Disclaimer- I own nothing you recognise and everything you don't.
Summary- Nine and Ten finally have their show down.
A/n- Sequel to the Darkness Within. With thanks to all who reviewed and my beta reader Gargantua.
WARNING- This was written last season while I was watching Journey's End and beyond. Anyone who is a big fan of Ten should proably be aware that the next few chapters are not going to be very nice to him. Serves him right for leaving her on the beach....again.
This is quite long but I couldn't find anywhere to slice it down.
Rose held onto her temper and fear as Owen Harper ran his tools over the comatose Doctor and made not-very-reassuring humming noises over the various beeps and bleeps that the metal box emitted.
He finally stepped back looking puzzled. “Well aside from being in as near to a coma as he can be, he seems to be in perfect health. No radiation emissions, no diseases, no faulty blood work…assuming that his DNA runs on similar lines to old Handy Andy here,” Owen gestured to the bubbling fingers locked away in the jar. “The only thing remotely off is the neurological readings and, for a Time Lord, I have no idea if these are normal readings or not.”
“I’d say not.”
They all looked up as Toshiko appeared at the top of the stairs holding a sheaf of read-outs, her high heels clicking on the stone walkway. “I think you need to see this.”
They all clustered around her work station, Rose elbowing her way to the front, not even apologising to Owen for batting him in the ribs.
“I took the neural readings that Owen took from the Doctor and placed them into my computer matrix program. It dissects the differential outputs from the electrical impulses in the brain; reads the synapses and gauges levels of activity.”
“And?” Jack tried to hurry her.
“Brain activity over the past few minutes has increased by about 100% and not just that, his telepathic field is on constant flux—”
Jack shook his head. “No big—”
“—with itself!” Tosh finished, talking over Jack. “See here, there are two different layers of telepathic activity going on. Separate layers.”
“Which means what?” Gwen asked, bewildered by the techno-jargon.
“Which means,” Owen said wryly, “that the Doctor has someone else in his head.”
“The Mara?” Rose’s hand went to her mouth in dread. “It’s still in him?”
“No,” Tosh disagreed, bringing up another screen. “Look at the algorithms and the base wave level of the telepathic wave. It has too many analogous formations for it to be an external influence. I think what were looking at here is some kind of dual interdependent co-existing constructions which have come into conflict.”
There was a moment of silence.
“Can we have that in dummy tea-boy speak?” Ianto piped up from the back.
“The brain patterns are so similar that it appears to be different aspects of the same persona,” Tosh explained.
There was another moment of silence.
“I’ll go and make tea,” Ianto sighed and shuffled away.
“Wait, wait. You’re saying that the two wave patterns are so alike that it’s what…split personality?” Owen replied scathingly.
Tosh flushed under his look but Rose was staring at the wavy lines thoughtfully.
Jack touched her arm. “Rose?”
“He’s been so different,” Rose said quietly. “But so…the same. He wears the old style clothes. The clothes that the old him used to wear. He talks like he used to. He says ‘fantastic’. How can he be two men? Jack?”
But Jack had no answers for her.
Rose turned to Tosh, taking a deep breath and taking the lead. “So what does all this mean, then? How can we get him back?”
“The separate waves need to be isolated and amalgamated or one needs to be eradicated. The brain, even a Time Lord brain, isn’t equipped to function with two conflicting wave patterns. They keep trying to cancel each other out. If we can somehow disconnect the two from each other it might be possible to bring him to consciousness.”
“But which one?” Owen pointed out. “Which wave is the proper base wave?”
“Both and neither.” Tosh sighed staring at them. “One isn’t right and one wrong. They are both his brain waves. Take your pick really.”
Rose walked over to the banister overlooking the sleeping Doctor who was looking paler and less serene than when they left only moments ago. “How can we separate them?”
“With a telepathic field disruption,” Jack said. “The only way I know to stop it is to share that telepathy. Go into the mind of the person who’s in trouble and try to change it in there.”
“Whoa, wait,” Gwen gave a nervous laugh. “Is that even possible, Jack? To go into someone else’s mind—like dream-walking?”
“Yes,” Tosh seemed surprised that Gwen seemed to doubt it. “We have used a linkage system several times with alien possessions. It was necessary to infiltrate the mind to distinguish the real from the invading host. Standard really.”
“So, one of us has to go deep sea diving in El Doctor’s head looking for buried personalities?” Owen summed up neatly.
“In a nutshell.” Tosh shrugged.
