And many still to be
Since you are a shining light
There's many that you'll see
You remember all of them.
Slipping like sand through a sieve, they slide into and out of your world. You try to hold onto them, but they move so quickly, and you're sluggish in comparison. You have so much time to say things, to do things, and they have so little.
You have so much time to save the world, and they have so little.
Now, they're dust. They stood in front of the ray for you, sparing your brittle old-man bones from the death that would've been yours if you'd been caught, and now they're gone. Youths, young women who had whole lives ahead of them. Lives, long lives, lives with smiles and love and children and lives and they're gone now, and you won't sully their deaths with your tears but you want to. You want to cry for them, because they died for you, and you'd have been the one in their place in a heartbeat, but now it's too late. There's no time.
"Who is Jessica Kingdom?" A very living face pokes out from your office, holding an envelope, "Why did you write her a letter about her daughter?"
You have so much time to remember, and they have so little.
You want to imagine that you're always in their memories, that they'll always think of you fondly, remember you dearly, hold you in their short-beating hearts. When it's ripped away from them, you can't help but ache.
"I feel as though I've just forgotten something terribly important."
She has. She's forgotten years of her life. Years to someone who has so little years to begin with, and she turns and walks away, and you try to keep a smile on your face. She's going to be happy, you say, she's going to have a real life out there. A life without you and that's okay, because you'll always remember her. And your memory is longer anyway.
"We can't go there," you tell the new face, and she of course demands to know why. "No one goes to the Wheel in Space anyway; it's too frightfully dull, full of mathematicians. Come along."
You have so much time to ponder the right words to say, and they have so little.
"He's like you," she says of the man she's marrying. He's like you but isn't, and that's why she loves him. He's willing to move forward, willing to tell her how he feels, and you're still waiting for that right moment. You wait for the right moment even as she weds him, and you stand in the back of the church. You wait for the right moment as you read of their children. Her children's children, and their lives. Changing the world, and you get to read it through little snippets of newspapers. Eventually, you read her obituary, and you realize you've missed your moment. Completely and utterly and its gone. What happened to all that precious time?
"Josephine Grant," another face in another era says, flipping the article over, "Married 1973. Did you know her?"
You have so much time to offer forever, and they have so little.
She's leaving you, now. You've given your hearts to this woman, this stupid, stupid, stupid woman, and she's decided to stay in another universe rather than join you. She's got forever on a string, just like you do, but she isn't willing to wait for your words for forever. You don't beg her to stay (you want to), you just let her go. Dignity or something like that. Her long hair whisking behind her, she turns and takes everything that's important to you. Your hearts, your dignity, even your dog.
You want to hate her, but you don't. And when Gallifrey burns four centuries later, you can hear her screams in your dreams for decades.
"You never talk about the people of your planet. What were they like, Doctor?" She's nothing like the elfish woman in your memories, but she invokes her just the same.
You have so much time to make mistakes, and they can only make a few.
He's your son. Your student. Your friend. You swear you can see his resigned expression, the slight fear as he twists an object in his hands, and is gone just like that. There's nothing you can do. He's just gone. Gone gone gone gone gone. Your other companions beg you, plead with you to let them go back and save him. You can't. You can't, and it's over. You can't and it's over and you watch them cry and grieve. You can't, and it's over and you watch them cry and grieve and wish you could be part of that grief, because then you'd have the chance to let it go and forget one day. Not forget. No, you don't want to forget, you just want to know that one day it won't hurt so much, but you don't grieve like them. You aren't allowed that luxury.
"I never forget anything," you tell the new face, and she looks at you disbelievingly, but you know it's true.
You have so much time to push them away, and they have so little to come back.
