Thanks go out to diapadme and jannness for reading through this when it was fresh out of my mind aka - was probably so brimmed full of spelling and grammar mistakes you could barely see straight. So glad I can always count on you! electrictoes is the one that fine tunes it all and, girl, don't stop the interjections - they make my day! (and my story ;) )! Brit-picking FTW ;)
Right, so, this story is from Ten²'s point of view because, seriously, he was SO left behind in the final. No one REALLY cared about him - didn't even say goodbye to him properly sniffles
Long Distance Losing
I let somebody get under my skin,
Long distance losing is all that Ive seen
Being a Time Lord was always demanding and more often than not confusing business but the Doctor had to admit this time he had outdone himself - more or less quite literally.
Imagine having the knowledge of lifetimes and universes in your head, knowing what to do with it, how it all worked and still knowing it wasn't really yours because you did not really do any of it. This was different from changing into a new body.
In the beginning, it had felt like old times. Donna had been Donna. Blunt, loud and sceptical in a way only Donna could be and still, she had accepted him. Had accepted the whole process as another one of his weird Time Lord quirks. He had babbled, she had listened and they had prepared to save the world. Of course he had known he was not alone. He had known that he would come face to face with himself the moment he stepped out of the TARDIS. What he had not really expected, had not been able to imagine, was that the moment he met his brown-clad self, he would be forgotten. He knew he was 'only' a replica of something already in existence but that did not mean he didn't feel. He felt like the Doctor, knew that he was the Doctor, no matter how many hearts or regenerations he possessed. So he had imagined that meeting his other self would run along the lines of meeting former versions of himself. He had done that, it had worked - well, mostly.
It hadn't been like that. Once Donna was reunited with 'her' Doctor, he had more or less been forgotten she had even doubted him, asked him to wait for the Doctor before making a horrible mistake.
In that moment, hurt, confusion and anger had burned through him. How could she doubt him? After he had shown her the wonders of the universe, had proven himself on so many occasions, just like she had. His response had been short, cold, his actions following even more so but he was the Doctor, he knew how to fight wars and how to win them.
Now the Doctor was standing in the TARDIS by himself. Rose was saying goodbye to Jack and he felt bad. He never had got around to telling her about Jack. He could only imagine how confused she must be. He smiled when he saw her embracing their old friend fondly, smacking her lips to his in the short way they had always done it and he laughed. After Rose, Jack turned to Donna, this time embracing her all by himself and Donna couldn't suppress the smug smile on her face. When he heard the TARDIS door open, he turned. The Doctor, his other self, was holding it open for Sarah-Jane and she was stepping through. With a start, he realised that she would be going now, had already said her goodbyes and had bypassed him, not even spared him a glance.
He was confused, almost made to go after her until he saw Martha, just letting go of Donna, follow Jack who was nearly at the door himself.
The Doctor felt like stone. Coldness seeped through him. He realised now that, in their eyes, he was not the Doctor, wasn't the amazing creature they had apparently come to love and cherish. He was 'The Clone', unreal, abnormal in a way even these humans, who had come to accept so much in such a short time, weren't able to really comprehend. He was surprised by how much it hurt. He had never thought this sort of rejection would make a person feel so ... vulnerable. He had done this before, many a times.
Was that how Rose had felt when he had sent her off in the TARDIS, away from him when the Daleks invaded the Game Station?
The Doctor felt the coldness give away to a new emotion. He felt anger - a feeling he was familiar with but never like this. He had never really been this angry at a person he was this close to. He was angry at Rose and he knew he had no real reason but at the same time, he was absolutely sure that it did not matter whether he was angry at her or not because she wouldn't care. He was not the man she loved. Or had loved all those years ago. That man was wearing a brown, smart suit, standing outside the TARDIS saying goodbye to people he had become friends with over the years, people that mattered to him, meant more to him than he had ever believed possible. There was so little that really matter any more. These people, 'that bloke's friends', they mattered. Rose mattered. He still felt the utter amazement and wonder vibrating through him that she had been able to find a way back, that she had tried for years.
Out of nowhere, he felt a hand on his shoulder.
