Borrowed Magic Excerpt

“So close!” he groused as he turned to jog back to the TARDIS. They had a lock on the signal, so finding it again would be easy. But that was the last thing on Zepheera’s mind.

“Doctor?” she piped up, making an effort to keep her voice steady in spite of the worry coursing through her entire being.

“There’s something I should tell you…”

Borrowed Magic Excerpt

Admittedly, Zepheera had gotten a little sidetracked. The borrower had resisted all the other distractions the forest had to offer, but this was different. A flash of green zooming past in the distance, moving much too fast to be a bird. She followed its path curiously while the Doctor carried on, muttering to himself.

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Helping Hands — Part 3/3

((aka Happy Belated Hug A Tiny Day!))

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


The Doctor couldn’t keep still as he waited for Zepheera. She was so close to retrieving his sonic screwdriver from the underbelly of his TARDIS, something he would never have been able to do without either an unthinkable amount of effort or a four-and-a-half inch tall companion.

“How’s it coming?” he called down  the gap, excited and impatient in equal measure. He hadn’t heard her voice in a little over two minutes, and he was eager to know the current state of his beloved screwdriver. He wished he could see into the hole he’d dropped the device into in the first place.

A small grunt echoed down from the shadows, a little closer than the last time Zepheera had filled him in. “Had to dislodge it from between two…I don’t even know. Things. Then I had to push it up a slope – this thing is harder to roll than it looks!”

“Do you think you can manage it?” asked  the Doctor, a little worry leaking through his voice. He hadn’t thought about how the borrower would be able to retrieve his sonic, a device almost longer than she was tall.

After a pause, she replied, “Don’t worry, I’ve got an idea. Give me a moment, and keep an ear out.”

The Doctor sat back and placed his chin on his folded arms, drumming his fingers restlessly. He hummed quietly to stop himself from actually counting the seconds until he heard Zepheera’s voice again. “Okay, I’ve got it attached to my rope! I’m gonna need you to ease us up!”

“Right! Gotcha!” The Doctor shot up, nearly bumping his head on the underside of the floor. He pinched the tiny rope, the size of a thread to him, in two fingers and tugged. Hearing

Zepheera’s surprised cry, he halted.

“I said ease, not wrench!” she chastised.

“Sorry,” mumbled the Doctor, this time drawing the rope back slowly. He was extra careful when Zepheera and the screwdriver were almost out; she needed to align the probe so it would come out cleanly without crashing into the sides of the long, narrow gap. Once that was achieved, it emerged easily and the Doctor slipped his free hand underneath it.

After his companion dismounted the device, he scooped it up into his right hand, ignoring the rope still attached to it. He adjusted his grip and gave it a buzz. It was music to his ears.

“At last! My arm is complete again!” he exulted.

Zepheera’s fatigued mind had only begun to wonder if that was a reference to something when she found herself being lifted quickly to the Doctor’s face. To her chagrin, he planted an overjoyed kiss to the top of her head.

“You’re the best!” he proclaimed, beaming gratefully even as Zepheera ran her fingers through her dark bob to brush off the feeling his lips left behind.

“Don’t ever do that again,” she emphasized, scowling halfheartedly up at his stupid face. Little did she know the Doctor had only begun to display his gratitude toward his companion, and he drew her close once again.

At first, she worried that he was disregarding her wishes, so she threw her arms up to fend off another peck.

Instead, he pressed her to his cheek and thanked her over and over. Once the shock had worn off, she realized that what she’d done meant a lot more to the Doctor than she realized. She smiled and patted his cheek fondly.

“You’re welcome, big fella,” she murmured.

They stayed like this for a good while, until Zepheera broke the contented silence between them: “Now, I believe you owe me a cuppa.”

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Helping Hands — Part 2/3

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


If anyone had told Zepheera decades ago that one day she’d be able to sit comfortably in a human hand, she’d have told them to bugger off. And yet there she was, leaning tiredly against a human look-alike’s fingers as he sauntered off toward the console room. Completely at his mercy, yet with complete trust in him.

