Sort of doing these out of order, but I’m determined to do them all
Simon Baker rapped gently on his youngest brother’s bedroom door. “Suppertime! Get it while it’s hot!”
These days, Simon thought to give Stan whatever space he needed. School had always been a rough time for the kid, even more so now that he was a teenager. Even so, Simon tried to keep spirits light in the hopes of cheering Stan up.
Simon’s brow pinched when there came no answer. Usually, even on the worst days, he’d get a grumble in response at least. Stan would never turn down a meal.
“C’mon Stanley, don’t want it to get cold without you,” he called through the door as he made a move to open it. He went slow, not one to burst in on anyone, and he listened for Stan to correct him.
It wasn’t that he hated being called Stanley, but he did prefer ‘Stan’.
Only when Simon still didn’t hear a peep out of the room did he open it all the way. Now he was concerned.
His frown deepened as he stepped into the room and found it empty. Stan wasn’t in bed, but his schoolbag was still there and the window was securely shut. Simon knew Stan came home earlier, so where did he–?
A light skittering on the floor by his feet interrupted Simon’s thoughts. He looked down; when he didn’t see anything, he took a wary step closer.
In the corner of Simon’s eye, he noticed something quick and tiny dashing into the open. He didn’t get a good look before it took shelter under Stan’s dresser.
Simon sighed and strode over to shut Stan’s door. If his brother brought another mouse in the house, he’d better take care of it before it got into the walls. Then he could resume figuring out where Stan went.
Grabbing one of Stan’s jars and a ventilated lid from the desk, Simon lowered himself to the floor to peer under the dresser. It was too dark to see in any detail, but a small shape hurried to the far side. Simon sat up and reached around to snatch it before it hid under the bed.
In his hurry to get his catch into the jar, Simon didn’t notice that it didn’t quite feel like a mouse in his grasp.
He made sure to tilt the jar so the little thing would slide safely to the bottom. Simon was used to this habit of Stan’s, and he knew it came from a well-meaning place. Their youngest brother was never one to walk away when anyone or anything needed help. Even a lost, injured mouse.
So it was a complete shock to Simon when he lifted the jar to find something that definitely wasn’t a mouse.
4. Movie Music – Zepheera and Orrick enjoy a rare night to themselves.
I know i’m kind of cheating because Reasons. I couldn’t pick any one movie, and I’ve been wanting to do this for ages, fight me.
“I can’t believe you talked me into this,” Zepheera sighed as she watched Orrick fiddle with the dial of a radio taller than the both of them.
“I’m telling you,” he called over the muddled chatter of the rapidly shifting channels, “the humans all left with suitcases earlier. I doubt they’ll be back any time tonight.”
He gave a triumphant laugh when he found a station that excited him. A lively band played a jumpy tune that completely distracted Zepheera from her previous qualms.
Then Orrick took her hands and tugged her toward the open space in front of the radio, and they came flooding back. “I-I don’t really dance,” she warned.
Orrick’s smile softened his bright blue eyes and instantly Zepheera felt her worries melt away. “Don’t worry. Just follow my lead.”
Zepheera was still uncertain and a little stiff for the first song or two, but it was impossible to deny Orrick’s enthusiasm. He spun her around a few times and led her through a few social dances she’d never had the chance to see before.
Just when she was really starting to enjoy herself, the song changed. Rather than a brass band, this one started off slow and simple with strings and a lone flute. The melody wafted in, and Zepheera found that she recognized it. A distant memory from when she was twelve came roaring back. There was a play on the radio, and she distantly remembered this song being played in the part of it that she got to listen to through the walls. That had been about a decade ago…
Orrick startled her out of her reverie by taking her hand. He gently pulled her closer and placed her hand on his shoulder. His found her waist and free hand, and he quietly told her which foot to move in time with the music.
“Where’d you learn to dance like this?” asked Zepheera, now that things had quieted down.
Orrick grinned his most charming grin. “The old beans back home were dancers. My sisters couldn’t resist watching, and always wanted me to be their partner. Sort of had to learn, and obviously I never forgot.”
“I think it’s sweet,” Zepheera smiled, deep violet eyes shining.
As the song played on, the melody passing from violins to a crooning horn, Orrick continued to guide Zepheera through the waltz. She gradually loosened up and became comfortable enough with the steps that she could look up into Orrick’s eyes rather than her feet. They hardly seemed to pay the world any mind when the soft, tremulous voice of a woman joined the orchestra.
Someday I’ll find you / Moonlight behind you / True to the dream I am dreaming…
Zepheera and Orrick’s waltz slowed, and he wrapped an arm to coax her closer as they made this decision in tandem.
