You take a breath. It's wrong. It's so wrong. Everything Sarah Jane tells you sounds right, but you can't and it's wrong and you're wrong when you nod your assent to the Krillitanes.
"No, Doctor!" Rose bolts towards the first computer---she never did listen to you---and the Krillitane slashes her across the middle. Sarah screams and blasts the monster with a nearby fire extinguisher. She kneels by Rose and chokes back a sob.
She looks to you. You don't look back. You hear her footsteps tread down the hallway and she runs. Her cries soon fill your ears.
It's all right. You can manage. The Krillitanes attach you to the God Machine. You can fix everything. You can stop the War. You can save Rose and Sarah and Adric and Romana and Susan and every single person you've ever loved and lost.
You always take the right path. This time you don't. You become a God. Fix everything. And you're lonelier than ever.
She's so old, now. You're both so old. She checkmates you---again---and tucks a lock of white hair behind her ear. She's got the deep wrinkles her mother did, but she doesn't bother covering them up with makeup. She doesn't need to.
You have dark lines underneath your eyes too, she tells you, but yours just aren't visible to everyone. She told you that years ago, back when you both had only just begun to know each other, after the battle of Canary Warf, the only casualties you loved were her family, safe on another plane.
"Your turn to reset it," Rose says. She hasn't been able to leave the bed in a week, so why wouldn't you oblige her? There's nowhere you'd want to go outside that didn't involve her.
You reset the chess board. With the wedding band on your right hand, it feels strange, almost like it's someone else's set of hands, someone else's slow path taken.
"How long do you want to stay with me?" you ask her. This woman, your wife. Your love.
It's hardly the first time you've asked. And far from the first time you've heard the same answer.
She's smart, sure. But hardly the cleverest and you only take the best. You don’t bother wasting your time explaining things or scooping up the sassy medical student Jones. You can handle things yourself. You've always been able to handle things yourself.
You run from the creatures, you hide. Someone screams that the Dean's been murdered, but what can you do? You don't even know who the killer is.
Eventually, but only just too late, you realize that the monster is a plasmavore. You leap over the collapsed patients in the hallways to where she's set up a weapon. Convince her you're a human, let her drain your blood. Final sacrifice and all that. The Judoon show up in time to see you fall to the floor. She says she's human, they say you're dead and that's all that matters, and they walk off. The plasmavore wins.
The light clears, and you blink your new green eyes, gathering just enough post-regeneration strength to get to your feet to notice that the plasmavore has done something very wrong to the machine.
Your feet are too large for your converses, but you easily walk to the panel, pull the wires. Piece of cake. When did you think anything was a piece of cake?
'Bout time you find the Zero Room, now, isn't it?
Rose should cross your mind as you lie with Martha in the small bed, chatting about witchcraft. She's only been gone a brief while, after all, and Martha still doesn't quite get you. She's smart and clever, but settles heavily in a not quite quite often and you wish there was a way to fix that.
Before you realize it, you've kissed her. Silly thing to do in the middle of this room, but she was looking at you rather longingly, and you're lonely, and she's lonely. Maybe it could work.
It doesn't, of course. It's against your principles to sleep with her, but you do, and it's awkward and strange the next morning as you run around, trying to figure out what's gone wrong in this era. You do, and you fix it. Then you take Martha home. The tension you've created is too much for you to handle.
"Rather extravagant one-night stand, then?" she sighs.
You suppose it is. Pity, it didn't have to turn out that way.
The fireplace doesn't turn.
You stay. You don't want to, but you do. You learn to accept this stay as you did your exile. A little while longer. Granted, that little while is three thousand years, but it'll have to do.
Reinette makes things easier. She teaches you customs, buys you clothes, shares her homes with you. She loves you dearly, and it doesn't take long for you to realize that the feeling is mutual. It takes a good bit longer for you to act on those emotions. While you may kiss her lovingly, she kisses as if it's the most expected thing---perhaps she's been expecting it, just simply waiting for you to make that first move.
You become lovers, but never marry. Not with her positon, it would never work out. You take a job as her physician, keep her well despite her frail body.
April 15, 1764 comes and goes without incident.
You wait for the Reapers to arrive.
They never do.
You're frail. Joan's hand curls in yours, and you feel even frailer. She's got so much life and spirit, you're secretly terrified that when you go---and it's any time now---she'll lose that.
