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Survivors

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He's tired, tired of all the losses tired of all the killing, tired of being who he had become. He sat despairing. He was no longer the Doctor, he had lost the right to that name!

He threw himself down on the bed and as he fell in to a nightmare filled sleep the TARDIS kept watch and kept faith.

The room was dark as he awoke, he didn't know how long he had slept, but he did know he wasn't alone! His hand slid under the pillow and he felt for his sonic screwdriver, it wasn't there.

“Settle down old man,” an all too familiar voice said quietly, “your weapon is on the table at the side of your bed

In one fluid movement, the Doctor was sat on the edge of the bed, staring at the man sat next to the bed in the easy chair with his legs crossed and a look of friendly concern on his features!

“Alistair? Is that you or is this one of those images, the TARDIS keeps bringing forth to try and comfort me?”

An eyebrow rose, “Well as far as I know, old man, I'm real, but if I was a TARDIS created image, how would I know?”

The Doctor lent forward and pushed the man in the chest, he was solid enough and the material of his uniform felt right under his fingers.

“So I'm I real?” the Brigadier asked.

“I always said you were slow on the uptake!” the Doctor muttered.

Alistair quirked that oh so familiar, so comforting smile.

“When is this?” the Doctor asked.

“Can't blame you for not knowing this time, Doctor! The TARDIS seems to be held together by just string and willpower! I'm surprised you even could find your way back home!”

‘Home?’ he pondered this, yes, it had once been home, his home with a family of sorts around him. In fact hadn't everything he done been about protecting this part of the galaxy? He wasn't sure, he'd stopped asking those questions of himself, so long ago!

“To answer your question Doctor, your fourth self and Miss Smith left a few weeks ago. I missed you when you came back to sort out those robot replicas!”

So long ago! Life had been so simple then.

Wiping a hand down his face, he sighed, then looked across at his friend accusingly!

“So, no questions, Alistair! No wise cracking about me using my sonic screwdriver as a weapon!” the Doctor snapped at his friend.

The man in the chair shook his head!

“WHY NOT!” the man yelled.

Alistair raised an eyebrow. Lent forward and took a bottle and two glasses from the floor. He poured two fingers of the Amber liquid into each glass, before offering one to the Doctor!

The Doctor snatched it and glared at his friend.

“Why not?” he asked again this time in a hoarse whisper.

Alistair took a sip of his drink before looking at the Doctor’s face.

“I know when a man is suffering from Battle Fatigue Doctor! I've seen it in the faces of hundreds of young men! His voice lowered “Seen it all too often in my shaving mirror!”

He took a sip from his drink.

“They used to call it shell shock! Whatever you call it, Doctor, it's basically the same thing, a self loathing. A hatred of what you were forced to do, an inability to accept that you actually did it and a bottomless pit of guilt, because you survived and others didn't!”

The Doctor looked at him hard.

“But you don't know what I did!” the Doctor said hoarsely! “I committed Genocide!”

Alistair raised an eyebrow!

“I killed all my own people!”

“Why?” the Brigadier asked quietly.

“WHY!” The Doctor roared. “Is any reason enough to justify that!”

“Well you must have had a reason!”

“TO STOP THE TIME WAR,” he yelled, then in a softer tone added "to save the Universe!“

“So does what you saved out weigh the losses?”

The Doctor was up and leaning into the Brigadier's face!

“HOW COULD IT! “ he yelled into the man's face.

Alistair didn’t flinch, didn’t react. Once again the Doctor wondered if this was one of the TARDIS’s projections or maybe some phantom his fevered brain had conjured up!

“No, you're right, numbers don't come into it!” he gave the Doctor a sad smile.

“I would be classed a monster if I killed fifty people to save one person! But I have shot one person to save fifty and been proclaimed a hero!” he stopped and looked towards the floor. “I have led 200 young men into a battle that got them killed, to prevent my planet being destroyed and been given a medal! When I expressed my unfitness for any reward, I was told the ends justify the means!”

“And did you believe them when they said that?” the Doctor asked his voice just above a whisper.

“No Doctor! I still have nightmares about a lot of the things I have done in my life!”

The Doctor looked at him hard!

“How do you live with yourself?“ the Doctor asked desperately.

“You focus on the next problem, you try to keep everyone you are able to safe, you try to do good!”

Alistair looked intensely into the Doctor's face. “It's that or wallow in self pity and let it destroy you from within. And that is a crime, because if you do that then how many more people are you going to let die!”

The Doctor sat back down on the bed and sipped his drink looking at the man sat across from him!

“So you're saying what I did was right?”

“Not for me to say, Doctor, but I trust in you, I’m sure what you did you thought was for the best!”

The Doctor flinched!

The two old soldiers sat quietly with their drinks and their memories, in companionable silence. Each felt the guilt of the actions they had been forced to take over the years. But equally they knew these actions had been done for justifiable reasons! For good or bad they were soldiers, even if one of them was an unwilling soldier!