You cannot (will not) re-write time (she’s asked you not to) but you can re-write history in her name, so you do.
She’s there when (earth-grown) man sets foot on the moon (three times? four? you lose count. she doesn’t).
She’s there when Mars is colonized. She breaks the ground and finds that Mars is not as uninhabited as it seems. With your help, your bespoke psychopath saves everyone.
So much for two psychopaths in the TARDIS.
She’s there when you (re)marry Queen Bess. Your two riot-haired queens who rule with iron fists and laugh at the faces you make (even the ones that aren’t funny). The two of you don’t stay long, but she turns up in the footnotes of English history regardless, as mysterious and beloved as the Mona Lisa (as she should be).
You introduce her to da Vinci on a lark and the whole of time shifts. Da Vinci shows her his flying machine, his inventions, his lost great works. They banter in Italian, talk physics and religion and philosophy over wine. Da Vinci is a genius, a man inspired, half-in love (she’s a muse in any time). She’s an archaeologist drunk on discovery (she won’t stop pulling you through the workshop, she wants you to see it all). But you’ve seen it all and none of it compares to her (dust in her hair, a sparkle in her eye). You babble excitedly just to see her smile. That’s all you ever want.
She’s in Pompeii a month before Vesuvius erupts (an obvious mistake). She takes a million pictures (for posterity, she says; for Cosmic Instagram, you think) and kisses you on the steps of an Athenian temple. She’s mercurial and tempestuous (she’s heaven in a peplos). She’s made for scandal (for memory, for cameos and coins). You flatter her so thoroughly Vesuvius’s ire pales beside her flush (Vesuvius who? That’s the question that should have made the Silence fall). She asks to leave well before zero hour. Not to avoid a paradox (your old face and an old friend are tiptoeing through this time period, best not to trip), but to avoid what already haunts her life: the inevitable. For now, death is for other people. So you (both) want now to last forever.
Between bouts of lovemaking, she translates diaries of revolutionaries and frees political prisoners who die young (you stow the translations to be found
posthumously someday and restore fixed points while she pretends she sleeps). You will not rewrite time, but you can tweak the plot of history. Her goal: to write a story less tragic, less futile, less…hers. Your goal: to write her. Imprint her, emblazon her, embroider her everywhere so that you are never without her when you have no choice except to be. For now, death is for other people, but really death is for everyone.
(Except you. You’re the ink spill on the universe’s spotty record. You’re the ugly truth–the [new] Fact of the Universe. You wish you were dead: fact. You can never die: fact. You’re being punished: possibility. It must be true; nothing else is fair.
But, as you’re reminded time and again in libraries and in bigger-on-the-inside houses nestled in the shadows of Towers that sing, the universe isn’t fair at all.
Twenty-four years masquerading as centuries (you keep count without counting, that funny Time Lord brain of yours) pass in blink. You drag your feet waking her for her departure. She’s programmed three alarms to compensate for your suddenly terrible sense of time. She rises early, distractedly burns breakfast, and you waste an hour airing out the house while she shrugs and checks what all she’s packed. You surreptitiously sonic two separate instruments to break before she’s on to you. You shouldn’t like it, how quickly she’s always on to you (you love it every day).
She steals your sonic, promising to take it on her trip to keep you out of trouble, and your hearts seize. That’s not the one that’s been with her for 24 years. It doesn’t have her mind and psychic imprint etched in its grooves. It won’t save her (won’t save [what’s left of] you). She knows you too well. She reads between the lines of the diary etched on your grief-worn face and gives it back. She’s (probably) read it all wrong and drawn the wrong conclusions. (She’d give it back even if she drew the right ones. She’s a good girl, better than you.)
You kiss her for what feels like years before she straps on her trusty vortex manipulator and disappears. (You count the minutes until somewhere in time a bond bound by a bowtie withers and dies. You count the minutes left in the rest of your days and curse louder than the Towers can croon. The universe is never fair.)
She’s gone as mortals go, but she lives on as immortals do.
She’s woven into the fabric of the universe: the lamplight of dying stars, the green-blue gas giants streaking the vast expanse, the glowing golden thread dashing boldly through existence from end to end to start (your doing).
You loomed her in as a love note, but from the great height of time looking down (and backward in retrospect, then forward to eternity), all you see is the love letters she wrote to you.
Hello, sweetie. Again (in a supernova) and again (in a meteor shower) and again (in seaweed-strewn Atlantis reborn). Then goodbye, one last time (in the coordinates for Gallifrey drawn in lipstick on the TARDIS floor: caution, my love, this may hurt).
It does, more than anything.
You aren’t used to the silver-tipped trees anymore and the twin suns dazzle your eyes (almost as much as she did–almost).
It’s worth it all the same.
(So was she.)