A Feline's Fancy


Cat soaps droned on in the background while the Doctor lay on his stomach with his big brown pillow propped under his chest. He was concentrating on his book, which he thought was quite a feat considering Peaky (yes, the Alley Anonymous soap actually named one of its characters "Peaky"...) had a rather squeaky voice and occasionally squeaked more loudly than the sound system in the lounging room should allow. It made the Doctor wince every time, but Icha only giggled and muttered something about Peaky's character being amusing.

Thankfully, the Doctor prided himself on his ability to concentrate on multiple things at once due to his ultimately superiour Time Lord brain.

The Doctor had come home from the party three days ago in a foul mood. Itching to do something productive, he had stepped up his attempts at finding a way out. He had fussed over the scrap of coil interface trying to form it into a tool he could use to escape with. He had even sacrificed various kitchen utensils and innards from the appliances he could break into in an attempt to create what he needed.

At one point, he had wired the sabotaged conduit from under the stairs across the foyer to his latest invention and aimed it at the front door lock. Not only was the feed he had been using to power his flux flame now literally on the blink because of his attempt, but the door now sported an unexplained scorch mark and biscuits were always coming out of the oven burnt on the inside and doughy on the outside.

Even inverting the structural field of the endo-glass that made up every window had failed to so much as produce a crack, and it wouldn't without a stronger resistor. One of the large panels between two bookcases in the library now filtered sunlight into a sort of rose colour, which the Doctor had to admit he rather liked.

He just didn't have the proper materials.

There had been no parties or great amount of "training" to do to fill his time. By his estimation, he had so far been through half the library. With the power out to his cupboard, he could no longer read there by night. He had managed to rip into a table lamp's power cord in the library, however, and override the curfew setting, so he now had a proper chair and desk to read by.

The day after the party, Icha and the Doctor had returned to the PCOS room. To his surprise, the remote's sheath on the wall next to the door had been replaced, and the system appeared to be working perfectly. The PCOS system apparently wasn't originally designed for smart pets. The box-like sheath it now had appeared to be tamper-proof. The only time someone could have come in to repair it would have been while they were out at the party, which the Doctor thought was suspiciously convenient. The only time he could have ever seen anyone else in the house besides him or Icha, they happened to have been out.

He had caught Icha studying his reaction with calculating eyes, and the Doctor wondered if she really had suspected him after all. Icha knew he was clever. The question was, why did she put up with him? Perhaps she was only putting on a front to hide her wariness, or did she enjoy the challenge of attempting to tame a pet who was smarter than her?

While he attempted to clean up after his projects in order to minimise Icha's attention to them, he was no longer concerned about repercussions of Icha finding out he had been vandalising her property.

Icha dragged a repeating pattern down his bare back as she watched her cat soap. A couple of days ago, she had insisted he keep his shirt off while on the sofa because it made petting him easier. The Doctor wanted to argue that he could just stay off the sofa altogether and wander the house, but he didn't think she would like that very much. To be fair, Icha had allowed him to keep the trousers he had worn to the parties. He had originally thought he would only be allowed to wear them at parties, but so far she hadn't asked him to take them off, and he had no intention of doing so.

Black pants, no shirt on the sofa. He could handle that.

His current book of choice was Geban's Tale, one of the first of the possibly forbidden books he had read by flux flame in his cupboard. Since he had already read it, he thought he would risk finding out if Icha disliked the idea of him having it now. She noted the title when he first sat down with it, but either she didn't know what it was about or she didn't mind his knowing its content. If anything, the Doctor was disappointed. It made whatever was in Paurin, a History that much more important to him.

Something flickered in his peripheral vision, and the Doctor looked up from his book to the screen. The superimposed image faded almost immediately, and Icha's next stroke down his spine caused him to shiver. It had appeared as a sort of negative, or an inverted colour image. A sort of bluish glowing energy had arced across the surface from where the Doctor knew the emitters to be and had formed a sort of... face. Eyes, specifically. Large, bulbous eyes, staring back at him from the screen.

The Doctor stared at the screen, but the image didn't return. He turned his eyes away, studying the screen in his peripheral vision, but the flicker didn't repeat itself.

What the hell?

He looked to Icha. Her eyes were dull and hypnotised by the soap. Either she hadn't seen it, or she wasn't alarmed by it.

Pushing up on straightened arms, the Doctor turned back to the screen. "Didn't you see that?"

He didn't look back, but he knew Icha was staring at him. "Marwari, you know better," she warned.

"Did you see it, though?" The Doctor swung his legs around and made to get up, but his collar buzzed. He turned to glare at Icha, but zipped his lips. Walking the short distance to a couple of heavily padded chairs, he hopped up the cushions to reach the screen.

