Frozen Hearts by bibliophile1887



Summary: Peri comes to terms with the Doctor's new incarnation while the Doctor tries to keep her from freezing to death.
Rating: All Ages
Categories: Sixth Doctor
Characters: Peri Brown, The Doctor (6th)
Genres: General, Hurt/Comfort
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: None
Published: 2006.06.01
Updated: 2006.06.02


Index

Chapter 1: Chapter 1
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
Chapter 4: Chapter 4
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
Chapter 6: Chapter 6


Chapter 1: Chapter 1

Author's Notes: In the deleted scenes on the Vengeance on Varos DVD, Peri comments that the TARDIS materialized shaped as a pyramid "on the frozen plains of Ewin 9." This is a portion of what happened while they were there.


Her feet were numb, as were her fingers and her face. The wind kept blowing snow into her eyes and she had to squint to see the Doctor ahead of her. The snow was deep and she was exhausted. Although Peri really wanted to stop moving, she knew that if she stopped moving, she would freeze. This thought kept hovering near the front of her mind. It was the only thought that kept her walking. She turned her eyes back to the ground and continued her cursing of their so-called guide.

As soon as she met him, she knew he couldn’t be trusted, but the Doctor said that they would be just fine, and away they went. They had left the warmth of the palace the day before for the arduous trek over the frozen tundra and snow-capped mountains for the TARDIS. When they arrived on Ewin 9, it was warm and inviting. They found a caravan making its annual pilgrimage to the palace and hitched a lift. Now, three weeks later, the temperature had turned inhospitable. And the TARDIS was out there somewhere, buried under two feet of snow. And in the shape of a pyramid, which meant it was easier to miss. The Doctor had been told that the weather was going to get much worse before it would get better and he decided that this would be the best time to get to the TARDIS and leave. The guide that had been so highly recommended had indeed led them away from the palace and in the general direction of the TARDIS, but last night had left them to freeze to death. He was working for the rebellion, and fully believed that the Doctor was instrumental to the king’s plans.

Peri continued her cursing and her stomping. The wind was getting worse, and she was getting very hungry. She wanted to stop moving, if just for a moment. Whenever she thought about it, the idea of freezing to death would jump into her mind, and she managed to pick up her feet for another few minutes. She kept her eyes to the ground, looking for the Doctor’s footprints in the snow. The sun was setting and it was becoming difficult to see them amongst the shadows from the rocks and boulders that edged their path. This was not what she had signed up for. Peri knew it would be dangerous, sure, but she wasn’t expecting to freeze on some god-forsaken planet no one had ever heard of. Her internal ranting distracted her and she stomped right into the back of the Doctor. She looked up at him.

He turned to her and pointed up the side of the mountain. “I think I see shelter. Come on.”

She looked up to where he was pointing, but didn’t see anything. Sighing loudly, she followed him up the slope to an outcropping of rock. He disappeared under it and a moment later his head appeared, “Come on, Peri.” She followed him under the rock and after crawling along a bit she found herself in a rather spacious cavern. The Doctor had his penlight out and was shining it around at the walls. They reflected the light and looked wet. Peri realized that they were actually covered in a thick layer of ice, as was the ground.

She dropped the pack she was carrying, relief swelling into her tired and achy joints. “You’re not serious.”

He stared back. “Do you have any better ideas?”

“The ground is solid ice, Doctor. How am I supposed to sleep?”

“Coldly, I should imagine.” She stared at him as he lowered his own pack to the floor. “I think we’ve got about another three hours to go. We obviously won’t make it tonight, and this is the best I can do.”

“Great,” she muttered to herself.

The Doctor looked up at her from where he was opening his pack on the icy ground. His voice dripped with sarcasm. “I know it’s not the Ritz, but we’re out of the wind and snow.” As if on cue a gust of wind blew through the cavern carrying with it a few snowflakes. She stared hard at him. “Well. We’re out of the snow,” he said under his breath.

She sat down, grateful that at least her pants were waterproof. She closed her eyes, and wanted desperately to sleep. Her empty stomach had been gnawing at her for the past several hours, and it was the only thing keeping her awake. Finding what he was looking for in his pack, the Doctor held out a piece of fruit and something resembling a granola bar. “Supper.”

She opened her eyes slowly, and looked at it with a frown. Hunger won out. She ate them both, and it didn’t occur to her to ask if the Doctor wanted any. It didn’t matter; halfway through her fruit the Doctor found another one in his pack and sat back on his haunches to eat.

After supper, what there was of it, she sat back against one of the walls. Peri closed her eyes again. It was becoming difficult to keep them open. She said softly, “Remind me again, why are we not going towards the TARDIS, but back to the palace?”

He sighed, “Because the palace is closer by about half a day’s walk.”

“And you’re sure you’re leading us in the right direction?”

“Yes,” he said testily.

Peri made a face at him, and closed her eyes again. She wanted to blame the Doctor for their current predicament. Alas they were both equally to blame. He was out getting more firewood the night before, and Peri slept. Their guide, the duplicitous Mr. Weeun, had taken that opportunity to take everything he and his horses could carry. Including the food. The Doctor woke her rudely when he returned and Peri was just as upset. He shouldn’t have gone wandering off, leaving her at the mercy of this stranger. The Doctor then pointed out that she was awake when he left and fully expected her to take care of herself — and to watch their guide. Neither one suspected that Mr. Weeun would drug her.

And now here they were, alone together in an icy cave, and would probably freeze to death.

She opened her eyes when she heard him shuffling around. He pulled a pickaxe from his pack and began cracking away at the ice on the wall near to where she sat. The ice came away relatively easily and he brushed it back into a pile. Peri shifted further away and saw that he was removing the ice from a small hole in the wall. It was really nothing more than an indentation, but he was intent on clearing it from the ice.

“Doctor.”

“Yes?” he said, between cracks of the ice.

“I want you to take me home.”

The briefest of hesitations was all that signaled his acceptance of her statement. After a few moments he spoke. “Oh?”

“Yes.” She said it so softly that it was almost inaudible, but he heard.

After another few moments of silent working the Doctor put down his pickaxe. “I’m going to try to find something to burn.” He pulled the woolen cap back on his head and crawled out.

Peri sat back and looked at the axe lying on the ground. She picked it up and began hacking away at the ice that covered the floor. She wanted to sleep, but the activity would keep her warm. She did want to go home. This wasn’t her Doctor anymore. She allowed her mind to float back. She remembered her Doctor. He was so kind, and sweet. He seemed so young, that most of the time she forgot how old he actually was. Especially when Erimem was with them. The two of them had such a wonderful time teasing (flirting?) with the Doctor. Erimem was gone, though, and so was her Doctor. He died, and now she was stuck with this cosmic clown, who actually frightened her.

She continued to chip away at the ice, letting her anger and fear flow through her, giving her strength. He tried to kill her. That was a fact. And it still haunted her dreams sometimes. He would sometimes appear over her, and he would begin throttling her until she woke in a cold sweat. She should have told him to take her home as soon as they left Jaconda, but he seemed to stabilize. Peri began to wonder if she had overreacted. After they left Telos she began to think that she really should be taken home. He settled into a blue funk, and she grew tired of it. There were moments she thought she saw him look at her with that same murderous intent. Now that they were trapped in the snow and ice, she finally made her decision. She wanted to go home.

? ? ? ? ?

The Doctor crawled out of the cave and made his way up the side of the mountain. He kept peering into crevices in the rock and under outcroppings, looking for something — anything - to burn. He found some roots and he pulled at them, hoping they weren’t too wet to catch fire. He found another cave, smaller, but with a larger entrance, and he ducked inside. He walked the twenty feet to the back of the cave and there he found a handful of logs. Someone had obviously been trapped up here before. It wasn’t very surprising, though. The way climates changed on this planet he was surprised there weren’t more people who got trapped up here.

He left that cave and found his way along the slope to another. This one was barely more than an indentation in the rock, but he sat down there and thought as he pulled at another root system. Peri wanted to go home. He knew the time would come when his companions would want to leave, it always did, but this felt different. It felt wrong. She had seemed so happy to travel with him, but since his regeneration she seemed distant. She told him that he had tried to kill her, and he wouldn’t believe it. That is, until he saw it in his own mind, several days later. He couldn’t blame her; in fact he was surprised she hadn’t asked earlier. It just didn’t feel right. He hated to leave his friends when they were upset with him; it always left him a little unbalanced. When Tegan left he was depressed for weeks. They hadn’t separated on good terms, and he felt, or rather he knew, it was his fault. Now Peri wanted to leave, and again he felt it was his fault. At least now he had the opportunity to convince her to stay.

The Doctor also knew something that Peri wasn’t fully aware of. The drugs that Mr. Weeun had put in her food were still in her system. She was exhausted, and he could see it on her face. He suspected that she really didn’t want to go home, but she wasn’t well. He couldn’t be certain though. The drugs had lowered her defenses, and perhaps going home was what she really wanted. If she hadn’t been drugged, she may not have said anything, merely stuck it out. As it was, she wanted to leave.

