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

Amy opened the TARDIS door while Rory carried The Doctor inside. He laid him down on the floor and tried again to check for vital signs. Amy shut the door and rushed to kneel at his side. Rory was doing CPR in a very unusual way, compressing each side of his chest alternatively to try to get one of the two hearts going. Amy bit her lip fearfully and tried not to cry as the anxious minutes passed.

“I think he’s dead,” Rory said, even though he didn’t stop trying.

“He can’t be. If he was dead, he would regenerate. That’s what we’ve always been told. He gets a whole new body. He’s a Time Lord. They don’t just die.”

“Then how come it’s not happening?”

“I don’t know. I’m not a Time Lord expert, am I?”

“You know more than I do. You knew him first, and you spent longer with him.”

“I know. But I still don’t know much more about his species. He doesn’t talk about himself very much. I mean… he’s always talking about stupid things he’s done, but he never talks about who he really is and where he comes from, and how this regeneration stuff is supposed to work. Maybe it takes time. It could be like butterflies… maybe he has to grow a sort of cocoon and it all happens inside it. Who knows how long it should take.”

Rory and Amy looked at each other and then at The Doctor they knew. The idea of him inside a cocoon, changing into another body, another face, becoming a stranger to them, was daunting.

They were so daunted by that prospect that they didn’t even realise they were no longer on the planet Fofaxon IV where The Doctor had been struck down by the venomous walking vegetation that bore a terrifying similarity to the fictional Triffids. The TARDIS was moving through the vortex smoothly for once, and they were too pre-occupied to notice that the floor was vibrating more than it did when they were stationary.

“He’s not dead, and he’s not going to regenerate,” said a voice from the other side of the console. Amy looked around in surprise. Rory moved quickly, grabbing The Doctor’s sonic screwdriver and brandishing it like a gun.

“That’s in penlight mode,” the stranger told him calmly. “Interesting model. Mine is rather more slimline.” He held up something that looked as if it could have been a sonic screwdriver. It could just as well have been the instrument Rory was trained to use to check for ear infections in patients.

The stranger was even more eclectically dressed than The Doctor in a long coat over trousers, waistcoat and open necked shirt. He was wearing a floppy brimmed hat and a scarf that was so ridiculously long that even looped twice around his neck it still trailed on the floor.

Amy also noted that he had strangely expressive brown eyes and a grin that was even wider than the one The Doctor had when he was up to mischief.

And she felt, instinctively, that she could trust him. Yes, he was a stranger. But he also felt like somebody she had known all of her life, like a favourite uncle. She had never had a favourite uncle, but if she had, then she thought she would feel the way she felt about this man.

“Who are you, and how did you get into the TARDIS?” Rory demanded, still suspicious.

“I’m The Doctor,” the stranger replied.

“No you’re not. He’s The Doctor.”

“Yes, of course he is. But he’s incapacitated and you needed to get away from Fofaxon IV. If enough of those plants had overwhelmed the TARDIS they could have started eating away at the outer shell. Their venom is possibly the only thing in the universe that could damage a TARDIS in that way. He knew that. So he called me.”

“He called you?” Amy stood and moved a little closer to the stranger. Rory tried to pull her back, but she shrugged him away. “How? He’s…. well we’re not sure what he is. He looks dead.”

“He’s got no vital signs at all,” Rory added in a professional tone. “Heartbeats – both of them – respiration, there’s nothing.”

“He’s in a level six trance,” the stranger who called himself The Doctor explained. “Everything is suspended except for his brain, which is functioning at an even higher capacity than usual without having to worry about cardio-vascular functions. That’s why he was able to summon me to take care of things until he’s recovered.”

Rory looked back at The Doctor, then to this other Doctor – if that was who he really was. He wanted to believe him, because that was a better diagnosis of The Doctor’s condition than he had been able to make.

“You mean he WILL get better?” Amy asked. “And he won’t regenerate? He’ll still be OUR Doctor?”

