Vivus Sectio by LN29 [Reviews - 7] |
BE WARNED! HERE BE DEPRESSING DOCTOR!WHUMP AND MUCH SUFFERING!
Ask and you shall receive. I blame my readers for this. Several people requested more detail about the vivisection mentioned in "The Finish Line," and touched on in "Dark Days." (Including a teacher of mine...) And that got me thinking about how I would write it, if I was going to, and one brainstorm led to another...and now that the play I was in is finally over, I actually have free time again!
It's weird going back to referring to Amara as "the woman." But by this point, he hasn't learned her name yet, so there we go.
Despite the fact that it's part of a series, I think it's pretty self-explanitory. Basically, the Doctor is a prisoner of a woman whose species was destroyed by him in the Time War. He's been seperated from Rose and taken somewhere...he doesn't know where...and he's being tortured.
The title, obviously, comes from the root words for "vivisection." Vivus: live, Sectio: cutting. Which, given Amara/the woman's affinity for knives, I thought was appropriate in more ways than one.
This turned out far longer than I'd originally intended, but I don't really want to break it up. So it's just going to be a realllllly long and depressing oneshot. Which makes me want to hug the Doctor really hard. Or, actually, not really hard, considering his current condition. But still, it broke my heart to do this to him. Since this is still fairly early, he's still got some defiance and fight left in him, and isn't yet as crushed as he is in "The Finish Line." But now we begin to see what brought him there...
Takes place in between "Moving Forward" and "The Finish Line."
Also, I kind of promised my mother that my next story will be a happy, lighthearted one. With at least one kiss between our favorite couple. She requested that specifically. So that'll be coming soon at some point. :D
The world swam back into focus as the Doctor opened his eyes.
Had he been sleeping, finally managing to catch a few moments of desperately needed rest? Had he lost consciousness, not for the first time, and certainly not for the last? Or had he merely managed to slip into a mental state beyond this current predicament, for a few short moments?
He didn’t know, but for whatever reason, it was over now, and he was back in the present.
For one merciful moment, in the instant between consciousness and unconsciousness, he had no idea where he was, or what was going on. But the very next nanosecond, brutal reality came crashing down, along with a wave of pain that forced his eyes shut again, and he remembered where he was. What was happening. And why.
Instantly and instinctively, his guard flew up, his body reacting automatically to its momentary vulnerability, breath escaping in a painful gasp that reminded him of his broken ribs.
But as he forced his eyes open again, observing his surroundings, he realized that he was, for the moment, alone. Not that solitude brought him any real relief. But it did mean that, right now, he didn’t have to brace himself for the next onslaught.
He sighed, unable to let his guard down even with this knowledge, and struggled to raise himself up from his prone position on the small, thin mattress he’d been given. It was a difficult and painful task, but now that he was awake, he could master the pain enough to deal with it accordingly, and he eventually managed to maneuver himself into a seated position, and leaned back against the wall, facing into his cell.
The smooth, barren walls loomed over him, enclosing him in the small space that was his prison of the past thirteen days. Empty save for the mattress he was sitting on, it was frustratingly confining, especially for someone like the Doctor. And he couldn’t get out. The only way out (and not for a lack of searching) was the large door that dominated the opposite wall. But it was thick, solid, and utterly featureless on the inside. No hinges, no handle, nothing that might have given him an opportunity to manipulate it. And on the outside, he’d seen, numerous and complex locks that very effectively sealed him in here, even if he had been capable of stepping through the door in the first place, which the reverse isomorphic controls had ensured that he couldn't.
No, this prison was solid, designed to contain someone. Designed to contain a monster. Designed to contain him…
He closed his eyes, fighting to keep such dark thoughts at bay. He couldn’t succumb to them, needed to keep his head. He’d promised Rose he wouldn’t let himself be broken, and even if he hadn’t, his mind was strong, and he was stubborn. Thirteen days weren’t enough to break him…but he had to admit, the woman was giving it her best shot, and she seemed in no hurry.
The combination of whatever they were giving him to subdue him and the never-ending physical assaults, coupled with the crippling guilt that surged up whenever he was around her, kept him off-balance, more vulnerable than usual. And he couldn’t deny that he was frightened.
He turned his attention to the only other feature in the room, and the most hateful. The small black camera, constantly watching him, constantly observing. A reminder that he was never truly alone, even when he was in here. That his every move was watched. It was stifling, and he couldn’t shake the feeling of their gaze burning into him, even through the lens of the camera. He hated it, but there was nothing he could do about it. He merely glared, but couldn’t think of anything defiant to say or do at the moment, so he finally turned away again, ignoring it as best he could.
He winced as even this slight movement tugged on several injuries, frustrated at his own weakness. Not just because he was showing weakness in front of his captors. True, he’d have preferred not to, but he’d realized on the first day that he was brought here that pride would have no place in this situation.
But it was his own helplessness that infuriated him. Because he’d promised Rose and Mishell that he would get them out of their prison, that he would fight for them and that he’d come for them. And here he was, unable to even stand on his own, cut and bruised and battered, unable to even protect himself, much less the two girls who were suffering so much for him.
Unable to protect Mishell, that brave girl who’d had no reason to be involved in this situation.
And unable to protect Rose…
It’d been thirteen days since he’d surrendered to the woman to save Rose’s life. A decision that he didn’t regret, not for an instant, not even now. Thirteen days since he’d been permitted those final ten minutes with the girls, since he’d held Rose close and swore to her that this wasn’t the end. His hearts twisted at the memory, accompanied by a longing that he couldn’t deny as he remembered those last moments when he’d kissed her, even though he knew those thoughts were terribly selfish. Thirteen days since their lives had been spared, but they’d been sent to prison.
The very thought of the two of them in prison made him want to scream. The thought of what they must be enduring…what might be happening to them.
Mishell was a survivor, he’d seen it even in the few days he’d known her. And Rose…well, she could take care of herself. But he knew about prisons, only too well. He knew the kinds of people that were there, knew the kind of environment they would be in. What might happen to them, what they would be exposed to. Two young women at a prison? He closed his eyes as a miserable shudder wracked his body, accompanied by an onslaught of guilt.
Even the woman had pointed out, multiple times, that it would be more merciful for him to ask her to execute the girls, rather than condemning them to slowly die in prison. But he’d refused, and he didn’t regret fighting for their lives.
