One Tiny Spark

by Shivver [Reviews - 1]

  • All Ages
  • None
  • General

Amy sat with the Doctor on the threshold of his blue box, their legs dangling in space. She leaned against the jamb of the door, her entire field of vision filled by the blazing orange and yellow swirls of the surface of a star: flares of plasma frolicking and leaping, islands of cool brown languid among the heaving gases. She found it neither too bright to watch nor too hot to bask in, and her fair skin was not turning an angry red - or, as it should be in this close proximity to the surface of a sun, melting off - testament to the protective powers of the TARDIS. They had been sitting there for a good fifteen minutes now, and she was starting to fidget.

“So, Doctor. Why are we here? This isn’t how I like to work on my tan.” Kicking her feet, she glanced down at her pale legs.

"Have you ever wondered what it's like to be a star, Pond?" They were the first words the Doctor had said since they'd sat down.

Amy rocked from side to side as she settled in to listen to the Doctor. His philosophies were always fascinating. "No, can't say that I have."

"It's hot,” he declared like it was a great secret of the universe. “Ever so hot. That's all you do, for billions of years. Burn. Hot and lonely. Your closest brother is hundreds of millions of miles away, if you're lucky. Most likely, your nearest neighbour is light years away."

Amy cocked her head as she shrugged. "Well, it's not like you can talk much, if you're a star."

"Not usually, no.”

“Though imagine that conversation.” She puffed herself up to imitate an anthropomorphised star. “'Oi, George, how're those sunspots doing?' 'I always get them just before major planetary alignments. Isn't that always the case?'" She laughed, flipping her long red hair around. The Doctor's face broke into a boyish grin, but his eyes, darting back and forth across his companion’s face, betrayed that he really didn’t get the joke.

His expression snapped back to serious. "But can you imagine it? You’re powerful, so powerful, nothing like you anywhere nearby. You create all the elements within you” - twiddling his fingers in front of his chest, he splayed them forward in a flourish - “and you shape them into planets.” His hands swirled around each other, moulding spheres in the air. “Grow them, nurture them, works of magnificence. Beauties! They prosper and shine, jewels encircling you like a halo.” His eyes, bright with awe, traced their imaginary orbits around Amy’s head. “There’s nothing that can match your power of creation.”

The Doctor’s gaze fixed on a point in space little off to his right. “Then one day, these strange metal rocks come flying around, so small you barely notice them, but they're not like rocks you've ever seen before. They don't orbit. They move wherever they want.” His eyes flicked about, following zig-zag trails around him. “And you look closer" - hunching forward, he squinted like he was examining a mote in the air, his fingers trembling, aching to pick at it - "and inside, there are these tiny... you don't know what they are.” Catching Amy’s gaze, he shook his head, confused and amazed. “They're a trillionth your size, and they live for a billionth of your life. Sparks, they are. Simply sparks. Not even that. Hardly worth a thought.

"But they're like nothing you’ve seen. They aren’t frightened of you. You’re this huge, hot, violently destructive giant” - his arms puffed outward, wider and wider - “and yet they come closer. And they start taking. First, the excess light you give off. Nothing important.” He shrugged. “You’ve given that for free for as long as you can remember. Then they sample your flares and your gases.” His hands plucked bits from the air around his friend. “Soon, they’re scooping out your very heart” - he lunged at Amy’s sternum and, startled, she couldn’t help but dodge back, knocking into the jamb behind her - “taking you away bit by bit, and they don’t hear your screams. The boldest of them, they can destroy you, trigger a star in its prime to go supernova, extinguish its life in the most brazen way possible.” Fists clenched, he shook with grief.

Amy’s eyes popped open wide in disbelief. “People can do that? Explode a star?”

“Oh yes.” He bowed his head, turning away to hide from his companion. “And you’ve seen it, in the ancestral memories of one of those tiny sparks. Murder on the grandest scale.” He whirled back, staring directly into her eyes. “Can you really imagine it? Watching an ant destroy your brother - young, healthy - exploding, evaporating, reduced to glowing dust in an instant? And it’s just a tiny ant. Less than an ant. You’ve more power than even you can imagine, but you can’t stop that ant from destroying you and taking your power for itself.” He swallowed, his Adam’s apple bobbing deep.

The Doctor took a deep breath before he continued. “That’s all we do, Amy. We covet, we take, we destroy, without thinking. We’re so intent on ourselves, we don’t know who we’re hurting. We think we know everything, that the universe is ours, that we own it, but there’s so much more out there, beyond our closed little minds.”

Closing his eyes, he massaged the bridge of his nose. “I try. I really do.” His hand balled into a shaking fist before his lips. “I try to fight the greed and the hubris, I try to put that stolen power to good use, and I do the best I can, but there’s only so much I can do.” His eyes creaked open, and he gazed with conviction at the flaming orb of plasma. “But this one, this sun, is under my protection. I owe it that much. It was hurt, and I did all I could for it, showed it that at least someone understands its pain, that we are sorry, but that’s just not enough."

The Doctor turned to his companion. "That’s why we’re here, Amy. I’ve been coming back, for oh so long, checking up on it, making sure that no one will hurt it again. It’s doing okay, this old sun.” He clapped Amy on the shoulder, then set his hands on his hips, his shoulders curved but strong. “I’ll keep coming back, as long as I can. I’ll protect it for the brief moment of its life that this tiny spark has.”

Author's Note: The "ancestral memory" is a reference to the supernova triggered by Omega using his stellar manipulator during his experiments with Rassilon, which gave the Gallifreyans time travel and created the Time Lords - see "The Three Doctors", "Arc of Infinity", and "Remembrance of the Daleks". It does not refer to the supernova the Doctor siphoned energy from to communicate with Rose at Bad Wolf Bay. That supernova was a natural one he located; he did not cause it.