“Well that’s a bad job sorted,” the Doctor said, setting the TARDIS into motion. “You all right, Lucie?”
“Yeah, sure,” she mumbled, all traces of her earlier triumphant outburst erased. “It’s just been a day, you know?” Picking at the hem of her jacket, she blinked, willing the tears away. Gathering her brashness around her once more, she looked up at the Doctor. “How about you then? Can’t have been much fun stuck with that lot, all corporate strategy and bottom lines. Probably drove you round the bend. Well, more than usual.”
The Doctor smiled. “Oh, it wasn’t that bad. I can be quite good at corporate strategy if necessary. So, decided?”
Lucie rolled her eyes, used to the Doctor’s whiplash conversation. “Decided what? What to have for breakfast? If skinny jeans will be ‘in’ this fall? If the milk has gone off again?”
“Well, I was going to ask if you decided where to go next, but clearly your mind is made up.” He moved around the console and held out his hand, inviting her to step forward. “The kitchen it is.”
“Kitchen? How did you get kitchen from all that?”
“Well,” the Doctor drawled, “you mentioned ‘breakfast’ and ‘milk’ in the same breath, and if there was ever someone who looked like they needed a good cuppa, it’s you, Lucie Miller.”
“What about the jeans?” she asked, pausing at the kitchen door. “Or don’t you do fashion?”
The Doctor’s face went slack with indignation
“Don’t do fashion! I’ll have you know…” He stopped at her teasing grin. Brushing a non-existent speck from his coat, he replied huffily, “No, they will most decidedly not be in next fall.”
“Oh, come on, Beau Brummell. I’ll even make the tea this time,” Lucie laughed.
Later, settled around the table with the remains of a heel of gingerbread scattered between the mugs and teapot, Lucie felt it close in on her again. Picking up her mug of tea to hide the slight tremble of her fingers, she looked around the kitchen for something to distract the Doctor.
“How long has that been there?” she said, nodding toward the scorch mark above the stove. “Now I know why you never cook.”
“Or maybe you were cooking up some experiment,” she continued, ignoring him. “All mad professor and such.”
“Maybe it was beans and toast gone horribly wrong. You’d think on a space ship you could just press a button and out pops whatever you like, you know, like on Star Trek. Then again, with your luck, it would turn out to be seaweed juice and porridge.”
The Doctor reached out and steadied her hand, gently removing the mug and setting it on the table. Lucie’s breath hitched as she felt her composure slip away at the touch.
“You know, for just a moment, I wanted it to be true,” she said, angrily wiping the hot tears away.
“Wanted what to be true?” He still held her hand.
“I wanted to be that girl, the girl who had the potential to do all those awful things,” she paused. “Like Straxus said, establish regimes and…and…be a powerful leader.”
“No! You don’t understand, living out here, hopping from place to place, stopping long enough to visit the locals, do something extraordinary, and then back to the TARDIS for a cup of tea and off again,” Lucie’s voice was rising. “You don’t know what it’s like to be Lucie Miller, never quite getting it, never quite making it, no matter what always being as common as dirt. For just a few minutes, as terrible as it was, I was somebody special.”
She stood up and threw the dregs of her cup into the sink.
“I’m sorry, Doctor, maybe you should take me home after all,” Lucie said, her back to the table.
She whirled to look at him. “What? Didn’t you hear me? I just said I wanted to be the type of person who does terrible things.”
The Doctor stood and gathered her into his arms.
“No, Lucie, I will not take you home. If you only knew…” he paused, resting his chin on her head. “If you only knew some of the things I’ve done, things that I still might do, you’d be the one running from me.”
“Rubbish,” she mumbled against his jacket, letting herself relax into his embrace. “Don’t let it go to your head or anything, but you’re just about the best person - alien, I know.”
The Doctor laughed, pushing her away slightly and wiping the tears from her face with the back of his thumb. “And you, Lucie, are one of the very best humans I know. It’s not wrong to want to feel special, to feel bigger than you think you are. In fact, it’s very, very human. But what you don’t understand is that you don’t have to start an oppressive right-wing regime to accomplish that goal.”
“I don’t?” She sniffled, feeling the taint of the white hot rage slip away. “Seems to me that’s a pretty good way to go about getting an office with your name on the door.”
“After all that nonsense at the Telford Branch, you still want an office?” the Doctor teased. “No, Lucie, all you have to do is just be you. Because I think you’re extraordinary just the way you are.”
Lucie stilled, letting herself believe, for maybe the first time, that the Doctor was right.
Nudging him with her shoulder, she smiled. “Yeah, what do you know? You’re the one setting fire to the TARDIS conducting your mad experiments.”
“What! I never said I made that mark!”
“Yeah, yeah, tell it to someone else, mate. I’ve seen you murder an omelet.”
Lucie grinned at the Doctor. Giving him a quick hug, she pushed past him and headed out of the kitchen. “I’m going to get a scalding hot bath and get out of this office kit,” she called. “And the next place we go better have a beach!’
The Doctor watched her go. Shaking his head he began to gather up the remaining tea things. “Now I’m in for it.” He grinned at the thought.