[SPOILERS for DWM 342, 'Bad Blood' part 5]


The Doctor closed the door behind him and sat down by Destrii's bed.

"...They gone?" Destrii croaked.

The Doctor nodded. "Yes."

"Good..." Destrii said, her voice a raspy whisper. "Not... not like they

She coughed, breaking off the sentence before she could finish.

The Doctor remembered the expression on Izzy's face as she'd left.

No, he thought. I know one person who wants to stay with you.

No, he corrected himself. Make that two.

"...So tell me, Doc..." Destrii whispered. "How bad is it? Am I..." She coughed
again. "Am I ever gonna play the piano again?"

"Could you play it before?" the Doctor inquired.

"...Spoilsport." Destrii muttered.

"You're stable." the Doctor said.

"...What does that mean?" Destrii said. "It doesn't..." She took a deep breath.
"It doesn't mean anything.

"_How bad is it?_"

"At the very least, you're suffering from shock, severe bruising, energy
burns... and a fair amount of bleeding." the Doctor said. "But it's not going to
heal normally."

_That_ caught Destrii's attention.

"_What?_" she demanded, before breaking off into another cough.

"The price of living in a continuing series." the Doctor said softly, once she'd
settled down again. "You won't start healing for another four weeks - until the
next DWM comes out.

"You're not about to get any better, not until we know how things turn out.

"Until then..." He sat forward in his chair. "You're stuck here."

"...Continuity again." Destrii spat out. "Wonderful..."

She rested her head on the pillow, staring at the ceiling.

Believe me, the Doctor thought, I don't think you _want_ to be up and about.
Because if you were, you'd see this, and somehow, I don't think you want that.

Destrii's wounds were changing as he watched, changing from bruises to
contusions to burns, changing size and shape, some shrinking, some expanding,
even changing location.

'Bad Blood's' end had seen her left badly injured, barely able to muster a
sentence - but what the strip had _not_ shown were her actual injuries; they had
been left suggested, implied.

The lack of that knowledge, that certainty, meant that, Outside, the precise
nature of her injuries was subject to change - change of shape, size, type, even

The one place where he could be sure she _wasn't_ injured was her back - Jodafra
had attacked her from the _front_.

Seeing an energy burn _move_ across someone's skin was one of the more
unsettling experiences the Doctor had had to watch in his long life.

He'd known Jodafra was quite amoral, prepared to do anything to achieve his
goals - but even so, he'd always seemed to have some form of affection for his

That he'd done _this_, beaten her within an inch of her life...

Why? the Doctor wondered.

He knew _why_ - because Destrii had turned on Jodafra when she'd learned her
uncle was willing to sacrifice children to get what he wanted, had brought his
plans tumbling down.

But what lay behind that? What had driven him to it, to the point where he'd
left Destrii battered and broken on the ground?

Was it because she'd betrayed him, thwarted his plans?

Or because he'd failed, for perhaps the first time the Doctor had known him?


Perhaps the answer could be found in both.

Whatever his motive, however, the fact remained that he had still done this, had
beaten Destrii to a pulp, then left her bleeding in the snow.

_That_ he'd left her... somehow, the Doctor suspected that if Jodafra _had_
wanted to kill his niece, he would have.

But he hadn't.

Jodafra's twisted form of mercy, perhaps, knowing the Doctor would come along
and save her?


But the Doctor thought otherwise.

That he'd left Destrii behind for a reason, a _deliberate_ reason...

The Matriax had been insane, violently insane.

Destrii, her daughter... there was still something humane in there, the Doctor
knew, something that could empathise with another.

But Jodafra... he had the intelligence, the ruthlessness, the lack of

The Doctor had seen how many lives he was willing to sacrifice to achieve his
goals, for the secrets of time travel.

A dark mirror, he'd thought. A dark mirror to himself. The person he might be,
if only he put away his conscience.

What he wanted now, though...

Mastery of time travel? Revenge on the Doctor? Both? Or something else

The Doctor knew he'd find out eventually. Hopefully before he changed bodies.

But he wouldn't be surprised in the least if abandoning Destrii played into
Jodafra's plans.

Disgusted, yes. Outraged, yes.

But surprised?


As for Destrii herself...

The Doctor sighed. Destrii was right, much as he hated to admit it. The chances
of any of his companions - apart from Izzy - coming to visit again rated
somewhere close to nil. They didn't care, and quite frankly, the Doctor didn't
think he could blame them.