“But it’s no picnic,” Jack warned. “You see the best and worst that a person is; all their memories, all their neuroses. All the things you never needed to know about the people you know. And sometimes people are darker than they appear.” He seemed to know this from experience, his voice dark and eyes darker.
Rose didn’t take her eyes off the Doctor and spoke almost in a whisper but every single one of them heard her firm answer. “I’ll do it.”
Tosh looked at Jack for confirmation and then, at his nod, back to Rose. “Let’s get you hooked up then.”
Back inside the mind of the Doctor the two men stared each other down, malice and defiant hatred in each face.
The ninth Doctor had gotten to his feet after his pin-striped counterpart had thrown him to the floor and he stood now, tall and angry. He brushed off his leather jacket and gathered his energy. He would have to play this carefully; he was well aware that his reserves were low due to constant draining from his mental efforts at keeping his prisoner secure.
If it came down to a battle between them both of physical force he wasn’t sure who would come out the victor. But…
A slow easy smile slid over his features as he planned his assault.
The man opposite grew uneasy, wondering if he hadn’t set his own downfall in motion with the first strike. But no. This was not just for his body, not just for the right to take over his own life; but it was for Rose.
“Right, interesting fact,” the man in leather said brightly, “Sartre—lovely man, a bit mad of course— said that hell was eternity with your friends. Of course, his mates were French so that explains that. Ge’k-in said that hell was other people. I disagree.”
“Hell is most definitely yourself. Or you, more to the point. Cuz you know, there’s nothing worse than what you can put yourself through.” He grinned. “Like this!”
With a quick push of his hands a burst of air beat into the pin-striped Doctor with the force of a freight train and he sailed back, falling, falling and smacking his head on the stone floor.
He looked up at the wall lamps and the flickering torches on either side of the huge wooden door he had fallen against. From behind the door he could hear growls and screams. People were in there with some sort of monster.
He glanced up but there was no sign of the other man, the one who had thrown him here.
The Doctor got to his feet and looked around, his mind absently noting that he recognized all of this. He had been here before.
The long stone corridor was drafty and the icy wind that swept through the halls made him think of cold castles and windy moors.
His mind raced, trying to locate himself, to give himself an advantage of knowledge but, before he could figure out where he was, there was another scream from behind the door.
A familiar scream
It was Rose.
Rose was in danger.
He lunged against the wood but the medieval craftsman had made the door well. Solid oak withstood his pummelling fists and muffled his cries. He rattled the black metallic latch and yelled in frustration.
As if by rote, his hand grabbed his sonic screwdriver and the latch burst open with a bang, the door sliding away from its frame decidedly.
A scene of nauseating familiarity met his eyes.
Rose was chained to a wall with several other women whilst a werewolf salivated and howled from its cage, the beast straining against the metal which was too soft to hold it.
“Where the hell have you been?” Rose snapped, her voice trembling with fear as she incited the women to pull their chains away from the masonry.
Again the Doctor found his eyes captivated by the deep muscle and hard lines of the creature, its perfect symmetry and savage beauty all but taking his breath away.
“Oh that’s beautiful!” he breathed and just like that the cage bars bent and snapped.
Those chained beside Rose had finally managed to release their bonds and they scurried out of the room with Sir Robert leading the way.
“Out, out, out, out, out!” the Doctor yelled urgently and pushed them out of the door.
But his eyes couldn’t stop staring as the creature rose majestically, its body glistening with power.
“Come on!” Rose called and came back to him.
The werewolf stood tall, free of the cage which had held it for so long.
Enraged, the monster threw the top of is cage across the room, narrowly missing the Doctor who was still enraptured.
“Doctor!” Rose screamed and he finally moved, grabbing her hand and heading to the door.
But those few seconds had been seconds too many and Rose was yanked forcibly from his grasp.
The Doctor spun to see the werewolf holding Rose like a rag doll and bending its muzzle to her soft throat, its teeth glinting in the moonlight.
He took a stumbling step forward, his hand going up to ward off damage but it was too late.
With a guttural roar the werewolf opened his maw wide and bit down.
Crimson liquid splattered over the Doctor’s face as the beast tore out her throat, slicing through flesh and bone like a Sunday roast.
An inarticulate cry of shock, rage and denial wrenched free from the Doctor’s own throat as a gush of arterial fluid spewed forth from the dead body held high by the victorious werewolf. Clawed paws tightened around the limp body and sliced into her soft arms trailing lines of blood dripping to the floor.
