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Of Reality's Fabric - a Doctor Who fanfic

Discussion in 'Creative Archive' started by Arienne, Nov 24, 2006.

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  1. Disclaimer: The Doctor Who universe is the property of the BBC. No copyright infringement is intended and no profit is being made from this story.
    Summary: After Cybermen invade her office and Daleks invade... well, the Earth, Sarah Jane Smith decides to investigate. Little does she know what the Doctor will get her into this time...
    Spoilers all through Series 2, but even if you haven't watched it (in which case WHYEVER NOT?) you should be able to understand most of the story.

    Prologue — Just Another Day

    [size=8pt]So you find the breach, the sphere comes through. Six hundred feet above London, BAM! It tears a hole in the fabric of reality. Now this hole, do you think, "Ooh, shall we leave it alone? Shall we back off, play it safe?" Nah, you think, "Let's make it bigger!"[/size]
    [size=8pt]The Doctor, Army of Ghosts 2.12 Doctor Who[/size]​

    It was just another normal working day for Sarah Jane Smith, senior investigative journalist for the Sunday Times, stuck behind her desk on a sunny summer afternoon.

    Well, as normal as you could get for Sarah Jane Smith, former time-traveller and companion of a Time Lord, the only person left in the building who didn't trust the ghosts, uncharacteristically slumped behind her desk and glancing occasionally over at the empty desk next to her, cleared out only two weeks ago.

    Sarah Jane sighed quietly as she remembered Atif, the bright young journalist she'd affectionately nicknamed her "protégé". He was one of the few who'd sided with her on the issue of the ghosts, refusing to believe that they were harmless figures from the dead. While everyone else rejoiced at the return of their relatives, Atif threw himself into his latest project — one he never discussed, not even with Sarah Jane. All she knew was that it involved something ("It's the story of the century — a Big Important Secret, ma'am," he'd told her with excited pride two months ago, on the first of many late nights) called Torchwood, whatever that was; and she didn't push for more information, knowing only too well the conflicting feelings of responsibility and guilt that accompanied Big Important Secrets.

    And then he'd disappeared, a simple letter of resignation and thanks for his colleagues materialising on the notice board one morning. Sarah Jane couldn't understand it — his mother seemed quite relaxed about it all on the phone, explaining that Atif had just left to do an undercover investigation in Sri Lanka and wasn't that exciting? And no, she hadn't seen him leave either, but he's always running off somewhere, he's sure to be back in six months with a big grin and an even bigger ego.

    "You never said anything about a Sri Lanka job in the last meeting," Sarah Jane said to her boss the next day. Emma Rushbridge smiled a bit too quickly before answering.

    "Yes, well, Max from International Affairs had to pull out, private issues — did you know he's finally proposed to Donna? So I decided to let Atif have a go — you know, get the full experience and everything," she replied cheerily before downing the rest of her coffee and muttering about some kind of urgent business call in her office, "so keep up the good work, and we'll do lunch sometime!" she called over her shoulder. Sarah Jane rolled her eyes as she trudged back to the piles of paperwork in her suddenly emptier room.

    The piles were still there today, and she had no choice but to carry on working through them — even with the advantage of a highly advanced metal dog, she knew she didn't have Atif's technical expertise with computers and encrypted passwords and all that kafuffle; moreover, she wasn't sure this Torchwood was worth the risk. Atif had family and friends to worry about him when six months had passed; Sarah Jane only had a tin dog from the 51st century and fond memories of adventure.

    Sure, there had been times when the Doctor had been just damn annoying, and his turning up like that with a younger "assistant" hadn't helped matters, but they'd had a laugh in the end; and sometimes Sarah Jane hoped that, if Rose decided to stay one day, she'd come and work with her, brighten each other's days with tales of the past and future. They'd already made a start, and Sarah Jane was sure they could discuss their experiences with monsters and robots in a little more depth…

    A scream, piercing even from the ground floor, followed by breaking glass and more unsettling shouts, both human and… "Speak of the devil," Sarah Jane breathed in panic as she stared out of her third-floor window. So much for ghosts, she thought, raising her hands in surrender moments before the Cybermen broke down her door.

    After being escorted to the ground floor alongside an inconsolable Emma, Sarah Jane slowly made her way towards the window, only for another unwelcome sight to greet her… Oh, brilliant. First Cybermen, now Daleks… if the Doctor doesn't show up… right now —

    "Look out!" She barely had time to register the voice before she was shoved to the floor; suddenly a second explosion swept through the building, and a man's bloodied, cooling body fell on top of Sarah Jane from where she'd just been standing, horrifying her but shielding her from the rubble flying through the smoke.

    The Cybermen had abandoned their positions by now, shooting instead at their new enemy in the sky, and Sarah Jane could see more people running for cover as pieces of ceiling crashed around her. She pushed blindly at the dead man sprawled on top of her, and couldn't help but cry out in despair as she realised that both their bodies were already trapped by the falling debris. Oh no you don't, a small voice said in the back of her head. You've done this before; you've beaten Cybermen and Daleks. You didn't survive them and anti-matter monsters and dinosaurs and the bloody Loch Ness Monster to get crushed by a newspaper office…

    All of a sudden, the noise stopped. For a few, stretched out moments, Sarah Jane thought she was dead; she felt herself lifting, the rubble somehow rolling away to let her escape the dirt and the blood that stained her surroundings…

    Then, out of the corner of her eye, she saw the Cybermen being lifted and pulled away by some swift and invisible hand; the Daleks were also getting sucked into what looked like the top floor of Canary Wharf, tumbling out of the sky as quickly as they had swooped in; but Sarah Jane was still floating gently towards the same building, more than a little dazed and confused.

    As soon as she could feel her fingers, she grabbed onto a lamppost, the nearest object still standing, and held on in wonder for another two minutes before gradually falling to her feet, completely unnoticed by passers-by who were more amazed by the sudden lack of aliens. Still not trusting her feet entirely, Sarah Jane hurriedly hailed a cab back to her flat.

    "K9? I'm home," she called as she locked the door behind her, looking forward to telling her loyal dog of the day's events — if he hadn't heard them already.

    Or been involved in them.

    "K9?" Still no answer. "This isn't funny, where are you?" she shouted as she rushed into every room, not caring that the neighbours might hear her. "K —"

    Sarah Jane's keys dropped to the floor to join the shards of glass, the one mini-satellite dish of an ear, and the pile of scorched and twisted 51st century metal, still smoking in the gentle breeze.

    ***​

    It didn't take long for her to wipe away her tears and sweep K9's remains into an old cardboard box, which she pushed under her bed into the corner and covered with a rug from the back of her old car. After a few deep breaths, Sarah Jane grabbed her torch and camera and set off for Canada Square, weaving quickly through the crowds of people on the streets celebrating their freedom. The worst I'll get out of this is a front page story; at best, I'll see him again…

    For who else could have fought off the Cybermen and the Daleks in the same afternoon? She was sure — more than sure — that the Doctor was at the bottom of all this, and Sarah Jane wasn't going to let him get away without some answers.

    And it would be good to see Rose again.

    ~tbc~

    A/N: Constructive criticism would be very, very much appreciated, as I'm trying to get this the best I can before posting it to whofic.com :)
     
    #1 Arienne, Nov 24, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2014
  2. Yay! Finally you posted it.

    Fantabulous! I love it. It does get a little confusing in the middle (but that may just be me) when everything happens so quickly. It seemed to happen a lot slower in the episodes, but maybe that was just coz it was a two parter and all.

    Can't wait for the next bit, keep up the good work :)
     
  3. Nemesis

    Former Administrator

    Wow, that actually kept me interested all the way through, which isn't an easy thing to do. As Rosie said, it felt a little rushed when the action swept to the evacuation, and I am struggling to see an overall point for K9 being destroyed. (Assuming this isn't a set up for anything else)

    Great work though, I am finding out my self how challenging a Who fic can be to write.
     
  4. Thanks guys :) I'll see what I can do with the middle bit.
    Ehehe... *shifty*
     
  5. Prof. Cinders

    Prof. Cinders Mathemagician
    Staff Member Administrator

    *has finally read it* Woo! Wait 'til I tell my brother you blew up K9, he'll be in tears for the rest of the week. :p Brilliant story, fantastic characterisation, involving action, can't find any errors grammatically orientated, so, all in all, a lovely story. ^^ Just don't ask me to advise you on how to improve it, I'm not very good at that.
     
  6. Lol! So, got any tips for improving then? :p

    Thank you anyway. It goes downhill from now, so I'm sure you'll be able to find more things to shout at me about ;D

    Chapter 1 — A Breach and a Basement

    He didn't know how long he stood there, straining to hear her voice on the other side of the wall; waiting for her to place her hand on his and teach him how to smile again — from the moment she'd let go of that damn lever, he'd quite forgotten how. Her last moments in this universe played across his mind, again and again and again until he could remember every crease in her clothes, every mascara-coated lash around her widened eyes, every nanosecond of her scream; then the soft thud that echoed in his head, even over the howling of the breach, as she slammed into Pete's arms.

    But it's her eyes he remembered most vividly, filled with fear and hope and despair all at once, and something else that he couldn't — wouldn't — make out. I have to move on.

    The Doctor's hand slid back down to his side, and he turned away from the bare, ordinary wall and walked through the wreckage to the staircase. I've always got the TARDIS, he thought, as cheerily as he could.

    Still, it was always better with three.

    ***​

    She couldn't believe how easy it'd been to get into Canary Wharf, even with the guards (all two of them, with several cans of beer scattered in the vicinity), security cameras (only a stone's throw away, although a laser would have been much less messy, Sarah Jane thought sadly) and bits of technology here and there which she was sure she'd seen about seven hundred years in the future, but only emitted feeble beeps and wisps of smoke when she poked them.

    Finding her way around inside the building, however, was a different matter. It was a maze of dead ends and locked rooms, with a T-shaped logo printed on every floor except the first five. Sarah Jane felt a burst of pride for Atif, shortly followed by more anxiety for his wellbeing: Sri Lanka wasn't the safest place on Earth, but it was probably better than wherever this Torchwood Institute had him locked up.

    When her legs nearly gave out on the twenty-sixth floor, she knew she had to head back if she wanted to go to work relatively awake and un-bruised in the morning. Just the basement, then, she told her aching limbs. Lots of space for time-travelling police boxes in basements.

    Twenty minutes later, and Sarah Jane noted to herself that basements had lots of space for other alien items too. She whipped out her camera and snapped away, knowing that most, if not all, of the photos would be far too sensitive for publication; but she'd never actually managed to get any pictures of a Sontaran helmet, mummy's arm or Zygon blaster while she was running away from each appropriate monster — not counting her dashed off sketches on the worn pages of her diaries. When she'd gone through all the things she wanted to see — and some that she didn't — Sarah Jane turned to the final closed door. She knew by now that the chances of the Doctor and Rose still being here were pretty close to zero; that didn't stop her heart from suddenly beating faster as she neared the exit, or her breath catching as she pulled at the handle…

    ***​

    "Hello, Doctor."

    He turned just before he put the key into the TARDIS door, and almost smiled for not expecting that of course Sarah Jane would be the first to turn up and find him. Almost.

    She seemed to take his silence as a greeting, and moved closer into the dim light. Her face was filled with restrained joy, tinged with worry. She gestured upwards and around to the rubble. "I suppose you caused all this then?"

    He flinched, wondering if she already knew how entirely true that was. "Started it, yes — and stopped it," he answered lightly, pushing away the memories of both.

    "Oh." She smiled nervously and the Doctor could sense her searching swiftly for another topic — just don't ask

    "Where's Rose?"

    His mask of calm cracked, and he looked away, not daring to meet Sarah Jane's eyes in case she saw right through him, saw the empty shell he was on the verge of becoming…

    Her hands crept to her mouth in horror. "She… she's not —"

    "No." His tone was flat, and he felt Sarah Jane recoil slightly. Cursing his rudeness, he made himself carry on, "She's safe. Just… not here."

