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Before her, she saw death, destruction, cruelty, suffering. He saw that it was but a thing of her past, but it seemed that that past had not left her, but haunted her relentlessly instead. She continued, it seemed, to relive the pain and horror of days long past. Because of that, she now cringed in front of him, shaking and sobbing.

The poor child... he thought, though she was probably no younger than he was. He now wished to help her, to soothe her fears. For even though hers was no illness to be cured by medication, and he was trained to be but a ' simple, family doctor', he did have some of the more unconventional methods of treating a patient.

" You poor child... Do not fear, I am here to help." He moved closer to her, while gently utilising his powers to calm her fears. Telepathically, he ' stroked' her mind, attempting to override the negative images with positive ones. In her mind, he inserted scenes of peace: the magnificent desert, the trees of his homeland, laughing children, and a man's smiling face. His smiling face.

It confused her, this sudden flow of peaceful scenes. She could not understand from whence they came from, or what they meant. But Charles saw her features soften a little, and a slight shy smile creased the corners of her lips.

" Beautiful mountains... lovely trees... happy people..." she stared into the distance, her eyes unfocused and dreamy. " Family... Mama, Papa... flowers..."

She murmured to herself, no longer conscious of Charles' presence. She had taken his cue, and began thinking of her own images. Pleasantries and scenes of a happy childhood rang in her mind, as she began to dream.

Charles smiled inwardly. His play had succeeded, and now she was calmer, and her nightmare was fading into the background. But as he probed a little further, he realised that the nightmare had not been eradicated, but had retreated only for that moment. At any moment, it might unexpectedly resurface again, and it would be far more difficult to deal with than before.

He would therefore have to take advantage of the present lull.

Moving close - to her side - he gently took her by the shoulders. His touch startled her, but she did not scream. The soothing images had had some effect.

" W- who are you...? W-what do you want from me?"

" I am a doctor. I want to help you."

She did not seem to understand. Then a gleam of realisation showed in her eyes.

" Please help me... help me."

She quietly pleaded with him, He continued to stroke her mind, and soon, her eyelids began to droop.

" Tired... so very tired..."

She gradually fell into a deep sleep.

At that, Charles slowly stood up, allowing her to lie on the ground in her slumber.

Looking down at her, she seemed so vulnerable. A pitiful figure, curled up and shivering in the morning coolness. She must have been through so much, he realised... it is a wonder that she managed to live with what she must have gone through, to be in such a pitiful state today.

He continued to stand over her, a guardian standing watch over his charge, protecting her from the evils of the universe.


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