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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

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 – 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

Two for the price of one – 1

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Ever since watching the 50th anniversary special THIS was following me. No idea, really, how it should end, but I hope it will end somehow (unlike some of my other stories).

***

He was so tired.

He was tired, but he simply had to see this through.

Gallifrey Falls No More – could he had given himself a hint even a bit less subtle? And that “Who knows” still sent shivers down his spine. And revisiting the favourites? Well, he’d have to learn something new in order to do that. Not every male Time Lord had the ability to even steer their regeneration in the general direction of what they wanted (he never got ginger, after all) and even they couldn’t just, well, roll back to the previous bodies. Once a form was used, it was lost.

And even with the hint and the premonitions he had a lot of hard work still before him, and the slight suspicion that he was missing something big – maybe not planet-sized but still big – wasn’t really helping. Sometimes he felt his brainpower just shunting to the side to resolve that vague impression instead of doing the proper work of finally finding his home planet.

What he really hoped for was finding Gallifrey and being informed that he was just a little bit late and that the President had died of injuries just before they went into stasis (not to mention someone conveniently having shot him when he was incapacitated during regeneration, just to make sure he stays dead). Wouldn’t this be nice? No Rassilon to deal with, no need to confront his once-friend and wannabe puppet master, much less hassle, eh? Well, he would take what he could get, and if that meant facing Rassilon on the touchy subject of him driving the Master mad, well, he could work with that.

He kept seeing double and he really hoped it wasn’t some new, interesting effect of time distortion. Main console seemed slightly out of sync with the rest of the control room and it seemed to take so long to find the right keys…

‘You really should get some sleep.’

‘Look who’s talking’ he grunted.

‘You.’

He only shrugged. He couldn’t really argue with himself – even if the other self was the previous one.

He was also a hallucination – slash – TARDIS supported hologram. He wasn’t exactly sure which, but he felt somewhat comforted by his presence all the same.

‘You will be able to think after you have a nap, really.’

‘You’re nagging.’

‘Yep. You left Clara at home so I have to nag. Go, sleep. You’ll do this much faster if you do. Also, you may find the answer to the additional question.’

He turned to face his holo-double.

‘Which is?’

‘What the hell am I missing’ the other him snorted. ‘It’s driving you mad, isn’t it? So just go, get some shut-eye and get back to this in a few hours. After all, Gallifrey isn’t going anywhere, right?’

He rolled his eyes expressively, but gave up.

***

Sleeping helped a bit, but not that much.

Also, his double was temporarily gone. Maybe TARDIS shut him down when he finally listened.

The calculations were almost done, giving him a good estimate of the area in space he should search – not that small, at least a dozen of Sol systems would happily fit in it without even touching, but still, it was better than just “out there”.

***

She was hurting – not in some specific spot, but just hurting. Her eyes, especially, she felt them growing hot and cold, in waves. She could hear movement around her and hear voices, but the language sounded so strange she couldn’t even pinpoint the possible place on Earth it may come from. It didn’t sound like any European language she spoke, or even the ones she could remember ever hearing.

There were things on her arms which felt like restraints, but she didn’t have strength to fight them. Also, she could feel an IV line connected, so she could at least guess that she was, in fact, in a hospital.

Maybe we were in an accident? Oooh, that’s why I don’t understand anything – I got hit in the head and something broke… Not good, girl, not good. You’re gonna communicate with them somehow.

Ouch, my eyes.

Someone put a cooling compress on her eyelids and she actually welcomed the slight sting of an injection with relief.

Asleep, finally.

***

The calculations. They were a stroke of genius, simply. He couldn’t be happier with himself – he still didn’t know which one, but he suspected he must have punched in the code the moment he stopped burning after his regeneration from the Warrior. Sometimes he was sick, sometimes he was hungry, or crazy. Sometimes he was brilliant and inspired. He didn’t exactly remember waking up after that regeneration – just that the mirror in the wardrobe was smashed – but he definitely must have done at least three things. Start the calculations, get changed and lock the memories of the Warrior from direct contact.

He could remember being the Warrior by now, again, although it was still a bit patchy in places, but there was a big gap from the moment he started glowing to sometime around landing in the docs just as the Titanic was getting prepared for the journey.

He could live with that – he had other gaps like this, after all. At times they would suddenly fill in and he knew there was something important and dangerous hidden in them, dangerous enough for Warrior – or the next him – keeping it covered until certain signal comes. Well, hopefully this one wouldn’t interfere with his current plan and he was really grateful to himself for having set up this calculating routine, the observation procedures that were collecting data for the last – khm – years and combining it into an array of information that provided him with all the gravitational anomalies he could wish for, ever. Also, with several other kinds of anomalies, including unexpected neutrino streams and several interesting kinds of radiation, all layered one onto another and delivering him the almost-exact location of a tiny hiccup in space and time which might have, but didn’t actually have to be, the sign of the pocket universe containing stasis-frozen Gallifrey.

Now, what he would need to do when he finds it… Well. He would have really appreciated some actual company – the other him was cool, but someone he could touch would have been so much better. Not Clara, though. He didn’t really want to risk Clara and she confessed she remembered her short stay on Gallifrey (still mind-boggling) and she didn’t really care for meeting all those people again.

