Epilogue: Full Circle
He never have employed this kind of power, but he couldn't help himself.
Forgotten by Time Lords millennia in the past, the Doctor had inadvertently discovered this use of the Vortex (of Time itself) during the Time War, had learned how to destroy and erase, how to turn the Time Vortex against anything in creation, even itself. Intellectually, he knew better–but the Bad Wolf was such an amazing source of power. The Vortex Rose Tyler had once so innocently drawn into herself was now light and power and control in his hands. It fought him, but confronted by his own power, the Vortex gave in.
Wind whipped wildly; he'd not thought it would be this strong. She was screaming and the room around them was going golden, but the Valeyard hardly noticed.
Simple human protests were unimportant. His hands were steady and his thoughts were clear as he reached for her mind. A few simple adjustments, and Rose would be his, his alone.
Had someone asked him an hour ago if he wanted her with him, the Valeyard would have shrugged. However, a sudden surge of possessiveness had seized him when she'd turned to leave. As unexpected as it was frightening, the simple need was inescapable, and he could not bear the thought of traveling the stars without Rose in his TARDIS.
He didn't care if she was willing. The Valeyard just needed her by his side.
The power in her was rising, but so was his. He hardly noticed the wind growing stronger and stronger, just concentrated on pushing into her mind and cementing his hold upon her. The Bad Wolf made it difficult, but if he could tweak that power just enough–
A warning ticked at the edge of his consciousness. Even a full Time Lord would be nearly overpowered by what he was controlling, but the Valeyard couldn't care. Sudden, different, power rose to meet him, and he reached out for that, too, greedy to breathe in everything he–
The world shook. Universes trembled. Time held her breath and waited–the moment held forever, forever of a type even a mostly-Time Lord could not comprehend. I'm doing it. I'm winning. This is my moment!
Something tore Rose from his hands.
A hand–the left one, not the one they had in common–planted on his chest and pushed. Time collapsed into a tunnel around them, and suddenly the Valeyard was looking into the cold brown eyes of a man physically identical to himself, but oh so different in the end. This was a full Time Lord, in body and mind, the rebel who'd actually discovered the ancient and genetic link to the Vortex, the man who could have easily set himself up as a god if ever he felt the inclination.
Power tore from his hands; the golden light whirled around and suddenly turned against the Valeyard: the Bad Wolf joined with the Doctor, no longer frightened. No longer cowed. Rose didn't know yet, but she would.
The Valeyard looked into the storm and fled. Stumbled backwards, never daring to take his eyes off of the original–weaker!–self. Groping blindly, his hands found his unfinished TARDIS, and he fell backwards into her as the Doctor releasedthe power the Valeyard had gathered to himself, letting it rush forward with deadly suddenness.
"One warning," the other said softly, his face dark. "That's all you get."
The tunnel collapsed; their isolation from normal time ceased. The whirlwind was going wild; the Doctor turning and running from the room without so much as a backward look, his right hand tight in Rose's left. She'd not noticed the exchange, couldn't have; time for her had never slowed. He only had moments to act–probably less than two-and-a-quarter seconds–so the Valeyard threw caution and forethought to the wind. Instinct guided his hands to the console, and they flew over the mostly-finished controls.
Power had ignited something. The room outside his TARDIS was collapsing in on itself and expanding at the same time: a classic case of a time-warped-bomb in the making. The Valeyard hardly had time to blink–
The room exploded, but his TARDIS was already dematerializing, with him clinging to the console and hoping that the atmospheric field would hold long enough to find the Time Vortex.
Time was meaningless in the Vortex. Day and night weren't merely indistinguishable; they simple did not exist, especially for a Time Lord. He supposed the feeling was much like how a lesser species felt at sea, with currents breaking around him and waves moving rhythmically from one direction to the other.
