Persistence of Memory
An Eighth Doctor Story
"Wow, this place is really depressing!" muttered Chris, as they were led into the President's office. Jayne murmured an agreement, her thoughts elsewhere. "You're worried, aren't you?" he noticed. She nodded, as the guards left them. The tapestries on the office walls depicted various scenes from Gallifreyan mythology, lending some colour to the otherwise stark room.
"I hope the Doctor's alright," she said, half to herself.
She thought back to the conversation in the hexagonal corridor, where she had noticed the change in Alecia's eyes, from a deep brown to a colour not too dissimilar to the Doctor's. Was that a trait of all Time Lords? All she did know was that her best friend had suddenly become a complete stranger... and an alien at that! Her best friend, acting more like the Doctor every moment. Could she ever treat her the same again? Look at her the same? She wasn't feeling too optimistic. She sat down on one of the high-backed chairs, thinking. Chris was inspecting the tapestries, admiring the workmanship.
"Fourteen thousand of your years old," came an authoritative female voice from behind the two, "And quite rare. Who are you?"
Jayne stood up, and faced the owner of the voice. Though not tall, she carried herself well, and possessed an air of dignity and experience. Her shoulder-length brown hair fell in soft waves about her face, giving a frame to delicately boned features. Deep brown eyes looked inquiringly at the two humans, eyes that had three regenerations of knowledge and wisdom behind them. Jayne found it difficult to keep her own eyes level. She realised how awful she must look, her dirty hair and clothes, and wished desperately for a shower.
"You arrived with the Doctor, did you not?"
Chris managed to speak for them both, as Jayne clasped her hands in front of her, worry for her friends plain to see.
"I am Chris Drenson; this is Jayne Wallace. Yes, we arrived with the Doctor. Will he be all right? And Alecia?"
The President crossed the room to them, her white robes flowing as she did so. Around her neck she wore the Sash of Rassilon, which showed her status as Lord President of the High Council of Time Lords.
"His condition is...stable. For the moment. Alecia is recovering."
"For the moment?" Jayne interjected, "What does that mean? He - "
"My dear child, no Time Lord has survived the removal and replacement of the symbiotic nuclei. It was tried many ages ago, and every time it failed."
"But it can't fail!" Jayne cried, her emotional barriers close to breaking, "It can't..."
She put a hand over her mouth and closed her eyes, trying to control herself. Chris put an arm round her shoulders.
"I can assure you we are doing everything in our power. Only time can tell whether he will live...or die."
The President turned to leave the room, but Chris called after her.
"Please - can you tell us when it will be all right for us to see Alecia and the Doctor?"
She gave the slightest of nods, then gave instructions to the guards outside the room to give the two quarters near the medical facility.
"I will inform you, when the time is right," she said, and exited the office.
After four long days, the Doctor decided he'd had enough of his comatose state and attempted to wake up. He vaguely recalled seeing medical technicians fussing over him as he lay, semi-conscious, in one of the operating theatres. He'd never cared much for hospitals, and detested being a patient. Slowly, the Doctor began to hear muffled sounds... voices? Mmm, maybe. He dared to open one eye, then the other, then blinked to adjust to the bright light above him. He raised a hand instinctively to block it, complaining. A medtech heard him and made his way across to the Doctor.
"Ah, civilisation. Be a good chap and turn that thing down a touch," he beamed persuasively at the medtech, who nodded and reached up to move the lightsource away. "Mmm. Better. You haven't by any chance seen a young lady round here... she's about five feet six... black hair, very curious...?"
The medtech shook his dark head. The Doctor sat up, ignoring the man's protests, and looked around for his 'proper' clothes. "Don't suppose you could fetch my things, mm?" He said this accompanied by a look that said, 'If you don't get them I will.' The medtech appeared distinctly uneasy, but left to get them anyway. Running his hands through his mussed curls, he inspected his surroundings, not without distaste.
"Doctor!" A whisper hissed at him.
He looked in the direction the voice had come from to see Alecia, in the medfacility's regulation pyjamas, sneaking through the door which had slid open to admit her. The Doctor regarded her with mock disapproval, secretly pleased to see her, if a little concerned that she was not resting.
"What are you doing out of bed?"
Alecia was incredulous. She put her hands on her hips.
"Oh, that's nice, I've been running round these sodding corridors trying to avoid being carted back to my bed and find you for ages, and then when I do find you, all you have to say is, 'What are you doing out of bed'. Charming. You're all right, then."
"Debatable I suppose. You?"
Alecia approached his bedside, and shrugged.
"Physically or mentally?"
"I'd offer you a jelly baby, but someone appears to have... removed... my things..." He looked about the room, a sterile white and green environment, broken up only by the brightly coloured chairs at the bedside and a few pieces of contemporary Gallifreyan artwork on the opposite wall. Alecia followed his gaze, briefly, then smiled knowingly to herself, and produced a slim metal cylinder from up her sleeve.
"Well, I haven't got your jelly babies, but I have got this."
She laid it on the bed next to him. His eyes lit up, as he plucked it from the covers.
"My sonic screwdriver! I thought the Rani had taken it." Suddenly an image of Alecia pickpocketing the Rani as she lay 'unconscious' entered his head.
The Doctor appeared startled, then looked straight at her. She grinned. He returned it. She was nothing if not a fast learner.
The labtech entered carrying the Doctor's things. He stopped when he saw Alecia and put the clothes down to shoo her back to her bed. She looked reproachfully at the Time Lord, who shook his head, and motioned for her to obey him. Giving him a last wave, she left the room, followed closely by the medtech.
Now, Doctor, he told himself, you get down to the real reason you're here. With effort, and a great deal of dizziness, he eased himself out of the bed.