The Recorder in the Room

by dbskyler [Reviews - 3]

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  • All Ages
  • None
  • Character Study

Author's Notes:
Written for magpieinthesky for Yuletide 2013. Many thanks to Persiflage for the beta!

He stood there, Rani's small digital recorder in his hand. Rani had originally been given this recorder so she could practice her journalism skills, such as recording interviews, and notes on investigations, but he knew that she also used it to record other things, from simple reminders about homework to feelings that came straight from her teenage heart. Listening to her voice on this recorder would be like reading a diary; it was an invasion of her privacy, and he knew he shouldn't do it.

But, he was going to do it anyway.

* * *

"Ealing is amazing," Rani's voice announced from the recorder. "It's so much more interesting here than in Danemouth. There's this woman, Sarah Jane, who lives across the road. She's a journalist! She has a son named Luke who seems nice, and there's another boy named Clyde. He's . . . okay. Kind of annoying, actually. Full of himself, you know? I don't think he likes me too much. He kept going on about this girl, Maria, who used to live in my house. I wonder if he and Maria went out? Sarah Jane, though, she's brilliant. She saves the world! Really! And today, I got to help save the world, too. I've never felt so important. I think I'm going to really like it here."

* * *

He paused, thinking, then skipped ahead to a file labeled with a later date.

* * *

"Today . . . well, you'd never believe what happened today. I feel like I need to tell someone, but I promised to keep it a secret. I can't tell Mum and Dad. They wouldn't understand, anyway. I really want to email Sam about it. I miss him. It's been amazing since we moved -- more amazing than I could have imagined -- but I miss Danemouth sometimes. Well, no, I don't miss Danemouth, but I miss Sam. He was my best mate. I don't have a best mate here. Well, there's Clyde, and Luke. They're my friends. I can't really talk to them, though, not like I could talk to Sam. Yesterday I tried to talk to Clyde about something important, but he just made a joke. He makes me so mad sometimes! I can see why Dad doesn't like him. I like him, though. I mean, as a friend. We're mates. At least, I think we're mates. He still talks about Maria a lot. I wonder if he misses Maria the way I miss Sam?"

* * *

What was that about Sam? Why hadn't she told him? What else hadn't she told him?

* * *

"Really scary day today. There was this alien called the Trickster, and he tricked Sarah Jane into letting him through to take over the Earth in the past. Suddenly, everything changed here, and Clyde and I were the only ones who remembered how things were supposed to be. We even saw Mum, and she didn't know me at all. Clyde was brilliant, though. I was terrified that we'd never find a way to fix it, but he was so brave! I'm really glad he was there with me."

* * *

He wasn't sure what to think about that. Rather than spend too much time on it, he skipped ahead again.

* * *

"My parents saw aliens today. I had to pretend that I didn't believe them, which was really hard. What else can I do, though? I can't tell them what I'm really up to when they think I'm just hanging out at Sarah Jane's. I hope that if they ever learn the real truth, they'll forgive me for it. In other news, I've been grounded! Not grounded-by-my-parents grounded, but really, properly grounded by the Judoon. I'm not allowed to leave the planet, and neither is Clyde. Crazy, right? It's weird, but I'm actually a little sad about it. Not that I really think I'll ever get a chance to leave Earth, but not being allowed to leave feels unfair. What if there's some amazing chance to go into space, and Sarah Jane offers to take us, and I have to miss out? At least Clyde would have to miss out too. And I bet he'd be even more disappointed than me, so that's all right then."

* * *

He paused, his hand over the "play" button for the next file. He was getting information, but he still hadn't learned what he needed to know. Was it here at all? Was it worth it to keep invading Rani's privacy like this?

He hesitated, then again pushed "play."

