Sorry I haven't been around in a while. Stuff happened, then more stuff, and then I completely lost all trust in my ability to write fanfic because I am stupid. But here I am! I made it!
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaanyway, so Ten died (-sob-). Needless to say, I cried. A lot. Over a couple of weeks. But once I managed to drag myself out of the depression his loss put me in, I started to wonder what in Rassilon's name the TARDIS was doing that made her fall apart like that. And this is what I came up with. I dub it CANON. ...inasmuch as I can dub anything canon, really... but... anyway.
Disclaimer: Although I seem to be morphing into the sort of DW fan that makes other DW fans run screaming in terror, I still don't own it. Blah.
SIAPNIAN: Note to self: Do not write trollfics. You really, really suck at it.
Non-Warning: Betaed by the wonderful Emily D., whose username I would give you… if… I knew if she was on this site or not. Oh well. –shrug- Point is, it's betaed. HOORAY!
He couldn't die. He couldn't.
Numb, he tossed his coat on the pillar, hardly even glancing to make sure it had landed where it was supposed to. Did it matter?
Yes, it did. It was the last time he would ever do that. Ever. He swallowed, hard, hands shaking as he felt his bones turn translucent. Insubstantial.
I can't go. Not yet. There's so much…
A sick dread lining his stomach with molten lead, he raised a hand and looked at it—saw the glow. The end. Game over. Please try again.
His first instinct was to run, but to where? He could sabotage himself, selfishly cling to the rest of his lives, stop the instinct to regenerate—if he was going to die, he wanted to be the last. The most important. If he was going to die, he wasn't going to let some git he wouldn't even get along with waltz away in his place. If he was going to die…
I'm not going to die. There is no way I'm letting myself. It's not that bad… it's only radiation, I can survive it…
Three was inclined to disagree with him. The Doctor shut his eyes tight for a moment; that was going to be him, in a few seconds. Packed in a neat little box, shoved in the back of his mind, eternally disapproving everything his successor did because he literally had nothing else to do. Forgotten. Pushed back. No longer the Doctor, the Oncoming Storm, Ka Faraq Gatri, a million other titles—only a number. Ten. Ignored, just like the others. Good for nothing but vague bouts of annoyance scratching at the back of his head. Uncared-for, unneeded, unimportant.
I don't want to be… I can't…
The fire took over his skeleton, burning him. Trembling, he stared glassily at nothing and whispered at no one. His senses oddly heightened, he felt the air as it left his lips, traced the swirling patterns of individual molecules as they drifted. His last words, warm atoms shifting lazily in the atmosphere.
"I don't want to go…"
There was nothing he could do, no way to delay it any further; too soon, he felt his body explode in harsh golden light and he screamed in his head because his vocal cords were already disintegrating, useless. He was burning, every atom consuming itself to gather the energy it needed to rebuild from scratch. He had failed, he had lost, he was dying, he was gone—this was it, this was the end, this was
No no no no no please
The light in his head was so sharp, it was hard to think; he felt himself shifting, rearranging, disappearing into someone that wasn't him anymore.
Let me stay, please just let me stay
His optic nerves jolted in agony—no, they weren't his optic nerves anymore; he couldn't feel them, there was nothing there, nothing he could control. Nothing. He was—
Just a little longer—please… I… I don't…
—changing, regenerating, dying with no one around to care. Wilf was the only one who knew, nobody would—nobody—oh, Rassilon…
Rose doesn't know I'm here.
The darkness was pressing in now, his hearts the only thing left that were still his; it was too late to stop them, stop his life, leave his next body stillborn behind him in an empty TARDIS like he almost wanted. He could already feel the next consciousness developing, pressing, pushing him out—but—
The TARDIS was shattering around him, he could feel her screams—Time was dying, splintering, falling apart—what was she doing? What was she…?
Regeneration shouldn't be doing this to her.
He could allow himself to be selfish as he frantically held on to what was left of his mind, expanding his thoughts, pressing against the cage that Eleven (he thought the number with a fierce kind of spite—that's right, future me, you're not special either—and didn't quite feel better) was forcing around him. He had to stay awake. He had to stay alive.
Never die never die never die never die
Rose had told him. Rose had said. She'd said that, he remembered, a week after Christmas, while the TARDIS recuperated from her crash. Her head on his shoulder, her form curled subtly around his as he pretended to be more interested in the television than her, as he absorbed her with all his new senses; she had whispered those words. He couldn't die, Rose wouldn't let him. Not again. Not this time.
Eleven was sneaky. The Doctor shrieked soundlessly in mental fury as he dodged the metaphysical box his next incarnation was patiently trying to shove him in; viciously, he attacked his own mind until his future counterpart retreated, startled, dazed. But it was inevitable; walls pressed him in, forcing him into a compact little cube, smothering the last of the gold that had taken his life—
He didn't know how long he floated. He wandered, absently, filtering through his own memories as if they were on replay; he supposed that it could have been worse—at least he didn't have to listen to his past selves, couldn't hear his future one. Vaguely, he bumped into the inside of his own skull—so he was at least somewhat contained—and turned to go the other way. If he was going to be trapped here for who knew how long, he might as well get to know where his metaphysical boundaries lay—
I don't remember doing that.
He backed up, utterly confused, and ran through the offending memory again—more slowly. Hang on, the perspective on that was all wrong—no, there were two versions—what the hell?
He was recalling a few more recent events twice, from two different angles. That didn't even make sense. Well, it did in a way, but the only possible explanation was… completely nonsensical. And impossible. Completely and utterly impossible. No way it could happen.
Instinctively, he let himself drift out of its vague dreamstate, forgetting that there was no body to wake up to.
