Fandom: Doctor Who
Character: Lucy [slight Master/Lucy]
Challenge/Prompt: doctorwho_100, 067. Snow
Word Count: 2002
Genre: Gen [Het]
Summary: But the flakes that caught on her eyelashes and scattered through her hair were warm, and they were ash.
Author’s Notes: Another piece of Epic Snow Situation celebration, because I love Lucy a lot. Anyone know if there’s going to be another series of Hotel Babylon so I can squee over Alexander Moen and her awesomeness?
His daughter is twenty years of snow falling
She is twenty years of strangers looking into each others’ eyes.
- Regina Spektor
February 2nd, 2009.
Her Master promised her snow, once, when he was still in the habit of pretending to grant her whims, somewhere in the days before he became far more interested in his own whims. The Honeymoon Period that was never really a honeymoon, and she doesn’t remember large swathes of it anyway.
She wanted a white Christmas, for reasons that make no sense whatsoever to her now.
“Snow, Lu,” he breathed in her ear, fingers brutally tight on her hips.
But the flakes that caught on her eyelashes and scattered through her hair were warm, and they were ash.
She never bothered to correct his mistake.
The world dies in the night, and she wakes up to white-grey light bursting through her windows. It’s like being above the clouds again, and for a moment she wonders if Time has slipped again. But it hasn’t, because she isn’t queen any more, and when she moves she’s exhausted but it doesn’t hurt.
There are many things about her life now that are inferior, that are worse, but this simple fact is not one of them.
Her window glass is cool against her palms, stinging them when she presses her hands flat. Beneath her, the world has drowned quietly beneath an expanse of white; thick and all-consuming and as far as she can see. Everything muted, hushed.
This was not Harry’s doing. That, in itself, feels like enough of a miracle.
Lucy was an inadequate queen, though whether she was a queen as such was something that always remained debateable. Her Master never picked a title he was happy with, and she would never presume to call herself Mistress. She was not Mistress of anything, though from time to time her Master would pass her toys to play with. Whimpering girls and the prettiest boys with bloody fingernails.
A lot of that time has gone now, perhaps for the best.
The world withered and she watched from her window, painting her toenails until her fingers quivered too hard to hold the brush. Everything crumbled in favour of her husband, and none of it was her doing because she could not say a word that would make her heard. After a while, she stopped talking altogether, which seemed to unnerve everyone except her Master, who seemed to rather like it.
The world rotted, and the clouds gathered black over the cowering cities. They puked down dark sludge that could never be called snow, and Lucy learned then that dreams were never worth clinging onto anyway.
No one brings her breakfast, which is not an unusual situation because UNIT are bastards who would probably starve her if not for Captain Jack Harkness, who is not a kind man, whatever he wants the world to believe, but who preserves her anyway. He offered her a home beneath his lighthouse, narrow concrete corridors and anxious nurses who blinked from deprivation of light, but Lucy declined, or at least someone declined for her because now she is here.
UNIT’s home for those who are damaged. She had expected more Guantanamo Bay but in reality it’s quiet and no one is really all that interested in her as long as she hurts no one and does not hurt herself and those rules are almost enough to live on.
Lucy breathes on her glass and draws interlocking circles, twisting shapes that she thinks she could read if only she could remember what they mean, and beneath her the street is devoid of motion. The snow is clean and silent and there is nothing it doesn’t hide; Lucy pictures burrowing beneath it and staying there until it thaws and leaves her drowned.
Something else not to mention to the podgy psychiatrist who keeps promising he’ll have her out of here one day; words like rehabilitated get tossed around and Lucy thinks he really doesn’t understand at all, but she’ll never deign to point it out. He seems to be having such a nice time constructing his very own Lucy with her own set of neuroses and her own edge to her smile and her own fatal flaws.
(Lucy has not told him that everything that is wrong with her was put there by her Master because it served some sort of higher purpose; it’s private, after all.)
Harry never put a lot of stock in purity; he did things to her in her wedding dress that made her cry and stained the veil, and the uglier and dirtier Earth became the more joyful his expressions were. He was heat and rage and glee and Lucy is stronger than that because she has always had far more consistent faith in grey, in packing the spaces between.
He would not give her snow, he would not answer her questions, he would not hold her at night, he would not smile unless it slid across his mouth like a knife.
Now, she sighs in her pyjamas and taps a familiar rhythm against her window glass and pictures taking her Master and smashing his face bloody into the compacted snow on the ground below; until icy chips fleck his crimson nose and mouth and he understands the things she would never say. It’s a satisfying image, one she folds up small to tuck inside her, in her special place for things that are so wonderful to touch that she must keep them locked in case someone else should take them or she should get complaisant.
Still no one brings her breakfast, but UNIT are largely unreliable and they have their tests, their emotional experiments, so she is not unduly worried.
It was loud, in the sky. Loud and impersonal, the light vivid through the glass, and she had her very own room which her Master visited as and when he saw fit.
