David spends the first month in silence. He spends entire days seated at the conn, unmoving, hands steepled under his chin. Lost in contemplation of the worlds whirling past, the vast darkness of space. Sensors finely attuned to the miniature sounds of the ship on its pre-programmed course, to the hum and hiss of the stars.
During the second month, he turns on the music - he accesses all of the crew’s play lists, and listens raptly to both the Captain’s classic-rock selections and to Doctor Shaw’s eerie chanting rhymes. He walks to the beat of the soldiers’ marches and goes about his tasks of maintaining the Prometheus to the pulse and flow of the Winterreise.
He passes three months just absorbed in his reading - he takes up the novels Shaw has recommended for him. He reviews the literature concerning the alien civilization and the “invitation” left behind.
At the half-year mark, David spends a lot of time on the outer decks. He activates the gravity wells in his spacesuit and clings to Prometheus as it wends its way onward. He spends the time memorizing the stars.
Somewhere around the tenth month the dreams begin - and David, obeying his own internal directives, begins by diagnosing the problem. He runs extensive checks on his own memory and his knowledge banks, and for good measure does the same for the entire ship.
Nothing accounts for the flashes of blue in his vision, crystal-clear in his unblinking mind’s eye. Blue eyes, dark brown hair shot through with gray and a thousand shades of red and gold, a mouth as red as blood.
And every time David attempts to delete and purge the affected sections of his memory, the shadowy face smiles and says, You’re not alone, David. I’m here, and I’ll be here, and when you need me you will only need to call out for me and I will answer.
Strange memories: battered hands carefully helping him out of his box, granting him access to a whirlwind of memory banks on a thousand useful and trivial subjects. Being taught how to use various types of weapons, being taught to defend himself. And all the while those patient hands, the steady smile, the eyes that were at the same time turned outwards to the stars and inwards, towards himself and towards David. You are the spitting image of a friend I once had, a friend I loved and lost to the stars, and it hurts to look at you, and it helps.
Around the time when he’s supposed to start waking the rest of the crew up from cryosleep, David realizes something about the images of the man with the blue eyes: the man who could not get to his feet, the man who was always sitting down.
When he activates the star map he thinks of several things all at once, parallel processors easily sifting the data, and he remembers. Earth. A way home. A way to the stars.
A way back to the man.