“And I Will No Other to Follow Me Where I’m Going”
That night, Fitz dreamed that the Doctor kissed him.
“Coffee,” Fitz muttered as he stumbled into the HQ’s kitchen, aiming directly by scent alone for the pot.
“You should go home,” the Doctor replied without looking up from the papers and data sheets and sticky notes scattered before him on the massive worktable. His elbows rested on the table, his hands were pushed back into his long, curly hair, and the frown between his brows was becoming a permanent set of lines. They were the only ones there; the other agents and soldiers and staff had all dispersed, gone to their duties for the day.
“Not leaving you,” Fitz answered as he poured himself a mug and leaned against the counter, the heat from the coffeepot pooling into the small of his back.
“We’re losing control of the Twenty-Second Era of Bounty and Hope on Cygnus Beta,” the Doctor briefed the crowd in this particular control room, exactly identical to every other control room scattered across time and space. Grey and sleek and, Fitz noted cynically, containing computer banks with blinking lights. Not even the sodding Time Lords can get away from it, he thought to himself as he slumped back in the uncomfortable chair closest to the main doors that somebody had pointed him into. That was the only thing that ever seemed to change at these things: wherever the nondescript chair and most out-of-the-way corner was to stash Fitz until the Doctor was ready to pluck him back into the field. Oh look, he knew they all thought to themselves every time he and the Doctor showed up, it’s the Doctor’s pet again. I wonder what tricks the Doctor will get him to perform this time? “Time is losing cohesion. The locals are experiencing time loops, missed time, visits from dead great-great-grandparents and children who haven’t been born yet, and parallel universal collapse.” He surveyed the clerks and technicians, soldiers and officers, who all looked back at him coolly, indifferently. “We have to do something.”
“There is nothing we can do,” Romana said from her seat across the strategy table; its top showed images captured from the planet in question. The Doctor had carefully not been looking at the Lady President throughout his report. “You know we don’t have the resources to contend with times and places that are already lost to us. We have to focus our strengths on where we can still win.”
Fitz slumped further into his seat. He and the Doctor had just come from the Twenty-Second Era of Bounty and Hope, not so bountiful or hopeful anymore. The people had been nice, for having a third eye in the middle of their scaled foreheads (Fitz freely admitted that he found that third eye kinda creepy, especially since it never blinked and they slept with it open). The people had been scared as their civilization collapsed around them for no apparent reason. There were too many pockets, eddies, collapses; too much for the Doctor to handle with his TARDIS by themselves.
There was always too much these days, Fitz thought, and he shoved his hands into the deep pockets of his leather jacket.
“We cannot leave these people like that,” the Doctor was saying when Fitz brought his attention back to the current situation. His voice was tight, vibrating like a tightrope, and Fitz decided to stare at the Lady President rather than at his friend. She sat bolt upright, small and dignified in her overly large chair (not quite pretentious enough to be called a throne), meeting the Doctor glare for glare.
“We must,” she said.
The Doctor turned on his heel, striding out of the control room, muttering only a “Come along, Fitz” as he passed his friend.
Fitz glanced back again as he stood up, and Romana had turned her glare on him instead.
Fitz smoked a cigarette. It annoyed the technicians and soldiers and spies maneuvering about the room around him, which was one good reason to do it, and it added a bit of grimy color and dirt to the sleek grey anonymity of the monitoring room, which was a more excellent reason to do it. Fitz hated arriving at the various Time Lord headquarters, hated how spotless and cool and perfect they were when he had just come from a world or a space station or an era at the center of the fighting.
So Fitz stood deliberately in the middle of the monitoring room and smoked a cigarette.
Technicians moved about silently, tapping commands into the computers, carrying data sheets to write reports, creating complex holographic models of whatever Time was doing in whatever sector of space they looked after. Some of them briefed the soldiers who would be sent out into those sectors. The Doctor was arguing with a couple of them, somewhere behind Fitz, and his low-but-frustrated voice was as off-kilter, as out-of-place, as Fitz’s wafting cig smoke.
