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Classic Doctor Who Whumptober 2021

Chapter Text

 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.

Chapter Text

 “Where are you? Where are you…?” Alistair mumbled to himself as he quietly walked through the empty office building.

 He wasn’t the only one here tonight, searching for the group of people who had used this place as a front for their unsavory business. Working for some corrupt scientist sort. The rest of his men were spread out over the floors and space.

 “Come on now… Come on out…” Alistair had his gun drawn, but pointed down to the floor. He nudged open a door with one foot, then quickly went inside. He let out a breath, seeing nothing except empty chairs and desks with paperwork lit by the light from the corridor and from the streetlamps coming through the windows. Perhaps they weren’t here tonight. If that were the case, it would mean coming back here again. He would rather get this over with tonight.

 Alistair left that office room, and moved onto the next. He nudged open the door and took a step inside.

 He heard the rustle of movement behind him, and barely had any time to react to it as arms looped over his head. He brought one hand up to fend them off, but they suddenly jerked back.

 Alistair’s cry cut off as something thin wrapped around his throat and fingers. A wire?

 His assailant took him down to the ground, wrapping their legs around his middle to keep him from rolling over or otherwise escaping the hold around his neck.

 The wire tightened further, cutting off Alistair’s breathing completely and cutting into his skin. The metal of the wire stung his flesh, and he could feel trickles of blood on his neck and the fingers caught in its grasp.

 His radio crackled, but whatever was said through it came through too muffled to make out, with it trapped between his side and the floor.

 With one hand trapped, he couldn’t do much with his other arm to try to escape or strike the person behind him. His gun had clattered to the floor when he had been dragged down with his attacker. He could see it, out of reach. All he could do was kick out fruitlessly.

 “Got the drop on you, huh?” the man taunted. “What can you do now?”

 Alistair tried moving his trapped fingers to get his hand into a better position to block the wire. But all he managed to do was get the wire to cut further into them. All that came from his mouth in response to the pain was a pitiful short rush of air.

 All his kicking and squirming did nothing, and his motions soon started to weaken. His eyelids fluttered as black began to invade the edges of his vision. Breath on the back of his neck, cutting pain on the front and sides of it, his heart beating loudly in his ears…

 Alistair didn’t hear the running approaching footsteps, but he did hear the swear near his ear right before the wire finally, mercifully, released it’s hold around him.

 “Get after him!”

 Yates’ voice. The captain’s face came into view a second later as he knelt beside Alistair and gently pushed him over onto his back. He grimaced at the line of blood around Alistair’s neck, broken where his fingers had been.

 Only then did Alistair’s body remember how to breathe. The gasps sounded harsh and strained as he desperately took in air.

 “I’ve got you, sir,” Yates assured.

 Alistair raised his hurting hand to see it, blood trickling from the slices on the backs of his fingers down to his face.

 Yates took Alistair’s wrist to move it away. “Your neck looks the same, I’m afraid.” He glanced down the corridor at the shouting and sounds of a struggle. “Benton and Watson. Sounds like they’ve got him.” Yates looked back to Alistair, who had only slightly calmed his breathing. “Benton heard you cry out. Barely so. He radioed for back-up.”

 Alistair nodded. “J-Just… time…”

 Yates flashed a reassuring smile as he helped Alistair sit up against the wall. He tilted his head back to get a better look at the wound the wire had left. “Yeah, lucky for us.”  

Chapter Text

 “Nyssa?” Tegan called out. She stopped someone passing by with a bag of shopping in their hands. “”Hello, sorry, have you seen a young woman recently around here? Looks Human like me, about my height, long brown hair, wearing a blue-striped skirt?”

 At the shake of the person’s head, Tegan sighed and continued walking through the crowded street of shops.

 Nyssa had been gone for a few hours now, not having met them at the appointed place and time. With Tegan’s experience, it was never good when one of them did a disappearing act like this. She and the Doctor had split up to find her.

 Tegan stopped a couple, who pointed in a direction. She thanked them, and hurried that way.

 “Nyssa? Where are you?” Tegan emerged from the crowded streets, and sincerely hoped Nyssa wasn’t back there. Trying to find one person amongst that dense throng would be very difficult. “Where’ve you gone?” Tegan sighed heavily and muttered, “You know I hate being worried about you. Not that that’s anything new, not with our adventures in the Tardis and all. But I still don’t like it, you know?”

 Tegan kept going in the direction, calling out Nyssa’s name.

 “Looking for someone?” A man asked.

 “Uh… yes.” Tegan gave the description.

 The man nodded. “Saw her around here not long ago, before I went into that vehicle shop over there.”

 “Thank you so much.” There was no assurance that Nyssa would still be around here, but she would look all the same.

 Tegan glanced back to see the tall clock tower. She was due to meet back with the Doctor soon, and unless the Doctor had found Nyssa, Tegan was determined not to go back to him without her.

 “Come on… come on…” Tegan glanced down the side streets and alleys as she went. She nearly missed the pair of legs sticking out from the other side of a dumpster. She practically skid to a stop when it registered in her mind. She walked backwards to see it again.

 It could’ve just been a person sleeping in the alley, for whatever reason. But no, Tegan knew it wasn’t that, not with those familiar shoes on the feet.

 “Nyssa!” Tegan cried out, running into the alley. She dropped to her knees in front of the woman.

 Nyssa was unconscious, hopefully no more than that, lying on her side, eyes closed and body still. Her face and bare forearms were scratched and bruised. And there was a line of half-dried blood running down her face from a cut on her temple. Tegan let out a little breath of relief at seeing the slight rise and fall of Nyssa’s chest.

 “Nyssa?” Tegan touched the other’s shoulder and gently shook her. “Nyssa? Wake up, it’s me. It’s Tegan.” She leaned over to kiss Nyssa’s forehead, taking care not to touch the bruise on it. “It’s me, love. Please, do wake up?”

 Tegan winced and glanced around. She couldn’t carry Nyssa on her own, and leaving her here to go get the Doctor was completely out of the question. The Doctor would just have to wait, then.

 It took another minute of encouraging from Tegan, but finally, Nyssa’s eyelids slowly opened.

 “Te… Tegan?”

 “Oh, thank goodness.”

 Nyssa flinched and shivered as Tegan tenderly helped her sit up.

 “Nyssa, who did this to you?” She kept the anger out of her voice as much as she could. Of course she was angry, finding the woman she loved in such a state. Someone had attacked her, that was obvious. If Nyssa could tell her this, she had more than half a mind to find the person herself and give them a piece of her mind.

 Nyssa blinked rapidly several times. “I… I don’t know. They came from behind, and it happened so fast, I didn’t really get a look at them.”

 “That’s… that’s alright, love.” Tegan smiled softly. “All that really matters is that you’re alright, yeah?” She sat beside her and hugged her close.

 A few minutes later, Tegan asked, “Think you can walk? We’re supposed to meet with the Doctor soon.”

 Nyssa nodded. “Can’t have him worried about the both of us.”

 “We were already worried enough about you.” Tegan helped Nyssa up to unsteady feet, and put her arm around her waist to help support her. Still, she wished she could’ve had a little measure of retaliation against whoever had attacked Nyssa.

Chapter Text

 The Doctor didn’t know the reason, but for the past few days, Jamie had been… withdrawn. Quietly so. Worryingly so. Normally, Jamie would barely let him out of out sight, unless he was sleeping. But recently, the young man had been more distant from him.

 At first, he thought it was simply because they had recently invited along Victoria, so Jamie would be excited to have someone new along. But even when with her, he was quieter than usual, after the initial excitement wore off.

 The Doctor set to Tardis to land in a peaceful place he knew. Victoria needed someplace quiet, and it would give the Doctor a neutral place to talk to Jamie. Now that he thought on it, he suspected the reason. He hoped the Tardis would be in the mood to cooperate with his intent.

 The central rotor stopped, and the Doctor opened the doors to step outside and make certain they had materialized in the correct area. He smiled and took a deep breath through his nose.

 He took a moment to himself to think his suspicions through. It couldn’t be anything else, certainly. Jamie had been quite upset about it. And it seemed, even though the Doctor had apologized and explained himself… Jamie was still upset with him.

 The Doctor took another deep breath before going back inside to call for the other two.

 It took a couple of minutes for them to appear. Victoria first, then Jamie about thirty seconds later. The Doctor grinned and gestured to the open outer doors. “It’s beautiful outside.”

 Victoria hurried over and smiled. “It is!”

 “Go on, enjoy the flowers.” For that was where he had wanted to be, in a beautiful lush field of flowers and trees, as far as the eye could see.

 Victoria rushed out. The Doctor followed more slowly and stopped only a few meters from the Tardis. He heard Jamie stop a little distance behind him.

 “It is a beautiful place you’ve brought us to. Or shall I say the Tardis brought us to?”

 The Doctor smiled at the familiar teasing. “This was precisely my intent, I’ll have you know.”

 “Someplace nice to have a good rest for a while.”

 The Doctor waited until Jamie had come closer to finally ask, “Jamie, do you… do you trust me?”

 “Doctor?”

 “Just answer the question, please?” The hesitation from the other man told him what he needed to know. And didn’t that serve a blow to both his hearts. A deep bruising blow. “So… you don’t?” If he lost Jamie’s trust, Jamie’s love… He didn’t want to think about how much that would hurt.

 “No, no, I wouldn’t say that. It’s just…” Jamie went to stand next to the Timelord.

 “You’ve been rather distant from me. You’re still upset over what happened with the Daleks. What you thought I did.”

 Jamie shook his head. “Yes, I mean, I shouldn’t be, but I-“

 The Doctor raised his hand to stop the stammered response. “It’s alright, I understand.”

 Jamie’s head shook again. “You explained it all, and apologized, and… and everything turned out as well as it could’ve. I shouldn’t be upset.”

 “Perhaps you do think that. But the fact is you still are.” The Doctor moved to stand in front of the younger man to face him. “You’re a man of integrity, Jamie McCrimmon. You have every right to… be wary of me for a while after that.” He looked down. “I’m sorry, for all of that.”

 Jamie grabbed the Doctor’s hands between his. “I know you are. It just… stings a little, still.” He stepped in close, and swallowed. “I said things I didn’t really mean. I do trust you. I mean that.”

 The Doctor’s hearts seemed to lift in his chest as his head lifted to meet Jamie’s gaze.

 “It was only… shaken a little.”

 “Still is. You can admit it.” The Doctor flashed a teasing grin. “Why else would you not be nearly constantly in my company?”

 Jamie chuckled nervously. “Aye…”

 The Doctor’s gaze returned to their hands. “Is there anything I can do to make it up to you?”

 Jamie looked around at the beautiful landscape. “This is a very good start. Another would be us staying here for at least a few days?”

 The Doctor half-turned to look in the direction Victoria had gone, seeing her in the distance, wandering around. “Exactly what I had in mind, my dear.”

 “And… one more thing?”

 The Doctor turned his attention back to him. “Yes? Name it.”

 “Try… try not to do that again? It really did frighten me, and made me think a lot of things I’d rather not think again.”

 “I’ll do my best, I promise. I would never purposely bring any harm to you.”

 Jamie took a deep inhale, and breathed it out slowly. He smiled, a genuine one. “That’s it.” He took another breath. “I feel better.”

 “So do I.”

 Without another word, the pair settled in a familiar position, side-by-side and holding hands. They walked through the flowers together.

Chapter Text

 “Oh, Captain Yates, I didn’t know you were-“

 Mike turned to the corporal entering the room, leaving himself open to the other three men in the room. Benton, the closest to Mike, took advantage, kicking the gun from his hand, then looping his arm around Mike’s neck.

 Mike immediately stopped, nearly making his body go slack. He trembled in Benton’s strong hold. He didn’t fight back, not having any interest in doing so. Golden Age’s grasp on him wasn’t that tight. He still was able to make some choices for good, and this… this whole encounter in this room was one of them.

Finally. He’d been caught. This was over. His part in this was done. His betrayal was done.

 Only a moment later, the Brigadier’s voice, quiet in his shock of what happened, ordered, “Sergeant, take him… take him somewhere.”

 “Yes, sir,” Benton responded. The emotion in those two words alone betrayed his anger and confusion at all this.

 Mike didn’t say anything, nothing to defend himself, nothing at all. He didn’t deserve any kindness or pity or anything of that sort, not after his own weakness allowed this to happen.

 Benton marched Yates out of the room, to the one he’d had a couple of the others set up for the Doctor. It would be secure enough with the handcuffs Benton had.

 He couldn’t believe this. Captain Mike Yates? The traitor? How could it possibly be? But it was. He, the Doctor, and the Brigadier had spent a couple of minutes alone with Mike, and… and… Well, he was grateful Mike wasn’t talking right now. Not after how… unsettling that conversation had been.

 Benton nearly walked past the makeshift cell in his distraction. He kept his arm around Mike as he pushed open the door to the small room with a camp bed against a wall. He shoved the other man in ahead of him.

