Some distant point of your youth that you vaguely wave at, it's so far in the background of your current lifetime. You're not entirely sure when you lost it. Some time before the War? Maybe just after you left Gallifrey? Right after you entered the Academy?
You lost it. A long time ago.
It doesn't matter, of course. Names are just titles, and titles don't mean anything, right? Doesn't matter what people think of you, you're just passing through. It's just a bit of an annoyance with introductions, is all.
"What's your name?"
"I'm known as the Doctor."
"Just 'the Doctor'."
"Doctor? That's not a name."
You have an explanation on the tip of your tongue every time this conversation takes place. Names are dangerous, names show who you are. Names have power. Names have…well, all sorts of deep-seated meanings you've assigned to them that don't have a lot to do with the boring name your father gave you upon birth.
In reality, you've been hiding it for so long, you're not even entirely certain you remember.
Which is silly, isn't it? You should know your own name. It is yours, after all! Got it when you were born, held onto it, kept it safe and yours and all that for so long, you should still have it! Sometimes, you think it's just that: a silly thing. Others, it feels like a sweet you hoarded and hid for yourself so long it's spoiled, rotted, and vanished.
"Doctor who? It's more than just a secret, isn't it?"
"What did you see?"
Strange things, names. When you were younger, you can remember thinking of yourself with that name. Like…off walks Susan and so and so, off we go to the fair. Or something like that. For years…no, for centuries now, it's always been the Doctor. Ace and the Doctor, walking towards destiny; my oh my hasn't it been a long time since you've snogged anyone, Doctor? That sort of thing. That hits you at some point, just like when you were walking down the street with Rose and realized that you'd thought "I'd like some chips" in English rather than in your native tongue. Being on your own, away from people who knew you---knew you, name and all---has changed you.
Being nameless is a little worse than simply being a timeless wanderer with a police-box-shaped time ship desperately in need of parts that simply aren't manufactured anymore. It makes all you've done and all you have feel impermanent. 'Sir Doctor of TARDIS' seems more like a ridiculous joke than anything else.
'The Doctor' is a bit of a joke, after all. The man who makes people better. You think back on all the lives you've ruined, all the planets you've destroyed. Making people better seems like the wrong title. You should've listened to the Master in your youth and gone for 'the Rebel'. With that title, you might've gotten a slick leather jacket and a motorbike.
But, the again, people are more likely to simply accept 'the Doctor', aren't they? And someone is more likely to accept a Doctor than a Rebel. And, after all, Doctor sits quite nicely over an alias, doesn't it? Doctor John Smith. Doctor Von Wer. Doctor James McCrimmon.
You lie with Dr. Martha Jones on a heated blanket near the ice rinks of Coromadro. Smith and Jones, you two are. It would be funny, if that was actually your name. You wonder if your real name would fit so well with one of your human companions'? Any of them?
She sips on her hot chocolate and glances over at you.
"Is 'the Doctor' really your name?"
"I mean…is it really? Is that how your whole race works? 'The Insert Title'?"
"No. No, we have names. Usually upon graduation---"
"From the Academy?" You'd mentioned that to her before. She seems to soak in information much like an unrelenting sponge. She also refuses to release it, so you're never left with even the vaguest hope that she might forget something embarrassing you've let slip.
"Yes. We chose a title. The Professor. The Doctor. The Master. The---"
"Some people like those sorts of titles."
She rubs her elbow and asks, quietly, "What's your real name, then?"
You don't answer. Eventually, she'll give up asking.
Muse: The Doctor (Ten)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count: 780