Summary: Set pre-Rose, the newly minted Ninth Doctor awakes to discover something is wrong with his TARDIS. (1/?)
Everything hurt. That wasn’t supposed to happen. His eyes opened and he found himself staring straight up at the ceiling, which was obscured by smoke. The stench of things recently burnt or still burning surrounded him. He couldn’t breathe. There was a pressure on his chest squeezing down on him, keeping him pinned to the floor. He tried to get up but found his arms and legs refused to cooperate. So he remained flat on his back, utterly alone amidst the sights and smells or destruction. He closed his eyes for a moment.
It was the quietness that woke him up sometime later. Might have been a few seconds or several days. He didn’t know. But for the first time in what felt like forever, everything was quiet, both inside his TARDIS and inside his mind. Even when he was stranded on Earth he could feel the pull of the Time Lords in the furthest corner of his mind, a pull that got stronger anytime the Master came around. No, that can’t be right, he thought. They’re all just hiding, or giving me the silent treatment. That must be it. He cast his mind as far as he could go. He didn’t know where he was but he blindly barreled outward in a desperate attempt to reach somebody, anybody. Just a gentle tug to remind them he was still there. Yet no matter how many times he cast out, he didn’t get any response.
He was alone.
More time passed. Again he couldn’t tell how much. He noticed the stench of burning wasn’t as strong and the smoke had mostly cleared from the ceiling. Also he found he could move his head and neck. For the first time since he awoke, he was able to able survey the damage. His bookcases were gone. It wasn’t like there was a debris pile of books and broken shelves smoldering in the corner. They were just gone. He hoped his TARDIS had managed to save them and move them somewhere else. Sometimes she moved things around just to change things up but he always knew beforehand.
It was disorienting laying there and realizing the walls were gone. He tried to picture the console room as it was supposed to be but it was difficult. All that easily came to mind was the red leather chair he would read in during the long flights. Which was towering just beyond his head, battered and bruised but not broken. If he craned his head and looked beyond his chair, he could dimly make out some of the round bubbles that made up his walls in themes past.
Wait a minute, he never had those walls with that chair. He remembered oak paneling or some sort of silk wallpaper depending on her mood. In a panic he threw his head as far it could go in the opposite direction, looking beyond his feet. There were sections of walls that felt a lot closer than they should be and then there were gaps where he could see out into space. He was partially exposed but knew he was safe because of the air bubble. It was just the first time he could recall where the TARDIS had to deploy it inside herself.
Whatever was wrong with his ship, and there was no doubt that there was something very wrong, he hoped she could fix herself if he gave her enough time. But maybe he should see if he could set her down somewhere out of the way so they could fix themselves in peace.
A foot moved. Jerked is more like it. He could see the limb scrape across the floor. It didn’t feel like it was his. But its twin followed a second later and before he realized it he had flipped himself onto his stomach and pointed his body in the direction of the console. He slowly made his way forward, half crawling, half dragging himself. Everything screamed as his body scrapped across the metal grating, some type of floor he didn’t recognize. Only ten feet separated him from the console but it felt like it took forever. His strength was failing him; he didn’t think he’d make it. Finally he grabbed the base of the console.
Slowly he reached for the edge of the console and pulled himself up until he was standing before it. Panic filled his body and competed with the pain, for a moment overtaking it. Before him, the TARDIS controls swam and blurred. Something so intimately familiar was suddenly foreign and alien. Where to start? He was at a loss. He swayed, gripping the edge for strength. Finally he realized that whatever had happened to the walls had affected the console too.
At least he could still make out six panels, despite recognizing one from when he stole the TARDIS all those years ago. Through a process of elimination he worked out where to input the coordinates and without thinking typed out the second most familiar destination he knew.
There was a large jolt that knocked him back to the floor. A noise filled the room that was more of a groan than normal. He wasn’t the only one in pain. The TARDIS vibrated beneath him in protest. From where he lay he could see the unforgiving vortex spiral around them. He knew all about the mechanics of how his TARDIS was supposed to move through the vortex but this had to be the first time he saw what it looked like while he was traveling inside it. The more he watched the spiral engulf him the more he realized it was quiet hypnotic. He felt what little strength he had left flow out of him as he closed his eyes again.