So here he was, alone, with a hallucination-hologram for company and an unclear goal…

‘You’re doing it again.’

‘What?’ he didn’t even turn to look at himself.

‘No idea, really, but definitely not what you are supposed to do.’

He walked into his line of view, all insolent smile, trainers and ‘brainy specs’.

‘Come on, you are supposed to help me!’

‘Not really, no. I’m supposed to nag and push you. I can’t help you, as in telling you what to do – I only know what you know and what she knows’ he gestured vaguely around. ‘If you don’t know what you’re missing and she doesn’t know what you mean, I can’t help.’

‘You’re annoying.’

‘But I got you to rest, that’s positive. Thinking any better today, eh? Old brain cells finally firing up? Lately they seemed a bit sluggish.’

‘No need to be offensive’ he frowned and moved around the console. ‘Oh, this was brilliant. Exquisite. I never would have… Well, apparently I did, but I still don’t remember how!’

‘What are you raving about this time?’

‘Oh. I’ve set this thing up to gather all the data… you stupid, why are you asking me about this? You are in there, you should know’ he moved a slide up and a whole new array of buttons rode up from behind the main keyboard. ‘All this data, all this information… you must have access to it.’

The holo frowned, blinked and seemed to be thinking. He never knew he looked that weird when deep in thought.

‘I think I found it’ he finally uttered. ‘It’s weird. I know what they mean, but I don’t… who did it?’

He clapped and hooted.

‘I even blocked the TARDIS from remembering about it, yay!’

‘Or TARDIS is simulating me not remembering’ the brown-suited holo added.

‘You’re messing with me’ he pointed a finger at the holo.

‘Sure. Nobody else around to get on your nerves, you gotta have an imaginary friend then.’

‘Or an imaginary fiend. Imaginary… menace. I-ma-gi-na-ry-meee-nace’ he sang, strolling around the readouts and monitors. ‘You seen this?’ he pointed and the holo rolled his eyes.

‘Yeah. You mean that little blinking spot? Seen it. Been there for the last minute or so.’

‘You’re useless’ he muttered again.

‘I can hear you.’

‘You are meant to. Anyway. We’ve narrowed the scope of search to a very, very tiny area. Volume. Now the question is, what do we do with it? How do we get them out?’

‘How did you get them in in the first place?’ the holo leaned against a pillar, his coat slightly sinking into the structure.

‘Well, I had help. Some help. You. I mean, him, me, in your version. You know.’

‘But you needed them only for the pure, machine, power. You had all the calculations on your sonic’ he pointed ‘and you just needed the other TARDISes to work with it properly. You didn’t need them for the solution itself.’

He shook his head.

‘I could really use another head. Or two, or twelve, in fact. My own just doesn’t work correctly. Not that I’m going mad, as…’ he trailed off.

‘Yes?’ the holo whispered finally.

‘How they did it the last time. Not how I did it, because one way can work completely different than the other, but how they did it. They broke out of a time lock, linking to the Master. They had a, a, a lifeline. They threw a White Star at him, after all. And he pulled them in. Now if only I could think about something that could reach inside…’

***

It wasn’t actually that hard after all. Blood worked best for everybody and although Doctor wasn’t very happy to admit it, he did have a close relative or two still – hopefully – alive during the Time War and living at home. Using something that the holo christened “hi-tech voodoo doll” he tried to create a link to the interior of the pocket universe, only to see it go suddenly “fizz” instead of the expected “snap”.

He didn’t exactly curse, but the collection of animal names from Salxyfatoria he growled made the holo shake his head.

‘You should make sure you don’t use these in front of company. Especially the xenologists. You know they consider these to be quite vile.’

‘Why do you think I’m using them now?’ he threw his arms up in exasperation. ‘If only I had had enough foresight to leave a marker on Gallifrey itself, it all would have been so simple. Something obvious and common so that everyone would…’

Silence was only broken by his hissing breath and TARDIS’ slight rumbling.

The holo chewed his lip in expectation.

He turned slowly to face his double.

‘Are you telling me I did actually leave a marker?’

‘No-pe’ the ‘p’ was explosive. ‘I’m not telling you anything you don’t know already.’

Written by Srebrna

2013/12/14 at 21:37

But if you can still dream – 16

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A dream itself is but a shadow.

A dream itself is but a shadow.

Hamlet II, 2

Doctor – Hallucinations

He was still analysing the damn sand.

Jack stood patiently in the door to the laboratory, trying not to make any “come on, hurry up” noises and mostly succeeding. Doctor, anyway, gave up.

“What?”

“We need to make a stop for food. You’ve been after this poor cup of sand for the last two or three days. Leave it, we’re going shopping.”

The Doctor rolled his eyes expressively.

“And don’t you do this again, or your face will freeze like this” Jack strode inside the lab and grabbed Doctor’s hand. “I’m going shopping and you’re coming with me. If nothing else, for the simple reason that you complained for two days about lack of pears after my last trip. Now, my dear lady. Get us to some nice, seaside town, preferably with human-edible food, a mall or a fruit market will be a plus. We’ll be staying at least for a day. He needs to get some air.”

