The Doctor suddenly noticed the glare that Charley was sending his way, and that she had become much quieter (a sure sign of a problem) since they started visiting this peaceful marketplace. He wondered how long she had stared at him with those angry eyes, but he was sure that the more he pondered it, the longer she would stay cross at him.
“Something wrong?” he asked with a smile. She seemed less than pleased that he remained cheery and upbeat despite the look she was giving him.
She cleared her throat. “I can’t believe you,” she began. “You didn’t even realize it.”
The Doctor was taken aback. What had he said or done now? And how had he not realized it? He might have gotten distracted in the last minutes or so, but surely he couldn’t have offended her in so little time.
“Realize…? Wait, are you upset because of the last planet I took you too? Now, Charley, I had no idea the natives would kidnap us and demand all of our personal possessions. I was sure the Fargoni people were peaceful, at least they were the last time I visited with Susan.”
She let out an angry sigh. “No, Doctor! That’s not it all. I can’t believe you,” she grumped at him. “As we were walking down this market, not ten minutes ago, you kept referring to me as Sam, not twice, but three times! I don’t know who Sam is, but you know that’s not my name.”
Bewildered, the Doctor cocked an eyebrow. “Did I? Sam? Well, I have no idea who that is or why I called you by that name.”
Charley’s expression seemed to darken. “Well, you did.”
“If I knew a Sam, well, I don’t remember her. At least I don’t recall…” he said, and he tapped a finger to his chin. He met Charley’s hurt eyes and then exhaled a heavy breath. “Look, Charley, I told you a little bit about my past…”
“A little… not everything,” Charley said.
“Well, yes, but at least what I remember in the immediate past, and to be quite honest, it isn’t much. I have difficulty with my memory,” he told her. “Now, I have had many companions over my lifetimes and well, some of them remind me of others…”
“You mean they blend into each other. Two or three past companions can seem like one,” Charley surmised.
“Well,” the Doctor began. “I’m not sure about that. It’s just that sometimes I lose myself in a moment and then some companions and situations seem similar. Now this companion in particular, Sam, I don’t recall even her face or anything, so it’s strange I would call you this.”
“Maybe… you forgot Sam because she was your companion once and you lost your memory of her. Did you say there was a portion of your life where you’d forgotten quite a lot?”
“Yes, I had some severe amnesia, as in years were gone,” the Doctor said. “I can thank the Master for that. You remember him?” Charley nodded, and he noticed her anger seemed to dissipate.
“What an awful thing,” Charley said, “To lose memories of people what were once important to you and all those adventures you had together.” Suddenly, she grabbed the arm of his frock coat, stopping him. He turned to her and looked into her troubled eyes. “Doctor, I hope nothing happens where you forget me. I mean, we’ve been through so much together.”
He smiled at her and she paused. She was holding so much back, and he wondered, maybe it was just as well. He reached his hand up and tucked a stray piece of blonde hair back behind her ear. His fingers idled for a moment on her cheek.
“I hope we don’t forget each other either,” he said softly, and he became slightly startled when she grabbed his hand and held it against her jaw tenderly.
“Don’t worry, Doctor, I won’t ever forget you,” she said, her voice a solid promise. He had no doubt that Charlotte Pollard would do anything to keep her word, especially for him.
His confounded memory, on the other hand, of her and anyone else he loved was unfortunately and unfairly, not as reliable - something, he wished, that wouldn’t always work against him.