    She nodded in understanding. Still, he could see his own sadness echoed in her eyes, and cast around desperately for something else to say. "Erm… is K9 about?"

    It was Sarah Jane's turn to avert a pain-filled gaze. "No," she answered evenly, before the Doctor had a chance to apologise. "He was hit — blown up. I don't know if it was a Cyberman or Dalek that did it."

    She looked back up to see the Doctor move sharply towards her, worry etched on his face. "You weren't…"

    "I wasn't injured, no." He raised an eyebrow in response and took another step forwards, standing right in front of Sarah Jane; then gently swept her fringe to the side with his fingers, eyes hardening as he saw the blood congealing around a couple of small cuts. She met his eyes defiantly, and continued, "But I was… something strange happened."

    The Doctor furrowed his brow as he took out his sonic screwdriver and brought it to her forehead. "Go on."

    She winced slightly as the wounds healed and fixed her gaze on a point some distance behind him. "After the Cybermen came, and the Daleks appeared, I got trapped, and then… then I was floating. Something was pulling me here." She looked back up at him as if expecting the Doctor not to believe or even understand her, but his expression was one more of shock than of scepticism.

    "But you… you've never been through…" He stared intensely at a very confused Sarah Jane as he reached into his pocket for his 3D glasses — then he remembered where they were, and abruptly span on his heel to face the TARDIS, making sure that one of the most perceptive humans he'd ever known couldn't see his face as he slowly unlocked the door. A few seconds later, he stood aside and gave her a small smile. "Cuppa tea?"

    ~tbc~
     
    #6 Arienne, Nov 30, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2014
  7. Again, really good. Not full of action, but the descriptions are really good. You can really tell there's a strong bond between Sarah Jane and the Doctor through the really good use of speech and description (i sound like I'm analysing it for English XD)

    Just one sentence that doesn't make much sense:
    "Just the basement, then, she told her aching limbs."
    but other than that, great!
     
  8. Ooh, thanks for that :D *edits*
    Lol - don't you dare turn my fic into a short story :o
     
  9. Chapter 2 — Tea in the TARDIS

    Sarah Jane followed the Doctor through the TARDIS, allowing herself a muffled laugh as he urged her to take a seat while he flitted around the kitchen preparing tea and biscuits. When he proceeded to pour her a cup with an apprehensive grin, she knew they were both remembering their very first meeting, and smirked back at him. It seemed to lift his spirits a little, and she relaxed into her chair as he retrieved a pair of battered cardboard spectacles from under the TARDIS sofa before sitting opposite her and placing his chin on his hands. "What do you know about background radiation?"

    She shrugged, not especially in the mood for a physics lesson. "Enlighten me."

    "My pleasure!" The Doctor didn't seem to notice her rolling her eyes as she leaned forward to mirror his position — or if he did, he was in a sufficiently good mood to ignore it, which suited Sarah Jane just as well. "When people travel through time, through the Time Vortex, they soak up all this invisible background radiation from it — completely harmless," he added, seeing the look on Sarah Jane's face, "but very much completely there."

    "So if the background radiation caused me to hover three feet above the ground today," she said casually, "why hasn't it happened before?"

    The Doctor took an unusually long sip from his mug before answering. "Well, there hasn't been a great big hole in the universe sucking certain things into the Void before," he said calmly. Sarah Jane raised her eyebrows, but stayed silent. "To cut a long story short," he went on, "there's an infinite number of parallel universes, all piled on top of each other: between them, there's the Void. Some time ago, four Daleks in a Void Ship decided to break back into our universe, made a hole in the fabric of reality that translated into a black spot for human radar; then about five million Cybermen from another universe went and followed them through the breach; oh, and Mickey came back —"

    "Came back?"

    The Doctor scratched the back of his neck uncomfortably. "We had a slight accident, ended up in that other universe; he decided to stay there, and then… yes, he came back," he said, as if that explained everything. For the moment, Sarah Jane supposed it did, and nodded for him to carry on.

    "Anyway, everything that's crossed the Void is drenched in background radiation. All I did to save the world was reopen the breach in reverse, so everything that'd been through the Void got pulled back in again. And hey presto! No more Daleks or Cybermen," he finished, with only a hint of the dramatic flair he normally reserved for stories of his heroics.

    Sarah Jane sat back in uncertainty. "But I've never been dimension-hopping in my life! Why would I be affected?"

    A ghost of a grin appeared on the Doctor's face. "That's where these come in," he replied, waving the 3D glasses in front of her. "Sorry they're a bit tatty, my other pair…" he trailed off for a moment, before suddenly handing them over, muttering, "there you go. Take a look at my swirly void stuff."

    After blinking once to adjust her eyes, she gazed in awe at the glowing particles surrounding the Doctor, who smiled briefly. "Now look at your hand."

    She did so, and was momentarily puzzled. "But I've got hardly any…" She studied the other hand, then as much of herself as she could see in the Doctor's company, before giving the glasses back.

    "You're right: you have never travelled through the Void; only through time," he explained. "But all background radiation originates in the Void: it leaks into every dimension, spreads out across every Time Vortex. The levels of radiation in the Vortex are about a billion times lower than those in the Void. You must have soaked up a fair amount of it to feel even the slightest pull; but then again," he conceded with a smile, "you were with me for a long time."

    Nodding as she filed away the information, Sarah Jane realised something else. "But you've got so much void stuff too — why weren't you…" Her question died away in the back of her throat as she caught the terrible expression clouding the Doctor's features: grief and resentment and guilt pooling in his eyes.

    "I sent them back," he murmured, in answer to her unsaid thoughts. "They all went through to the other world, and then she came back." He looked at her fiercely, his eyes sparkling. "She came back and saved us all."

    He almost choked on the last words, and for a while all Sarah Jane could hear was the soothing hum of the TARDIS as the Doctor's words sank in. She waited as long as she could before softly saying, "You said she was safe."

    It seemed to snap him out of his reverie, and he nodded sadly. "When she… when she let go, her dad — well, a guy from the other universe who was her dad in this one, same difference — he popped in and saved her. Took her back to his Earth. So they're all there now, Pete and Jackie and Mickey and… and Rose," he finished, closing his eyes as he finally uttered her name.

    Sarah Jane reached out and touched his hand. He started at the contact, then allowed his fingers to curl around hers; she could feel his desperation from his grasp, and winced when he squeezed tightly for a fraction of a second before he forced them to relax.

    "I promised her mother that I'd get them out of there, that they'd be safe," he said tonelessly. "I kept my word. Maybe that's all that matters in the end."

    She wondered who he was trying to convince, and suddenly remembered her last words to Rose. "Some things are worth getting your heart broken for… Find me, if you need to, one day." She'd thought she knew what lay ahead for Rose: the ultimate fate of any of the Doctor's companions. But she'd never expected this.

    "Isn't there any way you can see her again?"

    He shook his head. "The hole is sown up, smoothed over: it's like it was never there. To break through would be impossible."

    But you always like impossible, Sarah Jane thought for a moment, and brightened up considerably, to the Doctor's confusion. "What if there was another breach?"

    He looked to the ceiling, considering. "The chances are minute, more than minute… One to a billion — no, one to a trillion… One to a gazillion trill— where're you going?"

    She was already in the console room when the Doctor caught up with her. "You said the breach did something to radar," she said as she strolled determinedly towards the blue doors. "If Torchwood has records of a similar radar blip, there'd be another gap for you to pass through."

    He blocked her path and looked down into steely eyes. "Even if such a gap existed, crossing through to parallel universes takes colossal amounts of energy, energy that would make the walls of reality fracture — again." The pain in his voice was still there, but she could hear something else now, something that made her smile sweetly up at the Doctor, who scowled back. "And we'd have no idea which universe was on the other side: we could step into a black hole for all we know! Besides," he arched an eyebrow, "don't I remember you saying you ‘can't do this anymore?'"

    Sarah Jane resisted the urge to assess the sensitivity of certain male Gallifreyan body parts, choosing instead to stamp on his foot — hard — as she ducked under his arm and exited the TARDIS, a rather disgruntled but amused Doctor following in her wake.

    ***​

    It didn't take long for the Doctor to find what he wanted: he'd already overridden the security systems a couple of hours beforehand, after all. A few shortcuts and cracked encryptions later, he called Sarah Jane over from a pile of folders. She hesitated before taking one with her; he caught the name "Shah, Atif" as she pushed it into her shoulder bag.

    "Here we are, then: Operation number three-one-five, codename Black Hole. Very original," he grimaced, before scanning through the general briefing. "Strange… it seems there's a small spatial-temporal disturbance somewhere in the Gobi desert… Isolated, not to mention on the other side of the world, but way more accessible height-wise than the breach they've got up here, no need for skyscrapers or heavy security — and yet there's nothing after 1974. Just… kaput." Intrigued, he pushed his glasses back up his nose and clicked on the mission log files.

    Beside him, Sarah Jane let out a gasp.

    "Well, that's… odd," he muttered, scrolling down the list of missions dating from 1942 — all with ‘FAILED' typed next to them in ugly red capitals. After glancing through a few and finding no useful information, he brought up the list of Torchwood agents assigned to O-315. "All but one reported ‘missing, presumed dead', and the only survivor died in a mental asylum forty-one years ago," he read out with slight alarm. He turned to Sarah Jane, who finished copying down the location and coordinates with a flourish.

    "Off we go then," she said cheerily; but the Doctor could sense the trace of fear in her voice, and grabbed her arm before she reached the TARDIS.

    "You don't have to do this, Sarah Jane," he said quietly. "I don't know what's out there, and a crack between universes is dangerous enough without something in the area… oh, I dunno, eating people, addling their brains." He gazed at her intently, willing her to understand. "I can't let you… can't afford to watch you…" He closed his eyes briefly, wishing for an instant that she wasn't there so that he could break down in graceful solitude. When he opened them again, she'd stepped closer; in the soft light of dawn, her face was shining with sympathy, but also stubborn hope.

    "I'm not going to let you leave her without saying goodbye," she blurted out, colour rising to her cheeks — and his — as she spoke. After an awkward pause, she added, "In any case, I've got nothing better to do at the moment: it's been rather quiet on the alien front lately, not counting today." He felt her hand slip into his: a smaller, perhaps rougher hand than he'd become used to, but still as right as it had always been.

    "Just one last time, Doctor," she whispered. "Let me help you."

    Slowly, almost imperceptibly, he nodded. "But you've got to get some sleep first," he told her as sternly as he could, as her face tried to take on a grin and a yawn at the same time. "I can take you back home —"

    "And leave me there? I don't think so," she answered back. "Besides, I don't fancy hitchhiking back from Aberdeen again."

    "Point taken," he sighed. "There's always your old room in here." He patted the TARDIS door fondly, stopping short of stroking it when he caught Sarah Jane's look.

    "I only left a couple of things — you didn't throw them out?" she questioned with amusement.

    The Doctor beamed as he let her in. "I never forgot you, and neither did she," he said warmly as he closed the door behind them.

    ~tbc~

    A/N: Please leave me a comment! I have cookies ^_^
     
    #9 Arienne, Dec 10, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2014
  10. Prof. Cinders

    Prof. Cinders Mathemagician
    Staff Member Administrator

    Very nicely done. Chucking Sarah Jane into some nice action'll be interesting to read. :p And I suppose that bit about "certain male Gallifreyan body parts" had you pondering for a while yourself. ;)

    Gimme cookie. ^^
     
  11. I comment whether you have cookies or not. But I will have one.

    Yay! I loves it. Faultless.
     
  12. Aww thank you :) *teleports chocolate chip cookies over*
    And there must be faults somewhere... :-\

    Chapter 3 — Deserted Anachronisms

    Sarah Jane woke to the sounds of muffled tinkering, and a pleasant hum from the walls. The previous night, she'd only just made it to the bed before collapsing on top of it, unable to fight her exhaustion any longer. Not as if I was carrying nightclothes on me anyway, she thought; then, out of curiosity, she got up and opened the wardrobe that she'd all but emptied when she was last in the room.

