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Wayward Son, Chapter 15: Loner

There was no pain, only the terror of utter helplessness as Hal slipped past all the Doctor’s defences. She moved through the walls of his mental shields and into his mind like a wraith, seemingly encountering no resistance. Any illusions that he had truly blocked her in the past were now gone. A being of such psychic power could have taken him at any time.

He raced to close doors, hoping, praying that she would ignore the memories and move on. Dismayed, he watched as they popped open as she passed. Sometimes she would pause briefly before each door; sometimes she would drift by as if completely uninterested and unconcerned by its contents. It seemed as if she was looking for something.

“Please, Hal… don’t do this,” he whispered to the Hal consciousness as she moved implacably through his. She swam deeper into the upper layers, cleaving through the swirling myriad of thoughts like the dorsal fin of an orca. They parted and passed behind her in a glittering wake, barely disturbed by her presence. His Time Lord consciousness may well be one of the most intricate designs in all of the multiverse, but Hal navigated through it as innately as a TARDIS moves through Time and Space.

She saw it all; the loneliness, the loss of loved ones, the despair, the emptiness, the unyielding and unshakable love he held for Rose, the joy he felt in his ties to the Tyler family, his tenuous hopes for the future, his strong desire to right what was wrong, his unrelenting guilt and anguish over decisions he felt compelled to make because there was no other to make them, his constant fear of the darkness within himself and of what he could become. She brushed against the kindness that was so integral to his being, to the Doctor who made people better, and the righteous rage of the Oncoming Storm. She turned toward the Darkness and sank deeper.

“No, please…,” pled the Doctor as she moved to those subconscious and terrifying thoughts he hid so deeply within his tortured soul. He couldn’t bear for anyone to know the truth of him, to bear witness to his deepest shame. He couldn’t bear to see it himself, to be stripped naked and revealed to be what he was: A killer. The killer of his own kind.

Hal moved unerringly to the ornate red door, blacked and charred. Locks, bolts, chains and straps sealed it shut. Gracefully carved Gallifreyan symbols were strewn across every square inch of its surface as a warning, an epitaph, a missive of love, devotion and longing. He could do nothing as the locks fell away, only watch as the door swung open.

You need not follow, he heard her say. He didn’t think he could. Behind that door madness lay.

Through the portal he could hear the billions of voices of the dead. They cried out in fear, in agony, in despair and in accusation. He could hear the voices of his family, his children, his grandchildren. The voices of every Gallifreyan that died that day rose up and joined with those of the Daleks, the Greater Animus, and every other race or planet that died in the wake of the destruction he triggered, many whose names he did not even know. He was crushed by the guilt of the knowledge that he would never know exactly how many deaths he was responsible for, that he had single-handedly committed genocide on a scale that no one had ever seen before, and that he had caused the extinction of far more than just his own race. Worse, he had committed the ultimate sin of surviving the cataclysm. His very existence was an affront to the universe, to the memory of those he had exterminated.

There was no atonement for what he had done to end the Time War; his suffering was not enough. Closing his eyes, he allowed the weight of despair drag him into the Darkness to finally take him. He drifted, too tired and weary to care, to fight, to continue to hide.

How long he drifted into the Darkness, he couldn’t tell. Never noticing that the cries had stopped, he gradually became aware of a gentle tug and the warmth of a voice calling softly to him.


He tried to ignore the voice in his head, wanting only to seek respite in the cold blackness of oblivion. Even Hell itself, the Void, would be an undeserved balm to the aching emptiness in his soul.


He sighed, irked that that even the peace and quiet of Darkness was being denied him. He opened his eyes, blinking at the stabbing brightness of ceiling lighting. Hovering, just above him, was Hal’s face. She wore a mixed expression of concern and grief. Her cheeks, he was shocked to see, were wet with tears. Looking around in confusion, he saw that he was lying on the floor, almost halfway into her lap as she held him by the shoulders.

She spoke, this time in a whispery voice rather than in his head.

