Recovery

Dec. 15th, 2008 12:37 am
charamei: Ninth Doctor (DW9: Nine)
[personal profile] charamei
Title: Recovery
Rating: PG-13 for PTSD.
Genre: Angstier than intended, but still pretty fluffy
Characters/Pairings: Eight (briefly), Nine, Brigadier, the TARDIS.
Wordcount: 3151
Disclaimer: I don't own Doctor Who; I'm just playing in the BBC's sandbox for fun and practice.

Summary: Continuing the multi-Doctor Christmas splurge, although this has rather less Christmas than the others so far. At the close of the Time War, the TARDIS takes the Doctor to the Brigadier to recover.
[01] The Doctor's First Noel
[03] The Twelve Days Of Christmas
[08]A Very Gallifreyan Occasion
[09]Recovery


He never dreamed he'd be running from his own TARDIS, but he is now, as the homeworld shakes apart around him, fire and acrid gases seeping from the heart of her, choking, burning, bodies piling up, many of them awaking a few moments later only to die again... in mere minutes Gallifrey will be gone, completely and utterly gone, and its murderer with it, but only if he can stay alive. Only if he can outrun the TARDIS.

She materialises in, for a split second, closer than before, and he screams in pure anguish, hurdling Bether's prone form, noting with horror that she isn't regenerating and then realising that it doesn't matter, because in a few minutes they will all be dead anyway. Onwards, onwards, don't stop, don't look round, don't breathe or the smoke will kill him...

He can go no further, and stops, falling to his knees, coughing, breathing more and more of it in, as his lungs shut down, hearts following... the TARDIS seizes her chance and materialises around him, clearing the air, pushing his regeneration to begin... he is too weak to stop it, his head too cloudy from lack of oxygen, and she is taking him away, away from Gallifrey, away from all of it... always was a sentimental old thing, this TARDIS...

"No," he splutters out, for once in his lives not caring that these are terrible last words, "no, no, take me back, I want to go back..."

The regeneration takes him, then, and when he next opens his eyes it is to find the floor tilted and himself being rolled towards the open doors, the TARDIS hanging a little above the ground of a place he doesn't recognise. He tries to stop, but he's still too weak; tries to grab the console, but gets a static shock for his trouble, and she shakes, gently, up and down, until he falls out, then slams her doors shut and lands quietly beside him.

Crying, desperate now, he hauls himself upright and fumbles for the key, but it won't turn in the lock and when he forces it it becomes burning hot in his hands, forcing him to drop it. That is when the screaming really starts, as Gallifrey explodes, and he feels his people die, one by one, telepathic voices fading into silence, until there is nothing but him.

All other hope gone, he begins to bang on the doors with his fists, over and over, barely aware of what he is screaming, again and again:

"Let me die!"

He is out of breath, and strength, and reduced to leaning on the doors and sobbing, when there is a familiar throat-clearing behind him and an equally familiar voice says, "The Doctor, I presume."

He doesn't want to turn, won't turn, but can't summon the strength to speak, either, any more than he can stop the great heaving sobs that are still coming out of him. The Brigadier puts a hand on his shoulder, then, and says, gently but firmly, "You always need rest after a regeneration. I've plenty of spare rooms; come along, old chap."

And that is all he says. No 'there, there, it'll be all right', no 'I say, what's happened?'. No 'I'm sure it'll be better in the morning', or 'Can't be that bad, surely'. He just steers the Doctor away from the TARDIS and up a flight of stairs, finds him a pair of pyjamas that don't fit but aren't terrible either, and, as the Doctor stares at them in blank incomprehension, makes the bed, razor-sharp triangle folds and crisp white sheets.

He turns back to find the Doctor still staring at the pyjamas in his lap, and says nothing more than, "Come on, old chap," again. He helps the Doctor to undress, lets him keep the sash that he's clinging to like a baby, and dresses him, arm here, leg there, that's it...

He puts the Doctor to bed, and pulls the curtains, but doesn't leave, just sits himself down in a chair in the corner of the room and stays sitting, quietly and calmly.

