Of all the times to stand by and do nothing, I had to choose this one? Gallifrey would be proud. Proud that I've rid them of such a disruptive presence- no if I could just be a good little boy and excise myself as well, their closed little minds would be at peace.
The Doctor stood by his console, staring at it blankly. The TARDIS hummed around him, trying to comfort him with her hum but to no avail. He'd sent Peri to bed, exhausted after her long day. They'd all had such a long, long day.
Adric, Nyssa, Tegan, Turlough and now him. I can't believe he's gone. Literally- every time ugly, brutal reality tried to force itself on my mind, my thoughts slip away to other things.
Brutal. Ugly. I suppose both those words can be used to describe me, now. I can't blame reality for reflecting my own actions, can I now? Try as I might to justify it, it was my finger on that button. I sent him into flames. I k-
I can't. I can't even think it. He's not gone.
The TARDIS felt painfully empty. He'd grown used to at least two more people breathing in there with him, to what his other incarnations might call a crowd. He enjoyed the crowd.
If Tegan or Turlough'd stayed, they'd have understood me now. But they didn't. They never stay. They're right.
I'm glad Peri didn't see me do it. It would've made a terrible first impression.
The chuckle that thought forced out of him was bitter, painful. A touch hysterical.
I'm 750 years old. I should be mature enough to be able to think it. I should even be able to say it out loud.
"He's dead and I killed him."
His own voice bounced at him from the white walls, and he blinked. Had he really just said that?
I pressed the button and doomed the Master to the death he'd been trying to drive me to for the past 500 years or so. Me. Not anybody else, not some fluke of reality, not his own hand. My hand. For centuries we've had this challenge between us, of who'd do it first. I imagine he never thought I'd win. I never thought it either.
I can't do this.
He hurtled down the TARDIS corridor, banging into walls as he went without noticing it. Coming to a stop in front of an empty wall, he pressed his hands against it, rested his forehead on the cool, smooth surface. He could smell the barest hint of roses.
I can wish for a Zero Room all I want, but there isn't one. Not even a cabinet, we left it behind. I can't think straight. I can't live with this. I can't-
I can hear him, in my mind. Laughing, at the Academy, when we were both different people.
"Do you really think you could ever kill someone, Koschei?"
"I suppose, if I had to. But Time Lords don't believe in killing."
"Not unless it serves their purposes."
"You're a cynic, Theta. It's unbecoming."
"But I'm right."
"That's unbecoming, too."
We were friends. Best friends, thrown together. He never believed I'd be able to kill anybody. I wonder if he was surprised.
He never believed I'd be able to kill. I never believed he'd beg for his life.
I suppose it was a surprising day for all involved, then.
I should think about other things. Worry about Tegan, or Turlough, or this new presence on the TARDIS with her accent and her attitude. I should feel terrible that Kmelion had to pay the ultimate price for my need for revenge.
I can't feel anything. There's only emptiness where a constant threat has lurked for longer than I care to contemplate. There's…pain. I've lost too much in too little time to take it all in.
He was on the floor, slumped against the wall, fingers tracing it, yearned for even a drop of Zero energy. Anything that would make it all go away.
I set him on fire. And I watched while he threatened and begged. And screamed.
I wonder if the TARDIS can make me forget that. Am I a terrible person for wanting to forget?
I'm not a terrible person. I try, so hard, to do good. To help. Not to use my power to hurt. Only a terrible person would've done what I did. Gallifreyan doesn't have a word for the murder of one's former best friend and current arch-enemy. Other languages do. Languages of barbaric, brutal, ugly people.
Brutal and ugly, that's me now. It's what I have to become, to live with what I've done. Actions shape the man…I suppose they shape the Time Lord, too.
Poor Peri. Maybe I can convince her to leave before it happens. I can't imagine I'll be good company. Come to think of it, I'm terrible company already.
He walked again. Peri was breathing calmly in the room he'd given her. He moved on, stopping to glance into the room Nyssa and Tegan had shared. It still held most of their belongings, Nyssa's packed away neatly by Tegan, and Tegan's own things only slightly less neat. Turlough's doing, probably. The Trion's room was next, now filled with books and a few watercolor sketches where it'd once been filled with logic puzzles, artifacts and computer pads. Adric's room, once.
His eyes misted over and he blinked hard and moved on.
Have to leave the past behind. Have to change. The opportunity will come, sooner rather than later if I know myself. I'll die, and be reborn as someone who can live with myself, as I can't.
Finally, he stopped in front of a full sized mirror, looking at himself.
Too soft. Too pale. Deceptive. People expect more from me. I expect more from myself. It's never enough.
I killed him. I didn't just let him die, I made him die. And he won't regenerate.
"You'll never win, Doctor. You're too idealistic."
Does it count as self defense if I kill him before he kills me? Am I reduced to human rationalizations now? There's no point rationalizing. It won't bring him back.
I won't bring me back, either. Not the old me. Not the one they saw. I'm a new me now, the kind that kills in cold blood. The kind that watches and does nothing. The kind who lets his best friend and worst enemy beg for his life, in vain. Cold. Ugly. Brutal. So I must be.
By the time Peri woke up, he was in the console room again, pressing buttons as calmly as ever. He was kind to her, explained things as best he could, tried to make her feel at home. He was rather glad she was nothing like any of the others. It made it much easier to forget.
When the time came, he remembered, and he changed. Now, he was someone new. Harder, brighter, harsher. The sort who could kill in cold blood, and not have it be a surprise to people.
It didn't make things any easier, but it made him care less. For a very long time, it was enough.