The Doctor opened his eyes, back in the TARDIS mediroom. Blood was smeared across some of the floor as well as the two of them. He inspected Miranda's sleeping form, carefully, making sure she wasn't still bleeding. It appeared that she was unharmed; all of the damage the Valeyard had done was reversed, from the gaping chest wound to his name on her back. He was relieved for he hadn't been entirely sure that the sped up healing process would carry through to her physical body.
Miranda began to stir. Once semi-awake, she shot up, realizing her head was resting in the Doctor's lap.
"Easy," the Doctor warned, "That healing required a load of energy. You should probably rest."
Miranda shook her head, feeling tired and slightly lightheaded. Despite her obvious exhaustion, she pushed herself away from the Doctor so there was at least a few feet between them. He watched her with a sad expression. Miranda sat on the floor with her arms crossed, subconsciously rubbing her upper arm where it had been nearly severed. Her eyes remained fixed on the blood smeared floor the whole time. She looked just as distraught and disturbed as before, not a hint of liberation in her demeanor. She seemed as the Valeyard had said, broken.
After a moment, the Doctor hung his head, resigning himself to the silence. No matter what danger he and his friends faced, what foe they fought, what destruction they witnessed, they were always able to come out of it intact. Battered and bruised, the Doctor and his companion could still manage a weary smile and share a laugh. But not now.
Now, they were just plain exhausted. Now, they were simply the Doctor and Miranda Cole. Two very separate people with very separate lives, only connected by a dead nightmare. Somehow, to him, this didn't feel like a victory.
When the Doctor noticed Miranda had gone rigid, now looking around the room with a worried expression, he decided he should give her some space. This was traumatic for her, after what took place; her mind had to be spinning. He stood up and extended a hand for her which she took after a moment's hesitation. Miranda stumbled as a wave of dizziness hit her.
"I've got you," the Doctor said, supporting her.
Miranda didn't look at him. Instead, she fixed her gaze on his bloody striped shirt. The Doctor fought the urge to fidget, feeling awkward.
"Why don't you a get change of clothes, eh? And some rest," he suggested, "You must be tired."
"No," she said suddenly, surprising him. She took a step back, out of his arms, still not meeting his gaze. "Can I… can I just go?"
The Doctor looked at her somewhat sadly and nodded. "Of course," he sniffed, rubbing his cheek, "Yeah. Definitely."
He led her through the TARDIS, making no detours. Miranda was silent the entire time, feeling more alert than before and able to walk without swaying. She was surprised when they reached the double doors. Part of her expected to be trapped there but the Doctor stood aside to let her pass.
It was still raining outside though not as heavily. The morning sun was just starting to come up, bathing the sky in a reddish glow. Miranda stepped into the rain and drew in a sharp breath. Suddenly the weight of everything fell on her shoulders. There was tightness in her chest and a stinging sensation in her eyes. This was really over, wasn't it?
"You're crying," the Doctor stated, walking up beside her.
Miranda looked at him as he had slapped her. "W-what?"
"You're crying," he told her again, glancing at her from the corner of his eye.
She shook her head and turned her back on him. "It's just raining."
The Doctor walked around Miranda so that he was standing in front of her. He waited until she averted her gaze up from his shoes. His eyes were compassionate yet still held a determination as he looked into hers.
"It's raining," he confirmed, "And you're crying."
She sighed and turned away from him again. "How can you tell?" she asked softly.
The Doctor shrugged, putting his hands in his pant pockets. "I'm just good with these things…" He tilted his head in thought. "And the air around you has a high saline flavor."
Miranda furrowed her brows at him. "Flavor? Are you saying you can taste my tears?"
He raised his brows and hesitated, feeling as if he shouldn't have mentioned it. "Well, more like smell but the olfactory senses are somewhat connected with the taste buds so, technically… yes?"
Miranda stared at him through the rain, appearing somewhat ill. The Doctor stared back, looking and feeling awkward. He cleared his throat. "Perhaps, I've said too much…"
Crossing her arms, Miranda frowned and seemed interested in the blood mixing with rain at her feet. "I should go," she said.
The Doctor perked up at her words. "Oh. Right," he said in a hollow tone, glancing at his shoes, "Can I walk you to your flat?"
"No," she replied quickly then added, "I'm fine."
