The Tenth Doctor is captured by cat people and struggles with the boredom of being a house pet. Entirely from the Doctor's perspective. Rated T for later chapters.
COVER ART available through tkirr.deviantart.com.
Disclaimer: I don't own the Doctor, Rose, the TARDIS, or sadly not even a sonic screwdriver. I'll give 'em back when I'm done, promise! I just wanna play with 'em a bit.
He was in a cage. The Doctor, now fully awake, pushed off the dirty concrete floor, twisting around to better see his surroundings. There was movement through the vertical bars, but his attention was quickly diverted to the sensitivity of his skin in direct contact with everything it shouldn't be had he been properly clothed. All he had on was a pair of simple black shorts. Judging by his current situation, he guessed he was lucky to have even that. As he shifted, he could feel cold metal atop his collarbone. It was a thin hoop about his neck. Wonder what that was for?
"Yeah, I got him in a couple of hours ago," a gruff voice said from outside the cell.
The Doctor looked up to see someone at a small, clinical white counter. The side of the counter was facing him, and he could see its occupant's profile was sat on a simple black stool. The Doctor studied the man. He'd seen that race before...
"Dunno, I think he'll probably sell as a stud. Looks a bit thin for labor, though."
Was this guy talking about him? The Doctor got to his feet, indignant. "Oi..." The man at the counter, having been talking to some sort of screen, turned to him. The Doctor then placed the confused face.
He was a cat. Or rather, a cat person, of the same race as the cat nurses on New Earth. He was a dusty brown with stripes of black on his ears, face, and down his forearms. A sort of one-piece uniform of a dark grey hid most of his fur from view. If he were close enough, the Doctor knew he'd have to resist the temptation to reach out and stroke his furry face, even if he didn't particularly like any sort of cats. Bad experience.
The Doctor was all cheer. "Right. I don't suppose you've come across a brown suit, all stripey--yours are quite lovely, by the way--with a long brown coat? Lot of brown, really."
"How the bloody hell do you know Rudeese?" the cat man said incredulously.
"Eh," the Doctor pouted and sniffed, assuming offense. "A simple 'no' would've sufficed."
The cat man grabbed for something at the counter and, suddenly, there was nothing but white-hot pain searing his neck, and the Doctor couldn't pull in a breath. His vision narrowed to pinpricks, and as it began to clear, he found he was on his knees, grasping the metal hoop around his neck. He then understood he couldn't breathe in because he was already holding a breath in. He coughed it out violently.
"I can't have that," the cat man grumbled. "You'll never sell if you're always goin' on like that. No jabberin', you understand?"
The Doctor, outraged, wanted to shout and tell the mangy cat off, but barely stopped himself. And what did he mean he was for sale? What was this?
The cage had four sides of vertical bars. The Doctor was facing the side of the counter, which hugged one white wall with its other side. To his right, the cage sat flush with another cell, appearing to be the same size as his. Beyond it, there was no wall. It appeared to be a street, as he could see cat people passing by. Behind him was an empty space before another white wall, and to his left was the street again.
He was in some kind of shoppe.
"Everything okay over there, Vicks?"
"Fine, fine," said the cat man, apparently 'Vicks', sounding anything but fine. He climbed back onto his stool to face the screen. "Just that new male mucking about. Had to put him in his place."
The Doctor missed the rest of the conversation. He was in a panic. Where was Rose? His cage was empty but for a raised tray of water attached to the corner nearest the street, a pile of blankets lining the bars shared with the other cage, and next to it in the corner opposite the water was a small structure, like a doghouse. There was one just like it in the other cage. Did they connect? Could he go through it into the other cell?
Approaching the covered box, the Doctor found only a crude toilet inside. No way through. Peering into the other cage, his eyes caught on a small figure huddled in the far corner, buried in its own pile of blankets. Was it Rose?
After grasping the bars and having a better look, the Doctor saw it was not Rose, and his spirits fell. It was a girl, a bit younger than Rose perhaps, and smaller. She didn't appear to be paying him any attention at all. In fact, with her head facing away, she could even be asleep.
Rose was nowhere.
The Doctor turned towards Vicks, pinning him with a furious glare. "Where's Rose?" he thundered. "Where have you taken her?"
It was, of course, a mistake. As Vicks glared over at him, the Doctor barely had time to grab the bars and brace himself before the world again faded in blinding pain.
