18 months since I posted fic - I can hardly remember how to do this!
A fixit, of sorts....
She’s sorry but she’s going to have to stop him. After all, isn’t that what she always does?
Peace, I will stop thy mouth.
Much Ado About Nothing, Act V
The Doctor steered the TARDIS back through the Void and then leaned back against a strut watching Donna at the console, waiting for the meltdown to begin even though it would be so much kinder, he was sure, just to do what had to be done and get it over with.
He had the words formed in his mind, ready to pronounce the death warrant on his beautiful Donna, his best mate. There’s never been a human/Time Lord metacrisis. And you know why? Because there can’t be.
Every moment he hung on would make it worse for both of them, yet he didn’t seem able to move. Just a few more seconds…and a few more…after all, she still seemed okay, even though she couldn’t be. He hated what he knew he’d have to do, and hated himself for doing it. But even if they could find some kind of way out, Davros had had a point. He turned all his companions into weapons. If he wasn’t weak and selfish, he’d stop involving them in his terrible life. Forgetting him was the kindest thing he could do…in fact, he wishes he’d found a way to make them all forget him. They’d be better off, wouldn’t they?
Donna looked up, straight at him. He could see little creases in her forehead and around her eyes that revealed the blinding headache she must be struggling with, at least. As usual, she was being incredibly strong. She opened her mouth and he waited for the torrent of manic babble, exhilaration turning to terror, which would surely follow as her sanity gave way.
“Right, Spaceman,” she declared. “We need to have a talk.”
A Time Lord’s mind. She’s got one now, so she can see timelines. All that is, all that was, all that might be, could ever be…yadda, yadda. And it’s freaking her out. Is this what it’s like being him, all the time? No wonder he’s such a mess. Oh God, she’s not enjoying this, not one bit – what if she sees when she’s gonna die or something? Can you make it stop?
Do they get trained for this kind of thing? Did they, rather? She vaguely remembers the Doctor mentioning an Academy and how he was pants at exams – well, what do you expect, with him – he’d be too busy pointing out all the interesting things about the questions to do anything as dull as actually answering them, wouldn’t he? He must have some control over it, because he’s told her you should never look at your own time line – does your head in, that. But she never meant to look at anybody’s time line and it’s happened to her, all the same – is that because she’s not been trained? Bit late to worry about that now – he’s too busy leaving Rose with the other Doctor and trying not to let it show that it’s breaking his hearts. As if.
All she did was wonder, like you do, if they’d be okay, those two. Because – typical him – he’d not exactly consulted anybody, had he? Oh no, he’s all Mr Martyr High and Mighty I know what’s best for you…And she was worried. She felt kind of responsible for Other Doctor (Proper Doctor, Other Doctor…yeah, that seemed to work). She’d been there when he was – ahem – born, and she just really, really wanted to know that the two of them would be okay, that he wouldn’t just collapse the moment the TARDIS faded away and leave Rose on her own again.
Anyway, she’s got a Time Lord’s mind now – less of that ‘Lord’ please – load of bloody sexists – so it seems you can’t just wonder about someone’s future, you have to see the whole damn thing, right down to the ripe old age and babies…gawd, it’s like that bit at the beginning of Up that gets her every time. So, nothing to worry about there. Not with those two.
But the Doctor…oh God, the Doctor. That was a different matter.
She has one hell of a headache and she really needs to get him to give her something to knock her out so she could calm down and get some sleep, but she has to hang on a bit longer and talk to him about what he was planning to do. Not just for her own sake, either. Or even for him. No, it’s all about someone called Adelaide Brooke, that she’s never even heard of…because as soon as that name entered her head she felt a very alien sense of complete and utter wrongness, that she recognised instinctively as a massive wound in the fabric of time.
And, as the Doctor might say under different circumstances, she’s sorry but she’s going to have to stop him.
After all, isn’t that what she always does? Why should all this Doctor/Donna business make it any different?
She spoke with a calm authority that surprised him, but then surprising him was a capacity that Donna had never lost. “I’m listening,” he said, quietly.
She’d already figured it out, then. Perhaps it was for the best. At least she’d be asking him to take it all away, rather than him having to take the initiative. It was a crumb of comfort to him, at least – except that when you already lived and moved and had your being in an ocean of guilt, what did another drop or two matter?
“I know what you’re gonna do,” she said. “And you mustn’t.”
“Donna…” he protested, “you don’t understand. Your mind’ll burn up. It’s the only way, believe me…if there was any other…”
“There is.” She looked straight at him. So brave. So beautiful. If only…no, he must be strong. He wasn’t sure whether the next words came from her physically or imprinted themselves in his mind through the telepathic link that must already be developing between them.
You don’t have to do this. You could regenerate.
“Why not?” she demanded. “You know it’d work. You took the whole Time Vortex into yourself to save Rose. You survived that.”
He knew it wasn’t just jealousy talking. She was pointing out a fact. But she was still wrong. Wrong, the way he’d been wrong, to think he could pick up these innocent species, take them away from everything they’d known and make it impossible for them to live a normal life. Getting them to do his dirty work in the name of saving the universe. Propping him up in his weakness and hypocrisy. Look at him now - he couldn’t even let go of this nice, sexy young body, because it was the one that Rose had loved.