The Doctor tries, but the memories are too fresh, the silence in his mind too sudden, too immediate. He dozes in spurts, never more than ten minutes, before waking, screaming or crying.

At one point he thinks he even calls for his mother, and his wife, and although the Brigadier's eyebrows raise, still he says nothing, just sits there in comforting, companionable silence. He leaves only when his wife returns, to tell her about their guest, promising that he will be back as soon as possible, and keeps to his word; when it is time for him to go to bed, he gives the Doctor clear, precise directions to his bedroom, and even draws a map of the house.

The Doctor does not move all night, just lies there, curled up on his side, clutching his sash and sobbing.

For the next week, that is how it goes, every day. The Brigadier starts bringing work up, and books, but never makes any hint that he plans to leave the Doctor alone, and when he does have to, he says exactly where he is going. The Doctor, for his part, sleeps little and speaks less, picking at his food. He can't bring himself even to go and see the TARDIS, knowing that she won't let him in, that she brought him here to recuperate and isn't going to allow him to leave until his first thought upon doing so won't be to send himself – and her – into the middle of a star.

After a week has gone by, the Brigadier starts bringing books for the Doctor, too, and red pens, remembering that the third incarnation liked to correct scientific journals. He brings the paper, and thinks the Doctor doesn't notice him watching, trying to work out which bits the Doctor won't read.

Trying to work out what's wrong.

He brings a television up, and a DVD player, and puts on Disney films. The Doctor wonders where on Earth the Brigadier got Disney films from; it is the first spark of curiosity he has felt in nearly ten days.

Two weeks after Gallifrey's murder, and the Doctor becomes aware of a pressing urge which he has been avoiding until now. He wets his lips, and says, in a voice that is hoarse from disuse, "Brigadier. Where's your toilet?"

The Brigadier looks up, faintly surprised, from his stack of papers, and gives him directions. The Doctor thanks him, and leaves, making his way down the hall.

It is only after he has relieved himself, and is making his way back, that it finally dawns on him that the Brigadier's house is quite large, and quite old, and that he has no idea where he is despite having walked the way to this room twice already.

He begins to search for his room but what starts off as a search slowly becomes an exploration, and soon the Doctor has looked into every room on this floor and most of the ones downstairs, too, and noticed the decorations hanging from the walls and ceiling and the tree in the living room, where the TARDIS has been pushed into an alcove by the fireplace and had a wreath placed on her door.

Outside is a typical English winter's day, cold and bucketing with rain, and suddenly the Doctor is desperate to feel fresh air on his face again. He finds the kitchen, and the back door, and the keys to it, and steps out into freezing, driving rain, not caring that he is still only in his thin pyjamas or that he is still clutching his sash.

The grounds are muddy and his feet are soon plastered with it, but he keeps going, squelching through the mud. Eventually, he comes in a full circle around to the garage, and slips inside for a look, only to be confronted with Bessie.

He had no idea that the Brigadier had her now. He stares, not quite sure what to do, not daring to touch her in case she, like Romana in his dreams, melts away.

It is the big red bow on her windscreen that finally convinces him that she must be real, and he steps forwards, touches her, runs his hands over the familiar leather and metal, feels Time flux about her.

"I was wondering where you'd got to." The voice is the Brigadier's, and the Doctor turns, not quite daring to take his hand off Bessie. The Brigadier nods to the car, and continues, "Had her brought in specially. Was going to give her back to you for Christmas, but I suppose I'll have to be more creative now." Another pause, then he says, more quietly, "I was beginning to think you might have drowned yourself."

He opens his mouth to lie, to deflect, to say anything but the truth, but all he can think to say is, "I killed Gallifrey."

/\/\/\


He talks for hours after that. The Brigadier doesn't interrupt, doesn't ask questions, doesn't pass judgement. By the time he's done, the Doctor is shivering, equal parts cold and emotional exhaustion, huddled against Bessie's bumper on the concrete floor, and staring down.

Still the Brigadier says nothing, and the Doctor cannot blame him, not for all the preaching he's done at the Brigadier over the years. Hypocrite. Good-for-nothing. Genocide.

