Survivor by AstroGirl
Summary: The regeneration amnesia is bad this time.
Rating: All Ages
Categories: Ninth Doctor
Characters: The Doctor (9th), The TARDIS
Genres: Angst, Character Study
Survivor by AstroGirl
Chapter 1: Chapter 1Author's Notes: Many thanks to my betas: Red Star Robot, for insight and ruthlessness, and Vilakins for reassurance and Britpicking.
The regeneration amnesia is bad this time. He suspects it's because there's something he doesn't want to remember.
There are two things in his mind: a presence and an absence. The presence is comforting and familiar: the TARDIS. He clings to it as if it's his one friend left in the universe -- which, for all he knows, it is -- and if there's a feeling of sadness below the warmth of its companionship, if there's a sense that it's pleading for him to be once again his whole self, he tries to ignore it. The absence... The absence is like a hole in his mind, like something that has been part of him all his lives and is now gone. It feels dark and dead, like the silence at the end of Time.
He does everything he can think of to fill that absence, or to forget it exists. He wanders endless corridors, exploring the TARDIS, losing himself in its twists and turns. He spends hours taking things apart; occasionally, he even puts them back together. Somehow, in the course of his fiddling, he manages to reconfigure the console room. He's trying to make it different somehow, trying to remove all those symbols. The result isn't quite what he was hoping for, but by the time the structure's finished shifting, he's lost interest.
Somewhere, he finds a store of Vintellian wine -- an excellent vintage, he thinks -- and he spends several successive days getting very drunk. Alcohol is an unkind substance to inflict upon his still-reforming synapses, and he thinks he feels a hint of disapproval in the back of his mind. But he only smiles, mutters "down the hatch!" and drinks until the bottles are all dry.
There are two things he does not do.
He doesn't ever look into a mirror. He can't escape the irrational fear that, when he sees his new eyes looking back at him, there will be nothing inside them, nothing but emptiness. Or worse, they will be full of memories and he will never be able to look away. He doesn't need to see what he looks like, anyway. Why should he care? And there's no one here but him. He doesn't even care what his clothes look like. He picked them out because they were comfortable, and because they seem to remind him of a familiar place. He hopes it was a place he liked.
The other thing he doesn't do is leave. Something wants him to. The TARDIS keeps landing. He never checks where, just thunks the controls and sends them back into the spinning emptiness of the Vortex. He doesn't know whether the TARDIS is doing it, or whether it's the result of some complicated instructions he himself set up long ago. Either way, he doesn't want to know.
The time slips by. He doesn't bother keeping track. After all, what's time to a... to him? Nothing, he tells himself. Nothing.
And then one day, something happens in his brain. A click, a snap, and it all falls into place. All of it. Who he is, what he's done, what he's lost. Everything. The absence in his mind, far from being filled, gapes until it threatens to swallow him. For a brief moment, he considers taking his current life, just so he can have the amnesia back.
The next time the TARDIS lands, he doesn't immediately hit the dematerialization control. Instead, he stands for a very, very long time looking at the doors. Then he steps out.
He's in a park. On Earth. He'd know that sun, those trees anywhere. Late twentieth century, he thinks, or early twenty-first; he's even wearing the right clothes. It's a lovely day. Soft breezes and sunlight caress his new skin for the first time. The park is full of humans: happy, laughing people going about their little human lives, untouched by cosmic cataclysm. They haven't changed, he realizes with something akin to wonder. They're still here, still alive. And still in need of him, no doubt, perhaps now more than ever. Because he is still the Doctor.
He smiles. Somewhere, there's trouble brewing. He can smell it. Somewhere, there's lives that need saving, hell that needs raising, life that needs living. How very silly of him to have forgotten.
He rubs his hands together, straightens his jacket, and sets to it. "Fantastic!"
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