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Convergence (Farscape/Doctor Who) [PG-13]
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misaditas wrote in misaditas_fic

Four: Lessons of Present and Past


The TARDIS had been bigger on the inside. Talyn wasn’t, but Donna found him just as incredible. She wandered the passageway after Bialar, awed at the size and complexity of the ship. One thing she discovered early on in the tour was that the outer corridors had rectangular windows. She liked that.

“Here.”

Bialar’s voice pulled her attention from the sight of the sun breaking past the Earth. She glanced over and saw he was stood by an open door. An eerie blue light washed out into the passageway. Intrigued, she crossed to the doorway and peered in.

The room was blue and cave-like, the walls crystalline in appearance. Donna stared; it was so different from the rest of the ship! She hovered on the threshold and looked at Bialar.

“Is it safe?”

“Just now, yes.”

She wandered in, her gaze sweeping up the walls. There was an opening in the ceiling, leading up into the ship. Eyes on that, she bumped in to something. She jerked back. Three spikes jutted from the floor, glittering with internal lights.

“What is this place?” she asked.

“Leviathans are capable of a manoeuvre known as Starburst. That requires a build-up of energy and this is where that is created.”

Donna stared around the room again.

“I see.”

“Of course, that does mean this chamber is rather dangerous when Talyn is in flight.”

She gave him a withering look.

“You don’t say.”

He glanced at her and she held his gaze. He shrugged a shoulder.

“Perhaps that information was unnecessary,” he allowed. “But I would rather you had that information instead of having to clear your charred remains from the chamber.”

“Okay, point taken,” she said hastily, suppressing a shudder as she exited the room quickly. She wound her hands around his arm and eyed the chamber warily. “Maybe you should show me somewhere a little safer.”

Bialar smiled slightly and waved his hand over the door control, shutting the chamber off. As he led her up the corridor, she glanced over her shoulder and made a mental note of which door that was; she didn’t want to wander in there by mistake.

“Command,” he announced then.

She turned back. This room was the usual red and black. There were control backs down each side and several windows at the far end.

“Ooh,” Donna said and extracted her hands from Bialar’s arm. She wandered to the nearest console and touched it lightly. “Oh, now this is a spaceship!”

“Please don’t touch,” he replied and took hold of her wrist. “Talyn is a very sensitive craft.”

“Uh huh, him and his captain,” she retorted and pulled her hand free. “I wasn’t pressing anything, Bialar.”

“Hm.”

He elbowed her aside. She huffed, but his fingers were already working over the console. She watched him, rather fascinated by his delicate touch and the fact he actually seemed to know what he was doing. She edged closer, glanced at the intent expression on his face, and got a rather wicked idea.

“What’s that do?” she asked, tapping a light with one fingernail.

“Donna,” he said in a warning tone.

“How ‘bout that one?”

“Will you stop that!” She chuckled and he glowered at her. “It is not funny.”

“You only think that because you’ve no sense of humour. You’re very… austere, Bialar.”

“Yes, well, some of us were raised in austere circumstances. If you find that I am not easily amused, you might consider that there is a reason.”

His tone was cold, but there was an undercurrent of something else. She moved around the console so that she could see his face. His eyes were on the console, his expression closed off, yet despite that she caught a slight hint of vulnerability. She felt a spike of guilt at teasing him and reached out, laying her hand over his.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t know. I was just trying to lighten the mood.”

He gazed at her for a moment and then sighed.

“I know. And I probably over-reacted. I am… not good with people, Donna. Not on a personal level, anyway. I… don’t know how.”

That took her aback. “What do you mean?”

Bialar sighed again and looked away. “Not now.”

She watched him go to a different console, effectively shutting her out. She frowned, recognising in him something she’d see in the Doctor - here was a man who had seen too much, had taken more hurt than a being ought to. Her heart ached for him.

“When?” she asked and saw him freeze. “At what point will you trust me enough?”

“It is not a matter of trust,” he replied. His voice was cool, clipped. She arched an eyebrow.

“Oh, really? Then what is it a matter of, then?”

He glanced at her, then back at the console.

“It’s a matter of me not wanting to talk about it right now. You do not need to know, you only want to.”

“Yes!” she exclaimed, feeling a sudden irritation at him. “Because it might help me understand you better! Look, we’re either together in this or…”

He looked up sharply. “Or what, Donna? I don’t respond well to threats.”

“It wasn’t- Oh, forget it. Forget I asked.”

She turned away and stalked to the window, looked down at the planet. Talyn’s orbit kept them over the northern hemisphere and she could make out the United Kingdom. She placed her hand on the glass and sighed softly, wondering if this was such a good idea after all.

“Are you hungry?”

“What?”

“I said, are you hungry? I just thought that maybe… maybe you’d like something to eat.”

