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At some point, it occurred to David that he was staring at his hands, inspecting each finger, tracing each line, over and over again. He wasn't sure quite when he'd started doing that, when Donna's face, still and lifeless, had faded from his mind's eye. He knew he'd been sitting here, tucked in a shadowy corner of the cloister room, for quite a long time, berating himself for the decision he'd made, screaming silently to the universe to kill him so he could stop hating himself for what he had done, trying to suppress things about himself that had come to light that he hadn't wanted to know. It had been hours before the Doctor had come to him and... He couldn't say that the Doctor had given him absolution - no one could do that - but he had helped him to start to forgive himself, showed him that there was a future for him, in which he could mourn Donna and still live with himself. And he knew that it had been hours since the Doctor had left, thumping boots echoing off the marble walls. He barely remembered any of that time. He only knew that he'd been sitting here a very long time and that now he was staring at his hands.
Perhaps it was time to leave the cloister room, to go back among the living, to face the Doctor and Amy and Rory again. Especially Amy and Rory. He wasn't sure that they'd even want to see him again - they should fear him, that he'd sacrifice their lives just as easily as he had Donna's - but he'd sat here long enough. He had to pick his life back up - whatever that life was, in this alien universe - move on, don't look back, forget, heal, do whatever he needed to survive. Besides, he was really hungry and his bum ached from sitting on the stone floor.
His bones creaked and his stiffened muscles groaned as he forced himself to his feet. After sitting hunched over his knees for so long, he felt slow and exhausted, like he was a hundred years old, and he couldn't quite straighten his back. It took quite a bit of stretching his neck and shoulders and windmilling his arms to work the kinks out, and when he finally pulled himself up to his full height, he sighed and looked around him.
David hadn't really appreciated the beauty of the cloister room until now, having had no eyes for anything but the mental image of the red-haired woman dying in his arms. Contentment crept into his eyes as he gazed at the marble columns covered by ivy runners, the vibrant greens splayed against the milky white stone, fractured by veins of grays and black. The cloister room hadn't been in this form for hundreds of years of the Doctor's lifespan, having changed to a Victorian look sometime before his eighth self, and it took David back to a far simpler time, when he was just a tiny lad in Paisley, watching the telly and dreaming of becoming an actor, not a... killer. Because that's all I am now. Despair clouded his mind again, and he leaned against a column, shaking as his knees threatened to buckle beneath him.
And then he heard it: the step of a soft shoe and the swish of heavy cloth behind him. His eyes snapped open in surprise. The Doctor wore boots, and Amy never wore enough cloth for it to rub past itself. It had to be Rory. He swallowed against the tightness in his chest as he realised he wasn't ready to have his best friend in this universe see his newly blackened soul. "Rory, please, no. I don't want..." he began as he turned to face him, but fell silent as he came face-to-face with himself.
At least, he looked like himself. Except that the man in front of him was wearing a long camel-brown coat over a dark umber pinstripe suit and cream plimsolls, and his fringe was fashionably spiked. He stood there looking at David, expression unreadable.
David's breath caught in his throat, and it took a moment for him to finally blurt out, "You're the Doctor."
The figure nodded.
David froze in terror, staring at his doppelganger. How can this Doctor be standing in front of me? He's long regenerated. A flash of insight stunned him, and he breathed, "You're me."
"You're me, more like," the Doctor replied.
David knew at once that he had already realised this, hours ago, though he’d tried to forget it, to bury it deep in his mind, far away from any conscious thought. When Donna lay dying in his arms, he had held her, but so had the Doctor. He had been the Doctor as well, two minds in one body, because that's who he was: the Doctor turned human. The Doctor within him had returned for his best mate. Together, they had comforted her in her final moments, had wept over her body, had shared their grief. He remembered the Doctor as part of his soul... if he had a soul. Do I have a soul? I’m just a made-up story, aren’t I? That’s what the Doctor said about John Smith. I’m not actually me, am I? He’s here because...
