Best Laid Plans
Chapter 10: Best Laid PlansDevon, 2002
He felt numb. All the years he’d lived, all the chaos that he’d brought into peoples lives, and here he was at the beginning of the end; hell, the cause of the beginning of the end, and he was numb.
He’d thought about it, about those words, off and on over his entire life. Of course he had. After all, he may not have remembered much of actual events, but what he did remember was hard to forget.
He… he’d just never considered the possibility that this would all be his fault. Which, considering his penchant for flicking at the tail of the tiger of fate was… surprising, to say the least.
He knew that what was going to happen was going to happen and that in some far off way it had already happened. Trying to follow the subtleties of it made his brain hurt. Honestly.
Well, this time the tiger of fate had well and truly turned and bled him with its claws.
That this wasn’t good wasn’t an understatement, so much as it was 20,000 leagues under the sea.
In all honesty he also felt slightly sick, and that was saying something. It took a hell of a lot to effect him to that sort of point after everything that he seen and done. Not that he could remember much of it, but his disposition was telling in and of itself. And he had a felling that if he really wanted to, if he really put his mind to the task then he could probably dredge up most of it.
It was simply more that he didn’t want to.
After all, it had taken him this long already to regain some semblance of sanity, himself. If he wanted to test that, then there was nothing stopping him.
Nor was there anything to help him recover who he was again afterwards. Not that he was entirely sure of who he was. He hadn’t been for a long time.
As much as he was a product of himself, he was also a product of the Ripper, he knew that even if he couldn’t remember where his own influence ended and the Ripper’s began.
“Oh, Gods,” staring at the space where the watch had hit the ground and bounced, he sunk to his knees closing his eyes. He didn’t want to remember.
Even if he didn’t know anything else he still knew that.
Never mind that it would have risked damning the known universe, he should have gone. He was selfish enough that meeting himself seemed almost preferable to being trapped here, struggling to avoid his own mind, and trusting to luck that things would be solved.
He didn’t care if he were repeating himself. It felt justified. After all, how many times in one lifetime could one be possibly responsible for such a cataclysm?
At that thought he found himself giggling weakly, a sound that wasn’t far from his own unique brand of insanity. He could count it, but it shouldn’t have been his own world and his own life at risk.
He hated what were for all purposes local potential apocalypses. He liked his comforts, and his world.
Which lead back to the question again, and far too late, of why he pulled such stupid risks. It couldn’t all be blamed on boredom.
Of course, if he really thought about it, then he knew. But the whole point of this exercise was to avoid thinking about it.
It was possible that he was trembling.
The possibility became a certainty, as Ripper’s; -Rupert’s red-haired Wiccan more or less exploded into the area, looking as though she were being torn between two different selves.
Understandable, too, considering the power that he knew was a part of her; there hadn’t been a single sorcerer of any reasonable power who had failed to feel it when she’d threatened to tear the world apart.
Life would be as such that he was left to deal with her, wouldn’t it? Especially when, by the feeling of her power she was still getting some stability back.
Opening his eyes so that he could see her as well as feel her he shot back to his feet, raising his hands towards her, “Look, I can explain.”I’m just not sure how much I can actually explain. And I doubt you’ll like it.
He kept these thoughts to himself however as he tried to work out exactly what he was going to say.Ripper’s TARDIS, Year UnknownThe stars swum before him, familiar constellations taking the place of those that he’d only learned for the trip out. Soon he would be home, back where he belonged.
The ship hummed under his touch, as though she were waiting for him, waiting on his input although at times the transition was so smooth that she seemed to read his mind.
He eased her back into normal space and stared at the view-screen as the stars settled into place, into their normal patterns. There was nothing that he loved more that the enormity of space, and the way that it made him feel like he was just one tiny part of a massive equation, even when he could feel it breathing around him.
He didn’t matter, and what he did didn’t matter. He was just one person in the tide of the star-strewn sky. No one would have to know.
He anticipated that sweet moment, coming back to his own sanctuary.
The years in between had all been nothing but a twisted nightmare. There was nothing wrong here, nothing that he could see.
He tried to hold onto that feeling of everything-was-right, hoping that for once if he just believed it well enough then it would be so.
As the TARDIS dropped closer to the planet’s surface, in spite of the fact that he wanted to spin her away and leave everything as he remembered it for the first time in his life he prayed to something that hopefully existed out there that was more powerful than he.
He felt the footsteps which woke him from his doze, echoing against the metal surface as much as he heard them.
It wouldn’t do to sleep around the boy, even though he doubted that he could do him any real damage. Or that he would be willing to. Not yet, anyway,
he amended, as he raised his head and watched the boy’s approach through half-slitted eyes.
It would have felt strange, already knowing this boy that he’d only just met if he weren’t used to the interplay of time.
Obviously the boy had finished up and come out to the control room, just like he’d told him to.
That was good.
He liked obedience, truly.
He could work with obedience.
He was shivering, and his hair was still damp. And that dull, blank look in the boy’s eyes told him what he’d already suspected, that he wasn’t ready to hurt anyone else again, yet. Not even him.
Strike that; especially not him, because if he ever hoped to get out of here, he would need someone who knew how to control the ship, unless he wanted to be trapped here.
The occasional trembling flick that he gave his hands gave the impression that he was still trying to get them clean, trying to shake off unseen blood.
“I see you’re done,” he rose smoothly to his feet, and the boy started, as though he’d thought him still resting.
“What’s it to you?” he stared at the ground beside Ripper, looking like he was trying to take up the smallest amount of space possible, as though by drawing in on himself he thought that he might be able to escape his attention and, in hand with that his wrath.
Still, at the words he found himself grinning, remembering a seventeen year-old, dressed in black jeans and a red top, knuckles blood-red, snarling the words at a man who was easily several pounds heavier and several inches taller, who had been plastered to the ground, nose crooked, lip split, and blood on the ground around him.
He was still paying enough attention though, to see the boy cringe back as the grin spread over his face. At that he felt a rush of something that was as close to satisfaction as he would ever come in the course of a normal day.
This boy has supported him throughout his time as a human, and he would reward him appropriately, no doubt about that. He had made him save the human that he had been, out of self-interest.
He had to leave one established event for the lock to hold. The rest could support itself.
The time around when he’d turned to a human life was blurred, but that didn’t matter. There would have been a reason for it, but it had been so long ago by the standards of linear time that he doubted it mattered now.
Simply for the sake of it he nudged the ship out of the vortex and gave the boy his first proper view of space.
He felt the disruption of the air as his breath caught in his throat.
“It’s something, isn’t it?”
His voice was completely even, completely level, even normal.
For a few moments he felt the boy’s interest as he forgot his circumstances, staring out at the vast blackness, lit only by unfeeling cold blue and white spots.
The two stood side by side in what was a companionable silence, the boy thinking and Ripper planning, until he spoke again.
“So which one of their precious jewels do you think we should extinguish first?”
It looked like instinct, as Ethan drew away from him again, back towards the doorway.
He chuckled, and the sound was as cold and unfeeling as the stars themselves.