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But if you can still dream – 23

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Chapter 11: But only in their dreams…

But only in their dreams can men be truly free. ‘Twas always thus, and always thus will be.

Tom Schulman, in Dead Poets Society, expressed by the character John Keating

Jack: Sleep deprivation

All the contours were sharp, but blurry at the same time. The colours of everything on TARDIS were slightly shifted and he couldn’t stop shivering.

The stupid circles Doctor was showing him told him nothing. Obviously, they should mean various things, and the simplest set was a kind of a primer, but his brain just didn’t work that way. He tried to draw them from memory and when he compared them later, his crooked ovals didn’t even come close to what he saw printed in the fat book.

Fortunately it seemed the Doctor had also read a few Earth books and so allowed him a moment of respite when he considered the latest flight of fancy.

Then, suddenly, they were mixing the cheese, jello, sugar and lemonjuice in a big bowl and throwing in frozen strawberries. He doubted the logic of this, but followed Doctor’s directions and then witnessed him stuffing his face with the result. Even though everything was already looking like an old movie done with a bad camera, including faint trailing lines left by objects moving, as if his eyes could not notice something was gone for a few seconds after it moved. That made the Doctor’s hand a blur, moving up and down with a spoon.

The spoon itself was becoming its own shiny blur.

Spoon. Spooooooon.

He felt that he could totally have an out of body experience anytime now, no cheesecake required.

Spoooooon.

Finally his friend was done and they moved to the TV room, as it had the best sofa. Then the Doctor made a valiant attempt at not-falling-asleep-but-almost.

Jack privately thought the strawberries must have interfered with the process, but his brain was still stuck in a slo-mo mode, so before he managed to voice his opinion, the Doctor managed to take a shot at meditating, gymnastics, breathing exercises, some other sit-and-murmur-quietly thing and finally simulating a dervish.

Nevertheless he still looked very awake.

As Jack watched him pant on the sofa, he tried putting his strawberries-related conclusions in words, but before he got to opening his mouth, the screen came alive and the Doctor went off.

‘Ah. That may be it. Thank you, lady.’

‘-No problem, Captain-‘

A girl, in her teens or so, was sitting on the sofa armrest.

Jack was actually surprised at the lack of surprise he felt.

‘And you are?’

She blinked and smiled, a bit too wide for a standard human being.

‘-I’m me-‘ she weaved her hand around. ‘-I’m here-‘

Jack blinked and shook his head slightly. She wasn’t blurring. She was actually the only thing in tha room that had proper colours and shape.

‘You don’t look like a spaceship.’

‘-You don’t look like a crook-‘

‘Point taken. But I’m reformed, you know.’

‘-I’m not-‘

She smirked.

‘-Now, he’s out, I hope the little hypnotisation trick worked correctly. If it did, she should be showing up antime. You will have to pay attention and take her to the medbay immediately. I don’t have the right sensors in this room, and I really need to diagnose what is going on with her. Leave him here, he will wake up in his own time, but get to the medbay before he does-‘

He nodded, a bit sideways.

‘-Make sure you don’t miss her-‘

‘Yeah.’

‘-And, Captain… Take a break after this. You need to sleep. You’re still able to damage yourself if you continue like this, even if you’re im-im-im-imm… Heck. If you’re stuck-‘ she finished unhappily. ‘-your brain can only take that much-‘

He sat there after she disappeared, considering the complicated situation of travelling in a spaceship with a speech impediment. He tried to keep himself upright, rigidly so, to make sure his required sleep didn’t come anytime too soon. Suddenly the warm weight next to him shifted and leaned towards him, her head on his shoulder, blonde hair tickling his nose.

Automatically he put his arm around her and pulled her closer, but her limp body simply slumped across his lap.

Then the jolt of adrenaline woke him up.

He was barelling down the corridor towards the medbay in no time at all. As he straightened her out on the cot, the instruments started coming to life and he saw with a relief the first of the diagnostic lights shining already on Rose.

He started opening the cupboards, looking for something to remove the residue of the tape from her skin and for any medicine he could possibly identify. Suddenly she made a small noise and immediately he was leaning over her, barely stopping himself from toppling over, as he looked at her eyes flutter open.

“Jack?” she whispered in a hoarse voice.

“Rosie” he sighed. “Oh, love, you have us such a scare…!”

“I don’t feel so well” she complained, a shiver going through her.

Another.

Then another.

Then her body spasmed on the little cot and suddenly she was gone.

He could only sit there and cry.

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Written by Srebrna

2016/05/26 at 02:32

But if you can still dream – 22

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Chapter 11: But only in their dreams…

But only in their dreams can men be truly free. ‘Twas always thus, and always thus will be.

Tom Schulman, in Dead Poets Society, expressed by the character John Keating

Doctor: Out of body experience

“You will have to teach me.”

They both looked rather worn out.

Even Jack’s innuendo was next to zero, as they pored over the maps, time graphs and descriptions Doctor managed to write down, and Doctor was becoming slightly worried about him. He could cope with next to no sleep for prolonged stretches of time, but Jack – immortal or no – had to sleep in a regular fashion. They already had to experience what happened if Jack was restarted sick and he really didn’t wish to replay that one.

“We can try, but I wouldn’t hold my breath” Doctor grimaced, walking around the table. “Or, I would, but you should not. Gallifreyan writing is somewhat…” he chewed his next word. “Complicated.”

“We eat complicated for breakfast, remember?”

“Not that kind of complicated. It really… What it really does is interfacing with the time sensors in your brain and so transferring the meaning through them. Human beings may learn to catch the general idea, if they start early enough.”

“I have a lot of time to catch up” Jack shrugged. “And every Time Agent had to be a quick learner. Who doesn’t learn, doesn’t get to live long.”

Two days later they were still on tha basic circle combination and Doctor was annoyed.

Nothing was working. Jack could not hold the picture of the circles in his mind long enough for the interpretation to come through.

“…and I’m an idiot, too!”

Jack yawned and turned towards his friend slowly.

“Are you implying that there is” yawn “some other idiot already here?”

Doctor shot him an angry glare.

“You can’t learn Gallifreyan. You just… Can’t. Never, ever.”

“Very nice” yawn “Why?”

“Because of the number that Rose did on you. You have no time sensors active. Or rather, you have – but they are permanently frozen and tracking only one type of information – the one that tells you whether you’re in the right time or not. They can’t be trained to do anything else. This is the other side of why TARDIS and, to a certain degree, me are both slightly allergic to you. You’re like that one thing stuck and unmovable. Even when she’s flying both of us through time and space, she feels you like a tiny speck of a pebble in her mental shoe.”