She straightened when he entered the dome-shaped room, peering over the edge of the Doctor’s hand curiously. Indeed, one of the floor panels was pulled up and set aside, leaving a gaping hole in the floor. Those compartments were still a bit of a mystery to Zepheera, even after all this time. She’d observed that a few of them were used for storage, filled with old trunks and boxes and the like, but most seemed to be dark mazes of machinery that Zepheera would rather not get lost in.

And now she was about to crawl willingly into one. Spectacular.

The Doctor climbed slowly into the hole, careful to jostle the borrower as little as possible. Crouching, he took up less than half of the space inside, but once Zepheera found herself lowered below the floor level, she saw that there was more room than the size of the panel would suggest.

“Where did it fall through?” she asked, stifling a yawn.

“Down here.” The Doctor leaned down and reached in to lay his hand next to a slight slope. Just big enough for the sonic screwdriver, and too small to fit his hand through. Zepheera slid off the Doctor’s palm at the top of the slope to carefully examine her surroundings.

Nothing in this place was smooth or flat, not even the slope. It all seemed to be made of wire or hose or angular mechanisms and couplings that Zepheera could never begin to understand. She didn’t need to, though. All she needed was a secure place to attach her hook.

The ground shook the moment she reached for the grapple hanging from her shoulder; in her fatigued state, she hadn’t thought to expect movement from the Doctor, so she stumbled a bit before she felt steady enough to shoot a glare over her shoulder. Her silent scolding had no effect, the Doctor was shifting to lay on his back and wasn’t even looking her way.

“As you can see, I was working like  this, on that stuff up there,” he explained, pointing out a few wires and plugs dangling from the underside of the console. “It’s all kinda technical, and actually quite volatile without the right tools–”

“Then I guess I’d better not delay,” Zepheera snipped, securing her hook around a black cord near the top of the slope and disappeared through the gap. “Really don’t need the graphic details.”

The Doctor cocked an eyebrow at the gap. “Well, someone’s grumpy.”

Someone is owed a cup of tea after this.”

She slid slowly down her rope at first; even knowing how quickly it would heal, she’d rather not sprain anything by jumping in too fast and hitting the floor too hard. She couldn’t even see the bottom through the shadows, much less the Doctor’s precious probe.

“A torch would be much appreciated if you’ve got one!” she called up.

“Ah! Right, yes.” Zepheera halted her descent when she felt a few vibrations through her rope indicating the Doctor was moving. Then a pale yellow light washed over her and illuminated her destination perfectly. “Better?”

“Much, thanks.” Now that a floor was in plain sight, a little less than a foot away, Zepheera dropped easily down. She frowned when she didn’t see the sonic anywhere. The immediate area was cavernous and irregular, and a glance upward told her she was about a foot and a half down  from the Doctor’s level.

A massive tangle of wired machinery stood behind her, a few outlines of passageways before her.

While she took a moment to choose a direction, the Doctor’s voice echoed down to her. “See it yet?”

Zepheera rolled her eyes. “Not yet. Give me a minute.” She almost asked him to angle the torch to a better angle, but given how narrow the opening was, she doubted that would be easy. Instead, she started toward the passage right in front of her. It seemed to be wide enough to accommodate a falling screwdriver and was the only logical place for it to go. She proceeded cautiously, trailing her rope along in her hand so she wouldn’t get lost or fall down a hole with no way back. “How’d you even manage to drop it down here?”

“I dunno, it’s never really happened before. Guess I just…got lost in thought or something, and it slipped.”

“You? Lost in thought? Shock and surprise,” Zepheera murmured, a twinge of humor teasing at her lips.

“Oi! Heard that.”

This actually brought a chuckle out of Zepheera, who turned to call over her shoulder. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you’re starting to sound like DonNA-A-A!”