Donna frowned, bewildered by the change in their conversation and that in him. She faced him, trying to figure out what was going on. Maybe this was his attempt at holding out an olive branch. She decided to take it as such.

“Yes, actually I am.” She tilted her head. “You can cook?”

He looked mildly affronted.

“Yes, actually I can.” He offered her a smile and the crook of his arm. “Come with me. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.”

She let go of her irritation and crossed Command to take his arm.

“Alright,” she said. “This I want to see. Lead on.”

~ ~ ~


After weekens of travel, Talyn was somewhat sort of supplies. Bialar managed to find a couple of eggs and some unspoiled sliced meat. It was not quite enough to fully show off the extent of his culinary skills, but he hoped it would be enough to satisfy Donna’s hunger. He glanced at her.

She was sat at the table, her hands wrapped around a mug and her eyes on the stars visible through the viewport. Her expression seemed a little sad, and he wondered if she were regretting her decision to come with him.

Whether he had made her regret it.

He hoped not; for all his antagonism towards her, he did like her. He just wasn’t sure if she should be going with him or not. She would, after all, be leaving all that she knew behind her. Having done that himself…

She turned then and caught him watching her. A smile broke over her face. He could not help but smile in response. Then a sharp pop from behind made him remember their breakfast and he turned back to it quickly. He managed to catch the meat before it singed and flipped it out on to the waiting plates. Adding the eggs and some bread, he carried them to the table and placed one in front of Donna.

“There you are.”

“Ooh thanks.” He expected some hesitation, but she dabbed up yolk from her eggs with the bread and bit in. “Hmm, not bad,” she said around a mouthful.

“Evidence that I can cook a passable meal at least,” he said. “Even if I am somewhat lacking in… other departments.”

She smiled and took another bite. Swallowing it, she took a drink and put her cup down. “I never said you were lacking, just... reticient.”

“I believe one is as bad as the other,” he replied. “And in either respect, you were right, but I did warn you that I was not good with people.”

“You did, I suppose. I just didn’t realise you really meant it.”

“And now?”

“Now I know you’re as bad with people as you said you were.” She delivered this with a bright smile that more or less countered her words. Then she reached out and patted his hand. “I’m sure you’ll get over that.”

“Thank you, I think.” He shifted his hand and closed his thumb over her fingers. His reward was an even brighter smile and she squeezed his hand. He nodded at her plate. “How’s your food?”

Donna pulled her hand back and picked up her fork again. “It’s good,” she said. “You know, it’s weird; I was never really one for exotic stuff, really. I mean, Chinese and Indian, sure, but that’s not proper foreign food is it?”

He had no idea. “Apparently not.”

“I remember the first time I had alien food, I mean, proper alien food. I was half-afraid it’d kill me, but then I thought, what was the point in going out there, all that way, and not trying everything? Wasn’t one, was there?”

“And how was it?”

She looked at him for a moment, and then a grin broke her face.

“Bloody awful.”

Bialar had been chewing but at this declaration almost choked on his mouthful. It caught in his throat, resulting in him coughing and laughing at the same time. Donna chuckled and then pushed his cup into his hands. He swallowed some of his drink down and found he could breathe easier.

“Donna!”

“Sorry,” she said, though she didn’t seem overly apologetic.

“At least I rate higher than that,” he said, still wheezing somewhat. He took another sip of his drink. “Seeing as you are eating what I put in front of you, I surmise that experience did not stop you trying?”

“Nah.” She dismissed the idea with a wave of her hand. “Just cos I hated one thing didn’t mean I wouldn’t like the next, did it? Trying the cuisine is half the adventure.”

He smiled at her, not particularly surprised by that. “What about the other half?”

“Usually taken up with running.”

“Ah, yes. That I have done.”

“You ran away from the… Peacekeepers, did you call them?”

“Yes.” He picked up his cup and swirled the liquid. “It is not a… pleasant regime, Donna. They believe in eradicating any emotion that makes one weak. Compassion, regard, love; there is no room in the ranks for such things.”

She looked shocked.

“You have never… loved?” Her tone was incredulous, but she immediately seemed to regret the question and shook her head. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have asked.”

“It’s okay,” he said softly. “I do not mind the question. I… have. Unlike most, I was not born on a Carrier - that’s their ships - but on a world such as yours. I had a family; a father and mother and… and a younger brother. We were taken when we were very young.”

Donna put a hand to her mouth, her eyes wide with horror.

“You were kidnapped?”

“It wasn’t called that, but for all intents and purposes, yes I was.”

Her eyes glimmered and she put her hand over his. “That’s awful,” she said in a husky voice. “I’m so sorry.”

Seeing her so moved shifted something within him. He swallowed against a rise of old grief that surprised him and, for several microts, could do nothing other than struggle to maintain a calm demeanour. Donna’s grip tightened.

