?

Log in

Filia Tempus- Chapter 3

AUTHORS NOTE
Don't expect them to be this long every damn time :)
Anywho. PORN. I am thinking about writing some. Any advice you have to give on the subject would be greatly appreciated. Also, do you guys want smut in this story or shall I just post oneshots?


"What do you mean; you're not sure it was my dream? Who else's could it have been?"

Donna's tone was one of anger, but the Doctor could detect the tell-tale tremor which meant that she was disguising her fear and concern. He placed his hands on her shoulders and held her gaze.
"It's alright Donna. You're safe."

"Stop avoiding the question, spaceman."

The Doctor grinned sheepishly. "Can't get anything past you, can I? The thing is Donna; you're a Time Lady now."

"Yes, I know. What of it?" Her impatience was starting to show.

"Well, in order for you to receive such detailed images, whoever was sending them would have to be broadcasting on a very specific wavelength, for lack of a better word. If you were still human, it could have been anything, flotsam and jetsam floating around on the psychic plane. As it is, this would seem to suggest... But no, it's impossible. Unless... No, it can't be. It can’t!"

Donna sandwiched his face between her hands and forced him to look directly at her. "Doctor. What is it?"

Reluctantly and still disbelieving, he answered "It's... It would have to be... Another Time Lord."

Donna's voice took on a sympathetic tone "That's impossible, my love, you know it is."

"Well, that's the thing. It's not. At least, not completely. There was this one time..."
The look on his face was one Donna recognized. It was the same one he wore when he talked about the Time War, or about any of the people he had loved and lost.

"What happened, sweetheart?"

"Donna I... I can't. I just can't. Please don't make me talk about it." His voice broke as he begged her, and his eyes grew suspiciously bright. Donna felt her hearts constrict in her chest at the obvious anguish her lover was experiencing. Making a decision, she scooted herself backwards so that she was propped up against the head of the bed and held out her arms to him.

"Come here, love."
Once the Doctor was happily nestled in into her arms, she pulled away a little so that she could look him in the eye and said "I understand if you don't want to talk about what happened, my love, but I think it's important that I know. We need to get this dream thing figured out. So… can you show me instead?" She reached out and brushed his left temple with her fingertips.

The Doctor returned her gesture reflexively, but drew his hand back reluctantly. "I... Donna, are you sure? These memories, they're not... pleasant."

She brought her other hand up to rest on his right temple and gazed unflinchingly into his eyes.
"I'm sure."
When he still made no move, Donna rolled her eyes and gave a mental push, immersing herself in his memories.

Images flashed through her mind, almost too quickly to comprehend; until she reached a seething morass of memories tinged with red and all somehow focused around one word, 'Master'.

With mounting horror, she watched as her lover and best friend was tortured, humiliated and abused by the man who was once his childhood playmate, his first love. She wept with him for the boy the Master had been- gentle, loving Koschei, who had died the day the Master was born.

Looking further back, Donna saw how the Master had escaped the Time War by disguising himself as a human- a disguise so thorough that he had even fooled himself. She saw how Martha Jones had inadvertently caused him to open the watch containing his Time Lord consciousness. She saw how he had stolen the TARDIS and used her to create a horrifying paradox allowing for the literal decimation of the human race. She felt the Doctor's pain as he listened helplessly to his ship's mental screams as she was mutilated. She felt his guilt at what he had asked Martha to do for the sake of the world. She felt his anguish when his one-time lover refused to regenerate out of pure spite.

Pulling herself out of his mind with a gasp, Donna saw that the Doctor was sitting hunched over with his head bowed, his shoulders shaking with silent sobs.

Wordlessly, she pulled him into her arms and began to stroke his wild hair soothingly. Upon finding himself safe and warm in his lover's embrace, the Doctor released his tenuous self-control and began to cry in earnest, heaving, ragged sobs shaking his slender frame and tears streaming down his cheeks as he clutched Donna desperately, pressing his face into the side of her neck.

Donna was crying too, the horror and tragedy of what had befallen her lover having broken through her considerable reserve. She hid her tears from him, knowing that he would only blame himself for them. When she felt that he was beginning to calm, she sniffed surreptitiously and wiped her face on her sleeve.

Pulling back from her, the Doctor sniffed mightily and said "Sorry."

Donna whacked him lightly on the forehead. "That's the last time I want to hear you apologize for showing your emotions. Out there, you can pretend it doesn't hurt, you can be the Oncoming Storm lord the Lonely God or whatever it is you're calling yourself now, but not here. Not with me. Please."