He laughed, he actually laughed. The laugh was short, sounded forced and bitter, but he could not suppress it. He laughed at himself and at this utterly ridiculous and screwed situation. But the bitterness quickly dissolved when the hand on his shoulder tightened, forcing him to turn around and, when he did he was met by the concerned gaze of Rose Tyler. There he went again, doubting her. For a long moment he gazed at her, trying to gauge what was going in inside her when she looked at him. It was impossible to tell. She was concerned, that much was obvious and at this moment it was more than enough for him.
"Course I'm alright, what do you think?" He said, louder than he had meant to, the familiar grin spreading across his features and he was relieved to see her grin back. Quickly, he snatched her hand still resting on his shoulders.
"Been an amazing day, really, all things considered. Daleks poofed into nothingness, earth ZAP back in place - what more could you wish for?!" His grin was even wider now, feeling a little more forced, when he squeezed her hand. He was surprised to find her not responding but withdrawing her hand. She seemed uncertain and withdrew her hand.
"Just checkin'", she nearly mumbled, avoiding his gaze and turning away. The Doctor bit his lip and looked up, met with the silent look of the other Tyler on board. Jackie's face, too, was mostly impassive though she seemed a little concerned and because he did not know what else to do, he grinned at her. The slight roll of the eyes and shake of the head that followed did not make him feel any better.
"Right", he said silently, more to himself. "better get used to this."
He pushed himself off the pillar he had been leaning against. His hands in his pockets, he neared the console, feeling surprisingly out of place, like an intruder, on his own ship. But this isn't your ship. It's his. he heard the little voice in his head say and he knew it was right.
When he heard the oh-so-familiar creak of the TARDIS' doors, he knew he had come back. Had nearly felt everyone's attention focus on that one person, his included. The person now walking towards the TARDIS console was the owner and friend of this ship, not he himself. While the other Doctor passed Jackie and joined the others at the screen, he stepped forward, let his hand trace the familiar pattern of what felt like his ship in so many ways.
"Time for one more trip. Dårlig Ulv Stranden."
This sentence surely brought the Doctor full attention to the happenings around him. Dårlig Ulv Stranden? He looked at his mirror-image sharply. Surely he wasn't ... and then the Doctor realised. Realised because he knew the way this man thought, knew what he would do, what he had in mind and it made so much sense. If he hadn't been so wrapped up in his own confused thoughts, he would have realised all along where this was heading.
And it had to be done. There couldn't be two Time Lords around. Even if he probably wouldn't be considered a real Time Lord, still. He and him, him and he, they were the same in too many ways.
He stepped away from the TARDIS with everyone else, saw Rose's confused eyes on his other self but he ignored her, setting coordinates and with a sharp smack on one of the leavers, set the TARDIS into action.
Donna was surprisingly quiet, too. Surely because she understood now, too, what had to be done.
So he was being dropped off, left stranded in a different universe on his own.
The Doctor quickly pushed down whichever emotion was trying to overwhelm him. This was not the time nor the place.
"Doctor?" He looked up. Whether out of habit or because the voice did not sound female in his ears which left only one person to call for him. A familiar face in a brown suit was standing before him, face impassive like his own, eyes calculating.
"Yes?" He regarded himself rather coldly, letting his eyes travel once from the tip of his own head down to his -once-white converse. "Have to say, seeing it like this, I have to admit the blue suit isn't much of a -"
"Actually, I have to talk to you." It took him a moment to realise that for one thing, he had been interrupted, by himself no less and secondly, he had not been speaking English. Gallifreyan. The only language the TARDIS did not translate - well, actually it was more like she simply didn't translate it when he asked her not to which his other self must have done so they could speak in private. I should have thought of that, first, he thought a little miffed.
"Ah, right. Talking, yeah. Getting rid of me's more like it, eh?" Funny how the light-hearted attempt did not work on himself.
"What do you expect me to do? Keep you around? Pretend we're twins? One who prefers blue, one preferring brown, that's how you keep us apart?" came the snapped reply.
"Well, no, obviously not", answered the Doctor, more serious now. "Not to mention I do not prefer blue."
