On the Nature of Paradoxes

Summary: The Doctor has a choice--save the woman he loves from certain death, or let her die. Of course it can't ever be easy or simple. Because the only way to save her is to create a paradox, but if he sits back and does nothing, there'll be a paradox anyway.

Author's Note: I don't actually remember writing this. I found it in one of my notebooks when I was looking for something else entirely, and I was like "Huh. This is pretty good. I should type it up and post it." So that's what I've done. I don't entirely like the title, but oh well.

Disclaimer: Doctor Who belongs to the BBC and a whole list of other people that don't include me. I'm just playing, because it's fun.

Save the woman you love from certain death--sounds like an easy enough choice, if you don't look at all the facts. But then you step back and take a closer look, because of course it can't ever be easy or simple; no, not for him. Because the only way to save her is to create a paradox, but if he sits back and does nothing, there'll be a paradox anyway.

It was like a bad film from the 1980s, people fading in and out of existence, the future changing too quickly to keep up, even for him (which was saying something, because he had an inherent sense of time, and this was just wrong).

"We've got to help them, Doctor!" He'd forgotten he wasn't alone, forgotten that time was still racing away, because that was Rose there, about to be killed, and had he just un-regenerated?

"I can't," he replied helplessly, the thick Northern accent strange to his too-large ears.

"Doctor, what's going on? What happened to you?"

The suit didn't fit right, but he hardly noticed. "They're going to kill her. They're going to kill Rose, and I haven't met her yet, and if she dies now, then..."

"Then what, Doctor? Save her, if it's that important!"

"I haven't met her yet!" he roared back, and he'd forgotten just how bad his temper could be in this old version of himself, forgotten just how much he hated paradoxes, especially when his latest companion faded away, because of course if he hadn't met Rose, he'd not have been here, now, with the companion he'd been with.

Everything was unraveling too quickly, and his mind (his brilliant Time Lord mind) was still stuck on Rose, fear in her eyes as she couldn't even understand why these strange creatures were threatening to kill her, a simple shop-girl from London, and oh-bloody-hell, he hated when this happened.

And really, the choice wasn't that hard, to save the woman he loved, paradox or not (not really "not", because there'd be one either way, and at least maybe he could do some sort of damage control if it was his doing). So he jumped into the fray, mouth flapping and brain whirling too quickly, trying to salvage things (which of course wasn't helped when he re-regenerated, but at least his suit wasn't chafing any more, and he was his old new self again, which had to count for something).

And then he was being faced down by Rose Tyler, no longer in danger of dying, but still in plenty of danger of causing the universe to explode, and of course he just had to go and kiss her, just in time for River to reappear and start asking too many questions.

"What the hell just happened?" River asked as Rose stared at this strange man who she'd watched change in front of her eyes (again-but-not-yet) and who had saved her life and something like that a girl just doesn't forget, which is where the whole universe exploding thing came into play of course.

"They were trying to create a paradox by killing Rose," he replied.

"But didn't you create one by saving her?" River asked, perceptive as always.

"Right, time for damage control. Sorry about this, know how much you hate it, but I've got to do it or you'll never get to hate it, and all of this is even starting to make my head hurt," he babbled, because he was good at it, and it would distract Rose long enough for him to get inside and make her forget about big ears and kissing and future companions.

And then he and River were gone again, and Rose went back to work for two more months before an oddly familiar stranger blew it up and she made the choice to travel in all of space and time with him.

"I hate paradoxes," he grumbled, years later.

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