Obsessions by Van Donovan
Summary: Some obsessions are impossible to ignore. (2/Jamie slash)
Categories: Second Doctor
Characters: Jamie McCrimmon, The Doctor (2nd), Victoria Waterfield
Genres: Action/Adventure, Slash
Warnings: Explicit Sex
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: This is a bit cliché but should be fun anyway. At least, I hope you'll like it. There certainly isn't enough Second Doctor fic, cliché or not. :)
Beta thanks goes to Starkiller. Story concept thanks to Maccine.
“Do you know what would help with that?” asked the Prince Regent in a very cheerful tone. Without waiting for a reply, he sagaciously said, “Sex with Jamie.”
“ ‘Sex with’–what?” the Doctor echoed, growing startled as he mulled over the myriad of implications that presented. It was not helping the frown he was wearing.
The Prince Regent was already moving away from him, heading toward the boy in question. Jamie and Victoria were standing near the balcony railing overlooking the palace gardens. The two Earthlings smiled cheerfully as the man approached, inundating him with questions about the local flora. Victoria held a large basket of colorful flowers, which the Prince had presented her with only a few minutes earlier.
The Doctor had been intending to join them but now stood back away, chewing over the words he’d just been given. “Sex with Jamie indeed,” he thought to himself. Prince Regent, Sir Reginald Stikes had been mouthing off since their introduction almost an hour ago. The Prince Regent seemed to quite enjoy blurting out non-sequiturs and making untoward comments and remarks, gauging the unsettled reactions of his guests with an unusual amount of glee. He’d made Jamie go quite crimson after only ten minutes of knowing the boy by presenting him with a pair of silken underwear once he learned the origin, and nature, of Jamie’s kilt.
The Doctor had considered it all in good humor, until just now. He was frowning when Reginald came upon him, which was probably what had prompted the statement in the first place. He had been staring at his two companions and remembering how long it had been since he’d quite enjoyed nature in the way they were. These days, he always saw dangers and problems instead of the raw beauty of the land.
Reginald’s words had completely unhinged him. That was the intent, of course. Even now, he could hear the Prince suggesting to Victoria a bath in the mud pin, clearly intended as a way to warm her up, as she was rubbing her bare arms. “Sausages,” he muttered, composing himself. “Just ignore him, my dear,” he added, loud enough for her to hear.
“Aye, well, we’re going in, Doctor. It’s getting a wee bit chilly for Victoria out here,” Jamie said, putting an arm around her to lead her inside.
“Yes, yes, that’s fine,” the Doctor agreed, moving further out onto the balcony at last.
“You’ll not be joining us then?” Jamie asked.
“No, you go on. I’ll catch up.”
Jamie shrugged and the two departed, the Prince Regent following.
The Doctor forced his strange thoughts to the back of his mind as best he could. He grasped the balcony railing and made himself stare at the plants in the garden below. They really were extraordinary: brilliant blue leaves grew on most of the foliage, and the water in the large stone fountain in the courtyard burbled a natural, verdant green. It was no wondered Victoria had been so fascinated.
Little red fish swam in the fountain, visible only as bright specks in the water at this distance, and now that the thought was in his mind, the Doctor kept thinking about it: Sex with Jamie.
Well, now, that would be truly extraordinary, wouldn’t it? But it wouldn’t help in the way Reginald said it would. In fact, it’d probably muck things up quite a great deal, and he wasn’t prone to thinking of his companions like that. He wasn’t prone to thinking of anyone like that, in fact. It just wasn’t something he did.
And yet, now that he’d started, he found he couldn’t stop thinking about it.
He visualized Jamie’s toned legs, the way the muscles on his calves stood out. He thought about the thighs always hidden beneath the kilt, and even more of the flat expanse of Jamie’s stomach. He realized with a jolt he’d never seen it, and that thought made him feel very warm. Had Victoria really gone inside because she was cold?
He flapped his coat ineffectually and decided he absolutely had to stop thinking about this. He focused on the architecture of the building, admiring the neo-gothic carvings, even though this wasn’t Earth and the gargoyles weren’t remotely like those found on Earth. It was still better than thinking about the way Jamie might look undressed and sprawled on a bed.
“My word, what has gotten into me!” he cried, wringing his hands.
In the effort to escape–from what, he couldn’t say–he left the balcony and hurried inside. There he practically ran into the Prince Regent as he was heading back out. “Ah, Doctor!” he called. “You’re just in time for dinner!”
Food, yes, food would be a good distraction. “Splendid!” he cried, a little too enthusiastically. “That is, I would be delighted. Most kind of you.”
Reginald folded his hands behind his back as he led his way through the halls of the palace. “It’s not often we get to serve guests from other worlds, Doctor. It is our pleasure.”
The Doctor was led into a large dining room. Victoria was already seated, quite engrossed with rearranging the flowers in her basket. She wore a shawl over her shoulders now, and seemed quite content. Jamie was nowhere to be seen, which relieved the Doctor more than he cared to admit. “Thank you. I hope it’s no trouble.”
“No trouble at all,” Reginald said. One of the servants came and led the Doctor to a chair while the Prince himself took a seat at the head of the table.
There were seats enough for twenty guests, but only three were filled. Four places were set for dinner, but although the food arrived, Jamie never did.
“Victoria,” the Doctor said from across the table. The girl didn’t look up, and hadn’t touched her food. “Victoria!” At the Doctor’s more insistant tone, she finally pried her eyes off her arrangement.
“Yes, Doctor? No need to be so loud.”
“Where is Jamie?”
Victoria glanced around, as though noticing for the first time that Jamie was missing. “I haven’t the foggiest,” she said before returning to stroke her flowers.
“Ah, perhaps he went to rest for a while?” Reginald suggested. “I had the servants show your companions to their chambers. I was told Jamie was quite fond of his.”
“Yes, well, I’m sure they’re very nice rooms, but he really ought to eat something.” Turning back to Victoria he said, “And so should you, young lady. Victoria!”
“Hmm?” She looked up again, a dreamy expression in her eyes.
“You should eat something.”
“Oh, I’m really not very hungry, Doctor.”
The Doctor found he really wasn’t either–but he forced himself to shovel down food to keep himself from getting up and finding Jamie. As he chewed viciously on some very bright blue lettuce, he tried to think about why he was feeling the way he was. It had been a long time indeed since he’d pondered the finer aspects of intimacy, but even last time he had, he’d not been consumed with this sort of feeling.
Then again, he’d never had quite the same relationship with any of his other companions as he had with Jamie. Not that he thought Jamie was remotely interested in him–in fact, he was relatively certain the boy had a crush on Victoria. So entertaining this line of thought was even more absurd! He was an 18th century Scotsman, after all!
The Doctor’s fork clattered to the table loudly as he forced his thoughts off of the boy again, but neither Victoria nor the Prince seemed to bear him any mind.
“Your father!” the Doctor shouted.
His voice was so loud and commanding that finally attention was drawn to him.
“Where is your father!” he shouted at the Prince.
“Excuse me?” he asked, his clouded eyes seeming to clear.
“Prince Regent, yes?” the Doctor said, forcing his words to be articulate. “Where is your father, the King?”
“Ah, yes,” Reginald said, wiping his mouth with a napkin. “Yes, my father. My father is sick, Doctor. I’m sure you’ll understand.”
“I’m a Doctor!” he announced, pushing his chair back to get to his feet. “I should like to examine him.”
A look of alarm skirted across Reginald’s eyes. “We have a very skilled physician with him at all times, Doctor. It’s really not necessary.”
“Sit down, Doctor,” Victoria hissed. Whatever interest she had in her flowers was dampened by the embarrassment she felt over the Doctor’s outburst.
“I simply insist!” the Doctor demanded, stamping a foot. He wrung his hands again. “I’m from another world, aren’t I? Perhaps I can help better than your physician can.”
“Surely it can wait until after dinner,” Reginald said, gesturing to the food.
“No, it cannot wait. I fear there is something dreadfully wrong here.”
“Very well,” Reginald said. With a clap of his hands, two servants arrived. He whispered to one, and then nodded. “He will escort you to my father. When you’re finished, you may either return here or ask him to send you to your chambers.”
“Thank you very much.” The Doctor picked his napkin off from where it was stuck in his lap and set it on the table. “Victoria, you’ll be coming with me.”
“Oh, don’t be absurd Doctor,” she protested. “I’d much rather stay here than visit a sick old man.”
“If you’re not eating your dinner, then I want you close by me,” he instructed.
Almost angrily, Victoria set her basket on the table, picked up her fork, and began to eat.
“Very well then,” the Doctor muttered. He turned to his escort. “Lead on, I suppose.”
The palace was very large, but very quiet. The Doctor paid very close attention to everything, focusing on the most minute details in ways he never did anymore, as though he was expecting an exam on the contents of the castle later–it was the only way he could keep his mind off of Jamie. He counted not only the stone steps they mounted, but how many cracks were in each one and had a splendid time trying to guess the chemical composition of them without actually touching the stone itself.
He expected to be taken to some lofty turret and shown a craggy old King locked in a tower, but the journey was over very quickly. He found himself standing in the archway leading into the library.
It was a large library and very well maintained. After assessing the room for several moments, the Doctor entered, glancing down the aisles as he did. At last he came to the center of the room, which was cleared of shelves. Three large couches were arranged facing each other in the center of the empty space. On one couch sat an older man, a tome perched neatly on his knee. The other two couches were stacked full with books.
“The King, sir,” the Doctor’s escort said.
“Yes, thank you,” the Doctor said. He presented himself a bit neater, smoothing his coat down somewhat self-consciously. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Your Majesty,” he said.
The King did not reply.
“I’m sorry if I’ve caught you at an inopportune moment?” he tried again.
The King turned a page of his book, but did not look up or otherwise acknowledge the Doctor in any way. “Excuse me,” the Doctor began again, a little louder. Perhaps the man was hard of hearing? “Your Majesty?”
“The King is very sick,” a velvety smooth voice said from behind him.
The Doctor spun around to find a tall woman shrouded in long black robes approaching. Her skin was pale, her hair as black as her robes and her eyes a piercing blue. “I am Tianna,” she said. “Physician to the King.”
The woman’s voice rather made the Doctor’s skin crawl, but he didn’t back down. “I’m the Doctor,” he said, raising his chin, determined not to feel belittled by this taller woman. “I thought perhaps I could offer my assistance in finding a cure for him.” He turned back to the King. “He doesn’t look ill.”
Tianna approached him from behind, casually slipping her arm around his shoulder. She turned, very neatly spinning him about so he was facing the exit. “While I do appreciate your offer, I’m sure you realize, due to royal security measures, I cannot let you have access to the King in his altered, incapacitated state.”
The Doctor furrowed his brows. “I’d only like to examine him!”
“You need to rest, Doctor,” she smoothly said. “The baths are prepared for you. You should go to them. Let me handle the King–it is, after all, my job.”
The escort met the Doctor as he was gently walked out the doors of the library and back into the hall. “Yes, yes,” he mused to himself, his thoughts scattering. “A bath would be lovely. I wonder if I could find Jamie–”
He snapped out of it as the library doors behind him closed. Spinning around he slammed his fist against the door, but caused no effect but to hurt his hands. “Vile woman!” he shouted. Then he whined a bit, as he cradled his bruised hand. At least the pain had gotten his mind off the idea of Jamie in a bathtub. “There is something very wrong here,” he stated to the empty hall.
“It’s true,” his escort said.
“Pardon?” He turned to the man in question.
“People get . . . obsessed . . . with things when they come here,” the escort said. He was a young man with bright brown eyes and fluffy blond hair.
“You don’t seem to be affected,” the Doctor noted.
“Some of us are lucky,” he admitted. “Don’t know why or how it works. Some people get it worse than the others, too. The King’s been locked in that library for months now, reading all them books.”
“Don’t seem to affect her none, neither. Did the other physician though. He went on and on about germs and things.”
“Did he now?” the Doctor said, suddenly very interested.
The escort nodded. “Had to send him away, we did. Some of them are right quiet types; just as soon lock themselves up in their rooms and pet cats all day, but the crazy ones we got to do something about.”
“And there’s been no cure for it?”
“Not as yet, no. Wish they’d hurry it up, though. My missus’ got it. She’s obsessed with cleaning. Cleaned the house right out.” He laughed softly. “They put her to work in the basements–she’s all right there, I suppose, the basement needs the cleaning but the work’s exhausting and she don’t care to take breaks like she ought to.”
Contemplating, the Doctor began to walk. “Tell me, what did your missus do before she got obsessed with cleaning?”
“She was head cook, she was. Makes the nicest Redoux soup you ever tasted. They got some talentless bloke in there now. Can’t hardly eat the stuff.”
“I see. That’s very interesting. What did you say your name was?” The Doctor stopped walking so he could turn and offer a hand to shake.
“Milyan, that’s me.” He shook the Doctor’s hand. “Listen, you think you can really help the King and them? Prince Reginald’s grand and all, but we suspect it’s starting to affect his head too. He talks funny these days.”
“Yes, so I’ve noticed. Well, Milyan, I’m the Doctor. I’m going to try very hard to get to the bottom of this, and I’d appreciate your help.”
“Anyway I can, sir. So long as it don’t interfere with my duties like.”
“Splendid. Listen, can you write?”
“Course I can, man.”
“Wonderful! I’d like you to get a list of all the people you know who are, or have been, affected by this obsession sickness, as well as those who you definitely know are not. I’m going to try to figure out if there’s some common denominator.”
“Oh well, I’m not good with maths, sir.”
“Never you mind that. You just make up the lists, all right? Can you do that?”
“Why yes, sir.”
“Good, you do that then.” A few moments passed and Milyan didn’t yet take off to do as asked. “What are you waiting for?”
“Said I’d do it when it don’t interfere with my duties, sir. I’m to take you either to your chambers or back to the dining hall now as you’re done with the King.”
“Oh, right, yes,” the Doctor said, back to wringing his hands again. “Well, I’d better go and make sure Victoria’s all right. I’m beginning to think this sickness is affecting her too.”
“As you like,” Milyan said and promptly started back down the hall toward the stairwell.
Back to index
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
Author's Notes: Chapter two is twice as long, twice as fun. :) Thanks to Starkiller for betaing and Maccine for help with storyboarding. :)
The dining hall when he arrived, was empty. Nearby laughter, however, told the Doctor that Reginald hadn’t gone far. He followed the noise to the throne room, where he found the Prince Regent sitting on an ornamented chair on the dais, telling crude jokes to an audience made up of loyal but oddly disinterested servants. Neither Jamie nor Victoria was in the crowd.
After a lull in the forced sounding laughter, the Doctor pushed his way forward and demanded, “Where is Victoria?”