He stood up and, brushing the snow from his pants, he made his way back to the cave and Peri.

? ? ? ? ?

When the Doctor crawled back into the cave, he saw that Peri had been busy. She had chipped away at the icy floor and had created a relatively dry spot where they could at least lie down. He dropped his wood next to the hole in the wall and sat down. He couldn’t be certain but it seemed that Peri deliberately sat further away from him. He set about making a fire.

Once it was hot, Peri moved closer, holding out her frozen fingers. They had seemed to thaw while she chipped away at the ice, but once she stopped moving they froze again. She stared into the dancing flames and allowed her mind to wander. She thought of Erimem and of their time together. She thought of that terrifying moment when her Doctor collapsed in her arms and died. She tried not to think of the moment when she was trapped beneath this new Doctor, terrified of what he might do to her. She heard him moving about next to her and turned her head away from him.

“You should sleep,” she heard him say.

Sleep sounded wonderful. “It’s too cold, I’ll never sleep.”

The fire cast his shadow along the opposite wall as he made his way to the front of the cave. The sounds of shifting rocks and digging filtered back to her. She heard him return and sit down behind her. “That should keep the wind to a minimum.” Again, as if on cue, a blast of cold air whipped through the cave and the fire almost went out. “It should,” he said again. Peri couldn’t stop the little grin that crept onto her face.

She listened to him untie his waterproof sleeping mat from his kit and lay it out on the ground. He then turned to hers and laid it out next to his. He pulled at the zippered sleeping bags and with numb fingers managed to zip them together. She finally turned to look at what he was doing and the shock on her face must have been evident.

“We need to keep warm,” he said matter-of-factly.

She stared at him, uncertain of his meaning. She had a brief flash of looking up at his angry face as he pinned her to the floor of the console room. She watched him take off his boots and his outermost coat. He even stepped out of his snow pants and folded them neatly at the head of the makeshift bed. He crawled in to the side farthest from the fire and lay down. He closed his eyes and breathed deeply.

The body temperature of the average Gallifreyan was lower than a human. However it was still warmer than the air in the cave. Still, Peri needed all the warmth she could get. The Doctor slowed his breathing, and did his best to raise his body temperature. The warmer he got, the colder the room felt. When he reached human body temperature, he realized just how cold it felt to Peri. He continued to breathe slowly and deeply. He knew that if he appeared relaxed, Peri would soon follow suit, and try to sleep herself.

After a few minutes of watching the Doctor sleep, Peri felt somewhat reassured and after taking off her own boots and coat (leaving her snow pants on) she crawled in next to him. She lay on her right side staring into the fire that was just a foot away. She tried to lie as far as possible from the Doctor, but there just wasn’t room. She felt him roll onto his side and for one brief and horrifying moment she thought he was going to put his arm around her. He didn’t.

She stared into the dying flames and soon drifted off to sleep.

The Doctor watched Peri fall asleep; he could feel her body relax against him. He knew he probably wouldn’t sleep, he didn’t really need it, but he should at least rest. Gallifrey was definitely a hostile climate, but compared to what was blowing up outside the cave, even he had to watch himself. He could hear Peri’s breathing deepen, and though she still shivered occasionally, she seemed momentarily content. He watched as the fire began to slowly die. The cave darkened and finally he decided that he should put the last log on the fire. It wouldn’t last long, but it would at least provide a few more minutes of warmth.

Peri dreamt. She was home, in her own bed. She was sleeping peacefully, although she was cold. She shivered and pulled her arms closer around her. She felt movement behind her and turned her head to see her stepfather crawling into the bed with her. He had that horrible leer on his face, the one that stared at her from the dark corners of her mind. Her mother didn’t know about Howard and what he did to Peri on a regular basis. She suspected that Howard saw that as some sort of permission granting. He snuggled up next to her and tucked an arm around her.

As slowly as he could, the Doctor propped himself up on his elbow and reached around Peri for the log. He couldn’t quite reach it, and he leaned into her. He looked down at her face, mere inches from his own, and was surprised to see that her eyes were wide open in shock and fear. She bolted from the bag and cowered several feet away. What had she been dreaming about to cause such a reaction, he wondered. He looked at her with a shocked expression. “Peri? Are you all right?”

“What were you doing?” she asked, the panic obvious in her voice.

“I was reaching over to put another log on the fire,” he said slowly. “Is that all right?” he asked softly.

Peri relaxed a little bit. The ice from the wall was melting and dripped down her neck. She let out a squeak and shivered. The Doctor sat up, put the log in question on the fire and Peri watched the flames lick at it eagerly. She returned to the sleeping bag and crawled in next to the Doctor. He could tell that she was trying to keep her distance. She was afraid of him. He pulled the cover over her gently and lay back down behind her. She watched the dancing flames and thought about her dream.

“How long until morning?” she asked.

“A long while yet. You only slept for about an hour.” She had to quell the instinct to move away from him, his voice was so close to her ear as to be uncomfortable. “Close your eyes. Go back to sleep.” His voice was soft, calm, reassuring. Peri could almost hear the voice of her Doctor in her ear. She closed her eyes and imagined that it was he who was tucked behind her, not the one that was there now. Peri listened to the crack of the small fire and the steady breathing of her companion. Eventually exhaustion overtook her and she slept.

The Doctor looked at the back of Peri’s head. She was truly terrified of something. He knew that she was uncomfortable with him, ever since he tried to kill her, but he had explained. His regeneration hadn’t stabilized. The spetrox toxemia had caused an imbalance in his body chemistry, and even the regeneration couldn’t purge all of it from his system. Eventually his immune system did its job and the virus was completely destroyed. But now he was stuck with the consequences of his actions. His friend, someone whom he had known for a long time, was now scared of him. But it was more than that. The way she looked at him just now, she was seeing someone else.

He thought back to what Peri had told him about her life before they met. She told him about traveling with her mother and going on archaeological digs. She found them intensely boring, but it was educational. She told him about school, and some of her friends. She even told him about a boy she had a crush on when she was ten years old. What hadn’t she mentioned? What was she hiding? The Doctor closed his eyes and allowed his subconscious to deal with the problem while he rested.

Twenty-seven minutes later his eyes snapped open. He knew. He knew what had happened to Peri, and he suspected that it wasn’t just a one-time occurrence. He would never ask her directly, but it had to be the truth. And it explained so much. She was terrified of stronger men. She wasn’t scared of his previous incarnation, perhaps because his body didn’t seem threatening. But now… Just after regenerating he had actually tried to kill her. He had demonstrated his strength and she no longer felt comfortable. He looked at her in the fading firelight and was filled with pity and sorrow. He wanted to profusely apologize, but she wanted to leave him. How could he convince her that he wasn’t going to harm her?

The fire had gone out and there were just a few hot coals still glowing. They provided no actual light, but the Doctor could see well enough. He knew he wasn’t going to sleep, and thought about getting up, to go find something else to burn. If he did it would wake Peri, and she needed her sleep. Mr. Weeun had drugged both of them, but his physiology had absorbed it and dispersed it without him even knowing. However, with Peri it was dangerous. She slept for a long time the night before, and he could see it on her face all day. She was exhausted. Who knew what the drug was doing to her body now? She needed all her energy to fight off hypothermia, and the Doctor seriously doubted that she would actually make it to the palace tomorrow. Whatever Mr. Weeun had put in her food, it was still in her system.

Peri shivered; the fire had gone out, and dawn was still four hours away at least. The Doctor had crossed his arms in front of his chest as a means of maintaining body-heat. He opened his eyes when Peri began to move, and he worried that she was awake. She rolled over to face him, but she was sound asleep. Her arms were crossed in front of her, like his were, and her hair had fallen into her face. She shivered again. The Doctor pushed her hair out of her face and brushed his fingertips down her cheek. Her nose was red and her cheeks felt like ice. He looked at her sleeping face for another minute before finally giving in. She could be angry with him tomorrow, but now he had to save her life. He unfolded his arms and wrapped them around his companion. Peri rested her head on his right arm and his left was wrapped tightly around her. She shivered again. Instinctively she tucked herself into the warmth of his body and lay unmoving for the rest of the night.

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Chapter 2: Chapter 2

Peri’s brain fought through the sluggishness in an attempt to wake up. Her body steadfastly refused to agree. She didn’t want to move. She couldn’t move. She was awake enough to try to wiggle her toes, but could feel nothing in response. Her brain said they were moving, but she couldn’t feel the socks against them, she couldn’t feel one toe against another. Oddly, she felt almost warm; her body began to agree with her brain and she began to wonder why. She tried to wake up.

She opened her eyes slightly and was greeted with a streak of teal against brown. She felt a weight around her, like she was wrapped in a cocoon. Peri shifted her head slightly and looked to her left. She saw a slash of bright yellow and closed her eyes against it. Now that her body fully agreed with her brain, she recognized the weight around her as the Doctor’s arm. He had wrapped his arms around her as she slept, and the thought suddenly paralyzed her with fear. It vanished in a flash and was replaced with a surge of gratitude. She was obviously cold and she had tucked as closely to his body as she could. He had even opened his coat, and wrapped her up in it with him. She opened her eyes again and shifted her head to look up at the Doctor.

