AN: Here is my fourth Doctor Who fic. Set at the end of End of Time. This fic is dedicated to elvespiratesandcowboysohmy. You all should read her story, "The Stuff f Legend." It is brilliant.
His Best Life
It was a strange thing, the Doctor would later reflect, not wanting to die. He had lived ten lives—ten different lives filled with so many joys and sorrows; celebrations and mornings. And, oh! The adventures! Too numerous to count. All were fantastic!
And all were fading. He was starting to forget…faces, names, events; things that should have been burned into his memories forever were beginning to drift away. All things came to an end in this Universe, and that was what made him afraid. The thought of regeneration was no comfort to him as he shut the Tardis doors for his final time. The old ship was silent, waiting, almost dreading what was to come. She was the one constant in his world. She understood.
He numbly sent the Tardis into the vortex.
She understood that he did not want to forget. He did not want to forget all the wonderful humans he had met in this lifetime; Martha and Mickey the Idiot; Redfern; Wilfred and Donna, his dear dear Donna. And Rose…He drew a deep sigh. His lovely, wonderful, fantastic Rose Tyler. He had promised her that he would not let her fade into an afterthought like so many of his other companions. And yet, as the energies of regeneration burned over this nerves, he knew he could not keep that promise. Once his new form took over, everything would change. His memories would change. His feeling would change. His feeling for her would change. He clenched his hands into fists. He did not want things to change.
This life had been so…so…wonderful! Painful! Full of trial, failure, and victory. It had pushed him to his limits, shown him loss and fear, and allowed him to taste bliss. This form was his best, most fulfilling and most frustrating life. And he did not want it to end.
As the Tardis groaned beneath him, he stood in silent agony. The glow of regeneration pulsed over his hands. He looked down. It was time. But he did not want to. As the energy and light washed over his body, he whispered his confession. "I don't want to go!" He still had so much to do. So much to see. So much to remember.
And yet, the Universe declared that he must end. I don't want to go! his mind cried again. The energy grew in strength. He felt the Tardis retreat from his mind with a soft farewell. She would return when the process was over. He would have to face his death alone. He closed his eyes. I don't want to!
The darkness of death closed in around him, pulling him down into oblivious memory. In the distance, an echo of explosion; in his fading conscious, the emergence of a new Doctor; and in his soul, a sorrow like none he had ever felt. This was his end. He gave in to it.
Strong arms stopped his fall. He opened his eyes in shock. The grip was tight and urgent. A golden energy burned from the hands holding him, stopping his fall; it was an energy he knew well, an energy he should not ever feel again. The energy rushed over him as a rough Northern accent whispered to him, "Not this time!"
The hands thrust him forward. He twisted in the air, unable to speak, as he looked down at his ninth self, surrounded in the energy of the Vortex that had taken his life. Tendrils of energy swirled from those larger, rougher hands that had known battle to wrap around him. It warmed him, comforted him. He gasped. it was all so raw. He gaped at his past form.
The old northerner grinned. "Go."
And then, he was being pulled back. Back into time and space and fire and heat. A flash of gold. A surge of energy. A rush of life!
He sat up with a gasp. There was so much! In a moment, he tasted, felt, smelled, heard, and saw everything! Smock and fire filling the Tardis. Heat, blazing heat burning into his skin. Poison in the air, burning his lungs. Sulfur and copper coating his throat. And Donna gaping at him from across the grated floor. "It's you," she gasped.
He stared back in equal shock as all the pieces fell together. But, how could it be? It was impossible. All he could think to say as he drank it all in was, "Oh, yes."
Donna grinned, relieved even as the Tardis sank further into the Crucible core, and yet, ever the prude, turned her eyes away as she informed him, "You're naked!"
Naked…and alive! A manic grin spread over his face as he said again,"Oh, yes!"
"That's me when we first met."
It was so strange being a part of this conversation again, now on the other side. Yet, his memories of this moment were still crystal clear. He remembered saying each word with a level of restrain he had not thought himself capable of having. He remembered drawing on every ounce of his superior Time Lord logic to stop himself from keeping Rose in the Tardis forever. And he recalled even now as he watched his past self try to convince Rose of the benefits in this moment how much he hated his meta-crisis creation.
"But he's not you," Rose said.
He held back his grin. He had a part to play in this moment, and he would play it well.
"He needs you," his past self said. "That's very me."
Then Donna speaks, he thought as his dear friend took her cue, bringing in the secret gift he had once created for her, a gift he had not foreseen becoming a part of in any foreseeable future. And when Rose turned her deep, soulful eyes upon him, he played his part perfectly, telling her the truth. He had one heart. One life. One final life as himself to live.
Rose was confused, he could tell, but she was also hopeful. And yet, as the Tardis informed them that their time was short, she was hesitant, as she should have been. His Rose Tyler would not stand for this. She knew what she wanted. That was something he loved about her. Loved about her, yes; in this new body, this half-human body, he could think as he will. His mind was free to be human, and he could indulge in the wonderful thing that was human emotion. Oh, he could not wait to tell her the truth, but time rules must be obeyed. His past self could not know what had happened. He would not risk changing it now that his wildest dream was reality. He needed to play his part.