With a howl of triumph he dropped her battered and broken body to the floor and she hit the stone floor with a sick thud. The werewolf swiped its mighty claws down and shredded the torso, sending entrails flying and spreading the blood around like a child at bath time.
And all the Doctor could do was watch; struck dumb and paralysed by horror as his Rose was brutally murdered in front of him.
He hadn’t been quick enough. He had allowed his own curiosity and innate belief in his own invulnerability to slow him down and Rose, precious Rose, had paid the price.
She was gone and it was all his fault.
Grief struck, despair and anguish taking a firm hold as he stared down at Rose’s golden hair, liberally streaked with red liquid.
As he fell to his knees all he could see was Rose’s dead eyes staring accusingly at him.
“A touch macabre, isn’t it?”
He spun around to see the ninth Doctor leaning in the doorway.
“Torn apart by a werewolf, not a nice way to go.” His eyes flickered from the now frozen scene to the grieving Doctor. “You just weren’t quick enough.”
“I was!” spat the Doctor, his voice hoarse. “I saved her.”
The man in leather sniffed. “Luck. If Rose hadn’t pulled you away when she did, she’d be dead. This is what would have happened in ten seconds. You would have killed her. Typical.”
“Typical?” the Doctor clambered to his feet snarling like the wolf behind him. “This is barbaric.”
“This is justice,” contradicted the man in leather. “You put her in this situation, this is your fault.” He grinned at his adversary’s weakness. “Take it like a man.”
With a burst of pure fury the Doctor rushed forward and pulled back his fist, slamming it with satisfying force into the ninth Doctor’s face.
With a crunch and a snap, his head flew back, the impact making him stumble for a second.
But it was long enough for the Doctor to gather his wits. “You want to assign blame? Then fine, here’s one I prepared earlier!”
He swung his arm and dealt an upper cut which sent the other man sprawling to the floor—and into his own nightmare.
The Doctor stared around him taking in his surroundings with his usual sombre reflection. He tucked his hands into his leather pockets with an attempt at casual disinterest but it was hard.
The Rose that stood across the other side of the wooden table was young. So very young with those baggy jeans and the hoody that she had loved to wear when he first met her.
She was gnawing on her lower lip and smiled softly at him.
“If we could just get out of here...” she said wistfully and the Doctor found his mouth moving.
“There's a way out.”
Rose frowned incredulously. “What?”
“There's always been a way out.”
“Then why don't we use it?” Rose asked with a hint of curiosity in her voice. But the Doctor just stepped towards that long oak table, suddenly remembering where he was and what he was doing.
He looked down at Rose’s mobile hooked up to the speaker system on the table of 10 Downing Street.
So this was what his other self had thrown at him? This moment, out of everything.
He felt a smug smirk edge around his features even as he spoke into the mobile.
“Because I can't guarantee your daughter will be safe.”
Jackie’s tinny voice came over the line. “Don't you dare. Whatever it is, don't you dare.”
Even Jackie’s voice managed to irritate him. Issuing orders like she was the one in charge. He answered condescendingly. “That's the thing, if I don't dare, everyone dies.”
Rose’s quiet declaration still had the ability to floor him and he found himself repeating his own words without hesitation. “You don't even know what it is, you'd just let me?”
Rose simply stared at him, her eyes full of a trust that made his hearts ache. This moment, this was when he first fell for her.
He heard Jackie bleat and plead, arguing that Rose was just a kid and that old swell of guilt surged through his belly.
“Do you think I don't know that? Because this is my life, Jackie, it's not fun, it's not smart, it's just standing up and making a decision because nobody else will.”
It was always the same thing. People called him a hero, people called him a villain because he did the things that no one else would.
“Then what're you waiting for?”
Except his Rose.
“I could save the world but lose you.”
Once he had cared. Once he had aimed a bomb at Rose to save the world.
Now he wasn’t so sure. Rose meant more to him than this dinky little Class 3 planet.
“Except it's not your decision, Doctor. It's mine.”
The Doctor had been so intent on looking at Rose and remembering every second of their life together that he had forgotten there was someone else in this room.
“Harriet Jones, MP for Flydale North. The only elected representative in this room, chosen by the people, for the people, and on behalf of the people I command you. Do it.”
And he did. He ordered Mickey to hack into the Royal Navy and select the correct codes. He directed him to a missile and took a deep breath, knowing what would happen next.
