A Time To Remember by Gary Merchant

Summary: A stranger offers his help when a young Highlander fears for his sanity.
Rating: All Ages
Categories: Seventh Doctor, Multi-Era
Characters: Jamie McCrimmon, The Doctor (7th), The Doctor (7th)
Genres: General
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: None
Published: 2003.08.18
Updated: 2003.08.18

A Time To Remember by Gary Merchant
Chapter 1: Full Story
Author's Notes:

"You will remember."

The young man woke with a start. He looked around, reassured that he was still in his own bedroom. Despite the late hour, only an hour's sleep had been achieved. The nightmares had come again.

It had been like this for many months, ever since the end of the great battle. These were dreams that could not be easily brushed aside. When the morning finally dawned, a decision was made.

His mother looked at him, stunned by his words. She had feared for his life during the long months away from home. Now he was about to leave her once more. "Son, are you sure?"

He looked at her, saw the hurt he was causing and faltered for a moment. But his resolve was firm. "I'm sorry mother, but I must leave here. You know of the sleepless nights I've had."

"But to leave the village! When there are friends to help you."

"Aye, and would they believe the dreams? They'd think me mad." His mother said nothing. She knew that he was right. She could only imagine his pain, and knew that he alone must shoulder the burden.

It had now been a week since that fateful morning. The youth was now far away from any land he knew. There was no direct route planned, but he had heard tales of how men had walked great distances, carrying a heavy burden and searching for answers. On their return, these men claimed to have met themselves. Whilst no believer of magic, the youth had an open mind and readily accepted such incredible stories.

Later, he slipped off his knapsack and lay on the ground to rest. But sleep would not come easily, and when it did, the dreams returned. And this time the same dreams repeated themselves over and over. Unspeakable demons of evil challenged him. And in the midst of the terror were friendly faces - people he felt he knew, but had never met. Their faces were as clear as day, but no-one of their like lived in the village. And then came the voice. A voice which could not be silenced. "You will remember."

"Hello". At the sound of that voice the young man was awake and alert. At his side stood a stranger. Where had he come from? The moorland here was flat, with no obvious places for concealment. But the stranger seemed to pose no threat, although his manner of dress appeared a little out of place on the moors. Yet he seemed not to feel the cold wind.

"Leave me be," the youth replied. "I've not the time for chatter". Then he relented. "Do you know me?"

"I know many things," came the reply. "And we have met before."

"No." The boy was adamant. "I'd remember you."

"Are you sure?"

"Aye. Nothing much slips past me."

"Hmm." The stranger moved closer. "Then tell me this, James Robert McCrimmon. What happened after you said goodbye to the Doctor at Culloden." The reply froze on Jamie's lips. This little man did know him, and the initial shock turned to fear. Fear of his own lack of memory. "Well, Jamie? Tell me."

The young Scot struggled to find an answer. "I don't know!" he finally confessed. And with that admission, Jamie now accepted what he had denied for so long - that a part of his life had somehow been taken from him.

But the stranger pressed on. "Tell me about the dreams?"

This was too much for Jamie. "What d'you want of me?"

The man smiled again, this time a smile of kindness. "I've come to help you, Jamie. To free your mind. I've come to help you to remember your past." He paused for a moment, then asked, "Do you trust me?"

Jamie was unsure, but there was something about the man which was somehow familiar. "Aye. I don't know why, but yes, I do trust you."

"Good. Close your eyes." As he did so, the man raised his right hand and placed it on Jamie's forehead. "Now, remember."

It was as though a huge weight had lifted from Jamie's mind. Memories once half-forgotten now reassembled into crystal clear thoughts. His travels with the Doctor. Daleks, Cybermen, the Yeti - the nightmares now made sense. And there was Victoria and Zoe. And someone else - Peri. She had also travelled with the Doctor. Another Doctor. Jamie opened his eyes and looked at the stranger with new understanding.

The Doctor smiled. "You never did teach me to play the bagpipes!"

The two friends walked along the moors, each lost in their own thoughts. Jamie looked at his old friend. A different face, but still the same person. The Doctor's taste in clothing had certainly improved; a tweed jacket with a burgundy waistcoat and check trousers. Jamie didn't think much of the hat, though. Still, the Scot had known many wonders since they had first met, and this was just another which he now readily accepted.

The Doctor looked at his pocket watch. "Time to go, Jamie."

He had assumed as much when he saw the TARDIS in the distance. "Can ye not stay for a while?"

The Doctor paused. The offer was tempting, but he knew he must refuse. "Not this time, Jamie. I have an important task to perform for the Time Lords. But I wanted to make sure you were alright, before I left." The Doctor seemed reluctant to say anything further. "You have a good life ahead of you, and you know I never could settle in one place for too long."

That night Jamie slept in his own bed at home. The Doctor had agreed to bring him back in the TARDIS, taking care not to land too close to the village. Then, after a brief farewell, he was gone.

As Jamie slept, he dreamed. No, not a dream - a memory...

...on the Doctor's home planet, Jamie and Zoe prepared to say their goodbyes. "Will we ever see you again?"

"Again?" The Doctor smiled. "Zoe, you know that time is relative." As Jamie and the Doctor shook hands, their eyes met, and locked. As the alien surroundings around him began to dissolve, Jamie could hear the Doctor's voice in his head. "The Time Lords will attempt to remove all memory of your travels with me. But they will not succeed. You see, the human mind is a complex thing, and nothing stays forgotten forever. When the time is right, you will remember."

And as the young highlander found himself back on the hills of Culloden, memories of another life now lay buried in the back of his mind, waiting.

"You will remember."

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.

This story archived at http://www.whofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=147