Title: Missing things
A/N: spoilers for LoM 2x08 and DW 3x13; if that still counts; set in an AU where the Master lived.
It is also Doctor/Master. And Doctor/Sam, in a way.
It's been beta-read by edzel2 - thank you!
Sam Tyler was walking to the station when a tall, incredibly thin man in a blue pinstriped suit stopped dead right in front of him. He had on a long, brown coat and red Converses, and looked, if Sam had to choose one adjective, out of time.
At least in the manner of his clothing, the DI decided, further observing the man. Yes, his clothes were strange, and his face certainly wasn't easy to forget, quite the contrary: the man was obviously very attractive. However, he seemed to be at ease with everything around him, as if he belonged where he was and somehow, he didn't attract a second glance from any passer-by.
He was also oddly familiar. The moment Sam noticed it was also the moment he noticed that the man was looking straight at him, a strange mixture of happiness and sorrow on his face - and that meeting, it had happened before, Sam thought. Déjà vu of some kind, or an old memory, perhaps?
"I'm sorry, do I know you?" Sam asked, as it was the first thing he could think of. Maybe the man would laugh at him, but Sam was more than used to getting strange looks and smiles by now. Only he didn't get one now.
"Oh yes," the man grinned, seemingly delighted. Sam frowned.
"I see. Um, forgive me, but could you tell me your name...?"
"Oh, but you know it."
Sam opened his mouth, but instead of a speech about how he wouldn't have asked if he knew, he only said one word.
"See? And I wonder if you remember... How old am I?"
Again, the answer just came to his tongue.
"911 in Gallifreyan years."
And I'm mad, he thought. Absolutely mad. And so is this man, the Doctor, 'cause he seems to agree and hasn't phoned any mental hospital yet. And while he's at hospitals, Doctor who?
"That's not a name," he said, returning to the previous topic. The Doctor laughed.
"Oh, you're one to talk."
He was right, Sam thought, but not exactly honest. There was... A name came to his mind, but he couldn't quite grasp it, and it was quickly replaced by another, easier one.
"Stop it," the Doctor snapped.
Sam did. "How do I know you?" he asked after a few seconds of silence.
"School," the Doctor replied, and it was a completely true, but not the real answer at the same time and they both understood it, though Sam wasn't quite sure how he knew. He was studying the Doctor's appearance, still trying to place him in his memories and failing miserably. The Doctor, on the other hand, moved his eyes away and looked at the sky, quiet, his face blank. For a moment neither of them said anything.
"You'll be late to work, if you don't go now," the Doctor stated suddenly. Sam checked his watch and cursed.
"Suppose you're right, Doctor. Thanks," he nodded, but didn't move. It was the Doctor who started to walk away first, and Sam just stared at his back for a few seconds.
"Oh, and by the way." The Doctor turned back, taking something out of his pocket. "I believe this is yours, Sam Tyler."
He passed him an old-fashioned fob watch.
Had he been asked one second ago, Sam would have sworn he had never possessed such a thing, but now he knew, more than knew, was certain on an almost subconscious level that it was indeed his, and he had to touch it, of course, he needed to...
"Don't you dare!" he thought. But it wasn't his thought, at least on a conscious level, was it...? By a sheer strength of willpower, he managed to look past the watch, at the Doctor.
Theta was observing him steadily, not betraying how hurt he was inside, just as he always did. One time he'll get himself killed and won't even notice, selfish idiot, always leaving everybody behind...
Sam reached out his hand and slowly, carefully took the fob watch from the Doctor's hand. Cold fingers - the Doctor's, lower core temperature, of course; and his own - disgustingly human, warm - met for a second, and then Sam was holding the fob watch, wondering why exactly he had been so interested in it and staring at it indifferently.
/Don't hurt him. Don't let him hurt you. Leave, you stupid human, while you're still able to.../
He shrugged and shoved it in his jacket, next to his DI badge.
The Doctor was observing him sadly, but didn't say another word as Sam thanked him and left.
The Test Card Girl didn't visit him that night. Instead all he could hear was a regular sound of drumming, one two three four, one two three four, the never-ending drums; he saw a blue-skinned woman and then a blonde one, and they both shot him. But he didn't feel pain, not until he saw dark brown eyes, looking at him - in him - with a distressing intensity and filled with an overwhelming loss.
With a scream, he woke up.
The next day turned out to be pretty calm. There weren't any immediate calls, so Sam sat down at his desk and decided to catch up with his – and half of the station's – paperwork.
Half an hour later he gave up. He couldn't concentrate, was reading the same form for what must have been the hundredth time and for some reason kept drawing random circles and lines on clean pages.
He decided to get some coffee.
When he returned, the Doctor was standing next to his desk, looking at the drawings with a strange face.
