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SUNDAY, April 14, 1912 (cont'd)

Mika and Murdoch emerged out onto the deck, the water only a few feet away and rising fast. They struggled to keep their balance as the deck continued to tilt and screaming people shoved their way past in a vain effort to stay ahead of the advancing ocean.

"Come on!" she shouted to Murdoch, trying with some difficulty to make herself heard over the deafening roar of the doomed passengers and ship. "We haven't got much time. Stay close to me, whatever you do!"

He nodded that he understood and together they made their way precariously across the sloping deck. They had emerged on the opposite side of the ship from where she had left her time capsule and so had to make their way around the back part of the deck to reach it. But passengers and crew, in a frantic attempt to prolong the inevitable, were clogging up every possible route. Finally, Mika led them through the aft Grand Staircase entrance and through to the other side. Finally, they were within reach of the TARDIS and safety.

But, Mika's hearts stopped at the sight that greeted them: a group of men were surrounding the structure, trying to tip it overboard. Apparently, they thought it would float and provide a means of rescue for some of them. Mika knew that the TARDIS was much too heavy and would sink to the bottom like a rock, leaving them stranded with the rest of the unfortunate souls.

"Will," she cried desperately, pointing at the men, "we have to stop them! That's our only way off!"

Though he did not fully understand what she was talking about, he could see the panic in her face. Immediately, he sprang into action and began pulling people from around the small building. He managed to thin the crowd out a bit, but it was too little too late and the TARDIS began to rock back and forth, threatening to fall over the edge. Mika joined in the action as well, grabbing first one man and then another, shoving them aside and screaming for them to stop.

Then, one fellow, one of the ship's stokers who had apparently had his fill of officers' orders, grabbed Murdoch by the collar and punched him in the jaw, sending him flying over the rail and down into the icy water below. Mika saw this and flew at the man, grabbing him by the arm and kneeing him in the stomach. She peered over the rail and searched for Murdoch. At first, she saw no sign of him amid the thrashing people already in the water. Then she spotted him, floating lifelessly a few yards from the ship. She considered her options for a split-second then turned back to the TARDIS. Just then, the dying Titanic gave a sickening lurch and rolled slightly to starboard, completing the task the men had begun, sending the time capsule overboard. Mika watched in horror as it instantly sank beneath the waves.

Her course of action now having been decided for her, Mika shoved everyone aside and pulled off her coat. Several of the men froze in shock and amazement at the sight of Mika in her skintight suit. Ignoring them, she checked the controls at her wrist to make sure that the thermal regulator was set at maximum. Then, taking a deep breath, she dove into the freezing ocean below.

The Doctor, meanwhile, had rushed out onto the deck just in time to see the TARDIS tip overboard. He tried to shout to Mika as she prepared to dive in after it, but could not make himself heard over the surrounding pandemonium. He uttered an epithet in some obscure, forgotten language and hurried back the way he had come.

Mika struggled to overcome the initial shock of hitting the frigid water in spite of her protective clothing. When she had sufficiently recovered her orientation, she headed for Murdoch's still form floating nearby.

When she reached him, she first checked for a pulse. Luckily, he was floating face-up. He was still alive, just unconscious. Behind them, the ship continued it's death throes. The eerie moaning from the collapsing bulkheads as the mighty creature broke apart sent shivers down Mika's spine. She acted quickly, knowing there were only moments left.

"Will!" she grabbed him and shook him trying to bring him around. "Will, come on!"

His eyelids fluttered and he began to panic as he remembered where he was and what had happened.

"Wh... what happened? Your ship?" he stammered.

"Never mind that, it's on the bottom of the ocean by now. Come on, we have to swim away from here or when this thing goes under, it'll take us right along with it."

He nodded and the two of them began to swim as fast as they could away from the ship. Once clear of most of the poor souls thrashing about in the water, Mika surveyed her surroundings as best as she could. The moonless night made it difficult to see very far, but she thought she could just make out an object floating some way off in the distance. It looked to be of considerable size, so she decided to head in that direction.

"Come on, Will," she called to the seaman, now beginning to show signs of fatigue and exposure. "There's something floating just up ahead. I think we may be safe if we can reach it."

