Dreams We (Turn) Left Behind
Characters: Oliver Morgenstern, Maria Jackson, Gwen Cooper, Jack Harkness, Wilfred Mott
Summary: Sometimes in their dreams, they seem to recall the strangest things. Could the world really be such a terrible place without the Doctor? Spoilers for 'Smith and Jones', 'The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky' and 'Turn Left' (But seriously, if you haven't seen any of them, why are you reading Doctor Who/Torchwood Fanfics?).
Sometimes, he remembers it differently when he dreams about it. There are many nightmares of course, all featuring those marching Rhino soldiers as they stomp into his nightmares and scan, judge and execute without question.
But sometimes... the oxygen runs out for good, and he's weak and dazed, and he sees a middle-aged woman he knew was never there with three school children rush past towards MRI, shouting that she's called Sarah Jane Smith and she's going to put a stop to this. And there's a haze as he starts to black out...
And then he sees her. Dear sweet Martha Jones, the Medical Student he's always admired from day one – involved with some government organisation now, they say – gaze down at him desperately. There's no sign of that strange man he remembers with her, but still she's so determined and brave in the face of impossibility. He can just see her reach for the oxygen mask, and he's trying to tell her No, save yourself and-
And the next thing he remembers is Earth, and flashing lights and reporters and trying to not regret that he's all that's left of the Royal Hope Staff, and having Martha's sister crying bitterly on his shoulder and thinking that surely she should have been the one to live... because she's the hero, not him.
And then he'll wake in a cold sweat, wondering why he dreams of events which never happened.
Sometimes - and she'll dream about the oddest things thanks to Sarah Jane – she dream of something which never happened. Her dad always says that it's the summed up experiences, or the move to the city (the Daleks really did a lot of damage to Washington, she's still avoiding rubble nearly every second trip) or that it never happened. Of course that's what most dreams are, but this one feels real, and it scares her, every time.
She'll remember the Royal Hope Hospital, that incident she heard on the news not long after moving to Bannerman Road, only she's there, and Sarah and Luke and Clyde. And there'll be this signal that Sarah's detecting, and this seemingly kind woman who's far from it. There's the Rhino Aliens who march inside and kill anyone who question. And she runs away as they detect alien technology and Luke with their cries of 'Non-Human'.
Eventually they find the evil creature looking like a harmless old woman, and how she's so determined to hide away from the Rhino Men. She'll be forced to watch as Clyde is sucked dry of his blood, and her tears roll as Sarah gets fried by a bolt of energy from the faceless biker men, too late for the Rhino Men to stop them. And at last she and Luke are clutching each other tight as the world seems to buckle and she's staved of Oxygen, and as her eyes close for the last time she'll see Luke just managing to switch the scanner off and the window blares with white and...
And then Alan is holding her tight with a mug of hot chocolate as the tears roll down her cheeks. Eventually she'll tell her far-away friends by E-Mail and they scare her by saying they all had the same dreams of pain. Sarah can't help her stop dreaming. But she knows that the Doctor was there instead, and that made all the difference. It's all she holds onto.
Sometimes she dreams of dying. Rhys is of course sympathetic – he should be, the daft idiot was dead for all an hour once – but she knows she was never there.
She'll read all of the reports on the Sontaran Stratagem from Martha and UNIT she can find when she has the chance. She remembers it well. But not like she dreams of it.
She dreams that there is no Doctor, no saviour to protect Earth from the nifty Luke Rattigan and his alien chums. That they're all alone, the only defence left. UNIT's in decay after London and the clear up. Help from America isn't coming. Torchwood has barely recovered from Canary Wharf and Abaddon and losing Owen and Tosh.
Three against an army. Jack's kind of odds, he says. She knows what they're signing up for. But if the already choked Earth below gets the glimmer of a fighting chance, it's worth it, every time.
She hugs Rhys and tells him no, he's not coming and yes, that is a naked Sontaran Clone of her lying on the medical bed which they used for their scheme and he's not to get any ideas. She'll smile as Ianto and Jack share this long, beautiful kiss of hope. They all hold hands and remember the lost and the dead and fallen. But not for long. The Earth must survive.
