A/N: So this is the last chapter. Thanks for reading what is basically my way of coping with my post-Tennant depression. =)
And an especially large thanks to everyone who reviewed. I'll dedicate this chapter to you, shall I?
Chapter 13: Better Than a Bomb
The Cybermen stood at attention, utterly motionless, blasters pointed at the door. Eventually, the humans would come out. Their weak emotions – loneliness, boredom, fear – would force them to come out. They would have no such problems when they became Cybermen.
The door to the break room opened, and the Cybermen prepared to fire as a small object came flying out.
The blinding flash prevented them from seeing three figures dart from the door and make a mad dash for the stairs. They were already halfway up by the time the Cybermen recovered enough to follow them.
The Doctor shouldered the stairwell door to the top floor open, then froze in his tracks. Rose and Jack collided into his back.
Three feet away, a Cyberman's blaster was primed and aimed directly at the Doctor's head. A split second later, Rose and Jack both yelled when they realized what was happening, but the Doctor knew it was too late.
He closed his eyes and heard the blast.
But nothing hit him. He opened his eyes.
The Cyberman sizzled on the floor at his feet. Standing over it, holding a warm Bastic blaster and looking terrified out of her mind, was Jackie Tyler.
"I fired it! I can't believe I fired it!" exclaimed Jackie, almost dropping the gun. "Are you okay?"
"Fine, yes, thank you," said the Doctor, recovering from the shock and eying her weapon suspiciously. "Where did you get a Bastic blaster? That thing's powerful enough to rip through a Dalek casing!"
Jackie pointed behind her, and the Doctor, Rose, and Jack all took in the scene before them. Hartman was swinging a large Sontaran blaster and whacking it at a Cyberman's head. Around her, Torchwood survivors were firing a wide assortment of weapons or, like Hartman, swinging them like clubs. The Cybermen were fighting back, blasters having already claimed five of the Torchwood group. More would soon follow if something wasn't done soon.
More Cybermen were also marching up the stairs, their cries of "Delete" approaching closer and closer. The Doctor, Rose, and Jack hurriedly ran with Jackie into the melee as the Cybermen from downstairs entered the battle.
With this group of newcomers, the human (and Time Lord) force was now completely surrounded and outnumbered three to one.
"Hartman!" called the Doctor, leading his group tentatively over to Hartman, who had managed to distract one Cybermen enough for one of her employees taking cover behind the TARDIS to shoot it. "Hartman, you've got to surrender!"
"We're not surrendering!" shrieked Hartman, jamming the barrel of her blaster into the Doctor's chest, a frenzied look in her eyes.
The Doctor raised his hands in the air, tentatively glancing down at the gun prodding his sternum. "Look, we haven't got time for this – "
Rose stepped around the Doctor, pulled her fist back, and punched Hartman in the eye. Reeling from the impact, Hartman's grip was loose enough for Rose to yank the Sontaran blaster away.
Hartman, the Doctor, Jack, and Jackie all stared at her, shocked. Hartman held a hand pressed to her bruising eye.
"Will you listen to him JUST ONCE?!" yelled Rose.
Hartman remained utterly speechless, mouth open in a perfect 'o.'
"Right, we surrender!" announced the flustered Doctor, still staring at Rose. "Torchwood surrenders!"
"Er, yes," mumbled Hartman. Her voice soon increased in volume. "Torchwood! Weapons down! We surrender!"
Glancing at each other in confusion, the remaining Torchwood survivors lowered their weapons and lifted their hands, and the Cybermen ceased fire.
The Cyber-Leader surveyed the group. "You will come peacefully?"
Hartman and several Torchwood survivors opened their mouths to protest.
"Course we will!" announced the Doctor, stepping forward.
"And you will become our new Cyber-Leader?"
"Course I will! Mind you," the Doctor started to wander around the room, weaving between the motionless Cybermen and Torchwood survivors. "Don't know why I didn't see it before! After all, who doesn't want to live longer?"
"Then help us to fix the upgrading machine. This whole planet will join us within a week with your help."
The Doctor continued meandering through the room, nearing the Cyber-Leader, and resumed speaking as if he hadn't heard it speaking. "Thing is, though, I've already lived a long, long, time. And you know what? It's not worth it without emotions."
"Even loss? Or grief? Or pain?" challenged the Cyber-Leader. "Have you ever felt those?"
The Doctor smiled sadly. "Oh, yes."
"Then do you not wish to eliminate those feelings?"
The Doctor shook his head. "Nope. I'd be better off dead. Someone rather brilliant once told me that pain and loss define us as much as happiness and love. And she was right. Besides, I don't suppose you have happiness or love either?"