But the thought of what they had to be going through…what Rose had to be going through…for him…he knew he could never, ever make this up to her.
But she was alive. She had to be. She was strong, both girls were. And the woman wouldn’t permit them to die. Even so far away, they were still valuable leverage over him. He knew that she knew exactly where to find the girls if she needed access to them, and this was just one more reason why he didn’t dare openly defy her much. Too much was at stake. His own life didn’t matter, not really. But he had to keep them safe, any way he could.
Every instinct in him screamed for him to fight back, to go rescue them. He had to get away. He owed it to them. But he couldn’t even leave this cell unaided, and he hated it.
Time stretched on, and he was acutely aware of each passing second, unable to do anything but try to take advantage of the solitude, in the pessimistic but undeniable knowledge that it wouldn’t last.
He knew he would not be left alone for long. It’d already been almost three hours since his last dose of the sedative, and longer than that since they’d last taken him out of here. So he knew that something was going to happen. Thirteen days had taught him that much. The woman had one purpose and one purpose alone: to make him suffer, as much and as long as possible, and she’d waited all her life to have him at her mercy.
Almost as soon as he’d thought this, a sound from outside jolted him out of his thoughts. Instantly familiar. The sound of the locks being undone.
He couldn’t help but shrink back a little at the sound, but he battled his instinctive reaction, forcing himself to show as little fear as possible. But his hearts pounded harder than ever, memories of what that sound had preceded in the past tugging at his mind. Still, he would not give them any more satisfaction than he was forced to.
The door opened with a bang, and several soldiers stepped inside, filling the small cell with their presence.
“Hello,” the Doctor greeted them, his voice hoarser and weaker than he would have liked, but relatively steady. He wished that he could get to his feet, instead of remaining seated before them like an invalid or a child, but he didn’t trust his damaged legs to support his weight unaided. So he merely concentrated on keeping his expression composed. “Long time, no see.”
Several of them had their weapons already out, aimed unflinchingly at him. As though he was truly a threat to them right now.
One look at their faces told him that he wasn’t fooling any of them with his verbal nonchalance. So he dropped all pretense of lightheartedness from his voice.
“What do you want?”
The one that he recognized from previous encounters as the most superior in rank stepped forward and looked down at him with an expression of mingled contempt and superiority.
“You will come,” he commanded. It was not phrased as a request, and the Doctor knew it.
Just as he knew that his brief respite was over.
He made eye contact with each of them, but saw no mercy or pity in their eyes.
He was still unused to how they looked at him, with such utter contempt and disregard. As though he were an object. The woman’s hate may have been the most psychotic, the most personal, and the most damaging, but these men were capable of just as much cruelty as she. They knew what he had done, who he was. The woman had made sure of that. And as such, in their eyes, he had no rights. No voice, no choice, nothing. They didn’t even see him as a person. To them, he was nothing more than an animal, to be used and abused as they saw fit.
And he couldn’t deny that this hurt far more than he would ever admit to anyone else.
Before the Doctor could respond to their command, several other soldiers stepped forward and wrenched him upright, evidently already aware that he wasn’t capable of walking on his own.
The movement was agonizing, as the men made no effort to be gentle or to avoid jarring his injuries, and the Doctor clenched his teeth in an attempt to avoid crying out. But he was unable to keep completely silent, and he heard someone snigger.
He didn’t bother resisting, familiar enough with this routine to know that it would be pointless at this juncture. Currently, he was overpowered and injured, and fighting back right then would only result in further injury to himself, if he was fortunate, or an innocent servant, if he wasn’t. Or even Mishell or Rose. His best chance, he reminded himself, was to stay alive long enough to find an advantage. And now was not the time.
He was pulled out of the cell and down the corridors of the building which had become his entire world. He never even saw the outside, having been unconscious when he was brought here, and he had no way of knowing how big it was, or the full layout. But she had told him, on multiple occasions, that he would never see the world outside of this place again. His life was her property now, and here he would stay until she was through with him.
He didn’t believe her, of course…couldn’t believe her. After all, he’d escaped from far worse than this…defeated stronger enemies, fought larger battles, escaped deeper prisons. He’d overcome the impossible, or supposedly impossible, more times than he could count. There was always a way out.
But this knowledge was small comfort to him, as he fought the sickening pain that surged through him as he half-stumbled and was half-dragged through the corridors. Still, it wasn’t unbearable, and the Doctor was no stranger to pain, in his long life. Pain could be dealt with.
He glanced around, taking in the corridors as they passed through them, committing the layout to memory as best he could. He knew the knowledge could literally save his life some day. He could already recognize several routes which led to some of the places he’d been taken on previous occasions. But this time, he immediately noted, they were going somewhere different.
He really didn’t want to think about what she had in store for him this time.
“Where are you taking me?” the Doctor asked his captors, unable to keep the question back.
But evidently he’d pushed his luck too far, dared to ask too much, and he was punished by a vicious blow to the head.
He closed his eyes, in part due to the blow, and in part due to his sheer frustration at his lack of opportunity for communication. Words were his strength, he knew that. Both his metaphorical sword and shield. But the woman knew it too…and took measures against it. And he hated it.
He tried to control his emotions, though circumstances had left them poised on a hair-trigger. Every time he’d been taken out of his cell, some new form of torture had followed, and the fear was fast becoming conditioned. But she wouldn’t kill him, he reminded himself. Not now, not so soon. She wanted him alive, and if she wasn’t going to kill him, he could do this. He’d made it this far, and survived far worse…though admittedly, he couldn’t think of much at this particular moment. But he knew he had, and so he knew that it was just a matter of enduring through whatever happened next, keeping himself and others safe until he could turn the tables. It was all he could do…
One final door, and then they were in a new room.
His first impression was an odd, chemical odor, not overwhelming, just very present. Like strong disinfectant, among other things he couldn’t quite place.
He forced himself to lift his eyes, his vision taking a moment to clear, to absorb his new surroundings in an attempt to anticipate what was about to happen. But what he saw sent a wave of dread slamming into his hearts, robbing him of breath as he went instantly rigid, feeling as though his veins had just been flooded with ice.
He thought he’d been prepared for anything…but not this. Anything but this…
The walls were white and featureless, and the floor was of some sort of tile that sloped slightly inward towards a drain in the middle. Medical equipment of all sorts surrounded them, and several white-coated figures looked up as they entered. They appeared to be in the middle of making preparations for something. Surgery, from the looks of it.