“Mickey the Idiot. The world is in your hands. Fire.”
He turned away from the drama unfolding on the other end of the line and smiled at Rose, waiting for her to make her alternate plans.
“How solid are these?” Harriet Jones asked tapping on the steel shutters.
“Not solid enough, built for short range attack, nothing this big.” He answered quickly, eyes not on her at all.
And right on time Rose stepped up. “Alright. Now I'm making the decision. I'm not gonna die, we're gonna ride this one out.” She opened the cupboard door. “It's like what they say about earthquakes, you can survive 'em by standing under a doorframe. Now this cupboard's small so it's strong. Come and help me! Come on!”
They all slid into the cupboard, the Doctor shouting some last minute instructions at Mickey from the safety of the small cubby hole.
They crouched into the corner and grasped hands, the Doctor in the middle.
“Nice knowing you both.” Harriet Jones said with her nervous smile in place. “Hannibal!”
Like a preset password the whole place exploded on cue.
Inside the small space they still felt the heat of the blast rocking the house. Harriet fell forward, her body slamming into the Doctor as the cupboard shook hard, coming lose from its moorings.
Rose gasped hard as the Doctor’s body knocked into hers and they all flipped head over heels, their world turning over in confusion and panic.
The Doctor felt an elbow in his ear and a knee in his spine as they collided and bumped against each other, buffeted by the energy of the explosion.
He could hear the frightened breathing of Harriet and the snap of objects overhead as the rocking caused the objects in the cupboard to dash against the sides of the box.
The huge whoomph of fire outside masked all sound for a long moment and then all fell silent.
Harriet groaned and pushed herself upright. “Is it over?” she gasped.
“Yeah,” the Doctor nodded opening his own eyes and wiping a hand over his face. It was wet.
He frowned at it and squinted hard in the dim light and bright spots colouring his vision.
“Oh my God!”
He spun at Harriet’s horrified exclamation and the bottom fell out of his world.
One thing he had never thought about was the fact that they had sheltered in a coat cupboard.
A cupboard with a rod to hang clothes from.
A rod which had snapped and protruded rudely from the belly of Rose Tyler.
“No!” his voice was strangled as he leaned forwards touching her face to see if there was any response.
His fingertips left streaks of red against her pale cheeks and he snatched his hands away before he could mar her perfection any longer.
He had been touching her stomach, trying to hold her close and she hadn’t been able to move as the rod slid into her stomach. His hands were slickly coated with her blood.
He had held her down as she died.
Bile rose in his throat and he gagged, turning his head away from the sight of her lifeless body.
“I’m so sorry,” Harriet murmured reaching over to close Rose’s eyes. “She was so brave.”
He couldn’t answer. He had held her down as she died.
He held her down.
It was his fault.
Not content to aim a bomb at her he had then forced a spike through her chest.
He had killed her.
His hands shook and the world swam in front of him.
“Not as fun from the other side is it?”
His head snapped up as converse trainers came into view and the scene faded, the acrid smell of burning timber vanishing as if it was never there.
With an inarticulate roar of rage he hurled himself at his pin-striped counterpart and wrapped his fingers around his throat, squeezing hard.
The Doctor who hadn’t been in the explosion grunted and grabbed his attacker’s wrists, digging his nails into the flesh there but anger made the ninth Doctor strong.
He kneed his enemy in the side and the pin-striped man wheezed as the breath fled his body.
With a feral snarl the leather-clad Doctor punched him in the stomach and gave him a head butt.
The crack of skull on skull ricocheted and they both staggered back drunkenly.
The pin-striped Doctor held his aching ribs and glared. “Pacifist!”
“Time War,” shot back the ninth Doctor with just as much ire. He tried to smack his foe again but the Doctor dodged out of the way nimbly, his wiry frame an advantage.
The Doctor knew that he needed to regain his footing and he searched his mind for something that would hurt and disorientate his other self.
He found it quickly and sneered. “See, you don’t mind hurting Rose when it suits you.”
“You held her down,” the man shot back, “you aimed a bomb at her, lets not forget that. And, oh yeah, you trapped her with a Dalek. I think those outweigh a possible time lapse between me and a werewolf.”
“Oh, but there are so many other ways to hurt.” With those sinister words the jailer stood straight and, focussing his power, he grabbed the Doctor by the lapels and shoved him into another nightmare.
