Written for Ladysugarquill's stocking at fandom_stocking. Characters: Charley Pollard, Eighth Doctor. Rated PG.

Idle Moment

The peaceful silence, almost eerie, piqued his interest and trapped in him a moment of realization. Everything was quiet. Everything was warm and stilted, and he, Charley, and C'rizz were actually able to have a moment of respite after all the horrors, trials, and adventures they'd been thrust into through these strange lands.

The Doctor's gaze swept over the lush green foliage of the new land they had stumbled upon, tossed out of one land full of war and strife and into a completely new land where all the native life seemed at peace.

Oh, it was probably all deceptive. He feared the moment he'd thought of their downtime that something nefarious would snatch them right back into a life-threatening situation, and once again he'd have to protect them and pull them out of whatever grand scheme to save their lives.

As the Doctor looked around, his gaze dropped on Charley. C'rizz had wandered off somewhere close for a moment alone and meditation, while Charley was content to lean against an old stump within the forest for a quick snooze.

The Doctor stared at her, watching his entire history with her like a film reel on her peaceful face.

Thinking of Charley too much for too long still gave him pangs of anguish. She had sacrificed so much for him, and foolishly, she had followed him into this divergent universe. He'd thought it may have been wiser to stay angry at her, and maybe never forgive her.

That, the Doctor thought, was impossible. He could never stay angry at Charley. He could never feel negative toward her at all, as much as he could even try. His feelings for her – impossible and unrelenting – made him feel nothing but deep affection for her. Maybe, he'd even felt more, but he'd never allow his thoughts to wander further than that. Such an idea, such a hesitation to admit any truths for himself and her had deepened his regrets.

Yet that did not mean he could stand to be without her.

In his thoughts, the Doctor realized he'd made his way over to Charley's sleeping form as a king reaches for his gold. Looking down at her, he softly found a seat beside her and stared at the palm of her hand, which had fallen to her side in her slumber.

Lightly, with some hesitation, he covered her palm with his own hand, and he cherished the skin against skin, their history expanding the more he touched her. He closed his eyes, and when his hearts were about to burst, he struggled to pull his hand away.

But he could not.

An exotic bird in this uncharted land sang a song, and he almost felt it was for them. His feelings hummed within his frame and memories spiraled within him. His burdens, his anguish, further pressing with weight against his core.