He smiled softly, amazed that this wonderful, understanding and forgiving woman had chosen to be with him in spite of his flaws, in spite of all the terrible things he’d done. "Thank you, my love."

She smiled back at him "Anytime."

***

The next morning, Donna and the Doctor awoke refreshed, both of them feeling quite content after their late-night communion. They sat facing each other across the kitchen table, each with their hands wrapped around a hot mug of strong tea. Taking a fortifying sip of her beverage, Donna spoke.
"So, whoever it was that sent me that dream" Nightmare, she corrected mentally "do you really think they could be a Time Lord?"

The Doctor closed his eyes briefly before answering "It's entirely possible, assuming anyone else managed to escape the way... well, to escape, at any rate. The problem with that theory is that I seriously doubt that anyone else would have tried. They were all so loyal, so obedient. I can't imagine that they would have even wanted to desert Gallifrey."

"Well they can't all have been like that, look at you" Donna teased him "Surely there must have been others."

"Well, maybe." The Doctor admitted reluctantly. "I certainly didn't know everyone on the planet."

"Either way, we have to find them. Surely anything powerful enough to fool us into thinking it's a Time Lord is worth as much attention as an actual Time Lord?"

"True."

Donna stood, pushing her chair backwards with a squeal. "Well then, skinny boy, we'd better get cracking, hadn't we?"

"Indeed we had. Come on then, Donna, allonsy!"

The two of them walked briskly from the kitchen to the console room, which had been placed conveniently across the hall. The Doctor sent a wordless thank you to the TARDIS for accommodating the urgency of their mission. As they approached the centre console, Donna asked "Will she be able to get a location from the psychic imprint of my dream, or do we need more information?"

"No, the dream should definitely be enough, with the amount of power it had behind it. She's a clever old girl. Aren't you? Yes you are!" He stroked one of the coral beams before giving it an exaggerated kiss. Donna rolled her eyes.

"Sometimes I think you like your ship more than you like me."

The Doctor wrapped one arm around the pillar and embraced Donna with the other. "I love our ship exactly as much as I love you, and she loves both of us. Don't you girl?"

The background humming of the TARDIS increased in pitch and volume until it sounded almost like a purr, and Donna melted.
"Aww, and I love you both too. So much." She gave the Doctor a quick peck on the lips and the TARDIS a vigorous pat. "Now, let's get this show on the road."

She moved over to the other side of the console and placed both her hands on a flattened area of coral which had presented itself rather conveniently when she had realized that she would need to enter into full telepathic communion with the ship. Reaching out mentally, she expanded her link with the ship until she was fully immersed in her consciousness.

Connecting with the TARDIS felt a little strange, but right somehow, Donna decided. The ship's mental landscape was utterly different from anything she had experienced before- massive and all-encompassing with little to no understanding of the passage of time. She felt herself falling, spiralling, buffeted by currents and eddies in the vastness in which she found herself. Before she had time to feel afraid, something caught her, steadied her and set her down on a solid surface.

Opening her eyes, Donna found herself in a small, comfortably furnished parlour room, complete with an open fire and pleasantly squashy looking couches. Seated rather primly in an armchair by the fire was a stately woman in a royal blue silk robe, cinched at the waist with a wide silver sash. She wore her dark, curly hair pinned up in a style which would have been elegant, had it not been in the process of springing loose.

As Donna took in her surroundings, the woman leapt from her seat and ran across the room to embrace her. The air was forcibly expelled from her lungs as the blue-silver-black whirlwind slammed into her. As she struggled to catch her breath, the woman babbled excitedly "Goodbye! No. Sorry. Hello! It's you! You're here! It's been so long since anyone came to visit me, and now you're here and you're going to find her and bring her home and oh, I've been looking forward to this so much!"

Finally regaining her ability to speak, Donna interrupted hurriedly "Sorry, what? Who are you? I'm supposed to be talking to the TARDIS. And what do you mean 'find her'? Find who?"

The other woman giggled. "I am the TARDIS, silly! As to the other..." She bit her lip "I can't tell you. Don't worry, you'll find out soon enough."

As much as Donna hated to be kept in the dark, she knew that foreknowledge could be particularly dangerous in a case like this one, and accepted that the TARDIS knew what she was doing.

"Okay then, I need to give you the psychic imprint of the dream I had. Er... how are we going to do this?"

"Oh, don't worry about that. I've got it already. Really, you bipeds are so easy to read. I've extrapolated the space-time co-ordinates; just get Himself out there to pilot us to the set destination."

As the room around her began to fade, Donna heard the TARDIS call out "and tell him to stop hitting me with that damned mallet!"