"Yeah, yeah, I know, I should be finishing the report... come on, have you never scribbled?"
He didn't know why he was excusing himself. It wasn't as if the Doctor was his boss – hell, how ridiculous the mere thought sounded – and anyway, what was he doing at the station? Nobody seemed to notice him, and he had a distinct air of somebody being at just the right place, sort of as one might be at his home, but his choice of clothes (brown suit today, still very tight; white Converses and no coat, all in all he looked strangely appealing - if a little too skinny) was prone to attract some attention, wasn't it? Especially in 1973.
"Hm?" The Doctor looked at him, his dark brown eyes suddenly intense, and underneath sad, hurt, guilty... Those were the eyes from his dream, Sam remembered, and felt dizzy.
"Oh, I have, but these are not scribblings. It's Gallifreyan. Your native language."
"I don't -" he stopped. The Doctor's words... They weren't English. He understood him, but it wasn't English.
"See?" The Doctor smiled, but there was still sorrow in his expression. He shook his head and then grinned, a little maniacally. He carefully folded the paper with circles and started to walk away.
"Wait! This paper, it's mine."
"But you didn't know what you were writing, now did you? Anyway, I doubt if you'd understand the writing, and if you did, you don't want to be reminded of them," he answered, getting quieter with each word, pain in his voice. Sam wanted to ask what "them" he had in mind, but he couldn't. Medical scanners beeped in the background and lights started to go out; and the sound in his mind was slowly drowning out everything else, one two three four...
"Sam," the Doctor said, and the human shook himself back to the reality.
The Doctor moved once again and this time Sam didn't stop him. It was only after the door had closed behind the Doctor that he noticed people staring at him.
"What have I done this time?" he sighed.
"It's just... I didn't know you speak Irish, boss," Chris answered quietly after a while.
"Wasn't Irish," Sam muttered and went out. He needed some more coffee.
A blonde woman in a red dress with a mad look in her eyes was dancing with him. More accurately, he was dancing with her, leading her - mastering her. A Scissor Sisters' song which hadn't yet been written was loud in the background, but all Sam could concentrate on was drumming, the constant drumming in his head. The rhythm of four sounded mercilessly and gave him one hell of a headache, but nevertheless he danced each step, at least for a short while, because after few seconds he became bored, left the woman - Lucy, wasn't it? - and turned his attention to a man in a wheelchair.
Sam sat up.
The girl was watching him steadily. The blonde girl in a red dress.
Come to think of it, she resembled Lucy. Always the women, he thought.
"Why, Sam? You wanted to run away, didn't you? So why search for it now?" she asked, and Sam snapped out of the remnants of his dream. He had never known any Lucy.
The girl disappeared, but he didn't sleep any more that night.
He could only blame himself, he thought, feeling a sharp pain.
They had gone to collect witness statements, and during questioning one of the neighbours spotted a man fitting the description given them earlier. Gene and Sam had run after the suspect, caught and handcuffed him. They had taken him to the station and later to the cell. Arrest as usual.
What they hadn't done, however, was to search him before removing the cuffs.
The suspect had waited patiently, and when Sam had freed him, the man had moved quicker than his posture would have suggested possible, taken a knife out of his pocket and stabbed Sam just below his ribs. Lack of sleep had probably slowed Sam's reflexes, and when he had tried to dodge, it had already been a second too late.
So now Sam was wincing with pain, kneeling on the cold floor, vaguely aware that Gene had knocked the man out cold and was kneeling next to his bleeding DI. Sam tried to push his hands to the wound, but it seemed to be an impossible task.
"Hell, Gladys, only you could get stabbed in the station, couldn't you?" Gene said, hiding concern, and gently removing Sam's hands from the wound. His shirt and jacket were already red, but the knife was still plunged deeply in.
"Nice of you to be worried," Sam whispered. "It's ok. Nothing really."
"That's why you're whiter than snow?"
"No, that's 'cause it hurts."
"Girl," Gene muttered. "Ambulance will be here shortly."
"Afraid he'll need it more," Sam tried to laugh, winced, and pointed at the unconscious criminal.
"Don't worry 'bout him, Dorothy!" Sharp words, covering concern. Funny, that, how Sam used to use the same technique with the Doc...
"Sir? There's a man, says he's a doctor..." a voice called from the corridor.
"Well then bloody let him in!"
"Hello, I'm Doctor Smith... If you would be so kind as to let me examine the patient?" Sam heard a familiar voice and Gene was pushed aside, the Doctor taking his place near Sam.
"I'll go and see what's taking that ambulance so long," muttered Gene, and Sam heard his footsteps recede.
"So you do have a name," the DI said, wondering why it felt so wrong.
"Hello, I'm the Doctor." The Doctor waved. "Haven't I introduced myself? Anyway, let me see..."