“Pardon me?” Reginald asked, a frown on his face forming at the unexpected interruption.
“Victoria, my companion; the girl who was having dinner with you! Where is she?”
“How should I know? Do I look like her butler?” the Prince snapped. “I’m entertaining right now, if you’ll please.”
The Doctor scowled and wrung his hands again. He knew he should have made Victoria follow him! Now he’d misplaced both his companions. “Oh dear,” he muttered.
Once of the scullery maids was tugging on his coat sleeve. “What is it?” he asked.
She averted her eyes and curtsied greatly. “I couldn’t help but overhearing, sir. I don’t mean to be intrusive none.”
“Go on, dear.”
“But your young friend, Miss Victoria?”
“You know where she is?”
“I do, sir. I saw her step out to collect some flowers from the garden soon as you left, sir, though I didn’t mean to peep.”
“The garden?” the Doctor exclaimed. “But it’s the middle of the night!”
“That’s what I thought, sir. Much too cold out there for a young lady, but she insisted, she did. I heard her arguing with the head maid about it. She’s got a cloak on now, I do believe, sir, but that’s not much.”
“Thank you, my dear, if you’ll just be so kind as direct me to these gardens?”
Around them the crowd broke into hollow, uneasy laughter again at one of the Prince’s jokes. The scullery maid led the Doctor down a corridor and to another empty hall. It had large windows that overlooked the courtyard. In the middle of the far wall were two large doors that opened out to the gardens. “Saw her go out here, sir,” she said, curtsying again.
“Thank you.” He gave her hand a fond squeeze before drawing his coat about himself and heading out into the night alone.
“Victoria?” he called. “Victoria, can you hear me?”
Receiving no answer only worried him more. He passed the fountain full of red fish and started into the garden proper. The grounds were vast and poorly lit at this hour. The weather was chilly and his breath crystallized on the air before him as he searched. “Victoria! Young lady, if you can hear me, you had better answer!”
He was met with the rustle of leaves as the wind blew through them.
Concerned now, he crossed his arms over his chest tightly and hustled along the garden paths, looking for the girl. He tried to remember what she was wearing. His companions had an impractical habit of changing their clothes all the time. It made identifying them somewhat difficult. Victoria was prone to wearing little dresses from the 1960s–probably to please Jamie, as the Scotsman had taken a shine to that era, no doubt influenced by Ben and Polly.
Now, Jamie at least always wore the kilt, which was always red, and easy to identify. It also showed off his muscled calves quite nicely, and swished in a particularly delightful way when he broke into a run. The Doctor grinned brightly at the thought.
He stopped in his tracks and slapped himself. “Concentrate!”
Shaking his head, he focused on the cold and Victoria. He was a Time Lord, after all. He could ignore this silly obsession sickness, especially when what he was obsessed over was something as absurd as wanting to sleep with Jamie.
“No, no, no! I must stop thinking about it. Victoria! Victoria, where are you!?”
He should have taken the scullery maid out with him, or asked to get the groundskeeper to escort him. The path he was on finally emptied out onto a lake, and there he saw Victoria, quite a ways away yet, calf deep in the water and pulling lilies to her chest. Her basket of flowers sat on the shore and was positively overflowing with flora.
“Miss Victoria Waterfield!” he yelled, hustling over to her. “Just what do you think you’re doing?”
She snatched the last flower off the last lily pad and beamed at him. “Oh, look Doctor! Aren’t they splendid?” She gestured to the sodden mess of flowers in her arms. One dropped to the water and she nearly lost the whole bunch trying to reclaim it.
“Out of there with you!” he chided. Once he reached the shore, he sloshed into the water beside her, took her by the arm and began pulling her ashore. “It’s freezing out here! What were you thinking? Well, I suppose you’re not at all, are you?”
Victoria easily shook his hand off her arm and knelt by her basket to sort her new flowers into the ones she’d already collected. Her cloak was heavy and wet as were the ends of her skirt. She’d lost her shoes somewhere. “Don’t be silly Doctor,” she said. “I’m perfectly content. Besides, there are all sorts of flowers that only bloom at night. I must get them now if I want to see them at all.”
“You’ll do no such thing,” he said. “You’re soaking wet. We’ve got to get you into a hot bath and into dry clothes. Come along.” He reached for her arm again.
“Doctor, I simply won’t go. You can’t make me.”
“I’ll not leave you out here alone, and certainly not wet and aimless as you are. Now don’t make me force you, Victoria.”
“I’ll scream if you make me, Doctor, I really will!”
He took a deep breath, calming himself. “There are all sorts books in the library you know. Books on flowers, I’m sure. We could find you a nice book to read.”
“I don’t want to read books, Doctor!”
He was getting quite cold himself–his trousers were soaked up to the knees, and his feet squished out water from his shoes as he walked. He forcefully hauled Victoria to a standing position. Immediately she began to scream. “That’s quite all right,” he announced loudly. “Scream as you like, you’re still going in.”
Victoria had quite a lovely set of lungs on her, and her screaming undoubtedly woke up the castle, but she wasn’t very strong physically. The cold, whether she admitted it or not, was also affecting her. By the time the cloisters of the courtyard were in sight, she’d ceased resisting at all and was simply shivering and whining softly.
Two men rushed out as soon as they saw the Doctor approaching with her. After assuaging their fears with a wave of his hand, he explained. “She fell into the lake and is very cold now. She needs a hot bath and a change of clothing, please.”
“I’ll fetch the maid, sir,” one of the men said, hurrying off.
The Doctor got Victoria inside and quickly brought her to a fireplace that was burning in one of the study halls. Not much later one of the maids arrived with a large wool blanket. She draped it around Victoria. “There, there, love, no need to cry,” she said.
The Doctor had let Victoria bring her basket back, but most of the flowers had fallen out on the way to the castle–their loss was what Victoria was sobbing over.
“A hot bath for the girl, please,” the Doctor said, standing near the fire himself. “Warm clothes and something warm to drink, I should think. And can you have someone watch her? I’m afraid she’ll try to wander off again.”
“Yes sir, of course sir,” the maid said. “I’ll send Maggie down to show you to your quarters too.”
“Very kind of you, thank you.”
He watched Victoria as she was led away and tried to resist the urge to follow and make it up to her. He had not wanted to hurt her, and seeing her crying pulled at his heartstrings. She was such a fragile little thing and had seen far too much death in her short time with him. He wanted to show her the splendors of the world, not bring her to tears.
Maggie arrived moments later, approaching so silently he hadn’t even heard her. “Take you to your rooms, sir?” she said.
“Oh? Yes, yes, thank you. I must be a dreadful sight.”
“Heard you rescued Miss Victoria from the lake. Very brave of you, sir,” she said as she led the way.
“Well, I’m sure anyone would have done the same thing in my place.”
“Could be, but no one else thought to go looking for her. Poor girl. She’s a bit ill, isn’t she?”
“Yes, I’m afraid so. Seems like whatever is affecting your King has affected my friend. I do hope she’ll be all right.”
“I’ll check on her in a bit, see that she’s settled, if you’d like.”
“That’d be wonderful, thank you.”
They continued in silence for a while longer. At last they stopped in front of a large oak door. “Here we are, sir. I’ve laid out some fresh garments for you, courtesy of the Prince himself, and the bath is drawn and should be hot. You ring the servant bell if you need anything, all right?”
“Yes, thank you very much Maggie.”
He opened the door to his chamber and gave the room a cursory glance. There was a large canopy bed that dominated most of the room. It was decked out in expensive looking fabric and made of highly polished wood. There was a large oak desk and chair and a dresser with an extravagant mirror above it. On the dresser was a set of combs and brushes and a basin for washing. Two nightstands stood on either side of the bed with fancy kerosene lamps perched on them. A large velvet curtain was drawn over what he presumed to be a window or balcony.
To the left was a door, which he went through–it led to a private bathroom. The castle was relatively primitive but there was some measure of technology–at least the bathroom was fairly well plumbed.
He fingered the silk dressing gown that had been laid out for him before disrobing and slipping into the water. He sighed as he sank into the warmth, not realizing how cold he’d been. There were things he ought to have thought about, clues he ought to piece together, but he decided against it, instead clearing his mind. He needed to relax and keep his wits about him. Victoria’s scare by the lake had unsettled him more than he cared to admit.
He soaked for a long time before finally scrubbing himself clean. He thought about emptying and refilling the water and soaking a while longer, but a noise in the main room drew his attention. “Maggie?” he called, wondering if the maid had returned with a report on Victoria’s condition.
He received no answer. Concerned that the maid might not want to interrupt him while he was in the bath, he got out quickly, dried off with the large plush towel that had been laid out, and slipped into the dressing gown. He was tying the cord around his waist when he stepped out, looking for the maid. “Maggie?”
The door to his chamber was open, which he found unsettling. A quick glance around the room, however, revealed no maid. He shut the door slowly, but turned quickly when he heard a noise behind him.
There was something moving under the covers of his bed.
“Hello?” he cautiously asked.
The lump in his bed shifted a little, and the soft groan of a man’s voice wafted to him. It made him halt in his approach. He knew that voice. “Jamie?” he snapped. “Jamie, are you in my bed?” he demanded.
He wasn’t going to think about what he’d just said.
Another groan from the bed definitely identified it as Jamie. “You must get out of my room this instant, Jamie!” It was clear that the boy either couldn’t hear him, or was too busy doing–well, whatever it was he was doing–to bother replying.
The Doctor considered just turning on his heels and stalking out of the room. It would probably be the safest thing to do. One of the maids undoubtedly would have agreed to let him stay in another room, and if not, well, he could go read in the library all night. Approaching Jamie was not a good idea.
And yet, he did. Curiosity drew him, perhaps, and although he tried to deny it, his obsession sickness drew him, too. He was desperately eager to find out what Jamie was doing, and partially terrified to see.
“Jamie, I know you’ve got your own room,” the Doctor said, approaching cautiously. “You really should return to it. It’s . . . it’s not safe for you to stay in here.”
He was standing beside the bed now, able to see Jamie’s head where it peeked out from beneath the covers. The boy’s cheek was pressed to one of the pillows, his eyes closed, while the rest of him squirmed beneath the covers. He approached, ready to pull Jamie’s arm and drag him out of the room like he’d dragged Victoria, when he tripped on Jamie’s kilt.
He stared down at the pile of clothes at his feet in horror.
On instinct he took a step back, but found he could go no further. Seeing Jamie there, and thinking about him writhing in his bed without any clothing on, had completely shut down his mental processes. All he could do at present was watch. It was a great strain just to remain standing.
His hearts pounded so loudly in his ears he couldn’t hear Jamie anymore. In a way, that helped. He managed to squeeze his eyes tightly shut and thought about ripping toenails off. He thought about eating moldy food and pouring salt on open wounds. He thought about rotted corpses and income taxes. At last, he felt he had control of himself.
Without opening his eyes he reached forward, found Jamie’s arm and yanked him out of the bed. The boy let out a yelp and staggered against him, but the Doctor pulled away quickly before the boy could cling to him. “Put your clothes on, Jamie,” he said in a very slow, controlled voice.
“Doctor,” Jamie said, and his voice was low and thick, full of admiration.
“Jamie, it’s vitally important you–” but Jamie’s hands fell on the Doctor’s shoulders and began to run in small, worshiping circles. Whatever the Doctor was going to say died on his lips. Jamie’s hands traced down the Doctor’s chest, warm palms pressing against his flesh. The silk of the dressing gown made Jamie’s exploration easy and exquisite. “What’re you doing?” he managed to hiss in a whisper, not daring to open his eyes.
“I’ve never felt anything like it, Doctor,” Jamie breathlessly said. His hands were running over the Doctor’s sides now, over the curve of his waist, making more small circles as he rubbed skin to silk to skin. “Your whole bed is made of it.”
“What?” the Doctor gasped. He opened his eyes at last and, despite telling himself he wouldn’t, immediately looked down.
Jamie, mercifully, was wearing the pair of silken underpants the Prince had given him.
“Silk!” the Doctor blurted. “You’re obsessed with silk!” Just beyond Jamie the Doctor could make out the tousled bed, and sure enough he could see silken sheets, gleaming in the light. “And I’m wearing it!” He immediately made to disrobe, but stopped himself before he managed to, realizing what that’d leave him with.
Jamie’s hands hadn’t stopped exploring. They were starting to work their way back up to the Doctor’s shoulders.
The Doctor took another step back, but Jamie seemed to move right with him. “Jamie, you have to get out of here,” he demanded, but his voice sounded weak even to him. “You’re very sick. We’re both very sick. You have to stop touching me.”
“But y’ feel so nice, Doctor. The way it jus’ glides against th’ skin. Isn’t it wonderful?”
The Doctor found he was quite positively trembling. He stomped his foot, but that didn’t help much. “Jamie, please,” he begged. “Listen to me. Listen to me!”
At last Jamie obeyed. His head snapped up, eyes focusing on the Doctor’s instead of watching his hands on the silk. “Doctor?”
Whatever the Doctor had intended to say was utterly lost as he found Jamie looking at him. He had had some measure of control when he was staring at the sheets or the floor, but now Jamie was looking at him with heated desire in his eyes, and all the Doctor could think about was how very much he wanted–needed–to be with Jamie. The boy was nearly naked, touching him rather intimately of his own accord, and the bed was probably still warm from his body.
Why was he supposed to be resisting this?
Before he thought about it, his hands were on Jamie’s chest, pressing into the warm flesh in a way that meant only one thing. He half expected revulsion or confusion to skirt across Jamie’s eyes, but found none. Emboldened and excited by the progression of events, he breathlessly asked, “Have you ever made love on silk sheets?”
“No,” Jamie answered, his eyes hooding slightly.
“Neither have I,” the Doctor admitted, pushing Jamie backward until the boy encountered the bed and was forced to sit down on it. “I think I should like to.”
Jamie’s hands slid from the Doctor’s shoulders, down his biceps and to his hips, where his thumbs rubbed little circles against the fabric. “Think I would too,” he whispered.
The Doctor cupped Jamie’s face, letting his fingers brush through the shaggy hair at the nape of the boy’s neck. He moved closer to the bed, positioning himself half between Jamie’s legs, scarcely able to breathe from his overpowering want. “I need you, Jamie,” he said in a small voice. He wanted to kiss the boy desperately but instead buried his face in the curve of Jamie’s shoulder.
Jamie’s hands slid off his hips to cradle his back as he pulled the Doctor up against him. He let out a groan as the Doctor’s silk robes pressed against his bare skin, fluttering his eyes closed at the sensation. “It’s all right,” he breathed, drawing whorls on the Doctor’s back. After several moments like this he said, “Doctor, you’re trembling.”
