Persistence of Memory
An Eighth Doctor Story
"Needed? Wonder if it's anything to do with Alecia..."
Unable to stand the suspense, Chris blew out his cheeks, tossed his hair out of his hazel eyes, then left a note for Jayne on the transparent tabletop beside her.
"Alryssa, we make the offer once more. Genetic rehabilitation will, in the long run, be a less painful option."
Silence was the only response from the accused, as she sat, unmoving in the dock. Her eyes were fixed straight ahead, never wavering. After a short period of silence, the judge turned to the Doctor and waited for him to speak for her.
Holding up one hand to the judge, he walked slowly, purposefully, across the courtroom to his former pupil.
"Alryssa, please, listen to me - "
"It was an accident!" she blurted out, "I didn't mean for it to happen!"
"Tell them the truth. Why can't you do that?"
The Time Lord searched Alryssa's eyes with his penetrative blue gaze. She took him in, blond curls exploding from his head, cat brooch fastened to a pink lapel. Oh, she wished she could tell him, tell the court, tell everyone the real reason. She hadn't meant to kill Ridona, just give him enough mental static to make him think twice about what he had said he was going to do. He'd eavesdropped on her thoughts, and she had caught him. In a mixture of fear and anger, she had given him more than she'd intended. A stronger telepath than most, the Doctor had been her mentor for just half a term at the Academy before the incident.
It was to him she had come running in the middle of the night, banging his TARDIS doors in hysteria. The Doctor suspected there was something she wasn't telling her, but even so, had been defending her as best he could. He knew she was not capable of murder.
"Alryssa, accept it - "
"I'd rather die!" she spat, switching her glare to the judge. The Doctor sighed, his shoulders sagging.
"Alryssagevaluthatrevarian of the Arcalian Chapter, you are hereby sentenced by the High Council to - "
"She's just a child! She's no hardened criminal! If you sentence her to death - " he interjected, but failed to stop the judge delivering the verdict.
"You are hereby sentenced to a premature regeneration and exile on Earth - "
"For how long? How do you expect her to survive?" The Doctor cut in. "Ridiculous! Absolutely preposterous!"
"I will thank you to hold your tongue, Doctor, unless you wish to find yourself in contempt of court!"
He walked up to the bench, a slight swagger in his movement.
The Doctor made a last-ditch appeal to the defendant, his blue eyes flashing anger in the judge's direction.
"Alryssa, you must tell us what happened! There was a good reason for what you did, but if you don't tell us..." he trailed off, his hands emphasizing the unspoken words.
She wanted to, right there, but held back. Her vision blurred, as she shook her head.
As the guards took her to a holding cell, she glanced back over her shoulder at the Doctor. His mouth was set in a firm line, his expression grim. Alryssa allowed herself to be led away.
As she lay on the floor of the cell, staring blankly at the grey wall, she heard someone enter.
"Alryssa? You still have a chance. Tell me now, and we can get this whole mess sorted out. Are you listening to me? Hmm?"
She turned over, to come face to face with the Doctor's spats. He knelt down beside her as she sat up. All her instincts urged her to tell him, but she held back yet again.
"Believe me, Doctor, I wish I could. But it would only make things worse."
The Doctor's eyes widened with incredulity.
"Worse? Worse? My dear Alryssa, they plan to force a regeneration, suppress your Time Lord genes, and exile you to Earth with no memory of this place whatsoever! How much worse could it get?"
She had been about to respond when she felt the first spasm. She gasped, her muscles tensing. The Doctor realised what was happening. A guard entered, to escort the Time Lord out, but was greeted with a barrage of insults when he attempted to pull him away. It took two more guards to remove the Doctor from the cell, but he shouted and resisted constantly as they did so. He never saw her again.
"Alryssa, whatever you do, don't resist the regenerative process! Do you hear me?" Through a haze of pain, Alryssa managed a nod, before another spasm caused her to cry out.
Alecia sat bolt upright in her bed and screamed as she woke, a thin film of sweat across her skin. Her breathing, rapid, was shaky as she reorientated herself.
"It's all right, Alecia. Calm down."
A familiar, gentle voice accompanied a light grip on her hand. Looking to her right, she saw the Doctor standing next to her, the room dark save for a soft light which caught one side of his face, tracing his features. Alecia slowed her breathing, trying to keep her thoughts under control. He pushed back a few strands of hair calmly from her face with his free hand.
"You're remembering, Alecia. That's good. Your Time Lord genetic patterns were reactivated when the Rani injected you. All your memories should return in time."
"Supposing I don't want to remember them? Were all my memories of Earth implanted?" she asked him, wondering if he'd 'heard' any of her dreams.
"Most of them. The Time Lords were thorough. Unfortunately, they didn't count on me finding you, or the Rani doing what she did."
"So I would have lived a normal life on Earth, never knowing what had happened to me?"
"Most probably." He had caught some of her nightmare; that's what had alerted him to her distress, and was remembering the incident himself.
Cold fear gripped Alecia as the full impact of the 'dream' hit her. It was all going to be dredged up again!
"Doctor, I'm not sure I want to know..."
The pair were interrupted by a commotion outside the room. Chris burst in, followed closely by the two medtechs who had been outside making sure Alecia did not go wandering again.
"I should have known he would do something like this," the Doctor sighed, as the young man approached Alecia. She smiled a greeting.
"How are you? Doctor, why were you 'needed'?" he asked, anxiously, "Is there something wrong?"
"It's quite all right," he smiled, reassuringly, "Just a nightmare. Nothing serious. You know how it is when you're in hospital, strange surroundings and all. Haven't seen my jelly babies anywhere, have you? I'm certain they were in my pocket..."
As he talked to Chris, he herded him out, before he even realised what was happening.
"But, Doctor, I - " he tried to protest, but the Doctor ushered him out, winking conspiratorially in her direction before leaving Alecia alone again. She sank back into the pillows, and stared at the ceiling, almost too afraid to sleep. So. The life she thought she'd had was all fiction, invented by the Time Lords. Presumably only the most recent years on Earth were the 'real' ones. She tried to recall her earliest memory; but couldn't remember further back than from when she was about fourteen. Well, that proved it, more or less. Other memories were starting to return, her real ones, but not full moments; rather split seconds, instants, feelings, random thoughts. Alecia's mind reached out, tentatively, testing her regained telepathic skills.
*Alecia? You should be sleeping.* The Doctor's concern was echoed in his contact.
*I can't sleep. I'm too scared to remember. I don't want to! Why is this happening to me?*
*I wish I could say it will be easy for you, Alryssa - *
*Alecia.* She emphasized her dislike for her old name in reminding the Doctor.
*Alecia. I'm sorry. Don't be afraid. You're not alone. You never were.*
*How do you always know exactly what to say?* she frowned, pretending to be annoyed that he'd managed to calm her so easily. She sensed humour behind his reply.
*Practice. You're young yet. You have many regenerations and much to learn. Sleep now. I need to reprime the briode nebuliser again, and speak with the Lord President.*
He broke the contact, leaving Alecia comforted by his presence. It was the beginning of many such recall dreams, and a period of rediscovering herself. Not all of it was to her liking; but then not all of it was totally unhappy.