Lonely Moments

by fate_incomplete [Reviews - 0]

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  • All Ages
  • None
  • Action/Adventure, Angst, General, Standalone


"It had been cold and wet when she fell into darkness. Alone and surrounded by terrors she couldn't see, but that she could hear. High pitched sounds barely discernable, but that had made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. She could barley breath, she had been so terrified, listening to those whispers that she was sure spoke of her death.

She had reached out into the darkness, had called out for help, but no one was there. She was alone. She had heard the whispers getting closer, so ran. She had run in the darkness, alone and frightened, until she found shelter in the old ruins. They found her there, two days later. She spent two days in the darkness, with nothing but the whispering of those creatures around her. She told me once, that that darkness and loneliness haunted her dreams for the rest of her life...."


.........................


"Run," a voice whispered in the darkness, as fingers closed around her own tightly, tugging her to the left.

She felt something brush against the bare skin of her arm. She cried out and stumbled as claws dug into her skin, drawing blood, but urgent hands steadied her, keeping her on her feet. She curled her fingers tighter around the hand holding her, even though she had no idea whose it was. Running as the whispering in the darkness drew closer.

They ran. She stumbled often, unable to see anything in the dark, but the hand kept hold of her, guiding her, until they were both too out of breath to run any further. Her legs too weary to hold her, she crumbled to her knees, gasping for breath.

She heard a strange noise and saw a faint green glow coming from some instrument, as the man, as she could now see, who had hold of her hand, held it up so he could see her.

"You're younger than I expected," he said looking surprised. He looked out into the darkness, studying the instrument as he did.

She looked in the direction he was scanning with the device. Other then the faint glow it gave off, she couldn't see a thing. She struggled to control her breathing, to pull oxygen into her aching lungs. She could still hear the creatures. They were farther away than before, though they were still far too close.

She dragged her eyes away from the darkness to the look at the strange man beside her. He looked young himself, with floppy dark hair, and a ridiculous bow tie that looked so out of place in their surroundings she almost laughed hysterically.

"Who are you?" she asked, trying to ignore the sounds, and regain her composure.

"They've got six legs, did you see that? Met a woman with six arms once, she was all hands. She wanted to run off with me, her father wouldn't let her though. Something about my lack of appendages offended him. Kind of an arm-ist, you could say. Nice fellow though, apart from the prejudice against the less endowed, well not less endowed, I've always been quite proud of..." He glanced at her, "but that's not really important. So, what's your name?"

"Melanie."

"Right then Melanie, what exactly is a human doing in the middle of an alien insect infested cave?"

"I'm part of a mining expedition," Melanie answered. "We were setting up equipment and there was a cave in. The floor gave way, and I fell down here." She looked back out into the darkness. "What are those creatures?"

"Don't know, but I don't think they are friendly."

"Who are you?" Melanie asked again. "And what are you doing in an alien insect infested cave?"

"Ah, it's a long story, kind of boring. But whatever those things are, Cricketoids? No that's a rubbish name, forget that. We can name them later. They are coming this way, right now, I think we had better run."

He grabbed her by the hand again, pulling her to her feet.

"You still haven't told me your name."

"I'm The Doctor," he replied as they ran again.

Melanie could hear the creatures getting closer. She ran. Melanie held onto the Doctor's hand tightly, too frightened of being left alone in the dark to ask any more questions.

They ran. She had no idea for how long. Her muscles burned, and her lungs felt like they were on fire, but she kept going, guided by his hand and the faint green glow as he used his device as a torch. They scrambled over debris on the cave floor from old cave-ins, at least she hoped they were old.

Just as she thought she could run no more, he stopped.

"This is it," he said.

"This is what?"

"The ancient ruins where they...never mind, it's not important."

He let go of her hand, scanning the walls of some ancient underground structure she never knew existed.

"What is this place?"

"I don't know, but it's old, very old."

They walked further into the structure; Melanie was just able to make out ancient walls and doors. The Doctor ran his hands along the walls behind one of the doors, looking for something.

"If I can just find a control panel, I might be able to get these doors closed, find somewhere safe from those creatures. Maybe even the light switch. That'd be nice."

Melanie could hear the device again as he found what he was looking for. She startled as lights flicked and the door behind them groaned as it slowly shut. Melanie looked around. They were in a small room coated in layers of dust and cobwebs. She could hear loud creaks and groans, and hoped the sudden return of power wouldn't cause the whole structure to become unstable. She'd had enough cave-ins for one day.