"They're safe, aren't they? The children."
Of course they're safe. You've lived a rather unimpressive life, you suppose. A schoolteacher, husband to a nurse. Raised five children who in turn raised you twelve grandchildren. Unremarkable, but a wonderful life, all in all. James Stewart would be proud of you.
You have the strangest sensation, like you've met him before. What a silly thing to think, the man is a famous actor.
Joan wants you to try to stay a little longer. Your eldest daughter, Susan, is trying to make it up in time, but the snow is keeping the trains from their usual stops. They want you to know they love you, but you don't need them to be there to know that.
You nod, but your eyes keep drifting shut. To sleep, perchance to dream…
You did everything right, so why didn't it work? DVD menu, created the videos, everything. No TARDIS, no Sally. Maybe something went wrong. It doesn't matter. No, it does matter. But something went horribly wrong, and you're stuck and you don't know how you're supposed to tell Martha but you're trapped and you can feel it.
She figures it out, of course. You know she's figured it out when you come back to the tiny apartment you share with her, and she's crying, quietly, in the bathroom. You nudge open the door to see her sitting, fully clothed, in the bathtub, holding pictures of her family from her wallet.
"I'll be in my fifties when I see them again," she says, "No, older. Sixties. I'll…I'll die here. Trapped in this timeline. Those bloody stupid angels feeding off my 'potential energy'."
You can't help it. You give into your emotions, and cross that boundary, stepping into the small room and scooping her up into a hug. She holds on tight and cries into your shoulder. It's the first time you've really touched her since you've come here. First time you've let her in.
But you're going to need each other, now. Now that it's just you, lost in time.
You don't bother going all the way to Utopia, you simply drop Professor Yana off on his ship as it soars mid-flight. He marvels that the TARDIS is larger on the inside than it is on the outside, and rubs his pocketwatch when he says he used to dream about traveling inside magic boxes like this.
You smile, shake his hand, and leave the end of the universe. Knowing there's hope is better than seeing it all end, and the humans have everything they'll need. Professor Yana looks pained as you leave, a bit like he's losing a very dear friend---perhaps it's because you're the only one he's ever met that could truly sit on-par with his genius.
As you close the door, Jack and Martha still blathering on about Rose or whatever blogging they're doing today, you can't help but take pause. You feel like you're leaving something terribly important behind, but you can't imagine what it could possibly be.
Jack stops Lucy from snatching up the gun, twists her arm behind her back, and takes her away. The Master looks stricken, like some further plan has been thwarted, but you can't imagine what that could be.
"You're just going to keep me?"
And you do. He stays locked in his barred room in the TARDIS. You let him out, of course. You're not cruel. He walks deserted planets. Takes day trips to London along with the electro-bracelets you once used with Margaret the Slitheen. He scowls and sneers and positively hates his entrapment.
Martha hates it, too. She travels with you a while, and leaves. She can't take him being there, can't take that you have to care for him, when she spent a year caring for you.
But you have to take care of him. She doesn't understand. You lean against the door of his room, and you can hear him tapping out the rhythm of the drums. You can hear them, those drums, when you close your eyes. When you're in your own room. When you're out on a planet and he's still tucked away in the TARDIS.
He's infected you.
You're the Doctor, but you're incapable of curing yourself.
It wasn't worth the hassle.
You stay at home, study harder. Your half-human bloodline makes it impossible for you to earn a TARDIS. You accept this. It's just the way it has to be.
Koschei wants you to rebel, but you tell him there are more important things. Studying the stars has to be just as good as traveling them. He doesn't want to leave you. Best friends and all that. Stars aren't worth it without someone to travel with. He chooses the name "the Professor" and teaches instead.
You know more about the stars than anyone. The Supreme Council requests you find the Key to Time. You decline. It goes to a less-educated woman, Romanadvortralundar. She perishes during the search. What could you have done? Nothing. They find it, of course. They always do.
The Time War approaches Gallifrey, and you join the rest of the Academy professors in the Strategy Room. They all make plans, but none of them will really work.
You tell them your plan. Destroy the enemy, but destroy yourselves in the process. You're too well-respected for anyone to deny your genius. It's tragic, but necessary. They make the arrangements. Gallifrey burns.
Only now there is no Time Lord left to save the universe left in the Time War's wake.
Muse: The Doctor (Ten)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count: 1,899