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Note: This story contains major spoilers for the Doctor Who episodes "The End of the World," "New Earth," and "Gridlock," including some dialogue from those episodes. There are also minor spoilers for the first three seasons of the current production of Doctor Who.

Triptych
Part One


As soon as his shuttle docked with Platform One, the Face of Boe heard the TARDIS singing in the back of his mind. He closed his great eyes briefly. He should have expected this. The Doctor had always been Earth's champion; of course he would be present for Earth Death.

But, the Face of Boe wondered, would it be the right Doctor?

*~*~*


Platform One was the luxury liner of space stations. Its skeleton might be metal and ceramics and wires, but the guests saw only rich wood, leather, silk and velvet: the best of everything. Fully mobile, its huge engines moved it around the galaxy from one historical event to another. It had witnessed everything from supernovae to planetary peace celebrations, gone from one end of the galaxy to another. Now, it was parked in geostationary orbit over the Earth, so that a crowd of very rich people could witness the destruction of the planet from whence had come all humanity. Earth Death. In thirty minutes.

The Face of Boe waited in the antechamber to the observation gallery, the other guests crowded around his transport tank. He remembered a time -- long ago -- when he could have blended into the crowd and gone unnoticed if he chose. No longer. Not since his transformation. It hadn't happened all at once; it wasn't like he'd gone to bed one night as a normal human and awakened the next as a huge flat head in a tank full of smoke. He couldn't even remember now how it had started. He did remember buying a ship and disappearing into the vast reaches of the universe until it was over.

The crowd thinned as each of the VIPs, announced by the blue-skinned Steward, entered the observation gallery. At last, only he and Cassandra O'Brien Dot Delta Seventeen -- the so-called Last Human -- and her attendants remained. He found himself mildy amused by Cassandra's ridiculous attempts to maintain her youth and beauty. Her DNA might still be human, but her body -- no more than a face stretched on a frame -- certainly wasn't. They had a great deal in common, he thought, though at least his transformation had happened honestly; he hadn't indulged in surgery after surgery after surgery until the only thing left was a bitchy trampoline.

He paused at the thought. Hadn't he heard that phrase somewhere before? After so many millenia, it was often difficult to call specific memories to mind. As it was his turn to enter the observation chamber, he made a notation to check his data stores later. The Steward announced him and his transport trundled through the doorway, while his gaze swept the assembled guests. As sponsor of the event, he had invited the rich and famous, interesting people from interesting worlds, but all with some connection to the dying planet below.

His transport had barely crossed the threshhold when he saw them. He spotted her first and a tremor went through him. Even after so long, Rose Tyler remained vivid in his mind. While others might find her curves and full lips overly lush, to him, she was radiantly beautiful; he smiled at the memory of her feistiness. But there was something wrong; she seemed nervous, uncertain...almost afraid. She looked at the assembled guests with an expression akin to panic. As Cassandra's jukebox -- iPod, indeed; even his cluttered memory wasn't that bad -- began to play, she rushed from the room.

He remembered now. This was her first trip in the TARDIS; Platform One was the first place the Doctor had taken her. As if the thought had summoned him, there he was, in pursuit of his youthful companion. Nose and ears, cropped hair and leather coat. The Doctor.

Long ago, but not all that far away as these things went, he had once been asked what might have caused him to open a rift in time and space despite his sworn guardianship of it. "The right doctor," he'd responded. And now, before him, finally, after all this time.... But he checked his impulse to move toward the Time Lord before it even began. He was no longer someone the Doctor would recognize and besides, in the Doctor's timeline, they hadn't yet met. With a sinking feeling, the Face of Boe moved aside and let the events that Rose Tyler had recounted to him untold millenia ago, when they had both traveled with the Doctor, unfold as they already had.

Part Two
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