Title: Living Under Rocks
Pairing: Tenth Doctor/Ross Jenkins
Fandom: Doctor Who
Table: Cadenza challenge, 5_prompts
Prompt: Second verse -- Beneath the glass
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 Ross Jenkins, just borrowing them for a while. Please do not sue.
***Ross sighed and stretched his arms over his head, leaning back in the comfortable library chair and closing his eyes. The Doctor looked up from the book he was reading, watching his young lover with a slight smile curving his lips.
"Tired, love?" he asked softly, wondering if this was their cue to stand up and head for the bedroom. It had been a couple of days since they'd made love, and he was fairly sure that Ross meant to put an end to that tonight and be more physical.
Ross shook his head, smiling at his lover. "No, not really," he said, his gaze sweeping around the room before coming to rest on the Time Lord again. "I was just thinking about how well I seem to fit in here. How much I feel at home on the Tardis."
"If you didn't, then something would be terribly wrong," the Doctor told him with a soft laugh. "The Tardis is very sensitive to who's on board, Ross. If there was something evil hidden within you, she would know. And she would find a way to let me know."
"I don't think there's anything evil lurking around me," Ross laughed, shaking his head. "That's not what I meant. I mean that this is the first place I've been in a long time where I didn't feel that there was a barrier between me and the rest of the world."
"I've felt that way about a lot of places, too," the Doctor murmured, instantly understanding what Ross was feeling. "It's as though you're living under rocks, isn't it? As if you're an outcast, and nothing that you do is ever quite the right thing, no matter how hard you try."
"Yes, that's it exactly," Ross said, nodding. "But it's more like being beneath a pane of glass. Like that guy in the old movie Vampyr, when he's buried alive and there's a pane of glass right over his face in the coffin, but no one can hear him and he's separated from the world."
The Doctor shuddered at the thought, a look of distaste crossing his face. "I don't know that I'd put it quite so graphically, but yes, that's how it feels. As if you're existing on the same plane with everyone else, but you can't manage to reach them."
"And no matter how hard you try to get through to everyone around you, they never really seem like they understand what you're saying -- or like they want to." Ross sighed again, leaning back in the chair and looking up at the ceiling. "But I don't get that feeling here."
"The glass has broken, and you've stepped out from behind it?" the Doctor suggested, smiling. He hoped that was the case; he didn't want Ross to feel unhappy in any way. He'd given this young man a second chance at life, and he wanted his lover to embrace that life fully.
"It's more like the glass has just disappeared, and I'm not trapped beneath it any more," Ross said, a musing look on his face. "If it was broken, then I'd have the shards all over me, and I think that would make me feel awfully uncomfortable. But I'm not."
"I'm glad you're not uncomfortable here, love," the Doctor said softly, reaching out to place his hand on Ross' where it lay on the arm of the chair. "I want you to feel that the Tardis is your home, and always will be. You'll never be confined under glass here."
"Where were you when you felt like that?" Ross asked, curious about the Doctor's past. His dark gaze fixed on the Time Lord's face, not looking away. "If you don't want to talk about it, you don't have to. I'd just like to know more about what your past was like."
"I felt like that on my home planet, most of the time," the Doctor told him, his voice lowering, his gaze focused on the floor. "I never fit in there, Ross. Even when I was a child, I was always different. Though I think that a lot of it had to do with the fact that I'm half-human."
"So you were an outcast from the rest of the kids there, because of your heritage?" Ross' tone was indignant; it was obvious that he thought this was monstrously unfair. "That's how humans behave, too. Gallifreyans weren't so different from us."
The Doctor nodded, a wry smile curving his lips. "You're exactly right. I don't think that sort of prejudice is uncommon in any culture, no matter what world and what race might happen to show it. But unfortunately, Gallifreyans were very xenophobic."
"It's a pity that your people had to be like that," Ross murmured, wishing that things could have been different for the Doctor. This man deserved to have had a happy childhood, not to have felt like an outcast simply because he was different.
But how many people felt like that, either on Earth or on other planets? he wondered. Still, it was a relief to know that he wasn't the only person who'd felt as though he'd lived a good portion of his life trapped beneath glass that separated him from the rest of the world.
No matter what planet someone was on, they could still feel alienated from everything around them, he told himself. The Doctor was proof of that. Maybe that was part of what had drawn them to each other, and why they fit so well together.
"I tried to fit in with my society, in every way I could think of," he said, shaking his head. "Even to the point of joining the military. But I never did. Even when I was a soldier, I didn't quite march in step with everyone else. I was always different."
"As was I," the Doctor told him, squeezing his hand gently. "As are a lot of other people inthe world. You aren't the only one who feels like that, Ross. I'm just glad that you feel comfortable here. This is your home now, after all."
"There isn't any glass here," Ross said, smiling contentedly. "I might feel like I'm a little removed from the rest fo the world, but that isn't such a bad thing now. When I was alone, it was terrible -- but when someone is in sync with you, that glass isn't unbreakable."
"For me, it was never a pane of glass -- it was rocks that I hid under, to obscure my view of what everyone else had and I thought would never be mine," the Doctor murmured, thinking back on his past. "But you know, I didn't have to keep living under rocks. I did it to myself."
"You could have used those rocks to break the glass -- because I'm sure that it was there," Ross said, his voice soft and husky. "Everyone who feels like they're out of step with the world has that pane of glass in their way. They just have to figure out how to get around it."
"I think that being beneath glass is better than hiding under a rock," the Doctor answered, a small smile flitting across his features. "At least you can see what's going on around you, even if you don't feel that you're a part of it. You're not hiding from the world in general."
"I can't imagine you ever hiding from the world," Ross protested, shaking his head. "You're too aware of everything that goes on around you for that, Doctor. You might have done it at one time, but you'd never go back to that kind of existence again."
"I never will," the Doctor told him, his voice firm and strong. "I've had enough of living like that. I left it behind a long time ago, and I'll never go back to it. And I hope you won't either, Ross. You deserve to feel that you're a integral part of the world, not separated from it."
"I doubt that I'll ever feel like I'm being kept beneath glass again, now that I'm here where I belong," Ross murmured. As he spoke, the smile on the Doctor's face told him that there was one person in the world who no barrier could ever keep away from him.
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