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Isn't it Beautiful?

Chapter Text

The Doctor and Susan landed on the planet of Kwansas.

“Why did you bring us here, Grandfather” said Susan. The planet was drab. There were no plants in sight, and the ground was just full of brown, dusty rock. If Susan wasn't being polite, she would have said it was the most boring place she'd seen. And she'd seen a lot of boring places, as a Gallifreyan student.

“Just wait,” said the Doctor quizzically.

“Is there trouble?” said Susan. The sky was black, and she was starting to wonder whether she should have worn something warmer.

“No trouble, child. Quite the opposite—we're alone on this planet,” said the Doctor, with a smile on his face. He took out a watch, and nodded, apparently to himself. “Be patient a little longer.”

And she waited. And then waited some more. Eventually, it got to the point where propriety wasn't going to stop her from complaining. “Grandfather, I--”

Then she noticed color crawling into the sky.

Red, mixed with blue, mixed with green. The colors mixed and mingled with each other to create a tapestry. It was like what she would later in life call an aurora borealis, only ten times as bright. And then she noticed something else about the colors.

“They're forming characters!” she said with glee.

“Indeed, child,” said the Doctor. “You see, history's events are etched in time. This planet is unremarkable, except for the fact that it is right on a 4-Dimensional rip in the time-space continuum. Not enough to cause damage, but enough to occasionally cause effects in our universe. More specifically, every so often, the etchings of the events show themselves in the sky above. These are events from other universes—displayed like a hologram. “

Susan saw dragons fighting knights; eight legged creatures having marriages; creatures made of glass playing with their young; an old man with two other children fighting giant lizards with water cannons, and other sights the Time Lords would have declared impossible. And her Time Lord senses could feel the different time-lines being filtered through, and sorted into a beautiful painting made of light.

As Susan marveled at these sights, the Doctor said “See, my dear, this is why you should listen when your grandfather asks you to be patient. Look at this marvelous sight. I can't imagine why you keep on bugging me to take you to visit Earth, there's nothing so interesting in that planet.” He paused, then said quietly,”Ever since reading about this place, I always wanted to take your parents here when they were young, but the Time Lords frown on so-called “silly excursions”... well anyway, it's almost over. Only happens once every millennium, you know.”

Susan heard him, but as mostly looking at the shimmering lights. As it receded back into the sky, she thought she saw a girl who looked at lot like her, staring back. She blinked, and the image was gone. “That was marvelous, grandfather,” she said, as the sky returned to pitch darkness.

“Isn't it beautiful?” said the Doctor, clapping in delight.

Susan hugged him, and said “ Thank you, grandfather. I won't ever forget it.”

Chapter Text

“Isn't it beautiful?” said a man, pointing at what looked to her like a syringe. He had assured Tegan that this syringe did not contain life-threatening liquid. It was only a truth serum that would force her to give up her biggest secrets. Tegan was less comforted than he apparently expected.

“You know, I could care less what you w--” Tegan began to snarl.

“It's 'couldn't care less',” said the scientist. “Have proper grammar, sweets.”

Oh god, he wasn't just a creepy scientist who had tied her to a cold metal table, but also a pedant, and possibly sexist. “Why do you even have me trapped here?” she said. Maybe reasoning with him would work?

“Well, you seem to be a companion of that Doctor. That alien is smarter than anyone I've ever met! If I knew the knowledge in his head, I could advance humankind so far...for a pretty penny of course. I'm sure Van Statten would pay for knowledge of a TARDIS's workings. Since you are a companion of that fellow, and an rather stubborn one at that, I'm going to use this truth serum, which is a beautiful creation of mine from years of research, to extract info from you. This serum is one of many that I've made.” He gestured to an open canister of serums. “Sleeping serums, poisonous serums, even some aphrodisiacs, all works of art...anyway, I think I'll use the truth serum on you. Clearly, you must have knowledge on the TARDIS.”

