What Must Not Be
By Spirit of Eowyn
Title: What Must Not Be
Pairing: 10/Rose Donna
Summary: The simplest changes can have the biggest consequences... What if Journey's End had happened differently?
A/N: Not another fix-it fic. What If... Thank you Kateydidnt for helping me nurture this what if, and to Rose_Skywalker for the quick beta!
The Doctor's heart was broken, and he couldn't help wondering if there had been some other way around it. If he or someone else had just done something differently Donna would remember him and Rose would be with him. He was having what he would never admit to- second thoughts.
Being alone did that.
He tried to follow where the timelines would change and which points were fixed. Rose ending up with some form of him was fairly fixed. If his lucky clone had never existed, he thought, then he would never have had to think about the life she could have with the human him. The fantastic life she would unknowingly give up. A life with a real family. He couldn't tell himself that he loved her and not make that sacrifice were it available.
Anyways any timeline without the metacrisised self would end in a dead universe and them becoming the Daleks' pets for the rest of existence. So that simply couldn't have been an option.
If only Donna hadn't been the one to create his meta-crisis, if only she kept her memories. If the universe wouldn't let him have Rose, then why not at least his best friend? If only he could have saved Donna without having to erase her memories. Perhaps there was something he had overlooked? His brain led him to a timeline he hadn't considered then, a timeline where something else happened, another possibility that had so nearly been.
And he found himself inside Rose's mind. After his regeneration, on the TARDIS, on the Crucible. A turning point -a might have been. All that could have been but didn't.
In almost all of Donna's timelines, Rose had followed, Donna had died and the Doctor had to watch it happen. The scenarios cause and effect came to the forefront of her mind, and merged.
"Blimey!" Her Doctor went ahead of her, and she wanted to follow him but something held her back. Those memories.
She allowed Jack to pass her. " Donna, Are you okay?" Donna looked like one of the many shock victims she'd had to deal with in her line of work.
Donna blinked liked she was waking up. Oh, not good. Most people didn't handle imminent death well and she knew denial and the desire to just give up was often prominent.
The door of the TARDIS slammed shut, waking Donna up into a full panic. She runs to the door, and bangs on it. "Doctor!"
"What have you done?" They can barely hear outside. "Donna! Rose- Let them out! Do you hear me?!" Rose could hear the panic and fury in his voice.
Dread filled her stomach. For a moment it felt like gravity had reversed, and then they were both glued to the floor by the force of their decent. Rose crawled to the viewscreen as the TARDIS burst into flames. Bile rose to her mouth. The viewscreen showed the expanse of star they were falling into. And there would be no time for her to even try to find a way to raise the shields up again. This was one of the fiery deaths she had seen for Donna too many times. It had been awful watching her die, to change the timelines and save the Doctor. Dead because of her. Because she, Rose, could think of no other way to fix things. The look in her eyes when she had had to tell Donna that she was "Sorry." That she was still going to die. Rose could not do it again. She felt responsible for her after all this time.
She knew the Doctor would do the same thing if he was here, yet he might hope that she would choose differently. She hoped he forgave her. Not much time, as the floor rocked back and forth. Her arms shook and her body protested but the steel of her determination set overcoming her fear. No going back.
She wobbled over to Donna who had been crawling over to her too, protecting her head from the sparks. "Donna, you're going to be all right. All right! You hear me?" She yelled over the din.
Donna really looked so hopeless. "Thanks for saving the Doctor, tell him," Her eyes welled up and the beeping sound she had been hoping for interrupted her. "Tell him, I'm sorry."
She attached her silver and yellow Dimension Jumper, which had finally recharged, to Donna's wrist. It could only carry one.
As Donna mouthed "What?" as she hit the buttons that returned Donna to "Pete's World". Safe, and ready to be retrieved. They'd know to send her back to Earth when this was all over. If they won. If not, she at least wouldn't die alone. It didn't seem to hurt reality ending, although she would now never even have her curiosity of how and why sated.
"Goodbye." She said to the empty TARDIS. Smoke continued to fill her tomb. She found herself drawn to the only bit of the Doctor left- his hand. His hand in a jar, in the TARDIS. She reached towards it, thinking not only how odd it was, but also to not feel so alone in what soon be death.
Golden light flowed out of it and seemed to grab her and for a second time in her life, she was enveloped in golden light.
She awoke to find a newly regenerated Doctor. Her eyes grew wide. She blushed. He was pressing buttons on the console--
"You're naked." She blurted.
"Oh, yes!" He said grinning cheekily before running off, she somewhat hoped, to put on clothes.
She rubbed her eyes. Of all the ways she had imaged seeing the Doctor naked this hadn't even made her list.
"Hello," He grinned as he returned, buttoning up his jacket. "How do I look?"
"Am I dead?" She wondered allowed. Near death, bright light, naked Doctors. Must be death, she thought.
"What? No." He looked completely taken off guard. "Shh! No one knows we're here gotta keep quiet." He pulled her along with him. Their faces inches apart before he ran to the console.
