Titled: Via Scribs
A Harder Battle. (From Plato apparently, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle")
Disclaimer: Nothing in this belongs to me, I'm just haveing fun, yada, yada, yada.
‘Egypt!’ proclaimed the Doctor as he stepped out into the brightly lit stone corridor. ‘Ancient Egypt if I’m not very much mistaken. Around the time of…’ he paused and inspected some of the engravings on the walls, tugging at one ear lobe thoughtfully.
Rose, stepping out of the TARDIS just behind him, gazing at the surroundings wide eyed.
‘Around three thousand BC,’ The Doctor finished, leaning away from the walls, ‘possibly in or around the reign of the Nameless Pharaoh. Interesting period.’
‘Nameless Pharaoh?’ echoed Rose, incredulous. ‘Who was he?’
‘That’s what I’d like to know,’ admitted the Doctor. ‘All that is known is that he was a great ruler who practically single headedly defeated an alien invasion. His name was erased from the all records though. I’ve always wondered why… what they were trying to hide…’
‘Hold on,’ said Rose, ‘you’re saying that they had alien invasions in the time of Ancient Egypt?’
‘Funny thing, you humans, you’ll believe the most extraordinary things but deny actual events. Alien invasions become demonic monsters, demonic monsters become gods, gods become legends, legends become superstition, superstition becomes plane old clap-trap. Amazing. So, fancy meeting the king of Egypt?’
‘Er…’ Rose’s eyes were focussed on something over his shoulder. ‘I think that’s gonna have to wait.’
The Doctor spun on his heel and came face to face with a small contingent of armed guards. Each carried a spear and they were led by a well built man with black-blue hair and narrow, intense eyes. Around his neck hung a golden amulet, a stylized ring with an eye at the centre.
‘Who are you?’ he snapped. ‘What are you doing in the palace!’
‘I’m the Doctor,’ said the man in question, quickly, ‘and this is my companion, Rose. We’re from the land of Tadisia we…’ before he had to struggle for an explanation other man’s eyes widened in apparent comprehension.
‘You’re a physician?’ he stated as much as asked. ‘You’ve come to treat the Pharaoh! Please, come with me!’
‘Looks like you’re going to get your wish,’ remarked Rose dryly to her companion as they followed the guards down the endless stone corridors.
They were led to a large chamber, its walls brilliant with colourful frescoes, the golden furniture clad in soft silks and cottons. In the centre of all this was a large bed, it’s occupant hidden by draping curtains. Rose could just make out another form behind the curtains as well, one which bowed over the prostate body within, poking and prodding.
There were other people there too, all stood close to the door and away from the veiled bed. Many of them wore the garb and ancient Egypt and, Rose noticed, most seemed to hold or have various golden artefacts upon their persons. Gold must really be in fashion this season.
‘I have brought another physician!’ amulet-man declared.
‘He’ll have to wait until the Greek is finished,’ replied an elderly Egyptian with what appeared to be a golden orb for a left eye.
‘That’s all right,’ said the Doctor, moving to take a seat on one of the decorative marble slabs that probably served as a table. ‘I don’t mind waiting.’
Most of the crowd gave him shocked looks, but the Doctor just grinned, tapping one foot jauntily on the floor.
Rose noticed that the only person who didn’t appear to be staring at him was a boy, she’d guess of about eleven or twelve by the height, who’s eyes were still fixed upon the bed in the centre of the room. He had oddest hair she’d ever seen, on human or alien. It appeared to have been gelled straight up and died various colours, including bright, vibrant gold.
‘I hope he is fast,’ the boy remarked and his voice was much deeper than Rose would have imagined. ‘My father’s illness grows worse.’
‘That’s your dad in there?’ asked Rose and the boy turned to her, frowning.
‘Of course,’ he said, gruffly.
Rose paused, then reached out, touching the boy lightly upon his shoulder. ‘Don’t worry,’ she said, ‘the Doctor is amazing… he’ll help.’
She practically felt the Doctor’s disapproving gaze upon the nape of her neck, but she ignored it.
