shivver13 (shivver13) wrote,

"A Choice of a Lifetime" - chapter 4/6

This is where the plot picks up again. There's still a bit of awkward plotting and theming to get through, but then things get back on track. Congratulations if you made it this far!

Word count: 6472

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The march to the summons was shorter than any of them expected. They were led to a different wing of the temple than the one occupied by the cardinal’s office, into an ornate marble corridor filled with people milling about and stealing sidelong glances at the guards’ charges. Amy guessed that this place was normally not heavily occupied at this time of night, but the news of demons in the temple brought out the gawkers. She decided to amuse herself by playing the part, walking tall and casting defiant stares at anyone who looked her way. Disappointingly, Rory slunk along by her side, looking like he wanted to hide behind her, and David seemed completely distracted by his own thoughts.

The guards steered them to the far end of the corridor, before a pair of large, gilded double doors. One of them declared to the doors themselves his identity and the purpose for bringing the prisoners here, and the door guards nodded and pushed them open. The guards stepped aside and motioned for the prisoners to enter. To her side, Amy noticed David shaking the cobwebs from his head and forcing himself to become alert.

With her boys on either side of her, Amy strode into what was obviously the god Orsanal’s throne room. A deep blue carpet ran up the center of the room, between two rows of columns, to the steps that led up to the throne and the man sitting on it, dressed in heavy and lavish deep red flowing robes. There was little ornamentation in the room, the blankness of the walls and the lines of the strip of carpet leading the eye directly to the god. Beside his throne was a table piled with bowls and plates of fruit and meat, a goblet, and a bottle of wine, and a servant to provide his Holiness with whatever he wanted. Other men and women, in different colors of robes, stood nearby, probably clerics of varying rank.

The god himself was physically unimposing, a bit slight of frame but built up by bulky cloth well-designed to give him more heft and stature. His attitude, however, made up for any lack of presence his body might have had: glowering from atop his raised dais, he had an air of command that intimidated the three friends from twenty metres away. Having already decided to not allow herself to be afraid, Amy straightened and stared coolly back at the man. Rory took a step back, but David kept with her, standing at her left shoulder.

"And these are the intruders that penetrated to the inner sanctum. Approach." He voice rang through the hall.

Amy could feel the eyes of all the others on her as she walked up the blue carpet with Rory and David, and though she felt rather exposed in her light jumper and short skirt, she forced her eyes to stay on the god. They came to the foot of the steps and halted. The god stared down at them, taking in every detail of each of them in turn, until Amy couldn't help but fidget under the scrutiny.

"Leave." Amy blinked at the god's strange command, then realised it wasn't aimed at her. He leapt up from the throne and waved a command at the clerics and servants in the room. "Leave! Now!"

As the befuddled clerics turned toward the door, perhaps the most courageous of them began, "But Your Holiness, they are -"

"Do you think I do not know what they are?" The cleric flinched at his god's words. "Leave! They cannot harm me." The cleric scurried after his brothers, through the doors being pushed shut by the door guards outside the chamber.

As soon as the doors clanged shut, the god sprinted down the steps and threw himself on his knees in front of Amy. "You've returned, my lady! At long last! I welcome you and yours as my honoured guests."

As he took her hand and pressed it to his forehead, she looked in bewilderment at David and Rory. "Um, as much as I hate to ruin the moment, I don't think I'm who you think I am."

"Oh, my lady, you told me it might take a long while for you to return, but you have come in your ship that appears where it pleases." He jumped back to his feet. "I think you will find that everything has worked as you had expected. Not a single problem in nine hundred and forty-seven years."

Amy cocked her fists on her hips, indignant. "Do I look nine hundred and forty-seven years old?"

Orsanal waved his hands, afraid he might have insulted her. "Of course not, my lady! But that is what I would expect from a time traveller. The last time we met might have been five minutes ago to you, though I wouldn't expect to see a different face in such a short time."

"You're expecting a Time Lady, then," David asked, an eyebrow cocked in incredulity.

"Why, yes," replied Orsanal, paying attention to the two men for the first time. "And Time Lords as well, this time, I see."

"No." Amy pursed her lips in frustration. "We're not Time Lords." She shot David a silencing glance before continuing. "We travel with one, but he's not here. We're not who you think we are."

"Oh." Orsanal's shoulders slumped, his command and excitement draining away. "Then who are you? What are you doing in my temple?"

