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"Discovery"

Note: I've decided to retcon this story and remove the developments to David's character that I introduced here. You're still welcome to read it if you like. This does affect other stories that follow this one, and I've rewritten those as time has permitted.

Okay, here it is. This story is set some time after "A Scene from a Texas Diner" and before Neighbours, during David's studies with the Doctor.

If you are so inclined to comment, I would love to hear your opinion on what I've done with David's character: is it interesting, is it too much, is it outside of the general boundaries of the DW universe, is it stupid, is it too common, etc.? Don't be afraid to tell me that it's not good. Even though the next story after this one uses this, I don't mind branching the storyline and going in a different direction, if this isn't good and interesting. Thanks!

Word count: 6432



Barely a day went by in David's life in which he didn't end up in a headlock before two hours had passed. He and Jenny started their daily skirmish on opposite ends of the gym, from which they warily danced closer to each other, waiting for the other to telegraph the wrong move or drop their guard for an instant. Taking advantage of either such opening, one fighter would move in to disable the other, usually in one fluid movement that immobilised their arms and caught their neck in the crook of an elbow. At least that's what David thought the experience might be like from Jenny's point of view; he certainly had no idea what it was like to win one of these contests. Jenny's superior training and fighting ability, brilliance at tactics, and grace and dexterity were more than a match for his greater strength and longer reach. He was learning, however, and only three days ago had managed to fight her off for three minutes. Today, however, he'd ended up in the stranglehold in less than twenty seconds; he hadn't done that badly in weeks. He'd been tripped and flipped over so fast that he had been stunned for a moment, and he coughed out a concession in Gallifreyan, pleased that the language was now so natural to him that it was the first to his lips when he wasn't thinking about it. Laughing, she released her hold on him and let him fall to his hands and knees.

"You weren't even trying that time, Big Brother. Your eyes gave it away, you know." She stepped back, wiping her hands with the satisfaction of a job well-done. "Distraction gives me any opening I want. What were you thinking about?"

"Sevratimonlan's Temporal Mechanics, Grade 3," he explained as he climbed back to his feet. "I've been trying to work through one of the examples in chapter five, and it's just not coming out. I've worked through it five times, and I'm finding a variance of point five three, whereas he says it's point four eight. Tracing through his work, he assigns the dilation a factor of three point two and I don't see why. According to Ilitmilanderas, presence of gravitic bodies, however small, should contribute at least point six to it, and I'd argue for one point two due to the..." He trailed off as he looked up to see Jenny smirking at him in boredom. "What? I was hoping you'd tell me how you worked through it."

"Me?" She began stretching, even though they'd both limbered up before their battle. "I've not finished Grade 1 yet."

"Why not?"

"I just don't get temporal mechanics. It's hard to make it make sense." She shrugged. "And I don't speak Gallifreyan as well as you do. I’m spending too much time on looking up words and picking apart every sentence."

"I can understand that. The vocabulary and grammar for temporal phenomena is unusual at best."

"Obtuse." She jumped back to her feet. "Want to go again?"

He shook his head immediately, holding up his hands in a negation that he thought might look more like a surrender to her. "Not the sparring. You showed me that disarm technique yesterday. I'd like to practise that a bit."

"Okay!" She bounded over to the weapons cabinet and selected a practice knife to arm herself with. Turning around, she dropped into a ready stance. "Come at me!"

After about ten minutes of instruction and repeated attacks, David got to the point of being able to disarm Jenny three-quarters of the time. When he wasn't successful, he was rewarded with a stab in the stomach or a slice across an arm and Jenny's delighted laughter. However, he was confident enough with his technique that he began experimenting with variations of the move to catch her off-guard. When he executed a particularly smooth feint which ended with not only disarming the woman but also throwing her and pinning her to the mat, they grinned at each other, him with pride and her with a teacher's approval.

"You're really getting it, Big Brother!"

As she popped her chin up to peck him lightly on the nose, enthusiastic applause erupted from the doorway. "Excellent, David!" the Doctor beamed, leaning against the jamb. "Perfect feint. You’re getting better.”

David let go of Jenny and as she rolled away and sprang to her feet, he sat back on his heels. “I have to, or I spend the rest of the day bruised and sore.”

“Glad she’s training you. It’s always good to know how to defend yourself.”

Jenny retrieved the knife and jogged in place. “Want a go, Dad? Come get the dagger!”

The Doctor eyed her with an embarrassed smile. “Er, no. I prefer to keep my ego intact, thank you.”

If he thought that might appease her, he was wrong. Jenny smiled with the gleam in her eye of a predator spotting easy prey. “Aw, come on! Just once.” She dropped into a crouch and beckoned him with a hand.

Hopping up and stepping out of the way, David crossed his arms with a smirk. “Be careful what you ask for, Jenny. ‘Dad’ is not exactly untrained in martial arts, and he’s seen a lot more combat than you have.”

“And I didn’t come here to wrestle. I’ve less physical instruction in mind.”

“Oh, what’s that?" Though it had been his idea to get some combat training from Jenny, David was eager to cut the session short and save himself some pain. Jenny, however, looked disappointed. Whilst she did truly want to learn, book study was not her favourite part of the Doctor's curriculum.

"It occurred to me," the Doctor intoned as he strode into the gym, "that I've neglected an integral part of your education simply because it's a natural thing for Gallifreyan children, whether or not they become Time Lords, and they learn the basics almost before they can speak. I hadn't realised that it's not natural to either of you."

