The Long Shadow

by vegetables [Reviews - 0]

Printer Chapter or Story
  • All Ages
  • None
  • Action/Adventure, Alternate Universe, Angst, Drama, General, Hurt/Comfort, Introspection, Missing Scene, Mixed, Series

“The idea of it!” Darwin snorted as he picked through the woods behind the Doctor. “A sonic screwdriver is ridiculous enough, but this–”

“My screwdriver is a powerful scientific instrument,” said the Doctor. “This is just the same.”

“A likely story! What did you call it, again?”

She blushed. “A smellin’ spanner.”

“Well,” said Darwin acidly, “That is a very scientific name–”

“–science isn't dull everywhere, y’know. We’re not all Victorians. And I’d like to see you find a better way of finding a baboon! They have a very particular aroma, and if I twist my spanner like this…

A dull ping rose from the Doctor's olfactory tool. She grinned, and adopted a brisker walk.

“But you're looking for a shadow, not a baboon!” said Darwin. “Shadows don't have a smell! I must say, whenever I meet you, I like I’ve lost all my faculties. But this– why, it's worse than that time with the barnacles!”

“Oh, don't say things you don't mean!” snapped the Doctor. “Nothing could be worse than that. These baboons, they're very new to time travel. Don't know how to do it gently. They take a bullet and stick their people in them, then just smash it right through time and space.” She scowled. “Like uncorking champagne with a nuclear bomb.”

“Call me a pedantic old man,” said Darwin, “but I don't see what that has to do with shadows.”

“Oh, neither did they! That was the whole problem. They thought there's nothing much wrong with ripping a hole in space. After all, it’s mostly empty, right?”

Darwin nodded.

“And the world is a few thousand years old, and a person’s too special to’ve evolved. Sometimes the things we know are true are wrong. All that darkness, it's done its share of evolving too. The Vashta Nerada, the Festerflame. Creatures of shadow, that feed on the shadows in us. It's not the Lethe that’ve got her; it's something else– the baboons must’ve… smashed through an ecosystem, like a ship barrelling into a reef. Everything that survived would be stuck to their machine, and most of it should still be around there. It's the source of it all. It's where we’ll most likely find her.”

“That may all be true,” said Darwin. “But a thought occurs to me, as a zoologist. Something else that smells like a baboon is a baboon itself! Like the one in these woods, who is currently trying to killing me.”

“Well,” said the Doctor, “perhaps that's a risk I’m willing to take.”

“Not just me who’s grumpier than normal, I see!” said Darwin. “Anyone would think it was you, being chased by some missionary monkeys.” His voice dropped to a whisper. “I don't suppose it's because of–”

“Don't say that,” said the Doctor. “Just don't. Not right now.”

“But you’ve no idea what I was going to say!”

"Oh, come off it! Anyone would. I already saw it, back there. When you saw me with Chris, you didn't see it as you would've once; the Doctor and her friend. The way it was before, you wouldn't have…”

“...you would never have thought of me as a father,” she said in the end.

“Oh, now,” said Darwin. “I’ve met so many of you over the years! I know it's still you in there, even though there might be less space in that woman’s brain–”

“There isn't,” snapped the Doctor, “and that's not even the point. ‘Cause I know if you’d met me now you wouldn't give me the time of day, that you wouldn't ever think I could be clever. And you're supposed to be an expert, at looking at the world. And if you can't see–”

She sighed.

"Sometimes,” she said, “I wish there'd been someone better.”

“Woman or man,” said Darwin, “you’re always contemptuous of people like me. Evolutionists! Victorians! Humans. We're always not good enough for the standards of– of wherever it is you're from! I set out to do Heaven’s work, you know, back at the start of my life. I never expected I would end up where I did. It’s true what they say, I suppose. God moves in mysterious ways.”

Darwin's brow eased, anger replaced with curiosity.

“That’s a point,” he said. “What did really happen, the day that he was crucified? What's the true story of Jesus Christ?”

“What? Oh, he was the Son of God, and all of it was true. Now, stop asking questions,” frowned the Doctor, “I need to concentrate on this smell.”