Melanie got her first real look at the man, the Doctor. He wore a long coat, suspenders, and that ridiculous tie she could see better now. He was smeared with dust, and covered in cobwebs. She realised she probably looked no better, as she pulled webs from her hair.

Her breathing steadied as she regained her composure. It felt like an eternity since she had fallen through the floor of the mining complex into the tunnels beneath, though it had probably only been an hour or two. The Doctor looked remarkably calm as he scanned the room. Melanie felt like every muscle in her body wouldn't stop shaking. She was covered in dozens of cuts and abrasions from her fall.

"Not exactly luxurious, but then again, can't really be choosy when you're running about dark caves, or catacombs, or catacombs that are dark. Still, it's got lights. So Melanie, as far as rescue plans go, got to say, this hasn't exactly been my best. But, it's probably not my worst either, as backups on the way, well not my backup, your back up. Rescue party from that mine you were working in should be on their way, any minute now...or days."

"Days?"

"What? No I'm sure they will find us soon," the Doctor replied, before looking away to absently scan the room again.

Melanie paced around the room in an effort to relieve her anxiety. Not that there was much room to move, especially not with the Doctor bustling around as he scanned everything. Despite the calmness she had noticed, he was constantly fidgeting, and scanning with his device. He noticed her watching him.

"It's a sonic screwdriver," he said, answering her unspoken question.

"A screwdriver?"

The Doctor clutched the sonic possessively. "Yes, it's a screw driver. Why does everyone always say it like that?"

Melanie shrugged, smiling despite herself. "So, what is a doctor, with a screw driver, doing down here?"

"Oh, nothing much. Just sort of ended up here."

"Okay."

"I travel, a lot. All kinds of places. I thought it was just, sort of the time to go exploring caverns, caverns with monsters. Exciting places, monstrous cavern, there are all sorts of interesting things to find."

Melanie smiled again, thinking to herself that falling into a monster infested cave was probably not the weirdest thing that had happened to her today. This strange man was definitely weirder.

Melanie studied the room they were in. The only entrance was the door the Doctor had just shut. It was cluttered with fallen rocks and twisted rusted metal that may have once been consoles. It looked reasonable secure. She watched as the Doctor scanned everything, she doubted anything in the room would be helpful, but they had lights at least

She felt for the tiny lump on the inside of her wrist. A tracking device implanted by the company in case of emergencies, the feel of it beneath her skin providing some comfort. If nothing else they had somewhere safe from the creatures. She could only hope that the rescue team on the way would be able to track the signal here. All they had to do was remain out of reach of the creatures until then.

She held her wrist up to show him the device. He scanned it.

"Well that should make things easier," he said brightly.

The Doctor looked over her cuts and bruises. Surprisingly none of them were serious.

Melanie looked towards the closed door. She had heard a sound. She stiffened as she heard it again. The creatures, whatever they were, appeared to have found the entrance to the ruins. She could hear more noises now. As the noises grew slowly louder she imagined the creatures moving through the corridors they had just ran through. Before she could think about the fact that they were trapped, she turned back to the Doctor.

"So, what sort of places have you been to?"

The Doctor, who had turned to stare at the door, glanced over at her. He shrugged. "Oh, I've been places you couldn't imagine."

Melanie glanced back to the door as she heard a crash outside, definitely closer now. "Care to elaborate. I could use the distraction," she said, waving at the door to indicate the creatures that were getting closer.

The Doctor looked thoughtful for a moment. "Well, I've been to a moon where the inhabitants found clothing offensive. They had a law against them and everything. I tried to convince them that bow ties were cool and not offensive at all. I eventually won them over. Well, on the bow tie at least. I thought I had them on suspenders for a while...anyway, that's not an overly interesting story. It was chilly, I only stayed two days."

The Doctor started to pace around the room again. Melanie slid down to sit on the dusty floor. Leaning back against the wall, she watched him, trying to focus on his words to block out the noises outside.

"Where was I, ah, chilly, been to plenty of ice planets, and planets with no ice. I brought ice cream to this desert world once, because everyone should have ice cream at least once, well, way more than once, but it melted, nearly caused a riot. Probably not one of my better ideas," he mused.

The Doctor smiled at her. She wasn't sure whether to believe a word he was saying, but was thankful for his chatter.

"I grew up in a settlement not far from the mine above us," Melanie said, pointing to the roof above them. "Never seen anything more interesting than the salt plains surrounding it when the second sun rises after winter. The salt crystals give off this glow, it's kind of lovely. I've heard stories of other planets, never had a chance to see them though."

