eloriekam: (Doctor (Ten) Ood by jordansavas)
[personal profile] eloriekam
My muse suddenly insisted I post this. I don't know why because the characters are Ten and Peri and even the author's note for this is TL;DR, but anyway... I guess my muse lost patience, I did finish this about ten weeks ago. If you are one of the five people ;) who wants to read these characters, please grab a tissue first.

Title: All That's Left of My World
Author: [personal profile] eloriekam/[livejournal.com profile] eloriekam
Rating: Teen
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Characters: Ten, Peri
Summary: He was callous in that tunnel because he didn't understand, and by the time he understood, he was too scarred to remember the conversation for long. When he recalls, he has to go apologize to her, because he was so very wrong.
Word Count: ~5150
(Long) Author's Notes: I got the idea for this story while watching the Trial of a Time Lord discs last summer, and also deciding that Six is a rather underrated Doctor although my first impression of him wasn't that great. Six and Peri have an exchange in "The Mysterious Planet" (quoted and italicized material in the fic) that, to me, just begged for a post-Time War Doctor to go back and apologize to her for, because he can understand it after. Then, of course, Ten wouldn't shut up, then the two of them wouldn't shut up, so it's a bit before they actually get to it. A significant amount of time has passed for Peri, so her character development is YMMV. Ten is plucked from sometime post-JE. The first nine paragraphs (inc. italics) are some internal narration of Eight, Nine, or that other bloke. Also, I have to admit I made myself cry writing some of the material toward the end, so you may or may not need a tissue handy.

"This cinder we're standing on is all that's left of my world. Everything I knew." -Peri, 'The Mysterious Planet'

He still wasn't sure exactly what had happened, quite how he'd lost her. Even after the Valeyard had been removed, the records reconstructed, he didn't know if he could trust them, really. And he'd been busy, truly busy, and not avoiding Peri at all.

Definitely not, no. He'd regenerated into a rather sarcastic body, then tried to strangle her. That couldn't possibly be a reason he was afraid to go and find her, even though they'd traveled together and found friendship later. It couldn't possibly be that he was still afraid he'd been lied to, that something had destroyed her on that last adventure.

Nor could it be that he'd mocked her feelings for her home world, down in a dark and destroyed tunnel, separated from the world she knew by billions of years. He hadn't thought about that conversation afterward, nor through his adventures with Mel and that rather awkward regeneration and then finding a young woman from twentieth century Perivale in outer space.

Oh, he might have thought about it a little, during a few small wars.

As he destroyed, and was destroyed down to his atoms and his sanity, that moment came back to him.

"I know how you feel." He didn't, couldn't then, not even after thwarting Omega and an invasion of Gallifrey and the Death Zone.

"Do you?"

"Of course I do. You've been traveling with me long enough to know that none of this really matters. Not to you. Your world is safe." She hadn't accepted that, because her home world was dear to her.

As the afterimages burned, as everything went, that exchange went through his mind and was consumed, not to be recalled again for years.

He thought of it again, as his mind drifted toward thoughts of destruction: the year five billion, the Dalek plans for earth in 200,000, Florence sabotaging the MRI, Pompeii, the revelation of UNIT's final solution in crisis. All of them marked by humans, their loyalty to the world of their birth, much as they couldn't quite figure out how to nurture it back. It didn't keep them from loving it, and perhaps they loved it a bit more because of that.

"This is still my world, whatever the period, and I care about it. And all you do is talk about it as though we're in a planetarium." He thought of the passion in her voice, the devastation and faint hint of tears. At the time, he thought he'd been understanding, sympathetic--he genuinely hated seeing her upset by that point in their travels together--but his brief lecture and easy distraction had undone that, and he suspected Peri hadn't been encouranged by his efforts in any case.

And all he'd done was tell her that nothing lasted forever, at the same time believing in his heart that his ancient world and race could outlast it all.

He didn't want to start his search based on what he'd seen during and after his trial, all that time ago, but where else could he start? It might give him a faint hint of her fate, if nothing else. If that truly failed, he was still a Time Lord, and he still had his TARDIS.

