Pairing: Tenth Doctor/John Smith
Fandom: Doctor Who
Prompt: 39, Belief
Author's Note: Slight spoilers for Human Nature and The Family Blood. This is an alternate version of events in those episodes. Continuation of It's A Sin.
Disclaimer: This is entirely a product of my own imagination, and I make no profit from it. I do not own the Tenth Doctor or John Smith. Please do not sue.
***The Doctor looked down at the psychic paper in his hand, the message from Jack unmistakable. He couldn't have picked a worse time to call the Doctor if he'd tried to; things with John were still feeling strained, even after another night together.
He was sure that he was winning in the battle for John's heart; the young teacher had professed his love for the Doctor again before the Time Lord had left his room that morning, seeming to let him go reluctantly. And the few times that he'd managed to catch John's eye during the day, they had shared a secret smile that made the Doctor's hearts race.
If only he could ignore Jack's summons, the Time Lord thought, looking down at the psychic paper again. He wished with all his heart that he could, in good conscience, let Jack handle whatever problem he was having on his own, and stay here with John. But he had a responsibility to his friends -- a responsibility that he couldn't turn his back on.
Could this have come at a more inopportune time? he thought bitterly, clenching his small fists and resisting the urge to stamp his feet and shriek in frustration. This wasn't a good time for him to leave John, not even for a day or two. He had no idea how long he would be gone -- and that could destroy his relationship with his lover for good.
It would be far too easy for people to brainwash John back into that ridiculous attitude that loving a man was wrong and sinful -- and the Doctor was sure that horrible woman, the one who tried to cling to John as though she was his watchdog, would be first in line to rip their relationship to shreds in any way she could. He couldn't leave. It was too risky.
But he had to. He had no choice in the matter, as far as he could see. He'd told Jack to contact him via the psychic paper if he was needed -- and he knew that Jack wouldn't do so without good cause.
The Doctor bit down savagely on his lower lip to keep himself from crying, trying to hold back the tears that were rising and threatening to spill over. What if he left, and couldn't come back for weeks? What if John changed his mind about their relationship while he was gone? What if he lost the man he loved because of this?
No. John wouldn't do that, he told himself, clenching his fists again and trying to calm his racing heartbeats. John was a level-headed young man; he wasn't going to turn his back on someone he loved just because they had to leave for a while. He would be faithful -- the Doctor was sure of it. He would be waiting when the Time Lord returned.
Of course, he could arrange it so that no matter how long he was gone, he would come back only a matter of days later to John's time. What could be weeks, or even longer, for him would be only a matter of a few days for the man he loved. He wasn't going to let John think that he'd been abandoned, that the Doctor wasn't coming back.
He took a deep breath, closing his eyes and trying to push down his rising fear. The hardest part of this would be leaving John behind, even if it was only temporary. But it would be just as hard to tell his lover that he had to leave.
How would John feel? What would he think? Would he believe that the Doctor was leaving him, that he'd been seduced and abandoned? No, he wasn't going to let the man he loved think that, not even for a second. He would have to make it crystal-clear to John that this was only temporary, for a few days, and that he would be back.
The Doctor sighed, looking towards the light seeping under the closed door that led to John's room. They could have one more night together before he left; a night that would have to last him for however long he was gone. He would make it special, make sure that John would look forward to his return.
And when he did return -- he would take John away with him. Somehow, he would manage to make John understand that they couldn't stay here, that there were better things for both of them in other places, places that he'd never dreamed of. And he would show John the Tardis, and explain what life would be like with him.
It wouldn't be easy for a man of John's time to understand, but he had faith in his lover. He was one of the most intelligent men the Doctor had ever met; he would come to understand all that was presented to him, even though he would obviously be overwhelmed at first. But staying here was out of the question. There was nothing here for either of them.
He would simply have to make John understand that he was coming back, that this would only be for a few days at most. And then .... he would have to be very, very careful to come back to a point in time that would only be a few days after he'd left. Then he could take his lover away with him, to a life that would offer him so much more than this one ever could.
Having made his decision, he headed purposefully for the closed door, hesitating for only a moment before opening it and stepping into John's room. The other man turned from his desk when he heard the Doctor enter, smiling and holding out a hand to the Time Lord. Crossing the room, the Doctor took John's hand in his own, leaning down to brush a kiss across his cheek.
"I've waited all day to have some private time with you," John said softly, reaching out to run gentle fingertips down the Doctor's cheek. "All I've been able to think about all day is kissing you .... touching you."
The Doctor folded John into his arms, closing his eyes and wishing with every fiber of his being that he didn't have to leave. But if he didn't .... then he would have failed in his duty to his friends, to people who might need him. And that would make him unworthy of being with a man like John -- unworthy of having John's love.
"You've been on my mind all day too, love," he whispered, trying to force down the lump in his throat. This was going to be one of the hardest things he'd ever had to do, to tell John that he was leaving. But he would be back, he reminded himself, in only a few days of John's time. It wouldn't be for long -- at least, not for the other man.
John pulled back slightly, a frown crossing his features. "What is it? What's wrong?" His voice held an edge of panic, as though he was ready to pull away from the Doctor completely. The Time Lord hastened to reassure him, not wanting John to jump to conclusions before he'd explained the situation to him somewhat.
