A/N: I had originally intended for this to be a multi-chapter story where Susan becomes the Lady in White, but I realized that it was just too ambitious of a project for me, so I'm leaving what was supposed to be the the first chapter as a one-shot instead. (Also, my headcanon is that the participants of the events of The Five Doctors have retained no memory of it except for Five, Tegan, and Turlough.)
Disclaimer: I make no profit. Doctor Who and its characters are property of the BBC.
Proof I Was Not Mistaken
Susan's last memory of the Doctor consisted of herself standing within the ruins of London, staring forlornly at the closed doors of the TARDIS. She could not actually see her grandfather, but could only hear his voice broadcasted over the transmitter. "But Grandfather, I belong with you!" she protested.
The Doctor disagreed. He spoke of things she knew were true, but that which were clouded by her bond to him.
"Believe me, my dear. Your future lies with David, and not with a silly old buffer like me."
She would not deny that she dreamed of a place to settle down, a place to belong. But she needed her grandfather, and he needed her. They who had lost so much should not have to lose each other as well. And yet he locked her out of the TARDIS, the closest thing she ever had to a home in many years.
"Goodbye, Susan. Goodbye, my dear."
At first, she could not understand how he could abandon her. David tried to explain that the Doctor had not deserted her, but made a decision that she herself would never be willing to make. She answered with a silent nod, but secretly remained hurt. It was only years later, with David's death, that she realized that she could never have traded the life she made with her husband to spend instead traveling aimlessly through time and space with her grandfather. She loved them both; she could never choose, so the Doctor had chosen for her.
He had promised to come back. But as time progressed in its linear march, she realized that she had lost the two beings she cared about most: David through the factuality of the finite, and the Doctor through the possibility of the infinite.
But still, Susan waited.
And one day, her faith in the Doctor was restored.
– – –
She knew where she was. It had been so long ago, but she recognized the great hall of the Panopticon as though she had just been there recently. That is not to say that she had expected to be there. No, one moment she was in her kitchen reading the newspaper, and the next she was on Gallifrey, the planet of her birth, standing before an armed guard.
Gathering up all of her bravery, she addressed the guard, saying, "Why am I here? What could you people want from me after so long?"
"You've been summoned," said the officer. Noting her harsh expression, he added in a kinder tone, "No need to be so defensive. You'll know everything soon enough. I'm Hamon."
"I'm Susan," she said, hesitantly.
"I know," said Hamon.
"You said that I've been summoned," said Susan. "By whom?"
"President Rassilon," said Hamon. "You should feel honored."
"But that's impossible," she said. "Rassilon is dead."
"It's a long story," said Hamon. He explained to her about the war against the Daleks and Rassilon's resurgence.
"But why should Rassilon wish to meet with me?" asked Susan. "I'm nobody."
"You'd have to ask him that," he said. "And if you follow me, you can do so now."
Hamon led Susan through the winding corridors of the Panopticon. She remained silent, inwardly wondering if any of this was connected to the Doctor, if she might get a chance to see him again, if she would finally be able to tell him that she understood why he left her.
They stopped before a door. Susan half-hoped to see the TARDIS hidden inside, but there was no sign of it. Instead, there was a long walkway that led to a large table in the center of a dark, austere room. At the head of the table sat a serious looking man garbed in the robes of the Lord President, grasping the Rod of Rassilon in his hand.
"Lord President," said Hamon, bowing lowly.
"Yes, what is it?" the man asked in a slightly annoyed tone, as though he were being interrupted from an important task.
"Susan is here per your orders," Hamon explained.
The Lord President gazed at Susan, his eyes studying her intently. "Come closer, Susan," he beckoned.
Susan stepped forward.
"Do you know who I am, child?" he asked.
"You're Rassilon," said Susan with all the courage she could muster.
Rassilon smiled. "No need to be so frightened of me," he said. He then turned to Hamon. "I give you permission to leave."
Hamon bowed again and swiftly left.
"Tell me," said Rassilon to Susan once they were alone. "Do you know why you're here?"
"No," said Susan. "Not at all."
"Have a guess," he said. He reminded Susan of a cat toying with a captured mouse.
"Does it have to do with my grandfather?" she asked.
"Very much so," said Rassilon. "I assume you've already been informed of the war against the Daleks."
"The officer who just left told me a little about it," said Susan.
"You've... met them before, I believe?"
"A very long time ago," said Susan. "When I was traveling with Grandfather."
"What did you think of them?" asked Rassilon her.
"They frightened me," said Susan.
"But," said Rassilon. "On Skaro, you took initiative by befriending the Thals and retrieving the anti- radiation pills; you saved everyone's lives, including the Doctor's."
"How did you know that?" asked Susan, taken aback by his knowledge.
"Your grandfather told me," he explained.
"You spoke with my grandfather!" Susan exclaimed. "You saw him? And he's alright?"
"Of course," Rassilon chuckled. "If there's one thing you can say about the Doctor, it's that he definitely knows how to take care of himself."
"I'm sorry," said Susan, in a lower tone, turning her face away in shame. "I just thought- Well, I'm not exactly sure what I thought." That was a lie, of course. Although she constantly believed in his return for her on Earth, her hope was always accompanied by a silent dread. Sometimes late at night, she would stare up at the night sky, wondering if he was sick, or hurt, or, worst of all, dead. She herself had already regenerated twice from old age. In her daily activities, she wondered if she might ever pass by her grandfather, and neither would notice; but then she would chide herself, knowing deep down that if they ever saw each other again, no matter what their individual appearances, they would recognize each other instantly.
Susan was beginning to feel a bit overwhelmed, learning that the Doctor had recently spoken to the same person with whom she was now conversing. It was the closest she had been to him in centuries, and it was hardly considered close enough.
"You miss him, don't you?" said Rassilon as more of a statement of fact than a question.
"Very much so," said Susan.
"I'm sorry to say that you won't have a chance to see him," said Rassilon.
"What do you mean?" she asked.
"Our fight against that Daleks is so great and so important for the whole of creation that every available Time Lord has been drafted into the war," he explained. "The Doctor's vast knowledge of our enemy makes him a vital asset. He has been sent to protect our stronghold at the Gates of Elysium.
"But before he left, he requested an audience with me. He knew that sooner or later, we would summon you to aid in the cause. He asked me as a special request to keep you out of the battle. I told him that I could make no such promise. He then informed me that before the two of you parted ways, that you had been showing a great proficiency in your telepathic abilities. Is this true?"
It took a moment for Rassilon's words to sink in. "I have never had the proper training," she admitted.
"Tell me, Susan," he said. "What am I thinking now?"
Susan cleared her mind and concentrated. She could hear so many thoughts, so many voices, but she slowly sifted through them all to get to that which she sought. "There's a man," she said slowly. "He's thin with blue eyes, and long, wavy hair that comes down to his shoulders. He's wearing a green velvet jacket with a cravat. He's in this same room, talking to you."
"What's he saying?" he asked, urging her on with greatening interest.
"He's saying... He's saying that he agrees to your terms and will leave at once on the good faith that you will keep your side of the bargain." She suddenly stopped, understanding whom it was that she was picturing. He looked so different... so young, almost vulnerable. She realized that Rassilon was still staring at her. "Did I pass?" she asked.
"The first test," he said. He then pressed a button and two guards quickly appeared. "Take Susan to the Great Academy for her telepathy examination," he ordered.
The two guards bowed and gestured for Susan to follow them. As she began to leave, she took one last turn back to Rassilon. He was staring at her, and their eyes met. A chill went down Susan's spine as she forced herself to look away again and to follow wherever she would be led.