Jack blinked slowly and slumped over the tabletop, his nose touching the leather binding of a fat book, his eyes drifting slowly closed.

Suddenly, a sharp shout jerked him erect. “I know!” the Doctor shouted and whipped the screwdriver out, flicking it in the air. “I will need to find a few ingredients, but that should work!”

Jack shook his head and followed his host towards the kitchen.

“What the blazes are you blathering about?”

“There is that book” he scrunched his nose in concentration “About a doctor – don’t laugh – who is trying to understand the NDEs. I could tell him something about these, but my NDEs are mostly related to being in pain and turning myself inside out, sometimes in flames, so I suppose that would not fit his model. Anyway, what he does is he uses a drug to put people in a kind of trance and tracks their brain activity and chemistry to find out what NDEs actually are. One of the points they make there is that many people who claim to have had an NDE also had an out of body experience. That gives me an idea” he pulled a drawer open and started rummaging through it.

“You want to fix the same kind of drug?”

“No, that would be silly. It was a made-up drug, and anyway it wouldn’t work. I tried. But I can get myself auto-hypnotised to get an out of body experience. Then I’d be asleep and awake at the same time. If I wait long enough, she has to be asleep again at some point, and then we’ll be in sync but I will also have control over what I’m doing, right?”

Jack shuddered slightly and nodded.

“If you say so. So, what do you need?”

“A cup of sugar, some gelatine, four pounds of good cottage cheese and three big bags of frozen strawberries. And lemons.”

When the rest of the cheesecake was safely stored in the fridge, Doctor arranged himself on the couch.

“I can probably start with the counting, and as full of sugar I am, I should be out in minutes.”

“Sure that is the right way?”

He shrugged.

“It worked the last time.”

Not that time, however.

They went through controlled breathing exercise, meditation, standing on his head, hiperventilation, counting, spinning and other equally weird and equally useless attempts. As they sprawled on the sofa again, the TV screen flickered on and the Doctor blinked. Two small, connected gears spinned there for a moment and he shrugged, turning around and through the sofa armrest, suddenly floating away from the place he was sitting and watching the screen with glazed eyes. Jack leaned forward and poked him slightly.

“Whatever you did, it worked” he said towards the ceiling and started setting up the elaborate alarm system they rigged to time the Doctor’s stay in the non-awake state.

He could not really focus on what was happening in the TV room and slowly drifted through the door, out into the corridor and up one flight of stairs, finding himself in front of her bedroom door. He tested it with his finger, but it went through, so he followed it and passed the solid metal, entering the dimly-lit interior of a dusty, slightly messy and rather… pink room.

“ah” he exhaled “so you kept it?”

“-why shouldn’t I?-“

“well, sometimes we have to jettison this or that… I remember you getting rid of a significant part of the mass once, including the original medbay”

“-we didn’t jettison anything recently, so it’s here-“

“but we did and you got rid of…”

“-Jack’s porn collection, yes-“

“he was rather miffed about that”

“-he doesn’t need it anyway-“

He blinked and turned around.

“how come you’re speaking to me so directly?”

“-you’re much more open now-“

“but…”

“-he needs your help-“

He twirled in place and floated back towards the TV room, but the sight of Jack coming down the corridor stopped him. The prone body in the Captain’s arms explained the hurry and the big man was having obvious trouble keeping his steps straight, bumping his shoulders on the walls rather painfully.

“I hope he wakes up as soon as possible” Jack murmured, trying to keep her steady. “I have no idea what might be wrong with you, Rosie, but I promise, we’ll make it better. Just stay with me, ok? Stay with me.”

Rose was getting paler with every second, but she was till breathing and warm, so whatever was wrong with her was not – not yet – fatal.

He shouldered the medbay door open and deposited her on the cot.

He floated over to her unresponsive body and surveyed it, biting his lip.

She looked so frail. Her forearms were dotted with injection spots, some sticky tape still left on her skin, probably something they used to secure the IV.

“She’s not waking up, why is she not waking up…” he mumbled, looking through the cupboards “Why am I so thick? I can’t read this stuff… He should have bloody labelled it in English!”

She stirred on the bed. In a flash they were both by her side and the lights in the room flared a bit more to the warm yellow. Then he felt suddenly as if he was falling backwards, and backwards, and through the walls, and then directly down the staircase, missing all the stairs and railings he was trying to grasp and then he jerked awake, gasping for air, and up on his feet that very second.

And he heard Jack’s disappointed cry from the medbay.

Written by Srebrna

2016/05/26 at 02:31

Two for the price of one – 5

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She felt exhausted and small black spots were fluttering in front of her eyes. She stumbled more and more often, even with his support.

He watched her weaver and looked around, searching for the best possible hiding spot. Over Rose’s head he made an expressive face to Romana, who nodded wearily, but soldiered on.

‘Rose’ he finally sighed after watching her trip over her own feet again. ‘We have to stop. You need rest.’

Her eyes shot wide open and she shook her head.

‘You do. I will run ahead, bring TARDIS here and pick you up. I’m the fastest of us three. You stay with Romana and she’ll keep you safe. Please?’

She drew a laboured breath and clung to his sleeve desperately.

‘I don’t want to leave you. I really really don’t want to leave you here, but if we want to get out of here safely, I need you to stay calm and hide with Romana. Please?’

He wasn’t expecting easy acceptance, but finally she sighed let go of his hand.

What he also wasn’t expecting was both of her hands reaching for his head and pulling him down into a fierce kiss.

It was a bit of surprise, so he didn’t respond at the first second, but in a moment he felt his awkwardness melt away – unlike with the other first kiss this body had received – and he kissed her back.

She broke it off, still holding his face in her palms and looked at him angrily. She pursed her lips and gave him a frowny, stern gaze.

‘I will. I will be back. You just hide and wait. Take this’ he pushed his screwdriver into her hands. ‘Activate it every five minutes or anytime when you feel threatened. TARDIS will zero in on it once I’m inside.’

***

He hurried up, following Romana’s instructions for the shortest route. The multitude of views on all sides of the tower was tempting him on every corner, but he kept repeating her name to make himself scale the stairs at his top speed.

Not all obstacles were as easy to pass.

‘I need some kind of identification from you, my lord.’

The guardsman seemed quite firm, young and completely indifferent to the fact that he was speaking to the Saviour of Gallifrey, ex-Lord President, etc etc etc.

He wanted an official planetary ID card with appropriate authorisation chip, and psychic paper wasn’t working at all.

‘My lord, I need you to remove yourself from this area. We’re handling a delicate situation with a construction collapse. I’m sure you will be able to use the observatorium tomorrow the latest.’