“It’s okay,” he said, a necessary lie. “It was a long time ago.”

“It doesn’t look like it’s okay,” she retorted. “In fact, it looks anything but. So they took you away from your parents and… and made you a soldier?”

Her voice shook and when he looked up he saw she had a rather ill expression on her face.

“They did. Not that I was ever…” He paused and smiled slightly. “I was never really a good advertisement for the process. A little too… stubborn and rebellious for their liking.”

“Oh, that’s a shame,” she said with mock sincerity. They shared a smile and he squeezed her fingers.

“Unfortunately, one cannot live in such an atmosphere without it… effecting one. Eventually, I became more what they wanted and I… I was rather good at it. I rose through the ranks, was promoted to captain and under that capacity I did a lot of things that I should not have.”

“Was there a choice?”

“Someone once told me that there is always a choice,” Bialar told her. “I chose to do certain things even though I knew they were not right, but it was not just myself that I was protecting; I was also protecting Tauvo.”

“Your brother,” she guessed and he nodded.

“Yes.”

She looked round, clearly seeing the lack of said brother. Her eyes returned to his face and he saw the silent question in them.

“He died,” he supplied, feeling the ache once again. “Three cycles ago.”

“Cycles?” she questioned softly.

“I’m sorry. I think a cycle is a little longer than one of your years. I’m not entirely sure on that, though.”

Donna toyed with her cup. “So… what happened?”

“He was flying a smaller ship, a Prowler. There was a shuttle, a craft that appeared out of a wormhole.” Bialar paused, then took a deep breath. “A ship from Earth.”

She looked up, clearly startled.

“You mean…”

He nodded. “Yes. I've met one of your kind before.”


Five: Leavetaking


“His name was John Crichton.”

That innocuous statement had been followed by a story that left Donna wordless, though she supposed that it went some way to explaining Bialar’s prickly nature. She sat with her hands around her mug, the warm sides barely registering through the numbness of shock and awe and heartache. His words echoed through her head.

“We weren’t meant to survive, didn’t expect to. It didn’t matter.”

Soft words that almost belayed the edge of coldness his tone had held. He hid it well - the hurt, the anger, the grief - but she saw it anyway. She’d spent too much time with the Doctor and she knew when “alright” meant anything but. And Bialar Crais was a long, long way from being alright. More than before, she realised that he needed someone and that firmed her resolve.

Donna stared into her mug, thought of her Mum and Granddad. A lump formed in her throat and she lifted her hands, gulped at the hot liquid. It burnt a path down to her stomach but did nothing to settle its churning. She lifted her gaze again.

Bialar had risen during his story and was stood by the window. He was all of five yards away. It felt more like five miles. She looked at his face; the moulded, blank expression, the slight, defiant lift to his chin, and her heart went out to him.

Setting the mug down on the table, she pushed her chair back and stood up. Crossed the distance and reached out, curled a hand around his arm. He didn’t react, just stood and stared out as the Earth spun slowly beneath them.

After a moment, she spoke. “You know, it is okay to be… not okay.”

He snorted softly. “I am okay.”

“Bollocks,” she snapped. “You aren’t and I wouldn’t expect you to be either. Come off it, Bialar. No one would be after all of that.”

“Perhaps not.” He shrugged a shoulder. “But what would tears change? Nothing, Donna. So pardon me if I settle for just trying to survive.”

She opened her mouth to retort, but then caught the expression on his face and thought better of it. Realising that he wasn’t ready to hear what she had to say, she gave up with a muted sigh and looked out of the window again.

“Can you get me back down there?” she asked. “There are one or two things that I need.” She remembered packing the car, ready in case she met the Doctor in that year she had spent looking for him, and closed her eyes.

“What’s the matter?” Bialar asked.

“Nothing.” Two could play at that game. “I’m fine.”

“Which is why your fingers are digging into my arm.”

She glanced down and saw that her knuckles were white. “Sorry.” She relaxed her grip.

“Primitive as your planet’s tracking systems are, it’ll be harder to evade them a second time but not impossible.”

Donna absorbed that information with a nod. “Can we go now?” She thought about the idea. “Do you have something alcoholic on this ship?”

Bialar turned, his eyebrows lifting. “Why?”

“Just answer the bloody question.”

“I do, yes, but I don’t-”

“I’ll need it later.” She took a deep breath and tore her eyes from the world outside the window. “Let’s go; I want to get this over with sooner rather than later.”

“Alright,” he said evenly. He headed to the door and she followed him, trying to ignore the sinking sensation in her stomach.

