All eternity, silver.
Rose fell backward out of a silver eternity, only to find herself in the dust in the middle of Tombstone Arizona. As the town burned around her.
People screamed. Sparks landed close, as an unpredictable, thermal prompted wind swirled around them. Choking, ash clogged air. She blinked ash and dirt out of her eyes and looked around to find herself lying beside the black magnetite boulder, her legs tangled with the Doctor's as they lay on either side of the pyramid. The rabbit, Kokopelli, lay sprawled bonelessly atop the stone, looking like a broken child's toy.
But even as she watched, an ear twitched. A moan sounded and something jerked at her legs. She realized the Doctor was coming to on the other side of the rock. "Rose?" he said muzzily, worry and concern in his voice. She was warmed by the sound, by the knowledge that she was the first thing he thought of.
"I'm all right. What happened?"
She looked around as the wind blew the veil of smoke aside and she found herself looking at, not the Inferno, which is what the various sounds and screams had sounded like. But a half destroyed town of Tombstone. The boardwalk on the far side of the street was gutted, two buildings completely gone, looking like the black gap left by rotting teeth.
Bucketchains of people threw pails of water on the next building, as it collapsed in on itself. Glass bent and shattered as the frames warped, even before the fire got to them. Cries of woe and shouts of orders and cussing and the stomp of running feet underscored the townsfolks frantic attempts to save their town.
"What happened?" Rose said again, unbelieving. She turned to look in shock at the Doctor who had struggled to a sitting position on the other side of the rock. Kokopelli sat up between them, looking like a harmless, if motheaten, bunny rabbit. "We were only knocked out for a minute," Rose protested.
"Longer than a minute," the Doctor said unhelpfully, nodding to where Reggie was frantically throwing pails of water on the fire that was licking up one of the dry wooden posts supporting the boardwalk roof in front of her saloon.
"They're back!" A shriek of rage split the sooty air and Rose jerked upright, the sound slashing across her nerves like a whip. She instinctively lifted a hand to her ear, she'd lost one of her earplugs somewhere.
But it wasn't Kokopelli's flute that caused the horrible sound. It was a woman, stalking toward them through the smoke, dressed all in black lace, like a vision out of a Victorian nightmare. Rose stared in disbelief. It was Mattie Blaylock. The bereaved, bedridden mother she's seen at the funeral just yesterday.
"Kill it!" the woman shrieked. People in the street turned from their frantic firefighting efforts at the sound. Everyone's attention focused on the magnetite as the woman stalked vengefully forward. The woman was in a rage, unreasoning, focused exclusively on the rabbit perched on the black stone. "Baby killer!" she shrieked.
Kokopelli huddled down on the stone, looking like simply a frightened bunny. Others of the townsfolk followed the woman, emerging from the smoke like vengeful zombies. All intent on the group around the stone. Some carried charred pieces of lumber as clubs. Others looked ready to do barehanded violence.
The Doctor edged around the stone toward Rose, interposing himself between her, and Kokopelli, and the crowd.
"We don't want any trouble," he said calmly.
There was the ominous sound of a gun cocking. They turned to see Wyatt Earp emerge from the smoke.
"No Doctor. We've already had trouble." The sheriff calmly raised his gun. The Doctor turned and hugged Rose to him, his hand grabbing under her breast.
"What?" she squeaked.
She felt a click, heard a shot, and a blue bubble popped into existence around her, the Doctor, and the rabbit. The bullet bounced harmlessly away.
The Doctor stepped back and grinned. She looked up and around at the perfect globe of swirling blue energy around them. The thrill of his arms around her clashed with the realization of what he'd done. She shoved him. "Oh, the vest or a forcefield, huh?" She slapped him on the arm. He just grinned wider.
"Come on." He turned to the sheriff. "I'm sorry, Wyatt, but I can't let you kill him." He took Rose's arm and started walking off, her beside him. The forcefield parted around the magnetite boulder, leaving it behind. But Kokopelli hopped along close after them, protected within the sphere. "You might want to move Virgil out of the saloon before the fire spreads," the Doctor said as they passed the staring sheriff, his mouth hanging open, his drooping mustache only emphasizing the expression.
Mattie flung herself at the force bubble, screaming and clawing at the invisible walls. Tears streaming down her cheeks. Rose turned away. She couldn't blame the woman. She'd lost her child. That was enough to make anyone mad.
Seeing that his wife was only doing herself injury Wyatt grabbed her from behind and pulled her away, gently, but firmly. She struggled in his grip, screaming and crying. The sound dimmed as the Doctor continued on through town.
