A Teaspoon And An Open Mind: A Doctor Who Fan Fiction Archive
Tenth Doctor, Eleventh Doctor
Blood on the Air by RoseByAnyOtherName [Reviews - 2] Printer
Author's Notes:
Second place winner for drabble challenge #27 at who-contest.livejournal.com. Prompt: air.

They say scent is the strongest link to memory, and the Doctor knows this to be true. It’s one of the many reasons he doesn’t care to carry money, or at least not loose change-on a bad day, the smell of a copper coin warm out of his pocket is all it takes to bring him back there. To the nightmare. To Gallifrey. To the Time War.

During the war, the air always smelled like hot copper. From Daleks, being melted down to nothing. From Gallifreyan blood, impossibly bright even against even the darker blades of crimson grass it had been spilled upon. From the shells and casings of the old-fashioned bullets the poorest of them had been reduced to using to defend themselves against the Daleks, and then again the blood because you couldn’t fight a Dalek with a primitive gun, not even of Gallifreyan origin. The Daleks lived, the Time Lords died. And died. And died.

Crushed under the falling debris of his destroyed home, he had only been able to watch in agonizing silence as a Dalek had shot his wife repeatedly, burning through her remaining regenerations and then finally shooting her in both hearts so that she just didn’t regenerate at all. Daleks didn’t laugh exactly, but this one had done something close to chortling when it had finished its task, leaving her body crumpled on the floor, the copper hair of her dying form spread out around her head like a halo. The monster hadn’t seen him, or he would’ve been dead, too. So instead he had quietly wept, not caring if he burned with the house around him, Such was his fate in a universe where he could save everyone except his own family. Someone had finally pulled him from the wreckage and handed him a gun, and he had decided then: no more.

So he didn’t carry money. And he always tried to save them, whoever them happened to be. No more blood shed meant no igniting those memories he’d tried to bury (and, if he was being honest, it meant redemption for himself to save them). If his mind were a graveyard (and he hastened to say that it might not be), those recollections were the darkest shadows that lurked in the fog, and the smell of blood would bring them creeping out.

Some days, if he looked at his companion through the sunshine just the right way (or was it the wrong way?), her copper-coloured hair would catch the rays of the sun, suffusing her in golden light and making him imagine he was seeing a ghost. The shadows would move then, too.

Still, the Doctor pressed on, inexorably marching towards an unknown destiny that he wasn’t entirely sure he had chosen. More and more often though, he smelled blood on the air, and wondered if it wasn’t the ghosts of his past reaching across time to finally drag him back to the fate he had sewn for himself.
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