Lady Paperclip (paperclipbitch) wrote,
Lady Paperclip
paperclipbitch

"This Charming Man", Doctor Who, Lucy-centric

Title: This Charming Man
Fandom: Doctor Who
Characters: Lucy, the Doctor, Martha
Challenge/Prompt: doctorwho_100 020. Colourless
Rating: PG
Word Count: 4200
Genre: Gen
Copyright: What else? This Charming Man by The Smiths.
Summary: She’s just had the shit kicked out of her by fate and she should leave it all the hell alone.
Author’s Notes: Well, spoilers for the first part of the Christmas special, for one thing (although I do ignore one big piece of canon). And, of course, because I love Lucy to shreds, as we all know. Written while drinking champagne on my sofa, because Lucy deserves champagne or something. There might be a sequel, depending on what happens in the next part and how blinded by crying I am.



-

{he said: return the ring}

He won’t ever let her die.

Lucy learns this when she wakes up with painful but not severe burns, handcuffed to a bed and with an itchy four-drum beat in the back of her head telling her that Harry is not only alive again but also: a) still out of his fucking mind and b) still unfortunately somewhat connected to her. Clean sterile hospital gown, sharp clinical smell, bright fluorescent lighting. She remembers this from the first time around; they patched her up and dragged her away and let her fall between administrative cracks. No one else remembers what Harry did, so as far as they were concerned she’d casually murdered the Prime Minister in a fit of insanity. There’s truth in that statement but also a set of brightly-coloured lies, and whichever way you look at it she’s spent a couple of years with concrete for company and too many of the voices in her head.

Of course, most of the voices in her head don’t actually belong to her; but that’s just another side-effect.

Back when she was drinking too much coffee and flicking tiredly through manuscripts and wearing indecently tight pencil skirts and occasionally being fucked on top of the photocopier by pretty temps (daddy’s publishing empire; he gave her a job, God knows what the title was or what she was actually meant to be doing with her time), Lucy would never have imagined that her life was destined to end up mired in the most depressing of science-fiction. She misses the days of being shallow and swallowing meaninglessness like air; now she can’t work out if she’s strangled in the centre of destiny trying to make it all go the right way, or if she’s just had the shit kicked out of her by fate and she should leave it all the hell alone. Well. Maybe. Lucy has, after all, already proven that she’s absolutely no good at escaping from those who hurt her.

She shifts, bandages and handcuffs chafing, and she wonders if she can find a kindly nurse to release her from all this. Lucy has proven herself not to be dangerous, sat on the floor of her dark little cell and wept or lay on the pitiful excuse for a bed reading Mansfield Park until the words blurred. She played the game because there was nothing else to do, forged alliances as best she could and didn’t look her father in the eye when he came to visit her, sat on one side of a table with disappointment tucked into the corners of his mouth. He never said but why did you kill your husband? but she could feel it every time he hesitated, every time his nails tapped an awkward waltz on the tabletop. He helped her with the Books of Saxon, which was the important part, found people who would understand on her behalf because she really spent more of her life being pretty than having to actually know anything. Besides, bloody hell, this sort of thing wasn’t ever supposed to happen to anyone. Time Lords and Toclafane and Life Essence and all of it, all of it, all of it. Lucy’s teeth clench.

Da da da da her mind insists, temples throbbing with it. Da da da da. She hasn’t missed the drums and having them return isn’t so much like welcoming an old friend as it is her head snapping back from the first punch of an abusive ex-husband. And... as it turns out, Lucy’s got one of those too. The rhythm is a taunt, reminding her that she failed. That she tried, that she failed, that the Master has stalked back into existence and that nothing good can come from this.

“Well,” Lucy sighs, “fuck.”

-

{will nature make a man of me yet?}

Breaking out of the hospital is really too easy.

