Prompt: # 089 - Work
Claim: The Time War
Spoilers: Serial 140: The Two Doctors
Characters: The Doctor (2), Jamie McCrimmon
Summary: The TARDIS lands on a planet that wasn't her destination, which is nothing unusual. Nothing bad happens to the Doctor and Jamie there, which is. In fact, nothing happens at all, expect that everything is slightly strange, and the sky is very dark.
Words: ca. 6300
Ever since the Doctor has come back to pick Jamie out of his time stream once more, something is different about him.
There is the physical change – he's been taken by his people (the people Jamie had naively assumed were good simply because the Doctor was), and when he showed up again, the Doctor's hair had turned grey as if he had aged many years. Of course, many years can have passed for him, but his face is mostly the same, and Jamie knows that Time Lords don't age the way humans do, even if he does not understand it. It's like those people who had something terrible happen to them and then their hair turned white long before they got old. The Doctor's hair turned grey, though, not white, so Jamie tells himself that cannot be the reason and it's probably nothing.
But that's not all. There is a subtle change in his mannerism that goes beyond the open annoyance of being at the Time Lord's beck and call. Like a lot of time has passed indeed, or something has happened that changed him while Jamie wasn't with him. Jamie cannot put his finger on it, though, and if he were to describe it, he wouldn't be able to. He's not good with words.
What he could put into words, if anyone asked, is how glad he is that the Doctor came back for him. Perhaps, if the Time Lords' attempt to erase his memories had worked, he would have been able to find his place again in his own time. Perhaps there was mercy to what they did to Zoe and tried to do to him, but he doesn't think that's what had been their motivation, and when he thinks of Zoe not remembering all the wonders she has seen and the good she has done, he feels sadness, not envy. Even if he had remained on Earth forever, he would not have wanted to lose a single memory of his time with the Doctor.
As it is, Jamie is quite happy to stay with his Time Lord as long as he possibly can. So he doesn't worry too much about how things he knows nothings about may have changed him, except regarding what that may have meant for the Doctor.
He's not going to ask.
And when he does worry too much, he thinks about the other Doctor he has met not all that long ago. His Doctor has told him about regeneration and the changes in looks and behaviour that brings with it. As far as Jamie could tell, the other, older Doctor (which was weird; he didn't look older) behaved not all that different from the one he knew. Still eccentric, arrogant, clever, and there whenever Jamie needed rescue. Most of all, however, he seemed to be okay. He is from centuries in the Doctor's future, and he is alive, and he seemed to be happy. That is all he needs to know when he wonders about his own Doctor.
(Also, the other one wasn't alone. He was travelling with someone, which is good. Jamie would worry if he were on his own. And the person with him wasn't Jamie but if he really is centuries older than the one Jamie is travelling with, then that is hardly a surprise. Still, thinking about the future Doctor and his lady friend hurts a little, so Jamie tries not to do it too often.)
Right now, Jamie is not thinking about much of anything. He's lying on his bed in his room in the TARDIS, dozing, and then his eyes open because the TARDIS just landed somewhere and somewhen. He doesn't know how he knows that, since the vessel makes no sound that would reach him here and does not come with a sense of movement, unless the Doctor did something wrong (which is often). He just knows, as if someone had planted that knowledge in his mind, and after all these years, he has stopped questioning it.
Minutes later, he is in the console room, where the Doctor is staring at the monitor with a frown on his face that tells Jamie without having to ask that this is not where he had wanted to go.
“Where are we, Doctor?” he asks. The monitor doesn't show much beyond a few lights in an ocean of darkness. After a few moments, Jamie realizes that there is a literal ocean out there, and the lights he sees are lining a beach.
In the dark. Ocean of darkness. Alright.
“I don't know, Jamie,” the Doctor admits. “It is not quite where I was trying to go, that much I can tell you.”
“Well, that is hardly anything new,” Jamie remarks, and the Doctor glares at him.
“Right now, I was not meaning to go anywhere, I'll have you know,” he states, sounding indignated. “The TARDIS had no destination. So someone made her go here, and it was not me.” He glares at the console now, and Jamie is quite aware who that mysterious someone probably was.