Eventually the Doctor won or lost his argument, Fitz didn’t know which, and joined him in the center of the room. There wasn’t anything for Fitz to do, or even watch really, because he didn’t understand all those 3D models and the Time Lords always ignored him when he showed up. He just stood in these monitoring rooms, in the way, to be annoying. It was the principle of the thing.
The Doctor stood next to him, bottle-green velvet shoulder brushing against Fitz’s black leather arm, and stared hard at nothing, frown creasing his brow. Fitz nudged him, dropping the fag butt to the floor and digging at it with his shoe to make sure it went out. “We ready to go?” he asked.
For a moment, the Doctor acted like he hadn’t heard. Then he turned his head and looked at Fitz and said, “How long have you been wearing that coat?”
Fitz blinked. “Um. A while,” he said. “Why?”
“It suits you,” the Doctor muttered. He pivoted around, the tails of his own coat flying out behind him. “We’re finished here.”
Fitz made it a point to smile at the technicians and soldiers and spies as he left.
That night, Fitz dreamed that the Doctor kissed him.
“Food,” Fitz sighed as he stumbled into the TARDIS kitchen. The Doctor had cooked; eggs and kippers and tomatoes and toast and whatever else seemed appropriate for a good old-fashioned English breakfast. Fitz had never had a good old-fashioned English breakfast in his life but he’d read about them in books. Right now, judging by the smell, he heartily approved.
“You should go home,” the Doctor remarked, standing next to the stove as he stirred sugar into his tea.
“Not leaving you,” Fitz said, not paying much attention, as he shoveled food onto his plate.
“Aim for their eyepieces!” the Doctor yelled over the fire and screams and smoke and gunfire and metallic, jerky Dalek voices. “Aim for their eyepieces! Debilitate them, then take them out!”
“Gods,” the young man cowering next to Fitz whispered, clutching at a regular old mechanical gun. “Gods; I can’t even see a fucking thing, how can he expect us to aim at anything?”
“Just–make it count,” Fitz said, holding his own stupid mechanical gun. Somebody had shoved it into his hands, taking it from a dead woman twisted on the ground with long blonde hair spread out around her head. He’d held lots of different weapons in his hands in the past few months–past couple years, however long this had been going on–some more obviously destructive than others; and he still wasn’t comfortable with it, still didn’t know how to hold the things so that they looked natural in his hands. Still couldn’t think of himself as a soldier, or the Doctor. They were just travelers, out to find adventure and right some wrongs and maybe get themselves a couple alien princesses.
“Make every shot count,” Fitz said, voice low under the fire and screams and shouts and smoke and metallic, jerky Dalek voices ordering that they surrender and telling them that resistance was futile. “We don’t have much ammunition left.”
He was just a traveler, caught up in somebody else’s war.
“Hang about,” Fitz had asked once, very early on when this whole thing started and he suddenly found himself on Gallifrey again, warily shaking Romana’s hand. “Didn’t you already destroy your planet once?”
“Time,” the Doctor had answered, simply. “You of all my companions, Fitz, should know how fickle and unpredictable Time is. I have destroyed Gallifrey, Gallifrey is destroyed, I will destroy her again. Actions like that have consequences that reverberate backwards, forwards, sideways and upside down.”
He had frowned then, rubbed at his forehead, distracted. “And right now, Time is angry.”
“No,” the Doctor said. He said the single syllable very carefully, very softly, as he surveyed the destruction surrounding them. Fitz hung back behind him, staring down at his feet, hunched, hands shoved deep into the pockets of his black leather jacket.
“No,” he repeated as he pivoted in a complete circle, careful not to step on any outstretched limbs, any splattered remains or bits of hard, plasticky casing. It was cold. It was starting to rain.
He stopped when he faced Fitz, and Fitz looked up unwillingly to meet his gaze.
The frown was marked out permanently between his brows, and his velvet was splashed with mud and blood and rain.
“No,” the Doctor said, staring right at Fitz.
That night, Fitz dreamed that the Doctor kissed him.
“Tea?” Fitz asked hopefully as he stumbled into the makeshift kitchen the refugees had set up in this abandoned factory. He saw the kettle on the little portable device that the refugees insisted was a stove but that Fitz privately thought looked like a mushroom Lewis Carroll might have eaten. He almost tripped over his own feet as he made a rush for the kettle.
