[identity profile] templeremus.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] who_contest
Title: Decompression
Rating: PG
Author: templeremus
Word Count: 500
Genre: Missing Scene
Characters: Nardole, Twelfh Doctor
Summary: Nardole deals with the fallout from events at Chasm Forge.
Set in the interval between Oxygen and Extremis.



It was only when he saw they were out of biscuits that Nardole panicked. Perhaps it was delayed shock, his mind's last-ditch attempt to protect him from the crisis at hand, but in that moment he gave serious consideration to locking himself in the Vault for the weekend. At least then his immediate worries would have paled very quickly into insignificance.

"You keep that face up, you'll have frowned yourself some mighty fine wrinkles by Tuesday."

Quite how a blind man could be so adept at creeping up on people was a question for a better day. As it was, Nardole more or less managed not to flinch. He relieved his feelings by emptying the cutlery drawer into the sink. "How do you know what my face is doing?"

"That's a point. I'm right, though, aren't I?"

In a previous existence, Nardole hadn't exactly relished arguing. The Universe, by all accounts, had enough battles going on without anyone else adding to the total. But that was before a lot of things, and in the time since he'd literally been put back together from the neck down, so these days most personal boundaries were open to renegotiation.

"Never mind 'right'. Can you stop trying to be right, or clever, or anything else for one minute and just admit, out loud, that this is not okay?"

His chest hurt. It was like being back in the spacesuit, or drawing in air through new lungs. Such intensity of feeling had been disconcerting, at first. Wandering Darillium in the week after he left the medical bay, he'd been positive that something had gone awry. The stars had made him giddy as never before, and the towers' song had cut through him like razor wire.

When questioned, the Doctor had dropped his shoulders and leant in close, as a child might when holding on to a secret. "It's called being alive, Nardole. Being alive, and really knowing how extraordinary that is."

He was hunched over now, so that Nardole could glimpse his eyes behind the glasses' frame. They were shut. "The kettle's boiled. Probably best if you pour."

The TARDIS played strange tricks on the way time passed. Days could fold into each other, and seconds could take so long to elapse that a lifetime could be conjured in the interval. As Nardole took his next breath, such a second went by. In it he ransacked the entire back-catalogue of his experiences, and realised that what frightened him above all else - death included - was the thought of letting the Doctor down. Loyalty had rewired him more completely than anything that could be pulled off with a few stray body parts and a screwdriver. 

He exhaled. Time began again. "I'd like to make it clear, sir, that I still hold the right to kick your arse."

"Noted." 

For as long as there was a job to do, the terms of their pact remained. Nardole loaded the tea tray, and they headed back outside together.
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