Chapter 1: Part One
The Doctor groaned, and opened his eyes.
The TARDIS was dark. Too dark. He could barely see three feet in front of him. She was in a very bad way. His head was agonising – he'd smashed it against something, that much was obvious. Wincing at the pain he rolled onto his side, pushing himself up to look around the darkened interior. He could see vague outlines of bodies lying on the floor, but heard no movement. What had they been doing? They'd just put the Earth back in place... then the TARDIS had gone haywire, he hadn't been able to get her under control and they'd... crashed. Very, very badly, by the looks of things.
He reached out for the nearest foot, giving it a shove. It was Rose's shoe. "Rose?" he asked through the darkness.
"Ow," she moaned, and the Doctor breathed a sigh of relief.
"Are you okay?" he asked, pushing himself to his feet with the aid of the console before stooping to her side.
"Yeah," she replied, sitting up with his help before pausing and staring at him, frowning. "Your head..."
He reached up to the side of his head where pain was emanating from, and was a bit surprised to find blood on his palm. No matter. "Don't worry, superficial," he said quickly to her. "Check everyone's okay."
She nodded as he moved off, scrambling to find Sarah Jane lying closest to where he was. "Sarah, wake up," he said, giving her a shake. With a moan she blinked open her eyes, looking at him in puzzlement. "What happened?" she asked.
"Massive crash, I don't know what caused it," he explained, helping her to sit up. "Are you all right? Nothing broken?"
She quickly checked herself over before nodding. "I'm fine."
"Good, check everyone's okay," he said, pulling her onto her feet.
"Doctor," Rose suddenly called from the other side of the console and he moved as quickly as he could to the other side, holding his head and using the console for support. He came upon Rose knelt next to his metacrisis lying on the floor unconscious, but it quickly became apparent his arm was broken. The Doctor winced just as Martha appeared next to him, having come around.
"Human bones," he muttered. "No integrity." He took the medical kit from the console and gave it to Martha. "Make it temporary until we can get him to the infirmary."
She nodded, and began to work as the Doctor pulled himself up again. Jack was up now, and Jackie. Mickey was awake, but crying out in pain and holding his leg. The Doctor quickly moved over to him and checked the damage. Another broken bone, open by the the looks of it, there was blood slicking down his trousers. "Medical on Mickey, please!" he yelled, and turned to regard the crowd of faces looking at him. All that remained was Donna, still lying on the floor with Sarah Jane knelt next to her. He moved over, the others clearing a space as he dropped to his knees beside her.
"Donna?" he asked, shaking her slightly. She wasn't going to come around. He checked her head and was horrified to find a building patch of blood on the back on her head, dripping down into the TARDIS conduits. "Medical on Donna!"
Suddenly the TARDIS lights came up, albeit a bit dim. He turned to the console to check the monitor – it was crackling and fizzing. "Emergency power," he explained to the waiting crowd.
"What made us crash?" Rose asked, moving forward to stand beside him.
"No idea," he admitted. "But we're in low power. The oxygen's been rerouted to the console room with no recyc and everything else is locked off. Even with that we have about twenty minutes of breathing, as long as we keep calm. That means no infirmary."
"Doctor," Martha said, and looked over to find her still tending to his metacrisis. "He's broken two ribs and they've punctured thoracic membrane. High risk that one or both could puncture his lung. There's already fluid building up around his lungs. It could be blood. He needs proper medical care now."
The Doctor nodded, moving over to kneel beside her. "Check Mickey and Donna," he said to Martha. She nodded and quickly scuttled off as Jack dropped to the other side of the metacrisis. The Doctor was checking his breathing and heart rate, feeling his chest. "Oh this isn't good," he said, bringing out his stethoscope and holding it to his duplicate's chest. "Jack, door side is a compartment in the wall, there's a button next to the door. Some stretchers should be in there. We need to get him off this floor."
Jack nodded and leapt to his feet. Just as the metacrisis opened his eyes, and gasped in pain, making to sit up...
"No!" the Doctor yelled quickly, pressing down on his shoulder. "Don't move. Not an inch."
"It hurts," the metacrisis gasped, suddenly tears running down the sides of his face. "Oh God, this is horrible."