As I draw near you, you’ll smile a little smile…
The borrowers held each other as their dance shifted into a swaying embrace. “I loved this song as a kid,” Zepheera sighed, resting her head on Orrick’s chest. His heartbeat soothed her.
For a little while / We shall stand / Hand in hand…
“It could be ours,” Orrick suggested, lacing his fingers between hers. “We’ll borrow it, you and me…”
I’ll leave you never / Love you forever / All our past sorrow redeeming…
Zepheera’s eyes fluttered shut, a tear trickling down her cheek as Orrick and the singer’s words sank in. “I’d like that.”
Make it all come true / Make me love you too / Someday I’ll find you again…
Zepheera and Orrick’s song: “Someday I’ll Find You” by Noel Coward
5. List 3 fears; one “surface level” fear, one “repressed” fear, and one “deep dark” fear.
Here we go.
Surface level: Not in a jump-on-a-chair-in-fright way, but he doesn’t much care for spiders. Too many legs and eyeballs.
Repressed: he fears bringing danger to his loved ones. Nate teases him about being paranoid, but it’s derived from the real risks that come with Stan’s job. He tries to keep it under control, but he takes any precaution he sees necessary to protect Nathan, even wearing his engagement ring on a chain so bad guys don’t notice it and realize he has a loved one to exploit.
Deep dark: In a similar vein, Stan is terrified of letting people down and failing to protect them. For the most part, his confidence in his abilities keeps him from worrying about this too often, but he would fall into a dark place if this fear was ever realized.
28. Is there a certain type of person that disgusts them?
People who show complete disregard for other people’s lives disgust him.
38. Have they ever been imprisoned?
Human Stan has never been to prison or imprisoned. The same cannot be said about borrower Stan.
Against her better instincts and training, she shrieked at the stark realization of how close she’d come to being flattened. A yelp rang out far above her in return and the human jumped in surprise as Zepheera scrambled to turn back to the shelf. Before she could get far, she was engulfed in darkness and pinned down by something soft and fluffy.
Dazed but unhurt by the impact, it slowly dawned on Zepheera that the human had dropped a box of stuffed animals on top of her, probably a knee-jerk reaction in his shock. Thank goodness it had landed top down rather than dropping straight down. Zepheera definitely wouldn’t have survived that alternative.
Zepheera squirmed and struggled to free herself from her fuzzy prison when the ground shook beneath her and light flooded her senses. The stuffed animal, now noticeably a bear, was lifted away and set aside, revealing a wide set of green eyes that met Zepheera’s startled violets. She heaved an exhausted sigh. Of course, as fate would have it, she’d been seen by John Smith.
Honestly, it could be worse. She’d rather him than a perfect stranger. But he might as well be a stranger to her. Unlike the Doctor, he’d never met anybody less than six inches high.
John stared openly at the tiny woman on the floor, wondering if she was hurt. He wasn’t entirely sure if she was real, but her lack of movement concerned him. It struck him that ‘she’ was actually a highly detailed toy, a doll he hadn’t noticed and that he’d simply imagined had screamed. To be sure, he reached a hand toward her; for a moment he thought he saw her flinch, the tiniest of motions from the tiniest of people, but he’d never find out for certain.
The voice pulled John’s attention away from Zepheera as he straightened and turned toward the speaker. She took the opportunity to disappear, dashing toward the shelf closer to the corner she’d seen the cybermat disappear behind.
“Craig!” John exclaimed excitedly, not even questioning why his friend and temporary housemate was there at his work. “You’re never gonna believe this! C’mere! Carefully, though, don’t want to frighten–”
He cut himself short as he looked back to the spot where he’d left the small woman and she was gone. He frowned. “Miss?” he whispered, leaning over the mess of stuffed animals to scan the floor for the tiny, possibly injured person. “Where’d you go? I won’t hurt you, I promise. Cross my heart.” Zepheera risked a peek, freezing when his head and shoulders nearly filled her view.
“Who are you talking to, John?” Craig pressed, bringing the stroller closer.
John glanced back at Craig and Zepheera popped back into hiding. After a moment, she heard John quietly reply, “No one…sorry, must be seeing things.”
“Maybe you need a break,” said Craig, “Let me buy you lunch.” His voice was closer, and a rustling sound could be heard. They must be cleaning up the stuffed animals, she guessed, and soon enough she felt their footsteps rumble away. Once she was sure she was alone, Zepheera made her way toward the end of the shelf. Hopefully that cybermat hadn’t gotten far in all the confusion.
