Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count: 1,064
Summary: The War affected everyone, whether the Time Lords knew it or not.
Author's Notes: Written for TM, for this prompt: "The true magic of this broken world lay in the ability of the things it contained to vanish, to become so thoroughly lost, that they might never have existed in the first place." The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, by Michael Chabon.. Special thanks to ambitious_woman for beta.
"Everything vanishes," the man's voice only just carried above the howling wind from the top of the building on which they stood, "You say their name over and over and it gets quieter and quieter. It is, eventually, as if they never existed."
"You don't have to do this."
"But, I do. Don't you see? There's nothing left. No stars. No names. Just voices getting quieter and quieter."
It was a young man, gaunt, gangly and nude from the waist up, standing on the edge of a very long drop. His blue hair was overly long, and the breeze threw it about his face carelessly. His hands, spiny and blue-freckled like the rest of his exposed skin, outstretched. The Doctor was quite sure the man would fall at any moment.
The Doctor mused that this was the First Contact he'd had with these creatures. He hadn't actually seen one of the inhabitants of this planet since he and Martha arrived. Oh, they'd seen that the place was fairly heavily populated, but never actually seen the people who lived on it.
"Why are they all wearing masks?" Martha had said, tilting her head to the side as a beige-clad humanoid in a featureless beige mask skittered past them. The whole city had been like that, people clad in nothing but beige clothes with odd symbols across the back, and featureless masks.
The city itself was only impressive in how entirely unimpressive it was. No skyscrapers, no landmarks, just tall, rectangular complexes that could've been cut from the same wafer-mould. Every building was the same size and shape, and all in that queer off-white color. Martha's dark purple tank and the Doctor's blue suit seemed to simply scream against the drabness of everything else.
"Do you think we're offending them?" Martha had asked, "They're running away.
"Probably afraid," the Doctor replied, "We're like nothing they've seen before. Still! I've been the diplomat to sixteen planets learning about the stars, might as well make it seventeen."
The idea had positively delighted Martha, "You mean, we'll be like, First Contact or something."
"Something like that, yeah." He grinned madly at her, and they headed down an alleyway to explore. Everything looked so completely the same, it was startling. Even on Gallifrey, where ordinary-ness was strived for, people still pressed for individuality, or brotherhood within houses, at the very least. The only thing that changed from street to street here was the rubble along the grounds.
"Where is this place, anyway?" Martha had asked.
"Not sure, just outside of the Forswythe cluster." The Doctor had replied, shoving his hands into his pockets.
"You don't know where you took us?"
He turned his gaze to his companion, "You did want to go somewhere new!"
"The only way you can go somewhere new is if it's somewhere you don't even know where?" She had looked decidedly unimpressed.
"We can go back to the TARDIS."
"Not a chance, Mister. This place has already got a mystery to it."
"A mystery, really?"
Martha had nodded, "Yeah, like all this rubble. Looks like buildings and stuff, doesn't it? But none of the buildings are damaged, they all look the same. So where did it come from?"
The Doctor had agreed, and they turned down an alleyway in time for something to fall before the Doctor as Martha continued to walk on ahead of him. The Doctor looked up to the source of the falling object, his eyes widening.
"Why do you think they wear those masks for, anyway?" Martha had asked, "Do you think it's like the Daleks? They need to keep themselves inside? Or maybe it's just cultural---"
She had spun around to see that she was alone in the alleyway. She took a few steps forward. The fallen object was a mask. She looked up to find her Doctor on top of the building, trying to talk down a jumper. Brilliant.
"Nothing vanishes, it doesn't work that way," the Doctor said to the man, sliding towards the edge. For all his machismo, the Doctor could admit that heights were not his favorite things in the universe. But this man---no, this boy, he couldn't have been older then seventeen if he aged as a human did---didn't turn to look at him, just kept his arms spread wide and his clawed feet hanging just over the edge.
So young. Too young to end his own life. It couldn't end like that. Not yet.
"I can feel the wind on my face," the boy said, "It feels so good, so freeing. Can you feel it?" The boy took a breath, and let out a strange, wailing noise. It was nearly primal howling, nearly tuneless singing, but entirely joyful. While the noise was not pleasant, there was no way the Doctor would even think to cover his ears against it. It was so strangely beautiful. The moment passed, and the boy quieted.
The Doctor reached out a hand to the boy. "Don't jump. Let me help you, I'm a Doctor."
"A what?" The boy turned his head, and his eyes, entirely blue with no pupils, widened. "Y-you're different," he gasped, "Stars and satyrs, you're different."
"Yes, well, I'm not from around here," the Doctor replied, trying on a cheeky smile despite the long drop down to his companion in the alley below. "Nothing is exactly what you think it's going to be."
He offered his hand again. The boy took a breath, and raised his own spiny hand to meet the Doctor's.
"I don't want to disappear," the boy whispered.
The Doctor nodded, "You won't. I promise."
The doorway to the roof opened, and eight black-masked people appeared. The Doctor could only assume they were law enforcement by their weaponry.
"Two unmasked individuals. Step forward. Step forward now!"
The boy froze and his jaw set. "I won't disappear." He turned back to the edge. The Doctor dived forward, knocking him off his feet and back onto the safety of the roof. The law enforcement surrounded them both.
"I won't disappear! I won't disappear!" The boy screamed at the top of his lungs as they wrapped hand-bonders around them and shoved black masks on both his and the Doctor's faces.
"You will be processed. You will come!"
Captured, taken, processed. Brilliant. He'd saved a life, but what would it cost? If the Doctor disappeared, what would happen to Martha?