06 March 2007

The Desert of Einfuhlung - Chapter 2, Part 2

The Doctor followed Jones out of the room. "Is he always that rude?" he asked curiously.
Jones looked shocked at the question. "Oh no, sir. It's just that he's been very busy since we found the Lost City, and it was a very tiring trip, too."
"Hmm." The Doctor didn't comment further, but he couldn't help wondering if he'd done the right thing in accepting Jackson's offer to visit the Lost City.
Once out in the street again, the Doctor walked back to Saskia's apartment building. He arrived just as an elderly woman was struggling up the steps carrying several bags of shopping.
"Allow me," he said and took several of the bags from her.
"Oh thank you, young man," she answered, smiling up at him. He grinned but didn't bother telling her that he was far from being young. He watched her enter the door code on the keypad, automatically memorising the number. He followed her inside.
"Which floor?" he asked, as they got into the lift together.
"The same floor as my friend Saskia," he told her.
"Oh do you know Saskia?" she asked. "Such a charming and friendly young woman. I can't understand why she's still single." She chattered on and the Doctor listened with half an ear. He had just remembered his earlier, less than friendly, parting with Saskia. He wondered if she was still mad at him, and if she would be mad at him for turning up now.

He carried the shopping bags over to Saskia's neighbour's door, then used the buzzer on Saskia's door. It opened almost immediately and the Doctor found himself face to face with an impossibly good looking young man, about five years younger than Saskia. He was blond and looked athletic, in spite of the tailored clothes he wore.
"Hello. You must be Luca, I'm the Doctor," he said brightly, shaking the young man's hand and walking into the apartment as if he had every right to be there.
"Who is it, Luca?" called Saskia.
"Someone for you," answered Luca, a little uncertainly.
Saskia walked into the room, stopping dead on the threshold when she saw the Doctor standing in the middle of the room, a big smile on his face.
"What do you want?" she asked abruptly.
"To talk to you," he answered, more calmly than he would have thought he could manage.
"Well now is not a good time."
"Yeah, well, this can't wait, I'm afraid," he said.
"It will have to," Saskia answered, and turned away from him.
He shot across the room and caught her by the elbow.
"Hey!" Luca shouted. "She said she didn't want to talk to you!"
"Oh, go and play on the tramway, pretty boy!" the Doctor snapped. He turned back to Saskia, who slapped him forcefully across the cheek.
"Ow!" He put up his free hand to touch his stinging cheek.
"Don't you dare talk to my friends like that," she snarled, wrenching her arm free of his grasp.
"We need to talk," he insisted firmly.
"No, you need to apologise to Luca, then get out. I don't owe you anything and you certainly don't own me!" she snarled.
He blinked at her. "I've never thought that I owned you," he protested, puzzled by her choice of words. "What's got into you?"
"What's got into me?" she gasped. "I'm not the one barging in here uninvited and behaving like a spoilt brat! Now get out!"
He backed away. Saskia's anger was blazing as hot as the Devron's had done.
"Go on! GET OUT!" she yelled.

The Doctor fled. Back inside the TARDIS he stomped angrily around the Control Room for some time, muttering curses under his breath, hands shoved deep in his pockets. When he finally stopped stomping around, he slumped onto the bench, feeling exhausted and dejected.
He'd been sitting there for half an hour when he suddenly realised something. When Saskia had yelled at him to get out, he'd felt a telepathic compulsion to go. And he'd felt the same sort of compulsion when he was standing outside the Museum, looking at the poster advertising the Jackson's lecture. He frowned, wondering who had been using telepathy on him to make him go to the lecture. And how had they done it? He ought to go and talk to Saskia to find out if she had been aware of the fact she had compelled him to go. He winced mentally at the thought of going back to see her again tonight, but he really needed to know the answer, especially if he was going to accompany Jackson to see the Lost City. He sighed heavily and got to his feet.
The Doctor let himself into Saskia's apartment building and headed upstairs, hoping that Luca had gone home. He knocked on her door, rather than using the door buzzer.