"My name is Amy, This is Rory, and David." She indicated each of them in turn. "Like we've told everyone, our ship landed here by mistake. We lost a very important item, and our ship left when we came out to get it."

"Your TARDIS."

"Not mine. The Doctor's. He's the Time Lord."

"The Doctor. And why did he leave, this Doctor?"

Amy hesitated, and David spoke up. "We don't know, but I’m certain it is connected with the item we lost. We need to get it back, and once we do, I am sure the Doctor will return and we can leave your world in peace."

"Oh, no!" Orsanal spun and climbed the steps back to his throne, perching himself on the edge and staring down at the three like a lion looking over his territory. "I never said you could leave."

Amy stepped to the very foot of the steps. “We never meant to come here. We really don’t want to cause any problems."

He waved dismissively. "Yes, yes, I'm sure that's what you say and everyone acquiesces." With sudden anger, he leaned forward, hovering over the girl below him. "You all think that we 'lesser species', as you call us, are so stupid. But I've had over nine hundred years to think about this and I can see through your duplicity. Of all the millions of worlds that must exist in this universe, why would a second Time Lord visit this one?" He stabbed a finger at the floor. "Unless he has some business to resolve with the first? You've come to take it away, haven't you?"

"Whoa, whoa, slow down, Sherlock!" Amy held up her hands to stop the situation from spiraling out of control. "We don't know a thing about what you're saying. Not about any Time Lord coming here earlier, or about taking anything away."

Orsanal frowned, then pointed at David. "He knew it was a Time Lady."

The actor shrugged. "I figured that out from what you said, about her changing her face. I don't know many races that can do that. Maybe Zygons."

The god stared at Amy and David in disbelief. "You really don't know."

Amy shook her head. "No. Why don't you start by telling us what happened the last time a Time Lady came here?" she asked in her usual reasonable yet demanding tone.

Orsanal considered for a moment, then began. "She came here offering me assistance, to prolong my life so that I could convince my people to consider me a god. How could I refuse?"

Frowning, David waved a forefinger at the god. "No, that doesn't make any sense. Time Lords did not interfere with other worlds unless it was a threat to the Web of Time. And making you a god would definitely interfere with your world's history."

"Well, she was benefiting from the arrangement as well." Orsanal smirked. "I've never yet met a person who didn't want something in return for their generosity."

"And what exactly did she get from you?" Amy asked.

"She said I was helping her with her research, testing out her new machine, making sure it works."

"Ah!" David crossed his arms and thumbed his chin. "Let me guess. This Time Lady, was she called the Rani?"

"You do know her, then?"

"Yes. Well, no. By reputation only." David circled away as he spoke. "She was a scientist and cared only about her research, everyone else be damned. It would be just like her to drop an experimental machine on a planet and not care what happens to the people there because of it."

Amy turned back to Orsanal. "What does this device of yours do?"

"It keeps me young." He tapped a fist on his chin as he tried to remember the details. "She said that it stored what I looked like - she used a word... 'biodata' - and every year, it creates a body for me from it. Then I wake up in that body."

Rory spoke up. "Are you saying that you're a re-creation of your body from centuries ago?"

Orsanal sat up on his throne, radiating an air of proud command. "Nine hundred and fifty-one times, yes."

"Ah." David nodded as he worked through all the implications. "Your body is always young, and you get to mix in the whole rebirth and renewal thing into the myth. You let everyone watch your miraculous death and resurrection so that they can't argue against your divinity. The only hazard is somehow dying during the intervening year, so you live in the temple to minimise your risk."

"And, if the death is slow, I could be brought here immediately to transfer myself out of the dying body and establish a new legend about how I sacrificed my previous body to combat some menace to my people. I've done that a handful of times." He winked at Amy. "Those were scary, but I was pretty happy to come up with that idea."

"That is horrible!" Amy cocked her fists on her hips and stared up at the god. "Tricking your people like that, lying to them, just to be a god!"

"Amy!" David's angry warning chastised her.

"No! Someone needs to say it!" She ran up the steps and leaned in Orsanal's face. "Your people deserve the truth. They deserve to know that you've been lying to them for a thousand years, that your power is basically a parlor trick."

"Amy!" David ran up beside her and grabbed her arm. "Stop this now! You have no right to judge him or his people or to change what isn't your concern."

