Author: Doctor Tam
Rating: All Ages
Word Count: 1,327
Author's Summary: The end of the Time War.
Characters/Pairings: Romana II, The Doctor (8th)
Warnings: Some violent war/disaster imagery.
Recced because: This fic takes me back. It speaks very clearly to my inner fanboy, who remains obsessed with Doctor/Romana and unhealthily interested in just what the heck went down in the Last Great Time War.
It's a bit shocking to think that it's almost a whole two years since the 50th Anniversary, and now more than ten years since the revival of Who in 2005. And for most of the time in between those two milestones, those of us who were interested in the Time War, arguably the main innovation introduced by RTD in terms of shaking up the Whoniverse, didn't really know much about it. There were hints, vague suggestions of things like the fall of Arcadia or the Nightmare Child, that intrigued more than they explained. So we thought about it, and extrapolated, and made things up, and wrote a great many fics about it that were pretty much comprehensively Jossed by The Day of the Doctor. Which was not a bad thing because if you ask me The Day of the Doctor was absolutely fantastic. Being Jossed was a price well worth paying for that.
And I'll bet Steven Moffat didn't ask himself whether he had that right before he did it either...
So in that sense this fic is a blast from the past (indeed it dates from 2009). In another sense, if you squint a bit, the Doctor portrayed here taking his leave from Romana in Gallifrey's last moments could just as easily be the War Doctor as Eight. I think a lot of us always thought though that the idea of Eight of all Doctors being placed in that terrible position just seemed right, in some poetic sense, just as the notion that it would have been the Lady President Romana sending him on that fatal mission seemed too terribly perfect not to be true. The End of Time Jossed that one, of course, and while I personally don't hold that story in the same regard as The Day of the Doctor, that too was a price worth paying for the possibility of a still-living Romana, out there, somewhere...
Enough about my fannish predilections anyway. This is a very nice fic indeed, and extremely well written. It puts you the reader right in that hellish moment before the End and manages to explore the characters of the Doctor and Romana, their thoughts about and differing relationships with regard to their homeworld and their duties to it within a very economical word count. It explores the Doctor's role in and responsibility for the War and associated events, and how his association with Romana has affected both of them and led directly to the position in which they currently find themselves. As a fan with a lot of affection for that particular relationship, I find this story and its portrayal of what is almost certainly their final parting very touching indeed.
There is one line (no, not the one about Ace; as much as it pains me, thinking up horrible fates for Ace is pretty much a standard feature in all fiction, official and fan, set in the Survival-Rose gap) that I can imagine many fans would find contentious. Don't let that turn you off what it by any other measure a great fic. I hope you will all go and read it right now and leave some words of appreciation for the author.
“I love this planet.” It takes him a moment to realize that it is her speaking aloud and not some voice in his head because her words mirror his thoughts.
“I loved it when I was young because it was the universe to me. And I love it now again because, even with its flaws, even with its bad rulers and bad decisions, even though there are a thousand words with orange skies and I would love to see them, this is my home. Not the one I made for me, but the one I was made for.”
“I love it too.” He knows she must look surprised (or maybe she understands after all), but he doesn’t look at her. “I know what they’ve done to me, to my friends, even. But all the years I’ve traveled, it’s been here. I’ve always been able to come back and shake things up when I’ve felt like it. I used to think I hated this place and everything it stood for, but now…”
She sighs, looking at the sky, and runs a hand across her face, composing herself. Head high, regal bearing back in place, she turns to him. “You need to go.”