Until there was. It was so natural, sliding out of unconsciousness, that he didn't even notice that he shouldn't be able to feel his fingers. Or anything, for that matter, but an uncomfortable jolt when he remembered he was dead and trying to use the rest of his brain was simply not going to help him with this problem. "The rest of his brain" wasn't his anymore.
Except it was. And he had fingers. Fingers that felt like his. And… and… wait a second, he had lost senses seven through thirteen. And he wasn't in a mental box in the back of his head, he'd just expanded to the edges of his consciousness and the only thing containing him was his own cranial cavity. Without any boxes in it. There should be nine other boxes in his head being quietly disappointed in him.
Why weren't there any boxes? And why did he feel… oddly… peaceful? Complete, almost—he hadn't felt complete since… since…
…since… he'd had Rose to absolve him of everything.
It just kept coming back to the impossible, didn't it? But it was also impossible that Time tasted different, and it was impossible that the hand curled round his was that precise shape and texture and feel. It was impossible that the owner of that hand pulsed unmistakably with a very specific shade of glory.
He shifted his hand, drowning in the deliciousness of being able to move, having a physical form when his own had been so brutally stolen; losing himself in the abject delight of feeling the little ridges in her hand brushing his.
She shifted at his movement. "Doctor?" she murmured, and leaned forward to grasp his fingers more tightly. A thin, cold ring on her left hand coincided with a memory he hadn't experienced until a few seconds ago, and the fact that her skin was slightly cooler than he remembered could be explained by the pulse of a single heart just left of his sternum.
He loved impossible. Didn't much like the whole one-hearted thing, though. He felt perfectly fine, but it nagged at him that he shouldn't be.
Doesn't matter, he chided himself.
He moved, and winced as he detected a bruise on his left shoulder, another one on his ribs on the same side, and a mild abrasion on his cheekbone. Quickly, he sifted through his new memories and couldn't figure out where he had gotten them. Must have been recent, though. There was something hard and cold and concrete-ish beneath him—he must have fallen when the TARDIS had so kindly yanked his mind out and stuck it in his other body. That made sense.
"Doctor, can you hear me?"
He grinned, a deep, spreading suffusion of joy that he hadn't felt in too long. He was alive. He was alive and he was here, with her and the other half of his fragmented mind, and he could hear the happy thrum of an infant TARDIS somewhere to the northwest and none of this should be possible.
"Mmhmmmm," he murmured in answer to Rose's question.
"What happened?" She shifted, tugging on his arm. Supposing that sitting up would be more comfortable than what he was currently doing, he moved himself upright.
"Regenerated," he said, opening his eyes and smiling goofily at her. He felt absolutely wonderful. He liked feeling wonderful; it didn't happen often nowadays. "Sort of."
She shifted uncertainly. "How do you mean, 'sort of'?"
He frowned. "Umm," he said. "Well," he added.
Rose gave him a look that was absolutely withering. It made him want to snog her. (Instinctively, he pushed that thought away—then remembered that he didn't have to and dwelt on it quite happily.)
"I got hit with an absolutely lethal amount of radiation," he said, slipping into his characteristically rapid tone. It was slightly harder to speak that quickly in a human-ish body, he noted; sad, that. "Nothing I could do. I was standing in the TARDIS, quite… well… no, I wasn't happily regenerating… anyway. She started falling apart—"
His companion—no, wait, wife; he grinned quietly at the memory—frowned. "That doesn't make sense," she said. "The TARDIS didn't do anything of the sort last time, and I'd ripped her open."
The Doctor gaped at her for a moment. "You remember that?"
She shrugged. "You—he—" a wince crossed her expression for a moment— "told me." She swallowed. "Speaking of—the, um…" An uncharacteristic hesitation. "The other Doctor, where is he? Is he…?"
Ah. It was ridiculous to be annoyed at that—even more so than his occasional bouts of jealousy with regards to Nine. At least he had been a completely different person.
So, instead of being irritated, he smiled at her. "I'm him," he said.
She frowned, confused. "But you just said—"
He wagged a hand about, implying all kinds of insanely complicated temporal and metaphysical happenstances. "He was me," he said. "With the introduction of my own consciousness, we merged. It's like…" A moment's pause as he searched for a metaphor that she would understand. "Stick a giant rock in a creek," he finally settled on; "the water splits, goes around it, comes back together. 'S still the same creek, it just got… separated for a bit."
Their eyes met and he half-panicked, desperately hoping she would understand; six point six five two seconds went by, but they felt longer—years and years and years. Fascinating.
Finally, she bit her lip and nodded. "Okay," she said, and loosed a little huff of surprised, nervous laughter. He grinned up at her as she got to her feet and extended a hand to help him do the same.
"I love you," he commented, because he was allowed to say it now. Whatever response she was going to make, however, was lost in an earshattering roar from somewhere disturbingly close to them.
"That's—" Rose began.
"The insanely dangerous Glakkavoff lizard that's been chasing us for the past five minutes and thirty-seven seconds?" he guessed.
She laughed, really laughed, the way he hadn't heard her do since before Canary Wharf (and, contradictorily, since a few seconds before he'd passed out as well). Giddy with an insane delight and so impossibly, wonderfully alive, the Doctor threaded his fingers between hers.
"Run," he told her, eyes glittering with mischief—and they did.
A universe away, a half-dead TARDIS chuckled as the trans-Voidal fracture she had nearly killed herself to create slid into nonexistence.
So that's done then. Dunno if it made you feel better, but it did me, so…
Contrary to popular belief, I love you all. I'll try to get back to my old fanficcing routine, really I will. –hugs-
BTW, I'm in the Support Stacie April Author Auction, which really takes place in March. :)