* * *

"I met the Doctor today! The actual Doctor, Sarah Jane's friend, the alien who introduced her to other aliens and took her traveling in space and time. He was every bit as amazing as Sarah Jane said. Poor Sarah Jane, though. Her wedding had to be called off. I'm not even sure what happened to her fiancé, but I guess he wasn't really still alive? She's crushed. I wish there was something I could do to make her feel better. It's all the Trickster's fault. I really hate him! But Clyde was incredible. He challenged the Trickster, and hurt him with this energy he had from the Doctor's TARDIS. Every time I think Clyde's just a goof, he goes and does something like that. He actually risked his life for us."

* * *

Well now, that was something he hadn't expected to hear.

* * *

"Mum's memory got erased today, so she no longer remembers meeting aliens. It's probably just as well. Dad must still remember, but he never talks about it. I wonder what he thinks about it all? I wonder what he would say if I told him what I do now every day after school? I had a really long conversation with Clyde about it the other day. It bothers him too that he has to keep secrets from his mother. It helped to talk to him about it, though. We can't share everything with our parents, but at least we can share with each other, right? We can trust each other."

* * *

He felt terrible. He shouldn't be listening to these entries. But, he had to keep going.

* * *

"Today I saw the Doctor again, but this time, he looked completely different! It's so strange that he can change like that. Clyde switched places with him so he could get to Earth, and Clyde actually got to spend time on an alien planet. Supposedly it wasn't a very interesting alien planet, but I'm still jealous. I told Clyde that next time, he can't go anywhere alien without me."

* * *

He hesitated, then skipped forward some more.

* * *

"Clyde and I saved the Earth today! By ourselves! It was really scary, though, because we were the only ones left on the entire planet. Well, except for the alien prince, but we didn't know he was an alien prince at first. And except for the robots that we ran away from, until we figured out they weren't trying to kill us. But Mum and Dad were gone, and Sarah Jane was gone, and everyone else was gone, too. It was just me and Clyde, alone. I felt safe, though. I mean, I was still scared, but as long as I had Clyde, I felt like it would be all right in the end, you know? Like the two of us together could handle anything. And we did! Together, we saved the world!

* * *

Together? Was she saying what he thought she was saying? It certainly seemed as if . . .

His mobile rang, and he grabbed at it.

"Haresh? It's Sarah Jane. Rani and Clyde are back. They're right here, and they're both fine. I've told Gita already; she's left the police station and is on her way. Would you like to come over, or should I just send Rani home?"

"No, I'll come over." He looked at the recorder, then put it down. He would have to have a long conversation with his daughter -- and Sarah Jane -- later, when Gita wasn't around. But now, he ran down the stairs and across the street, and then Rani was in his arms.

"I was so worried about you!" he said. "Do you have any idea how long you were gone?"

"I know, Dad, and I'm sorry, I really am. But I'm okay. We're both okay."

Clyde swallowed, then stepped forward. "I'm sorry, sir," he said. "It was my fault. I got . . . lost, and Rani came after me. I didn't mean to put her in danger, but once she was with me, I did my best to keep her safe."

Haresh turned to look at the boy -- no, the young man -- standing there. "Yes, I think you did, " he said. Then he opened his arms wider to include Clyde in his embrace. "Thank you for looking after my daughter."

Clyde blinked at him, unbelieving, and Rani looked confused, as did Sarah Jane. Haresh smiled; now he was the one with the secret. Then Gita arrived, all flurried and teary-eyed and joyful that Rani was safe, and Clyde left for his own reunion with his equally worried mother.

On their way back across the street, Gita paused her nonstop stream of relieved chatter to say, "And were we right? Was your disappearance Clyde's fault?"

Rani started to say something, but Haresh interrupted her. "No," he said, "it wasn't Clyde's fault. In fact, I think we've been wrong about Clyde; or rather, I've been wrong about him. I'd like the chance to get to know him better. Do you think he would like to come over for dinner sometime, Rani?"

Rani looked at him in wonder, then suddenly, she smiled, and Haresh knew that his guess was right; knew that he, with the wisdom of age, might realize more than even Rani did about the path she and Clyde were on. Did she know that she was falling in love?

That, too, would have to be a conversation for a later time.

"Yes, Dad," she said, her dark eyes shining. "I think we would both like that very much."