"Of course we do not," said the Cyber-Leader in a tone approaching haughtiness. "Cybermen are free of emotions."
"But that's where you're wrong. You see, it's like I said before – you can't erase that brilliant little human spark. It goes on, on throughout time and all over the universe, its own little empire of creativity, curiosity, innovation, persistence, bravery, kindness….It's one of the reasons I love humans." He glanced over at Rose. "Some more than others." He pondered for a moment. "That and their tea. You lot make excellent tea."
"We are not human. We are Cybermen."
"Oh, that's right, you've certainly managed to suppress your humanity." The Doctor glided closer and closer to the Cyber-Leader. "Because the humans I know? They live such short lives. But they make the most of it! Marking out time with birthdays and holidays and calendars, creating art and literature and music and brilliant films, trying to make sense of the universe around them...even if they're horrible at it…." In the corner of his eye, the Doctor could see Hartman huffing angrily.
"But what leads to all that? What fuels it?" the Doctor continued, close enough to touch the Cyber-Leader's steel frame. He casually circled around it, still rambling. "Emotions! Some of the best art has sprung from sorrow, some of the most brilliant humans suffered grief or pain. And you used to be able to appreciate that. You used to be able to feel." He paused. "And I think you still do. Frustration that I won't join you, for example."
"But we feel nothing!" protested the Cyber-Leader. "The emotions are gone!"
"Well, not really," continued the Doctor, stopping his circling to stand directly in front of the Cyber-Leader. "Thing is, emotions are part of that innate humanity you've suppressed in your attempt at achieving perfection. You might not be feeling anything here," the Doctor lightly placed a hand on his chest. "But you are…in there." He firmly prodded at the Cyber-Leader's skull in just the right place.
The results were instantaneous. The Cyber-Leader howled as it clutched its head and dropped to its knees. All around the Lever Room, Cybermen seized and screamed in agony as the emotional inhibitor cancellation code shredded the mental block keeping them sane.
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry," the Doctor said softly as he contemplated their writhing forms. Somewhere below, he knew, upwards of 600 people were wailing in similar emotional torment, if their brains were still intact enough to think.
A soft hand took his. "Run?" suggested Rose. Half of Torchwood had already escaped the top floor, abandoning their semi-useless weaponry.
The Doctor gave her a small smile. "Run."
When the screaming finally died, the small group of Torchwood survivors and friends of the Doctor huddled in a mass on the next-to-last floor, just below the Lever Room.
"Oh, Rose!" Jackie cried, flinging her arms around her daughter. "I'm so glad you're okay."
"Me too," Rose replied with a grin, returning her hug. "And look at you! Can't believe you saved the Doctor. I'd never let him live that down if I were you."
Jackie pulled back, sniffing. "Oh, I must be a state! Anyway, I found this." She handed Rose her phone back.
"Thanks, Mum!" Rose said, pocketing it, "Thought I'd never get it back if the Doctor lost it."
"And you!" Jackie snatched the Doctor by the wrist and yanked him closer. "Found this." She pressed the sonic screwdriver into his palm.
"My sonic screwdriver!" exclaimed the Doctor with delight, "I love my sonic screwdriver!"
Jack and Rose's eyes met in mutual silent laughter at the Doctor's joy at being reunited with his favorite tool.
Jack suddenly felt a tug as Jackie squashed him in a tight hug. "And you! Thank you for keeping her safe!"
Jack wriggled slightly in response. No smile was charming enough to escape a Tyler hug.
Meanwhile, the Torchwood survivors were comforting each other and chattering amongst themselves. Ianto and Lisa were checking each other over for injuries, relieved to see that there weren't any. Rajesh was in deep conversation with Hartman about what to do with the Cybermen bodies.
"Their technology was simply amazing!" gushed Rajesh. "Their ability to control the mind, not to mention their near impenetrable armor…."
"Oh, yes," remarked Hartman thoughtfully, "Plenty to keep studying! We'll come back, analyze their bodies, discover how that machinery works….it could end up being very useful."
The Doctor whirled around to face Hartman. "You're not going to get a chance to examine the bodies."
Hartman rolled her eyes. "Oh don't start that again – "
"But you see, I like to finish what I start," the Doctor said, his voice low and dangerous.
"She's a bit full of herself, isn't she?" Jackie murmured to Rose.
"I heard that!" snapped Hartman.
"Now Jackie, let's be nice," scolded the Doctor. Jackie folded her arms and glared at him in a huff. "Settled are we?" Jackie refused to answer.
