It seemed like a nightmare gone horribly wrong as the Doctor struggled against his own body and the wall before him. There was a chill in the air as snow fell down all around him. If he remained too long, the snow would surely bury him. That didn't matter too much to him. He was dying anyway so let the snow bury him he thought.
Of course, he knew he would be endangering the planet should he die here and now. Not only could the radiation within his old bones destroy most of the planet, but maybe when the snow thawed people would discover his corpse. Or what was left of it. They would learn that he was not from this world. His two hearts would raise all the wrong alarms. What was left of the world could and would go into an unstoppable panic.
How odd his thinking was at a time like this. He stifled a laugh or two. He could see the front page of the newspapers now. "UNIT identified the corpse of that of an unidentified visitor from out of space." A second headline would be that they were mourning the passing of a legend. The Doctor snorted as the one word 'well' rung deep in his ears. He didn't feel like a legend nor did he pretend that was one. He only did remarkable things by saving the world and becoming the stuff of legends.
Truth be told, he just did the best he could at any circumstance or moment throughout time.
Despite that, he knew he really shouldn't be here. Going backward was cheating himself out the future. He knew it was best to get a move on. To die graciously and especially away from the planet. Yet, he couldn't move. It was as if he was trapped to this spot because he longed to see Rose one last and final time.
The feel of the brick wall against the bareness of his hand did little to ease the pain swarming inside him. The wall kept his body upward and without the wall, he surely would fall. He knew then that he may have to crawl away from this place without the use of any walls between here and the TARDIS.
He let out a prolonged breath and listened carefully to the world around him. He could hear for many miles. He could hear arguments, laughter, car alarms, pets and music. He could also hear familiar voices in the distance making their way in his general direction.
He could pretend that he wasn't listening to them or pretend he wasn't even here, but it only masked the truth because he could hear them and he was here.
All of his life he pretended with himself. Pretending he could run away and never look back. Pretending that losing friends and family didn't matter or that it didn't hurt. Pretending that he wasn't dying and was going to become a new man. Pretending that it was all right that he was alone in the universe however, pretending that he never felt pain at all was the biggest lie he could tell others and himself.
He was not immune to loss and suffering. He only pushed it all back because to bring it into the light could and would cost him his sanity.
He shook off his thoughts and tried to prepare himself for this chance meeting with Rose. Even if he was going to die, he took the time to visit his companions for mere seconds before walking away.
Once more he pretended with himself that it didn't hurt to say goodbye to them. He knew this would be the very last time he saw them and the last time they would see him. At least with this face and body. He was going to change and it may as well have been a death sentence.
He held himself in high regard and didn't stop to think how they would feel knowing he was about to change. He only thought of himself at a time like this. And so he should. After all he's done and has through. He thought it was fitting to care a little bit more about himself and his problems. however, it didn't stop how he cared about them.
He wasn't ready to die.
No one is.
He wanted to do so much more.
Did he have the right to weigh those thoughts and feelings against a pendulum with himself on one side and his human friends on the other? Sure he did, but it didn't make it all right either.
It almost seemed darker outside as he found himself raging against the dying of the light. Rage. Oh yes. Rage and raging meant the same thing in his book when recalling that poem by Dylan Thomas. He recalled it so well that it rang loudly in his mind here and now.
Do not go gentle into that good night,
old age should burn and rave at close of day;
rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
because their words had forked no lightning
they do not go gentle into that good night.
After his regeneration and when he was well again, he knew he would have to go back into time to meet Dylan Thomas. Just for something to do because he could. He had a time ship which meant he could go anywhere and everywhere. So why not travel back to 1947 when Dylan Thomas wrote the poem when he was in Florence with his family?
A sharp, twisting pain lurched itself against the fast beating of his hearts that it stole his breath. The pain made him skip over his thoughts about poems and poets and concentrate on trying to absolve the pain. He felt as if he was being stabbed repeatedly. It was the most horrible of sensations. 'Was this it?' He asked himself and he could barely answer himself. Despite the pain, he thought over what led up to this moment.
As deaths go, he knew it was going to be a noble one. He grimaced at the idea, but still, he knew that if he hadn't switched places with Wilfred, he wouldn't be dying here and now.
Like it or not, the Doctor knew it was either him or Wilfred. He wasn't about to leave Wilfred in there to die. Sylvia and Donna needed him. Of course it did take a moment or two to break down before admitting that to himself. If the Doctor can save someone, then he would even if that meant his own death.
The strange thing about this situation was that the Doctor often tried to sacrifice himself for others. He didn't let the idea of death affect his emotional state. He was quite willing to die to save the world, but when he wanted to live, he was forced to die. It didn't seem fair or right in his books.
Could he hurt Donna or Sylvia by walking away by letting poor Wilfred die on his own? He couldn't do that even if he wanted to.
The Doctor did many things in his lifetimes. He has hurt, wounded, fought and killed in the name of war and peace. But, the one thing he couldn't do was live with himself if someone were to die in his place. No, he would take death gladly if it meant he could save others.
But, Wilfred wasn't just some ordinary, random person. He was the grandfather of his best friend. The Doctor may have lost her, but he wasn't going to make her lose Wilfred.
The Doctor thought about how much time he had left and how much longer it would take for Rose or even Jackie to discover him. He felt so alone as he recounted the events that led him to this sad state.
He could see Ood Sigma in his mind speaking words about his song ending and then he could see Carmen saying similar words. Both were warning him of a future that was going to end. However, her words downright frightened him when she spoke what she did.
"It is returning, it is returning through the dark. And then, Doctor... Oh but then, he will knock four times."
Those two warnings should have been enough to scare him away from his path. But, the Doctor did what he always did. He ran back into the TARDIS and went from one moment to another as if that would stop the inevitable. However, he never imagined that Wilfred would be the man to dig his grave.
Truthfully, the Doctor admired Wilfred and thought fondly of him enough to consider him family. So how could he not save Wilfred? He would have even saved Wilfred had Wilfred been a perfect stranger in need of saving because that's what the Doctor does. Despite all that he has done, he saves people.
It was the only way he could live with himself. It was truly the only way he could go on and forgive himself.
Images and moments flooded his senses. He knew it was his brain's way of fighting to stay alive.
