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Title: Altered History: Prophecies and Pompeii
Genre: Doctor Who
Rating: T/M (violence, whump)
Author: tkel_paris
Summary: Sequel to “Altered History: The Runaway Bride”. The Doctor's getting the location wrong (again) lands him and Donna in Pompeii on Volcano Day. She's determined to save as many as possible, but for him the events bring back the nightmare that still haunts him. Donna is in for a lesson on the consequences of the Dark Times.
Disclaimer: Not mine. I only just got into Classic Who heavily in the last three years. This idea would've been unthinkable for me back in early 2014.
Dedication: My friends cassikat and hezikiah, who between them brought me to an appreciation for the Eighth Doctor. The rest was all my own doing. I also thank my beta, tardis_mole, whose impatience for this brought my muse to start writing right away. And... since I'm positive I wouldn't have had the idea without seeing him at Gallifrey One this year, the always delightful Paul McGann. Although I'm not sure I ever want him or any DW actor reading any fanfiction I write... Of course, if the next showrunner wants to bring Donna back then he or she can read them all they want for ideas. Just appreciate an acknowledgement in that case. ;)
Author's Note: If you haven't read “Altered History: The Runaway Bride”, go back and read it now. Then come back to this one. Otherwise you will be very confused.


Chapter One / Chapter Two / Chapter Three / Chapter Four / Chapter Five / Chapter Six / Chapter Seven / Chapter Eight / Chapter Nine


Altered History: Prophecies and Pompeii

Started March 20, 2017
Story unfinished as of start of posting
Finished September 25, 2017


Chapter Ten: Recovery and Reluctant Resilience

The Vaults of the Forbidden of All Gallifrey

Inside the TARDIS, the screen shut off just after the brief shaking stopped. Romana checked it as soon as she climbed to her feet. It would not turn back on, and she could feel the power constrict itself further.

“Doctor!” cried all of his companions as they rushed toward the doors, unwilling to wait any longer. Yet Ohila beat them to it and flung them open.

The four ran into the Vault, ignoring all the details that had held the Doctor's attention as he made it inside the deepest area.

“How is it so well lit?” Andred asked.

“Probably boosted it with his sonic screwdriver,” Romana speculated, for once breathless as her bypass seemed to have shut down.

They burst inside the Vault of the Forbidden Weapons and all sucked in a breath as their eyes took in the Doctor. The sight nearly made them stumble into stopping.

“Oh, Eternals!” breathed Andred.

“By Xoanon's grin!” Leela shouted.

Neither Romana nor Ohila could speak as they rushed to his side.

The Doctor looked like a horrendous wreck of his own self. His clothes were nearly gone and what was left was burnt to a crisp, stuck against his equally burnt skin. Even the Gallifreyan eye had trouble telling them apart. His once long hair was gone, leaving a scalp marred by at least second-degree burns. He barely had any hairs left on his face, and he looked so still that he seemed lifeless.

Yet the Keys were all undamaged. Given the ferocity of the battle not even Romana had been confident in the proclaimed indestructible items' collective ability to survive. To see that they were fine when her friend had not been protected as she had hoped made her feel like ice was flowing into her veins without her consent.

“He is not dead,” Ohila said as she knelt, drawing a flask from her satchel. “But he is fading fast.”

Romana, not sure what else to do, carefully drew the Sash off him as Ohila instructed Andred to carefully lift the Doctor's torso. It let her put it on, and she took the other items. Nothing happened outwardly.

“They just accepted you back?” Andred said, not wanting to focus on the sight of his wife's friend and his cousin so injured.

“Yes. They freed him the instant they sensed the Moment was no more. But at what cost?!”

“Did the Moment intend him to die as punishment for thwarting her plans?” asked Leela as Ohila carefully tipped the contents of the flask into the Doctor's mouth.

Ohila shook her head. “I believe that the Moment expected that this incarnation of the Doctor would be already dead, perhaps given a boost by my people to survive in the next body and find a way to end the Time War.”

“But that will no longer continue,” Romana said. “I can sense that it is over, that all the invasions have been swept aside. He needs medical aid. What are you giving him?”

“An elixer that will help him heal. He is dangerously close to death.”

“Final or a regeneration?”

“The Moment wanted to force what she had planned on the universe, so I believe she was trying to force a regeneration. But it will not happen.”

“All this can wait,” Leela declared. “He must be brought to a place where he can heal in peace.”

“Let us carry him carefully,” Andred agreed. “He deserves all the honours demanded towards a former Lord President, and then some.”

