Doctor Who: The Bright Asylum

Michelangelo's The Creation of Kenny

The Doctor crumples at the edge of the pulpit, his right hand straining down to reach. He is holding Kenny by pure thought, but he will tire eventually.

His left thumb is clicking the bud on the Rose Ring back and forth. Back and forth. So frantically.

A scream rakes his throat again. His sinew rebels, the stria beginning to pluck away inside him like fiddle string from the largest point closest to the Eye; his stomach. Inside his head, he tears his senses away from it and reaches down and strains again. Jewels of cold sweat mingle with the blood from the wound in his side, making little opal droplets that pull away even as they freeze, because the gravity well of lost Qqaba is ripping even the clothes from his back. And he’s not the only one still alive in the hall.

With what little psychic strength he can spare, he feeds the anchor he’s got on Kenny while he writhes on the pulpit floor. No dignity left.

He opens his mouth to speak, but a man is standing over him.

A man with black hair like death and blue eyes the color of a snowstorm at sea. When had he decided to…?


Rassilon watches the Doctor’s hand arch out from itself in a ribbon of skin, and sets his jaw. His feet are fast becoming deuterium weights plated in lead, now- but he will not falter. Nor will he allow a creation of his own hand’s making best him utterly.

He forces foot after booted foot toward the edge where the Doctor is lying. There is blood beneath the man; it should be pooling. Instead, nature is sharpening the bleed into red spears and thrusting them into the dark.

His fellow Time Lord is naked, clinging to the very tip of the pulpit’s retractable floor-foil.

“I found a working interface, and have initiated the aperture’s emergency closures,” he calls, meeting the other man’s pink-eyed, raggedy gaze.

“Let me guess… you don’t know if it will close in time to save us!” the Doctor screeches in a harsh foreign tongue over the wheeze of harsh stellar winds. “In that case,” he coughs, and red-orange ribbons of blood from his battered throat cascade between his lips in licks of abstract fire, lighting up the void in temporary little streams.

His fingers are pressing so hard on his stomach, there are palm-shaped bruises across his bump, just shy of his navel like protective leaves covering a rose hip. His runner’s leg is hooked in the pulpit’s hollow back.

“You aren’t just holding Kenny, are you, Doctor?” Rassilon asks, his blue eyes watering in the sucking, roiling pull of the barely-contained black hole beneath their feet. “I will do what I can as well, but you were always better at Sepulchasm.”

The Doctor gags on a grin, half-choking behind such a slight shake of his head that Rassilon almost thinks he might have missed it.

But Rassilon can see the shadows beneath the younger man’s eyes, growing like whale-roots.

He won’t last. He can’t.

Suddenly the Doctor is watching Rassilon with eyes like frozen spring, so calmly, yet, so full of tumult. Suddenly those eyes are thawing into melt. Suddenly they’re wide and shining and filled with something Rassilon has not seen in anyone’s eyes for a very long time.

The Doctor pushes himself up to stand, his body fierce as he continues to hold back gravity for Kenny and at least a hundred others.

One hand is constantly at his side as he levitates himself, gliding over the center of the Eye.

Kenny is unconscious in his bubble of swirling light and heat. It’s getting smaller… soon it will be a thin soap bubble about to pop.

“I wouldn’t be able to do this if not for Flamina’s help…” the Doctor murmurs telepathically, cutting a quick slice into every available mind. It’s not exactly a lie… more a… half-truth.

His eyes meet Borusa’s as she peeks from behind her saving pillar. Her hand is outstretched. She’s helping, too.

“Now then, that’s what I like to see! But I have to borrow something else from you now!” he yells, forgetting to tune himself inward. Inside his womb, seven month old Flamina’s tiny red hands curl instinctively around the blood-rich stem connecting them. Even in her sleep, she’s holding on.

“Rassilon, how long? I have a plan!”


Rassilon, even Rassilon, is straining now against the tide.

His fingers ball in his blood red robes; his icy eyes bleed frozen drops as he opens his mouth.

No sound. His mouth is too dry.

He tries to reach the Doctor telepathically, but for some reason, the man’s mind is tangled in a golden shroud- he cannot get in. Perhaps the Rose Ring is the cause of it…

A clicking noise erupts in his head; the automatic closure is beginning.

Click.

Click.

Click.

Click.

The great gears marry in tandem.

Click. Click. Click.

Click-click.

The aperture hisses shut.

Everything is easier all at once- abruptly. Precisely. Bodies tumble to the safety of the stairwell floors like blows.

But as Rassilon floats the last flailing Time Lord in his field of vision over to the safety of those stairwells, he remembers.

He remembers that someone is missing.

Two someones.

He roars to the edge to look over, and finds…


The Doctor opens his eyes on the ice cream stick foil. His fingers are white against the metal. Did he pass out like this? His other hand is flat below him. How many seconds has he… wait, what is that blur of blue hair and naked bum down there below him, rushing to the floor one hundred and three levels down?

Kenny! Oh god.

Without thinking he lets go of the foil and falls backward, crossing his arms over his chest as his feet rise to the top and his head rushes downward.

The Doctor can see Kenny down there, plummeting to a messy death on the shiny surface of the Great Seal.

Rassilon managed to get the aperture closed, thank god, he thinks as his body becomes a bullet.

With his arms outstretched, waiting to grab poor Kenny, he makes a solemn request to the Pythian child growing in his womb.

“Hullo, little pink thing! My little fire-breathing cherubim! Can you lend me your wings?”

Of course, the child doesn’t answer. She’s asleep.

His laughter echoes through the halls, and then he whispers, “Well, I’ll just use my own then.”

He forces knobs of muscle to crawl up from between his shoulderblades, weaving a set of bird’s wings with nerves for thread and bone for a needle.

He pumps blood into the new shapes, engorging them, folding them into his personal time and space until he is solid and diving, a seabird after fish.

Kenny’s fingers loom nearer and nearer. If he can just reach farther, fly a little harder, wring more blood out his hearts… the floor is close, but the Eye is still warping things. There is a lot of space between them and the ground, still. But, there is also no way of knowing how long the warping will last. Perhaps they’ll both go splat. No more fish custard. No more TARDIS. No more kissing Trouble with a capital Pond.

His finger is close to Kenny’s hand. He stretches, feeling something pulpy give in his back near the stab wound.

Uh-oh. This sort of thing rarely makes the good kind of papers… he clicks the Rose Ring, then remembers. No more failsafe. Oh dear. He could cease to exist, or be turned into spaghetti. Well, pasta isn’t such a bad thing to be, he thinks… unless you’re gluten intolerant.

As he fades in and out of pretty much everything, he careens toward Kenny, groping blindly as the rush of normal gravity drags him out of the front seat of consciousness. The twisting darkness settles over him, and he thinks of Jack.


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