“So the Time Lords want you to do something here.” He shrug. That happens. He liked it better when they could just go wherever they wanted, but an adventure with the Doctor is an adventure with the Doctor, regardless of whether it is the Time Lords sending them to their destination, or the Doctor's lack of driving skills. “What is it?”
“I don't know,” the Doctor says again. “There was no message, no instructions. Whatever is going on here, they did not seem to think it necessary to tell me.” His frown deepens even more, before it suddenly disappears and is replaced by a smile. “Well then,” he says, bringing his hands together in front of his chest in a familiar gesture of excitement. “Let's find out.”
Ever since they have run into his older self, Jamie seems to believe that nothing can possibly harm the Doctor now. The Doctor has spend enough time among the linear species to understand where such an assumption would come from – the Doctor is alive in the future, so he can't die now. It's naive and wrong, of course. But the Doctor can understand why Jamie would think that.
He's tried to explain to Jamie that it is more complicated than that. That time is not invulnerable. He explained to Jamie that he could die now, and asked him to imagine all his future selves to simply fade from existence as if they had never been, all his deeds never done. Then he explained that it was nothing like that, actually, and Jamie had grimaced at him and continued to be irritatingly optimistic about every danger they faced.
He's being like that now, when they step out of the TARDIS and Jamie wanders off before the Doctor even has the chance to tell him to wait somewhere. For some reason, he seems to think that the immortality he believes the Doctor to have extends to himself, despite the fact that the future they have glimpsed did not contain him. And of course the Doctor will do everything he can to protect this man, but that is no guarantee that he will succeed.
He has failed people before. Sarah. Katarina. Other friends, long gone. Sometimes, Jamie's faith that the Doctor will keep him safe as long as he is alive makes it hard to breathe.
And of course Jamie seems to quite happily ignore the fact that for the Doctor to turn into the man they met, he will have to die in the first place.
That, at the very least, is something with no uncertainty attached to it. After all, he has been sentenced to death, and the Doctor has no illusions that the Time Lords will carry out the sentence as soon as the Celestial Intervention Agency no longer has a use for his services. It is not something he likes to think about. His first regeneration has been unpleasant. For a long time he not only wasn't sure who he was, but he felt like he was no one. Just a collection of semi-automatic actions following established patterns, like he was only a template left of the man he used to be. It has taken time to fill it with something new and feel like himself again.
Jamie, bless him, thinks that regenerating means changing his physical appearance and gaining a few new quirks in the process. Ben and Polly seemed to initially think meant becoming a new person, who just happened to have all of a stranger's memory. It's so much more complicated than either. Like trying to figure out who he is while already being someone else. The Doctor could not stop being the Doctor if he wanted to. In a way there is comfort in that – whoever he will be once the Time Lords are done with him will still be him. But it will be a him who will have a hard time finding that out, probably, and he's not looking forward to it. Never mind the fact that to get there, he will have to go through the trauma of dying.
The Doctor cannot entirely fight down the bitterness that overcomes him whenever he remembers that the Time Lords, his own people, will actually kill him. For saving mankind from the Cybermen. For defeating the Daleks. For dealing with the Macra, the Krotons, dictators and power mad conspirators, for helping the Monoids and the Guardians make peace, for saving a bunch of younger species from themselves. He knew, of course, that Gallifrey would not approve of anything he did. That was why he had left in the first place. It does not make the sentence feel any less unjust.
Hardly any of the other students at the academy had understood why he wanted to leave a society that feels saving the lives of countless innocent beings is a crime worthy of death.
It doesn't matter that he has lives to spare. They are going to kill him. And a part of him wishes they would just get over it, but they have to drag it out, postpone the execution and make him their agent in the meantime. Send him out to defeat evil and (incidentally) save innocent beings. Make him do exactly the same thing they are going to execute and exile him for. He wonders if that is part of his punishment: to experience first hand how complete their control is, as if he'd ever had a chance to forget that.
Gravel crunches under the Doctor's shoe as he steps out of the TARDIS. It's black, not just appearing so in the darkness. Jamie is already a good bit down the beach, and the Doctor is glad there are no people around, since his friend is dressed in his usual kilt to go with his black shirt, and something tells him that is not an inconspicious outfit here. It rarely is anywhere.
