Fandom: Doctor Who
Characters: John Benton, Third Doctor
Prompt: 099. Writer‘s Choice. (Trust)
Word Count: 923
Summary: “Do you trust me, Sergeant?”
Disclaimer: I own nothing but my own OCs, should I create any for these stories.
Author’s Note: Implicit; adjective - 2. unquestioning or unreserved; absolute.
He’s never been fond of heights, ever since he was a little boy. Captain Yates teases him about it good-naturedly, saying that’s odd for a man of his height to be bothered by something like this, but he knows the Captain doesn’t mean it. He’d told the man how the circumstances behind his brother’s death affected him ages ago when they’d first become good friends, so he knows that there’s no venom behind the banter.
Besides Captain Yates, though, he’s never told anyone about this - not even the Brigadier. The last thing he wants is to be seen as a liability or to be sent off for a psychiatric evaluation; he knows that the majority of soldiers that get ordered to have an eval done for reasons like this never come back.
Anyway, that was then, and this is now - he’s hanging for dear life off the side of a half-collapsed tower, trying desperately not to fall, as he knows there’s nothing to prevent him from hitting the road far below.
He’s not sure how long he’s been hanging up there, but it’s long enough that he doesn’t have much feeling in his arms anymore and he’s stopped trying to get up to the window ledge above him. Right now, the idea of trying to move again is terrifying him; he keeps having to readjust his grip as his palms get sweatier and his grip weakens.
Then he hears a voice below him. “Sergeant Benton! Good heavens - are you alright?”
It’s the Doctor! He cracks one eye open from where it’s been tightly shut, and braves a quick look down - only to be hit by a wave of vertigo before he has a chance to see much of anything. He quickly closes the eye again, willing himself not to lose it; not now, not in front of the Doctor. He realizes he probably ought to answer, and tries to compose himself before he does so, but his voice still comes out more tightly than he’d prefer: “Not the best, Doctor. Got a way down I should know about?”
There’s silence for a few long moments, during which Benton has to adjust his hands again from where his grip has weakened. Then he hears the Scientific Advisor’s voice again: “Yes, actually - there’s a bit of a ledge not too far below you. You could land on it if you drop from the beam you’re holding onto.”
And therein lies the problem; while he doesn’t doubt that the Doctor is telling the truth, his brain still can’t seem to rid itself of the idea that what if there isn’t anything and you’re just going to fall and die fall just like Chris all your fault why did you tell him to get up there it wasn’t safe he’s going to fall just like you’re going to fall falling kills you there’s nothing to catch you just like there was nothing to catch Chris and suddenly, he’s startled by the Doctor’s voice speaking again, and this time it’s raised: “Sergeant Benton!”
He forces himself out of that train of thought, and tries to concentrate on the Doctor, but his rapidly weakening grip is making it very hard not to focus on that increasingly despairing mindset. “Y-yes, Doctor?” he manages to get out, and oh good God, he hates it when he’s reduced to stuttering.
The voice from below speaks up again: “You need to let go before you do yourself an injury, Sergeant. It’s quite safe.”
His hand slips just slightly. He manages to readjust it, but his grip is tenuous at best. “Are you sure about that, Doctor?”
“Quite sure, Benton. I’m standing on it, myself.” The Scientific Advisor’s voice sounds calm and reassuring, and Benton wants to believe that it’ll be alright if he lets go; that the outcome will be different than it was with Chris… but there’s that seed of niggling doubt that won’t let go of the idea that it won’t work. What if it doesn’t hold both you and the Doctor? his mind cruelly taunts him. You’ll fall if it doesn’t hold, and you remember what falling did to Chris… He tries to readjust his grip, but realizes in horror that his hands have gotten so sweaty by this point that readjusting them makes little difference; it’s only a matter of time before he falls.
His mind begins to turn to memories of Chris: first, happier images of them playing together, then they take a decidedly morbid turn and decide to show him a full play through of the memory of the day Chris died. He’s only just gotten to the part where Chris is about to fall when the Doctor’s voice interrupts the scene, bringing him back to the present: “Do you trust me?”
He almost doesn’t hear the question at first; still caught up in the horrible images and memories. “Sorry, Doctor, could you repeat that?”
“I said, the ledge is just fine - I promise, it will easily hold both you and I. Do you trust me, Sergeant?”
Benton doesn’t even need to think about that statement - of course he trusts the Doctor. He remembers all the times that the Scientific Advisor has proven his trustworthiness to him and to UNIT; not always in words, but his actions have always been for the good. He can’t recall any time at all that trust given to the Doctor has been misplaced.
With that thought in mind, he takes a deep breath, and lets go.
X-posted to FF.net, Teaspoon, AO3, and unit_family.
A Fine Line - Between Chaos and Creation
Everybody seems to think I'm lazy; I don't mind, I think they're crazy...
- Thursday, Week 9 - UNIT!100 - 099. Writer's Choice (Trust).