“Why not get the Doctor himself? What makes me special?” asked Tegan.

“Nothing. You were just the easiest to capture. In fact, I'm starting to think you're the dumbest of the group.”

Could this guy be any more of a jerk ?

“Of course, if you were willing to help me find your friends, we wouldn't have to go through such unpleasantness,” he said, suddenly getting a glint of cunning in his eyes. “In fact, I know a teleporter or two. I could even get you to Sydney. Imagine, back home, without having to deal with any of this sci fi malarkey.”

A little voice in Tegan's head said “You're so close to home. Never liked that bunch anyways...just give em up. You're not responsible for what happens next, plus the guy's not that bad... “ Tegan immediately felt guilty, then told that voice to stuff it. The voice quickly ran away back to the “bad idea” bin.

“Why don't you release these restraints,and then I'll make you WISH you had a teleporter to take you away” Tegan said in her most venomous tone she could muster.

The scientist sighed. “Those psych profiles are useless,” he muttered. Then, pointing the syringe towards Tegan's neck, he said “I forgot to mention that the serum, in order to provide extra incentive, also creates high neurological pain. I feel sad you forced me to do this, since for someone of the fairer sex--”

“Just shut up and torture me, you gutter worm,” said Tegan.

The scientist shrugged. “This may...actually will hurt a bit--”

He was cut off by a loud explosion from behind. Spinning around, he was met by the sight of a woman in a velvet dress, pointing an energy weapon at him.

“Let Tegan go, or I'll be the last thing you ever see,” said Nyssa. Tegan noted that the energy weapon was unloaded, and completely harmless.

Of course, the scientist didn't know that, being from 21st century and having only seen futuristic weapons on TV. “Well, you don't have to be so rude about it” he muttered while quickly untying Tegan

“Tegan, we were worried sick!” Nyssa said, while hugging Tegan. (She still had a completely useless gun pointed to the cowering scientist).

“You finally found Tegan!” said the Doctor, walking swiftly through the hole Nyssa's energy weapon made in the wall. He then saw the scientist. “So you're the one who captured Tegan. If you wanted information from me, you didn't have to take it by force. What's your name?”

The scientist was still looking at Nyssa's gun. The Doctor motioned her to move it away. When the weapon was out of his face, the scientist began “My name is--.”

Tegan injected a sleeping serum into his neck. “No one cares about your name.” Looking at the others' shocked looks, she said “I already heard his plan. It was rubbish. Let's leave."

.

Chapter Text

A man in a velvet coat sat, and pondered what to do next. Above him were countless officers deliberating on an escape plan. The ship that he was on was probably going to be blown to smithereens in moments.

But, in a time when most people were panicking, he was silent. He noticed a rat in a corner of the ship.

“How did the rat get on the ship?” he asked another passenger. The passenger seemed to be too busy on trying to keep the rapidly decreasing shields up from enemy fire to answer the Doctor's request.

The Doctor, seeming slightly annoyed at being ignored, stomped rather loudly to the main floor of the ship. The ship known as the Blazing Eternal (or just Blaze) was originally meant as a holding container for the survivors of the dissolution of the human colony Eternal (such names almost seem to test Fate to cause a catastrophe) . As such, it had many floors, but custom had decided that floor 39 was the main floor. The passengers would like to think that this decision was made for a great purpose, but the Doctor greatly suspected it was made just because most of the bathrooms was on this floor. Speaking to the Captain, the Doctor said “Why is there a rat running about on the floor?”

Captain Zie-buck , who had many other, more pressing matters on her mind (like the explosions rocking the ship) gave the Doctor a look that said, “I couldn't care less, and I'm two seconds away from throwing you from the ship. You would do well to step away slowly”

Unfortunately, the Eighth Doctor, unlike his last incarnation, seemed incapable of deciphering implied communication of immediate desire to exit, or in colloquial language, was incapable of knowing when someone was saying “to GTFO.”

