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Zum Abschied

Rating: G
#025 - Strangers
The Time War
Table: Here
Spoilers: None
Characters: Fitz, the Doctor (10), (Jack)
Summary: Once, when he's feeling down, Fitz has a conversation with a stranger who can't help him.
Note: It helps if you know the Eight Doctor Novel 'Demontage'.
I have only read a few of the novels, and in neither of them was clearly stated weather or not Fitz actually spoke German. If you happen to know that he does - ignore it. In this pointless story he doesn't.

The guy was staring at him. Fitz was sure. He tried not to look back and ended up staring himself, naturally.

The bar wasn’t all that full, but he was sitting in a corner where he’d hoped to be invisible. Usually he’d come to such places to meet chicks, but today he wasn’t in the mood. Today he just wanted to get drunk and mourn his miserable life.

Which wasn’t so miserable at all. He was young – or at least not old – had money, something resembling a job he could tolerate, he wasn’t in love, which made things easier. Every now and then he dated a girl, sometimes more often than twice. He was living in the flipping future, which was pretty cool, and an improvement to his former existence. He was, in fact, living the life he’d dreamed of. Once.

But not anymore.

Most of the time it was enough. Now and then, though, he felt the loss, felt what he lacked and missed, and now and then it was unbearable.

He didn’t curl up on the bed and cry, because he was too manly for a thing like that. Instead he went to the nearest bar, his mind set on the goal of getting terribly drunk. Unfortunately he already knew that it wouldn’t be enough to distract him, but he couldn’t come up with anything better.

This place he’d chosen because it was usually male territory – no risk of getting chatted up by an attractive girl and feel bad for turning her down later. Because things like that happened to him all the time. Of course.

The two men at the table near the counter didn’t seem to be looking for chicks either. Actually they seemed quite content looking at each other. Suspender-man at least hardly ever took his eyes off his companion and Fitz secretly thought that they were probably doing it in private. Whatever ‘it’ would be in the end. He grimaced. This was a place he didn’t want his thoughts to go.

Naturally they did.

The two guys were dinking their drinks and chatting happily, though Fitz couldn’t understand their words and wasn’t interested either. Occasionally they laughed. Which meant they were probably talking about him. Just perfect.

And then the skinny guy spotted him, and didn’t seem able to take his eyes off since. Again and again he turned his head to openly stare in his direction. Fitz knew, because he was staring himself. When he noticed that he quickly looked down – better not give that guy any false ideas. Besides, his partner looked rather strong and Fitz had seen him scowl in his direction once he noticed his friend’s drifting attention.

He concentrated on his drink for almost half a minute. Then he looked up again, just to see if they had left by now.

Luck seemed on his side: Mr Skinny was just getting up. But instead of leaving he leaned forward to quietly speak to the other, who nodded silently. Then Mr Suspenders got up again and paid for their drinks while his friend wandered over to Fitz’ table.

Fitz tried to hide behind his glass and turn invisible. This had never worked so far, but he wasn’t one to give up hope.

Except he had. That was why he was here.

“Hey,” the thin stranger said, granting Fitz a bright and happy smile. “Lange nicht gesehen! Wie geht’s dir?”

The first thing Fitz thought was that only because the father you’ve never known was German, that didn’t mean you spoke the language. The second was: ‘How the hell did he guess? Is it written on my forehead?’

He resisted the urge to reach up and check. During his childhood it occasionally had been written on his forehead.

Or on other parts of his body.

“Yeah?” he grumbled, doing his best to look discouragingly grumpy and unwilling to admit that he hadn’t understood anything after the ‘hey’. “Anything I can do for you?”

“Not at all,” the stranger beamed and, entirely un-discouraged, sat down on the other chair. “It just seemed you could use some company.”

“Uh…” Fitz gulped. “Thanks, but I’m really not into that sort of thing.” He eyed the man carefully. He didn’t look strong enough to beat him up if he got upset, a definite plus. “Besides, won’t your friend get lonely?”

His friend seemed to have left.

“Don’t worry about him, he’s quite fine on his own.” At least the guy didn’t seem bothered by Fitz’s rejection. He was still smiling. Yet Fitz’s eyes travelled from that smile to eyes that were dark and older than his face. They reminded him of something he couldn’t place.

“I’m quite fine, thanks,” he once again tried to get rid of him, suddenly feeling lost. “I’ve come to be on my own, actually.”

