Chapter Twelve

Forgiveness

Ashley opened her eyes and gasped, and then she closed them quickly again. The brightness had burned bright shapes on her retinas and she watched them for a moment before attempting to open her eyes again. She did so tentatively, opening the left eye first – slowly – followed by the right. Then she glanced around.

The room she was in was white. White floor, white ceiling, white walls. She lay there for a moment, feeling the soft surface beneath her and the unfamiliar light feeling of cotton on her skin. For a moment she thought she was dead. Would make sense as the last thing she could remember was being shot in the chest. She lifted a hand and touched her chest, and then hissed in pain. Although it wasn't her chest that had hurt like she had expected, it was her hand. She looked at it, eyebrows knitted together. The whole of the palm of her hand and the insides of her fingers were red and blistered. She winced and poked the palm of her hand, resulting in nothing but an awful stinging sensation. She hissed through her teeth.

And then remembered.

She lay back as she replayed the memories in her head. Then she sat upright suddenly with the Doctor's name in her throat. She sat up too quickly and she come over all dizzy. She put her uninjured hand to her head and closed her eyes, waiting for the feeling to pass.

There was a crackle of static from somewhere and she glanced up in alarm. Then a familiar voice.

'Ashley?'

Her heart jumped. 'Doctor?'

She looked around frantically and finally saw him. A sudden wave of emotion engulfed her and she actually whimpered. He stood on the other side of a window, holding a phone to his ear. His right arm was strapped up loosely to his chest and he had various small plasters on his face and arms. For once he wasn't wearing his shirt and suit. He was wearing a regular black t-shirt. In it he looked like any other normal human being. Any other normal injured human being.

Despite his many burns and scrapes, he smiled weakly at her. It only made her heart ache even more for what she had done to him. She slid down off the bed she had been lying on and looked down at herself. She was dressed in a plain white hospital gown. She started to walk but her left leg wasn't as strong as she had anticipated, causing her to stumble.

'They put a lot of drugs in your system,' the Doctor explained to her, almost apologetically. 'They wanted to do some tests, so you might be a bit woozy for a while.'

Ashley made her way to the window and stood at it. She looked at him, unable to stop the tears welling up in her eyes. He looked back. For a moment she thought he was going to cry too. Instead he blinked and looked past her.

'I've been talking to the scientists,' he said into the phone, sounding like he was trying considerably hard to sound jovial. 'And we put all of our dribs and drabs of information together and came up with a solution to what was going on there. Turns out it was the ocean. The uh… it was a defence mechanism. Oh how do I explain it…' He clicked his fingers and frowned, searching for a good explanation. Ashley watched him sadly. 'Think of the ocean like a big, big amoeba, and it splits and divides all the time into new forms. Well a single drip is like a completely new life form and if that gets into your system its soul purpose is to push your body to its limit. And when you push a human body to its limit it breaks down, doesn't it? Hallucinates. You're all so imaginative that you get paranoid and invent things. The whole idea of that is to prevent creatures from invading its space. I was telling the scientists that if they sent an excavation team – which I told them they definitely shouldn't – they would probably find layers upon layers of skeletons on the seabed. That's why they couldn't distinguish any beings on that planet. It's because they were in it.' He looked moderately proud with his explanation, but when he saw the look on Ashley's face, his smile fell.

She tried to smile for him. 'Do I need a uh… a phone?' she asked in a wavering voice.

He smiled back a little. 'No. I can hear you.'

She tried to hold the smile, but her lip trembled. 'I'm so sorry…' she sobbed suddenly. She put a hand to her mouth and shook her head. Her chest hitched as sobs racked through her.

The Doctor looked pained. His own eyes welled up. 'I know.' He told her. 'It's okay.'

'It's not okay!' she cried, her voice muffled behind her hand. 'I could have killed you!'

'But you didn't,' he tried to smile. 'That's the main thing. Look?' He prodded himself in the arm. 'Still here.' He winced and rubbed his arm. 'Okay I better not do that for a while.'

Ashley wiped her eyes with the heel of her palm. 'You should leave me here.' She told him with a big, wet sniff. 'I'm too dangerous.'

The Doctor frowned. 'What? Now why would I leave you here? It's very boring you know.'

She looked at him in confusion, wiping away the wetness from her cheeks. She sniffed again and blinked. 'What?'

He was smiling at her, but this didn't stop tears rolling down his own cheeks. 'Come on,' he said. 'If I left you here I wouldn't have anyone to play badminton with on the moon.'

Ashley laughed a little, looking down. The laugh didn't last long though and her bottom lip quivered again. She looked up again, biting the inside of her mouth to control the overwhelming emotions.

'Are you okay though?' she managed to ask in a wavering voice.

'Me?' The Doctor screwed up his nose. 'I'm fine. I've had a lot worse than this. There was this one time where I absorbed the heart of the Tardis. That hurt quite a bit. Killed me actually… well… technically. I also had Spectrox toxaemia… actually that killed me too…'

Ashley was suddenly smiling. Then she laughed. Then she sobbed a little, and then laughed again. The Doctor watched her sadly, and then put his hand on the glass.

'Well be out of here soon.' He told her. 'We'll get far away from here. Forget about all of this.'

Ashley looked up at him. She put her burnt and blistered hand over his and shook her head sadly. 'We won't forget it.' She said, solemnly.

The Doctor just looked bad at her. He kept his hand where it was, over hers, and they stood in silence.

She was right. They wouldn't forget. There were too many scars.

THE END


A/N: Well this was one of the most depressing stories in the world to write! Don't know how it felt to read it... but I guess it was a heck of a lot different from 'The Lonesome Shapeshifter' eh? I don't know how I feel about this story to be honest, I've never been good with angst. Had to be done though. Needed to be done really for the final episodes. Thanks to everyone reading and reviewing - big special thanks to ScreamsOnScreen and Gracie O'Malley who are the best reviewers ever - seriously it's nearly every chapter lol! You both rock xD And everyone else as well, you all rock. Like rock cakes! I haven't had a rock cake for ages...

ANYWHO... I suppose this brings us on to Episode 9. Yeah... well, uh... I kind of don't have any ideas so you might have a long wait for that one... Unless someone wants to help and give me an idea? Oh god that's awful of me, resorting to begging for ideas lol!... forget I did... I can think of my own - might just take a while xD