The Ends of the Earth by vegetables
The Doctor looked awkwardly at Judith, then at the smashed up table, then back at Judith again.
“I can pay for that,” she said.
Judith looked down at the floor.
“If there’s a need to,” she said. “The whole house might be rubble soon enough.”
“Right,” said the Doctor. “Yeah.”
The clock ticked on the mantelpiece behind them. It suddenly seemed very loud, the Doctor thought. Had they always been as loud as that, the clocks? Or was that just another thing that was changing?
Judith was still silent; still looking at the floor. The silence got louder, somehow. Around it, the clock continued to tick.
“I was wrong about everything,” said the Doctor.
Judith looked up at her.
“Then Doctor Clayton wasn’t you?” she said.
“No, she was. I was right about that bit. But not about how I thought there was nothing to worry about.”
The fear grew brighter in Judith’s eyes.
“The end of the world,” said the Doctor. “You don’t have to say you told me so.”
Judith didn’t. She just glanced at the floor, once again.
The clock ticked.
“I was a bit wrong about Doctor Clayton, though,” the Doctor said, feeling this probably didn’t count as small talk. “She is me. But she’s a version of me that’s… much stronger than I ever thought I was. More distant, maybe. Like they changed the very nature of what I was because… I needed to understand what it was like to live as a person”—
Almost involuntarily, her eyes glanced over to the cross upon the wall.
“Don’t you dare,” said Judith. “She’s not the Father and you’re certainly not the Son.”
The Doctor looked down at her feet.
“I know,” she said. “I’m sorry.”
Judith shook her head.
“Doctors always think that you’re like God,” she said. “It isn’t true. You just stop people dying, ‘til the day that you can’t anymore.”
The Doctor shook her head as well, more forcefully than Judith had.
“Not God,” she said. “Like history. Much bigger and deadlier than even I’d really known.”
“But I really will pay for the table,” she said.
“And the china,” said Judith.
The clock kept ticking. Judith fumbled with her hands. Slowly the end of the world grew slightly closer.
“I’m sorry about what I said about you and Yaz,” she said. “Earlier. I’m sorry I said that.”
“Oh,” said the Doctor. “It’s okay. It is another time.”
“No,” said Judith. “You were right. It’s not our place to have judgement.”
“I said that?” said the Doctor. “Golly.”
Judith would have had a lot of opportunity for judgement, of course. Saving people from death who’d prefer that she wasn’t alive. Day in, day out; she wouldn’t get pleasure from it. Perhaps on some level she thought of it as a duty.
“You know Rosa Parks didn’t do it on her own?” said the Doctor.
“Of course I do,” said Judith. “I read all about what happened. When it went to the Supreme Court. All the people it took.”
The Doctor nodded.
“They needed a symbol,” she said. “A story. But a story never happens on its own. Rosa needed a lot of other people, who no one remembers even now. But they left their mark. Without people like them, nothing changes.”
Judith was silent again, for a while.
“You’re trying to make me feel better,” she said. “About myself, and everything. Aren’t you?”
The Doctor blushed. “Very possibly.”
“Thank you. But I don’t think it’s going to work. I’m sorry.”
“Why’re you sorry?”
“It seems like it’s something important to you. Trying to inspire us.”
The Doctor chuckled, only to herself.
“I was good at it, once” she said. “Unless I just thought that I was.”
The clock ticked, the night outside was dark. The CULLIS was cool and heavy in the Doctor’s hand.
“I have to go,” she said. “Show this doorknob to someone.”
Judith frowned. “Is that important?”
“It might be what saves the world.”
Judith stared at her.
“Gosh,” she said.
The Doctor took a deep breath.
“Judith,” she said. “I know you’re the wrong person to ask. But Yaz is pretty cross with me, and there’s something I’m not able to tell her. Bit awkward. Both me and the thing. It’s”—
She trailed off.
“Oh, she probably knows,” she said.
“Thank you for everything,” she added. “And I really am sorry about the mess. The room. The planet. All of it.”
Judith smiled, her eyes betraying the lie.
“Good luck with your doorknob,” she said.
“Yeah. Good luck with… well. Life.”
Before Judith could respond, the Doctor was gone, leaving her alone in the ruined room.
She wasn’t sure what to feel about everything that had happened. Angry, or exhausted, or relieved. But the truth was that she didn’t feel any of those things. It had been a distraction, at least, and that was welcome.
There was nothing to do in the evenings now, except to wait.
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