Doctor Who: The Bright Asylum

Breakfast Epiphanies

“Ah, stone seats and gardens! No birds though,” the Valeyard says softly, eyeing the many slim stone perches which line the monks’ eating hall. He moves to stand in front of one of them, tapping the pitted stone with his finger. “… Oi!”

Then he settles himself on the bench below the icy perch and slides down the length, all the way to the big stew pot at the end of the long table.

As his face whizzes by the rows and rows of stone pedestals bearing the bird perches, he notices something.

One of the perches is covered in a sheath of ice taller than he is.

Lifting midway between the height of a nearby tree and the top of the perch, there is a small winged creature with a bit of mane around its face, frozen in midair. A greenish bluish lion bird. Its little furry face, with dangling red tendrils on either side, stares out of the whitish column of cerulean-tinted ice at him. Waiting and still.

He pats his stomach and sighs, darting bright eyes back and forth like a caught thief.

“Did you do that, my little pudding?” he murmurs, caressing his belly again absently as he stares into the bird’s one visible eye; he shoves a finger at it, projecting nonchalance. “…do you think the stew is still warm? Well, let’s us just go and see, shall we then? Hrm?”

He wraps his fingers around the heavy black iron ladle and pulls it around as if to stir, testing.

The liquid in the big cauldron gives off a succulent heat, steaming readily up into his face; it wets his forelock, and the scent of spices wafts through him. The spices, like the cauldron and the thick stew it holds, are dark in his nostrils, a rich blend of salt, sweet, spicy and sensuous- a perfect complement to his mood.

He grabs an empty bowl, then dusts off the bench behind his bum, forgetting the fact he’s just slid down it, dusting it already with his backside. He sits.

He makes a face, snarling his features in a caricature of the Doctor’s more disgruntled moments; it’s all for the Child’s benefit, of course.

As he plops a wooden spoon he found near the cauldron into the bowl full of dark, porridge-y grey swill and bright blue flecks and chunks of pale spiral something, he mutters, “… smells like a lot of nasty vegetables, muffin. Shall we dig in then? It’s the only thing suitable for Daddy’s hatch for meters around. I think I shall, really.” He pauses to scratch his head, digging his fingers into his limp and floppy hair, “… now be a good…. baby… demon… bean… thing and don’t make me vomit.”

An hour later, the sun is higher, a boiled duck’s egg. But the ice ignores that, too.

His body is warmer, if marginally; at least there’s no frost forming in the ridges of his abs now. He can tell because his darkening veins are expanding under his skin. They’re turning blacker…

He blinks.

“Well, now; that was a nice breakfast, wasn’t it my cheery little pumpkin?” the Valeyard says, patting himself. He touches his rump, suddenly mindful of the damp cold mess he made of his trousers when he slid down the bench. “Daddy needs some new clothes! We’re off to the shops for some proper gray silk and a stiff cotton. If popping you out is gonna kill my prospects,” he reasons, walking out of the eating hall and down toward the central T of doors that lead into the Museum, “…I can at least do it in a derby. Plus, I need a sturdy stick for the ice capades. We wouldn’t want Daddy’s little rice cake to go sliding out the toaster because he’s fallen on the nasty hard ice, would we?”

No answer; only, a shard of frosty nerves grabs him by the tailbone.

Meow, he muses in the vaults of his secret mind. He’s going to need all nine lives to survive this.

Suppressing a shiver, he wanders out the doors.

Behind him, the crawling blue ice follows in his footsteps, growing along his shadow and out from his heels like a dog he does not see, a wake of deathly flowers forged of pale bifrost carbuncles and sterling.


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