The Observer of Your Footsteps
Disclaimer: Characters aren't mine. Suing hurts me deep inside.
Summary: Fitz Kreiner is attempting to adapt to life on Gallifrey. And there's a war going on. That's a bit inconvenient.
Spoilers for the End of Time, so be warned.
Notes: Many thanks to shordy, my awesome beta.
Fitz and The Doctor spend their first week on Gallifrey running away from people. Of course Fitz has approximated a week by The Doctor's pocket watch, and by running he means rapid strategic retreats around corners, through doorways and in one memorable instance inside of a statue that had no bloody business being hollow. The Doctor, it turns out, isn't exactly the Time Lords favourite person, and in his own words, there were just some situations that he'd really be better off not entangled in, for the good of all involved and quite a few who weren't.
In theory, Fitz knows that Gallifreyans have a lower body temperature than humans. In practice, it means that he keeps his jacket on him at all times and keeps an extra blanket on the bed. He also learns very quickly that no matter how ridiculous his London-raised brain finds it, the collar of his jacket should remain folded all the way up to cover his neck if he wants to avoid disapproving glares. The Doctor's cravat suddenly makes a lot more sense.
Romana is about as he remembers her, though she doesn't remember him at all. It's a little strange, and sometimes when she looks at him like she can't quite figure out why he's still alive he wants to scream at her that he'd fought beside her, that he'd gotten out before the planet burned, The Doctor with him. But he doesn't say any of these things because there's a difference between that Romana and this one. The determination, the authority are the same, but now there is a desperation and ferocity in her eyes born not from arrogance and the driving need to win, but compassion for the people who gave their trust to her to get them out of this alive. Plus, The Doctor's a bit enamored of her even if her own tolerance for him seems to hover somewhere around eccentric uncle.
Fitz meets all of The Doctor's friends and decides he needs to make his own if he wants to remain alive and sane. The Rani. Leela. Flavia. …Braxiatel.
"Fitz! This is my brother."
"Oh. Right. He talks about you all the time. That's a lie. Bloody hell, Doctor, you've got a brother?"
"Charming friends, as always, Theta."
Fitz feels only marginally better when The Doctor follows him instead of his brother when they both absolutely do not storm out of the room in opposite directions.
"I love your friends. Really love them. Please keep them away from me?"
The Doctor's hand lands on his arm. "I'm sorry for that, Fitz, but you could have been a bit more tactful."
"You could have told me you had a brother. I mean, how is that even possible? I thought you lot were born on looms or what have you."
"Right, and I'm just the idiot human. It's alright."
Fitz stops and turns to face The Doctor. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I'm not being very good about this, especially after I was the one who insisted I wasn't leaving you. I--"
He blinks, lifts a hand to rub his eyes, and stares. The Doctor follows his gaze and a massive grin breaks out across his face. "K9!"
"Is that--" Fitz begins, but The Doctor is already bounding down the hall to meet the approaching figure. Fitz sighs and follows. "A metal dog. Of course there's a metal dog."
They're given a set of rooms that seem overwhelmingly opulent to Fitz but at which The Doctor seems more than a little offended. There's only one bed, but it's big enough that sharing it isn't all that weird. Fitz wonders when sharing a bed of any size with another bloke got to be one of those things at which he doesn't even blink.
He's not thought about the need for mundane things like clean clothes and fresh bedding until he's down to his last pair of trousers and has to ask The Doctor what passes for laundry facilities on his planet. Turns out there's a slot in the wall into which one shoves one's dirty washing and another slot that it falls out of, clean, about five minutes later. Fitz decides not to question it. He's also got an image of tiny cartoon gnomes living in the walls who spent their days frantically washing clothes at hyper-speed, and it keeps him entertained as long as he doesn't actually think too hard about things living in the walls.
He's a bit surprised that the Time Lords don't have servants-- it seems the sort of thing that they would like. The Doctor laughs when he asks.
