Right now, you are most certainly without.
She's gone. The last you saw her she was winding her way through people in the 1930's, heading back to her own life, slipping away from you like a child in the fairground. Strong and self-assured, never needing to seek out the hand that guides. She knew her own way and she went it.
You imagine she must've waited a long time for you in Rome, in that place you promised but knew you wouldn't go to. You imagine her crying, imagine cradling her in your arms---the way it was before, when you were with---and you imagine how much you hated that man---that man you are now---for hurting her.
These are the things you have done.
The phone still sits in its cradle, glaring at you with the knowledge of what you've done. It knows it was used for painful, cruel purposes, and it hates you for it (if, of course, the phone had an emotion and wasn't an inanimate object upon which you were clearly projecting your own feelings).
You don't know how you reached a standing position, but you're grateful for it. Your knees, all bent up and strained for the hours (days?) you've sat in the console room, are stiff and aching, but they work. They move you, though you're not sure where you want to go. Where are there safe places in this ship you both called home? Your mind thinks of the Zero Room, of the library, but these are places you visited together, places with intimate and painful memories.
Your feet (which are, of course, as heavily projected upon as your phone) become fed up with waiting, and direct you towards your bedroom, a place she hasn't seen. You moved it, you remember this now, you moved it to the other end of the TARDIS, somewhere safe, somewhere secure, somewhere without.
Your traitorous feet decide the new bedroom is too far, and they move you to the old bedroom. The one you sealed up, the one you haven't visited. They clearly want to torture you, because all you want to do now is wallow in without, not drown in the memories of with.
The TARDIS opens the door for you, and your feet move you in.
It's exactly as you remember it. Bed, rugs, even one of her high heels sticking out of the closet. You didn't touch anything, you just sealed it off. Like your memories. Like everything else.
How can you not blame yourself for this? You should be blaming the one responsible and that's you so you do and---
Your knees hit the bed, and you look down at it in a bit of surprise. You hadn't realized you were still moving, but you were and...
Oh. The bed. The bed you haven't touched since you were with. Still ruffled from when you both left it last, still crumpled in the general form of her. You can see her there, the way she was, leaning over you, loving you, sleeping with you, protecting you during your regeneration, everything, but she's not there. Not anymore.
Your body lies you down on your side of the bed. It's so soft. The pillow, the mattress, you feel yourself sink into it. Drowning in a pool of bedding and memory.
And you sleep, knowing when you wake up you will still be without.
In your dreams Catherine is rising from a crystal lake, stepping towards you with arms open. She's so trusting. There's a flash of what she used to be, but she's still her and you still can't look away, not from a face so trusting.
She sparkles. Her dress must be silken diamond, and her shining ginger hair curls and blows in the salty ocean wind. Her feet are bare and she is part of the sand around her; some ocean goddess whose aquamarine eyes are only for you.
She's moving towards you, and you feel like you should move away. You've got seventy-two scars criss-crossed across your hearts, and every instinct within you is to run. Your leather jacket is pulled tight across your back, and yet she pulls away your armor. She offers to complete you, and you're just foolish enough and young enough and desperate enough and lonely enough and in love enough to accept her. You stretch your arms out to greet her. She holds you, and you can feel eternity between you. Two lonely gods, together. She smiles and presses her lips to yours---
And you change. Her arms are beneath a scratchy cotton suit jacket instead of a leather one, and the lips she's kissing are fuller, the face they belong to, younger.
And you change. You're older and terrifyingly wiser and you love her still, but with a deeper, more destructive emotion. When you were young, she completed you. Now that you're old, she supports you as a cane to a bad back. Keeps you from curling into a shell. Need need need and you're desperate and you need her and---
You need to see her. When you pull back from her, you taste ash on your lips. You realize she is crumbling to dust beneath your hands. Crumbling, crumbling, and the wind blows her away.
Your last thought before you wake is that she is still so very, very lovely.
You remember, with sudden, complete clarity, that you are without again.
Your body moves without your direction. Shifts. Turns. You twist and sit and stand and move and walk from the room of the with to the area of the without.
You try to understand why this hurts so much. Why someone you've only spent 1/900ths of your life with affects you so much.
A wiser persona provides the answer, of course. It's because it was a forever, and you never say forever. Something that spanned lifetimes and personas and everything and it has to be over because you remember.
You remember more than you want to.
Your hand reaches for the hospital door, and Nurse Hame is there, and she's telling you that things don't look good (but they never look good, never ever).
And there's guilt. So much guilt. It sticks and permeates and drowns and drains but it's yours.
"You must love her very much."
Her hand reaches out. Touches your shoulder gently, the most gentle of touches, as if you're the damaged one, as if you are made of Venusian Porcelain, you'll shatter with the slightest pressure.
In theory, you probably will.
The ship around you warms, the lights go up, and she's trying to comfort you because she can feel how much you hurt. She shares it, tries to take it. Your ship is the ultimate lover. Understands you with complete clarity, drains your pain and demands nothing from you but to share in your happiness. (You've hurt her, too.)
The door to the Zero room opens, and she beckons you to some form of peace. But there are memories there, too. Certain and sacred and you can't quite face them, not yet.
You slip into the console room and look for something to tinker with. Anything to keep your mind busy. To keep you from thinking about--
There's envy. Envy for the way you were. Envy for him, the man that you were (that you are), the one who sleeps in your mind, now, in a room without windows or doors. Were he awake, he'd demand a meeting, somewhere he could punch you good and solidly, as you justly deserve. Really, though. A punch isn't worth the paradoxes it would cause.
That's not how it felt (how it will feel) for him.
Your knuckles burn, and you remember the swing. Remember the man with the brown trenchcoat and the dark circles under his eyes, falling backwards on his pretty-boy arse. You wince, and wonder how much longer you've got before you give yourself that bruise. It's going to hurt, but it's going to happen.
Maybe you'll feel better when it does. You'll know the universe is moving in the right direction.
Everything seems so wrong right now.
It's been hours. Hours. The wires beneath the console blended together in your vision and there's nothing you can do right now. Your back is sore, your legs ache, and it's really about time that you got up and just moved.
You start in the console room. Pick up the broken pot, the ripped wires, the torn chair. Straighten, fix. Put things the way they were so that you can forget how without you are and go back to the way you were before you felt what with was.
The glass is moved to a small pile, and the wires are put in their correct boxes. You pick up the broken grandfather clock, setting the large face up on the chair, before moving to pick up your trenchcoat. Your notepad falls out, of course, and lands on a page you haven't used just yet.
There's writing on it. Your curiosity is stronger than the knowledge that it's not your handwriting.
She's written you a little love note. A few kind words, to brighten a day. The words blur behind burning eyes, but the little 'forever' in there stands out, burns your corneas and reminds you of just how very, very without you are.
You feel your knees weaken, and you crumple before the broken clock, unable to stop the sudden, burning tears.
You are the perfect portrait of a servant to time and existence.
Muse: The Doctor (Ten)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count: 1,624
Based on roleplay with decadentmind and ninewho