Aaaaaaand to finish, fish fingers! ;)

Just kidding, here we are dear readers at what is the end of my first double-length episode with Hero the Time Lady... Please don't be sad, even though I am, because this part of the story was so much fun to write! Never fear, my poor brain has so many ideas and words already crammed into it that I will most likely begin the next part of the story tomorrow! Or tonight... or right now... whatever...

Anywho, I felt that it would be best for me to sort of both tie things up and get things started for what's to come. I realize now that I never got to those super-romantic scenes that you were possibly hoping for, but don't worry, they're on their way! I hope you have enjoyed this first section in Hero's story as much as i have enjoyed writing it, and as always thank you for your kind reviews, suggestions, and thoughtful words.

GERONIMO! (from the Doctor) and Hell Yeah! (from Hero)

The Doctor and I leaned out of the TARDIS door as Amy and Rory offered us one final wave before disappearing into their little English cottage. The painted blue door clicked behind them, and the Doctor smiled after them before returning inside the time machine.

The Doctor twirled over to the center console, coat spinning around him, and pushed a couple of shiny buttons. Then he slowed his movements, making an extra effort to look closely at his screen as though he was trying to make time slow down.

"So..." I stepped up across the circular panel from him, examining his face. Despite his cheerful movements, I realized that he looked very sober, almost sad, and like he was trying and failing to hide it. Then, after a moment, he raised his face to meet my eyes, and he smiled sweetly across the miriad levers and buttons.

"So..." he replied, and as I returned his smile, his own grew wider.

"What happens next?" I asked, moving a bit closer.

"Hero Smith the hero..." He paused, his soft blue eyes growing serious again as he regarded me. "Oh there is so much for you," he mused, "Every moment you learn more and more about who you are, you experience things so new and wonderful..." I stared at him, a bit unsure of what to say. "If you like, I can take you home, back to your old life, but... it will be difficult for you. You're a Time Lord."

"I want... I want to wait a while before... before I go back," I stammered, feeling the heat rise in my cheeks a little, "I mean, there's so much I don't know about myself, like who my parents were, and how old I am, and whether my name is really Hero..."

The Doctor moved in closer to me, raising his hand to shush me, "You're name shall always be Hero, for that is what you are." He smiled, raising one eyebrow, and I nearly laughed. "Now," he began, speaking in a no-nonsense tone although his eyes continued to sparkle at me mischievously, "you're very young, only about 87 if my memory is correct, and it usually does," I stifled a gasp, then smacked him on the arm when he winked at me.

"Young? Oh please..." I couldn't help but grin and I added, "well, how old are you, then?"

The Doctor stopped smiling at once and looked at me with such a noble and ancient gaze that I sobered at once. "I am nine hundred and twelve years old, and in my eleventh regeneration. There. What do you think of that?" He completely ruined his serious composure by laughing like a boy and whirling around the TARDIS console. I gaped at him for a few seconds as he fiddled with some knobs, then shrugged.

"Alright then," I replied, "so you're nearly as old as the millennium. Okay. So, what else you got?"

"Oh Hero..." He drew close to me, much closer than before, and he very gently laid his hand on mine where it rested on the console, "Oh Hero Hero Hero there are so many wonderful things, so many beautiful things, the life of a Time Lord can be lonely and terrible and tragic but oh... when you're not alone, when you can see the beauty of the universe unfolding before you... It makes life worth living. And you," he murmured, "you're just at the beginning, you haven't even seen the Time Vortex yet, you haven't gotten a chance to fly the TARDIS, aren't you just... excited?" He grinned at me, nearly shaking with what seemed to be happiness for me, and I grinned back, feeling a warm thread of happiness spreading through me.

"Yes!" I cried, and hugged him.

"No matter what happens, Hero Smith," he murmured into my ear, "be kind to yourself." We moved apart, and his eyes were infinitely sad, the centuries of loneliness and pain and loss all spread out before me. I realized that I could see more of him now that I was in my true form, and it scared and exhilarated me all at the same time. I bit my lip as I realized how much the Doctor, this poor ancient-young-lonely-brilliant alien, needed me. He needed someone who could travel with him not just as a passing friend, but as his peer, his equal.

"Where do I start?" I mumbled, not even sure I'd truly spoken.

This gave him pause, and I felt him withdraw his emotions from me a bit, like he was covering his true self up again. He frowned slightly, thinking.

"Every young Time Lord is, was, required to look into the Time Vortex, the whole of space and time itself, to see how they would take it." He regarded me carefully, his hand still on mine, "Even the strongest youngsters, faced with such power in front of them, have gone completely mad at the sight. But most, most were able to stare into the face of existence itself and come away... enlightened."

"Enlightened... how?" I asked.

"If you're able to withstand the vortex," the Doctor continued, "you'll activate your mind in such a way that will allow you to see multiple temporal possibilities at once, to fly the TARDIS, to become a full-fledged Time Lord."

I thought for a moment, then said, very quietly, "So, the risk is that I'll... lose my mind?"

"Yes." He looked very grave.

"And if I'm able to take it, I'll be like you?"

He smiled, "Well, yes, in a few hundred years..." I giggled, and he added, "No, really, you'll be like... like me." Suddenly I saw a flicker of something in his deep eyes, something like hope. It burned from him, yet I could sense that he was attempting to keep himself neutral, keeping himself from pushing me into a decision.

He needed me.

And, like many others before me, when I realized that the Doctor needed me to take the risk, I decided to take it then and there.

"I'd like to look into the Vortex."

As if my words had commanded it, a section of the TARDIS console shifted aside, revealing a blinding light from which the Doctor quickly looked away. Words failed me as I looked towards where it was, not able to see directly into it's source but still blinded all the same.

"Hero!" The Doctor grabbed hold of both my arms, turning me to face him, "Are you sure? Because if you lose yourself in the Vortex, I won't be able to help you. I..." His voice broke, and he briefly lowered his eyes. He raised them again a second later, looking fierce, "I won't be able to take that happening, so you have to be sure."

I nodded, my throat too tight for words and my hearts hammering in my chest, like a horse galloping. Without a word, he released me, but bent close and gently kissed my forehead, like a benediction. I smiled unashamedly at him, turned back to the console, and...

… looked.

Everyone, everything, every place was spinning before me, the raw power of the universe piercing into my very soul. I could feel the unending pulse of Time, the jagged edges of countless planets and species and languages and numbers... I was spinning in a spiral of white and rainbow and blue-tinged lightning, tears streaming from me into the core of existence, and I realized that I could see the reason for things, the purpose of all objects in the universe, the rushing tide of love and hate constantly battering against one another. Life and death blurred together until I couldn't tell whether an infant crying was about to take its last breath or if an old man staggering to his feet was breathing his first. Every possible emotion, every unthinkable moment of pain and joy and sorrow and wonder played out before my eyes, every war and hug and cry and laugh.


And then, walking across the expanse of nameless color and light, came a tall slender man in a suit and red bow tie. His angular face broke into a smile when he saw me, light streaming from my fingertips, tears of pure emotion on my face, and he raised a hand out to me, saying, "Welcome, Hero, I'm the Doctor. And you're ready to meet the universe."

I realized that I was holding on, that I was managing to cling to enough of myself to recognize my name, to feel my hearts flutter as his fingertips touched mine, to reply, "A doctor, hm? I've been needing one of those... What do you say we get out of here and do something... cool."

And thus began my new life as a Time Lady named Hero.

The end! For now! Like I said, I'm literally about to start the next story as I write this sign-off, so please don't go away! More to come :)

With love, SilverTortoise