The Unthinkable Series
'Far Beyond the Bruising (Something Underneath)'
A/N: I'm highly sorry for the delay over this chapter. Believe it or not, it was partially handwritten three months (and maybe a week!) ago and has been sitting, fully transcribed and (very) close to how you see it now for nearly two and a half months. The reason?: This chapter is not like the others. Literally. Not only is it written from Eleven's POV (which is odd enough, I'm sure), but his way of seeing the situation they are currently in is vastly different from Rory's own. Hopefully it will still have the basic feel of the overall fic, but the tone is much, much darker. More bleak if you will. If you have looked over the warnings at the beginning, you will see some of the ones you've likely been scratching your head about come heavily into play here. Horror, Mental Breakdown and Hallucinations to be specific. So be prepared. Eleven's outlook is quite, quite different in comparison. But hopefully, you can see where he is coming from.
A/N 2: Beta'd, fussed over and generally cheerleaded by my Awesome Fic-Wifey, lonewytch. Sweetie, without you this Verse would never have been. And without your continued cajoling, smacking, kisses and encouragement, this chapter would never have happened! Thank you, as always, for everything! This fic is a gift not only to her, but to my ever patient and lovely Noerue. I know it is WAY LATE for your birthday, lovely lady (and I don't know if it is the best present ever), but hopefully you enjoy all the same for how belated it is. Thank you, sweetie, for the sweet words and massive love you have given for this fiction. I certainly hope you like it, dear! As always, I take full responsibility for any sentence structure fails, spelling cock-ups and any grammatical oh-noes that may be found. I hope everyone who reads enjoys this chapter, even with any faults that may be therein.
The throaty rumble of the Time Rotor felt like cool, liquid silver in his mind. The feeling-sound was so, so faint, but if he laid his fingers (gently, reverently), on the third strut just under the glass of the console floor (a mere two inches from the Artron actuators), She would hum through the press of his fingers, cascading light-sound-color through his neuron pathways. He would be One with Her again and ohh, how missed that; the ability to touch and be touched. He was no longer allowed that comfort, not since –
Mustn't think of that.
Her inner workings were dusty, sleepy and dim from neglect – so he wired, dusted, tightened and fussed. Stabilizers hooked carefully back into Her actuators, capacitors cleaned, polished and reinserted into the servos. The work was soothing, calming – the frenetic jumping of his mind eased in the carefully detached concentration of his work. The coppery-steel loops of Her flux coils pressed faint grooves into the pads of his fingers, the feel of them warm and heavy-light, the whip-thin cables looped over the fragile flex of his wrists, their ticklish weight familiar and lulling.
He had missed touch, the sensation of it. He had missed feeling.
He occasionally had reprieves –
Forbidden, wrong, necessary (penance and freedom)
that he should know better than to indulge in. But indulge he did and the price to be paid –
Don't think on it…
Right now there was just the liquid hiss of the flux generators, the soft wheeze of Her Time regulators and the never-before-noticed heft of his torque wrench. He reflexively curled his fingers around the wrench's grip, the padding worn, tattered and patched over with leather tape. The frayed, spiky pieces of peeling tape scratched fine lines across his palm, the metal underneath cold (even to his touch) – an ache in his knuckles as he attempted to crush his fingers, the wrench in his trembling hold.
He could feel –
Don't think…don't think –
he could feel what he was not-thinking unfold beneath the hollow of his throat, the sharp jut of his breastbone.
He was gray, fading, unmaking –
He could taste the acidic sob leaking (leaching) from that tender spot under his sternum, flashes of smoky-red threading through, obscuring his vision –
Mad (with relief) – I've finally gone the way of the Outsiders. I'm mad, I have to be. Please let this be Madness –
The tingling heat of thick, liquid life ached across the whispered stretch of his skin, daubed high across his left cheek. The coppery sweetness of it spattered carelessly along his lips –
Oh great gods – stop-it,stop-it,stop-it!
He choked on the regulated oxygen atmosphere, the delicate sip of it a toxic curl across his palate. Airship engines thudded soundless and dull behind his ears. Nitrogen and cordite seared the fine hairs in his nose, etching fire down the delicate lining of his throat. His ears sang with screeching silence, chest tightening-tightening-tightening, hearts slamming murky-slow against the numb slats of his ribcage.