Lucy is pathetic for a reasonable amount of time and everyone is overworked and overtired and she’s hardly top priority anyway, what with it being Christmas and news stories of bare skeletons, flesh stripped indiscriminately from the bone, still propped in their own clothes. The introduction of a television set in her room with whatever passes for news stories these days is a novelty after too much solitary confinement, but it’s not enough to make her want to stay put. The drums are a thrumming ache in the back of her head, constant and grating and too much of a reminder of that time when her mind, body and soul weren’t her own. When Harry’s nails in her thighs were all she could hope for in the scheme of things.
Anyway, short-staffed, exhausted, they stop watching her. It doesn’t take long to slip out of the handcuffs – she’s learned a few tricks, tricks she never really thought she’d have to know – and she creeps from the room, keeping her head bowed and her footsteps brisk without being hurried. In the staffroom downstairs, she breaks into the battered, rusting lockers until she’s found enough clothes to protect her from the skinning wind outside. They’re ordinary, unfashionable, but they aren’t cloying silk or a thin prisoner’s uniform and the simple difference alone makes them exciting. Coat buttoned up to her chin, hair loose around her shoulders, Lucy walks out of the hospital and does not look back.

She has no idea where she’s going; hopefully not towards Harry and his cold broken insanity though the drums in her head aren’t exactly a satnav and they are linked in every possible way. ‘Til death do them part and all of that shit, but Lucy thinks she’d like her money back now: neither of them seem capable of staying dead and that’s really only the beginning of the discrepancies. And now he’s running around with her stolen DNA and she’s really starting to wish she’d made him sign a pre-nup. Then again, the legality of the marriage is all rather shady anyway, and Lucy swallows too hard, the taste of champagne and blood dripped straight from the Toclafane’s blades oozing between her teeth. There are too many memories here, memories that can’t be folded flat into envelopes and posted somewhere far away. Lucy is sick of this, sick of all of it, every last dirty bleeding inch of it, and it’s enough to make her wish she’d died in the concrete ruins of the prison like everyone else did.

Instead, she just keeps walking, the wavering strings of destiny clenched in her hands to guide her way.

-

{i would go out tonight, but i haven’t got a stitch to wear}

The Doctor looks puzzled and also much, much more tired than she’s ever seen him, and that includes those less-than-focussed recollections she has of what looked like a tiny brown-eyed goblin clinging to the bars of a cage in Harry’s sky base of insanity and shit. It was, really, like living in Alice In Wonderland for a year, only with fewer tea parties and a lot more maiming, and in any case Lucy isn’t sure she was really important enough to be Alice anyway. She’s a supporting character in all of this, lost and reeling and ever so ever so bored with all of it.

When he says her name it stings with surprise.

“Doctor,” she replies, hands shoved in the pockets of her borrowed coat; she can feel a biro pen, a packet of Polos and one woollen glove, and curls her fingers around them. From somewhere, she scrapes up a smile. “It’s been a while.” Her smile pulls at her lips, bitter. “You forgot about me.”

The Doctor’s mouth works for a moment, choices of words flickering visibly through his mind. “I did,” he agrees at last.

Honesty from a Time Lord. Oh, that’s a novelty. She ventures a step closer. “It’s ok; everyone forgot about me.” She catches her lower lip between her teeth momentarily, swallows. “Well, Harry didn’t.”

There’s a spark of pain across the Doctor’s face when she says Harry; they are so very complicated, after all. Centuries of complicated and Lucy can’t even begin to scratch the surface of any of it. She takes another step, almost surprised at just how awkward all of this is. She supposes it’s because she’s never actually had a conversation with the Doctor, at least not one when they’ve both been in something resembling their right minds.

“I take it you’ve seen him, then,” she says. The Doctor doesn’t seem to know how to answer, so she swiftly continues: “I did try to stop it. The resurrection, I mean. I had people brewing up all kinds of chemicals.” She tastes a grimace. “They failed, of course; isn’t that always the way?”

“You were at the prison?” the Doctor asks.

“Home sweet home,” Lucy singsongs. “Well, it was until they stole my DNA, resurrected my husband and I blew the place sky high to no avail whatsoever.” She screws up her face. “I’ve had better weeks.”

She sees something like understanding break across the Doctor’s face, and he mumbles something to himself about broken energy and so that’s why and Lucy imagines that she’s probably made matters worse rather than better. Still, it wouldn’t be the first time.

The Doctor looks around the deserted street, heavy with dark blue twilight, and waves a vague hand. “I used to be better at being enigmatic,” he remarks, “but everyone seems to be able to track me down today. How did you find me?”

