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He leans on the rail and stares down at his reflection, catching in the moments when it's relatively undisturbed by the running water of the stream. He can look at himself, now, as he was unable to on Castrovalva. But there are ghosts over his shoulder. Adric's, mainly, but also the ghosts of the innocents. Of the ones who should have had another option, beyond death. And they all seem slightly accusing.

He closes his eyes to make them go away, and when he opens them again, only ripples remain, in the water, below his feet. He watches it rush away beneath him, carrying time in its eddies, and breathes in, slowly. As he breathes out, he feels something start to press at the base of his skull, quietly. Something black creeps in at the edges of his vision, seeping slowly in time with the beat of his hearts. The thing the ghosts have brought him.

He knows what it is - he remembers it from the night Koschei pushed him to the floor, pressed his hands to his temples, and flooded him with madness. With darkness, with drums so loud that he had wished he'd die. With a pain so deep that it curled him into a ball, broke down his defenses until he couldn't even begin to remember how to fight back.

He knows that it's the other side of time. The part he's been running from.

The Doctor feels death knocking at the back of his mind.

For so long, he's tried to avoid it. It never went well, before. But being kind, and nice, and passive, and compassionate ... it's all seemed to have been reduced to one thing. He's become "quaint".

The Oncoming Storm. Scourge of monsters, madmen, evil, time, space .... a figure once feared and respected, now simply "quaint".

He feels death knocking.

And he's not sure how long he can wait before he lets it in.


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January 2012

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