Disclaimer: I own nothing, but I hope you enjoy the results
Feedback: Feel free
AN: Hope this chapter works; it was surprisingly tricky to get it right, but I knew from the start that I wanted to change what Kara went through in canon…
A New Angel, a New Fate
The trouble with being stuck in a warship that was on an active war footing, albeit one of the most unconventional war footings the Doctor had ever encountered in all his lives, was that there was only so much time he could spend with each individual soldier even if he wanted to. Unlike with UNIT, where his status as an alien had been essentially an open secret among the staff, nobody outside the senior staff had any reason to think of him as anything more than a brilliant scientist with an eccentric dress sense who'd remained under the radar for the first part of this journey, and he couldn't spend too much time with those members of the crew who knew the truth without attracting too much attention. As it currently stood, he was developing a reputation as a man to talk to when dealing with a various technical problems, but so far he'd managed to avoid attracting too many questions about his past.
It's a complicated balance; do enough to get these people to safety, but not so much that I expose what I am before they're ready to learn it.
He wasn't sure if these people would have made it to Earth or not without his involvement, but with the discovery that the Azure and Gold Guardians had been involved in this mess, he was having to re-evaluate the scale of what he was dealing with. He at least had some hope that their key goal had been to save lives rather than just destroy everything, so he knew that he wasn't setting himself an impossible task, but there was a lot of space to cross between here and wherever Earth was.
The jump-drive gives me options if I can identify the right coordinates, particularly if I've correctly estimated its limitations, but that doesn't help if I don't know where I am now…
"Yes?" the Doctor asked, breaking out of his train of thought and turning to look at Kara Thrace, who was looking particularly fatigued even given the strained circumstances they were dealing with at the moment. "Can I help you?"
"I… I don't know," Kara said, shaking her head awkwardly. "I just… things lately…"
"Bad dreams?" the Doctor looked curiously at the young woman.
"That's not the word for it," Kara replied, the two sitting in silence for a moment before she spoke again. "I just… ever since we left that algae planet, I've…"
"How do you even do that?"
"I've been around for a long time, Captain Thrace; I know what makes people tick and when they're not at their best," the Doctor explained. "What is it; just generally restless, or is there a specific problem?"
"Bad dreams," Kara said grimly, after studying him thoughtfully for a moment. "Helo's suggested a psychiatrist or an oracle, but I'm not sure…"
"What are they?" the Doctor asked, looking curiously at Kara. "The dreams, I mean?"
"You asking for personal or professional reasons?"
"Semi-professional; consider me a gifted amateur."
"You qualified for this?"
"I've seen a great deal in my life," the Doctor smiled at Kara. "If I'm not officially qualified through some form of degree, I'm certainly unofficially qualified due to experience; care to join me in my office?"
His words might be an exaggeration of his skills, but with two Guardians already involved in this, the Doctor would be very surprised if whatever was troubling Kara wasn't connected to their wider plan. As Kara walked into his unofficial lab, she glanced sceptically around at the various equipment the Doctor had assembled over his time in the fleet, ranging from a couple of computers scanning the constantly updating stellar maps of the area to the remnants of Baltar's chemistry equipment.
"Interesting mix," she noted.
"I get by," the Doctor shrugged, moving to sit at the desk in the middle of the room, indicating a chair on the other side. "Sit down, please."
"OK…" Kara said, looking uncertainly at the man in the velvet jacket even as she followed his cue. "So… how's this going to work? You listen while I just… talk it out?"
"Let's keep it simple to start with, certainly," the Doctor nodded at the young woman. "What can you tell me about the dreams?"
"Mostly… about my mother."
"Mostly… about how I didn't measure up," Kara sighed. "I mean, there's also some frak about Leoben telling me that I have a destiny, but-"
"Let's… leave that issue alone for the moment," the Doctor said, holding up a hand as he looked reassuringly at the viper pilot. "What about your mother?"
"It's… well, it's about our last meeting," Kara said, after a moment's solemn silence as she stared at her hands. "She'd always had this fixation with me being special, but in our last talk after I graduated officer training, she accused me of being a quitter because I didn't work on my personal issues."
"You mean your rebellious streak?"
"Graduated sixteenth in my class despite my skills in the cockpit because of it," Kara shrugged. "I was in a class of over a hundred cadets, and as far as she was concerned, I should have been first…"
"There was something else to it, wasn't there?"
"She… died after that last talk," Kara admitted. "I'd found out she had cancer, and all she could do was criticise me for trying to show sympathy and tell me that I should find someone else to motivate me because I wouldn't have her to do it any more…"
"Parents," the Doctor smiled sympathetically at Kara. "They're never easy, and it's worse when they have expectations of you."
"Of a sort," the Doctor shrugged; he didn't often share this much information about his own background, but Kara seemed so down and uncertain of herself right now that it seemed appropriate to do so. "The head of my family always believed that I was destined to become president of my people, but I never had any real interest in politics; I got my doctorate easily enough, but I only passed my final qualifying exams to become a member of my peoples' elite with the bare minimum needed to satisfy his desires for me."
"Concede to parental demands without giving into them completely, huh?" Kara smiled at him. "Always a pleasure to meet a fellow rebel."
"We make life interesting," the Doctor grinned, before he looked more solemnly at her. "The point is, no parent should have the right to make demands of their children just because they believe they know what we should do with our lives. You did the best you could, and that should be enough; you can't keep lashing out at others because you're still struggling with your mother's expectations."
"Think that's where she comes into it?"
"As good an explanation as any," the Doctor nodded (privately, he suspected that something was using the image of Kara's mother as a useful means of communicating with her right now, but he doubted she was ready to hear something like that).
"And… what about Leoben?" Kara asked, sounding surprisingly timid as she looked at the Doctor.
