bit_impossible: (Doctor-Shattered Look)
[personal profile] bit_impossible
[Note: This is a plot-related piece for an event at [ profile] realityshifted where Ten is played in an AU.]

The Universe Has to Move Forward

The shop, as always, was easy for him to find when he wanted to. And ohh, he wanted to right then. The only question that continued to plague him since he got that mysterious note was what exactly should he find the back of that shop? As one who had been in plenty of shops in his time--and most of the time, not of his own volition--he'd become familiar with what one would normally find in the back. Usually stock that had been discontinued, extra stock for the stuff out front, and new stock to replace the old stock for insert arbitrary reason here, be it holiday or other celebrations.

Of course, considering the shop's location and its proprietors, said stock could be just about anything, hence his continued question of "What could it be?"

As he stood outside it, every cell in his body was telling him he was only heading into a trap. His senses had been finely tuned over the years to detect such a thing and he hadn't been wrong yet. (He even counts all the times he feigned ignorance about a situation actually being a trap, as well.) After all, there was a chance he could run into just about anyone in the shop. Just once, he'd love to go in and tell off the exact person who was causing the current mess on the Plane and have them fix it immediately, but he knew he'd never get that lucky. He wanted to find the person or persons responsible for the missing people now mutilated bodies back in his reality as well, but that offence could be a result of something far more sinister lurking around his Earth than something the Plane created. For the time being, he had to focus on the thing he knew he could fix.

Luck, unfortunately, was something that clearly had stayed outside the shop when he entered--though it didn't seem so at first. No one was around. Not even ringing the bell he brought with him for shop visits yielded any result, not even the shape-shifter, Triage. After a few more minutes, he stuffed the bell back into his coat pocket and skirted the counter, the purple curtain leading to the back room not too far away from him now. Most of him always loved this part: that moment of anticipation before unveiling what lies beyond. Made his hearts pound with increased excitement. He likened the feeling to a child itching to open gifts on Christmas Day but had to wait for the rest of the household to awake before she could tear into them. The other part of him, however, knew not to get too excited, knowing full well how disappointing the pay-off could be.

The moment his fingers touched the fabric of the curtain, he immediately found himself right outside the shop. He blinked, whirling around to face it, and exclaimed, "What. What? What?!" at the top of his voice. Those going about their own business turned to give him quizzical looks that he promptly ignored as he stomped back towards the shop's door. Stupidly, he tried the door again only to find it was locked. This had happened to him before, but he was so annoyed about being expelled from the shop that he simply forgot he couldn't get in with others around.

By the time he'd reached the point where he was pacing angrily in front of the shop, the street had finally cleared and he tried the door again. The shop was still empty and the curtain was still frustratingly closed. Determined, he marched towards it and vaulted over the counter this time, not wanting to waste a second more. He'd barely reached the curtain this time before he found himself back outside the shop. Again.

Angrily, he ran a hand through his hair and then ran to the door. He wasn't about to be beaten by a shop!

He was still holding onto this thought by the end of his eighth attempt. He'd even physically gone round to the back of the cottage, but didn't see a single thing waiting there. Not even a piece of rubbish, which he found particularly odd for a brief moment. With a frustrated sigh, he stalked back to the shop entrance, staring it for a moment while he waited for a gaggle of teenagers to walk past.

So far in his attempts to reach the back of the shop, it had been empty five of the eight times, and the other three, well. He was even more annoyed with them and decided not to think about them for the time being. This time--this time--he was sure he'd succeed.

When he entered the shop for the ninth time, he found himself not in the shop but rather surrounded by mirrors. His footsteps echoed as he walked, peering at the mirrors around him as he walked towards an innocuous door at the end of the hall. (If he had a pence for every hall or corridor he'd gone into throughout his life...) His brow furrowed as he stopped in front of one, catching sight of himself running away from a white mansion into the darkness. An old, familiar face was running with him: Rose. He felt a small, nostalgic smile play at the corners of his lips, a warm sort of feeling calming him after hours of frustration. She, like all his past travelling companions, made him feel happy while they were with him. And maybe what he was seeing now was what could have been.

No sooner had he thought that did he catch sight of something else. He slammed his hands against the mirror's glass, pressing his face against it.

