Title: Time Bomb
Pairing: Tenth Doctor/Jethro Cane
Fandom: Doctor Who
Prompt: 48, Watching the Clock
Author's Note: I know nothing about how to defuse a bomb. Apologies if what I've written isn't possible -- practice some suspension of disbelief. This is, after all, fiction.
Disclaimer: This is entirely a product of my own imagination, and I make no profit from it. I do not own the Tenth Doctor or Jethro Cane. Please do not sue.
***The Doctor glanced at the clock again, taking in the fact that the hands had slipped forward another three minutes. Forty-five minutes left. He would either have to manage to slip out of these ropes somehow -- or hope that Jethro could find him and get them both out of here before the inevitable happened.
He tugged at the ropes binding his wrists behind the back of the chair again, to no avail. The person who had tied the knots knew how to make them tight; there was no way he could wriggle free. He could do nothing but sit here and stare at the clock, waiting for the hands to reach their countdown to midnight.
Just how had they gotten into this situation, anyway? It had seemed so simple, spending some time in the late twentieth century, keeping to themselves and staying out of trouble for once. But Jethro had said it best, the Doctor thought wryly. Trouble somehow seemed to find him, even when he was trying his best to avoid it.
Neither of them had counted on stumbling across a gang selling drugs -- though at least Jethro had managed to get away, the Doctor told himself, twisting his wrists again in a vain effort to at least loosen the ropes. It was impossible; he was bound far too tightly. Even the Master hadn't been able to restrain him this completely.
They shouldn't have come back here, the Doctor thought, raising his eyes to the clock again. It would have been much smarter to simply go to the police -- but as Jethro had pointed out, that hadn't been an option, considering that they were from another time. There would have been too many questions asked, questions that they wouldn't have been able to answer.
So, they'd taken matters into their own hands, which had been a definite mistake. The Doctor hoped that Jethro would find his way back here in time; if he didn't, then not only would he himself die, but there was the possibility that several humans in the buildings around him would be killed as well.
The Doctor squirmed in the chair, cursing whatever gang member it was who'd apparently been a boy scout and learned to tie knots so well. His arms and legs were firmly secured; there was no possible way to free himself. He might as well stop trying.
His eyes went to the black wires connecting the small black box to the clock face, each tick of the clock sounding like a hammer blow inside his head. The bomb would detonate precisely at midnight; there were only forty-two minutes remaining now. Forty-two minutes of his life left, unless Jethro could somehow manage to magically appear and save the day.
He couldn't move, couldn't scream; they'd taken the precaution of gagging him twice, a wadded cloth shoved into his mouth and another tied between his lips to hold the gag in place. He couldn't get out more than a squeak, and even that was muffled. He was effectively restrained and silenced, more helpless than he'd ever been in all his lives.
Jethro was his only hope, the Doctor thought, flexing his wrists again in an effort to keep his hands from going numb. He had no idea where his young lover was now, but he was sure that Jethro had gotten away in the fracas. If those men had taken his boyfriend captive, then Jethro would certainly be sharing the fate they'd planned for him.
If there was some way for him to work the ropes free from the chair, then maybe he could move himself along the floor and manage to pull the wires free from the bomb -- if his hands weren't too numb to feel what he was doing. But it was impossible; the ropes around his waist and thighs were too secure for him to loosen.
Wait .... did he really need to free himself from the chair? Not really; if he could tip it over somehow, then manage to work his way across the floor, it might be possible. The bomb was only ten feet or so away from him. He might be able to do it -- but he would be cutting it terribly close.
The Doctor cast another glance up at the clock -- thirty-seven minutes remained. He couldn't just sit here and wait for the minutes to creep forward to certain death; he had to do something, even if it was to no avail in the end. At least he would die knowing that he'd tried to avert the inevitable.
He shifted his body a little to one side, then the other, hoping that he could rock the chair enough to overturn it. If he was lucky, he wouldn't land on an arm and suffer any broken bones; he'd be able to turn to the side enough before he hit the ground. It was a chance that he'd have to take; there really wasn't much of a choice, at this point.
There .... the chair had almost tipped over. The Doctor shifted himself to the side again with more force, once, then twice. The chair seemed to hang suspended for a second, before falling to the side and depositing the Doctor on the floor, knocking the breath from his lungs.
The Doctor winced when the chair fell to the side; he managed to twist his body enough so that the majority of his weight didn't land on his left arm, but he could still feel that there was bruising and swelling. It was only to be expected, he told himself, squirming against his bonds and trying to propel himself along the floor.
