Instruction

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Ana counted the strokes up to one hundred as she brushed her long hair. After the hundredth stroke, the strands hung artfully between her sharp shoulder blades, the ends curling against her pale skin like a pre-Raphaelite painting come to life. She stared at her plain features and large eyes and sighed. It would have to do. Christian loved her. She sighed again. She wanted to go shopping. Maybe she would ask Christian for permission over dinner. If she put it just right, he might not get too angry.

            Suddenly, as she was examining her features, Ana noticed a blurry blue something in the corner of the mirror. She turned sharply. There was a whooshing, otherworldly breathing sound, and a blue and white police box with a glimmering light on top appeared before her eyes.

            “Oh jeez!” she exclaimed, standing up and dropping her hairbrush in alarm. The door of the police box creaked open, but nothing came out. “What in the world...?” Ana said, voice trembling.

            “In this world but not of it, my dear girl,” said a charmingly British voice as a tall skinny man in a long coat stepped out into the bedroom of the yacht on which Ana and Christian—her husband!—were honeymooning.

            “Where am I?” asked the man. “Never mind—it’s France! I’m the Doctor, by the way. Got to be France. Whole country has the whiff of lavender, always has. But why’ve I come here? Oh, never mind that either. We’ll find out along the way.” He grinned at Ana, and the corners of his eyes wrinkled in the loveliest way. His dark eyes sparkled in the low light of the bedroom. One eyebrow arched higher than the other as he took her in, gosh darn hickeys and all. She felt herself flush as she realized she was wearing only her ridiculously expensive bra and panties. They were purple and black lace, and showed off her curves nicely. Her hip bones stuck out too far, though—she never really got to eat when she was hungry, since she wasn’t the one who planned the schedule.

            “How did you get to my room?” Ana asked, finally recapturing her voice. “On my yacht? Well, it’s not mine, but my husband is borrowing it from some rich guy—like us!—and I want an explanation, please and thank you.”

            “Oh dear,” said the Doctor, his face growing long and grave as he saw her bruises and listened to her whiny, irritated voice. “Vapid babbling. Signs of severe naïveté. I know what you need. Come! At once. You can’t wait a moment longer, or you’ll be trapped forever. Come.”

            Ana looked up at his angular, passionate face, and felt an urgent longing overcome her. For the minute that he’d been talking, his charisma had overtaken her to the point that she hadn’t thought of Christian. Now, she thought only of how furious he would be when—if—she returned from her adventure with the Doctor.

                                                ***

The Doctor knew that the first thing Ana needed was a visit to the one thing she had clearly never entered, despite her reputed college degree: a library. More specifically, The Library. He would take her to visit it before it was destroyed, before he’d been there with Donna. She had been his best friend, but now could never know him—could never have known him. He sighed. This Ana girl needed a number of things, and he could use a distraction.

            She stood against the railing of the TARDIS, her bruised wrists concealed by fancy jewelry, which was fooling no one. He noted again the numerous hickeys and the dazed and nearly fearful expression she wore, as he punched in the coordinates and they began to spin through time and space, to another world.

            “Someone’s gotten a bit rough, then, have they?” the Doctor asked when they had recovered from the initial lurch of the TARDIS’s journey. “And not in a fun way.” He crooked an eyebrow. “Ooph.”

            “My husband—I mean, Christian—he’s messed up. He has these urges to hurt women. They mostly look like his mom the Crackwhore. I’m his first proper girlfriend. I mean, he’s only had...subs before,” Ana explained. Her voice dropped in disgust as she thought of the pitiful women who had loved Christian Gray in the past.

            “My dear girl, what you need is within the walls of this place,” said the Doctor gravely as they stopped at their destination. “Hm. I rarely have the opportunity to be so stern. Suits me.”

            “You’re a bit odd,” said Ana. The Doctor held out an arm, and Ana linked her wrist through his elbow.

            They took a lift to the section of the library he knew she needed, and he smiled.

            “Here we are,” he said. “Not a moment too soon.”

                                                ***

            Ana looked at the rows of beautiful books, all different colors and sizes, lined up around her everywhere. She placed a hand on the Doctor’s shoulder and felt his sinewy arm reach back to hold her hand. He took her to the section of the library with all the books on 20th and 21st Century feminism—he would have taken her to the more extensive 28th Century feminism, but he knew she would be unable to rejoin her own time if she learned all that—and left her there, throwing a quick, “Call me when you’ve read at least five books” over his shoulder and dropping a quick kiss on the top of her head.

             As he did so, she felt a rush of warmth throughout her entire body. She felt safe with this man, somehow. He seemed wise, and so kind. She wanted to follow him anywhere. Christian would be so furious with her—he wouldn’t believe she would be so reckless as to go off in some weird guy’s spaceship. Maybe it was the atmosphere of the library, or something funny about traveling through time and space, but Ana wondered if Christian would apply the same fury to her decision to go off with him when she barely knew him. That had been only months ago...

            Ana pulled down a fuchsia book, and turned it over in her hands. It was by someone named bell hooks, and she devoured it voraciously, hoping to please the Doctor with her obedience. Once she’d finished that book, she took down one by Simone de Beauvoir, and then after that she looked at a beautiful copy of one of Jeanette Winterson’s many literary contributions. After browsing through a few more, she felt herself getting more and more annoyed. She sat down on the smooth marble floor and put her chin in her hands, thinking and pouting. She waited.

            When the Doctor finally returned, a half-eaten jar of olives in his slender fingers, she looked up at him crossly.

            “Dude,” she said. “Do you realize that you leaving me here to do your bidding is kind of a dick move? You’re almost as bad as Christian!”

            “Ah, I see you have been doing some reading, my friend,” he said, and added, “Apologies—I see I have made you wait—but you seem to have found what you needed. Do you wish to return to your husband’s friend’s yacht?”

            “Goodness, no!” said Ana, and leapt to her feet. “I want you to show me what I’ve been missing as a closely-controlled piece of property to a creepy, violent asshole. Take me somewhere awesome!”

        The Doctor was happy to oblige.

            

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