Doctor Who: The Bright Asylum

Enemy Lines

The Doctor sighs.

“Ah, you’re not going to tell us, are you sir?” the Time Lord Academy student at his right asks, holding up a black object similar to a pen that vibrates around and follows the young man’s fingers like globules of water in zero gravity as he waggles them at the Boekind human in the antiquated medical bed.

The Doctor grips the side of the silvery slab upon which Jack Harkness sleeps. He blinks hard, crushing his eyelids down onto their moorings once, twice, as if rebooting his system from a crashed hard drive. Finally his lips move apart… they feel like two strange deer crossing a road in the night. There is a sensation in the air, as though nothing is going to get said. So he speaks as if from tick-ridden lips, giving the student a piece of his mind on a platter of silver, au tartare.

“Tell you what, Hainishtymion?”

The golden-haired boy smirks at the tiny dismissal, his whole face quirking in a line like a plaster mold of some impish little god on some impish little planet.

“Yes Doctor, tell me what indeed!” the boy says, looking up, hopeful, with pretty blue eyes like curls of swirling sky. “You know what I want to know. The other students want to know, as well. But you picked me.”

The Doctor closes his own eyes again and thinks of all the images swishing around the boy, like muddy eddies. As he concentrates, he catches his breath, then leans down and finds the boy by touch and sense and all things visionary, grabbing him by the shoulder and whispering in his ear.

“All right then, my boy- you asked for it, let’s see if you can keep up. This is your part of the plan. Steal a Time Travel Capsule and travel to Hitchemus. Seek out the White Lady. The night is your friend. There isn’t any time for me to do it, because I have to leave tomorrow on the Mission to the Cloud. Are you up to what I’ve asked you to…”

Hainishtymion is already backing out the door, his youthful footsteps carving farewell roses down the hallway, to the Doctor’s teary-eyed vision.

He sighs, because he’s just proven, for the millionth time, that Time is a bitch, and ‘I’m sorry, Hainish,’ doesn’t begin to cover it. Or should it be, ‘I’m sorry, insert name here?’

Age settles over and in, like little cobwebs of infirmity creeping into his bones.

The poor boy never had a chance. He was only a hundred and fifty!

Still, he mouths it after the retreating footsteps.

“Oh Hainish, my poor sweet boy, I’m sorry! God I’m sorry…”

Hot tears sting again, and he slumps toward the floor in a heap, knocking his head on the edge of Jack’s bed.

A smear of blood smudges across his face where he falls, like errant burlesque rouge.

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