He was a little shocked to find her so quickly. The revised records had been right, then, at least in this regard. She had in fact married King Yrcanos of Thoros Alpha. He suspected the TARDIS had made the decision for him on where to discover her in her personal time stream, and rubbed the edge of the console as he read. Perpugilliam Brown, queen for twenty years (an exceptionally long time on a world with likely fluidly violent leadership changes), mother to princes and princesses, a warrior herself several times over, now healing, her interests put to creative and constructive use. He smiled faintly, but worried over the change, and thumped the screen, but the TARDIS declined to expand the information or provide him a photo. She might not be able to access it; he genuinely couldn't remember the technology level there, not that he trusted.

The TARDIS landed quietly, and he slipped along the hallways, unsure of his reception should he meet anyone other than Peri. Actually, he was even more unsure of how Peri would respond to him, but she at least might believe him when he said he was the Doctor. No one else here save King Yrcanos was likely to, and they might not known of him.

Those last adventures were memories he wished he had back in full.

He hid behind a curtain as a patrol of guards passed--hopefully not looking for him--and followed the trail the TARDIS had suggested on landing.

He hoped she wasn't in pain.

He hoped she didn't hate him.

He hoped she was alone right now.

He hoped she was happy.

Several minutes later, he pushed his way out from behind a heavy drape and closed the passageway, and looked around the room. High, narrow windows directed light onto a large table filled with leaves, stems, and berries. One wall had a bookshelf and racks of seeds, and the rest of the room was open space or workbenches set at various heights. Vines clung to all of the walls and drooped gently from the ceiling. This was no greenhouse, but he could smell dozens of species and knew some of their basic properties.

Her hair was pinned above her neck, a kerchief knotted over it, and her clothes were very much of this world, but the set of her shoulders and the way she studied the material in front of her were both still the same.

He took a step forward, and one of his trainers crunched loudly against something on the floor, releasing a scent that he vaguely recognized, and a compound he knew well. He wanted to laugh at the signal and trap, but Peri had spun from her workbench, looked at him, and withdrawn a weapon from a recess in a very fast, practiced movement.

Thoros Alpha, her marriage, her throne, her motherhood, her battles, even her healing, they had all worn at her, in every line and mark and wrinkle, every emotion flickering through her eyes.

She was still the same adventurous Peri, still beautiful but with a different glow driving it. He knew Peri had been considered beautiful in appearance, when she'd been traveling with him, but he looked at her deeper than skin.

All this went through his mind before she aimed the weapon. "What are you doing here?" He opened his mouth, but she continued. "Put your hands out to the sides. All the way! You've got an odd costume, I'll give you that, but whatever it is you broke in here for, it isn't yours." She stepped sideways as she spoke, positioned for a perfect shot and within easy reach of the door, then nodded a little when his arms were stretched out level with his shoulders. "Now back up."

He stepped backward, smelling the sedative as he stepped on the material again, and wondering if she planned to shoot him before it was supposed to take effect, or if she would call in some of the guards to take him away. His back hit the drape and his fingers brushed some leaves. The next thing he knew, the vines were tightly twined around his wrists, some of their comrades slipping down from above to ensnare his neck, a few near the floor encircling his ankles.

"Don't struggle," she warned him.

"I don't plan to," he answered. "And to answer your first question, I came to see you."

"You never learn," she said, irritation clear.

"I haven't come to take anything, honest."

"Oh, I don't think that will work on me."

"Peri," he said quietly, seeing this was leading nowhere good and deciding to try a different approach. Actually, perhaps he should have done that from the start, but it was too late now without creating a paradox, and no thank you.

She fired, the shot bouncing off stonework above his head. He winced, but remembered her warning and didn't try to duck away from it.

"Do not," she warned him sharply, "do that again. You respect mine, and I respect yours."

"You haven't called the guards yet."

"I don't need to call them while you're awake."

"The sedative won't work on me."

"That's even more ridiculous than what you're wearing."

"There are other species that look like humans, like the natives of Thoros Alpha."

That got her attention. "What did you just say?"

"You're a human from the twentieth century on Earth," he told her levelly. Her hand tightened on the weapon, and oh, she was still Peri, but the last twenty years had changed her... not that she'd ever really had an overwhelming amount of patience for what she considered his nonsense. "Please, two minutes?"


"I'm the Doctor, and you're Peri."

"What?" She looked truly startled. "You're... no."

