15 April 2007

Oxford Ostinato - Chapter 2 Part 3

The Doctor watched Saskia walk away, a look of surprise and bemusement on his face. He wasn't quite sure what to make of her just at the moment. Then he shook his head, as if to clear it, and turned to the TARDIS console. He wanted to run an analysis on the readings he'd taken from Marie before she died. It wasn't much data, but it was something to be going on with until he had the chance to use the more sensitive TARDIS scanners to take some readings. He hoped the coroner would be less hostile than the paramedics had been. Then he remembered that he needed to check where he would find Dr Price the following day. He ran a quick search, then turned to downloading and analysing the readings from his Sonic Screwdriver.

Saskia undressed, then pulled on her favourite pyjamas before crawling into bed. She felt that a week's sleep would be very welcome, never mind a few hours. She found herself sleepily wondering how she'd dared to kiss the Doctor. Perhaps it was because this evening was the first time since she'd met him that he'd seemed genuinely happy. Before she could give the matter any more thought she had fallen asleep.

A few hours later she woke in a panic from a nightmare in which an alien entity had been trying to steal her mind. She sat bolt upright in bed and looked around the room, checking that she was really alone. She sat with her arms wrapped around her knees for a few minutes, then decided she didn't want to try to sleep again just in case she went back into the same nightmare. She picked up her dressing gown from the chair beside her bed, and pulled it on, then padded out of her room, her bare feet noiseless in the quiet corridors.
When Saskia opened the kitchen door a few minutes later, she was surprised to find the Doctor seated at the table, a book open in front of him and a mug of tea by his right hand. He was wearing his glasses, his bow tie was hanging loose around his neck, and his hair was sticking up wildly.
"Hello," he said. "I didn't expect to see you for a good few hours yet."
"I had a nightmare," Saskia said as she sat down beside him. "I don't want to go back to sleep again just yet in case I just have the same nightmare again."
"A nightmare? What was it about?" the Doctor asked curiously.
"An alien entity was trying to steal my mind. I was strapped onto a hospital trolley in a brightly lit basement. It wasn't a hospital, though." She shivered suddenly. "It was rather horrible, actually."
The Doctor got up and pulled off his tuxedo jacket. "Here, put this on. I'll make you some herbal tea to help you sleep." He gave her the jacket, then opened a cupboard for a mug and some teabags.
Saskia pulled off her dressing gown, pulled on his jacket which smelled of fresh air and cinnamon for some reason, then put on her dressing gown again. She wished she had put something on her feet as they suddenly felt cold, which seemed odd since she had often walked around the TARDIS barefoot before and never had cold feet. She crossed her right ankle over her left leg and began rubbing her foot, trying to warm it up.

The Doctor turned around and saw Saskia rubbing her foot. He raised his eyebrows.
"My feet are cold," Saskia explained. "Although I don't know why. They've never felt cold before when I've walked barefoot around the TARDIS."
"Hmm. That's odd." The Doctor pulled out his Sonic Screwdriver, then hunkered down beside Saskia's chair. "May I?" he asked, gesturing at Saskia's foot.
She stretched out her leg and he cradled her foot in one hand whilst scanning it with his Sonic Screwdriver. "Other one," he said, putting her foot down.
Saskia offered him her other foot and he scanned that too.
"Hmm. Your feet do seem to be several degrees cooler than your legs. How strange." He put away his Sonic Screwdriver then began rubbing Saskia's foot vigorously. "I hope you're not ticklish," he said suddenly.
Saskia raised her eyebrows. "Ticklish?"
"A lot of people are very ticklish on their feet," the Doctor explained.
"Oh. Well I've no idea, no one's ever tried tickling my feet."
"What never?" asked the Doctor in surprise.
"Not that I can recall."
Before the Doctor could answer, the kettle switched itself off, and he put Saskia's foot back on the floor, then got up to make her tea. He put the mug on the table beside her. "It's Camomile and Honey," he told her. "It should help you to sleep."
"Are you feet still cold?" he asked.
Saskia nodded. The Doctor pulled his chair away from the table, positioned it in front of her and sat down. He patted his knees. "Put them up here," he said.
Saskia lifted her feet up and the Doctor began rubbing her feet vigorously again, one after the other, whilst Saskia slowly drank her tea. She realised she was starting to feel sleepy again, probably because she was warmer, she thought drowsily.
"Mmm." Saskia realised her eyes were closed and opened them reluctantly.
"Come on, back to bed with you. If you fall asleep there, you'll feel uncomfortable quite quickly."
"Mmm." Saskia felt the Doctor lift her feet from his knees and forced her eyes open again. "Sorry," she said, then yawned hugely, her eyes closing again. She heard the scrape of the Doctor's chair as he got up and knew she should move too, but her body felt too heavy.
"Come on." The Doctor spoke in her ear. He pulled her to her feet, then hooked her right arm around his shoulders, before picking her up. He carried her out of the kitchen and back to her room. He sat her on her bed, pulling off her dressing gown and his jacket. Saskia opened her eyes and looked up at him sleepily. "Thank you."
"No problem. Lie down then."
Saskia obeyed, and the Doctor pulled the bedding up over her. He kissed her forehead. "Sleep well," he said, then turned out the light and left her to sleep. He was a bit surprised that the tea he had given her had proved so effective, and wondered why. He dismissed the thought for another day and went back to the kitchen to wash up their mugs, before taking his book back to the library, where he settled down to read in his favourite chair.