“I’m sorry. I’m so very sorry,” she said as she gently rocked his upper torso. “I had to know what you were hiding. I needed to know if you would turn me in; if I could even trust you the slightest.”

He sat up and looked away, his face a picture of devastation. “You can’t,” he told her flatly. “I am Ka Faraq Gatri, the Destroyer of Worlds. The Oncoming Storm. The Evil One. Wherever I appear, death and destruction is sure to follow. Why did you drag me back? Why didn’t you let the Darkness take me? You saw what I am.”

Hal shook her head sadly. “You are a fool, Doctor. You did what had to be done.”

“I took the lives of billions, including the entire Time Lord race, the oldest and most powerful civilization to ever arise in my universe.”

“What choice did you have? You didn’t start the Time War,” she insisted. “You ended it.”

“But I did start it. It was I who was sent to prevent the creation of the Daleks. It was I who eventually destroyed their planet, Skaro. I had a hand in the beginning and the end of the War.”

Hal placed her fingers to his chin and turned his head to face her. “Doctor, I have killed, too. I know what it is to take lives, both individually and en masse. I have killed to protect my planet, the weak, my family, and myself. I have killed because it was my moral duty to protect my world and its allies when called to do so. I would do it all again, if I had to. I will kill again, if necessary. There is always collateral damage, no matter how careful one goes about it. It can’t be helped.”

“But billions, Hal? How does one reconcile the cost of billions of innocent lives? Of genocide?”

“How many billions of lives did you save, Doctor? How many countless billions across the entire multiverse are here because you saved them? What would have been the cost if you’d chosen to save your own planet, your own people, your own flesh and blood? What if you’d saved the Time Lords and Daleks, instead? Would we be having this conversation now?”

“No,” he said as he dropped his gaze to the floor.

“No,” Hal echoed. “No, because we would not exist, or because those of us who survived would be enslaved to the Daleks.”

He stared at the floor in silence, not wanting to seek or accept absolution from anyone.

“Doctor,” Hal began as she wiped the wetness from her cheeks onto her lab coat sleeve, “perhaps no one has ever told you this before… but… thank you. Thank you for making the choice that no one else could make. Thank you for saving us, for saving my family. I would have nothing to fight for, nothing to go back to, had you not made the ultimate personal and ethical sacrifice.”

The Doctor locked eyes with Hal in wonder. “Weren’t you about to kill me a few seconds ago? And now you’re thanking me?”

“I was thinking about it,” she told him, cocking her eyebrow at him. “But that was before I rudely raped and plundered your mind to find out who and what you were.”

“That was rather rude, you know,” he muttered. “Mind, at least it wasn’t as painful as most psychic violations, but it’s considered one of most egregious of acts amongst most telepathic species, you know.”

“I know, and I deeply apologize. I promise it won’t happen again. And I didn’t peek at everything, only the stuff you were trying to hide.”

“So, now that you’ve had your way with me… have you decided not to kill me now, or…,” he hesitated.

She smiled faintly. “… or am I considering turnabout as fair play?”

“Well, it seems only… fair… considering you were thinking about killing me, confirmed you’re an extra-terrestrial alternate universe being with unbelievably powerful psychic abilities, and you helped yourself to some of my most sensitive memories against my expressed wishes.”

“Hey, first of all,” said Hal, “I’m not an extra-terrestrial. I’m over 80% human, and my non-human ancestors were living on the Earth over 500,000 years ago, some 300,000 years before Homo Sapiens Sapiens evolved.”

The Doctors eyes grew wide and he started to open his mouth when Hal held a finger up to halt him. “Second, I will allow you access to some of my psyche, but not currently all of it. I could have easily killed you with just my mind from across the room, so I’d hate to take you out by reflex if you were to accidentally… uhm… hit a raw nerve. Besides, I’m not that kind of girl who just drops her shields for strangers. My people develop strong lifelong psychic bonds, but only with life-mates and family. Third, it was you who seemed to be a threat, since you appeared determined to prove me non-human. Fourth, fair is where you buy a corn dog and a funnel cake, Doctor. It doesn’t fit into the equation.”

