Peri had to squint to see the Doctor twenty feet ahead of her. The sun was reflecting off of the snow, and it was very bright. She wished she had her sunglasses. The last time she saw them they were in the hotel room on Lanzarote. The thought made her stop. She had a strong memory of taking them off her face, folding them and putting them down. She could feel the smooth top of the nightstand. She could smell the sea air. She could feel the cool water.
Peri was jerked back to reality when the Doctor shouted at her. “Peri!” He was running towards her.
“What?” she shouted back.
“Are you all right? You looked like you were about to fall over.” He had reached her, and placed a hand on her shoulder.
“I’m fine. The sun’s just really bright, it’s hard to see.” She squinted up at him.
“All right, we have about two hours to go. Come on.” Peri took a deep breath and followed him. Although the Doctor did seem concerned, Peri had a hard time believing it. He just wanted to get to the palace as quickly as possible to warn the King. She began to move again.
The snow was deep, and twice Peri sank into drifts that were deeper than they looked. The Doctor hauled her out both times, although accepting help from him grated at her. She followed him as closely as she could, but he had such long strides, and she was so tired, she just couldn’t keep up. Every ten minutes, the Doctor would stop and wait for her to catch up.
Peri was having a hard time seeing properly. The sun was so bright, and every time she closed her eyes against it, she had to struggle to open them again. It felt so nice to keep them shut. When she did, images of the night before would flash before her. She saw the Doctor building a fire, holding her, keeping her warm. Pushing the Doctor out of her mind, she marched on, putting one foot in front of the other. She focused all her attention on walking. Exhaustion swept over her like a wave and she wanted to sleep. Her mind couldn’t focus on anything, but her feet kept moving. It was as if her legs moved independently from her mind. Perhaps she could take a quick nap, while her feet kept moving. The Doctor would never know. She could just keep walking. Suddenly feeling faint, she stopped moving and opened her eyes. Peri could see the Doctor up ahead of her, and she called out to him.
“Doc-.” Her voice was harsh. She couldn’t speak above a whisper. Her throat felt frozen.
The Doctor, who hated the abbreviation, didn’t respond, mainly because he didn’t hear her call out. He continued his marching, wanting to get to the palace as soon as possible, not only for Peri’s sake but he still had to warn the King about Mr. Weeun. He heard a noise behind him, and he turned to look at Peri.
The Doctor turned just in time to see her collapse into a snowdrift. In four strides, the Doctor was kneeling at her side. He dug her out of the drift and pulled her towards him resting her body against his. He pulled off a glove and dug through her scarf, coat, sweater, and turtleneck shirt to find her neck. He sat as still as possible for a long while waiting for the beat of her heart. Suddenly he felt it. It was very weak, but steady. He took his hand from her neck and replaced her scarf. He looked into her face. Her eyes were closed, her eyelids nearly black. Her lips were blue, and her skin was ice cold.
He stared down at her. He would have to carry her. He took his sleeping bag from his pack, and after unrolling it he managed to tuck Peri inside it. The Doctor zipped it up around her face, hoping that the extra warmth would help. He then took out the sleeping mats from both of their packs and, placing one on top of the other, tied them together with some nylon twine from his pocket. He laid Peri on the mats, and tied a long string to the front of his makeshift sled. He began to pull.
She wasn’t heavy, and he pulled her for about ten minutes. He stopped at the top of the last range of foothills. He could see the city walls in the distance. He smiled at the sight, and then looked back at his unconscious companion. The smile faded. Then he got an idea. He pulled the mats to the very edge of the hill. He took the strings from the front of the makeshift sled in his hands, pulled Peri into a sitting position and sat behind her, wrapping his legs around her. He pulled her back so she was resting against him. He lowered his head so his cheek was next to hers, and listened. She was still breathing. He sat up, and pulling the strings taught, he was pleased to discover that he had a toboggan ready to take him down the hill. Leaving their packs behind, the Doctor pushed off with his hands, and they slowly began to slide down the hill.
Steering was difficult, but not impossible. The Doctor was just glad that there weren’t any big boulders in their way. The further they went the faster they went. The Doctor was hopeful that the momentum would carry them beyond the bottom of the hill and closer to the city gates. With luck he would only have to pull Peri and the sled for twenty minutes or so. They picked up speed and the Doctor maneuvered them around a small rock. Peri shifted with the movement and the Doctor had to let go of the string with his left hand to stop her. He pulled her back against him, and sighed.
He saw the snow-covered boulder a fraction before it was too late. It suddenly appeared in front of them, and the Doctor instantly recognized it for the immovable object that it was. Uttering a rather loud Gallifreyan curse (grateful that Peri was unable to hear it), the Doctor tried to steer out of the way. For a brief moment, he thought he’d miss it. In horror, he saw Peri begin to slide sideways off the mat. When she hit the rock with her foot, he lost control of the pseudo toboggan. He abandoned all hope of controlling the sled and wrapped his arms tightly around Peri, holding her head close to him with one hand. They slid over the jagged ice covered rock, and when the Doctor’s hip hit the edge of the boulder, they went flying. Tucking his face into Peri’s neck, the Doctor held his breath, waiting for them to stop. They landed at least ten feet away rolling in the snow.
