Word count: 5996
Between the two of them, Ben and Will were able to carry David the rather long distance back to the hotel, with Amy forging a path for them through the knots of people. Halfway there, the people in cardiac arrest around them who had survived this long suddenly recovered, sitting up and testing themselves with disbelief. However, for every three surviving victims, there was at least one dead, and plenty of collateral damage from crashed cars, abandoned machinery, and personal injury from people collapsing where they stood. Will wondered how many aeroplanes around the world had not been as lucky as the one David had landed.
With so much disaster around and no emergency services response, no one paid the group any attention as they carried David through the hotel lobby and into the elevator. Once in Will’s room, he, Ben, and Amy laid the man out on the bed and covered him with a blanket whilst Markus stood by the door, unable to take his eyes off the unconscious man. As soon as the three stepped away from the bed, he blurted out, “Okay, I’ve waited long enough. Who is he?”
Will disappeared into the en suite, reappearing a moment later with a wet towel. He began cleaning the bloody tear on David's neck left by the pendant's chain, noticing that the skin was already nearly closed. He took a deep breath before answering Markus' question. “David’s an alien." Amy, who had sat down on the opposite side of the bed from Will, immediately hopped back up and scooted over to stand by Ben, who was staring at Will in surprised horror. Will amended his statement immediately. "Partly. He's partly human, but mostly alien.”
Markus gaped and coughed before finally replying. “An alien? He’s an alien?” He stared at the unconscious man, then glared at Will, flinging a pointing finger toward the window. “Are you telling me he’s responsible for all that out there? I almost died!”
Incredulous, Will stared at Markus and shook his head, as if trying to clear what he had just heard from his ears. He opened his mouth to speak but no words came out, getting stuck in his throat. He finally coughed out, “What? How in the world did you jump from what I said to that? He had nothing to do with that, whatever that was! Did you pay attention at all? He tried to save people, not kill them. He saved your life!”
“Who knows why an alien would do anything? That's what the word means, doesn't it? 'Alien'? Completely different and unfathomable?” Markus spun on his heel and began pacing back and forth past the bed. "My god, he's an alien. What does he really look like? Green and scaly with tentacles and bug eyes? And what's he doing here? Scoping out the planet to lead an invasion and ensalve mankind?" Stopping short, he turned to stare at the prostrate man. "We have to protect ourselves! Turn him in. Or kill him before he escapes."
As Ben mumbled, "Wait, that's completely uncalled for," Will jumped up from the bed and strode around to get in Markus' face. "What is wrong with you? He has no designs on the planet, other than to just live here. He considers the Earth his home. When has he ever been anything other than a good friend to you?"
Markus jabbed a finger toward David. "When he started living right under our noses, pretending to be just another guy, but no, he has the power to lift aeroplanes with his mind! He's dangerous, Will."
Will threw up his hands. "He's done absolutely nothing to hurt anyone!"
"Oh, like those cubes, eh?" Markus smirked. "Just humming along, keeping his secrets, then one day, bam, he kills us all. I don't trust him. He's an alien."
"He's got no ill intentions. Look at what he just did! He could have -" Will broke off, clapping a hand to his mouth and staring off at the wall. "Ohhhh..."
"What?" Markus glanced at Ben and Amy, who were huddled out of the way of the argument but were just as confused about Will's change of attitude.
Will snorted and glanced at Markus with a sardonic eye. "You sound just like I did when I found out." Throwing his head back, he laughed at himself, to Markus' annoyance, then threw the bloodied towel across the room onto the kitchen counter.
"How long have you known?" Ben ventured to ask during this lull in the argument.
"Since the Judoon." Will hastened to clarify as Ben frowned at the unfamiliar term. "The space rhinos, the ones that destroyed the company picnic."
"Over two years, then." When Will nodded, Ben stared at him. "You said you didn't know a thing about them."
"I lied. I'm sorry." Sincerely contrite, he shrugged his helplessness. "Telling the truth would have meant revealing David's secrets, and those are not mine to tell."
Amy crossed her arms with a suspicious frown. "Then tell us the truth now."
