Fandom/Pairings: Doctor Who (new series + Big Finish Audios) | Ten/Rose, Eight/Charley
Spoilers/Timeline: New series: set after Voyage of the Damned; Big Finish Audios: set after The Girl Who Never Was
Word Count: 2178 (this chapter)
Summary: The Eighth Doctor unexpectedly lands in a parallel world and a blonde unlocks his front door; the Tenth Doctor answers a distress call and finds an old friend on a deserted beach. When an old enemy brings the four of them together, can they save the universe in time to sort out their own timelines?
Notes/Disclaimer: This fic would have been impossible without the encouragement and input of my invaluable beta, unbrokensky. I own nothing, everyone belongs to the BBC and/or Big Finish.
chapter one | chapter two | chapter three | chapter four | chapter five | chapter six | chapter seven | chapter eight | chapter nine | chapter ten | chapter eleven | chapter twelve | chapter thirteen | chapter fourteen | chapter fifteen
Rose immediately decided it wasn’t one of their most well-thought-out plans, but then again, it wasn’t one of their worst, either. And, she admitted, they were regrettably low on resources and assets. Still, it was four against one, unless the Rani was hiding minions in the walls or under the console. There were only so many precautions she could take to prevent them from overpowering her, even with a vast repository of Time Lord technology at her disposal.
Still, she edged closer to the Doctor and slipped her hand back into his, taking comfort in the reassuring feel of his fingers lacing with hers.
“So is there going to be some sort of signal to go?” she whispered after checking to make sure the Rani was still bent over her console.
The Doctor shrugged. “Obviously we wait until she deactivates the energy cell.” He glanced at the other Doctor. “She’ll go for you, don’t you think?”
He nodded slowly. “Probably. Hurt me, hurt us both, since you come after me.”
Rose shook her head slightly. It seemed too simple, too easy. Give her and Charley the sonics and wait while the Rani went for the bigger and stronger pair out of the four of them? Rose was about to open her mouth to express her doubts when a loud warning siren rent the relative quiet of the Rani’s console room.
“All ready,” the Rani said brightly, turning to face her captives. She had some sort of futuristic – in Rose’s mind, anyway – weapon in her right hand, which Rose surmised was some sort of gun or blaster. In her left, she carried a small device Rose assumed controlled the energy cell. She circled just outside the perimeter of the energy cell.
“Now then, Doctor,” she began. “Or should I say Doctors, plural? Regardless, shall we begin? Scientific method requires me to define the question and form a hypothesis, does it not?” She stopped in front of the other Doctor and smiled cruelly. “The question is this: can I reverse the actions you take at some point in your future by which you destroy our entire planet and presumably all of our fellow Time Lords?”
He had turned to face the Rani, so Rose couldn’t see his face, but she could see the way his shoulders had stiffened and he had gone still. She hadn’t wanted him to find out. Even though she knew he could and would have to clear his memory when it was all over, she would have spared him this pain. Especially since she knew there was so little she could do to spare her Doctor the pain. Oh, she could be there and help him to not think about it for a while. But he carried it with him at all times, and she had seen how it affected his judgment – sometimes in good ways, yes, but other times in bad.
“Further,” the Rani continued, “can I reverse those actions despite the time lock you will place on the entirety of our people’s conflict with the Daleks?” She tapped the energy cell device lightly against her chin. “Does that sum it up?”
Rose assumed the other Doctor did little more than grimace at the Rani, since she didn’t hear his smooth voice and the Rani’s smirk grew slightly colder. She moved on, came to a stop in front of Rose and her Doctor. Like the other Doctor had, they turned so that they were facing her, still hand-in-hand.
“I’ve gathered what data I could, from his TARDIS and yours, and I’ve formed my hypothesis for a process that should work. Would you like to hear it?”
The Doctor said nothing, only stared at the Rani, stone-faced. His fingers didn’t so much as twitch against Rose’s.
“As you know, I’ve set up a Vortex loop running from my TARDIS into his, through yours, and back into mine. His TARDIS, from a part of the timeline where Gallifrey still exists, has time energy flowing through it from a part of the timeline where Gallifrey is gone. If my calculations are correct, introducing the two of you into the loop’s energy circuit should add enough stress to the system to break the time lock.” She idly examined her blaster before meeting the Doctor’s cold gaze. “Thoughts?”
Rose thought the Doctor would stay silent, but then again he had been talking nearly non-stop since his regeneration, so perhaps she should have known better.
“I’m going to stop you,” he said, softly and clearly. “The Time War is over. I ended it,” he ground out, every word sounding like a battle to Rose. “I ended it,” he repeated, “and I am not going to let you rob the sacrifices I made, for myself and for the Time Lords, of all their meaning.”
The Rani looked taken aback for a split second, but then she laughed again. “Oh, Doctor.” She took a deep breath. “Always so ready to play the hero, no matter what the cost to you. Or, apparently, to your people.” She tilted her head slightly, gazed at him inquisitively. “You must have your limits. You’re not a god, you’re just a Time Lord. There must be something you’re not willing to sacrifice to save the universe.”
Before the Doctor could respond, the Rani moved, lightning fast. She hit the button that controlled the energy cell, deactivating it. In the same motion, she dropped the device, which then hung from her wrist off a small length of chain, and reached out. Instead of grabbing for the Doctor, however, she grabbed Rose. She pulled at Rose so swiftly and unexpectedly that her hand slipped from the Doctor’s and seemingly before anyone could blink, Rose and the Rani were halfway between the console and where the rest of them stood.
The Rani held Rose in a slightly awkward headlock, the end of her blaster pressed against Rose’s temple. “Or perhaps it’s someone,” she intoned smugly.
“Let her go.”
