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 has unfortunately now been taken off YouTube- and is used with their permission
Feedback: Much appreciated
AN: Hope everyone likes this; a trickier chapter to write than I was expecting, but I feel that the end result is worth it
As we stood outside the Fallen Stars studio once again- the TARDIS now parked in a different ally a short walk away from this building; we didn't want to give De Sande too many clues that the Doctor wasn't human-, I was glad to see that my theory about my clothing choice seemed to have been accurate; with my hair tied back so that it seemed to be almost as short as Alice's, and dressed in a long coat I'd acquired from the TARDIS wardrobe, I could apparently almost pass as a boy from a cursory glance, which prevented anyone asking too many questions about why I was going around dressed like this.
"Remember," the Doctor said, looking at me with a warning stare as he paused outside the door, "be assertive and confident, but don't do anything to attract too much attention; you have to act at the right moment, or this won't work."
"Understood," I said, before another thought occurred to me. "Just to check, are we going to mention who you are, or are we sticking with the 'colleagues' cover story?"
"Colleagues; De Sande and the Selyoids are likely to be more careless if they think I'm human," the Doctor replied, letting me nod in understanding before he walked through the doors in front of him, pulling out the psychic paper and holding it out to the receptionist sitting behind the desk, this one a different employee to the woman who'd greeted us on our last visit. "Hello, Secret Service; we have to talk with Mr Angelus."
"But-" the woman began, looking between the two of us in confusion; I guessed that she was puzzled at the Doctor's British accent when we claimed to be here from the Secret Service, even if I couldn't tell if she'd identified my real gender.
"Special loan from Interpol for the moment; do you really want to argue with us when dealing with national security?" the Doctor said, staring at the woman for a few moments before she finally seemed to stop her admittedly weak 'protest' and nodded.
"He's... he's up there," she said, indicating a nearby elevator. "The top floor; you'll be taken straight to his office..."
"Thank you," the Doctor said, smiling briefly at her before he glanced back at me. "Come along, Agent Swan."
"Of course, Agent Smith," I replied, automatically lowering my voice to make myself sound more masculine as I followed my friend into the elevator- for the moment, I could probably pass as a slightly feminine young man if nobody paid too much attention-, the Doctor quickly pressing the button for the top floor as soon as I entered.
"That was... easy," I said, looking curiously over at the Doctor.
"We're still in the thick of the McCarthy Trials, Bella; people don't want to be seen as being uncooperative with government investigations, particularly not ones arranged by the Secret Service," the Doctor said, his expression grim at the thought of the topic in question before he shrugged and smiled back at me. "Still, it makes it easier for us at the moment, so we can't really complain, I suppose."
I didn't need to know the Doctor well to know that he was lying, but I also knew that he had made a valid point; right now, anything that stopped people questioning what we were doing here was something in our favour.
Before I could think about that topic any more, the elevator came to a halt, revealing a large room with a window almost the size of the wall it was on at the opposite end, stretching out to show a sizeable portion of Los Angeles when you looked out of it. Sitting in a desk in front of the window was a tall, handsome man with a slight scar on his cheek and a distinctive gold tooth, his well-tanned skin and dark hair giving him a movie star-like quality, even as his natural charisma he presented merely by being there left me simultaneously impressed and uncomfortable at the reminder of the Cullens.
"What the...?" the man known to the public as Michael Angelus said, looking at the opening door in confusion as the Doctor and I walked out of it.
"Hello, Leonard de Sande," the Doctor said, smiling slightly as he looked at the man who was even now standing up from behind his desk, looking at my friend in shocked confusion while I simply stood a short distance behind the Doctor. "It's been a while."
"I don't know what you're talking about-" De Sande began, trying to look indignant and confused at the Doctor's accusation and failing miserably; I wondered if his Selyoid-enhanced physiology meant that he'd grown so used to people being deferential to him that he wasn't sure how to cope when faced with someone who didn't.