About three hours later he was jolted out of a light doze by the sound of screaming. He leapt out of the chair, shot across the room and through the door, before running down the corridor to Saskia's room. He flung open the door and flicked on the light. Saskia was lying absolutely rigid on the bed, her arms at her sides. He hurried across the room, grabbed her shoulders and attempted to pull her upright. He was appalled when he discovered that he couldn't move her.
"Saskia!" The Doctor wondered if she was having some sort of brain seizure and pulled out his Sonic Screwdriver. A quick scan showed that she was still asleep and dreaming. He pocketed his Sonic Screwdriver and sat down beside her on the bed. He placed two long fingers behind her ears, and two in front on her temples, closed his eyes and reached into her mind.

At first Saskia's nightmare was just a confused impression of noise: a woman was screaming, and a man was yelling at someone else, who was shouting back at him. The second person rushed to the side of the man who was trying to give an injection to the woman as she lay strapped helplessly to a hospital trolley. The second person, a man the Doctor now realised, was trying to stop the woman from screaming. As the first man moved his arm, the Doctor caught a glimpse of the woman's face and realised with a sense of shock that he recognised it. He'd been looking at her face just a few hours ago, after failing to save her from a heart attack.
The Doctor dragged his gaze away and looked for Saskia, finding her huddled in a corner, staring at the scene that was unfolding in her dream. The Doctor reached out to her and pulled her away. Come on Saskia, come back with me. Saskia! Come with me! The Doctor felt a surge of relief when she turned to him and he was able to pull them both out of her nightmare.
He opened his eyes and saw Saskia's green ones looking up at him, a look of fear in their depths. He took his hands from her head, then pulled her into a tight hug, feeling her shaking with fright.
"It's OK, Saskia, it's OK," he murmured softly.
She clung to him tightly, trying not to cry or whimper. Like the Doctor, she had recognised the woman in her dream as Marie, the cellist who had died just a few hours ago. She had no idea what the dream meant, but she had been terrified by Marie's sense of fear and helplessness. She realised now that her earlier nightmare had only been a prelude to this one. She couldn't work out why she was dreaming about Marie, or what had happened to her. Why had those men strapped Marie to a trolley? And what did they know about the disappearances of Martin and Steve?
Saskia's shudders subsided and she loosened her tight grip on the Doctor, and looked at him, to find his warm brown eyes looking anxiously back at her.
"Are you OK?" he asked.
She nodded.
"Was that the same woman you saw in your earlier nightmare?" the Doctor asked.
"Yes, although I didn't see her face before, so I didn't realise it was Marie the cellist."
"I wonder why you're dreaming about her now, when she's dead?" The Doctor sounded thoughtful and curious.
"And what did those men do to her?" Saskia asked. "One of them is the same chap who was talking to Steve and Martin in the pub on Monday night. I recognised him from Martin's memory."
"Which man was the one they met?"
"The one giving the injection," Saskia answered.
"It's definitely the same man?" asked the Doctor.
"Yes, unless he's got a twin brother."
"We'll have to go to the pub and see if anyone can recognise his description, tell us who he is. I want to know what he's up to, and who he's working with or for." The Doctor's tone was fierce, his face hard with anger.

"I'm going to have a shower and get dressed," Saskia said. "I don't know what time it is, but I really don't want to try to sleep again. Two nightmares in one night is more than enough."
"It's five in the morning," the Doctor said, standing up and stretching languidly.
"Then I'm definitely getting up," Saskia said.
"OK. I think I'll go and have a shower too. I'll see you in the kitchen in a bit."
Saskia nodded her agreement, then turned to pick up her dressing gown as the Doctor went out. She wondered if a shower would make up for her disturbed sleep. Probably not, she decided, but it might make her feel a bit better.

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