Don't Let Go
She was screaming out.
She was screaming louder than ever before.
She was screaming at her thief to help her.
High above her, for ten terrible seconds, her thief seethed as his mind was near about torn apart as her consciousness burned.
She shrieked so loud that even the Yellow one and the Wrong one detected a faint discomfort. Her Time Lord almost collapsed.
Then, all of a sudden, amidst the pain and the fire and the burning—life! A spark of life from the Crimson one, the one she had to protect.
Gold! The TARDIS reached out and grabbed the strand that had appeared, and held on so, so tight. Still she screamed, but now it was for her Time Lord.
Donna. The Crimson one. She had to protect the Crimson one.
And then there were two of them. There was her thief, again. For a moment, the TARDIS was confused.
Then the Crimson one spoke from inside of her.
"It's you!" She exclaimed incredulously.
The TARDIS didn't understand. Surly this was normal for a crisis? But the pain was too much for her to ponder it. She had to get out.
The Metacrisis Doctor gave a slightly strangled exclamation.
"You're naked!" The Crimson one shouted.
The TARDIS might have laughed.
The Doctor gave the same exclamation, once again strangled as he fought to use brand new vocal chords with a mind that had been talking for over eight hundred and ninety years.
Even more painful than being cannibalized into a paradox machine, the TARDIS fought to keep control in the face of the fire.
So for ten more miserable seconds, she fought for her life.
She felt her thief breaking, and his clone crying out. Unexpectedly, a scene came to her. She played it before their eyes, urging them to hold on.
Susan Foreman stood for a split second in their eyes, not doing anything but smiling at them.
The Brigadier saluted the Doctor. The TARDIS forced this image forward. She would not let herself die—not while she knew that both her Doctors would bear witness.
A plague where everyone lived. Random snippets of conversation.
"When I came to you, I did not have a leg!"
"Yes, I am your Mummy!"
She was grasping at memories now, at straws. She had started too big.
Christmas dinner with the Tyler's and Mickey. Even if she hadn't liked the Yellow one that much, the TARDIS knew she was good for her thief.
The elation her thief had felt when he had found another Time Lord. She captured only that feeling, nothing more—not the Master, not Koschei, who had once been their friend—and fed it too them.
Realizing that Jenny was theirs, that she was a Time Lord as well. Watching her learn that violence was not always the answer, watching her save them all.
The feelings they had whenever they looked at Rose, Martha, Donna, Sarah-Jane, Jack—anyone who had ever traveled with them.
The Metacrisis was on the move. She could feel him crawling, dragging himself (and she could feel rather more of himself than usual) along her console.
She sent them her memory this time, of the feeling of them tinkering around in her insides. She loved it, but she could barely hold on to it. When her control slipped and she screamed again, she knew she had overstretched her boundaries.
Her thieves were both shaking in her unendurable agony. In a desperate bid for their sanity, she played the Lullaby for them.
Her last effort. The TARDIS pulled forth a collection of faces that she had never met in person, but had found in the minds of her thieves over and over again.
A woman with dark chestnut hair and stormy blue eyes stood like a statue in dark red grass, in the shadow of a domed citadel. Behind her, a forest of fire shone in the light of high twin suns. At her feet, a little girl sat on her knees, staring off into the distance. The girl was an exact image of her mother, for the woman could be no other. Her body rose a little, as if waiting for something.
Beside the little girl was a boy—no, a young man. He looked nothing like the woman, his mother, nor the girl, his sister, but took after his absent father. Beside him were, undeniably, his triplet brothers.
In the red, red grass raised a small tombstone of a mineral unique only to Gallifrey.
In the intricate swirls of High Gallifreyan calligraphy, it said:
So cruelly were you stolen from us
May your spirit soar and watch over us until the day we die
Spread your wings, butterfly.
In loving memory of Laurentia Arcadia,
Mother, daughter, sister, and mate
May your world always be as beautiful for you as you make it for others.
The woman stood beside the grave of her daughter. The young girl, Avalonia, sat back on her heels, somewhat deflated. Still, her oceanic eyes betrayed her true feelings.
The three boys exchanged a knowing look, identical on their pale faces. Their light, dusky copper hair shone in the light of the twin suns.
A lone man appeared in the long grass. He, like his sons, had copper hair and brilliant brown eyes.
Avalonia ran to him, calling out, "Daddy!" in the musical, lofty language of their people. The man hugged her, and called out to his sons. Nicklaus met him first, then Adastr and Sollis.
While the man held his children, he opened his mind spoke through it to his mate, "It has been a long time coming, Annaleise."
"That it has, Theta." Their eyes held a promise that they made good on once the children were asleep. That night, they created their fifth and final child—a girl whom they called Astorya.
She could no longer keep the scene in front of their eyes. Annaleise dissolved, taking with her a glimpse of the infant Astorya, and the scene by the grave of Laurentia of Avalonia, Nicklaus, Adastr, and Sollis.
The TARDIS felt, in her final moments, nothing but the pain of her mind being torn apart. Everything she saw, everything that was, that is, and that would ever be, was pulled from her.
For a fraction of a second, she and her Time Lords were alone.
Then the New one flipped a switch on her console, and the most glorious feeling replaced the most horrendous pain.
It slipped all the way through her, to her every nerve endings, into place she didn't even know she had.
She slipped back into the Time Vortex, and let the New one take her wherever he wished.
The TARDIS might have cried.
O the suns, they shall weep for the tragedy,
And the stars as they wheel through the sky,
That the beacon of hope should be hopeless,
That the bringer of death should not die.