Satisfied that the King was safe, the Doctor could turn his full attention to his friend. He still had to get to the TARDIS, but that could wait. She was safe where she was. No one in their right minds would venture out onto the frozen plains of Ewin IX. He knew that for a fact. Eventually, when Peri was feeling better, he would go get the TARDIS and bring it here. But he would not ask her to go with him. He wouldn’t take her out in the snow again. When this was over, he was going to take them somewhere warm. Perhaps a beach somewhere. He knew of some lovely beaches.
Assuming Peri wanted to go.
She said that she wanted to be taken home. Perhaps it was just the exhaustion speaking, but the Doctor had to accept the idea that Peri said those words. The words he hated to hear. “I want to go home.” It always tore him up when they said it. But he would always let them go. He knew he couldn’t keep them forever. Forever to them wasn’t forever to him, and because of that simple fact, he always let them leave. He had no choice. But it still tore him up.
He pulled his chair up to the side of the bed and looked at her, sadness in his eyes. He tugged on the blankets and Yeena glanced up briefly from her work. The Doctor took off the dark blue jacket and draped it over the foot of the bed. Then he tucked his hands under the blankets and slowly moved them towards Peri, until he found her hand. He held it in his left hand and placed his right over it. Sitting very still, he could feel the pulse in her wrist.
He began to lightly stroke her hand with his fingers. With the tip of his middle finger, he softly traced around the backs of her fingers, around her knuckles. He felt the coolness of her skin respond to the warmth of his own. He could feel the miniscule hairs on the back of her hand react to his teasing fingers. Her fingers twitched and relaxed in his hand. The Doctor placed his hand on top of hers, and held it for several long minutes. She was uncomfortable around him and wanted to leave him. He wanted her to stay. There was still so much he wanted to show her.
Yeena looked up at him, and putting down her needlework she sat back in her chair. She saw the sadness and pain in the Doctor’s eyes and felt suddenly embarrassed. She felt like a voyeur, like she was watching an intimate moment that shouldn’t be witnessed. She turned her head away, looking instead at the fire.
“You love her, don’t you?” she heard herself say.
Silence settled into the room. The Doctor slowly took his eyes from Peri and looked at Yeena. The fire cracked and popped, and still he said nothing. Yeena turned her face back to the Doctor and stared at him. He met her eyes for a full five seconds before turning his attention back to the sleeping figure in front of him. He gripped her hand tighter and tried to formulate a response that Yeena would understand. And that would convince him as well.
“I do,” he said softly. “I’ve had a lot of people travel with me, and I’ve loved them all. They’re my friends.”
“But Peri’s different,” she suggested.
“They’re all different.” The Doctor raised his head. “Do you have siblings?”
“Yes, sir. I have two sisters and a brother.”
“And do you love them all the same? In the same way?”
“Well, no. I love them all, but differently.”
The Doctor nodded.
“But Peri’s not your sister. I can see that in the way you look at her, the way you talk to her, about her.”
The Doctor said nothing. He carefully set Peri’s hand down and pulled his hands from under the blankets. He straightened them carefully and deliberately, and then sat back in his chair. Evening was drawing in, and the sun was sinking closer to the horizon. Peri would probably sleep through the evening and night hours.
There was a knock at the door, and Yeena opened it, whispering with the valet on the other side. She closed the door with a soft click. “Your clothes have been cleaned and returned to your room, if you would like to change. And the King would like to see you.”
“I don’t know.”
The Doctor frowned, stood, and picking up the blue coat from the foot of the bed, went to his room. He found that his coat, waistcoat and trousers had been laid out on the bed. He dropped the blue coat on the bed, and picked up his multicolored one. He held it out and looked it at, with an appreciative smile. He changed his clothes and returned to Peri’s room.
Yeena looked up when he entered. “Well, that coat would wake anyone up.”
The Doctor harrumphed, and smiled sarcastically. “I shouldn’t be gone long. I’m not sure what the King wants to see me about.”
“Peri might wake up while you’re gone.”
He nodded, “Yes, and I’d like to be here, but I’ve learned that it isn’t wise to keep royalty waiting.” He brushed the back of his fingers across her cheeks. “If she wakes up, will you see that she gets something to eat?”
“I do know what I’m doing, sir.” Yeena returned his smile.
The Doctor swept from the room. A few minutes later, a maid came in with a tray, and set it down on the table by the fire. She left and Yeena stood up and crossed to the table. She found that two plates had been prepared, so she took one and sat down. Halfway through her meal, Peri moaned and woke up. Putting her plate down, Yeena went to her.
She reached down and felt her forehead. “Are you hungry? Do you think you could eat?”
Peri nodded. Yeena helped her to sit up. She went back to the table and returned with a bowl. She pulled her chair up to the edge of the bed and fed Peri a spoonful of soup.
She swallowed appreciatively. “That tastes good,” she croaked.
“It’s a vegetable broth; we give it to a lot of winter-burn sufferers. It warms them up very well.”
