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Our Better Angels

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1.

When he eventually stops running, entirely exhausted, he has no idea where he is. Nothing looks familiar, and there's no sign of any living thing. He can't hear a sound but the pounding of his hearts and the rasping of his breath. This part of the Citadel looks ancient, even by the standards of Gallifreyan architecture, and the pillars all around them stretch up into a darkness that his eyes can't penetrate. It makes sense that nobody would come here, but suddenly he regrets running away from his family and his teachers quite so effectively.

There's nobody but him and his daemon, coiled so tightly around his arm that it hurts. She hasn't shifted since they saw ... the thing they saw. Thinking of it, he feels another surge of panic, and suppresses the desire to flee again.

"Change into a bird," he whispers to his daemon, reluctant to break the silence all around. "Perhaps if you fly high enough, you can see where we are."

She doesn't reply, just sticks her tongue out to taste the air, and it's only then that he realises. "Oh," the boy says. "Oh."

"Quite," she replies.

Apparently he wasn't the only one changed by what he saw in the Untempered Schism. She'll never have wings again, at least not in this lifetime.

He slumps down against the nearest pillar and really looks at her for the first time. She's a snake, but not just any old snake - her scales are deep bronze, patterned with diamonds, and her eyes are like amber jewels. He remembers, eventually, where he's seen something like her before. His daemon has settled as an Earth reptile.

"You're beautiful," he says, slightly awed. "Just ... perfect." The boy is astonished that his daemon could turn into anything so dignified. And an Earth creature into the bargain! Now he'd always have a piece of it with him. "Snakes are associated with wisdom on hundreds of worlds."

"And with evil on a thousand more," she replies.

"That's silly superstition," he replies.

"But the association with wisdom isn't?"

"No, it isn't. I'm not going to grow up to be a trouble-maker like everyone says. I'm going to be wise! Just wait until Koschei sees you."

The others will be so jealous that she's settled now, and perhaps it will distract everyone from mocking him for running.

"I think we should find our way back to the Academy before we get ahead of ourselves, don't you?" his daemon suggests.

The boy stands up, and gently guides her so she's wrapped around his shoulders. She settles there comfortably, as if she's been a snake since the day she popped into existence. Everything inside him that seemed to jangle loose when he stared into the rift settles into a new shape. It's good to know who he is, at last.

2.

"All right," the Doctor says. "Tyche, we're going to need a distraction."

Parrots aren't very good at rolling their eyes, but the tilt of the daemon's head makes her feelings clear. "You want me to distract the Cybermen. Oh, that's an excellent plan that couldn't possibly go wrong."

"Now, now, I'm sure you'll think of something." With that, the olive-green bird flutters her way through the narrow grating above the door. It was stupid of the Cybermen to leave them in a room that a daemon could so easily get out of. But then, they don't have daemons and might not think about such things. The thought makes Zoe feel queasy, despite her logical turn of mind. The metal men are obviously dead inside, despite the fact that they're still walking around.

Zoe can't help but find the way the Doctor and his daemon are able to separate slightly unnerving, too, although of course she would never show that openly. Jamie seems to take it all in his stride, after all. The Doctor says it isn't even uncomfortable. She can't imagine being apart from Oria for even a second, but then, she's not the Doctor.

"Are you sure it's a good idea to send her out there?" she says.

"Do no fash yerself," Jamie says, patting her shoulder. "The Doctor's daemon is smarter than he is." Jamie's collie daemon, Jena, laughs out loud at that.

"I've observed that this is not infrequently the case," the Doctor says, with a good-natured smile, looking at the collie. She laughs louder, but Jamie looks insulted.

They here Cyber gunfire in the hallway, and the Doctor grins and goes to look at the door. "There, what did I tell you? She'll keep them busy for ages."

"Long enough for us to get out of here?" Oria buzzes by her head. Nobody else can tell, but Zoe senses her desperation to be out of the room. It's not that she minds enclosed spaces, but she doesn't like being locked up. Both of them would like to be doing something useful.

