“Oh, Doctor,” the Toymaker tutted, “Do you really think it’s that simple?”
Zellin and Rakaya were quite fortunate, in this instance. It was not everyday that they had much more company than each other, let alone others like them. There wasn’t exactly a way to articulate just what they were in terms understandable to this universe, but one could get a vague understanding if they imagined all of them as children in a backyard. The place where they were from, their native universe, was the house behind them that they didn’t pay any mind. They didn’t pay any mind, because they had fun playing in their backyard. They could do whatever their imaginations came up with, be it with each other, by themselves, or with the funny little ants that they can discover in all sorts of places. The ants, in this case, would be something like you and me. Now, imagine some more with me, that these children are playing in different corners of the backyard by themselves. At some point, each of the children found another one of them. Someone they didn’t know came out to play with them. Someone who left the house ages ago, to the point where they forgot about them. Someone who looked slightly different to everyone they appeared to, until you looked into their eyes. The Eternals were easy enough to encounter, it’s hard to find a corner of the universe that hasn’t heard of their silly races. The Black and White Guardian’s encounter, however, earned a raised eyebrow from Zellin. However, what made him and Rakaya sure that this was no coincidence, was what the Toymaker had to say. “Oh, the two of us have a very personal history. He was one of the few who could ever best me. Playing with him never fails to be invigorating.” It seems they were all in agreement. With a snap of the Toymaker’s fingers, a wheezing sound started to grow louder. “It’s about time we asked them ourselves,” Rakaya said, “Who is this Doctor?”
There are many situations where navigating a TARDIS requires a lot of precise inputs, giving the Doctor a chance to be very cool and flashy. This wasn’t one of them, as he didn’t have a particular destination in mind. Think of it like driving a car down a long, straight highway, not having any particular exit that you need to get off at. His blue coat was hung off to the side; being alone, he didn’t really feel the need to be all dressed up as usual. It was bugging him a little bit. Right as he wished he had someone to talk with, one of the switches seemed to move by itself. That one shouldn’t be able to move on its own, should it? He went to inspect it right as the TARDIS jolted, nearly banging his head against the center console. He could tell what was happening and Boy did he not like it: the TARDIS was being pulled somewhere. “If those bureaucratic, overdressed chronal imperialists think they can pluck me up whenever they feel like, then they have another thing coming!” He made a mad dash, trying any and every failsafe he could think of, attempting to pilot the old girl in ways that would make even his other incarnations shudder. He soon realized it was no use, and pulled up the scanner to at least try and see where he was going. He wasn’t quite sure, but he could feel one thing in his gut; this wasn’t the work of the Time Lords.
Putting his coat on as he walked outside, the first thing to catch the Doctor’s attention was that the air had no discernable smell at all. The Doctor’s senses were well tuned enough that he was able to have a rough estimate of where and when he was at any given time simply by the smell of his surroundings, but he was at a bit of a disadvantage here. Not that that matters much. The first to speak was the Toymaker. “Welcome, Doctor. It has been some time.” The Doctor turned to regard the audience that was gathered before him. He’d be lying if he said this didn’t excite him a little bit, but such is the life of a performer. “Well, it seems I’ve been expected! Ah, thank you for the warm reception, Toymaker. I see you’ve been kind enough to stop wearing Rallon’s face. Might these be some of the other Toymakers I’ve heard about?”
“Some of them are with us, yes.”
“I see! Do send my warmest regards to your sister. And what of the rest of you? Do you all have anything to say for yourselves?”
The White Guardian spoke up, “You must be curious as to why you’re here.” This threw the Doctor for a loop. If one of the Guardians were there, this was more than just one of the Toymaker’s games. “Well, I’m sure you’ll tell me in time. I don’t suppose you all want to put me on trial as well?” This made the Black Guardian laugh. “No. If we wanted you gone, I would’ve done away with you by now.”
“Oh? Did you find another redhead to try and throw a rock at me?” the Doctor mocked.
“We simply wanted to talk with you,” came an unfamiliar voice. The Doctor tried to focus on this one’s face, but it was obscured from his vision. “Well? What did you want to talk to me about?”
“You’ve met each and every person sitting here, be it in your past, or in your future, and somehow you’ve been able to best all of us. What we don’t know is why.”
“I would’ve thought that was obvious,” he retorted, “All of you thought that your ability to live forever somehow made you invincible. So, naturally, you underestimated me when you shouldn’t have.” He looked quite proud of himself after saying that.
“Oh, Doctor,” the Toymaker tutted, “Do you really think it’s that simple?”
“I think so, yes.”
“Let me ask you this,” came another unfamiliar voice, softer than the other one, “what body are you on?”
“Should be my 6th, at this point.”
He doesn’t quite know what happened next. Most likely, a vision of some kind. Perhaps a memory? All he can see is a child, lying on the ground, some kind of portal in the sky. He didn’t share this with anyone else. “What are you trying to say?”
The Toymaker spoke again. “Doctor. No, Brother. We think you could be one of us.”
“No!” His voice boomed loudly enough that it rang in the ears of everyone who heard it. “I am not one of you! Do not Ever think that we are the same!” This was met with a great deal of shock. The White Guardian inquired, “What is it that makes you so against being one of us, Doctor?” Fuming, he got as close as he could to their faces. “Let me ask you this, all of you. When was the last time you’ve helped someone, hm? Can you remember any point where you put all of your pointless games aside and simply did something nice for another living being? I will be the first to admit that I should not speak on behalf of my entire people, but when did I ever? I am a Time Lord, do you all hear me? I have seen first hand that immortality is the last thing one should strive for. Shockingly, I accept that I will not live forever, and I would like to use the time I do have to put some good into this universe, regardless of whatever you,” he pointed at the Black Guardian, “or you,” he pointed at the Toymaker, “or any of the rest of you, do to stop me. Good day.” And with that, he swung around and walked back into his TARDIS, already having decided to make a stop at Kent. “Let’s visit that house I bought a few regenerations ago.”
For a while, the room was silent. They didn’t think the Doctor would necessarily love the idea of being one of them, but nobody could have predicted that outburst. “Do you think they’ll ever come around?” one of the Eternals asked. “Oh, I don’t think we need worry,” replied the Toymaker. “If there’s anything I’ve learned of the Doctor, it’s that they will run as far as they can. But they can’t run forever.”
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