SPOILERS: The End of Time, Part II
CHARACTERS: Ten, 10.5, Rose, Donna
RATING: This chapter is G - later ones go higher
NOTE: I've been having a lot of trouble with LJ cuts lately. If this one doesn't work, please let me know.
CREDITS: Thanks to unfolded73 for the icon. And Yoko Ono (who probably owns it now) for the title.
He’d always maintained that talking to yourself was a sign of sanity. Now he was the living embodiment of it – there seemed to be another version of him, subtly different, more upbeat, more impulsive, less damaged and despairing – arguing with him inside his own head.
He's still alive...but he's got company.
THIRD DOCTOR: Jo, it's all quite simple - I am he and he is me!
JO GRANT: And we are all together, coo coo cachoo?
BOTH DOCTORS: WHAT?
JO GRANT: It's a song by The Beatles.
SECOND DOCTOR: Really? How does it go?
(From 'The Three Doctors')
I’m still alive…
And I’m still me! How did that happen?
He was lying on the floor, every cell of his body throbbing. Every joint of his body protested painfully as he staggered to his feet, blinking in the unfamiliar light of a control room no longer his own.
But that didn’t matter. He was alive, and he hadn’t changed. After so many losses, so much pain, the universe had given him a second chance. Oh, he was going to love this life! Wherever it took him, whatever it led to, he was going to grasp it with both hands. That was the way he’d felt when he’d first been born into this wonderful body, and it was the way he was going to be now. He grasped the nearest surface with one hand to support his shaking legs, and held up the other, seeing flickers of regeneration energy pulse weakly under the skin, then fade away.
But hang on – hadn’t there just been a massive explosion? The whole control room burning? Where was the smoke, the devastation? In fact, where was his TARDIS? This place looked like somebody’s idea of a TARDIS – a model, perhaps, the odd little bit of it operated by homemade remote control – two wires, a kettle element, a piece of string…
“Something’s wrong…” The voice was his own – either that or he was hallucinating.
He resolved not to panic. He’d never made a habit of panicking and he wasn’t starting now. Think, think, think! His hands moved upwards through his hair – yep, same hair – and he twirled on his heels, ready to survey the damage to the control room he’d just heard being blasted to smithereens around him. “What’s wrong, old girl?” he asked her. “You been trying to fix yourself again? Ooh, I wouldn’t do that!”
He pulled at a lever and it broke off in his hand. “They just don’t build them like they used to, eh?” he sighed, ruefully, shrugging as he tossed the cracked, immature coral aside. “Wait a minute!” He spun around again. “This isn’t anything to do with the Master, is it? If he’s been sneaking around and fiddling with my TARDIS, I’ll…I’ll…”
He stopped. His voice faded away to a whisper. Then he put his hands, still hot and burning from aborted regenerative energy, to his temples. He closed his eyes and shook his head to clear the fog of hallucination from his brain. Because over there, just across the console in her usual spot, was someone completely impossible, poised tentatively between laughter and tears, gazing back at him.
“Oi!” she protested. “Watch it. Took us nearly two years to grow that bit.”
“What?” he gasped. Blinking, rubbing his eyes, opening them again, still not believing what he saw.
“WHAT?” he said again, louder. Then, before he could let himself act on the impulse to bound over and throw himself upon her like an eager, faithful dog, he forced himself to run through some possible explanations.
She was the last person he’d seen, very much by choice. He’d begun to regenerate with her face, her voice, his memories of her, imprinted on his mind. So he must be having some kind of dream. He was probably lying in a coma among the flames and shattered coral right now.
“You’re not real,” he announced, and a crack came into his voice. “This is some kind of projection, isn’t it?”
“Doctor,” she said quietly. “It’s me. It’s really me.”
“Can’t be. NonononoNO! ” He shook his head from side to side, probably looking like someone being turned into a Master-clone. No, wasn’t gonna think about that. Of course, the moment he made that decision, it all unreeled in his mind like a pop video watched through a fug of some recreational drug.
He sank to his knees, grasping his head. “No,” he kept repeating, over and over. “It’s gone wrong. I fought it too hard. I…I didn’t want to go. This body – it’s been the best one – I won’t get one like this again. I might have two noses or one head, or should that be one head or two noses…I’m not making much sense.”
“ ‘S okay,” she said with a shrug. “Seen one regeneration, seen ‘em all.”
“But I haven’t regenerated!” Now he was almost sobbing, the tension he’d held on a tight leash for days bubbling out, released by the unfamiliar prospect of comfort. “It’s my people. Somehow, they came back. Changing the timelines. All because I couldn’t…Oh Rose, they were all going to die! I could hear them over the intercom…crying and screaming and trying to send back messages and there was nothing I could do about it. Fixed point. But I went back. Changed it. Changed history. And now they’ll punish me.”
Stop it, you emotionally self-indulgent idiot. What kind of a Time Lord are you, anyway?
Actually, that was an interesting question. Very interesting – and he’d always loved interesting questions. He was feeling better already. He’d always maintained that talking to yourself was a sign of sanity. Now he was the living embodiment of it – there seemed to be another version of him, subtly different, more upbeat, more impulsive, less damaged and despairing – arguing with him inside his own head.
Rose was standing right in front of him, stroking his hair. “Who’ll punish you, Doctor? You’re safe now. This is the parallel world.”
It made a crazy kind of sense. That voice in his head again… Yeah, that’s me. The bit you left behind. Well, you didn’t think I’d just sit around without a TARDIS, did you? I pinched a bit of coral from a strut before I let…
The voice changed to Donna’s. See, if you shatterfry the plasmic shell…
Oh, Donna. Beautiful, brilliant, Time Lady Donna. He’d missed her so much. And here she was, alive again, living in his mind and memories.