"You've come for me, haven't you?" He stumbled backwards, away from the spectre of death, and collided with the column behind him. The Doctor immediately held his hands up to forestall his panic.
"No no no no no, I haven't. I don't want you to... And I can't, anyway. You don't have the chameleon arch. I'm only here to help you work this all out."
David flattened himself against the column, clutching behind him at the cold marble. "Work what out?" He faltered as he heard his words emerge in a London accent instead of his comfortable Scottish burr. "I'm not... I can't... Oh..." The colour drained from his face as he realised what was happening. "I know what this means! You're taking over. I'm becoming you. And..." He clapped both hands to his head. "Oh god. I can hear him. Bow tie man out there. I can hear the other Time Lord." He stared at the Doctor with tears in his eyes. "Please. Please no. I don't want you in my mind. I don’t want to be you. I want to be me. I don't want to die." His knees weakening, he started to slide down the column to the marble floor.
The Doctor dashed forward and grasped David's shoulders, holding him up. "Hold onto yourself, David. Strengthen your mind. The boundaries are breaking because you're expecting them to. You're the real one, not me. I'm just a thought, a phantom, a whisper. You're in control. Hold onto who you are and you won't become me." He whispered urgently, "Concentrate!"
Leaning his head back against the column, David closed his eyes and grimaced as he fought to draw a distinct line between himself and the man in front of him. The actor had played the Doctor for so long, it was difficult to figure out where he ended and where his character began. He forced himself to think about visiting his family, hanging out at the pub with his friends, listening to music in the comfort of his home in London, standing in front of cameras and blazing studio lights. He concentrated on his single heart, which, for once, he could feel pounding out his panic in his chest. As he gained resolve, the psychic presence in his mind withdrew, and his breath shuddered. Opening his eyes, he gazed at the Doctor, his face only inches from his own. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he knew he should be terrified, or at least disturbed, staring into the depths of ancient eyes set in his own face, but instead, all he felt was wonder. He could see the universe in those eyes, as much as he had when he'd sat on the threshold of the TARDIS, staring at the stars, and he calmed, entranced.
The Doctor smiled at David, pride dancing in his eyes. "Brilliant," he whispered, then stepped back, allowing David to stand on his own.
The cool marble under the actor's hands steadied him. "But... but it doesn't matter, does it?" Though his speech wavered, it came out in his normal Scottish brogue. "Bow tie man out there means I still have to -"
"No!" The Doctor's words cut across his, and he raked his fingers through his hair as he talked. "No. It wasn't supposed to work like that. I wasn't supposed to come back. You were supposed to live. I'm trying to figure out a way. There's got to be a way."
"A way to do what? How can you not come back? You're the Doctor. I mean, I'm the Doctor.” Faltering as the meaning of his words hit him, David clapped a hand to his chest, as if making sure he was still solid and real. The revelation of who he was both thrilled and terrified him. “I'm the Doctor," he murmured again. "But I can't be. Not if he's there. If he's there, then..." He swallowed. "Then that means I have to go."
"Never mind that,” the Doctor insisted, shaking his head. "There's got to be a way. I'll figure it out. I’m clever. I can do it. But before that, there's you. That's why I'm here. I came here to help you. I mean, I suppose I already did. Well, I will, but not like this. You've got to know, David. You've got to know that I don’t blame you."
David turned away from him, leaning wearily against the column. Too many things were hitting him all at once. He couldn't deal with them, and he especially didn't want to think or talk about Donna anymore, not with this Doctor, Donna's best friend, the one she had trusted to protect her. "No. Don't. We’ve already had this talk. Just go away.”
The Doctor circled around him, his coat swaying, and he peered closely at the actor's face. "No, we haven’t. The Doctor you talked to wasn’t me. We're not the same. You know that. He remembers, but he doesn't feel or even think like I do. Donna was my best mate, not his." He put a hand on David's shoulder. "I’ve been in your shoes before and I know you’re terrified of what I must be thinking of you."
