[fic] Through the Gates of Shadowy Dream

Title: Through the Gates of Shadowy Dream
Author: joudama
Fandom: Doctor Who/The Sandman
Word Count: 1826
Characters: The Doctor, Dream
Summary: The Doctor is a dreamer as much as he inspires dreams, and dangerous because of it.
A/N: I just had this idea at work, and well... heh. Yeah. ^^;; It kind of meandered and then what it was hit me when I was researching. :D


He knew this place; he had loved it as a child.  It had been a long time since he had been here, but it was still vividly familiar in his mind, with its deep red grass and rocks of brown, red, purple, and gold. The mountains were still capped white with snow, but in this valley between, only sparce patches, poked through with red grass reaching up towards to suns, remained. The trees as well were showing signs of spring; tiny leaves of silver beginning to unfurl.

He stood, alone in the empty valley, and closed his eyes, feeling the spring wind blowing against his face and through his hair.

Home. He was home.

He could run up that hilly mountain pass, and halfway up the mountain, there would be a house; a house he had not seen since he was a small boy, before he had been brought before the Untempered Schism.

He was not alone. There was another man, one he was certain had not been there a moment ago, standing a ways away from him in the valley, and then knew the man had had always been there.

The man who had not been there yet had always been there approached him, white robes stark against the red of the grass, and gave him a faint smile. The light from the suns shone on the silvery leaves of the trees, and reflected from the emerald he wore at his chest.

The smile the man, pale as the silvery leaves, gave him was old and tired, yet also young, as if he were simultaneously an old man who had seen much and feels there is nothing new under the sun, and a child for whom everything is new and a delight. It was not an odd thing to see, not here, but the man still felt as if it had been a long, long time since he had.

He felt a sudden, strong connection to the strange man, and when the man asked, "Will you walk a while with me, Doctor?" in a soft voice of darkness and light, the Doctor nodded.

They walked in silence, along a path the man in white chose and that the Doctor had never seen yet was almost achingly familiar. They walked along the path in the red grass under the silver trees, until they came to a fork in the road.

At each fork, there was a vast arch, a gate, both ornately and delicately decorated with carvings. One gate was of transparent horn; the other of polished ivory. Both gleamed in the suns.

They were not of this place, not of this valley and not of Gallifrey, and yet-- "I have been here before," the Doctor said, and the pale man at his side nodded.

"When most die, my sister takes them to her realm. But not you. You, Doctor, she brings here."


The man smiled again. "Because you are one of mine."

"One of yours? Oh, I doubt that," the Doctor said with a faint smile, and the pale man leaned closer, to his ear, and whispered a single word.

A single name.

"Who are you?" the Doctor said, pulling away sharply, his entire demeanor changing.

"I am what I am, and this is my kingdom," the man said, and briefly laid a pale, slim hand on the emerald at his chest.

"Gallifrey? Are you saying that's your kingdom? That doesn't make any sense, what are you? Who? Are you a time lord, or something--?" he began, and the man shook his head.

"This is not your home, though it seems to be, and I am far older than your kind, even though I am still very young. And I have many names and many titles. And this is my realm, and you have been here before." The man gave him a sad smile. "This place is called the Dreaming, and you are one of mine. That is why I am here, why we are here," he said, his voice soft darkness and light, and the Doctor stared for a moment at the gates at the fork they stood before, one gate for each path of the road. He would have to chose a gate, pass through it, to continue. Transparent horn or polished ivory.

He felt a sudden shudder of fear, one he didn't understand, and knew that if he would have to chose a gate, horn or ivory, and that it was a choice that would change many things...would shape many things.

Would shape him.

The weight of the choice was so heavy and fraught that he felt he couldn't breathe, so he chose not to chose at all, not yet, and instead stood between them, planting his feet firmly.

The pale man in white with the emerald on his chest said nothing; only waited patiently.

It was the Doctor who broke the silence that had fallen. "You keep saying I'm 'one of yours'. What do you mean by that?"

"You are a dreamer," the man said, seeming content to wait for the Doctor to chose a gate from them to walk through, and willing to answer whatever questions he had. "But more than that, you influence the dreams of others. You shape the dreams of others by existing, Doctor, like a fairy tale or a horror story. Whispers of you echo through to my realm and become part of it. That makes you one of mine."

