Title, Song Bird
Summary, The Doctor discovers a strange little girl in a world not fit for strange little girls. (AU, sort of.)
Author's Note, Well, hi there! My name is Sarahbelle! I used to write a lot of fan fiction, but then real life got in the way. And I decided I really missed fan fiction! My newest and greatest obsession is Doctor Who, so I hope you'll enjoy this story. It's heavily inspired by the book Vamped: A Novel, but also incredibly distinct and also nothing to do with vampires.
Disclaimer, I do not own Doctor Who.
The sound of the wailing siren put her teeth on edge. The underground of the facility was dark but for the red lights that flashed and made her vision turn bloody and sour. She could barely breath- something had struck her in her side and it was exhausting to move. Her arms wound around the small budle that she pressed so carefully to her breast. All was quiet, but for those sirens. The sound of persuit had ceased the more corners she turned, weaving and ducking and trailing through the underground that she had grown so used to in the past few years. There was nothing much left for her, now. She supposed it was nearly her time.
The bundle in her arms twitched and her teeth grit into a tight, thin line. Despite the pain that was slowly spreading from her side into her abdomine, she knew that she couldn't stop just yet. Reaching out one hand, she trailed the wall until she found a door. It stuck when she tried the handle; she had to throw her shoulder into it several times before the wood splintered and she was able to duck inside. How strange, she thought idly with a sneer and a chuckle, that out of all the materials for this door to be made of, it would be made of wood! Kicking the door closed, she settled with her back against the furthest wall.
The room was small and dark. Beneath the gap in the door she could see the red warning lights and she could hear the sirens, barely muffled by the room. Sniffing, she pulled the bundle away from her body and peered down. A soft face looked back up at her: it was a human face, mostly. Big brown eyes peered up, doe-like and innocent, from a round, flat face. She did not have the snout of her people, nor the hard set, rock-like brow. Her hair, though thin, fell around her face in black hanks. She had been spared- it was her human-esque features that would save her. If it only weren't for that skin!
"I'll have to go away, soon," she hummed thoughtfully to the child. "Mama will have to go away soon."
"No," her daughter protested in a whine. A slow chuckle fell from the mothers lips, though it was quickly covered by a groan of pain. She was dying. Her hand pressed to her side and she pulled it away with a palm covered in blood.
"I should never have brought you here," the mother admitted in a rush, touching her daughter's face and smearing her cheeks with blood in the process. "It was foolish. Death would have been better than the life you'll have, here."
Her daughter began to cry. It set the mother's heart racing and she hushed her gently, pulling her against her chest and rocking her, slowly. "There, there!" She cooed, though there was nothing she could do or say to make this right, now. The war that ravaged their planet had been devastating, to say the least. It had been a miracle that she had been able to get out with the child in the first place. A useless woman she had been, unable to polite the escape pod; crashing onto this planet had been, at first, a blessing. Three years of hiding and ducking and running and trying to keep out of the human eye had negated that thought rather quickly.
"I'm going to go find you some sweets," the mother whispered, drawing back from the child. "Can you sit here and be still, little one?"
Her daughter peered up at her with all the trust the young tend to put in their mothers. That trust was misplaced. Swallowing down air, she set her daughter to the side and shucked off her heavy jacket, tucking it around her shoulders and settling her behind a small rack of boxes. She would be hidden from sight if she stayed low and quiet. It was a temporary fix. Tears rushed forwards to her eyes and she raised one hand to brush them away, shaking her heavy head.
Turning away, and without a goodbye, the mother slipped out of the room and slunk away to die.
The thing about travelling alone was that he easily got very bored. Oh, there were adventures to be had and running to do- he did love the running! -but there was no one to share it with. He couldn't bring himself to grab a human off the street and show them all of time and space. Amelia and Rory had their own life, now. He watched, sometimes, from across the street, hidden from view. He would watch his red-haired Amy Pond shouting from the doorway as Rory left for work. It was heart-wrenching, to say the very least. So, this is what prompted him to be sitting on the chair in the TARDIS console room, swinging his legs an scowling at the center console. He'd returned recently from watching a super nova and while it got his blood pumping, the Doctor found that the adrenaline was leaving his system more quickly than he would have liked.
He felt lonely.
Bored and lonely and itchy. He wound his hands up and down his arms. He missed Amy and Rory. He even missed River, wild and vivacious as she was, causing trouble whever she went. A fond smile fell across his lips at the thought of her and the TARDIS made a delighted whirring noise.
