Extract from "Tales of Trenzalore"
As it had been foretold, the armies of the Universe gathered at Trenzalore. Only one thing stood between the planet and destruction - the Doctor. Only one thing stood between the Doctor and the next Great Time War - his name. For nine hundred years, he defended the planet, and the tiny town of Christmas, against the forces that would destroy it.
Behind the technology barrier maintained by the Church of the Papal Mainframe, at the heart of the Truth Field, close to the crack between this universe and the next, the Doctor stood steadfast between life and death. He never knew what creatures would emerge from the snowy night to threaten him next. He knew only that at the end he would die on Trenzalore.
Some of what happened during those terrible years is well documented. But most of it has remained shrouded in mystery and darkness.
Brought together in this volume are just four incidents from the time the Doctor spent on Trenzalore. Four stories of heroism and danger. Four stories that document the lengths the Doctor would go to in order to protect the place he had made his home. Four out of hundreds - perhaps thousands.
Over time, more stories will surely emerge about how the Doctor protected the town of Christmas, and how the townsfolk took him to their heart and cherished the time he bought them. But for the moment, we have only rumours and legends, myths and stories.
Tales of Trenzalore...
The Fifth Story...
Snow floated softly through the cold winter air as the light of the sun slowly disappeared from the sky, leaving the town of Christmas a dark and moonlit place once more. At the top of the Clock Tower, the Doctor turned away from the horizon, his silhouette vanishing as he disappeared down the stairs. It had been a long 200 years since the TARDIS left him, leaving him stranded on Trenzalore in the town he'd promised to protect. He'd accepted that he was going to stay for the rest of his long life, and made due his time on the planet. In the quiet of the tower, the Doctor sat in his old rocking chair, one of many that were spread around his little abode. The walls were covered in drawings and artwork from the children; every wall but one, where a huge crack split across it, providing most of the light in the room. Bits and pieces of alien technology were scattered on tables and workbenches, and in his hands he was fiddling with what looked like a warped piece of metal with a blinking light. As he meddled with it, a fragment broke off of it, and the Doctor mumbled what might have been Gallifreyan swearwords. He sighed and closed his eyes, listening to the quiet bleeping of Handles, his old Cyberman head. He hadn't slept in days after fighting off a race of invaders called the Taverka; terribly gruesome killers that threatened to destroy the minds of so many people, himself included. He only needed a quick power nap.
A few moments later there was a quiet knock at the door, and the Doctor's eyes fluttered open. 12 second nap, he thought, that's a new high score. He sat up in his chair, groaning a bit as he stretched. He didn't realize how long he'd been sitting there until he felt the aching in his joints. "Come in," he called, yawning a bit. He heard the door creak open and the patter of little footsteps. He smiled, thinking it must be another little one looking for him to fix their toy. The child paused in the darkness of the entryway. "Don't be shy. I won't bite," he chuckled, and the figure moved forward slowly, as well as cautiously it seemed.
"Are you the Doctor?" a quiet voice chimed as the child stepped into the room, the light from the crack revealing her appearance; one the Doctor hadn't seen in a very long time. Underneath a little blue beanie, tufts of bright orange hair peeked out, and the pale round face of a seven-year-old girl looked up at him through dewy hazel eyes. The Doctor didn't answer, his wide eyes glued to her familiar face as his jaw fell open. His hearts seemed to skip a beat and he couldn't get a word out, and the poor girl was standing before him with a very confused look on her face; just the same as it was when he first saw her hundreds of years ago when he crashed into her garden. "Are you alright?" she asked, raising an eyebrow at him.
"Um..." the Doctor mumbled, clearing his throat to speak. "Yes, and yes," he replied, giving her a warm smile as he held out his hand. "How do you do?"
The girl giggled and shook his hand, the other hand holding a teddy bear that seemed to be falling apart at the seams. She held it out to him. "Can you fix Biggles?" she asked, her eyes pleading.
The Doctor chuckled, remembering his old friend Amy once said that her favorite cat was named Biggles, and nodded. "Yes I can," he told her, then turned to reach for a box beside his chair.
The girl smiled at him and held the bear to her chest. "Good. Rory told me you could fix anything, but I didn't believe him because he's the one who ripped Biggles," she grumbled, watching him sift through his tools, wondering why he stopped suddenly.
But that's impossible, he thought. He paused in his search for a needle and thread to look back at the girl. "Rory? Rory... Williams?" he guessed, his forehead creased in thought. He wasn't sure if he was hallucinating from sleep deprivation, or if he was actually seeing and hearing all of this.
The girl nodded. "Mmhm. And I'm Amelia Pond," she stated proudly.
And that was when the Doctor broke. He stopped moving, blinking, and breathing for longer than he should have, prompting little Amelia to wave her hand in his face to wake him up. "Are you sure you're okay?" she asked, giving him a worried look. She'd never come to the Doctor for help before, and Rory didn't say that he was this weird. He's just a little eccentric, he'd told her. Whatever that word meant, she thought. She tried clicking her fingers, and this time the Doctor blinked, his old green eyes seeming to focus. Her eyes narrowed at him as she waited for him to wake up. His greying, floppy hair fell in his aged face and he pushed it away as he sat up straight, his mouth forming an 'O' and his forehead crumpled in confusion.
"Amelia Pond?!" he exclaimed, his brows furrowed as he looked at her. "But-I-You're-Ah..." he stuttered, waving his hands in her general direction.
Amelia took a step back, suddenly a bit afraid of him. "I-I can come back later if you-"
"No!" he cried, stopping her in her tracks."No, just... Here," he said, holding out his hand towards her. "I can fix your teddy bear," he told her, his mouth turning into a gentle smile.
