Helping Hands — Part 1/3

Prompt from @neonthebright: The Doctor drops/misplaces his sonic somewhere he can’t reach and Zepheera goes on a mini-adventure to retrieve it for him.

BTaS Canon: No – DonnaAU

Timeline: Post-Midnight, Pre-Turn Left

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3


Zepheera woke up feeling annoyed. She stirred under her light covers and gave a sleepy murmur as she blinked blearily, frowning at the ceiling in confusion. If the sluggish state of her mind was  anything to go by, she hadn’t gotten her full eight hours. What could have possibly–?

Knock knock knock knock!

“Zepheera!”

The borrower in question heaved a sigh. “You’ve gotta be kidding me,” she groaned.

The Doctor continued to knock and call her name, so Zepheera gave in and kicked off the blanket with a grumble. Rolling out of bed, she stumbled toward the exit to her hidden home.

The Time Lord had happened upon four-and-a-half-inch-tall Zepheera in the possession of scientists, trapped in a tank and pumped full of drugs. He rescued her, revived her, gave her a place on his ship and offered her the chance of a lifetime: to see the universe.

After over a century and a half of more of the same, and sometimes worse, nothing could have made Zepheera happier.

In the year that followed, she grew close to the Doctor and his human companion, Donna. They traveled together, ran together, and fought to rescue alien civilizations together. Despite their size difference, the three of them actually made a brilliant team. For instance, the Doctor carried knowledge from across the universe, Donna’s cleverness cropped up in unexpected places, and Zepheera could always find her way into places they couldn’t reach. In their downtime, the larger of the travelers were perfectly comfortable with Zepheera carrying on the lifestyle of her people.

She borrowed from them, scavenging materials from the virtually infinite number of rooms in the TARDIS, and over time she’d put together a humble home hidden behind the wall panels.

She liked to believe that she’d come across the loose panel that was now the entrance to her house entirely on her own, but sometimes she suspected that the Doctor had loosened it for her to find when she wasn’t looking. Either way, he and Donna were both aware of her base’s location in case they needed to find her in an emergency.

Rude awakenings like the one Zepheera was recovering from made her regret that decision.

“Alright, alright, I’m coming!” she called. That silenced the Doctor’s knocks at least. Careful to avoid the few borrowings she left lying around, she squeezed through the gap that led to the corridor and squinted up at her giant friend.

“I. Was. Asleep,” she pronounced, shading her eyes as she tilted her head back to meet his gaze. Luckily, he was kneeling, so she didn’t have to look far. Zepheera’s annoyance softened when she noticed the Doctor wringing his hands and looking quite distressed. “What’s wrong?”

The Doctor blinked. “Ah. Yes, well, y’see, the thing is… Well, what happened was, I was, er, I guess you could say tuning up things in the console room; it’s a bit more complicated than that – okay, much more complicated than that – but anyway, I digress–”

“If you could get to the point, please,” Zepheera pressed, quickly losing patience.

“Right, of course,” the Doctor nodded with a steadying breath. “Long story short, I kinda, sort of…dropped my sonic.”

Zepheera shot him a flat look. “And you woke me up because…?”

“Well, I need your help to get it back.”

She scowled. “Why me? Can’t you bother Donna to–”

“I was working in the space underneath the console,” clarified the Doctor. “It slipped out of my grasp and fell into a nook I can’t reach into. I’m, heh, a bit too big.” He chuckled sheepishly, scratching the back of his head.

As irritated as she was, Zepheera could never stay mad at the Doctor for long. With an exaggerated eye roll, she sighed in defeat. “Fine. Just give me a minute.”

Without waiting for the Doctor’s response, she went back inside to change from her sleep clothes into an outfit more suitable for borrowing. She slipped on her boots and almost grabbed her bag before remembering she wouldn’t be needing it. Instead, she tossed her grappling hook and coiled rope over her shoulder, giving her dark, sleep-tousled bob a quick comb-through with her fingers before returning to the corridor. The Doctor’s upturned hand was waiting for her, along with his grateful smile.

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Midnight – Epilogue

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Midnight | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4


Four hours there and four hours back. Like a school trip, Donna had called it. Such a duration was the main reason Donna had chosen to sunbathe in the Midnight Leisure Palace rather than accompany the Doctor and Zepheera on their little field trip to the Sapphire Waterfall.

Only two months since the borrower had joined their travels in the TARDIS, after the Doctor rescued her from a terrible circumstance, and Zepheera was already willing to spend the next eight hours locked in a box with several unknown humans. All for what would probably amount to fifteen minutes of a pretty view. Donna had to admit it was a rather brave decision for someone less than five inches tall.

Then again, she supposed Zepheera could have agreed to go because the Doctor would be there, and he was going because

Zepheera was gonna keep him company. Go figure.