"I am." Will exhaled heavily before beginning. "Those rhinos, they're called Judoon. They're basically space police and they came here to -"
"To take him away, didn't they?" Markus broke in. "He's some kind of outer space criminal, isn't he?"
Will shook his head at how thick Markus was being. "Not at all. They came here to retrieve an alien weapon that had been left here on Earth. Remember those rumours of two unknown men talking to the rhinos and convincing them to leave? That was us. David was the one who talked to them and figured out what they wanted, and I helped him find it. He had to tell me about himself so that I knew that he knew what he was doing."
Markus pursed his lips with a supercilious air. "Oh, I'm sure that's what he wanted you think. It was probably all staged just to make you think he's friendly."
Will coughed incredulously and drew in a breath to mock his friend, but Ben spoke first. "Okay, Markus, you're reaching now. I don't believe this nonsense either, but come on. Stage an invasion just to make him reveal he's a friendly alien? That's mental."
“Completely mental,” Will agreed. “Just calm down and think, Markus! He’s the same person you’ve known all this time. It doesn’t matter that he’s an alien.”
“What is he?” Amy’s soft, tremulous voice cut through the harsher male argument, and all three turned to see her staring at the man in the bed. “Is he really green and scaly?”
Will realised that he had worked himself up too far and forced himself to calm down, to reassure Amy. “No. He looks just like he does. He’s a Time Lord.”
“A what?” Ben squinted in confusion as Amy glanced at Will to make sure she heard right.
Will shrugged. “Yeah, that was my reaction when he told me, too.”
Amy shook her head, frowning. “Are you sure that’s not some kind of translation error? I mean, there’s no way his people speak English, right?”
“To be honest, I’ve never asked. But that’s what he calls himself.”
Markus snorted. “And what’s the name of the planet he comes from? Timelordia?”
Their laughter brought the four friends back together for a moment. Still smiling, Will skirted the bed and sat down on it, taking a moment to check on the unconscious man. He turned back to Markus. “The name of the planet he’s from is Earth. I told you that he’s partly human. He grew up human, up near Glasgow, and I’m not going to explain how that works, because that’s his business, but his home is here.”
“So you’re saying that anyone could be an alien, then?” Markus jabbed his finger at his friends. “You, or you, or you? Are there hidden aliens everywhere?”
“No!" Will waved a finger at Markus. "You are not going to drag us into a completely unrelated argument, Markus. This is about David, who’s been our mate, my best mate for the past two years, and who just saved your life and the lives of everyone on that plane and on the ground, even though he knew it would do that to him." He pointed at David lying unconscious in the bed. "That tells you everything you need to know about him. Why does it matter that he’s not human?”
“Because he scares me to death,” Amy murmured. Hugging herself, she settled into the armchair and rocked back and forth as she spoke, pointedly staring down at the ground and away from the man in the bed. “All that power. He lifted an aeroplane with his mind! And his eyes! And, and…” She shivered. “And he was in my head… David’s always been a nice guy, but… He could kill us all, couldn’t he?”
Markus pointed at Amy, nodding. “That’s what I said! We need to tell someone about him. That’s what UNIT is for, right? Protecting us against aliens.”
Will leaned back against the headboard, running both hands through his hair. “Why are we arguing about what he might do? Think about what has happened, what he’s done. He's never done anything bad to us, and honestly, from everything I’ve seen, he goes out of his way to help us." He sat up and faced Markus. "You don’t know this, mate, but when the Judoon accused the town of hiding that weapon they were looking for, he took responsibility for it, so that instead of attacking the town, they would execute him in our place. And they almost did. Would any of you do that? Offer yourself to be killed in the place of a bunch of people you don't even know? I wouldn’t, but that’s what he does. That’s what he is.”
Ben and Amy rocked back in surprise and glanced at each other, considering this new information, but Markus waved it away. “All I know is that you still haven’t told us what happened, how he managed to hold up a plane in his mind and why he’s out like that now. You’re just trying to distract us from the truth.”