‘Actually, I may be of a help in this’ he grinned, whipping out his… Ah. ‘Well, I mean, I’ve already been there and my TARDIS should be nearby, so I could hover her outside whatever happened and help…’

‘Your TARDIS?’ the boy’s face creased in puzzlement.

‘Yes, my TARDIS. You know, the ship. Travels in time. And space. TARDIS.’

‘Ah! You mean the travel capsule. So it’s yours! Do you know how much damage you’ve made?!’

And suddenly, the lance was up, pointing at Doctor’s middle.

‘It wasn’t exactly a controlled landing, my lad’ the Doctor’s hands went slowly up and towards the tip of the weapon. ‘I was homing in on the beacon affixed on the ball thingy at the top and the landing kind of happened to me when I wasn’t paying attention’ he moved the spear aside. ‘So, would you let me go up there, remove it and let you proceed with whatever it is that needs to be done, or would you rather stand here, point that stick at me and force whoever is working there to deal with my TARDIS as it is, sitting in the middle of the wall and quite unwilling to leave?’

***

In the end, he had to resort to intimidation, and the young guard resorted to chasing him down with the magnetized spear – it was a painful way of finding out it was not purely ceremonial. Fortunately the guard’s motivation was not as strong as his own, and apparently the youth of Gallifrey were not so well versed in the science of running and hiding in twisty corridors anymore.

As soon as the young man passed his small nook, he darted out and dashed back towards the observatory in hope of reaching his TARDIS before anyone tried to force her open or move her from her parking spot.

The hole in the wall was empty.

Written by Srebrna

2015/10/23 at 00:32

But if you can still dream – 21

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Chapter 11: But only in their dreams…

But only in their dreams can men be truly free. ‘Twas always thus, and always thus will be.
Tom Schulman, in Dead Poets Society, expressed by the character John Keating

Rose: Coma

The sitting room was eerily quiet, only sounds the murmur of cars filtering through the window somewhere in the house and a humming of some household appliance. Rose’s things were still lying around, her tea mug just as she left it on the side table, her purple jacket across a chair. Jackie sat on the sofa, looking through the thick folder of medical documentation without actually reading anything.
“I wish I was a bit smarter” she finally said, breaking the silence.
Theresa’s vacuuming in the next room stopped for a moment and her face appeared in the door.
“You wanted anything, maam?”
Jackie’s smile felt as if it was cracking her skin.
“No, just talking to myself. Sorry, Theresa. Just finish the vacuuming and you can take the rest day off. I’ll order dinner in.”
The housekeeper shook her head and sighed. The house was much too empty without Miss Rose.

Pete read the short report Martha Jones had delivered with a bit more understanding than his wife. Still not much could actually be decided based on “drug coma, no sign of brain damage, significant strain on heart muscle, ventilator required” and the list of drugs required to keep Rose under as her body kept fighting the simple medicines used on normal humans.
“Do you expect any chance of improvement, doctor Jones?”
The young medic sighed, pushing the stray hair back behind her ear.
“I have no idea. With a standard human I’d say douse her with a bunch of appropriate medicines and wake up slowly. Rose however keeps waking up quickly whenever we put even a little less of the sleeping drugs in the drip. Her heart will finally give in at some point, as every time we tried to wake her up it speeds up again to 160 bpm. I’m afraid to keep her under for much longer, but I don’t see any other option. The heart medicines we’ve tried to apply to slow down her heartbeat don’t seem to have any actual effect.”
Pete worried his thumb with his teeth.
“What about some of the alien tech we’ve collected? Any… I don’t know. Criogenics? I’m almost sure we’ve had a stasis pod somewhere around.”
“Now cleared the animal testing stage, I’m afraid. We haven’t managed to wake up anything alive yet.”
“Ouch” he pursed his lips. “So we are out of options.”

They sat on the sofa in front of a black TV screen, her head on his shoulder.
“I visited Rose today” she whispered. “I read to her, they say it’s good to talk to coma patients.”
He felt a half-smirk pulling at his lips.
“What did you read?”
She huffed quietly.
“A few gossip pages, but then I thought she may be getting worse from these, so I went home and brought some of her physics books. I’m not sure I had all the pronunciation right, but at least…” she sniffed. “And then I bought a CD with someone reading Sherlock Holmes stories. Very nice voice, you know, like from the TV. I left the player there for her, the nurse promised she’ll turn it on during the night.”

A cultured, quiet voice was reciting something vaguely familiar as she struggled for air.
Everything was soft and nice, apart from whatever was covering her mouth. She didn’t have enough strength to raise her hand, so she let it be, small tears trickling down her cheek, into her hair.
This was no dream, she was quite sure. This had to be reality, plain and simple.
She was very, very sick.
On this particular evening, Lestrade had spoken of the weather and
the newspapers. Then he had fallen silent, puffing thoughtfully at his
cigar. Holmes looked keenly at him.
“Anything remarkable on hand?” he asked.
“I don’t think so, Doctor” Jack sighed, and a sound of papers being shuffled reached her ears.
She was quite sure the story didn’t have Jack or the Doctor in it. Quite.
“I’m having a vague feeling that we are missing something” Doctor’s fingers raked his hair. “Did she say anything? Anything at all? Your name, at least?”
Jack groaned.
“For once in my life I wish I was dressed. Maybe she wouldn’t have screamed so.”
“Don’t flatter yourself.”
“How do you think she’s doing it? We can safely say it’s only happening when you’re asleep – any ideas why?”
Her heart was beating so slowly, but still she could hear the pulsing blood in her ears as she struggled to get through to them, to tell them she was right here, she heard…
TARDIS made a distressed sound and both men looked up at the console.
“She’s showing something” Doctor’s voice quivered with excitement. “It’s a…” he looked around “a ghost of a vital signal? Does this make any sense?”
Jack jumped to his side and wrangled some display from benath the main console, trailing a bunch of colorful cables behind it.
“Seems it is a radiation of some sort… Whaddyacallit, void stuff?”
Doctor rolled his eyes and turned a few knobs.
Her heart picked up the pace as she watched her two favourite boys work in such an accord.
“Rose!” Jack finally exclaimed. “That’s the same radiation that was on that blanket! Something is coming through!”
“TARDIS is actually… Enhancing it? Why can’t you just…”
:You’re awake:
She felt herself falling back, back into the soft covers, the shock of being back in her own body forcing her to open her eyes. She was still hearing Jack and the Doctor panicking at the console, but around her activity exploded as multitude of medical staff ran to and fro, trying to replace the suddenly vanished drip-bag.

