Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘Harry Potter’ or ‘Doctor Who’. Bolded dialogue is taken directly from Doctor Who series 3 episode 3, ‘Gridlock’.
A/N: It was pointed out to me that the last chapter was a bit… difficult for those who aren’t intimately familiar with Doctor Who Season 3. Sorry about that. I’ve tried to make this chapter stand on its own a bit more, and I’ve currently evaluating whether it might be worth it to rewrite the previous chapter. If any other readers would like to weigh in that would be appreciated, I always like feedback. Thanks to cyborg-goddess for being equal parts beta and binge watch buddy.
NEW NEW YORK 5,000,000,053
“So one, trip to the past, and one trip to the future eh?” Harry muttered to Hermione as he eyed the Doctor asking Martha if she wanted another trip in the TARDIS.
“This might be a new—old, I guess—face, but I think I know the Doctor well enough to know that he’s not quite ready to say goodbye to this one yet. One more trip my arse,” Hermione snorted.
“I like your arse,” Luna piped up from next to them, where she was playing with a Jacob’s ladder.
“Well last night would need make a lot less sense if you didn’t,” Harry quipped, and Hermione slapped his arm.
“Oi! Flirtation squad! We’re here!” the Doctor called. “Year five billion and fifty-three, planet New Earth! Second hope of mankind! Fifty thousand light years from your old world, and we’re slap bang in the middle of New New York. Although, technically it’s the fifteenth New York from the original, so it’s New New New New New New New New New New New New New New New York. One of the most dazzling cities ever built.”
The Doctor threw open the doors to the TARDIS and he and Martha walked out… into pouring rain. It was a grimy, cinderblock alleyway, and not exactly the dazzling city they had been expecting.
“Oh, that’s nice! Time Lord version of dazzling,” Martha hurried to zip up her coat, and the two of them hurried down the alleyway, the Doctor explaining that they must be in some sort of under city. The trio hung back, watching the Doctor with critical eyes. (Well, Harry and Hermione were critical. Luna managed to never look particularly critical, even when she was in the middle of giving you a complete dressing down for unruly behavior with regard to the proper methods of pickle fermentation.) In any case, the trio was watching the Doctor, and they didn’t like what they saw. This was a Doctor in mourning. This was a Doctor who, as much as he was putting on his usual show, did not have his hearts in the presentation. He was taking Martha to the same places that he took Rose, like a broken record. This Doctor was broken, and Martha, like the stereotypical besotted woman, wanted to fix him. Unlike the stereotypical besotted woman, however, she wasn’t going to let herself be trampled over in the process. Still, while the Doctor and Martha went back and forth with the local street merchants about the patches they sold that provided emotions—drugs, in other words—the trio made quiet plans to include Martha in their companion support group. They halted in their discussion, however, when Hermione took notice of the woman that the Doctor and Martha had been talking to.
“I’m sorry, what were you saying?” The woman asked the Doctor in a serene voice. She was calm, almost docile, where before she had been distressed to the point of despair.
“Your parents. Your mother and father. They’re on the motorway.” The Doctor replied in a flat voice.
“Are they? That’s nice.” The woman replied, sounding bemused. “I’m sorry. I won’t keep you.” She wandered in another direction, not seeming to pay very much attention to her destination, if there was one.
The three mages were incredibly intrigued about the process, not unlike an obliviation charm, and Hermione immediately began questioning one of the vendors. Martha stared after the woman who had taken the forget patch with disbelief and a bit of disdain. “So that’s the human race five billion years in the future. Off their heads on chemicals.”
It happened more quickly than any of them could have anticipated. Harry and Luna were listening intently to the merchant’s responses to Hermione’s fast-paced questions, while the Doctor was preparing to lecture Martha on why it wasn’t fair to judge the current state of humanity. Out of nowhere came the man and woman, waving their weapons around and grabbing an unsuspecting Martha from their midst.
The Doctor shouted rather uselessly, but the trio lept into action, Harry and Hermione utilizing close quarter apparation to equal parts pull the man off Martha and apparate Martha to safety, while Luna summoned their weapons. The two confused would-be abductors were then quickly cuffed with conjured handcuffs that Harry seemingly pulled out of his pocket and sat down in some chairs that Luna found nearby.
(The merchants were more entertained than they had been in years. It was rare that people had short-range teleports and knew how to use them like that, especially with the city on lockdown.)
“Martha! Are you alright?” The Doctor asked, looking over his shaken companion.
“Yeah, I’m alright. Blimey these witches are fast. You sure know how to pick ’em Doctor.”
“Apparently I will,” the Doctor agreed.
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The couple were car hackers, looking for a third person to take with them in the fast lane. Traffic, it seemed, was slow. Very slow. Too slow. The Doctor, naturally was curious, because what on New Earth was keeping people on the motorway? Why was the under-city separated from the rest of the world?