 Mike didn’t try push past Benton out the door, didn’t do anything except stand in the middle of the room.

 “On the…” Benton needed to take a breath. “Sit on the bed, Captain.”

 Mike nodded and silently followed the command.

 It took Benton another few seconds to realize what he was supposed to do, then took out the handcuffs and locked one end around Mike’s wrist. The other he secured around a radiator attached to the wall next to the bed.

 The clink of the metal cuff locking seemed to echo in Benton’s ears. How was it that he was doing this? Locking up Mike in some back room in a school, in the middle of a crisis?

 “Benton?”

 The sergeant grimaced at Mike’s voice.

 “John?”

 “What?” Benton snapped, his anger coming through again.

 “For… for what it’s worth, I’m sorry.” Mike couldn’t quite meet the other man’s eyes.

 “You drew your gun on me!” Benton hissed. “Not to mention-“ He swallowed heavily past the lump in his throat. “Not to mention everything else!”

 “I-I’m sorry for this.”

 Benton couldn’t be here, in this room with the man he loved, when that man was part of the danger they were facing. He couldn’t bear to look at him now. Besides, he needed to go, needed to help the Brigadier and the Doctor in what was to come next. He was grateful there was more to be done now, grateful that he had a reason to leave.

 “Mike…” Benton started. But he couldn’t find the state of mind to express how much this hurt, how much it had been like a shot to the heart when Mike had aimed his gun at him.

 So, he simply turned and left. The door behind him slammed shut more than necessary.

 Benton knew he was needed back soon, but he… he needed a moment to himself. He ducked into a classroom. He sank down at the teacher’s desk and put his face in his hands.

 “Mike…” he whispered. “I… I don’t… why…” Tears dampened his closed eyes.

 ********

 After ordering the corporal to try to call back the UNIT troops, Alistair pulled the Doctor to the back of the room. “Captain Yates…”

 “I know,” the Doctor replied. “But we can’t really afford to think about it right now.”

 “Not think about it? I’ve just lost one of my best men. One who I was counting on in this situation, like I have with so many others.”

 “Brigadier, we need to focus. I know this is a hit to us, but we’ve got to deal with it later. We can do this without him.”

 Alistair put his hands down on the table and lowered his head. “Captain Yates… I don’t… understand how… or why…” Yates walking in with his gun drawn and threatening them, him being involved in this whole mess, him saying it didn’t matter if they lived or died if Operation Golden Age was successful… It had been like a punch to the chest. How could be betray them like this? Betray everything he lived for like this?

 The Doctor put a hand on Alistair’s shoulder. “I have a suspicion, but it’ll have to wait.”

 Alistair didn’t straighten up, only shaking his head.

 “Brigadier. Alistair.” The Doctor tapped the other man’s shoulder. “We’ll ask him the hows and whys later. We still have a world to save.”

 With a heavy heart, Alistair lifted his head. “Yes… yes, of course.”

Chapter Text

 “Just our luck, being in a place where we can’t eat anything,” Steven grumbled. He grunted as the Doctor in front of him accidently sent a thin branch smacking back into his chin.

 “Yeah,” Vicki sighed. “If I’d known that, I would’ve eaten a lot before we left the Tardis.”

 “And now we have to trek a long way just to find the Tardis,” Steven continued. “Actually, just hoping we do find it at the end of this.”

 “A long trek without being able to eat any of those delicious-looking fruits…”

 The Doctor huffed, “Are you two finished complaining?”

 “I would be,” Steven replied, “If I’d eaten anything in the past… fifteen hours?”

 “Longer, I’m sure.”

 “Yes, that is rather unfortunate-“ The Doctor ducked under a large branch. “But I’m certain we’ll find the Tardis before you really get hungry.”

 “Before we do?” Vicki echoed. “What about you? Don’t tell me you don’t get hungry.”

 “Of course I do, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to complain about it, my child.” The Timelord tapped his temple. “Mind over matter, yes? Perhaps you both should try it.”

 Steven and Vicki blew out breaths of annoyance. “Guess that’s told us,” Steven remarked.

 “Can’t hurt to try.”

 ********

 The trio had spent the night at an empty but frequently-used campsite. There weren’t many dangers around, and the supplies meant they were able to sleep as comfortably as possible in the circumstances. But there wasn’t any food, bar the kind they couldn’t eat.

 In the morning, those very fruits tempted Steven, until Vicki clapped her hands up near his ears.

 “Don’t think about it, my boy,” the Doctor verbally reminded.

 “Right, right, got it…” But Steven’s stomach rumbled louder than it had been before, being an audible reminder of what his body needed.

 ********

 Vicki’s arms tightened as she slightly adjusted he position on Steven’s back. Her body was feeling weak from lack of food, and her abdomen had begun to cramp not long ago.

 “You alright back there?” Steven asked, squeezing the girl’s wrist.

 “M-hm.”

 “Think you can return the favour later?”

 Vicki chuckled at the joke.

 Steven looked aside to the Doctor. “How are you holding up?”

 “As well as I need to.”

 “Come on, you can admit that you’re just as hungry as the two of us are.”

 “Mind over matter, remember?” Vicki lightly chided.

 “Yes, that’s still mostly working for me,” the Doctor answered.  

 ********

 Several hours later, the three were definitely feeling the full effects of going over a full day without food.

 Steven had his arm around Vicki’s shoulders, and she had her arm around his waist. They’d both been feeling spells of dizziness. The random cramps in their abdomens had steadily become more intense.

 The Doctor wasn’t showing signs of weakness as much as the other two, but Steven and Vicki still saw it. He stumbled more and needed to rest more often.

 But they couldn’t keep stopping to rest, despite their weakness and hunger pains. The sooner they got through this and found the Tardis, the sooner they could eat and rest to regain their strength.

 But the more they pushed themselves to keep going, the more energy they spent. Energy they couldn’t replenish despite all the fruit on the trees and plants around them.

 The longer they went, the more tempting the fruit was. They had to keep reminding themselves and each other of the poison the fruit contained.

 At least the water was fine, although drinking didn’t do much at all to sate their hunger.

 ********

 “Know what I dreamed last night?” Vicki asked mid-yawn.

 “If it was about food, don’t say a word,” Steven replied.

 “How’d you…” Vicki groaned at a particularly painful cramp. “Guess?”

 “Because I did, too.”

 “Could both of you not mention that?” the Doctor requested, his voice tense.

 Their moods had certainly begun to be affected now. All three were more irritable and less talkative.

 Not long after they had awakened, it was Steven who nearly fainted first. It took Vicki and the Doctor to stop him from completely falling to the ground. They nearly fell with him.

 They settled Steven with his back against a tree and had to hold him up to prevent him from sliding down.

 “Come on, Steven,” Vicki encouraged. “We’ve got to… got to keep going.”

 “Gather your strength,” the Doctor said, feeling Steven’s face for any signs of any other illness.

 Steven’s arm cradled around his abdomen. “Sorry… so tired… can’t…” He pitched forward, and the other two had to struggle to keep him upright.

 “Come on. Keep going. I think we’re nearly out of this forest,” the Doctor said.

 “…Tardis…” Steven mumbled. His eyes closed, and this time he fell to the ground.

Chapter Text

 The Doctor raised his arms up in front of his face, but his reaction was too late. He cried out as the shockwave from the explosive blast outside the enormous open window knocked him off his feet and backwards down to the floor. The accompanying white flash did far more damage to the Timelord.

 The unbearably intense light hit his eyes before he could’ve even closed them or gotten his arms up to protect them. Now they were closed, eyelids squeezing from the agony that lingered. He turned onto his side, keeping his hands over his face. Long hisses came through clenched teeth.

 “Master?”

 The Doctor heard K9 wheel close to him.

 “Master? Are you injured?”

 “Give me a moment,” the Doctor groaned. He slowly rolled over onto his back. The afterimage of the light seemed to have burned into his eyelids. Mercifully, that quickly faded away into darkness.

 K9 rolled forward to nudge the Doctor’s side.

 “I said a moment.” The Doctor’s arm came up to wave the metal dog away.

 He took several deep breaths to work through the pain in his eyes and head. Then he slowly opened his eyes. Only to be met with pitch blackness. “K9, did the power go out?”

 “No, Master. The power is fully functional.”

 “Then why’s it so dark?”

 “The lights are fully functional.”

 “Oh…” The Doctor inhaled deeply. “Oh no…” He rubbed at his eyes, but that did nothing to remedy the darkness. In a panic, he shot up to a sitting position, his elbow bumping K9 on the way. He whipped his head around, trying to see something, anything. He winced when he still only saw the blackness.

 “K9, I-I can’t see. I’m blind.”

 “The intensity of the light-“

 “Yes, yes, I know why.” The Doctor’s dismissive hand accidently smacked into K9’s ears, and he drew it back. “It’s… This is going to be difficult.” He shook his head, then closed his eyes in the vain hope when he opened them again, he would be fine. He grunted in frustration when everything was just as dark as before.

 “No need to panic… No need to panic…” he muttered.

 “Affirmed. There is no need to panic. I am here,” K9 responded. “I can assist.”

 The Doctor awkwardly patted at the robot, catching his face instead of back like he intended. “Yes, yes you are.”

 The Timelord pushed himself to his feet. He swayed uncertainly for a long moment.

 “Master?”

 “Let me get my bearings. Or I would… if I could see anything to set my bearings with.”

 “Stand still,” K9 advised.

 “That makes sense.” The Doctor shook several breaths to calm himself, although he did keep moving his head around in the hope he would see something. “Now I know how Sarah felt,” he said quietly. “Oh, Sarah…” With nothing to see in reality, he brought forth a memory of her in his mind. Wrapped in that pink shawl as she had begun to panic about being blind. The corners of his mouth lifted at something he had said to her. “If only you were here to threaten to bite my nose.”

 “I do not understand the request.”

 The Doctor sighed. “Never you mind, K9.” The Timelord took two steps forward, and into K9, nearly tripping completely over him. “Sorry.”

 “Suggestion, Master.”

 The Doctor dropped his head. Being blind, even temporarily, was very much going to slow him down. Not something he liked while in the middle of urgent situations. “Go ahead.”

 “I could lead you.”

 The Doctor was silent for several seconds, until he couldn’t help the little laugh. “Yes, like a guide dog.” He felt around him before he kneeled down. “Excellent idea.”

 The Doctor unwound the scarf from around his neck, and felt for K9’s neck.

 “I suppose a lead would be advisable,” K9 responded with a hint of displeasure at the idea of being on one.

 “It’s for me, not for you,” the Timelord said as he tied the end of the scarf to the dog. “Certainly would make this easier for both of us.”

 “Indeed.”

 The Doctor didn’t say it out loud, but he would’ve preferred if it was Sarah guiding him. He knew K9 would be more than adequate at the task, but…. “Alright, K9, let’s start by getting to the lift, going down to the streets, and see if we can find out the source of that explosion.”

 “Master, is that wise? Should you not rest?”

 “Rest? Whyever for? I have no idea how long my condition will last. Could be an hour, could be a day. Rassilon forbid longer than that. I’m hardly going to sit around and do nothing for however long it takes.” Sarah hadn’t let her temporary blindness stop her from doing what needed to be done, and neither would he. “Lead on, K9.”

Chapter Text

 Mel turned her head to check on how far she and the Doctor were from the people chasing them through the streets. It only took the couple seconds of not looking ahead for her to not see the door of a business had opened.

 Mel cried out and fell backwards to the ground. She coughed from the hard impact to her chest.

 The Doctor ahead of her skid to a stop and spun around, his rainbow coat flicking around him. “Mel!” He rushed to her and kneeled at her side. “Mel?”

 Mel groaned and raised her hand to the right side of her chest. “No doubt it’ll bruise,” she said with a hiss of pain.

 “Come on, we’ve got to lose them.” The Doctor took Mel’s arm and pulled her up to her feet.

 Mel stumbled, and the Doctor had to hold her steady for a second.

 “Steady?” the Timelord asked.

 “Enough.” She kept hold of his hand as they started running again.

 But Mel almost immediately felt something wasn’t right with her breathing. She’d already been a little out of breath from the running, but now it was hurting. Each time she inhaled, a spike of pain flared in the right side of her chest.

 Mel couldn’t quite get her breathing into a rhythm, something she knew how to do while running. They came in quick and uneven bursts. She could feel her heartrate increasing as well. Something… something definitely wasn’t right.

 They ran for at least another few minutes before the Doctor pulled Mel into a store and ducked behind the storekeeper counter. “Our apologies,” he said to the confused storekeeper. “There are some unsavory people looking for us.”

 “Then… I guess you can stay here,” the young man said.

 “Thank you,” Mel replied. A hiss and groan came out with it. Her hand again went up to grasp at her chest.

 The Doctor turned his full attention to his friend. He put one hand on her shoulder, and one over her hand on her chest. “What is it?”

