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Lost Girl | 1. Find Her

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Prologue

"Time.

It's an invisible element and yet it set the rhythm of our life. Since the beginning, our time is running, the countdown starts and we don't know when the machine is going to stop. Time shapes us, it allows us to learn, to heal...

Time is our eternal companion, yet we spend most of our life trying to run away from it, to slow it, to stop it. How many of us have hoped to stop time? Wishing to go back?

We think it's cruel because we only have a limited time, it goes fast when we're enjoying ourselves and goes slow when we're bored. Just like you, I thought of stopping time. Why should I continue to live when each minute of it is long, hard and insurmountable? Just like you, time was my enemy.

That was until I met him. This mysterious man who knew everything about the time. He appeared, an interesting man in my boring life, and he answered all my question. Time, space, life elsewhere. He enlightened me and since that day, everything has gone upside down.

I couldn't imagine how everything was about to change...

As I thought that my life was stern and boring, I discovered that it was in fact based on lies.

Since I met him, I don't stop running after my past to rebuild my future. All of that while trying to survive to each present day.

I'm Jessica Maxwell and this is my story."


 

Chapter Text

London. England's capital. It's here that begins Jessica Maxwell's long journey. Walking out of her house, adjusting her trench coat one last time, Jessica melts in the busy sidewalk to go to her workplace. Aged of 28, the young woman already has an impressing career ahead of her, making some other jealous. Indeed, she has an IQ above the average, which permitted her to have the best job as a laboratory engineer. However, Jessica isn't a genius, not exactly. Like everyone else, she has to learn, to search, to get things wrong before reaching her objectives.

This morning, just like every morning, she walks towards her laboratory on foot. Jessica likes to listen to the noise of traffic and to feel the wind in her hair. Walking is calming her and permit her to have a moment of tranquillity. But as she doesn't live far from her work, the walk is short. Not like the ride in the elevator which seems to be endless each time she takes it. Finally arriving at the last story, Jessica crosses the corridors silently to reach her office.

If Jessica isn't a genius, she isn't the greatest with social relationships. In fact, the young woman doesn't know the quarter of the people she was working with, despite the fact that she was working here for six years now. The reason is that she is anxious. And it's not the simple stress you feel during an exam but real anxiety which holds onto you and prevents you to breathe properly when you have to talk to someone or which prevents you to go to the cinema because you feel like the crowd is going to swallow you alive. Because of this anxiety, Jessica is stuck between agoraphobia and claustrophobia.

There is only one person on this floor which the young woman manages to communicate. Mary Stamford is an excellent colleague and certainly what looks the most like a friend to Jessica. She learned to accept her strange behavior and knew how to motivate and reassure her when necessary. Jessica can be herself when she's with Mary. She isn't the shy and reserved girl but this young woman funny and passionate that she really is on the inside.

A few minutes later after sitting behind her desk to check her mails, Jessica walks on the labs next to her office, and find her colleague.

"Hey, hi you." Mary greets in a good mood, wearing a white coat and glasses of protection on her nose.

"Hello, already working I see," Jessica answers, slipping on her own white coat.

"Well, someone has to because you're determined to be late." She argues playfully before returning to her work.

"Oh, you're not fair. I'm only 20 minutes late, I call that progress."

Mary snorts for the only answer. Jessica smiles in turn and walks to the computer to check one more time on her data and calculations. It's only three hours later that Mary sits next to her, a cup of coffee in her hand.

"So, what's new in the strange world of Jessica Maxwell?"

"Oh, you know, nothing interesting," Jessica replies, her eyes scanning her computer screen.

"Hm. I know that voice. It's the voice you use when your uncertain or stressed, which is the voice you use almost always use, in fact." Her colleague points out, taking a sip of her coffee. "Spill it out."

Jessica looks at her from the corner of her eyes before sighing and turning towards her a moment.

"I'm giving a concerto of piano this afternoon, in the park."

"That's great! Are you anxious?"

"Do I really need to answer this question?" Jessica asks, an eyebrow raised.

"No, you're right," Mary admits. "But it's not your first time and you're the most talented pianist I've ever known."

"The only one you've ever known, you mean."

"You know what I meant." She mumbles trying to act annoyed but she couldn't get rid of her smile. "You don't have any reason to be worried, you're going to leave them speechless, as each time."

"Thanks, Mary."

Jessica smiles at her friend, but couldn't prevent her stomach to do an uncomfortable flip. She isn't at her first concert since Jessica seems to be a talented musician no matter if it's behind her keyboard or with a violin at her neck. And even though she'll never give up on her passion, she couldn't help the anxiety she feels when she's in front of the public.

Morning carries on with small talks between two molecular manipulations until lunch break. Jessica hasn't seen what time it was, too focused on her work and if Mary hadn't asked her at what time she needed to be at the park, she would certainly still be working. She threw her lab coat and switched it with her trench coat before running to the elevator.

To give this concert was huge stress but to be late was even worse. Once out of the building, she goes towards the shortest way to go towards the park and walks fast. Even though It wasn't her first concert, this one is special to her for it is the first time she's going to play her own composition.

