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A Good Man?

by DrT 4 reviews

The Twelfth Doctor asked Clara a question, and wasn’t quite satisfied with the answer. Perhaps the TARDIS can help him understand. Twelfth Doctor, plus Third and Seventh

Category: Doctor Who - Rating: PG - Genres: Drama - Warnings: [!!] - Published: 2015-02-04 - Updated: 2015-02-06 - 3141 words - Complete

A Good Man?

The Twelfth Doctor asked Clara a question, and wasn’t quite satisfied with the answer. Perhaps the TARDIS can help him understand.

Dr. Who is owned by the BBC


The Doctor sat on the hard chair in one of the meditation rooms of his TARDIS, contemplating.

He had much to contemplate.

He knew there were at least two ways to look at his long life. In terms of the number of regenerations, he was now starting one beyond the total Time Lords could expect.

That had been a surprise, to say the least.

On the other hand, in total years lived, well, that was a bit confusing. No Time Lord had ever spent anything like the amount of time he had in a TARDIS, and any body’s aging process slowed while in one. Biologically, he figured he had aged between sixteen hundred and seventeen hundred years since he had taken the TARDIS and left Gallifrey. In terms of time experienced? Despite all his early training, he couldn’t guess at how long. Still, over a Time Lord’s thirteen lifetimes, he might age some four thousand to four thousand two hundred years on average, give or take a few hundred. He was, in that sense at least, about half way through a typical lifetime.

Not that his life was in any way typical, he could easily admit. He had really only lived one somewhat ‘typical’ life, his first. He had been retired from exploring, waiting for his first body to wear out and regenerate. Some very powerful figures were backing him for various futures, which his second self would have to decide between. Disliking all those possibilities, he had instead taken his granddaughter and escaped.

That first regeneration had had less than two decades of life before being captured and terminated by the Time Lords. The second regeneration had last lasted a bit longer, the third a little longer still. Still they, like the next, shorter-lived one, had all died too soon, if all three in adventures in part of their own choosing. In fact, his first through seventh regenerations had aged, in total, barely equal to the average life span a regenerated Time Lord might expect to live through for any one of those regenerations. The next four hadn’t lasted any longer, far less in fact.

Twelve regenerations; thirteen deaths. While the companions he had had when the change occurred usually concentrated on the change itself, they tended to forget that he, in effect, died. While the knowledge imprinted on his mind during training remained as it had been, and the memories of knowledge learned by experience remained largely intact, his personal memories partially faded, many becoming only as real as those humans had of books they had read, making room for the new personality. Oh, in some ways a Time Lord’s underlying character usually remained unchanged, but the personality was usually unique to each regeneration.

Mentally, the Doctor made a list.

First: died of exhaustion, largely due to age;
Second: ended by the Time Lords;
Third: misadventure (his own fault, really);
Fourth: misadventure, plus the Master;
Fifth: misadventure;
Sixth: he was still not sure what had caused the accident in the TARDIS that triggered this, but it was likely caused by the Rani;
Seventh: murdered (not really his fault, although it was partially the Master’s)
Eighth: in many ways, suicide (as he doubted the Sisters of Karn had told him the full truth), when forced to finally join in the Time War;
Ninth: premature aging, from the effects of the Time War;
Tenth: misadventure (damn Daleks!);
Eleventh: misadventure (at least he had stayed the same after this regeneration, which didn’t often happen but wasn’t that rare);
Twelfth: while Wilf had been the immediate cause, it was really the Master and the Time Lords again;
Thirteenth: again caught in a Time Lord-caused situation.

So, while each of his deaths had been in some ways caused by his own actions (his original self wouldn’t have been so exhausted if he had stayed on Gallifrey), on the whole, he decided (not for the first time), that it was really the Time Lords to blame for most of his deaths. The Time Lord leaders as a group had executed his first regeneration; their bickering and indecision had both led to the Time War and to how poorly it had often been fought and which led to the ending of his eighth and ninth selves; their interference had apparently created the Master (who had been involved with the deaths of his fourth and seventh as well as his twelfth self) and their attempt to destroy time which led to the death of that twelfth self; and their demands had led to the centuries of confrontation on Trenzalore. If the incident with the Rani was added, Time Lords (or at least one Time Lord or Lady) had been involved with eight of those thirteen deaths. The Daleks had only caused four, even if they had been involved in two others.

Did he really want to find Gallifrey? A Gallifrey perhaps still dominated by the crazed ambition of Rassilon and his crowd?

He snorted. ‘Am I a good man?’ he had asked Clara. In a universe this insane, where enemies kept on returning after apparent annihilation, what did that even mean?

“Oh, I say! This is too much! It’s bad enough you kill a version of me, exile me here, and cripple both my mind and my TARDIS, but to invade my privacy as well! Really!”

The Doctor looked up in surprise, recognizing the man in the velvet smoking jacket. “What are you doing here?”

“ME! This is my TARDIS!”

“Well, it was your TARDIS; currently it’s my TARDIS.” Remembering the time the TARDIS had been personified, he added, “Of course, from the TARDIS’ perspective, I’m her current companion, while you are a past one.”