Meanwhile the Doctor was facing Davros alone, Jack having died to get to other parts of the ship. Facing him alone would have been bad enough, this was worse. He had no one to gently lie and say he wasn't the things Davros said. That it would be ok, because someone was holding his hand, so he would be alright. It was what anyone traveling needed most- a hand to hold. But both women that had wanted to stay with him 'forever' had just died, and it was his fault. And the TARDIS was gone. And he was alone. His 'I'm always alright' mask was falling.
"You killed them. Doctor, how many have died in your name?"
The verbal blow was greater torture than any weapon could be against him. He could not escape himself, or his memories.
The vidscreen showed what monsters he'd created from his friends. And Jackie. Jackie and Mickey were on the Crucible. How was he ever going to explain Rose's death to them?
His mind fast forwarded though what was still somewhat the same. Flashes of his clone coming to rescue him, everyone getting captured- all the same. Rose getting zapped and the reality bomb being activated. It must make a difference. Donna would still have her memories. She's return to Earth eventually...
"There are two Doctors." Jack comments. "I really can't tell you what I'm thinking right now."
Jack was still a pervert.
He looked to his clone who explained to everyone. "Biological Meta-crisis," His clone winced and bit his tongue in something like disgust. "I grew out of, Rose."
"Part Rose, Part Doctor." Jack's eyes grew wide in awe, who clearly had been thinking about this since he first joined the TARDIS. "I REALLY can't tell you what I'm thinking now."
A clone that was part Rose. Well, there goes any romantic prospect for his clone, as far as Rose was concerned. It almost brought a grin to his mouth.
"Jack," Rose warned, looking paler than usual.
And like last time, but not, Doctor Rose was created. She helped save reality.
"All the knowledge of the universe." She said energetically. "I got one of the best bits of the Doctor, his brain."
His clone still killed off the Daleks.
But it didn't matter. Because Donna would live and Rose would....stay? He couldn't send her to live with his part human clone now, they weren't European nobility after all. So far everything was better. He wouldn't be alone. They took the Earth home. He savored the replay of that memory.
They took the Earth home. He savored the replay of that memory.He allowed the others to do the flying and went, at her prompting to talk to Doctor Rose, alone.
"Doctor," She leaned against the wall behind her.
"Yeah." he grinned back.
"We've got to take my mother home, quickly."
"Alright." Jackie was gone. He could live without the slapping and nagging she brought alone with her. But her eyes, her eyes were saying more than that.
"There isn't much time. This wasn't supposed to happen. Your human counterpart was right. I've changed things. This was never meant to happen. I can see that now." Her tone was wistful, and she had to wipe tears from her cheek. But I couldn't let it happen."
There was something his brain was refusing to process. No. I won't. I- The Doctor nodded stiffly and returned to the control room. Sound became muffled.
He said the quickest goodbyes he could to his friends he dropped on Earth.
"Jack, Donna should be coming back through the rift. Take, take care of her."
"Okay." Jack said suspiciously. "There is something you're not telling us, isn't there?"
The Doctor forced a smile. "Always."
Jack turned to Rose who was leaning against the door.
The Doctor turned back to the TARDIS barely glancing at Rose as he entered.
Rose forced her best tired smile for her mum.
The Doctor fast-forwarded through their goodbyes. He couldn't watch, as Rose lied, just like he did, lied because he had to. Part of him knew what was coming, but he couldn't fast forward through this. This timeline wanted him to know what might have been but what must never be.
Part of him knew what was coming, but he couldn't fast forward through this. This timeline wanted him to know what might have been but what must never be.
Rose collapsed onto the jump seat. Not here, oh Rassilion not here! She couldn't-- he never be able to be in this room again if-
Because the same thing was happening to Rose that had happened to Donna, only worse so much worse!
She held her head in her hands. "I'm burning up." Her words echoed oddly in the room. This wasn't the first time he'd heard her say that, nor the first because of HIM. The information was too much, like the Heart of the TARDIS had been too much, burned and damaged her. But this time he couldn't take it out of her. He couldn't do what he did for Donna either.
"Rose." Guilt ate at him. For his clone it was much worse because she was dying because of him, she was dying so he could exist. His clone wasn't there, could NOT be there. He'd jumped ship at Earth to hide, as the Doctor wished he could hide from this moment. The Doctor would be stuck traveling with himself, a self that would be part Rose. Part of the women he had killed by caring. A constant reminder of what he had done. The clone couldn't be left on his own.
"You can't erase my memories?" She begged even though she knew he couldn't.
"No." Her memories stretched for five or more years! She was the reason her family was in the parallel world. Her brain would fail trying to process a world she didn't belong in with no explanation for being there. The same with her home Earth. He was just too much a part of her memories for him to be able to cut them out. It wasn't fair. She was dying because she had chosen to come back, because she couldn't forget him. She was dying because she had traveled with him in the first place. She was dying because she was trying to save Donna who would have survived this.
Her screams as her insides burned out tore right through him.
There were worse things than dying. There were worse things than being alone. There were things as they are. There are things as they might be, and things as the MUST not be.
He found small comfort in knowing now, that there was no other way. That somehow being alone, with Rose stuck in a parallel world and Donna forgetting him was the best of what might be. And knowing that, the Doctor lived , but vowed never to have another companion again.