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. As they neared the hotel, the cubes emitted electrical pulses toward the victims. The luckier or hardier ones sat up almost immediately, testing themselves with disbelief, whilst others took time to gain consciousness. However, for every surviving victim, 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.
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 lift. 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 and the burnt patches were starting to fade. 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 to help tend the unconscious man, 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 enslave mankind?" Stopping short, he turned to stare at the unconscious 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 bloke, but no, he's an alien! You saw what he did! He lived through getting hit by those cubes, twice!"
"What?" Will stared at David as if somehow, the man he was looking at was different from the one Markus saw. "He almost died! He only survived because he prepped your phone beforehand."
Markus flared with new outrage. "He had no right to take my phone! Give that back!"
Rolling his eyes, Will pulled the two phones from his pocket and, identifying David's, handed the other to Markus, who immediately inspected it, punching its activation button. "It's not working!"
"No." Will patted his own pocket. "Triggering the electrical charge bricks it. Mine's dead, too. You know, the one that saved your life," he drawled with heavy sarcasm.
Markus peered up at Will, glowering. "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." Throwing his hands up, he whirled away. "He made that cube explode! How did he know it wasn't going to kill everyone else on that street?" Spinning back to Will, he jabbed a finger at David. "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 barked a sad, ironic laugh.
"Don't laugh at me!" Markus growled.
"I'm not," Will replied, shaking his head. "I'm laughing at myself." He threw the bloodied towel across the room onto the kitchen counter.
Markus startled at slow laughter coming from an unexpected quarter. “What now?” he shot at Ben, who mopped at his eyes as he shook his head.
“He’s an alien. David’s an alien!” Ben repeated to himself. “That explains everything!”
“What?” asked Markus, clearly puzzled.
“Mr. Know-It-All. You don’t know him barely at all, Markus, but me… We’ve been mates for a bit now. Loves a good argument, he does, I’m sure because he knows he’s going to win. Arrogant bastard,” he spat the man in the bed, his expression laced with suspicion and jealousy. He glanced up at Will. "How long have you known?"
"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. This is all unbelievable, but come on. Stage an invasion just to make him reveal to Will that 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 her. “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.
"A Time Lord," Will repeated, then 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 risked his life to save yours and everyone's on that street." 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. “I don’t know what he is, what he wants. I know, he’s always been a nice guy, but… Why’s he here? What does he want with us? And he survived all that lightning. I mean, that stuff he did, and now look, he hasn't got a mark on him.” Unable to contain her agitation, she jumped up and paced around the room. “All these aliens running around now, and they’re so powerful. Those mind controllers on that one Christmas. Those robots flying around killing people when those planets appeared in the sky. Those spiky spaceships and that 'prisoner zero' thing.” She turned back to eye Will. “He’s so much more than us, isn’t he? He could kill us all, just like that, 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 to harm us, and honestly, from everything I’ve seen, he goes out of his way to help us." He sat up and faced Markus. "Look at what he just did! He walked up to the cube knowing it might kill him. And 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 did what he did, how he survived that jolt.”
“And what he was doing before that,” added Amy. “He was stopping the cars in the street. How was he doing that?”
Markus nodded at Amy conspiratorily and turned back to Will. “You’re just trying to distract us from the truth.”
“I am doing no such thing. I'm trying to tell you the truth.” Will glanced at David, clearly unsure if he should talk. 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. “Yes, he’s alien and he’s different from us, even though he looks the same. Among other things, he’s got two hearts, so he took the chance that the cube would only stop one of them and that he could survive on only the remaining one.” Amy gasped, and Ben slapped a hand to his mouth in horror. “I’ve no idea what he did to make that cube fire again, but yes, he does have advanced technology. His mobile is something he calls a sonic probe, and I think he was using it to shut off the cars on the street to try to stop them.”
“Advanced technology!” Markus nodded knowingly. “I told you!” He spun on Ben and Amy, who were staring at David, trying to understand what Will had just told them. “He’s not human and he’s got advanced technology. He can control anyone’s car with his mobile. Crash it instead of stop it? Who knows what else he can control? 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.”
Markus spun on Ben, his fists perched on his hips. “He’s not a man. He’s an alien, a Time Lord, whatever. He could have taken control of those cars and killed everyone in the street.”
“But he didn't. You’re letting your imagination get away from you, Markus.” Ben thumbed his own chest. “I could set off a bomb that could level a skyscraper. 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 he’s alien and 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, deceiving us all this time about who he is, 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, flicking 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 the 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 alive, mate. How are you feeling?"
“I ache. All over. And my head...” He groaned.
“I bet. Honestly, I’m surprised you survived that jolt.”
“I’m hardier than I look.” He gazed up at Will through foggy eyes. “Did it work?”
Will grinned. “Like a charm. There were probably thirty people on that street that owe their lives to you.”