    Her jaw dropped, and she ran her hands through rails of clothes (forgotten it's not only time machines that can be bigger on the inside, she mused) which she knew, without having to try them on, would fit her perfectly, in both size and style. "You really are amazing, old girl," she murmured to the walls, which seemed to purr a little in response. For a moment, Sarah Jane understood why the Doctor liked stroking odd bits of the TARDIS; then she stifled a chuckle, and made her way to the console room.

    The Doctor jumped up with a somewhat guilty grin when he saw her, and shifted to try and hide what he'd been working on; her eyes widened with delight when she spotted the metal tail and nose sticking out either side of him. "I think," he stated, scratching his ear absentmindedly, "seeing as I was indirectly responsible for getting him blown up, I owe you a mark 5."

    She smiled as she shook her head. "You owe me nothing but the taxi fare to Croydon — oh, and a new car," she smirked, and the Doctor exaggerated his flinch before flicking a couple of switches on the console panel and connecting K9 to it with a few wires into his ears. "He'll be up and running in about six hours. Should give us enough time to explore," he said as he danced around the console, pulling and slamming various levers and buttons with infectious excitement.

    The TARDIS landed with as big a shudder as any Sarah Jane had been through. After steadying herself, she went to help a fairly flustered Doctor pull his coat on. He smiled as it finally fell onto his shoulder and turned to face her with the first truly happy expression Sarah Jane had seen for a long time; then, just as suddenly, his face fell and she caught a flash of disappointment in his eyes before he gave her a wistful smile.

    "Ladies first." He pulled open the door; knowing that nothing she did would comfort him anyway, Sarah Jane smiled back and stepped out.

    "I thought you said it was in a desert?"

    ***​

    Trees. Lots of trees. Trees as far as the eye — even the significantly more advanced eye of the Doctor, ignoring a touch of long-sightedness — could see. If the TARDIS had landed six inches out of place, she would have materialised in the middle of a trunk (and they'd find a bird's nest and a couple of squirrels running around when they got back inside.) As it was, she was standing in a vaguely TARDIS-sized gap in the dense cross-stitch of branches with not even a scratch on her blue paintwork. How… convenient, the Doctor pondered, before putting it down to the cleverness of his ship and her chameleon circuit.

    He used the sonic screwdriver to locate Sarah Jane, who was crouching a few feet away, peering suspiciously at the leaf-strewn ground.

    "A path! Excellentricity! …ooh, that's a new one," he said to himself as he joined her.

    "But it doesn't look right," she said in response. "It's not a curve in a path; it's the start of one. Who would create a pathway, spend their time making sure trees or bushes or furry animals don't grow in it, and then just end it in the middle of nowhere?"

    "You really want me to answer that?" Sarah Jane laughed as the Doctor waved the screwdriver above the forest floor and listened to the resulting beeps. He scratched his head with his free hand. "That's strange… I can't get a proper age reading out of it…"

    A gentle breeze wafted through the small clearing, displacing some of the green and yellow leaves near the travellers' shoes to reveal patches of dry earth underneath.

    "…ah, there we go." The Doctor jumped to his feet and helped Sarah Jane up. "Scan suggests it's about sixty years old."

    "And that first Torchwood mission here was in the forties," she finished, apparently less anxious about their surroundings.

    "Correctomundo! …oh, damn it," he muttered, and slapped his forehead — then noticed his hand, and held it out in front of his face in surprise. "That's interesting."

    "What's interesting?" Sarah Jane grasped his hand and had a look for herself.

    "The hairs, see: all on end. Means there's some kind of ionic energy disturbance about," he explained. She didn't let go, and he raised his eyebrow. "Also seems like a good way of getting lovely ladies to hold my hand."

    "Oh, honestly." She rolled her eyes and threw it back to his side without blushing. You really have moved on, the Doctor thought. Good for you.

    But he couldn't help thinking of another woman who would have kept his hand as they walked, and realised that he wasn't moving on as quickly as he'd hoped.

    ***​

    They strode on in silence for a while, following the path as it twisted round the towering trees that cast dancing shadows on the ground. The Doctor held his sonic screwdriver out in front of him, to light the way and to watch out for signs of danger — although the area was surprisingly quiet in that respect. In fact, it was quiet anyway: he supposed most of the wildlife had been dealt with by whatever took the Torchwood agents; hence the outstretched screwdriver on setting 44. Beside him, Sarah Jane matched his pace, and was also glancing about warily. Her expression, however, was one of internal agitation, as if she had a question on the tip of her tongue but couldn't quite bring herself to ask it.

    Eventually, of course, she did. "Doctor?"

    He looked down at her, reckoning that nothing she said could make him feel any more uncomfortable than he'd been the day before. "That's my name."

    She chewed her lip slightly and carried on. "In that… that parallel universe, would there be another version of me?"

    "Could be," he answered slowly. "Every event that occurs, every decision we make: they each spawn another parallel universe. You could exist in any of them: could be dead, alive, street dancer, prime minister; could have sixteen grandchildren for all I know." He affected a majestic swagger. "The possibilities are endless!"

    She smiled and nodded, then hesitated. "So there could be another you — another Doctor?"

    It took all his self-control and pride to carry on walking. He rearranged his face into what he hoped was a carefully blank expression, just before she noticed the pause and looked up. "Doctor?"

    "There was only one Gallifrey." His voice still wavered a little. "It existed on a higher plane than that of what you'd call normal space-time, spanning across all the parallel universes: all that was, all that is and all that ever could be," he recited with a hint of bitterness. "So, the Time Lords came from the same plane. When Gallifrey was destroyed, everything went down with her: the barriers preventing paradoxes, the means of travelling safely between dimensions, all of my people…" He trailed off as he pushed the memories of the Time War back into the corners of his mind. He knew they'd haunt him later in his dreams when he dared to sleep, but flashbacks which left him helplessly numb on the floor were generally rather inconvenient at times like these.

    He sighed and looked at Sarah Jane, who for once didn't meet his eyes. "So to answer your question: no." He smiled sadly. "No more Time Lords left but me."

    The forest around them seemed to whisper for a moment; a light wind shifted the leaves again, lifting them as far as Sarah Jane's knees before cradling them back down in the warm currents of air. The Doctor's grip on his screwdriver tightened as they rounded the next corner.

    He stopped, and Sarah Jane promptly walked into his back.

    "What the hell?"

    They were standing in front of two large doors in a tarnished metal wall, several metres high; emblazoned above the doors was a name in peeling white lettering. The Doctor's eyes widened.

    "SS Madame de Pompadour," he breathed.

    ~tbc~
     
    #12 Arienne, Dec 15, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2014
  13. ..... Will this ever end? You seem to be drawing on anything and everything that came from series 2. But its not at all predictable. Random, but not predictable.

    What would be great is if there'd be another Arthur (the horsie) but you can't have everything *glares*

    I like it. Its really good. Yay.
     
  14. Prof. Cinders

    Prof. Cinders Mathemagician
    Staff Member Administrator

    *jumping for joy* Wahey! Knew it, knew it, knew it'd get in there somewhere... Well, I didn't, but I'm still happy about the fact that it is. ^^ You seem to like the technicalities of Gallifreyan bodies... Certainly makes the story your own, but still very much Doctor Who (and very much Tennant-ish ^^). Excellent characterisation, lovely Tardis, huggable Doctor, keep it coming!
     
  15. Nemesis

    Former Administrator

    I'm super impressed. And the revalation of the ship has left me wanting so much more. However, it does jump to mind that the Doctor never saw the name of the ship in the Girl in the Fireplace, so was his reaction due to the association with Reinette, or had you written it as if he knew the ships name?
     
  16. Danky ;D I'm not entirely sure when the S2 references end (obviously there'll be quite a few from GitF soon), but I had a lot to get out of my system after Doomsday, so expect more to come :D Glad that it's not predictable. :)
    As far as I know, Arthur is still in 18th century France. I do however have a couple of ideas...
    [quote author:prof Cinders link=topic=1320.msg10484#msg10484 date=1166224405]
    *jumping for joy* Wahey! Knew it, knew it, knew it'd get in there somewhere... Well, I didn't, but I'm still happy about the fact that it is. ^^ You seem to like the technicalities of Gallifreyan bodies... Certainly makes the story your own, but still very much Doctor Who (and very much Tennant-ish ^^). Excellent characterisation, lovely Tardis, huggable Doctor, keep it coming![/quote]
    Aww thanks :D Gallifreyan anatomy is such a fascinating subject, doncha think? Pity I've never had a decent examination of one ... :( ;)
    [quote author=The Black Smoke link=topic=1320.msg10521#msg10521 date=1166317484]
    I'm super impressed. And the revalation of the ship has left me wanting so much more. However, it does jump to mind that the Doctor never saw the name of the ship in the Girl in the Fireplace, so was his reaction due to the association with Reinette, or had you written it as if he knew the ships name?[/quote]
    Thanks muchly :D Hopefully this next chapter will clear things up (a bit), but it was mostly the association with Reinette, and the "by Rassilon, there's an effing spaceship in the middle of a desert that's actually a forest" thing. :)
     
  17. Chapter 4 — SS Madame de Pompadour

    The spaceship had created a clearing for itself: no trees grew less than three feet away from the rusty sides, and the Doctor and Sarah Jane walked around it with ease. It was, surprisingly, completely intact: the Doctor had no idea how it could have remained undiscovered for so long. They continued walking the perimeter and scanning the key-shaped ship until, an hour later, they were back at the entrance to the outer hull.

    "Well, it's not a hologram, or a morphic illusion; nothing like that," he concluded as he pocketed the sonic screwdriver. He stepped closer and placed his hand upon the cold metal surface. "You shouldn't be here," he murmured.

    "You don't say." Sarah Jane's dry voice interrupted his thoughts. "Are we going in then?"

    The Doctor hesitated: all the pieces from a previous adventure were flying together in a way that very much encouraged him to say no, we're going straight back to the TARDIS and staying there until I can trust myself to come back without breaking down; but his curiosity won in the end, and he sonic-ed open the entrance. "Stay close," he told her, knowing there was very little chance that she would.

    It was just as he remembered: the tangles of wires covering the dimly-lit rusty walls; the hollow echoes of their footsteps on the metal grille as they made their way through the corridors; even the smell…

    "Is that… burning?" Sarah Jane was sniffing cautiously. The Doctor carried on walking. His mind was ticking away furiously: he guessed that the spaceship had somehow fallen through a wormhole and crash-landed here, but now that he finally knew why the clockwork robots had been after Reinette — another part of him clenched painfully again as he thought of her — how would they have returned to their ship from 18th century France? He'd already closed all the time windows…

    A few feet away, Sarah Jane wrinkled her nose. "It's not just wood, it's more like…"

    "Like someone's cooking," the Doctor finished bleakly. He held his hand to his forehead, forcing himself to recall the layout of the ship from the time he'd been running around trying to locate companions and time windows. "This way," he said at last, and hurried off in what he hoped was the direction to the control room.

    Sarah Jane followed with a puzzled look on her face. "Have you been here before?" Again, the Doctor did not answer, and quickened his pace.

    He passed the spot where the TARDIS had stood, and briefly touched the gilded frame of the portrait he'd missed before. It left a slight mark on his fingers, and the Doctor wiped them on his coat before reaching inside for a letter that he hadn't dared take out, in case he lost it — or, perhaps worse, if Rose then found it.

    His hand stilled at this thought, his fingertips brushing the broken seal inside his pocket. The waves of guilt and regret were weaker now, he was pleased to note; but still…

    After waiting for Sarah Jane to catch up, he entered the control room. She appeared to be surprisingly laid-back as she eyed the tarnished, derelict interior, although the Doctor knew she was almost bursting with questions. He started flicking switches on the control panel in the middle of the room, waiting for her to speak.