"Don't. Please don't." Squeezing his eyes shut, he cringed away from his twin.
“David. Listen to me.” Gripping the man's shoulder, the Doctor could feel his aggrieved trembling. “I understand, and I don’t blame you, not in the slightest. If it had been me, standing outside that pod, I'd have done the same thing. And beat myself up afterwards, because I'm an expert at that part."
David shook his head. “I didn’t have the right. I killed your Donna. I sacrificed her. How can you forgive me for that?”
With a firm touch, the Doctor turned David towards him and, with both hands on the human’s shoulders, looked him in the eye. “I forgive you, David. You were in an impossible spot, and you did the right thing, even though you knew what would happen. And you let me in, so that I could be there for her. So that we both could.”
Tearing his eyes away from the Doctor's, David gazed around, anywhere else, sniffling. He couldn't thank him; how could he accept forgiveness for this? And something niggling in the back of his head whispered that if this Doctor had never used the chameleon arch, David would never have been put in this situation; though, to be fair, he'd never have existed at all... He tapped his head against the column a few times, then stumbled a couple of steps away from the Doctor. He couldn’t continue to think or talk about it, not with this Doctor.
Casting about for something else to do or say, his mind latched onto his probably-not-too-distant death. For some reason, it didn't scare him. He understood all too well where he came from, how he came to exist, and that his life was borrowed time. And it felt like suitable punishment for what he had done. He didn't see any way to avoid it, and he wasn't sure he wanted to. "I… I can't... I don't... No, I can't continue... to be me. I mean, I'm not the best with nonlinear time, but your next self is already travelling with his own companions and..." His words trailed off as a new thought occurred to him. "But if I'm him, that means he already knows..."
The Doctor nodded.
"And..." David swallowed. "He knows where the pocketwatch is! Why?" he cried, shaking, his hands curled into white-knuckled fists. "Why didn't he just give it to me? If he had, this would never have happened." Wrapping his arms around himself, he trembled with anger and desperation.
Closing his eyes, the Doctor bowed his head and tugged his ear. "Because he's already done this, and he knows you don't get the watch until sometime in the future."
David's mind reeled as he tried to work through the paradox caused by a person going through the same events twice. "How can he do all this? Again! Donna died twice for him! But if I know, too... how does that work? How can we go through it twice if we know it's a paradox from both sides?"
The Doctor spun and began pacing as he explained. "This kind of paradox can be survived, but it's very tricky and very dangerous. The web of time can compensate for small mistakes, but make a big enough change on one run-through that didn't happen on the other, and you can rip a hole in reality. A Time Lord could do it, though it wouldn't be easy. But you can't, because you're human and because you're going through it for the first time. If you tried, you'd second-guess every decision you had to make. Which is why," he stopped and turned, gazing at David, "you have to forget."
"Forget..." David sighed. "I thought as much."
"Yes. You have to forget all of this." He held his arms wide, indicating the conversation and himself. "So that you can play your part of the paradox, naturally and safely."
David clenched his fists. "I don't think I can forget this." He knew what the Doctor was going to reply.
"I can make you."
"I thought you might." David exhaled heavily. "Can't I just walk out of here and ask him for the watch and get this over with? I..." His breath stuttered as he breathed deep into his chest. "I shouldn't be here. I shouldn’t be alive. I don't want to be me anymore. I don't want to hurt anyone else."
The Doctor jammed his hands into his trouser pockets as he stared at the human who was suffering so much for what he had done to save the lives of all the people on that ship, running so hard from the man he was afraid of becoming. Perhaps the chameleon arch doesn't change a Time Lord as much as I thought it did. He swallowed against the sudden tightness in his throat. "That's an option, yes. But..." He took a deep breath, then puffed it back out. "I obviously don't know what's going to happen, but I don't think your story's over, David. If it were that simple, I would have handed you the watch the moment you woke up in the console room." Shaking his head, he scrubbed one hand down around his jaw. "No. I don't know what it is I'm doing, but there's more to this. I think you need to live it out."