"This might take a while," Jamie says in a stage whisper. "Tyche's better than him at locks and all."

"I heard that," the Doctor says, without turning around.

"I like them," Oria says, hovering so close she's almost inside Zoe's ear. Zoe smiles. Despite the circumstances of their meeting, she likes their new friends too.

3.

The first time the Doctor sees the current form of the Master's daemon, he can't hide his reaction. Tyche lashes her tail and roars ... and the Master's daemon does the same.

"Well, really," the Doctor says, momentarily stunned. Surely this can't be a co-incidence.

"Ah, Doctor," the Master says, Tissue Compression Eliminator trained on his old foe, "still the second-rate version, I see."

"And you're still a copy-cat." It's a dreadful pun, but apt. This isn't the first time that their daemons have mirrored each other. He wonders if the Master knew what form Tyche had taken and that had subconsciously influenced Eris, or if the match had occurred by some other, stranger property of their relationship.

"I think you will find that I am at the top of this food chain."

Eris dwarfs Tyche in her current form, which is no mean feat, but that's unimportant. What she says about the Master is unflattering as usual.

"Tigers are solitary predators, who shun even their own kind and are good for nothing but killing," the Doctor says smugly, "while there's a reason that lions are a common Earth symbol for nobility."

At that very moment, Miss Josephine Grant bursts through the door without so much as knocking. Seizing the moment, Tyche launches herself at Eris, and the Doctor uses the distraction to throw himself at the Master and attempt to wrestle the TCE away. Jo's budgerigar daemon flutters around the room getting in everybody's way, and soon enough the Master has the upper hand again.

Fortunately, when he goes to shoot Jo, Eris growls and stretches up to put a warning paw on the Master's arm. The Doctor is able to use the dematerialisation circuit he stole from the Master's TARDIS to bargain for their lives, although he's not sure what will happen when the Master gets them wherever they're going to

The Doctor watches Eris as the Master forces Jo into the truck, and raises an eyebrow when she gives Tyche a friendly lick on the ear. Apparently somebody has been missing them.

Sitting tied up in the back of the truck, the Doctor manages to rest his bound hands on Tyche's flank. "Everything will be all right," he murmurs, as much for her benefit as for that of his new assistant and the bird daemon that seems to be everywhere at once. Eris watches them with shining eyes.

Every time he looks at Tyche or touches her thick golden fur, she reminds him that he has something to live up to while stuck on this planet. Seeing again what the Master has become reminds him all the more.

4.

To Sarah, none of the strange things she's seen since meeting the Doctor are quite as strange as having a conversation with his daemon when he's not there. It never used to happen with her first Doctor - that Tyche preferred to stick close by his side, projecting appropriate majesty and providing physical assistance when she could. Since he changed, though, Tyche wanders more and more. When Sarah gets into the console room early in the morning, the tiny golden tamarin is on the console, hopping from panel to panel. It's impossible not to smile.

"Does he know you're flying the ship?" she asks.

"Probably. Besides, I can steer better than he can."

Sarah Jane has little trouble believing that. But Iliam, who often finds Tyche annoying, snorts in disbelief.

"You don't think so?" Tyche says. "I'll prove it. Where do you want to go?"

"Somewhere without so many monkeys?" Iliam suggests.

Sarah thinks. The Doctor has taken her to lots of places, but rarely where he means to, and always by a round-about route. "There are so many possibilities," she says, stalling.

"You don't want to go home?"

"Why would you think that?" Now she's really surprised.

"I don't, necessarily. I just wouldn't want you to feel obligated to stay." Tyche presses more buttons, which largely seems to be a distraction to stop her from having to look straight at Sarah.

She leans on the console. "That's not why I'm here. If I wanted to leave, I could have done it when Harry did. I like travelling with you - with you and the Doctor. Isn't that right Iliam?"

"No," he says, but his wagging tail gives his good humour away.