It did not fit the views of marriage Georgette Heyer had persuaded Lucy to set, but then no self-respecting publisher would ever confess to reading those kind of books anyway.
There are no mirrors in her room; her inadequate psychiatrist says that she has a most unusual mixture of an inferiority complex and downright narcissism. Lucy measures her passage of time in the length of her hair and in Captain Jack Harkness’ visits; he looks more haggard each time they meet and his eyes always crease in concern for her.
Jack wants to put her on his island; lock her away beneath his lighthouse. Maybe she would have let him, once, but she doesn’t really like him. She tolerates, because of duty. Because of the time she tore out all his fingernails because her Master never did remain monogamous for long. A perfectly simple explanation for something that’s hardly explainable.
“Sorry,” the woman says, and she looks nervous. “It’s the snow. It’s stopped everything. A lot of our staff can’t be here today.”
Lucy isn’t interested in the explanation, and nor is she interested in the breakfast spread neatly but dull on a tray that the new woman clings to like a talisman.
Really, Lucy would like to know what the woman thinks she is about to do to her. Most days, she is barely inclined to sit upright, let alone attack. But then there are others here, others who are not docile, others who scream and bare their teeth and fight with ragged fingernails.
Lucy sighs and nods, slipping away from the window to sit at the square white-painted table.
“I’m Emma,” the woman says. “I’ll be here for you today.”
Lucy looks down at the porridge that she cannot choke on or hurt others with and swallows a sigh.
She nods, and pictures her fat psychiatrist stuck at home being sanctimonious to no one. It might do him good to practice imprisonment. Perhaps he’ll become empathetic.
She was a wife once, though she had her doubts about the authenticity of the minister and the Toclafane had already slaughtered Lucy’s parents; the price for asking too many questions.
“Do you miss him?” one of the other inmates asked once; a nervous man who bit his fingernails who’d supposedly been there since 1983. This was back in the days when Lucy was still speaking and when she was still allowed to socialise. Both those things stopped around the same time; she thinks she did something to someone but she no longer recalls what.
Harry isn’t dead; Lucy believes this because she still hears him from time to time. Of course, his body bled from the wound she thinks she gave him, but there wasn’t enough of anyone in that skin for it to die completely. Harry is still around, and Lucy is not comforted by this.
“I want a divorce,” she’d sighed at the man, who did not seem to understand and maybe he had not been talking to her in the first place, and two weeks after that they put her in this room and she doesn’t think she’s left since.
Nothing’s really changed.
Emma clearly has not read Lucy’s file, and this is fine. Lucy tends to sit in her room with copies of Mansfield Park and Venetia and she watches the world through her thick window and from time to time interesting things happen but UNIT’s asylum is impenetrable and there is no escaping.
“Would you like to go outside?” Emma asks.
Lucy has been watching other people running about in their back garden, flinging snow at each other. They’re so damaged that rebellion trickled away a long time ago; they cannot think of leaving. Lucy is not allowed outside because sometimes she still does.
She tips her head to one side, and says nothing because she doesn’t talk. Not any more.
“It looks beautiful, doesn’t it?” Emma tells her, apparently unphased by Lucy’s silence. “You could go outside, touch it.”
Oh, and that is the problem with beautiful things. When you reach out and touch them; that is when they become imperfect. So tangible, and then so ruined. The line between pretty and ugly is thin, and too easily crossed.
Lucy knows that better than anyone. But all she does is curl a smile, and lets Emma go and find her a coat.
Her Wellingtons are too large, ugly black rubber, and the snow reaches halfway up her legs. There’s meagre supervision; UNIT have become smug, complaisant. They have forgotten that not everyone is conditioned into believing four walls are their only chance for survival.
Lucy’s hair is wet with new flakes and flurries of white stick to her eyelashes. She fights step after step through the thick blanket covering the ground, hiding the square concrete yard those lucky enough to be docile can utilise. It is dizzying to stand beneath the sky, to breathe in cold, clean air. It is more freedom than she has had in a long time.
Snow is unpredictable, and deep, and Lucy’s feet fall away from beneath her. She lands hard, all the breath skittering from her lungs, mouth feeling bruised and cold. No one comes to help her up, and this, she decides, is the test result she most needed. UNIT house their crippled dregs in the heart of London, in an ugly brick building whose true purpose could never be guessed at. They’re all supposed too shattered to function, and maybe parts of Lucy are that mangled but most of her isn’t.
It does not take long to make almost sturdy snow steps up the wall, and there are no cameras, no guns, no lasers. Laughter bubbles soundlessly from her chapped lips, and the snow on the other side is almost soft as she lands in it. Oh, Lucy will leave a trail and no doubt they will follow her, but right now everyone is trapped and the world is dazzlingly clean and she thinks, oh, she realises that this was what she wanted from Harry all that time ago.
Smiling at nothing in particular, Lucy strides through the unyielding snow into the open space.