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Sail On, Sailor, Sail On

Rating: G
#068 - Lightning
The Time War
Spoilers: Extention of the last scene of the EDA The Year of Intelligent Tigers
Characters/Pairings: Karl/Eighth Doctor
Karl knows that when the Doctor and his friends leave, they leave for good.
Note: The title is a line from the song Fitz has written for the Doctor.

The Doctor would not say goodbye. He hadn’t told him so, and neither had Fitz, or Anji, but Karl knew. Tomorrow they would be gone, and if his instincts were to be trusted, he wouldn’t see either of them again. It just seemed like the Doctor to do so: to come and to go, and only leave an afterimage that lingered. Like lightning.

As he looked at him, this beautiful alien lying in the grass, Karl found that the idea held no sadness. After all the days of indecision and worry once he knew how the future would be it all seemed just right. Fitting. Like it couldn’t be any other way.

Tomorrow the Doctor would be gone from his life, and that was all right. Because he had been forgiven his heart was only cracked, not broken.

They didn’t speak, although Karl had much to say and only this one chance to say it. It would have been inappropriate, though, and pointless. He settled for watching the Doctor instead, as his friend rolled onto his back and closed his eyes against the sunshine. No longer a god, but not any more human.

The bloody bruise that had marred his face when they had returned to the city of tigers a week ago had all but faded, his hair was growing back. In a few days he’d look like none of this had ever happened. He’d shed it off and move on. He already had.

Perhaps, Karl thought, for the Doctor the war never did happen. He’d seen it, he’d tried to prevent it, he’d ended it, but he’d never fought in it. And that was just right as well, for the Doctor and war didn’t belong in the same world. In the world of the Doctor, everyone would be friends, and there would only be happy endings. It was in his world, not Karl’s, that he had wandered out into the jungle to become friends with beings that easily could tear him apart, and had little reason not to. No one else could have done that. It the real world it just wouldn’t have worked.

There had been a young tiger who’d insisted on accompanying the Doctor just so she could protect him. Who’d carried him on her back when he couldn’t walk, just because he was the Doctor’s friend. Karl wondered what had become of her, and imagined her jumping around the storehouse in her childlike enthusiasm, or lying in the sun to watch as life went on, down there in the city of tigers and humans.

The Doctor wouldn’t say goodbye to her either. He’d just pack his friends and be gone, and maybe they would all forget this planet during their next adventure, or the one after that; Anji, who had believed in the Doctor in the end, and Fitz, who had waited all that time for the Doctor’s return from the Bewilderness to give him a pair of clean socks; and the Doctor, who’d called the lightning from the sky to put an end to a war that shouldn’t have concerned him – truly a force of nature.

Now he blinked against the sun and watched a butterfly dance in the air above him, as easily distracted as a kitten. But then, he didn’t belong with the tigers any more than with the humans. He could never stay here, and because Karl knew it, and because he knew he had to take responsibility for his moment of weakness even if the Doctor understood, he felt only the barest hint of regret. What he wanted could never have been anyway. He still would continue to dream of it in many years to come.

The knowledge that this was their last meeting made it easy to lean in and press a kiss to the Doctor’s lips. The Doctor let it happen, returned it; the gift of a traveller saying goodbye. It didn’t last long, but it was enough.

“Honk,” the Doctor said softly. For a moment it was perfectly still, and then Karl fought a giggle. It made the Doctor laugh, and then there were both rolling through the grass and were happy, and tomorrow was just a possibility.

Karl could have given Fitz a last line for his song. But that was something the boy had to figure out for himself.

His one was not for sharing.



December 4, 2008



( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 5th, 2008 01:28 am (UTC)
Wow! I have no idea what this is from, but I love the descriptions of the Doctor. So vivid and just perfect!

No longer a god, but not any more human.

You know I had to point that out. :)

Beautiful writing as always!

So how many do you have left on your time table? You have to be close to meeting your goal!
Dec. 5th, 2008 08:06 am (UTC)
This was the 49th story... I wrote it spontaneously after finishing the book last night. Since I can't sleep lately I have too much time on my hands, despite everything.
Glad you liked it, even if you don't know the background. If I find the book again (mine was a second-hand order and looks dreadful; it's a surprise no pages are missing) I'll send it to you - you'll like it!

Today's another final, isn't it? Good luck!
Dec. 7th, 2008 06:45 pm (UTC)
I'd love to read the book! :) At the moment, I'm anxiously counting down the days to the new episode of DW. We're so close!

I'm off to take my last final. Ugh... Then it will be over! YAY!

Hope you're having a relaxing weekend. :)
Dec. 5th, 2008 07:14 pm (UTC)
Dec. 16th, 2008 09:35 pm (UTC)
Oh, I just love your icon!

And I love the novel, as if that wasn't obvious. It's my favourite EDA so far. (And it's a shame my bought-second-hand-at-amazon copy looks like it's been pulled out of someone's garbage... At least there were no missing pages.)
Dec. 6th, 2008 12:44 am (UTC)
Oh *wibble*. This is gorgeous.
Dec. 6th, 2008 02:11 pm (UTC)
This is so beautiful and sad. Bounce! *sobs*

Fitz, who had waited all that time for the Doctor’s return from the Bewilderness to give him a pair of clean socks

Oh, Fitz. He's so the Doctor's wife.

Karl could have given Fitz a last line for his song

Heh, yeah. Also, why do people always refer to Fitz as boy? Surely Karl is about the same age or younger.
Dec. 6th, 2008 04:55 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

Bounce! *sobs*
Yeah... Broke my heart, that one...

Also, why do people always refer to Fitz as boy?
I have no idea - I just know Karl did. It seemed odd to me too. But people always do. Perhaps because he doesn't exactly give the impression of being an adult. Or simply because the Doctor does.
After all, Fitz managed to stay here for a few months, and there for a year, and adding it all up he still never got older than twenty-seven...
Mar. 21st, 2009 03:49 am (UTC)
You know, this story hits a strange chord in me, because it reminds me just what is truly involved in the Doctor forgiving Karl. Oh, at the end of the novel, I couldn't do it. Karl in your story here seems to me unburdened in a way that I wish he wasn't; he speculates about Bounce and doesn't even realize that she was one of the ones he killed in his "moment of weakness". It was that death, over all the others, that hardened me to him. I suppose I'll have to work harder at forgiveness. I don't know if that's intentional or not, but it's definitely what came first to my mind.

And at the same time, I can see Karl's intelligence and his perserverance and his artistry coming through in his voice too; he sees the truth about the Doctor and he accepts it-- well, experiences it the same way the Doctor experiences butterflies that flit past. (And yeah, the line about the Doctor and war hits all the much harder because of course we know what is coming with the Time War.) It paints a conflicting portrait, or maybe I'm judging Karl too harshly-- I don't begrudge him for a graceful parting, but I'm also (somewhat vindictively) glad that Karl has to stay behind and only get a taste of what could have been.
Mar. 21st, 2009 04:08 am (UTC)
I feel a bit conlicted about Karl myself. I liked him a lot and he worked well with the Doctor, and in a way I can even understand what he was feeling when he killed the tigers - but the fact that he killed Bounce... well, it's had to forgive that, and without doubt the author did that on purpose.
Since the tigers were, well, tiger-shaped it's easy to forget that they were intelligent beings not too different from humans. If there had been a number of human corpses lying around, among them that of a drowned teenager, the situation would have been entire different. Like this, I think it's easier for Karl to blind out the magnitude of what he did.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )


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