Disclaimer: Firefly and Doctor Who belong to their respective creators and producers. I'm just bringing them together because goldy_dollar and ninamazing told me to. :-D
Spoilers: This fic is set post "Objects in Space" for Firefly and post "The Runaway Bride" for Doctor Who, but no spoilers.
Prompt: The Doctor emotes about Rose. Inara comforts. And "After the storm, this was all I had left."
Notes/Warnings: Much thanks to ninamazing for beta-ing this. You rock. This fic can be considered as an alternative epilogue to my Firefly/Doctor Who crossover "A Different Kind of Companion" though you don't need to read it to understand this story.
An excerpt from the personal diary of Inara Serra, Companion
I met the most extraordinary man today. He called himself the Doctor. We spent hours on another planet in another galaxy in another time. It sounds so impossible now that I’ve written the words down, but I can remember every moment so vividly and it’s real to me. He seemed so alone even if he travelled with a young woman named Rose. There’s more to the Doctor than he revealed, but I can understand why he would want to keep certain aspects of himself hidden.
“Oh, then you’ve never lived until you’ve stepped out a set of doors, not knowing what’s on the other side. It’s an adventure just waiting to happen…”
He said those words to me, right before he asked me to join him and Rose. I couldn’t say yes, not now that I’m leaving Serenity, but it did sound tempting. No, more than tempting. It sounded freeing. I’d like to think that if I had met him at a different time I’d have said yes within a heartbeat.
I doubt I’ll ever see the Doctor again.
He came for her. With the familiar sound of the TARDIS as his only announcement, he whisked her away from her monotonous existence at the Training House. He showed her the universe, stopping only long enough to marvel at its singular wonders before departing again. Sometimes she felt she barely had time to take a breath, while other times she yearned to see what else he could offer.
Through it all, he grinned that crazy grin of his and held her hand as they ran back to his time machine. He seemed happy to have her there, but at times she caught him staring at her, a far-off expression in his eyes, as if he was remembering something else, something from another time. So caught up in the adventure, she hadn’t taken the time to wonder why he had sought her out.
Or why he had arrived alone.
But she didn’t push him. Time passed and the hours quickly became days. After a few weeks of travelling, he landed the TARDIS on another distant planet. With a smile he took her hand in his and led her out the doors.
It was night here and the stars above them sparkled with an unparalleled brilliance. Looking around, Inara saw that the Doctor had landed the TARDIS on the top of a cliff and the edge was only a few precarious metres away. Illumination from inside the time machine cast a narrow corridor of light in which they stood. When the Doctor closed the doors, they weren’t plunged into darkness as Inara expected, but instead, tall boulders around them gave off an unnatural bluish glow.
She looked to the Doctor, waiting for the explanation he always gave excitedly, but he said nothing. Rather, he stood beside Inara and looked up at the stars. She followed his lead, keeping her questions to herself for the moment.
The pattern of the stars was unfamiliar to her, but she could never claim she understood astronomy to begin with. And truly, what was the need lately, now that the sky above was new every day?
A cold wind suddenly kicked up and Inara shivered. She ran her hands over her bare arms to try to warm herself. Without prompting, the Doctor slipped off his heavy brown coat and slipped it over Inara’s shoulders, his hands lingering there. She smiled and turned to face him, ready to thank him.
He was staring at her again, his expression morose. Even in the dull blue light she could see the sadness in his eyes.
Inara reached out with her left hand and placed it over the Doctor’s right hand. “Tell me,” she said softly.
She felt his hand tighten around her shoulder. For a second she thought the Doctor might change the topic. He slipped his hand out from under hers. “There was a battle,” he said finally. “Two tempests with planet Earth as the battlefield.” The Doctor’s voice was weary. He sounded like a man who had seen too much and was weighed down by his experiences.
“Rose.” The Doctor glanced away when Inara spoke her name. “Did she…” Inara paused. “Did you lose her?” she asked instead.
Had the Doctor been any other man, she might have gone with the traditional question and asked if Rose had left him, but the Doctor was no ordinary man. The life he lived was far from normal. And Inara had seen the Doctor’s devotion for this girl out of time and their relationship built on friendship and trust. It had seemed like the opposing forces of the universe couldn’t have kept the pair apart.
“She’s alive.” Before Inara could question her assumptions, the Doctor added, “But I did lose her. She was pulled out of this reality and into another. I sealed the way shut. I… I’ll never see her again. Rose might as well be dead.”
“I’m sure you had no other choice.”
The Doctor kicked at a pebble, sending it tumbling over the edge of the cliff. “Choices make up the universe. It’s probability, math, numbers. Everything and anything you could do and can do are laid out before you.” Reaching down, the Doctor grabbed a handful of dirt. “Millions of combinations and I can see them all.”
He opened his hand and the dirt fell between his fingers. “I ignored it all. She said she would stay with me forever and I believed her. I could have saved Rose hundreds, thousands of ways. But I didn’t stop, didn’t think. I didn’t offer Rose a way out until it was too late. She stayed. Like she promised.”
The wind picked up and it howled in the empty expanse before them. “After the storm, this was all I had left. This solitary life of wandering the stars. I’m always alone because I can’t stop.”
Inara’s hair blew in the wind, loose wisps slapping against her cheeks. She didn’t bother to reach up and tuck the hair behind her ears. “Would you have preferred to leave Rose on some deserted planet, alone for the rest of her life? Choosing to run away doesn’t solve anything. You may put some distance between you and the problem but it never goes away.”
It was so bizarre, having a conversation of this nature on an alien planet with glowing blue rocks surrounding them. Her Companion training certainly hadn’t covered meeting strange men who travelled in time and space in blue boxes. But then, did it really matter who the Doctor was? Despite all of the extraordinary things he could do, he couldn’t stop feeling.
“You feel guilty. Rose stayed for you. But I can’t give you forgiveness, Doctor, and I certainly can’t make you forget. Those are things you can only do yourself.”
“So I keep going. Keep bringing others along. Keep saying good-bye.”
“The universe, the way you see it, it needs to be shared. You can show someone a whole lifetime of wonders. You can open their mind. You make life better, Doctor. If you can do that for someone for just an instant, then I think it’s worth it all.”
It was all she could offer. Life was full of good-byes. It was what one did after the good-bye that mattered.
Inara gathered the Doctor’s coat more tightly around her shoulders. It had been summer on the last planet they had visited. She thought of returning to the TARDIS to find something warmer when, from the corner of her eye, she saw something streak across the night sky. It had been so fleeting she thought she imagined it.
But when she looked up, she saw it again; a tiny light burning towards the horizon. A shooting star. Soon the whole of the heavens was filled with them, a faint trail of fire blazing behind each one. It was brighter than she expected.
“What’s happening?” asked Inara, her eyes fixed upwards.
The Doctor turned his gaze to the sky. When he spoke, a hint of his usual enthusiasm was in his voice. “This planet’s orbit is passing through the debris field of a forgotten moon. What’s left of it is burning up in the atmosphere. It should last for days.”
She continued watching in awe. “That’s why we’re here.”
“Nothing like a natural lightshow. Mother Nature always puts on the best performances. Mind you, the anti-gravity acrobats of Levithia Prime are something else. It’s amazing what a person can do when they’re not worried about falling.”
“Let me guess.” Inara looked over at the Doctor and he met her gaze. He shared her small smile. “That’s our next stop.”
The Doctor took her hand in his. She didn’t feel cold any longer. “It can wait.”