David laughed weakly. "Isn't that always the way? We never could take the simple, expedient route, could we?"
The Doctor smiled. The pronoun David chose to use was not lost on him. "Never!" he agreed, flipping his head back with mock drama. "The most interesting path, you know."
The actor smirked. "Aye. We'll see where it goes. Nothing to be done about it. But... Doctor?"
David bit his lip, pausing a beat and studying the Time Lord before asking his question. "If I can't be allowed to remember any of this, why did you come here in the first place?"
"Because this was my only chance to do this, to talk to you face-to-face." He cocked his head and examined his other self's countenance. "A bit disturbing, it is, I've got to admit. I mean, I've met myself before, but not myself. It's like a mirror, but not." With a finger, he tapped his own nose. "This is crooked in the wrong direction." Taking a step back, David stared back at him, frowning in slightly amused consternation. "Oh, and there's the eyebrow, right on cue. Everyone always mocks that, but I've never seen it myself." The Doctor scrutinised David's face for a moment longer, then the ancient eyes flashed. "As I said before, I came here to help you."
David suppressed the urge to violently shake his head in reaction to the whirl of the Doctor's shifting gears, blinking rapidly a few times instead. "But you didn't have to. Someday I'll be you, be a part of you -"
The Doctor spun away in denial. “No! I told you. I will find a way. There must be a way. Cloned body and consciousness transplant maybe? Something like a psychograft. Well, improved, not like those primitive versions. That was dangerous, compressing Rose like that. I could show you how to build a -”
“You can’t." David cut across the outpouring, and the Doctor snapped his mouth shut with a pop. The human pointed a finger in the general direction of the other Doctor. "Our future is already happening now. Preserving me in any way would break the paradox. It must happen. I have to go.” Though his voice quavered, there was no mistaking his determination.
The Doctor's shoulders sagged. "I never wanted this, to come back. This wasn't supposed to happen. You were supposed to live."
David jumped on his admission. "You said that before! What does that mean?" How could the Doctor not intend to return?
Throttling a bit of panic, the Doctor's expression softened as he backpedaled. "It's not what it sounds like. You were to have a good, happy life. Really. This wasn't supposed to happen... yet." He ended in a mumble.
David set his jaw. "Doctor. You’re a terrible liar. Why did you use the arch?"
"It's not important." Running a hand through his hair, he turned and paced a little. "But no. You're right." He sniffed before continuing. "I came here because... When you're... inside... I'll be able to hear you, and we can talk, sort of, but not like this. And it wouldn't help you now, when you really need it. Because..." He hesitated, then seemed to make up his mind. "Because I like you, David. You're a good person. Brilliant, even. You've made me proud. If I could, I would have been honoured to have you as a companion. Though," and an eyebrow quirked, "I suppose that would have been awkward at best. Or quite a bit of fun. Who could tell us apart?" He caught himself and, clearing his throat, he met David's eye with a serious stare. "This..." and with the word, he indicated David and his pain, "this is all my fault. Because of my weakness. I'm sorry." He shook his head.
David stared at him, incredulous. His jaw dropped, the tip of his tongue flicking around as he tried to accept the idea of the Doctor, the actual Doctor, approving of him and, amazingly, apologising to him. It just wasn't possible. He wasn't any of these larger-than-life characters who caught the Doctor's attention: devoted Rose, ambitious Martha, brash Donna, even faithful Amy. He was an actor, an artist, a storyteller, barely scraping his way through these adventures with the Doctor and Amy and Rory. He flattered himself that he could reduce an audience to tears with a phrase and a gesture, but a companion to the Doctor? It was beyond comprehension.