And dominating the entire room, right in the center, was a large, metallic autopsy table. Except that this table had something that no other autopsy table possessed…that no other autopsy table required: restraints.
He absorbed all this in moments, and he knew what was about to happen.
His already weakened shields buckled under this onslaught, and in that instant, he realized how paper-thin his courage and resolve currently were. How low he’d been brought. He knew what was about to happen…knew there could be no beneficial reason he would be brought into surgery…and any logical or courageous thought was instinctively and utterly overwhelmed by sheer panic.
No! The word blazed through his mind. No, no, no…
He’d known they were curious about him, even alongside their hate and contempt, and they’d run several tests in attempts to learn more about him. He should have seen this coming. But he hadn’t…
He’d often made lighthearted comments to his companions about how he could be locked away and dissected if the wrong people figured out what he was, but underneath the casual references, there had always lurked a real fear. Of being used as a research subject, of being cut open like an animal. And now he was faced with this particular fear made reality, and any strength he’d cultivated crumbled far more swiftly than he would have anticipated.
Every living thing is programmed with a core-deep instinct to protect itself. An instinct that runs deeper than resolve, deeper than any thought or emotion. The instinct to spare the body pain.
And it ran far deeper in the Doctor than in most life forms.
Terror and adrenaline momentarily overcoming even his injuries, he wrenched around in his captors’ grip, twisting away in a desperate and utterly instinctive attempt to get away. To stop what was about to happen.
He knew he wasn’t supposed to fight back like this, knew that there would be consequences if he did so, but panic overcame every other thought, and he fought to free himself.
The word was torn out of him as he threw every ounce of his depleted strength into getting away from the men who held him.
Pain seared through his injured body, but it only fueled his desperation. His strength was depleted from the injuries and the drugs, but he was not helpless, and he fought with everything he had. As he had not yet fought them.
He actually caught them off guard for a moment, and felt their grip slacken as he twisted free.
But the next instant, he was seized by multiple pairs of hands. He struggled to escape, fought as hard as he could, but everywhere he turned, there was someone else, and he couldn’t get away, and he couldn't even think clearly, and everything hurt…
He wasn’t strong enough to overpower all of them, and they knew it as well as he did. He was outmatched and outnumbered, and furthermore, he was injured and weakened.
And in his hearts, he knew that he was not going to be able to stop what was about to happen. That he was only going to hurt himself and others if he fought any more. He was not supposed to fight back at all, and certainly not this much. He was not going to win this particular battle.
But his mind and body were not communicating, and he continued to struggle even as he was inevitably dragged farther into the room.
He felt something pierce his shoulder, and then a rush of warmth as he was injected with something.
Almost immediately, he felt his muscles go slack, limbs turning leaden, his heartbeats slowing as his adrenaline was overwhelmed by whatever chemical had just been shot into his system. Not enough to render him unconscious or even utterly immobile. But enough to make him limp and unable to fight back.
He crumpled practically on the spot, and he felt harsh, uncaring hands painfully seize hold of him.
“That’s better,” someone said, and the Doctor closed his eyes, not knowing or caring who was speaking, unsure if this disinterest was due to the tranquilizer, or due to the fact that he realized how hopeless this was.
He hated being this helpless and submissive at the hands of anyone, especially those who meant him harm, but he could do nothing to defend himself as he was lifted onto the table, the movement jarring his ribs and legs painfully. He struggled weakly against the restraints that they clamped around his wrists and ankles, but the tranquilizer rendered him as weak and helpless as an infant, and it took no effort at all for them to overpower him.
Everyone else in the room seemed to breathe a sigh of relief as he was fully restrained, and they stepped back, allowing everyone to catch their breath.
“I take it he knows what’s about to happen to him?” one of the guards commented, and several of the others chuckled in response.
The Doctor fought to control his terror. He could already tell that the restraints were strong enough to hold him even when he wasn’t subdued like this, and the utter inevitability and hopelessness of the situation both terrified and infuriated him. He couldn’t get away…couldn’t protect himself…and he knew that this was going to be bad.
How had it come to this? How could things have degenerated to this point this quickly? Two weeks ago, he’d been on Frax with Mishell, trekking through the woods to rescue Rose. Just another one of their typical misfortunes, to be overcome and laughed about in the future.
And then things had spiraled out of control, and no matter how he fought to regain the upper hand, he couldn’t seem to make anything right. Now here he was, utterly helpless and at the mercy of these people, to be used and abused as they saw fit. He was ensnared, entrapped, and enslaved. And they believed that he deserved every moment of it.
He’d promised that he wouldn’t break…but at this moment, all he could feel was dread at what he knew was to come.
The next instant, he heard a door opening, and the sound of footsteps.
“Well,” a chilling voice nearly stopped his hearts. Prompting a reaction that he could not control, a surge of mingled terror, sorrow, pity, and hate that only one person could currently produce.
“Look at this.”
It took effort, for his head felt like it was weighted down with lead, but he turned it in the direction of her voice.
The woman stood in the doorway, her presence filling the entire room with her unmistakable aura of menace and authority. Dwarfing the guards and doctors alike with her stature, her crimson and gold robes only heightening the air of superiority that surrounded her like a cloak. A long, curved knife at her side, ready to be used at a moment’s notice, as he knew from personal experience.
Her grey eyes, filled with madness and power and hate, locked onto his from across the room. It took all his self-control not to break eye contact.
“We had to tranquilize him, my lady,” the most superior soldier said with a slight, humble bow.
“Why?” she asked, her eyes darting over to the man with an air of curiosity.
“He fought,” the soldier replied. “As soon as he saw the room, he resisted.”
“Of course he did,” the woman nodded contemptuously. Her eyes moved back to him. “For someone so willing to inflict pain on others, he shows a surprising reluctance to be on the receiving end.”
The Doctor couldn’t help but wince inwardly at the utter hate in her voice. He’d heard it before, but it never ceased to devastate him. The thought of the little girl she had been…and who he had turned her into…
“It’s only a temporary muscle relaxant,” one of the physicians added. “It will wear off in minutes. So it won’t interfere with…anything.”
Indeed, he was already regaining some muscle control. But the way the man said ‘anything,’ caused a new wave of trepidation to rise up in him.
“Excellent,” the woman replied.