"No, it can't be...!" he said in a hushed, urgent whisper. And while they looked bigger and bulkier than the ones of old, there was no mistaking what they were. "Run! Leg it! Come on!" he yelled at his other self and Rose as the Cybermen neared, but he yelled in vain. Of course they couldn't hear his voice or the pounding on the mirror no matter how hard he struck it. They were soon surrounded and he knew his other self must have a way out, but even surrendering seemed to yield no results as the Cybermen continued to press in--

--But then the image in the mirror cut out, leaving nothing but blackness. His eyes widened as he stared, mouth agape.

"No, no, no, no, no! Show me what happened!" he pleaded, smacking the mirror with closed fists once again. "Show me!"

The glass remained dark with the exception of his own faint reflection. Had he just seen his own death? Had his old foes finally gotten him--and had they killed Rose? He pushed off and away from the dead mirror, his arms falling heavily to his sides as he stared at it. Why show him this at all?

He suddenly turned to peer closely at the other mirrors. He saw himself in all of them, and not just his current incarnation either. He saw his eighth self dance excitedly with Harriet at the mention of Hannibal (thank goodness he could read her lips from his vantage point) and no doubt he went into a little story about meeting the man himself before heading to the door to negotiate with the handful of Slitheen gathered outside the cabinet room.

In another, his ninth self, who must have recently regenerated since he was still wearing the old velvet frock coat and those shoes, was limping through the Interzone with an old woman clinging to his arm. His face was wrought with worry and concern as he helped her sit down on the ground. He was in the process of removing his coat to put around her shoulders when he looked to his left, anger flashing in his eyes as he started to yell at an invisible entity. The Doctor knew it had to be the Kro'ka, but he couldn't help feeling nothing but despair for his other self. This one had never reached Caerdroia and they must have lost C'rizz at some point. He didn't see the Eutermesan anywhere, and there was Charley...still with him even then. She never got her chance to leave him and start her life anew in Singapore.

It was at that point that he forced himself to ignore the rest of the mirrors and just reach that door. He'd never make any progress if he just stopped to watch the events in all of them unfold before his eyes. But just as his hand grasped hold of the doorknob, something in the corner of his eye caught his attention. It was a sight he'd seen before, so long ago now. He'd been very keen about cricket then. Blackness consumed the sky, and the more he looked at it, the more he noticed little dots of light and other objects barely visible. They all stood still, or they moved so slowly, even his eyes couldn't discern the movement. But his eyes didn't stay on the sky for long. What was on the ground earned his attention far more.

He felt his hearts twinge at the sight of so many dormant and dead TARDISes there. He knew those that hadn't been destroyed in the Time War must have turned up in that pocket dimension, that elephant graveyard... There were so many more than he remembered, but it wasn't the sight of them that made his hearts ache. Slowly, he lifted a hand to the glass, resting it there as if he really could comfort the broken police box, her outer shell now mostly black where it ought to have been blue. But still she stood, resilient to the end.

It took all he had to finally turn away.

His hand tightened on the doorknob, more to keep him grounded than anything as he closed his eyes and tried to banish the image of what he'd seen from his mind. He knew that'd happen one day if he died before she did, but to see it actually happen...

He threw the door open finally, forcing himself into the room. It was dark, with the exception of a single light hanging above his head, and could definitely feel the temperature drop a few degrees. He couldn't make out anything else in the room, much to his annoyance, and purposefully slammed the door behind him. The resulting echo surprised him. Softly, he counted the reverberated beats of the door slam and quickly came to the conclusion that the room was very, very vast.

Then he heard a clear, strong voice that sent a chill running down his spine--but he also felt a surge of bitter, angry feelings he had thought were buried deep in his psyche.

"Ahhh, Son of Gallifrey. You arrive at last."

The lights switched on, revealing the room that he hadn't seen for many years. He distinctly remembered the last time he saw it too, and he'd felt the same back then as well. Who wouldn't when faced with the living, breathing incarnation of a man who should have been long dead?

"Rassilon." The name escaped his lips in a whisper, but not out of reverence for the man. Oh no. He'd long lost any feelings of idolatry or even passing fanboyisms for the old founder, though he had compartmentalised his feelings of utter disappointment long ago, back before the Time War. His childhood heroes were anything but when he finally did get to meet them--and consequently put a stop to them.