“Yes,” the strange Doctor assured them. “It’ll take a while. He took a lot of stings from those dreadful creatures.”

“He was holding them off to give us a chance to escape,” Rory said. “He… said one sting would kill us, but he could… he could take it.”

“We were at the TARDIS door when we saw him fall,” Amy added. “Rory went back for him. I was so scared for them both, but we made it.”

“You went back for me, even though you knew you could be killed instantly?” the other Doctor smiled his wide smile and there was an expression in his eyes that Amy thought was a mixture of gratitude and pride. “Humans, you’re wonderful. I’ve always said so. That mixture of courage and foolishness that you so often display in abundance, loyalty to a friend overriding any concern for your own life….”

“We couldn’t just leave him there,” Rory said. “Apart from all that... loyalty, friendship… yeah, that goes without saying. But we don’t know how to fly the TARDIS. Without him we’re goosed.”

“You said… ‘you went back for me….’” Amy said slowly, running the conversation through her head. “Oh! Rory… I think I get it. He’s…. He IS The Doctor. He’s one of The Doctor’s previous lives… one of his regenerations.”

“That’s the other wonderful thing about humans. If you let them work it out for themselves they get there in the end.”

“Now that’s just patronising,” Rory said. “Is Amy right? Are you him… younger? Even though you look… older? Do you guys get younger instead of older or something?”

“It’s random,” The Doctor replied. “What number is he? How much older am I now?”

“I don’t know,” Amy said. “He never said. I know he’d JUST regenerated when I first met him. But I don’t know how often he’s done that. Anyway… so what are you? A sort of ghost or something?”

“Something,” The Doctor told her. “Yes, a ghost is the closest Human concept. I have taken on a corporeal form temporarily. There’s nothing to be frightened of.”

“I’m not frightened,” Amy replied. “The Doctor… I trust him. Why would I be scared of his ghost? You’re him… you look way different. But you’re him. I trust you.”

“Yeah, likewise,” Rory said.

“Where are we going?” Amy asked next. “Or are we just drifting?”

“We’re going somewhere that will help him,” The Doctor answered. “The Eye of Orion.”

“He’s always talking about that place,” Rory said. “He’s never managed to find it, yet. Are you any better at steering?”

The Doctor didn’t answer that question. He just gave one of those grins. Whatever differences there were between this Doctor and the one they knew, there was still this utterly maddening way of not telling them things.

“He managed to tell me a little bit about you two,” The Doctor said as the conversation trailed. “You’re Amy and Rory Pond.”

“Williams,” Rory said with a defeatist tone, knowing that this Doctor was never going to get their surname right either.

“Either way… I suppose rule number one still applies, don’t wander off and do everything I say?”

Rory and Amy looked at each other and shrugged.

“Can’t say it’s ever worked out that way,” Rory admitted.

“No, it never did with anyone who came along with me, either,” The Doctor conceded. “Well, at least you’re not likely to be kidnapped by natives on the Eye of Orion. It doesn’t have any natives.”

“What does it have, purely out of interest?” Amy asked.

“An atmosphere charged with positive ions, like a summer day after a thunderstorm. Just the thing he needs to recharge himself.”

The time rotor glowed a brighter green and there was the familiar wooshing noise that indicated that they were materialising somewhere. Amy and Rory both grabbed handholds. They were used to this being a bumpy ride.

It was actually quite smooth. The Doctor gave them a rather betrayed look as he locked off the helmic regulator – or the parking brake as they called it - and reached for the door release.

“You’re not going to check that we have air, first?” Rory asked.

“We’re fine,” The Doctor replied. “We’re at the Eye of Orion just like I said.”

Amy approached the door. She put her hand out and noted that it was dry. She stepped out. The air was nice and clean. The sky was blue. But if this was the Eye of Orion then The Doctor had been a little vague about the details.

“Wow!” Rory exclaimed as he stepped out beside her. “Impressive.”

