Hello! Well, I seem to be stuck on my other stories. My computer shut down on me and failed to auto-recover. I lost a lot of work, and can't remember what half of it is. Since then, I've been struggling to write on those stories. But don't worry, I'm getting there.
Warning, be prepared for a lot of whump. This chapter is just pure angst and whump. And either all or half of the next chapter will be too. I know that it may seem that 10.5 is being very irrational, but well... he's probably half insane, and more than a little upset. Let him vent.
Hope you like it!
His eyes raked over the woman. Her long blond hair was pulled back in the same ponytail. She still had that thick streak of eyeliner over her lids, making her blue eyes stand out. She had barely changed or aged. It was like déjà vu… only this time she wasn't holding a gun.
"J-Jenny?" he rasped.
"Yep," she said, popping the 'p'.
"B-b…But… But you died," he said. "You're dead. I saw you. I felt you. I held you in my arms as you…" He realised that tears were welling in his eyes, and one of them was slowly slipping down his cheek.
"Yeah, you probably should have stayed a little bit longer…"
In less than a second he was launching himself across the console room and sweeping her up into his arms. He held her desperately to him and buried his head into her shoulder. She was alive. She was back. He had someone again. Someone to keep the building darkness and insanity at bay. Someone to bring light back to the TARDIS.
"You're alive… you've been alive all this time, why didn't you come find me sooner?" he asked.
"I did," she told him. "I was looking for you the second I left Messaline. But I kept missing you, or getting distracted along the way. You know how it is, saving planets, rescuing civilisations, defeating creatures, running." He beamed proudly at her. "But it never really became so important to find you until now. Dad, we need your help."
"W-with what?" he said.
Suddenly the door swung open again, and the Doctor got the shock of his life when he saw who it was. It was him… the previous him. He looked more than worse for wear and was carrying a bundle in his arms, he had a bit of a wild, crazed look about him, and was starting to need a shave. He was looking older; a few shots of silver visible around his temples, his deep worry lines more pronounced.
With a shock, he realised that this was the Metacrisis. The Doctor was surprised at how eagerly he looked back towards the door, waiting for Rose to come in. Instead, it just slowly swung on its hinges and closed… no one followed. The door remained shut. A look on the monitor showed that there was no one else outside.
Small, distressed whimpers distracted him, and his eyes shot to the bundle in the Metacrisis's arms. It was a baby. The little girl began to cry, not the wails of tiredness or a tantrum. Wails of pure agony. The man bounced her slightly, trying his hardest to sooth her, the worry on his face even more apparent. The Doctor could hear what the poor child was saying, was begging… was screaming. She was in such pain. She wanted it to stop. She wanted her mother.
"You know, I really think you should take her to the med bay," he commented wryly. "She's in a lot of pain." Could he really not tell that?
"Jenny," the Human Doctor said in a calm tone he knew all too well held a storm underneath. "Hold Freya, please."
The young woman held out her hands and took the shaking infant from him. Then, in the next second, he was sprawled across the console as the Human Doctor's fist collided with his face. A look of pure rage etched into his handsome features.
"Ow!" he complained, holding a hand to his jaw. "What was that for?"
"It's all your fault!" the Metacrisis spat at him. "All of it! If you had just taken her with you! If you weren't such a scared, selfish bastard! You-"
But he was interrupted by a piercing scream from the baby and he stopped short, terror filling his eyes. In the time it took for the Time Lord to blink, the Human had the child in his arms and was desperately trying to sooth her.
"It's okay. It's okay, Sweetie. Feel that, we're here. See, I told you you'd be okay. I promise I won't let it hurt you anymore. You're going to be okay. Just breath. Good girl. Look at Daddy."
Slowly the girl's shaking stopped and she calmed down as the pain faded from her. The Other Doctor let out a chocked sob of relief and held her tightly to his chest. Tears slid from his eyes and he buried his head into the small little tuft of light brown hair that had puffed itself into a bit of a mohawk. Exhausted, he slunk down to the ground and wept.
The Doctor stood there awkwardly, he didn't know what to do, didn't know what could have made the man break down in this way. It was Jenny who saved him from having to do anything.
"Are you al-" he attempted, but he was cut off.
"Doctor… let me handle this," she said quietly. Doctor? Since when had he become 'Doctor' to her? He watched as his daughter got down on her knees and sat beside the shaking form of the broken man. "Dad?" she said tentatively. "Dad, give me Gallifreya." He shook his head vehemently. "It's over now. She's safe. You did it. But now you need to rest, okay?"
"I'm not letting her go," he said, holding his baby girl closer.
"She won't leave your side. I promise. She can sleep next to you, and I'll be right there. Come on…"
Reluctantly, the man nodded and handed the now sleeping child over. She then helped him to his feet and started walking them down the corridor as if she knew the place. But before they were out of the console room, the Doctor heard something that made his hearts shatter.
"Don't let him touch her," the Human Doctor said brokenly. "He likes taking everything I love from me. He destroys everything."
For minutes the Doctor could only stare down the passage after them in shock. What the hell had just happened? What had been wrong with the child? What had the Metacrisis meant? And where was Rose?
