[Spoilers for the climax of ‘Midnight’. Prepare for angst. You’ve been warned.]
All eyes turned to Zepheera. She had been relatively quiet the entire trip, taking all the Doctor’s warnings to heart. Unless she had something that needed saying she simply observed, and when she did speak it was either to or in defense of the Doctor. Now, with her cheeks streaked with angry tears, it was finally her turn to shout.
“No one is throwing anybody off this truck, especially not him! Can’t you see he’s the victim in all this? I guess not, since the last thing you want to do is help him when he needs it the most! The charity of the human race!”
“The little one…” Sky mused, cutting off Zepheera’s tirade.
“The little one…” the Doctor repeated beyond his own control.
“She’s like his pet.” “She’s like his pet.” “So loyal…and foolish.” “So loyal…and foolish.” “Poor dear, thinks the Doctor is a good man…” “Poor dear, thinks the Doctor is a good man…” “And can’t understand what’s happened to him.” “And can’t understand what’s happened to him.”
“That’s it, he’s brainwashed the little thing!” Biff Cane asserted.
“She’s not a thing!” cried Dee Dee, the student, in Zepheera’s defense.
“That’s enough, Dee Dee,” the professor barked at his assistant. “It’s only a logical assumption. With a brain mass such as hers, she’s bound to be, shall we say, impressionable,” he surmised, addressing the whole company.
“I reckon she’s working with him,” Cane intoned, pointing at Zepheera accusingly. “He’s probably trained her up to believe him, do whatever he says! They’ve been in cahoots the whole time!”
“Don’t be stupid, I am not brainwashed! I am four times your age and perfectly capable of thinking on my own! Unlike some!”
“You listen here, you little–!”
“Dad, leave her alone!” Jethro Cane interjected, the dark broody teenager staring down his father.
“That’s how he does it.” “That’s how he does it.” “He makes you fight…” “He makes you fight…” “Creeps into your head…” “Creeps into your head…” “And whispers…” “And whispers…” “Listen…” “Listen…” “Just listen…” “Just listen…”
Zepheera was listening, and each word Sky made the Doctor say broke her heart a little more.
“That’s him.” “That’s him.”
With each repetition, the Time Lord’s jaw clenched a little harder, the tremors that seized his body worsened and his eyes brimmed with tears. The Doctor was fighting it, but he was losing.
The hopelessness of the situation hit Zepheera like a train and she fell to her knees, tears welling up in her eyes. Why do I have to be so damn USELESS??
“I’m sorry,” she sobbed, praying the Doctor could still hear her. “I tried, they won’t listen, I’m sorry. Sorry, sorry…”