Brand new to the community- first time poster, and Ten/Reinette author...hope you enjoy!
Title: The Crow and the Dove
Rating: PG, or G...for cliched Ten angst and beat-you-over-the-head symbolism...
Summary: The Doctor has imperious second thoughts about a life with Reinette. Interpret this how you'd like...whether it takes place within the hours he thinks he is trapped in the 18th century, or in an AU where he actually suffers that fate.
A/N: This fic is X-posted to doctorwho and dedicated to Abby- babitzka
"He would not stay for me, and who can wonder?
He would not stay for me to stand and gaze.
I shook his hand and tore my heart in sunder
And went with half my life about my ways."
The term slow path is an unsound definition, he thinks.
“Time is not that deliberate,” he tells her. His voice is hushed and his tone is subdued, and maybe, if he continues to speak to her in this manner, he can trick himself into sounding less condescending.
…She has only ever known deliberate time, he reminds himself, linear time- straight, mathematical, quantifiable, restrictive time. But still, it is an incorrect perception to adhere to.
…It is too confining.
…Her thinking is too narrow-minded.
…She is wrong.
“No, Reinette. Slow counters fast; fast is used to describe an acceleration, an increase in speed, or velocity- a change in motion…and time cannot retain a pace! …Nor is it inert…you can’t- it just-…” He sighs, and she sighs, and he lets it go, and she takes his hand. “Nevermind,” he says, “I’m sorry.”
She blinks and considers this. “For what?”
He rubs his thumb over her knuckles, brushing her delicate skin, shifting his fingers in her secure grip. I’m sorry that you aren’t be able to understand. “I imagine I’d cut off my nose to spite my own face…”
“…What grudge do you have against your life- this life- that would lead you to believe you’re fated for a…..slow path?” He swallows the words.
She looks up at him with just the right amount of frustration. Her forehead starts the outline of a frown, but she squints against her misapprehension.
It fascinates him how desperately she wants to comprehend all that he says, all that he does, all that he mentions. She hangs on every word and nods and reflects and tries and tries and tries to relate.
She cannot, does not, will not ever be able to. It perplexes him, to some extent, angers him.
It was a mistake letting her into his mind. Now she will not leave it.
“Perhaps- perhaps I am afraid,” she whispers, breaking his train of thought. “…Like you.”
He scowls at her, squeezes her hand too hard, overwhelming her nimble grip, crushing her fingers under his own. She does not cry out in pain, but simply shakes her hand away and massages it at her side.
She stares at him defiantly, but he refuses to look at her.
They walk side-by-side in the gardens of the marquisate.
He declines from touching her and instead dispatches grandiose and frivolous accounts of his travels: of moons and suns, and ships and cities and songs, of the icy wake of comet’s tails, and shades of haze and space dust, starfire fracturing the horizon of blooming nebulas, existences beyond the confines of gravity, the sound inside a black hole and the Gallifreyian name for every constellation seen from Earth…and all these at once- throwing in unwarranted embellishments to actual events, fluctuating his voice between stentorian and earnest, wincing through hyperbolic expressions, stamping his feet on the cobblestone walkway with each eccentric superfluity, and gesticulating- punching the air with each improbable point, and spinning, and leaping, and all the while lying through his teeth…hissing through feigned pride…self-indulging, bragging, flourishingly making mountains out of molehills.
He takes complete advantage of her…watches from the corner of his eye as her jealousy steepens.
She is wide-eyed and receptive, clinging like always to every sentence, as if leaning in closer will make it all real for her.
…But her cheeks are reddening and she is uncharacteristically quiet.
They walk at a rate too fast to enjoy the summer breeze. Step for step, like lovers, but with an uneasy urgency, on the verge of increasing speed, intense, unfitting for a garden stroll.
…It is not a slow path…
He has her right where he wants her- where he can at last see it on her face, resonating just behind that carefully poised façade of prudence and wisdom…
She’s reluctant to let it hit home, but it’s there: Ignorance.
…That satisfying sting of culture shock.
…Of not knowing, things lost in translation. Her inability to understand; clear as day, swelling across her face, blush spreading like an infection.
He grins, avenging and wicked, crystallized in satisfaction.
She rubs his arm, nuzzling in devotedly- absentminded smile never creeping farther than her muddled feelings will allow. “I wish-” she says, but does not continue.
I wish too, he thinks, but the thought is fleeting, and so is her patience.
A small patch of sycamore borders the Bosquet de la Renommée, and several species of birds tutter carefree amidst the networking of branches. The Doctor shoves his hands into his pockets and rocks back on his heels, peering fastidiously through the flock and zeroing in on one crow.
He watches it bob and dip from branch to branch, attempting breakneck dives only to creep transiently to the tip of a limb and zigzag back and back again.
Entranced, he monitors it silently, Zen-like. His eyes glaze over for a moment, and external sound wanes briefly, replaced by his own thoughts.
Reinette wanders down the path, running the palm of her hand along the quaint granite wall encasing the treeline.
She disappears from his periphery, then, “Oh,” she breathes, “it’s dead.”
He mutters, “-What?”, instantly breaking his concentration. He blinks and turns on his heel to find Reinette stooping at the edge of the grass. Rolling his shoulders, he sidesteps her crouching frame to better see over the obscuring folds of her dress.
A dove, seemingly stripped from the sky mid-flight, presents its paltry wingspan of sinew and torn flesh to Reinette’s quivering fingertips. The breeze ruffles the fraying, matted feathers, opaque and grotesque eye sockets staring perpetually upwards.
The Doctor grimaces. “Oh, don’t- don’t touch it.” Trichomonas, avian influenza, Campylobacter, Salmonella, rabies…and with the hygiene in this century?
“Oh, poor creature…Oh Doctor, do you have a handkerchief?”
The Doctor wrinkles his nose and fiddles in his breast pocket for one, but asks anyway, “-Why?”
“-We can’t just leave it lying here!” She says, agitation and impatience edging their way into her pitch.
He dangles his handkerchief at her in flamboyant surrender. She snatches it away from her face. After a few moments he repeats, “Why?”
“Oh…Have you no compassion, Doctor?” She grieves, folding the corners tenderly around the mangled bird.
“Yes.” He snips, and he softens when he notices her weeping.
“Reinette?” And he steps back.
She swipes at her eyes with the top of her sleeve and holds the bundle out to him.
He does not take it.
“…Why mourn something so small?”
She stands firm, holding the dove in her open palm.
“It’s really alright Reinette…”
She holds it circumspectly, like it is something of value. It is just a bird, conquered by nature. Its time has passed.
“It’s dead…but, there’re more…” he tries, pointing at the trees behind them. “…It…doesn’t matter…” he finishes, under his breath. “You just…you don’t know, Reinette.”
In the grand scope of the natural world- of time and all its complexities- what is one dove? It had no inherent value…no perpetuating worth, no mark to leave, no significance…there are bigger things, things of greater magnitude…he has lost things…irreplaceable things…things meant to be eternal…she will never know…she cannot know what he has lost…what he has lost to be here with her right now…
Reinette steps forward and places the dove in his hands, covering them with her own.
“I know Doctor,” she says, not looking at him, “I only wish I did.”