80's BBC ends the episode on the Doctor saying it shouldn't have been like this with that face and then never elaborate? And when does he retrieve his proper outfit?
Long live Teaspoon, beloved of my youth.
He doesn’t want to see his companions, doesn’t want to materialise the TARDIS, to have to deal with anything but floating quietly in the vortex, all the unnecessary human, Sea Devil and Silurian deaths still too raw. No one was in the right in that situation, himself least of all, sticking his nose in now, and in his previous incarnations, but there’s no one else left alive to put the blame on but himself. And there are a thousand platitudes he can spout off to Tegan and Turlough, but he’s just tired, eyes closed and forehead pressed against a softly humming roundel to try and draw strength from his oldest companion, something towards the insurmountable task that is to put one foot in front of the other until he’s back in his room and can strip off the borrowed plasticky jumpsuit of the sea bases guards.
One foot in front of the other, and once he’s started, it’s not too hard, the foreign feeling of someone else’s clothing, someone else’s skin, is suddenly an abhorrence and between them that thought (dead man’s clothes, dead man walking) and the momentum of having begun almost propels him past the closed door, but underneath the muttered incoherences from behind it there is genuine pain, and never let it be said that his hearts don’t bleed, blood and compassion enough to swamp sea bases and civilisations. Or even for just one companion, one who had witnessed the lives and deaths alongside him, scooped up the pile of his abandoned clothing, and who had wormed a silent and comforting hand briefly into his without breaking Turlough’s stride of protestations high and low against the primitive architecture and their uncomfortable vent systems and ineffective guns. The fabric creaks as he lifts his hand to tap on the door, his fingers resting against the door between each knock for longer than they need for anything but to draw armour from his ship for the potential skirmish that lies ahead, and even then they’re still sluggish to trail down to the controls when the quiet swearing stops and the rustle of fabric and a sharp click serves as an answer to the room’s occupancy. The door hums open into dimness, but the lump under the blanket was illuminated from the corridor, and the Doctor could see it shuddering still, smell arnica sharp in the air.
“I’d offer a cup of tea and a chat, but-” and he grimaces at the falsity of the forced levity, relieved to have it cut of by Tegan’s terse “I’m asleep.”
“Quite.” he stepped back, hand on the jamb to stop the sensor closing the door on him. “Sweet dreams, Tegan.”
“Doc,” a thin arm shot out from the blanket pile, and with a sharp click the pool of light revealed Tegan, sitting up in bed, blanket tucked up over one shoulder but still showing the brightly coloured dress she had been wearing earlier, a wicker chair that had been pulled up to be a night-stand casting a looming shadow over the wall to her left. “wait?”
He doesn’t know whether she has something to say and is just trying to work it out, or whether she just wants the comfort of companionship, but it’s fragile and he feels out of place at the door, still out of place in his own skin. The only seat left in the room is Nyssa’s bed, blankets pulled tight from the last time she had made it and it feels slightly blasphemous to break its sanctity, but if he has to stand until Tegan works out what she wants, whole other civilisations will have fallen around them and he’s tired. His perch on Nyssa’s bed lets him see into the seat of the wicker chair, a glint of jars and a cloth in a bowl before she gingerly turns to face him, the blanket slipping down to pool at her waist and he frowns. “Did you get hurt?”
She huffs a laugh. “Having a half-tonne door land on your legs will do that to ya’, Doc.” Tegan gestures towards a shelf near the door, visible only as bright blurs of colour, “Just glad I didn’t slip in those heels and break an ankle too.” Neither of them mentions that they both would have died to the Myrka had she not gotten free, so he smiles at her reassuringly.
“Turlough would’ve given you a piggy-back, I’m sure,” and her nose crinkles, and the hollowness in his smile seeps away a bit at the sharpness in her “Not-bloody-likely!”
But across from him, Tegan’s feigned disgust sobers and her face falls. “I just want to say-” and she’s looking away from him again, uncomfortable in sincerity. “thanks. And I’m sorry-”
He’s filled with a sudden anger, exhaustion pulling away at his common sense and Tegan’s not the person who deserves it, he knows, but “It’s not your fault, and there’s nothing to thank me for” he bites out, sees her flinch back out of the corner of his eye.
“I’m trying to say I know you didn’t want them to die!” Tegan sounds every bit as angry as he feels now, “And I’m sorry that they did, even if they did kill the humans. It’s not fair what we had to do. I don’t like it either.” Something hits his bowed head with a soft flump, and he looks up, affronted, from the pillow that lands at his still booted feet.
“You don’t have to be such an English ponce about accepting an apology.”
“I’m not English, Tegan.”
“Well neither am I, so don’t be so bloody stupid!”
Argument defused, they smile tiredly at each other for a long moment before Tegan turns away from him to clink away with her wicker chair of supplies, quietly hissing a ‘strewth’ as she twists back to face him, the weight of her own torso causing the arm she had automatically put out to brace herself to buckle, small protesting twitches from the muscles underneath a blurred ring of bruises around the upper arm, shiny with some kind of ointment.
“Here,” She holds out her good arm, fumbling a damp cloth and a small jar to drop it into his outstretched hands. “I don’t know if it’ll work on you, but you’ve got a bit of-” she trails off to wave her hand in the general vicinity of her eyes. “it’s the same as we used back home on bruises. Don’t want to put anyone off their brekkie tomorrow with that face.”
“Thank you, Tegan.” It’s the arnica she used on her bruises, and she’s right in that it won’t do anything for him, but nor will it do any harm and it’s a kindness, tucked away, and tomorrow he’ll pretend to curdle the milk for her coffee from his face alone and maybe the world will be that much lighter when they laugh at Turlough’s confusion.
“S’alright, Doc.” She yawns, and curls down under the blanket. And it’s a struggle to get to his feet, but he still bends down to retrieve her other pillow, dropping it gently from his spare hand to behind her head to murmured thanks. There is a mess of thin scratches across her temple that he hadn’t seen at a distance, elongated triangles left by tiny shrapnel from the ultraviolet converter exploding, and he can feel them mirrored on his own cheek, but the larger pieces had glanced off the suit, protecting him from danger, and he in turn had tucked Tegan between himself and the wall.
“Sweet dreams,” he repeats quietly, and she waits until he’s at the door to flick the switch of her lamp back off. It’s still a long walk back to his room, and the contents of his coat pockets will need to be sorted and put out to dry before he can lie down, but there’s arnica to soothe his bruises with kindness, and a restful sleep to heal what remains.