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not a hero. (just a doctor.)

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"It came because it couldn't stand to watch your children cry.
What if you were really old and really kind and alone - your whole race dead, no future...
What could you do then?"

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He is, in every sense of the word, old.

By human standards, he was already old when he first arrived on Earth, countless years ago, now. When he first set his eyes upon an infant race, full of children, beautiful children, laughing.

By human standards, he's ancient, now. Really. Should know better than to go dashing off, cleaning up after the human race, their own personal protector.

But he has never been able to stand by and watch them cry.

All the children, all the potential. He let a planet burn, once, and it turned him into who he is today. Very old, and very alone, and he swore on the lives of those so much more important than him that he would protect them. Because after hearing all those children burn a thousand years ago, he has never been able to live with himself.

Because after that day, he has never been able to just stand there and watch children cry.

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"Have you ever run away from something because you were scared,
or not ready, or just because you could?"

"Once. A long time ago."

"What happened?"

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"The Doctor.
The man who keeps running,
never looking back because he dare not,
out of shame."

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The blond woman whose eyes burned him watched, fascinated. The button awaits. An worn old hands hovers, contemplating.

She shows him.

She shows him who he becomes, once he runs away. He never stops running, not really. He runs right into a pink and yellow girl who he loves so much, he never stops loving her, never. He runs right into a shop that sells very human wedding rings and makes a few adjustments, fitting it with a biodamper, because he only gives the best to the girl he loves.

And then she's gone.

Just like that, in a matter of seconds, ripped away from him, and he runs again. He runs away from his pain, smack into another clever girl who walked the earth to save it, and he lets her leave, and he keeps running. He never stops running. He runs and runs until his lungs burn, until a redhead comes along to make life better, to be his friend, the best friend he had ever had, until he runs away from her, too, and takes her memories in the process.

He is shown a little girl who is also ripped away from him, a woman who favors guns and looks at him like he's the world, a Roman and a girl who was born to save him, but he runs away from that, too. And there are so much more, and all along he's running, because he's scared. Because he doesn't dare look back.

He doesn't dare look back out of shame. He saves so many people, but he cannot save the ones he loves the most.

The blond woman is looking at him again. He recognizes her, now. A ring rests on her hand, a remnant of things that could have been.

And the world he called home burns.

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"No second chances.
That's the type of man I am."

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A woman. Short red hair, wrinkled face, confident expression.

Maybe that's what does him in.

He's new, this form, and so angry at the world. So full of regret. It burns him. The confident look of hers does him in, the button in her hand sparking memories and filling him with anger. It's a big red button, too. How fitting.

She doesn't know what she's done, but she must pay the consequence nonetheless.

"I could bring you down with one word," He says, and the new new new new new new new new new new man he's become ignites.

"You're the most remarkable man I've ever met," She responds, ever-so-cool, the confident expression unwavering. But her tone is clipped. "I don't think you're quite capable of that."

The pink and yellow human who stands by him squeezes his hand, but nothing can stop him now. He's angry, and she knows it, but this older woman who stands before them does not, and that is not a good thing. "No, you're right, not a single word. Just six."

"I don't think so."

A crack in her voice.

He steps forward.

"Six words."

The make up cannot hide her worry.

Her mask of confidence breaks.

"Stop it!" She cries, but it is too late.

He leans forward, and he brings her down.

He says, "Don't you think she looks tired?" And her assistant, very slowly, nods.

No second chances.

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"Do you know like we were sayin'? About the Earth revolvin'?
It's like when you're a kid. The first time they tell you the Earth's turnin'
and you just can't quite believe it because everything looks like it's standin' still.
I can feel it. The turn of the Earth.
The ground beneath our feet is spinnin' at 1,000 miles an hour
and the entire planet is hurtlin' around the sun at 67,000 miles an hour, and I can feel it.
We're fallin' through space, you and me,
clinging to the skin of this tiny little world, and if we let go...
That's who I am."

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"It is said he will talk to a wanderer, to a man without a home. A lonely god."

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Another loss.

It stares him in the face, sickeningly sober, the wisest thing to ever live (later he'll find out that this wasn't always the case).

The earth beneath him is hurtling, this new earth with whiskered nuns. His oldest friend lies, eyes closed.

He stands, because regardless of what he has been told, he is alone.

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"Nobody talk to me; nobody human has anything to say to me, today!"

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The metal paradoxes have harmed his ship, those terrible nightmares that made him scream. They made themselves pretty.

They made him sick.

The human race, the race he let down in the end, the race he sent off into the stars, the race that made its way to Utopia only to burn. Only to wither, only to die.

Hardly human.

All his fault.

The one family who can remember everything leaves, and he doesn't blame them. He blames himself. The man who cannot die tells him it isn't his fault, after tearing him away from the body of his childhood friend.

But he doesn't believe it.

Because maybe he didn't make the human race, but he molded it, he shaped it, he sent it away, off to see the stars. Off to make themselves pretty, to stuff their brain into a metal ball with guns and knives, and sent them back to kill their own ancestors. He molded the human race, and nobody human has anything to say to him. Nobody human has any evidence to the contrary.