"Right, then…and now for you lot." The Doctor whipped out his sonic screwdriver and played with the settings. "This is goodbye." He found the right setting, aimed the screwdriver at the floor, and pressed the button. The blue light flashed on and off, and the Doctor inspected it carefully. "There we go." In a louder voice, he announced, "You have ten minutes to leave the building."
"Excuse me?" said Hartman, eyebrows raised in disbelief, "I'm prepared to offer you amnesty because of your help – "
"Let me rephrase that," the Doctor interrupted, turning to face the small crowd of Torchwood survivors. "This building," he waved his arms widely, "Is not going to be here in nine minutes and fifty-five – ooh, fifty-four seconds. If you don't want to leave with it, get out of here right now. If you take anything with you, I'll know. And do you know how I'll know that? Because you won't make it out. There's just enough time to clear the building if you start running right now." His eyes glinted madly as he roared, "RUN!"
The terrified ex-Torchwood employees scattered in a rushed exodus, leaving Hartman to stand defiantly.
"What, you want to know where the building's going?" The Doctor looked bemused.
"I want to know how."
"Fine. It's something alien."
Hartman's eyes widened as she directed her gaze at Jack, who waved smugly. "That thing from the warehouse….you planted a bomb."
"Oh, even better than a bomb!" The Doctor's delighted grin grew even wider. "Generates loads of static electricity and is going to transport this entire building! Tell you what, how about a little deal? I'll tell you where the building is going – and where you're going if you don't start running – if you tell me where you put the things you took from my pockets when I got here."
Hartman hesitated for a moment. "Top left drawer of my desk, under a false bottom."
"Thank you," said the Doctor sincerely. "Torchwood Tower is headed towards the Shadow Proclamation – sort of an intergalactic police force. It's going to arrive with a very detailed report about one Yvonne Hartman, Earth inhabitant, with crimes including imprisonment of a foreign-sentient creature, attempted universe destruction, and further endangerment of an endangered species. So," his voice darkened, in full Oncoming Storm mode, "Go. Go back to your pitiful existence. Keep your head down and hope they don't notice you. Because if they do, if they hear even a whisper of you, Yvonne Hartman, you will be unspeakably sorry and beg for mercy that will never be granted." He slowly advanced on Hartman as he continued. "And if you start this organization up again, if you even think about developing more alien weapons, and most especially, if you contact anyone I've known or ever will know, I will find you, and you will be even sorrier, because nothing will be able to save you. I'll make sure of that."
Hartman stood, no longer defiant, but absolutely petrified at the Doctor's fierce gaze.
"You have eight minutes and twenty-three seconds. NOW RUN!"
Hartman turned and ran, tripping on her vomit-stained high heels in her haste.
The Doctor turned back to Rose, Jack, and Jackie. "Shall we go up then?"
Wordlessly, they followed him upstairs, stepping tentatively over the Cybermen bodies.
"You can get in the TARDIS if you like," the Doctor said lightly, "I just need to pick up a few things." He strode over through the cracked glass to Hartman's office and rummaged through the top left drawer, excitedly sticking his found belongings into his bottomless pockets.
"Is he always that scary?" Jackie whispered to Rose, alarmed by the Doctor's sudden shift from threatening to cheerful.
"Sometimes, yeah," whispered Rose back, "But he's old, Mum. The things he's seen….so much war and evil." But that was the Doctor for you.
"Hey, Doctor!" called Jack as the Doctor delightedly located his rubber duck, "I didn't realize those coordinates were for the Shadow Proclamation."
"Oh, they're not!" the Doctor called back, jamming the duck into his pocket. "You think I want that lot knowing I exist? Nah, I just wanted Hartman properly terrified. I'll be keeping an eye on her."
"Well, where're you sending it then?" asked Jackie.
"Pluto!" the Doctor beamed proudly, closing the desk drawer and walking back over to them, his TARDIS key in hand. "You lot don't colonize it for millennia after it loses planet status."
"What do you mean, 'loses planet status?'" asked Rose as they piled into the console room.
"Oh, Rose, I forgot, you haven't caught up in your current events, have you?" exclaimed the Doctor, his mouth stretching to a smug grin. "Pluto lost planet status in 2006."
"Seriously? What's my very educated mother suppose to serve nine of, then?"
The Doctor's smugness vanished as he stared at Rose. "What? How educated is your mother?"
"Oi!" said Jackie, glaring.
"It's an Earth mnemonic," explained Jack, "And it's actually My Very Educated Mate Just Served Us Nine Commendable Pizzas with Everything But Pepperoni Fragments."
Rose stared blankly at Jack.
"The universe got bigger?" he shrugged.
"Mate?" Rose said finally, raising an eyebrow.
"'Mother' isn't politically correct."