The boy tensed under her hand and took a quick step back. ‘Do not touch me like that,’ he said harshly. ‘And do not presume that I am… worried. What will happen is the will of the Gods.’
Rose was suddenly aware that every eye in the room rested firmly on her. She shrugged and stepped away, slipping her hands in her pockets a little self consciously.
After a few moments the Greek returned and the Doctor stepped forward. He moved briskly towards the bed, lifting the gauze drapes and slipping inside to examine the pharaoh.
A short while later he returned, face solemn.
‘Well?’ asked one of the Egyptians, a tall stately man with blue eyes and a long, golden rod that was probably compensating for something, ‘What is your prognosis?’
‘Sire,’ oozed one of the physicians, ‘it seems to me as if some great demon has taken over his soul. A beast of darkness that can only be excursed by holy rituals that I-‘
‘Nonsense!’ sneered the Greek, shoving the other man aside, ‘The King’s condition is obviously caused by an imbalance of humours! Lords; if you allow me to bleed him then-‘
‘Don’t be foolish!’ snarled a third, ‘I agree that his body is possessed by some darkness, but only by clearing the canals of his body and restoring the flow of primal energy!’
‘And what of you, Tardisian?’ said the guard with the Golden Ring who had found them. ‘What treatment would you prescribe?’
‘Nothing,’ said the Doctor simply, his eyes sad. He turned to the boy, ‘I’m sorry. Your father’s condition is terminal. There’s nothing I can do for him except make him more comfortable.’
A great silence fell over the room and, not for the first time, Rose wished the Doctor could have said something else. But then he probably wouldn’t be the Doctor if he could.
The silence was broken by the young pharaoh to be.
The boy stood stiffly, his hands clenched by his sides. ‘I see,’ he said simply, his voice deeper and more resonant than Rose would have expected from one of his age. But, even so, she recognised a tell-tale tremble beneath it. ‘Thank you for your opinions. Isis,’ he turned to a woman with a bulky golden necklace about her slender neck, ‘send for whatever herbs and curatives this… Doctor asks for. Mahado, please fetch gold from the chambers and reward the physicians with five cubit’s of gold, and the Doctor with twenty. Achenaden I require you to start work in preparing my father’s tomb for his entrance, ensure that all the details are complete. Solomon, you must start plans for my father’s passing feast so-‘
‘Hold on!’ said Rose, ‘That’s it? You’re just going to… continue? Don’t you care?’
‘Rose…’ said the Doctor warningly as the young pharaoh-to-be turned his dark-red-brown eyes upon her.
‘Excuse me?’ he said, his voice held an unmistakable note of challenge.
‘Your dad’s dying,’ continued Rose, undaunted, ‘and you’re just… planning his funeral? Don’t you care?’
‘Of course I care!’ snapped back the boy, ‘He’s my father and he’s-‘ he stopped suddenly, blinked, his fists clenching and unclenching. ‘I... need to go.’ He said, ‘Set, please finish attending to matters I shall be… I wish to be alone.’
With these words he turned on his gold-sandaled heel and strode away, his short legs carrying him at a surprising speed across the room and through the doors.
Rose frowned and moved to follow him, only to be stopped by the Doctor’s strong hand upon her shoulder.
‘Rose, don’t,’ he said softly.
‘Why not?’ she asked. ‘He’s a kid! He’s just lost his dad!’
‘He’s also considered as a god in-carnet by these people,’ hissed the Doctor, his eyes flickering briefly around the room. ‘Not the sort that needs hugs.’
‘Yeah, well some people think you’re a god, too.’ replied Rose simply, and the Doctor let go of her shoulder.
She turns and marches out of the door, trying to recall which way the kid went. Behind her she hears the shout of the Pharaoh’s advisors and the Doctor’s quick words.
‘Don’t worry! Rose can take care of herself and anyone else, come to think about it. Now, about these herbs…’
She was lucky, and she was a little faster than him. It took her a few minutes of jogging and a little guess work but she managed to trace his steps.
He’d gone to one of the larger rooms in this maze of a palace and, from there, seemed to have climbed out of the window and onto a ledge that ran across the outside of the massive building. Following it herself hadn’t been an easy task but it had been a rewarding one when, at last, she had come across him sitting, knees up to his chest, upon a wider area of that ledge. A little nook, all but hidden away from the prying eyes of servants but looking out onto the large city-scape of Egypt.