The Doctor stepped out of the TARDIS, too, and looked around.

“Ah!” he said.

“This ISN’T where you said we were going, is it?” Rory said to him.

“Well, er… no.”

They were standing on a high, grassy plain with that perfect blue sky above them. A yellow sun was near its zenith, but there were also two moons in the sky, one pale silvery-white, the other red.

When they looked down from the plain to the valley below they saw something even more amazing than two moons in a daytime sky.

As far as their eyes could see, the valley was covered with pyramids, the sort that Egypt was famous for, except these were made of a sort of black glassy substance that glinted in the sunlight.

“Not the Eye of Orion,” The Doctor admitted. “This is the planet of SangC’lune.”

“You say that as if we ought to know what that is,” Rory pointed out. “Let’s assume we don’t.”

“It belonged to my people, the Time Lords,” The Doctor explained. “But living Time Lords rarely visited. The pyramids… are….”

“Tombs?” Amy said with a shiver.

“Not exactly. Time Lord bodies are rarely buried. We cremate the corporeal form at the end of our lives. But the pyramids… are where the spirits… the souls if you like… of each Time Lord’s life fly to when they regenerate. While a Time Lord still lives in one of his lives, the pyramids are white. But when his last life is over they turn black.”

“They’re all black,” Rory noted.

“Not all,” The Doctor said. “There is one that remains white, still.”

“Yours,” Amy realised. “Doctor… you’re from his past. You…. Shouldn’t know the reason why they’re black.”

“I know,” The Doctor responded in a curiously monotone voice. “Remember I am not him pulled out of an earlier time when I was alive in this body. I am the spirit that has rested within the pyramid below since I regenerated. I know… we all do… all of the past incarnations… we know what happened.”

“I’m… sorry,” Amy told him.

“Why should you be sorry?” he asked her. “Was it your fault? Of course not. No Human had any hand in the downfall of the Time Lords. It was our own arrogance and self-assurance that brought us down. There is no need for you to be sorry.”

“I know. But it’s something Humans do. When we know somebody has suffered a loss, we say sorry. And we mean it. So don’t be such a stuffy Time Lord and accept our condolences.”

The Doctor looked at Amy and smiled again. She noticed that he didn’t just smile with his mouth. It was in his eyes, too. They were strange eyes, but she liked them. She liked him.

“This isn’t where I meant to come,” he said. “But it will serve our purpose perfectly well. We’ll bring him to the pyramid.”

“That will help?” Amy asked.

“Even better than the Eye of Orion,” The Doctor replied. “Rory, come with me, there’s a good chap. There should be something in the old lumber room that will help in our task.”

Amy waited outside. It was a rather charming place to be, once she got over the shock of what was in the valley. The sun was warm and the slight breeze was nicely refreshing. The grass – ordinary green grass such as she was used to on Earth - was nice to sit on while she waited.

Presently, The Doctor and Rory came out of the TARDIS carrying their Doctor on a stretcher. Rory had done his fair share of stretcher carrying and The Doctor seemed to know what he was doing. Amy walked alongside. Their Doctor still looked very ill. His face was chalk white and when she touched his hand it was freezing cold.

“Don’t worry about that,” The Doctor told her. “It’s all part of the process. He really is all right. I would know if he wasn’t. We are all psychically connected, of course.”

“That must be a little strange,” Amy said.

“Schizophrenia is a normal state of affairs for Time Lords,” The Doctor joked.

“That explains quite a lot about him,” Rory commented. “If this place will help him, how come you were going to the other place?” he added.

“Because SangC’lune is a restricted place. Only very senior Time Lords were ever supposed to come here with special permission. But… I suppose there is nobody left to give the permission now, so it probably doesn’t matter.”

Again the sadness came to his eyes. She had seen that same look in The Doctor’s face when he let himself dwell on the past. But it was only fleeting. He went on to explain to her that this place had been discovered many thousands of millennia ago by his ancestors and established as a dominion planet.