"I know that. And, actually, that is exactly the reason I have to do it, why I have to leave you. Let's not even start to imagine what could happen if things stayed like this, don't you see it? Really, I can be thick sometimes." the Doctor in the brown suit raised an eyebrow and regarded him with a rather sceptical expression. "You sure everything went right up there?"
"Oh listen to yourself speak as if you're the only smart one aboard."
"Well, technically I am listening to myself speak but that's beside the point here, really."
"Of course I get it ... things could end up in a horrible mess, I know that. What I'm wondering about is what you expect me to do while I'm there. So I might only have one lifetime. Still, 50-odd years at least, that's how much I got and it can get boring, as you might be able to envision." A shadow seemed to fly over his counterpart's features, just for a second, but he caught himself quickly, jumping back into their conversation.
"Well, see that is exactly why I'm here. I meant to give you this." The Doctor looked down at his opposite's hand. On its open palm lay a crystal, glowing in a warm green, pulsing with a familiarity and love he had already thought lost. When the other Doctor started to speak again, he looked up in his face. "For you and ..." he swallowed, it seemed to pain him to say it. "Your companion. She will love this new TARDIS." Both Doctors stared at one another for a time, the one clad in blue sensing that there was more to this piece of advice than what was obvious but unable to grasp it just yet.
"Surely you're smart enough to know what to do with this ... well, at least you should be, anyway."
The Doctor smirked, for the first time since he had realised where they were heading and way truly feeling great. "Oh this is brilliant! Thank you!" He beamed at his other self who, for a changed, grinned back before saying:
"Sure it's brilliant, my idea after all."
It was weird, being back on this beach, having to do the say goodbye again. She would have a good life, living in the TARDIS together with the Doctor, her Doctor, as much as it pained him to think about it. But that was him, he said goodbye to her, it had always been like that. He wasn't sure how much longer Donna was going to be around. Surely the reality of being a human-Time Lord meta-crisis would soon catch up on her and he could only see one way to keep her from falling apart completely. He would miss her fiercely. It had always been so wonderful with her and now, that he understood her even better than before, it pained him even more.
"I was pregnant, do you remember? Had a baby boy. Do you remember?" Jackie's words made him turn around. Right, she had been, Rose had told him so. Granted, his thoughts had been on something else back then but now he remembered it again. Unsure how to reply, he said the first thing that came to his mind. "What did you call him?"
He wasn't sure how much he would see of the new Tyler family without Rose around, didn't even know if they would want him. But asking the name was always a safe territory.
"Doctor!" OK, maybe not so safe. He actually felt a little taken aback by this. Not he did not like his chosen name any more - he had chosen it himself after all ... but that Jackie Tyler held him by such high standards? It did make one feel appreciated, he realised. Not to mention, Jackie was telling him about her boy, not ... well, him. The fact that the boy was blessed with a somewhat more normal name in the end only stung a little.
What followed his little interlude with Jackie first threw him but only seconds later, made him realise something else, made him understand the short look of sorrow and despair in his other self's eyes. He meant to leave her here, with him.
Oh and of course he would, that was how they thought, how they felt. They would both sacrifice themselves in a heartbeat to give her, their Rose, a better life. But how could he believe Rose would have a better life with him? He was not the original and it had already become painfully obvious that no one really cared about him, the faint copy of him, The great Doctor and his TARDIS. She would never be happy at his side. It seemed wrong to think this, because he still was the same man, he knew that, he felt it, but he knew as well that Rose did not think that way so why give her so much pain in sending her off with the 'abnormal' version?
He tried to catch the eyes of the man in brown but he was focused on Rose, telling her why he left her. The reason did not sound all that adequate to Doctor except that, yes, Rose had made him better, better in so many ways. But when he thought back, back to that moment on the Daleks' ship, fulfilling the prophecy, he had felt it again back then. The old, deep anger and hate seeping through, feelings he had not felt for a long time. Maybe his other self was right, maybe they weren't that alike. Maybe he needed Rose but did that give him the right to have her by his side? He would be able to manage on his own, he knew that. But then again, so would his other self.
The Doctor observed the scene between Rose and the man she obviously loved from a small distance. He simply did not know what to do. What could he do? He could not just accept this.