Will glanced at David, clearly unwilling to talk about it. He dragged both hands down over his face before replying. “It’s really his business, and it’s not right that I tell you what's his. But,” and he held up a hand to keep Markus from interrupting him, “you deserve to know, at least the basics.” Markus nodded at him, barely concealing his interest. “He’s psychic, but from what I understand, the more he tries to use it, the less control he has over it and the more it damages his own mind. He's been able to recover from the damage before, but he doesn't know if it might permanently damage him or kill him. He doesn’t use it because of that.”
“What do you mean, the less control he has over it?" asked Ben. "Does that mean that he could accidentally hurt someone with it?”
With reluctance, Will nodded in affirmation. “I believe so. You felt that stabbing pain in your head, whilst he was holding up that aeroplane? That was his pain. A bit of it got away from him."
“Aha!” Markus punched the air. “I told you!” He spun on Ben and Amy, who stared at David, shocked. “See? He is dangerous!”
“Anyone has that capability, Markus,” Ben cut in. “Given the right circumstances and reasons, you might kill someone. You can’t punish a man for something he might do, especially if he’s given no indication that he will.”
“He could kill us en masse. He just had to drop that plane!”
“And I could set off a bomb that could level a skyscraper,” Ben spat right back at him. “Does that make me a murderer right now?”
Will leaned forward, beseeching Markus to calm down. “I know exactly what you’re thinking, mate. You’re scared, because of what he can do, and you feel betrayed, because you feel that his not being human is so important that he should have told you. I know this because I felt exactly the same way when I found out, and I actually walked out on him when he needed me. I’m not asking you to accept him, or even continue being his friend if you don’t want to. I’m asking you to leave him alone. Let him live his life here on Earth, just like everyone else.”
Glaring at Will, Markus clenched his fists a few times, then whirled and stalked off into the entrance hall of the room to fume. Will shrugged and sat back against the headboard.
“Well,” Ben stated, “I, for one, am willing to keep an open mind for now. I don’t know what to think about him, but there’s a lot of people who didn’t die today because of him.” Sitting down in the armchair, he crossed his arms, resigned to wait as the alien recovered.
“Thank you, Ben.”
Amy sat down on the foot of the bed and, pulling her legs up, mused on what she’d just heard. Silence settled in the room, broken only by the soft rattle of David’s breathing. Will knew he hadn’t convinced Markus of anything, but he hoped that he would calm down and his reason would prevail before he did something stupid. What else could he say to convince him that David intended no harm? But intention was not the only thing that Markus was concerned with. He feared the things David didn’t intend to do. And Will could not admit to his friends that David himself had said that he had greater responsibilities than to the Earth and may need to act against the interests of the human race. The thought of such a possible situation chilled his soul, and he suppressed an overt shiver.
After a number of minutes of ignoring each other, Amy jumped up and found the television's remote control and flicked it on. They were immediately assaulted by scenes of devastation, news reports on the masses of cardiac arrests, many of which had been fatal before they had been inexplicably reversed, and the numerous casualties caused when the arrests came whilst their victims were doing otherwise safe activities. Streets and highways were clogged by pile-ups, hampering emergency services which were already inadequate to handle such needs. Reports were coming in about similar events from all over the world; Britain wasn't the only victim of the cubes' attacks. The news anchors pleaded with their viewers to stay calm and to expect lengthy delays in response to any calls for assistance.
"Oh my god. I didn't realise..." Amy murmured, then rushed to the hotel phone, trying to call out. After a few tries, she shook her head and dropped receiver back in the cradle, retreating back to sit on the bed. "Completely tied up. I hope my parents are okay."
Ben strode over and gave her a companionable hug. "I'm sure they're fine, Amy." She turned to nestle into his chest, and he stroked her hair as she tried not to cry. Markus stepped over and punched the button on the remote control to shut off the ongoing disaster reports, and silence fell over the room again.