Both students were puzzled. "And that is?" asked Jenny, crossing her arms.

"Your psychic talents."

Whilst David nodded with comprehension, Jenny continued to be confused. "What's that?"

"Well, even moderate psychic ability is extremely rare among humans and non-existent in the Hath, so the knowledge and training ingrained in you whilst you were in the progenation machine didn't include that subject. However, all Gallifreyans are psychic." That didn't help her understand what he was talking about, so he continued. "You've felt it, I know. Do you feel us, me and David, in your mind? Like you always know we're here, but not when we leave the TARDIS?"

"Yes, of course." Her eyes flicked between the two men. "That's because we're family, isn't it?"

"No, it's because you're psychic. You're able to reach out and touch other minds. If there were other Gallifreyans, you'd feel them, too."

"Oh." She frowned as she thought. "Humans don't feel this then?"

"No, they don't." The Doctor waggled his fingers at the side of his own head. "You can hear them a little, more like background noise than what you feel with us, but humans can't hear you or each other at all."

"Oh.” Her face fell, sad like a child realising for the first time that others are less fortunate than herself. “They must be very lonely, then."

"No," David answered. "They're not. You can't miss what you've never had. It's not lonely if that's what you're used to. Humans bond through emotional and physical means, not mental ones."

"Like the way we talk and laugh together?"

"Right. We just have that extra bit where we can sense each other, too."

Jenny chewed on the tip of her thumb as she thought. "I think I understand."

"Good!" The Doctor strode forward, rubbing his hands in anticipation. "Now you're going to learn how to use your ability. Every Gallifreyan can sense each other, but there is more you can do, depending on your psychic strength. Most of us are strong enough to read minds and memories, and that's what we'll work on today, but the strongest were able to move objects with their minds, hypnotise others, or even dominate them." Jenny looked horrified, so he hastened to reassure her. "Very good instinct, Jenny. Reading someone else's mind without their permission is already questionable, and forcing someone to do things against their will is far worse."

"Are you able to do that?" she asked, her eyes wide and naive.

The Doctor nodded. "To some extent, yes. It took me a lot of practice. Some are far more talented, whilst others can't do it at all. But using it... It's not something I do often, and only with very good reason." He eyed David, who was regarding him with a carefully neutral expression, then glanced away. "All right. Let's get started." He rubbed his hands together as he composed his words. "We do best when we're touching our subject. Some species work well without touch, but not us generally. Now, when I learned this, my tutor described a mind as divided into four layers. I don't think it's a good model to live by, because it's far too simple, but it serves its purpose, so I'm going to use it."

Using his hands to delineate layers, he marked out a flat level in front of himself. "The top layer is simply your existence, and that's what we feel when we sense each other. Every other layer is hidden behind our mental defenses, and the deeper you go, the more you have to defeat the walls we put up." He made a punching motion directed at his flat other hand, to demonstrate breaking through layers. "Gallifreyans and other psychic races have good defenses, so they are difficult to break through. Non-psychic races have little defense, because they don't even comprehend what they're trying to keep out."

He then indicated levels beneath the one he had started with. "So, just below the top layer are the surface thoughts, what the person is thinking right now. Below that are the memories, and below that, at the very core of the person, is the person himself, his personality, his moral construction, his wants and needs." He demonstrated the last concept with his balled fist below all of the other layers. "Get there, and bam! You control the person."

The Doctor glanced at each of his students to make sure they understood so far and they nodded, Jenny more tentatively than David. "To read a person's surface thoughts, you aren't going too deep, but to see their memories takes more strength and skill. Then, to manipulate who they are and what they do takes more than most of us have." He grinned. "Which I suppose is a good thing. Anyway, there are two ways to do this. One is to subtly convince them to do it, and that's hypnosis, and it’s a bit easier, if not reliable. The other is to force them, and that's domination. The second is far harder, because the person will be fighting you all the way, whether or not they know that they're fighting. Only the most powerful psychics can completely dominate another person, and even then, it's not easy.

"Today, we'll work on getting to that second layer, but to do that, you have to get to the first layer. Jenny, you'll go first." She bounced with excitement. "Come stand in front of me." Taking her by the shoulders, he positioned her squarely in front of himself. "Now, you need to touch me, skin to skin. Anywhere is fine, but closer to the brain helps. Go ahead and do that." He closed his eyes.

Jenny reached up with both hands and placed them on the Doctor's cheeks, her fingers slightly spread. "You're too tall. Like this?"

"A good start. You'll decide for yourself if you like that placement. Now." He opened his eyes and gazed down at her. "You should feel a bit of a stronger connection with me." He waited for her to nod. "Follow that connection and push into my mind. I'm not going to let my guard down, so you'll feel resistance and you'll need to push through, and find the concept that I'm thinking of. Ready?"

She closed her eyes. "Yes."

"Go." He closed his eyes again.

After a few seconds of silence, Jenny grimaced, concentrating hard. The Doctor nodded. "Push harder. Don't worry. It doesn't hurt."

"There's a... there's a... a line, like a trail. A trail of thought."

"Yes, that's it," the Doctor replied with gentle encouragement. "Follow it in, and forge ahead when you feel you're being blocked off."

She grunted. "I can't. It's too hard to push through."

"You can do it. Try harder. Don't be afraid that you're going to hurt me."

"Okay..." Another few seconds later, Jenny's eyes popped open. "Hot fudge sundae?"