“We had to give her something experimental.”
Martha Jones looked like the most tired doctor in the entire England.
“Nothing standard works for long. Her body is actively fighting the drugs and neutralizing them. Actually, now most of them are getting directly expelled – she’s sweating them out. At least her heart did not reach the same BPM count as the last time she woke up, but it’s still alarming.”
Pete looked down at the piece of paper with some words scribbled on it in a hurry.
“And this is what she managed to say?”
Martha Jones grimaced unhappily.
“I’m afraid it’s not much. I’d wish for something sensible, but…”
“No, no. This is perfectly sensible” Pete Tyler shook his head. “You just have to know how to read it.”

“She thinks she’s actually crossing over to the TARDIS.”
Jackie grimaced and picked up the scrap of prescription used to write down Rose’s first words after coming out of the coma.
Doctor and captain looking for way. Have to sleep a lot a lot. Void stuff detect. TARDIS will pull me.
She looked at her husband, propped against the door frame, his hands in his pockets.
“She wants to go back” she whispered hopelessly. “My baby girl wants to go back and I have no idea how to help her.”
“Who is ‘captain’?”
“Oh, him. He’s supposed to be dead, Rose told me about him. Some kind of galactic con-man who accompanied her and the Doctor for a while. He should be dead, but is she thinks he’s with the Doctor, then he is. She said he was a time traveller, but more of a tradesman kind than a hero one, if you get my meaning.”
“So… An immortal time lord and probably-dead time-travelling scam artist are searching for some way to get her back to your old universe, she’s supposed to sleep a lot even though she keeps waking up, they will detect that void thing we’re all covered with and the police box ship is helping them to get her through?”
Jackie sniffed and nodded, wiping her nose with a hankie.
“I suppose so.”
“Then let’s hope they know what they are doing, because I’m afraid we’re out of options.”

Written by Srebrna

2014/06/10 at 02:53

But if you can still dream – 20

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To die, to sleep;

To die, to sleep;
To sleep! Perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause.
Hamlet III, 1

Doctor: Sleeping positions

His bed was messed up to an unusual degree.
Once he accepted the fact that there is, indeed, another live being on his ship when he is sleeping, the easiness of sleep itself came quite quickly. Of course he could go for weeks on weeks without more than a nap now and then. He still could. But he preferred not to, considering what could happen if he drove himself to sleep deprivation. Like his humans for all these years, who liked to sleep in, some even joking that a time-travelling ship lets them sleep millenia in one stretch, he now took his time and relaxed. A deep, proper, full-sized sleep would also come, at some point. This way he could make sure his next regeneration wouldn’t wreck his whole body and mess with his mind. No more of this – if, and it was a big IF, if he had to regenerate again, Jack will be there to oversee it, get him to medbay ASAP and check his vitals. Also, TARDIS will be able to direct Jack to whatever nutritients they would be needing, because after last time with tea (and previous – damn hard to find bananas, when one is floating in freezing water in an evening coat and too-tight suit pants!) he wanted to make sure he’d get exactly what he would need and without delay.
He lied there, looking at the ceiling, trying to understand what was different. He never planned this kind of things before. They just… happened. Companions coped. He managed. OK, not every regeneration was particularily brilliant point in his life – especially the sixth him was nothing to write home about – but he got through, survived and went on.
Now, he was planning and it was, in fact, scaring him a bit. The very fact that he sat down and explained to Jack the mechanics of regeneration, the first signs, the possible causes, risky situations, outcomes, needed materials, protocols and definite no-no’s (“Don’t give me aspirin, ever, even if I beg for it, or someone thinks it may help my heart”, “Never get me to a hospital. EVER. EVEN if you think I finally died – medbay is good enough, but if it really gets weird, or my hearts don’t start, run Protocol 3, it is coded to your voice pattern. TARDIS will lock everything and get us, top-speed, to dr Grace Holloway, San Francisco. It has to be after 1999, and she will know what to do…”, “No glucose IVs or any other nutrients intravenously – they may go the wrong way”).
He was feeling a bit queasy about giving Jack so much information about himself, but every time he thought about keeping something to himself, a small tiny thought popped up in his brain, reminding him that this, like thousand of other things, may be the detail that saves his life or sanity the next time.
Bed was messed up.
Not by him. He slept on his side, on one side of the 7 feet wide and long bed. The other side of the bed was messed and it radiated… body heat? Residue of a living being sleeping there, with him?
“Jack! What the hell!?”
He was suddenly very, very much awake. And very angry.
And then there was a scream.
A girl was screaming, scared out of her mind, but it was like a music for his ears. Even when the scream suddenly stopped and he heard kitchen implements falling with clatter, his crazy smile was widening.
“Jack!” he burst into the kitchen, where the Captain was trying, in vain, to hide his best parts with a pot and a cooking apron and looking madly at the exact spot that the Doctor was now standing on.
“D..dd….dddd…”
“At first, I thought you brought some company on board and they mistook the rooms” Doctor said in a conversational tone, leaning on the door frame. “But now I think you were quite alone today, and it was actually only me that slept… not alone.”
“Wh…? What?”
“Did you, or did you not, in fact, just got caught parading butt-naked around the kitchen and scared Rose Tyler into the next universe?”
“Doctor!”
“But that’s great!” he smiled maniacally. “That means she actually was here! I mean, look at you – well, maybe not, but still – she saw you. Did you see her? I most certainly heard her, oh yes. And TARDIS felt her existence appear and then shut down again.”
“I saw her” Jack gave up the efforts to cover himself and settled on just not showing the most important bits. Somehow getting caught naked in the kitchen twice didn’t seem as much fun as getting caught naked in his bedroom, by some appropriate person. “She was here, she looked at me, and screamed. May I tell you what it does to my self-esteem, to have girls scream with fear when they see me? May I?”
“You may not. But you may tell me what she looked like” the Doctor scrunched his nose and sat at the table. “Also, you may turn off the gas under that pan, before the eggs burn.”
After a few minutes (and one short trip to Jack’s wardrobe) they were sitting on their usual places and Jack was inhaling his scrambled eggs, trying not to choke when he related the very short story of his encounter with their most beloved friend.
“She walked in. Not appeared here, walked. When I rerun what I heard just before she showed up, I know I noticed steps in the corridor, but thought it was just something in the kitchen. Then she stood by the door, probably slightly stunned by all the beauty…”
“Captain.”
“Very well. I turned ’round, feeling eyes on my ass – a bit intrusive. She stared at me for at most two seconds and then screamed. She bent forward, still crying something, and flickered out.”
“Flickered… out?”
“Like a damn Princess Leia on a bad recording.”
“But when she was here, she was material? I mean, not see-through, or flickering?”
“No, solid, totally. And then she blinked out and in once and disappeared.”
Doctor pouted slightly, pondering the new data.
“I think… I… Well. Hm.”
“Very informative, thank you.”
Doctor snatched last half-burnt toast.
“I think I need something to eat. Also, I think – I am very hopeful! – that we can, in fact, pull her through.”

