You’ve got a long way to go
before you reach your goal, but the Eighth Doctor is here to give you some
on the verge of doing something stupid. Not because you’re stupid (you’re
not), but because you’re fed up with just about everything. You’re tired. And
frustrated. And generally just ready to smack someone, which very well might
happen, because you’re in a coffee shop that also serves tea and cinnamon rolls
and it’s nice but the barista is loud and annoying.
sideways glance catches your attention, because you see your reflection in the
window and wow, have you gone around all day looking like that? You could have
sworn that you made yourself decent before leaving the house today, but
apparently not. Attempting some sort of clean-up for the current disaster, you
grab one of the paper napkins from the dispenser and dab at your face, hoping
to wipe away some of your human stickiness. And then you have to laugh a little
bit, because who cares if you look washed-out? No one’s noticed anything else,
so why would they notice that you look like you lack personal hygiene?
just as you’re thinking that, a man slides into the chair across from you and
looks like a Ren-Faire runaway, all trussed up in a green velvet coat and cravat, but
you’re willing to ignore the outfit because, hey, what’s life if you can’t be a
little weird? Maybe he’s cool. And it takes a real man to dress up like that in
public. Also, he’s got a gorgeous face, so who cares what he’s wearing?
would be a terrible shame if something damaged that handsome face, and you want
to warn him that your patience-levels have reached critical loss and it might
be you that does him damage if he stays within reach, but he’s just staring at
you like he expects you to say something and you’re pretty sure that “Danger,
Will Robinson,” isn’t it.
what you say instead is: “May I help you?”
he begins, and oh that voice isn’t fair
to humanity he should go to jail for that, “I was thinking I might help you. You seem like you need it.”
occurs to you that you have just encountered a very desperate male prostitute
who dares to work in broad daylight on the nice side of town (the Victorian
outfit might be a thing, you don’t
know, it’s not like you spend a whole lot of time checking out what’s in
fashion in the red-light district), but
then your brain reminds you to back up
that ice cream truck and get some clarification before jumping to
conclusions that are both disgusting and illegal.
Like his voice (illegal, not
disgusting, unless you count disgustingly sexy).
what?” It’s not your most intelligent go-to, but you haven’t been given much to
seem sad.” He smiles again, all soft and encouraging and friendly like you’ve
known each other for ages and it’s totally normal. Which it isn’t, although
some traitorous part of you is wishing that it is. (Also, he’s definitely not a
prostitute, not with a sweet, innocent face like that.) “I saw you, and you
looked as though you could use someone to talk to. And I like listening. I’m
rather good at it, I’d say.”
And not bad to look at either, you think, but you can’t say
that, and you have no other comment that could be considered intelligent or
reasonable or even mature, so you just stare at him.
then he makes puppy eyes and says, “Please? I hate for people to be sad. I
could feel it from all the way across the shop.”
have no idea what that means but you decide that this stupidly handsome man got
himself into this situation, and if he doesn’t like it, then he can get himself
out. So you take him up on his offer, and you start talking.
don’t want to sound like you’re complaining, so you tell him a story. You’ve
come a long way, and you’re exhausted, but you’ve got a long way to go. So
long. It feels like a million miles and more before you reach your goal and it
almost doesn’t seem worth it but you’ve come so far. You can’t stop now. But,
at the same time, you can’t see how you can possibly keep going. You’re so
close to breaking down and losing it, and the worst part is that no one seems
to notice how bad things have gotten. No one, that is, except from some
name is… well, it’s Doctor. It’s strange, and he laughs when you ask, “Doctor
who?” But he explains to you that his name is a promise. He promised to help
people (and, also, he has a number of doctorates that seem entirely impossible
for someone so young, but apparently he’s a genius and brainy just became the
you both finally stop talking, you’re a bit teary-eyed, and the Doctor offers
you a paper napkin to dab your eyes with and maybe blow your nose. You don’t
want to embarrass yourself anymore than you already have, but considering how
much of your personal life you’ve just dumped on a total stranger, you’ve been
left quite a bit of wiggle room for embarrassment (so, yes, you blow your nose
in a paper napkin and he doesn’t look one bit perturbed).
understand,” he says, nodding thoughtfully as though you’re not blowing snot
into biodegradable napkins only a foot away from his face. “I’m in a similar
situation, myself. There’s trouble going on back home and I– well, I have to
help. I’ve been doing it for a while but things can only get worse from here
and I’ve got a long ways to go before it ends. And sometimes I just want to
forget about it and go back to the way things were. Sod the responsibilities
and all that. Is that how you feel?”
you agree, somewhat nasally as you toss snotty tissues into a waste bin. “Just
He’s smiling at you again. It’s not a very smile-worthy conversation, but he’s
not smiling about your troubled chit-chat. He’s just smiling at you. “Maybe… if we had a little more
encouragement, it wouldn’t feel so troublesome. More carrot and less stick, if
you follow me.”
follow,” you say. “Any suggestions?”
don’t do this with strangers or with anyone,
really, but you’re hoping that he’ll suggest weekly meetings and maybe an exchange
of phone numbers and you have enough money in your purse to order some tea (he
looks like a tea-not-coffee sort of man, and what decent Brit doesn’t like
sits back, mouth puckering slightly as he ponders the dilemma. He wilts a little
bit, and you start to think that he’s taking this too seriously, but then his
eyes light up and he reaches out and takes your hand in his and ooh, he has nice hands, that feels lovely,
he’s very touch-friendly and you don’t mind at all because this is rather
have to go home,” he says, “and it’s a ways away, so I wouldn’t be able to see
you for- for- for awhile, but I do want
to see you again. When it’s over. I think that’s a rather lovely carrot, don’t you?”
a lovely carrot. Not as lovely as seeing him weekly, but if he has to leave,
you need to clarify something, because you’ve only known each other for a few hours. “You really want to see me again?”
very much,” he assures you, and his other hand reaches forward and now he’s
clasping your hand between his and his mouth is pressed against your knuckles.