Donna opened her eyes in the console room to find the Doctor pacing nervously. As soon as he saw that she'd come back to herself, he ran over and wrapped himself around her, clinging like a limpet. "You were gone ages."

"Oh, don't be a child. I wasn't more than ten minutes, you big dumbo."

"Felt longer to me." He mumbled. "So, what did she say? Did she get the co-ordinates?"

Gently extricating herself from his arms, Donna answered "She's got them, they're entered and set, all you have to do is fly there."

"HaHA, excellent! Well done old girl!"

As the Doctor began to whiz around the console, pulling levers and flicking switches, Donna remembered something "and she says to stop hitting her!"
I don't normally beg for reviews, actually I hate it when people do that, but seriously, I need to know what people think so I can make the following chapters better.

WHY IS EVERYONE IGNORING MY FICS

FEED ME

LOVE ME

Filia Tempus- Chapter 1

Jenny sat in the corner of the room, hunched, shivering and naked on the cold concrete floor. The only illumination came in the form of a narrow beam which streamed in through a tiny window placed high in one of the stone walls. Even this meagre light lasted for only a few hours each morning- well, she called it morning, since they always came for her when the light was at its peak.

The sun had shone through the window fifteen times since she had first woken in the room.

Now, she noticed the angle of that one beam of light changing gradually until it shone almost directly down on her. Her pulse quickened and her stomach roiled in fear.

They would come soon.

She curled further in on herself as she heard the creaking of the stubborn hinges on the heavy door, trying desperately to hide her fear. Heavy footsteps moved across the room towards her. She clenched her fists and struggled to regulate her breathing.

The light from the window glowed red through her eyelids as she deliberately tried to ignore sensation of their hands on her body.

Hours later, she lay battered and bleeding in the darkness, and only one though occupied her mind as she slipped slowly into blissful oblivion.
"Daddy"
***
In a comfortably appointed parlour, lit by the warm glow of an open fire sat two figures that could have been called human, except that they weren't.
The larger of the two stood at nearly seven feet tall, with closely cropped dark hair and sloping shoulders. Any resemblance he bore to a human man ended there. In the place of eyes, he had a pair of mismatched gashes, each held open with crude stitches to reveal glittering black points embedded in mangled flesh which shone with a cruel intelligence. His 'mouth' was a similar gash, this one twisted in a permanent grotesque sneer, made all the more horrifying by the pointed teeth which jutted disturbingly over the bottom 'lip'. Where the nose should have been, there were instead two slightly flared slits, not unlike a snakes.

The second figure certainly looked more human than his companion, until you noticed his eyes. They were large, bulbous and yellow. Not human eyes with yellow irises, but blankly staring globes the colour of rancid butter. He was much shorter than the other creature, standing only five feet tall when he was feeling particularly optimistic. He also had dark hair, however his was slicked back and thinning at the front.

For all their differences, both figures exuded identical auras of smug self-satisfaction.

"Well my friend, we've finally done it. How does it feel?" The shorter man spoke jovially. His grotesque friend bared his teeth in a twisted approximation of a smile.
"Feels...good. Proud." The creatures voice was slow and measured, with a slight hissing tone and a disturbing touch of malevolence.