The next ship-evening he laid there, on “his” side of the bed, curled around “her” pillow. Still somewhat smelling of her.
Next morning didn’t bring anything new, but for a few blonde hair, which he collected gleefully and took to the TARDIS lab for identification.
Blonde hair turned out to be emitting – still active – void particles. Their roots, however, gave something even more interesting – the DNA of, well, human origins, but very much mutated. And the mutations were such that the Doctor stared at the readout for several good seconds before comprehending them. Including the fact that the tiny wisp of energy still stuck to these cells was pulsating with the familiar golden glow.

Written by Srebrna

2014/06/05 at 02:50

But if you can still dream – 19

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To die, to sleep;

To die, to sleep;
To sleep! Perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause.
Hamlet III, 1

Rose: Benzodiazepines

“We have no idea” the frog-like medic stated. “Your blood results are good, maybe only the iron levels are a bit too low – you could benefit from a change of diet, Miss Tyler. But in the behaviour tests I see overall slowness of response, drop in the general awareness and significant problems with concentration. How do you feel in these areas? I know that the poisoning with whatever it was – hopefully someone will identify it – might have affected your brain processes, but nobody could have predicted that the effects will last that long.”
She pursed her lips.
“I’m afraid I’m not sleeping very well lately” she answered finally. “And then during the day I can’t focus on text, I have to read the same sentence three times… It’s as if I could not take any more knowledge in. I just can’t work like this…”
He nodded, chewing the tip of his pencil.
“Your performance will be, I’m afraid, deteriorating. I’d say you should take at least three weeks of vacation,but you Torchwood freaks wouldn’t recognize vacation if it came up close and spit on your shoe.”
“I already have taken a week. This seizure came on the first day… What should I do, go home and watch TV all the time?”
He scratched back of his head in thought.
“Let me think… I’d suggest you take a dose of this” he scribbled on a notepad “and simply stay at home. Read or listen to music, no watching TV – the blinking pictures may have adverse effect. Stay as long as you need. I’m putting you on a prolonged sick leave.”
She sighed.
“What does it do?”
He looked up at her.
“The medicine. What does it do and what does it contain? I’m allergic to some drugs, so I’d rather not add asthma or spots to the whole mess.”
He recited the ingredients slowly, watching her nod at every name.
“Very well. Here’s your prescription. Pick the stuff up in the hospital apothecary. They will be expecting you.”
Bedside manner from hell. How did he became a doctor?
Dismissed, she stood up and slowly walked to the door.

She fell backwards on her bed and looked at the label. Of course the booklet inside the box was thicker than the capsule holder and she totally disregarded it, only taking a look at the “adverse drug reactions”.
Lots. Aw, hell.

Of course she got at least half of the list of these. Her throat was sore and somehow constricted, her left hand was a bit stiff and she would have sworn someone had wrapped her brain in cotton candy.
She got up quietly, putting the cover back over his sleeping form and sneaked out to the corridor. She more felt her way forward than saw it – her brain still working on low power, eyes not quite catching the details, ears…
Someone was singing.
The voice carried along the corridor with firmness, self-assuredness and openness of a professional singer. It was a rich, strong but surprisingly mellow tenor which reminded her of something, but she couldn’t quite place what.
Before she made a conscious decision, there she was, standing in the door to TARDIS kitchen, the most homey room on the whole ship.
Lights were low, but the stove lamp was lit so she could take in all the peculiarity of the scene – a pan full of scrambled eggs, a stack of half-burned toast on a plate, a butter dish and, in the middle of it, singing “Can you feel the love tonight” into the whisk, dancing and making wild gestures was a dead man. Naked.
She apparently stood there for a bit too long – took some time to analyse her observations – because he turned.
She saw the perfect face, slightly tousled hair, sculpted muscle and the infuriating smile that made women (and some men) swoon at the very sight of him.
His lips moved, eyes widened, he was saying something, walking to her, reaching out, but she didn’t hear, didn’t see, didn’t think. She screamed.

