Many Waters

It wasn't long enough. Forever was meant to be much longer than this. Oh, the Doctor had always known he would lose her. He'd understood and forced himself, ever so slowly, to accept the truth of it. But not... not so soon, not when he was so unprepared, and not when he'd never managed to say...

It's been in his mind for awhile now, the words have been there on the tip of his tongue, beggars in the silence, needing only air to become voice and known. He has never given them that air and now he knows he never will.

He knows he's been given every chance, more chances than should ever be within the rights of a man. Even an ordinary man should say those words, even an average man would know when it was time. He's had a thousand thousand more chances than any normal man is ever given, and he has lost them all, squandered them, frittered them away, wasted every single solitary one of them.

And the very, very last hurts the worst, because he knew from the very beginning that it was his last chance. He knew not to let anything else get in the way, pride and hubris, curiosity, jealousy, lies, fear. He knew each and every one of those failings would cost him one more chance, and though he managed to quash the jealousy and most of the fear, everything else still took its due, a nibble of his time, his very last opportunity. He let it slip through his hands.

He will never try again.

Everyone involved is dead, all the humans, anyway. Well, but he has been dead longer than any of them, and simply hasn't found an excuse that will prove to his body what his hearts and his mind already know. The abomination below him is dead, too. He warned her, promised her, assured her that he was true to his kind in this much at least. His people destroyed her kind long, long ago. He gave her only the barest alternative, which she rejected, and now he'll see to it that the last act of the Last of the Time Lords will ensure that their law remains unbroken in this at least. She's still screaming and still wailing, but she's dead, exactly as he told her.

He's blown up the flood barrier, and his memory is filling just as the hole in the world and the room he is in. He thinks how he met her - blew up her job. He thinks how many other things he blew up in her presence, and how he stopped that one last time, and she saved him from it. He thinks she knows - she's always known - but how can she be sure when he never said?

The impromptu river is rising and the spiders are dying and he's glad to save the world one last time, because she always believed in him. She let him kill her more than once to save the world. She'd never fault him or blame him if this time he let saving the world fall all on himself. Well, she'd never blame him anyway.

Even if she would have blamed him, she will never know. Just as she will never know those words he should have said, never know the things he should have done. Just as she will never know about this at all. Others will mourn him, perhaps, but perhaps not. He likes to think the chaos will stop, and the carnage, and that this will be the end of it altogether, not just to his knowledge.

He's killed worlds upon worlds, waded in blood as deep as the Thames is around him now, and he deserves this. It's been following him his entire life, or perhaps going before him, waiting for him every where he could possibly try to be, and striking down everything around him in an attempt to get at him. It has missed him every time before this, but not this time. It is winning, he is letting it, and he doesn't mind.

Even now, sunk up to his shoulders, he could still turn and run. It doesn't feel right without her hand to hold while he runs. He's been doing it, running hand in hand with her, since the moment they met, and he doesn't want to do without it. He will not do without it. Not ever.

His respiratory by-pass tries to cut in and he forbids it. Nature tries to force him to fight, his survival instincts so vicious that, despite everything, he almost, almost moves. He thinks about what it will feel like to fall into his ship and find it empty and he cannot.

There is nothing left for him, nothing but the emotion, nothing but the words burning in his chest, burning him up from the inside out. They have been blazing inside him, as torrential as the flood that seeks to swamp him, and he never let them out. Now, they will consume him, as any pressure without a release valve always will. They've hurt and they've ached and they've screamed and shredded inside him, and he has never once spoken them. They burn, just like his lungs, just like his eyes, just like his soul. He realizes, in that last, that they will always blaze like this, an inferno with no more beginning than end.

The water closes over his head and the welcome blackness licks at the edge of his consciousness. The last thing he will ever think is a quote, so very true. "Many waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods drown it."

Mercifully, however, they can drown him.