And hopefully, she hadn’t ruined her chances of getting through this with as little drama as possible.
The power of the Doctor’s regeneration knocked Zepheera over, her back hitting the console hard. The heat was incredibly intense, and she scrambled away before she could be too badly burnt. Then the console beneath her sparked forcefully, throwing Zepheera off completely. She landed on the catwalk floor, all the air shoved out of her lungs from the blow.
Her eyes darted around anxiously as she caught her breath. Everything was on fire. Hot, molten sparks poured from the ceiling, tongues of flame erupted from the floor. A particularly large burst of fire destroyed the integrity of one of the coral supports surrounding the console and, with its connections to both the ceiling and the floor gone, it began to tip inward.
Right toward Zepheera.
Her wits snapped into place at the sight of the massive falling structure, and she shot to her feet and darted toward the underside of the console. The controls themselves would act as a (woefully shallow) awning to hopefully protect her from being crushed, but just in case she ran along the bottom edge in an attempt to get as far away from the danger as possible.
The support crashed into the floor loudly, the actual impact landing far from Zepheera. But it immediately crumbled into pieces, which tumbled next to the console. The tremors caused by the fragments cost Zepheera her balance once again, only this time she was able to catch herself before her face could smash into the harsh metal. Opting to not risk another fall, Zepheera crawled away from the debris.
A voice broke through the rumbling chaos, a scream coming from the Doctor’s direction. Zepheera looked up to find that she was behind the Time Lord, so close that she had to flip onto her back just to make out his head. She watched as his hair suddenly became longer and the scream gave way into an entirely new man’s voice. The regeneration energy dissipated and he went quiet.
But the TARDIS was still falling apart, and a loud crash prompted the Doctor to turn around. Whether it was because he was not used to his new body or if it was simply in his nature to be out-of-balance now, he stumbled around from the momentum of the simple action. Zepheera hadn’t even had time to register what he looked like now, because her focus was entirely on those aimless feet that were a little too close for her liking. Don’t step on me don’t step on me please don’t, she thought frantically as she backed away from him.
“Legs!” the new voice cried as one of the feet lifted into the air. “I’ve still got legs!” She looked up to find the Doctor grasping his knee and kissing it gratefully. “Good!” He let his leg fall back into place.
“Doctor!” Zepheera called up, but he was preoccupied. His gaze wandered about his body, checking to make sure everything was in order, all with wide and curious eyes.
“Arms!” he exclaimed. “Hands! Ooh, fingers! Lots of fingers!” He wiggled them in front of his face, further distracting him from the borrower trying to get his attention.
Looking around, Zepheera found that one of her ladders to the console had somehow survived the destruction mostly unscathed; it was missing a few rungs and was slightly singed, but Zepheera had climbed worse. She hurried over and ascended the ladder as fast as she could while the Doctor carried on: “Ears: yes. Eyes: two. Nose…mm, I’ve had worse. Chin…blimey! Hair…I’m a girl!”
Zepheera automatically rolled her eyes at the notion that longer hair indicated he was female, but as she pulled herself up onto the console he found his Adam’s apple and decided that he was not a girl. Before she could start to wave her arms or call his name again, he turned away to inspect his hair closer, pulling it in front of his eyes to the best of his ability.
“And still not ginger!”
“Doctor!” Zepheera shouted, but it seemed that he was consumed in his own thoughts.
“There’s something else,” he realized, turning to look around without focus. “Something important, I’m…I’m, I’m–”
“DOC–!” An enormous BANG cut Zepheera short and threw her as well as the Time Lord off-balance. The Doctor caught himself on the console right next to Zepheera, laughing ecstatically.
Losing patience, Zepheera jumped to her feet and yelled, “Would you look at me, you giant idiot?!”
That finally drew the Doctor’s wide, now-hazel eyes toward her. He looked at her for a drawn-out moment before his already massive grin grew.
“Zepheera!” he exclaimed, pulling himself along the console until his brand-new face was inches from where she stood. It was all she could do to hold her ground at the enormous man’s approach. “Oh, look at you! I hardly recognized you, you look so different! But the same! Or maybe that’s just my eyes, same but different!”
Another crash cut his ramble short, and Zepheera wavered in the tremors. Suddenly her feet were pushed out from under her and she landed on something soft, warm, and rising in the air. The Doctor had scooped her up and lifted her to his shoulder. Before she could scold him for not warning her, he was circling the console toward the monitor and she needed to hang on tight.
Same old suit, she thought absently as she gripped the familiar fabric with white knuckles, then looked up at the Doctor’s profile. Brand new man.
