As I am a professional writer and have work to do to get paid, I have decided to deal with these thudding plot bunnies in the traditional manner - I will inflict them on others. Please see my Profile for the Challenges of the Month. July Challenges are now available, and what a twist for one of them. If you'd rather do June's, instead, I'd love to hear from you. Thanks to all those who have participated thus far - we had an exceptional turn out for June II for example. The new challenges will run through the end of July. Please let me know when you respond to a Challenge so I can read and review.

The following fic is from a challenge for July II by capemaynuts. I was asked to meet the following criteria:

1. Create a new companion who has the ability to read minds BUT doesn't tell the Doctor, ever.

2. Have the Doctor think he's lost the aformentioned companion in some sort of crowd (not a marketplace)

3. Have the Doctor do something silly/dangerous/emotional while trying to locate his companion.

extra credit: Tell the story from the companion's point of view

This story contains no particular spoilers, really.


Jack and Giles

The Doctor doesn't like me. I can tell. That's fine with me, because I don't like him, either. But we're stuck together, for lack of better words, until I find my father or he hurls me into the Vortex, so he really ought to learn to live with it.

By the way, I'm Giles, I'm from Star World Theresa (turns out that's a giant space ship - who knew?) and I'm fourteen years old. Or, I will be, if I live that long. It's only six months, but you'd be surprised how unlikely living six months has become these days.

"Jack," I whine at the Doctor. "I want some peanuts." For some unknown reason, he really hates me to call him that, but I'm Giles, French pronunciation, he says, not English, so he should be Jack, in my opinion. I saw it in a book in his library. 'Jack and Giles went up a hill...' The Doctor says it's 'Jill', but whoever heard of a girl and a boy being allowed to go anywhere together? My mum would hit me for even thinking it, even if it was my sister.

"Well, you're not getting any, so stop following me around. It's an amusement park, for pity's sake. Go... amuse. And stop calling me Jack."

That's the way he talks, like he's some ancient, put-upon grown up. He doesn't look any older than I am, but he owns a great big, bossy space ship, shoved inside a little blue box. And it lets him drive, most of the time, so he's probably older than he looks. When I first met him, he was complaining about being rude and ginger, but he seems to have decided he likes being so breath-takingly rude that people usually get shocked into silence, and also as carrot-topped as the fields on that planet full of sentient rabbits where he nearly got us blown up.

Or was it eaten? I forget.

I know that sounds incredible, I can hear you thinking it from over here. Just trust me, when you're with the Doctor, it is very easy to forget how they tried to kill you two planets back.

There's a nice lady selling peanuts and smiling at us, and she's thinking we're such lovely and polite little boys, so I think I'll introduce us. "Hi," I say. "This is the Doctor, and I'm his companion, Giles."

The lady smiles and, with a few pleasant exchanges, we're walking off with a free small bag of peanuts. "How do you do that?" the Doctor demands. Like I'll tell him.

He gets in a huff, again, after a few minutes, when his super-pencil (or whatever he wants to call it) won't pick up what he's looking for. He is mumbling, as he often does, a long series of nonsense words, and then he looks at me sternly and steals one of my peanuts. His eyes are gold and really strange, but usually, being angry at me distracts him from really staring at me. That's a good thing, because he actually reduced someone to a literal puddle with that stare once, I saw him. 'Course, I think they usually turn into puddles when they're nervous, but still.

"And I can't imagine why you insist on calling yourself my companion," he's saying. "Companions are not like you. They are helpful. They run when they're told. They don't pester the living daylights out of me, insist on calling me Jack, or steal things from innocent bystanders using methods that I still have not fathomed to this day. They hold my hand..." He trails off and he's lost in space again, thinking about something no one knows.

He drives me nuts when he does that, because I'm used to knowing what people are thinking, but him, I can never tell. He's got this room full of paintings and statues and stuff on his ship, and he goes in there some times and stares at the paintings, especially the ones that there are lots of, of these two ladies, and the one of the lady with the angry eyes and ginger hair, and he looks like that. Bet he's just hoping they'll talk to him when he grows up, but I don't know if he's gonna grow up, the rate he's going.