He had a device resembling a pen in his hand and now did something with it. A soft whirring sound and blue light filled the cell for one moment. Sam felt warm in his side and concentrated. He forced himself to look at the Doctor, and the device in his hand. Not a pen, Sam thought. A screwdriver. Sonic.
"Laser is better," he remarked. A strange emotion flew through the Doctor's face.
"A matter of taste," he replied. "Now... I've stopped most of the bleeding; the knife is actually helping right now. Guess I should just get you to the A&E and let them take care of taking it out. Bandage you, maybe, though it's nothing serious anymore."
Sam considered it.
"Now I don't know how much of a doctor you really are, but I'd rather you did it."
Sam probably should be surprised, maybe distrustful as such technology didn't exist even in 2006, but something, some hunch, to use Gene's favourite word, told him not to think too much - it was all perfectly logical, the man taking care of him was the Doctor, so everything was alright - and he trusted this feeling.
"You would trust me?" the Doctor asked in a strange voice.
"Yes. But don't ask why. I'm probably mad anyway."
"You are not mad, Sam Tyler," the Doctor answered seriously and then grinned in that unsettling way of his. "Well, not in the way you think you are, at least. And I am not a human doctor. Though..."
He used his sonic screwdriver again and Sam felt his pain disappearing, and he couldn't ignore it anymore.
"Sonic has its advantages. Now, I shouldn't do anything more. This is 1973 after all and you live here. You'll go to the hospital and let them bandage you, give you pills and a sick note for few days."
"You've said you'd go with me," Sam remembered and cursed himself. He didn't want to sound like a whining child, but for some reason he quite desperately didn't want the Doctor to leave either.
"Do you want me to?" The Doctor seemed genuinely surprised.
"I trust you more than the 70's medical equipment."
"Fair enough," the Doctor laughed.
"And I'd rather avoid sick leave." Sam decided to push his luck.
"Well, you were on a sick leave tomorrow. Let's not create a paradox, shall we?"
It took Sam a moment to understand the words.
"I was... Tomorrow?"
"You've no problems with travelling back in time 33 years, but one day upsets you? Come on."
"So. You knew I was somehow injured... You came back to check on me?" Sam finished, not really a question.
"I'm the Doctor."
"The man who makes people better," Sam agreed quietly, and then he snapped, "how many laws of time are you breaking right now, idiot?"
The Doctor shuddered and stopped smiling. For a second he looked alien, alien and old, looking at Sam, but not seeing him; then he shook his head and stood up.
"Your DCI is returning."
Sam wanted to ask how he knew, but he was getting tired. He didn't feel pain anymore, so it was easy not to think about the wound, and once the Doctor had turned his attention from him, Sam didn't have anything to help him stay awake.
Somebody called him.
"Keep your eyes open, will you?" the Doctor asked quietly and turned away once more. "Hello, Mr. Hunt."
"DCI Hunt," the Doctor agreed. "As for Sam's wound, it's pretty shallow, he won't need stitches... But taking out this knife - it would hurt, and right now it's stopping the bleeding. I reckon it would be best not to touch it until he's in a sterile room. I will accompany him to the hospital when the ambulance arrives," he said with such a serious face and seemingly proficiency that Sam had to force himself not to laugh. Gene straightened, probably preparing to look down at the Doctor – and that was when Sam noticed that the Doctor, in his flat Converses, was taller than the Guv. And two, if not three, times thinner. Sam wondered if he ate at all. He was so skinny, it couldn't have been healthy; though admittedly he seemed to be full of energy.
"He's my DI, I'll look after him," Gene said, hands on his hips.
Sam cursed himself. Of course the Guv'd say that. His trust or lack thereof in hospitals was quite legendary.
And now Sam had to choose, and he didn't know what to do.
Because he worked with Gene, he trusted him, he considered him his friend, and he hardly knew the Doctor. But there was something about that alien man that made Sam want to cling to him and never let go. Something calling to him, something familiar, as a friend long time not seen, a bond going deeper than Sam could explain; something about his eyes maybe, these deep eyes which could see right through you, or something about the way he seemed ageless, timeless, and time-possessing at once, Time Lord...
"Time Lord," he said aloud.
The Doctor moved his eyes back to him one more time and answered, his voice quiet yet firm.
"Last one. But that's your choice, Sam Tyler."
Ambulance arrived, saving Sam from the Guv's questions.
As it turned out, the Doctor was right. Sam was called lucky at hospital - "you must have an angel looking after you," one nurse said - his wound was dressed, he received a drip and a blood transfusion just in case, and in the evening was allowed to go home. He got sick leave for four days and was to be confined to desk duty for at least a week, but all in all, he had to admit that it could've been much worse, though he dreaded the mere thought of spending a week and a half doing nothing.
