“Jamie!” The Doctor called out to him, jogging up the hill, his arms windmilling about so wildly it was a wonder he didn’t topple over. “Jamie! There you are, Jamie.” He skidded to a halt, panting. “I’ve spoken to the villagers. It’s all arranged. They’re going to give us transport out to the islands tomorrow, so we can collect Polly and Ben.”
“Oh,” said Jamie. “Oh, aye.” He scrubbed at his face. He was dog-tired. He felt a twinge of guilt, for he’d all but forgotten about Ben and Polly. In the fear and the excitement, he’d forgotten it wasn’t over, not yet. They still had business here.
“They’re ever so grateful,” said the Doctor. “They’re going to throw a party in our honour! Isn’t that kind of them?”
“Aye,” said Jamie, nodding along. “That’s great.”
“With cake,” said the Doctor. “And dancing. And streamers! And — now, what’s that face for?”
“Eh?” Jamie realised all at once how morose he must look. “Oh, sorry.”
The Doctor had every right to be excited. It wasn’t often people thanked him for saving their world, let alone threw him a party. And the little man had a boundless energy about him, as if he could keep running forever. But Jamie was tired, and drained, and aching all over. Since they’d landed on Cyrenia, he’d been thrown out of a flying coach, held at gunpoint, almost drowned (twice), taken a knock to the head that had stunned him and left a bump the size of Ben Nevis, and very nearly been eaten alive. “I’m just no’ really in the mood for a party.”
The Doctor’s grin fell away. “Oh, dear,” he said, wringing his hands. “Is it — are you worried about Ben and Polly?”
“Aye, I suppose,” said Jamie.
“They’re perfectly alright,” said the Doctor. “They were safer than we were, out at sea — they said they’d had a rather quiet time, remember?”
They’d spoken to Ben and Polly over the radio earlier in the evening. Only a short chat, before the signal cut out, but enough to reassure them. “It’s no’ just that,” said Jamie. “I’m tired. Look, Doctor, I — I want tae go home.”
The Doctor gave him a blank stare. Then in a moment, his face dropped. “Oh,” he said softly. “Well, that’s — that’s alright.”
“I’m really tired,” said Jamie. He wanted to sleep for at least a week, and then have a proper bath, and then go to the party.
“I quite understand,” said the Doctor. “I suppose it has been a rather, ah, harrowing sort of week.”
“You can say that again,” Jamie agreed.
“Well.” The Doctor drew himself up taller, suddenly looking terribly serious. “I, I can’t make any promises, you know how the TARDIS is, but I, I shall do my best.”
“I can’t say I’m not — that is to say, ah, I —” The Doctor cleared his throat. “Well, well if that’s what you want, I’ll do whatever I can.”
“Erm.” Jamie rubbed at his eyes. He was too tired for this by half, but the conversation seemed to have stopped making sense.
“I had hoped you might —” the Doctor said. “I mean to say, there were ever so many places I — but it’s your decision, of course.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Jamie said. The Doctor was giving him such a sad look now. He looked like he’d just heard some dreadful news. It was starting to dawn on Jamie that they might be having two altogether different conversations.
“You,” said the Doctor. “Going home.”
“Eh?” said Jamie. And then, in his sleepy mind, understanding finally blossomed. “Och, no. I didnae mean it like that, Doctor.”
“It’s quite alright,” the Doctor assured him.
“No, it’s — Doctor, I only meant I want tae go back to the TARDIS.”
The Doctor stared at him. He put his fingers to his mouth in thought. Jamie could see him puzzling it out, his eyebrows climbing up his face as he realised what had happened. “Oh,” he said. “I, ah, I think I might have misunderstood.”
“I think you might’ve,” said Jamie. “I just want tae go to bed. That’s all I —”
“Oh, my goodness,” said the Doctor, flushing pink.
“I’m sorry,” said Jamie.
“No no, don’t apologise —”
“I should have been clearer —”
“It was, ah, it was my mistake, really —”
“It just sort of came out that way,” Jamie. The words had spilled off his tongue, I want to go home. He hadn’t thought about it. The TARDIS was home now. He didn’t know when or how he’d come to think of it that way, but there it was.
“I — I think I might have made a bit of a fool of myself,” said the Doctor.
“No, you — ach. You really thought I wanted to leave?”
“I can’t say I’d blame you,” said the Doctor. “Everyone does, sooner or later. I only thought — oh, my.”
Jamie wrapped his arms around the Doctor, and hugged him tight. “Wee daftie,” he said.
“Goodness me,” said the Doctor in a small voice.
“You’ll no’ get rid of me that easy,” Jamie told him. “You just try.”
Slowly, the Doctor’s arms looped around his waist, hugging back. All at once it hit Jamie that they hadn’t done this before. It was nice, hugging the Doctor. It felt nice.
With a sigh, he pulled away, cuffed the Doctor lightly on the arm. “Can we, though?”
“Can we go home?”
“Oh! Oh, yes,” said the Doctor. “Yes. You need your rest.”
“I’m asleep on my feet,” Jamie confessed.
Smiling at him ever so fondly, the Doctor squeezed his shoulder. “Let’s go home.”
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