Like a gutted hare … she looked over at her companion. Hare, or puppy. She really hated the woman. She didn’t want to be anywhere near her, because she really, really didn’t want to die.
It was frustrating to be so afraid of someone. She decided not to think about it, if she could possibly avoid it, then turned her eyes to the metal city that stood just shy of the horizon and altogether too close to them. Needs must, though; they had to get into that place in order to get to the Doctor —
Missy called her to the dark opening. “How much of a drop would you say that is?”
**** ***** ****
Even as she walked toward the thing on the wall, Clara knew that Missy was setting her up. And some bright, cold part of her that she imagined was smiling wanted to find out what for.
She thought she knew.
Both she and the other woman had startled when they’d heard his voice, setting up a clangour in the city’s metal mazes above them, carrying down into the subterranean cloaca in which they stood.
He was ordering the Daleks to tell them where she was. He was warning them of what would happen if she wasn’t returned, unharmed. Her. Returned to him, him, unharmed.
There was no mention of the other woman. Clara had glanced over, wondering if she dared show her elation.
“Listen to that; the Doctor, without hope,” Missy had said, an odd emptiness on her face. Or was it happiness? “Nobody's safe now.”
Then Missy had told her to look at something on the wall ahead of them.
Sometimes — lots of times — she hated herself, and that bright, cold part of her, the part that looked at the world with raptor eyes. Curiosity was really quite overrated. She bitched at Missy, and counted the steps to the thing on the wall.
A few moments later, the raptor was winging its way back into her subconscious, chased by sheer terror; not just that she was a gutted hare again, being used as bait, but because she was shackled to a goopy wall of living, hating matter. It wanted to kill her, and, since it couldn’t, it was smelly and slimy at her instead, and she couldn’t bear the thought of it touching her.
She wondered what a hare felt like the moment before it was killed.
Curiosity was definitely overrated.
**** ***** ****
**** ***** ****
I have been here before.
(Let me out. Let me out.)
No, I have not.
( I am covered in its leavings, let me out.)
( I can’t see. I can’t breathe. Let me out.)
( I am going to die.)
( I remember shattered glass—)
What am I remembering?
(What is she telling me to do?)
I was saving him.
(What am I saying?)
I am a human.
(Oh, my god, what am I saying?)
This is a nightmare.
(I can’t say what I want to, can’t say what I need to.)
But I could. I can do it again.
(I’ve got to find him.)
I … saved him?
(I can handle this if it means I save him.)
I am a human. I am not a Dalek.
(I am a human. I am not a Dalek.)
I killed Daleks.
(I am going to kill her. Somehow, I will kill her.)
****** ***** ********
“Why aren’t you trying to kill me?” The Doctor’s face was so alive, and Clara loved it so very much.
“Mercy!” (“Because I would never kill you. You are the last person I would ever kill.”) “I show mercy.”
His face changed again. Hope was terrible to watch, Clara thought distractedly. “Open your casing.”
“Just think the word ‘open’ - it'll work.”
He was right, and he was there, and she was crying.
“Oh ...pffft. Picture that. Now there's a surprise.” Missy looked disappointed and perhaps a little nervous.
The Doctor spared one glance away from Clara. Only one. “Missy — run.”
Clara thought she should feel vindicated, or triumphant, or something. He’d chosen her, and not the other. But it wasn’t like that, not anymore, she realized, and she hated the thought of being that kind of woman anyhow. Not the kind who got jealous. Not even, she thought with surprised resignation, the kind who would actually kill the creature who had tormented her. Not that she didn’t want to; she just knew she couldn’t.
Missy wasn’t running. “In a way this is why I gave her to you in the first place. To make you see. The friend inside the enemy, the enemy inside the friend…” She trailed off, looking unsure of herself for the first time in this whole nightmare.
His hands were on Clara’s face, at her temples, he was removing the contacts from her brain. It hurt, and she wept again. “I'm sorry Clara, so sorry.”
Missy still hadn’t moved, had resumed speaking. “Everyone's a bit of both. Everyone's a hybrid.”
He looked as savage as Clara had ever seen him. “I said run!”
Missy’s face hardened. “Wasn't me who ran - that was always you.” But she wasn’t stupid. She was far from stupid, and she fled.
Seconds later, so did they.
********* ****** **********
“She loves you, you know.”
The eyebrows shot up. “Missy?” They fell again. “Yes, she does. And she wants to kill me. And you.
And probably anyone in her path for the next few years, which we most certainly will not be in.”
Neither he nor Clara had any doubt that the woman had escaped Skaro Reborn, but in the days after their own escape neither had brought the subject up. Until now.
“She’s out there, more bad luck for everyone. She’s like a cockroach,” the Doctor said. “A brilliant, psychopathic cockroach. Or Keith Richards.”
“Better looking than either,” Clara said, trying to go with the joke. She was in the TARDIS now; she could joke again.
“I don’t know about that,” he responded, lobbing it back to her. “Keith is the personification of raffish, even when he looks dead; I should know. And my point still stands. Missy’s survived. So watch your back.” He wasn’t joking anymore.
“You too.” Neither was she.
The two of them looked at each other. There didn’t seem to be much more to say. But she couldn’t let it go. “How can she be that way? How can she—”
“—murder indiscriminately, enjoy slaughtering innocents, plan the death of millions, look forward to destroying the spirit of anyone she takes an interest in, and suchlike? Don’t know, don’t care.”
She gave him a look.
“What? No, really, I don’t care. I can’t afford to care, not anymore. I’ve better people to worry about, and only so much empathy to spare.” He threw a lever on the console with unnecessary ferocity, then glowered at her. “And just why are you bringing her up now?”
Clara shrugged, remembering the cold, bright part of her that even being shut up in a Dalek shell hadn’t quenched. “ I spent quality time with her; it’s kind of hard to forget her.”
Now he looked sad. “I know.”
He didn’t say anything more. But he didn’t flinch when she got up from where she’d been sitting on the TARDIS steps, and came over to him, embraced him from behind and said, “I’m sorry.”
She really was, she realized, and she held him closer.