Title: Strong Enough
Pairing: Tenth Doctor/Ross Jenkins
Fandom: Doctor Who
Table: G5, 5_prompts
Prompt: 1, Strong enough
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.
***"How do you face all of this on a daily basis, for as long as you have?" Ross asked as he turned to the Doctor. They had just come back into the Tardis after seeing yet another planet that had been devastated by its own people, and the young man was obviously shaken.
The Doctor sighed, going to the console and pressing the buttons that would send the ship back into the timestream. "I've been seeing things like this for a very long time, Ross. I won't that they don't affect me at all, but I've learned to steel myself for the sight."
"I don't think I can," Ross murmured, shaking his head. "I know I used to be a solider, and that I should be prepared to see things like this -- some people would say that I'm one of those who makes things like this happen. But I can't get used to seeing the aftermath."
"That's a good thing," the Doctor told him, turning towards him with another soft sigh. "If this didn't have any effect on you at all, I don't think you'd be the kind of person I want to have as a companion. I don't get along well with people who have no compassion."
"That's definitely not me." Ross's reply was firm and definite. "Even when I was a soldier, I didn't have that kind of an attitude. I always cared about the people who were left in the aftermath of violence. And I never believed in hurting people."
"I know you did." The Doctor held out a hand to his young companion, smiling as he did. "I could sense that in you when we first met. And that's why I wanted you to be here with me. There was an affinity between us right from the beginning."
Ross nodded as he joined the Doctor at the console, looking down at the viewscreen with a sigh. "Yes, there was. I wanted to be with you from the first time I saw you," he said, glancing at the Doctor and then looking away again. "I thought that was fairly obvious."
"It wasn't -- not at first," the Doctor laughed, leaning against the console and crossing his arms over his chest. "But you know me -- I was sure that you would ultimately end up appreciating my charms and decide to come away with me."
"You know me too well!" Ross said with a laugh, looking over at the Time Lord. He quickly sobered again as he returned his gaze to the viewscreen. "All joking aside, sometimes I wonder if I'm strong enough to be your companion."
"What do you mean by that?" the Doctor asked, a sharp, brittle edge to his voice. "Do you want me to take you back to Earth already?" He moved away from Ross, as though he was trying to put some physical distance between himself and the young man.
"No!" Ross was quick to deny the Doctor's words. "Don't ever think that. I want to be here -- with you. But I'm having a hard time seeing things like this." He waved a hand at the viewscreen, even though the planet was no longer visible there.
The Doctor nodded, moving back to the console and laying a hand on Ross' shoulder. "I know that it's hard to see things like that and accept the fact that you can't do anything to change it," he said softly, his gaze meeting the other man's. "But neither of us have a choice."
Ross nodded slowly, reaching out to thread his fingers through the Doctor's. "No, I guess we don't," he said, his tone regretful. "We can't save everybody, can we? That was one of the first things I learned when I was a soldier. Not to feel guilty about the ones I couldn't save."
"You have to concentrate on the ones you can save," the Doctor told him, his voice husky. "I know what it's like to feel that guilt, Ross. I've felt it for a long time -- longer than you can possibly begin to imagine. And it never quite goes away."
"You don't feel like you're strong enough to deal with seeing things like that sometimes either," Ross said, the words not a question but a statement. "If you did think you were, then you wouldn'f keep feeling guilty."
"You learn to be strong enough," the Doctor sighed, glancing back at the viewscreen, noting that the planet had disappeared from view. "But the guilt never quite leaves. You always want to save every person in every situation, even when you know it isn't possible."
"It isn't easy, I know," Ross said, his voice unsteady. "I learned that firsthand the first time I had to see any kind of devastation on Earth. And I was at Canary Wharf, too. That's the worst thing I've ever seen. It almost made me turn my back on the military."
"You'll see a lot of things that may make you want to do that," the Doctor told him, frowning. "I don't like the military, Ross, you may as well know that. I think they're usually too quick to resort to violence rather than trying to resolve situations by compromise."
"To be really honest, I don't like it either," Ross said quietly. "But being a solider was the only thing I felt I was any good at. I thought that at least the military would have one person in it that wasn't ready to meet any situation with violence instead of common sense."
"You're wrong about that," the Doctor protested, shaking his head. "You'd be good at a lot of things, I'm sure. I don't believe that being a solider is the only thing you could do, Ross. There's much more to you than you might be willing or ready to see."
"I've never been much good at anything other than mucking things up," Ross muttered, not meeting the Doctor's eyes. "It wasn't until I was accepted into military school that I felt I had found a place I belonged. Even if I didn't agree with all of their principles."
"I don't believe that." The Time Lord's voice was firm, brooking no opposition. "I think you're going to find yourself while you're with me, Ross. And you're going to discover that you can do much more than be a soldier. I have no doubts about that."
"In some ways, I feel like I'm still a soldier," Ross murmured, looking down at the floor. "I'm still in the front lines -- and I haven't had a chance to relax. Do you think the next time we go to a new planet, we can try to find a place that's quiet and peaceful?"
"I do indeed," the Doctor told him, going to console and studying it. "There are so many pleasure planets in the galaxy -- I'm sure that I can find one you'd like to visit. And --" He turned to look at Ross again, a smile spreading across his features -- "we can have some time to ourselves."
"I think we're overdue for a bit of that," Ross said, an answering smile on his face. "We've been saying how attracted we are to each other -- but we haven't followed through on those words yet. Don't you think it's past time we did something about that."
"Oh, I definitely do," the Doctor told him, beaming as he punched in a few coordinates. When he turned back to Ross, the look on the young man's face made his hearts thump more rapidly -- and made him mentally count the minutes until they would arrive at their destination.
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