And that's assuming the population of this place is even human, or humanoid, which the Doctor is beginning to suspect more and more it might not be.
The lights that line the beach are glowing crystals, emitting a soft, yellow light. There are more in the distance, lining a path leading to a collection of illuminated buildings in an architectural style the Doctor is not familiar with. That is rare. The water is black.
There is no wind, and somehow the Doctor knows that there never is. This place feels alien. Not dangerous, but inconceivable. Jamie comes jogging back to his side.
“Doctor, it's beautiful,” he exclaims, and the Doctor has to agree. This is something new that they have never seen before, and in a way he is happy to have been able to show this to Jamie, before whatever will happen to inevitably separate them happens.
Undoubtedly, the Time Lords know that Jamie is with him again. When they erase his mind the next time, they might make a better job of it. The Doctor tries not think about that, either. In the end, them being separated by the Time Lords when their time runs out is the best possibly scenario for Jamie.
Unless the Doctor just drops him somewhere where he will be happy before that. It will not happen. The Doctor knows that his friend won't leave him unless he is forced.
Oh well. There is no point worrying about it. The Doctor doesn't try to console himself with the fact that his older self did not warn him of anything happening to Jamie, because he doesn't actually remember if he did. The entire encounter is gone from his memory, and his future self would obviously know that and know how futile it would be to give any warning. Time will happen as it does.
It does not allow for cheating. If a Time Lord meets themselves, their younger self forgets all about it until it happens to them again in the future. If it weren't for Jamie talking about it every now and again, the Doctor would not even know there was anything he's forgotten. Once Jamie is gone, the memory will quickly fade for good.
Time protects itself. Changing established events is a monumental effort, causing ripples that can threaten everything. It justifies the Time Lord's caution when it comes to the application of their powers, but it also shows that they are hypocritical fools. None of the things the Doctor has done has really changed the future. It means he has always been a part of those events. The one thing that would have threatened his people's careful maintenance of the web of time would have been not doing it. And he is very, very certain that they know that.
“Better not touch that, Jamie,” he warns when his friend crouches down to inspect one of the glowing crystals. In a rare stroke of luck, his words are heard before Jamie actually does touch it, and starts a chain reaction that ends either with an explosion of Cybermen. Or both.
“It is dangerous?” Jamie asks, standing again but not stepping away from the light. The Doctor walks over to him and takes his arm, gently pulling him away.
“I don't know,” he admits. “Better safe than sorry, I say. Something about this place doesn't feel quite right, does it?”
“Does it?” Jamie repeats. “Feels alright to me. I can't imagine anything being dangerous around here.”
No, he can not, can he? And that is odd; after the things he has lived through, Jamie should be able to sense danger just about anywhere, whether it is real or not. Yet here he is, utterly unconcerned, and the Doctor understands why, for once. This place feels peaceful, distant from everything. Almost sacred. His instincts do not warn him of anything, and that is so unusual in a strange and unknown place such as this that it does not take the Doctor long to realize that his instincts simply are not working.
Everything in him simply wants to accept this place and feel welcome here.
“I think we'd better be careful,” he advised. “Surely the Time Lords did send us here for a reason.” And that reason will not be very fun. It never is.
Jamie shrugs, alarmingly unconcerned, but he doesn't protest and stays close by the Doctor's side. The Doctor, for his part, keeps a hand on his arm to keep them from getting separated by anything. He doesn't want to risk them having to remain here any longer than they have to, as beautiful as it is.
If Jamie notices how nervous he feels, he doesn't show it. Which means that he doesn't notice.
They climb the soft slope, the ground outside the light of the crystals invisible under their feet, and yet the Doctor never fears where he is stepping. That is not good at all, and he isn't nearly as concerned about this as he should be. More lights greet them once they made it to the top and the soft waves are the only sound they hear. The buildings are lit brightly, light shining through their half-transparent walls, but no living creature is to be seen. There are more crystals, framing the paths and eventually trailing off into the darkness, and in the distance the Doctor can see the faint light of glowing crystals lining another shore. They are on an island. It is small.
