The girl was unconscious; slowly, as though she were his own dear Susan, the Doctor laid Wil Beinert in the whitest, largest patch of ice free snow he could find along the frozen river’s sprawling bank. His lips brushed her forehead, and symbols in old Gallifreyan careened from the contact point between their flesh, running over her and filling her skin as though she were a page of some book. They were the letters of his name, written in music, in math and in magick, and the subliminal linguistic tug would guide her to him in the future they had just departed from. And, because he had imparted his name to her, she was no longer fourteen; a necessary evil, to ensure that no one would question his saving her younger self from the water. A good thing, as the music had called the original Wil to the river’s edge, where she had drowned, and he had saved her. Thus the all consuming paradox was halted, by his actions here, now. Again.
As the rest of his centuries long name glistened into her, running from him like the blood he’d spilt oceans of upon the kelp crusted planks of the pier in the service of the monkey kings, he felt himself sway. A part of him was leaving, going into her. Not to stay, oh no, but together, name and coins together would keep her until that future meeting in the street. The day when he would cry and she had cupped his face with hands like his sweet Susan’s. It was too much to bear, always having to... to do this.
He could have seen her timeline, if he’d wished; after all, would he not remain the Red Guardian for another few moments before he would return to his Jack and their three glorious babes, to Jack’s precious partner Ianto, and to Aloysius, his one time student in the ways of so much more than self?
The Doctor smiled. He was beginning to feel the life of the Guardian he would become flow out of him with the last of his name, the last of his strength, it seemed, in the chill, in the numbing cold. After he had given the coins to Wil’s father and gotten out of sight, his hair would return to its shortness, its brown, unruly chaos. His body already felt like one big ache.
Carefully he knelt down, gingerly lifted Wil’s unconscious body and walked into the frigid river water, to get them both wet enough, to soak them through enough so that his back story would be believed even by Jack. His name would keep her safe, but he still needed a reason to save her, a reason to be there to save her. He walked farther into the silent surface of the river, the water not quite chill enough to frost over, but just enough to tinge his long red hair with crystals that did not immediately melt as he breathed. And so he breathed, slowly, listening to the sounds of himself in the near darkness of German winternacht, casting dusty senses about and gently closing any roving eyes that might be prone to catching him about his work of fixing the universe, one genius, brilliant little girl at a time.
Soon, he thought as he stopped just short of the river’s center and spoke faintly in her ear, as he caressed her sleeping face with both hands while floating her atop the water’s gelid skin, making sure to keep one hand beneath her so she would not drown in truth a second time.
“Soon your father will be out here, searching for you. Soon I shall trudge forth and bring you out of the river, and together, your father and I, John Schmidt the passerby, shall breathe warmth back into your bones and set you on your way with your treasures, Wil Beinert,” he said, smiling down at her as he saw the searchlights playing jaggedly across a ridge up the bank, “... as for me love, I have places to go, things to do. Harknesses to catch. He and I, we have a previous engagement at our favorite pub... ”
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