VI. Cry for Help from a Familiar Face
- see previous chapter - Author’s Note:
This version here is the second version from what I originally started with. I scrapped that one ‘coz I started to not make any sense to me. Now for this chapter I am bringing back a character that I didn’t think I’d include, but I was fascinated by their story and wanted to give them a bit more of a background considering she alluded that she has seen the Doctor before during his 10th form.</br>
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = VI. Cry for Help from a Familiar Face
EROS, THE PLANET WHERE ANYONE AND EVERYONE can do anything and everything they wanted to do and nobody else outside the inhabitants of Eros would know about it. It was the universe’s version of Las Vegas in a way.
“What are we doing here?” Astra questioned for the umpteenth time since the Doctor landed the TARDIS on a field outside the planet’s city centre.
“Investigating,” was the Doctor’s clipped answer.
They were strolling up and down the busy sidewalk populated with various beings that were all looking for a means of escape from their everyday mundane life. Eros provides all sorts of entertainment for each individual seeking refuge on this planet. Whether it was for a short period of time or long term Erosians caters to these visitors.
“What are we investigating?”
“Somebody sent me this,” he fished out a leather wallet from the inside pocket of his coat and showed Astra the psychic message her received.
Astra took the psychic paper and read the message out loud. “’Hello, Sweetie! Eros’ arrow shot one too many unsuspecting travelers. Let’s meet on his playground. XOXO,’
” she paused and frowned at him. “Sweetie?” she echoed. “Is this a rendezvous message from a former flame?”
The Doctor gave her an irate look and grabbed the psychic paper and its holder from her. He tucked it back in his coat pocket and resumed walking.
“Never mind who sent it,” he said irately.
Astra fell into step beside him and tried to keep up with his long strides. Good thing she had long limbs; she was able to catch up quickly with him and keep up with his strides.
“How can you be sure that that message was a cry for help?” she asked.
“Because I know who sent it,” he answered taking a sharp turn at the end of the street.
Astra wasn’t satisfied with his answer. He knew what that cryptic message was about and he wasn’t sharing it with her.
“I swear, Doctor, if this is another one of your crazy suicidal missions you are returning back to the TARDIS alone,” she threatened. Ever since leaving London after saving the passengers of the number 200 bus they’d been on one calamity-induced adventure after the other. Astra suspected his choice of destinations for them had something to do with what Carmen told the Doctor before they all parted ways, but whenever she confronted the Doctor about it he just shrugs it off and talk about something else.
Her threat struck a chord in the Doctor and he abruptly stopped. Astra didn’t expect the sudden stopping ran smack in to his back. She would’ve fallen flat on her behind but someone caught her before she did.
“Gotcha!” a somewhat husky feminine voice announced after she stopped Astra’s fall.
“Ohmph!” Astra exclaimed and quickly jumped up and away from her rescuer. She twisted around and came face to face with a smiling blond woman with a mop of really curly hair. “Thank you,” she said.
“No problem,” the woman smiled at her before her gaze strayed to the Doctor. “Hello, Sweetie,” she greeted sweetly and walked up to the Doctor who stood apart from them with his hands in his pockets. His face remained neutral, but he was watching the stranger as if he couldn’t believe she was here.
Astra watched the Doctor and the woman with loads of curls in her hair interact. While the yet-to-be-named woman smiled fondly at the Doctor, Astra noticed that he was giving her a rather skeptical look. He was smiling and answering her questions, but there was an undertone resonating from the man as he stood away from this mysterious woman.
SO, NEW COMPANION?” Professor River Song inquired as she fell into step beside the Doctor.
The Doctor frowned and looked over his shoulder where Astra remained after River joined them. She kept a good foot or two away from them but he couldn’t help but feel Astra’s blue eyes boring a hole through the back of his head. He looked back at River before answering.
River slowly cocked an eyebrow.
“What?” he demanded when she continued to stare at him.
“What do you mean ‘for now’?” she questioned.
“Exactly how it sounds,” he answered.
River still didn’t believe him and that frustrated the Doctor. She was alluding to something to his travelling arrangements with Astra than what it was.
“If you say so, Doctor,” she conceded but the tone of her voice told him otherwise.
“Honestly River, what do you know about Astra, hm?” he demanded.
River’s usual mischievous grin appeared and she gave him a sideways glance, “Spoilers,” was all she said and that frustrated the Doctor even more.
“River…” he growled.
“If you’re worried that she’s untrustworthy then rest assured that she isn’t. Astra Sto is the most loyal of your companions and will remain so until…” River’s eyes widened when she realized she told him too much or was about to tell him too much.
“Until?” the Doctor prodded. He grabbed River’s upper arm and stopped her from walking. He turned her to face him and met her gaze, “Until what, River?” he demanded.
River took a deep breath. She was conflicted on what to say. She looked at Astra who now stopped walking as well and was watching them with rapt curiosity, but she kept her mouth shut and let them talk.
“Forever, Doctor, until forever,” River answered and shrugged her arm from his grip. She rubbed the spot he gripped and walked away, leaving the Doctor standing there. When she next looked over her shoulder she saw Astra standing where she stood. She was probably asking the Doctor what just happened.
River looked away and continued walking, but she didn’t pick up her pace. She waited a few seconds before looking over her shoulder again and saw the duo following him. Astra’s arm was linked with the Doctor’s as they walked. She was leaning against him too and saying something to make the Doctor smile, which was working since the corner of his mouth was starting to pull up to smile.
Sadness clouded River’s eyes as she continued to watch the duo. Being a time traveler like the Doctor was has its burdens. Like most of the Doctor’s previous companions, Astra Sto was one of the rare few who made a lasting impression on him – and then some. She was an enigma the Doctor didn’t quite figure out even after…River closed her eyes tightly to block out the rest of the memory that accompanied that thought. It won’t be long now before the Doctor’s world falls apart once more…