“I can pilot his TARDIS back to the medical buildings,” Romana said. “He will recover, although I fear he will never be the same.”

/=/=/=/=/=/

“It's been three weeks,” Andred whispered numbly.

The medics had rushed them the instant Romana, Andred, Leela, and Ohila had carried the Doctor out of the TARDIS. And he had been quickly taken off their hands. Through the viewing window they had watched as the medics carefully removed the ruins of his clothing so that his skin could repair itself, and had given him every boost they had to assist the healing process.

“I know,” Romana whispered. “No one has ever survived a coma lasting that long.”

“So we must expect him to die?” Leela demanded, unusually quiet. “Isn't there anything else that can be done?”

“He must heal himself now,” Ohila said. “And he shall live.”

Her presence was tolerated because Romana had made it clear that no one was to harm her. Word had slowly disseminated that the Karnaan had given the Doctor a warning. What Romana and Andred had reported seeing and hearing – as the TARDIS picked up the words, however she managed it – happen between the Doctor and the Moment confirmed that the danger had been real. Only after the Doctor had been brought to the Medical Center had the long-range scanners confirmed that a Dalek invasion had been coming, and they had had no clue.

“I never saw or heard of the High Council being so mortified,” Romana murmured. “It might have led them to retaliate until the Doctor's remaining family intervened. I had not expected even the Doctor's brother to act.”

“Why did they?” Leela asked. “Does it have anything to do with that prophecy suggesting that Time Lords and Karnaans are the same species?”

“I am grateful that you whispered that, Leela. Few on this planet are ready to hear it. But it has made me wonder if the Doctor knew it and even sensed kinship with Ohila. If he did then I am sure that his mother and brother would as well.”

“You are rather calm at the thought,” Ohila said, neither confirming nor denying the idea.

Romana winced at the implied and deserved criticism. “Prior to the realization that I was going off onto a mad course, I would have been shocked at the thought. Now I feel... fine about it.”

“Why is his family not here?” Leela questioned.

Andred cleared his throat. “They were for a time, but the wait is stressful. Braxietel chose to carry on his work with a new focus on finding any of the texts relating to prophecies and the Dark Ages that might have escaped the purging which Rassilon commanded. The Matriarch of Lungbarrow has found it difficult to accept that her youngest surviving son has risked himself so.”

“And I must prepare the High Council,” Romana said. “I do not relish the task, nor do I wish to leave my friend after what he has endured because of my actions.”

“It was not entirely your doing,” Ohila said. “The seeds were sown back in the Dark Ages. And you do not have to stay. I shall watch over him.”

“Do you not need us to remain with you?” Andred asked in disbelief.

“I will sit in vigil. No one shall interfere. You will be needed to prepare for the fallout.”

Her firmness of tone convinced them to leave without another word. She went into the room as the medics finished another round of checking on the Doctor and sat down. She watched silently as they focused on him and then they left without saying a word to her.

Ohila looked at the door and the window. Given how covered the Doctor was, someone had to come into the room to properly check on him. She waited for a few minutes to be certain, and then she acted.

She closed her eyes and silently cast a spell to ensure that the sight out the window would remain the same and that the monitors would also keep constant. That would cover what she planned.

Drawing a different flask from her satchel she opened it as she stood. She walked over to the Doctor's side. His skin looked normal now, but he remained as still as death.

“I know you have lost all hope, Doctor,” she whispered as she tipped the contents into his mouth. The Gallifreyan instincts allowed him to drink it all, just as before. “But the Universe and Time both need you. It is time to wake,” she urged as she removed the flask and put it away.

The Doctor started and opened his eyes slowly, wincing against the light. “I'm alive?”

“Yes.”

He blinked and moved his head towards the voice. “Ohila? Where are-?”

“You are in the highest security area of the Infirmary. Romana is going to speak to the High Council soon. Andred and Leela are off to prepare the Guard, or whatever else they feel a need to do.”

“Not bothering to use your sight?”

“I have more important things to focus on. Although you should know that your mother and brother have been here much of the time.”

He managed a hint of a tiny smile. “If they were both here, especially Braxitiel, I must have been very near a final death despite having five more lives.”

“Your mother was rather furious with you, risking yourself as you did. I had to explain why you did it. Only her instinctive sense of the truth kept her from lashing out at me.”

“What choice did I have? All I had left would have been lost, and I couldn't allow that. How badly was I injured?”