"You know about regeneration."

"Where's the TARDIS?"

"A bit of a walk, I'm afraid. Peri, please, it's me. Let me prove it to you."

She glanced briefly at something he suspected was the local version of a watch, then stepped toward him and gestured with her weapon. He spoke quickly in response.

"When we first met I wore a cricketing outfit and a stick of celery and looked young. When we parted I looked older, wore a coat with a cat pin, and had curly hair. I regenerated when we got spectrox toxemia poisoning, after I carried you back to the TARDIS and gave you the milk, the one dose of the cure. After I regenerated, you said 'I' a few times in a row and I told you that you were being egotistical, and that's longer than one minute now."

"Do you want me to shoot you?"

"Not especially. I mean, if you did shoot me, I'd regenerate, and I don't think anyone else on this planet can do that, so that might help prove it's really me, but I'd quite prefer it if you didn't."

"Hold still." She walked toward him.

"You already told me not to struggle."

"You're almost annoying enough to be him."

"The vines and the plant-borne sedative are really quite clever."

"Thank you for reminding me that you should have passed out by now."

"Sorry. Time Lord, can't help processing it."

"Oh, shut up," she muttered, and he had to struggle not to burst out laughing as she stepped right up to him, walking where he'd already crushed part of her trap. Keeping her weapon aimed at his jaw, she tugged his outer layers aside briefly and placed her hand on his chest, then moved it to the other side. After a long moment, she gave him a thoughtful look, then reached into one of his pockets, shoving her hand down firmly, further than it looked like she could.

Slowly, she extracted her hand, then backed up, never taking her eyes off his, and placed her weapon on the closest surface.

"I want you to swear to me that no one who means us harm has followed you." There was hope in her eyes, and a hint of happiness, and some fear, and more than a little guilt.

"I landed in the building, and I didn't see anyone suspicious or get any strange signals. I swear, Peri." She shoved the weapon away slightly, and he sighed and slumped a little in relief.

"Doctor," she said finally, smiling, but still with a sad, guilty look.

"Hello, Peri."

"Why are you here?" She looked at him more intently again, then tilted her head. "Actually, another question: how long has it been for you?"

"Much longer than for you, to answer your second question. Four regenerations, and a lot of years. I can't remember all of them, actually. And your first question... I came to apologize." He took a breath and let it out, a little nervous, and not just because of the strong strand pressing against his neck.

"For leaving?"

"I... don't actually remember, Peri. I don't remember how we separated, and I'm sorry for that too. I, uh, erm, I hope you've been happy, Peri?" He fidgeted a little, and winced.

"Oh. It was... strange, and more strange, but I got used to it. Why can't you remember?"

"I got put on trial by an older, evil version of myself in the middle of it all, and he corrupted my memories of it and the records on Gallifrey."

"You would have saved us so much time if you'd said that to start with. It's too insane for anyone here to suggest, or believe."

"But you would have believed me?"

"Like I said, too insane. And... if you can't remember, well, it's been a long time now, even if it's been more time for you. If you're there long enough, I'll tell you, but I don't blame you now."

"I'm sorry that you did at first." He sighed and closed his eyes. "Peri, would you mind terribly getting me free from these vines? They're getting a little uncomfortable."

Regret flashed across her face. "I... can't," she admitted.

"Peri, every vine species has something they respond to that causes them to loosen their grip, no matter what planet or time zone and whether or not they're carnivores, and I hope this isn't a carnivorous species?"

"We have them, but no, they're not carnivorous. They're..." she hesitated. "They've been used for decades in the field to lay traps or ambushes near battle and restrain dangerous prisoners, but they're not used to exchange hostages or for promises."

"Oh," he said when she hesitated again.

"This is a slightly more responsive hybrid, based on some genetic differences among families here. It's the only colony... I'm a little surprised you didn't trigger it on the way in, actually, because it extends through the passageways."

"That explains the light," he murmured. "Peri, my sonic screwdriver is in my left inner jacket pocket. Could you get it out, please?"

"I don't think what you're thinking is a good idea," she warned, but plucked it out anyway.

"Did you expose them to sound waves?" he asked when she held the sonic in front of him.


"All right, then." He squinted a bit and hummed a low note, then a high one. "Hrm. Do you see how to change the settings?"

