducked her head and brushed determinedly at her clothes, trying to hide her confusion.
She was as small as she’d looked, the top of her head not quite reaching his shoulder, and quite nicely proportioned on the whole. The Doctor could see a generous amount of smooth skin through numerous rents in her drab, military-issue jumpsuit. There was also a decent bit of blood. He saw her surreptitiously rub her palm against her thigh, as if it itched. Sort of how his felt, actually, all tingly and scratchy, but not in a bad way. In fact, the sensation was almost familiar.
Dr. Phoenix Anderson cleared her throat. “Oi. I’m up here, if you don’t mind, gentlemen.” She wiggled her fingers next to her head. Both men started a bit guiltily and their attention jumped to her face.
Jack rubbed at the back of his neck and grinned his famous Harkness grin. His uniform was just as torn and dirty as hers. “Sorry, Fi, but you can’t blame a man for looking. You’re missing about a third of your uniform.”
“Jack, how many times have we discussed this?” She folded her arms across her rather ample chest and glowered at him ferociously. “It’s Dr. Anderson, or, if you absolutely must, Phoenix will do just fine.”
“That reminds me. Doctor, this is Dr. Phoenix Anderson, Torchwood Institute physicist and engineer. Also, my partner at the moment and, well, pretend-wife. Fi, this is the Doctor.”
“Yeah, already had introductions without you,” the Doctor told him, starting to flip switches as the TARDIS shuddered violently. He ran one hand distractedly through his thick brown hair, making it stand on end, and loosened his tie. His expression turned to one of intent concentration.
“When you asked me to come along for this assignment, Jack, I should have said no,” the woman grumbled, rubbing her eyes. The whole ship rocked and she stumbled into a support strut with a little yelp and oof of impact. Her eyes, calm up until now, became a little frantic and her mouth dropped open in surprise. She clutched the strut hard. The Doctor was only peripherally aware of her reaction as he raced around the time rotor.
“Hey! How was I supposed to know that talking to her would start a riot?” Jack demanded of his colleague. He flailed for purchase as the TARDIS pitched sideways.
“Considering you were supposed to be married, and she was practically a child, how did you not think there would be a problem?”
The Doctor began to laugh even as he worked, turning dials and throwing levers. He simply couldn’t help himself. Two sets of affronted eyes turned on him and he made every attempt to swallow his mirth, but without much success.
“Did he ever tell you about the Lotus Nebula?” the Doctor asked, still laughing.
“No, but I was with him on Apalapucia a year back, so I have a pretty good idea of how the story goes,” Dr. Anderson quipped. She put a hand on his arm and he jumped, whirling on her. No sparkles this time. “You look like you could use a hand, Doctor.”
Deciding not to look a gift horse in the mouth, as the human saying went, he started giving instructions and she followed them smoothly, asking only a few questions here and there, like when he gabbled something like ‘that thing-a-majiggy there’ at her and she didn’t know which he meant. She really was extremely capable.
Once they were safely moving within the Time Vortex again, the Doctor decided it was the perfect opportunity to get some answers. He’d been going along just fine, possibly brooding again, if he were being honest, when the TARDIS had suddenly dropped from the Vortex with a squeal of protest and grinding gears. Then these two had just materialized aboard her, accompanied by a spray of sparks, shorting wires, and a whiff of something foul. He groaned inwardly; more repairs. Well, there were always repairs and tinkering, but this just meant a lot more of the more complicated and time consuming variety. At least the smell had come with them, and not from the ship herself. He couldn’t even think of anything on board that would smell like that and was glad. It had been foul…really, really foul, like rotten eggs and spoiled milk. Jack had sheepishly explained it was a defense mechanism of the men on the planet where they’d been, one that was used in defense of their females.
But it was gone now, thank Rassilon.