 “Running into that door really hurt.” She squeezed her eyes shut. “I feel… dizzy, and… and it hurts to breathe.” She still couldn’t breathe properly, even though she was now resting, sitting on the floor and leaning back.

 “You don’t look perfectly well,” the Doctor agreed. 

 “Doctor…” Mel shook her head to keep herself focused on their situation. “Think we’re safe?”

 The Doctor cautiously raised his head to see over the counter. “Well, if they’d seen us come in here, they would’ve come in by now.” He ducked back down. “I think we’re safe.”

 Mel closed her eyes again, keeping them closed this time. Her hand fisted in her shirt and twisted the fabric. “Doctor… I can’t… hurts to breathe…”

 The Doctor caressed Mel’s cheek to comfort her. He looked up to the shopkeeper. “Where’s the nearest hospital?” He listened to the directions and nodded. “Thank you.”

 He gently tapped Mel’s cheek. “Hey, come on. I’ll get you to help.” He looked over the counter again. “We’ll wait a little longer to make certain they’ve gone.”

 Mel weakly nodded and shivered. She still couldn’t breathe correctly through the pain, and it scared her.

 “Thank you for allowing us to hide here,” the Doctor said to the shopkeeper after the time had passed. Then he gently pulled Mel up to her feet.

 Once outside the shop, he lifted her bridal-style into his arms. He wasn’t going to have her walk the way to the hospital, not when the simple act of breathing hurt her so much.

 ********

 A couple hours later, a doctor came to see the Timelord in the hospital’s waiting room.

 “She’s being treated for a partial collapsed lung. The right one.”

 “How bad is it?”

 “I expect she’ll fully recover, as long as she rests long enough after we release her from our care.”

 The Doctor let out a relieved breath. “Good. That’s very good. When can I see her?”

Chapter Text

 “Benton! Over here!” the Doctor shouted out as he ran towards the prone form on the ground. The sounds of leaves crunching under his shoes accompanied the Timelord’s frantic steps.

 He dropped to his knees when he reached the person, grimacing when he saw it was definitely the Brigadier. The man was mostly on his front, one arm half-covering his face. His eyes were closed, and a quick shake to his shoulder didn’t cause any reaction.

 “Brigadier? Alistair?” The Doctor shook his shoulder again, less gently this time. He glanced behind him at another set of running steps. “There you are, Benton.” He returned his attention back to Alistair.

 The Doctor turned the man over and felt his neck for a pulse. He expected it to be there, if weak from whatever had happened to him. But it wasn’t there. “No, no, that can’t be right…”

 Benton skid to a stop beside the Doctor. “What isn’t right?”

 The Doctor lifted Alistair’s forearm, the hand completely limp. He put his fingers to the wrist. “No, come on…” No pulse thumped against his fingers. “Don’t you dare!” he hissed.

 “Doctor, what is it?”

 The Timelord swallowed heavily, and lowered his head to Alistair’s chest, hoping to feel or hear anything. He couldn’t. “There’s… there’s nothing. No… no pulse, no breathing… nothing.”

 “What? No, that can’t-“ Benton kneeled, and the Doctor moved aside to let him find out for himself.

 The Doctor sat back, staring ahead at nothing. Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, dead? That… that didn’t feel right. Not at all. For him to die alone, face-down in some dirt field. This… it couldn’t be right.

 “Doctor…” Benton’s voice broke.

 A confirmation, then. The Doctor’s eyes closed. Alistair, his friend through so much, was gone. “So…” he began, but let his voice trail away, unsure of what he even meant to say.

 “But… how? I mean-“

 “It got him before he could get it,” the Doctor stated flatly. His jaw clenched at the sob that escaped Benton’s throat.

 Benton fully sat and pulled the dead man into his lap. “Sir, please… please don’t…”

 Hearing Benton’s grief, the Doctor knew he couldn’t sit here with them. He needed to do something. It wouldn’t bring Alistair back, but it still should be done.

 With a long exhale, the Doctor’s eyes opened. He unwound his scarf from his neck and gently placed it on Alistair’s torso. He didn’t know why. Perhaps a silly attempt to keep him warm, as though it would help him recover.

 “Doctor? What are you doing?” Benton asked as the Timelord pushed himself up to his feet.

 “I’m going after that creature, before it can… can do this to anyone else.”

 “I’ll come with-“

 “No.” The Doctor heavily swallowed, then more softly said, “No, Benton. You… you stay with him.”

 With that, he chose a direction at random, and started running.

 ********

 Two hours later, the Doctor returned to where he had left Benton and Alistair, empty-handed. He hadn’t been able to find the creature, and decided it would be best to return and not have to force Benton into sending out a search party for him.

 He found a handheld radio on the ground instead of the sergeant and brigadier. He picked it up, and hesitantly said into it, “Benton? It’s the Doctor. Where are you?”

 The reply came a few seconds later. “I’m back at the jeep.”

 The Doctor nodded, although there was no one around to see it. “Alright. I’ll be there soon.”

 He didn’t hurry. There was no reason to. The sooner he returned the Benton, the sooner he would have to face the reality. And that was truly a reality he didn’t want to face.

 About ten minutes later, he groaned as he found the jeep. The empty one that Alistair had used to get here was gone, and he didn’t see the man himself inside the one with Benton.

 Benton got out of the driver’s seat to explain, “I called for a few of the lads and the ambulance. They’ll… take care of things for a while.”  It was clear the soldier had been crying for some time. While the tear tracks were mostly gone, the redness of his eyes betrayed his emotion.

 Benton cleared his throat. “Did you find it?”

 The Doctor shook his head. “I think we’ll need a whole platoon. I doubt it’s stayed in this area, anyway.”

 “I’ll… I’ll get on it.” Despite the words, Benton didn’t move.

 The Doctor joined him in leaning back against the vehicle. After a long silent moment, he asked, “Did you find anything on him?”

 Benton shook his head. “I suppose not all de…” He heavily swallowed. “Deadly wounds are visible.”

 “No, they’re not.”

 Benton’s mouth opened and closed several times, before he said, “He’s… he’s been here since the start for me. And now…”

 “For me as well. Before UNIT. It’ll be difficult to imagine…”

 “UNIT without him?” Benton finished.

 “Especially like this.”

 The pair stood there, in quiet grief, the only sound the gentle breeze rustling the leaves around them.

 A little while later, a loud crackle from inside the jeep startled both men. Sarah’s voice came through the small radio unit. “Doctor? Benton? Are you there?”

 Benton reached inside to grab the radio. “Miss Smith?”

 “We’re here, Sarah,” the Doctor responded.

 “He’s alive!”

 “What?” Both men asked in unison.

 “The brigadier! He’s alive!”

 The Doctor and Benton glanced to each other in disbelief.

 “They pronounced him and had scheduled his autopsy for later today. But then his heart and breathing started up. He’s alive!”

 “Must’ve been a sort of poison that temporarily slowed his bodily functions to as close to zero as you can get before death, and-“

 “What?” Benton asked.

 “Oh, never mind. Come on, Benton. Let’s go! We’ve got a living brigadier to see!”

Chapter Text

 Pathetic. Weak. Coward. Useless… Pathetic excuse of a soldier… The black void of pain…

 Mike flinched at the knock to the bedroom door. Not the one at home in his apartment with Benton. No, one at the Buddhist Meditation Centre. He took a deep breath, but didn’t answer it, not feeling up to company at the moment.

 The knock came again, this time accompanied by a soft, “Mr Yates?”

 Cho-Je. Or K’Anpo, really, not that anyone called him that. Not with only Mike and Tommy knowing that secret.

 “Mr Yates, are you there?”

 Mike wearily stood. He couldn’t ignore Cho-Je, not after all the help he was giving him. Besides, he was here for this weekend, like he had been coming every weekend for the past couple months, for a reason. He couldn’t hide from it.

 Mike’s hand hesitated a little before turning the knob, another tiny sign of his mood. He put on a strained smile as he opened the door.

 “Ah, there you are, Mr Yates.” Cho-Je tilted his head. “Are you alright? You missed today’s group session.”

 Mike’s eyes widened. “I did?” He blew out a breath. “I’m sorry. I suppose I… lost of track of time.” He’d been mentally drifting again, into those thoughts.

 “May I come in?” Cho-Je asked.

 Mike stepped aside to allow the Timelord in, though he said, “I wouldn’t want to take up any of your time, if you’re busy.”

 “You know I’m never too busy when someone needs me.”

 “Right, of course.” Mike closed the door.

 Cho-Je sat on the chair at the small desk. He looked expectantly at Mike, but didn’t push him to immediately talk.

 Mike took a deep breath and paced the room a few times. Then he stopped and looked to Cho-Je. “I’m sorry. I… feel worse. And it… it frustrates me.”

 “You’ve been improving since starting here, yes?”

 Mike nodded. “But the past few days… it’s all hurting again. As much as before.” He heavily sat on the edge of the bed.

 “Ah, I see…”

 “Those… those bad thoughts… Of course they come and go, but they… they haven’t gone.” Mike cleared his throat as it felt like something had lodged in it. “And it’s… been building up, I think.”

 Cho-Je nodded. “I see how that would be frustrating.”

 “I have been doing the meditation techniques at home, but it…” He harshly exhaled.

 “They aren’t helping as much as they have been?” Cho-Je guessed.

 Mike nodded. “It feels… feels like a set-back. And with those thoughts telling me how stupid and pathetic I am, it feels like… like regression.”

 Cho-Je hummed. “A set-back does not have to be permanent. They can be temporary, especially if you are continuing to do your best to progress.”

 “I know. But it’s disheartening, like all this work I’m doing, all this work you’re helping me with, means nothing. That… that in the end, I’ll be lost again.”

 Cho-Je stood and stepped closer, but not close enough to invade Mike’s personal space.

 Mike could only stare down at his hands clenched together in his lap. Pathetic, useless, weak…

 “Michael?”

 Mike’s gaze flinched up to the Timelord.

 “What you’ve been through, in the life you came from… Very few of your kind could ever experience that trauma. The comings and goings of those terrible thoughts don’t make you weak. I know it doesn’t always feel like it, but you are very strong, Michael Yates.”

 A corner of Mike’s mouth twitched upwards at the encouragement. “Th-thanks for saying so.”

 “I believe it. I truly do. You don’t give up.” Cho-Je opened his separated his hands, indicating that he wanted to get into Mike’s space and touch him.

 Mike gave a tiny nod and watery smile.

 Cho-Je closed the short distance between them, and put his hands around Mike’s. Mike glanced down at them for a moment. The beads around the other man’s fingers pressed into the back of one of his hands, but in a comforting sort of way.

 “Shall we meditate together?”

 Mike’s nod this time was more certain.

 ********

The next night, Mike practically melted into Benton’s arms when he got home.

 “Doing alright, love?” Benton asked softly.

 “Yeah, I… I had a sort of flare-up for a couple days before I went.”

 Benton nodded and kissed Mike’s forehead.

 Mike’s hands moved from Benton’s back to rest against his chest. “Those are going to happen, you know? But as frustrating as it is, as much as it hurts, I can get through it.”

Chapter Text

 The Doctor stumbled as the guard behind him shoved him forward into a room. “No need to push,” he admonished. He straightened and took a proper look around.

He froze at seeing the large window, or rather, who was on the other side of it. “Ace!” He rushed to the window. They had caught her, as well, several hours after capturing him.

 Three guards grabbed him and held him back. The Timelord struggled against them, calling out his young friend’s name. They’d handcuffed her to a chair.

 “She can’t hear you.”

 The Doctor turned to the man who spoke, the man who was in charge of this situation. “Ah… Loren, correct?”

 Loren smiled and nodded. “As you can see, we did finally manage to catch your little friend.”

 The Doctor made another attempt to lunge at the window when he saw someone enter the door on her side. “Ace!”

 “She can’t hear or see us.”

 “Two-way mirror?”

 “Exactly.”

 Almost to prove the point, Ace glanced from the woman who had entered her side to the window. She gave no reaction to the Doctor’s presence.

 The Doctor locked his eyes on Loren. “Alright, you’ve got both of us in your hands. What now? Why not just lock her in a cell, or better yet, in the same cell as me?” He didn’t struggle as the guards pushed him down to sit in a chair and cuffed his wrists to it.

 “Simply doing that wouldn’t be as useful,” Loren answered.

 The Doctor focused on Ace again, seeing her mouth moving, no doubt talking to the woman. “What’s this set-up for? An interrogation? I doubt we’ll be of any use to you if that is the intent. She especially won’t be.”

 Loren didn’t respond, instead opting to press a button on a small console next to the window.

 “-what you did with the Doctor,” Ace’s voice came through speakers. “Come on, answer me.”

 The woman said nothing, standing behind Ace at a counter.

 Loren spoke. “I know you’re a troublemaker, Doctor.”

 “My reputation precedes me?”

 “Call it instinct. And you can call this me proving to you that I will not tolerate that.”

 The Doctor’s eyes widened when the woman secured a headband around Ace’s head.

