Rating: All Ages
Word count: 2,612
Author's summary: A chronic meddler should always consider the worst-case scenario.
Characters/pairings: The Doctor (Tenth), Rose Tyler, Harriet Jones
Recced because: The world can always use one more fic that plays with a bifurcation point in canon's timeline, or explores what being a time-sensitive might mean for the Doctor. This one does both.
In this particular worst-case scenario, Cathica traces out all the ramifications a slight shift in the events of The Christmas Invasion might have for the characters and their interactions. The picture ends up looking very, very different from the one we saw onscreen, but every step Ghostmeat takes to get there feels logical, inevitable. Rose and Harriet are particularly compelling here in the new, too-sharp triangle that unfolds between them and the Doctor when Ten does something—a small thing, comparatively—that makes good sense, coming from a man who's always liked to think that there should have been another way.
The Doctor runs to the console and starts flipping switches. "What are you doing?" Rose asks. He explains briefly, too briefly, all but dismissing her in his haste. It takes him the space of two breaths to track the source of the energy beam that shot down the Sycorax.
Twice as long as it took him to shoot down Harriet Jones.
Designing a dampening field is easy if you're brilliant, which he is. He doesn't know his enemy's name yet, only that he won't let them act again. He can't wait to drain their weapons and leave them useless.
He doesn't have to wait long. He activates the field--one more big red button he just can't resist pushing--and watches with glee as Torchwood powers down.