The Doctor was no longer surprised by how many times he had to fix time related incidents on Earth.
"Those humans and their inquisitive natures," he murmured, shaking his head with a smile like an overindulgent parent.
He had long since placed himself as their protector, warning off other beings with nefarious intentions towards the humans and their world. After all, there was an endless universe out there where these beings could get what they wanted without hurting other beings - or the humans in particular. Anyone who didn't want to play nice would learn he had a darker side to his nature quickly enough, but for now he put all dark thoughts aside and concentrated on the information gleaned from an excitable young human called Douglas Fargo.
The TARDIS had brought him to this little town called Eureka in the early years of the 21st century after detecting an anomaly in the time stream that would end the universe unless he intervened. He hadn't even needed to use his psychic paper to pretend he had top level clearance as Fargo seemed desperate to talk to someone about what had happened. As usual it all seemed to come done to desperation in one form or another. This time it was a brilliant mind about to be redacted and so afraid of never seeing his life's work achieved he hit the button too early, before he had checked all the parameters and equations. Weinbrenner had decelerated a single photon throwing the entire universe into a 10-hour time loop.
The TARDIS had spotted the anomaly immediately, though The Doctor lost several time loops working out the WHERE in space and time, arriving after the incident had resolved itself for once, or so it seemed. Another brilliant mind had figured it out with a little help from the no-so-brilliant town sheriff, and he had sacrificed himself to save the universe.
The humans believed that was the end of it but only The Doctor and the TARDIS knew the sacrifice had merely delayed the inevitable. The Photon had accelerated but Time was still looping, though beyond the measurable abilities of the humans. The ten hour time loop was now one hundred and forty-three years, four months, seventeen days, and six hours, and at the end of that countdown the universe would cease to exist.
After gathering all the information The Doctor headed into the small town looking for the sheriff, heading towards the most likely place, which was a small cafe where the smell of freshly baked goods had even him salivating in anticipation. Sure enough there was a human seated at the counter wearing clothing reminiscent of a uniform. He had a melancholy air about him. Grief. This time the Doctor needed the psychic paper before the sheriff - Jack - would open up to him, but once he started the words seemed to fall from him, and between the lines the Doctor recognized a truth that the human was denying.
Such funny, amazing creatures, the Doctor thought. So wrapped up in their fears and hopes and dreams they often missed what was right in front of their eyes.
That all of this had happened at the exact moment the presumed dead man was supposed to be marrying a woman both he and the Sheriff loved could not be a simple coincidence. Time was a living entity, ebbing and flowing, sometimes enraptured enough by the tiny moments of the existence of others to distract it from its purpose. This was why the TARDIS had registered the anomaly, why they came to land in this place and time after rather than before the event. Time wanted him to know what had caused the momentary distraction, wanted to ensure a being who could move in time and space would fix not just the time loop but the distraction that caused it.
He was there to break up a wedding so Jack would be with the man he truly loved, and fix time in the process.
Stepping back into the TARDIS he thought he would be back before Weinbrenner had flipped that switch and was almost amazed when he materialized in the Time Maintenance laboratory at the exact moment Nathan Stark input the sequence manually. Time stopped outside of the chamber for everything and everyone except for the Doctor. The Doctor walked up slowly, resting his hand on the uniformed shoulder of the injured Sheriff.
"Who the hell are you?"
"Exactly," he replied as he stared at the equations on the board. "Oh, these are good but..." He grabbed a marker and changed a few places.
"What are you...? Wait. Yes, that makes sense now." Dr. Nathan Stark looked to him in both awe and bewilderment. "You know temporal physics?"
"You could say I'm a time lord," he quipped before turning serious. "Why are you in there, Nathan? You could have saved yourself and let the Sheriff input the final sequence. He has great reflexes."
"I..." Nathan sighed, rubbing his face as all pretense flooded away. "I couldn't let him die for me."
"Oh you humans. Always so willing to die for each other and yet so afraid to live for each other."
The Doctor took out his sonic screwdriver, turning it to the right frequency before aiming it towards the chamber. He could feel the changes, with the photon accelerating smoothly as time intended, slowly disintegrating the time loop. With Nathan still stuck inside the time chamber the Doctor walked back to the TARDIS and opened the door, pausing a moment on the threshold. He stared hard at Nathan.
"Live for him, Nathan."
He closed the door and moved to the control room, sending the TARDIS back into the void between time and space, not needing to know it had worked but curious enough to want to see with his own eyes. He re-materialized in a small alley beside the wonderful cafe, sauntering inside and inhaling the delicious aroma of freshly brewed coffee and fresh pastries. Two familiar men sat in one of the booths off to the side, seated opposite but the contentment on their faces, and the easy way an older Jack Carter reached across to brush an errant graying lock of curly hair from Nathan Stark's smiling face was all the proof the Doctor needed.
He took a seat and smiled when the cafe's owner, Vincent, placed the most delicious banana milkshake in front of him.