He turns to face her. Thaneeya, her name is. The pair of them have traveled this long road for almost a week now. Blasting desert heat, impossible creatures to face, and his TARDIS on the other side of the planet. She took pity on him, called him a fish on dry land and gave him some of her water. She never bothered to ask his name until now, just called him fish.
I am, he replies. Just 'the Doctor'.
No. I know about the Doctor. Everyone knows about the Doctor and you're not him.
His feet ache from the long walk, and he hops a little on the burning road as she has, apparently, decided to stop walking for the moment. Perhaps in disbelief. He wants to keep moving, get to the TARDIS before he loses another layer of skin to the blasted sun.
And what makes you think I'm not the Doctor? He asks, irritably. He'll later say that the heat made him crotchety, but he's really always like this.
You're not tall enough, she replies.
I said you're not tall enough. Her taloned hands go to her hips and she glares those impossibly blue eyes at him. The Doctor is eighteen feet tall, she explains. Breathes fire.
She shakes her head firmly. When pack-mothers would tell their cubs to be good else the monster would get them, that monster was the Doctor. All Desert-Born have heard of him, Fish. And you, well, you are not him.
He shakes his head and wobbles a bit on the balls of his feet.
He captured the Scarion Moon Base in five words without ever firing a shot, she continues. Seduced the Ice Queen of Sherestria and brought her empire to its knees. Defeated the Daleks with a bit of twine and a bag of jink. He destroyed the mighty Gallifrey just to watch it burn.
Now, she was quite nice but I wouldn't say I seduced her. He smirks at Thaneeya, but she looks less than impressed. Though that capture of the base without weaponry, that was fairly impressive, wasn't it?
I'm not some sort of bogeyman from your childhood stories, Thaneeya. I'm real. Just…blown up a bit through storytelling. You know how that is.
She looks like she might hit him. He's seen her hit larger things, like Sand Worms and Terror Beetles. He doesn't really want to be hit by her at all. He doesn't step back as his instinct tells him to, however. He stands firmly because that is what the Doctor does. Stands firm against all odds.
It's impossible, she repeats. Impossible! The Doctor doesn't exist! Stop trying to trick me!
I'm not trying to trick you---
Then tell me who you are!
I could leave you out here, she threatens. Could leave you out here in the sun and the sand and you don't have enough regenerations to make it back to your TARDIS.
The Doctor straightens. The threat is a frightening one. He's been leaning on her heavily since he arrived at this place. He doesn't know where he is and he's not as adept to desert conditions as he might be to a city or a quarry.
I'm not going to lie to you, Thaneeya, he says. I am the Doctor.
Even if I just leave you here?
Can't change what's true with a threat.
She blinks once, then twice. Something very like realization spreads across her face. It's mixed with awe and terror. She believes him, and he can tell. He's all the terrible things she's heard of and that terrifies her, but he's also all the terrible things she's heard of and that fascinates her, too. He hopes she sticks with fascinated and doesn't leave him behind.
Her head slowly moves to a nod. Right. So, we're going to have to move another eighteen miles before we can rest again. You're the Oncoming Storm, you can do it, right?
Don't have much choice, do I?
I'm not always going to be there, Fish. Then, it'll be one little Time Lord against impossible odds.
He looks out to the sand and the road.
I like impossible odds.
Muse: The Doctor (Ten)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count: 716