One moment he could see Rose, and then he could see Jack, Martha, Sarah Jane, Jackie, Mickey, Pete and so many other people. And then he thought of Donna.
His sassy, loud friend who went from being a stranger to him who later became his closest friend. All those moments spent with her soared through his brain like a migraine. He went from being happy and content to sad and alone in a matter of seconds. Just as he found her twice he lost her in the end. The only possible way of saving her life was erasing her memories of him and all the good she had done.
Again, images in his mind changed and he could see himself back at the Ood Sphere and being forewarned of the Master. He could see how concerned he was of Donna's safety and also the safety of every other human on the planet. He could see himself running away from the Ood and back into the TARDIS. He did his best to travel back in time to prevent the Masters return, but when he reached his destination, it was too late. The Master was back and the only thing left was the aftermath of an explosion.
The moments in his mind changed as he found the Master. The Master was a monster, feeding off of living beings and even crazier than he was when he was alive.
Despite the fault of the humans, the Time Lords were worse. They placed drums into the Masters mind and drove him to madness. It was no wonder why the Master behaved as he did. Every action made sense to the Doctor. It made him wonder if the Time Lords had not placed drums into the Masters mind if the Master could have been just like him.
Surely, he too would have gone just as madly as the Master did if he had been the one the Time Lords decided to humiliate and destroy.
Perhaps if the Time Lords didn't destroy the Master's life all those many centuries ago then the Doctor wouldn't be the last of his kind today.
The Doctor gasped and felt himself choking on the radiation burning throughout his body. His mind couldn't stay focused on one moment in time. His thoughts were a bit like the TARDIS as it disappeared in one place and reappeared in another. And then, he could see himself with the Time Lords from centuries ago as they scolded him and the Master for disobeying their elders. The Master always got him into a spot of trouble when they were young. However, that's what best friends were like, or so he imagined until the Master became his greatest enemy.
The Doctor shook his head, withdrawing from the memories that happened centuries ago. His mind fell upon that horrible day at Naismith's mansion. He fought so hard to stay alive, to stop the Time Lord council and to even make them pay for what they did to the Master.
The Time Lord council were a mad group, who were filled with nothing but revenge, fear and death. They were exactly like who he once was when he fought at the front lines in the Time War. The Earth needed protecting from them. Even if it meant they would all die, himself included.
His mind recalled that tragic moment when the Master risked his own life to save the Doctor and the world. Surely, the Master caused this to happen so it seemed fitting that the Master fix it.
The Doctor felt grateful to be alive. The Master sent the Time Lord council back to their rightful time and place, but doing so ended the Master's life, leaving the Doctor left on his own once again.
The Doctor was always left on his own and it didn't matter if the friend or enemy was human or otherwise. It was his curse but also his greatest strength when it came time to pick and choose the right person to travel with him.
The Doctor gasped at recalling what happened when he awoke on the floor. He was happy that he was still alive even if he lost so much. As greatly as he missed and or needed to be with his own kind, he was thankful that they were gone.
He didn't want the Earth to fall victim to what happened to Gallifrey and become just like it. However, the Earth was fine and it was safe. For the time being so he could revel in his joy that he wouldn't perish.
Then the sounds of knocking filled his senses. Wilfred Mott, loving husband, father and grandfather knocked four times and sealed the Doctor's fate.
The Doctor didn't want to rehash it in his mind or express his feelings on such a terrible subject. However, that, it was like a floodgate. Once opened, it seemed impossible in closing it.
The Doctor had no choice, but allow his mind to recall that time with great sadness. Despite all those brave attempts of risking his life for others, he truly felt cheated out of a life that could have been better with him in it.
He wasn't ready to die nor was he ready to change. He regenerated too many times not to know how painful it could be or how lonely, and sad it was when he became a new man. The previous incarnation would be lost forever as if the Grim Reaper itself tore away everything he once was and made him a brand new person. Sure, the pain was temporary, but it still felt like a part of him died that he would never get back again.
'Look, just leave me.'
The sound of Wilfred's voice pounded into his chest forcing his hearts to crash against his chest plate. The pain was severe enough that it's power brought him out of this moment and back into that one.
The Doctor was fighting tears as he held his hands behind his back and stared at the tiles under his feet. He lifted his head and looked at Wilfred with a painful smile. His hearts were breaking. He felt angry even if he did well to hold it back.
'Ok. Right then, I will.'
The Doctor lets go of his arms, turns and paces. Obviously, he was more upset than he first let on. 'Cause you had to go in there, didn't you? You had to go and get stuck?'
Everything was beyond his control as he paused a moment and then looked at Wilfred.'Oh, yes! Cause that's who you are Wilfred. You were always this....'
He looked to the ceiling, then to the floor and then at Wilfred. 'Waiting for me all this time.'
The Doctor placed his hands to his hips and dropped his head down. He cried silently, despite, his best effort to remain strong. Wilfred tried to coax him into letting him die, but the Doctor already made up his mind, that's why it hurt him the way it did. He was going to die to save Wilfred.
'No, really, just leave me. I'm an old man, Doctor. I've had my time.'
The Doctor scoffed at Wilfred's words, the anger he felt burn inside couldn't be contained for much longer. Truth was, he was heartbroken that the man that knocked four times was Wilfred. 'Well exactly, look at you. Not remotely important.'
The Doctor looked away as his tears fell. His hands fell off his hips, he turned his back was on Wilfred because it hurt too much to look at him. 'But me? I could do so much more.'
He turns toward Wilfred's general direction however, he never looks at him when he yells at the ceiling. He beats his own chest as if to prove his own point that he was hurt and angry. 'SO MUCH MORE!'
He drops his arms, places both hands down on the table in front of him and tries to speak in a normal tone. His voice filled with utter pain and torment as he begins to speak words a child would use.'But this is what I get. My reward.'
The hurt and anger was replaced with rage when he pushes items off the desk and screams as loudly as his voice could carry. 'AND IT'S NOT FAIR!'
The Doctor gave in to his tears. He felt like a child once more and he knew it was time to grow up.
He had no one to blame for this because he knew everything happened for a reason. He was warned of this moment so there was no sense crying over it.
