Bianca (& Dimitri) (biancaisabelle) wrote in calufrax,
Bianca (& Dimitri)

rec: Terminal Decay

Hi all! *waves awkwardly*
So my name is Bianca, a whovian hailing from the Netherlands, and I'll be reccing for you this week (:
I understand that for a part of you it's still Sunday, but well.. let's just view this as a bonus than, shall we? ;)

Besides, if you're going to read this fic (and I think you should) you're going to need the extra time...

Story: Terminal Decay
Author: Unslinky
Rating: Adult
Word Count: 3,071,407 (yes, you read that right - this is not a typo)
Author's Summary: Set shortly after The Planet of the Dead. AU to everything Doctor Who and Torchwood after that.
Characters/Pairings: Clive Jones, Francine Jones, Gwen Cooper, Ianto Jones, Jack Harkness, Jack Harkness, K-9, Leo Jones, Luke Smith, Martha Jones, Martha Jones, Mickey Smith, Sarah Jane Smith, Sarah Jane Smith, The Doctor (10th), The TARDIS, Tish Jones, Tom Milligan, Torchwood (I've only copied the list of characters Unslinky indicated on Teaspoon because I do not want to spoil what happens in the story! :))
Warnings: Explicit Sex, Explicit Violence, Swearing

Recced because: This fic took Unslinky nearly two years to complete and it has just over a 1,000 chapters. I came across it when the fic had been growing for some time already, but rapidly caught up and then followed it all the way to the end. I realise three million words may seem rather daunting, but trust me when I say that once you start reading this fic, it becomes part of your life shockingly easily and quickly. (I'm rereading it at the moment - worth every step of the way.)

So what makes this fic so captivating? There is more Doctor!Whump out there in which he (nearly) dies [keeping open the outcome so as not to spoil you guys], after all, and those are not as epically long as this fic. There are several reasons.
One is that Unslinky's characterisation is amazing. Unslinky knows how people work, what makes them tick, what makes them laugh, and she manages to write the dilemmas that come with being/caring for a dying alien, the last of his kind, in a way that is incredibly realistic. There are no good or bad guys in this story - everyone has two sides. There will be moments when you really hate a particular character (at least I did), but later that will always be put into perspective because the reasons for their behaviour are revealed and you suddenly understand that even though sometimes people say or do things that make you want to punch them in the face, they're not all bad. Every story has two sides and nothing is ever only black or only white.
That brings me to my second reason: realism. The Doctor is suffering from a degenerating disease, which will kill him if nothing is done, and a lot of people (see character list and then some) get involved. That means there are a lot of angles to be written, a lot of point of views, tensions, opinions - not to mention that an illness as seriously as the one from which the Doctor suffers in this story simply can't be fixed in two or three chapters. The illness is described very naturally, over a period of time, and Unslinky gives us readers wonderful medical details and descriptions without making it too brainy too understand - and then of course there is also the psychological side. The Doctor has to accept that he is ill and that he needs help, he bonds to people in entirely new ways, but the other characters are also affected - they have doubts, are hurt, hope, work, scream, cry (everything you might expect of someone with a close friend who is dying). Rather than rush through events towards a happy ending [or not!], Unslinky isn't afraid of putting the main storyline on hold to be introspective or have a flashback. This doesn't impede the story at all, however, but rather adds to it, shaping the characters and making them incredibly real.
In the end, this didn't feel like a story, but rather as a journey. It has made me look at some characters in an entirely new way and by the time I got to the end I didn't think 'oof, I've finally read it', but rather 'why is this over already?'.

“Why is Martha upset?” the Doctor asked.

“She is scared you’re going to get worse and they won't be able to do anything about it.”

“Oh.” The Doctor sighed. “There is no point getting upset about it.”

“How can you say that?” Jack asked the Doctor seriously. “After everything we have been through both together and separately. How can you not expect any of us to be upset or scared or desperate to help?”

“It doesn’t matter how upset, scared, or desperate anyone is. It is not going to change what is happening.”

“So what will?” Jack asked him.


“Have you thought of any way to extract the energy from Donna?”


“Because there isn’t a way, or because you have not thought about it?”

“Donna has been through enough because of me. It is out of the question.”

“She would want to help,” Jack insisted.

“She doesn’t know who I am.”

“Do you think that would matter to Donna?”

“Probably not, but it matters to me.”

“If you got rid of the energy, you could let her remember again, couldn’t you? She would know who you are again.”

“I don’t want her to know me.”

“But why?”

“Because she is my friend, and I don’t want her to worry.”

“So it is okay for us to worry?” Jack asked him.

“No, it isn’t okay for you either, and I wish I had never called Martha.”

“So you would rather be floating in the vortex, feeling like crap on your own?” Jack asked him.

“I don’t know.”

“Why won’t you accept our help?”

“Because I don’t want to watch you all wasting your time.”

“What if we aren’t wasting our time?”

“You are.” The Doctor shook his head slightly. “I don’t want it to be true anymore than you do, but not wanting it to be true and it being true are two separate things entirely. While you all waste your time, I will be some kind of guinea pig and continue getting worse. At what stage will you believe me that nothing can be done? When I start convulsing? When I don’t know what I am doing and start trying to kill you? What about when I am sitting dribbling in the corner in my own piss and shit, Jack?!”

“Don’t.” Jack sighed.

“Why not? That is what is going to happen. When will you accept nothing can be done?”

“When we have tried everything, and you’re still dead,” Jack advised him plainly. “Not until then.”

“So you would let me deteriorate into some kind of mindless vegetable?”

“If there was still some hope.” Jack nodded.

“There is none now.”

“You can’t just give up. Just let us help, please?”

“Who for?”

“What does that mean?”

“Well, do you want to help me or is it to make you feel better?”

“Probably both,” Jack admitted candidly. “You said yourself you didn’t want it to be true, so I am taking it that you don’t particularly want to die. Well, we don’t want you to either. So if you wont give us a chance for yourself, then give us a change and help us for us. We all owe you our lives several times over. Let us at least help to repay the favour?” Jack suggested, and the Doctor looked down at the table. When the hub door rolled back and Martha and Sarah Jane came back in, he frowned.

“I had better go and give Luke a hand then,” the Doctor offered, though Jack knew it was not a suggestion confirming that he was going to help, but a retreat from further company. Without saying anything more, the Doctor approached the TARDIS. He clicked his fingers because he wasn’t sure where he’d left his key, entered, and then closed the door behind him.

Tags: author: unslinky, character: clive jones, character: francine jones, character: leo jones, character: tardis, character: tish jones, character: tom milligan, companion: donna, companion: jack, companion: k-9, companion: martha, companion: mickey, companion: rose, companion: sarah, doctor:10, doctor:10.5, pairing:10.5/rose, rating: adult, reccer: biancaisabelle, sja: luke, torchwood: gwen, torchwood: ianto, type: het, type: mixed, type: slash

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