A bit later, Will was still lost in his own thoughts when the man next to him moaned and stirred. He sat up, looming over David, ready to help in any way he could. Ben jumped up from his chair, Amy spun on the bed, and Markus turned to watch, though he remained in the hallway. David’s eyes creaked open, and he gazed around the room in a glassy daze. “Where?” The breathy word was barely intelligible.
With a faint smile, Will leaned in and murmured quietly, “My suite. You're up too early, mate. How are you feeling?"
David blinked at Will, only partly comprehending what he had said. "Thick." He shifted under the covers, then gazed up at Will through foggy eyes, struggling to find words. "Did...?"
"Yes.." He patted his friend on the shoulder. "You did it, mate."
"Almost... d-... If... if..." He trailed off.
"Never mind that. It's not important, what might have been."
Will knew his friend well enough to be able to tell what he wanted to know. "The heart attacks stopped. People started recovering. We saw them getting up whilst we were bringing you here."
Screwing his face up in concentration, David tried to parse through what Will had said. After a minute or so, a faint smile played across his lips. "Doctor."
"Aye." Under the blanket, he waved a hand indistinctly near his pocket. "Sorted."
Will nodded. "He did. There's just the clean-up now. A lot of it."
"People died of those heart attacks or got hurt as a result. Like the plane. All over the world. It's chaos out there right now."
"What?" Shocked by the news, David jerked upright, only to sway and topple, Will catching him before he fell over completely. "I... help..."
Will guided him into lying back down. "You're not going anywhere, mate. You're in no shape at all. You've a bit more recovery to do."
"You can't even sit up on your own. You'd be no use out there."
Rubbing his head with a hand, David grimaced, trying to force his mind to work, then sighed and glanced around the room. Ben stood behind Amy, his hand resting on her shoulder, both of them watching him carefully. Markus stood in the shadow of the hallway, his arms crossed over his chest. Running his tongue over his lips, the alien looked up at Will. "Still... friends." He seemed surprised at the coherence of his phrase.
"You have me, at least, mate."
Brave Amy was the first to speak to the alien. "Why didn't you tell us?"
"Yeah!" Markus cut in. "Why? Unless there's some reason you really need to hide?" His implication was clear to the humans, at least, and glaring at him, Amy stepped away.
Slowly pushing himself up to sit, David settled himself against the headboard with Will's help before replying. His speech was halting, words slowly popping out as he unearthed them from the mire in his mind. "Afraid... Me... You... Without..." and he waved a hand at the chaos outside the window, "I live." He groaned and smashed his palm into his forehead. “Can’t think.”
Will jumped up from the bed. “I’ll make some tea. You need to heal, mate.”
David grinned. “I know. Don’t like.” His friend smiled back and went off to put the kettle on.
Striding forward, Markus emerged from the hallway and stood directly in front of David, at the foot of the bed. “Look, I’m just going to come out and say what everyone’s thinking. We don’t trust you, and we don’t want you here. Earth is for humans, not -”
“Whoa, whoa!” Ben cut him off. “You don’t speak for me. In fact, I think you’re speaking only for yourself here.”
Taken aback, Markus gaped at Ben before replying. “You actually believe anything he says? After he’s been lying to us for the past two years?”
“I don’t know. Has he been lying? He chose not to tell us something, and that’s not lying. But I think Will has the right of it. I don’t see why I should think he’s any different than he has been, and he’s been a good bloke all along.” Frowning at Markus, he shook his head. “The person I don’t understand is you. He saved your life! There’s a good chance you’d be dead right now if he hadn’t figured out how to stop your heart attack. I’d think you’d be the first person to defend him.”
“He even saved your life at the cost of his anonymity,” Amy pointed out. “You just don’t want to think that you owe your life to an alien, do you?”
Markus drew himself up. “Bollocks! I’m very grateful to him for saving me. But that doesn’t change the fact that he doesn’t belong here.”
Setting her jaw, Amy glared at him. “I think you’re the one who doesn’t belong here.”
David called weakly, “Don’t,” but it was too late. Markus glared at her and set his fists on his hips.
“Are you blind or just incredibly thick? Or maybe mind-controlled by this psychic alien? No, I don’t belong here. And I’m going to do something about this.” Striding past Will, he yanked the door open and stomped out, slamming it behind him.
