A little while ago, I wrote this as my first ever Fanfic. However, being my first, it wasn't all that good. In fact, it outright sucked.
In honor of today, I've revised and re-written it. I hope to do it justice, in remembering the fear, loss, and heroism displayed on this day, one decade ago.
Emotions aside, please enjoy.
The Doctor strolled up to the TARDIS's console, letting his hands fall against the machine, wondering where he should go. The whole of time and space, and he couldn't decide on one place.
"We could go to the Gamma Forests?" he called out.
"Nah," said Rose, "Not in a forest mood."
"How about Apalapucia? It was voted the second best destination for the intergalactic traveler."
Rose looked excited. "Sounds adorable– Apapapa…" She caught herself on the word, and tried again. "Alapapu– " She stumbled on the word again.
With an exasperated sigh, the Doctor said, "Come on, Rose. Apalapucia. Not that hard."
Rose took a deep breath, and continued. "Apalapupipap – "
"Let's not, until you learn to say it." Not wanting to let Rose linger on the negative, he got an idea. "Okay! Let's try New York—the original New York, not the New New New New New New New New New New New New New New New York."
"Oh, alright, then! Let's go!" Rose rolled her eyes, feeling slightly embarrassed at her inability to say "Apalapucia."
The Doctor let her off the hook, though, trusting she'd get it eventually. In the meantime, the Doctor would take Rose to a wonderful Earth location. The TARDIS engines started up, filling the room with the sound of the universe. It rang and rolled, and, when it was done, the room was still with anticipation.
"Off we go, then!" He announced, holding up his arm for Rose to take. She laughed, looped her arm in his, then they strutted out of the blue box, and into the city.
Or, rather, an alleyway. "Well that's rubbish. What's this?" said Rose.
The Doctor grinned in anticipation, and began to walk out of the alley. Soon, they found themselves walking along busy city streets, full of New Yorkers and foreigners alike. And, although, though none blended in as much as the Doctor and Rose, none were more foreign.
The early-morning air blew around Rose's head. She looked around, and noticed that something was strange. Something was a little off.
"We're back in time a few years," explained the Doctor, sensing Rose's confusion. "Not enough to notice all that much, but enough to make a slight difference." Rose understood, as she heard N'Sync playing out of a boom box on a nearby street corner.
But the Doctor felt something strange, too. Stranger than seeing men with bleached hair and women with loud shirts, he could feel something in time. As a Time Lord, he could sense something strange, something that stood out. Something on this day was important, he knew that. But he couldn't figure out quite what it is.
The Doctor and Rose rounded a corner, and the answer came into view for the Doctor. Above the buildings in New York City, arose two spectacular skyscrapers. They were high, official-looking, and were identical in appearance. Suddenly, the Doctor knew what was going on.
"Rose," he asked, "Do you know what day it it?"
She shook her head, looking nervously at the Doctor.
He took a deep breath. "Today is the eleventh day of the month September, in the year 2001. Today, a group of terrorists will hijack four airplanes and smash two of them into these towers. Another will hit the Pentagon building, and another will crash in Pennsylvania. By noon today, those two towers will have gone up in smoke and flames. By the end of the day, the United States of America will have a new outlook on life, and a new fear of the world around them. Their sense of security and safety… The very essence of the American spirit will be… shattered."
Rose knew about what happened that day. She'd been watching magical moving picture rock when her mother called over to her.
"America's under attack!" Jackie had said. But it seemed so far away.
Still, Rose said, "But that's horrible," As if he didn't already know.
He abruptly grabbed her hand, and turned around. "Come on. We're leaving."
Rose wrenched her hand free. She suddenly had a bit of an idea. "Doctor! There's got to be something you can do!"
Uncharacteristically upset at Rose, he turned around, and shouted, "No, there's not!" Then he continued a brisk walk back to the TARDIS.
"But why?" she pleaded, dashing after him, and pulling him to a halt, just outside the alleyway.
The Doctor, realizing he'd have to explain, took her to a bench across the road, under a blue awning next to a churro stand, and sat down.
"Remember, a short while after we'd first met, how you tried to change time, by saving your father's life?"
"But, by ding so, Time was damaged?"
She muttered, "Yes…"
The Doctor sighed, and closed his eyes. "This is a moment that must happen. The events of today need to stand as they are. If these things change, the whole of time itself will be rewritten. But the thing is… I can change it. If I really wanted to… The TARDIS could easily expand its control matrix to surrounding airplanes. I could take control. I could stop the attacks from ever happening."
"Then why don't you?" she asked.
"Because this needs to happen. I can't stop it from happening. Not without damaging…" The Doctor inhaled deeply. He wanted, with all his hearts, to rush into the TARDIS, not to run away, but to travel to the airport and alter their systems, making flight impossible. Or, to go onto one of the planes itself and stop the whole thing from happening in flight.
But, he knew he couldn't.
He wasn't allowed to.
He wouldn't let himself do that.
Or, maybe… Just maybe…
The Doctor took off down the street. He was mad. He was crazed. He knew what he was about to do might punch a hole in the solar system, but, right at that moment, he didn't care. He ran down an alleyway, and into the TARDIS. Rose, not wanting to miss this, dashed in after him.
When she arrived inside the spaceship, she saw the Doctor, not at the console, but behind a wall, fiddling through a box. He withdrew a small electric machine, a long piece of wire, a smaller, handheld device, as well as a thousand other miscellaneous things. He began his work, tearing the things apart, reassembling them in different patterns. Once or twice has sat back to admire his work, but continued to work diligently. When he was done, he took a wire, and attacked it to the little machine he made. He then hooked the other end of the wire into the TARDIS's systems. He ran past Rose and out the doors.
When rose caught up to him, he was standing in the alley, holding the device in his hands.
"Rose, give me the time."
She ran back into the TARDIS to check, and dashed back out. "8:38."
"The plane will be in flight by now." He turned to Rose and explained. "If I were to press this button, then every plane in the state of New York will instantly revert to emergency auto-pilot. They will safely land, guided by the TARDIS's navigation systems. All of the pain and loss will never have happened."
Rose, however, wasn't sure what to do. She didn't want the Doctor to do this, not because of the fragility of time, but because she knew he'd regret it. She remembered the destruction that happened the last time she'd tried to change destiny; she hated herself for bringing that about. And Rose couldn't let the Doctor feel even more guilt, if things were to go wrong.
"Doctor… Please, think about this," she said, calmly, not wanting to anger him. She stepped towards him, slowly.
"What's there to think about? Three-thousand people die today; is that what you want, Rose?"
Rose was only a short distance from the Doctor, and said, "No, but… Please. Just think. About… everything."
"I know my role as a Time Lord, Rose. I can do this if I want."
Rose sighed, and, now directly in front of the Doctor, placed her hands on his, lightly, as to not invoke the device that he created. "I want you to save them, but I'm never going to make you do it if you aren't 100 % sure."
For a moment, they stood there, in fragile balance, not sure what was going to happen next. Then, the Doctor sighed. He lowered the device, and let it fall from his hands onto the ground. It smashed into a million pieces.
The Doctor realized what had just happened. "How could I have done that?"
She wrapped her arms around him, and he returned the embrace. He said, softly in her ear, almost to himself, "How could I have not done it, though?"
"It's okay, Doctor," She said, releasing him. "Let's leave. Quickly."
The Doctor and Rose walked back into the TARDIS and shut the doors. He walked robotically to the console, and began to fiddle with it, selecting a safer place to go. Just as he started the engines, a tremor shook the TARDIS, and screams were heard from outside, but the Doctor and Rose pretended not to notice.