‘Hay,’ she said softly, by way of announcing her presence as she moved up behind him.
The boy twisted round to see her, then turned back away quickly, his hand moving to scrap his face. ‘Go away,’ he commanded, though this time his voice wavered a little. ‘Do not approach me!’
‘It’s alright,’ said Rose, as gently as she could manage.
‘I said stay back!’ the boy’s voice was louder now, hands clenching by his sides once more. ‘Leave me alone! I command it!’
‘Or what? You’re not Pharaoh yet.’
‘I can still have you beheaded!’
‘Why? It’s not like I’m gonna kill you I just… wanted to check you were OK.’
‘I am fine! Now leave me alone!’
‘Yeah,’ said Rose, sitting down next to him and putting an arm around his stiff shoulders. ‘I know you are. It’s alright.’
He sat like that for a few moments, muscles tense and hard around her embrace before, at last, he fell into it. She brought up her other arm to catch him fully, holding him as sobs racked his body.
She’d been fourteen when Mickie’s Gran had died and too young to be any good at the time. She’d watched, old enough to know what had happened but just this side of too young to react to it, as her mother had comforted Mickie, holding him whilst he had sobbed uselessly. Mickie wasn’t exactly what you’d call the hardest of lads, but he’d never cried. Not like that, not like the world was ending and everything, even his pride, was just… gone. It had been so scary and so wrong to have to see her best friend such a wreck and able to do nothing, nothing at all.
The young Pharaoh was just the same and Rose knew, with a strange certainty that, like love, grief was one of the universal constants. He couldn’t have been any older than Mickie back then (if anything he must be younger!) and his brown face crinkled and went red and wet just as little Mickie’s had, his snot and tears dissolving into Rose’s T-shirt. So much for being a living God.
When it was over he leaned away again, wiping his face with his hands and arms and sitting, very still, facing away from her.
She let silence fall between them for a bit until he said, trembling and a little awkward, ‘You will not… you must not tell anyone…’
‘It’s Ok,’ she soothed, quickly. ‘I won’t tell a soul.’
The boy turned to face her again, his eyes wide and fearful, ‘If you do I… I’ll have you beheaded!’
She blinked, ‘Oy, I said I wouldn’t tell anyone. You don’t need to go threatening me!’
‘I… I am… sorry,’ the kid sounded confused and uncertain. He turned away once more and Rose felt the heavy silence begin to settle in again.
‘What’s your name?’ she asked.
‘Your name,’ she reiterated, ‘What do people call you?’
‘They call me Your Highness,’ replied the boy, deadly serious. ‘Or your majesty, or little prince, or even Young Master. My father calls me Son.’
‘Yeah, but those are all titles. What’s your name? You do have one, right?
‘Of course!’ he sounded indignant now.
‘Right, then what is it?’
‘I… my name is Atemu.’ The boy, Atemu, sat up a little straighter, his eyes gazing deep into hers. ‘My name is Atemu.’
Rose felt an odd shiver run through her as he said those words, like the sound of thunder, or heavy blocks moving.
‘Right,’ she said, shaking the feeling away, ‘my name is Rose Tylar. And while you are here, with me, you are not a Pharaoh or a prince. You’re just Atemu. And I’m just Rose. And… look, I can’t help your dad, I can’t give you any advice about running a kingdom or anything like that but if you want to just… just talk then I’m here to listen, OK? As a mate.’
‘As a… friend?’ Atemu said the word slowly, as if tasting it, swilling it around his mouth.
‘Yeah, you’ve got those, right? Friends?’
‘I have Mana,’ said Atemu slowly, ‘and I have Mahaad but…’ he sighed, his shoulders loosing some of their stiff formality at last. ‘It is difficult,’ he confessed at last. ‘Now that my time as Pharaoh approaches I must move away from them. I must prepare myself for the responsibilities I have to my people.’