This close to Jamie, skin pressed against silk pressed against skin, with Jamie’s scent filling his nose, Jamie’s voice filling his ear, Jamie’s breath on his neck and his hands on his back, the Doctor was lost. His want was so strong he was paralyzed by it. “Jamie,” he breathed into the boy’s neck, before pressing his lips against the hot skin.
Jamie’s back arched at the sensation, which was all the encouragement the Doctor needed. He was beyond rational thought, letting his body ride solely on impulse and the obsession. He kissed a line up Jamie’s neck until he reached the curve of his jaw. There he stopped and opened his eyes. He found Jamie watching him with a mixture of desire and confusion.
It was easy to tell that the silk was what was arousing Jamie, but that the kissing wasn’t bothering him, only adding to the sensation. Jamie’s hand tightened on the Doctor’s back, grasping the silk fabric possessively. “Doctor?” he questioned, scooting back a bit on the bed, encouragingly.
“It’s all right,” the Doctor whispered, pulling back to look Jamie’s body over again. For several seconds he didn’t touch Jamie at all and the deprivation of his body was almost painful. “It is all right, isn’t it?”
Jamie nodded, scooting back further until he was on the bed properly. He stuck his feet under the covers, making a little noise of pleasure as his legs slipped between the silk covers. “You’re warm,” Jamie said, reaching out for him.
The Doctor complied, crawling not only onto the bed, but over Jamie as well, into his arms. He pulled the silk sheet over them, slowly, blissfully settling his weight against Jamie’s body. The boy arched up against him, arms tightening to hold the Doctor closer, and when he did the Doctor bent and kissed him at last. He had never thought very fondly of kissing; in the past he had shared less than wonderful examples of it, and found the practice overall to be messy and unnecessary.
This time it was unlike anything he’d ever experienced. Jamie was fevered and kissed him back with wild abandon, as though he’d been holding back his own desires for such a coming together between them for a long time. The kiss was messy, like the Doctor had experienced, but he found now that that lead to his enjoyment of it. Jamie’s taste invigorated him, Jamie’s tongue sent sparks shooting down through his body into his groin. He wanted to be part of Jamie in a way he’d never felt he needed to be part of someone before, and the kiss, and the way the boy kissed back, only seemed to heighten his need for an even more intense union.
The sensation of warm silk all around was too much for Jamie and he groaned and gave himself over, returning the Doctor’s kiss with great vigor. He rubbed his body against the sheets and the Doctor’s silken robes. It was easy, after that, for the Doctor to get what he wanted. Jamie didn’t need much stimulation to go from enjoying the silk to being sexually aroused by it. He was young, easy to please and eager to please in return. Neither of them thought much about the situation, far too gone on reaching the heights of joy with their own obsessions.
To the Doctor, touching Jamie was like drinking water after days without. Jamie’s body was hot to the touch, but refreshing and cool all at once. All the stress he’d piled on over the last few hours drained from him as he gave himself over to his desires. Each kiss was like a breath of air when he’d had none.
For Jamie, every sensation was just an extension of his love of the feeling of the silk. It was hard to tell the difference between the Doctor’s soft mouth and the warm sheets beneath him. He had been close on his own, but with the Doctor’s body pressing into him, and the Doctor’s mouth and hands caressing him, it was as though he’d stepped into a pool of silk and was now drowning in the most delightfully exquisite of ways. As the silk stayed all around him, he found no reason to complain when the Doctor gently divested him of his silken boxers. To him, it was all an extension of the pleasure he felt from being between the sheets. Whatever chill he might have experienced was quickly overridden by the Doctor’s deft, warm hand.
It was finally being able to give up control of a situation that did it for the Doctor; allowing himself ride out a pent up desire to its utmost end was not something he often allowed himself. Jamie, however, was willing and encouraging, and the Doctor found touching him, making love to him, was like fitting pieces of himself, ones he thought he’d lost forever, back into place.
Having the boy was fulfilling a gut-clenching needed, satiating him in a way he’d never been satiated. He flooded with such relief when he finally reached the end that for several moments he couldn’t even move. It was only Jamie softly stroking the silk on his back that finally brought him around and let him finish properly.
When it was over, he collapsed atop Jamie, silk robes still loosely tied about his waist. He rolled off the boy, feeling sticky and sweaty and wonderfully relieved, but Jamie just pulled him close again, not yet willing to lose the warm silk body so close to his.
The Doctor complied contently. He was utterly blissful and fell fast asleep with his arm around Jamie’s shoulder, and Jamie’s head pillowed against his chest.
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Chapter 3: Chapter 3
Author's Notes: Some more plot! Yay!
The Doctor awoke some hours later, aware only vaguely that it was morning. The velvet curtains were still drawn, so no beam of light had woken him, though sunshine still dimly suffused through them, illuminated the room. He stretched luxuriously, delighting in the feeling of warm silk all around him. His arm encountered Jamie, who still slumbered peacefully beside him.
The sight of the boy made the Doctor stir, and he quickly bent down, unable to help himself, and kissed Jamie until he awoke. At first Jamie return the kiss, slow and gentle as he came to.
It was only when Jamie’s eyes snapped open and the boy jerked back from him in surprise that the Doctor realized that this was not at all what he should be doing, or whom he should be doing it with. “Doctor?” Jamie gaped, mouth open, lips swollen.
“Oh my,” the Doctor said, shaking his head clear. “Oh dear me, Jamie.”
Jamie was touching his mouth, a somewhat mortified and confused expression on his face. “What’s going on?”
“Oh crumbs,” the Doctor fretted and began wringing his hands again. The desire to have Jamie again was still there, but it wasn’t as strong as it had been last night. He forced the want down as best he could, which was rather hard considering the boy in bed beside him wasn’t wearing a stitch of clothes, and he could still taste him on his lips.
The Doctor focused. He had a scared and violated friend to deal with now. “It’s this blasted castle, Jamie! It’s made us obsessed with things!” He didn’t want to leave the warmth of the bed or Jamie, but he forced himself away anyway, pulling his robe tightly around him, retying the sash. The loss of contact with Jamie was like ice had been poured over him. He staggered at the loss of the blissful sensation just being near Jamie had given, somewhat weakened without it. “Oh, you’ll never forgive me,” he wailed, fighting the urge to crawl back into bed with him down. “I’ll never forgive me!”
Jamie wasn’t watching him. He was running his hand over the sheets contemplatively. “Don’t feel quite right in the head, Doctor,” he admitted, squinting. He lifted the sheets and peered down at himself. “And I seem t’ have lost me clothing.”
“Oh, Jamie,” the Doctor cried, dancing from foot to foot on the cold stone floor. “Jamie, what have I done?”
Comprehension, or perhaps memory, seemed to finally dawn on Jamie. He lifted his eyes off the sheets, focusing them on the fretting man before him. “Doctor? Last night, what did you . . . ? Did we . . . ?”
“I did! I took advantage of you!” He stopped dancing from foot to foot, submitting to the cold stones, looking sorrowfully at Jamie.
Jamie thought about this for a while, remembering the night before as best he could. He blushed somewhat, and, picking up on the Doctor’s distress and fear, quickly swung his legs over the side of the bed and presented his back to the man. “Where’s Victoria?” he asked in the most commanding voice he could muster.
“She’s safe,” the Doctor said in a softer voice. “I swear, Jamie, it was only you, and only because of something that the Prince Regent said. If I had had any idea that–”
“Doctor,” Jamie snapped, “just shut up for a moment, will y’?”
The Doctor dressed rapidly; his clothes had been laundered during the night and were neatly folded on the dresser. The thought that one of the maids had come in and potentially seen he and Jamie together in the bed made his cheeks burn in a way he hadn’t experienced since he was a boy.
He departed the room without another word, eager to let Jamie be alone, and to evaluate the problem as a whole by himself. He shut the door behind him, but then leaned heavily against it. There was no excuse for last night. There was no way to take it back or make it up to Jamie. He had most likely quite effectively destroyed his friendship with the boy. The thought made his chest ache, and in his current obsession-deprived state, he found it was a struggle to remain on his feet.
“Sir?” The Doctor looked up to find Milyan standing before him. “I got that list as you wanted me to write up.” He unfolded a piece of paper from his pocket and handed it over.
“Oh. Oh, yes, thank you.” Accepting it, the Doctor skimmed over all the meaningless names. He vainly tried to sort his mind and remember what he’d been thinking last night when he’d asked the man to compile the list for him in the first place.
“You all right, sir?”
The Doctor sighed heavily, shaking his head. “No, I don’t think I am.” Pushing away from the door was like admitting defeat, but as much as he wanted, he didn’t have time to contemplate Jamie right now. He desperately wanted to return to the boy–wanted to go back inside and perhaps even grovel–but he couldn’t. He had to deal with what was going on in the palace first. He could talk with Jamie once it was all over and he had this sorted out; when the very thought of the boy, of being with him, didn’t make his heart rates increase.
“Something I can help with?”
Sighing again, the Doctor shook his head. “No, I’m afraid not. Listen, Milyan, I had better check on my young friend Victoria. Do you happen to know which room she’s in?” Victoria could help ground him, he knew. Fretting over her would help and focus him.
“Just a door down, sir,” Milyan said, stepping aside so he could gesture. “Shall I have breakfast sent up for you, or will you be joining the Prince down below?”
“I suppose we’ll be joining him. At least my companions will be, I hope. I think I need to speak with Tianna again.”
“Very good, sir. I’ll go inform the cook then.”
“Yes, thank you.”
No sooner than Milyan had gone did the door to the Doctor’s room open, revealing Jamie, now properly attired.
With his escort now gone, the Doctor realized this made it seem like he’d just been loitering around in the hall outside the room, waiting for him. He straightened, purposefully avoiding Jamie’s eyes, and squashed down the desire to reach out and touch him. “I was just going to find Victoria,” he very brusquely said.
“Aye, the thought was on my mind too,” Jamie answered. He shut the door behind him, shuffling a little. “Don’t much like the way this thing’s affectin’ me. Was more effort getting’ out of that bed than near anything I’ve ever experienced.”
“You’re addicted to the silk,” the Doctor explained.
“Aye,” Jamie agreed. “Know that much, Doctor.”
The Doctor patted himself down awkwardly, needing to do something with his hands. “Well, Victoria is this way. I’d like you to keep an eye on her today,” he perfunctorily said. “Last night I found her in the lake in the middle of the night, gathering lily flowers off the water.”
“Seems that’s what she’s obsessed with.” He sighed deeply before rapping on her door. “Victoria, dear? It’s the Doctor.”
Victoria, when she answered, seemed rather improved from her ordeal the previous night. She had clearly been up some time and was now dressed and all smiles. “Doctor! Jamie!” she exclaimed, drawing them in. “You must see the arrangement Maggie brought up for me this morning.”
Victoria spun around, directing their attention to a vase stuffed with bright orange calla lilies. “They’re very lovely,” the Doctor placidly said. “I’m most glad they please you.”
“They’re unlike anything I’ve ever seen before,” Victoria dreamily sighed. She reached out to stroke one of the petals.
“Yes, they are,” the Doctor agreed. “Victoria, I must apologize again for last night. I really am very sorry for pulling at you like that.”
“Never you mind, Doctor. I was being silly–I should have gone out with an escort and a lantern. I didn’t realize how silly I was being until I found myself shivering in the tub with some maid I don’t know washing my hair.” She laughed embarrassedly. “I’m glad you found me before I did something dreadful.”
“Now how’s about some breakfast?” Jamie interrupted. “I’m half starved.”
“Oh, yes, let’s!”
“All right, all right, you two. Now promise me this,” the Doctor said, imploring his companions in earnest. “I want you to stay together. We’re all affected with this obsession sickness and I don’t want it getting the best of any of us again. Victoria, I recommend you keep some flowers by you at all times so you’re never lacking. Jamie, you might want to get a bit of silk fabric.”
“Aye, Doctor. I’m one step ahead of you.” He gave a light tug to the silk ascot about his throat. After a moment, he lifted his chin and asked, “What about y’, then?”
“I’m going to talk to the King’s physician. I believe she’ll be able to shed some light on the current situation.”
Jamie nodded slowly. “Well, then I should come with y’.”
“No, no. Jamie, I can’t think clearly when you’re around. You and Victoria have breakfast together, please. Then take her out to pick flowers, won’t you? We can meet up again for lunch, if you’d like.”
Jamie was scowling but the Doctor ignored him and quickly backed out of Victoria’s room. “Stay safe, you two. And for pity’s sake, stay together!” He hurried off down the corridor.
Victoria glanced to Jamie once the Doctor had gone. “What’s all this about obsessions?”
Jamie shrugged, putting his hands on his belt. “Oh, I don’t know. Something in the air affectin’ our thoughts, y’ know how it is. Everywhere we go it’s one thing or another.” He glared down the hall in the direction the Doctor had gone for several long seconds before shaking his head. At last, he offered Victoria his arm. “Come on then, let’s go get somethin’ t’ eat.”
The Doctor retraced his steps to the library. He was fairly certain he shouldn’t be there without an escort but that was rather the point. When he arrived he found the doors closed, but not locked. He glanced down the hall carefully before letting himself in.
Inside, the atmosphere was peaceful. He stepped lightly so his arrival wouldn’t ring out on the flagstones as he approached the place he’d last seen the King.
Peeking around the last aisle gave him a view of the King. As far as he could tell, Tianna wasn’t present. Straightening himself out, he stepped from behind the aisle and walked over to the couches. He’d intended to sit beside the man, but the books piled beside him made that impossible to accomplish. Instead he folded his hands before him and smiled. “Your Majesty,” he prefaced, “I’ve some very important questions to ask you.”
After several more attempts did nothing to rouse the man’s attention from his book, the Doctor took a deep breath and pulled the tome away from him. He expected a shrill cry, perhaps screaming in the way Victoria had the previous night, but the King just vacantly blinked up at him. The wiry white brows knit together in thought, but after several seconds the King simply reached for another book.
“Not yet,” the Doctor said, pulling the King’s hand away. He tugged, managing to get the man to his feet. “Listen to me. Your Majesty, can you hear me?”
“I can hear you, what the blazes do you want?” the King snapped. He tugged his arms away from the Doctor and sat himself back down. “I’m busy.”
“It is imperative that I speak with you!” the Doctor pouted. “Listen to me!”
“Make an appointment with my councilor!”
“You haven’t got one!” the Doctor shouted. “Don’t you even know where you are, man?”
The King merely licked his finger and turned the page of his new book. It was obvious the Doctor had already lost him.
“Oh gingersnaps!” the Doctor pouted.
“I could have you arrested for attempted sabotage,” Tianna said, her velvet voice filling the room as she seemed to materialize out of the shadows. “No one is to see the King without a royal escort, let alone a stranger.”
