Disclaimer: I don't own "Doctor Who" or "Twilight", and the essential details of the original concept of this fic came from a video posted on YouTube by heroesdwtw- which can be found on YouTube at .com/watch?v=VTuSUBk8fXk- and is used with their permission
Feedback: Much appreciated
AN: Third in my Doctor/Bella series, and the one where he tells her the truth about the Time War (Hope this works out; I was a bit ambiguous about how the Doctor told Bella about the War, but it felt like the right time for him to tell her about it)...
AN 2: Reference is made here to events of the multi-Doctor audio "The Sirens of Time", where the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors had to work together to save Gallifrey; information about the crisis will be explained in the story, but I thought you'd appreciate knowing where it came from
The Wonder of Life
When the Doctor first opened the TARDIS doors after we reached our next destination, I wasn't sure what shocked me more; the fact that he'd opened the doors onto what was clearly outer space, without so much as an asteroid underneath the door to suggest that the TARDIS had landed on something, or the fact that we weren't automatically losing oxygen the way I was fairly sure we should have started doing once the door was opened like that.
"Oh my god..." I whispered, unable to say anything more as I staggered backwards in a probably-futile-but-still-automatic attempt to preserve whatever air I might have left, before turning to look sharply at the Doctor. "What the-?"
"Oh, don't worry about our location; the TARDIS force field keeps the atmosphere contained, although I wouldn't recommend actually going out the door..." the Doctor said, shrugging slightly as he walked casually up to the door before turning back to face me. "Look, just come here and look; it's worth it, I promise."
With no other option immediately available for me, I walked forward to stand beside the Doctor as he stood casually leaning against the ship's doors, only for my eyes to widen incredulously at the sight before me.
Apparently directly in front of the ship- although I had no idea how far away it was from us- was what looked like a vast cloud in space that was an incredible mixture of various brilliant colours, illuminated by a still, incandescent light from some source that I couldn't see, the entire effect coming together to create a sight that I could only compare to the moment when I first saw Edward in the sunlight.
"The Kurgon Wonder," the Doctor explained, smiling at me even as his voice drew my mind out of its state of awe. "The crowning jewel of the Kurgon system; beautiful, isn't it?"
"Wow..." I whispered, unable to take my eyes completely away from the sight before me.
I'd heard a bit about space nebulas, of course, but seeing one up close was...
Not even the moment when I'd first seen Edward in the sunlight could compare to what I felt when I saw the sight before me now; Edward had been beautiful on an individual level, but the sheer scale of what was in front of us now...
"Over two hundred and fifty million metrons wide, and the light's remained at a constant seven hundred and fifty thousand illumiums since it was first analysed about two centuries before now," the Doctor continued. "It's quite unique, really; only a few people even know how it was created-"
"Uh... 'metrons'?" I repeated, trying to backtrack to something I could question more easily at this point.
"Not sure how to put that in a context you'd understand, sorry; measurements don't always translate well into Earth references, and I haven't been in this area enough to work out how it compares on my own," the Doctor said with a nonchalant shrug. "Still, doesn't stop it being an incredible site; definitely makes an interesting memorial for a unique creature that gave his life so that the universe could live, would you?"
"What?" I asked, turning to look at him in confusion, my appreciation of the wonder before me suddenly halted by the news that something had died to create it.
"Well, technically it was the site of its death, anyway," the Doctor said with a casual shrug. "The Temperon- that was the creature's name; it was a unique time-dwelling life-form, with an origin so far in the past even my people aren't entirely sure about it- was being used by a group of space warriors called the Knights of Valyesha in time-travel experiments, and then..."
His voice trailed off, a grim expression on his face as he stared at the nebula before us, his eyes flicking between me and the nebula and his whole expression somehow reminding me of Jake back when I'd tried to figure out what was happening to him- torn between wanting to tell me more and not wanting to tell me anything- before he finally seemed to come to a decision.
"The experiments were used by the Knights to help them conquer my planet," he continued, a solemn expression on his face as he turned to look with a wistful expression at the control console in the middle of the room, as though it was a reminder of something important to him. "They actually did conquer my planet with the Temperon unwillingly acting as their means of time travel; I was only just able to beat them by letting the Temperon sacrifice itself to keep its would-be masters contained forever..."
"Oh," I said to that, feeling the sheer inadequacy of the statement as soon as it had passed my lips.
Strangely, however, the fact that I was feeling sorry for the Doctor was all that I felt at that point. Even as I recognised the fact that he still felt guilty about what he'd done, everything I knew about him- no matter how limited it might be- made me certain that he'd only done what he'd done because there'd been no other choice to stop the 'Sirens'; getting angry at him for making what had clearly been a difficult decision at the time wouldn't accomplish anything...
"Right then," the Doctor suddenly said, clapping his hands together and breaking me out of that train of thought as he looked at me with a casual smile. "So, given that there's more to see than do here, and since I've been the only one picking and choosing our travels for these last few days for the most part, do you have any preferences for where we go next?"
