He has a name. It is not a particularly unpleasant or embarrassing name. It's not even a particularly special name, except for how it is special to him.
He has the name cooed to him from infanthood and he is called it when it's time for dinner. He is taught how to write it and he learns when it's said in a certain tone of voice he's in very, very deep trouble. His mother pats his head and murmurs his name as she gives him a kiss goodnight. His father stands by the bedroom door, distant and cold, then says his name once as a gesture of goodnight and walks away.
His mother tells him that his name is unique. That he should cherish his name, it's the only name he'll ever have. It's the only time in his life he can remember his mother being wrong.
Not many people know that name, now.
At the age of eight, he is no longer called his given name; he becomes the name in a lineup. Theta of the Sigma dormitory system in the Prydonian chapter of the Academy. It's not a particularly good name, he thinks, but it could be much worse.
He has the name barked at him across classrooms and shouted as he runs away from the Tempered Schism. He has the name laughed at him from his best friend and whispered at him from the first girl he ever found attractive. Koschei raises an eyebrow and watches him, taking only enough time to say his name before turning to go back to his own duties.
But everyone grows out of childhood nicknames.
When he is ninety-one, he needs a name to pass the guards on the way to the Medusa Cascade. He picks the most common name on that planet he's been studying, Earth. They'll never have heard of Earth and they'll have never heard of this name.
He has the name on hand as an announcement device when a name is appropriate but his own would never fit. He signs it on tax documents and has it on the door to his laboratory in UNIT. He has it shouted at him by scientists and con-men alike. It's an excellent alias, a wonderful pseudonym.
But a pseudonym is just what it says on the tin. ψευδώνυμον. A false name. He can't build his life on a false name.
At the age of one-hundred-seventy-five, he picks up a new name. Technically, it is an occupation, but he likes the look of respect he gets when he's introduced. Sure, it's not the name he told them to call him, but it works. Things like this are commonplace to him, landing in the wrong place at the wrong time, or being called the wrong thing at the wrong time.
He likes being the man that makes people better.
The not-name sticks. He's called it by his companions, he's had it purred at him by lovers. He's had it shouted at him by villains and he's had it knighted by Queen Victoria. It's a name both cursed and revered across the galaxies.
The man who makes people better. The scholar with too much time on his hands. The surgeon, carefully cutting the bad out of the universe. Yes, he decides while placing a hand to his lapel, yes, it is quite the fitting name.
"Doctor," she says, addressing him and saying who he is in one encompassing word-name. "Doctor who? It's more than just a secret, isn't it?
"Theta Sigma." It is said in a tone that is more than a little mocking by a man who knew him when he was young enough to appreciate the name.
"It's John, isn't it?" she asks, loving the pseudonym the man has become.
"I'm sorry," she says. "I am truly sorry." He feels River's lips move against his ear as a word, a name, his name, is spoken. It is not a particularly unpleasant or embarrassing name. It's not even a particularly special name, except for how it is special to him.
The Time Lord. The Fireplace Man. The Lonely God. The Man Without a Home. The Traveler. The Valeyard. The Stranger. Ka Faraq Gatri, the Bringer of Darkness. Karshtakavaar, the Oncoming Storm.
When he was very, very young, he lost his name to the depths of the universe. Or perhaps he sacrificed it. Or perhaps it was lost in the sea of his other names.
But he is, forever, the Doctor. It's a title that he will never lose.
Muse: The Doctor (Ten)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count: 751