“Isn’t it possible that some of your people could be here, then?” Amy asked. “When your planet was destroyed?”

“No,” The Doctor assured her. “I am quite certain I would know.”

They had reached the bottom of the hill, now, and were walking between the rows of pyramids that seemed to be arranged in something like streets. Amy thought they might almost be an odd kind of town planning if she didn’t know what they really were. She wondered what it was like inside them. Was it quiet, like a cathedral or church? Did the spirits of the dead Time Lords sleep in peace or could they be restless spirits yearning to be free from their pyramid prison? Did they argue amongst themselves?

“Sometimes,” The Doctor said. Amy was startled to find that he had heard that thought. “Some of my lives were rather sanctimonious. We rub each other up the wrong way.”

“Wait until HE joins you,” Amy said. Then regretted saying it because that would mean the man she really liked would be dead. She decided not to say anything for a little while. The silence of this strange place closed around them and she wondered whether saying anything at all was appropriate.

She also wondered if there really was a white pyramid among all these black ones. Then she caught a glint of sunlight bouncing off a crystal bright point at the top of a pyramid that was white like the ice of a glacier. It was beautiful and somehow poignant in the way it stood among all the black ones.

“What now?” she whispered, feeling that to speak louder would be blasphemous.

“You two must wait outside,” The Doctor said. “Anyone other than the Time Lord to which the pyramid belongs is not permitted to enter. It won’t take long, I promise.”

He lifted their Doctor from the stretcher and carried him across his shoulders right up to the sheer wall of the pyramid. Amy and Rory watched, wondering how he would get in. It looked seamless. He raised his hand, palm out and touched the wall. A section slid back silently. He stepped inside and it closed again.

They waited.

A few minutes later the door slid open again. The Doctor stepped out – the older Doctor.

“It will take a few hours. Let’s take a walk.”

“You’re sure he’ll be ok?” Rory asked. He wasn’t accustomed to leaving patients where he couldn’t find them again.

“He is with his own former lives. He couldn’t be in better hands.”

The Doctor led them through the pyramid streets once again. The only sound was their own footsteps, and even they seemed muffled despite the floor being the same kind of hard crystal substance that the pyramids were composed of.

They reached the end of the seemingly endless rows and started up the grassy incline again. They had come a different way, though, leaving the TARDIS a good half mile away looking rather lonely on the high meadow. They came down a gentle slope on the other side towards a village of mostly wooden houses of a pre-industrial sort, thatched or tiled with wooden slats.

It was as quiet as the pyramid plain had been. The Doctor was worried.

“It shouldn’t be like this. There is a community who live here, a peaceful people who live by their own labour in the fields and tend to the pyramids of their former masters. This should be a bustling market day.”

“Perhaps it is Sunday,” Rory suggested.

“The concept of Sunday only exists among Human colonies,” The Doctor replied. “These people don’t worship an invisible deity. We, the Time Lords, were their gods and we asked nothing of them except the simple duty of looking after our last resting places.”

“It looks ok,” Rory said. “There’s nothing overturned or broken. They’ve not been attacked by hordes of invaders.”

“That, at least, would be a simple explanation,” The Doctor said. “Though a dreadful one. They are not a people who have ever had need to defend themselves. If any enemy came here they would be at their mercy. But I think there is something even more sinister than that going on.”

“Oh, typical,” Rory said. “A peaceful planet where nothing happens but a bit of gardening and pyramid maintenance until we arrive and everything goes weird.”

“Perhaps that’s why the TARDIS brought us here,” Amy suggested. “Rather than the Eye of Orion. The Doctor said, didn’t he, the TARDIS doesn’t always go where he wants to go, but she always takes him where he NEEDS to go. Even if it isn’t the RIGHT Doctor, this may be the right place for him to be.”

“Quite so,” The Doctor agreed. “Now, if the village is deserted, I can think of only one place where the people may have been taken. It’s a bit of a walk, I’m afraid. Are you up to it, my friends?”

