DISCLAIMER: Doctor Who and Torchwood do not belong to me, but this is how things might have gone if they did.
ALLERGEN WARNING: The following product may contain faith, doubt, SPOILERS for the new seasons of Doctor Who and Torchwood, an OC, the occasional monologue, and more than a few nuts.
The Approaching End: "Light At the End of the Tunnel" by Kerry Muzzey
PART TEN – THE END OF TIME
Chapter One – To Join the Dreaming
"A cowboy hat?" Viera muttered, a bemused smile playing at the edges of her lips. "Sunglasses and a pink lei? Really?" Her smile spread into a grin as the Doctor spread his arms and looked down as though inspecting himself.
"What?" the Doctor asked, completely straight-faced.
Viera just shook her head. "Nevermind. Shouldn't we get going? The Ood's song gotten so loud I've started hearing in my dreams. I really don't think we should keep them waiting any longer." She tried not to wince as all the humor vanished from the Doctor's expression for just a moment.
Darn prophecy anyways, she groused. Things had been strained ever since Carmen's cryptic warnings after the messy incident with the bus. The Doctor hid it well, but he'd been on edge ever since, more moody and a touch wilder than usual, which was saying something. Apparently the darling Ood had made a similar prophecy. Viera knew she probably shouldn't blame them for sharing what they knew, but she couldn't help feeling a little bit bitter. Who wants to see death coming? Who wouldn't go a bit mad feeling the end breathing down their neck?
Oddly enough, while she was angry with the psychics, she was also grateful.
She hated that the Doctor had to be feeling he was running out of time, staring down Death, and she couldn't bear the thought of losing him to either death or regeneration, but at the same time, at least with the warning she had a chance to make plans. Mad, reckless plans that she didn't dare tell the Doctor about, but they were better than nothing, a desperately needed solace from the fear that haunted her.
"Alright. Allons-y!" the Doctor chirped, all traces of seriousness gone as quickly as they'd come. He threw open the door of the TARDIS and poked his head out. A rush of cold wind washed into the control room; Viera shivered and grabbed the coat hanging over the back of the bench before she followed the Doctor out into the snow.
Only to stop when she spotted what must be an Ood. The Doctor had described them, of course, but trying to imagine a bald man with tentacles in place of a mouth was entirely different from seeing one. Viera tried not to let her uneasiness show on her face. The Ood were kind, gentle creatures and it just wouldn't do to let on that they rather creeped her out.
"Ah, now. Sorry. There you are," the Doctor greeted, as though he'd been looking for the Ood. In truth they'd been avoiding them for some time. Avoiding what might be inevitable.
Though Viera didn't entirely understand how you could waste time with a time machine. She'd asked the Doctor why they couldn't have just gone back to the moment he'd been summoned, but he'd mumbled something about messing with personal timelines and changed the subject.
"Now, where were we? I was summoned wasn't I?" the Doctor continued. Viera followed behind, watching her feet to avoid staring outright at the Ood, who said nothing. "Ood in the snow, calling to me. Well, I didn't exactly come straight here. Had a bit of fun."
Viera snorted. "If you call getting chased by a herd of rizoosh across burning-hot sands 'fun'," she interjected.
The Doctor raised his eyebrows at her. "Don't you?" Viera shook her head and failed to hold back a smile.
"I burned my feet," she scolded.
"I offered to give you a piggy-back ride."
That really shouldn't make her cheeks flush the way it did. It wasn't as though he'd never carried her before, but she'd found she was more and more aware of him whenever they touched. The Doctor didn't seem to notice and she preferred it that way. Really. Mostly. "Your feet were burned too," was all Viera could sputter. "And they would have caught up with us."
"Well," the Doctor drew the word out, "we got here in once piece in the end. What do you want?" He turned his attention to the Ood.
"You should not have delayed," the Ood chided quietly.
Viera immediately felt defensive, a byproduct of the sudden wave of guilt and worry the words provoked. "Why not? You know, you could have been less cryptic. Given us more of a hint if you needed us right away." Skipped telling the Doctor he was going to die. Or told me how to save him when I begged you in my dreams. Could you hear that? Your songs interrupted the nightmares I've had of watching helpless as he dies, but it never changed. It was always calling us here, but it never changed, not even when I demanded, screamed, begged for answers. Viera bit her lip as the Doctor took off his wide-rimmed cowboy hat and settled it on her head with a faint smile. She quieted.
"You will come with me," the Ood stated serenely. If he could sense Viera's mood or thoughts, he gave no sign. Perhaps he wasn't that sort of psychic. At least I think he's a he.
"Hold on, better lock the TARDIS," the Doctor stated. He pointed the sonic screwdriver behind him and the beeped, flashed its light, the locked with an audible click. The Doctor gave a satisfied sigh. Viera shook her head. The Ood didn't react. "See, like a car," he explained. "I locked it like a car. It's funny." Still no response from the Ood. "No?" The Ood simply turned away and started walking. "Blimey, try to make an Ood laugh. You get it, right? That was funny." he asked Viera as they started walking through the snow.