“You don’t look that fine,” the man insisted. “Everything alright? There must be a reason for you to want to drown your sorrow.”

“Just the usual, really.” ‘And it’s none of your business.’ Somehow Fitz found he couldn’t say the last part. He’d wished for distraction and here it was. He’d longed, he realised, for a friend to talk to, not just a glass of beer, and here was a stranger willing to listen. Unfortunately he wasn’t the right kind of man for personal conversations with strangers.

But he looked into eyes that were unfamiliar and alien and felt at home. Maybe it was the alcohol.

“Who are you, anyway?” he asked, rather rudely, to shake that feeling off.

“I’m just passing by,” Mr Skinny smiled. “I simply wanted to make sure you’re okay, since you looked so unhappy.”

And Fitz still couldn’t shake off the suspicion the man wanted to chat him up. Still, it’d been a long time since anyone cared for his feelings.

“I am a bit upset,” he admitted, and added quickly: “Not that it was any concern of yours.”

But the other man merely waited in silence until he’d stopped scowling at him.

“Streit mit der Freundin?“ he asked, a hint of amusement in his voice, but it didn’t cut. “Girlfriend troubles?”

“What girlfriend?” Fitz grumbled.


“No, that’s not it.”

“So? Money? Work?”

The man sounded genuinely interested, as if he’d be able to help if only he found out what the problem was, and his dark eyes never left Fitz. Eyes that smiled at him but not really, that hid so much from view and seemed bottomless and old. It was the eyes, Fitz decided, that made him feel like this, because they reminded him of…

“I couldn’t save a friend,” he said before he knew it.

This brought a look of surprise to the stranger’s face.

“Oh,” he said. And then: “What happened?”

Fitz shrugged. What could he say? No matter how much his eyes looked like another’s, this man didn’t know him. He’d never understand.

“He went to war,” he eventually said, and drank anther gulp of beer. “Never came back.”

He’d expected the stranger to ask which war, but instead he only looked at him with sadness in his eyes and said, like he really meant it:

“I’m sorry.”

Fitz shrugged again, concentrated on his beer.

“Why do you think it was your fault?”

This was one thing Fitz had never thought about – it was just a feeling that came to him on days like this, when he became aware there was no chance he’d ever see him again.

“I don’t know. I should have stopped him. Should have gone with him. I don’t know. It just doesn’t seem right that I’m alive and he’s not.”

His words were followed by silence. When he looked up the other was watching him over folded hands.

“Nothing you could have done to stop him, if he believed he had to go,” the man finally said, and added, sadness in his voice: “Es war nicht dein Krieg.”

‘And you would know, right?’ Fitz thought, but only snorted in return.

Another Minute passes before the stranger broke the silence once again, and his voice was very quiet.

“I went to war once.”

“Oh?” Fitz looked up with renewed interest. ‘The Second World War,’ he speculated, then remembered that he was not in then 1960th anymore and this guy was much too young.

Which war could it have been? He couldn’t think of any, but then, maybe he was American. Weren’t the Americans fighting all over the world? He didn’t sound American, though.

German, then? He was speaking German, as if to mock Fitz, even though it didn’t feel like it. Had Germany been involved in any war in the past twenty years? Fitz had to admit his knowledge in history wasn’t perfect for this era – or any other.

“Not everyone wanted me to go,” the man continued. “I left a lot of people behind. Never came back.”

“Why not?” Fitz wanted to know, and though it was hard to bear the gaze of those dark eyes he couldn’t look away.

“Because it was easier that way. For everyone.” Then, suddenly, the stranger smiled again. “So, maybe your friend’s also alive, and happily living his life somewhere.”

The though should have been comforting. It wasn’t.

“So either he’s dead or I’ve been abandoned.” Fitz looked down again, at the table, at the other’s long, folded fingers. “Have you ever been abandoned?”

“I have,” the man answered calmly. “You just leave them behind and go on with your life.”

“But what if you can’t, because it was someone special?” Fitz realised how that sounded and quickly added: “Not like that, mind you. Just a close friend, and quite unique. Someone you don’t want to lose.” Now, that wasn’t much better.

The other looked thoughtful.

“There were many people I didn’t want to lose,” he finally said. “And in the end it’s almost always me who leaves.”

“Why?” asked Fitz.

And the other smiled his brilliant, sad smile.

“Because running is easy.”

