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Murder at Luna University

Chapter Text

Evie Jones looked up from her desk, startled, as the young student burst into her office. “It’s Dean Siggy, Evie - I mean Professor Jones,” the girl said in a rush. “He--” and her face crumpled and she began to cry. Oh bless, thought Evie, it’s time. She sighed and stood, rounding her desk to enfold the younger - but much taller - girl into an embrace.

“Shh... hush now,” she soothed. “We knew it would happen soon. He just hasn’t been well since the quake.” Evie shivered slightly; the quake had been hard for everyone, herself not the least of them. But she quickly controlled her reaction; right now it was important to be strong for the rest of them, and young Maddie here hadn’t the training yet to control herself. So she patted the girl’s shoulders and rocked her a bit and let her cry, and then she kissed Maddie firmly on the lips and let her go. “Alright, Maddie,” she said at last, “Can you come with me, or do you need to stay away for now?” Maddie sniffled and pulled away.

“I’ll come with you, if that’s alright,” she said in a choked voice. “Mama will want me there.” Oh dear, I had forgotten that, Evie thought, Maddie’s a legacy. She sighed again. Best to get this over with as soon as possible; she wanted to be there before the end for Professor Siggy. So she took Maddie’s hand and tugged her gently toward the office door.

-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-

(Another Orange Girl) the TARDIS ‘said’ abruptly, and the Doctor jumped. As he was under the console at the time, tinkering with a cable, he rapped his head sharply on the underside of the console and gritted his teeth against the pain.

“Evie?” he asked his ship, and felt a wave of agreement, tinged with something like... concern? Even worry? “Shall I get Jack and River, Sexy?” Another wash of agreement, and the Doctor tucked his sonic into his trouser pocket and loped up the circular stairs to the console. “Next stop Stormcage, yeah?” He spun in place, flipped levers and flicked dials, and switched off the blue boringers, because they were boring, and the blue box dematerialised into the night.

-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-

“Hello, Sweetie,” River said. She was standing hipshot, smiling at him through the bars of the cell, and he waved his sonic at the security camera and then the cell door, deactivating both. She swung the door open and stepped out to meet him, and he just stood and watched her as she stalked up to him on those high, high heels and put one hand behind his neck to draw him in for a kiss. “Is that a sonic screwdriver in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?” she breathed into his mouth, and he grinned under her lips. The last time she had said that... it had ended well.

“Both, actually,” he said, and kissed her for a while, until the sound of guards approaching alerted them and he pulled away. “Got the book?” he asked and she nodded, patting the bigger-on-the-inside pocket of her cargo shorts. Then they joined hands and ran to the blue police box, River waving merrily goodbye to the Stormcage guards as the characteristic whooshing noise sounded and the TARDIS disappeared.

-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/- 

River Song walked into the block of flats in the city of Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom. It’s the 21st century, she reminded herself, the pulse pistol would be out of place. But she felt uneasy and vulnerable without it unless she was in Stormcage or aboard the TARDIS. And although her cargo shorts and vest were perfectly normal attire for a warm July day in Wales in the twenty-first, she felt absurdly unprepared, even though all she intended to do was ask for Captain Jack Harkness’ flat number. She stepped into the gloomy foyer and looked around. A tiny old lady smiled at her and River headed in her direction.

“Are you looking for someone, dearie?” the old lady asked in a cracked but avid voice.

“Captain Jack Harkness,” said River. “He’s a friend of mine.”

“Oh that one has plenty of friends,” cackled the old woman and River managed - barely - not to roll her eyes. How on earth does he cope in this century, with who and what he is? she thought, but kept the thought to herself. Instead she smiled gamely at the old lady and asked her politely where she could find Jack’s flat. “Seventh floor. The little ginge and the brunette already knew,” the woman said in a tone that was simultaneously scandalized and admiring, “and as for the boys, well! That young man does get around. And to think I planned to introduce him to my granddaughter!” Oh bless, this is absolutely farcical, thought River, may as well give the old bat a vicarious thrill while I’m at it.

“I believe he works with the brunette,” she said in her best cool-as-an-icicle voice, and then laid on the heat. “But the redhead and I are... special friends. And when we get together with the boys... well!” And then she did roll her eyes, licked her lips lasciviously and gave the old woman a little wave, inhaling deeply to show off her cleavage. “Thanks for the... information,” she breathed, licking her lips again, and walked off to the lifts, swaying her hips in such a way that everyone in the lobby watched after her until the lift doors closed. She punched the button for the seventh floor, leaned against the wall of the lift, and laughed until she cried. Thank goodness it’s a slow lift, she thought as she recovered herself, and the doors opened on the grinning face of Jack Harkness. River began to giggle again, and he grabbed her hand and tugged her into the flat across the hall from the lift.

Jack shut the door behind them and gave her a big smacking kiss on the lips. “Missus Doctor River Song, that was brilliant!” he crowed, and she giggled some more. “You did my reputation no good at all. Thank you!” He waved a hand at the screen on the counter of his kitchenette. “I’ve got it set to come on if someone asks for me by name, so I saw all of that, and you were absolutely magnificent. Now...” he gave her one of his best flirtatious smiles and kissed her again. “What can I do for you, River? Or dare I hope you’re just here for a quick sh--”

“No, Jack,” River interrupted, her face becoming serious. “I’m sorry to tell you that there’s something - we don’t know what - going on with Evie. It’s not urgent, but even Sexy seems concerned, and she told the Doctor to pick you and me up to go deal with it. Jack...” she put a hand on his arm as he paled. “Jack, I’m sure she’s okay, but well... can’t hurt to check, can it?” He shook his head and took a deep breath.

“River...” he began, and she kissed him gently.

“I know,” she said softly, “but as far as we can tell from Sexy, Evie is in no physical danger; she just needs us for some reason. Let’s go.” She took his hand and led him out, throwing a smirk at the old lady in the lobby, but hurrying Jack out of the building and to the TARDIS in her parking space near the ruins of Torchwood Three. 