“I don’t believe he understands the gravity of the situation,” the Doctor protested.
“Nor do you, I think,” Tianna replied. “It is past time for you to leave, Doctor.”
“What are you doing to him you vile woman? It can’t be magic, can it? It must be some mind-altering drug. I’m right, aren’t I?” He shook a finger at her. “I won’t let you get away with this.”
“There is a sickness here, Doctor,” she agreed, “but I assure you that I am not the source of it.”
“Of course you are, locking him away up here like this! It’s no secret the previous physician took ill and left, leaving room for you to take over. I’m sure I’ll find that wasn’t just coincidence.”
Tianna snarled, her lips curling back to reveal her unnaturally bright teeth. “Your imagination is run away with you, Doctor. I wonder if you’re not obsessed with conspiracy theories.”
“Hardly! I should think you’re obsessed with power! Is that what this is all about?” He shook with anger–the idea that this woman had almost got Victoria drowned and potentially fractured his friendship with Jamie for her own political gain infuriated him. “I will see that you’re stopped!”
“You are a small and foolish man, Doctor,” she snapped. “Guards!”
“Well now! You didn’t have to bring height into it!” the Doctor protested.
Before Tianna could speak further or the Doctor could protest more, two guards hurried into the room. All the physician had to do was merely point a long finger at the Doctor and the guards were upon him, restraining him by his arms.
“Mistress?” one guard asked.
“Please escort our guest to the breakfast hall–I do believe he’s gotten lost.”
Before they hauled him off, Tianna stepped dangerously close to him, bending to speak to him. “Before you rush in again, Doctor, I recommend you have a clue of what you’re dealing with. Otherwise, you’ll find you’re so far out of your league that we’re not even on the same page anymore.”
“The mixed metaphors do not become you,” he scoffed as he was dragged from the room.
The guards lugged him down the stairs and shoved him through the doors of a smaller dining hall. It was set up for breakfast; the Prince, Jamie and Victoria were already seated, eating. Furious at his failure with the King and humiliated somewhat by his extraction and being unceremoniously deposited in front of his friends, the Doctor dusted himself off embarrassedly and straightened his sad, frumpy clothes.
“Problems with Tianna, Doctor?” the Prince serenely asked.
The Doctor looked sharply at him. He tilted his head curiously, dusting his arms off extravagantly. “No, not at all. What makes you say that?”
“Just an idle guess,” the Prince replied. “Won’t you join us?” He gestured to an empty but set seat.
The Doctor glanced to his companions. Victoria had her basket, full of fresh flowers, by her feet; Jamie’s ascot was in his lap and he was worrying two ends of the fabric together between his index finger and thumb. They both seemed content and unharmed and he quickly averted his eyes off Jamie’s hands, fixing them on Reginald. “I suppose a quick bite wouldn’t hurt.”
He sat and buttered a roll without meeting the eyes of either of his companions. He ate quickly, planning to excuse himself as soon as possible to figure out a better way to get around Tianna. He had not expected to be engaged in conversation and was thus a little slow when the Prince asked, “I trust you slept well last night, Doctor?” His grin was wide and knowing.
The Doctor could feel Jamie’s eyes on him but he refused to meet them, especially not with Victoria sitting right beside the boy. “It was lovely, thank you,” he replied in a clipped tone, lifting his napkin to wipe his mouth. He didn’t look at Jamie, but he could tell the boy had somewhat relaxed across the table.
“Might I inquire as to how long we are to be honored to have you as our guests?” the Prince questioned.
“Oh, not too much longer, I’m afraid. We certainly don’t want to overstay our welcome,” the Doctor answered. He took a drink of water and set aside his barely eaten roll before pushing to his feet. “Well, that was filling. I think I’ll just have a little stroll with my friends. Jamie, Victoria, shall we?”
“But I’ve not yet finished!” Jamie protested, gesturing to his plate of food.
“I’ll come with you, Doctor,” Victoria said, moving to stand.
“No, no, we can’t leave Jamie alone.”
“And just why not?” Jamie demanded.
The Doctor wrung his hands. “I don’t want either of you left alone.” He sat back down with a grunt. “Hurry up then. I want to speak to both of you when we’re done, in private.”
“Oh, I assure you I don’t mind,” the Prince said.
The Doctor eyed him cautiously. He rubbed his hands together after a moment and shrugged. “It concerns your father’s physician, Tianna. You might not want to hear what I have to say.”
The Prince’s eyes narrowed. “I have some of my own suspicions about Mistress Tianna, Doctor. I might be very interested indeed with what you have to say about her.”
Placing his hands on the table, the Doctor explained. “Since our arrival in your castle, my friends and I have been . . . afflicted with a sort of sickness.”
“I’ll say,” Jamie muttered.
“Hush, Jamie,” the Doctor chided. He directed his attention back on the Prince. “As I was saying, we’ve become a little sick. I’ve noticed similar bouts of illness amongst some of your servants, and your father seems afflicted as well.”
“Yes, I had noticed. Tianna was brought in when the obsession . . . overtook our previous royal physician, but it wasn’t long before we began to suspect that she might be the cause of the sickness herself.”
“Precisely. It’s easy to see she’s got a good hold on your father, and that you yourself are slightly touched by the illness.”
The Prince shifted uncomfortably. “It does not interfere with my duties,” he insisted.
“No, but your incessant joking wearies your already taxed servants. Is anyone trying to stop this woman? It’s clear she wants control of the throne. You’re her last real obstacle.”
The Prince set his utensils down. “What can we do? We have no proof and even if we did, we have no way of knowing how to stop her, or reversing the illness!”
“Well, you leave that to me. I’ve been preparing my own investigations, of a sort.” He withdrew the list of names Milyan had drawn up for him. “This would work better with your permission, of course. I’d like to interview the people on this list. If I can cross reference all their experiences, I might be able to narrow it down to a source.”
The Doctor handed the list to the Prince, who studied it for several seconds in silence. “Yes, of course,” he finally replied, “but many of these people no longer reside in the castle. They’ve been moved to special facilities in the city.”
“Yes, I realize that,” the Doctor said. “Which is why traveling with a royal escort might really speed things up for me.”
“A proper investigation,” Jamie conspiratorially said to Victoria. “Now that’s a bit more like it.”
“You and Victoria will of course be staying here,” the Doctor said glancing over but not looking at Jamie.
“What!” Jamie protested.
“I’ve got things for both of you to do while you’re here. There simply isn’t enough time to interview everyone on that list, so you two will have to help me.”
“Oh, but Doctor!” Jamie cried.
“Please don’t argue with me, Jamie. I’m under a lot of stress right now and I need you both to be as cooperative as possible.”
“We’ll help however we can, Doctor,” Victoria helpfully said.
Reginald handed the slip of paper back. “I think I could find a guard to escort you through the city, although I fear your plight might be futile.”
“I’m aware that many of the people on that list are too far gone to be of much use to me, but I simply must try to obtain all the facts.”
“Very well. Go to the stables in one hour–I will see to it that you are provided with a horse and escort.”
“Thank you very much,” the Doctor said. He turned back to his companions, eyes focused on Jamie’s plate. “Are you quite finished now? I’d like to explain your task to you a little more implicitly.”
Jamie crammed food into his mouth. “Oh, aye. We walk around, talk to the lads and lasses on the paper, write down what they say and report it all back to y’.”
“Not quite just that.”
Jamie lifted his eyes from his plate to fix them on the Doctor, but the Doctor immediately looked at Victoria.
“Well, I’m done,” Jamie said, throwing his napkin onto his plate. He stood up and busied himself with retying his ascot about his neck.
“I am too,” Victoria agreed, picking up her basket and rising as well.
The Doctor and the Prince followed suit. “Very well then, Doctor. I hope your research yields positive results. I will attend to matters now.”
“As do I,” he sadly said. “Thank you.”
Jamie and Victoria came around the table. “So what’s the real plan, Doctor?” Jamie asked.
The Doctor focused on Victoria. “I’ve a very bad feeling about all of this. I don’t want you two leaving the castle grounds under any circumstances.”
“Oh, Doctor, c’mon now,” Jamie began.
“No, no, listen to me,” the Doctor said, waving his hand for silence. “It’s very important you two do this for me. It’s more than just interviewing people.”
Victoria looked between the two men and shook her head. “Are you two fighting?”
“No,” Jamie snapped. “The Doctor’s just under a lot of stress, like he said.” He crossed his arms, challenging the Doctor to disagree.
“Jamie’s right, Victoria. Please don’t worry about it.” He handed her the list of names. “Let’s write up a copy of this for you two. Additionally, I need you to get into the kitchens. I’ve a suspicion that this sickness might be related to the food.”
“That we just ate?” Victoria said, alarmed.
“Yes, well, maybe. It’s an idea. The nice man who made me that list said his wife used to be the head cook but fell ill with this sickness and was replaced. The King’s physician was replaced too. I’ve a feeling when we finish our interviews we’ll find most of the senior staff replaced. That there’s tampering with the food is just an idea, but one worth looking into.”
“What should we search for?” Victoria asked.
“Anything unusual. I trust you know what to expect in a kitchen?”
“Of course.” She smiled brightly.
“And you’re jus’ going out there by yourself,” Jamie flatly said.
“No, Jamie. I’ll have the escort the Prince is getting for me. I’ll be back tonight, don’t worry,” he reassured.
“Sure, and what if something happens to y’?”
“It won’t. But listen–if you do run into any trouble and you don’t feel safe in the castle and can’t find me, you are to head back to the TARDIS.”
“The TARDIS!” Jamie cried. “That’s a three hour walk from here!”
“Yes, I know, Jamie,” the Doctor said, folding his hands. “But it’s the safest place on this planet, and I can meet you there if we run into problems.”
Jamie snorted but Victoria put a hand on him to calm him. “We’ll do as you’ve asked, Doctor. But do you really think you can help them?” she asked.
“I do hope so. I’d hate to have put you both through this for nothing.” He took his handkerchief out of his pocket and wiped his face down before stuffing it away again. “Well, then let’s get these names copied so I can get going. We’ve all got a long day ahead of us.”
“Yes, Doctor,” Victoria agreed.
“And remember, you two: stay together. I don’t want either of you wandering off. There is strength in numbers.”
“Aye, we know, Doctor.”
The Doctor looked around shadily before leaning closer to them. “And watch out for Reginald, too. I don’t quite trust him, either.”
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Chapter 4: Chapter 4
Author's Notes: Some more plot, mostly some more pr0n. Cheers, hope you enjoy. I'm rather fond of this chapter. >_>
Interviewing the townsfolk was not easy.
The list of names Milyan had written up for the Doctor was accurate as far as he could tell, but actually locating the people was completely different than simply confirming their names were correct. When the Doctor asked as to the location of the home of one Miss Butterfield, he was directed to her distraught family. They in turn informed him of the safe house she was being cared for at.
Expecting to find a great deal of obsession sickness sufferers at the location, the Doctor was then disappointed to learn that the facility had been shut down due to overcrowding and the patients spread to private facilities around the city. The result was similar across the board. No one was where he or she was supposed to be, and most of the few he did end up meeting were far too gone to provide useful information to him.
By the time the sun had begun to set, the Doctor had only crossed half the names off on his list. Most of them hadn’t yielded fruitful interviews.
He reluctantly ate while he was out, hoping the food on the streets might be less contaminated than that in the castle, but found it neither filling nor satisfying. He returned with his escort shortly before the royal guards closed the castle gate for the evening.
He found Jamie and Victoria sitting together in one of the large studies, enjoying the warmth of a blazing fire. Jamie had dozed off in a plush armchair, but Victoria was contentedly weaving flower crowns out of a large stockpile of daisy-like flowers. She looked up when he entered, smiled upon seeing him, then instantly sobered and got to her feet. “Doctor, what is it?”
The Doctor put a hand out to steady himself against the back of a couch. “I’m fine, Victoria, just a little tired.”
“You look absolutely dreadful,” she breathed. She took his hand and quickly led him around, settling him in the seat she’d just vacated. “What happened?”
The Doctor mopped his face with his handkerchief, settling in the chair and closing his eyes wearily. He felt absolutely drained. “Well, I visited just about every home and shop in the town proper, some of them twice. I interviewed the people I could find, and got the information I more or less expected to get, which wasn’t very much, I’m afraid.” Cracking open an eye, he focused on her. “Did you two fare much better? I’m pleased to see neither of you dead or missing.”
Victoria perched neatly on the arm of the chair, speaking softly so as to not rouse Jamie. “Well, you didn’t leave us with questions to ask them, so we had to come up with our own. It was very peculiar though–your friend must have listed his friends or only the people he knew, because we met lots of servants clearly not affected with the sickness and who were worried and upset that their names weren’t on the list.”
“Oh dear,” the Doctor said, rubbing his face. “I hadn’t thought of that.” He contemplated the news for a bit before shaking his head. “Well, what did you learn from the ones you were able to interview?”
“Not much. Most of them simply confirmed that they weren’t obsessed. But we did find something interesting about the people whose names weren’t on the list.”
Excitedly, Victoria shifted closer to him. “Yes! Almost all the names not on the list were new transfers to the castle, instated to replace those servants who had been relieved of duty due to the illness.”
“Well now, that would be a fascinating list to peruse.”
Victoria’s grin broadened. She reached down into her flower basket and withdrew a neatly folded piece of paper. Handing it to him, he saw it was filled with her flowery script. “A list of all the new servants and their job functions,” Victoria proudly said.
“Very good!” the Doctor cheered, looking it over eagerly.
Toward the end of the list his eyes began to glaze over. Whatever burst of energy he had managed at Victoria’s revelation was quickly leaving him. He shook his head to keep himself conscious and then forced himself to his feet. “Well, I must admit I’m a bit worn out right now, my dear Victoria. I hate leaving this until tomorrow to sort, but I simply must get some rest right now. It looks like Jamie’s already beaten us both to it.” He glanced to the sleeping boy again and his pulse instantly quickened. Swallowing hard, he looked away. “So, goodnight my dear. Tell Jamie I’m sorry I missed him. I’ll see you both for breakfast.”
“Oh. Well,” Victoria stood dumbly in the middle of the room as the Doctor scurried out. “Goodnight then, Doctor,” she called weakly.
The Doctor closed the door to his room, set the list of new names down on the dresser and immediately splashed his face with the cold water that was in the basin. He took in his reflection in the mirror and immediately winced–the face peering back at him was blanched, old and grey. He felt weak in a way he hadn’t ever felt weak before. It was as though his head had been stuffed with cotton and he was moving slowly through molasses. His eyes felt gritty when he blinked and when he moved too fast, his hearts seemed to stutter as though unable to keep up.