Glancing at him, she jerked back, startled by his eyes that were blazing with golden fury, then she yanked her arm out of his grasp. "You don't tell me what to do. You're not the Doctor."

He drew himself up, straight and tall. "I am the closest thing to the Doctor you're going to get."

"Not good enough! I don't care what's going on in your head right now. I don't take orders from you.” Crossing her arms, she flipped her red hair back with a toss of her head. “This isn't right, and unlike you, I'm not afraid to do something about it!"

Orsanal leaned back on the throne, unconcerned and almost amused by the angry woman. "I might remind you that you are currently my guest on my world. We treat guests with the highest respect, but guests must adhere to their rules of behaviour, too. Threaten me, and I shall consider that a renunciation of my hospitality."

Amy took a step back, confused by his pronouncement. "What does that mean?"

David's eyes were still glowing. "It means that he's near to considering your opinion of his society a hostility and won't hesitate to imprison you for it, or worse."

Amy smirked at the god. "Truth hurts, doesn't it? Someone calls you out on taking advantage of your people for your own gain, and your first thought is, 'Oh, let's kill her for it!'"

"My own gain? What is it you think I've done here? You seem quite confident of your knowledge of my history after claiming you came here on accident and spending four hours in a cell." He jumped up and pointed at his throne. "Yes, I sit there. Do you know why? When the crown was put on my head, I was seventeen-year-old boy who'd been taught from the moment I could speak that I was a princeling god, but all I knew was that I felt as Cherellan as everyone else. I inherited a civil war between the faithful half of my people and the half that thought I was a fraud.”

He sat back down on his throne, his practised air of command palpable about him. "Yes, when the Rani appeared and showed me how to convince everyone that I was truly a god and knew what I was doing, I grabbed at it with both hands, and it still took another six years and six hundred thousand lives to end the conflict. And to what end? I've spent nine hundred and forty-seven years within the thirty acres this temple covers, never stepping outside even once, writing moral platitudes and issuing commandments and crossing my fingers that the world won't fall apart. Sometimes I'm successful. Sometimes I'm not. But,” and he stabbed a finger toward the door, behind which his clerics waited, “I'm lying to my followers because the alternative is chaos.”

Orsanal leaned back in his throne, his body language daring Amy to do her worst. "You want to expose me? Then, demon, you had better have a plan to perform better than I do, because I will not allow you to do anything that endangers my people."

Amy gaped at the god in horror, then rounded on David. "You knew all of this, didn't you? From your television programme, is it? Why didn't you tell me? Or do you like it when I make a fool of myself?"

David shook his head. "I don't know a thing about this planet or its people. I've no idea if he's even telling the truth, but it doesn't matter. We don't have the right to decide for them how their world should run."

"But this Time Lady did..."

"The Rani was a renegade. I don't think we want to base our morality on her example."

Amy stomped down the stairs, her fists clenched at her sides. Rory came up to comfort her, but she waved him away. "So we don't do anything, and Minlay dies?"

"Ah." Orsanal nodded. "The young cleritech. I reviewed her case and regrettably, yes, she must be executed." He clasped his hands in front of his lips in thought, like a prayer.

Amy seemed about to burst into tears, so David stepped forward, his eyes now mostly brown. "On behalf of my friend, I'd like to ask for leniency for Minlay. Amy feels responsible for her death, because if we hadn't come here, she would never have said what she did."

"Yes, please," added Rory, wringing his hands.

Orsanal smiled sadly at both men. "I'm sorry, but it is out of the question. The law states that the punishment for blasphemy is death. I've already had problems with faith before, and allowing even one example to escape punishment weakens my position."

"You rule by fear, then." Amy muttered.

"Sometimes I must, yes." Amy turned her back on him, her red hair flying.

The god leaned forward, garnering the attention of both men. "So, from what I've gathered, the Rani isn't coming back, is she?"

David frowned, and even Amy turned back to stare at the god in confusion. "How do you know that?"

"You spoke of her in the past tense."

David nodded. "Yes, she won't be coming back."

"And you have said you won't be taking the Chamber of Rebirth away."

David shook his head and indicated himself and the other two. "We won't, but we can't speak for the Doctor. I don't think he would, though."

"Then all that's left is to return your possessions to you and wait for this Doctor to reappear to remove you from our world."