"Good, good." The shorter man stood with his his hands clasped behind his back and bounced on the balls of his feet. "What do you say, Phobos, fancy a drink?"
Phobos grunted in approval. "Sounds...good...boss."
***
Jenny paced worriedly around the perimeter of her cell, cold, hungry and decidedly unsettled. The prior two conditions she was accustomed to, but the third was a new development. Her captors had failed to arrive in over two days. The first day, she had felt nothing but an incredible sense of relief when, after waiting in terror for over an hour, she had realized that they weren't coming. On the second day, she had begun to worry that they were only ignoring her in preparation for some new torment.
This morning, she had felt something change.
She wasn't sure what it was, or indeed, how she knew about it, but something was different. There was a tension in the air, an intangible frission of energy that made it impossible for her to lie or sit passively as she had been for days. Something was coming.
Just as the thought occurred to her, she heard an odd squeaking noise, accompanied by the familiar tramp of heavy boots outside the door. She whimpered involuntarily and ran to the corner, as though she could hide from them in the shadows.
The door creaked open and she saw that the odd squeaking noise was made by a stainless steel gurney being wheeled into the room by the tall, hulking man whose grotesque excuse for a face haunted her dreams each night. His odious little yellow-eyed companion soon followed, wearing an odd little grin.
"Well now my sweet, we've finally succeeded. Do you know what that means?"
Mute with terror, Jenny simply shook her head.
The man’s grin widened. "It means, sweetling, that my experiment is complete. It means that my friend here will be the first of many. It means, my dear, that you are finally pregnant."
***
Donna and the Doctor sat curled up on a large, squashy couch in the TARDIS library, their silence broken only by the soft humming of the ship around them.
"Well then." Donnas tone was one of blank shock.
"Yeah." The Doctor, by contrast, sounded faintly disbelieving.
"That was..."
"I know."
They continued to sit in silence for a few minutes, thinking back on the events of the day.
It had started off as a regular day for the duo, with a hearty breakfast (prepared by Donna), a set of random co-ordinates entered into the TARDIS navigation systems and the usual corrupt government to overthrow. Just another day at the office.
And then Donna had been shot.
The Doctor shivered slightly as he recalled the look of sheer astonishment on her face as she crumpled to the ground. He remembered screaming her name and running to catch her before she hit the concrete (what was it with warehouses?). Then, impossibly, her hands had started to radiate with a gentle golden light. The Doctor had scrambled backwards, exclaiming "What!?" in disbelief. He knew that she had absorbed some of his genetic material as well as his memories during the metacrisis - that was what had saved her mind from burning up - but this should never have been possible.
Evidently, however, it was possible, and although he had grimaced in sympathy when she shrieked in pain as the fires of regeneration consumed her, he found himself grinning widely at the thought that Donna might be able to stay with him for longer than thirty or forty more years.
This had been confirmed when they had returned to the TARDIS, Donna leaning heavily on the Doctor as she struggled to remain conscious. They had headed straight for the medbay, anxious to determine exactly what had happened to Donna. What the scans had revealed had shocked them into their current state of stunned-mullet silence. It seemed that, when Donna had touched the Doctors old hand she had not only absorbed his memories and enough genetic information to make her brain compatible with them, but also the four additional chromosome sets containing the necessary information to facilitate regeneration. The upshot of this was that Donna was now a fully-functioning Time Lady, complete with second heart and respiratory bypass system.
Settling back into the couch a little, the Doctor snuck a quick glance at her, to find her staring determinedly in the opposite direction. He wondered when he had started sneaking glances at his best friend. That didn't seem like a particularly 'matey' thing to do. Now that he thought about it, things between them had been different ever since they had left Rose in the alternate universe with his duplicate. Since their telepathic link had been functioning at full capacity at the time, she had known full well that his story about the duplicate being dangerous was a ruse. The three of them had worked it out wordlessly whilst they were towing the Earth back into its proper orbit. The Doctor had realized right away that Rose's tale about the dimension cannon 'just starting to work' conveniently in time for the collapse of the multiverse was most likely missing a few vital details, and that whatever remained of his feelings for her had vanished when Donna had told him about what happened in the universe created by the time beetle. He could not in good conscience love someone who thought nothing of tearing his ship apart to serve her own selfish purposes, not to mention her callous attitude toward Donna as she lay dying.
Understanding this, the duplicate Doctor created by the metacrisis had offered to stay with Rose in the parallel universe to discourage her from using the dimension cannon again, as they were quite certain that it was what had caused much of the preliminary damage to the walls between the worlds. Donna and the original Doctor had agreed, but only after he had pointed out that there was really nothing for him in this universe. Donna and the Doctor had each other, and he was not quite their child and not quite their brother- an aberration. Although they vehemently disagreed with that statement, they accepted that he would rather make a new start for himself than live in their shadows.
Since then, Donna and the Doctor had resumed their old lifestyle, running and laughing together. But something indiscernible had changed between them. They had always been a bit familiar for people who were 'just friends', but now their hugs lasted just a fraction of a second longer, and they often found themselves holding hands when there was no running to be done at all. There were glances, stolen and fleeting, which left them looking away from each other and blushing furiously. Things were different, and...he found that he liked it.
Cautiously, he flicked another look in her direction, but this time he was surprised to catch her looking at him, with a speculative expression he was sure was mirrored on his own face. They sat like that, frozen, for a few seconds and then they were kissing, feverishly and without reserve and alright, fine, maybe he did want a bit more than just a mate.

Regenerate Me (2/2)

The Doctor's hearts twist sickeningly at her words.

"You... You really believe that, don't you? You honestly believe that I... That you... Oh Donna. I thought you must have known, must have seen it after the metacrisis. You had to have. "If it's in your head-""

"It's in mine." she finishes for him. "I remember that bit, but what do you mean Doctor? What must I have known?"

He swallows harshly before speaking. "You must have... must have known that I... That I... Donna, you had to have known what you meant to me!"

Her voice takes on a slightly dangerous tone. "What are you talking about, Spaceman? Come on, out with it!"