But what if he refused, shoved her back? This would surely result in him having an argument with himself over what the best course of action was and thereby making Rose feel even less appreciated that she already felt - not to mention he hated arguing with himself.
He watched Rose, trying to argue with his other self, trying to make it clear to him that he himself, in his blasted blue suit, was not her Doctor and he had to swallow, hard, to let it show how hearing this made him feel. He did understand her, really. He tried imagining a replica of Rose had been made and left with him ... it really wasn't the same. He still longed to hold her.
When Donna broke into the conversation, urging Rose to acknowledge him, he knew the time had come for him to make a decision. Acceptance or fight. His nature, his very being wanted to fight it, knew that he probably would never be able to make her happy, that he didn't deserve her for all the reasons his other self had listed just moments before. But then Rose turned around and she looked so broken, so damaged, again. He quickly looked behind her, finally catching his eyes. He was determined, absolutely and completely. Had already started closing himself off as to not drown in the pain this moment gave him. He knew this face too well not to recognise it, had used it too often.
His gaze travelled back to Rose. Could he do this to her, could he make her feel rejected by him too? But even if not? There was the question again, how he would ever be able to be for her what the man a few paces away had been. But suddenly, he thought he realised something.
He could never be to her what he was. How could he? Ever since he had ... started existing, the Doctor in the brown suit and the one in the blue suit had stopped being the same. Yes, they shared the same memories, had the same characteristics, but they were not the same any more. Now, they had different memories, different thoughts and feelings.
The brown-clad Doctor would leave this beach to travel through time and space for millennia to come. He could not do that, he knew that. He was too human for that. He only had one life to give, one life to make it all worthwhile. How to better do this than with Rose by his side?
Feeling more confident, he stepped forward, looked at Rose. He would try. He would try to make her life better, like she had done for him so many times. Maybe she would never love him, but he could live with that. They were great as friends. No, not great. Brilliant. Amazing. And they could be again, he just had to give her time, just like he had done back when he had changed from the huge nose and ears to looking like this.
He took a deep breath before he replied, choosing his words with more care than usually. "I look like him and I think like him... same memories, same thoughts, same everything. Except, I've only got one heart." He could see that she did not understand what that ultimately meant.
"I'm part Human. Specifically the aging part. I'll grow old and never regenerate. I've only got one life... Rose Tyler." He tried to make her feel it already, that he was ready for this change. This change in their relationship, the change they had never really dared to make until now. "I could spend it with you. If you want."
"You'll grow ... grow old at the same time as me?" Her voice sounded unbelieving, uncertain but maybe, maybe just a bit hopeful? He wanted to reach out to her, hold her in his arms but it did not seem like she was ready for that, not yet. So he stayed were he was and instead tried to show her with his words.
She looked at him now and it felt as if she really saw him now, not only a weird replica. She looked at his face, his body, stretched out her hand, felt him, felt his one heart and he felt the single organ speed up a little at her touch. The moment felt timeless, like a real connection and he was just about to reach out himself, feel her heart beat, feel them beat together. Two hearts again, beating together, but a noise from the TARDIS made them all look up and the connection was broken, Rose had vanished, her attention back on the other Doctor and leaving him feeling a little colder than before.
Time, she needs time, let her say goodbye. he tried to remind himself but it was difficult when for him, it felt like she was betraying him. No, betraying was too strong just ... it felt like she wasn't his any more even though during that one small moment just now, it had felt just like it used to feel. At least to him it had.
The Doctor was surprised when Rose called for him as well, wanted him to join in. He did not seem right, standing face to face with himself but not as 'the Doctor' any more, this time it felt more like two rivals no matter how much both of them wanted Rose to be happy.
When Rose asked her question, it was as if some sort of mutual understanding passed between them both. The Doctor knew that his leaving self would never say it. It would be too hard for himself, saying it out loud. It already hurt too much as it was, voicing what all of them knew to be true would only make it worse for both of them, Rose and him. He wanted to give her more reason to turn away from him and the TARDIS.
"I said: 'Rose Tyler ...'" Yes he had, and he had meant, willed for that sentence to be finished before the gap finally closed but in the end, he had lost his nerve, had not dared to say it and the gap had closed, leaving things unsaid and still out in the open. He remembered that just as vividly as Rose and the other Doctor did.
