Story Title: Hades Lament
Show: Classic Who
Rating: PG-13. One semi-swear word
Word Count: 992
Prompt: We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell -- Oscar Wilde
Dust rains down from his blonde hair, the particles dancing in the light. It's nearly enough to make him smile except it's been one of those days; days where he's not sure whether the destination will ever be worth the journey.
His face still aches, stretched too long into a mask designed to prove that he's fine.
He's not fine.
Hasn't been fine for so very long.
He can't remember a time when his hearts weren't weighed down by guilt and responsibility and the irony isn't lost.
The feckless child of Gallifrey, the changeling, the one voted 'least likely to care' weighed down by responsibility.
If his schoolmates could see him now...
...except they could and they were laughing behind their Pyrodonian gowns and emblems, snickering at the Doctor and his oh-so-human emotions.
Emotions he'd tried to ignore until, realizing the futility of suppressing that side of himself, he'd chosen to flaunt.
He'd been so cocky. So arrogant. So damned young.
His rebellions started small, refusing to wear his robes or keep his mouth shut, taking opinions and an unhealthy interest in other species. And then his arrogance caused the death of his friend and Gallifrey was no longer a refuge. Fingers pointed, people whispered and he turned aside from his name in shame.
He left the stifling strictures and set out to make it right, only to find that the universe is as unforgiving as his people and punishes him accordingly.
A man who hates violence and craves peace forced to fight endless battles. A man with two hearts, desperate to be loved, forced to have those ripped away from him.
And yet, he feels it's no more than he deserves.
Even if he could, would he stop picking up waifs and strays? Stop interfering in events and trying to show them a better way; a way he didn't take?
No, he won't.
He chooses this, by exiling himself, by meddling, he chooses to be judge, jury and executioner. He chooses the life and he doesn't get to bitch about the ramifications.
The Oncoming Storm, Destroyer of Worlds, The Evil One, DeathBringer, Ka Faraq Gatri; all painful, all true.
His hell. His fault.
He's so lost in recriminations he doesn't hear her until she stands in front of him, hands on her hips and eyes ablaze.
Fitting really, with all his musings about hell that she's the one who comes to find him.
His tempestuous Australian with her strident manner and cutting tongue. The one person likely to be harder on him than himself.
“Are you in there?” Tegan pokes him.
“Yes, Tegan, what is it this time?” He doesn't have to hide the weary tone in his voice or disguise the annoyance as he does with others.
With Tegan he is himself.
She doesn't care if he's nasty or sarcastic or malicious. She dislikes him for himself and that is why...
“I wanted to check on you,” Tegan says. “That last one was close even for you.” She reaches up and his breath hitches as her soft fingers brush the cuts on his face. “Rabbits, Doc, you need to get this cleaned up. I bet even Time Lords can get infections.”
There is concern on her face. A comfort that he could take but won't. A kindness that he could never accept from her.
He hides in a superiority he doesn't feel. “My biology is infinitely superior to humans, Tegan. I'll address the problem when I've set us into the vortex.”
“Fine. Because lord knows you need all your faculties to fly this heap.” She taps the console.
The Doctor suddenly finds the anger only she brings out in him. “This heap, as you call it, is the only Type 40 still functioning in the Galaxy.”
“It works perfectly.”
“Then it must be the driver who's lousy,” she shoots back.
“I could always take you home.”
“You could try,” Tegan gives him a pitying look, “but then who knows how long that'd take.”
He's silent because they both know it's an empty threat. He'd no more take her home than take up knitting.
Because if this world is hell then he is Hades, forming it around himself and Tegan is Persephone stolen from the Earth and forced to stay with him.
The number of times he's promised her Heathrow and delivered elsewhere; the number of times his fingers slip on the dials and he twists just a little to the eighteenth century or a trifle to the next galaxy instead of the airport.
His own version of pomegranate seeds.
“Look,” she sighs, “I didn't come here to fight with you.”
“I came to ask how you were,” her eyes catch his and there is something there. Something new and frightening. Her voice lowers. “Those creatures almost killed you, Doc. I just want to make sure you're okay.”
He closes his eyes, an impossible hope welling in his chest.
“Don't be kind to me. Not you, Tegan.”
His eyes harden. “What would people think? Tegan Jovanka being nice?”
The insult works and she storms away cursing him. He sighs in relief.
Brave Heart, Tegan
Brave heart because 'dear heart' or 'sweetheart' is too close to the truth and too far from what he deserves. It's not the rallying cry she believes but an endearment. An endearment from someone she doesn't hold dear. She hates him and with just cause. It's a Machiavellian form of self-punishment to keep her by his side, hating him when all he craves is her love.
But it keeps him sane; her hate, because it means that he'll never be truly happy, never be forgiven, never fool himself into forgetting just what he is.
He is Hades and he makes his own hell.