“The Doctor/Donna…” he gasped, in wonder.
He heard Rose gasp in joy and relief. “It’s worked! Just like he said it would.”
He looked around. Now it made sense – an immature TARDIS, helped along by some jiggery-pokery of titanic proportions. “You’ve done all this? That’s brilliant! Where is he? Why isn’t he here?” Again, he clasped his forehead as a wave of pain and confusion hit him. “Oh, but wait a minute! He is here, isn’t he? In here, I mean.”
Well, you didn’t think I’d tell you everything, did you? What d’you mean, what have we been up to? Mind your own business, Space Man! You can have those memories later, when you’ve thought about the story you’re gonna tell Jackie.
Rose held out a fob watch on the palm of her hand. “Everything that’s happened to the two of us since…you know.” He saw how he’d hurt her, in the tremor of her voice as she changed the subject. “You’ve merged,” she explained. “Two consciousnesses in the same body."
“Same human body.” He felt his chest. “One heart! I’m human! Oh, that is disgusting! That’s just weird!”
You’ll get used to it. I had to…
He looked frantically at Rose. “I’ve got three people in my head – and one of them’s Donna Noble. Can you imagine what it’ll be like when we’re all talking at once?"
Rose laughed. And he noticed that she looked just like the bright-eyed, loving girl he’d watched from the shadows – how long ago? Minutes? Hours? He was a Time Lord and he’d lost all sense of time.
“Oh, but this is wrong! I left you with him. You were going to grow old together. Not me. I’m the one who carries on. It was all so…so perfect?” And then, feeling a sudden need for reassurance, he stopped and looked at her, fearing her answer. “Well, it wasn’t that bad – was it? I didn’t have a lot of time to think about it…so much going on.”
She held his hand and her palm was warm. Her fingers curled around his and all he could think was, This is Rose I’m holding hands with. I can touch her, I can smell her breath, she’s here, she’s real…
“It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t exactly good, either. ‘Cause there’s something you didn’t understand, Doctor.”
Pride came to his aid for a moment and he straightened his back, looking down at her severely, if not completely seriously.
“Me, not understand? I’ll have you know, Rose Tyler, I’ve got the most brilliant brain in the universe…”
“Stick it, Spaceman,” she said, and flushed with embarrassment. “Sorry, I picked a few of his phrases up.”
“You mean Donna’s?”
“Well, she was a bit of him. How is she, Donna?”
“Oh…um, fine. Just been to her wedding. Well, I stood at the gate and watched. Didn’t want to go barging in, making a nuisance of myself. But yeah, she’d got a lovely bloke, plenty of money…”
He mind-wiped me! Donna’s voice rang inside his head. But he couldn’t get at this bit. And don’t listen to him going on about that bloke; he was an idiot. All the best bits of me are over here now. She’s just someone who’s excited by a pretty dress and a ring on her finger.
“Oh, come on, now!” he protested. “That’s not very nice!”
Neither was wiping my memories, Space Man! Defence mechanism! She snorted in derision, as only Donna could. All you did was dump it all in the other one’s head – he had a migraine for days!
….Nah, that was the chocolate. Never did like plain chocolate.
Why did you finish the whole box then, you great greedy space prawn…?
The Doctor groaned and clutched his temples. Or should that be his Temple-Nobles? Oh never mind. He looked at Rose. “Can you hear her?” he asked. “Donna Noble in my head, arguing with me. Both of me! A fate worse than death, that is. Literally. You shut up, or you’re going back home to your mother and that new bloke of yours…Sean, wasn’t it?”
“That’ll settle down,” Rose reassured him. “It’s just the trauma. You need to rest.”
“With those two in here? I’d have a job!”
She took his head between her hands and kissed his forehead.
“Rose,” he said, weakly. “I’m not a Time Lord any more. I’m human, aren’t I?”
“That’s good, isn’t it?” she asked. “So long as you’re here. With me. We’ll grow old together, you and me in the TARDIS. Just as it should be.”
“How did you…how did you do it?” As he spoke, a feeling of faintness came over him, and he was uncomfortably aware of how little warmth there was in the thin, torn garments he was wearing. If only he’d kept on his coat…
“Time for a cuppa, I think,” said Rose.
“Here.” She steered him over to a place – not a bed, surely? – where warmth and comfort immediately surrounded him. A duvet was tucked around his neck and she draped something over him, heavy and comforting, with a slight aroma of engine oil and boiled sweets buried deep in its pockets. “See,” he heard her say, “we even thought of that…”
Or was that Donna? Or even the other him? Here came a memory. Incoming memory – you’ve got mail, there’s a little number one in brackets flashing up beside the inbox of your past. He could see a Doctor sitting on the steps of a chaotic bookshop-slash-boutique, his glasses on, reading a book, as Rose riffled through a rail of second-hand clothes. Rose, suddenly stopping, gasping, pulling out the perfect long brown coat…
“Cold…” His teeth were chattering. “So cold…” His fingers groped for the collar and as the rough fabric unfolded in his hands he was knocked psychically sideways by a tidal wave of emotion. Someone was caring for him. They’d even found his coat. That apparent detail filled his limited vision of the world with immense significance, making him childishly happy.
She slipped under the covering of comfort and lay beside him. “I’ll keep you warm,” she said.
Me, too! Move up a bit!
Go away, he told his alter-ego. If you want that kind of party, go and seek out Jack Harkness.
Just before he drifted off to sleep, he heard Donna saying, You’re not mating with me, sunshine!
Oh, he’d missed her…
- Current Mood: accomplished
- Current Music:I Am The Walrus