Lucy shrugs. “You’re a Time Lord,” she points out, “and I’ve still got rather more of the Master in my head than I’m really comfortable admitting.” The Doctor looks troubled, as she continues: “If it isn’t those fucking drums giving me a migraine then my skin’s fizzing because there’s a Time Lord nearby; it’s a bloody nightmare being partially possessed.” She sighs, offers the Doctor a smirk. “Maybe you should make yourself ex-directory from destiny?”
He ignores her. “You can hear the drums?”

She tips her head to one side. “Da-da-da-dum, da-da-da-dum, da-da-da-dum-”

“I get the picture.” He cuts her off, voice sharp. He looks worn and crumpled and not nearly strong enough to save the world. Not this time. Lucy followed the frothing beneath her skin that lead her to the Doctor and she’s trying hard not to be disappointed with what she’s found. The Doctor shoves his hands into the pockets of his coat, uncharacteristically hesitant. “I need to go,” he says.

Lucy knows this, but she can see the fear thick and dark beneath his calm facade and she’s not as composed as she’d like to be. She uncurls her fingers from around the battered Polo packet and holds her hand out to the Doctor.

“You can spare ten minutes.”

-

{a jumped-up pantry boy who never knew his place}

They wander through the crowds dashing desperately through last-minute Christmas shopping, the panic on their faces as real as it was when the Toclafane materialised out of the sky only this time it’s for nothing, for something that doesn’t really matter. The Doctor’s hand is cold in hers – Gallifreyan body temperature is lower than that of a human, that’s something she knows only too well – and they don’t speak. Lucy can feel the Master, now, his presence a trail of silver glitter mingling with the drums in the back of her head, and from time to time there’s a sharp burn that makes her wonder just what it is he’s doing. It must be the same for the Doctor, she thinks; no, it must be worse for the Doctor.
“It was all an accident, you know,” she can’t help saying.

The Doctor frowns down at her. “Which part?”

Lucy shrugs. “All of it?”

The truth is, of course, that the motivations of most of her actions have been painfully unclear for the last few years; she suspects most of them were picked out and cut to size by Harry, who always did like being in control. Lucy hasn’t belonged to herself in longer than she can even remember; it isn’t even sad, it’s just so bloody frustrating.

The Doctor stops walking and studies her for a second that feels like an hour, the young face of a man who hasn’t been young in the longest time. His eyes are black holes that leave no survivors, bleak and starless in his face. He had joy once; terrified, ragged joy that nothing could extinguish. He’s empty now. She can sympathise; Lucy knows what it feels like to be turned upside-down and shaken until everything inside you drops out and rolls away into ambiguous corners. The Master did it to her; she does not want to ask who did it to the Doctor. This is no time to compare scars and in any case Lucy has the horrible suspicion that somehow she asked for most of what happened to her anyway.

“I’m going to die, Lucy,” the Doctor says softly, the words splintering in his mouth.

If anyone was going to kill the Doctor then Lucy thinks it should be the Master; tangled and tied together as they always have been, they’d both want it that way. She licks her lips and tries to think of something to say, anything to say, that will make the Doctor stop looking like that. Lost and helpless and so completely devastated that it makes Lucy’s chest ache. She wants to say that the Doctor is being as typically melodramatic as Time Lords always seem to be, that he’ll come out of this with that relieved shattering grin or at the very least he’ll regenerate into someone fresh and clean and happier than he is right now, but she knows Harry – knows the Master – better than almost anyone and she knows there’s a real chance that the Doctor really won’t make it out of this alive.

Instead, she puts her arms around him and holds him close, close enough to feel his twin hearts beating in time with the drums in her head, beating a little too hard and a little too fast and she closes her eyes against his shoulder. Around them, last minute Christmas shoppers argue and shout down their mobiles and repeatedly check lists with far too many things on them and mill about in a sea of oblivious humanity. You can’t die, Lucy thinks, you can’t die because where else will I get hope from?

Aloud, she says nothing and keeps her eyes shut until they stop burning.

Lucy puts a hand to the Doctor’s cheek when they part. “You should get some rest,” she says.

He closes his hand over hers and gently pulls her fingers away. “Good luck, Lucy.”

She tries to speak but can’t; her throat is closing in on itself and she stands alone and watches the Doctor walk away. He hesitates and looks back over his shoulder, offering her a pale smile. And then he turns the corner, and he’s gone.