His instincts are defunct, so if anyone asked, he wouldn't be able to tell how he knows that this small island is the only land on this entire world.
“Do you have any idea where we are, Doctor?” Jamie asks. If the Doctor told them they were in the Andromeda galaxy, or in a place outside the Virgo Megacluster, Jamie would actually know what he meant by now. But the Doctor cannot say either of that.
“I honestly don't know, Jamie.” He folds his hands in front of his chest, then quickly reaches for Jamie again, before the young human can move away from him. “It's not any place I have been before.”
“Alright, but I bet you can tell from the sky what part of the universe we're in. I mean, once there's a gab in the clouds.”
“Take a good look, Jamie!” the Doctor demands. “There are no clouds.”
Jamie does look up, and he falls silent for a moment. “There must be clouds. The sky is black.”
“Yes, indeed. It is. The sky is black. It's never going to be anything else.”
“Except when the sun rises.”
“I don't think there is a sun, Jamie.”
“There must be,” Jamie insists. “I mean, wouldn't it be very cold here if there wasn't?”
The Doctor hums softly in reply. “I'm not sure, Jamie. This planet could be protected by a force field. Or it could be removed from time and space, frozen in a moment. It would certainly explain the lack of stars.” He fears the second option is more likely, even though his senses should have told him if they had indeed left the realm of time. They feel muted, dulled. Like this place doesn't even exist to bother with.
“Well,” he finally says after a moment of contemplation, and lets go of Jamie's arm long enough to wring his hands in a show of enthusiasm. “Let's go and see if we can find someone to ask.”
Ever since the Time Lords have forced him into the service of the Celesital Intervention Agency, the Doctor's TARDIS has been forced time and again into places she would have avoided otherwise. Usually, these trips come with turbulences, the occasional melted circuit. This time, the landing has been as smooth as it has ever been. Now the Doctor wonders if whatever is dulling his senses also affects her.
Whatever this place is, it would have been nice if the CIA had given him some idea of what he is supposed to do here. He asked. Yelled at the monitor a little before Jamie showed up in the console room, but there never was any reply. They either ignored him, or this place is beyond even their signal, which possibly means that they haven't send him here after all.
But if they didn't, then how did they end up on this planet? There was no alarm, no rough sailing, and the Doctor never gave the signal to land anywhere, let alone here. This planet was not part of the dimension he came from, of that he was increasingly certain, so how could the TARDIS get here so easily, without even trying?
It is as if she has been invited here, and followed the invitation without hesitation.
Once again, the Doctor looks up at the black sky and wonders what is beyond it? Is it anything he would recognize?
Is it anything he might recognize, one day, in his future?
Then they are inside the building, and the sky is gone. It was possibly never there in the first place. Perhaps that is not blackness but nothing.
Entering the brightly lit building isn't hard. There is no lock on the doors that opened when they approached. It doesn't feel like a trap, but that is not reassuring here. Jamie looks around curiously, and the Doctor tightens his grip a little, because this is one of those places where his companion would wander from him, go around a corner, and won't be seen again for hours.
The light seems to come from everywhere. It's pleasant to the eyes, with a golden hue, swallowing all shadows. There is no one else to be seen.
“Looks like there's no one home,” Jamie observes, and sounds a little disappointed.
“Yes, so it seems. Let's looks around a little bit, and if we don't find anyone, we'll just go back to the TARDIS and leave.” If the Time Lords wanted him to do anything specific, they ought to have just told him.
And if they did not, then they have no reason to stay anyway. Except that the Doctor cannot leave without at least peering around that next corner.
There's nothing there but more walls, more floor. The hallway is long, high, wide. Much bigger than the building appeared from the outside, and the Doctor needs Jamie pointing that out before he noticed that, because where he comes from this is normal, and for a moment he's forgotten that everywhere else, it's not.
There seem to be no doors leading elsewhere, but the Doctor notices plain, subtle patterns in the walls that may conceal hidden passages, although it feels like they are hidden for aesthetic reasons rather than for secrecy. There are also conclaves, holding busts of humanoid looking men and women he doesn't recognize.