“What the devil are you talking about?”

“Look more closely. I am not a random Time Lord.”

The Third Doctor huffed, but did as he was asked. After a moment, he reared back in shock. “My word!”

“You could say so,” the Doctor agreed.


“I’d best not say, even though you won’t remember this.”

“I won’t? It sounds like you’ve had experience.”

The Doctor nodded. “Too many.”

The Third Doctor reached up and scratched the back of his mane of hair. “Any ideas on what caused this?”

“Nothing external that I know of, and the Cloister Bell’s not ringing.”

The Third Doctor’s eyes went wide. “You’ve heard it?”

The Doctor merely nodded.

“Can you at least tell me if I’m stuck in this time period for this entire regeneration, or beyond?” Seeing the look he got, he continued. “I may not consciously remember it, but knowing may help my sub-conscious deal with it.”

“True. Is Liz Shaw still with you?”

The Third Doctor shook his head. “No, and the Brigadier just gave me one of his problems. Nice enough girl; well, more like an enthusiastic puppy.”

“Ah, Jo,” the Doctor said with a very small smile. “When?”

“A little more than a week ago. I take it you have fond memories of her?”

“She’ll grow on you, and stimulate you. And while of only average human intelligence, she has a great heart. But to answer your question, no, you won’t stay an exile during even most of this regeneration.”

“Well, that’s something.”

The Doctor hesitated, but when on. “Since I’ve eased your mind a bit, let me ask you something then, Doctor.”

The Third Doctor was interested in what this later version might ask him. “What’s that?”

“Are you a good man?”

The Third Doctor blinked. “Now, that is a question, isn’t it? I try to be, and I try to help where I can.”

“You enjoy working for UNIT, don’t you? Go on, you can admit it to me.”

“Well, I do wish it weren’t a full-time job, but I must confess, there are some aspects of being in one place, as opposed to being stuck, that would be appealing.” He looked at his later incarnation and asked, “But why ask that question? What have you, or we, done?”

“We’ve had to do so much,” the Doctor agreed. “So much pain; the fact that the pain we’ve caused has prevented even greater pain . . . well, that doesn’t help much. A bit of course, but not a lot.” He cocked his head slightly. “Do you know we’ve been called ‘the on-coming storm’? That’s not because we necessarily cause trouble, but we show up when there is trouble coming.”

“Sort of the ill-omen of time and space, hey?”

“Yes, and the things we’ve had to do. . . . Sometimes, we’ve, well, I’ve done them without a second thought or a later regret.”


“No, but even once may be too many.”

The Third Doctor thought a moment. “You were surprised to see me, so this wasn’t your idea. I doubt it would be the Time Lords, either. I wonder why the TARDIS picked me to talk to you.”

“Well, sometimes we have a personality that likes to charge in and sometimes we tend to hang back and think through a bit. . . .”

That made the younger Doctor smile. “And I was the first of us to charge in, is that it?”

“That could be it,” the Doctor agreed.

“Well, I do think that’s better than being swept away by events.” The Third Doctor looked his successor in the eye. “I would say you’re right to be concerned. Still, don’t mistake ‘nice’ for being ‘good.’ Be paternalistic, egotistical, and even arrogant. I’ve been called all that and more since I’ve been here. But if we think we’re among the best, then we prove that by helping those who need help. Any fool with a bit of strength or power can try and rule. The good try and help those who can’t. The . . . questionable things you’ve felt you had to do. Do they fit into that? Where you doing what you could to at least try and help?”

“They do; they were,” the Doctor agreed.

“I go around, or I suppose for the moment I should say I went around, the continuum, poking my nose into things, in part, I have to say, for the fun and curiosity of it. But I stayed to help because I can; not to feed my ego but because if I don’t, is there someone else who will? Not usually. Is that the best definition of a good man? No. Of course not. However, I do think it is one definition.”

“Far be it for me to disagree with my distinguished predecessor,” a new voice stated firmly with a lesser hint of Scots than the Twelfth Doctor. The man who entered the room was not as elaborately dressed as the other two (but really few were), but still well dressed compared to other versions.

“We Doctors often have the reputations of being conniving, sneaky, manipulators,” the Doctor told his third self. “If you’re the most elegantly flamboyant and action-oriented of us to date, meet the spider in his web.”

“Thank you very much,” the Seventh Doctor stated, wishing he had a hat to doff to his younger and elder selves. “The universe is a dark and dangerous place. Someone has to fight back the Darkness.”

“Fighting again,” the Doctor said with a sigh, sitting back in the chair.

“Would you prefer medical metaphors?” the Seventh Doctor asked. “Unless I’ve greatly changed by the time I become you, I’d prefer inoculations or other treatments to amputations, but if the situation calls for an amputation, is there really a choice? It should never be the first choice, but sometimes it is the least worst choice. Some of us wring our hands too long, others of us might act too fast, but we are all trying. Are we good men? No, Doctor, we are not, unless you divide people into just good and bad. Then, yes, we are, but that definition means very little. We shouldn’t just want to be good, we should want to DO good, to do the best we can in the situations we find ourselves.” He smiled slightly. “Is the surgeon who cuts into his patient to try and mend a greater wound or to remove a tumor being a good man? No; but he is doing a good thing. He is being a doctor.”

