From her perch on top of the railing around the console, Zepheera watched the two human-sized men across the room. She knew better than anyone that neither of them were human, and in fact, they were the same man.
The TARDIS had gone berserk, throwing the four and a half inch tall woman off the Doctor’s shoulder and halfway across the room. She was thankfully unharmed, but it didn’t take long to notice the entirely new presence. At first Zepheera scrambled to hide from the stranger, but when the Doctor seemed to recognize this man, her wariness shifted to confusion.
This was only magnified when the new man referred to himself as the Doctor, and was seemingly unaware that he was face to face with a future incarnation of his.
Rather than clearing up the confusion and introducing his tiny companion, Zepheera’s Doctor was entirely caught up in his nostalgia and the excitement of the impending crisis. Zepheera had never seen someone so entirely pleased to meet himself.
She’d have to introduce herself, she determined as she dashed across the thick pipe of the railing.
48. What were their parents like? How has that affected how they are as an adult?
Zepheera’s parents, Tack and Klerida, were a young, loving borrower couple with a happy and healthy baby girl. Klerida was headstrong and set in her ways, determined to have the perfect family. On the other hand, Tack was agreeable yet ambitious. After the birth of his daughter, he knew he wanted the best for her. He had loads of plans for teaching her how to borrow when she got older, and even started learning how to read from the human children’s books (in 1927, it was common for borrowers to go their whole lives without learning how to read or write).
Then when Zepheera was a year old, her father died in her nursery in a terrible calamity, the source of which could be traced back to Zepheera herself. With Tack’s death, something broke inside Klerida and was lost forever. She became very hateful toward Zepheera, taking advantage of the child’s healing factor to physically abuse her. This shifted more toward mental abuse when Klerida remarried and had another child named Kernel.
By then, Zepheera was old enough to spend more of her time with her father’s brother, Boston. He was kind to her, taught her everything he knew
Zepheera ran away from home at age 17 and soon thereafter ceased to age. She’s had decades to separate herself from her childhood and move on with her life, but one thing lingers from those days that will not leave easily: Zepheera is terrified of becoming a parent, almost deathly so. The last thing she wants is to somehow end up like her mother.
This fear blinds her to the fact that she’s actually great with kids, very protective and no-nonsense yet fun-loving and encouraging.
Out of seven likenesses of Zepheera, six fell to their knees writhing in pain as the Doctor sauntered into the room with a noise maker. The one that wasn’t an alien brightened and hurried to join her friend.
Being four and a half inches tall, she naturally crossed the room at a much slower rate than the Time Lord, and suddenly he was standing over her, the noise maker still going on. Ever aware of his borrower companion, the Doctor came to a stop when she approached him, staring pointedly at the alien doubles of Zepheera as he continued to spin his strange weapon against them.
“I think you got em!” Zepheera called up, glancing back at her copies. Most of them had fallen unconscious from the sensory overload their extremely sensitive ears were experiencing.
Looking back at the Doctor, he gave the noise maker a few last turns for good measure, then bent down to offer a hand to his tiny friend.
“And a happy new year,” he quipped, lifting her to her usual spot on his shoulder.
The borrower blinked hard, dazed. The voice– her Time Lord’s voice was loud but distant to her ears. barely breaking through the ringing that filled her head. Heat and smoke surrounded her, along with rough blurry shapes, some stationary and looming and others towering and moving fast.
It came back to Zepheera in pieces; landing in the middle of a battle, being separated from the TARDIS and then from the Doctor. Something hit Zepheera, knocking the breath out of her as she tumbled to the ground. Everything was chaos, and the Doctor was calling her name.
He was getting closer, she could tell. His voice was louder, and the ground beneath her started to tremble with more rhythmic force that the nearly constant low rumble of the battle. Zepheera blinked again and tried to sit up, but she was pinned from the waist down by a chunk of rubble. The pressure dawned on her, and she gave a pained moan, coughing involuntarily.
Zepheera had always been able to heal remarkably fast, but she was not invulnerable. If she was hurt badly enough, she would certainly die. And at four and a half inches tall, to say that this was a useful ability would be an understatement. The fact that she was still alive despite the weight on her waist and legs was a good sign.