And this production on the sands of Bad Wolf Bay was coming to its ever so crucial close. She was asking her question. And his past self was giving his answer—a cold, restrained, hateful answer if he ever heard one. He remembered hating it as it passed from his lips. "Does it need saying?" he had said.
Yes, he thought as he watched her wilt. It always needed saying.
She turned to him. "And you, Doctor?" she asked. "What was the end of that sentence?"
He gazed into her eyes, wanting to say so many things. He had thought over this moment time and again, wondering what his meta-crisis had said to her. I love you. I need you. I've missed you. Never leave me. All were as true now as they were then. He had not been free to say them then; now, he was, and now, he knew what he wanted to say. He leaned down and whispered one soft, sweet word to her, "Forever."
He pulled back expectantly, knowing what was to come and yet still feeling a level of apprehension. She could, if she wanted, still reject him. For the first time in all his strange lives, he was uncertain of the end.
And then, she kissed him. It was the kiss he had enviously watched her give so long ago, and now, it was his. And it was everything he had ever dreamed it could be. It drove away all thought of the here and now, leaving him in a state of pure, euphoric feeling.
The hum of the Tardis engines as it faded away broke the moment. She pulled away quickly. He blinked, coming down from his cloud, and watched as she tried to chase after the vanishing time machine.
Oh, Rose, he thought as he walked forward to take her hand.
She reluctantly accepted his hold. They locked eyes, and he saw the pain in her eyes at the truth of this moment. He needed to fix that. "You think I've left you," he whispered. It was a new revelation that caused his heart to constrict and beat harder in his chest.
She blinked back a fresh wave of tears as she asked, "Haven't you?"
He stepped in front of her, cupped her face, and searched her eyes. "Never," he said firmly. "It's me, Rose. I'm here."
"No, you're not," she sobbed, pulling away from his hold. She waved to the empty air. "You're another world away!"
She wanted to fall, crumple into the sand and scream out her sorrow, but he would not let her. He cupped her face again. "No, Rose," he reaffirmed. He knew what he had to do. There were no words that could convince her. He needed to let her see. Leaning his head down until their forehead's touched, he said, "It really is me."
He summoned what Time Lord power he had in this new body and used it to pour his memories into her mind. She gasped at the rush. He showed it all to her. The loss of Donna. The false Time Lord. Mars. The Ood. The return and the loss of both the Master and the Time Lords. His goodbyes. His death.
And this new resurrection.
When it was over, they both stumbled into the sand; he to sit from inexplicable weakness; she to assimilate it all with a trembling hand raised to her lips. They sat in silence, waiting for the other to speak.
Finally, she broke the silence. Tears slowly trickled down her flushed face as she shook her head. "You," she began but trailed off, uncertain of what to say, how to proceed. "You," she tried again, blinking away her tears to look at him in a new light.
He leaned forward, anxious for her words.
She bit her lip. "You married Queen Elizabeth?"
He sat back and gaped at her. He had not been expecting that! "Well," he stuttered. "I…well, I was told I was going to die, so, I thought…uh…" How was he going to explain that one?
Then she smiled and began to laugh. It was a soft giggle that grew in strength until she was falling back into the sand, lost in mirth. It was a beautiful, healing laughter that drew him into joining. Together, they laughed over the absurdity of it all. How the Universe had brought them together in their times of greatest need only to pull them apart when their bond was strongest, and then dangle a chance of reunion in the midst of chaos that resulted in another separation.
It all came full circle to now. Here and now. This new, inexplicable, impossible now. On their backs, in the sand, their hands found one another, and they looked into each other's eyes, coming to the same conclusion. They were the Doctor and the Bad Wolf. They did not live within the dictates of impossible. The thought made them laugh again.
"So," he said after the laughter was faded. He pushed up on his elbows. "Rose Tyler, what do you think? Not bad for something born in battle, full of blood and anger and revenge, eh?"
"Well," she said as she sat up next to him. She narrowed her brow as if in deep thought as she looked him over with her tongue-in-teeth grin. "I think I liked you better with big ears and a big nose."
She laughed at his hurt expression. Sliding up next to him, she looked into his eyes and said, "Really, though," She dropped her voice to a more intimate level. "I think…I need a doctor."
He gazed into her eyes, smiled, and said, "I believe I can help with that."
She cocked her head. "Can you?"
He cupped her face. "Yeah." He dipped his head to capture her lips in a chaste kiss. "Rose Tyler," he breathed reverently. "My Rose Tyler."
"Don't you forget that," she said with a smile.
"Never." He claimed her lips again, this time kissing her properly. She wrapped her arms around his neck; he slid his arms around her waste; and they lowered themselves into the sand. Somewhere in the distance, he heard Jackie shriek, but he did not care. He tightened his hold on the woman who had changed him in so many ways and deepened their kiss, the first kiss of many in this, his best life yet.
AN: And there you have it. Hope you enjoyed. Reviews are love. ^_^