And while Jessica knows every single note by heart, she feels the urgent need to read one more time the music sheets. Not slowing down her pace, she leans on her bag that was bouncing on her hip to take out her partitions. Her stress is rising, she can feel it, even more, when her sheets stays stuck in the slot of her bag. Jessica grumbles under her breath which was shorter and quicker. Thus, head down towards her bag and her mind focused on her capricious partitions and her quick pace, Jessica doesn't notice the person walking in her direction. They collide in each other rather hard, enough to make her take a step back in surprise and her sheets flying around them, slowly setting on the ground. Her panic is real when she sees her work landing on the dirty ground of the path leading to the park, so she throws herself on her knees to catch the flying paper before someone walk on it.

"I-I'm sorry. I wasn't looking where I was going." Jessica remembers to say, even if her attention was elsewhere.

Surprising her, she sees knees going to the ground in front of her. She looks up and meets the man she bumped with. He is helping her gathering her sheets with a small smile. Jessica stays frozen in the spot a moment, too surprised to move. Surprised because she hasn't expected him to help her, with a smile no less.

"No, don't worry about it, it's my fault." He says, reassuring her.

Trying to go past her surprise, Jessica quickly gathers the last of her partitions, but couldn't help throwing a glance his way now and then. When there isn't any sheet on the ground left, they both stand up slowly. Jessica couldn't look away from his eyes. She doesn't know why she couldn't look away, she usually is more the kind of girl to avoid eyes contact, but this man is inspiring her a feeling of trust and security. He doesn't look special though, with his short brown hair, his big forehead, and his goofy smile. He's just wearing a simple sweater and a worn black leather jacket. The only special thing about with is his eyes, which are a light reassuring blue, but which seems to have seen too many things.

He does a movement and it brings her back to the matter at hand. She looks down and notices that he's extending the sheets towards her, she takes them with a feeling of relief she couldn't quite explain before looking back at the man in front of her.

"Thank you." She says with a weak voice.

Jessica then notices that he's observing her, just like she's been observing him, looking at her from head to toes before getting lost in her eyes. Embarrassed and flattered at the same time, Jessica looks down, tucking a wisp of hair behind her ear, a nervous habit she learned with years. The man in front of her clears his throat as if he was stepping out of his reverie.

"Don't mention it." He answers with a smile. "So... you're a musician?" He asks after a short moment of silence, his smile as wide as before.

"Hm?" She says, confused until she looks at the music sheets in her hands. "Oh, yes!" Yes, I am. I'm a pianist."

"Fantastic." He beams, which make her blush.

"Uh, I'm sorry but I must go. I've got this concerto in the park and I'm going to be late." She remembers. "Sorry again for the... bumping into each other." She adds, walking backward towards her destination, noticing for the first time the woman standing next to him.

"Well, good luck then." He smiles in a good mood, watching her go.

Jessica nods her head, not really knowing what more to say and turns around, almost running to be there on time.

She makes a huge effort not to look back one last time at the stranger. She feels her cheeks reddening of shame when she thinks back to the way she had checked him out. She doesn't why she's been hypnotized by him that way, but she couldn't erase her smile when she noticed it was the first time she's been able to have a conversation with a stranger without panicking. No matter how short was this conversation. She felt at ease with him, unlike the fear she always feels when she's with a stranger.

Is this progress or just the effect this man had on her? She doesn't know but she was now in a good mood and is more relaxed about her concerto.

The man is still in the same spot Jessica left him. He had watched walking away until she was out of sight and even then, he didn't look away. He seems to be lost in his thoughts until a voice brings him back to reality.

"Doctor?" The young woman next to him asks.

"Hm? Yes, Rose?" He mumbles, fighting to turn toward her.

"So, uh, why are we here?"

"I thought that walking and some fresh air would be nice after what happened with Jackie." He admits.

"Oh... You know, she just needs some time."

Rose couldn't help but grimace at this memory. She hadn't thought a single moment that when she left with the Doctor, her mother would notice her absence. He had a time machine, after all. But once back in London, she hadn't expected to see missing posters with her face on it. She was gone only for a few days, nothing more. But for her mother, it's been a whole year since she left home without any warning...

She felt guilty.

"So, what now?" She asks.

But when she doesn't receive any answer, she turns to the Doctor. He's watching the direction the young stranger left in. He seems pensive.

The Doctor couldn't erase the image of her eyes from his mind. He couldn't explain what he felt when their eyes met. She was special, he could feel it. Nothing special in the romantic kind of way. It was this aura around her, a familiar feeling yet he couldn't put his finger on it. Both his hearts went wild in his chest as if he was running a marathon, and his instinct told him that something important was linked to this woman.

And who was he to deny his instinct?

He turns towards Rose, her question resonating like an echo in his head when he suddenly has an idea.

"What about a concerto of piano?" He proposes with a light smile.

Without waiting on her answer, he turns around and walked down the same path Jessica went. Rose stayed stunned a moment, just the time to assimilate his words before frowning. She wasn't born yesterday and knew that it has something to do with the young pianist they just met. And if she learned something in the few days she was with the Doctor, it was that he didn't do anything without a motive and that, no matter where he was, troubles weren't far behind. She decides to catch up with him but to stay silent about her suspicion.

