Disclaimer: I don't own what you recognise; the drill should be familiar to you by now
Feedback: I'd appreciate it; I'm trying to do something a bit different here
AN: Another jump forward, this time to approximately Christmas of the same year; a shorter chapter, but I felt that it explored a few personal developments that the Doctor needed to explore, and I do have a particular rewrite coming up that you won't be expecting...
The History of Paradox
"Ah," the Doctor said, smiling as he stepped out of the TARDIS, taking in the world before them with a satisfied smile before he turned to look at his companion. "Amelia Pond, I give you Metebelis Three!"
As she walked out of the TARDIS, curious to see the location where the Doctor had taken her for an early Christmas present- he was working on something for her in the TARDIS, but all he would say so far is that he hadn't finished it yet-, her eyes widened as she took in the incredible view awaiting her. The TARDIS was standing on a wide ledge, mountains rising behind it and a beautifully blue lake spread out before them, surrounded by a green forest that extended out from the other mountains, a blue moon shining down on the planet to create an even more incredible atmosphere as they took in the world before them.
"Just for a visit, of course; it might be Christmas, but I don't have the authority to give you a planet," the Doctor added, smiling warmly at her before Amy turned and enthusiastically hugged him around the waist.
"Thank you thank you thank you!" she said, grinning as she pulled away from him to take in the view around them once again. "This is... I mean..."
"Yes, I know what you mean; beautiful area, isn't it?" the Doctor said, smiling at her approval. "My history with this place has had its ups and downs- a couple of close calls due to some natural flukes-, but it's past the worst of its era; most of the problems are out of the way now."
"Problems?" Amy asked, looking curiously at him.
"Not important right now; like I said, they're past the worst of it by this point in history," the Doctor said, shrugging dismissively as they began to walk down the mountain. "Come along, Pond; time to show you what this place has to offer."
After their encounter with Cousin Marion, the Doctor's lessons had shifted their focus from warning Amy about the potential dangers she could face to talking about some of the natural and manufactured sights they could witness in their travels; with Amy having proven herself under fire, the Doctor felt justified in giving her a chance to appreciate the better parts of travelling with him, in order to ensure that she didn't feel too scared at the prospect. He'd thought about taking her to check out one of the wonders of the universe, but after his close call with the city of the Exxilons, he felt that a visit to a calmer location of natural wonder would be for the best.
Besides, as he followed Amy down the mountain and through the deeper forests of the planet, able to relax as he pointed out some of the scenes of natural wonder around them, ranging from the tall trees to a few of the more peaceful examples of local wildlife- evidently conditions were improving now that the spiders were no longer active to cause problems; the last time he was here all he'd seen apart from a spider was a roc, and those birds were so large it would have taken a miracle for the spiders to have any kind of impact on them-, he had to admit that he was still rather fond of this planet.
True, he'd all but died here in his third incarnation- the Faction might have managed to 'jump ship' and preserve the timeline where he'd died on Dust for them, but as far as he and the rest of the universe were concerned his third self had died of radiation poisoning while fighting the giant spiders and that was that-, but he couldn't allow that to affect his memories of the planet's natural beauty and incredible wildlife (When you were able to avoid the rocs, anyway)-
The sound of something hissing cut off that particular train of thought, but the Doctor still barely had time to turn around before he found himself pinned to the ground with something biting him in the neck, Amy's screams of fear the last thing that reached his ears before he lost consciousness...
As he blinked his eyes open once again, the Doctor cursed to find himself tied up in yet another giant web; getting stuck in this thing once was just acceptable when he didn't know what to expect, and the second time was also excusable given that he'd been in a bit of a funk at the time, but being trapped three times was just ridiculous.
Looking around, he was relieved to see that Amy was just next to him, evidently alive but still unconscious and there was no sign of the spider that had attacked them; evidently, like its smaller cousins, it preferred to give its prey some time in the web before it decided to feast itself. They were currently in the mouth of a small cave, just far enough inside it to prevent them being seen by the rocs or other large predators, with the forest they'd been walking through visible outside it;
Refusing to give himself the chance to panic, the Doctor set to work on working his way out of his current bonds, giving himself a few moments to recall some of the old tricks he'd picked up from Harry Houdini- he wasn't exactly in his most physically capable body right now, but he wasn't exactly a slouch either- before he started to work away at the webbing keeping him contained, his fingers seeking out a few gaps in the webbing around him (Luckily he hadn't had time to cut his fingernails recently; he could generally moderate their length as he saw fit, but when living among humans long-term he thought it only polite to try and present as normal an appearance as possible, which included letting his nails grow). In a few minutes, he'd managed to find some appropriate gaps and enlarge the area around them accordingly, giving himself a few more moments to work at his spider-made bonds before one had finally emerged, just as Amy was beginning to stir.