In the bureau drawer he found a warm cotton nightgown to wear and barely managed to change into it before he collapsed into bed. He lay face down on the quilt for several seconds. His mind was still operating at normal capacity, but his body seemed filled with lead. He knew the source, but squeezed his eyes shut and vainly hoped that he’d be able to sleep most of the effects off during the night. He absolutely had to be more functional than this in the morning.
The kerosene lamp on his nightstand was still burning bright, but he couldn’t find the strength to roll over and turn it off. He barely managed to raise his head to one of the pillows before sleep and exhaustion finally took him.
Hours, or maybe minutes, later he awoke for no discernable reason.
He was vaguely aware that the light from the lamp had been dimmed, but his sleep-addled mind chalked it up to the oil being diminished. Something had woken him, and as he turned his head to look around to figure out what the source was, he realized much of the cottony feeling in his head had subsided.
He rolled onto his back and sat up, putting a hand to his brow. There was still residual, throbbing pain, but he had to admit it was much improved. He blinked rapidly, adjusting to the light, and sighed in minor relief as more of the pain cleared.
“I thought as much.”
The Doctor started as Jamie stepped out from the shadows beyond the canopy of the bed. The boy eyed him for several seconds before stepping closer to him; he was still dressed in his daywear, booted feet ringing out softly on the stones. The Doctor surmised rather quickly that not much more than an hour could have passed since he’d collapsed in the bed. “Jamie, you shouldn’t be here,” he said.
“And jus’ what good t’ us do y’ suppose y’ are half dead? Victoria told me how y’ looked when y’ came in, and I half suspected I’d find as much.”
“Jamie,” the Doctor said, almost warningly. “Please go. I’ll be fine. You really don’t need to worry about me.”
“Och, don’t I? If I don’t, who will? You’re certainly not worrying about yourself.” He moved closer until he was standing directly in front of the Doctor. “I know what’s going on here, Doctor. I’m not stupid.”
“I never imagined you were,” he said, averting his eyes and trying to control his rapidly accelerating heart rates.
“Yes y’ do. Y’ do all the time.”
“Not when it matters. And it matters now, Jamie. So, please: go back to your own room and let me get some sleep.”
The Doctor realized he was shivering for several seconds before he realized quite why–it was in anticipation of Jamie’s touch, which came after the boy spent several moments contemplating his next course of action. Warm fingers brushed against the Doctor’s skin before Jamie’s hand cupped the Doctor’s face, palm against his cheek.
The Doctor’s eyes slid closed at the touch. He shuddered once more, quite noticeably, and then stilled. He couldn’t look at Jamie. It was hard to humble a Time Lord, but he felt properly brought down. What Jamie seemed to be doing was almost beyond his ability to comprehend. He wasn’t sure why, though: Jamie frequently, eagerly risked his life for the Doctor’s. How was this any different?
“I know you’d do th’ same, if it were me,” Jamie said, gently rubbing his thumb against the Doctor’s cheek before pulling his hand away.
“Oh, no–” the Doctor protested before thinking. Losing contact was like having his oxygen supply shut off, like being forced underwater without preparation. Jamie still stood right before him, but the Doctor found it increasingly hard to breathe.
At last he opened his eyes. He found Jamie watching him closely. The Scotsman didn’t smile or flinch, simply waited until he was certain he had the Doctor’s attention and then easily shrugged out of his leather vest, letting it drop to the floor with a soft rustle. As the Doctor watched, Jamie unthreaded his silk ascot and let it flutter away before starting on undoing the buttons of his dress shirt. He kept solid eye contact with the Doctor the entire time, undressing with a fluid purpose.
“Jamie,” the Doctor tried one last time, but instead of coming out as the warning he’d intended, it was more like praise.
Once Jamie’s shirt fell to the floor, his hands dropped to his waist, unfastening his sporran quickly and efficiently before loosening his kilt. The garment fell to the floor with a soft thud. The air in the room was cold, but it was the Doctor in his cotton gown who was shaking, not Jamie. It took only a few seconds for Jamie to pull his shoes and socks off and once he had, he wasted no more time, stepping forward confidently to touch, tilting the Doctor’s head back to kiss him.
Fire raced through the Doctor at the contact and he reached out, grasping Jamie and pulling the boy to him. The kissing was fierce and this time Jamie seemed far more in control of himself and the situation than he had been the previous night. They ended up on the bed, Jamie straddling the Doctor’s hips, the Doctor’s back pressed against the headboard and a pillow.
While they kissed, Jamie fumbled with the Doctor’s nightgown, fussing with the rough cotton to no avail. At last he broke the kiss, leaned forward and heavily panted, “Take this off,” into the Doctor’s ear.
It required some slight rearranging but at last the Doctor managed to unseat himself and tug it over his head. Jamie settled back into his lap when the gown was gone, pressing the back of his thighs against the top of the Doctor’s before bending to kiss him again. The Doctor caressed Jamie’s sides and back, looking up at the boy glowing by the dim light of the kerosene lamp in wonder. “You don’t have to do this,” he whispered.
“Should I stop?” Jamie asked, matching the Doctor’s tone.
Closing his eyes, the Doctor almost whimpered. “You can’t ask me that.”
“Sit up,” Jamie coaxed, shifting his weight so the Doctor could. When the Doctor compiled, Jamie resettled astride him. “Look at me.”
The Doctor obeyed at last, pulling his eyes off Jamie’s torso to look up at his face.
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my travels with y’, Doctor, it’s that y’ can’t let a foul situation rule y’.” He reached down between them and let his warm hands find the Doctor’s hardened length. “Better t’ rule it instead,” he said, watching the Doctor’s face closely. He shifted closer, until he could grasp both himself and the Doctor in his hands, pressing and rubbing them together. “I own this moment,” he said in a slow, drawn out voice. His body began to undulate with the ministrations of his hands. “It doesn’t own us.”
There were things the Doctor wanted to say, praise he wanted to heap and wisdom he wanted to impart, but those functions of his brain had shut down when the rest of him had awoken. His hands gripped Jamie’s hips tightly, fingertips pressing hard into the boy’s supple flesh. In his hearts, he felt joy and pride and a great deal of humility in Jamie’s presence. He couldn’t form the words to properly thank and repay him, so he tried with his body and his hands and his mouth and his tongue and his lips.
He knew what Jamie had been intending, but unseated the boy fairly easily, putting him on his back effortlessly. He covered Jamie with his body, replacing the boy’s hand with his own. It wasn’t right to suffer the illness and have Jamie do the work. If the boy was going to willingly submit to this, the Doctor wanted to make sure it was the best he could make it–after all, it was sex with Jamie that he was obsessed with, not Jamie seducing him–though he realized in his current state there wasn’t much of a difference in how it made him feel.
He let his hand make Jamie writhe in pleasure for a bit before he gently tugged the quilt off the bed. He was a bit rough with Jamie, turning him over somewhat forcefully, but by the time Jamie was able to protest, the boy had rolled right onto the silk sheets and the retort that had begun to form on his lips broke into a strangled groan of ecstasy.
The Doctor marveled that he didn’t lose him right there.
“Doctor,” Jamie moaned out. His hands reached out for him, and the Doctor found them, letting Jamie cling to him as he covered him again. Jamie’s hands massaged the Doctor’s shoulders and back as the Doctor worked him slowly with his hand, placing kisses on the boy’s open mouth whenever the urge for such a thing grew too great to resist.
At last Jamie’s back arched, his body tensed and his hands gripped the Doctor. He shuddered once as he gurgled out a cry of release and then stilled, face buried against the Doctor’s neck. The Doctor kissed the top of Jamie’s head, cradling him close for several seconds while the boy came down from his high.
When one of Jamie’s hands fell off the Doctor’s back to run against the silk sheets, he determined he had recovered enough. “All right?” he asked in a soft whisper. Jamie replied simply by nodding his head, his face still buried against the Doctor’s shoulder. “Shh,” he cooed gently, sensing the boy’s sudden embarrassment even through the mists of his own arousal.
The Doctor fumbled for a moment until he found his discarded nightgown, and then very deftly wiped Jamie down with it. He tossed it aside when he had finished, shifting until he could kiss Jamie again. “It’s all right, my boy.”
It took several more seconds for Jamie’s former bravado to return; the Doctor judged the very moment it occurred: Jamie’s hand, in affectionately running the length of the Doctor’s body, encountered his still firm erection. In that moment Jamie realized that his job wasn’t done. With some effort, he forced himself to sit up.
He met the Doctor’s eyes somewhat shyly, but broke into a laughing smile at the silly, kind expression the Doctor gave him. “Och, stop it, y’,” he protested.
“This sort of thing should be fun,” the Doctor said. “Not done in silence like a chore.”
“Aye, but it’s hard work,” Jamie protested.
The Doctor bent forward to kiss Jamie’s shoulder and effectively pull him up into a sitting position with him. “Did you all enjoy that?”
Jamie nodded, but said nothing.
“Then it should be fun.” He shifted until he was against the headboard again, pulling Jamie’s hand closer. “Come now, I should like some fun too.”
“Demandin’ little chappie, aren’t y’?” Jamie mocked as he complied.
“Oh, I am fond of commanding,” he said, then helped Jamie into position. “Like you were,” the Doctor urged, finally getting Jamie to straddle him like he had been. He enjoyed this position immensely–it afforded him a wonderful view of the object of his affection, illuminated by the wan golden light, and the headboard gave him support to stay upright. Jamie’s weight pressing down on him was wonderfully heavy and he only lamented he hadn’t thought to be better prepared.
“Good boy, Jamie,” he coaxed.
Jamie seemed to instinctively know what to do. His hand dropped between them again, finding he Doctor’s length. For several moments he simply held it, visualizing what he might want done to him, were the roles reversed. Then he clamped down securely and began to pump his hands.
The Doctor let out a strangled cry of delight and immediately placed his hands on Jamie’s shoulders for leverage. It was hard to work his hips against the weight of Jamie on top of them, but he found that made the sensation even better when he succeeded. Due to their placement, the Doctor was able to lean forward, pressing his forehead into Jamie’s shoulder as the boy rapidly found the right track to take him to the edge.
“Someday,” the Doctor panted in bliss as he neared the end, “I will show you a more effective way of going about all this.”
Jamie didn’t say anything in response, merely concentrated until he felt the Doctor tense against him. The man didn’t cry out as he came, but pressed his face against Jamie’s shoulder again, sagging heavily, gratefully, into the boy.
Relief like he’d never felt before flooded him, seeming to magnify the sensations he felt tenfold. One of Jamie’s hands wrapped around the Doctor’s back, holding him tightly until he had settled. Then he sat back on the Doctor’s thighs, found the crumpled nightgown and used it to clean the Doctor up in the same way the Doctor had used on him. He tossed it off the bed when he was done, but instead of climbing off and departing or going to sleep, he draped his arms over the Doctor’s shoulders, peering down at him.
“I do wonder what you’re thinking,” the Doctor said after he came to, feeling a wave of nervousness fluttering in the depths of his belly as he looked up at Jamie. Satiated now, he found he was in complete control of his faculties, and determined Jamie was too. It was a strange contrast compared to the hazy, pressing need of the night before.
“Curious a wee bit as t’ how y’ came up with this sort of thing t’ be obsessed with in the first place,” Jamie softly admitted.
“Oh, come now, Jamie. You don’t honestly think I chose this on my own?” Off Jamie’s skeptical expression, the Doctor said, “Well, you’d never seen silk before. You didn’t choose that, did you?”
“No, I suppose not,” Jamie admitted. “Though if I’d had t’ pick, I couldn’t’ve chose a better one.” He looked at the Doctor for a moment before at last sliding free of him to settle on the sheets. “Could I bring a set back t’ the TARDIS? Would spruce up my room a fine bit,” he said.
“Well, I suppose we could ask,” the Doctor replied, stretching out now that Jamie’s weight was gone. His brow furrowed. “Hasn’t your room got sheets like these?”
“Och, of course not.”
“No, not your room on the TARDIS, I mean the chambers you’ve got here.”
“Oh, aye. I mean, no. They’ve not got silk sheets, just the regular cotton ones.” Jamie was fondly stroking the fabric.
“Well, then how on Earth did you know these were?”
“I’m afraid I don’t understand, Doctor.”
“Last night you were in my bed because the sheets were silk. But why were you in here in the first place?”
“Oh, that.” Jamie lay down beside the Doctor on the bed, modestly pulling the sheets up over them but wriggling his legs in delight as he did. “I came in t’ talk to y’ ‘bout what happened t’ Victoria. I overheard the maids talkin’ ‘bout her and was a wee bit worried. When I heard y’ were in th’ bath, I decided t’ wait, and came over and sat on th’ bed. That’s when I noticed th’ silk pillows.” He studied his hand where it rested on the sheets for a few moments. “I don’t remember a whole lot of the rest, t’ be perfectly honest.”
“It’s all right,” the Doctor said, settling down to pillow his head against one of the soft, silk cushions. He felt rejuvenated but still weary from the day’s activities. “Getting a large dose of your obsession probably helped you face the day better. Being denied it makes you weak.”
“So I noticed,” Jamie said, rolling on to his side to poke the Doctor in the arm.
They smiled at each other for a few seconds.
At last, as if sensing the surrealness of the moment, Jamie propped himself up on his elbow, sobering quickly. “I had better go now,” he announced. “I don’t want t’ be around if y’ wake up as grouchy as y’ were yesterday.”
“I was concerned about you!” the Doctor protested. “We let the sickness overtake our rational thoughts.” More gently, he added, “I didn’t want you to be upset with me.”
“And why should I have been?” Jamie scowled. “After all, it isn’t you what’s doing this, but th’ sickness, right?”
“Jamie, don’t use that tone right now.”
“But it is a sickness, right?”
The Doctor sat up, sighing. “No, it is not a sickness. Jamie, what have you been reading? Enjoying silk isn’t a sickness, and neither is picking flowers. Having sex with someone you care deeply about is never a bad thing, in moderation. It’s the all consuming need that makes it dangerous.”
Into the silence, Jamie said, “Ben said this kind was a sickness.”
“Ben?” the Doctor echoed. “You’ve talked about this sort of thing with Ben? When was this?”
“When d’ y’ think, Doctor? When he was still on board the TARDIS.” Jamie sat up. After their tryst, Jamie had ended up on the left side of the bed, but his clothing was still in a heap on floor on the right side. He looked over, contemplating how to best return to them.
“Jamie, I had no idea you were curious about such things. You should have asked me.”
“Och, forget it,” Jamie said. “You’ll be all right alone tonight, won’t you? I don’t want t’ have done all this jus’ t’ find y’ weak and useless again in the mornin’.” He decided to crawl over the end of the bed to reach the right side.
