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Backwards in Time | Forwards in Time

Title: Black And White
Fandom:
Doctor Who (2007)
Characters: The Tenth Doctor
Prompt:
# 074 - Dark
Word Count: 3’085
Rating: T
Summary:
There’s a darkness aboard the TARDIS, something that shouldn’t be there. But unfortunately for the Doctor, extracting it will be a tad harder than he first thought. How do you extract darkness when it’s part of who you are?
Disclaimer:
I don’t own Doctor Who. Thank RTD and the BBC.
Author's Notes: Set post-LotTL, so spoilers ahoy! AU (Let’s pretend the whole ‘Titanic crashes into side of TARDIS’ thing never happened …) Two-parter ... or there abouts ... (grins)

OoOoOoOoOoO

1.

There’s a darkness, here.

I can feel it. I can sense it.

Something deep, something hidden. Shrouded in a veil of secrecy and coated by years’ worth of accumulated lies and false promises, it follows me, watching me from the shadows, waiting for the moment when I slip up, when it can finally unleash its evil and drag me down with it.

I can sense it.

But I can’t see it.

I begin to wonder if it’s not just tiredness and overwork screwing with my brain. If it’s not just the fact that I’m still trying to get used to being alone again that’s making me paranoid …

And as soon as I think that thought, the darkness vanishes.

Maybe it’s all in my head …

---------------------------------------------------------

I can’t ignore the fact that I hate this. The TARDIS, bless her, tries to provide comfort, and for the most part she succeeds. I don’t know what I’d do without her – I certainly wouldn’t have lasted all these centuries had she not been here to keep me sane. Well … sane-ish, anyway.

But even so, the loneliness is becoming more and more overbearing, the more people I lose.

And I know, I know for a fact, that as the loneliness grows, so too does the darkness inside me.

At first, I was naive enough to believe it was a physical manifestation. Y’know, a living thing. I mean, sensing things is what I do best, even if I do say so myself. My sense of imbalance is profoundly acknowledged – I can almost always tell when something isn’t right.

And I figured that, like every other time such an imbalance occurs, my unrest was being created by some nameless, faceless evil creature inside the TARDIS, bent on conquering some nameless, faceless planet or other in a vain attempt to secure personal glory and self satisfaction.

Wait, though …

Oh dear … nameless, faceless planet … that’s not like me. That’s not like me at all.

You see? My naivety made me search the TARDIS from top to bottom, from left to right and all of the diagonals in between, searching for something that could be responsible for the darkness I felt … but all the time, I was directly on top of my unease.

Because it’s me. The darkness that’s causing my teeth to ache so badly I want to pull them out, causing my skin to bristle constantly, causing the hairs on my arms to stand on end … it’s all coming from me.

Nothing in any Universe can ever be called nameless or faceless (well, unless the Wire is involved, in which case ‘faceless’ would pretty much fit the bill), and yet through my tiredness of fighting, through my reluctance to face the Universe alone again, I’m growing cold. I’m becoming reluctant to see the wonders of the worlds and blurt names out to innocent bystanders in a grand show of impeccable knowledge.

And I can no longer clearly distinguish the differences between good and evil. The barrier between the two is blurring.

Things aren’t black and white, anymore.

They never were, but I was too caught up in my need to travel and marvel and astound to notice. I praised myself on being one of a select minority who could always see the bigger picture but … really, I’ve been completely ignoring it for all these years.

The races I’ve wiped out, the planets I’ve destroyed, the homes I’ve demolished, the lives I’ve taken away … how many of them really deserved it?

Not even half of them.

So many innocents have been caught in the crossfire. And even those who were reverently evil … well, they’ll have had families and lives. They’ll have had some ‘good’ within them at some point. They may even have been acting on what they thought was best, on what their culture thought was the ‘right thing’.

I’ve run in headfirst, all guns blazing, reputation as being a Universal ‘cleanser’ plastered in big letters across my chest and the fate of an entire planet (usually Earth, for some reason) on my shoulders. And I haven’t even stopped to contemplate just how much right I really have to do it. How much right I have to kill one species in an attempt to protect another …

But I’m contemplating, now. Being alone in the Universe means I’ve got a lot of time to contemplate, and in fear of losing what’s left of my somewhat shaky sanity, contemplation’s about the only thing I can do.

Too bad it’s only serving to make things much, much worse.

As the realization that I don’t really have any right to play ‘God’ with the Universe finally hits home, the darkness continues to grow inside me.

And all I can think is that it’s penance for the trouble I’ve caused over the centuries, retribution for the deaths I’ve dished out and the lives I’ve torn to shreds.

The darkness grows inside me.

But I accept it.

I deserve it.

---------------------------------------------------------

Hmm, I stand corrected.

Isaid it wasn’t a physical manifestation, didn’t I? Yup, that’s exactly what I said.

Now I wish I’d kept my mouth clamped shut.

Standing here, staring up at the central column in nothing short of annoyance, I can no longer ignore the swirling black tendrils that are slowly coiling themselves around the support beams above it, inching closer and closer towards the walls on all sides.

