Coping

by morgeil [Reviews - 6]

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  • All Ages
  • General
  • Character, Study, Missing, Scene, General

Author's Notes:
This fic used to be a lot smaller, but I’ve been adding to it very slowly over the past two years. It’s not finished yet, but you’re welcome to R&R what’s here. I’ll see about bugging my Inspiration into letting me finish it one of these days.

Ian closed the door to Barbara’s room and turned a pair of cold eyes on the Doctor. He was both disappointed and angered to find that the old man refused to meet his gaze, opting instead to clutch rigidly at his lapels and study the Ship’s floor. It seemed like an age before the Doctor broke the silence.

"How is she?"

"A bit shaken, but coping well… given the circumstances."

"Yes, well… she and Susan were very close."

"She asked me stay beside her tonight." He pretended not to notice the Doctor’s frown.

"Did she, indeed?"

"She’s not ready to sleep in the room alone." Another silence.

"Doctor?"

"Hmm?"

Ian turned away and rested his gaze on the door, speaking softly. "Doctor… you didn’t let us say goodbye to her."

Strains of guilt crossed the Doctor’s his face. "I’m sorry, my boy. But Susan made a decision…"

Ian felt his anger rising again. "What decision? You locked her out! You could have least let Barbara and me say goodbye! Did it ever occur to you that she meant as much to us as she did to you?"

The Doctor closed his eyes, obviously pained. Without waiting for an answer, Ian stormed into Barbara’s room and slammed the door. The Doctor stared at the shut door for a few moments, fingering his lapels sadly and sighed.

"I’m sorry, Ian. I really am." Then he turned and walked silently back to the control room.

--

Barbara was lying on her cot, fingering the fabric of a brown coat she had pressed against her chest. The coat itself had belonged to Susan and was one of several the recently departed girl had favored during their travels. Barbara held the cloth tightly in her arms, lost in her memories.

It was silly, really. The girl was neither kin nor a long-time family friend, but her absence left a large gaping hole in Barbara's heart. She felt as if she had lost a child.

Silly. Susan wasn't your daughter, Susan wasn't even from your race. Why are you feeling so lost? And what about the Doctor? She was his grandchild, how much worse do you think he feels?

Barbara wasn't sure when she first began to consider Susan as part of her family. She wasn’t human, no. But she cried human tears on Barbara's shoulder and gave her human hugs when she feared she and Ian would leave the Ship for good.

A human foster mother? Barbara would have liked to think so... but the cold, logical part of her mind was reminding her of the absurdity of it all.

But why? Why weren't she and Ian allowed to say goodbye? What about their needs, their attachment.

Suddenly, the sound of Ian's shouting in the hallway outside startled Barbara out of her conflicting thoughts. The door to the bedroom was flung open in fury and slammed close in a similar manner. She sat up on the cot and saw Ian leaning against the door - his back facing her - breathing slowly in attempt to get his anger under control. He remained in this position for several pregnant minutes before turning and registering Barbara's presence for the first time.

"Barbara... I'm - I'm sorry. I didn't mean to startle you."

"It's all right. What happened? I heard shouting."

Her companion ran a hand through his neatly-trimmed hair, then sighed and moved to sit down beside her. "I'm not all together certain myself, actually. The Doctor and I were talking and I..."

"And you lost your temper." She smirked slightly. Disagreements between the Doctor and Ian weren't exactly an unusual occurrence.

Ian sighed again, lowering his head slightly and burying his face in his hands. "I didn't mean to snap at him, I... I just couldn't forget. The whole time he was speaking to her through the scanner. It was as if we didn't exist."

"I know," she said softly.

"No chance for goodbyes, no chance for anything. He just activated the controls without so much as a by-your-leave. It felt like it did in the beginning, Barbara. Like we were intruders again, inferior and unwelcome." He paused then and glanced at her curiously. "You seem a lot better than you were earlier. I thought you were upset?"

"I was. I still am. But I had been thinking. I mean, this is the Doctor's Ship. And Susan is his granddaughter."

Ian looked at her sharply. "What are you saying? That we didn't have the right to say goodbye?"