"Oh, I get it. Just like a car," Viera replied, tone deliberately a little patronizing.
"It was funny," the Doctor whined. That made her grin. "Come on. Admit it. It was a little bit funny."
"You're a very odd man, Doctor."
"Not as odd as an Ood," he couldn't help but quip. He winced. "Sorry. No offense," he told the Ood, who didn't seem to be paying attention to them anyways.
"Strangest man I know," Viera teased.
"Ah, well, that's why you like me."
Among other things. Viera shook her head and tried to ignore the faint flush that had returned to her cheeks. She reached to curl her hands around his arm since his hands were in the pockets of his coat. She felt steadier almost immediately. "I suppose you wouldn't be half as fun if you weren't so crazy," she admitted.
The Doctor grinned at her. There was silence for a few brief moments before the Doctor broke it again, plying the Ood with questions about his age and commenting on the tall towers and bridges of ice they came upon. Viera had to admit it was an incredible sight. She wished for a moment that she hadn't gotten so out of the habit of carrying her camera around.
We can come back. I'll make him bring me back here when this is all over. When we both survive.
"Splendid! You've achieved all this in how long?" the Doctor gushed, thrilled with the growing civilization.
"One hundred years," Ood Sigma replied.
"Then we've got a problem," the Doctor muttered, enthusiasm waning. "Cos all of this is way too fast. Not just the city, I mean your ability to call me, to call us," he corrected, waving towards Viera with his free hand. "You reached all the way back to the 21st Century. Something is accelerating your species way beyond normal."
"And the Mind of the Ood is troubled," Sigma added.
"Why?" Viera asked, feeling a shiver of foreboding.
"Every night, Doctor. Every night, we have bad dreams," Sigma stated, the weight of things to come echoing in his words.
Viera bit her lip and stepped a little closer to the Doctor as silence passed over them. Maybe we should have come sooner. No one said anything as Sigma lead them downwards to the mouth of a cave. A gathering of Ood waited there and the whisper of song Viera had been hearing since she stepped out from the TARDIS' protective shields grew stronger. Are they always singing? It wasn't a cheerful sound, if it was a sound at all. The song carried warnings that she couldn't understand, though she felt them deeply.
She heard whispers as they walked closer. While she couldn't hear the words, Viera could feel their echoes making ripples at the back of her sensitive mind, feeding dread into her thoughts. She shifted uncomfortably, wishing they could turn their backs and leave, go back to adventures and running hand in hand. Viera said nothing.
"Sit with the Elder of the Ood," Sigma urged. "And share the dreaming."
Must we? Viera sat next to the Doctor, never quite letting go of his arm. She knew the Doctor had some measure of telepathy and other senses she probably didn't know about; Viera wondered if he felt the vague sense of doom as well.
"So. Right. Hello," the Doctor greeted, his usual cheerfulness somewhat subdued by the grim atmosphere. The Ood didn't seem to notice.
"You will join," the Elder stated, echoed by the others. "You will join. You will join." All of the Ood in the circle laid their hindbrains in their laps and began to join hands. The echoing voices reminded Viera a bit too much of the train ride on Midnight. She swallowed hard and stared at the Ood hand offered to her, feeling a bit sick.
"Perhaps it's best you sit this one out," the Doctor advised quietly. His dark eyes were gentle when she turned to him. "You're a bit sensitive to this already. It's all right. I've got it covered."
Viera's mouth set in firm lines and stubbornness eased away the choking fear. She wasn't going to let the Doctor face whatever it was alone. He was the one they'd said was ending. If she was scared, how must he feel? Viera firmly grabbed his hand before he could reach across her to the Ood on the other side, then a bit more reluctantly laid her other hand in the Ood's.
Immediately there was a rushing sound in Viera's mind as the vision poured in, then her thoughts were filled with terrible laughter. Then she heard a gasp to her left and the Doctor's hand convulsed around hers. The vision stopped abruptly. A bit dazed, Viera opened her eyes to see that the Doctor had pulled away from the Ood, breaking the circle.
He looked stunned. Shaken, like the way he'd been when Donna had mentioned Rose that first time, but the hope that had been there then was absent. Who's laughter had that been?
"He comes to us. Every night," the Ood said. "I think all the peoples of the univers dream of him now."
"That man is dead," the Doctor stated, eyes wide with disbelief.
"There is yet more," was all the Elder said, joining hands with his neighbors. "Join us."
The Doctor tightened his grip on Viera's hand without looking at her, then he took a deep breath and joined the circle once more. The vision washed in like overwhelming waves, breaking across Viera's mind in time with the Elder Ood's words. And always, always there was laughter in the background.
"Events are taking shape. So many years ago and yet changing the now. There is a man. So scared." As the Elder spoke, Viera saw Wilf, a man she had only seen in Donna's pictures. His hands were clasped together as he sat alone, face lined deeply with worry.
