The Doctor was lying on a bed staring at the ceiling, pondering...well, even he wasn't quite sure what he was pondering. It wasn't the ceiling, though this was a particularly odd ceiling — it kept changing patterns to get his attention.
It would change from plaid to paisley, polka-dotted to striped, until it was obvious that wasn't going to work. Resolutely the Doctor stared, ignoring it all. Images of ties, ponytails, apples — all things he hated in this incarnation — nothing.
The ceiling was rather annoyed. It had tried the easy route, now it was going for the hard-core images, the ones that would send grief and heartache deep into his soul.
Well, it tried, anyway. It was only a ceiling.
Images of battle flashed, though not the Doctor's battle — those images were classified. The ceiling, however hard it tried, could only get pictures from the Galactic Image Database. A few images of Gallifrey, but just the propaganda posters — Time Lord Academy, for the best schooling in all of time and space, and the like.
The Doctor squinted a bit, but his eyes still had that far-off look. He was an expert in pondering, from 900 or so years of experience.
But the ceiling was persistent. It changed to a quick slide show of friends and companions, lingering on the ones he felt he'd let down. Positively nothing happened. In fact, the Doctor almost looked contented. Well, the ceiling wasn't having that. It'd had orders, and it was going to carry them out.
Finally, in a last-ditch attempt, it changed to a picture of the Doctor himself. He snapped out of his reverie. “Oh, blimey,” he said quietly, “not another possessed mirror. All right, all right,” the Time Lord said begrudgingly. “I'll give you points for creativity, no one puts a mirror on the ceiling.”
The ceiling was quite ecstatic. If it had been a bit smarter, it would have changed to a picture of the Jarkcov, the sight of which scares one to death immediately. But it was new at this, and rather flashy in its killing style.
The ceiling — using its newly-granted powers of sound, only usable when someone was paying attention to them — started up some very creepy music. Since it was ordered to kill this fellow, it might as well have fun with it. And though most of the things it did were overkill at worst, it did have a bit of a plan up its (nonexistent) sleeve. The lights turned on and off. Creepy shadows menaced the ceiling.
“How worryingly cliché,” said the Doctor, furrowing his brow. Aliens didn't usually study up on the great hallmarks of Earth horror films. This must be an assassin with a great deal of foresight. With a sense of doom, the Doctor stared up at the ceiling.
A flash of lightning and a crash of thunder. The ceiling was having too much fun to stop. And through it all, the Doctor stared up — stared up — stared up -
“DOCTOR, I THINK I BROKE THE TARDIS!” called Amy.
The Doctor hesitated. “Amy -” A worried glance and a glare at the ceiling. “Busy -”
Amy rolled her eyes. Knowing him, he was probably just chasing butterflies in his room. “Doctor — Important -” yelled Amy, mimicking him. She could hear him sigh all the way from the console. Another loud crash of thunder sounded. The ceiling chuckled...however a ceiling chuckles. Whatever the Doctor was doing in there, it wasn't chasing butterflies. But Amy, however spunky she might be, knew not to disturb the Doctor when he was pondering.
Ghastly screams emanated from his room, though they didn't seem to be his — bit too high-pitched, Amy thought. For a split second, the thought crossed her mind...could he be -
Immediately, she felt stupid and silly. She trusted the Doctor with her life. But it scared her that, just for one moment, she felt prepared to take a gun and -
Of course, this was exactly the ceiling's plan. Rather elaborate it may have been, and a bit cheesy, but the ceiling had been lurking there for countless TARDIS movie nights and one thing led to another. Being a ceiling, it was patient too. Knowing the Doctor's penchant to ponder, it would sit there and make as many sounds recycled from horror movies as were necessary. And if it didn't work...well, there was always the Jarkov.
So there the ceiling sat. And there the Doctor laid. It was an endless, deadly staring contest, where to lose was to win and to win was to lose.
Suddenly the TARDIS shook and the Doctor fell off the bed. His eyes were still wide open as he stared at the floor. A moment's breath, and — the sounds stopped. The lights flickered back on. The Doctor has felt death enough before to know that this wasn't it. He ran out of the room, closing the door tightly behind him.
“Oh, Amy,” he said, “thank you.”
Amy didn't know what had happened back there, but she knew those eyes. She hugged him. After a long moment, she finally asked: “Um, for what?”
The Doctor broke the hug with a wild grin on his face. “For breaking the TARDIS, of course!”
Amy grinned too. It was impossible not to.
Two days later, after a positively grueling day of sucking ice lollies on the technicolor beach of Soldei Beta 3, shopping at the galaxy's largest mall, canoeing in a lake with a glowing species of beetle living in it, and fighting absolutely no monsters whatsoever, the Doctor needed a break.
“Amy, I'm off to ponder,” he said, “face down on the floor.”
Amy supposed it was just another of his quirks, the list of which grew minute by minute. Still, it wouldn't hurt to ask. “Why?”
“Ah, well, there's a crack in the wall and a malevolent entity on the ceiling — so the floor it is!”
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