"Leoben? That's… Cylon model Number Two, correct?"
"He was in the dream too; said all this stuff about how I'm afraid of diving into the unknown and the edge, but… there's also mom…"
"Fear of the unknown is nothing to be ashamed of. I may like to think of myself as an explorer, but there are some places where I recognise that I shouldn't probe too far too quickly. Death is what gives our lives meaning, but you shouldn't go looking for it either…"
He paused and looked at her with a more thoughtful expression for a moment, before he nodded in resolution. "I think we need to take a closer look at this."
"Closer look?" Kara repeated uncertainly. "We're talking about my head issues, Doc-"
"Firstly, don't call me 'Doc'," the Doctor corrected Kara, holding up a firm finger before he gave her a warmer smile as he raised his hands so that they were on either side of Kara's head. "And secondly, I have other methods; if you just sit where you are, I'll do the rest."
"What?" Kara blinked.
"It's a… technique from back home," the Doctor explained; he appreciated that the senior staff knew that he wasn't quite human and trusted him nevertheless, but he didn't want to advertise some of his more subtle abilities in case they started worrying about what else he could do. "Just sit down in front of me, relax yourself, and I'll… see what I can do."
"Something like that," the Doctor shrugged, not wanting to explain this in greater depth. "I won't do anything… invasive, I can assure you; I just have a few theories I want to test, and it's best if you're… not fully conscious of them at the time."
"You're not going to do anything… weird, right?" Kara asked, the teasing tone in her voice at odds with the fear that the Doctor could only see because he was looking her directly in the eyes.
"I will do nothing to you, Kara Thrace, beyond find your problem and help your subconscious reach a state where it can be accepted," the Time Lord replied solemnly, hoping that his current incarnation's natural sincerity would make it easier for her to accept him at his word despite the lack of detail he could share with her. "Just relax… open your mind… and listen to my words…"
As Kara's mind began to relax under his words, the Doctor tentatively stretched out his mental senses, carefully feeling his way around the young woman's psyche, greatly appreciating the easier nature of this 'intrusion' compared to his last couple of attempts; the Beast had been relatively peaceful once he found the right dimensional phase to talk to them on, but that experience with the Waro had been very complicated…
He wasn't sure what he was expecting to find at first, but he took care to probe his way through the Viper pilot's memories without drawing too much attention to his presence. He tried to skim over the finer details of her past, but he still winced when he felt her mother slam a door on Kara's fingers. Behind all of Kara's tough attitude and incredible flying skills was a damaged woman whose mother had made her suffer for the sake of some nebulous future destiny that nobody was sure about, and behind that, there was something… something reaching out to her with the image of Leoben Conroy… something that was reaching for her… something that would draw her to them and make her their agent… something that…
You, the Doctor said, reaching above and around Kara's mind to address the source of this signal directly. I thought we agreed you wouldn't do this kind of thing any more?
There is no harm in providing some… assistance, surely?
Providing the right person with assistance and insight into a specific crisis is one thing; this would involve taking someone away from her entire life just to serve your own purpose.
Kara Thrace has a destiny-
Nobody has a single destiny; it's one of the many things that inspired me to travel in the first place. Kara Thrace is a human being with a right to live her life without you interfering with it just because it's easier that way. If you have a clear message for her, give it to me and leave it at that; she deserves to be more than a pawn in whatever games you're playing.
You make many presumptions about your importance in the grand scheme of things, Doctor.
I will not apologise for assuming that lives matter; Kara Thrace has been through too much to be discarded in such a manner.
We assured her that she would be safe-
Her safety isn't what concerns me right now; she would still be deprived of her family and friends for nothing more than to help you pursue your own agenda. Tell me what you have to say to her, and then leave her in peace.
There was a brief silence over the telepathic connection, and then the Doctor felt a strange sensation as information was 'imprinted' into his brain, providing him with a complex sequence of galactic coordinates.
I assume this is based on a galactic positioning system that I would recognise rather than the Colonials?
I see… I'll need to make sure how far we have to go between here and there, of course, but-
We would caution patience.
I would take that personally, but considering the way things stand, I will assume you don't wish to anger me further at this time, so why should I wait?
You may wish to examine the destination yourself rather than dive in to provide them with these coordinates immediately. What you will discover there will give you some answers about the wider picture, but only once you are approached by the Four of Five.
The Doctor lost the telepathic connection before he could try and probe it for any further answers, but at least he felt like he'd accomplished something with this particular effort. Releasing his fingers from Kara's head, the Time Lord smiled as the young pilot shook her head, looking at him in confusion.
"Uh… what just happened?" she asked uncertainly.
"We… had a talk," the Doctor shrugged.
"You don't remember most of it because of the hypnosis; I had to put you under to ensure that I reached the part of your mind that was most troubled and essentially help you accept it on a subconscious as well as a conscious level," the Doctor explained, hoping that she wouldn't probe the issue any further than what he was willing to share. "I would recommend that you take a little time off to be sure you've got your head back together, but other than that, I think you'll be all right."
"Right…" Kara said, looking uncertainly at him for a moment before smiling uncertainly. "Th… thanks?"
"Give it a day or two to be sure it stuck, and then thank me," the Doctor told her. "It's a bit too early to say anything else for certain, but… I think what I did should help."
For a moment, the Time Lord considered telling Kara more about what he'd discovered, but swiftly decided against it. Religion was still an area of the Colonials' lives he'd tried not to approach in detail so far, and he didn't want to risk rocking that particular boat by discussing higher powers influencing their journey when even he didn't know the full story yet.
And who were that 'Four of Five' they mentioned?
He had an idea or two, but it was still frustrating to have to form a new evaluation of a situation that he was still struggling to understand; there was only so much he could do right now…
Maybe this is one time I should have adhered to official policy and stayed out of things.