The Doctor sat in the TARDIS, thinking. He was surrounded by writing, on scrolls and tomes and books from everywhere imaginable. He had read all of them, or enough of them to say that he had.
He sighed. "Love of mine, I think it's time that I make a stop somewhere that isn't about to explode."
There was silence as he stood up from the grating and bounced a bit on his toes. He made a face. "Well, I don't know, pick somewhere that has...um, pretty writing."
More silence as he walked down the halls. He huffed. "I said I don't know. It's your turn. Is there anywhere you've always wanted to go?"
He entered the main room of his TARDIS and began spinning doohickeys and flipping various switches. "Nah, we've been all over in the 1700s five times. Let's try the 100 BC range, yeah?"
He looked up for a moment. "Sweetie, are you sure that you can't turn that translating thing off?" Pause. "Yes, I know that I've asked a thousand times." Pause. "Yes, alright, two thousand seven hundred and three. Are you sure?"
He shrugged. "Fine then, off we go." He pulled a lever taller than he was and they went.
He stepped out into bright sunlight and a more silence. "Damn," he said intellectually. "See you in a bit, babe."
He wandered around. Everything was built of stone, but that wasn't any indicator. The entire world was built of stone in 100 BC sometime. The Doctor saw a man in a white linen skirt with olive skin and called him over.
He looked confused. "Can I help you? Do you have business in the Library?"
The Doctor stared, not comprehending, for a moment. "The Library?" His eyes went wide, and he laughed. "The Library of Alexandria, is that where this is?"
The man looked at him as though he were insane. "Yes...are you a visitor from the Empire? A scholar, perhaps?"
The Doctor took out his slightly psychic paper. "I am, in fact. I'm some sort of librarian man from...you do mean Rome, don't you?"
The man looked the paper over, and nodded. "You'll be here to take the national census back for the Annals in Rome. You'll see that we've kept meticulous records-"
"Actually, no," the Doctor interrupted. "That'll be my partner. I'm just wandering about as a tourist. Tell me, how many languages do you speak?"
The man blinked. "Well, sir, I'm an acolyte here, and a requirement is that I can read Latin, Greek, and Egyptian, and can at least understand conversational Persian."
"Which one of them are you hearing right now, then?"
"Latin, of course..."
Therefore, his primary language was Latin. "Tell me your name, would you?"
"Thalos," the man answered, bewildered. "Sir, really, if you want to look at the scrolls here, you are welcome to them...?"
The Doctor smiled. "I want to ask you a favor. Do you have any very pressing business?"
"This is my day without work, in truth. All of the acolytes live within the Library's walls."
"Will you read to me?" the Doctor asked plainly. Thalos hesitated before nodding slowly.
As they were walking toward a clear fountain in the center courtyard of the Library, Thalos asked, "Do you have something that you cannot read?"
"No, I can read a lot of things," the Doctor said. He could read everything, with the TARDIS still operational. However, the written figures all turned into his native language, which he had read for tens of hundreds of thousands of millions of years and more. It was all icky chicken scratch to him now. "To be more specific, I want you to describe what you see."
They sat, and Thalos looked from the scroll to his guest and back. "Do you truly wish to hear simply what they look like?"
"Yep. Treat me like a blind man. What is the first letter on the paper?"
The Doctor struggled to hear what he knew Thalos was saying; 'gamma'. The TARDIS translated it. It kept him from knowing so many things! "What does it look like, though?" the Doctor urged.
"It is written by drawing a line from the upper-left to the lower-middle of the character, looping back, and a line from the lower-middle to the upper-right," Thalos said. "Can't you see that?"
"In my mind's eye, I most certainly can," the Doctor gave him a lopsided smile. "But don't stop now."
Once Thalos had run through all of the Greek alphabet and half the Latin, the Doctor interrupted and asked, "Do you enjoy languages?"
"Oh, very much, sir. It is a joy to translate from one to the other, and a thrill when it is done perfectly. That is why I came to the Library in the first place."
The Doctor smiled. "I could take you everywhere, Thalos, but I don't think you would like that very much."
Thalos sat up straighter. "Oh, but I would! It has always been my dream to travel across the Empire and speak the new languages!"
"Yes, but my way takes all the fun out of that." The Doctor stood and felt in his pockets. He pulled out five gold pieces and held them out to the man. "Thank you for your time."
"You don't need to pay me! This is more than I will earn before the flood of the Nile!"
The Doctor shrugged and dropped them in Thalos' lap anyway. "Toward your education, then. Enjoy it for the both of us."
He went back to his TARDIS and closed the door behind him. He was greeted by silence yet again. He shrugged. "I know that it was pointless. It was fun, though. I remember what it felt like to learn new things."
He started fiddling with things on the console again. "Yes, you know I love traveling with you, and I learn new things everywhere we go, but usually that's somewhere along the lines of 'Oh God, I've just learned of a dastardly plot to rule/destroy the Earth'."
He touched the tall level and gave a cheeky grin. "Fine then, maybe we really do need a companion. I'm thinking from sometime boisterous. Maybe... London, around the 2000 AD mark?"
"I'll always love you more, don't worry." He pulled the level and they went off to the next pointless adventure.
I like the whole talking-to-the-TARDIS thing a lot. I mean, you know that he was insane for at least some of the jillion years he's been around. And there's no guarantee that TARDIS isn't talking to him all the time anyway.
Anyway, the idea that he'll never be able to read the different letters and pictograms of history just made me sad (I'm one of those fools who likes languages). So, there you go.