“What’s a corn dog? And funnel cakes? Although, they sound nice,” spouted the Doctor, who was obviously recovering faster from his darkened mood at the mention of food.

“You suffer the Time Lord equivalent of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, don’t you?”

Oi, no! Well, possibly. Well, maybe during this regeneration.”

“I noticed,” she said. “Your thought processes are rather… uhm… kaleidoscopic.”

“Oi! Brilliant, me!”

“Didn’t say you weren’t brilliant, just that your thought processes seem rather scattered about in there,” she pointed toward his head.

“Well, seeing you haven’t let me take a peek at the inside of your head yet, that’s bold.”

Hal sighed. “I’m probably going to regret this, but meet me at end of day, and we can go to the local pub for a drink. It’s going to take a couple of brewskies to relax me enough to let you into my head, even on the surface.”

He nodded. “I noticed your mental shields are superb. I’d love to learn your technique.”

“I had a really good teacher,” the smile fading from Hal’s face as she remembered something. “About 4-ish?” she asked. “I’ll drive.”

At exactly 4.00 pm, the Doctor showed up at Hal’s office door, sans lab coat. On the way to the parking garage, it did occur to the Doctor that what he was doing was quite daft. He was in the presence of an inconceivably powerful telepath who admittedly could kill with her mind alone; she had stripped his soul bare as effortless as taking off a baby’s nappy, leaving him quivering inside for hours; and now he was following her to her auto to be taken to a pub so that he could make another psychic connection to her.

Yup, definitely daft. Barking mad, I am.

And yet, the Doctor’s irrepressible sense of adventure and curiosity got the better of him. His life on Pete’s World had been rather boring and lacking in such experiences since his arrival. Hal was the first being he’d met, besides Jackie and Rose, who wasn’t native to the planet. Under the pretense of clowning with 3D glasses in the cafeteria, he’d confirmed the presence of Void stuff on her, so he knew she’d traveled somewhere within the Void itself. Anomalous readings from his sonic screwdriver and gustatory analysis pointed toward traces of non-human DNA. Her interest in and protection of data related to the Kasterborous region of space made him both afraid and hopeful. Where had she found evidence of Time Lords, and what did she actually know about them? Learning more about this creature was worth the danger, and the adrenaline surge he got was almost as good as running from alien threats in his previous life.

Much to the Doctor’s surprise, Hal’s car was a cobalt blue late model convertible Porsche 911 Cabriolet. Claustrophobia, something he’d never had issues with until the tour bus on Midnight, threatened to overtake him in the little 2-seater as he folded his long legs up to sit in the passenger seat. Noting the Doctor’s unspoken discomfort, Hal retracted the top before backing out.

“You know, I really wouldn’t have imagined you being a sports car driver,” he told her.

“You were expecting a minivan, perhaps?”

“Not exactly,” he winced. “I’m driving a hybrid at the moment, so your car appears rather posh compared to mine.” He craned to get a good look at the interior. “And immaculate,” he added ruefully, making a mental note to clean the interior of his car of the loose chips, crisps and other debris.

She smiled. “No kids, no passengers and not much else to do,” Hal said with a shrug. He watched as she shifted smoothly between gears as if born to it, wondering if he would do as well. There were a few more gears on the Porsche than on his beloved old Bessie, not that he thought Hal would ever consent to his driving her vehicle.

“So does it have a name?” he ventured.

“It’s a Porsche, Doctor,” she said as if talking to a two year-old.

“No, no… I meant a given name. Have you given your car a proper name?”

“Funny, but my sister Elly and her husband insist on naming inanimate objects. Never felt the need to do that. So, no. It’s just the Porsche or the car.”

“I had a vintage yellow roadster once named Bessie,” he pouted. “She’s still in the other universe, unfortunately.”

“And your hybrid? Did you name it, too?”

“Mr. Thickety Thick,” he said, still pouting slightly.