The Panopticon remained eerily silent, though he could feel thousands of eyes on him, all of them belonging to the others dressed in scarlet and gold. He couldn't forget the shape of those gold collars, even if he wanted to. Never could quite understand why the chapter house colours were left by the wayside and yet they kept the collars. Fashion faux pas aside, he just knew he wanted to get the hell out of there right now before he heard another word from Rassilon or anyone else who decided to show their face. He spun on his heal to grab for the door, but nearly pitched himself off the raised gold hexagonal dias he stood on.

"Yes, and we know who you are as well, even with your new face."

"Let me go!" he growled, his anger rising in response to his utter fear of being trapped. He didn't know how it was being done and knew--he knew--it couldn't possibly be real. Not after what he'd done to end the Time War.

"Let you go?" A sea of laughter turned erupted at the founder's mocking question. "Even for you, that was a weak plea. We have heard better from those abominations as they were torn to pieces by the--."

"Shut it!" he yelled, but his words were instantly drowned out by more and more gales of laughter.

A resounding thud silenced every person in the Panopticon again. Rassilon walked to the edge of his own hexagonal platform situated far above the Doctor's, the rod in his hands. "No, you will be silent, traitorous Son of Gallifrey! You did not think you could escape the consequences of your many crimes, did you?"

His eyebrows shot upwards. "My--! My crimes?! There isn't enough paper in the universe to record all of yours! And that's just in this one alone! I'm certain the Divergents would have a thing or two to add, and let's not forget about Omega!"

"Enough!" This means of distraction is merely wasting time--"

"Oh yes, that's rich," he said sarcastically with a roll of his eyes. "Don't forget you were the one who wanted to end all of Time just to destroy the Dal--!"

This time, there wasn't a thud of a staff striking the ground or anything of the kind. Instead, there was a flash of light and that sound of a weapon discharging leading instantly to utter gut-wrenching pain, forcing him to double-over with a shout, gasping and then wincing. He tried to catch himself with his palm as his knees buckled beneath him, but his hand slipped on the slick stone surface and smashed face-first onto the floor. Gritting his teeth against the continued crushing of his insides, he weakly gazed up to see a gold and white Dalek appear at Rassilon's side. The two stood side-by-side, the sight completely impossible, but then again, that seemed to be the running theme for the day, wasn't it?

"So, the plot thickens, hmm?" he said hoarsely, and started to laugh. Blimey, it felt like every cell in his body was burning, but still the wound hadn't been enough to trigger a regeneration. Why was that? "What is this then? Announcing your engagement? Hooray for the happy--," he let out a hiss as his lungs hitched and seized for a split-second, "--couple!"

As he continued to babble on, he slowly rolled over onto his back in hopes that would lessen the pain somehow. Laughing hadn't been the best thing to do right then, but he couldn't stop. Blood trickled down his face as he moved, trailing down his cheek, and splattered onto his clothes as vitriolic chuckles continued to escape his lips. "Oh, Rassilon, hasn't anyone told you that I'm rubbish when it comes to weddings? Don't get me wrong, I'm more than honoured that you thought to put off your nuptials until I could witness it. And if you want my blessing, you can have it along with this: don't wear white--and really, the veil wouldn't suit you."

He felt an odd pull on his body as soon as he stopped to take a breath. It was as though something had grabbed his stomach and was using that to tug him closer to the founder and the Dalek. In reality, he discovered a moment later as he came within mere meters of the pair, the platform he was on had moved. He couldn't stop the endless chorus of thoughts running through his mind; most of them saying, "What the hell is going on?! They're dead! They're all dead!" But once the movement stopped, most of the pain left him, leaving him with a dull, throbbing ache throughout his body. Considering how things were moments ago, he gladly accepted this turn of events.

Slowly, he sat up and immediately noticed the change in venue. The many, faceless Time Lord peanut gallery in the Panopticon had moved to a more intimate affair in the High Council's chambers. Unsurprisingly, the d├ęcor had changed since he last saw it; he didn't like it. His mind was put off his immediate surroundings when he finally took a moment to actually see who else was in the chamber.

Their hands were clasped over their mouths, but he could still recognise them: his old, dear friends and members of a family he tried so hard not to think about, even now. Others were old Council members from a handful of regenerations ago. All of them wore their ceremonial robes of old, the colours of the Prydonian Chapter House covering the majority of those who stood there.