Four hours later, the pool was still empty, apart from Donna in her robe and long chair. A few people had come and gone, but she paid them no mind. In fact, she didn’t think much of it when another set of footsteps echoed from the entrance hallway. Then she remembered that all the others who visited the pool had either been rowdy family groups or extra-friendly individuals chatting up the quiet staff. The silence of this person’s approach piqued Donna’s interest enough to open her eyes and turn to look.

She gasped and sat bolt upright at the sight of the Doctor rounding the corner, his long overcoat draped over one arm. It was much too early for their return. Something was wrong, she just knew it; everything about him threw up red flags in Donna’s mind, from his stony expression to his somber gait. Full of concern, she got up and approached him slowly.

When she got close enough, her breath caught at Zepheera’s notable absence from his shoulder. The Doctor shook his head when he saw the worry in Donna’s eyes, and he nodded toward his left shoulder. Now that she was closer, Donna could detect the slightest raise in the Doctor’s loosened collar on that side. Miniscule fingers curled around the edge of the fabric as the borrower underneath, partially illuminated by the potent x-tonic light, peeked warily out at Donna.

Donna’s heart sank. Zepheera hadn’t acted like this around her since before they’d gotten to know each other as close friends, and she’d never known the Doctor to be so quiet.

Something happened.

Finding out what would have to wait. For now, Donna’s friends were hurting and needed her comfort. Without a word, she pulled the Doctor into a tight hug, careful to avoid his left shoulder.

It took a moment, but the Doctor eventually hugged her back. A minute later, Donna felt the tiniest of weights dropping onto her own shoulder. A wave of relief swept over her as Zepheera nestled into the soft fabric of the robe near her neck. Whatever happened out there, it hadn’t affected any of the progress between the odd pair of women.

“Alright,” she mumbled into the Doctor’s shoulder, warning them both that she was about to pull away. Meeting his dark gaze only filled Donna with determination. “Tell me everything.”

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The Stranger

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 2.5 | Part 3


Zepheera leaned wearily against the clear acrylic that made up the opening of her kennel. She, the other borrowers, and the rats had all been kept in this large structure made up of dozens of small cubby-like containers, each about the size of a shoebox.

Though, Zepheera supposed now it was just her and the rats.

Each had a secure lock system, and the front hatches thankfully had a few air holes drilled into them. The rest of the walls were opaque, isolating each specimen thoroughly. She couldn’t see the rats she heard scratching futilely at their own walls. Even clean of drugs, Zepheera had given up on escape long ago.

The room was empty, so Zepheera had nothing to look at other than her own hand as it traced the tiny air hole nearby. It was too small for her to reach through, though she’d tried. She’d nearly broken her hand in the process, she recalled distantly. Even the memory of pain couldn’t evoke any emotion in her.

With a loud smash of the door, several human scientists burst into the room. Zepheera blinked slowly as she lifted her head to look at them. They were frantic, screaming and yelling things that couldn’t quite make it into her prison at such a distance.

They were followed by what Zepheera could only describe as metal men. Five entered, one for each scientist, stomping in time. Their soulless black eyes completely disregarded the unit that held Zepheera and the rats.

The metal men spoke in deep, cold voices, but she couldn’t process what they were saying. In short order, they cornered the scientists and touched them with outstretched silver hands.  The humans’ bodies succumbed to the electricity shooting through them, and they fell dead the instant they were let go.

Zepheera didn’t even have the capacity to react.

The silver intruders spoke among themselves, but Zepheera couldn’t hear what they were saying. She numbly crawled closer to the air holes, some deep part of her aware that it was important to know what exactly was going on.

“Oi, metalheads!” roared a new voice from the direction of the door. Zepheera calmly turned her head to look, finding a strange-looking man filling the doorway. He wore a brown pinstriped suit with red converse, a style of shoe Zepheera had thought to be long out of style. He was thin as a matchstick and had hair so unruly it could almost be dubbed rebellious. His eyes were wild with adrenaline, aimed solidly at the intruders. “Have you had your shots? Seems to me like you’re due for a booster!

He hurled a small cylindrical device at the metal men, and it stuck fast right dab in the middle of one’s chest. They all screamed as a massive field of energy surrounded them, and just like the humans before them, they collapsed one by one.

Without missing a beat, the man crossed the room quickly, examining the bodies of the scientists. He sighed when they all turned up dead. Then he stepped over to one of the metal creatures, prying his device off of its chest. He raised a small tool – a probe, it looked like – and activated the charge once again.

His eyes scanned the room as he pocketed the device, passing right over Zepheera before returning in a double take.

“What?” he frowned and walked carefully over.

The most Zepheera was able to react was a slight raise of her eyebrows. By all accounts, she should be scared out of her wits. She’d just watched this man presumably kill a bunch of silver nightmares who had murdered humans moments before. She couldn’t even begin to think what this man could have in store for someone like her, even if she were in a right state of mind.

