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A Road That's Quietly Caving In

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He'd forgotten again. Forgotten deliberately? He didn't know anymore. All he knew was what he was now, Doctor no more, but warrior. He was what he needed to be, what he'd been trying so hard not to be, what he'd always been afraid of; someone who could end the war. But that wasn't all he needed to be, no. That's what he'd forgotten. As he opened the doors to the TARDIS, already preparing himself for what was to come, he met the startled eyes of Fitz.

***

The man in front of him wasn't the Doctor.

"Doctor?" Fitz asked anyway.

"The Doctor is dead."

The man in front of him was the Doctor. He was wearing the Doctor's clothes, for one, and besides that, Fitz would know the Doctor anywhere, apparently even when he was wearing an unfamiliar face.

"You might have a bit of a rough time flying this thing, then." Fitz leaned on the console, trying to hide how his legs suddenly felt like they'd give at any second. "She doesn't much care for anyone but the Doctor."

As a joke, it fell completely flat. As an indicator of the Doctor's frame of mind, it was illuminating. The Doctor, as he'd been before, would have laughed or made some silly remark. Even with everything going on, he'd always managed to retain a sense of optimism and levity. This Doctor clearly had neither at the moment.

"She'll always fly for me, even if I'm somebody else."

He was gruff and stoic, showing no signs of the enthusiasm for life that Fitz had always loved about the Doctor. Fitz's stomach lurched at the realization that this Doctor really was nothing like his friend. He'd known it was a possibility, one the Doctor had explained after they'd had one too many close calls in a row, but it had never seemed likely before. Now, it was all too real.

"Then who are you, if you're not the Doctor?"

"That remains to be seen."

With that, the Doctor walked past him, heading further into the TARDIS. Fitz let go of the console, sinking slowly to the floor with an impending sense of dread.

***

It was nearly a full day after Fitz pried himself off the floor of the console room and made his way back to his bedroom that he finally emerged, unsure what to make of the continued silence. He'd honestly expected the Doctor to try to kick him out before now, as he had so many times since the war started, but he'd not even seen so much as a glimpse of the other man after that first meeting. After spending so long alone in his room with only his thoughts for company, Fitz was willing to risk going through that fight again, even if he was pretty sure this Doctor was a lot more likely to follow through on just leaving him behind at their next stop.

He started out tiptoeing out of his room before he realized that he was being silly; no amount of keeping quiet or making himself scarce was going to change whatever happened next. Everything was quiet, so Fitz made his way to the console room, figuring that was where he was most likely to find the Doctor; it was a pretty good bet these days.

The Doctor was staring at a readout on the console, looking sad. Fitz's stomach sank, because that was a look he'd come to associate with the war. The Doctor glanced up briefly as Fitz wandered over to stand at his side, even though he knew he wouldn't be able to make sense of whatever the Doctor was looking at.

"It's the Time Lords."

Shit. It was always worse when it was them; somehow, even after everything, the Doctor still expected them to be better than the Daleks. Well, they usually were at least slightly better, but not enough to make a difference. They were still willing to wipe out entire civilizations if it kept the Daleks from gaining a major strategic advantage.

Fitz ran a hand through his hair. "What are they trying to do this time?"

"Blow up the capitol building of a civilization that's about to surrender to Dalek forces," he said, shutting off the readout and going to root around in a cupboard Fitz had never seen before. He emerged a moment later with a plain-looking satchel, which he handed to Fitz before opening the TARDIS doors. "Keep that safe, and don't stray too far."

Fitz had an almost overwhelming urge to check the contents, but before he had the chance, the Doctor was rushing out, and Fitz was running after him.

***

It wasn't until they were deep within the numerous halls of the capitol that the Doctor asked for the satchel, and Fitz passed it over without a second thought. Of course, they were being shot at at the time, so he didn't have a lot else on his mind, but he was still shocked when the Doctor pulled out what looked like - and proved to be - a laser gun. He didn't actually shoot anyone with it, thank God, but the mere fact that he had it was worrisome, enough so that Fitz was slower on the uptake than he should have been, and the Doctor was running away, well down the corridor, before Fitz realized what was going on. And then he was scrambling after the Doctor, running for his life, in fact, because the Doctor had definitely just shot the bomb the Time Lords had left in the building.

