He held it in one hand. Power. the Key to Time, the Key to Everything, the Right to every Wrong.
"We have the power to do anything we like," he told her.
"Absolute power over every particle in the universe. Everything that has ever existed and ever will exist. As from this moment — "
It washed over him, leaving a hiccup in his speech.
He could see everything
"Are you listening to me Romana?"
"Yes of course I'm listening..." she said, not listening.
"Because if you're not listening, I can make you listen."
But he would never do that.
"Because I can do anything."
He held all of the cards. He had the power. All power. He could set himself up as dictator of the universe if he wanted to, but he hadn't liked any of the dictators he had met during his lives; the majority of them being megalomaniacs and rather tiring.
He briefly enjoyed fantasies of being the owner of every jelly baby in existence, but decided that using the Key to Time to procure sweets would be a bit silly even for him.
He held in his hand the Right to every Wrong.
And the universe was full of so many wrongs. He saw all of them in a mind-numbing instant. His eyes flickered and his soul wavered. Darkness, a red spot approaching to block everything else out. Falling. He saw the war. He saw the death. He saw his planet burn. He looked at Romana-who-wasn't-listening, and saw her ashes floating in space.
He could force her to listen or he could save her life.
"As from this moment there's no such thing as free will in the entire universe. There's only my will because I possess the Key to Time."
She listened. She looked at him with concern.
"Doctor, are you all right?"
He was fine. He was better than fine: he was about to save the universe.
But did he have the right?
Gallifrey burned. He burned. She burned. Flames licked at the hand holding power. A button was before him. A choice: the universe or her? His scarf was suddenly too tight. He was choking. No. He was falling. He was lying crushed and she was somewhere else. Another dimension. No, she was in this dimension. She was president. No, he was president. She was ashes floating in space.
He wished he could float with her.
If he remained true to his goals and untainted by power he could wield The Key. It could be done. He could prevent every death and maintain free will. But the power was already burning his hand, singeing his nostrils, destroying his mind. If he could maintain control he could save her. Or cause the apocalypse.
Could he take that risk?
What are you? Killer or Coward?
Both this day.
"Well of course I'm all right..." he told her.
The universe would take its own path, as was its right, and so would she