When his former self was urged to answer, to finish the sentence and the Doctor saw how much his opposite hurt already, he knew he would not say it. Not out loud for everyone to hear anyway. This man, he, gave him so much, gave him the chance of a life with Rose Tyler by his side without seeing her wither and die, he wouldn't inflict even more sadness.
"And you, Doctor? What was the end of that sentence?"
While turning his full attention on her, he was happy to see she was looking at him in that way again, the way that made him realise she saw him as a person of his own. It felt amazing. While he bowed over to her, gently touching her arm, he felt the old fear return. The feeling that had made him turn and run away so often before but he fought it down, he had made his decision, he would take this life, this chance at a human life - or, as human as was possible for him. And this was the first step. Telling the woman he loved just that.
"Rose..." he whispered, near her ear, "I love you, too."
He had done it, he had said it. After so many years of wondering how it would feel to finally say the words, to have her hear them, to see her react, the moment was finally there. He drew back, eyes never leaving her face. She stared; surely surprised he had taken the step.
When their gazes met, both overflowing with emotions, The Doctor felt everything else fade away, somewhere, in the back of his mind. What he saw was Rose, her eyes huge, shocked, staring. He hoped his declaration was enough to give her ... something. To make her feel somehow better and not make her mourn that her Doctor hadn't been able to say it even more.
Her eyes looked into his uncertainly at first, searching for something and he did not know what but then, it changed. Her gaze became harder, confident. She had obviously come to some sort of decision.
He waited. She straightened, brought up her arms, gripped his suit jacket. The Doctor only had time to quickly close his eyes when he finally understood what she was about to do. She was about to kiss him - finally.
When they lips met, crashed really, the Doctor tried with all his might to keep up with the longing and desperation, passion, she gave into this kiss. It felt like she had meant to do this for a very long time. His amazing Rose. He grinned a little into the kiss and felt her mouth turn up as well and with a quite sudden burst of passion, he brought his arms around her, crashed her to him, opened his mouth wider, kissed her deeper, fell even more. Rose matched him with every ounce of wildness, her hand in his hair, holding him close, evading all the space left between them. If this was what it was going to be like...
Before the Doctor was fully able to register every feeling and thought running through him at this moment, it was over, once again the spell was broken by the TARDIS. Rose wrenched away from him, looking back, let go and ran and it hurt. It wasn't supposed to, he had promised himself he would give her space, give her time. She had kissed him, had taken action but maybe she hadn't realised herself that she wasn't ready yet, who knew.
The Doctor swallowed past the lump in his throat and silently walked up beside her. He would be there for her, help her. He had dealt with loss, he would deal with the fact that Donna hadn't said goodbye, hadn't even passed a look or wave in his direction. He could cope with that. Could cope with Jack leaving, Sarah-Jane, Martha. Yes he could, because now he had Rose; that was enough. He would help her heal, yes he would.
Gently, he slipped his hand into hers like she had done so often before. She was still staring at the point the TARDIS had vacated mere moments before but she gripped his hand tightly, holding on to him for dear live as she tried to cope with another loss.
The Doctor followed her gaze, bidding Donna farewell in his own way, wishing her a good life, wishing, for her sake, that she would find someone new to show her just how amazing she was.
He felt Rose's hand relax in his, knew she had said goodbye the best way she could as well. He looked at her and she looked back. For a long moment, everything was silent.
"Right, guess I'll have to show you 'bout the Zeppelins 'n stuff now, yeah?" He could see fresh tears in her eyes, nearly breaking through.
But she shook her head stubbornly and then regarded him with an air of business for a moment.
"Blue really doesn't fit you, you know. Why ever did you choose a blue suit?"
The Doctor looked at her, unsure how to respond. The tears were still there, pooling, nearly spilling over. There was another moment of silence, the ...
"I thought you never changed."
When she finally broke, his arms were around her, holding her upright while she clung to him, great, heaving sobs wrecking her body. He held her, lightly stroking her head and looking out at the horizon, his own emotions daring to overcome him.
They had a long way to go...