Amelia stared at his hand for a few seconds, then looked into his face, and she saw something there that made her smile. Kindness. She breathed in quickly and took a step forward, placing her hand in his. She didn't realize he'd been holding out his hand for the bear, and smiled at him instead. She didn't know what it was about him that made her change her mind so suddenly, because she could tell he was definitely mad, but behind it all was a wise, lonely old man that only needed a hand to hold.
The Doctor still couldn't believe his eyes. He was in shock from the appearance of this little girl, let alone her name! Amelia Pond, he thought, like a name in a fairy tale. His smile widened and he held out his other hand for her teddy bear, which she placed carefully in his grasp. But it must be a coincidence, he thought. There was no way that this little girl could be the same Amelia Pond he knew and loved. He didn't understand how she hadn't come to his attention before, because she obviously wasn't born yesterday. He'd known a family with the last name Pond, but they had passed away a few months earlier after an attack, and their only daughter had been sent to live with her aunt... Oh, he thought, so this was the girl! No one had ever told him her name, but he'd been so busy that it hadn't even occurred to him to ask. Never ignore coincidence, he thought to himself. He thought he ought to slap himself in the head for that one. She was another mystery waiting for him to solve.
"Can I help you fix him?" Amelia requested, taking him out of his contemplation.
The Doctor's eyes focused again, looking to the teddy bear in his hand. "Right. Of course you can, just let me find a needle and thread," he told her as he reached beside his chair for a small box. He picked it up and set it on his lap, momentarily setting the bear beside him as he stuck his hand inside the box, evidently going past its superficial limits. Amelia walked forward curiously, looking around the exterior of it, noticing that he was reaching in with his entire arm now.
"How are you doing that?" she wondered, standing on her tiptoes to see over his arm.
He looked up at her with a smile. "It's bigger on the inside-Ow!" he exclaimed, quickly pulling out his hand to shake it off. "Well, I've found the needle," he muttered, then carefully put his hand back in the box to retrieve it.
Amelia giggled at his outburst, watching anxiously as he pulled his hand out of the container once more and grinned triumphantly. "You're funny," she told him, moving to lean on the arm rest of his chair.
The Doctor pulled out a long piece of string and tried to thread it through the needle. "What's wrong with funny?" he asked, squinting one eye as he concentrated.
Amelia shrugged, watching as he focused on threading the needle. "Nothing. Funny's good," she replied as she waited, and the Doctor smiled.
After a few minutes without success, the Doctor looked to Amelia, his face dejected. "Here, you try. I can't seem to find the eyelet," he grumbled as he handed the needle and string to Amelia.
Amelia smiled, happy to help, and quickly threaded the needle without a problem. "That was easy. What next?" she asked as she handed it back to him.
"Don't you know how to sew?" he asked as she placed the threaded needle in his palm. "Didn't your mum teach you, or your grandmother?" he questioned, reaching into his coat pocket to grab his glasses. He'd realized his mistake far too late.
Amelia's face darkened and she looked down, fiddling with her red cardigan. "No," she mumbled softly. "They never got the chance... They both died before they could teach me. I've got my aunt, but she never has any time," she told him, finally looking up to him from underneath her eyelashes. She sniffled as she remembered her parents, long since gone. No matter how long it had been, she would never stop thinking about them, and she didn't think anything could fill the void they left in her heart.
With a clatter, the Doctor's glasses fell from his grip to the wooden floor. His eyes saddened and he sighed deeply, giving Amelia an apologetic and sorrowful expression. "Amelia..." he began. The sound of her name coming from his mouth felt so familiar, and he very much missed saying it. "I'm so sorry..." he muttered, looking down at the floor where his glasses had landed. Amy's glasses.
Amelia knelt down to grab the Doctor's glasses for him, then stood and held them out. "It's okay," she replied, her mouth turned down into a frown. A tear had escaped and she tried to look away, but the Doctor was there. He'd reached out his hand for the glasses and placed the other on her cheek, wiping away her tear with his thumb. She looked up and saw his careworn face, all wrinkled and grandfatherly, and sad. She swallowed the lump in her throat. "I miss them," she sniffled, her lip quivering.
The Doctor's frown deepened and his brows furrowed. He'd never seen Amelia so sad when she was young, and it broke his hearts that he'd brought up the subject of her parents. "Hey, hey... It's alright," he whispered tenderly, then drew his hand away. He had to keep reminding himself that this was not his Amelia, nor could she ever be. He placed his glasses on his nose then smiled slightly. "How about we fix your teddy now, eh?" he suggested.
Amelia sniffled once more and nodded. "Okay," she muttered, directing her gaze to the teddy bear in his hand, then she glanced up to see him smiling gently at her. She gave him a slight grin in return, and he patted his hand on his leg.
"Hop up," he said, holding out his hand to help her. She took it cautiously and climbed on his lap, adjusting her position so that he could show her what to do.
The Doctor placed the needle in her hand and she held it between her fingers as he guided her hand to the rip in the teddy, sewing the fur together. "There you go," he remarked. "You've got it now."
Amelia giggled as she weaved the needle in and out of the tan colored fur, feeling herself well up with pride at the Doctor's comment. She began to sew it all by herself as the Doctor watched over her shoulder, giving her direction when she needed it.
After she'd sewn the whole tear, the Doctor tied the end of the string while Amelia watched him curiously. When her parents were alive, they told her stories; lots of them. There was one story that always stuck with her, and it was her favorite; the story of the man who lived forever, but carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. As she looked at the Doctor now, with his grey floppy hair, wrinkling face, and that twinkle in his eyes, she wondered if that story was true. She wondered if this was the man the story was about.