The Captain was of a short stature and relatively young age, but made up for it in her ability to scare someone to submission. “LISTEN, you rat-lover. Unknown aliens are attacking us. We don't know why they hate us, or how they are tracking us. All attempts at communication have failed. Our life support systems may have been damaged. Our septic system was certainly damaged, considering the smell.” She considered whether she had listed enough grievances to show the import to the situation, and added “Our snack dispenser is broken.”

(She immediately felt stupid for saying that, but irritatedly noticed that the broken snack dispenser was the first to get a reaction out of him.)

“So, having heard all of the catastrophes I'm dealing with,” she said. “DO YOU THINK I CARE ABOUT A RAT?” Recovering from that (controlled) outburst, she moved some platinum blonde hair out of her face, and waited for him to also get out of her face.

The Doctor didn't. “You say communication has failed? How so?” he asked.

This man didn't give up. Sighing, she said “Every time we try to communicate, all we get are pictures of this weird ape-creature.” She flicked a switch on the holo-console, and a weird ape-creature came on screen.

“It looks like a baby ape,” said the Doctor.

Captain Zie-buck agreed that it looked like a baby ape, if you had bad eye-sight and/or brain damage.
“Captain, they're readying another weapon!” said an officer.

The Captain asked “How are our shields?” She already knew the answer from the officer's mournful expression.

(Behind her, the Doctor was pestering a mother for a picture of her infant. Apparently, he said he had already asked, and received, the baby's consent.)

The Captain, it should be noted, had been the captain for only 3 weeks. She was actually originally the cook, but then the captain died of old age, and she just so happening to be the daughter of the captain. Fortunately, she had been privately schooled in military and ship directing knowledge. But se had never been prepared for giving a speech for a crew about to die. She turned to see the crew that entrusted on her with their lives, and realized that she failed them. She knew that she should give some big speech, but speech-making was not one of her biggest talents.

But she had to. She was the captain, after all. She began, “I'd give a big speech, but that would be trite. We're up against impossible odds. Maybe my father...,”and she nearly began to cry. But the captain couldn't cry, or else the whole crew would fall apart. That was one of her father's first lessons.

“No, he isn't here. So there's no good worrying about the past. We're in a tough fight. I honestly don't know whether we will survive. But whatever happens, I hope you know that I enjoyed serving with you all--”

“Excuse me,” the Doctor interrupted, “but would you mind uploading this baby picture to the attacking aliens? Wonderful speech, by the way. ”

Before Captain Zie-buck could begin to give him the worst tongue-lashing he'd ever received, the Doctor said, “Just do it. If you don't, you could destroy our last chance of saving this crew.”

Usually, she would have ignored him. But his expression showed her that he was serious this time. She nodded approval to the communication officer, and soon the picture of a smiling human baby was uploaded to an entire alien war-fleet.

At first, nothing happened.

Then, a loud explosion rocked the ship.

“No more shields!” said a despairing ship officer. He quickly hid under a table.. (Only a panicking human would immediately hide under a table to hide from an exploding ship. Human survival instinct can be bizarre sometimes.

“Well, this is very embarrassing,” said the Doctor.

“Actually, this ship has slow Internet,” said the communications officer (Why is a space network still called the Internet, when the actual infrastructure has nothing to do with Earth Internet? The same reason why you still say that you “hang up” a cellphone, or the Save function on a computer usually has a floppy disk symbol on it), “so it may take them a minute or so to get our message.”

A few more seconds of silence passed, and the officer under the table peeked his head out.

“Wait. They turned their weapons off!” the communications officer said.

“What did you do?” asked a surprised Captain.

But the Doctor was already running down the halls. Soon, he returned with something in his hand. It was the rat.

“Upload a picture of this, quick!” said the Doctor.

After receiving the message, the communications officer said, “They're giving out the Quivik standard sign for peace, and wish to board.”

