"That's how I choose to remember them. The Time Lords of old. But then they went to war. An endless war. And it changed them. Right to the core. You've seen my enemies, Wilf. The Time Lords are more dangerous than any of them."
The words echoed in his mind but there was no time to think about anything. If he let himself remember his people he would not be able to function. And then he would save no one.
He couldn't help it. It was too late- he was too far gone. His thoughts spiraled down as milliseconds ticked slowly past and visions flashed before his eyes. He saw the mightiest of races in its blackest days, he saw them purged of all goodness and filled with hate and so like their mortal enemies that he couldn't even tell which was which anymore.
So why were they fighting? Why were they destroying whole planets in their wake? Why were the Time Lords threatening all of Creation and the universe itself if they were already Daleks?
He closed his eyes for the smallest fraction of a second. You'd have though he just blinked. But in the tiniest space of time possible, he saw it all again. He felt it all again, forced to relive what he'd been running from for forever.
And it was a good thing his eyes were closed because behind them was an impossible sight. Something no one could ever see and be able to sleep at night. Something that tortured your instincts until they screamed at you to run for your life. Something that pushed existence to the very edge of sanity.
Kept buried. Hidden. Locked away in false smiles and deceiving loves. Concealed in endless talking and a god complex.
But not anymore. Behind his eyelids, for a millisecond- just a fraction of a tiny space of time. The impossibly thin skin was the only thing that shielded the universe from what had clawed its way to the surface of his soul and eyes.
Creation was silently and infinitely grateful to have been shielded from what lay behind his closed eyes in those briefest of nanoseconds.
These and more than could ever be counted.
It was the Oncoming Storm.
It raged in his eyes and it was forever and dying every second. It was everywhere and nowhere. It did not exist but it was there.
The Child of Time was truly broken.
The darkest elements of emotion forged in scarred hearts and blazing souls combined in the only one who could claim them all without perishing. Because the Time War hadn't just changed those now dead. It changed him, too. The Doctor.
Chills ran through him at the thought of his own name and he was wrenched back to the present. Less than seconds had passed. No one would ever know. No one could. His burden was his and his alone. It was never to be lifted from his ancient shoulders.
The howling of the Wolf was his only condolence…
As soon as the thought crossed his mind it was long forgotten because it was unknown and forbidden and he did not deserve it.
He was still talking like nothing had ever happened. The Oncoming Storm, his own personal Hell, was pressed down so deeply inside him that he wasn't sure it could ever be reached again. So he could pretend it didn't exist. He had to.
"Right! Yes! You! This is a salvage ship, yes?"