A tortured groaning filled the air. Lucy twisted around, trying to determine the source. She hoped it wasn't some sort of alarm or accident. She didn't want the delay. She was already running late for meeting her father; if she came much later the old bastard would probably give her yet another earful about filial duties. She loved him, really, but he got so very grouchy when the pain kept him up, which was most of the time nowadays, and then he took it out on her.
Because of her distraction, she bumped right into a blue police box she could have sworn hadn't been there two minutes ago. The door of it opened an a man stumbled out, immediately grabbing onto her. He leaned on her hard enough to make her think he needed the support, but his fingers also squeezed her arm tightly enough to make escape impossible. She let out a little scream of surprise.
"Quiet." The man's voice was little more than a whisper. He had on strange clothes, too; as if he'd come out of some stage play or something. "Where am I?" he asked.
"London," Lucy answered without even thinking. It got a reaction at least. The man raised his head and looked her in the eyes. Goodness, he had fine eyes. So dark you could lose yourself in them.
Then he smiled, and his whole face came alive. "Well. And you are?"
He raised one hand and brushed it through Lucy's hair, his fingers ending on her temple. The flutters that caused in her belly felt almost like a first kiss. "Okay, Lucy," he smiled again, "I find myself in need of some assistance." He straightened up, taking some of his weight off her shoulders. He still kept her face cupped in his hand, though. "Think you can help me?"
Part of her was already saying 'yes, yes', but most of her was still thinking of her father. "I have to go to my father. I'm already late..."
The smile on his face transformed into a grin of triumph. “Then why don’t I go with you?” he suggested offhandedly.
Lucy walked the few more streets to her father’s home, with the stranger still leaning on her, slowly putting more of his weight on her again. He had to be really tired.
They reached the house and she let them in. As soon as she’d opened the door, she heard her father calling. “Finally, there you are! I was starting to wonder whether I still had a daughter.”
Lucy was still struggling to get both her and the stranger through the door. But as soon as her father’s words reached the stranger’s ears, he seemed to perk up again. He freed himself from her grasp and walked into the room where her father sat in the chair he had only left to go to bed ever since the rheumatism in his leg had stopped him walking.
“Now who the hell are you? Since when did my daughter start bringing her flings here?”
“Oh, Mr Grant, I’m not just a fling.” There was a strange undertone in the stranger’s voice there, and Lucy hurried to close the outside door properly so she could check on the both of them. When she entered the room, her father was asleep, and the stranger had sat down onto the floor next to his chair. He was clutching his head as if to drive out a headache. “It won’t stop,” he groaned.
He raised his head out of his hands. “Don’t you hear it?” He beckoned her. “Come here.” Lucy sat down next to him and he tapped out a rythm on her head, a repeated four beats. “The drumming. Can’t you hear it?”
THis was silly. “You need rest.” Lucy looked up at her father. “If he’s asleep here, you can use the bed.”
“Good idea…” He sounded very weak now. Lucy helped him up again and guided him to the bedroom. He’d barely reached the bed when he collapsed again. This time he really was unconscious.
She positioned him better on the bed, then took of his shoes and waistcoat and started to unbutton his shirt. At that point, her hands brushed his chest and she felt something odd in his heartbeat. She put her ear to his chest.
And she heard it.
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