When they stopped moving, the Doctor opened his eyes. A quick check told him no bones were broken, but his right leg and hip were very sore. He looked at Peri lying next to him, her head resting on his chest. She was still wrapped up in the sleeping bag, and the Doctor’s arms and legs were wrapped tightly around her. He slowly released her, checking for breaks and cuts. The sleeping bag hadn’t weathered well; it was torn in several places. Fortunately, the tears were just superficial. Peri seemed unhurt. The Doctor pulled the bag away from her face. She had a massive bruise rising on her cheek, and he brushed it with his gloved hand. “I’m sorry, Peri,” he whispered.
The Doctor stood up, and nearly fell over again when he put his weight on his right leg. The bone wasn’t broken, but it felt cracked, or at the very least, bruised. Stumbling his way over to the remains of the sled, the Doctor cursed again. It had been torn to shreds. The sled had taken the brunt of the jagged edges, and was now completely useless. The Doctor looked from it back to Peri. He was hoping that he could just drag her on the sled, back to the city. Now it looked like he would have to carry her.
The sleeping bag was extra weight that wasn’t necessary, so he pulled it off of her. He cast a glance up to the top of the hill, where the other sleeping bag was. He could use it to pull her, now that the sled was out of commission. He didn’t have the time. Peri’s condition was rapidly worsening. Tucking her arms across her, he scooped her up into his arms, and began moving.
Peri’s head rested against the Doctor’s shoulder and every few steps the Doctor would look down at her. The bruise was darkening and her lips were so blue as to be black. He picked up his pace. Every step with his right leg sent stabs of pain up and down his side, but he couldn’t stop. The closer he got to the city gates, the more hopeful he was that some observant sentry would see him and send out a horse drawn carriage. The fact that the snowsuits they were wearing were gray, and the sun would be reflecting off of the snow into the eyes of any observers, was a pessimistic thought the Doctor wouldn’t allow himself.
Peri began to wheeze. The Doctor moved faster.
He could hear Jek’s words in his ear, over and over. “She’s dying, Doctor.” His own physiology had battled the spectrox toxemia, and had given him a slight edge over Peri’s human physiology. Unfortunately he was succumbing to it as well, and he could feel it in every muscle of his body. They cramped and refused to work. As he was climbing down to get the milk from the queen bat, he was forced to frequently stop and work some feeling back into his legs. He had lost sensation in his fingers ages ago, and had only managed to do anything through serious concentration. He reached the queen bats, and taking a vial from his pocket he managed to milk one of the nearest ones. He capped the vial, dropped it in his pocket and made his way back to Jek’s lab.
He had thought that he could give Peri the milk as soon as he saw her; she needed it immediately. However when he entered the lab he saw that it was in flames, Jek was dead and Peri was alone. He flew to her, and willing his arms to work he picked her up and began to run.
The mud bursts had blocked off several passageways, and the Doctor had to find a new way out of the underground system. When he emerged into the daylight he was overjoyed. He wanted to put Peri down, to give her the milk, but the instability of the planet kept him moving.
The Doctor felt her convulse in his arms and he looked down into her face. Her mouth had fallen open and even though he was running, he suspected that she had stopped breathing. Panic tore through him, and he ran faster. Against his will, thoughts of Adric floated up. Adric died while he was in his care, and now he was going to loose another one. Not only was Peri going to die, but he was as well. Unless he could get to the TARDIS. He saw it as he came around the sand dune, and he began to run faster. He would not let Peri die. He couldn’t lose another companion. He wouldn’t.
He reached the TARDIS door and his muscles gave out. He dropped Peri on the ground and fumbled in his pocket for the key. When he pulled it out of his pocket, the vial came with it. It fell to the ground, breaking open and spilling into the sand. The Doctor fell on it and picked it up. It was half gone! He was going to die.
Opening the door to the TARDIS, the Doctor pushed Peri inside. He crawled over her, and pressing a few buttons, the TARDIS dematerialized.
He turned to look at Peri. He picked her up and poured the entire contents of the vial into her mouth, hoping that she was still conscious enough to swallow. His legs cramped up, and his head exploded in pain. Throwing the vial to the side, he pushed her off of him and collapsed.
As the Doctor carried Peri through the snow he couldn’t help but think of those terrifying moments on Androzani. He worried that Peri would die before he could give her the milk from the queen bat, and that terrified him. What terrified him even more was the fact that that would mean his fifth incarnation lost two companions to death. That thought frightened him even more. Losing both Adric and Peri …. He couldn’t even imagine it.
And now, it was happening again. Peri was going to die, and all the Doctor could think about was Adric. Granted he had regenerated, but he was still the same person. He thought back to Sara Kingdom and Katarina. They had both died while traveling with him as well. And now Peri. No! He wouldn’t allow it. He shifted his arms, holding Peri closer, and began to run even faster.
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