The Doctor nodded, taking the hint. "Alright," he said, feigning a smile, "Goodbye, Miranda Cole."
She gave him one last look that conveyed nervousness as well as uncertainty. The rain had matted his hair over half of his face which he pushed away from his eyes. He looked odd in those clothes, she realized. After nearly her whole life seeing him in one outfit, it just seemed weird to picture him in anything else, even if there were bad memories attached to that image of him. She blinked and shook her head, snapping out of her mild trance then ducked her head. "Bye," she said, just before turning and hurrying away.
The Doctor watched her turn the corner quickly. He forced himself to smile as he headed back into the TARDIS. This was the start of her new life. Impossible Miranda Cole's new life, he liked the sound of that.
For the Doctor, this wasn't over. Not yet. One thing still didn't make sense. One very major thing.
He quickly changed out of the blood stained clothes into his typical attire and dried his hair. Flipping a few levers on the console, he stared grimly ahead, eyes dark and unfocused.
The grinding noise of the TARDIS' re-materialization filled the relatively quiet night. The Doctor took a deep breath before opening the door. He stepped out into the warm country air. Before him was a small pajama clad girl with light colored hair, headphones resting on her ears, bent over a kid-sized telescope.
She had been too absorbed in her stargazing to notice him or the glowing blue box behind her. This was it. This was the night nine year old Miranda Cole was pushed off the roof. This was the night the Valeyard latched onto her mind. This was the night her nightmares started.
Miranda looked up from her telescope and carefully walked over to the edge of the roof, staring up at the night sky. The Doctor needed to see who or what pushed her. He couldn't stop it. Every fiber of his being wanted it to be otherwise but he knew he couldn't intervene. If he stopped Miranda from falling off that roof then the Valeyard would have to find someone else to attach to and his chances of finding and saving them was very slim. It had to be Miranda. The only thing he could do was identify what pushed her and bring them to justice, or something close to it.
The Doctor waited.
Seconds dragged by and still nothing happened. He looked around and found nothing. There was absolutely no one around. Well, aside from…
"No," the Doctor whispered to himself.
Someone had to be coming. There wasn't much time left before she turned around, before she got off the roof. Someone had to come and push her. The Doctor scanned the area again and was reminded that he was the only one there.
This couldn't be it. It couldn't be him. Why? Why would it have to be him? Why was he always causing her some sort of torment?
He took a step closer to Miranda, both feeling and looking quite sick. He really had to do this. It was either push her and ruin most of her life or don't act and potentially let the Valeyard run amok destroying more innocent people. Either way, it was his fault.
The Doctor stood behind her, watching Miranda smile up at the stars. He shut his eyes, unable to look at her and stretched his arm out towards her. His hand was shaking slightly, fingers inches from her back. How could he actually go through with this? Why did it have to be-
The Doctor's eyes snapped open, shocked beyond shock to find Miranda no longer in front of him. He hadn't pushed her. He hadn't even touched her. Disbelievingly, he ran to the ledge and looked over. Sure enough, young Miranda lay sprawled out on the ground below with a head wound that would send her into a coma.
He spun around, trying to find what had done it, who had done it. A soft wind blew across the rooftop, ruffling his coat slightly. There was nothing that stood out. No sign of anything or anyone there besides him. He quickly retrieved his sonic and slowly scanned the area in a semi-circle motion. The claw extended and he brought it close to his face. The reading indicated nothing abnormal, not a trace of any life forms.
Something was wrong, he thought as he slowly backed into the TARDIS. Something was very wrong and he didn't know what. And whatever it was, it had everything to do with Miranda.
Once inside, the Doctor leaned against the console, deep in thought as the TARDIS maintained a standard orbit around Earth. He was missing something, a very important something. Something that should be quite obvious, staring him straight in the face but nothing came to mind. How could he miss it? How could be not see what had literally been in front of him?
He scuffed his shoe in the floor, dejectedly. "Because my bleeding' eyes were closed!" he scowled, running a hand through his fringe, "How could it- is it even an it? - go undetected? Why could it slip by so easily?"
Suddenly, a loud wailing noise filled the TARDIS. The Doctor froze, his mind identifying the source almost immediately.
"Oh, you have got to be kidding me!" he shouted above the clamor, "Not the whirly alarm!"
