Everything seemed to be in sharp focus and yet as he tried to see the ramp in front of him, clinging to the railing to remain upright, it wasn’t his ship he was seeing.
It was her.
He’d been able to say goodbye to everyone else, not her. He’d never said goodbye to her. He’d run out of time the first time there was sand beneath her feet, metal beneath his, a universe apart and yet so close. The second time, the universe played another game. Sand beneath his feet, both of him, and her, there wasn’t really a choice was there?
Had there only been him and her, the words may have come and she may have joined him, been the someone that he needed to stop him.
He walked away without saying it, without looking back.
He was dying alone and she was the last person he’d seen. Maybe she’d dream about that New Years and recall the strange drunk man predicting what was to be the start of a brand new life for her. Maybe she’d dream and years from now realize that it was him. He hoped not, then she’d know he was gone, not for good but the man that was born hers, lived as hers, lost her and then lost himself.
She’d never know that she was the reason he’d changed. There hadn’t been enough time for lengthy discussion, she hadn’t seen what Martha had, what Donna had, the darkness that had crept inside when he wasn’t looking, when he was saving worlds, the universe, creation, time itself.
He lost her and she still managed to gain him. He couldn’t resent it and he hoped that the other him would forget to mention some of his darker moments without her.
She’d never know, she’d never know and he was glad. He wasn’t dying, he knew that instinctively. He’d live on for years and years but this him, his time was up and all that kept it alive were memories and two loving hearts a universe away.
That was his reward. He figured after everything this tenth life had thrown at him he finally deserved something, near the end.
She’d never know what he’d become in his final days. He’d not been tainted in her eyes as he had with Martha, Donna (though she’d not remember it now), Jack, Mickey, and Sarah Jane.
Her memories would be filled with running, laughter, danger and fun. He was under no illusions that he’d remained the hero. Her memories were also filled with levers she couldn’t grasp, words left unsaid and abandonment.
Her new memories would be filled with running, laughter, danger and fun. His were filled with levers she hadn’t been able to hold onto, words left unsaid, abandonment, regret, and yes, love.
Their hands would be entwined now as they walked down a domestic street or ran towards adventure.
He’d pause for a moment when he realize that I’m gone and grasp her hand tighter and run as I grasp the rail even tighter. Home.
“We might not make it home tonight.”
He looked up at the TARDIS, his vision clearing. He didn’t want to go. He didn’t want her to know what he’d become, he didn’t want to be who he’d become, but he was hers. He didn’t want to go. He wasn’t home, not until he regenerated. She was his home until he wasn’t him.
She looked up at him when he stopped dead in his tracks, smile vanishing and his eyes becoming sightless, just for a moment. The breeze ruffled his hair and he turned his face into the wind, letting it caress him eyes fluttering shut, a single tear running down his cheek. The man he’d called home, because he was him and the ship, the only TARDIS he’d technically been in were gone.
He looked down at her as she squeezed his hand, eyes questioning him, but she already knew. A watery smile appeared on her face, genuine, despite her lips trembling and her eyes tearing. She wasn’t from this Earth, this universe. It hadn’t been her home for a long time anyway. She hadn’t expected to be back. That man, whatever he looked like now, in his box, that was her home.
He was still here with her, she was still with him, and they walked quietly hand in hand.
Another adventure finished with a new face, a new TARDIS and a new friend and finally a calm moment; he smiled at his surroundings.
They all made it home.