Really, it was starting to feel like an extremely nightmarish version of "This is Your Life", with Rassilon acting as Eamonn Andrews!

"What is the point of all this, Rassilon?" he asked, gingerly climbing to his feet.

In a grand, sweeping motion, the founder sat in the presidential chair, now made up in a rather gaudy fashion he felt. The expression on Rassilon's face couldn't have been more bored and disinterested. "Must I repeat myself?" He sighed and gave a wave of his hand. "Friend Dalek, do proceed."

The Dalek's eyestalk lowered as it looked down at him.


"No thanks, I've already been there loads of times. Don't suppose you have any options?"

Wordlessly, the Dalek's body swung around, pointing its weapon at the closest Time Lord.

Angrily, he turned his attention to Rassilon. "You can stop this! You want to punish me, so punish me, not them! They've got nothing to do with this!"

"Clearly, you have missed the point."

It was then that the Dalek started to fire, each time yelling, "EXTERMINATE!" as it shot each of the Time Lords surrounding the hall. He realised, to his horror, that they weren't lined up merely to watch and stare at him. They were arranged like that so he could see them go down one-by-one. And unlike him, he had no doubt that they wouldn't be getting up again.

He had to force himself with every ounce of his being not to cry out again or plead for it to stop. He knew full well that a Dalek had no mercy; the word wasn't even in its vocabulary. Each time the weapon discharged, the sound ringing in the air as it reverberated in the chamber, he tried his best not to flinch. They would not get the satisfaction of seeing that. The only thing that Rassilon would see, however, was the fire of defiance burning in his eyes as he stared the sneering founder down.

"Do you understand now? You prevented us from initiating the Final Sanction and burned us all!" Rassilon stood, stepping forward, but not far enough to get in the way of the Dalek's blasts. "This is only the beginning, Doctor." The name was spat out like it was the most disgusting thing the founder had ever had to say. "They've all been waiting for their turn."

While he kept his gaze steady, his hearts skipped a beat and his face paled. He didn't need to be told who--and what--"they" were. He'd tried so very hard to forget them and what they'd done, but one cannot easily escape the memory of what an actual living Hell was like through all of Time behind the Time Lock.

A low, amused chuckle came from the founder as he began to speak again. "Yes, you should be afraid. The Nightmare Child in particular is looking forward to seeing you once more. You see, Doctor, only here are we all united in our desires to see you break over, and over, and over in retribution for what you have done. From this moment on, you will be placed in an eternal cycle of suffering.

"And while your loved ones and those humans die--and they will die at our hands--we will find our escape. Perhaps not through you or on this plane of existence. But we will prevail. Gallifrey will rise, and the end of Time will come!"

He said one thing. Really, it was the only thing he could say in a situation like this. "No."

"Petty, feeble attempts at defiance will not stop Gallifrey and all her dominions!" Rassilon roared, his face reddening with fury by the second.

"I said no! You should know better, Rassilon. You know what I've done throughout my life thanks to the Matrix, your manipulation of me and my friends, and you know what I did in the end! If you think I'd just accept this, ohhhh, then you are a fool--and I've met more than my share of big'uns out in that grand and gorgeous universe you were so determined to destroy."

Purposefully, stubbornly, he started walking forward, never once removing his eyes from the founder. He wouldn't allow himself to be distracted, or allow himself to run away, not even as the Dalek's body swivelled around to face him. And oh, he wanted to run and run away fast. The urge was so strong; as strong as it had been when he finally obtained the Moment and knew what awful decision lay in front of him. "You can do all you want to me for as long as you wish, but don't think for a moment that I believe any of this is real," he continued, his voice low.

"Silence!" Rassilon stamped his staff on the ground again, and he was certain it definitely left a mark on the marble floor this time.

The Dalek yelled out, "EXTERMINATE!" once more as it fired its weapon at him.

That burning sensation ran through his body as he went down, the floor rushing to meet him. This time, however, he bit his lower lip to stifle any noises he might have made. And almost immediately, the pain lessened. With each passing second, he could feel it go away faster and faster. That only steeled his resolve further.

He'd barely climbed to his knees before he was shot again. It hurt again, but not as much as it did before. "You're losing your touch," he laughed. "The Daleks of old would know better than to leave me alive." It was a bold-faced lie, but it did its job he felt. The weapon struck him over and over with increasing speed, but with each blast he endured, the stronger he felt.

