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Chapter Nine: Undo
The Time Lord and the human girl ran through the trees as breakneck speed, followed by the armed Vatarian children. On and on they ran, circling across the island, passing the confused crowd on the beach several times in a matter of minutes due to how time had warped. Eventually the Doctor stopped, suddenly and abruptly, and Rose cannoned into his back. He hurriedly passed her the screwdriver.
"Go back to the Zenith, to the control panel. There'll be a hatch that can be unscrewed. Inside you'll see some crystals; rearrange them from left to right, blue-green-gold-yellow-red. If nothing happens try blue-yellow-gold-red-green. Then get out of there, get back to the TARDIS."
They could hear the Vatarians gaining on them. They didn't have long.
"Blue-green... uh... right. What'll that do?" Rose asked, clutching the not-so-sonic-screwdriver for dear life.
"It'll reboot the Zenith's engines and they can go on their merry way. Go quickly!"
"What about all the people on the beach?"
"Everything should reset back to how it was before they arrived; everyone should go back to their journeys with no memory of this place. One big 'undo'. Now HURRY UP!"
The Vatarians appeared through the foliage, their weapons raised. The Doctor pushed Rose off into the trees and began waving his arms above his head.
"Oi, kiddies, this way, look, I'm the clever one, I'm the saboteur, follow me!"
He dashed off in the opposite direction to Rose, luring the Vatarians away from the Zenith. Rose felt the need to argue the Doctor's statement that he was 'the clever one', but he'd already vanished. She hurriedly headed for the Zenith, trying to remember the order she was supposed to put the crystals in.
"Blue-green-red-yellow-gold? Red-blue-green-yellow... oh I have no idea!" she muttered to herself.
She found the Zenith quickly, and saw the panel that the Doctor had left open. She stooped down and peered inside, and sure enough, there was the hatch she was supposed to remove. She set to work removing the unusual screws, every now and then hearing the Doctor somewhere in the forest screaming insults at the Vatarians at the top of his voice.
Here they were. The crystals. Red-blue-yellow-green-gold? Blue-green-red-yellow-gold? Green-red-yellow-gold-blue?
The Doctor had to stop for breath, he couldn't run anymore. The two Vatarian children appeared in front of him with their weapons ready, and the Doctor tried to put his hands in the air, but wincing he had to rest his hands on his knees.
"Ow ow ow! Stitch!" he complained. He looked up at the two confused children. "Don't you ever need to rest?"
"Our bodies do not need these gasses to survive," one of them said blandly.
The Doctor nodded, still panting. "No, I forgot, you don't breathe... You're really missing out."
One of the children stepped forward, brandishing its weapon. "Required: Explanation. Reason for sabotage."
"I wasn't sabotaging anything, I was fixing your pod for you!"
The children ignored him. "You will provide your knowledge so we can fix our pod."
"I just told you, I was doing it for you!" the Doctor yelled. "Some thanks this is!"
The children seemed to hesitate. "It's broken. You cannot fix it. We want to fix it."
The Time Lord was struck by just how childlike they sounded. He was about to offer them his services again, when an almighty clunk resounded through the trees, followed by the whirring of non-terrestrial energy. The Vatarians turned to look through the trees to where the Zenith was; they couldn't see it, but it was clearly working again.
That's my girl, the Doctor thought fondly.
"The Zenith is working. We can leave," the Vatarians screeched inexpressively. They turned tail and headed back through the forest.
Suddenly the ground began to shake, and a roaring like a thousand angry Judoon encompassed the island. Through the din, the Doctor heard the TARDIS's cloister bell chime mournfully, as if calling out to him. He charged through the forest with renewed vitality towards his beloved time machine, the soil and bracken underfoot changing to soft pillowing sand as he reached the beach. He saw the fearful looks on the faces of the people at the camp, of Rebeccah and Joseph, as the reality around them began to unravel, and things began disappearing – books, tents, people. Going back to their own times, back to their journeys, the Doctor thought as he dashed inside the police box.
The TARDIS had rebooted herself, and now that the Vatarians weren't taking the time energy, she worked just fine. The Doctor beamed at the console, joyfully flicking switches and pulling levers until he was certain that everything was stable enough for them to leave.
Rose wasn't back yet. He had specifically told her to get back to the TARDIS as soon as she'd finished. Panic rising in his hearts, he rushed towards the door, but was beaten back by a swirling vortex of entropy, sand, trees, ocean and debris, all rising and colliding and vanishing as, far off in the distance, the dark outline of the Zenith could be seen making its way skyward.
"Rose!" he screamed, trying once again to get out of the doorway. He couldn't get out. He couldn't get to her.
He rushed back to the console. He tried to extend the shielding further so he could stand outside safely, but as he left the doorway the door slammed shut. He pulled at the door. It was stuck. He couldn't get to her.
An almighty crash told him what he already knew – the Bermuda Triangle had disappeared.
He stopped. There was nothing he could do. It didn't exist anymore. It likely never existed now. He couldn't get her back.
He fell to his knees, a blank heartbreak set on his features. She'd saved them all. All the people trapped there. She'd freed the Vatarian children. Because he told her to.
He'd told her to go and fix the Zenith. He'd tried to keep her away from the guns, to keep her safe. Safer. It hadn't worked. She'd listened to him. She always listened to him.
He ran a hand over his face, and stood, going to the console to confirm what he knew. Sure enough, the Bermuda Triangle was no more. No strange readings, no warped time or space. Just ocean.
How had this happened? One little trip, an innocent visit to the Caribbean, that's what he'd thought. Of course it hadn't worked. Of course it had gone wrong. It always did. Why did he think he could keep her safe?
All those people from the beach would go back to their lives unaware of what had happened to them, oblivious to the fact that they'd been saved by a girl from London. He tried to take a deep, steadying breath, but it didn't work.
They'd all gone back to their lives.
They'd all gone back.
A thought, a tiny sparkle of a thought wormed its way to the forefront of the Doctor's mind.
They'd all gone back. Had they all gone back?
He turned on his heels, and sped deeper into the TARDIS, rushing through corridors, trying to find the familiar green door. He couldn't see it, and he cursed the TARDIS for playing games with him – although he knew the poor old girl was probably just trying to recalibrate and realign her systems.
If everything had been reset, if everyone had been sent back, did that mean...?
He found the door he was looking for, and burst into the room. The kitchen.
Rose Tyler turned and frowned at the Doctor's manic entry, a mug of tea at her lips. "What's up with you?" she asked.
The Doctor's hearts were pounding in his ears. She was back. He rushed over to her and wrapped her in a furious hug, making her drop her tea.
"You're back," he murmured into her hair. "You're back, you're back, you're back..."
Rose hugged him back, completely confused. "What's going on? I haven't been anywhere."
She had been sent back, just like the others. Sent back to go on with her journey as normal. The Doctor silently thanked anyone who would listen for making everything work out, just this once.
He pulled back, and tried to grin convincingly at her. "Nothing's wrong. Everything's fine. Brilliant. Just brilliant."
Rose didn't look convinced, but she smiled at him anyway and bent down to pick up the remains of her shattered mug. "That was my favourite mug, you owe me."
The Doctor nodded enthusiastically. "Yes I do, I do, I owe you big time, enormous time," he rambled. "Anything you want, anything at all!"
Rose grinned at him. "Okay, can we get some sun? I've always wanted to go to the Caribbean."
A/N: Thank you so much for reading.
The 'swirling vortex of entropy' quote isn't mine, and if you know where it's from then I love you.