The Man Who Regrets : Doctor Who [1] ✓

32 : Forest of the Dead (Part 1)

Violet’s fingers tangle in her hair as she spins, trying to find a way out of this mess that they’ve been thrust into because of small message that came many years too early. The large moon is hanging high in the orange sky. River cuts a square in the wall with her gun and enters, ordering everyone through, into yet another Rotunda.

“Okay, we’ve got a clear spot. In, in, in!,” River orders. “Right in the centre. In the middle of the light, quickly. Don’t let your shadows cross. Doctor.”

“I’m doing it,” the Doctor replies, annoyed.

“There’s no lights here. Sunset’s coming. We can’t stay long. Have you found a live one?”

“Maybe. It’s getting harder to tell. What’s wrong with you?”

“We’re going to need a chicken leg. Who’s got a chicken leg? Thanks, Dave.” She throws the meat into the shadow, and once again it is just bone before it hits the ground. “Okay. Okay, we’ve got a hot one. Watch your feet.”

“They won’t attack until there’s enough of them,” Violet mutters, her voice wavering and full of untamed panic. “But they’ve got our scent now. They’re coming.”

The archaeologists argue with River about the Doctor, and Violet’s anxiety and bubbling rage begins to grow, the medicine from this century already losing its effect on her weak body. The half Time Lord curses in an ancient language and begins to pace, only stopping when her wife grips her hand tightly, anchoring her and giving her something to latch onto until she returns to the TARDIS.

“You say he’s your friend, but he doesn’t even know who you are,” Anita snarks. “And you say this little girl is someone you care for. Who the hell is she?”

“Listen, all you need to know is this. I’d trust that man to the end of the universe. And actually, we’ve been,” River sighs. “As for Violet, don’t you ever call her a little girl again, or underestimate my first wife.”

“He doesn’t act like he trusts you.”

“Yeah, there’s a tiny problem. He hasn’t met me yet.” She goes over to where the Doctor is still scanning shadows, Violet hot on her heels. “What’s wrong with it?”

“There’s a signal coming from somewhere, interfering with it,” the Doctor says with a frown.

“Then use the red settings.”

“It doesn’t have a red setting.”

“Well, use the dampers.”

“It doesn’t have dampers.”

“It will do one day.”

The Doctor takes River’s sonic screwdriver. “So, some time in the future, I just give you my screwdriver.”

“Yeah.”

“Why would I do that?”

River laughs. “I didn’t pluck it from your cold dead hands, if that’s what you’re worried about.”

“And I know that because?”

“Listen to me. You’ve lost your friend. You’re angry. I understand. But you need to be less emotional, Doctor, right now.”

“Less emotional? I’m not emotional.”

“There are six people in this room still alive. Focus on that. Dear God, you’re hard work young.”

“Young? Who are you?”

“Oh, for heaven’s sake!” Lux exclaims. “Look at the pair of you. We’re all going to die right here, and you’re just squabbling like an old married couple.”

“Doctor, one day I’m going to be someone that you trust completely, but I can’t wait for you to find that out. So I’m going to prove it to you,” River says, her voice softer than usual. “And I’m sorry. I’m really very sorry.” River whispers the Doctor’s name in his ear. “Are we good? Doctor, are we good?”

He looks beyond stunned, and his eyes move to Violet for a split second. “Yeah, we’re good.”

“Good.” River takes back her screwdriver and leaves him, Violet giving her husband a tentative smile before following.

The Doctor begins to rant about his screwdriver and signals, and both his wives have to withhold their groans of annoyance, sharing a grin. They know so much about this man, but they both know it from different circumstances, and some of it from each other. River knows about the future Doctor, and Violet knows about the past Doctor - this Doctor.

“Professor?” Anita calls, her worry making Violet look up, only to freeze in horror.

“Just a moment,” River replies.

Violet stammers for a moment, clearing her throat before trying again. “R-River, honey.”

“It’s important,” Anita pleads. “I have two shadows.”

River turns and her eyes widen. “Okay. Helmets on, everyone. Anita, I’ll get yours.”

It’s a tense minute for the six of them, and it’s only making Violet’s emotions fluctuate faster and more erratically. River puts the helmet on Anita and backs away from the woman quickly, the Doctor sonicing the visor to Anita’s helmet black in an attempt to trick the Vashta Nerada.

“Just, just, just stay back,” the Doctor orders. “Professor, a quick word, please.”

“What?” River asks, following him a few steps away, still in earshot of Violet.

“Down here.”

They crouch down.

“What is it?”

“Look, you said there are six people still alive in this room.”

“Yeah, so?”

“So, why are there seven?”

Violet looks around and sees that skeletal zombie Dave has caught up to them. “Hey, who turned out the lights?”

“Run!” the Doctor yells.

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