“There you are, Jack, let’s get on with it shall we?” said the Doctor as they entered the TARDIS. “Sexy showed me this.” He held out a slip of plastic. It was a picture of a newspaper clipping, and as Jack and River read it together, Jack relaxed; yes, Evie would need them, but this didn’t look dangerous, only sad.

Until they got to the bottom of the clipping, where bold dark letters proclaimed that one Professor Eva Jones (39) of Luna University was suspected of murder.

-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-

Evie Jones sat alone in the cell in the small jail outside Luna University, staring at nothing. She was turned inward, her thoughts racing in circles, as she tried to understand what had happened. Maddie and I went to his bedside, she thought, and he was in pain and I tried to soothe it the way he taught me and... and... and there her thoughts stopped, stuttered, and went back to the beginning. She was a doctor, and she recognised this as shock, but she couldn’t begin to care. Professor Siggy was dead, he had been family to her, and she was responsible for his death.

She must be responsible for his death; there wasn’t anyone else.

But she had only tried to ease his pain; it was an accident, surely...

It didn’t matter. It didn’t matter. He was dead, and she was responsible and oh, she missed him already and he’d only been gone for a couple of hours.

She curled up and hugged her knees to her chest, still staring blankly and now rocking slightly, and Jasper - the young deputy who had been detailed to watch her - regarded her warily. Everyone knew Evie Jones, he couldn’t believe she’d done this, not her, but the sheriff had said Professor Jones was the only person on Luna capable of stopping the old man’s heart with her mind like that. And it wasn’t like the sheriff was new; she’d been on Luna for decades, longer than Professor Jones herself, and her own daughter was one of Ev-- one of the suspect’s best students. And hadn’t there been a rumour years ago - the suspect and her friend who had later killed that Time Lord - something about that friend having killed a man back then?

Jasper sighed. Worst case scenario, Evie Jones, who was respected and loved by everyone at Luna University, who had healed half the planet of mental or emotional ailments, had killed her mentor in cold blood. Best case... well, best case was that it was an accident, or that she was somehow under the control of that woman, that friend who had killed a Time Lord. What was her name...? He looked away from the suspect as someone opened the door to the tiny jail and walked in. Three someones, actually; there was a tall and lanky young blond man, a woman with slicked-back brown hair and very red lips who would have been shorter had she not been wearing high heels, and a remarkably good looking man with dark hair and blue eyes waving a badge at him. He snapped to attention.

“Captain Jack Harkness, Time Agent,” said the man with the badge crisply in a Boeshane accent, and Jasper groaned inwardly. What are they doing here? he wondered, it’s a murder, not a time violation. But he took the badge and looked it over, then handed it back. Captain Harkness accepted it, then waved nonchalantly at his companions. “My staff,” he said shortly, “Harmony Rivers and Doctor John Smith. That your prisoner?” He nodded at the cell, where Ev-- the suspect was still rocking and staring at nothing with that blank expression. Jasper nodded and the agent walked to the cell to peer in.

“Sir?” he ventured shyly, “May I ask what the Agency’s interest is in this case?”

The agent turned and looked him up and down. “Your prisoner has a history of consorting with time travellers,” he said, “and that’s very serious. This century hasn’t the tech or the skills to kill a man using just a human mind; your prisoner is either involuntarily under the control of someone from the future, or in someone’s willing employ. Neither is good. Doctor Smith?” There was no response. “Doctor Smith.” The slender young man jumped.

“Oh, er, yes Captain?”

“Would you and Nurse Rivers take a look?” He waited a beat. “Don’t just stand there, Deputy, open the cell door so we can examine her! She’s clearly in distress.”

“But...”

Now, Deputy.”

Jasper sighed. This was shaping up to be a difficult day. But he got up and opened the cell door and let the three of them in. “I have to lock it behind you,” he said apologetically, hoping he wouldn’t get in trouble with the Agent, but the man smiled at him, showing very white teeth.

“Good man,” he said equably, and allowed Jasper to lock the cell door, turning to the suspect with what looked like professional concern. The other two had already knelt by Professor Jones, and the Rivers woman was taking her pulse while Doctor Smith had taken her by the chin to look into the blank and vacuous blue eyes.

“She’s very bad,” he said softly, “but I don’t think it’s anything physical. Shock perhaps. Captain, any ideas?”

“I’ve got one,” said the nurse, and stood, quickly turning to the cell door and grabbing Jasper by the lapel of his uniform, she planted a kiss on his lips through the bars and gently lowered him to the floor as he slumped.

“River,” chided the Doctor, “I hope you didn’t kill him.”

“Of course not, Sweetie,” she said, winking at him cheekily. “If I’d killed him I would have just dropped him after. We do have a small problem though,” she continued, surveying the unconscious young man outside the cell door. “This door opens out.”

“Can we please get her out of here?” Jack asked, the dashing time agent mask completely gone now. “She...” His voice broke and River and the Doctor shared a look. The Doctor sonicked the door lock without further comment and River pushed the door open, carefully shoving the deputy with it until she could slip through and pick him up. She laid him gently on the small bed in the cell and patted his arm before following the two men, Jack carrying Evie, out of the tiny police station and into the long lunar night.

Chapter Text

Evie did not respond to Jack’s whispered encouragements as he carried her to the medical bay aboard the TARDIS, nor when he settled her gently on the exam table. She didn’t resist, she didn’t collapse; she just sat there making no eye contact with anyone, not even acknowledging the blue box’s mental greeting, though the rest of them sensed it. This is very not good, thought the Doctor; how can we find out what happened if our witness is catatonic? “Jack, she trusts you; can you try to reach her?” he asked, and Jack nodded.

“I’ll try,” he said in a choked voice, “but I don’t know whether I can. I...” He looked down at Evie’s face and kissed her gently on the lips. Again there was no response. “Doc, River, it’s like she’s not there; she doesn’t react to anything. I don’t know what to do!” River took Jack’s hands in her own and gently pressed them to Evie’s temples.

“Close your eyes, Jack,” she said softly, and he complied. “Now,” River’s voice continued quietly, “Think of what Evie does when she tries to reach your mind. Try that.” Jack took a deep breath and tried to relax. He didn’t know whether his own meagre psychic training would be enough to reach her, but he had to try. Evie? he thought hesitantly, Evie, sweetheart, wake up. Come back.

