Unfinished Business, Doctor Who, Dr. Who, Chris Eccleston, Christopher Eccleston, Doctor who Fiction

“Doctor!” Rory exclaimed as he half-ran, half-tumbled down the internal TARDIS stairs, closely followed by Amy who kept her balance only by hanging onto the railing. “Can you TRY to drive this old heap in a straight line?”

“Old heap!” The Doctor was indignant as he frantically tackled the navigation drive. “You are talking about the greatest technology in the universe. And I don’t drive it, I pilot it.”

“It pilots you, I think,” Amy replied. She reached out and pulled a switch. The TARDIS steadied immediately.

“What did you do?” The Doctor demanded. “What did you press?”

“That one,” Amy answered. “It’s the internal gyroscope. It stops the TARDIS from bucking around like mad.”

“How do you know how to initiate the internal gyroscope?” The Doctor asked, looking distinctly miffed.

Amy gave him a look.

“SHE showed you how to operate MY TARDIS!”

“I don’t know why you’re so defensive about it,” Rory told him. “I mean, if River knows more than you do about TARDIS piloting….”

“She DOESN’T,” The Doctor replied. “She knows a few BITS. I know how the TARDIS works, how she feels. I understand her. And she understands me.”

“It’s a smoother ride now, anyway,” Amy pointed out.

“That’s hardly the point,” The Doctor said.

“Actually, I think it’s completely the point,” Rory said in defence of his wife. “Where are we, anyway?”

“In the vortex, still,” The Doctor answered him. “The vortex isn’t anywhere. It’s everywhere and nowhere and every time and no time. It’s….”

The Doctor looked up at the large round viewscreen. They weren’t in the vortex. They didn’t seem to be anywhere at all. Outside was nothing but a white mist.

“That’s not right,” The Doctor said. “We’re still moving. The instruments all say we’re travelling through the vortex, and the time rotor is still going up and down.”

“No, it isn’t,” Rory pointed out. “It just stopped.”

The Doctor looked at the time rotor and then at the instruments in front of him.

“We’ve landed.”

“But where?” Amy asked. “Is it foggy?”

“We’re… I don’t know,” The Doctor admitted. “The TARDIS isn’t sure where we are. It’s… guessing.”

“Guessing? Can the TARDIS guess?” Rory asked. “What’s her guess?”

“She says we’re in the Musée D’Orsay,” The Doctor answered. “But she also says we’re not in Paris, or even on Earth. So I think her guess is wrong.”

“Must be,” Amy added. “After all, she’s been to the D’Orsay. She knows what it looks like… What am I saying? SHE is a box. How can she know what anything looks like?”

“Well, wherever we are, there’s gravity and breathable atmosphere,” Rory confirmed. “I suppose we COULD go out and see where we are?”

“You have no idea how much trouble I’ve got into over the past millennia from ideas like that,” The Doctor told him. His face was split by one of his widest grins. “Come on, then!”

He literally bounced towards the door. Even though it was his suggestion, Rory was caught on the hop. But he and Amy followed quickly. They stopped outside the TARDIS door and stared at what immediately qualified as the oddest place they had visited even with The Doctor.

“But it’s….” Amy started to say. She stopped. She wasn’t quite sure what it was. There were all the elements of an art gallery here. There were pictures, there were pieces of sculpture and leather padded seats for viewing the pictures.

What it didn’t have was an actual gallery.

There was no room, no walls, no ceiling, no floor that they could see. They were walking on something but it was hidden beneath a layer of that strange white mist they had seen on the TARDIS screen. When they tried to look where the walls ought to be all they could see was more of that mist.

“Well, that’s interesting,” The Doctor said. “It’s a Conceptual Room.”

“A what?” Rory asked, because one of them had to.

“A Conceptual Room. The concept… the idea… of a room, without actually being a room.”

“A room in the Musée D’Orsay,” Amy pointed out. “These paintings are all from there. Doctor, do you remember when we went to see the Van Gogh exhibition. These paintings were there, too.”

“Yes, they were,” The Doctor agreed. “Not all in the same galleries, though. There are different artists represented here, Cézanne, Degas, Gaugin, Monet, Manet, Millet. You’d have to walk around the D’Orsay for a couple of hours to see all of these.”