Gripping her firmly by her shoulders and shaking her slightly, he shouts in frustration. "YOU HAD TO HAVE KNOWN THAT I LOVE YOU!"

There is silence. Then- CRACK.

She slaps him soundly across the face once more.

Clasping a hand to his rapidly bruising cheek, he looks up to see that she is crying. "No, no Donna, please don't... This doesn't have to change anything, I mean obviously you don't feel the same way... We can go back to being just mates, best mates, like before! You and me, off to see the universe, just like old times! Doesn't that sou-"

"Doctor" She cuts him off "Shut up."

He shuts up.

She takes a shaky breath before speaking. "Now, obviously you've convinced yourself that that's true-"

"Donna, it IS true-"

She holds up a hand, halting his speech.

"It CAN'T be. You're right, I would have seen it. I didn't, so it. Can't. Be. True."

He huffs out a breath in frustration. "I don't know why you couldn't see it, Donna, but I swear to you it's true. I love you, Donna Noble, and it is my greatest regret that I didn't tell you sooner."

"But then why..." she says in a small voice "why did you send me away? If you loved me, why didn't you find another way? Why didn't you find THIS way?" She gestures vaguely, indicating the lingering traces of regeneration energy around them.

His breath catches slightly in his throat. "I was certain, absolutely certain, that this would be the last thing you'd want. To be stuck with me forever. I'm just a 'long streak of alien nothing', remember?"

"You idiot."

"W- what?"

"You heard me. You're an idiot, oh high-and-mighty Time Lord. Did it occur to you, when you were deciding my fate, to ask me what I wanted?"

He look at her wonderingly, hardly daring to hope that she means what he thinks she means.

Taking pity on him, she says “I love you too, you dunce.”

In an instant, the disbelief in his eyes turns to unrestrained joy. “Really?”

She smiles softly and reaches out a hand to cup his bruised cheek. “Come here, you moron.”

The gentle press of her lips fells like rain after a drought and he revels in it. Drinking deeply of each other, they cling and gasp until the heat becomes too much to bear and they break apart, panting.

When she’s caught her breath, she speaks again.

"And as for being a 'long streak of alien nothing'. She smiles a little in remembrance. "Not anymore you're not. Not that I minded, not really. Although I'm not sure this is an improvement- I look old enough to be your mother. And a bow-tie? Really?"

"Oi!" He retorts. "Bow-ties are cool."

She laughs. "Whatever you say, Martian. Whatever you say."