"I know," the Doctor said quickly. "Just stay still. We're sorting it."
"Got it," Jack suddenly said, placing a stretcher down next to the metacrisis. The Doctor looked up at the crowd standing around, beckoning them over.
"Everyone that's got a hand to lend, get over here," he said, and very quickly became crowded. "We need to lift him on but keep his entire body aligned..." He showed all the helpers where to support the metacrisis' body during the transfer. They took position, and braced themselves. "Right, 3, 2, 1... lift."
Everyone lifted the duplicate's body at the same time, but it didn't stop him crying out in pain. Jack slipped the stretcher underneath and they placed him down as carefully as they could, the Doctor checking his breathing again.
"Okay, we made it," the Doctor breathed. "Don't move," he told the metacrisis as he got to his feet, still swaying slightly with the side of his head covered in his own blood.
"Doctor," Martha said again, and he stumbled over to her kneeling next to Donna. "She's hit her head very badly. This is beyond concussion."
The Doctor winced, pulling off his jacket and folding it up, placing it under Donna's bandaged head. "How's Mickey?"
"Open double fracture," Martha replied as the Doctor moved over to Mickey to check on him. "It's bleeding badly, doesn't seem to want to stop."
The Doctor sighed, helping Mickey to elevate his leg and press on artery with an absorbent pad.
"We need to find a hospital," he said, punching up a view of the exterior. Nothing but black showed on the monitor. Rose was already running to the door to check outside...
She pulled it open.
It was nothing.
"Oh no," the Doctor breathed.
"What is it?" Sarah asked. "Where are we?"
"The void..." the Doctor muttered. "We're stuck in the void..." Suddenly everything came crashing home, not only to him, but to Jackie, Rose, Jack, and a half-conscious Mickey as well. This was only bad news. Because with now fifteen minutes of oxygen, a lack of heating, no power and no breathable planet or any form of civilisation outside suddenly the TARDIS had turned from their haven into their soon-to-be airless and freezing cold tomb...
They all turned to look at the Doctor expectantly. If anyone could find a way out, it was him.
But he was completely white.
Chapter 2: Part Two
"There has to be a way out?" Sarah asked anxiously. "A way back to Earth?"
The Doctor didn't reply for a moment. He simply looked down at the TARDIS controls, and jabbed a few buttons. They were just clicking redundantly. Suddenly he smashed his fist on the console, taking everyone by surprise before he leant forward, staring at the useless controls in front of him.
No one spoke, or even dared to move.
"She's out of power..." the Doctor whispered. "Why didn't I see this coming?" he yelled, suddenly angry with himself. "All that power to move the planet, even with the rift energy... It was too much!"
Jack quickly moved to his side, resting a reassuring hand on his shoulder. "Don't shout. We'll lose the air quicker."
"And?" the Doctor yelled.
"Doctor, breathe," Jack said quickly. "Calm down, and think clearly. There has to be a way out. There must be some reserves..."
The Doctor made as if to yell again, but stopped himself just in time. "I..." he paused, frowning. "I need to think."
"Well you've got ten minutes," Jack replied, staring at the blood smeared down the right side of the Doctor's face. "And someone please clean him up, he's covered in blood."
Rose nodded, assuming authority as she took some antiseptic wipes and bandages out of the medical bag, taking the Doctor's arm and pulling him to sit down on the grating. Sarah joined them, helping to dab away the blood caked down the side of his face as he stared sightlessly at the floor in front of him.
"Martha..." suddenly gasped the metacrisis, reaching out with his eyes closed. She moved over to him, alarmed to find his lips were blue...
"Oh God," Martha breathed, grabbing the stethoscope and checking his chest, observing for all the signs and symptoms. He coughed beneath her, his brow furrowing as he breathed rapidly. "Pneumothorax."
"Help," he whispered.
Martha quickly reached into the medical bag and drew out a scalpel and a tube. She paused for a moment.
"I need to get rid of the excess air in your chest," Martha said slowly and clearly to the gasping man beneath her. "There's no anaesthetic in the bag..."
