Troubled Water by LN29 [Reviews - 6] |
Short, angsty one-shot taking place a few months before "Thine Own Self." Technically a companion piece to that story, but can also completely stand alone.
It's not going to be easy for him, and the Time Lord Doctor was kidding himself if he thought it'd be as simple as Rose "making him better." I do think there's a strong possibility of a good outcome (see my seperate series, One Heart, One Life, for the more optimistic future of these two), but the Doctor is such a complex, nuanced character, and the human Doctor even more so, in some ways, since we have so little to work with from the show itself when it comes to his personality. And I'm finding myself drawn to his story.
One other thing: For people who follow my stories, I am planning another full-length Doctor and Rose story, and I'm excited about it. But I'm waiting until (hopefully) Christmas break to officially launch it, so I'll (hopefully) have enough free time to devote to it, provided nothing unexpected happens. So, in the meantime, I'm occupying myself with oneshots like this one. Hope you like it! Thanks for reading!
There was a bridge a few streets over from their flat.
It was just an ordinary bridge, spanning an ordinary river. He’d first noticed it when they were driving to Torchwood, back when they’d first moved here from the Tyler mansion. Rose had never really put down roots, since she hadn’t exactly planned on permanent residence in this universe, but once he’d arrived, she’d decided that they really needed a place of their own. He hadn’t exactly felt inclined to argue, especially since the alternative meant living in Jackie Tyler’s house. Not that he disliked her…far from it, he was far more fond of her than he ever would have anticipated at their first meeting. But there was a big difference between liking someone and wanting to live under the same roof as them. So they’d found their own place, and moved in about a month ago.
Not long after that, he’d discovered the bridge.
There wasn’t really anything particularly notable about it, beyond its basic function as a way to get from one side of the river to the other. It wasn’t small enough to be quaint, or impressive enough to be considered a landmark, just steel and concrete designed more for utility than aesthetics. He doubted anyone paid much attention to it, save for when they were actually driving on it, and he couldn’t really blame them. It was, in a word, unextraordinary.
But every morning, before work, he walked to that bridge.
It was a less than ten minute walk, past houses and streets and cars that all looked the same to him, and people who never looked twice. The sun was typically just beginning to rise, but the streets were already busy, the human race greeting the new day with traffic jams and text messages. A zeppelin would usually be passing overhead, its flight path taking it right over their neighborhood at that time, and sometimes he’d pause to watch. He still hadn’t gotten completely used to the sight. He didn’t think Rose had either.
He was surrounded by the sounds of a world beginning its day, the chatter of voices mingling with the rumble of traffic, punctuated by the occasional blare of a horn or echo of a siren, and maybe a birdsong if he was particularly fortunate. But as he neared his destination, all this became underscored by the low but unmistakable sound of running water.
Keeping to the side to avoid the cars making their way across it, he stepped out onto the bridge, and felt his single heart quicken in a way that it only did here. It wasn’t staggeringly high, but it was still enough to prompt a fear of heights in some people. However, he was used to it now, and it only spurred him onward as he ducked the ineffective railing and made his way to the very edge. As he always did.
No one stopped him. No one ever had.
He looked down at the water rushing far below him, loud enough now to almost drown out the sound of traffic, and watched the river surge along its course. Tempestuous and powerful, darkened by the not-yet-fully-risen sun, and sometimes mixed with the white of churning waves. Several stories below his feet, far enough to make his breath catch in his throat as he caught the river’s unmistakable scent in the morning wind. He watched it rushing along the course it had carved out for itself after countless years, aggressive in its constancy, and powerful in its patient, unceasing flow. With a kind of mesmerizing beauty that he had found himself inexplicably drawn to ever since he’d first come out here.
Closing his eyes, he let the distant sound and scent of the river below wash over him, and tried to forget everything else, just for a moment. Tried to focus on nothing but the information his senses were feeding him, and not to notice that his senses were not as keen as they’d been for nearly a millennium. But they were still enough to immerse him in the moment, and he listened with all his might, the river’s rush almost enough to drown out the absence of a second heartbeat, and the gnawing ache of where the TARDIS used to be.
He couldn’t stay long, and he knew it. But as he opened his eyes and once again experienced the slight, heady rush as his gaze fell on the empty space before him, and the vast distance leading to the churning water below him, he felt the closest thing to a smile that he’d felt yet today on his face.
The wind picked up, and he gripped the railing behind him, watching the water swirl in infinite patterns far below his feet. There was something magnetic about the power of the running water, and something comforting in the fact that it was so constant and timeless. It’d been here yesterday, and it’d be here tomorrow, and there were so few things he could say that about anymore.
The pull grew stronger than ever, his grip tightening to the point of being almost painful, and he felt a tightness in his chest that felt as though it could manifest itself anywhere from a shout at an unanswering universe or a sob that being part-human only made it harder to hold back. A steadily growing pressure that he didn’t know how to relieve, and feared what might happen if he did.
So, instead, he forced himself to step backwards and duck back under the railing. Back onto the safety and dependability of solid ground, back to face the day ahead of him. Away from the edge…for today at least.
Sometimes Rose would laugh, joking about his obsession with the bridge. She’d come with him once or twice, wanting to be with him and see what he saw, but while she’d felt the same rush of proximity to danger that he did, she didn’t quite see the point in returning day after day. However, she didn’t object. In fact, she found it endearing that he was focusing so much on something so mundane, so human and ordinary. Another of his eccentricities (of which he was the first to admit that there were many).
He loved to hear her laugh, and she didn’t do it nearly enough these days, so he would only smile sheepishly and keep quiet, not correcting any of her assumptions. Especially because she wasn’t completely wrong.
But what she didn’t know was that every day, when he stood at the edge of that bridge, human heart beating like it was trying to make up for the absence of the second, and looked down at the river rushing far below…he thought about throwing himself off.