"Uh..." I began uncertainly, my curiosity and interest nevertheless ignited by his comment to a point where I could see nothing else to do but ask the question that now filled my mind to the point where it surpassed even my brief thought of going back to see Edward as a human (It was probably too risky anyway; I might not be particularly sure about the possible implications of time travel changing history, but I knew enough about science-fiction to know that it would probably cause problems somewhere if Edward saw me when he was human before he met me when he was a vampire). "Can we go to... your planet?"
As soon as I'd spoken, the Doctor's whole face seemed to close up to an extent that I'd never even seen Edward's face do, even when he'd left me.
"We don't have to go there if you don't want to," I said, trying to apologise before he did anything drastic; the last thing I wanted was for the Doctor to leave me just because I'd asked the wrong thing. "I just meant that... well, you mentioned that the Temperon helped you save it, and I was just-"
"It's gone," the Doctor said, his tone a low, grim one that I'd never heard from him before.
"What?" I asked, looking at him in confusion.
"My planet," the Doctor said, turning to look at me with an expression of such intense pain on his face that I knew even I hadn't looked that bad even at my worse. "We can't go there because it doesn't exist any more."
Confusion was instantly replaced by horror as I took in what the Doctor had just told me.
An entire planet...
"And... your people?" I asked uncertainly, knowing the answer I would receive but feeling obligated to ask it anyway.
"Dead," the Doctor replied as he looked back at me. "They're all gone, Bella. My planet, my people, all trace of their history..."
He shook his head grimly as he walked back over to the console, his head bowed as he stood over the switches and levers that allowed him to steer his incredible machine wherever he wanted to go, the sight of the nebula behind me forgotten as I looked at my new friend.
He'd lost his entire planet...
I almost couldn't believe that he could bring himself to keep on walking after a loss like that, never mind the fact that he had smiled and talked with me like nothing was wrong for so long before dropping his mask now...
Except that he hadn't just only dropped it now; he'd also dropped it back when he first rescued me. What was it he'd said...?
"I have been a part of a world that was so incredible you could never even begin to imagine it... and lost it all because of who I was."
"Wh... what happened?" I asked at last, my mind racing with half-formed ideas about what could be devastating enough to destroy a planet- particularly a planet inhabited by a race capable of making something as incredible as the TARDIS-, as well as the implications of the Doctor's sentence about his implied role in its destruction.
"There was a war," the Doctor replied, reaching over to close the doors as he turned to look at me, as though he didn't want the brilliance of the Kurgon Wonder to be tainted by the topic he was about to discuss with me. "A Time War, spanning all of time and space, with my people on one side... and the Daleks on the other."
"Daleks?" I asked uncertainly.
"My oldest and most terrible enemies," the Doctor said, as he turned to face me directly, a slightly earnest expression on his face that gave me the impression that he needed me to understand what I was being told about the Daleks. "Genetically engineered on the planet Skaro after a thousand years of war, the Daleks were stripped of all emotion and placed inside an armed casing, programmed from the moment of their creation to regard all other life-forms as inferior; they would kill everything that wasn't a Dalek simply because it wasn't a Dalek, and they honestly believed that the other life-form deserved to die simply for that."
"Oh my God..." I whispered, briefly wondering what a Dalek would look like before I swiftly concluded that a greater part of me didn't want to know. "And... they won the war?"
"No," the Doctor said, looking back at me with the same look of pain that I'd first seen in his eyes on the day we met- had that only been just under a week ago?-, the pain that reminded me of my own pain of Edward's departure...
"Everybody lost," the Doctor finished, the intensity of his expression leaving me momentarily flustered and hurt at forgetting the Doctor's pain while caught up in my own (And that was a new thought in itself; I wasn't used to even being capable of thinking about how others might feel about stuff I did after Edward left).
"Uh..." I began before I took in the Doctor's still-grim expression, and swiftly decided that silence was the best option.
"It was all or nothing, Bella," the Doctor continued, his head bowed as he spoke; I got the impression that he was just putting spoken words to an argument he'd had with himself several times in the past. "We'd fought for so long... we'd each tried every trick we could without actually paradoxing each other out of existence by attempting to go back and pre-empt our pre-emptive attacks... and in the end..."
He walked around the console to slump down in the chair, his eyes looking up at the ceiling as he spoke, almost as though he didn't want to see my reaction to what he was about to say. "I couldn't do anything else."
I realised what he meant by that instantly.
The man before me had destroyed his own planet...
For a moment, as I looked at him, I was reminded of my first few meetings with Edward all over again; they'd both killed people in the past, and both of them had been reluctant to tell me about it...
But they aren't the same, I realised as I looked at the man before me, contemplating my own feelings about what he'd just revealed to me.
It wasn't that I wasn't horrified at what he'd had to do, but, just like when Edward had told me that he'd killed people before, it didn't matter that much to me.
I was sorry that people had died for Edward and the Doctor to be where they were now, of course, but... at the same time, if it meant that they were here with me now...
