Fandom(s): Doctor Who (modern)
Characters: David Tennant, Eleventh Doctor, Amy Pond, Rory Williams
Pairing(s): None (well, Amy and Rory)
Rating: PG, maybe PG-13
Warnings: Character death
Genre: Sci-fi, adventure
Summary: While filming his final specials for Doctor Who, David Tennant finds himself in the TARDIS, face-to-face with a future incarnation of the character he portrays, his childhood hero. When he discovers that he can't return to his own world, he must determine his place in this strange yet familiar universe.
Word count (chapter): 1255
Master post link: Master post
“Impressive.” The Doctor’s strident voice echoed off the stone walls, startling David, who hadn’t heard his arrival despite the thumping of his boots on the flagstones. Sitting in a corner with his knees drawn up to his chest, David raised his head from his arms. The room spun.
"What is?" David's voice was low, uncaring and exhausted.
"You're probably the only person in the universe who could find the cloister room in this form. I haven't seen it myself in over two hundred years." The Doctor whirled around the stone garden, running his hands reverently down the marble columns and fingering the leaves of the ivy runners.
"I don't remember." David dropped his head down again. "I just... walked."
"Been hours." The Doctor hopped over a carved bench near David and sat down facing him.
David shrugged. “Who can tell? The TARDIS is timeless.”
“Rory is worried about you.”
David’s head snapped up, his eyes blazing. “Are you quite done?” he snarled. “I came here for peace and quiet!”
The Doctor wasn’t fazed. “David, we’ve got to talk.”
“I don’t ‘got’ to do anything. Go away.” He buried his face in his arms again.
“You’re tearing yourself apart. You need to talk about it.”
“It’s been a few hours! I don’t get a few hours to grieve?”
“This isn’t grief. Okay, it's grief, but there's a whole lot more, and you don't have to deal with it alone. I know you blame yourself for her death. It's not your fault."
With his elbows on his knees, David held his head in both hands. "You weren't there. You don't know that. I'm the one that set her off. Not the TARDIS. She's seen m- my Doctor before, and she's seen the TARDIS, but never both together, and she was fine then. This time, she saw…” He gasped for air. “Because I had to... and that's why when... the TARDIS... and she..." Sobbing, he couldn't continue.
The Doctor frowned. David hadn't spoken enough coherent words to explain what had happened. He leapt up from his seat and plopped down next to David, putting an arm around him. "Come on. Tell me what happened." He patted David awkwardly as he waited for the man to recover his control.
"The escape pod," David finally blurted out. "They were going to take off. Donna was in there. I knew it would set her off, but I had to clear them out." He looked up, into the Doctor's eyes. "Don't you see? They would have killed everyone, and they didn't even know it! I had to stop them. But it meant Donna seeing me. She... she started to hurt, but she stopped. And then she saw the TARDIS in the transmat chamber, and then she couldn't stop.
"It was her or everyone, Doctor. I had to choose. And I chose to kill Donna Noble." He stared straight ahead.
"The impossible decision. I know what you're feeling all too well."
"I know you do. But I can't... I don't..." In frustration, he jumped up and strode off a few paces, then whirled back, tearing at his hair with both hands. "I'm not you! I'm not a Time Lord! I can't do this! I can't make these kinds of decisions! I'm just me, just a man, just... just an actor, I don't know! I don't want to have to choose who dies!"
The Doctor got to his feet. "It's hard, I know. It’s proper hard. It’s impossible. But you made the right decision. Hundreds of people owe their lives to you."
David clenched his jaw. "It doesn't make me feel any better."
"No. It doesn't. But that's what you have to believe, because it's true.” He closed the distance between them and squeezed David’s arm. “Remind yourself of that, every second."
David rounded on him, screaming, "Doesn't it bother you at all that Donna's dead?"
The Doctor gazed back at him, unperturbed. "Of course it does. Donna was my best friend when... in my last life, perhaps ever. She was magnificent. It broke my hearts when I had to lock her away, and they're breaking now. But that has nothing to do with you. You made the difficult decision when both choices were terrible. And you're paying the price for it.
"David. You saved hundreds of lives on that ship. Before that, hundreds more on the Polthite colony ship. Who knows how many in Cambridge. You could go back to a normal life and you'll probably never have to do something like this again. If you stay with me, you can see the universe and do great things, but it's a good bet that you'll have to face this kind of thing again, and there are no easy answers. You have to ask yourself, ‘Is it worth it?’
“The only thing I can advise you is, don't let it break you. Don't let it change you. You're clever, you're brave, you're compassionate, and you're just. Let that guide you. And afterwards, don't be so hard on yourself. Give yourself time to heal."
David regarded him with a sardonic eye. "Fine words, coming from you."
"That's my fight, every single day. As you well know. Only way to keep going." The Doctor spun away to inspect the ivy on the wall behind him.
Dropping heavily on a stone bench, David covered his face with his hands, his breathing ragged. "I can't do this. I just can't do this." He inhaled deeply and rubbed his hands over his eyes then through his hair. Hunching forward with his elbows on his knees and hands dangling, he cocked his head and regarded the Doctor with exhausted eyes. "No, you're right. Only way to keep going. I'll try."
The Doctor turned back. "And you'll succeed. I know you will. It'll get better every moment."
David's lips twitched a tiny smile. "Thank you, Doctor."
"Right!" The Doctor clapped and strode a few steps towards the door, then spun back around and gestured at the room.. "Splendid being back here. Always so peaceful. Tell the TARDIS to archive this room. No. Can't have two cloisters. She'll put it back, but you can always find this one. Just like you did." He whirled again and pointed at David. "Rory is worried about you. Did I tell you that already? That's what I came here for. Take all the time you need. You've all the time in the universe here." Continuing to ramble, he swept out of the cloister, the stones echoing his footfalls.
David sat up and stared absently at the archway through which the Doctor disappeared. He knew that the Doctor was right, that the wound was too raw for him to feel anything but pain, but that given time, he'd be able to deal with it, to think about it without hating himself. And, that for all the heartache, he'd done some good and wanted to do more; he didn't want to leave, not yet. For now, he closed his eyes and let the serenity of the cloister salve his lacerated soul.