"Wilfred," the Doctor murmured. "Is he alright? What about Donna? Is she safe?" he demanded hurriedly.
"You should not have delayed," the Elder stated, drawing a flinch from Viera. "For the lines of convergence are being drawn across the Earth even now."
Is this how it always happens? In trying to escape a prophesy we fix it in place?
"The king is in his counting house." There was a vision of a rich black man and a younger woman that Viera didn't recognize.
"I don't know who they are," the Doctor stated, just as confused.
"And there is another," the Ood continued. "The most lonely of all, lost and forgotten." Another vision, this one of a woman crying in a cell.
The Doctor's voice was quieter, regretful. This one he knew. "The Master's wife." The woman was shut away behind a metal door, and Viera felt the Doctor flinch at the clang.
"We see so much but understand little," the Ood stated. That made Viera feel both better and worse. It was disconcerting to think that they didn't know much more than she did, but perhaps that meant they weren't withholding information and being cryptic on purpose. Perhaps they were saying all they could and simply had to depend on them to figure it out. "The woman in the cage. Who is she?"
"Who's Master?" Viera added, unable to keep quiet. It sounded so odd to hear that title from the Doctor's lips.
"She was… It wasn't her fault," the Doctor explained softly. "He's so good at manipulating… He's the Master like I'm the Doctor. It's the name he chose," he told Viera. "He's, he was a Time Lord, like me but…" He was struggling his words for once, his usual rambles silenced by painful memories. The Doctor shook his head slightly. "Here. I can show you." Determination settled into his expression, then Viera felt a gentler wave of visions from him.
"The Master took the name of Saxon. He married a human, a woman called Lucy. And he corrupted her. She stood at his side while he conquered the Earth. I reversed everything he'd done, so it never even happened... but Lucy Saxon remembered. And she killed him. I held him in my arms. I burnt his body. The Master is dead," the Doctor stressed. Images accompanied the Doctor's words, memories and pain. Regret and so much loss. Viera's eyes filled with tears that didn't fall as she watch memories of a burning pyre. She didn't think he'd meant for her to see, but she'd felt that moment the Master died, felt the snap of the link and the sudden absence of the other Time Lord. Whatever else the Master had been, he was another Time Lord. For a while the Doctor had been one of the last instead of the only. To lose that all over again…
"And yet you did not see," the Elder stated. Then he reached into the memory and urged it on to things even the Doctor hadn't known. A ring fell from the pyre and a hand reached to pick it up.
"What's that?" They could see the ring clearly. It was Gallifreyan. Viera didn't know what the symbols meant, but she'd seen similar ones around the TARDIS. Still connected, she could feel the Doctor's shock.
"Part of him survived," the Doctor murmured. Sudden urgency rushed to fill the void left by surprise. "We have to go!" He tried to stand, pulling Viera up with him so quickly she would have fallen backwards if he hadn't been holding her so tightly. The Ood didn't let go of either of them.
"But something more is happening, Doctor," the Elder stated firmly. "The Master is part of a greater design. Because a shadow is falling over creation. Something vast is stirring in the dark." The Ood's eyes turned red. Frightened, Viera tried to pull away, but the Ood would not let go. "The Ood have gained this power, to see through Time, because Time is bleeding. Shapes of things once lost are moving through the veil. And these events from years ago threaten to destroy this future. And the present. And the past."
"What do you mean?" the Doctor asked, finding his voice well before Viera.
"This is what we have seen, Doctor. The darkness heralds only one thing," the Elder said. The whispers at the back of Viera mind grew stronger and stronger until it felt like they were yelling, though she couldn't make out the words. Then the Ood all spoke at once. "The end of Time itself."
Viera gave a quiet whimper, shutting her eyes in a vain attempt to block out the echoes raging through her mind. With a startled hiss, the Doctor pulled away from the Ood and pulled Viera away as well. Abruptly the yelling subdued to whispers again, and Viera opened her eyes, breathing shakily. The Ood looked normal again; the red was gone.
"Alright?" the Doctor asked, sounding nearly as strained as Viera felt. His usual blustering confidence was gone. "Viera?"
"Yeah," she breathed, holding onto his arms with both hands to keep herself stable. "Yeah."
"We have to go," the Doctor stated. "We have to go now."
"Yeah," Viera agreed complacently. Had her mind been clear she might have demanded more answers from the Ood, but as it was… The Doctor helped her to her feet and they started walking, then running towards the TARDIS as Viera's weakness passed. Then they were sprinting all out, urgency chasing at their heels and those awful words echoing in their thoughts.
"The darkness heralds only one thing; the end of Time itself."
"Your song is ending…"
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is the second story in Viera's series, so it'll probably make a lot more sense if you read that one first (though you might be able to muddle through anyways). At this point, the first one still isn't done, but I hit writer's block. So now I have two stories going at once (because I was so good at keeping up with just one :P).
Reviews and suggestions are always welcome.