Jackie gasped, hand over her mouth, but knew she would have to help. She moved over and knelt down next to the metacrisis, hearing his desperate gasps for air very clearly in the otherwise silent atmosphere of the console room.
"Anything," the metacrisis gasped.
"Jack, Jackie, hold him down," Martha said, cutting off the metacrisis' shirt and pulling out the stethoscope again, confirming the location of the pneumo before taking his left arm and lifting it over his head. She took a breath, and lowered the scalpel...
Sarah and Rose could hear the screaming loud and clear, but they chose to ignore it. Even though it wasn't the Doctor, it was his voice, screaming in pain, and it shook Rose and Sarah to the core. The man himself was sitting completely still, crossed-legged and staring at the floor as they continued to wipe the blood from the side of his face. His hair was completely matted with it, the side of his shirt collar covered in red.
After what seemed like forever, the metacrisis stopped screaming, resuming his pants for air. The chest tube was placed but he was still completely blue. Martha took out an oxygen mask attached to a bag and placed it over his nose and mouth, the bag rapidly growing and shrinking with every strained breath, and continued even when he finally passed out.
"The lung's punctured, he's not going to survive much longer..." Martha muttered, looking up at Jack and Jackie for a moment, before jumping up and running to check on Mickey and Donna.
"Doctor," Jack approached the Time Lord still sitting cross-legged across the room, a bandage wrapped and pinned around his head by Rose. He hadn't intentionally moved for four minutes. "We've got six minutes."
The Doctor seemed to ignore him, absorbed in his own thoughts. Jack didn't try again, and the entire room sank into complete silence.
Two minutes later Martha finished her examination and moved to stand beside Jack. "I think Donna's bleeding in the brain, she might have a haemorrhagic stroke at any minute," Martha murmured, her voice slightly low. "Mickey's lost a lot of blood, I can't stop it bleeding. He's going into stage four of hypovolemic shock. He needs a transfusion right now."
"Doctor," Jack said urgently. "Four minutes. We need an answer!"
The Doctor suddenly looked up, but his expression was completely unreadable.
"I don't..." he began, his voice breaking. He took a shaky breath. "There is an option."
"What?" Jack yelled. "Why didn't you say?" He quickly realised he was yelling and forced himself to calm down. "Okay, never mind. What do we do?"
"There's an emergency backup power source for transmat..." the Doctor said quietly, looking back down at the floor again. "In case of an event like this it can transport people out of the TARDIS and lock on to the nearest planet with a breathable atmosphere."
Everyone stared at him in shock. "Let's do it then!" Rose jumped to her feet... but the Doctor wasn't celebrating.
"One problem," he muttered.
"It only has enough power to transmat seven people."
There was a small moment as everyone stopped to count how many people were standing in the room. The Doctor, the metacrisis, Jack, Donna, Mickey, Martha, Rose, Sarah, Jackie... Nine. Nine people. Two of them would have to stay behind...
"I'm staying," the Doctor said quietly, still staring at the floor. "The TARDIS is going to die. I'm going to die with her."
Jack, Jackie, Martha, Sarah and Rose all looked between each other in absolute horror. One of them would have to die. Suddenly Rose stepped forward, nodding as if to confirm the decision from the debate inside her head.
"Me. I'll stay."
Jackie gaped at her. "You'll die!" she shrieked. "I should stay, I'm not important..."
"I'm the oldest, I should stay," Sarah said loudly, her voice wavering. "You all have full lives to lead..."
"I should be the one!" Jack interrupted, angry. "I'm immortal..."
"So you'll be trapped here with the Doctor's dead body for all eternity, repeatedly coming to life and suffocating again and again? You have a team in Cardiff, Jack! They need you!" Rose yelled over all of them. "And Martha, you've got Tom. Sarah, you've got your son. The metacrisis, Donna and Mickey all need urgent medical care and Mum," she turned finally to the woman fuming across the room. "You can get back to Dad and Tony before Jack seals up the gap. Me? This is all I ever had. I said before I'd never leave him. If the Doctor's dyin', then I'm not lettin' him die alone."
There was utter silence. The Doctor was completely motionless, sitting in the corner with his head bowed, hearing every word.