“I’ll be fine, Jamie,” the Doctor said. Before the boy hopped to the floor and retrieved his clothes, the Doctor put a hand on his back to still him. In a quieter voice, he added, “But I’d consider it a kindness if you would stay.”
Jamie looked at him over his shoulder, his dark eyes glittering gold from the lamplight. After several moments of consideration, he said, “I hate that I don’t know if it’s just th’ obsession that’s makin’ y’ say that.”
The Doctor smiled softly, pulling Jamie gently back toward him. “And how should I know if you really want to stay with me, or just to sleep on my silk sheets? Let’s not argue this. I’d like you to stay, if you’d like to.”
Jamie struggled with the choice for a few seconds before submitting. “All right.” He crawled back across and settled down beside the Doctor, but reached down and pulled the quilt over them as well as the silk sheets. He let out another contented murmur as he did. The Doctor blew out the lamp before nestling in close beside the boy, but he did not touch him.
“Cured or no, Doctor, I want t’ leave this place tomorrow,” Jamie murmured into the still darkness.
“We will, Jamie. I promise, we will.”
Back to index
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
Author's Notes: Aha, the plot deepens, or something. Will be concluded in the next chapter. :)
After three hours, the Doctor awoke feeling refreshed and content. Aware it was still the middle of the night, he merely watched Jamie sleep for a few moments before slipping out of the bed. He cleaned up the room slightly, organizing Jamie’s clothes on a nearby chair and putting his gown in a hamper for dirty clothes. He dressed properly and lit another lamp by the desk, settling in to study the list of new names and vocations Victoria had given him.
Shortly before dawn one of the maids slipped in to take the clothes and refresh the water basin. She glanced briefly at the form in the bed and then started when she saw the Doctor seated at the desk. Her eyes darted between the two forms and she blushed. “Begging your pardon, sir,” she whispered. “Just tidying up, as it were.”
She hurried about her business and left quickly. The Doctor grew dimly aware of the state of the room and what had obviously happened in it. He rose at last, pulling back the velvet curtains to open a window. For a time he stood watching the sky turn from grey to pink to blue, but was back at the writing desk by the time the rising sun finally stirred Jamie from his slumber.
“Doctor?” he called.
“I’m here, Jamie,” the Doctor reassuringly said, but didn’t go to him.
The boy lounged for several minutes before finally managing to get himself away from the sheets. He dressed and went to the window, looking out as he buttoned his shirt. When he finished, he turned to the Doctor, doing up his cuffs as he approached. He ran a hand through his hair, trying to straighten it. His posture seemed overly casual as he leaned in. “Been up long?” he asked.
“A while, yes. I don’t need quite as much sleep as you.”
“Right, right.” Jamie sat against the desk, yawning sleepily as he continued to awaken. “Come up with any clever plans then?”
“Yes, actually. I need to speak with Tianna again, to be sure, but I do believe I’ve figured out the source of the sickness: airborne toxins. I’ve come up with a concoction I think will counter them. Of course, this is only speculation on paper.”
“Oh, well, that’s great,” Jamie said. He bent over the Doctor, casually putting a hand on his shoulder as he peered at the list of names and notes the Doctor had written.
The Doctor sighed at the touch, wishing briefly that he’d found another dressing gown to wear, before swatting the thought away. “You’re not going to like your part in all this.”
“D’ I ever?” Jamie asked.
“Come on, let’s collect Victoria. I want to explain this to both of you without being observed or interrupted.” The Doctor gathered the papers to him before pushing the chair back and getting to his feet.
He made his way to the door but stopped as Jamie’s hand fell against his arm, lightly restraining him. After a moment’s hesitation, he glanced up into the boy’s eyes.
“Victoria wouldn’t understand about last night, would she?” Jamie asked in a low voice.
The Doctor lowered his eyes contemplating the question silently, and the reality of the fact that there was all that still to deal with, before answering. “No, Jamie, I don’t think she would understand.”
The Doctor dropped his hand from the handle. “It’s difficult to explain, Jamie. Victoria–and Ben and Polly for that matter–come from a time in Earth’s history when that sort of thing was rather frowned upon. It was a very primitive way of thinking.”
“Aye, it was looked down upon where I come from too,” Jamie softly said. “I’m from even further back in time than them, y’ know.”
“Yes, you are.” The Doctor studied him for several seconds before reaching out to squeeze the hand on his arm. “And you’ve been traveling with me longer, broadening your mind. You’ve nothing to worry about, Jamie. Remember how scared you were the first time you saw an airplane? People fear and dislike what they don’t understand. Once people begin to understand it, they find it’s not so bad; some even prefer it.”
Jamie looked like he was going to say something else. The Doctor could almost taste the turmoil of emotions and questions bubbling in the boy’s mind; it rolled off him in waves. The confusion and conflict Jamie was going through was undoubtedly great. At last his expression softened. “I’m jus’ glad y’ don’t see it as a bad thing,” he finally said, eyes on the Doctor’s, voice barely a whisper.
For a few seconds the Doctor thought the boy was going to kiss him.
He tried to imagine what that would be like: standing up, in the daylight, perhaps casual and brief, sweet and without the heated need for sex following it. Kissing for the sake of kissing, because he wanted to, not because some obsession was coercing him into it. The Doctor was ashamed by how very much he wanted it, by how much of it he couldn’t tell was his own desire verses the sickness, and quickly opened the door. “We can discuss all of this more in depth after we’ve saved the day.”
Jamie didn’t reply, just pushed past him to stalk over to Victoria’s door and knock.
Once inside things seemed to revert to normal. Jamie settled himself on her bed, swinging his legs out of boredom while Victoria insisted on trying various flower crowns on the Doctor’s head. He humored her good-naturedly, explaining his plan of attack to them as she fussed with his hair.
“Well, I think it’s a daft plan,” Jamie protested. “What happens if something goes wrong, eh? How d’ we even know if we’re makin’ a difference?”
The Doctor sighed. “It would just be too suspicious if we all went up to confront Tianna.”
“Aye, I’m not sayin’ we should knock and ask for tea,” Jamie said. “We knock down th’ door and go in fightin’!”
“And what shall Victoria do while we’re fighting?” the Doctor patiently asked.
“Oh, I don’t mind watching,” she cheerfully said. She used a few hairpins to secure a daisy crown on the Doctor’s head.
“Och, a battleground is no place for a lady like you, Victoria. Y’ could d’ th’ kitchen plan by yourself. That’s safer.”
“It is safer,” the Doctor agreed, standing up. “Which is why I want both of you doing it. It’s also important and tedious, so I need both of you working on it, keeping each other focused.”
“Oh, aye, ‘tedious.’ That means ‘boring,’” Jamie explained to Victoria. “I used t’ think it meant ‘important.’”
“How do you like it?” Victoria cut in, handing the Doctor a silver hand mirror to examine his crown with.
“It makes a very fine hat, Victoria. It’s funny that I’m not as fond of them as I used to be.” He turned his head, trying to see his profile.
“Not as fond of what?” Jamie asked.
“Hats,” the Doctor said, pushing to his feet. He handed the mirror back to Victoria. “I used to be quite fond of them. Now I can’t seem to find the time.”
“Y’ would say that, time machine and all,” Jamie fussed. He hopped off the bed as the Doctor made for the door. “You’re not really wearin’ it out, are y’?”
“Of course I am. Every world should be saved by a man in a garland at least once.” He smiled brightly. “You both know your jobs?”
Victoria nodded cheerily and Jamie gloomily, but as both gave positives, the Doctor flung the door open and started out. At the stairs, he bade them farewell and good luck. They’d continue to breakfast and finish in the kitchens; he’d try to infiltrate the library and confront Tianna one last time.
Breakfast was a strained affair for Jamie and Victoria.
Without the Doctor to inject sanity into the conversation, the pair was subjected to a myriad of the Prince Regent’s jokes, bad puns and crude comments. Victoria laughed politely when she could, but Jamie mostly glowered at his food and ate without speaking. If he had said anything, it probably would have gotten them kicked out of the castle.
“Where has your Doctor friend gone to now?” the Prince asked after Victoria’s strained tittering had died down and the food was beginning to be cleared away.
“Oh, I’m not sure,” Victoria replied vaguely, somewhat nervous.
Jamie wagged his fork at the Prince, covering for Victoria so she wouldn’t give the Doctor’s plan away. “Och, don’t y’ worry about th’ Doctor none. If he’s not here, he’s off doin’ something important, y’ mark my words.”
“Yes, Jamie’s probably right,” Victoria said. Gesturing then to her plate, she brightened. “This meal was quite delightful. I wonder if I couldn’t compliment the chef? I’d love to take the recipe home with me.”
The Prince was eyeing Jamie suspiciously. The silence after Victoria’s question stretched on. “Well, answer her man,” Jamie said.
Reginald blinked slowly, reopening his eyes with them focused on Victoria. “Yes, of course. One of the maids would be more than happy to relay your compliments and retrieve the recipe for you.”
“Oh, but I’d really like to meet him myself!” she exclaimed, perhaps a bit too loudly.
“The kitchens are no place for a lady such as yourself, Miss Victoria. No, I think I shall send a maid and take you on a stroll. You’ve not yet seen my private gardens.”
It was clear by the way that Victoria straightened in her seat that she was suddenly at a loss for how to reply. “Private gardens, you say?” she breathlessly asked.
“Well, she’s not interested,” Jamie hotly retorted, putting a protective arm around her. “And if she wants to meet th’ chef, she ought t’ get to meet the chef.”
“I wasn’t aware he was your keeper,” Reginald said, his eyes still soft on Victoria.
“Jamie’s just a friend,” Victoria replied, surprising both men.
Jamie looked at Victoria like he’d been scalded. He pulled his arm off her and pushed to his feet. “Come on, Victoria,” he commanded. “We’ve got important things t’ do.”
“I think she’d rather take a stroll with me,” Reginald said. He rose as well, coming around to their side of the table, offering his arm to the girl.
Victoria remained seated, looking between both of them. She set her napkin on the table pushing to her feet. Smiling politely at Reginald, she accepted his arm. “I do think I would.” It was only when she turned to bid Jamie farewell that she saw the crushed and confused look on his face.
“Victoria,” Jamie weakly began. “Victoria, y’ can’t.”
She looked forlornly up at the Prince, struggling to remember herself. Fighting down the desire new flowers to see filled her with, she bowed her head. “Oh, I do suppose he’s right.” She smiled sadly and disengaged herself from the Prince’s arm. “Perhaps later we can take that stroll? I very much would like to see your gardens.”
It was clear Reginald was not happy with this reversal. He made to grab Victoria, but Jamie got to her first, quickly grasping and maneuvering her behind him, so he was facing Reginald. “Now play nice, laddie,” he dangerously said, “and leave the girl alone.”
For a moment Reginald looked poised to strike and Jamie looked ready to retaliate. It was only the arrival of the maid coming to clear away the rest of the dishes that broke the tension in the room. The Prince immediately backed off, adjusting his cuffs. He looked around venomously before stalking out through the main doors.
When he was gone, Jamie gripped Victoria and peered at her. “What were y’ thinking’?” he demanded in a loud whisper.
Victoria closed her eyes and put her hand to her head. “I’m sorry, Jamie. I don’t know what came over me. I’m feeling faint. Here, let me sit down again.”
Jamie helped her back into her chair, looking around as he did. “Hey, where’s your basket of flowers?” he tensely asked.
“I left them in my room,” she replied. “It seemed silly to carry them with me everywhere.” She gently fanned herself with her hands.
“Blast,” Jamie muttered. He scanned the room for a centerpiece or other arrangement, but saw nothing. “Don’t y’ understand anything? Without flowers around, you’re going t’ get weak and sick. Come on, we’ve got t’ go back to your room and get them.”
“Oh, you go, Jamie,” she said, slumping back in her chair. “I’m too tired. I’ll just wait here.”
“I’ll not leave y’,” Jamie firmly said. “Th’ Doctor said not to let y’ out of my sight, and I don’t intend to.”
She peered affectionately up at him. “You’re very sweet, Jamie.” Her eyes drifted to the main door. “But the thought of all those stairs turns my blood to ice.”
Jamie gripped her shoulder reassuringly, looking around the room again, as though a bouquet might suddenly materialize. “Well, I suppose I could try carryin’ y’,” he began.
“Is there something the matter, sir?”
Both Jamie and Victoria turned to find the maid sheepishly smiling at them.
“Oh, Jamie,” Victoria breathed in relief. “We can send one of the maids.”
“Oh, aye, right,” he brightened. As Jamie wasn’t very good with ordering people around, having never really dealt with servants, he let her do the talking.
“I’ve a lovely basket of flowers that I’ve forgotten in my room,” Victoria explained. “Do you suppose you could send someone up to fetch them for me?”
“Of course, miss. I’ll send someone up right away.” She turned to go.
“And afterward,” Jamie said, “we’d like a tour of the kitchen, if y’ don’t mind.” He smiled brightly at her.
She curtsied. “I’ll see what I can do, sir.”
When she was gone, Victoria raised her hand to grip the hand Jamie had on her shoulder. “This place frightens me.”
He squatted beside her, careful to keep his kilt modest. “Aye, I don’t like it much either.” He smiled at her. “But once we get this all done, we’ll get out of here. It’ll be safe on th’ TARDIS.”
“Until the next time,” Victoria said. She wiped at her brow.
“Aye, well, it keeps things interestin’,” he said with a smile. “Have some water,” he added, standing back up to refresh her glass from the pitcher on the table.
“Thank you,” she said, taking a sip. Sighing, she added, “I don’t understand how being away from my flowers can make me feel so bad.”
Jamie looped his thumbs around his belt. “Th’ Doctor says it’s some sort of sickness,” he replied in a low, conspiratorial tone. “Something t’ do with th’ air waves or something? Well, whatever it is, that’s why we’re going t’ th’ kitchen, to make something t’ counter it. Flap it about, y’ know, cancels out th’ bad air with the good. Save the day again. On to the rest of the universe’s problems.”
Victoria took another sip of her water before setting the glass aside wearily. “Last night, the Doctor was very ill looking. Do you suppose he needs flowers too? I did give him that garland . . ..”
Jamie tensed at the question, but then forced himself to relax. He fingered the silk ascot at his throat absently. “Well, not flowers, but somethin’ like that, aye.”
She looked up at him. “And you?”
“Oh, it’s this fabric, y’ know. Th’ Doctor calls it silk.” He gestured to his throat.
Victoria reached up to stroke it, but then dropped her hand with a sigh. “I was hoping it’d make me feel better, too.”
“Your flowers’ll come soon, don’t y’ worry.”
“I feel so foolish. The Doctor said I should keep them close–I just didn’t understand why.”