The Doctor stared up at the night sky, the superior wine turning to dust and ash in his mouth. He was trapped here, on the slow path and Rose was millions of years and billions of miles away. Was she thinking about him staring at the same stars? Was she waiting for him?
Reinette Poisson smiled softly at him. “It's a pity,” she said, “I think I would've enjoyed the slow path.”
He sighed heavily. “Well, I'm not going anywhere.”
“Oh, aren’t you?” She took him by the hand and led him along the sumptuous passages and the luxurious corridors until they came to her bedroom.
He stared at the bed with no little apprehension and wondered exactly how they punished people who turned down the Mistress of the King.
But Reinette wasn’t even looking there. She was staring at the fireplace.
“It's not a copy. It's the original. I had it moved here and was exact in every detail.”
“The Fireplace.” He walked slowly towards it. “The fireplace from your bedroom. When did you do this?”
But he knew. He remembered this from before. He recalled the elation that had pushed aside the despair and resignation when he had thought he was stuck on the slow path for years.
He remembered that his first thought had been Rose. Rose left alone on that ship as he’d rode away on a horse to save the day.
He’d hoped she’d understood.
He prayed that she’d forgive him and he couldn’t imagine her not.
He almost didn’t hear Reinette’s teasing reply.
“…will it work?”
“You broke the bond with the ship when you moved it. Which means it was off-line when the mirror broke. That's what saved it. But...” he moved closer to the fireplace examining it, “the link is basically physical, and it's still physically here. Which might just mean, if I'm lucky... if I'm very, very, very, very, very, very lucky...” he beamed brightly, knowing exactly where to press and found what he was looking for. “Loose connection! Need to get a man in!”
He stood on the right step and banged the mantelpiece knowing what expression Reinette would have but unable to stop staring at her beautiful face.
She really had been so very lovely.
Is that what his other self had meant? The hurt of Madam De Pompadour dying? It was history, he couldn’t change that.
He didn’t want to change that.
He would go back to Rose and Madam would die.
“Wish me luck!” he chortled falsely and his face fell on cue at her refusal.
He crouched down at the other end of the fireplace and told her to pack her bag, knowing that it would be too late.
He took a deep breath and hurtled off to find Rose.
“Rose!” he called as he raced through the space ship, dodging cables and broken equipment.
He heard the echo of voices and sped up, imagining Rose’s bright face as he showed up, seeing her eyes light up and feeling her arms around him.
And there she was. Rose was standing there, delight etched onto every inch of her face and she stepped forward, throwing her arms around him in a hug so tight he could feel her ribs creak.
“You came back!” she whispered in his ear and he sighed into her shoulder, feeling like the first time he had held her all over again.
“How long did you wait?” he asked, pulling back.
“Five and a half hours.” There was accusation in her voice under the pleasure and he wondered if it had always been there or if it was an addition placed there by his tormenter.
“Right, always wait five and a half hours.” He reached over to hug Mickey, changed his mind and grabbed his hand in a quick shake instead.
“Where’ve you been?” Rose was still standing there, her enthusiasm for his return fading slightly but he was too preoccupied.
“Explain later. Into the TARDIS, be with you in a sec.” He heard Mickey scramble to the TARDIS, eager to get away from the space station and he couldn’t blame him.
Quite a trial for the boy’s first trip out.
He bent at the fireplace and called for Reinette, knowing what he would discover.
His next few moments played out just as remembered and when he wandered back into the TARDIS sad, but secretly relieved, he could feel the parchment letter over one of his hearts tucked away where it would be forgotten.
Rose was standing by just where he remembered…but Mickey was nowhere in sight.
“Doctor,” she took a deep breath. “You were calling for Reinette. Did you…was she…gonna come with us?”
“Yeah,” he said sadly. “But the time windows were still out of sync with our own reality. She was dead. I got there too late.”
There was a brief pause and he looked up. This was usually Rose’s cue to come over and hug him, to make him feel better.
Why wasn’t she moving?
“I’m not good at history,” she blurted abruptly. “But I reckon I’d remember something like the Mistress of a King going missing. Kidnapped by aliens or whatever. She wasn’t.”
“No,” he frowned. “I told you, she died.”
“Yeah, but if she hadn’t. If she’d been alive when you got back, you’d’ve brought her with us. Right?”
He wanted comfort, dammit. Not questions.
“What’s your point?” he said sharply.
“I’m a stupid ape,” Rose answered just as sharply, “but even I know that taking away someone like her is messin’ with history. When my dad…when I stopped him dying you told me that one person’s life being changed, whether it’s the most ordinary man or the uncrowned Queen of France. Changing that is dangerous.”