The Doctor shrugged. "Well, I thought we might go out for sundaes after this. There's this fantastic ice cream parlor in Chicago, in 1960..." Catching himself from going on his tangent, he grinned at her. "A brilliant first try!"

Her smile bright and proud, she shifted her hands into a hug. "Thanks, Dad!"

"We'll practise more, but first, let's have David have a go."

David had been quietly standing off to the side, apprehensive about trying this new thing. Though he'd abandoned identifying himself as human for over half a year now and he'd been studying Gallifreyan language and Time Lord technologies, this was the first innately alien thing he was going to attempt to do, and the mere thought of it made him a bit nauseous. It didn't help that he realised, whilst the Doctor was talking, that he'd known that the Doctor had used his power of hypnotism and suggestion on occasion but had not made the connection that he might be able to do the same thing. And finally, it sickened him to think that he was about to learn to do what that Polthite, Ana, had done to him, that had left him helpless and violated. He knew the Doctor's methods were far gentler and kinder, but they still felt like the same outcome. However, he knew that he needed to learn how to utilise his now-natural abilities.

"All right. Let's do this," he heard himself say with more enthusiasm than he felt. As Jenny stepped to the sidelines, he positioned himself in front of the Doctor. Being a clone of the man came in handy: they were the same height and he didn't need to reach high like Jenny had. He placed his fingers carefully on the Doctor's temples, the same way he had done it when he'd played a similar scene out with Sophia Myles' Reinette.

Immediately, he felt a tighter connection with the Doctor, and he sensed the mental barrier in front of him. From a distance, he heard the Doctor say, "I doubt I need to give you any instruction. Push firmly and tell me what concept I'm thinking of." David took a deep breath, focused his mind through the link between himself and the Doctor, and pushed hard.

Jenny saw the Doctor's body jerk, his face spasming as if in sudden pain, and she wondered if that's what he'd done when she'd tried. She stepped to the side to look at David and gasped: his eyes were shining bright gold.

"New Earth. Cleaning up after clearing the gridlock," he grunted.

The Doctor gasped. "That's not... that's not what I was thinking. You're in my memories."

"Your memories?" David's breath was coming short and quick. "How can I be in your memories? Wait, is that Traken? It's magnificent!"

"End this now, David." His eyes popping open, the Doctor grasped David by the shoulders and forcibly pushed him away, breaking the physical contact between them as David's hands grasped for the Doctor but found only empty air.

Frowning in confusion and panic, David groped for the Doctor like a blind man. "No, don't... I... Doctor, stay still!"

The Doctor jerked, his arms snapping to his side like they were bound down by ropes. "Please stop it, David!" he pleaded. "You’re hurting me!"

Clamping his hands to his temples, David cringed and stumbled backwards. "I... Doctor... It hurts... Help me!" The last words were uttered by both of them, simultaneously, in eerie stereo. David's eyes flashed and both he and the Doctor screamed in agony, the older Time Lord swaying on his feet while the younger one crumpled to the floor. Jenny leapt forward but not soon enough to catch him.

"Ohhh..." The Doctor groaned as he held his head in his hands, his eyes crossed.

Laying David out on the mat, Jenny then hopped to the Doctor's side. "Dad? Are you all right?"

"I will be. Ohhh."

"What happened?"

"Don't know. He's strong. Stronger than anything I've ever experienced. And he doesn't need physical contact. But he has no control." Kneeling beside David, the Doctor wobbled as he reached in his pocket for his sonic screwdriver, and Jenny steadied him. Scanning the unconscious man, he held the screwdriver to his ear, then shook his head. "Inconclusive. We'll want to evaluate him in the sickbay. Let's go."

"You're in no state. You need to recover."

"This is far more important." The Doctor pushed himself to his feet and quirked a smile at Jenny. "I can do this. Come on, then." Gathering David into his arms, he gingerly stood and cradled his awkward burden to his chest, striding out of the door Jenny held open for him.

. _ . _ . _ . _ .


It took David a few moments to figure out where he was. Tucked under a thin blanket on an inclined soft bed, he blinked blearily in the low light, finally recognising the cabinets and strange machines that inhabited the TARDIS medical bay. A flash of memories stabbed through his mind and he jerked upright. "Doctor? Are you all right? Where are you?"

"I'm fine, David." The patient twisted to see the owner of the voice sitting in front of a monitor, studying the readout of a mass of bubbling circles and lines, the blond woman reading over his shoulder. "How do you feel?"

"Like someone hit me on the head." He tried to sit up, but the room started to spin and he swayed a bit as he propped himself on his elbows.

Jenny jumped up and applied firm pressure to his shoulder, urging him to lie back down. "You need to rest, Big Brother."

"Doctor." The word was a raspy whisper. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. What happened? What's wrong with me?"

"You still won't grow your sideburns back. That's the main thing, I'd say." The Doctor spun on his stool to face his patient.

"You know, Doctor. You know what's wrong. Tell me, please."

"Well, I shouldn't say that something is wrong, so much as something is different." He rubbed the back of his head as he spoke. "It's your regeneration energy. You can't regenerate. That system's broken, and I have no idea how to fix it, or if I could fix it, try as I might."

"I don't want you to fix it. I don't want to regenerate. I want to die naturally."

"I know, and I respect that. The thing is..." The Doctor licked his lips before continuing. "You've still got all that energy, all that power, and nothing to do with it, so it's manifested differently."

"Yes, I know that." David absently rubbed his left forearm. "That time Jenny snapped my arm in two, it healed in two hours." Jenny smiled sheepishly.

