A Servant to Time and Consequence (rude_not_ginger) wrote,
A Servant to Time and Consequence

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for couples_therapy; 85.10: Absence

"Absence sharpens love, presence strengthens it."
- Thomas Fuller

He is waiting for Rose Tyler.


He hears her footfall across the grass on the edge of the forest.

There is only so much time, he has to remind himself. For a man accustomed to having all of the time in the universe, it's difficult to remember this. To remember that the time he spends walking to the place in the woods, the time he wastes on small talk, it all takes away from what little time there is.

No time for questions. She practically races across the clearing to him and throws her arms around him before he properly has time to react. She presses against him---crushes against him as she clings with all of the force she can muster.

And there, then, she's holding him. She's holding him and he's holding her and they are old lovers and best friends and lost souls and they are together. They have held each other many times like this before and they will hold each other many times like this again, but for now, right now, it is the first time. It is the only time.

"I missed you," she says.

They only have moments this time. She fades beneath his touch.

It is enough.


He hears her footfall across the grass on the edge of the forest.

It's spring, because it's always spring. The trees are lush and bright with green leaves. They make his eyes sting if he stares at them for too long. She emerges from one side of the clearing. The grass is bright and untouched by anyone else. The whole year it grows long and soft and when she crosses it, it crunches beneath her bare feet.

Her hair is down and her smile is wide and she is eternally nineteen. He imagines she doesn't look this way anymore, but he hasn't smiled the way he smiles here in a very, very long time, either.

"I missed you," she says. He takes her hand and asks her about this last year.

He pretends that they have all of the time in the universe.


He hears her footfall across the grass on the edge of the forest.

He tells her this is the last time he's coming. He tells her he can't do this anymore, he can't can't can't because it's not right and he has to move on and he just can't.

She tells him she understands and she lifts her mouth to his. His kiss is slow and sad.

He tells her he is not coming back and she does not believe he is lying.


He hears her footfall across the grass on the edge of the forest.

The more often they are together, the better they get at self-control. The more they enjoy the moments together. The more they explore each other and the better they get at pretending they have all the time in the universe.

It is all pretending, after all.

"Explain it to me again," she asks. Her hand traces circles across his bare chest.

The universe is forever damaged, he tells her (it is not the first time he has told her and it will not be the last). There's a split in reality and thought waves pass through once per yearly cycle. It doesn't last for long, maybe a few hours at most. Sometimes as long as a day, and sometimes for only moments.

It's not really like being together. Not really. But it's a shared thought. A shared time in a neutral place.

"And the reason we end up like this?" she asks with a teasing smirk, gesturing to their entwined bodies.

Pent-up desires, he says. Not really all that unexpected, considering they are in their own subconscious.

She laughs, because it's true. Her hair is golden in the false sunlight, and it fans around them like a curtain.

It hasn't been nearly long enough, but he feels her start to fade. He tries to cling to her because he always tries to cling to her (even when she is falling, even when she is fading, he has to, he has to save her---).

"Same time next year," she whispers.


He hears her footfall across the grass on the edge of the forest.

She says she thinks that years have passed this time in the forest, but he tells her that it's only been hours. She believes him, of course. He knows time far better than she does.

"I missed you," she says as they sit together, because it's something she always says.

He doesn't reply, because he never replies. Because some things don't need saying, and he thinks she knows (he needs to believe she knows). His hand seeks out hers and he twines their fingers.

She crawls across the grass until she's practically in his lap. He leans into her kiss like a man who has kissed her many, many times before. He unzips her jacket and he knows each tooth of the zipper, each of the buttons he undoes from her shirt. She knows the easiest way to undo the knot in his tie.

Sometimes there is no talking.


He hears her footfall across the grass on the edge of the forest.

But sometimes, words come out unbidden, of course. They are always questions he's asked before.

He asks her why they're here.

She tells him what she has always told him and she tells it in the same way. Here because this is a place they both have in their universes. Here because it is safe and private and theirs.

He asks her why she doesn't change. He doesn't change, of course. He doesn't change because he can't bear the man he's become. He'll always have the soft hair and the kind brown eyes he had before, because the wildness in his eyes now is too much to take, even for him.

She tells him what she has always told him and she tells it in the same way. Because here they are dreaming, so here he doesn’t have to see the years or the wrinkles or the stretch marks.

"I had a daughter," she says. "I named her Martha. She's beautiful, you'd love her."