“I know what I’m doing,” he said defensively, knowing that she was right but hating to admit it.
“So it’s okay to mess with history when it suits you?” Rose’s voice was quiet now and he pointedly ignored her.
“I wasn’t gonna mention this,” she added after a few minutes. “I was gonna say nothing and just let it go. But I can’t. Doctor…I wanna go home.”
Both his hearts clenched and he spun on his converses to gape at her. “What?”
She steeled herself and swallowed hard. “Home. I don’t wanna travel with you anymore. I can’t. It’s not just… I can’t.”
“Why?” he hated the plaintive note in his voice and narrowed his eyes. “Because I wanted her to come with us?”
“Because you’d screw up history for nothing. Because you don’t seem to give a shit that you left me and Mickey alone on a space station five million years in the future with remnants of Clockwork monsters and no way of getting back. Because you can’t even see what kind of damage you’ve done. Because you lied.”
He slammed his hands on the console, ice in his belly and a hole where his heart was. “I don’t lie. I never lie, Rose Tyler!”
The anger and hurt in Rose’s eyes floored him.
“You said I wasn’t the latest in a long line. You said you weren’t gonna leave me behind. Yesterday!” She shouted it at him. “Yesterday you stood there and practically said that you loved me. You said I could stay with you for the rest of my life. Twenty four hours later you dump me on a fucking space station with Mickey and take off with a blonde Frenchwoman. I’m not Sarah Jane and I won’t always wait five and half hours while you go off with someone else. I won’t waste my lifetime holding out for someone who lies to my face. Or who breaks my heart and doesn’t even care. You’ve hurt me.” Tears welled up in her eyes and she brushed them away. “God, you hurt. Take me home, Doctor.”
She turned on her heel and his hearts broke.
He had never felt so bad. She was right, he had done that; he had walked away after telling her hours before that he would never leave her.
He had been prepared to change history, to make the whole world different to keep a woman by his side who meant nothing to him.
How could he have done that to Rose?
She couldn’t leave. He had to make her stay.
He threw everything he had into his last rejoinder. “You said I lied, Rose. What about you? You wanted to stay with me so badly you swallowed the Time Vortex. Does that mean nothing?”
She paused in the doorway and half-turned to face him, tears spilling down her cheeks, twisting the knife in further. “It meant something to him. He came back for me. He loved me and I knew it. I would have died for him, would’ve done anything. I’d stay with him. If you were still him…but you’re not. You…you’re too different. You’re not my Doctor.”
There was nothing he could say. He wanted to cry, to scream, to get on his knees and beg her to stay with every fibre of his being. He knew he would offer her everything, anything if only she would come back. If only she would love him again.
She made him whole, how would he go on without her to hold his hand, to hold him back or just hold him.
But it was too late. He had seen the desolation and despair in her face.
He had seen the way he had hardened her and hurt her and he knew that there was nothing that he could offer that would ever assuage that.
He had broken Rose Tyler and in doing that, had broken himself.
The man in leather watched with hard eyes as his older self sobbed on the floor, his hand reaching up to grip the phantom image of Rose as she walked away, fading into darkness.
He could feel the desolation that swamped his other incarnation and had to resist the urge to soften.
There was more at stake here than hurt feelings.
“She was right.”
His words had the impact of a bullet as the man in stripes shot to his feet, fury displayed over every inch of his angular face.
“You go too far! Rose wouldn’t just walk away from me. She never asked to go home.”
“Would you have let her?”
“I’m not the one who has incarceration issues. You’re just pathetic. Inferences on human behaviour aren’t your strong point. Rose was bigger than that. She knew that what I felt for Madam De Pompadour could never even touch what I felt for Rose. She knew it.”
“Did she?” a mocking tone filled that northern accent and he stared at the man he had been.
“What happened to you? What made you so bitter? Where did all this come from? Doctor?”
Anger flared on a harsh face. “From you, all right? From watching her fall for you and you push her away. You didn’t deserve her; you didn’t deserve any of it. Oh no. After everything I did for her, you just threw it back in my face!”
“Everything you did?” the man in pin-striped scoffed. “Everything you did to her, you mean.”
“And things I’m going to do?” the ninth Doctor stared coldly at his enemy and the older man felt fear for Rose.