David executed a sweeping bow, hoping to hide his anxiety. The prospect of getting the watch back dropped a heavy rock into his stomach. "Yes. We'll be on our way and no threat to you."

Reaching behind him, Orsanal tugged on an ribbon hanging down the back of the throne. A few heartbeats later, the main doors opened and a young man in robes hurried in, flinging himself to his knees and prostrating himself in front of his deity. "Your Holiness."

With an airy flip of his head, the god waved a dismissive hand at his servant. "Bring me Bishop Tullet, child. Tell him to bring my honoured guests' possessions with him."

"Yes, Your Holiness." Casting a terrified glance at the three visitors, the man jumped up and scurried away.

Amy crossed her arms, watching the man retreat. As soon as the door closed, she smirked. "You have the attitude down pat."

Orsanal shrugged. "I've had nearly a millennium to practice. Despite the lack of mercy you have pointed out, I'm a benevolent god, here to make sure they all work together nicely. I've found I don't need to scare them much." He leaned back casually in his throne. "Though it's nice to be able to talk to someone without having to talk down to them. I really am very tired of all of this, you know."

"Even being a god is hard work," Rory quipped.

"No. Living for centuries. Calculating everything you do to benefit everyone else except yourself. Having everyone kneel and worship and adore, but not having a single person to simply talk to." He jumped up from his seat and, trotting down the steps, paced about the room, his hard boots clicking on the marble tile. "I have a list, you know. I keep it by my bed. Every day, when I wake up, I read through it to remind myself why I'm doing this. It's the only way to keep from going spare and throwing myself from the high tower."

Amy coughed, and he stopped to look at her. "Why don't you pass it on? Declare that you're returning to the heavens and appoint a god-king again? We could take you wherever you want to go."

David murmured, "Amy," with a warning in his voice.

"No, look at him." She stepped to the god and placed a hand on his shoulder. "He's just a man. Anyone would get tired of this life after nine centuries, and we can help him."

"That's a change of heart for you."

"You said we can't change his world, but we can try to help one man, can't we?"

Orsanal covered Amy's hand with his. "You see, that's the first time in nine hundred years that anyone has touched me for any reason other than either ablutions or concubines, and the concubines view me only as their ticket to a comfortable life. Anyone else would get their hand cut off." He patted her hand. "I've thought about doing what you suggested. A god-king isn't enough anymore. After centuries of a god living among them, they won't have enough faith in a half-god. Why do you think I produce children? I'm trying to find one who can take my place in the Chamber of Rebirth, but I haven't found one that I think will be able to handle this. I try to keep my hopes up."

"You should do what's right for you."

"This is what's right for me. There are far more important things here than just my comfort." He spun and climbed the steps up to his throne, taking the time to arrange his robes before sitting down with a regal demeanour. Rory stepped to his disappointed fiancee's side and gave her a brief shoulder-hug.

The deep peal of a bell sounded through the room, and Orsanal waved a hand at the other three to move to the side of the blue carpet before calling in an imperious tone, "Enter!"

The doors opened and the artefact expert from Cardinal Deretyr's office hurried in. His embarrassment and contrition was obvious and he kept his eyes trained on the carpet beneath his feet, avoiding the gazes of his god and the visitors. At the foot of the dais, he knelt before the throne. "Your Holiness, I have come when you called."

"Thank you, Tullet. I believe you have two items that belong to my guests. I would bid you to return them."

"Yes, Your Holiness." Standing up, he approached Rory first, offering the sonic screwdriver to him. "I believe this is yours. Please forgive our presumption in removing it from your person."

Rory accepted the device and handed it over to David. As he looked it over then stowed it in his inner breast pocket, Rory replied, "Actually, this is his. I was just holding it for him." He glanced at Amy, who jerked her head at the bishop with a "come on, do it!" look. "Oh, er, you are forgiven. It was understandable."

"You are most gracious." He bobbed a bow, then moved on to David. "And this is yours." Trembling, he held out the watch. "I apologize for the damage to the artefact. Is there any way that I can recompense you for it?"

David's voice was tight as he replied. "No, there isn't. I forgive you, too." He choked out the last words as he took the watch from the man's hand and inspected it as the bishop bowed and retreated to the other side of the carpet. Held closed by cords twined and knotted around it, the casing was badly warped, allowing him a peek at the insides. The crystal was gone, and he could see the deep dent on the face where the pommel of the sword had landed. The power in the device thrummed through his fingers, but it stuttered and jerked. It felt wrong, broken, just like he did, but his mind connected with the consciousness inside the watch and he knew the device still worked.