"Yes." She looked at the slender tool in her fingers, so different, and thought about the past for a moment.

"Spin the upper two turns and four ticks, then the lower one turn the opposite way and two."

"All right."

"Aim it at my right hand and activate it."

"Are you left-handed or ambidextrous in this body?"

"I'm a bit right-handed, but I've already lost this hand, well, twice, actually, if I think about it, so I'm sort of hoping it'll be a bit lucky."

"You have your right hand."

"Peri, please try it."

"Okay." She shook her head, and activated the sonic. The Doctor gasped, a harsh sort of sound she'd heard many times in the last two decades, and she quickly turned it off. "Are you hurt?"

"It just tightened, that's all." He sighed. She could see he was trying to hide most of the pain. "Peri, I don't want to make things any worse for you. I don't."

"I really thought you were here to-" she started. He made a shushing sound.

"How quickly do they respond?"

"Within about fifteen or twenty minutes, usually. I looked at the delay, but changing it is still experimental."

"What's the longest they've ever taken, and do they respond to temperature?"

"Over an hour, and yes, it only took them about five minutes on some people who had become hypothermic." She squeezed her eyes shut.

"I'm so sorry, Peri."

"At least we found them." She glanced at the table. "Do I need to--"

"No," he said quickly and very forcefully. "No, please don't. I can do it on my own, and I don't want you to, if it doesn't work..." He can do this, and he doesn't want any further burden on her. He got himself into this, and he can't ask Peri to destroy something unique on his behalf.

"I'm already feeling guilty."

"That's not a reason to do something to make it worse," he retorted. "Now, I should be freed in less than ten minutes if this works, but if I could wake up not shackled or in a cell, that would be very helpful."

"I won't let them move you away from me," she promised. "Besides, you still need to tell me why you came all the way here to apologize to me."

"Quite true," he agreed, and smiled a little. "No point in waiting. Good night, Peri."

"See you soon," she whispered. He closed his eyes, and a moment later she could see him starting to go limp, the vines tightening in response, but not very quickly.

Within a minute he was completely still. She reached up and touched his cheek, which was chilled, then felt for his heartsbeat.

Nothing. She stepped back and waited, wondering why he was here. To apologize, but what for? He didn't remember one thing, and he'd apologized several times about after he regenerated. She looked at the strands around his neck, and wondered if this was some bizarre, late justice. His face was relaxed now, but still tired.

So very different, and yet just as annoying and brilliant and occasionally oblivious as he had been before.

Five minutes later, the vines unwind from his ankles, then his wrists. A minute after, the coils around his neck loosen and then relinquish their hold, and he falls forward to the ground gracelessly. She interrupts his fall with one cautious knee, a little worried there might be a persistent vine keeping hold, but he's free, and she begins dragging him across the floor.

She hasn't made it too far when three guards come in. The immediately draw their weapons.

"No," she warned firmly. "He's a friend." They look briefly uncertain, but a couple of minutes later the Doctor is wrapped up in blankets on some cushions. His ankles are unbruised, but he has some scrapes from falling, and bruises and some small cuts from where the vines twined around him. She wrapped his wrists, then moved to his head and neck, checking for a heartbeat. When ten minutes have passed since he stilled back in one of her workrooms, she shook him gently.

"Doctor, come on. Please wake up." She cupped his jaw and then felt along his neck. Still nothing, and his cuts weren't really bleeding properly, either. She put some gauze on the scratches on his face, then over the cuts where the vines dug into his neck after he knocked himself out.

Three minutes later, he jerks awake as though shocked, immediately struggling against the blankets and trying to twist away from where she's pressing cloth over his cuts. "No, don't, don't!"

"Doctor!" She pressed harder where he's suddenly started bleeding. "It's just me. It's all right." She smiled. "It's good to see you."

He took a few cautious deep breaths. "Hello. It's good to see you, Peri." His eyes flickered downward. "Vine-free, then, but not entirely unscathed?"

"They're not too bad as long as you hold still." He remains motionless as she bandages them over, though she suspects it's mostly because he doesn't have the energy to move. "You've looked better."


"Were you properly dead?"

He let out a long sigh. "Not quite. But it would have been hard to tell the difference. Thank you for keeping me safe while I was gone."