“We didn’t really get to look at the other artists properly when we took Vincent to see his paintings,” Amy recalled.

Rory said nothing. The Doctor and Amy were talking about things that occurred when he wasn’t with them – in that strange time when he had been wiped out of Amy’s memory. For that time, Amy had travelled alone with The Doctor. They had been close friends. Sometimes Rory wondered how close and pangs of jealousy troubled him.

He moved among the paintings that were suspended from nothing, looking closely at them, trying to look like somebody who appreciated art all the time. He tried not to appreciate the nudes too closely. Amy had a ‘look’ that he didn’t want turned on him, but there were plenty of panoramic scenes and still life pictures of fruit and flowers, and both men and women in respectable states of dress.

One picture attracted his attention because it seemed to be all three kinds of painting at once. There was a landscape in the background, trees in the foreground, and a woman in a pink dress in the centre of it all.

“Frédéric Bazille,” he murmured, reading the information plaque that hung in the air beside the canvas. “La Robe Rosé.” He didn’t need the TARDIS translating the French to know that meant ‘The Pink Dress’. That perk of TARDIS travel was useful though to read the rest of the panel and learn that Bazille lived a very short life from 1841 to 1870 and enjoyed painting a combination of portraits and landscapes in the open air where the play of natural light on his subjects was a chief fascination and the reason why his pictures were admired.

“Nice,” Rory added to himself. Then, for reasons he couldn’t fully explain, he reached out to touch the painting. If he really was in the Musée D’Orsay in Paris, that would probably be the point when a proximity alarm went off and three or four men in uniforms would rush towards him, shouting in French.

Here, in this odd, impossible place, he just found himself sucked into the picture.

“Huh?” He looked around, aware first of all that he was warm. Bright sunshine bathed the terrace where he was standing. There was a pleasant scent of pine trees and bread baking somewhere close by. Beyond the terrace was a pretty landscape, a village of mostly white-walled buildings with orange tiles.

There was a woman in a pink dress sitting on the wall of the terrace with her back to him. She hadn’t seen him yet.

He turned, hoping to see some kind of portal back through to the strange art gallery, perhaps a picture frame hanging in mid-air with an image of The Doctor and Amy looking for him.

There was nothing like that.

“Umm… hello,” he said to the woman. She turned her head in surprise.

“Oh, are you one of cousin Frederic’s artist friends?” she asked.

“Er… sort of,” he answered. “You’re….”

“I am Thérèse,” she answered him.

“Rory,” Rory said. “Yes… a friend of your cousin, sort of,” he added. He couldn’t think of any other reason why he would be there on the terrace of a private house. “Frederic… isn’t around at the moment, is he?”

“He’s gone to buy more paint,” Thérèse replied. “He won’t trust anyone else to do that for him. He’s terribly particular about that kind of thing. He wants to paint me out here on the terrace, with Castelnau in the background.”

Rory stepped up to the wall and looked at the village. He realised that he could see far more now than he did when he was looking at the picture. There was a river below that curved around the small hill where the houses and church and merchants shops had been built. It looked utterly charming.

It all looked real. The painting wasn’t one of those really fuzzy impressionists like those Water Lilies by Monet or Manet, whichever it was, but it was very clearly a painting. He could see the brush strokes on the lady’s dress and the blobs that made up the texture of the tiled roofs.

But he was standing, now, in the real place. The terrace was real. He touched the wall and felt the rough surface of stone that had been warmed by the sun. The lady was real. She had a proper face, a pretty face.

In the painting, she was facing away, looking out over the village. All that could be seen was the back of her head with her hair neatly caught up in what Rory thought might be called a snood, though he was far from an expert on such things.

He was the first person to see her face in something like a hundred and fifty years. He felt curiously privileged.

“I’d… better be going,” he said. “I’ll leave you in peace.”

“No, please,” she answered him. “Do sit and talk for a little. You seem a little different from Frederic’s usual artist friends. You’re not French?”

He sat down on the wall, facing her.

“English,” he said. “From a little place called Leadworth. You’ve never heard of it. I’ve barely heard of it and I come from there.”