The Doctor trotted over to the hanging monitor and tapped it a few times, bringing a picture into focus. Onscreen was a small patch of blue insects, electricity jumping between their bodies. "Okay, you can kill the alarm! I get it!"
The whirly alarm cut off, leaving a high ringing in the room. The Doctor stuck his pinky finger in his ear and jingled it around, trying to stop the irritating sound. He shook his head and looked back at the screen.
"Just my luck! Seriously! Am I going to run into every electromite swarm in this galaxy?" the Doctor asked incredulously, "There shouldn't even be more than one swarm in the Milky Way; there's not enough energy to sustain them."
The monitor showed the swarm moving away from them.
"Well… there's nothing to worry about, not this time. The swarm doesn't appear to be interested in us, besides they shouldn't be able to penetrate the exterior shell. Don't know how they did the first time though. Really doesn't make sense."
He shrugged, "Doesn't matter. Actually it's a good thing they did because if they hadn't found a way in then… Hold on."
The Doctor's eyes widened and his mouth formed a small 'o' as a thought struck him. "They didn't find a way in. They couldn't have. There is no way in, not for an electromite swarm. The TARDIS exterior has stopped countless creatures, countless bits of the most advanced technology from thwarting her defenses, how a bunch of little pests get through?"
He spun around, facing the TARDIS doors. "They couldn't… They didn't!"
After pausing a moment, he flung into action, racing towards the doors. He wretched them open and searched for the swarm. He spotted them easily; just past the oxygen field that surrounded the TARDIS. He removed his shoes, tossing them on the floor and then his socks which he put on his hands. The Doctor took a moment to grin at the silliness of it then jumped from the ship, immediately suspended by the low gravity. His bare foot snagged the top of the doorway to prevent himself from drifting too far from his ship.
He smiled slightly, briefly caught up in the moment then corrected himself. Arms extended towards the swarm of electromites, he began rubbing his hands together vigorously. After a good minute, he could feel static. The Doctor looked from his now electrically charged socks then at the swarm. Although it was a minute amount of electricity, it was still enough for the electromites to detect. Not long after, a few daring blue insects drifted towards him.
"That's it. C'mon, a little closer…" he murmured, watching them intently. One came within reach and then, "Ha!" the Doctor exclaimed, grabbing the electromite with his sock covered hand. With his free hand, he pulled the sock inside out, trapping the tiny insect inside.
He let out a yelp as the electromite zapped him and didn't hold the sock so tightly then. Bending his knees, he was able to maneuver back inside the TARDIS, dropping to the ground as the gravity took hold of him.
"Alright, my buggy little friend, time to make you an enemy," he said, striding over to the console.
The Doctor punched in a few keys, flipped three levers, twirled a circular knob then held onto a hand grip on the console as the TARDIS lurched towards its destination. The TARDIS landed on Earth, precisely England and more precisely Leadworth and most specifically, three days ago.
After throwing his shoes back on and stuffing the sock in his pocket, the Doctor poked his head out of the TARDIS then fully emerged.
"Saturday," he smiled, "Good. Saturdays are very good. Even this one…"
"Did you hear that?" a girl asked, some ways off, her Scottish accent unmistakable.
The TARDIS had landed a little closer than he'd have liked but was grateful for the high hedges that hid him and his ship from view. He crouched by the hedge and listened.
"Hear what?" questioned a man with a nasally voice.
"It sounded like the TARDIS," she said, her voice a little closer.
"Yeah? We just stepped out of it," the man replied, sounding confused.
"Hearing things, Pond?" another man asked.
The Doctor grinned as he heard himself speak. Now it made sense.
"I'm not hearing things! I heard the TARDIS. The grind-y noise, the brakes, the… the sound!" Amy whined, "How did you not hear it?"
"Well the TARDIS is right here," the past Doctor stated, "Must've been something else."
"It was probably the wind," Rory suggested.
"It wasn't the wind," Amy muttered.
"Okay!" the Doctor heard himself exclaim, "Well, best wishes and uh best…of luck."
He cringed at the memory. It was terrible.
"Oh, no you don't!" Amy exclaimed, "You're not running off that quick!"
"I'm not?" the Doctor questioned, uncertainly.
