Disclaimer: I certainly don't own Doctor Who or it's characters. Once again I'm just borrowing them from the BCC, to use for fanfiction. Don't worry. They are never missing long enough to miss any filming of episodes.
A/N: Okay more authors notes again for this one. Of course there are already TONS of fanfics for 'the End of Time' and most of these are for the end of the episode. But nevertheless, after recently re-watching that one, I really wanted to write one of my own. It ended up quite different than i wanted to write it when I started, but I actually really like the way it turned out, so I'm not going to mess with it anymore. So... different kind of story but please give it a chance.
Also, it should be noted that I personally, from a fan and view point of view, don't see the idea of regeneration as being anything akin to death at all. Same guy, different bodies and personalities I think, but sadly the tenth Doctor would likely disagree on that note. So I tried to write with that in mind.
I could have done so much more! The thought echos through my mind, as the waves of pain I've fought off for at least the last couple of hours, course through my body with greater force. It's growing impossible to ignore it now... impossible to deny the inevitable. My life, at least as I know it, is at it's end, and I can do nothing. This is a fixed point - and even I cannot change such a thing. There's no way I should have tried to hold it off as long as I did. It's been only a couple of hours, but still that's too long, and had a terribly negative effect. It was worth the effort of course. I got my reward. Saved the lives of a few people that would have certainly been killed otherwise, got to see that the greatest friends I've ever had in this lifetime were happy. No matter how much trouble waiting so long caused, I'm glad I did. I cut it so close. Far too close I have to admit. A foolish thing to do. What if I had not safely made it back inside? Oh well, no matter now. I did make it back here safely. No use thinking of terrible what ifs now, is there.
I've never been completely conscious at this point before, at the time of any previous regeneration. Always by this point, it seems like I've always either completely lost consciousness long before, or been completely distracted by flashing images of my life's memories. This time it's so different than ever before. This time I am terrified and weak and the pain is becoming relentless and terrible. Regenerating is always a bit uncertain and certainly has always made me nervous and I'll admit even scared me, (though I never could admit that to a companion.) This time however it's so different and so much worse. I feel so awful... well more awful than can quite reasonably be expected in any case.
I move the TARDIS into an orbit above the Earth, but I don't bother to dematerialize. Strange to think that this is the last time I will ever press buttons and pull switches in this body. It feels almost surreal as I look up and watch the time rotor's slow rising and falling motion. One last switch to pull, for just one more moment I need to be practical and think. My ship must be set stationary in this present time, so as she will just stay where she is in both time and space. Which switch is it? I know all of these controls, and the correct uses of most of them, but now I can barely think straight. With my head pounding with pain I find the right one and slow and carefully pull it. Even the physical effort of pulling a switch is surprisingly difficult. I reflect in passing that I should not even be trying to fly right now. Ah well, surely this cannot be the most reckless thing I've ever tried to do in my long existence. I stand staring up at the moving time rotor for a few brief moments and then I step away from the console.
Standing still is hard enough, and walking anywhere even within the small space of the console room is worse. I can barely convince my legs to support me without leaning against any solid structure in the room, to hold my balance. The pain and weakness is of course the biggest reason for the hard time I'm having with motion, but I must also put some of it down to my increasing terror what what is to come. It's an unknown. Always a great unknown, and this is not the kind of unknown I enjoy at all. This is genuine and true fear, and not at all a good and exciting kind at all.
So afraid now. Much to uncertain. I can't do it this time. My mind is screaming without words. Mentally I search and reach out for the awareness I know I should easily find. Disoriented, dizzy and overcome with panic I cannot find it by myself. My eyes are wide open and looking ahead of me at a wall, but I am barely seeing it. My vision is clouded and unfocused. I am vaguely aware that I am still standing in the middle of the room, with a somewhat reasonable sense of stability, but I can barely feel the floor under my feet. I never have gotten used to this sense of detachment. It still, scares me more than I have ever cared to admit even to myself, after all this time. To remind myself with a great amount of determination, that this is normal and safe helps a bit, but I'm still so afraid. I've never done this before while both conscious and without anyone nearby. It certainly helps to have a companion around.
Help me please. This time I'm all alone. My mind is still shouting, calling out to the connection that I know I could find if I had more focus than I have. Terrible how panic makes one lose all sense of rational thought and reason. I could almost laugh at the insanity of my situation, if I wasn't so scared and so distracted by pain. I've lost my mental connection to my own TARDIS while I'm actually standing inside. I certainly can't say I've ever heard of a Time Lord doing such a foolish thing before. For a moment I worry that perhaps I have not lost the connection at all. How after all, does one just misplace a psychic link? Perhaps she has blocked the link herself and has lost me instead of the other way around. Is that even possible? I feel more alone than ever before, and once more I search for the lost link.
