Sweetness and Light

by vegetables [Reviews - 0]

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  • All Ages
  • None
  • Action/Adventure, Alternate Universe, Drama, General, Humor, Mixed, Series

“Happiness will prevail,” muttered the Doctor as they made their way back to the surface. “He took the slogan of his dictatorship and made it an inspiring cry. It's probably best if we all don't think about that too much.”

“He saved us,” said Lip. “We thought he was hideous and ridiculous, but it's thanks to him we’re alive.”

“Yes!” said the Doctor. “Let's think about that, instead!” They were coming out of the artificial corridor now, down which Angles had carried Chris not so long ago. As they came out to the surface, the Doctor frowned to herself. Jutting out from the burned sugar wreckage was a small blue thing, that looked as if it had been badly constructed from bits of blue Meccano. The Doctor wasn't sure what it was made out of — although it clearly wasn't sugar — or what its function might have been, beeping away as bits of it strained towards the sky. Silently, she bent down and snapped it from the ground, secreting it away to somewhere about her person.

“I’m done with my spoon,” she said to her child companions. “It's told me what I already thought. Space and time are wrong, and I don't know why; everything seems to be somewhere it shouldn't be. It sent the Void mad, at any rate. Sounds like it might’ve done the same to the people up here. But I know the shape of the wrongness now, I suppose.” She smiled at Chris. “I should be able to get you home.”

The Doctor turned to the blackness above her, which still somehow illuminated the shattered world. Everything on the surface of Ipsico 9 was a ruin, but she looked sadder than she had since getting there now she looked right up at the sky.

“And there's something else I saw,” she said after a while. “The spoon works out what's wrong with time and space, but to do that I need to know the things that are in it. Events. Can't smooth out a tablecloth if you don't know the things that are on it. And far as I can tell there's a very big event, that's in the bit of spacetime this city’ll be in soon—”

“Another planet,” said Chris, not looking Lip in the face. “Smashing into here. Not today, maybe not for years. But soon. Angles told me. The adults knew.”

Lip said a lot of words Chris’s grandmother would have disapproved of.

“Just like them!” he said. “Just like them to only let us run things when they knew it didn't really matter! I should have known! We all should have.”

“They were trying to protect you, I think,” said the Doctor . “In a way that went horribly wrong, like protecting people with lies can do. No hope, no escape. They thought the pretending would be better than the truth, however hard everything got. But when they discovered that there might be some way out– well, some of them risked everything for you. All this—” she waved her hands to indicate everywhere they'd been; the ruins, Lip’s town, and the caves “—they did it because they cared. Maybe they made mistakes because of it. But I think the caring is something, in itself.”

“Perhaps,” said Lip so the Doctor would stop talking. “But the village, everyone that's still alive. We’ll have to leave, but is that actually safe?”

The Doctor hesitated. “That thing that ate everyone is gone now. Go into the portal; you’ll come out the other side. But as to what you’ll find there?” She shook her head. “Portal like that needs oxygen, latches to a biosphere. So you’ll have things to eat, and you’ll have air to breathe. But whether there are people there, and whether they’ll mind more people popping out of a hole made out of time– that's not something I know. And the portal’s one way; there's no going back.”

“They could come in the TARDIS,” said Chris. “Back with us to Manchester. It's a bit rubbish, but it's not that bad.”

The Doctor looked truly sad. “The future’s still all snarled up,” she said. “We’ve come from the past, so there's no issue there, but take people from here back in time and they might bounce off it completely. That's definitely worse, than whatever’s on both sides of that portal.”

She sighed more deeply than before.

“A child shouldn't have to make this decision,” she said to Lip. “An adult shouldn't! Hell, no age would be old enough, even if you're ancient as me. But the universe we live in, well. Sometimes children have to make terrible choices. And I’m afraid today you're one of them, Lip. I’m sorry.”

Lip smiled through his tears. “Happiness will prevail,” he said, weakly.

“I certainly hope so,” said the Doctor.

“You’ve given my people a choice, however horrible it is,” said Lip at last. “And you found out what happened to my friends, though that was horrible too. Is there anything we can give you, Doctor? And you, Chris. We don't exactly have much, but we owe you such a lot—”

“We don't do what we do to get rich!” said the Doctor. “You don't need to give us anything at all. Adventure’s not about payment, but about—”

“Carpets,” said Chris.

“Well, I suppose sometimes it's about those,” said the Doctor, “but that wasn't really where I was going with—”

“No,” said Chris. “We’d like some carpets, as payment for what we've done. Three should be enough, if they're big.”

“Well, we can certainly give you carpets!” laughed Lip. “In fact, we salvaged some from the Presidential Palace, made from the finest sugar lace—”

“No,” said Chris. “We won't be wanting those. Normal carpets will do just fine.”

“I see now that eccentricity’s not so fun when you aren't the one who's doing it,” muttered the Doctor under her breath.