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Those By Her Side

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“I think you came here with a plan, but you didn’t expect to fall in love. But that’s what happens. Use it, Charlie, learn from it. Please,” pleased the Doctor.

Charlie didn’t waver. His expression was twisted and dark, as if nothing the Doctor could say would change his opinion. He wrapped his fingers around the device sub-consciously, and it made the Doctor’s eyes wander to it. She gulped.

“No,” exclaimed Charlie, “no. If that is the price, to change how everyone on Kandoka sees technology then it is worth it. For the good of the cause.”

“This isn’t a cause,” said the Doctor darkly, “you’re not an activist. This is cold blooded murder.”

“I can’t let the systems take control!” shouted Charlie.

“The systems aren’t the problem, how people use and exploit the system, that’s the problem. People like you,” said the Doctor.

There was a long, painful pause as both the Doctor and Charlie caught their breath. Charlie had lowered the device, but the cold, calculating expression hadn’t faltered. He was just as dangerous as he had been before the Doctor’s speech. The others cowered away from him, but the Doctor never lost her stance.

“I don’t care what you think,” said Charlie, through gritted teeth, “The delivery goes ahead.”

He stormed off towards the railing, grip tightening on the device. He inhaled sharply, throwing his hands up, before pressing his palm against the device. It chimed and lit up green. Every one of the robot army beneath them spoke, lighting up their glowing eyes as the device was activated. The light of their collective eyes was so bright it made Yasmin, who had been facing them, wince. Their violent blue eyes would cause her nightmares for weeks, she imagined.

The Doctor jumped back, a shocked expression on her face as she watched the robots themselves activate. Her arms were outstretched protectively, but the robots didn’t come for the group. They just kept a hold of the packages in their arms.

“Someone, grab that controller!” shouted the Doctor.

As she spoke, Charlie raised the device above his head before hesitating for just a moment. Then, he threw it to the ground with a grunt. It hit the concrete floor with a thud that made the Doctor wince. Then, Charlie stomped on it with his foot, shattering it into pieces.

Yasmin’s eyes drifted onto Charlie, who was too distracted to notice her. The Doctor gave her a warning look, but she paid her no attention. Her focus was on her training and not on the Doctor’s concern. She was angry enough that Charlie had killed the girl he supposedly loved, and the bloke who had been so kind to her, but now he was hell-bent on killing so many more. She wouldn’t stand by.

The Doctor shouted in a panic as she watched the device being destroyed, running over to the now trampled device. She reached down for it, but she knew it was unsalvageable. She took her sonic screwdriver from her pocket as if she’d be able to repair it, but the device didn’t do anything.

“What have you done!” shouted Ryan, gesturing in a panic. Graham grimaced beside him.

“You can’t stop me now!” said Charlie.

Yasmin didn’t even know she was running until she was. Charlie was unpredictable, a danger, and unreasonable, and her time at the police academy taught her that a criminal like him had to be caught. She lunged for him and he shouted in protest. The Doctor’s head snapped up when she heard the noise of the struggle, her eyes flashing with more worry.

Yasmin’s arms had wrapped around Charlie’s neck in a hold she had been taught long ago, mostly to defend herself. Charlie was arguably much stronger than she was, so she kneeled down to steady herself when he struggled against her. She grunted when he tried to escape her hold, but she had been trained enough to resist his struggling.

“Make it stop! We’re not going to let you kill all those innocent people!” cried Yasmin.

Charlie ignored her, and just carried on struggling against her.

The robots raised their heads and spoke as a collective, “Destination coordinates locked. Preparing teleport.”

The Doctor looked away from Yasmin, focusing on the device at her feet. The sonic screwdriver shone its yellow light, but still nothing happened.

“Doc, I hope you’ve got an idea of how to fix that,” said Graham, his expression more serious than they had seen in a long time.

Ryan stood with his mouth hanging open, running his hand over his short hair in a stressed gesture.

Charlie tried to face the robots, but Yasmin tightened her grip. Charlie cursed and kicked out, the back of his foot catching her leg. She hissed out and readjusted so he couldn’t reach her.

“Not enough time to fix it,” mumbled the Doctor, taking the sonic away from the device.

“Wait, new idea,” she added, “Ugh, not enough time for that either. Maybe worth a go?”

“Maybe?” exclaimed Graham.

The Doctor’s eyes widened, “I mean definitely. Grab the postman’s head.”

“What?” asked Graham.

“Just like Judy did in the office, do it! Now!” said the Doctor.

Judy, Ryan and the Doctor sprinted towards the postman. Ryan held it down whilst Judy twisted its smiling, glowing head from its neck. Sparks flew and they all jumped back, Judy still holding the head.

“Does she know what she’s doing?” asked Slade.

“Some of the time, definitely,” said Yasmin, her voice strained.

Charlie took Yasmin’s momentary distraction, using it to his advantage. His hand had been on her arm, trying to loosen it. He noticed that it had loosened once she had spoken. He dug his fingernails into her arm, which made her wince slightly, and then tightened his grip on her arm. She looked confused for a moment, unsure of what he was planning, but then it came clear.