"It would ruin their image. Besides, the paperwork would be mountainous."
He then proceeds to deposit the armful of clean sheets he's carrying onto the bed beside Fitz and, with a cheery wave, wanders out. Fitz blinks, picks up the sheets, and places them on a chair in the corner, which is where they remain for the next ten days.
There is, it's true, an unreasonably large amount of paperwork and red tape in Time Lord society. Apparently The Doctor is relatively financially well-off, though after the amount of time he seems to spend working to get his accounts unfrozen Fitz isn't quite sure if it's even worth it. Turns out most of one's money goes to some sort of taxes. Land is inherited, food is free and everything else depends on one's social status. The paperwork related to The Doctor's taxes slowly starts to pile up on the back corner of his desk. Fitz has convinced the TARDIS to translate gallifreyan for him, so finally he bribes The Rani into explaining the taxation system to him. It takes five days, and by the end of the process Fitz is quite sure that he's going to die at the hands of The Rani if his own apparently developing alcoholism doesn't kill him first. Nonetheless, he takes himself and the stack of paper (he's still not quite sure why everything isn't written on some fancy data chips or whatever) off to the TARDIS and spends one long frustrating day doing The Doctor's bloody taxes for him so that they still have a place to sleep.
He comes back to their rooms and slams the stack of paper down in front of the Time Lord. "If my head explodes, I'm blaming you."
The Doctor looks honestly shocked. "I-- Fitz, you didn't have to do this. *How* did you do this? I... I was going to do these."
Fitz contemplates walking across the room to the sofa, but decides the carpeted floor is just as good. He lets himself sink down to sprawl out on the floor, head resting in his hands. "Would you have been able to do them, Doctor? Honestly? Or did you sleep through that class"
The Doctor makes a little noise as if he is about to object, but then falls silent for a long moment. "I skipped, actually. I'd always meant to learn, but while I was at the Academy they took care of it for all students, and after that Kos... er, and then I left. I didn't need to know any longer."
Fitz nods, head still in hands. "Shall I teach you about your own tax system, oh great and mighty Time Lord?"
The first time Romana acknowledges Fitz as more than The Doctor's slightly irritating pet, it's because of The Doctor. Of course. The chime on their door goes off and when he opens it it's to an armful of frantic Doctor as The Lady President shoves him at Fitz.
"Keep him out of the way. I have to try and fix this," she snaps, and the door closes again. Fitz blinks, but has enough mental capacity left to grab hold of The Doctor's wrist before he can activate the door controls.
"Hold up, hold up. What's going on?"
When The Doctor turns to him his eyes are bright. He's vibrating against Fitz's body, hair a mess and jacket hanging off of only one arm. "They've brought him back! New body, a fresh start. It's a brilliant idea-- I mean, it's horrible, but strategically it's wonderful and now he's back but his mind, it's so fragile, he's been in The Matrix for so long and he needs someone familiar, I can help him, I... I need to go, you don't understand."
"Who?" Fitz asks, picking out the one bit of information that had actually made sense in the flood of words.
Fitz gets a better grip on the squirming Time Lord, and searches back through his memory for someone named The Master. Nothing. "The Master... of what?" he asks tentatively.
The Doctor glares impatiently. "Just The Master. Definite article. He's... a friend. I need to go."
"Romana seemed to think you didn't."
"Romana is a very dear friend, just as you are. But in this case neither of you know what you're talking about and I *need* to go to him before his mind is permanently damaged. I can *help* him."
Fitz stares helplessly at The Doctor, then at the door. The Doctor takes advantage of his moment of indecision, breaking free easily and slamming his palm against the door controls. Nothing happens. He does it again, then resorts to pushing at the door as if he will be able to move it with brute force.
"She's locked it," he comes close to whimpering. He pushes past Fitz, diving into the mess on the desk. "Sonic screwdriver, sonic screwdriver..."