“Stop it, just stop it! We can do this somewhere else; we can take this far away. Not here. We can fight each other but not around Rose. She is going to end up a casualty.”
“I wasn’t the one who allowed a piece of skin to possess her.”
“No, you almost allowed that piece of skin to fry her alive.” The tenth Doctor smirked. “Rose-ka-bab. Was that one of the things you did for her? Oh, wait, then again there was the Gelth. Would you have allowed them to possess her to keep her close?”
“Krillitane,” shot back the man in leather.
Not to be outdone, another failing was thrown in his face. “Justicia.”
“Face sucking aliens!”
“Domemen from Atalantagh.”
“Daleks!” They screamed simultaneously.
“You trapped her in with one!”
“You allowed them to pull her into the void. It was blind luck that Pete came when he did. And then you didn’t even bother to try to get her back. You don’t deserve her.”
He slammed the thinner man against a wall and hoisted him high above his head, spittle edging from the corner of his mouth.
The tenth Doctor, pinned against the wall, tried to push his psychotic self away but he was tired. The mental effort of applying the visions, making them real and forcing the memories to react the best way to torment his other self had taken their toll. Then there was the emotional effect his own memories had on him as well as the psychical ones. He was battered, he was pulsing with pain both inside and out and he could only wonder if he had another battle left in him.
The man in leather seemed to sense that and tightened his fingers, victory dancing around the edge of his smirk.
But all was not lost.
The wiry Doctor jabbed his thumbs into his counterparts’ eyes and, being summarily dropped, he gave a vicious sideways swipe, knocking the Doctor’s feet out from under him.
The broad man slammed into the floor in a heap of leather and anger. He did his best to get to his feet quickly but his knees were trembling with the effort.
He also knew that there was not much fight left in him.
This had to end soon.
Both men gritted their teeth, jaw muscles clenched tightly.
Viciously, relentlessly they exchanged punches, kicks, elbows and backhands, drawing blood and relying on physical strength to hold their opponent back while they gathered internal reserves.
It was time for their last mental assault and they attacked simultaneously
“Before I go, I just want to tell you that you were fantastic.”
“You wither and die.”
“She wanted to stay on the station, Doctor. We had to drug her or she’d be dead in that black hole. Waiting for you.”
“She’s in cell 42, has been for three weeks. She’s waiting for someone to save her, some Doctor.”
A beach, abandoned but for a crying girl.
“Rose Tyler, I—”
Blinded by pain, dazed with sorrow, the tenth Doctor did the only thing he could.
Slamming a right hook into the leather man’s jaw, sending him reeling into the wall, he wiped blood from his mouth with one hand and used every last morsel of his strength to push out his very worst nightmare.
Heavy mortar fire rang through the air deafening in its volume. Screams could barely be heard through the noise as the whole city shook to it foundations.
Buildings were finally giving up any pretence of being solid and those running were aware that they’d as likely be crushed by falling walls as they would be shot by either army; the armies who were currently advancing on the city within the city.
This was the supposed safe haven that had withstood so much. It had been the hallowed ground of those who thought themselves so superior and now were reaping the reward of such arrogance.
A solitary man pushed his way through the screaming hordes, brandishing his rifle high to persuade them to move faster. His curly dark hair was liberally sprinkled with both dust and ash and matted in a mixture of sweat and blood. His once handsome face was scarred almost beyond recognition. One long ragged scar, older than the rest, running almost diagonally over his face, dividing his eyes away from his cheeks was almost faded save for a few nicks and bruises. The rest of the scars were fresher and seeping dangerously down his cheeks making him more fearsome than he already was. He slammed his way through a crumbling set of double doors, gasping for breath as he clutched the wound on his left side.
Inside the main building he glanced up at the fragile infrastructure, knowing full well that it was only just still standing.
The beautiful citadel, now in ruins. His home, on the brink of destruction
Had he known of its imminent demise, would he have come back more often? Even to a place he knew he was unwelcome?
It was too late to know for sure.
He gritted his teeth and searched the chaos for those he cared for, hoping that they had had the good sense to get out before their enemies arrived.
He pushed himself forward and yanked himself onto the stage to get their attention.
“They’ve breached the outer walls!” yelled the Doctor over the screech of falling bombs.
Everyone in the halls ducked as the walls shuddered and dust rained down on them.
Another explosion sounded nearby and the very foundations trembled.
“How did it come to this?” the Chancellor muttered, his aged voice plaintive and pathetic.
