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Archive for January 2014

Two for the price of one – 3

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‘How long has she been here?’ he whispered to Romana, looking straight into the blonde’s eyes. ‘When did she come? How? Where?’

Romana’s both hands were busy, stroking carefully her patient’s hair and shoulders, trying to ease the tension.

‘Last three to four days, really’ she whispered back. ‘I think she got hit by whatever the President was trying to do, when they were saying you were holding the Moment. When Gallifrey was… I don’t really know, shifting? Many were hurt, on top of the war injuries, some were affected more deeply, but she’s the only one who didn’t respond to any known treatment.’

He licked his lips and swallowed, extending his hand towards the cowering patient.

‘And who cut her hair?’

Romana’s eyes directed him to the Time Lord he opposed just a minute before.

‘He wanted to see if her skull isn’t damaged and then complained she is not formed properly so he can’t really say. He’s been bothering us ever since, trying to force her to eat hard food, which she can’t swallow and to go outside, which she can’t stand. Calling it a shock therapy, he is’ she frowned. ‘I’m almost sure that’s a big pile of…’

‘Poppycock’ he supplied in English.

Romana smiled, finally looking like her older selves.

The girl shivered.

***

There was a man there, looking at her. Trembling hands reaching out to her, the stranger’s face was animated, lips trembling and eyes tearing up.

The worried medic was still holding her and both were forming a protective shield around her, talking in their strange, weird-sounding language and looking at her oh-so-tenderly.

She was warm, and slowly relaxing from her confrontation just a few moments before when all of sudden the man said something she caught and finally understood. Not that it made sense, but his uttered – very dryly – “Poppycock” made her tense up.

Finally, she understood something. Something that was in actual, proper English. Even though they may be speaking in a language she’d never heard before, they knew common, even very common, English. She tensed up, trying to get her mouth to work on something to say.

The lady medic repeated the word. This was no illusion. She did have a chance of finally communicating with them!

***

‘Poppycock’ Romana agreed. ‘Now, I wanted to keep her comfortable, supply with some light brain stimulation and try to make sure she has social contact. Trying to ease her into the real world. After all, maybe her brain shut down because she saw something so horrible she can’t speak about it. And he, forcing her, undoes all my work’ she held the blonde head closer to her. ‘Come now, Bright One. You should get some sleep. I will stay with you.’

She helped the girl up, slowly, but the Doctor was there first and swept the patient up into his arms.

‘Which room?’ not that there were all that many, but the last thing he needed was to have to guess.

‘Here, on the left. He must have caught her awake… Put her down on the mattress, she likes to keep close to the floor… She had a bed, but slept in the corner, on the floor, so I moved the mattress there…’ she supplied steady stream of narrative as the Doctor was lowering his burden on the mattress she pointed out.

As he slowly removed his arms from under the patient, she sat up, grabbing his suit’s sleeve and lifted herself to look into his face searchingly. He dared a crooked smile.

Her hand found his hair and she smiled.

He finally allowed himself a glimmer of hope. Maybe, just maybe, this day would end with something good.

‘I’m no longer, you know, him’ he forced out in English and saw her dissolve in tears. All of sudden, a wave of emotions hit him, the stored stress, the fear and the sudden relief she was emitting so strongly Romana hissed in surprise.

‘Empath!’ she murmured. ‘Real, living empath.’

‘She’s marginally telepathic, too’ he supplied, not looking away from his the blonde. ‘She’s also not a time lady, which you should have picked up on your scans.’

‘But she is’ Romana protested hotly. ‘Her whole physiology is correct, only the brain seems to be either affected by whatever happened to her or she is an undiscovered…’ she swallowed, hard. ‘Well, you know.’

Gallifrey wasn’t a planet on which a brain-damaged child would be able to hide easily, but parents always tried.

‘No, no. She’s quite fine. She just doesn’t understand us. No translation circuit translates our language and she never got to learn it…’

He was still holding the shaking form and rubbing slow circles on her thin back. He had a flash on a memory – him, the previous one, holding her after he non-regenerated, her full body pressing into him and his mind, still reeling from the regen overload, visualising everything he would do with her as soon as he could get rid of Donna and Jack.

There was no soft fullness now, the body that shivered in his arms was lanky and hard. He wasn’t letting go, though, this time. Whatever happened, he wasn’t letting go of her.

Her breathing evened out and she seemed to relax slightly.

He rolled her head on his shoulder so that he could have a good look at her.

‘Hello?’ he murmured, almost hesitantly. ‘Rose, are you there?’

She smacked her lips and tried to produce a sound. Instead, a low, unarticulated moan escaped her.