But there was still no response.

Jack dropped his hands from Evie’s temples in defeat and silently left the medical bay. River and the Doctor looked after him and River sighed. “If you want to try reaching Evie, I’ll go after Jack. If we... when we do wake her up, she’ll need him.”

The Doctor shook his head, fringe falling over his eyes, and said, “You find him. I’ll stay with her but I will not enter her mind without you and Jack both here. Or her permission. Preferably both, and you know why, my River.”

River nodded. She knew why.

“Voice Interface, come on. No emergency,” she said as she stepped into the console room, and the V.I. - the pretty woman in ragged Victorian clothing - appeared in front of her.

“Voice Interface enabled.”

“Hello, Idris. Can you...” River paused. Asking Idris if she could do something was generally an exercise in futility. “Where is Captain Jack Harkness?”

“Captain Harkness is in Gymnasium Three.”

“Thank you.”

“Another Orange Girl...” said the V.I., and paused as though waiting. River blinked.

“Evie,” she said. “Another Orange Girl is called ‘Evie’ in physical language.”

“Evie,” said the hologram. “Names are funny. I have helped, will help Evie. They hurt, have hurt, are hurting her. Help her.”

“We’re trying to,” River said. “That’s why I need to find Jack.”

“Captain Jack Harkness is in Gymnasium Three,” said the hologram, and disappeared.

-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-

Jack used Gym 3 for the same reason River did; to blow off steam. But today it wasn’t working, not at all, because Evie was... was... Jack didn’t know what she was, but it wasn’t good. It killed him to see her like this, vibrant and eager Evie, so... not there. Even when she’d been phobic and terrified and panicked during the quake she had been there.

And fighting the virtual Daleks and Cybermen wasn’t helping either.

River sauntered into the gym, in a vest and shorts, pulse pistols strapped round her hips, and the computer-generated enemies... changed. They grew taller, more flesh than metal, and more humanoid than the Daleks. The heads grew rounded on top with elongated chins, and the arms stretched longer, the hands mitten-like. Lightning wreathed around them.

You should kill us all on sight, said a voice in Jack’s mind, and he did. He and River kicked and punched and shot, River spinning in place as she let loose with the pulse pistol, and the virtual creatures disappeared as they died. As the last of them vanished, River and Jack heard the mental ‘voice’ of the TARDIS in their minds.

(sorrow, another orange girl, silence)

They shared a long look and went to tell the Doctor.

-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/- 

“The Silence,” said the Doctor, and it wasn’t really a question. “But you can still remember them now? Even though there are none visible?” He did a slow turn, looking round to see if there were any in the medical bay.

There weren’t.

(remember silence will fall)

Oh. “I didn’t know you could do that. Very impressive, Sexy,” said the Doctor. “Why didn’t you do that before?”

(necessity now, silence, old man death, pain another orange girl my child my thief)

The Doctor turned to Jack and River, his youthful face shadowed with dawning horror. “They hurt her,” he whispered. “The Silence. They hurt Evie.”

“To get to me,” said River bleakly.

“And ultimately to me,” corrected the Doctor. “By killing Evie’s mentor, whom she viewed as family - and convincing her she did it herself - they hurt Evie. That removes River’s... support structure. Without support when she earns her pardon, they hope all the damage they did to River over the years comes back and she kills me as they originally planned. Plan A was for her to kill me in Berlin. Plan B on the shores of Lake Silencio. This is a backup plan, set into motion long before Utah.”

“OK...” said Jack slowly, “But now we know, and therefore River won’t lose her support in Evie and won’t kill you. As long as we can get Evie out of her own head. And incidentally keep her out of jail!” This was heavily sarcastic, and the Doctor winced.

“That’s the problem, Jack,” said River softly, taking his hand in hers. “Even once we wake Evie up, how will we prove to the Lunar authorities that she didn’t kill the Dean? That part can wait until she’s awake.”

“And how will we convince Evie herself?” The Doctor’s voice was very soft, very gentle, but there was steel behind it, the barest hint of the Oncoming Storm in his tone, and Jack blanched. When the Doctor was angry enough to use that tone, even the indestructible Jack Harkness paid attention.

(sexy, another orange girl silence blue-and-brown-boy trusting)

“I didn’t quite catch the significance of that,” admitted River, and the TARDIS tried again, working hard on keeping the impressions in temporal order for the humans.

(silence painpainpainthoughts another orange girl)

River nodded. “The Silence hurt Evie. Badly. Inside her mind.”

(sexy soothe memoriesthoughts another orange girl)

The Doctor said, “And you can fix it? Repair what the Silence did to her?”

(another orange girl trusting blue-and-brown-boy, sexy soothe thoughtsmemories)

“Oh,” said River. “Jack, do you remember when Sexy Thing taught Evie to... sort of smooth out the edges of my unconscious memories about the Silence, to make them bearable?” He nodded carefully; the usual headache he got when Sexy spoke to him was in full force. “I think she’s saying she can do that for Evie, but she needs your help.”

“My help,” said Jack blankly, “but we already know that I can’t reach her.”

“Not alone,” the Doctor explained, his voice gentle. He met Jack’s eyes, and Jack thought he looked ancient in spite of this regeneration’s baby face. “Jack... the Silence... they brutalised Evie’s mind; they did things to it in ten minutes that they took years to do to River. Evie needs someone she trusts implicitly in the link, and she doesn’t trust me or the old girl enough for us to stop her either hurting herself or... or retreating so far into her own mind that we can’t get her out.”

“She trusts me that much,” River pointed out, but the Doctor shook his head at her even as Jack interrupted.

“No,” he said simply. “You’ve had more than enough of the Silence as it is. What do you need me to do?”

-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/- 

“Alright, Jack, Sexy will do most of this,” explained River, trying to keep the resentment out of her voice. It’s stupid to be angry when they’re trying to protect you, she told herself. They love you. It didn’t help, though; she wanted to do something to help Evie. Oh bless, Evie, I’m so sorry, they did this to you to get to me... She took a deep breath. “I don’t think it will hurt you, but it could; you’re not trained for this. I know,” she said, holding up one hand to forestall his response, “It can’t hurt you permanently. But Jack...” she trailed off as he kissed her gently.