 “Hey, what is that?” Ace demanded, moving her head to try to get it off.

 “You better not hurt her!” the Doctor hissed.

 “How else to ensure to you that I am serious?” Loren replied.

 “No, don’t you dare! Don’t you-“

 Ace’s loud cry of pain came through the speakers, cutting off the Doctor’s protest. She clenched her jaw to stop any more sounds of pain as headband stopped.

 The Doctor turned his angered gaze to Loren. “I said don’t hurt her!”

 “All you can, and will, do is watch. And hopefully learn.”

 Ace’s next cry turned into a scream. Her hands clenched into fists and her eyes squeezed shut.

 “Loren stop this, now!”

 “You won’t have learned so quickly,” Loren retorted.

 Ace’s voice quieted into quick breaths as the headband ceased its torment.

 “If you want to teach me a lesson, then do it to me, not her,” the Timelord seethed.

 Loren shook his head. “I doubt the lesson would stick, especially with you.”

 The Doctor’s entire body tensed, his hands tightening into fists, when Ace screamed again. “I’m here, Ace,” he said quietly, hoping she could somehow hear, knowing she couldn’t. “I’m here…”

Chapter Text

 Sarah cried out and closed her eyes as a tree rapidly approached. There wasn’t anything she or the Doctor could do with their parachute to avoid it. It wasn’t going to be good.

 The impact knocked the air from their lungs, cutting short their shouts when it happened. Sarah yelped when they fell another several inches before they jerked to a sudden stop. The harnesses of the parachute constricted around her chest.

 The Doctor looked up and groaned from the pain and what he saw of their situation. The parachute had gotten caught in the branches, leaving him and Sarah simply hanging from the large tree.

 “Doctor?”

 “Hm?” He turned his attention back to Sarah, though he wasn’t able to see anything except the top of her head.

 “We’re… we’re a long way up.” Sarah swallowed heavily and closed her eyes, feeling a wave of nausea. She anxiously shifted in the harness, making them swing a little. “Doctor?”

 “Don’t look down,” the Doctor advised.

 “Too late.”

 “How far up, then?” The Timelord looked back up to their entangled parachute. There wasn’t anything else he could do with that. He supposed that was the risk of parachuting into the middle of a forest. Not that they’d had any choice, of course. He had been aiming them for a small clearing, but… well, here they were stuck in a tree instead of a safe landing on the ground.

 “You want me to look down again? I’ll get sick.” Sarah opened her eyes anyway. “More than a few meters?” she guessed before quickly averting her gaze to straight ahead. “And uh… I think two branches underneath us.”

 “Good to know, because there’s only one way we’re getting out of this.”

 Sarah groaned. “I suppose so…”

 The Doctor fished around his jacket pockets and found his small pocketknife. “I’m cutting us loose, separately. It won’t be good to drop together. You’ll drop first. Try to grab the branch beneath us.”

 “Of course I was going to do that.” Sarah took a deep breath to prepare herself to fall again. This was going to hurt, no matter how well it went. She winced when one of the harnesses around her came loose and she slid down the Doctor a couple inches.

 “Second one. Get ready.”

 “As ready as I can be for dropping out of a tall tree.” She muttered, “This isn’t going to be good.”

 “Just about… there!”

 Sarah fell, and only barely managed to get over the shock of failing in time to grab the branch as she passed it. She clung to it, and looked up. “Doctor, I’ve got it!” She didn’t say that the branch didn’t feel very sturdy now that she was on it.

 “Alright, I’ll be down soon.”

 “Be careful!”

 A short moment later, the Doctor dropped. His hands caught the branch and Sarah’s forearm on the way down. Sarah heard the crack of the branch at the extra sudden weight only a second before it snapped.

 They both yelled as they feel the rest of the way. The Doctor’s leg caught the second branch, which was weaker than the first, and it also snapped.

 The pair landed hard in a heap on the ground. Sarah yelped at the immediate pain in her wrist, and the Doctor hissed at the sharp pain in his side.  

 Sarah turned onto her side and stared up. The shredded parachute looked very high up. She groaned, “Not good…”

 “Not the best landing, no.” The Doctor turned onto his back and closed his eyes. He felt around his ribcage. “Not the worst, though.”

 Sarah held up her injured hand and studied it for a short moment. “I suppose it could’ve been worse.” She rested her head against his upper arm.

Chapter Text

 “Benton! Over here!” Liz shouted out into the harsh winds of the storm. She could only hope the sergeant in the water could hear her.

 They had been among the last to be evacuated from the oil rig several miles off the coast of Norway. Unfortunately, that meant the helicopter that they were supposed to get on with the crew had nearly crashed when it had tried touching down again as the rig began to collapse under them. Which left Liz and Benton to fend for themselves and scramble for the lifeboats.

 Benton struggled to swim over, in the tossing waves and mayhem from the storm. Thankfully, it was only a short distance. Liz helped haul him up over the side of the small motorboat.

 Thunder boomed overhead, and lightning streaked across the sky only a couple seconds later. Rain pelted their faces as Benton engaged the motor and started to steer them in the direction he had last seen the shore,

 Another part of the rig exploded, sending another wave of fire and debris up into the air. At seeing one large piece coming towards them, Benton threw himself over Liz. They both cried in surprise as it struck the backside of the boat, nearly flipping them over.

 Benton quickly returned to motor and moved the yoke to steer, only to realize the motor wasn’t working. He tried restarting it, only to grunt in frustration as it didn’t.

 “Not working?” Liz asked, having to shout over the wind whipping around them.

 “Afraid not. That debris must’ve hit it.”

 “Lucky it didn’t blow, then.” Liz glanced around, not that there was much she could see in any direction, except the orange of the fiery and mostly-collapsed rig. “Great…”

 With nothing else they could do, the pair hunkered down in the middle of the boat, hoping the lightning wouldn’t strike them or the waves would capsize them.

 ********

 They’d been adrift for several hours. Mercifully, the storm hadn’t battered them too much. The boat was still upright, and they were not drowned or electrocuted.

 But they had drifted far from the rig, unable to see it, or any hint of land. Surely they would at least see the shape of land in the near-pitch blackness of the night.

 Liz violently shivered again, from being damp and from the chilly air. Nothing either of them could do about that. “Lost at sea,” she sighed.

 “They’ll find us.”

 “Maybe, but who knows how far we’ve drifted.” She shook her head, her damp hair clinging to her skin. “Not that I doubt the Doctor and the Brigadier and Captain Yates, but it might be a long shot.”

 Benton hummed, and tightened his arms around himself. “Maybe you’re right. You are the scientist, Miss.”

 “Sorry, Benton. I didn’t mean it like that. I mean…” She gave up and stared out at the endless dark water and sky. “I do have faith in them, of course.”

 “They’ll start searching where the rig went down and radiate out from there.”

 “No doubt the Doctor can estimate a good search zone, based on time.”

 Benton glared at the destroyed motor. “If only we could’ve gotten back to land ourselves. And even if we do see any land, we can’t get there ourselves.”

 Liz nudged the sergeant with her elbow. “At least the boat didn’t break, or we were stuck on a floating hunk of wood. I don’t fancy our chances at all if that had happened.”

 Benton sighed. “That’s true. I just don’t like being forced to sit here and do nothing to get us to safety.”

 “Me neither, but here we are.”

 They were quiet for a few minutes. Then Benton asked, “Do you think it’s more likely we might drift to Norway or to Britain?”

 “Well, if it gets noticeably colder, to northern Norway. Otherwise, Britain. I don’t know which is more likely, without having much knowledge of prevailing ocean currents and winds, or the sun to know which direction we’re going.”

 Benton took the chance for a light moment. “I thought you knew everything.”

 Liz chuckled. “Not quite everything.”

 ********

 As the morning sun climbed higher in the sky, Benton looked down to Liz, laying on her side with her head in his lap. He pulled his jacket spread over her up to shield her face from the light better. Best to let her sleep a little longer.

 He stared out again at the endless blue. “Come on, find us.” He glanced down as he felt her shiver under his hand on her upper arm. He blew a quick breath into his other hand, also feeling the chill.

 There were three possible outcomes. They kept floating in the open ocean, or washed ashore somewhere, or were rescued. One would, with little doubt, lead to their deaths. Benton shook his head to stop thinking about it. They would be rescued, he had to believe. No matter what the odds were the longer they drifted aimlessly.

 Benton looked out to the featureless water again. The two of them, lost, alone, and adrift.

Chapter Text

“All that arrogance…”

 The Doctor looked up, and slowly rose to one knee from the ground he’d been almost effortlessly thrown down to. He wiped the blood from his nose with the back of a hand. “There’s a difference between arrogance and confidence,” he retorted.

 “Fine, your confidence in your skill is misplaced against me.” The alien, about the Doctor’s size, replied. He waited for the Timelord to get to his feet before rushing at him.

 The Doctor sidestepped the attempted tackle, but didn’t realize how quickly his opponent could turn out of it. As he spun, the other man served a punch to his jaw.

 Another strike to his cheek quickly followed, stunning him long enough for a kick to thrust at his abdomen, which sent him staggering backwards. This time the tackle impacted, sending both men to the ground.

 The Doctor barely had any time to get his arms up to protect his face before the other man straddled his waist and started raining down blows. All the Doctor could do from this position was knee the other man in the back, but that didn’t seem to make much difference to the ferocity of the blows.

 Perhaps he had been overly confident in being able to take this adversary on by himself. He had the chance to stop him when he’d found him, and he’d taken it. But now, it wasn’t going his way.

 The Doctor cried out as a punch got through his defense. More blood spurted from his nose. He still had enough awareness through the stinging pain to sense the second of non-action from the other, and forced himself to roll over. The effort was just enough to knock the other man off him.

 The Doctor scurried backwards to give himself some space. The blood from his nose dripped into his mouth as he breathed heavily.

 The alien stood and smiled at him. Then he ran at him, intending to stomp down on his torso.

 The Doctor rolled to the side and shot up to his feet, only to be met with a hard knee to his stomach. A sharp elbow struck his upper back, sending him sprawling down on his front.

 The Doctor cried out at the heavy foot that came down on his lower back. He turned over to try to grab that foot, but received a kick across the face for his attempt. His hand received a stomp. Another one like that could leave him with broken fingers.

 He kicked out, hoping to catch his opponent’s lower legs. While the other man tripped, he didn’t go down. He served a hard kick to the Timelord’s side.

The Doctor’s arm curled around his injured side, and he breathed through clenched teeth.

 “Should’ve called for back-up,” the other man taunted.

 He really should have, the Doctor knew now. Still, perhaps if he waited for the other man to make a mistake, get too confident like he had accused the Doctor of being…

 The alien laughed as he grabbed the front of the Doctor’s shirt and easily hauled him up to his feet. The Doctor dropped down and maneuvered to throw the other man over him, but the savage kicks from before had done more damage than he had thought, making him weak enough for the alien to drag him down to the ground with him.

 They rolled over each other twice, until the Doctor was again underneath his opponent. This time, those hard punches got through easier, nearly knocking the Timelord unconscious.

 The alien jumped up to his feet and stared down at the man struggling to keep his eyes open. “Arrogance.” He placed his foot on the Doctor’s throat and pressed down.

 The Doctor weakly grabbed and pushed at the man’s foot and shin, but to no avail.

 “Now, I’ve got you beaten.” He shook his head in amusement. “You really don’t look in the best shape.” He put a little more pressure on the Timelord’s throat.

 The Doctor coughed and breathed in deeply the instant the alien removed his foot, but he only had a few seconds before a kick to the side of his head sent him rushing into blackness.

Chapter Text

 Barbara groaned as she turned onto her side in the bed. Her body was hot and sweat-covered as it shivered under the blankets. Her eyes closed and, not for the first time that day, she slipped back into restless sleep.

 Susan, sitting at Barbara’s bedside in a tolerably-comfortable chair, leaned over to rearrange the blankets over her friend. “Must be a very bad fever,” she muttered. She reached to the small table, picked up the damp cloth, and gently dabbed Barbara’s forehead. “I’m sorry I can’t do anything more to help.”

 She was… floating. Yes, that felt like it. In… space? It was simply a void, pure darkness and not a speck of light anywhere to be seen. Then, slowly, stars began to appear around her. Faraway specks.

 Something pushed her. Wind? With nothing to ground her, she moved sideways with it. “Where are you taking me?” she asked, though her words seemed nearly silent. She could do nothing, nothing except move with the wind.

 A wave of nausea washed over her as she picked up speed. Enough speed for one star to become alarmingly large in her vision after only a short moment.

 Orange, fiery, bright, intensely hot…

 “No, no, no! Stop! Stop!”

 Susan grimaced as Barbara whined in her sleep. She tenderly petted her hair to help soothe her. “I’m here, Barbara. It’ll be alright. Whatever you’re dreaming, it’ll be alright, I promise.”