"Well," Tyche says, "that's good. What do you say to a trip to Metebilis 3? I'm sure the giant spiders have gone by now."

Tyche doesn't mention taking her home again. Sarah Jane knows that the Doctor would never have asked properly if she wanted to stay, but it's nice that there's a part of him that thinks about it.

5.

"Do they ever get tired of playing fetch?" Turlough asks.

He's half-heartedly trying to sketch the Doctor and Tyche, but he's ending up with impressionistic lines rather than a portrait. Neither of them will keep still long enough for him to get anything down properly. They seem to have been at their game all afternoon, the Doctor tossing the ball and Tyche dashing madly after it. Her golden coat is almost glowing in the afternoon sun, and Turlough wishes he'd brought crayons instead of just a pencil.

"Not that I've ever seen," Tegan replies with a smile. This break has made them all relax, and nobody can manage to be bad-tempered at the Eye of Orion. Almione is even sunning herself on the corner of Turlough's sketch pad, and Bemer is draped sleepily around Tegan's neck.

"You wouldn't guess what they are," Turlough said, "by looking at them. Either of them."

Usually you could tell quite a lot about a person by their daemon. Tegan's possum companion might look innocent at first glance, but Turlough knew that he could probably take an eye out with the swipe of a paw. He also made an awful boiling kettle noise when he was angry, which was often. Nobody who spends any time around them is going to think of 'fluffy' before 'choleric.' Turlough encourages Almione to stay out of sight most of the time precisely because she gives away a bit too much about his own nature - poisonous and secretive.

Yet Tyche didn't reflect any of the Doctor's depths, appearing as guileless and innocent as he did himself. She couldn't even keep her tongue in her mouth most of the time.

"The thing about the Doctor is, he really is like that. He's just like other things as well."

Friendly, enthusiastic and far too interested in chasing a ball across a field. Turlough smiled. "He likes making people guess, doesn't he?"

"Or stopping them from guessing."

Turlough sets down his pencil and just watches, wondering what's under the surface.

6.

The room is cold and square, like all of the rooms they've been put in. Sometimes he wonders that he ever managed to spend so much time in the citadel, away from anything colourful or surprising. But of course it was a very long time ago, and of course he was a different person then. Now the whole planet feels like a cell. Because that's exactly what it is.

As soon as the door slams behind them, Tyche rounds on him. "How could you let this happen?" She's been buzzing with tension ever since this mockery of a trial began.

"I didn't let it happen! We don't even know for sure that it has happened! How can we trust anything anybody tells us?"

"How can we not? You saw the same footage I did."

"Even if it is true, I can't let myself be distracted. There's more at stake here than my future. Something is very wrong here."

"Of couse. You never did let her distract you."

"That isn't fair! She was my friend, and -" Tyche's green eyes stare into his, and there's no point concealing anything from her "- and I never really told her how grateful I was. That she stayed with me after I regenerated." There's a lump in his throat, and a nauseous knot in his stomach.

Before he has time to object, Tyche leaps into his arms and starts licking his face.

"Stop that," he says, but he doesn't push her away. She does stop, though and rests her head on his shoulder instead. Then he gives in and buries his face in her soft fur for a long moment.

"She can't really be dead," he says. "I'd know."

He'd seen it. Peri with her brain removed, her daemon extinguished - but he didn't really believe it. Not yet.

He shuts his eyes and it plays again inside his mind, Peri gone, Alaimon winking out of existence in a flash of bright feathers. It doesn't seem any more real in memory than it did on the screen.

"We have to win," he says. It's more important now than ever.

"I agree," Tyche says, something he hears far too seldom. This incarnation of hers is far too argumentative. "We have to get out of here, for Peri and Alaimon's sake. If we're gone, who else will remember them?"

After that they wait in companionable quiet for a while. They will remember and grieve, but then they will plan their counter-offensive, as one.

7.

"You really shouldn't have done that."