This place feels like a temple. Yes, yes. That's what it feels like. He tells Jamie, and Jamie agrees. Then he walks faster to look around the next corner, finally losing the Doctor who has gotten sloppy in his attachment plan, and startles back from whatever he sees there.
Fortunately, the Doctor has already caught up with him, so Jamie can cling to him in his surprise.
What startled his friend isn't all that startling. It is merely a man coming towards them down another hallway, his hands clasped in front of his stomach, a smile frozen on his face. He seems entirely unthreatening and looking back, the Doctor finds that he almost expected to see him here. So it takes him a moment to register that the man's smile is literally frozen on his face, the lips dried and permanently drawn from his teeth.
His eyes do not have the right shape. They are too deeply sunken into sockets that are too high and too wide, and on top of his head is not hair but feathers. An ornament probably, but perhaps they just grow there. It's not a creature the Doctor has ever seen the likes of before, but he doesn't question it or wonder what it might be.
“It has been a long time since the last time someone found our humble temple,” the man says in the language the Doctor never heard before. “Or since our humble temple found someone of our affiliation, as it is.” The man chuckled. “Welcome, welcome. How long will you be staying?”
“Not long, if we can in any way arrange that,” the Doctor replies, aiming for friendly. “In fact, we seem to have come here rather by accident.”
He is about to ask what this place is, when the man says, “There are no accidents like that, my Lord, as well you know. You are here because it is your place, and you have been called to give praise, as is our masters' due.”
The Doctor is rather determined to never give praise to anyone calling themselves Master, but the frozen grin of their friendly host tells him that it would be better not to point that out. “Of course, of course,” he agrees. “It just happened rather unexpectedly, I must confess. We were actually on the way to somewhere else.”
“Oh, it happens these days. So few of us are left, that the Temple will take any agent who comes into reach. I hope this delay will not be too inconvenient. You will be send back to the moment you were taken from, naturally, so there should not be too much on an issue. Now, do you want me to show you to the Hall of Meditation? The layout of our Temple differs slightly from the others, so you might get lost if this is your first time around here.”
“As you know it is,” the Doctor guesses, and can tell from the stranger's slight bow that he guessed right. “But this place still seems straightforward enough. I believe we will take our chances and try to find the Hall on our own.”
“As you wish, my Lord.” The man bows again, then he looks, for the first time, at Jamie, who is still looking over the Doctor's shoulder. “Will your... servant?” He throws the Doctor an inquiring look, and the Doctor gets the impression that the alternative guess would have been 'pet'.
“Friend,” he says, sternly.
“...will your friend accompany you or do you need us to occupy him otherwise? I am not sure the Hall is quite tuned in to his likes. This place has been created for higher beings, such as you.”
“He will come with me wherever I go,” the Doctor declares with a glare and a frown. If the other is bothered by that, he doesn't let it show.
“Of course, my Lord. With agents of your kind being so rare, one must do with whatever one can find. Then follow the hall and keep right twice. You cannot miss it. It is, after all, the heart of our structure.”
“Of course it is.” The Doctor fixes a smile on his face no less petrified than the man's, and starts walking down the hall. Jamie remains attached to his arm, as the Doctor was to his, before.
“What is that lad?” Jamie whispers, not as quietly as he probably believes. “Is it even a lad? Doctor, what is this place? Why did you understand what he was saying?”
“You didn't?” The Doctor nods slowly. “Yes, I suppose that makes sense.” He doesn't know the language, so the TARDIS could not translate it for his companion. How he himself understood it is beyond him. Perhaps there was telepathy involved. And come to think of it, he did find some familiarities in this language to his own, the language he grew up with – but twisted almost beyond recognition.
The Doctor says nothing of this, or anything else, until they reach the Hall of Meditation, for their host keeps his eyes on them until they turn the corner, and he doesn't want to give away that they have no idea what they are doing here.
“It seems this place is some kind of temple,” he finally explains when they are alone, “and we are supposed to give praise before we're back on our way. Now, that shouldn't be too much of a problem.”
“How do we give praise here?” Jamie wonders, looking around.
