Soul's Shadow

by TardisGhost [Reviews - 45]

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  • Teen
  • None
  • Action/Adventure, Character Study

Had my heart ever been racing that fast? Had a fear like this ever gripped my whole consciousness? When the Doctor moved the TARDIS, he seemed to do it in slow motion, the landing sounds dragged on for far longer than they should.

He had put the med bay in a temporary temporal stasis. That was what he had called it. All I understood was that it bought us time. How much, however, was a question that vanished in an uncomfortable silence.

"Alright, listen," the Doctor spoke up as I was already about to storm out the doors. "The mushroom looks like a collection of blue and purple cubes that are stacked into each other. Pretty to look at, don't want to breath in the spores, though. Plug them, return. No detours."

I simply nodded and grabbed one of the cloth bags he held out to me, too numb and still too exhausted to give much of an answer. My own state wasn't important right now. One way or another I had to stay focused and awake for a while longer.

Outside, we were greeted by a forest in mid fall. Leaves were sailing down to a colourful covered ground, bare branches stuck out from the ones that still wore their dying dress. Some animals hopped away that clearly were no rabbits, but had a similar size. And a lake spread across a clearing, in the bluest water I had ever laid eyes on, shimmering almost ethereal in the light of the sinking sun and reflecting thousands of tiny glowing light specs that hovered and flew above the water's surface.

At any other time I would have spent hours wandering this place, taking in the atmosphere, gaping at the lake and the dancing fireflies, wondering if they might be elves. But now…  now I paid almost no attention to them, my eyes glued to the ground to make out what the Doctor had described, while he himself did the same bit farther away.

Lost in dark thoughts and eyes searching, I stumbled and fell. My small shoulder bag got caught on a branch, ripped open and with a cold shock I saw the dragon egg drop to the ground and rolled away some meters. The leaves caught the tumble, luckily, but the thought of how badly this could have ended made me curse nastily. Were I not so tired this wouldn't have happened.

I pinched my eyes and rubbed two fingers over the lids, realizing that the fog in my head actually faded somewhat. Within seconds I felt a lot clearer than I had in days.

Confused I let my hand sink and, for the first time, took in my surroundings properly, the saturated autumn colours, the rich smell of damp leaves and nuts and mushrooms, the orchestra of wind and birds and rustling and the slow noises of the lake.

Peace.

The whole place emitted a calmness that was all engulfing, that made me just stop and take in some deep breaths of cool, but not cold air. Slowly I moved to the egg, saw with wide eyes it had landed right next to a bunch of cubic mushrooms that looked exactly as the Doctor had described them. Those I took first, then I bent down to lastly pick up the egg again.

And instantly the tiredness washed back over me, swallowed my thoughts and slowed my movements. I almost sunk together here and then, the urge to just sleep, overwhelming.

But I didn't give in, dragged myself back the way I had come until I saw the TARDIS again and almost bumped into the Doctor, who looked worried.

"I couldn't find any. Have you…?"

"Mhmm, one," I brought out and almost collapsed into his arms.

The Doctor caught me and gave me a concerned look. "You're like that since days. When we're done with the Master I'll take care of you."

I nodded and followed back inside, slightly dazed, unable to feel… anything at all, honestly. The Doctor entered a room I had never seen before, a kind of laboratory in mostly white and with lots of devices that were completely foreign to me. I handed him the mushroom and watched as he crushed it to mush in one device, then added a few substances and finally put everything through a device that clearly was a kind of distillery.

The process gave me time to think, or at least try to bring my thoughts into something vaguely resembling order. Outside, I had felt clear for a moment. After the egg had rolled away. And as soon as I had picked it back up… My hands clutched the cloth bag in which the small, growing creature still sat. Was it draining me somehow? And if so, why hadn’t I felt it right from the start?

"Alriiiight… That should be it! Come."

Together we rushed back to the med bay, where the Doctor did something with his sonic - probably removing the time freeze - before we entered. And indeed, it seemed as if no time had passed. The Master was still in the same state as before, shaking, sweating, now mumbling some incoherent things I could not understand.

The Doctorbent over the med bed and laid a hand on the Master's forehead, checked his pulse and then sat halfway on the bed, bending over. Carefully he took the other one's head between his palms, thumbs resting on the cheeks. He leaned down, let their foreheads touch and mumbled some words that were too quiet for me to make out. Whatever he had said or done, the Master calmed a little, even opened his eyes.

"It's alright, Master," the Doctor said with a sad smile. "We'll help you."