"Don't try and play dumb with me, Leonard," the Doctor said, his smile shifting to a glare as he stared at the other man. "My colleague provided me with a detailed description of you and your methods, to say nothing of the samples I acquired yesterday; how long did it take your Selyoids to knit you back together after what happened last time, anyway?"
For a moment, De Sande simply stared back at my friend, his expression shifting between various expressions, until he smiled in resignation.
"When you say your 'colleague', you're referring to the Doctor, I take it?" he said, shaking his head slightly as he looked at the Time Lord.
"You were expecting him?" the Doctor asked; at least De Sande seemed to be assuming that the Doctor wasn't the same person as the man he'd met last time.
"I may have taken precautions against being recognised, but I always knew that I couldn't pull that off forever; staying behind the scenes was never my goal," De Sande said, still studying my friend in a contemplative manner. "I suppose I should have expected he'd send someone else if he couldn't come himself; he never could understand what we offered..."
"Which was what, exactly?" the Doctor asked, glaring back at De Sande. "No, wait, let me guess; 'freedom from fear, freedom from pain', right?"
"I was more thinking of freedom from failure, actually," De Sande replied, smiling back at the Doctor in what was probably intended to be a compelling manner. "After all... what's your name?"
"Just call me 'Doctor'," the Doctor replied.
"Another doctor?" De Sande said, looking at him in momentary confusion before he shook it off. "Never mind; that's not important right now."
"And what is important, from your perspective?" the Doctor asked, his tone a deceptively calm one as he looked at De Sande.
"That you understand why I'm doing this, even if the other Doctor didn't," De Sande replied, looking earnestly at him; I wondered if he even registered the meaning of the Doctor's stance as he looked at the other man. "Your colleague didn't want to accept it, but it's been four years since then, and haven't you seen how divided we're becoming? Everything's fractured and broken, people willing to go to war over simple political and ideological differences, trust a thing of the past as we're all willing to sell out our own neighbours to protect ourselves, everybody afraid of those in power but lacking the courage or desire to voice their objection..."
Looking at De Sande as he spoke, I wondered if everything he was saying now reflected how he'd felt before he was first exposed to the Selyoids- did he really think that humanity was falling apart unless someone 'took charge'?-, or if he was just using this story to excuse his more straightforward desire from power.
I knew from some of the stories I'd heard from the Cullens about how becoming something else could warp your pre-existing 'standards'- the idea that James could be that ruthless when he had been human himself was evidence enough of that-, but I also knew from Carlisle in particular that what you'd been as a human could shape what you became later (Carlisle was the most notable example because everyone else in the family had been able to look to him as a 'role model'; it was harder to set the path than it was to do what someone had done already), but even if I couldn't be sure what De Sande had been like before he found the Selyoids, I was certain that what he had become was shaped by them to a significant degree at best.
"And you think that creating a definite 'upper class' will solve that problem?" the Doctor asked, looking sceptically at De Sande as I returned my attention to the matter at hand.
"Put the power in the hands of people that everyone will like and trust, and it's all simple from there on in," De Sande said, smiling encouragingly at the Doctor. "Think about it, Doctor; people will debate and complain about what politicians will do, but present a positive appearance with no hidden agenda-"
"From actors?" I said, looking sceptically at him; I'd worry about attracting the attention of someone as dangerous as De Sande once I'd said my piece. "You really think the public will trust people who essentially lie for a living?"
"Why shouldn't they?" De Sande asked with a smile. "Actors are always accessible to the public, their motives and agendas for doing what they do are simple, and the best ones always make themselves available to their public; it's the perfect solution. Put our futures in the hands of those who have our backgrounds, and it will all be so much easier; they'll understand our problems and how to help us get over them, they'll have a clearly dea why we want certain things and will work to ensure that we get them-"
"So, in a nutshell, we should give power to the Selyoid hosts because it frees us from being ruled by the upper classes who don't get the plight of the common man?" the Doctor said (Under other circumstances, I would have been surprised at the Doctor so easily referring to humanity as 'us', but considering that he was trying to reinforce the illusion that he was human it made sense, and it wasn't like he hadn't been around long enough to be classified as an 'honorary human' from what I'd heard about his past). "It sounds good when you consider them as individual people, but even before you add the Selyoids into the equation on a larger scale, it all boils down to the same thing as far as I'm concerned."
