35 : Forest of the Dead (Part 4)
“Let me do it,” Violet pleads, making all heads turn to the weak eighteen, technically nineteen, year old. “I may not have lived as long as you, Doctor, but I have lived centuries more than I was ever meant to. My life is practically over anyway - I only have two or three years left and then I’ll fade away into time.”
“Vi,” River and the Doctor say, both distressed at the words leaving her lips, and both unaware of the button she presses on her Vortex Manipulator to call Jack, sharing this moment with him.
“You think Jack was the only one who’s tried to kill himself so many times? We both have, but nothing has come of it. We’re both condemned to lives of questionable length, but I get to escape mine while he lives on for thousands of years without anyone to keep him company.” Violet briefly closes her eyes, tears falling down her face. “He lives in solitude for too fucking long, and it’s all because he met you and got himself killed. He may die with you and I by his side, but you don’t know who he is then. It still hurts thinking about it and I can see it every time I close my fucking eyes!”
No one dares to say anything, not even Jack.
“My best friend; my first real love, and I was forced to watch him die. Every other time, he’s come back, but not that time; not thousands of years from this century - the century he’s probably being born into right now! The 51st Century is honestly a laugh. Vashta Nerada on a planet that’s a fucking library, in the century that Jack is born, and I’m willing to give up my life right now instead of living for maybe three more years tops. If this is what it takes to kill me, then maybe he’ll be able to escape his fate too by finding something similar.”
“But I won’t have you by my side,” Jack says, his voice floating up from the device on her wrist. “If you die in the future, Vi, what happens to your future in the 21st Century? What happens with you and me, and you and the Doctor? What about River?”
“You have Ianto and Gwen, and I know they’re listening. Gwen, I hated you to begin with, but you’re okay now, I guess. Ianto, that day at Canary Wharf with the Daleks and Cybermen, I wish I’d of helped you with Lisa instead of abandoning you.”
“It’s quite alright, Violet,” Ianto assures her. “Gwen would also say something, but she is currently too emotional.”
“That’s fine. Also, Ianto? There’s something else I should have told you when Jack and I came back from the future.” Violet pauses, swallowing. “It’s just, uh, something so utterly human and obvious that it shouldn’t need saying, but you’re rather thick sometimes.”
Jack laughs, but she can tell it’s through tears. “Just go ahead and tell him.”
“Ianto, I love you. Have since the moment I met you. Bloody cheeky bastard you are, and you’re so unbelievably fucking loyal to your last breath that it’s going to be the end of you.”
“Would you like to know something as well, Violet?” Ianto doesn’t give her a chance to answer. “I loved you when I first spoke to you, but I guess the same can be said for Jack as well.”
“Oh, shut up,” Jack says. “Look, little love, you need to live through this so you can tell him to his face. Screw this centuries’ labels of boyfriend and girlfriend, and husband and wife, you’re only young and you need to live your life.”
Violet laughs at the expressions on her wife’s and husband’s faces. “Jacky Boy, you just said that with both my wife and my husband in the same room.”
“Well, that’s awkward, but you need to remember that we got married too at one stage.”
“Gonna need to file for that divorce, Jack. Already got two on my hands, don’t need the other two.” She smiles weakly. “Goodbye, Jack. Ianto, you look after that idiot, won’t you?”
“Of course, ma’am,” Ianto manages to reply before Violet cuts the call.
“You’re not doing this,” the Doctor seethes, fighting his own tears at his second wife’s confession. “I am. You might only have a few years left, but that’s better than nothing.”
“Doctor!” River exclaims, fed up with both her husband and her first wife being self-sacrificing.
“I’m right, this works. Shut up,” the Doctor snarks back. “Now listen. You and Luxy boy, back up to the main library. Prime any data cells you can find for maximum download, and before you say anything else, Professor, can I just mention in passing as you’re here, shut up.”
“Oh! I hate you sometimes.”