“Good morning,” he said cheerily.

Peri closed her eyes again. “Is it necessary to speak that loudly this early in the morning?” All gratitude had vanished.

“Yes. It is.” He paused. “Feeling better?” he asked softly.

She looked up at him. “I can’t feel my toes, or actually anything below my knees. My fingers have fallen asleep, and I think I have ice crystals on my eyelashes.”

“Oh well, if that’s all,” the Doctor replied dryly. “You’ve been using my arm as a pillow for nearly five hours, and I lost sensation in it a long time ago. I didn’t know your head was so heavy.”

She suddenly propped her self up on her elbow. “That was rude.”

The Doctor pulled his arm back from under her, shaking out his fingers. “Thanks.”

With a sigh, Peri lay back down, tucking her own arm under her head. “It’s too cold to get up.”

“The sun’s been up for just over an hour, and we need to get moving. We need to warn the King about Mr. Weeun and his associates. We’ll have some breakfast, and get the blood circulating again.” He looked down and Peri, and saw that her eyes had closed again. “Peri.” When she didn’t respond he grabbed her shoulder. “Peri?” He shook it, slightly.

Peri mumbled something and the Doctor peered into her face. She was asleep. Again. The Doctor had hoped that the drugs would have worked their way out of her system by now. It seemed not. He wanted to let her sleep, knowing that it was the best way for her body to deal with the alien drug. He also knew that sleep was the worst thing for someone who was exhibiting the first signs of hypothermia. He shook her strongly. “Peri? Wake up, Peri.”

She looked at him. “What?”

“We need to get moving.”

“OK.” She closed her eyes again.

The Doctor sighed, and decided that he should at least get up. If nothing else, the absence of his body heat would encourage her towards action. He crawled out of the sleeping bag, leaving Peri huddled in the evaporating warmth. He pulled on his snow pants, boots and coat. “I’m going to find something to burn.”

Peri said nothing. Frustrated, the Doctor bent over her, and pulled her up into a sitting position. Sleepily, she looked up into his face. There in his eyes was a flash of murderous intent. Or was it her imagination? She didn’t want to find out. Suddenly alert, she scrambled out of the bag and crouched several feet away from him. “What are you doing?” she asked accusingly.

“I was trying to wake you up.”

“You succeeded. I’m awake.”

“Good.” He walked towards the entrance of the cave, pulling his woolen hat down over his ears. “I’m going to find something to burn,” he repeated. Pushing aside the rocks he had piled at the entrance the night before, he crawled out.

Daylight streamed into the cavern, and Peri could see that it extended quite a way back into the mountain. She stood up, put her coat on, and made her way to the back of the cavern to find a place to relieve herself. When she returned, she pulled the sleeping bags apart and managed to roll them up and put them back in the packs. She also put the sleeping mats away and then she sat and shivered waiting for the Doctor to return.

Peri thought about the night before. She couldn’t remember most of it; although it seemed that the Doctor did his best to keep her warm. Images of the fire danced in her mind, as well as images of her stepfather. She didn’t know why her mind connected the two, but it did. At some point she must have tucked herself into the Doctor’s body to keep warm. She shivered, and it wasn’t the cold. She didn’t trust him. But he kept you warm. He was simply trying to keep himself warm. The fact that Peri was kept warm was peripheral. But he slept further from the fire. He has alien physiology; he didn’t need the heat. But he wrapped his arms around you to keep you warm. No matter what face he had, the Doctor was still a man. The thought stuck in Peri’s mind, and she couldn’t shake it. Her Doctor would never do such a thing. She wasn’t so sure about this one. The more she thought about it, the more she realized she wanted to go home. She should go home. The Doctor was more interested in saving the King from the rebellion than he was in saving her from freezing. Peri’s mind was made up.

She wiggled her toes again, trying to get feeling back into them. She took off one of her boots, and peeled off the three socks she was wearing. The outermost pair was thoroughly soaked. Her toes were deep red and taking off her gloves, she began to rub them between her hands. She remembered that she had another pair in her pack. She leaned over and dragged it towards her. Peri dug through it, and after taking out the sleeping mat, a book, a journal, her mug, a second pair of gloves, and a piece of fruit she had forgotten about, she found the socks. Pulling a dry one onto her foot, she relaxed slightly; it felt so warm. She continued to rub it between her hands, and feeling began to slowly return.

Peri heard a shuffling and looked up to see the Doctor crawl into the cave and stand up. He had found a few twigs and logs and immediately set about making another fire. He cast a glance at her feet, but didn’t say anything. Peri took off her left boot and her socks, and began the same ministrations she had given her right foot.

After a few minutes, the Doctor had the fire going. Peri gazed at it appreciatively. She began to scoot towards it, and put her feet directly in front of the burning logs. The Doctor cracked some ice off the wall and dropped them into a small metal pan he had pulled from his pack. Putting a small piece in his mouth, he sucked contemplatively. He eventually nodded and dropped in some more ice chips. He put the pan on top off the logs and sat back. He fished something out of his pocket and held it out to Peri.

“I found this in another cave.”

She looked at it. “What is it?”

“Tea,” he replied. “I think. It certainly looks like tea.”

“I’d rather have coffee,” Peri complained drowsily.

He opened the leather pouch, licked his finger, and stuck it in. He pulled it out and looked at the few leaves that stuck. He put them to his tongue, and the same contemplative expression crossed his face. “It’s tea.” He stared into the small bag. “Rather a mild blend, but it does contain stimulants.” He looked up at Peri and saw that her eyes had drifted closed. “Peri?”

“Yes?” she said tersely.

“Just making sure you were still awake.” He looked back at the pan and saw that the ice had melted, and was beginning to boil.

Peri sat up and grabbed her feet again. They felt much better, and she pulled on the other two pairs of socks followed by her boots. She tucked her feet under her and scooted as close as she could to the fire. She had the fruit from her bag in her hands, and after biting through the skin she began to peel it. It was a lot like an orange, but it was purple and not nearly as sweet. She took half of it and held it out to the Doctor. She may not entirely trust him, but he needed to eat, too.

He shook his head slightly. “You need it more than I do. I’ll be fine.” Perhaps he wasn’t that hungry, Peri thought. He’s trying to help you.

He took the pan from the fire and emptied the bag into it. The Doctor fished a pen from his pocket and used it to stir the tea. He reached into his pack, found a mug, filled it and handed it to Peri.

She took it with a little apprehension, and blew on it. The Doctor raised his eyebrow at her. “Yes, I get the irony, Doctor, but I’d rather not burn my tongue.”

The Doctor took a small chip of ice and leaned towards her. He dropped it into her mug with a wink. He sat back, sipping at his own drink. Peri wrapped her fingers around the mug, willing the warmth into them. She sipped at the hot liquid, and felt it slide down her throat. It felt wonderful. She closed her eyes, took another sip and moaned appreciatively. Staring into the dying flames she sipped again, and sighed. He’s concerned about you. He has his own cup of tea. It would have been rude to make it and not share it.

“I take it you approve?” the Doctor said, a small grin on his face.

Peri looked at him sternly. “It’s warm. So yes, I do.”

The Doctor hid his smile by taking another sip. Peri seemed to be doing better. She had packed up the sleeping bags on her own, and had found something to eat. Peri had even tried to warm up her feet. Perhaps she wasn’t doing as poorly as he thought. Perhaps the drugs had worked their way out of her system. Peri had closed her eyes again, and the Doctor took the opportunity to look closer at her. She still looked tired and her skin was pale. He had also seen her feet when she had her socks off. They were definitely suffering from frostbite, and he was worried that she might actually lose some of her toes. Yes, she was still ill, although the Doctor doubted she knew it.

Peri got the feeling that someone was watching her and she opened her eyes. The Doctor was looking intently at her. She could see the concern etched on his face, and the compassion in his eyes. For a brief moment, she saw her Doctor reflected in his face. Then the moment was gone, and she tore her gaze from him. He’s worried about you.

They finished their tea in silence, and packed their mugs away. The fire had died down, and the Doctor stood, picking up his pack.

“The snow has stopped, and the sun is up, but the temperature has dropped by at least 10 degrees.”

“Fahrenheit?”

He looked at her like she’d just asked the world’s stupidest question. “Centigrade.”

“That means nothing to me, Doctor,” Peri said, shouldering her own pack. Her muscles screamed out at the abuse. She felt too tired to carry it.

It must have shown on her face, because the Doctor’s tone suddenly changed. “You can leave the pack here, if it’s too much.”

Peri straightened her shoulders. She wasn’t about to have him think she was so weak that she couldn’t take care of herself. “I’ll be fine.”

The Doctor nodded, not believing her at all. “In Fahrenheit, I’d say it’s about 30 below.”