"Shhhh, love, it's all right." He wanted to soothe John as much as possible, but he didn't know if he'd be able to do so or not once he'd made his announcement. The last thing he wanted to do was to hurt John, or make him feel as though he was being abandoned; he only hoped that he could explain things well enough to allay whatever fears the other man might have.
"Something's wrong. I can tell. It's in your eyes." John pulled away from him, his face pale, his hands clutching the Doctor's shoulders. "What's happened? Have you changed your mind about me? About ...." He swallowed, his eyes filling with tears. "-- About us?"
"No, I haven't," the Doctor whispered, pulling John back into his arms and holding him close. This was going to be so much harder than he'd anticipated; he hadn't thought that John would be like this, wanting to be close, needing him to stay. If only he didn't have to do this .... but he had some responsibilities that he couldn't turn his back on. He had to make John understand that.
"John, I .... I have to leave for a few days," he said quietly, wishing that there was an easier way to break this news to his lover. It would sound harsh to John, he was sure, after their closeness of the past two nights. He wouldn't blame the other man if he felt abandoned, even though that wasn't his intention in the slightest.
"Leave? Wh-what do you mean?" John was stammering now, his face even paler, chalk-white. The Doctor guided him to the bed, sitting down and pulling John down along with him. He kept one arm around the other man, hoping that John wouldn't pull away; he looked as though he would faint at any moment, his skin clammy, his breathing ragged.
"It's only for a few days, love." The Doctor turned to face John, taking his lover's face between his hands and forcing the other man to look at him. "It's only temporary, I swear. I'll be back, John. I promise you that. I would never leave you without coming back, you have to know that. I have some things to take care of, and then I can come back to you -- permanently."
John didn't answer; the Doctor could feel his slender shoulders shaking, and he instinctively pulled John closer to him. "Don't cry, love," he whispered, wanting to cry himself as the guilt of knowing that his words had hurt John enough to make him weep swept over him. If only there was a way for him to do this without inflicting pain on the man he loved.
"Please don't leave me," John sobbed, his arms tightening around the Doctor's waist. "I'm not strong enough to stand up to everyone who insists that you and I are wrong if you're not here. I'm not like you, Doctor -- I don't have your strength. I love you, more than I ever thought I could love, but .... I can't do this without you. I can't."
"It's only for a few days, John. I can promise you that. No more than three at the most -- and then I'll be back for you." The Doctor gathered John as close to him as he could, wishing with every fiber of his being that he could find the words to reassure his lover. "I'll come back, and we'll leave. We'll go somewhere to be together without having to worry about what people think of us."
"I don't think there's a place like that in the world," John said, sniffling and clinging to the Doctor. "Everyone believes that what we mean to each other is wrong. We can't just change people's opinions in the blink of an eye, Doctor. If only we could."
"There are places where people aren't so censorious, John, I can promise you that," the Doctor told him, pulling back slightly to press gentle kisses over John's face, kissing away his tears. "I swear, I'll come back for you. I would never leave you, John. Never. I need to do this, to tie up some loose ends away from here -- and then, there's nothing to keep us from being together."
"I believe you," John whispered, his voice barely audible in the stillness of the room. "I have to believe you, Doctor. You're all I have to hold on to -- I feel as if I'm walking on quicksand, that I might sink at any moment. You're what keeps me on solid ground. Loving you and believing that we have a future."
"Of course we do, my love," the Doctor said softly, feeling a lump forming in his own throat. He knew that John loved him -- he hadn't doubted that. But hearing these words from him, knowing that John was so committed to him, humbled him in a way he'd never felt before. "It's only for a few days, I promise. I'll be counting the hours from the moment I leave until I get back."
"Only for a few days?" John's voice still sounded wavery, but his tears had stopped. He was still locked in the Doctor's embrace, thin arms around his waist as though he didn't want to let the Time Lord go. "I-I can survive without you for that long -- just please, please promise me you'll be back." His voice was starting to tremble again, and the Doctor hastened to reassure him.
"Of course I will, love." The Doctor tilted John's face up to his own, wiping away the wetness below his eyes with the pads of his thumbs. "I'll only be gone for a few days -- and when I come back, we can go away together. And until then .... we have tonight to spend together, sweetheart. We can make a few memories to last the three days until I see you again."
"We should begin working on those memories, shouldn't we?" John whispered, his dark eyes meeting the Doctor's.
"Yes, I think we should," the Time Lord whispered, pushing John back on the pillows and leaning over him. He reached for the buttons of John's shirt as their lips met, fumbling with them and pushing the fabric aside, letting his hands move down the other man's slender body.
How would he survive without this? he thought to himself, almost wanting to dissolve into tears, or tell John that he wouldn't go. But he had to. It was a choice that he'd made long ago, to be there for his friends if any of them called for him and needed his help. And it wouldn't be for long, he told himself; longer for him than for John, but hopefully, he'd be able to return quickly.
Reaching over John to switch off the lamp on the desk, he looked down at his love, taking in the features that he loved. This would be the last night he would have with John, at least for a while -- and he intended to savor every moment of it, and make it memorable for the both of them.
***Next story in series - Return To Me.
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