“With all due respect,” the Doctor spat, compassion burned away by the fall of Arcadia. “It’s your own fault for not dealing with the bloody Daleks when we had a chance!”
The Chancellor gave him a woeful glare before looking up quickly.
The whistle of a bomb dropping was their only clue to the danger as they both hit the deck, the building quaking around them. The ceiling gave way and plaster poured down, bricks shifted and beams snapped. Screams came from down the hallway and he tightened his grip on his gun; his hated concession to the war, as the dust reigned down on him and the building continued to crack and shudder.
Explosions sounded close and he wrenched himself to his feet.
“We have to abandon Gallifrey, sir, we—”
He froze as he saw the long beam protruding from the chest of the Chancellor, blood slipping from his mouth.
“Doc-tor!” the old man breathed.
“I’m here,” he sank to his knees. “I’ll get you out; you can regenerate in the TARDIS.”
“No,” coughed the dying man. “I have no lives left.”
This blow would have felled the Doctor had he not heard the ominous screech of fire from a Dalek gun piercing the silence.
It was close. It was too close.
He could hear the echoes of “Exterminate” and knew that the Daleks had finally taken the Capitol. In moments they would be here, inside the Panopticon and all would be lost.
His robes were grabbed by the Chancellor and he was pulled weakly to within whispering distance.
“Child of the Loom, you must do this. You must end this. We were weak to allow them this far. Abuse of power is j-just as damaging as apathy. Our time is gone. The Time Lords will be—no more. Take the final steps.” He pressed something into the Doctor’s hands.
He stared at it with dawning horror.
“No. No. NO! I can’t do this. I won’t. You can’t make me.” His words were childish and torn from his very soul.
Blood began to pool around the Chancellor’s body as he gasped for air. “You have no c-c-choice. The fate of the u-niverse lies with y-ou. Man who heals; kill us all.”
And in his final breath he condemned the Doctor.
The man called Destroyer of Worlds bypassed the dying and the dead, not seeing anything but the blue of safety, the edge of his own life and the tears that blurred his vision.
This was it.
This was the end of it all and it was fault of the Dalek race.
As if conjured by the thought there was a shudder of gunfire behind him and he found himself dodging the laser ray of the Dalek forces. The stucco rhythm echoed through the abandoned city and he pushed himself to run faster, to save them all by…
He cut off the thought as he saw the miraculous blue box and made a mad dash for its hallowed halls.
A ricocheted ray caught a mighty sculpture and shattered it, a long shard of glass catching him in the leg and he went down cursing.
He crawled, pulling himself by his nails along the floor those last vital inches to the TARDIS.
He slammed inside the TARDIS he had stolen in innocence so many decades ago and set the controls without thinking, trying to keep away any thought to the devastation that would be caused by his actions.
Ignoring the pain in his bleeding leg he grabbed the eye of harmony and inserted it into its place in the console.
With a flick and a whir he sent the machine spiralling out of the danger zone and into the fringes of the battle ridden sky.
Dalek forces swamped the Time Lord ships, flitting in and out of existence, murdering each other like chattel. It was a slaughter and there was only one way to end it.
The eye of harmony would send explosions through the matrix; it would send ripples of transdimensional energy through all universes, all alternates and all realities. It would eradicate and dissipate and realign time. It would devastate the higher life forms, send time spiralling out of control and lock the war for all eternity.
It would segment this area of time and tie it down so that it could never be replaced, never be replicated and never be released. It would burn through the stars and take out the warring factions.
Death. Devastation. Armageddon.
Genocide twice over.
It was the only way to stop the Daleks, halt their inexhaustible quest for power and save the universe. It would kill them, annihilate all of them.
Decimate them all.
It was the only way.
The only way.
But he faltered.
His hand couldn’t make itself take those final steps. He couldn’t twist the dial. He couldn’t do it.
He couldn’t become that man. He couldn’t become a murderer any more than he already was.
His hands shook and tears streamed down his face.
He couldn’t do it.
But he knew someone who could.
He closed his eyes and allowed his nature to take its course.
White hot light filled him, engulfed every molecule and cell, ripping through him and changing him.
It surged through his veins and poured molten lava into his body, contorting and tearing a hole in his psyche.
The process killed him. It annihilated every trace of who he was within an instant, and rebuilt him as needed.
The oncoming Storm.
The lonely god.
A cold shell of a man with blue eyes, a harsh face and no mercy, who stood in his former self’s place and pressed the button.
The universe exploded.