Fitz stands, watching silently, the weight of the sonic screwdriver in his pocket from where he'd picked it up while The Doctor fought with the door feeling more like a noose around his throat.
When Romana comes back a couple hours later The Doctor doesn't even speak to her, just brushes past on his way out at an undignified sprint. Fitz looks up from where he's slumped on the sofa. "Please tell me there was a very good reason that I've spent the last two hours of my life watching my best friend going bloody insane."
He prepares himself for the usual condescending response and is surprised when Romana actually steps into the room and lets the door close behind her. "The High Council held a vote this morning. I was opposed to the idea, but in the end I was outvoted."
And for the next half hour, Fitz learns about the Time Lord called The Master, and his tumultuous relationship with The Doctor. At the end of her story, Romana rises to her feet with the air of someone who has just realized that they have wasted far more time than they intended. "And therefore, if The Doctor and The Master were allowed to be in close contact when The Master was newly loomed there was too great a chance that one or both of them would link so deeply within the other's mind that they would never be able to completely separate."
Fitz decides he's stretched his luck with her enough for the day and doesn't ask how she's come to this conclusion. She leaves, and he spends a few more hours waiting for The Doctor before he goes to look for him.
"They're in the medical dome," Leela tells him as he walks past. He sighs.
"Am I that transparent?"
"Brilliant." He pauses. "Should I be going left or right up here?"
"Great. Thanks." He keeps walking, hands shoved deep into his pockets.
He finds The Doctor sitting at the bedside of an older man, head resting on his chest, fingers splayed on his face. The man's own fingers are combing through The Doctor's mop of hair, as they speak to each other, voices too low for Fitz to hear. Fitz stops far back enough that he isn't noticeable and watches them silently.
He stands there for a long time, fingers clenching around the screwdriver in his pocket. He can see the tenderness between them, the way they seem to fit together like they're a single person, or whatever that bloody saying is. He feels a little nauseous. Finally, he leaves. He doesn't see The Doctor for three days.
Eventually, they end up sleeping together. It's the next logical step, Fitz supposes. It doesn't take long for The Doctor to remember why The Master was his "sworn enemy" (his words, not Fitz's) and in actively avoiding the other Time Lord the Doctor spends even more time with the human.
Again, it's not as weird as Fitz expects. Sure, it's kind of... awkward, the first couple times, and The Doctor seems to think it gives him an open invitation to use Fitz as his own personal heater, but all around it's a pretty good state of affairs. And it's not like part of Fitz hasn't been expecting their relationship to get to this point for a long time, though he's got to admit he hadn't ever thought it would be The Doctor who initiated it. It's the first night The Doctor's actually slept after Romana starts sending him on official missions with his own team of soldiers and everything, and he's a little drunk (Fitz does *not* take advantage of him because he's also been drinking and thus they're on an equal playing field) and they share a bed and, well, it was going to happen eventually.
"I don't want to be here," The Doctor says, sitting on the edge of the bed in only his shirt, fingers clenched in front of him like he's scared of what his hands will do if set free.
Fitz doesn't say "Me, either", because he knows The Doctor and he knows that at the first sign of hesitation on his part he will find himself snug and safe and abandoned on Earth. He doesn't actually say anything at all, because everything that he runs through in his head sounds trite or ridiculous or like he's stolen it from a film. ...which, mostly, he has. He leans up on an elbow and reaches out, tugs until the Time Lord is laying down-- an awkward angle, sure, but at least he doesn't look ready to throw himself across the room and start bashing his head into the wall anymore. And then The Doctor turns, wriggling until he's right up in Fitz's personal bubble, cool hands against his chest, breath coming in quick little puffs against the skin of Fitz's collar bone. He stays like that for a long minute during which Fitz is fairly sure he doesn't breathe himself, then his lips are against Fitz's and Fitz figures he should probably respond somehow before The Doctor gets the wrong idea and starts doing that thing where he pretends he's not an emotionally crippled attention-seeker with either no self-esteem or the biggest ego in the universe, depending on the hour.
