eloriekam: (Doctor (Ten) Ood by jordansavas)
[personal profile] eloriekam
Title: Whispers from a Black Hole: Bright
Author: [personal profile] eloriekam/[livejournal.com profile] eloriekam
Rating: Teen
Disclaimer: I promise to return Ten to the BBC with only slight damage.
Word Count: 4700
Author's Notes: This fic is from ages ago. Ages. Seriously. Like, a thousand years internet time or something. It might even be my first DW fic kitten--I'm not sure. I was squeeing about something or other on someone's journal, I think... *does some research*, yep on [livejournal.com profile] who_in_whoville's LJ and I was talking to [livejournal.com profile] laialda. Somehow, my brain went, "oooh, let's do this with Ten and Jenny because telepathy!" Then, when I went to write it, my muse demanded more context, so before I knew it, I was following Ten's disjointed thoughts through the whole thing. And Ten can be pretty disjointed even without the snarky muse stops and starts.
Spoilers for and dialogue from The Doctor's Daughter; very strong hints at Journey's End events.


His hand hurt, but it wasn't nearly as distracting as he was making it out to be. He stared at the unit. Inside, probability and time and choices were growing, twining, reaching, fluxing.

'That's how I see the universe' he had told Donna, under Vesuvius. All that possibility, and choices closed off. Still changing, a little.

This was new. New and different, resolving oh so fast. Not like Jack, whose time-strands and probability were in constant flux and infinite, snapped back by the universe every so often, shatteringly bright and swirling, billions of strands that would stretch half the universe if he pulled on them.

No, not like Jack.

Ooh. Something shifted in the extrapolated mass of growing DNA. It tickled, just a little bit. Donna or Martha had asked him something, Martha gently taking his sampled hand in both of hers.

Not like Jack, and not like the Master. The pain when Yana had opened the watch, when he stood in front of the TARDIS as her windows glowed with regenerative energy... he had almost leapt, mentally, for the fully grown and trained mind of another Time Lord, and then twitched back, shuddering inside.

This was... a girl. Woman? Young woman. Still a little girlish, but he knew the machine hadn't simply extrapolated his DNA; it'd imprinted what it thought she needed to know for life. All those things he was forced into, she would regard as second nature.

This was... impossible, utterly impossible. Time Lord minds didn't grow like this. Not this fast. Couldn't possibly stay stable, couldn't resolve from another Time Lord's point of view. This group of potentials, it should hurt.

The tickling grew. Programmed to a be a soldier, but inquisitive. More inquisitive than by her youth alone. There was a distinct feeling of someone flailing about: not panicking, but trying to remember something. He watched, impossibility forcing him into observation. A little like Susan--and inside, he shuddered, gasped, and clamped down.

An elfin figure emerged, and, unbelievably, sought him out, curiosity still pushing at everything. There was a flicker of recognition, almost, in those just-formed eyes.

"She's my daughter," he finally gasped out, staring at the brilliant, impossible figure. Impossible to feel that again, just as impossible as Jack, back up and run away because that part of his brain was still and silent, like the darkness of his home system after everything burned. It used to be chattering, all those other Time Lords, so annoying, but he was all alone in his head because he had to be, he'd ended it, just as relentless as he could see his daughter could, would be, showing in the whippets of Time moving around her. So many choices, so many paths.

Impossible, run run run...

She moved, shifting to soldier mode, and some of her time-strands simply vanished. The inquisitiveness tickling at the world damped down. Just for a minute, brilliance and the scent of Time had been there, now dulled beyond recovery, hardly detectable even focused on her.

For a moment, he stood there, senses all tuned higher than he usually allowed, simply seeing. Rubble and fire, here. Martha choosing not to be ruthless. Donna...

He casually explained what had just formed his... genetic offspring. Only genetic.

Daughter of London... there is something on your back...

Oh Donna. Donna Noble...

So many of his people hadn't understood why he didn't look. It was what made them gods, after all. Time Lord... the ability to see, the ability and the right to change history. It was more fun not to look.

