by EllyF [Reviews - 22]

Printer Chapter or Story
  • Teen
  • Swearing
  • Angst, Drama, General, Hurt/Comfort, Standalone

Author's Notes:
Busy day, so a short chapter. Still lots of angst. Warnings for torture, despair, and a Doctor who continues to be extremely unhappy. Also, my estimate of two chapters grows less accurate all the time.

Sparks flared in his mind, burning brightly. The pain was excruciating, like fire searing the flesh away from his bones. He struggled to focus on a single thought, the standard method for repelling telepathic invasion he’d been taught long ago on Gallifrey. But he couldn’t seem to focus. Every time he succeeded in focussing on something, even for a microsecond, the thought twisted and turned in a terrible way, and began to burn him somehow. Even his most precious memories turned to flame, scorching him until he shrieked with the pain.

He wanted to run, but he’d long since given up trying to run. Nowhere to run to. The phrase echoed in his mind, and he had the vague impression that someone else, somewhere else, was in danger too, but he couldn’t remember who. He couldn’t remember anything. His thoughts were all turning to liquid, like molten gold, glowing brightly, blistering anything they touched.

He was drowning in his own thoughts, being burned alive, and there was nowhere to go, no way to escape the pain. All he could do was scream for mercy. He couldn’t even remember any words he could plead with, so he just screamed, in long, wordless howls of anguish.

And somewhere in the molten lake of thought, Something laughed.


“Let me go,” the Stranger said again.

His lanky form was still sprawled on the carpet, tied at ankles and wrists. So helpless, and yet so dangerous. He looked just like the Doctor, Donna thought, unless you looked into his eyes and saw the madness and the fierce hatred swirling there.

She swallowed, remembering her promise to the Doctor: I won’t let him go. I won’t. I swear. But she also remembered the words that had been dragged out of him, apparently against his will: Hurts so much… oh please make it stop… help me, Donna…

She knew that those words would never have left his mouth unless he was in the most excruciating agony imaginable. The Doctor could cope with a lot of pain. For him to plead for help that way… well, what he was going through must be dreadful beyond comprehension.

She couldn’t let him suffer that way. No matter what she’d promised, she just couldn’t.

She knew that by letting the Stranger go, she would very probably be letting herself in for something equally dreadful, but remembering the way the Doctor had sobbed, she couldn't bring herself to care that much about her own fate.

Even if it meant the end of the universe, she couldn’t abandon the Doctor to such horrible pain.

She felt something hum in agreement in her mind, and knew that the TARDIS approved of her decision. That reassured her slightly. Maybe, just maybe, if the TARDIS would help her…

“Fine, I'll let you go,” she said through her teeth, glaring at the Stranger. She began to rise to her feet. “But I can’t untie the knots, so let me go get–"

“Sit down.”

His voice was very cold and very deadly. She sat.

“You’re not leaving this room,” he said, his voice more menacing than the Doctor’s had ever been.

“I only wanted to get some scissors from the galley to–"

“No,” he said, very softly. “You’re coming up with some clever plan right now, aren’t you? Probably thinking of going to the med bay to get a sedative to knock me out again, at a guess.”

That was exactly the clever plan she’d had in mind, but she tried not to let her surprise show on her face. He was in the Doctor’s brain, after all. Of course he knew her as well as the Doctor did.

“No, Donna Noble,” he went on. “I don’t care to be sedated. In fact, I don’t believe I can trust you out of my sight, not even for an instant. So let me make one thing perfectly clear. If you leave this study, even for a second, before you’ve managed to untie me, I will hurt your Time Lord so terribly that everything I've done to him till now will seem like nothing. Believe me, I can.”

She believed him. She swallowed, and nodded. Her eyes flickered around the study, looking for something else to hit him with– but no, she didn't dare do that again. She couldn't take the risk of seriously injuring the Doctor's body. Two blows to the head might be more than even his superior physiology could cope with.

“Untie the ropes,” he said.

She crossed her arms. “As soon as you stop hurting the Doctor.”

He chuckled softly, an unpleasant sound that made gooseflesh rise on her arms. “Such charming devotion. Very well, Donna Noble. I’m done with him… for now.”

“Let me talk to him.”

“So many demands. Has it occurred to you that you're not in a position to make demands, Ms. Noble? At any rate, your precious Time Lord is in no condition to talk right now, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.” He flashed a bright, horrible smile and mimicked the Doctor's phrasing. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."

She wanted to slap that awful smile off his face, but reminded herself that it was actually the Doctor's face. Anyway, she couldn't afford to anger the Stranger any more than she already had. If she slapped him, the Doctor might suffer for it.

“Why should I take your word for it?” she asked instead.

“Because if you don’t,” he said, with the air of explaining something absurdly simple to a six-year-old, “I’ll just have to start hurting him again.”

She stared down at him, uncertain what to do, then focussed, listening to the humming in the back of her mind. The TARDIS still sounded worried, but not quite as anxious as before.

The Stranger was telling the truth. The Doctor was no longer being tortured.

“If you don’t hurry,” he said, “I may just change my mind.”

She reached over, and began untying him.


The pain slowly ebbed away, and he sobbed in desperate relief and sank down into a dark, shadowy place in his mind, still trying to hide from It, like a small child hiding from the inexplicable fury of an abusive parent. He understood now that there was no way to fight It, no way to defend himself, and no way to hide from Its wrath. But he was so terrified that cowering in the shadows seemed his only option.

He’d been so determined to fight when It first took over his mind. He’d been so proud, so arrogant, so confident of his own Time Lord abilities. But now he realised he’d been foolish to think he could ever defeat It. It was so much more powerful than he was. He was nothing at all by comparison.

Now his only hope was that It would leave him alone.

He curled up, making himself as small as possible, and sobbed quietly in the darkness.