The Hidden Well

by Kalleah [Reviews - 208]

Printer Chapter or Story
  • All Ages
  • None
  • Action/Adventure

Author's Notes:
Emelia takes matters into her own hands, much to the Doctor's disapproval, and Rose has to explain to Jonah that she needs to leave him behind.

It was not in Emelia Trabane's nature to wait quietly, especially when she was waiting because the Doctor had asked — no, told her to do so. She cast a quick look around and decided that she might as well put the time to good use. Still in a crouch to keep herself below the windows of her flat, she hustled around the corner and then, once out of direct line of sight, broke into a run.

She threw open her office door and went immediately to a cabinet she kept locked, but fortunately not with modern technology. While the metal key itself was quaintly out of date, it was also unfamiliar to most would-be thieves, who might feel comfortable hacking a more modern lock. She opened the cabinet and withdrew the blaster.

It was a Noxtirran blaster, a petite and lightweight model designed for a woman's hand, but nevertheless exceedingly effective at short range. Her mother had given it to her when she had been selected for her first planetary modification project. "Those places are wild," her mother had said. "Learn to shoot, even if you don't like it. You might thank me one day."

"Thanks, Mum," Emelia breathed, tucking the blaster into the waist of her trousers. She didn't bother to close the cabinet or even the office door behind her as she ran out.

She resumed her uncomfortable crouching position and strained to hear some sound from the flat. There was none. After an interminable period of waiting, with the rapid lub-dub of her heart the only sound she heard, she gave in. She patted herself down to make sure the blaster wasn't obvious. In the event that the Doctor had made any headway — however unlikely that was — she didn't want to escalate the situation by flashing around a weapon.

She cautiously eased the door open and stepped inside. Her eyes, already well adjusted to the darkness outside, easily registered that there was no one else in the room with her. The gizmo that the Doctor and Connor had laboured over was gone.

Damn, she thought. What could have happened in the time it took her to run and get her blaster? "Hello," she called, her voice sounding more tentative than she liked.

In response, there was a muffled thump from behind the bathroom door. She thought she heard a voice. "Doctor?" she said, crossing the room and standing in front of the door. She squinted at the door knob, which looked distinctly odd. She reached out her hand and brushed it experimentally with two fingers. It was misshapen and still vaguely warm.

"Emelia," she heard from behind the door, followed by a faint whine and a flicker of blue light around what was left of the knob. "Did you see where he went?"

"Where who went?" she said, leaning closer to the door.

"Wilson Wittener." Despite the closed door between them, he sounded distinctly annoyed. "Did you see where he went?"

"No," she said, feeling chastened and then just as quickly quite angry to have felt that way. "I was hiding. Remember?" Then, as his words struck her, she whispered, almost to herself, "Wilson?" One of her people, then, as he had said. She felt sick.

"Oh, perfect," came the sarcastic response. "You wandered off, didn't you?" He followed up the rhetorical question with a stream of disparaging comments about humans and several inventive curses, some of which Emelia hadn't actually heard before.

The knob seemed to drip away from the door and with a kick, the Doctor had opened the door and was free. His eyes glittered in the reflected moonlight and his hair was standing up in all directions, like he had been electrocuted.

"What did I tell you?" he demanded, waving the sonic screwdriver at her. "I said 'Stay hidden,' not 'Why don't you take a scenic tour of the project. It looks so lovely by moonlight.' And I most certainly did not say anything about coming into the flat!"

"You could have let me in on your brilliant plan," she hissed back. "'Hi honey, I'm home'? What in the hell is that?"

The Doctor put the sonic screwdriver away and fixed her with a stern schoolmaster's glare. "I caught him off guard," he said. "He wasn't going to kill me. You can't very well ascribe a blaster shot to the head or chest as an accident. He should have taken me with him! Why can't I run into a competent opponent? Locks me in a bathroom and runs off to have someone else tell him what to do next." He glowered at Emelia. "At least he respects the chain of command."

"You're bleeding," she pointed out, noting the wound above his eye and the smeared blood for the first time.

"It's nothing." He gave his forehead a quick swipe with the back of his hand. "Now, you are going to the emergency shelter and I am going to go turn the power back on. Is that a clear enough set of instructions for you or do you want me to draw you a diagram? Maybe a flowchart? Interpretive dance?"

"Oh, do shut up," she snapped. "If you're going to the labs then I'm coming too. Do you think I'm letting you near the power grid without supervision? You can't even land your own damn ship —"

His hand shot across the gap between them and gripped her wrist, the unexpected contact enough to startle her into silence. As soon as she stopped speaking, he released her. "Now, let's back up," he said in a rigidly controlled tone. "I am going to go restore power so you lot don't have to worry about all the breathable air being sucked out."

She glared.

"What was so important that you had to leave the scene?" he asked, studying her carefully. She resisted the urge to fidget under his scrutiny. "Hmm?" His eyes narrowed and his frown intensified when he spotted the slight bulge at her waistline. "Oh, that's just rich. Give it to me," he said, holding out his hand.

