In the Middle of a Memory

by Blue Stone Shining Wolf [Reviews - 5]

  • All Ages
  • None
  • General, Introspection, Vignette

Author's Notes:
This is a short story I wrote in honor of the Tenth Anniversary of the Doctor Who re-launch. (Not a reboot, because it
continued on, it did not start over.) Though the 50th Anniversary was a bigger deal, without the "new" series there never would have been a 50th
Anniversary. Though he only stayed for one season and despite people (mistakenly) skip over it, we owe a lot to Christopher Eccleston and his portrayal of
the Ninth Doctor. We also owe a lot to Russel T. Davies' and his re-imagining of the Time Lord and his companions, along with the Time War back story.

The Ninth Doctor was my first Doctor. Having no understanding of regeneration, I mourned when he left and struggled to accept his successor. Eight seasons
later, I still love this programme, and each Doctor has a place in my heart. The Twelfth Doctor (especially after a review of last season) has become my
second favorite. But all these episodes later, the Ninth Doctor is still my favorite. I still cry at Parting of The Ways and still thrill when the
Doctor tells rose "Run" for the first time. So this is my tribute to the series as a whole and to the episode the (re)started it all.

In the Middle of a Memory

"What do you need more shoes for?" the Doctor asked Clara. They were standing outside a department store and Clara had that look that meant he had missed something obvious again. But there she was, holding two navy colored shoes by straps that were, for some unknown reason part of the design. "You've got two right there. Put them on and we can leave."

Clara swung the shoes by the straps and she raised her eyes in that "schoolteacher" look she used far too often. "You don't see it do you?"

"I see that you took your shoes off, which seems like a strange thing to do when chasing after an escaped Seivad," the Doctor said.

"I took them off because the heels broke while chasing it," she told him turning the shoes over, to show him that both heels had been detached from her footwear.

"Well they seem much better now," remarked the Doctor. "I don't know why you wanted to go running on the tips of your toes to begin with."

"I can't walk on them broken," Clara said, sounding irritated. At least he was pretty sure she was irritated. Her voice sounded like that quite often, actually. "And I didn't want to go running in heels. I was wearing heels because I was at a parent-teacher conference before you showed up."

"Right," said the Doctor. "So you wouldn't be mistaken for one of the children."

"They don't mistake me for the children."

"Of course not," he assured her. "You don't wear the uniform. Plus your face has too many age lines."

Clara smiled and shook her head. "Only you can manage to insinuate that I look too juvenile and too old in the same breath." Clara put a hand on the door of the shop and pulled it open. "Now, since the Seivad is safely contained in a cage in the Tardis, I'm going to get some shoes."

The Doctor followed her into the store. He was distracted by a vague sense of familiarity, but he let it pass to deal with the annoyance in front of him. "You have shoes at home," he told her. "Why not take a pair of those? You only have two feet."

"I would," Clara said as she walked deeper into the store. "That's why I said to return to London. But since you are ten years too early, I don't currently live at that flat."

They had reached the shoe department. "All right," the Doctor said impatiently. "Take a pair and let's go."

"I'll have to try them on," Clara said. "Why don't you go buy a jumper or something while you wait?" Her eyes moved to the black jumper he was wearing. "Maybe one without holes in it."

"Fine," he said relieved that he did not have to go through the ordeal of watching her shop. "But be quick." He began to walk away, but called to her over his shoulder when he realized he would not be there to make sure she chose something practical. "And buy trainers!"

The sense of relief from having escaped shoe shopping was quickly replaced by an uneasiness to which he could not put a name. The first sign of trouble was that he walked toward the men's department by memory. He knew this store. That was not hard to believe given the amount of time he had spent in London. It had become his home in many ways, though he rarely admitted it out loud, and even he had to purchase things from time to time. But it was more than that, more than just an amalgamation of similar shopping experiences. He knew this moment.

The uneasiness grew. He had to get his bearings.

A mustached man was looking at trousers. "You!" the Doctor said pointing at him and making sure he was loud enough that the man would hear him the first time, "What day is it?"

"Friday," the man said, looking shocked.

"No! The date! What is the date?"

"Fourth of March," the man said. Then he shook his head and wandered further into the store. Why didn't these pudding brains ever give the full date? How hard was it to include the year? He saw another man move out of the corner of his eye, and he decided to try again to find out the year. But when he had turned fully around, all he saw was a shop dummy. Something tingled in his mind.

While the Doctor tried to remember the significance of a simple London shop, he wandered over to the clothes rack that contained the jumpers. He didn't like any of them. The one he was wearing was fine, and the holes added character. He examined a black jumper that was acceptable then looked at the tag. It had the name of the store–Henrick's–and a price that seemed far too high for one item of clothing.

To his left the Doctor heard the sound of hangers moving followed by a scoff. "Stupid apes," the man beside him mumbled. "Spending money on a brand name. Could buy five jumpers for this price."

