Doctor Who: The Bright Asylum

soffite d'argile et de têtes d'or

What was it she had always told her students?

Ah, yes.

“It’s like sifting flour to make bread.”

But, she has not seen flour, nor tasted. Nor touched.

Nor smelled the baking of it into bread.

Not she, or any of her students who have never left Gallifrey.

Bread was written about in the books she used to teach from, in lines and lines and lines of stiff, rigid description. But she has never made it. It is what the Doctor meant that day, she thinks silently… that day he became Lord President and acted insane to derail suspicion, then lowered the transduction barrier and pretended to betray them all, secretly defending Gallifrey against two invasions in the process. And he used That Thing to do it… rendering his personal memory of the event forever lost.

Poor boy.

“It’s like warm snuggles and sunshine you can eat,” rambles an overhead voice, “…just breathe it in, Borusa… “

Annoying boy.

Borusa considers opening her eyes, and then harumphs, opening her mouth instead.

“I have no need of lecture from a youngling of –mine- in a subject with which I am thoroughly conversant, Doctor; I am the one who taught –you- to do this, after all…” she breathes, drawing the smell of familiar countryside into her lungs.

She thinks of her family’s old grey cottage, set in the elder bosom of hills the color of seepen blood.

She dreams of that thorny little patch of black brush in the back corner of the estate’s small garden.

Her thoughts flick through her memories like a film being viewed; she picks one, settles it in a corner of her brain and attends the frame of it as if placing a painting.

But paintings, too, she has never seen.

Had never seen, before Leaving with the Doctor.

It must be how they all feel, the first time.

She picks that notion up, dusts it, and sets it aside on a nondescript shelf.

No time to wonder about wondering.

“So I can leave you alone then, Borusa?” the voice murmurs, a quietness coloring the offhand twist of phrase; it gives Borusa a perfect glimpse of the grin its owner must be wearing.

“Obviously. Take your rest, you pandemic jollyhop,” she mutters, grinning herself at his presumptive impetuousness, “…I’ll find our objective in this place. There are things I need to see again.”

“I saw what you did there. Well, all right, if you say so… even still, be careful, Old Bean,” the Doctor tumbles out a soft, sad, approving laugh, before retracting himself from her presence, his mental retreat washing over her, toes to teeth, like a curl of sea dropping away from a stalwart cliff.

When the biting, salty sea wind starts again up over her skin, when his long, gentle square hand no longer touches her shoulder, she knows he has completely retreated, and that she is free to conduct her investigation and observation of the subject at hand.

“That memory of mine,” she adds, opening her eyes and sitting up. “It’s bound to be around here somewhere.”

She finds herself to be naked on the red grass. To her left, there is a white shift, trousers and a blue sash, lain out carefully- the Doctor’s sentimental offering, an apparent jest.

Heaving her solvent child-breast at the thought of her former student being so thoughtful, obstinate, and such a busybody, she reaches out and grabs the clothes, shrugging them on. They’re pleasantly loose, she realizes, and as she probes the hem, her fingers stumble over a large tag tied with purple twine. It reads:

Virgin Sacrifice Robe: -1 Luck, Summon Holy (single use; automatic on K.O. unless Blue Sash of Relative Displacement is equipped, whereupon effect block-transfers onto itself, resulting in recursive occlusion)

Fisherman’s Trousers: +3 Charm Whale (collect Fisherman’s Shoes and Fisherman’s Lantern for Sailor Jesus of Tonberry costume change)

Blue Sash of Relative Displacement: +9 Perception (unless Virgin Sacrifice Robe is equipped)

Her eyes narrow into blades at her former student’s inane idea of a joke, then crystallize silver on the surrounding lush ruby foliage down the way from the cottage; she again sees exactly what she expected to find there, yet she is surprised.

Her fingers tighten on her unreal chest; two thundering dreamt hearts crash against aching incorporeal ribs.

Beneath an orange backdrop of two ripened, bloody suns, white fingers of forest scamper across the paper cut horizon line, drinking at the edge of an ancient sea of adamantine waves.

And in the crescent-shaped clearing of her youth as a boy in these pearl hills of rolling limbs, a solitary TT capsule.

But it is not the one Borusa expected.

Nor is it the color.

Old eyes narrow further at this. Still, her feet recall the way better than she does, and bound her forward, upward onto pensive tippy girl-toes; they remember themselves to echo through the red grass like a newborn tafelshrew prancing in the first sunlight of spring… as her hair blooms around her, behind her, before her, a ribbon of pale gold silk as she bolts across the field.

She runs.

And runs.

And runs.

She cannot help herself.

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