The Doctor plopped the bear on her lap when he was finished and bopped it's nose with his finger. "There we are, good as new!" he announced, giving her a smile.
She smiled in return and hugged it gently, following his example and bopping its nose. Then she looked up at him again, an impish grin on her lips. "Doctor?" she muttered.
"Yes?" he requested, taking off his glasses.
"Do you have a mum and dad?" she implored, giving him an inquisitive look.
The Doctor looked at her curiously, his eyes crinkling around the edges as he smiled. "My mum and dad? Yes, I had parents once, a very long time ago," he replied.
Amelia nodded, looking down at her teddy bear as she adjusted her position on his lap again so that she could see him better. "Do you ever think about them?" she wondered, her forehead scrunching in thought. She could never stop thinking of her parents and what life might've been like if they were still with her.
"From time to time I do, but at my age I tend to forget. I'm a bit old, you see," he chuckled, giving her a playful wink.
She raised an eyebrow and her smile widened. "How old?" she inquired, looking him over again. He didn't seem very old; maybe about sixty-ish in her view. But then she was reminded of that story and she began to doubt her assumptions.
The Doctor sat back in his chair, chuckling softly. "Really, really old. I'm older than everyone in this town. But if you want to be specific, I might be about 1400, give or take a few decades," he told her, then bopped her on the nose. "And I have a hunch that you're about 7, right?" he guessed.
Amelia's jaw dropped, unsure she'd heard him correctly. "Yeah... You're, ah...But, how can you be that old?" she exclaimed, her wide eyes sparkling with wonder. The story was true, and this was the man she'd heard about. The man who lived forever, so old and so sad, and incredibly kind. He was a mystery to her, just as she was a mystery to him.
The Doctor smiled, his eyes drifting to the crack in the wall. "Well, I'm not human, I'm a Time Lord. My species live a lot longer than most. My home planet isn't Earth, though I did call it home for quite some time. I even had a sort of family..." he trailed off, reminiscing his time on the planet. He looked back to Amelia; his Amelia. She seemed exactly the same as when he first met her. A perfect copy. Too perfect. "So what are you then, hmm?" he challenged, the tone of his voice hardening. "A trick? You're not a hallucination, you can't be. I can touch you," he buzzed, taking her hand gently. She didn't know what to say and just stared at him, suddenly afraid again. Then he looked over her, his eyes soft. "Please... For the sake of what I have left of her, don't be a trick," he begged, his voice breaking as his eyes pleaded, his mouth turned down in a frown. If she were to suddenly zap away from him, again, he didn't think his hearts would be able to take that pain. And in that moment, he realized he didn't want to lose this Amelia, even if she wasn't actually his Amelia. She would be the same little girl in his eyes. But he knew that if this were a trick, she would be the perfect bait; his weak spot. And he had a terrible feeling that she was.
Amelia's eyes widened as she listened to him, feigning shock, then her face changed suddenly, and she was wearing a mischievous sneer. Something was stirred inside of her. "You are far too easy to fool, Doctor. I'm not your Amelia," she snickered, jumping off of his lap. She threw the bear on the ground and turned to laugh at his utterly astounded expression. "Oh, Doctor, Doctor. I don't know why you've been hoping for her. News flash, Time Lord. She's gone," she taunted him.
The Doctor froze, his body locked in the same position it was in when Amelia, or whatever she was now, was sitting on his lap. He stared after her, eyes wide with pain and shock. "I knew it was too good to be true..." he whispered to himself, watching as the thing that was Amelia bounced around the room. He knew exactly what she was, but he thought he'd sent them all away. "Still not done, eh?" he demanded, his voice growing louder as he arose from his rocking chair, snatching his cane from beside it. "Come to drive me mad? Well, you're too late. I'm way past mad. I'm more daft than the mad hatter, but you know what?" he stopped, his face crumpled in anger as he looked at her. The sorrow had subsided and was replaced with fury. The fury of a Time Lord.
Amelia plopped down on a wooden bench, looking up at him innocently as he towered over her. "Oh, I just wonder if you know what, Doctor. What will happen to her," she replied, her voice sickly sweet.
He knew exactly what would happen, which was why he hesitated. The Taverka; a race of creatures that took over the minds of others, smothering the real soul inside, and driving their loved ones to go to extreme measures to get them back. The Taverka were parasites, ethereal entities that fed off of the memories of their victims until there was nothing left to remember. They drove the people around them mad with anger, so much so, that eventually they would end it. But ridding their lives of the Taverka came at a cost. "I know all too well..." the Doctor muttered, walking closer to her, his eyes narrowed as she grinned up at him. There was a glint, ever so faint, in her pupil; her eyes showing a different emotion than the rest of her expression. Fear. The real Amelia was still fighting from the inside.
Suddenly, the Doctor's own expression changed, and he smiled. Amelia raised an eyebrow at him. "If you try anything-" she was cut off. The Doctor put both hands hard on each side of her head and leaned his head against hers. "NO," she shouted, trying to squirm out of his grip.
The Doctor squeezed his eyes shut as he pushed through the barriers surrounding Amelia's mind, opening the doors to his memories instead of hers. "Go on! Take mine! TAKE MY MEMORIES," he roared back at her while he placed himself inside the quiet darkness of Amelia's mind. Everything was dark, and even the darkness seemed heavy and suffocating. The Doctor turned on his imaginary cane, whirling around as he squinted his eyes through the darkness. "Amelia?" He called out, shuffling forward cautiously, or floating, or however one travels inside a mind.