Peri smiled and took another spoonful. “We use chicken soup at home.”
Yeena frowned, not knowing what a chicken was, but said nothing. The rest of the meal passed in silence, and when the soup was gone Peri relaxed against the pillows and looked around the room.
“Where’s the Doctor?”
Yeena busied herself putting the plates back on the tray, and setting it outside the door. Then she went to the bed and straightened the blankets and pillows.
“He’s with the King.”
Peri sighed to herself. “How long have I been asleep?”
“Six hours. Maybe seven.”
Figures, Peri thought. I’ve been sick in bed all day, and the Doctor spends all his time with the King. It’s like he doesn’t even care.
Yeena saw her frowning, and spoke. “The Doctor’s been sitting here all day. I couldn’t even convince him to return to his own room to sleep. He slept on the settee. Even when the King summoned him a second time, he didn’t want to go. He wanted to make sure you were taken care of.”
Peri’s frown faded. “He’s been here all day?”
Peri’s fingers were tingling, a good sign that she was regaining feeling in them. She pulled them out from under the blankets and rubbed them together. She looked down at her left hand as she rubbed it with her thumb. She was hit with a memory. It was like a dream; she tried to find the memory but it wouldn’t come to her. She flexed her fingers and looked at them. She shook her head, giving up. If she needed to know she’d remember. She closed her eyes and tucked her head back into the pillows. She was tired, and Yeena suggested that she go back to sleep.
As much as she tried, Peri couldn’t sleep. She worried. And worry always kept her awake. Her brain was stuck in a loop of conflicting thoughts and emotions. The Doctor tried to kill her, and that terrified her. But he kept her warm in the cave, and that calmed her. The Doctor was brash and rude, and that annoyed her. But he sat next to her bed, and that reassured her. Her Doctor was dead and gone, and that saddened her. But this new Doctor was here … and she didn’t know how to feel about that. She was so confused. She remembered telling him she wanted to go home, but now she wasn’t sure.
Peri loved traveling, and she loved seeing things that no human had ever seen before. She remembered when Erimem joined them, she was jealous. She didn’t want to share the Doctor with anyone. Then Erimem was gone, and she could have the Doctor to herself again. Just when she was getting over missing Erimem and getting used to having him all to herself, he died. In her arms. But she still had him. But it wasn’t him. And yet it was.
She didn’t want to leave him, but yet she did. Tears of confusion spilled down her cheeks, and she fell asleep.
The sun had gone down, and darkness seeped into the room through the drawn curtains. The fire cracked in the silence of the room, and Yeena had given up on her needlework. She was hesitant to light a lamp, worrying that it would wake Peri. In the end, she settled herself on the settee with a down quilt and tried to sleep.
When the door opened an hour later, Yeena sat up with a start. She saw the shadow of the Doctor, the light from the hall spilling into the room. He stepped in, and closed the door.
Peri stirred, but appeared not to wake up. Yeena crossed to the bed and looked down at her. Satisfied she was still asleep, she sat on the edge of the bed.
Peri had been sleeping fitfully, and woke when the door opened. But she was so tired she couldn’t be bothered to sit up or even open her eyes. Then she heard the Doctor speak, and she was alert. But she stayed still, wanting to overhear. She didn’t know what he’d say, but if she was going to stay with him, she wanted to know as much about him as she could.
“I have to go.”
“I’ll be back. The King has received word that the rebellion is out looking for my ship. I have to go get it before they do. He’s sending me with several of his best men and a team of horses, but I’ll be gone until mid-day tomorrow.” He leaned over Peri and looked at her. He saw something in her face. There was something there that wasn’t there the night before, or earlier when she was sleeping. “Did she wake up?”
Peri focused intently on the Doctor’s words, without giving away that she was awake. If she knew what he said about her when she couldn’t hear, that might give her an idea of what he really thought about her. Did he really care about her?
“She did. I gave her some broth.” She paused. “She asked about you.”
“I thought she would.”
The Doctor sat down when Yeena moved to the other side of the bed. He stroked Peri’s cheek with the back of his fingers. Sadness was still present in his eyes, but he was also a little mischievous.
Yeena watched the Doctor from the shadows and was again embarrassed. It felt like something she shouldn’t be privy to. There was a knock on the door, and the Doctor suddenly stood.
“I have to go,” he repeated. He went to the door and opened it. Then he turned back to Yeena and said, “You asked me a question earlier.”
“I answered it as best I could. But there are so many different meanings and definitions attached to the word ‘love.’ In every society, in every culture, it means something different.”
Peri went rigid, straining to hear the Doctor’s whispered words.
“If by love, you mean care, compassion, tenderness, then yes, I do love Peri. I would do anything to make her happy. I would die for her. Again.”
Yeena frowned at him, confusion in her eyes.
The Doctor looked down at Peri and, with a soft smile, left the room, knowing full well that Peri heard every word.
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 email@example.com. Please read our Terms of Service and Submission Guidelines.