“We can manage,” Rory told him. “Lead on, MacDuff.”

“You know that isn’t the correct line,” The Doctor said. “People always get it wrong. And after I gave Will such a lot of help with his iambic pentameters.”

“Yeah, our one is right name dropper, too,” Amy remarked. If it wasn’t for the twin concerns of The Doctor left behind in the pyramid and the missing villagers it would have been a pleasant time. This Doctor was as much fun to be with as theirs. He responded to their banter with good humour and regaled them with just as many tall stories that they almost couldn’t believe.

“I DON’T believe the one about Nero burning Rome,” Rory said. “Or about the Loch Ness Monster. But I know all about Cybermen. That one I can believe.”

They had walked up a hill from the village, far beyond the Pyramid plain, and had now come to what looked like a chunk of ancient Greece, a ruined temple with broken bits of pillar and something that might once have been an altar of sorts. The Doctor went straight to the stone altar. He looked all around it carefully and then pressed a panel at the back which opened with a grating of stone on stone.

“Wow, it’s a TARDIS,” Amy said when she looked at the wide space inside.

“No, but it uses the same kind of technology. It is the entrance to Rassilon’s Cavern.”

“That sounds like the start of a rude joke,” Rory said. “Who is Rassilon when he’s at home?”

“He is the Creator of the Time Lords, and he won’t be at home,” The Doctor replied. “He lived hundreds of thousands of generations ago when the pyramids of SangC’lune were new.”

Rory said nothing more. It sounded as if he had said something blasphemous against Time Lord religious belief. He and Amy followed The Doctor into the space inside the altar which turned out to be a tunnel that went a short distance before a long, steep staircase began. It was lit by flaming torches which was the first clue that somebody was already there. Even Time Lords couldn’t keep flaming torches lit indefinitely.

The second clue, after they had gone down at least a hundred of the steps was the sound of voices chanting rhythmically.

“The villagers?” Rory whispered.

“Are you sure it isn’t Sunday?” Amy asked.

“Quite sure. They’re calling for Rassilon.”

“The one you said wouldn’t be home?”

“There is no part of the simple faith of the SangC’lune people that demands they pay homage to Rassilon or any Time Lord,” The Doctor insisted. “Somebody is leading these people astray.”

He slowed down as the chanting became louder. Amy and Rory crouched low with him as they came to a gallery with a stone parapet cut from the rock itself. It overlooked the Cavern of Rassilon. It might once have been a naturally formed cavern, because the ceiling had some interesting stalactites. But the fact that it was perfectly circular and the floor the same black stuff that the pyramids were made of suggested that some kind of advanced technology had been involved, too.

There was something like an altar made of that black material in the middle of the floor. Behind it was a man dressed in an outlandish costume of red and black embroidered with gold thread and wearing an elaborate collar that came higher than his head. The Doctor confirmed that it was a ceremonial costume of his people, the Time Lords.

“But that man is no Time Lord,” The Doctor insisted. “There are no more living Time Lords except me. He is a fraud.”

“Tell them that, then,” Rory told him. “They seem quite insistent that he is Rassilon.”

And it seemed as if the man thought he was, too. He raised his hands and the people all prostrated themselves. There were men, women and children there, old and young, and all obeyed him without fail. Then he pointed to one man and told him to rise up.

“You have children,” he said. “Two daughters and a son.”

“My Lord, I do,” he replied nervously.

“They will serve me. I need wives and servants.”

“My Lord, please, my daughters are already promised to men of the village.”

“What men?” he demanded. “Let them identify themselves.”

Two young men hesitantly stood with their heads bowed. The man claiming to be their Lord pointed towards the first of them. A white light emanated from his fingers and caught the young man in the chest. He screamed briefly as a smoking hole was cut through his body. The other one tried to run, but he was struck down, too.

“Now your daughters will be mine or you, too, will feel the power of Rassilon.”