‘Sounds tough,’ said Rose, leaning back onto one of the walls of the palace, her eyes lingering on the vista spread out before them. ‘You’re still only a kid.’
Atemu frowned, ‘I am a man,’ he said, gruffly, ‘I came of age four years ago!’
‘You never!’ said Rose, startled, ‘come off it! You can’t be any older than thirteen!’
‘I am sixteen!’ Atemu protested.
‘But you’re tiny!’
‘What?’ A look of complete confusion crossed Atemu’s face.
‘Tiny,’ repeated Rose, ‘pint sized. Wee.’
‘I am not… small!’
‘Yeah you are!’
‘I… no one else has ever said it was so!’
‘Well, yeah but… maybe no one would? Not with you being prince and all.’
‘Maybe not but I’m… I am not small. Am I?’
Atemu blinked, looked down at himself, then looked up at Rose. Looked down at himself, and then at Rose and then… he laughed.
It was more of a chuckle really, a soft, deep rumbling, ‘Very well,’ he chortled, ‘perhaps I am not the tallest member of the royal Court. But if I am small then you,’ he poked a finger at her, ‘are lofty!’
‘I am so not lofty. I’m just the right height.’
‘Indeed, for an obelisk.’
‘Are you calling me fat?’
‘Oh, I’d say more… well rounded.’
‘Well at least I don’t have freaky hair!’
‘No, but I don’t have skin as pale as dead fish!’
‘Says the kid with red eyes!’
‘Says the woman with sun-bleached hair.’
‘Oy! I don’t dye my hair!’
‘Of course not, if you did it would be a good colour. Like black or red, not… white.’
‘My hair is not white! You make me sound like an old woman!’
‘Are you not?’
‘Well then, if sixteen is a child, then nineteen is surely an old hag.’
Rose opened her mouth to retort, but couldn’t quite find the words. Atemu grinned smugly, ‘I win,’ he proclaimed, swinging his legs out merrily. For a moment he looked truly happy and then, moments later, like a dark cloud crossing the sun, his melancholy returned.
‘Scared?’ she asked.
‘No… more… melancholic,’ his lips twisted into a small, bitter grimace. ‘Foolish, is it not? My father is not dead yet, but already I miss him. Selfish also; he is going to be with the Gods, just another step on his journey to paradise and I am selfish enough to begrudge him it. But I… I will miss him.’
‘Of course you will,’ said Rose, leaning into him a little, wondering if he would cry again. ‘But you won’t be alone. You’ll have tonnes of people to help you, right?’
‘I will have the Sacred Guardians but it will not be the same. Even Mana will not… she will no longer call me by my true name. We will not be able to play, as once we did.’
‘This Mana… is she your girlfriend?’
Atemu’s eyes widened, a faint blush spread out across his cheeks, ‘No!’ he protested, ‘We are not… she is not of a position of which she… no!’ He quickly reigned in his emotions, his expression becoming solemn and controlled, ‘She is training to be a magician of the royal court,’ he explained. ‘I would not have her waste her talents in my harem.’
‘Your… what?’ stuttered Rose, aghast, ‘You mean you have a… er…’
‘I… I don’t know,’ said Rose, awkwardly, ‘I just didn’t think you’d… erm… Yeah. Good for you.’
‘Do you wish to join it?’
‘Ah, too enamoured with your ‘Doctor,’ yes?’ There was an evil glint in Atemu’s eyes and Rose had to reign in all her willpower to stop herself from swatting him, all be it playfully.
‘We’re just friends!’ she explained, quickly. ‘Even if we weren’t I’d never join your harem! Or anyone else’s, for that matter.’
Atemu shrugged, ‘A shame,’ he said, offhandedly.
‘What do you mean by that?’
‘I mean,’ he said, his words a little hesitant, ‘that I find your company most… pleasing. It would be nice to have you around for longer… it is nice to have someone who will… call me by my name.’
Rose smiled, ‘Thanks,’ she said, ‘but I can’t. I’ve got someone else who needs me.’
‘He is lucky,’ remarked the Pharaoh to be, solemnly. ‘I sense much power within that one, and much wisdom. But his power makes him lonely, as all power does. It may even make him dangerous and for that he needs you. To guide him through the dark places in the world, to be his voice of morality. I wish,’ he smiled, ‘I hope,’ he corrected himself swiftly, ‘that I may one day find that, also.’