Saskia was about to go to bed. After the Doctor had left, Luca had begun making disparaging comments about him, and she had lost her temper and thrown him out too, although she hadn't actually slapped him. She had sat brooding for some time, wondering what had got into her. She'd never intentionally hit anyone before. Finally she realised that she was getting a headache and decided to go to bed. When the knock came on her door, Saskia assumed it was old Mrs Ponder from across the hall, and she opened the door without checking the entrycam. The Doctor stood on the other side of the door, four angry red marks across his cheek where she had slapped him earlier, and a pleading look on his face.
"What do you want?" she asked wearily.
"Can I come in? We really do need to talk."
"I'm about to go to bed," she answered. "Come back in the morning." She shut the door in his face, trying not to think about how she'd felt when he'd done the same thing to her earlier. She had only taken a few steps away from the door when she heard it open behind her. She whirled around in time to see the Doctor pocketing his Sonic Screwdriver.
"What do you think you're doing?" she demanded furiously.
"I told you, we need to talk, and tomorrow might be too late."
She hesitated and he stepped over to her side, putting one hand on her temple and the other on her shoulder.
"What - ?" Saskia felt herself falling and blackness descending on her mind. The last thing she heard before she blacked out was the Doctor's voice.
"I'm so sorry, Saskia."

Saskia opened her eyes slowly, wondering where she was.
She turned her head and saw the Doctor sitting on a chair beside her bed.
"Doctor?" She frowned, trying to remember what had happened.
"I'm sorry, Saskia. I had to – um – knock you out." The Doctor's expression was carefully neutral.
"You knocked me out?" she asked in confusion.
He nodded, sympathy flaring in his dark eyes.
"I really needed to talk to you and you wouldn't listen."
"Oh! I – uh – I remember." She looked away from his intent gaze, embarrassed by her earlier anger, then remembered that she'd slapped his face. Her gaze snapped back to his face.
"It's OK," he assured her. "No lasting damage."
"Good," she answered weakly, wondering how he could be so calm. "What did you want to talk about?" she asked, pulling herself up into a sitting position.
"We're being manipulated. Someone's pulling our strings, making us dance to their tune."
She looked at him. "Is there any chance you could decrypt that a bit?" she asked carefully.
"Yes, sorry." He ruffled his hair and Saskia suddenly noticed he looked exhausted.
"How long is it since you arrived back here?" she asked abruptly.
"A couple of hours," he answered apologetically.
"You know, since I met you, I've lost quite a few hours of my life. And I seem to keep waking up with you sitting at my bedside."
He looked down at his hands sheepishly. "Sorry."
"Oh don't keep apologising, Doctor!"

He looked up sharply at her tone and she covered her mouth with her hand. "What's going on, Doctor?"
"I'll explain. But I want to you ask you to do me a favour first."
She raised an eyebrow at his serious tone. "What favour?"
"The drug that Dr Karg gave you, how fast does it work?"
"It takes about half an hour, I believe."
"Would you mind taking one or two, please?"
"Why?" asked Saskia.
"I think whoever is manipulating us is doing so telepathically. I'd quite like to be able to talk to you without you being under their influence," he answered carefully.
She looked at him thoughtfully for a moment, then nodded. "OK. They're in my – oh!" She broke off as the Doctor held out her bag. She took it from him and he reached down beside the chair to pick up a glass of water. She pulled out the package Dr Karg had given her and took out a bottle of capsules. She glanced at the label on the box, then shook out two into her hand. She threw them into the back of her mouth, took the glass of water from the Doctor and drank half of it in two big gulps.
"Do you mind if I make a cup of tea?" asked the Doctor.
Saskia shook her head. "You can make me one too," she answered. "I'll be through in a few minutes."

The Doctor nodded and went out. Saskia pushed the blanket off herself. "Oh well, at least he didn't undress me this time," she thought, feeling relieved and embarrassed at once. She decided she might be able to think better if she felt more comfortable and quickly changed out of her now-rumpled clothes into an old pair of casual trousers and a baggy T-shirt. She went through to the kitchen. The Doctor looked up from stirring the tea to give her a tentative smile.
"Hello yourself," she answered.
"Do you know, that's the first casual clothing I've seen you wearing," he commented.
"Mmm." She took one of the mugs of tea from the kitchen counter and headed back into the main room. "Let’s sit out on the balcony," she said.
"OK." The Doctor followed her out onto the balcony and leant against the railing, looking out over the city. Saskia settled onto the big upholstered bench.
"Would you mind sitting down?" she asked politely. "I'll get a crick in my neck if I have to keep looking up at you."

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