‘Damn it’ he whispered. ‘She’s hurt. Much… much more than I can fix. Either her brain was, in fact, injured, or something happened to her just directly before. She can understand me, can you, Rose?’ he added in English and she nodded slowly. ‘Good. At least we have this one solved. But she can’t speak, or she can’t produce proper sounds, or… Well’ he smiled nervously. ‘Humans call it aphasia, lack of speech. You see, she’s trying to communicate, but her brain… Sorry, Rose. Your brain can’t get it to form.’

She nodded, quite emphatically.

What followed was a strange little pantomime of Rose pointing at the Doctor and then at her fingers. She made a show of counting them, One and she put her hands to her ears and made a move as if she was flattening her hair. Two and she straightened the invisible tie – or that was their guess – smiled winningly and made a long movement along his body. Three and she looked at him expectantly.

‘What is it, Doctor?’ Romana’s eyes were almost round.

‘She is… No idea.’

Rose rubbed her face in weariness. Then she pointed to his face and made a circling motion.

‘Turn… turn face?’

Headshake, no.

‘Turn around? Turn in place?’

Eyes roll. Mimicking along his whole body.

‘I should turn around?’

Another eyeroll. She stabbed at him with a finger and then spread her arms and threw her head back.

Regeneration!

‘Oh. You wanted to know how many?’

Satisfied nod.

‘I’m just next. Next after the one that you know. Knew.’

She winced visibly and he sat up.

‘What happened?’

He didn’t really think this through, which he understood when she straightened and pulled her blouse up.

‘Told you she was injured’ Romana supplied. ‘All over her body, we thought she must have rolled down a hill, or fallen down the stairs.’

Rose looked at her questioningly and Doctor provided a translation.

A headshake.

‘So what happened?’

She mimicked hitting him. One fist in his stomach, one on his shoulder, one on the head…

His breath hitched and he reached for her, gathering her to himself.

‘Please tell me it wasn’t him’ he whispered fearfully. ‘Please tell me I didn’t leave you there to live your life out with a monster…’

She pushed him away a bit and gazed into his eyes sadly, biting her lower lip.

‘I’m so sorry, Rose, I’m so sorry… How…’

Suddenly a sound of multiple feet thundered down the corridor and Romana said something definitely not ladylike.

‘Oh? Is this the cavalry coming to rescue that stuck-up fool that we got rid of?’ he asked flippantly, still holding Rose. He wanted to sing her name, to beg forgiveness, to crawl and…

‘We’re taking away the prisoner’ the guard didn’t bother with pleasantries.

‘Rose is a patient, I am a hero and the lady Romana here is a medic. We have no prisoners here’ he didn’t even turn around, eyes still fixated on his pink-and-yellow human. He wasn’t letting her out of his sight ever, ever again.

His answer didn’t make the guard any happier.

‘Hand over the girl, my lord. She will be escorted out of the city and disposed of. She is a risk to everyone around and must be removed.’

Romana straightened all five feet of her not-so-imposing posture and tried valiantly to stare the guard down.

‘I don’t think so’ the Doctor stood up and brought Rose closer to himself. ‘I will be taking her to her family who can decide what to do with her from now on.’

‘If they have been hiding her for so long, they too will be punished’ the guard stated seriously. ‘She is obviously damaged and someone must have been keeping her hidden. It is against the law.’

‘She was hurt, you imbecile!’ Romana finally snapped. ‘She might not be standard as Lord Washem seems to see the Time Lords, but she was hurt and she is traumatised! Probably not enough to trigger a regeneration, but definitely quite enough to make her… like she’s now, whatever it is. The Doctor wants to help her and he knows her family and it’s their decision what should happen with her, not his Lordship’s and definitely not yours!’

‘Romana’ Doctor sighed. ‘She’s not a Time Lady. She’s not from Gallifrey. She can’t regenerate, ever.’

Round eyes of the medic-ex-president turned towards him.

‘Laws regarding correction of inborn defects are only for native-born Gallifreyans’ he added slowly, nodding to the guard. ‘You can leave now, then.’

‘If she’s not native of our planet, then she’s a spy or a forpost of a new invasion. She must be removed.’

The guard was quite determined and Doctor exchanged a look with Romana. Suspicious.

‘I will remove her myself, to my TARDIS. She will leave the planet – not that she could see all that much, with her injuries – and I will most definitely keep her away from here’ and myself, if I can.

Rose frowned. She straightened and pointed at the guard, made a chopping motion at her throat and looked questioningly at the Doctor.