“That is not the Creator of our race,” The Doctor declared. “Rassilon was a strong, powerful man but he was fair. Murdering defenceless people….” He shuddered with disgust.

“We have to stop him,” Rory said.

“Not we,” The Doctor answered. “I have to stop him. This is Time Lord business. I won’t risk your lives.”

“Come on, Doctor!” Amy protested. “We’re not daft. Let us help.”

“You need a diversion,” Rory pointed out. “If you have any hope of getting close to him.”

“It’s too dangerous,” The Doctor argued. “You saw what he can do.” But he saw the determined expression of his companions. “Very well.” He reached into his pocket and pulled an assortment of strange things, including a yoyo, a bag of sweets and a ticket stub for the 1937 FA Cup final at Wembley. Then he found what he was looking for. Amy and Rory both looked curiously at the cheerfully wrapped objects he put in their hands.

“Roman Candle….”

“Rainbow Fountain….”

The Doctor grinned. He gave them both matchbooks and told them to light the blue touchpaper and stand well back. They moved left and right around the gallery so that they were on opposite sides of the cavern and set up their fireworks. The Roman Candle made a tremendous noise in the enclosed space as it sent up actinic white star bursts amongst the stalactites. The Rainbow Fountain poured out a spectacular rain of multi-coloured fire.

The people were already on the ground. They flattened themselves out and covered their heads fearfully. The man calling himself Rassilon was distracted by both of the pyrotechnics. He raised his hand and fired left and right, but his energy beams only reflected off the walls and forced him to dive behind the altar. Meanwhile The Doctor vaulted over the gallery and landed on the floor. He ran between the terrified villages with his sonic screwdriver held out in front of him.

“Deceiver, coward, show yourself!” he called out. “Bullying villagers is unworthy of a Time Lord. Face me in honourable combat!”

‘Rassilon’ stood and looked at The Doctor coldly. He gave a derisive “ha” and raised his hand to fire a deadly bolt of energy at him. The Doctor responded quickly. The sonic screwdriver issued a stream of green energy that caught the white bolt and sent it hurtling back at the false Time Lord. He redoubled his effort and tried to send it back. They were duelling just like eighteenth century French Musketeers with energy beams instead of swords. For a moment the white bolt hurtled towards The Doctor again before the green sonic energy beat it back.

They were evenly matched. The Doctor could not get the upper hand. Rory left his place of safety in the gallery and ran towards them. He had the other sonic screwdriver still.

“What setting, Doctor?” he asked.

“Sigma Psi,” The Doctor replied. “But don’t try to do it yourself. Give it to me then get behind me where you’re safe.”

Rory set the sonic and reached out to pass it to The Doctor. He grabbed it with his spare hand and added the second beam to the duel. It was the advantage he needed. The two green beams forced the energy bolt back on the faux Rassilon. He screamed as he was enveloped in the deadly white light.

It didn’t kill him. The duel had reduced the power of the bolt considerably, but it did knock him unconscious. The Doctor turned off both sonics and slipped them into his pockets with a move rather like a western gunslinger holstering his pistols then he bent to look at the defeated man.

“He’s not a Time Lord,” The Doctor affirmed. “But there’s something….”

He drew back as the man’s body was suffused with an orange light – artron energy. For a moment he thought he was wrong and a regeneration was about to take place. Then the light coalesced into a ball that hung above the unconscious man. The Doctor grabbed his sonic screwdriver again and fired the green energy into the ball. It imploded with a fizzing noise rather like the rainbow fountain and left an imprint of its last bright flash on his retinas for several moments.

“What was that?” Rory asked as he moved forward and confirmed that the man was likely to come around soon with no lasting physical injuries.

“It was the spirit of a Time Lord… a Renegade one. I caught his name just briefly as he left this poor man’s body. I had to destroy him. He would have tried to take over my body instead, and then he would have been invincible, capable of even worse cruelties than he has already inflicted on many more people than these few here.”