Far in the black corners of her own mind, Amelia sat in a bundle on what might have been a floor, holding her hands to her ears as she rocked back and forth. She hoped it was a nightmare, and she desperately hoped she would wake up soon. She was getting tired and weak, and ever more frightened. Where is the Doctor? He always saves me, she thought. Why isn't he here? Then she paused and looked up, taking her hands away from her ears as she squinted into the darkness. Wait, she thought, how do I know that?
On the outside, the Taverka overtaking Amelia's body squirmed under his hands, trying to push him away. "I don't want your memories!" she shouted at him viciously, clawing at his arms. "Your Amelia is gone! She's dying! You can't save her this time," she writhed, the tone of her voice becoming somewhat worried.
He could hear her perfectly well, and he knew that his plan might work. "Listen to me!" he whispered aloud, his eyes still closed as he concentrated. The Taverka had suddenly stopped struggling and took its advantage, reaching a hand to the work bench beside them.
"Amelia Pond!" he called out to her again in her mind, trying desperately to awaken any thought to save her from being drowned by the Taverka. "My Amelia Pond! The girl who waited for me, after I crashed into your garden so, so many years ago. You called me raggedy man," he told her, trying to elicit impossible memories.
Amelia's ears perked up at a distant sound echoing towards her, almost like a voice. She lifted her head, breathing quickly as she looked around, but she saw nothing. "Doctor?" she tried to stand, but she felt as if something was tying her down, like a massive weight had been placed on her. She could hardly move at all.
The Doctor moved forward, worry and panic in his voice as he called out to her once more. "Come along Pond, please!" he bellowed. No matter where he moved, there seemed to be nothing but darkness, and he'd begun to wonder if he was too late.
"Open your eyes, Doctor," the smooth voice of the Taverka hummed, grasping what it had reached for in Amelia's little hand. "We both know you wouldn't risk killing her," she said, holding up a carving knife, grinning maniacally as it glistened in the light of the crack. "You sure keep your blades nice and shiny, and sharp," the thing muttered appreciatively, poking the pointy tip with her index finger.
The Doctor's eyes opened and he stared at the Taverka, his eyes glowing with rage, though he kept his voice level. "No you won't. Your kind are too selfish. You wouldn't risk your own existence just to waste it like that," he reasoned.
"Oh, really? Well, I can't deny the selfish part, but don't underestimate me," she countered, a sly grin on her face. Her eyes narrowed at him. "I'm only here to ruin you, sweetie," she purred, and the Doctor's eyes widened at her word choice. She must have delved into his memories after all.
At the same time, the door to the tower slowly creaked open, and soft footsteps echoed towards them. "Doctor? Are you in?" a quiet, sweet voice called in as the door clanged shut.
Panic tightened the Doctor's throat as he heard the footsteps approach them, searching his mind for words, but none came. The footsteps grew closer until they were right outside the doorway. "Wait a minute, Claire!" he called, keeping his eyes on the possessed child in front of him and his hands on either side of her head. He couldn't break the connection, otherwise he would've knocked the knife out of her hand already.
"Are you alright?" she asked, shifting her weight as she hesitated by the entryway, causing the floorboards to creak.
Little Amelia's grin widened as she held the knife upwards. "Go on Doctor, tell her," the Taverka muttered, its eyes glimmering with determination, not fear. He was losing her.
"Who is that?" Claire inquired, peeking around the corner as her long, coffee hair fell over her shoulders. Her large blue eyes filled with terror as she watched the scene unfolding before her.
The Doctor averted his gaze from the Taverka to look up at Claire, who'd paused in shock at the doorway just as Amelia swung the knife upwards.
"NO!" Claire exclaimed, running forwards to the pair. She tried to hit away the knife, but she was a second too late.
The Doctor let out a choked breath, looking down at his now bloodstained shirt. He'd tried to avoid it, but the knife managed
to slice his left side. "Amelia..." he whispered, then closed his eyes again. He was going to save her, even if it killed him. He knew she was real and alive inside her mind; she just needed to get out.
"Not this again," Claire mumbled as she hurriedly grabbed the knife out of Amelia's hand.
"Stupid bloody humans," it grimaced as it tried to wriggle out of the Doctor's grip again.
Inside her mind, the Doctor stumbled. Even his imaginary self was being affected by his wound. "Amelia!" he called breathlessly, looking around in the darkness. He vaguely wished he had a torch, and then one appeared in his hand. He raised an eyebrow, then turned it on. "Amelia? I'm right here. Follow my voice and we can get out of this," he pleaded.
Amelia looked about wildly, searching for the source of the voice. It sounded a bit like the Doctor, and she hoped over everything that it was. "Doctor?" she called louder.
The Doctor whirled around, hearing the faint whisper of a small voice. "Amelia?" he answered, shuffling towards where he thought the voice was coming from.
Amelia's eyes widened with happiness and her heart welled up as she heard his voice. "DOCTOR!" she screamed, trying to get up from where she was tied down with invisible strings. All the power in her voice faded when she realized she was still stuck.
"I-I can't move," she called out without enthusiasm.
The Doctor continued walking. "Amelia, listen to me! This is your mind, your domain. You're not stuck; it's just making you think that you are. You can do it, I know you can!"
"But I-I can't!" she cried, forcing herself upwards from the floor, only to be pushed back down again.
The Doctor began walking faster, hearing her voice a bit louder and closer now. "I can hear you, Amelia! You've dropped the communication barriers. That was you! So trust yourself to get unstuck," he told her as he walked where he thought she might be. The torch did almost nothing in the darkness, only showing more darkness.