Amy turned to David, “Don’t worry. He’ll come around. He just needs to calm down.” She didn’t sound very convinced about what she was saying.
“No.” The alien laid his head back on the headboard and stared up at the ceiling.
“We’re, er, we’re not mind-controlled, are we?” Ben sounded like he thought he was barmy for even asking the question.
“I don’t think you could ask the question if you were,” Will commented as he brought David his tea.
David took the proffered cup and drank deep. “Could. Won’t. Ever.” He shrugged.
Will sat down on the bed. “Do you think he’ll go to UNIT?”
“And then what will happen?”
He shrugged. “Don’t know. Ah! Can’t think,” he grumbled.
“Well, mate, you won't have to worry for a while. There's no way he's getting any response from them today. The phones are tied up, the streets are clogged, and I'm sure UNIT has their hands full." Will frowned. “He’ll tell everyone else, though.”
“Who believe?” He glanced up at Ben and Amy. “Thank you.”
"Don't thank me." Ben sat down in the armchair. "I really don't get what's going on, and I don't really trust you, but I don't not trust you either."
David nodded. "Fair."
Pursing her lips in determination, Amy sat down on the foot of the bed. “I know you’re not well yet, but you have to tell us. Will's told us some things, but not enough to make sense. I want to know why you're here, what you want, why we should believe you.”
David's blank stare indicated that whilst he barely understood a word she said, he knew what she was asking. He waved a clumsy hand at his head. “Want to, but... Can’t.”
"Well," Ben replied, "It's not like we're going anywhere. We're better off staying safe inside."
David nodded and turned back to Amy. "Later. Promise."
She bit her lip. "All right."
The alien smiled, then sat back. "Will, telly?"
"You sure, mate? It's not good."
Will strode over and, grabbing the remote, flipped on the television. The scenes of disaster entranced the four, and they watched the footage of the struggles outside their door in grim silence broken only by the sounds from the telly and of David clumsily drinking his tea. The situation hadn't improved much, though it seemed that the true emergencies were the collateral events that occurred because of the cardiac arrests; the victims of the arrests themselves were by now either dead or recovered enough to not require assistance. The journalists attempted to speculate on the cause, but it was just that: speculation. The governments of the world, if they knew what had happened, were keeping silent.
As they watched, Will glanced periodically at David, to see his reaction. The alien stared impassively at the television, his incessant fiddling with the teacup in his hands the only betrayal of his emotional state. He never moved or glanced away, even for a moment. Will wondered what was going on inside his friend's head.
"Not all of the reports coming in have been bad." The change in tone caught Will's attention. "Here is viewer footage of British Airways flight 517 over Twickenham over two hours ago." The screen showed an out-of-control aeroplane listing and starting to lose altitude.
"Oh my god, that's it!" exclaimed Amy.
"The film clearly shows the aircraft becoming still in the air and recovering its level. It then floated away beyond the camera's view field, and according to reports, it touched down in a park, damaging a nearby residence. Three people on board died from cardiac arrest, but the other sixty-two were unhurt, and there were no casualties on the ground. There has been no explanation found for this strange phenomenon."
Will reached over and tapped David's shoulder with a fist. "There, you see, mate? You did it."
"That was bloody brilliant," Ben agreed.
David's lips curved in a shy smile and he ducked his head. "Maybe. Wish I could have done more. If I could just... How many people on that street died?"
"Don't think like that, mate. You of all people should know you can't worry about what might have happened."
"No, you're right, I can't. But what did happen? It doesn't make sense." He scratched at his chin as he thought. "Why kill only some people? Those cubes were everywhere, so why didn't they kill all of us? Why wait a year? Why make a countdown? Was this some kind of invasion? If so, why didn't they attack when so much of the population was down? Or now, whilst we're in chaos? If this wasn't an invasion, then what was the purpose of it all?"
"Slow down, mate. You're obviously feeling better."