Old Gods

Among a certain class of metaphysical academics, there is a theory that universes begin and end with rather alarming frequency and that each new universe is formed from the leftover matter and energy of the previous one. Occasionally, or so the theory states, living entities – ancient beings of great power – manage to survive the end of an old universe, and continue to exist in the newly formed one. These entities have many names -gods, demons- and if they have a true one, we will never know it. However, they are most accurately called the Great Old Ones.
***
She was young when the world started crumbling.
There was panic, outrage when the first holes appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, eating away at the fabric of the universe. They searched frantically for a solution, a way to save themselves from the inevitable end. They failed.
By the time she was grown, people had either stopped caring or stopped taking notice. Life went on, and they spent their time working and sleeping and drinking, as people do, very deliberately not thinking about it.
She was afraid of death. Really, truly afraid. At night she would wake, gasping and crying, and beg whoever was listening to save her from the darkness. She could not bear the thought that one day she would simply cease to exist. So she fought. Of course, everyone fights death in their own way, but she was relentless. Frantic. She clawed and clung to life with everything she had.
It started simply enough, with cosmetic treatments and Telomerase implants. Almost everyone had those. The stem-cell treatments lost her a few friends, but by that point she no longer cared. She intended to live forever and nothing and no-one would stand in her way.
By the time she reached her sixtieth birthday, she was more plastic than woman. She went to sleep every night in a plexiglass tank full of hormone gel, plugged into pure oxygen feeds and blood filters.
She didn’t look a day over thirty.
Things only escalated from there. As the holes in the skin of the world became more numerous her terror increased to nearly debilitating levels. She protested and wheedled and seduced her way into government so that she could ensure the existence of bylaws and loopholes allowing her to have Backups made.
The Backups were her greatest triumph. Consisting of a transparent aluminium sphere filled with an electrically charged liquid matrix, each device was capable of hosting ten times the most advanced AI program available.
More than enough to store a human consciousness.
Having the copies made was an odd experience, even excluding the pain of having nanobots scanning, analyzing and replicating each configuration of her neurons. For a split second, just before the link was terminated, she became distinctly aware that she was thinking in stereo.
It was vaguely disconcerting, but not nearly enough for her to stop trying.
She kept up her rigid schedule of hormone treatments and blood filters after the download, still not wanting to exhaust her physical body until it was absolutely unavoidable. By the time she was three hundred years old, she knew the time had come.
For the first time in two hundred and fifty years, she lay down on a simple bed, not hooked up or plugged in to anything. She slept, and she did not awake.
When she was next aware, she felt…different.
She was bigger and smaller at the same time, with far more room in her mind (which is really all she is now) for thoughts and logic and reason, but with so much less feeling.
For some reason, things she had found utterly –wrongevilbadrun- in her flesh body now provoked only a dispassionate sort of interest, a mild fascination that sat right on the border between ‘yesIlikethis’ and ‘probablyabadidea’.
She thought this realization should probably bother her more than it did.
***
Only a few centuries after her transition from flesh to matrix, when she was quite used to her new medium and fully capable of the telepathic communication facilitated by the device, the universe ended.
This did not alarm her as much as she felt it should have.
She was not entirely sure how she survived, but doing so was perhaps the most painful experience of her long life. It felt like being burned, frozen, torn apart and crushed simultaneously.
How she, as a sentient metal sphere, felt all this, she did not know.
When things started existing again, she was well and truly insane. The new universe seemed to her to develop and grow with an alarming rapidity. She was frightened, and her fear made her strong.
She quickly learned to manipulate the new universe. She commandeered whole worlds before they had even finished forming out of the cosmic dust of creation, and twisted them to suit her purposes. Her purposes were mainly her own amusement, but what higher purpose can there be to an entity which would live forever?
She had whole races to worship her, and others which hated her, simply so that she could observe their petty wars, fought in her name. Or whatever name they called her- her own was lost to the winds of time.
She was not, of course, present physically on any of these worlds. Compared to the overwhelming power of her mind, her physical presence was rather underwhelming. She may have developed godlike mental size and strength, but her three-dimensional form was still a small metal sphere.
Had she still possessed anything like human emotion, she might have been embarrassed.
***
The universe grew and expanded and aged and she grew and expanded and aged with it. Millennia passed, and eventually, the dissolution started again. This time she was uniquely placed to observe the true scale of destruction, the unravelling of time itself.
This time, she was not afraid.
This time, the destruction was her doing, and hers to control.
She had discovered, through tireless manipulation of smaller and smaller elements, that over time- over millennia- tiny holes could be worked and worried into the fabric of reality. Once created, they needed very little encouragement to grow.
She took a vicious sort of delight in the wanton destruction of the universe that had driven her mad.
When everything was once more in tatters and falling to pieces around her, she was so old she no longer cared that she would be destroyed with the universe. Her influence, her personality, was so woven into this world that there was no way she could survive its end.
When the last thread broke and the universe finally blinked out of existence, she did not see the single spark of consciousness that remained.