‘I’m sure you will,’ replied Rose, ‘and I know you’ll make a great Pharaoh, Atemu.’
‘Thank you,’ Said Atemu, standing up and proffering one hand to her. She took it and lifted herself to her feet. ‘Will you come to my father’s funeral?’ Atemu asked, ‘It would be good to have a friend there.’
‘Course,’ replied Rose, ‘if The Doctor doesn’t mind.’
‘Thank you, Roz’tilar,’ said Atemu, mangling her name horribly, but with such deep sincerity that it didn’t matter.
‘We should go,’ said the Doctor, ‘now.’
Rose blinked. This wasn’t what she had expected.
‘Scuse me?’ she asked, ‘why?’
‘Because I’ve just worked out exactly when we are,’ said the Doctor, ‘and it’s not a good place to be. One wrong move and we could disrupt some very important events.’
‘Since when have you-‘ Rose began but was cut off when she saw the Doctor was gazing over her shoulder intently.
Turning round she saw that one of the Guardians, an elderly man who was even shorter than Atemu, was moving towards the Pharaoh-to-be, holding some sort of… golden pyramid?
Atemu took the object from the old man’s hands and, as he raised it, Rose could see that it was actually some sort of very bulky pendent made in a similar style to the various other golden artefacts the other palace guardians wore.
‘It’s cold,’ she heard Atemu murmur, ‘and very heavy.’
‘You will grow used to it, Lord,’ comforted the elderly guardian.
Atemu nodded and, with great ceremony, hung it about his neck. The on looking guardians nodded approvingly, as if he had just undertaken some sort of great test. Atemu smiled and looked relived. He turned a little to Rose and gave her a quick, wan, smile.
The Doctor, who had been watching this scene like a hawk returned his gaze to her abruptly, his hands tightening on her shoulders a little.
‘Right then,’ he said merrily, ‘that was fun, wasn’t it? Best be off!’ he swung round to face the assembled Egyptian royalty. ‘Nice being here but you’ve got all the instructions you’ll need and I’ve got things to do so I think that’s it. Take care now. Don’t talk to strange monsters. Be sure to polish your Millennium Items regularly, oh and…’ he turned his eyes upon the man who had first met them, the one who wore the large dream-catcher pendant, ‘be careful with that one,’ he said, ‘could be a bit tricky. See you!’
As was often the case the audience was left befuddled by the Doctor’s causal steam of consciousness, giving him time to grab Rose firmly by the hand and tug her away. They were quite a way down the corridor before one of them, Atemu, had the sense to call out.
‘Roze’tilar!’ he yelled, his rich voice echoing down the corridors.
‘Oy!’ said Rose, trying to wiggle out of the Doctor’s grip, ‘what are you doing? Why can’t we stay a bit longer?’
‘No time,’ said the Doctor hastily. ‘Things are going to kick off pretty soon, within the next week or so in fact and I don’t want to cause any disruption. Not this time. Not when I’m not needed.’
They reached the Tardis and he was quickly unlocking the door. There were no sounds of pursuit behind them so either Atemu had decided to respect the Doctor’s idiosyncrasies or his Guardians had advised him against it.
‘What do you mean?’ asked Rose, now more than a little impatient. ‘Doctor!’
‘Do you remember what I said before?’ asked the Doctor, tugging her through the door and slamming it behind them. He let go of her so as to move towards the central console of the Tardis and fiddle with the controls. ‘About that alien invasion? Well I was wrong in my estimation. We didn’t arrive just after, we arrived just before. That was the old Pharaoh we saw dying, the new one… that young boy with the upside down pyramid? He’s the one destined to fight off that invasion. The Nameless Pharaoh… one of the greatest heroes the Human race has ever known.’
‘Atemu,’ said Rose, softly. ‘His name was Atemu.’
‘Really? Atemu?’ The Doctor said the name slowly, as if tasting its syllables.
‘So we’re leaving so as not to disrupt it, right?’