Her foot caught on something she couldn’t see even if she were watching where she was going, and she tumbled down a low slope of hard metal things until something cylindrical broke her fall. It buzzed briefly as she landed on it.

“Zepheera! What happened, are you alright?”

Slightly dazed from the impact, Zepheera shook her head and breathed deeply. “I’m okay!” she assured. As she got to her feet, she realized exactly what she was leaning on for support.

“I found it!”

“Brilliant!” the Doctor exulted. “Can you get it up?”

Zepheera regarded the probe at her feet. It was taller than she was, but she was stronger than she looked. “Hang on! I’ll see what I can do.”

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Zepheera-Vision — Bit Hot

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Zepheera gasped sharply as the fist around
her opened and exposed her to fresh air for the first time in five minutes. She
scrambled away from the giant unknown hand, tripping over the edge of a saucer.
She was wedged awkwardly between the lip of the small plate and the cold
porcelain curve of the cup, but still she maintained eye contact with her
captor.

His lips pursed as he observed her behavior,
then reached toward her again. She threw her hands up in futile defense, but
they weren’t needed. Rather than grabbing her, those long fingers curled around
the handle of the teacup and lifted it away. Zepheera fell back in its absence,
catching herself on her elbows as she watched the man sidestep far enough away
that he no longer filled her vision, but he could easily glance over to check
on her.

Zepheera stood and seized the opportunity to
take in her surroundings. There was a large coffee maker to her right and some
other machine she didn’t recognize to her left. She was on the kitchen counter
in the human’s small flat. The dining table across from her was filled with odd
instruments and glass containers that sent an ominous chill down her spine.

She had a bad feeling about this human.

Another hand approaching broke Zepheera out
of her thoughts, and she did her best to not flinch. Again it didn’t touch her,
only hovered expectantly nearby. She glanced up at the man’s face and realized
that he wanted the saucer. As she hopped off and pressed her back against the
wall, she wondered about this sudden concern of his for her consent. He had
kidnapped
her, after all.

He dragged the saucer about an inch closer to
himself and carefully set the filled teacup onto it. Automatically, he popped
two blocks of sugar into it and began stirring. After a moment, he glanced at
Zepheera again and frowned to himself. He opened a drawer out of her sight and
rummaged through it. Then he slid the cup and saucer toward Zepheera,
not-so-surreptitiously placing a few items next to it.

She hesitated before peeling herself from the
wall. The cup was now filled with what looked like tea, and by her feet lay a
package of creamer, a paper clip, a length of string, a coin, and a sizeable
torn-off corner of tinfoil. Her violet eyes flicked up to suspiciously meet the
icy blues staring down at her. Noting her trepidation, the man rolled his eyes
and picked up the teacup, taking a small sip for himself.

“Good for the nerves,” he muttered,
his deep baritone rolling over Zepheera like thunder. “And definitely not
poisoned. How dull would that be.”

With that, he replaced the teacup and
observed her closely to gauge Zepheera’s reaction. She wondered if he thought
she could even understand him; clearly he was testing her intelligence and
civility, if the materials he gave her were any indication.  As much as it sickened her to play into this
game of his, she was quite thirsty. The salt from the chips she’d eaten with
the Doctor had really dried her out.

The thought of the Doctor drove her to step
forward at last. She needed to get back to him by any means necessary, and if
that meant playing along for a while…

She picked up the tinfoil, tearing off the
excess. She didn’t need much to mold into a makeshift cup. Once that was done
and she’d checked it for weak spots, she went straight to the tea. She inspected
it for a moment, inhaling its fumes. Earl gray. Not her favorite but tolerable
enough, especially with a little sugar. She leaned down with her foil cup to
retrieve some.

“Bit hot,” said the man under his
breath, giving Zepheera pause. Indeed, warmth wafted up from the liquid. It
wasn’t steaming, but it was as hot as could be expected on such short notice.
Hot enough to sting, that was for sure. Perhaps the kettle had still been
lukewarm from that morning.