However, he had a lot to think about. First of all, he hadn't been aware of the fact that his blood type was so difficult to find a right match. In fact, in the end the doctors decided to give him O, a universal donor. It uncomfortably reminded Sam of a voice he'd heard just after the accident. "Cross-match blood," indeed.
Secondly, and somehow more importantly, there was the Doctor. Sam wasn't sure how he felt about him. He didn't know him – and yet he did, better than anyone else. He would trust him with his life – well, he had, actually – but felt uncomfortable letting him out of his sight. If he wanted to be honest, he wasn't actually afraid of what the Doctor could do, but the thought of him disappearing was too much to bear.
He wanted to run away, because he couldn't stand it if the Doctor ran first.
His feelings ranged from hate to love, but at both ends, were full of need; Sam didn't think it was possible to forget somebody who made him feel like this, but clearly he had, hadn't he?
He shouldn't be thinking about him that much. He only consciously saw him three times, after all. He was obsessed with him already. He didn't really mind. Nothing made much sense in his life recently, anyway.
Gene drove him home, made sure to remind him how much of a Nancy he was for getting hurt in the first place, and then indulged in some pretty innovative threats concerning Sam's scrotum should he approach the station during his leave.
"Rest, Dorothy," Gene said in the end and left.
Sam went to the kitchenette in order to make some tea.
When he returned to his tiny room again he was startled to see the Doctor leaning against his door.
"Well, not the best lock I've ever seen, that." The Doctor shrugged. "Anyway, I only came to check on you. Old medical equipment and so on."
"Yeah," Sam smiled. "I'm okay. Still don't feel pain. Thanks. By the way, do you know what my blood group is?"
"Yup. As for short transfusion, any Rh negative would suffice. Oh, and – take something for pain before you sleep; it may return in the night."
Sam nodded once. AB minus it was, then, should he ever need this piece of information again. He didn't want to think about the fact that the Doctor didn't exactly formulate a straightforward answer. "Would do" is hardly a full confirmation.
"Um, so, do you want some tea?"
"Yes, but sit down, Mister Got-stabbed-in-my-own-police-station. I'm perfectly capable of boiling the water, me. I promise not to blow anything up."
Sam wanted to protest, but the Doctor was already in the kitchen, and why the hell does he always move with such grace with those long limbs?
Sam shook his head. No time for thoughts like that, he reminded himself. It was still 1973, even if the Doctor didn't seem to live in that particular era. Or any era, come to think of it, however crazy the thought was. Sam knew that they weren't both mad - to quote the Doctor, not in this way, but...
He reallyshould stop thinking so much. He sat on his tiny bed, holding his cup of tea, and delighting in its warmth. The Doctor joined him soon after, sitting in the armchair.
"So," he said.
"You're a time-traveller," Sam stated. Cold facts; certainly not his emotions, and most certainly, not trying to make sense out of his situation because if he tried to, he would have to admit how ridiculous it was.
"Quite obvious, that one."
"Can you take me home?"
"And where or when would that be?" The Doctor raised his eyebrows, but there was no malice or sarcasm in his voice. Sam blinked a few times.
"You know me," he said.
"Already told you that."
"Yeah. You did," Sam agreed, recalling standing on a top of a cliff, looking down at the uncountable rockets.
The Doctor didn't look at him when he started talking.
"I probably shouldn't be doing this, and you're injured right now, but then again, I've never been good at doing what I should, just remember the Aca... Anyway! What do you remember, Sam?"
He understood that the Doctor wasn't asking about today's attack or the car accident thirty three years in the future, and his concussion had nothing to do with anything. Sam wondered if he should lie, but decided against it; first of all the Doctor would probably notice anyway, and secondly – he desperately wanted to share his emotions with somebody, and Annie already thought him crazy.
"It's mostly dreams... It's going to sound silly, really. A woman in a red dress. A girl in a red dress. A big ship - airship. People closed in orbs and metal monsters. Red grass, and two suns, and sea devils... A fair haired boy with blue eyes, an older man with curly hair in ridiculous clothes, a nice man with a sprig of celery in his lapel." He frowned slightly. "Sometimes you, but they - they also feel like you, Doctor. Who are you?"
He didn't mention kissing said boy, and he didn't mention torturing the slim, beautiful body sitting now in front of him, and he certainly didn't mention enjoying both.
"Oh, you know the answer to that. The Doctor, Time Lord."
"That's not what I meant." He got irritated.
"Oh? So what did you mean, Sam Tyler?" the Doctor asked, the question laced with irony.
"Who are you to me?"
"Well, you shall know the answer to that one as well," the Doctor said, looking at him with half-closed eyes. Long lashes cast shadows on his cheeks, covering his freckles; he looked older now, older and sadder.