Dr. Anderson sat in the jump seat, one hand resting on the console, stroking it almost fondly while the Doctor questioned Jack. His brown eyes flicked to her frequently as the two men spoke. Could she know that the ship communicated telepathically? Had the TARDIS spoken to the woman? He was going to assume, since she hadn’t started panicking, that the ship had not made her sentience known. Although, she’d had this odd look on her face when she’d touched one of the struts-
“Fi and I met just before she started working at Torchwood London,” Jack was explaining, watching the Doctor watch the doctor. “Right, Fi?”
She started and her eyes came back to the present. “Yes, that’s right. I’d just graduated from Cambridge when Torchwood took me on as a field engineer.”
“Makes you, what, twenty-nine?” the Doctor guessed, eyeing her. She didn’t look old enough to have left secondary school, let alone old enough to be a doctor of anything. Had that been a rude question? It seemed like he was always asking rude questions, or at least Martha and Donna thought them so. Rose had just smiled. This woman, however, sort of smirked at him, like she was used to such a reaction.
“Nah,” Jack answered for her. “Fi’s a genius, quite literally. IQ’s what, 200?”
“205,” she corrected.
“She started university when she was fourteen. I bought her drinks for her twenty-first birthday last week, right before we left.”
The Doctor whistled in appreciation. “Dual degrees, yeah?”
She smiled faintly. “A Ph.D. each in astrophysics and mechanical engineering, and I just finished my Master’s in Quantum Mathematics.” There wasn’t a hint of boastfulness in her voice, which was a little surprising, considering the magnitude of the accomplishments.
“Still doesn’t explain how you got here.”
“Talk to Jack about that. I was too busy running for my life.” Her supple fingers glided over the console again and her eyes turned distant as if she were listening to something not to be heard with her ears. The expression was extremely striking, especially the way her delicate dark eyebrows furrowed. Intelligent and pretty…what on earth was she doing with Jack?
“We need her,” the TARDIS hummed in his mind, “You need her.”
Before he could answer, the final occupant of the ship made her presence known. Donna Noble chose that moment to stride into the room. She stopped dead, staring at the strangers, especially Dr. Anderson. Jack stared at her with equal intensity, clearly appraising her. She ignored him.
“You didn’t tell me we were picking anyone up,” she said, carefully holding in a smile. “Friends of yours?”
“Sort of, yeah,” the Doctor replied, “Donna Noble, meet Captain Jack Harkness and Dr. Phoenix Anderson.”
“You didn’t kidnap them?” Donna arched an eyebrow and folded her arms.
“Course not! Well, not on purpose,” he muttered.
“Well, hello,” Jack greeted her. The Doctor groaned.
“Stop it, Jack!”
The man looked injured. “What, can’t I say hello to people now?”
“The way you do it? Not on board my ship you can’t.” Came the tart rejoinder.
“Oi! None of that, you.” Donna narrowed her eyes, looking at Jack the way a cat looked at a large dog. The TARDIS was not nearly big enough for this, the Doctor thought wearily.
Dr. Anderson rose to her feet and held a hand out to Donna. “Pleased to meet you, Ms. Noble. Just ignore the testosterone. I’m sure it dissipates eventually.”
“And you, Dr. Anderson.” She shook the smaller woman’s hand, “I hope you’re right, but please, call me Donna.”
“Only if you call me Phoenix.” Her smile was brilliant, revealing dimples in her cheeks. Donna smiled as she caught the appreciative quirk of the Doctor’s eyebrow. She’d never once caught him eying her body like that, which was just fine. The lack of interest had bothered Martha to no end, though.
“How come I have to call you Dr. Anderson, Fi?” Jack pouted, folding his arms.
She laughed, “You don’t call me that, now do you, Jack?”
“So what are they doing here?” Donna asked the Doctor for what felt like the hundredth time.
The two of them were alone in the console room. After introductions had been made all around, the Doctor had taken the newcomers to the infirmary and patched them up, then shown them to bedrooms. The two men had spent a good ten minutes arguing over placement, with Jack insisting on being as close to his companion as possible. The bickering had ended when the TARDIS simply took away all the other doors in the corridor. The expression on the Doctor’s face had been most gratifying.