"Oh!" said the Doctor in realization, "I get it! Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Ceres, Pluto, Eris, Bob, Proserpina, and Fortuna! I took you there for chips, Rose, right after Rome, do you remember?"
"You didn't mention it was in my solar system!" replied Rose indignantly, "And I thought you said Pluto wasn't a planet?"
Jack shrugged. "There was a revival protest movement after they discovered Bob."
"Bob?" Jackie finally asked, utterly unable to comprehend the entire conversation.
"Long, tragic story," said the Doctor, waving a hand dismissively. "I should know, I was there." He dashed to the console. "Shall we see Torchwood Tower off then?"
A few buttons and one dematerialization later, the four stepped from the TARDIS across from Torchwood Tower and the ominous dark clouds hovering above it. The mob of frantic ex-employees poured from the doors out into the street.
"It's raining up," said Rose in awe as the Doctor put an arm around her shoulders.
"Yup," the Doctor popped the p, "H2O scoop. Brilliant to watch, isn't it?"
With a booming crackle, the Torchwood Tower vanished, leaving a gaping crater in the street.
"It'll have decomposed by the time they find it," said the Doctor gleefully, returning to the console controls. He clapped his hands together. "Where to, then?"
"Not Mars," declared Jackie, "I'm going to my flat, and I'm staying there! No more mad robots, no more ruddy aliens – "
"Got it. Powell Estate it is," said the Doctor dejectedly.
"Well, except for you, of course," Jackie added in exasperation.
The Doctor brightened considerably as he set the coordinates. A soft bump later, he bounced to the doors and flung them open. "There we are!"
Jackie turned to her daughter expectantly. "Are you staying with them then?"
"Yeah," said Rose, biting her lip and waiting for a lecture.
"Alright," Jackie sighed. "Just come home and visit. And call." Rose nodded.
"You," she jabbed a finger at the Doctor. "Don't let anything happen to my daughter."
"I won't," he said solemnly.
"And you," Jackie spun around to face Jack. "One more?" she said hopefully.
Jack grinned, snatched her around the waist, dipped her, and gave her a very deep snog.
Rose wrinkled her nose and averted her eyes. This was going to take a lot of time to forget. She cracked her eyes open, then shut them immediately. A lot of time.
After ten seconds, the Doctor cleared his throat. "Alright." Jack carried on, oblivious. "Alright!"
Jack swung Jackie back upright, released her, and saluted, still grinning.
A very flustered Jackie stepped from the TARDIS to her living room.
The Doctor sniffed as he shut the door. "Jack, really?"
"Hey, that's my mum you're talking about!" said Rose indignantly, caught between agreeing with the Doctor and feeling a bit insulted.
Jack shrugged as they dematerialized.
The Doctor turned to Rose. "You're really sure you don't want to stay with her? I mean, she's your mother – "
Rose stared at him in disbelief. "Doctor, you're so thick."
"Am not – "
Rose snatched his lapels and yanked him into a deep kiss.
Jack whistled. "And you thought my kiss was long?"
The snogging continued.
"Come on, that's not fair!"
Both ignored him.
"Seriously, guys, can I get in on this?"
Rose finally came up, gasping for air.
"No," answered the Doctor, now that his mouth was no longer occupied. He released his hold on Rose and turned to the console, rubbing his hands together. "Where to, then?"
"Fortuna," Rose licked her lips, "I want chips."
"Then chips you shall have!" The Doctor started his usual mad dash around the console controls.
"So what happened in Rome, then?" asked Jack conversationally.
Rose smiled, remembering. "It started with this statue…."
And before long strains of laughter reverberated throughout all of time.
Notes about the chapter: About the extra planets Jack mentioned: Ceres and Eris are actual dwarf planets in real life. Proserpina was a Roman goddess associated with Pluto. Fortuna was another Roman goddess, which I picked for the last planet so I could make reference to The Stone Rose. The audiobook's on YouTube somewhere. Go find it, it's brilliant.
And Bob….well, I needed something beginning with a B to make the mnemonic work, so I filled in Bob while I searched online for a good Roman god name….then realized that Bob was an awesome name for a planet. ^_^
A/N: I'd love to write a sequel for Two Months someday, but it may be awhile before I can actually come up with an idea, plot the whole story out, and write it. In the meantime, if anyone's interested, I have another story with a bit of DoctorWhump called Psychotropic. Just a funny little oneshot with Donna and a drugged Doctor.
And now some stats:
Jack's total death count: 7.
Amount of words (without Author's Notes): 29,996
Pages in Microsoft Word: 50 (in 8 point font!!)
Hours spent on this when I should have been doing schoolwork: Ummm…..a lot. =p
Thank you again everyone for reviewing!