“Let them,” said the Captain. Then she turned to the Doctor. “Now tell me what you knew. Why is a picture of a baby and a rat stopping them from killing us?”

“Oh, it's not necessarily anything I knew,” the Doctor said, with just a slight air of smugness. “I observed. For example, are you sure this is a rat? Look closely.”

She did. And then noticed something odd about the rat.

“It's got two tails?” she said.

“Actually, the tail's bisected, but close enough,” the Doctor explained, “ because this isn't a rat at all. It's a Quivik infant, which is easily confused for a young rat. You must picked it up somewhere along the way.”

The mother whose infant's picture had saved the Blazing Eternal said, “Actually, I started seeing the rat—I mean alien infant after we did that stop at the trading market on Rubity.”

“Poor thing. Must have been lonely without its parents,” said the Doctor.

The Captain wasn't done asking questions, though. “And the picture of the weird ape thing?”

The Doctor said, “I already told you. It looked like a baby gorilla. They must have scanned, and seeing there were primates on board, and having never seen a primate, they sent out pictures of what they assumed baby primates looked like. They hoped that, through those pics, we would know they were looking for a baby. When we did not respond with what they could understand, they assumed the worst, and began attacking in revenge for the dead baby. When we showed that the baby was alive and well, they quickly stopped attacking.”

Just then, two Quiviks came on board. They looked like...bipedal rats. Well, they looked like human-sized rats, with bisected tales, plus horns, and bony ridges on their backs. Oh, and they had metal armor with flamethrowers. But besides all that, they looked like bipedal rats.

The small “rat” in the Doctor's hand suddenly began chitterring, and jumped out of his hand and towards the adult Quiviks. Soon, all the Quivik were chitterring. It became very apparent from the body language that the two adult Quivik were the parents.

“Aww, that's so sweet,” said the officer under the table.

“Yep, isn't it beautiful?” said the Doctor, a big smile plastered on his face.

Even the Captain had to agree. “I actually feel bad about attacking them now, ” she murmured. Memories of her father came to her, and she actually did begin to cry. Just a little.

Then the Quivik walked out with their child.

“Wait, no thank you?” said the Captain, her tears (almost) forgotten.

“Well, we did just fight them. I guess not blowing us up is thanks enough,” said the comms officer.

“All's well that ends well,” said the Doctor.

“Wait!” said an officer. “The Quiviks are shooting another beam at us!”

There was no time to dodge. The shields weren't even depleted, because the shields were gone.

Instead, the shields were replenished.

“Their beam is fixing the Blazing Eternal's damage!” said Captain Zie-buck. “They're helping us!”

“Of course!” said the Doctor. “Whenever the Quivik can live in a place long enough to get a mental map of a place, they can upload it to a computer and use it to reconstitute the ship to original condition! Since the baby was in our ship for so long, they could put the ship back to mint condition!”

Then one final picture was uploaded to the ship. It was of the little baby Quivik, in the arms of its parents, clearly happy.

All's well that ends well, indeed.

Chapter Text

A loud whine nearly deafened the President. The whine was accompanied by a hole appearing in the door in front of her. She ran down the halls, not daring to stop to hold her breath. The dark hallway she was running through was currently with great relics of Gallifrey. As she smashed an object that was blocking her path, a small part of her mind winced. That object had been The Cylinder Pax, a great tribute to the peace between the societies of the Time Lords and the Crytens. She remembered one of her her teachers, a Ferengian , who had taught her about the negotiations, and how close the Ferenga had once been to war with the Time Lords. The Ferengan Truce was a good day that every Gallifreyan had been taught to revere and take pride in.

And Romana had just smashed it without a thought. She hadn't died yet, but in a way, her time as President was already starting to kill her.

