Worth the Wake

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.”

Zepheera-Vision — Please Come Out

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Zepheera’s breathing shuddered involuntarily as the ground shook beneath her.

After 158 years of living on Earth, the borrower was no stranger to what it felt like to be on the ground while humans were moving about. At least then, like most borrowers, she could sense when they were coming before the tremors got too bad.

The Doctor wasn’t human. He was a 6′1″ Time Lord who was still getting accustomed to having a four and a half inch tall companion aboard his TARDIS. And he was fast.

The red converse just flew by Zepheera, crashing into the floor inches away. She gave a shriek and hid under the nearest object with a small space underneath. The rumbling footsteps ground to a halt in the distance and slowly made their way back. Vibrations rattled Zepheera up through the floor as the Doctor dropped to his knees.

“Zepheera?”

She didn’t answer, feeling an embarrassed heat rising in her cheeks. Even though she’d spent her entire life growing accustomed to humans, even though the man out there was not only her friend but her rescuer, her time spent in captivity seemed to have reset everything that had made Zepheera who she was. All her life she had been the strong one, the one others her size could depend on. Now she felt weaker than ever, and she buried her face in her knees shamefully.

A sigh rushed out of the Doctor’s much larger lungs. “I’m so sorry,” he breathed. “I’m an idiot, I should’ve… I’ll be more careful from now on.”

More rumbles as he shifted even more. Shoulders tense, Zepheera glanced at the Doctor. What little she could see of him was pressed to the floor, his big brown eyes shining and contrite. She instantly relaxed with that soft gaze upon her. It’s just him, she reminded herself. Just the Doctor.

“Please come out,” he whispered.

With a deep steadying breath, Zepheera nodded uncurled from her tense ball, walking out of the comforting darkness and into the light.

They could work on this.


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