"Doctor?" Rose asked, turning to the Time Lord. Everyone looked at him.
"Two minutes," was all he said.
"Start transmatting," Rose said instantly, taking control. "Jack and Martha, you go with the metacrisis, Sarah take Donna, and Mum, take Mickey." There was a momentary pause of silence as everyone stared at the Doctor. He didn't move. "Doctor," Rose said.
He finally moved, getting to his feet. Completely automatically he crossed to the console and began to hammer a few buttons.
"Jack, Martha, take the metacrisis and stand there," he pointed to an area just up the ramp. Jack and Martha got hold of the stretcher the metacrisis was strapped to and moved over to the designated area, but not before Jack had moved over to the Doctor and Rose and kissed them both without a word. Martha hugged them in turn as well, tears running down her cheeks.
"Commencing transmat in three... two... one..."
The three were suddenly encased in bright blue light, but only for a second, as the blue disappeared and took them with it. The Doctor didn't make any comment, merely gestured for the next group to stand in the same position. Sarah kissed the Doctor and hugged Rose silently before disappearing in the blue light, crying silently. Not even when Jackie said good bye were any words exchanged, only displays of affection. The last of them transmatted out, and left the Doctor and Rose standing in the middle of the console room staring at the empty space.
The Doctor sighed and backed away from the console, checking the oxygen. "Only the two of us now. Extended to three minutes."
"At least they're safe," Rose said. He nodded. There was a long pause.
"You shouldn't be here," the Doctor muttered.
"I chose this," she said simply.
"But you shouldn't be here," he repeated, staring at the floor. "This is my fault."
"No it's not," Rose said instantly. "There was only enough power for seven and everyone else had a reason to get out."
For the first time he raised his head and looked at her, confused. "... And you didn't?"
Rose stared at him, but didn't say anything.
"But your Mother..." he began, still confused.
Rose swallowed. "She was the only thing I had in that parallel world. Pete never lets me call him Dad. Tony even calls himself my half-brother. I didn't belong there. I love Mum, but there was only one reason for everythin'. You."
The Doctor stared at her with an underlying sense of guilt. "I didn't know."
"No harm done."
"But I was going to take you back there."
"To the parallel world. With the metacrisis."
Rose took this in. She considered getting angry. But there was no point. It would just waste air.
"Don't worry," she said, waving a hand. "It's not like it matters now."
The Doctor's eyes darkened. "No," he muttered.
Rose took his hand and squeezed it. "How long?"
She pulled him down to sit against the console, curling into him in a tight hug. He obliged, resting his chin on her head. Even though the room was freezing, she felt warm cuddling him. Like all those times before.
"Why aren't you scared?" he wondered.
"I'm terrified," Rose admitted.
He allowed himself a small smile. Even after years apart, she was still just as he remembered her. Beautiful, intelligent and especially brave, even in the worst of situations.
"Are you?" she suddenly asked.
He swallowed. "Yeah," he said quietly. "Never thought it'd end like this."
Rose laughed. "Me either. I thought I'd die gettin' trampled by an outer-space monster."
"I envisioned a piano falling on my head," the Doctor said thoughtfully.
Rose giggled. "You're insane."
"What's wrong with going out on a song?" the Doctor replied, laughing.
"God, I've missed you," Rose whispered. "I never stopped hopin', but... there were times I thought I'd never see you again."
"Bet you wish you didn't now," the Doctor said, grinning.
Rose laughed again. "Never." There was another pause as they both enjoyed each other's warm embrace in the utter silence of the TARDIS. "How long?" she asked.
"Less than a minute," he muttered.
She held him tighter. He responded in kind.
"I could never find the words," the Doctor said quietly after a moment's silence.
"To say to you," he clarified. "I don't know how."
She looked up at him, finding his deep brown eyes staring into her's – they were shining with tears. She instinctively leant forward and pressed a kiss to his cheek.
"It's okay," she whispered, her breathing fast and shallow. She was turning blue. "I already know."
A single tear ran down his cheek as he watched the woman he loved asphyxiate in his arms. He was beginning to pant too, now. He could've turned on his respiratory bypass. But he didn't bother. There was no point.