"Ow..." she said, her voice worryingly weak as she looked at her surroundings for a moment, before her gaze focused on her friend. "Doctor, what's-?"
"We've been captured by one of the last of the giant spiders of Metebelis Three, and I'm sorry I didn't mention them earlier, but I honestly thought that they were extinct," the Doctor said, looking apologetically at his young companion as he felt around behind himself before his hand finally settled on a rock of the appropriate shape for his current purposes; a decent size and with one edge notably sharper than the others, it would make a convenient 'knife' for the current purposes (Apparently the spiders were becoming more careless; the 'Eight-Legs' would never have left him somewhere with this many convenient potential weapons, no matter how secure they might believe their webbing to be).
"G... giant spiders?" Amy asked, a slight tremor in her voice as she looked at the Doctor. "H... how did that happen?"
"Oh, they were on board an Earth expeditionary ship that crashed here a few decades back, with the unique radiation of Metebelis Three's blue crystals creating a mutative effect that allowed the spiders to achieve sentience and some degree of psychic powers," the Doctor explained, smiling briefly at Amy to try and reassure her- she might be braver than most girls her age even before he met her, but she was still entitled to be scared in situations like this- while he continued to work at his bonds. "I defeated their first attempt to create a psychic network to facilitate galactic conquest by overloading the crystal lattice they'd been putting together- too much power really can be a bad thing, you know-, but a few of them managed to escape the worst of the feedback; I thought most of them had been wiped out, but it looks like a few are still hanging around somewhere."
"Their... first attempt?" Amy asked, looking apprehensively at the Doctor, the rest of his words of reassurance apparently forgotten in the face of that particular newsflash. "As in, they attempted more?"
"Just one more to my knowledge- they'll attempt an invasion of Earth a few years from our home time-, but you don't need to worry about that; I stopped it a couple of centuries ago," the Doctor said with a smile, waving his now-freed hand at her as he finally managed to cut through a few significant strands in the network of webbing binding him in place.
"You mean... you stopped it when you were a couple of centuries younger... a few years in my future?" Amy asked, looking slightly uncertainly at the Doctor; she was generally good at following the shifting tenses and terms used when dealing with time travel, but clarification was always helpful.
"Exactly," the Doctor said, nodding at Amy with an approving smile; describing the tenses of time travel in English was always tricky, but Amy seemed to be getting the hang of it well enough. "I'm pretty sure the aftermath of that defeat left them incapable of trying something like that again- nothing like being caught in the psychic backlash of the planet you just conquered forgetting about you to discourage you trying that kind of thing again, after all-, but that doesn't mean that a few of them weren't still hanging around here; I suppose I'd been overly optimistic about how poor their chances of survival actually were."
He sighed slightly as he refocused his attention on the webbing for a few moments, smiling in relief as he finally got another hand free. "I mean, you'd think that suffering the consequences of two major psychic feedbacks would be enough to convince a species to abandon the idea of pursuing sentience that was only created by a radioactive accident!"
"Uh..." Amy said, stuck for anything that she could usefully say in response to that statement, even as she smiled to see the Doctor working his way free of his previous prison.
"Never mind; that's not important right now," the Doctor said, one arm now free as he continued to cut away at his bonds. "What's important is that one spider isn't a serious threat now that we know it's there; if I can just find the right tools..."
"Uh... why are you taking so long to get out?" Amy said, glaring briefly at him, desperately seeking anything that would take her mind off the fact that she was potentially about to be eaten. "I thought you met Houdini?"
"Yes, but it's been a long while since then, and I'm not exactly built for that kind of manoeuvring these days; I was a lot more... flexible a couple of centuries ago..." the Doctor said, wincing as he accidentally jabbed himself in the arm with his rock-blade before he continued to work at freeing his other side. "Besides, Houdini could get out of everything, but it wasn't as simple as some of the stories sound; it's all a matter of patience- Geronimo!" he said suddenly, grinning as he freed his other arm from confinement and began to work his legs free of the webbing that still kept them immobilised.
"Are you sure that's safe?" Amy asked, looking anxiously at the Doctor. "What if the spider comes back... or what if more show up?"