"What would your plan have been?"

"I don't know," Tyche says, "something that didn't involve letting the near-omnipotent being out of the cellar?"

"She's got a point, professor," Ace admits. "What are we going to do now?" The Doctor's magpie daemon preens and manages to look smug.

"I'll think of something," he says, with a slightly watery smile.

"Please try to manage it before the house gets blown up with us inside."

Sorcha growls, and Ace puts a hand on her daemon's head to calm her. She can't blame her daemon for being nervous, stuck in this creepy house with all these dead things. And now even Tyche doesn't agree with the Doctor, which is not exactly reassuring. She knows they argue a lot, but it's not normally in front of her and Sorch.

"Look, you just - wait here. All of you," he says, looking at Tyche pointedly. "I think I have a plan."

"Oh, that's very comforting," Tyche calls at the Doctor's retreating back.

"We should get out," Sorcha says."Go back to the TARDIS."

"No," Ace says. Sorch is always trying to protect her, but she doesn't always know best. "We need to stay. We need to trust the Doctor."

"Really?" says Tyche. "I don't." Her bright eyes regard Ace with interest.

"That's ... ridiculous," Ace replies. "How can you not trust the Doctor?"

"Do you always agree with your daemon?"

"No, but ..." she looks at Sorcha for reassurance. "I know she always watches my back. That's what a daemon is for."

"It's not what I'm for," Tyche says.

Ace thinks about that a lot, later, but it's a long time before she really understands what Tyche meant. The Doctor told her once that daemons were whatever you needed them to be, and she should have realised sooner that what the Doctor really needed was someone who didn't agree with him.

8.

"So ... that's your daemon?"

The Doctor smiles. Tyche whispers: "Does she think I just happened to be on a derelict Dalek ship in the middle of nowhere and perched on you for fun?"

"Currently, yes," he says. After all these years, he's got used to people being unimpressed, but it's certainly been worse since ... well, since the war started. Apparently the renegade hero of the Time Lords should be accompanied by something more fearsome than a butterfly. Everyone else here has a canine daemon, since the President seldom recruits anyone who doesn't into the Guard. He likes people to know their place. It does make Tyche stand out a bit.

The sergeant recovers her manners quickly. "We need to sweep through the ship and make sure there are no Daleks alive. The President said you were here to help."

"I'm always here to help," the Doctor replies. He doesn't specify who it is that he's going to be helping. The squad don't look very reassured by his presence, but they don't have much choice but to trust him.

The ship really is dead. There are Dalek casings here and there, but no matter how often the guards get jumpy and fire off a few rounds of lasers, they don't move.

“The whole ship is decaying,” the sergeant says. “It's like it's been abandoned for hundreds of years.”

“More like thousands,” the Doctor replies. “Daleks build their killing machines to last.”

It gets worse and worse as they approach the centre of the ship – here the walls and floors are crumbling, and twice someone puts their foot through a rusted section of the floor and has to be pulled out of the resulting hole. When they reach the weapon, though, it's completely intact.

"Incredible," one of the guards breathes. "There's not a scratch on it."

"Of course not," the Doctor says, looking at the blue globe. "It was the centre of the hurricane. The time-accelerating effects don't operate on the device itself." It must have been set off by accident somehow, which means that it's probably unstable in addition to being completely horrifying. Just like the Daleks, to try to weaponize time itself.

"In the right place, this could turn the war in our favour," says the sergeant.

The Doctor thinks about it for a moment. Winning the war and ending the suffering. But Tyche, who always knows what he's thinking, gently brushes a wing against his ear. "You know it won't be like that," she says.

"I'm sorry," the Doctor says, "I can't let you take it. Nobody should have a weapon like this." He moves himself between the guards and the sphere.

"The President tasked us to retrieve it!"

"Then I'm afraid you'll just have to shoot me to get it," he says. Four of the five stand there looking shocked, but the fifth guard draws his gun and fires.