Seemingly satisfied by these revelations, she advanced on the table on which the Doctor was bound.
She loomed over him, and he wished more than anything that he wasn’t bound and helpless before her. He hated to give her satisfaction, but he couldn't help it. And he could see it in her eyes as she took in his current state.
“Hello, Doctor,” she said coldly.
He met her gaze but knew better than to respond. She had very specific rules she wanted him to follow, and he’d learned the hard way what disobedience prompted. The faces of those who had already perished as a result of his defiance or disobedience swam in his mind’s eye, along with a wave of soul-crushing guilt, but he forced himself not to think about that right now, to concentrate on the current situation.
She looked fiendishly pleased when he remained silent.
“You are learning,” she observed.
He gritted his teeth, and tugged at the restraints again. Not because he thought he could escape, but to show that he was not yet broken.
“You can talk,” she added.
He looked her right in the eye.
“How will this benefit you?” he asked honestly. Not wasting words, keeping his voice and gaze steady.
She raised an eyebrow.
“I’m surprised you even have to ask.”
She slowly began to circle him, one hand on the hilt of her knife, the other trailing along the edge of the table, almost-but-not-quite touching him.
“Know your enemy, Doctor. The more I know about you, the more I know exactly how to give you what you deserve.”
Abruptly, her hand moved to momentarily clamp down on his leg, right on one of the fractures that were only beginning to heal. He screamed out before he could stop himself.
She continued circling and speaking, as though nothing had happened. She was extraordinarily unpredictable that way. And that was what made her so frightening.
“And how better to learn about you than to see exactly what makes you tick, Time Lord?”
If ever there’d been any doubt of what was about to happen, it vanished now. Dread pounded through his hearts, but he fought to control his outward emotions.
“Besides,” she added, “you are unique. Your biology, your physiology…so much mystery. I won’t deny that this is a fascinating opportunity for all of us. And it’s not as though we’ll ever get the chance to study another Time Lord, will we?”
She stared at him, a gaze that seemed to penetrate straight into his soul, confirming once again that she knew what happened to all other Time Lords. He saw the blame, not just for his species (she cared very little for Time Lords, aside from the fact that they were further evidence of the Doctor’s genocidal nature), but for hers.
He saw the accusation in her eyes, the condemnation.
And he couldn’t deny it, because it was true.
He dropped his gaze, unable to meet her eyes anymore.
This apparently pleased her, and she reached down and touched his face.
He couldn’t help but shiver at her touch, and turned his head away. But his movements were still sluggish and uncoordinated, and anyway, he couldn’t move far, due to the restraints. She followed him easily, towering over him as she slowly and methodically traced the contours of his face with icy fingers.
It was a gesture that might have seemed flirtatious if it had come from any other opponent. But he knew her too well for that, knew the hate and the torment and the fury that she felt towards him. Even now, he could feel the barely suppressed hate in her touch, as though she had to physically restrain herself from moving her hand lower and snapping his neck.
No, this gesture was purely possessive. Authoritative, like someone examining their property, or some object in their collection. She knew he didn’t want her touching him like that, and that was why she was doing it. She knew he associated her touch with pain and cruelty, and she was reinforcing this. Reminding him of his place, showing him that she was the one in control here, and he could do nothing to stop her. He was at her mercy.
“Tell me you don’t deserve it,” she requested softly, as her fingers dominatingly slid down from his temple to trace his jaw line, her voice dropping to a sibilant whisper, laced with malice.
In a motion so fast that he couldn’t avoid it, even though, in his hearts, he’d known it was coming, her other hand had whipped out the knife and slashed a long cut down his cheek.
He managed to keep from crying out, but his whole body stiffened with a near-agonizing jerk in reaction.
“Tell me you don’t deserve all of this.”
He closed his eyes, feeling the blood running down his cheek, hating his fear and his vulnerability. Hating that he couldn’t find the words to reply to her. Hating her, hating the soldiers, hating this place.
But most of all, hating himself.
His words caught in his throat, and she smiled.
“Exactly,” she said.
She sheathed the knife and straightened.
“Right, then,” she continued briskly. “Playtime is over. Let’s get to work.”
The doctors, who had kept their distance, knowing better than to disturb the woman when she was with her captive, began to move around the room again, continuing their preparations.
Panic tugged at the edges of his mind, his heartbeats pounding in his ears as he desperately sought a way out of this. Nothing presented itself.
“You can go,” the woman added, addressing this remark to the soldiers. “He’s not going anywhere, and I will summon you should I require you.”
They acquiesced with slight bows, withdrawing from the room and leaving him with just the doctors, and the woman.
He looked up at her in desperation.
“You want me alive,” he said quietly.
“No one said anything about killing you,” she informed him coldly. “There are ways to do this that do not require your death.”
“Yes,” he couldn’t deny this. “But…I…” he swallowed hard, but forced himself to continue. He hated to admit this to her, but it was a real, legitimate fear for him. And if it would convince her not to do this…well, then it would be worth admitting his vulnerability. “I’m honestly not sure if I’m strong enough to survive the procedure.”
He was already weakened and injured and broken. He’d barely been fed since he’d come here, and had slept very little. His body had been subjected to near-constant abuse of varying intensities. A procedure such as this would be dangerous to attempt on a healthy person, and the Doctor knew that even despite his superior physiology, he was far from healthy. There was a distinct possibility that he would not survive what they planned to do to him.
She studied him for a long moment, and he looked back at her seriously.
“Oh, you’ll survive, Doctor,” she said. “We’ll make sure of that.”
In that moment, he accepted that there would be no escaping this.
She turned to one of the others.
“Is everything ready?” she asked.
“The head should be in momentarily,” one of them supplied. “Everything is in place.”
He closed his eyes against the activity surrounding him, ignoring the pain caused by the restraints and the blood still trickling from his cheek onto the table below, knowing that he was going to have to find some way to cope with what was about to happen.
This wasn’t the first time that he had been cut into for “scientific” purposes, but it was the first time that the deed had been done by people whose primary motivation was to harm him, with a gain in knowledge being secondary.
Which meant that the next few hours were going to be Hell.
In his panic, he felt himself reaching out desperately for the comfort of the TARDIS. Always she had been there for him, a telepathic presence that was so much a part of him that he hardly noticed it anymore. But they were too far apart. Rarely had he been solar systems apart from his TARDIS, and the distance tore apart their connection in almost every way.
