Jamie suddenly halted. The Doctor did not notice at first, but when he no longer heard the crunch of Jamie's footsteps on the soil, he looked about for him and found him standing several steps back, eyes trained on the Parthenon.
“Come along, Jamie,” the Doctor urged. Strange how Jamie would readily accept any alien terror but the history of his own planet so puzzled him.
The Doctor began to fear some sort of pending doom, given the look on Jamie's face, if it had not been for the fact that he had noticed nothing of account about the polis just now. He wrung his hands before gesturing at Jamie to join him. Jamie flatly refused even if he did not explicitly say or gesture so.
“What is it, Jamie?”
“If this is Athens...”
“Shouldn't it be white?”
That! Silly boy. Clever boy. Such was the downside of using more or less contemporary history books to teach Jamie about his own past. It was not until the late twentieth and early twenty-first century that humanity at large begun to appreciate past-as-was without embellishments. He does love humans. They perceive so peculiarly.
The Doctor clasped his hands again and nodded at Jamie indulgently.
“Yes. Well. You see, it wasn't. People just thought it was.”
The boy still seemed unsure. The Doctor trudged back to him and Jamie looked up at him with large, dark eyes.
So innocent. Even the most war-torn of humans retain their deepest innocence, unspoiled as they are by the lack of intergalactic trench warfare, their most vicious battles limited to mere interstellar blitzes.
He shook off a future memory and shivered briefly at it.
“Wha' 's wrong?”
His inward eye watched fearfully the dead, bloodied and dark, falling bluntly against the fire. They were falling on every part of the darkened fields, on the red-grassed mountains, falling fearfully in Arcadia, and, further on, in the broken spires of the Capitol. They were falling, too, in every part of his future memory. They fell with their blood-stained blood red robes mud-soiled, their eyes broken and empty, their faces grim and scared.
When he opened his eyes he found himself sitting on the soil, clutching his head, Jamie holding his shoulders.
This was not his. It couldn't be. Gallifrey at war was a ridiculous notion — nothing could even get through its defences, not after the skirmish with the Sontarans and the Vardans — but that was not his either. He felt, rather than saw, a blue eye globe.
Of all beings.
Something was wrong. His mind felt numb, like it was drowning. Like he was drowning, and he saw, even in the bright daylight, the darkness of a night-time Gallifrey unlit, reverting to primitive defence strategies when the worst of the worst proved ineffective.
And then he felt the pain.
Not physically, not the dull ache of a blow or the sharp ache of weaponry, but the mental and emotional pain of grief and guilt and anguish. It burnt through him, searing his hearts and mind, etching deeply.
He had killed them.
He would kill them.
He felt scared. More scared than he had ever felt, more scared than when he had to ask the Time Lords for assistance and knew they would condemn him to what is essentially his regeneration singular death. He was still postponing it. More scared than when dear Barbara and Chesterton first would not back down in the junkyard. More scared than when Adric would not evacuate.
He felt scared of his future self, the thing he had always be running away to.
“Doctor, are you all right?”
Those beautifully innocent, dark eyes. The Doctor released his head.
“Yes Jamie, I am quite all right, thank you. Just the heat, I suppose.” He wiped his brow.
He should not be having these thoughts; something must have gone wrong when he (regeneration plural) untangled the time knot.
Xenoi. Strangers, foreigners. Possible enemies. Alien. Interchangeable concepts in Ancient Greek. As such, the Athenian citizens and slaves regarded them warily, but not hostile. Stood on the agora, they admired the temple on the hill, Jamie still apprehensive of its gaudy palette.
“Carved it myself, I did.”
The Doctor turned around and faced a grinning Athenian, pointing at details on the frieze too far away to spot.
“Best piece of stone cutting on the entire temple.”
“Yes, it is very nice,” the Doctor nodded in an attempt at politeness, keeping an eye on Jamie who had begun to wander off to admire other aspect of Athenian life.
“You are xenoi,” he said. It was not a question. Not in form, in any case. It's illocutionary function was, nevertheless, interrogative. Plural.
“Yes,” the Doctor answered.
“I followed you from the polis's edge when I heard you tell your eromenos about our polis as if it were the past.”
The Doctor answered not. Jamie, eromenos? His eromenos? To Athenian standards, Jamie would be somewhat too old for being an eromenos now, and even then the Doctor had hardly regarded him as such. It was of course fascinating how the Athenians considered sex an integral part of a young male citizen's upbringing and entry into public life, but Jamie would be thoroughly scandalised by the notion. He could hardly handle his infatuation with Victoria as it had been. The Doctor had regarded himself, if forced to fit that framework, more as the boy's paedagogos, not his erastes.
The man was barefoot.
“What is your name?” the Doctor asked him.
The man grinned. “Why?”
“Well, I like to know things.”
The man's grin widened. “Then you are in luck.”
“Because I know everything.”
The Doctor smiled indulgently. “Yes...”
The man grasped his wrist in greeting. “My name is Socrates.”
The Doctor chuckled briefly. “I am the Doctor.”
“May I invite you both to a humble dinner?”