Doctor, I have found you again. A quiet and gentle but powerful and commanding voice says in my head. Please stay calm. It's alright.
I am flooded with relief at gaining connection again. Now that I have one less thing to panic over I can think slightly more clearly, and I finally realize what's happened. She did not break our link. She never would and I'm still not even sure that's even possible at any rate. In the mad panic I was rapidly descending into as I came inside, I had without even realizing it, put up mental blocks to protect myself. The song of the universe, I now remember, was pounding through my mind with such intensity that it horrified me. Of course when throwing such quickly created mental blocks around myself I had even blocked my own ship from my mind. It had taken her a brief time to first understand what I had done and then to rebuild the link again.
I cannot do this again, I mentally project the thought to her. Not so soon. I'm not ready to go yet.
It will be fine. it always is. Remember every other time? It's always worked out alight hasn't it?
Yes of course, but everything is different now. I say nothing more on the matter. There is little need to say everything more about it. I know she both understands everything I feel about this and at the same time cannot comprehend it in the same way. Her mind works very different from that of either a Time Lord or a human. It's impossible to even understand at the best of times exactly how a TARDIS thinks and processes emotions, feelings and ideas.
Of course it's different now. Always different, ever changing, never ending. This song is ending but the story never ends.
Please, not that line again. Not you to. Too philosophical and cryptic to try to get my head around now.
But it's so important to remember. A life ending without reaching an end... beautiful thought.
Please don't make me think in complex terms or impossible contradictions right now. It's most distracting.
I would laugh if I wasn't half as upset and scared, and in such a state of physical pain. I can see now entirely what she was trying to do, and I do have to give her thanks and credit for trying. I weakly project a thought of thanks for her effort as I try to stop my self from trembling in fright. I don't ever remember such a feeling of my hands and knees shaking so much even in the days of my early childhood staring up into the face of the strictest of my academy professors, and trying in my silly and helpless little eight year old voice, to explain why I didn't think it was wrong to interfere with lower societies sometimes if it meant true benefit to them and the end to a great injustice. I was certainly full of nerve back even in my childhood wasn't I? I reflect to myself, and for a moment I feel calmer. It feels when I think about it, as though I was the same person back then as I am now. Far younger and still not yet having experienced most of anything that has since become part of the vast expanse of my memory. I am really always the same man though throughout every regeneration, or just the result of a transfer of memories from one life to another, giving me an illusion of sameness?
Now who's being philosophical? Once again I would laugh at my ship's telepathic message if I could. Over the many years that she has been mine, I have learned more and more about her. I used to scoff at the very idea that she was actually alive. I'd been told many long years ago that such a machine did indeed have a living consciousness, but never had I truly believed or understood it. Not until I had heard this one's thoughts and learned of her nature. My time machine has her own personality. That I will never dare to doubt anymore.
You are the same, always. I hear her reply to my previous thought in her head. Same person with many different aspects. This time it will be no different of a case. You will always seem the same to me, your mind does of course remain intact in full.
Yes, but this time everything is different. I actually like myself as I am. This lifetime was in a way, the best of them.
In many ways, this time yes. But perhaps that was my mistake. I too attached to everything and everyone, and in the end I am alone.
"You are not all alone," the telepathic voice says softly in my head. You will never be all alone. You still have me.
And for that I must thank you.
Yes. My answer is less than confidant and certainly does little in the way of portraying false bravery. No use trying to send false feelings to her anyway. She will realize the truth. No!
You are more ready than you think you are. The next version of you shall be greater than you know.
I try give in then. I have to. There is no choice left now, and I know that there never really was. This was a fixed point in time all along,and nothing I might have done, even had things gone differently, would have saved me. Fixed points, I know all too well, are set firmly in place, and cannot be avoided. Oh my... I'm so scared now. My heart rate speeds up more and I am inwardly trembling with fright. It seems so logical to drop to the floor onto my knees and cry and scream in terror and helplessness and rage at my loss, but more so I feel that would be so very undignified. The pain feels different now. Not so much a steady aching, as much now as extreme heat. Never been this warm at this stage before.
Something is wrong this time! I communicate telepathically.
No, everything is fine. You mustn't panic so much. Just breathe.