She doesn't know what the Doctor sees in the young woman, but the way they looked at each other makes her think that things were going to be interesting.


 

 

Chapter Text

She's almost here. Just a few steps and she'll be able to see the temporary stage, build only for this event. Jessica stops a moment to catch her breath before going back down the path, still walking fast. She doesn't like to run, she isn't good at it and it's probably why she's always late. Bumping into this man didn't help her case, she thought. Thinking back of those blue eyes, Jessica feels perplexed. She's remembering it as a good memory, which isn't usually how it works. She thinks back at the feeling of serenity she felt when she was in front of him, a perfect stranger, and even though it isn't an unpleasant change, she couldn't help but be troubled.

Stepping out of her reverie, she notices that she's finally there. The stage isn't too large but the crowd is rather big. Jessica feels her state of serenity flying out of the window to be replaced by her usual panic. She looks at her watch which she's wearing under her right wrist and grimaces as she realizes that she's fifteen minutes late. She avoids people on her way and goes behind the stage.

Instantly, the organizer of the event jumps on her, looking frustrated.

"Where the hell have you been?" She exclaims and Jessica could easily see that she's trying to contain her anger. "Once in your life, can't you be on time?"

"I'm sor..."

"No, I don't want to hear it." She cuts her. "We don't have time for this anymore. You're on stage in five minutes. Be ready."

Then she walks away to talk with a technician. Five minutes? Jessica only has five minutes to catch her breath, try to calm her nerves and to untangle her wild hair. She takes her music sheets out of her bag, reading it all over again and couldn't help but think about the man who helped her gathering them a few minutes earlier. Will she ever see him again?

"Hello everyone and welcome!" The organizer's voice makes her jump out of her thoughts.

The show is about to begin and she's still not feeling ready in the slightest. She bends on the curtain to get a look at the public.

"Thank you for coming. Since many years already, we're organizing a concert with some of our best musicians. This year once more..."

Jessica doesn't here the rest of this sentence because her attention is attracted elsewhere. The hair at the back of her neck stands up and she feels the unsettling sensation that she's being watched. Turning back, she sees that there's no one here. Yet, the feeling remains.

Strange...She thinks.

A movement in the corner of her eyes catch her attention but when she looks down, there was only her shadow.

Great, now I'm being paranoiac...

Suddenly, the crowd is applauding so Jessica goes towards the stage and sees that the presentations are over. The technician shows her a count down from five with his fingers and five seconds later, it's her turn to go on stage.

Taking a deep breath, she walks quickly towards her black piano which was shining under the sunlight in the middle of the stage while trying to avoid looking at the crowd before sitting down on her stool.

Her hands are trembling when she's putting her partitions on the piano, making them fall many times on the ebony and ivory keyboard. While her heart's trying to jump out of her chest, she hears murmurs coming from the public. Despite herself, she throws a glance in this direction and her breath get stuck in her throat when she notices the man from earlier and his friend trying to get through the rows of chairs.

Her heart misses a beat before calming down again. And a tiny smile grows on her lips without her even noticing it.

The Doctor had to walk fast to get here on time. Rose had a hard time trying to keep up with his long legs, resulting in him having to take her hand to tug her behind him.

When they finally arrived, Rose didn't have time to catch her breath, the Doctor was already leading her towards the last few free chairs. The public was applauding as the young musician got on stage.

"Sorry, pardon, excuse us, sorry..." The Doctor is now murmuring as he's trying to get his way through the row of chairs

"Sorry" Rose adds shyly

The Doctor doesn't have any manners, Rose decides. Some people are groaning of annoyance as they pass before them, others rudely ask them to shut up.

"Shh." An old lay hisses when the Doctor excuses himself one more time.

"Shh yourself." He retorts, not noticing the utter look of indignation on the lady's face nor the embarrass on Rose's.

Finally arriving at their sit, the Doctor lets himself down on his with a huff, an idiotic smile on his face. Rose looks at him with amusement yet some confusion. But before she can ask anything, their attention is drawn by the stage, where Jessica is beginning to play the first note of her song. When the sweet melody reaches his ears, the Doctor lets his mind wandering.

What was so special about her? He thinks.

Jessica's fingers are moving with suppleness and swiftness that it seems like they aren't even touching the keyboard. Her body's movement when she's leaning on the key makes some curls of hair falling down her face, but she doesn't seem to mind. It's when the Doctor realizes that she has her eyes closed. She knows each note by heart, she doesn't need to look what she's doing, the music is part of her and he can't help but stare in awe in front of such passion.

Rose isn't the Classical Music type, so she's been excepted to be bored during all this long concerto. But when she heard the first notes of this sweet melody, she changed her mind. It's nothing to do with Mozart or Beethoven, it's modern music. The melody was catchy and Rose already knows that she'll have it stuck in her mind for days.