"Right. But there's much more. Your energy is feeding your psychic abilities. All of it, right there. You're the strongest psychic I've seen, or at least, you have the potential to be." He tapped his own head. "You pushed right in and dominated me. That takes some power, to do that to a fully trained Time Lord."

David stared at his hands. “I... I could feel the power bursting out of me and it was… it was intoxicating. I felt so strong, so free. But it hurt, and I couldn't stop, and that made it hurt more." Pushing himself up to sit on the bed, he peered up at the Doctor. "What's wrong with me?"

"Well." The Doctor began pacing around the room, rubbing the back of his neck. "This is completely new to you. Of course you don't know how to use your abilities. Too much, too fast. You've a lot of work to do to learn things that you should have mastered thirty years ago."

David sighed in exasperation. "I know you're not telling me everything, Doctor. I can tell when you're prevaricating."

Halting, the Doctor spun to face David. "I can't really say. The tests I've run seem to indicate that the psychic center of your brain isn't fully operational. You've got the ability but no control. If you had a normal level of power for a Time Lord, I'd say you'd be able to learn to use it with practise. But you have far more power than your brain can handle, so the more you try to use it, the more it gets out of hand, and the more it hurts you. You could probably severely damage your own brain if you tried to use too much of your power, though it's also possible that your energy will be able to heal the damage, given enough time. I don’t know which one would win." He shrugged. "It seems a pretty stiff price to pay, though, and a gamble I wouldn't be comfortable taking."

Frowning, David pinched the bridge of his nose. "That's horrifying. And I hurt you in the process, too."

"I don't think that was a direct effect. I think you panicked and lashed out. No harm done." Grabbing a tool from the desk next to him, the Doctor held it out in his palm. “David, can you move this? I’d like to see if you’re telekinetic as well.”

Frowning, David glanced at the Doctor, then, at the device, holding up his hand to catch it. It shot out of the Doctor's hand and smacked David hard in the chest with a firm loud thump. "Ow! That's not what I was trying to do!" He grabbed the device from his lap and rubbed his fist over the bruise.

Jenny giggled. "Lesson one: don't start with trying to bring something to you."

The Doctor jammed his hands in his pockets. "So, telekinetic, check."

"Let me try again." David held up the device and concentrated again. This time, it floated up to his eye level, jerking a bit as he adjusted his attention on it. Glancing at Jenny, he licked his lips, and this time the tool drifted across the room and laid itself gently in her palm. "Much better, but it's not easy to do it well."

"Brilliant! You'll get better with practice. What about more weight? How much can you lift?" The Doctor spun around, looking for a good test subject, when his feet left the ground and he hung suspended a quarter of a metre off the floor. He twisted his head around to look at David. "Well, that answers that question. How does it feel?"

"Easy, but like I'm itching to do more, to just let go. I have to keep a tight rein on it."

"How about this?" Jenny leapt up at the Doctor and threw her arms around him, clinging tightly. At her impact, the Doctor and Jenny bounced as David adjusted for her vector, then the two hung in the air.

"The sudden weight was a bit of a surprise, but it wasn't hard to compensate."

Licking his lips, the Doctor nodded. "Okay. Let's try a different tack. Applied force. Can you let us down?" They immediately dropped, landing lightly. The Doctor rummaged in a drawer, pulling out what looked like a metal tongue depressor. He placed it on the counter. "Can you bend that?"

The object bent into a "V" shape, then one of the legs creased. "Wait, wait, let me try..." David concentrated one more time, and a section curved into a smooth arc. "Better. Bending it isn't hard, but shaping it like I want is not easy."

"We're not working on art here." The Doctor crossed the room and pulled down a wall-mounted jointed swinging lamp. Its arm was constructed of steel pipe. "How about this?" Creaking under the stress, the section in his hand bent to forty-five degrees.

"That took some effort." His eyes wide and haunted, David hugged himself as he stared at the deformed lamp.

"One more thing I'd like to try. Be right back." The Doctor dashed out of the room.

"Are you okay?" Jenny sat on the bed next to David, her hand on his knee.

"No, I'm not. This is terrifying." He shivered, his eyes still on the lamp. "How can I do that?"

"Why is it terrifying? Why can't it be wonderful?" She took his hand and gazed up at him with bright, adoring eyes. "Think of all the amazing things you could do with this. It doesn't have to be bad."

"Oh, Jenny." He bowed his head. "I've never wanted any of this. Only a year ago, I was just a man, just a human. And then I discovered I was never really that, and since then, I've changed so much that I don't even recognise myself anymore. And now look at me! I'm a monster."

"You're not a monster!" Jenny immediately rejoined, staring at him in surprise.

He couldn’t face her. "Yes, I am. I can bend steel by just thinking about it, and I forced my way into the Doctor's mind. Do you know how dangerous that makes me?"

"You're only dangerous if you use your power in that way. But I know you. You'd never intentionally harm anyone."

"No, I wouldn't, but that's not the problem. I can't control it. I'm so afraid that if I try to use it, any of it, I'll lose control and hurt someone. It doesn't matter at all what my intentions are." He put his arm around her and drew her to his chest, stroking her hair as she leaned against his shoulder. "It's almost a blessing that this power hurts me, because it'll stop me from trying to use it."

"You still have to learn to use it correctly, Big Brother. It's like any other skill. And I know you can do it."

