It was the smell that hit them first.
Death. Decay. The inevitable ending of flesh. It surrounded the Doctor and
Martha the instant they set foot out of the TARDIS, making them both recoil from
the force. He'd been aiming for a holiday spot, but seemed to have overstepped
the mark a little. Or maybe the TARDIS had other ideas. She seemed to be doing
that a lot lately. Maybe he needed a bigger hammer. 'Course Martha had to deal
with the odd stinky cesspit now and then, she wasn't on a holiday ride anymore.
Mind you it was a bit hard for her to enjoy anything when she was...shrieking
and kicking at something pawing at her ankle?
His thoughts stuttered to a halt at the same time as her shriek, sending him
racing back to where she was kneeling by the TARDIS, a ragged, human form in her
arms. She was trying to calm the frantically muttering figure, hands gentle on
the gaunt, pathetic form, as if afraid a mere touch would break him into a
thousand pieces. Filthy fingers starved to the bone clutched at her jacket and
she caught them in her hand, crooning endless reassurances, one arm looped
around the damaged body, trying to support its weight as it fell limply against
Dropping to his haunches beside them, he helped take some of the weight,
bringing the emaciated figure into the dim light by the TARDIS.
"No..." he stared in shock at the worn and thin features, hands faltering and
falling to his side. "No. No... You were supposed to be safe. To be happy. With
your people. Where I left you..." This wasn't the way it was supposed to be,
this wasn't the way they let it end...
"Doctor! Do you know him?" the sharpness of Martha's voice brought him back. It
wasnít the first time she'd asked the question, dark eyes staring at him in
He shook his head, trying to think, trying to stay in touch. "A long time ago.
Someone I used to travel with..."
"Like Rose?" Not bitter. Curious. Keeping him focused. Hands already working to
help the man they'd found. She'd make a fine doctor one day. Thoughts drifted
and whirled randomly through the shock.
"No, not like Rose." His own hand stole out, seemingly of its own volition, to
gently touch the matted hair. "Different from Rose...." he trailed off, fingers
stroking along the curve of a jaw, down a filthy column of scrawny throat before
coming to rest on the tattered remains of a white shirt over a painfully
emaciated chest. "A lifetime ago..."
Old memories whipped through his mind, forcing him to his feet. "Get him into
the TARDIS. First door, second corridor, right, third door, left, past the
wardrobe. It's the sickbay. Go, go GO!" He was already accelerating as she
shouted helplessly after him.
There was nothing here but death.
It was a ship. A derelict, the shattered hulk slowly dying the death of a
thousand cuts, air slipping away through destroyed airlocks, warped housing
damaged by weapons fire, a thousand and one tiny injuries, each one bleeding
away air in tiny, gasping strains. The bridge was a blasted mess, the engines
dark and silent. And all around, decaying bodies and twisted faces. Some
defensive, some offensive. Broken metal and hasty blockades, manned by hellishly
familiar bodies clad in uniforms and loose, woven garments. They had not gone
With each one, he stopped. Looked at their faces, burning their every feature
into his mind. Someone had to remember who they were.
Someone had to remember how they'd died.
Crouching in front of a blasted and breached barricade, he splayed his hand
gently across a scorch mark in the metal. He recognised the shape of it, the
feel of it, even as he muttered the words to himself. Prismatic light. Directed
It all made sudden, horrible sense. By that time of the war, the Daleks had
turned on the few lesser races who were aware of and had allied themselves to
Gallifrey. New Minyos. Trion. A handful of others, blasted to
rubble. Only he was younger then, and standing on that sandy, dying planet, he
His hand clenched against the metal, crystallised carbon staining his fingers as
he closed his eyes.
He just...hadn't known.
He returned to the TARDIS, hours later, the stench of death clinging to him like
a second skin, hand clenched around a knotted piece of leather clinging to the
melted remains of two overlapping triangles. Martha had already hooked the
survivor up to the equipment in the TARDIS sickbay. Even given her unfamiliarity
with the equipment, he could tell by the look in her eyes as she turned to face
him that it wasn't good.
"I can't..." And there was helplessness in her eyes. Still young enough to
believe that somehow things could turn out all right. Still naÔve enough to have
hope. "He's dying."
Each step to the bed crossed a hundred years, a hundred memories, a million
recriminations. A thousand possibilities, gone and lost.
"I..." he looked away, folding the other man's emaciated hand around the broken
leather thong. "I didn't know." The words sounded small and hollow in the
silence of the room.
Blue eyes stared up at him in mindless pain, windows to nothing but a shattered
mind, damaged and raped beyond repair.
With infinite tenderness he placed a gentle hand against the survivor's
forehead. "Rest," he said softly. "Rest."
They buried him on the Eye of Orion, the smooth soil clinging to Martha's hands
as she helped him dig in silence. He didn't see that face for the last time,
didn't hear the words she thought were right to say, lost in memories of blonde
hair and cricket balls, secrets and shadows breaking to trust and laughter.
Sketches of the ruins by the grave. A beach on Lanzarote, where the nights
seemed to last forever.
Everything has its time, and everything ends
He walked back to the TARDIS in silence.