Midway in her song, Jessica has now forgotten about the public or the place she is. The only thing that matter is the melody coming to life under her fingers. But she's brought back to reality when she hears murmurs in the crowd. She tries to ignore them but murmurs turn to gasps and she has no other choice to look at them, not stopping playing once. Everyone is watching at her with fright and confusion. By reflex, her eyes stop on the chairs that was occupying the strange man and his friend, only to find them empty. Before she can feel any deception, she shivers and her hands stop playing. It's the same feeling she had when she was behind the stage. The feeling of being watched.

She feels a knot in her stomach as fear overcomes her. Slowly, she turns around on her stool and dares look behind her. She can't help the gasps of fear and surprise escaping her mouth when she sees the creature which is standing there.

It's her shadow. Except that it's not on the ground like any other shadow should be, but it's standing in front of her, like a real living being. Jessica doesn't believe her eyes and yet, she knows she can't deny what she's seeing. Just to be sure that if wasn't a sick joke or a strange optical effect, she looks down, where the shadow of her piano was but not hers.

Jessica slowly gets on her feet, even if her legs are feeling like jelly, and looks at her shadow which was staying still. She can't explain what's happening, it's some sort of grey transparent shape silhouette and she doesn't know how it could be standing in the air instead of being projected on any object. But then again, she doesn't know how it could be standing at all, not following her movements.

Suddenly, the creature moves, making Jessica jumps, taking her away from her theories. The scientist in her couldn't help but be intrigued by this thing despite her fear. The shadow bends its head on the side and Jessica feels like she's being gauged. Then it opens its mouth, which is three times bigger than a normal human mouth.

Hysteria and panic is at its peak in the public but Jessica barely notices them running away, shouting. The moment the shadow had opened its mouth, she felt like her energy, her strength was drained out of her. Her shaking legs are about to give up but she wants to fight, she has to if she wants to survive whatever is happening to her. Jessica wants to move, run away but can't. Her bloods beats in her temples while her heart hammers in her chest. Her vision is getting blurry and she knows that she won't be fighting for very long. The creature is going to kill her.

Her sacked breathing gets stuck in her throat a moment and Jessica hears a high pitch noise. While her sight is blurry, she still can see the blue light behind her shadow when it suddenly cries out in pain and dissipates and finally goes back on the ground where it belongs.

Immediately after the creature is out of harming way, Jessica feels her legs giving up on her and she ungracefully fell on her stool. She blinks a few time and when her sight is back to normal, she raises her head to see what had saved her.

Her astonishment is visible on her face as she notices the man from earlier standing in front of her. It's him, it's the man she met in the parc earlier, it seems like ages ago already.

Before she can form any coherent thoughts, the man extends his hand to her. Usually, she would have hesitated, but she feels the same thing as before. She feels like she can trust him. So without waiting any longer, she takes his hand and let him drag her away from the stage.

Jessica runs beside him, her hand still in his and can't help but observe him some more. She's wondering why she keep meeting him, but quickly decides that it doesn't matter. Everyone had run away, but this man has been here to save her.

They stop running when they reach some trees, quickly caught up by the man's friend.

Once again, before Jessica can catch her breath or asks any question, the man put his hands firmly on each of her shoulders and looks in her eyes with a serious face.

"Are you alright? Are you hurt?" He asks

"Y-yeah, I'm fine." She stammers, whether it's because of her shocking experience or because of the intensity of his look, she doesn't know.

He nods before turning towards his friend.

"Rose, stay with her. I'll be back in a few." He says before going back to the stage.

"Doctor!" Rose calls, but he's already gone.

Jessica watches him going away, still shocked about the whole situation. Suddenly, he legs shake all over again and she needs to bend on the trunk of a tree to keep up. Fear slowly fades away and her heart calms down to a regular rhythm.

But she's still having a hard time to wrap her mind about what had just happened. And even if she's a little scared, she can't help but think that things are going to get interesting.

 

Chapter Text

Back on the stage, the Doctor took out his sonic screwdriver to scan the place. When he looked at the results, he couldn't help but frown. It looked a lot like a crack in time and space... What did that mean? Where this shadow was coming from? The Doctor looked at the now empty stage and his eyes caught the music sheets still on the piano, moving with the small wind. He looked at them and thought about the first time he met the girl when he helped her gathering them from the ground. The first time they met, he had the feeling she was special, and now, she was attacked by strange shadow... Coincidence? He didn't think so...

Looking around one more time to be sure he hadn't missed something important, he took the sheets and went back to the girls.

When he arrived under the trees, he saw the young woman talking with Rose. She seemed a little pale and shocked but didn't seem affrayed anymore. He walked to her and extended her sheets for her to take. When her eyes landed on them, they widen and a gasp of surprise escaped her lips.

"Oh my God, thank you so much!" She exclaimed, taking them.

She seemed so happy to have them back, confirming to the Doctor that it must have been important. He offered her a small satisfied smile.

"Are you alright?" He asked once more, looking seriously at her.

"I... I think so." She said after a moment. "I know I should be freaking out right now, especially me, but... I think I'm okay. Just a bit shook I guess."

The Doctor nodded and took out his sonic screwdriver once more to scan her. Jessica bent back a bit, her eyes squirming under the bright blue light, confused.

"Um, what are you doing?" She asked.

"Scanning you." He answered simply.