“You gave it that name because...?” she prompted, raising an eyebrow.

“It’s just that he’s quite… slow. But he was a gift, so I’m not complaining. Much.”

Hal actually laughed, the first he’d heard erupt from the tiny researcher since meeting her. It was lilting and short, reminding him of the warm trill of a flute. He couldn’t help but to smile, wondering if he’d finally broken the ice.

They parked next to a small pub in a quiet neighborhood. Hal got out and waited for him to extricate himself from the tiny cab before closing the top. The inside of the pub appeared larger than one might guess from viewing it from the exterior, and they made their way to a quiet corner booth with a wooden table.

After ordering a pitcher of bitters, a glass of wine for the Doctor, and a tray of chips, they sat in a slightly uncomfortable silence watching a couple of men play darts.

“So, do you come here often?” the Doctor said to try to break through the awkwardness.

“No,” she answered. “A lone woman in a pub is simply asking to be harassed.”

“No friends?”

“Nope,” she said expressionless.

“Well, that’s kind of rubbish, isn’t it? You can’t go out alone and you don’t go out with friends. Isn’t that sort of boring?” he asked, rubbing his neck.

Their chips and drinks arrived, so Hal immediately poured herself a pint and picked up one of the hot chips to blow on it. “Never been much of a social animal, even before I came here. I read, I play music. Sometimes I watch videos of science and nature shows.”

“Don’t you get lonely?” he asked. “Don’t you miss talking to other people about things other than work, or just want to hang out with a group of people and do… I dunno… stupid human stuff?” He glanced over the pub and indicated with a point of his chin a stage where people were setting up for karaoke.

Hal drew a deep breath before answering. “I’m a telepath, Doctor. The constant bashing of other minds against my shields is wearing. If I couldn’t block it out, I’d go mad. The more people there are around me, the worse it gets.” He watched as she drained the glass of bitter as if it were a cola before pouring herself another.

“Uhm, aren’t you driving us back to Torchwood, Hal?” he asked, a bit concerned.

“Not to worry,” Hal replied. “I metabolize alcohol rapidly and cleanly. It’ll only take me 15 minutes to reach legal sobriety. You can use your sonic thingie to check before we leave, if it concerns you.”

“I’m envious,” he said, cheek resting against his fist as he gazed at the pitcher of beer. “Used to be able to do that, but not anymore. So, how did you end up stuck on Pete’s World, anyway?”

“Pete’s World?”

“Sorry. This universe. I named it Pete’s World because of Pete Tyler, but that’s just the family code name for it, I guess.”

She stared at him, sifting through her memories it seemed. “You had a relationship with his daughter, Rose Tyler?”

“No,” he responded emphatically. “Well, kind of. Weeellll, not really. We traveled together, but we were never a proper couple. Never kissed her until I came here, and only the one time. Well, twice, I guess. But she was being possessed by another entity named Cassandra the first time, so I guess that didn’t count.” Suddenly the Doctor realized she’d dodged the question he’d asked, and mentally applauded her for a skill he himself was well known for.

“I saw that,” Hal said as she dropped her gaze to her beer. “You’re very much in love with her.”

A sad expression came over the Doctor’s face. “I don’t even exist for her. If she could wave her hand and make me disappear, I’m sure she would.”

Hal looked up and stared into his eyes. “That’s not true, Doctor.”

“How do you know that?”

“She watching you at this very moment.”

The Doctor sat up in surprise, starting to search around the pub when Hal stopped him. “No, don’t look around, she’ll know you are aware of her. She’s over in the corner, in the dark near the door. I’m sure she followed us from Torchwood.”

Turning back to Hal, he appeared rather confused. “Why would she follow us here? She’s been a right cow to me for over three months now and wouldn’t give me the time of day.”

“There is nothing logical or remotely rational about love, Doctor. It’s why I suck at it so abysmally,” Hal said with a crooked smile. She closed her eyes and concentrated. “Right now I’m getting a strong sense of anger and possessiveness from her. I’m afraid you’ve underestimated your ties to her.”