Unconsciously, she had slowed down while thinking, and she noticed something had caught up with her. She heard rustling noises, and stopped to see what it was. That was a mistake. From beneath her, a silver, slender appendage wrapped around her leg. Romana immediately kicked at it with her other leg, and got an electric shock for her troubles. Stunned , she fell to the floor. Swiftly turning over, she looked at her attacker. It looked to Romana like a giant version of those Terran animals called spiders. Except that it had at least twelve legs, or whatever those appendages were supposed to be. It had a silver plating, and the air around the creature seemed to shimmer and become darker.

The spider leg around her own tightened, and the creature began to draw her toward it. Romana thought quickly, and threw her body into the nearest wall on the left. As she calculated, the spider was smashed into the wall as well. The creature still hadn't let go, but was slowed. Romana used that time to stick her hand into one of the security boxes for the relics. All Gallifreyan relics were protected by a Chronosynchronizer—it showed you all the timelines you could possibly have, at the same time. It would affect any person over time—but a Time Lord would be put under excruciating pain, probably with some lasting damage if the Time Lord stuck their hand in there too long. Romana knew all this, but also she knew that she had to risk it. The security box's effect was tactile-based—it would affect the silver spider as well as her.

Despite the stupendous amount of pain, Romana gritted her teeth and kept her hand in the box.Thousands upon millions upon an infinity of timelines swept across her senses. In one, she was living life as a environmentalist and pretending to be human with her wife and kids. In another, she was at the Doctor's funeral at a planet called Trenzalore with eight other of his companions, promising to continue the Doctor's legacy as protector of everything good in the cosmos. And one timeline in particular chilled her. tyrant who lead Gallifrey with an iron fist, claiming what she did was for the good of Gallifrey. Destroying enemies before they had a chance to become enemies, installing spies in even her most trusted friends' homes out of suspicion, and modifying people's timelines so they'd agree with her, without their consent. This Romana was so heinous, that eventually Rassilon himself was resurrected to stop her.

Finally, she took her hand out of the box. Romana laid on her back, and nearly blacked out. However, she wasn't out of danger yet, and propped herself on one elbow. Surveying around her, the creature was nowhere to be seen. Romana knew better than to think that meant it was gone.

“Romana!” said a very familiar voice. Romana's muscles tensed, as she prepared to run. This could be a trap. Relief watched over her when she saw Leela come into view.

“Thank Rassilon that you're okay!” said Romana. She continued “What of the rest of Commander Blue's soldiers? I heard them sawing the doors earlier, and I ran.”

“My weapons made quick work of many of them. The rest have hid throughout the building. Cowards,” said Leela. Leela then turned her head to the side, looking at Romana's gloomy face.

Romana noticed her looking, and said “Sorry if I'm not my best right now. When I became President, I never expected that I would have to deal with all this. I thought I would bring a time of beautiful ascendance.” She wiped her dust-soaked face with her silk (well, not actual silk, but silk is the closest Earth equivalent to Gallifreyan Busilta) sleeves.

Leela was examining the floor of the relic room, though Romana could tell from Leela's body language that the wilderness-born woman was thinking about what Leela said. She nudged the broken pieces of the Cylinder Pax with her foot. Taking a piece of rope from her pocket, Leela picked up the pieces and began doing something with them that Romana couldn't see.

“We are alive. Yes?” said Leela.

“...Yes?” said Romana.

“Well then,” continued Leela, while tying something together with the rope, “that is a good thing. And we are protecting the Ferengan people, despite the risks involved. Isn't it beautiful? To be alive, and do such a thing?” asked Leela. She finished with the pieces of the Cylinder Pax, and placed them in Romana's hands.

It looked nothing like the Pax. But Leela had rebuilt it into a graceful spiral structure, which actually looked more pleasing then before. Romana looked up to see Leela smiling.

“Do you like it?” Leela said.

“Yes. I think it's lovely!” said Romana truthfully. She made a mental note to announce to the Ferengan people, after this battle was over, that they would have a new symbol of peace called “Spiral Pax.”

“See? No need to worry yourself,” declared Leela. “There is beauty all around you. Enough talk, though. Now we must go.”