I try to catch my breath and finally manage to do so at least somewhat. Another wave of pain forces it's way throughout every imaginable part of my body. It's worse this time. I cannot even be sure whether the exact cause of all this painful suffering is a stage of regeneration, or an advancement of radiation poisoning. Does it really matter at anymore at this moment? How I manage to stay steady on my feet, I will never know, but it feels like a brief and yet wonderful small victory. With my determination focused on staying on my feet, I take several more deep breaths and try harder to drive away the pain from my body. Slowly and with some far greater effort than I might have ever thought would be necessary for such a small and simple task, I lift my hands a little, and see that both are glowing with golden light now. It's all so final now. I don't want this life to be over. There is so much I could have done, so much I could have seen. I want so much for the freedom of running fast, and the excitement of meeting the next person who might just change my life.
It's alright. it's alright.
Please don't be difficult. But of course you always were a stubborn and determined one. Not always a bad thing at all of course. You saved me once from certain doom and you never stopped saving me from everything after that day. So often refused to give up on anyone even when others said the word impossible. You have saved so many for so long.
Never forget that you once saved me too. You did not have to fly for me before we formed a link, if you had not wanted to. You could have refused to take off and rescue me from home.
You are correct of course, but then, you've always known that. I flew because I wanted to. Two of us who could never belong anywhere. We have always trusted one another. Can you still trust me now?
I would never stop.
Then please let me help you.
The glowing light grows brighter and stronger. My TARDIS is trying to boost the energy and trigger a shift. I understand that I have left it for too long and fought too hard against it when my biological function tried to take over on it's own, that I might not even be capable of doing it on my own now. Her consciousness searches through my mind trying to find something. I am vaguely aware of her intent and I trust her entirely, but I don't even bother to really take notice at this point. The pounding in my head, the aching throughout my body, the trembling fear and the dizzying warmth is too much, without trying to pay attention to anything else.
I can sense her emotions more and more clearly. She is putting less and less effort into hiding them from me and had clearly decided that such deliberate efforts are starting to become of lower and lower priority. She is growing frustrated at a situation I am in no condition to work out in my head at this point. Her frustration turns to real ad true fear. It is almost beyond belief. She is afraid in a situation she has never been frightened by before. of course she can get scared too, and she does, but she hide it well and it doesn't happen often in any case. It takes far more to frighten her than it does even myself. She is partly disconnecting the psychic link - doing precisely what I did not think was possible. The link is rapidly being reworked so that in only a fraction of a second it will function in a different way then is usual. I can sense her intention, and the realization something I have never seen before is enough to snap me partly back to functional thinking. She is trying to block the emotional link between us, and take the transfer of thought with it, leaving only what could best be described at remote access control of my mental functions. She wants to maintain of control of a process that is now completely out of my hands, but cannot risk dumping to much uncertainty into the link... so she thinks to partly break it to avoid any risk. She has sensed the nature of my emotional state and realizes how her own emotions could make it so much worse. But she has also misunderstood. Mentally I practically scream at her in panic.
No no no! Please don't do that. If I lose your presence I'll be completely alone.
We will reestablish the link back to its typical format in a brief time.
Just... please don't. Not this way.
My own mind is battling for control and struggling desperately to hold my connection to her. She takes the hint and most thankfully she gives up her most resent idea. I would much prefer to receive even her negative and doubtful feelings than to be left on my own, and she knows that now.
I can sense her thoughts once again and I come to understand that the entire regenerative process had stalled completely. never has anything of this sort happened before. Not quite in this way. The TARDIS is at least still managing to maintain the built up energy, and she refusing to let go of it now. Her intention is to at least spare me having to go through completely starting over if she can help it. I have most undoubtably struggled to hard at first and somehow managed to confuse the entire biological system. She is still thinking at rapid speed, processing any and all information available to her and from any accessible source, as to who to do.
If the process is unable to complete, and do so very soon, the physical damage that caused me to need to regenerate in the first place can still kill me. All around me, I can sense her panic. I can't just give up now, Her voice says forcefully in my head. You will have to keep trusting me.
It's been only a few brief seconds, I know. But somehow it seems like an almost infinite time. It's never cease to both amaze and somewhat confuse me that the mind can work so fast that seconds can feel like they logically must take hours.
I am about to die. This time, I will really die and never exist even in a new body and mind!
I'm not about to let that happen. Not after everything. After all the years and the running and adventures.
I'm sorry. I was so stupid. You will have to give up.
I am not about to give up yet. One more idea. And I to am sorry, my Doctor. We will have to do this the very difficult way.
