Character Study, Fluff, General, Introspection, Standalone
Written for Sixathon 2009. Pinch hit. This story wandered a little from the original prompt. The quote is adapted from a passage taken from Goth Opera by Paul Cornell. Special thanks to metalkatt for the beta.
Each time the Doctor had this particular dream it began with the same patterns of elements and odd incidents. Frequently, the dream reached a point where it would evolve into something new but even then there was a familiar structure. Dreams are metaphors and the dreams of timelords even more so. The trouble was that getting to the causes of the dream- and why it recurred so often — were exponentially increased.
Beginning at the beginning, there was Tegan. It was always Tegan, which was possibly significant. Her hair was different than he remembered, unflatteringly different in fact, and perhaps that was significant too. She wore her lilac air stewardess uniform which she had worn in the early days, so long ago. They had rushed from one crisis to another with such speed that the poor girl hadn’t time to change. But it was often like that, and really, the whole business of changing one’s clothes every day was rather tiresome and pedestrian. So, no, there was probably no significance there.
There were the usual arguments- although she hadn’t attempted to offer pitiful criticisms of his attire. That did show that, at least in his dreams, Tegan wasn’t petty enough to stoop to insults simply because she had a more limited range of fashion appreciation than he did. It all ran on a bit de rigeur from there, really. All up until the Sontaran showed up. Yes, but that wasn’t so odd; he’d been expecting him. What was very odd was what happened after that.
The little boy in the splendid coat… It was unsettling. Even in the dream, his dream-self recoiled from the prodigious sight and shielded his affrighted eyes behind Tegan’s shoulder. It was usually somewhere around the boy’s appearance that the dream would evolve with each iteration. The commonalities were underpinned by a marked decrease in causality. Usually, though, it continued with the boy assisting him to defeat the Sontaran, and then a strange man would show up. The boy, was he some sort of metaphorical projected self-concept? Only if it were an inverted one, surely: puerility for virility, worm’s eye view for the broad vista of perspective eminence.
From then on- well… They appeared to him like shadows- always different ones-, his old friends. Sara Kingdom, Katarina, they came and went, returned never reproaching him, caught and drawn to him in the peculiar physics of the unconscious; so bitter and beautiful. One time, it was the brigadier, Jo, and Sarah Jane. Adric quarreled with Nyssa, while Tegan quarreled with him — something about her education and being made to fetch boxes for him. He could, if he tried, imagine them as they appeared, like a waving field of wild flowers of many times and lands, a florilegium, and each a unique treasure. The TARDIS vanished into the compilation of memory, love, sadness, tenderness and joy.
Barbara Wright! She became a housewife, you know, and makes a rather good upside-down cake! She and her husband Ian have a son called John! My granddaughter, Susan! My friend Adric, who gave his life trying to save others! I have great faith in these people, whatever your name is, and if there's one thing that you can count on in this turbulent and uncertain universe it's that I'll never allow any of them to come to harm if I can possibly . . . help it!
They were his own words from a lifetime past, echoing back to him in that voice he’d almost forgotten. Strained nearly beyond endurance, his unfaltering belief in those people he shared life with so briefly was the bedrock of his resistance and the source of his strength. Then, as now, they were with him- in memory and in reality- giving him the courage to go on, in all his beliefs.