Please, please, please –
The double-wrapped cords of Her regulator cables bit viciously into the sensitized flesh of his hands and a flare of hysterical relief shot molten lightening down the eggshell fragility of his spine. The sob of horror –
Stop it, don't think!
for something half-forgotten (dreamed?) shivered along the clenched prison of his jaw, across his teeth – saltwater welling and fading towards the back of his throat, the flesh feeling raw and serrated. He gasped in a breath that shouldn't (didn't) belong to him –
the whimpering ripple of his skin splitting around the patchy hasp of the torque wrench; a further sweet, jolting relief that had him snatching another startled breath.
Thank-you-please, thank-you-oh-please –
The torque wrench's head scored an angry line into his cheek, cool metal pressed tight to the ridge of bone. Cables embedding themselves into the flesh of his fingers, wrists and palms, his own life-force pattering in haphazard splashes on the floor beneath his feet: big patterns of crimson pain as the TARDIS hummed in sorrowful protest, Her liquid silver now a maroon shriek and oh Rassilon if he had just been three nanoseconds slower, she would still be –
'You will destroy him, too.' A sibilant whisper from the shuffling darkness of his mind. 'Corruption, decay – you. Will. Destroy. Him.'
I know, I know – please –
He gasped for treacherous breath and –
The throaty rumble of the Time Rotor felt like cool, liquid silver in his mind –
We've done this.
The feeling-sound so, so faint –
But if he laid his fingers (gently, reverently), on the third strut…
'You will bring destruction to him – you have brought destruction to him.'
Deep, slow kisses (beautiful, so beautiful) in the dark – 'I can be anyone you want, I can be what you need –' pleasure-pain-torturous-beautiful-ooh-please…
'Traitor. Betrayer. Liar. THIEF.'
The torque wrench –
Where did that come from?
fell from nerveless fingers, clattering to the floor with a dull thunk of resonance. The cables from Her regulators whispered out of his other hand (palm outstretched) unlooping along his wrists, across his fingers in whickering streams of hissing sound.
I don't – I can't – why am I? –
"Please," he croaked, weak-weak-weak, those treacherous fingers splayed, warding off, denying – keeping away an enemy, pushed away from himself, the hum of his own voice shuddering through him –
Touching…I was touching –
ancient crumbles of gore lay embedded, caught in the loops and whorls of the ageless flesh of his hand.
"No," the word clogged against the back of his tongue, choking him with his own denial.
'Thief,' thudded blackly from behind his eardrums and he closed his eyes, as though to hear it better.
"Thief." The taste of the truth was cloying and syrup-thick, but he didn't say it – he didn't.
"Call yourself a Doctor."
His eyes pried themselves awake/open/apart and he saw those same loops, whorls (patterns) five feet away, palms outstretched (to ward himself off). The grey scream of his own visage spattered crimson – that fresh purple-red of carnage etched deep into his flesh, soaked into those loops and whorls of his palms, his fingers – steeped wetly into his shirt cuffs, his tweeds (bowtie more purple than blue), the taste of her (Amy) thickly copper-sweet and so, so bright –
"Oh, Rassilon," he said/thought, the creak of his voice issued from his own throat, the grate of his vocal chords raw from the endless, airless screaming in his mind. "Oh, please, please – no-no-no –"
The Other/the Doctor/the Other stayed crouched just under the fifth strut, the cramped curl of its body a gruesome mirror of his own.
"Thief." It said again in a dusty, hoarse voice. Blood flaked from its lips, those eyes wide and forever haunted – flesh cracked and papery-transparent. The horror of what it was beneath shining blankly from the whisper-thin threads of those cracks, the feverish chill of its eyes.
"Doctor…" It rattled, hands outstretched and so, so sticky-wet with maroon murder. "Doctor-Doctor-Doctor –"
"Please, no –" the Doctor sobbed, airless, blind as he recognized the splayed, pristine gleam of the backs of his own hands (though he could feel it, yes he could) –
Touching…I was touching –
Choking on his own cry of horrified agony, mind tilting to that grey abyss within as he absorbed the unsympathetic understanding on the Other's face.