“Thank you, River,” he murmured. “I know you’re a... a woman of action, and you want to do something. But please let me take care of this for you this time.” His blue eyes were very serious as he looked at her. “I have to. Evie...”

She smiled at him. “I know. I just...”

“River,” interrupted the Doctor, sounding business-like, “Would you double-check these medical things for me?” He held up a fistful of cables with contact patches hanging off them. “I want to see if we can measure a non-telepath’s interaction with a telepath’s mind...” He trailed off, noting the looks he was getting from them both. “Oh... er... maybe not; a bit soon perhaps, wouldn’t be a valid test, Jack’s not a normal human really, is he, and Evie’s mind is not its usual self, maybe once she’s awake and healed and... oh right, well...”

Jack had often wondered if the Doctor did things like that deliberately to break uncomfortable moods, this time because River’s air of gloomy frustration cleared at once and she was suddenly very briskly capable as she settled Jack into a chair near the bed in his room, where they had moved Evie so she’d wake in a comfortable place. He glanced at the Time Lord and was rewarded with a quick wink. Manipulative little son, isn’t he? Jack thought, and relaxed in spite of himself. He placed his fingertips on Evie’s temples as River indicated, but the position was uncomfortable, so he looked up at River. “Will it work if I lie alongside her?” he asked, and she nodded.

“It will work better the more relaxed you are, Jack,” she said, “because it’s almost as hard on Sexy as it is on you if you’re tense. In fact...” She gently lifted Evie and gestured for Jack to settle back into Evie’s pillows, then deposited Evie in his lap. “She’s so small that it’s just easier this way,” River said with a maternal sort of satisfaction. “There, put your arms around her, Jack, hands on her temples, and relax until you’re breathing in time with her. That’s right. You’re a natural, Jack. Breathe in. Breathe out. Good...”

Her voice faded from Jack’s hearing as Sexy’s mind took over, enhancing the link between Jack and Evie, strengthening it. Images began to rush like a wave into his mind, pictures and sounds and scents, but his mind couldn’t encompass them all and he shuddered convulsively. The input slowed, steadied, and began to... to trickle into his head at a speed he could tolerate.

pain. so much pain. his chest, it hurts. what... what is that? who are you? rounded head, mouth in a silent scream, and... where was I? oh yes, the professor. like family to me, has been forever, and he’s in pain, and wasn’t there someone here? focus on the professor...

professor... oh no. no no no no no. please no, not like this, I was only trying to ease your pain, please, please. no...

no.

oh, yes.

the aliens are getting closer, the ones she had seen before, but she’d forgotten. coming closer, and she hears them in her mind - your fault, always your fault, he’s dead because of you - and the lightning wreathing around their long two-fingered hands moves closer and closer and oh bless the pain leaves her breathless. mental pain, emotional, god it’s agony, and it goes on and on and on, this endless torment, and finally her mind just shuts down to protect itself and everything goes black...  


…a

...a spark

...a spark in the darkness

...a spark in the darkness of Evie’s mind...

...blue ... so much blue, a beautiful blue box but... no! it’s lovely but it’s too strong, she could be lost, please no, don’t!  the blue is so bright and so huge that it hurts, hurts inside her mind and she flinches away from the pain, no more pain please, but as she watches the blue fades to a more bearable shade, a friendly and twinkling blue, and it gets smaller and rounder and friendlier and it splits into two. it’s Jack, Jack’s eyes, the pretty blue eyes of her lover, and she finds herself falling, falling into the safety of Jack’s blue, blue eyes...

 

...and Evie woke up with a gasp.

She scrambled away from Jack, all the way to the other end of the huge bed, and curled up there shaking, shuddering violently, and it was River who gathered her into a hug and held her, rocking gently, until finally the tremors stopped.

“There now, Evie,” crooned River, “Alright then?” At Evie’s hesitant nod, Jack let out a single sob of relief and buried his face in his hands, and the Doctor sat down abruptly into a chair. “Okay, sweetheart, let’s get you into bed then, get you some real rest. We’ll deal with the rest in the morning, okay?”

“Th-there is no m-morning in the TARDIS,” managed Evie, and at Sexy’s wave of affectionate agreement, burst into hysterical tears.

Chapter Text

“Doc, it kills me to see her like this.”

The Doctor nodded, but he wasn’t really paying attention to Jack. He was tinkering with something under the TARDIS console, muttering to himself. Or to Sexy; it wasn’t clear.

“Bugger this,” Jack muttered. “I’ll go talk to River instead.”

“Mmhmm...” murmured the Doctor, “Now, dear, let’s see just what’s wrong with you... why won’t you talk, eh? Are you hurt?”

(another orange girl pain) came the ‘voice’ of the TARDIS, pitched so as to carry only into the back of his mind, through that deeply intimate link that only the two of them shared.

“Yes, dear, she was, but you and Jack got her out of there and she’s all better now...”

(negation, sexy talk another orange girl sad pain)

“I don’t... oh.” The Doctor winced. Of course. Evie’s mind had been... abused by the Silence; she would be sensitive to any kind of mental touch until she could work past it. Because of me, he thought, always because of me.

(negation! because silence!)

“Alright dear, if you say so...” the Doctor said without conviction, and stroked the console lovingly.

-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-

“How are you feeling, sweetheart?” asked Jack as he walked into the medical bay. He tried to sound casual and cheerful; Evie’s apathy over the three days since they’d pulled her out of the darkness in her own mind worried him, but he didn’t think she should see how much. God, she just sat there! She’d answer direct questions, she’d eat and bathe and change her nightie when prompted, and she was unfailingly polite, but she just... sat there unless someone spoke directly to her.

