Eeek! My first Doctor Who fic!
Title: The Last Centurion
Fandom: Doctor Who
Pairing/characters: Rory, River
Spoilers: 6.7 Big spoilers for this ep.
Disclaimer: Not mine. BBC owns them.
Word count: approx 1170
Summary: River talks to Rory in the aftermath of the battle of Demon’s Run
River found him sitting on the floor, hidden behind a stack of crates. He didn’t acknowledge her at first, and River wondered if he even knew she was there. She also wondered if this was what he had looked like as he sat vigil for all that time, still and silent, waiting. Right at that moment, though, he looked more like the lost centurion, his sword and gun lying on the ground beside him, his knees drawn up, despite how uncomfortable it must have been to maintain that position with the breastplate.
“Don’t tell Amy,” Rory said, his gaze still fixed on the wall opposite.
Apparently he did know she was there.
River walked over and crouched down beside him. Now she was closer she could see the drying tear tracks on his cheeks. She wasn’t entirely sure whether to be impressed or worried that he had lasted this long before the events of the day had caught up with him.
“It’s a lot to take in, I know,” she said gently.
He looked at her for the first time, but the attempted smile didn’t reach his eyes.
“Without meaning this how it’s going to sound, it’s not about you. Of all the things that have happened in the last few weeks, finding out that you’re my daughter is probably the least terrifying.”
He went back to staring at his hands.
“I need to get out of these clothes,” he suddenly said, before River had time to decide how to reply to his last statement. Then he frowned. “All my normal clothes are in the TARDIS.”
The fact that the TARDIS hadn’t yet returned didn’t really need to be spoken aloud.
“We’re on a military base which was abandoned at short notice. I’m sure you can find some more clothes somewhere,” River pointed out.
“More soldiers’ clothes?” Rory looked at her again, and River was shocked by the anger in his eyes. “Is that what I am now? A soldier? A warrior?”
“You chose to fight today to protect the people you love. That’s probably the best, the most understandable reason for anyone to fight,” River said, choosing her words carefully.
“I used to be a nurse.”
“You still are.”
“Nurses are supposed to help people. Care for people.” His face suddenly screwed up into an expression of frustration, anger, disbelief, and fear. Not the ‘oh my god, we’re being chased by the tentacle alien of Proxima Four’ type of fear. The type of fear that was silent, dangerous, and terrible. The type of fear that ripped good men, and entire worlds, apart.
Then he opened his eyes again, and what was once calm blue now burned with the fear and pain of two thousand years.
“I would have killed every man and woman in that army to get to my wife and baby today.”
River nodded. There was no easy answer. She knew better than anyone that no matter what effect the Doctor had on his enemies, sometimes the effect he had on his friends could be so much worse.
Rory suddenly turned away, and went back to staring at his hands.
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t... Of all people, I shouldn’t be saying this to you.”
“Of all people, I’m probably one of the few who would understand,” River countered softly.
“Most of the time I can lock it away and not think about it. Not remember. But to do this, I had to remember everything. I had to remember how to be The Last Centurion.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t be so keen to forget it,” River said. “Maybe Rory the Roman is as much who you are as Rory the nurse.”
His hands clenched into fists and he shook his head. “I don’t want it to be. You don’t know how long two thousand years really is. No one does. Not even the Doctor. Even if I could talk to him about it, he’s only lived for half that length of time. Amy thinks it’s romantic, that I waited for so long just to protect her. But it wasn’t romantic. It was hard, and lonely, and terrifying and I had to kill so many people to keep the Pandorica safe.”
River reached out and closed her hand over his. He tensed, and for a moment she thought he was going to pull away, but he didn’t. River closed her fingers tighter around his, and she felt his hands shaking just a little.
“You know the really stupid, insane thing about The Last Centurion?” he demanded. “People came looking for me. Some of them came to try to take the Pandorica, but some of them came to help me. For a while I even had an entire squad of medieval knights pledged to defend the Pandorica and The Last Centurion and his noble cause. I don’t think they even knew what the Pandorica was, or why they were defending it. They must have thought it was some sort of holy relic. But they’d heard the legend, and they rode halfway across Europe to see if it was true.”
“So remember that. For every person you had to kill, there were others who were inspired by what you did, and what The Last Centurion represented.”
“Yeah. And it got most of them killed. Just like following me got all those people killed today.” His fingers tightened around River’s for a moment, and then he let go and pulled his hand away from her. “The Last Centurion wasn’t a noble cause, or a brave hero. It was just a man with a box and a trail of death and legend through time.” His face twisted into that look of pain and anger again. “Sound familiar?”
For once, River had no idea what to say. They both knew the comparison was barely skin deep. That the man who had spent half his childhood being forced to pretend to be the Doctor, who had spent half his life trying to compete with the Doctor, could never hope to even equal him. And River was profoundly grateful for that fact.
“He’s always going to be there,” Rory said quietly. “I try to lock him away, but The Last Centurion is always going to be there. And every time I need to fight I’ll need to become him again.”
He looked at River again, and this time the fear in his eyes was as raw as the pain in his voice.
“That scares me, because sometimes I don’t know who the real Rory Williams is any more. Rory the nurse, or Rory The Last Centurion. I don’t know what I am.”
In that moment, River’s heart broke for him. For all that he had seen and done, and for the terrible things yet to come. She reached for him again, and this time he didn’t pull away when she placed a hand on his.
River gave him the only truth that she could.
“You are Rory Williams. And you are a good man.”