Their core bond was intact, as it would be regardless of distance, or time, or situation. He knew that she was alive, her existence a fact in his consciousness. Impossible to explain, but undoubtedly real. And he knew that she would know that he was alive as well.
But beyond that, there was only silence, and the place where she should have been in his head ached with a pain that stabbed straight to his hearts, more potent than any wound the woman could inflict. Leaving him feeling more alone than ever.
Harsh hands were on him again, and he felt them cutting away the thin shirt he’d been given to wear, exposing his arms and torso. He could do nothing to stop them, and thus, he didn’t even try to, as they continued to strip him until he was left with nothing between him and them.
He hated it, but not for the reason that might initially come to mind. He didn’t care about the loss of dignity, not really. Dignity was a thing of the past here, and given everything else that was happening and about to happen, he just couldn’t afford to care that much. No, what sickened him was the loss of protection. In actuality, the clothing had not been much protection from them at all. But it was symbolic, one more layer between him and them, and now that he was without it, he felt utterly exposed in more ways than one.
He heard someone enter the room, and opened his eyes to see a humanoid man in surgical scrubs stepping through the doorway. He nodded respectfully to the woman.
“My lady,” he said.
“Hello,” she replied, in a tone completely different from how she spoke to the Doctor. Cordial and maybe even a little friendly. Reminding him that she didn't automatically hate everybody. Just people who deserved it... “Is everything in place?”
“Yes,” the head surgeon replied.
He focused his gaze on the Doctor, eyes curiously bright.
“Is that it?”
That was all he was to them. Just a specimen, nothing more.
“It is,” the woman replied, and the surgeon advanced on the table, studying the Doctor with an expression of mingled eagerness and revulsion.
The other doctors continued their work, attaching various devices to the Doctor’s fingers, wrists, and arms, which he knew would be used to monitor his vital signs in the coming hours. But he ignored them and kept his gaze on the approaching surgeon, trying to keep from trembling as his fear clawed at him.
“Time Lord,” the surgeon pronounced, catching hold of the Doctor’s face and tilting it from side to side, examining it closely.
The Doctor jerked away, but the surgeon didn’t seem to mind.
“Fascinating,” he said, reaching down to feel the Doctor’s double heartbeats, one hand over each heart. His hands were cold and clinical, and the Doctor knew he could feel how much his hearts were pounding.
He gritted his teeth, part of him wishing they would just get it over with, instead of dragging it out excruciatingly. He was absolutely dreading what was to come, but the anticipation was, in some ways, far worse.
“Get on with it,” he bit out, managing to keep his voice steady, his words more defiant than his attitude. With a spirit that he did not truly feel.
“You don’t give orders here, Doctor, you know that,” the woman reminded him.
But she nodded to the surgeon, who joined the other doctors in their preparations.
Someone approached, and before he could anticipate it, injected something into his shoulder.
“What…” he stared to ask, but checked himself, fairly certain that the woman wasn’t going to tolerate him speaking for much longer. But she seemed to know what he’d been about to ask.
“Well, we can’t have you regenerating on the table, can we?” she inquired. “That could cause some complications.”
He closed his eyes, shutting out the world as he absorbed this information, and forced his panicked and pain-fogged mind to focus on linear thought for a moment. They’d just given him a drug that would stop his regeneration. He’d had it before, back when they’d held him for ten days, and they’d given him at least two other doses while he’d been here. He pictured the syringe he’d caught a glimpse of, and struggled to calculate the dose that had been inside. Typically, he would have been able to metabolize that dose in about twelve hours. But they were suppressing his metabolism, so that he wouldn’t be able to fight off the mild sedative they kept him on at all times nearly as quickly. Which mean he was not going to be able to regenerate for at least a day, probably longer.
For the next day or so, he would be as mortal as any human. If he died, he would not have a chance at regenerating. And this loss of control and an ability that he had counted on all his life made him feel more lost than ever.
He struggled against the restraints again, ignoring the pain this prompted from his existing injuries. Knowing he wouldn’t be able to get free, but fighting anyway, like a cornered animal. His breathing coming faster and faster as his panic and claustrophobia increased. He didn’t know if he could endure this…and even if he could, he just didn’t want to!
“Put him out,” the surgeon ordered, and immediately, the woman caught the Doctor’s eye, intercepting his fearful and desperate gaze. She leaned over him, speaking softly and triumphantly.
“Here’s what is going to happen,” she informed him. “You are about to be given a sedative. Though, actually, I suppose it’s more of a paralytic. It is fast-acting, and with a continued dose, strong enough to keep even you under control for as long as we need it to.”
He swallowed hard as one of them brought over an IV, already prepped with some sort of liquid. The woman seemed to be enjoying his reaction to her clinical assessment.
“You will lose all ability to move or speak, or react in any way to what is being done. The only voluntary control you will retain is your breathing and your eyes. But your mind will not be affected. You will feel everything.”
“Please,” the word slipped out unbidden, any defiance instantly lost. He felt the prick of the needle entering his arm, and knew he was down to seconds. He hardly ever begged, but oh, he was doing it now. “Please. I can’t…”
“I know,” she said.
And she gave the physician a nod.
She hadn’t been lying when she’d said it was fast-acting, and almost as soon as they started the line, he felt his body relaxing, in spite of himself. Control rapidly slipping away as his limbs turned leaden, his body ceasing to respond to his commands in a matter of seconds. Terror such as he could not remember feeling before flooded him as he struggled to combat the sensation, but it was a losing battle.
He struggled to breathe, to overcome the panic that was crashing over him in brutal waves as the claustrophobia set in, as he realized that he was a prisoner in his own body. Completely paralyzed in less than a minute, save for his breathing and his eyes, just as she had said. He wanted to scream, but he couldn’t make the sound come. He couldn’t move! He could do nothing to defend himself.
For someone as devoted to constant motion as the Doctor was, the feeling was the closest he’d come to experiencing Hell in a long time.
“There we go,” the woman said with a smile, and he looked at her, unable to even turn his head. She ran a finger lightly across his exposed skin, and he couldn’t even flinch away. The monitors by his head registered the pounding of his hearts, broadcasting his inner turmoil for all to see, but he could do nothing to protect himself.
