A/N *has tiny little first fanfic party, then puts away balloons and confetti* Okey dokey, now that THAT'S out of the way I can start. ;) The story happens right after Journey's End, so the Doctor's by himself. Again. Poor guy.
The Doctor stood in the middle of the TARDIS, staring down at the metal grating. Once again, he was alone. It had hurt to watch everyone walk away from the TARDIS, more than he cared to admit even to himself. They didn't need him anymore- they all had someone else. Sarah Jane had her son. Martha and Donna had their families. Rose had the metacrisis.
The Doctor sighed bitterly at the memory of Rose and the metacrisis kissing on Bad Wolf Bay. It was painful…so painful to know that he could never be with her, but at least she was happy.
And Donna…wiping her memory had been one of the hardest things he'd ever done. The DoctorDonna. She had been so happy…but he could never see her again, for her own safety.
Really, he couldn't see anyone again. Every time he did, it got his hopes up, thinking that maybe he didn't have to feel so alone anymore. And every time, his hopes crashed harder. Seeing everyone together and then having them leave again had almost destroyed him inside.
"What were you expecting?" he said loudly. "Did you think they would all just drop their lives to come with you? They've moved on. It's time you did too. Stop being ridiculous and get on with life." He was a little surprised as his voice cracked halfway through.
The TARDIS mentally nudged the Doctor in a comforting way. He smiled and leaned against one of the coral-like spires. "Sorry, girl. That was a bit loud, wasn't it?" He patted the column affectionately. If anything, at least the TARDIS was always going to stick around.
Pushing away from the column, the Doctor walked to the main console, fingers lingering over some switches. He fiddled with some of the controls, not sure what to do. All he knew was that he really, really didn't want to be on Earth right now.
The TARDIS was humming softly in his mind. He smiled ever so slightly as he recognized the Gallifreyan love song. That was where he really wanted to be- back on Gallifrey, with his family and friends. Right now he would have given anything just to see it again, even from a distance. But Gallifrey was gone, just like all the others. And that hurt more than anything, because he had destroyed it.
Sighing, he twisted the main control dial to the 'random' setting and pulled the lever to start the TARDIS up. Flicking switches to the right positions, twisting knobs to the coordinates the TARDIS had chosen, and pushing buttons that were flashing, probably for a reason…he did everything without any of his usual manic energy. Even the shaking floor refused to excite him.
With the whirring sound that the Doctor enjoyed, the TARDIS flew out of the time vortex and appeared…somewhere. Swiveling the outer monitor over so he could take a look outside, the Doctor was surprised to see the flat expanse of outer space. Raising an eyebrow, he walked to the front doors and swung them open. He gasped as light flooded the TARDIS and flung his arm over his eyes. As his vision adjusted, he slowly lowered his hand.
The impenetrable shields of the TARDIS were filtering the impossibly bright rays of light streaming from the beautiful scene. The TARDIS was suspended inside a shining cloud of gas that was light years wide.
"The Horse-head Nebula?" the Doctor guessed, judging by the distinctive horse-shaped column rising above him. Over there- he could see where all the light was coming from. The swirling clouds had been drawn together to form a brand new star. Technically speaking, he should have been fried to a crisp by now, but the TARDIS's shields were siphoning the excess heat from the star and converting it into psionic energy.
"You brought me to watch a star being born," the Doctor said, quieter this time. The TARDIS hummed again, projecting a feeling of happiness and peace into his mind. No, it was more than that- the TARDIS was sending him hope. As he let the TARDIS soak his mind with the hope that new life always brings, he began to feel some of his old energy returning.
All of a sudden, he began to pick up another presence in his mind, besides the one of the TARDIS. Shaking his head to try and clear it, the Doctor stumbled away from the doors and back towards the consol. The TARDIS whirred worriedly in his head.
Are we feeling lonesome, Doctor? The presence said, speaking in a low, raspy voice that sounded like nails on a chalkboard. The Doctor gritted his teeth and pressed his hands against his head as the voice burrowed itself deeper into his mind.
