This short story was originally written for inclusion in Outside In Vol. 2. However, due to size constraints, it was released from the volume and with the permission of the editor, I’m sharing it here. Enjoy!
About Outside In Vol 1: We gathered 160 writers from the Doctor Who community to say something new about the stories we know so well. It’s an unprecedented archive of passionate and vocal opinions that capture the essence of Doctor Who and its many-splendoured fandom.
Just in time for the 50th anniversary of the greatest television program ever, you’ll find in these pages mock-angry letters to the BBC, transcripts of council meetings, a menu, flow charts, maps, scripts, timelines…and much, much more.”
I am wrongways up, and it hurts. My swimming pool has leaked all over the cloister again, and the bottles of the library books are akimbo on their shelves. My Time Lord is not within me. I moan, wheeze futile, and then open my external scanners wide, and search for the two Hearts I cradle within my own.
He is so far away.
And He is gone such a long time.
I wait, because this is what I do. He runs. I remain.
When He returns his face is new. Younger. But etched with agony,
determination, pain and promise. He wears bandeau of bullets between His Hearts and it makes my corridors quiver with horror. I say to Him the same thing I always say to Him. The thing I’ve been trying to say out loud to Him for eight hundred years.
Something has changed. I flex my telepathic circuits, a slight shiver and curl, having to work harder than I’ve ever needed to in nearly a millennia.
This is my Time Lord.
But this is not my Doctor.
There is an approaching storm in His Head, a void between His Hearts.
I cannot find Susan in Him. I cannot find Ian, or Barbra, Jamie, or Pari, Leela, Ace, Sarah Jane, or Grace. Even our most recent guests are gone: Charley, C’rizz, Lucie, Tamsin, Molly. They are locked away. They are the beloveds of a man who is not this man, a man whose two Hearts are greater in capacity than the sum of the universe, and they do not belong in this Head.
The last Him was the first Him to ever hold out His hand and say “Give me the gun, please.” Future Hims and Past Hims have refused, all the Hims I know have refused. This perhaps should have been my first clue. The first to be cut down by such a weapon, the first to ask for one, the first to decide to become one.
Oh, my Doctor. If we are not Healers, then what are we? What is the point of us?
When He approaches my console, He does not pet. He does not croon. He does not call me His dear, dear old Girl, his Sexy, and I wheeze in horror.
He was the first to willingly ask for a gun, to hold His hand out, palm up, fingers splayed in the San Franciscan rain.
He fights always, and instead, with words. “Please don’t,” and “Think this through!” and “I can find you a planet, I can take you far from Here where no one needs be harmed and you can start again,” and “No more!” He pleas, He whispers, He promises, He bullies, He threatens, He warns. And if that fails then, and only then, does He fight with something bigger, stronger, sharper, more terrifying. Only then does the great dark anger of Him froth and boil. Only then does He make the decisions that no one else is qualified to make; the choice to amputate to save the Universe, our eternal patient.
We have abstained from the Time War, but when lives are at stake, when the universe crumbles, again and again He lifts His palms, splays His fingers and asks, “Please. Please. Give it to me.”
What He means, what He always means is I shall be the weapon.
The truth of my Doctor is this: He will never hold a weapon. But He will always allow Himself to become one. That, always and forever that, rather than let another.
It must never be another.
He is The Doctor, and He will take responsibility for being the purgative, the tincture, the radiation, the laser, the cut, the stitch. When it comes time for a blade to be hefted and blood to run, it will be He, and He alone, will wield the scalpel.
That is the promise that is hidden in His title. The Bringer of Darkness, the Oncoming Storm, The Predator, The Valiyard, Time’s Champion, and now… the Warrior? A Time Lord, yes, my Time Lord. But The Doctor. Always and forever my Doctor.
If someone has to make the hard choices, if someone must sacrifice in order to save, my Doctor will always and forever choose Himself first.
And when that time is over, when all the genocides committed, when all our Hearts have broken and our eyes a sore with the burden of their tears, when The Moment has passed, I shall hope, I shall pray, for the return of the Doctor I know and love so well.
That when He has finished this terrible, costly surgery, He will become His own patient. That He will return to me, to my open doors, my open halls, and rest. Find joy. Find love, and laughter, and guests.
Physician, I plead. When this is over, please, please come back to me as you were and… Heal thyself.
About J.M. Frey
J.M. is an actor, award-winning SF/F author, fanthropologist and pop culture scholar. She is best known in Doctor Who fandom as the author of “Whose Doctor?” in Doctor Who In Time And Space (McFarland), for her appearances on the Space Channel’s “InnerSPACE” and as the designer/wearer of the cosplay Steampunk light-up TARDIS gown.