A/N: Wow! I feel like I haven't written for the First Doctor in forever! I hope this makes up for it. Dedicated to the Doctor's virtuous fiancé Cameca... Better to go hungry than starve for beauty.
Disclaimer: Doctor Who and all its characters are owned by the BBC.
Think of Me... Think of Me.
"It was all that damnable Barbara's fault," the Doctor muttered to himself. He stood alone in the TARDIS' main console chamber. Everyone else had decided upon going to bed, exhausted from the day's adventure. But the Doctor's mind was too active for sleep, opting instead to give the console a good once over- always a relaxing activity. But even now, retuning the plasma inverter, his mind could not help but wander to earlier events.
Really, the Doctor decided, if it hadn't been for Barbara's running off after her own fancies, then they never would have gotten themselves into trouble. At least they hadn't bungled up Earth's history too much; however, he reflected, it wasn't all so terrible...
He noticed her figure through the negative spaces around the tree branches. Although, to be truthful, he had actually observed her standing behind him a few moments before as he spoke with Autloc. When he and Autloc began to walk away, she moved with them, standing behind the tree so she wouldn't be caught staring. It was her curiosity that first intrigued him.
At first, he saw only opportunity: she obviously wanted to learn more about him from the way she spied upon him, and he wanted to learn whatever he could about Aztec society as a means of leaving both swiftly and safely.
"And what about her?" the Doctor asked Autloc, pushing aside some of the leaves to reveal her from her hiding place.
"Cameca," the High Priest of Knowledge said. "Of all those here, her advice is most sought after."
Indeed, she was most helpful, even promising to arrange a meeting between himself and the son of the deceased man who built the temple, where the TARDIS stood hidden within one of its secret compartments.
And he found it most flattering the way she looked at him so intently, yet with a hint of something else he couldn't quite grasp. Her knowledge of horticulture was also quite extensive; it was a pleasure talking to a mind of worth after traveling so long with those two of average human intelligence and young Susan, who still had much learning ahead of her. And whenever Cameca smiled at him, he was always surprised to find that he had been grinning back at her even long after she had left his presence, like some smitten schoolboy.
But the tomb remained his primary interest. Gaining access to his TARDIS; extracting Barbara, Ian, and Susan from their individual predicaments; being careful not to alter history in any major way- all of which could only be accomplished through learning the mysteries of the temple.
"And that cocoa..." he said aloud, though to himself, in the empty chamber; however, he couldn't help the grin that found its way to his features.
He didn't know much about Aztec culture, aside from their religious barbarism of human sacrifice. It wasn't his fault that he was more interested in other periods in Earth's history, say the French Revolution, for instance. But Cameca seemed very willing to share her knowledge of her culture. He only wanted to show his gratitude toward her for all her help, a token of his esteem. He should have known better.
Even with his ignorance of Aztec society, he couldn't deny being partially to blame for not setting things straight right away. Instead, he played the part of the doting admirer, not wishing to push Cameca away while she could still be of some use. But, if he thought about it a little more deeply, perhaps he would have discovered he wasn't quite as skilled of an actor as he thought. Peace, content, and serenity with a woman of considerable merit didn't seem so horrible after years of aimless wandering. But he didn't give himself time to think of such things; the pin she had given him with the sign of Yetaxa set the cogs in his mind turning with intent.
And even as he schemed to betray her love, she acted most honorably. "If it is your wish, let our marriage be postponed," she told him, as they talked of Ian's deadly fate. He was surprised that she would say so, knowing of her affection, even willing to do all she could in assisting in Ian's rescue.
And she knew all too well that he would leave. Though he felt sorry to disappoint her, he couldn't fulfill her desire. This wasn't his place, his time, his home. The stars beckoned; they had always been his first love, and he couldn't bare to lose them as well. Which is why he understood the pain masked behind Cameca's noble features; the knowledge of happiness that lies just out of reach. "You're a very fine woman, Cameca," he told her. "And you'll always be very, very dear to me."
He pulled out the pin with the sign of Yetaxa from his pocket, caressing it intently, thinking of her, of what might have been if the circumstances had been different.
"Doctor?" came a voice from behind him. "Is that you in there?"
"Hm...?" he said, quickly pocketing the pin and turning around. "Oh, Barbara! What in heaven's name are you doing up at this hour?"
"I couldn't sleep a wink," she said, coming closer. "You were right, I shouldn't have tried to meddle with things. It wasn't my place to attempt to instill my own self-righteous ideas into their society."
"You and I have a special gift, Barbara," he said, patting her hand affectionately. "To tread through all of history, like through the sand at the shore, leaving a footprint until the tide of time washes it away. Don't be upset with your failure, but be glad at your achievement with Autloc. After all, change always begins with one small idea, nurtured until it grows strong. You couldn't change an entire culture, no, but you succeeded with one man, and, perhaps, even with yourself."
"I suppose so, Doctor," she sighed. "As they say, the only real failure is in not learning from your mistakes; unlike with history, we are only doomed to repeat them if we do not attempt to better ourselves from them."
"Sensible words, my dear."
"Yes," she said. "Funny how hindsight makes geniuses of us all."
"Yes," the Doctor agreed. "Interesting thing that."
There was a moment of pause before they began to chuckle, much needed as it was for the both of them.
"Come now, my dear," the Doctor said to Barbara, leading her back to the corridor that led to her bedchamber. "We must rest up for our next adventure. As another illustrious woman such as yourself once said, 'An interested mind brooks no delays.'"
"Who said that?" asked Barbara.
"Perhaps I'll tell you another time," he said, enigmatically. They said goodnight as Barbara returned to her room.
The Doctor, too, decided to retire to his room, knowing he would never forget Cameca, and, in the back of his mind, knowing he would never want to.