Moments after she spoke, the maid they’d talked to returned, carrying with her Victoria’s basket of flowers. Jamie quickly retrieved them, thanking her greatly as he did. He hurried back over to press the basket into Victoria’s lap.
She buried her fingers into the soft petals and leaves, letting out a deep, contented sigh as she did. “You’re right,” she whispered. “It’s the flowers I needed.”
“An’ that’s why y’ wanted t’ take that stroll with that Prince fellow so much,” Jamie said with a nod as he crossed his arms. “Bad idea. I don’t like him.” Absently, he said, “Wonder where he went off t’ in such a hurry.”
Victoria was humming a bit, fingering her flowers still. “You ought to let me weave you a flower crown, Jamie. I should like to, and I think you’d look lovely in one.”
Jamie opened his mouth to retort about how daft an idea that was, but stilled himself. “After we finish up in the kitchens, aye?”
“Oh, yes!” Victoria started to her feet in alarm. “Jamie McCrimmon, how could you let me forget?”
“What? I did no such thing! You took ill!”
“Well, we’ve got to hurry. We’ve wasted so much time now, and the Doctor needs us to release that . . . concoction or whatever he called it . . . into the air as soon as possible.” She looped the basket over her arm and pushed her chair in.
“Aye,” Jamie said, feeling suddenly more optimistic about toiling in the kitchen, saving the day with plants. “I think the kitchens are,” he looked at the doors in the room critically, then took Victoria’s hand and pointed with his other, “that way. C’mon.”
The library, when he arrived, was empty.
The Doctor fretted about this for a considerable while. He stomped about, overturned some of the King’s books and generally made a fuss, hoping to be discovered. When neither the King nor Tianna surfaced, he flopped himself down onto one of the couches disconsolately. His whole plan of action had revolved around confronting the physician again and he was somewhat at a loss for how to proceed without her.
Jamie and Victoria working to make the concoction that would break the obsession sickness was extremely important, but it would do no good if Tianna just found a way around it. No, he had to find the woman and stop her from tainting the air with the mind-altering stuff in the first place.
“Now, if I were a vile woman bent on conquest with a devilishly handsome man hot on my trail, where would I go?” he mused out loud to himself. He stroked his chin in thought, and brightened. “She must have a laboratory!” Pushing to his feet he began to pace. “Turrets or basement?” he mused.
The words of Milyan filtered back to him and he recalled the escort’s wife’s new job: cleaning the basement. “A-ha!” he shouted.
He stalked out of the library and turned right. He continued for a few seconds before turning about face and stalking to the left. There he stopped and wrung his hands. “Oh, which way to the basement?” he cried.
At last he found a servant and asked for directions. He was promptly led down below to what was really more like a dungeon than a cellar. Thanking the servant, he proceeded cautiously. The underground was damp and rank, bitterly cold and perfectly suited for a creepy underground laboratory, but as he slunk into room after room, he found no sign of the physician or the King.
The Doctor reached the end of the underground and flung his arms out in exasperation before turning around and staring angrily at the far brick wall.
After several moments of staring, he tilted his head curiously. A brick wall? Down here? He glanced about–the rest of the underground was made of the same rough hewn stone as the floor. Great big slabs of gray stone filled the palace, making it seem uniform and orderly. The red brick wall was decidedly out of place, and somewhat anachronistic.
The Doctor approached and placed his hand on it. After ascertaining that it was certainly real, he began to walk its length, trailing his hand along the bricks, searching for a door. The bricks were cool and smooth, which made the entrance easy to find: it was warm. The Doctor pushed lightly and it unhinged on a neat spring that separated from the wall seamlessly.
He eased it open and peered inside. The door was warm as it opened to a large heater, which flooded the secret dungeon room with warmth. The interior was carpeted and well lit, with what appeared to be oak paneling on the walls. The Doctor eased inside, silently shutting the brick wall door behind him.
The room was more of a study than a laboratory. There were bookshelves along the walls, a large table in the center of the room stacked with papers, and several chairs and couches. The lamps were electric.
The Doctor poked around, flipping through books absently, before coming to the end of the room–it was decidedly empty, though a large archway stood in the far wall, hewn out of the brick and set with an ill-fitting wooden door. It creaked when the Doctor opened it and he had to resist pulling out a tin of oil from his pocket to lubricate it.
Once open he pulled a pen torch out of his pocket and shined it down the dark hall–it illuminated a stone staircase. This was a bit more like it and he eagerly started up the stairwell. It reached a platform and doubled back, eventually ending at a much nicer, thicker door. This was locked.
The Doctor jimmied the handle a few times, before bending to peek through the keyhole. Whatever the door opened to, he couldn’t see anything through the keyhole. Hemming for a bit in thought, he finally pulled one of the hairpins Victoria had put in his garland and set about picking the mechanism.
When at last he heard the soft ping that announced the lock was open, the Doctor let out a sigh of relief. He put his shoulder into it, but the door still wouldn’t budge open. At last he figured out that it was on a track, and managed to slide it aside. He stepped through and discovered, typically, that the door was on the other side of a bookshelf.
Turning around, he realized he was back in the library.
The King’s couches were to his right down several aisles, and he could only barely see the main door from where he was; it was closed. Across the room, out of his field of view, he could hear voices. He took a tentative step forward, then halted, aware his approach would be easily noticed when his shoes rung out on the stones. He bent and unlaced them, leaving them near the bookshelf-door. Padding in socks was cold, but far quieter. He was able to slip down an aisle and approach completely undetected.
When he finally got a clear view of the speakers, he was shocked by what he saw.
Jamie stood in the kitchen beside Victoria, flapping a thin, flat piece of wood over a cauldron, wafting the steam it produced out into the main hall. He’d been doing this for what seemed like hours and his arms were starting to hurt.
“How long do you suppose it’ll take to start working?” Victoria asked, stirring the pot with a large wooden spoon as she did.
“Och, how should I know?” Jamie protested. “Maybe it’s already workin’.”
“Oh, I don’t want to be separated from my flowers yet to see if it has,” she protested.
“No, me either,” Jamie agreed. With a sigh he lowered his arms, letting the board droop. “We’ve been at this long enough, haven’t? Feels as though my arms are about to fall off.”
Victoria kept stirring. “We’ve got to keep going, Jamie.”
“Aye, but it’s been well over an hour,” he said, looking at his watch. “Th’ Doctor should’ve been back by now.” He started intently in the direction of the stairwell.
“We don’t know that,” Victoria said. “We don’t even know what he’s doing.” She sighed and slumped against the cauldron, finally ceasing to stir.
Jamie seemed to ponder events for a few moments before abruptly deciding, “I’m going after him.”
“Jamie, you can’t,” Victoria protested.
“What if he needs my help? Listen, find one of those maids to help y’ with this. If we’re not back in an hour, make for the TARDIS, all right?” He set the plank of wood down and began pushing up his sleeves.
“Oh, Jamie, don’t leave me.”
Jamie turned back to her, his expression softening. “I’ll come back for y’, Victoria, don’t y’ worry. It’s just, right now, th’ Doctor needs me. I know he does.”
“I would hate to come in the way of helping the Doctor,” she said, peering up at him. “Oh, but please do be careful, Jamie.”
“Aye. Always am.” He flashed her a brilliant smile. “See y’ soon then, Victoria.” He turned at last, taking off down the hall at a run.
Back to index
Chapter 6: Chapter 6
Author's Notes: And now the conclusion. :)
“You’re a fool if you think you’ll get away with this.”
Tianna had pinned Reginald to one of the bookshelves in the library, her long fingers wrapped tight around his throat, effectively choking him. Her height wasn’t as impressive over the lordly prince as it was over the Doctor, but what she lacked in size she made up with fierce determination. Her body trembled with wrath, and though the Doctor could only see her from behind, he envisioned the venomous sneer on her face as she spoke.
The Prince tried to speak but the noise came out only as a vague, strangled choking.
“You’ll never win,” Tianna snarled. She lifted her other hand and something silver glinted in it as she raised it.
Afraid he was going to be too late the Doctor burst from behind the shelf and cried, “No!”
Tianna hissed, flinching in distraction and in that moment Reginald upset the balance, hurling her off him. She stumbled backward, crashing against a bookshelf.
“Doctor!” Reginald called in a booming, welcoming voice. “So nice of you to join us!” His eyes flickered to the closed main door. “And how convenient you were able to slip in unnoticed.”
The Doctor stood his ground, keeping an eye on Tianna incase she made any fast moves. “It’s time to put this to an end.”
“And why is that?” Reginald asked, squaring himself to face the Doctor. “You certainly seem to have been enjoying yourself.”
The Doctor bristled, understanding. “I should have guessed you were behind this,” the Doctor said. His face was drawn and serious now, his eyebrows pulled to an angry point. “Using people the way you have! Wasn’t it enough just to incapacitate them?”
Reginald broke into a laugh. “For all your intelligence, Doctor, you’ve a very simple mind.” He looked like he was going to continue speaking, but then he lunged forward, grabbed the slowly recovering Tianna by the shoulders, and bashed her against the bookshelf again.
She slumped to the floor, unconscious, and a small silver vial fell from her hand, rolling away from her body as it did.
“That wasn’t necessary!” the Doctor shouted.
“Wasn’t it?” Reginald replied, dusting his hands off daintily. “She’s been on my back since she arrived. I’ve wanted to get rid of her for a long time now.” He lifted his eyes off her motionless form, raising them to focus on the Doctor. “And now that she’s out of the way, I can deal with you.” He broke into a wide, brilliant smile. “And after you, I can deal with your sweet little friends.”
“Why not just kill the King?” the Doctor asked, forcing himself to stay focused. “Not that I condone killing anyone, but wouldn’t it have been easier than all this?” he asked, waving a hand in frustration.
“Politics, my dear sir,” he answered. “When the King dies the throne goes to a democratic vote. If he’s merely incapacitated, I rule as Regent in his place.”
“He can’t live forever like that,” the Doctor said.
“No,” the Prince replied, advancing slowly. “Which is why, when he finally dies, all those not loyal to me will suddenly, mindlessly, become obsessed with having me as their ruling monarch.”
“Ah. And eagerly vote you in, with no one the wiser,” the Doctor mused. “Except they won’t! The other people won’t let them! It’s clear your drug doesn’t affect everyone!”
“It affects whomever I want it to, Doctor. Those unaffected are so because I must have some semblance of normalcy.”
“I don’t believe you. You’re affected by it yourself!”
The Prince tilted his head, amused. “There are certain unexpected side-effects, to be certain. But I have ultimate control: if I wanted you to be obsessed with dusting, you would have been. If I had wanted the boy to be obsessed with killing, he would have been. Perhaps I should have made the girl obsessed with me. But then, it’s never quite as fun as when they’re obsessed instead of interested of their own accord.” The Prince’s eyes twinkled darkly as he fixed them on the Doctor. “Or is it?”
The Doctor twisted his hands. “It’s a pheromone, isn’t it?” he said, ignoring the jibe. “Some scent you excrete that influences others.”
Reginald laughed. “If you think you’re going to be able to suppress it, you’re gravely mistaken,” he said.
“Then I’m right, aren’t I? It is a pheromone, and not everyone is as affected as you’d hoped they be.”
A vein began to throb on Reginald’s forehead. “I have complete control over it! No one is immune. No one can resist obsessing over what I suggest to them.”
“And Tianna?” the Doctor prodded, sparing the woman a glance. He eyed the small, silver vial absently, before looking back up at the Prince. “If your powers are so great, then why not just control her too?”
A momentary look of anger flashed across the Prince’s face but was quickly replaced by a cool, collected expression. He turned away, continuing to calm himself. “There is some truth. She has proven stubborn and difficult to control,” he admitted. “But, no longer.”
“You’re monstrous,” the Doctor said. “What have you done with the King?”
“He is no longer needed,” Reginald said, smiling brightly.
“Where is he?”
“He’s . . . indisposed at the moment, I’m afraid.” The Prince adjusted the cuffs of his long shirt absently. “Just like you will soon be too.”
“And the study in the dungeon with the electric lamps? What’s the explanation behind that?” he demanded.
Reginald stared at him before laughing. “You certainly find your way around, Doctor.” He moved nonchalantly past him, turning his back to both Tianna and the Doctor. He reached a small desk and slid open a drawer, fiddling with something inside. “It makes me wonder if you ever bothered to learn your proper manners.”
“Says the man ready to murder his own father,” the Doctor retorted.
“Tell me, Doctor,” Reginald said without lifting his eyes from the drawer. “What do you hope to accomplish by defeating me? You don’t seem to want the crown for yourself.”
“What you’re doing is wrong,” the Doctor simply said. “I intend to stop you.”
“Even at the cost of your own life?”
The Doctor squared his shoulders and lifted his chin. “I hope it won’t come to that.”
A clattering noise came from the hall, but as the main door to the library was locked, nothing came of it. Out of the corner of his eye the Doctor could see Tianna stirring. He kept his attention on the Prince.
“I’m afraid it must,” Reginald said as he drew his hand out of the drawer. In it he held what was clearly some sort of alien handgun. He casually aimed it at the Doctor. “I promise to take very good care of your friends, when you’re gone. I fear you may have spoiled the boy, but the girl seems quite tender yet.”
The Doctor took a step forward in anger, but Reginald waved the ray gun menacingly and he halted. “They haven’t hurt you!” he cried.
“No, and now they won’t get the chance to.” Reginald’s smile broadened even more. “Goodbye, Doctor.”
Just as he fired the ray gun the room seemed to come alive with movement and sound. The discharge cracked, booming and echoing off the stone floor and walls. Someone cried, “No!” and the Doctor leapt backward, too slow to dodge. The door to the library groaned in protest of an outside force, but did not yield. The Doctor soon found himself collapsed on the ground, Tianna’s body pressed against his.
He saw blood and felt pain but it took several seconds for him to realize that it wasn’t his. Tianna had taken the blast for him. “Use this,” she whispered, pressing the silver vial into his hands as she died. “Only . . . hope it works.”
She slumped against him as her life extinguished. The Doctor’s garland hung in his eyes and he pulled it off with a bloody hand, laying it on her. “I’m so sorry,” he whispered, realizing the graveness of his mistake only now. His grip on the vial tightened as he eased the physician aside, struggling to his feet.
Reginald was already upon him, gun aimed squarely at his chest. “Hand it over, Doctor,” he said, gesturing to the vial with his free hand.
“You must be mad,” the Doctor said.
“Assuredly,” he agreed. “Now hand it over.”
The Doctor hesitated and Reginald’s hand rose a fraction of an inch and pulled the trigger. The ray blast whizzed right past the Doctor’s ear, close enough that it singed his cheek. At the same moment a noise seemed to explode from behind them.
Reginald turned but didn’t take his gun off his target.