Trailing behind her bodyguard, Romana walked out the door of the relic room, into the humid warm air of Ferengian winters. . She wondered whether she should tell Leela about the timelines she had seen. Looking over at Leela, she noted that Leela was smiling, probably still elated at Romana's approval of her “artwork” Romana decided to just cast the memories of what the Chronosychronizer had shown her out of her mind. It never did well to dwell on illicit knowledge of one's possible future—self-fulfilling prophecies was an occupational hazard of being a Time Lord.

Unknown to her, the silver spider finished uploading its recordings of Romana's alternate timelines to its master Commander Blue. The caninoid smiled at this information, and then gave an order to the spider to self-destruct. The creature received the order, and then molecularly dispersed, its components filling the air and water that the Ferengians would intake, and serving as the eyes and ears for the the commander.

But that's a story for another time.

Chapter Text

Mel felt the warm sun on her face. She had spent the last few hours helping the Doctor battle a subterranean king and battle giant insects. When all you've seen for the last few hours is darkness, even an artificially created sun begins to remind one of home.

Home. She hadn't been there in a while, had she? Scratch that, she hadn't been there in forever.Arlene and Angelique, her former school friends, were hopefully taking care of themselves. Would she even recognizable when she finally came back?

If she ever came back.

She felt a tap on her shoulder, and turned her head. She saw the smiling face of the Doctor.

“How are you, Mel?” he asked. His clothes were still black from the dirt of the journey to the surface, but his cheer hadn't left him.

“I feel a little tired, but I'm alright” Mel said. She was more worried about the Doctor. It hadn't been that long since his regeneration from a large flamboyant man into a Scottish jester. He was still a little off-kilter. Sometimes he would stare off into the distance randomly, and then snap back to reality. Other times he'd start giggling for no reason at all. Every now and then, she's see a flicker of the old carrot-top she knew. But sometimes she wondered if, in this regeneration, he'd changed more than she knew.

“Isn't the view beautiful?” said the Doctor. He pointed at the giant silver rings that revolved around the giant star. “Those create an artificial grrravity for the sun. Keeps the sun, and the planet, in balance.”

“And no one knew because they were being locked underground,” said Mel. She bit her lip, observing the refugees coming out for the first time in years. “Will they be alright?”

“I hope so, Mel,” the Doctor said. He tapped his umbrella on the red granite floor of the planet, making up an impromptu beat.

“Doctor, I just spent hours digging through dirt, and locking spears with walking giant ant-people,” said Mel, turning to face the Doctor fully. He looked at the ground, continuing the beat. “'I hope so' is a little weak for all the effort I've put in.”

The shadows from the sun was making it impossible for Mel to see the Doctor's expression. All she saw was his left eye, darting from his umbrella and to her.

“You deserve more than a 'I hope so', “ said the Doctor. He stepped closer into the sun's light, making dust lift from the ground and causing Mel to cough. With an apologetic smile, he continued “I could stay, and shepherd the rest of the society. There's certainly going to be trouble in the ensuing days. Some people were rather comfy underground, and they'll be afraid to come up. They'll need coaxing. It may get violent.”

“So we could stay. Make it less violent, and make sure it goes smoothly,” said Mel. The beat of the Doctor's umbrella (ba-ba—dump-dump-ba-ba-dump) was getting louder. Getting frustrated, Mel said “Will you please stop that nonsense drumming and answer?”

Looking hurt, the Doctor said “But I liked that nonsense beat.”

Mel felt guilty, and said “Sorry.” She just felt so tired, and sometimes she just needed a straight answer.

The Doctor said “You're giving me flashbacks of my teachers at the Gallifreyan Academy.” He gave an exaggerated frowning face. He kept the frown on his face, until Mel began to giggle despite herself. Mel knew he was trying to distract her, though, and soon began to glare at him.

