"Do you ever think about him?"
The question rang in the Doctor's mind for several uncomfortable seconds. His hands still holding the book open, his eyes looked up to see his faithful companion looking at him. Clara was on the other side of the TARDIS console, while he was sat on the stairs, catching up on the most recent book to become 2346's most popular book to hit the shelves. Even in a digital age where information would be accessed via one large database, there would never be a replacement for books.
He shut the book slowly and stood up. Walking slowly to the console, he looked back at Clara. "Who? P.E?"
"He taught Maths, not P.E...but no. I don't mean Danny."
"Then who? There are lots of people. Robin Hood? Santa Claus? Maybe even the Master - although, should mention, as you know, he's a she now, so-"
"I mean...you know...you."
He simply stared at her. "What do you mean, me? Do you mean any one of my previous selves?"
"Yeah...one in particular."
Slowly, he began to understand. The hesitation in her voice...it indicated which one she meant. Her eyes slowly inflating - how she did that eluded him still - taught him better than to ask which one. He understood perfectly who she was talking about.
He ran his fingers through his curly grey hair and pondered. "I...I don't know. I tend not to think about my previous selves on a daily basis...especially that one."
"You told me he was the one life you always wanted to forget."
"Because, in my memory, he destroyed Gallifrey."
"But now you know better. Gallifrey's still out there, because of him."
The Doctor pulled a lever on the TARDIS console and pressed a few buttons to keep it from destabilising. "Yes...now I know..."
"So...surely your opinion of him has changed, right? I mean...he ended the Time War. Gallifrey won. All because of him."
"Well, not all him - it was a joint effort."
"Don't be pedantic...well? Has your opinion changed?"
The Doctor slowly turned away and recounted the events of the Time War. He remembered himself...standing on the front line. A War of ages had ravaged his face..made him old. Made him weary. Made him renounce the name Doctor.
"I did terrible things in the War...worse things than anyone should ever have to do...all in the name of the Time Lords...but in the end..."
He turned back to her, a grave look on his face. "In the end, there was a box. A button. A decision that would change my life forever. And I didn't take it. I thought I had but in reality...I didn't." He walked over to Clara, a small smile spreading on his face. "In the end...that man who felt so terrible...so guilty of what he had done, that he refused to call himself the Doctor...in the end, out of all my other selves...
"He was the Doctor more than any of us."
A short story I wrote a couple of years ago in tribute to John Hurt.
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