There'd hardly been time to think, at first. His first priority had been to put some doors up, which eased the TARDIS' constant effort to keep the Vortex out and the atmosphere in. She was fighting valiantly (and angrily), his TARDIS, furious that they'd both been cheated of something special and unique–though she hadn't much liked Rose for reasons she felt necessary to keep to herself. After that, he'd set to work on the navigation systems, leaving habitation for last–what need did he have for rest, or for places for companions to sleep? The labyrinth of rooms in the Doctor's TARDIS was superfluous, necessary only to impress others.
Of course, he'd have to stock the library at one point or another, but that was another worry. He had plenty of time to do so, because he certainly wasn't going to settle for the limits of a human's lifespan. Oh, no. There was plenty of technology to extend this body's years, and beyond that he had other ideas. And all of the necessary time to employ them, bit by bit.
Still, he waited until the control room looked presentable before placing the call. There was no need to show how very close his TARDIS had come to not surviving that perilous first ride through the Time Vortex.
"Hello, Doctor," he said with a slight smile, watching the other look frantically–enviously–around his TARDIS. Well, he'd probably been expecting a bit of a mess, and probably an old Type 40, too. But the Valeyard had no need to cling to outdated pieces of machinery; he'd built the most updated type he could, and planned on upgrading her in the very near future. "I expect you're wondering exactly how long it has been since you abandoned me in this universe."
I expect you're wondering how long it took me to fix her, or how I actually managed to escape your half-hearted attempt to kill me.
"Um…yeah. Something like that," the other responded nervously. Enter his tendency to babble: "Certainly wondering, anyway. Always wondering, me."
"I do believe that I will leave you to wonder about that one, my dear Doctor," he replied, feeling a bit nasty. No use in giving all his secrets away, after all.
"Oh, but where's the fun in that? There's no adventure if you don't even give me a hint," the Doctor retorted, clearly trying to buy time.
His shirt was wet–Rassilon only knew what the Doctor had been up to this time. Probably off creating trouble and fixing things that didn't need fixing. Probably with–Don't think about that. Inexplicable fury lay that way, and he wanted to enjoy this. Not let the other think he was winning.
"I'm not looking for adventure," he said softly, a stark contrast with the 'original' model, always looking for so-called adventure. "I am only seeking to acquire what is rightfully mine."
Oh, that struck home. "And what…exactly is that?"
"My life, Doctor," he snapped. If his anger showed, so much the better. Consider this a warning, Doctor. "The one you took from me by dumping me in another universe, to be looked after and fixed like some broken toy. You simply assumed, as you always do, that you knew best, and that everything would turn out exactly as you envisioned it."
Of course he was going to rationalize. He always did. The Valeyard smiled. "But I've settled things here. You need not worry. Your–"
"–hopes that my TARDIS…" he trailed off, slightly puzzled. Whatever had made the Doctor do that? He was never one to give up on a taunting call ike this. Usually, he'd be the one to spend hours trying to convince the Valeyard to give it up, to not lead the life they both knew he'd lead. But he'd hung up. How weak and cowardly.
After a moment, the Valeyard shook off the surprise with a shrug. He'd see the Doctor soon enough, even if it wouldn't be this Doctor–first, he had to get through the annoying know-it-all and the pretty boy. He had to play the part, even though he knew the end of those stories…and he didn't exactly regret either role he'd played in the destruction of the Time Lords and Gallifrey. In fact, he was rather proud of both: as the Valeyard, he'd soon push the Time War into existence and the Doctor into Dalek hands; as the Doctor, he'd already done the final deed and obliterated his home and his people in fire.
Now to find out exactly how a time-lock reacted when encountered with a Time Lord who didn't care what destruction he caused to the fabric of time itself.
Author's Note: Here's the end, though I'm contemplating a sequel, part of which is written. It's titled "Anchors," in which the Valeyard decides to tear the Doctor's world apart one piece at a time. However, it's on hold for my newest story "War By the Numbers," a saga of the Time War involving Doctors Eight, Nine, Ten, and Eleven. Check it out on my Author page—the first part is posted today.