"Ok..." But the light was getting annoying so she gently put his hand and device down. "I know it's gonna sound ridiculous, but I just want to be sure that I'm not going crazy. Did I just run away from my own shadow?"

"It looks like it." He agreed.

"Ok..."

"Are you going to be alright?" Rose asked her, concern on her face.

"I don't know. It's strange, how can you guys not freak out? Hell, why I am not freaking out?"

"Well, we're kind of use to things like that."

"I'm not sure it's supposed to be reassuring me." She mumbled shyly. "Anyway, thank you for saving me back there." She said honestly, looking in the Doctor's eyes.

"No problem." He smiled gently down at her.

She looked up at him and got lost in his eyes once more. They seemed so old and tired, like someone who had seen too many things, too many wars... She was curious about this man.

"Who are you, people?" She finally asked. "Why does it look like you both know what's happening here?"

"I'm the Doctor, this is Rose Tyler. And it's because we deal with this kind of things quite often. Now, what's your name?"

"Uh, Jessica Maxwell. Did you say you were the Doctor? Doctor who?" She asked confused, she had a hard time following up.

"Just the Doctor."

"Just the Doctor?" She repeated with a small giggle, blushing right after. "Ok then, Doctor."

The Doctor smiled, she seemed the timid type and her blush was kind of adorable. Rose raised an eyebrow, a tiny smile on her lips before she broke the small silence between them.

"What was that thing, Doctor?" She asked.

"The readings I got from my sonic told me it was an elementary shadow."

"An elementa-what?" Jessica stumbled.

"What's that?" Rose nodded, confused too.

"They're creatures living million light-years away from this planet. They don't have a home planet, they invade other worlds, in quest of energy."

"What kind of energy?" Rose asked.

"Human. They hide until they get a prey, they blend with the real shadow of the host to be invisible. Either they feed on them or they take control of the host body, until the next victim."

"Wait, wait a minute." Jessica interrupted. "You're telling me that the thing back there was an alien?!"

"Yes. That's what I'm telling you. Try to follow, won't you?" He asked a little rudely.

"Ok..." She nodded, keeping her mouth shut, blinking a few time.

"Wait, you're just gonna believe him?"

"Well, what else can I do? I'm not going to deny what I saw or felt on stage. The thing was real and I highly doubt it was an optical effect. When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."

"Hm, Sherlock Holmes." The Doctor hummed in appreciation.

Rose just looked at her, stunned and confused.

"You're a rather strange woman."

"Well, I could say the same about you both." She snorted. "Would you rather have me having a panic attack, 'cause I can do that very well." She added, amused.

She didn't know why she didn't have one yet, it was strange.

"No. It's just unusual." Rose shrugged. "But not unappreciated. It's a gain of time actually."

"Thank I guess?"

"Would you mind to focus on the matter at hand, please?" The Doctor then stepped in, amused by their conversation but worried about the presence of the alien.

"Yes, you're right. So you're saying that this alien thing got a hold on my shadow and tried to eat my energy. Why?"

"No reason, you're just its lunch."

"Oh great." She grimaced.

"How do we get rid of it?" Rose then asked.

"Wait, you think it's still there? I saw you making it disappear!"

"I just forced it to go back on the ground, but it's still there."

Jessica paled a bit and frantically looked down. The Doctor immediately put his hands on her shoulders, stopping her rising panic.

"Don't worry, as long as you're under the shadow of this tree, you're safe."

"So what do we do now?" Rose asked again.

The Doctor thought deeply. What now, indeed... He looked at the young woman in front of her. She was quite petite, brown wavy hair falling down on her shoulders. She appeared to be in her mid-twenty. But as he observed her, he couldn't see what was so special about her. Jessica felt his look on her and couldn't help but feel her cheeks heating up as she looked away. Needing a distraction from his gaze, she decided to talk to Rose.

"So, you're used to this sort of thing, aren't you?"

"Since I met it doesn't stop." She smiled. "But it's the first time I met someone as calm as you about it."

"Oh, believe me, I'm not calm at all. I'm just really good at hiding my panic."

Rose offered her a sympathetic smile. They both observed the Doctor which was pacing in front of them, mumbling under his breath.

"Who is he?" Jessica asked after a moment.

"Someone special," Rose answered simply.

"Yeah, I get that, but who is he really? Where does he get all this knowledge from? I mean, he talks about aliens as if he was seeing them on a daily basis!"

And suddenly, Jessica froze. She just thought about something and she didn't know how she was dealing with it. If the Doctor knew so many things about other planets and life elsewhere, maybe it was because he was one of them.

"He's... not human, is he?" She asked, hesitantly, not really knowing if she wanted to know.

Rose didn't really know how to respond to that. Should she explain to her? It was complicated and it was the Doctor's life. Maybe he didn't want her to know. She began to stumble over her words, trying to think of something appropriate to answer but the Doctor quickly came back to them, saving her from what was probably an embarrassing moment.

But Jessica understood what her silence meant. She was right, and now, she was looking at the Doctor with surprise and awe.

"An elementary shadow doesn't take a shadow so easily. It needs time, it needs to observe the prey before acting." He explained, not noticing the look on Jessica's face. "It must have been spying on you for days, maybe even months. Where do you live?"