The Doctor remembered Amy grabbing his arm and pulling him towards the house. "C'mon! You aren't leaving until fish fingers and custard."
"Right…" Rory drawled once they were both in the house, "You never explained what that was about. Is fish fingers code for something…?"
The Doctor waited until Rory went inside before squeezing through the hedges. He hurried over to the past TARDIS and unlocked the door, hoping no one saw him. Once inside, he withdrew the sock from his coat and released the electromite. It hovered in front of him for a moment, staring with its tiny yellow eyes as he sonicked it. The electromite buzzed and vibrated then suddenly split in two before disappearing into the console.
"Mutation, check! Sorry girl," the Doctor told the TARDIS as he was leaving. He poked his head back in quickly and added, "I'm never going to say this again but when you land, make it a… Sunday!"
The Doctor locked the TARDIS doors and gave her a pat.
"Oy! Where are you going?"
The Doctor jumped and spun around to find an irritated looking Amy standing in her doorway.
"Me? What? No, I wasn't escaping!" he said, looking at her with a deer-in the-headlights expression.
"Escaping?" she repeated angrily.
"Did I say escaping? No, I was just checking that I locked the doors."
Amy crossed her arms. "I don't believe you."
"No, really. Just give me a moment; I'll be right with you… Promise."
"Rory, that's not how you use a stove!" the past Doctor yelled from inside the house. Amy's eyes widened and she turned to look inside, giving the Doctor a chance to dive through the hedge. That was close, he thought, gathering himself from the ground.
"I am NOT imagining things!" he heard Amy shout from inside the house, "I was just talking to you outside!"
The Doctor gave a lopsided smirk before entering the TARDIS. The next destination was already set in his mind, just a little east of Leadworth. He flipped a lever and cranked a large wheel. There was a deep thud and the vertical column of the console began moving, the classic sound of dematerialization filling the room.
The Doctor grinned. "This time, make sure it isn't Sunday!"
I almost couldn't walk away from that alley. It was frightening to think that my life was going to be different, even if it was for the better. I didn't quite believe it at the time. I knew what had happened was real although it made no sense. Nothing ever made sense actually. Walking away from that alley was so surreal; it felt as if I was in a proper dream.
I remember a peculiar noise. A repeated sort of grinding screeching noise as if someone quickly stepped on the brakes. I still can't place it but I remember it clearly. I was curious then and wanted to see what was making the sound but I didn't allow myself to. I didn't even look back. The next day however, I did. I went back to that alley and found nothing. Not a trace of the Doctor or his blue police box.
I 'm not sure how I feel about it. In one sense, I'm glad he's vanished- not to sound ungrateful. But also, that curious part of me can't help but wonder about him. There are still so many questions I have. I doubt they'll be ever answered but it doesn't stop me from obsessing over them. I wish I had thanked him at least but again, it seems my opportunity has passed. The Doctor has gone like a fleeting reverie, not likely to come back.
It's been two months. It's been difficult to cope. However sick it might seem, I was used to living in terror and now that I'm truly on my own, I can't rid myself of the feeling. I know he's not there, the Nightmare Man. But in a sense, he is. The emotional trauma he inflicted over the years goes far deeper than any physical injury. Things won't get easy any time soon, I won't fool myself, but, I think, in time these mental scars will start to fade.
I never had hope before and I very much like it. I do believe that I'll have proper life, a proper future, someday. There is no doubt in my mind of that fact. But before I pick up the pieces, I need to shut my eyes and breathe. Finally, I can rest. For the first time in so many years, I can close my eyes and not be afraid because I know, I truly know, that this nightmare is over.
AN: Wow. I can't believe I finished a story. First time for everything!
I just want to thank everyone who has been with me during this and everyone who reviewed. It meant so much and definitely made finishing this possible. Still, don't forget to tell me what you thought of this chapter and the story as a whole! The ending is most important so I'm anticipating some feedback!
Don't leave just yet! There's still vital information coming! (Really) Can you believe… THERE'S A SEQUEL?
I don't want to give away too much but obviously the Doctor and Miranda will be seeing each other again, if you couldn't tell from the last few scenes.
Okay, guys and gals, this is it. I hope to hear from you all in the future. Cheers!
(EDIT- The sequel is posted! It's called "A Dying Dream". Give it a go!)