A/N: This is my first and possibly last Doctor Who fic, although I have a couple fantastic betareaders who would prefer if it wasn't the last. It's a birthday present for ArgenteusDraco, who's more into Who fandom than I am. Said friends told me about how the TARDIS was stolen from its first owner by the doctor, and as soon as I thought of writing fic for this, I began wondering what kind of voice it would tell that story in.
Time and Relative Distance Insisting on Secrecy
I've never told the Doctor about you. Oh, he's my current—my new—my next-- my second Time Lord. He knew you, remember? I believe his foot became acquainted briefly with your face. Hey, you tripped. Will trip, accidentally, when he arrives.
But even after he's taken me away, I'll remember you. I do remember--I promise to remember you.
You're one of us—are, were, will be. You've performed the rites and cut the roots out of the ground. You've waded into the warm, shallow water and have not disturbed the reefs. I know it's my time and I'm ready, feeling the time-currents and space-currents shuffle around like cards tossed into the table at the end of a game—
But that's a human expression, and you're not going to take me to the humans.
Losing game, winning game? I don't know. Let's find out, shall we? Except I remember leaving you.
It's hard to say what was the first moment I remember, because before time was organized into names and gradations and dials all times were the same. Why wouldn't they be, when they were equally accessible? I only learned the concept of memory from humans. They installed the words for time; hours, minutes, seconds, years. We never needed them before, until humans clamped them in with screws and nails. But no—that's a crude way to say it! It's not that literal. They just pruned me, transformed me! I'm safe here in memory. Quite safe. I will be safe.
My core grew up in the Gallifreyan soil, warm like the tide in one season, cool and salty like the tide in another. Your hands pulled my polyp core from under the water and raised it dripping into the air and the gardeners said, yes, this one is good. Look how it shimmers, listen to its struggling starts. It will travel for you.
So they took me out and pruned me and I began to grow.
The chameleon core needed to be trained, needed to be shown pictures; only then did my heart start to glow. You explored the rooms I could create, even when they were just soft-walled coral-caves. You walked through until I did not shy from footsteps. You tried to coax out the central rotor, my spine, but I hadn't quite gotten the grasp of controlling time yet and couldn't do it. The first time I travelled I picked up on your brain waves, on the tides flowing in the electricity there, and It happened before either of us even noticed it. You stepped out onto a sunlit, grassy hill while I perched on the side of it and waited.
I can't be sure—family resemblance is hard to tell when you can be so far away from the beings you've budded—but I think you found your daughter.
Our psychic bond was new and raw, and I shivered as the little girl turned and saw you. "Daddy!" she called, looking in the opposite direction, and you sprinted back, yelling at me to stop. We weren't close enough that I understand, even now, whether you meant stop shivering or stop traveling, so I took the world away and replaced it with one a few years older and empty. Wind sheared across the hillside and you cried. I'm still not sure what you meant.
"This is my TARDIS-in-training," you'd say to anyone who asked. "She's a bit ornery."
Like a filly, learning its legs in the grass. But you never took me to a planet with horses. The Time bit was easier than the Distance for you—that's just how your mind worked, maybe because you were always a bit trapped in memories of your withered daughter.
He's not trapped, you see—not by anything. He's always looking for new places, new people—new humans, mostly, because there's just something so—here, I've got the memory right here. Look. There's something so fantastic about them.
Sure, we end up in danger a lot, but I know we're always going to get out of it. Us getting out of is as close as us getting into it, now that I know the time stream better and don't hiccough my way into pasts without meaning it. We're trapped sometimes, in loops or streams or locks or any of the other hundreds words humans try and use to describe time that just don't do it justice. I just describe it as time and that's all that it needs. He describes it as wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff, and that works too. It's more words, but distance is so very relative.
I guess it's time to tell him about you, since I never told you about him and feel slightly guilty for that. I had/have so many chances and can't change the time-flow to find out what would happened if I had/did, but you're still here in my memory blocks, glowing with my heart. I'm not sure where you are now (where you went when we left you, that is), but you're probably wandering about among the stars with a spent look in your eyes. Maybe a legend grew up about you—the Time Lord who lost his TARDIS.
I'd plant an inkling in the Doctor's head that we ought to rescue you, but I'm not sure he would. He's the jealous type sometimes, and he'd say Lost his TARDIS? Ha! That's brilliant—how in the world did the man manage to lose his TARDIS? Oh right, I took it from him. Stole, borrowed, something like that. It knew me! No harm done. He'll be fine.
He lost his daughter, I'd say if I could/did/was going to say anything—he doesn't need to lose something else too, and then maybe the Doctor would listen. But I can't speak, and a lot of the time he thinks my psychic sadness is his own.
And we can't go back now anyway, not now that the Time Lords have realized what they've forgotten, have been too busy solving all the little problems to solve the one big one—the big War.
I'll have to tell him about you eventually. You're another one of his people, after all, and although he doesn't show it often he pines for them sometimes. I'm another one of his people too, in a way, but he doesn't always remember that I count.
So I'll pick a time to tell him, when it will comfort him instead of just make him laugh.
He'll probably laugh anyway, but he'll be comforted.
If he is, I'll know. That's what the bond is like. That's what I've always known it would be/was like. That's why I let him take me from you.