I cannot even prepare myself for the change. I am mentally and emotionally and certainly way past physically exhausted. Ready as I will ever be I suppose, I find myself thinking with determination. I take a few more breaths and try to calm myself, with only a little success. Her mental presence is all around me and with my own mind I feel myself holding tighter to it. The force of a sudden blast of energy and power and light is almost too much. I can remember every previous regeneration to at least some small extent and nowhere in my memory is such a feeling of burning heat. I feel as though I am about to be ripped to pieces by a sheer force I've lost all control over. Waves upon waves or panic and terror seems to bring more pain,a nd the more pain I feel the worse the panic gets. This has to end soon, doesn't it. The entire process, more complicated than it should ever have become, has already seemed to go on for so very long, and now this is far too much. My mind is screaming and not really saying anything at all. How tempting to allow myself to fall into unconsciousness with little concern for what might happen next. But I know that would not be ideal at all. It could be nearly disastrous at this point. Besides, I am far to stubborn and determined. I will not let that happen.
Help me! Please help me! Something is wrong!
You're alright. You need to stop panicking so much.
Please help me. I can't think straight. I'm scared... terrified this time.
I know. I am trying to help you.
The regenerative force, for the first time I can recall in all my lifetimes, feels completely destructive instead of restorative. My eyes are still open wide and I find myself staring at something, perhaps a wall or ceiling or even the floor, without it even registering what I am seeing. No sense or up or down, left of right. I can't feel anything under my feet and the idea that there is actually still a physical structure of the universe beyond the orange light and agonizing pain, is close to being a foreign concept. My already unclear and clouded sense of reality is rapidly slipping away from me, taking with it my sense of reason. Even through my detected sense of awareness, I feel that the panic and terror of the moment has departed from my mind, leaving only the uncertainty, and disorienting pain. So much for being ahead of anything without the frantic panic. I must admit instantly that this is so much worse.
I'm sorry. I'm very very sorry. The telepathic voice on my ship still holds a firm presence in my mind and for that I am more relieved than ever. I can feel her feelings as clearly as my own though still, and I can clearly sense that she is close to what I would think of in my terms as crying. She feels terrible about having to do this to me, but I will forgive her of course. She is temperaily lending her life-force to boost my bodies own restoration capabilities. She has taken her shields down though and while the overly powerful streams of energy crash against her console, she has no protection against it. I know this is bad. Horrible in fact. But somehow I cannot even care at this moment in time. I can only hope that she has more control over everything than I think, because I certainly have none at all.
This is all too much. I can't even think about what to do next.
Nothing to be thought of. Just like every time before, the function will work on its own now. remember? Think back to times long past.
I can barely think of anything at all!
Then just focus on being calm now.
The seconds have once again slowed to feel like endless hours. It has to end any second now, but I cannot see an end in sight. My eyes snap shut from the relentless assault of the unending pain. I'd have had to close my eyes any second now anyway, but this is not the same at all. Nothing is within my range of control now, and even my thoughts are only somewhat sensible. I try to concentrate on letting this reach an end so that I can help my ship, which is undoubtably in some trouble now herself.
She has thrown the greater part of my conscious awareness away from my mind and body with shocking and sudden force, before I even have the time to react to it, and for a moment I feel I exist only in the void of time and space. Her fast decision and quick move was one I could have stopped had I been trying, but I was not. I could be utterly furious at her for doing something so drastic with the mind of her controller, and for taking such advantage of the psychic link that way do such a strange thing. Indeed I had not even known her own mind was that powerful. Yet I have no real feeling either way toward the matter. She had only done such a thing to stop me from going into a state of serious mental and emotional shock. There is nothing here at all but darkness and own thoughts. I can still feel her mental presence, keeping a firm hold on my mind so that she might quickly pull me back to where I belong; but we say nothing to one another.
My mental and conscious awareness and sense of being is thrown back into my physical form so quickly, that for a brief moment I do not even realize I have been returned at all - and with such force that I am plainly disoriented by the sense of motion without really moving. My eyes reopen quickly, and in great startled surprise I try to focus my vision to see where I am. Still blurry, still unclear but it feels like should know where I am anyway. I urge my mind to think and inwardly curse my frustration at my slowness to catch on.
A loud and terrible scream is pouring from within myself and only then do I realize for the first time and I am screaming out loud. In embarrassment and confusion I snap my mouth shut and immediately stop doing that. There was orange light everywhere around me, I remember and I look again, this time my eyes slightly more focused and see it rapidly dissipate. With careless and uncoordinated movements I step forward just to get a feel of the stable surface under my feet, and I nearly stumble over. In a foggy daze I catch myself, for a moment I just stand still again. The understanding of everything that's just happened is returning to me with surprising speed. I am so grateful for that understanding, because even though it means remembering so much pain and horror and grief, I can also remember how to function on a physical level. It's like this every time, I remember that as well. The mental fog and the momentary loss of any idea as to who or what I am. My body and brain work using only automatic instinctual ability for a brief moment as my brain catches up to itself again.
