Characters/Pairings: Tenth Doctor, Ninth Doctor, Rose Tyler, Jackie Tyler, Martha Jones, Donna Noble, Jack Harkness, Pete Tyler
Warnings: Spoilers for seasons 1-4, swearing,
Disclaimer: I don't own anything in relation to this.
Summary: When the light is too bright, you don't notice the small things. And even a Time Lord doesn't always see what's to come. All he knows is that they're brave. They're always brave.
“I’ll bet you it’s just a small sprain,” Rose mumbled to her mother, insisting that it really wasn’t that bad, and could she please stop fussing so much? “It’ll be fixed in just a few weeks.”
“Oh, look at you, Rose the Injury Expert,” Jackie said, her grip on Rose’s uninjured wrist tightening even more. Rose gritted her teeth, trying not to snarl and hiss at her mother: Jackie was only worried, she knew that. “How would you know?”
“It hardly even hurts,” Rose insisted, and was proven right as the doctor came in and wrapped her in bandages in a manner of minutes.
“Just don’t do anything strenuous with it for the next few weeks, and you’ll have that off in no time,” he was wearing a big grin and patted her on the shoulder like she was some kind of dog, which did make Rose roll her eyes.
“Told ya’,” she smirked at Jackie, finally wrestling her arm free of the woman’s grip. “I want some coffee from the café, do you…”
She didn’t get to finish that sentence, having walked without looking ahead and as a result, collided with something (or rather someone) that made a squeak and an oof and promptly dropped all the papers she was holding.
“Oh, I’m so sorry!” Rose exclaimed, bending down to help the poor woman – she was met in turn with a brilliant smile, the woman reaching up to brush some hair behind her ear.
“That’s alright – we can pretend you were high on meds, instead of just not watching where you were going.”
Rose let out an embarrassed laugh. “Yeah, wish I had that excuse. As it is I’m just clumsy.”
“Walking in a straight line can be difficult,” the woman deadpanned, standing up with the collected papers. “Thanks for the help.”
“It was the least I could do, I made you drop them” Rose said, receiving another smile and a quick nod. Jackie caught up with her as she was watching the other woman’s dark pony-tail swishing as she walked down the hall.
Further down, the woman would set the papers on one of the doctor’s desk, and the man would roll his eyes and say, “really, Martha, can’t you at least get them back to me in a proper order? This is a mess!”
“OI! You!” if anyone could make it feel like the ground itself was trembling in fear as she came thundering towards you, it was Donna Noble. As it is, a few birds in the park near her took flight (in fright most likely) and one boy even swore he saw a squirrel drop out of its tree in pure terror.
“Oi, you in the leather-jacket, I’m talking to you!”
The man turned around, blinking in confusion at the red-head.
“Yes you, you doofus, do you see any other buffoons in leather-jackets around here?!”
The man raised an eyebrow. “There’s one right over there,” he said, pointing.
“Wha… oh, for crying out loud, I was still talking to you!”
“Right,” he said, standing up straighter and folding his hands behind his back. “What can I do for you?”
His show of ambivalence towards someone who had just been shouting at him for all she was worth sent Donna reeling and fighting for words, but only for all of five seconds. Then she folded her arms over her chest and continued her glaring.
“Are you the absolute idiot, who’s hogged my parking spot?”
“Ah… no. No, I don’t think so.”
“I’m pretty sure, yeah.”
“Absolutely sure? Because if I find out it is you…”
“I don’t own a car.”
“Ah.” That stopped her short. Donna frowned, looking the man up and down again. She could have sworn she had seen him excite the blue car in her spot earlier. The sun glinted off the black leather around his form, shining her in the eyes. She suddenly felt dizzy. “Well. Sorry to… disturb you then.”
“Not a problem at all,” he said, suddenly grinning at her. He looked… goofy was the word, and a part of her wanted to slap him just for looking like an idiot, but the bigger part was fighting to hold back a grin of her own. He was looking at her as if they were old friends, or conspirators or some such nonsense.
“Have a good day then,” Donna quickly mumbled, turning around and leaving the man in the leather-jacket behind.
“What year is this?”
“Blimey, how much have you had? It’s 2005, January the first.”
“Um, I would like… three of the candy-canes, please,” Martha said, eyes scanning the rows of candy and newspapers adorning the small street-corner shop. “And do you have any cards I can put on them?”
“Sure do,” the elderly man said, grinning at her widely. “Do you want them in blue or red?”
Martha blinked. “They come in blue?”
“Ah, sorry,” the man said. “I meant green or red.”
“Oh. Well, um, red then,” she mumbled, distractedly giving him the money for the candy-canes.
“Here you go,” he said, handing her a bag and the change. “And a very Merry Christmas to you.”
“A very Merry Christmas to you too,” Martha said, smiling widely as she focused on the reindeer-horns on his head. “And I like your choice of headwear sir!”
He laughed. “It’s only Christmas once a year. Might as well enjoy it.”
The world was ending. Again.