And when they actually get to the sex part it's... good, he supposes. It's kind of like with a girl, the same bits in different places and Fitz is really glad that his brain is apparently twelve years old. Really. Though he's willing to wager that he can talk about sex more freely than the Time Lords ever could, so he's just going to keep using them as his basis for comparison. Besides, the sex does get a lot better, and The Doctor's even more physically affectionate in public than he was before, though Fitz has a sneaking suspicion that that's done more to needle The Time Lords than anything.
He's pretty sure Romana has assumed that they've been sleeping together since day one. On the other hand the first time they run into The Master afterwards he looks like he wants to be sick. Fitz is simultaneously insulted and vindictively pleased. He sort of wants to reassure the other Time Lord that they haven't expressed their undying love or anything, but that would kind of be a lie, so he just keeps quiet while The Doctor and The Master play a lively game of 'I care less than you'.
Fitz races around the corner, jacket slung over one shoulder, coffee clutched to his chest. His breaths come hard, but as long as he's managed to get here in time it won't matter how much his chest hurts afterward. The Doctor is standing in front of him and he skids to a halt, blinking rapidly.
"You're..... not supposed to be there."
...The Doctor is standing in front of him, shaking with silent laughter. A burst of hope explodes inside of Fitz and he invades The Doctor's personal space to grab his pocket watch.
"It's... oh Christ. Thank you thank you thank you. We did it! The time loop's broken."
The Doctor nods. "Yes. It was recursive, there was nothing we could do. It was all up to you. And you were never in any danger, not really."
Fitz sags against the wall. "Stop. Laughing."
The Doctor holds up his hands. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry."
"I know. I do, I'm sorry."
"I've been stuck in a recursive time loop --and I should probably be worried that I know what that is-- with no one but Braxiatel and K9 for company. For *three months*."
The Doctor nods silently, lips pressed tightly together.
Fitz stares at him.
The Doctor shrugs helplessly, and starts laughing again.
"I don't love you anymore," Fitz informs him.
The Doctor pouts, though the effect is spoiled by the grin that keeps trying to break free. Fitz and his coffee stalk off down the corridor.
Fitz can tell that the war is not going well when he stops being 'that bloke who follows The Doctor around' and starts actually getting assignments of his own. They're nothing big, one can only trust a human with so much, after all, but they still exist. The first time it happens The Doctor looks like he's going to have some sort of attack, but he doesn't say a thing. Fitz doesn't really see how this is any more dangerous than just hanging about while The Doctor mucks about with time or kills Daleks or whatever. He's gotten used to coming back to Gallifrey to find tiny changes -- the lengths of the robes, the pattern of the carpet, even the shade of blue of The Doctor's TARDIS. On one memorable occasion, he's sure he sees a group of people in Faction Paradox masks, but by the time he points them out to The Doctor it's as if they'd never been there in the first place. The Doctor tells him it's best not to think too hard about the changes.
"We're dealing with millions of timelines, getting them all tangled up. Really, it's quite likely that neither of us are exactly who we were when this started."
Fitz is not at all comfortable with that notion.
And of course, the first time a mission that Fitz is part of gets buggered up, he's left the only one who can finish it, and of course he somehow runs into an earlier version of The Doctor, still traveling with Sam. A very small part of Fitz's brain is quite convinced that this timeline shouldn't exist anymore, but he tells it emphatically to shut up. He completes the mission, sort of, and has to convince The Doctor to suppress his memory of the events.
The second time Fitz winds up doing something actually important it's... kind of his own fault. The Doctor's, as well, but he could have probably dealt with the situation in a more productive way. It's the first all out row he's had with The Doctor in all the time they've spent in this bloody war. They both say things they don't mean, and it results in Fitz storming off, trailing a few defiant (and quite possibly idiotic) Time Lords, while The Doctor and the rest of their team vanish into their TARDISes and dematerialize.
