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Season 1, Episode 6
He leaned heavily upon the console, arms out-stretched, head down, eyes closed. Blood ran down his arm – not his own, but red and fresh. I shook my head in wonder at what the Ood had made possible, somehow allowing the strength of his mind to flow into old and weary muscles as he fought for them. The laughter on the Sycorax OverLord’s face when he had been challenged to mortal combat by an emaciated old man had turned to surprise and then dismay as he was driven, blow by blow, to his doom.
But I had seen him in the fire and smoke as he gave the orders that drove the armies of the Time War. I had seen the fire in his eyes as he commanded the destruction of the Dalek race and all the hideousness they stood for. He had leaned on me as we escaped the wrack and ruin of all we had called home. I was not surprised. I knew who he was.
“And now, at last,” the exultant thought arose in me, “so does he.” He was My Doctor once more! All the months of struggle and nightmare, of agonizing effort to restore his memory had finally paid off. In the moment of the Overlord’s fall, he had remembered!
As I looked upon him, though, I knew he did not just remember who he was. He opened his eyes and stared at the blood. And for a moment, vast depths of emptiness opened behind them and his face wrinkled with pain. He looked so very, very old – so tired. “It can’t be long…” an unguarded thought arose. “But, if it does happen, will he be ‘My Doctor’, anymore?” I thought. Even though regeneration was my own legacy and experience, it still caused me to tremble. Even in miracles, some things can be lost.
After a moment, he looked up and attempted to smile. “Well, Cora, I think I have neglected her for a very long time. Why don’t we look around and see if we can spruce her up a bit?”
I wanted to beg him to rest, to take time to recover his strength from the battle. But it wasn’t rest for the body he needed. He was unwounded, and there are things in a Time Lord’s body that repair it far more quickly than most races. It was his mind that needed rest…that needed a place to hide from the wave of grief and regret that had just flooded in on him. He needed work. He needed a distraction.
We set to work on The TARDIS, dusting off gauges, checking components, setting controls right. For a few hours, we talked of nothing but the workings of space-time mechanics and bio-circuitry. New life breathed into the TARDIS slowly, lovingly. When the time came to for a test flight I suggested “Why don’t I take the wheel for this one…? You were really never very good at this and I could use the refresher.” Normally, this would have elicited a huge argument over his prowess as a navigator but, to my surprise, he nodded his head, climbed down to the lower level and stretched out on the floor to sleep.
I had no intention of heading to a specific location—after what he had just been through anywhere but here had to be better. I spun the dial, pulled the lever and the familiar groan of the TARDIS began…