As they walked down the corridor, she debated the wisdom of what she was doing. Was she being selfish? What would her leaving do to her mother and grandfather? How would they explain her disappearance? Her steps slowed and she stared at her feet, chewing on her bottom lip. When she looked up, her gaze settled on Bialar’s back.

“Just... promise me one thing; find someone.”

A sad smile touched her lips as she remembered her words to the Doctor. He had needed someone, just as Bialar did. And he had found her. She straightened and hurried after him, catching up just as he reached the hanger bay. He paused and glanced at her.

“Are you sure about this?” he asked, not clarifying if he meant her going down to the planet or with him. Either way, she was sure.

“Yes,” she said. She hoped it sounded more firm than she thought it did. Bialar nodded and took her elbow, leading her across the floor to the half-cylinder shaped craft that sat there. She frowned at it. “Well, that’s ugly.”

“It’s created for a purpose,” he replied and pressed a button on the side. A hatch slid upwards. “Specifically transporting people and goods. It doesn’t need to be aesthetically pleasing.”

“I suppose not.”

She went in and looked around. The ship had two definite sections; the rear, which she guessed was where the people or goods were kept during flight, and the cockpit - or whatever he called it. Bialar took the left seat. She slid into the one on the right and watched his hands move over the controls. She looked for seatbelts and found none, which was a little concerning. Not that she thought he’d crash, but…

“Talyn, open the hanger door,” he ordered and the wall in front of her moved, opened to reveal the blackness of space. Her stomach dropped into her toes as the ship lifted up and she grabbed the curved console. Bialar looked at her. “Are you okay?”

She’d done this before; it was no different to opening the door of the TARDIS. Come on Donna, get a grip, she thought furiously and swallowed hard.

“Yes,” she said. It came out as a squeak. The whole ship tilted on its axis and it dived, sending her stomach into her throat. “Shit!”

Bialar chuckled. She tore her eyes off the rapidly-approaching planet and glared at him. Drawing in a shuddering breath, she loosened her grip on the console and whacked him on the arm.

“That was not funny!”

“I thought that you were used to travelling in space,” he returned, his tone slightly smug.

“You complete…” Her angry retort died as her gaze went back to the window. Gliding in orbit above the Earth was a red-black spaceship with all the beauty and grace that the transport pod was missing. “Oh my God,” she whispered and shifted forward in her seat, her nervousness forgotten. “Is that Talyn?”

“It certainly is.” There was considerable pride in his voice. “What do you think?”

What did she think? “The TARDIS is a blue box,” she said. “Okay, it’s bigger and prettier on the inside, but…” She turned back to Bialar. “He’s beautiful.”

He smiled at that; a proper smile rather than the usual snarky smirk, one that lit his entire face and made him look suddenly much younger. The difference startled her and she blinked.

“I am glad that you like him.”

Donna got the distinct impression he hadn’t meant to say that, rather that he’d been aiming at something sarcastic but lost it along the way. She smiled back at him.

“So, Flyboy, we gonna land or what?”

The smile remained but his eyebrows lifted and a definite look of mischief crossed his face. “Are you questioning my ability?”

“And what if I were?”

His eyes narrowed and his hands shifted on the control. The world flipped upside down, making her grab the console again, though the sheer momentum of the manoeuvre held her in the seat.

Like a bloody rollercoaster, she thought. Just without the tracks. Well, that just meant there was nothing for them to come off. It wasn’t likely that they’d hit anything either, though they might just crash… A squeal escaped her as he put the pod into another dive, but it was more surprise than fright; the way he handled the controls assured her that he knew exactly what he was doing. She threw him a look and giggled.

“Pillock,” she said. “Utter twonk.”

“Does that mean that you’re impressed?” He smirked at her.

“Very. Now stop pratting about before you attract attention and we get nuked down or something.” She smoothed her trousers, surreptitiously drying the sweat on her palms and licked her lips. Glancing over, she saw him watching her, a knowing expression on his face. “Don’t even think it, mate. Just land this bloody thing.”

~ ~ ~


Having been born and raised on a planet, Bialar was familiar to the concept of houses, even though Donna’s didn’t resemble any he’d ever seen. He followed her up the stairs in muted darkness; she’d refused to turn on the lights in case they woke her family. Thinking of that, he again wondered why she was so willing to leave the comfort and security of her home. He’d seen into her mind. Briefly to be sure, but he’d glimpsed enough fragmented memories to have persuaded him to stay put. Perhaps he was missing something.

Donna opened a door and ushered him in. She closed it behind him and flicked a switch. He blinked as a sudden light flooded the room. She was already across the room and opening more doors. He saw clothes hanging on a rail before something hit him in the face.

“Put that on the bed would you?” she asked, absorbed in picking out clothes.

“That” turned out to be a large bag. He put it on the bed and worked the zipper round to open it. Donna dumped an armful of clothes in. “Thanks.”