Fitz actually manages to lead a moderately successful mission until he somehow finds himself on the wrong end of a Dalek's bloody death ray, watching himself of ten minutes previous wander away obliviously. Compassion saves him. This... actually doesn't surprise him as much as it rightfully should. They're in the middle of an epic time war. He'd be more surprised if she didn't show up at one point or another.
"What are you doing?" she asks him, sounding a little disgusted as she crushes the Dalek.
Fitz grins. "Waiting for my lady in shining armor, natch."
She inclines her head. "Sorry I'm late."
Fitz scrambles to his feet... and promptly collapses back to the ground as his shaky legs give out on him. He holds up one hand. "Not a word."
She scans the area around them as he gets back up, more carefully this time. "The Time Lords have dealt with the rest of the Daleks," she announces. "I'm surprised The Doctor's not here somewhere."
Fitz shrugs slightly. "Not his cup of tea, apparently."
"Mmm, yes. His morals. Only flexible when it suits his own purposes."
For once, Fitz doesn't feel like defending him. He hears the faint sound of the others leaving. One young Time Lord jogs across the field toward him, armor looking dramatically worse for ware and missing a chunk of hair. He stops a few feet back and stares. "I was going to offer you transportation back to Gallifrey," he says to Fitz. "But I presume that won't... be necessary."
Fitz glances at Compassion, who shrugs. She smiles sweetly at the Time Lord. "If you tell anyone that you even know of my existence I will ensure that you're entire family line never existed," she tells him calmly.
He nods rapidly, and turns on his heel, fleeing back to his TARDIS. "Thanks, Ryssal," Fitz calls after him.
Compassion takes him back to Gallifrey, even stopping briefly on Earth so that he can stock up on cigarettes. Romana doesn't seem surprised when Fitz delivers the report that The Doctor should rightfully be giving, and Fitz is quite sure that this fact is the most disturbing of the entire episode.
"A visionary." The Doctor is pacing back and forth across Romana's private rooms, hands sketching frantic arcs in the air in front of him. "Romana... Lady President, *please*. Let's be reasonable. This war isn't going to be won by following the advice of a mad woman."
Fitz shifts uncomfortably, and glances around at the rest of the people gathered on the luxurious sofas. Braxiatel is nodding along to The Doctor's rant, and The Rani looks ready to join in at a moment's notice if he ever loses steam. The Master is draped over an armchair like some stupidly self-assured cat, wine goblet held loosely in one hand, an indulgent smile painting his lips. Romana sighs pointedly, but The Doctor just keeps going. She glances at The Master, but he merely shrugs, bowing his head in mock deference. Her gaze switches to Fitz. Bloody hell.
"Theta," he says quietly, trying not to antagonize his lover. "Maybe it's worth a go. Remember Avalon? The ley lines in San Francisco? You got *married* for magical purposes, for Christ's sake." Apparently he's not as good at not antagonizing him as he thought.
"That was different."
"You were married?" The Master asks, sharply. Fitz groans, drops his head into his hands.
"Did you know," The Rani cuts in sharply, "that there is a faction of your little council that wants to facilitate the return of Rassilon?"
That, Fitz thinks dryly, is one way to sidestep the imminent domestic dispute.
Romana shakes her head. "They're small in number. It will never pass. I think we're quite capable of winning this war without the assistance of a megalomaniac."
Fitz coughs and looks anywhere but at The Master.
"You're not capable of winning this war, actually," The Master says quietly. The entire room falls deathly silent.
Romana's communicator flashes, and she excuses herself to read the message.
"You were *married*, Doctor?" The Master asks, low and dangerous.
"Briefly, yes. Lovely wedding." His gaze on The Master is suddenly intense. "But you already knew that, didn't you?"
The Master frowns. "What are you talking about?"