"Which is?" De Sande asked,
"Freedom from freedom," the Doctor replied.
I couldn't believe that De Sande actually smiled at that statement.
"That just shows how little you still understand, Doctor," he said, shaking his head as he looked at my friend. "The Selyoids don't enslave us; they free us-"
"From the burden of free will by making those exposed to their pheromones blindly devoted to them so that they're more concerned with what the Selyoids want rather than what they want; that's not freedom by any definition I understand," the Doctor said firmly. "Maybe the hosts start out as being those who can relate to the common man, but the Selyoids deprive them of that ability; Polly told... my colleague... herself that her time as a Selyoid host featured her being virtually completely emotionally disconnected from her 'fans', to say nothing of how she treated Ben even after everything they'd been through."
"We're entitled to some respect-" De Sande said.
"You want to be men of the people and you want respect?" I asked sceptically, looking at De Sande in frustration (I wasn't sure if it was just my time with the Doctor or that period of self-analysis I'd undergone in the Dalek mines, but I was finding it easier to objectively consider what made people tick, and right now De Sande wasn't presenting an appealing picture to me). "I don't know much about politics, but I don't think that's how it works..."
"She's right, you know, De Sande," the Doctor said, glaring at the producer. "Whatever you might like to think, non-Selyoid humans aren't sheep who'll follow your ideas whatever you come up with; you can't ask for them to just follow you and expect nothing but blind obedience. Fletcher was one of the general population you think you'll win over; do you remember what happened to him?"
"He was a special case-" De Sande began.
"He attacked the Selyoid director because he was so consumed by the need to be one with the Selyoids that he didn't care who he hurt; that doesn't sound like an example of a peace-inspiring leader to me," the Doctor said, his glare fixed on the director. "You'll win their admiration easily enough, but it won't take long for admiration to become envy and then you're just back where you started; the lower classes angry at the upper-"
"But we'll be spared the paranoia of the present," De Sande interjected with a smile that suggested that he was amused at the Doctor's inability to see the bigger picture. "And it will get better, Doctor; humanity will have something to strive for-"
"Humanity already has things to strive for!" the Doctor retorted firmly. "Maybe our goals are divided and our objectives differ, but we're all out there, reaching for the stars in our own way! Maybe if your way worked and humanity united under the Selyoid banner, we'd get there faster, but we'd get there for the wrong reasons; we'd get there to serve, not because we just wanted to go there and see what we could find-!"
"Yes, I should have expected something like this from a Doctor," De Sande said- something about his tone suggested a certain frustrated scorn- before he turned to look at me. "How about you, Mr... Miss?"
"Bella Swan," I said, smiling slightly as I noted his reaction upon realising that I was a girl; he might be possessed by aliens, but at least he was clearly still a victim of the social standards of his time, which meant that he might underestimate what it would take to win me over.
"Well then, Bella," the producer said, looking thoughtfully at me, "let me ask you a few questions; haven't you ever lost something?"
"Yes..." I said, almost before I'd even realised that I'd intended to speak; something about the way he was looking at me...
"And it hurt, didn't it?" De Sande said, smiling at me with a grin that was probably meant to be reassuring but just left me feeling like I was face-to-face with James or Laurent once again. "Wouldn't it be easier if you could escape from your pain-"
"I wouldn't want that," I said, looking firmly back at De Sande.
It was only when I said those words that I realised that I really meant it; I didn't want to get away from my pain any more.
Even if I hadn't moved past the pain I'd felt when Edward had left me by now, hadn't the reason I'd held on to that pain for so long been because it was the only 'proof' I had that I had felt something so deep for someone else in the first place?