"Doctor," the Brigadier says, when he's done, and he looks up, the tone of voice as much as anything shocking him. It is still gentle and kind, perhaps even understanding, and the Brigadier's face tells the same story. He extends a hand. "It's dashed cold out here, and I'm not as young as I was. Let's get inside."

The Doctor still stares, searching his face for any hint of revulsion. The Brigadier sighs a little.

"I don't hate you. I never have and I never shall. I am not, however, about to lower myself to trotting out trite phrases such as 'You did what you had to do'. Those help nobody." He shakes his hand a little, re-extending the offer. "Rather than informing you that I am here for you, I intend to actually be here for you, which in this instance would seem to involve getting you into the warm before you freeze to death. Come inside."

The Doctor stares at that hand a full minute longer, expecting it to withdraw at any moment. When it doesn't, he reaches out, slowly, and takes it, letting the Brigadier pull him to his feet.

The Brigadier regards him for a moment, and says, "I think it's time we saw to your clothes. And maybe a haircut. You're beginning to look very like the chap in the scarf."

/\/\/\


The Doctor has not been obliged to buy clothes in a very long time, but, unwilling to try the TARDIS door and find himself rejected, he finds himself that afternoon parking Bessie in the car-park at Bluewater shopping centre, underneath a giant reindeer made out of lightbulbs, hair hastily sheared off by the Brigadier's helpful wife. For temporary measures he has borrowed an old suit of the Brigadier's; the fit is odd, but not uncomfortable, although he is still desperately in need of shoes.

Every time he thinks of this, he begins to laugh a little hysterically, so he is trying to avoid the issue of footwear until it becomes impossible to do so.

The Brigadier gives him a tidy sum of money and excuses himself to do last-minute Christmas shopping, leaving the Doctor to wander aimlessly around clothing shops until he can find something, anything that basically resembles clothing, really.

It's not that easy, of course. Even the dullest colours make him wince; fabrics are too smooth, or too thin, or not good enough quality (really, the rubbish some chains can get away with selling in this era is breathtaking). Eventually, though, he finds a jumper, and a pair of trousers, and a leather jacket that reminds him of Bessie's seats, and even some shoes. He changes in the toilets, stuffs the Brigadier's clothes into the bags to return to him, and realises that he still has a bit of money left over.

With nothing else to do and nearly an hour to spare before they're due to rendez-vous, he pockets it, and does some Christmas shopping of his own.

When they do rendez-vous, the Brigadier has a small smile on his face. It stays there for the rest of the day, as the Doctor sits in the living-room, eats dinner, lets the Brigadier talk him into a game of cards, and generally acts as defiantly as possible towards the TARDIS, who is radiating smugness from her corner of the room, and it is only when he returns to his room that night that he finds the file on his pillow.

Sarah-Jane typed it; he'd know that writing style anywhere. It is not a UNIT file, either, he notices, and flicks through it. Autons. The Nestene Consciousness somewhere here, on the Earth... the war, of course. This is his fault, and the Brigadier...

The Brigadier couldn't have known, he scolds himself, and is just doing exactly what he did before; offering the Doctor a chance to be useful again.

He puts the file under his pillow, with his sash, and sleeps a little better that night.

/\/\/\


He starts, with the Brigadier's help, triangulating possible sites for the Nestene Consciousness to have taken over, and as Christmas approaches the Doctor is beginning to feel more and more like his old self. By Christmas Day, he is able to join in the banter about the table, rib the Brigadier for not getting him a Christmas present even though the Doctor remembered, and far less inclined to burst into tears on seeing an orange paper crown than he would have been a few weeks ago.

Still, though, he refuses to go near the TARDIS. In the living room he always takes the seat with its back to her; he refuses to look at her, let alone touch her. The Brigadier surely notices, but says nothing.

The January sales are fast approaching, and with them, the perfect opportunity for an Auton attack. By New Year's Eve, the Doctor still has no idea where the thing might be, but does have a short-list of places he might go to find out, and broaches the subject of closer investigation with the Brigadier, who seems more than happy to see him leave the house without an escort. It's been over a month, after all.

On New Year's Day, he marches into Bessie's garage to find the Brigadier waiting for him, arms folded.