Zepheera carefully lowered her cup into the
drink, ignoring the man as he observed her reaction to his warning. Despite how
much she wanted to dunk her whole hand in and give him something to observe,
she knew that having him know about her healing ability would be counter-productive.
His curiosity would only grow. So she settled on a half-filled cup and took a
measured sip.

For the Doctor.


Asks and Prompts are open! | Submissions too!

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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Zepheera-Vision — Reunion

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Zepheera smiled faintly as she watched the
Doctor make conversation with the woman he’d thought would never return to his
life again, who had been locked away in a parallel universe for years. The
woman that, though he never told her or the borrower he’d confessed all this
to, he’d loved.

Needless to say, neither of them ever
expected Rose Tyler to show up. Then, of course, the Earth was stolen and the
sky rained down with Daleks, and she showed up in the nick of time to join in
the fight.

So many familiar faces returned that night,
but hers was the one that captured the Doctor’s undivided attention.

Not that Zepheera was complaining, but she
was beginning to feel a little forgotten sitting on the monitor on the TARDIS
console while the two of them got caught up. She cleared her throat.

“So, this is Rose,” she remarked
after the enormous pair went quiet and looked at her.

The Doctor’s brow shot up. “Yes! Of
course, introductions! Rose, meet Zepheera,” he grinned widely.

“Zepheera,” Rose repeated, looking
to the borrower to confirm she’d pronounced the unfamiliar name correctly.
After a nod of approval from the four and a half inch tall woman, Rose beamed.
“Good to meet you then, Zepheera.”

“Likewise.”

“She travels with me now,” the Doctor explained for Rose’s benefit. “Been
a while since I’ve had a non-human on board. She’s a–”

"Borrower, yeah, we have ‘em on my
world, too,” interrupted Rose, making Zepheera blink in surprise. Noticing
caution bloom in the smaller woman’s expression, she added, “Don’t worry,
it’s not anything public just yet. Torchwood’s keeping everything completely
confidential.”

“Oh, how brilliant is that!” Seeing his
diminutive companion’s relief, he and Rose turned to each other. “See,
like I was saying about great minds…” From there, they seemed to carry out
a condensed conversation that consisted of half-complete sentences, smiles, and
a small hand gesture from the Doctor.

Something inside Zepheera melted as she
watched them. The Doctor looked so happy, happier than she’d ever seen
him. He had a certain energy now, a gleam in his eye that Zepheera recognized
all too well. She’d once had a sparkle like that. A long time ago.

“You two are adorable,” she cut in,
crossing her arms in a manner that would normally seem accusatory if not for the
ear-to-ear grin splitting her features. The Doctor and Rose turned their smiles
to the borrower.  "My teeth
ache, you’re so sweet.“

The screen behind Zepheera beeped, ending
introductions. Between all the reports and correspondents between their other allies,
Zepheera couldn’t help but glance back at the Doctor every now and then. Even
with all the danger and devastation out there, he maintained that gleam in his
eye. And she knew they had a certain blonde to thank for that.

Zepheera couldn’t be more proud of her old
Time Lord.


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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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Zepheera-Vision — The Companion

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Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 2.5 | Part 3


“Doctor?”

Both the borrower and the Time Lord turned to look at the human standing in the entrance to the TARDIS console room. The
red-haired woman was shrugging on a jacket as she stepped in. “Who are you talking to?”

“I’m in the middle of something, Donna,” said the Doctor pointedly

Donna rolled her eyes and approached with purpose in her steps. “No use keeping secrets from me, Spaceman, I live here too.”

Her gaze quickly fell on Zepheera, whose heartbeat quickened at the contact with a completely new human – Donna, the Doctor had called her.

“Blimey, get a load of that!” the human exclaimed. Zepheera flinched at the volume and backed up into the screen behind her, pulling her knees close again. She squeezed her eyes shut, overwhelmed by the sight of two giants looming over her.