She laughed. Rory never thought of himself as somebody who could make people laugh before. He liked the idea.

“And you’re an artist.”

“Well… not exactly. I… dabble. I’m… a….”

The painting was dated 1862. They didn’t have male nurses then. They only just had nurses as a profession.

“I’m a doctor,” he said, choosing the closest lie to the truth.

“Oh, so you must know Frederic from his medical studies. He never finished his training. He cared more about painting. His parents are disappointed by him, but I think you have to follow your heart, don’t you?”

Rory wondered what his parents would have thought if he’d dropped his nursing studies to paint girls in pink dresses. Then again, he had followed his heart when he got on board the TARDIS with The Doctor and Amy. Yes, he could understand that.

“Do you follow your heart?” Rory asked.

“I… don’t really have any ambitions,” she answered. “I expect I will marry. That is what my mother talks about.”

“Marry who?”

“I don’t know. Whoever is suitable.”

Only men got to follow their hearts in the 1860s, Rory noted. There was a lesson in that, perhaps.

“Are you… allowed to go out on your own? I mean… with a respectable professional man? I’d like to see the village down there. Would you accompany me?”

He wasn’t sure why he asked. The village was rather pretty from this distance, but the streets were probably narrow, a bit smelly – would mains drains have come to rural France in this time? He had no particular interest in a place he had never even heard of until he saw the painting. And he should be looking for a way back to the gallery, to Amy and The Doctor.

Maybe there was a way back in the village, he told himself. It was an excuse for going there with Thérèse, but not a very good one.

But the idea appealed to her. She smiled brightly and said that she would get her wrap.

Amy lost sight of both The Doctor and Rory as she wandered around the strange place. She didn’t worry about that, though. When she looked back she could see a patch of blue against the white – the TARDIS. As long as she could still see the TARDIS, that was all right.

She was enjoying the pictures. She wasn’t the most culturally aware person in the world, but she liked looking at paintings. She was pretty much an expert on Vincent Van Gogh, and these were all more or less from the same century as he was, by artists who were interested in many of the same aspects of painting, especially the use of colour and texture to create impressions of the reality before them.

She stopped to look closely at a picture that caught her attention. It was a busy scene with nine figures in it and lots of detail of their environment. The information panel hovering next to it said that it was called Musique. Amy was pleased with that. The one thing she knew she really didn’t like was obscure and clever titles that bore only a vague connection to what was in the painting.

It was a group of people in a room, playing or listening to, music. They looked like late Victorians or Edwardians. Amy was quite proud to know the difference. That came from thoroughly exploring the Wardrobe. There were all kinds of dresses for all kinds of occasions and every time period in there.

She was curious. What sort of music would they be playing? This was before any kind of recorded music existed, even gramophone records as her grandfather used to call them. It was long before any kind of pop music that she would know. They looked rather earnest. The people on the piano and the lady beside them with the violin were probably playing something classical.

She didn’t know very much about classical music - a bit of ‘musical appreciation’ at school and the Last Night of the Proms - that was about it. But she wasn’t totally thick. She understood what it was supposed to be about.

She wasn’t a person who usually misbehaved in art galleries. Touching the art would be a dreadful thing to do. But something made her reach out towards it.

“Sit down, girl, and hush,” said the grey haired woman in the black and white striped blouse and black skirt who was sitting on the right of the painting. Amy looked around. She realised that she had somehow been sucked into the scene. Stranger things than that had happened since she met The Doctor, so she didn’t worry too much. She was a little disturbed not to see an obvious way back to the art gallery behind her. There was a big window through which bright sunlight bathed those music appreciators sitting closest to it, including the young woman in brown velvet and the even younger woman in white holding a fan.

She sat down next to those two women. As she did, she noticed that she was dressed like them. A long skirt of some kind of red fabric rustled loudly as she sat and caused the grey-haired woman to look severely at her again.

It was classical music. She had no idea what it was. It wasn’t anything she knew from the Proms, anyway. But it was pleasant enough to sit and listen to for a little while.