    "So are we the only people around?" Her tone was understandably fearful.

    He tweaked another few knobs and bit his lip. Slowly he shook his head. "Three life readings on board," he jabbed a button, "so that's me, you, and another human, I reckon." She breathed a small sigh of relief, but the Doctor remained on his guard: the enemies he was expecting didn't register on life signal scans. But there were other dangers he could scan for. He pressed a few more buttons and the lights turned on, a screen also flickering into life in front of him. A glance confirmed his suspicions, and his hearts dropped a couple of notches.

    "All the warp engines are on," he whispered, as if that would make it any less true. "Which means there's another hole in the universe — that's what's causing the spatial-temporal disturbance, the radar black spot. But I closed all the windows last time… you'd need a pretty big breeze to blow them open again…" He tapped at the panel keys impatiently, scanning the screen until he found — "Gotcha! Secondary control room, starboard side — I'll definitely be needing an extra pair of hands for this, good job I brought you along… Sarah Jane?"

    The Doctor turned, and discovered that he'd been addressing a patch of empty space.

    "Oh, they never change," he muttered, and idly pressed a few more buttons.

    With a rusty groan, a door swung open behind him. A trace of a familiar scent floated in; he froze, not daring to turn around.

    "Doctor?"

    ***​

    It's not really wandering off, Sarah Jane told herself as she ambled through the corridors, it's just assessing the local area, and I'm sure he'll thank me later for it. Years of investigation — with and without the Doctor — had honed Sarah Jane's finding-the-way-around-and-back skills. So what if her not-getting-lost-on-the-way skills hadn't improved quite as much? Besides, it's only a matter of time before the Doctor comes running towards me and throws me out of a window before the ship explodes, or grabs my hand and drags me away from whatever red-eyed tentacled alien's after us this time, or ends up shackled to a metal table with a laser beam inching up between his…

    Sarah Jane stopped mid-thought (which was probably a good thing, as the TARDIS had a habit of exciting the imagination, and she'd been watching far too many James Bond films recently) as she turned the corner.

    A small girl was standing in the middle of the corridor. The fabric of her ankle-length blue dress rippled as she swayed in a non-existent breeze, backwards and forwards, her sandaled feet together. The long silky sleeves of the dress covered her hands, which seemed to be clenching and unclenching in time to the girl's movements. Sarah Jane stepped closer and caught sight of the girl's face: waist-length chestnut hair framed a pretty, heart-shaped face. She had her eyes shut tight, but her mouth was moving rapidly, lips parting and twisting to spit out silent syllables.

    Sarah Jane approached the girl warily. Is she having a fit? She's definitely human… I think… Maybe I should get the Doctor…

    The girl was shaking now, still mouthing in a language either too quick or too alien for Sarah Jane to understand. Her maternal instincts took over. "Are you alr—"

    Suddenly the girl's eyes flew open. They latched instantly onto Sarah Jane's — the older woman thought she caught a flash of silver, intense and unearthly — but it must have been a trick of the light. The girl's large grey eyes were haunting, perhaps, but by no means unsettling or alien. The Doctor said the other life-form on board was human, Sarah Jane remembered, and felt a wave of almost absurd calm wash over her. She welcomed it.

    "Hello," she said kindly to the girl, who smiled back amiably. "What's your name?"

    "Corina Trusler."

    Trusler? The name seemed familiar to Sarah Jane, but she couldn't quite place it. "Corina, that's a beautiful name," she said. "But what are you doing here?"

    Corina frowned; a moment later, her face lit up. "I was playing, and then I fell," she replied with a hint of glee.

    "You… fell?" Sarah Jane repeated doubtfully. "Into a spaceship?"

    "No," the girl said firmly. "I fell from there." She raised her hand to the ceiling; Sarah Jane followed her pointing finger and saw a few large holes in the metal trellis. The edges looked burnt and jagged.

    Sarah Jane was pretty sure they'd been made with a bazooka.

    She swallowed her fears and turned back to Corina. "So how did you get into this spaceship in the first place?"

    "Through a spatio-temporal hyperlink, of course." Sarah Jane stared: the girl couldn't be more than seven! Corina met her eyes innocently. "A magic door," she clarified, "through time and space. My daddy told me about them."

    Sarah Jane nodded slowly, still unnerved by the young girl's knowledge. I should get back to the Doctor… and so should you: he'd probably like to meet you…

    She was just about to voice her thoughts when Corina slipped her delicate hand into Sarah Jane's and gazed up sweetly at her. Her worries seemed to melt away as she looked into Corina's slate grey eyes.

    "Will you help me find my way back?" Corina squeezed Sarah Jane's hand gently, and the older woman felt a surge of sympathy.

    "You must miss your family," she whispered, and Corina nodded sadly.

    Sarah Jane hesitated. Wasn't there someone she needed to find first — someone who'd be worried, who might be able to help…?

    But she could think of no-one. "Of course I'll come with you," she told Corina, whose eyes widened in delight. With a final backward glance, Sarah Jane let the small girl lead her to the secondary control room.

    ***​

    For once in his life, the Doctor was lost for words. He gripped the rusty handles on the control panel — the ones that carried the notice "Pull in the event of an emergency" — and ignored his knuckles as they gradually turned impossibly white. Instead, he fixed his gaze on a small blinking light on the console, and started running through all the logical explanations in his head; but as each one faded away, the footsteps behind him got louder and the scent of her perfume more and more intense until —

    A pale, slender hand came to rest on the Doctor's. He closed his eyes as all the logic left him; only one thought blazed through his mind now. How…?

    "Doctor?" the woman repeated, and it was no mistaking her voice now: less panicked than he'd remembered, but still not entirely calm. "Doctor, it's me…"

    He still refused to look at her, but in the corner of his eye he could see the beautiful corseted dress, straight out of 18th century France, shimmering in the dim light. He heard something in her throat catch.

    "You… you do remember me?"

    Perhaps it was her tone: fear wrapped around wavering hope in her whispered question; or just the warmth of her hand and the rapid pulse through it, as his own heartbeat quickened; but something in him stirred. And the Doctor turned to her.

    "How could I forget?"

    Reinette smiled, and as he slowly took her hand and pressed it to his lips, a grin spread across his face too.

    ~tbc~

    A/N:
    1) I have no idea what a bazooka hole looks like. Sorry. ;D
    2) Please drop me a comment, this chapter even confused me when I reread it. And I now have mince pies :D
     
    #17 Arienne, Dec 23, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2014
  18. Prof. Cinders

    Prof. Cinders Mathemagician
    Staff Member Administrator

    MAARR. Okay, please keep making each chapter this good, and I'll owe you several hundred hugs when we get back to school. Just... wow. *hugs you now anyway*

    Gimme mince pie. ^^"
     
  19. *chucks it over* Danky :)

    Chapter 5 — Listening Over Time

    [size=8pt]Reason tells me you cannot be real.
    Oh, you never want to listen to reason.
    [/size]
    [size=8pt]Reinette and the Doctor, The Girl in the Fireplace[/size]​

    Having got his head around the fact that the woman in front of him wasn't just a figment of his imagination, the Doctor couldn't take his eyes off her. "You look… incredible," he said finally. Reinette smirked, but there was something else in her expression as she reached up to touch his face.

    "You have aged, my angel," she murmured; the Doctor shivered slightly under her gaze.

    "How did you get here?" he asked. Reinette raised her eyebrows, and led him through the newly opened door. The logs in the fireplace on the other side were smoking.

    "When you left, I… I could not wait," she explained softly. "I tried for a year, and you never came back."

    "I'm sorry."

    She shook her head at his solemn face. "You told me, years ago, that there was something wrong with the fireplace; I do not understand it, but I know it was not your fault." The Doctor opened his mouth to reply but Reinette quickly placed a hand over his lips. "You wanted to know how I came to be here, did you not?"

    He nodded silently, wondering if she'd always had this much power over him.

    "I shut myself in my room in the Palace for a week, perhaps two; I let no-one in, not my friends, my maidservants, not even my king," she continued. "They would have thought me mad; perhaps I was, for I spent the days trying to turn the fireplace as I have seen you do before, so that I might somehow return to your side. But I would never succeed; then I spent the nights praying for God to return my angel to me, so he would be lonely no more." She smiled again as she caught his puzzled expression. "My prayers were answered: an angel came to my aid, just as I was giving up all hope. She pulled me through the fireplace not two hours ago."

    The Doctor shook his head fiercely. "I put out the fire; the magic door should've been locked, sealed, gone!" He was pacing now, and Reinette cast him a look of concern. "Whatever you thought it was," he carried on in a lower voice, "it shouldn't have been able to pluck you out of Versailles in 1859 and drop you in the middle of a crashed spaceship in 2007." He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "This… angel, did you see where it — she — went?"

    Reinette nodded and gestured with her left hand; the other she slipped into the Doctor's. "You believe she was not an angel then?" she asked quietly.

    He did not answer straight away, but stared hard down the dull corridor. "The secondary control room," he muttered eventually. Reinette squeezed his hand encouragingly, and he carried on, "There's another hole in the universe — like the fireplace was until I closed it — and your angel must've found a way to superimpose that hole in the control room onto this fireplace… or maybe the other way round…"

    But before he could figure it out completely (and, perhaps more importantly, figure out why he couldn't figure it out) Reinette was pulling him gently down the passageway. She raised an eyebrow at the hesitation on his face.

    "You will not help me solve this mystery?"

    For a moment, the Doctor tried to recall what he'd been doing before Reinette had entered the room; but his mind was strangely clouded, and he couldn't remember anything apart except the elevated energy readings from the secondary control room…

    Suddenly Reinette stepped closer, her face barely inches from his. The Doctor's eyes slipped downwards for a fraction of a second; his mouth went dry, and his mind blank. Ah. That might explain it.

    She grinned impishly, perfectly aware of her effect on him, and tilted her head slightly, letting the Doctor could lean forward and —

    Reinette pulled away; he hid his surprise and subtly altered his movement, stepping smoothly past her. He studied her face: she wore the exact same grin as when she'd ordered him to dance with her. Didn't get out of that one, either.

    "Off we go then," she said merrily.

    The words echoed oddly in his head, as if he'd heard them spoken only a short time ago — but by whom?

    The Doctor shook himself out of his thoughts to find Reinette staring at him with admirable patience. Then he beamed and offered her his arm. "Shall we?"

    ***​

    They reached the secondary control room quickly, the Doctor following both his instincts and the beeping of his sonic screwdriver. The place looked very similar to the first control room, if the blackened holes in the floor were to be ignored. After noting the fire extinguisher-cum-ice guns, bazookas and other weapons on the walls, the Doctor stepped gingerly onto the grille and headed for the central console, while Reinette wandered round inspecting the many doors and metal cupboards.

    "Don't open them," he said suddenly, when he saw her hand hover over a lever. "For some reason, the power levels in this room are all garbled — I can't work out where exactly the rift is." Frustrated, he tapped a few more buttons and carried on, "The hole is unstable enough — you might end up trapped in the year 5000, or on another planet, or in another…"

    He trailed off, but the notion of a parallel universe somehow didn't seem so awful — he couldn't even remember why it would in the first place. Strange. Must be imagining things again.

    "Or perhaps my home is on the other side of one of these doors," Reinette said quietly.

    "The Château de Versailles, 1859? Could be," the Doctor nodded absentmindedly, putting on his glasses.

    "But I would be able to come back again?" He pretended not to hear her and flicked some more switches, causing the console to emit satisfyingly loud beeps.

    But she'd crossed the floor and was now standing right beside him, remarkably poised even though her heels were on the edge of one of the bigger holes in the floor. The Doctor sighed and made himself face her.

    "Even on the slim chance that you could walk through and 18th century France was on the other side, the possibility of you returning, without getting lost in time and space or fracturing any universes on the way…" He looked into Reinette's eyes desperately; she gazed back with the same mixture of understanding and pity that had shone from her eyes after she'd stepped into his mind.