Donna guessed their guests were asleep by now; they’d looked utterly knackered and Dr. Anderson- Phoenix- had actually fallen asleep on the exam table while the Doctor looked her over. There’d been entirely too much looking, in Donna’s opinion, for a strictly medical examination. But it was nice to see a little more life returning to the Doctor, and if it took a pretty girl to do that, then fine. Donna was actually quite pleased to have another woman aboard.
In the end, she’d almost wondered if one of the men would have to carry Phoenix to her bed. Neither acted as if they would have minded, but Phoenix had woken violently as Jack lifted her and vehemently insisted she could move under her own power. That exchange had been fun to watch.
“According to Jack, hiding,” the Doctor said, leaning against the railing. He twiddled distractedly with his sonic screwdriver. “They were on some sort of field job and got into a bit of trouble. Jack’s good at finding trouble, the best in fact, and he creates it where he doesn’t stumble upon it naturally. He claims to have some sort of ‘Doctor Detector’ and so he sort of, well, ‘beamed aboard’ as he put it. Lucky for them we were so close. That ridiculous vortex manipulator of his is rubbish and traveling without a capsule-”
“Are they staying?” Donna cut him off, her tone exasperated. His gob really never did stop running, did it? Not without a smack, at any rate.
“S’pose so.” He smiled to himself. It was a secret looking thing she’d never seen before and she’d bet five quid it had something to do with the pretty Phoenix. Randy alien git.
“But,” she protested, “if they’re from Torchwood, don’t they need to, I dunno, report back or something? What were they doing out here? Why weren’t they on Earth?”
“This wasn’t an official assignment, I gathered. Or, at least, not one for Torchwood. As for what they’re doing away from Earth… my guess? Jack was trying to impress Dr. Anderson.” He scrunched up his face in thought. “He used to be a Time Agent before things went pear-shaped and he’s got access to all sorts of alien tech. Useful knowledge for a Torchwood agent, wouldn’t you say?”
“I guess. How long are they staying?”
The Doctor shrugged. “Long as they want to. I’m not really in the habit of throwing people off the TARDIS unless they do something brilliantly stupid. Why do you ask?” His eyes narrowed as he caught the amused flicker that crossed her face.
“No reason.” She shrugged, “Bit crowded now, is all.”
He grinned. “Nah, the TARDIS has loads of space. Four passengers isn’t bad, as things go.”
Terrified, feminine screams brought him out of his doze sometime in the dead hours of the night, or what passed for night aboard the TARDIS. He’d been running on London time out of habit for ages now.
Shoving himself out of the chair he’d fallen asleep in, the Doctor raced from the library and down the corridors, following the tortured sounds. They led him towards the part of the ship he’d left his new guests in hours ago. He came around a corner to find Donna shoving open the door to the bedroom Dr. Anderson had taken and he quickly followed her inside.
The room was dark, except for the glow cast by the lamp on the nightstand. Jack knelt on the floor, fully dressed save his coat, cradling the brunette doctor in his arms. She was dressed for bed, in an electric blue tank top and matching knickers, arms and legs completely bare. The Doctor felt a momentary twinge of guilt at seeing her thus, but it vanished abruptly, to be replaced by concern as he saw her face. It was instantly clear she was asleep and dreaming violently. Her eyes roamed frantically behind her lids and strands of hair were plastered to the sides of her face and neck.
“Lights up, please,” the Doctor murmured. The brightness increased, but not to full strength.
“This is why I asked for our rooms to be close,” Jack explained tightly, looking up at them. He held the thrashing woman, gently but firmly restraining her, and winced as she cried out again. The sound was one of purest torment.
“Wake her up!” Donna barked, putting her hands over her ears and backing to the doorway.
“Can’t. You think she’s bad now? I only made the mistake of waking her once.” He cupped Phoenix’s face, pressing her head against his chest and smoothing a hand gently over her tousled hair.
“How often does she have nightmares?” the Doctor inquired.
“Most nights, I think, and every night when we’re in the field.” He jerked his head back as she clawed at his face. Fishing into a pants pocket, Jack withdrew a small syringe loaded with a greenish fluid.