He asks if she is his and when he says his he's talking about a man with his face but not him at all. She shakes her head.

"He's just like you," she says. "He can't stay in one place either. Left last year. I've got a new bloke. His name is---"

He shakes his head, because he doesn't want to know who the bloke is. He doesn't want to know who holds her the other 364 days of the year. There were two years, two wonderful years, and they were together.

Now they have this.

He wants it to be enough.


He hears her footfall across the grass on the edge of the forest.

The first time, there is no finesse. There is a surprised look across the clearing and before they know it, they are running towards each other. Before they know it, they are holding each other. And she kisses him, because she knows it is him and that is what she wants. This is what she wants. He kisses back because he should've so very, very long ago.

They are both dreaming and he is far less accustomed to dreams. His mouth becomes the mouth he had before and his body becomes shorter and stockier at times. His arms change in length and the way he presses against her becomes more aggressive when he gets older.

She laughs and pulls back. "Just…stay you. Just for a minute, I can't keep track."

She stays the same because she has always been the same to him and she can not change the way he does.

He focuses on himself, the way he looks now. He focuses and he stays himself and the brown suit is a bit disarrayed, but at least he is himself. He tugs down her pants and she unzips his trousers and they find themselves pressed against a tree. She cries out when he slides within her but not because it is anywhere remotely close to her first time, and he gasps as she tightens around him, but not because it has been all that long since he's been with a woman. It's sloppy and fast and possibly unsatisfying but---

But in that moment, they're together.

It's enough.


He hears her footfall across the grass on the edge of the forest.

They climb trees and she lays across his chest in the warm sunlight. It is very high up and the limb is not so strong, but he figures so long as they stay very still, they won't fall. They are both very old now, though in this place they will never look that way.

"Do you ever leap the year?" she asks. "Or miss it because you're busy?"

Time travel works that way for him, but not in this case. It's measured along their timelines, though she already knows this. She knows he has fallen asleep in the middle of very terrible adventures only to open his eyes at the edge of the forest. He knows she nodded off at her daughter's wedding only to find herself here.

It's the only way they can stay on the same timeline, he says.


He hears her footfall across the grass on the edge of the forest.

He's so excited when he sees her. He has so much to talk about. He's done so much in so little time. He's given up feeling sorry for himself. If he has no time left alive, if his song is ending, then he's going to live. He's going to live so much.

She looks sad, but she nods and smiles.

He starts to tell her about his new companion. She's wonderful, and her name is Charity. She's a vampire, but that doesn't make her a terrible person.

"Don't," she says. "Don't. Not here. Please."

She has grown up a lot, but she still has a selfish streak. She can't have him there, though he imagines she still tries. She can't be out and traveling with him. Even if the world split open, she's a mother now, she has a universe to protect and a husband who loves her. When they are here, she wants him to be hers because it's the only place she can have him.

He's denied her a lot over their lifetimes, but he won't deny her this. He goes quiet and pulls her to him.


He hears her footfall across the grass on the edge of the forest.

"I don't look this way anymore," she says as he traces a hand across her breast. He knows, because he knows her body far too well for her to still be this young. They have been together too many times, and he is far too old outside of this clearing to imagine she is the nineteen year old in his arms, now.

He tells her he doesn't care, and this has become as common as her telling him that she's missed him. He kisses her collarbone and down the column between her breasts.

"I'm sick, out there," she says. It is something she has not said before.

He doesn't reply because he knows what sick means. Sick is a euphemism. She reminds him that she is very old.

He tells her he understands and he lifts her mouth to his. Her kiss is slow and sad.

She tells him she will probably not be coming back and he does not believe she is lying.


He hears her footfall across the grass on the edge of the forest.

They know when they only have moments.

The first time they have only moments, he kisses her. His arms slide around her waist and his lips brush hers softly at first. A tentative, nervous kiss. Once, twice, and then he pulls her towards him, pressing to her as though he can keep her from leaving. Like the strength of his arms alone can keep her with him.

She presses her forehead to his and tells him that if love were enough, she'd never leave.


He is waiting for Rose Tyler.

He waits for her footfall at the edge of the forest. The light is bright and shining, but the grass is still and silent.

"I miss you," he says.

It isn't enough.

Muse: The Doctor (Ten)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count: 2,087
Partner: (canon) Rose Tyler
Tags: community: couples therapy, featuring: rose tyler, warnings: explicit sexuality
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