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Second best

He spends a lot of his time watching a clock.

Seconds tick, seconds tock, time passes and it seems too quick, too ephemeral.

One second. Gone.

Another second. Gone. Dead. Kaput. Forever. Never again.

He'll never be able to get it back; he 'll never be able to control it, to reverse the hands, to flick one switch and be back in 17th century... oh... Cardiff, probably. But he'll never make that mistake again. He'll never drive another TARDIS. Feel coral beneath his fingers, listen to his ship breathe and live and glow. Never be able to hear her song in his head.

Fingers slide through his, but he doesn't look up.

He's only second best, even to her. There's a man out there whose life he wants, whose life he wants to live, whose life he wants to deserve. Whose two hearts he wants to have because those are the only ones she'll ever connect to. The only ones she'll ever love.

But his hearts... his heart... it doesn't feel right.

Pinstripes sting, words bite, facial expressions scar.

He wants to convince her that he's him, that he's the same. Completely the same, but he knows he can't. He can't, because he's human and human feelings mean human guilt. So he can't lie.

He can't be who she wants.

He knows exactly the moment when she slips into that illusionary world where for a split second she looks at him and thinks he's him. He knows exactly when she closes her eyes as they hug, to believe that these arms that wrap around her are covered in brown pinstripes instead of blue, and he knows exactly when she gets too close, close enough to hear his just-one heart, that single beat which shatters that blissful fabrication into pieces.

She doesn't tell him, but he knows. He's breaking her, slowly, from the inside out, through the mere fact that he exists.

He's only the image of the man she wishes he was, and she's only his jailer. Well, perhaps that's a bit harsh. If she's his jailer, he rather likes being imprisoned.

Or he'd like to think so. But he doesn't. Not really.

He's trapped, just like she is, just like she had been, just like she will be. He can't use stars as stepping stones, he can't jump from summer to winter in a blink of an eye. He can't save worlds and planets, people out there who are dying without him. He can't say he used to, either, because that's not him. That's never been him. Nine hundred isn't a number he can associate with himself any more. And it hurts.

He's just a thing. A computer that looks the same as the old model, has all the same data, but isn't the old model. A cheap knock-off. A fake. One that'll wither and die.

He needs you.

And she's his technician. His mechanic. The repairman. Well, woman.

He's been broken. Before her. By her. After her.

But now she's here to fix him again. While the other him, the real him, but then what is real in the skewed up mess of universes that is this place?

The other him is the same, but he doesn't have her to fix it for him.

He finally tears his eyes away from the clock and looks around at her, blonde locks and brown eyes.

Her lips curl uneasily when their eyes meet, and she squeezes his hand gently, reassuringly. She never says his name, and he's not sure if she'll ever be able use to, ever again.

"I'm here," she tells him softly. He doesn't know why it's him that needs to be told this.

He has her. He has the one thing the Doctor never would, never again. And she was there to make him better. Touches tingle for him, he wishes he knew that it did the same for her. Because while he's her second best, she's all he has, and he knows who's got the better end of the bargain, even if it doesn't feel like it right now.

He's got someone to heal him.

And she would.

She would nurture him until he stopped watching the clock. She would make things better. She would heal him. She would save him.

Hands tighten.

She would save him.

Right?

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
rude_not_ginger
Jul. 7th, 2008 12:17 am (UTC)
ooc
I'm blown away by this. I have to admit that I was displeased by the end of the season, but this is the sort of fanfic that can make me think differently about a character and about a situation.

Wonderfully done, I hope to read more.
ambitious_woman
Jul. 7th, 2008 02:25 am (UTC)
He knows exactly the moment when she slips into that illusionary world where for a split second she looks at him and thinks he's him. He knows exactly when she closes her eyes as they hug, to believe that these arms that wrap around her are covered in brown pinstripes instead of blue, and he knows exactly when she gets too close, close enough to hear his just-one heart, that single beat which shatters that blissful fabrication into pieces.


And....

"I'm here," she tells him softly. He doesn't know why it's him that needs to be told this.

This is absolutely STUNNING. I have already read it three times.

banished_dame
Jul. 7th, 2008 06:27 am (UTC)
Oh such a wonderful little piece and I'm glad that I was linked to it because I've had such odd reactions to it all and of course things like this don't make it easier for me to pick one side or the other but I'm so glad I read it. It really is a wonderful look into all the emotions and things NOT being said on that beach.
thecricketer
Jul. 11th, 2008 06:53 pm (UTC)
Oh, that was just beautifully painful. I don't like to think about that ending, really, but this Doctor is so fascinating, and you've captured his identity crisis and despair and hope so very well.

Would you mind if I friended you?
not_from_mars
Jul. 11th, 2008 09:08 pm (UTC)
ooc
This was beautiful. I also wasn't a big fan of the finale, but I was intrigued by what would happen to the other Doctor in the parallel world, how he'd deal with it, how he'd feel both towards the Doctor and Rose. I think you captured it wonderfully.

I'd like to friend you, too, if you don't mind. :)
ibringlife
Jul. 12th, 2008 08:19 am (UTC)
ooc:
Oh, this is lovely. You have a really good grasp of his character already, & I'm looking forward to reading more.
roseoflegend
Jul. 13th, 2008 05:30 am (UTC)
OOC
This is brilliant. Really moving, the sort of gripping prompt that keeps a reader's attention and has them wanting more. I can't wait to see what else you do with the new character the finale gave us. Best wishes!
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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