That remark hit home for the other two. The Third Doctor nodded. “Someday, hopefully soon, I’ll be free to travel again. Hopefully most of the places I visit will just be interesting, but I hope I never see an injustice I don’t want to at least help correct.”

“Most places are just that,” the Doctor agreed, “but those won’t be most of the ones you usually remember best. And certainly not the places that remember you. That can be an ever-growing burden.”

The Third Doctor nodded but asked, “Have we helped you at all, old man?” He smiled, “I suppose I should say ‘young man.’”

“Actually, I think you have,” the Doctor admitted.

“I know remembering this has helped me,” the Seventh Doctor admitted. Seeing the look the later Doctor was giving him, he simply said, “Ace just met her mother.” This of course made no sense to the Third Doctor, but the current one knew both how much he had had to manipulate Ace, and how much it had really helped her, and those around them, even if it had also hurt them.

“Well,” the Third Doctor stated with a false huff, “if all you’re going to do now is talk over my head, I had best get going. If my exile won’t last for too many more years. . . .”

“I didn’t say. . . .” the current Doctor tried to interrupt.

“I know me well enough,” the Third Doctor said gently. He gazed at the other two for a moment, and then grinned. “At least I dress better in the future than the last one did.”

“While rather individual, only one dressed totally strangely that I know of,” the Seventh Doctor said.

“Some later ones prefer comfort over style, but on the whole we don’t do a bad job in that department.”

“Well, I might not be seeing me, but you’ll be seeing you,” the Third Doctor said. He left the room.

“It was good seeing him again,” the Doctor said. “All action and decision, and real compassion under that crusty exterior.”

“True, for better or worse, we were. We were also more innocent, as I suppose I am to your eyes. The spider?” the Seventh asked.

“You were called worse,” the Twelfth pointed out.

“True, I suppose.” He shook his head. “I suppose the first regeneration is known as the comedian, rather than myself.”

“True, but you’re still the best juggler, and spoons player.”

The Seventh Doctor smiled wryly. “Now who could want a better reputation than that?”

“Everyone should say, ‘aye, I knew a Time Lord once. Best juggler in the universe’.”

“There are worse legacies we could have.” The Seventh Doctor smiled more fully. “In any event, he feels better, even if he can’t remember why now,” he said, gesturing to where the Third Doctor had left. “I believe I do as well. Still, it never gets easier, does it?”

The Doctor merely shook his head.

The Seventh asked, a little grimly, “Does it get worse?”

“For a time.”

“Ah. Well, as I said, I feel better. Do you? Do you really want to be a ‘good man’? One that every likes and admires and point to, or do you want to be the person who helps. They aren’t necessarily exclusive, but they don’t necessarily go together, either.”

The Twelfth Doctor sighed. “You’re right.”

“Well, if I am something of a spider, I have to be well aware of all the strands of the web around me,” Seven pointed out.

“True, and we’ve all done the same to some degree.”

The Seventh Doctor nodded, and then asked, “I think you were given the same answer we gave you, and didn’t like it.”

The Doctor nodded.

“So, you didn’t like the answer. Was it just because you doubted you were a good man . . . or because it was someone whose opinion mattered. Or a companion you were a bit too fond of?”

“All three,” the Doctor admitted.

“What had upset you? Something you had done, or something your immediate predecessor had done?”


The Seventh Doctor smiled. “Remember what we were taught early on about regeneration.”

“We either dislike the immediate predecessor too much, or admire him too much?” The Doctor sighed. “Too often true. I think it’s not that I like or dislike him too much, it’s that I envy him. He had so much, and gained so much. And it’s not that he didn’t appreciate it; he did. What I have is a pale reflection of that so far, but it’s still somewhat early days.” Clara was a unique companion, but she was also found by the previous Doctor. Thinking about the Ponds still saddened him, even though he had experienced about forty percent of his long life after they had been taken from him. Of his ‘regular’ companions, only Susan had meant more to him. As for River . . . best not think about that. He still had no idea what he would do if he met River in this lifetime. Then the Doctor could see a thought pass through his earlier version. “What is it?”

“Are you worried about the Valeyard?”

“Not really. I know now he cannot occur, and I have to wonder if that was really a version of me, or some trick by some very dubious elements on the High Council.” Rassilon had mentioned the idea, which made the Doctor wonder if the Valeyard had been real, or would have been the Doctor had he gone along with Rassilon.

“The first is certainly a relief.” He frowned. “I’m not certain how I got here, but I suspect I’ll remember where I was going once I leave.”

“Quite probably.”

The Doctor waited a few moments after his seventh self had left before leaving the meditation room as well. He went directly to the console room. He ran his hands along the panels. “Thank you,” he said to the TARDIS. “As usual, you knew what I needed, and helped me. We’ll go on doing the best we can.”
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