Standard disclaimers apply. Thanks once again to Rosesbud for corrections, suggestions and generally helping me think (sorry, all straw up there). So this is it… last story in the saga (can I call it that without sounding pretentious?). You guys have been awesomes, sticking with me for this long, and thank you for all the feedback. It is always so appreciated when people take the time to say hey : )
Being in a place devoid of both space and time was a bit disarming to the senses. There existed no future, no past, no possibilities—just the moment. It lacked anything to grab on to, any points of reference to orient oneself. It was nothing. It was the Void.
It caused the mind to wander.
Violet's few experiments with the 'other TARDIS,' as it had always been referred to, had ended in moderate success; she'd gotten home alive, after all. It was the middle parts of the journey that had been a total flaming, flying disaster every time.
One time, the Doctor had been with her, and they ended up at the very beginning of the universe, when they were only trying to skip back two weeks. It had taken them a week to get back to where they started out. Another time she'd ended up meeting a rather old and grumpy version of the Doctor who'd been utterly annoyed that someone without a degree and obviously little training was roaming around time and space in a semi-functional ship that wasn't fully grown.
There'd been dinosaurs another time, and she found out just how durable the exterior of a TARDIS could be, and the exact sound a T-Rex tooth makes when it's snapping painfully down the middle. That hadn't been too hard to get back from, though it had caused emotional torture because she was forced to hard wire a huge hunk of quartz in to the time controls to get him going again. She tried to keep the console neat and tidy, and that had been messy and aesthetically maddening.
Her least favourite failed trip with the TARDIS (somehow it could handle space, but time caused things to blow up and power down in the worst ways) had also involved another incarnation of the Doctor.
Ok, the old guy was a stick in the mud of staggering proportions. But this other one…
First of all, she'd been trying to go forward in time, but the ship just couldn't handle it. She ended up flung a miniscule amount backwards, floating out in space, all the time circuits completely dead, not to mention entirely unsure what to do about it. First project was to find a planet with technology. Fortunately the space controls were functioning.
After determining that she wasn't smart enough to fix it on her own (this took a week and a half of frustrating trial and error, coupled with scouring every manual and book on board the ship), she decided to bite the bullet, as it were, and ask for help. Which meant figuring out what time she was in and finding the Doctor. It wasn't that she was paradox-happy, it was just that she didn't want to be trapped in whatever lame time she'd found herself forever.
Of course, because she didn't have any luck at all (good thing she was decent at maths, otherwise she'd have been in a world of trouble, with the situations she often found herself in), she was in the very near past, and the Doctor was travelling with her mother.
It caused her physical pain in the pit of her stomach when she saw them—the temptation was to run up and throw herself into her mother's arms. She couldn't remember missing her mum quite so much as when she'd seen her, window shopping with some tall, annoying man who looked like he really didn't want to be there. She could see her mum, but she couldn't touch, and it nearly killed her. It had helped, though, that this Doctor was quite miserable to be around. It at least made her want to limit contact.
Took her another three days to get him alone, six lies and two mind-blocks to get around completely having to explain who she was and where she'd come from (apparently this version of him—odious man—didn't take 'I could tell you, but then you'd know, and that'd be a paradox, and my text books say I'm not allowed to create those...' for an answer easily).
Then there was the painful part where he squinted and said that he remembered her, and was she STILL mucking about in time and space without the proper qualifications? Couldn't she just go home and behave herself?
She'd never really gotten into screaming matches with her Doctor. Ok, once or twice, usually over something stupid, but she was so angry with this Doctor that she'd glared at him, arms folded over her chest, grumbling "yeah, like you've always done everything you were told. Mister 'Stolen TARDIS, oh no one will miss a boosted model 40,' so just get off it." It had shut him up though.
It took another two days after that to fix the thing. He acted putout and utterly annoyed with her mere existence the entire time while he was helping her—explaining everything she'd done wrong and criticizing her lack of improvisation with the broken parts. There was no point in trying to repair things that obviously were past their lifespan, so wouldn't she just be a good girl and take this ship to a proper repair yard after this, and leave him alone?
You'd think he'd be happy, that he wasn't going to be alone forever, but she got the impression it was because he was convinced she was only there due to some time anomaly, and she was from some point in his past. It was odd—the lack of proper parts for replacements should have tipped him off, and that she was there at all—had she been around during the Time Wars, she should have blipped out of existence, and they'd never have had that lovely two days together. It was wrong of her, but sometimes she hoped that that version of the Doctor had died a painful death.
Apparently, her being in need of HIS help meant that it was open season on Violet. She'd tried to just take it with a stiff upper lip, but this really was the point where she'd stomp off in a huff with anyone else, including her Doctor—whom she did demand an apology from, once she finally got back home.