The Doctor was whooping enthusiastically, all the rumbles and the image of the planet spiraling on the screen exciting him even more. The TARDIS was falling to Earth, and the Doctor couldn’t be happier.
“GERONIMOOOO!” bellowed the Doctor.
On top of trying not to panic, Zepheera made a mental note to retrain the Doctor’s volume control.
Zepheera waited patiently for the Doctor to return to the TARDIS. This was his last stop, his last chance to see Rose Tyler, so it was understandable that he would be taking his time. But as the minutes dragged on, she began to wander the console aimlessly, wondering if something had happened to him.
A voice came to her head, giving her pause. They were singing in Latin. She had no idea where the song was coming from, but somehow she knew every word as they came, and who it was all for.
She didn’t realize she’d been singing along until the doors of the TARDIS opened and closed heavily, and she held her tongue. The Doctor leaned wearily on the doors. After a breath or two, he made his way up the slight incline to the main platform of the room, relying on the short railing. This alone sent an icy pang of worry through Zepheera’s stomach.
The way he moved, even in an action as simple as shedding his coat and tossing it onto its typical support, made it clear to her that everything hurt. He hesitated, lifting his right hand to eye level. Regeneration energy flowed from it as he turned his wrist, watching golden streaks dance around his fingers. After a moment he curled the hand into a loose fist and let it hang by his side, turning to the console to lock eyes with his four and a half inch tall companion.
It wouldn’t be long now, and they both knew it.
“So…What happens now?” The borrower knew well enough by now the technical details of regeneration, but she wasn’t sure if she should say something meaningful or sing that song that was still going in the back of her head. She didn’t know if a goodbye was in order since he’d still be the Doctor at the end of the day, just a little different.
The Doctor made his way laboriously around the console, passing Zepheera by entirely. “Now…I’m taking you home,” he said steadily.
Zepheera followed him, frowning in confusion. Disregarding the fact that she didn’t have a home outside the TARDIS, she went straight for the important question.
“Why? Did I do something wrong?”
This stopped him in his tracks and he sighed deeply, lowering his gaze to the floor. “No, Zepheera, it’s not like that.”
“Then why can’t I stay?” she demanded.
“Because it’s not safe!” he snapped. He paused to catch his breath from the short outburst, then lowered himself to a kneel with evident effort. Then his brown eyes met her small deep violets. “I can feel it, Zepheera. I dunno how, but this one’s gonna be violent, I just know it. For all I know, I could destroy everything, and…I don’t want to risk you.”
Zepheera considered his words, never breaking eye contact. After a deep breath, she crossed her arms and planted her feet on the uneven surface of the console.
“I’ll be careful then,” she asserted. “You shouldn’t be alone for this. I always told you I’d be here for you, no matter what. That I’d never be afraid of you. I don’t care if you change your face, Doctor, I’m keeping that bloody promise.”
Even so, the Doctor looked conflicted, and his gaze wandered indecisively.
In the silence between them, Zepheera noticed the song in her head gaining momentum. Deciding it couldn’t hurt, she joined in with the chorus once again.
The Doctor’s attention snapped back to the borrower. “You hear it, too,” he realized.
In answer, Zepheera smiled sadly as she sang. The words, though foreign to her, were a perfect representation of her feelings. It was a farewell, but also a comfort. The Doctor returned the smile and pushed himself to his feet. Clearly her mind would not be changed. And honestly, she was right. He needed the company.
He pulled the lever to send the TARDIS flying into orbit above the Earth. That gorgeous noise filled the air alongside the sound of the universe singing the Doctor to his sleep.
He glanced down to find tears streaming down his small friend’s face, reaching a gentle hand to wipe them away. Zepheera, still singing, trembled at this contact, and before he could pull his finger away she grabbed hold of it, pulling it into a tight embrace.
Dum spiro fido…
It was only when his hand began to glow again that he pulled it away from her grasp. He ruffled her hair with a finger like he always used to, but without the usual humor, and walked to the other side of the console to separate himself from her. Zepheera just barely refrained from following, heeding his earlier warning, but as the chorus in her mind repeated vale over and over, she circled the other way to see his face one last time before it disappeared.
His breaths were shallow and his eyes were shining. “I don’t wanna go,” he declared, a small tremble in his voice. Regeneration energy surrounded his face and flowed from his hands with ever-growing intensity.
The song was over.
Celebrating 50 followers.
Part 1 | Part 2 coming tomorrow, more info to follow.
