A/N: This is set in the same verse as Echoes, but it doesn't require you to have read that story, and it doesn't contain spoilers. Thank you to my lovely pre-reader Lamia, and my fantastic beta Latessitrice.
Spin and Spiral
He used to feel the world turning. Orbits and levitations, sparks and undulations. Every curve of the solar system, every break and twist in time. It was his. He could reach out and touch the furthest reaches of the galaxy, spin through time without even thinking. Now nothing moved. He stood still in a body that was wrong, too fragile and painful to be his. Memories of a life he didn't live and recollections of people, places and events that were not his was all he had. His mind was crammed full of information that it couldn't contain, shouldn't contain and yet he still seemed to function, even if it was on a basic level.
Sun was too bright, so bright that it stung. The wind was colder, sharper and had a taste he'd not realised before. Perhaps it was this world, this time, but it was there. Food was necessary, but tasted either too bland or too rich. If he didn't eat enough this frail, limiting body shut down on itself, but how was he meant to eat when it was all too much or too little? Numerous senses had been reduced to five when he'd been created, and all that did was make everything hurt.
Time was linear. It would move steadily, measurably forward and leave him behind. One life, one heart, one chance. That was it. Then death. But first, decay, old age, the body failing slowly and painfully, if his life wasn't cut short by illness or accident, possibilities that were now probabilities in his new yet used existence. Skin broke easily, a prick or a scratch, insides becoming outsides before his slow mind could realise what he'd done.
All the while, he carried the memories, the guilt and the fear. It wasn't fair, if he was honest. He remembered them all, those he'd seen die, those whose death he'd caused, and those simply left behind. He remembered the dark of eternity, and the fire of war. Heard screams in the dying sky, whispered prayers and curses in the silence. Those were his memories. his cross to bear. But they weren't. He was not The Doctor, as had been so candidly said to his original self. If he was not The Doctor, should he carry his pain? His ghosts, his fear and loneliness? No. But if he wasn't The Doctor, at least in some sense, then he was nothing. A poor imitation of the tenth incarnation of a Time Lord, squashed inside flesh and seeped in emotions.
Love, hate, hurt, lust, loneliness, fear, elation, exhaustion, apprehension, jealously, too many more to name, and others without syllables he was able to express. They surrounded him, perplexed him and appeared without consent. He'd had control before, these emotions only bothering him for moments that he could overcome. He could bar them from his mind, lock them away and stow the key in a place so far no one else would reach it. This was no longer the case in his hybrid body. The human experience, all sound and sites and feelings. Logic, deduction and reasoning fell apart when faced with and overload of emotion, something he was not accustom to, and did not wish to be. But there was little he could do to avoid it.
In his first hours of life, he'd raced through a myriad of these newly gained emotions. Hate for the creatures who'd destroyed his people, taken away so many lives, planets and would continue to do so as long as they existed. He couldn't feel remorse for destroying them, pressing that button that wiped them from existence. Anger, white hot and penetrating at his other self, the original him. Anger for his existence and condemnation. Anger and pain at the casual way he dismissed him, without a thought for what he would suffer on this side of the rift, alone and trapped in chronological time. Love, love for those who were not his companions, friends and partners. Love for a woman who ripped through reality just to find a man that wasn't him, but who he kissed and who ran from him when his other self vanished without a word. Love made him irrational, confessional and inspirational. He offered her his life. Life, his one and only, limited time. All that really he could claim as his own, he gave to her. Jealousy that she could turn away from him so soon after he'd given her that. Hurt that he could see in her eyes that she saw him as a human mirror of the man she loved, and hurt for the one who loved her just as much as he did, but would never be on the right side of reality.
He'd had existence for less than sixty hours and so far, human life was neither expected or interesting. Proclamations of human brilliance were all well and good when witnessed from the outside. When caught in the thick of it, it was difficult to see where the appeal originated. Travelling took days, involved queues and too cramped spaces. Sleeping took up time, oh so much precious time. He'd slept for almost ten hours in the aftermath of his creation, ten hours of nothingness. Ten hours that had vanished from his time span, gone without a trace. He vowed to only sleep for five hours within twenty four, and already his skin itched and his eyes were lead.
Rose was not the girl he recalled from memories of another time. Five years made her different, aged her in mind and body. She was not what he remembered, he was not what she wanted. Altogether, the combination equated to awkward movements and stilted conversation. He couldn't explain to her that being stuck in a body, in a time and and a reality that were not his wasn't as bad if he was with her. Fear of rejection was not new to him, but seemed paramount in this situation and human life. She was hurting. The Doctor's leaving of her, again, on the same beach had to be excruciating. He wanted to offer comfort, but didn't know how to, and thought that he would be the last person she'd need it from.
So here he stood, outside the Tyler mansion, watching the end of the day, moments and minutes fly away before his eyes. His eyes closed and opened, taking too long and too much energy. His body ached, his heart thumped slowly, rhythmically and painfully in his chest. He was dying. Every second took him closer to the end, and guessing that this body was at least thirty-five years gone, his days were numbered. Yet he was determined to make this body work to his desires, hold time in the palm of his hand once more, without letting it spin and spiral out of control.