The Ends of the Earth by vegetables

Summary: London, 1963. Two teachers stumble into a police box. London, 1962. The city is destroyed in nuclear fire. There were stories that happened before the first story was told. Before there was a beginning, something ends.
Rating: Teen
Categories: Thirteenth Doctor
Characters: The Doctor (13th), The Doctor (Ruth), Yasmin Khan
Genres: Action/Adventure, Alternate Universe, Angst, Drama, General, Introspection, Mixed, Romance, Standalone
Warnings: Explicit Violence, Swearing
Challenges: None
Series: None
Published: 2021.11.23
Updated: 2021.11.23

The Ends of the Earth by vegetables
Chapter 34: Chapter 34
Author's Notes:

There was a loud bang, and the sky turned calm and blue. The other Earths were gone from it, and so were the other Doctors. The Doctor looked down at the only other self who was still there, who was looking up at her now, in raw horror.

The back of the gun had blown off, and a bright flush of energy had swept over the other Doctor. Not a single shot, like it would have been from the front. Too diffuse to kill a Time Lord instantly. But deadly enough to do it, in the end.

“You knew,” said the other Doctor, very quietly.

“No I didn’t,” said the Doctor. “How could I?”

“That long speech; you were sizing me up!” her other self said. “Seeing if I expected you to shoot me.”

“Was I?” the Doctor replied.

“You saw me reverse a gunshot once and you knew I might do it again. Why else would you shoot your own chest?”

“I was trying to kill myself,” the Doctor said.

The other Doctor looked at her with an expression she knew very well, which she’d felt from the other side of her face. It was the one she made when she encountered the worst of the monsters: when she realised they were more terrible than she’d even dared to fear.

“It’s all an act,” she said. “Isn’t it? You’ve been pretending to be weak, all along. To be naive. You made me think they made you something less, when in fact… they turned you into something much, much worse.”

She took in the Doctor, the blue coat, the rainbows. All of the innocence of it, protesting too much.

“What are you?” the other Doctor whispered. “What are you really?”

“I’m the Doctor.”

The other Doctor nodded.

“Yes,” she said. “That’s exactly what I was afraid of.”

She struggled to her feet, wincing as she did.

“Do you know what you’ve done, by killing me?” she said. “Do you have any idea?

“I do,” said the Doctor. “Because I know one thing for starters: I’ve not really killed you at all. Have I?”

The other Doctor scoffed.

“Of course you have!” she said. “A blast like that is corrosive on the cellular level. Regeneration becomes impossible.”

“For me?” said the Doctor. “For a Time Lord? Perhaps. But you’re made of stronger stuff. Aren’t you? Or that’s what another you implied. He was one for a tall tale, right enough. But I reckon that he wasn’t lying.”

An oddly formed spark flew off the other Doctor’s hand, and she watched it, horrified as it rushed away.

“No,” said the Doctor. “You’re planning to fall down, pretend to die. Regenerate when no one’s looking; have a crack at the Earth again. But it’s not going to work. I’ve got you by the book.”

She took it out, that blank book she’d been given, and as she did real fear appeared on her other self’s face.

“How can you have that?” her other self said. “How could you possibly”—

“Everything I remember after your life is so strange,” said the Doctor. “It’s one big contradictory jumble; I thought that it couldn’t be real. Because it wasn’t. It didn’t have to be.”

She smiled.

“We’re all stories in the end,” she said.

“No,” said her other self, and as she did the letters flew out of her mouth as orange sparks, slamming into the blank pages the Doctor was holding open. “No,” one now read, in tiny print.

“You don’t know what trapping me like this will do,” said the Doctor’s other self. “Regenerating into fiction’s not like the change that you’ve known. I’ll only keep my outline. A vague impression of what the Doctor is. It’ll be the end of what I’ve been for these billioned years. The end of the Reign!”

“Oh well,” said the Doctor, nonchalantly. “Sometimes we’re ready for a change. I’m always for taking down tyrants. Even when they turn out to be me.”

Orange sparks were shooting out of her other self from all over her, now, fireworks as furious as her expression.

“Tell me this, at least,” that other self now said. “How many Doctors have you been, since they changed you? I imagine not even a thousand”—

“Thirteen,” said the Doctor, quietly. “Give or take.”

Her other self laughed in disbelief, a splatter of letters coming out of her mouth as she did.

“Thirteen,” she said. “Unlucky for some.”

Orange light was spilling from her joints. Letters were spitting off her skin.

“Then listen,” she said. “I know you think you’ve done right by this world. That you’re wise. But there’s so much that you don’t know about what you’ve done.”

She shook her head.

“It’s not just what they’ve taken,” she said. “It’s what you’ve yet to learn. You’re not some font of ancient wisdom, Doctor. You’re a child.”

The orange glow was coursing through her whole body, now, and the book was rising into the air.

“Whoever you think you are,” she said—

“Wait,” said the Doctor. “Hold on.”

—“You’re only a child,” her other self said with a smile.

And then the smile was a wince and the wince was an explosion of orange light, a giant fire of sparks that engulfed her entire body. And the sparks were turning into letters and the pages of the book were flapping, its paper glowing too as every page of it turned full—

—then it fell hard to the ground with a thwump, and slammed tight closed. The Doctor watched as a title appeared on the cover. There were no sugar stains left on it at all.

She looked at it silently, only for a moment.

Then the silence was broken by a man and his angry cry.

“Doctor!” shouted Maltimundar. “Doctor!”

He was running towards her with a squadron of COPS clanking behind, and somehow he’d managed not to look jolly at all.

“We wanted you to stop her!” he shouted. “We didn’t think you were going to kill her!”

“More trouble,” the Doctor muttered to herself.

She looked down at the book, and sighed.

“Story of my life,” she said.

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