The Doctor looked around at the people who were starting to rise slowly, aware that the tyrant who had suppressed them was gone.

“This man… was one of your own?” he asked an elderly man who ought to have been one of the village leaders.

“His name is Mallik. He tended the pyramids. But one night… he came to the village and said he had received the spirit of Lord Rassilon and was to be obeyed. When some of us refused to believe him… you saw what he did…. We were afraid.”

“You don’t need to be afraid any longer,” The Doctor said. “I give you my word as a Time Lord of Gallifrey. You will never be oppressed by one of our kind. Continue the good work my people asked you to do and live your lives as before. Take this man and give him medicine and care. Look after him, and do not blame him for what he was not responsible for.”

The Doctor had identified himself as a Time Lord. The people obeyed him without question even though another calling himself a Time Lord had hurt them so much. Their simple trust was worrying. They could be used so easily. But at least now they were under the command of a ‘good’ Time Lord, not one of the bad ones that tainted their whole race.

The Doctor, with Amy and Rory, followed the people back to their village and saw that Mallik was given the rest and medical attention he needed. The elders asked if they would stay to feast with them but The Doctor shook his head.

“We must return to the pyramid plain,” he said. “We have duties there.”

“Feasting sounded good,” Rory admitted as they set off downhill again. “But I suppose we’d better go and get our Doctor.”

He and Amy both felt a twinge of guilt. They had been so wrapped up in the goings on in the cavern that they had forgotten about The Doctor in the pyramid.

The sun was starting to go down by now and the two moons were looking brighter. A golden-red glow bounced off the only white pyramid on the plain. The Doctor stood for a moment looking at the sunset. Amy and Rory wondered why, then realised that he hadn’t seen it for a long time, and wouldn’t again once he went into the pyramid.

“This… is goodbye, isn’t it?” Amy said with a choke in her throat.

“Not really,” The Doctor told her. “He is me, too, remember.”

“Yes. But… You…. It’s… been….”

“It’s been nice knowing you, Doctor,” Rory said as Amy dried up altogether. “And fighting evil with you.”

He shook hands with him. Amy hugged him emotionally. Then both of them stood back. The Doctor went to the pyramid. He held up his hand and the door opened. He stepped inside. The door closed. Amy and Rory held hands and waited anxiously for several long minutes.

Just when they were starting to worry that something was wrong, the door slid open again. The Doctor stepped out – their Doctor with the floppy hair and long, angular face and the insistence that bow ties are cool. The door closed behind him. He grinned widely and held out his arms. Amy ran to him and hugged him madly for a long time, unable to speak. Rory was a little cooler about it, reaching out to shake hands.

“You’re ok now?” he asked.

“Fit as a fiddle,” he answered. “Though I never understood that expression. Since when was a fiddle health conscious?”

They ignored the rambling nonsense. There was only one question they wanted to ask.

“The other Doctor… in there… he’s… dead now?”

“He always was,” The Doctor said. “He was called in for a short time, but he was always going to come back here.” He turned and looked at the pyramid. “I’ve never seen it before. We’re not really supposed to come here… not living, anyway. It’s not the worst way to spend eternity, I suppose… some of my past incarnations are a bit sanctimonious… we’ll fight like cats and dogs. But….”

He turned and grinned again.

“Apparently you had a bit of an adventure with the old me. Everything’s cool now? The villagers….”

“They’ll need a bit of time to get over it, and they’ve some dead to mourn,” Rory said. “But I think they’ll be ok. They invited us to feast with them. I guess that’s their way of handling stuff like that.”

The Doctor’s grin widened. “Well, let’s not disappoint them. Let’s go and feast.”

He set off up the hill. Rory and Amy followed him, looking back just once as the slanting sun’s rays caught the one white pyramid in a spectacular fashion and reflected it back in rainbow coloured shards of light. They both raised their hands and waved.

“Goodbye, Doctor,” Amy whispered. “Rest well.”