The Doctor recognized that voice. He turned his head just enough to get a glimpse of the person beside him, already knowing exactly what he would see. There he was: himself, but three incarnations earlier. This one was not grey with angry eyebrows. He had blue eyes, short cropped black hair, and a haughty expression. Like the Doctor, his younger self was dressed mostly in black and wearing a jumper, but the coat was leather and his jumper burgundy in hue.

Of all the incarnations in his recent memory, he held the most affinity for this one. The Doctor was a much different man now, but there was something in the younger Time Lord that was present with him in his current form. It wasn't just that he lacked the youthful exuberance shown by his two previous forms, it was that the Doctor and this younger version both carried the burden of guilt. Fresh from the Time War, the man beside him felt he was a murderer, destroying two civilizations for the sake of the universe. The man he had become knew that Galifrey had been preserved, but it was still lost. And the Doctor had made enough life-and-death decisions since that time to know that he was still unworthy of any hero worship his companions might have been tempted to bestow upon him.

Had it been any other point on the timeline of this version of himself, the Doctor might have started a vague conversation, just for the sake of nostalgia. Paradoxes were always a challenge, but he had been through enough of them that he could navigate them without devastating consequences. If it had been any other time, he would have been circumspect and kept his identity hidden while remembering who he had once been. But there was one thing that set this leather-clad Doctor apart from himself, one essential piece of the puzzle that was so precious that he dare not even take a breath if it would tamper with the timeline.

The Doctor stepped to the side slowly, turned right down an aisle of trousers then sprinted back to the shoe department.

"Clara!" he exclaimed, out of breath. He found her seated on a wooden bench. "Clara, we have to leave." He stood in front of her, panting as he tried to catch his breath. "Paradox." He took another deep breath. "I'll explain once we leave the store."

"I'm just finishing up," Clara said calmly.

He couldn't believe it! Could she not hear the urgency in his voice?

"The salesgirl is about to return with the right color shoe, and then we can leave," she said. "The store closes in fifteen minutes."

The Doctor's eyes grew wide. "Then we have to go now!" the Doctor said scanning the faces and hair color of the employees in the area. "We need to leave before we run into–"

"There we are! Women's Converse in navy," said a voice from behind him, a voice that for so long had only been present in his dreams.

"–Rose," he concluded.

"Do I know you?" asked the young blonde.

The Doctor stared for a second. She was wearing a pink shirt with a darker pink hoodie over it. He hadn't remembered how young she had looked when they had first met. Young and innocent. He recalled the feelings he had once had for her and the devotion she had shown to him. And though his feelings had changed to appreciation and fondness over the last few centuries, it was an integral part of who he had become. Part of him still wanted to stop and protect her from what was about to occur, but they both needed history to play out as it had. She needed rescuing from a life that was going nowhere. And there was a man currently making his way toward the basement who needed rescuing from himself.

Rose was staring at him in confusion.

"You helped me once," the Doctor told her. "A long time ago. And I'll always remember that." He smiled warmly at her. "Thank you."

"We get a lot of customers, so I can't say I remember," Rose told him with a shrug. "But you're welcome. Better than being remembered for messing things up or makin' you angry."

He had memories of that as well, but time and the big picture caused him to regard them with fondness, and he couldn't help but smile. Then Rose did the one thing that time could not disarm. She grinned with her tongue peeking out and touching the tip of her right canine. The Doctor turned away before he she could see the tears that had formed in his eyes.

"Ready Clara?" he asked in a voice that struggled to remain bright.

Without a word, Clara took the shoe box from Rose, put the new shoes on her feet, and placed her damaged heels in the box. "Ready," she said as she stood and walked toward the register. Her voice was soft and the Doctor knew she understood.

It wasn't until they had entered the queue that Doctor truly noticed his companion's choice in footwear.

"Sandshoes?" he asked. "Really?"

"What?" she said. "They worked for you for a long time."

It was hard to argue with that.

"This is a customer announcement," said a voice over the loudspeaker just as Clara had completed her purchase. "The store will be closing in five minutes. Thank you."

The Doctor and Clara left Henrik's knowing history was about to be made. They stood in silence for several minutes until Rose Tyler came racing around the corner in a panic.

The Doctor knew what was coming next. "Are your shoes laced up?"

"Yes," Clara said. "Why?"

The Doctor grinned like he hadn't done since his days in leather. Then he turned to his companion, raised his eyebrows in a mix of who he was currently and who he had been, and said one word: "Run!"

Author's (End) Notes: I have beta'd stories with all of the NuWho Doctors, and have some unpublished chapters with my version of TenToo. But this is my first ever attempt at writing the Twelfth Doctor myself. It was fun and challenging to write him after over a year of writing Nine. I hope his character shines through.

The title is a song by Carl Belew. I tried to pick a song title that both caught the feeling of the story and had lyrics that fit at least a bit. This is what I finally chose.

Davies' name backwards is the creature that the Doctor and Clara had been chasing. Also, though the first new episode aired on the 26th of March, according to accepted timelines, it was on the fourth that the Doctor met Rose. The night of the fifth she accepted his (second) invitation to