“Anything else I can do to help?” he asked her.

“Keep half an ear out for my mother,” she replied, unhooking a heavy coat from a hanger. “I’d rather get out of the house without a lecture, thank you very much.”

“As you wish.”

He leaned up against the door and watched her select a few more garments. Her expression was distant as she folded them and placed them in the bag. She looked… troubled.

“You can still change your mind,” he said quietly. “I would not think any less of you.”

She paused, eyes on the bag, and made a visible effort to control herself. After a moment she spoke, her voice low and barely audible.

“I can’t,” she murmured. “I can’t stay here, Bialar. Not now I remember that year and… everything. I wouldn’t be able to settle. There’s just… not enough for me here.”

“But your family…”

“Do you think less of me for leaving them?” She looked up then, meeting his gaze. Though he could tell her mind was made up, it was obvious that she still regretted the decision.

“It has nothing to do with me,” he dismissed the question.

Donna stood up straight. “It does. Your opinion matters to me.”

“It shouldn’t.”

“Just answer me this; do you think I’m being selfish?”

That made him snort. He had been selfish. He had manipulated and lied and cheated. “I am hardly the person to ask about that.”

“Well, it’s not like I can ask anyone else,” she pointed out. He sighed, accepting the truth of that statement.

“Sometimes it is necessary to be selfish,” he said. “I think this is one of those times.”

“This-” She waved at the bag. “-is hardly necessary.”

Bialar smiled slightly at her. “It is if I need you.”

Her eyes widened and she gaped at him, then realisation flooded her face, quickly followed by relief. “Oh! Oh that. Yes.”

“Whatever did you think I meant?” he asked innocently. Her eyes narrowed and she threw a pillow at his head. It missed by a fair margin, but he suspected that she’d not really intended to hit him. When he straightened and looked at her, he noticed that some of the tension had left her. “I thought we were supposed to be keeping quiet.”

“Well stop bloody winding me up then,” she retorted and went back to packing. He smirked but kept his mouth closed. After a few microns, she zipped the bag up and looked at him. “Ready as I’m ever going to be.”

He moved from the door as she came over and took the bag. She gave him an odd look, then shrugged and turned off the light. They slipped downstairs soundlessly, but just as they reached the door, he heard the soft click of a door opening.

Donna froze and sent him a panicked look.

“Donna?” a man’s voice called out. “Donna, is that you?”

She stood there, eyes wide and pained. “Oh God, no.”

“What?” he hissed at her. The light above them bloomed on. Bialar turned to see an old man on the stairs.

“Donna!” he exclaimed. “Where have you been?”

“Granddad,” Donna said, her voice breaking. “What are you doing up?”

The man leant on the rail as he came down the last few stairs. Bialar found himself fixed with a wary, suspicious glare, which then shifted to Donna. “Sweetheart, what’s going on? Your mum said you’d disappeared last night. That you’d gone after…” The glare returned. “After some bloke.”

“It’s okay,” she assured, interposing herself between him and the other man. “I’m okay. I’m just… going away for a while.”

“With him? Who is he? Hang on, he said something about… changing.”

“No,” Donna said, her voice sharp. “It’s not like that. He left me, Granddad. I remember that now.”

Bialar realised they were talking about the man Donna had travelled with, but wasn’t sure how he fitted in to the conversation. He put a hand on her arm. She shook her head but didn’t look back. He lifted his eyes back to her grandfather, who was watching her with clear grief on his face.

“I’m sorry, Donna,” he said. “I wanted to tell you, but he said that… that it would kill you. I don’t understand how you can remember. Was he lying?”

“No,” she said, then shifted minutely backwards. Bialar moved the strap of the bag on his shoulder to free his other hand, then placed it on the small of her back. He felt more than heard her soft sigh, and the muscles under his palm rippled with tension. “It doesn’t matter how, but I remember and I’m okay.”

Her grandfather came over and caught her in a hug. Bialar watched, tempted to drop the bag and leave; after all she would be safer here. But not better, he thought then. It was her decision and he would abide by it.

“Hey you.” Her grandfather’s tart voice brought him out of his reverie. “Whoever you are, you take good care of my granddaughter, right?”

Bialar knew the man would not understand him, so settled for nodding seriously. He looked a silent question at Donna.

“Give me a minute, would you?”

“I’ll be outside,” he said softly. Her expression went wary. “Waiting,” he added and she relaxed somewhat. As he headed out, he heard her grandfather asking; “You understand him?” Her response was lost to the sound of the door closing.

Bialar wandered down the path, dropped the bag and leant his hands on the little gate. The night was cool - a blessed relief after the stuffy warmth of the house - and it carried the faint smell of rain. He glanced up at the sky. Clouds obscured his view of the stars. He looked around again. The thoroughfare was covered in some material that he didn’t recognise, but the wheeled boxes were clearly some sort of transport. Primitive and not very effective, he was sure.