The Doctor looked appalled by his companion’s behavior. “Donna, lower your voice,” he rebuked. “She’s been through a lot, no need to frighten her all over again by gawking!”

Without waiting for a response, he turned back to the four and a half inch tall woman huddled on the sill of his monitor. “Zepheera… C’mon, look at me,” he coaxed.

Considering she was outnumbered, Zepheera had no choice but to obey. She lifted her head to look up at the Doctor and Donna, who had come around to stand behind the Doctor’s right shoulder. The Doctor smiled encouragingly.

“That’s it. See? No harm done. This is just my friend, Donna. She travels with me.”

“She’s so teeny,” Donna cooed, leaning over the Doctor to stretch a finger toward Zepheera, as if touching her would somehow prove her existence further. Zepheera backed away from the sudden approach before the Doctor stopped the human.

“No no, don’t do that,” he warned firmly. “Really. Don’t.”

Looking a bit sheepish, Donna withdrew her hand. “Was she always this small?”

Now it was the Doctor’s turn to roll his eyes. “Yes, now would you back off for a minute and let me get on with this?”

Much to Zepheera’s surprise, the human stepped away with a muttered apology. Once she was out of sight, the Doctor addressed Zepheera again. “Sorry about that. She’s harmless, I promise.” He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “Anyway, what I meant to say was, I’d like you to stay. At least for a while, just so I can make sure all those drugs didn’t leave you with any permanent damage. If you could bear with me for a few days, I’ll take you wherever you want to go. Does that sound alright to you?”

Zepheera supposed that was fair. At least it didn’t sound like she’d be locked in a cage anymore. She nodded her approval.

The Doctor smiled. “Brilliant. Welcome aboard, then. Er, is there anything you want to do now?”

It took some digging, but Zepheera realized there was a lot she wanted to do. She wanted to sleep in a bed, she wanted to eat a meal that consisted of more than old cheese and bread, she wanted to drink an entire thimbleful of some kind of alcoholic drink. She looked down at herself; she wanted to wear clothes that made her feel like a person again. Then she touched a lock of her dark hair. It had already been getting long at the time of her capture, and it had grown past her shoulders over the months.

“I want to cut my hair,” she told him.  She was certain she wouldn’t feel
anything like her old self until she did. And she had a feeling she could ask for the rest at any time.


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Thanks again for the prompts @wingedkuriboh27​!


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Zepheera-Vision Preface — The Companion

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 2.5 | Part 3


Zepheera moaned softly as she sluggishly came to. The events of the last few hours replayed choppily in her mind. The man…he had picked her up and held her close to his chest as he fought his way through all of the metal men in his path. She remembered gripping the brown pinstriped fabric of his suit just to keep steady. He took her somewhere and tried to get her to talk, but her drug-addled mind refused to let her respond. Then he made her drink something, and everything after that was fuzzy.

The more conscious she became, the more she noticed about her surroundings. The surface on which she lay was strangely leathery and warm…and if she listened closely, she could hear a muted thrum coming from deep within, pressing up against her body in a one-two-three-four.

It was alive. It was a hand!

She shot up with a startled exclamation, falling back on her hands and knees as the uneven ground twitched in surprise. As the hand flattened beneath her, she huddled into a frightened ball, awaiting the inevitable harm to befall her.

“It’s okay!” the man from before whispered, though it was still more than loud enough to make the borrower flinch. “You’re safe. I’m so sorry, I didn’t think you’d be awake for another few hours.”

Zepheera turned her head in the slightest to peek through the gap in the arm covering her head. He was so remarkably large, a small part of her wondered if he could even detect such a small movement.

“Look, er… I don’t mean to scare you. Would it help if I set you down?”

Zepheera frowned in confusion. She knew better than to trust this behemoth of a man after everything she’d been through. Still, he did rescue her from that lab, and he hadn’t made a move to hurt her yet. Hell, he’d had her in his hands while she was asleep! He could have easily done her in then. But he didn’t, and something about those enormous brown orbs insisted that he could be trustworthy.

