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Classic Doctor Who Whumptober 2021

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 Barbara’s hand gripped Ian’s harder as the pair ran along the cliffside path. They had to be careful. While they weren’t on the very edge, they were close enough, with nothing but a rock wall on the other side.

 Barbara stumbled, and caught herself with her hand scraping along the rock wall. Ian’s hand tightened around hers. Both of their chests heaved with the exertion of running along the slightly rough terrain. They couldn’t afford to stop to rest, knowing the people coming after them would not be kind.

 Without any warning, the path in front of them exploded as something struck the rockface. Their hands let go of each other’s as the force of it threw them backwards. Little shards of rock pricked at Barbara’s face and forearms as the debris fell.

 She barely had any time to register what had happened and recover from it before a cry sounded out. “Ian?” Barbara called out through a cough. “Ian?”

 “Barbara!”

 Barbara shook her head as she rolled over to the cliff edge side, only to find Ian wasn’t lying there. She didn’t see him at all. “Ian!”

 She scrambled up to her hands and knees and over to the edge. “Ian!”

 Ian looked up from the rough sea waves crashing against the cliff face far below, locking his gaze with Barbara’s above him. Both his hands tightly clenched the thin vine that he’d barely managed to catch as he had rolled over the side.

 Barbara laid flat and stretched her arms down. “Ian, grab onto me.”

 Ian held his breath as he considered which hand to move.

 “Come on,” Barbara encouraged. “We have to go!”

 Ian blew out an exhale, and shifted his right hand from the vine to a little piece of jutting rock a little higher up. Through the wind blowing around him, he heard the vine groan at the shift in weight. It might not hold him for much longer. “Barbara?” It wouldn’t, he was certain.

 “Ian, please, come on…” Barbara scooted forward a tiny amount, and her fingertips brushed Ian’s hand on the jutting rock.

 “I’m trying…” Ian took a steeling breath before he raised that hand the couple inches to firmly grab one of Barbara’s. Her other hand closed around the back of his.

 “That’s it. Come on, Ian, please. We can’t-“ Barbara yelped in surprise at an explosion behind her, though her grip on Ian stayed strong. She felt more stone shards rain down on her back. There was no doubt their pursuers definitely knew where they were now, which meant it wouldn’t be long for them to catch up. “I can’t-“

 “Yes, you can,” Barbara urged. She tried pulling him up.

 For a split-second, it felt as though Ian’s foot had caught something, and he attempted pushing himself up, managing to get a couple of inches higher. But it gave way and he slipped down again.

 The vine snapped, and Barbara cried out from the strain on her shoulders as Ian jerked down further.

 Ian’s free hand scrambled to find that little handhold. He let out a relieved breath when he did. He looked up into Barbara’s face, her expression afraid and determined. It would take quite the force for her to let go of him.

 Ian tried to get higher up again, but there was nothing else for him to grab onto. Barbara couldn’t pull him up enough in the position she was in, either. He looked back the way they had come, the slope steep enough for him to see the path. Their hunters were hurrying along it. It would be a few minutes before they caught up, but when they did…

 “Barbara, they’re coming.”

 “Come on, then!” She didn’t bother looking back down the path.

 “I can’t! There’s nothing for me to use!”

 “Don’t you tell me that. Get up here!” Barbara tugged upwards again.

 Ian made another effort, but knew there was nothing either of them could do. The longer they were here, the more likely their pursuers would catch them. Which… left only one option.

 Ian glanced to the path again, then closed his eyes for a second. When he opened them, they stared into Barbara’s gaze. “We can’t let them catch us.”

 “I know, so-“

 “I can’t get up.”

 Barbara’s mouth opened and closed a few times as she worked out what he was getting at. “You better not be suggesting-“

 “I am.”

 “No!” She regrouped to tugged him upwards again. Now she looked down the path, although she was too awkwardly positioned to see them as clearly as Ian could.

 “Look at me, Barbara.”

 She did, her gaze snapping back to his. “Don’t you say it.”

 Ian’s jaw locked for a few seconds from his own fear. It took several seconds more for him to find his voice. “You have to let go.”

 “I said don’t-“

 “We’ll find each other again, like we always do.” He said it as an assurance to her and to himself. He looked down, not seeing anything obvious he could hit on the way down. “You have to let go of me.”

 Barbara shook her head, though she could feel her strength waning, her entire body straining to keep him from falling. “Ian, please…”

 “You know what they’ll do to us. You must run, now.” As he steeled himself for his next action, he repeated, “We will find each other.”

 Barbara’s eyes widened as Ian let go of her hand. She tried to compensate by tightening her grip, but there was nothing she could do.

 Ian kicked off of the cliff face, his hand wrenching from between Barbara’s.

“Ian!” came the anguished scream. All she could do was watch as he fell, down to the raging water below. “No!”

 She whimpered as he disappeared, and scooted backwards to her knees.

 Only a few seconds passed before the excited shouts from down the path reached her ears. She didn’t have long before they would catch up to her.

 Barbara pushed herself to her feet. “That better have been a promise, Ian,” she whispered. She turned to continue running, knowing there was a chance to get away if she kept going.