‘I’m afraid so’ he said awkwardly. ‘But no worries, my dearies, no worries! I will get us out of here and on our way to London in no time.’

Romana, catching the multiple “dearies” – and applying it to herself – slowly sidled towards him, lending him her support. Which also put her in his reach. Just in case.

‘Now, are we going to have an issue here, and should I take it to the Council, or can we pass and get to my TARDIS?’

The Doctor’s voice dripped icicles. It was so cold Romana could feel the snowflakes falling. He seemed to be unholily gleeful about the whole thing, but at the same time he restrained himself to calm and cold expression.

‘What did he mean by ‘disrupting everyone’s work’, by the way?’ he side-whispered to Romana as the guard processed the last question with obvious difficulty.

‘She screams in her sleep’ the short medic provided. ‘And whatever happens, do not get close to her with anything powered by dion energy, it will shut down and you’ll never get it to work again.’

‘That’s the ‘parasite’ part, I suppose?’

‘She did drain at least one of his experimental weapons. Not that it would have worked, but he feels she sabotaged his work.’

They made a slight movement to the side, trying to bypass the guard, but he followed them with his eyes, probably weighing his direct orders against the possibly good idea of letting the planet’s saviour do what he wanted for the time being.

‘Rose? Do you remember what we did on the very first day that we met?’

He saw it. The smile. The full-toothed, big-mouthed smile that could lighten any gloom.

‘Well, I know you’re not feeling all that well, but I think we’ll be doing lots and lots of it today. You up to it?’

She squeezed his hand.

The very foul day suddenly improved. And he was seeing some running and a daring rescue in his near future. Perfect!

Written by Srebrna

2014/01/15 at 06:42

Two for the price of one – 2

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He couldn’t actually kill the holo, so he turned his back to him and tried to ignore any new sounds. Holo finally gave up and wandered away – or simulated doing so. It was quite enough.

Something simple, something obvious, something so normal that nobody will think to remove it or… Or something not so easily visible. Maybe high up? Maybe…

He raked his hair with both hands.

Something clicked in his brain and he pulled his hair, hard.

The tallest spire of the central tower.

The rest was, in fact, very simple.

Or as simple as a hidden planet full of angry people almost-frozen in time can be.

***

He was convinced that his whole race was crazy. Bonkers, Donna would say. Out of their mind.

Two nuts short of a fruitcake. One nut, now, and the very thought of the other one, who perished, giving Earth the chance of survival, still stabbed him like a knife.

He wasn’t the same man anymore, and Master would never be the same boy that walked with him to look into the Untempered Schizm, but the link was there and the hole in his soul would never quite heal.

Actually, one other nut was missing, giving him a reason to rejoice. Apparently whatever the Master did to Rasillon was quite, quite permanent. Lovely and deadly, and the fear in the eyes of the witnesses was more than enough to make the darker parts of his hearts fill with delight. No regeneration. No enlightenment. No ascension. No living as energy forms. No president. How lovely it was to deal with the council only, prepared now (however short the time was) to negotiate, if not in good will, then at least in fear of consequences of failure. He had to exhibit all of his various people skills, from blinding them with his brillance to outright blackmail, but he finally got them to understand that under no circumstances would they be allowed a repeat performance of what Rasillon attempted to do. That he was absolutely, definitely prepared to leave them as they were until they think his offer over. Carefully.

The offer was very simple – he would attempt to crack the pocket-dimension lock only if they go under a planet-wide cloaking spell and nobody ever leaves the surface to meddle with other races unless they were personally vetted by him. He didn’t actually supply the “or else” part, but he felt they understood his meaning quite… clearly.

***

She was lying on the nice, plump mattress they gave her. The IV helped and she felt much stronger, but the migraines came and went and she didn’t want to get up unless someone was holding her. Being as close as possible to the floor – and to the wall – seemed the best solution with her head spinning so much.

The nice lady was worried. Apparently she wasn’t doing that well. The bruises were healing slowly, but she still couldn’t understand what was said, or written – she thought what they showed her was writing, but she couldn’t understand any of the signs. She blamed the lack of sleep for this.

She tried writing, but her muscles didn’t obey and the letters she tried were twisted beyond recognition. So, no written communication until she gets her fingers to cooperate. At least she could eat by herself, if only soups.

Something seemed to be stuck or broken inside her. She tried explaining it to the nice, worried lady medic, but gestures could convey only so much. Especially not something more psychical than physiological.

She carefully rolled to face the room and tried putting everything in a logical order. Maybe it would be easier to draw pictures?

The door opened suddenly.