“Seizure!” the nurse cried, as the body on the table tensed up and contorted painfully. The attendants grabbed a flailing limb each and held Rose down on the bed.
“As you see” Martha Jones gestured helplessly. “We have no new ideas. Or, rather, they have no idea, as I have been denied access to Rose’s records.”
Pete Tyler twisted his gloves in desperation as he watched his wife look forlornly at Rose through the thick glass.
“I’ll make sure you get authorised” he uttered finally. “No way they are treating her like a test subject. I won’t be able to be here all the time. Even then they would probably be able to go behind my back. You will make sure they understand that for cutting up Rose they will pay by being cut themselves. Cut away from the employee list at least” He squeezed his eyes shut. “If they cannot come to any reasonable solution, we’ll take her back home. Can I rely on you, doctor Jones?”
She nodded slowly, wondering what she got herself into.
“You will need details that are in Rose’s Torchwood personnel file. When you read it, you will understand why it is of utmost importance not to let these… butchers… find any reason to cut Rose open or try any invasive treatment.”
Jackie turned to them, determination shining in her face.
“Doctor Jones, my daughter is something special. I’m not saying this because she’s my little girl. She may be, when time comes, the only person who can save this whole universe. And I like this one as much as my previous one – even better, considering Pete here – I’d much rather it stayed as it is. Oh, stop it, Pete. She will read Rose’s file, mine too, if she wants, and it’s all there. Doctor Jones” she turned to the astonished medic. “Rose was born to me and Peter Tyler who died before she even walked. We, and one other, were transported to this reality a bit under two years ago, and have replaced two persons who were killed at that time.”
“Cybermen” Martha whispered.
“Jackie Tyler of this world was converted” Pete’s voice was hard and low. “Jackie agreed to stay in her place.”
“Only Rose never existed here, so we had to create a backstory for her. So, of course, parts of her medical history are sham, only put there to explain her visible scars and some changes that might have occurred.”
“But couldn’t you have just given the real explanation? After all, any accidents she might have had couldn’t be so different from what could happen here… Could they?”
“Werewolf scratching across her back, 1800’s stitching. Laser burns. Non-earth colourings in her tattoo. If watched through red-green 3D glasses, she is surrounded by a swarm of shining particles. Enough?”
“She is also mildly telepathic, highly empathic and has slight telekinetic abilities” Jackie added. “Do you feel we could have included any of this in a normal report?”
Martha Jones, MD, just nodded.
A day (and a sleepless night) later a very determined Martha Jones was standing in front of the main desk and repeating her demand. Finally, after the third recitation of her authorisations, the guard gave up and let her in. She noted his name carefully. Pete will want to know.
After an evening of extensive reading and a night talking to Pete and Jackie, she had, finally, knowledge on which she could base her analysis of Rose’s health. And also re-evaluate whatever she herself diagnosed before.
Which was a lot.
“Basing on the blood samples, Rose is no longer human. No human being would have been able to live with these mineral levels, low sugar and, well, several other abnormalities. I will have to cook up results that will give a diagnosis of severe anaemia and some general infection. Giving her supplements and general antibiotics – with reference to her allergy listing, of course – may help her and will give the team something to do. Also, it seems that this situation is a recent development – her last blood test was only five days ago – and based on it, your Torchwood physician prescribed the pills – it was showing slight iron deficiency, nothing more interesting.”
Pete nodded and simply turned his laptop towards her, an application to falsify blood results already running.
“There is, though, another and much graver problem” Martha had his attention immediately. “Her sleep patterns. She doesn’t sleep. No more than an hour per day.
“Although Rose is, as I said, probably non-human, we have never yet met a species that would be able to survive on next to no sleep. Rose’s EEG shows that even when we perceive her as sleeping, her brain is still working at full speed. Only for an hour or so she goes into what would be, for any of us, a light sleep. No deep sleep phase, no REM – only an hour of barely useful nap every twenty-six hours or so.”
“That means brain damage?” Pete has seen people go without sleep for much longer than was healthy for them.
“Not necessarily” Martha bit her lower lip. “The blood results may be an outcome or be linked to the sleeping problems. She may be suffering no damage at all. If her physiology has been altered enough to cope with the blood abnormalities, it may also be coping with no sleep. But I don’t know, frankly, ANY species with such ability.”
Jackie made a strangled noise. The other two looked at her suspiciously as she raked her perfectly coiffed hair with her fingers.
“I know one” she finally uttered.
Pete sat straighter suddenly.
“You think…?”
“I suppose so.”
“Damn.”
Martha waited, suddenly no longer the centre of attention. And quite glad about that. She was a physician, not a xenologist, and her knowledge of aliens was limited to the humanoid ones that have been apprehended by Torchwood. Finally, the pair returned their focus to her.
“What are the real risks here, doctor?”
She inhaled slowly.
“Starting from the ‘human’ risks – as you said, brain damage, personality disorders, ataxia, aphasia, anything, basically. Any other? Well, hard to estimate without knowing the physiology of whatever species she is mutating into, but I suppose similar, including additional physical changes, and, if the change in total is too large, organs shutdown. For the time being, she is staying without contact with us, but her brain is working full-speed, as if she was completely conscious. Her heart rate is 160, BP almost 145/110. This means she’s burning down energy in a rate that is hard to equal by the ‘safe’ IV nutrients we can give her. Also, if this goes for much longer, her heart is going to sustain damage. The options we have now is either putting her into deeper sleep – to make her brain and heart slow down – or try to wake her up in order to check what is actually going on with her.”
Jackie’s eyes jumped nervously from the doctor to her husband.
“Do we have any safe drugs that would keep her in deeper state of sleep for long enough?”
“Fortunately, yes. She had no adverse reaction to Thitrax, so we can give her the deep-coma amount safely and work from there” she rubbed her eyes and nose tiredly. “However, there is always a risk that she won’t wake up from this. I have no way of even guessing the state of her brain – what it is supposed to be and how badly it’s screwed up now. I’m sorry. But I’d rather say it now, then surprise you with this when she doesn’t came back.”
“But if you try to wake her up now…?” Jackie’s lips trembled.
“Her heart will probably give in. And I frankly can’t say what we could do about it, as transplant would probably be out of question.”
Pete drew his wife closer.
“Deep coma. At least we will still have options then.”

Written by Srebrna

2014/06/01 at 01:45

But if you can still dream – 18

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I talk of dreams

I talk of dreams;
Which are the children of an idle brain,
Begot of nothing but vain fantasy.
Romeo and Juliet I, 4

Doctor: Narcolepsy

Jack stood in front of a fairly high-strung Time Lord and demanded, openly and directly, to be heard.
“As long as I’m here as a passenger, I don’t want to spend my days considering the chance that you will get us killed. Not that it is a problem – I can buy most supplies anywhere we go, but restarting hurts.”

Doctor finally gave in. He promised to teach Jack proper TARDIS flying, as the method used until now wasn’t working (probably due to TARDIS reacting a bit sluggishly to Jack’s commands). Now he was paying for it.
“The first thing is to understand properly the time-space phenomenons we may come across. Now, you as a Time Agent should have had at least a basic course on this, but I suppose your studies would have been more in area of regulations and practical application. On Gallifrey they taught us to feel the time and to read from that feeling. First you need to understand what various things you might feel – or see on our girl’s sensors, as your human senses may be unable to catch some nuances. Afterwards I will show you how to interpret the printouts, screen readings and, if we manage to, will get you at least a tiny smattering of Gallifreyan. I have to warn you, human brain may not cope well with that.”
“I have lots of free time” the captain joked dryrily. “I can cram when we’re out in the vortex.”
“So” the Doctor rubbed his hands together. “Let’s go bookhunting. You will have tons of reading material before we finish today!”
This sounded like a threat.

In four more hours the heap of books started resembling a small hill and Doctor wasn’t stopping.