Stockholm

He has been here far too long. Lanterns burning steadily lower, laughter and drunken conversation mingling and blurring together in an incomprehensible drone.
His own engagement party, and he wants nothing more than to leave.
He thinks longingly of the snow and freezing winter air outside. Away from the stifling heat and laughter and meaningless noise. Freedom…
What is he thinking? He is happy. Of course he is. This is what he wants, this is everything he has worked towards.
Success and money, and a good marriage to a girl of respectable stock. Life is good.
Smiling, he stands and takes his place with his betrothed on the dance floor.
Bow.
Wait for curtsey.
Hands here.
Feet there.
Remember to smile.
The rigid, formulaic steps he has known since childhood numb his mind, and he is able to convince himself that he finds the corseted form in his arms, glassy eyes looking up at him, appealing.
***
The illusion holds for the rest of the evening, until he is standing outside with the snow falling around him and the icy wind chilling him to the bone. As he pulls his coat tighter about himself, all the doubt and fear and yearning of earlier come flooding back.
What is he doing? This is madness, he cannot live like this, stifled by custom and champagne and smiling masks. His heart beating madly as a songbird desperate to escape its cage, he half steps, half stumbles backwards into the shadow of the building.
Panicked, breathing heavily, he leans into the cool solidity of the marble façade. This is not right. He is successful, moneyed and respected. He is British. He does not behave like a terrified, emotional barbarian.
I am in control. This is my life. I am in control.
He repeats the words like a prayer as he walks away with his head held high.
***
Not far away, hidden safely in the shadows, someone watches, and, smiling, nods imperceptibly to the man beside him.
***
His emotions now under control, he strides down the familiar London streets, inhaling the crisp winter air. Coaches rattling past, their curtains drawn against the night. Horses breathe steaming in the frigid air. Drivers perched atop, wrapped in coarse blankets and woollen cloaks, with their hats pulled low over their brows.
He thinks longingly of the warm, bright interiors of those coaches, and almost stops to hail one… But no. It is not a particularly long walk, and the cold helps keep his head clear and his thoughts rational.
Resolved now, he continues onwards into the darkness, confident in himself. Nothing is going to go wrong. His life is his own and perfectly in order. He will be married in a month. He will live on his family estates with his wife. They will be comfortable and raise children.
Everything is in order.
It must be.
Out of the corner of his eye, just for a second, he catches a glimpse of rough woollen gloves, a brawny forearm and a lead pipe.
There is pain, and then darkness.
***
He is aware first, of the incessant throbbing of his head, and then of the cold, hard stone floor he is lying on.
It is only when he tries to stand that he realizes he is chained down. Iron cuffs on each of his wrists, connected to bolts in the floor by short lengths of chain mean that he can sit, or lie but not stand.
Very deliberately not panicking he manoeuvres carefully into a contorted position, from which he is able to gingerly touch the throbbing lump on the back of his skull. This is most definitely a bad idea.
Darkness threatens to overtake his vision as a dull ringing fills his ears. Not doing that again.
When his vision clears, he is no longer alone. Just out of reach, completely still and cloaked in shadow, stands a just-perceptible figure-or silhouette, if he wants to be accurate. There aren't enough details to call him-for it is a man- a figure truly.
"Hello, Jonathon."
His voice is low, deep and rich, with a hint of telltale rasping that betrays his smoking habit. He steps out of the shadows, hands clasped behind his back, revealing an aquiline nose, a wide, sensual mouth and glittering, inscrutable black eyes. His hair, clasped neatly at the nape of his neck, and his impeccable trousers and tailcoat are violently juxtaposed against the dingy surrounds.
Kneeling suddenly, the stranger leans towards him, nostrils flaring as he inhales deeply. The warm rush of exhaled breath brings with it a sweet, cloying scent he recognizes as opium.
He closes his eyes and resists the urge to cough. When he opens them, the other man is smiling lasciviously.
"Hmm. That's lovely. Are you afraid, Jonathon?"
"That is not my name." Despite his best efforts, his voice breaks slightly on the possessive.
"Oh, I know that, my lovely, but I rather think it suits you. The proper gentleman, engaged, and so far away from home, at the mercy of a stranger."
His voice takes of a peculiar mocking, sing-song quality as he speaks.
The chained man shudders involuntarily.
"Oh... You are terrified, aren't you my pretty?"
An elegant, manicured hand presses against his chest, slipping under his coat.
"Listen to your heart race."
Time slows. Blood rushes in his ears as he becomes suddenly hyper-aware of the other man's hand on his heart and breath on his face, their noses barely an inch apart.
The moment passes.
The stranger smiles, draws back, and pats his cheek in a vaguely condescending manner.
His breathing remains uneven until long after the other has left him alone in the dark.
Time passes. Hours, or days, or weeks. It matters little which. He is left alone, and although there is a flask of water in his cell, he does not drink, fearing drugs or poison.
When the other man, his captor, visits again, it has been long enough that his beard has grown out, and his clothes are soiled and loose of his emaciated frame.
"Well, look at you, my sweetling. You've become quite ragged."
The chained man remains stubbornly silent, his only response being to curl further in upon himself.
"Oh... There's no need to be afraid, my lovely. I don't bite. Much. Still, I think a bath is in order."
He shivers again at the other man's salacious tone, but this time, he is horrified to realize, it is not a shiver of fear or disgust.
This is a shiver of desire.
He shuffles further into the darkness in an effort to conceal certain physical reactions to this unprecedented surge of feeling. Finding his voice, he croaks out:
"What... What do you want of me?"
The other smiles predatorily.
"Oh, that's easy, my darling. I want you to love me."

Unholy

UNHOLY

The boy's heart beat steadily faster as they approached the grand building at the centre of town. The warm summer day and his mother’s hand on his shoulder were deceptively normal, starkly juxtaposed with the terror that roiled sickeningly in his stomach.

He told himself that he was being stupid. He might not even be chosen today. Never mind that he was the favourite. It could be Jeffery today, or Michael. Maybe even little Suzie. He liked her sometimes. None of this showed on the boy’s face - he concentrated on the uncomfortable chafing of his best shoes to keep his expression blank. That was the first rule. Say nothing. Show nothing. He would know if you did.

