Notes: Post-VotD, technically AU. Completely separate from Damage Control; I am working on the sequel to that, but this is not it. Rated for some language, violence, and (later) mentions of suicide.

-DW-

Ianto's breath is knocked out of him as he is shoved to the side, out of the path of the laser blast. It is knocked out of him again when he hits the floor, having tripped over the pile of crates that he was pushed into. He doesn't wait to regain his breath before eliminating the source of the laser fire, one of the last enemies standing. Only when the vaguely humanoid being drops to the ground with a bullet in its head does Ianto take the time to look up at his savior.

His mind goes blank as he takes in the man (alien) who saved his life. Jealousy (petty, over a lover who doesn't understand the concept of monogamy) and hatred (pointless, for a man who can defeat armies and topple governments) are crushed under numbing shock that seizes his brain as he watches the (unhealthily) skinny frame stiffen, the (falsely) young face turning white while blood (more orange than a human's) begins to soak through the pinstriped suit.

Long-fingered (artist's) hands automatically go to the wound, and are immediately covered with blood. (A nasty, slippery voice in the back of Ianto's mind mutters something about symbolism, but he is too busy staring to pay it any heed.) Dark brown (ancient) eyes flicker downwards, and something like relief crosses the fine-featured (handsome) face –

The Doctor crumples.

-DW-

Jack drops the second-to-last attacker – he can't remember the species, started with a B, he thinks. He spares a moment to make sure that the alien is well and truly dead – he wouldn't put it past the Doctor to forget to mention that this particular species has a back up brain in their elbow, or some other method of surviving a headshot at close range – before leaping up to check on the others.

He turns just in time to see the alien level its weapon at Ianto.

The name of his subordinate (friend comrade lover) rips itself from his throat, far too late for a warning, just as the alien fires. His shout is lost in the melee, and the bolt of light courses toward Ianto – who isn't there anymore, thrust out of the way by a streak of brown. Jack feels a rush of relief (loss is inevitable, but not Ianto, not yet), quickly followed by horror (not him, oh god, please not him) as his oldest friend (savior betrayer mentor) staggers, looking as startled as Jack feels.

The Doctor's eyes (dark, so dark, dark like memory and age and pain) dart down to where the blood is already seeping through his suit and between his (slender, beautiful) fingers. Jack just has time to register something far more chilling than shock on the (ghostly) pale face before –

The Doctor collapses.

-DW-

Pain.

The Earth spins under his feet, hurtling around the sun, and the whole solar system moves with the turn of the galaxy, which itself is dragged on with the Universe, ever expanding towards oblivion, and he can feel it, the steady march of entropy, and he can never stop knowing that everything has its time and everything dies, and he can never stop seeing all that is, all that was, all that ever could be . . .

(One of the Bechi'ins is still standing, raising a gun towards Ianto Jones. If not interfered with, the energy bolt will reach the clever, brave young man in approximately 3.1292 seconds. The blast will be fatal.)

. . . and it's still not enough to drown out the screaming, the cries of everyone he couldn't save (Adric and Katrina and Susan, Jabe and Gwyneth and Lynda-with-a-Y, Solomon and Astrid and Banakafalata, HumanDalekTimeLords and two thousand people on the replica Titanic), couldn't help (Rose's eyes are terrified and pleading, staring at him from her not-father's arms; later, she'll sob into her hands and his already shattered hearts will break all over again. The new confidence in Martha's step is paid for by a new hardness in her eyes; she'll never be an innocent again, never heal completely), couldn't fix (his best enemy bleeds out in his arms, madness still in his eyes even as the light leaves them. He has no idea who won in the end, and he doesn't even care). Their voices, remembered and imagined, echo in his ears. Doctor Grandfather Theta Father Doctor, save us help us dying falling burning save us – !

(He does the calculations in his head even as he starts to move. There's no way he'll be able to disable the Bechi'in or her weapon in time, but if he moves very, very fast he might just be able to knock Mr. Jones out of the way. He's good at fast. Maybe this time it will be enough.)

But even that can't fill the silence, the awful, terrible, lonely silence where there used to be the susurration of a billion voices; the cold, dark emptiness inside his head. It hurts more than the memories (flame and screaming and the smell of burnt flesh, warm orange skies turned black with smoke, silver-leaved trees burning, burning, burning, the world ending by his own hand). It hurts more than the fear of the future (nothing lasts forever, except perhaps him, and if Jack is the Face of Boe then he's already seen him die, and he can't shake the thought that with the Council gone there's nothing to stop him from regenerating again and again and again, and oh, Rassilon, he doesn't want to live forever). He's the Lord of Time, and he knows how to live in the present, but the present hurts.

(He hurtles into Ianto Jones, Torchwood agent, one-man clean-up crew, Jack's friend and lover, altogether decent man, just as the Bechi'in squeezes the trigger. The young human falls with a grunt, and suddenly the ever-present pain is physical.)

There's silence in his head and screaming in his ears and blood on his hands, and it's real, not a flashback or a hallucination or a metaphor, and now the screaming is stopping but the silence isn't (never will, not ever), and the blood on his hands is his (for once), and he sees that and just has time to think –

Good.

(The Doctor falls.)