"Tell me," Sam all but begged.
"A friend. An enemy. A -" the Doctor hesitated. "I'd better go."
Sam stood up, blocking his way. He had to look up in order to see into the Doctor's eyes, but he didn't mind it. The Doctor was taller now; but used to be shorter in the past, and what did it matter anyway?
Sam had just remembered something very important and knew what the Doctor had left out of his answer.
He caught the lapels of the brown pinstriped suit, held the Doctor close and kissed him.
Time seemed to stop, and the Doctor kissed him back and Sam let himself drown in the sensation. The Doctor had cold lips, despite the tea he had just drunk, but it didn't feel bad, quite the contrary. He tasted of what Sam could only describe as Time, and his lips against Sam's felt alien and familiar at once, most of all – right, but then he stopped, and stepped back, pulling Sam's hands away from him.
"I should go," he repeated, his voice only slightly shaking. "Really."
"I don't want you to," Sam stated, disappointment clear in his eyes.
"Oh, but you do. Or would, if you remembered," the Doctor answered in a wry tone. "It's you who ran away this time, after all."
Sam raised his eyebrows, but decided not to pursue the topic.
"Yes, so I may not remember, and definitely don't understand, but I want you now."
"That's not you." The Doctor shook his head. "And doing that with you just because you share the body, that's not right. Besides, you're in no shape for any physical activities anyway."
"But you want to. Your pulse is speeding."
"No, it's not. I'm not human. Don't judge me by your standards."
"I don't think they are so different," Sam muttered, not meaning their bodies at all, but accepted rejection. The Doctor said nothing, but didn't leave.
"What time is it?" Sam asked in the end, just to break the silence.
"Seven past ten. But I gave you the watch." The Doctor turned back and whispered, "shouldn't have done anything else, really... But it won't matter."
Something cracked in his voice, and he left without another word.
Sam settled for whisky for the night, deciding he wasn't going to worry about painkillers and chemical reactions.
A living ship who hated him gave him the last device of its kind, resembling a helmet, made her trip in the middle of a time-space storm and let him go when he so wished - taking part of him back with herself, but there always was a price... Car accident that shouldn't be.
His wife shot him (and his oldest friend-enemy-lover embraced him and cried and pleaded and sobbed and forgave and was, finally, defeated, but it was too late now, always has been, always will be. He embraced death, and the force in his mind making him live again wasn't invited, wasn't needed, quite the contrary; was wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong)...
So did his companion (and this time, he lived, 'cause he wanted to, terrible silence in his head filled with him; but it had always been all about him anyway, hadn't it?)...
He fell through a blue vortex of infinite possibilities (old enemy and older lover desperately offering help, but too late, oh, too late; he had asked for it in another time, another place, he refused to accept it now)...
He was a snake and he was in a new strange, alien body, and it was wrong (but he lived, and that was what mattered at the time).
Metal monsters executed him (they'd been almost humanitarian in it, granting him his last wish, more than his kind had ever offered).
A lake of fire engulfed him (his friend-enemy-lover, more than that, refusing to catch his hand, watching him die, and it was the last time he had asked for hishelp)...
Metal voices shouting "EXTERMINATION!" (again).
Deaths, uncountable deaths; pain, and always will to survive no matter the cost - until recently. And it was all so unfair, he was supposed to live forever, deathless, a Lord of Time. Instead he died and died and died, got decayed corpses to replace beautiful bodies with two hearts; and drums, the never-ending drums, always there. They would drive him insane, except he already was.
"Are you, Sam?"
He screamed and opened his eyes.
The girl in the red dress was mocking him, just as she had since he arrived in this time. He didn't have the strength to get away, couldn't even scream anymore, his throat sore, could only observe as she reached her hand towards him – and he hatedbeing so out of control – and touched his temple.
He woke up and looked around, briefly wondering why there were two cups on his table and decided that he must have prepared himself more tea and just didn't remember. Whisky and painkillers was a bad mix... He knew it, why the hell did he ignore it? The clock caught his eye. 10:07 AM, it said, and Sam felt like he had déjà vu for a moment.
Of course, he rarely slept that long, so he was probably just confused and still more in a dreamland than reality. Not that he had ever been too much rooted in reality, but still. He got up, dressed himself, and then sat in his small armchair, wondering what to do with himself for this week of forced holidays. He couldn't visit the station, Gene looked too serious yesterday, but maybe he could go to the Arms and talk with Nelson... He felt strange, a little sick; maybe he should go back to the hospital and get them to check for any infection or ask for stronger painkillers, actually any excuse would do, he wanted to talk with the Doc...
He fell asleep.