“I’m well, thank you Jack,” she said now, in a wooden tone that tore at him. He wanted to shake her, to do something, anything, to snap her out of the numb state she seemed to be in. But he didn’t know what to do, and the people who could help her were all against her, believing that she had killed the mentor she’d thought of as her family. The kindest of them believed it was an accident, that she had done the mental equivalent of giving the old man too many painkillers, but the others... some of them believed that she had murdered the Dean intentionally, to get his job, or for some nefarious purpose of her own. And these were people who had known her all her adult life, over twenty years. They had kept the news scans from her for fear it would make her worse, but by this point Jack wasn’t sure how much worse she could get.

“Evie...” he nearly said all this to her, trying to get her to help herself as she had during the quake, but at that moment the other two entered the room, the Doctor chattering to River and her assuring him that she didn’t care if he wore a perception filter, he was not wearing that hat outside the TARDIS. The moment was lost, and Jack sighed, trying hard not to bark at his friends out of sheer frustration. But he caught River’s eye and she nodded once, then crossed to Evie briskly, cutting off the conversation about the hat with no warning.

“Hello, Evie,” she said, doing a much better job of cheerful than Jack had managed. “How’re you feeling? Any better?”

“I’m well, thank you River,” said Evie in the same wooden tone as before, and Jack had to fight the urge to shout at Evie that no, she wasn’t well and dammit, she had to just do something, but River gave him a warning look and tilted her head toward the door. He left, dragging the Doctor with him against the Time Lord’s protests and River sat heavily on the edge of Evie’s bed. “River?” said Evie, startled into something approaching her normal speech, “Are you alright?”

“No,” said River simply. “I’m not. I don’t know how to help you.”

“Help me?”

“Yes, you. Evie... I’m no psychiatrist, but I think that if you were to take an objective look at yourself as a patient, you’d prescribe something other than bed rest.” Her voice softened. “Sweet Evie, everyone on this ship believes in you. We love you. Let us help you. Please?” There were tears in River’s eyes, and Evie found that cold and frightened lump in her middle thawing just a little. “Evie... Jack especially is terrified that he and Sexy hurt you somehow, made what the Silence did to you that much worse.”

“But...” Evie said in a very small voice, “No, he... they... I... th-thought...”

“You thought what?” came Jack’s voice from the doorway, and he wasn’t entirely successful in hiding the frustration in it. Evie watched him, truly seeing him for the first time in days, and she noticed how very upset he was. “You thought what, Evie,” he said again, his voice gentling as he moved toward her. And that cold knot melted a little more, and as Jack sat on the other side of Evie’s bed and took her hand, it was as though a dam inside her gave way. She stared at the hand he held with wide eyes filled with tears, and then she couldn’t stop the hysterical babbling.

“I th-thought you didn’t want me, you couldn’t bring yourself to t-touch me, you moved me out of your r-room because you were d-disgusted by me, I killed him, oh bless, Jack, I k-killed him, I loved him and I killed him! I just wanted to be held, I thought you would understand, you of all p-people, it was an accident, I didn’t mean it, oh god, I just wanted to be held and loved and touched, I--” and she broke off as Jack kissed her very gently on the lips and River quietly left the room, shutting the door behind her.

“OK,” said Jack as he climbed into bed next to Evie and put his arms around her. “Let’s take those one at a time.” He smoothed her hair back as he spoke. “You did not kill the Dean, Evie; it was the Silence. They made you believe you did it, for this very reason, to make you helpless and unable to be a support for River. Shh...” he murmured this last into her hair as she began to protest. God, how could he have forgotten how important touch and acceptance were to Evie? She must have spent the past three days in a downward spiral of self-loathing and blame. His arms tightened around her. “I know you don’t believe it now, my sweet and lovely Evie, but you are not responsible for his death. And we will keep telling you that until you accept it.”

“But...” He cut her protest off again, laying his fingers gently over her mouth.

“But nothing, Evie.” Jack slid the fingers from Evie’s lips to cup the back of her neck, and kissed her softly but thoroughly. “Evie, I’m sorry. I was stupid and I buggered it up. I think I’ve been living in the past too much. Literally.” He took a deep breath. “I thought that after what the Silence did to you, you might not want to be touched. I should have known better, because their... their assault--” It was his turn to break off as she shook her head and looked him straight in the eye.

“Rape,” Evie said softly in a grim sort of voice, and sighed. “May as well call it what it was, Jack, a form of rape. And if it had been physical I might not want to be touched, you’re right, but it wasn’t; it was mental and emotional and...” she trailed off and shuddered violently, and he just held her until she stopped trembling. She took a deep breath and tilted her head back to look into his face. “But it wasn’t physical, Jack, and I needed to be h-held.

“I know that now, sweetheart,” Jack said in a choked voice as he did just that, pulled her into his lap and held on tight, stroking her hair with one hand and rubbing her back with the other. “I... when you came out of it, you couldn’t get away fast enough, and I thought... I was afraid that...”

“That you had hurt me, you and Sexy?” He nodded miserably; dammit, he’d promised himself a long time ago never to hurt her again... and now... “No,” Evie said, and snuggled more deeply into his lap. “I mean... it did hurt, having to come out of the safe little corner of my mind, but it was necessary...” she paused and shivered. “I don’t want to let anyone in my mind right now, but...” her face tilted up and she pressed a gentle kiss to Jack’s throat, feeling his pulse jump under the touch of her lips.

“Evie...” Jack whispered, “are you sure you want this right now?”

“Absolutely sure,” she murmured against his skin, and he groaned her name as her lips travelled slowly up to his ear. “Love me, Jack. Touch me. Please.” Her small warm hand started to move and he grabbed her wrist.

“No,” he breathed into her ear. “My turn to love you. Lie still, Evie, and let me touch you.” 

He began slowly, still worried that she’d shy away from more than a simple embrace after all she’d been through, and terrified that he would frighten her or worse yet, hurt her. He lifted Evie gently off his lap and settled her back against the pillows and cushions at the head of the bed, being careful not to make any sudden moves. He eased back and just looked at her, reclining there in a pale green nightie that would have hit any other woman with her figure at mid-thigh, but on tiny little Evie it went all the way down to her knees. She looked so fragile. “Evie...” Jack said in a voice rough with need and emotion, “Evie, I... god, if we hadn’t been able to get you out of there I...”

