The night ended in high spirits, with Polemarchus's insistences that the Doctor and Jamie remain in Athens for at least a few days and join for at least another symposium. The walk to Socrates's house was significantly longer than it had been on the way from it — the Doctor had metabolised the ethanol, but both Jamie and Socrates were — well, not exactly inebriated, but also not sober. A silvery full moon shone upon the streets of the city, giving it an eerie but beautiful atmosphere. The Doctor smiled upon the sight of his young companion in such a cheerful mood, as Socrates delighted in teaching Jamie some risqué rhymes from famous plays. He would almost contemplate Polemarchus's invitation to stay for a few days if it put Jamie in such a happy mood and the moon reflected the light from its nearest star so brightly on their little party. The Doctor had seen Jamie so sad, after the loss of his laird and later Victoria — or was that not so long ago? — and he had seen him angry — with him, the Doctor, too, once Jamie had realised that he had been manipulated — and he had seen the boy in pain. The Doctor winced when he thought of Jamie being in pain. Jamie in pain hurt him just as much, if not more.
He could not entirely blame his Third incarnation's antagonism towards himself if he had somehow lost Jamie by causing him pain or sadness or anger. Even if his Third incarnation did look like an overgrown cotton ball in velvet.
But Jamie's happiness — it lifted and warmed both his hearts to see his beloved friend, his philos, this happy, and would do everything in his power to keep him that way.
Even if that meant keeping the depth of his feelings to himself.
Socrates had barely left them when the Doctor again collapsed under the impact of a precognition. Their room was dark, being unlit, and with eyes yet unaccustomed to the dark, even Gallifreyan eyes, and a mind briefly unguarded and unburdened, the time fissure had almost free rein to transmit some of the most horrible notions of what should only be one of many possible futures.
Before his inward eye, the towering spires of the Academy came crashing down, covering Skaroene and Gallifreyan alike in a thick, suffocating layer of dust and rubble and deadly shards of rock. The thick blanket of grey spread wide, equal to the height of the spires. Prospective Time Lords, boarded there and huddling with their teachers in the shelters of the Academy could not have survived — they would die and regenerate over and over again under the thick ruins, passing through the pain that was complete cell-regeneration twelve times, experiencing gruesome pains alongside the burning lungs of dust-coated asphyxiation.
Daleks rejoiced in sickening monotone over the bringing down of the Academy.
He ran. He had always been running.
Then there was nothing.
Sand under his feet, his shoes, and dry sharp ridges on the horizon, and a blue and orange sky illuminated by twin stars.
His planet was burning. His home was burning. His people were burning.
Fire and death and pain, and so many regenerations over and over and over again and boiling skin and blistering lungs and hearts breaking all over Gallifrey.
Jamie shook him out of it, looking at him with questioning eyes but not asking the question. The Doctor twitched. He wanted to hold him, hold him close, never let go, never leave.
It was one thing to run away from home and vow to never return — to never be able to return because you have stolen a TT-capsule and they don't particularly approve of your choice of company and behaviour. It was another thing to cause it to burn.
The Doctor clung to Jamie's arm to steady himself; Jamie kept his gaze on him, his eyes still dark, darker still in the dark of the room, his chiton clinging to his strong form.
“Jamie” he muttered. “Come along.”
“It's the time knot, you see, that's what's causing this. We need to go and stop it.”
They scooped up their bundles of clothes and soundlessly slipped out of Socrates' home, keeping to the shadows of Athens, tiptoeing about. He had always been good at slipping away without a goodbye, and Jamie was getting increasingly good at it too.
It wasn't so much that he wanted to leave unnoticed, but goodbyes were always painful. He hadn't ever had a goodbye that wasn't — when Susan first left him, he had thought both his hearts would break, and yet they didn't. He may have forced the departure, but in her hearts she had bid him goodbye already at that point. He had been edgy for weeks, sending dear Barbara almost in a fit and antagonising Ian. Then sweet Vicki came along and it had been as if he had regained a daughter. But then both Ian and Barbara decided to leave, and he had understood, just as he had understood Susan's need to stay. They all left him, they would all leave him, and in the end it was better to just slip away without having to say goodbye at all.
It was easier that way.