    The Doctor turned back to the control panel: some things didn't have to be said. Reinette moved away again, a look of hard concentration that matched his own on her face. His hands flew over the console as he scanned the screens; but they told him nothing, except that something is very wrong here…

    A particular set of readings caught his eye; he studied it for a moment, then leaned over the console to reach a small, diamond shaped button —

    "Ow!" He jumped away from the panel and snatched his hand back to his chest; his fingers felt like he'd stuck them between a couple of irons, and he half expected them to be burnt and blistered and black — they weren't even slightly pink.

    "What is it? What happened?" Reinette rushed back to him from the other side of the room, and he was amazed that she didn't fall through the trellis or even stumble; he showed her his hand, which she eyed warily.

    "Just a bit of static, nothing to worry about," he replied cheerfully as he turned towards her and the control panel. "Although…"

    He stared over her shoulder at the innocent looking button, glinting green in the pale light. Could've sworn I saw a hand there…

    Then Reinette took his hand and made a show of examining it, caressing it a little more than strictly necessary. She looked up at him coyly; the Doctor felt an odd sense of calm desire spread through him. "Although… what?" she asked, eyebrow raised.

    His hand shivered, and definitely not because of static, the Doctor thought as the sensation was echoed around his body and other... extremities. He gazed at her, dumb, for a moment; then thought, oh, what the hell, and made his decision just as Reinette opened her mouth.

    "Absolutely nothing," he replied, and bent down and kissed her.

    ***​

    Sarah Jane couldn't remember much about how she and Corina got to the secondary control room — only that the young girl seemed to know her way around the spaceship scarily well. In fact, she couldn't even remember Corina mentioning which room they were going to — must've been on a sign somewhere, Sarah Jane told herself as they stepped through the rusty doorway.

    While Corina hopped effortlessly across the floor, Sarah Jane took her time getting to the central console: the holes in the grille were much bigger than she'd thought. And that wasn't the only thing bothering her.

    "Corina, I don't know the first thing about magic doors or spaceships."

    The girl took Sarah Jane's hand and squeezed gently. "Trust me?"

    Somehow she knew it wasn't a question, and nodded obediently. Corina smiled back and lifted Sarah Jane's hand above the console, then with her free hand pushed a small green button in the shape of a diamond.

    Corina winced as she pulled her hand back from the button; her grip on Sarah Jane's fingers tightened painfully, making her jump and stare at the small girl. She quickly turned her face away — but not before Sarah Jane had caught a glimpse of silver shining from her eyes, giving her pale face an eerie light.

    Panicking, she followed the girl's gaze to the console, where a panel had slid open to reveal what looked like a pane of gel-covered metal, with the outline of a hand imprinted in the smooth substance.

    "Please, Sarah Jane." She looked back at Corina's face; her eyes were normal now, but Sarah Jane could still see something behind them: a kind of wretched hardness that no child on Earth should know. "Help me find my family," the girl pleaded.

    Sarah Jane could feel the odd calmness spreading through her head again, soft voices urging her to help her… just put your hand on the sensor… that's all you need to do… — this time, she fought it. She narrowed her eyes and asked quietly, "When did I tell you my name?"

    BANG! Sarah Jane cried out as the pressure within her mind, so gentle and misty until now, suddenly increased tenfold — her skull felt like it was swelling up with an unrelenting, throbbing ache, the presence inside that was slowly crushing her consciousness away —

    And with the pain came an awful clarity. Sarah Jane could see right though Corina now, could tell that the thing gnawing through her mind was inexorably bound to this little girl in the long blue dress, who had now forced Sarah Jane's hand down onto the sensor pad in front of them. She could hear Corina's true voice in her head, vicious and hateful, growing louder as her own thoughts faded, drowning her in its screams from the beginning of time…

    Time.

    Time Lord.


    Sarah Jane blinked, and remembered.

    "DOCTOR!"

    Then the world went black.

    ~tbc~

    A/N: Merry Christmas all. :D
     
    #19 Arienne, Dec 25, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2014
  20. Chapter 6 — Reasoning for Meaning

    [size=8pt]Something doesn't make sense. One of your assumptions has to be wrong, because if something doesn't make sense then it can't be real. But what if the faulty assumption is that it's real? ... This is not real, therefore it's meaningless. I want meaning.[/size]
    [size=8pt]Dr Gregory House, No Reason, House M.D.[/size]​

    He pressed Reinette back against the console, dimly registering her moan of mixed pain and pleasure into his mouth. Oh yes. Payback. The Doctor might have grinned but his lips and not-so-new-now teeth were otherwise occupied — ooh, and my tongue… Rassilon, what is she doing with her tongue… Her hands were everywhere in his hair; even as the Doctor brought his own hands up around Reinette's back, he couldn't help remembering… who?

    The kiss deepened and he had no more time for reflection; her fingers were lower now, slowly learning their way around — and under — his suit, and part (well, parts) of him wished she wasn't wearing such a beautiful, complicated dress when he could hardly breathe, let alone think; still, he was drinking their combined passion like a lunatic… almost drowning in it…

    "DOCTOR!"

    He broke away, mind spinning, eyes locked on the spot where…

    What in the name of Rassilon is going on?

    Reinette touched his arm. "What's wrong?"

    He looked into her warm brown eyes, filled with concern and a hint of annoyance — and something else.

    "Someone," he said quietly, "screamed my name."

    Reinette raised her eyebrows, then looked down at her dress, which she was still very much wearing. "You are good, Doctor, but not that good."

    He ignored her tease and stepped away, eyeing her up and down. "You said it's been a year since I saw you last," he said, his tone suddenly cold. "It is customary, I believe," he mimicked, "to change your clothes at least once during that year."

    "Is it such a crime, to happen to wear the same dress as when we last met?" Reinette countered haughtily. The Doctor met her stormy gaze; her eyes were clouded with hurt, anger… and fear?

    But we've been in each other's heads, you and me. You know me. You've got no reason to fear me… ah.

    "Well," he said slowly, his realisation sinking in, "it is a bit of a crime, yes — to be wearing a dress that is exactly as I remember it."

    He circled her, watching her eyes, noting the tiny, almost imperceptible flashes of something that most certainly did not belong in the eyes of the thirty-seven year old mistress to the King of France.

    "Y'see, I have a very good memory," he went on, "an extraordinarily large memory, if you don't mind me saying — which, amongst other tricks, means I can tell when things have aged." He paused, flicked her golden fabric of her sleeve. "This hasn't.

    "But the thing," he said before she had a chance to interrupt, "about an extraordinarily large memory — it comes attached to a rather extraordinarily large mind. And, as is the case with extraordinarily large minds, it is rather easy for one to get lost in one's own head." He was walking round the console now, occasionally rapping the panel with his knuckles while Reinette's face remained frozen in a half amused, half irritated expression. "I think the Tellurians called it ‘the phenomenon of hyper-sensory fabri-cognitive projection.' Bit of a mouthful, even for me."

    He stopped, letting his fingers hover about a foot above a small pane of metal on the console and fighting the urge to giggle as the hairs on the back of his hand sprang up like little soldiers. Abruptly, he switched his gaze back to the woman standing in front of him. "Most people call it a hallucination."

    "But… I… you…" Reinette stuttered; the Doctor smirked. "You believe that I am a hallucination — a figment of your imagination?"

    "You're a very good hallucination," he replied kindly. "Got all the senses just right, stopped digging at just the right depth — shallow enough to keep me conscious, keep me convinced, and deep enough to keep me under control. In fact, I can't even break out without you — ow!" He had brushed the metal panel with his fingertips; he shook off the ‘static' with a grimace.

    Reinette was at his side in an instant, clutching his hand; the Doctor merely glanced at her worried face and chuckled.

    "Can't cover everything up with ionic residue, can we?" he whispered conspiratorially.

    "I beg your pardon?"

    "Whatever you've been using to repel my hand from the panel, from the button — isn't so easy to manipulate when you've got all the hairs on my manly hairy hand to force down, is it? Concentration's the key," he leaned in close to Reinette's face, "and you're losing it."

    The courtesan's expression was one of cold fury — a fire raging beneath carefully crafted ice. "It seems to me," she said coolly, "that you are the one who is ‘losing it'." She looked down at their joined hands. "How would I have been able to touch you if I were nothing but an illusion?"

    "Because you're clever, that's how!" the Doctor shouted back as he bounded away from her, grinning gleefully at the walls. "Well, clever and powerful — well, actually," he corrected himself, "scrap the clever bit." He turned to face Reinette again, wiping his mind blank as he did so. "Written any letters lately?"

    She blinked at the sudden change of subject. "I cannot see how that might be of any importance in this situation."

    "Thought not. Planning to?"

    "Certainly not to you!" she shot back, raising her voice for the first time in her apparent frustration. The Doctor noticed the air shimmer slightly, and tutted.

    "Again with the concentration thing — but no matter. The point is," he sighed, starting to pace around the room, "this is a particularly potent hallucination, I'll give you that. You feed me information direct into my brain, which then rationalises it, makes it seem real. You suppress my memories — those vague little feelings of déjà vu that I can't quite put my finger on — and bring out the ones that'll make me trust you. The forest outside, the flames in the fireplace…" He paused, his face suddenly blank, unreadable. "Your kiss…"

    He pushed away the guilt hovering behind his thoughts. There were more pressing matters at hand. "Everything looks the same, sounds the same, feels the same. So how can I tell what is real?"

    He glanced over to Reinette, who shook her head in angry confusion. "You make no sense, Doctor."

    "Oh, something's not making any sense alright," he replied grimly. "When something makes no sense, it means that it or something else is wrong. It's not real. But what if reality itself is wrong? What," he flung his arms out, "if all of this is in my head?

    "The only way to find out what's real and what's not is to find proof. Let's start with you, Reinette." He stopped by a fire extinguisher and reached out to lean on it, feeling the rustle of old paper in his inner pocket as he did so.

    "I have proof." The Doctor stared at Reinette. "You're not her."

    "Very well." She tilted her chin dangerously. "If you do not believe that I am who I say I am, then at least do me the courtesy of taking me home."

    "But that's the thing! You never did say who you were," the Doctor replied calmly, and jerked the ice gun off the wall. Reinette took a step backwards, trapped against the console as he pointed the gun in her direction.

    "So." He stared evenly at her, like a lion about to pounce. "Who are you?"

    For a moment, they remained locked in each other's gaze — CRACK! A ball of light appeared out of nowhere — then, as quickly as it had materialised, it exploded! The Doctor let the ice gun fall to the ground, using his arms to shield himself from the brightness that seemed stronger than even the pure white beams from the Void —

    And it was over. Blinking, the Doctor grabbed up the fire extinguisher again and aimed at where Reinette had been standing.

    He was quite sure both his hearts stopped.

    No. No, you can't, the Doctor thought, his hearts jumping painfully from silence to angry thuds, faster and faster as his fury rose.

    You have crossed the line. I won't ask again. Who — are — you?

    She spoke with Rose's voice, sweet and twisted and taunting.

    "Who do you want me to be?"

    Snarling, the Doctor slammed the trigger home.

    ~tbc~
     
    #20 Arienne, Dec 27, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2014
  21. Chapter 7 — Unfolded

    [size=8pt]There is no meaning to life except the meaning man gives to his life by the unfolding of his powers.[/size]
    [size=8pt]Erich Fromm[/size]​

    The screaming stopped. Sarah Jane couldn't remember how it started, but she was glad it was gone, and the ache fading away as she crawled back into consciousness.

    Okay, let's take stock. One head, two arms, two legs; all fingers and toes present and accounted for. Hair is not on fire. I have, for once, not collapsed! That's interesting.

    She dared to open her eyes, and allowed her irritation to eclipse her vast relief.

    "Where have you been?"