Jessica stepped out of her shocked state, taken aback by the question. "I beg your pardon?"

"Where do you live? The crack that leads it to you must be in your neighborhood, if not in your house."

"Um, I live not far from here actually, just twenty minutes on foot."

"Fantastic. Lead the way then!" He exclaimed happily.

"Well, it would be my pleasure but I can't."

The Doctor turned towards her, confused. "What? Why?"

"Because you said I couldn't be exposed to any light, and the sun's shining bright." She explained calmly, with a small smile as she saw the realization hitting the Doctor.

"Oh, yeah..." He said, sheepishly.

Rose couldn't help the amused smile she had on her lips. Their interaction was quite funny, to be honest. The rude Doctor and the shy Jessica. What a duo, she thought. Rose rather liked Jessica, she wasn't like the other. She wasn't freaking out like Mickey, or worried like her mother. She was something new.

The Doctor looked around a moment, trying to come up with a solution to their problem. Then he saw something on the bench nearby and he exclaimed in victory. He ran to it and quickly returned with an umbrella, extending it to Jessica. At first, she looked at it, confused before realization hit her and she smiled up at him. It was simple but clever.

"Oh you, clever man." She exclaimed with a laugh as she took the umbrella and opened it.

Rose on the other hand, still didn't get what was happening. "Uh... It's an umbrella." She stated, confused.

"Yes." The Doctor confirmed. But then Jessica, the umbrella put on her shoulder, step out of the shadow and into the light.

"But it can make a perfect sunshade." She explained with a relief. The Doctor smiled, Jessica was smart, she understood him rather quickly, just like Rose. He appreciated it, he didn't like to explain himself too much. He came to her and offered her his arm. Jessica hesitated a moment, a light shade of pink coloring her cheeks, before taking it anyway. It was of him, she thought.

They all started to walk towards the city, where Jessica lived. Some people were looking at her funny, and usually, she would be ashamed of their look. But as she was standing next to the Doctor, looking at his big smile, she realized that she couldn't care less. It was to save her life, and for the first time in a long time, she didn't care what others were thinking of her.

"You both look ridiculous." Rose giggled, catching up with them.

"Are you embarrassed, Rose Tyler?" The Doctor asked with an amused smile. "And you know what they say, ridicule never killed anyone."

"Oh, I know," Rose said smartly, smiling with her tongue between her teeth. "Either way, you would be dead a long time ago."

"Oi!" The Doctor exclaimed indignantly but when he heard Jessica laughed, he soon joined her, smiling like an idiot.

Jessica let her smile faded as she looked down at her feet. The shadow of the umbrella was big enough to protect her from her own shadow. But she was worried about what might happen to her. 

Chapter Text

Walking with a rather quick pace, the three of them were heading towards Jessica’s place. The Doctor’s arm was still linked with Jessica’s while Rose was standing next to her. The young woman was keeping a careful eye on her shadow, still not totally believing that she was safe. They walked in silence until they reached the city. Jessica couldn’t stay quiet for much longer, as questions were appearing in her heads.

“So, um… This shadow really is an alien from space?” She asked.

“Yeah, from a galaxy far far away from yours.” He answered without looking at her.

Jessica prevented herself to make a comment on how it sounded a lot like Star Wars and frowned when she played his sentence in her head once more.

“From mine. But not yours.” She stated, looking up at him. “You’re not from Earth either.” She didn’t know if it was a statement or a question.

 Finally, the Doctor looked down at her and he saw that there wasn’t any fear in her eyes, much to his relief. It would have been difficult to save her if she was afraid of him, and if he was kind of honest with him, he liked her company. When he looked at her, he just saw curiosity, she wasn’t judging him, just asking.

He offered her a small and careful smile. “No. I’m not.” He said, while she stayed silent. “Is that okay?”

“I guess it is.” She nodded thoughtful. It was strange to imagine that the man that was standing next to her wasn’t born on this Earth, that he wasn’t human. But she wasn’t afraid. “As long as you’re not growing a second head, I’m totally fine with that.” She added jokingly.

The Doctor chuckled at that. “I won’t, I promise.” He joked back.

“So, may I ask where you’re from?”

At that, the Doctor tensed and Rose grimaced. She knew it was a touchy subject for him, hell, she had to go in an argument with him to know that he was the last of his kind. She didn’t know how he would react to that question, and she was slightly worried that he was going to be rude, and that Jessica would be hurt. She seemed like the sensitive type.

“I come from a really far planet.” He only said.

Jessica looked at him. It was a vague answer, but as she looked in his eyes, she could see the sadness in them. Maybe he missed his home? Maybe he couldn’t go back there? Maybe he was stuck on earth? As theories flooded her mind, she decided that it must be a subject he wanted to avoid, so she asked another question.

“If you’re not human, why do you look like one?”

Grateful for the change of subject, he snorted at her question. “What did you expect? A little green man?”

“No.” She laughed with Rose. “I mean it’s so strange, I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around everything that is happening to me.”

“You’ll get used to it, don’t worry.” Rose said kindly, patting her shoulder.

