Apologies for the delays... again... winces

Oh, and Random Tidbit That You Probably Don't Care About: This chapter's planet was named by me bashing my head against the keyboard and taking out the numerals/punctuation.

Chapter Thirteen
"I thought we could take a breather," the Doctor says happily. Martha and I exchange a glance.

"Er, Doctor?" Martha says. "Since when do you 'take breathers'?"

He gives her a hurt look. "Aw, come on! It'll be nice!"

"Can we go to a beach?" I blurt out without thinking. Everyone goes silent. The tension increases tenfold. "Or the mountains," I add quickly. "Yeah. Mountains."

Jack relaxes next to me, and the Doctor gives himself a shake. "Mountains sounds good," he says quietly, then flips some levers and pushes some buttons with a faraway look in his eyes. "Mountains of Assoniausel."

Though everyone's back to more or less normal, there's still something that makes me feel nervous. Like I did something wrong by mentioning a beach.

I grab the man called Captain Jack by the sleeve and drag him over to the side. He grins at me.


"What was that about?" I demand.

"What was what about?"

I glare. "Don't be stupid. Why'd you all react that way when I mentioned a beach?"

Jack shakes his head. "I don't think I'm the right person to tell you that, Katie," he says. "When the Doctor's ready, he'll let you know. For now... just stay away from the subject of beaches."

"Yeah. Okay." And I will, too. Because I don't want to see any of these people hurt, because I don't want to be the cause of the Doctor's pain, and because...

Because I really don't care.

I don't.

"Wow," Martha gasps as we step out of the TARDIS into the fresh powdery snow. There's a lodge a little way down a hill--the type of mountain lodge you see in movies where the stars go to some fancy ski resort in Colorado.

I just nod. It is pretty. Snow is falling lightly and the view is just spectacular. Only problem is that it's freezing.

"It's a human settlement," the Doctor explains. "Mountains planet. They decided to build a huge ski resort. Welcome to Assoniausel."

"It's gorgeous," I say, then duck back into the TARDIS.

"Katie?" Jack asks. For some reason he seems to be the only one who actually cares about me. It's kind of strange. "Where are you going?"

"Wardrobe. Need heavy coat or I'm gonna turn into a Popsicle."

He laughs. "No cold winters where you come from?"

"Actually," I point out, "we had freezing in winter, violent storms in spring and fall, and intense heat in summer. And we've got tornadoes. I've seen a few, but only one touch down." I shrug. "American Midwest. Crazy weather. Used to it, but that doesn't mean I have to like it."

With that, I head off in search of something warm.

Fifteen minutes later we're in the lodge. Martha's in her normal clothes, as are the Doctor and Jack (though they've also got their overcoats on). I'm in a heavy black cloak, snowboots, and the warmest sweatpants I could find. I hate cold.

But I have to admit it's very pretty. And the hot chocolate here is really good. With extra marshmallows.

"Have you ever skied before?" the Doctor asks me, almost at random. I stare at him.

"Last time I checked, Kansas doesn't have mountains."

"Yeah, but... holiday? Ever?"

I shake my head. "Nope. Never left my hometown. Pathetic, I know. You've seen it. Tiny little thing in the middle of nowhere?"

"Do you want to learn?"

Um. No. Not really. At all. "Sure."

Wait. What?

Did I just agree?

"Great! We'll all go skiing tomorrow!" he says happily. I want to bash my head against the table.

I can't ski.

Hell, I can't even get up. Two seconds in, and I'm already on my ass in the snow and I can't get up. Martha's fallen too, but she manages to get herself up. She goes down a little farther, hits a bump, and falls again. At least I'm not the only one.

The Doctor and the man called Captain Jack seem to be experts, though.

Jack offers me the end of one of his poles. I take it and he helps me up. I continue down the hill.

And crash into a tree.

"I'm never doing that again," I decide as we head back into the lodge. I'm aching all over and my head is killing me, but Martha says I don't have a concussion. Still hurts like hell, though.

The others are happy. Martha's improved a whole lot--she can go down a bunny hill without falling--and the Doctor and Jack are still experts. I still fall a lot.

Jack grins and the Doctor laughs. "Come on, Katie! Where's your sense of adventure?"

"Must've left it in the room. Where I'm going now. For a hot bath and a nap. Call me at dinner, will you?" I don't wait for their answers. I get out of there as fast as possible, because if I don't, I'll start joking and laughing about how I am incapable of skiing.

And that scares me, it really does. I don't want this group to be my new family. I've survived sixteen years almost entirely on my own; I think I can handle myself without developing dangerous attachments.

Which is what this is totally becoming.