David’s smile was feeble and chill. “So many died.”
“You can’t think like that, mate. Think about how many lived.”
“Yeah. I'm trying. And...?" He looked up at his friend with hope.
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 the cubes reverse what they did whilst we were bringing you here."
“Good." He closed his eyes. "The Doctor must have sorted it.”
"Aye." Under the blanket, he waved a hand indistinctly near his pocket. "I can hear him.”
Will nodded. "So that’s why it ended. There's just the clean-up now. A lot of it."
"Eh?" David's eyes popped open, the focus returning to them.
"People died of those heart attacks or got hurt as a result. All over the world. It's chaos out there right now."
"What?" Shocked by the news, David jerked upright, only to sway dizzily, Will catching him before he fell over completely. He pushed against his friend’s assistance. “I need to get out there.”
Will guided him into lying back down. "You're not going anywhere, mate. You're in no shape at all. You'd be no use out there."
David inhaled to protest, then thought better of it, relaxing with a resigned sigh. “You're right. I can barely think. Thanks for taking care of me. It’s nice to have friends.” He smiled at everyone around him.
Ben stood behind Amy, his hand resting on her shoulder, both of them watching him carefully. Markus hid in the shadow of the hallway, his arms crossed over his chest. Will glanced at Markus, then turned back to David. "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, at least to the humans, and glaring at him, Amy sidled away.
Pushing himself up to sit, David settled himself against the headboard before replying. "Because I knew how hard it would be, for you to believe that I'm not anything special or dangerous. Because I just wanted to live out my time on Earth in peace. Without this," and he waved a hand at the chaos outside the window, "I would have."
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?”
“Has he been lying?" Amy threw out at him. "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, she shook her 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,” Ben 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!"
"I don't hear you thanking him!" Amy spat back.
Turning to David, Markus executed an exaggerated bow and scrape. "Thank you for saving my life, Lord David," he pronounced, each word oily and sarcastic. He glared back at Amy. "But that doesn’t change the fact that he doesn’t belong here.”
Setting her jaw, Amy stared right back. “I think you’re the one who doesn’t belong here.”
David called, “Don’t,” but it was too late. Markus drew himself up, his arms akimbo.
“Are you blind or just incredibly thick? You trust him? You're siding with the alien against your own race? You're right, I don’t belong here. And I’m going to do something about this.” Whirling and striding away, 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, he won't.” The alien laid his head back on the headboard and stared up at the ceiling.
Will stood up and crossed the room to the wardrobe, speaking as he dug among his things in the drawer at the bottom. “Do you think he’ll go to UNIT?” He pulled out a jumper and brought it to David.
“Thanks.” Accepting it, he pulled it over his head and threaded his arms into the sleeves as he murmured, “Yeah, he will.”
“And then what will happen?”
"It all depends on what he tells them. But whatever he says, I'm sure they'll check it out, and when they find me, well..." He shrugged.
“Well, mate, you won't have to worry for a bit.” Will patted his shoulder, trying to comfort him. “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."
"Yeah, I have that, at least." David frowned at the window. "But what did happen? What was that all about? 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 of his pocket and gestured for Will to return his mobile. Placing the former on a pillow, he began fixing the chain with the latter.
"Who is this Doctor person?" asked Amy.
"A friend," answered David. "Someone who's far more competent at this kind of thing than I." Will could see him swallowing his disappointment in himself, and he stepped back to the bed to place a comforting hand on his friend's shoulder.
"Hey, don't be like that. You saved a lot of lives out there."
David bowed his head over the necklace, hiding his face. "I know. I just wish I could have done more."
"Yeah. I know."
Ben cleared his throat. "I'm sorry. This might not be the time, but you have to tell us what's going on. Markus might be out of line, but he's right: we've waited long enough, and we deserve the truth."
"Yeah. You do. You're my friends and you deserve to know, especially after all of this. 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 hour's 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?" He stuffed his mobile in his pocket, then 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. "That's the truth and probably as accurate a description of him as I can offer.
"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 leave Earth 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 a created life form, both human and alien, and I’m here only because I need a home for a few years. I’m not trying to 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. 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? How can I tell that you’re anything like the friend I thought you were? I can't trust myself to judge that properly."
David shifted uncomfortably, but looked squarely in Ben’s eyes as he replied. “Trust, once betrayed, is difficult to rebuild, and I know you may never trust me again. It’s the risk I took when I kept silent on this, and I understand and accept the consequences.”
"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 did everything you could to save people's lives out there, including revealing yourself and willingly risking your own life. 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 bloke 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 even think about it, David. I'd 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. I don't even know where the, er, my spaceship will be able to take me." 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 it and go, mate. Don't get caught."
David patted him on the shoulder, then stepped back. Flashing a smile at Ben and Amy, he strode away and disappeared into the hallway, 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. I think he enjoys being useful." 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.