He stood upward, his chest heaving as he fought against his own tears. He stares at Wilfred, noticing that Wilfred had been crying too. 'Oh, I've lived too long.'
The Doctor walks across the room and Wilfred cries out because he knew the Doctor was going to sacrifice himself to save his life. However, it was the choice the Doctor made for himself, Wilfred, Sylvia, Donna and the world.
'No... No, no, please, please don't. No. don't, don't. Please Don't! Please!'
The Doctor could hear Donna in Wilfred's voice and looked at him gently, despite what he was about to do. 'Wilfred, it's my honour.'
The Doctor dismissed his memory of Wilfred and pressed on. He found himself thinking of his companions once more. Well why shouldn't he think of them at a time like this?
He thought of Martha and Mickey, believing it was wonderful. No, not wonderful. It was better than that. It was brilliant that they were married. Smith and Jones. What couldn't be better than that? Course, he told himself Martha had the wrong Smith when she fancied him. He chuckled silently no matter the physical pain he felt.
He thought of Captain Jack and Alonso and wondered how that pairing turned out. He thought of Luke and Sarah Jane. He remembered the tears in her eyes because she knew he was going to die and he didn't have to tell her. He thought of how wonderful and special Sarah Jane was to him. A part of him mourned the passing of time and how he missed so much of her life. And how he would not be able to get any of those moments back again.
He thought of Sylvia and Wilfred. Even now, the smile on Sylvia's face shocked him because she looked upon him like a friend instead of the enemy. She finally accepted him, but at such a great cost. And the cost was that he could never be in Donna's life and she could never be in his.
The Doctor felt cheated in some form because everyone was able to meet his gaze except for Donna. Sure, he was able to give her a wedding gift. He gave Sylvia and Wilfred a lottery ticket he purchased with the money Donna's father had given to him. Money often helped people in need and Donna would be set for life. She would have everything she ever wanted out of life with ample funds to do it.
Donna would have everything except for the one thing the Doctor could never give to her; her memories.
Once more he felt cheated and would have given all the money in the world to be able to speak to Donna the way he spoke with Wilfred and Sylvia. He would have given anything to see her lock eyes with him and remember it all without it killing her.
Instead he moved back into the TARDIS, pulling against his own emotions and fear. He traveled to Rose Tyler's residence and moved to a place out of the way so that he wouldn't be seen.
He recounted in his head how many steps he took to get here. He even went so far as counting how many bulbs were used to decorate the Powell Estate to give it a shimmer of Christmas spirit.
Just a few years ago, he spent Christmas Eve with Rose, Jackie and Mickey. It may have been the start of his adventure, but he never intended for this to be the ending of it.
His mind thought on all the art on the outside walls. Course, some people would call it graffiti instead of art. The Doctor chuckled silently as he read some of the words near the art. Humans were an imaginative, brilliant species.
There was a door next to him, made of steel and it was as cold as he felt that he drew his hand away and placed it on the brick wall beside it.
His attention took note of it as he debated in his mind if it was a shed of some sort filled with gardening tools or what not.
Even when he was dying he was still a very curious entity.
He could hear Rose and Jackie even more now as if someone cranked up the volume in his eardrums. The action made him stand up straight and place a hand in his pocket. He knew that at any second now he would see one or the other or perhaps both of them.
It seemed strange that he didn't know what time it was or what year. But, he knew that it was somewhere between Christmas and the New Year. However, he knew that if he waited here long enough, then he would see Rose again. That was all that mattered to him right now.
And there she was, a living, breathing, walking and talking miracle. A miracle who walked right by him and hadn't noticed he was there in the dim lit corner.
He tried to be strong, and hold on until she left. However, the pain inside came out of his vocal cords and he knew she heard him. He hunched over a bit and placed an elbow up against the metal doors.
"You alright mate?"
The sound of her voice made him smile, despite the pain he felt he was happy to hear her voice again.
He lifted his head, met her gaze and then looked back down. He tried to be less memorable as he could be. He didn't want to upset the timeline or make her feel strange or scared later on when his previous incarnation changed his face and body in front of her.
Of course, he told himself that because he stood in a dark area that maybe she couldn't see his face. Maybe Rose wouldn't remember this chance meeting.
With time travel there were too many variables to take into account, but he knew how to get by important fixed points without being discovered and he hoped that Rose wouldn't think on this encounter later on.
"Yeah." Came his response. He couldn't tell her the actual truth without interrupting her timeline. But, she made him both happy and sad. This Rose here and now was not his Rose, not yet at least.
She smiled at him and resisted laughing. "Too much to drink?"
He regained his composure rather quickly when he dropped his hand down and met her gaze. "Something like that."
"Maybe it's time you went home?"
He felt as if his body was about to fall from under him. He no longer had the brick wall or the metal doors to support his weight, but he did his best to remain on his feet while in her presence. "Yeah."
She shivers from the cold, moving forward and then backward with an enormous smile on her face. "Anyway, Happy New Year."
"And you!" She turns to leave and he calls her back. "What year is this?" She stops, turns, laughs and looks at him. "Blimey, how much have you had?"
He nods his head and appeared his old doctor-ish self. "Welllllll."
"2005, January the first."
She nods and cradles her arms, crossed at her chest. He genuinely smiles at her even if his eyes fill with tears. He was recalling their time together and all those moments when they laughed and ran through the time vortex as if it was their personal playground. "Tell you what, I bet you're going to have a really great year."
The radiation burning his insides was an insurmountable pain and it took every bit of resolve within him to not fall down at her feet. He only smiled at her, and was grateful to see her. They met in 2005. He was a different man then. He looked different, acted different, walked, and even talked differently.
Even if that version of him was long dead, it didn't stop him from remembering how he took her hand and led her far across the cosmos.
This was the end of his journey with her, but it was just the beginning for her. One day she would find herself running with him and she would never stop until she was forced to.
He smiled at her once more and felt content in her company. He never intended to hold a conversation with her, he just wanted to see her face for the last time.
Sure, he talked to Joan Redferns descendant and also spoke with Wilfred and Sylvia. But, Rose meant so much more to him. He once loved her, he still loved her so being able to talk to her here and now meant everything in the world to him. She was special to him and she always would be.