He violently threw Yasmin’s arm back, twisting it high above her head. She cried out in pain as her arm was stretched behind Charlie’s head, twisting into an awkward position. Then, he dragged both of them to their feet so he could forcefully kick her again, this time the hit landing on her stomach. It caused her to double over with an angry scream, the pain blossoming at an alarming rate.

The Doctor, along with Graham and Ryan, spun around in an even worse panic to see what was wrong. They turned around just in time to see Charlie pull on her arm, causing even more pain, and then throw her violently into the railings beside them.

She was lucky that she hadn’t fallen through, or over the railings and into the army of robots on the floor below. Instead, she grunted as her stomach and head came into contact with the metal railings before falling into a heap on the ground.

“Yasmin!” bellowed the Doctor, abandoning the postman head as she stumbled over to Yasmin, who looked unconscious.

“Is she okay?” asked Graham, after angrily shouting after Charlie.

“She hit that pretty hard,” added Ryan.

The Doctor rolled up Yasmin’s sleeve, revealing five sharp, deep cuts that were bleeding down her arm. They’d been caused by Charlie, digging in his nails to loosen her grip. There was heavy bruising too, and the Doctor was sure that wasn’t the only place.

She felt for Yasmin’s pulse, which was slow but steady, and felt a very slight relief.

“She’s okay. Judy, you two, look after her until I can,” instructed the Doctor.

“Of course, Doc,” said Graham, crouched beside her.

Judy brushed back Yasmin’s hair to keep it off her face, and Ryan sat cross-legged beside her as if he was keeping vigil. In truth, he was scared. Not of the robots, well slightly, but of the Doctor. Because she was extremely angry.

The Doctor left Yasmin’s side, darting away from the group. She came back with a robot in her arms, tongue poking out the side of her mouth as she laid plans.

“Twirly, I need your help,” said the Doctor, her voice shaky.

The circular robot they had used for information earlier glowed red and twisted around to face the Doctor. Normally, the Doctor would be as happy as a child to be talking to a friendly robot, but her expression was grave.

“Safe mode off. Hello again. Customers with your current medical symptoms browsed blood pressure medication and also Beta-blockers,” it said.

“This is important. I’ve linked you into the new system, to all the delivery bots and I have a request,” said the Doctor as she carried the robot over to the railings, not taking her eyes off Yasmin.

“How may we help?” said the postmen in unison below them.

“Change of delivery address. For every order about to teleport. New address, right here, this hanger, right where we’re standing. I want every Kerblam man to deliver to themselves,” said the Doctor.

“Delivery orders accepted,” spoke the postmen.

“I want every Kerblam man to open the order they’ve just delivered to themselves, making sure they do what everybody does with the bubble wrap,” added the Doctor.

“Orders confirmed,” said the postmen.

“What about Charlie?” asked Graham.

“He made his choice,” said the Doctor darkly, her eyes trained on Yasmin’s form below her.

“Delivery in process,” said the postmen, “delivery received.”

“You can’t leave him there, no matter what he’s done,” argued Graham, looking subtly to Yasmin.

The Doctor sighed, “Okay. Last chance Charlie. Come back here, or you’ll be blown up with them. We can take you somewhere safe.”

“Outgoing delivery. Activating bubble wrap,” chorused the postmen.

“No!” shouted Charlie, the blue eyes of the postmen reflecting in his own.

“Doc, get us out of here,” said Graham, his eyes wandering to the postmen, whose fingers were drastically close to the bubble wrap. He held the robot that they had gotten to help them in their arms after it had been handed to him by the Doctor.

“And remember. If you want it. Kerblam it,” came an echo from the postmen.

The Doctor took that as her final warning, teleporting herself and the others to safety. They felt a green light and heard the explosion that they had left behind, only seconds before. They reappeared in the room they had stolen the robot, and Graham’s diagram, from. She took a while to catch her breath, screwdriver still poised over the robot as she regathered her thoughts.

“If you want it, Kerblam it,” said the Doctor, rather breathlessly.

Graham and Ryan had appeared by her side, but Yasmin was still a heap on the ground. She hadn’t even stirred, despite the echo of an explosion in all of their ears.

“Kerblam is experiencing a momentary technical difficulty. Our expert engineers are already working to get the systems up and running again as quickly and as safely as possible. In the meantime, why not consider a personal mindful moment?” blasted over the tannoy.

“Right we need to get back to the TARDIS, will you two be okay?” asked the Doctor.

“We’ll be okay. We’re suspending all operations for a month, pending review. And while the TeamMates are rebuilding Dispatch,” said Slade

“All our workers have been given two weeks’ paid leave, free return shuttle transport. And I’m going to propose that Kerblam becomes a People-Led company in future. Majority organics. People, I mean,” finished Judy.

The Doctor nodded politely, glancing down at Yasmin, who twisted slightly in unconsciousness.