They continued chatting, laughing from time to time, until Jessica stopped in front of small house. Her smile dropped a bit at the sight. It was her house, but she never felt at home. She was living here, alone, with no friend nor any family to keep her company. She always had the strange feeling that she would be better somewhere else than here, but she never left, as if something was preventing her to do so.

She sighed and tried to hide her grim face. “Here we are.”

Jessica unlocked the door, tossed the umbrella away before taking a step aside to let the Doctor and Rose in. Quickly after, she ran in her living room, trying to tidy up a bit. She wasn’t used to have visitors; music sheets were almost laying on every flat surface of her furniture. Cups of cold tea have been forgotten on the table and her shoes have been thrown in the room after a long day of work. She quickly tried to tidy while hiding her face in embarrassment.

“Uh, sorry for the mess. I don’t get visitor a lot.” She murmured shyly.

“Don’t worry.” Rose smiled kindly.

“I work all day long, and when I’m home, I spend my time composing, so…”

“We understand.” Rose said again, her smile growing at how embarrassed she was.

Once she was done tidying, she strengthened up and looked at them, standing in her living room, completely clueless.

“So…? What are we supposed to look after?” She asked.

“I’m not sure yet… Something like a crack in time and space… Can I take a look around?” The Doctor replied, looking around him.

“Sure, the house is yours. Do as you want.” She nodded.

She looked at him awkwardly, just like Rose. The Doctor was looking around, for something, and neither of them knew what to do to help. Feeling self-conscious, Jessica tried to find something to do. “Tea?” She finally asked.

“With pleasure.” Rose said, grateful for the distraction from the uncomfortable tension.

Jessica walked in her kitchen trying to remember where she had put her tea and put the kettle on the fire. She suddenly realized what she was doing and couldn’t help but laugh at loud. She was preparing tea like any other normal day when she knew she should be freaking out, she should be closing every window strand, every door to make sure she was safe. Instead of that, she was making tea. How crazy was that?

But it wasn’t the only crazy thing. She didn’t have a single panic attack since this whole thing began. No anxiety, no panic. Of course, she was scared about her safety but she was reaction like any other normal person. Jessica wondered once more if it was progress; her getting better at controlling her anxiety; or the effect the Doctor had on her…

And once again, she didn’t find the answer.

Meantime in the living room, Rose was looking at the Doctor while he was sonicing the whole room, searching for the source of the shadow. She was curious about what was happening, but she was mostly curious about why the Doctor decided to see Jessica just after their first meeting. It was as if they’ve been in a trance, looking into each other eyes. And then, minutes later, an alien was attacking the young woman. She wasn’t dumb, she knew it had something to do with what the Doctor saw in her. She approached him, trying to look innocent.

“So… What a way to take some fresh air.” She repeated his words from before, smiling.

“Yeah. I know.” He nodded. “But it’s not my fault this time.”

“Did you know it was going to happen? Is that why you decided to follow her? Because you knew something was off with her shadow?”

The Doctor stopped sonicing the wall and sighed. Slowly, he turned towards Rose, debating on if he should tell her the truth or not.

“No. It’s not that.”

“So why then?”

“No reason at all. I just wanted to hear some piano.” He lied, shrugging.

But Rose was smarter than that. She narrowed her eyes at him, suspicious. “Come on, don’t lie to me. The first time you met, you looked at her as if she had hypnotized you. You saw something in her. What was it?”

The Doctor smiled. Rose was smart for a human. Smarter than the others and she was quick to know how he was acting. He couldn’t lie to her so he sighed and decided to tell the truth.

“I don’t really know. It’s just… There’s something… special about her. But I can’t put my finger on what it is.”

Rose frowned a moment, confused, before a grin slowly slid on her lips.

“Oh.” She said, grinning madly.

The Doctor looked at her, confused, before he caught up on her hint. He immediately shook his head. “No. I didn’t mean it like that. No.” He said firmly, but she could see the top of his ears reddening.

Rose laughed at his embarrassment. Maybe it wasn’t what he meant but his reaction was clearly a sign that he wasn’t indifferent about her beauty.

“So, you won’t ask her to come with us?”

“Where?” He asked, clearing his throat to chase his embarrassment.

“In the TARDIS, obviously.” She rolled her eyes playfully.

“Why would I do that? I already have you.”

“Well, she’s kind, smart and seems to deal pretty well with alien stuff. She seems alone, I can tell just by looking at her house. Plus, we both like her. It would be fun to have her around, don’t you think?”

“I guess you’re right. But I’m not sure about her coming with us.” He admitted.

It’s not that the idea was bad, it was good actually, but, he still wasn’t sure about the feelings he got from her. This sensation that she was special but at the same time, he was feeling uneasy, like he was missing something big just in front of his eyes.

“I’ll think about it.” He promised her.

Just at this moment, Jessica came back in the room with two cup of tea in her hands. She gave one to Rose which smiled kindly at her and drank in the second while watching the Doctor.

“So, any luck?” She asked, hopeful.

“Not yet.”

Jessica looked down in her cup, looking at how the tea was swirling around when she thought of something.

“The crack you mentioned before. Does it look like an actual crack?”