A fast and scatterbrained inventory. Yes I seem have body parts that work as they should. Legs, arms hands, eyes, so far so good. I find myself speaking out loud, rambling near complete nonsense, as though there is someone to speak to. I feel my hair with my hands and this is where I begin to become confused again. longer than I would have thought it should be. I have been turned into a female! No, no, that's impossible...isn't it? No, I am thankfully mistaken. No unexpected and strange surprises like that and certainly nothing even worse.
Oh god... I'm so confused. I need to get it together, and soon.
Welcome back to reality. If theTARDIS could smile I know that's what she would do now. But her telepathic voice is also quiet in my head. It occurs to me for the first time, just how weakened she is herself, and I become aware of the fact that she's been badly damaged.
The feeling of having forgotten something begins slowly but quickly builds until it's a pressing and urgent thought, forcing it's way to the front of my conscious mind, and refusing to leave me alone again. I start to pace the room a little bit, glad that I can move again as I should be able to. Taking a few steps, I tap the side of my head in frustration. What is that I've forgotten? What could be so important? Do I really have to think right now?
Of course! Now I remember. It has to be the fact that my ship is damaged, that needed my attention so urgently. And hadn't I just been thinking that not a second ago, before I forgot her again! A banging sound startles me to a more clear level of common sense. The noise came out out of nowhere, and the very sudden bumping feeling I feel must be connected to it somehow. This can't be right. Why do I feel fast rapid motion?
With one last attempt to shake off the mental fuzziness, I look at the console monitor. Numbers constantly moving and shifting in front of my eyes on the screen. The speed gage, is moving up and up, listing higher and higher number. We are moving faster and faster. Altitude? Oh yes, that's right. I was in orbit wasn't I? I remember the effort it took to set everything stable, while in a terrible state of health. I look again at the numbers on the in the corner of the monitor. Altitude is dropping and dropping and still dropping as the speed picked up and up again.
We are going to crash! Can you stabilize?
I've tried Doctor. I'm completely off balance.
I look again at the monitor and as more of my mental clarity returns I realize there is nothing I can do either. Holding on for the sake of personal safety seems wise at this point. I grab hold of the edge of the console,and think once more of a way to fix this fast enough. It;s so far back to the ground that I have a few minutes at least before I need to really brace for impact. It sure will be a bumpy ride though.
Not off to a very good start now are we, old girl?
We've survived worse. How many times have we crashed before?
You are already disabled and damaged. is it likely your structure can even survive hitting the ground hard?
No. My calculations show that my internal structure cannot withstand such a thing in my current state. external is slightly more structurally sound still, but cannot fully withstand that either.
But surely there's something we can do... a way to save the structure.
There isn't. Do not give the matter further thought however. I will rebuild. Surely you can remember how many times I've done so before.
But you so liked this interior structure.
I did, and I still do. But the time has come for a change. I don't mind changing again. change can be a good thing, of course.
I look around the interior and for the first time, I really see the whole room again. There are small fires still burning but as controlled as they can be considering the nature of fire. A support beam have shattered into bits and let pieces scattered in a terrible mess over the floor. The whole room just looks so smokey and dusty, and sparks are pouring in a steady stream from underneath the console.
How can you even still be capable of communicating?
Telepathic circuits stable, and psychic link holding as strong as ever.
Aren't you in pain?
I don't experience pain in the same way as you would. I can turn that function off in order to protect myself. Keep holding on whatever you do. In brief moments we will hit very hard.
And that doesn't bother you?
No. I will rebuild. I have no fear.
A sense of adventure I've never seen from you before. Not in quite this way.
Well I learned it from you. We will survive it alright.
I would tell her that I believe as well that we can survive with little difficulty, but she already senses that I believe it. She has already done her best, using all the engine can still do for us, to plot a course for land. No use crash landing into the middle of the ocean. That's one thing that's never happened yet, and of course it's best that we keep it that way.
I don't tell her that I feel as I would easily imagine it must feel to be hit by a London commuter train at full speed, after running a marathon, either. But I know she already knows that too.
Oh okay... well that ended up being a really weird story. Certainly far more strange than I wanted at first. I had a different angle in mind but isn't it amazing how sometimes fiction seems to write itself? hahaha. Totally different direction than I planned on. The TARDIS seems to have developed a personality... and some crazy mental and psychic powers. Ah well, Please review, even if you hated it, and certainly if you liked it. I love hearing your opinions so that I can improve.