“Oh, I should think we do not,” the Doctor answers, doing the same. “I suggest we simply stay in here for a while and be on our way once enough time has passed not be suspicious.” However long that might be. The Doctor suspects it will feel like enough time has passed once he is done examining this room.
The Hall of Meditation is only about three times as large as the TARDIS' console room. It is circular, with pillars placed throughout and overlapping circles of various sizes on the floor. The look familiar enough that the Doctor imagines seeing the room from a great height, picturing the constellation in his mind. It looks like Gallifreyan writing, but if it is supposed to be, he cannot make any sense of it.
There are more busts in the walls, making the place reminiscent of a Terran temple. Only humans have the habit of putting the likeness of people anywhere and everywhere, because apparently everything is better with faces on it. It always seemed a bit over the top to the Doctor, but then, Time Lords change their faces frequently and use sight as a secondary sense when it comes to recognition, so it is unsurprising that Gallifrey does not have much of an equivalent for this.
Between the busts is writing. The Doctor cannot read it, but it is definitely related to circular Gallifreyan. Sometimes he thinks he can make out words or phrases, but when he concentrates on it, the meaning scatters. How, he wonders, can it be that he can understand the spoken word here, but not the written one?
And how can there be a corrupted version of Gallifreyan used in this place, a language designed to be incorruptible?
The writing seems to tell stories. This being a temple, he would have expected prayers or praises, but that is not what this appears to be. He doesn't know how he knows this, but these writings simply give accounts of history – possibly even unadorned.
“Interesting,” he muses.
“What is it, Doctor?” asks Jamie, who seems considerably less interested.
“Well, it's hard to say, Jamie, but this whole complex seems designed to amplify belief.”
Jamie marvels over that for a moment. “Well, it is a temple,” he points out eventually. “Isn't it the point of a temple to pray in it, like it counts more than if you do it outside?”
“It's not that simple. I think – and I can be mistaken, of course – but it seems to me that actual prayer is no necessary in here. All you need to do is read those stories and think about them, and the ideas they carry are enhanced and send elsewhere.”
“Send elsewhere?” Jamie pulls a face, as he does when he thinks the Doctor should use plainer explanations, but then, how could it be any plainer than this? “Where, Doctor? How do you send an idea?”
“Oh, generally by having it, in this case. And by carrying it on.” He taps his fingers against each other, fascinated but also feeling strangely uneasy. “An idea is basically unkillable. That's why it's appealing for some creatures to give up their physical existence and relocate into conceptual space.”
“Conceptual space?” There is a hint of annoyance in Jamie's voice.
“Imagine it like a sort of fantasy world inside your head, populated with any creature you can think of, or that anybody tells you about. Then imagine that fantasy world is a real place, and everything is sustained by you thinking about it, and every time I tell you of another creature it then also exists in that world, forever.” It is a gross simplification, but the Doctor refrains form pointing that out, for once acknowledging that Jamie's patience is rather strained already.
“Then that world would be pretty terrifying,” Jamie tells him dryly. “Most of the creatures you tell me about are monsters.”
And most of the creatures he gets to show him are, too. Monsters they have fought together, however. Surely that is worth something, or Jamie would not have decided to come back.
Out loud, the Doctor admits, “There is a lot of strangeness in that space. Fortunately, most of it stays where it is. That is the thing with not being physically real. It somewhat limits your actions.” He looks at the writing again, at the faces beside them. It doesn't matter if those depictions are accurate; they only need to be linked to the notion of the person. “And yet, sometimes physical creatures become beings of pure concept on purpose.”
“But why would anyone that do that? What is that even like? Can they still do things that people don't think of first?”
“Yes, Jamie, I believe they can. As for the Why... I just don't know.” He can't help but sound a little bit petulant, because he really hates not knowing, and because it beats sounding a little bit nervous. “But they must have had a good reason. Perhaps they feared for their lives so much that they thought becoming an idea was the only way to continue existing.”
“Well, if I had the means to become something like that, nothing would scare me enough to actually do it,” Jamie declares confidently. The Doctor frowns thoughtfully, then nods.