"Unlikely, really; any large groups of spiders together when I created the feedback circuit would have been fried from the psychic force of the network breaking down- too much mental energy in one place, you know-, and I doubt they'd be smart enough to realise that it was a one-off occurrence in the absence of the Great One," the Doctor explained, quickly severing the webbing around his legs before he stood up, stretching his stiff limbs before he walked over to Amy and began to cut at the webbing keeping her confined. With both arms fully mobile and able to get a better angle for his attack, he was soon able to cut through the webs holding his friend's arms, before quickly moving on to cut away at her legs.
"Doctor..." Amy said, her voice suddenly apprehensive.
"Nothing to worry about, Pond; we've just got-" the Doctor began, before he heard a scuttering sound that he would never forget. Spinning around, he found himself staring at a large spider approaching them, its mandibles bared and a hungry expression in its eyes as it prepared to leap towards its two former victims; with Amy's legs still trapped, all it would need to do would be to paralyse the Doctor and then it could re-bind them.
"NO!" the Doctor yelled, charging at the spider and intercepting it mid-leap, leaving it practically hovering him as he fell to the ground, his right arm keeping the spider away from his face as its mandibles clicked maliciously just in front of his eyes. The Doctor desperately scrabbled around in the nearby dirt as he tried to find something that he could use to hit his opponent, but he was currently outside the cave, with the largest thing near him being a branch that he'd never be able to take hold of in time to hit this thing with enough force-
His thought was cut off as something large and heavy struck the spider in the side, knocking it away from him, followed by another object a few moments later as he was still regaining his wits that struck the spider with an audible thump.
Sitting up after a few moments had passed with nothing but silence from the spider, the Doctor had to smile in approval at the result; a large rock had struck it in the side, apparently damaging some of its legs judging by the way they were bent, and a larger rock had landed on top of it, completely covering its upper body and leaving only a few twitches from its legs to show that it had ever been alive.
"A rock for a spider, mmm?" the Doctor said, looking at Amy with a smile of approval as his companion stood beside him, her arms still outstretched in the position she'd assumed to throw the rock at the creature attacking him, the last strands of webbing that had been holding her immobile lying draped on the ground around her; she must have cut the webs around her legs while he was keeping the spider distracted.
"I didn't have a big enough shoe," Amy replied, grinning back at him with a casual manner that almost disturbed him before he recognised the edge of apprehension in her eyes; she recognised the scale of what she'd done, but was simply putting it aside until she was more prepared to face it.
"Well," the Doctor said, grimly studying the large rock that was the only sign that a creature had been there. "Good toss, Pond."
"Thanks," Amy said, smiling back at him even as she still visibly trembled, reminding the Time Lord of the most important thing to attend to right now.
"I'm sorry about that," the Doctor said, moving over to place a comforting, apologetic hand on the young girl's shoulder, indicating the spider's body. "You shouldn't have had to deal with something like that-"
"I wasn't scared," Amy suddenly interjected, looking back at the Doctor.
"Because I was there-?" the Doctor began to ask, suddenly wondering if he was helping or restricting Amy with his lessons.
"Because I know you'd do everything you could to keep me safe," Amy replied, smiling back at him for a moment, as though wanting to ensure that he understood her meaning, before her smile faltered. "You don't need to be there, Doctor; you just... I just..."
"I would never abandon you, Amelia Pond," the Doctor said, kneeling down slightly to look her more directly in the eye- she was still growing, but she wasn't quite done yet; she was still at least a head or so shorter than him- as he registered what she was trying to say.
She might have faith in him, but there was always going to be that small part of her that remembered how he'd left her over eight years ago and didn't get back until last year...
Still, even if that part remained, the Doctor would do everything he could to keep it quiet; he had left Amelia Pond behind once, but the more time he spent with her, the more that he was grateful that he hadn't done it again.
After so long travelling alone, on the run from his greatest enemies, thwarting their plans where he could and trying to preserve the legacy of his people where possible, it was almost refreshing to have someone show such faith in him...
"Come on," he said, taking her hand with a smile, "let's have another look around before we head back, shall we?"
Grinning at this offer, Amy tightened her grip on the Doctor's hand for a moment before they began to run through the woods around them once again, their initial fear forgotten when faced with the joy of the world they were now visiting.
As far as Amy was concerned, life with the Doctor might be dangerous, but with him to protect her and the skills that he was teaching her, she had faith that she would always be safe, no matter what opposed them...
AN 2: Short, but I like it; coming up, another episode rewrite, featuring the Doctor meeting some VERY particular people once more...