And yet, if there was one character in all of performed history he knew best at this moment, it was that of the man standing before him. This Doctor, his Doctor, was the one who recognised the potential in everyone he met, and when it came to making them realise it in themselves, he never lied. David's eyes dropped to his tips of his trainers, his embarrassment bringing out spots of colour on his cheeks. "Er, er, er, thanks. I mean, er, you don't have to say anything, really. It's okay."
"No. It's not okay." The Doctor plunged his hands into his pockets. "It takes me a while to say what I should. Gotta sift through all those extra words in my gob. But I had to say it, so you'd know always that I know what I've done to you and that I'm sorry."
A faint, tentative smile brightened the actor's eyes. "Don't be sorry. You've given me life, a great life, which has got to be worth something." Feeling a bit cheeky, he smirked at the Doctor as his eyes sparkled. "Does that mean you're my mum? Oh god, I really am like you, aren't I, spouting whatever nonsense pops into my head?" But then, something the Doctor said struck him, and he frowned. "Wait. You said I'd always know. But, you're going to make me forget now, and that means... that means I'll remember this, some day, doesn't it? When I’m no longer me, when I’m you. Is that right?” he asked, tapping his chest, then pointing at the Doctor.
He nodded. “Yes. You will. The memory lock I'll give you will break when you go. And then, when you're inside and we're him and we install the paradox circuit, you'll remember.”
"I'll remember," David murmured, tapping his lips with a finger. Did he want to remember this? His grief would not be forgotten, of course, but this, was this bad or good? He looked up at the Doctor, as if at a mirror, seeing himself with his own wide eyes reflecting the entirety of time and space, power and wisdom and compassion burning within, and he could feel a tiny spark of it in his own heart. "Yes. I will remember. With all the horrors of this day that I will want to forget, I want to remember this."
Relieved, the Doctor's entire body relaxed. "You will, some day."
David balled his hand into a fist and bit his knuckle. "There's one more thing I'd like to ask. I think this is possible. From what I understand, it should be."
"Anything." The Doctor bounced on his toes, eager to help.
"Do you think...?" The human faltered, afraid of asking too much, and he grimaced shyly.
David’s voice was timid. "I... I want to see you. I mean, really see you. It should be possible, right? You were with me, with Donna, and I could feel that you were holding yourself apart, keeping us separate. But I could have seen you, if you had let me, right?" Staring down at no marble tile in particular, he rushed on, to keep the Doctor from interrupting him. "For all these years, ever since I was a lad, I'd always wanted to be you. It was childish, hero-worship, but still, I always dreamed. I mean, I've played you, for three years, but it's not at all the same. I caught a glimpse just now, and it's fascinating and terrifying all at once. I’d like to see, just a little." He glanced up at the Doctor, a hint of mischief in his eyes. "Call it the ultimate character study."
The Doctor considered for a moment, then nodded slowly. "Yes. When we were with Donna, I didn't want to push too hard, because it would have been too easy to overwhelm you. But we can touch, if we're careful. You can see some of me, and...” The Doctor hesitated. "And I will see some of you." He caught David’s eye and regarded him with a serious expression. “The timestream will hurt, more than you can imagine."
“I know.” David inhaled sharply. "I'm ready for it now. I was panicking the first time, earlier, but now I understand, and I know what to expect."
"Then, we can do it. We will come together, just for a moment, and then I will help you forget."
The Doctor held up his hand toward David. The human nodded and took a step forward, stretching his hand up to meet his. A moment before their fingertips touched, David pulled his back, balling his fist in apprehension. "Doctor? How can you be standing here in front of me? Is this a dream?"
"This is as much of dream or reality as you want it to be."
David thought he understood. He nodded, then, raising his hand again, clasped the Doctor's with sudden resolve, their fingers intertwined. Both men's bodies jerked straight, their eyes popping wide open and locking with the other's as their minds merged and became one.