I decide to give up and walk off. It is an amusement park, after all, and he did tell me to go amuse. I dunno if he meant amuse myself or, more than likely, amuse him by vanishing.

We ran into each other when the ship that my people have been living on - we thought it was a planet, honestly - was crashing into a sun. He rescued us all, and you should have seen the adults just stand around stupid and stare at him. Turned out there were some alien invaders involved, and they kidnapped some people before they put our ship on a collision course with the sun of what turned out to be the Doctor's pet planet. Seems his people gave it to him when he was really young (how young, I can't say, he's really not very old now, I don't think) and expected him to rule it, and he wouldn't, but he still thought he had to look after it.

He told me that awhile after I'd already snuck on board his ship and demanded he take me to find my father. That didn't go over well, because he apparently detests guns and is very quick and clever when he decides to knock you down. Fortunately for me, his ship picked a few moments after that to land in the middle of a disaster (near as I can tell, it doesn't know how to not land in the middle of a disaster). He had to go fix everything and, while he did, I managed to make myself useful and also break my arm, which he had to fix. Finally, we came to a sort of agreement, mostly because the ship kept telling him off about why it was rude to drop people into the Vortex. I think maybe it likes me. Probably thinks the Doctor needs a peer his own age to play with. Unfortunately, I don't think there are any of those, so I'll have to do, even if he doesn't like me and I don't, absolutely do not, like him.

He's been tracking the aliens between disasters, and he tells me that one of these disasters is bound to lead us back to my father because life is like that. I told him that when it does, I will shoot the aliens who took my father. He turned those eyes on me, and they were really weird, weirder than usual, I mean. I don't care that he looks about fourteen, he looked about fourteen hundred when he told me, all solemn, that it wouldn't help. I said I didn't care, and I must have got something in my eyes, because they were watering really badly, and he patted my back and made me cocoa, which is this wonderful chocolate drink from his pet planet. I still don't like him, but he can be very nice some times.

Something bad is going to happen, I just know it. The Doctor is here - warning number one. It is a beautiful day, but the Doctor is here - warning number two. His companion - or whatever I'm supposed to be - has wandered off - warning number three. There are two men in dark coats staring at me and thinking that I'll - yeah, screw the warnings, run.

I know who they are. They're Dock Crimps. They catch people and they put them to work in shuttle bays and on cargo freighters in these out of the way, disgusting space ports. The Doctor got captured by some about six planets back. They thought he'd be a good jeffries jockey, but they didn't realize that you don't let a kid with an electric pencil (or whatever it is) any where near the parts of your space station even you don't understand.

I've been running now for half an hour and hiding and they're still following me and they're gonna catch me and oh goddess...

I don't want to work on a space station. I don't have an electric pencil and I can't get away from them and there's nobody who knows where I am, or cares, except the Doctor, and he doesn't like me. He'll think I just ran off and I'll never see him again and maybe that's not so bad but I think it would be because he'll probably get himself killed doing something stupid.

Like now. "Look at that kid!" someone shouts.

Everyone in the amusement park turns to do exactly that, even the Dock Crimps. I take my chance and duck through the crowds and run, bent almost double, toward the ferris wheel, which the Doctor is apparently climbing.

More than likely, there is an alien plot to take over the world, using ferris wheels as hypnotic mind control. Or there's a kitten stranded on one of the stationary beams. The Doctor's got a really strange hero complex or something. Still, he's accidentally managed to rescue me by making this complete spectacle of himself, so I'm not complaining.

I get through the crowds just as he's dangling from the highest stationary point on the machine, holding on with one hand. He's gonna die, I know he's gonna die, he's gonna die and I'll never see him again. He whips out his sonic screwdriver (that's what it's called, I remember now) and bright red light comes out of it, and the ferris wheel stops. "Doctor, be careful!" I shout, then shake myself and stop it. "Jack!!"