Despite that he didn't want to favor one companion over the others, he truly loved Rose in a way that he didn't with his other companions. It was a romantic love because she saved him when he needed saving. She helped him to be strong and to be a better man after he lost so much in the war. She helped him to move on and to let go of the guilt and anger he harbored inside. So, this moment here and now meant a great deal to him.
Of course it would be Rose. She was there when he took this face and it seemed fitting that she was there when he left it.
He could tell from the glow on her cheeks that she was cold but that she was also happy when she smiled at him. “Yeah?” He returned the same happy smile to her. She looked downward, looked up as she twisted her upper body toward him with the biggest smile her face could manage. “See ya.” She turned on her heels and ran to the door.
He stood in the darkness of his dwelling place smiling at her when she opened the door and entered inside.
She looks at him once through the glass window before making her way up the stairs.
Just as she was out of sight he exhaled a deep breath as his eyes burned with tears. The pain came back around again but it was so much worse when he groaned out and put his arm back up against the door for support.
He withdrew his hand from his pocket as he gasped and used the wall to hold his weight so that he could get to the TARDIS.
He let out another prolonged breath and a terrible moan. He couldn't pretend anymore as he felt his knees buckle. The constant surging pain ran throughout his entire body making it almost impossible to think clearly.
It literally felt as if every vein in his body was on fire as it attacked all of his internal organs.
It was a miracle that he was still standing at all.
Slowly, he took one step and then another after that. Each step made him feel more nauseated and fatigued than the one before it. His limbs were failing him so he latched onto the brick wall even more now and lead himself around the corner where the TARDIS was parked in the distance.
He ran out of wall space to hold on to and he was on his own from here to the TARDIS. Sometimes they're really just wasn't even walls between himself and the TARDIS. He frowned at his own thinking as he groaned out with each breath he took.
The Doctor stumbled, and almost fell a few times. As skilled and as brilliant as his mind was, it failed his body at a time like this.
With each step he took he wondered why he parked so far away. It wasn't as if Rose or even Jackie would have noticed the TARDIS if he had left in the same spot he previously stood in.
He understood why Rose assumed he had too much to drink. For all outward appearances he did seem like a drunken fool trying to get home after drinking his weight in alcohol at the local pub.
Despite his outward appearance, inside there was a thunder in his hearts. There is a terrible ache dwelling deep within and an intensity that kept him walking onward.
There were so many thoughts racing through his mind. Of the future, of his death, of the pain he was now trapped in. Oh, the pain was so severe that it made him grind his teeth and force his head and shoulders back.
There were so many improbable moments in time just waiting to happen. How could he refuse his own future by wishing that he could live a bit longer as the man he became?
No matter that, he was dying. And what does he do? He behaves a way a human would behave when thinking of their loved ones. He felt compelled to think of everyone he knew as the man he was here and now. It seemed easier almost to think of others before thinking of the pain his body was riddled with.
Again, he thought of Donna last. Not because she was insignificant or not as important as the others, but because her memory hurt the most. With Donna he didn't have to hold back or pretend.
Even if he tried to disguise how he felt about one thing or another in the beginning, she always saw through him. Sometimes she gave him the space he needed and other times she refused to leave his side. She was even there when he didn't want to be alone comforting him without saying a word. It was no wonder why she became his best friend and why he became hers.
They were like two peas that came from the same pod so it was no shock that everyone they came across thought they were either siblings or a married couple. They were intimate with their minds and hearts without being physically intimate with each other.
He missed the sound of her voice and even missed when she would shout at him or call him out when he was in the wrong. He missed that she stood at his side even when he was wrong. She was there to stop him because sometimes he needed someone to stop him.
He suspected that if she was here now that she would be shouting at him as she dragged his body into the TARDIS so that she could protect the Earth from his regeneration.
He missed her laugh and the way she would light up whenever they went to strange, far-off places. She was just as bad as he was when they would find themselves into a spot of bother with the natives. She made getting into danger and into trouble a good time.
Oh, he just missed his best friend.
No matter how much he longed to see her, he wasn't going to be selfish by risking her death.
No, as long as he was this man, with this man's face he couldn't get near her. He suspected after he changed, perhaps he could see her. However, he knew himself too well. He wouldn't go anywhere near her even as a new man because the risk was still the same.
No, he would never see her again no matter how much he cared about her because that's who he is.
He hates goodbyes and endings, it was better to avoid them at all costs.
He was moving on and was content in the knowledge that Donna was still out there in the world living her life on the slow path. She would still do all of those zany, but brilliant Donna Noble things in her own special way. If he could believe that, then somehow he could find some comfort in the loss because Donna Noble IS alive.
Yet, the more he thought of her, the more ideas flooded his mind. He thought he could pop back into the TARDIS and go see Donna in 2005. Donna didn't know him in 2005 and it would be perfectly acceptable to see her without it interrupting the timeline. However, he knew the odds and he knew that this timeline would be eradicated because Donna of 2008 could remember seeing him.
However, he had hope to believe that because Donna kept missing all those enormous moments in time that she would miss his appearance in her life three years before they were set to meet.
However, even if he wanted to, he couldn't. There was no time. He was going to die and he wouldn't be able to see her again. He wouldn't be able to see any of them again. Not with this face.
He wanted to stay, to be the man he is, but his time was over. His body and mind knew it was over, even if his spirit refused to accept it. He refused so much that he wondered if there was a way to slow down the regenerative process happening within.
Then his mind cleared of his previous thoughts and all he could think and feel was the pain when he moaned out so loudly that he wondered if anyone had heard him.
It had been a miracle that was able to stand for so long when his legs suddenly fell out from under him and he went crashing to the cold, snowy ground. He groaned and made a howling sound from the impact. The pain was atrocious enough that it made him take a very deep breath and hold it inside for over a minute before gasping.
He stood only to crash and fall again. The pain was insurmountable, it physically hurt in so many ways that it forced tears to burn in his eyes.
His hands were soaked with the snow and he felt how they burned. He felt cold, sad and alone like he did once when he was just child being forced from his family home to enter the academy.