In the depths of the TARDIS, a black and white tuxedo cat lounged on a table. It had just woken up from a three-hour nap and thoroughly groomed itself when a small grey tabby kitten appeared in front of it, drawing its attention. The kitten mewed at the cat, crying for help as it was lifted even higher. The cat watched lazily as the man underneath the kitten slowly straightened and removed the kitten from his head, staring at the cat owlishly as he did so.
This room, as well as several others throughout the TARDIS, was crawling with cats of varying ages and breeds, the younger ones nipping at the Doctor’s ankles while the older ones kept a nonchalant eye on the Time Lord. Such had been the state of the TARDIS for about a week.
“Doctor!” a hushed voice rang out somewhere above his head. His eyes darted around looking for the source, ending the staring contest between him and the cat–which he rather resembled in his black suit and white button-down.
“Up here!” the voice hissed again, leading him to look up at the air vent high up in the wall above the table. Seeing who was calling him, the Doctor grinned without reaching his eyes.
“Zepheera!” exclaimed the Time Lord, shifting the kitten in his hands to a shoulder as he climbed up onto the table. This put him at perfect eye level with the vent.
“I haven’t seen you in days!” he remarked, seemingly emotionally unaffected by this fact. “How’ve you been? Are you eating well?” He stuck his fingers through the slats, as though trying to reach the very small woman inside the vent, but they were too big to make it past their second joints. But the borrower, all four and a half inches of her, would make quick work of the small space, he thought absently.
Zepheera scrambled back a few inches deeper into the vent at the approach of his digits. “Don’t do that!” she scolded, masking her fear.
The Doctor blinked slowly, a slight frown pinching just above glazed eyes. The fingers withdrew until their tips rested at the bottom of the vent’s opening, allowing him a place to rest his chin as he peered into the vent. “Zepheera, what’s the matter?”
She had to bite back a scoff at that. It should’ve been rather obvious to him why she was so wary, why she had spent the last few days hiding out in the depths of a ship she’d come to call home, sneaking food from the kitchens the few chances she got. If she were honest, a small part of her had missed living like this, like a proper borrower; but the illusion was broken by the need to hide from her best friend and the legion of cats he’d brought on board.
“I’ve contacted Torchwood,” she informed him rather than answering his question. “Captain Jack Harkness, you once told me he could be trusted. The TARDIS is set to pilot itself to their headquarters as soon as it receives their signal.”
“What’d you do that for?” asked the Doctor, more curious than concerned.
“Because I can’t very well fly this hunk of metal myself, can I?” Zepheera snapped, crossing her arms. “I’ve half a mind to make you teach me, once you’ve got half a mind.”
The Doctor tilted his head, clearly confused, and the little grey tabby mewed and crossed to his other shoulder.
“Look…You’re not yourself, Doctor,” she explained, placing her hands on her hips. “I don’t know if it’s the cats or the planet we were on or something else, but this isn’t you. And I just. Can’t. Handle this. Not on my own.”
For all her efforts to make him understand, she received a pair of big brown puppy-dog eyes in return. “No no, but the cats are friendly!” he insisted, breaking her heart a little more with each word. “I’m sure they’d be friends with you, too, if you’d just–”
He was cut off by the borrower suddenly lunging forward until her little fists slammed into the metal slats of the vent. The Doctor flinched back in surprise, blinking at her sudden outburst. Zepheera forced herself to slow her breathing, calm herself down, remind herself that it wasn’t the Doctor talking–not really.
“I would never befriend a cat!” she practically spat, venom coloring each word. “Not after what happened to Kernel…” Her voice trailed off at the mention of his name, and she squeezed her eyes shut to push back the memories and tears. He had only been ten years old…
“Your brother,” the Doctor replied at length.
Zepheera’s head snapped up. “Yes. You remember him, you remember me telling you about that!” Despite the grisly memories this situation had roused, Zepheera smiled for the first time in a week. “It’s still you.”
The Doctor didn’t respond; his brow was knit tightly together, as though he were trying to remember how exactly he knew what he’d said. Before he could even think about answering the borrower, the TARDIS rumbled and the familiar sound of the engines in flight rang throughout the beautiful machine.
“That’ll be Jack,” she remarked, backing away from the vent slowly. “I have to go. We’ll be there soon, and I’ve got to show them where you are.” Having warned him fairly, she turned to go.
“Wait!” the Doctor called after her. “Why won’t you come out? It’s all they want, and it’s all I want, so would you just…come out? Please? You don’t have to hide.”
Zepheera kept walking despite the chillingly familiar words, never once breaking her stride. “I’ll stop hiding once you understand why I have to.”