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 — Midnight 4/4

[Spoilers for the climax of ‘Midnight’. Prepare for angst. You’ve been warned.]

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Shock hit every single passenger at once as the shielded doors slammed shut. Val Cane sat down heavily in a nearby chair, her grip on Zepheera suddenly loosened. The borrower fell three feet and hit the floor hard. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t do her much damage, but she was already bruised and sensitive from the human’s tight grip. Her entire right side felt on fire. Anytime she tried to move, her whole body would ache in protest.

Less than a second after she landed, a greater impact shook the floor just ahead of her. Ignoring how much it hurt, she lifted her head to look. The Doctor had been released and fell forward, barely catching himself. His eyes and mouth were still wide from the scream he’d been mimicking, and he gasped at the sudden return of control over his own actions.

“It’s gone,” he breathed. “It’s gone, it’s gone…” He repeated the words over and over as he rolled onto his back, panting all the while.

Zepheera pushed herself to her feet with her good arm and limped closer to the Doctor in spite of her pain. At best, she was badly bruised, but none of that mattered. Her injuries would amount to nothing in a minute thanks to her healing factor. Right now the Doctor needed a friend, and none of these humans could come even close to fitting the bill.

She leaned her good side against his upper cheek, the only part of his face she could reach the way his back was arched and his body tensed. The muscles beneath her flinched faintly at her touch and the Doctor gave a surprised hiss. 

“It’s okay. It’s just me,” she whispered into his nearby ear, laying a tender hand near his sideburn. “I’m here, you’re gonna be alright.”

“It’s gone, it’s gone, it’s gone…”

“You’re damn right, it’s gone,” she agreed, jaw clenched in emotion and slowly fading pain. “It can’t get you anymore. I won’t let it. As long as I have anything to say about it, no one will touch you. That’s a promise, Doctor.”

Haltingly, the Doctor turned his head toward Zepheera, who pulled back so his wide eye could find her. Not knowing what else to do, she pressed herself against his cheekbone just below his eye, good arm extended in the best hug she could give. With a shaky sigh, the eye closed and he leaned into her tiny embrace, curling his trembling hand behind her in return. His eyelashes mingled with her short hair, and if she noticed she didn’t react. Slowly but surely, his body relaxed and he began to control his heavy breathing, wary of Zepheera as always.

Eventually the Doctor sat up and leaned on the side of a seat with the borrower nestled against his neck. They were across the aisle from Val Cane who, like everybody else in the van, was staring at them. While the Doctor continued to catch his breath and regain his composure, Zepheera looked Val up and down. This was the woman who had grabbed Zepheera without her consent, treated her like a child at best and a pet at worst, and had seemed intent on keeping her after the company had disposed of the Doctor. Even so, the look on the woman’s face gave Zepheera pause. She seemed repentant, and for one naive second Zepheera thought she’d gotten through to these humans. They all knew now that they had been wrong about the Doctor, and now perhaps Zepheera had proved that they were wrong about her. The Time Lord took care of her, yes, but she took care of him, too.

And in five words, Val Cane tore down every mite of hope in Zepheera.

“I said it was her,” she insisted, in reference to Sky.

Zepheera shot to her feet angrily because she most certainly had not–in fact, she had been the most vocal about getting rid of the Doctor! But before she could tell the enormous woman off the Doctor angled his head so his chin partially blocked her view of the human. Zepheera almost turned her wrath to him, but after seeing his clenched jaw and the way Val seemed to wither under his gaze, she realized the Doctor had made her point for her, only more poignantly without words.

Deciding to follow suit, Zepheera strode purposefully across the Doctor’s clavicle, pulled up his loosened collar and ducked underneath, pulling it down pointedly over herself. She curled up in the comforting dimness, allowing herself to pretend that the humans weren’t out there. Their silence made it easy. She could forget about them until they were all rescued from this broken-down wreck.


Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Epilogue

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Zepheera-Vision — Midnight 3/4

[Spoilers for the climax of ‘Midnight’. Prepare for angst. You’ve been warned.]

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For a moment, everything but the Doctor faded. Even the humans’ voices were dulled in Zepheera’s perception. But reality came crashing back in when flesh suddenly surrounded her, lifted her away, and she realized people were now calling with confidence and finality to throw the Doctor out.

“No, you can’t!” Zepheera struggled against the fingers of the human who held her.

The human–Jethro’s mother, Val–held the borrower firmly in a fist and shushed her like one would a small animal, stroking the back of Zepheera’s head and neck with the pad of her thumb. “Don’t worry, sweet thing, it’ll all be over soon.” This was the only thing she said softly; seconds later, she was barking at her husband to “get him out! I want him out! Throw him out!!”

Zepheera craned her neck to see what they were doing to the Doctor. The father had his arms crooked under the Doctor’s shoulders, and the only resistance he met with was the Doctor’s foot hooked around the bottom of a seat. A tiny bubble of hope rose in the borrower’s chest at the thought of the Time Lord fighting back. But one of the other humans, the professor, started to help the father, wrenching the foot from its hold. Zepheera struggled again, but the mother’s grip on her tightened.