The Doctor was pacing, fuming in anger. Vicks wasn't in any better of a mood, tapping a writing utensil on his desk and grumbling to himself. He had shocked the Doctor several more times with his little remote. The Doctor wondered if his neck had electricity burns where the hoop lay. It felt like it did, at least.
There were so many questions he needed to ask, but even the most important of words to come out of his mouth were treated with equal brutality. Vicks didn't care what he had to say at all.
His throat was dry and sore, but he refused to drink from the bowl of water. He briefly considered using it to soak his collar, but the thing was no doubt waterproof. Even if he were submerged in water and being shocked, it probably was close-circuited for safety.
Rose had to be all right. He had to tell himself she was all right. After all, it was Rose. Besides, they were wanted alive, not dead. Where could she have been taken? Why weren't they placed in the same cage since they had been captured at the same time?
There was another thing that bothered him. Since when did this race keep slaves? Had he forgotten something? The Doctor searched back through his mind the history of the species in relation to when the TARDIS had landed. Nope, no slaves.
He had taken Rose to Gestaapa to show her the sights. They were only going for the evening. Opening night at the system-famous Krup Katana show was legendary for decades afterwards. Fifteen deza beasts flying in syncronization, set against a triple star sunset, now that was entertaining. He couldn't wait to see the wonder on Rose's face.
Before the show, they had strolled the marketplace around the theatre and had found a shoppe that sported shiny trinkets, which inevitably had caught Rose's eye. The Doctor had said he'd get her whichever she desired most, and Rose had browsed through them all. When the peddler had asked if they were seeing the show, Rose had happily stated they were. The peddler had offered to upgrade their tickets, which as the Doctor now thought about it, should have been the first warning to him that they should leave. He had flashed his psychic paper, claiming they already had the best seats in the house, and the peddler had suddenly brightened. He had exclaimed that the tickets were of insanely high value, and if he had known the two were accustomed to such finery, he would have offered Rose his shiniest deza statuette, which he kept securely locked away in the back.
The peddler had offered to show it to them, but it was locked up too securely to bring out, and he had invited them in to take a look. To the Doctor's credit, this had appeared a bit dodgy, and he had been ready to pull Rose away from the shoppe. She had given him her doe eyes, however, and had promised she would make a quick decision right after they saw it. The excitement on her face had so closely mirrored the reaction he envisioned the show would induce that he had given in.
Inside, there had been no statuette.
The Doctor remembered only what had to be a violent blow to the head, and the blackness that followed.
No doubt, the "peddler" had confiscated his psychic paper and had planned to sell it before the show to the highest bidder. It had probably soon become clear that no tickets existed, and the man had apparently sold the Doctor and Rose into slavery. Were they still on Gestaapa?
Suddenly, there was a click, and the cage door bounced off its catch. Vicks got down from his stool and approached, grabbing a bar of the door and swinging it wide.
"Come on, then. Out you go."
The Doctor, having no desire to stay in the cage, obeyed. He looked to the street. Oh, if only he could just run out there and be free. It was so close, yet so far. The Doctor eyed Vicks' paw wearily. He was holding the shocker remote. If the Doctor tried to run, or even grab for the remote, he'd be shocked helpless. Attempting to knock Vicks out would accomplish just as little.
Violence was never his first choice. He could talk his way out of many situations, but now, he couldn't even try.
His most potent defense had been neutralised.
To the Doctor's surprise, the door of the other cage had been popped open, too. It was clear Vicks wanted him to enter. He supposed it made sense. Why let him out of his cage if he had nowhere else to go but into another cage? Maybe they were freeing it up for another arrival. Reluctantly, with a heated glare at Vicks, the Doctor shuffled inside the already occupied cell, and the door clicked shut behind him.
The girl was there at the opposite end, two bright blue eyes watching him from her pile of blankets. The Doctor wanted to greet her, but knew better and kept his mouth shut. On second thought, maybe Vicks wouldn't mind talk as long as the Doctor wasn't talking to him? He decided he'd rather not take the chance just yet.
Vicks sighed in what the Doctor assumed was relief. He was all a bustle of movement, appearing to be packing up. The Doctor looked to the street and noticed it was darker outside now. Sure enough, Vicks was soon walking out towards the street, bag slung over his shoulder. He paused just within view, facing the outside wall, and suddenly the space between walls flashed, accompanied by a zapping sound. The Doctor jumped, reacting as if he were expecting to be shocked, but realised it had only been a security field sealing the area off. Vicks walked away, out of view.