"It's mine," she said stiffly. One hand went instinctively to cover the blaster at her hip.

"Well, of course it is," he said, his voice fairly oozing condescension. "Now, give it to me, Emelia. We don't need to settle this with violence." His hand stayed out, palm up.

She took a step back and pulled the blaster out. She held it with both hands, aimed carefully down at the ground. "Come and take it," she challenged, feeling dominant and in control for the first time in quite a while. "I mean to protect this project and my family. You can either accept that or you can get out of the way."

She didn't recognize the expression that crossed his face — pity? acceptance? — and it was gone before she could process it.

"I can't let you harm anyone," he said softly, taking a step forward. His hand stayed out, now entreating rather than commanding. His eyes seemed almost kind. "Emelia. You don't want to do this."

"They killed nine people," she choked out. "We're wasting time. Are you going to the labs or not?"

The din of dozens of people in close proximity in the shelter, with their chattering and movement and smells, was nothing for Rose now that she knew what it felt like to be Jonah, to hear and feel and experience the minds of all those people.

"Jonah," she said, kneeling down to be on eye level with him. His clear eyes watched her warily, for he already knew what she would ask. She could feel his mind against hers, winding close for comfort but not, as he had been earlier, clutching desperately.

She stroked his cheek with her hand and simply let herself feel love for him. His need and closeness were familiar now, despite the isolation he had lived in for so long. "You can be brave," she said. "I know you are. Your dad and I need to go to turn the power back on. It's the best way to keep your mum and the Doctor safe."

The touch from Jonah was shocking; he had never before initiated physical contact. His hand came up, cupped around hers, still touching his cheek, and his gaze never left hers.

"Mmmm," he mumbled, and at the same time, his mental embrace lessened. She turned her hand so she could hold his and brought it over to her lips for a light kiss.

"You are brave," she told him, smiling despite the tears that had welled up unbidden in her eyes. "I'm so proud of you."

When she stood, Connor bent and hugged Jonah tightly. "We'll be back soon," he said, pressing his cheek into Jonah's dark curls.

Rose hoped he wouldn't become a liar.

"Doctor!" shouted Emelia, kicking up a cloud of dust as she tore around the corner. His long coat flapped behind him. If she could have reached it, she would have given it a hearty yank to stop him in his tracks. "Doctor! The labs are the other way!"

"Not going to the labs yet," he answered, not bothering to turn his head back toward her.

She gritted her teeth. "Then where the hell are we going?" He didn't answer but kept running, and Emelia could either follow or give up and go to the shelter.

As they pelted around yet another section building, it occurred to her where he was headed and she wanted to howl. Section Eight. The new flat.

His damned ship.

"Doctor!" she yelled again, and apparently, there was some note in her voice that got his attention this time, for he drew up short and whirled to face her. He didn't give her time to lodge her protest at their destination.

"I am going to the TARDIS," he said flatly. "I told you to go to the shelter with the others." His eyes dropped briefly to her waist, telling her he hadn't forgotten about the blaster she carried. "I don't have time to figure out whatever they've done to knock out your primary and backup generators. I'm going to get the TARDIS to the labs and temporarily use her to supply your power grid." He spoke in an angry rush, all of the words tumbling out and knocking into Emelia. "If you're coming, then come on!"

Before she could speak, he was on the run again, and despite her misgivings, she couldn't let him out of her sight. She didn't know how she could explain everything that had happened — oh God, not Wilson, not Frances! — but she did know that he was her best chance to get it put right again.

She took off behind him.

The Doctor had to swipe his keycard twice to get them into the flat, which Emelia took as a sign that his nerves were as frayed as her own. He rushed down the hallway and flung open the closet door. His hands were steadier as he unlocked the TARDIS door with an antique key, or perhaps the motion was more familiar.

He disappeared into the ship's interior and Emelia stood for a moment in the painfully plain bedroom, with its neutral, inoffensive coverlet and blandly painted walls, staring into the green and orange glow of the ship's interior. In the centre of the room was a towering glass-and-metal column, obviously housing the controls from the way that the Doctor ran around it, shifting levers and twirling knobs.

"Stop staring and hurry up!" he shouted, circling around to the other side. The glass tubes cut off her view of him. He didn't sound diabolical, only distracted.

For the moment, she stood her ground. "Can we get there without you mucking up?" she asked, raising her voice to be heard over the increasing rumble coming from the ship.

His face popped out from around the column and his expression was thunderous. "Are you coming, or not?" He clipped each word off with scientific precision.

She stepped inside, and quick as a flash, he had secured the doors behind her. "Hang on," he said, in a less antagonistic tone, and she grabbed on to one of the winding supports as the ship lurched and shuddered into motion.

"Is — it — always — this — bumpy?" she asked, her teeth chattering together as the vibrations rattled her whole body. We could be going anywhere. Anytime. I could come back and they could all be dead. She pushed the terror out of her mind and tried to focus on holding herself as steady as she could considering the forces around her.

With a screech and a jolt, they stopped.