"I don't want to." He drew in a deep breath. "I don't want to ever use this because I... I don't know if I can handle it. Already, I'm wondering what you're thinking, if you're scared of me, scared that I'd hurt you, because that would break my hearts, and it's occurred to me that I could find out, right now. I could peer into your thoughts with barely an effort. I think to myself, 'I'd never do anything so reprehensible', but will I still think that in a year?"

Jenny wasn't swayed. Pulling back, she crossed her arms and stared at him like he was being particularly thick. "Of course, you will. You're good at that, all that stuff that you and Dad are always trying to teach me. You're just like him, you know. You always know what's right."

David stuttered a hollow, empty laugh. "Oh, Jenny. You are so wrong. I'm nothing like the Doctor. He's the image of confidence, whilst I do nothing but doubt myself. But what's far worse is that he doesn't always know what's right, but he thinks he does. And that's how one starts on the slippery path into darkness. I can already feel myself sliding."

"I think you're wrong. You’re not actually sliding. I think you're just scared of sliding. You're always worried about doing what's right. That's just you. And as long as you’re watching yourself, you’ll keep on the right track." Shaking her head, she peered at him with a pitying expression.

"Perhaps."

Jenny nestled back into his shoulder, and they sat for a while, lost in their own thoughts, David slowly rocking her in his arms. The Doctor burst in and sprinted up to the bed. "Sorry, sorry. I couldn't remember where I left this. Then I remembered that the recording studio needed a doorstop." He held up a bar of dense metal, about two inches in diameter. "Lolivmarian ultrasteel. Solid and very hard. Not the highest tensile strength by a long shot, but hard enough to give you a challenge, I think." He placed it on the foot of the bed. "Try to bend it or deform it, but be cautious. Start with a low amount of force and increase it as you need, but stop if it hurts or you feel you're losing control at all." He stepped around the bed and positioned himself behind David.

As Jenny hopped up and stood to the side, David nodded. Sniffing once, he eyed the metal with cool detachment. The rod lifted into the air a few centimeters and spun, as if David were inspecting the object. Once it stilled, David focused. His expression morphed as he applied power, from neutral to concentration, to a directed frown under eyes that began to glow with golden energy, and finally to a pained grimace with brightly shining eyes. He clapped his hands to his head and the rod thudded down on the bed, still straight but its surface warped. Clenching his eyes shut, he grimaced for a number of seconds, his breathing shallow, then opened his eyes and relaxed, puffing out a breath.

"Are you okay?" The Doctor squeezed his shoulder in concern.

"Yes," he panted. "I would've been able to bend that with a bit more force - it wasn't too difficult - but oh, god, it hurt. I couldn’t take much more.”

The Doctor pressed his lips together in a thin line of disapproval. “You weren’t supposed to do so much that it hurt. I don’t know what this could do to you.”

“I needed to try.”

Patting David's shoulder, the Doctor circled around and picked up the rod to inspect it. "You did manage to warp it a bit. Impressive." He tapped his lips with a finger. "If my calculations are correct, you could lift at least a car, though that will definitely hurt at least a fair amount. I wonder what your limit is."

David's reply was quiet and timid. "I think... I don't know, but I think it's many, many times that. I feel like I've only used a tiny fraction of what I've got."

The Doctor nodded. "You're probably right. You've so much in you, and no other outlet. Ironic, it is: you’ve got the regeneration energy and can’t use it, and Jenny can use it, but doesn’t have any." He gazed sadly at his beloved daughter, then, coughing, he shook off his momentary melancholy and tugged at an ear as he studied David's face. "We'll set up regular training, and that's a priority. Every day a bit of practice."

"No!" David choked out. "You can't be serious. I don't want this. I don't want to use it, ever."

"You don't have to. But you need to know how, and gain some control over it." Walking over to the counter, he picked up the first device that David had tried to lift, the one that he had hit himself in the chest with, and held it up for David to see. "Otherwise, you'll be a danger to yourself and everyone around you."

Pursing his lips, David nodded, rather reluctantly. "All right. You're right." He hopped off the bed and took the device from the Doctor to inspect it, idly running a finger down its handle. “You know. I sometimes feel like the universe is just punching me in the stomach at every turn. Every time I think I’ve come to terms with who I’ve become, a new horrible thing happens. When is it going to stop, Doctor?"

Dropping the bar on the counter, the Doctor leaned back against it and regarded David with deep pity. "I doubt it will. Never stopped for me. You could give such things less opportunity by shutting yourself in a dark corner of the universe and living the most banal life you can imagine, but would that satisfy you? You'd be trading the chance to write your own brilliant, unique story for safety and predictability. I don't think you'd choose that. This life we lead, by its very nature, buffets us around and tears out our hearts, but it rewards us with so much. We experience the marvels of the universe, and we do some good and effect some change, in our small ways. Who else gets that chance? Can't speak for you, of course, but for all the torments I've endured at the hand of fate, I still wouldn't trade this life for a safe bed."

David ran a hand through his hair and sighed. "I suppose you're right about that, too. I wouldn't have chosen this life, back when I was human, but now, with everything I've been given, even though it's nothing I ever wanted, now I want to do something useful, something good with it. There's always a price to pay, isn't there? I suppose this is my price."

"For now. Someday that will change, and there'll be some new thing that will slice your soul in half." The Doctor grinned, his eyes twinkling. "How's that for comfort?"

"You've a lousy bedside manner, Doctor."

"That's one thing I've never been known for."