She glanced around the room, noting that it was a real place, and the people were real. In the painting, even the faces of the people in the foreground were vague, just light and shadow. The people in the background hardly had any distinguishable features at all. But this was real. The people were real. The woman in the white dress was a red head like she was. She was wearing pale face powder, but it didn’t quite disguise the fact that she was freckled. She looked like the youngest of the group, about seventeen or eighteen. She was facing away from the musicians, but she looked as if she was interested in the music, all the same.

The piece of music came to an end. Everyone applauded politely.

“Claire, cherí, won’t you sing, now,” said one of the men in black suits with white shirts and waistcoats who sat on the right. The young woman in white stood hesitantly and stepped closer to the woman with the violin, where she could see the sheet music. The piano players sat quietly this time. The violin played the accompaniment to a song called ‘Believe Me If All Your Endearing Young Charms’ which Claire sang in a high, sweet, clear voice. Amy recognised the song. Her aunt Sharon had a collection of Enya albums. It was on one of those.

Well, that was nice, at least. She was in a French drawing room around 1900, listening to a song that was actually on a CD in her aunt’s house. It wasn’t as strange as it seemed. She was quite enjoying herself, in fact.

At the back of her mind, she had the idea that she ought to be looking for a way back to the gallery, but she felt as if it didn’t matter, yet. There was no rush. She could relax and enjoy herself a bit longer.

The Doctor had wandered for quite a while, enjoying some pleasant reminiscences about the artists he had met in his travels, many of whose work was displayed here. He smiled as he recalled a leisurely visit to the South Sea Islands where he watched Paul Gaugin working on ‘Tahitian Women’. Then there was the lovely summer of 1890 when he hung out on the beach at Saint-Briac with Emile Bernard and his family. Hanging out with Cézanne was a lot of fun, too.

There were the sadder cases like poor old Van Gogh, of course. He looked at one of Vincent’s tortured self portraits and shook his head. Preventing his untimely death would have been a serious breach of those Laws of Time he didn’t dare interfere with even though those who set them in stone were long gone.

He paused to look at a painting by an artist who wasn’t one of his old friends. He didn’t know much about Albert Bartholomé except what was written on the floating information panel next to his painting ‘Dans la Serre’. He looked at the picture and thought it was very nice. The ‘Serre’ – greenhouse to his English speaking companions – was shaded with blinds but there was a splash of sunlight from the open door where a woman had just stepped inside. She was dressed in a finely sculpted Victorian dress of blue and white and wearing a wide brimmed straw hat. Her features had been painted with careful detail, capturing an enigmatic expression that was almost questioning. She had seen something in the greenhouse that she hadn’t expected to see.

“Oops,” he said as he leaned forward and suddenly found himself standing in the greenhouse where the woman’s mouth opened even wider in surprise. “Oh… hello… don’t mind me. I’m The Doctor, and I’m not stopping.”

“You’re… a Doctor?” she asked with a pleasant French accent.

“Not ‘a’,” The Doctor said. “I’m ‘The’ Doctor, the definite article. But really, don’t worry. I have to be on my way.”

He knew there was no point in looking around. There would be no way back into the gallery behind him. He would have to go out through the greenhouse door.

“Does my husband know you’re in our greenhouse?” the woman asked.

“Probably not,” The Doctor replied. “Is he the jealous type? Should I be worried?”

“You are trespassing,” she pointed out.

“Not deliberately, I assure you. Honestly, if you would just step aside, I’ll be gone in a jiffy. Nobody need ever know I was here.”

The woman stepped aside. The Doctor moved cautiously to the door, aware that once he stepped outside the greenhouse he was very nearly beyond the artist’s scope. There was only a very small detail of landscape behind the woman in the picture. Would that prove to be part of a real place that he could move through normally, or would he find himself in some kind of limbo beyond the painted world?

He stepped out into a sun-drenched formal garden beside an elegant white-walled house with a pinkish-red roof. The Doctor held up a finger in the air and smiled.

“Summer in France,” he said. “Very nice.”

Then he turned around and stepped back into the greenhouse.

“Amelia, cherí, would you like to sing, now?” Amy was surprised when the woman with the grey hair addressed her directly.

“Me? But… I….”

“Come, enfant, there is no need to be shy. We are all friends, here. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t perfect, just as long as you join in.”

