When all is at Stake...

Rose Tyler had all of time and space in her head, and in that brief time before it was emptied, she saw echoes of the Doctor's past lives... and his deepest regrets.

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1. Remembering what is Lost...

There he was. Different, new, yet the same. The leather jacket was gone, so was the gruff northern accent. In the place of the man she had called Doctor for nearly a year was a much skinnier man, a man with slightly more mischievous eyes, in a blue suit and loafers, with a cute mop of brown hair on his head. Yet though the eyes held more mayhem, they still held a touch of melancholy.

The Sycorax had been defeated, the TARDIS hummed with power, and Rose stood beside this strange yet brilliant man, this new Doctor, as he sprinted, almost manically, from one side of the controls to the other, flicking switches and pulling levers. They were almost uncontrollably falling through space and time, in a thrill ride like no other, and the Doctor turned those boyish  brown eyes on her as they shot across all of creation.

"So, lets see what's up next shall we?" He said.

"By all means." Rose smiled. "I can't..." The next thing she knew, a face flashed across her mind. One she had not seen before, yet it was familiar. There was a burst of light, a pang of deep, emotional pain...

"Rose? Rose!" The next thing she knew, the Doctor was looking down on her. Somehow she'd ended up on the floor.

"I,,, I uh... oooh my head..." She felt dizzy, strange. "It feels like... a bit like when the time vortex thingy was in my head."

Out came the sonic screwdriver. The little blue light blinked as it buzzed.

"I'm not picking up any residual time energy. You shouldn't... ah." He stopped, a thought having landed in his brain. "Well, I suppose it's not surprising." He said, more to himself than to Rose.

She propped herself up on her elbows. "What's not surprising?"

"Well, you had the entire history and future of the universe in your head. A human mind- any mind really- is meant to have that. It's no surprise there are after-effects."

"What do you mean, 'after-effects?' I am in danger?" Her voice grew ever-so-slightly higher.

"Hmm? Oh no no no no!" The Doctor seemed to scoff at the idea. "You're perfectly safe, all that energy is back in the TARDIS where it belongs, perfectly safe..."

Rose fixed the Doctor with her most serious look. "...but?"

The Doctor smiled wanly. "You might get little... echoes of history, or of the future, for a few days. Or weeks. To be honest, I have no idea." He offered Rose a hand and pulled her to her feet.

"That's encouraging." Replied Rose sarcastically, but she grinned all the same.

"Yeah well, just remember, it could have been a lot worse." He smiled back, then bounded back to the control station. The great glass tubes slid in and out of each other and made their now-familiar noises- the TARDIS continued her journey.

Rose could not shake the images from her mind.

"Doctor... for a second or two I saw something... I saw another you, another Doctor."

The Doctor didn't look up from the controls. "Well, that's because you did remember? The me before this me, the man I was before."

Rose shook her head. "No, I mean, I saw a different Doctor, two different Doctors in fact. They seemed both, well, older but younger, if that makes any sense."

Now the Doctor looked up, his face creased with worry. "What did you see?"

"I... I don't know, I just... there was a scarf, and... two wires... and then you were somewhere else, remembering those wires and wishing you could fix something."

The Doctor's eyes, that had only a few minutes earlier sparkled, looked full of reflection and sorrow.

"Those wires... what was I doing with them?"

"I think... I think you were holding them, one in each hand. You were about to touch them together... but you didn't. You felt you couldn't.""

The Doctor sighed. He walked slowly around the console. "Rose... I think the TARDIS, whether it chose to or whether by accident, showed you one of my darkest days."

"Doctor?" Rose was worried. She had never seen the Doctor look so pensive.

"You see Rose... you know that I destroyed the Daleks, and that when I did, I knew the Time Lords would die with them. I had no choice- all of creation was at stake. But I had a choice. I could have dealt the Daleks a fatal blow before they even came into being, and I didn't. I showed the most dangerous beings in the universe mercy... and look what it got me."

****

The chamber might have stretched forever, or it might have ended after a few feet. The walls were black and the only source of light seemed to come from the table itself. Several people sat around it, all but one wearing elaborate red robes with golden trim. One had a headpiece that seemed to spread out behind him, and he sat at the head of the table. He also looked full of rage.

"We have received word from the Jerquain Galaxy. The Daleks have begun their assault. Millions of ships, burning entire worlds. It is a massacre." The only woman at the table was speaking. Her old grey eyes looked at the only man clad in something different. His dark blue jacket was draped casually over the back of his chair, as was his bag. His white shirt was unbuttoned at the top and he look altogether relaxed- but he did not feel it.

"It's worse than that. Entire worlds are being erased. The Daleks are using temporal weapons to alter the course of history in several galaxies. New time streams impact our own every day." A dark-skinned man added his own news.

At the head of the table sat perhaps the universe's singularly most important person. He looked old, and was far older than he looked. Rassilon, President of Gallifrey, leader of the Time Lords, turned his gaze to the casually dressed man.

"So Doctor, it would seem the universe's greatest threat is moving directly against us."

"So it would seem." The Doctor replied calmly. Too calmly for Rassilon.

The leader of all Time Lords smashed his fists down upon the table, making all save the Doctor flinch.

"Yet the Daleks would not even be a threat, if someone at this table had not seen fit to spare them!"

The other Time Lords turned their eyes to the Doctor. Their looks were a mix of disappointment and anger. They blamed him.

"What I did..." The Doctor began slowly. "I did after great deliberation. I could not, and would not, play God. I acted with all the knowledge I had at the time."

His calm response seemed to infuriate Rassilon further.

"You were given specific orders Doctor. Orders you chose to ignore. Now the Daleks are moving not only in space but in time, striking at Time Lords whenever they can, and reshaping entire galaxies to their will. We will fight them; we are the only ones who can fight them- but because of your refusal to do as commanded, because of your morality, countless billions will not only die but never exist!"

He tried not to show it, but the Doctor was stung by Rassilon's words. The truth was, he was right. The Doctor had held in his hands the most remarkable opportunity, and he had let it pass him by.

"If I could relive that moment..."

"But you can't! None of us can return to that time for it is now a fixed point! Now we must send war TARDISES to all corners of the universe, placing yet more of us at risk, to try and undo the damage the Daleks are doing, and there is no guarantee we can! Their time travel technology is still in it's infancy, but their numbers are many and they have the initiative. We must strike at them as hard as we can, and this time we can afford no hesitations."

The female Time Lord spoke again. "Your TARDIS will be surrendered to us for a refit Doctor. You will be given a crew, weapons, and placed under military command. We expect each and every one of us to fight this most grave of threats."

This was unexpected, and most unwelcome.

"You are all well aware I do not require weapons to be a threat to the Daleks." The Doctor said, somewhat irritably. "I will not have you arm my TARDIS."

"It is not a request Doctor." Replied Rassilon. "You had your chance before to do what was requested of you and you failed. You will now atone for your failure. Or would you rather join the Master in oblivion?"

The Doctor shot a heated glance at Rassilon. "Is that a threat? Because you know how I respond to threats."

Rassilon's eyes mirrored the passion in the Doctor's. "No Doctor, it is a promise. Fail me again,and you will not have the chance to do so a third time. Every death Doctor, every erased world, is on your conscience, and I expect you to fight until your final breath to clean the guilt from your name."

"You chose the name 'Doctor' because you wanted to help people. Help your own people." Implored the female Time Lord.

"I... require some time." Replied the Doctor meekly.

"I trust you will make the correct decision Doctor. Until then, you are all dismissed." Rassilon rose from his chair, gave the Doctor one final, disapproving glare, and marched away, into the darkness.

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