"Come on." David hopped on the bed next to Jenny and bounced like an eager student. "Teach me - teach us - how to use our abilities. And then take us out for ice cream, ‘Dad’." The Doctor shot David an exasperated glare.

"Oh, yes," Jenny chimed in, "to both."

"All right." He pushed off the counter and, crossing his arms, regarded both of his students with a critical eye. "But this'll be a longer lesson than I'd intended. I want to get you both started out right."

David nodded, rubbing his hands together. "Excellent. But after ice cream, I need your help up in the library. Please tell me what I'm doing wrong in chapter five of Temporal Mechanics, Grade 3. It's driving me batty."

"Is that the calculation of spatio-temporal variances in higher-order dimensions?"

"That's the one."

The Doctor shrugged as he spun to turn off the lamps along the medbay workbench. "Oh, that one's all wrong."

"What?"

He explained as he continued to shut down the facility. "Sevratimonlan's work is rubbish after grade two. He teaches the basics like no one else, but he's got no grasp on the advanced concepts. You'll want to pick up Omitendram's papers on the subject instead."

"But you said to work through all the books up through grade five!"

"I did. It's a great lesson in not trusting everything you read. When I took the class, we spent the entire term on it, and after the final exam, the professor told us how much of it was wrong, how much we'd have to unlearn.” Spinning back to face them, the Doctor grinned widely. “Oh, you should have seen Ushas - the Rani! Hopping mad, she was. Stormed out of the room. Probably because she didn't catch all the inaccuracies, and she should have."

"So you knew it was all a waste of time?"

"Oh no,” the Doctor breathed, rolling his eyes in self-mockery. “Barely understood a word of it. How could I tell it was wrong? None of us knew. We found out later that it was a standard test of understanding. Only the most brilliant temporal theoreticians could tell that something was wrong with Sevratimonlan's framework and would not be able to produce the results he did." The Doctor winked at David as his implication sunk in.

"What, me?" One eyebrow shot up in incredulity.

The Doctor wagged a finger at David as he spun around the room, picking up instruments and stowing them away in cabinets. "I've told you before. Your grasp of temporal mechanics is stellar. You could probably resurrect much of Time Lord temporal science yourself, if you wanted to devote your time to it."

David laughed and shook his head. "No, I don't believe you. Me, a temporal engineer? That's beyond insane."

Jamming his hands in his pockets, the Doctor turned back to him and rocked on his toes as he spoke. "No, the person you don't believe in is yourself. How many times did you try to work through the problem? I'm guessing that your first instinct when you couldn't solve it was to question yourself and not the proposed solution in the book, despite your reservations about the validity of its theory and data." When David bit his lip, the Doctor gave a sly grin. "I'm right, aren't I? You've got to assess your own strengths objectively and believe in yourself."

David shook his head. "That's unbelievable. I've never excelled at science. It must be something like my human side contributing something special, like Donna's did, right?"

"Whatever caused it is irrelevant. It's you who's brilliant.” The Doctor’s faith in David shone in his proud grin. “See? Becoming who you are brings good things as well as bad."

Considering carefully, David nodded. "I suppose I just see the bad things. There is a lot of good," he admitted. "Like both of you." Grinning at the both of them, he threw an arm around Jenny and hugged her to him.

Leaning into him, she laid her head on his shoulder. "I love you, too, Big Brother." Then she pulled back and punched him in the arm. "But I want ice cream. So stop delaying and let's do our lesson."

David saluted with his free hand. "Yes, ma'am! Okay, Doctor. Lead on."

"All right. We're going to start with learning the structure of another's mind. All species are different, but once you know how one works, you'll be able to adapt to another's quite quickly. You'll be working with mine, so that it'll be easier for me to direct you through the link. So, no poking around anywhere I don't want you to go. Got it?" He pointed a stern finger at each of them in turn.

"Got it, Dad."

"Right. Don't wander off." David winked at the Doctor.

"Rule number one. Good." Smiling, the Doctor positioned himself in front of Jenny. "Okay. Let's start."

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Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
dm12
Jun. 25th, 2015 03:17 am (UTC)
"Don't wander off." *snort* Gives that expression a whole new meaning, no strolling around in the Doctor's mind!

Fascinating theory on why David would have such a depth of psychic powers. All that regeneration energy, and nowhere to put it. It does seem ironic that he can't give some of it to Jenny...

David is right to be afraid of those powers and, I think, as long as he is, he will be very careful about it, using it minimally just to move small things around.

As for temporal mechanics... wow! Three whole levels based on fallacy, and David couldn't figure out where it went wrong, but he did know something wasn't right. He has all of the makings of an excellent temporal engineer, and a scientist in general. Never trust something just because it's written in a textbook; I've experienced that and called them out on it, too! Did the problems first in my head, then on paper to make sure... I was right!

That medallion he wears outside the TARDIS, then... I can see why he needs it. He's a very powerful telepath, doesn't even require touch. Just, wow!

Well done! You've made it seem plausible, as well as highly unusual. I think the Master was excellent at hypnotizing his victims, as I recall... so there is canon precedent.



Edited at 2015-06-25 12:33 pm (UTC)
shivver13
Jun. 25th, 2015 05:17 pm (UTC)
I've been having a little fun with David making references to things that he wouldn't know except that he knows them from the TV show. It's a treat for the readers and also reminds them that David isn't from this universe.

