-M. C. Escher
She is restless. He notices, of course, but he is far too polite to pry past asking if she wishes to speak about anything; she promises that she is fine and has nothing to talk about.
He wonders if she truly thinks that he believes her promises of I’m all right and that he is soothed. He worries for her, and when she wakes in the night, crying, his hearts ache. He is the Doctor; he is supposed to be able to fix her, to help her…She refuses to let him.
And so he stands by, helpless, and watches as Nyssa of Traken battles her demons alone – He was supposed to be her champion, fighting her battles for her so that her innocence remained in tact.
He had made a promise to her father to protect her… He had made a promise to himself to protect her. Perhaps he should stop making promises.
The time passes and the Trakenite returns to her usual self. She no longer wakes in the night, but the Doctor knows that Nyssa is like him: the dreams are there…she’s simply become used to them. All the same, she laughs and smiles and his worry ebbs away as she takes his hands and tangles their fingers.
They don’t talk about it, they simply carry on living.
She’s becoming too much like him.
The nightmares begin again after the regeneration; it’s a traumatic time for the both of them, he knows. She’s trying to be strong for him, and he adores her for it but he cannot allow her to suffer.
He’s less polite now, but no less observant. He’s still awake when he hears Nyssa scream and he moves to her bedroom as quickly as his legs will carry him…She’s sitting up in bed, her forehead resting on her drawn up knees. The Doctor remembers Terminus, how frightened and fragile the young woman had seemed when he had found her and his voice was soft when he speaks. “Nyssa.”
“Doctor.” She looks at him and wipes her tears, hastily as the Time Lord sits beside her. “I didn’t wake you, did I?”
“I haven’t been to bed yet.” He promises and he helps to wipe her cheeks. “Nyssa, what’s wrong?”
She shakes her head and settles her cheek on his shoulder and his hand moves up to stroke her dark curls. He allows his companion to stay that way a while before setting a hand on either cheek and guiding her face up so that they’re eyes meet.
The Trakenite’s body shakes with a fresh wave of sobs that his gaze brings about and the Doctor’s hearts hammer in his chest. She’s hurting. She’s hurting, and he wants to fix her.
“Forgive me.” And he dives into her mind.
They had connected before...back when he was cricket and celery, back when it was just them. Her defenses are low but she tries to bring them up in vain when she feels him slip in. She tries to close the door, but he has his foot in already.
She trembles and he searches her mind, intently.
There is so much pain there, and he nearly reels from it; how has she kept herself together for so long? He watches Traken disappear from the sky and he feels Nyssa’s betrayal and hurt when she learned that her father was gone. He experiences the terror she felt on Mondas, when she believed him gone and he relives the terror of the Daleks. He watches Tegan say goodbye and he sees the Master consumed in flame. He witnesses Erimem’s death again and he hears Nyssa’s screams on Androzani.
She can’t save them. She can only watch. He can’t save them…He can only watch.
Where is it?
The bat’s milk!
Finished. Only enough for you.
It’s time to say goodbye.
And the cloister bell is ringing.
The Doctor pulls his mind back, and Nyssa cries out. Fresh tears trail down her cheeks and he runs his thumbs across her pale skin. “Oh, Nyssa.”
She’s become too much like him and he presses a kiss to her forehead and holds her close, as if to protect her from everything.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, Nyssa.”
He stays with her that night, long after the TARDIS lulls her to sleep and it’s not until she’s drifted off that he notices that he has been crying too.