“Hush, Jack,” Evie said softly. “I’ll be alright.” And she reached out to him and pulled him to her by his braces. He allowed it, supporting himself with a hand in the pillows on either side of her head, and leaned in to kiss her. She made a muffled sound of encouragement as he angled his lips over hers, and he just let himself feel. Soft warm lips meeting his and oh, kissing Evie felt like coming home. Warm and comfortable and sweet. He was holding himself back, trying to keep this slow and gentle, but she was already writhing underneath him and moaning his name into his mouth, and when her hand closed around him through his trousers he was lost.

“Evie...” It was a panting sort of moan as he arched into her touch, and she struggled with the fasteners on his clothes. “No, I wanted... wanted to take care of... you. God, Evie!” The fasteners came undone and she slipped her hand inside and stroked him.

“Come for me, Jack,” Evie moaned into his mouth as she worked him to a fever pitch. “I want you to come for me now, please...” Her hands were moving faster now, stroking and squeezing, and some vague part of Jack’s mind understood that for all her bravado, Evie needed this, needed proof that she was still desirable and wanted, and he let himself go, groaning her name into her mouth as he came.

“Thank you, Jack,” Evie whispered, and he chuckled weakly.

“No, thank you.” He levered himself up and smiled at her. She still looked a bit fragile and she was always pale, but some confidence was back, and he was so relieved he thought he might cry. It must have shown in his face because she drew him down to her again and kissed him, a long and slow kiss that had him stirring again already. “I love you, Evie.”

“I love you, Jack.”

And they loved each other quietly with little moans and sighs and quivers, until at last they were sated, and they slept cocooned in each other’s arms through the long night.

-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/- 

“Good morning, Evie,” said River in that hushed tone one uses before dawn. “Feeling any better, darling?”

“Yes,” admitted Evie, “I am. Thank you.” She walked over the the older woman and kissed her gently. “Now I know why you were never my student,” she said ruefully, “you didn’t need it. You knew exactly what I needed to snap me out of that, with no training at all.”

River laughed. “Experience, darling Evie, rather than training. I’ve dealt with the aftermath of the Silence’s little games before.” She sighed sadly, but brightened as the Doctor entered the console room. “Hello, Sweetie.”

He gave her a quick smile but disappeared under the console before she could say any more, and River shook her head fondly as Jack poked his head out of the medical bay. “Mmm... two - excuse me, Sexy; three - three beautiful ladies first thing in the morning. Where’s Doc?” He grinned as River pointed down, and rubbed his hands together in a parody of an operatic villain. “Then I have you all to myself, my pretties,” he said gleefully.

The Doctor’s voice floated out from under the console. “But you’d rather have me,” it said, and then the Doctor’s head popped up over the console's main deck. “Jack, would you come look at this? Sexy’s not talking - I think so she can stay out of Evie’s head.” He caught the atavistic shiver Evie gave involuntarily and threw her an apologetic look. “Anyway, she’s just landed and she won’t tell me when or where. It’s like she’s waiting for something.”

“Maybe she - whoever she is - is waiting for me,” said an authoritative voice from the doorway to the outside, and everyone turned to look.

It was the sheriff.

 

 

Chapter Text

“Hello, Sheriff,” said Evie. She was outwardly calm, but Jack could practically sense the tension in her tiny frame from across the console room, so he edged toward her, intending to put himself between her and the sheriff. And the sheriff’s drawn blaster.

“Professor Eva Jones, you are under arrest for the mur--”

“Stop!” a voice interrupted desperately from just outside the open doors. “Mama, she didn’t do it; you know she could never do something like that! Not Evie!” The sheriff sighed and holstered her blaster. This may have looked like an impulsive move, but really it wasn’t. Sheriff Baker liked to think of herself as a quick thinker but not an impulsive one. And in most cases she was absolutely right.

Mirabel Baker, Sheriff of Luna University, was a very practical woman, for all the talents she’d been blessed with. Or cursed with; she hated the ability to look deeply into another’s mind; that was why she’d chosen another path after her initial training as a telepath. She found the entire process revolting, as though there were slimy fingers inside her head, and so she performed the occasional surface scan in the line of duty, and left the deeper probes to people like Evie, whom the sheriff’s office sometimes employed when there was trouble. Deeper trouble than the usual problems of a college town - the drunks and cheating on exams and he-said-it-said-she-said dramas were well within her normal course of duty. But this - the death and possible murder of the Dean, beloved by all of them but by Evie especially, and with Evie herself as a likely culprit - this was far beyond her comfort level. It might even be beyond her ability. So... Time to negotiate, she thought, because I can’t risk a confrontation with Maddie here... and there’s something very odd about this whole scenario.

“Professor Jones - Evie - will you come quietly with me for questioning? I do have trouble believing you would kill unless it was an accident, but the conventions of the law must be followed. And...” she paused and then said in an apologetic rush, “And the surface scan I did of your mind suggests that you did kill the Dean.” Mirabel looked carefully around at all of them and was very careful to show no surprise at the two others she recognised. “Doctor Song, this is far out of my jurisdiction but may I ask why - I won’t even bother to ask how - you’re here? Seeing as it takes you out of Stormcage at the very least, there is something strange going on here.” She looked at Jack. “And Agent Boe, I’d ask you the same question. As for your friend, I have no doubt he’s in this up to his ears. Come out here, would you please?”

The Doctor looked abashed but walked up the spiral stairs leading to the console room. He went to River and grasped her hand as Jack spoke. “Not Agent Boe. Captain Jack Harkness now. And Evie’s not going anywhere with you.” His voice and his stance were belligerent and protective as he glared at the sheriff.

“Jack.” It was all Evie said, in a quiet but firm tone; it stopped Jack from going any further. She held out a hand and he took it, standing behind her with his arms around her shoulders. She turned her attention to the women at the front door of the TARDIS. “Maddie, thank you for your trust, but I understand your mother’s point; I must be questioned, even if only as a witness.” She took a deep and shuddering breath, and Jack’s arms tightened around her. “Mirabel, I am sorry, but you must go deeper than you like. It’s...” her voice broke and now she couldn’t stop trembling as she continued. “It’s necessary that you see everything that happened, or you can’t be - I can’t be - c-convinced of my innocence.”