“This is actually at the point where it’s almost getting tiresome,” Donna sighed, clutching the iceberg-salad closer to her chest. “Doctor, how long do I have to…”
“Ssssh!” the Doctor’s voice came over the intercom. “You need to be quiet, Donna! I’ll come back for you in just a few minutes, but until then you need to stay put, do you understand? And whatever you do, for gods’ sake, don’t let go of that salad!”
“Alright alright!” Donna hissed back, feeling the dread settle over her as the low click from the intercom signaled it had been turned off. “I’ll just sit here then.”
She didn’t get to sit for long. Maybe it was because she was just Donna Noble, and it was karma. Or maybe it was because she really couldn’t sit still for that long, and it had been a whole two minutes since the Doctor told her to stay put, and she was holding a fucking salad-head and she was getting really tired of this bollocks.
She quietly lifted her head to peer over the desk she was hiding behind. The office was dark. No-one in sight.
Donna quickly rose to her feet, and just like that the lights were turned back on, a young man with tired eyes and wrinkled clothes standing there. He blinked at her in shock. Donna blinked at him in shock.
“Um, hi. Sorry. I must have gotten lost. I was looking for… for…”
“For the kitchen?” the man asked, a small smile touching his lips.
Donna sighed. “Yes. Yes, I was. Sorry. I’m… oh,” her hand shot down into her pocket, pulling out the psychic paper. “I’m the new cook!”
“I can see that… Joanne Rowling?” the man said, coming closer, and Donna had to stop herself from banging her head against the surface of the desk in front of her. Idiotic psychic-paper. “Nice to meet you. I’m Pete Tyler.”
“Hello, well. I’d love to stay and chat, but… it’s off to the kitchen, yeah?”
Pete smiled at her and pointed. “It’s that way.”
The intercom crackled in her pocket as she practically ran down the hallway.
“Yeah, staying put didn’t really work, I’m headed for the kitchen,” she had to restrain from yelling down the intercom, hoping to damage his ears for putting her through this. “Let’s get this over with, and then get the hell out of this decade, yeah?”
“Yep. Sounds like a plan.”
“Do you see everything?”
The Doctor frowned, turning towards Jack. “I beg your pardon?”
The former Time Agent was staring into his drink, swirling the dark liquid around in its glass. “You saw me becoming immortal. You knew it had happened, even before I did. But you didn’t see the Bad Wolf, you didn’t know what it was. You didn’t know about Davros and the return. Or the Master. Not until it was too late. So… do you see everything? But just… forget some details along the way?”
Suddenly the Time Lord looked all of his 900+ years. “Something like that,” he said. “Except it’s not really like that at all.”
“But you’re a Time Lord,” Jack said, finally turning to face the other man. “You have infinite knowledge. Remember you told me about Mars? And Pompeii? You knew, didn’t you?”
“But not everything. And even when I think I do… I’m always surprised.”
“And the other Time Lords? Were they surprised as well?”
The Doctor frowned. “They never really told me.”
“You were the black sheep of the family?”
“Something like that.”
Silence reigned between them for a few minutes, each lost to their own thoughts. It was the Doctor that broke it, in the end.
“It’s like looking at bright light,” he said. “I can see it, of course, because it’s light. That’s the whole purpose. But it’s so bright it starts to hurt my eyes, and I have to look away. And it’s so pure and blinding that there’s no room for shadows. All the nooks and crevices, they’re all gone, hidden. I didn’t see you, or any of the others, not before you came to me. I didn’t see any of you leave, not until you were finally gone.”
Jack swallowed the sudden lump in his throat. “Would you rather have it the other way? Would you rather be prepared?”
The Doctor took a while to answer. “Whenever I am prepared,” he finally said. “Someone always ends up dead.”
“But you do it anyway. You try, despite the… the knowing,” Jack felt like he was pulling for straws. “Or at least for the most part, you try.”
“Are you accusing me of favoritism?” the Doctor smirked slightly. “Because, Jack, back then, if I could go back and change it…”
“You’d still leave me there,” Jack interrupted. “Frightened and alone and immortal.”
The clock on the wall chimed four times.
“Yes,” the Doctor said. “Yes I would.”
Jack took a large swig of his drink. “If you knew everything,” he continued. “If you looked at that light for too long, I think even a Time Lord would burn up in the end. You’d be no use to anyone dead or as a drooling vegetable,” he paused to refill his glass. “You’re not a coward for looking away, sometimes.”
“No,” the Doctor muttered. “I don’t know about that. Coward or brave, it all sort of blurs together, doesn’t it? Depends on which side of the line you’re standing on.”
“If we all saw the whole picture, we’d realize there was no point at all,” Jack suddenly said, downing his glass. “Rose said that to me once. She said, in the grand scheme of thing, we weren’t that important, but that didn’t have to mean anything. That shouldn’t stop us.”
Familiar and old pain flittered across the Doctor’s features. “They’re all brave,” he said. “My Companions. Sometimes, I think, if they could see what I see, they wouldn’t look away. They would want to know, would want to see. And then they would do exactly the same thing, and they’d save us all.” He leaned his head forwards on his hands, staring at the hands of the clock, ticking along. “They’re always brave.”
“And let’s drink to that,” Jack said, lifting his re-filled glass as the clock kept chiming.