To her nonexistent surprise, he simply leaned down and peered in at the borrower, concern etched in his features.

“Oh, you poor soul, what have they done to you?”

Zepheera blinked slowly at him.

He clenched his jaw in determination and attempted to open the hatch by hand. She knew he couldn’t do it that way, there were higher levels of security for the test subjects to eliminate chance of escape. Even so, his proximity to her awoke the instincts that had been drilled into her since childhood, and she backed away from him at a sluggish pace.

Abandoning that strategy, the stranger whipped out his probe, buzzing it at the lock. It released and the door swung open. She froze when he reached a hand in, laying it palm-up next to Zepheera.

“Come with me,” he urged, pleading with those big brown eyes.

She stared at his hand for a second, but made no move toward or away from it. The man blinked in confusion at her non-reaction and tried again. “Don’t be afraid, I’m not gonna hurt–”

Before he could finish, more ominous stomping could be heard in the hallway outside. The man glanced between the borrower and the door, conflicted for a moment. Finally, he turned an apologetic look to Zepheera.

“I’m so sorry, there’s no time.” That said, the hand shifted to scoop up the four and a half inch tall woman into its cupped palm.


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Stuck in the Middle

BTaS Canon: No
Episode: Day of the Doctor
Doctor(s): Tenth, Eleventh, and War Doctors
Companions: Zepheera

Previously


Zepheera had resigned herself to keep quiet while the two most recent incarnations of the Doctor rode out the novelty of being together with their four and a half inch tall companion. Ten, who hadn’t met Zepheera yet in his timeline, kept trying to surreptitiously learn about what was in store for him and the borrower. She or Eleven, depending on who spoke first, would always answer these types of questions with the word “Spoilers,” and Ten would moan about how the timelines were “too wibbly and I won’t remember anyway!” This only earned him a shrug and elicited a short-lived pout.

Zepheera hadn’t realized how much she had missed that pout.

Eventually the youngest incarnation of the Doctor insisted that they should be making some progress with the whole Zygon-invasion-and-painting-of-Gallifrey problem. The other two conceded and stood in unison. Zepheera got to her feet as well, throwing her single-strapped rucksack over her shoulder.

She turned to find two upturned hands in front of her, both acting as platform for her to climb on. When she looked up, the Doctors were staring each other down.

“Back off, Sandshoes!” hissed the Eleventh Doctor, nudging his counterpart away. “She’s not your companion yet!”

“Exactly! You can spend all the time you like with her, and I wanna know what I have to look forward to! I’m dying for a sneak peek.” Ten exclaimed.

Zepheera bit back a cringe at his phrasing.

Eleven shot back, “You haven’t met her yet. She hasn’t had time to properly train you up.”

“Oh, come on, you know she’s not the first life form her size I’ve encountered!”

“Well it’s different when you live with one, and take it from me who took it from her, you are a shrugger!”

This took the Tenth Doctor aback. He glanced between his future self and his future companion. “I am?” he asked, sounding subdued.

Eleven nodded emphatically. “And a fidgeter.”

“Oh, for God’s sake!” sighed the War Doctor, waiting semi-patiently as the other two squabbled. “You fools are arguing over the lady as though she isn’t here! If anyone’s going to decide who she goes along with, it should be her.”

Ten and Eleven shared a sheepish look and nodded, mumbling apologies to Zepheera. They stood quietly, waiting for the borrower to make her choice.

Zepheera smiled gratefully at the War Doctor, who nodded once in return. He was an enigmatic one, that much was certain, but he seemed just as sweet and caring as the Doctors she knew and loved. She made a mental note to find some time alone with him later, sit down and get to know the Doctor before she knew him.

But for now, she had a decision to make. After a short moment of deliberation, she took a deep breath and approached Eleven. He clapped his hands triumphantly before offering her one to climb onto. Ten sighed but accepted Zepheera’s choice. As Eleven lifted her to his shoulder, she shot Ten an apologetic look.

“You are fidgety. And a shrugger,” she admitted. Ten nodded, barely suppressing a pout at Eleven’s smug look.

A small smirk tugged at Zepheera’s lip. “To your credit, though, you did train up faster than this one.”

Ten snorted and Eleven’s jaw dropped in indignation. “Oh, thanks a lot there, pipsqueak! Let’s just go already.”

“Finally,” muttered the War Doctor.

As they were leaving, Ten crept up behind Eleven and softly asked Zepheera, “How on Earth do you even stay up there with, y’know…” He rubbed his chin, raising a questioning eyebrow at the small woman.

“He slouches,” hissed Zepheera in reply, twisting around to wink conspiratorially at Ten.

“Oh, leave off, you two!” grumbled Eleven.

Ten smirked. “I have a feeling I like you, Zepheera.”

“I should hope so,” she said, facing front again before he could catch the hint of sadness that made it into her smile and eyes.

I’ve missed you.


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