“It depends; it can take many forms.”

“But it could be an actual crack?”

“Yeah, of course. Why do you ask?”

“Well… I’ve got something to show you.”

Jessica put her cup of tea on the nearest table and walked out of the room. The Doctor shared a glance with Rose, which shrugged before following the brunette. They walked in the corridor, passing in front of the kitchen, and a couple of room. While walking, the Doctor couldn’t help but notice things.

Jessica seemed to be living here alone, but like any other person, she must have had friends and family. But he noticed that there was not a single photography. No frame of her family, parents or friends. Nothings. More than the lack of photography, the Doctor noticed that her house was bare of any knickknack. It was just furniture and the strict minimum for living. Her house lacked some personality, in fact, it was as if her house was coming from a decoration magazine.

Why is she so alone?The Doctor thought.

He couldn’t think more about it because they stopped in some sort of library, in which was a big bay glass, leading to the garden.

Jessica was careful not to step into the sunlight when she walked over the door glass and opened it. She turned towards the two travellers and pointed to something on the patio’s ground.

“There. Do you think it could be the crack you’re looking for?”

The Doctor stepped outside and put a knee down to observe the crack that was crossing the ground on about 6 inches.

“Why do you think it’s the one?” Rose asked Jessica while looking curiously at the crack.

“Well, at first I didn’t pay much attention to it, but I remember that it appeared suddenly, not gradually. I mean, one day there was nothing and the next day it was there.”

Rose nodded and the Doctor soniced the crack, frowning.

“Same readings than with the shadow…” He muttered. “Did you ever noticed something…”

“Strange?” She cut him. “Yes. I felt uneasy when I was near it. And it would always catch my eyes, as if I was drawn to it.”

The Time Lord nodded, deep in thoughts. But Jessica shifted on her feet and he looked back at her.

“Something else?”

“Well, right after this crack appeared, I start seeing thing moving in the corner of my eyes. And I always felt like I was being watched. But when I turned around, there was only my shadow standing there.” She sighed. “Since the beginning, the signs are there, I should have known…” She beat herself down.

The Doctor raised an eyebrow, but before he could reassure her, Rose beat him to it. She gently placed her hand on Jessica’s shoulder.

“Known that an alien shadow monster was following you everywhere, trying to eat you at the first occasion?” She asked smiling kindly. “No one would have known. Don’t beat yourself for something you couldn’t control. It’s not your fault.”

“Thank you.” Jessica smiled. Rose was right, she knew it, but it was nice hearing it.

Smiling at their interaction, the Doctor stood up and walked back in. “This crack is what brought the elementary shadow here. It’s a crack in time and space.”

“So can you send it back?” Jessica asked.

“In theory… no.”

“And in practice?”

“Neither.” He admitted.

“So what are we supposed to do now?” Rose asked, lost.

“The crack is inactive now, it must have shut down after the shadow went through it. Reopening it is too risky. I must find another way, but what’s bothering me is that I still don’t know it the shadow came here alone.”

“What, you mean that other shadow could be out there?” Jessica asked, slightly panicked. “What about people? They’re in danger.”

“Exactly. That is why I must find a way to fix this, and quickly.”

Jessica passed a hand through her hair, she was worried. She was thinking that it wouldn’t be easy to help her if the Doctor didn’t know how to expel it from her own shadow. Looking around, she thought hard to try and find a solution. That’s when something caught her eyes. She frowned and approached the window as close as she could without stepping in the sunlight.

People were in her garden. They were coming from everywhere, walking towards her house. Her breathe got caught in her throat. Their eyes were empty, as if life had left them, and they were walking like zombies in horror movies.

“Uh… Doctor?” She tried to call after him, still looking at the people approaching.

Quickly, Rose and the Doctor looked at the strangers coming near them. They didn’t need any explanations; they saw the same things as Jessica. The Doctor quickly closed the door leading to the garden and used his sonic screwdriver on it to secure it.

“Who are they?” Rose asked.

“This man is my neighbour. And this is Miss Jenkins. She like to walk her dog in my street.” Jessica said, sounding far away.

“They’ve been possessed by elementary shadows.” The Doctor said.

“How can you know?” Rose asked.

“Look. They don’t have shadow, where did it go if it’s not on the ground?”

Jessica stepped away from the window, slightly in shock. “This is what was supposed to happen to me.” She murmured. “Why are they here? In my garden! What do they want?!”

“They want you. You were supposed to be possessed too. But because of me, they had to try something else.”

Jessica looked at each face, each person standing there, few feet away from her. They were people that she knew, people that she talked to. She didn’t even know if they were still alive and it was her fault. The shadow was coming from her garden; it was because of her that the others shadows got to these people.

Rose asked the Doctor what they were going to do now, so Jessica looked at him and just like that she knew. He didn’t have the slightest idea. He was out of plan.

They were stuck because they didn’t know what the shadows wanted and how to send them back to their world. And just by thinking that, she had an idea. A dangerous one, but it was the only one she had.

If it meant there was a chance to save these people, or to at least, stop the shadows from doing more victims, she was willing to take the risk.

She was going to put an end to it.