"That's why I write, because life never works except in retrospect. You can't control life, at least you can control your version." - Chuck Palahniuk
If you let something go and it comes back to you, it's yours forever. Apparently. You've never really believed in that sort of thing. Too many birds have flown away and left you with an empty cage. You've become used to the fact that "alone" and "Doctor" have become synonymous.
You find companions. You travel with them for a time and they leave you and you're alone. One such time, verymuch alone, you picked up someone from the Plane. The place between dimensions, where the half-human, half-Time Lord version of yourself had been travelling. Also alone.
So, you ask him to travel with you. To spend some of his limited human days on your TARDIS, like so many humans that walked into and out of that ship with you. Only he would wear more sensible shoes, of course.
Oh, but it would never be an easy companionship, but you've grown rather accustomed to having him there. He's not you, but that's all right. You've got enough ego to fill the TARDIS all by yourself. No, he's something else, and that makes him equally frustrating and fascinating. More frequently the former, but it's the latter that reminds you how much you do enjoy his company.
"You've burned the tea again? What---How do you even manage to do that?"
"You're the one who insists I make it, when I could be helping with repairs."
"And you think I'd let you touch the consoles when you've already ruined my kettle?"
"I'd like to see you try better."
"Fine!" A beat. "You don't even know how to turn it on, do you?"
"I'm working on it!"
It's enough to make you believe that he's enough to fill your loneliness.
You put no restrictions on the TARDIS or the Plane. Come and go as you please. Let something go and all that.
He starts to go more frequently. Long stays away, visits with people he doesn't talk about over tea. You don't let it affect you, don't let the nagging sense of doubt go any further than the back of your mind.
And then, one day, he announces he's leaving.
He's made a friend. A very dear friend. The Master. And the Master is going to turn him into a Time Lord.
"You can't," you say as he grabs his jacket from the TARDIS closet and begins to head towards the door.
"I have to."
"No, you really, really can't. It's impossible to change a human into a Time Lord. Bodies don't work like that, physical forms can't work like that."
"But what if he can?"
"What if? So what if he can, you shouldn't! Let's say he changes you into a Time Lord, turns you back into the Doctor in your memories. Then what? What will you do with everything that you've lost?"
"Lost? I'll be gaining---"
"If you become a Time Lord, if you become the Doctor, you're just one among dozens on the Plane. Even more in the multicosmos. But don't you see? The brevity of your lifespan, the way you can live now, it sets you apart. It makes you different. You're unique, now. You won't be if you let him change you. And you'll be losing her."
"Yes, her! Donna Noble. The Donna inside of you. The only part of Donna left in the universe. You're the only part of her I have left. That anyone has left. That you have left." You're struggling to control the emotion that you've found creeping into your voice, but you can't. You step down the hall towards him and he doesn't move, doesn't go back or step forward. This could be considered 'progress'.
And, to your surprise, he laughs. It's an unhappy, angry-sounding laugh. "It's not about me at all, is it? It's Donna. Can't be parted from her."
"You're special, just as you are. No name, backwards past, half Doctor, half Donna, and a terrible taste in t-shirts, yes. But you're yourself. You're not me, you're not like any of them out there. You're you. He's going to take that away."
He looks for a moment like he's going to relent. Like he's going to change his mind and put the jacket away and stay. For a moment, you think you've convinced him.
The moment passes. He turns to leave. You consider stepping around him, telling him how much you need him as a companion, how much better you are for him being there.
You hesitate. He's gone.
He goes back to his room. In the morning, he's gone. Left, back to the Plane, back to the Master. His room is pushed deep into the TARDIS, as though he had never been there. Not unlike Lucy, actually. Funny, how you've systematically lost the people you care about to the Master. You want them, he wants them more. He wins.
You try to ignore the empty place in the TARDIS. You tell Jack that your missing companion's gone off to live his own life, make his own mark on the world. That mark being a Time Lord-shaped mark that can never, ever exist. Not the point.
You drop a post to the other Doctor on that TARDIS. Let him know. If anyone can protect him...well, it isn't you, but it might be him.
Jack leaves eventually, back to Torchwood. Without that half-human glue holding you two together, you drift apart. You're alone.
It takes some time until you realize, what hurts isn't that your human companion's gone and can't fill your loneliness. It hurts that you weren't enough to fill his.
Strange, considering how often you looked down on him.
You travel to the Plane, often. Time's against you, you must keep missing him. Some people say they've seen him. After a while, people don't know who you're talking about. The fortress sits in the distance of the Plane and you think that you should go see him. You sit in the console room and turn the card with the Master's phone number on it through your fingers over and over. You won't call, of course, any more than you'll visit the fortress.
There are rumors that people have gone missing on the Plane. They're probably only rumors, you remind yourself.
After a time, you can't point to your own face and say "Bloke who looks like me," when asking about him. You've changed, and for all you know, so has he. Regenerated, aged; whichever side of him became dominant. After a while, you just stop asking. Maybe the Master succeeded. Maybe he didn't. Maybe it doesn't matter anymore.
You run your hand over your dark hair and look out into the stars. Time to leave the Plane. Time to leave.
Centuries pass. Your mergers never quite seal. Sometimes, you can still see zeppelins in your London sky, talking cats, and Daleks on the outer rim.
And sometimes, you can see a man who looks like you used to look, standing in a dark suit without pinstripes and a tie without a design. He walks through the streets looking lost, like he's trying to find something to fill himself.
You always stop to call out to him, but hesitate. And he's gone.
As though he had never been there.
Muse: The Doctor (Ten)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count: 1,181
Based on roleplay in realityshifted
Special thanks to handysparehand for the beta!