 Floating again. The absolute darkness again. Barbara closed her eyes, not wanting to see another sun rushing at her again. “Ian!” she cried out, as though he could help her. But no, she was alone, in this void of space. The wind pushed her again, and she tried in vain to stop it from pushing her. But with nothing to hold onto, nothing to stand on, nothing around her but the emptiness… She couldn’t stop it.

 No more than she could stop her own heart from beating. She screamed, the sound, like her voice, coming out near-silent.

 A brightness penetrated through her eyelids, and while Barbara wanted to keep her eyes closed, something forced them open. Forced them open in time for her to see another sun, this one red and huge, coming at her. The fiery surface seemed to open like a mouth…

 “Grandfather, Ian, please find the medicine soon…” Susan said quietly, again reshuffling the blankets around Barbara. She leaned in close to her friend’s chattering teeth. “Whatever that nightmare is, it isn’t real.”

 A long quiet cry came from Barbara’s mouth. Susan soothed, “Shh… it’s alright, I promise. Ian and Grandfather will be back soon, and they can help you.”

 She was so cold. The void of space. Yet something burned her from the inside. Like a sun, the ones that kept swallowing her up. Was one eating her from the inside?

 “Stop! Please… I can’t…” she sobbed. “Stop…”

 It all hurt so much. The freezing cold, the burning heat… She couldn’t escape. She couldn’t escape… “Please, someone… anyone… Ian…”

 Susan looked up as the door opened. “Grandfather! Ian!” She took care not to leave Barbara’s side in her excitement. “Did you find any?”

 The Doctor nodded. Ian rushed to Barbara, standing beside the sitting Susan.

 “You’re in good hands, Barbara.” Ian glanced to Susan. “You’ve been in them this whole time.”

 “I’ve been doing my best,” Susan affirmed.

 “Yes, child, we know. Now, let’s see if we can’t make Miss Wright better.”

Chapter Text

 He was a person of action, not made for sitting around while other people were doing all the work.

 But, all he could do was lay here, stuck with a broken leg and two broken ribs in this hospital. He’d really been overzealous in thinking he’d be fine enough dropping down that far in his rush. Thankfully, Ace had taken the safer way down, while he was had been clenching his teeth and grabbing at his shin. He could do nothing but complain as he’d been taken to the hospital. Complaining mostly about his own overconfidence and stupidity.

 He’d died falling, once. At least the platform hadn’t been that high this time, and he hadn’t landed as badly as that time. Still, he was paying for it now, with injuries that would take weeks to completely heal, even with his body’s quicker-than-a-Human’s healing processes.

 It could’ve been worse, he reminded himself. Much worse.

 The Doctor looked up to the door at the light knock. “Come in,” he invited.

 “Doctor, how are you doing,” Ace asked as she came into the room.

 “Ah.” The Timelord waved a dismissive hand. “I’ll be fine.”

 Ace chuckled a little. “Teach you a lesson.”

 “Yes, yes…”

 “And you’re always telling me to be careful.”

 “Yes, I know, Ace.”

 ********

 “I don’t see why I can’t go to my Tardis,” the Doctor complained to the nurse tending to him. He felt fine enough to at least do that. He’d been here a week, and if they would simply provide transportation to the Tardis…

 “Your Tardis?” the nurse asked.

 “Sorry, he means our ship,” Ace clarified. “And I think you’re perfectly fine recovering here, Doctor. You can’t get into trouble here.” She grimaced. “Not as much trouble, anyway.”

 The Doctor sighed and shook his head.

 “I mean, really, Professor, how long do you think until we found ourselves in another dangerous situation. A broken leg and those ribs would be very bad to have.”

 “You… you have a point, Ace.”

 ********

 There wasn’t really much pain during the recovery. The medicine was doing its job at keeping the pain away. It only really showed up when he breathed too deeply. At least there was that, making this more bearable than it could’ve been.

 Though he did wish he could at least get up and walk around. But his leg was still damaged enough to not even risk much physical activity with his lower body.

 “That’ll teach me to really think before I leap… at least I hope it does,” he muttered to himself.

 Ace had asked the hospital staff for a little scooter for him so he could at least wheel around the hospital, but that request had been denied on account of his ribs. If he fell off the scooter, he could injure them more.

 Cooped up in some hospital room. At least Ace was out having fun with the locals. She deserved a nice break from the traveling and danger. Pity it came with him being too injured to go anywhere, but ah well. That could be the silver lining to it, he supposed. And really, this wasn’t the worst place to be cooped up in. He was well cared for, had a friend who visited, and the food was good.

 Yes, there were far worse places to be injured like this in.

 That didn’t stop him from willing his body to heal faster.

Chapter Text

 “Well, there are supposed to be injured people here…” Harry muttered to himself as he carefully walked through the factory. He didn’t hear or see anyone, other than the UNIT soldiers who had come with him. They had spread out to find people more quickly.

 “Hello?” he called out, hoping to hear a response. He didn’t, which meant one of three things. There was no one here, they were dead, or they were unconscious. If it was the first option, then why were they called here to assist in the first place? Not that he preferred injured or possibly dead people, but those options wouldn’t mean anything obviously shady was going on.

 “Hello?” Harry called again. Again, he received no answer.

 He entered another room, a large office. “Anyone here?” He sighed at the silence, and moved to the door at the other side, no doubt leading to another corridor or part of the factory.

 Harry froze at the loud click under his feet. He slowly looked down, seeing a pressure plate under his right foot. “Oh no… what kind of trap?” He glanced around, taking care to not even lift his heel a centimeter off the pressure plate.

 “Why is it always me who puts a foot in it?” Harry took a deep breath as he looked for whatever the trap could be. Hidden automatic firearms? Poison blowdarts or deadly arrows, like some ridiculous adventure film? Or a good old-fashioned explosive tripwire? Option one or three were far more likely, but he couldn’t see any set-up guns, which really left option three.

 Harry very slowly turned to the door he had come through and picked the radio from his pocket. He was about to speak into it when he saw a soldier round the corner to come into the office. “Don’t come in!”

 “Sullivan?” the soldier responded, though he did immediately stop.

 “Just… please, don’t move!” Harry sighed deeply. “I’m standing on a pressure plate. No doubt a trap set for us.”

 The soldier nodded, and radioed for a couple other to come to their position.

 “I wouldn’t come in here yet.” Harry glanced down. “I didn’t see it until I stepped on it. I heard the click.”

 “Does rather blend in with the floor,” the soldier noted.

 “Exactly. There might be others in here. Maybe even elsewhere in this place, too.” Harry grimaced at the thought. But if one room was booby-trapped, it was just as likely others were, too. “I certainly hope not.”

 Two more soldiers stopped outside the office door.

 Harry informed, “I don’t see any guns that could be wired to this plate, so I expect it’s an explosive device somewhere.” He shook his head, remembering his, Sarah, and the Doctor’s time on Skaro, where shortly after arriving, the Timelord had stepped on a landmine. It had been heart-racing then, with him helping the Timelord off of it, and now that it was him on a similar device, his heart absolutely pounded in his chest. “What to do, what to do…”

 “Don’t worry, Sullivan, we’ll find the source and disarm it.”

 “I’ll do my best to just… stand here and not move, then.”

Chapter Text

 “You’re what’s giving them all hope?”

 The Doctor snorted, causing more blood to spurt from his nose. “I suppose I do provide some hope for those people.”

 The woman looked the Timelord over, her orange eyes shining menacingly in the light. “I’d say that was rather misplaced, what with you now in my fort, unable to escape.”

 “That’s the funny thing about hope. It clings on, despite the dire circumstances.” The Doctor shook his head. “I’m not their only source of hope.” He shuddered as blood continued to trickle down from his ear.

 “No.” She circled around the man tied to the chair. “But you have become a large source of it.”

 One of the Doctor’s eyes closed as blood began to seep into it from a large cut on his forehead. He wished he could wipe it away, but with his hands cuffed to the arms of the chair, he couldn’t do that, or much else. “So, what’s your plan, now that you have me, and your people have been rather heavy-handed with me?”

 “My plan?” The woman stopped in front of him and wrapped her hands around his forearms. “I’m going to make an example of you.”

 Both of the Doctor’s eyes closed at the statement. “Right, of course. No room for civilities, is there?”

 “Civilities don’t stop people like the ones you’re helping.”

 “It might. Have you tried?”

 “They demand too much.”

 The Doctor hummed. “I think they only demand their fair rights.”

 The woman shook her head and brushed off the shoulders of her military uniform. “You’ll make no headway with me doing that track. I won’t be swayed by some stranger with a holier-than-you attitude.”

 “Oh dear, do I really come off that way? My apologies,” the Doctor retorted. “Not at all my intent.”

 She leaned over close to him again. “I think I’ll enjoy making an example out of you.”

 “Why? Do you tend to enjoy doing that with your prisoners?”

 “Only ones like you, which is a very rare opportunity.”

 “Oh, good. So not a complete sadist?” He received a hard backhand, the strength of it snapping his head to the side. “I apologize for the implication I made.”

 The woman roughly grabbed the Doctor’s hair and yanked his head back. “Keep talking like that, and it’ll only be worse for you.”

 “I doubted this would be pleasant from the start, when your soldiers captured me, but I can make an effort, at the least.” He didn’t want to make this worse for himself. At least not too much worse for himself.

 She released the blonde hair and took a step back. “Smile.”

 “What?” That was certainly a change of pace.

 “Smile. I think you’d have a nice one.”

 The Doctor slowly complied with the request, though of course it ended up strained. That seemed to satisfy her enough.

 “Good. Yes, I think you’ll make a very nice example.”

 “What does smiling have to do with it? I doubt I will be, if I understand your intention correctly.”

 The woman motioned at someone behind the Doctor. That soldier came around, a small camera held in his hands.

 “Ah…” What better way to make an example of him.

 “Now, Doctor, smile for the camera.”

Chapter Text

 Sarah tripped over yet another large tree root in this dense forest. She steadied herself with a hand against the tree trunk, then took a moment to stand still and look around.

 The Doctor was off somewhere else, and while she disliked being separated from him in potentially dangerous circumstances, she could take care of herself.

 “Right, Sarah. Let’s just keep on going. We’ll find what we need to soon enough.” She smiled a little. “As far as forest hikes go, this one isn’t all that bad at all.”

 Only a minute after she set off again, Sarah heard something rustle nearby. She froze and held her breath. She hoped it was just a rabbit or something harmless like that in the nearby shrubbery.

 When nothing happened for about thirty seconds, Sarah let out her breath and continued walking.

 But she’d only gotten a few steps further when something burst out of the underbrush. She cried out in pain as sharp teeth latched onto her forearm, easily puncturing through her sleeve and skin.

 All she saw was fur and teeth as she fell to the ground and flailed to try to get it to release her arm. “Get off! Get off!” She hoped it wasn’t strong enough to break her arm.

 Sarah landed a punch to the side of its head. That did little to dissuade it from attacking her, and she struck it with another. This time it loosened its jaw a little. “Let go!” she shouted, catching it directly on the snout the third time.

 That did the trick, making it let go and back away.

 Sarah immediately shot up to her feet, hoping doing so would dissuade the animal from attacking further. Not that being upright had helped the first time, but maybe with the fight she showed it would think twice.

 Now that she could clearly see the animal, it looked like a wildcat of some sort. A small one, thankfully. Nothing the size of a full-grown tiger. She shuddered at the thought if it had been.

 The wildcat hissed at her, then turned and ran away.

 Sarah stayed put for a long moment, not wanting to turn around and give it another opportunity. She looked down at her left arm. Blood easily spread underneath the sleeve of her shirt, and she rolled it up to get a better look.

 “Got me good, you little…” Sarah clenched her teeth at the sight of several puncture wounds on the top and bottom of her forearm. Didn’t feel too deep, but it still definitely hurt.

 She grabbed around her forearm with her other hand, as hard as she could manage to keep pressure on it to stop some of the wounds from bleeding.

 Now she had more reason to hurry, to get treatment for the massive and very bloody bite wound. “I hope you didn’t infect me with anything really bad,” she muttered.

 “Oh, hell, that hurts,” she winced through clenched teeth as she started walking again. Her thoughts again went to wondering what would’ve happened if it had been tiger-sized. “Be missing my arm, at the least, no doubt.”

 The thought made her feel somewhat better, but the bite wound still hurt a lot. Hopefully, she wasn’t bleeding enough to pass out before she got to where she needed to go.

Chapter Text

 In the middle of the night, Jo was sleeping in her cabin when something struck the small ship, so hard that it had definitely rocked it. She jolted awake with the impact. Things very quickly went wrong from there.

 She opened the door to go out to figure out what had happened, and the power flickered. Then something struck the ship again, and she covered her ears at the loud grinding and scratching sound that vibrated through the metal.

 She held onto the doorframe as the floor pitched violently under her feet, nearly throwing her at the opposing wall. Then it pitched again, almost sending her down the corridor.

 Jo backed into her cabin to stop herself from being thrown too far. She called out when she saw a half-dressed crewman rush past her open door. “What’s going on?”

