Chapter Eleven

That Familiar Face

The thumping had stopped a while ago, but Ashley had lost track of time. She knew it had been a while since she had managed to stop crying, and she had been crying for a long time. She sat against the console, knees tucked up to her chest, and looked at the man lying motionless on the floor. Behind her, the TARDIS hummed. It seemed quieter now, and the console room seemed darker. Almost like it was turning itself off.

Would make sense. The Doctor dies – the TARDIS dies.

It pretty much left her in the lurch. She could risk going outside and facing whoever had been trying to kick the door down for so long, but by the sounds of it – and the feel of it, the TARDIS had been loaded onto one of their ships. She would step out there and probably be face to face with Timothy Crowe.

Maybe it was inevitable now? Perhaps it had always been inevitable.

Ashley closed her eyes. No, she couldn't just leave the Doctor and the TARDIS behind to become nothing. She refused to believe something so magnificent, and someone so magnificent, could come to an end so quickly. To just… stop.

But it had happened. She had killed the Doctor. She had practically committed genocide. Ashley Chambers, an ex-barmaid from a crappy town on Earth had just killed the last Time Lord in existence.

She put her hands to her face but didn't cry. She couldn't cry anymore.

After a moment, she stood up and moved towards the Doctor. She stood over him for and regarded him. His unfamiliar short hair, his strange face. She wished that she could have seen her Doctor one last time. She wished she could have apologised, and thanked him. It might have ended badly, but he had shown her things she would never have dreamed of seeing. He hadn't just shown her the universe, he had shown her how to live.

Well, until she killed him.

She knelt down, feeling fresh tears on her cheeks, and gently put his arms by his sides. She looked at him for a moment longer, and then leaned forward, kissing him on his forehead. She wanted to say something, have something important to say to him. Something meaningful. But as usual, she had nothing. Nothing intelligent, important or meaningful. He could have just left her after that incident on the submarine. He should have seen this coming.

Ashley wiped her eyes and stood up, turning her gaze towards the doors. Without a word, she headed towards them, brushing her hair back from her face. She put her hand on the catch, and closed her eyes to brace herself for what waited on the other side.

The lights in the TARDIS suddenly grew brighter like floodlights coming on. Ashley looked around, squinting through the sudden brightness. The blue column was glowing magnificently. It began to hum loudly, and everything around her seemed to be vibrating. Ashley's eyes widened and her mouth opened as everything started to come back to life – the actual console seemed to glow. She had never seen it like this in her whole time of travelling with the Doctor, but she knew what was happening.

'Yes!' she cried, bounding forward. 'Yes! Go on, you can do it!'

She looked to the Doctor, her heart practically leaping up her throat as she saw his hands and face begin to shine. It was beautiful; a stunning, glittering orange light. It seemed to be running through his veins. The TARDIS's hum had upped itself to a low roar. Ashley started towards the Doctor, but then the glowing veins brightened into a blinding orange light. Dazzled, she stumbled back into the coral beam behind her and shielded her eyes. She could feel the warmth all around her and her ears were filled with the sounds of the TARDIS and another, deeper sound that she couldn't quite distinguish. It lasted for a few seconds, and then the light vanished.

Ashley blinked away the glaring spots and stumbled towards the Doctor. She dropped beside him and almost screamed with relief when she saw that familiar face. She grabbed his hand, once again crying.

'I knew you could do it!' she cried. 'I knew you could!'

He didn't move. His continued state of motionless made that relief wash away again and she frowned deeply. But before she could start to panic again, his eyes shot open and he drew in a long, heavy breath, grabbing her arms and shoulders. She cried out in alarm, but got a hold of him.

'It's okay!' she told him, laughing and crying at the same time. 'You're okay!'

The Doctor looked around with wide, confused eyes. Finally, his gaze fell on her and he blinked, his skin still practically white. He gawped at her, and then gasped again. Ashley laughed shrilly and pulled him into a tight hug. She squeezed him, unaware of just how tightly she was squeezing him, and sobbed into his shoulder. 'I thought you were gone!' she wailed. 'I'm so sorry! I'm so, so sorry!'

'You know what we need?' the Doctor said as she let go of him. 'Party poppers.'

Ashley helped him to sit up and frowned in confusion. 'What?'

He nodded, eyes still taking in everything at once. 'Yup, party poppers. And balloons. And canapés. And then we can go out there and throw her one hell of a party, yup a party she'll never forget.'

Ashley frowned. 'Um… what?'

The Doctor got to his feet, looking strange in the black jumper and leather jacket that were too big for him. He stumbled a little, and then blinked. 'Maybe a nice turtle neck… nah, it's a bit hot for that.'

Ashley stared at him warily, not sure what was happening. 'Um… Doctor, what are you…?'

'Party hats!' he cried suddenly. 'Everyone needs party hats! And lucky bags! Oooh we can put the party poppers in the lucky bags! It'll be fantastic!'

'Doctor!' Ashley yelled, the stress of everything still heavy on her shoulders. 'What are you talking about?'

He looked at her like she were mad and stuck his hands out. 'It's Cleo's birthday!' he cried. 'You haven't forgotten Cleopatra's birthday, have you? She won't be happy with that.'

He bounded past her towards the doors, still stumbling like a drunk. Ashley watched him in confusion for a moment, until she realised he was heading for the doors. She ran after him.

'No! Don't open the doors!' she cried.

The Doctor hauled them open, ignoring her, and dived out. He threw his hands up in the air. 'Happy birthday!' he yelled to the lines of armed soldiers who were waiting on the other side and then his eyes rolled back and he fell to the floor, unconscious.

Ashley ran out after him, kneeling beside him to check he was okay. She glanced around at the armed soldiers, and then looked around at her surroundings. The room was large and the ceiling high, with dusty strip lights running in rows. About three-dozen soldiers stood with their large guns trained on her and the Doctor. She recognised their uniforms, and knew immediately that they were Zed-Heads.

Slow, sharp clapping suddenly interrupted the silence, and the soldiers began to part. Ashley scowled and watched as a figure emerged between the men. He looked just like he had done before, smart suit, broad grin – only one side of his face was scarred and nothing more than a layer of pink skin over his skull and jaw.

'Wonderful entrance,' Timothy Crowe beamed. 'I don't think I could have done better myself.' He smiled warmly, but his eyes were like two shards of ice. 'Now, how about we go and have a nice chat? You can walk along with me, or I can have my men shoot you in the legs and I'll drag you along. You'll walk? Brilliant.' He held an arm out to her. 'We have a lot to catch up on.'

TBC...


A/N: WHOOO PARTAY! The Doctor loves a good party, hence his poor regenerated head thinking it's time for a party when it really isn't... Anywho, I hope you enjoyed that one. It was a lot like Into The Deep, just a bit more... urm... psycho? Hmm, something like that anyway.

Oh mah gad I can't believe I've only one one more story of this series left! Whooo it only seems like yesterday I was sitting finishing off episode 4 and thinking I'll never get to episode 13 xD Well as always, thank you to everyone who has been reading/reviewing or just enjoying my stories! Makes me very happy, yup yup. So... finale next :o Now you can find out what big secret the Doctor has been hiding all this time (and hopefully he's realised it's not Cleopatra's birthday P:) I'd give you the title but... well, I'm not. Because I haven't decided on it yet LOL!