Yet there was something about being… perhaps just on a planet rather than Earth specifically, that he found familiar enough to be comfortable. Then again, since no one here knew who he was or what he had been, maybe it was Earth. Not that he would stay… no, he wanted to be out there again. Rather suddenly, he understood exactly what was motivating Donna to accompany him. It made him adjust a couple of assumptions he’d made, and he’d thought that he had gotten over doing such things.

There was a soft noise behind him. He pushed himself up as the door opened and light pooled out. Donna emerged, her face pale and tear-streaked. She cast him a rather desperate look and he hastened back to the house as she closed the door. She rested her forehead against it. He didn’t know what else to do, so took her hand. Her fingers tightened on his.

“Bialar,” she said miserably.

“I know.” He squeezed her fingers. “I know.”

“God, I’m a selfish cow. This is going to hurt them so much.”

“You’ll hurt if you stay.”

She turned then and stepped closer, buried her face against his chest. Her body trembled and he had no doubt that she was crying. He had learnt a little about offering comfort so still holding her hand, he put his other arm around her. After a moment, she took a deep, shuddering breath in and lifted her head.

“Yeah, you’re right,” she said. “I would.”

“Time to be selfish?” he suggested. She nodded. He offered her a small smile and released her. Picking up the bag, he swung it over his shoulder and then opened the gate, ushering her through and she walked out onto the street.

He fell in beside her as they went back to where he’d left the transport pod. Glancing at her face and seeing the sad expression there, he found her hand again, linking his fingers with hers. Oddly enough, she didn’t complain. She just looked at him and, after a microt, her lips curved into a smile.


Six: The Whole Universe


Visiting Donna’s home - or more precisely being in her room - had made Bialar realise that if she was going to accompany him, then she would need quarters. He thought about it as he flew the transport pod back to Talyn, after several attempts to engage her into conversation had failed.

He threw a sidewise glance at her: she had her feet on the edge of the seat, her chin on her knees as she stared out of the viewscreen. She had stopped crying, but grief was still very evident on her face. He sighed inwardly, knowing there was nothing that he could do for her this time.

He landed the transport pod and powered down the engine. Standing, he held a hand out to Donna. Nudged her arm. She jolted and blinked rapidly, as if coming awake, then looked up at him. He gave her an encouraging smile.

“Come on,” he said softly. “I have something to show you.”

Curiosity flickered over her face and she unwound herself. She stood up and let out a sigh. Bialar looked at her for a microt, then settled a hand on the small of her back, gently propelling her into motion. He snagged her bag on the way off the transport pod, activated the hatch and pushed her across the hanger and into the main passageway that ran through Talyn.

Donna tossed him a curious glance. “Where are we going?”

“Surprise,” he replied and gave her a small smirk. “You’ll see.”

She arched an eyebrow and then shook her head. “Whatever.”

He linked his arm with hers and escorted her to the end of the passageway, where his own quarters were also situated. The ones he’d chosen for Donna were opposite, a little smaller than his but slightly more palatial than the bunks where… Bialar stopped that thought dead, preferring to stay in the present.

“Seeing your bedroom reminded me that if you are to stay on Talyn, then you need a place to… well, stay. Sleep.” He untangled his arm and waved a hand over the control. The door slid open and he ushered Donna inside. “The control can be calibrated to respond to you and you alone,” he continued. “Meaning that only you can open it. Well, unless there is an emergency. But anyway, this room is yours.”

Donna stepped away from him, her head turning slowly as she took the room in. “It’s a bit… basic,” she said, then looked at him with a guilty expression. “Sorry, I mean thank you. I’d not even thought about where I was going to stay. This is… this is okay.”

“It’s bare,” he interpreted.

“Well…”

“No, I realise that it is. I did see your room, Donna. But you have a free hand here. I want you to feel… at home, I suppose. Welcome.”

She stared at him for a moment, then her eyes went soft and a smile curved her lips.

“Thank you,” she said, her voice husky with gratitude. “That means a lot.”

Bialar smiled and swung her bag from off his shoulder. He dropped it on the bed. “I have some sheets and blankets in storage. Plain but serviceable.”

“I’m sure they’ll be fine,” she said and came over. She fiddled with the zip pull on her bag for a microt, then looked up at him. “Are you sure… that you want me to come?”

“Yes,” he said. He put a hand on her shoulder. “I also think you’re doing the right thing.”

Her eyes widened. “How did you know that was what I was going to say?”

“I saw the doubt in your eyes. I would imagine that you will have second thoughts fairly frequently.”

“It’s nothing personal.”