Having had more practice being shot at than the guard has had at shooting people, the Doctor has no trouble diving out of the way, and the bolt strikes the sphere instead. He stays flattened on the ground as it shatters into a million pieces, showering everyone in the vicinity with tiny sparkling shards.

While he's running away from the Chancellery guards in the general direction of his TARDIS, daemons barking at his heels, Tyche clings on to his jacket like grim death. "You did the right thing," she says, and he almost believes her.

He knows that whatever may happen, whatever he might do to defeat the Daleks, she'll always be there to remind him of who he really is.

9.

The first time they meet, Rose assumes his daemon is just small. Plenty of people have insect daemons, and even Mel can hide inside her hoodie if he wants to. (Mind you, he usually prefers to be showing off.) After she finds out, though, it's the first thing she wants to know. It's a good distraction from thinking about what happened to Mickey and the impossible box she just stepped out of.

"Haven't you got a daemon, then? I mean, if you're an alien." The idea of not having one is awful, but maybe they do things differently on other planets.

"I've got a daemon."

From the tone of his voice, she's guessing he doesn't want to talk about it, but that just makes it more interesting. "What is it, then?"

The Doctor frowns at her. "That's a pretty rude question, isn't it?"

Rose shrugs. "Alien daemon, got to be pretty exciting. Is she invisible or something?" She looks around his feet, worried she might step on it by accident.

"Or just really small?” Mel suggests. “Is she an alien mouse?"

"She's not a mouse. She just ... stays in the ship."

Rose's eyes widen, and Mel flutters his wings in uneasy excitement. "So you're like a witch then?"

That earns her one of his infectious grins. "I don't do the pointy hat thing, but, yeah, something like that."

Rose didn't see his daemon when they were in the ship, but there was an awful lot of bigger-on-the-inside, and it's not like she was actually checking.

It's not until later, when they've saved the planet and she's got into the TARDIS that she finally gets to find out what it is. She's staring around the cavernous room, trying to take it all in, when something scuttles out from behind the central console. Rose gives a yelp and steps backwards, and Mel leaps off her shoulder and starts chirping furiously. Then she realises that the thing with the giant claws and way too many legs is a daemon.

"Oh," says the Doctor, "that's just Tyche. Don't worry, she's harmless."

"That's - is that your daemon then? An alien crab-thing?"

The Doctor sighs. "She's not alien. Well, not when we're on Earth, anyway. She's a coconut crab."

The ... crab is at least a foot across, and a deep, shiny black. Not exactly the kind of thing they make crab sticks out of down at the fish and chip shop. "Doesn't look much like a coconut to me."

"Coconut crabs don't look like coconuts," the daemon says. "They eat coconuts. After dropping them from trees to crack the shells. Also, it's rude to talk about me as if I'm not here."

"Er, sorry," Rose says, looking sideways at the Doctor. He gives her no help. "I'm Rose Tyler, and this is Mel - Meladin."

The canary flutters down to the TARDIS floor and hops over to say hello, although he's careful not to get too close to the giant claws.

"I see you've started inviting guests home," Tyche says to the Doctor.

"She helped with the Autons," the Doctor replies, fiddling with the TARDIS console. There's obviously something going on here that Rose doesn't understand.

Mel hops a bit closer to Tyche, and bobs his head. The crab sighs. "Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. I suppose they'll brighten the place up."

Rose isn't sure how she feels about being compared to a bunch of flowers or a new set of curtains, but her heart pounds with excitement as the ship takes off. She wants to learn everything about the Doctor, and if that means learning more about his weird crab-thing daemon, then that's how it's going to be.

10.

"Procea Minor?"

"No, we've been there before." Tyche hopes over to the next console panel and pulls a lever down with both paws.

"Really?"

"Sixth incarnation. They made Evelyn a goddess. I'm surprised you've forgotten."

"Oh, yeah. I think she left the crown in the TARDIS. Maybe I could find it and claim I'm her re-incarnation?"