Rory peered at his friend. "Is it okay?"

David nodded. "It's fine." Sudden fear widened his eyes, and he glanced Rory and Amy in turn, then swallowed. "I should, er, I should get this over with right now, before anything else goes wrong." He bit his lip. "So, er, goodbye, I guess." He turned the watch over in his hand to find the right knot to start undoing.

As the bishop murmured a confused "What?" Rory grasped Amy's hand to pull her toward him and put his arm around her shoulders. She leaned into him, unable to take her eyes, which were starting to fill with tears, off David. Orsanal sat on his throne, staring at the unusual scene, keeping his regal pose but not bothering to hide his confusion, as his only servant in the room was not watching him.

David fumbled with the cord and his unwilling fingers, feeling suddenly thick and unresponsive, had made little headway against the knot when he paused, looking up as if he heard something. A tiny smile grace his face as he ran his tongue over his upper lip. "And there he is."

Rory frowned. "Who?"

"The Doctor. He's here."

"How would you know that?"

David's eyes flicked about sightlessly. "I can hear him in my mind. He just arrived. I think... I think I can hear the TARDIS, too. I think that's what that is."

Hope sprung into Amy's eyes and she dashed forward, covering David's hands on the watch with one of hers. "Wait until the Doctor gets here, please? You know he should be here for this."

Her touch pulled David back to the present. "He doesn't need to be here. And I'd really like him not to see what I've done to his body."

"He'll know anyway. Come on, it's just a few minutes." She turned to Orsanal. "Can you... er, Your Holiness, can you get the Doctor here? As fast as possible?"

With the attention back on him, Orsanal stifled his curiosity and drew himself up. "Certainly. Tullet, find my new guest with all speed. He should have appeared somewhere on the grounds. Escort him here at once. Go. Go!" He waved imperiously.

"At once, Your Holiness." The bishop sprinted out with more dexterity than Amy thought a scholar would have.

As soon as the door closed, Orsanal indulged his curiosity. "So, what is the importance of this watch? What exactly is going on?"

Pulling his hand away from Amy's, David held the device tightly in his fist and strode away. "It's hard to explain. It... it holds my life force. Who I am now is not who I'm supposed to be. The damage to it gave me half of it, and I need to restore the other half."

"Wait for the Doctor, David," Amy murmured.

"Okay. Might as well." David was glad for an excuse to delay the inevitable. Clasping the watch in both hands, he stood with his head bowed and his shoulders curved, aware that all eyes were on him.

"We're here for you, David." Rory's deep but quiet voice rumbled through the room.

"Yeah. I know." He sniffed. "You know, I was ready then. I'm not ready now. I don't know why."

"It doesn't have to be now." Amy's voice quivered with sympathy. "Choose when it’s right for you."

"No. It has to be as soon as possible. I can't risk this again. I think that's the scariest part: the destruction that could be caused by one little thing I do."

The chime echoed through the chamber, and when the doors opened upon the deity calling for entrance, the Time Lord in his tweed jacket and red bow tie bounded in, his hands twitching on either side of his wide jaw. He was tailed by a very bewildered Bishop Tullet.

"Ah, Amy, Rory, David!" The Doctor twirled on his heel to take in the room. "Just as I expected! You get a few hours to meet and greet, and here you are, hobnobbing with the king. I shouldn't have worked so hard to come back for you."

"His Holiness is no mere king!" the bishop protested before anyone else could reply. "He is divinity walking the land! You will bow before him and show your respect!"

"Bishop Tullet." Orsanal's tone was condescending. "Please withdraw. I would speak with my visitors alone."

The bishop's jaw dropped. "You would tolerate such insolence, Your Holiness?"

"I will tolerate what I choose. Please withdraw." His polite words floated on an undercurrent of steel. Tullet knew immediately to drop the matter and, making his apologies, quit the room, closing the doors behind him.

The Doctor continued as if he had been uninterrupted. "A god, are you? Pleased to make your acquaintance. Never met a god before. Well, not one that wasn't trying to kill me, that is."

"This is Orsanal, god of the Cherellans." The god watched David with a detached air, wondering how he'd be represented to the Doctor. "He's actually a Cherellan himself, but he uses a device that replicates him and transfers him to the new body to stay young and impress his people with his power of rebirth and renewal. Nine hundred years now, he's been on the throne, directing his people."