Losing Edward had hurt when it had originally happened, and I'd retreated into myself to escape the pain to such an extent that I'd barely even registered what was happening around me while I was left reeling from everything I'd lost, but now that I was out of that semi-void again, thanks to help from Jacob and Charlie and the Doctor...
A part of me would always miss and love Edward even after he'd left me, just as a part of me would miss and love the Doctor- even if I wouldn't miss and love them in the same way- when the time came for me to return to Earth and my own time when my time in the TARDIS came to an end, but I wouldn't trade the memories I'd gained by spending time with them for anything.
I had felt such intense pain over Edward leaving because I had felt so much love for him before he'd left... and even if he'd never felt that intensely about me, that didn't change the fact that I had received his love for a time.
"I wouldn't want to lose that pain," I said, staring firmly back at De Sande. "It hurt when it was over, but it was incredible while it lasted... and I'd rather feel that pain for the rest of my life than forget what it was like before that happened."
For a moment, De Sande looked almost sad as he processed what I had just said, looking at me with a grim expression of contemplation.
"What the Selyoids offer, Bella, is a chance to never feel that pain in the first place," he said, still looking urgently at me. "Isn't that worth anything? To really understand-?"
"And what makes you think that any 'understanding' you offer is actually real?" I asked. "Finding the Selyoids threw off everything you thought you knew about the world; what makes you think that there isn't something out there that they don't know about either? Is
"You don't have to do this, De Sande," the Doctor said suddenly. "I can help you."
"You can help?" De Sande asked, looking at him in surprise. "Why?"
"Because I'm the Doctor," the Doctor responded, looking solemnly at his enemy. "Whatever you might think of me, in the end, I'd prefer to find a peaceful solution to this whole mess, and that includes finding the Selyoids somewhere where they can develop; all I ask is that you leave humanity to develop on its own."
For a moment, a part of De Sande almost seemed to be interested in that offer, but then his momentary expression of interest vanished, leaving nothing but a frustrated yet resigned expression of disappointment.
"You know," he said, shaking his head as he looked at us, "if you'd just tried to see things my way, you would have made this so much easier..."
Before the Doctor or I could react, De Sande had suddenly leapt across his desk, grabbed the Doctor by the back of the head, hauled his head backwards with such force that the Doctor automatically opened his mouth to yell, and tipped a phial that had previously been in his pocket down my friend's throat before he had time to close his mouth.
"DOCTOR!" I yelled, dashing forward and grabbing the Doctor as he fell backwards; I staggered under the sudden weight in my arms, but I was able to lower him down to the ground after taking a moment to regain my balance, despite the violent tremors that suddenly overwhelmed the Doctor's body.
"What happened to not forcing anyone to do anything?" I yelled, glaring at the hypocritical producer as my friend lay on the floor, gasping for air as his whole body trembled.
"Once he's felt them, he'll understand!" De Sande said, grinning at me with the kind of grin I could all-too-clearly remember having seen on James's face when he was preparing to try and kill me that somehow also reminded me of Jake's grin when he was showing me the motorbike. "He'll realise what I'm trying to accomplish-"
His speech was cut short by the sound of someone throwing up, the two of us turning around in time to see the Doctor on his hands and knees, expelling a thick gold liquid from his mouth, the liquid lying on the floor for a few moments before it seemed to rapidly evaporate, vanishing into thin air as the Doctor looked up at De Sande and me.
"Sorry," he said, a grin on his face despite the weakness in his voice. "I don't agree with that... on any level."
"What?" De Sande said, looking between the Doctor and the golden puddle in front of him in shock. "But... but those were Selyoids-!"
"In other words, you tried to make the Doctor see your point of view because you didn't agree with his perspective; how is what you're doing any different to what you claim is causing the problem?" I asked, looking scathingly at De Sande, my confidence unexpectedly aided by my anger at what he'd tried to do. "We're trying to talk to you here, and all you're doing is shoving drugs on us to make us more agreeable-?"
"It's not drugs-!" De Sande yelled, reaching out towards me with both hands, as though preparing to grab me by the throat, only for his hands to suddenly seem to... droop was the only word I could think of... before they could actually touch me.