“Doctor!” she croaked, propping herself on her elbows and craning her neck to find her giant friend. She bit back a wince as more tremors– footsteps getting closer and closer– aggravated her lower body wounds. It was worth it to see the shape of her friend come into view.
But he didn’t see her right away. His hearing was usually accurate to the point of being uncanny. In the chaos of battle, however, everything was thrown out of balance. He knew better than to wander aimlessly, but Zepheera’s heart sank at how panicked he looked, eyes manic as they searched desperately for his tiny companion.
“Where are you?!” he shouted over the commotion. The battle was escalating, and the Doctor and Zepheera were both unarmored and unarmed.
“Down here!” she yelled back, waving one arm widely and doing her best to be as visible as possible.
The Doctor’s eyes finally landed on her, and he quickly hunched protectively over her as he removed the debris pinning her down. Naturally, he fretted over the state of her legs, but Zepheera assured them that they were starting to heal; she could feel it the moment she aligned the bones. The larger of the two needed to focus on getting the both of them to safety.
The Doctor froze as his tiny companion piped
up from his shoulder. By the time he glanced over to look at Zepheera, she’d
clambered over the edge of his shoulder and started climbing down his arm with
the obvious intention of reaching the floor this way.
“Wha–?” he gasped; the borrower he
traveled with had no qualms about using the Doctor as a jungle gym in the past,
and he usually didn’t mind, but she’d never tried to do it while he was standing,
let alone walking around.
Without warning, he twisted his arm around
front to see his companion. Zepheera gave a startled cry as she lost her grip
on the pinstriped fabric of his suit, scrambling until her feet touched down on
the inside of the Doctor’s bent elbow. She shot a glare up at him after the
surprise wore off, rolling her eyes as his brow shot up like he didn’t know
what she was upset about.
The Doctor turned his hand to face palm-up to
make up for it, and Zepheera begrudgingly jogged along his forearm to stand on
it like a platform. From there, he carefully lowered himself to the floor and
let her off nearby. She hopped off immediately, excitement filling each of her
four and a half inches.
“Check this!” she called up,
darting across the floor toward a small object that the Doctor had nearly
walked right past. Crouching near the strange item, Zepheera looked expectantly
up at the Doctor. He was the expert on alien things, and she had no doubt that
this fell into that category. “This what we’re looking for?”
“Could be,” the Doctor conceded as
he dug through the inside pocket of his suit. He whipped out his spectacles and
threw them on before leaning in for a closer look at what Zepheera had found.
“Why do you do that?” asked
Zepheera as she backed off a few inches to give the Doctor room to inspect her
find. “You don’t seem to need those.”
“Sure I do!” the Time Lord
protested, looking utterly offended.
Zepheera put her hands on her hips. “No,
you don’t! You’re just wasting a few seconds so you can look a bit
The Doctor shot her a look, caught between a
glare and a pout.
Zepheera’s mind reeled. She and the Doctor had gone in search of someplace in the universe to relax and have a good time, and as usual ended up running for their lives. Zepheera hardly understood what was going on, but as the Doctor piloted the TARDIS away to buy precious time before their pursuers could catch up, he explained what he needed to do.
The Doctor needed to become human and lay low on Earth.
Before Zepheera could even begin to ask how he would accomplish that, he started rattling off a list of things she would need to do to take care of him. She gaped at him from her spot on the console, wondering how in the world he expected a four-inch-tall woman to take care of a six-foot-one human.
“And five, very important, five,” the Doctor emphasized, breaking Zepheera out of her thoughts. “Don’t let me eat pears. I hate pears!”
“How exactly am I supposed to accomplish that without being seen?” she huffed. That was back in Number two in his instructions; at least she and the Doctor agreed that they couldn’t predict how this human version of him would react to a tiny woman. He wouldn’t be the Doctor anymore, so she was encouraged to take precautions.
The Doctor shrugged. “I dunno, steal them if I – er, he – purchases any!”
“We’ve been over this,” Zepheera frowned, “I don’t steal.”