"Well, I'm still waiting for an answer to my question." She smiled at him, then picked up the dirty gauze and other items. "Do you want anything to eat or drink?"

"Erm, I don't suppose you've got tea on Thoros Alpha?"

She turned and smiled at him. "Close enough," she replied, then stepped partway out of the room for a moment.

"You have a lot of grace now," he commented after she returned to his side.

Peri raised both eyebrows. "I am a queen."

"So you are," he smiled, then coughed a bit. "Ow."

"Shush until they come back with something to drink." She laid a finger over his lips when he looked like he was about to protest, then moved it to lay against his cheek. They sat like that until a guard came in with a tray, leaving it with a bow and a set of hand gestures.

After he drank a cup of the hot liquid and nibbled on some food, the Doctor raised an eyebrow with a querying expression. "Oh, very well," Peri conceded with a teasing tone, then sobered. "Doctor, why did you come here, and to apologize for what?"

"Do you remember that planet, the one we figured out, or I figured out, was a future version of Earth?" He's suddenly glad that he's too tired to dance around the subject.

There is a long pause as Peri stares at him in puzzlement and concentration, occasionally taking a sip from her own cup. Her expression changes a few times, and then some of the confusion dissolves. "Ravolox. It was mostly destroyed, wasn't it? There were a lot of forests, but they were quiet. Almost no life left?"

"Yes." He sighed, and looked away, unable to meet her yes for a moment. "You were so upset, and I was so distracted by the puzzle, and I told you it didn't matter. And I was so, so wrong, Peri. I'm sorry."

"Why?" she asked after a couple of minutes, as the Doctor started to look truly uncomfortable. At her question, a confused look crossed his face. "Why did you change your mind? Or did you?"

"I... you called it a cinder, and it devastated you to see your world have that fate, Peri. And I told you the universe changed, it would always change. I thought my world never would." He closed his eyes, feeling the tears well up, and not wanting her to see, still a coward even when he's trying to say sorry.

"Gallifrey changed?" She set the cup to one side, and excavated one of his hands from under the blankets to hold it.

"It changed, yes. And now it's gone." His last word is a sob, high and strained.

"What happened? How could that happen?"

"War." Their eyes lock, and he sees his own painful memories reflected back at him, on a smaller scale, but deeply shocking and personal, not so worn and calloused to even consider thinking of casualties in the abstract.

"It always seemed so... untouchable," Peri answered after a pause.

"We used to think it was."

"Was it the Daleks?" she asked, trying to think of the enemy with the most advanced, aggressive technology.

"Yeah." He huffed out a sound between a laugh and a sob. "We destroyed ourselves trying to save Gallifrey, and we killed so many worlds along the way, and worse, because both sides could travel in time. Before, we were corrupt, but the Time War... it made it a thousand times worse. And it didn't do any good, because they reached Gallifrey, and breached the Citadel, and I was the only one who could end it, but not before I'd seen my world scorched and destroyed like you'd seen yours. And just before I lost everything, I finally understood why you couldn't stay objective, why you were so upset. Then, I lost that too, and I wasn't quite myself for a while. Some of my later companions had the same kind of response to even the idea of their world being devastated like you saw it. And... I had to find you and come here. To tell you how sorry I am that I was so casual about your love for your world, and your desire to always see it whole and with all the people and animals and plants and everything else that makes Earth so brilliant." He gripped her hand tighter. "Perpugilliam Brown, I am so, so sorry for what I said."

"Oh, Doctor." She squeezed back. "You were right, that as time travelers we see things change, on a scale or in a way that people anchored to one time never do. You saw the big picture then, and I think you still do. I had to see the little picture, that we were standing on a terrible future for my world and everyone was gone. Sometimes I think that seeing Earth that way has helped me deal with some of the battles here, prepared me for it. But sometimes when I close my eyes at night and think of Earth, I see it that way, instead of the Earth I grew up on. I'm sorry you saw your planet like that." After a good look at his eyes, she added, "And that you still see it that way."

"I do," he whispered. "All the time, if I let myself think of it, or in nightmares. When I'm gone, there will be no memories of Gallifrey, only legends, because it's all ended, they're all ended."

