The faster the Doctor ran, the more Peri slipped from his arms. He tried to keep her balanced, but an unconscious body is not easy to run with. He set her down in the snow and, grabbing her arms, he threw her over his shoulder and began to run again. After just a few more minutes his leg finally gave out and he fell into the snow, Peri landing on top of him. He lay unmoving for several minutes. Pain shot up his side and his brain told him that he wasn’t going to be able to get Peri to the city. His own words from Androzani echoed in his head, “I’m sorry Peri, I can’t make it.”
He pulled himself out from under her and looked into her face. He put his hand against her neck, and was relieved to feel a pulse, but it was short-lived. Peri’s wheezing had stopped and now her breaths were coming in short ragged bursts. The Doctor leaned over her, putting his head on her shoulder. “I’m sorry Peri, I can’t make it.”
He tried to muster up as much strength as he could; he had to get up. Peri was depending on him! His brain swam with images of past companions, alive and dead, and he found strength in them. Just as he was about to move, he heard a familiar sound. It was the jingle of horses in harnesses. He looked up to see a covered sled coming towards them, being pulled by four horses. Someone had seen him out here! It pulled up and stopped, and a young lady jumped out of the back.
“Sir! Are you all right?”
“My friend, she’s been drugged.”
“Are you all right?” she asked again.
“I’ve hurt my leg, but she’s more important. Take her first.”
“You’re both coming with me, sir.” The driver of the sled came over and picked up Peri. He carried her around to the back, and laid her down in a pile of straw. The young lady helped the Doctor to his feet and into the back of the sled. He sat down next to Peri, keeping his leg outstretched. He felt the tug of the horses and the sled began to move.
“What were you doing out during the snow season?”
The Doctor looked up at the young lady. She had long dark hair, and a pale complexion. Her eyes were so blue as to be almost purple. Her hands moved in a gentle manner and she checked Peri for obvious wounds. “Our guide left us to fend for ourselves. He put something in Peri’s food, and it’s reacted badly with her physiology.” The Doctor took one of Peri’s gloved hands in his own.
“You’re the Doctor,” she said knowingly, looking up at him.
“I work in the palace, I was told to tend to Peri when you stayed a few nights ago. I’m sorry I didn’t recognize her. I’m Yeena, by the way.” She pushed the layers of clothes away from Peri’s face and touched her cheeks. “What has she been given?”
“Some sort of sedative.”
“Probably Ien Root. It’s very potent.”
The Doctor looked down into Peri’s face. The sled slowed and he heard the city gates open. “It’s important that I speak to the King as soon as possible.”
“That can be arranged,” Yeena said. “But you need to have your leg tended to first.”
“I’ll be fine,” the Doctor insisted.
Yeena gave him a look that said she didn’t believe a word of it. The sled finally stopped and she hopped out the back. Two young men carrying a stretcher climbed in, placed Peri on top of it, and climbed out again. The Doctor followed, leaning on Yeena’s shoulder. They went into the palace and down a long corridor. The two men went into one room, while Yeena steered the Doctor towards another.
“No!” the Doctor said, and leaving her in the corridor he limped after Peri. She had been laid on a rather plush four-poster bed, and the Doctor began taking off her winter clothes. Hat, gloves, coat, scarf, boots, and snow pants all fell to the floor before two nurses could stop him.
“Please, sir, let us take care of her.” The Doctor stepped back to allow them room to work.
Yeena entered the room. “Doctor, they know what they’re doing. Please, come with me.”
He didn’t want to leave Peri’s side, but he knew that the nurses could help her more than he could right now. He let Yeena lead him to the room next door, where he gingerly sat on a bed similar to the one in Peri’s room.
The bed was overstuffed and felt very comfortable. The walls were paneled with a very dark wood and different sections had been ornately carved to feature various scenes from Ewin mythology. There was a sofa and two chairs sitting in front of a fireplace. The fire was just getting strong, and the Doctor looked at it with longing.
Yeena approached him. “I’d like to look at your leg, if I may.”
The Doctor looked affronted. “You may not. A few hours and I’ll be fine.”
“But sir,” she protested.
“Never mind,” he said waving a hand. “I’m going to see Peri.”
Yeena sighed. “If you insist, sir, but at least change into something dry.” The Doctor looked down at his clothes as Yeena left and two valets entered.