Really, it was more fun not to look. Well, usually...

The next thing he knew, Martha was more than a little scared as he and Donna tried to find some cover in the tunnel. His dau--the new female soldier was shooting just as vigorously as her compatriots, then leaving aside the gun for some swift kicks for a moment when they got too close. He checked one fallen soldier, tasting another planet's ash for a moment, thinking about the explosives on the wall and that there was a time and a place to destroy tunnels. This wasn't.

Naturally, she blew something up.

Cool, so cool now. Collateral damage, she'd said. The agony of worlds and galaxies ripped through him, all those twisted out of Time in the ultimate defense. Back and forth, undermining each other, traveling back in time to try and beat each other to the next world that would help one side, to destroy or protect, collateral damage redefined on a scale he hoped humans never understood. The power of Gallifrey running amok, trying to defend the universe, every universe, until they were bitterly driven back and the Nightmare Child ravaged and the Time Lords wanted to end it all...

The TARDIS pressed down on him, gently.

So very cool now. He thought he heard, for a moment, the echo of his two hearts.

Kind, kind Donna. Donna, don't, she's a soldier, she's of here, from here, made of that machine...

Jenny. From generated anomaly. Soldier. Female. Young, to facilitate staying in good physical condition over her pitifully short (even by human standards) lifespan. Shorter than average, for no good reason he could discern. Well, he'd been short before. And blonde. Why was she blonde? He'd only come out anywhere near blond a couple of times.

His words were biting. There was a gun there, and he really, really, wasn't a fan of guns or people with guns. Well, Ross had been all right. So had the Colonel, eventually.

Didn't matter. Jenny belonged here. That.... that didn't belong in his TARDIS. Never could, never would... not after the burning. Her words, that fighting and dying was all they knew, only confirmed it, balanced against the deep rising anger triggered by Cobb's words.

The Source, the Breath of Life... this planet was hopelessly lost to superstition, if less patriarchal than some. Donna had softened a bit, still thinking about the numbers.

Ohh, such a hypocrite he was, set off by the claimed equivalency of peace and genocide. "When you do, look up genocide. You'll see a little picture of me there and the caption will read 'Over my dead body!" Why, oh, why, what was he doing? Not a billion genocides prevented could bring back Gallifrey, let alone those beautiful, halcyon moments snapped from a lonely childhood.

Every time he saw the ruthlessness, the madness, that had led to a grave short exchange with Romana and running and fire.... too deeply immersed in all that death, he was. He knew it, and wondered if Cobb could see that he knew it, for all the accusations of pacifism. But Cobb and these other raw, gun-toting humans led on by legends (Ohh... the stuff of legends) didn't have to stay in death. It was just... frightened, impulsively violent, some deep memory telling them that winning always meant killing the other side.

Exasperation sparked from Donna. "I am not his woman!" But if it protected her, so soon after she'd had to step softly through the Sontaran ship, as he waited below.... but even as he protested too, no, of course it wouldn't protect her, but then again, Cobb clearly didn't know Donna.

No, no, Jenny belonged with the soldiers. She'd proven that already, but some reflex of old caught her protectively on the shove, and he thought of other imprisonments, of Susan tucked into his arms.

Hmm, prison cell. A bit makeshift, really, and he still had all his clothes. And the contents of his pockets.

He saw Jenny watching him as he thought aloud, and she sparked into that corner of his mind again, brilliant and sharp. "Isn't every soldier?" She kept... so many of her timelines had vanished, earlier, but now she was watching him and Donna again, strands and knots uncoiled, framing her like a flower (petals so elegant, curving, overlapping, pointed toward the deep heart) if he looked too closely. And he wouldn't look too closely. He'd been burned, standing too close too many times.

