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This story is No. 16 in the series "The Child of Balime". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: The Doctor gives Seo a test — she has three chances to prove to him that she can responsibly travel through time. But then… Seo's never really been very good at tests…

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Dr. Who/Torchwood > Buffy-Centered > Pairing: The DoctorShoshiFR131326,7370284,13113 Sep 1325 Sep 13Yes

Trial One — London, 1860

Author's Note: Posting early, due to Yom Kippur. G'mar chatima tova, everyone.

Trial One — London, 1860

The woman trembled, as she knelt down in the church. Her eyes closed, her jaw shaking. Her eyes filled with unshed tears.

"Please, God," she prayed. With every ounce of strength she had left in her. "I can't take it any longer. I can't…" She heard a sound, overhead, and squeezed her eyes shut, even tighter. Not willing to look, for fear of what she might find. "Please. I just need some hope. Just give me a sign!"

Another crash from overhead, and then a loud shriek, descending lower and lower. The woman's eyes popped open, her head turning just in time to see a young girl splash into the baptismal font. A young girl with blond hair, brown eyes, and freckles, a row of bangs hiding her forehead.

The woman stared, stumbling to her feet. Her mouth forming words, but no sound issuing from her lips.

"Oh," said the girl. Hopping out of the baptismal font. "Sorry 'bout that. Not the most dignified of entrances." She raced forwards, offering a hand. "Hello! I'm Seo!"

The woman didn't take the hand. Shuddered away from the drenched girl. "Please," the woman begged, "don't kill me."

Seo stopped, her face falling into a frown. "Wasn't planning on it."

The woman kept backing away from Seo, desperately.

Seo held up her hands. "No, honestly," she said. "See, Mom and I are just here on holiday. Or, actually, we started off in Cardiff, but then these Renter-Carmichael… sorry, Rentacachamel aliens flew through the rift, and we tracked them here in my ship. Mom's hunting down the other, but this one seems to have gotten stuck…" Seo glanced up at the roof of the church, "…right up there."

A piercing shriek from the rafters, and the woman threw up her hands over her ears, wincing. "Lord, protect me!" the woman begged, as the gigantic winged beast swooped down, talons raised. "Please, oh Divine One, glorious and almighty—"

She was knocked aside by Seo, before the beast could strike.

"Really," Seo said, "it's just Seo."

The woman stared at her. Taken aback, almost too startled to speak. "You… you… you saved my life."

Seo beamed. Then jumped up, and offered the woman a hand back to her feet. The woman took it, as Seo's eyes drifted back to the ceiling, where the creature had retreated.

"Better get it down from there," Seo muttered. She began to race off. "Come on!"

The woman, a little startled, found herself obeying without quite knowing what she was doing. Racing after this girl who'd dropped from the sky, just as she'd asked God for help. Who'd been dropped as if from Heaven, just when she'd asked for a sign.

They raced up the stairs, to the very top of the church. Seo putting a finger to her lips, as they snuck forwards, examining the creature.

A long, sleek, red-feathered monster, with scaled wings and deep green eyes. Surveying the church from its perch up above, occasionally pausing only to bellow high-pitched shrieking noises.

"Is that… the Devil?" the woman whispered.

Seo glanced over at her. Vaguely amused. "Nah. I fought the Devil a while ago. Trust me, he looks nothing like that."

The woman froze. "You… you've actually fought…?"

"Well, you grow up in a higher dimensional plane of the universe," Seo said, climbing up one of the pillars, "and you meet all sorts. Gods. Devils. Mad sentient dimensions trying to possess you."

She swung herself around, and began to scale the flying buttress, towards the rooftop.

The woman leaned over the railing, her eyes wide. "What are you doing? You could fall, and—"

"Yep, done that one, already!" Seo replied. Her eyes fixed on the creature. "But someone still has to get it down. And unless you're planning to climb up the rafters, that means it's up to me." She squinted, then pounced into the air, spinning as she reached for one of the rafters.

She caught it — just barely. With one hand.

The woman held her breath. Her hands clinging tightly to the railing.

Seo gritted her teeth. With a surge of strength, she grabbed for the rafter with the other hand, then hoisted herself up, flipping over the beam and landing on its surface. She shot the woman a grin. Then crept towards the creature.

The creature that looked as if it came from Hell, itself. Why would such a creature be drawn to a church?