"No! It's just... The Doctor and Susan come from a different time, a different planet entirely. What if their customs are different?"

"Different enough to include locking your own flesh and blood out when you feel she's ready to leave the nest?" Ian felt his anger rising again.

"That's not what I meant! We knew something was going to change, Ian! I mean, Susan and David... it was obvious. Would you really force your child to choose between you and the man she loved?"

"No, of course not. But to shut her out like that! To shut us out. Barbara, surely you can't justify that?"

"No, I can't! I'm just saying..." The rising tension between them became too much for Barbara and she felt tears begin to flow. "I, I don't know what I'm saying..."

Ian felt his frustration ebb away rapidly at the sight of Barbara's face. His expression softened as he closed the space between them and hugged her tightly. "I'm sorry," he whispered in her ear. "We're both shaken and not thinking clearly. It might be wise to just sleep on it and discuss it in the morning."

Barbara felt her face flush slightly. "About that..."

"Yes?"

"You don't have to stay with me tonight. I'll be fine."

"Are you sure? It would be no trouble for me to just sleep on the other cot..."

"I'm sure. Besides, what would the Doctor think?"

"Well, it's not as if we haven't slept in the same room before... "

He was right. Barbara remembered several nights during the beginning of their travels in the TARDIS, back in the days when she had trouble coping with the possibly of never seeing 1960's Earth again. The cold reality of being trapped in an alien ship with their estranged former pupil and the grandfather who had kidnapped them, of being wretched from everything she had known and loved… it drains one of all strength and all confidence. There were times she felt she was fighting to keep her head on straight.

She found she had trouble sharing a room with Susan in those days; she felt so insecure. So during those sleepless nights and the growing feelings of despair and fear... she sought Ian out. Because he was the only one she trusted and the only one who understood. He was familiar. The last familiar thing she had left.

He always received her gladly, no matter what time of night it was. They would talk on some occasions and other times just sit in silence, each taking comfort in the fact that at least they weren't alone. He was always the gentleman, giving her his cot if she was too tired to leave and opting to sleep on the floor.

The curious thing was that Susan never commented on her frequent absences. And if the Doctor ever took notice of those nightly visits (and she was almost certain he had), he turned a blind eye to it as well. Or pretended to, rather.

She shook her head. "I'll be all right, Ian, really."

He still looked unconvinced. "All the same, I think I'll stay for a little while to be sure. Just until you fall asleep. You had me worried, you know. Becoming all distant like that all of a sudden."

She smiled at his concern. "All right. But just until I fall asleep. Then it's straight to your own room!"

Ian laughed. "Yes, ma'am!"

--

The first thing Barbara noticed when she woke was that someone had draped a blanket over her sometime during the night. But that in itself wasn't strange. Ian did tend to be overly concerned at times and the Doctor stored plenty of extra blankets and sleepwear in the bedroom roundels.

No, what was strange was that she sensed a presence still in the room. She stole a glance at the cot next to hers and smiled slightly when she found Ian sleeping peacefully upon it. She rose as quietly as she could, straitening the clothes she had slept in and catching the blanket as it slipped off her waist. She stood and approached Ian's cot quietly, not wanting to disturb him.

After gazing at him for a moment, she reached over and she draped the blanket over his sleeping form, tucking it around him gently. As she did, she found her hands lingering... just for a moment. She removed them quickly and headed to the Ship's showers to wash and change.



Notes:

--Yes, I know there are actually no bedroom doors in the Hartnell era version of the TARDIS interior. But adding their existence makes plotting a bit easier... and if published Who authors can put doors where they shouldn't be without getting criticized for it, I can too. So nyah! ;)

--Those who've read earlier fics I set in this era might have noticed my reluctance to write for Susan or Vicki. Especially Susan. I tend to pick Doctor/Companion teams who's personalities I can identify with and relate to. It's this reason I can write for Ian and Babs with such ease. (And Hartnell Doc is just plain fun to write for!) Susan, on the other hand, is completely Anti-Me. I wouldn't even know where to start to characterize her correctly.


--If ever I continue it, the next part will spotlight the Doctor for a bit, as Barbara tries to talk to him and understand why he did what he did.