Hour of Our Deaths by lurking_latinist



Summary: Peri knows this is an impossible choice for the Doctor.
Rating: All Ages
Categories: Sixth Doctor
Characters: Peri Brown, The Doctor (6th)
Genres: Angst, Drama, General
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: None
Published: 2022.03.27
Updated: 2022.03.27


Hour of Our Deaths by lurking_latinist
Chapter 1: Chapter 1
Author's Notes: Cross-posted on AO3.

“Choose one.”

Peri could hear her captor’s sadistic hiss quite clearly, even from within the vaporization bubble where she was tied up. She could see the Doctor, standing helplessly in the middle of the laboratory, and in the other vaporization bubble, across the room, the TARDIS that he’d so carelessly landed on this horrible station.

The deranged “experimental philosopher” explained—in disturbing detail—the situation he had set up. When he flipped a switch (and of course it was a big red lever, wasn’t it always?), the bubbles would begin inexorably shrinking, inevitably destroying whatever was inside. “Yes, even your extraordinary vehicle, Time Lord,” he gloated, “and how much more easily tender human flesh?”

Peri felt goosebumps rise all over her own human flesh when he said that.

“I will initiate collapse at the same moment for both bubbles,” announced the scientist, dispassionately. “If you are fast, you can remove something from one bubble before it collapses, but as you see, there is no way you can rescue both your vehicle and your companion. Should you select the vehicle, you may leave freely. Should you select the young lady, I will give you both passage to the planet below. In either case, rest assured you are contributing to our understanding of decision-making processes across species.”

The Doctor cursed and blustered and condemned the scientist, but Peri could see his eyes darting around the equipment, desperately looking for a way to stop the whole sick business. She watched eagerly for some signal. But she only saw that all-too-familiar look of despair forming in his eyes.

“I will now begin the countdown. Make your choice,” said the scientist. “Five.”

The Doctor looked stunned, like he’d just been struck. Then he braced his shoulders and lifted his chin, as if he’d decided.

She didn’t even know what she hoped he would pick. She desperately wanted him to save her, but she couldn’t even imagine him without his beloved TARDIS. Perhaps it was better to die than to be the one responsible for that loss.

“Four.”

He took a deep breath and sprinted across the laboratory.

Directly away from her.

So he’d chosen, then. And he’d chosen the TARDIS.

She hadn’t really expected anything else.

“Three.”

She felt almost disembodied already, numb with adrenaline and fear, as she watched him plunge into the shrinking bubble, scrabble at the TARDIS lock, and burst through the door.

Almost as soon as he got inside, the tell-tale screech of the TARDIS engines pierced the air, and it began to fade out of reality.

She hoped he would remember her fondly and not feel too guilty. Or, no—she hoped it would be the kind of guilt that drove him to save other lives. But knowing him, he’d probably just shut down instead.

“Two.”

What was the point in continuing the countdown? It wasn’t as if she couldn’t see the purple shimmer of the bubble, now just a few feet away from her.

From somewhere deep inside she began whispering: Hail Mary, full of grace—what came next? Her thoughts were spinning, slipping—Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners. Now and at the hour of our deaths.

“One.”

She could hear a dim roaring in her ears. Almost like the noise of the TARDIS.

No, it was the noise of the TARDIS. What was the Doctor doing? Coming back for revenge? What did he think he could do about anything now?

Now and at the hour of—

She braced herself for death.

And the console room faded into existence around her.

She was fairly sure this wasn’t what the afterlife looked like. Especially not with the Doctor bending intensely over the controls like a demented organist.

He punched a final button, then stood up. She ran into his arms and he held her tightly.

“Did you like my fancy flying?” he said over the top of her head.

“You came back for me,” she whispered into his chest.

“Of course I came back,” he said, rubbing her back gently. “I always will.”

“But—” she stuttered. “But he said— I thought you had to choose. I thought you chose her.”

“I know what he said,” the Doctor huffed, sounding almost more offended than angry. “You forget, Peri, and so did he: this is a time machine.”

“Oh, right,” she said, feeling stupid.

“I could’ve gone out dancing, joined an archaeological expedition, learned a language—and then come back to pick you up before the bubble collapsed,” he said.

“So, how long did it take you?” she asked.

“Oh, a month or so.”

“A month!” Did he expect her to be grateful that he’d just happened to think about her eventually? “A month! What were you doing? Sorting your sock drawer?”

He seemed honestly bewildered at her anger. “Doing the calculations,” he said. “Seconds too early and I’d create a paradox; seconds too late and you’d have been—” He didn’t say it, just hugged her again.

“Oh,” she said. A month, she thought. He’d spent a month working to save her life. “Well, thanks.”

“You’re quite welcome, my dear Perpugilliam.”

She made the same face she always did when he used her full name.

“But, mind you, you careless young lady, next time you get captured by a scheming villain—”

“What, you won’t rescue me?”

“No, I shall be quicker, I hope!”


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