"Shhh…" said Seo. "It's all right. I'm not going to hurt you."

The creature studied Seo, carefully. Then turned its head, green eyes seeking out the woman. It squawked.

Why would such a creature be drawn to a church?

"You don't belong in this place," said Seo. "Or this time. I can take you home. I can…"

The creature surged at Seo and she tumbled backwards, sliding along the rafters and then rolling, grabbing and clutching for purchase but finding none. Her eyes went wide, as she found herself falling…

And only just managing to grab onto one of the rafter support-struts, on her way down. Fingers slipping, more and more, every single second.

No baptismal font beneath her, this time, to break her fall.

The creature screeched, leaping backwards, and striking the organ pipes with its wings. A burst of sound echoed through them, and the creature stopped, examining the organ pipes, surprised. And intrigued.

Which was when it struck the woman. Why the creature would find sanctuary in a church.

"Noise," the woman breathed. "The heavenly choir."

Seo tried to grab the support strut with another hand, but nearly lost her grip with her first hand.

The woman leaned forwards, summoning up her last ounce of courage, and in her loudest voice, began to sing Ave Maria.

The creature turned its head back to the woman. Flew forwards, giving a soft cooing sound, as it responded to her voice. Responded to the song.

A cooing sound… that sounded almost like the melody.

It was trying to sing along. Like a baby, attempting to sing with its mother, but not sure of the tune or the words.

The woman reached out a hand, stroking the monster's head. It purred beneath her touch, leaning into her, as if recognizing a friend. Not a monster, then. Just a creature, lost and afraid, struggling to find hope in a world cruel and horrifying.

Then the woman reeled, backwards. Hands clutching her head. "No," she breathed. "No!" Her eyes on Seo, her mouth dropping open. "Hold on," she begged. "Please, hold on!"

The creature turned its head, regarding Seo. Looking between Seo, and the woman it had come to see as its friend.

As Seo's last few fingers slipped… and she tumbled through the air…

"No!" the woman screamed.

And as she did, the creature she had soothed surged into life, swooping through the air, and grabbed up the tumbling girl in its talons. Snatching her from her fall, then tossing her up and catching her on its back, as it landed on the ground of the church, with the slight flutter of wings.

The woman raced down the stairs, fast as she could. Breathed a breath of relief, as she saw Seo unharmed — although a little dazed.

"You!" said Seo. Her eyes gleaming, as she saw the woman. "You saved my life! Thank you!"

The woman stopped. Her eyes still on the creature. "That… beast," she ventured, a little uneasily. "It's… not evil."

"Course not," Seo agreed. "Just afraid. Sees the world a little different from all the rest of us. Was separated from its family, and wound up hunted. By Torchwood." Seo's eyes dropped to the ground, a frown on her face. "Sooner Jack takes over in Cardiff, the better."

The woman felt herself shaking. Violently shaking. Alone, and afraid. Separated from family. Hunted down.

The creature looked up at her. Recognition in its eyes. And gave a soft purr.

Two beings. So very different. And yet… so similar.

Seo looked between the two. Her brow furrowing. Then her eyes went wide, and her mouth formed an 'O'. She strode forwards, her eyes fixed on the woman's.

"Who's hunting you?" she asked.

"A… man," the woman stuttered. Smoothing down her skirts. "An evil man." She heard her voice tremble at just the thought of him. "He's torn apart my life. Killed my family. Took away any hope I ever had."

Something very dark passed across Seo's face. An unfathomably dark expression, as if she were barely able to hold back a sudden rage of anger and pain.

"I know what that's like," Seo whispered.

Then Seo planted a determined expression on her face. Walked over to the woman, looking right into her eyes.

"And I'm not letting it happen again," Seo decided. "No matter what I have to do, no matter what the danger, no matter what the consequences, I won't let it happen." Her eyes blazed. "I swear. I will save you."

She extended her hand, to shake.

The woman hesitated. "You… would attempt… to…?"

"Not attempt," said Seo. "I'm going to do it. I promise, to my dying breath, I will save you…" She stopped. Gave a small laugh. "You know, I still don't know your name."

"I'm… Drusilla," the woman said. Shaking Seo's hand. "Drusilla Keeble."

Seo grinned. "Drusilla," she mused. "That's a neat name! Never heard of anyone named Drusilla, before."
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