Soon, he was able to stand tall, smiling rather smugly at both the Dalek and the founder, who looked nearly apoplectic.

"Do not look so pleased with yourself, petulant child!" Rassilon raised his left hand, the metal gauntlet dull even in the light. Suddenly, it began to glow a light blue-green as fingers splayed outwards--but nothing happened.

"Ohhhh, so that's the infamous Gauntlet of Rassilon, eh?" he asked, walking right up to the founder, who continued to shake his hand at him. "Or do you call it something else? It's my first time seeing it in person, and really, it's terribly disappointing. I thought it'd be gleaming, for one. Ah well," he shrugged, "add that to the long list of things about you that haven't lived up to their reputation."

"Stop this, Doctor!" the founder growled, glaring at him. He lashed out, grabbing hold of his arm with that metal gauntlet and squeezed.

For a moment, he regarded Rassilon; seeing not the powerful and all-knowing founder of Gallifrey, but a despotic mad man who had lived for far too long on different planes of existence. He hoped he would never see a day when he'd come to a similar conclusion about himself. After that moment passed, he couldn't help feeling pity for him.

"This is the end now," he said softly, ignoring the growing pressure on his captive arm. "And I won't need the Moment this time. I can defeat you with words alone, and those, my Lord Rassilon, are far more powerful than anything else that has been created in the history of the universe! I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that you, the Daleks, and every single person you've brought here are nothing but ghosts."

He felt the hold on his arm suddenly slip away.

"I punished myself for a long time, resolved to keep to the fringes of life after I had seen so much of it perish. But then I met simple, kind person who was selfless and selfish at the same time, and still so stubborn. Thanks to her and people I've met since then, I've come to recognise that life along the fringes just isn't for me. I need to breath it and immerse myself in it, and the more I do, the further away the memories of the Time War are from my mind. My hearts ache for the Gallifrey I used to know, the one from my childhood--not the one it became. And I know I can never truly get it back." His mind momentarily went to that small field of tall, red grass and silver-leafed cadenwood trees he'd once brought to the Plane. He'd have to go see if it was still there one of these days.

"I can never forgive you for what you did in the final days of the War, but thanks to you...maybe I can start to forgive myself." And with his friends--the real ones both on the Plane and in his reality--they can continue to help him fill the gaping void in his hearts. When it came down to it, he really was just a lonely old man.

The High Council chambers around him started to fade, soon followed by the crumpled forms of the Time Lords.

"Gallifrey will rise," the founder insisted, his voice sounding a bit distant now. It was just like him to deny and protest against his defeat.

"Everything has its time, Rassilon. And everything ends."

With those final words, the room continued to dissolve around him. He didn't move, half-certain that if he did, he just might be dragged along with it. So instead, he closed his eyes and took in a long, steady breath. The second he did, he could have sworn there were faint voices starting to circle around him. He couldn't understand them at first, but gradually, the voices cleared as at the same time, he felt this warm, calming sensation engulf him.

The voices were all chanting the same thing. "Doctor!"



The chorus of their chants grew in number until he could no longer make out who was calling for him. He wanted to tell them not to go, not to leave him again, but he couldn't work his mouth. The chorus was dying down anyway after a few minutes, the voices soon coming only in threes and fours, and then in pairs. And then...well, he thought they were gone when one last lone, gentle voice spoke.

"Until we meet again, Grandfather. Good-bye!"

His eyes snapped open, hoping to catch a final glimpse of her, but there was simply a single light above his head and an old, closed door in front of him. Despite himself and the slight wetness in the corners of his eyes, he still felt a small smile on his face.

"Good-bye, my dear Susan," he said softly.

After a moment, he sniffed, sucking in a breath, and threw open the door. He didn't dare look back.

A storage room awaited him. Just...that. There was nothing special about it, not that he could immediately see. There was just a box of raisins on a table along with an extremely brief note. Even the door opposite the one he came in was simple. Had he been in the mood, he might have complained about it being one of the most anti-climatic endings ever.

But after all that...a small part of him mused that this just might be an easy start to something new.

Character: The Tenth Doctor
Word Count: 4740
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The Doctor

November 2011

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