"We?" He blinked, turned his head and spotted me in the back. His eyes widened slightly, but no other words were spoken.

"I have prepared a detox," told the Doctor and held up a needle. "It's modified so you won't feel much of it. Will knock you out for a bit. And then..." He swallowed. "Let's just hope it gives me enough time to fix you."

There was no answer and no reaction when the needle sank into skin and muscles, but half a minute later, the Master stopped shaking and his breath became more even. I knew he was by far not out of danger, but I still felt a small wave of relief.

"It's honestly a bruteforce method," the Doctor quietly confessed. "Destroys most toxins in one's blood on a molecular level… but, like with antibiotics, it also destroys a lot of the good things."

"It will help him, though, won't it?" Helplessly I glared at the unconscious Time Lord, my chest tight and almost aching. I couldn't leave, even though I knew the Master would sleep for some time. So I dragged over a nearby chair and sat in front of the bed.

"Probably. If the damage that's already done isn't too big. And, luckily, you've been quick to bring him here. We still don't know how long he was under the influence before you even found him, though."

I dropped forward, my elbows on the mattress, my head resting in my hands, fingers digging into my hair. Is this my fault?

The Doctor's steps retreated, but then stopped, paused.

"Lucy?" His voice was quiet, sounded uncertain.

I looked up.

"What did he promise you?" The question was asked softly, no threat, no judgement.

I had no clue what he meant. "Promised?" I asked dumbly.

The Doctor sighed. "You're barely functioning yourself and yet you invest so much concern into a man who… well… I don't see why you would try so hard to keep him alive."

Perplexed and confused my mouth dropped open. Was I too tired to understand or had I understood exactly right? Why did he even ask such a question? Why… I looked back at the Master and swallowed. He had caused a great deal of harm to my own life already. His death would most certainly prevent a lot of chaos and bloodshed from happening in the future. And the Doctor would no longer have to keep an eye on a prisoner like him.

And still…

I huffed. "You're doing the same."

The Doctor's eyes dropped to the floor. "That's different."

"How's that different?" I grumbled.

He sighed and reached for the door knob. "We are bound by a… friendship, let's call it that, that's older than most of your civilisations, Lucy."

"Friendship… Still you gave up on him."

He swallowed. "I tried not to. I really did. He doesn't allow me to help. But he's still my responsibility. I can't let him die."

I looked down and took a deep breath, murmuring, "Then he's my responsibility, too. He hasn't promised me anything, Doctor."

"What… what do you mean?" He released the door and stepped back to me.

I couldn't look at him, only folded my hands in my lap and fiddled with my thumbs. Tears were prickling in the corners of my eyes.

"It's my fault," I choked out. "I made him do this."

"Whoa! Slow down," the other Time Lord exclaimed. "I really don't think you've-"

"Because I heard them."

"Huh?"

"I heard his drums, Doctor." Now I had to look, needed to see the shocked expression on his face.

It was there and it was a lot more frightened than shocked. His mouth hung open and time seemed to freeze, only to resume with his face melting back into a somewhat orderly state.

"That's not possible," he almost whispered. "How could…" His eyes widened and he stepped over to grab my shoulder. "How?"

"He uh… kind of overdid it with the mind sharing, I guess?" A little uncertain, I rubbed my neck and glanced at the Doctor.

His face wore an expression of almost terror, his voice a little shrieky when he asked, "He did what?"

"Uh… telepathy?"

That wasn't the answer he had wanted to hear. Of course it wasn't.

"It… it was sort of an accident. Not like the last time…"

"What?!" the Doctor let out, terrified.

"Last time… it was because of the devil. He got it out of my head. And then a few times…" His disturbed reaction confused me. "Is there something wrong with it?"

With a deep breath he let go of my shoulder and ran a hand over his face. "There is so much wrong with it I don't even know where to start." The Doctor glared upwards, fists stemmed into his sites.

"Why?" I finally wanted to know. "It never hurt or anything."

"But that's not the point!" His eyes darted towards the Master, then back to me. "I highly doubt he asked for any kind of… consent."

Well… not at all, actually. And judging by the Doctor's look, he already guessed that. Sure, just entering someone's very mind without asking was rude, but it still didn't hurt, mostly. If he didn't do something stupid, that is. And to be fair, I liked it. A lot. So…

"You make it sound as if he did something bad to me." It was more of a question than a statement.

The Doctor sighed and stroked through his hair. "It's… complicated. I'm not sure I'm the one who should…" Somehow the whole topic seemed to make him extremely uncomfortable. "Besides… you can project a lot of things. Just because you heard something, doesn't mean it was… well… real."