The Doctor's realization finally arrives in Fitz's brain and he asks it very politely to leave. Then another thought strikes. "If you're "family", doesn't that make it incest?" As soon as it comes out of his mouth he wishes he could take it back. He really, really doesn't ever need to have this conversation or, for that matter, any even remotely like it.
"I hate my life," The Rani says flatly.
The Master still looks confused. Braxiatel holds up a hand, clearing his throat. "I believe you're getting your timelines tangled," he tells Fitz and The Doctor.
Romana strides back into the room, eyes hard. She sweeps the small gathering with a heavy gaze, meeting each of their eyes in turn. "Arcadia is under attack."
So Fitz is going to die.
It isn't even going to be heroic or anything. He doesn't know when it's going to happen, and he doesn't know how. All he knows is that over the last three weeks everything has gone to shit, The Master has vanished, Braxiatel is dead and The Doctor has honest to God gone clinically insane. The Rani and Romana spend a lot of time huddled together in dark passageways and abandoned laboratories, trying to stay out of sight now that Rassilon has taken over and Romana is no longer president. Fitz spends his time trying to keep The Doctor under control and attempting with increasing futility to contact Compassion, or Iris, or Grandfather fucking Paradox, if it'll help.
And this morning, The Doctor had disappeared with Romana and The Rani for a couple hours and when he came back there was no life in his eyes. He presses himself against Fitz, tangling their limbs, burrowing his face into the taller man's throat. He doesn't say anything, but when he pulls away he touches his forehead to the human's and Fitz gasps at the rush of love that pours into his mind. He squeezes his fingers around the Time Lord's thin wrists, desperate to hold on as long as he can. They separate, finally, and The Doctor turns away, striding out with a cold determination in his movement. It's as if everything that has ever frightened Fitz about the man has come to the surface and taken over. This is The Doctor, but it's not The Doctor that Fitz wants to believe in. He assumes that they're not going to see each other again.
It might seem cowardly, but he stays in their rooms while he waits for the end. He pours a drink, then another. Wraps himself in the blanket from their bed and breathes in the familiar scent of The Doctor's cleanser. When the door bangs open, he jumps a bloody meter and curls in on himself before he realizes that he's not dead. A blond man stands in the doorway, skeletally thin and badly burned. He doesn't give Fitz a chance to speak. "You! You're in contact with the Type 102 TARDIS."
Fitz blinks. "She's not answering my calls," he replies, because why the hell not?
The man actually growls. "I *need* her."
"And what do you need her for?" Compassion asks, strolling out from the bedroom. Fitz spins to stare at her.
"You came! Took your bloody time about it."
She shakes her head. "Time was pushing me here. I barely had a choice."
"Because Time knows," the strange man says harshly. "We are not destined to die here. Not today, not in this timeline. I will *not* die."
"Who *are* you?" Fitz demands.
"You don't recognize me, Kreiner? I'm hurt."
"It's happening!" Compassion snaps suddenly.
"Oh god," Fitz closes his eyes.
"Come on!" Compassion cries, and he opens his eyes to see the blond man disappearing inside of her. Stumbling, he throws himself inside, landing hard on the floor as she jerks around them.
"They're time locking it," the blond snarls. "You need to escape the time lock... The Doctor's going to destroy everything."
"I can tell, thanks," she retorts.
Fitz presses his cheek into the floor and wraps his hands around part of the consul, holding on for dear life. Compassion shakes and rocks and occasionally the floor sort of stops existing, but Fitz somehow keeps his grip. From somewhere off to his right there's a golden light blazing that seems somehow familiar, but he's too busy not dying to think about it too hard.
After what seems like years, they settle. Fitz looks up slowly, and frowns because in the place of the blond man there is a tall, black haired man lying, trembling on the floor. Of course. Regenerative energy. Fitz sits up with an effort and winces. He's pretty sure that one of his ribs is broken, or at least badly bruised. "What happened?"
"We're out of the time lock," Compassion says.