Doctor was, in fact, fascinated by the idea. Finally teaching someone to fly his ship, maybe refreshing his own rusty skills and checking, just in case, if everything was working as it was supposed to – apart from chameleon arch, which he knew perfectly well was working by now, with Jack helping with the repairs.
One thing was missing, which was the main primer on multidimensional geometry of closed areas.
He was a tiny bit tired already, but that book had to be somewhere here. Shaking his head he turned to them and suggested they just pile the collected books anywhere comfortable. Both got rid of their burden by the next table and looked at him expectantly as he climber the ladder. He heard their giggling and his hearts jumped a bit, trying not to look at them before he gets the jealousy of his face.
Fortunately he found a distraction and an aim – he had to visit an old friend to retreive the book.
Of course, they made fun of him. As if Ninth obsession with bananas was anything to laugh at. Heroically he left them there, between bookshelves, still trying to get rid of accumulated dust from their hair and clothes… Stop that line of thought, you idiot! They are just friends!
Their conversation quieted as soon as he made the second turn.
Three down, one across, three up, two zobrax and third yellow bricked doorway on the left.
They exchanged silent greetings, three books were returned and a bunch of bananas changed hands – the Librarian kept his stores of fruit on the top shelf of the History of the Ice Giants bookcase.
As Doctor was leaving, he recalled something and turned back, handing his friend a rolled-up copy of “Modern Book Conservation” leaflet. In return, he was handed a modest but still significantly pointy hat.
When he finally got back to them, she looked a bit unfocused and he saw her head jerking as if she tried to look at their friend and just couldn’t. Even as he strode towards them, talking lightly about where he just came from, he saw her body spasm and jerk, so he dashed to her and tried to hold her immobile. Suddenly her head came up and smacked him right in the chin and he shook his head and recoiled from the impact.
“Doctor! Doctor, are you ok? What were you… were you walking around with your eyes closed?”
He drew breath with effort. Feeling slightly weak, he felt around for the object he collided with. Finally focusing his eyes he saw one of the bigger containers, slightly sticking out of it’s shelf, just enough for him to walk into it and hit himself right in the face.
“I think there’s something wrong” he uttered finally. “I think I may be getting ill.”
Jack looked at him with suspicion.
“Was it a Rose-dream again?”
Doctor sat more comfortably with his back to a stack of books.
“Yes. But they seem to get more… more inline with the reality. The first ones were completely disconnected, seemed like dreams. Later they started to be flashbacks of something we did… then corrected flashbacks and now they fit in seamlessly into what is before them. I can’t even start to guess they are dreams, the only indicator is that Rose appears then. And, to tell the truth” he sighed heavily “even when I notice her, I order my brain to suppress the thought of this being a dream.”
Jack sat across from him and propped his elbows on his knees.
“Why? Do you just want to hold on to any contact with her, even like this?”
Doctor scratched his head, leaving his hair in worse disarray than ever before.
“Probably. Yes. But not only. I hope… I hope at some point I can find out what exactly is happening. Some of them just are, but remember, we have that blanket and flipflop. And they were hers, definitely. And used on a beach in France. And I lost one of my jackets, so I suppose it might have gone the other way and she has it now.”
Both sat in silence for a moment.
“Maybe you should get checked out? I know there’s nobody who could help you, really, but maybe TARDIS can check your vitals, to make sure we’re not missing… well, maybe if we tried, we could get her here permanently?”
Doctor’s eyes brightened.

Written by Srebrna

2014/05/27 at 01:00

But if you can still dream – 17

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I talk of dreams

I talk of dreams;
Which are the children of an idle brain,
Begot of nothing but vain fantasy.
Romeo and Juliet I, 4

Rose: Meditation

Three weeks after the attempt at vacation, Rose’s condition was desribed as “satisfactory”. She apparently didn’t suffer any “adverse effects” of her “episode”. Even the newspapers stopped blaring about her supposed drug addiction, especially after the catastrophe at the debutante ball (one based on two dresses being identical and one of them getting slashed with a bread knife).
Rose, with her satisfactory condition, was now reclining comfortably on her bed, made with high pillows and bottle green cover, trying to somehow manage her ennui. Boredom was making her want to do something, anything, even though most activities were forbidden – and some were strictly forbidden – in her state of health.
She tried to drown her excessive awareness in several mindless pursuits, starting from reading Jackie’s stack of romance novels, through reviewing lab results and ending on watching soap opera channel. Each lasted no more than a few hours and her restlessness already showed in the way the house was thorougly cleaned, the books stacked and restacked in boith library and living room, Tony’s toys cleaned and fixed, where needed, and now she was trying to force herself to finally lie down.
Inside something was pushing her to go, to do, to create or destroy, to simply act, whatever the act itself would be, to change things, maybe to discover, to–
Her breath came in short gasps when she finally managed to calm down. A panic attac, caused solely by the limitations of her own body, sped up her heart rate so much that she felt her pulse drumming into each cell of her system. Watching her palms slowly pulse white-pink-white-pink-white she counted, with watch in the other hand, 15 seconds, 30 beats. 120 per minute. Still a bit too quick, but if this was what she could gain when she calmed down, she wasn’t going to try for a slower one. Definitely not wanting to get worked up again and do some irreparable damage to herself.
The “episode” was finally ascribed to an overwhelming allergic reaction, almost on the brink of shock, to some specific chemical compound found in her sunblock. Fortunately Tony had no sign of these same problems, even though his lotion came from the same brand. Anyway the series was being recalled from distribution and customers were crowding the company’s chain shops, demanding their money back.
Rose stopped Pete from suing the company, reminding him that none of them wished her to be studied and checked for specific reasons for reaction. She herself had no idea what might have caused it – whatever happened in the previous years might have redone part of her immune system to the level which would not tolerate substances normally not harmful to humans.
She lied back, trying to purge her overclocked brain of everything, but each time she finally managed to achieve the blissfull level of relaxation which granted her only the abstract view of caleidoscopic spots, spinning slowly on glittery black background, something intruded into her absolute peace, starting with an overexcited squirell outside her windows.
Finally she had her windows shut, curtains drawn, doors closed, Theresa away in the kitchen and not checking on her every minute, mobile phone muted and the landline disconnected. And the nice, glowing black was back in her mind, swirling with jeweltone sparks and spots, slowly spiralling towards the center and suddenly he was there, turning, turning, turning towards her, his smile, his hair, his glowing eyes, and the black was fading, slowly fading, and it disappeared somewhere in the wall or in the floor or in him or in her and he was talking, at her, actually talking…
“…and it should be somwehere around this corner. I’m pretty sure I left it there, just let me have a look. You can put yours on the floor there.”
They dumped the books they were holding unceremoniusly on the huge central table. After having carried them through half of the library they were already dusty, and when Doctor climbled yet another ladder and started to browse the top shelf, they discreetly dusted each other off, giggling over Doctor’s mutterings.
“Ah, yes. Just as I thought. We have to make a few more turns” he slid down the ladder, holding a banana in one hand.
“Are you going to eat it now?” she burst into uncontrolled laughter, not really knowing why.
“By no means, my dear lady. It’s a sign and I don’t eat signs.”
He snorted.
“A sign? Doctor, who could be leaving you bananas as signs? Your previous self?”
Doctor looked a bit hurt at this supposition.
“Of course not. It would have spoilt if it waited that long. Well, it could have, depending on when he would have left it. But no, definitely not. One of my fellow Librarians left it there, letting me know he took the book. Ook.”
They both blinked.
“Just wait here and I’ll be back in no time at all.”
They stared in the small corridor he entered, but couldn’t even hear his steps anymore.
Rose felt there was something very, very wrong with her eyes. Whenever she tried to look at her companion, her sight slid to one side. She knew there was someone there, but the aversion agains looking at him – definitely a he – was so strong she couldn’t even focus properly to think about his name. Before she could go deeper and analyze her feelings, Doctor was back, holding a whole bunch of bananas, three books and a pointy hat.
“Good chap. Terribly useful with high shelves. I envy him – never needs a ladder or a stepstool. Well. I have what I needed, and now we should set up the working area. …., go to the kitchen and bring me the biggest pot we have.”
When he addressed the man next to her, she felt her fear anxiety nervousness revulsion rise and a burning sensation woke up in her middle. Suddenly she was bending in half, jaws locked and she saw his eyes darken and widen and his hand was on her arm, holding her up and shaking her slightly.
“Rose? Rose? Are you awake?”
Pete’s voice got through to her consciousness.
She tried saying something, but gagged on her dust-dry tongue and shook in a silent shudder. Finally she managed to nod and breathe shakily.
“You’re going for a checkup tomorrow” her mother’s words were short and sharp. “No more slepping pills for you, my lady. Day and a half asleep is way too much.”
She blinked and nodded, trying to stop the world around her from swimming.
She didn’t remember taking any pills.