Impressed, the Doctor looked him up and down. "Ah, a fine trick. But that's a bit beyond Cherel's technology level."

Orsanal rose from his throne and stepped down to the level of the others. "It was given to me by one of your fellows.”

“A Time Lord? We never created such a device. We’ve never needed one.” A light dawned on his face. “Oh. The Rani, I’d wager.” At David’s nod, the Doctor rolled his eyes. “Part of her experiments in regeneration, I’m sure. She never could leave well enough alone.”

“I thought you had come to take it back."

"No, no!" The Doctor spun away to take in the room. "I don't see the point. What's done is done, and taking it away will cause more trouble than it's worth. Consider it a gift for taking good care of my friends."

"We spent most of our time here in a dungeon, Doctor," Amy interjected.

"A pleasant one, at least," commented David. He jerked a thumb at the Doctor. "You'll need to get used to that if you want to travel with him." He turned to the Time Lord. "Doctor, if you don't mind, I think we need to go. I've, er, things to do that shouldn't be delayed any longer."

The Doctor clapped his hands together. "No."

David was stunned. "I'm sorry?"

"Just what I said. No. We're not leaving. We need to finish this, here and now." He jabbed a finger at the floor.

David opened his mouth, but no sound came out. He blinked, then, inhaling, he nodded. "Okay. If that's what you want." He began fiddling with the cords binding the watch. "The knots are tight. Maybe if I had a pocketknife."

The Doctor stepped over and grabbed the watch from David's hands. "That's not what I meant. I figured out why you're here, and you need to know, so you can make your choice."

David's eyes burned with sudden anger, and he drew himself up straight. "I don't have a choice. I have to die so that you can live. Don't try to give me false hope, because I don't think I can take any more of this."

"It's not false hope. You have a choice to make now. But it won't be an easy one." He brandished the watch. "You were about to open this when the TARDIS took off and threw you about the console platform. Didn't you wonder why?" David continued to glare at the Doctor, so he continued. "It's because she didn't want you to go and took matters into her own hands. If she had hands, that is. She shook you hard enough to make sure you lost your hold on the watch, so you couldn't open it. Each time you got close to it, she bumped it away." Tossing the watch back to David, he turned to grin at the surprised looks on Amy's and Rory's faces. "It took me quite a while to figure that one out. She didn't want to admit it. Even falsified some of the readings so that I'd think we'd hit an anomaly."

David gaped at the Doctor, unable to believe what he had just heard. He finally murmured, "The TARDIS didn't want me to go?"

"Yes. She likes you." The Doctor whirled around the room again as he spoke. "She doesn't usually interfere in anyone's life, you know. Come to think of it, I don't remember her doing that before." He stopped in front of David and poked him in the chest. "You must be very special."

David threw his hands up in futility. "But what good did that do? Prolong my life a few more hours so I could spend it in a prison cell?"

"That, she didn't have any control over. But she did send you exactly where you needed to be."

"Here? A backward theocratic planet?" He turned to Orsanal. "No offense intended."

Watching the scene in confusion, the god was taken aback at the sudden address. "Oh, er, none taken."

"No." The Doctor stepped in front of David and looked him in the eye, his expression grim. "The one place in the universe with the ability to replicate a body and transfer a consciousness."

Amy gasped. As the idea penetrated, a mixture of hope and disbelief started to spread across David's face. "Oh. Oh! But I'm not… I can’t… Can I?"

“I don’t see why not. Create a copy of the body for you and I keep the original.” The Doctor glanced at the watch in David’s hand, then eyed the actor, waiting for him to make the second connection.

David’s eyes widened and he began to smile, then his jaw dropped in horror. “This body for me? But I don’t even know what I am. I’m not…” The word caught in this throat.

"Right. You're not. Let's figure out what you are." The Doctor pulled his sonic screwdriver from his pocket and flicked the end open. David's nervousness was evident in the way he held himself perfectly straight and still as the Doctor scanned him then checked the readings. "Oh, very Time Lord-y. The hearts and things, you've already noticed. But you've still a substantial amount of human in you, especially in the brain. I don't know how that will affect the way you think."

