Several Years Later (At Least as Fitz Counts)
Fitz watched the soldiers swarming around the National Gallery and tried to suppress his curiosity. He recognised UNIT by now and he knew the Undergallery was down there, but that didn't necessarily mean anything. Besides he was absolutely totally over the Doctor.
In spite of himself he wandered up the steps and in between the columns. At the entrance a soldier stopped him.
"Sorry, sir," the woman began.
"I know Lethbridge-Stewart," Fitz began the lie.
"It's OK, Sergeant, he's with me."
Fitz blinked at the man who bounded up, he was wearing a tweed jacket and bow tie with hair that was flopping wildly into his eyes. A small pretty brunette was on his heels.
"Doctor?" Fitz asked.
A wide grin broke across the man's face. "You recognised me?" he said in delight.
"Who else could it be?"
The Doctor's face was so mobile and expressive, so like his Doctor that it hurt Fitz desperately. This man was so different to the Doctor he had left, the Doctor who even in the moments after his regeneration had worn too much armour to ever really let Fitz in.
"I'm Clara Oswald," said the woman with a grin, holding out her hand around the Doctor. She looked like good companion material: fresh faced, vivacious, perky.
"Fitz Kreiner." Fitz shook it.
"Well, this is wonderful. We must go and have tea somewhere and catch up." The Doctor's hands fluttered around nervously.
He strode past Fitz and down the steps of the Gallery.
Clara grinned at Fitz. "You travelled with him, didn't you?"
"Yeah, yeah! I did." Fitz gazed idly at the Doctor's retreating back.
"Come on you two, don't dawdle." The Doctor waved his hands in the air.
Clara offered to take their order to the counter, which left Fitz and the Doctor staring awkwardly at each other over the plastic menus.
"How have you been?" Fitz asked.
The Doctor's face became solemn. "Worse and then better?"
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"I thought I did something terrible but I've just learned that I didn't and now, here you are!"
Fitz frowned and fiddled with the menu. "That doesn't actually make much sense... and it makes me sound like a prize for not doing bad things."
"No! No! No! I never thought you were, it's just... isn't this brilliant!"
Fitz's heart squeezed a little more as the emotion and pleasure washed over him from the Doctor, raw and without moderation. But he still didn't understand anything.
"When you left..." the Doctor began and then hesitated.
Fitz remembered the kiss, the sudden pressure of dry lips against his. His own sick certainty that this was not a moment of passion, but a moment of desperation, the Doctor was trying to hang onto something from before. That had been the worst of it, really, being offered something only after the point of it had long gone.
"I couldn't stay. You weren't... you weren't the same," Fitz forced out.
"You left your jacket. I wore that jacket. For years I wore that jacket. It was a cool jacket."
The Doctor's face briefly lapsed into something melancholic. Fitz had a sense of missed opportunities. He hadn't really meant to leave the jacket behind, but he'd been in such a rush to flee from the strange Doctor who both wanted to bind him close and push him away. It had been like being frozen and suffocated at once.
"How long has it been?" Fitz asked.
"Too long, but I couldn't, you see, because of the terrible thing. I couldn't because you knew what I was capable of and you left."
"You are making very little sense here," Fitz felt compelled to point out.
"Come away with me," the Doctor urged suddenly.
Fitz had hardly been cut off from the world since the Doctor had left him. It wasn't like he hadn't met some of the Doctor's other companions. He'd talked to them. If there was one thing he knew, it was that once you were gone the Doctor never asked you back. He stared at his old friend across the table and wondered what to say, because he'd built himself a life in the 21st century, and it wasn't the boring rest-of-my-existence-as-a-shop-assistant life he'd been facing when he first met the Doctor. It was a life which involved people who depended upon him, not to mention a certain amount of running away from aliens and getting shot at.
"It's complicated," he said at last and winced, because if that didn't sound like a polite brush off, he didn't know what did.
"It's probably not as complicated as you think," the Doctor pushed.
Fitz found himself losing his temper. "How would you bloody know? I mean you've assumed I went back to boring loser-ville the moment you turned your back. Well I didn't. I got involved in things, and with people, and they are important."
The Doctor held up his hands. "Sorry, yes. People and things. I've never been all that good at either of those."
Fitz anger drained away slightly. "Yeah, well, me neither, but I don't think I can just up sticks now and vanish totally."
"You could let the Doctor just give you the odd call when he feels like companionship."
Fitz looked up, startled to see Clara had come back carrying a plastic tray with a teapot and three cups.
"That's what I do. Got a life here, thank you very much, but I can't say no to the odd bit of part-time adventuring."
"Part-time adventuring?" Fitz could hear the amazement in his voice. He looked back to the Doctor for confirmation.
"Yes, well, I've grown up a bit, worked out that people can come with me and still have their own lives too." The Doctor fiddled with his fingers and then hurriedly started pouring tea.
"Part time adventuring." Fitz savoured the sound of that on his tongue.
The Doctor peered out cautiously from underneath his floppy hair. "Just try it out, maybe. See how you like the new me!"
If felt like the cold hand around Fitz's heart unclenched slightly. He took a deep breath and found himself nodding cautiously. Part time adventuring he could handle. A cautious sense of joy seized Fitz. It wasn't his Doctor who had returned, but it was a Doctor, a Doctor who might have recaptured some of things the grim-faced Warrior had lost. He caught Clara's grinning expression and smiled back at her.
It was definitely worth a try.
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