He recalled running away and hiding in the cold, dark night only to be grabbed by three adult teachers who brought him back to the academy. The academy taught his young mind to obliterate fear and replace it with a sense of control. They taught him to be strong and to be obedient. However, their teachings never wavered on the man he became until he was too old and set in his ways to care about their laws and principles.
He suspected even now after all these centuries that may have aided in his desire to run away from his own planet.
He could see in his head how he along with his granddaughter Susan stole the TARDIS and vanished from Gallifrey only to stumble upon the Earth as if they had always been there. And then Susan made everything complicated when two of her teachers, Barbara and Ian followed her into the TARDIS. The Doctor ran away all those centuries ago and hasn't stopped running since.
Duty, courage, and honor had no place in his hearts now as he sat in the cold temperature as if he was that small child all over again crying for an outcome that he didn't want. He felt lost, alone and abandoned in such a way that it made him mourn for the days when he was at his happiest.
His family from Gallifrey made him happy and proud. His companions, each and every one of them made him happy. However, they were all gone now, all of them. He was on his own and he was dying alone.
Perhaps that's why he blamed himself so rightfully before he met Rose. If he had appreciated his people and his planet before the war, if he hadn't insisted on running away from them, then perhaps some of them would be here now. Perhaps somewhere in the middle of the Time War, if he stopped for just a moment then, maybe some of his family, and or friends could have made it out alive. He simply felt as if he didn't care enough so he refused to care about anything else.
Sure, he felt a deep loneliness through many of his years as each Doctor. Even if he had companions riding alongside him in the TARDIS, he always felt alone. He was clever enough to suppress the pain, but right now the loneliness went deeper on a level that he could not quite understand.
It was impossible to suppress all that he was feeling right now. Not only was he the last of his kind, but he also longed for a life that didn't involve changing who he was. If he was going to die, then fine. Let him do it. It was the living after regeneration that made him hate himself all the more because he was alone.
He was right. He lived too long yet he feared his own death here and now.
He wept like a child who didn't have the common sense to come in from the cold.
Truth be told, he didn't want to die at all but the pain he felt inside told him it was just a matter of time before he would.
He didn't want to change, to become another man. He didn't want to forget who he was now or forget who mattered to him. Surely, he would recall who he was and all those people that once mattered, but it would take a long time to connect the dots.
And when he would remember, he would push it to the side, hide it from the next person he picks up and show to them that he didn't care when truly he did care.
So all of his previous thoughts told him how much of a liar he actually is. He could say he didn't care, prove it but deep down the more he thought on matters he did care. He cared too much. That was his problem.
As terrified as he was when he learned what happened to Donna, he was partly overjoyed too because he finally had someone else in the universe that was just like him. Sure, she was half human but she was also half Time Lord too. All that wisdom, knowledge and brilliance spilled out of her head and he felt captured by it.
He was the moth to her flame because he didn't feel alone anymore and he was happy. Well until her mind crumbled and he lost her.
Before it happened, he felt as if he had gone home for the first time in thousands of years. With Donna at his side he knew he would never feel alone again because she was a part of him just as he was a part of her.
She was his equal before the meta-crisis and she remained his equal after it.
However, he knew what was to come of this situation with her. He knew he was going to lose her just as he lost everyone else.
There had never been a human-TimeLord meta-crisis before because there never should be. There never could be, not without killing the victim painfully. At the time he had no choice but to wipe away all of her memories of him and of herself and make her forget. It was truly the only way of saving her life, despite the fact that he knew she would have rather died than to go back to the life she lived before she met him.
Sometimes he still questions if he did the right thing. Perhaps it would have been better to accept her decision instead of choosing for her. Perhaps if he wasn't selfish by wanting her in the world, then she wouldn't be alive right now. He supposed in the end, it was like death to her. Being forced to live out a life where she wouldn't be truly happy instead of dying with all of her memories intact.
He felt so wrong and embittered by his choices and actions over several things in his life, but he knew his biggest regret was saving the people that didn't want to be saved.
The Doctor gasped out regeneration orb from his mouth and felt as if his twin hearts were colliding with one another. He exhaled out a deep moan and felt his elbows arch upward near his back and remain there as he struggled to do something simple like breathing.
He stayed for too long, trapped in his thoughts, but it was time to move on. All the wishing in the world wasn't going to change the future that awaited him once he changed.
Sweat and cold fell over him. He wasn't ready to go just yet. Of all that he did and have been through with this body, he believed losing those that he loved was the worst pain of them all. However, right now as he struggled to even stand up, he realized he knew no greater pain because it seemed to spread from his toes to his ears. Even his hair hurt and that astounded him.
He dropped his gaze to his hands, noting the yellow energy burning there. It wouldn't be long now. Despite the pain, he felt terrified of taking his last breath as this man and taking in another breath as someone completely different. However, when would that last breath be? He didn't have the answers, but he knew he had to get up. He tried to shift his weight and stand up, but he fell right back down.
The one thing he couldn't control in his life was his own death. Who was he to keep running from death? Who was he to stop and say no, I don't want to go. I will not be going today.
But, he knew what was, what could be and what never should be. The laws of time etched itself into his memory forcing him to accept the bitter outcome that awaited him.
The pain of dying was an agonizing hell and his own body was decaying his thought process. Everything he was or had been flashed before his eyes. Everything he held on to when it came to this body would be lost.
Again, he wondered if he could be clever enough to find a way to slow down the process so that he may do what he should have done.
He could not think on it anymore. He only felt guided by impulse to lift his head and see Ood Sigma standing in the snowy distance across from him.
The Doctor tried to move because he knew that if he were to die here on the street, outside Rose Tyler's residence, then he was putting her in danger along with the rest of the world.
How many more times was he to remind himself of that he wondered? Perhaps a few more times or for as long as it took for him to properly get up and leave the planet.
Both hands balled into fists as he arched his back and bent his knees so he could get himself into a standing position. His mind thought strategy as his body thought freedom from the cold. He knew what could happen if he chose to remain here. It may ignite the fires in the time vortex and create a paradox. Especially if his previous incarnation were to pop in and check on Rose Tyler.
The thought of running into the man he once was made his mind sizzle as an egg would in a frying pan.
He stood up on trembling limbs and just stood there before sliding back down again. He was reduced to a child who was just learning how to walk.