Fitz said nothing.

He only looked up when a long, cold hand was placed over his, a touch that made him feel nervous and happy and he didn’t know why.

“Are you upset,” the stranger (who didn’t seem so strange anymore) asked, “because you feel guilty, or because you’re lonely?”

“I’m not lonely,” Fitz said honestly. “But I miss him. And I feel guilty. And though I’m sure he’s dead I always find myself looking for him, because some part of me can’t accept he’s not coming back.” And some part of him was wondering why he was having this conversation with a man he didn’t know.

And another part was glad he could finally say it.

“He’s not coming back,” the man said, and in his voice was such a certainty, such a finality, that Fitz felt like crying, because he knew it was true. “But there’s no reason for you to feel guilty. So just… move on.”

“Easy for you to say,” Fitz mumbled. “Have you ever lost someone you…” He stopped there, still not able to say the last word, and already regretting his stupid question, because the other man was smiling at him again, and his eyes looked like the Doctor’s but they were darker and it wasn’t just the colour.

 “If you knew for sure your friend was dead, would it be easier for you?”

Fitz had thought about that often enough and knew the answer.

“It would help if I could finally stop waiting,” he said, “but I don’t think I could bear that thought. I still hope that he’s alive, somewhere, even if I never saw him again.”

The other gave him a faint smile. “I’m sorry.”

“For what?”

“For wasting your time.” The change was so abrupt that Fitz nearly jumped. Suddenly the man was smiling his bright, empty smile again, getting up and turning to leave. “Sorry I couldn’t help you,” he said, his voice strong and businesslike. Then he stopped and reached into the pocket of his coat. “Oh, and keep this! Zum Abschied.” He placed an unmarked envelope on the table. “I hope it helps.” Without another word he walked away.

Fitz needed a second to get over his surprise, then he took the envelope and looked inside.

Years back he’d been given a similar envelope by a man who mistook him for an assassin and wanted him to kill the man on the picture inside. The tracker he’d been given had led him to the Doctor, although the man on the picture looked nothing like him. Neither he nor Sam had understood when the Doctor told them that this man with the long scarf and the golf-ball eyes had indeed been him.

The picture had been a still from a security camera – the exact same still Fitz was holding now. The realisation needed a few seconds to sink in.

By the time he was out in the street the Doctor was already gone.


December 11, 2007


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 11th, 2007 04:11 am (UTC)
That was wonderful. (Yes, I love these kind of stories!) Any chance of German translations, btw?
Dec. 11th, 2007 11:53 am (UTC)

“Lange nicht gesehen! Wie geht’s dir?”
could be roughly translated to:
"Long time-no see! How are you?"

“Streit mit der Freundin?“
indeed means
"Girlfriend trouble?"
or in a word to word translation
"Having a row with your girlfriend?"

“Es war nicht dein Krieg.”
"It wasn't your war."

Zum Abschied = As a farewell

I hope that helps (and the author doesn't protest)
Dec. 11th, 2007 01:01 pm (UTC)
No protest here. I just didn't know how to add the translations so they wouldn't mess with the flow of the story. And then I decided that since the story is told from Fitz's pov and he doesn't understand, it would be okay not to add any.
Dec. 12th, 2007 07:09 am (UTC)
Thanks! And yeah, I asked for the translations because I was just curious. It works without them in the story. :D
Dec. 11th, 2007 04:29 pm (UTC)
Aww, even as a new Who fan I got it, you know? It was really moving.
(And I love the scowling on Jack's part)
Dec. 11th, 2007 10:56 pm (UTC)
I couldn't resist Scowling!Jack. He had no actual reason to be in this fic, but somehow he wormed his way in, and said: "This my Doctor now, go find own!" (But maybe that was the alcohol speaking...)
Dec. 12th, 2007 04:03 pm (UTC)
Aw, I do love jealous Jack. He ends up getting all possessive whenever he's in my fic and I can't muster the willpower to rein him in.
Dec. 11th, 2007 10:13 pm (UTC)
Wow. That was brilliant. I really liked the "It wasn't your war" line in German. That was heart-wrenching.
Dec. 11th, 2007 10:58 pm (UTC)
Ho ho, thanks a lot.
Somehow I couldn't resist using a 'foreign' language I'm really good at. :P
Dec. 13th, 2007 06:36 am (UTC)
Ohhhhh, lovely. Poor Fitz!
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )


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