Snorting, the Doctor crossed his arms in disbelief as Hal opened her eyes. “That’s rubbish,” he grumbled. “She’s in love with someone else. The other me, to be exact. Apparently, I remind her of him so much that it gets her knickers in a bunch, so she takes it out on me.”

Draining her glass again, she poured herself a third round and motioned for the waitress. Hal ordered two shots of Patrón before turning back to the Doctor. “You do know that she spent years trying to get back to you via the Dimension Cannon, so are you really so surprised that she needed time to adjust?”

“Hal, how much did you see?”

“Enough. Your feelings for Rose permeate most of your thoughts. Those thoughts were not hidden. They possessed roughly fifty percent of your thought processes on the upper levels. I couldn’t avoid seeing them.”

“You know so much about me, and I know next to nothing about you,” said the Doctor, beginning to tire of being an open book. The two shots of Patrón arrived, and Hal tossed back one of the shots before leveling her gaze at the Doctor again.

“What we are about to do, I have seldom done in my life except with bonded family members,” Hal told him. “It will not be easy for me.”

“If you put what you don’t want me to see behind a closed door, I won’t look, Hal.”

“That would be about everything,” she chuckled. She tossed back the second shot and chased it with a sip of beer. “I may do a quick download at some point, because I don’t know if I can bear to do it for long. You must tell me if you feel pain, ok?”

Nodding, the Doctor tried not to be too concerned. He was not at all sure what to expect from a powerful telepath as Hal, nor was he completely sure of her motives, although she’d spared his life and proclaimed him a savior after plumbing his mind. Taking his hands, she slowly guided his fingertips to her temples.

The Doctor gasped as he felt as if he had dove into an ocean of living lights. Tendrils of energy flashed across his vision, too fast for him to track. They left afterimages like lightning, forming a network that seemed to stretch to almost infinity. Disoriented, he flailed about until he felt something solid under his right arm. Something warm… and furry… seemed to be holding him up, anchoring him. Finally, he felt as if his feet found purchase on a solid surface. Looking to his right, he found he was clutching the neck of a large golden-tan wolf-like creature.

Are you ok now? He could hear its voice in his head. A familiar voice. It’s eyes were familiar, too; a dark-blue sapphire hue that bore straight into him.

“Hal?” he asked in amazement.

Yes, of course. Unlike you, I don’t carry two separate minds within my head.

“Y-y-you’re a wolf?” he stammered.

I have many forms, but this is one of my favorites. I could easily have been a unicorn, or a dragon, or any number of other creatures.

“You’re a Variform!”

That’s one way of putting it, I suppose, she remarked. That is also one of the reasons I have kept my true nature a secret. Humans tend to have a strong distrust of shifters. The fact that I am mostly human and my primary form is humanoid would make little difference to them.

“I met a Lupine Wavelength Haemovariform once! I thought he was the result of an extra-terrestrial crash landing on the Earth in 1540. Didn’t you say your people have been on the Earth for over 500 millennia?” he asked.

Please, Doctor. Don’t mix your Variforms up. Werewolves are, indeed, extra-terrestrial in origin. My people were the result of evolution and breeding with other Terran species since the base Variform species appeared on the planet 500 millennia ago. Legend has it that the first ancestors were Amorphous Variforms who were lost or abandoned by the Founders. Our ancestors were, for lack of a better term, pets. Unlike the Weres, we never depended on light to change, we are not limited to one form, and we do not reproduce via blood-borne components.

“So why haven’t I met someone like you before? I spent a great deal of time on the Earth, it’s one of my favorite planets, and never have I encountered anyone like you.”

It will take a long time to explain, but the gist of it is that I am the end result of a… rather unethical… eugenics program. Its goal was to concentrate the Variform DNA through breeding and genetic engineering. I’m essentially a throw-back, Doctor.

“Why would anyone do that?” exclaimed the Doctor disgustedly.