Amelia felt like giving up and lying back on the floor of her mind, letting the thing that was inside her take over. Then she saw a light glimmering in the distance. She squinted as it flashed in her face, holding up her arm to shield her eyes. She heard a voice with it, and she hoped; hope above all hope. She pushed up from the ground and managed to stand on her wobbly legs, then took a step forward. Then another, and another, until she was running towards the light in the dark before it flashed and faded from her. The light was constantly moving, flashing this way and that, disappearing for a moment only to appear again. As she got closer to it, she realized it wasn't just a light; there was a hand attached to it. She bumped into something solid, and when she noticed it was wrapped in a velvet coat, she clung to it. Or rather, him.
The Doctor hadn't seen or heard Amelia running towards him, and only realized it was her when she bumped into him and wrapped her arms around his waist, knocking the small amount of breath he had left right out of him. He sighed in relief and knelt down before her, hugging her to him. "I've got you. I knew you could do it," he whispered, then put a hand on her cheek. "My Amelia Pond," he smiled, and on the outside, a smile had formed. He didn't open his eyes, but he knew that the Taverka was cowering in fear. "And now she's got hope; the most powerful weapon in the universe," he said aloud.
"Hope? So what?" the Taverka snickered, still trying to push away. "You can't defeat me with hope."
Claire looked at them both, extremely confused. She knew about the Taverka and what they did, but she wasn't sure who the Doctor was referring to. She noticed his hands were losing grip on the girl's head, so she moved to hold down her shoulders.
In her mind, Amelia cried happily, clinging to the Doctor with all her might. She refused to let him go. "My Raggedy Man..." she muttered, leaning into his shoulder. She paused and quickly looked at him, sniffling still. "What do we do now? I can still feel that... Thing," she shivered.
The Doctor's eyebrows raised as he listened to her, thinking he heard something in her voice. Then he shook his head and got back to her question. "Ah, yes. Um... You've got to remember everything about your life. Every happy day, or terrible event, or even the least exciting thing," he explained, giving her an encouraging pat on the shoulder.
She nodded, then turned away from him, walking just a few feet away. She left him kneeling behind her, and his eyes widened as he watched the magic unfold. "You tried to kill me," Amelia muttered sternly, raising her arms up. "I am not just going to stand by and accept that," she said as her hands and arms began to flicker with light.
That was when the Doctor was sure he heard it. Amelia had obtained a Scottish accent. Lights began dancing before his eyes as Amelia took control of her body again. Ribbons of light flew around, illuminating the dark corners of forgotten memories. He grinned at her gleefully. "That's my girl!" he exclaimed as he tried standing up. His eyebrows furrowed as he recognized another change; his attire. He looked down, finding that his trousers were now brown pinstripes, and very ripped up. Even his shirt had changed to a familiar blue, but this was also torn apart. And he was wearing a tie. His eyes widened as he realized what this meant, and his hearts filled with absolute delight. "She remembers..." he whispered, standing up on both feet. He put a hand to his face, which was no longer wrinkled, but smooth and young. He let out a jolly laugh. "My Amelia Pond! You clever girl!"
All at once, the lights swirled away and evaporated, and Amelia turned back towards the Doctor, her eyes alight with knowledge she shouldn't possess. She smiled and dashed towards him, her memories new and old; the memories of Amy Pond. "Raggedy man!" she squealed as she jumped into his arms. The lights that had disappeared had now returned, brighter than ever, flushing out the two with white.
The Doctor opened his eyes, his real eyes, to find Amelia looking up at him with tears in her eyes, and he loosened his grip on her temples. She quickly got up from her seat, Claire releasing her, and grabbed the Doctor around the waist. He winced in pain, but held her in his arms and collapsed before her, holding her tight. "Hello, Amelia," he murmured as he squinted away the moisture in his eyes. The threat was gone, and the Taverka vanquished. All from a spark of hope.
Amelia clutched to his coat, now back to its normal burgundy velvet. "God, I've missed you," she sniffled, her Scottish accent coming through. She remembered blinking and losing him forever, being sent back in time, and going back to Rory. But those weren't her memories, even though they felt like hers.
The Doctor's hand went to his left side, feeling a stinging pain where the blade had sliced his skin. He let go of Amelia for a moment to look at it, seeing his shirt had a large red spot where the wound was. He grimaced as he sat backwards. "So have I," he muttered, his voice breathy, answering Amelia. He looked up at her and smiled, his lips tight as he tried to bite back the pain. "But you're here now, and I'm not going to lose you so easily this time," he said, his voice pained. "I'm not letting you go," he coughed, looking pointedly at Claire as he held onto his side.
Amelia knelt down beside him, looking worriedly at the gash. "What happened?" she asked, looking up at the short brunette girl behind her with a confused expression.
Claire took a step back, unsure how the horrifying exchange between the two had turned around so quickly. She shook her head in disbelief and held up the knife that was still in her hand. "You stabbed him! With this! How can you forget that?" she demanded, looking at the Doctor for an answer.
"Claire," said the Doctor weakly, holding up a hand. "She didn't have control over her own body. It was the Taverka. Just... Just go get a bandage or something... Please," he told her, his voice fading. "I'm losing quite a lot of blood at an alarming rate."
Claire's eyebrows furrowed, but she did as he asked and dashed to the kitchen in search of the First Aide Kit she knew he'd buried somewhere.
Amelia turned back to the Doctor, panic overwhelming her as she looked over him. He'd gotten very pale and sickly looking, and she didn't know how to help him. "What can I do?" she asked frantically.
The Doctor waved her off, shaking his head. "Stop worrying about me. It's just an occupational hazard," he replied, looking up to her with a sly grin.
She raised an eyebrow at him. "Occupational hazard? You know I still have half the mind of a seven-year-old," she laughed, and so did he despite the pain. It seemed to keep both of their minds away from his side wound.