I really want to work with Jenny more. I have a very specific image of her character in this AU in my mind and I haven't had the chance to really display it. It's also my headcanon that she can't regenerate. I think most people think that she regenerated in her episode, but I believe that the Source resurrected her (after all, the energy is green and she didn't change form), and since she didn't have anything to give her regeneration energy, she doesn't have it. David's body, on the other hand, was created by the Rani's duplication machine, which she designed for her experiments in regeneration, so that machine would have been able to either transfer the regeneration energy or imbue the target with it. (Sorry, I just love talking the technical details of the DW universe. :)

Thanks so much for your comments about David and his telepathy. I really am afraid that he's a bit too extreme for the DW universe, but I've reined him in, and of course, there's more story to come.

Technically, the medallion is there to keep the Doctor from sensing him, but it does serve the secondary function of keeping him in check. He always has to wear it, but I think if the first reason ever went away, he'd continue to wear it, because he's so afraid of what he might become if let himself use his powers. I've already characterized him as being very unsure of himself, especially after all of these changes he's had to deal with, but this is also one of the few things about the character that I've based on the real DT, from one of his quote: "I'm a good person, I hope. But I'm never as good as I want to be, never as nice as I want to be, never as generous as I want to be." I envision him as trying his best to be a good person, so the character of David is very worried about losing that.

Oh yes, the Master was a very powerful telepath, by Time Lord standards. And an incredible genius. He's a great antagonist for the Doctor (a rather below-average Time Lord), because he pits cunning and power against compassion and cleverness.

I've been there, too - spotted something in a textbook that was incorrect. And elsewhere, too - usually in advertising and politics. :D

(Thanks for letting me ramble.)
dm12
Jun. 25th, 2015 06:38 pm (UTC)
I agree about Jenny; it was the Source that enabled her to regain life...

I think you made it plausible that he could have such powers, and that he would be extremely reluctant to use them. Your connecting him to his actor self, with the comments he has made in interviews, makes it that much more realistic that he would not want to use them, that he would seek a way to limit his psychic/telepathic powers, for fear he'd be overwhelmed and over tempted to use them. He's unsure of himself, but also seems to have a very strong moral compass.

My son is that way with history books, he constantly engages his history professors with inaccuracies in their textbooks. Most really appreciate him for not just believing everything he reads... With me, it was pharmacy calculations.
flowsoffire
Jun. 27th, 2015 06:57 pm (UTC)
Ah, so this is where it starts, with David’s abilities! This was a pretty interesting piece. First, it was very nice seeing the dynamics between David, Jenny and the Doctor, they had a real team and some very close connections going there, seeing the complicity between them all was very nice. The training was also pretty interesting to see, beyond the occasion it gave to see Jenny and David interact and work together. I like the way you showed that David’s distraction allowed Jenny to beat him that much more easily, and that each of the two had their own different strengths—David was trying and learning, but he still wasn’t ever really a match for Jenny, whereas he was stellar in temporal mechanics and she was neither good nor very interested in it at all, just like Gallifreyan was hard for her and seemed fascinating and coming quite naturally for him.

It was interesting to see the Doctor explain psychicness to Jenny, who’d never realized this was a special ability of theirs, and her confusion at first—plus the automatic sadness for people who didn’t have this, though David could explain to her that they couldn’t miss what they’d never had and couldn’t even quite understand. Her reactions felt spot-on. The Doctor’s explications about the layers of the mind, and how it all works, were also very interesting. (Although he criticized the parallel he used as a bit simplistic, though efficient ;) It just can’t really be that simple, but it helps picture things.) And then there were the actual attempts at practise, with Jenny struggling, though she did quite well in the end… And David feeling very apprehensive about the alienness of it all and having to come to terms with this new ability, but not expecting at all what was about to happen to him—that he would just blast right through the Doctor’s defenses, and go completely out of control. I also like the sense of urgency in the Doctor, gently dismissing Jenny’s concern for him and knowing they had to figure out right away what was going on with David.

flowsoffire
Jun. 27th, 2015 06:58 pm (UTC)
And David was also very worried about it all, quite understandably—the anxiety about the whole experience and what it meant came through very clearly, and his need to just get some answers, although the Doctor was a bit slow to deliver for his tastes. Regarding the abilities themselves and what we discussed before, I think they do make sense, and they clearly are a trial for David, and a thing he really doesn’t want to explore, yet as the Doctor stated, of course he had to control it, at least to some extent, even if he didn’t want to use it any further than that. I felt that all the tests they made with the various objects went a bit quick-paced, but this also conveys, in a way, how overwhelming it all feels for David, the way they just throw try after try and his abilities respond right away or go even beyond what he’s trying to do. Even as the effort required grew and he was getting better control, he seemed… faraway, detached, and the lack of emotional response also probably influenced the pace, like he was responding and focused on the instructions, but numb. As you said yourself with the haunted eyes, the way he hugged himself. It was very welcome to have the scene in which he opened up to Jenny after that, probably a better way to get insight on his feelings than an actual introspection, when it must have been such a whirlwind in his mind. And that discussion really highlighted something that had already faintly showed in Davidʼs reaction: that he really saw this ability as something entirely negative, not only dangerous, not only overwhelming, but wrong and something to feel bad about, almost blame himself for—calling himself a monster, indeed. It really felt abnormal to him, and heʼd adjusted, if with difficulty, to other immense changes in his life and identity but this evidently really struck him hard. The insight was very nice, with Jennyʼs gentle but fierce support and her insisting that he was always so intent on doing what was right, he couldnʼt just lose touch with the way he kept himself in check. Again, the closeness and fondness between them, the easy touching and cuddling, were very nice to see. And the Doctor provided a different brand of support—whereas Jenny was all emotional response, affection and support, he also had understanding and the ability to relate with what David was going through, and he could offer his own experience and point out the silver lining, how special and precious this life is even when it hurts, how itʼs all worth it somehow. And David understood that, despite his desperation, he could still see it. Heʼs got his own experience, and his special bond with the Doctor and his history too, so he of all people would see… No matter how difficult it may be.