"I miss them, too," he said quietly, sliding up from the chair and pressing his hands against the console. He stroked her levers and buttons and handles and grinned when she made metallic clicks in return. He slid his thumb across his lower lip as he began to fiddle with the TARDIS console. He would find something to alleviate his boredom. There had to be a planet in distress, someone to save.
The TARDIS made another whir, another beat, another click- but she sounded distressed. The Doctor wound his hand through his floppy fringe and flipped a lever. "What's wrong?" He asked, frowning and knitting his brows together. His machine jostled violentily; he had to grab onto the console to keep from being thrown to the ground. Despite his worry, he couldn't help the smile that flickered across his lips- this was exciting! This wasn't boring at all! "Let's go!" He encouraged, stamping his palm down against a button and pulling a lever. The TARDIS lurched and disappeared into the time vortex. He could feel it like a welcomed presence creeping along the outdoor walls of the TARDIS. His hearts raced in his chest like twin birds begging free of the rib-cage prison.
When the TARDIS came to a shuddering stop, he paused for several long moments to gain his footing. The whole of the universe could be outside his door. No matter how many times, he never got tired of it. How could he have ever thought that he had been bored? A grin broke apart his face and he darted to the door. There was no moment of waiting- he threw the doors open in an excited flurry.
Only to be met with the quiet hum of a mid-afternoon in the absolute middle of nowhere. Large trees pressed in around him. The TARDIS had landed in a small clearing. On the air he could hear the sound of cars passing; a road was not too far off. Sniffing the air, he could deduce that he was on Earth. It seemed like Amy's time, perhaps a few years off in either direction. He rapped his fingers on the door frame, drawing her tongue against his teeth as he peered out into the forest. The sun flittered down through the trees, making soft warm patches of sunlight inbetween the roots and branches.
"Okay," he said slowly, taking a step out into the direct sunlight that fell through the trees and warmed a patch of earth just outside his front door. "Forest. Why'd you bring me here?" He clicked his tongue and glanced over his shoulder. The TARDIS was annoyingly silent.
"Fine," he breathed, turning away. "Two can play at that game."
His attention was drawn almost immediately to the sound of a soft sniff. His ears honed in on the sound almost immediately. He could hear soft breathing, the sound of finger-nails gripping the bark of a tree. His eyes flickered to the nearest tree- a big pine with high branches and a heavy, rotund trunk. He moved slowly, his shoess seeming to step on every little twig that could make a snapping noise along the way. He winced.
"Hello?" He called, hoping to be helpful. He pressed his hand against the trunk of the nearest tree and followed the curve of it around to the other side. He peered down and there she stood. Perhaps two feet tall with big green eyes and small hands and a gentle round face. She was plump in a child-like way, with little fingers and toes that pointed inwards. She wore a torn and tattered little dress and whisps of thin black hair was in wisps about her face. Her fingers gripped the bark of the tree and his stomach dropped at the sight of them- her nails were ripped back on a few fingers and were covered in blood. Her dress, too, was splattered and stained. She smelled of illness.
But it was the skin, most of all, that arose curiosity: she was green.
Not a proper green, either. Not lime green or grass-green or even the green of the trees and the leaves. No, it was a most chartreuse. The skin looked soft and had a healthy glow to it. But it was most certainly green.
"Hello," he repeated softly, squatting so that they were eye-level.
The child wavered on her feet and he reached one gentle hand out to steady her on shoulder. It was at that moment that she lurged forward and opened her mouth- and sunk her teeth into his wrist.
He let out a surprised shout and grit his teeth. Her lips were peeled back in a terrible snarl and he saw now that her teeth were not as human as her small, flat face suggested they would be. The pain in his wrist radiated all the way up to his shoulder and down to every tip of his finger. His shout must have surprised her, because she jerked backwards and tripped over and over-grown root, falling onto her backside. He drew his wrist against his chest; he could feel blood trickling into his sleeve. Her teeth were razor sharp and they sneered at him from her position on the ground.
"No biting!" He scolded, raising one finger and shaking it at her.
She stared at him, as if uncomprehending. He could see now that her dress was nearly soaked through with blood, but none of it seeme to be her own. Her cheeks were muddy and her feet and hands dirty. He could only imagine what pain she was in from her finger-nails.
"I want to help you," the Doctor said slowly. "Where's your mother?"
Her lips twisted around those teeth and she seemed to be calculating whether or not to answer him. He couldn't particularly blame her. After what she had been through- whatever that had been -he could only imagine that she wasn't keen to trust anyone.
"What's your name?" He tried again, his voice a little softer.