"Keep her together…heal her," it rasped faintly.
The broken cradle of her skull – fragmented and so, so warm (hot) as her Life poured away from the protective cage of his treacherous (useless) fingers to be eaten by the greedy dust of the cracked ground…
"Amy…Amelia-Amelia-Amelia," he moaned, feeling something inside –
Where was not important.
crack-snap and fall away (again and again and again). "Oh, Rassilon, please no – no-no-no, Amy –"
"Get up," he implored to the backs of his fingers.
Traitor. Betrayer. Thief. Liar. SHAM.
"No," helpless denial.
You dare to touch what is hers? To touch what doesn't belong to you? Taint his beauty with your corruption?
"Please," an airless, breathy plea.
What right do you have…Doctor?
"Amy –" grief-soaked horror.
You will destroy him. You are destroying him. Ruination. Filth, corruption, disease – shame.
"Rory…" a daring (damning) wish.
"Should have died there…" It soothed viciously, voice a grotesque rape outside the padding of his mind. "You."
"Yes." Sorrowful agreement.
"Three nanoseconds." Warbling thrill of disgust in its voice.
"Yes…" Tired acknowledgement.
"You touch him. You taste of him. You want –" it chuckled-wheezed-shrieked-laughed.
"Please –" desperate, guilty shame.
"Thief…" A sigh – chilled and reeking of contemptuous rot. But this time (this Time), the sounds-words-ideas trickled from his own lips.
He was the Other.
The Other was him.
"Thief," he breathed, watching the Other's face crumple-crack in pain and ceaseless misery. "Liar. Sham. You will destroy him."
"Save him," the Other implored, gore-streaked countenance shining with a wide-eyed need, desperation in the press of Its lips. "From you…please –"
"Doctor…" he breathed, mourning the pale gleam of his own skin – everywhere (always) was red-red-red over death-shrouded grey and the thudding snarl of airships –
Names were important.
All of them…
Names were imperative.
What did they mean?
"Rory Arthur Williams." It whispered in awed reverence.
"Amelia Jessica Pond." The Doctor promised solemnly.
He shivered semi-awake in a jump-seat, the thud-hum-hiss of the Time Rotor mirroring, reflecting the scream of airships – the echo of their very wrongness in his ears, his hearts, this Time like a steady stab to his soul. He was insane. He knew this now, he was okay with that. The Other would stop him if he moved in the wrong direction. He would kill It and would not fear that blood on his hands.
So much of it everywhere, smeared into the ridges of his mind, laced liberally across everything light touched –
If he could rip out his own throat he would.
For you…Amy…Amelia Jessica Pond.
But he paid his penance, even as he suspected he was falling (he had Fallen). He had lived, then he…he stole, he took – and there was no judgment harsh enough for the horror he continued to commit. Living, breathing, his molecules spreading across the universe…taking Her place in His bed. In Their bed – touching, reaching, admiring, coveting what wasn't his, what could never be –
The dark helped. It made it easier to breathe and he couldn't see the maroon insanity he left on everything he touched when it was black – but then he would touch him (oh, Rory), sweeping ruin over his flesh as he debased the man's beauty with every kiss, every caress, every lick-suck-slide of his lips. Soothing himself as he tried to soothe the human he had crushed (was crushing) with every breath he took.
But he could be anyone, anything in the darkness. He could pretend to cover himself, to hide the creature he had allowed himself to be twisted into (three nanoseconds). He lost himself when it was dark. And that was good, it was good (cleansing) to be on his knees, begging elusive forgiveness with his hands, his mouth. Swallowing the light, the shining purity of Rory – and like the wondrous, benevolent soul he was, Rory would offer shelter, he would offer peace, penance…forgiveness. The Time Lord did not know why he did this, was just wretchedly thankful that he did…that Rory allowed his presence, even though he had to know of the taint, of the rotten corruption crouched between his legs, curled beside him in their (AmyandRory's, RoryandAmy's) bed.
