: The Void SpreadsGenre
: Gallifrey_ImmigrantWord Count
: Twelfth Doctor; PennyRating/Warnings
: References to character deathSpoilers
: Extremis, and the end of Lie Of The LandSummary
: The demons that have controlled the world have been defeated. And the Void spreads, with the Doctor as a blind witness.
A voice called out to the Doctor. He ignored it for a time.
The world was slowly deleting itself, now. Where the ground once was, a blackness had formed. The Doctor presumed it was black, but he couldn't sense it. It had been fed into the void, destroyed from non-existence. His footsteps carefully avoided the spreading darkness, although he wondered how it would feel. Screams from the uninitiated—the minds that hadn't been revealed to the Veritas—echoed all around the city walls. People marched around, but the Doctor couldn't see them.
The voice called louder.
Memories of all the battles the Doctor had won played in his mind. His sins—losing River, losing Amy and Rory, losing Gallifrey, and all the other losses—washed over him, falling down the back of his mind. Ironically, all he had to see now was his memories.
And Bill. Her final cry, as she was deleted from this world, stung.
Gunfire cracked in the distance. He didn't know what the conflict was, nor did he care. Let humanity squabble in their last moments. They were so good at it. When the void is coming, even violence can be an act of defiance.
He turned to the voice. It was familiar, but unknown. His mind rankled at it.
“Who are you?” he asked.
Someone's arms enveloped him. Soft lips kissed his cheek, and what felt like a bowtie rubbed his neck.
“I'm...” said the person. His face frowned, and she sighed, saying “My name is Oswald. This world is deleting itself. I don't know how to stop it.”
“It can't be stopped,” said the Doctor. He resented the resignation in his tone.
“That doesn't sound like you,” said the voice. It was playful and warm. But specks of fear mottled it.
It was a nice voice. The Doctor would have liked to know it better. But the void was growing faster and faster. He wanted to be in his TARDIS when the end occurred.
He kept on walking. Following senses born from instinct and experience, he found his ship. That ship had helped him through so much, had traveled alongside him, and was the perfect resting place. He opened the door, preparing to sleep.
“Hello?” said a voice.
“Who are you?” asked the Doctor. Was it an enemy? He was tired of enemies. So tired…
“I'm Penny. I'm looking for Bill,” said the voice. Ah, Bill's date. He had regretted interrupting that date.
“She's dead. As you will be, and so will I,” said the Doctor dryly. He didn't feel like sugarcoating.
The sounds of a human gasping came to his ears. He felt that there was something to say to her, some emotional nicety he might mention. But he wasn't made like that anymore, couldn't do that. There was no point.
“How did she die?” asked Penny.
“Deletion. As will everyone else. The Men in charge have been defeated. Now, entropy is taking its course. The universe is dying, getting ever closer to the black. All we can do now, is wait for the inevitable,” said the Doctor. His hands reached for a guitar, and strummed along.
“That's horrible,” said Penny.
No answer was required to that. The Doctor played some more. It was some old piece, about the death of God, but the Doctor had forgotten the name of it. He had forgotten quite a bit.
Finally, Penny got up. He knew she was preparing to leave.
“Bill liked you, I believe. I think that's the word for it,” said the Doctor.
“I liked her, I guess? I mean, I didn't know what it was I felt. And now, she's dead...and I...”
The Doctor whispered “If I had world enough and time.”
More silence. He could hear Penny's breathing, could feel Penny sorting through thoughts and feelings. Outside, the void was growing.
“How did you know her?” asked Penny.
“Close the TARDIS door, Penny. Or leave. Your family is outside, somewhere. Or have become the blackness. Go outside, and perish searching for them. Or stay,” said the Doctor.
“You're avoiding the question,” said Penny.
A smile crept over the Doctor's face. He placed down the guitar, and closed the TARDIS doors. Then he clicked a few buttons on the console.
“49 years. That is how long the simulation will last, until even the last speck will wither. That is how long you, or I, will survive here. About 1.5 billion seconds,” said the Doctor. Even in the simulation, he was a Time Lord. Even now, he could feel the seconds give out. In the time it would take to blink, the world would be over. And the Doctor could blink very fast.
“Oh god,” he heard Penny say. He said nothing in response to that, as well.
Revelations. That was the verse of the Apocalypse, when things were revealed. Unfortunately, the actual revelation had been less supernatural, and more existential. You do not exist. The Doctor never took his existence for granted. Except when he did, but that was a long time ago. He hadn't wanted to go back then, but he was different now. Except when he wasn't.
“Are we just going to give up?” asked Penny.
“That doesn't sound like you.”
The words bubbled up. Some part of his psyche clicked, some slight strand of defiance.
“No,” said the Doctor. An image of Katarina crossed into his mind. Or was that Amy he was seeing? Names, so troublesome. Even his name, originally just a placeholder, had become a burden. But, promises often were.
He suddenly turned around, and rushed in front of Penny. He heard her jump. Humans, so easily startled.
“Oh come on, now? The universe is always going to a heat death. I've always known that the universe would end eventually. But now we just have a timer. But besides that, there's no difference,” said the Doctor. Fear crept into his mind, assailed his confidence, but he ignored it.
“Really? That means I know when I'll longer exist,” said Penny. He could hear her tears.
“Yes. But you can either worry about it, or you can come with me. I can show you wonders. We can see the world, and the other worlds,” said the Doctor.
Penny didn't make a sound. Then, she said “Sorry, I just can't.”
She went up to leave. The Doctor grabbed her arm. What could he say? How could he get her to stay?
“Listen, there's nothing out there. The world is going black. There's another world, with another Bill. She'll find the other Penny, and she'll find the other Penny. It's...listen. I'm nothing without an audience. And...just one trip. Please,” said the Doctor.
“Why me?” asked Penny.
“Fate. Coincidence. And Bill liked you, so you must have been something special. Plus, it travels through time. This is heaven's gate. Just say yes,” said the Doctor.
It felt like his world hinged on her response. He didn't know what he would if she said no.
“I'm sorry,” she said, and she walked out.
The Doctor closed his eyes, and let the void he saw be his only companion.
The sound of the door opening and closing reverberated into his body, giving his body life. He pulled himself up, awaiting the next statement.
“You never told me how Bill knew you,” asked Penny.
The Doctor opened his eyes. And a shark grin spread across his face, and an almost malevolent stare focused on Penny. Gotcha.