The Doctor stared at the man by his side. He was a pale man, his skin albino white, with fine, white-blond hair in a wild halo about his face, and his eyes...

That was when the Doctor saw. He wondered how he could have missed this; how he had not noticed. There was a dark blackness there, an endless, inky black that shaded his eyes, as if they were hidden in shadow. But was deeper that that; infinite with possibilities like the Untempered Schism of things that could be.

He opened his mouth, to shape a name he had heard once, and the man shook his head.

"I have no name that you would know, Doctor. Not anymore. I am only myself; my station, and I have no rights to names that came before I took the emerald. I am simply Dream, and you are both mine and my servant. And oh, little dreamer, how you do scare me so," the man said, and his voice was kind yet sad.  "You tread a dangerous path, last of the time lords, and not just the one that threatens aspects of my realm.  I...my predecessor...once tread the same path you are on, and that is why I am here before you go through a gate. In many ways you are an Idea almost like my siblings, a fairy tale man in his magic blue box, and I would not see that idea lost," the man finished.

"O dreamer," he said. "My brother has said that you have and that you will commit a grave offense against me, in your past yet in my realm's future, one you did not even know you had done." The man sounded sad, as if this pained him in a way beyond telling, beyond reckoning. "FOr what you have yet have yet to do, I would be within my rights to unmake you here, to protect my realm. But I find that I can not. You are…too familiar, and I would not see you end with so many dreams undone."  

Low in the Doctor's belly, a hard knot of shame and despair touched him, even though he knew not what it was for, or what he had done.

That seemed the way of it, he thought.  But he knew now what, in a manner, that he was dealing with.

"You're an Eternal, aren't you? Like Death. We used to think your lot were gods," the Doctor said, raising his chin in a small act of defiance, one he was not sure he fully felt.

The man smiled. "Close, in a way. Not Eternal but Endless. You could have been one of my brother's, had he not left his station. Or one of my sister's, for the weight she has given you to bear, that you bear even now. But no; you are mine, mine more than you have ever been any of theirs, and that is why I warn you.

"Make your choice, dreamer. Ivory or horn," the man said. "You must make a choice to awaken. You are one of mine, and you must pass through a gate to exit the realm of dreams. Ivory or horn, Doctor?"

"I really have been here before," the Doctor said, his back suddenly going straight as a strong sense of deja vu hit him. They were no longer in Gallifrey, for all the red grass and silver unfurling leaves seemed to be. This was...this was a somewhere else, a border between not waking and dreaming, but life and death - between death and regeneration. "And I've made this choice before."

The pale man with eyes like a Schism nodded once, but then shook his head. "You have, yet you have not. You as this aspect have never passed through these gates before, yet you as you are will pass through them again. Because you are one of mine, each of your previous incarnations has been here before, when my sister comes for them. Each time, your incarnation has chosen a gate to shape them to pass reborn into the world. It is time for you to choose yours. Horn or Ivory. But you must know, this is a choice you can not undo. Not until you are here again, in the form you take after you pass through the gates, when it is at it's end. Although I do not shape you, some part of you is shaped here now, dreamer, and you are more one of mine each time because of who you are, the fairytale man in a magical blue box. It is why, instead of passing back through my sister's realm, you pass through mine.

"It's time for you to return, Doctor," the man in white robes - robes with a pattern of white flowers embroidered at the hems and a gleaming emerald at his chest - said. "The waking world is waiting. Chose your gate."

Horn or ivory.

κέρας , ἐλέϕας
Kéras, eléphas.
Horn, ivory.

κραίνω, ἐλεϕαίρομαι
Kraínō, elephaíromai.
Fulfill, deceive.

Horn or ivory.

The Doctor took a deep breath, then smiled broadly. Horn or ivory; truthteller or trickster. "Time to wake up, then. Can't spend all this time just lying about dreaming. I have adventures to be on!" he said brightly, and didn't look back at the pale man, at the dream lord, as he passed through the gate he had chosen, through the gate that had chosen him, and regenerated once again into the waking world.