“I realise that. But sometimes it is not easy to pursue something, even when you want it. There are always costs, Donna, and paying them is often painful.” He thought of everything that he’d left behind him and sighed. “The result is supposedly worthwhile.”

She stopped flicking the zip pull and moved towards him, her arms going round him in an embrace. It didn’t surprise him, though he was still not quite comfortable with such familiarity; there had been no room for tactility in a regime that despised connections. Accepting Donna’s hugs was, in a small way, a defiance against everything he’d been. Plus it was… pleasant to be so accepted by someone. He could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times that had happened in his life to date, though he did recognise that perhaps he was partly to blame.

“I think it will be worthwhile,” she murmured in his ear. “I think… I think we’re going to be magnificent.”

He blinked and then laughed. “Magnificent, is it?”

Donna pulled back, a wide smile on her face. “We have the whole universe, Bialar,” she said, her eyes sparkling with excitement. “All those planets and suns and moons. All the different cultures to experience. Don’t you think that’s magnificent?” She slid her hands to his chest, her eyes never leaving his. “To breathe alien air, to see weird coloured skies and oceans, to feel the sands worlds between your toes… there’s nothing else like it. It is magnificent and it’s wonderful.”

A thrill slid down Bialar’s spine, much like the sensation he’d felt when he and Talyn had chosen to follow the song. Excitement. He felt the pull of her words just as Talyn felt the pull of gravity.

“And that is what you want,” he said hoarsely.

“Who wouldn’t?”

What she had described held a lure was too strong to resist. “You have a point.” His eyes went to her bag. She could unpack later; there was something he wanted her to see, to experience, first. “Come with me,” he told her.

~ ~ ~


Earth was visible through the wide window in Command. Donna quickly looked away, studying the consoles so that she didn’t have to look at the planet she’d once called home. Not any more. She swallowed and blinked back tears.

“Talyn, move us out of orbit,” Bialar ordered. “Set speed at hetch three.”

The deck beneath her feet tilted and the stars shifted. She caught sight of the moon from the corner of her eye and looked up, watched it as Talyn sailed past. One small step… She smiled slightly.

“Here,” he said then and took her arm. She gave him a curious glance as he positioned her forward of the centre mark. “You want to experience new things? I can give you something new.”

Her pulse jumped. “What?”

“You’ll see.” He stood right behind her and put one arm around her, over her stomach. She tensed, wondering what the hell he was doing. “Brace yourself,” he murmured, his breath tickling her ear.

Donna gulped, more nervous at his behaviour than whatever he was going to… show her. “Um,” she said. “What exactly for?”

“You remember that blue room, the Starburst Chamber?” he asked. She did, so she nodded. “Well that is how Talyn covers large distances in a short space of time. We just need to be far enough away from Earth that the charge doesn’t attract attention. Not that anyone could do anything by that time, but I’d prefer it if our presence went by unnoticed.”

“There was a pub-full of people that undoubtedly noticed you, Bialar,” she returned snidely. “You made a memorable entrance.”

“Thank you.”

“I didn’t mean it as a compliment.”

“No? Oh well.”

“So how long will it take?”

“Not much longer. Be patient.”

She rolled her eyes but held her tongue. It wasn’t really lacking patience so much as being very aware of him. Her back was warm from where his chest pressed against her, and she could smell leather and spice and something she couldn’t place because it was nothing she’d encountered before. Alien. She shuddered.

“It won’t hurt,” Bialar assured, clearly mistaking her nervousness.

“I’m not scared,” she said, lying through her teeth. His chuckle reverberated through her body and raised goosebumps along her arms.

“Ready then?”

“Are we far enough out?”

“According to Talyn, yes.”

“Right.”

Bialar chuckled again. “Are you ready, Donna?”

She honestly had no idea, because she hadn’t a clue to what he was about to do. If it was anything like the stunts he pulled in that transporter thingy, then probably not.

“Well…”

“All those planets,” he said. “All those stars and suns and moons.” His voice was low, his tone rich and darkly seductive. “We have the universe, remember?”

Her mouth had gone dry. Bloody hell. “Yes.”

“It’s quicker this way.”

“Okay.”

“Are you sure?”

No. “I said okay, Spaceman. Come on, I know you’re dying to show off, so get on with it already.”

“Now there’s the Donna I know,” Bialar laughed. “Talyn… Starburst.”

It began as a low hum.

Static prickled up her arms as the noise grew steadily louder. Vibrations shuddered the floor beneath her feet, rather like the aftershocks of an earthquake. The hairs at the back of her neck stood up as the charge built. Outside the window, Talyn’s hull was covered in lines of glowing red light.

“What the-”

A blinding flash brought tears to her eyes. Talyn lurched and then shot forwards at such a speed that her breath whooshed out of her lungs. She grabbed at the arm anchoring her in place as the view from the window blurred.