The Variform DNA type is extremely resilient. It will, almost without exception, adjust itself to form viable offspring with practically any species descended from the Founders. For about 75% of the species in my universe, I am prime breeding stock.

“Oh,” the Doctor said quietly, his eyes widening in understanding. “So for any endangered or unethical members of a species that wanted to incorporate into their progeny strong psychic capabilities and ability to shift form…”

Right. I could look forward to a life as a broodmare. Walk with me, Doctor, she said as she moved forward. We do not have much time sitting in a pub, and especially with your girlfriend watching us.

He sighed. “I wish she was my girlfriend.”

You truly are kind of… what do you Brits call it? Thick? Big Time Lord brain and all that, but still very thick.

“Oi, you remind me of someone.”

What? Get called that by a lot of people, do you?

“Told you, I’m pretty brilliant. Even by Time Lord standards,” he preened.

Well, look around you. Time Lords weren’t the only ones with big brains.

“Blimey,” muttered the Doctor as he looked up. What the Doctor saw took his breath away. Hal’s thought processes, unlike the helter-skelter, dizzying flight of thousands of thoughts racing through the upper levels of the Time Lord’s consciousness, were gleaming crystalline structures of living light. He was awed by the beauty and orderliness of Hal’s mind, like interconnected snowflakes, only with vastly more intricate structures. Actually, it reminded him of how timelines appeared to Time Lords.

“Hold on. Is your mind actually operating on a quantum level?!?”

Yes, of course. It is not unlike how your mind access information on timelines, or how your TARDIS built rooms trans-dimensionally. It’s one of the reasons I can control my mass when I shift. When I become a horse, I have the mass of a horse. If I become something as small as a shrew, I weight the same as a shrew. You’d be able to put me in your pocket without any problem. Not that I’d let you do that.

“That is just amazing! And you were born like this?” he marveled.

Not exactly. I was trained almost from birth to think like this, but the potential was innate. However, this is simply the upper levels of my consciousness. The lower levels are just as screwed up as anyone’s.

As they walked, Hal turned and led him down what appeared to be a narrow corridor. The light began to dwindle as they sank deeper into Hal’s psyche. Feeling the hair on the back of his neck rising, the Doctor stopped. Vague shadows were moving in the corners of his eyes, it seemed. Shadowy figures seemed to loom in the dark, ready to take him and drag him someplace he might never return.

You feel it? Hal asked as she looked up into his face.

“Yeah. I feel darkness, and fear, and rage, and despair,” he answered in a low voice.

You know what is in the darkness of your own soul, and it frightens you. But you don’t know what is within mine, so it frightens you even more. Understand, Time Lord, that none of us is incapable of great harm. This darkness exists within us all. Our experiences and the choices we make uncover it, but it existed there all the time. I could take you there, but you have already seen the Darkness and flirted with it. I only wish to show you that you are not alone in possessing it. I have one more thing to show you before I give you the factual information you seek.

Hal turned slightly, and the Doctor saw a portal with nothing within it. It was Nothingness. Empty. An aching hole like a rent in the very fabric of Time and Space. It was emptier than the Void, with the exception of one small pinprick of light in the middle. The loneliness and longing the Doctor felt when he looked within forced tears to his eyes before he had to look away.

I saw such a thing within you, Doctor. I saw the Emptiness.

“Yes,” he said, his voice constricted by such empathy that he could barely get it out.

This is what I am without my family. This is what was left when I got trapped across the Void. Elly and I are twins. We were born bonded. We were bonded in the womb, long before either of us became conscious beings. She has always been there, along with our dam. But the bond between us defies description. We have been described as Twin Souls, two halves of one whole. Without her, without my family, I am lost. The tiny beam of light that you see, that is all that is left to me now. I know she is alive, but I cannot commune with her or hear her thoughts. I know that she is as bereft as I.

The Doctor went to his knees, wrapping his arms around the neck of the wolf at his side. The devastation on his face was clear.