Then like the ungrateful, disgusting being that he was, he would – he –
Waited until the world spun slow, Rory's breathing the deep, sweet lull that meant sleep. Remembering Rory in his mouth, down his throat – the heat of him under his fingers in the Dark. So beautiful and shining and clean – and he would…he would touch himself, biting down on his fingers until the coppery-sweetness of her blood was overlaid with the bitter darkness of his own. A grounding, horrid reality, even as he lost himself in a pleasure that was false.
Stroking himself in fevered shame and disgust, want so thick in his veins he could feel it thudding, creeping, tainting his already corrupted soul. The taste, the feel of him (Rory Arthur Williams) so vivid and bright he would weep with sheer need. He wanted to fall into that light, be what he was once – be true and shining with him, with Them – but he was falling-falling-falling…
Utter hatred of himself as he'd spill over the gory crimp of his own fingers (you couldn't see it – the blood – until there was light, but it was always, always there) – daring to steal and steal and take –
Silently shaking apart in their bed, her husband (Amelia Jessica Pond's Rory Arthur Williams) sleeping the sleep of the angels that he no longer dared to believe in. He was a lie. He was a Thief and a Liar…
He had Fallen.
Falling was easy. Insanity was easy – comforting. Both were their own punishment. But he was guilty of taking pleasure in the numbing bliss of both. Just as he was guilty of murder: of who he had been, of his beautiful, sweet little Amelia – of her husband. He tried to tell him once, but Rory didn't hear, he couldn't see it. He tried to tell him before he realized that a being like Rory couldn't conceive of what he had tried to explain. He also realized Rory would never offer the ultimate forgiveness and obliterate him from the stars.
So he would give Rory a gift. He would make it right.
And just days ago he had been given the sign – an omen in the marketplace.
He could see where it had all unraveled – where Time had tilted and ripped. He could fix it (breathing a sigh of relief inside, even through those endless, terrible screams that never, ever stopped). It would take a while, but he could make it right. Meanwhile, he would have to live with this new knowledge (a price he was willing to pay and a much lesser price than he deserved); he knew now why the Universe had done this. It was trying to show him who he was beneath.
He had been running for centuries, but you couldn't outrun yourself. He had thought he was running from his people, then he thought he had been running from their destruction. But if they had all been like him, if they had all been bleeding this rot and terror under their sleek, shining faces…
He had the power. He could fix it. He would fix it. He would give Rory back his Amy. He would give him what was owed until that time and try to control the want that throbbed in his veins and shuffled bleakly through his waking-sleep. It was a side effect, it was natural to want to be near that beauty and wish it was yours.
He would just have to remember (even as that beauty smiled forgiveness and warmth at him) that it was not his. It could never be his. Rory belonged with Amy. Amy belonged with Rory. He had been allowed a taste of their wonder and peace – but no more. He had touched them and Rory paid too dearly for it.
The name was like the sweetest taste of honey over the tongue. And when he tasted him, when he touched him –
A shuddering sigh bubbled from his lips – cool wetness streaking his cheeks. He ignored it, standing on weary legs, pins and needles shocking the bottoms of his feet. He ignored that too and peered blearily at the calculations on the view-screen, the time-vectors showing the beginnings of a pattern – but it wasn't complete. He needed to touch at least two more infected planets and know their off-set rhythms.
He just had to be strong. Hold onto his tattered faith. He was tired, but it mattered not. He had to keep it together, keep Rory safe – keep him pleased. He tried to let him go (so long ago now), but Rory refused to leave. When Rory offered to leave (minutes, days, weeks ago?) he found himself suffocating at the thought of him being gone.
He knew then, without Rory, he was nothing (less than nothing) and he had to be something to complete his work. Even if he was just the dog Rory liked to kick. Perversely, Rory refused to even do that. Now the Time Lord didn't know what he would do if he was no longer allowed to be near him – if Rory finally saw the horror under his skin, the evil that skittered on spider-legs through the decayed caverns of his mind.
He was not allowed to die –
Rory would not grant him that. And it was only correct, it was only right. He had work to do, he had timelines to fix. And then…then –
Darkness. Reprieve. Peace.
But there was no shirking until he was done. There was no rest until he laid this gift at Rory's feet – until he gave him what rightfully belonged to him.
