The Last Time Lord
The last Time Lord sat staring disconsolately at the dregs of a cappuccino, contemplating the perversity of the universe as a whole.
The Time Lords of Gallifrey had been the most powerful race ever to have lived. They had had mastery over space; time itself obeyed their commands. Their technology had be second to no other, in any time period. For hundreds of thousands of years they had observed the universe from a position slightly outside of it, separate and secure. And now they were gone, wiped from the universe as though they had never been. Now, the final representative of their species sat in a café on a backwater world, in a backward time period, drinking a truly pathetic attempt at coffee.
The whole thing was funny if looked at from the right perspective. And slit-your-wrists depressing if viewed from the wrong one.
Susan wasn't sure yet which way she felt like looking at it today.
Normally, of course, she thought about anything but. She still didn't entirely understand what had happened. She'd been aware that the Time Lords were at war, but with who she hadn't known. Nor had she realised how bad it was until she'd awoken to find everything changed. Her husband didn't know who she was, her city was twice the size and with nearly six times the population it had had, and everything she'd known was gone. She'd had nothing. No home, no family, no friends - there were times in those first days that she'd even questioned her sanity. But when push came to shove, as Barbara would say, Susan was still the Doctor's granddaughter. She'd managed.
Nearly a year later, she had a job, a flat, and a shed in which she was working on trying to create a very basic ship. Nothing much really, just something to get her off Earth and out into the wider universe. Once she managed to get someplace a little more advanced she could get something a little better and get to a race with basic time travel. From there...
From there, Susan didn't know. She didn't really have a plan beyond getting back to Gallifrey and finding out what the hell had happened.
There were certain basic facts she didn't need telling, of course. Something of a catastrophic nature had occurred and only a major timeline shift could have resulted in what she'd experienced. She was still surprised Reapers hadn't appeared to clean up the mess.
What worried her far more, though, was the silence in her head. It was possible all her questions would remain unanswered, because there was no one left to answer them. What ever it was that had happened, she may have been the only one far enough away at the time to survive it.
Susan pinched the bridge of her nose, fighting back another headache. Her head always seemed to hurt these days and instead of getting easier to bear, it was as though the silence was eating away at something inside of her. She'd never really thought about her connection to her people. It just was. Even when she was living among humans, passing for human every day, there was that part of her that was wholly Gallifreyan. It was rather like someone who'd lived their whole life on the seashore. The sound of the ocean would be so pervading and ever present that it wasn't really heard at all. In that way, the white noise of thousands of other Gallifreyan minds had been so much a part of who she was that it hadn't needed thinking about. It was barely noticed. Not until they were gone and the sound ceased.
Now it seemed there were some silences that you just couldn't get used to. There were days when Susan felt like the lack of those minds was going to drive her mad, and days when she just couldn't make herself care if it did.
Of course, she didn't need to go to some human doctor to be told that she was suffering from Clinical Depression and probably some kind of Survivor's Guilt. That is, if she could find one that wouldn't lock her up for being delusional. She was THE Doctor's granddaughter, thank you very much. Susan was perfectly capable of diagnosing herself. And dealing with it herself as well. Kind of. Her flat was almost pathetically full of plants and she'd got a job at a pet shop. She surrounded herself with life and just tried to keep going, day in and day out. Grandfather would have expected no less of her and just because he was dead was no reason to let him down.
She swallowed back the tears that rose to choke her whenever she thought of her grandfather.
This was stupid, Susan decided, picking up her purse and placing her empty mug in the dirty dishes bin. She'd finished work for the day and sitting in a café feeling sorry for herself wasn't going to get anything done. She'd go to the shed she'd rented and work on her ship. It would keep her mind off things anyway.
However, as she got out into the late afternoon Susan found herself wandering without direction, unable to make herself head for her attempt at a ship just yet. Today had been a bad day. Nothing bad had happened, really. It was just that since this morning she'd been unable to concentrate on anything, unable to care all that much. And since early afternoon she'd been hopelessly restless, as though there was somewhere else she urgently needed to be if only she could remember where that was.
Ah, the joys of depression, she thought with a certain grim humour. And here she'd thought that she had been doing better lately. Well, a bad day here and there wasn't the end of the world. A topic she knew something about since she'd seen the end of a few of them. She was Gallifreyan, she'd get through.
Susan almost laughed to herself as she reached the river and began walking along it, watching the light of the sun reflected in the water. She'd spent so much of her life pretending to be human. She'd taken a human name, a human husband, a human life. It was funny that now, when her people were gone and she really was stuck with a human life, all she wanted was to be Gallifreyan. She spoke to her plants in Gallifreyan, just to hear her native language out loud. She'd taken to doing even the most basic adding and subtracting in Gallifreyan, just to use their numerical system.
Once it was entirely out of her reach, she finally wanted to go home.
She sighed and reminded herself once again that moping wouldn't help. She could only imagine what Grandfather would say if he caught her being silly and whining about what couldn't be changed. It was that, of course, that had kept her together over the last year. Grandfather would have expected her to pull herself together and keep going, because there was nothing else to be done. But she supposed she could allow herself a walk this afternoon. She'd worked hard today and as long as she got a good amount of work done tonight as well, there was no real harm in it.
Everyone needs a good wallow sometimes, Barbara had always said. And oh, how she missed her and Ian. Almost as much as she missed Grandfather, though without the added emotional baggage. Barbara and Ian she simply missed. Grandfather was more complicated.
