15 April 2007

Oxford Ostinato - Prologue Part 2

"Besides, I'd be dishonest if I didn't admit that having a telepathic Companion has the potential to be very useful."
"Even if I frighten you?" Saskia asked.
"Yes." He gave her a steady look. "I've done some pretty ruthless things myself, in the past. Things that I later wished I had done differently, but what's done is done. Despite the fact I have a time machine, I can't go back and change things, any more than you can."
"Do you wish we could?" Saskia asked.
"Could what?"
"Go back and change what I did?" She stared down at the glass in her hand.
The Doctor reached out and took the glass from her, setting it down carefully. Then he took both her hands in his own. "Saskia, I have to give you an honest answer, and the honest answer is that I wish you'd told me what you were planning to do. I'd have looked for a different way to use the psychic projection you created. Something that would have allowed us to get the Grimoire to safety before we handed Jackson and his men over to the Council, for them to be dealt with according to your people's system of justice." He looked thoughtfully at Saskia's downcast face. "Let's eat, then we'll talk," he suggested.
She nodded agreement and they ate quietly. The Doctor slightly regretted that their conversation had turned so serious and spoilt the mood he'd been aiming for. He'd wanted to give Saskia a treat to make up for the past few days. But he was also aware that they hadn't really discussed what she had done to Jackson, nor why she had done it, and he knew it was something they needed to talk about, and sooner was better than later.

The Doctor repacked their picnic hamper, then stretched out on his back, his head resting on his coat, his eyes closed. Saskia wondered if he was planning to take a nap, but then he spoke.
"Can you show me, or tell me, what you were thinking and feeling that led you to create the psychic projection, and what followed on from that?"
"Yes," Saskia answered, then stretched out beside the Doctor. She took his left hand in her right one, closed her eyes and led him through her memories. He didn't speak, just watched and listened as Saskia's memories unfolded. Afterwards he was silent for several minutes, his thoughts opaque to Saskia, partly because she had been blocking his thoughts in order to show him her memories, but also because he had been shielding his thoughts as well.
"I didn't realise you knew Jeff that well," he said, finally breaking the silence.
"I worked with him a few times, going through old documents," Saskia answered. "We weren't as close as I was to Luca, but I counted Jeff a friend, so I was angry at what Jackson's thugs did to him."
"And to me," the Doctor said neutrally.
"Yes!" Saskia's tone was more forceful.
"I've been knocked about before," he said.
"I know! I was there when the Devron attacked you," she answered, her voice sharp with annoyance now. She sat up abruptly.
The Doctor sat up too, folding his legs up until he was sitting cross-legged. "Yes, and you rescued my mind from the Devron at considerable risk to you own, for which I am very grateful. But my point was that if I'm very badly injured, I can regenerate. You mustn't let concern for me dictate a course of action to you, especially if that action is going to lead you to go against your nature. You told me a few days ago, before we came to Earth the first time, that violence amongst the Empathia is rare. Yet in the last few days you've been responsible for the deaths of four men, not to mention knocking out Luca."
Saskia opening her mouth to retort, but the Doctor held up his hands.
"I know. Luca got off rather lightly, given the fact that he sent Jackson's thugs after Jeff. I also know that your mind has been infected with the rage of the Devron from its attempts to take the TARDIS from us. The last few days have been very intense and you've had to deal with a lot. Not all of what you've done is your fault. But your mental powers have become immensely strong and they can be dangerous to you, and to those around you. I'm not condemning you for what you did to Jackson and his men, but I am asking you to talk to me, another time. Using the psychic projection was a genius idea, but tell me what you're planning next time. Don't keep me in the dark, please, but trust me and I will trust you."

Saskia stared blindly at the patterned picnic rug. She didn't know what to say. She had felt guilty about what she had done to Jackson and his men almost as soon as she had done it. She knew the Doctor's comments were justified, but she felt hurt at the thought that he might not trust her. She looked up and met the Doctor's dark eyes. "Do you want me to go home?" she asked, swallowing a lump in her throat.
"No. I told you, not very many hours ago, that I would rather travel with you than almost anyone else. I meant that. All I want you to do is talk to me and trust me with your powers. Will you promise me that?"
She nodded.
"Thank you." He stood up, then offered her his hand. She took it and he pulled her to her feet. "This wasn't quite the treat I planned," he said ruefully. "Let's see if I can make it up to you."
She nodded again and the Doctor saw she was close to tears. "Come here," he said, and pulled her into a hug. He held her for some time, rubbing her back between her shoulder blades. He felt rather than heard her sobs, and when they had subsided, he pulled away from her a little, his hands on her shoulders. "Come on, let's go back to the TARDIS for a bit." He picked up and refolded the picnic rug before shrugging himself into his suit jacket. He retrieved his coat and tie, shoving the latter into his jacket pocket. Then he picked up the picnic rug and hamper. They headed back to the TARDIS, unaware that they were being watched from the far bank of the river.

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