David's eyes followed the Doctor as the Time Lord circled him, looking him up and down. "I think I've seen that already. Sometimes I feel like I'm two people in my head, arguing with myself."

"You're more like me than I thought, then. Time-sensitive, of course. Psychic, but we already knew that." He peered at David. "There are some irregularities that are neither human nor Time Lord, probably resulting from the aborted reversion. But you-wise, you don't seem to be much different than you were. You got a bit of me, the last me, but not much." he stated as he tapped his own temple.

David shrugged. "I think so, but I can't tell. I don’t think I’m different, but it doesn't help that I've had to act and think like you for three years.

The Doctor tapped his screwdriver on his chin. "On a quick scan, I'd say seventy-five percent Time Lord, probably more."

"But what about my eyes? Why are my eyes glowing? That's not normal for human or Gallifreyan."

"You've already figured that out, I'm sure." He popped the end of the screwdriver closed with the palm of his hand.

"I think I have," David murmured, more to himself than anything.

"What is it, do you think?"

"Well, it's golden. That's the clue, isn't it?" He wrapped his arms around himself. "The one thing that broke when the reversion was aborted was regeneration."

"Yes. I believe that won't work for you.” He waved a hand at David’s body. “You’ve got the artron energy; you can feel it, can’t you, the life churning within you? Perhaps you can heal if you get injured, but the system is broken and you can’t regenerate. And there’s that bit of energy visible in your eyes. The light will fade, but not completely. You should be able to learn to control it."

David nodded. "That's what I thought." He began to pace around the room. "So, I'm mostly Time Lord."

“Yes. And that’s your choice. If my lord Orsanal would be so kind as to allow us use of his replication device,” and he nodded in his direction, “we could create a new body for you whilst I return to this one.”

The god gestured graciously. “Of course. My lord Doctor is welcome to anything I can provide.”

The Doctor nodded a thanks, then continued. “Or you can proceed with opening the watch, and the consequences of that, you already know.”

David stopped dead and stared at the watch in his hand. “I don’t have to die. But if I don’t…” He swallowed. “I’ll be this… whatever I am. And…” He looked up at the Doctor, his expression haunted. “I’ll be this for a very long time, won’t I?”

“You’re a Time Lord, give or take a few details. You know how long we live.”

“More than a thousand years.” It was barely a whisper. He glanced at Orsanal, the nine-hundred-year-old god, sitting like a gilded statue on his throne, then at Rory and Amy, the young couple holding hands as they stared back at him. Suddenly he couldn't look at anyone, and gazed off into a corner. “I don’t want to live for a thousand years. I know how this goes. Everyone leaves, everyone dies, over and over again, and I'll have to live on. I just want a normal life, simple and finite.” He turned to the Doctor. “Can’t you fix me? I don’t know, use the chameleon arch to pull the Time Lord from me. Or you can come back and use the arch again to bring me back.”

The Doctor glanced at the watch. “That device is too damaged. I have no idea what might happen if we tried to use it to reverse what's happened to you. And using a new arch to bring you back again from me?" He faltered. "I don't know if that would work. Would it bring you back, or create another version of you? It's up to you, if you want to take that chance."

Wrapping his arms tightly around himself, David scrubbed his hand down around his jaw, his eyes wide and horrified. "It's either this or die? I just want to be me! I don't want to be a Time Lord. But..." With his thumb and forefinger, he wiped away the sparkling golden tears that had started spilling down his cheeks. "I don't have a choice. I can't choose to kill myself. I just can't do that, not when there's any other way." Burying his face in his hands, he panted, his breath stuttering in his chest. Then he straightened and breathed deep, gathering his strength. When he finally looked up, his eyes shone golden. "I can't choose to die. I'll... I'll get used to this, I suppose." The glow faded, wisps of energy floating away.

The Doctor nodded. "You will. More than that. You'll do great things. You already have, you know." He clapped his hands. "But come on! We've work to do. My lord Orsanal, may we use your replication device now?"

"Certainly." He reached behind him for the bell-pull. "Let me summon the cleritechs to operate it."

Waving his hands in negation, the Doctor jumped forward. "No, no. Don't do that. They don't need to see that the device works on other people. I can probably operate the instrument. The Rani never did try to obscure her control panels."

"I appreciate your concern for my little charade." He hopped down from throne and circled to the tapestry that hung behind it. Lifting it, he revealed a wooden door. "In here. We'll take the back ways."

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