Handing him a set of clothes, they insisted that he take his own off. They were soaked through with snow and sweat and should be cleaned. After several objections, the Doctor finally changed into the suit they brought and handed over his own clothes. With a bow they left the room, as the Doctor studied himself in the mirror.
He had been given a pair of black pants with a black silk shirt. Over that, he wore a dark blue jacket that was cut at an angle. There was only one sleeve, the right, and the collar crossed diagonally to under his left arm where it buttoned down to his waist. The hem of the jacket continued down at an angle to his right knee. It looked remarkably like a topcoat worn sideways. With a nod of approval at his reflection, the Doctor limped back to Peri’s room.
The nurses had left, and Yeena was sitting next to the bed. Peri was asleep under a mound of quilts and blankets. The Doctor approached the side of the bed.
“How is she?”
Yeena looked at her patient. “In a few days, she’ll be fine. We were hesitant to give her a stimulant to counteract the Ien Root, since we didn’t know how it would react in her body.”
The Doctor reached out a hand and brushed his fingers across Peri’s forehead. “Now that she’s warm, I think we can allow the drug to work its way out of her system naturally.”
Yeena nodded. “I’ve sent for some food.”
“I’m not hungry,” the Doctor said softly, not taking his eyes from his friend.
“You will eat,” she said sternly.
He looked up at her. “When we were here before, you got to know Peri. You like her, don’t you?”
“Yes, I do.”
He smiled to himself. “You two are a lot a like.” He sat on the edge of the bed and looked back at Peri. The bruise on her cheek didn’t look as bad as he thought, but it was darker in here than it was outside. He couldn’t see it properly in the shadows.
The door opened and a maid walked in with a tray. She set it on a table near the fireplace, and with a curtsey walked out. Yeena looked at the Doctor, who eventually got up and went to the tray of food. There was stew, and fresh bread, as well as hot tea. It warmed him up. When he finished he felt much better; his leg was healing nicely. He sat back on the settee and stared into the fire.
“You should sleep,” he heard her say.
“I'll wait for Peri to wake up.”
“She’ll sleep for hours. I promise you, if she wakes up, I’ll wake you.”
The Doctor closed his eyes and drifted into a state of semi-consciousness. He was still fully aware of the activities in the room; he saw the maid come in and collect the tray. He could hear Yeena speak softly to her about bringing more wood for the fire. But mostly, he sat still allowing his body to heal itself. The less effort he expended on other things, the more effort he could apply to healing his leg.
He sat up exactly thirty-seven minutes later, and looked around the room. Yeena glared at him. “That wasn’t long enough.”
The Doctor stood up and walked, not limped, to the side of the bed. “It’s all I need.”
She sighed and turned her attention back to the needlework she held in her hands. He sat on the edge of the bed again and looked into Peri’s face. He listened to her breathing and was satisfied that she was sleeping peacefully, if not entirely naturally. He felt guilty for what had happened to her, for bringing her here. The Doctor wanted to show her the wide variety of foliage this planet had to offer, but he managed to miss the planting and harvest seasons entirely. He had set the coordinates correctly, but the TARDIS still missed the season he was aiming for.
The Doctor had suspected for some time that the TARDIS had ulterior motives in landing them when she did. It was as if she was setting things in motion; things that she knew had to happen. During his previous incarnation, no matter how many times he correctly set the coordinates for Heathrow, they always ended up some place (or some time) else. He surmised that the TARDIS knew how much he really liked Tegan, and simply refused to take her home. It was annoying, and he had hoped that the TARDIS had gotten past that stage. Sitting by Peri’s side, listening to her sleep, he knew she wasn’t. She was still up to her tricks.
Peri sighed and the Doctor snapped out of his reverie. Her eyelids fluttered, but stayed closed. Yeena came over to the side of the bed, and leaned over her, looking into her face. She looked up at the Doctor, a confused expression on her face.
“She’s dreaming,” he said, and Yeena sat back down, reassured. The Doctor had watched Peri sleep for hours the night before and he knew how her body reacted when she entered REM sleep. Every human reacted differently. One of his companions slept with their eyes open. Sarah? Jo? He couldn’t remember.
“Doctor?” Peri mumbled.
“Yes, Peri? I’m here,” he said.
Peri’s face screwed up into a frown. “Where is he?”
The Doctor’s hearts sank. She didn’t want him. She wanted him. His previous self. He leaned in to her face, and cleared his throat.
Yeena looked up suddenly, thinking there was someone else in the room. She looked at the Doctor, and saw him speaking to his friend, but his voice was so different. It was softer, gentler. Almost like it belonged to another person.
