Title: Land of Nightmares
Pairing: Tenth Doctor/Jethro Cane
Fandom: Doctor Who
Prompt: 97, Dream
Disclaimer: This is entirely a product of my own imagination, and I make no profit from it. I do not own the Tenth Doctor or Jethro Cane. Please do not sue.
***The Doctor tried to move his wrists, his legs, any part of his body. He couldn't. He was tied down, helpless, unable to move.
He couldn't cry out. The gag in his mouth kept back all sound, from a whispered plea to a scream.
It was cold, so cold. Or was his body simply numbed, incapable of any feeling other than pain?
How long had he been here?
It didn't matter how long. He was here, helpless, facing death for what was surely the final time in his long life. This time, he wouldn't be able to escape it.
The gleam of something metal; the feel of it slicing into his skin.
It was all slipping away, flowing out of him along with his lifeblood. His vision was dimming, his breathing drawn and raspy.
A searing pain between his legs, the sensation of being filled enveloping him even as his hearts slowed to a stop and he struggled to take one last breath ....
The Doctor screamed, sitting bolt upright in bed and clutching the covers with both hands. He pressed one palm against his chest, frantically searching for his heartbeats, needing proof that he was here, safe on the Tardis, and not in some torture chamber nearing the last seconds of his life.
He was here. He was safe. It had been a dream, an unsettling, terrifying nightmare. The Doctor closed his eyes, taking a deep, sobbing breath, then letting the air out slowly. With the second deep breath, he was able to calm himself a bit, though he was still trembling and his hearts were galloping in his chest.
Jethro sat up beside him, cautiously laying a hand on the Doctor's shoulder, his eyes wide with worry. The Doctor placed one hand over the young man's, squeezing Jethro's fingers gently, letting Jethro know that he was all right without speaking.
He couldn't speak, not yet. The residue of the nightmare was still with him; even though he'd never come that close to dying, even at the Master's hands, it was frightening to contemplate -- especially when he knew that something of that magnitude could very well happen. That maniac was more than capable of deciding to do away with the Doctor if the fancy took him.
And where would that leave Jethro? If the Master killed him and he somehow couldn't regenerate, then Jethro might be stranded on some hostile planet. He would be at the mercy of whatever species populated the place -- or worse, he could become the Master's captive.
A shudder went through his thin body at the thought, and his fingers curled more tightly around his young lover's hand. He couldn't bear to think of anything like that happening to Jethro, not when he knew from personal experience what it would be like. Death would be infinitely preferable; at least the pain wouldn't last nearly as long.
Those strong arms were sliding around his waist, pulling him close against Jethro's body. The Doctor turned towards the young man holding him, closing his eyes and resting his hot cheek against Jethro's chest. The nightmares were getting worse; they were also getting more horrific, seeming more like premonitions than dreams. And he couldn't make them stop.
"Another bad dream?" Jethro's voice was soft in his ear, his lover's voice warm and comforting. The Doctor didn't answer him immediately; finally, he nodded, not raising his head.
"They're getting more frequent," Jethro said, the note of worry in his voice unmistakable. "I wish I knew how to make them stop, Doctor. I feel so .... so damned helpless. If there's anything I can do, then tell me." He gathered the Doctor closer against him, letting the Time Lord curl into his embrace and leaning back against the pillows.
"There's nothing either of us can do, I'm afraid." The Doctor sighed as he lifted his head to meet Jethro's worried gaze, shaking his head. "I don't know what's triggered them -- only that they're starting to become less like dreams and more like .... a premonition of the future." He shuddered, squeezing his eyes closed again as though that could negate the visions.
"The future?" Jethro sounded puzzled. "I thought you could see the future. Surely you can't think that he could .... change it, somehow."
The Doctor shook his head again, wishing that explanations about his knowledge of the future would come easier to him. "I can't actually see into the future, Jethro. I don't have any powers of divination. I can see time stetching back into the past, and towards the future. But I don't know what's going to happen in that span of time."
Jethro nodded slowly, taking in the Doctor's words. "So you can sense time, instead of being able to see what's going to happen. I can't imagine what that must be like -- to have such a connection to time, as far back and as far forward as it can possibly go."
The Doctor shrugged, feeling uncomfortable with the conversation. It somehow made him sound as though he had some sort of mysterious powers that he didn't possess. "It's nothing that other Time Lords haven't had throughout the centuries, Jethro," he said softly, wishing that he could minimize what we was. "I just happen to be the last of my people. I'm nothing special."
"Yes, you are," Jethro murmured, bowing his head to brush a gentle kiss against the Doctor's cheek. "I've known you were special from the first moment I saw you, on that train when we first met on Midnight. I couldn't shake the feeling that you were going to be the most special person in my life. And I was right about that."
