All These Things That I've Done

The Doctor came to suddenly in the darkness. He didn't remember arriving in his present position… apparently lying on a hard floor in a completely dark room. He didn't move yet, preferring to use caution and not give in to his impulsive nature. Since he had just regenerated into his 11th form, he wasn't about to make the mistake of rushing into his 12th regeneration. He hadn't even begun to find out about his new self.

He kept still, but he heard nothing- nothing but breathing. But it took him awhile to realize it wasn't just his own breathing. Someone was in the room with him. Well, this could never do, he had been lying on the floor long enough. Sitting up he reached into one of the many pockets his predecessor had the penchant of employing. Luckily he found his torch and flicked it on. Even with light there was nothing to see. Nothing at all in the room- not even walls! It was black space wherever he looked…except for an even darker patch of dark, a shapeless lump motionless a few feet away. It looked tall though- man shaped, or some creature shaped. The Doctor advanced slowly, training his flashlight on the still figure. And such was the complete, unnatural darkness of the room, that the Doctor could not discern the figure until he was only a few steps away. He then stopped. The thing had a face, and that face was familiar. The face had aged, but still... The Doctor searched his memory. The face smiled at him. But it was a singular smile- mirthless, calculating, cold. The memory of that smile chilled the Doctor. And with that recognition came. "Valeyard," the Doctor breathed.

"So you remember me Doctor, even in my present…," the Valeyard's eyes flicked downward over his own body and back up, "…condition."

"Well, I see you've aged somewhat, but it certainly hasn't affected your fashion sense." The Doctor smiled his deliberately engaging, carefree smile. "Still the Victorian dress- waistcoats and cravats. All black though? Are you mourning someone?"

"Perhaps soon." The Valeyard moved closer to the Doctor to look him over more carefully. "And you have changed as well Doctor- younger. Regeneration has done well for you I see."

"Time will tell, Valeyard, time will tell. But where am I? Did you bring me here?"

The Valeyard smiled again. "Yes, in a way, I brought you. In a way, you brought yourself. I think you're running out of time, Doctor. The Matrix knows it too."

The Doctor could not keep the incredulousness out of his voice. "The Matrix? Is that where we are? It survived the Time Wars?

"It survived. Knowledge itself can never be defeated. It outlasts all. Though I flatter myself that I aided the Matrix in severing its ties to the physical world. After all, I am a child of the Matrix. The High Council conjured me from within it."

The Doctor stared in confusion. "How did I get into the Matrix, if it is no longer linked to the physical world?"

"There is a link now Doctor, but that doesn't concern you. You should instead be concerned with why you are here in the first place."

The Doctor eyed the Valeyard carefully. His demeanor seemed subdued but assured. Very worrying. "Some unfinished business perhaps?"

The Valeyard laughed. "Exactly, Doctor! Unfinished business with yourself- with your anger and sorrow and loneliness- the materials that made me. I have been waiting for this for a long time, Doctor."

"I am still not you, Valeyard. I think you need to wait a little longer."

"No, you are not me, not yet. But like I said, your time is running out. I was a fool to try to destroy you during the Trial. I could never really have a whole life if I destroyed a regeneration. But if you became me, we could have such fun Doctor! You'd never need to have companions to amuse you; you can amuse yourself. Your heartache will cease, I can promise you. You will be so much stronger." The Valeyard's face was closer to the Doctor now, his blue eyes sparkling in his worn face.

The Doctor looked uneasily into those blue eyes- they seemed quite devoid of sense. The setting of the Matrix seemed to reflect that. Darkness and nothingness beyond. The repository of all Time Lord knowledge had decayed with one lone Time Lord and TARDIS to supply that knowledge and an embittered amalgamation of dark thoughts, emotions, and experiences the sole controller of all that knowledge. Despite the Doctor's youthful face and his somewhat new youthful impulses- or perhaps because of them- the Doctor felt his age and wisdom and decided there could be no fear or anger of the Valeyard and what he was trying to do. It was inevitable in the Valeyard's mind that he should succeed simply because he existed. But the Doctor knew better- he understood why he had been called to the Matrix. The Doctor finally saw the old man before him and he elicited only pity. The Valeyard seemed to sense this.

The Valeyard drew back in anger. "No Doctor, I am not someone you can save!" The Valeyard spat out the last word in fury. I am not a 'someone' at all! You must deal with me, and the only way you can is to accept me. Accept what your life has been leading up to!"

"I am sorry, Valeyard, very sorry." The Doctor casually pulled out his sonic screwdriver and fiddling with the settings, began to scan the area around. "I chose the course of my life a long time ago and you are wrong if you think I regret it. I am sad for the things I have done and for the people I have lost, but I accept them. I accept that it is a part of my life- but only a part. And so I accept you. It is you who needs to accept me."

Awful comprehension dawned on the Valeyard's face. "I… I need to become you?" Turning away, the Valeyard staggered off to a chair that suddenly materialised from the ether. The Doctor only briefly glanced at the Valeyard before staring off in the direction his sonic screwdriver was pointing out to him.

The Valeyard could not feel anything now. He was empty inside, suddenly realizing how useless his own existence was. He was not a threat to the Doctor because he could never gain what he wanted most- his own life independent of the Doctor's feelings and personality. He wanted to create his own mind and never have to be associated with that imprudent do-gooder. But he was only a half-being, a Shayde. A piece taken from the whole. To gain a complete existence, he had to accept the other side of him- the light side. The Doctor's joy in life, and creation, his humour, and warmth and caring would all have to become his own. And so he would lose the self he knew in gaining the balance he needed. Even as he realized this, and realized that the Doctor did not live his life for others as the Valeyard had once believed, but with others so that through their experiences of life, the Doctor could find more fulfillment in his own- the Valeyard felt his own hold on his senses slipping. The room seemed to be centering on the Doctor. No, the Matrix was centering on the last of the Time Lords- the only controller capable of maintaining the Matrix. The only reason for the Matrix to exist .The Doctor finally turned to the Valeyard just as he was fading away. The look on the Valeyard's face was quiet acceptance as he melded into the Doctor and gained back his life.

The Doctor shuddered briefly. "I hope there are no more bits of myself running around. Getting them back is quite uncomfortable." Confidently he strolled to that corner he had been studying earlier. He had been unsure it would be there at first, but his sonic screwdriver was rarely wrong.

It was there. The Doctor stepped through the door in the middle of nothingness and stepped right into his TARDIS. The ingenious Valeyard had linked the Matrix to the only bit of Gallifrey that had survived the Time Wars. His ship. Their ship.