His body convulsed, ached and screamed in pain. He could hardly breathe as shallow bits of air came from his mouth.
He kept telling himself over and over that he had to get up and get away. However, his body and mind were at war with one another and he was caught in the middle. Every single action within caused a deeper reaction on the outside.
He felt as if his skin turned from ice to fire. The radiation soaked through enough blood cells that it leaked out of his pores. He could actually feel his own blood begin to sizzle and boil. He fell down once more, almost crashing and flailing about like a fish would out of water.
And there was Ood Sigma once more. The Doctor barely took in his presence and he desperately tried not to.
Yet Ood Sigma's voice filtered through his eardrums as he saw flashes of the Ood as they sat in a perfect circle, singing such a sad song about him.
The Doctor had both hands in the snow now as he finally looked to Ood Sigma.
Ood Sigma told him the universe will sing him to sleep now and it did nothing to make him feel at peace. If anything it made him more afraid for the unknown.
The pain, regret and the anger was like petrol to the Doctor's body that it's power lifted him up and on to his feet. The song guided him as he stumbled to the TARDIS.
He entered inside and closed the door behind him. The music the Ood sang was a terrible, sad song that it only made him try to block it out. It reminded him of Ood Sigma's warning so long ago. His song was ending right now.
When the warning first happened the Doctor never questioned it after he left the Ood Sphere. He tried not to and then came another set of premonitions and stories of how he was going to die. So, he lived and he ran so far and so fast across the skies as if to find ways to ignore it. Despite how fast he ran, he could never have outrun his own death. His time was up. If he listened close enough he could almost hear the Grim Reaper tapping at his doors.
The TARDIS disappeared from the Earth and reappeared outside it's solar system. Despite the distance the music continued to flood his eardrums as he tried so hard to stop the inevitable.
He removed his jacket, and tossed it to the closest pylon. He stood in silence for only a moment before moving further into the time ship. He flipped a few switches and turned a few gears on the TARDIS. He was within safe distance and he knew the only person that was going to be hurt from his regeneration was himself.
Dread filled all of his senses and once more he knew he had to change if he wanted to keep living. But, was he living just to exist? Or was he existing to live? He didn't know the answers nor did he expect someone to give him the answers. He only knew that he may not be so deserving of the right to keep living.
However, there was no stopping it so he may as well get used to the idea and allow his body do what it had to do.
The sadness flowed through him as his mind drew back on memories from the past.
He remembered the last time he was about to regenerate. He could see Rose waking up on the floor at his right and how he looked to his hand to see the energy burning there.
'Rose, before I go, I just want to tell you, you were fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. And do you know what? So was I.'
In his mind he could see himself regenerate. A fact that has rarely happened to him before. Usually his mind would forget the regeneration after it happened.
Each time left him feeling as if he was just born. All that curiosity and wonder seeping out of him as he kept running back to the TARDIS and flying away into time and space.
All those bright and beautiful companions who stood by him, sacrificed so much for him and cared about him raced through his thoughts.
Each one of them were different from the other yet they were just who he needed at that time. Each of them served a purpose in his life and all were his friends. Some hurt him more than others and some no matter the time passed had the ability to make him smile fondly.
He was in awe of how he cared for them all, and how they cared for him.
He felt his hands tightening and could feel the burn from his fingertips to his wrists. It felt as if invisible hands were holding his, to let him know he wasn't as alone as he believed himself to be.
The Doctor was crying now, but he did his best to hold on to what dignity he had left.
All those companions and not one of them was here now. He expected years back that Rose would be here when he left this body and became a new man or woman. Sadly, Rose was so far away and Donna....
He stopped at the mention of her name in his mind. He had thought of her a lot today, but doing so right now made him mourn her all the more. His best friend, lost and ripped from his life and her own. He was powerless and defeated. He couldn't help her nor could he help any of his other companion's right now.
It was too late to apologize to any of them for all the regret he held inside. Yet, he knew there was only one right now that deserved that apology more than any of them.
Right now, he would have given anything for Donna to be here with him. To tell her how heartfelt sorry he felt. To take her hand so that she wouldn't doubt him. It would somehow make the regeneration that little less scary for him.
Knowing her the way he did, he knew he would tell her to stay away from him because he was going to regenerate but she wouldn't listen. She'd shout at him and take his hand anyway no matter the danger. Leave it to her to always argue with him.
Despite that he was about to die, he smiled. Oh Donna could always make him smile on the most horrible days of his life.
He tried to dismiss all of his thoughts and concentrate. He walked around the TARDIS eyeing it fondly as if it would be or could be the last time he would see it.
He tried to be accepting of his death and he tried to face it with dignity, but all those moments in time that could have been flowed through him.
The worst of this situation was his memory and how it kept leading him back to those wonderful companions as their shadows moved through his mind.
Yet Donna, lingered a bit more into his head, more than any other companion. She weighed heavily upon his hearts and yet he did not know why. Was it because her ending was the most tragic? Was it because she was his best friend? Was it because she fought for him and fought with him? Was it because she challenged him and stood by him even if that meant her own death? He didn't understand it at all. He knew he felt a deep regret boiling inside him for not being able to look into her eyes and share with her a real, proper goodbye.
He helped Martha and Mickey with the Sontarans. He helped Jack by acquainting him with Alonso. He helped Luke by saving his life and waved goodbye with Sarah Jane. He talked with Rose and also talked with Wilfred and Sylvia, but the one person he wanted to talk to, he couldn't. It was painfully forbidden.
He couldn't look her in the eyes or feel her gaze looking at him with all of her memories intact. He couldn't share one word with her otherwise she would burn and she would die. It wasn't fair.
'It's not fair.'
Those words echoed in his head, but they were not his words. They were hers. 'Please, save someone.'
The Doctor rubbed his face and eyes, pushing back tears before they could fall. The things that happened to him today seemed tragic. He felt compelled to think of her right as he was about to die. Yet, he went anywhere near her then she could die.
It was a double-edged sword and no matter what, he or she or both would lose.
The Doctor ran his hands through his hair and pushed his hand down over his neck before dropping his hand down at his side. He took hold of the console and held it tightly as if to ground himself to this moment here and now. He felt as if he were being hit with invisible blows to his stomach and chest as he let out painful sobs.