 “Stay in your cabin, please,” he replied, barely slowing down.

 She decided to obey, reasoning she would probably get in the way of whatever the problem was if she didn’t. She closed her cabin door, and anxiously sat on her bed to wait for further word from the crew. She grabbed the radio from under her pillow to send a report to UNIT HQ, in case this was really bad. The woman on duty recorded the message, and Jo turned off the radio.

 Only a minute later, she drew up her bare feet at the feel of water under them. When had water started to leak in from under the door? “Oh no…”

 She reached over to grab her socks and shoes to hurriedly pull them on. No doubt she’d be safer with the crew now that the ship was filling with water.

 She stepped down onto the wet floor, the water already halfway up her shoes, and pulled her door open. Her eyes widened at the sight of a large amount of water rushing towards her. She yelped and jumped back into her room, but she didn’t get the door shut in time.

 Some of the water barreled into her room, knocking her back into the bed. She tried to stand up to keep her head consistently above the water, but she slipped, and the force of the wave kept her down.

 Jo managed to clamber onto the bed and stand, the water still quickly rushing in. She’d had a moment of opportunity when the water had only just started trickling under the door, and now that was far gone. Another wave crashed through, nearly knocking her off the bed. She grabbed the torch off the shelf.

 “Help!” she shouted out. “Help, I’m in here! I’m-“ She yelped in surprise as the room tipped to almost forty-five degrees. She scrambled to the foot of the bed, which was now the highest thing she could stand on.

 There wasn’t anything she could do except stand there as the water rose. Trying to go out to the corridor wouldn’t do much good.

 “Please stop, please stop, please stop…” she begged the rising water. It now lapped around her chest.

 Her cabin, and the corridor outside, kept filling with cold dark water. The flickering lights suddenly died, plunging her into darkness. She flicked on the torch. “No, no! Please! I’m here!”

 The water kept rising, to her neck, then to her chin. “Please stop. No higher, please…” She wasn’t a strong swimmer, and if the water forced her upwards to have to tread it, she wasn’t sure how long she could last doing that.

 Jo tilted her head back completely and tried to calm her breathing. The water made her panic by forcing her up to her toes, and she slipped off and submerged. She quickly reclaimed her perch, now panicking. She spat out the salty water and breathed in deep.

 The water did eventually stop, leaving Jo with a small pyramid-space of air, struggling on her tip-toes to keep her mouth and nose in that space.

 Jo shivered in the coldness. She really hoped UNIT would come to help them soon.

Chapter Text

 The Doctor’s eyes slowly blinked open. His still body shivered as consciousness returned to him. “What…?” He squeezed his eyes tightly shut for a moment when they registered the sunlight.

 He groaned from a lingering pain in his head. His hands lightly fisted in the tall grass. This time, he controlled his eyes opening, more slowly so they could get used to the sunlight.

 Once that was done, he gingerly sat up. He felt a stickiness on his cheek, and raised a hand to wipe at it. His fingers came away bloody. “Right, yes… Of course…”

 He raised his clean hand to his hair to run his fingers through the blonde curls. He flinched at the same half-dried sticky blood. He kept his fingers in his hair to find the source of it. He flinched at the thin gash along the side of his scalp. “There it is,” he muttered.

 “Mel?” the Doctor shouted out. “Mel?” He sighed. “Not nearby, then.” Not that she would leave him lying on the ground if she had been around. At least, not lying on his front like that.

 The Doctor gathered his feet under him and pushed himself up. He swayed, feeling nauseous at the swift motion. “Take it easy,” he reminded himself. “Head injuries aren’t a trifle to mess with.”

 After taking a moment to recover, he looked around for any hint as to what direction to take. His first priority was to find Mel.

 He spotted a cottage in the distance. “That’ll do, I suppose.”

 A little while later, the Timelord arrived at the cottage. There were signs of it being inhabited, with a cared-for front garden. He knocked on the door.

 “Hello? Anyone there?” He waited a long moment after his second round of knocking. “Guess not.”  

 He went around the cottage to find a way in, and found a window to test. “Well, I hope you don’t mind if I do. I promise I’m not here to steal anything.” He pushed it up and climbed through.

 He quickly found the bathroom and switched on the light. His reflection revealed just how much blood had come from that gash on his head.

 The hair immediately around the wound was almost completely red and matted. As the blood had spread, his hair went from red to dark orange until the spread had stopped. There was also a large amount down his ear and face on that side. His shirt collar hadn’t escaped unscathed, either.

 “What a mess,” he remarked. He looked himself over for any other signs of injury. “Not too bad.” He should get himself cleaned up a little, at least, before continuing on to find Mel.

 He turned on the sink water and filled his hands with the cool liquid. He quickly washed the blood off his face before starting on the more difficult mess that was in his hair.

 It took him a little while, beginning with the spot of the wound and working outwards, but eventually, his now-soaked hair was back to its normal blonde colour.

 “Better. Now I won’t look like a walking horror show to whoever I come across.”

Chapter Text

 Cursed. That had to be it. She was cursed. There wasn’t any other real explanation for this, was there? Twice, the Mara had possessed her. Twice. Perhaps that could be considered unlucky, unfortunate, but no… She felt cursed, not merely unfortunate.

 Had to be a curse, with it being the same entity. Had to be a curse, with her having had strange dreams about the Mara after the experience with it on Deva Loka. And now, after what had happened on Manussa… what else could it possibly be?

 Tegan wasn’t really superstitious, didn’t really believe in ghosts and the like. But this? This was… it was real. It was real, in the most terrifying and unnerving way. More than any ghost could be. And for it to happen to her…

 “Tegan?”

 Tegan flinched and quickly sat up, not having heard the knock or the bedroom door open. “Oh, it’s you. Sorry.”

 “I know you wanted to be left alone, but I didn’t want to leave you alone too long,” Nyssa said softly. “Do you… want any company?”

 Tegan slowly nodded and patted the space on her bed next to her.

 Nyssa smiled a little and took the offer. But she kept her hands folded together on her lap.

 Tegan reached out with one hand to grab Nyssa’s. She stared straight ahead as Nyssa’s fingers returned the pressure. After a long moment, she swallowed and asked, “Am I cursed?”

 Nyssa’s brow furrowed. “What… what do you mean?”

 Tegan’s mouth tightened. “I mean… What if… what if the Mara is stuck with me? That I’m cursed with it being in me, or… or close to me? That’s got to mean I’m cursed, right?” She shook her head. “I don’t know.”

 Nyssa took a few breaths. “If that is what it means, then I suppose I’m cursed with you.”

 Tegan looked to the other woman. “What?”

 “Because I wouldn’t want to leave you alone with it.”

 Tegan’s mouth opened and closed several times without speaking. Eventually, she said, “It might… drive you away. If it comes up again, it might want to hurt you.”

 “Maybe. But I know you wouldn’t hurt me. That’s what matters to me.”

Tegan sighed as her shoulders slumped. “How is it you’re so good?”

 “You’d say the same to me, if it was me instead of you.” Nyssa’s hand tightened in the other’s grip.

 “I would, yeah.”

 Both women looked up at the knock to the doorframe. “How are you doing?” asked the Doctor.

 “Oh… just pondering if I’m cursed or not.”

 The Doctor hummed. “I don’t really believe in curses.”

 “That’s comforting,” Tegan said, her tone betraying the emotion opposite the words.

 “Never put much stock in them, myself.” The Doctor looked at the empty space on the bed on Tegan’s other side. “Mind if I sit?”

 “Be my guest,” Tegan replied.

 The Doctor sat and, after a moment, tenderly put his arm around Tegan’s shoulders.

 The corners of Tegan’s mouth briefly lifted at the added comfort. But her thoughts went dark again quickly. “It’s just… what if the Mara comes back again, and again?”

 “If… If that happens,” the Doctor started, emphasizing the first word. “We’ll be here for you. We’ll find a way to get rid of it for good.”

 Tegan shook her head. “Don’t say things you don’t know if you can do.” She grimaced at her own words. “Sorry, I…” She let her voice trail away.

 “Tegan, I love you,” Nyssa stated.

 The Doctor nodded. “And you are my friend. We wouldn’t abandon you.”

 “Cursed or not. Of course we wouldn’t.”

 The Doctor’s hand tightened on Tegan’s shoulder. “I don’t put much stock in curses. But you know what I do put a lot of stock in?”

 “What?” Tegan asked, looking up at his face with damp eyes.

 “Your strength, your resiliency, your spirit. I have a lot of confidence in those things.”

 Nyssa nudged Tegan’s cheek with her nose. “Exactly.”

 Tegan didn’t say anything, but her slight smile stayed longer on her face with the assuring words from them.

Chapter Text

 “You don’t need to be so forceful,” the Doctor said as the guard shoved him up a short set of stairs. “Not like I’m getting away from you all, even though I definitely want to.”

 “Someone’s going to like breaking you in,” the guard retorted, giving the Timelord another push.

 The chains around his wrists rattled as he joined the rest of the people on the stage. A few were guards, one was the auctioneer, and the rest… well, like himself they were meant to be sold.

 He shivered, from the breeze across his bare chest and the ringing of the bell to alert the gathered crowd in the open marketplace that proceedings were to start soon. He noticed several of the prospective buyers point at him and murmur to each other. He sighed. He already had some people interested in him.

 Two more future slaves were pushed up onto the platform to stand next to him. The auctioneer started her speech. “Good afternoon, everyone. I hope you’ve been eagerly awaiting our goods we have for you today. As you see, we have the finest for you…”

 The Doctor tuned her voice out. No need to listen to her talk about how desirable the lot of them were. Without anything else to focus on, he looked over the large crowd again.

 His brow furrowed slightly when he spotted Fitz and Anji, somewhere around the middle. He made eye contact with them and sharply shook his head. Whatever they might have planned in rescuing him, it wouldn’t go well for them to try it here and now. Disrupting an auction that had several guards around wouldn’t go well for any of them.

 As much as he didn’t want to be sold to someone, it would no doubt be worse if they tried to rescue him. He could handle belonging to someone for a brief time until he escaped. Whatever they might be buying him for.

 “So open your wallets for these fine specimens. There’s someone here for everyone’s tastes.”

 The way the auctioneer said those last two words didn’t escape the Doctor’s attention. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He shook his head again, to make sure Fitz and Anji got the message.

 The auction really started when one of the cuffed people was pushed forward ahead of everyone else in the line. The Doctor kept his eyes closed, and stood still. He simply waited his turn, barely taking note of the bidding going on.

 Eventually, a guard pushed him forward. Now the Timelord opened his eyes. His two friends definitely looked concerned now. “I’ll be fine,” he mouthed.

 “This one is quite a pretty male.” The auctioneer’s hand brushed down the Doctor’s hair, then her fingers trailed down his chest.

 The Doctor stood completely still, wanting to be stoic. Perhaps if he came off as boring, no one would care to buy him.

 That plan quickly went out the window when several people started shouting out their bids, upping his starting price. Of course. He’d been told from enough people that he was an attractive person. That was more than enough for people to desire him enough to own him, apparently.

 “Sold!” the auctioneer shouted. “Go to the back, and we’ll bring him to you.”

 A man and woman left the crowd. A guard grabbed the Doctor’s shoulders to turn him around and lead him down the stairs. He got one more glance of his two friends before descending. Hopefully, he would find a way to escape or they would find a way to rescue him soon.

Chapter Text

 Both men jumped at the sound of an explosion in front another part of the industrial factory. The shockwave seemed to vibrate the floor beneath them. “Look out, Sullivan!” Alistair shouted out as part of the high and heavy shelving toppled over.

 Harry, a little further from the danger, successfully jumped back as the metal shelves crashed down. But the other man… “Brigadier!” he cried out as his commanding officer disappeared under the shelves and the things on them. There wasn’t anything he could do except watch, his eyes wide. “Brigadier!”

 Everything settled quickly, and Harry moved forward, searching for any sign of Alistair.

 “Over here!” came the strained and muffled voice.

 Harry started to carefully step over and around the debris towards Alistair’s voice.

 Under the debris, Alistair tried to pull his arm from between two broken and very heavy items. He winced and instantly stopped. The object on the outside on his arm was sharp, the point had pierced through his sleeves and shallowly into the skin. He tried to wiggle his arm enough, but there was no space for it.

 “Sir! Are you alright?” came the muffled voice from above and a little distance away.

 “Alive,” Alistair responded. “Although I may be stuck.”

 “Stuck? Stuck how?”

 “My left arm. It’s pinned between two things, I can’t tell what they are, but one is sharp.” Alistair cleared his throat. “Can you see me at all?”

 Harry took more steps around, looking for any parts of the familiar uniform while also sing the voice to pinpoint him. When he thought he’d found the spot, he hesitantly lifted a light object, and smiled in relief at the green fabric underneath. “Found you, sir.” He lightly laid a hand on the other’s back.

 “Well, that’s something,” Alistair remarked to the physical contact. “Can you get anything else off me?”

