The waters of Venice are no longer safe. They are the nurseries of the Saturnine children, who feed on whatever falls beneath the surface. It doesn't matter, there are few humans left to fall into the canals.
The Doctor and Rosanna hold court over the city, a careful balance of compassion and ruthlessness. (Which is which depends on who you ask.) For a year the city has existed in a state beyond the normal world, carefully hidden by the Doctor's tricks. The Saturnine may have one city, no more. Most of the Venetians left safely when the Doctor told them to; the rest were left for Rosanna to deal with.
He gave them a chance; that's all they should have needed.
They play chess on a balcony overlooking the canals and bridges — the business of running the city leaves time for play, on occasion. The game is alien to her, something she never bothered to learn before the Doctor arrived.
“This one moves..?”
“Like so,” he demonstrates, hand over hers. He strokes the skin before leaving her hand. “Your perception filter must moisturise,” he says.
“Why pretend to be something less than beautiful?”
“Why indeed?” He leaves a bishop in jeopardy in the spirit of fairness.
She shrugs. “You fill in my beauty when you see me as Human. It's nothing I control.”
“Who said I see you as Human?”
She smiles. “But you do see me as beautiful?”
“Probably,” he says, responding to her last move without much thought.
“Is there a woman?” she asks.
Amy has Rory. He has... “No. There's no one. Are you proposing something?”
She tilts her head. “Would you like me to?”
“We're hardly compatible.”
“It's a very convincing perception filter,” she says. Then, “Mate in six moves.”
The Doctor stares at her.
He visits Amy in the afternoon. She walks the city freely, imprisoned by time. He manages to catch her without her shadow, who he really does try to like. Rory has been giving the task of feeding the few Human survivors who remain, Amy is the Doctor's ambassador to humanity.
She doesn't hug him much these days.
“How's life with the Wicked Witch of the West?”
“She's not a witch,” says the Doctor, calmly.
“Fine, the Wicked Fish of the West.”
“You don't have to stay here, Amy,” he says with sudden irritation. “I could take you two home any time you want.”
“You need someone to stop you.”
The Doctor steps into Amy's personal space. “I do not,” he says, “need anyone to do anything.”
She doesn't flinch. “I don't know what's happened to you. Are you even the Doctor any more?”
“I'm helping people.” He steps back. “There are plenty of Humans on this planet, I couldn't just let the Saturnine people die. If you had any sense of perspective -”
“I don't want to hear it. I don't want to hear you justifying murder again.”
“I told them to leave,” he says. “They knew what would happen if they stayed.”
“You gave their city away.”
“Humans,” he says with something like anger. “I don't know why I like you so much.”
“You like having someone to be impressed by you. You like showing the primitives how clever you are.”
“It's nothing like that!”
“It's everything like that.” She turns to look out the window. “Go back to your girlfriend, I'm tired of this conversation.”
Everyone in the city steps aside to let him pass, which today is a blessing. Human and Saturnine are equally afraid of what he might do when roused. He walks quickly back to Rosanna, who doesn't hold it against him that he saved her people. The rain is acid on his skin but he doesn't care. It feels like a caress.
He lies with his head on her lap, her pretend-fingers stroking through his hair.
“I should have sent them home. She's too young to understand.”
“You love her too much,” says Rosanna.
“I try not to.”
“Love is our curse,” she says sadly. “To care for people who will never understand us.” She smooths his hair over his head. “I could make her more... agreeable.”
“Why not? I could make her whatever you desire. You could talk to her, laugh with her, take her to bed.”
The Doctor sits up and stares at her. “I believe that's the worst thing you've ever suggested.”
“Worse than taking the city?” she asks lightly.
“That,” he says, “was necessary.” He shakes his head. “Amy stays as she is.”
“A shame,” says Rosanna, rising to her feet, “I thought perhaps we could have Time Lords in the city as well as my own people.”
The Doctor stands as well. “It wouldn't be the same.”
“What ever is?”
“There you go again with your suggestions. It must be mating season.”
Rosanna laughs. “Yes, Doctor, I'll lay my eggs and invite you to fertilise them with your seed.” She touches his arm. “I don't expect you to find me attractive.”
“I must look hideous to you,” he says with a half-smile.
“I've grown used to you.”
“Think of the children,” she jokes.
The Doctor looks at her. “Yes,” he says, “maybe we should.”