It wasn't that I loved the Doctor, of course- he was too blatantly older for that; he reminded me more of a keen teacher wanting to share his enthusiasm with a student rather than the more 'equal' relationship I'd thought that I'd had with Edward-, but he'd shown me so much already, I couldn't bring myself to hate him for what he'd done before we'd even met.
As much as I still hated to think ill of Edward no matter how much he'd hurt me when he left, he'd killed simply because he'd wanted to feed, even if he'd only killed criminals; the Doctor might have killed on a larger scale than Edward, but he'd done it because it was the only way to protect innocents on a scale that I doubted anyone could fully imagine.
No matter how I looked at it, in the end, the Doctor had killed for others, while Edward had essentially killed for himself.
"I..." I began at last, walking around to sit beside the Doctor and smile at him in a weakly reassuring manner that I could only hope concealed my inner conflict about my recent thoughts regarding Edward. "I'm sure you did what you could-"
"It wasn't enough," the Doctor said as he looked back at me, a deep pain in his eyes at the memory. "I could have stopped it in the beginning- the Time Lords once sent me back in time to stop the Daleks at their creation and I still couldn't do it-"
"You can't blame yourself for what other people do, Doctor," I said automatically, staring intently at my new friend, hoping that my impulsively chosen words would be enough to get through to him. "You couldn't have known that they were going to attack your planet-"
"They're evil-!" the Doctor began.
"And all you did was give them a chance," I continued with a sudden strength of will I couldn't recall ever feeling before, remembering my own thoughts about the Cullens; scared about what I thought they were, but still willing to take the risk of finding out if they would hurt me rather than hiding away simply because of the chance that they would (Even as I admitted to myself that it was a poor analogy given the scale of the choice the Doctor had apparently had to make). "You let them live because it's who you are, Doctor; you're not responsible for what anyone else does after you saved them."
Once again, I found myself reflecting back on the first time I'd learnt that Edward had killed humans, and how I'd felt about the issue at the time.
As much as I knew that it was wrong for him to kill, blaming him for what he'd done because it had seemed the right thing for him to do at the time wouldn't have accomplished anything but leave everyone involved feeling bad; who he was now wouldn't have done what he'd done then, and that was all that mattered.
Just like when he'd sacrificed the Temperon, the Doctor had made the only choice he could in an impossible situation...
Looking at the man before me, I felt briefly humbled at the idea that someone who had done something so noble had chosen to ask me to travel with him, but I pushed that aside; getting caught up in 'hero worship' was the last thing I needed when I was still dealing with the mess that Edward had left when he'd left me...
"Good point," the Doctor said after a moment's silence, breaking into my thoughts as he smiled at me.
"What was?" I asked, going back over what I'd said to try and identify where I'd made my point.
"Your point about responsibility," the Doctor clarified with a brief smile that had no real amusement behind it even if there was a slight warmth there as well. "All we can do is make our own decisions; we can't blame ourselves for how anyone else responds to it."
"You're welcome," I replied with a brief smile of my own.
It was only after I'd said those words that I fully processed what the Doctor had just said- processed the fact that we couldn't blame ourselves for how others responded to what we did ourselves- that I realised something.
That was what I'd been doing...
Admittedly, it wasn't the same thing as what the Doctor had done- he knew what he'd done wrong when dealing with the Daleks; I had no idea what I'd specifically done to make Edward lose interest in me-, but the point remained the same; all we'd done was be what we were, and how other people responded to that was nobody's fault but theirs.
Edward leaving me like that had hurt, but it wasn't my fault; I couldn't be blamed for him deciding that I wasn't enough for him any more.
The Doctor and I had done nothing but be the people that we were; how other people reacted to that wasn't something that we could blame ourselves for, no matter what the consequences had been...
"Right then," the Doctor said, standing up and smiling at me, emotional awkwardness apparently forgotten in the face of our next potential adventure, "once again, any preferences on our next stop?"
"Well..." I said, pausing for a moment before pushing the thoughts that came to mind to the back- a trip to the past could wait until I was sure that I wouldn't give into temptation and try and do something I shouldn't-, "nothing's immediately coming to mind right now; is there any way we could... set the TARDIS to 'Shuffle' and see what we get?"
"'Shuffle'?" the Doctor repeated with a raised eyebrow.
"I'm of the iPod generation; what can I say?" I asked with a casual shrug even as I couldn't help but smile at him.
What we'd just shared had definitely been an emotionally difficult moment for the Doctor, and I doubted that I'd get the chance to hear something like that from him again any time soon, but just the fact that he'd shared something like that with me meant more than I could express.
Even after Edward had left me, the idea that the Doctor could still find something in me that made him have enough faith in me to share something so deeply personal after such a short time together...
As we set off for wherever our next destination would be, I could only hope to myself that I'd prove that I deserved that faith.
AN 3: Well, if all goes well, the next chapter will feature the Doctor and Bella facing a crisis from canon, as Bella Swan becomes involved in the events of the New Series novel Prisoner of the Daleks...