He wanted to scream with each movement; there was a white-hot pain shooting up his arm, becoming more potent with every second that passed. Stars swam before his eyes, black spots dancing at the edges of his vision. Oh, wonderful. On top of everything else, in spite of the caution he'd tried to take, he'd apparently also managed to break his arm.
No, maybe it wasn't broken, he told himself, thrashing and squirming frantically in an effort to move. The chair he was bound to was heavier than he'd thought; he hadn't considered that when he'd formulated this skeleton of a plan. It was nearly impossible to move, since he had to drag the heavy frame of the chair along with him.
This wasn't going to work, he realized after several long moments of struggling. He'd only moved a few inches along the floor; he would need at least a couple of hours to be able to get anywhere near the ticking bomb. A glance at the clock told him that he definitely didn't have that much time. Nowhere close to it.
Twenty-five minutes. That was all. Less than half an hour.
He could almost hear himself whimpering behind his gag; it felt as though death had never been this close, this palpable. It was as if he could feel that cold darkness reaching out for him, ensuring that he would never see Jethro again, that he'd never see the Tardis, or Jack, or anyone else he cared about.
He'd never feel Jethro's arms around him again, never wake up in his boyfriend's arms. He wouldn't be able to tell Jethro one last time how much he was loved, how much the Doctor needed him and wanted to spend the rest of his life -- no, lives -- with him. There were so many things he'd never be able to do ....
His eyes went to the face of the clock again; less than twenty minutes now, the time ticking away inexorably, inching closer and closer to oblivion. The Doctor squeezed his eyes closed, his bound hands clenching into fists. He could feel tears prickling behind his eyes, trying to force their way out, but he held them back, resolved not to lose control at the end.
What would it be like? He'd never really thought about death; he'd always known that he would have to face it as a matter of course at some point, and he'd come close to it more than once in his long life. But this hadn't been the way that he'd pictured his death -- it had always been something at once more dramatic and .... easier to deal with.
This wasn't the way he wanted to die. Not here, not in this time, a helpless victim unable to have any say in what was happening. He'd always thought that he would die saving others -- and now, in the position he was in, he couldn't even save himself. It didn't seem fair, somehow. This wasn't the noble, valiant death he'd imagined would come to him.
There had always seemed to be so much time ahead of him, time to accomplish everything he'd wanted to get done. Now, all he could think about were the things he'd never be able to do, the things that he'd always set aside for another time, thinking that he would have plenty of that left to him. He'd never foreseen something like this.
Fifteen minutes .... fourteen .... thirteen. The Doctor tried to tear his eyes away from the clock face, but he couldn't. He felt paralyzed, unable to move, barely breathing. This wasn't the way he wanted to spend his last few minutes of life ....
Twelve minutes. He resumed his struggling and squirming, twisting his body against the ropes binding him, trying frantically to loosen them so that he could wriggle free. But there wouldn't be enough time even if he could manage to free himself; he knew that, even if his conscious mind didn't want to admit it.
Ten minutes. He was doomed. He would die here, and Jethro would never know what had happened to him. Jethro. Where was he? Had he managed to get away from those men, or was he a prisoner too, just as helpless as the Doctor was? The Time Lord hoped not; if there was any justice in the universe, Jethro would escape and be able to continue his life.
Nine minutes. Would Jethro ever find out what had happened to him? The Doctor wasn't sure that he wanted his young lover to know; Jethro would more than likely make it a personal vendetta to track down those men and dispatch them himself, and he couldn't bear the thought of the young man he loved ending his life in any way similar to this.
Eight minutes. He closed his eyes, resting his cheek against the cold concrete floor. Tears were coming now, trickling down his cheeks, feeling curiously hot against his skin. His mouth felt dry, parched; not just from the gag, but from fear. What would it be like, being blown to smithereens? It would probably be over in a few seconds; that was the best he could hope for.
He opened his eyes again, his gaze drawn to the clock in spite of himself. Seven minutes. What was that sound? It didn't fit in with the slow, steady ticking of the counter affixed to the bomb; no, it wasn't in any kind of rhythm. In fact, it went against the rhythm of that slow ticking, forcing its way into his consciousness.
The Doctor raised his head slightly, trying to find out where that pounding was coming from. It seemed to come from the heavy door in the corner, the door that had been locked from the outside when his captors had left. It sounded as though someone was trying to break down the door from the other side ---
No. It couldn't be.