Her breathing was shallow now, her eyes running with tears as they gazed at each other, unable to speak through oxygen deprivation. With his final energy he leant forward and pressed his dry blue lips to her's, his arms slipping from the embrace...
Then Rose's eyes closed, and his quickly followed, their lips still touching in the darkness of the TARDIS.
Chapter 3: Part Three
The Doctor opened his eyes and instantly met Jack's grinning face staring down at him. So, the afterlife consisted of Jack? He blinked a few times, not quite sure what was going on until he realised he was in the TARDIS infirmary. What...
"Am I dead?" he croaked, his words slurred.
Jack laughed. "Not yet."
The Doctor reached up to check his face. Oxygen mask, sideburns, messy hair, the same bad skin... He hadn't regenerated.
"What..." he asked tiredly, struggling to make sense of this through an oxygen-deprived brain. Suddenly his own reflection appeared in front of him, his own face grinning down at him like a loon.
"I am so good!" his reflection said, punching the air.
"What happened?" the Doctor asked, but even as he asked it all came rushing back. The crash, the oxygen, the transmat, Rose... "Rose!" he suddenly said, making to sit up but his head was spinning. Jack quickly pushed him back down again.
"She's fine, she's awake, she'll be gutted she missed you waking up," Jack replied, laughing.
Suddenly there was a stampede of footsteps from outside the door and Rose, Martha, Mickey, Donna, Jackie and Sarah flooded in. They all caught sight of him and beamed from ear-to-ear, moving to crowd the bed. Mickey was on crutches, Donna's head was bandaged and the metacrisis' arm was in a sling, the damage to his chest hidden by his shirt.
"How did you...?" he wanted to finish the sentence, but he forgot what he was talking about halfway through. He frowned and tried to remember the end of the sentence, but had already forgotten what he was supposed to be remembering... Wait, what was he thinking about, again? He looked down at his feet for inspiration, and they were nearly sticking out the bottom of the bed. "... I'm tall," he said instead.
"Yeah, he'll be disorientated for a couple of hours, like Rose was," the metacrisis admitted, looking a bit guilty. "But it'll be entertaining."
"I can ride a unicycle."
"Yeah, like that," the metacrisis said as everyone laughed.
"Doctor, you hungry?" Jack asked.
"Yeah, I've been there," the Doctor replied, his brow furrowed. "I fell in a puddle."
Everyone snorted with laughter again. "I meant food," Jack clarified. "You need to eat?"
"Why would I eat a puddle?" the Doctor asked, obviously very confused.
Jack rolled his eyes. Rose moved forward to sit beside the Time Lord, taking his hand.
"That was so close," she said.
"How're we alive?" he asked. "You stopped breathing... I stopped breathing..."
Sarah stepped forward. "The transmat dropped us in Cardiff at the rift," she explained. "Me, Jackie and Martha took the others to the hospital whilst Jack checked Torchwood. By the time I got back Jack was yelling that he was getting traces of a distress signal from the TARDIS, and that he could use the rift like we did a few hours ago to tow the TARDIS to Earth..."
Martha continued the story. "The TARDIS landed at the rift and automatically refuelled. We didn't know how long it had been for you, because when we found you two you weren't breathing. We had to do CPR on you both and get you to the Infirmary. You both started breathing again but we thought you might've had brain damage because you didn't wake up for a week..."
"Then I did a runner from hospital," the metacrisis jumped in quickly, still grinning. "Came back here, worked some magic and now you're both awake. With no brain damage, I might add."
"And everyone's okay?" the Doctor asked.
Eight nods came back at him with happy smiles.
"Get some sleep," Rose said, pulling the covers over his chest.
"Maybe... yeah," he murmured, swallowing as his head lolled back on the pillows. "Um..." He opened his eyes again to look at them all, squinting to focus. "Please don't go anywhere."
Jackie smiled and leant forward to kiss him on the forehead. "We'll be 'ere when you wake up, love," she said gently.
"Good," the Doctor muttered, and closed his eyes. He swore he felt lips pressing gently to his, and he remembered them. Rose.
"I love you," he whispered, but he didn't hear a reply as he slipped into sleep.