Author's Notes:
Ten/Yvonne for RainyD.


Fifteen years after it was designed, the windowless apartment on the thirty-fifth floor is finally occupied. Yvonne passes three security checks and five blast-proof doors (each with a different locking system) to pay her morning visit to Torchwood's new "consultant."

Yvonne's own additions to the set-up made it more (she can forgive herself the word this once) humane. Remote observation, of course, always slightly ahead of the cutting-edge of the market. She did away with some of the more extreme measures not because she was convinced the Doctor wouldn't get suicidal, but with the reasoning that would be useless in any case if he did. Let him hang himself on his own tie if he must - at the very least they would have something to autopsy.

Yvonne is a very sensible woman.

This morning the Doctor is pacing back and forth like a captured tiger. Same as yesterday, same as the day before. Yvonne has conflicting reports on whether this stage will last a week or month. (Her personal assistant has ten pounds on it being over by Thursday, which seems rather optimistic.) Torchwood have waited a long time already, and can wait a little longer for the subject to settle.

"Where's Rose?" he asks, same as always when Yvonne appears.

"Safer than she was with you," she replies, now sheer force of habit.

He glares at her for a full minute and she wonders if he will have anything new to say.

He doesn't.

--

On the Wednesday of the third week, Yvonne is told that something is wrong with the Doctor and walks at a calm pace to see for herself. There's a fair-to-strong chance that this is just another attempt to gain pity or be allowed to leave what could surely only be referred to as a cell if one were finding fault in luxury.

"It won't work," she says, standing impassive as he shivers and sweats on the floor. "There's nothing wrong with you."

He grabs her ankle suddenly and stares up, shaking. "You're killing her."

She moves her foot from his grasp and steps back. "If it's alien, it's ours."

"Please," he says. A new word. Progress.

Yvonne finds a chair, pulls it over and sits down, crossing her legs neatly. "If you won't tell us these things, we have to find out for ourselves, don't we?" She wonders in passing if this counts as torturing a prisoner. "That box of yours is wonderful piece of technology, Doctor. You can understand why we need to examine it."

"If you don't stop, she'll die."

"And that's very unfortunate, but I don't see that we really have a choice."

The Doctor looks up at her, suddenly almost steady. "And she'll take this planet with her."

They stare each other out as the alien machine in the basement is poked and prodded and vandalised. Yvonne blinks first, and promises herself that this will be the last time.

"I hope you're not lying to me," she says, as she gets up to leave. "If you are, I'll be very upset."

--

The old UNIT files have plenty to say about the Doctor. The strongest suggestion is to make sure he doesn't feel forced into anything. Not to keep him against his will. Bit fucking late for that now, she thinks, and reads on. UNIT always had the advantage of not being the ones to enforce the Doctor's captivity, and Torchwood have not exactly endeared themselves. They will need something more than cups of tea and the provision of an assistant.

What Torchwood need turns up three days later to invade the planet. It is large and threatening and does not cease to be a problem when they try to blow it up.

Imminent danger on a planetary scale. It is not something most people would think of as an opportunity.

Yvonne spends the crisis with the Doctor, providing notes and intelligence reports and radar images and a television which he turns over to Channel Four when the BBC news bulletins fail to hold his interest. And so the world is saved to the backdrop of an old Ealing comedy.

"I need more information," he says, having dropped all pretence at disinterest. "Can I have internet connection?"

"No," she says, and there is no room for argument.

He scribbles something on a piece of paper. "Can I keep the television when we're done?"

"No."

"You're not a very nice woman, Ms Hartman," says the Doctor, and hands her what he claims is a simple plan for getting rid of the aliens.

It isn't, but it does.

After that, the Doctor is slightly more forthcoming.

He likes to feel useful, the UNIT files had said.

--

Yvonne makes sure that she visits every day, that she is the one to appear reasonable in any conflict. She refuses to make tea, but is prepared to appear impressed when the Doctor talks nonsense.

