Title: The Blood of Others
Pairing: Tenth Doctor/Ross Jenkins
Fandom: Doctor Who
Table: 1, fanfic50
Prompt: 12, Blood
Disclaimer: This is entirely a product of my own imagination, and I make no profit from it. I do not own the Tenth Doctor or Ross Jenkins, just borrowing them for a while. Please do not sue.
***"Doctor, you're bleeding." Ross' voice was soft, concerned.
The Doctor held up a hand in front of his face; Ross was right, he was bleeding. He hadn't even realized it; when he'd begun pounding on the thick stone walls of the building they'd left in defeat, he hadn't cared what it might do to his flesh.
He hadn't even thought about it. But now that Ross was pointing the fact out to him, the realization came to him that his hands smarted and stung; he could easily have damaged them if his young companion hadn't pulled him towards the Tardis.
Sighing, he held his hands out to Ross, closing his eyes for a moment. "I'm sorry, Ross. I suppose I just .... lost control for a few minutes. I didn't expect to do that, and I'm sorry that you had to see such an ugly side of me. I'll try not to let it happen again."
The young man nodded, slipping an arm around the Doctor's waist. "Let's get you to the infirmary," he said softly, heading for one of the Tardis' corridors. "I want to wash that blood away and bandage your hands. They could get infected."
The Doctor knew that wouldn't happen; the cuts and scrapes would be gone within a day's time. That was one of the good things about his Time Lord body; wounds healed very quickly, even at his advanced age. He wouldn't be damaged for long.
And maybe he and Ross would finally be able to consummate their growing relationship.
It seemed that every time they were getting to the point where they would have some time to explore their feelings for each other, he received a message on the psychic paper, or there was some other emergency that kept them from doing so. It was becoming rather annoying.
He was sure that Ross was even more annoyed over it than he himself was. It was the Doctor who had insisted that they had to put their personal time aside and go to the aid of whoever might be in trouble -- and he couldn't blame Ross if he was tired of doing that.
This was the last time that would happen, the Doctor told himself firmly. He had been injured; that wasn't something he'd thought would happen, but now that it had, it was time for him to take Ross to one of the pleasure planets he knew so well and give them some time to themselves.
He wanted time with Ross as badly as the young man wanted time with him -- probably even more so. After all, he'd been the one who had gone back in time to change the course of events, to rescue Ross from a death that he didn't deserve.
Had he wanted to form a more intimate relationship with this young man all along? He really couldn't be sure of his motivations; yes, he'd wanted to save Ross from an untimely death, but he didn't think his reasons for that had been entirely unselfish.
There had been such an attraction between them when they'd first met, when Ross had been the soldier assigned to "guard" him. And he had rarely felt such extreme guilt as he had when the young man had died, along with any chance they'd had of following up on that attraction.
Maybe he'd been wrong to think that he had a right to change their destinies, the Doctor thought with a sigh. But he'd done it, following his hearts instead of his head. It wouldn't be the first time, and he would accept whatever consequences came of his actions.
"Are you going to be okay?" Ross' voice was concerned, worry evident in his tone.
The Doctor brought his thoughts back to the present, turning his head to smile at his young companion. "Yes, I'll be fine," he said, nodding. "I heal quickly, you know. I was just .... thinking about the past, and how we always have to face the consequences of our decisions."
"I wanted to destroy something when I heard those people say that they were going to stay there and face certain death, too," Ross said quietly, his gaze meeting the Doctor's. "But it was their choice, Doctor. We couldn't force them to leave."
"I know," the Time Lord said, his voice quiet and regretful. "I couldn't have made them see otherwise, but that doesn't stop me from feeling that I should have tried harder. I should have been able to come up with words that would have convinced them."
"You couldn't," Ross told him, the words barely above a whisper. "I could see it in their eyes that they were determined to stay on their planet and fight for their survival, even if it was going to be a losing battle and they knew it. They would never have left."
"If only ...." The Doctor shook his head, his voice trailing off. "I can't live a life based on 'if onlys,' can I?" he sighed, entering the ship's infirmary. "I've said that far too many times. And I can't change their history. It could have serious consequences if I tried."
"You were right to leave," Ross said, going to the set of cabinets on one side of the room and taking out bandages and antiseptic. "There was really nothing else you could do. You do realise that, don't you?" he asked, his tone anxious.
"Of course I do," the Doctor said with a sigh as he sat down and held out his bleeding hands to Ross. "But that doesn't mean I have an easy time accepting that fact. I always feel that I should have done more when a situation doesn't have the outcome I want."
Ross knelt in front of him, taking the Time Lord's hands in his, unmindful of the blood.
"You can't save everyone," he said, his voice soft, his expression sympathetic as he looked up at the other man. "I know you want to -- and I know you feel like you should be able to. But sometimes .... you just can't win. No matter how much you wish you could."
He sprayed the antiseptic on the soft cloth that he'd taken from the cabinet along with the bandages, gently cleaning the cuts and scrapes on the Time Lord's hands. The Doctor fell silent, watching Ross' ministrations, keeping his thoughts to himself.
Ross was right. He couldn't save everyone; he'd tried to do that so often in the past, and even though he would undoubtedly keep trying to do so in any situation he was thrown into, there would be many more instances where he would fail.
But he couldn't blame himself for those failures. Sometimes they happened as a result of his own shortcomings, but there were other times when the people he was trying to save chose not to take his helping hand when he held it out. Like this time.
That wasn't his fault. People had to make their own choices; not only could he not save everyone, but he couldn't take away anyone's free will and attempt to make their decisions for them. He had spilled his blood in frustration, for nothing, for a decision that hadn't been his to make.
The blood of others might be on his hands at times, but not in this particular situation. He could leave that planet and those people with a clear conscience, knowing that he had done what he could and that their decision had been made without his help.
Sighing softly, he watched Ross wrap the bandages around his hands, knowing that by the following day, he wouldn't need them. But it still felt good to be taken care of, to have someone here who wanted to minister to his wounds.
Ross looked up at him again before he rose to his feet, holding out a hand to the Time Lord.
The Doctor took that hand, smiling as he did so. Getting to his feet, he let Ross lead him back towards the control room, his hearts feeling lighter than they had when he'd left it. Maybe he'd spilled his blood for no good reason, but he might have also learned a valuable lesson.
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