Satisfied that he was immobilized, the woman turned away from him, and from that moment on, it was as though he wasn’t even present in the room. They looked at him, spoke about him, and touched him as though he were an object, despite the fact that they knew he could see, hear, and feel them. But now that he was subdued, it was as though no one acknowledged that he was conscious anymore.
His mind raced, ablaze with panic now that he was thoroughly trapped in his head. In his paralysis, all his other senses were heightened, his body fighting to overcompensate for his vulnerability by flooding him with sensory input. The cold metal of the table he lay on, the sound of the monitor steadily beeping, footsteps moving around, a murmur of voices as two of them softly conferred about something, the scent of chemicals, the pounding of his own hearts, and the pain of his already existing injuries…
His breath caught in his throat, but he found that he couldn’t even cry. All he could do was close his eyes against the sudden bright lights overhead that illuminated him, and retreat into his mind, trying to find something to shield himself with, something to take refuge in. He had absolutely no way of defending himself physically, so he had to try to do it mentally. He was locked inside his body, trapped in his mind. He had to find a way to take advantage of that.
“It’s incredible,” one of the doctors said. He felt someone cleaning the blood off of his face, tending to the cut he’d only recently sustained, but he didn’t open his eyes. “Seeing him like this. He looks so…”
“Harmless?” someone else supplied.
“That is how he does it,” the woman informed them. “You’d never suspect it, to look at him. What he is. What he’s done.” Her voice hardened. “The most dangerous monsters of all are the ones that look like everyone else.”
If he was going to endure this, he needed to anchor himself, and quickly. Find something to hold on to, something strong enough to withstand even the strongest assault, and bury himself deep inside it. It wouldn’t drown out the pain and suffering completely, not by a long shot, but it might take the edge off. And it would give him something to fight for. Some light at the end of the tunnel. It was the only way he would come through this with his sanity and spirit intact.
Oh, Rassilon, this was going to hurt…
“All right,” the voice of the surgeon sounded. He could hear various things being brought to the table, people gathering around in preparation. “Let’s do this. My lady,” he added respectfully. “Feel free to watch, but I must ask that from now on, you do not touch him or anything on this table until the procedure is over. We don’t want to risk contamination.”
“Of course,” the woman’s voice replied. “Do what you must, as long as you remember my one condition.”
“We will do everything in our power to ensure that he survives,” he replied.
“See that you do,” she said, her voice hard and cold, and even though he couldn’t see them, he could feel the anxiety pass over the other occupants of the room.
Usually, the TARDIS was his anchor, giving him something to take refuge in. But though his mind scrambled instinctively for the telepathic contact that was usually so constant, screaming inside his head, he felt nothing. So he needed to take refuge in something else. Desperately he reached out for an anchor. Something to tether him to reality, to give him something to focus on, to hold on to, and to take shelter in. Something…or someone…
His companions were always the brightest points of his life. The shining stars in the night sky of his existance. If anything could anchor him, it would be them. Their faces swam before his spiraling mind, those he loved and trusted and valued above all else. Each one was so precious, so bright, and any one of them was a reason to fight. But he could only choose one, and his mind instantly seized hold of the brightest spot he could find. His anchor…his reason.
With his final remaining seconds, he threw up what barriers he could, trying to protect those particular memories above all else.
He didn’t dare open his eyes, but he could feel them marking the incision sites.
He dove down into the memory of their last moments together. Her arms around him, holding him and holding on to him all at once. He tried to call forth every detail that he had committed to memory, knowing then that he would need it in the days to come. Her scent, her warmth, her single heart beating against his, her presence, her affection…
And they made the first incision.
If he’d been capable of it, he’d have screamed as the blade sliced through his skin, cutting through muscle and tissue alike, agonizingly deep and feeling as though it were red hot. Cutting straight to the bone and opening up an incision from his shoulder to the center of his chest. His throat constricted as he struggled to take in air, struggled to breathe through the fear and the pain and the knowledge that this was really happening, and was only going to get worse.
He fought the pain and clung to his memories of Rose, channeling all his strength of will into focusing on her, as opposed to the blade that was now starting on the second cut, equally deep and relentlessly carving a bloody path through his skin to meet the first in a shape that he knew to be a “V”.
He pictured Rose, not as he had last seen her, bruised and struggling to be brave for him. He pictured her, happy and safe and smiling that smile that made his hearts do things that he was fairly certain the cardiovascular system wasn’t supposed to do.
They opened up the third cut, between his ribcage, shearing through nerves and carving over the already bruised flesh, and he recognized the type of incision they were using. A “Y” incision. Used on corpses. Except that he was not dead. And not even unconscious.
And however bad this was, he knew that this was only the beginning.
He opened his eyes for a brief second, and immediately wished he hadn’t. He couldn’t really see what they were doing, but he could see the blood already staining their hands and instruments. His blood. A sickening amount of it, each beat of his hearts only causing him to lose more. He squeezed his eyes shut again, hating that he was utterly incapable of avoiding what was happening. That he was forced to lie helplessly while cut open like an animal, unable to even brace himself for what was to come.
He knew what they would do next, knew the procedure that was taking place. But that didn’t stop the pain from overwhelming him.
The incisions complete, they opened up his chest, pulling back the skin and muscle, exposing his ribcage in a series of movements that made him feel as though he was being methodically torn to shreds, piece by agonizing piece. Pain clawed at the inside of his skull, radiated from his chest like an inferno that threatened to immolate him then and there, and he squeezed his eyes tighter, the only movement he was capable of. The only outward manifestation of the agony inside.
The woman had been right when she said that he would feel everything that they were doing. Now that they had opened his chest, they needed to gain access to the organs there, protected by the ribcage.
He opened his eyes again, watching their movements as best he could, each breath a monumental effort that only compounded his anguish, and was at once terrified and infuriated by how casually they worked. They were fully aware that their subject was fully conscious and feeling everything they were doing, but they made no effort to be gentle or to avoid causing him unnecessary pain. Quite the contrary.
Then he caught sight of the woman, out of the corner of his eye. She wasn’t watching the surgeons. She was watching his face.
Anguished, he closed his eyes again, letting the darkness surround him as they began to saw through his sternum, heightening the agony to an entirely different level.
It hurt, it hurt, it hurt, and he couldn't move, he was trapped within himself, he couldn’t get away…
Think of Rose.