"Well, they all have their high points, and lows. Never underestimate the charm of a salt lake at sunrise after winter."

"You travel alone?" Melanie asked.

"Yes. Well, no. Not always. Have been alone for a while now though."

He looked sad, and suddenly far older, as he fidgeted with the sonic again. Melanie was distracted as the noises from the creatures grew louder before she could wonder about that sadness though. She could hear them right outside the door now. Scratching sounds that made the hairs on her neck stand up again.

The Doctor came over and sat on the floor next to her. "That door is strong, we'll be safe here."

"For how long though?" Melanie asked quietly as the scratching grew more frantic. They had no other way out of the room.

"You know, I saw this salt lake once that stretched on for miles, covered half a continent. I met a man who had built a sort of sail boat, well it wasn't really a boat, more of an oversized sheet stretched between two poles and attached to a set of wheels, but he wanted to cross the salt plains with it. Just because he could. Everyone thought he was mad, but he didn't care. He said the best part of life was hidden in the stupid ideas you get while trying to fall asleep... I'm sure there was a point to that story, not sure what it was though."

The Doctor looked across at her, that sadness hiding at the edges of his eyes again. "So, anyone waiting for you up there?" He asked.

"A sister, younger sister. Only family I have left. "

"Anyone else special?"

Melanie looked away, feeling like an idiot for blushing when there were creatures scratching at the door waiting to kill them.

"Ah, so there is someone else," the Doctor said teasingly.

"Well, sort of, not really."

"The sort of, not really kind, always the best kind of someone to have waiting for you. All those possibilities and the excitement of finding out what they are."

Melanie sat thinking for a moment, while the Doctor settled more comfortable against the wall.

"His name is Frederick," she said after a few minutes. "We've known each other for years, he's my best friend. I've been trying for so long to find the nerve to see if he could be something more."

"Well than Melanie, what do you say, when we get out of here, the first thing you do is tell him exactly how you feel, start discovering all those possibilities."

She smiled shyly, wondering where Frederick was right now, though she had no doubt he would be on the search party. He wouldn't care if the others said there was no hope she had survived the fall. He was always the hopeless optimist.

"Nothing like a pack of marauding insects to inspire declarations of love. Happens all the time," the Doctor said with a smile.

Melanie smiled back. "You said you sometimes travel with others. So, is anyone waiting for you out there somewhere?"

She looked up at him when he didn't answer. He looked lost in thought, his eyes so age weary she wondered how she had thought he looked young earlier. She wanted to know the story behind those eyes, that sadness that cloaked him, but couldn't bring herself to pry. The Doctor looked like he had lost something, maybe more than she could imagine.

"Tell me about your adventures," she asked instead. "Looks like we aren't going anywhere for awhile, so tell me another story. Indulge me, or I'll have to resort to reciting company policy or drill procedures." She shrugged. "My life isn't that interesting, trust me, the time will go quicker if you talk about your adventures. You can make them up if it'll be more fun."

She thought he was going to remain silent when he sighed and pocketed the sonic.

"Funny old thing time. I've seen so much, all out of order. Some of it never happened."

He paused, staring out across the room, though she thought he was seeing more than just the walls around them.

"I met a woman in a library once. It was the first time I met her, and the last time she saw me. We never met in the right order. Lasts and firsts all mixed up. I knew how her story ended before I even knew how it started. She was all hair and guns and flirting."

Melanie rested her head back against the wall, listening to him talk.

"I remember drifting in a Gondola in Venice with her in the 1800's. One of the few quiet memories I have of her. She drank wine while we compared diaries, and remembered old friends. The next time I saw her she was she was running from a squad of Sontaran, much more her style. She's gone now, sacrificed herself for me, even though I had no idea who she was. So long ago, yet not at the same time."

She glanced across at him. The Doctor rested his head back against the wall, mirroring her own position. He was silent for a moment, before shaking his head slightly, as if to dislodge his sorrow.

"I don't even know how many more times her younger self will meet me out there somewhere, or when it will be the last time."

He made no sort of sense at all, but Melanie couldn't help but be captivated, and to feel the sadness that almost dripped off him.

"That story was always over before it started," the Doctor finished quietly.

He looked off across the room for a long time. Melanie wasn't sure what to say, so said nothing.

"How do you tell your best friends, that their daughter died to save you?" The Doctor said several minutes later. "How do you tell them that, when you've known it longer than you've known them?"