Amy felt as if she was pressed into the chair by a magnet of nervousness. She could sing a little bit, but not in the same way as Claire had just sung. She wasn’t even sure she got all of the notes right when she sang.

“Oh, please, Amelia,” the pitch perfect Claire begged her. “Please sing for us. Do you have a song from your beautiful Scotland?”

Amy desperately tried not to blush hotly. She remembered her last year at primary school, when the music teacher had decided to have a Scottish theme to the end of term concert and taught them a whole lot of traditional Scottish songs. As the only native born Scot in Leadworth Juniors, she had been put front and centre in the choir and expected to sing the solo introduction to a curious medley that incorporated the songs Amazing Grace, Bonnie Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond and The Skye Boat Song in one five minute long extravaganza. In vain, Amy tried to point out that Amazing Grace wasn’t a Scottish song at all, but written by an English clergyman, and only associated with Scotland because a bagpipe version of it reached the pop charts in 1972. On the night of the concert she was forced to wear a cheap plaid skirt that bore no resemblance to any clan tartan and sing the first verse of Amazing Grace all by herself before the rest of the choir joined in. It had lasted no more than thirty seconds, but it was the worst thirty seconds of her life, including all of the thirty seconds that she had expected to die at the hands of Daleks, Cybermen and assorted nastiness that always turned up around The Doctor.

The results of that experience were twofold. First, she had never sung or let anyone else sing in her hearing any version of Amazing Grace, Loch Lomond or The Skye Boat Song since. Second, every word and every note of all three songs were indelibly etched on her brain and she could have sung the medley standing on her head while drinking a yard of Scots ale if she had to.

She didn’t have to stand on her head and there was no Scots ale in sight. She was offered a sip of water with a dash of lime before she stood beside the piano. It helped a lot, since her throat was dry with fear and repressed memories of that ghastly and traumatic thirty seconds.

The worst of it was, if you got the first note of Amazing Grace wrong, pitching it too high or too low, it was almost impossible to get it back and the whole thing would be wrong.

She opened her mouth and sang. To her relief the first note felt right, and the rest tumbled out after it. Those first dreadful thirty seconds passed without the floor opening up and swallowing her. She began to actually enjoy herself.

Rory was enjoying walking around the village of Castelnau-le-Lez with Thérèse. It wasn’t as smelly as he had expected. The narrow streets were swept clean by the houseproud villagers. The whitewashed houses had colourful shutters and window boxes of flowers. It would make a good subject for the sort of generic jigsaw puzzles that turned up on the shelves of just about any shop that sold that sort of thing. He found himself looking up at the clear sky and wishing for a bit of cloud because all that blue would be such a nuisance to put together.

They came to ‘Le Lez’, the clean, clear river that he had seen from the terrace. There was a meadow beside it. Rory put his jacket down for Thérèse to sit and risked grass stains on his trousers. It hadn’t escaped his notice that the jacket he put down was a light tweed and so were the trousers. He was wearing a waistcoat and a shirt with a separate collar fastened to it by studs. He was dressed in the correct clothing for a professional man of this historical period.

Before he stepped into the picture he was wearing jeans and a t-shirt with the slogan ‘I am the people my parents warned me about’ on it. He couldn’t quite remember when his clothes had changed. Thérèse hadn’t been upset by his appearance, so it must have been quite early on.

He hadn’t noticed and he hadn’t worried about it one little bit. He still knew, deep down, that he had to find a way back to the gallery, to The Doctor and Amy. But it still seemed as if there was all the time in the world to do it in.

The lady in the greenhouse was quite surprised at The Doctor’s actions, but she didn’t try to stop him as he swept through the aisles of seedlings and hothouse plants and rifled through the junk that inevitably piles up in the corner of any greenhouse. As well as broken terracotta pots and fork handles, there was evidence that an artist often worked here. There was an easel with a broken leg and a discarded palette, old brushes and dried paint pots and discarded canvases. He grasped one of the canvases that had been prepared with a wash but not used because there was a small tear in one corner. He found a brush that still had enough hairs to be functional. He looked at the paints. They were completely dried out.

“Linseed oil,” he said to the woman. “I need some linseed oil.”