One moment, Donna was siding with Jenny on some point that he assumed was about Donna being human or both of them being female or some such incomprehensible thing, and trying to get him some more company in the TARDIS (Sometimes you need someone to stop you.... well, perhaps, but Jenny wouldn't stop him, she was caught up in her soldier programming and in her curiosity and admiration for her progenitor, and the competition of trying to prove who she was), and the next moment, it seemed, she was demanding his stethoscope. She wanted to prove something to him, but she didn't realize how excellent his hearing was, had forgotten he'd held that slender figure against him for a moment and felt the thrum he'd last experienced holding an obstinate foe in a dark bloodied suit. The remembered pain scraped down his mind again, bringing tears to his eyes, and he clamped his lips tightly together as he drew the stethoscope out of one pocket and handed it to her.

He stepped away, as though that would help him get away from all this. There was nowhere to run, in this awkward cobbled-together cell. Cobbled. Cobb... heh, no, nothing about this planet was amusing, especially not the two women facing each other. He'd passed so much on, but everything and everyone dies, goes away, withers, cut off in its prime. Elegant, growing strands singed him. He couldn't. He wouldn't, not again, oh please, not again.

She listened. Oh Donna. She didn't want him to be alone, knew anyone he travelled with would have a lifespan a fraction of his (except for Jack, but Donna and Jack were too dangerous a combination for words, particularly the flirting that would no doubt rampage through his ship!), and she wanted him to have someone he wouldn't lose. Jenny stood, uncomprehending (but close, she might be able to look and see and know), and he wondered what else she had besides the two hearts. How much would her traveling in the TARDIS help him from the loneliness Donna feared, really? He cracked open that corner of his mind a little more, wondering if the intensity of Jenny's time-chances were from him or because she'd been made so (too!) quickly or simply because any light was unbearably dazzling after darkness.

That small slim figure might be tall and brown-haired one day, or have dark blonde curls, or ginger curls, or... she might fade, wither and die.

Donna looked at him. "Come here. Listen. And then tell me where she belongs." Her determination boiled, prickling and biting, and he wondered if she'd unleash a slap for a refusal. Those uncertain potentials weighed on his mind as he stepped forward, knowing it was redundant, but also knowing that this was Donna and whatever else she was or would be or might do, she had room in her heart once she'd decided on something. Humans... immature and playing with fire and too quick to reach for a gun and so vengeful, but each and every one of them had a wellspring of love and compassion, potential too often untapped or corrupted, caring deep like the TARDIS' heart. Bigger on the inside, these quickly-burning human hearts.

"Two hearts," he said quietly, after listening for a moment, hearing closely what had faintly shot through him before, in the theatre. Her puzzled, trusting eyes sought his, waiting for acceptance, wanting it, wanting an anchor beyond the myth of the Source and the drive to win the fight. He stared at her. He'd known, but the thought of one of his people who existed to fight and die... that was abominable, like the Meanwhiles rampaging shadows in the dark. Like the ones who had been brought back, in their desperate insanity, and who in seeking to win the War had cascaded the madness ever further. And the thought of his family, the one he'd mostly run from so long ago... nothing, no one, could replace that, settle their (her) dazzling possibilities into the devastating blackness, worse than blackness, where those bonds had once connected and comforted.

"Exactly," Donna replied. She couldn't know, wouldn't if she knew... how deeply the knife twisted in him now, memory of Professor Yana turned to sharpest agony.

"What's going on?" Ah, so could he still equivocate, verbally squirm and run when he couldn't escape physically? How deeply buried was the knowledge? The threads of her possibilities looked longer, more deliberate than Martha's (but not Donna's, and he turned away again from this reminder of what would come), so was it just below the surface, waiting for description or sight to trigger it?

"What do you call a female Time Lord?" Donna had made the decision for him (hands resting together, ready to push; fingers pressing rapidly at cool metal).

"What's a Time Lord?" Burning bright curiosity, and he realized he couldn't lie, but memory of her violence, the purpose she thought was her only choice in life, seeped into his reply.

"It's who I am... it's where I'm from." Ashes...

"And I'm from you." He suddenly couldn't bear the excitement of someone else at the thought that being a Time Lord was actually a good thing, and his voice lashed out sharply.

