Doctor Who: The Bright Asylum

There's a Thumb in my Humble Pie


“Well, I would stay and have a bite, but that Guinea Hen, lovely as it is, well… for some reason it reminds me of a rat in a plastic bag, see?”

Mickey Smith sucks in a gasp as he stares at the pregnant young man sitting in his kitchen, with his favorite mug full of hot tea held in both hands.

“But, you weren’t there, with me and Rose and the boss, you… you’re… you can’t be, he’s… you’re supposed to be…”

“I can’t answer that. The whole of Creation could depend on my not answering that question, Mister Smith, so please… don’t ask me it again. Besides, my clothes are rubbish- I’ve been wandering the stellar streets for a month.”

“Oh shut it, Mickey! But, let me get this right- ‘Benjamin’, you’re a Time Lord? But, I thought…”says Martha Jones, her dark eyes grinning at their visitor. As she pulls up a chair beside Benjamin’s, she tries to head her husband off at the pass with a kick at his shin under the iron tabletop.

“I know, I know, ‘all the Time Lords were turned into incredibly brainy goulash by the Doctor’.” Benjamin laughs, holding his head after a moment. “Well, some of us survived, mostly good ones, some bad. But that’s not here or there. Or even today. What is important now is that none of you say anything of what you suspect to our dear Captain Jack. Do not let on. Do not interfere. The whole of Creation could depend on…”

Martha watches her husband’s dark head flash to the left, and suddenly her heart feels julienned in her throat, like the delicate strips of carrot she’d been slicing earlier.

Jack Harkness is standing in the doorway. His black boots are scratched and scuffed, and caked with old dirt.

He moves.

Martha remembers, as she blinks her eyes, the way he held her back when that Mayfly was trying to bust out of her abdominal cavity. The touch of his long hands against her skin, like an older brother, in a way. Soft. Calculating. Frantic to save.

Now, as she opens her eyes, all she can see are those same, strong hands wrapping around -Benjamin Pond’s- throat.

“The whole of Creation… you said that already. Losing your mojo, Pond?”

Benjamin gives a barked, strangled laugh, as though his lungs are gargling battery acid- an ugly, unexpected sound from an unexpected man. “This old man, he… urk! … he played one! He played… glg… knick knack…glurg… on his… thumb… Do you have a thumb, Jack?”

“The better to pull out a plum with.” Jack answers with a bright grin. But his pretty blue eyes are flat-lining. Soon, his fingers dig for a place in the Time Lord’s shoulder, inside the fleshy part near the outermost joint. First, he presses gently, as if he’s fluting pie crust edges with a fork. Then he drives his thumbnail home, tipping the digit forward and pressing in, over and over, until the alien man in his arms writhes out like a billowing curtain... if curtains were made of bits of holey, camel colored coat and scraps of striped rags.

Then Jack withdraws his bloody thumb and stares at it as more reddish-orange fluid spurts from the puncture.

“You killed that woman in front of kids, you creepy little shit,” the Time Agent proclaims in Benjamin’s ear, sitting slightly. Globs of salivary foam smack against the Time Lord’s limp brown hair, clinging, then drooling down in sad little rivulets to form salt lines on his face.

Benjamin is on the floor now. Jack Harkness’ black boot heel is crunching into the thumb-shaped wound to his praetoria nervimaniplus, bloodying itself. Minutes pass. Soon, there is goo and thickened blood solution crusting on the leather.

“You know, Jack,” the Time Lord murmurs from the floor, one hand clasped against the remains of his striped shirt where the ruined strips still stretch across his pregnant body. “… I am so very glad you’ve managed to get all this out, but really, aren’t you forgetting something?”

“Jack, he’s pregnant!” Martha can’t help herself. Her hands are on the pulse pistol she keeps in a shielded drawer near the dish soap. “Stop this! I’m sorry Benjamin, but it isn’t in me to watch this! It isn’t right! Think of that baby, Jack! What would Rose have done?”

The Time Agent’s eyes are blue steel now, fixed on Benjamin Pond. “Don’t go there, Nightingale. Don’t ever go there. Besides, after watching what this psychopath did to that woman… did he tell you he married the Doctor’s murderer?”

Mickey Smith is glaring at the Time Agent. Just glaring, his wide eyes gleaming like little wet moles in the dark. His hands are quirking toward his sleek black sidearm.

Benjamin Pond just stares up into the face of Jack Harkness, these soft angles and hard orbs that love the Doctor so deeply he would do this. As his gaze slides at a steady lag down from Jack onto Martha and Mickey then back to Jack, he says, “I know what he’s thinking, you know. He’s thinking we shouldn’t breed. I don’t really blame him. But I…oh now that doesn’t feel very nice, Jack. Could you move your foot, it’s making me dizzy, and...” He cuts himself off with open lips quivering apart, then tries to sit up, shoving against Jack’s incumbent foot. His shoulder squelches like a wet balloon against the black boot’s rubber sole, forcing his still-smiling mouth to stretch into a cavernous, pearly parody of itself.

“Stop moaning. We both know your kind are stronger than this.” Jack says softly, lifting his heel just a fraction so the Time Lord can breathe before shoving and twisting back down again, harder than before.

A breeze blows up the Time Agent’s back then, and a set of old doors creaks open on a tall Swedish grandmother clock that wasn’t there before.

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