"Let's go somewhere new."

Tyche's been restless ever since they lost Donna, and the Doctor understands. Everywhere he goes seems to remind him of somebody who went there with him.

"Tell you what," he says, "I'll shut my eyes and you push all the buttons."

He turns his back and covers his eyes while she hops from panel to panel, working the levers with surprising dexterity for a mongoose. Eventually, he feels the TARDIS materialise.

"Where are we?" he says.

"No idea," she says. "I shut my eyes as well."

The Doctor yanks on the door lever, and grabs his coat. Outside, there's a a planet. It's ... planety. That's about the nicest thing you can say for it, since it mostly seems to consist of bare rocks and the sky is an unpleasant shade of green.

"Doesn't look promising." He says, as Tyche scampers out from between his legs.

"Give it a chance. There could be anything over that rise - pirates, Cybermen, a lost city of cheese ..."

The Doctor stops himself from saying that they've seen all of those things before, and follows her. It turns out that what's over the hill is another hill, and then another.

Eventually, even Tyche gives up. "You're right, there really isn't anything here." Her tail droops with despondency.

"Never mind," he says, bending down to scoop her up. "You did find something new. Discovering the most boring planet in the universe has to count for something."

After barely thirty seconds, she wriggles free and dashes off again, back in the direction of the TARDIS. "I know!" she says. "We'll go to Ealing. Someone's always trying to invade Ealing."

The Doctor shakes his head, wondering what happened to trying somewhere new, but he smiles anyway. There are moments when his own company is all that he wants.

11.

"What's the matter with your daemon?"

The little girl, fearless in her nightgown, gives Tyche a dubious look. The Doctor can see why. His daemon is flickering from form to form in milisecond bursts, barely becoming a Delvian lizard before she turns into a bird and takes flight, then shifts into a sabre-toothed cat and tumbles to the ground with a yelp. He just hopes she doesn't become an mammoth, or they might destroy more than the shed. Not to mention that he'd never be able to get her back into the TARDIS. He tries to think un-mammothy thoughts.

"She's trying to work out what she is now. Sometimes takes a while." He stumbles to the ground as his hearts spasm again, and spits out more artron energy. Tyche turns back into a mongoose and crawls into his lap. The old shape feels all wrong, like his torn and ill-fitting suit.

"But you're a grown-up. Grown-up daemons don't change." Her own has taken the form of a cat, and stands by her feet lashing its tail.

The Doctor grins. "That's the wonderful thing. I'm not really a grown-up, not right now. I don't know what I am."

"If you don't know what you are, how are you meant to help me with the crack in my wall?"

The Doctor coughs, and suddenly has a lap full of walrus.

"Don't worry," Tyche says, waving a flipper. "Normal service will be resumed shortly." The little girl laughs at them, and he can't really blame her.

The Doctor prises himself out from under his daemon and gets to his feet, feeling shaky on his new legs. "I hope you don't mean you're sticking like that! How can we run away from things if you're a walrus?"

"Don't worry," she says, turning into a llama. "I'm not going to be a walrus. I do think it might have something to do with fish, though."

"You can't be a fish! We've been over this before. I am not carrying you around in a bucket."

"If I'm going to be a fish, then a fish is what I'll be. I don't think it's that, though. Maybe if you got that apple ..."

"Yes. Right. Apples, cracks in walls, lots to be getting on with." He turns around and walks straight into the nearest solid object.

Eventually, he remembers how to steer, and Tyche turns into something that can fit through a door. The girl's daemon watches them both carefully as they go into the house, now in the shape of a wolf.

Later, as he dips his fishfingers into the custard, he feels Tyche settle. She hops up onto the table, problem resolved. Her new form looks a lot like the last one, but it already feels different.

"Is she going to stay like that?" Amelia asks. Her daemon changes to match the form of his own and the two of them touch noses.

"Apparently," the Doctor says, "I am now an otter person. I wonder what that's like?"