"You're an echo, that's all. A Time Lord is so much more. A sum of knowledge." The Matrix, the whispers always in his mind, now gone to silence and worse than silence, drawing him slowly down with them. "A code. A shared history. A shared suffering." He knew he looked angry, and she shrank back a little as Donna eyed him with that look that said she was upset on Jenny's behalf and yet wanted to listen to what he could share of that echoing pain. "But it's gone now. All of it. Gone forever." He thought of describing it to Martha, sitting under New New York. Of Peri, standing in a ruined tunnel and saying 'This cinder we're standing on is all that's left of my world. Everything I knew.' The TARDIS brushed against him more clearly, breathed out, and he clamped down again.

Ahh, curious. How else could that ancient civilization have been destroyed, except through a war so unimaginably vast, so enormous the Messaline conflict wouldn't even be noted as a footnote of a footnote of a skirmish? A war in which, yes, he'd fought, and killed, and killed again, and held a burning endgame that he had thought at the time meant mutually assured destruction, not this painful locked-off existence where he was all alone, and always would be, no matter how many people were in the TARDIS, and the universe brought back the foe, but he had nothing except faint glimpses that ended in tortures subtle and gross...

"Then how are we different?" she asked of him plainly, but perhaps a little indignantly, not too unlike the reaction when he called one of his companions foolish and then they spotted something terribly essential that he had missed.

And for that he had no answer he could give her, for death and fighting and destruction had sunk into him bone-deep lifetimes ago. But the TARDIS lectured him wordlessly, and reminded him that she knew that he knew he'd been lost to detachment once he heard two hearts beating and felt the inquisitiveness. So they settled on an escape plan, and ran, as they always did, as he could teach a young one to do again in appreciation of the Universe.

She was still a soldier, though. What was he going to do with a soldier in his TARDIS? Well, another soldier. A young one, not a battered old warhorse (humans did have some interesting sayings) like himself, who had learned what killing did. How much would she, could she, think about her programming?

An ache rose in him when she decided to double back to give them more time against General Cobb's troops. She moved as if it was instinct for her, and he had to shut those beams off, he really did, but he stopped her and leaned down and looked at her with everything he had, all his fear she'd end up like him, wondering if she could see the Time War's echoes in his eyes.

"The killing, after a while... it infects you." His jaw clenched. He didn't want that for anyone... one of the roots of his hypocrisy on genocide. Back in the cell, she'd started to shine, thinking far beyond the programming of the machines, sparking to a greater potential, more than the sum of his DNA and a knowledge template, oh, far more. That deserved better than to be swallowed up in death. "And once it does, you're never rid of it." He thought of other Time Lords, turned to madness in Gallifrey's defense, of horrifying, horrible choices and eventual looped burning through the galaxies....

"We don't have a choice." That was the soldier talking. Where was the Gallifreyan, the Time Lord, the product of billions of years of stuffy philosophy and observation and peace?

"We always have a choice." She looked at him, seemed to hesitate a little, and resolved. He felt her fierce defense, and in a younger life might have been pleased, moved, to have a programmed soldier defend him for himself, not simply because of the tactical objective. Now it just hurt. He may have been a renegade, but he was still a Time Lord, a valued asset on the battlefied, and too many had.... Oh, it hurt.

"I'm sorry," she said, and turned away. He said that now, so often. He went back to work. Bitterness again, sharper this time for having the hope.

Yet hope bloomed terribly bright, as he listened from temporary safety.

Quick, quick, time, ahhh, Jenny, look, please just look!

Sharp indignation in answer to Cobb's growled plea that she was of them and their blood.

And she chose.

The words in her response were clear, even if the imagery was blurred. Not my blood, not my kin, for I see a watching world with an orange sky, set in constellation, powered by Omega's work, cruel and brilliant, haughty and treacherous, ancient and forever.

The strands glowed brighter, set afire.

This wasn't bitterness, but helplessness, same as he remembered from watching, before....during adventures and devastation. It went to his voice, to everything, and Donna might have moved closer.

