Characters/Relationships: 1st Doctor & Susan Foreman; War Doctor; 9th Doctor & TARDIS; Brigadier; 10th Doctor; Sarah Jane
Word Count: 997
Summary:The Doctor was once just the man who ran away from home to see the universe. But he's become so much more than that since the War.
Written for dw-remix. A combined remix of Atrogirl's stories: Home Is the Place That's There for You to Leave, Survivor, Veteran, and The Weather in Your Eyes, because all were so amazing it was too hard to just choose one. Thank you to morganfm for the beta.
His young eyes survey this unchosen birthplanet as he prepares to run away, weary of the rules and regulations, disillusioned with neglected power of his people. The stars themselves now summon, beckoning him away from this prison he'd once called home. And when Susan asks where they and his quite old new ship shall go, he replies anywhere, meaning everywhere, giddy with the possibilities.
Perhaps, he hopes,
as he smiles at his eager reflection, we shan't ever need to return to this stale old planet again.
Much later and far too soon, he steals a single Moment, and that stale old planet disappears forever. And, as the eyes of this ninth body close, they begin to reflexively and longingly search all of time and space for the home that now never was and will never be again.
He is confused when he opens his eyes again to his beloved ship. There is something... lingering on the edges of his mind, a presence that is no longer there. He wonders at its absence but even more at his unwillingness to remember it. This new body rejects the mysterious inconsistency, and yet yearns for it unceasingly.
His ship wraps him in her reassurance, begging for him to comfort her as well. But, she will not tell him what it is they have lost, though he feels incomplete and empty. He wanders her corridors, reacquainting himself with her beautiful intricacies. He won't admit to searching her for whatever it is that's been taken from them.
He loses himself in his ship, rearranging rooms and exploring her depths and detaching and reattaching wires. When he tires of meddling, he looks around at the result, wondering what it is he's really trying to erase.
He drowns his memory loss in anything he can manage, secretly hoping for a grunt, a whisper, an impatient sigh of disapproval that never comes. But, when he wakes, he finds he still doesn't remember what it was he had forgotten, and still can't bring himself to care to.
No matter how closely or how often he studies his faithful ship, he cannot bring himself to look in a mirror. Perhaps it would offer the answers he hasn't decided he wants. Maybe it would tell him something about being... whatever he was. Is. Mostly, though, he feels it might betray him, that the eyes that would look back at him would be those of a hideous monster, fearful and terrible and mesmerizing. Or worse, that they would show nothing more than the empty shell of a creature that no longer lived. Better just not to know.
He feels time slipping around them- him and his ship. As though it is a sense in and of itself. Its passing doesn't bother him. Everything begins, just as everything ends. It is simply the way of things, and he feels every moment.
The ship never betrays him. She holds him securely within her as they travel through the vortex, incessantly running together, just as they always have. His TARDIS and her... Time Lord. And, suddenly, his too-old eyes brim with tears, as he remembers once more.
Consumed by his memories, he stares straight ahead, for moments or hours or days he can't be sure. Suddenly everything makes sense, and he longs once more for blissful oblivion. He wonders how long he'd have to live feeling this overwhelming absence, whether it is worth living with it at all. But then, his TARDIS finally lands and opens her doors, bringing a very old friend aboard.
"Another one?" he comments drily upon setting eyes on the (now) last Time Lord. "Well, I suppose it was bound to happen sooner rather than later, old chap. Tell me, what's different about you?"
The alien looks up at him, really looks at him, before shrugging unapologetically.
"Don't know. Haven't bothered to meet the new face yet, Alistair."
"Hmm. I can assure you, something's... different about you. And it's not just the face. Something deeper than that." He sighs. "So, what is it this time, then? Silurians? Daleks again? The Master- is he back?"
"Not that I know of. Don't worry, your precious little planet's safe today. No universal threat out to destroy you silly humans. Made sure of it," he adds as a quiet afterthought. The Brigadier stares into his sad, worn out eyes and claps him on the shoulder in sympathy.
"Now, off you pop, Lethbridge-Stewart. I'll be in touch when I need you to call out the troops again," he offers with an easy, cheeky smile.
His old friend shakes his head sadly, eyes reflecting the pain the Time Lord must surely bear in his own.
"Ahh. Right. There it is, then," he says, mourning the man who-once-was as he turns to go out.
Before exiting again, the old man remorsefully takes in the friend whose biggest change was not in his face.
"Only a soldier ever calls for the troops, Doctor," he observes before turning around again, leaving a very broken old warrior deliberating which name to take up once more.
Years after he'd chosen to be the healer, he finds her yet again. Or, perhaps it is she who finds him. And she smiles and they laugh and grieve and reminisce about times long past and what-ifs, never-would-be's. But every time she looks up at him, it seems his Sarah Jane keeps searching his eyes. And it make him wonder what she sees.
Does she see the man of passion, still too young and burning so brightly with rage and zeal and fervour that it nearly blocked out the sun, consuming all in his path? Or perhaps she sees the detached man, far too ancient and tired and freezing out all unnecessary pain and anger and fear, even at the expense of those still living?
And then he wonders, not for the first time and certainly not for the last, were he to search his own eyes, which man would look back?