He glanced up at the clock again, his breath catching in his throat. Only four minutes left. Whoever was trying to break into the room didn't know what was happening, the danger that they were in. They would die here with him, without knowing what they were rushing into. But he couldn't warn them, couldn't shout at them to keep away.
With a crash, the door burst open, banging into the wall and nearly falling off its hinges. The Doctor had to blink to make sure that he was actually seeing what he thought was in front of his eyes. It wasn't possible. He had to be hallucinating. He was so far gone that he was seeing things, imagining what he hoped could actually be there.
Jethro ran across the room, dropping to his knees beside the Doctor and reaching for the gag covering the Time Lord's mouth. His hands gently removed the cloth, cradling the Doctor's face and stroking through his hair. That touch .... he'd thought he would never feel it again.
But now wasn't the time to think about that. "Jethro! The bomb!" The Doctor jerked his head towards the sinister black box on the floor, lurching forward as though he could reach it. "Pull the wires out. Hurry!"
Jethro leaped towards the bomb, stopping and staring at it, then back at the Doctor. "Which wires?" His voice was trembling, his hands hovering above the box, not daring to touch it.
"All of them!" The Doctor prayed that he was right; if he wasn't, then they would both be blown into the next century within a matter of moments. There wasn't enough time to decide exactly which wires needed to be pulled away from the box; hopefully, detaching all of them would work. If it didn't -- then he'd just made a fatal mistake.
Jethro cast him a frantic look, picking up the bomb in both hands. The Doctor looked up at the clock face -- less than a minute left. "Jethro, do it now!" he almost screamed, wanting to squeeze his eyes shut again but unable to make himself do it.
Grasping the few wires that led from the black box to the clock, Jethro yanked at them, pulling them all out at the same time.
The Doctor held his breath; for a few moments, there was no sound in the room save Jethro's rapid breathing and the ticking of the clock. The Time Lord finally looked up at the clock, a feeling of relief washing over hm.
A minute past midnight. The bomb hadn't been detonated. They were safe.
He let himself go limp, letting out his breath in a gasp. Instantly, Jethro was by his side, pulling the sonic screwdriver from where the Doctor had been unable to get to it in his coat pocket and pointing it at the ropes binding the Time Lord's wrists. They fell away as though they'd never existed; Jethro did the same with the other ropes, until the Doctor was freed.
"You've just saved several lives, Jethro," the Doctor managed to say, his voice feeling choked in his throat. He swallowed, running his tongue over dry lips. The first thing he was going to do when they reached the Tardis was get something to drink, he told himself. He had to get the taste of musty cloth out of his mouth.
"There was only one life in particular I was worried about," his young lover murmured, helping the Doctor to his feet. "Are you all right? Can you make it back to the Tardis?"
The Doctor nodded, leaning against Jethro as the young man slipped an arm around his waist. He still felt weak, but he was definitely capable of walking out of here. He'd probably have some terrible nightmares about his narrow escape for a while, but if that was the worst aftereffect he suffered from this, he'd count himself lucky.
"Let's get out of here," he muttered, stumbling towards the door, not looking back. He didn't want to remember anything about this place. "If I don't see this era again for the rest of my lives, it will probably be too soon."
"Don't say that, Doctor," Jethro cautioned, supporting the Doctor as they made their way out of the building, keeping the Time Lord close against his side. "You never know when we might have to come back here. It might be sooner than you think."
The Time Lord sighed, nodding. "You're right. As usual." He stopped in his tracks, making Jethro look over at him with raised eyebrows. "You saved my life tonight, Jethro," he said softly, his dark gaze meeting the young man's. "I can never repay you for all you've done for me, and this is just one more thing that I owe you. But I'm going to try."
"You don't owe me anything," Jethro whispered, wrapping both arms around the Doctor and letting the Time Lord lean against him. The young man pressed his lips against the Doctor's slightly swollen mouth, the kiss sweet and gentle, full of promise. When the Time Lord finally pulled away, his breath was coming faster, his gaze unfocused.
"I think we should get back to the Tardis as quickly as possible," he managed to get out. "You may think I don't owe you a debt, but I believe I need to start working on repaying you as soon as I can."
"Then we should hurry," Jethro murmured, holding the Doctor close to him as they made their way down the darkened streets, both of them sighing in relief when they saw the Tardis as they turned down an empty street. Within moments, they were inside the blue police box; it only took a few more seconds for the Tardis to shimmer into space, as if she had never existed.
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