The Doctor sighed. Resting his hands on his umbrella, he said “If I decided to help this new society find its ground, it would probably save many lives. I would probably become a god to them. But I'm not a god, and never want to be one. And what would happen if I left? And I'd have to leave one day, even if it's by death. The society might crumble into worse mess.”

“We couldn't just help them a little?” asked Mel.

The Doctor stepped fully into the light of the sun. He replied “We already have.”

For a few more moments, the Doctor and Mel watched the men, women, and children crawling from the city below and observing the sun and poking at the red rock of the world above for the first time. Noticing a boy and girl in miners' clothes playing some version of hide-and-seek around the rocks, he tapped Mel's nose and walked over to the children.

Mel smiled as she saw the Doctor begin playing the spoons in front of the delighted children. She stretched, and and was about to walk to the TARDIS, when she noted a group of people just standing still. She walked over to them, wondering what was up.

“They're enjoying the sun,” said the Doctor, who was suddenly behind her. Turning around, she saw him shush her.

“You haven't seen the sun in days, but they've never seen the sun ever. Let them enjoy it in silence,” said the Doctor.

Mel watched the people bask in the sun's rays. Eventually, and quietly, the Doctor and Mel slipped off in their TARDIS, and let the people begin their work of rebuilding.

Chapter Text

Clara was supposed to be grading a paper or two or 10 right now. Instead, she was out of breath, running after a mob criminal from a planet she'd never heard of before.

“Okay, next time you are definitely letting me choose the trip destination,” said Clara. The Doctor's past claims of how Clara would be shouting 'Isn't it beautiful' at his chosen destination was like a annoying alarm clock right now.

“You said you wanted to have “an exhilarating experience,” said the silver haired alien annoyedly. He wasn't out of breath at all. Clara, on the other hand, was too breathless to reply, so she just glared. “Is 50 mph, on a steam train in the 1900s, not enough for you?” he said. He was perfectly balanced on the train they were currently on top of. It was supposed to be a simple '30 minute extraction.”

Sweating profusely and constantly on the verge of falling, she shouted “Why are you using English units? Not even the English use English units anymore!” Clara gasped , and continued “By the way, she's getting away.”

Indeed, the woman, who was wearing some sort of blue advanced super-suit, was gliding over the train effortlessly. Both the Doctor and Clara were out of breath from following her, and Clara was thanking God she hadn't wore heels today.

The Doctor peered at the rapidly moving escapee, his eyes calculating her odds of evading him and his companion. Finally, he frowned and said “She's definitely getting away.”

The train made a quick swerve, and Clara nearly stumbled. She was caught by the Doctor, his long arms encircling her safely.

“Thanks,” she said, smiling at the Doctor and kissing him on the cheek.

The last incarnation of the Doctor would have been flustered, but this one barely noticed. Clara felt a twang of annoyance at her more stoic companion.

“So how do we catch her?” asked Clara. The blue of the woman's suit was a far away smudge now.

“That is not the question, Clara. The question is, are you a good actress?”

“Oh,” said Clara. She tried to look like she understood how that meant anything. The Doctor was grinning at her, as if he had explained some marvelous masterplan.

“So, what exactly is the plan?” asked Clara.

The Doctor explained the plan, and Clara informed him that was the stupidest plan ever. 2 minutes later, Operation: Stupidest Plan Ever was in effect.

The citizens traveling on the train were interrupted by two passengers making a ruckus. Strangely, no one had seen these passengers board. The young woman, called Clara, complained of being extremely sick and was about to throw up and how the train had to be stopped now! Fortunately, a Doctor was on board. After some hemming and hawing about her weight (which was met with a accidental kick from Clara), the Doctor declared that the train had to be stopped now! When the conductor tried to argue, the Doctor glared at him with a stare that could kill buffalo.

The train was stopped.

Clara was still on the floor, feigning a fainting spell while quietly moaning gibberrish (actually just the name of her students said really fast) . The Doctor was standing in absolute silence.

