A/N woah these stories are just pouring out of me! I get an idea and bam- one shot! I hope you enjoy it, and please leave your thoughts in a review. It really makes my day!
On the precipice of deep and endless space, before a hungry god burning with the light of a million souls, the Doctor stood and glared.
This was a vampire, a parasite that fed on stories, on memories. A filthy being clinging to the lives of others just to survive.
Far behind him, over a field of asteroids drifting in a lazy orbit, he could hear singing.
Just one voice at first, a young, clear voice. But then hundreds, thousands, millions of others added to the melody, singing despite the high possibility of their imminent death.
Singing a story to the old god.
"Okay then. That's what I'll do. I'll tell you a story." he called out to the parasite looming before him. "Can you hear them? All these people who lived in terror of you and your judgment. All these people whose ancestors devoted themselves, sacrificed themselves to you. Can you hear them singing?"
The singing was deep and meaningful, conveying so much feeling and hope in a few notes that it struck even the Doctor's cold heart.
"Oh you like to think you're a god."
These were the kind of beings he despised. The ones who pretended to be gods, who strived so hard to be powerful and worshipped. But they didn't realise what it costs. The Doctor had been mistaken for a god too many times, too many times he had gone too far, strayed too far from his own self. Because he wasn't a god. He was just a man. An old man.
Being a god was not something to be craved. It was something to be feared.
"But you're not a god. You're just a parasite. Eat now with jealousy and envy and longing for the lives of others. You feed on them." his voice grew louder and louder over the singing, until he was shouting out to the monster. "On the memory of love and loss and birth and death and joy and sorrow, so... so come on mine. Take my memories."
This was the only way. The only way to please a being such as this. To give himself, to give his soul, his stories.
In all the rage and adrenaline and fear, the Doctor felt a little flicker of relief. Relief to be giving away his stories. All of those horrible days. Relief to finally be ending.
"But I hope you're got a big a big appetite. Because I've lived a long life. And I've seen a few things."
More than a few. And there were many he would be happy to give away.
"I walked away from the last great
Time War. I marked the passing of the Time Lords. I saw the birth of the universe and watched as time ran out, moment by moment, until nothing remained. No time, no space. Just me!" the words screamed rawly from his throat, and he felt tears coursing down his cheeks. All of those days, he was remembering them. All of those moments.
Just him. Alone. Those were the worst ones.
"I walked in universes where the laws of physics were devised by the mind of a madman! I watched universes freeze and creations burn!"
And so many of those, he had caused. So many of those worlds were ones that he had destroyed. And he hated himself for it.
"I have seen things you wouldn't believe! I have lost things you will never understand!"
All those losses. Too many. Too many. All of those people, no matter how he lost them, scarred his hearts forever. If they left him, or he left them, or they were lost in time, or trapped where he could not follow, or had simply forgotten him, or if they died. He would not forget them. And each loss drove him deeper into the void that swirled around him, the ancient void that always followed him. The one that waited for the day when it would devour him whole.
"And I know things, secrets that must never be told, knowledge that must never be spoken! Knowledge that will make parasite gods blaze!" the screams tore through his lungs as he flung his arms out to the burning monster.
All of that knowledge, a terrible burden. Those who believed knowledge to be a gift, a privilege, a power, they were wrong. The things he had seen could not be unseen. The things he knew could render any other man to pure madness. They could send mighty kings running, all encompassing empires to chaos, gods to worthless ghosts. How he had not already gone mad, how he had not already run and hid, how he had not already turned from a god to a ferocious demon escaped him.
"So come on then!" He could feel the days being sucked from him, devoured by the hungry monster. Tears stung across his face, and all the rage and sorrow and guilt and hate of all his years passed through him, but the relief he felt was undeniable.
"Take it! Take it all, baby! Have it! You have it all!" he yelled into the burning mass of souls, all those stories. His own stories, full of so much hurt and anger and bloodshed and grief, had to satisfy the old god. He himself could barely keep them inside, barely keep them from turning him mad.
The monster was not satisfied.
The Doctor hunched over, the weight of all his eyes on his shoulders once again.
He had given all of his hours, every one. Every good day, every bad day. Every triumph and every fall. Every celebration and every loss. All the happiness, all the sorrow, all the wonders of his journey through time and space.
What kind of being could devour all of his thousands of tortured years and still be hungry for more?
Not a being the Doctor could have any chance of defeating.
"Still hungry?" a voice sounded from beside him. Clara. His Clara.
"Well I brought something for you. This."
She held up a leaf, a dried brown leaf. The leaf. Her leaf. The first page.
"The most important leaf in human history. It's full of stories. Full of history. And full of a future that never got lived. Days that should have been and never were. Passed on to me."
This was it. Clara Oswald was saving the Doctor. Clara Oswald was saving Akhaten. Clara Oswald was giving the most important leaf in human history, the loss of her mother, to the old god.
"This leaf isn't just the past, it's a whole future that never happened. There are billions and millions of unlived days for every day we live. An infinity. All the days that never came. And these are all my mum's." there were unshed tears settling in Clara's eyes, glittering in the glow of the sun.
The monster licked at the leaf with golden tendrils, and the Doctor watched as it crumbled into shining flakes which drifted into the parasite's maw. It seemed reluctant, moaning, it could not devour this.
"Well? Come on then. Eat up. Are you full? I expect so. Because there's quite a difference isn't there? Between what was and what should have been."
Clara's mother's life. Her future. That's what should have been. And it could have been anything. That story could have been told in an infinity of different ways.
"There's an awful lot of one but there's an infinity of the other. And infinity is too much. Even for your appetite."
He stood beside Clara, and they both watched the colossal monster collapse in on itself, no longer hungry, never to be hungry again. Infinity was too much for anybody. To see all of those sights, feel all of those emotions, that was impossible. It was impossible to experience something as endless, something as hopeless, something as scarring as infinity.
Although the Doctor had come close.