    The Doctor shifted his weight uneasily, and carefully lowered what Sarah Jane assumed was an ice gun to the ground — where another figure lay, pale and lifeless, specks of frost glittering in her hair. Sarah Jane gasped in horror, feeling as if the frost was seeping through to her bones too.

    "You killed her!"

    He met her gaze squarely, but his eyes were unreadable to Sarah Jane; after a pause, she dropped her eyes back to Corina's body. The Doctor followed: he knelt beside the small girl and placed his hand tentatively against her temple.

    "There wasn't enough left of her to kill," he said softly as he withdrew. "I'm sorry."

    For a moment, Sarah Jane wondered whether he was talking to her or to Corina; but her confusion took over. "What do you mean, ‘wasn't enough left'? She looked healthy enough before you froze her, and she was walking and talking just fine —"

    "There wasn't enough left of her." He pushed himself off the floor; Sarah Jane could see he was quietly fuming. "She was possessed by something — no, I don't know what," he said as Sarah Jane opened her mouth. "Something powerful, in any case. Powerful enough to inhabit a little girl for years — maybe decades — and prevent her from aging, from living. Sucking away at her defenceless mind until she had nothing but a name and a couple of warped memories — a breathing puppet." He stepped jerkily away from the body, his face contorted with rage and disgust.

    "But…" Sarah Jane bit her lip as the Doctor turned to her. She hadn't realised she'd been shaking until he looked her up and down with concern. "But it was in my head, too," she whispered.

    His eyes widened and he jumped forward, placing a hand either side of her forehead and looking straight into her eyes — straight into my mind, Sarah Jane realised.

    "Don't worry," she thought, as clearly as she could. "I trust you."

    A shadow of guilt flickered across his face. "I need to make sure it didn't leave anything behind," he murmured, and closed his eyes. "Just… try to relax."

    Seconds passed in silence.

    Finally, the Doctor nodded and withdrew; Sarah Jane let out the breath she hadn't known she'd been holding. "You're alright," he said, smiling for the first time since he had turned up. "But after you met this girl — Corina — what can you remember?"

    "She led me to this room so that I could ‘help her find her family'," she answered, her brow creasing in concentration. "Then she pressed that diamond button there," she pointed, "and then…" Her face fell. "I'm sorry; it's just darkness and screaming after that. I don't know what I did —"

    "Scanners online. Target selection in process."

    Sarah Jane jumped as the metallic voice rang out from the walls. The Doctor sprang across to the console and tapped the small button, then pressed his hand onto the sensor pad. The screens flashed red before reverting to the program status display.

    "It won't let me in!" he cried, and brandished the sonic screwdriver at the panel. The console beeped back, almost sweetly.

    "Deadlock sealed?" Sarah Jane offered.

    "Exactly. Plus, this isn't a normal handprint scanner: it takes a DNA sample too. Just a few cells from the top layer of skin; enough to tell I wasn't human."

    "Then let me try."

    He nodded and stepped aside; Sarah Jane pushed her hand into the sensor, wrinkling her nose at the unpleasant sensation of her palm against lukewarm gel. Another window popped up on the screen.

    "Brilliant!" She watched as the (now glasses-wearing) Doctor took over, his fingers whizzing across the various keys and switches; after about half a minute of frantic movement, his face fell.

    "What's wrong?"

    "Target selected. Engine reboot in five minutes and counting."

    "Doctor?" Sarah Jane looked anxiously from his face to the screens — she couldn't make any sense of either.

    "I can't stop the program," he muttered. "There's a password threaded into the encryption cycle; you must have set it when you were being controlled. It'll take too long to crack, even for me." He turned to her, desperation in his eyes. "Do you have any idea —"

    "I told you, I don't remember!" Sarah Jane replied, her own voice panicky. "What program? What is happening?"

    "The warp engines were never on," he whispered. "All those readings back in the other control room were fake — just illusions designed to lead us here, because here is where the engines can be manually overridden…"

    The Doctor paused; Sarah Jane had a suspicion that it was only partly for dramatic effect. "This ship is from the 51st century — from an Earth that has protection against warp engines lift-off. This Earth hasn't. And when those warp engines fire…"

    He took off his glasses and looked at Sarah Jane. Boom, he mouthed; only she could hear it in her head too, and understood far more than she would have liked to.

    "And there's nothing we can do to stop it?" she asked, dreading the answer.

    But before the Doctor had a chance to respond, another voice spoke for him.

    "Absolutely nothing."

    They span around and saw Corina's body, floating three inches above the floor, silver light pouring from her eyes.

    ~tbc~
     
    #21 Arienne, Dec 28, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2014
  22. Chapter 8 — Illyrya

    Sarah Jane recovered her breath first. "Who are you?"

    It seemed to her that Corina's appearance altered slightly, her body giving off a more mature air; and when she spoke, it was with a strange, lilting tone, in which Sarah Jane could make out hints of a sophisticated French accent — and of the Doctor's.

    "What's in a name? Names are just titles. Titles don't tell you any —"

    "Then what are you?" This from the Doctor, his face contorted with rage. He was gripping the sonic screwdriver so hard Sarah Jane thought he might crush it.

    The girl's body returned to normal — well, as normal as you get, taken that she's suspended in mid-air and has moonbeams coming out her eyes, Sarah Jane thought, dismayed.

    "I am of the Illyrya. I go by the name of Anleyta." Her voice was filled with cold spite; Sarah Jane recognised it immediately, and tried to block out the memory of screaming in her head.

    Beside her, the Doctor started. "You're an Illyryan?" he said in astonishment.

    "Why are you so surprised?" Anleyta countered. "Though I must admit, I believed the Time Lords long gone before today. At least I will still have a family to return to on the other side."

    He looked away briefly — Sarah Jane only saw a glimpse of his pain before he turned back to the Illyryan, face blank.

    "How'd you end up here then?" he asked coolly. "Last time I checked, Illyrya didn't exist — in this universe," he added hurriedly.

    "I crossed the Void during your Time War, in pursuit of the Eternals," Anleyta answered indifferently; the Doctor let out a small sigh of comprehension.

    Meanwhile, Sarah Jane was getting increasingly confused. "Eternals?" she repeated uncomfortably.

    "Immortal beings that lived in the Void, before they fled to higher planes of existence," the Doctor explained. "The Illyryans are their cousins of sorts: they have similar powers, like psychic abilities, only the Illyryans also have an affinity with ionic energy, allowing them to manipulate matter to a certain extent — basically, they can generate very convincing hallucinations. But the Illyryans are ephemeral spirits that need to possess living bodies to exist; the Eternals, well, you get the idea." He suddenly smiled, his features lighting up. "I think I got a very nice piece of Eternal celery from them once…"

    The Doctor's face fell once more as he turned back to Anleyta, who was now wearing an annoyingly smug expression.

    "So why are you here?" he asked, all trace of happiness gone.

    "After you decided to destroy your own planet —" (the Doctor's knuckles turned white again) "— I was obviously trapped in this universe. I was stranded in the Diagmar Cluster; my energy reserves were running out. I came across certain anomalies surrounding this spaceship: residue from a hyperlink to another time and place, living material in the walls, the absence of people or robots…

    "It was the hyperlink I was most interested in. Until I looked into your mind, Time Lord, I did not know that Gallifrey had been destroyed, and that travel across the Void was now limited — my people had sent me no word of these events."

    "No, they hadn't," the Doctor muttered in agreement. Anleyta ignored him and carried on.

    "My original pathway from home closed, I thought instead that this hyperlink would allow me to return. I survived by inhabiting the human organs I found littered around the ship —" (How could I have missed them? thought Sarah Jane in horror, before remembering what the Doctor had said about Illyryan hallucinations) "— and using them to replenish my reserves; still, I could not operate the ship without a body."

    "And then this ship crashed to Earth in 1942, through — of course!" exclaimed the Doctor. "The same year the Torchwood breach was first detected — the Daleks' ship must have just started to come through. Twentieth century London isn't too far off eighteenth century France, time or space-wise; the hyperlink from this ship to Versailles was already unstable, and the Void Ship reopened it."

    "Hang on," Sarah Jane cut in. "How come we're in the Gobi desert and not France then?"

    "I told you, the link was — is — unstable," the Doctor replied. "This ship dropped into a wonky wormhole — I'm surprised it landed less than a century out.

    "Anyway, that's my two cents," he said, returning his gaze to Anleyta. "So, trapped in a fallen spaceship in the middle of nowhere, on a planet with technology your people haven't used for centuries." He frowned. "I suppose Torchwood turned up relatively quickly?"

    "Relatively," Anleyta agreed. "I saw the full moon rise twice before agents from Torchwood arrived."

    Sarah Jane asked, "So why didn't you use their bodies — make them operate the ship, control them like you did to me?"

    "I did attempt to possess them; their minds were too conditioned," Anleyta admitted sullenly. "But they were more than adequate for the purposes of fuel."

    Sarah Jane remembered the burning smell from the ship's entrance; she felt sick. But there was one more thing she had to know.

    "Corina didn't fall through a magic door, did she," she said quietly.

    The Illyryan laughed; it was the giggle of a young girl, twisted with malice that Sarah Jane could see echoed behind her silvery gaze. "William and Nancy Trusler were fools," she spat. Suddenly the silver light receded, Corina's eyes becoming sparkling grey saucers. "Mummy and Daddy took me on holiday…" she sang gleefully. "…And Daddy killed Mummy and me." She gestured to the holes in the floor; Sarah Jane's gaze drifted to the bazooka on the wall opposite.

    "1966," the Doctor murmured, and Sarah Jane remembered the files on the Torchwood computer. "You drove Will Trusler insane."

    Anleyta shrugged; her eyes were once again silver. "I did not often receive two agents to play with. There has always been so little with which to entertain oneself…"

    She stared straight into Sarah Jane's eyes. "And his mind tasted so sweet…"

    Sarah Jane gasped and tore her gaze away — but not before Anleyta's cackling pierced her skull with its cruelty. The Doctor raised the sonic screwdriver to the Illyryan's face.

    "Stay out of her head," he warned in a low voice.

    "I'm fine." Sarah Jane shook off her fright and turned back to Anleyta. "You said you needed a body — why couldn't you use Corina's? You could have been out of here years ago."

    "The sensor pad requires an adult human hand — I am most grateful for your assistance," the Illyryan smirked.

    "Engine reboot complete. Engine rerouting in process."

    Sarah Jane jumped again — not only had she forgotten about the ship's program, but also its consequences. The Doctor, apparently, had not; he twisted a dial on the screwdriver, presumably changing the setting from merely ‘threatening' to ‘do-as-I-say-or-else'. Unfortunately, Anleyta seemed remarkably unimpressed by the ‘or-else'.

    "You cannot stop me, Doctor. I have had this plan in place for sixty-five of your Earth-years, and no human or Time Lord will prevent me from returning home."

    "We'll see about that," he replied grimly. "You can't go blowing up planets…"

    "Hark who's talking," Anleyta muttered viciously, but the Doctor carried on straight over her.

    "…just because you miss your boyfriend… hang on…" he trailed off.

    Slowly, Sarah Jane said, "But Illyrya doesn't exist in this universe."

    He shook his head. "You can't go back," he said softly to Anleyta. "You'll… you'll destroy everything."

    "An experience you are no doubt familiar with."

    "And therefore an experience I'll not endure again!" the Doctor shouted back. "It's not just the Earth this time —"

    Sarah Jane glanced at him, puzzled.

    "— it's literally everything." He pointed to the console. "These engines have enough power to punch a hole in the universe. Now, that's alright if you're just going a few centuries, couple of hundred light-years; but you're aiming this straight down like a bazooka. And I've played Worms enough to know what happens then.

    "The moment this spaceship tries to create a wormhole, the fabric of reality has a dangerously high possibility of getting ripped apart. It'll tear across the fault lines from before — break all the stitches from when I sowed the breach up yesterday.

    "The walls between realities will collapse," he said heavily at last. "This universe — and probably others — will fall into the Void."