"And we're alive. Well done." The now dark haired man stretches, arching his back and sparing a glance for Fitz. And suddenly Fitz knows exactly who he is.
"Oh for Christ's sake. Of all the people I could've gotten away with I had to escape with *you*."
"I assure you," The Master says, "You weren't my first choice, either."
Apparently they're doing clichés. This, Fitz can do. "What are you doing here?"
The Master pushes himself backwards until he can prop himself up against the wall. "Fulfilling my role in history". Fitz is about to question this but he finally gets a good look at the newly regenerated Time Lord.
"Oh," he says, slumping. "You'll want a rosette."
The Master inclines his head. "Noted. Now." He tilts his head up and addresses Compassion. "You can navigate between timelines, correct?"
When compassion answers she doesn't sound near as confident as Fitz would like. "Possibly."
"Excellent. I believe I have a wedding to attend. But first, a little detour. After all, I hold no false assumptions that I will be able to make use of your services indefinitely." He rises unsteadily to his feet and crosses to the consul. "If I may?"
Obligingly, a panel into which he can enter coordinates appears. He does so, and Fitz feels Compassion shutter as she enters the vortex.
It doesn't take long for The Master to materialize his own TARDIS inside of Compassion. "Once you've gotten me into the proper timestreem Lolita and I shall be fine without any further assistance."
"And what would be the proper timestream?" Compassion asks. The Master glances at Fitz.
"1783, Earth," Fitz sighs. "Um, it'll probably be difficult to get to. Look for The Doctor, I suppose."
"Thanks," Compassion says flatly. Fitz throws up his hands. It jars his ribs and he curls back up, sucking in lungfuls of air.
"Your TARDIS," Compassion says to The Master. "Her name is Lolita?"
The Master nods.
Compassion is silent for a long few minutes. Finally, The Master clears his throat. "Your point?"
"Just... trying to do some damage control of my own," Compassion states. "Giving her some new ideas, trying to set things at least slightly back on track."
"What sort of new ideas?"
"You'll see eventually. Though as a long-term consideration you may want to think about your position on babies."
Fitz decides that passing out is probably his safest option at the moment. When he wakes up, The Master and his TARDIS have gone.
"So," he says into the emptiness.
"So," compassion responds.
Fitz rubs at his eyes. "All of time and space at our fingertips."
He nods. "Fair enough. And you're one of two TARDISes left in the universe, isn't that right?"
"As far as we know."
Fitz thinks of The Doctor. Then Fitz thinks of The Doctor's dead body, and wants to throw up. "Well."
"There's an unusual time flux coming from a planet near where we are now," Compassion says, casually.
Fitz lets his head drop back against the floor. "And we're going to find out what's causing it, aren't we?"
She actually laughs. "Lady in shining armor, remember? We'll be fine."
"Fitz," says Karl Sadeghi, smiling warmly. He's older, probably a bit wiser. "I'm glad to see you."
Fitz very sincerely doubts that, but he accepts the sentiment for what it is. "Life been treating you well then?"
Karl nods. "It has. Better than it has you lately, I assume."
Fitz frowns. "Why do you say that?"
"Oh, I'm sorry. I just presumed that you and The Doctor had been having a bit of trouble. I just finished breakfast with him --once he'd managed to convince me that he was who he said he was-- and he didn't even mention that you were here. The way he was talking it was like it was just himself and his friend, Amy."
Compassion arrives beside Fitz just as Karl's words are sinking in. "Fitz, there--"
"I know," he says, and tries to pull in enough oxygen to keep his brain going. He stares at Karl, feeling like he's about to bloody cry with joy or something. "Where was he going? After breakfast, I mean?"
Karl shrugs. "The library, I believe."
Fitz nods jerkily. "I-- I have to go. Thanks."
Karl glances between him and compassion, then smiles softly. "Go," he agrees.
Fitz nods again, then turns and dashes off. Behind him, he can hear Karl picking out a simple, six note melody.