She was one of them, yes, one of the group - but Destrii's cheerful amorality

If she'd been calculating, driven, obsessive - like Nyssa, the Doctor thought
darkly - then shutting her out would have been easier.

She wasn't.

She was intelligent, witty, adventurous, capable of taking care of herself...
but what she lacked - or had _seemed_ to lack, the Doctor corrected himself -
was any sense of empathy, any sense of guilt or remorse, any sense that other
people mattered, had their own feelings, their own thoughts, their own lives.

But somewhere along the line, that had changed. She _had_ empathised - and in
doing so, had rejected Jodafra, had chosen another path.

Perhaps she'd changed. Perhaps it had been something that had always been there.

But there was something in Destrii that _could_ feel for others, could empathise
with their pain.

He'd misjudged her, the Doctor freely admitted to himself - or rather he'd
misjudged her capacity for empathy. He'd come to believe that she lacked it
entirely - that she was a psychopath, a true psychopath.

But, as events had shown, that wasn't the case.

Under the right circumstances, she _could_ empathise, could be concerned about

Where that would take her, the Doctor didn't know... but they wouldn't have long
to find out. The strip switchover was coming up soon, and he doubted she'd carry
through into his successor's era.

He'd already lost Gus and Ace at the switchovers. To lose Destrii...

He didn't want this to become a habit.

"Doc...?" Destrii croaked.


"Why...?" She drew in a breath. "Why haven't you buggered off?"

For a moment, the Doctor considered telling her everything, everything he'd been
thinking of, but rejected it just as quickly as being counterproductive. That
was _not_ what Destrii wanted to hear.

"Because I thought someone should be here." he said instead. "Because I couldn't
let you go through this alone. Because you needed someone here."

"...You're weird." Destrii finally said.

"So I've been told," the Doctor acknowledged, the briefest smile appearing on
his face.

"Why're you really here?"

The Doctor sighed. In all honesty, he hadn't expected anything else.

"As I said." he said. "Because someone should be with you."

"...Tell me another one..." Destrii croaked out, in a horrible parody of a

"All right." the Doctor said. "How about this?

"With your uncle gone, we're taking in your younger counterparts - baby Destrii,
kid Destrii and teen Destrii.

"Since you're the only member of your family still around, their guardianship
has fallen to you - and since you're currently invalid, we're looking after them
for you."

"...What?" Destrii said finally.

"We're looking after them." the Doctor said, as if this were the simplest thing
in the world.

"But..." Destrii said.

"They'll be all right, Destrii." the Doctor said softly. "I'll make sure of

"...Why?" Destrii whispered.

"There's no-one else." the Doctor said, painfully aware of how true it was.
There _was_ no-one else to look after the younger Destriis. He could have let
them be put in care until Destrii recovered - _could_ - but in the end, he had
decided to look after them himself.

Letting them go into care would be breaking the responsibility he had to
Destrii - to her, and to her younger versions. His other companions might not
like it - but in the end, she was a fellow traveller, just as much as they were.

If he looked out for a hospitalised Destrii, but did nothing to make sure her
younger versions were all right, did nothing when he could have done something -
if he did nothing, when he had urged her to remember what it was like to be a
child, had helped her decide against Jodafra - then that made him a hypocrite,
both to her and to himself.

And in this case, that was not something he intended to be.

"...You promise?" Destrii said.

The Doctor nodded. "I promise."

With considerable effort, Destrii managed to lift her head up enough to manage a
nod. "...Thanks."

The Doctor watched her head sink back against the pillow, watched her eyes
flutter closed, watched her breathing settle into a steady rise and fall.

Then, once he was sure she was sleeping, he reached out his hand and rested it
on hers.

"Sleep well, Destrii."

He stayed there a long while.




Summary: Destrii's hospitalisation raises some difficult issues for the Doctor. Spoilers for the DWM strip 'Bad Blood'.

Disclaimer: 'Doctor Who' and the Doctor are the BBC's.

Destrii and Jodafra are Marvel's.

The Gus and Ace reference - Gus died in 'The Moderator', the Fifth Doctor's final DWM adventure, while Ace died in 'Ground Zero', the Seventh's final DWM adventure.


Copyright 2004 Imran Inayat.