‘Exactly,’ the Doctor pressed a leaver and the familiar sound of Tardis-Song filled the air. ‘He only just won as it was, don’t want to be disrupting that.’
‘But he did win, right?’ said Rose. ‘He won and went on to rule as the greatest Pharaoh Egypt has ever known, yeah? That’s what you said.’
The Doctor’s eyes remained fixed on the control panel. ‘Yeah,’ he said. ‘Yeah… that’s right.’
‘So how about the Andromeda cluster? Ever been to Sonarion? Now that’s an amazing place. Ice, ice as far as the eye can see and-‘
‘Doctor!’ Rose voice cut through the babble. She knew that look, knew that tone and suddenly she felt very cold and shivery and alone. ‘He… dies, doesn’t he?’
‘Yes,’ said the Doctor, not looking at her. ‘Yes. He does. Five months after we see him.’
‘Sixteen. He’s only sixteen! We can’t-‘
‘We can’t interrupt the flow of history!’ The Doctor’s voice was sharp and commanding. ‘I’m sorry, Rose.’
‘It’s not fair,’ Rose leant against a pillar, ‘he’s only sixteen! He didn’t even have any friends and he… it’s not fair!’
The Doctor looked at her hard, his dark eyes staring right into her soul, the way only his eyes could.
‘You liked him, didn’t you?’
‘He reminded me of Mickie.’
‘Well,’ the Doctor’s smile wasn’t half as bitter or as cruel as perhaps it could have been, ‘everyone has their faults.’
Rose glared at him and he looked away, pressing some buttons of a console.
‘Hold on,’ he said, ‘let me show you something…’
It was a bright summer day in Domino City. A lot of kids were enjoying themselves in the city park, running round and climbing trees and playing various vigorous sporting games.
Yugi Motou was amongst these children and yet apart. He sat on one of the park benches, a little way away from the general ruckus of children. His head was bent and his face drawn with concentration as he fiddled with the pieces of golden puzzle in his hands.
He was only out here on his mother’s insistence. Going outside with lots of other people kids, in a place without lots of adult supervision was not his idea of a good time. Not when half of the kids his age wanted to either laugh at him or pummel him into the ground.
Luckily, for whatever reason, his invisibility rating seemed to be pretty high at the moment. Nobody seemed to have paid any attention to him, perhaps because of the sun, perhaps because of other distractions. Which was all good as far as he was concerned. He just wanted to sit alone and play with his puzzle.
He frowned as he tried to twist in another piece. It almost fit, but not quite. The gold was oddly cool under his fingers and the soft ‘chink’ sounds the metal pieces made as they moved against each other was quite soothing.
He was just testing out another angle when the glimmer of gold was dimmed as a shadow passed overhead.
Someone was standing in front of him.
Yugi’s mind automatically went into mild panic mode. Damn, and he’d been doing so well… but it was only a matter of time before someone noticed him, after all. He just hoped they wouldn’t mess with his puzzle.
Right: Enemy detected, please choose from the following options.
A) Ignore and hope they’ll go away.
B) Look up and say hello on the off chance they may not want to pummel you into the ground.
C) Get to your feet and start running. Fast.
A moment’s consideration let Yugi to the conclusion that option two was probably the best. It could just be an adult checking he was supposed to be on his own, after all. His height sometimes made people think he was far younger than he actually was.
He looked up, flashing what was, he hoped, his friendliest smile.
Above him stood a woman of western decent. She had blond hair, large eyes and, he had to admit, a generally pretty face. She looked to be in her early twenties and she stood looking down on him with the strangest expression.
‘Er… Hi?’ said Yugi, a little puzzled.
‘Oh, um… hello,’ said the girl, smiling. There was something odd in that smile; an odd sort of sadness that worried Yugi.
Yugi’s hands tightened on the pieces of his puzzle, ‘Are… are you OK?’
‘Yeah,’ said the girl, her smile broadening. ‘Y-yeah I’m fine I just… I just wanted to check you were... were alright actually. You’re sitting here all alone…’
Her Japanese was utterly flawless, if slightly casual which was surprising in a foreigner. He had expected at least an accent, but perhaps she had been brought up here?