A sinking feeling in his stomach told him he already knew the answer.
After a while seemed to have passed, he went down, peering cautiously into the spare room. The Other Doctor lay on the bed, fully clothed, in a fitful sleep. Even now, when the weight of the world should be lifted from his shoulders by slumber, the darkness and worry did not leave him. He looked so broken. One arm was stretched out towards his sleeping baby daughter who lay beside him. Jenny sat on a chair beside the bed, gazing forlornly at her family.
"Hello, Doctor," she said without looking up. Then she stood and led him across the corridor to the now very small library. "Okay, go," she said once she was seated.
"Jenny, what's going on?" he asked.
"We were saving my sister's life."
"Okay, well, what's wrong with her? And where's Rose?" Jenny's face crumpled and for a second his hearts stopped, knowing he had been right. That still did not stop the words from hurting him even more.
"She died… a few weeks back. From the same thing that was killing Freya."
"And what was that?" he asked, his throat tight.
"Well, more a lack of the TARDIS." Jenny sighed deeply. "It has something to do with the time she absorbed the Time Vortex. He never really explained it. But it some how… changed her. She should have died that day, even after you took it from her. And the TARDIS was the only thing keeping her alive. Being near it. When she was separated from you, she started getting sick. Not very noticeably. She made it back to you before it progressed past migraines, and she thought that was from the dimension jumping. And she was all right once she got back to the TARDIS. She was kind of fine for a few years after… But then she started getting sick. Really sick."
She closed her eyes against the memories of what had happened to the woman she had considered a mother. Her lips trembled when they just wouldn't leave and when she spoke again her voice was cracked.
"Dad figured out what was wrong and they found a way across so they could find the TARDIS. I bumped into them just a few days before Mum gave birth… it's a miracle Freya survived… Then she started to show signs of the TARDIS loss too. Mum and Dad were panicking. It became even more important to find you. Then… when Freya was only a month old, it became too much for Mum. She couldn't… We had to stop the search, she was in too much pain to be moved. And… and then she died. It just about killed Dad, but he had to go on for Freya…"
"How old is she now?"
"Just over two months. It's been horrible… watching my family fall apart. Dad was barely holding it together. I had to be strong for all of us. Keep the hope alive… He blames you, you know."
"I noticed," he said dryly.
"No, that was hardly anything. He really truly hates you right now. I don't quite understand it myself. But the way he sees it, she would still be alive if you had just told her, if you had taken her with you that day. He said that he would have been happier being alone, knowing that she was okay, and happy… but he wouldn't give up Gallifreya for the universes."
The Doctor closed his eyes, his head hanging. "I didn't… I thought she would be better off."
"Because you didn't stop to think did you?" Jenny snapped, her emotion coming through. She didn't blame the Doctor like her father did. But the pain of losing her mother was still so raw. "When she first looked into the heart of the TARDIS, you were too preoccupied about your regeneration, you completely forgot that she had just survived something that you hadn't even done so yourself. You didn't pay enough attention to see that she wasn't entirely human. That she was slowly gaining psychic abilities or healed much faster. I mean, why would you… she didn't. But did you even stop to think what she might have wanted when you just left her on that beach?"
"I gave her a choice."
"You manipulated her! You didn't tell her you loved her, knowing that when Dad said it, she'd chose him. And you didn't even give her the chance to object, you just took off in the TARDIS," she said, her voice rising as she felt the anger, remembering how her dad had described it.
"I was watching the woman I love kiss someone else. I didn't exactly want to stick around for that."
"You didn't even say goodbye!" Jenny stopped and took a breath. When she spoke again, her tone was much calmer. "That's what hurt her the most. That you couldn't even give her a proper goodbye. You were right about it being a better life for her, though. Well, it would have been if… Sure, the two of them missed the TARDIS, but they loved each other so much. She could have had a fantastic life with him."
The Doctor hung his head hearing this. Yes, they would have been happy… But not him. Never him. He had to go on alone… the curse of the Time Lords… A curse, he had come to realise was either self inflicted, or not a curse upon him, but maybe that he was the curse.
Everything he did put people in danger. Devastation followed in his wake.
He could remember all too clearly those words that Rory had spoken to him. That he was dangerous because he made people want to impress him and not let him down. He knew how true those words were. And he knew what Davros had made him realise back on the Crucible hardly scratched the surface.
It was why he always ran… never daring to look back. But now it was getting harder to run. He was getting older, his legs too wary to carry him, and his past speeding to catch him and bring him plummeting down.
A small sob of a broken man could be heard in the other room. They doubted that the other Doctor had woken up, and it seemed that peace would not find him, even in sleep. He had scarred that man forever. Taken away everything he once held dear, even his identity.
Without a word, Jenny stood and ran back into the other room to comfort the man from his nightmare. Sadly, the Doctor stood and headed out to the console room.
As the door to the library closed with a heavy thunk, another noise followed it, like something being sucked from and airlock. With dread, he turned back to the library, only to find the door gone. All that was left was a blank wall. The Doctor sighed. The library was gone forever. Soon there would be nothing but the console room left… and then the TARDIS would die.