 It took a few minutes of tentative moving things around before half of the man was uncovered. “That’s all I think I can safely do, sir.”

 Alistair carefully moved his free arm up. Then he maneuvered his knees up under him. “Now for the other one.” He hoped that with some of the debris around him moved, he’d be able to unpin his arm. He winced when the next attempted pull caused whatever sharp metal piece to cut a short line into his flesh. “Still stuck, I’m afraid.”

 Harry tried to move other things, but everything left was too heavy or too awkward for him to do on his own. He didn’t want to risk touching anything else, because it could also cause more things to fall on Alistair. “I’m sorry, sir. I don’t know what else to move.” They were alone here, so he offered, “I can radio for back-up to come.”

 Alistair grunted in frustration. “That’ll take hours. And we really need to be getting a move on.”

 “Sir, I don’t-“

 “How equipped are you able to handle a large gash?”

 “You’re bleeding?”

 “I will be, quite badly I reckon.”

 “You can’t be considering-“ The smell of smoke reached Harry’s nose. “Oh, that’s not good.” He could hear a little crackle in the distance where the explosion had happened.

 “What now?” Alistair asked.

 “I think there’s a fire. Not unexpected, considering, but-“

 “Right, that settles it. Lieutenant, I’m relying on you to make certain I don’t pass out from blood loss.”

 “Normally, I’d advise against that, but with a fire on the way…” Harry wished he had time to go get his kit from the jeep, but there wasn’t time. He could handle it. He patted Alistair’s lower back.

 Alistair took three deep breaths to steel himself for what he was about to do. Then he moved back and pulled. A loud long cry of pain accompanied the sound of ripping fabric. He didn’t let himself stop, clenching his teeth through the pain, knowing it would take him more time to steel himself again.

 And then he was free, falling backwards and cradling his injured arm and hand to his chest. Harry immediately crouched beside him, gently taking his arm to do a quick examination.

 The torn sleeves of Alistair’s uniform hung off his arm, more than just the edges of the jagged tear stained dark red. He hissed at the sight of the long bloody gash.

 “Doesn’t look too deep, but it will definitely need stitches.”

 “At least I didn’t have to break it,” Alistair muttered through clenched teeth.

 Harry quickly wrapped the torn sleeves to cover as much of the wound as it could and told Alistair to hold it tightly. Then he took his other hand and pulled the injured man to his feet. “The sooner we get out of here, the sooner I can take care of it.”

 Alistair took a deep and shaky breath. “Lead on, Sullivan.”

Chapter Text

 “This way!” Jamie said, grabbing Zoe’s wrist to pull her along after him. She stumbled at her sudden change in direction. They’d lost track of the Doctor, forcibly split up from him when multiple of these large wolf-like creatures had started chasing them.

 They ducked into a half-demolished building, and Jamie pushed Zoe towards a set of stairs. “Go! Go!”

 “You don’t need to tell me twice!” Zoe hissed.

 Jamie took a second to glance back to check how quickly the red wolves were chasing them. They hadn’t entered the building yet, but no doubt they had seen the pair had come in here.

 “Wish we hadn’t been separated from the Doctor,” Jamie said as he followed Zoe down a corridor.

 “So do I. But we can manage on our own.”

 Jamie appreciated her confidence. “Of course we can.” They passed several rooms as they ran.

 Zoe had slowed her pace, looking through the half-broken or outright missing doors into the rooms. “In here.” Zoe turned into one and made a beeline for the closet in the back. The half-door nearly fell off its hinges as they opened and closed it.

 Jamie turned and kept watch out. He hadn’t seen any obvious ways out, except what he assumed was another staircase at the very end of the long hallway. They couldn’t run forever, and hiding might be the better option. If only this room had a sturdy door that they could close and enough heavy things they could swiftly barricade it with. 

 “This’ll work. Come on.”

 Jamie turned to Zoe, and saw the now-open closet looked more than deep enough to hide them, with some hanging long coats to further obscure them. “Best we got,” he remarked as he followed her inside and they closed the door as much as they could. An inch of light came through, but hopefully it wouldn’t be enough to tip off the wolves.

 They stood flush against the back wall, their arms around each other. They couldn’t see with the coats hanging in front of them, so they had to rely on their hearing. Both tried their best to calm their heavy breaths from the physical exertion and the fear.

 Jamie didn’t voice his concern that, if the wolves did figure out where they were hiding, there wasn’t any escape. Maybe if there was one wolf, they could fight it off enough to run past it, but if there were more? They had no chance. Zoe probably knew it, too.

 They flinched and completely froze when they heard the sounds of heavy footsteps. No doubt a wolf jumping over the half-door to get inside the room. Zoe somehow huddled more into Jamie’s hold.

 Their breaths and heartbeats sounded too loud in the space, and they feared the wolves would somehow hear it. They could hear the steps getting closer, and the hard sniffing and snorting sounds.

 They could only stand there and hope that even if the animals did figure out where they were, they couldn’t open the doors or break through it.

 Zoe closed her eyes, not that them being open did her much good anyway, and focused on making her breaths as slow as she could. It was a task much easier said than done, with the source of the danger less than a meter outside the closet. One wrong move, one wrong sound, and they would both be dead.

 “Go away… go away…” Jamie mouthed. His muscles were beginning to cramp with how tense they were. He forced down the urge to try to fight his way out of this situation. His dagger wouldn’t do much to the creatures before they retaliated.

Jamie and Zoe clung to each other in the darkness. All they could do was wish for the wolves to give up and move on.

Chapter Text

 The Doctor slid down the steep hill towards the riverbank. Peri followed less gracefully, and ended up sliding half the way on her back. She stood at the bottom and took a second to try to look at her back.

 “Great,” she muttered at the muddy feeling on her shoulders.

 The Doctor brushed off the bottom of his slightly muddied white trouser legs. “Nothing wrong with a little dirt.” 

 A few minutes of walking downriver later, they came upon a small canoe. The Doctor smiled. “This’ll make the journey a bit easier, and hopefully faster.”

 “Hope so.”

 Peri got in and grabbed one of the oars. The Doctor pushed the canoe out enough for it to float, then hopped in.

 “Do we want to cross the river?” Peri asked. It hadn’t been possible before, with how wide across it was.

 “No, I think we’ll keep following it.”

 “Sounds good to me, then.”

 They paddled, though not very hard. The river was flowing fast enough to make it easy on them. “This is actually rather pleasant,” Peri remarked.

 “Isn’t it just?” the Doctor responded, looking around at the forest scenery.

 A little while later, Peri wondered if she had cursed the canoe ride by complimenting it. She was new to travelling with the Doctor, but maybe that was an unspoken rule when things were going well. The water began to get choppy and faster.

 “Uh… Doctor?”

 “It’s alright, Peri. It’s only a rough patch. Rivers do have them. Could be a shallower section or larger rocks at the bottom. Perfectly normal.”

 “Right, yes, of course.”

 Only a couple minutes later did the Doctor regret not worrying about the conditions of the river when Peri had mentioned it. It was now too fast for them to even try to turn the canoe towards the nearer shore. He stopped paddling, focusing on the sound in the distance. A roaring and crashing sound. “Oh dear…”

 Peri winced. “We are in trouble, aren’t we?” She bit her lip, also recognizing the sound upcoming sound as the only thing that made sense. “Waterfall?”

 “Yes, I believe so.”

 “Think it’s big?”

 The Doctor sighed. He didn’t want his friend to panic, but being truthful would mean she’s be more mentally prepared. “Sounds like it.”

 “Perfect. Absolutely perfect.”

 They had no choice as the river swept them along. As soon as the edge came into view, Peri closed her eyes. She didn’t need to see exactly how far she was falling.

 The Doctor, behind Peri, moved up close and slid one arm around Peri’s waist and grabbed the edge of the canoe with his other. Peri’s hands grasped tightly onto his forearm.

 The roar now seemed deafening, all they could hear. And then… they went over the edge.

 They were falling. Nothing but air and water all around them. Peri couldn’t help but to cry out from the fear of the coming landing and what could be at the bottom.

 The Doctor let go of the boat to fully wrap his arms around Peri and turned them so he was beneath her. He would be able to handle the impact better.

 They fell, far too long for either of their liking. And then…

 They hit the water, the impact knocking the wind from both their sets of lungs. They plummeted below the surface. Into the cold, choppy, dark depths at the bottom of the waterfall.

Chapter Text

 Sarah looked up at the setting sun. Her legs stopped walking as she did so, the sense of how absolutely exhausted she was washing over her in a sudden wave.

 The Doctor kept walking for several steps until he noticed she wasn’t beside him anymore. Confused, he took side-to-side until he glanced behind him. “Sarah?” he asked when he saw her standing there, slightly swaying. “Sarah, are you alright?”

  Sarah flinched as the Timelord touched her shoulder. “What? Oh… yes, yes I’m fine. Just… needed a little break.”

 The Doctor’s hand slid down Sarah’s arm to grab her hand. “Hardly the best place for a rest.”

 Sarah glanced around, her manner airy. “Hm… suppose not.”

 “Come on, I don’t think we’re too far.”

 Sarah went along after him, her steps lagging a couple behind his. She stumbled more than a few times, fatigue building up in her legs and feet. She wasn’t sure what was happening, what was coming over her. She was tired, yes, but this was different than just wanting to sleep. She’d been tired during their adventures before. Was there something affecting her?

 Sarah stopped moving forward, nearly falling over when the Doctor took another step while holding her hand. He quickly backtracked and caught her. “Sarah?”

 “…fine. Keep going…”

 “No, you’re not.”

 “Can keep on…” Her eyelids fluttered closed, and her body keeled to one side.

 The Doctor grabbed her shoulders to keep her upright. Then she fell forward against him, and he had to fully wrap his arms around her to stop her from falling to the ground. “Sarah.”

 All she could manage as a response was a quiet hum before her body went completely slack against him.

 The Doctor moved to pick her up and carry he, but his muscles seemed to seize up halfway through the motion. He’d been feeling some effects of… whatever it was affecting them, but he’d kept it to himself. He hadn’t wanted to worry Sarah. He’d also had confidence that they could make it to their destination before either of them collapsed.

 But he’d estimated wrong. Sarah was unconscious against him, held up only by his arms. He couldn’t get his arms to pick her up, and even if he could, his legs weren’t going to do much for them.

 He stood there for a long moment, thinking of what to do. They couldn’t stay here, not in the open nature. There was something out here making them feel this fatigue. Perhaps in the air? “Come on, Sarah,” he said quietly, not sure what he meant to convey by it.

 He made another attempt to pick up Sarah. He wasn’t one to give up easily. But his exhausted body didn’t give him much choice, and he set her down on her feet after barely getting her up a few inches off the ground. “Right, that’s not going to work.”

 The Doctor glanced around fruitlessly, looking for anything that could somehow help them in this situation. The only thing that would help would be a friendly passer-by with a vehicle. But he didn’t see anything of the sort, and knew he wouldn’t.

 Then, he had no choice as his vision quickly faded to black and his legs gave out. He fell backwards, taking Sarah down with him.

Chapter Text

 Pounding pain behind his eyes. A strange sort of electrical ringing in his ears. A dull ache in his chest. The taste of half-dried blood on his bottom lip. The Doctor gradually became aware of those things in that order as he slowly regained consciousness.

 It took him a good while to open his eyes, and quickly shut them when he did, the light of the room making his already-terrible headache spike. “Wonder what happened…?” he muttered, wracking his brain to remember where he was.

 Again, he opened his eyes, more slowly this time to acclimatize to the light. It wasn’t particularly bright, but it had been enough to hurt in his vulnerable state.

 He stared down at himself, dressed in his normal clothes. Although the top half of the buttons were undone, revealing some bruising on his chest. He was sitting, a chain wrapped around his green velvet sleeves and the arms of a chair. “Ah… That’s right.” A figure and face came to mind, whoever he’d somehow offended this time. “People do tend to get offended when you wreck their nefarious plans,” he muttered with a slight chuckle.

 And now he was paying for it. Well, he was still alive, and he felt like his current self, so he hadn’t regenerated. So, at least the person didn’t want to kill him. That was always something. He didn’t want to be overly optimistic, but maybe they would even let him go now that they’d roughed him up.

 The faint ringing in his ears finally stopped, granting him some small mercy. The pain in his head continued to pound, though. He had definitely been worked over.

 The Doctor pulled his arms up to test the chains, and soon gave up on the thought of breaking out of them. “Much too strong and secure.” There wasn’t much else to do than wait.

 Only a couple minutes later, the door opened and a tall middle-aged man walked in, flanked by three other men. “Ah, good. You’re finally awake.”

 “Yes, now that I am, would you mind letting me free? I’m sure you’ve gotten your pound of flesh out of me, metaphorically speaking.”

 The leader tilted his head and stared at the Timelord for a short moment. Then he shook his head. “No, no I haven’t. Which is why you’re still there.”  