Peri dropped her pack. “You can’t be serious.”

“I’m afraid I am. The sun may be shining, but there is no cloud cover. The warmer air is escaping into the atmosphere. Plus the amount of snow that fell yesterday is keeping the air closer to the ground rather frigid.”

“So what is it in Celsius?”

“That would be 34 below.”

“Sounds better in Fahrenheit,” Peri mumbled. Picking up her pack again, she crawled out of the cave as the Doctor watched.

“That it does,” he said under his breath, and followed her out into the sunny, frigid air.

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Chapter 3: Chapter 3

Peri had to squint to see the Doctor twenty feet ahead of her. The sun was reflecting off of the snow, and it was very bright. She wished she had her sunglasses. The last time she saw them they were in the hotel room on Lanzarote. The thought made her stop. She had a strong memory of taking them off her face, folding them and putting them down. She could feel the smooth top of the nightstand. She could smell the sea air. She could feel the cool water.

Peri was jerked back to reality when the Doctor shouted at her. “Peri!” He was running towards her.

“What?” she shouted back.

“Are you all right? You looked like you were about to fall over.” He had reached her, and placed a hand on her shoulder.

“I’m fine. The sun’s just really bright, it’s hard to see.” She squinted up at him.

“All right, we have about two hours to go. Come on.” Peri took a deep breath and followed him. Although the Doctor did seem concerned, Peri had a hard time believing it. He just wanted to get to the palace as quickly as possible to warn the King. She began to move again.

The snow was deep, and twice Peri sank into drifts that were deeper than they looked. The Doctor hauled her out both times, although accepting help from him grated at her. She followed him as closely as she could, but he had such long strides, and she was so tired, she just couldn’t keep up. Every ten minutes, the Doctor would stop and wait for her to catch up.

Peri was having a hard time seeing properly. The sun was so bright, and every time she closed her eyes against it, she had to struggle to open them again. It felt so nice to keep them shut. When she did, images of the night before would flash before her. She saw the Doctor building a fire, holding her, keeping her warm. Pushing the Doctor out of her mind, she marched on, putting one foot in front of the other. She focused all her attention on walking. Exhaustion swept over her like a wave and she wanted to sleep. Her mind couldn’t focus on anything, but her feet kept moving. It was as if her legs moved independently from her mind. Perhaps she could take a quick nap, while her feet kept moving. The Doctor would never know. She could just keep walking. Suddenly feeling faint, she stopped moving and opened her eyes. Peri could see the Doctor up ahead of her, and she called out to him.

“Doc-.” Her voice was harsh. She couldn’t speak above a whisper. Her throat felt frozen.

The Doctor, who hated the abbreviation, didn’t respond, mainly because he didn’t hear her call out. He continued his marching, wanting to get to the palace as soon as possible, not only for Peri’s sake but he still had to warn the King about Mr. Weeun. He heard a noise behind him, and he turned to look at Peri.

The Doctor turned just in time to see her collapse into a snowdrift. In four strides, the Doctor was kneeling at her side. He dug her out of the drift and pulled her towards him resting her body against his. He pulled off a glove and dug through her scarf, coat, sweater, and turtleneck shirt to find her neck. He sat as still as possible for a long while waiting for the beat of her heart. Suddenly he felt it. It was very weak, but steady. He took his hand from her neck and replaced her scarf. He looked into her face. Her eyes were closed, her eyelids nearly black. Her lips were blue, and her skin was ice cold.

He stared down at her. He would have to carry her. He took his sleeping bag from his pack, and after unrolling it he managed to tuck Peri inside it. The Doctor zipped it up around her face, hoping that the extra warmth would help. He then took out the sleeping mats from both of their packs and, placing one on top of the other, tied them together with some nylon twine from his pocket. He laid Peri on the mats, and tied a long string to the front of his makeshift sled. He began to pull.

She wasn’t heavy, and he pulled her for about ten minutes. He stopped at the top of the last range of foothills. He could see the city walls in the distance. He smiled at the sight, and then looked back at his unconscious companion. The smile faded. Then he got an idea. He pulled the mats to the very edge of the hill. He took the strings from the front of the makeshift sled in his hands, pulled Peri into a sitting position and sat behind her, wrapping his legs around her. He pulled her back so she was resting against him. He lowered his head so his cheek was next to hers, and listened. She was still breathing. He sat up, and pulling the strings taught, he was pleased to discover that he had a toboggan ready to take him down the hill. Leaving their packs behind, the Doctor pushed off with his hands, and they slowly began to slide down the hill.

Steering was difficult, but not impossible. The Doctor was just glad that there weren’t any big boulders in their way. The further they went the faster they went. The Doctor was hopeful that the momentum would carry them beyond the bottom of the hill and closer to the city gates. With luck he would only have to pull Peri and the sled for twenty minutes or so. They picked up speed and the Doctor maneuvered them around a small rock. Peri shifted with the movement and the Doctor had to let go of the string with his left hand to stop her. He pulled her back against him, and sighed.

He saw the snow-covered boulder a fraction before it was too late. It suddenly appeared in front of them, and the Doctor instantly recognized it for the immovable object that it was. Uttering a rather loud Gallifreyan curse (grateful that Peri was unable to hear it), the Doctor tried to steer out of the way. For a brief moment, he thought he’d miss it. In horror, he saw Peri begin to slide sideways off the mat. When she hit the rock with her foot, he lost control of the pseudo toboggan. He abandoned all hope of controlling the sled and wrapped his arms tightly around Peri, holding her head close to him with one hand. They slid over the jagged ice covered rock, and when the Doctor’s hip hit the edge of the boulder, they went flying. Tucking his face into Peri’s neck, the Doctor held his breath, waiting for them to stop. They landed at least ten feet away rolling in the snow.

When they stopped moving, the Doctor opened his eyes. A quick check told him no bones were broken, but his right leg and hip were very sore. He looked at Peri lying next to him, her head resting on his chest. She was still wrapped up in the sleeping bag, and the Doctor’s arms and legs were wrapped tightly around her. He slowly released her, checking for breaks and cuts. The sleeping bag hadn’t weathered well; it was torn in several places. Fortunately, the tears were just superficial. Peri seemed unhurt. The Doctor pulled the bag away from her face. She had a massive bruise rising on her cheek, and he brushed it with his gloved hand. “I’m sorry, Peri,” he whispered.

The Doctor stood up, and nearly fell over again when he put his weight on his right leg. The bone wasn’t broken, but it felt cracked, or at the very least, bruised. Stumbling his way over to the remains of the sled, the Doctor cursed again. It had been torn to shreds. The sled had taken the brunt of the jagged edges, and was now completely useless. The Doctor looked from it back to Peri. He was hoping that he could just drag her on the sled, back to the city. Now it looked like he would have to carry her.

The sleeping bag was extra weight that wasn’t necessary, so he pulled it off of her. He cast a glance up to the top of the hill, where the other sleeping bag was. He could use it to pull her, now that the sled was out of commission. He didn’t have the time. Peri’s condition was rapidly worsening. Tucking her arms across her, he scooped her up into his arms, and began moving.

Peri’s head rested against the Doctor’s shoulder and every few steps the Doctor would look down at her. The bruise was darkening and her lips were so blue as to be black. He picked up his pace. Every step with his right leg sent stabs of pain up and down his side, but he couldn’t stop. The closer he got to the city gates, the more hopeful he was that some observant sentry would see him and send out a horse drawn carriage. The fact that the snowsuits they were wearing were gray, and the sun would be reflecting off of the snow into the eyes of any observers, was a pessimistic thought the Doctor wouldn’t allow himself.

Peri began to wheeze. The Doctor moved faster.

He could hear Jek’s words in his ear, over and over. “She’s dying, Doctor.” His own physiology had battled the spectrox toxemia, and had given him a slight edge over Peri’s human physiology. Unfortunately he was succumbing to it as well, and he could feel it in every muscle of his body. They cramped and refused to work. As he was climbing down to get the milk from the queen bat, he was forced to frequently stop and work some feeling back into his legs. He had lost sensation in his fingers ages ago, and had only managed to do anything through serious concentration. He reached the queen bats, and taking a vial from his pocket he managed to milk one of the nearest ones. He capped the vial, dropped it in his pocket and made his way back to Jek’s lab.

He had thought that he could give Peri the milk as soon as he saw her; she needed it immediately. However when he entered the lab he saw that it was in flames, Jek was dead and Peri was alone. He flew to her, and willing his arms to work he picked her up and began to run.

The mud bursts had blocked off several passageways, and the Doctor had to find a new way out of the underground system. When he emerged into the daylight he was overjoyed. He wanted to put Peri down, to give her the milk, but the instability of the planet kept him moving.

The Doctor felt her convulse in his arms and he looked down into her face. Her mouth had fallen open and even though he was running, he suspected that she had stopped breathing. Panic tore through him, and he ran faster. Against his will, thoughts of Adric floated up. Adric died while he was in his care, and now he was going to loose another one. Not only was Peri going to die, but he was as well. Unless he could get to the TARDIS. He saw it as he came around the sand dune, and he began to run faster. He would not let Peri die. He couldn’t lose another companion. He wouldn’t.

