5. Sunrise – Zepheera enjoys something beautiful for once
AU: Donna AU of BTaS (the Doctor rescues Zepheera while Donna is traveling with him)
Warm, gentle pressure at Zepheera’s back brought her to the waking world. She nearly batted at the finger prodding at her when the Doctor whispered, “C’mon, wake up. It’s happening.”
That was enough encouragement for Zepheera. They’d spent the night out here, under an alien sky, because it was one of the simple pleasures that had never been available to the borrower. She was either too busy worrying about her survival or that of her people, or was stuck in a cage in a windowless room. Here she had friends who were concerned for her recovery, invested in her interests, and more than willing to be her safe place to fall.
Sitting up, Zepheera rubbed her eyes and looked around. Donna was still fast asleep in her own spot, and the sky above was becoming lighter by the second.
The Doctor’s hand shifted to form a platform near Zepheera, who sat on his chest while he lay on his back. She accepted the silent offer without hesitation, and the Doctor was able to sit up without sending Zepheera tumbling. Then she could take her usual perch on his shoulder.
“Any moment now…”
All of the tension from the effort of waking up melted as soon as Zepheera saw the first sliver of sunlight peeking over the horizon.
The Doctor plucked out a pair of sunglasses out of his pocket and balanced it on his shoulder so Zepheera could balance one lens on her lap to protect her eyes from the intensity of the sun without missing out on any of the beauty. Together, they watched the arrival of the sun change the colors of the sky and the clouds, a breathtaking canvas constantly in motion.
Zepheera, careful to not shift the sunglasses enough to cause them to fall, scooted herself closer to the Doctor’s neck. Part of her was grateful that he couldn’t see her tears when they were this close. It was still tough for her to be emotionally vulnerable around someone his size, and she didn’t want him to worry needlessly when he’d made her so happy.
“Thank you for this,” she said, unable to avoid the slight crack of emotion in her voice.
She could hear the smile in his voice as he whispered back, “Anytime.”