"Who are you? What do you want?" the Doctor said through his clenched teeth.
Is that all, Doctor? Not even an introduction from you? Not even a hello? Even a death threat would have been nice…oh, but you're a pacifist now, aren't you? Always trying to protect life.
"Well, an introduction would be a bit redundant now, since you obviously know me so well," the Doctor said sarcastically. "How about you answer my question now: who are you and what are you doing in my head?"
Oh, Doctor, surely you can do better than that. You're famous across the galaxies for getting answers all on your own. Why don't you try and figure me out for yourself, instead of just taking the easy route out.
"Get out of my head," the Doctor said. He could feel the muted voice of the TARDIS pushing against the force embedded in the Doctor's mind.
My, your friend is a pushy one, Doctor! The voice laughed. And yet, even with your ship around…you still feel alone. Wouldn't you like to just give up and leave this universe completely?
"You don't know me so well after all, then. I'm the Doctor- I don't give up. Leave the TARDIS alone."
I am inside your head, Doctor. I know everything that you are feeling- oh my. Is that…fear that I sense? The infamous Doctor, afraid of the voices inside his head? The voice laughed again, setting the Doctor's teeth on edge as the terrible cackling echoed in his mind.
"Leave. Now," the Doctor spat.
Where ARE your manners, Doctor? I at least remember mine- an intelligent guest knows when he is unwelcome. I shall take my leave for now- but remember, Doctor, I know you. I know what you will think, what you will say, and what you will do. You cannot ever- and will not ever- escape from me!
The Doctor gasped as he felt the voice pull itself from his head. As soon as she could, the TARDIS hummed loudly in his head, to reassure him she was back. The Doctor ran to the console and typed in a string of commands.
"Scan for life onboard," he said to the TARDIS. He was setting the computer to track any heartbeats, any electric pulses, and any abnormally large concentrations of high molecular activity. He didn't know what sort of being had been inside his head, but he did know that he didn't want it interfering with his TARDIS.
The computer came up with a result: only one living being was onboard the TARDIS. It was just him. Whatever had entered his brain had come and gone.
The Doctor exhaled slowly and sat down heavily on the metal grates. "Well…that was all a bit…Harry Potter-ish," he said, to try and lighten the tension both he and the TARDIS were feeling. He half-smiled when he remembered Martha as she coined the 'Harry Potter-ish' phrase, back when they had met Shakespeare.
The Doctor stood up again, striding over to the doors and closing them on the nebula still pulsing outside. "The Horse-Head Nebula and some freaky possessing being. You sure can pick 'em, sweetheart," he said, patting the TARDIS's console.
The TARDIS seemed a bit amused, but the other message she was sending the Doctor was much stronger- it was a warning. A warning of imminent danger.
"Hey, what's that for, old girl?" the Doctor said. "I'm not going to get into any kind of trouble just yet."
Right on cue, an alarm started blaring and the whole TARDIS shook violently. The sudden jolt sent the Doctor flying. As soon as the shaking stopped, the Doctor jumped to his feet.
"What the he-" Another rumble had him sprawled on the floor again. There was a short pause. The TARDIS transmitted her overpowering feeling of fear directly into his head. Then the ground beneath his feet came alive again, and the Doctor was slammed into the wall. The lights went down, except for the flashing alarms, and the white sparks flying from the delicate instruments powering the TARDIS.
The Doctor tried to pick himself up and run to the computer, but without anything to hold onto, and the jolts steadily becoming stronger and more frequent, he was being tossed around like a rag doll. There was smoke rising from the console, and the alarms had reached an almost deafening pitch. It was so loud and confusing, the Doctor could barely hear the TARDIS shouting in terror.
Suddenly, the doors of the TARDIS swung open, and the momentum from being thrown around sent the Doctor tumbling head over heels first across the steel floor and then… was that grass he was rolling down?