“Um, shouldn't we get Clara to a doctor?” asked a mother of two on board.

“You, shut up!” said the Doctor, one hand in his pocket. The train was so silent that Clara could hear her heartbeat. A man coughed, but wilted under the Doctor's side-eye glance.

Then, steps on the roof. They got louder and louder. . .until a woman's head peeked into the window.

“There you are!” snarled the Doctor, taking his hand out his pocket and pointing his sonic screwdriver at the woman, who swiftly pulled her head back—but not swift enough. A loud whine came from above, and footstep that sounded like running followed after.

“We need to move now, Clara!” said the Doctor. Clara tried to give an apologetic smile to the train riders, but before she could, the Doctor literally through her from the train car door onto the roof. Clara mentally filed away that under her list of “Never do that again, Doctor” and ran for the blue-suited woman. The woman was much slower now—the Doctor's sonic screwdriver having disabled her suit's defense systems. Nevertheless, the woman was fast, and Clara was breathing hard trying to catch up. The woman jumped the gap separating the cars into a pile of coal. Seeing her chance, Clara leaped onto the car, and began to wrestle with the woman. The teacher wasn't used to fighting, but she tried her best.

“Just...stay...still,” said Clara. Suddenly, the woman flipped Clara onto her back, and then pushed Clara off the track.. For a moment, Clara saw the 50 ft drop under her, and prepared for the worst.

A weathered hand held hers, and she was met by piercing blue eyes, and a brow furrowed with the effort of keeping a fully grown woman from falling off the edge. For a microsecond, she saw a sense of despair in his eyes that scared her, and reminded her of what she felt when her mother died. Clara, with the Doctor's support, scrambled back onto the train. When she looked back into his eyes, the emotion was gone, replaced with his usual stoicism.

Clara groaned when she realized the woman had escaped again.

“Fortunately for us, I was able to place a tracking mechanism on her suit when I sonicked her, so the authorities on her planet can do the rest,” said the Doctor. He kicked some coal pebbles at his feet, and added offhandedly “You did rather well, and in fact, I think we should take the rest of the day off, no?”

He was trying to hide it, but Clara knew the real reason he wanted to take a break was because he had been afraid of losing her just then. It was becoming clearer to Clara that if she ever perished, this Doctor would probably take it harder even than the last one would have.

“Thanks for saving my life again,” she said, giving him another cheek kiss as well as a hug.

The Doctor neither look at her nor responded, just walked on and beckoned her to follow. But Clara knew the Doctor well enough to tell there was just the faintest hint of a smile on his face. Maybe even a blush, though that might have been a trick of the light.

Chapter Text

Sheriff McGann pointed her gun at the criminals. “You actually showed your face after stealing? And defacing our monuments?”

“We did? Sorry, you appear to have made a mistake. I'm Clara Oswald, and he's--”

“A Doctor? We know. You painted your names over the statue,” said the Sheriff. “And what is HE DOING?”

Clara raised her finger, as if to pause the Sheriff, and walked over to her partner-in-crime, who had just licked the painted monument.

“What's going on?” said Clara. Was this some clever confusion tactic, to act like they didn't know? Would they still carry on this act?

“Spray paint, from the future. Probably was us,” said the Doctor. He shrugged. “Our future selves committed a past crime.”

“Is that a confession?” asked the Sheriff. Annoyingly, no one was scared of her gun.

“Clearly, someone has framed us!” explained Clara

“Nope. It's my handwriting,” said the Doctor.

Clara ran her hands through her hair, and growled uncouth words. as the Sheriff took Clara and the Doctor to the jail. The Doctor couldn't stop laughing.

“What's so funny?” said Clara darkly.

“Face it, Clara,” said the Doctor, “We've becomes Thieves of Future Past. Today, the Laws of Time dictate that I get to play the villain!”

A manic smile filled his face. “Today's gonna be fun! Isn't it beautiful?”