“Jamie!” the Doctor cried, seeing the boy standing in the room, the main door now sagging on its hinges. “Get down!” He surged forward, doing his best to dodge the gun, in an attempt to knock Reginald down.
“Creag an tuire!” Jamie cried, charging at the Prince as he realized what the situation was. Jamie pounced on the Prince, knocking the ray gun from his hand with a decisive blow. He tackled the larger man to the floor. They wrestled for several moments but Jamie eventually won out, having the element of surprise. He pressed one knee to the Prince’s right arm, pinning it to the floor, and pushed the blade of his dirk to the Prince’s throat.
“Jus’ one word from th’ Doctor and I’ll slit your gullet from ear to ear,” Jamie breathed, his dark eyes fixed on the Prince’s.
“That won’t be necessary, Jamie,” the Doctor said, arranging his rumpled clothes into a slightly more dignified position. He mopped his brow with his handkerchief before stuffing it away. “Thank you, by the way,” he added, looking at the boy with a smile. “I do hope the kitchen plan wasn’t abandoned.”
Jamie didn’t take his eyes off Reginald. “Aye. Victoria’s just seein’ t’ th’ last of it now.”
“Good, good,” the Doctor said. He dusted himself off and pushed back to his feet. Once upright, he studied the silver vial. It screwed shut with a small metal cap, which he unscrewed. He sniffed the liquid inside and wrinkled his nose in reaction. “Oh my,” he said. “Yes, well, I think that will do very nicely.”
“Och, it smells awful,” Jamie muttered. The Prince writhed beneath him, but Jamie just applied pressure until he stilled.
“Yes, but it should render him harmless. Open his mouth for me, Jamie.”
Jamie complied, or tried to. His attempt to force the Prince’s mouth open with his free hand resulted in his fingers being almost bit. “Oh, bite me, will y’?” he muttered. He lifted his knife to stick in the Prince’s mouth, in attempt to pry it open with force, but as soon as he gave the slightly amount of leeway, the Prince twisted beneath him, unseating Jamie and knocked his dirk to the floor.
Jamie fell hard onto his backside as the Prince shoved himself to his feet. Unarmed though he was, he held his hands out in front of himself in defense.
“Jamie,” the Doctor warned, eyes firm on the Prince, “take a deep breath!”
Without another word, the Doctor hurled the vial at the Prince’s feet. It shattered and threw out a thick, misty steam. It almost immediately overwhelmed the Prince and he doubled over and began coughing. Jamie, still on the floor, began suffering similar effects.
“Come on Jamie, hold your breath,” the Doctor instructed. He pulled his handkerchief out, holding it over his own mouth as he reached for Jamie. With the Doctor’s help, the boy was able to stagger to the library door. It hung crooked on its hinges, broken open from Jamie’s attempts to get inside. Once out in the hall together, the Doctor lowered his handkerchief as Jamie drew in deep gasps of fresh air.
“Och, what was that stuff, Doctor!” he cried, clutching to the railing that overlooked the gallery below as though he might be sick.
The Doctor pounded Jamie on the back encouragingly. “Well, I can’t be sure, of course, but I do believe that’s a concentrated form of what I had you and Victoria make in the kitchens.” Jamie held his hand over his mouth and made a gagging noise.
“No, no, ours didn’t smell,” the Doctor mused. He peered into the library thoughtfully. “I wonder where our ingredients differed?”
“Who cares?” Jamie said, coughing one last time. He looked the Doctor over, sobering slightly. “You’re all right, yeah? Though y’ were down for th’ count for a while there.”
The Doctor looked sadly at his hands and brushed flakes of dried blood off them mournfully. “It was very close.” He looked to the boy, straightening. “Thank you, Jamie. I’m not sure what would have happened if you hadn’t come.”
“Och, I told you y’ needed me t’ come with y’. Aye, what would y’ have done if I hadn’t shown up when I did?” He crossed his arms, fixing the Doctor with a scolding look.
“I trust Victoria’s safe?” the Doctor said, barely suppressing a smile.
“Aye. Least, she was last I saw.” He turned, peering down to the gallery, though the girl wasn’t in sight. “We didn’t have any trouble with the ingredients, though we don’t know as yet if it works.”
“No, you wouldn’t, not yet,” the Doctor agreed. “Though I trust everything will return to normal here, soon.” As he spoke, two guards came running up the stairs toward them. “Ah, and now we have company.”
“What’s going on here?” the guard asked.
The Doctor reluctantly left Jamie, heading to meet them. “I think you’ll find your Prince has murdered the King’s physician, endangered the King’s health and put most of this city under his diabolical spell. My friends and I have managed to neutralize him and break his powers of persuasion. You ought to find him lying in there, unconscious.” He waved. “It smells terrible, but I assure you, it’s perfectly safe now. I recommend you escort him to the prison before he regains consciousness.”
Once the guards had slipped inside, Jamie sidled up beside the Doctor, touching his arm to draw his attention. “What’s t’ stop him from jus’ startin’ up all over again, Doctor?”
“What indeed,” the Doctor said. He patted Jamie’s hand and moved away from him. “Come, I think we’re done here.”
“Y’ mean we’re leavin’? Jus’ like that?” Jamie followed him to the stairs but remained standing at the top of them as the Doctor started down.
The Doctor turned to look up at him. “We usually do, don’t we?”
Jamie started down slowly. “Aye,” he said. “Only, we’re not sure it’s really working yet. We don’t know what’s going t’ happen t’ the Prince, or what he did with the King, either.”
“Well, we stopped the menace, Jamie. How they sort their government after the fact isn’t really our problem.”
“None of it really was,” Jamie said. “But we interfered anyway.”
The Doctor studied Jamie as he came to a halt on the step just above him, taking a deep breath as he did. “I’m sure they’ll find the King safe and sound, and if they don’t, they’ll be able to elect a new monarch in a couple of days. Once they’ve administered the cure to everyone in the city, things here should return to normal. I’d like to be gone by then.”
“Aye, so would I,” Jamie agreed.
Seeing things were not resolved, the Doctor folded his hands in front of him. “So then, what’s the matter?”
Jamie’s gaze seemed to fall everywhere but upon him. “What if we’re not cured?”
“We will be,” the Doctor said. “And if we’re not, then we’ll figure out a way to.” Spryly, he added, “Besides, I’m already feeling much better, aren’t you?”
Jamie hadn’t felt the urge to touch his silk ascot since leaving Victoria, but the knowledge that he was only potentially cured didn’t fill him with glee. “Oh, aye,” he muttered, displeased with the Doctor’s casual flippancy. He moved to the side, passing the Doctor as he continued down the stairs. “Well then, let’s find Victoria and just move on.”
The Doctor turned, watching him go, and wondered just what all that was about. He glanced behind him at the library, which was full of noise now, and picked up the pace, hurrying after Jamie. It was a long walk back to the TARDIS and he wanted to be out of sight as soon as possible.
“Och, my feet’re killin’ me,” Jamie said, leaning against the TARDIS door, lifting one of his feet wearily as the Doctor fished the key out of his pocket.
“I feel the same way,” Victoria lamented. She brushed an errant curl from her eyes. “I should think a nice, hot bath is in order to cure all.”
“Aye, and then I’m goin’ t’ sleep for twelve hours straight.”
“Oh,” the Doctor said, straightening up as the TARDIS door swung open. “We forgot to get you your silk sheets.”
“Forget it,” Jamie said, pushing past him to get inside. “I think I’ve had enough silk for a year. Soft linen sounds just fine t’ me.”
Victoria followed him in. “I know what you mean–if I should never have to pick another flower again, it will be too soon.”
The Doctor closed the doors behind him, watching as his companions spoke and moved about the console. Jamie flopped exhaustedly into the chair and Victoria removed the coat she’d been wearing, draping it over her arm.
“Well, I suppose we’d better get underway,” he said, forcing down the strange feeling of desperation he felt inside at their words. He played with controls of the console for several moments, not really paying attention at all to what he was doing. He just wanted to hear the comforting whining of the TARDIS as she took flight.
Ah, there it was. He spread his hand on the console, sighing deeply as he let the comforting noise wash over him. He patted the ship lovingly, losing himself for several minutes in the familiarity of the TARDIS. When he finally looked up, he saw both Jamie and Victoria had gone. He sighed in sad relief.
“We need t’ talk.”
The Doctor nearly jumped out of his skin at the voice. Jamie was standing just to his right. He hadn’t left at all, merely walked around the console out of his immediate field of vision. The Doctor tweaked some knobs on the console errantly, glancing to see that Victoria was well and truly gone. “Oh?” he airily replied, not looking at Jamie, “what about?”
“Y’ know full well what I’m talking about, Doctor,” Jamie said, his voice low and intense.
“I wish you wouldn’t use that tone with me, Jamie,” the Doctor wearily said.
Jamie reached out and gripped his arm. It wasn’t the usual sort of soft touch, but firm and strong, dangerous. It was a little frightening. The Doctor gave the boy his attention and tried not to get drawn into his eyes.
“I need to know what happened back there,” Jamie said. They were alone in the Console Room, but he was whispering.
“I’m sorry, Jamie,” the Doctor replied, lowering his eyes. If there was one thing he’d never had problems with, it was apologizing for when he’d done something wrong, or when he felt an injustice had been served. He lifted his eyes again, meeting Jamie’s, because he meant this. “I truly am sorry. I can never apologize enough for it.”
Jamie held his gaze, his eyes searching. The hand on his arm still gripped. “How do y’ feel now?” he asked.
The Doctor shrugged self depreciatingly, averting his gaze. One of his hands twisted at a knob on the console absently, needing something to do. “I assure you, the toxin has been worked out of my system by now.”
Slowly, almost sadly, Jamie’s hand dropped from his arm, flopping to the boy’s side limply. “I see.”
The Doctor was not very perceptive when it came to picking up on human emotions and at times he was rather dense when it came to intuition, but he thought he knew Jamie well enough to parse some meaning out of that. His ears began burning. “How are you feeling?”
“Jus’ fine,” he practically snapped.
The Doctor looked sharply up at him. He felt a surge of adrenaline rush through him, along with the overwhelming need to protect this boy. That was a familiar, constant thrum he always felt for anyone he cared about, but for Jamie, in that moment, it was stronger. “I meant what I said, last night,” the Doctor said. “All of it, any bit you can remember. All right?”
Instead of being stunned into silence, Jamie’s eyes narrowed and he jabbed at finger at the Doctor. “You want t’ bugger me,” he pointedly said.
“We interviewed a lot of people, Doctor,” he pressed on without pause. “Old servants, new servants, ones afflicted with the sickness, others not. Lots had stories to tell about their friends and families. D’ y’ know what we found out?” The Doctor couldn’t speak, so Jamie continued. “Not a one of them as was afflicted was doin’ something again their nature. Victoria loves flowers, and aye, I’ll give it t’ y’ that I’d never seen silk before, but I’m quite fond of it now. The castle butcher, he’s off cutting wood and things, and the stable master, he’s out ridin’ all day. There was one wee lassie obsessed with carrots. She weren’t a gardener, but it’s not too strange t’ love your vegetables.
“Fact of the matter is, not a one was doin’ something they might not do on a regular day. They just had inhibition taken away. That drug, it could make a married man obsessed with someone else’s wife, but it couldn’t make a mother kill her bairn, am I right? That’s why it worked on most, but not all?”
The Doctor wondered if his cheeks were burning now too, or just his ears. This was not at all the conversation he’d expected to be having. “I swear to you, Jamie,” he said, staring at the floor. “Before we arrived at that castle, I never entertained a single untoward though about you. That’s the solemn truth.”
Jamie leaned against the console, arms crossed as he studied the Doctor. “And now?” he asked.
“This isn’t really a fair line of questioning,” the Doctor pouted.
“Y’ said y’ meant what you said last night, aye?” The Doctor didn’t nod, or look at him, but Jamie continued anyway. His voice was lower. “Even about showin’ me a better way of goin’ about all that? Or was that more of th’ sickness talking?”
The Doctor forced himself to look up at Jamie, studying the expression in the boy’s eyes as if he’d find the right answer there. At last he turned away from him, presenting his back to the boy whilst wringing his hands. “I don’t know what answer you want, Jamie. The last two nights have been extremely stressful for me.” He bowed his head, picking at a fingernail on one hand. “Extremely nice, of course. I don’t deny that I enjoyed what we did, but it’s certainly not something that I’d wish would jeopardize our friendship.”
“Aye, not a sickness, y’ said, but you’re acting like I’ve the plague. Y’ won’t answer me proper, you’re speaking in riddles, and you’ll hardly look at me.” The boy’s voice cracked at the end and he was silent for several seconds as he reigned in his emotions. He reached a hand out to touch the Doctor’s back, gripping a fistful of his coat as though offering a clue. “Last night, part of the reason I came to you was–” He trailed off, unable to finish. His hand dropped away weakly. “I like it,” he confessed in a whisper. He took a deep, shuddery breath and said, “All of it and I reckoned I would for a long time now, only I was too afraid to say as much. But I think y’ liked it too, and if you’d jus’ admit it, we could stop standin’ here like two oafs and do something about it.”
The Doctor turned around rather quickly, focusing hard on Jamie. There was no cloudiness in the boy’s eyes, no lingering effects of mind-altering drugs or sign of fever on his brow. His eyes were dark brown and bright and they were looking right back at him. “Jamie,” he breathed.
“Aye, we’ve established my name by now.”
Jamie was standing strong and proud, but the Doctor could see the telltale shiver of the boy’s hand and taste the nervousness rolling off of him. It was taking a considerable amount of strength and courage for him to confess this, and all Jamie had to show for it was a slight tremble in his hand. “You’re quite serious, aren’t you?”
Jamie took a step closer to him. “You wanted t’ bugger me last night, I know y’ did. Fact is, I wanted y’ to then, and I’d still like y’ t’ now.” He raised his hand to his mouth and bit self-consciously on his thumbnail. Shy eyes focused on the Doctor. “Can we?” he asked quietly. “Can we at least try?”
“My word,” the Doctor breathed. He found it utterly unfathomable that Jamie felt this way–had felt this way–and he’d never picked up on it. Or perhaps he had and the boy was right about the sickness–Reginald had clearly sensed something considering his first comment to him, and the sickness had taken affect on him. He couldn’t deny that he had enjoyed the last two nights, and even now, without the toxin coursing through his veins, he found Jamie’s closeness alluring, the memory of his mouth and soft skin enticing, and the thought of actually, finally doing what Jamie wanted–well, it was properly stirring him.
With a warm grin, the Doctor said, “I should like that.”
The brilliant smile Jamie rewarded him with flooded a sense of rightness and well-being through him and he knew it was all worth it.
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