Written by Srebrna

2014/05/22 at 00:30

Two for the price of one – 4

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He was so different.

She watched him whenever he turned away – which wasn’t often – and compared in her mind.

‘Looks a bit like a crazy windmill with all this handwaving and headsmacking’ she mused as he jabbered away in Gallifreyan – finally she knew what is going on with the language – with the medic – a Time Lady? – and watched her carefully at the same time. He looked scared. When she made her little pantomime about being hit, he almost crumbled as he begged her for the relief she couldn’t give him. The fear in his voice was what hit her the most. Until this moment she wasn’t really sure it was him – but who else would have been so broken about her being hurt?

After all, she was nothing – nobody cared, nobody would help her, nobody could be bothered… and he had been an universe away.

After considering it, she noticed that she actually felt better with him regenerated. Not that she didn’t miss his previous face – as long as it was actually his face, not the other one’s face – but deep inside she felt that she would never be able to trust that other face again. She never wanted to wake up next to that body again, whichever soul inhabited it. She much rather preferred the new body with the soul and the mind she knew and could count on.

The guard was in the room, she never noticed him coming, so deep in thought she was. They were arguing, again in Gallifreyan, but both Romana and the Doctor seemed to be putting themselves between her and the new arrival. She got the Doctor’s attention and he confirmed her fears – locals wanted to get rid of her. And he was arguing with the local authorities about her. Just like the old times.

He sounded somehow more… tired than the one she knew. Even on his non-regeneration day he was more lively, this one was slightly greyer, much less suntan, clothes somewhat more muted… Oh, English again.

He was asking her to run.

Well, if she couldn’t write, maybe she could run. Or at least stumble effectively.

She cracked a smile. She’ll try as hell to stumble as fast as possible.

***

The guard seemed to be waiting for something. As the something would probably mean manpower, Doctor made the decision and pushed Rose ahead of himself, with Romana, towards the door.

‘Whoever sent you, tell them I’m dealing with this crisis’ he smiled charmingly. ‘Bye!’

And they run, the corridors of the medical centre having no secrets for Romana. Rose kept up with visible effort, so he caught her elbow and supported her whenever she faltered. She must have been laying down for quite a time, to lose that much of the muscle tone. One more thing for the TARDIS to check and treat.

He was almost sure the guard would not follow them. He didn’t seem the type to try to pursue them on his own, and before he could manage to organise backup, they would be long gone.

‘Which way to the observatory now?’

‘Why in the galaxies would you need to get there?’ Romana asked, gasping.

‘I… Kind of parked there’ he finally provided.

‘How can you kind of park?’

He rolled his eyes expressively.

‘Are you going to argue about my language, or will you tell me which way we should run if we don’t want to end up back in the hospital wing?’

She puffed out her cheeks and looked around.

‘The lift up here, then a corridor to the left, across a fountain square and over the small bridge, we’ll be in the right tower. I only hope nothing was damaged, she’s not going to be able to keep up if we have to climb.’

He breathed deeply and pressed his palm to his forehead.

‘You will have to stay here. Just don’t wander away, clear? I will bring the TARDIS over here and pick you up. Just. Stay. Put.’

Both females scowled at him and he rubbed his face in weariness and sighed.

‘Very well. Let’s go up as far as Rose can follow and find a good spot. Just… just tell me as soon as you can’t keep up, you hear me?’ he poked her in the shoulder. ‘I just found you.’

She smiled bravely.

***

She was so different.

He watched her whenever she turned away. Wasn’t that often, as she was watching almost every move he made.

It made him a bit nervous and his movements got even more erratic.

It was definitely not the only thing that made him nervous, as he was feeling the strain of a long day that just wouldn’t end. He really, really needed as rest. Not a post-regen rest, but he would pay anything for a sofa, a pillow and a cuppa.

Not anything. Almost anything. He wasn’t letting her go, not as long as he had any chance of getting them all to safety.

His people were bonkers, definitely. He just saved their sorry backsides and this was how they repaid him, eh? He wouldn’t stand for this. No, sir, Lord Councilman, he wouldn’t. He would take both his girls up to his TARDIS and sail away as quick as possible, just to make sure…

Actually, make sure of what? What would they do to Rose?

He asked this question aloud, turning to Romana.

“I suppose they would want to either throw her out – and that would be bad on a normal day – or transport her to one of the facilities away from the capital. We have a few choice locations for “non-aligned” citizens, after all” she answered with a grim frown. “Or, if she was unlucky, they would want to discover who and what she is, even if only to track down her family and take them in, too.”

Rose rolled her eyes – as Romana finally switched to English, she could follow the whole conversation.

“Well, let’s just make sure that there is nobody there to be taken away, thrown out or transported – or anything else – and get to the TARDIS. I wonder if I could cash in on that hero of the day status I’m supposed to have and get us a free passage out of here.”

Romana shrugged expressively.

“You might try, but some of the most astonishingly single-minded people got transferred down here, to Medical, so we would have to get out of this area before they call in the administration and arrange full-size hunt. They won’t really be very impressed by you. Some of them didn’t actually, well, believe in what is going on outside. Quite put out by power outages or need for evacuating some buildings.”

He felt slightly nauseous. He would have to fight the people he just saved in order to save yet another life? How could anyone be that stupid? How was it logical? Wasn’t he allowed even a bit of leniency?

Ha squashed this thought like a bug. He remembered the same things running through his mind so many years ago, just before his short phase of feeling the smartest thing in the living universe, and he still remembered how it hurt to be brought down to ground by someone with better principles. He shuddered.

But still, his actions today must have won him some credit with the general population, so the faster they got out of the Medical, the better chance they had of gaining some support.

Yep. Sure.

Somewhere behind them a door clanged open.

They run.

He liked the way her hand felt in his.

Written by Srebrna

2014/02/12 at 03:58

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