Short-lived, oh, so short-lived, and what in the galaxy was she doing?!

Relatively simple spatial perception, combined with young reflexes and martial arts programming, give or take a sprinkling of superior Time Lord body on top, and she was standing in front of him, whole and grinning.

"Not impossible! Just a bit unlikely!"

A different kind of helplessness started gnawing at him with her words, oh so enthusiastic and loving and looking for approval. "General Cobb, I could have killed him, but I didn't. You were right. I had a choice!"

When he told her she was brilliant, he wasn't just, or even mostly, speaking of her athletic feat. He meant the choice, the memory, the move to delay, the swift impression of another mind yearning for unending mountains and the knowledge of the Universe, seated at the center of Time.

Their strands moved, curled, a few waving to interlink, winding around each other for a moment like an embrace, and even as General Cobb's obsession impinged on his perception, he sensed a low babbling start beyond the TARDIS. It felt like acid and the suns' rays and his firstborn's smile and the Schism... and it held more power than the Skasas Paradigm.

"D'you think Jenny will see any new worlds?" Donna's caught his attention again, and he blinks out of the sensations and smiles at his daughter as he agrees, hearing the soft sounds change tone, he still too wary, too scarred, to actively reach down and touch it all. Her reaction on the physical plane more than makes up for what he's sacrificed by his cowardice in that moment.

He follows her ahead, thinking, pondering, trying to guard her with nothing but air and hope. Thinking back to Cobb's fervent eyes, he feels some exasperation when Donna nudges in with a few comments and accidentally spears his hearts again. Keeping his mind ahead, he can almost think there's no pain in his voice. "Donna, I've been a father before." Her voice is low and shocked and almost guilty in response, as though she thinks she ought to have seen it in him before. "I lost all that a long time ago." This time, he's certain some of the pain is in his voice, spilling over and through but not easing the agony, like a dammed reservoir with an infinite source.... "the hole they left, the pain that filled it..."

The mother of each of his children... the children, almost too young for any potentials at first, then growing, their possible futures resolving, time strands opening and closing, probabilities shifting... then his children having children, the new families bringing in more possibilities, different possibilities, mostly him spending more time with the new ones than he had with his own children... a sometimes noisy jabbering in his head, one so beautiful to him now that he cursed every second he'd spent in annoyance and exasperation and wishing for quiet, all those lifetimes ago.

Expressive, this face. He felt the muscles spasming, trying not to cry, he didn't have time, he wouldn't, they had to reach the Source, as if ending this little war and rescuing Jenny would truly change the depth of the silence in his head, the part of him killed so violently that thinking of it was like ash and soot and blood.

Well, Donna's not-quite insult distracted him from that line of thinking. A little bit. Well, and it wasn't even an insult, really, more of a way of telling him that he didn't know everything just because he was a Time Lord. He almost did know everything, but that didn't tarnish the intent behind her words.

His daughter getting excited about running was a much better distraction. So was the running. And the narrow escape into the Temple, which was most definitely a spaceship, ahead of Cobb and his soldiers. A fully-functional spaceship... he wasn't quite expecting that.

Somewhere between reading about the cooperative colonization mission and the realization this war has lasted a week, he realized something else very, very important.

Jenny's not a soldier anymore. Oh, she still knows everything she knew when she stepped out, plus what she's learned in the last several hours, but she's not a soldier... yet frighteningly her timestrands are still burning, those curves and curls growing shorter, even as the babbling in his mind becomes clearer.

This wide area among the plants, the growth maintained by their mystical Source, by the terraforming globe... possibilities close to him end and twist here, trade for the settlement's probabilities growing. Conservation, always, to neither destroy nor create, but always destroying.

A small part of him takes the time to think that if General Cobb didn't know before that he'd been a soldier, the General must know now, after he shouts for them to hold their fire.

Hold long enough he can explain they can stop killing... but will they hold long enough that Jenny's burning time strands don't reach their fuse, that those glowing curves don't distort and warp?