The woman opened her mouth, perhaps to protest about the invasion of her greenhouse by this extraordinary dervish of a man then pointed to a bottle among the rubbish pile. There was a mere half inch of oil left in the bottom. The Doctor poured it into a pot of dried out blue before stirring it with a stick until it began to look a little bit like paint. It was flaky and uneven, with too much linseed oil floating on top and would never do for any serious piece of art. But it WAS paint. He propped the broken easel on a pile of broken terracotta pots, set the discarded canvas on it and began to paint. The woman stared. His hand moved so fast it made her eyes water to watch him, but he filled the canvas with a mono-colour image of the TARDIS standing in a curious room where paintings hung in the air without any visible walls.

“Not bad, if I say so myself,” he said, standing back to admire his work. Then he leaned forward and touched the painting.

The woman in blue and white exclaimed in surprise as the very strange man disappeared before her eyes. She stepped forward and looked at the canvas. Beside the blue box in the painting was a man. He was just an impression of a figure, not quite completely defined, but she could see that he was wearing a tweed jacket and a bow tie, and she recognised the features as the stranger who had been in her greenhouse.

Then she grabbed the painting off the easel and threw it on the junk pile before heaping more rubbish on top until it was hidden from sight. Later, she thought, she would have the gardener shift it all out of the greenhouse and onto a bonfire.

Rory and Thérèse walked back to the house on the rise above the village. It had been a pleasant outing. Rory felt very relaxed and hardly thought about getting back to Amy and The Doctor at all. Thérèse had asked him if he was staying to tea and he immediately said that he was. For whole lengths of time he completely forgot that he wasn’t one of Frédéric Bazille’s medical student friends with a passing interest in art. Even when he did remember who he really was it didn’t seem terribly important.

“Oh!” Thérèse exclaimed as they reached the terrace once again. “Frédéric is back. He’s painting already. Let’s see what he’s doing.”

Frédéric was, Rory noted, a tall, slender man who looked as if he was too busy painting to eat regularly. He had a good-natured expression, though, and he greeted Thérèse cheerfully.

“Good day to you, Rory,” he added. “You took the most important part of my composition away. I have had to get on with the background without her.”

Rory didn’t even bother to wonder how Frédéric Bazille knew his name. Of course, he did. He was an old friend, wasn’t he? He looked with Thérèse at the canvas on his easel. The background detail was almost complete. Rory recognised the village he had been walking through and the outline of the trees. The terrace was almost finished, too. In the middle was a void where the pretty girl in a pink dress was supposed to be sitting, with her back to the artist, looking out towards the village.

But there was something else there, too. Rory looked at the canvas, then at the real view. He looked at the canvas again. There was something there, hovering among the trees in the middle ground of the picture. It was a blue box. There was an open door into the box, and a man standing there, his arm outstretched, beckoning.

“Doctor!” Rory remembered, now. He wasn’t meant to be here. He had to go.

“Frédéric,” he said. “Thérèse, it’s been lovely visiting, but I’ve got to go.”

“Go where?” Thérèse asked. Then she and Frédéric stared in surprise. Rory had leaned forward towards the canvas. Then he vanished. For a brief moment they saw him in the picture itself, standing on the edge of the painted piece of terrace, reaching out towards the man in the box. Then he was beside him in the box. The door closed. The box vanished leaving the half-finished picture as it was supposed to be.

Thérèse and Frédéric looked at each other, then at the painting once more, then at each other again.

“What just happened?” Thérèse asked.

“I don’t know,” Frédéric answered. “But… it might be better if we didn’t mention it to anyone else. They might think we have both had too much ‘plein air’ and lock us up in the shade of the lunatic asylum.”

“I think you are right,” Thérèse agreed. “I think I shall sit quietly here and you can finish the painting. We shall both feel better for it.”

Rory looked at The Doctor as he feverishly worked at the controls of the TARDIS.

“Where’s Amy?” he asked.

“She’s still in one of the paintings,” he answered. “I found out what it’s all about. The room… the paintings… they’re all a projection of a great mind… a disembodied entity, pure intelligence. It created the gallery to attract people to it. And… if they’re not careful it doesn’t give them back. They get trapped in the paintings, become part of the artwork… and the entity absorbs their lifeforce.”