It didn't seem like he was looking for an answer, just putting his thoughts out there to hang in the air between them. She got the impression it was probably something he had never said aloud before.

"When I found out she was their daughter... River was right, it did change everything. How could I even look at Amy, knowing what I knew, knowing how it would end?"

The Doctor's expression had been one of fondness as he spoke of River. Now it changed to something else, something Melanie couldn't quite put her finger on. Whatever it was it made her curious.

"Anyway, you wanted a story...let's see, the Ood, always love me an Ood, or maybe something about the Dourites, they have a distinct lack of humour though, so that's probably a dull story."

"What happened to Amy?" Melanie interrupted, before he could go off on a tangent.

The Doctor looked at her, startled out of his own thoughts.

"I took her home. Let her have the life she should have always had, that she could only have without me."

"Was it what she wanted?"

"It was better than the alternative."

Melanie wanted to ask more, but his expression stopped her. There was too much pain hiding behind those eyes, and more than a little of it seemed wrapped up in whoever Amy was. Satisfying her curiosity was a poor reason to bring it into the open.

"Who are the Dourites," she asked instead. "They can't be that dull."

The Doctor chuckled quietly "I only met them once, never went back. I was refuelling the TARDIS on an energy rift on their planet. They gave me a parking ticket."

He started rattling off another tale involving an unfortunate incident of mistaken identity, shrugging off his sadness as he threw his hands around animatedly as he spoke. She couldn't help but smile at his childlike wonder that covered whatever torment lay beneath the surface. It somehow made her sadder though.

Melanie finally fell asleep after the Doctor had talked for hours about his travels. Dozing fitfully, she woke now and then, each time to see the Doctor gazing sadly at his sonic as his twisted it in his hands, lost in memories she would never know. He seemed so alone, even with her there. She thought he would look alone even in a crowd. She couldn't help but wonder how much he must have lost, this strange unknowable man, to look so haunted.

.........................


Melanie woke to the Doctor gently shaking her. She shook her head, trying to dislodge her sleepiness. She was starving. They had been alone in the ruins for the better part of two days, with nothing more than the canteen of water she had been carrying. She could hear noises outside. It took her a second to recognise it as something other than the scratching of the creatures from earlier.

She could hear voices.

"Rescue is here," the Doctor said with a brilliant smile. "Told you they were coming for you."

The Doctor scrambled to his feet, using his sonic to reopen the door. The first person Melanie saw was Frederick. She rushed into his arms, hugging him tightly as she laughed in relief.

In a rush of commands and movement as the rescuers secured the area, she lost track of the Doctor. The rescue party had apparently frightened off the creatures, but couldn't be sure when they would be back. She was quickly hustled out of the ruins, the others sparing a few glances towards the stranger with her, though there was little time for questions.

As they secured the ropes to begin the ascent back to the mine, she found the Doctor, hanging back from the group.

"Why were you here in the first place?" She asked, as he had never answered her question when they first met.

"Because there are too many lonely moments in this universe," he said cryptically.

She didn't know if he was talking about her loneliness in the ruins waiting to be rescued, or his own.

Melanie was distracted by Frederick as he came over, taking hold of her hand as he led her over the ropes that were now ready. When she looked back, the Doctor was gone.

She never saw him again.

.........................


"It had been cold and wet when the Doctor found her. Surrounded by darkness full of terrors that she hadn't been able to see, but that she could hear, whispering in the blackness. High pitched sounds barely discernable, but that had made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. She had found herself barely able to breath, certain that those whispers spoke of her death.

She had reached a hand out into the darkness, searching for something to hold onto, so that she didn't have to be alone when she met her fate. Instead her fingers had found a hand, reaching out through the darkness for her, offering hope.

She always wondered if the Doctor ever found River again, if he returned home to the Amy he spoke of. She wondered if he ever let go of his loneliness. She never found out, though she always hoped so. She asked me if I ever met him, to tell him the' thank you' she never got the chance to say herself..."

The young woman paused, looking up at the stranger. "Why did you want to know about my mother? Do you know the Doctor?" She asked hopefully.

"Yes, I do."

"Could you tell him for me? Tell him she never forgot what he did for her," she asked excitedly.

"I promise," he said, smiling sadly.

The stranger turned to walk away. He paused and turned back.

"Her name is Amelia Pond," he said quietly, looking out into the crowded market. "Amy that is," he clarified, looking back to her. "And he never truly left her behind...He never could."

He walked away, disappearing into the crowd.

"Doctor?" The woman called after him, but he was gone.