-

{this man said: it’s gruesome that someone so handsome should care}

Lucy sips at the mug of tea made for her by Martha Jones’ new husband and studies the picture of Martha’s family resting on top of the television set; they look happy and a lot more whole than they ever looked on the Valiant and she’s glad of it. There’s a Christmas tree in the corner, glittering with silver and white lights. It’s domestic and warm in here and Lucy is far too disconcerted.

She met Martha in the street; Martha’s arms were full of last-minute shopping but her eyes were filled with suspicion the moment they lit on Lucy. Still, all she did was insist that Lucy come back with her, and she hasn’t tried to call the police and get Lucy sent back to prison, so things could be considerably worse. The level of coincidence occurring at the moment is so viciously ludicrous that Lucy’s honestly starting to believe that someone is manipulating all of this after all; serendipity is not this organised. It cannot be this organised.

“I’ve been dreaming about the Master,” Martha says abruptly, dragging Lucy’s attention back to her. There’s a question in her voice, real shreds of fear in her expression.

“He’s back,” Lucy responds, and is surprised at the lack of emotion in her voice. The drums are too loud, almost loud enough to block out conversation, cars on the street outside. She bites the inside of her lower lip until she tastes blood, swallows yet more too-hot tea to mask it. Terror spreads across Martha’s face; sheer, unadulterated and brutal, but she covers it up quickly. Good little soldier girl; UNIT trained her well. Maybe too well, though that’s a problem for Martha’s husband to deal with.

“How?” Martha asks at last in a voice that doesn’t shiver at all, and Lucy instantly forgives her for the way Martha didn’t speak up at her closed trial just for that moment of sheer bravery.

Lucy explains what she can; the Books of Saxon, the explosion at the prison, the way she can feel the Master and his power growing in every second. Martha’s husband sits and says nothing, watching Lucy with that expression she’s rapidly growing used to; she’s wonders if he’ll place her as the wife of a former Prime Minister or not. Lucy wonders just what Martha told him and what she didn’t tell him and what he’s guessed.

“How do I find the Doctor?” Martha asks, expression hard and brittle and ready.

She visited Lucy once every two months without fail; sat and scowled over a table on visiting day and Lucy was grateful for reasons she’s not even sure of. Martha Jones, who remembered her when the rest of the world swept her beneath a carpet and put an ornamental table over her and quickly chose to forget the space she once occupied. Lucy can never thank Martha for that, doesn’t even know how to, but she loves her for it nonetheless.

“It isn’t your fight this time,” Lucy tells her, and she may not be sure of much but she is sure of this. “It’s not yours, it’s not mine, it’s not even Captain Jack’s.”

Martha was in love with the Doctor; she may still be in love with the Doctor – and Lucy can hardly blame her but then again all she really wants is stability and she’s already fucked it up with one Time Lord this decade – and she stares at Lucy for a long moment of stunned devastation before understanding starts to creep into her eyes. She blinks, and a tear skids down her cheek.

“I’m sorry,” Lucy murmurs, and it comes out meaningless.

Martha’s husband looks between them and offers to make more tea. Lucy agrees and Martha manages a smile, dashing the tear away with the heel of her hand. Once he’s left the room, Lucy sighs.

“He seems nice,” she remarks, an attempt at social conventionality.

Martha looks momentarily startled, a quivering laugh escaping her mouth. “Oh, he is,” she says. “He is.”

Lucy considers it and then decides to push her luck. “Did the Doctor come to the ceremony?”

There’s a moment of silence and then Martha says: “He did. But... not the right one.” The disappointment, hard as she’s trying to hide it, is still there.

Sparks light up beneath Lucy’s skin. “He’d regenerated?” she demands.

Martha nods. “Yeah, he looked younger than me.” She manages a half-smile. “Amy was nice though.”

Relief floods through Lucy and it’s a strange feeling, knowing something the Doctor doesn’t. That, somehow, the worst case scenario isn’t quite as bad as it could be. She wants to track him down again and tell him this, but she also suspects that that will a paradox, and lord knows those end up fucking messily.