He was snapped out of his funk by an all-too-familiar slap across the face. “It’s not all about you, you dumbo! I saw your timeline! You fall apart without me. You get this idea in your head that you’re gonna travel on your own, but you can’t handle it. I’ve seen what you do! You totally screw up a fixed point in time. Well, I’m not gonna let you go through all this and then have that happen. Adelaide Brooke has got to die and you know it!”
“What?” he said, recoiling in horror. “How do you know about Bowie Base One? It’s in your future!”
She stood in front of him rolling her eyes. “Time Lady. All that was, all that is, all that can ever be. I didn’t mean to see it. But it happened and I didn’t know how to make it stop.” Her voice faltered momentarily and she bowed her head. She must be in agony by now – physically and mentally. He pulled her into his arms. But if he said that all he wanted to do was to help her, that wasn’t entirely true. Another part of him was frantically trying to make sense of what she’d just said.
Was she right? Did he really get into such a state that he’d tried to change the fate of Bowie Base One – a timeline that even the Daleks had hesitated to destroy? He closed his eyes and saw a brief flash of himself in an orange space suit, the dying cries of the first Martian explorers ringing in his ears.
Time Lord Victorious. And he saw the madness in his eyes, heard the coldness in his tone of voice as he demanded thanks from Mia and Yuri. Humans gazing at him in terror, not in gratitude.
“Remember the Rachnoss?” she said. “What I did? What I said you needed?”
“I remember,” he gulped. “Someone to stop me.”
The question hung unanswered. It wasn’t the easiest thing to admit to, that he needed a human to do that. Yet he knew she was absolutely right. He needed her – that calm voice asking, “What do you need me to do?”, the hand coming down on top of his as he pushed the button that would release catastrophe. The arms closing silently around him on Midnight.
And if there was one human he had to need, it would be Donna Noble. Funny, that. He couldn’t imagine running down the street straight into a Dalek’s line of fire to be reunited with her. Or letting her utter the word “forever”. And if he caught her building a Dimension Cannon to get hold of him, he’d be much less forgiving than he’d been with Rose.
Yep. All things considered, she was good for him. And she’d sought him out. Methodically, patiently, and absolutely of her own volition. To talk of picking her up and sweeping her off was ridiculous. She’d always been there when he needed her. Which, come to think of it, was all the time.
She moved out of the protective circle of his arms and met his eyes. “I’ve seen the world without you, Doctor. Died to bring you back.”
“Don’t talk like that!”
“But there’s more than one way to die,” she went on. “You’re going to take away everything that’s made me who I am. Send me back to getting pissed on a Friday night and waiting for some bloke to make me feel I’m special by sleeping with me. Maybe even marry him. And what about Mum? And Wilf? Lying to me for the rest of my days?”
The look in her eyes as she pleaded pierced him to the core. “Please, don’t make me go back to that! Honestly, I’d rather die! I make you laugh, I keep you straight, I tell you when you’re being a complete space prawn. Look, you’re laughing now!”
She was right. He’d just lost Rose for ever and yet here he was. Laughing. Who else could do that? But…
“There’s many possible futures,” he said. “You only saw one of them.”
She shook her head. “I saw the one that mustn’t be. It’s not all about you. It’s about the damage you’ll do. Because you are full of yourself, you know. You don’t want to lose that nice body of yours. You think you might come back as some boring old buffer in a tweed suit…oh, don’t deny it! You’re the one showed me the pictures and when I think of some of those…I mean, checked trousers? And what about that coat the sixth time? Who d’you think you are, Joseph and his technicolour dreamcoat?”
“Donna…” He pulled her close to him again. “I don’t care what happens to me, if only I could save you.”
“Less of the ‘could’, Martian!”
“Isn’t this where we came in? Oh Gawd, my head’s killing me! Can’t we just get it over and done with?”
So there it was. Another regeneration. Well, he’d known it was coming, creeping up on him, ever since the Ood had mentioned his song ending. It would hurt, and when he came out he might have no head, or two heads, or be babbling on about Barcelona, or like pears and hate bananas, but in the end, what did it matter? He died for his friends. He’d done it over and over. Not soldiers, not victims. His friends, who didn’t have to come with him, who were brave, brilliant humans (well, usually), who’d go off to Mars and then reach for the stars and even end up on impossible planets underneath black holes before they’d stop being curious, and wonderful, and alive in all the ways his people never were.
“Okay,” he agreed, after a long pause. “I’ll take it away. Not the memories, just the Time Lord consciousness. You’ll probably forget about the timeline you saw. It’s better that way. And you’re right. Sooner we get on with it, the better.”
She smiled. “Is that the regeneration bit? Or explaining it to my mother?”
“I’ve done mothers before. Oh, and sometimes I get sick. Tea, that’s what I need. Full of radicals and tannins and yummy stuff like that. Or apples. Sometimes it’s apples. Once it was pilchards. The Solardixi ones…they’re purple with green spots.”
“Oh, come here,” she said.
And then the kiss began. Fire going through him, the singing of stars, the turn of the earth, the sound of the universe, and maybe, just maybe, this time he’d be ginger….?
- Current Mood:nervous