David's consciousness jerked and stuttered, then expanded in his head. It felt like before this, as a human, his mind had been parched and dry, but now he drank in the universe. The thoughts, memories, dimensions that streamed before his eyes dazzled him, and he tightened his grip on the hand in his, for support. "I'm the Doctor," he whispered, but the words were unusual and he realised he had uttered them in Gallifreyan. A far more ancient name burned in the back of his mind, and, inhaling sharply, he snapped his eyes shut as he fought to bury it deep within himself.
"My name... my name is David." As he pronounced it, the Doctor's tongue flicked, as if he were tasting the name, its flavor, its spice.
David could hear the other Doctor in some distant room, and could feel the TARDIS humming in his mind. It pleased him to note that she liked him, welcomed him as a new aspect of the Doctor. The stars called to him, their music at once delicate and powerful. The beauty and the intricate mathematics of the entire universe splayed out before him, and he understood! Not all of it, of course, and he concentrated to keep himself from dashing out to go and learn what he hadn't yet seen, heard, tasted, touched. His eyes shining with awe, he realised just where the yearning for exploration he'd always felt since he was three had come from.
As tears started to stream down his cheeks, the Doctor whispered, "Dad. Mum." He remembered his mum, gone for over a year now, and his hearts bled. He missed her so. "Blair. Karen." He had a family, people he loved so dearly, and friends who filled his life with laughter and fulfillment. But he’d been torn from them, and he would never see them again.
David looked around the cloister room. Though rationally, he knew he was alone, he could see all of his friends standing around him, smiling at him: Barbara and Ian, Jamie, Jo, the Brigadier, Sarah Jane, Romana, Nyssa, Peri, Ace, Charley, Rose, Jack, Donna, so many more. And at his elbow, Susan hung on his arm, raising adoring eyes to him. He felt both their intense love and the acute pain of their loss deep in his heart.
The Doctor blinked as the strangest images flashed across his mind: his life displayed on a television screen, reproduced by hundreds of actors on fake sets with dodgy special effects. And yet, to his utter amazement, those who saw it, David included, loved him, regarded him as a hero. He didn't bring death and disaster. He didn't ruin lives. He brought order to the chaos, relief to the suffering. These people saw him as the man he was trying to be, someone who was trying to do what's right, and for the tiniest of moments, he was at peace.
And then David saw Gallifrey and the Time War: the majesty of the Shining World of the Seven Systems, the Time Lords in their great citadel, the first stirrings of war, the nigh-endless battles raging across thousands of planets, the descent into chaos and corruption, and then the silent screams of the galaxies, planets, and civilisations destroyed by the Moment, by his own hand. The regret and self-loathing he'd endured in the past few hours crashed back down upon him a millionfold. Condemned to live and remember, he knew he deserved it. He buried his face in his hands. He was alone.
The brevity of the human lifespan hit the Doctor hard in the hearts; for once, he felt his own mortality. A single human existed in a tiny segment of the timestream, barely even registering as a dot in a timescape of billions of years. But the transience of life, the looming death, final and permanent, spurred in him a yen for a full lifetime, of achievement and fulfillment, of exploration, of love, of family and friends - more than any Time Lord, even himself, had ever experienced. Now is, had always been, and will always be the only important moment.
Then waves of time inundated David, flooding his mind, suffocating all of his senses. Strands of the timestream stretched forward into the future and back into the past, weaving a vast multi-dimensional web, all interconnected, searing across the vision of his inner eye. He could see, and understand, it all: the web's anchors, the fixed points, as well as the infinite threads that branched away from the main weave, into the dimensions of Could-Be and Never-Did. His sanity was fragmenting, bits of his thoughts, his identity, floating away into other time zones, lost forever. He gasped and clutched at his head, and, falling to his knees, he growled low in his throat as he tried to not claw his scalp open. The last thing he heard was his voice, and yet not his voice, telling him, "Thank you, David. Sleep. And forget."