"Are you really here to apologize to me," she asked carefully, "or are you here to apologize to me because you can't apologize to any of them?" He met her gaze briefly with a broken look, then turned his face away and took several deep, shuddering breaths.

"The Master survived as a human. He... well, he was the Master. I tried to tell him, tried to apologize...." He didn't want to tell her what had happened to Earth, during that year.

She smiled sympathetically, even though he had avoided the question. "The Master may not have been the best example of the Time Lords."

A snort. "No. He made me look well-behaved."

"I dread to think," she answered in a prim tone. He stared at her for a second, then laughed a little. "So, back to my question: who are you here for, Doctor?"

"You, Peri. I thought I was being kind, but I... belittled your feelings, your loyalty to your home world, told you it was all normal, that you couldn't or shouldn't get upset over seeing what had become of Earth, the reality of time and the universe passing, all the while arrogantly believing my world was somehow exempt from that. I wronged you and your emotions and feelings so much, Peri." He took a deep breath. "I wanted to apologize, and tell you I understood now, though I'm sure I've done several things equally as insulting since then..."

"Shh." She leaned forward. "I've lived more now, Doctor. It hurt, but I told you the truth when I said that it helped me, living here. I think you're looking for forgiveness for what you did to your world, or your inability to save it, and I can't give you that, and I accept that the Time War wounded you so much it can't help but drive your actions. All battle-scarred soldiers are alike, on one level or another, no matter where the scars are." She stroked his smooth cheek with one hand, touching a finger lightly near the small wounds he had picked up today that would soon vanish. He stared at her, and a tear, then another, tracked down under her weathered fingers. "Whatever wrong you did in that tunnel, you also did something right. And I accept your apology, and whatever scar you've borne thinking of this, the pain you're letting fester because of traveling companions after me and what you've seen and said, I want you to let go of it. I know one isn't supposed to put conditions on accepting apologies and granting forgiveness, but I'm a queen and I can make it a decree that you do so or my guards will chase you, and they won't care that you're a Time Lord." He laughed briefly, tears still trickling under her fingers, and squeezed her other hand again. "Do you understand, Doctor? I don't know exactly why you thought of this when it's probably been hundreds of years for you, but whatever memory and reaction, whatever group of experiences, is biting away at you now, let go of it, and I forgive you."

"Thank you," he whispered, voice breaking, gripping her hand as though his existence depended on it, and huffing out sobs. She waited quietly until his breathing had steadied.

"I think we have happier stories to tell each other, you and I, Doctor, and you're tired. Being tired is absolutely acceptable after your day, so here's what you're going to do." He looked at her, and seemed torn between smirking and crying again. "Hey, guards, remember. I think you should sleep, if you can, because your body clearly needs it, and your mind can't admit what's good for it." He opened his mouth. "I'll stay here and make sure nothing happens to you." He closed his mouth and rubbed his thumb across her hand. "Then, you are officially invited to dinner, something from which I'm afraid you have no polite escape. I think Yrcanos would like to hear about some of your adventures," she suggested with a smile. He made a bit of a face, then gave her a small, genuine smile back. "Then, some of those happier stories, and at that point I think you'll be ready to run off, and I'll let you, as long as you remember and do what I told you."

"That sounds good," he agreed in a husky whisper. "Brilliant, Peri. Thank you so much. You are majestic."

"You're welcome." She stroked his face once more, then squeezed his hand and let go of it. "You can relax, Doctor. I'll be right here, whether or not you have nightmares."

"Thank you," he whispered, relaxing under the blankets. She leaned forward and kissed him gently on the forehead, then sat, watching him until he fell asleep.

She's been on this world long enough to know her conditions are impossible, but she also knows him, and those other scarred veterans, well enough to know he will try to forgive himself. He won't ask her to come see the TARDIS, to travel with him again, and he won't offer to interfere in their wars, but he will try to heal over this mark on himself, and he will forgive as she has. When the youngest children come in, later, she'll tell them of an arrogant, gentle, brilliant, conflicted man full of curiosity who always struggled to balance the dealing of justice with his powers, his ability to explore with his knowledge some things could only be seen, his desire to make things better with his ever-growing awareness that so much came to war sooner or later.

For now, though, Peri watched the Doctor sleep, and contemplated the balance of the universe changing, and the balance of absolution as his face became more peaceful.



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