Doctor Who; The Doctor
G, 600 words
Summary: After Martha, after Astrid, after everything, the Doctor finds himself drawn back to Earth.
Notes: Spoilers up to Torchwood's 'Reset'.
After Martha, after Astrid, after everything, the Doctor finds himself drawn back to Earth. He's learned not to be surprised by this predilection, not any more. Earth isn't home, but it's familiar now, and there's something comforting about that, a pocket of nostalgia to be found in the vast stretches of space, the time currents that he's travelled within so extensively that they're a part of him, all the vagaries and eddies of the slow turn of the galaxies tucked away in his mind. The planet may be spinning beneath his feet, but it's a steady rhythm, and its gravity will not let him go.
He visits 2008, though he's careful to stay far away from Britain, from London, because that isn't fair. But it's not often he gets to see a year being played out all over again, and he can't leave just yet. He goes to the Beijing Olympics, stands on Cape Coast beach to watch the lunar eclipse, smiling to hear the wonder that humans express at the simplest of things. He tries not to think about the fact that if he stretched out his hand to share this moment, there would be no one to take it.
When he's finally satisfied that history is unfolding as it should once more, he disappears away again, just another man in the crowd who's gone before anyone quite thinks to ask for his name, and that's fine by him.
The TARDIS seems a little quiet when he gets back, so he takes her for a spin, racing through a millennia's worth of space and time. He walks through the ice fires of Bellios V, visits the cave systems of the Javian subcontinent, and by the time he's standing under the mighty rainstorms of the tropics of Tigella it begins to feel like things might be all right. The water drenches him, wet heat pouring down through to his bones, and it's a little easier to remember the people that he did save rather than those that he couldn't. Earth is still turning, and that is enough.
He stands motionless and lets himself lose all sense of time, trying to forget the constant beat of moments passing and just lets the raindrops fall in a ceaselessly moving now.
When he finally returns to the TARDIS, dripping all over the floor and laughing for no reason at all, something that's been wound too tight in a far corner of his head that he doesn't much care to explore seems to have loosened. He wanders off to find a towel, and to do something he should have done much sooner.
"Oh, hello there, this is the Doctor speaking--"
He frowns as he hears orders being shouted over the other end of the line, stomping boots and other sounds of great activity echoing down to him.
"What's the nature of the emergency, sir?"
"Sorry, what? There's no emergency."
"Nope. Aren't I allowed just to ring up for a chat?"
"Err, well. Sorry sir, we just have protocols for when you make contact with us. You're sure there's not any kind of imminent crisis you'd like to alert us to?"
"Oh. Well then. What can we do for you?"
The Doctor hesitates, looking around the control room. It still surprises him, sometimes, that Martha really has gone, that she isn't about to come down the stairs to ask where they're going next. Then he glances at the doors, remembers her parting smile, full of all that strength and heartbreak and bravery, and if he ever owed anything to anyone, it would be her.
"You've still got that continuous recruitment policy in place, yes? Because I've got someone who ought to be exactly what you need."