A/N - Hello again, lovely people. Oh, I've missed this. I know I said I wouldn't be back for a while and I've still got exams, but I got this idea and it just wouldn't wait, and, well, sharing is caring, right? Let me know what you think, anyways.
DISCLAIMER: Do. Not. Own. If I did, I wouldn't be here. Do be serious.
This is a one-shot, in case you're wondering about that, and it's set somewhere in the beginning of Series Five before Rory joins in for tomfoolery in the TARDIS.
The Doctor sighed and leaned heavily against the TARDIS console. It had been another one of those days when he'd tried to take Amy somewhere nice, and everything had gone horribly wrong.
She'd suggested Victorian London and he had obliged, deliberately choosing a year he hadn't previously visited. As usual, that hadn't quite gone according to plan and they had landed in London all right, but 1918 London, just at the height of the pandemic of Spanish influenza. He'd tried to distract Amy enough in order to take her somewhere else, but before he had a chance to stop her she had bounded out of the doors - right into Guy's Hospital. Being the marvellous, caring human that she was, she'd found her heart slowly breaking in front of rows and rows of sickly, doomed children, all of them under the age of five. Unable to understand that this was something that must always happen, a fixed point in time, she had begged the Doctor to do something. He'd done his best, making the dying children smile with his jokes; holding their hands and telling them not to be afraid; reading the last bedtime story that their little ears would ever hear. The nurses, who had been keen to kick him out at first, were amazed with his effect and begged him to stay. But he couldn't take much more than a few hours before remembering how his own children had died screaming, and how he hadn't been able to do anything for them. He couldn't even tell them he was sorry. And here he was, comforting the children of strangers while his own lay in ashes along with the rest of his race. It hurt too much to watch these children die, too.
And then Amy had started asking questions. She'd grown attached to them. He was stupid for letting her get this close, really old and really stupid. They couldn't do anything. He had pulled Amy into the TARDIS before she had a chance to protest and took off without a word.
"What are you doing?" Amy demanded, marching over and pulling down a lever he had just flicked up. "Aren't we going to help?"
"We can't," the Doctor said flatly. "This is a fixed point in time. We can't save anyone, we could end up making the infection stronger and killing everyone. Besides, you've already been in contact with it. I can't risk your safety."
"Just one," Amy said. "Please. Just one of those kids. You saw that boy, James. He loved you." Amy realised that he was trying to shut her out and changed tack. "How old was he?" she asked him. When he didn't reply, she asked again, more determinedly. "How old was he, Doctor?"
"Three and almost four. It's his birthday soon. He told me." the Doctor turned away.
"You're going to leave a three-year-old to just die?" Amy said. "Just like that, you're going to build his hopes up and then crush them? You're the Doctor, for crying out loud, saving people is what you do!"
"Not always," he said, still looking down. "Sometimes people have to die."
"Yeah, old people who have lived their lives. Not little kids," Amy pressed. "Why won't you save him? It's just one little kid, what difference can that make? Five-minute hop to the medical bay and he'd be fine, you know he would be. It's only one. Please, Doctor." He remained silent and she grabbed his arm, forcing him to look at her. Tears were swimming in her eyes. "Please," she begged him. "Just one little boy."
"Okay," he said. "Okay. I'll save one of them. But how am I supposed to choose, Amy? How am I supposed to choose who gets to live and who gets to die?"
"It's not like that -" Amy protested, but the Doctor cut her off.
"Of course it's like that," he said. "You know it is." he walked around to the other side of the console, trying to get away from her. She followed him.
"You told me that we observe only, that we never interfere - unless there's children crying. Well they aren't just crying, Doctor, they're dying. Why can't we help them?"
"There are some moments in time that are fixed and they must always happen," the Doctor explained. "This is one of them. If we stop this from happening then it'll throw everything out of balance. I'd be interfering where I should never interfere. I could change the history of the universe. I could change it so much that it would mean you were never born. I could end up killing more people than saving them. So you see, Amy, I can't help. Not this time."
"But it's just one -" Amy began.
"No, it isn't. I can't just save one. I can't choose one to live and leave the rest to just die. How do you think that would feel, Amy? Imagine that you lost everyone you ever loved to a virus, and just as you were about to go the same way as them you were pulled back. But there wouldn't be anyone left for you - most of those kids don't have parents anymore. There's no one to look after them. So say I save one of them. Then what?"
Amy had no answers. She let her head drop, her hair shielding her face so that the Doctor would not see her tears.
He knew, however, as he always did, and pulled her into a tight hug. "I know," he said. "I know."
"I'm sorry," she mumbled into his shoulder.
"What for?" he asked, bewildered.
"For arguing back. I just wanted someone to be okay. I know everyone has to die but it just isn't fair." She had stopped crying, but still held onto the Doctor tightly. At that moment, she needed to be held and comforted, and there was no better person than her imaginary friend, who, after all, wasn't so imaginary.
"It never is," the Doctor sighed. "It's okay to want to save someone, you know. It's okay to be sad. That's just a part of being human."
She nodded, took a deep, steadying breath, and broke apart from the Doctor, wiping her eyes and smiling. It wasn't quite her usual smile, but it was there all the same, and it was a start. The Doctor grinned and ran around the console, flipping levers and pushing buttons until they were off again, rattling into space to find another planet and another adventure. Amy grabbed hold of the console as they tipped sideways, smiling as the Doctor laughed like a delighted five-year-old on Christmas morning.
The memories of the children in Guy's Hospital who would never see another Christmas were still there, and they still hurt, but it wasn't quite so bad now. They were fading into the dark recesses of her mind, retreating into the box of painful things that she didn't like to look at. But that was okay. It was, after all, just a part of being human.
A/N - Love is best communicated in the form of a nice review. :)