The Doctor frowned. Why wouldn't he be allowed to stay in his own cell overnight? Maybe they delivered new arrivals in the wee hours, and Vicks wouldn't be there to move him. He breathed in a deep sigh and turned towards the girl. No reason he couldn't talk now, right?
The girl's eyes flicked over him disinterestedly. "Hi."
The Doctor grinned warmly, although felt a bit discomposed. "Please excuse the lack of dress. I'm the Doctor. What's your name?"
"Eli, lovely name. Nice to meet you, Eli. So, how'd you get stuck in here?"
Eli was fiddling with a frayed bit of blanket. "My last master didn't want me."
"Oh?" the Doctor said, showing his disbelief in his voice. As Eli crawled out of the blankets and moved closer, he could see her fully. She was wearing the same shorts he had on, with addition to a thick black band that covered her upper torso and flattened her chest. Simple slave attire, he guessed. "I doubt that. Why would anyone not want you?"
"Messed up the carpets."
The Doctor raised his head as if in understanding, then frowned. Wait, what? He pursed his lips, about to ask what she meant, when Eli, much closer now, advanced on him.
"Hey, what are you doing?" He grabbed Eli's arms, keeping her away.
Eli looked him in the eye. "There's only one reason they'd put you in my cage."
The Doctor regarded her seriously. "And that reason would be?"
Eli looked at the Doctor as if he were daft. "To breed."
The Doctor was taken aback. Clearly, he had misinterpreted her look of disinterest. "No offense, but that's not going to happen."
The girl stilled, staring at him with curiousity. "I've never had anyone turn me down before." She frowned. "You'll get in trouble."
"I don't care. I don't have to do what they want. Neither do you."
"I want to," Eli shrugged in his grip.
The Doctor was confused. "You what?"
"Females with child get special treatment," Eli told him, her tone indicating it was common knowledge. "They don't have to do anything, and get to eat more."
The Doctor stared down at the poor girl, voice soft and sympathetic. "How long have you been like this, enslaved?"
"Since I was eight. Let go of me."
Eight years old. Swallowing a lump in his throat, the Doctor complied and released her wrists, watching her carefully to make sure she wouldn't jump him. "And..." he looked her over, "have you had a child yet?"
Eli crossed her arms and deadpanned, "Three."
The Doctor, mouth agape, breathed in slowly as he turned away, fighting a sudden sickness in his stomach. Since her children weren't with her, he assumed they were taken from her. Children raised in captivity had to make better slaves than ones that had tasted freedom. The poor thing was fully subdued and probably stopped fighting a long time ago, if she ever even had. A small sob made him turn back round, and he saw the girl was starting to cry. No, he wasn't looking at a girl, he was looking at a woman.
"I'm sorry, Eli," the Doctor told her in his most apologetic of tones. "You'll have to find some other way of getting by."
Resolution was plain on her face. "I won't leave you alone until you consent."
The Doctor, rising to the challenge, took charge. "How about we just talk instead, hey?" He looked over to the empty cage at the pile of blankets resting against the bars there and walked over to them. "Much more mannerly, I think."
Eli just stared at him as he began threading blankets through the bars. She didn't seem to know what to say. The Doctor piled them up in the middle of the cell and flopped down onto them, making himself comfortable.
"There, now," he announced with finality, "What shall we talk about?
"There's no point in talking," Eli muttered, seemingly more to herself than to him, as she returned to her own blanket pile.
"Oh, but it passes the time, doesn't it? Just as well as... well, nevermind. Where are you from?"
"Why does it matter where I'm from? I'm never going back."
"Oh I don't know. Who knows what your future holds in store for you? Besides, you must have fond memories that help you go on." The Doctor, hands behind his head as he reclined, watched her inward musing. "Parents? Siblings?"
"I'm sure they're dead," Eli all but spat out. Silence stretched between them as the Doctor just watched Eli, who watched her hands. She really had given up long ago.
"I'm sorry, Eli," said the Doctor finally and softly. "If there's anything I can do, well, short of--"
"I'm tired," she announced insincerely. Eli lay down and pulled the blankets over her, hiding herself from his view.
The Doctor sighed. Can't win them all, he supposed. He took comfort in the thought that he could work on her more later. He imagined he'd be there a while.