“I was being absorbed by an entity?” Rory asked. “I didn’t feel….”

“You forgot about your life, about Amy and me. You were happy wandering about Castelnau-le-Lez with Thérèse des Hours. You’re still under the influence a bit. You asked where Amy was, but you’re not panicking about the idea of her still being trapped and at risk of being absorbed.”

Rory panicked.

“It’s all right,” The Doctor assured him. “I’ve got it sorted.”

Amy’s song went down well with everyone. Now it was the turn of the grey haired lady herself to sing. She had chosen a sombre choral piece in Latin. Amy was not the only one of the younger people who was a little bored by it.

Her attention strayed to the artwork on the walls of the salon. Almost every part of the wallpaper was covered in paintings of some sort or another. Directly in front of her was a reclining nude with judicious use of some light coloured pieces of silk. Other paintings were of landscapes or still life, or groups of people in various settings.

Her eye turned back to the nude. She was sure it was a woman. When she looked again, though, it was clearly a man - a skinny man with a peculiarly angular face. He was grinning and beckoning with one hand.

“Doctor!” she exclaimed, scandalised by the very idea. She was shushed by everyone around her and the grey-haired woman glanced ruefully at her without losing a bar of her song. Amy stood up and walked towards the wall, ignoring the whispered voices around her. She looked at the nude again and was relieved to see it WAS a woman, after all. But the picture underneath had changed. It had been a grey-blue seascape with a group of people walking on the beach. Now the people were staring at a strange blue box on the edge of the surf. The door was opening. The Doctor and Rory both beckoned to her.

Amy reached for the picture. For a few steps her feet touched wet sand. Then she was inside the TARDIS. The Doctor closed the door and rushed to the console. Rory put his arms protectively around his wife.

“Wow!” she said when Rory explained what The Doctor had already explained to him. “You mean… I could have got stuck in that picture, forever?”

“You could, indeed,” The Doctor told her. “It’s happened before.”

“You mean… all of those people in the salon… Clare and the others….”

“Thérèse?” Rory asked. Amy gave him a sharp look.

“Who’s Thérèse?”

“No,” The Doctor assured them both. “Those people were all real friends of the artists in question. But there have been others. Wait, I’ll show you.”

The TARDIS materialised in front of a building Amy had visited before, but not with Rory, the magnificent Musée D’Orsay in Paris. The Doctor led the way, with his companions close behind.

“There it is,” Rory said. “La Robe Rose, Thérèse in her pink dress.”

“So that’s Thérèse?” Amy gave him a ‘look’. Rory smiled apologetically. “What does she look like? Is she pretty?”

“Not as pretty as you,” he said quickly. “Doctor….”

The Doctor was looking at another picture in the same gallery. Amy and Rory moved closer and read the information panel. This was Pierre Bonnard’s “A Bourgeois Afternoon”. It was a group painting of people, dogs and a cat all relaxing in a sunny garden. The Doctor pointed to a figure looking out of the window of the house at the back of the garden. It was an indistinct figure. It was hard to tell if it was male or female. The features were only vaguely painted.

“That’s one of them,” The Doctor said. “That figure wasn’t in the picture when Bonnard painted it. I know. I was there, enjoying the sunshine with them. It appeared a little later.”

“It doesn’t look sad,” Rory said. “I know it’s hard to tell, but it looks like somebody enjoying the afternoon. I think he or she might be ok. And… it’s a kind of immortality, I suppose. It’s like… Thérèse… she must be long dead. But there she is, sitting there on the terrace in the sunshine, forever.”

“Not all paintings are of people enjoying sunshine, though,” Amy pointed out. “These ones are nice, because a lot of them are that ‘plein air’ thing with people outdoors and happy. But there are lots of paintings of wars and disasters and storms, things like that.”

“That’s the risk,” The Doctor said. “Can’t be helped. Just be glad that you found a way back out of the pictures.”

“Thanks to you, Doctor,” Rory agreed.

“What were you doing in that nude painting, though?” Amy asked him.

“Nude painting?” Rory looked at The Doctor curiously.

“Long story,” he replied and wouldn’t be drawn any further on that.