Finally, in breaking something, he creates more... releasing the terraforming globe's potential, nearly as gorgeous as watching his daughter realize the possibilities of her birthright.

That brilliant, inquisitive mind again, exploring, yearning for more knowledge, as much as she can absorb.

His time changes, and so does hers, and if he hadn't been convinced she had so much of what a Time Lord was, he would have been now, because even in the midst of her excitement, she noticed something changing, about to change, and moved swiftly, and even as he reached for her (he could survive on one heart for a while, he would find a way, even with the bodily shock, he would, even better he ended than the alternative) that glowing brilliance was truncated, measured now in seconds, vengefully trimmed by a corrupted and frightened heart playing with fire.

He holds that bleeding double heartbeat again, and he does the only things he can do, as the TARDIS holds him too, trying to keep him from following that great and terrible darkness he's already blocking off that's about to be. About to be... he didn't see. He caresses her, trying to push love through his fingers before it all vanishes to pain again. He accepts her: daughter, Time Lord, fellow traveller, and promises the trips she ought to have had. He can see she knows that he's pleading with her to live, to stay so they can run.

Would that he now felt another fire, that of regeneration or one that holds more destruction.

She was like him, rebellious and bright and running and stepping before danger whether one life or one trillion lives were in the balance... so alike. It was only right they ended the same way. They had to, he couldn't... Faint strands fan out, haloing like her hair, but are they real or are they madness of loss? Stillness, nothing changing for all his pleading and holding, so again he is run through, part of what makes him a Time Lord condemned to howling darkness and madness, wounds ripped anew.

She had been a soldier. He was a soldier, spy, killer.

He hopes the man who couldn't stand for his one little war to end can see all those lives and a war beyond wars in his eyes, angry and betrayed and sad behind the barrel of a weapon he loathes.

The killing infected him long ago, but he still never would.

The strands are certain before they move her. He keeps watching, as sunlight comes into those windows for the very first time. Beautiful, all of it.

His daughter... he wasn't quite wrong, and Martha wasn't quite right. Like him this way, just enough, but a little... corrupted, changed from what it ought to be. He wants to wait, to delay their ceremony, to scoop her off the table as she opens her eyes in wonderment again, to see those worlds, to run... and in the same thought he knows he can't. They all intersect something: Jenny and Donna and Martha and and thinning walls and cracks opening and himself and others likely but not yet certain. He sees empty space that shouldn't be, space too crowded, floating planets, choices for life or death for the universe's sake, the unethical mad genius and his creations.

He shudders, seeing the possible true natures of the cage for Jenny's potential, not seeing the lack of a cage, except that so narrow even he hesitates to risk it, for other lines kink to cages with near-certainty and at least one other simply ends.

All for a tiny, tiny chance he can run with his daughter beyond that time, all for the immediate satisfaction of running with her now.

He again sees her moving between the gun and him, protecting one person, trading preservation. He looks at her timestrands again, all of theirs, and lets his physical eyes focus on her one last time, wondering what she might do next, certain she would be furious if he took her for the sake of travelling and ignored, trampled upon, the possibilities for his friends.

He has to trust that curiosity, those beautifully glowing possibilities, that potential, all the awareness she gained: knowledge of Time and madness and the beauty of the universes. The awful silence has to be worth it, the hurt spearing all that he is must be worth her potential.

Goodbye, he thinks, hoping it might help anchor her back to life, not daring to look if there's even a slight fraction of a chance they might meet again, and pushes off the wall. He needs to run before she awakes, or he won't be able to run.

The TARDIS breathes on his silent mind.

Now I'm too much like her.

Date: 2013-07-26 09:30 pm (UTC)
develish1: (Default)
From: [personal profile] develish1
erm.....

wow!

yeah, that's all I've got

Date: 2013-07-27 12:25 am (UTC)
develish1: (Default)
From: [personal profile] develish1
oh that was a good wow, really it was, I think this is really rather amazing :)

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