It’s awfully kiss-like, you think, and you don’t want to blush. “I’ve an idea!
Let’s set a date!”
date?” That word seems like a double-edged sword. And you like it.
he says, quite resolutely. “We’ll be well and done by then, won’t we?”
you agree, as if you know anything about his troubles back home. You can only
assume that he knows his own business.
15th. We’ll meet right here at… noon, exactly, and we’ll
congratulate each other for surviving and I’ll bring you flowers and we’ll make
a day of it.”
try not to suck in a breath because that sounds perfect and you have never been
given such a strong motivation to get through anything. “Yes. Yes.”
He nods, looking pleased with himself (he ought to be). “I’ll bring you… roses.
Romantic flowers, yes?”
only nod because he just said that he’s going to bring you romantic roses. Is
he trying to kill you with sweetness?
we meet again, I might be…” And here, the Doctor trails off and looks so very
apologetic before continuing. “I might be different. What I have to do, it’s
dangerous. I might…”
not stupid. Between the lines, he’s saying that he might die, or at least come
back so changed that it simply won’t be the same. You don’t care. Or, you do,
but you can’t hold it against him and he’s got you convinced that he wants to
see you as much as you want to see him, so you promise him that you don’t mind
and you won’t turn him away if he changes. His smile is a little tight (he
doesn’t quite believe you and you don’t blame him because people make those
impossible promises all the time), but it is
a smile and he does look somewhat relieved.
get up, he opens the door for you, and you both stand on the sidewalk, knowing
that you have to leave but not wanting to part ways.
I go…” The words make him frown but he shakes his head and takes your hand in
his again. “You can get through this. You’re strong. I can tell. I’m good with
people, and you’re the strong sort of person. You’ll make it with strength left
Doctor bends down in a half-bow, kisses the top of your hand (holds on and on and
on and for a second you think that he might be deciding to stay after all).
darling,” he says to you, and then disappears into the crowd.
mark August 15th on your calendar.
August 15th, there’s a man in the shop and he’s holding two red
roses in his hand, but he’s not the Doctor. He can’t be. They don’t look a
look fantastic (because this time you are absolutely sure that you left the
house looking amazing). You had been looking forward to this day and now it’s
here and it’s exactly twelve o’clock but the Doctor’s not here. And the man,
with the roses, he’s staring at you. He looks sad.
slide into the seat across from him, because it’s the only free seat and you
have a suspicion and you need a closer look at him.
eyes are older, and a different color, and a different shape, but you know them. And he smiles at you, and that’s different too, but you recognize the tentative hope there.
But you haven’t rebutted my argument.”
“Which is what? That humanity is fundamentally base and needs to be controlled? That a democratic society with civil liberties is a society with social inequality and crime, whereas a police state, by silencing its dissidents, can guarantee a rough egalitarianism and public safety - so that a poet’s freedom to be subversive is invariably bought by the suffering of the poor? That the rule of the people too easily becomes the rule of the mob? That the centre of every human being is self-interest and even virtue is corrupt? That they are animals whose moral sense degenerates as soon as their bellies aren’t full? That idealism has killed as many as viciousness and there is no philosophy, however noble, that can’t be turned to depraved ends? That people will always fear, and as long as they fear they will hate?
"There is ample evidence for the truth of everything you’ve just said. History makes my case for me. Can you, in all intellectual honesty, deny it?”
“Then why?” said Sabbath, genuinely puzzled. “You’re not stupid about these matters. You’re not starry-eyed, or basically impractical. You can see what reality is. Why don’t you accept it?”
The Doctor was sitting back in his chair, his clasped hands resting against his chest. “Because I prefer not to.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Because I don’t, won’t accept it. I don’t approve. Injustice is the rule, but I want justice. Suffering is the rule, but I want to end it. Despair accords with reality, but I insist on hope. I don’t accept it, because it is unacceptable. I say no.
Why would I want to return here? When all my heroes are so damn disappointing? Omega: a madman sold out by his peers. Morbius: Timelord of the first rank betrays his heritage. Barusa: My old friend, teacher, and mentor–all he wants is immortality. And Rassilon,oh Rassilon–the father of our whole society–a bigoted despot so consumed by love for his own self-image that he sentences the future to death. Who’s next? Hmm? You, Madame President? Is that what a sniff of power on your pathetic planet does? Enjoy your corruption, Romana. I don’t want to see or hear anything of Gallifrey ever again.
You feel that pounding in your heart? That tightness in the pit of your stomach? The blood rushing to your head, do you know what that is? That’s adventure. The thrill and the fear and the joy of stepping into the unknown. That’s why we’re all here, and that’s why we’re alive.