If he dreamt of anything, he couldn't remember it. He woke up in the early afternoon, headache almost killing him, but that wasn't the worst thing. He missed something, was missing something, something crucial, essential, something as necessary to live as air... He felt dizzy. Oh, yeah, the headache. The thrumming in his head, which was driving him crazy. It didn't feel like migraine; if anything, was worse. Sam slowly stood up, with difficulty walked to the small shelf he kept his aids on. He spent several minutes looking at simple medicines and strong painkillers he had received in the hospital, not thinking, only wishing for the headache to stop, everything to stop, especially this feeling of loneliness and emptiness which made him queasy when he wanted to inspect it.
Everything to stop.
He settled for an aspirin.
Then he slept again. The headache wouldn't go away even in his dreams.
His days all got mixed up; he slept most of the time and tried not to think the rest, he rarely ate and didn't bother to go shopping when he'd run out of bread and butter. Annie came by and left and he hardly noticed it, but the next day she returned with a bag of groceries and a story about a shop clerk chasing a thief to one of those old-fashioned police boxes. Sam felt something then, a sharp sting of longing and hurt, and it convinced him he was still alive, even if he had lost something essential he couldn't even name along with the blood which had flown from the knife wound. Finally he returned to the station, though he was still confined to the desk work. Nevertheless, it was better than sitting in his flat having nothing to think about. He was allowed to help in questioning the students from a nearby school in connection with a robbery. A whole class came to the station, and one student had on white trainers. Sam had run out of Lost and Found before he could hit the kid, frightened by the rush of anger and hurt he felt, horrified by the urge to punch and kick and humiliate the teenager he had never before seen in his life just to hear him cry out, because if Sam felt so empty on the inside, then maybe the pain of others could fill him, and it was worth a try, and anyway, the student's taste in shoes was excuse enough, wasn't it?
Gene shouted at him, Annie was worried, Chris afraid and Ray just smirked, and for a short moment Sam wanted them all to suffer as well.
He felt sick with himself.
The one constant was that he was missing something, and had to get home. He hadn't felt so weird then, had he? The little problem was that Sam wasn't sure anymore where exactly home was. Sometimes he caught himself wondering why grass was green, such a weird colour, but then he assumed he just had a PTSD and went on, trying to forget, assimilate, blend in, ignore the bloody girl from the tv.
One day he found a fob watch in his jacket pocket, stared at it for a long moment and left it there.
Finally, he got home. Or so he thought.
In reality, nothing had changed. The girl disappeared, yes, but the emptiness didn't. If anything, it got worse. Sam didn't remember his dreams, but he surely had some, as he would wake up at night, screaming names he didn't know. Maya was avoiding him and maybe it was better this way. The hospital staff – he refused to say "doctors", it wasn't right; they weren't doctors, and they most certainly weren't hisdoctors, even if they had aided him – were amazed at how quickly he regained his strength and was able to return to work. Sam wanted to laugh at them. He'd spent his coma running in the old streets of Manchester, of course he would be in a perfect form. Physically, that is. He got psychiatric counselling – he didn't ask for it, but some idiot thought he was depressed; Sam quickly convinced the psychiatrist that even if he acted strange – which he didn't – he had just missed a lot of time - a large part of the year, everybody would be somehow affected, wouldn't they? He needed time; that was all.
He was missing something and he needed something alright.
It just wasn't time.
Not exactly, anyway.
Once, Sam caught himself staring at a shop exhibition showing brand new models of Converse. He almost bought a pair, but in the end decided that it wasn't really his style.
He did buy a long scarf and then tore it to shreds.
There was one case, a murder, with no traces at the scene at all. UNIT took it from them. DCI Sam Tyler found himself in the middle of a heated discussion with one soldier, demanding to see their scientific advisor. A guy named Malcolm was called. Sam almost cried with disappointment. He didn't know who he was expecting to meet.
The headaches got worse, a pounding in his head impossible to silence. He was tapping a rhythm of four against his desk, leg, driving wheel; aspirin didn't help. Shouting at suspects did, but earned him a warning.
One day a robber punched him in the stomach, almost exactly where he had been stabbed (a lifetime ago or not at all). He remembered brown, concerned eyes and collapsed straight to the ground.
The next day he learnt that someone really didn't like it when you googled for "the Doctor" and as a DCI he didn't have enough clearance to access Cardiff's archive files, especially when he couldn't tell what he needed them for.
He remembered a kiss with a man, full of an attraction he had never felt towards anyone; he realised that it could have been a dream, but one he would die for.
He wasn't really all that surprised when he didn't feel a wound in his thumb. Red blood flowing from the cut was in the colour of the grass.
He climbed to the roof and looked around, from afar seeing green lawns and just one sun...
For a second he thought he heard a metallic thrumming, it almost convinced him to return to the meeting, but the sound faded and then disappeared as if it was never there.