“What’s that?” Donna asked him, trying to read the label.
“Sedative. Only thing I’ve ever found that quiets her.” He flipped the cap off with his thumb and grabbed her arm, pinning it against his thigh.
“Let me try,” the Doctor offered, kneeling in front of them.
“I wouldn’t if I were you,” Jack cautioned him.
“Classic signs of psychic damage, this. She needs help, Jack, and I might be able to do something for her.” He held out his arms impatiently. “Give her here.”
“Don’t say I didn’t warn you.” The Captain gently transferred Phoenix into the Doctor’s embrace and to their surprise, she quieted. He cupped the sides of her face in both hands and leaned his forehead against hers, eyes closed. They immediately flew open again, but he wasn’t seeing the room around him any longer. Her eyes blinked open a moment later, and were just as unfocused and faraway. Both of them looked horrified.
Screams of terror. Chaos, destruction, panic. Bolts of light, shadows, metal men shooting across the sky. People running, fighting, dying by the dozens. The charm of Canary Wharf is lost in fire.
Warmth on her hands. Blood; hot and sticky and smelling of iron. So, so much blood. A face, a man’s face, her brother’s face twisting in his final death throes. A cauterized hole gapes in one side of his chest, right below where his medals should have been. His RAF uniform is in tatters.
“I’ve got you, Ben.” Fear, heavy and bitter, rises like bile in her throat.
“Phoenix? Phoenix!” His voice is hoarse, ragged from screaming for her, but the panic is clear. Crimson streams from his nose and the corner of his open mouth as he chokes on her name.
He doesn’t even know she’s here and he’s crying now, reaching blindly. She catches his hand and presses it, despite the dirt and soot, to her cheek and her own tears trace a path through the grime. Two drops of moisture, tinged faintly pink by his blood or hers, drop into his open mouth.
“Love…you,” he gasps, then shudders, groans once, and falls still.
Her world disintegrates.
Oh, but the horror isn’t over. She feels heavy hands on her shoulders.
Furious crimson, indigo despair, sickly yellow flood his mind, overwhelming his shields even as he raises them and he is drawn in again. To his dismay, the scenery has changed to something much more familiar.
The sky is filled with streaks of flame and the golden trees blaze like torches. A rain of devastation pours into the peaceful, beautiful valley and the atmosphere is a howling, molten void. The twin moons have long since disappeared.
With a sound louder than all creation, the first crack appears in the shimmering dome, then a second, and a third, and a dozen more. It shatters, falling into the magnificent Citadel of the Time Lords, crushing the beautiful buildings and the people within. Destruction rains down and the shrieks of the trapped and dying assault his ears.
He tries to close his eyes, turn his face away, but he can’t. This is a dream, a nightmare, he knows it is, but even so he can smell the acrid smoke, feel the heat, hear the screams. His own voice, then, whimpering pathetically.
Too much, too much! The Daleks survived while Gallifrey fell. It was all for nothing. They died and it was his fault-
He gasped and blinked. Phoenix was looking back at him and she was crying. After a second he realized, so was he.
“I’m sorry. I tried to tell you,” Jack whispered, “Doctor, she’s a telepath.”
The Doctor could only stare. He didn’t know her, she didn’t know him, and it seemed an ugly twist of fate that, in less than a day, their potential for friendship had been so horribly altered. The universe had a sick sense of humor and she was infinitely cruel. He’d sensed in Phoenix’s mind, and she in his, that they’d just been made witness to the single event that had destroyed what they were, what they could have been and being so forcibly bared before a stranger was…there were no words for it, really. Events and memories that had never been shared with another were now indelibly burned into minds they didn’t know. It was a violation akin to rape, though neither was to blame.
Without a word, the Doctor staggered to his feet and fled. He needed to put as much distance between himself and the broken angel in the blue knickers as he could manage. But run as he might, he knew, deep down in that part of himself he tried to shut out whenever possible, that there would be no escape from this, from her.
You need her. Yeah, like he needed a bullet to the head.
Or the blood in his veins.