“That is what I felt when Gallifrey burned,” he whispered. “All of my people, every member of my family, my children and grandchildren… when they ceased to exist, their voices stopped. That empty hole in my head and in my soul was what was left. Now, there is a similar chord stretched between me and my other self. I know he’s there, but I can’t touch him. I can’t reach him. It’s doubtful that I’ll ever see him again in the short life I have left.”

Then we understand each other now? We have much in common, you and I. I must get back to my family. You must create a new family with your bond-mate.

“My bond-mate?”

Is it so obvious that you can’t see it?

“Uhm, no. I see it. I just don’t know how to achieve it,” the Doctor sighed.

Some Oncoming Storm you are, said Hal wryly. Somehow, the wolf managed to raise an eyebrow, making the Doctor laugh.

I will help you as much as I can, she said. Now, we need to finish this before someone notices we’re frozen in place over our beer and chips. Are you ready for the download?

“I think so.”

We begin.

Flashes of memory and images streamed into the Doctor’s head, so quickly that he felt a stab of pain deep within his brain behind his eyes. But before he could say anything, it was over. He opened his eyes and removed his fingers from Hal’s temples.

“Ooooh…I can see them all now,” he said in wonder. “I see your sister Elly! And her husband, Alan. And… ooooh, she’s pregnant! That is just brilliant! And they live in Toronto. And… “

Hal clapped her hand over his mouth to stop the babbling as he grew louder, drawing the attention of several people in nearby booths. “I’m sure it’ll take some time for you to acclimate yourself to the data I gave you, and some of it won’t make sense at first.”

“I know,” he said, still excited. “But I could do the same for you. It’s not as elegant a delivery as what you just did, but… “

“Uhm, that’s ok,” assured Hal. “Thank for the offer, but I really don’t need 900 years of crap floating around in my head.”

“Oi, I’m hurt,” pouted the Doctor. “It’s not crap. Well, not all of it, anyway.” Checking his time sense, he realized only ten minutes had elapsed since they’d started the telepathic exchange.

“Ok, after four pints, two shots of tequila, and a massive psychic download, I think I’m ready for a nice hot bath, a sandwich and bed,” sighed Hal.

“Is she still here?” he asked apprehensively.

“She’s gone, it seems. Must have left while we were connected. I wasn’t exactly focusing on her at the time.”

The Doctor’s eye widened as one of the new memories surfaced. “Oooooh... you are a lot older than you look, Hal!”

“I can see why you’ve been floundering in the romance department, Doctor,” Hal said dryly.

Eyes softening and growing less manic, the Doctor stared at Hal for a second.

“I could use a proper mate, Hal.”

Donna’s voice suddenly reverberated in his head; You’re not matin’ with me, Sunshine!

“I… I… I mean a friend,” he amended. “Someone who can tell me off when I’m being thick or arrogant. Someone who can explain things to me when I’m simply not getting it. I mean, Jackie helps sometimes. But when it comes to Rose, I don’t know what to say to her. She’s her mother.”

Hal took a deep breath before answering. “Well, I think we should talk about this later, Doctor. When I say I suck at relationships, I mean I’m totally clueless and useless in any type of relationship. I’m not sure I know how to be anyone’s friend,” she broke to him gently.

A big manic grin broadened across his face. “Let’s do lunch together tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow is Saturday.”

“I know!”

“We won’t be at work tomorrow, Doctor.”

“I know! Isn’t that brilliant? My first weekend after getting a job. A milestone, eh?”

Hal groaned. “What have I done? Just sonic me already, ok? We can talk in the car.”

The Doctor (Ten II) suffers a psychic attack at the hands of Hal, but something happens to change things.

Title: Wayward Son - Chapter 15:  Loner

Characters: Jackie Tyler; Ten II; Pete Tyler; Tony Tyler; Original Character
Genre: Alternate Universe; Angst; Character Study; Het; Romance
Author's Description: Set mostly in the AU of Pete's World; TenII hits a big snag in his efforts to forge a new life with Rose and finds himself facing an unexpected identify crisis.
Length: WIP
Rating: Teen for slight swearing