Characters/Pairings: Jack/Ianto, Gwen/Rhys, Eleven and Amy Pond, and a lot of people from the Whoniverse at large
Word Count: Total: 31,520; Chapter 1: 2,107
Spoilers: This assumes that you are familiar with the broadcast of the five days of Children of Earth. Otherwise, you’ll be a bit lost. This is a timey-wimey fixit, that takes up action partway through Day 3.
Disclaimer: Torchwood, Dr. Who, and Sarah Jane Adventures all belong to the BBC and RTD. Sadly.
Betas: Thanks to midlist_writer and welsh_scotsman. Also, for my friend Alexandria Cameron who put up with my squeals and tantrums when it just wouldn’t get out through my fingers the way I wanted it to.
Summary: When the Shadow Architects find a paradox that is destroying the Universe, can the Eleventh Doctor find a way to restore Jack’s timeline to what it should have been?
A/N: Everyone has a fixit in them – this is mine.
When Everything Changed - Chapter 1
The TARDIS connected to all time and space. That was the task of a TARDIS, to warn her partner of impending danger in the Universe. This TARDIS, the last of her kind, took this task seriously, and tried to keep the Doctor informed.
She did have a problem though. Unlike those who had gone before, this TARDIS shied away from paradoxes. She had once been held prisoner in one and forced to suffer endless agony until her Champion had rescued her from the machine. Ergo, paradoxes were something she avoided. After all, most small paradoxes resolved themselves without intervention.
Her Champion. Of all the Companions who had traveled with in her over this long existence, she missed him the most. The moment he had come to her, they had connected on a level that she had not experienced with any other than her Lord. Her Champion could pilot her, repair her, and love her better than any of the others. She had once fled from him to protect her Lord from his fear and shame, but she would no longer do so. She had let him go the last time as he needed to return to his One, as difficult as it had been.
Her Lord continued to be troubled by the presence of her Champion; she did not wish to add to his pain, so she kept her longings to herself. When it suddenly changed and her Lord had returned in his new form, she had many other things to concentrate on: her own repairs to make, reconnecting to the nuances of her Lord’s personality, and welcoming the new Companion: bright, beautiful, spirited Amy.
So when she returned to her task of examining time and space for anomalies, the paradox hit her full force. Not a small self-correcting one, this – a powerful and all-encompassing one. It had already consumed systems and was on its way to consuming galaxies with its destruction. It was coming closer.
Though repulsed by the ugliness of it, the TARDIS reached out, trying to understand. She had to warn her Lord so that he could try to repair it. To her horror she found them at the center of it, both her Champion and her Lord: one embittered and despairing, the other afraid and dishonored. It was beyond terrible.
She tried to tell him…
“What’s wrong, girl?”
Amy Pond heard the TARDIS in her mind. It was a moan of pain – pain such as she had never experienced. “Doctor, what’s going on?” she asked, stroking the wall in what she hoped was a soothing manner. “The TARDIS sounds sick.”
The eleventh version of the Time Lord was running around the console, twiddling dials and checking readouts. “She is sick,” he said. “I’m trying to find out why.”
A light underneath one of the monitor screens began to flash red. Amy pointed at it. “What’s that?”
“A summons.” The Doctor’s hands flicked over the controls and a picture showed on the monitor. Amy came over to get a closer look.
The image was of an older woman, human-looking, but her eyes were red like an albino rabbit. Her dress and necklace were black. Although her face was expressionless, Amy quickly got the idea she was furious. Her voice was cold when she spoke. “Doctor.”
The Doctor looked even more like a boy who had been caught stealing an early bite of birthday cake than usual. He actually slicked down his hair before answering. “Yes, Madam Architect?”
“Come here at once. At once, do you understand?”
“Yes, ma’am.” The respect in the Doctor’s voice surprised Amy. “I may have a spot of trouble though. My ship has developed symptoms of an illness that I need to diagnose before….”
“I know what is wrong with your ship!” The woman’s voice snapped like the crack of a whip. “You would know as well, if you could put aside that arrogance of yours and admit to your mistakes. If you don’t want her to get worse, you will come immediately.”
The screen went blank. Amy stared at it, and then turned her stare on the Doctor. “What in God’s name was that about?”
“I’m not sure.” The Doctor moved around the console again, this time flipping the switches that Amy knew preceded a move through space. “Whatever it is, we’ve got to get there. I feel the TARDIS getting weaker.”
The Doctor refused to answer any more questions. His face was grim as he piloted the wobbling TARDIS. When they arrived at their destination with a hard thump, the ship rocked violently before settling. “Easy there,” the Doctor said to his ship. “I’ll find out what’s going on and we’ll fix you. Yes, we’ll fix you.” He bounded to the door and then looked at Amy. “Coming?”
The room they came out into was surrounded by cool metal supports and bluish translucent walls that looked like glass. They were met by two large figures in armor, faces hidden by visors. “Follow,” one of them said in a harsh gravelly voice and both turned away. The Doctor started after them, with Amy in his wake.
“Doctor,” she hissed. “Where are we? Who are those people?”
“Shhh!” the Doctor admonished, and then proceeded to speak in a low whisper. “This is the Shadow Proclamation. Don’t speak unless spoken to.”
The Shadow Proclamation? Amy remembered the Doctor invoking the Shadow Proclamation when he was telling the creatures searching for Prisoner Zero to leave Earth alone. She had thought it was a charter or something, not a place.