"Oh, no, you don't," he says firmly. "That time machine of yours has been cluttering up my front room for long enough, I'll have you know. It's about time you took it somewhere."

"It's broken," the Doctor says, but the lie is too easy, and the Brigadier has known him too long.

"If it were broken, you would be spending hours a day trying to fix it, not avoiding it like the devil."

"I'm going to that department store. It's just down the road. Don't need the TARDIS."

"And how long has that been an impediment to its function?" The Brigadier wants to know. "Good heavens, man, I'm only asking you to move it out of my front room. Move it out here and then take Bessie, if you like."

But moving the TARDIS would still require the Doctor to open those doors and walk in, of course, and that's all that matters. The Brigadier knows it, as much as he knows that there is no valid reason why the Doctor shouldn't be willing to move a large, untidy police box out of his living room.

The Doctor feels his jaw working, but says, "Right then."

The Brigadier follows him back into the house, and into the living room, and stands there waiting as the Doctor fumbles for the key that he has never fumbled for and moves slowly forwards, expecting the key to heat up, or the lock to refuse to turn, or...

The doors open the moment he lays his hand on them, before he's even raised the key to the lock. Inside, the TARDIS is... different. Yellower. Rounder. Less wooden, every last shred of the war cleared away.

He walks in as tentatively as any human ever has. The TARDIS cranks up her psychic volume, warm, comforting, welcoming him home. As he slides his hands gently over the controls, familiar yet different, he notices a large, squashy package wrapped in blue paper on the console.

He picks it up. The paper has Yetis on it; nothing like the real ones, of course, but still, Yetis. The Doctor looks back at the Brigadier, who smiles.

"I must confess I was expecting this recovery to take slightly less time."

The Doctor turns the parcel over a couple of times, then opens it. Inside are three jumpers, nearly identical, and a note.

The note says, 'Now get this blasted thing out of my damn living room!'

He looks back at the Brigadier, who just looks at him, daring him to make comment.

"All right," the Doctor says. "But I'm just going to that department store."

"Of course. When you get back, do try to land in the garage, won't you? Or at least your room."

"Are you suggesting that my piloting is less than perfect?"

"Doctor, your piloting is so far from perfect as to be untrue."

"I'm a fantastic pilot," the Doctor insists. "Stand back, Brigadier, and I'll show you just how fantastic a pilot I am."

The Brigadier, highly amused, stands back as the Doctor begins to work the controls.

/\/\/\


He does come back, which rather surprises the Brigadier after the news reports of explosions. Then he leaves the next morning, and returns again, that afternoon, rather despondent.

Saved the world, but lost the girl. The Brigadier isn't foolish enough to think that the Doctor is ready to be alone, so he thinks for a moment, remembering some of the other friends the Doctor has had accompanying him over the years. "And she didn't want to travel in space?"

"No. Humans," the Doctor adds crossly. "All laundry and dinner with mum and they'll-wonder-where-I've-gone... as if it isn't a time machine."

Ah. Well, there it is, right there, the Brigadier thinks, and asks, "Did you make it clear to her that it was a time machine?"

"Well, of course I..." the Doctor stops, frowning, then leaps up and dives for the TARDIS. "No, I didn't!"

"Won't see him again for another twenty years," the Brigadier remarks to the cat, as the TARDIS fades away once more.
/\/\/\

Date: 2008-12-15 01:54 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
This is fantastic! (g)

Date: 2008-12-15 09:44 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I think this might be my favourite one yet. I love the Brig, and their interaction. Wonderful.

(torn_eledhwen)

Date: 2008-12-15 08:43 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Brilliant!! Sad and heartwarming in equal measure.

themolesmother

Date: 2008-12-16 03:28 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Oh my god I want to see him meety the Brig again in a happy moment so baaaaadddd in the show! he deserves soem HAppiness!!!

Date: 2015-01-10 10:01 am (UTC)
shyfoxling: glowing blue circles and hexagons on a dark blue background (doctor who (TARDIS scanner))
From: [personal profile] shyfoxling
Wow, this is awesomely cool!

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