He reached the TARDIS door and his muscles gave out. He dropped Peri on the ground and fumbled in his pocket for the key. When he pulled it out of his pocket, the vial came with it. It fell to the ground, breaking open and spilling into the sand. The Doctor fell on it and picked it up. It was half gone! He was going to die.

Opening the door to the TARDIS, the Doctor pushed Peri inside. He crawled over her, and pressing a few buttons, the TARDIS dematerialized.

He turned to look at Peri. He picked her up and poured the entire contents of the vial into her mouth, hoping that she was still conscious enough to swallow. His legs cramped up, and his head exploded in pain. Throwing the vial to the side, he pushed her off of him and collapsed.


As the Doctor carried Peri through the snow he couldn’t help but think of those terrifying moments on Androzani. He worried that Peri would die before he could give her the milk from the queen bat, and that terrified him. What terrified him even more was the fact that that would mean his fifth incarnation lost two companions to death. That thought frightened him even more. Losing both Adric and Peri …. He couldn’t even imagine it.

And now, it was happening again. Peri was going to die, and all the Doctor could think about was Adric. Granted he had regenerated, but he was still the same person. He thought back to Sara Kingdom and Katarina. They had both died while traveling with him as well. And now Peri. No! He wouldn’t allow it. He shifted his arms, holding Peri closer, and began to run even faster.

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Chapter 4: Chapter 4

The faster the Doctor ran, the more Peri slipped from his arms. He tried to keep her balanced, but an unconscious body is not easy to run with. He set her down in the snow and, grabbing her arms, he threw her over his shoulder and began to run again. After just a few more minutes his leg finally gave out and he fell into the snow, Peri landing on top of him. He lay unmoving for several minutes. Pain shot up his side and his brain told him that he wasn’t going to be able to get Peri to the city. His own words from Androzani echoed in his head, “I’m sorry Peri, I can’t make it.”

He pulled himself out from under her and looked into her face. He put his hand against her neck, and was relieved to feel a pulse, but it was short-lived. Peri’s wheezing had stopped and now her breaths were coming in short ragged bursts. The Doctor leaned over her, putting his head on her shoulder. “I’m sorry Peri, I can’t make it.”

He tried to muster up as much strength as he could; he had to get up. Peri was depending on him! His brain swam with images of past companions, alive and dead, and he found strength in them. Just as he was about to move, he heard a familiar sound. It was the jingle of horses in harnesses. He looked up to see a covered sled coming towards them, being pulled by four horses. Someone had seen him out here! It pulled up and stopped, and a young lady jumped out of the back.

“Sir! Are you all right?”

“My friend, she’s been drugged.”

“Are you all right?” she asked again.

“I’ve hurt my leg, but she’s more important. Take her first.”

“You’re both coming with me, sir.” The driver of the sled came over and picked up Peri. He carried her around to the back, and laid her down in a pile of straw. The young lady helped the Doctor to his feet and into the back of the sled. He sat down next to Peri, keeping his leg outstretched. He felt the tug of the horses and the sled began to move.

“Thank you.”

“What were you doing out during the snow season?”

The Doctor looked up at the young lady. She had long dark hair, and a pale complexion. Her eyes were so blue as to be almost purple. Her hands moved in a gentle manner and she checked Peri for obvious wounds. “Our guide left us to fend for ourselves. He put something in Peri’s food, and it’s reacted badly with her physiology.” The Doctor took one of Peri’s gloved hands in his own.

“Peri?”

“My friend.”

“You’re the Doctor,” she said knowingly, looking up at him.

“Yes.”

“I work in the palace, I was told to tend to Peri when you stayed a few nights ago. I’m sorry I didn’t recognize her. I’m Yeena, by the way.” She pushed the layers of clothes away from Peri’s face and touched her cheeks. “What has she been given?”

“Some sort of sedative.”

“Probably Ien Root. It’s very potent.”

The Doctor looked down into Peri’s face. The sled slowed and he heard the city gates open. “It’s important that I speak to the King as soon as possible.”

“That can be arranged,” Yeena said. “But you need to have your leg tended to first.”

“I’ll be fine,” the Doctor insisted.

Yeena gave him a look that said she didn’t believe a word of it. The sled finally stopped and she hopped out the back. Two young men carrying a stretcher climbed in, placed Peri on top of it, and climbed out again. The Doctor followed, leaning on Yeena’s shoulder. They went into the palace and down a long corridor. The two men went into one room, while Yeena steered the Doctor towards another.

“No!” the Doctor said, and leaving her in the corridor he limped after Peri. She had been laid on a rather plush four-poster bed, and the Doctor began taking off her winter clothes. Hat, gloves, coat, scarf, boots, and snow pants all fell to the floor before two nurses could stop him.

“Please, sir, let us take care of her.” The Doctor stepped back to allow them room to work.

Yeena entered the room. “Doctor, they know what they’re doing. Please, come with me.”

He didn’t want to leave Peri’s side, but he knew that the nurses could help her more than he could right now. He let Yeena lead him to the room next door, where he gingerly sat on a bed similar to the one in Peri’s room.

The bed was overstuffed and felt very comfortable. The walls were paneled with a very dark wood and different sections had been ornately carved to feature various scenes from Ewin mythology. There was a sofa and two chairs sitting in front of a fireplace. The fire was just getting strong, and the Doctor looked at it with longing.

Yeena approached him. “I’d like to look at your leg, if I may.”

The Doctor looked affronted. “You may not. A few hours and I’ll be fine.”

“But sir,” she protested.

“Never mind,” he said waving a hand. “I’m going to see Peri.”

Yeena sighed. “If you insist, sir, but at least change into something dry.” The Doctor looked down at his clothes as Yeena left and two valets entered.

Handing him a set of clothes, they insisted that he take his own off. They were soaked through with snow and sweat and should be cleaned. After several objections, the Doctor finally changed into the suit they brought and handed over his own clothes. With a bow they left the room, as the Doctor studied himself in the mirror.

He had been given a pair of black pants with a black silk shirt. Over that, he wore a dark blue jacket that was cut at an angle. There was only one sleeve, the right, and the collar crossed diagonally to under his left arm where it buttoned down to his waist. The hem of the jacket continued down at an angle to his right knee. It looked remarkably like a topcoat worn sideways. With a nod of approval at his reflection, the Doctor limped back to Peri’s room.

The nurses had left, and Yeena was sitting next to the bed. Peri was asleep under a mound of quilts and blankets. The Doctor approached the side of the bed.

“How is she?”

Yeena looked at her patient. “In a few days, she’ll be fine. We were hesitant to give her a stimulant to counteract the Ien Root, since we didn’t know how it would react in her body.”

The Doctor reached out a hand and brushed his fingers across Peri’s forehead. “Now that she’s warm, I think we can allow the drug to work its way out of her system naturally.”

Yeena nodded. “I’ve sent for some food.”

“I’m not hungry,” the Doctor said softly, not taking his eyes from his friend.

“You will eat,” she said sternly.

He looked up at her. “When we were here before, you got to know Peri. You like her, don’t you?”

“Yes, I do.”

He smiled to himself. “You two are a lot a like.” He sat on the edge of the bed and looked back at Peri. The bruise on her cheek didn’t look as bad as he thought, but it was darker in here than it was outside. He couldn’t see it properly in the shadows.

The door opened and a maid walked in with a tray. She set it on a table near the fireplace, and with a curtsey walked out. Yeena looked at the Doctor, who eventually got up and went to the tray of food. There was stew, and fresh bread, as well as hot tea. It warmed him up. When he finished he felt much better; his leg was healing nicely. He sat back on the settee and stared into the fire.

“You should sleep,” he heard her say.

“I'll wait for Peri to wake up.”

“She’ll sleep for hours. I promise you, if she wakes up, I’ll wake you.”

The Doctor closed his eyes and drifted into a state of semi-consciousness. He was still fully aware of the activities in the room; he saw the maid come in and collect the tray. He could hear Yeena speak softly to her about bringing more wood for the fire. But mostly, he sat still allowing his body to heal itself. The less effort he expended on other things, the more effort he could apply to healing his leg.

He sat up exactly thirty-seven minutes later, and looked around the room. Yeena glared at him. “That wasn’t long enough.”

The Doctor stood up and walked, not limped, to the side of the bed. “It’s all I need.”

She sighed and turned her attention back to the needlework she held in her hands. He sat on the edge of the bed again and looked into Peri’s face. He listened to her breathing and was satisfied that she was sleeping peacefully, if not entirely naturally. He felt guilty for what had happened to her, for bringing her here. The Doctor wanted to show her the wide variety of foliage this planet had to offer, but he managed to miss the planting and harvest seasons entirely. He had set the coordinates correctly, but the TARDIS still missed the season he was aiming for.