Smoke curled up and away from the bubble, parting in its wake. Rose noticed that the swirling blue energy seemed to be circling over and down around them, as if they were rolling along inside a giant hamster ball.
Townsfolk stopped their firefighting efforts to stare as they passed. The glowing blue bubble the only color in this ash smeared world.
"Can't we help them?" Rose asked, seeing people and possessions being evacuated out of one side of the buildings, while others fought the fire on the other side.
"No. Tombstone was meant to burn. It's recorded history. There's nothing we can do here," the Doctor said.
They walked, unimpeded, back to the livery stable yard where the Tardis sat. The bubble was too wide to get through the fence doors, so the Doctor reached over and clicked the pressure button under Rose's breast again. She jumped. "Oh, you are so going to pay for that," she said. He just grinned at her and led them through the fence.
Kokopelli followed them into the yard and walked behind them into the Tardis.
"Why is he being so nice all of a sudden?" Rose asked.
The rabbit followed the Doctor to the console and stood patiently, watching as the Doctor set coordinates and the time rotor engaged. Both aliens turned to look at her at the same time.
"He was always nice, Rose," the Doctor defended. The rabbit looked shamefaced. The Doctor patted him on his narrow shoulder. "It's not his fault the humans were destroying his gate. He's linked to it, it was driving him a little bit mad. He was just defending himself."
Rose gawped. "What about the invasion?" she asked, flinging her arms wide.
"Oh that," the Doctor answered dismissively, shucking off his black duster and tossing it over the pilot chairs. He rolled up his shirtsleeves.
"Yes, that," she said in indignation. "We can't just let the town burn and be overrun. Not to mention the Earth!" She glared at the rabbit for good measure.
The rabbit looked up at her with innocent sincerity.
"The town was always destined to burn this year," the Doctor said, "and the invasion happened 20,000 years ago."
The Doctor started working at the controls, they weren't the ones that controlled their flight, Rose had gotten to know which panels controlled what over time. But he was definitely up to something.
"His people came here 20,000 years ago. They were refugees, from a war. They hid here, on Earth, until the war was over and they got word it was safe to go back. Koko stayed behind, he's an anthropologist, he was fascinated by the local natives."
"What, us 'stupid apes'?" Rose said mockingly.
"Yeah, well, you stupid apes have a lot going for you," the Doctor said, refusing to look at her. "Besides, he likes it here. He's been looking after the local 'red people' for a long time."
Rose crossed her arms, giving him a glare. "How do you know all this?"
"He told me." The Doctor looked down at the rabbit. The rabbit perked up and smiled.
"When we were cycling through the ring," the Doctor said.
Rose looked at him blankly. She looked down at the rabbit, who was managing to look cute and innocent. "In the mines?" she asked, her voice, doubtful, she knew she was missing something.
The Doctor stood up straight from bending over the console. "No, just before the dynamite went off he jumped into the ley lines. But since I'd set up the Tardis's electromagnetic deflectors to draw the ley lines off course and loop them back on the boulder, there was nowhere he could go, so he shunted us all into the ring. We had a nice chat while we were cycling."
"Silver," Rose said with sudden realization. "Mattie Blaylock said, 'They're back.' So we really did disappear?"
Rose turned to look at the rabbit. "And you're just a harmless scientist who stayed to study humans?"
The rabbit nodded eagerly.
"But... 20,000 years!" she said, aghast. "There weren't even any humans in America back then!" she accused with sudden suspicion.
"Yes there were," the Doctor said, leaning a hip on the console and crossing his arms in lecture mode. "The ancestors of the Anasazi and the Mound Builders. Civilizations rise and fall Rose, you know that. Actually," the Doctor turned to look at Kokopelli, "that must have been a fascinating study. How did..."
Before the Doctor could go off on a longwinded professorial chat Rose butted in, "But, 20,000 years!" She waved a hand down at the friendly, but mangy, rabbit. "He can't be 20,000 years old!"
The Doctor looked up at her, "Why not? I'm almost 1,000."
Rose's head jerked back, startled. She stared at him, this short haired, short tempered friend of hers. She knew he was 900, but somehow she'd never equated that with him being nearly 1,000. It was a a bit shocking. "Yeah, but..."
"I told you, there are races to whom a few months would be nothing. Time is relative, so is age. But still," his attention turned back to Kokopelli. "To watch an entire civilization develop... I haven't done anything like that since I was a kid," he said with nostalgia.
Rose stared at him. "You never..."