“C’mon, for me!” the Doctor pleaded, pulling his puppy-dog eyes. “I’m sure you’ll think of something, you’re always clever like that.”
Zepheera rolled her eyes, knowing full well that he was buttering her up and hating that it was working. “Number six?” she sighed.
Thanks so much for your patience, guys! Midterms are wrapping up, and I am working on the prompts in my box, so keep an eye out for those!
“Y’know, I do have a life outside of work,” griped the Doctor as several officers led him through the crowded halls.
For his tiny companion’s part, Zepheera kept close to the Doctor’s neck. The borrower often rode on his shoulder, but it wasn’t often he was called in to U.N.I.T. The United Nations Intelligence Taskforce had employed the Doctor as an alien expert decades ago for them, centuries ago for him. Time travel didn’t stop them from summoning him unexpectedly, and since it was usually when the world was in danger, the Doctor continually felt obligated to come.
Zepheera was usually wary around humans or other humanoid creatures she and the Doctor encountered; it was only natural, given she was four and a half inches tall. But these UNIT folk… they were both scientific and militaristic. Half of them carried guns and the other half carried clipboards, and Zepheera had deep reservations about such people. But they thankfully ignored her, apart from a few confused or curious glances.
The Doctor was led in to a room with very large screens and a set of very important-looking people. All except a shorter, dark-skinned woman saluted the Time Lord as he entered. Rolling his eyes, the Doctor smiled at his old friend.
“Doctor Jones, pleasure as always.”
Martha nodded, grinning at Zepheera who already felt more at ease with someone she recognized.
“Alright, what’s the dealio this time?” the Doctor sighed as he sank into a computer chair, propping his feet up. Zepheera jumped up and darted across the Doctor’s body, grateful for a path to a solid surface. The Doctor was prone to fidgets when agitated, which he often was at UNIT. People with guns put him off.
One of the Important People stared at Zepheera as she slowed her pace to carefully navigate the folds of fabric and the awkward angles of the Doctor’s crossed legs. “What is that?” he demanded.
“She’s with me,” said the Doctor, brushing it off.
“He said, she’s with him,” Martha cut in emphatically. “They travel together, and I can assure you she’s more than clever enough to keep up and keep secrets.”
The Important Person resigned himself after seeing the scathing looks from both Martha and the Doctor. “Very well… Our officers found something that might be of interest to you, Doctor.” The screen before them brightened as it turned on, displaying an incredible image just as Zepheera hopped past the Doctor’s Converse and onto the table. “Can you identify it?”
Zepheera stared in awe at the screen, then turned to look at the Doctor through the gap in his shoes. He gave a pout and shook his head. “I dunno,” he answered, though Zepheera suspected he was being less than honest. He did enjoy messing with the tightwads that worked for UNIT on occasion.
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.
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.
Zepheera’s heart pounded, threatening to climb straight out of her throat.
This was no dumbstruck human she was facing. No, that would give her an opportunity to dash away. His countenance was perfectly calm with a touch of contemplation, his eyes cold and calculating. He wasn’t just staring at Zepheera, he was studying her. Memories of that same look from scientists peppered over the course of her long life came clawing to the forefront of her mind, and she had to actively push past them. She needed to find a way out of this, escape the man’s reach somehow and find the Doctor fast.
Before she could even glance away from him, his hand was upon her. His palm filled her vision and his fingers, each almost as long as her entire body, were curling over her head. In a split second, she was snatched up in a loose fist, her four-and-a-half-inch-tall body squished into a ball.
Humans were fast, she lamented belatedly.
Zepheera felt the movement as the hand was lowered and what little light that peeked in through the cracks between the fingers disappeared. With no warning, the pressure around her loosened and she dropped into a dark pocket. She had no time to protest; the man was immediately on the move.
He’d placed her into the outside pocket of his wool coat and it flapped with each and every step the man took, making it nearly impossible for Zepheera to climb out. To avoid hurting herself and lessen the motion sickness, she tucked herself into a corner and breathed as deeply as she could in the cramped, stuffy space. Panic threatened to overcome her, but she refused to let it. She would need a clear mind in order to find the Doctor after she got out of this.