Epilogue: Death and Destruction and Madness
That crushing numbness had overtaken him again as he carried Fitz and laid him gently on the couch they usually cuddled up together in to read. Like they had the night before. He couldn't feel a pulse, couldn't hear him breath, and couldn't help but feel a little grateful that Fitz would no longer have to face the angel of death he would one day become.
And then, with a long, shuddering sigh, he realized all of those thoughts were merely his cowardice, as he ran away from the gaping chasm that threatened to overwhelm every part of him.
"He isn't gone," said a musical voice behind him.
He turned to see the White Guardian, in female form, wearing a long, flowing gown of white and a circlet of feathers on her head.
The Eighth Doctor kissed Fitz very softly on the lips, then pulled away as she leaned forward to touch him. Long, dark lashes fluttered, and suddenly Fitz's soft grey eyes were staring at him. Fitz sat up all at once, gasping, shivering all over, and the Doctor held him and cried a few scattered tears of relief.
He chuckled weakly. "Nice to see you too, Doc."
"Come to me, Doctor. I'll let you forget."
He released Fitz, standing up to face the White Guardian, feeling undeserved of her attention at the moment.
"What, is this what you're doing to everyone?" Fitz said, getting up, sounding horrified. "Stealing their bloody memories because you think that's what's best for us mere mortals?"
She said nothing.
"Don't let her, Doctor," Fitz said, standing at his side. "It's better to know, isn't it? Better to realize what you're facing."
The Doctor looked at him very sadly, and a little ashamed. "If my fate is to become the destroyer of worlds, then at least allow me the illusion of freedom. Of choice."
Fitz gripped his shoulder. "There's always a choice. You taught me that."
He stepped away from Fitz, looking into her pale, silvery eyes. "I'm sorry, Fitz."
"Then let me remember," Fitz said, standing between him and the Guardian. "Let me help him. I'll keep the Doctor's secrets. I'll remember for both of us."
"One day you will," she said very sadly. "His burdens will be yours, if you are strong enough to carry them. But the moment hasn't come yet."
"I'm ready for it now," Fitz argued, defiant. The Doctor was very proud of him at that moment.
"No, you aren't," she said, and smiled. "But that's never stopped you before."
She touched his temple. The Doctor caught Fitz in his arms as he collapsed. He laid him back down on the couch and turned to her.
"I'm ready," the Doctor whispered, and knew no more.
After it was over, and the TARDIS was rather in shambles, the Eleventh Doctor was certain she'd be stuck with him for a little while at least. But no, the two girls conspired against him. He resented that the TARDIS seemed to give River anything she wanted, especially when that meant she wanted to go away.
She'd changed into white dress and prim little jacket, carrying a leather satchel he knew for a fact was bigger on the inside. She looked very pretty, and very sad, as they said goodbye.
He kissed her at the edge of the lake in a park. He hadn't bothered to check which one. But she liked parks. Always had.
Afterwards, he held her, and didn't want to let go. He whispered in her ear. "I'd like you to come with me, Dr. River Song. All right, I'll say it. I admit it. Don't bring it up later."
"I know you do," she said softly, leaning in to the hug, very warm against him as he squeezed tighter. But she pulled away too soon.
"And it's Professor River Song now, thank you," she said with a smirk.
He grabbed her shoulders, desperate and unable to hide it. "Come with me," he said frantically, practically begging and completely unashamed of it. "For as long as you want, wherever you want. Whenever you want. And you can come back here when you like. Enjoy your golden years as a stuffy professor. I promise. Just don't leave me, River Song. Please. Not yet."
She took both of his hands in hers, bringing them up to her lips to kiss them. "Doctor, we each have things to do. We both know that. But there's so much we can share in between. And I trust that's enough for you."
"It is," he said after a moment, eyes gleaming. "Professor River Song."
He woke up on the couch with the Doctor curled against him. Fitz yawned. A strange sound crept through his mind, like a mix of the TARDIS dematerializing and the ringing after a long night at a club. Accompanied by a dull throbbing headache, of course. Fitz contained the overwhelming urge to stretch so as to not disturb the Doctor, who was whimpering in his sleep. Another one of his nightmares.
Actually, the whole console room looked like a nightmare, now that he actually paid attention. It was dark, far darker then normal, acrid smoke drifting faintly near the ceiling, which was currently projecting the familiar swirls of the vortex. The Doctor looked pretty bad himself, the left hand pressed against his chest covered in dried blood, and his best friend's eyes were blackened as though he'd been in a bar fight.
But the Doctor's swollen eyes fluttered open, staring straight at Fitz with a manic intensity.
"I've had a terrible dream," the Doctor muttered, stroking Fitz's cheek, then staring at the dried blood that flaked onto his fingertips. "Was it real?"
Fitz held him, pressing the Doctor's head against his chest, calming him. "Shhh… It's all right. Just a dream."
The Doctor curled against him, more asleep then awake. "It was terrible Fitz. I killed you, I killed so many people. Nothing but death and destruction and madness."
He began to weep quietly against Fitz's chest, the Doctor's tears soaking his shirt in an instant. "I dreamt of madness, and I was the angel of death, and I did terrible, terrible things. To you, to everyone."
Fitz held his lover, his best friend, until he stopped sobbing, and slipped back into sleep. Fitz shivered, and he couldn't stop. The tears had begun to dry on his cheeks before he realized he was crying.
Hope you enjoyed this story as much as I did! It got stuck in my head and could not get out. Please tell me what you think.