“Your clothes were so beyond repair that they had to be carefully removed from your burns, and your hair was so damaged that what didn't burn away fell out. It's only starting to grow back.”

Blinking, the Doctor reached up to feel his head. His eyes widened as his fingers registered the barely present strands. “Pazithi, I'm a skinhead.”

“Your brother wondered if now you would wear the cap of the family order,” she commented, barely hiding her amusement.

The Doctor's disgusted look spoke volumes, but he refused to dignify that with an answer. He pushed himself slowly upright, relieved that for all the unsteadiness he felt he was able to move to sitting on his own. “So it worked. And what did you just give me?”

“Yes, although I fear that the full consequences are yet to show in your timeline. I suspect you have been dreaming in mostly nightmares, uncertain what was real and what was not.”

He did not deny it. “Again, what did you give me?”

“Something to boost you. You were not waking when I know you were capable of doing so. You were hiding from the Universe because you did not want to face it again after being downtrodden again.”

He would not meet her eyes. “I've been in a healing coma for...?”

“Three weeks,” she answered.

“Then I've malingered long enough,” he declared. Then he noticed the monitors and frowned. “Why hasn't anyone come in to check on me?”

“I have blocked their ability to notice that anything has changed. No one shall check in on you for a while. Plenty of time for you to resume what you do best: saving others.”

He closed his eyes and looked away from her. “I don't know if I can.”

“If you remain here on Gallifrey there will be great damage done to the Universe, and your fellow Time Lords will find ways to keep you trapped here. I shall remain seated to keep them from sensing that anything has changed. You must go back out there and face your fears. It is the only way you will find that hope and joy that is so fundamental to your nature. It is the only way to heal.”

He shook his head, but accepted her help in getting off the bed. “I don't know about going on adventures, but I shall gladly take the escape you offer. Why do I feel like I avoided regenerating?”

“Because the Moment wanted you to, as punishment for stopping her plans. I gave you two elixirs. The first was to halt the regeneration and convert the energy into a healing coma. The second was to provide you with the jolt you needed to wake from it as you lacked the will to manage it on your own. But one day that first elixir will cease working and the regeneration will be inevitable. It will happen after yet another loss in your life: the loss of the person who shall encourage you to heal as close to your former self as is possible. A great person whose loss will be felt by all of Gallifrey.”

He listened, but frowned. “I don't like the sound of that. And why didn't she just go ahead and kill me?”

“I sense that she had plans for you, and wanted them to happen as closely as possible to the original timeline.”

“But she's gone, isn't she? I felt her vanish.”

“I wish I could be certain. Somehow I sense that we have not seen the last of her, and that frightens me.”

By then she had helped him to the TARDIS doors across the room. He opened them with the key that she somehow had in her hand. “Thank you.”

“Do not depart yet, Doctor,” Ohila commanded. “Before you leave for where the TARDIS originally intended taking you to go to before she got the distraction that started this whole mess, do not forget the item in your medical robes.”

He blinked as he noticed something in the front hidden pocket. He reached for it and blinked as he drew it out. “It looks like the Badge of Office of the Lord President. But a little different.”

“This is a new Badge. Romana forged it with the Powers of the Keys for former Lord Presidents. Specifically you and your future selves. This will always answer to you, yet command the protection power of Rassilon. If the Moment should attempt to meddle in your life, she believes that you will be protected at all times so long as you have it on your person. Your sonic screwdriver was also ruined, but I believe everything you had in your pockets is inside the TARDIS.”

The Doctor slowly closed his grip on the badge. “I question the need for this, but thank you, Ohila. I will thank Romana later, and return within minutes from your perspective. After all, I am your ticket home.”

They both knew that Karnaan could teleport themselves to a great extent. Yet it was certain that Gallifrey had protections against that given the Time Lords' distrust of the Karnaan.

“Yes, it will be easier to return to Karn with you taking me. Yet I believe I shall have a great deal of work to do here, to help heal the breach. Thank you, Doctor. For listening to an old woman.”

He nodded, this time with a small smile. “Not so old to me,” he said. He stepped inside, and closed the doors behind him.

Ohila stepped back to the chair and sat. She was pleased that the Doctor managed to leave without making his usual racket. It would help the charade remain a while longer. Yet the smile on her face was over the compliment paid by her kin.

/=/=/=/=/

After what felt like forever but was only about an hour, the Doctor reappeared in the Control Room. He had been in the Wardrobe, seeking something different. And he found it.

