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A Constant Reminder

How long had it been? He never knew. He always had such a bad sense of time. This was one of those times he wished he didn't. He'd been thinking about you again recently. After Rose he . . . .

He started looking for you again. More than anything he needed to see you, see someone who would understand. Maybe he could gain a little comfort there. Still, you evaded him. Not by choice. He knew that much. He just wished there was an easier way to find you.

“Doctor?” Martha said from near the console. He looked up and gave her a quick smile. Right. She didn't need to see him mope like this.

“How about Earth? Your Earth, I mean,” he said and set about putting in his new coordinates with his usual energy. He noticed a fluctuation on the screen and aimed for it. So far you hadn't come up from them, but maybe this time he would get lucky.

“What? You mean there's more than one?” she asked surprised. He paused for half a second. Right. She didn't know yet. There were so many things he needed to show her. Who knew how much time he would have.

“Of course. Lots of them: New Earth, New New Earth, New New New New Earth. But that's for another day.”

The Tardis whirred to life. A minute later he made for the door. Martha followed and they made a nice trip around 1950s London. They didn't find any aliens. They didn't get attacked. Nothing even showed up in the newspaper. Everything was perfectly normal. The fluctuation was there for a reason, though. He was starting to think he did get lucky.

“What are you looking for?” Martha asked, seeing his glances over the area.

“An old friend,” he said distractedly. “Maybe you'll get to meet her. Not many do. She's hard to catch. I can't even find her half the time and I'm supposed to be good at this sort of thing.”

“Who is she?”

He didn't answer because he was already dashing full speed down the street. She called after him and he hoped she had enough sense to follow. He wasn't about to stop and miss his one chance to catch you. It was fortunate he happened to see you on the sidewalk before a cab pulled up to your side. He reached you before you stepped into the cab, grasping your shoulder to get your attention. You turned to look at him in confusion.

“She. Is a perfectly ordinary human being,” he said to Martha as soon as she caught up. He couldn't stop the grin on his face as he glanced at his new companion. “Why it's so hard to find her. She blends in everywhere she goes. Or every-when she goes.”

At that your eyes lit up in recognition. “Doctor? Wow. Sorry I didn't recognize you.”

“Perfectly alright. New body, new face,” he said.

You looked over his features for a moment. “Yes, I see. Well, I was just about to go home. Would you like to join me for tea?”

The Doctor glanced at Martha, who agreed, before they all piled into the waiting cab. You gave the cabbie your address and introduced yourself to Martha.

“You said 'every when',” Martha said to the Doctor, though her question was aimed at both of you. “What does that even mean?”

You smiled. “Perhaps we should wait until we get to the house before discussing anything important.”

It was then Martha seemed to notice the cabbie. So the rest of the ride was made in silence despite the fact that you and the Doctor exchanged glances several times.

They arrived at your small flat and sat at the table as you put a kettle on the stove. “I involuntarily jump through time,” you started to explain. “Every few years I fade out of one time period and into another, but I never know when I'll end up. That's why the Doctor and I have such a hard time finding each other.”

“That's amazing. How many times have you, you know, 'jumped'?” Martha asked.

“I don't know. It's been a very long time. I don't even remember what time I was born in or when I grew up.” You set out the tea for them and sat down. “I haven't aged since I reached adulthood but I've lived much longer than a normal human.”

“. . . So how old are you?” she ventured.

Your smile was bitter. “I don't know that either. It's hard to keep track of the years when you jump around so much, and since I don't know when I was born I can't tell how long it's been since then.”

You glanced at the Doctor. He was watching you with a frown but said nothing. He understood, though. That was why he kept trying to find you. That was why you needed him to come around.

“I can't die, either,” you offered. “It's happened before. I don't actually die, I just fade into another time. It's still painful though.”

You chatted with Martha for a bit longer. She told you about her time and her family, and you shared a few stories about living then too. The Doctor would jump in every so often. After darkness settled in you offered for them to stay the night. You gave Martha your room and she seemed to catch on that you wanted to talk with the Doctor in private.

He was sitting on the couch when you came back into the living area, staring somberly at the floor. He looked up but didn't smile or put on a face. He didn't have to.

“I don't know how you do it,” you said as you sat next to him.

“What?”

You nodded in Martha's direction. “Keep people around. I tried but it got too depressing.”

“It's not easy,” he admitted. “But it does keep me sane . . . for the most part.”

You laughed a little at that and he smiled in response. You leaned against his shoulder and closed your eyes. “It is good to see you again. It's a nice reminder that I'm not alone in this.”

He placed his hand on your knee. “I wish you could come with me.”

“We tried that, remember?”

“. . . I know.”

“Besides, it's about time again,” you said casually.

He looked at you, surprised. Of course. That's why he'd seen those fluctuations. “Then I feel more selfish than before,” he joked.

“Please don't. I need to see you, even if it's just once every hundred years.” You gripped his jacket tightly. “I get so tired. I can't do this anymore but I can't make it stop and it just cycles on. You understand it, don't you? You're the only one who knows what I mean.”

Yes, he did know. That was why he came to you. You were just like him: trapped in these vicious cycles just like him, forced to keep on just like him. Still he was cursed not to have you either. It always ended that way for him.

Without a word he leaned closer and touched his lips to yours. He could almost feel your loneliness seeping into him as he placed all of his own against your lips. Your fingers gripped his shoulders tightly, latching onto him as if he could keep you there. But he could already feel you starting to fade. He held onto you just as strong, willing you to stay.

“I'm sorry,” he said. There was nothing else he could say, nothing he could do as he looked into your tearing eyes.

You smiled as you tried not to cry. “See you later.”

He could only watch as you disappeared into another time. He knew he would see you again, even if it was after he regenerated again, but it would still be like this. It was always like this. You'd have a few days or a few weeks with him and then you'd be gone. This was by far the shortest time you had together. Maybe it was for the best. In the morning he still had Martha, and all the adventures and dangers waiting for them.

He returned to the Tardis knowing you were out there, traveling just as much, working just as hard, giving your all because there was nothing else you could do. You were right. Even if it was just once in a hundred years, seeing you was a bittersweet reminder that he wasn't alone. He held onto that little light as he smiled for Martha, as he traveled on to the next place that needed him. Time stops for no one.

Don't let me darken your door
That's not what I came here for
No it's not what I came here for

And I won't hear you cry when I'm gone
I won't know if I'm doing you wrong
I never know if I'm doing you wrong

A constant reminder of where I can find her
A light that might give up the way
Is all that I'm asking for
without her I'm lost
But my love, don't fade away

So I watched the world tear us apart
A stoic mind and a bleeding heart
You never see my bleeding heart

And your light's always shining on
And I've been traveling oh so long
I've been traveling oh so long

A constant reminder of where I can find her
A light that might give up the way
Is all that I'm asking for without her I'm lost
Oh my love don't fade away
Oh my love don't fade away

-Reminder; Mumford and Sons
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