Title- Fire of Ages
Characters/Pairings- Romana III and a glimpse of 8th Doctor
Rating- K+
Summary- Romana's last moments, as she helps the Doctor to ransom the universe. Also: coming attractions!

Fire of Ages

"Come with me! Romana, please, my whole family is dead. The entire House of Lungbarrow... they're all gone. You're the only friend I've got left."

It's a bittersweet memory, she thinks. He knew all well and good when he left that he would need someone on the inside, if the success of the Moment was to be assured. And who better than good old Romana? She's been in hiding since Rassilon deposed her in a vicious coup that even Daleks would admire. By all official record, she is dead. Probably even Rassilon assumes she's gone.

So who better than a dead girl to carry the Fire of Ages inside her right into the heart of this accursed War?

The Doctor wanted to do it himself; he asked her to be the one to flee beyond the closing walls of the Time Lock and detonate, with himself left behind within the War as the bearer of Gallifrey's final destruction. In the end, though, she wasn't strong enough. She was too cowardly to envision living the rest of her life alone, with nothing to show of her home but her own memories. The Doctor is braver.

"I can't. I'm scared, Doctor."

"And you think I'm not?"

"Doctor, you know what it would mean to be the one who detonates. It would mean a whole life all alone. No home... just eternity wandering the universe. The last of a race that might have been gods, but instead fell into shadow. I can't do it. I'm not strong enough to bear that."

"Who says I am?"

She recalls seeing tears slip down his latest face as he pleaded with her to live. He wanted her to be the one to survive. Maybe if Drax hadn't fallen trying to get her safely out of the Citadel, two of them could have survived. Maybe the legacy of Gallifrey could have continued, in some manner. But there were no maybes, because Drax had given his life to save her.

He had given his life to save her for this moment.

Romana stares into the vial of silvery liquid, pure Time energy scooped from the Vortex and (somewhat) stabilized in liquid form by dissolving into it the melted pieces of the Great Key. And then she drinks it. She can feel the Fires begin to burn under her skin, and knows she hasn't got long before it sears right through her.

The Fire of Ages, it is called, and such an event has only occurred twice in the living memory of Time Lords. The first time was assumed to be a fusion reaction that started the solar fires; the second led to the creation of the first black hole. Omega and the Other posited that the Fire of Ages, flowing through the veins of a Time Lord, might be a weapon of incredible power- but at the cost of the bearer's life. No one has ever before had the courage to try it, not even now at the end of all things.

Except... she does. She and the Doctor.

She will hold all things here in her grasp, and he, beyond the edge, will use the Moment to trigger the catalyst in her blood into a bomb the likes of which has never been seen before.

It is a terrible thing, she thinks, to know that she is the agent of destruction that will set her people on fire, but there is no other way.

And the Doctor... he is more than he seems. He will be alright. She knows this, because this is the gift of the Fire of Ages. All of Time running through her head as it has only once before, during her Initiation at the Schism.

She sees the future of her first and only love. He will survive, and there will be others who will travel with him as she did once. A blonde who will smooth his rough edges and turn his wounds into scars. A junior doctor who will stand by him and believe in him. A lost little Earth woman who will sear across the universe and relight the stars with the borrowed mind of a Time Lord, who will be her Doctor's breaking point. A pugnacious archeologist who will eventually have the one thing Romana always secretly wished for- the Doctor's hearts.

The Doctor wants Romana to live, she knows that. He doesn't want to be the bearer of this legacy; he thinks she deserves it more than he.

But the thing is, he's forgetting his own lessons. He taught her something she could never have gotten at the Academy: he taught her what living really was, and what's worth the sacrifice. If she had never run with the Doctor, she would never have been able to do this. She would be just one more of Rassilon's slobbering minions in the Citadel, and the universe would all be lost. She would never have known all the fire and glory that existed in the secret places across the stars.

The Doctor showed her all that. He showed her on Earth that some people live more in one century than many of her people have in dozens. And she's ready to burn out her life and make it count.

She feels her suddenly blood boil and rupture through her veins, and knows that, far above the planet, in a TARDIS beyond a rift in Time, the Doctor is shedding tears for her and for their world.