Troubled, the time travelers released the couple, though they neglected to return the fake weapons; even though they weren’t real, strangers didn’t know that, and they didn’t want some other poor soul to be forced to stay in a car with those two for six years. The five of them trekked back to the TARDIS, and the doctor navigated them to the over-city and what he said was the Senate of New York.
“I’d like a word with them,” the Doctor grumbled. There’s got to be thousands of people trapped down there, millions!”
He stormed out of the TARDIS, and then stopped. As the four of them exited after him, they saw why. All around him were skeletons. They were in a room full of the dead. But then they heard a sound, and realized that not everything was dead. Because there was a woman, who was also a cat. Martha did her best not to stare, and not to think about how her brother, who was a closeted furry, would be into this era of humanity.
“Doctor, you’ve got to come with me.” The catwoman said urgently, gesturing for them to follow her.
“Do I know you?” The Doctor asked, unmoving, and tilting his head to the side.
“You haven’t aged at all.” She looked down, almost ashamed. “Time has been less kind to me.”
“Novice Hame!” The Doctor embraced her, grinning. “No, hold on, get off. Last time we met, you were breeding humans for experimentation!” The Doctor shouted, pointing an accusing finger.
“I’ve sought forgiveness, Doctor, for so many years, under his guidance.”
“I hate to break up this reunion here, but can someone explain why we are in a room full of skeletons?” Martha asked.
“The city died. It was a new chemical — they called it Bliss. Everyone tried it. They couldn’t stop. A virus mutated inside the compound and became airborne. Everything perished, even the virus, in the end. It killed the world in seven minutes flat. There was just enough time to close down the walkways and the flyovers, sealing off the under-city. Those people on the motorway aren’t lost, Doctor. They were saved.”
“But we’re safe now, why not open things back up? How long have things been like this?” Harry cut in.
“Twenty-four years,” Novice Hame replied.
“You can’t have been running everything down there by yourself, is it all on automatic?” the Doctor asked.
“There’s not enough power to get them out. We did all we could to stop the system from choking,” Novice Hame replied.
“Who’s ‘we’? ” the Doctor asked. “ How did you survive?”
“He protected me. And he has waited for you, these long years.”
They heard a voice in the distance, and gladly followed the sound out of the disconcerting room full of bodies.
It was a giant face, dangling tentacles growing out of its head instead of hair, encased in a tank. Martha stared, flabbergasted. She had never seen anything like it. The trio, long used to aliens, were not at all surprised to find that the person Novice Hame had been referring to was a giant head.
“The Face of Boe!” the Doctor exclaimed with a grin.
“I knew you would come. And you brought old friends.”
“You know them?” the Doctor asked, looking back at the trio and Martha.
“Better than you, in this moment.”
Novice Hame cut in, before the Doctor could question Boe’s statement. “Back in the old days, I was made his nurse, as penance for my sins.”
“Old friend, what happened to you?” the Doctor asked, sadly, pushing aside his questions in the face of how tired Boe appeared.
“He protected me from the virus by shrouding me in his smoke. But with no one to maintain it, the City’s power died. The under-city would have fallen into the sea.”
“So he saved them.” the Doctor nodded.
“As if he would do anything else,” Harry whispered to Hermione, who nodded sadly.
“The Face of Boe wired himself into the mainframe. He’s giving his life force just to keep things running.”
Martha was beyond confused. How did this alien know them? And how could he use life force to power a city? And how could he be a head without a body ? This went against ALL of her medical training.
“But there are planets out there. You could have called for help.” the Doctor pointed out, still looking into the eyes of the Face of Boe.
“The last act of the Senate was to declare New Earth unsafe. The automatic quarantine lasts for one hundred years.” Novice Hame said softly.
“It’s lucky we made it here then. We’re going to help, aren’t we Doctor?” Martha broke in to the conversation. She didn’t quite understand what was going on, but she wasn’t about to abandon the under-city. Despite the fact that the only people she had met there were kidnappers and people who bought and sold drugs, she knew that all that they did was motivated by desperation, and that they were more than just what she saw of them. People were complex and deserving of life in her time, and they had to be just as complex and deserving of life in the future.
“Of course we’re going to help!” the Doctor leaped up, pressing a hand gently to the glass shielding the Face of Boe from the rest of the world. “As if we could ever turn away! Now, we need to open up that under-city. What have we got?”
“Well I tell you what we haven’t got, is a whole lot of power. The city is dead, Doctor,” Harry said, examining the variety of cords and controls around them.
“Ah, but Harry my love, we are so alive,” Luna replied, taking out an elegantly crafted wand, one that appeared to be carved out of some kind of metal rather than wood, and as she waved it at the coils the Doctor had been about to pick up, they slithered to life, screens flickering on and machines beginning to hum.
Hermione huffed. “Well that’s just showing off.”
