A/N- Last chapter. Probably the one I'm most nervous about. The Doctor. 900 years, I'm sure he's got a lot of insecurities (or perhaps the longer you live the less you have?) but I just picked one to focus on. I hope he's somewhat in character! Thanks to everyone who has been reviewing, and if you can, please review this chapter because I could really use the feedback.
To those who only witness the Doctor in the fleeting moments he saves them from death before whisking away across the universe, the Doctor is a mystery, a legend, a hero.
But even heroes have their insecurities.
He hides it well most of the time. But those who know him very well can see past the stoic façade, see through to the lonely Time Lord who travels in a big blue box- his big blue box- running from his past. Running from the terrible truth.
That he is alone.
That he will outlive everyone he loves.
And perhaps the biggest insecurity he has- that he is dangerous to those he cares about.
Rory knew it. Rory the Roman, who had ceased to exist, only to be brought back from Amy's memories. Rory, who had not been eagerly swept up into the Doctor's lifestyle, but instead was a reluctant follower of the woman he loved. Rory, who was not in awe of the Doctor (most of the time), saw the truth. That despite all the good the Doctor did, death followed him.
Rory had confronted the Doctor about it in Venice, in a fit of rage when he realised Amy was in danger. "You have no idea how dangerous you make people to themselves when you're around." And the most hurtful thing was that he was right. But for some reason, Rory continued to travel with him. Perhaps it was for Amy, or perhaps it was just because he enjoyed it. Or a combination of both. But Rory had somehow fallen into the Doctor's accidental trap. Accepting the dangers because the alternative meant a life without the Doctor, or in Rory's case, a life without Amy. And he wasn't the only one.
Donna, who would have died if he hadn't removed her memories. And in a way, the Donna he knew had died. River, who only existed now on a computer database. Martha, who travelled across the whole planet, trying to save everyone in the year that never was. Rose, who absorbed the time vortex. Jack, who for goodness sake had been turned immortal. And those were just his latest friends; if he tried counting all the companions he had endangered, he would probably make it to his next regeneration first.
The evidence terrified him. He could not stand to be alone for too long, but whenever he dragged a companion along, they were hurt. Perhaps his life was too eventful for a human. Amy didn't seem to realise this yet. For that he was pleased, and also slightly guilty. She followed him around as she would have when she was seven, her imaginary friend, her raggedy Doctor.
Laying complete trust in him when she probably shouldn't have.
There was only one time she had glimpsed the danger the Doctor was a part of, when Rory died in Leadworth. She had looked up at him with tears in her eyes, but it was her cold tone that stunned him. "Then what is the point of you?" She had asked, not knowing it was a question the Doctor asked himself every time he failed someone. Of course, he had tried not to fail her, and the few times he had the universe had somehow been fixed. But one of these days, he was sure, she would learn the truth. They all did, in the end. Some chose to stay with him, others chose to leave. But they all found out.
And the thing was, it was never his intention for them to be harmed. It was almost a punishment for him, for ending the time war the way he did, or perhaps it went further than that. For stealing the TARDIS and running. His eternal punishment: learning to care only to be left alone in the end.
No, not entirely alone, he corrected himself as Rory and Amy came running down the stairs laughing, eager for another adventure. They were still here with him despite all the dangers they had faced. Still breathing, still alive. Able to deal with the dangers in that marvellous way only humans could.
As he watched the couple hold hands for a few seconds before taking their usual place around the TARDIS controls, the Doctor looked back on how Amy and Rory had changed in their time with him. A kissogram and a nurse with an unsteady relationship had blossomed into a husband and wife capable of saving the world.
And surely that had to count for something.