Tear the Sky Apart
Do you bleed? she had said. I can hurt you if you bleed.
She hadn’t known then, neither of them had known the answer to that question, she remembers the light in that girl’s eyes, remembers the intent in it, as murderous as she was.
“She ran on to my knife,” she says, but it sickens her and she tastes the blood in her mouth herself. She wonders at herself for even bothering to make excuses; there was a time she would have been proud of each kill. Do you bleed? she said, and they had just laughed, but after all she does, she does bleed, she would never have guessed it could take so long to find out.
It was just a scratch, not even, a pinprick perhaps. She is not even sure how it happened but she steps out of the shower and sees red on the towel, sees the blood welling on her finger in a bright beautiful bead. After the music, somewhere after the last set of tears, going to the shower in the first place to wash them away, pretend they never were, thinking, I can go back from here, I can, I don’t have to go on – somehow it’s become harder and harder to lie to herself. So there she is, crying in the shower, thinking make it stop make it stop I don’t want to remember, I don’t want to care. She’s laughing at the same time, wanting him to hear her, not wanting him to hear her, wondering if he can hear her laugh, hear her cry inside his head, they’ve been more open in these past few weeks and days than ever and it’s harder, now they’ve started, to hold anything back. She thinks this must be the closest to crazy I’ve ever been – isn’t there a song like that? She hears herself giggle and it frightens her.
She had just got herself silent and somewhere towards calm when she got out of the shower and the blood stained the towel from a prick she never even felt – something sharp on this stupid ship no doubt, there’s not a room of it works properly or, more the point, likes her or wants her on board. Do you bleed?
She hears the question as she looks at that bright red spot and she remembers the voice, the moment, the death – her name was Karra, she remembers now. I can hunt in the dark she said –and the smell of the blood on the wind she said, oh yes, she remembers. How superior she had been, how infernally arrogant, she remembers like it was yesterday; you can’t kill me, she had said and nobody could, not then. Oh the blood is so red, so bright, so pretty! She watches it run down her finger to rust in her palm. No wonder she - Karra - could hunt in the dark, with the smell so strong and the senses so fine – she remembers, she remembers having those senses herself, feeling so frightfully superior, so controlled, so damned masterful - because she could control it so well, she could hold it back, because her will was stronger than all these mere peasants, her mind so sharp. So sharp she never even thought she could cut herself.
But it was still there – the smell of the blood on the wind, on the knife, the thrill and the call of the hunt and – she did! She attacked me first! The defense rises in her with a wild surge, almost jubilant but it dies back down hopeless and hollow like a falcon cut down in mid dive (does it have to still hurt if she attacked me first?) She remembers; feeling the drumbeat of the earth, the call to the hunt, the cry in her own blood, she remembers smelling the girl’s tears, the one Karra called Sister, remembers her fury, how it tasted, how she savored it. Tears and rage from one of the Doctor’s own pets. The control slipping because it was so strong, this will to hunt and kill, she could have been next, that girl- she was full of tasty fire; she could have torn her to bloody pieces and played in the flame. How she held out so long she really cannot tell, killing was an instinct, a way of life for her already , back then she had thought that made her better than the feline savages but she knows differently now. We could have been friends, she thinks, all those feelings we shared we could, we really could, and it’s this thought that topples her, no less because friendship and could-have-beens have been on her mind so much lately and she’s doing it again and hating it, crying in the bathroom until it shakes her.
Run with me sister – and it was never her, she was never anyone’s sister; there’s only been one constant companion, the shadow running beside her all these years, the one she imagines, the green girl she sees out of the corner of her eye. But she can imagine another way, by all the stars she never saw she can imagine it. She had a friend she ran with once, after all, and in the jumble of her mind she hears herself think I need you, help me, I need you now and she’s crying from deep down now, gut wrenching sobs that twist her insides until she feels like she’s going to be sick and she can hear her own blood rushing in her ears, remember the wind on her face and the wild feverish thrill of the hunt, remembers it overtaking her in the end, burning up from it, thinking she didn’t deserve it and she want to close her ears to the sound of the wind and stop her nose from the smell of the blood and she barely hears the knock on the door it seems so far away and then he’s there, he is there, enfolding her in his limbs like he always could, holding her close but not too tight because she cannot stop moving. She can hear his voice and though the words don’t really matter I’m here, Missy, I’m here, I’m here, I’m here – they get louder with repetition, calling her back to the here and now and he’s stroking her- no she realizes – drying her when she’s still damp from the shower and she can see herself now as the mess that he must always see and she’s angry suddenly that he can see her like this and she wrenches away- but not all the way away because she doesn’t want to be far from him and she’s disgusted with herself for her neediness but at the same time she wants him to stroke her like that again. She’s staring at her hand curled out and tense in front of her and when she can speak it’s only anger that lets her-
“What about this?” she says, her voice dragging and rough – “Is this still good? Is this what you want?”
For a moment she feels like she hates him and she can see in his eyes that he knows it and accepts it, feels sorry even, as though any of it was his fault. She wishes it was, wishes she could blame him. He can’t answer, she realizes she does not expect him to and it shocks her when he does, when he gives her her own words back, the echo he could not quite give her before –
“I just want my friend back.”
She turns her head, stares at him, eyes full and seeing and she thinks so loud - I heard it, I heard the music under the barrow, the music of the universe and hearing is seeing is feeling is remembering and oh god, this is why I shut it all out, because I couldn’t take it all at once, not without you.
I know. He thinks, reaching to her mind with his mind because it’s easier, has become easier over this past millennia than speaking – I’m sorry.
“Tell me,” he says, and he stands and he helps her to her feet and she’s knows he’s saying it out loud because she needs to, and she can and will and she pushes her hair back from her face, her hands steadying, her heartbeats calming and the sickness subsiding; and she nods.
“Her name was Karra,” she says.