and opposition of the stars

by lurking_latinist [Reviews - 0]

  • All Ages
  • None
  • Romance, Vignette

Author's Notes:
Title from Andrew Marvell, "The Definition of Love". Originally posted on AO3.

I. The Dream Wife

He watches Ian and Barbara and wonders what it would be like. To have someone looking out for you like that, someone who lit up when you came in, someone who was home to you wherever you went. An equal and opposite. (Would Ian believe him if he said he’d met Newton? Must try it and see…)

It’s after Cameca—dear woman, deserves more than he can give her—that he starts having the dreams. They’re not about her, exactly; but they remind him of that absurdly fateful drink of chocolate, bitter going down but warm inside you afterwards. They’re lovely dreams, really. But they unsettle him somehow.

There’s someone with him, in the dreams. She doesn’t have a face or a body or a voice, but he’s aware of her; and she doesn’t have a name, but with the unanswerable logic of dreams he knows to call her “she,” as if he’s always known. As if she’s always known him.

In the dreams, he feels loved and cared for. He feels like he’s the center of her world, and she’s the center of his. A problem in multi-dimensional geometry. Psychology would suggest it’s a return-to-the-loom dream, and probably that it represents his fundamentally juvenile outlook. But it’s not like that at all. She doesn’t keep him stifled. Quite the opposite—when he dreams of her, he feels he could take her hand and run forever.

II. Housekeeping

He’s always finding bits of things about the place. Just little things, as simple as a bent hairpin, when he’s sure Polly has been using nothing but elastics, and he drops it in his pocket and has it just when he needs to pick a lock. Or a bootlace, when his is broken, and he’s thinking he’ll have to traipse to the shoe cupboard. Sometimes a little bit of the local currency—sometimes before he even knows where it is they’ve landed. It’s as if someone’s watching out for him.

They’re quite a cozy little bunch in here, he thinks, as Jamie and Victoria argue playfully about who made the more impressive discovery on their last visit, trooping into the TARDIS kitchen. And it’s so nice to get home. Perhaps it’s just the comfort of knowing they’re safe for a while, but he can’t help but think that his little family somehow feels more complete when they’re in here.

“Tea,” he says, rubbing his hands. He turns to the device that the old food machine has become.

“Shall I be mother?” says Victoria dutifully. He’s taken aback—does she feel there’s someone missing from their dynamic? Is he not doing enough to care for her?—until the translation circuit kicks in and he realizes she’s simply offering to pour the tea.

He turns from the machine to the table and presents a tray with a flourish. Three delicate white cups are already full of steaming tea. “No need, Victoria, my dear,” he says, “I think the TARDIS has taken care of it.”

He knows where he is now, in those recurring dreams. He’s in the TARDIS, his own dear TARDIS. He just doesn’t know whom they’re about.

III. A Workplace Romance

He knows now, and he could almost find it in his hearts to wish he didn’t, because he only realized when he stopped dreaming.

At first he thought the sense of isolation in his mind was merely the bleak loneliness of exile. And it is, it definitely is that. But there’s something else; when he sits down in his new lab to miss his friends, it’s as if he can’t even miss them properly, can’t process the sense of loss, without—he doesn’t know what.

And the dreams have stopped. Oh, he still dreams; works himself to exhaustion and then curls up on an army-issue cot to be chased by monsters of the mind. But the dreams aren’t coming any more.

Finally he works it out. He isn’t a TARDIS pilot any more, and it was her, it was always her. It’s not just his punishment; they were both sentenced, both grounded, and being cut off from each other is the last refinement of cruelty to both of them.

And he loves her back, of course. He’s always loved her back.

Which just means it’s his turn to tell her.

He’d been close to giving up his hope of fixing her, but he has a new goal now: not getting her to take off, not yet, just talking to her again. Or whatever you want to call what they had.

(He enjoys calling her “her” now, enjoys being a little too hands-on with the console, insisting that the Brigadier respect her feelings. He doesn’t know if her feelings even work like that—he hopes he can find out someday—but the man thinks he’s a raving eccentric anyway, and making him acknowledge that the TARDIS is special helps the Doctor feel that his work isn’t futile.)

Liz looks a bit disapproving whenever she catches him elbow-deep in the console workings. She thinks he’s just trying to get away from them again. Which, yes, isn’t entirely false, but what Liz doesn’t know is that the TARDIS is so much more than just his getaway, more than a vehicle that he likes to personify. Bessie is a personified vehicle. The TARDIS is—everything.

It’s been a quiet week on the alien invasion front and he’s spent most of it with her. He’s spent UNIT’s money on things for her, circuits and devices that shine as bright as jewels. He can’t tell if they’re helping.

It’s late night, long past the time when everyone else has gone home except for a couple of sentries. They’re alone in the lab, the Doctor and the TARDIS, but he’s still working. Tea and sugar have been substituting for sleep for… he doesn’t like to think how long, even by his own standards, never mind the human schedules he occasionally tries to adhere to. His eyes feel heavy and dry as he forces them to focus on the hatch below the console, pushing himself through just one more wiring test.

No result. He can’t make it anything more than machinery.

Sitting on the floor below the console, he lets himself slump forward, leaning his head on her surface. He doesn’t even have the energy to take his hands out of the access hatch. What’s the point? He falls asleep like that, as close to her as he can get.

And he dreams again.

What she says to him has nothing to do with words. But what he echoes back to her is this: I love you, I have loved you, I will love you. Wait for me. We’re going to run.