“You should go home,” the Doctor said, cross-legged on the floor and doing nothing.
Fitz took a pinch of sugar–just a pinch, he told himself guiltily, and remembered creative recipes during rationing–to stir into his tea before sitting down next to the Doctor, leaning against the cold brick wall and letting his long legs stretch out before him. “Not leaving you,” he said, and took a sip.
“Keep an eye on him,” Romana’s voice slid around Fitz the way her hand slid around his wrist, inhumanly cold, strong despite its slenderness. Whenever he met this woman, whenever he looked directly into her eyes, he wondered what the hell the Doctor had ever seen in her.
“I always keep an eye on him,” Fitz said, not bothering to dither, ask who she meant, what she was talking about. The base was freezing, the power had gone out in this damned corridor again, and he wanted to go back to his temporary quarters and take a nap. He tried to slip out of her grasp. “Madam President,” he added as an afterthought.
“He’s getting worse,” she said. She had very blue eyes, like the Doctor, this time around, and she refused to let go of his arm. Her skin wasn’t even warming up, pressed against his. The Doctor’s never did either, always just stayed cold, cold, cold. “More wild, more dangerous, more intractable.”
“He hates this,” Fitz said. He looked her in the eye, finally, stared right down his nose at her and glared at her in the dim red emergency lighting. “We go out there and on a thousand million different worlds Time is acting like a disease, and Daleks are screaming their way through one genocidal annihilation after another, and you fucking Time Lords and your sodding allies are tinkering more and more, and Time is angry.”
Fitz dragged his arm out of her grip, felt red rawness where her nails scraped along his too-warm human skin. “Can’t you hear Her screaming, Romana?” he asked the small, dignified woman standing in front of him. “I’m just a poxy human and I hear Her, sometimes, screaming at the back of my head.”
“We have to stop them,” Romana said, but she was the one who broke eye contact first, and even that, Fitz couldn’t even take that as a moral triumph because he was just tired, and scared, and dying for a cigarette. “Once and for all.”
“This stupid war is going to kill us all,” Fitz whispered.
“Keep an eye on him,” Romana repeated, and she walked away.
Trix had gotten out early. She had seen what was coming, or enough of it, to know that there was no way in hell she could handle it so she’d packed her things and left. She’d tried to get Fitz to go with her–she’d even said “Please,” which Fitz had found pretty staggering at the time–but he had simply hugged her, and kissed her, and watched her literally drive off into a California sunset while the Doctor hid in the TARDIS.
He’d leant against the police box exterior for a long time after that, hunched into his leather jacket with its deep pockets and smoking. Eventually the Doctor had opened the other door and joined him, even taking a drag on his cig, before telling him that they had to get back to base and find out what Romana wanted them to do next.
“Why didn’t you go with her?” the Doctor had asked, just as Fitz had been about to step into the TARDIS. The Doctor’s arm had stretched across the open doorway, barring the way for Fitz, but he didn’t look at his friend. A final shaft of red-gold light had hit his curls but missed his downturned face, leaving it in darkness. “Why didn’t you get out while you had the chance?”
“Because you didn’t,” Fitz had said. He shivered, even though the California air was warm and dry, without a hint of the war going on out there in the universe, underneath it all while this Earth turned on its axis, calm and unaware. “You made your choice, Doctor, I made mine.”
The Doctor had looked up then, and his blue eyes were sad. “Thank you,” he said. “I wish you hadn’t.”
Fitz had shrugged one shoulder, smiled a lop-sided smile. “Me too,” he said. “You’re a terrible influence, Doc.”
Fitz was there the night the Doctor snapped. Fitz had been drinking steadily–it’d been another hellish day, not really worse than any other hellish day he and the Doctor had gone through for the past few months (years?), but this day there had been alcohol; and Fitz, as he told everyone whether they asked or not, was weak.
