AN: Writing is therapeutic, incredibly so. And, though I adore the new TARDIS team, I miss these two, so edited my rant to fit around them, ha. First fic of 2011! It would have been the last one of 2010, but my mobile internet hates me almost as much as I hate it, only not quite. Anyway, I literally wrote this in about 20 minutes, so I hope it's not too bad. Reviews are love!
He didn't tell her everything. Part of it was the fact that her language didn't contain the right tenses to talk about the War in any precision, part of it was for fear of it all coming back to haunt him if he were to put it into words. Mostly, though, it was the possibility – no, the surety – that were she ever to find out who he truly was and what he'd done, she'd run and never look back, and he wouldn't blame her. He couldn't risk losing her now, not now he'd realised just how much he needed her.
He told her enough. Enough to appall and disgust even the most immoral of creatures. But not her. She didn't shout, didn't leave, didn't judge. She seemed to –impossibly– understand. More than anyone else, she felt his pain, he could see it reflected in her eyes.
Sometimes he hated himself for doing that to her, for forcing his darkness over her light, but there were also times when an overwhelming sense of gratitude filled his hearts – the knowledge that there was at least someone else who knew even part of the truth, the relief, after all that desperate silence.
At first, she could only feel hopelessly sorry for him – for what he had lost, for what he would never find. Then when the weight in his eyes seemed just a fraction lighter – an almost imperceptible difference, but she could tell – she realised that, just by listening, she'd helped.
That should have been enough. She couldn't accept it, though, that a man in many ways so brilliant and heroic could be consumed with so much self-hatred and guilt. It was so wrong. He stopped dictators and invaders and bloodthirsty killers from causing unimaginable amounts of pain and suffering, and yet, in those battered hearts of his, he considered himself so much worse than all of them. He, who saved thousands of lives on a quiet day, he, who risked his own life in a burning building to rescue just one child, he, who was willing to forgive anyone if they were truly sorry – could not forgive himself.
It was so unfair. If anyone else had been putting him down, she'd have given them what for, but she couldn't, because his greatest enemy was his own conscience. And however much she wanted to – however much she told him how brilliant he was, how much she admired him more than anything – she couldn't change how he saw himself.
Oh, she tried. Donna Noble could talk for England, for Earth, for Sol…for the universe. But not for him. So used to being heard if she shouted loud enough, the helplessness was killing her.
When she died – for it was a death, if not as far as human biology was concerned – a piece of him died with her. Long ago he would have scoffed at such sentimentality, but in opening both of his hearts to her he'd foolishly let her inside them.
If those hearts had ever truly broken, it wasn't watching from a distance as his planet burned or standing on a beach as his throat seized up, it was here, in her kitchen, when those eyes of hers, eyes that had once held so much comfort and forgiveness and faith, glanced at him, completely empty.
Gone was the Donna he'd known and loved like the best friend he could have wished for. Gone was the most important woman in creation. Because in the end, it had been her. Not the prophecy and the metacrisis, not the impossibility she'd become, but Donna herself. The woman who believed in him above all else, who knew the real reason he chose not to sleep, the woman who – after all this time, after everything – had made him believe that it was possible to heal wounds as deep as his. The woman who'd tried so hard to make him forget what he'd done… but in the end, he made her forget.
His fault. Her name just another scar now, deeper than most, one more regret on the list she'd tried to erase.
He'd shared so much, too much. More with her than with any of his other human companions; perhaps because she'd come along at the right time, perhaps because she didn't seem as fragile as her younger predecessors, perhaps simply because she'd asked and he owed her more than to refuse to answer. Perhaps because she'd said it, hadn't she, when they first met. "You need someone to stop you."
Oh, Donna Noble. If only she'd known how much more he needed someone to keep him going.