AN: ClocketPatch's story "Valerie for Forgetfulness" is directly responsible for the existence of this one, so go read it. .?sid=19931 Having said that, this is my version of the idea, that I wrote after deliberately waiting a week since reading hers, and in which I tried to bring something a little different. So any similarities, while probably not coincidental, are not intentional! (It did end up as an introspection, of course, but that is mostly because I do so like introspections. XD

I love things like this because they make you go "That explains so much!" So I ran with the 'explanation' thing, even when it gets goofy. And yeah, I know, it's like every time there's talk of a hidden Time Lady people say she's Romana. But the Friz is too Doctorlike to have arisen independently from him! It HAD to be Romana.

K I'll shut up now. XP




When one of her students asked her where she was from, she'd answered "Gallifrey," without really thinking about it.

"Where's that?" said another. "Is it near Walkerville?"

"No," she'd replied, laughing merrily, although she couldn't have said exactly why it was funny. "It's a very long way away."

"According to my research, the name seems to fit the phonetic patterns of Celtic Ireland."

"Irish, huh? Well, the Friz's got the hair, but the accent's missing."

Even though she didn't mind the children's personal speculations (and was more than a little interested in whether they figured anything out) she decided not to bring to their attention that being from Ireland did not explain why she had been quite grown before she first saw or heard of a school bus. Or why, when she had, she'd spoken in a British accent. She didn't know, herself. But she remembered that first school bus, that accent with which she had asked the question, a fact as simple and real as sound waves or photosynthesis.

A man had been with her, a doctor, tall and with hair as crazy as hers was now (hers had been much tamer then, she knew--even, for some reason, a different color). He hadn't even noticed the trundling, buttery-yellow vehicle, filled with kids whose laughter and chatter could be heard from the open windows. She, however, had been instantly charmed.

"What's that, Doctor?" she'd demanded of him, pointing as it went by.

"Hm? It's a school bus. Carries juvenile humans to and from institutions of learning. Place of networking, bonding, persecution, and warfare. Always smells at least faintly of sour milk."

Even though she knew he was probably exaggerating, she had liked the image, minus the sour milk. "School Bus as Microcosm." She loved microcosms in any form, loved finding the rules of the larger world recreated in a smaller one--the microbes in a rain puddle, the mitochondria in a microbe. But one thing he'd said hadn't fit.

"It's the wrong time of day," she'd pointed out. "They ought to have arrived at their institutions of learning a few hours ago, but it's not yet time for them to return home."

"Well," he'd said carelessly, "perhaps they're on a field trip."

"They're going to a field?" she'd inquired, earning an amused glance and a disdainful snort

"No, that iisn't/i a term they would have used at Academy, is it?" he had harrumphed. "Never were fans of hands-on learning. A field trip is... is an excursion, on which the participants learn by seeing things for themselves. Not unlike what we do, I suppose." She had grinned after the bus, imagining where it might be going, what they were going to learn.

"They all seemed very excited."

"Of course they're excited! Everybody loves a field trip."

She knew the man well. Or she had known him. She thought about that. Nope, still knew him. She couldn't see the universe losing him anymore than she could see it losing her. They were both very durable individuals, even if she didn't know exactly who she was. Oh, she had a lovely life and a fabulous job and a huge system of wonderful friends all over the world from this life, but it was a strange enough thing to have another life in the first place, let alone to be missing it. That man was what remained. Memories of him, like the school bus one, were the only clear ones--yearbook photos, smiling out at her and giving her a head-and-shoulders shot of her life. Which meant, of course, of him.

He'd been quite the clothes horse, collecting outfits by the dozens, male and female alike, yet he'd always worn just the one. She'd taken advantage of the collection for him, to the point where the clothes she wore were mostly his. Once in a while, though, she would get something for herself, or, more seldomly, he would get something for her. This dress and these earrings, as a matter of fact, had been from him, an impulse buy at some exotic bazaar.

"Lovingly handcraftged out of the finest Perpetually Relevant Calico!"

"The finest what?"

"It's quite brilliant. It changes its pattern depending on the topic at hand," he explained, very pleased with himself for his find. "Chap even threw the earrings in for free. Marvelous, isn't it?"

"Very," she'd said carefully, and had folded it up and put it away. At the time she'd thought it was impractically whimsical and dreadfully gaudy. Now, her tastes had changed--around the same time she'd dropped the accent and stopped saying things like "dreadfully gaudy"--and she wore it very often. She thought maybe she wore it because he wasn't around anymore, and she was quietly holding on to what of him she could. Maybe she just liked to see the children's faces when the tyrannosaurus rex on her skirt roared.

Even the inexplicable and unimportant memories were treasured. She remembered arguing with him once that she would never dismiss the many and significant virtues of the Type 40 (she had no clue, now, the type 40 of what) but surely he wouldn't be so closed-mindedly loyal as to dismiss in turn the virtues of the new Type 80s? And that no, of course she would never consider suggesting he replace the dear old girl. What kind of person did he think she was? She only meant that should she ever want one of her own--yes, maybe she would one day, but not soon, don't look so betrayed--she found the new features of size and mass modification intriguing.

They'd argued quite a lot, she knew, even if she had no recollection of the other arguments. They hadn't been that much alike; she didn't really know why they'd come together so solidly, why they'd been so special to each other. Even how they had known each other would have been a nice hint. But she thought she knew how he'd managed to spoil whatever plan had meant to erase her old life and give her a new one, how he could be so unforgettable. After all, he was her teacher.

She'd had other teachers, yes, at that "academy" which he'd named and she didn't remember. But he had been the best kind of teacher, because he'd taught her how little she knew. He'd taught her how to laugh. He'd taught her how to take chances, make mistakes, get messy. How could she forget someone like that, even if she wanted to? Even if she had to? It was as much part of her as her circulatory system--sometimes she thought even more so.

The children piled on the bus for a journey through Mendelian genetics, in response to a discussion of whether being from Ireland was enough to give someone red hair. She loved getting her students to investigate truth, to investigate it herself. The only truth she didn't investigate was her past--not yet, not before it was time. For now, she had a job to do.

She put her hand on a dashboard lever, and twinkled in the rearview mirror at an imaginary vision of a man with an enormous scarf and a toothy grin.

"Seatbelts, everyone!"