Murdoch was lagging far behind and slowing with every passing minute. He looked to where the Time Lord was indicating. He could not see anything, but trusted her judgment.

"I d...don't think I can make it. You g...go on ahead. I'll just rest here f...for a moment," he called back, his teeth chattering so hard he could barely speak.

Mika swam back to him. "Nonsense," she told him. "Come on, put your arms around my neck. I'm not leaving you here. Not after having come this far."

Too exhausted and cold to argue, he did as he was told and Mika towed him towards the dark object looming ahead. The progress was slow and tiring, even for Mika's extraordinary strength. She could feel his body shivering almost convulsively and knew that she had to get him out of the freezing water quickly or he would die.

At last, they reached what turned out to be a huge, flat sheet of ice, presumably broken off from the ice floes that lay only a few miles ahead. She found a suitable spot and helped to push Murdoch's weakening form up onto its surface where he lay still, too exhausted to move. Mika then hauled herself out of the water and sat gasping for breath beside him. Then she ventured a look at the scene they had just left.

The sight before her was like none she had ever seen. The whole massive stern of Titanic was on its end, the three enormous propellers hundreds of feet in the air. Murdoch groaned and sat up unsteadily beside her. Together they watched in silence as the lights finally flickered and went out for the last time. They were far enough away that the only sounds that reached their ears were those of the dying ship as she broke in half. Then they heard the tremendous splash as the stern fell back before flooding and sinking, itself, beneath the unforgiving sea. The last thing they heard was a mighty sucking sound as the last trace of the unsinkable ship disappeared forever. Then nothing. It was as if there had never been anything there at all. Only the sound of their own breathing and of Murdoch's chattering teeth broke the eerie silence. This caught Mika's attention.

She stood up, carefully, for the surface of the ice was slippery, and held out her hand. "Will, give me your coat."

He looked up at her questioningly, but did as he was told. He owed her too much not to trust her.

She took the heavy water-logged coat and began to wring it out. Satisfied that she had removed as much of the water as she could, Mika then wrapped it tightly around the First Officer's shivering, huddled form.

"There, that should help a little."

"Th...thank you. But, wh...what about you?"

"Don't you worry yourself about me." She indicated the outfit she was wearing. "This suit is waterproof and has a built-in heater. I will be just fine, as long as the power pack holds out."

Modestly, he averted his eyes as he noticed her strange clothing, or apparent lack thereof, for the first time. Mika noted this and laughed as she sat down next to him, hugging her knees. "You had best get used to it. I wear this sort of thing all the time."

He looked over at her and managed a small, sheepish grin. It faded quickly as he thought about their dismal future.

"Wh...what do w...we do now? Your sh...ship is gone."

Mika shrugged her shoulders and sighed. "There is really nothing we can do, except wait. Perhaps, by some miracle, the Doctor will have realized what happened and come rescue us. If not, we just sit here and wait for the Carpathia to arrive." She studied the trembling form next to her. 'Either way,' she thought to herself, 'I don't think you are going to last much longer in this cold.' In spite of her suit, Mika, too, was beginning to feel the effects of the frigid night air.

They sat quietly, each immersed in their own thoughts. Mika tried in vain not to think about the events of that night and what she had been forced to leave behind. Murdoch was trying to justify his survival. He was the first to break the silence.

"Mika, wh...why did you s...save me?"

She looked at him questioningly. "Would you rather I hadn't?" she asked.

"It's just...well...I d...deserved to die. I w...was in charge. It was m...my duty to watch for ice - you even w...warned me - and I failed. I was respons...sible and I should have g...gone down with the ship."

"Nonsense," she exclaimed. "You did the best you could - what anyone put in your position would have done. History will not place the blame on your head, William McMaster Murdoch. In fact, it will be determined that there was no single cause for what happened here this night. Just a lot of little things that added up." She paused to study his reaction. "Titanic was doomed from the moment they began to lay her keel. So don't go blaming yourself, all right?"

Murdoch remained silent.

"Will, do you hear me?" He just sat there hunched over, with his knees drawn up to his chest, his arms tightly around them, and his head down. Mika was beginning to worry. "Will?" She gently touched his arm.