Slowly lowering her arms from her head, she clutched them close to her chest as she mustered up all of her courage and nodded.

The man smiled, pleased by her response. “Alright. Here we go.”

His fingers curled back up, stretching over Zepheera’s head as he slowly leaned forward and reached out toward a flat but narrow silver surface. She practically scrambled out of his hand, grateful for the solid ground.

Without the giant man filling her vision, Zepheera took in the rest of her surroundings. He sat back in a faded yellow seat, full of holes and duct-tape patches. The room was enormous and dome-like, covered in dim, round lights. Nothing else made sense beyond that; whatever she was standing on hovered above an endless sea of strange-looking levers and dials and cranks.

“What’s your name?” The question made Zepheera’s attention snap up to the man. She pressed her back against the wall behind her and eyed him warily. He sighed, an action that ruffled Zepheera’s shoulder-length hair even at a distance. “I’m trying to help you. I need to know that you’re alright.”

She bit her lip, then swallowed thickly past the lump in her throat. It had been a while since she’d spoken to anyone.

“Zepheera,” she answered, her voice hoarse from disuse.

The man smiled again. “Beautiful name,” he remarked. “I’m the Doctor.” Her eyes flared up with terror again, and he quickly added, “No no no no, not that kind of doctor. Please listen, whatever they did to you, I’m not like them, I promise. Trust me, I only want to help.”

Unsure if she believed him or not, Zepheera forced herself to relax a little and nodded to show she understood.

“I’m going to ask you a few more questions, Zepheera,” the Doctor informed her. “Just to make sure you’re okay now that that nasty drug’s out of your system.”

Zepheera slid her back against the wall until she sat with her knees hugged to her chest. “Okay,” she murmured. She resigned herself to his care as long as he simply seemed concerned for her. That wasn’t a feeling she’d ever expected from someone his size.

As her fear slowly dissipated, curiosity began to take its place. Zepheera began to ask the Doctor questions of her own, and before long they had a back and forth going. Zepheera told the Doctor how she ended up in that lab (leaving out the details about her hidden village) and what exactly they had done to her and the few others like her. She explained that she was the only one left in that place. In return, she learned where exactly she was: inside the Doctor’s TARDIS, which apparently could travel through time and space with ease.

It was the Doctor’s turn to ask a question. “How old are you?”

Zepheera frowned, realizing that she wasn’t sure. “What day is it?” She had been captured a couple months before her birthday, but she wasn’t entirely sure how much time she’d spent in that lab.

The Doctor leaned forward and pressed a button on the console, causing the wall behind Zepheera to light up. She jumped and whirl around to stare at the massive screen behind her as it displayed a series of concentric circles. “May seventh, year twenty eighty-five,” he recited.

Six months, she thought despondently.

“I, erm. I guess that makes me a hundred and fifty-eight.” Happy birthday to me.

The Doctor’s brow rose as he sat back. “Wow. Older than you look,” he mused. “Do you all age so slowly?”

A sad smile tugged at her lips. “Nah, it’s…just me, I think.” She took a steadying breath before asking, “How old are you?”

“Nine hundred and five,” he replied without hesitation.

Now it was Zepheera’s turn to be surprised. “So, way older than you look.”

The Doctor smirked, then adopted a more thoughtful expression. “Zepheera… Is there anything for you to go back to? A home, family, friends?”

Her heart stuttered at the question. As surprisingly pleasant as this man seemed, she was definitely not comfortable leading him to her people. She still had a duty to protect them until she had a full grasp of this new situation. “No,” she answered evenly. “Nothing.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” said the Doctor earnestly. He rubbed the back of his neck as he seemed to carefully consider his next words. “Well, if you’d like, you could – I mean, it would be entirely up to you, of course, but… I was wondering if you wanted to–”

“Doctor?”

Zepheera’s entire body tensed at this new voice.


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