Six Times the Doctor Loved and Lost (And Once He Didn’t)
1. World (History Starts Now)
He sits behind her in Multi-Dimensional Temporal Physics and although it’s two weeks before he learns her name and five before he works up the guts to talk to her, he spends all of lecture staring at the back of her head, memorizing her hair. By the end of the first day he thinks he’s fallen in love and after their first argument he’s sure.
Five years later she finally agrees.
He reads her love poems from seven different planets and they get married in spring. Sometimes he just runs his fingers through her hair for hours. They joke that they can read each others’ minds, they are so close.
They expected, naively, that is would last forever.
Of course, it didn’t. A century passed, she grew up, he didn’t. It was as simple and complex as that. He became more eccentric and she gave lectures on Trans-Spatial Matrix Geometry. They met at family functions and were the model of loving grandparents when that time came.
Even though she didn’t understand him, she could predict him and was the only one unsurprised when he disappeared with their granddaughter after the accident.
She hopes he found his adventure and thinks of him fondly.
She sleeps in his mind, the distant love of a different man.
2. Brothers in Arms
He didn’t leave Gallifrey looking for a friend and certainly not a human one. But humans are so adept at drawing his fancy that he eventually gave up and decided to enjoy it.
They were special to him, but didn’t transcend the realm of special. Until he met the Scottish boy, that is. It takes him a while to realize what it is about this musician playing at warrior. When he catches the boy playing with the TARDIS light switch, he figures it out. He is fascinated by everything. The Doctor watches him watch the universe with wide eyes and delights in showing him more. He teaches the boy to tell time, appreciate rock and roll, read thick novels–he teaches him to think, to act, to love and let go. To look at both sides, to talk before fighting, to fight for the right things.
So even as he laughs, his heart breaks as he watches the boy pull out his claymore and chase the Redcoat over the hill and out of sight, and knows with certainty that it is immaterial whether the boy is hung by the British or whether he escapes; the man who was the Doctor’s best friend is dead.
3. My Best Friend
In the intervening time between his trial and being introduced to this plucky journalist, he learns what it is to lose: his friends, his lifestyle, himself. He begins to think that it would just be easier to travel alone, but when she has the audacity to arrest him in the Middle Ages (how did she even get here? he wonders), and when they’re making stink bombs later, he knows that he’d take this one to the ends of the universe and he doesn’t even mind.
He admires her independence and how at the same time she is compassionate. She memorizes his sayings and pokes fun at him and doesn’t seem to mind making jokes about being eaten. She implicitly trusts that he’ll get her out alright, if she somehow can’t rescue herself first. Whenever she gets hurt, he can’t help noticing how small she is when he carries her. They understand each other. They look at the universe and they laugh at it together.
He knows there were times he couldn’t have made it if she hadn’t been by his side. They become such constants in each other’s lives that even the bad guys can tell.
And then, the call from Gallifrey. She’d love to go, but he’s damned if he’s going to let them take her away.
Besides, he knows if she doesn’t leave him now, he might just let her stay forever.
4. Fear You Won’t Fall
The Doctor figures that this is an excellent example of why he’s never had another Time Lord along on the TARDIS (barring his granddaughter but she was always of his disposition and knew how to take orders). That’s the problem with this one: she thinks she knows better than someone who’s been doing this since way before she was even thought of just because of her triple plus Academy grade.
Only…she’s smart enough to learn from her experiences and by the time they finish with the key, she’s starting to enjoy it almost as much as he does. After that, she stays on even though her job is technically done, and he realizes slowly that it’s more fun to travel the universe with her than with just a robot dog.
Once she’s loosened up and got some experience under her belt, they make a perfect pair–complements, foils (slightly more serious to slightly more silly, book knowledge to centuries of perfecting the art of guessing, young(er) to old(er), female to male).
Eventually she becomes capable of dealing with the injustice and evil of the universe on her own with an aloof intelligence that he’s glad is on his side. E-space, he figures, won’t know what hit it.
“She’ll be superb,” he tells the Alzarian teen with utter conviction. Because how could she be anything less?
Five minutes later, he realizes, in retrospect, that he might have been in love with her.
5. Run With Us
She’s a tough girl, the product of her generation, and she’s got an interest in violence that bothers him less now than it might have when he was younger. He can see a brilliance in her, like a diamond in the rough that wants only some skilled hand to show it how to shine.
She balks sometimes, but he understands because who would know better that it hurts more to learn for oneself than to simply be told? So he teachers her, molds her, lets her make mistakes, and every time she leaves he waits patiently for her to come back. And she always does.
They have mad, wonderful adventures, and they both love it, but like any apprentice, the day comes when she must move on. He’s helped her see how great she could be and so he understands when she leaves to save little parts of the universe on her own.
She’s the bright and shining next generation. And she will be wonderful.
It’s petty, perhaps, of him to want to keep her a little longer.
But he does.
They met at the Academy, back when they were Theta and Koschei, two dark-haired, wild-eyed boys perfectly fitted to become friends and partners in crime. They shared a certain disregard for rules and authority; a sense of adventure and a desire for so much more than what a life minding their own business on Gallifrey could give them.
In the end it was Koschei who was the braver, who stole a time capsule and ran away just after graduation. Theta was too cowardly; he settled down and made a life for himself at home, but he looked at the stars every night, wishing that he had chosen differently, wishing that there wasn’t so much here to keep him tied down, that there wasn’t so much he would miss.
Time changes all people. Theta was an old man when he finally left on his first adventure. When they met again, it was clear that though some things (the bickering, the fascination) would never change, they couldn’t be the same again. Koschei had traveled the universe looking for ways to prolong his allotted time, for ways to control and dominate and make things the way he wanted them to be. He called himself by a new name now.
Theta no longer understood him.
And yet there was still something there. Memories, perhaps, kept him always hoping for Koschei to change back into the boy who’d been his best friend. Sometimes there would be a spark of something–but like a spark, it left as soon as it came. Theirs was a strange dance: of banter and murder, of opposites and some kind of half forgotten kinship.
He’s had friends die before, but never like this. Now, as the cooling body lies in his arms, he realizes he’ll never have the chance to fix whatever went wrong, so many many lifetimes ago.
7. Strange Cup of Tea
When they meet he is young and full of a mad desire to live that fairly spills from his eyes. She is old and spent and retired from wandering. But when the man and the child come sneaking in the night with a stolen key, when they touch the controls with shaking, inexperienced hands, when they wish (she can hear them wish) to see strange birds wheel in an alien sky, some small spark left inside her is ignited to flame and suddenly she doesn’t want to die anymore.
The girl leaves and is replaced by others, all children to her. When he changes, she is there to help and comfort (what’shappeningIcan’t–I don’t–headhurtsmusn’tthink–whoamI?) and though his face change, his mind remains the same. He is always there to let her guide him (he cannot steer), to go out and see and experience and live, to come back and let her see and experience and live it all within his memories. She cheers with him, cries with him, together they curse misfortune and then steel their spines and walk out to face the drums, together they are broken and together mended. She rejoices in his elation. She understands what he doesn’t say. She loves as he loves.
As he leaves for some new adventure, he lays one hand (big, small, slender, pudgy) on the corner of her tatty blue disguise.
There are some things (the most important things) that he never says.