Slowly, he raised his head and brought his eyes to meet hers. A single tear crept down his already moist cheek. Embarrassed, he wiped it away and feebly tried to smile.

"At least now I w...won't die alone," he said feebly.

Mika sighed and shook her head. Then she put her arms about him and drew him close.

"Oh, Will, you are not going to die. Not if I can help it." She tenderly brushed the hair from his forehead and gave him what she hoped was an encouraging smile. They huddled together to conserve body heat and waited in the eerie silence. It felt to them as if they were the only two beings left alive in the entire world.

Under her breath, Mika found herself uttering, "Come on, Doctor, you're our only hope now."

 

Mika awoke slowly, as if from a bad dream. Her first thought was of Murdoch. He was lying in a heap beside her. His shivering had stopped and she feared the worst. She knew she had to do something quickly, or they would both die out here.

But Mika would not die. She was a Time Lord and Time Lords did not die until they had used all twelve of their regenerations. Of course! In order to regenerate, her body would automatically be transported back to her TARDIS thanks to the tiny transmat node she had had implanted several years ago after a close call on Bandragenous VI. Knowing what she now had to do, Mika stood up and sighed. She switched off the power supply to her suit, then knelt down beside her friend. After having determined that he was still alive, but barely, she kissed him gently on the forehead, then turned back to the deep, unforgiving black water. She would have to give up a regeneration, but she still had ten more left. So many other people had already been forced to give up their lives on this night, what was one more?

Casting a final glance back at Murdoch's still form, she took a deep breath and dove into the icy blackness. The impact was like running headfirst into a wall of ice. She instinctively fought off the unconsciousness that threatened to envelope her, but then remembered that that was the whole point, and forced herself to let go.

Mika's lungs felt as if they were on fire, and she began to feel light headed and disoriented as first one of her four hearts stopped beating, and then another. The last thing she remembered, before she lost consciousness completely, was seeing Thomas Andrews beckoning her into his arms, tears streaming down his face.........

Mika awoke with a start, almost knocking over the sleeping Murdoch. Had she heard a noise? She was not sure. She wasn't even sure where she really was anymore. A noise behind her caused her to look behind. There was something. It had been the sound of a TARDIS' materialization circuits that had awakened her from her icy dream.

Shaking Murdoch into wakefulness, Mika scrambled stiffly to her feet. There was a huge impression in the ice where their warm bodies had melted it away.

"Doctor!" she croaked, her voice stiff with cold.

The door of the battered, old blue police box creaked open and the Doctor's bright smiling face peered out. Mika had never been more happy to see the old Gallifreyan than she was at this moment.

"Brrrr! Haven't you people paid your heating bill lately?" he cracked.

She helped Murdoch gingerly to his feet. "Boy, are we ever glad to see you!" she proclaimed. "My TARDIS, it..."

"Yes, I know what happened," he interrupted. "I saw it all, but was too late to help. I took the liberty of picking it up before I came here. That's what took me so long, you know how difficult these short hops are for the old Type 40s."

Mika was ecstatic. "Doctor, I could just kiss you. But we'd better get this poor fellow in out of the cold. I think he's suffered long enough."

"By all means." The Doctor took one of Murdoch's arms and with Mika's help, the Time Lords carried him into the warm, dry TARDIS. After seeing him to a nearby chair and wrapping him in a dry blanket, the Doctor went off in search of some hot cocoa for all of them. Mika glanced around the Doctor's control room. There it was, in the corner, Mika's TARDIS: her home. She walked over to it and patted it lovingly. Now she knew how the Doctor felt about his old Type 40. Battered and timeworn though it was, it was all the home she had and she felt completely lost without it. She took the key from about her neck and opened the door.

Murdoch found his voice, "Mika, you're not going to leave me here are you? I want to stay with you if I may. I owe you so much; you've managed to save my life twice in one night."

Mika was startled by his words. She had not even considered that he would not be coming with her and said as much. "You don't owe me anything, Will. I know you would have done the same for me." She cast him a sweet smile. "Don't worry, I'll be back. I'm just going to change clothes."