"I am." Drawing his knees up to his chest, he folded his arms on them and rested his chin on the backs of his hands. "I just need to know why. Why is this planet such a magnet for alien disaster?"
"Maybe the Doctor will tell you."
"I can only hope. Which reminds me." Uncurling, he dug his pendant and his mobile out of his pockets. Placing the former on a pillow, he began fixing the chain with the latter.
"Who is this Doctor person?" asked Amy.
"A friend. One of the many things I promised to tell you. Let me just finish this." It took him less than a minute to fix the chain, and as he hooked the necklace around his neck, the pained oppression in his eyes told Will how much he had treasured the few hours' worth of mental freedom he'd enjoyed. David nodded slowly as he tested the device, then smiled at Ben and Amy. "Thanks. Now, where to start?" Dropping his mobile in his pocket, he tugged at his ear as he composed his thoughts.
"There's this man called the Doctor. That's the name he chose. He's a Time Lord from a planet called Gallifrey. He travels all over the universe, through time and space, righting wrongs, protecting the oppressed, all that storybook stuff, and he loves Earth and humans." He shrugged. "Quite a number of years ago, he created me, a sort of a human clone of himself. I grew up in Scotland and I didn't find out until a couple of years ago where I really came from. Since then, through some complex and, to be totally honest, unbelievable circumstances, I was changed from human into something nearly Time Lord. The Doctor helped me, trained me, taught me about my true heritage, and now I'm living here while I build my spaceship, so that I can travel the universe and find a place for myself.”
His narration was shorter than Will had expected; what David had told him in detail over an entire evening, David had severely abridged for Ben and Amy while still hitting all the salient points. He omitted a number of the more unbelievable twists, such as his original life in a completely different universe and the reason why the Doctor had created him, but they weren't truly important to what Ben and Amy needed to know. Will wondered if he’d been as confused and awed by the convoluted story as they were, judging from their expressions. Probably more, as what David had told him that night was far more impossible than the simplified tale he told here.
“And that’s it.” David jumped up out of the bed and strode around the room, shaking out his long limbs. “I'm both human and alien, and I’m here only because I need a home for a few years. I’m not trying to hide, or deceive you, and I certainly don’t mean anyone any harm. I’m just trying to live.” Turning toward them, he shrugged. “I don’t know how much of it all you believe, but it’s all true. And I don’t blame you if you don’t believe a lick of it.” He glanced away, staring off into a corner of the room.
"That's quite a tale," Ben finally said, more to say something than because he truly had something to say. "I don't know what to make of it."
"And Will's known this all this time?" asked Amy.
"I told you," Will piped up, "David told me all of this on the day the rhinos invaded. You don't know, but he saved us all from being killed by those things, saved the planet from being destroyed -"
"No, Will," David interrupted, shaking a finger at him, "you are the one that saved us, when you figured out where the fission device was hidden."
"I helped, yes, but you're the one who negotiated with them and figured out what they wanted, and then disarmed it at the end." He held a hand up to stop David from interrupting. "I helped, but the credit goes to you." He turned back to Ben and Amy. "The least I could do to thank him was to keep his secrets."
Ben shuffled uncomfortably. "I don't know. You're an alien. How do I know you're telling the truth? I can't trust myself to judge that properly."
"Well," and Amy crossed her arms, "I trust David." She turned to face the alien, and he regarded her with a shade of disbelief in his eyes. "I do. You've always been a good friend, and I think actions speak louder than words. You've never once been hurtful to me, and you were willing to expose yourself to save people's lives out there. That's good enough for me. I'll keep your secrets."
David responded with a sad smile. "Thank you, Amy."
Ben nodded slowly. "I think you're right, Amy. Yes, you are. I can't say that I won't be wary, that having an alien among us isn't going to be weird, but you're a good man and I can accept that."
David nodded. "I appreciate it, both of you. I'm grateful to have such good friends. I wish, however, that it mattered at all." David held up a hand at the surprised frowns of his three friends. "The problem isn't you. The problem is Markus. He'll take the first opportunity he gets to report me to UNIT, or perhaps to a more unsavoury alien defense group, and my life won't be mine anymore. At best, they'll think I'm the Doctor, and either way, they'll definitely want to watch my every move." Rubbing his hands down his face, he was clearly unwilling to say the next thing. "I'm going to have to leave, first moment I can."