She takes him up to her office once, sits on the desk as he stands with his hand pressed against the glass of the window.

"That sun of yours," he says, standing in the light, eyes closed. "I've seen it blow up, I've seen it ignite from dust, I've seen it send you lot into hiding. And the thing is, it's not even that impressive as a star. It's not big, it's not heavy, it doesn't really do anything all that interesting. But without it, you wouldn't even be here. Which means I wouldn't be here." He turns and moves to hop onto the desk and sit next to her. "I should blame the sun, really."

"Yes," she says, "you never do take any responsibility, do you?" It's important, she thinks, not to let him get too comfortable. It's the principle of the thing.

He doesn't even blink. "Sometimes I have no idea why I bother talking to you. All you do is criticise. Really, I have no idea."

Yvonne pushes herself off the desk and smiles at him. "Because you need someone to try to impress. What's the Doctor without his companion?"

He stares at her, and this time he blinks first.

--

She rotates the staff as often as possible and becomes a confidante by default. She's the only person the Doctor can hope to continue a conversation with, the only one he doesn't need to start over with each and every time.

After six months she knows how to make him laugh, how to distract him, what buttons to push if the day's tasks need him to be melancholy.

She doesn't flinch when he touches her, just notes that he doesn't seem to realise what he's doing. His fingers beat out a rhythm on the back of her hand while he makes some notes, and she recognises it, eventually, as the tempo of her own heartbeat.

She's given him no alternative but to choose her, and even if he detests her and resents what Torchwood have done, the Doctor still needs someone to hold his hand.

By now there is an entire department who do nothing but manufacture peril. For every dilemma Torchwood deal with themselves, they invent another for the Doctor to counter. It gives him something to do, and most of all it leeches information from him without him ever realising it.

Yvonne is always there for these, and most of all for the moments of imagined triumph. Once the Doctor lifts her, swings her round laughing and kisses her forehead before he realises what he has done.

It is one of the proudest moments of Yvonne Hartman's career.

"I'll have the cameras removed," she says, straightening her skirt as though it had been crumpled. "Give you a bit of privacy. You've been a good boy, you deserve some sort of reward."

--

The cameras are removed two days later.

"I'm not going to thank you for giving me back a basic civil liberty," he tells her, reading a book on his bed and not bothering to look up.

"They're called Human Rights for a reason." It's the sort of bickering they fall into, and means nothing. The Doctor needs to be challenged, and Yvonne has become an expert.

"Pedant." He puts his book (a trashy romantic novel with a citrus cover) to one side and looks at her over the rim of his spectacles, all curiosity and calm. "Do you want me to fuck you?"

Yvonne raises an eyebrow. "Excuse me?"

"Is that why the surveillance equipment's gone? I wouldn't have minded myself, but you seemed to. If it wasn't too obvious I'd make a joke here about how much you love getting your hands on alien hardware."

She checks the new plaster on the walls with a sharp black nail, makes sure the wiring is not too easy to get at. "You're very fond of yourself, aren't you, Doctor?"

"Stockholm syndrome," he says. "Hostages falling in love with the person who's holding them captive. It makes a lot of sense, psychologically. It's survival instinct, really."

Yvonne pivots on an expensive heel and stares at him. "Are you saying you're in love with me?"

The Doctor grins. "You'd expect it to be that way round, wouldn't you?"

--

She doesn't visit for a week, and ensures that his contact with others is minimal. By Wednesday he is trying to engage people in conversation when they take him his meals, and on Friday he sends her a note asking if he could talk to her about an idea he's had involving subatomic particles and a very large telescope. She takes the weekend off.

On Monday he is almost nice to her.

Almost.

--

"I don't like you," he says, as she slides down onto him.

Yvonne rocks her hips and smiles. "But you need me."

He doesn't answer, just thrusts up harder than she expects and steadies her with a hand on her hip, the other lacing his fingers with hers.

"You need me," she repeats, moving to draw a moan that doesn't seem alien at all.

"We need each other," he whispers. "That's the way it always is."