This is the most complicated life anyone could ever lead.
It’s not the neat little packages one might expect of one adventure after another; quietly slip away when everyone else is happy and stumble into the next problem. She carries her experiences in the little lines of worry around her eyes.
A voice filters into her brain, breezy and light.
Unlined skin. Unnaturally so. (All the better to haunt you with.) Bright eyes watching hers, polite enough to stop what he’s doing and wait for a response. A flash of perfectly white teeth, encouraging her.
“Just thinking, Doc.”
He turns back to the console, and she wonders if he only sees surfaces.
Tegan’s reflection is still. Her eyes are her own. It does not matter; fear curses her. Once your body is stolen, it is never entirely your own again. She blames everyone but herself; somebody should have told her that there really was a universe out there and that nobody bothers with health warnings.
She presses her hand against the glass, cold against flesh. Cold like the coil that had spun its way through her mind: soft, serpent-like, and seductive in its promises. She had never wanted power, but it had made her a promise of something else.
And she’s scared that a part of her agreed. (Why is the memory of his exasperation so much clearer than any other?)
Her eyes are still her own, but she takes the mirror out of her room anyway.
It was painful.
Tegan had never been stabbed before. The Doctor, of course, had saved her, escaping into the forest where the TARDIS had landed only hours before. If she was going to die, at least she’d have a pleasant view: flora was in bloom, and the air was heavy with scent and that was the sound of the Doctor’s feet on the undergrowth and this was her hand that she couldn’t feel and this was her jacket slick with dark blood.
Gentle hands laid her down in the medical bay of the TARDIS. He tended to her wounds, but oh so clinically. His reassurances were made up of stock phrases.
And she knew that the best she could hope for afterwards would be a quick enquiry of how she was feeling.
She says she feels fine, thanks very much for asking. Are we anywhere interesting? (Will there be many people trying to kill us today?)
“Are you sure these stitches will hold?” Some time later, and they are racing towards a tower block that shouldn’t exist.
“Of course,” she hears, but what he says is this isn’t some primitive medicine where the guts of an animal are holding you together. I’m a Time Lord, we know better. And, by the way, I’m about to save the world, try and keep some perspective, there’s a good human.
She’s trying to forget how much she hurts. She, just she, (me) one person that he can’t seem to save, because he doesn’t notice that she’s damaged.
She passes by Adric’s old room one day, and breaks.
He couldn’t save him either. So close, but that’s not a distance that the Doctor knows how to reach. She finds herself sitting on his bed and staring at the costume he wore at the Cranleigh’s party.
So he finds her there, staring and crying and scrunching her hands into fists, because she hasn’t the heart to smash the belongings of a dead person.
“I remember him too,” he tells her, but she doesn’t believe him.
He leaves her dreaming of being a car mechanic.
Weeks now, and still there are repairs he is making. It’s relaxing enough that he occasionally whistles.
Tegan wishes that there were windows in this ship, and yet exploring is peaceful enough, and there is so much that she doesn’t know about in the TARDIS that she doesn’t feel bored.
The Cloisters become her sanctuary, calming enough to make her suspect that there is a narcotic in the air. She moves in with a deckchair and a stack of books.
A tape deck followed. Then a kettle, some cushions. A sofa. A poster or two. An old camp bed and a shelf for the books.
It should have destroyed the atmosphere. It didn’t.
“Sometimes, Tegan...” says the Doctor when he finds her (eventually). He shakes his head and grins.
She smiles back.
Sometimes they’ll have tea together in the rain room. She’ll think of Earth and he’ll tell her about all the wonderful places in the universe she’s never going to see because they’re too busy helping the not so wonderful places.
Sometimes she’ll tease him, and hope he’s smiling on the inside too.
Sometimes it’s quiet enough for her to know she’s the only one inside her head.
Sometimes it’s enough, sometimes it isn’t.
There are smiles, he laughs sometimes. Some days, she isn’t afraid of dying.
He sees her, but she doesn’t think he knows her. Alien with a human face; that’s not natural. But she’s doing big things now; her father would probably be proud.
Her mother would be surprised.
Silly girl, wanting to throw in the heroics to come home and curl up in a duvet with hot chocolate and watch daytime television. You’re lucky, you know, not many people get these sorts of chances.
And don’t worry about the scars: they’re invisible.