Anyway, I couldn't sleep and I had to write something or go mad and never sleep ever again, so I come proffering this, my first Doctor Who fanfic.
Please be kind, or not. I can take it, and I really don't have a handle on this universe yet. It keeps getting away from me.
My friends: I'll be back in a week. Thank you for your patience.
There are a thousand cracks in the universe. A million. A billion. A billion billion. More than a human could ever count, even if that human had a hundred lifetimes.
If given the chance, do not peer through the cracks. Do not look, for fear of what you might see.
There is always the chance that the face that peers back at you, twisted and disfigured and wrong – the face that haunts the nightmares so terrible they don’t really have a name for them at all – the face with the smile that makes your heart pound and your soul shiver in your chest –
There is a chance that you might recognise that face.
For, of course, it is your own.
In this universe, his name is Will. He works in a call centre.
He eats the same sandwiches for lunch every day – cheese and pickle, perhaps one of the only eccentric chords his personality strikes – he gets the same bus to work – number 681 – and he has a tie for each day of the week – today is a Wednesday, so today’s tie is yellow.
Waiting at the bus stop, to go home and sit on his sofa and watch the football and pretend that he doesn’t hate every single thing about his life, he stands uncertainly next to the bench, too nervous to move closer to the girl with hair as a red as a poppy, and a dozen times more beautiful.
She half-perches on the bench, nose buried in a book, and the wind ruffles her shining hair, the way Will’s fingers long to.
She looks up and she smiles at him, long fingers brush shyly against a high cheekbone, talk to me, talk to me, you know you want to –
The words choke in his throat, the moment passes, the bus pulls up, not his, and the girl with the softest hair and the longest legs he’s ever seen walks out of his life forever.
His chest feels empty, in a way he can’t quite explain. If he thought about these things, he’d say he felt the pull of destiny when he looked into her hazelgreen eyes.
But he doesn’t, and he only thinks about her in the dead of night, when he occasionally wonders what if.
He remembers her, though. He remembers her until the day he dies.
The sky rains fire, here. The planet burns and the people with it, and they are at war with themselves.
He’s a battlefield surgeon, up to his arms in blood and guts and other things so much worse they don’t even bear thinking about –
His assistant works quietly beside him, ignoring the screams and the tearing of flesh, as they have all learned to do.
Her red curls are tied up neatly under her cap, and she anticipates his every move as he works on the poor soul on his table, the one he almost certainly can’t save.
They work through the night, the nurse passing him scalpels and her deft hands working around his. They do all they can for the warrior on the table, the one who fought and died for nothing.
When the dawn light comes, he knows there is nothing more he can do.
She’ll die, this soldier on the table. Her insides were on her outsides when they brought her in, and she’s too far gone to save now.
Her lightly strokes her cheek, runs his hands over her ruined hair – he can tell it was once beautiful, once a brilliant red, like the blood that streaks her face and neck.
She opens her eyes for the first time, right before she dies.
He looks into those eyes, deep and defiant and so alive, and he feels himself fall.
She breathes her last, and he thinks, Achilles and Penthesilea, the irony overwhelming him.
He turns away from her mangled body although his chest is ripping itself apart –
Behind him, her hand falls limply to the floor. Her blank eyes bore into his back, accusing. You love me, they say, honour me.
But he can’t. He has work to do. He can’t stop now. Not even because of her.
Beneath a green sky, the bride waits.
Today is her wedding day, the day that will cement the relations between the two clans, the day that will end centuries of bloodshed.
Today is the day she has to marry a man she does not love, but it is a small price to pay for the continued survival of her people.
She is making one of the greatest sacrifices a person can make, but she does not care. Her sacrifice will ensure her people have a future.
After all, any future is better than none at all.
She is alone in the field, where the black flowers grow. She is composing herself, before she throws her life away.
She has always been the feisty one, the rebellious one, but not today. It is do or die, and she is loyal to a fault. This may hurt her, but it is
pain willingly suffered.
He finds her there, the man with the dark hair and the pale skin and the eyes that shine feverbright.
The man she loves.
He grabs her wrist, she turns away, her glorious hair rippling in the breeze.
He presses a blistering kiss to her collarbone, and she shoves him back.
He falls to his knees and begs, and she forces her face to be cold and impassive.
If she gives herself away now, all is lost.
She lies to him, over and over again, tells him that she doesn’t love him, that she never did.
Come with me, he says, stubborn as always, refusing to believe that she does not love him.
He cannot imagine a universe in which she does not love him, in which he does not love her.
No, she says, and her voice is hard and would freeze ice.
She leaves him there, on his knees, in the field where the black flowers grow.
She walks away to marry the man she does not love, to save her people from utter destruction.
He sits in the field, rocks back and forth, tears streaming down his face.
He plucks a black flower and destroys it, ripping the petals and grinding the stalk into the ground.
He needed to destroy something beautiful, to crush something as he has been crushed.
He lies back and looks at the pale green sky, and dreams of all that he has lost.
It only makes it worse.
In a universe not unlike Earth, two people crouch in a burnt out camper van.
For all they know, they are the only people left alive in the whole world.
She is young, pretty, with filthy hair red beneath the dirt. She wears men’s clothes, stolen from a clothes’ line – they’re warmer – and huddles beneath a blanket, eyeing the man warily.
They found each other mere hours before, roaming, lost, beneath the sky that no longer has stars.
It’s only been a day, but they know the end has come.
The man with the angular face and the strange, wise eyes, stares back, but there is no malice in his gaze, no fear. Just loneliness, and a sadness that even now, at the end of world, when everyone should be sad, makes her heart break to look at.
As night falls deeper, and the temperature starts to drop – impossibly far, and they know they haven’t got long – she sends him an unspoken invitation: come to me.
He clambers clumsily across the floor, sits beside her, wraps his arms around her.
As their breath turns to fog and ice begins to form on their eyelashes, he leans into her ear and says don’t be afraid, I’m here.
It shouldn’t comfort her, here, now, at the end of all things, the end of all that she is, but it does, and she whispers back, I know. I’m here, too.
They grin wildly at each other, and their grins are fleeting but full of joy.
They die there together, frozen together forever, as the world dies with them, his lips pressed to the side of her forehead in an eternal kiss.
In this universe, he is the Doctor, and he is fire and death and light and life and he is always alone, and no companion will ever fill that hole in his chest that he feels each and every time he breathes.
He has a new face, and he crashed in the garden of a little girl, whose uniqueness shone for him, even among the humans he loves more than anything. Maybe even more than the Time Lords themselves.
He comes back and she is all grown up, and she questions him and she won’t take no for an answer and he feels himself fall and fall and fall and he doesn’t know that he’s falling all at once –
And he takes her with him, this defiant beauty, and they run across the universe together, and they fight and they cry and they laugh and she is so unutterably perfect, but she isn’t his –
So he wants what he can’t have, the way he always does, and even when she presses that mouth he longs for onto his own he still rejects her, because he can’t take her because she can never be his. None of them ever can, ever will.
But he’s beginning to realise that she’s chosen him, and in the end that’s all that matters, even though he knows that this will shatter his heart in his chest the way it always does.
But he sees her smile, and although he doesn’t believe in fate, sometimes that glittershining smile of hers makes him reconsider. If only for a second.
For seconds pass much too quickly and can last forever when you’re a time traveller, after all.
And now, so is she.
Perhaps there’s a future for the Lord of Time and the girl with the red hair, after all.