 “Ah. I was rather hoping it was a measure to keep me well while I was… sleeping.”

 The man laughed. “You must be crazy, thinking I would let you of the hook that easily after what you’ve cost me.”

 “Right, of course. I must be absolutely mad to even imagine that.”

 “I was simply allowing a break. There’s no satisfaction in beating up an unconscious enemy.”

 “No, I suppose there isn’t.” There wasn’t much the Doctor could do to stop them from doing whatever they liked with him.

The leader stepped in close and grabbed a handful of long hair. He yanked the Timelord’s head back. “There’s a lot more before I get my… how did you put it… pound of flesh from you.”

 The Doctor cried out as a fist connected with his jaw. Someone else kicked him in the side, then another punch to his chest.

Chapter Text

 Ian’s body shivered violently again, the intensity of it jerking him awake. His eyes slowly blinked open. The sun peeked up over the frosty and foggy horizon. How long did that make it? Three days?

 Ian shook his head, and grimaced at the stiffness in the muscles of the neck and the feel of the metal collar around it. He intensely shivered again, the pain from the bitter cold back at the forefront of his mind now that he was awake.

 He took a deep breath, and found that very breath nearly taken by the biting wind that blew across him.

 He’d been here for three days, chained by the neck to a wooden post in this barren tundra. This was his punishment, his intended execution for a crime he didn’t commit. Exposed to the elements, no food, no water… It was torture, being alone out here and left to die in these conditions. His entire body felt in some pain or another, some places more intensely than others.

 Out of habit, he leaned forward to test the strength of the chain, but like every time before, it didn’t give any more slack than it was intended to. He sighed, wiping up some of the ever-replenishing frost from the grass to wet his tongue. Then he leaned back against the post.

 The air was cold, the ground he sat on was cold, and now… snow fell again. Not heavily, but enough to make his prisoner uniform damp. Which would only serve to make him somehow colder.

 Ian drew his legs up to his chest and wrapped his arms around them.

 Not long after, the sound of a vehicle reached his ears, but he didn’t move. Not until the engine stopped close to him and someone got out.

 Ian raised his head at the crunch from boots on the short frosted grass. The same man who had brought him here stared down at him, his face confused and incredulous.

 “You’re still not dead?” No doubt he was here to collect Ian’s body.

 “Di-disa… ppointed?” Ian slightly unfurled his body, wincing at the pain of the cramps in his legs. He wished for the warmth of the winter clothes the other man wore.

 “No one survives out here for this long. No Human could.” The man considered him for a long moment. Then he smiled, unnervingly so. “Disappointed?” He shook his head. He kneeled down next to Ian to look him over closely.

 “You certainly don’t look healthy, but not as though you’ve been out here nearly as long as you have.” He chuckled. “You must be extremely hardy.” He brushed away the fresh snow from Ian’s hair. Ian flinched at the touch.

 He could still feel his fingers and toes, but only barely. And what he could feel of them was painful.

 “Unusually so. Like I said, no one survives this long out here in those clothes.” The man took Ian’s hand. “Only signs of slight frostbite.” He let the hand drop to the ground, and Ian hissed from the pain of the impact. “Hurts, I see.”

 Ian glared at him. “Here t-to ta-take me back?”

 The man nodded. “Your frozen corpse, yes.”

 “You… you d-don’t have that…”

 “No, you’re right. Somehow, you aren’t dead.” The man took out a small survival knife and tapped it against his chin in thought. “What to do… what to do…”

 Ian couldn’t do anything. Speaking was difficult. Every movement brought a fresh wave of cramps to his already strained muscles. He could feel the chill down to his bones, and had been for most of his time out here.

 “This is your sentence, and I have no reason to bring you back until it’s been carried out.”

 Ian trembled, from the cold and from the statement. He was to be left out here longer? “N-no, pl… please…”

 Ian cried out as the man stabbed the knife into his shoulder. The man twisted the blade a little before yanking it back out. Ian’s left hand came up across his torso to clutch at the wound. Warm blood, what little warmth was left in his body, trickled through his fingers.  

 The man chuckled. “You won’t die from that.” He took Ian’s chin to make him look him in the face. He wiped the blood from the blade down Ian’s cheek. “I wonder how much longer you’ll last.”

 All Ian could do was sit there and shiver as the man stood and walked back to the vehicle. His bloodied hand clenched and unclenched in his torn shirt.

 ********

 Two days later, the vehicle and the man came again. Now, Ian was lying on his side on the frosted ground, curled in on himself as tightly as he could manage. He no longer had any strength to sit up.

 He opened his eyes and very slightly lifted his head as the crunching from the boots approached.

 “Still alive, then? You are something special, aren’t you?” The man dropped to his knees near Ian’s head.

 Desperate for any scrap of warmth, Ian moved his hand to weakly grasp at the man’s trousers.

 The man chuckled, but didn’t move Ian’s fingers away. “What’s your secret? You can’t possibly be Human.”

 Ian didn’t respond to the accusation. “Sent…sentence was… was execut-tion.” He gritted his teeth. “Th-this is t-torture…”

 “You will die, eventually. Everyone has their limits. Yours just happens to be… far from the norm.”

 The pain had become very intense by this point. Unbearably so. Not to mention the hunger and thirst. Five days now…

 “Tell me, do you want to live?”

 “Of c-course.”

 “Maybe if you weren’t so determined to live, you would die and end your suffering.”

 Ian’s hand clenched tighter in the warm furred fabric of the trouser leg. “Please…”

 “Please what? Take you back with me? That’s not happening.” The man pushed Ian’s hand off and stood. “Surely, you can’t last much longer.”

 Ian curled in on himself. How much longer would his body keep doing this to keep him alive? How much longer could his body sustain it?

 ********

 Ian awakened very slowly, though his eyes didn’t open, at the feel of vibration and movement. He was on his side, with something over his body. A blanket? No, heavier… several blankets? And his head was on something like a pillow. It moved under him slightly. A person?

 “B-Barb…ara?” Ian gingerly turned a little more onto his back and his eyes half-opened. His hand moved out from under the blankets to the person’s thigh.

 “Oh, Ian…”

 Ian couldn’t see properly, the freezing temperature having affected his vision. All he could make out was a yellow shape around a blurred face. Blonde hair, and the higher-pitched voice… Not Barbara, but… “V-vicki?”

 “I’m here, Ian,” Vicki responded. “You’re safe now.” She pulled the blankets back up over his shoulder, then replaced her hand on his side. “However you survived out there this long, you’re safe now.”

 He still wasn’t dead. He blinked, his eyes getting more tired with each one, until he fell back into sleep again. This time, a blissfully warmer sleep. 

Chapter Text

 Mel’s eyes blinked open. The dry short grass scratched at the palm of her hand as she moved it to push herself up. “Doctor?” She sat up, and immediately regretted the motion as her vision spun. She wasn’t feeling well. Not well at all. She and the Doctor had contracted some sort of illness.

 But last she remembered, they were travelling in a caravan of migrants. Some had also been ill like them. Not as bad, she thought, but still sick. So why was she on the ground, out in the arid grassland?

 “Doctor?” Mel opened her eyes again and looked around. “Doctor!” He wasn’t far, lying on his side similar to the position she had woken up in. She crawled over to him. “Doctor?”

 He didn’t look any better than when she’d last looked at him… how long ago? How long had she been asleep for? Still pale, with prominent veins in his neck and on his hands. Mel took one of those hands between hers. She knew she didn’t look any better.

 Mel glanced around for signs of anyone, but didn’t see anything. She shook her head. They were still close to the road the caravan had been travelling on. Had they been removed from the cart and left here while they were asleep? Why? “Why would they leave us?” she asked out loud.

 “Leave us?” echoed the man next to Mel.

 “Doctor, you’re awake! Thank goodness.” She helped him sit up. “Easy. We’re still quite unwell.”

 The Doctor slowly nodded. “Yes, I feel that.” He took several deep breaths before he glanced around, his eyes red from the illness. “Leave us? You seem to be correct. How… interesting.”

 “Interesting isn’t the word I’d use.” She grabbed his hat from the ground and absentmindedly brushed it off. She shook her head, wincing at the sharp ache in her neck. “Why would they do this?”

 “Perhaps… we’re ill enough for them to consider us a burden?” the Doctor wondered.

 “There were other sick people with us. I don’t see any sign of them being left behind.”

 “But we were worse off than them.” The Doctor sighed. “So…”

 “We’ve been left for dead? Is that what you’re saying?”

 “That’s one phrase for it. From their perspective, it does make sense. Leave two burdensome ill strangers behind. Save their resources for themselves.”

 “Great…” Mel ran a hand through her hair. Her body shivered, not from any cold, but from the chills within her. She handed over the Timelord’s hat. “So what now?”

 The Doctor inspected his hat for a moment before putting it on his head.  “Well, for one, we aren’t dead.”

 “No, not yet,” Mel replied quietly.

 “Not yet? That’s no way to think, is it?”

 “Maybe not, but they left us behind for a reason. They think we’re going to die soon from this illness.”

The Doctor raised his brow. “That doesn’t mean we have to.” He gathered his legs under himself and stood. His stance was shaky, but he reached down to Mel anyway. “Come one, we were heading that way.” He gestured with his other hand.

 “You think we can make it to wherever we were going and get help in time?”

 “Always worth a try.”

 Mel took her friend’s hand and got up to her feet. Her legs trembled at the effort. But the Doctor was right. Just because they had been left for dead, it didn’t mean they had to die abandoned here.

 She managed a weak smile. “Alright. Let’s keep going.”

 “That’s the spirit.” The Doctor put his arm over Mel’s shoulders, and they leaned into each other as they walked.

Chapter Text

 “Oh… oh dear. That’s not good.” The Doctor glanced back to his three friends inside the building. The wind had definitely picked up and whipped around them, and the rain was now pelting them and everyone else in the small city. But what he saw that greatly worried him was the quickly approaching wall of water. The hurricane was bringing the ocean in, and there wasn’t any time to make a run for it.

 “Hold on to something!” the Doctor shouted. He turned and rushed to them, the three of them on the staircase. “Up! Go!” The flooding rush of water nearly swept him off his feet, and he had to grab the banister of the staircase to stay upright. Ben also grabbed his wrist to make certain.

 Jamie and Polly, who hadn’t seen the Doctor nearly fall into the water, hurried up the stairs. They only turned at the sound of a glass shattering and a loud heavy thud.

 The Doctor and Ben jumped back as what looked like a solid wood bookshelf came through the huge windows and landed in the middle of the stairs, blocking their way. Jamie and Polly’s voices called out for them on the other side.

 “We’re fine!” Ben replied.

 “Can you get over it?” Polly asked.

 The Doctor didn’t bother with answering the question and instructed, “You two get up to the roof. We’ll find another way to safety.”

 “Doctor-“

 “Don’t’ argue, Jamie. Just-“ The Doctor cried out in surprise as Ben tanked him backwards. A street sign embedded itself in the wall. “Go!”

 Polly pulled on Jamie’s arm. “They’ll find a way. Come on.”

 Without much else they could do, Jamie followed her.

 

 The Doctor and Ben slogged through the knee-deep water as quickly as they could outside. Outside where they had no protection from the powerful wind and flying debris.

 “Doctor-“

 “I know, Ben.” He saw it too, another impossibly tall wave coming. Only several seconds later, the water crashed into them, the force of it wiping the ground out from under them.

 They could only hold onto each other as they were swept down the street.

 

 Jamie and Polly burst out of the doorway to the roof. “Doctor! Ben!” Jamie shouted when he saw the pair being forced down the street, barely floating on top of the wave. “Polly, we have to help them!”

 “How? We can’t get to them. And it would be stupid to go down there.” She wanted to help them, too. Of course she did, but there wasn’t anything they could do except try to stay safe up here. She pulled him behind an air conditioning unit, blocking a good amount of the wind.

 

 Ben cried out as he crashed into a half-submerged car. The impact to the next parked car wasn’t as hard. The Doctor managed to stay on the windshield of that car, and pulled Ben up to sit with him.

 Ben coughed out the dirty-tasting water in his mouth. “What do we do?”

 “Try to get to safety.”

 “Right. I got that, Doctor.”

 They only had a brief respite, their eyes widening at another high wave washing down the street.

 They slipped off the car and hurried to the safety of another building. The waist-high water severely impeding their progress. Ben managed to grab the door handle just as the wave hit. He latched onto the Doctor’s hand, and hoped he could keep his grasp on the door handle.

 

 Polly spotted something blue in the distance. Something with a very familiar shade of blue. She got up and went to the edge of the roof.

 “What is it?” Jamie asked.

 “The Tardis! Look!”

 Jamie joined her at the edge of the roof. They had watched the Doctor and Ben be swept away by the hurricane. And now all they could do was watch as the Tardis in the distance also be washed away.

 Another strong gust of wind nearly knocked them over, and they hunkered down behind the air conditioning unit again. All they could do was hope they were high enough in this disaster zone.