Prompt: a Six/Charley story, for jedi_penguin at classicdw_fic
Word count: about 1350
Author's notes: This story has references to events in The Chimes of Midnight, The Condemned, and The Doomwood Curse. Nothing big enough to be spoilery, but it helps if you've heard those audios. Also, it's set soon after Doomwood.
Summary: The Sixth Doctor is tired of Charley's lies.
Once more, Miss Charlotte Pollard had displayed anachronistic knowledge of a concept about which she ought to know nothing. Dishonesty was her most prominent character trait and the Doctor had got tired of dealing with it very quickly, whether it occurred whilst aboard the TARDIS or in the middle of a London shop at Christmastime in the year 2010.
He stared at her, unblinking, as she guiltily dropped the DVD remote control she had just been wielding like an expert. "I thought you had amnesia, and were from approximately the 1930s, which I believe is well before DVD players came into existence?" he jibed.
"I do! I am!" she returned. "I just sometimes know how to do odd things. I can't explain why." Her eyes sidled away from his.
"And that is all you have to say on the subject," he stated rather than asked.
"That's all there is to say," she insisted.
He nodded shortly. "As you will."
Neither of them said another word as they exited the shop and wound their way through the festive streets back to the TARDIS. Inside, Charley went her own way, and the Doctor found himself wandering into the kitchen.
Charley was a terrible liar, he thought. In fact, over time her lies were growing worse rather than improving. The girl wasn't stupid. She had to know he knew she was lying, yet she refused to tell him the truth about herself. It galled him almost beyond belief. How to make her confess? That he, with his brain that could easily concentrate on millions of thoughts at once, could not come up with a workable method was almost more frustrating than he could say.
He idly glanced around the kitchen, when from nowhere he could identify, a thought struck him. He wanted to make plum pudding. He couldn't say particularly why plum pudding, of all possibilities, but there it was: Nothing would do but that he make it. Even the fact that he had never before attempted such a dish did not dissuade him in the slightest. He had eaten plum pudding, he had enjoyed plum pudding, and he had no problem recalling the exact taste of his favourite version, from which memories he extrapolated a list of ingredients and specific quantities of said ingredients, combined with the most efficacious cooking method. For a Time Lord of his intellect, the cooking experiment should be quite easy.
So it proved to be. Whilst he was preparing the pudding, he ran his mind through millions of options, all of them varying ways to deal with Charlotte Pollard. He very quickly discarded most potential ideas, saving a few hundred for more detailed examination. He then winnowed those hundreds down to a mere handful. Of that group with sterling potential, he would put one into play today and see if it paid dividends.
Much later that day, the Doctor decided he was satisfied with his work. He had come up with a brilliant plan regarding Charley, and he had created a most excellent plum pudding. Of course, he had expected no less. It was time to find Charley.
He soon found her in her room, lying on the bed reading a book. The Doctor winced when he read the title. The Grey Spectre was simplistic pap, almost as bad as that awful Rookwood that one of his earlier, much more foolish incarnations had picked up. He should have known the dreadful thing would hold vast appeal for Charley.
From the doorway, the Doctor concealed his disgust and cleared his throat. Charley looked up, nearly dropped her book, and sat up straight. "Yes?" she said stiffly.
"Charlotte," the Doctor greeted her properly. "I have a surprise. I cooked something special." He waited until she placed the book aside and rose with obvious reluctance.
"Really, you cooked." She trailed him towards the kitchen, beginning to display more curiosity as they moved along.
"Indeed." The Doctor stopped at the kitchen door, held it open for Charley to precede him, and then entered behind her. He had to step around her, as she had stopped dead in the middle of the floor, staring at the table.
"Plum pudding," he announced. When she didn't respond, he elaborated, "Plum pudding is one of your quaint Earth traditions during Christmas, I believe?"
"I don't really like plum pudding," she blurted.
The Doctor experienced a pang, but shrugged it off. "More for me, then." He reached towards her plate.
"No!" Charley darted forward and grabbed the dish.
The Doctor arched a supercilious eyebrow. "If you don't want it, why are you clutching the plate so?"
She gave him that look she sometimes did, the one that made him think she was searching for something in him that did not exist, or that he didn't know existed. Whatever she wanted to find, she evidently did not. She looked away, sat down at the table, and picked up her fork. "I didn't say I wouldn't eat it. As long as it has no threepenny bits?" As if at some private joke, her lips started to curve upward before stopping abruptly.
"Not a bit to be found." The Doctor watched through narrowed eyes as Charley stabbed into the pudding and took her first bite. Then he went to his own chair, took up his fork, and dug into his plate.
For someone who professed not to care for plum pudding, Charley ate her share at speed. When she had finished the Doctor proffered another helping, but she shook her head. "Some people make rather too much of this," she said pointedly.
The Doctor glanced at her empty plate but said nothing. At this point, it wouldn't do to set Charley's back up. He abandoned his own unfinished serving and followed her as she left the room. She looked back at him. It might have been a trick of the light, but he thought he saw a glimmer of moisture in her eyes.
It didn't matter. Within seconds, they had reached the spot he had known they would reach if she followed the route he had anticipated much earlier. "Charley," he said softly, deliberately using the diminutive.
As expected, she stopped and faced him. There it was again: her expression of doubt tinged with hope, which inevitably would fade into disappointment. Disappointment in him. The Doctor realised that he hated that look. That knowledge made what he was to do next a much easier proposition.
He took the one necessary step forward, grasped Charley within his arms, and lowered his lips to hers. She didn't pull away, as one might reasonably expect from a girl of her age who had been pounced upon by a man who was still very nearly a stranger. Rather, she relaxed within his hold and responded to his kiss. It felt almost as if in some ways she knew him, yet in other ways his embrace was new to her. Her reaction, like so many other things about her, was wrong.
The Doctor found himself moving away first. That, he had not anticipated.
Charley stared at him. "Doctor? What was that about?"
He nodded upward, at the sprig of mistletoe dangling above their heads. "Well, it is Christmas, you know."
"It was all some... some sick joke to you?" she choked out.
This time he was sure he saw moisture in her eyes, and he had the feeling he had broken something fragile but he didn't know precisely how. And rather than breaking it further, he wanted to put it together again.
"No, Charley, it wasn't a joke. It was merely an unfortunate miscalculation." He tentatively held out his arms. And after all that he had done to her, both deliberately and unwittingly, she moved into his touch rather than away from it. Her heart was beating with hummingbird velocity, and he--who had just used her own humanity against her in a manner that was foreign to him--was able to soothe it.
He still didn't know why she was lying to him, and suddenly it no longer mattered nearly as much to him that he might never know.
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