Title: Grounded

Author: aces

Rating: G

Category: Meh...no-man's-land (but it does take place during the 8th Doctor's Earth "oooh, I've got amnesia...again" Arc)

Summary: The Doctor, in an alien situation.

Disclaimers: BBC is my god. One of the more whimsical ones, I might add...

Added warnings: I think there is some meaning to this story so subtle and deeply buried even I can only get the occasional glimpse of it. But that might just be wishful-thinking on my part. In any case, severe irony alert.

GROUNDED

Another little death, the Doctor thought as he turned his rental maroon Saturn right in front of the oncoming traffic and picked up speed.

He wasn't quite sure what little Indiana town he was in; he would have to look around for a sign or a visitor's center to remind him. He'd started this cross-country drive on a whim a couple weeks ago--it was something he hadn't done in a few decades, and it could be intriguing to see how much the continental United States had changed in the intervening time. After all, nothing was permanent in this country. They got tired of things within a few years around here.

He found it was quite easy to get tired of the United States slightly more quickly than that.

He liked driving. It didn't require all his considerable attention, so he could let his mind wander without worrying too much about watching the road, and he found that the drive was conducive to thinking. Thinking about what wasn't always clear, but sometimes it was good just to let the mind go wherever it wished. He caught glimpses that way, quite often, glimpses of the life he'd had before whatever accident had befallen him. But the glimpses never lasted long enough or showed him anything truly useful.

The car gave him freedom as well, of course. Of a sort. He'd found in over a century of living here that he had an irresistible urge to wander, an insatiable desire to explore and keep on the move. He'd travelled by cars, by boats and by planes, ridden horses and bicycles and motorbikes, even been on a space shuttle...but it wasn't enough. He was grounded. He stared up at the stars at night and knew he was missing something, something so big he couldn't actually get his head round it properly. There was too much beyond this mundane planet for him to grasp, to remember. He felt unsatisfied.

He liked driving. He liked the back country roads, especially now when they were for the most part paved and not gravel--or worse, dirt. He liked to coast down hills and wrap around bends; he liked the breeze in his hair when on the freeway; he liked turning on the radio for the added distraction of music or news. He didn't like left turns, not in America.

There was a hill around here somewhere, he knew. Somewhere in this state of Indiana, adopted into the union in 1816, originally part of the northern territories. A hill that included a four-way intersection that could literally be murder if not approached carefully. People often flew over the hill, and sometimes the cross traffic didn't realize that those coming down or going up the hill didn't have to stop. He'd stayed in that town for a while, a few years ago, for some reason that currently escaped him. Even while he'd been there, a couple young girls had died, not seeing the car speeding down toward them as they started carefree across the intersection. He'd had to turn left onto that hill a number of times, push across before a car could come flying down toward him. Every time he'd done it, he felt like he was facing death, hearts beating too quickly and breath caught against the anticipation. Just a minor death. But death nonetheless.

It would be a silly way to die, he thought as he braked for a red light. Mangled in some broken steel with a headlight flickering on and off. A very pointless way to die. He'd seen enough accidents and crashes in his day.

The light turned green, and he waited until the oncoming traffic had cleared before he turned left. Another little death, he thought as he had to brake quickly for the stopped car in front of him which was trying to turn into a parking lot but had to wait for another car to get out of the way. Another little death. He was sure he'd died before. If only he could remember how. He hoped it wasn't for something as silly as a car crash.