"What...?" De Sande said, staring at his hands in horror, the limbs now flopping from his wrists as though he was wearing overly large gloves.
"Losing hold of everything, De Sande?" the Doctor said, smirking slightly as he looked at the producer. "Having trouble holding yourself together after that explosion?"
"The Selyoids saved me-!" De Sande protested.
"From a blast powerful enough to virtually vaporise an airplane and disperse a not-inconsiderable amount of their discorporated mass across Los Angeles?" the Doctor interrupted, smiling grimly at De Sande. "They could piece you back together, I grant you, but it would take a lot of effort to maintain something like that; get yourself worked up enough- I'm guessing you haven't had a reason to get really emotional about anything since you were restored; Selyoid pheromones make it all too easy for you-, and I'll think you'll find that the Selyoids lose the ability to cope with all that chemical warfare going on inside your body..."
"NO!" De Sande yelled, desperately reaching out to grab the Doctor, only for his hands to become completely detached from the rest of him as he tried to touch the Time Lord, leaving only lumps of flesh on the end of arms that rapidly began to decompose right in front of me.
"Th-this isn't happening..." De Sande said, his expression becoming increasingly panicked as he stared at what had been his hands. "This isn't happening... this can't be happening... I'm Leonard De Sande-!"
"Oh, shut up!" I said, walking over to slap De Sande in the face- after everything I'd been through recently, even if I normally agreed with the Doctor's disinclination towards violence, right now I just wanted something to hit-, only to find myself staring in shock as my hand left De Sande's jaw hanging loose and his left cheek completely flat.
"You're falling apart, De Sande," the Doctor said, staring solemnly at the other man as De Sande looked at us in ever-increasing. "The Selyoids can keep a healthy body going, but after everything you went through in that airplane..."
He sighed, looking at De Sande with genuine pity as the man's left arm fell off. "There's nothing we can do now; you got yourself worked up to the point where they can't cope with everything you lost."
"You did this...!" De Sande said, his voice only just understandable through his damaged jaw, his skin becoming increasingly paler.
"Hey, you only got worked up about this because we didn't just blindly accept everything you had to say; this is your fault, not ours!" I said, glaring indignantly at him while trying not to think too much about the fact that a man was literally coming apart right in front of me; I'd seen people die during our confrontation with the Daleks, but this was worse considering the amount of time it was taking...
"I just... wanted to help..." De Sande said, his voice growing weaker as his legs broke underneath him, now too spindly and frail to support his weight. As his voice was reduced to a series of mumbles, as though his vocal chords had lost the ability to work to any significant degree, all that the Doctor and I could do was watch as the thing that had once been Leonard De Sande collapsed into a pile of ash and bone, faint tinges of golden liquid visible amid the ash before it seemed to dry up.
"Did you...?" I asked, looking over at the Doctor before I could stop myself, only realising after I started speaking that a part of me didn't want to know the answer.
"I thought that his body was less stable than he might think, but I had no idea it could get that bad," the Doctor said, looking grimly back at me before he turned his attention back to the assorted refuse that had previously been De Sande. "Still, at least that saves us having to negotiate with him..."
"And... what about anyone else exposed to the Selyoids?" I asked. "How do we deal with that?"
"From what I saw while we were in the lab earlier, I don't think he had enough resources yet to actually give anyone else complete Selyoid samples; as I said, he was trying to restore the Selyoids to full strength based on the fragments left within him, but until then he wouldn't be able to actually have a permanent effect on anyone," the Doctor explained. "Anyone with Selyoid samples in them at the moment would essentially be using a drug that will eventually be metabolised and incorporated into their systems; the Selyoids can give them a boost, but I doubt we have anything with any degree of sentience out there."
"And what about the samples downstairs?" I asked, reminding him of the room we'd recovered earlier. "What do we do with those Selyoids?"
"Oh, I've got a few ideas..." the Doctor said, smiling thoughtfully at me.