Her hand in his, her unwavering trust, running side by side across alien worlds, the look in her eyes that made him feel as though maybe there was some good in the universe after all. The way she made him feel, and yes…the red-hot anguish driving out any pretense or denial…the way he loved her…
But it was getting harder to think, harder to breathe, and he felt like he was dying, and he probably was, and he didn’t know how he was going to endure this.
With the sternum cut, they were able to use an unseen device to spread his ribs apart, and he momentarily blacked out as this put extra strain on his already broken ribs, and broke a few more in the process. But unconsciousness brought no relief, only plunged him into a world of nightmares and darkness and hate and screaming and death and fire and pain, such that he was almost grateful when he regained consciousness.
He struggled to keep Rose’s image in his mind, imagining her urging him to be strong. To just hold on until this was over. It couldn’t last forever. But he’d slipped into a realm beyond time, his sense of time completely shattered and overwhelmed, and he had no way of knowing how long it had been. Or how much longer remained.
He’d experienced pain before. After all, he’d died nine times already. He’d been tortured on many occasions, and he could handle quite a lot before he broke. The Doctor was not weak, by any stretch of the imagination, and even he had no delusions about that. But this…this was something he’d never endured before. Being cut open and vivisected, piece by piece, while fully conscious and immobilized…while already bruised and battered and weakened and tormented…he couldn’t bear it. But he must.
He was not given a choice.
He knew his internal organs were unique, and he knew that they would be fascinated by them, and he was not mistaken. They took their time, examining each one in minute and excruciating detail, and all he could do was keep Rose's memory alive in his mind, and fight for breath, his respiratory bypass kicking in when he couldn’t, feeling his body weakening under the strain it was being put through. His hearts fighting to keep his body supplied with blood even as his blood pressure dropped, his nervous system screaming and blazing as though it was on fire, every sense heightened by his immobilized state. Including his sense of pain.
His hearts fascinated them, his binary cardiovascular system something that they had apparently never seen before, and they spend an inordinate and excruciating amount of time examining them. Hands where hands should never be, accessing parts of him that he hadn't thought could possibly hurt as much as they did. Pain at a depth that shouldn’t be physically possible. Feeling as though they were ripping him apart.
At one point, they temporarily stopped one of his hearts, just to see if he could remain alive with just one beating. The dim portion of his brain not lost to fire and agony was surprised that the woman permitted this, but evidently she was confident enough that he could live with one heart beating to take the risk. He lost consciousness when they did so, one heart unable to sustain his body it its current state, and evidently they quickly restarted his other one, and got him relatively stabilized.
One by one, as the minutes slipped by, each of his organs were examined and studied, and the Doctor was losing track of time. The pain had reached a steady level, provided no one jolted or jostled anything, but it was still at a level which would have rendered any human unconscious, a near unbearable apex that steadily ate away at his mind and his grasp on control as though it were acid. It was growing harder and harder to think of Rose, or anything else, his world narrowing to the table beneath him, the surgeons around him, and the agony inside him.
He was so tired, and so miserable, and he couldn’t move, and it hurt so much, and he just wanted it to stop.
He slipped into unconsciousness again, and jolted back to reality a moment later. One was no better than the other.
He tried to keep his hold on his memories of Rose, though he couldn’t exactly remember why it was so important that he do that right now. But he tried.
A basement at Henrick’s, a dungeon in Cardiff, the fields of New Earth, the streets of 1953 London…
“You deserve it,” an insistent whisper sliced through the fog of pain, from somewhere near his ear. Scattering his memories like wisps of cloud. “You know you do.”
The woman’s voice.
“You killed them.”
He couldn’t deny it, and dazed and half-unconscious and rendered utterly vulnerable by agony, his shields shattered, her words burned into his brain. Twisting their way into his thoughts, like poison coursing through his veins, battling with his anchoring thoughts of Rose. Resonating at a depth that touched the very core of who he was.
“All of them. And you deserve to die.”
He could not deny it verbally or mentally, not now.
“Monster…” she hissed, and his own spiraling thoughts took up the word.
She was using his vulnerable state, taking advantage of his nearly overwhelming pain, to plant her thoughts. She wanted him to hate himself as much as she hated him. But what she didn’t realize was that so often, he already did…
He had no way of knowing how long it was, but it felt like an eternity. He slipped in and out of consciousness with increasing frequency, but there was no mercy or escape in those times. Nothing brought any relief, and his body was terrifyingly weak. Hearts struggling to beat, lungs unable to draw a deep breath, brain barely maintaining vital functions. If he could have regenerated, he knew that he long since would have by now. And a significant portion of him wished that they would just let him die.
But a small portion of his mind refused to let him yield. A portion which clung to life, remembered that he had something to live for. Someone. And even as he slipped further and further from rational and conscious thought, that portion remained. Not a beacon or a comfort, exactly, but it was there, the one constant in his ever-shifting nightmare of pain. So he clung to it with all his strength of mind, hardly knowing why, anymore, but acting on an instinct that even utter agony could not drive out.
It couldn’t last forever, despite how much it felt like it could and would, and finally, he sensed the change in their movements, the change in the atmosphere penetrating even his clouded awareness. He still couldn’t move, still couldn’t truly think straight, was still weaker than he could ever remember being, and was still in dizzying anguish, but now he could pick out phrases spoken by the surgeons that told him that the end was in sight.
Part of him refused to believe it, refused to trust his senses, so thoroughly lost in the maze of agony that he was certain it would never end. But, believe it or not, the end had come at long last.
And as they began to repair the damage they’d inflicted, stirring up entirely different sorts of pain, he heard the head surgeon speaking, and could actually make out the words now.
“He’s not going to be happy when he recovers mobility,” he was saying, his voice sounding like it was at the end of a long tunnel. “I’d recommend we put him all the way out until we can get him back into his cell.”
“He won’t be a threat to anybody in this condition,” the woman replied. “But if it makes you feel better, feel free.”
The IV that was keeping him paralyzed was removed, and something was injected in its place. For a few seconds, nothing happened, and then the Doctor felt the darkness descending as his mind finally, finally fully shut down along with his body.
Sensation returned to him slowly, but to his numb and brutalized mind, two things were clear. He was in a staggering, crippling amount of pain…and he was beginning to recover his mobility.
Instictively, desperately, he scrambled to catch on to his memories of Rose, frantic to not lose his anchor to reality, remembering in a hazy sort of way why he needed to hold on to her. But then he realized that he wasn’t on the table any more. He wasn’t restrained, and no one was cutting into him.
