06 March 2007

The Desert of Einfuhlung - Chapter 2, Part 3

He turned and looked down at her. She had tucked her legs up underneath herself and looked quite comfortable, and a good deal more relaxed than she had earlier. He sat down beside her, stretching out his own longer legs.
"So tell me what’s going on," she prompted, drinking some of her tea.
"Have you heard of Professor Jackson?" he asked.
"Of course. He's the archaeologist and explorer who went off about three months ago to Dasleere Viertel, intending to search for the fabled Lost City of Eupatoria."
"Well he found it and he's come back."
Saskia raised an eyebrow. "How do you know?"
"After our conversation this afternoon, when you invited me to dinner, I went for a walk and there was a poster outside the Museum advertising a lecture he was giving. I went to the lecture, then I talked to the Professor afterwards. He's invited me to go and see the Lost City when he heads back there in a few days."
Saskia looked at him in surprise. "I didn't know you were interested in archaeology," she said.
"I'm not hugely interested in it," he answered.
"Then why did you go to the lecture?" she asked curiously.
"I felt I should," he answered. "When I was looking at the poster, I felt a compulsion to go to the lecture. I didn't really register it at the time, but later this evening, when you asked me to leave, I felt the same kind of compulsion. After I thought about it, I realised the two things were connected."
"Oh." Saskia blushed when the Doctor mentioned she had asked him to leave. He reached out carefully and touched her arm.
"It's not your fault," he told her. "Whoever is compelling us is quite capable of making both of us behave out of character." He hesitated and then went on. "I think they started influencing us this afternoon when we were leaving Dr Karg."
She looked at him quickly and saw his own face had flushed pink. "You mean when you – hurried off?" she asked.
He looked at her steadily. "When I stormed off like a child, yes."
She moved her arm and found his hand. "I guess someone did a real number on us," she said.
He nodded. "They really did. They amplified my slight feeling of guilt out of all proportion, and they also manipulated your feeling of irritation at the Devron, building it up until you were completely furious." He squeezed her fingers.
"I'm sorry," she said quietly.
"It's not your fault, so don't apologise."
"But I hit you!" Saskia protested.
"Yes, but not for the first time," he pointed out. "And on both occasions, you weren't really yourself."
"So what are we going to do?" Saskia asked after a moment.
"I think we should try to find out more about our Professor Jackson, and we should also see if we can locate whomever has been manipulating us. I suspect the two are connected, even if they're not the same person."
"We'll start in the morning,” the Doctor said, getting to his feet. Saskia stood up too, stretched, then turned hesitantly towards the Doctor. He looked at her expectantly and was slightly surprised when she stepped closer and put her arms around him. She did it carefully, as if she thought he might push her away. He returned her hug, pulling her close and holding her tight.
"We’ll be OK," he said. "We can figure this out, between us."

"Stay with me?" she asked quietly.
He pulled away from her slightly so that he could look at her face. "If you want me to," he answered.
She nodded, then led him inside, his hand clasped in hers. They went to her room and he waited by the door, his back turned, whilst she changed into her pyjamas. She got into bed then said, "You can come in."
She lay in the middle of the big bed. He pulled off his tie and his suit jacket, draping them over the back of the chair, then turned to sit down.
He looked up at the hesitant note in Saskia's voice.
"Will you hold me, please?" she asked quietly.
He nodded, then bent to remove his shoes. He was wondering if this was a wise or sensible thing to do, but he carefully didn't let any doubt show in his face as he sat down on the bed, then stretched out beside Saskia. She shuffled back across the bed to his side, putting her head on his right shoulder, and draping her right arm across his waist.
"Is this OK?" she asked.
"Yes," he answered, and put his right arm loosely across her waist. He threaded the fingers of his left hand through the fingers of her right. He lay still, listening to Saskia's breathing slow and deepen as she fell asleep. He swallowed several times, blinking back his tears, thinking of Rose.

For some reason that he couldn't explain, the Doctor felt a little disloyal for thinking of Rose whilst Saskia lay beside him. He scowled into the darkness. How could he be feeling disloyal to Saskia, they weren't lovers, and he knew that Saskia knew very well that his heart belonged to Rose. He sighed softly, wondering if he could shut up his busy brain. Then he wondered if Saskia could still sense his thoughts and feelings, even though she was asleep. Why hadn't he asked her before he agreed to do this? Abruptly he remembered the inhibiting drug he'd persuaded her to take earlier. Hopefully it was working by now, so even if she would normally have known what he was thinking whilst she was sleeping, she wouldn't know tonight. He sighed again, more heavily, and Saskia shifted slightly. He realised that if he didn't stop his brain from running in circles like a hamster on a wheel, he would probably wake her up, and he knew she needed to sleep. She'd been through so much in the past four days, and it was all his fault, getting her caught up in the chaos of his existence. He tightened his arms around her protectively. He had half a mind to persuade her not to travel with him again once this was all over. It wasn't fair to her.

Finally he decided that he needed to distract himself or his brain would never stop buzzing in circles. He began to mentally recite Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. By the time he had reached Puck's closing remarks So, good night unto you all/Give me your hands, if we be friends,/And Robin shall restore amends, he was relaxed enough to fall into a light doze for a few hours. He never slept much anyway, he'd sleep enough when he was dead, but he did need to rest at least a little.

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