“Mister Lux, with me. Anita, if he dies, I’ll kill him!” She turns to her wife and kisses her. “Don’t you die yet, my love. You still have yet to live the best years of your life.”
River and Lux leave and Anita turns to the Doctor. “What about the Vashta Nerada?”
“These are their forests,” the Doctor explains. “I’m going to seal Charlotte inside her little world, take everybody else away. The shadows can swarm to their hearts’ content.”
“So you think they’re just going to let us go?”
“Best offer they’re going to get.”
“You’re going to make ’em an offer?”
“They’d better take it, because right now, I’m finding it very hard to make any kind of offer at all. You know what? I really liked Anita. She was brave, even when she was crying. And she never gave in. And you ate her.” He clears her visor to reveal a skull. “But I’m going to let that pass, just as long as you let them pass.”
Violet is still crying as the Doctor and Vashta Nerada Anita talk, arguing about the people living inside the computer. The half breed hugs her arms to her body and sinks to her knees, folding in half and trying to break down as quietly as she can. Shadows stretch out from Vashta Nerada Anita towards the Doctor, but he quickly reminds them who he is. There is a pause, then the shadows withdraw, the shadows saying something before the spacesuit collapses.
“Oh, Anita,” River sighs, walking over to them
“I’m sorry. She’s been dead a while now,” he apologises, but quickly turns to River. “I told you to go!”
“Lux can manage without me, but you can’t.”
River punches the Doctor, knocking him out. She drags him away from the computer and handcuffs him, a pained expression on her face. She crouches down in front of Violet and places a hand on her back, comforting her a moment before standing and walking away. A little later, as the Doctor wakes up and Violet is regaining control over her emotions, River is twisting some wires together.
“Oh, no, no, no, no,” the Doctor exclaims. “Come on, what are you doing? That’s my job.”
“Oh, and I’m not allowed to have a career, I suppose?” River teases.
“Why am I handcuffed? Why do you even have handcuffs?”
“This is not a joke. Stop this now. This is going to kill you! I’d have a chance, you don’t have any.”
“You wouldn’t have a chance, and neither do I. I’m timing it for the end of the countdown. There’ll be a blip in the command flow. That way it should improve our chances of a clean download.”
“River, please. No.”
“Funny thing is, this means you’ve always known how I was going to die. All the time we’ve been together, you knew I was coming here. The last time I saw you, the real you, the future you, I mean, you turned up on my doorstep, with a new haircut and a suit. You took me to Darillium to see the Singing Towers. What a night that was. The Towers sang, and you cried.” She smiles sadly. “You wouldn’t tell me why, but I suppose you knew it was time. My time. Time to come to the library. You even gave me your screwdriver. That should have been a clue.”
The two screwdrivers and her diary are just out of the Doctor’s reach, but not out of Violet’s reach. However, no matter how imploringly her husband stares at her, Violet remains standing where she is, leaning against the computer, knowing that this is where her wife will take her final breath.
“There’s nothing you can do,” River says, her voice beginning to break.
“You can let me do this,” the Doctor pleads.
“If you die here, it’ll mean I’ve never met you.”
“Time can be rewritten.”
“Not those times. Not one line. Don’t you dare. It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s not over for you. You’ll see me again. You’ve got all of that to come. You and me, and Violet, time and space. You watch us run.”
“River, you know my name,” the Doctor says brokenly, his brown eyes pained beyond anything Violet has ever seen before.
“Autodestruct in ten,” the computer counts.
“You whispered my name in my ear.”
“Nine, eight, seven…”
“There’s only one reason I would ever tell anyone my name. There’s only one time I could.”
“Hush, now,” River says.
“Four, three,” the computer continues.
River and Violet smile. “Spoilers.”
River joins two power cables together and there is a blinding light, Violet throwing up her hands to cover her eyes and the Doctor turning his face away. Their mutual wife doesn’t scream, but more so goes with a smile, and in the presence of the two people who loved her almost more than her parents. When the light fades, Violet and the Doctor are left staring at an empty space.