‘It’s OK,’ said Yugi, quickly, feeling himself back on steady, familiar ground, ‘I’m not very good at sports and stuff so I just tend to play other sorts of games. Want a go?’ he proffered the puzzle to her. She seemed nice after all and it was kind of her to take an interest. She looked down on the puzzle with wonderment, and grinned.
‘No thanks,’ she said. ‘It looks a bit tough for me. Isn’t anyone else helping you with it?’
‘No,’ said Yugi, ‘Not really.’
The silence between them then was long and filled with pity and Yugi hated it.
Luckily it was broken by a man’s voice, ‘Rose!’
The woman, who was evidently this ‘Rose,’ tuned and Yugi saw a man, tall and lanky and also of European decent, strolling towards them. He wore a long brown coat and his hands were jammed easily in his pockets. He had the sort of face that was instantly disarming and, without knowing quite why, Yugi found himself liking him.
He approached the girl, Rose, and put a hand on her shoulder. ‘Time we were off,’ he said, softly in the same perfect, unaccented Japanese.
Rose nodded and the man turned to look at Yugi, he grinned.
‘Hello,’ he said, ‘Oooh, is that an ancient Egyptian artefact? I love those, even if they are a bit clunky. Did you know they say, if you solve an ancient Egyptian Puzzle you get granted a wish. So, Yugi Motou,’ he fell down into a crouch, his brown eyes staring right into Yugi’s, ‘what are you going to wish for?’
Yugi found himself unable to turn away from that intense gaze and it seemed all the world was converging around this moment. Like in a computer game, when the characters next response would dictate the entire layout of the game but in real life. So there was no save or delete or escape. And this man’s eyes were so deep and brown and old, older than anything Yugi had ever seen or felt and yet so young and full of wonder. A million responses filled Yugi’s head, a million little wishes he’d made in the dark of the night, a million wants and cravings, all at his finger tips, gold and cold and shining.
‘I think,’ he said, at last, his voice trembling but his eyes still on the other man’s. ‘I think that’s my secret.’
The foreigner’s face was grim then, suddenly, cracked into a smile. ‘Good for you! Don’t want to go round telling people your wishes. Never know when they might try and steal them, or use them against you, or even try to make them come true. Dangerous thing, wishes coming true. Buuut,’ he drawled, his hand shooting out and plucking up a piece of the golden puzzle, ‘in the hands of the right person, the right wish can save the world.’ He turned the piece round in his slender fingers and, with a quick, casual ease, slotted it into place. ‘Isn’t that right Rose?’
‘Yes Doctor,’ replied the girl, really smiling now. Not that Yugi took much note, he was too amazed with what the man had just done.
‘You put it in!’ he gasped, ‘you… you helped solve it!’
‘Oh, it was nothing!’ the man waved a hand lazily, ‘you’d work it out yourself in a few moments anyway. But we’ve got to go. It was nice meeting you, Yugi Motou.’
‘Er… yeah,’ said Yugi, still stunned, ‘thanks!’
The Doctor-man smiled and began to tug the girl, Rose, away. They began to walk off, hand in hand, across the park.
Yugi looked back down at his puzzle, his hands shaking with excitement as he fumbled with the rest of the pieces. This was the closest to completion he had ever managed. Perhaps if he took it into school he’d be able to finish it there? Maybe Anzu would like to see it? The thought thrilled him and he carefully began to memorise the new layout of the piece, so that he could put it where it was supposed to go next time. He owed so much to this Doctor and his friend, even if they were a bit strange. Perhaps they would meet again? They had seem really friendly even if-
He blinked, frowned. How had the Doctor known his name, anyway?
He looked up, but they were no where in sight.
Shrugging he got up out of the seat and put the puzzle away, placing each piece carefully into the golden box it came in. He jogged in the direction he’d seen them go but they must have walked faster than he’d estimated, because he couldn’t see them anywhere.
He shrugged it off. His life was full enough of strange things that this wouldn’t matter and anyway; he was too excited to let this mystery bother him. He had to get back home and work on his puzzle, he had wishes to grant.