Of course, nothing could be that easy. On their approach to the planet, TARDIS went out of Vortex high in the air and followed an airplane (into which they almost crashed) over a big stretch of water. Due to their close proximity they were able to observe (and prevent further problems with) a sizeable rift in space that the airplane almost flew into. The passengers turned out to be local notables, heading towards the local equivalent of United Nations.

As both transports headed towards the land, grateful thanks from the pilots’ cabin in Jack’s and Doctor’s ears, the Captain was making the shopping list and Doctor preparing to land somewhere possibly inconspicuous near the beach.

Jack’s smile and abundance of local credits bought them fresh fruit, samples of local cheeses and a sack of vegetables, which they brought into the TARDIS and dumped in the cold room. Even when they were finished with this task, Jack didn’t allow the Doctor to shut himself in the lab yet again, but bodily dragged him towards the stretch of sand which bordered impossibly, audaciously even, blue water.

The Doctor sat on a boulder, jacket over his shoulder, and surveyed their surroundings.

“Did you know that the water in the local seas has universe-wide fame as beauty products source? It has a perfect combination of salts and flora, making it a prime mud masks basis” he smiled lazily. “Local girls are known for their beauty and swimming skills – even the poorest ones can afford to dive for the ingredients.”

Jack shot him a suspicious look.

“You want to get rid of me, or what?”

“Naah, just sayin’. Don’t mind me.”

He leaned back and threw his head back, looking at the beach sidewalk border upside-down.

A flash of pink and blue between the trees, and a head of blonde hair, and…

He froze in place. She was here. She was HERE, he was not dreaming about it, she simply was here, just twenty steps away. And suddenly she was whirling around, looking at the sea and he felt the universe hiccup and she wasn’t there and then anymore, she was there and thirty minutes before, and his timesense whirled around him, making seeing her one of the most nausea-inducing experiences in his life (up there in the top three, including Jack Harkness being brought to life and his own 6th regeneration) and he was seeing her watching TARDIS land and Jack’s face as he shook him back to consciousness.

“You went and took a stupid pill? You could get sick, watching…”

“Rose was here.”

This had the power of shutting up Captain Jack pretty quickly.

“You’re kidding.”

“No, she was there, between the trees, when we were landing. She saw the TARDIS, waved at it, and disappeared. I swear I saw her.”

His companion sighed and closed his eyes in an exaggerated gesture of ‘you-must-be-joking’.

“How come you saw her now if she was there half an hour or so ago?”

Doctor blinked. He was still seeing some things that looked stuck in the wrong time. The trees which were moving in the wind and standing still at the same time. People who never came out from the trees they disappeared behind. Dog that barked without opening its mouth.

“Jack…”

“Yeah?”

“We’re getting out. There is something wrong. With me. Have to get back to the TARDIS. Now.”

The urgency in Doctor’s voice spurred Jack into movement. In seconds he was holding Doctor’s jacket in one hand and supporting his stumbling friend with the other. As soon as they stepped through the door, Doctor knelt, holding one arm over his head, as if trying to keep his skull in place.

“What is happening?”

Bloodshot eyes looked up at Jack.

“If we’re lucky, something that will pass. If we’re not, something permanent. If you’re not a praying man, Captain, some would say it’s a time to pick up this habit. Crap. My head is spinning and I see things split in time. As if my eyes worked in different times.”

He blinked, first both eyes, then each of them separately.

“Rassilion, this is not good. Actually, I see only two things in the same way. Good luck is that one of them is TARDIS.”

Jack picked him up and started slowly walking towards the medbay.

“The other one?”

Doctor hiccuped and screwed his eyes shut.

“You. But, on the other hand, you sound as if you were synced with a delay. I hear what you say, but I don’t see you saying it. At least I’m not getting cross-eyed looking at you.”

He was propped on one of the beds and Jack brought the diagnostic station to check him out. When he was trying out the fourth reader, a soft chime sounded.

“TARDIS finished the analysis I had her run before we left. She could economize on out not being here and by shutting down most of her systems, shunted most of the power to the lab computer” Doctor licked his lips. “She’s found… Ogh, yeah. Nice one” his eyes opened and he stared at Jack. “The sunscreen on the sand. It’s been… Oh, dear. It’s been causing me to hallucinate. Well, as much as a Time Lord can. Which, in our case, means seeing across time without conscious control. Raised my body temp and sent several senses into overdrive.”

Jack sat down suddenly.

“So this means you have actually seen her, or not?”

“I have. I just don’t know from when. It felt like half an hour, but…”

“You can’t really be sure, because your internal clock was messed up by this suncream contents?”

“More or less. Anyway, I need a massive dose of potassium now and some tannins. And proteins. I need to cleanse my system” he swallowed a bit nervously. “Can’t pilot in this state, you know.”

“You want some bananas or tomato juice, a cuppa and a slice of ham?”

The Doctor’s smile was somewhat sickly, but he nodded slightly and fell back on the pillow.

‘Rose was here’.

:Yes:

Written by Srebrna

2013/08/20 at 04:11