I foresee that in approximately twenty-two and a half minutes, the ceiling will be completely covered.

And that is so not good.

Being the, pardon my language, ‘smart ass’ that everybody seems to think I am, I’ve just realised that I know what it is and how I have to get rid of it.

But that knowledge isn’t really going to do me much good.

I ‘bless’ed the TARDIS earlier on, didn’t I?

I take it back. She’s being mean, again.

I think she thinks that if my ‘darkness’ is a living thing, I’ll be able to tackle it like I do any other alien threat I find myself up against on a daily basis. And because she has so much faith in me, she believes that I’ll conquer it before it can completely consume her. I think I should be happy about that – she trusts me implicitly, see.

But the snag in her little plan is that to conquer that living darkness, I have to conquer the darkness inside me, and there’s absolutely no way I can do that without taking away a part of myself – something I swore I would never do, no matter how hard things get. I can’t take away my pain, no matter how much it hurts, because emotions and past experiences are what make us who we are. And to get rid of the darkness, I’d have to get rid of the things that have caused it – my memories of the people I’ve lost, the places I’ve destroyed, and the creatures I’ve annihilated.

And I simply can’t do that.

Glancing sky-wards, I have to admit that my ‘twenty-two and a half minutes’ prediction is a little too generous. Perhaps I should have said fifteen.

Great. In fifteen minutes’ time, the TARDIS is going to be little more than an amalgam of my internal darkness, forever lost to a blackness that I myself have brought on. And there’s absolutely nothing I can do to stop it.

I think we’re doomed, old girl.

OoOoOoOoOoO

2.

I wonder what death feels like.

I mean … y’know, true death, not regeneration. Will it be quick? Will it painless? Will there be the predicted endless tunnel of light, lined by loved ones, a tunnel of light so warm and inviting that you simply can’t wait to follow it?

Yes, I know. ‘You’re being morbid’, I hear you cry. But what else is a guy to do when he’s inadvertently doomed not only himself but his best friend in the whole Universe, too? I should probably be blaming the TARDIS for this sticky situation, but I just can’t. She’s my responsibility – which automatically makes it my fault, anyway, - and I know that she was only trying to help me. And that means more to me than I can ever say.

But regardless of whether I forgive her or not, there’s still that tiny, little problem involving almost-certain death on our parts …

Any ideas? Anyone? … No?

I thought not.

---------------------------------------------------------

I think we’re down to ten minutes and eleven seconds, now. Make that nine seconds. Eight … seven … six … five …

Oh, what the Hell am I doing ?!

This isn’t me! I don’t give up at the first hurdle! Never have, never will! I think it’s time for a bit of motivational speaking, something that I’m usually quite good at. Admittedly, this isn’t the time for, pardon the crude imagery, blowing my own trumpet … heh, classic ‘Human’, that … but what the hey? It’s making me feel better, knowing I haven’t completely lost it. Yet.

If, indeed, I ever had it, o’course …

But I’m sliding off track again, and the existence of my marbles is neither here nor there. My apologies. My mind’s too complex for even me to follow, sometimes.

So, where was I, again? Oh, that’s right – motivational speaking.

Let’s start with the classic, ‘you can do it!’ phrase. That usually helps. Or perhaps, ‘nothing’s impossible!’, or my personal favourite, ‘there’s no such thing as ‘can’t!’.

… …

I think I’ve been hanging around on Earth for far too long.

---------------------------------------------------------

But ... oh dear. When I said I wanted motivational speaking, I was kinda hoping I could skip the ‘recollecting’ that usually comes along with it. But no. I hadto go and say it, didn’t I? ‘I’ve been hanging around on Earth for far too long!’ Why did I have to say that? Now I’m thinking again. And that’s so way beyond not good.

Earth …

Rose …

Martha …

Jack …

Rassilon, I miss ‘em.

I’ve been so caught up in my self-berating that I’ve forgotten what upset me in the first place. Forgotten what really matters.

And the fact of the matter is … I miss them. I miss the company. I miss the joy and wonder each new companion brings into the TARDIS with them, making every single new discovery as remarkable as they were the first time I myself discovered them.

I just miss them, I guess. Miss everything about them.

Things are so quiet, now. And I don’t just mean aboard the TARDIS. I mean for me, as well. Everything’s too … too slow, too safe, too quiet without them around. And I don’t like it, I really, really don’t like it.

But what can I do? Jack’s got his responsibilities and I could never ask him to abandon his team, his friends. Heh, never thought I’d see the day when Captain Jack Harkness, ultimate flirt of the Universe actually decided to ‘settle down’ and play the devoted hero. Living a day-to-day life just seems so … so not Jack. But he’s doing a terrific job, I’ll grant him that, and I s’pose that’s all I can really ask of him, in the end.

Then there’s Martha. Dear girl. I’m completely amazed by her. She can read me in ways that are so foreign, see things that even I myself am blind to. And a sharper, young mind would you scarcely find anywhere else. But she, too, has her responsibilities, hers revolving more around a personal goal to become the best at what she loves, rather than to save the Universe. Though, of course, she kind of is saving the Universe anyway, in her own little way. It’s hard to be a Doctor, and she understood that, I think. She was right to get out when she did, and I can only love her more for having the common sense to do what was best for her.