All those moments in time burned through him. He was good at disguising how he felt. It wasn't often he gave in to emotion and behaved the way he did today. He could successfully hold the pain inside and trap it there, so it doesn't show to those nearest him.
Today was too emotional of a day to deny the existence of his pain. As hard as he tried he couldn't fight the tears he was shedding.
The Doctor pushed himself at a length away from the console and gave in to the death that awaited him. The gold like substance leaked from both hands and slowly covered over his neck, head and face.
This was it. The end of the road. "I don't want to go." Were the last words he was able to say before the energy inside seemed to pour out of him.
His last thought was of the man he was and of course also of Donna because truth be told, he didn't have the time to talk to her. The regret piled in so deeply that he cried. The scars inside have never fully healed and why should they? After all he's seen and after all he's lost how could he heal?
Before he could change, the TARDIS came to a sudden stop as if it crashed into something. It shook from one side to the other. It took him off of his feet and forced his body to fall from one side to the other as if he was the ball on a giant ping-pong table. "What?"
An alarm blared so loudly as the lights flickered on and off all around him. He could hear clashing and clanking as if someone were hitting the console with his hammer.
As he tried to regain his footing, a blast of smoke and fire covered parts of the console. Not only was he alarmed by the fact that he didn't changed, but that his time ship was breaking apart without no apparent cause or reason. Was it the radiation that poured out of him moments before? Was it sympathy pains the TARDIS was feeling? Oh he didn't know. The Doctor had no time to question anything as he dodged a piece of the ceiling as it crashed to the floor around him. "What?"
He assumed it was his Time Lord energy mixed with radiation that soaked parts of the ship in a blaze of fire. However, the sound of the cloister bell told him differently.
In all than a blink of an eye he felt as if someone or something kicked him so extremely hard in the chest that the action forced him backward and off of his feet.
He sat there, clutching his chest with both hands at each heart. There was something terribly wrong with the TARDIS and he knew it was just a matter of time before it would crash itself against the Earth's atmosphere.
He was dying and then the TARDIS breaks down. His day just went from bad to worse in a matter of seconds.
It seemed like a perfect distraction away from the process of regeneration when he crawled on his knees to the console and took hold of the fire extinguisher and sprayed at the fire along the columns and pylons. He even went so far as try to stop the fire at the control panel, but once more the TARDIS lurched in a different direction and he went flying off of his feet.
He growled when he made contact with the floor, but he didn't stay down for very long. He crawled his way to the controls and didn't even realize that his body felt normal again as if he wasn't going to die at all. All pain left him when the TARDIS took him off of his once more feet.
The TARDIS went from side to side, making him run from one side and hit a wall to the other side. The turbulence made the floor under his feet vibrate. Once again he was off his feet and flipped upside down and spun around. He felt like an insect caught in a fan and then thrown at the wall.
When the TARDIS righted itself he dropped the extinguisher down and held on to the sides of the control panel for support. If the TARDIS was going to push him around, then he was at the right spot for support. He concentrated on the time dimensional stabilizer and the vortex loop. He watched the needle rush all over the place. You could say he was in trouble, he just didn't know how much yet.
He switched switches, ground gears and pressed buttons. He even went so far as trying to put out the small fires with his hands.
Sparks and another fire blew up over the console and partly burned his fingertips. "Oi!" he said as he worked to get the fire out and get to the root of the problem. Yet, he was falling out of space. He could feel it. The TARDIS was plummeting toward the Earth in a speed it wasn't accustomed to.
The TARDIS pushed, grated and churned in its wonderful sound as it seemed to fall apart at exactly the same time. What was happening? Why was the TARDIS taking him back to Earth? Or was it taking him somewhere else?
At this point the Doctor felt as if he didn't have a choice either way so he held on to the sides very tightly and allowed the ship to push and pull at him. He believed it to be a mathematical certainty that he was about to regenerate and crash the TARDIS at the same time.
"No!" He said and he sounded so torn and broken. He couldn't even regenerate properly without something going wrong. "Same old life" He said out loud and it answered the reasons for the distraction. He flicked a switch and pulled a lever downward in the hopes of stopping the TARDIS in its tracks, however, the TARDIS had ideas of its own. It surprised the Doctor and not in a good way.
What was the TARDIS doing? Where was it taking him? When was it taking him? Why wasn't he dying right now and becoming a new man? Why was his death prolonged? He didn't have time to question anything else when he was up and on his feet doing everything he could to control the TARDIS once more. It was just like him to pull away from the brink of death and to not give up.
He could still feel and smell the radiation as it rushed out of his pores, but it was held back. The Doctor didn't know how long he had left, but he wasn't going to waste this time.
Right now, he would do all that he could to stop the TARDIS and leave orbit so that he doesn't hurt anyone.
The TARDIS did the opposite of each task the Doctor asked of it. If he tried to go forwards, the TARDIS went backwards. If he tried to go back into the past, the TARDIS went farther into the future and when the Doctor didn't do anything at all, the TARDIS raced at a speed toward the gravity of a planet beneath them.
It reminded him too easily when the TARDIS behaved similar when it brought him to where Jenny was born with the use of his stolen genetic code. Was the TARDIS doing the same thing here and now?
Despite trying to control an out of control spaceship he remembered losing Jenny at a time when he truly accepted her as his daughter. It was just like him to accept the impossible in any situation and then find himself losing in the end.
He always tried to shield all of his pain and rage by pretending it wasn't there because that was how he was taught. Don't let it out, don't let it show. Of course Donna was good at forcing him to admit to his emotion without even trying. Perhaps she was just the right companion at the right time who could get him to talk and open up about things, even if he did a good job at hiding the truth.
Before he could stop it, he found his mind trapped in the past. He could see himself standing in the TARDIS rubbing the wound on the top of his hand. He could feel Donna creep up at his side so he dropped his hands down as if to hide the pain from her. He pretended to flip switches and to prove he hadn't been thinking about Jenny, but Donna's sad face told him that she knew. "How are you spaceman?"