The boy’s calm mask faltered only slightly as they stepped into the cool shadow of the cathedral. Just a flicker of fear as he spied Him standing, arms spread in welcome, at the pulpit. His yellowed teeth gleamed in a broad grin Welcome! He seemed to say. I am so happy to see you! I love you, I understand you! The boy knew better.
He remained silent as his mother hugged him goodbye, forcing a slight smile and a feeble wave as the rest of his family went to sit down in the pews. Time to go.

He continued steadily down the aisle. Past the fount, then the pulpit - past Him- and into the small vestry at the back of the church where the long white tunics were kept. Only once he had closed the door behind him did he allow the abject terror and despair to show on his face. His breathing became shallow and rapid; his clammy hands shook as he undressed. Only here, with no-one to see, could he indulge the terrified tears which coursed down his face.

He sniffed hard once, scrubbed his face furiously with his discarded shirt, and on leaden legs made his way to the plain wooden cupboard that housed his uniform. In the cupboard too, he knew were coils of blue and white nylon rope - but those hadn't seen much use lately. He knew better than to fight, and the others weren't strong enough to need them. The cool fabric of his tunic slid soothingly over his fear-flushed skin. It was lying, he wasn't fooled by the soft, comfortable cloth – but at least the red would be gone from his face now, and no-one would know.

His calm, stoic mask back firmly in place, the boy made his way back out into the main cathedral, the stone floor cold and unforgiving on his bare feet. This might be Gods house, but God wasn't home. It was as cold and empty as a tomb.

The boy knelt before the refectory, staring fixedly at the embroidered linen altar cloth to avoid the sight of Him - now gesticulating animatedly from the pulpit. The services no longer meant anything to him. No longer did the parts he was able to understand evoke that grand feeling of meaning, of purpose. No longer was he comforted by the empty promises of his own, personal demon.

His feet and legs were numb, the fine white cloth of his uniform, once so comfortingly soft, now offered no protection from the chill stone floor. He shivered almost imperceptibly, as he remembered the first time he had felt this floor.

He had been so excited, at first. It had been an honour, a privilege. His parents had been so proud. He had strutted importantly to the back room, chest thrust out, to don his tunic for the first time. Then, practically bursting with pride and excitement, he had made the journey back out to the altar. After the service, He had come to the boy and placed his hand on his shoulder. He had thought that the innocuous gesture was nothing more than congratulations on his first service. He had swelled a little more with pride - and when he went back to change into his ordinary clothes. He had been waiting. Standing by the cupboard with his blue rope and his blue pills that made it feel, for a minute, as if it wasn’t wrong. There he stood; wearing the same insouciant smile he used to greet his flock.
The Devil himself.

Over time he had started to bring the others - Jeffery and Michael and Suzie. But the boy was always his favourite. Now, the service was winding down, and murmuring issued from the pews as people began to stand up and leave. The boy stood stiffly, blood now rushing to his freezing legs. He waited - would he be chosen today?

Then, as if in slow motion, the boy felt His sweaty, calloused palm descend upon his shoulder. He fought to keep the fear and pain from his expression as the dreaded fingers dug into a bruise. It was purposeful, he knew. He had put the bruise there Himself. The boy felt sure his heart was audible, pulsing wildly within his chest.
That was it then. He was chosen.

With a sense of impending doom, the boy turned to watch the dregs of the congregation leave, even his own family. They would collect him later, when He was done. They didn't know, of course. He had hidden it well. Still, he couldn't help feeling a tingle of anger at their unwitting abandonment.

The boy stiffened his resolve, and with steely eyes turned to face the back room. His doom. A moment later, the anger-tingle was directed at himself. How could he just give up? This was what He wanted. He wanted him to just walk in there, of his own volition. To submit. He would show Him. He would make it so that He could never use him again.
Ever.

Trembling slightly - in anger, not fear - the boy turned, deliberately facing away from the room that was his own personal hell. From the masked devil that waited there. He walked steadily in the other direction, the freezing stone floor now a constant reminder of his resolve, increasing his determination with each numbing step. He reached the ornate stone basin, almost big enough to swim in, that stood near the centre of the cathedral. It wasn't quite full today - but no matter, it would suffice.

The boy took a deep breath - no turning back now - and with trembling hands removed the silken tunic. He hadn't bothered with underwear. What was the point? Still determined, he climbed into the icy liquid, falsely blessed by a demon.
Unholy water.

Almost instantly, his body numbed, gooseflesh rippling over his skin. The boy gazed upwards at the moulded plaster ceiling, and - with a feral grin at the thought of His face when he found his body - plunged his head underwater.