"I was right about you, too," the Doctor said softly, letting himself sink into his boyfriend's arms, trying to make himself relax. "Something told me that we would meet again. I knew somehow that I should go back to Midnight, even though I didn't know exactly why I was drawn there. That was the best choice I ever made."
Jethro's arms were such a safe haven, he thought to himself; the one place in the universe where he'd always be safe, no matter what danger tried to follow him. Even the Tardis had never been able to make him feel like this, even though his bond with her was as unbreakable as ever.
That was because Jethro had bonded with him on a more primal note than the Tardis was capable of doing. He knew that. But it still seemed .... well, strange and almost mystical the way that he and Jethro had come together. It was almost as though their second meeting had been planned, that they'd been made to crash together by some force outside of themselves.
"Of course you were." Jethro's voice was teasing, as though he was trying to lighten the mood. "You should've known from the first time you saw me that I was going to stick to you like glue and not let you go. I bet you couldn't forget me."
"I couldn't," the Doctor agreed, his lips curving in a smile. "No matter how much I tried to put you -- and what happened in that train -- out of my mind, I kept coming back to it. I was trying not to think of you, and all I did was think of you more. That's always the way, isn't it?"
"Not always," Jethro disagreed, shaking his head. "I couldn't have forgotten you even if I'd tried to. You stayed in my mind until I ran into you again." One hand tipped the Doctor's face up to his own as he bowed his head and kissed the Time Lord, whispering against his mouth. "And in my heart, too. I knew I'd find you again."
"I'm glad you did," the Doctor murmured, meaning his words with every fiber of his being. "If you hadn't, I don't know where I'd be now."
"Let's not think about that," Jethro told him, stroking a gentle hand through his hair. "You're here, and so am I -- and that's what matters." He kissed the Time Lord again, brushing his lips across the Gallifreyan's as softly as a breeze. "And I'll protect you from those nightmares."
"If only you could, Jethro," the Doctor whispered, wishing that it were possible for those words to magically come true. As much as he might want to do so, Jethro couldn't protect him from something that was a product of his own mind. He couldn't even protect himself.
He sighed, turning slightly and sliding his thin arms around Jethro's waist. The remnants of the dream were still with him; it would take a while before they were banished, and he was sure that he wasn't going to find any relief in slumber tonight.
Going back to sleep was an impossibility. Not only because the dream would stick with him -- and quite possibly jump out at him again, even more vivid than before, its teeth and claws outstretched to tear him to pieces -- but because he was now too keyed up and nervous to fall asleep again. He was still trembling, still unable to relax completely.
"You aren't going to be able to sleep, are you?" Jethro asked softly, still sounding worried. The Doctor hated to put his young lover through this; Jethro shouldn't have to deal with these fragments of his past that always seemed to manifest themselves at the worst possible time. He must be getting tired of it, and he couldn't be blamed for feeling frustrated.
"No, I doubt it," he murmured, closing his eyes and wishing that he could fall asleep again. At this rate, he was going to be too tired to function properly within another few days. He didn't need as much as sleep as humans, but he did require a certain amount of rest. Rest that he was sure he wouldn't be getting.
Jethro pulled the covers up over the two of them, tucking in the blankets around the Doctor's slender shoulders and settling down next to him. "Try," he said softly, tracing a finger over the Time Lord's lips. "You need to sleep. And I'll be here to watch over you."
"If only it was that easy," the Doctor sighed, his arms tightening around Jethro. Still, he could at least close his eyes and try to relax. Even if he couldn't fall asleep, he could lie here with his lover and feel that they were safe -- for the time being. There was no telling what they would walk into next, in whatever time and place they happened to stop in.
"I'll protect you, you know," Jethro murmured, brushing the Doctor's hair back from his eyes and letting his fingertips stroke down the Time Lord's cheek. "I won't let anything happen to you. Those dreams -- they're just dreams. They're not your future."
"I hope you're right," the Doctor told him, snuggling under the covers and trying to make himself relax. He was tired, truth be told -- those horrific nightmares took more out of him than he wanted to admit. They seemed to drain him, to take away something of his essence, more than being awake and alert did.
"I am." Jethro's voice was firm, his hands stroking down the Doctor's back, kneading his shoulders, rubbing the tension from his muscles. "Dreams aren't truth, Doctor. Not unless you let them be."
"Maybe you're right," the Doctor said softly, resting his head against Jethro's shoulder and closing his eyes. He could feel his body relaxing, his hold on consciousness slipping away -- but this time, it wasn't frightening. Not while he was safe in Jethro's arms.
A wisp of thought came to him as he let himself sink into sleep, making him struggle to open his eyes and grasp it. The nightmares drained him -- but why? What was triggering them? Was there some outside force sending them into his mind, invading his sleep and snatching it away? Was there something more to this than dreams forcing themselves front and center in his mind?
He gave up thinking, sinking into slumber and releasing his hold on the waking world. But that last thought would be there when he awakened, growing in his mind from a suspicion to a certainty.
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