"Dendrites, brain processes, just a little different. New new me and all that." You offer her a lopsided grin, but she's focused on the object she's found. You both were looking for dressy outfits for a party in the late 50's. You're fairly certain you're just going to pull on your cursed tuxedo, but she can never just make up her mind. Like now. Now, she's just distracted.
She runs her hand along the soft leather. It's creased and worn in places, and she touches it the way she once touched your arm. Gentle, delicate. Like the mouse who pulled the thorn from the lion's paw. She could've been hurt by you, but she wasn't. In the end, she saved you.
You wonder if she realizes you're the same man who wore that coat. You're so different than the sarcastic and callous man you were, but he's still there, sleeping inside of your mind. Like the rest of your incarnations; in a room without windows or doors.
She's right, of course. You were so different back then. A spine made strong from having to hold yourself up, hands that burned because they were coated in blood. You were a different man because you had to be and the human concept of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder doesn't even begin to cover the way you felt. Still feel, sometimes.
It's like part of you died during the War and he was the bitter amputee learning to cope with what was gone. Of course, instead of a leg or an arm, you'd lost your whole planet, a chunk of your psychic world and any family you might've had.
As you stand in the wardrobe room looking at the jacket, you cross your arms, tucking your hands underneath your armpits in a tight, almost uncomfortable stance. It feels like something you should do, but in this thin body it feels unnatural. An old habit you've waned off. Nail biting when you haven't bitten your nails in a year. The stance of the man you were.
You're still that man. He's not even that deep inside; he's just below your jolly new incarnation. The tired soldier, the angry old man. That was you. That is you.
It's that part of you that you hope she never has to confront. The part of you that you were quite certain was (or is) unredeemable. The part of you that she couldn't repair. You think that maybe you'll always have a scar on your soul.
But Rose has done you good. She's done you so much good, prying your hands from where you'd crossed them and holding them to hers. There's less prying in this incarnation, but that doesn't make her holding your hand mean less now.
She's still repairing you. You wonder if she realizes that.
She starts, and turns back to you with a little smile. Tears are in the creases of her eyes, but since you're sure she doesn't want you to notice that, you don't say anything. She misses the man you were sometimes. The man she knew.
You're just grateful she's never had to confront the man who could kill billions without a second thought. The man who existed for only moments on a glider ship above Gallifrey, who killed without remorse because it was necessary. The man who wore your jacket was what was borne out of him. Regret and anger and hollowness that she's been filling up with her innocence and caring.
She steps over to you and takes your hand. "Ready to go?"
Muse: The Doctor (Ten)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count: 689
Partner: Rose Tyler (canon)