The Doctor feels it when Jack comes back to life, the overwhelming sense of his presence slamming into him like a physical blow. Wrong, wrong. And at the worst possible moment.
He can feel him getting closer as he carries Rose back into the TARDIS and knows he has to hurry. No time to make her comfortable. I’m sorry, Jack, he thinks as he flicks the switches, sends his ship back into the vortex without a destination. For a moment the world is spinning before his eyes — the console, Rose lying on the floor — and the dim light burns into his eyes. Sorry.
Satellite 5 fades out of existence. Jack disappears.
He couldn’t have come with them anyway. The ship would not accept him, not like this, not anymore, and right now his mere presence is more than the Doctor can stand. He can already feel his body falling apart.
Jack has his vortex manipulator. He won’t be stuck there. Better to leave, no time for discussions. The Doctor has never been good with goodbyes.
So he runs.
Rose is stirring now, and then she stands up and then she talks, and oh, the pain, the sick feeling that comes with every cell of his body dying at once, but he grins at her, and speaks about Barcelona. Not the city, mind you.
The Time War ends, she said, brilliant, silly little girl. Never knowing what she’s doing. He looks down on his hands, lying on the console. The ship vibrating under his touch (It was you, wasn’t it?) and he feels something like gratitude, something like loss.
Only that the war hasn’t ended, not yet. It never will, not for him — he knew the moment he saw the Dalek ships on the screen and realised that everything has been in vain. The war will go on, until there’s no Dalek and no Time Lord left. There can be no survivors. As long as a single one of them lives it won’t end.
It can end now.
Rose is looking at him, confused now and a little frightened. He should have left her with Jack, Jack would have taken her home.
For he knows if he regenerates now, if he lives on, then the Time War will truly never end. He has learned to live with the loss and the guilt, but he doesn’t want to. Rose and Jack, they have helped to ease the pain, but they couldn’t make it go away. It will not fade with time, he knows that now. He will be caught in that moment, just before the end, just after, for the rest of his days.
He can not see his own future but right now he can see its shadow, colourless and cold.
And he tried so hard to forget, to see the colours and the life, surrounding himself with people he could love, but it is hard and he is tired. Now he is dying and it could end, if he lets it. The war would be over, like it should be.
It’s what he’s always done: Running. He’s good at that.
But can he do that to her, to Rose? Who’s done so much to save him, nearly threw away her own life? To Jack and Lynda and all the others who believed in him, even if he let them down?
He wants to. It would be so easy.
Can’t you do something? Rose asks him, so worried, so young. He makes his decision.
Yeah, he says.
I’m doing it now.
September 16, 2007
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