The Doctor had suspected for some time that the TARDIS had ulterior motives in landing them when she did. It was as if she was setting things in motion; things that she knew had to happen. During his previous incarnation, no matter how many times he correctly set the coordinates for Heathrow, they always ended up some place (or some time) else. He surmised that the TARDIS knew how much he really liked Tegan, and simply refused to take her home. It was annoying, and he had hoped that the TARDIS had gotten past that stage. Sitting by Peri’s side, listening to her sleep, he knew she wasn’t. She was still up to her tricks.

Peri sighed and the Doctor snapped out of his reverie. Her eyelids fluttered, but stayed closed. Yeena came over to the side of the bed, and leaned over her, looking into her face. She looked up at the Doctor, a confused expression on her face.

“She’s dreaming,” he said, and Yeena sat back down, reassured. The Doctor had watched Peri sleep for hours the night before and he knew how her body reacted when she entered REM sleep. Every human reacted differently. One of his companions slept with their eyes open. Sarah? Jo? He couldn’t remember.

“Doctor?” Peri mumbled.

“Yes, Peri? I’m here,” he said.

Peri’s face screwed up into a frown. “Where is he?”

The Doctor’s hearts sank. She didn’t want him. She wanted him. His previous self. He leaned in to her face, and cleared his throat.

“Peri.”

Yeena looked up suddenly, thinking there was someone else in the room. She looked at the Doctor, and saw him speaking to his friend, but his voice was so different. It was softer, gentler. Almost like it belonged to another person.

“Peri, I’m here.”

Peri’s frown relaxed. “Doctor?”

“You need to rest. Please. Sleep.”

Peri lapsed back into unconsciousness.

The Doctor cleared his throat again and sat back. He closed his eyes and sighed to himself. He always faced this problem when he regenerated. His companions took it as an offense, like he somehow had killed their friend. They always saw an incarnation as “theirs.” Like they were the only one to know him in that form. It didn’t occur to them that to another companion, their Doctor killed theirs. It was so difficult for their minds to understand. He was still there; he was still the same. Sure, he looked different, but he was essentially the same person. He had the same memories, the same expectations, and the same beliefs.

Now here he was, dealing with it again. Peri wanted his previous incarnation, not his current one. She found him comforting, non-threatening. A memory floated up to the front of his mind, and he saw himself attack Peri. He grabbed her and threw her to the floor. But she was smart, and held up that mirror. He saw his own reflection, and was terrified of what he saw. That wasn’t him, and he hated himself for it. He couldn’t apologize enough for what he did.

He knew that Peri would be haunted by that memory until she died, but she was human, and would only suffer with it for another seventy years, eighty if she was fortunate. He would suffer with that memory for another thousand years, or longer. That was punishment enough.

He looked down into Peri’s sleeping face and felt hurt. In her time of need she wanted him. As with past regenerations, he didn’t know what to do about the uncertainty of his companions. There was nothing he could do. Just let things happen and eventually they would get used to him. And hopefully, they would think of him as “their Doctor.”

There was a soft knock on the door, and Yeena stood to open it. There were whispers from the other side, and then she closed the door.

“The King will see you now.”

The Doctor looked down at Peri, not wanting to leave her, but knowing that he had to tell the King about the rebellion in his own personal guard. He reached out and brushed her cheek with his fingers. “I’ll be right back.”

After the Doctor left, Yeena sat back down with her needlework. She had been surreptitiously watching the Doctor watch Peri. He cared about her very much, and appeared to believe that she didn’t feel the same way. It was quite sad, really. Peri did care about him, but was unsure about how to talk to him. From what she said to Yeena three days ago, “He’s so different. I don’t know who he is anymore.”

Yeena didn’t understand this comment; how could someone change so drastically? Yet something had happened, and Peri was confused. That was the main emotion she got from her when they spoke. Confusion.

Peri sighed again, and Yeena looked at her. Her eyelids fluttered like she was dreaming, but then they opened. She turned her head.

A frown creased her brow as she tried to remember the name that went with the face she was looking at. “I know you.”

“I’m Yeena. Do you remember me?”

“Yes.” Peri relaxed. “We’re in the palace?”

“You’re safe now. We’re keeping you warm, but you need to sleep.”

Peri nodded and looked around the room as best she could without sitting up. “Where’s the Doctor?”

“He had to go see the King, but he’ll be back soon.”

Peri’s eyes closed again, “Figures.” Yeena didn’t understand what this word meant and was about to ask, when Peri spoke again. “I’m dying and he’s off gallivanting with royalty.”

“But Miss, he’s been sitting here for three hours, waiting for you to wake-up. Miss Peri?”

She had fallen asleep again. Yeena adjusted the blankets around Peri’s face and fluffed up the pillows. Then she returned to her needlework.

The door opened twenty minutes later, and the Doctor blew in. He returned to his chair at the side of the bed.

Not taking her eyes form her work, Yeena spoke, “She woke while you were gone.”

“Figures.”

She looked up at the Doctor in confusion. “She said that same thing. What does it mean?”

“She said, ‘figures’?”

“Yes, right after I told her you were with the King.”

The Doctor sighed to himself. She had so little confidence in him, that she expected him to not be there for her. It hurt, but it wasn’t unexpected. That thought hurt even more.

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Chapter 5: Chapter 5

Satisfied that the King was safe, the Doctor could turn his full attention to his friend. He still had to get to the TARDIS, but that could wait. She was safe where she was. No one in their right minds would venture out onto the frozen plains of Ewin IX. He knew that for a fact. Eventually, when Peri was feeling better, he would go get the TARDIS and bring it here. But he would not ask her to go with him. He wouldn’t take her out in the snow again. When this was over, he was going to take them somewhere warm. Perhaps a beach somewhere. He knew of some lovely beaches.

Assuming Peri wanted to go.

She said that she wanted to be taken home. Perhaps it was just the exhaustion speaking, but the Doctor had to accept the idea that Peri said those words. The words he hated to hear. “I want to go home.” It always tore him up when they said it. But he would always let them go. He knew he couldn’t keep them forever. Forever to them wasn’t forever to him, and because of that simple fact, he always let them leave. He had no choice. But it still tore him up.

He pulled his chair up to the side of the bed and looked at her, sadness in his eyes. He tugged on the blankets and Yeena glanced up briefly from her work. The Doctor took off the dark blue jacket and draped it over the foot of the bed. Then he tucked his hands under the blankets and slowly moved them towards Peri, until he found her hand. He held it in his left hand and placed his right over it. Sitting very still, he could feel the pulse in her wrist.

He began to lightly stroke her hand with his fingers. With the tip of his middle finger, he softly traced around the backs of her fingers, around her knuckles. He felt the coolness of her skin respond to the warmth of his own. He could feel the miniscule hairs on the back of her hand react to his teasing fingers. Her fingers twitched and relaxed in his hand. The Doctor placed his hand on top of hers, and held it for several long minutes. She was uncomfortable around him and wanted to leave him. He wanted her to stay. There was still so much he wanted to show her.

Yeena looked up at him, and putting down her needlework she sat back in her chair. She saw the sadness and pain in the Doctor’s eyes and felt suddenly embarrassed. She felt like a voyeur, like she was watching an intimate moment that shouldn’t be witnessed. She turned her head away, looking instead at the fire.

“You love her, don’t you?” she heard herself say.

Silence settled into the room. The Doctor slowly took his eyes from Peri and looked at Yeena. The fire cracked and popped, and still he said nothing. Yeena turned her face back to the Doctor and stared at him. He met her eyes for a full five seconds before turning his attention back to the sleeping figure in front of him. He gripped her hand tighter and tried to formulate a response that Yeena would understand. And that would convince him as well.

“I do,” he said softly. “I’ve had a lot of people travel with me, and I’ve loved them all. They’re my friends.”

“But Peri’s different,” she suggested.

“They’re all different.” The Doctor raised his head. “Do you have siblings?”

“Yes, sir. I have two sisters and a brother.”

“And do you love them all the same? In the same way?”

“Well, no. I love them all, but differently.”

The Doctor nodded.

“But Peri’s not your sister. I can see that in the way you look at her, the way you talk to her, about her.”

The Doctor said nothing. He carefully set Peri’s hand down and pulled his hands from under the blankets. He straightened them carefully and deliberately, and then sat back in his chair. Evening was drawing in, and the sun was sinking closer to the horizon. Peri would probably sleep through the evening and night hours.

There was a knock at the door, and Yeena opened it, whispering with the valet on the other side. She closed the door with a soft click. “Your clothes have been cleaned and returned to your room, if you would like to change. And the King would like to see you.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know.”

The Doctor frowned, stood, and picking up the blue coat from the foot of the bed, went to his room. He found that his coat, waistcoat and trousers had been laid out on the bed. He dropped the blue coat on the bed, and picked up his multicolored one. He held it out and looked it at, with an appreciative smile. He changed his clothes and returned to Peri’s room.

Yeena looked up when he entered. “Well, that coat would wake anyone up.”

The Doctor harrumphed, and smiled sarcastically. “I shouldn’t be gone long. I’m not sure what the King wants to see me about.”