“Peri, I’m here.”
Peri’s frown relaxed. “Doctor?”
“You need to rest. Please. Sleep.”
Peri lapsed back into unconsciousness.
The Doctor cleared his throat again and sat back. He closed his eyes and sighed to himself. He always faced this problem when he regenerated. His companions took it as an offense, like he somehow had killed their friend. They always saw an incarnation as “theirs.” Like they were the only one to know him in that form. It didn’t occur to them that to another companion, their Doctor killed theirs. It was so difficult for their minds to understand. He was still there; he was still the same. Sure, he looked different, but he was essentially the same person. He had the same memories, the same expectations, and the same beliefs.
Now here he was, dealing with it again. Peri wanted his previous incarnation, not his current one. She found him comforting, non-threatening. A memory floated up to the front of his mind, and he saw himself attack Peri. He grabbed her and threw her to the floor. But she was smart, and held up that mirror. He saw his own reflection, and was terrified of what he saw. That wasn’t him, and he hated himself for it. He couldn’t apologize enough for what he did.
He knew that Peri would be haunted by that memory until she died, but she was human, and would only suffer with it for another seventy years, eighty if she was fortunate. He would suffer with that memory for another thousand years, or longer. That was punishment enough.
He looked down into Peri’s sleeping face and felt hurt. In her time of need she wanted him. As with past regenerations, he didn’t know what to do about the uncertainty of his companions. There was nothing he could do. Just let things happen and eventually they would get used to him. And hopefully, they would think of him as “their Doctor.”
There was a soft knock on the door, and Yeena stood to open it. There were whispers from the other side, and then she closed the door.
“The King will see you now.”
The Doctor looked down at Peri, not wanting to leave her, but knowing that he had to tell the King about the rebellion in his own personal guard. He reached out and brushed her cheek with his fingers. “I’ll be right back.”
After the Doctor left, Yeena sat back down with her needlework. She had been surreptitiously watching the Doctor watch Peri. He cared about her very much, and appeared to believe that she didn’t feel the same way. It was quite sad, really. Peri did care about him, but was unsure about how to talk to him. From what she said to Yeena three days ago, “He’s so different. I don’t know who he is anymore.”
Yeena didn’t understand this comment; how could someone change so drastically? Yet something had happened, and Peri was confused. That was the main emotion she got from her when they spoke. Confusion.
Peri sighed again, and Yeena looked at her. Her eyelids fluttered like she was dreaming, but then they opened. She turned her head.
A frown creased her brow as she tried to remember the name that went with the face she was looking at. “I know you.”
“I’m Yeena. Do you remember me?”
“Yes.” Peri relaxed. “We’re in the palace?”
“You’re safe now. We’re keeping you warm, but you need to sleep.”
Peri nodded and looked around the room as best she could without sitting up. “Where’s the Doctor?”
“He had to go see the King, but he’ll be back soon.”
Peri’s eyes closed again, “Figures.” Yeena didn’t understand what this word meant and was about to ask, when Peri spoke again. “I’m dying and he’s off gallivanting with royalty.”
“But Miss, he’s been sitting here for three hours, waiting for you to wake-up. Miss Peri?”
She had fallen asleep again. Yeena adjusted the blankets around Peri’s face and fluffed up the pillows. Then she returned to her needlework.
The door opened twenty minutes later, and the Doctor blew in. He returned to his chair at the side of the bed.
Not taking her eyes form her work, Yeena spoke, “She woke while you were gone.”
She looked up at the Doctor in confusion. “She said that same thing. What does it mean?”
“She said, ‘figures’?”
“Yes, right after I told her you were with the King.”
The Doctor sighed to himself. She had so little confidence in him, that she expected him to not be there for her. It hurt, but it wasn’t unexpected. That thought hurt even more.
Doctor Who and its accoutrements are the property of the BBC, and we obviously don't have any right to them. Any and all crossover characters belong to their respective creators. Alas no one makes any money from this site, and it's all done out of love for a cheap-looking sci-fi show. All fics are property of their individual authors. Archival at this site should not be taken to constitute automatic archive rights elsewhere, and authors should be contacted individually to arrange further archiving. Despite occasional claims otherwise, The Blessed St Lalla Ward is not officially recognised by the Catholic Church. Yet. |
Script for this archive provided by eFiction. Contact our archivists at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please read our Terms of Service and Submission Guidelines.