“That’s enough,” interrupted River coldly as Evie turned to Jack and burrowed her face into his chest. “You may question her since you have her permission, but you will do it here where she feels safe, or not at all. As for me and Jack,” she let go of the Doctor’s hand and stalked toward the sheriff, anger in every line of her body as she moved, “We were on a mission of our own and came for Evie’s sake when we discovered her to be in distress. I remember how enlightened this society is when the rumour mill gets going, and I assure you Jack does too; we will not allow Evie to be put in that situation again.” The other woman had the grace to look embarrassed; she had just left the University for the Sheriff’s Office the last time Evie and River had been the subject of rumour, and she had not been one of their few supporters at the time.

“Doctor Song,” she said as civilly as she could manage, taking refuge in formality, “I assure you that I regret my actions - or lack thereof - at that time. I have grown to care for Professor Jones in the fifteen years since then; she is a trusted friend and colleague. But I must do my job, even when it involves... distasteful actions.” Her voice grew softer and she allowed some of her own trepidation to show. “Doctor Song. River... I don’t want to hurt her, and I don’t believe she did anything deliberately, but I have to know. Please.”

“It’s all moot anyway,” said the Doctor. “River, there are more spoilers than you can shake a stick at - though why anyone would want to shake a stick at a spoiler, I... forget that. River, if we tell her anything, or let her see what Evie has seen, there will be spoilers. You know that.”

“No,” said River grimly, “there won’t. We only remember because of Sexy allowing for it; I’d bet the minute we’re outside her field we’ll forget. And so will Sheriff Baker and her daughter. We can use that.” She sighed. “I don’t like it, not at all, but...”

Evie pulled away from Jack, looking more than a little sick with the realisation of what River meant. “River, you know we can’t do that!”

“Do we have any choice, Evie?” River’s voice was harsher than Evie had ever heard it. “You can stay with us of course, but are you willing to let your whole life go because you feel squeamish about using... using them to keep yourself safe? Are you?”

Evie shrank back at River’s words. “It’s not using them that bothers me, River! You don’t understand how... how hard it would be for the sheriff to do this, and to do it to her - and her daughter - without their consent, that’s... it’s unthinkable!”

“How about you let the sheriff and her daughter decide for themselves?” asked a quiet voice. It was Maddie, standing behind her mother, wispy blonde hair escaping from her ponytail as she shook her head at them. “Mother hates probing others’ minds, it’s true, but she will if she has to. And if she won’t, I will. I’m not fully trained, but I’m not nearly so squeamish about it as mama is, and Evie’s my teacher so I’ve been in there before, and--”

“You will do no such thing,” said her mother tiredly, “but thank you for the offer dear. Now,” she said briskly, turning to the women on the console deck, “tell me what exactly you mean, and I will decide if I need to forget. If I feel I don’t, rest assured I can keep a secret as well as anyone.”

“I... we...” the Doctor spluttered, then waved one hand irritably. “Oh just tell her,” he said pettishly to River, “Why not? If you’re right she’ll forget and if you’re wrong, well... it’s your story to tell in any case.”

“York Notes version again, my love? Very well. Sheriff Baker, Maddie, you are not aware of my history, because we’ve kept it a secret for... well, for safety.” Her voice is calm, thought Mirabel, and her face, but her eyes look... as though she’s been wounded too badly to bear. “There are... people - a secret society - that wants me to k-kill the Doctor.” She closed her eyes against the pain, and the young man put his arms around her. She took a deep breath and continued. “This group has aliens who have the ability to make one forget, and also to implant suggestions into the mind. They killed the Dean, and they convinced Evie using this suggestion power that she did it. And because she believes it, that’s what your scan picked up.” Her voice was getting higher, her words faster, as though she was holding herself together by the thinnest of threads, and the Doctor tried to cut in but she waved him off. “They used Evie because they know she’s one of the few people I...” River took another deep breath as though trying to control herself. “Excuse me,” she almost whispered and fled the room, the Doctor trailing in her wake.

Mirabel let out a long breath she hadn’t realised she was holding. “That was... unexpected,” she admitted. “I hadn’t thought she’d be so...”

“Human?” asked Jack scathingly, “She’s not a cold-blooded killer, Sheriff; she’s been turned into a weapon and it wasn’t of her own choosing.” He cuddled Evie close for a moment. “And now this group is trying to undermine River’s support structure, and the first person on their list was our Evie. She’s vulnerable to their... techniques, she’s under no special protections, and her loss would devastate River. Can’t you see that they’re both victims here?”

“Jack,” said Evie softly, “She understands. She believes us. Well, Mirabel believes us, but Sheriff Baker needs more concrete evidence.” She turned to the older woman. “I...” she broke off and shuddered once, convulsively. “I need you to know, to believe. To tell everyone else that I did not do this. Please, Mirabel. Help me.” Her tone was beseeching, and she was even paler than normal, her freckles standing out in sharp relief. She’s terrified, thought Mirabel, but we’ve linked when it was needed before. Why would she suggest it, knowing it upsets me, and why on Luna would she be afraid? I... oh. Oh god if they can implant suggestions into the mind, oh Evie...

“Evie...” Mirabel said faintly, all too aware of her daughter at her back and the hostile gaze of the time agent holding Evie. “Evie... did they hurt you? Assault, or rape, or...”

Evie stood very straight, arms stiffly at her sides as she struggled for control of her emotions. “Not physically,” she said in so low a tone that Mirabel had to strain to hear. “But yes, both assault and rape. Mentally.”

Mirabel was aghast. “I can’t examine you now,” she exclaimed in horror, “After what was done to you, you still want me to question you inside your mind?”

“No, I don’t want you to! But you must! Or I’ll never be... whole, always doubting. Please, Mirabel, I...” She broke off as Jack stroked her hair and turned her toward him, nestling her face into his chest and wrapping his arms around her. His eyes were haunted as he looked at Mirabel and Maddie, frozen with horror across the console deck.