And then that just leaves ...

Well, I don’t know what to say, to be honest. I just don’t have the foggiest. I can think of nothing, no word or phrase in the ultimate ‘Universal’ dictionary, in any existing language that could possibly even come close to describing her. She was Rose. That was it. Everything about her was so ‘Rose’. And I’m never going to see her again. Never going to have a chance to say the things that I couldn’t but should have said.

That thought hurts so much more than I could ever describe, but I think the TARDIS understands. She’s humming and buzzing and blinking and winking away around me, completely oblivious to the blackness inching its way hungrily down the walls on all sides.

She must have a lot of faith in me to let it get this far. Too bad her faith is going to kill us both.

---------------------------------------------------------

Three minutes.

Three measly, miserable minutes to come up with a non-existent solution to this alliteratively pesky predicament.

I’m torn between the ever-growing darkness that’s telling me I might as well give up now, and the stubborn, hot-headed intelligence that’s reminding me I can do this. But who to believe … ?

I wish I knew.

My reputation as a super-genius should really be kicking into action, right about now. I can’t understand why it hasn’t. But there’s still time ... still time for me to fix this ... right?

---------------------------------------------------------

Two minutes …

Damnit, Doctor, think! This isn’t right! Why are you just sitting here waiting for it to happen ?! What’s the point in staring aimlessly into space ?! Why are you giving in without a fight ?!

Oh, but come to think of it … I already know the answers to those questions. I know too well why I’m not fighting, why I’m giving in and waiting for the inevitable. The darkness inside of me wants me to believe that there’s nothing to fight for, anymore.

And as much as I loathe to admit it … it does have a point.

No matter how quickly and spontaneously my thoughts wander, they can never stray far from the fact that I’m alone, again.

And that’s what it comes down to.

That’s what it will always come down to, in the end. The fact that I can’t take the losses anymore, can’t take facing the dangers alone. So it would be so much easier to simply give in to this and end it all now. Why should I have to suffer for the rest of my lives, meeting new people and growing to love them only to see them leave in the end for bigger, better things? Why should I have to endure so much pain just to keep myself busy? Why bother?

A small smile inches its way onto my lips just when I thought I would never smile again.

Because I know the answer to those questions, as well.

Why bother, I asked myself?

Simple.

Because I can.

Because there’s a Universe out there that needs me.

And because I wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t a martyr.

I already know for a fact that I’m going to continue travelling, no matter what the darkness thinks, because it’s all I’ve ever known. And I also know for a fact that I’m going to find new people, invite new companions into the TARDIS and new friends into my hearts because I couldn’t survive if I didn’t. And I know that it’s going to hurt, oh yes, it’s going to hurt unimaginably so when they go, just as it has on every previous occasion up to now.

But I’m going to go on and do it again, anyway.

Because I have to.

---------------------------------------------------------

I’m suddenly furious with myself for the fact that it took fourteen minutes and thirty-nine seconds to realise the truth. Fourteen minutes and thirty-nine seconds of my life, wasted, spent with me morbidly dwelling on the darker side of my existence when really I should have been celebrating the right side. I’m furious with myself for forgetting my purpose, for letting my mind wander to places I can’t even bare to consider, now. Places that should have been unthinkable.

But most of all, I’m furious with myself for forgetting them. The darkness only prospered because I was forgetting the light they brought with them into the TARDIS when they first arrived, the light that they gave to me. The light that I should have cherished but instead let become consumed by my own self-berating. My own darkness.

Not anymore, though.

How about that? My companions aren’t even here and they’ve helped me more today than any of them could have ever believed possible.

Along a similar line of thought, it doesn’t really come as much of a surprise to me when I glance sky-wards just in time to see the last tendrils of darkness vanish into nothingness, quite obviously the TARDIS’ doing. It’s quite remarkable, really. I was so worked up about how to save us both, but in the end all I really had to do was search inside myself for the light. Had the TARDIS not given me a time-limit, I might never have had the courage to dig that deep, to move on from the losses I've faced over the years and forgive those who’ve left for doing just that. But thanks to her, I have. She, too, has helped me more today than she’s ever helped me before.

She truly is the most wonderful being I’ve ever encountered.

And it delights me to see the winking of her lights that signifies her flattered gratitude. I do wish she’d take a compliment, though I suppose it’s only natural that she’s as uncomfortable with the ‘mushy’ stuff as I am. Two of a kind, we are.

Which is why I know that she, like me, thinks it’s a little bit too lonely around here. Too dark.

We should fix that, old girl.

Question is … do we want another human friend? If we’re looking for homo sapiens, there’s only one planet really to visit.

We’d better make it a nice, bright, light, happy day on Earth, though. Don’t want to give that diminished darkness of mine a reason to return with a vengeance now, do we?

Hmm ... light, bright and happy ... what d'you think? Christmas Eve should be good. I like the sound of Christmas Eve …

OoOoOoOoOoO


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