He found her Earth clothes, black jeans and a dark green hoodie depressing, and an awful disguise when coupled with her Rasteran custom-made boots and a bandana that was really a cutup of an Aglofic silk scarf. She should really pay attention to the local attire better if she insisted on wandering about the universe without proper certifications.
She wondered aloud how many helpless cows had to die for the sake of his hideous submarine captain knock-off coat and combat boots.
He asked if she'd been thinking about that when she'd eaten that chicken salad sandwich for lunch. She said that cows were like dolphins—too cute to eat, but conceded that tuna tasted better before it was dolphin-safe.
At this point the Doctor had gone back to hard-wiring a toaster (which made the veins in her forehead throb—probably further convincing him that she was an anal-retentive Gallifreyan who didn't deal well with change but was testing out the whole rebellious teenager thing none-the-less) into the time relays in the floor, trying not to smile. See, she wasn't so bad, after all.
Things had been a touch better than that. Or at least quieter. She had no idea how or why her mother would travel with someone so…impossible. And tetchy. Did she mention tetchy? Gave her a whole new perspective and appreciation for her Doctor. He could be annoying with rules and such, but at least he wasn't… grrr all the time. Or manic. Violet had mentioned later on to her Doctor that his previous self had really been in need of medication. He'd just done that thing where he gave a knowing smile and mashed the hair around on her head with his affectionate rubbing, explaining that he'd been 'going through some things,' whatever that meant.
So, anyways. That was the sordid tale of her adventures in trying to actually make that other TARDIS work. The thing couldn't travel in time for anything, but darn it, the chameleon circuit worked. She was growing fond of the ugly pewter urn exterior, but was pleased that it could disguise itself quite well when she asked nicely. Violet didn't exactly have a bond with the ship, in the way the Doctor had with his big blue box, but it sort of obeyed her, now and again. And it listened to her complain, which was something to be said for him, her temperamental TARDIS that still seemed to be going through some sort of adolescence.
He wasn't fully grown, that was for sure. The largest exterior he could manage was the urn shape. The number of rooms fluctuated, but it was usually somewhere in the low twenties. When she was fourteen, the Doctor told her that they'd grow together, if it was any consolation. But then he'd ruffled her hair and laughed, saying if she was less cantankerous then maybe the ship would be too.
Nine years she'd worked on that ship…and it still couldn't manage time travel without explosions and drama. Of course, the Doctor had given up on the chameleon circuit in his ship after about five hundred years of tinkering. How annoying to work on something so long and see no results.
Somewhere back when she was sitting at Greg's desk, trying to find a path through the Void, she figured out why the thing was broken—it was truly from the other universe having trouble drawing energy in this universe. Apparently thanks to the parts and modifications contributed by the Doctor in the early stages of the repair, it had enough materials from his universe to handle simple space calculations. Anything other than that usually ended in some level of disaster.
What did that have to do with the Void? She had no idea. It was, however, the only thing her mind could manage to latch onto. She knew how to get the urn working again.
Didn't help her get out of the Void, though. She knew where her end-point was, but she had no path for getting there. It was like free falling and being smothered, in the same instant. She was cold, but every nerve was on fire. There was nothing. Light, hope, love… even the memory of warm summer days was forbidden here. Did she think she could step into this, and find her way out? Did she think that the actions of one girl who couldn't even reach the top shelf in the kitchen cupboards and who (depressingly) still didn't need a training bra could actually pass between universes without… a miracle?
She wondered if she would die here.
Worse yet—she wondered if she would exist here for all eternity. No wonder her mother's people called it Hell.
They all just kind of stood around, the four of them staring at the glowing field of light and energy. Jack watched a timer on one of the generators tick down as its power drained. Before it lost all of its stores, and thereby the ability to recharge itself, he shut down one and gestured for Toshiko to power down the other.
Greg watched the field dissolve into nothingness and the lights on the device go dim, leaving the room in twilight. "So what do we do?" he asked quietly, then looked away guiltily. "I should have gone with her. To hell with what she said—I should have gone with her."
The woman with the long black hair—Gwen if he was remembering her name right (he was rubbish with names), put a hand on his shoulder, rubbing gently. "She's doing what she thinks she has to. With going, and with keeping you safe."
He looked both to Jack and Toshiko. "Is there a way we can open it back up? Maybe I can follow--"
Smoothing out the wrinkles in her white short-sleeved jumper, Toshiko folded her arms over her chest. "Not for at least two hours. Even then, the generators won't be recharged to capacity."
Hands in his pocket, Jack joined the other three in staring down at the dead device, listening to the fans on the server hum a deafening white noise. "Runs on the trans-dimensional radiation spewed out by the Rift. They recharge pretty fast, but even they need some time. Lets just see if she can do this on her own. She has her phone. She can call if she needs to."