“Sheriff,” he began, and stopped. “Look, can we sit down and hammer this out? It takes a lot to upset River to this extent and Evie’s had a very rough time and I just want my friends to be safe and happy. OK?” Mirabel nodded, pulling Maddie by the hand and sinking down beside her on a seat near a railing. “Right,” Jack said, piloting Evie to a neighbouring jump seat and settling her into it, “I’ll go get River and the D... the captain of this ship.” Yeah, he thought, she’s agreed to keep it a secret, but the Doctor’s identity is his own secret, not mine, so...

-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-

“River,” said the Doctor as he held her tense body tightly in the corridor outside the console room, “River, can you tell me what has you so upset?” River shook her head, unable to speak, and he sighed. “Spoilers?” She nodded miserably against his shoulder and he sighed again. “Oh, my River,” he murmured into her hair, “You are so very dear to me.” He felt her give a great heaving sigh and then she finally relaxed against him and he buried his face in the great halo of curls, stroking her back until she could speak.

“I hate hurting her,” said River haltingly. “Hurting Evie is like hurting a defenceless little bird, and we’ve done it so many times. But she still sticks with us because that’s who she is.”

“She’s stronger than that, my River. You know she is. It’s a quiet strength but it’s there.” She nodded into his shoulder again, then wrapped her arms around his waist, asking for comfort without words.

-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/- 

Mirabel thought fast as the agent left the room. Evie was still there, shivering in what appeared to be a state of abject terror. River Song - of all people - had left the room in tears and the young man had followed her. Given what they’d told her and what she’d observed, leaving Evie alone with her was a silent statement of trust that she would stay here rather than taking advantage of their absence. She would not abuse that trust. If these aliens who allegedly had it in for Doctor Song really could erase memories and plant suggestions, then what had she to lose? “Evie,” she said, and Evie jumped with the suddenness of it. “Sorry. Evie, these aliens - does their memory trick work with an image? Or is it a pheromone or something, where you have to see them in person for it to work?”

“An image works,” said Evie softly, still shivering but calmer now. “I once saw one on that screen right there and I was compelled to do what was suggested.”

“Good. I have an idea...”

“What sort of idea?” asked Jack suspiciously as he entered the room with River Song and the young man behind him. River looked tearstained but back in control of herself, and the young man’s expression was grim and somehow sad. Mirabel shook her head.

“Listen, and I’ll tell you. I think it will work for everyone this way.” So they listened, and put in a few suggestions of their own, and revealed some very useful information, and after an hour or so there was trust and even friendship between them.

 

Epilogue  

Jasper was running crowd control, because for the first time in recent memory, his boss was giving a speech. A ‘press conference’ it had been called centuries earlier, and she had kept the details very secret, except to assure him that he had done nothing wrong; she didn’t expect him to go up against the likes of Captain Harkness and Doctor Smith and Nurse Rivers and win. He wasn’t sure how he felt about that, but at least he wasn’t in trouble with the University or the Time Agency, or Sheriff Baker, and for that he was grateful. So he positioned himself where he could see most of the crowd and still hear the speech. And wow, who knew the old lady could be so eloquent?

“Attention please,” Mirabel said, and the amplification field picked up her voice and image and projected it all over this side of Luna, broadcasting it to holo-phones for those not in physical attendance. “Thank you. I’ve called you here today to explain a few truths I’ve learned recently. However, first I’d like to revive an old custom we’ve long since lost.” She gestured and the giant holo-projector behind her lit up, showing the most momentous scenes from Luna’s history - the Landing, the London Hospital, the Terraforming, the Food Riots, the University Founding, the Quake - complete with sound, transmitted all over Luna and to parts of Earth.

“And now,” she said simply after the show ended, “I have the results of my investigation into the death of Professor Siggy, Dean of Luna University. Some of you are under the impression that he was killed by Professor Eva Jones - our own Evie - and I can assure you that this is not the case. Not even by accident. I have questioned her myself, mind-to-mind,” A murmur ran through the crowd at this; Mirabel’s aversion to using her own psychic power was well known. “And I am convinced that she did not kill the Dean. Come up here, Evie.” Evie clambered up onto the stage next to the sheriff, who embraced her and kissed her soundly and then turned back to the crowd - now larger than it had been. Her voice dropped lower. “I have worked with Evie for many years, and I trust her implicitly. Please keep that in mind; if I - who am notoriously untrusting - can trust this woman, then so can all of you. And anyone she trusts as well.” She winked at River, who stood in the back of the audience in that perception-filter costume, and watched with satisfaction as River’s mouth dropped open with surprise. “That’s all I’ve got today,” Mirabel said, “unless you’d all like to see the Highlights of Luna holo-show again. What do you think?”

The cheer that rang out told her what they thought of that and she motioned a technician to run the holo-show again, then pulled Evie off the stage by one hand, cutting through the crowd to where River and the Doctor were standing with Jack, backs to the invisible TARDIS. “My office?” she said in an undertone, “because I think that even the perception filters would be hard put to mask this.” When they got there, she motioned for them all to sit down and then locked the door behind them. “I want you to know,” she said to the Doctor, “that I am still willing to forget this if it makes you more comfortable with the spoilers.” He shook his head; she had just proven it wasn’t necessary; she could keep the secret.

“I still don’t like it,” said Evie, “It’s unethical to mess with people’s minds like that.” She looked uncomfortable. “But... I guess since the people have all seen that moon landing since forever, they’ve already been affected, and I... oh I don’t know. At least this time the Silence’s power was used for the good of humankind. And for my friend River.” She smiled at River and then at Mirabel. “Thank you.”

“Yes,” said River, “I... I don’t know how to thank you enough for this, I...” she trailed off, tears in her eyes, and leaned over the desk to kiss Mirabel. “If I ever earn that pardon I can come back here, and earn my Professorship, because of what you said here today. Thank you.”

“Ooo,” said Evie, “Professor Song. I like the sound of that.” She nudged the Doctor in a friendly fashion without looking at him, and did not notice the tight-mouthed expression on his face or the way that he swallowed convulsively before he spoke up.

“Oh yes, my River,” he said softly, “You’ll make a wonderful professor. Someday.”