"You don't have to, mate."
David smiled at the concern in Will's protest. "Yes, I do. Once they find me, at best, I'll be living under surveillance, and at worst, I'll be taken. It's probably my Time Lord pride speaking, but I refuse to live like that."
"Isn't there anything we can do to help you?" Amy asked.
David shook his head sadly. "You've already done too much. Will here will probably be put on some watch list, because he's way too close. I'm so sorry, Will."
"Don't mention it, David. I will never give you up to them."
"I know." David turned to Ben and Amy. "Your best bet is to meet up with Markus tomorrow and convince him that you're on his side, and go to UNIT with him. That way, they won't suspect that you have a connection to me."
"No way." Ben shook his head. "Whatever doubts I might have, I won't join in his xenophobia. I can at least take that stand."
"Me, too," Amy agreed.
David's smile shone with gratitude. "Thank you." He clapped his hands. "Well, I should get moving."
"Already?" Will swallowed his fear of his friend's imminent departure. "There's no way you can get out of the city right now. Not for a couple of days at least."
"No, I can't. But the sooner I cut my ties, the less they can harass you about me." Tugging on an ear, he stared at a picture on the wall as he planned. "I'll head north the moment the roads are clear enough, secure the house, and head out. Oh, the Doctor is not going to like UNIT knowing that he owns that house."
"Where will you go? Are you staying in England at least? Or on the planet?"
"I don't know. I think if I stay on Earth, they'll find me, but I don't know where else to go yet." He shrugged. "I'll figure it out. And anyway, the less you know, the better."
Will's voice caught in his throat and he coughed. "Will I ever see you again?"
David smiled. "If I live."
Will glared at him. "Don't talk like that, mate. You better come back, and I expect you to tell me all your adventures. I want to know what it's like out there."
"I'll come back as soon as I have a story to tell." David thrust a hand at Will, and his friend grasped it firmly. "Thank you, Will, for everything."
Will pulled his friend into a tight hug, clapping him on the back. As they stepped back from each other, he swallowed against the tightness in his chest. "Just shut up and go, mate. Don't get caught."
David patted him on the shoulder, then stepped back. Flashing a smile at Ben and Amy, he grabbed his jacket from the armchair and disappeared into the corridor, letting the door slam behind him.
The three friends stood staring at the door for a while. Finally, Amy plopped down on the bed. "How cruel is this universe, that it rewards a man who does a good, courageous, noble thing by tearing his life apart?" Declining to reply, Will walked over to the window and stared out at the clogged, chaotic street below.
"That's just the way of it, isn't it? Fear and ignorance rules." Ben replied. "Oh, Markus. I hope that someday you realise what you've done to the man who saved your life."
"Well, he hasn't done it yet." Amy sighed. "I'll try my best to persuade him to just let David be. There's got to be a reasonable Markus underneath there somewhere."
"Save your breath," Ben grunted. "Even if Markus agrees to shut up, David's gone already." He patted his dead mobile in his pocket and shrugged.
"We have until he heads home, don't we? We've got to try."
"There he goes." Will's quiet words drew the other two to the window. Down on the street, the alien was picking his way through the mess, searching for opportunities to help and reassuring people as best as he could. Most of the immediate danger was over, with the people who still needed medical attention removed from the street into nearby buildings, so he threw his shoulder into helping push cars onto the sidewalks to open the road.
Ben shook his head. "I don't think I'd be out there if someone had just proved to me how unwelcome I am."
Will shrugged. "That's just what he does." He spun back to the room. "I can't watch that anymore."
"I'm so sorry, Will." Amy stepped over and threw her arms around him. He squeezed her as she patted him on the back, then drew away.
"Thanks, Amy." Grabbing the remote control, he flicked the television back on and dropped onto the bed to watch the continuing news reports, his eyes sad and empty.