The TARDIS reached for the Time Lord, Her sorrow streaking the liquid-silver of Her thought-speech with tendrils of smoky-purple. He shied away from Her, fighting to keep Her at bay. She wished to soothe, to touch and comfort and love –
She too, was a shining benevolence that he no longer deserved (if he ever had). He wished he could give in, give over to Her, let Her cradle him within the beautiful orange-white-gold of Her matrix-systems: tendrils of sweeping light-sound that would pull him along and wrap him in webs of sleep and peaceful dreams.
He hesitated over Her controls, knowing he needed to erase evidence of his work, sweep it away so he wouldn't see it. He knew (in a dim, sleepy way) that Rory would object. That his all-encompassing forgiveness and compassion would cry out against what he was doing. That he would never see the importance of Them. How They made the Universe perfect, beautiful – glorious. Rory seemed to think himself so small within the vastness of it all. But he would think that, wouldn't he? They always did…they never had any idea.
They were the Universe.
The screaming wrongness in his mind giggled slippery-soft to itself; slithering calmly to rest behind the thud-thud-shriek of those airships that flew forever overhead to erase the light from the universe within. He ignored it, blocked it all out and made himself touch the controls, unable to ignore the streaks of flickering (melting, oozing) purple-red his fingers left behind. He knew Rory couldn't see it, but he unconsciously reacted to it – layering his cleansing light over every surface the Time Lord had dared to taint. Touching, touching, touching and wiping clean his beautiful, beautiful Ship. She would hum with gratitude and pleasure and Rory would smile that benevolent smile that reminded the Time Lord of screaming and –
Amelia Jessica Pond. Rory Arthur Williams. Adric. Jack Harkness…
Names were important – vital.
He rubbed the names over his tongue and through his lips, drawing more illicit comfort, more undeserved peace from the warp and weave of their significance. They kept him steady. Grounded him. Forced him to face Rory and wear the mask Rory needed him to wear. They allowed him to breathe and doze and pretend to eat. They kept the blood pounding through the break of his hearts, kept the shrieking-screaming-laughter/sobs from completely overtaking his mind. He didn't have much time left within that mind – but he had enough to do his work.
He felt even more dirty (disgusting) working this way, but there was no help for it. He should be used to the acrid taste of his own life by now. He'd had centuries to get used to it, even if his epiphany was only recent. In the end, he was choiceless.
That in itself was a comfort – the feeling that it was all out of his hands, spiraling away from his control. The fragile heft of Time that coursed through his very essence howled at the wrongness he was existing in now, but he quieted the rabid lunge of it, placating it with promises of divine retribution.
Only this time, he was not the Divinity. He never had been – he was just the Hand that was used to strike out truly. He had wronged and was therefore shown the terrible truth: he may have committed the wrong (coveting, touching, daring to believe he could be part of Three, when there was only ever Two – AmyandRory and RoryandAmy), but he was never the one to pay. He was the one to watch, while angels were struck down before him. Forced to taste the coppery-sweetness of their blood, feel the endless warbling absence as he choked on the darkness within.
Forever unable to touch, to be part of the universe he loved so much. He was shown to have loved falsely, dangerously. To have dared too much.
He had forgotten his Place.
He was sobbing, but was unaware of it, even as more wet-cool streaked down the hollows of his cheeks, small sounds of horror threading through the List on his lips. He forced himself to concentrate on that host of Names – the lost, the broken. The angels he had seen (loved) as they had winked from existence, wings folded and twisted beneath the weight of his years. There was one angel left and he cradled his name deep within his hearts – a special place (filled with leftover light and tasting of pure gold) that his soul couldn't touch. He held him there in the quiet and spoke his name to stave off the inevitable. If he was on the List, maybe Fate would bypass him…
Just a little longer. Just a bit longer.
Rory had to be kept safe, kept alive within the warp and weave…his wings uncrumpled, uncrushed from the reeking ruin of the Time Lord's love.
The work faded from the screen, Gallifreyian script designating Times/Places (where, when, how, maybe, never) as they sailed past them, Time-Winds dragging him to the next clue. She would know. She always knew. She would get him there.