Fitz was the only one there the night the Doctor snapped. They were on another planet where Time had been wrecked, and a couple other Time Lords were with them for this jaunt because they wanted to study the effects of this particular screwed-up pocket of Time. Wanted to see if they could use it as a weapon. When the Doctor told him about the way the Time Lords used to be, how they used to run their civilization–and such conversations were rare and usually required the Doctor getting a hold of whatever alcohol actually had an effect on Gallifreyans–Fitz always had to control the urge to laugh in disbelief.
Fitz was drunk and unsteady and searching for a place to have a piss in peace before passing out on whatever convenient floor presented itself the night the Doctor snapped. Everyone else–the remnants of the local city’s population, the other Time Lords–they were all out doing their thing. Fighting, or working, or partying, however they felt like responding to the end of the world. And the Doctor paced the office building the Time Lords had taken over as their local base of operations, paced one of the larger conference rooms, danced and skipped on the table and threw himself around the chairs and babbled to himself.
“Zagreus waits inside your head and eats you when you’re sleeping,” he nodded to himself and dissolved into a laugh. “But Time, Time can create, and She can destroy, ashes to ashes and dust to dust, and She is angry.” He curled up into one of the big, comfortable chairs and started chanting off names, a long list that Fitz finally recognized as people who had died in this war, people he and the Doctor had met over the past few years (centuries?).
“Stop it,” Fitz said. He’d been frozen in the doorway, watching the Doctor prance and shout in the darkened conference room, and only after the list started did he snap out of it. He strode into the room, around the table, up to the Doctor. He grabbed the Doctor, started shaking him, trying to get a good grip on the slippery velvet, but his hands were loose, uncooperative, drunk.
“O mothers of the world,” the Doctor said, looking up at Fitz with clear, sad blue eyes, “your waste of work.” He grabbed Fitz’s shoulders, pulling Fitz down closer, closer. “Can’t you feel it? Can’t you feel Her? She’s screaming in my head, demanding that I do something to save Her, that I work for Her as I promised or She will give me over to Her sister.”
“Stop it,” Fitz said and pulled his right hand back to slap the Doctor. Lightly, he told himself. Lightly.
But as his hand almost made contact with the Doctor’s skin, the Doctor’s hand grabbed his arm, halting the arc, breaking up Fitz’s follow-through. And then the Doctor was fighting him, fighting him, punching and pulling and scraping and kicking, and Fitz fought him off, tried to grab and still his hands as if he were a cat refusing to take a pill. Somehow they ended up on the floor at a crazy angle not-parallel to the conference room table, the Doctor on top of Fitz and Fitz wrapping his legs around the Doctor’s, his arm’s around the Doctor’s arms and waist, while the Doctor sobbed.
“Oh god,” Fitz said, abruptly sober and frightened and sick and, scarily, grief-stricken. “Oh god, oh god, oh god.”
He held a pile of sobbing Doctor in a silent, darkened conference room and wished he hadn’t already drunk all the alcohol.
That night, Fitz dreamed that the Doctor kissed him.
“Water,” Fitz whispered, trying to catch the attention of a passing nurse, but he couldn’t even raise his hand he was so bloody drained.
There were no scars at least, he thought to himself. Time Lord surgery was just that good. And Time wounds didn’t really leave physical scars anyway.
“Water,” he tried to make his voice louder but it wouldn’t cooperate, wouldn’t function right.
But then the Doctor was lifting him up, holding a small plastic cup to his chapped lips, his other arm wrapped around Fitz’s shoulders. “I need to take you home,” he said. Fitz didn’t want to look at him, it hurt to look at him, but he didn’t have anywhere else to look. “Please, Fitz. Let me take you home.”
“I’m not leaving you,” Fitz whispered, voice ragged.
Fitz hated looking at the sky. It was jagged and shattered, unnatural. Ghosts had come to life on the planet below, and they were talking to other ghosts. The real people were all dead or in hiding.
Fitz wanted to go home, even though he wasn’t sure where or when that was anymore.
He strode up the street, his collar turned up and his hands in his coat pockets, not looking at anyone or anything. Buildings overlay buildings overlay different countrysides, and trying to sort out the afterimages and parallel universes fighting to coexist hurt his eyes and synapses. He’d met himself three times over all at once, Fitz Kreiner and Fitz Fortune and Father Kreiner, and it had been all the Doctor could do to get him to pry his hands off his face and uncurl from the floor.