How long it lasted, she’d no idea. It seemed to go on and on, but when Talyn slowed and the blur cleared to stars, she thought it was over rather soon. She tried to catch her breath, to calm her thundering pulse. Sweat slid down her back. It had been like nothing she’d ever experienced; not even the TARDIS being caught in a paradox, that violent flight to Messaline, compared to Starburst.

She extracted herself from Bialar’s arm. Regretted that momentarily when her shaking legs almost folded up on her. She caught herself on one of the consoles and then turned to stare at him.

“What the hell was that?”

He laughed. “Starburst.”

“Well, duh! I know what it’s called. But what is it?”

“It is a superluminal form of space travel that a Leviathan uses to cover vast distances,” he said. “Talyn can create a rift in the space-time continuum and then ride the seams between dimensions.” He tilted his head. “But more importantly, did you enjoy it?”

“No!” It burst from her before she really thought about it. He blinked, looking slightly disappointed and a little hurt. She sighed. “Well… I don’t know. It rather took me by surprise. I guess. At least I didn’t end up on my bum.” She looked at the window, at the stars outside. “Where are we?”

“One moment.” Bialar went over to the navigational console and looked at it. “Several hundred thousand metras from Earth,” he said. She just stared at him, so he expanded. “Far beyond your galaxy.”

She continued to stare at him for a moment, then turned and went to the window. One thing the TARDIS had lacked was windows, though she had opened the doors on occasion. But not actually when they’d been travelling through space. It was awesome. And just a little bit scary.

“Oh.” It came out as a squeak.

“Are you alright?”

Nothing beyond the window was familiar. “I don’t know.”

Footsteps sounded as he crossed the floor. She turned her head and looked at him as he stopped beside her. He gave her a smile and put a hand on her shoulder, squeezed slightly.

“Three cycles ago I left the Peacekeepers behind. I did it because I wanted to survive, but I’d no real idea what I was getting into. Being on Moya was… nerve-wracking, not simply because I was amongst those who had a genuine reason to dislike me, but also because I had no control over my fate.” He smiled wryly. “I don’t like not having control.”

Donna let out a snort. “You? Really? I never would have guessed.”

“What I mean to say,” he said, “is that I understand if you are feeling that events have rather escaped your control.”

“I chose to come,” she replied and shrugged, the nonchalance forced.

“You did, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t feel… overwhelmed.”

“I’m fine.” She looked out at the stars. “Do you know where we are?”

“Not really. I know where Earth is and approximately where Peacekeeper-held space is in relation to our current position, but I don’t know anything about this region.” He grinned. “New planets.”

“God, well I asked for an adventure, didn’t I? We could get into a fair amount of trouble.”

“Yes, I know.”

“I mean real, proper trouble, with shooting and everything.”

“Yes, I know.”

Donna looked at him. He seemed utterly unconcerned, even cheerful about the fact.

“I’m not going to let you shoot people,” she told him and folded her arms. “I won’t let you be that person anymore, Bialar.”

“I know that too,” he replied, his voice soft. “I was rather counting on that.”

That rather took her aback. She blinked and tilted her head at him. “Oh?”

“I learnt that going through the universe in such a manner only won me one reputation; a killer to be avoided. I wanted to leave violence behind me and I tried, though it was not always possible.” He lifted his chin and a determined look settled on his face. “I will not venture onto a new world unarmed, but I will not use my weapon unless it is absolutely necessary. Do you agree?”

“Well, I’d prefer it if you didn’t, but I suppose I can live with it. It’s sometimes hard to put down a weapon, especially when faced with the unknown.”

“You have experienced this?”

“I wasn’t armed, but yes. I have seen a war fought for no other reason than those fighting it didn’t know how to stop.” She looked at him. “It wasn’t pleasant.”

“No, I would imagine not,” he said. “Nonetheless, I’m not going… experience new cultures unprepared.”

“By which you mean armed.”

“Yes.”

She looked at him. Though she’d not known him long, she knew there was no arguing with that expression. At that moment she realised how different he was. Not to her, because that went without saying, but to... He was alien. Just not the alien she had gotten used to. It was time she stopped comparing them.

“Okay.”

Bialar arched an eyebrow, clearly having not expected that response. Then he smiled and pressed a button. In the air between them appeared a hologram of stars.

“Pick one,” he said.

Entranced, Donna walked towards the hologram, into it, and turned slowly. The stars surrounded her; a million semi-transparent, glowing points of light. She debated, then closed her eyes and straightened one arm, waved it in a loose circle and stopped.

“There,” she said, and opened her eyes. “Wherever that is.”

“Talyn, set co-ordinates,” Bialar said. He grinned when she looked at him. “I believe we have a lot of running to do.”

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