“Will she be alright?” asked Judy with a frown.

“Can we help you get her back to your vehicle?” offered Slade.

“Don’t worry, I’ve been practicing,” said the Doctor, scooping Yasmin up in her arms.

The unconscious girl’s arms hung limply by her side, but her head fell into the crook of the Doctor’s neck. They said goodbye hastily, as Yasmin was heavy, and then made their way back to where they’d parked the TARDIS.

When Yasmin woke up, she was on the floor of the TARDIS, still in her orange vest. She could feel a stinging pain on her arm, and dull ache all over her body. There was a cushion under her head, keeping her comfortable, though she was still in very uncomfortable amounts of pain.

“Doctor?” groaned Yasmin, pulling herself up on her elbows.

“Just us I’m afraid. How are you feeling?” asked Graham.

Graham and Ryan had been sitting on steps beside her, waiting for her to wake up. She wondered how long they'd been sat there for.

“Terrible,” Yasmin groaned, “Where’s the Doctor?”

Ryan scratched the back of his neck, “Uh, she’s been sulking for the past half hour, since we got back. I’d go and talk to her, if I were you.”

Yasmin sighed and stood up, with each boy on each arm supporting her. She doubled over quickly though, being caught by Graham. Tears formed in her eyes and she gasped.

“Are you okay?” asked Ryan, eyes wide.

“Think so. Pain in my stomach. I’ll be fine. Now, where’s the Doctor?” breathed Yasmin.

Ryan and Graham exchanged a look.

“She wandered off to her bedroom I think. Just follow the corridor, I’m sure the TARDIS will take you there,” said Graham.

Yasmin hesitated but pulled away from the boys, heading towards the corridor. In truth, every muscle screamed at her to stop, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that the Doctor was angry at her. And she couldn’t just stand by and let that happen.

The TARDIS took her down two rights and a left before she reached a TARDIS-blue door with golden edges and handle. She knocked twice, and thought she heard a mumbled invitation in.

The Doctor was perched on the end of her bed, which was an impressive four-poster, toying with the sonic in her hands. She was hunched over, eyes lowered, and almost definitely sulking. Yasmin took a seat next to her, grateful for the ease of pain.

“You’re awake then,” said the Doctor matter-of-factly.

“Yeah…missed you at the welcome back party,” said Yasmin, looking down into her lap.

“I…know,” said the Doctor.

Yasmin couldn’t hold back any more, so she said it, “Are you mad at me? ‘Cause it kinda feels like you are, and I can tell when you’re disappointed in me.”

The Doctor sighed, “I’m not mad, or disappointed. It’s just…you threw yourself into danger and nearly got killed! On my watch. Do you know how I’d feel if anything happened to you? If you had been thrown to the postmen like a package, or been killed by Charlie?”

The Doctor’s outburst shocked Yasmin.

“I get it…but I’ve been trained for situations like this. I know what I’m doing. You can’t stop me from trying to protect Ryan or Graham or…you,” said Yasmin.

“I know. Can you just…promise to be careful? Don’t get yourself killed for me, Yasmin Khan.”

Yasmin held out her pinkie finger by the Doctor’s face, “Promise.”

The Doctor glanced at it, and then shook it, which made Yasmin laugh. She wished she hadn’t though, as the movement caused a violent stabbing pain in her stomach, which made her gasp out loud.

“Right, what was that?” asked the Doctor, sternly.

Yasmin gestured sheepishly to her stomach.

“Let me see it,” said the Doctor, gesturing for Yasmin to take off her clothes.

Yasmin blushed furiously but did as she was told. She wriggled out of the vest and then her leather jacket. Her orange-hot pink jumper was a struggle to get out of, as reaching up caused her worse pain. The Doctor took it off for her, which only worsened the flush in her cheeks.

Just below her black bra was a bruise that stretched from the point under her bra to her belly-button. Some parts of it blushed pink and red, while others were already a frightening blue and purple. Yasmin looked down at it and winced.

The Doctor inhaled sharply, “How could I let this happen to you?”

Yasmin grabbed the Doctor’s hand, “This wasn’t your fault. Or mine. It was Charlie’s.”

“What a Dalek,” grumbled the Doctor, earning another pained laugh from Yasmin.

“We’ll go and get this sorted out, okay? I must have something for bruises,” said the Doctor.

Just before they stood up, Graham and Ryan came flying through the doorway. They stopped abruptly when they saw the scene in front of them. Graham looked awkward, but Ryan was grinning.

“Could’ve warned us guys,” said Graham.

“This isn’t what it looks like,” said Yasmin, gesturing between herself and a rather oblivious Doctor.

“Yeah, that’s what I said to my mum when I was fifteen,” laughed Ryan, running out of the room with his tongue sticking out.

Yasmin would’ve chased him, perhaps tackled him, if she wasn’t in pain. Also, if she didn’t enjoy the thought of spending time with the Doctor, where at least one of them was half-clothed. Bruising or not.