It was not an easy night for anyone on the TARDIS. Only half of them managed to get any sleep, and for those that did, it was not very restful. Jenny had stayed up all night, looking after the people she called her family. Gallifreya had woken up many times that night, still trying to recover from the TARDIS withdrawal she had been suffering since birth. And the Metacrisis Doctor, who had 'officially' gone as Chris Meta back in Pete's World had a night full of horrid nightmares, and sweet dreams that made him weep with longing.
As for the Doctor, he sat in the console room, his whole body tense. He watched well into the morning as the energy levels of the TARDIS slowly rose. It still wasn't at full strength. It never would be ever again. There were now only three rooms, and he could tell that-
Another sucking, whirring, clunk noise was heard, and he sighed knowing that it must have been his room that was now gone. The TARDIS would always avoid deleting rooms with people in them until it was the last option. If that happened, they would be transmatted to the console room. And when she finally died, the console room would go dead, no light, no life. It would remain, but it would be lifeless and lose everything. The bigger on the inside would spill onto the outside, leaving behind nothing but a giant tomb full of dead memories.
This was his life now.
It wasn't till an hour later that the Metacrisis Doctor finally emerged, one daughter following him, the other cradled in his arms.
"She seems much better now," the Doctor commented, nodding to the infant. The Metacrisis said nothing. Jenny just shrugged.
The Metacrisis handed Freya over to Jenny and took what looked like a cobbled together Sonic Screwdriver from his pocket.
"It won't last," he finally said. "She'll be fine for a while, but when we've been separated from the TARDIS for too long, she'll get worse again."
"And by then the TARDIS will probably be dead," the Doctor said.
"Well, that's your fault for abandoning R-" He stopped and took a seep breath. "The only thing keeping the TARDIS from dying this second is Gallifreya. It was a two way bond. The separation kills them both." Then he turned to the console and started using the sonic on it.
"What are you doing?" he said in concern, jumping up from the seat.
"Right now, I can barely look at you. There is no way in hell that I'm staying with you. So I'm taking the heart - or at least part of it - of the TARDIS with me. Let's face it, I'm doing her a favour anyway. She'll die if she stays with you. Just like everyone else."
"Now, that is not fair! I-"
"Where is your companion, then, hmm? Why are you alone? I know you. You don't like being alone. You always needed someone with you, to keep you happy, to stop you from bringing everything to ruin. Donna was brilliant at that, wasn't she? And where's Donna?"
"Exactly. You had to wipe her memories. Didn't even give her a choice or chance to think. You know, she probably could have thought of a solution if you had given her a few more minutes and didn't panic her. Oh! And what about River Song? Have you met her yet? Have you sent her off to her death?"
The Doctor hung his head in sadness. All those years he'd spent with River… "Yes," he croaked.
"See what happens when people love you, and trust you? Sarah Jane died of cancer. Did you know that? No, of course you wouldn't, you never went to see her. Mickey and Martha are god knows where. Right solders they are. Who else have you corrupted that I don't know about?"
"Way too many," the Doctor said, his voice rising. He was sick of the way the Metacrisis was talking to him. Half those things were his fault too. "Look, I'm sorry about Rose. I know how you-"
"No! No, you don't know," the Metacrisis cut him off. "You weren't there. You didn't have to live through it. You don't know what she went through. She was in such pain. Constant, crippling pain. Her head burned, she had seizures. You didn't have to hold her as she screamed in agony. You wouldn't have to see the hope light up on her face when she heard the sounds of the TARDIS, only to see her utter defeat when she realised it was just a hallucination from her failing mind. You didn't live in constant fear of losing not only your wife, but your unborn child as well. And then, the even more intense fear when your daughter began to scream out in pain, because she was already suffering from the loss. You didn't have to suffer through holding the love of your stupidly long life as she took her last breath years too early, but still have to be strong enough to carry on for the one thing left in your life that has any meaning at all. And this… This is all your fault!"
"Well… that's a little harsh," the Doctor said quietly, trying to ignore the guilt bubbling within him. Most things were his fault. Heck, he'd almost gotten little Rose killed one of the times he went back to help her with her homework. And how many times had he let Rose down while she was still with him.
"It needs to be. Maybe one day you'll get it through your stupid Time Lord brain what you do to others. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to save my daughter's life."
"You can't take the TARDIS's heart! This is all I have. It's about to die!"
"And my daughter is about to die! If I take the heart with me, even a little it of it, the TARDIS will live on. Maybe not in this blue shell, but she'll be alive. They keep each other alive."
"Then stay with me!" the Doctor shouted desperately.
"No," he said, his voice soft, but deadly. The Doctor shuddered hearing it. It was the exact way that he had said it when he had told Adelaide Brooks that no one could stop him. Of course, this man did not have this memory. He had been separated before that. Before he had started to go completely and totally insane.
"Please," he said, tears staring to be heard in his voice. "You can't just-"
Suddenly, a dull golden glow filled the room and three heads turned in surprise. The heart of the TARDIS was open.