"Ah," he chuckled. "There she is." He was hardly able to keep himself upright anymore, and he wasn't keeping pressure on his side, but he didn't seem to care. His gaze was locked on Amelia, as if she would disappear if he blinked.
She raised an eyebrow at him. "Alright, let's get you on your chair," she suggested, helping him up from his left side and letting him hobble to his creaky rocking chair.
He slumped into it just as Claire rushed back in with gauze and a wash cloth. "Here," she said, handing Amelia the gauze. "I'll wash off the cut and you help me wrap it, alright?" she told her, as Amelia looked up with a horrified expression.
Amelia hesitated as she held the gauze in her hands, looking at it as if it were something alien. "Uh... Okay," she muttered.
The Doctor winced as Claire pulled away the fabric sticking to his skin with the blood, and quickly dabbed his cut. He howled. "Sorry!" Claire apologized, though she continued cleaning the wound. "It's not water," she muttered.
The Doctor grumbled and bit his lip. "Well no, of course not. It's alcohol," he strained to say, his voice rising in pitch as she swiped his tender skin.
Claire rolled her eyes, but she looked as pained as he felt. "Oh, stop whining. Just a little more," she said as she wiped the rest of the blood away. Once she saw how deep the gash really was, she frowned. "I think you might need stitches," she muttered.
The Doctor glanced at his wound, slightly more calm now that the pain had ebbed. "I thought as much," he grimaced.
Amelia felt terrible about the whole thing; coming to the Doctor, putting herself and him in danger, and stabbing him. He told her it wasn't her fault, but it always felt like it was. "I'm so sorry, Doctor," she whispered.
The Doctor looked to Amelia as Claire rushed off again to get the supplies to stitch him up. "Amelia... Stop blaming yourself. It was my fault you were put in danger in the first place, and like I said, it's an occupational hazard," he told her.
She shook her head. "You keep saying that, but listen to you. You're blaming yourself up and down. It wasn't your fault the Taverka took over my mind," she retorted.
"No, but it was. Just my presence in this town attracts all kinds of atrocities and enormities," he countered.
"Oi. Mind of a seven year old, remember?" Amelia smiled. Her mind was filled with Amy's memories, in the Doctor's point of view, but they were like stories. Stories told by the Doctor about her, and they were all coursing through her mind at a million miles an hour.
The Doctor returned the smile, but his eyes were cold. "Monsters, which is why I believe you were brought to my tower in the first place. Is your real name even Amelia?" he asked, though a second later he realized his assumptions were a bit harsh.
Amelia looked taken aback. "I am Amelia Pond, and I came to your tower because my teddy bear needed fixed, nothing more and nothing less."
The Doctor managed a small smile, though he wasn't fully convinced. "Maybe I should wait until tomorrow to ask you," he muttered, almost to himself.
Amelia's brows furrowed, confusion clouding her thoughts as Claire came bustling back in. "W-what do you mean?" she asked, but the Doctor was distracted by the stitches going into his side.
"Amelia, could you help me?" Claire asked as she threaded the medical string through the Doctor's skin. She was merely a high school student, but her medical technique surprised even the Doctor.
Amelia looked baffled. "I... Um, sure," she muttered, blinking multiple times to shake the bewilderment away. "What do you need me to do?"
"Keep him talking," Claire stated simply.
"What?" Both the Doctor and Amelia said at the same time.
"You heard me," Claire muttered, concentrating on the needle. "The only way to distract him is to get him to babble on about something."
The Doctor shrugged because he knew it was true, then immediately regretted doing it as pain shot through his side. Amelia sighed deeply, a few memories of the Doctor's gob reminding her that Claire was right. "Fine then," she decided, looking up to the Doctor sternly. "Tell me why you're going to ask me again tomorrow."
He frowned as he looked to Amelia. "All those memories inside your head," he began, his face pained, but not from the stitches torturing his side. "You won't ever be able to retain them. They'll all fade, and you'll be the little girl you were before you met me," he muttered solemnly, wincing as Claire pulled on the stitches.
Amelia's eyes filled with moisture and she shook her head furiously. "No... But I... I don't want to forget all those memories, all those adventures," she whimpered. She tried blinking away the tears, but they kept coming. "I don't want to forget you."
The Doctor's frown deepened. "I know. I'm so sorry, but there's not much I can do," he murmured.
Claire was silent as she worked, taking in everything the Doctor was saying. What memories? What had Amelia absorbed and was now forgetting? From what she'd heard, Amelia acted older than she looked, but she would soon forget it all. But why?
"Yes there is," Amelia told him as Claire was tying off the stitches.
The Doctor looked at her, a bit confused. "What do you mean?" he asked, wincing as Claire pulled on the stitches again.
Amelia smiled. "You do what you're best at," she muttered, finding it ridiculous that he didn't realize, "Telling stories."
The Doctor's eyes widened as he realized what she meant, and he was about to say something when she continued. "If what you're saying is true, then I won't be me when I wake up," she began, grabbing his hand resting on the arm rest. She gripped it in both of hers. "I'll be the Amelia Pond I was when you crashed into my garden. Alone, afraid, and innocent. So do me a favor," she paused, thinking about reciting her afterword, then thinking better of it. "Tell her everything from saving whales, to fighting pirates, and to giving hope to the greatest painter who ever lived. Maybe not too much about Rory yet, but tell the stories to Rory as well. Maybe he'll be my Rory," she giggled. "Tell her the story of Amy Pond and her adventures with the raggedy Doctor. I want to remember being Amelia for as long as I live, and you better make sure of that," she told him in her stern Scottish accent.