They followed the armored men for several minutes. By now they had traversed so many identical corridors that Amy knew she would never find her way back without help. Finally they came to a large room with a vaulted ceiling. The woman from the screen stood behind a podium-like thing made from the same material as the walls. Behind her were other men and women, also dressed formally in black, ranging from young to old. All of them seemed to be glaring at the Doctor with cold albino red eyes.
Several more visored guards were standing with weapons raised and those were also pointed at the Doctor. Amy didn’t like this at all. The hostility in the air nearly choked her.
The Doctor bowed. “Madam Architect. Council.”
The Architect or whatever she was did not acknowledge the courtesy. “We’ve summoned you here for an explanation and to investigate what needs to be done in order to mend the blunders you have made.”
The Doctor looked solemn but his voice was not quite serious when he said, “Could you be more specific, Madam? I mean, I blunder a lot.”
“Don’t mock us!” she said sternly. “I am referring to the individual who calls himself Captain Jack Harkness.”
The Doctor’s normally pale skin went white and he backed up a step. “What about Jack? I saw him just before I regenerated. He was fine. A bit melancholy. I tried to cheer him up, introduced him to a good-looking chap at a bar on Proxima…”
The Doctor stopped talking. Amy could see that his hands were actually trembling. Whoever this Captain Jack Harkness was, the Doctor was involved with him somehow. And something was terribly wrong.
The Architect spoke again, her voice now angry as well as cold. “Either you are lying to us, or lying to yourself. You know what you did. You know how you failed to act. Now Time is unraveling because of it. Your own ship feels it and is ill with it. Countless time lines are broken and more will break until the Universe collapses completely. Even the Reapers cannot repair this. Only you can.”
The man sank down into a chair to steady himself as the dizziness tore at him again. It was the only chair in the cabin. He didn’t need another one since he had no visitors. These spells were becoming more violent and lasting longer, but the man was indifferent. They wouldn’t kill him. Nothing would kill him, except the end of the universe, and possibly not even that. He simply waited until it was over before getting up again.
He’d chopped enough firewood earlier, so he put another log into the stove that stood at one end of the cot he used for sleeping. The climate at this altitude was harsh, just barely able to support life. He’d chosen it for that very reason. He had to work to keep his space livable. It filled many hours of his endless days. The technology he was developing to help himself might one day be found and make others’ lives easier. He wouldn’t be here when they found it though. He wouldn’t stay if that might happen. There were planets on the fringes with climates as rough as this. He’d move to one of those and start over.
A knock on the door startled him so badly that he nearly broke the stove’s door off. He turned slowly. No one had knocked on his door for many, many years. He waited to see what would happen.
There was another knock, louder this time. If someone had found him, then it was time to assemble what he needed and migrate. He went to the table and sat again, reaching for a pad to make a list.
A fusillade of knocks was followed immediately by the door crashing open. He gave a glance at the person in the doorway, silhouetted against the snow swirling outside, and then turned his attention back to the list he was making. “Whoever you are, go away,” he said in a voice rusty from long disuse.
He heard the door shut but the person was still there. “Are you The One Who Rises?” The voice was young and female. “I have come a long way to find you.”
He tried to remember what system might know him by that outrageous name, but found he didn’t care. It didn’t matter. He continued with his task, saying nothing. Perhaps she would go away on her own.
Instead footsteps came near and his shoulder was shaken. “Please, sir. My name is T’rina Farisith. Our people need your help.”
That word again. Obviously, ignoring her wouldn’t work. He raised his head and looked at her. She had orange-tinged skin and white hair. She was too bundled up to make out her figure but she was not very tall. Probably as thin as a bird, he thought idly. The young and frantic almost always were.
He stood, shrugging her hand away. He glared down into her eyes and said, “No.”
The girl was confused. “We need you to help us,” she said, as though he hadn’t heard her. “I come from Manolfa Five. Our world needs…”
“Doesn’t matter.” He backed away another step. “The answer is no.”
“But you… your power… it’s our last hope…”
“I don’t help. Anyone,” he added for emphasis.
“You… but… I don’t understand…”
“People die when I help. They die.”
“I’m not afraid of dying,” she said.
They were always brave. “That’s because you don’t have to live afterward. My answer is still no. You might as well leave. I won’t be here if you come back.”
“You will help us!” she demanded. She raised a weapon and pointed it at him. “I’ll kill you and take you with me.”
In the past he might have been amused, but he was too weary. “Won’t do you any good. I’ll just wait until you grow tired of me and then I’ll leave. I have time.”
Obviously, this wasn’t going the way she expected. Her face darkened. “But you must! You have to help us.”
He was out of patience. With the speed of long practice, he slapped the weapon out of her hands. He reached across the table to the cube he kept there. Suddenly the air around them was full of words. Names. “Do you see these? These are the people who have died when I was ‘helping.’ All of them, dead because of me. Because I was trying to ‘help.’” Another strong wave of dizziness seized him as one name floated across his vision, a different color than the others. He was overwhelmed with loss again – of strong arms that once held him and blue, blue eyes that glowed with love for him. He’d watched as that light faded into the emptiness of death. Because of him.
He barely noticed her skittering across the floor to her weapon, barely heard the firing of the weapon, barely felt the pain in his chest, and his last thought was of Ianto Jones.