So, the author "Pinfeathers" asked me to write this - a sequel/companion to a fic I published earlier, "Pandorica". I hope it doesn't disappoint, but beware, it's not all that great. :)
The pressure on his wrists, the clamp round his waist, the endless, stiff, blankness, they all let go.
He breathes in. He blinks. He's moving again.
A high of elation shocks through him, and the next moment he's terrified. Who? What? If the Daleks, if his enemies, if they're letting him go, it must be for some terrible, horrible, some torture, some new -
He can only sit there, fists still curled, finding himself again. Finding that hard cold shell of a blank face and putting it on again. It's instinct.
"How did you do that?" He says. His voice is hoarse from the screaming. He hopes Rory won't notice.
"You gave me this?" Rory says, holding up a sonic screwdriver.
"No, I didn't."
Dialogue. Oh, it feels good. Don't let anyone know, though, how things feel. I'm the Doctor. I'm carrying the world, again. Altas never got scared when he supported the globe. Did he?
"You did, look at it." Rory holds out the screwdriver, and the Doctor brings his own dear sonic out of his pocket - it feels wonderful to hold it again - and knocks it against Rory's screwdriver.
There's a burst of sparks as the paradox zaps the identical tools.
"Temporal energy - same screwdriver, different points in its own time stream, which means it was me who gave it to you. Me from the future. I've got a future, that's nice."
This is where his voice breaks. It crashes down upon him. He's awake. He has a future. That's more than nice, that's -
"Doctor?" Rory says. "Are you alright?"
"No," the Doctor whispers, eyes squeezed shut. When was the last time he admitted that?
He sits down hard on the edge of the Pandorica.
"No, Rory Williams, I am not alright!" His voice is louder than is should be, but he doesn't care. Just, give me a minute where I don't have to care.
"The whole universe just imploded. And where were you? But it doesn't matter! Because I was in that box, and I…" He breaks down, and now he's crying, actually crying.
"It must have been terrible." Rory's attempt at sympathy.
It's quiet. The Doctor is still crying. Shoulders shaking, head in hands.
It only lasts a minute, though. He stops, holds his breath, wraps his arms around his chest - "Terrible doesn't cover it," he says, eyes still closed. "Did you ever go to bed after watching a scary movie?"
"Yeah." Rory shrugs a little. "Jurassic Park. I don't know what my parents were thinking. There was a -"
"And can you imagine going to bed knowing that everything that terrified you in that film was real?"
"Going to bed - helpless - your parents won't let you come out - and you know that all those Velocoraptors and - and - it's not just the dinosaurs - it's the ghosts and it's the blood and it's the monster under the bed and it's everything you've ever been afraid of - you know they're all coming to get you. Remember the Dream Lord?"
"Imagine being trapped in a cupboard with him. What am I trying to say? I don't know. Imagine being trapped in a dream with him. Just you and him and he hates you so much he'll stop at nothing to tear your mind apart. And imagine your mind is the only thing you have left. Don't just imagine. Live it. No, I am not alright. But thank you for asking."
There is a long, awkward pause, and then the Doctor looks up. "And the worst thing is," he breathes, "I didn't care. I didn't care, Rory. And when I did, it was all about me. Once I remembered that the people I care about were safe, I just - I just - do you know how many galaxies I've seen? How many civilizations and peoples and species? They've all just been wiped from existence, and all I could think about was what the next thousand, the next million, the next infinity of years were going to be like for me."
Another awkward silence, then Rory leans down and puts a hand on the Doctor's shoulder. "You do realize that that's - kind of natural?"
The Doctor opens his eyes. "Huh?"
"To be concerned about yourself. You know - you were in that -" he stutters and becomes increasingly apologetic as the Doctor's face remains blank. "That box for all of time. Like you said, it was scary. It's a natural instinct to - you know. Be scared."
The Doctor just looks up at him with a frozen smile - "Yeah," he says. But it's obvious he's not comforted. Then he blinks, runs a hand over his face, and he's replaced his haunted visage with a lighter one. He's back to being the Doctor who laughs at the darkness.
"The world needs us, now," he says, "And we've got to be the best we can be. You. Me. Amy. We're the world's rescue team, now, and we can't be scared." He stands up, dusts off his pants, and jabs a finger towards Rory. "So, don't be scared! What are you doing, sitting around? There's work to be done! People to save! Don't just mope! Get moving!"
He starts at a quick pace, but turns. "Our rescue team's one short. Amy. Where's Amy?"
And thus, canon takes over again. Thank you for reading!