"Never fear," she whispers. "Oh what a life you'll have..."

The Fire of Ages burns through her and sears across the face of her world, burning Gallifrey to cinders, and on and out, setting the Dalek ships aflame, sending gouts of fire into the endless dark.

And at the center of it all stands Romana, preserved to the last as she transcends reality, becoming an entity of pure Time. She glows silver and blue and gold and knows that, if any eye were still alive to see her now, she would appear as a goddess, a single point of perfect synchronicity burning like a nova star. It does not last long, and she can feel herself burning out.

But just before her Fire goes out, she leaves her body and scatters across Time, finding hosts for the tiniest bits of her soul. Her gentler side settles into a human named Rose. Her determination latches onto a woman called Martha. Her compassion and empathy finds a home in the girl called Donna. And into all of them she pours out her love for the Doctor, as her could've-been-lover and as her best friend.

It isn't enough to save her though, and she is suddenly desperate to find an escape. As darkness takes her and begins eating at her memories, she flings herself desperately into a young child growing up lonely in the fifty-first century. She flees into the young woman's soul and fills it up with everything she has left: rage and brilliance and above all a fierce and impossible love for the Doctor who taught her what living really could be. It combines with the girl's natural sweet temperament to build a creature of incredible extremes and brilliant storms of emotion, and the Fire of Ages sears through them both, binding two souls together into one in the last act of the Time War.

And the Fire goes out.

Romana is gone, but her spirit lingers, unknowing, within the soul of River Song, determined to find her way back to the Doctor, to save him from the loneliness and the dark.

Well, that was odd, wasn't it? I still stand by my River-is-Romana theory. This is just a twist on it. And now, on to...

Coming Attractions
(Bear in mind that these are working titles)

Rhapsody in Blue- "The Doctor is just an invention, John. Just a character your broken mind made up to cope with losing your fiancée. And you built him a world in your head and populated it with familiar faces." John Smith is a psychiatric patient and a medical student. Rose Tyler is an exotic dancer/waitress in his favorite club. Martha Jones is John's hapless- and hopelessly devoted- coworker, while her clueless boyfriend, Mickey Smith, is his best friend. Sarah Jane is the big sister with whom he has had a falling-out. Romana is his vindictive ex-girlfriend. And 900 years of time and space were all a delusion. Or... were they? Because just as John is beginning to accept the reality his therapists tell him he has been hiding from, a girl appears. A blonde girl with two hearts and a message for the Doctor...

Coins at the Bottom of the Wishing Well- Set sometime after The Next Doctor, three concurrent storylines run together as the Cardiff Rift opens. Busy days at Torchwood lead to Jack hiring on another hand, a mystery girl who goes only by Jenny and who carries an impressive collection of concealed weapons. The Doctor is picking up some strange fluctuations in the time-field and he returns to twenty-first century Earth to investigate, running into Sarah Jane and a mystery in the process. Meanwhile, walking the streets of Cardiff is a young woman called Jane Doe who finds herself grappling with memories that aren't her own... or are they? The Rift must be sealed before the unthinkable happens, but the Doctor and Torchwood can't do it alone... NO ORIGINAL CHARACTERS, DESPITE HOW THINGS SEEM!

Children of Time- Oh come on, you didn't really think that Jack and all those Smiths were just gonna cool their heels after The End of Time, did you? Centers on the Children of Time learning to work together and eventually reunited with a regenerated Doctor. What starts out as a group of friends meeting for a drink to pay tribute to the Doctor who changed their lives and who is now (presumably) dead quickly turns into a L.I.N.D.A.-like support group for former companions, with Jack, Martha, Mickey and Sarah Jane (plus a handful of old friends we DIDN'T get to see but whose histories with 10 I will elucidate). Together, they find healing for their battle scars, and even manage to help another lost friend recover herself (spoiler: IT'S DONNA!). And all the while, they mutually mourn the one thing that ties them all together. Then one day, Sarah Jane hears the familiar sound of ancient engines...

This is me pathetically begging you to A) leave a review for the story and B) go to my profile and vote for which of the above stories you'd like to see first once I've finished AAWLOR and Untempered are finished.