“Quite right. Perhaps that is not even what happened. After all, I cannot read all this and we cannot ask, so we might just never find out. Oh dear...” He trails off, looks at the door. Imagines the hallway behind, the way to the exit. He still does not sense any threat from this place, but he feels an increasingly urgent need to leave now.
“Do you think we've been in here long enough?” Jamie asks, as if he read his thoughts. Probably he's just bored. “How long are we expected to pray anyway? Or speak about them, as you said.”
“Which incidentally we just did. And I suspect any length of time is long enough. This building, maybe even this planet, is created to make all your thoughts of them count more, in order to sustain their existence. You really don't need to follow any protocol to accomplish that.”
“Why is that necessary, if an idea can't be killed?”
“It can still become weak and faded if there are not enough people around to have it. I wonder if they created places like this as a precaution, or because there aren't many of their followers left.” Their agents, the man outside has called them. The Doctor frowns and doesn't voice his thoughts.
The man also said the Temple is reaching for them, because they have become scarce.
He wonders what happened to them. Who are they? And why does their host believe the Doctor is one of them?
He recognized him as a Time Lord, and did not question his involvement in whatever this is. The Doctor would love to learn more. He needs to learn more. But at the same time he has the overwhelming desire to get out of here and forget all this ever happened.
All his instincts are muted in this place, except for this one. He is going to listen to it.
It's the kind of instinct that tells him he is, as a time-sensitive being, caught in a moment he should better leave alone.
If he stays here, if he interferes, if he even learns too much, the Time Lords would be right with all their accusations. He knows this, in the way of his people, a way he could never explain to Jamie, so he doesn't bring it up. He merely takes his hand and pulls him along as he leaves.
Jamie lets it happen; the Doctor isn't sure he even notices. The hallways leading outside are deserted, and so is the beach as it was before. The water is still black. The sky is still black. The Doctor wonders what lies behind it. What doesn't. The TARDIS is waiting where the waves meet the shore, its artificial glow misplaced in the quiet, dark beauty surrounding it, and so very welcome.
The take off the moment the Doctor presses the first button, and it's not even the dematieralisation one. Beside him, Jamie takes a deep breath.
“It's strange, Doctor,” he muses. “That place seemed so welcoming when we were there, but now I must say that I am very glad to leave it behind.”
Probably not as much as the Doctor. Yet the Time Lord has to admire his human friend's intuition. Sometimes Jamie shows an unconscious insight that is quite unexpected.
“I rather think that's because we were never supposed to be there,” he says. “I, for my part, am quite content to forget this little trip.” Something happens, and they are back in normal space and time. The Doctor didn't previously sense that they weren't. The dread that should have been there comes now, and he manages not to show it.
“It was not even an adventure,” Jamie complains. “And, Doctor, if whatever was being worshipped there feeds on being talked about, did we help it just by being there?”
“Ah, I would not worry about that, Jamie,” the Doctor tells him, worrying slightly. “We do not even know what it is, so I don't think we were any help.” He looks at the symbols on his screen, trying to make sense of them. He blinks, and they do. “And whatever it is, it might not necessarily be evil. I would advise we best forget about it.” He wrings his hands and forces a grin onto his face. “Now, how do you feel about a trip to the Fornax galaxy before the Time Lords get a hold on us again? I rather feel like doing something fun.”
Ever since their strange visit to that strange dark planet, Jamie has been dreaming about it. Almost every night. He finds himself in the Temple. He finds himself underneath that black sky. He finds himself staring into the terrifyingly alien, undead face of that creature his dream always tells him is supposed to be human.
He dreams of the writing on the walls and the Doctor's words. Except in his dreams, the Doctor is not speculating about the Temple's unknown masters. In his dreams, he's telling Jamie a story.
Jamie can never remember the story when he wakes up. Of the dream, he recalls the images but not the dread. He's never afraid to fall asleep.
If the Doctor has the same dreams, he never mentions them. But he doesn't sleep much, so maybe he hasn't found out yet.
Then again, Jamie never mentions the dreams himself. In the end, between their adventures and all the evil monsters they are facing in the real world, it just doesn't seem to be that important.
6 September 2017