Gone was the Edwardian gentleman he once could have been called. Now his clothes were no nonsense and meant business. He had chosen a black leather jacket over a white jumper, and what he had heard called 'jeans' by his Human companions. They were in his size and seemed comfortable, and had the benefit of pockets he could use. The jacket had hidden pockets, but he would likely use them sparingly as he felt a need to button the jacket to almost completely cover the jumper. He still held the Badge, but tucked it into a jean pocket as he walked.

In his other hand he held a satchel by its brown strap, contemplating it. He had found it in the Wardropbe, but couldn't recall where it had come from originally. “All the things that could be so much easier to draw out if I carry this,” he mused. “Yes, this will do nicely.”

He had passed by all the things left by previous incarnations, once again baffled by the regrettable tastes they had. So he had to look at the sections they had previously ignored. Although perhaps he would look at the one area where his Sixth self had started to look before he got distracted. His hands had pushed through so many items, not feeling that any were right. At first he had been unable to figure out what he ought to be wearing. All he knew was that the colors he had favored felt wrong now. Previously he would not have fathomed wearing trousers like that. Now they seemed right. And they gave him direction in looking through the jumpers and jackets. And when he stumbled upon the satchel he did not put it aside like he once did.

On his walk he passed by a reflective surface. At last, he had a proper look at himself. He stilled at the sight of his nearly hairless face. He barely had a hint of eyelashes. His fingers brushed over where his eyebrows were struggling to grow back, and then over his head.

“Well, no one can accuse me of wearing a wig, now,” he muttered.

His face was healed, although he knew he appeared many years older by Human reckoning. “Naturally,” he thought aloud. “Anyone who came out of what I did looking just as they were should be considered suspect.”

He paused and took in the effect of his now barely there hair. “To think I sometimes wondered about what I would look like with this cut. I don't like it. I'll see how long it takes to grow, but I won't let it grow as long again. However long it takes, I won't keep this look.”

Within thirty seconds he was in the Vortex, and exhaled as he stared at the rotor. He listened to the familiar sounds of his ship, yet none of it could bring a smile to his face. “I'm glad you're still here, Old Girl. It's going to be just you and me for a while. I'm not ready for anyone to drop into my life.”

Then something sounded off about the rumbling in his head. He blinked. “What is it?”

He had a flash of the jolt the TARDIS took, and he sucked in a breath. “Oh, no! The Moment... she managed to imprint on you!” he whispered.

A noise faintly emerged from the rotor.

“Oh, no, you don't!” he exclaimed, holding up the Badge.

It quieted instantly, although not before a whimper of pain flickered in his mind.

He smiled in grim satisfaction, even though his fears were confirmed. The Old Girl was otherwise unharmed. “Remember!” he shouted. “I know you can hear me. Stay out of my way and leave my companions alone. I will find a way to deal with you in a final way... one day. This I vow with everything I still hold dear!”

The weight that hung over him felt like he was moving through treacle, but his mouth would not be silent. “I know what it is. It's the knowledge of what nearly was,” he said aloud. “Of what could still be if I'm not careful. Better be careful who I let in, who I take with me. The longer this me stays alive, the more your remaining power is lessened, and the easier it will be to deal with you. So know this, Moment: I will fight harder than ever to keep those I do run into alive!”

His shoulders relaxed slightly when there was no answer. So he could carry on.

Somehow.


Chapter Eleven: Aftermath of Destruction

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
bas_math_girl
Oct. 29th, 2017 11:19 pm (UTC)
So the Moment has now invaded the TARDIS like a bad smell? Poor Old Girl. It's a bit like being haunted.

The thought of the Doctor being so badly burned made me shudder. Thank goodness Ohila was able to make him heal rather than regenerate; although considering the pain he would have been in, I'm not sure which is the better option in the short term.
tkel_paris
Oct. 29th, 2017 11:33 pm (UTC)
If you think about it, it explains a lot about Rose and the whole of New Who. And why the Doctor made so many bad choices.

That part made me cringe. And is why I figured I had to pretend to flee after posting Chapter Eight. His lovely hair, and that skin all... *shudders* Anyway, no wonder he's got issues to work through and is even darker than he must've been after losing Lucie and Alex in canon, eh?

Oh, good question. Given that third-degree burns destroy nerve endings, his pain level might not be as bad as a regeneration would be. Although getting there would've been agony. Not surprising that he didn't want to wake.

Although it did lead to me getting to use the "wig" joke one last time in this series. That made me smile.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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