The teleport Jack's unlocked works. There are hundreds of them, marching in unison, marching against the Earth. She doesn't know what to think of seeing Rattigan's smoking body lying on the floor. The General turns and Jack issues an ultimatum he says the Doctor would be proud of. She wishes they could have met this fantastic man, just once.
Of course the Sontaran's aren't afraid of death. Not remotely. But neither is she.
The seconds tick down and she's turns to Jack and he smiles and says "Gwen Cooper, you were one of the best." And then the world seems to...
And then she'll awake and get the usual consolation from Rhys. The offer of a cooked builder's breakfast and some interesting usage of an oven mitten with raspberry jam which sounds oddly tempting. And then the constant decision about whether to tell Jack and Ianto of the death she's never had.
She never will.
He's a sturdy fellow. He has bad dreams - a lot. None of them are pleasant.
But there's one which has been plaguing him more than most lately. Interesting in the fact that he's sure it never happened (Granted there's memory lapses in his life though, so it could be a retcon pill he never remembers taking. But he doubts it.). And it worries him. Because he remembers most of it.
There is pain. A lot of pain. Pain is fun for a man who can't ever die. But this is true pain. Lack of oxygen as he screams soundlessly besides wreckage, bits of Sontaran and Torchwood operatives floating past. If he returns to that swollen, sick world below him, he knows that Rhys can never forgive him.
He learns not to beg for death as the hours, days and weeks tick by. It won't come. What does come is worse. One of them has survived. There's the looming face of a scarred Sontaran behind the glass of a scout ship, bitter and twisted, and as the right pressures are applied by a sharp looking pincer emerging from the craft, it strikes it as odd that all he can think of that the stars seem to be going out.
When he wakes, he wakes to pain. This is inflicted pain. Military enforced precision. The sole survivor of his successful defeat against the Sontaran Invasion, the scarred grunt named Kaagh, is gleefully lashing his torso and amused at the way he heals over, again and again and again.
"The Sontaran Race will enjoy your eternal punishment, Human. You will become Sontar's greatest prize, an example of how even in failure, our race will emerge with a certain matter of victory."
And so it begins. For weeks and days. Without end. Generals and Commanders enjoying the chance to cut loose from their charts and exercises to cause grave injury. Again he tries to stop wishing for death, but it still comes out.
Until one day. There's an alert. Jack can't make out what's got the finest military race so riled up down here, but he can tell it's bad. And then he feels it and the ghost of a smile appears on his face. He wished to die once and for all. Ceasing to exist is almost the next best thing as he closes his eyes...
And he wakes up. And it scares him more than most, because he's one of the few who can understand it, what it meant. It's what would have happened if the Doctor had failed.
Getting sleep has never been easy since the war for him. With what's happened to Donna, he gets still less. But when he does, he dreams of something terrifying.
He dreams of a world where Donna is unaware of the Doctor, but here she has never met him. He remember tragedy upon tragedy, things he can recall on TV which went alright because the Doctor was there to save them. But not here. He's out of the way of the Titanic, but the explosion in the distance... he can recall the Atom Bomb and all the horrors that life brought.
He remembers putting up with much, dear Donna shouting at the world, knowing that it won't change a thing when they go to Leeds. Wartime spirit creeps in, slowly. The attempt at human spirit, that dear Mr Colasanto, singing long into the night. But it's not enough. How can you fight back when the enemy is out there, amongst the stars, gleefully mocking you and your attempts to live out each day?
He sees his daughter taken apart, piece by piece.
He can't take in the trucks when they come for Colasanto and his clan. Britain should know better, or what did he fight as a young frightened boy for?
And then he sees the stars begin to go out, and that blonde girl comes for Donna and he never sees her again, right to the end when the sun itself starts to vanish and he feels his fingers dissolve and if he strains with his ailing ears hard enough, he hears the cry of a million screams across the planet...
He never tells Sylvia. She has enough to ponder in reality. He wishes that perhaps one day, if the Doctor is ever about, that he can tell him what he has seen, and to thank the man of the stars for just being there.
Because a world without the Doctor is too horrible to think about.