He stretched worn limbs, mind stuttering around the fact that he was tired, that he was worn down to his bones. He wouldn't be able to sleep –
No rest for the wicked
but he could feel Rory's loneliness and he couldn't let that pass. He tried to keep himself from temptation, from want – but as he did so, he denied the man he was obligated to. He was only punishing Rory by staying away. He needed to be beside him –
Even as it was blasphemy
he needed to be where Rory could reach out for him. And when he did…
Slow, deep, demanding kisses. Forgetting for just a moment as Rory punished him with his compassion and pain – the sweet taste of his skin, the heated possession of his touch – before bending to worship him with the curl of his fingers, the glide of his mouth.
He would roll to him, give himself over to Rory's whims and desires, whether it be lying beside him or on his knees for him. He gladly did so (relieved to be needed, of use to the man), let himself be hopelessly lost within Rory's love for him, even as he wept at his selfishness, marveled at his own daring. He loved, adored Rory with every breath he took, even as he shook at his own boldness. He didn't dare to even contemplate Rory's impossible love for him. It was wrong…it was terrible and beautiful, that love. But his was not to ask, just accept and offer what comfort he could, give him what was due. Even as he found guilty, terrible, (blasphemous) pleasure in their coming together, the want like fire in his veins, too much sometimes.
He only did it twice. But it was twice too many.
One day, Rory would want him on his back, on his hands and knees, and on that day he might not be able to stop that black lust-love from spilling over between them, he would be unable to remain silent. Then Rory would know. He would know him for the terrible creature he was and maybe…maybe he would destroy him.
The Time Lord shivered in dry-mouthed awe, angry that he looked eagerly forward to that day. He ached with a desperation that rivaled the sweet whisper-tug of his cracked mind. He held hope for that wonderful moment of (the final) retribution, even as he knew Rory was likely too merciful to strike him down. He just had to finish his work…then he would offer himself completely in the dark, to be accepted or rejected on the altar of Rory's whims.
Either way it would finally be over. The Universe would shiver with completeness when he reset those loose strands of Never-Should-Have-Been. He would feel-touch-taste the silver purity of rightness, dance in the glory of a perfect moment.
It would be just Two (AmyandRory and RoryandAmy) – and he would reach contentment. He could rest. It would be a torment, waking to just Two (always outside, the taste of what he could never have, never be just within touching distance), but it would be right. He could live with that longing.
The Universe would be perfect again.
He smiled crookedly through the tired wash of his tears, swiping at them absently, even as he remained consciously unaware of them. They bled constantly through his soul to leak down his flesh and the tickle-sting of them was hardly of consequence anymore. But he couldn't let Rory see the bleed. He had to protect him. Keep him safe. Keep him content, at peace, secure within the light.
He should never know of what lay beneath.
He blinked and he was at Their door. Another blink and he was lying beside him, trying to keep silent, not mar any presence left behind by her. He was watching over him – just as she would want him to. He lived for Them, he would die for Them (but that, too, was hardly of consequence) and he would gladly burn forever outside Their light.
He forced himself to relax, to melt into the give of the mattress beneath his weary frame. He smiled a helpless smile when Rory murmured sleepy-huffiness at him. Relief and demand sighed from the tilt of Rory's lips, the human's hand seeking his arm to pull him close, wrap him in warmth and the scent of him (comforting, delicious). He closed his eyes (for a moment, just a moment), breathing deep of the shadows that surrounded them, the lazy drift of Rory's fingers over his chest a reprieve and a torture.
All was as right with this Universe as it could be – folded in the sweet embrace of Rory's sleepy grip, the caress of his mind murmuring contentment and quiet. He had made the right choice, he had decided well by coming here. He would lie here and pretend to sleep, selfishly soaking in whatever Rory may give him, for in a few hours he had more work to do.
In days, weeks (if he was lucky) he would have one final gift to give to the man who called him a lover and a friend. He would present it on the shining pedestal of his own destruction, set the whisper of reweaving with the burst of his own life-force.
Eye for an Eye, Life for a Life…(three nanoseconds).
Just a little longer.
Breathing in the dark, taking air that was not his –
He was close, though – he could almost taste the Fire that would wipe it all clean again. And that Fire was beautiful in its absolutes. In its absolution.
Adric, Jack Harkness, Amelia Jessica Pond, Rory Arthur Williams –
Just a little longer…