(A little Doctor Who piece - only 700 words - set just before the last scene in the season two finale: "Doomsday." Spoilers, Will Robinson!")


Once More Unto The Breach
by Beth H
June 2006

It would probably create a temporal paradox, but what good was being a Time Lord if you couldn't sort out a temporal paradox or two?

It was a simple matter to reverse the polarity of the neutron flow in the TARDIS. A minor re-alignment here, a tweak there, and voila! Child's play, really, he thought. Little more than rocket science, if that.

The Doctor set the controls, took a deep breath, and then he was off, heading backwards towards a time before the breach was sealed.

Before she was lost to him forever.

***

There was a strong, wholly incongruous, smell of ozone, just before he felt the TARDIS hit...whatever it was. Warning lights flashed and klaxons blared in the control room, and he wished - not for the first time - that he had remembered to move the Off switch to a more accessible location.

What he remembered most clearly as he was thrown to the floor was thinking that perhaps this particular time shift hadn't been quite so easily managed after all.

***

What he remembered most clearly about coming to for the first time was the shape of the teeth in his mouth. Odd, what things you remember.

***

What he remembered most clearly about coming to for the second time was the softness of the duvet that covered him.

"Rose?" His voice sounded strange and alien to his own ears. "Are you all right?"

He could feel a cool hand press gently on his forehead.

"Back with us then, are you?" she said, and her voice sounded as strange as his had sounded.

The Doctor opened his eyes, just a crack, just long enough to see blonde hair and a powder blue jumper, before letting his eyes close.

"I thought you weren't going to," she said, sounding a little chastening, as if he shouldn't have come to and proven her wrong. "But Rose said...."

Not Rose, then. He opened his eyes again - it hurt less, this time - and Jackie was shaking her head.

"She said you were that stubborn."

"Where is...."

"Go back to sleep, Doctor," Jackie said.

***

The murmur of voices beside his bed - beside Rose's bed - woke him the next time. He could tell the two men were trying to keep quiet, trying not to disturb his sleep, but he'd been sleeping long enough.

"...be ridiculous, Mickey. Haven't you ever heard the expression 'if wishes were horses, then beggars would ride?'"

The Doctor kept his eyes shut, but he recognized Mickey's laugh.

"That's why I've got a motor instead of a horse, Pete. Anyway, that's not the point, is it? This isn't about what Rose wants."

"I suppose you're going to tell me it's what he wants? How would you know that?"

"Because it's what I'd want, no matter what."

"No matter what?"

"That's what I just said, didn't I?"

He wanted to tell Mickey he was wrong, even though he wasn't quite sure what Mickey was talking about. He wanted to tell him they had nothing in common, but his mouth was too dry to speak.

And besides, he would have been lying.

"Oi, I think he moved."

"Yeah, you could be right," said Pete's voice. "Oh, look...see there? I think his eyelash just fluttered a bit."

***

"I knew you'd wake up," Rose said softly.

The Doctor smiled. She wasn't crying...at least, she didn't sound as if she was.

"I knew you wouldn't go without saying goodbye."

He could feel his smile start to fade away.

"You wouldn't, would you, Doctor?" said Rose. "Doctor?"

***

The Doctor raised his head from the floor and opened his eyes.

No, neither of them could cross the breach again, no matter how much they might wish otherwise. It would create a temporal paradox and probably an irreversible one at that.

At best, it would probably destroy the space-time vortex.

And at worst?

The worst didn't bear thinking about.

He looked back at his calculations. There was one tiny little gap in the universe left. It would take a lot of power, but maybe if he could get into orbit around a supernova, he could send a projection...

This time, at least he would say goodbye.

********

Chit chat, Critiques, Gratuitous Praise: beth-h (at) mrks.org

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