***

‘Please, Doctor’ he heard the breathy female voice behind him and turned tiredly. ‘Please, I need help.’

Young, harried face of a medic. She stood no more than five feet and an inch or so, quite short for a Time Lady, but she looked at him with hard, experienced eyes.

‘Ha! Doesn’t everybody?’ he asked bitterly. ‘I think I’ve saved enough lives for the next decade, I need some rest.’

He didn’t, not really. But after tending to the entire planet as a whole and dealing with personal issues of each separate Time Lord and Lady of the Council, he didn’t have much left for yet another discussion about his methods and means of saving everybody. He was quite sure he didn’t have to do anything more at the moment, unless the Daleks came back.

‘I’m sorry’ she cringed. ‘I really need your help. Nobody else knows anything and I’ve never seen a case like this, and my patient is getting worse…’ she trailed off, looking at him hopefully.

‘Your patient?’ he sighed and raked his hair with fingers. ‘What’s wrong with him?’

‘It’s a her, actually. From what we can guess, it is head trauma, but none of the available diagnostic tools shows anything. She is half-conscious most of the time and was injured all over her body, as if due to a fall or roll in a rough terrain. She doesn’t seem to recognise spoken language or any kind of writing I’ve shown her, but otherwise behaves perfectly normally, so I don’t think it’s a general defect of brain function, just the language portion is somehow… missing. She can communicate with handsigns, but that’s obviously limited to everyday activities and, well, bodily functions. I can’t get her outside, she panics every time someone tries to walk her into a bigger open space – that’s actually how they found her, curled up next to a wall of a tumbled-down house, covering her eyes. Please, Doctor’ she implored, her hands shaking. ‘I hoped with your experience… You might have seen something…’

He sighed again and shut his eyes for a moment.

‘Just give me a… What is your name, actually?’

She smirked and shook her head with a sudden flirtiness.

‘I know I’ve regenerated since we last met, but really, Doctor’ she giggled.

‘Romana…?’ he ventured carefully and gathered her in his arms upon her short nod. ‘Oh, I’ve never hoped to see you again! And, well, you could have chosen a taller form, you barely reach my shoulder now!’ he measured with his large palm.

She swatted said shoulder lightly.

‘You’re discussing my height and I have a patient waiting. Are you coming, or not?’

‘For you, my lady, everything’ he bowed his head and did something curtsylike with his feet.

‘Stop it’ she gestured towards an internal corridor. ‘We keep her here. She hates windows, so she was quite happy with the isolation room. This way she’s safe in case of convulsions or nightmares, she’s having these quite often. Last two days, no sleep, only nightmares. She’s keeping a guard up with them most of the time, but they seem not to mind that much. Now, please, be careful. She reacts badly to all new faces…’

They turned into the corridor and faced a scene of a battle.

Waged between a tall, imposing Time Lord, two guards, visibly unsure as to who should be supported, and a thin, wiry girl with closely-cropped blonde hair. The girl was losing, obviously, but her opponent wouldn’t leave the scene unscathed. She managed to use her nails quite effectively on his face, his tall collar seemed dislodged and the bruise around his eye was impressive.

‘Crap’ Romana muttered and strode into the fray.

‘Delightful’ the Doctor echoed her sentiment and followed not a step behind her.

‘My Lord, you must let go of her, immediately’ he heard her say to the high dignitary, who seemed intent on getting the patient into the open area. ‘I have been assured by the High Lady Thorena that the girl will not be moved or approached again by anyone outside the normal staff! You were repeatedly told that your interventions do more harm than good!’

She looked like a miniature terrier trying to get a big husky to move – he saw something like this on Earth, once – and the Time Lord was giving her exactly the same amount of attention as the husky was paying to the terrier on that day.

‘My Lord’ he put a hand on the stranger’s hand, taking it off the girl’s arm. ‘Please unhand the patient and let Lady Romana do her work.’

‘If this stupid girl was doing her work, we wouldn’t be having this… this… crazy parasite here with us, disrupting everyone’s work!’ the man turned towards him. ‘And what is she to you, eh?’

‘She asked for my assistance’ he uttered slowly, moving his body between the gasping girl and the angry man. ‘And I want to check the patient myself, before…’

He glanced over his shoulder and froze. The girl was now held by Romana, crying and shivering in the corner of the corridor and he heard her voice, gasping some half-formed words and moans and he drowned in the sound. Not really caring, he pushed the overbearing Time Lord into the arms of the nearest guard and with one fluid move knelt next to both females.

He barely dared to hold out his hand, she looked so fragile and breakable.

Written by Srebrna

2014/01/14 at 00:36