“Oh, you know you love it,” Harry whispered in her ear.
“Takes one to know one,” Hermione hissed back playfully, before pulling out a wand of her own, which didn’t seem to be carved out of wood either. Harry sighed and followed suit, and the three of them breathed life into the city, breaking open the locks that had barred the motorway from being exposed to the surface, and letting those below see the sunlight for the first time in almost a quarter of a century. The Doctor looked on, nonplussed. This was the second time that a problem had been neatly resolved, and even less had been done on his part this time. He had barely had any time to show off. Not that he needed to, he was an adult, but these three, they were too much. They had too much power, and they were too at ease with it, especially for being so young. They were dangerous. He watched them laugh, wary. And the Face of Boe knew them, and moreover, he knew Martha. He supposed that she was going to have more than just a single trip to the past and a single trip to the future after all.
The Doctor laughed, and his lips fell into something resembling a smile. But was it ever that simple?
The Face of Boe was calling to him, even as the trio cast their magic and Novice Hame and Martha watched in awe. Now that the city was safe, they were simply restructuring the building, making repairs. It wasn’t actually simple of course, which is why they were watching in awe, as structures that had fallen into disrepair after decades of lack of use were made good as new, metal shining instead of rusting, computers whirring to life. Machinery could rise from the dead in ways that the population of New Earth could not.
“We all have secrets, Doctor.” The Face of Boe told him. “You more than most.”
“Oh, but you have yours just the same,” the Doctor said, leaning against Boe’s tank and whispering conspiratorially. “Legends say that you have lived for billions of years. That you will tell your final secret to a traveller. But I say, secrets are best left unsaid. You have life yet left in you.”
“Ah, but Doctor, I am old. I have seen so much. Perhaps too much. You understand that better than most; both of us; the last of our kind. Though you, my oldest friend, must know this: You. Are. Not. Alone.”
With that, the Face of Boe let out a kind of mental sigh, and closed his eyes, and went still. There was a terrible silence, as the feeling of his death washed over them, and a rush of power was pushed into the mainframe, the last life Boe had to give.
The Doctor was shaken. He knew that there had to be more to the story with the Face of Boe. There must be. He was missing part of the picture, he couldn’t complete the puzzle because not all the pieces were there yet — there was yet more life to live.
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“What did he mean, you are not alone?” Martha asked, as they walked back to the TARDIS.
“I don’t know,” the Doctor shrugged.
“You have us—me, Harry, Hermione, and Luna, is that what he meant?” Martha asked, with a smile.
“I don’t think so,” the Doctor said with a kind of fond condescension that made both Martha and Hermione’s hackles rise. Harry held Hermione back, but Martha had no such restraints.
“It doesn’t matter,” the Doctor replied dismissively.
“It does matter, or you wouldn’t have been so shook up about it!”
“Just drop it! It doesn’t matter!” the Doctor snapped.
“You don’t talk. You never say! Why not?” Martha was almost shouting now, they were standing in the narrow alleyway, the Doctor about to enter the TARDIS and the trio behind her. She whirred around to face him. “Why do you put up with him!? What made you come back?!”
Suddenly they heard singing. The entire city was singing a hymn, together, and Martha faltered. The trio didn’t say anything, knowing that this was Martha and the Doctor’s moment.
The Time Lord sighed. “I lied to you, ’cause I liked it. I could pretend. Just for a bit, I could imagine they were still alive, underneath a burnt orange sky. I’m not just a Time Lord. I’m the last of the Time Lords. The Face of Boe was wrong. There’s no one else.”
The trio carefully didn’t make eye contact with one another, and Luna rubbed her chest.
“What happened?” Martha asked softly.
The Doctor sighed, and opened the door to the TARDIS, silently beckoning them in, before beginning to speak, guiding them to a sitting room just to the side of the console room, where there were a series of cushy armchairs and a couch surrounding a roaring fireplace, that somehow never burned the spaceship down, despite always being lit. “There was a war. A Time War. The last Great Time War. My people fought a race called the Daleks, for the sake of all creation. And they lost. They lost. Everyone lost. They’re all gone now. My family, my friends, even that sky. Oh, you should have seen it, that old planet. The second sun would rise in the south, and the mountains would shine. The leaves on the trees were silver, and when they caught the light every morning, it looked like a forest on fire. When the autumn came, the breeze would blow through the branches like a song…”
A/N: Aaaaaaaand now I’m a little worried that I overdid it with the quotes in trying to make sure I didn’t leave anything out that was important to the episode, so please please give me feedback! Somehow writing the tenth Doctor is much harder than writing the eleventh! Or rather, writing based on episodes is much harder than freewheelin’ it. Which I suppose makes kind of sense? Anyway, I do really appreciate any comments that might give insight as to how you think I’m doing! Thanks!
Minor edits made 10/21/2020