This time, when life was pushed out of his lungs, he could at least tell it was completely his choice.
1973's air was somehow different to 2006's, and it wasn't the fact that it hadn't been so hopelessly polluted yet. It had a distinct feeling to it, making dreams seem more like memories than imaginations, as a scent of perfumes left in the room after a person wearing them had long since walked out. Sam wasn't sure what it meant for him, but it was better. He kissed Annie out of sheer happiness, and then was disappointed when her brown eyes didn't have just the right shade, which he couldn't really define, but was darker and full of eternity.
The girl, miracle of miracles, wasn't back.
So Sam settled back to work, to filling forms and trying to keep order in files, hopeless task as it was. Occasionally he complained about policing ways being far behind the times, but he didn't fight everything anymore. Annie was delighted with this change, he could tell. The rest of the station noticed too, they finally accepted him. The way they forgave him, it was nice, it felt good. He belonged here, finally. He was home.
He repeated it over and over again in his head, during the sleepless nights or quieter moments at work, and he thought he may believe in it one day. For the time being, he had to admit that the feeling of missing this indefinable something didn't get any easier to bear. The "something" was more tangible now, however, as if he could find it if he stared in the corner of his eye long enough; as if it was waiting to be discovered. He didn't understand it, but...
It had happened once, but in another time, another place...
Now he knew at least that much.
After the first joy of returning, when everything turned back to normal – or as normal as it would get for him – again, things started to look dull, mundane; crime after crime after crime, a lot of running and beating suspects as usual, but solving cases lost its thrill and Sam was bored beyond saying, and grass had the wrong colour again.
One day, he found a fob watch in his jacket pocket. A fob watch he was sure he had never seen before, but was important, so important. It felt like home, in a distant and hard to explain way. He clutched it and stared into a wall and tried not to surrender to hope for what seemed like eternity, before exhaustion made him sleep.
"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," a man was repeating endlessly. He probably meant it, but after so long the words had lost any meaning they might have once had. He called himself the Doctor, he should have a better understanding of others.
He kissed him, left him, betrayed him, saved him, hurt him, killed him, forgave him, loved him; over and over again; and they were as different as people could be, and they were the same.
Blue eyes, blue for all eternity – and brown, and all the time, his.
It was possible to lose yourself in them, and it was possible to find yourself.
Sam woke up, and he remembered.
He put the fob watch back to his pocket; there would come a time for that as well. He knew what he was missing, he wasn't ready for more questions right now.
Sam wasn't sure how to find the Doctor, but in the end, he didn't have to. The Time Lord was waiting for him in the park, sitting on a bench, his elbows leant against his knees, his face hidden in his hands.
"Look at me," Sam demanded, standing close to him, but not sitting down. The Doctor didn't move.
"I'm sorry. I'm so..."
"Sure you are! You erased my memories!" Sam shouted, losing his patience. He didn't mean to yell, but he thought he had the right.
"Not exactly, no," the Doctor answered, finally lifting his head, his expression grim. "But close enough. I'm sorry, Ma – Sam."
He looked so fragile, then, that Sam felt his anger evaporating.
"Why?" he asked quietly, and he knew they were past the half-answers.
"'Cause you left. You left, and you meant it. I had no right to... Well, clearly I had no right to try and fix it this way, but..." the Doctor trailed off, defeated.
"Ihaven't left," Sam barked, angry again.
"You have. You just don't remember. Tell me, the watch..."
"Somehow, I've a feeling I wouldn't like opening it," Sam cut in.
The Doctor smiled at that briefly. "You did, last time. But..."
Sam closed his eyes for a moment, braced himself, and started speaking, his pride be forgotten. He wanted to settle this. He knew he probably couldn't, but one minute of being honest about his emotions wouldn't hurt. He spoke in a quiet tone, but quickly, to finish as soon as possible, before he could change his mind.
"The problem is, I don't know you. Oh, I dream about you, and I am quite sure the dreams are actual memories – and that's the thing. I do love you. I don't know you, but I know this. But me, the me in the dreams, the real me, probably, he can't have you... And neither can I, obviously, but I can talk to you, and it's better than nothing, it really is, and I don't want to give up that, even if you would prefer me to, 'cause you surely miss the real me – and I don't make any sense, do I?"
The Doctor for the briefest moment looked as if Sam had slapped him, but answered without hesitation.
"You make perfect sense. Though maybe you don't wish to."
"And I will lose you anyway, won't I?"
"Yes. Yes, you, Sam Tyler, will. But that's only fair, now, isn't it? I've lost you three times already, and that's only counting this body."
"You told me I meant it," Sam wondered, and it was the Doctor's time for telling the truth now.