As the Doctor rolled, he managed to pick out a few important details: one, he was no longer in the TARDIS, and two, whatever he was rolling down was steep and covered in grass.
After a few seconds of merciless tumbling, the Doctor's momentum wore down and he rolled to a stop. Completely dizzy and out of sorts, the Doctor could barely make out the sight of the hill he had just rolled down. His vision was spinning wildly, so it took him a while before he was able to catch his breath again and push himself up to a sitting position.
Where was he? The Doctor squinted up at the sun- sun, singular. Blue sky, faint white cirrus clouds. Judging by the feel of the planet beneath him, the planet was at about a 14 degree tilt with the sun, and was turning on…a 24 hour schedule.
The Doctor's eyes widened. Sweet Rassilon- he was back on Earth!
Just has he had reached this conclusion, the Doctor was very surprised to have something that felt suspiciously like wood wrap around his ankle. Looking down, he just had time to register that a branch was grabbing his leg when whatever had grabbed him pulled him straight up into the air.
The Doctor yelled as the ground disappeared beneath him. Trying to crane his neck around, he managed to get a glimpse of his attacker.
It was…a tree. Somehow, an Earth tree that looked to be like a hybrid species between an oak and a willow had…come to life and had attacked him.
Maybe it wasn't a tree at all. The branch hoisting him in the air was shaking him violently. The Doctor could feel his teeth chattering as his lower jaw kept slamming into his upper one. He just managed, through some stroke of luck, to get his hand inside his pocket and pull out his sonic screwdriver. The tree wouldn't stop shaking him, which made getting a read-out difficult. The Doctor got his chance when the tree paused for a second- he twisted up and jabbed the sonic screwdriver into the wood. The tree stayed still for a moment, and then proceeded to try and whack the Doctor with its other branches.
Narrowly ducking out of the way, the Doctor just missed having his head chopped off by the tree's vicious limbs. Setting 1249K- it was supposed to freeze any plant life form alien to Earth. The Doctor groaned. Yep- somehow, this tree really was an Earth tree.
"WHO'S- BEEN SCREWING-WITH THIS TREE'S-GENETIC SEQUENCE?" he yelled angrily, punctuating each word as he tried to avoid the swinging branches. Mother of Gallifrey, these humans could be so thick sometimes! It was so typical of them to just go out and genetically fashion this violent, killing machine of a tree!
The tree had resolved to try and smash him against the ground now. The Doctor just barely managed to grab the tree a little higher up before the branch crashed into the dirt.
As the tree swung him up again, the Doctor was twisting his sonic screwdriver as fast as he could to find the setting he wanted. 229J…229K…229L…229M!
The Doctor slammed the sonic screwdriver against the branch holding his ankle and pressed the button. The limb slowed down, and then stopped completely. The Doctor let out a sigh of relief that the screwdriver had worked. Then another branch tried to clobber him. Ducking at lightning speed, the tree almost managed to hit him.
The Doctor hissed in frustration. Only the one branch had been stopped. The rest of the tree could still kill him. Fantastic.
"Oi!" a voice yelled. "Who are you?"
Craning his head backwards so he could see the ground, he stared at two teenage boys- one with flaming red hair, the other with black hair and large round glasses. Both of them were pointing…sticks at him.
Had he stumbled into one of those tree-worshiping clans in the future? He didn't think they ever had those on Earth, but he might be wrong…
A stronger limb from the tree reached out and yanked the Doctor away from the immobilized one. The new branch lowered him halfway down to the ground before it began to shake him up and down. And, as luck would have it, the shaking made him loose his grip on the sonic screwdriver. The boy with red hair picked it up.
The two boy's faces were just centimeters away. Now the Doctor could see that one of them had a lightning bolt shaped scar over his right eye. The Doctor smiled cheekily.
"Hello kids, my name's the Doctor," he said. "Now can I have my screwdriver back?"