Young Deedee was terribly overwhelmed, eyes darting from the mother to Zepheera and then the Doctor and back, covering her ears from all the shouting going on; with her arms pinned to her sides, Zepheera envied her that luxury. Jethro seemed emotionally conflicted at first, but eventually pitched in to carry the Doctor out after his parents had chastised him harshly. The hostess, who initially protested, was torn. And all the while, Sky cheered them on and the Doctor copied every word.

“Molto bene!” she cried triumphantly, catching both the hostess and Zepheera’s attention. The Doctor parroted his own catchphrase.

“You see!” Zepheera called in hopes she’d be heard in all the noise. “It’s not him, it’s her! That’s his voice she’s using!” This earned Zepheera a brief glance from the hostess, who turned her diligent attention to Sky.

“Allons-y!” “Allons-y!”

Now there was no mistaking it. The hostess understood the truth, and that was all Zepheera needed. 

“SHE’S TAKEN HIS VOICE!”

With determination, the woman tackled Sky against the emergency exit, smashing down the glass-shielded button without hesitation.

Six seconds of screaming and brilliant X-tonic light later, Sky and the hostess were sucked out of the vehicle, disappearing into Midnight forever.


Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Epilogue

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Zepheera-Vision — Midnight 2/4

[Spoilers for the climax of ‘Midnight’. Prepare for angst. You’ve been warned.]

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All eyes turned to Zepheera. She had been relatively quiet the entire trip, taking all the Doctor’s warnings to heart. Unless she had something that needed saying she simply observed, and when she did speak it was either to or in defense of the Doctor. Now, with her cheeks streaked with angry tears, it was finally her turn to shout.

“No one is throwing anybody off this truck, especially not him! Can’t you see he’s the victim in all this? I guess not, since the last thing you want to do is help him when he needs it the most! The charity of the human race!”

“The little one…” Sky mused, cutting off Zepheera’s tirade.
The little one…” the Doctor repeated beyond his own control.

“She’s like his pet.” “She’s like his pet.” “So loyal…and foolish.” “So loyal…and foolish.” “Poor dear, thinks the Doctor is a good man…” “Poor dear, thinks the Doctor is a good man…” “And can’t understand what’s happened to him.” “And can’t understand what’s happened to him.

“That’s it, he’s brainwashed the little thing!” Biff Cane asserted.

“She’s not a thing!” cried Dee Dee, the student, in Zepheera’s defense.

“That’s enough, Dee Dee,” the professor barked at his assistant. “It’s only a logical assumption. With a brain mass such as hers, she’s bound to be, shall we say, impressionable,” he surmised, addressing the whole company.

“I reckon she’s working with him,” Cane intoned, pointing at Zepheera accusingly. “He’s probably trained her up to believe him, do whatever he says! They’ve been in cahoots the whole time!”

“Don’t be stupid, I am not brainwashed! I am four times your age and perfectly capable of thinking on my own! Unlike some!”

“You listen here, you little–!”

“Dad, leave her alone!” Jethro Cane interjected, the dark broody teenager staring down his father.

“That’s how he does it.” “That’s how he does it.” “He makes you fight…” “He makes you fight…” “Creeps into your head…” “Creeps into your head…” “And whispers…” “And whispers…” “Listen…” “Listen…” “Just listen…” “Just listen…

Zepheera was listening, and each word Sky made the Doctor say broke her heart a little more.

“That’s him.” “That’s him.

With each repetition, the Time Lord’s jaw clenched a little harder, the tremors that seized his body worsened and his eyes brimmed with tears. The Doctor was fighting it, but he was losing.

“Inside.” “Inside.

The hopelessness of the situation hit Zepheera like a train and she fell to her knees, tears welling up in her eyes. Why do I have to be so damn USELESS?? 

“I’m sorry,” she sobbed, praying the Doctor could still hear her. “I tried, they won’t listen, I’m sorry. Sorry, sorry…”


Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Epilogue

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Zepheera-Vision — Midnight 1/4

[This is an alternate ‘Midnight’. Due to the intensity, I wanted to give this one closure. Spoilers for the climax of the episode. Prepare for angst. You’ve been warned.]


Taking a big space truck full of strangers across a diamond planet called Midnight? What could possibly go wrong?

Everything.

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“Doctor!” Zepheera cried, climbing along the bottom of an uprooted seat to look him in the eye. But he couldn’t look back. He sat on the floor trembling, unseeing eyes more full of fear than Zepheera had ever seen in them before. 

If there was one thing you learn when you sit on a man’s shoulder, it’s how much that man moves. The Doctor was always moving–always–and now he was terrifyingly still. If he could have budged, like his eyes told her he desperately wanted to, he would have. She clutched at her hair in frustration. She wanted to help, needed to, but what could she do? She couldn’t move him on her own or save him from physical harm, she was four and a half inches tall! 

For once, she wished Donna were around. The loud, boisterous human would make quick work of slapping sense into the other six, who were still arguing about what they were going to do to the Doctor. All they had done the entire time was bicker and yell, giving the borrower the worst headache. And the seventh, that Sky woman…As though she could read her mind, she stared coldly down at Zepheera with the faintest of smirks.

Now the yelling was so loud it blocked out Zepheera’s thoughts. At the very least, a couple of the humans were sticking up for the Doctor, but they were quickly shut down. One more look into the Doctor’s eyes–utterly petrified, begging for help the only way he could–and Zepheera’d had enough of these humans.

“Would you all just SHUT UP!!” she shrieked.


Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Epilogue

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