And the ending with the book being wrong was also pretty good—I rather love that kind of test, both of actual abilities and of keeping a critical mind. And of course, it highlighted that David would always question himself first and believe he was the one being wrong. Yet he had it right—and he was brilliant, no matter how hard he found that to believe. That was a rather heart-lifting ending, and I like the reference to Donna and the obvious pride as the Doctor told David how great he was :)

A few typos I thought I spotted:
"on opposites ends of the gym": opposite?
"that he been stunned for a moment": had been
"you should have had mastered": have mastered?
shivver13
Jul. 12th, 2015 08:39 pm (UTC)
I like to respond to all comments on my fic, so I feel really bad about not getting back on this one in a timely manner. You already write so much that it takes some time to digest, and it always amazes me how much more you see than what I consciously intended. It amuses me sometimes when you say, "Oh, this part clearly shows X" and I go, "Um, yes, I suppose that's exactly what I meant way down deep but certainly didn't think about it at the time." :)

There were obviously two things I wanted to do with this piece. The first was of course revealing the extent of David's psychic abilities and how he dealt with the discovery. The second was to more firmly establish each of the characters' personalities and their roles and strengths, and I'm glad to hear that that was successful. I picture in my mind that as the last three Time Lords, they can't help but cling to each other, but because the Doctor serves as leader and teacher, as well as hero to David and Dad to Jenny, there is some amount of divide between him and the other two, especially early on. David and Jenny become close because they are both brother and sister, more or less, as well as fellow students, and that's what I really wanted to portray. They will share secrets that the Doctor will never know. I also envision Jenny as very young in personality, with childlike innocence, so she definitely looks to Big Brother for guidance and he can't do anything wrong in her eyes. In the timeline that I have in my head for these three (which will probably never get written down - it's more of a "this is how life went" thing than any concrete stories), David becomes much closer to the Doctor, which I hinted at in later stories. (I will also admit that I wanted to establish that brother/sister dynamic between David and Jenny because I wanted to draw a very firm dividing line between their relationship and DT's real life relationship with GM. The concept of taking a real person and writing a fictional story about his life still weirds me out a little, even though this David is pretty far removed from DT, and so I needed to paint this picture of David and Jenny clearly to say, "Look, I am not going there." :)

I thought it was very interesting that you felt that the whirlwind of tests that the Doctor threw at David went a bit too fast, but underscored his lack of emotional response to what was happening. The actual reason the tests went so fast is that it just feels like the way this Doctor would do such research. Others would have been more methodical - Three and Seven come to mind - but Ten jumps on any idea that comes to mind. And it's a bit of a contrast with David, who earlier mentioned that he worked repeatedly on the problem in the book to figure it out. David isn't ADD like his Doctor, and does later decide to become a scientist. However, I like that the pace worked to emphasize just how lost David felt at that moment - thank you for that!


Edited at 2015-07-23 06:57 am (UTC)
flowsoffire
Aug. 1st, 2015 11:56 am (UTC)
No worries! I'm clearly going to be behind on replying/everything, myself. ;) I do feel bad that I won't be able to leave the miles-long comments anymore, because I know people liked them a lot. ;) But I guess I should shut up the guilty feelings! I know people weren't taking it for granted, anyway…

So, yes, I'm glad my insights were interesting to me and possibly revealing about some of the things you conveyed without quite realizing what you were doing ;D That's always a fun feeling!

That's a lovely dynamic between the Doctor, David and Jenny. Full of potential and heartfelt emotion. :)
shyfoxling
Jul. 20th, 2015 04:49 am (UTC)
I dunno whether the characterization of David being afraid of these powers is good, bad, or what, but I find it hard to sympathize with him. I dunno, I guess I just wouldn't feel the same way? The idea of being able to hear other people in my head - I don't mean read their thoughts without permission, but just having that "mind touch", hearing their existence and hum of mental energy - sounds really cool and even soothing to me. I'm probably not quite your stock human in that regard, heh.
shivver13
Jul. 20th, 2015 03:29 pm (UTC)
I just want to say before I start that I *really* appreciate your comments about everything! Not only are they fun to read and I appreciate you taking the time to write down your thoughts, but a lot of it is food for thought for me. I get to see what I wrote in a completely different way a lot of the time, which is just eye-opening.

That said, you've written so much it's going to take me a while to reply to them. :D Especially since I need to walk out the door to work in a few minutes.

I certainly understand why you can't sympathize with David's attitude - I'm not sure I'd want that mind touch, but I don't think it's as bad as he did in this piece. I think, though, that he doesn't see that part of it as really bad. When he was first reminded that he had such powers, the first thing he thought of was his mind-rape at the hands of the Polthites, back in The Actor, and since he, like the Doctor, is very compassionate, he doesn't want to be like that. If he'd had the chance to get over the initial shock, he wouldn't have had a problem with it and would enjoy it (and he does later). His real issue, though, is that he hates the enormous and uncontrollable power he has. If he hadn't discovered that, I think he'd have taken everything in stride (eventually).
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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