“Peri might wake up while you’re gone.”

He nodded, “Yes, and I’d like to be here, but I’ve learned that it isn’t wise to keep royalty waiting.” He brushed the back of his fingers across her cheeks. “If she wakes up, will you see that she gets something to eat?”

“I do know what I’m doing, sir.” Yeena returned his smile.

The Doctor swept from the room. A few minutes later, a maid came in with a tray, and set it down on the table by the fire. She left and Yeena stood up and crossed to the table. She found that two plates had been prepared, so she took one and sat down. Halfway through her meal, Peri moaned and woke up. Putting her plate down, Yeena went to her.

She reached down and felt her forehead. “Are you hungry? Do you think you could eat?”

Peri nodded. Yeena helped her to sit up. She went back to the table and returned with a bowl. She pulled her chair up to the edge of the bed and fed Peri a spoonful of soup.

She swallowed appreciatively. “That tastes good,” she croaked.

“It’s a vegetable broth; we give it to a lot of winter-burn sufferers. It warms them up very well.”

Peri smiled and took another spoonful. “We use chicken soup at home.”

Yeena frowned, not knowing what a chicken was, but said nothing. The rest of the meal passed in silence, and when the soup was gone Peri relaxed against the pillows and looked around the room.

“Where’s the Doctor?”

Yeena busied herself putting the plates back on the tray, and setting it outside the door. Then she went to the bed and straightened the blankets and pillows.

“He’s with the King.”

“Still?”

“Again.”

Peri sighed to herself. “How long have I been asleep?”

“Six hours. Maybe seven.”

Figures, Peri thought. I’ve been sick in bed all day, and the Doctor spends all his time with the King. It’s like he doesn’t even care.

Yeena saw her frowning, and spoke. “The Doctor’s been sitting here all day. I couldn’t even convince him to return to his own room to sleep. He slept on the settee. Even when the King summoned him a second time, he didn’t want to go. He wanted to make sure you were taken care of.”

Peri’s frown faded. “He’s been here all day?”

“Uh-huh.”

Peri’s fingers were tingling, a good sign that she was regaining feeling in them. She pulled them out from under the blankets and rubbed them together. She looked down at her left hand as she rubbed it with her thumb. She was hit with a memory. It was like a dream; she tried to find the memory but it wouldn’t come to her. She flexed her fingers and looked at them. She shook her head, giving up. If she needed to know she’d remember. She closed her eyes and tucked her head back into the pillows. She was tired, and Yeena suggested that she go back to sleep.

As much as she tried, Peri couldn’t sleep. She worried. And worry always kept her awake. Her brain was stuck in a loop of conflicting thoughts and emotions. The Doctor tried to kill her, and that terrified her. But he kept her warm in the cave, and that calmed her. The Doctor was brash and rude, and that annoyed her. But he sat next to her bed, and that reassured her. Her Doctor was dead and gone, and that saddened her. But this new Doctor was here … and she didn’t know how to feel about that. She was so confused. She remembered telling him she wanted to go home, but now she wasn’t sure.

Peri loved traveling, and she loved seeing things that no human had ever seen before. She remembered when Erimem joined them, she was jealous. She didn’t want to share the Doctor with anyone. Then Erimem was gone, and she could have the Doctor to herself again. Just when she was getting over missing Erimem and getting used to having him all to herself, he died. In her arms. But she still had him. But it wasn’t him. And yet it was.

She didn’t want to leave him, but yet she did. Tears of confusion spilled down her cheeks, and she fell asleep.

The sun had gone down, and darkness seeped into the room through the drawn curtains. The fire cracked in the silence of the room, and Yeena had given up on her needlework. She was hesitant to light a lamp, worrying that it would wake Peri. In the end, she settled herself on the settee with a down quilt and tried to sleep.

When the door opened an hour later, Yeena sat up with a start. She saw the shadow of the Doctor, the light from the hall spilling into the room. He stepped in, and closed the door.

Peri stirred, but appeared not to wake up. Yeena crossed to the bed and looked down at her. Satisfied she was still asleep, she sat on the edge of the bed.

Peri had been sleeping fitfully, and woke when the door opened. But she was so tired she couldn’t be bothered to sit up or even open her eyes. Then she heard the Doctor speak, and she was alert. But she stayed still, wanting to overhear. She didn’t know what he’d say, but if she was going to stay with him, she wanted to know as much about him as she could.

“I have to go.”

“Without Peri?”

“I’ll be back. The King has received word that the rebellion is out looking for my ship. I have to go get it before they do. He’s sending me with several of his best men and a team of horses, but I’ll be gone until mid-day tomorrow.” He leaned over Peri and looked at her. He saw something in her face. There was something there that wasn’t there the night before, or earlier when she was sleeping. “Did she wake up?”

Peri focused intently on the Doctor’s words, without giving away that she was awake. If she knew what he said about her when she couldn’t hear, that might give her an idea of what he really thought about her. Did he really care about her?

“She did. I gave her some broth.” She paused. “She asked about you.”

“I thought she would.”

The Doctor sat down when Yeena moved to the other side of the bed. He stroked Peri’s cheek with the back of his fingers. Sadness was still present in his eyes, but he was also a little mischievous.

Yeena watched the Doctor from the shadows and was again embarrassed. It felt like something she shouldn’t be privy to. There was a knock on the door, and the Doctor suddenly stood.

“I have to go,” he repeated. He went to the door and opened it. Then he turned back to Yeena and said, “You asked me a question earlier.”

“Yes.”

“I answered it as best I could. But there are so many different meanings and definitions attached to the word ‘love.’ In every society, in every culture, it means something different.”

Peri went rigid, straining to hear the Doctor’s whispered words.

“If by love, you mean care, compassion, tenderness, then yes, I do love Peri. I would do anything to make her happy. I would die for her. Again.”

Yeena frowned at him, confusion in her eyes.

The Doctor looked down at Peri and, with a soft smile, left the room, knowing full well that Peri heard every word.

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Chapter 6: Chapter 6

Peri lay still in the darkness, the Doctor’s words echoing in her mind. He loved her. But it was more than that. He died for her. She had taken enough psychology classes to know that survivor’s guilt was a terrible thing to live with. But what about when the person you’re surviving isn’t really dead? Laying there, listening to the crackle of the fire, Peri realized that the Doctor had sacrificed his life for her. He died to save her life. Oh, she knew that, but she had never really thought about it. He cared about her so much that he died to keep her safe. Suddenly she felt terribly guilty. He saved her life and she was repaying him by asking to leave. The tears rolled down her cheeks and she cried into her pillow, exhaustion overtaking her an hour later.

When she finally woke, long after dawn, she had a breakfast of hot porridge and sweet tea, as Yenna told her about where the Doctor had gone. Then she helped Peri to the bathroom and into a hot bath. She sank into the water, the bubbles deep and fragrant. Leaning back against the edge of the tub, Peri listened to the maids changing the linens on her bed. It was rather luxurious, she thought. She was fed regularly, helped to undress, tended to, and she even had maids to clean her room. She could get used to a life like this, being waited on hand and foot. She should ask the Doctor to take her somewhere glamorous. Perhaps somewhere in Earth’s past, like a royal ball or something.

Thoughts of the Doctor stopped her reverie. Guilt began to fight its way to the surface, and Peri fought it down. Picking up the soap and a small cloth, Peri began to scrub at her skin. She scrubbed until it turned red and tingled. She dropped the cloth back into the water and sat back. She decided to stay with the Doctor. It seemed like the least she could do. For a moment she thought that the Doctor was guilting her into staying, but that didn’t make sense. He was allowing her to come to a decision on her own. Apart from his brief reaction in the cave when she said she wanted to go home, he hadn’t said a single thing about it. Granted, she had spent most of the time since then unconscious.

It was what he said last night that stuck with her. He couldn’t have known she was awake when he said those things. I do love Peri. I would do anything to make her happy. He loved her, and she just couldn’t leave him. But that sounded like guilt. But he could only be guilting her if he knew she was awake and listening to him. Peri shook her head. She was thinking too much into it.

Yeena came in and helped her out of the tub. She handed some clothes to Peri, and she was comforted to see that they were her own. Her jeans and sweater had been cleaned and returned. She slid into them gratefully, and went to sit in front of the fire to dry her hair. Yeena brought a blanket over, laying it across her knees. Peri smiled at her, and watched her sit on the settee with her needlework.

She turned her eyes back to the fire. After a long silence, she spoke. “When will the Doctor be back, again?”

“In a few hours.”

Peri raked her fingers through her hair and tucked her legs under her. She pulled the blanket up around her and slowly drifted to sleep. Yeena watched Peri drift off, and after making sure she wasn’t going to fall out of her chair, she returned to her needlework.

Everything was dark, and Peri looked around her, squinting. She was wearing the red shorts and cream top that she wore on Androzani. She looked down at herself, and saw that her legs were covered in blisters and she was filthy.

“Peri?”

