The Doctor and Adric were by the control console, calculating a possible course for their next destination, when Tegan came in the room. "Tegan!" greeted the Doctor, smiling broadly. His expression immediately fell when he noticed the worried look on her face and asked, "What's the matter?"
"It's Nyssa," Tegan said. "She's in our room right now. She says she wants to be alone."
"Ah," responded the Doctor.
"I think you'd better go have a talk with her, Doctor."
"Yes," said the Doctor. "I suppose I just might. If you'll excuse me..."
He walked down the hall of the TARDIS and stopped by the door of Nyssa and Tegan's sleeping quarters. Though the TARDIS was big enough to accommodate separate rooms, the Doctor usually thought it best to bunk fellow travelers together. He cracked open the door slightly and knocked.
"May I come in?" he asked.
"I'd like to be alone, please," said Nyssa. Instead of listening to her wishes, the Doctor opened the door all the way. Nyssa was sitting on her mattress with her back to the door. She was hugging her pillow tight, and the Doctor could hear her sniffling. He walked over and stood by her side. He peered down to her with a serious but kind look, with his hands clasped behind his back.
"Nyssa," he said. "I know I'm not the greatest example when it comes to this sort of thing, but it really is better that you talk about what's troubling you."
She gazed up at him, her eyes red and swollen."He killed everyone I loved. Then he destroyed my entire planet. I'm the only one left."
The Doctor sighed and sat down beside her. "I can't say I know what that's like, to be the last of your kind-"
"Once I'm gone, there'll be nobody."
"-But I do know what it's like to feel alone, like you've lost everything."
"How can you?" she said. She didn't mean to sound rude, but for an instant she thought she might have. But the Doctor didn't even think of it, something else preying on his mind.
"Did you know I was married once?" he said.
"Married?" she asked. She never would have guessed it.
"A very long time ago. I had children, grandchildren even. They were all taken away from me, too. My granddaughter Susan and I just barely escaped."
"Where is Susan now?" asked Nyssa.
"Oh, she's off making her own life," said the Doctor, smiling at his memories of her. "I'm very proud of what she's doing."
"But what happened that you had to escape, you said?" asked Nyssa, concerned. "Was there some terrible monster along your travels?" Even though the Doctor and the Master were of the same race, she couldn't help but think of the latter as a vicious demon.
"No," said the Doctor, his gaze very sad and distant now. "This was before I had the TARDIS. In fact, that was how I came to acquire the TARDIS in the first place." He sighed. "But this all happened on my home world, on Gallifrey."
"Do you ever return home?" asked Nyssa.
"Only when truly necessary," he said. "I'm afraid I can never completely forgive them for what they've done. But they're my people, and I'll still come when they call for me. Why torture all when only a few are to blame?"
"Do you think of your family often?" Nyssa asked.
"No," said the Doctor, flatly. After a moment of silence, Nyssa was unsure if she should press on, but then the Doctor continued. "Because I know that I have to go on with my life. I need to be numb, or else the pain I feel would just destroy me. And then who else would be there to save the world?"
"So you do it for them?" said Nyssa, a sad smile on her face.
"Yes," said the Doctor. "And that's what you have to do, too. Live on in the Traken name, spread peace and goodness wherever you go. Because if you don't, they'll die all over again."
"I never thought of it like that," said Nyssa. "I promise, Doctor, I'll try. For their sake."
"For their sake," agreed the Doctor, patting her on the knee before rising. He paused by the door, took one final glance at her, and smiled. She smiled back. He closed the door behind him and made his way back to Adric and Tegan, thinking of Nyssa. She's a strong, brave girl with her whole life ahead of her. She'll be all right...