He caught up to the Doctor eventually, and they streaked down the empty corridors, clearing the building not long before an ominous rumbling started. Luckily, the TARDIS wasn't far, and they made it inside before the actual explosion and subsequent raining rubble.

Fitz collapsed next to the door, sliding down the wall until he was sat on the floor, panting for breath. A moment later, the Doctor slid down next to him, barely winded and grinning like a loon. That smile was the same as it'd ever been, and Fitz was just a bit startled to find that it had the same effect on him as it always had, too - in that moment, he wanted very badly to kiss the Doctor.

In the past, it'd been a fleeting desire, there in the moment and gone (pushed aside, if he was being honest with himself) once the excitement and adrenaline wore off. It would probably be gone any minute now, too, once the Doctor got up and started in on the business of figuring out where they should go next. And Fitz was suddenly scared of that, of losing what he felt for the Doctor, and most definitely of the reverse. He didn't want this feeling to go away as it had so many times before, was tired of shoving it away, and without making a conscious decision to do so, he leaned over and kissed the Doctor.

It was odd at first, what with the fact that he'd clearly surprised them both, but once the Doctor started kissing back, it got a whole lot more interesting. Fitz's stomach swooped the same way it had when they'd been running from the building, and he shifted himself until he was straddling the Doctor's legs, making things a fair bit easier.

Fitz didn't know how long they sat there like that, but it must have been quite some time, because when he finally pulled away, his knees were aching from resting on the floor so long. "I don't suppose you'd like to take this back to my room?"

"I-" The Doctor's voice was raspy, and he broke off to clear his throat. "I would be delighted."

Fitz didn't immediately get up, too taken aback by the ready acquiescence to realize that he needed to move. "I, ah, right."

Fitz scrambled to his feet, and the Doctor followed suit, keeping close behind Fitz as they made their way to his room. When the got there, Fitz froze, unsure what to do now that they were here, apparently doing this, when he'd never imagined anything beyond what they'd already done.

Thankfully, the Doctor seemed to realize this and pulled Fitz in close. "Are you sure you want to do this?"

For some reason, just knowing that the Doctor cared enough to ask was all it took to get him moving again. "I'm sure," he said, before pulling the Doctor over to the bed.

***

Fitz woke up with a start the next morning, and it took him a moment to remember that things were different. The first clue, of course, was the arm thrown over his waist, and moving as carefully as possible, Fitz shifted until he could see the Doctor, who was thankfully still asleep. The night before had been...unexpected, that was for sure, but despite everything, somehow still exactly what he might have imagined had he given it any serious thought before.

It was fun in a way the Doctor had slowly been moving away from for some time. And with this new Doctor...well, this new Doctor was more like the old than he'd credited. Maybe there was still hope he wouldn't become as hardened as he'd initially seemed. Fitz could only hope.

After lying in bed for longer than he probably should have, Fitz was eventually driven to get up by his stomach protesting the fact that he hadn't eaten in far too long. He thought he'd slid out of bed carefully enough not to wake the Doctor, but as he was buttoning his jeans and searching for yesterday's shirt - no sense in dirtying a new one when he desperately needed a shower - he noticed that the Doctor was watching him, smiling and seemingly fascinated.

Fitz couldn't help jumping, startled, before turning away to hide the fact that his face was suddenly flaming red. "You, uh, you're awake."

"What a brilliant observation."

Fitz turned around just enough to catch the Doctor in his peripheral, unable to keep from answering his smile with a silly grin. "Never stop smiling, Doc; it's a good look on you, always has been."

Fitz spied his shirt tucked down between the bed the and the nightstand, and as he reached for it, the Doctor reached out and snagged a belt loop, pulling him off balance, and toppling him back into bed.

"I won't, Fitz. I won't."