“Can he fix this?” Martha asks two cups of tea later, when Lucy is shrugging back into her stolen coat. Her tone is low, urgent, afraid, and Lucy knows Martha isn’t stupid. The wrong Doctor came to her wedding and that can really only mean that sooner or later the Doctor in his current state of existence – striped suits, crooked smile, way of pronouncing words with at least three more vowels than is really necessary – is going to, well, cease to exist. “Can he fight him?”

Lucy swallows, and they offered to let her spend Christmas with them. But this is Martha and Tom’s first Christmas together and anyway Lucy’s going to have to hand herself back over to the authorities sometime.

“I hope so,” she replies, and doesn’t tell Martha how defeated the Doctor looked, how weak and tired and frightened he seemed.

Martha doesn’t look convinced; Lucy can’t exactly blame her.

-

{he knows so much about these things}

Lucy had Harry inside her mind and inside her body for over a year, so when he reappears laughing viciously hard and trying to tear himself inside her, it isn’t anything she hasn’t dealt with before. People in the streets are backing away screaming and clawing at their own faces as though any of that is going to actually help.

“If you think I’m letting you do this again, Harry, you’ve got another think coming,” Lucy mutters, as he continues to cackle, pain shooting through every synapse. He may have come back to life against her best efforts, he may be about to pull the world to pieces for his own purposes again, but he’s doing it without her this time. Lucy pushes against him, against the possession she can feel trying to pry itself inside her, and she freed herself from him once and she can do it, she can.

She gets a nosebleed and the world’s most agonising migraine, and the drums are so loud they leave no space for hearing anything else, but Lucy manages to push Harry out of her mind; they’ve been the same person for just a little too long and it’s her DNA that’s keeping him breathing and that gives her a little leverage somewhere along the line. Lucy is tangled up somewhere in the centre of this, but she’s also sensible enough to know that none of it’s about her; she’s just unfortunately married to the Master and she’ll always get dragged back in. There’s nothing she can do, though, and the best she can do is hide and try and wait this out. She may be able to feel both the Doctor and the Master and their existence in the form of vividly coloured effervescence beneath her skin and threaded through her brain, and the drums may be louder than her own thoughts, but this isn’t her story any more. With any luck, she’ll be around to pick up the pieces afterwards, if there are any pieces big enough to hold, but she isn’t stupid enough to try and get involved.

A man stumbles down his front path, leaving his front door open, complaining about the face in his head. His family stagger after him and Lucy, with the pragmatism that once lead her to dance while the human race were destroyed beneath her, runs past them into the house, slams the door closed behind her, and slides every lock she can see into place. The television is showing President Obama talking about how he’s going to drag the world out of the financial crisis, and Lucy can feel Harry’s emotions crackling up and down her spine. She grimaces and takes the stairs two at a time, shutting herself into a bedroom and wedging a chair beneath the door handle. Out of the window she can see people filling the streets, hands pressed to their foreheads, and then their heads become a fast-moving blur. This cannot end well and Lucy’s legs give way beneath her.

Sitting on the floor, peeping over the windowsill, Lucy can feel her own head trying to blur, her skin crawling, but she digs her fingernails into her knees and grits her teeth and refuses to let whatever’s happening engulf her. Never again, she chants to the beat of the drums in her head. Nev-er a-gain, nev-er a-gain, nev-er a-gain. She’s part of the Master, he’s part of her, and she won’t let him manipulate her, she won’t.

On the street below, one by one, people’s heads stop vibrating. And every single person is Harry. Every single person has that cruel twisting grin, every single person has badly-bleached hair and eyes lit with something that can’t be sane, can’t be human. Lucy can’t even begin to imagine how he’s achieved it, but the Master has somehow managed to make every person into a copy of himself. She stares at the people below until one of them glances up at her window and she throws herself flat to the carpet, suddenly scared that one of them will see her and she’ll become Harry’s prisoner yet again.

Lying on the floor, fear tugging remorselessly at every breath she takes, Lucy manages to summon up a shaky half-mad laugh.

“How the fuck am I supposed to file for a divorce now?”
-
Tags: challenge: doctorwho_100, character: lucy saxon, character: martha jones, character: the doctor, pairing: the master/lucy, pairing: tom/martha, tv show: doctor who, type: gen
Subscribe
  • 14 comments
  • 14 comments

Comments for this post were locked by the author