The man who keeps running runs some more.

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"YOU! ARE! MY! ENEMY! And I am yours!
You are everything I despise. The worst thing in all of creation.
Time and time again, I've defeated you.
I sent you back into the Void, I saved the whole of reality from you.
I AM THE DOCTOR, AND YOU ARE THE DALEKS."

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"...Correct."

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His enemies have always had a knack for hurting him.

Incapable of killing him, from the very beginning. Their fatal flaw. They hate him, and because of that, they cannot kill him.

It's the punchline to a bad joke.

They take everything dear to him. They take his friends. His best friends, and rip them away. They take the woman he loves and stuffs her in an alternate universe, and he can't do anything about it. They kill the girl who made him fight when he didn't want to, and he's forced to watch. They watch him break, and they continue chasing, out of hate, knowing that even if he wanted them to kill him, they could not. The Oncoming Storm, the Bringer of Darkness. Unable to die, as legends never do.

And it hurts.

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"Everything has its time and everything dies."

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"I don't age; I regenerate. But humans decay.
You wither, and you die.
Imagine watching that happen to some you-"

"What, Doctor?"

"You can spend the rest of your life with me,
but I can't spend mine with you.
I have to live on. Alone.
That's the curse of the Time Lords."

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Everyone leaves him, and he pretends it doesn't hurt.

The granddaughter who grew up, who he never went back to see because he loves her too much and she's gone, she's just... gone.

Sarah Jane Smith and her tin dog, and Jamie, and Zoe, and Ace, and everyone who ever ran with him, gone, in the blink of an eye. And he's still there. And he's still running.

When will he stop?

The pain that cuts through his hearts unnerves him. A pink hand ripped from his grasp. A red leather jacket goes back to her family, earns her doctorate. The most important woman forgets him, her granddad tries his best to protect him. He fails.

There is a tall woman, with short skirts, and a man who lived two thousand years, snatched away before he could blink. A curly haired woman who he locks away, and big eyes closed forever.

Oh, but there is so much guilt.

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"There's a difference between patient and dormant."

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The Weeping Angels are so different from him.

So patient and still, while he is always on the move, demanding that he get what he want now, lest there be consequences.

But then they take the girl who waited for him, and he starts to think.

The Lonely Assassins, so arrogant because they watched him grow up, so confident because they know his name, because they know everything about him. He waits, ever so patient, letting them think he's given up. His revenge will be sweet, and the girl who waited for him will be okay. He swears upon it.

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"Didn't anyone ever tell you?
There's one thing you never put in a trap.
If you're smart, if you value your continued existence,
if you have plans about seeing tomorrow, there's one thing you never, ever,
put in a trap."

"And what would that be, sir?"

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His patience has run out.

He pounces.

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"Me."

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Those same beings take her away from him years later, and he comes to hate them almost as much as the metal machines named daleks.

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"Is it monsters coming? Have you met monsters before?"

"Yeah."

"You scared of 'em?"

"No, they're scared of me!"

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"What do monsters have nightmares about?"

"Me! Ha!"

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He looks into the head of a machine that ticks and tocks, a monster, most beautiful. He wants to take it back, to dissect it, to study it.

The little girl on the bed trembles.

Instead, he defeats it, watching the girl grow up, kiss him. He experiences this in a matter of hours, and it does something to him. Protecting such an iconic figure, Madame de Pompadour, and chasing away her nightmares.

He vows to come back for her, to take her away. He might not love this woman, but she loves him, and he will deal with the consequences of the paradox later.

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"One may tolerate a world of demons for the sake of an angel."

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She calls him an angel.

(She dies waiting for him.)

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"You threw the manual in a supernova? Why?"

"BECAUSE I DISAGREED WITH IT! Now stop talking to me when I'm cross!"

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Susan has been pestering him to take her to the Carnival of Colors on the planet Cantavera in the Bonitera Constellation. The sky there burns a billion colors, precisely once a year. The Carnival begins two days before. It also serves a sort-of mating grounds; the woman dress up in a thousand colors, do their hair pretty, and the men also dress up.

They walk barefoot upon purple grass and give each other homemade crowns of color, and supposedly, if the couple pleases the spirits, the crowns glow, and the couple is blessed.

It's all a bunch of domestic mumbo-jumbo.

Susan loves domestic mumbo-jumbo.

He drops her off, and she stumbles back in two hours later, dressed in a dark pink skirt with a loose pale pink top, her arms circled in different shades of blue and green. On her hair is a crown.

It is glowing.

He smiles at her, trying not to feel bitter. On his tongue are words of how much he loves her, and how he wishes her well in this new adventure on which she'll embark, but Susan speaks first.

The man. The man who's crown now sits upon her head died in her arms not ten minutes ago.

