The Psychiatrist: Women. You get to talk about women.
Thomas Crown: Oh, I enjoy women.
The Psychiatrist: Enjoyment isn't intimacy.
Thomas Crown: And intimacy isn't necessarily enjoyment.
The Psychiatrist: How would you know? Has it occurred to you that you have a problem with trust?
Thomas Crown: I trust myself implicitly.
The Psychiatrist: But can other people trust you?
Thomas Crown: Oh, you mean society at large?
The Psychiatrist: I mean women, Mr.Crown.
Thomas Crown: Yes, a woman could trust me.
The Psychiatrist: Good. Under what extraordinary circumstances would you allow that to happen?
Thomas Crown: A woman could trust me as long as her interests didn't run too contrary to my own.
- The Thomas Crown Affair
He loved her, once.
He remembers the emotion, even if he no longer possesses the ability to feel the emotion. He remembers long nights and deep sadness and companionship and other ridiculous sensations such as those and he remembers her warmth. He remembers her comfort.
It's funny, but even as he walks down the darkened street towards her (where he left her oh, so long ago), he feels a strange pang. A longing for the comforts of home. Were he the sort to indulge in such ridiculousness, he might even term it as homesickness. But he is not that sort of a man.
He hasn't been that sort of a man in a very, very long time.
He approaches the box, nestled in the corner of the road, waiting. She's so old, now. Old and quiet. She hums a little with his approach and he can very nearly hear her whispering in his mind.
Come. Come to me, Doctor. Come, fly away with me. Her voice in his mind is old and brittle. It scratches with age and sadness.
There's nothing he can feel for the ship, now. Not after everything that he's done, not after all he's accomplished since he gave up the old and went for the new and powerful battleships of Santor 4. He upgraded them. He made better ships. She is so antiquated, he has no idea why he thought so highly of her as a machine.
He places a hand to her side. The sensation is not unlike brushing the face of a former lover, one that no longer pleases but really can't help her lack of appeal. Not everyone can turn back time, even a time machine. And she used to be mighty in his mind. Now she's just pathetic. Something to be pitied.
He reaches a hand to his pocket. The key is still there. It's an odd thing, but he's never found himself without it. Even when she was hundreds of thousands of light years away, he kept it in his pocket. Probably just thinking of a day like this, he supposes. He slips it into the lock, feeling the metal chink against metal. The door opens and the musty smell of old coral wafts into his nostrils.
It's like she's sighed at his arrival. Pity she's got thousand-year morning breath.
He steps into the room, the rubber of his black trainers quiet against the rusting grating. The room brightens with each step towards the console and her consciousness slowly begins to waken, to creep soft tendrils around the dendrites of his mind. It's very like an embrace, and for all that he's held his share of worlds in the palm of his hand, he hasn't been touched in a very, very long time.
Some things come naturally. To him, the natural reaction is to push her away, to retreat into himself. But for her, perhaps out of a misguided sense of nostalgia, he holds back that instinct. He opens his mind, just a little, and returns the gesture. He can immediately feel pleasure bubbling in his mind. He doesn’t feel pleasure from things like embraces anymore, they're far too miniscule. No, that means the pleasure is all hers.
She's been so lonely.
She hears that sensation in his mind and recoils, embarrassed. Ashamed. She hasn't changed like he has, she doesn't understand the callousness. She wants to flee, she wants to flee with him, the way things were. She missed him so much. She tries to express it, but he can't bear the sentimental drivel she's trying to feed him. She withdraws.
But she can't go away, not yet. Not while he's got so much to do. He reaches out a mental hand to grasp her escaping consciousness, gripping it tight like a wrist beneath a harsh touch. She is startled, wary, but she won't run from him. Not completely.
Good. That's good.
He grips her tighter in his mind and steps forward to the controls. With one hand, he grips under the grating, digging his fingers into the warm, delicate coral beneath. He feels her gasp in his mind, startled and afraid. He's never been so rash, never gripped her so harshly. She tries to pry his mind, tries to ask what he's doing. Why won't he talk to her, the way he did when he would fix her before? His touches were always so soft, then. Soft and loving.