My mouth dropped open to Form a toneless 'o'. That thought had never occurred to me.

"But he tried it before and I couldn't hear a thing," I meekly protested.

"Adaption, Lucy." Again the Doctor sighed. "A human mind works differently. Just because it didn't work the first-"

"But…"

"No. It's merely an echo of his perception. Don't be fooled."

"But Doctor…"

"And not a real thing. Can't be. I told you already. You can't differentiate. Not even as a Time Lord."

At that I stayed silent, only my thoughts kept running.

But he didn't even try to show me the drums. But why would he go crazy like that when he had simply projected the sound? But… but what if the Doctor is right and the Master did it subconsciously? What if I didn't hear them and now the Master is in danger… because I didn't think, because I only thought about the mess in my own head.

Tears pricked in the corners of my eyes. "Then this all is even more my fault."

I lowered my head to hide the tears. A warm hand landed gently on my shoulder, but I couldn't move.

"You're not responsible for other people's actions, Lucy," spoke the Doctor softly. "I'll save him. Don't you worry."

I nodded and swallowed the tears while the sound of a door closing echoed through the room. This was a mess, all of it and none of the Doctor's words could reassure me much.

My eyes landed on the Master again. It looked as if he was sleeping peacefully, but I knew his body was fighting, knew he might lose the battle, in the end. The thought hurt, even though it shouldn't.

"I wish I could help somehow," I muttered, feeling the familiar tiredness washing over me again.

My eyes closed, my head lowered. It was so hard to stay awake. But it felt as if I had a duty to do so, to take care, to be present. In case he would wake up, in case his state worsened. If only the fog in my head wouldn't be so thick, if only… there it was again. So faint, so far away.

The beating of four. An echo of an echo from somewhere in my head. Not real and still true. I reached a hand out and laid it on the Master's chest, feeling the beat under my fingers. But my fingers couldn't hear and so I plugged my glasses down and put an ear to his chest. Any other time I would have never dared to do that, but in this moment it was like instinct. I needed to listen, wanted to. It was proof. Proof that he was still alive. It was a distraction. Distraction from my own mind.

Du - du - du - du

Du - du - du - du

Steady and regular and soothing, cutting through the tiredness.

Du - du - du - du

Four beats, ever repeating. So different from my own. And yet… no... no, it wasn't a set of four. I strained my ears to listen more closely.

One - two - three - four.

Pause.

One - two - three - four.

But no. It was wrong. It wasn't… I knew that sound. Somewhere deep within me I knew it so well, had heard it so often, had it pounding in my head so many times.

Slowly, beat by beat I heard it. Not a set of four. There were two. Then another two. Then another two, sounding like four, over and over and over.

Du - du … du - du

Du - du … du - du

Four, but actually two. Yes. Like that it was correct. Like that it made sense.

Du - du … du - du

And the steady patter of drops against cold glass.

A heartbeat? Why would it be a heartbeat?

Rat-tat … rat-tat

Rat-tat … rat-tat

And raindrops on my window.

No wonder I was so tired.

Rat-tat … rat-tat

The drive had been long. And it was late into the evening already.

Did the rain get stronger? It probably was what woke me just now.

My eyes blinked open and I let out a yawn as I glanced out of the water smeared window.

Rat-tat … rat-tat

Rat-tat … rat-tat

Metal train wheels on steel tracks, winding through the landscape, bringing me closer and closer to my destiny. Back home… after I had spent a nice weekend with friends. I smiled at the memory, tugging my face mask back into place. Nasty things.

Had I dreamed? It felt like it.

Yawning I got out my phone and checked the clock. I'd be stuck in the train for roughly another hour. Maybe I could nap a little more, slip back to whatever adventure my mind had created.

The images were already fading. Something about a dragon egg, that I could remember. And there had been someone else. A man? I had travelled, like I did now, but… no, I couldn't remember. Weird. And there it felt as if I had forgotten something, something oh so very important.

But that's the thing with dreams, isn't it? I thought to myself as I put my head back against the cool window. They just come and go. Whole stores, entire lives. And when you wake up, only an hour has passed.

I sighed, shifting into a more comfortable position, listening to the clattering rhythm of the wheels and the soft pitter patter of rain, that both fought for dominance in my perception. Somehow I wished I had something to write on with me.

This certainly was a great atmosphere for writing a story.

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A/N: Uhm... what? O_O