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"You Can Go"

Title: "You Can Go"
Fandom(s): Doctor Who
Characters: Joan Redfern, OC
Pairing(s): None
Rating: G
Genre: Character Study
Word Count: 494

Summary: An opened heart closes again, at least for now.

This was written for LiteraryFanFiction for the 1/23/2015 Flash Fan Fiction Friday contest (prompt is "Secondary Character Narration", though this really feels more like a tertiary character narration) and the "Vast" drabble prompt for the who_contest community on LiveJournal.

Requires familiarity with "Human Nature" / "Family of Blood", to the point where this story won't make any sense if you're not familiar with that episode pair.

The second-to-the-last time I saw her was late the next day. We were all exhausted, after rounding all the boys back up, delivering them to their frightened parents, explaining to all of them what had happened the night before when we weren't even sure ourselves. The school finally empty of panicked families, she was standing alone in the cavernous entrance hallway, seemingly dazed. The rest of the staff had gone home, so it was just her and me.

"There's nothing left to do today," I called to her. "You should go home."

"Yes, thank you, Thomas," she murmured. "I believe I shall." She didn't look at me. Instead, she gazed about the chamber. "I never realised how echoing and empty it is, when everyone is taken from it. So silent, when the voices you've grown accustomed to are gone."

Stepping to her, I squeezed her shoulder. "Don't despair, Joan. Strange things have happened here, and we've suffered terrible losses, but thankfully, none of the boys were injured. Rocastle, Philips, and Smith gave their lives to defend them, and we should think them all heroes. The school will reopen, next year maybe, and these halls will be filled again. We’ll need you."

"Perhaps. I never thought..." She turned away, and I had the distinct impression she hadn't been talking about the school. "Do you think...?"

"Yes?" I tried to coax her question as gently as I could, and she peered back at me.

"Does God understand us at all?" The question took me aback, and she continued when I wasn’t inclined to respond. "If He were to walk amongst us, what must He see? I cannot think that He feels as we do. He is so vast, so far above us, could He comprehend all our little concerns, our loves, our tragedies? The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, but can He really know what the gift and the loss mean to us? I cannot think that He understands why we love when we do."

I admit, I had no answer and gaped like a goldfish. She smiled. "Ah, I am being silly. Don't mind me, Thomas. I am so very tired, I don’t know what I’m saying. I shall see you tomorrow. I've the infirmary to clean up." She nodded to me and let herself out of the tall front doors.

I saw her for the last time a month later, in the church graveyard, from a distance, She had a book clutched to her breast, and I saw her place a large red flower in front of John's gravestone. She spoke, but I could not hear what she said to him. Then she left, and I am given to understand that she caught the post to Norwich that day, and then a train to some distant place. As I approached his marker, I saw that she hadn't left a flower. It was a cricket ball. I suppose I shall always wonder why.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 23rd, 2015 05:57 pm (UTC)
Oh... I never thought of the implications of John Smith returning to being the Doctor like that. I mean, he said he had to die for the Doctor to come back, but never realized they would set up a gravestone for him without the body. (Well, others were vaporized, come to think of it, no bodies there, either.)

She left a cricket ball. How interesting.... I wonder where that idea came from?

Well done, as we never really saw the immediate aftermath of what happened!
Jan. 23rd, 2015 11:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you! One of my favorite types of stories to write is "what happens afterwards". In fact, I think probably a good half of my standalone stories are that, referring to a specific episode.

I deliberately left the cricket ball open to interpretation, because it's so much more fun for the reader that way, but if you'd like my reason... He used the cricket ball to save the life of the woman with her baby in the pram, just as he was saying that the world can find heroes in the most ordinary of deeds. The cricket ball was her way of telling him how he was her hero, in ordinary ways - his teaching, his art, opening her heart again, especially - that distinguished him from the Doctor he became.
Jan. 24th, 2015 11:58 pm (UTC)
Yes, and he would carry a cricket ball with him, wouldn't he? Kettle and a ball of string!
Jan. 23rd, 2015 07:26 pm (UTC)
Wow...this was stunning, sweetie! Simple and gorgeous.

Jan. 23rd, 2015 11:52 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! :)
Jan. 23rd, 2015 08:30 pm (UTC)
A very haunting story. Indeed, the Doctor goes off on his merry way in Human Nature, so can he really empathize wth humankind? And Joan's alone to pick up the pieces. Well done.
Jan. 23rd, 2015 11:53 pm (UTC)
He always does, and sometimes he leaves behind broken lives. And the fact that he tried repeatedly to get Joan to come with him demonstrates that he really doesn't understand.
Jan. 24th, 2015 02:47 am (UTC)
What an interesting little story. I like that you wrote it from another person's POV. Nice job.
Jan. 24th, 2015 08:17 pm (UTC)
Thank you! The POV was forced by the prompt, but it was an interesting exercise that I have to keep in mind for trying out again later.
Jan. 29th, 2015 04:24 pm (UTC)
I deliberately didn't read this until now as I am re-watching Doctor Who with my husband (who sees it for the first time) and I knew we were going to see these episodes soon. Well, we did last night and I must sat that your story is absolutely perfect! I think Joan would react very much like that. Bravo!
Feb. 4th, 2015 06:52 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! I haven't actually seen HN/FoB in a few months, despite it being my favorite episode, so I'm very happy to hear that felt that my Joan was faithful to her portrayal.
Jan. 29th, 2015 07:32 pm (UTC)
Oh, that is a beautiful piece (well, as usual). Your Joan insight was wonderful, the way you portrayed her was really powerful emotionally speaking; there was such a feeling of quietness, a haze, like it was all unreal, and her questions about God were very thought-provoking. It was absolutely like her, just wonderful. Thank you for this!
Feb. 4th, 2015 06:53 am (UTC)
Thanks! I wanted that dazed feel, that everything had finally calmed down and she wasn't sure what had just happened.
Feb. 4th, 2015 09:30 pm (UTC)
It was really nicely conveyed :)
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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