It was over.
One by one, bits of information were revealed to him, his brain absorbing this information as slowly as his mobility was returning.
He was lying on his side, on something marginally softer than the metallic table from earlier. He could feel that he was wearing trousers again, but no shirt. He felt shaky, sick, and dizzy, probably from a combination of blood loss and at least three different kinds of sedatives and tranquilizers issued within a few hours of each other. His entire torso ached more than he would have thought possible, a far cry from how it had felt back on the table, but still feeling as though he might tear open if he even breathed too deeply. And, in all, every fiber of him felt as though it had been stripped to the bone, and he felt disconnected and uncertain of what remained to him.
He forced his eyes open and realized that he was on the mattress back in his cell.
And the next instant, he stiffened painfully as he realized that he was not alone. As his vision cleared, he saw the woman leaning against the opposite wall, an expression of unbearable satisfaction on her face.
“Hello again,” she said. “Feeling better?”
A direct question, which he understood as permission to speak. But he couldn’t think of anything to say to her, was still in a sort of shock, and thus most of his concentration was spent on forcing himself not to tremble at the sight of her.
He lacked the strength to sit up, but he did pull himself up a little, so that he wasn’t lying limp and helpless anymore.
At the same time, he glanced down at his bare chest and caught sight of the evidence of the events of the day. Three long scars, meeting in the center of his chest, forming a large Y-shape. Ugly and barely healed, and extremely sensitive to the slightest touch or movement.
He knew that she could have healed these much more than she had, but realized that she wanted him to keep these scars. She wanted him to remember this.
“Impressive,” he finally managed to say, his voice shaking more than he would have liked. He pulled himself up a little more, heedless of the pain this caused, determined to show as little weakness as possible. “I hope you learned something.”
“I hope you did,” she replied calmly, straightening and slowly advancing on him. She dwarfed him even when he could stand, and in his current position, he felt as small as a child, compared to her.
She knelt by the mattress and looked into his eyes. He had to struggle to meet her gaze, which frustrated him.
Wordlessly, she reached out and touched the scars on his chest. He recoiled as crippling pain shot through them, and she gave a small smile.
“Yes,” she said, almost as though speaking to herself. “I think you definitely did.”
He swallowed hard, wishing more than anything that she would just leave him alone right now. The shock was going to wear off soon, the full enormity of the events of the past hours had yet to completely hit home, and he didn’t want her to be around when it happened. True, he was never really alone, the cameras were always watching, but at least when no one else was in here, he could pretend. For a little while.
“You called out for Rose,” the woman added, and he stiffened. “When you were regaining consciousness.”
He didn’t remember that, but it wasn’t too surprising that he’d called out as he awakened.
However, there was a glint in her eye, and he couldn't let her single out Rose.
“I thought of my friends,” he said, trying to deflect some of the attention off of her. “The people I’ve travelled with. I used all of them as an anchor while I was…” he trailed off. “Well, I anchored myself. Mentally. To keep me sane, and focused. So it’s not surprising that I called out for one of them as I awoke.”
“So what you’re saying is that there’s nothing particularly special about Rose?” the woman inquired with an undercurrent of amusement in her voice.
The Doctor glared at her, but didn’t speak.
She got to her feet, looking down at him.
“And let’s be honest with each other, Doctor. People like you don’t have friends. Anyone who claims to be doesn’t know the truth about you, do they?”
He couldn’t meet her eyes, and didn’t respond to this.
“May I have a shirt?” was all he asked.
She’d apparently brought one for him, for she produced one out of a deep pocket in her robes and threw it in his general direction.
“Put it on yourself,” she said.
Then she turned on her heel and strode towards the door.
“Wait,” he called after her, the request slipping out before he had time to check himself. He knew he wasn’t supposed to order her around, or say anything that might be perceived as an order, so he quickly amended his statement, keeping his voice humble. Not that this was too difficult right now. “May I ask you a question?”
She turned back to face him, looking him up and down.
He looked her straight in the eye, unable to keep back the question that was gnawing at him. His shields and filters were still too battered to be fully operational.
“How is what you just did to me…what you are doing to me…any different than what you accuse me of doing to others?” he asked.
She regarded him with no pity or hesitation.
“The difference?” she inquired.
He nodded, already half-regretting the question.
“The difference, Doctor,” she said softly, “is that they didn’t deserve it.”
Before he could even try to reply, she opened the door and stepped out, slamming it behind her.
Almost as soon as the locks fell into place, he collapsed back down in the mattress as the full impact of what had just happened struck him in an overwhelming, devastating wave. The pain, the fear, the shame…his desperate reliance on Rose, despite the fact that he should want her as far away from him as possible…everything hit him at once, and he started to cry.
Not loudly, but uncontrollable nonetheless. His shields had been utterly shattered by what had been done to him, and he couldn’t stop himself, and wouldn’t have, even if he could. Ignoring the fresh pain that his sobs stirred up, finally surrendering to every emotion of the past few hours, everything he’d been forced to lock up, unable to find an outlet for. Finally free to voice the agony and desperation that had raged inside of him for what had felt like a lifetime.
Feeling as though he’d just been stripped to his core, laying bare everything that lay underneath, and he couldn’t run from it or hide from it. He felt scared of what lay ahead, desperate to find a way out of this, furious that he couldn’t escape, hatred for both the woman and himself, and mostly, sheer unhappiness and loneliness. He'd lost Rose. He didn’t even have the TARDIS to rely on. He had no one.
He wanted to be strong. He wanted to be the hero Rose believed him to be, the hero she needed him to be. He didn't want to let the woman win. But at this moment, he didn’t feel like a hero. He didn’t feel strong. He was just scared and vulnerable, not yet fully recovered, and feeling more alone than he’d ever felt in his life.
And the Doctor cried himself to sleep.
Far across the stars, in another solar system, in the depths of a large prison…for the first time, but not the last, Rose Tyler is jolted out of sleep by a strange dream.
Echoes of fear and anguish and loneliness and utter desperation.
She doesn’t understand. Doesn't know what it is or what it means, or if it’s even real. But nevertheless, it breaks her heart. Reminds her of what is happening…and where she is. And where he is.
She doesn't cry. She can't, won't let herself. But she wants to.
It's a long time before she falls back asleep.