The simple word seems to be forced out, choked on by a dry throat. He observes her- Wren -and takes in her condition. "What happened to you, Wren?" He asked.
She seems to twist her lips and struggle for words again. "Lots of noises," she said at long last. "And flashing. Mama went out. I hid." She twissted her expression and sat up a little straighter. The Doctor looked away only long enough to assess that his wrist wasn't going to rot off. His eyes flickered back towards the strange green child.
"Who were you hiding from?" He asked.
"The people." She whispered the words quietly, tears coming suddenly to her eyes. Unnerved, the Doctor eyed her. "The people and they hurt Mama and Mama went away and I hid."
"Well, you aren't hiding now," he said slowly. It sounded as if she had been inside a building somewhere- sirens and flashing lights. He was a clever man, he could deduce that much. Wherever it had been, it couldn't be far, not with how small she was and the close proximity to the road. "Did you run away from the people?"
Wren nodded slowly, rubbing at her eyes with the back of her wrist. "There was a hole. I pulled it open and went down and crawled and crawled and then I came out."
A drain, he realized swiftly, eyes flickering back to her hands. It would explain the ripped back nails if she was pulling at metal drain coverings in the floors of buildings. He reached for her hand and his time she didn't bite him. Her hands were small and tiny; her skin was soft and he brushed his thumb along the gentle joint of her wrist.
"You're a very strong little girl," he said quietly. "You're not human, are you?" He flipped her hand over and lifted it, checking her joints as he bent her arm at the elbow.
Wren looked at him blankly and he took that for a yes. "I can make your hand better," he insisted. "If you'll let me."
"I'm waiting for Mama," Wren told him, rather matter-of-factly. It made his hearts clench in his chest. He imagined that her mother wasn't going to be coming back for her. Before he could speak, she went on. "Mama says if I'm lost, then I have to stay put. And she'll find me."
"It's only over there," the Doctor said, gesturing over his shoulder. "You can wait for your mother while I fix your hand."
Wren seemed to consider it carefully, drawing her razor-sharp teeth across her lower lip. He wasn't surprised to find that her skin resisted the sharp weapons like some kind of leather. "I'm sure your hands hurt," he said gently.
Finally, she nodded. The Doctor stood. His knees creaked. Perhaps he was getting old, after all. Wren held onto his pointer finger (it was all she could reach) as he lead her back around the tree and to the TARDIS. The door stood ajar just as he had left it, the patch of sunlight having crept just an inch or two away. Wren's grip was strong and he imagined that she was far more fit to survive than he initially thought. He glanced down at her as he lead her into the police box. Her brown eyes surveyed the scene almost critically, thought it was with a child's imagination that she was able to accept the idea that it was bigger on the inside. The Doctor smiled, pursing his lips together.
He swung her up onto the seat at the center console. "Don't touch anything and don't move," he instructed. "I'll be right back to fix up your hands. Yeah?"
Wren nodded, sticking her thumb in her mouth and settling back against the seat.
The Doctor quit the console room and retreated to the infimary to find some bandages. He moved quickly, uncertain about leaving Wren alone for too long. "This is where you take me?" He asked the TARDIS aloud as he spun through the infimary. He tucked the bandages under his arm and grabbed the first aid kit that Amy had shoved into one of the corners. His chest tightened at the mere thought. "To a lost little girl without parents, covered in blood... It's depressing, not interesting." He took in a sharp breath and shook his head. "A lost, green little girl. A lost, inhuman, green litle girl." He brushed his thumb across the cover of the first aid kit momentarily before spinning away and heading back towards the console room.
Wren hadn't moved, but there was color coming back to her cheeks, if that were at all possible. He knelt in front of her and pulled her thumb from her lips. He removed the nails that were hanging on by ver little, clenching his throat when she began to cry from the pain. Even strong little girls could only hold on so long, he figured. He disinfected her cuts and bandaged her hands. They were two little semi-useless clubs by the time he was done. Her thumbs stuck out as did the pinky on her left hand and the pointer finger on her right. He placed his hands on either side of her when he was done. She had stopped crying and was now staring at him almost expectantly.
"Well," he said slowly. "Wren. I'm the Doctor."
"Can you find Mama?" She asked suddenly, her eyes flickering above and around him to explore the expanse of the TARDIS.
The Doctor swallowed thickly. With the amount of blood on her dress, he couldn't imagine that without help her mother had survived whatever had happened to them. "I can try," he said quietly.
"Okay," Wren agreed. It was as simple as that. Perplexed and uncertain, the Doctor gave a stiff nod in return.
"Okay." He said. "Okay."