He only looked at her, but didn't answer her when he looked down and away from her eyes. She took hold of him and turned him around so that she could look into his eyes and he could look into hers. She placed each palm down against each of his hearts. "You see that pain in there. It doesn't mean you were wrong to let her in. It proves you were right."
They shared a heartfelt glance at one another before he dropped his gaze only to look back at her. "What do we do now?"
Her hands slid down from his chest and landed on both of his arms. "We go on. We live. We remember. What else can we do?"
He looked away and she dropped her hands down and away from him completely. "Where do you want to go?"
He said when he turned his head and met her gaze.
"Let's find a new world. For her."
They shared a smile before he pulled away and pushed a lever down. The TARDIS grated and churned as he flicked switches and turned gears.
When the Doctor's mind came from the past his voice betrayed him when he spoke. He sounded hurt and on the verge of tears. Oh, he sounded more like John Smith than the Doctor. He forgave himself for letting himself give into his emotions. He assumed he was dying so he had every right to behave any way he wanted. "Is that what you're doing? Taking me back to that world so I will have to face it alone?"
There was no answer, why did he even believe he would get one?
When the TARDIS landed it threw him off of his feet and he went flying into a pylon. He moaned out in pain and annoyance.
The lights flickered on and off for several seconds before they remained on. The sound of the cloister bell instantly stopped and it appeared as if there was nothing at all wrong with the TARDIS. However, the Doctor knew otherwise. Something was wrong, but what?
The telepathic field in the heart of the TARDIS did what he couldn't do. It brought him back to one of his companions. However, the Doctor has yet to learn that truth. No matter the physical pain he knew he was about to endure, he felt curious about what just happened.
Both hearts raced in fear and in excitement of what he would see and learn.
Smoke swam up into the air and the Doctor quickly sprang to his feet without hesitation and took hold of an extinguisher on the floor. He pressed down and extinguished the small fires rather quickly. He dropped the tank and the scent of gaseous fumes moved up into his nostrils. He pushed past the smoke to learn where and when he was. "What?"
His mind raced as he drew a hand up through his hair, making it stands upward. "No!" He said. Just the one word astounded him. He should be dead yet he wasn't dead. He was still alive and he was back on the planet Earth, but more to the point, he was parked outside a local church.
Not just any church, but exactly the same church that Donna Noble were married in. The Doctor didn't know what the TARDIS was thinking or feeling? Or why it would guide him back here before Donna's wedding.
He assumed the TARDIS would have taken him back to Rose in 2005. She once absorbed the heart of the TARDIS so he suspected like a fool that the TARDIS would lead him back to her. He was astonished that the TARDIS brought him to Donna instead.
He wondered why the TARDIS did something like this. He was grateful and curious at the same time, but it didn't stop the fear he felt. Fear so deep and powerful that it almost made him run away once more.
He couldn't face Donna no matter how much he wanted to. He couldn't look into her eyes and see a person staring back at him that didn't know the real him underneath the suit.
Donna once saw into his mind and could see and feel every waking moment of his entire existence. If it were in his head, it became a part of hers. She could see every man he ever was, all of the adventures and his companions. She could see his loves, his losses, his victories, but more than that she could see the real him underneath.
She could see his alien form underneath the humanoid shell and she knew his real name. The problem was, is that she didn't remember any of it. She didn't even remember herself and all those amazing things she did
He shook his head and tried to dismiss his thoughts. He tried his best to get the TARDIS to work again, but it seemed hopeless. The TARDIS wouldn't move or obey any of his commands. "Right then." He said as he gave a good nod to the ship. He seemed to have understood partly why the TARDIS brought him back here.
The TARDIS was telepathic that is true, but it also did what it felt it had to. It did the one thing he never ever would do. It led him right back in time to see his best friend before her wedding.
The TARDIS could see into the future farther than he could and it brought him back here for a reason. What that reason was, he didn't understand.
"Why Donna? Why her? Why bring me here when we can't see one another without it hurting her?" He trailed off as he tried to collect his emotions and stop himself from breaking down.
Why did the TARDIS take him to the one person within a billion stars that shared a part of his home planet in her mind?She may never remember him, but he could never forget her. "Why here? Why now?" He said under his breath as the shock piled in on top of everything else that was going wrong today. However, what shocked him even more was saying her name out loud the way he did as if he hadn't said it for years.
He shook off his shock and told himself that because the TARDIS was telepathic, it latched on to his thought process and learned of his regrets so the TARDIS brought him back to Donna so that he could overcome those same regrets. Nothing more than that.
When he decided to stay, the chamber lit up like a giant sun. It was so bright and blinding that it made the Doctor put up a hand and squint just to shield his eyes.
How odd he felt to be affected by the things humans were affected by. The heat and the cold. The pain and heartbreak. The brightness of the TARDIS chamber he told himself was a bit odd.
He wasn't sure if the TARDIS was communicating with him now or if he was slowly going mad. Either way he nodded his head and thanked the machine as humans would thank each other.
Once thanked, the TARDIS went back to normal and the light faded from the chamber. "Getting a bit cheeky in your old age." But, he wasn't one to talk because he was in fact older than the TARDIS was.
Despite the do and the don'ts about time travel, he still knew what he was doing. He still knew what the TARDIS was doing. It may not take him where he wants to go, but it sure enough the TARDIS takes him where he needs to be.
He was out of options at the moment because he knew he couldn't leave. The TARDIS wouldn't let him leave just yet. The TARDIS simply did the one thing he never would. It forced him to be here so that he could say a heartfelt goodbye to his best friend before his death. So that he wouldn't carry the regret, guilt and pain inside him any longer.
Whether being here could rip a hole in the universe or not, he was going to accept that he was here for a reason. The TARDIS gave him a second chance by distracting him from his regeneration by bringing him here. He wasn't going to waste that chance.
The Doctor looked to both of his hands and was gladdened by the fact that the regeneration energy was not rushing out of him. He had time. But, how much time? The Doctor didn't know.
He wasn't even sure if he could talk to Donna without it leading her backdown memory lane and it destroying her.
He didn't want that. He assumed it was better to keep at a distance, but inwardly, the part of him that was her best friend took over. That bond and connection forced him to reach for his coat, put it on and rush out of the TARDIS.