Rose, Martha, Donna, Amy and Rory.
You stumble back from the TARDIS controls. You are alone in the dark, and now you’re shaking. Your eyes bulge and you collapse with a scream.
He felt ashamed. He always did when something happened to his companions, but it hadn’t hurt this bad since…since…
You had seen and felt every emotion of the companions when you touched the control dais. It had overwhelmed your senses so much that your brain shut down.
Your head now lays in his lap, hair splayed across the floor. He pushes his fingers into your hair as his palm cups your face.
He whispers, “I’m so sorry, my little larkling.”
“You’re immortal…but you’re going to die?” Your brow raises skeptically.
The Doctor frowns, realizing he couldn’t explain a Time Lord’s lifespan very well. “Not dying, really…This body goes but I’m still me!”
“So you’re reborn?” Suddenly you gasp, your hands covering your mouth as you began to bounce slightly with excitement. “Are you a Phoenix!?”
The TARDIS roars to life when the Doctor’s forehead collides with the monitor. It may have been your imagination, but you thought it sounded agitated.
By this point you had met the Ood and the Slitheen, seen humanoids that could shoot fireballs, and humans with special powers.
You frown at yourself in the mirror of your little vanity. It was decorated with Polaroids of you and The Doctor: Eating sushi on the peak of Mount Fuji, attending a chariot race in Ancient Greece. All these amazing things you had done, but you were only human. You had no special ability, you couldn’t shoot fire from your palms.
With a sigh you stand and cross to your bed, where your mandolin case sits open. You pick up the instrument, and slide your fingers along the neck as you admire her mahogany finish.
Even if you couldn’t shoot fire, you could still make her sing.
The Doctor is confused. Something is off, but what?
He looks around the TARDIS’s control room. “Hmm…”
Where were you? Were you not always at the controls while in flight, obsessively trying to understand some rhyme or reason in his piloting?
He finds you in an empty room, sitting on the floor trying to sort your thoughts. Neither of you speak at first.
“Want this as a bedroom?”
You look up, spirits lifting. You nod with a growing smile. A bedroom suggests permanence, and you never want to leave.
“She won’t talk to anyone, she won’t eat. We’re at a loss.”
You could hear them outside your door. You could still hear, you thought to shout at them, but the words stuck in your throat.
“What did she see that day?”
The nun sighed, almost contemptuously so.
“What she claims is impossible. Angels attacking? Her mother committed suicide after locking her in a closet. She’s traumatic.”
There was silence. You leered out the window at the courtyard, watching the other girls - the other orphans - playing on the playsets and swings.
“Can I try to talk to her?”
“By all means, Doctor.”
The door to your simple bedroom opened and then closed. You didn’t even twitch as the tall, thin man moved the chair from the little desk to sit directly in front of you. He wore glasses.
You leered into his eyes, but the intense kindness there caused you to falter.
“I’m John Smith, the Doctor,” he said, “and I believe you.”
You were silent. Then: “The Sisters say I must ‘play my part in society’.”
He smiled infectiously. “Nah. You must be you.”
You couldn’t understand. Where were you? It was dark, you could feel all three walls and the door without reaching out far, but the door was locked. You had already tried banging on it and yelling.
Where was momma? Why hadn’t she come back yet? Your fear subsided to your brief anger in which you thought, “I’m only five! I need her!”
There was a shot, a heavy thud, and then silence. You cried out again, but this time the door was yanked off its hinges. The sudden light momentarily blinds you, and when its clear again you shrieked, falling back into the wall. The angel statue in front of you is poised in striking position, its face fearsome and splattered with fresh blood.
Your fingers lift and press the strings of the fretboard deftly, your right hand strums a quick and jiggy rhythm, and then your fingers tangle and the tune is thrown off by a bad chord.
“No no no, like this, lass.” You watched intently as the man begins to play the song again, but slow so you can see each movement clearly.
You’re so engaged in your lesson that you don’t hear the Doctor’s shout until it’s too late. The table that you sit at with the 17th century Irishman is suddenly lifted and thrown as two brawny drunks fight.
“HEY! Trying to get a mandolin lesson over here!” you shout.
Note to self: Beer in the face feels and smells awful, especially when its already been in someone’s mouth.
“This way!” calls the Doctor.
You turn to look down the corridor he’s chosen and remain where you are. “But they went that way!” you insist, pointing in the opposite direction.
He presses a button on his sonic screwdriver, causing the tip to glow bright green. What you had assumed to be a wall behind him instantaneously splits down the middle and retracts, opening a new pathway.
“A shortcut!” His smile is wide with childish pride. You can’t stop a small smile of your own as you jog to join him.
You step over the threshold together and the door snaps shut behind you, making you nearly jump from your own skin.
“Oh…That’s not right…” says the Doctor to himself and you turn to look where he is.
Spreading out below you was not, in fact, a shortcut but instead the most gigantic, sprawling maze you had ever seen, even in movies.
The Doctor’s smile was sheepish under your intense glare.
It wasn’t just when one of the Sisters were angry at you that you sought Dr. Smith’s company. He only saw after those in the orphanage, so he was never too busy for you. (If he was busy he would still make time to just chat with you, especially about senseless things.) You’d sit on the edge of his desk and chatter about your pranks and escapades with the Sisters. (You didn’t get along with the other girls - they always turned up their noses.) His door was always open.
That’s why you were confused when one day you found his door closed. You stood for a moment staring up at the frosted window. ‘Dr. John Smith’ was printed in capital block letters, black and professional.
Gripping the door handle, you hesitated before opening the door just enough that you could stick your head around.
He was sitting at his desk with his head in his hands. His shoulders were slumped, and he wasn’t wearing his usual white lab coat but a pinstripe suit instead. The only light in the room came from his desk lamp.
You quietly stepped into the office and eased the door shut. As you walked slowly up to him his shoulders twitched, but he didn’t lift his head; not until you whispered, “Doctor?”
He didn’t respond right away. Lifting his head slowly, he carefully placed his glasses back on his nose and then turned to you with a weak smile. “Hello, little larkling. Have you terrorized any of the Sisters today?”
You ignored the question because it was a ploy - his smile didn’t reach his eyes today, and when you looked into them you could see that he was far away; far in a place that was causing him pain.
There wasn’t anything you could possibly say, and you were still only a kid, you probably wouldn’t understand.
So, you remained silent as you crawled into his lap. Your arms could almost wrap all the way around him. Pressing your cheek to his chest you hugged him with all your might.
His arms wrapped around you and one hand came to rest on your head. Your grip didn’t loosen until you heard him chuckle affectionately.
Then you only smiled, finding peace in the unique rhythm of his heart.
One moment you’re talking excitedly with the Doctor to decide where to go next, then -
Your mind is bombarded with images, cutting in and out so quickly that you can’t keep up. They come at a higher frequency until you scream, grabbing your temples and collapsing to your knees.
“Larkling!” the Doctor cries but it’s as though you’re underwater and cannot hear a thing. You feel warm hands grip your shoulders and you lift your head to face him.
You’re shivering from cold sweat, your eyes are wide and your pupils retracted to the tiniest of pinpricks.
“Are you okay?” asks the Time Lord quietly, lifting a hand to press against your pale cheek. You lean into his touch, taking comfort in his familiarity.
“I saw angels…” you whisper, “and my mother.”