He was the Doctor. Nobody was telling him otherwise. Nobody. Yeah, he wasn't really the Doctor. He was a fake, really, but… he was the Doctor. He was, and here he was, saving the day. Like he always had, like he always would.
"You!" the Master snarled. "You're not meant to be here!"
"Well, that isn't strictly true," the Doctor smiled. "He can be here if he so chooses."
"Why thank you," the Eleventh Doctor smiled. He was dressed, as usual, in shirt, jumper, checked trousers and frock coat. His smile faded, and he looked at the Master closely. "You seem to have changed a little…"
"Not that much," the Master grinned. "I'm still me… I'm always me. Whereas you are… well, what can I say?"
"Handsome and dashing?" the Eleventh Doctor smiled. "And victorious, I might add."
"You haven't even done anything," the Master snarled again. He held up his hand and flicked his middle finger. Then he tried again. The Doctor – both of them – smiled.
"How did you block that?" he said, confused. "How did you…?"
"One thing that I did do during my time," the Eleventh Doctor smiled, "was learn how to use the Psionic energy. I can stop any fight that you try to instigate."
"Well, you can't block this," the Master snarled, aiming his laser screwdriver, but the Doctor flicked his hand and the screwdriver fell away.
The Master snarled again, and held out his hands.
"Die!" he yelled, heading for the Eleventh Doctor, who held up his own arms… and then, a blue light began building around the room, emanating from the Doctor and the Master, covering more and more of the building.
"Get out of here!" the Eleventh Doctor yelled. The Master stepped back for a moment, and glanced at his hands, before turning to Luna.
"Get out of here!" he yelled to her. "Go!"
The Tenth Doctor and Luna ran out of the room, but as he tried to grab her, she ran off and Disapparated. The Tenth Doctor swore and ran off towards what he hoped was Donna's locale.
Donna ran as fast as she could remember. She prayed that the Doctor would be all right.. but she heard the screaming. She heard the yells.
"Donna!" someone called. She turned to see Hermione Granger, running towards her, smiling.
Before the younger woman could say anything, Donna slapped her across the face.
"You bitch!" she swore. "You turn on the Doctor, and then you're smiling at me?!"
"We were hypnotised," Hermione said. "Ron and Harry went to get more guards, but I wanted to find you."
"Why?" Donna asked, suspicious.
"Because I wanted to say sorry," she said. "For getting you into this. For betraying you and the Doctor."
"Well," the Doctor said, coming up behind them, grinning. "What can I say? People have been hypnotised by the Master before."
"Doctor!" Hermione smiled. He ignored her and concentrated on Donna.
"We need to get out of here," he said. "All of us," he added, looking at Hermione. "Because, if what I think is going to happen is, this entire building is doomed."
"What is going to happen?" Hermione asked.
"The Master is fighting someone who needs to kill himself to kill the Master," the Doctor said, grimly. "The battle will cost the D – this other man, his life."
The blue light shone, and shone. They fought, as they always would, as they always had. As perhaps, they always would. Even if it wasn't him.
"You can't beat me!" the Master yelled.
"I can, and I will!" the Eleventh Doctor screamed back. "I'll never let you win!"
"You won't survive this," the Master said in his own head. "You'll die with me."
"But there's another me," the Doctor replied silently. "I might die, but I will live on. If you get what I mean."
"No I don't," the Master said. "You as an individual being will die. But frankly, why should I care?"
"Because you'll die too?" the Doctor almost smiled.
"That might be true," the Master considered. "But… you will."
"You forget," the Doctor smiled. "I always knew that I would die saving this planet."
"Did you know it was me you'd be saving it from?" the Master asked.
"No," the Doctor said, "but I had my suspicions."
The light continued to grow in intensity…
"Doctor, everyone is out," Hermione said.
He was staring down the corridor. He knew that something was up, and that the building was about to die.
He turned around and faced the TARDIS. Donna was safely inside, and so was Hermione. The others were out. This building was doomed. They were doomed. The Master and the Eleventh Doctor.
Hope it's a good death.
That was what he had said to Rose all those years ago.
"Yes," he said to himself. "The good death."
This was it, at long last. He had waited so long, and he was not there to live the death.
"Doctor!" Donna's voice called. "Come on!"
He waited one moment longer. He looked at the TARDIS. He looked back down the corridor.
"Times up," he said.
He ran into the TARDIS.
They would always attribute the destruction of the building to a gas leak. No one was hurt, fortunately.
The Doctor flicked a switch, and looked at the scanner. The explosion was, as he had expected, huge.
"Doctor – who was the man who fought the Master?" Hermione asked.
"No one you knew," the Doctor replied. "No one."
"Try again," Donna said.
He looked at Donna, then at Hermione.
"Eleven," he said. "That's who it was."
Hermione's eyes widened in comprehension, then tears formed. She had known the Eleventh Doctor. She regretted his death.
"Once more the world is safe," the Doctor said, smiling.
Hermione sat down. He stopped smiling, and flicked another switch. The TARDIS materialised.
"Out there," he said, "is your home. Go home."
She looked at him.
"Will this happen again?" she asked. He looked at her, and smiled.
"No," he said. "I promise you, this is the last time I'll see you. The last time you'll need me."
Hermione nodded. Then she opened her mouth to say, sorry, that she had ever doubted the Doctor, that she had mistrusted him, that she was grateful…
Instead, all she said was, "thank you".
He nodded, and then she ran out of the door.
Hermione hugged Ron, and he stroked her hair.
"What happened?" Harry asked.
"He's not coming back," Hermione said. "Ever."
"To this planet?" Ron asked.
"To us," Hermione said. "Ever."
"Did you say sorry?" Ron asked.
"No," Hermione sobbed. "I… I couldn't… I want to. Oh, how I want to…"
"Then, we are alone," Harry said, looking as the blue box vanished. "Alone against the dark."
"No," Hermione said, looking up as well. Ron did too.
"He'll come back one day," Hermione said. "To this world. When we need him."
"One day," Harry said. "And we'll be waiting. Come on, guys."
They walked off.
In the rubble and wreckage, once again, a ring lay among ashes. Its design was such that it didn't even heat up when the building exploded.
And once again, a woman's hand descended upon it.
And once again, the mad laughter of a man thought dead came upon the world.
And once again, the hand lifted the ring away.
The Doctor smiled and flicked another switch.
"Where to now?" he asked Donna.
"I don't know," she said truthfully. "After all of this… I dunno what we should do, where we should go."
"Neither do I," he said, looking utterly lost for a moment. "I thought I could trust them."
"I know," she said.
"Still," he said, "I bet you know we should relax, so, where better than your granddads hill?"
She smiled, and he smiled, and then he pulled a lever, and the TARDIS was off again, on the never-ending adventure…