The boy despised Captain Jack his ability to be calm. Greg had gone on earlier about how she was a Time Lady, with command over the five dimensions; therefore she had nothing to worry about. Well, maybe she didn't, but he did. She was just a kid, and she was running off into danger with no one to get her out. Sure, he'd been the one most in need of rescue the last year or so, but he couldn't imagine going off into something like that alone. "I—there was something I didn't tell her."
Gwen and Jack looked at each other, having some kind of conversation with their eyes. Her eyes grew wide, like she was yelling at him to do something. Finally, Jack pulled his hands out of his pockets. "Tosh, why don't you and Gwen go back to the office. We need someone to check all the satellites and censors, and make sure nothing's happened with the Rift and nothing frightening and with a plunger on the end has snuck through from the Void. I have a few gadgets of mine that I need to dig out of this mess," he gestured to the bed full of cables and pipes and wires. "I'll stick around, make sure no other calls come through."
The two women left, and Jack was left in the dark with the forlorn looking young man. Jack flipped on the lamp next to the roommate's bed. The room filled with but a handful of glorious watts—it was like lighting a birthday candle in a cavern. But at least he wouldn't trip over anything in the mean time. "So. You just figured it out."
The young man's brown eyes slowly rose to meet his. "Figured what out? That I'm an idiot?" Running a hand through his dark hair, he bent over to pick up the juice box off the floor. Grabbing the used napkin, he crinkled it, but didn't throw either away.
Casually, Jack began shutting off the monitors. "That you like her as more than a friend."
Despite the kid's dark coloring, he blushed. "I don't know. First of all, I'm nineteen, she's sixteen. That's…well, lets put it this way—the Doctor said if I even thought about it, I'd find myself inside of an active volcano." He clenched his eyes shut. "But when she asked if I was ready to never see my mum ever again, I was ready to say I'd take that chance for her."
Jack tried to think up some consoling words, but was fresh out. This was probably the most confusing and potentially traumatic moment of the kid's young little life. Oh, to be that young and stupid again. Well, Jack had been that young once. He couldn't remember being quite so stupid. Not by that age.
It was sad, it was wretched, and Jack couldn't help but empathize. After all, a good bit of the stupid things that people did revolved around…Jack wanted to say sex, but these two pathetic hearts had 'pure as the driven snow' written across their foreheads in silver Sharpee. "You'll have your chance. Maybe you're not giving her enough credit."
Ok, now Jack was being…pathetic. He was actually consoling the young and tragically angst-filled. What he really wanted to say was 'welcome to Heartbreak, give it one or two more tries and you'll be living in the moment too.' But instead, he lied to the poor sod—basically saying it'd all work out in the end. The girl said she was 'going home.' Even if she managed to not get herself killed or trapped, she didn't have any intention of coming back.
Maybe Jack should just consider the perpetuated delusion his good deed for the day.
It was self-evident why the ultimate end game of Torchwood was not the Doctor, and why they wouldn't even accept him as a consolation prize. They didn't expect him to cooperate.
The heavy shackles on his hands and feet and the thick psychic dampening collar around his neck was about all that he needed to take the hint. And they'd lost interest in torturing him around the time that Rose had escaped into the TARDIS. At this point—he was just along for the ride. Of course, that didn't make his shoulder feel any better, or the swollen wounds on the side of his head. It also only served to increase his worry for Violet.
There was no chair in this small cell. It was more like a cement box with a door on one end. He sat on the floor, attempting to figure out a way out of the Houdini setup.
Rose had screamed out for the girl not to do whatever she'd apparently got it in her head to try. Which was really just an open invitation to for the girl to do it larger, louder and more obnoxiously than before.
Now that he had a few minutes without new pains being inflicted upon his person, he was beginning to wrap his mind around it. This was an awful lot of work and an awful lot of trouble for an organization to go to for one girl.
Granted—at this point, Violet would appear to be malleable to them. There was no way in the universe that the Doctor would do Torchwood's bidding, but they had a chance with Violet. But there had to be something more. They'd been playing this game for years—why the sudden raise in the stakes?
Something had happened. Something had gone wrong. Probably something that their tiny little minds should have anticipated but hadn't. Possibilities flew through his mind, none of them even a tiny bit pleasant.
Besides needing to get out of here, he needed to find the head of the dragon. This operation was professional, but not strategically considered. It wasn't as if there'd been some kind of board meeting where this course of action was plotted out and considered at length. There was a single person driving this entire mess. Chopping off the head would leave the dragon unable to breath fire.
When the door to the cell opened and a shadowy figure entered, weapon in hand, the Doctor realized he'd have the opportunity for answers a bit sooner than he'd been anticipating. The silhouette took another step forward, eyes meeting the Doctor's as the shadow across the face disappeared. Oh, he probably should have figured. He hadn't, of course, but it should have been far more obvious to his vast intellect than it had been.
Nothing could ever be straightforward, could it?