She's an image on a screen in a courtroom, and that's the last you'll see of her. Your memory's been corrupted, and you can't remember what it was you said to her last, but you know it couldn't have been what you wanted to say. You've loved her for so long, these last three years you've loved her, but you've hidden behind an arrogant and arguing mask because you always think you have the time to tell her later, but now she's gone. Gone completely and they won't tell you where, they'll just promise that she's happy. Happy and gone and it's too late, now. You're angry and arrogant and alone and no matter how hard you try, you can't blame anyone but yourself.
"These are beautiful flowers, Doctor, where did you collect them?" The label by the flowers says you didn't, and you're fairly sure she's just fishing to learn about the mysterious Peri that brought them to you.
You have so much time to forgive, they have so little.
She just can't take it anymore. You're not the man she expects, and not the man she thought she wanted. You manipulate, you twist, you deceive. In the end, things turn out all right, and the world gets saved, quite often. In the meantime, though, she's hurt and you're lying to her. And she's suddenly gone.
You pushed her away, you know that. Your young friend; witty, tough. The perfect foil. And she's gone. You reach out a hand to try to stop her, but she just figures it's another way you'll manipulate her, and she doesn't stop and it hurts.
"Why would we want to watch the space fleet flying show?" the new companion asks, "Seems a bit pomp and circumstance, I'm surprised it's your thing."
You have so much time to change your life, and they have so little.
"You come with me." Oh, she can't honestly think you'll go with her, but that doesn't stop her from asking, and in a way it makes you adore her even more. She's brave and strong and daring, the last of which you're not, but that's all right. You have time, and she doesn't, she has to ask. You kiss her again, soft and gentle and commit the feeling to memory, because you know you won't get the courage to see her again until it's too late. She'll marry, she'll move on, she'll grow old and die, and you'll stay in the perpetual limbo where you're considering her offer to stay with her back on Earth. You're pathetic, in that way, you suppose.
"You've kept a General Discharge tag on your desk from St. Mary's Hospital, you realize that?" the new face's eyebrow raises up questioningly.
You have so much time to face your demons, and they have so little.
You hear him scream. It's the chortled, painful cry of a man who has just been exterminated. He's dead. Dead, and it's your fault. You should've moved faster. Moved faster—to what? To kill him, too? The blast will wipe out everything, and you should've figured out a way to send him away with Rose, but you didn't, and now he's dead. Another tick mark on the perpetual ocean of the ones whose deaths you're responsible for.
"What are you, coward or killer?"
You already know the answer. You've always been a killer, and the crumpled form in the hallway, the man who used to laugh and smile and flirt with everything and still hid a dark terror of the two years he'd lost, that man was the proof of what you are.
"Right, so, you're a teetotaler, but you keep cases of something called hypervodka in the refrigerator?" the woman shakes her head, "I'll never understand you, Doctor."
You have so much time---
"Do you always ask so many questions, Martha?" Your irritated look in her direction should be able to melt even the toughest of concrete, but she seems unaffected, and it's frustrating.
"I just want to know about you," she says, leaning over the console, grinning up at you. She idolizes you in many ways, and you can't see fit to knock her down by showing her just how much you don't deserve to be idolized.
"Well, I'm going to be around a while," you tell her, "You've got plenty of time to learn about me."
She huffs, "Well, I'm not."
You raise your eyebrow, "You planning on leaving soon, then?"
"I've got a life back on Earth, I'm eventually going to go back to it." The eternal realist, she is. "I've only got a little time to learn what I can about you, and I'm going to take it."
You can't help it, you smile. She's like every other companion that's walked through your doors, but she's different, too. They're all unique, all own a special piece of your hearts.
"I'm going to be around forever," you tell her, "I ought to learn more about you, so you'll be remembered long after you go back to your life."
"Oh, please," she laughs, "You'll never be interested in my boring old life. I've got to take control of the learn-about-your-traveling-companion situation, otherwise no one will learn anything."
She's right, you know. You shake your head and relent. After all, it's another thing you can remember about her. She's always so very inquisitive. She doesn't have time to be, but she makes the time.
It's something to be admired.
Muse: The Doctor (Ten)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count: 1,816