Alone inside her own TARDIS, Mika allowed herself the luxury of a hot shower, then changed into her favourite boxers and t-shirt, covering that up with her hot pink bathrobe.

Then, the golden glint of something on her bed caught her eye. She went over and picked it up. It was a man's gold pocket watch, and it was vaguely familiar. Beneath it was a notebook she had definitely seen before. She opened the pocket watch and read the inscription. 'To T from H. All my love.'

Puzzled, Mika looked up to see the Doctor and Murdoch standing in the doorway. "He asked me to give those to you."

Mika slowly closed the pocket watch and let the chain dangle between her fingers, feeling the cool smoothness of the metal. She sat down on the end of the bed.

"He already had a family, didn't he? That was the real reason he didn't want to leave the ship. Am I right?"

The Doctor leaned against the doorway, his hands in his pockets, looking at the floor. "Yes."

Mika closed her eyes and struggled with her emotions. She was determined to not let any of this get to her. But she was not succeeding.

"The fool," she snapped, finally. "There was no need to die because of that. Didn't you tell him that he could go with you, that he didn't have to stay with me if it was uncomfortable?"

"I did, but he said that since he couldn't return to his family or be with you, he was better off staying with the only other thing he loved, his ship. There was nothing I could do. I couldn't very well force him to leave now, could I?"

"Bloody idiot," was all she would say. She looked at the watch in her hands then let it slowly fall to the floor. Mika closed her eyes tightly and fought a losing battle with the tears. Murdoch approached the bed and placed his hand on her shoulder.

"I'm sorry, Mika. Any one of the crew could have told you he was married. But no one knew you two were so ... close."

She buried her face in her hands, then balled them into fists. "Why? It's all so senseless. Why did he lead me on like that? I feel so...so stupid."

The Doctor shrugged. "Who knows? Perhaps he really did love you. Perhaps he figured he would never see you again once the voyage was over so no harm done."

Murdoch had picked up the notebook and was thumbing through it. He had always been curious as to what was in it. Most of the pages were full of figures and diagrams and notes of modifications and changes that he and the other engineers had decided on. It was all very dry and boring and Murdoch only glanced at it briefly. But there was one page at the very back that caught his eye. He read the first few lines then turned to Mika.

"Perhaps this will make things a wee bit clearer," he said, handing the open book to her.

She took the book and read the page he had indicated. Tears fell unchecked as Thomas Andrews' last thoughts were revealed to her. When she was through, she sat still as stone, allowing her hands to fall to her lap. Suddenly, she hurled the notebook across the room where it struck the wall then fell to the floor in a heap.

"The bloody bastard!" she cried. "We could have dealt with his wife and her lover. He didn't have to die!"

Mika turned and threw herself face down upon her bed, her body wracked with sobs. The Doctor motioned wordlessly for Murdoch to accompany him out; to leave her alone for awhile to sort it all out for herself.

The seaman nodded and rose. But he could not bear to see Mika so upset. He thought of all she had done for him, the selfless sacrifices she had made. He walked around to the end of the bed and addressed his grief-ridden friend.

"Mika," he began, his voice low and soft. "I know I've been nothing but a burden to you, and that I am a poor substitute for someone you loved, but if I could change places with Mr. Andrews right now, I would, in a heartbeat, just to see you happy again."

Mika looked up, her tear-filled eyes looked like amethysts at the bottom of a champagne glass. As she considered the words of this dear, simple man, she suddenly felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from her hearts. Romance was all well and good, but there was no substitute for the love of a true friend. She rose to her feet and hugged Murdoch tightly.

"Oh, Will. I think things are perfectly fine just the way they are. I don't think I could bear to be without you by my side." She looked into the mildly surprised face of the officer. "There will be no more talk of this. All right? The subject is closed from now on. It's only you and me, together forever, ok?"

Murdoch smiled and blushed. "You must be a sorceress, for I fear you have placed a spell upon me as well."

She looked at him in disbelief. "What are you saying, Will?"

He could not quite bring himself to say it. "Never mind, it was nothing."

She knew what he had meant, but decided to let him go about it in his own way, and in his own time. After all, time was the one thing they now had plenty of.

*Fin*

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