    For a moment, no-one spoke. Anleyta had her head held high, an easy smile playing about her lips; the Doctor stood smouldering; and Sarah Jane was just shell-shocked, trying to get her head around his words. Then —

    "Engine rerouting complete. Launch in five minutes and counting."

    The Doctor aimed his screwdriver at the console, keeping his eyes on Anleyta. "Tell me what the password is."

    "Make me." She licked her lips — Corina's lips — and Sarah Jane had to look away.

    "Tell me," he repeated, "or I'll fry the warp circuits and the engines will overheat. This ship will blow sky-high."

    What? Sarah Jane thought in disbelief. He can't possibly…

    "Taking with it a generous chunk out of Eurasia," Anleyta said scornfully. "You may as well admit it, Doctor: there is only one way you can save this planet."

    "And what might that be?" he shot back.

    "I will give you the password." Both Sarah Jane and the Doctor started with surprise. "And you will assist me in the control of the warp engines," the Illyryan continued, "in order to refine the breach they will create."

    The Doctor shook his head angrily. "It doesn't work like that!" he shouted.

    Anleyta simply smiled.

    Confused, Sarah Jane looked back and forth between the two aliens: one with a more-than-mutinous look clouding his face, storms brewing behind his eyes; the other with a suspiciously pleasant expression on her stolen features. Sarah Jane could not help but stare at the poor, beautiful child.

    In the split second after she stared back, Sarah Jane knew something was wrong.

    Then, for the second time in as many hours, she gasped with pain as the Illyryan invaded her mind — but there was no subtle warning this time, no need for Anleyta to hide her true self: between the shining daggers of silver stabbing from the wrong side of her shut eyes, Sarah Jane could see a sort of spirit, the silhouette of a woman but with shimmering tendrils for legs… lots of them… coming her way… fast —

    It was agony like she had never felt before — her bones were on fire, her head was being pounded this way and that by something like a two year old set loose on a ball of play dough — and just before the tendrils enveloped her mind completely, so that she could sense nothing but the pain, Sarah Jane felt the Illyryan use her mouth.

    "I am sure you will find a way to make it work, Time Lord."

    ~tbc~

    A/N: Illyryra was inspired by the Illyria of Twelfth Night, and not by the Illyria in Angel which I found while researching. [
     
    #22 Arienne, Dec 31, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2014
  23. Chapter 9 — Torn Stitches of Wounds New and Old

    "NO!" Rage flooded the Doctor's head; he lunged forward, about to press his fingers to Sarah Jane's forehead and force Anleyta out — but she raised her hand and he was thrown back against the console in a flash of silver light. Seething, he glared at the woman standing before him, and said something that the TARDIS would most certainly not have translated for Sarah Jane — if she were even conscious.

    She laughed, stepping casually over Corina's body closer to the Doctor. The air crackled with energy — literally. "You want to watch your language," she said in Sarah Jane's most coquettish tone.

    He scowled. "The password," he said abruptly, moving aside to let Anleyta access the console. Stay calm, he told himself. This is just New Earth again. The stakes may be higher, but…

    "Launch in four minutes and counting."

    "There we are," Anleyta said. "Do as you please with the engines — but remember, I will still require a hole large enough for me to pass through."

    Reluctantly, the Doctor pocketed the sonic screwdriver and moved back to the control panel. Less than four minutes — there's no way I can get to the TARDIS and back in less than four minutes! There must be some other way of disabling the engines…

    He froze: Anleyta had pressed two hot, pulsing fingers to the back of his neck. "I suggest," he heard in his mind, "that you adhere to the plan."

    "How do I know you won't kill her anyway?" he retorted bitterly, turning to face her and wrenching her hand away from his neck; the mental connection faded, and he wiped his mind blank so that it would not return.

    She shrugged, examining her arms and chest. "You are hardly in any position to negotiate. I could find my way home without your assistance — it would merely take longer, and leave more universes crumbling in my wake." She smiled triumphantly. "Do as I ask and I may use the girl's body for the crossing."

    Keeping his face blank and his mind shielded, the Doctor turned back and started tapping keys on the panel — only half the buttons he pressed were strictly necessary, but there had to be a way…

    "How are you getting back then?" he asked casually. "Infinite number of universes out there, and you're looking to get straight to one of them without your," he grimaced at the word, "body dying or shrivelling up or getting eaten first?"

    "Getting eaten?" There was a trace of amusement in her voice — not exactly the effect I was hoping for, the Doctor thought as he yanked a lever upwards.

    "Yeah," he replied nonchalantly, "some pretty nasty stuff in the Void — and I haven't even mentioned the little war going on between the Cybermen and Daleks —"

    "Launch in three minutes and counting."

    "— nothing to worry about for such a powerful entity such as yourself, of course — but you haven't answered my question," he yelled over the loudspeakers.

    He heard Anleyta sniff indifferently. "I am of the Illyrya — my bond to my people is forever," she said grandly.

    Oh is it now, the Doctor muttered to himself in his head, just loudly enough for her to pick up. He felt her skim through his mind again, and quickly swept a few of his memories under the mental rug he kept for such occasions.

    "I will be drawn directly to my home dimension," she went on in a wary tone, "where I will be able to sense my people and return to them."

    "I see, I see," he said softly. He carried on flicking various buttons and switches on the panel — once twisting a dial purely for the odd quacking sound it made — for he only needed a little more time to fine-tune his plan…

    "Launch in two minutes and counting."

    "Take your time, Doctor," Anleyta murmured in his ear. "Dear Sarah Jane's screams are getting so faint, now…"

    He entered the final settings and angrily slammed a large red button. The console beeped in protest, but it was done. Only one thing left to do…

    "That's the best I can do," he muttered. "Now give her back to me!"

    She sidled up to him, grinning seductively. "You know what it is like, to reside in a body a hundred times younger than you — perhaps you would even know what it is like to feel trapped, but I know little of Time Lord regeneration." She gazed at Corina's lifeless body. "We of Illyrya must harvest our bodies from neighbouring planets — they are always children, so as to meet the least resistance. But they stay children for the same reason — we cannot allow them to age."

    Sickened, the Doctor stayed silent as Anleyta turned back to him. "Do you see? An adult body — this body — would grant me freedom like no other Illyryan: a novelty on my planet!"

    "One minute and counting."

    Suddenly, he smiled at her — a fake, a thin mask over his hatred, but a smile nonetheless. "You're right! It would," he agreed cheerily. "Quite right too. Kids, meh, far too easy! Anyone could take over a child's mind, kill it before it'd even lived, draw power out of its helpless screams… But a grown woman — you'd be admired, worshipped even! Only…" He paused, feigning uncertainty.

    "Only what?" Her voice was shrill, nothing like Sarah Jane's.

    "Well… Would you like to know what happened to your planet?" he asked pleasantly. "What happened, ooh, about a nanosecond after you ran away?"

    "I was ordered to escape," she said stiffly.

    "But would you like to know? They'd be well impressed if they didn't even have to fill you in on old news." The Doctor stepped right in front of her, staring down into her silver eyes, inviting her in. "Would you like me," he whispered as he brought his hands to her temples, "to show you?"

    Precious seconds passed.

    "— ten —"

    Finally, she nodded, chin set; only her eyes betrayed her fear.

    "— nine —"

    And the Doctor showed her.

    ***​

    "— eight —"

    He did not press his memories into hers — that would be too unkind, not to mention selfish. So he let her into his mind, guiding her to the creaking floorboard under the rug, pulling the dusty fabric away with a flourish.

    "— seven —"

    He waited, letting the details sink in. A history of ten millennia and more, spent in a moment.

    "— six —"

    Her sob became a silent scream, the anguish behind it echoing inside their heads.

    "— five —"

    "They had to," he said simply, by way of explanation.

    "— four —"

    "You lie," she hissed through the howling of her thoughts. But they both knew the pictures and sounds and emotions were too perfect, too awful to fake.

    "— three —"

    The last of the silver ashes fell into oblivion around them. Still they stood, joined in the no-man's-land between their minds, both shaking from her grief.

    And for once, just for once, he allowed himself to feel his own.

    Katarina. Adric. Gallifrey. Jack. Reinette. Rose.

    Oh, Rose.

    Somehow it strengthened him as it weakened her. The Illyryan was already broken, rage trapped by anguish.

    Vulnerable.


    "— two —"

    He struck her, propelling her shocked spirit from Sarah Jane's body into Corina's.

    ***​

    "— one —"

    "I'm not sorry," he whispered.

    "Engines online."

    It was at this moment that the Doctor realised that some of the readings he had seen in the first control room were not as faked as he had hoped.

    A single grey line drew itself onto one of the doors. He saw it widen in slow-motion as the pure white light of the Void spilled into the room; then Corina's limp body, rising from the floor, gathering speed — her eyes shining desperate silver as she flew past him, head-first —

    Then she was gone.

    And the Doctor's own eyes widened as he felt himself being pulled in after her.

    Frantically, he tried to throw his arms backwards, reaching for something — anything — to hold on to; but his limbs were far too slow and the crack was getting brighter… nearer…

    Oh, boll—
    ~tbc~
     
    #23 Arienne, Jan 3, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2014
  24. A/N: Next update won't be for a long time due to exams and the like. Enjoy for now :)

    Chapter 10 — Release

    [size=8pt]Whether it's a world, or a relationship... everything has its time. And everything ends.[/size]
    [size=8pt]Sarah Jane Smith, School Reunion[/size]​

    To his utter, impossible relief, the Doctor felt a hand clamp onto his forearm. He strained his neck to turn his head and saw Sarah Jane, her other hand wrapped in a tangle of wires, fierce determination etched onto her face.

    Well, just fierce… fierce, really.

    "What the hell did you do?!" she yelled furiously.

    "Changed the program," he shouted back. "Cancelled the launch; made a tiny, tiny cut —"

    "But now the whole bloody universe is going to fall in!"

    The Doctor had a fleeting urge to giggle.

    "We've got two minutes before it collapses," he yelled cheerfully.

    "The world might have two minutes — we don't have twenty seconds!"

    She was right — the wiring from the console was stretched almost to breaking point, and Sarah Jane's hand was slipping further down his wrist…

    "Let go."

    "WHAT?!"

    "Let go of me," he repeated, louder over the Howling, "and get to the TARDIS."

    Sarah Jane was looking at him as if he'd swallowed a frog.

    "K9 will know what to do," he carried on shouting, his voice barely audible to even himself, "so go, GO!"

    His feet were slipping now, his Converses slowly wearing down; he gazed sadly at Sarah Jane, a voice at the back of his head saying thank the gods you're the last person I'll ever see, even as another, growing steadily stronger, reminded him that he might survive — Rose could be waiting…

    Sarah Jane's eyes were wide with alarm; her face was crumpled, whether with shock or the effort of hanging on, the Doctor did not know; and she was saying something — screaming it — but her words were drowned by the Void. He squinted and caught her mouthing, "…TARDIS…"

    "Yes, the TARDIS, she'll take you home, so go, don't worry about me — what're you doing?"

    She was putting more pressure on the already taut wires, trying to somehow pull the Doctor over — but what good'll that do? he thought bemusedly. It'll still suck me in, and I'll end up dragging her with me if she doesn't let go…

    He opened his mouth to protest — and then the wires snapped.

    Goodbye, my Sarah Jane.

    He felt a hurtling sensation — a flash of colour — a crack, and pain — then darkness.

    ~tbc~
     
    #24 Arienne, Jan 7, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2014
  25. Chapter 11 — Home

    [size=8pt]I've got a much bigger adventure ahead! Time I stopped waiting for you and found a life of my own.[/size]
    [size=8pt]Sarah Jane Smith, School Reunion[/size]​

    Sarah Jane poured a cup of tea in the kitchen with her right hand — the other had suffered burns from the wiring, before getting trapped in the front doors of the TARDIS. All in all, not one of my better days, she thought as she gently set down the teapot.