But they were leaving now, and Fitz just had to collect the Doctor and they could go back to the TARDIS and leave this place. He just had to collect the Doctor.
The Doctor was talking to a tall, serious man in dark clothes, and Fitz frowned because he could have sworn he’d seen that bloke in the TARDIS one night, long ago, and if the TARDIS’ ghosts were escaping now, what could they do?
The Doctor turned around and saw him, and then the tall, serious man looked at Fitz too, and Fitz wanted to curl up on the ground again without, this time, knowing why.
“Don’t,” Fitz said. The Doctor tugged at his arm, and Fitz pulled back, dragged his heels, played tug-of-war with the Doctor and he was the rope and opponent, all rolled into one. “No, don’t, Doctor, don’t!” He ended on a scream, voice not his own, and it scared him, and She was yelling in the back of his head constantly these days.
“Come along, Fitz,” the Doctor said as calmly as if he weren’t fighting his friend every inch of the way across the TARDIS console room. The Doctor had redecorated, made it all alien and mushroomy and Lewis Carroll on crack, and Fitz privately hated it. “Please, Fitz, you must.”
“No.” Fitz stopped, threw all his strength into simply standing still, and the Doctor’s own momentum took him stumbling back a few paces, holding nothing but Fitz’s slippery black leather jacket, a pack of cigarettes and lighter in one deep pocket and a handkerchief and sonic screwdriver in the other.
The two men breathed deeply and stared at each other across the console room.
“Please, Fitz,” the Doctor pleaded, voice cracking around the edges, tightrope breaking. “I can’t take you with me. Not this time.”
“I know we’re near the end!” Fitz yelled. The Doctor took a single, tiny step back and averted his face but Fitz didn’t care. He didn’t care. “I know it, I can feel it too, and I know what you’re planning to do and I’m going with you!”
Tears slid down the Doctor’s face as he shook his head, and Fitz just wanted to keep screaming but he didn’t have anything more to say.
The Doctor walked back to him, still holding his jacket, and put a hand on Fitz’s cheek. His hand was shaking as he raised it, and Fitz could feel the tremors still running through the Doctor’s inhumanly-cold skin as he rested his palm against his friend’s face. “I can’t,” the Doctor said. “I can’t watch you die, Fitz.” He drew a shaky breath. “I shall do this alone, and you shall live.”
“I don’t want you to die alone,” Fitz said, his voice small. “Not with those stupid Time Lords, not with bloody Romana. You need me.”
“I need you to live,” the Doctor said, and he was no longer crying. He looked sure and strong and powerful, and he hadn’t looked like that in millennia. “I need to know that you are safe and home and alive.” He seemed to stand a little taller. “Nobody else dies,” he said.
Fitz turned around, hugged himself, ducked his head. Finally, he took a deep breath and faced the Doctor again. “Okay,” he said. “Okay. If that’s what you need, that’s what you’ll get.” He raised his chin, tried to feel confident as the Doctor. “Open the doors.”
The Doctor followed him out of the TARDIS. They were parked in the middle of a busy city pedestrian area, people crowded all around and ignoring them. It looked and smelled like Earth, maybe just a few decades after Fitz had left. The Doctor tried to hand Fitz his jacket back, but Fitz draped it over the Doctor’s shoulders. “Keep it,” he said, and he tried to offer the Doctor a lop-sided smile but dammit, his chin was quivering and this was stupid.
And then the Doctor was kissing him, kissing him for all he was worth, hands wrapped around his face and neck, tongue pushing desperately into his mouth, teeth clacking against each other and noses bruising into each other, and Fitz wrapped his arms around the Doctor and clung.
At last, the Doctor stepped back, and Fitz knelt down to pick up the leather jacket that had fallen off the Doctor’s shoulders. He wrapped it around his friend again, making it secure. And then he dropped a kiss on the Doctor’s forehead and pushed the Time Lord back into the TARDIS, closing the door behind him.
The TARDIS dematerialized. Fitz turned away, blindly, and stood in the middle of the passing crowds.
That night, Fitz dreamed that the Doctor kissed him.