"I think so, yes. You left – in the middle of a space-time storm. We were in Cardiff, the Rift had gone into a frenzy... Even I wouldn't be crazy enough to try and go anywhere then, but you took the Tardis and flew away and made yourself human. Oh, and if the mere thought of you doing this for the second time isn't enough to convince me you'd meant it, there's always the way you tried to hide yourself. It was perfect. You meant to die as a human. Away from me. And you would. The thing is, this storm? You used the Arch in it, and something went wrong. Some choice you had to make. 1973 or 2006. Two timelines colliding, and you could only exist in one. Now you, Sam Tyler, remember another time, though you shouldn't be able to. You're a temporal anomaly in 1973, and the Tardis had to pick it up, and thanks Rassilon for that... But the other choice? 2006? It was wrong all along. Two of you existing in one place, one time, that's a paradox waiting to happen, but a possible outcome needing to be solved all the same. In the end, you did kill yourself there, and I could only see you falling down."
It didn't make sense. It didn't make sense at all. It was crazy, mad, it was impossible; it was so logical – the Doctor's words were so honest – it had to be true. And it was, Sam knew, he did remember his dreams after all, and he did remember an old professor killing his companion. He had never understood it, until now. And if they were all his memories... It was horrible, and frightening, and he only cared about the Doctor being with him.
For a short moment, he had believed 1973 was home. He found people he liked who liked him. Annie was a good friend. He kissed her, yes; he liked her, listened to her, he stayed, kept his word to her – yes, yes, yes, yes; but she had never quite got to him the way the Doctor did.
A small part of Sam wished it wasn't the case. He accepted that he had to stay in 1973. He chose it. He was sure, so sure that he made right decision and it was his world, his controlled world, and the Doctor came and destroyed his certainty, his balance, and Sam should hate him for that, but he didn't. Couldn't. Not ever, not really, not if he wanted to be honest at least with himself. The Doctor didn't need to know it, though he probably did anyway.
"So what happens now?"
"It's your choice, Sam. I leave. You have the watch."
"And if I open it... We'll fight, won't we?"
"As we always have."
"You still wish I would open it, though."
Sam nodded again.
"I see. Thank you."
He walked away. Just this once, it was he who walked away first.
He stopped dreaming.
He would spend long time looking at the watch, always closed, but he didn't dream anymore, and that made it bearable. He didn't have the Doctor, but at least his sub-consciousness didn't remind him of that all the time.
A year had passed, and he thought he really could live and die without the Time Lord, the other Time Lord, if it meant not having to hurt him, be hurt by him, ever again. He took his own advice, in the end.
The only problem being, he didn't think he would die quite so soon.
The murderer they were running after was chased into the dead end, and didn't have much of a choice. Sam Tyler found himself staring at the drawn gun, safety clicked away, and he thought it was so unfair. He couldn't live without the Doctor after all. He closed his eyes.
A shot was almost deafening, but Sam didn't feel pain. What he felt was somebody pushing him to the ground. He opened his eyes to see the Doctor kneeling over him, blood all over his chest, eyes slightly unfocused. Sam heard the suspect running away, past them, but didn't care. The Doctor was very pale.
"Don't you dare. Don't you dare leave me again!" Sam screamed, turning them around, so he could support the Doctor. "No!"
"I'd say, I win," the Doctor whispered. "But not really. It's okay, Sam. Leave me."
He was bleeding out, Sam realised, he was dying, he really was, and it can't end like this, it simply can't...
"I won't let you," Sam answered. He knew what to do.
He reached into his pocket, took out his fob watch and opened it.
Golden light – memories – pain – the Doctor.
The Master considered it all, and kissed the Doctor briefly.
"You're an idiot, a bloody idiot, you know, and do you really want to regenerate, or will you please go into a healing coma already?" he snapped, reaching into the Doctor's pocket now, taking out a simple key. "Or wait, tell me where the Tardis is first."
"Next alley," the Doctor gasped. "Not so easy to heal when your human self was practically crying all over my not-yet-dead body, you know?" he added, trying to smile through pain.
"My human self was an idiot, and I should've known, after Yana. And we are going to have a serious talk, Doctor, once you're all sorted out. Messing around with my head while I'm human? It's beneath you. And let me tell you, you had no right to do what you did," he whispered, in a low, dangerous tone, and then lifted the Doctor from the ground. "Blimey, but you weigh nothing!"
"Probably a good thing, under the circumstances," the Doctor managed to answer, breathing heavily. "And I'm sorry."
The Master rolled his eyes. "Shh. Heal yourself, Doctor. I promise I won't take over any galaxies while you sleep."
"Won't you?" was all the Doctor said before slipping into unconsciousness.
The Master walked to the Tardis. "But you know what?" he laughed, as the Doctor couldn't hear him anyway. "I forgive you."