There are people everywhere. People who aren’t people. People who walk, talk and act as one. Like the child. The empty child. He feels the wall behind him, feels Rose’s heartbeat rocket in fear and the Captain — Captain? he thinks. Really? — trying his best to be brave. But there is no one to help them now. There is no escape. There is just the monotonous drone of the army that never stops. Identical, all of them. How can that be? It doesn’t make sense! What sort of idiot, alien, threat would do this? There’s no point, no gain.
Despite himself, the Doctor feels fear rise within himself. There is nothing he can do. Touch them, or be touched by them, and become like them. Dead. No, worse than dead — empty. Forced to live for eternity in the mind of a scared little boy who can’t find his mummy. He has a strong feeling that regeneration will not be able to save him this time.
What about Rose? He has been in tougher fixes, but there has always been the prospect of death. This is different. This is just... wrong. What about when she wandered off earlier? What if she’d died then? What if one of these... these... people had got to her, and he’d turned up and she was —
No, he will not think these thoughts now. He blocks out the time line from his head, the possibility of Rose becoming just like them. It goes against all his laws. He won’t let it happen. She is bright, intelligent, funny — full of life. To become one in a army of zombies, all identical... well, it’s a fate worse than death. It doesn’t suit her, doesn’t fit her, doesn’t honour the wonderful person that she is. If she dies with him, he promises himself for the infinite time, it will be heroic. It will mean something. It will be saving the world. It will be together.
Words find him from long ago, of a situation not too dissimilar to this.
We’ll go down fighting, yeah? Together?
Oh, she has no idea. He’ll go down fighting just to keep her alive. He shields himself in front of her, making sure that — just in case Harkness manages to find some escape route — that they may have a chance of a escape. It’s impossible, he knows it is. There is no hope. No escape. There is a wall behind them that he can’t break through. He’s going to die in some run-down hospital and it’s suddenly far too soon to be the end.
It can’t end. Not like this. Even if he’s with Rose, even if they get to stay with each other for ever and ever and ever, this is just a curse. It’s not even life. It’s not even half life. It’s not existence, survival, promise. It’s just cells, held together miraculously with not enough human left in them to do anything about it.
When he prayed to the universe, in an abstract way, that Rose and he could stay together infinitely, this is not what he had in mind. Be careful what you wish for.
Oh, the last time lord, always in such a hurry to grow up. Left outside in the cold. Lost everyone. Now he is doomed to spend the rest of his life a child, a hysterical child whose only goal in life is to find the one person he just can’t have. The one person who brings more to his life than should ever be healthy or right for a Time Lord.
Well, once upon a time.
Now he has others. Now he has Rose.
And she’s going down with him. Oh gods, what about her life? What about everything he has promised to show her, all the places he has made a list of that she will just love? What about the rest of their ever after? What about all those times of ‘could have’ and ‘should have’? The ones he hasn’t lived yet but wish to, right now, stronger than anything else he has ever wished in his life.
The manifestation of a child, of lots of children, and there’s nothing he can do. He can’t protect Rose. He can’t even protect Jack, the stupid con-man who is more involved with this situation than he’s letting on. Perhaps more than he knows. People don’t just wake up from the dead and transfer their DNA. People don’t just mutate into gas-masks. They just don’t.
Which means that something’s going on.
And now, bloody hell, the crowds are squeezing in so tightly he’s going to have trouble breathing if he’s not careful. Then again, he’s going to have trouble doing a lot more than that once those things get a hold of him. If only he knew what to do. If only he could somehow stop them, burn them, just get rid of them. He isn’t usually a violent man — passive whenever he can be.
But right now, he just wants the victims in front of him to burn up and leave him and Rose safe. And possibly Jack too, considering her attachment to him. She’s only known him a few hours and already she’s smitten. He can sense she is, can tell from her tiniest motions and chemical reactions. If he concentrates, perhaps the ‘Captain’ feels the same way. Perhaps she’ll leave and they’ll go off and get married, and have lots of babies and kids that they can boss around, and —
Lord help him, he’s about to die and he’s jealous that Rose is going to swan off and leave him, for an American no less. What does she do to him?
Then it hits him. Children. Mothers. That’s it!
Rose would make a fantastic mother. She’s got a slight mouth on her, knows how to handle anyone who threatens her. Especially children. Got to put them in their place, so they know where they stand.
He’s thinking now, his mind fully on getting them out of here. Forget everything else, he’s tense, rigid; but thinking.
Good discipline. That’s all you need. He begs that he’s right, begs that this, somehow, works. Because if it doesn’t, they’re not exactly going to be the best last words, are they?
He braces, stares around at the army of dead coming towards him.
Then he tells them.
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