    "Mistress?" K9 trundled in. "Please come to the medical bay."

    She followed her dog down the corridor, bringing the tea with her. K9 led her into a small room, white-walled with a faint smell of lemony disinfectant. She sat and let him talk through instructions for the various pieces of medical equipment — anything to take her mind off…

    There was an extra loud hum from the TARDIS walls; K9's voice broke off, his ears twisting. "I am required in the console room," he told Sarah Jane, who nodded and patted him on the head before he trundled off. She set about trying to use the odd contraptions to heal her hand, but only succeeded in accidentally mending a broken nail. If only…

    "The Doctor is in!"

    Sarah Jane heaved a sigh of relief at his voice and went through a door to another room — this one more akin to the console room, with its alien décor and ancient, living walls. The Doctor was lying on a bed in the middle; he hadn't changed out of his suit, although he had discarded his coat, jacket, tie and now rather tatty plimsolls. His clothes were strewn across another bed, next to a pair of neatly TARDIS-folded stripy pyjamas and a blue dressing gown — Sarah Jane briefly wondered why he hadn't put them on, before sitting on his bed.

    "I brought you some tea," she said, placing it next to a bowl of bananas on his bedside table.

    "Tea and bananas. Fantastic!" he replied with a grin, taking her left hand — she winced, and he raised an eyebrow. "Screwdriver's in my jacket, left inner pocket."

    "I'm so glad you're alright," she said after she gave it to him. "There was so much blood…"

    He shrugged it off. "Should probably think about putting cushions or something around that room — cushions! Now I know I've gone domestic." They both laughed; Sarah Jane felt the ache in her hand receding. "How about balloons?" he went on. "A few anti-helium balloons here and there, brighten the mood — although they'd clash terribly…"

    "You could put airbags on the console," she said dryly.

    "Airbags! Genius!" he exclaimed, while Sarah Jane rolled her eyes. "Seriously, though — why stop at the console? Could have them everywhere — the inflate-upon-impact ones, right? It'd be like a giant bouncy castle! Bouncing and hopping and…"

    His face fell, and Sarah Jane thought she saw his gaze flick across to the pyjamas and back again.

    "K9's in the console room," she said suddenly. "How did he know where we were in the first place?"

    "He was connected to the TARDIS, and she's connected to me," the Doctor replied simply. "I told you he'd know what to do about the breach; I must say I didn't expect he'd ask the TARDIS to materialise right next to it, though. Very dramatic — must be those new circuits I put in."

    She smiled warmly — but she wasn't going to let him change the subject so easily. "So was that why you opened the breach? Because you'd be able to close it with the TARDIS?"

    The Doctor stayed silent for a few moments; Sarah Jane wondered if she'd somehow pushed too far; then he sat up, fixing his gaze on one of the swirls on his duvet, and she knew she was finally going to hear the full story.

    "I told you about Gallifrey." She nodded. "My planet and my people were wiped out in the Time War. You may have picked up from Anleyta's ranting that I was the one who pressed the button."

    His voice was so flat, his face so blank, that Sarah Jane couldn't help but reach out for his hand. He accepted it submissively and carried on.

    "It was the Last Time War — obviously there were other casualties. Lots of them. The Eternals fled this plane of reality because of it. Remember when we went to Skaro?"

    "Yes — why?"

    "That's when it all started: the Daleks against the Time Lords," he explained heavily. "Anyway, the Time Lords decided that they had to do the same to Illyrya as we tried to do to Skaro."

    "Destroy it?"

    "Only this time they succeeded." He sighed, running a hand through his hair and grimacing when he touched the spot where he'd crashed into the TARDIS console. "The Illyryans were wiped out before they'd even existed."

    Sarah Jane started to nod — but then thought of something. "That's why you were so surprised at Anleyta — why wasn't she wiped out as well?"

    The Doctor shook his head. "The only reason I can think of, is that she must have crossed the Void at exactly the same moment we —" he swallowed, "— deleted her home world."

    "She was the only survivor," Sarah Jane said softly.

    "Just like me," he acknowledged. "So I opened the Void, knowing that she'd be pulled into it, following her home planet into oblivion — mostly because she was watching my thoughts, so she'd know if I tried anything wildly against her plans… and then because it was easier. For her. Easier to not have to choose whether or not to be the last one standing. Easier to let someone else choose for you."

    He closed his eyes; Sarah Jane squeezed his hand gently. She couldn't imagine what it must be like for the Doctor to have every decision in his hands, every balance of life and death swaying on his fingertips, with every choice coming back to haunt him.

    "She would have destroyed so many other universes if you hadn't stopped her," she reminded him. He nodded sadly back in silence. Sarah Jane searched his eyes carefully: somehow she knew there was something else.

    "What was the other reason?" she asked abruptly.

    The Doctor jerked his head up, confused. "What other reason?" he countered.

    She shrugged nonchalantly. "Three's a good number. There's always three reasons."

    He smiled wanly. "Yes, I suppose that's true." Sarah Jane waited patiently as he took her hand in both of his, apparently steadying himself.

    "At the end — after Anleyta went through — I thought I might be able to see Rose again," he admitted quietly. "That was the whole point of this little expedition, wasn't it? That's why you came; and after all the mind-squashing you went through, well…"

    But Sarah Jane wasn't listening: her mind was whirring, concentrating on one tiny possibility, one crazy idea…

    "You're going to see her again," she said firmly.

    The Doctor gave a short laugh. "The crack's closed now —"

    "And we're in a time machine!" She stood up, glaring at his bemused face. "You had the breach open and under control for over two minutes!"

    "I can't go back in time, there'd be paradoxes everywhere… although…" His face was lighting up, colour back in his cheeks. "If I went horizontally in space — but how to power it then? Come on, come on, come on…" He ruffled his hair frantically, his legs tucked up to his chest as if he was about to spring off the bed — which he promptly did.

    "YES! Supernova!" he exclaimed as he bounded off and landed next to her. "Sarah Jane Smith," he declared, "have I ever told you how amazing you are?"

    She smirked back. "You never needed to — oof!" The Doctor planted a kiss on her forehead and stepped back, grinning like anything.

    "You gonna come burn a star with me?" He was almost shaking with excitement, his eyes sparkling with anticipation.

    But Sarah Jane just smiled and shook her head. "It's time I went home."

    ***​

    They were standing just inside her flat (the Doctor had quite astonishingly managed to land the TARDIS in her bathroom); he'd mended the broken window while apologising profusely for accidentally stealing a jar of peanut butter ("It just rolled into my pocket, I swear!"), all the awkward pleasantries had passed and there was only one more thing Sarah Jane needed to say.

    "Promise me," she whispered against the dusk, "promise me you'll tell her."

    He gazed into her face; saw the quiet pleading in her eyes, as she glimpsed the ache behind his.

    "I'll try."

    She nodded, smiling — it was good enough. Chances were, Rose already knew — but trying wouldn't hurt.

    "I suppose it's goodbye then, Doctor," she said — and to her surprise, it didn't hurt at all.

    He grinned back. "Oh, you'll see me again," he replied, with more than a hint of mischief.

    "I will?" Of course, she hadn't been expecting another goodbye from him, but…

    He nodded gravely; then wrapped his arms around her tightly. She breathed in his scent, fixed the feeling of her cheek against the fabric of his suit in her mind; then let it all go.

    Moments later, Sarah Jane smiled as the TARDIS faded from the room.

    ***​

    The Doctor strode around the console, his hearts beating faster and faster with each step.

    He finished setting the TARDIS in orbit, flicked the final switch and took a deep breath. Here goes.

    "Rose…"

    ~tbc~
     
    #25 Arienne, Jan 19, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2014
  26. A/N: The last chapter then. Thanks for reading, guys :D
    As ever, all but the plot belongs to the BBC.

    Epilogue - 2012

    Another summer, another sunny day, and another atmosphere thick with excitement — for very different reasons to five years ago, Sarah Jane thought to herself as she strolled out of the Sunday Times's offices. Her boss had just assigned her one of the best stories going: to cover the opening night of the Olympic Games from the stadium next week. It wasn't normally her kind of article, but a chance like this didn't come often, and the pay-packet attached was hardly unattractive.

    She decided to use her lunch-break wandering the planned path of the torchbearer. It went through all the prettiest parts of London, all trees and blooming flowers and colourful houses, with the ever present smell of fresh tarmac. It was quiet today, although sometimes Sarah Jane thought she could hear a strange tune in the wind, floating above the council workmen's whistling and the chatter of the old women she passed.

    She turned the corner and saw the other reason for her walk: a monument in stone, about five metres high, in the middle of a freshly mowed lawn bordered by rose hedges. She made her way towards it and gazed, for perhaps the hundredth time, at the brass plaque at the bottom: In memory of the brave men and women of Torchwood who gave their lives for Queen and Country. Rest in Peace.

    Sarah Jane smiled as she remembered the day Atif had finally published his article: Torchwood had been on everyone's lips for months, all its dealings exposed; the Prime Minister, Harriet Jones, had been forced to step down; and Atif himself became a minor celebrity, broadsheet editors and scantily clad girls alike hanging onto his every word. He was a freelancer now, just as Sarah Jane used to be; but he still popped in to see her every week without fail, and some days — like today — he would stay.

    She walked round the memorial, scanning through the engraved names out of habit before crouching down and running her fingers across two words at the bottom, carved into the stone with a different hand, more elegant and intimate than the others: Rose Tyler.

    Sarah Jane frowned as she spotted an odd, circular symbol etched next to Rose's name — it certainly hadn't been there two weeks ago. Puzzled, she took a photo of it with the digital camera Atif had given her (and taught her to use) last Christmas, before rushing back to her office.

    Back at her desk, she plugged it into the computer and waited for the picture to download. Then she noticed the blue envelope next to the keyboard. She picked it up; a strange tingle went down her arm as she opened it.

    There was a small note inside. It read: Friday 27th July 2012 — Olympics opening ceremony, always overrated! P.S. Torchbearer crowd's not bad, though.

    Just as Sarah Jane was getting over her initial shock, Atif burst in with a rather annoyed expression on his face. "Atif, did you see who left this?" she asked, waving the envelope at him.

    He shrugged. "Tall, brown hair — I think he said his name was John Smith. Anyway — have you seen my bag of Jelly Babies?"

    She stifled a giggle and shook her head. Raising an eyebrow at her grin, Atif leaned closer. "Nice photo," he said, nodding at the computer screen.

    "Thanks." She tilted her head, pondering. "What do you reckon it is?"

    "Looks like a rose to me," Emma said as she passed by.

    "Nah, it's definitely a wolf — from this angle," Atif said, twisting his neck and squinting.

    Then it hit her, and her grin spread even wider.

    "No," said Sarah Jane. "I think it's a question mark."

    As the song on the wind drifted into silence, a tall man with brown hair popped a Jelly Baby into his mouth and stepped into the sunshine.

    fin
     
    #26 Arienne, Jan 28, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2014
  27. Prof. Cinders

    Prof. Cinders Mathemagician
    Staff Member Administrator

    *hugs you and refuses to let go* My brain says stop squeeing, but I can't ^^" If you don't write more stories (in what little spare time you have, of course) I shall glare daggers at you, because you could be a pro. ^^

    *grabs the jelly babies and hides*
     
  28. :o THE. MOST. GREATEST DOCTOR WHO FAN FIC EVAR!!!
     
  29. Sem

    Sem The Last of the Snowmen
    Former Administrator

    Dear gods, we REALLY have to stop letting people bring shovels in. Charms' dead need to be left in peace kthx. Warned for grave digging, and locking this. If for some reason the creator wants it reopened then they can contact me or any other authority.

    Check the dates before posting in a topic, and read the rules as well.
     
  30. So It looks like theres a sequel?
     
  31. Sem

    Sem The Last of the Snowmen
    Former Administrator

    ... No. I'm locking this now. Arienne wants it reopened then she may PM me or some other authority. Again, check dates before posting.
     
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