She loved him and missed him and sometimes she was so angry with him she could scream. He'd lied to her about the war, that much had become obvious. He'd pretended it was nothing, a minor thing she didn't have to worry about. The way he talked she'd thought of it more as an annoyance than a threat to anyone. And since all her news of it had come from him... It wasn't as though she didn't understand. He'd always done everything he could to protect her. He'd wanted her safe. However, rational understanding couldn't stop some small part of her from feeling betrayed.
Susan's foot struck a large stone, yanking her out of her thoughts. Looking down, she realised that at some point she'd wandered off the sidewalk and was now standing on top of a steep embankment, overlooking the river. She glanced around and groaned inwardly. Here again.
If she were to go down the embankment there would be the place where she'd last seen her grandfather's TARDIS.
She'd slept down there for the first few days after the timeline shift that had left her without any other home. She'd known what the silence in her head probably meant and even if she hadn't her constant attempts to reach out to her grandfather would have been enough. She's slept here anyway, trying to believe that in spite of everything, he'd come back for her. After a while, she'd finally come to accept that he never would, that he was gone along with the rest of them. At least, mostly accept it.
Every once in a while though, she found herself here. Looking for a TARDIS that probably didn't exist any more.
Leaning against the wall behind her, Susan wondered whether she shouldn't just leave. Was it helping or hurting her that she still allowed herself to check every once in a while? Confirmation that he wasn't here was probably good for her sense of the here and now, but did giving into the impulse to check mean that she wasn't really accepting that he was gone? Or was she hopelessly overanalysing this?
Oh hell, how would she know? She wasn't a psychologist. She hadn't even managed to stick around long enough to get her O-levels in 1963! She'd check, again. She knew that having arrived here she had to check. If she left without doing so it would only nag at her all night and there was no point in that.
Decision made, Susan pushed herself away from the wall and stepped over to the top of the embankment looking down onto the cemented river bank bellow.
She stood there staring for a whole minute before something in her brain finally registered that there was a box down there. A tall blue box, of the sort used during the mid-twentieth century on earth. A police box, in fact.
Ten seconds later found Susan nearly falling down the embankment, scraping up her elbows in the process. She didn't notice.
It couldn't be real, it simply couldn't be real. She was going to get there and it wasn't going to be there. She'd finally gone round the bend and was hallucinating because it simply could not be real!
She reached the TARDIS at a run, falling against the doors which were blessedly solid under her hands. Oh Rassilon, this couldn't be happening.
"Grandfather!" She slammed her hands against the door over and over desperately hoping he'd hear her. That he'd open the door and... "Grandfather, please Grandfather!"
Suddenly the doors opened under her repeated blows and she fell forward, her hands landing painfully on metal grating. She looked up in shock at the room around her. Scrambling to her feet she almost laughed. It looked like something out of a museum exhibit from her childhood, how the early TARDISes had looked long before she'd been loomed. When had he done this? Why had he done this? But it had to be him. No other Time Lord would have their TARDIS concealed as a Twentieth Century Police Box in the middle of Twenty-Second Century London!
As she reached the console and laid her hands on it, she began to shake.
She could feel it.
After months of nothing but deafening silence in her head she could feel the TARDIS reaching out to her, touching her mind like the softest of caresses. It's wasn't the firm feel of another Gallifreyan mind, but it was something. It was so much more than she'd had only this morning. And it was so wonderfully, painfully familiar.
"Oh, I've missed you too," she sobbed, running her trembling hands over the controls. There was no doubt which TARDIS this was. The welcome she felt, the overjoyed feeling of recognition that came through the connection. This was their TARDIS. The TARDIS she'd grown up on.
But where was Grandfather?
The doorway to the rest of the TARDIS gaped open before her and this time she did laugh, a slightly hysterical ring to it. How many times had he chided her for leaving that door open? Reminding her again and again to keep it closed when she'd so often forget, too exited to be off to think about closing the door behind her.
"Grandfather? You left that door open!" she called, but there was no answer.
The halls of the TARDIS were as changed as the control room, but they still felt the same as she walked along them, running her hand along the wall beside her. She was shaking harder now, shock setting in she supposed.
There was still no answer. The TARDIS seemed empty around her. Where was he? Could he really be dead after all? Would she find a body around here somewhere? Oh, that was silly. How would the TARDIS have got here without someone to fly her?
Susan's thoughts chased themselves around her head as she continued through the ship, searching for some sign...
Ahead light spilled out into the hallway from an open door and Susan hurried forward.
"Grandfa..." she broke off as she looked inside.
It was her room.
Completely unaltered from the day she left the TARDIS that last time; the bed was still unmade, closet door wide open, and her clothes lying in heaps on the floor. 3D postcards from New Earth were pinned to the wall by her dressing table along with cut out magazine pictures of musical groups from 1963.
Susan sagged in the doorframe staring around her helplessly. Grandfather hadn't changed anything. He'd complained so often about how messy her room was, but given the chance he'd changed nothing at all.
It was the shoe that finally did her in.
Lying on top of the rumpled bedclothes lay a shoe. There'd been a hole in it, she remembered. That final walk from the Dalek mines back to London had been too much for her city-purchased shoes and one of them had had a hole in the bottom of it by the time they'd arrived. Grandfather had taken it, saying he could fix it before going back into the TARDIS, leaving her to say goodbye to David. That had been the last time she'd seen her grandfather for a long time.
Her hand shook as she reached down and picked it up. She didn't know what had happened to the other one anymore, but this one was fine. Grandfather had fixed it. Then he'd put it in her room and... And then nothing. She'd never come back into the TARDIS to collect it.
It was the last straw and she collapsed onto the bed, unable to stand any longer as painful sobs welled up inside of her. She clutched the shoe to her as she turned her face into the old familiar pillows and cried.