He looked shell shocked, utterly befuddled, but completely amazed. Claire was finished stitching him, and she was listening to Amelia as well. Claire was intrigued, wondering how this little girl knew all of these stories. She'd heard them herself, told by the Doctor when she was just a child. And yet the Doctor looked unsure.
"Promise me?" Amelia asked, holding out her pinkie finger.
The Doctor smiled, then pinkie promised her. And just like that, he was wrapped around her finger.
Amelia grinned triumphantly, and the Doctor returned the smile. Claire sat on the floor beside his chair, confused as ever, looking sheepishly between the Doctor and Amelia. The Doctor glanced over at her and realized that she didn't know what was going on, so he sat up in his chair and set about introducing them. "Oh, sorry! I nearly forgot. Amelia, this is Claire Abshire," he said, gesturing to Claire, and then back to Amelia. "And this is Amelia Pond."
"Wait," Amelia interjected. "Abshire like the orphanage?" she asked, her curiosity piqued. The Abshire Orphanage was the only orphanage in Christmas, named after one of the most infamous people in the town, other than the Doctor, who died heroically a long time ago.
Claire nodded, and the Doctor explained. "Yes. All the children who arrive at the orphanage, no matter what their age, are given the last name Abshire if they haven't already got a last name," he explained, his tone seeming reminiscent yet bitter.
Claire smiled and held out her hand to Amelia. "It's nice to meet you," she said, and Amelia took her hand. Claire seemed familiar to her, reminding her of a memory. In the Dalek Asylum, she'd heard that voice before. And her face looked so familiar. She was a fading image on a pier, short brown hair, shrouded by mist. The words she'd written in the introduction to Summer Falls echoed in her head. Run you clever boy, and remember. She seemed kind, and she reminded Amelia of the Doctor in some ways. She appeared very intelligent and acted it, but she had kind and caring eyes just like him.
"I'll explain a bit more over some tea, if you like," said the Doctor to Claire, about to get up, when both Amelia and Claire pushed him back in his seat. "What are you doing?" he asked.
Claire gave him a hard look. "You stay put, mister. You're not going anywhere with that split in your side. Oh, that reminds me, we still need to wrap that gauze around you," she muttered, fumbling around in the pockets of her dress.
"But, ah," the Doctor stuttered. "I'm perfectly capable of making tea!" he argued, acting like a stubborn child.
Amelia held up the gauze that was still in her hand. "I've got it. You go ahead and make some tea, I think I can manage this," she told Claire, who nodded and clicked her fingers.
"Right. Okay, I'll make some tea, you get him patched up, and Doctor don't you dare move," she ordered him, to which he rolled his eyes and gave a solute, glancing at his hand dubiously. She hurried off to the kitchen as the Doctor helped Amelia with the gauze.
"Tell me about her," Amelia muttered as she tied off the gauze.
"About who?" he asked, his brows furrowed as he fixed his shirt again.
"You couldn't have made it this far all alone. This Impossible Girl that I keep seeing in my head. She looks like Claire, but she's not Claire. Her name is... Clara? It's very close," Amelia muttered, placing the roll of gauze on the little cluttered coffee table.
"Oh, Clara? Well, do you understand why she's so impossible?" he asked her.
Amelia stood before him, looking out the window beside his rocking chair. "She jumped into your time stream?" she guessed, a bit unsure. It was all a bit of a blur, and not really that interesting to her. In fact, she was a little bit jealous that this Clara seemed much more important than she did. "So she was spread out across your entire life, starting when you stole the TARDIS, and obviously still now. She saved you in some way or another," she said, almost grudgingly.
The Doctor's eyebrows knit together as he observed her. He realized she was jealous, and it reminded him of Sarah Jane when she'd met Rose. "Amelia," he began, leaning forward to take her hand. "You all hold a special place in my hearts. And..." he paused, shaking his head as Amelia looked at him worriedly. "I've lived for over a thousand years, and everyone that I ever loved has died. I move on because I have to, because that's the cycle of life. And because if I didn't, I don't think I would be alive right now," he told her.
Amelia looked at him through blurry eyes, not sure how to react, but she realized her jealousy was really foolish. He must've seen it, because it felt like Clara was replacing her. She smiled as a tear fell down her cheek and she quickly hugged him. "I'm not going to leave you this time. I promise," she mumbled, her voice muffled as she talked into his shoulder.
He sighed and closed his eyes, wishing that she could keep that promise. He knew what she meant, but no matter what they all left him in the end. He hugged her closely, and a few minutes later, Claire walked in holding a tray of tea, with cream and sugar. She sat down on the little sofa and placed the tray on the coffee table, knowing precisely what the Doctor liked, and asked Amelia how she liked hers. Amelia ran over to grab her teddy off the ground before coming back to the rocking chair, and much to the Doctor's surprise, she climbed on his lap again. Claire handed them both their cups, then took a sip of her own, watching how natural they both seemed to act with each other. It looked like Amelia belonged there with him, sitting on his lap as they laughed and told each other stories. Soon, the Doctor began to explain what had happened with the Taverka using Amelia as his own weakness. He explained that Amelia had absorbed his memories of Amy Pond, a companion Claire had heard very much about.
"Oh, so Amelia thinks she's Amy," Claire concluded.
The Doctor nodded, looking to the little girl on his lap as she sipped her tea. "In a way, but she still has all the memories of her life in Christmas. By tomorrow morning, the memories of Amy should have faded, and this Amelia Pond will live her own life," he muttered, giving Amelia an encouraging smile as he sipped his tea.
Amelia frowned. "He's going to tell me stories. That way I can remember, sort of. They'll just be stories, but I know how stories impacted me when I was just a kid in Leadworth. So, I'll be living the life I want to with Amy as a guide," she realized, stirring her tea absently. "And you have to tell Rory the stories too. He has to have someone to use as a role model. I won't remember that I love him, but if he's my Rory, I will eventually," she finished, yawning slightly.
