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FIC: No Fear of the Dark

Title: No Fear of the Dark
Fandom: Doctor Who
Characters/Pairings: Eighth Doctor, Lucie.
Date Written: 2007.
Summary: The future looms more dangerously than the past, and there are scarier things than oblivion.
Rating/Warnings: G. No warnings.
Notes: End of the BBC7 radio broadcast 'Phobos'. From the telemovie it seemed that this incarnation had more precognitive ability than others, so I don't think this is too far from the realm of possibility. Was I the only one who thought 'time war' when he said "The things that I am afraid that I might do one day"?



It was a long walk back to the TARDIS, longer than Lucie expected and more miserably cold than she remembered the first time around. She’d started out by singing to herself, and when that grew too boring, counted distant mountaintops. When she started asking questions it was out of need for a real distraction more than any actual need to know.

Well – no. She did want to know, no matter that she’d said she didn’t. It was like peeking through your fingers at a horror movie, this curiosity, and she was sure she’d regret it, but she couldn’t help herself asking. "Alright, I give. What did you show that... thing? I don't need details or anything," she added quickly, beating her arms round herself to keep warm. "Just in general. What d'you have that could scare somethin' feeds on fear itself?"

The Doctor didn't reply at first, tromping silently and unhurriedly through the snow, seemingly not feeling the cold at all - then stopped, abruptly. Turned to look back at Lucie, a half step behind him, bits of windblown snow stuck in his hair and face a picture of desolation, for just a moment. Then it was gone, masked away. The 'teacher' expression took its place, requisite wan smile more hollow than usual. "It wasn't a matter of scaring the entity, Lucie. It was empathic. All I had to do was scare myself- a good bit easier, as I’m sure you can imagine."

Lucie had stopped as well, hands thrust deep in her pockets. "I really can't, no."

There was a brief moment when the wind seemed to die and the snow stopped blowing, as the Doctor considered Lucie, as if trying to divine whether she knew what she was asking for. A compromise answer might be for the best - she was treading dangerous waters without even knowing it, very close to tripping in. "I said earlier. You live long enough and you see a lot of things. Past, future, a mixed bag really."

"Past and future, that's a laugh comin' from you," Lucie snarked, kicking at a clod of snow.

"Yes, well," the Doctor said, annoyance creasing his features. Amazing how often that happened with this particular traveling companion. "To avoid a wholly unnecessary grammatical acrobatics act, I tend to refer to things that have happened to me already as past and those that haven't, as future. The point is, that there are things to fear all across the spectrum. Ancient evil at one end, the end of all things at the other," and his voice was casual, conversational, as if 'the end of all things' were one of the choices for afternoon tea – then tightened up, emotional shutters swinging closed: "Things you've done and things you haven't."

Lucie was quiet then, and started walking again, too cold to stand still for much longer. She was getting a definite feel for the depths she was poking at now, and it seemed best to back off for the moment. What did she care, anyway? Stupid old fop. Let him keep his horrible traumatic secrets to himself. It was better like she said first, not knowing.

The Doctor just kept pace alongside her, letting the exchange drop off, unfinished, into the silent and empty space between them.

----

A full fifteen or so minutes had passed, the TARDIS in sight, before the curiosity seemed to bite again and the dangerous edge to his answers had apparently faded. How quickly they forgot their fears in favor of satisfying their curiosity, these humans. It was normally a trait he admired; this time, it was unwelcome.

Lucie drew to a halt just in front of the ship, hesitated. Glanced at her feet, then out over the mountain’s edge. "Which worked better?"

The Doctor looked at her curiously, fishing the key from his pocket, fingers sure and unshaking as he slid it into the lock. Oblivious to her continued train of thought. That was feigned, really, but it was unlikely Lucie would be able to tell the difference. "Which what worked better?"
Lucie blew a sigh up through her hair, stomping her feet in the snow. "Past or future. Which worked better?"

Rather than turn the key in the lock, the Doctor just flattened his hand alongside it, one finger twitching slightly against the wooden frame. Took a single breath, and even with its coolness it was faintly visible in the air - it was that cold now, the distant sun starting to fade. "Being afraid of the past is like being afraid of the dark. You can’t help it sometimes, but a part of you knows it’s a bit foolish. It’s this sort of toothless thing in the shadows- no matter how terrified you were at the time, or how vivid the memories, it can't hurt you anymore. Harder to be truly afraid of it."

"So the future then?" Lucie asked through chattering teeth.

The Doctor ducked his head slightly, eyes narrowing. For just a second, he saw a flash of his own hands resting over a control panel, twitching with nerves. Saw pulsing red light, filling an enclosed space. Felt an explosion that sucked the universe out from under him, ripping away Everything and replacing it with Nothing.

Saw after. Saw that an ‘after’ existed, for him. Saw himself not pulled into the darkness along with everything else.

Saw alone.

The things that I am afraid that I might do one day.

"Yes," he said sharply, turning the key in the lock and swinging the door inward in one abrupt motion, through it before she could register the answer.

After a moment or two, Lucie followed him in, quietly pushing the door closed behind her.

*




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