Imaginary

by Dune [Reviews - 35]

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Author's Notes:
This is a sort-of AU for New Who, or maybe takes place after the season 4 finale. It's a bit complicated and was based on something stated in 4x12.
Betaed by xwingace, the quickest beta on this side of the Milky Way.

"Emergency Temporal Shift took him back into the Time War itself. Oh, it cost him his mind. But imagine, a single, simple Dalek succeeded where Emperors and Time Lords have failed..."

- Davros, the Stolen Earth



Deep inside the Citadel (at last fully reconstructed), there is a lonely room, forever holding a lonely Time Lord. The most important Time Lord since the mighty Rassilon. He's kept there and cared for, not because he's dangerous -- though some people would stress that he once was the most dangerous Meddler -- but because it is the only thing they can do for him. He broke their rules and saved them all. The Time Lords have always known what honour is due to the saviour of their kind.

The young ones no longer stare into the Abyss of the Schism, but visit his chamber as their initiation to the Academy.

They sit before his body, always still like a statue -- frozen in Time but for the rise and fall of his chest -- and listen to his mind. There they learn to understand what it means to make sacrifices for their race, for the universe. To overcome any obstacle to save one's own. They know he broke a Time Lock to go back and save them from the Dalek fleet. He gave his life, his sanity, to stop the war, to win it once and for all. They gaze into the brown eyes that hold madness, and are filled with understanding.

Some run away from his stare, but most are inspired. Not one pupil turns mad anymore, understanding calming frantic thoughts and distant drums forever. The Council agrees that it is an elegant solution.

Sometimes he talks, only his mouth moving in the stony mask that is his face. It could have been a pretty face, some agree, but for the deep, everlasting madness in his eyes and the complete lack of anything resembling a smile on his lips.

The words coming from those lips are considered a prophecy for the students witnessing them, for he only talks if his dreams, the memories tangled in his head in the wrath of Time, make some sort of sense for him.

"Jack," he sometimes says to the dark-haired boys (and the younglings' faces fall in horror; it's bad luck), "Donna," he whispers almost always to the few loomed redheads, the most blessed future Time Ladies. Already being ginger has turned into the latest regeneration fashion.

The insanity of breaking the Time Lock has hold over his brain. He lives inside his head, their greatest medics say. These great physicians of mind and body cannot help him; they don't dare to delve into his insane mindscape for too long. It's not healthy, and feels like an affront to this greatest living Time Lord. Whenever they try, they cause pain, leaving him with images of gruesome torture — by Daleks, by humans, by his own kind. They leave him in his dreams. They only touch the surface, and what they see there is saddening enough.

He dreams while he's awake; of an imaginary Earth, of his human pet companions and their adventures.

He's living adventures as the Last of his Kind, shouldering burdens even in the sanctity of his mind. He does not remember that he saw the War end and then did the impossible, tore the universe open to stop it. Impossible had never been a word in his vocabulary. He's happy in his dreams, happier than he ever was among his own kind.

The young ones learn a lot from him, watching him battle the demons of their past in his head forever. He'd never give up, never step down and let injustice win.

He'd smile if he knew how involved the new generation is with the lesser species, righting the wrongs of the cosmos. Thanks to his inspiration, meddling won't ever be a capital crime again.

The old ones huff in displeasure when another catastrophe is averted by a quick-thinking youngster, but memories of a War That Never Was makes them turn a blind eye, remembering the One Who Sacrificed Everything.

The Doctor saved their universe. And in his confused mind, he continues to do so, never knowing that he's stopped running, that he's finally home.