The Doctor doesn't say he's sorry. He doesn't say he understands. Instead, he takes her to her room and runs a bath for her. Bubbles float to the surface. He leaves her to her grieving, and wanders aimlessly about the TARDIS.

It isn't fair.

She shouldn't be hurt.

He makes his way back to the console room, and picks up the manual to read more on how to quietly take off. He doesn't want to disturb Susan.

But to quietly take off, he finds that the brakes must be released, and that would mean no noise. No sound of hope.

He's outraged.

He throws the manual away.

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"Fear me; I have killed hundreds of Time Lords."

"Fear ME; I've killed all of them."

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His memories are burning him.

Eyebrows as thick as River Song's hair knot themselves together as he works, and the memories burn him.

Everyday passes and he tries to forget.

Tick, tock.

Another memory disappears.

Tick, tock.

It all comes back to haunt him.

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"Before this war began, I was a father and a grandfather. Now, I'm neither. But I'm still a doctor."

"Yeah. I know the feeling."

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He counts them.

Just like she promised.

One terrible night.

Helena, his mother, is gone.

(One, two, three, four...)

Quentin, his father, is dead.

(Three hundred and fifty one, three hundred and fifty two...)

His wife has long since been burned, but now her ashes are gone, disappeared into the horizon of a burnt-up planet. His children, the three of them: Juliet, Breccan, and Galatea. The eldest (Juliet) became Senator. Breccan, an accomplished musician. And Galatea travelled to earth. He never did know what happened to his daughter. She was on her last regeneration when he lost track of her.

(Five thousand two hundred, five thousand three hundred...)

And Susan. His Susan.

(Two billion forty seven hundred...)

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"The anger of a good man is not a problem. Good men have too many rules."

"Good men don't need rules. Today is not the day to find out why I have so many."

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He looks at Madame Kovarian, and he wants to watch her suffer.

Her eyes stare into his. He leans forward, and he sneers.

Far away, something breaks.

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"He never raised his voice.
That was the worst thing - the fury of the Time Lord.
And then we discovered why
- why this Doctor, who had fought with gods and demons,
why he had run away from us and hidden.
He was being kind."

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He tries, very hard, to be merciful.

He tries very hard to never be cruel. But there are days, there are some days, when he cannot turn his back.

There are days when he cannot be kind.

His enemies want to live forever, to kill him slowly, to watch him suffer. They plan horrible things, and sometimes, they come close to succeeding. His hand is forced. He has to stop them. He cannot be kind.

His fury burns, his voice is quiet, measured. He plans horrible traps for them, prisons so treacherous that the universe would evoke his title, would they find out. He puts them in a jail designed specifically for them, for each enemy, and every year, he comes to check on them.

He watches them suffer.

He stuffs some in a star, others into a hole in the ground, wrapped in unbreakable chains. Yet others, he forces into the corner of the eye. And he regrets nothing.

It makes him sick.

On those days, the burden on his shoulders weighs him down. He doesn't feel like a doctor; he feels like a murderer; a killer of the worst kind.

On those days, nobody but him lives, and he's not even sure he's alive.

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" '...An ancient creature, drenched in the blood of the innocent...
drifting in space through an endless, shifting maze...
for such a creature, death would be a gift... '

Then accept it, and sleep well.

'... I wasn't talking about myself.' "

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He is, in every sense of the word, old.

And he is, in every sense of the word, tired.

His legs burn from all the running, but he can't stop. He can't stop because stopping means standing still and standing still means thinking and thinking means remembering, and there is too much shame. So much shame.

He wants to die.

The blood on his hands never seems to wash off, the red on his ledger blown wide. His hands are shaking, but nothing's happening.

An ancient creature, dressed as a hero, he's been told. Drifting, suffering, saving. Surviving. For such a creature, death would be a gift.

But he is not hero, and survival is his punishment.

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"Everybody lives, Rose!
Just this once, everybody lives!"

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It's one of those obscure adventures where he's all alone, wishing he were dead. He wandered into danger, completely unaware that this would be one of those times.

The times that reminded him of why he travelled in the first place, why he set of with Susan all those years ago.

He's on some planet -can't remember the name- in the distant future. Some children had been running around, playing tag, when, one by one, as they were all tagged, they disappeared. The child that tagged them? Unharmed. The child's parents disappeared, and the Doctor was beginning to give up when he got hold of renewing information.

The child had been born blind.

About six months before, she'd had an eye transplant. Very complicated, performed by an organization that he later found out was mixed up with things that a corporation really shouldn't be mixed up with.

He takes the child and gives her new eyes, and he finds all the people locked in the basement level of the building he broke into, some with their eyes gouged out, but they'll live. They'll live.

He stumbles back to the TARDIS, grinning madly, because just this once, everybody lives. Just for today, he's allowed to feel happy. He's allowed to be the madman he is, seeing the stars, crossing galaxies, one adventure after the next.

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"If you were that old and that kind, and the very last of your kind...
You couldn't just stand there and watch children cry."

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So, yeah, maybe he's not a hero.

But today -at least for today- he's sure as hell a doctor.