“Oh!” the Rani exclaimed in a syrupy-sweet voice. “Now that you’ve said that, I guess I’ll have to, won’t I?” She pressed the blaster more firmly against Rose’s temple, causing her to shut her eyes tightly and clench her jaw lest she give in to weakness and cry out or whimper. “I think not,” the Rani added.
“It’s just a suggestion,” the Doctor said, shifting closer to Charley and the other Doctor, hands in his pockets. “Interesting choice of weapon,” he said, his voice going into the rambling tone Rose recognized from the innumerable times he’d been forced to talk his way out of trouble. “Blasters, they’re not the most reliable of things, particularly that model.” He was now mostly in front of Charley, but very close to her. “I prefer my screwdriver,” he continued. “Sonic, of course. The Master had a laser one, did you know? I didn’t like it as much as my sonic. Handy things, sonic screwdrivers.”
He bounced a little from his heels to the balls of his feet and back. Rose wondered what he was up to. His sonic was in her pocket, and the Rani would notice if she tried to use it. Besides, it was currently on the setting for disabling navigation controls, not blaster guns. Then she remembered the other Doctor’s sonic, currently sitting in Charley’s pocket.
“I mean, what other tool can go from putting up shelves to resonating concrete? Do you remember the time I resonated concrete, Rose? Under the Thames? You ended up with gills that day, remember? Granted, I didn’t fix that with my screwdriver, but I do get us out of a lot of scrapes that way.”
Rose smiled a little, and out of the corner of her eye she thought perhaps she saw Charley move, as if she might have slipped something into the Doctor’s pocket.
“Blasters, now, they’ve only ever gotten me into trouble, never out of it. So I don’t particularly care for them, and I’d really appreciate it if you stopped holding that one to Rose’s head.”
“Rose will be fine if you and your other self step over to the console and complete the circuit. If you don’t, or if you try to disable the loop instead of completing it, I’ll shoot this one and then move on to the other.” She nodded in Charley’s direction.
The Doctor squinted, giving the appearance of thinking over his options. “You know, I’ve never been good at either-or directives,” he said conversationally. “I’m always choosing option c. None of the above!”
As he spoke, he pulled out the other Doctor’s sonic and aimed it at the Rani’s blaster. Rose heard it make a quiet click noise, and then there was the faint smell of burnt plastic. The Rani let out a frustrated noise, and Rose took advantage of her distraction to pull out of her hold. Without hesitating, she raced over to the console, stopping at the spot the Doctor had pointed out to her previously. She whipped the sonic screwdriver out of her pocket and aimed it at the console.
While it hummed, she looked up to find the Doctor across the console, busily using the sonic on the Vortex looping equipment. “5894-A, right?” she called out.
“That’s the one!” he replied.
She glanced over at the others and saw that the other Doctor and Charley were each holding on to one of the Rani’s arms tightly, though she was only struggling perfunctorily. The light in her eyes seemed to have dimmed, as if she knew she was beat. Rose looked away from the three of them and concentrated on adjusting the setting on the screwdriver and applying it to the controls.
Suddenly, there was a loud bang from the other side of the console. Alarmed, Rose looked over at the Doctor and gasped. Smoke was pouring from the panels in front of him. “I didn’t do that!” he exclaimed, sounding affronted. He waved his hands around, trying to clear the smoke to get a closer look.
Then they heard the Rani’s low laughter. “Self-destruct mechanism, Doctor. A last resort, in case someone unauthorized tried to corrupt my work.”
“You would rather destroy your TARDIS than be stopped in your mad quest to unleash two paradoxes on the universe?”
“I would,” she said, wrenching herself suddenly from the other Doctor and Charley’s hold. “You can’t stop the self-destruct, Doctor.”
He stared at her, open-mouthed and wide-eyed. “Get in your TARDIS, Doctor,” he said, without looking away from the Rani. “Take Charley and Rose and get ready to leave.”
The other Doctor nodded and took Charley’s hand. He gestured to Rose, inviting her to join them, but she shook her head.
“I’m staying with you, Doctor,” she said firmly.
“No.” She moved then, but went to her Doctor instead of the other. “Go on,” she said to Charley and the other Doctor. “I’ll bring him in a minute.”
They turned and headed into the TARDIS, and Rose concentrated on her Doctor. He was still staring at the Rani. Rose thought of what the Doctor had said about the Master dying in his arms, how broken up he had sounded about being unable to save him, even though the Master had been trying to destroy the Earth. This, she thought, was not going to end well in his head, even if on the whole it did.
“Come with us,” he said to the Rani. “Don’t do this.”
The Rani laughed harshly. “Come with you? Be stuck on your TARDIS like some pet while you ramble about the universe with your precious little human? I don’t think so.”
“We’re the only ones left,” he began, but she cut him off.
“Then finish what you started, Doctor.” She wasn’t laughing now. “You set out to destroy all the other Time Lords. You didn’t quite manage it. Leave me here, and you’ll have finished it.”
The Doctor stared at the Rani wordlessly, his eyes awash in pain. Rose slipped her hands around his elbow and pulled gently.
“Doctor,” she said softly, “we need to leave.”
“Please,” he said to the Rani. But she only shook her head and stared him down.
Rose leaned in and spoke directly into the Doctor’s ear. “Doctor. We need to leave.” She tugged again at his elbow. “I need you to come with me,” she added.
He tore his gaze from the Rani and looked down at Rose helplessly.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “She’s not yours to save. But there are people who are, and they need you to leave.”
There was a loud bang and more smoke began to pour from the console. As if this were some sort of sign or trigger, the Doctor snapped into action, running back towards his counterpart’s TARDIS, Rose at his side. He ushered her inside in front of him and stepped over the threshold after her. As he shut the door, he took one last look at the Rani.
She was smiling at him through the smoke, just as the Master had smiled at him as he died.