He climbs up to the top of the wheel, standing slightly off-center and between two hanging carts. The people in the carts are staring at him as if he's lost his mind. There's nothing going on here to prove he hasn't, really, so they're probably doing the right thing.

A man in one of the carts is trying to climb out to get to him. He just glares around - I can see that clearly, anybody could with the way he glares - and holds out his arms for balance, peering down into the crowd, looking for something.

I'm frozen to the spot. So is everyone behind me.

The twin suns on this planet are just now starting to set, and his hair has caught the light. He looks like he's on fire. His face is shining, too, and his eyes are so wild and alien that, even from this distance, you can't miss them. It looks, as he just stands there, as if he's holding the suns in his hands.

The two Crimps are coming up behind me, and I really should run, but I can't move. The Doctor is up there staring down at the whole world below him, and he looks like that's where he's supposed to be, always supposed to be, like he's above all of us and always will be.

Then, his eyes land me, standing there in front of the crowd, and I feel like I ought to collapse to my knees. "Giles!" he shouts, and he smiles. My heart swells and my head goes back, and I bounce on my toes to wave at him.

His smile has dropped several people to their knees, and I don't blame them - he looks like an angel, really, or a god. Something alien and wonderful and terrifying, and he's there, smiling at me.

Behind me, the Crimps are suddenly thinking that I'm the last kid they ever want to mess with, and they dissolve back into the crowd. The Doctor drops from the beam, and everyone gasps. He catches it in one hand, shifts over to the stationary beam he climbed, and slides down to the central hub. Then he wriggles around it, and I blink, and he's disappeared.

There's a red light, and the ferris wheel is going again, and then there's the Doctor, and he's snatching me into a hug. "I thought I lost you!" he shouts. He sounds angry and terrified and ecstatic all at once, and I'm clinging to him for dear life. Even the air around us feels odd, as if it's as excited as we are. I can smell rain.

"Are you insane?!" I demand, when I can breathe.

"Yes, but that's not the point! I tell you companions, tell you all the time, not to wander off, and that's the very first thing you think of, the second I turn my back!"

"You told me to amuse myself, Jack," I remind him.

"Yes, but I expected you to tell me where, not just vanish between one word and the next. Honestly, Giles, you're becoming right jeopardy friendly."

He takes my hand and draws me away from the crowd, just as an enormous man in a three piece suit stalks up to where we were. He is thinking that he's very important, being the manager, and he wants to give us a piece of his mind. It's just as well he doesn't get to, because the Doctor has more than enough pieces, really, and the manager needs all the ones he's got and a few more besides.

After we've safely disappeared a bit, I notice that the Doctor is still holding my hand and move to pull it away. I'm a boy, he's a boy, boys don't hold hands, it's girly. Then, I look at his face and stop. He really, really was scared. Oh, wow. "So am I a companion then?" I ask.

He ruffles my hair and grins, nodding. "I can tell, it's the wandering off thing that gave you away."

I laugh and he laughs, and it feels like two friends on a day at the fair, except for the hand-holding thing, which will take a bit of getting used to. So will the fact that I've seen him, now, seen him for what he really is, not a kid at all, and completely above everything that keeps trying to drag him down to the ground where it can hurt him. But I think I'll be his friend for as long as he'll let me. At least until I find my father.

"Let's get back to the TARDIS," he says fondly, and starts telling me the story about a companion of his who once wandered off and ended up hanging from a barrage balloon. His voice is gentle and his face far away, and I can't help but wonder what happened to the blonde girl he's describing, but I decide it's a story for another time.

At the gate, I stop and talk the awestruck man who is thinking that we're incredibly impressive out of some candy floss and one of those day-glo bracelet things. I give the bracelet to the Doctor and eat the candy floss in order to spare the universe the Doctor on a sugar high.

He's staring at me in open-mouthed confusion. "What is it, Jack?" I ask.

"How do you do that?" he demands.

I just smirk and eat my candy floss. This one, I think I'll keep to myself.