"Marwari, what are you doing?"

The Doctor touched the frame of the screen but felt nothing unusual. He looked it over from up close, but all he could see was a simple programme being displayed. It was too heavy a screen to pull completely off the wall, but he was able to gently tip it on its mounting to peer behind it.

"Marwari, don't you dare!" Icha buzzed him again.

Exasperated, the Doctor released the screen and looked at Icha. He understood she didn't want him knackering her big expensive viewer, but the woman was being ridiculous. Couldn't she see something was wrong?

After a few moments, Icha's ire softened. "Marwari, there's nothing there, can't you see? Are you feeling well?"

He sat himself on the chair back and glanced at the screen again. Now there was nothing there, sure. Maybe there hadn't been anything at all. Maybe he was losing it.

Icha beckoned him. "Come on."

Jumping down, the Doctor made his way back to the sofa, idly wondering if Icha would dare shock him while perched up high where he could fall and hurt himself. He settled himself next to Icha, giving the screen one last look before burying his head in his pillow. Captivity had taken its toll. He was growing overall lethargic with boredom. It felt like something was slowly sucking the life force out of him.

The Doctor had tried to escape. His resolve to discover what was happening at the Zel Power plant was wavering. Maybe he should rebel against Icha and refuse to cooperate. He would most likely get himself shocked silly for it. Was the pain worth the small chance of saving the people who enslaved him?

To hell with this planet. Why did he care what they were doing to themselves? Sure, if they blew themselves up he would go with them, but could he really do anything about it? For all he knew, Rose wasn't even on this planet. For all he knew, she never even left Gestaapa Prime and was shipped off elsewhere. If that were true, he would be hard pressed to ever see her again.

What did he really have to live for, anyway?

Icha seemed to sense his depression and moved her fingers through his hair. "There, there, Marwari..." Icha purred. "Everything will work itself out. You'll see."

The Doctor sighed into his pillow and closed his eyes. He couldn't escape physically, and mentally wasn't working, either. He attempted to pretend it was Rose petting him instead of Icha. Rose liked his hair, didn't she? The cat soap was ruining the impression, and he was sure without the sound of Rose's voice or the hum of the TARDIS, it would be impossible to ever again remember what she felt like.


That night, the Doctor lay in his cupboard in the darkness, hugging his pillow. He was going to get up after Icha fell asleep and go to the library like he did the last couple of nights, but he just didn't really have it in him. What were the chances he would find anything useful in the books he had left, anyway?

Attempts at a quick escape had failed, and hope of it happening any time soon was withering away. It felt as if he were no closer to finding a way out walking down the street with a ring around his neck than if he were locked in a cell buried six feet underground and forgotten.

The Doctor squeezed his pillow tightly and imagined Rose was here with him, now. He had been separated from Rose in the past, but those instances rarely involved his enduring days of doing nothing. He usually had something pressing to force his mind to task and away from worrying.

Rose was probably out there scared and alone.

He suddenly found it hard to breathe, as if his lungs were malfunctioning, and the Doctor's respiratory bypass system refused to kick in. His vision blurred, and he turned his face into his pillow.

There had been something special about Rose from the day he had invited her into the TARDIS. As they adventured together, their bond had grown into a deep friendship. She had come to mean so much to him. It was more than her ability to empathise with aliens she had just met or accept the future death of her own planet in mere hours. It was more than her endurance in learning to accept the Laws of Time and the reasons she had to let her father die in her universe and to let him go in the parallel.

It was more than the way she stopped him from murdering the last Dalek thought to exist or the way she gave him space when he mourned missed opportunities with Reinette Poisson. Rose had told those she left behind it was the alien worlds and the new ideas, the saving lives and the finding a better one for herself.

He loved her because even without it all, she loved him.

Well, Rose had never told him in so many words, but the Doctor knew she at least loved being with him, and she had proven she would do anything to save his life, even risk hers. She had even looked into the Time Vortex for him, although most likely she hadn't realised it would kill her to do so.

In return, he had taken the Vortex out of her and it had cost him a regeneration. He would use another for her, if it came to that, except that it would no doubt upset her like the first regeneration she had witnessed.

It had been hard for her to accept the concept once, but he had been lucky. She had adjusted to the change quickly, and if anything she had become even more attached to him since. Whether it was because she had simply known him longer or she preferred his latest regeneration more, he didn't know.

The Doctor sighed deeply and stared up into the black space of his small sanctuary. Rose was everything to him. He had to free her from this world and take her back to her own time, back to her mother.

Rose wouldn't give up on him. He had promised her even though she couldn't hear him that he was coming for her, and that's what he was going to do, somehow.

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