She turned at the voice and saw the Doctor. Not the new one, but her Doctor. He was there, covered in mud, with blisters on his hands and dirt smeared across his face. He looked just like he did when he died.

“Doctor?” She approached him cautiously. “But you died.”

He nodded. “I’m not really here, Peri. You just think you’re seeing me.”

“Why?”

“Because you want to.”

She stood directly in front of him and looked into his eyes. “I miss you.”

“I’m still me, Peri. I’m still there.”

“But you’re not! You can’t be!”

“I am.”

Peri hung her head and closed her eyes.

“Peri, please, it’s still me.”

She looked up at him. “It’s just hard to accept, hard to get used to.”

He smiled at her, then opened his arms and pulled her toward him. She wrapped her arms around him and held him tightly. A sob escaped and he held her tighter. “It’s still me,” he said again.

She pressed her ear against his chest and listened to his hearts beat. It was comforting. She looked up into his face and smiled at him. “I know.” Impulsively, she stood up on her toes and pressed her lips to his cheek. She held her cheek against his and whispered, “Good-bye.”

“Going somewhere?” asked the new Doctor.


Peri woke with a start and found that she had dropped the blanket on the floor. Yeena came towards her.

“Are you all right?”

Peri looked around the room, as if trying to remember where she was. “Yes,” she said a moment later. “Just a strange dream.”

Yena picked up the blanket and folded it. “Are you hungry? They brought some lunch, if you think you could eat.”

Peri nodded and Yeena set a plate on the table next to her. Actually, Peri wasn’t hungry, but she knew she had to eat something. She took a few small bites, enough to keep Yeena from complaining, and sat back in the chair.

“How long did I sleep?”

“About an hour.”

Peri nodded and looked back at the fire. She held out her stocking feet to it and wiggled her toes. “A couple of my toes are still numb. They’re tingling.”

“I was worried that you might actually lose them to the winter burn. You will probably have permanent feeling loss in a couple of your toes, but if they’re tingling, that can be a good sign.”

“We call it frostbite.”

Yeena thought about this and after a moment she smiled. “I like that.”

“Tell me, how did I get this bruise on my cheek? I don’t remember.”

Yeena recounted what the Doctor had told her about the makeshift sled and the crash. She told Peri about her brother, the sentry, seeing someone struggling through the snow carrying a body. She even told Peri about the Doctor sitting by her bed for a full day.

When Yeena fell silent, Peri sat back in her chair. “He saved my life. Again.”

“He has before?”

He saved her life more than she cared to remember. Even before he regenerated, he was always risking himself for her or Erimem or both. The guilt came back and Peri tried to push it away. “Yes. Several times. And never with a thought for himself.”

“He sounds like a good friend,” she said softly.

Peri almost told Yeena that she had heard the Doctor the night before, but kept it to herself. It wouldn’t have changed anything. It didn’t matter to Yeena. Peri stood up and went to the window, pushing back the heavy curtains. Staring out at the snow-covered garden, she remembered why the Doctor brought her here in the first place. It was for her. It was always for her. After the mess on Jaconda he took her back to Earth, back home. For her. The fact that they ended up on Telos was just an annoyance. He promised her somewhere relaxing. The frigid air seeping through the windows caused her to shiver. Somewhere warm. Definitely.

She drew the curtains and returned to the fire, to see that Yeena had added a few logs.

“That garden must be beautiful during warmer weather.”

Yeena nodded. “It is. Each King has added his own distinctive touches to it. Our current King added a beautiful bird sanctuary.”

“I wish I could see it in full bloom.”

“Why can’t you? You can stay for a while, at least until the blooming season. It’s only six months away.”

“The Doctor doesn’t like to stay in any one place for very long.”

“He’s a wanderer.” She said it like a fact rather than a question.

“That he is.”

“Can I ask you something personal?”

Peri looked up. After a moment she nodded.

“Why do you wander with him?”

Sitting back in her chair, Peri tried to formulate an answer. “When I first started traveling with him, I was on vacation from my schooling. I had some time, and I really wanted to travel, to see the world. I got more than I bargained for. We saw everything. We did … everything.” Peri paused, lost in thought. “I’ve seen so much.” She looked back at Yeena. “There is so much out there. Stuff you wouldn’t believe. And I’ve seen it. I’m the only human to have seen some of these things. I can’t just give that up.”

“He’s your friend.”

Peri was struck by Yeena’s question and realized that she hadn’t answered the way Yeena was expecting.

“Yes.”

“Do you love him?”

Peri knew that Yeena had asked the Doctor this same question about her; she heard him last night give his answer. She didn’t know what to say. “I did once.”

“You don’t anymore?”

“I don’t know. He’s so different.”

“How can someone change so much?”

Peri looked up, with a knowing smile. “It’s a long story.”

“And one we don’t have time for.”

Peri turned to the voice and saw the Doctor standing in the doorway. How long had he been standing there, she wondered. She felt suddenly embarrassed.

The Doctor entered the room and marched over to Peri. “You look much better.”

“Except for this bruise on my cheek.”

The Doctor snorted. “That’s gratitude for you.”

Yeena smiled at the bickering pair. They reminded her of her parents.

Peri stood up to face the Doctor and could feel the cold emanate from him. She reached up her hand and brushed it quickly across his shoulders and over his hair. “You’re covered in snow.”

The Doctor sighed dramatically. “The things I do to save you from a long walk!”

“Oh, thanks,” Peri said, somewhat sarcastically.

He turned to Yeena. He caught her wink and returned it. Yeena had seen the Doctor enter the room several minutes ago. She knew what he wanted to know, and led the conversation in that direction.

The Doctor extended his hand. Yeena placed hers in it, and found that it was cool to the touch. “Thank you,” he said. “For everything.”

She smiled. Peri embraced Yeena and whispered her own thanks into her ear.

Peri let the Doctor lead her from the room and out to the stables where the TARDIS had materialized. It was still in the shape of a pyramid and Peri stood looking at it.

“What?” the Doctor asked, affronted.

“You said you fixed the chameleon circuit.”

“I did.”

“Doctor, an Egyptian pyramid on Ewin IX is not camouflage!”

The Doctor made a noise implying he didn’t care.

“Could you at least fix it? Make it a police box again?”

The Doctor stared. Did this mean she wanted to stay?

She continued, “Knowing how awful it is at picking disguises it would probably materialize as a forest in the middle of New York City!”

“You’ve been to Central Park, surely.”

Peri rolled her eyes at him and entered the TARDIS, leaving him wondering if she actually wanted to go home. He followed her into the TARDIS and a moment later the grinding engines trumpeted through the stables, leaving only a brief indentation in the straw.

The Doctor stood at the console flicking switches and pressing buttons. He wasn’t going to set the co-ordinates until he knew for sure what Peri wanted. He looked up at the inner door and knew he had to ask.

Upon entering the TARDIS, Peri went straight to her room. She didn’t even wait until they had dematerialized. She changed her clothes, and heard the hum of the TARDIS change when they were in flight. She idly wondered where they were going. Sitting at the mirror, Peri brushed her hair. She looked at her bruise, and wished it would heal faster. It went from jaw to eye, ear to mouth. In fact, it looked like it was getting worse. She lightly touched her hand to it. The knock on the door made her jump.

“Come in.”

The Doctor entered, carrying a small tube. He held it out to her. “This should help speed the healing process,” he said, gesturing to her face.

“Thanks.” She took the cap off and put a dab on her finger. She gingerly rubbed it into her skin but rubbing a bruise always hurts. She tried not to react, but she did grimace a few times. When she had rubbed it in thoroughly she flexed her jaw and noticed that it didn’t hurt as much. She turned back to the Doctor who was leaning against the doorjamb. “Thank you. It does feel better.”

He nodded. Silence filled the room, and both felt it. Both knew what needed to be said, but neither was comfortable with it.

Finally the Doctor spoke. “I thought we could go somewhere warm for you to relax and recuperate. I know of some lovely beaches on some outer planets. What do you think?”

There it was. The Doctor was allowing her to make the decision. She could either stay or go. She stared into his face and for a moment she saw her Doctor in his eyes. She smiled. “That sounds lovely.”

The Doctor broke into a huge smile and turned to leave.

“Doctor?”

“Hmm?”

Peri crossed the room to where he stood. “I wanted to say thank you.”

“Even though I bruised your face?” he said with a smirk.

“Not for what you did on Ewin IX. Well, not only for that.” She paused. “For what you did on Androzani. You died. For me.” She looked down at her hands. “No one has ever done anything like that for me before.”

The Doctor said nothing, and after a moment Peri looked back up at him. He looked uncomfortable. He reached out his hand and placed it on her shoulder. “You’re welcome.”

She smiled up at him and impulsively she wrapped her arms around him. He was unsure for a moment, but then returned the hug, holding her tightly.

Peri breathed deep, the scent of the Doctor filling her lungs. It was different than what she remembered. But as she stood there, her head resting against him, she heard the double beat of his hearts. She sighed. Yes, this was her Doctor.

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