Leaning against the cold marble wall of his corner of the cloister, David blinked blearily as he stared at his skinny legs, clad in jeans, stretched out in front of him. He didn't remember falling asleep, but it seemed to have done him some good: though grief and anger and regret were still at the forefront of his mind, they were no longer overwhelming him. He’d had some strange dream, but he couldn’t remember a single detail, only that whatever it was, it had distracted him from his problems and given him some comfort.
He slowly got to his feet, using the wall for support. He wasn't as stiff as he thought he would be, but his bum was asleep and he spent forty seconds rubbing feeling back into it. Then his stomach rumbled. Yes, it had been quite a while since he'd had even a Jammie Dodger. They'd spent over fifty minutes on that slave ship and getting Sylvia home. He'd retreated to the cloister almost immediately after that. The Doctor came to talk to him after four-and-a-half hours, and then he'd sat here again for another three hours. And then this forty-minute nap. Nine hours and a handful of minutes. No wonder he was starving.
He wandered across the cloister, pausing to run his hand reverently down the marble columns and finger leaves of ivy. At the door, he turned and gazed back at the room, murmuring a quiet, "Thank you," to the TARDIS. Magic happened in the cloister room. When he entered it, he'd been broken, mourning Donna, angry at what he'd done, and horrified to know that he could do such a thing, and he'd wanted to never leave the room alive again. And here he was, walking out under his own power, ready to face the rest of his life. A tiny, appreciative smile flickered over his lips, and he turned into the corridor.
While he did feel a bit better, David knew that he was in no state to deal civilly with anyone, and when he spotted Rory, Amy, and the Doctor chatting in the kitchen as he entered, he began to turn right around and walk out. Amy’s startled “Oh!” as she saw him prevented an unnoticed retreat.
Tracing his fiancee’s stare, Rory rose to his feet and called out, “David. I’m…”
“No, don’t.” Though low, David’s words cut across Rory’s and the nurse fell silent. “I’m fine. Really I am. Been thinking about things for a while, for too long. I’m just here for food. I'm starving. Haven’t eaten a thing since before… I…” Faltering, he shook his head and made his excuses. “I’m really not going to be good company for a while. I should tell you that now, just so you know. Give you fair warning. You’d best just avoid me, really, or I’m liable to snap your head off. Apparently, I’m completely capable of killing people without even thinking about it.” He hadn’t meant to say that last part, but the babble just flowed out of his gob. He breathed a laugh to lighten the mood, but it was high and infused with hysteria.
Amy inhaled to protest, but Rory’s hand on her arm kept her silent. “You take all the time you need, David. If you need a friend to talk to, or just a shoulder, you know where to find me.” His eyes asked the question of David, and when the actor nodded his acknowledgement, he took Amy’s hand and led her past his friend and out of the kitchen.
The Doctor took a last sip of his tea before he leaned back in his chair. “You’re looking better, David. Had a bit of a nap.” It was a statement, rather than a question.
“I did. It cleared up my mind a bit.”
The Doctor nodded, and as he jumped up from his seat, his eyes fixed on David’s face. “It did. Wish you could have more naps like that. Opens your mind, fills your soul.”
David frowned at him. “What?” The Doctor seemed to be speaking in riddles again, and he wasn’t in the mood for it.
“Oh, never mind that.” The Doctor strode over and clapped David on the shoulder. “Now’s not the time. Well, it is for you. But later you’ll remember, just like you wanted.”
“Oh, just shut up, will you?” David growled and stalked off to the fridge, yanking open the door. He panted with anger as he tried to concentrate on choosing something to eat.
The Doctor smiled at the actor, though he couldn’t see it. “What you gave me, David, I’ll always treasure.”
David banged his forehead against the refrigerator door a few times, then, leaning tiredly against it, he cocked his head back at the Doctor. “What?” he cried, his eyes clenched shut in confused frustration.
“Have a good dinner.” The Doctor disappeared into the corridor as the actor sighed in exasperation and turned back to the fridge.