Claire nodded, understanding. Amelia wanted to remember the Doctor, and her old life, and all the people involved. Claire could understand that more than anyone. Being an orphan, she didn't like not knowing her roots, who her parents were, or where she came from. It was all a bit foggy in her mind. She came to the orphanage very young, but old enough to run. She ran a long distance, according to the Doctor, who was kind enough to take her to the orphanage so she would be taken care of. The only knowledge she had was of her first name, and the monster she was running from, but she didn't dare try to remember it. It all seemed like a nightmare, and she tried her best to forget.
The Doctor smiled and leaned back in his chair, causing it to creak and move a bit. Amelia laid her head on his shoulder, closing her eyes as she began to doze. "Can you tell me a story now?"
He chuckled and rested his head just above hers, putting his arm around her. This would be his last chance to tell his Amelia Pond a story. "Of course, but which one? Whales, pirates, painters? Which will it be?"
Claire grinned at the Doctor, settling back in the sofa as she waited for him to start. The two looked so accustomed to one another, like a grandfather rocking his restless grandchild to sleep. They looked like family. She reached over to take Amelia's cup from her, just in case she spilled it, setting it on the tray before she sat back in her seat.
Amelia breathed deeply, finding comfort and safety in the Doctor's arms. She hadn't felt this way since before her parents died. "The little girl in the garden, please," she muttered quietly, following up with a yawn. Flashes of twinkling stars and colors, reds and blues, bright yellow sunflowers and orange hair, raggedy clothes and giant menacing cracks raced through her mind. All the other memories were beginning to fade.
The Doctor smiled, closing his eyes as well. Maybe he would finally get that nap he'd been waiting days for. "That's my favorite story," he murmured, rocking on his chair a bit more. And so he began. "Once upon a time, in the little town of Leadworth, a little girl named Amelia Pond sat by her bedside, praying to Santa to send someone to come and fix the crack in her wall. And wouldn't you know, someone did. But not anyone Amelia was expecting. With a crash and a boom, a large blue police box appeared on its side in her garden, and she ran outside with a torch to investigate."
"Doctor?" Amelia mumbled, already nearly asleep. "What's inverstigate mean?"
He chuckled, "Investigate means to check, or spy, or explore," he told her, and Claire chuckled as well, getting up to take the tray back into the kitchen. She grabbed the Doctor's tea cup on the way by.
"Okay," she replied. "You can continue," she yawned, fidgeting a bit as she tried to make herself comfortable.
He chuckled again and continued rocking, going on with the story. "When she got to the box, a huge grappling hook flew out-"
"Oh, so that's what it was called. I never did know what to call it," Amelia interrupted him.
The Doctor sighed. "Amelia, how am I going to tell the story if you keep interrupting me?"
Amelia shrugged, eyes still closed as she curled up into a ball. The Doctor shook his head and went on. "A huge grappling hook flew out with a rope attached, and a man climbed out of the box. She shined the light right in his face, and the first thing he asked was, 'Can I have an apple?' It was a silly request coming from a man in raggedy, soaking wet clothes and silly floppy hair. She was nervous around him, but she trusted him, for some reason I'll never understand. She took him in, gave him loads of different foods to try, all of them horrid to taste. Finally, he settled for fish fingers and custard. A strange yet tasty combination. They're sitting across the table from one another as he dipped the fish fingers in the custard and she was digging into a tub of ice cream. He asked her name, which he found out was Amelia Pond. 'Like a name in a fairy tale,' he said." The Doctor paused and looked to Amelia fast asleep in his arms. "Oh, Amy. Your whole life was a fairy tale. The things we did, eh? All those planets and galaxies and distant moons and technicolor landscapes. Back and forth in time we went. Those were the days. Those were our days of glory. You running away with a mad man and his box," he muttered a little sadly, closing his eyes.
Claire walked back in and found the Doctor silent with his eyes closed, and Amelia deep asleep on his lap. She smiled, moving to grab one of the extra blankets off the sofa. She draped it around them, then sat back on the couch, covering up as she made herself comfortable.
"You showed me that crack in your wall," the Doctor yawned, making Claire jump. She thought he was asleep, but he must've been somewhere in his mind. "We found out Prisoner Zero had escaped, and then my TARDIS started fazing and I ran down the stairs to fix it. I told you five minutes and I would be back. I told you to wait just five minutes. And you packed a bag and everything. That five minutes turned into twelve years, and I came back. You were older, and I'd lost my little Amelia already. But without that twelve years, you might not have fallen in love with Rory. And without the two years after that, you might not have gotten married at all. But you know, without me, without all those adventures we had from that night on, I'd have never married your daughter, and we may never have been family. I'm thankful for all that time, Amelia. I was a man without a home, and you gave me one," he finished with a yawn, finally dozing off himself.
Claire listened to the story, finding herself well up with tears. These two had gone through everything together. She'd never heard this part of the story before, and maybe the Doctor chose not to tell it this way because of how sad it was. His stories were usually full of whimsy and wonder, and this one was all that with a twinge of sadness and regret.
The Doctor was right though, she thought. Amelia Pond's life was a bit fairy tale. And now it was his job to make sure she remembered it.
Continued in chapter two...
Who is Claire? Not even the Doctor knows the answer to that question. A young girl who looks mysteriously like Clara Oswald, his impossible girl; the girl that always seems to pop up in his life. Echoes of her were scattered across his timeline, saving him from every peril by putting herself in his place. The question is: what is she doing on Trenzalore where he is meant to die anyways?