He mentally tells her to shut up.
His other hand flips on a monitor. She's lost a lot of power in these last few decades. She'll be dead no matter what he does. Maybe. Not that it would matter if not. He grips the other side of the grating and gives a tug. It comes free, clattering loudly against the floor. He doesn't hesitate, he reaches into her core. It's a sharp and sudden sensation and she cries out in alarm. But he can feel her consciousness; feel how badly she wants to trust him. He's her Time Lord. She has to trust him. She tries to curl herself into his mind, to be with him while he's within her, but he brushes her away.
He reaches into the strands of wires, feeling their soft strands brush his fingertips. He grips tightly and pulls them out of the way. She gasps and he pulls again, ripping most of them out. It hurts, he can feel it. It hurts, but he's touching her, he's with her. It's all right so long as he's with her. Like it used to be.
He reaches within, his hand brushing the coral beneath the wires. She hisses a little with steam and pain. He's not prepared her, she's not ready. But he goes deeper, her warm insides aching and straining against his ministrations.
This isn't like it used to be. Doctor, please, you're hurting me. Is she actually pleading with him? How did he ever manage to deal with her for so long?
"Shut up, you great idiotic box."
She silences instantly. He feels her direct power to her center, to try to block out some of the pain. The pain numbs in her. He won't stop now, though. Even when he knows that eventually she will be unable to block out the pain. She longs for him, but she's just a means. He's pretty sure she can tell, too.
He rips out tubing and throws aside half-repaired cogs. His suit is covered in black TARDIS blood (the same consistency as oil, like any ship.) In his mind, she is starting to cry, struggling against his grip, trying to pull her consciousness back into the console, trying to get away and protect herself.
"You know what I'm doing, don't you?" he growls, his hands reaching deeper into her, pulling more of her out. The pain is back. He feels her writhe against it, the warmth of the coral against his skin. It's very nearly arousing, if he were the sort of man who felt arousal.
He could let her mind go, but he prefers her this way. Helpless against him, like the rest of the universe. She's not special. She doesn't get to fight back. The Master got to fight back, but only because it was really, really fun watching him fail. Watching him fight to try to regain the man he hated (or was it loved? The two emotions are equally idiotic). The ship is a tool. Tools aren't allowed to fight.
"You know what I want, and I won't leave without it."
He can hear her weeping, somewhere in his mind. Begging for him to let her back. Please, she'll do anything. Anything, just stop. Doctor, please, stop.
He can't help it. He loves it when they beg.
Years ago, she was a proud ship. Stood side by side with him, or against him if she felt she was being mistreated or ignored. Now she is reduced to this. A messy, lonely ship begging for mercy. Begging for the Time Lord she loved to save her. But that's the worst part of all, isn't it? He is that Time Lord.
"Life's not fair, is it?" he laughs. "No, of course not. It wouldn't be life if it was." He reaches deeper and feels it, warm against his hand. The heart of the TARDIS. Warm and glowing, an ember. The fire is cool, now. The power within her was nearly gone. But he knew it would be like this, of course. That was the only way to handle such power. He had to make sure he came back when she was good and old. He could repower it manually. He has at least three weapons that could use a TARDIS's heart as a power core.
Doctor, please, don't!
"How many times, you stupid ship? The Doctor is long since dead. I am the Valeyard!" He grips the heart and yanks. Harder. Harder. Once more, and it comes free.
She screams. Were she a woman, he could imagine her head falling back, gray hair tumbling down her shoulders as she cried out. Not a cry of orgasm, of course. No, no, this was certainly a cry of despair. Of utter loss, of complete emptiness. No Time Lord, no stars, and now all that was left of her life was ripped from her. It curls in his mind and weakens, going slack and quiet, like the sound of a long distant echo, the pitch still humming in his ears even as the console room goes dark and the walls begin to chill.
No sound a lover could make would be as sweet.
Muse: The Doctor (The Valeyard)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count: 1,604
Partner: The TARDIS (canon)