He turned to look at her, standing beside another old alien who studied other races. That one hip high with long ears. "What do you think Time Lords did?" he said.
"Anyway..." she began, her mind bogging down as she tried to digest the concept. "Anyway," she said more forcefully, determined to get the conversation back on track, "what are we going to do now? The town is burning, the ring is almost broken, and he is still guilty of killing babies."
The rabbits ears jerked straight up, he stared at her in shock, then his ears wilted down and he looked at her with large sorrowful eyes.
"Rose," the Doctor chided her.
"Well, he is!"
The rabbit turned to study the Tardis console, lifting up on tiptoes to see the controls, he skipped sideways on the tips of his long feet and laid his paws on two disks that sat side by side on the far panel.
"I did not kill the children."
The strangely soothing, baritone voice reverberated in her head, transferred by the Tardis telepathic circuits. Rose turned to the rabbit who was looking at her, a mournful expression in his eye. He looked comical standing there, a bunny standing on tiptoe with its paws on the controls of a spaceship, its long ears sticking up above. But it's voice was not comical, Rose could feel the sorrow and regret in it.
"I blighted the gardens, urged on the feuds, and sabotaged the mines trying to get the Europeans to leave, but I never harmed a child."
"It's true Rose," the Doctor said. "Reggie admitted it herself. Malnutrition, bad luck, and drugs were the culprits, not Koko."
"Drugs?" Rose asked, her attention drawn from the rabbit.
"Mattie Blaylock was well known to be addicted to opium. It wasn't just grief that kept her in her bed," the Doctor said, eyes sad, reminding her of the overheard conversation between Virgil and Wyatt.
"Oh." Rose deflated. She turned back to the rabbit. "I'm sorry. And I suppose you were just trying to defend your gate for the rest, you even scared the miners out before collapsing the tunnel. Except for the other seam..." she gave him a questioning look.
The rabbits ears twitched in self-derision, "I couldn't control the collapse as well as I'd hoped," his strangely young voice echoed in her head. "I didn't mean to collapse the junction, only the new seam."
"Yeah, well," Rose shrugged, and grinned. "I doubt I could have done better with just a flute." She suddenly realized the flute was tucked behind his ear as he used both hands on the Tardis console. She forced back a silent laugh, but he must have heard her through the circuits. He waggled his ears at her, setting the flute bobbing.
Okay, now she could believe he was an absentminded anthropologist.
"Right," she said, stifling her laughter. It was impossible not to like the impudent, apparently kindhearted, little alien. She could feel that through the circuits too. His kindness. She wondered what the Doctor felt from her when the Tardis was translating her words. "What are we going to do with you? Can we take you home?" she waved at the Tardis.
She jumped at the force of the telepathic shout. He fidgeted and resettled his hands on the disks, "I cannot leave yet. My people need me more now than ever!"
"Your people?" Rose shook her head, envisioning a civilization of high tech rabbits. She looked at the Doctor for clarification.
"The Native Americans," he answered. "This is a turning point for them, in history."
"Yes," Kokopelli said. "I cannot abandon them now. That's why I need the ring repaired. I need the gate working. I can't just stay here and guard it against the Europeans, I need to be able to travel. My people are being herded out of their ancestral lands, their children are being stolen, the old ways are being lost. They need me."
"You consider the Indians your people? You don't want to go home?" Rose said. "But you're all alone here."
The Doctor walked up to her. "No, he's not." He cupped his large hand around her face, his whole manner gentle, his eyes dark and deep and very loving. "He has his people. Just like I've got you." He saw the startled wonder in her eyes. "What? You thought I was the only alien who liked humans?" He grinned. He dropped a chaste little kiss on her surprised mouth.
She stood stunned.
"Right!" The Doctor clapped his hands and turned to Kokopelli. "I think I can help you. The problem is that you need a functioning hyperphase gate, but the miners aren't going to stop mining it. I can fix that."
"You can repair my gate?"
"No. Better. I can make you a new one, somewhere where the European colonists will never get their hands on it. Someplace set aside just for your people." He started dancing around the console, flipping switches and pulling levers.
"Have you ever seen the Spider Woman, Rose?"
"No. I've seen Spider-Man though."
The Doctor flashed her that big grin.
"Spider Woman Mesa." The Doctor pulled up a picture of two tall sandstone monoliths and a rocky desert cliff on the monitor. "Sacred ground of the Navaho. It's a reservation in your time, Rose. Known for its fantastic thunderstorms, and it just so happens to be situated on a major node of the ley lines. Perfect place for a bit of intrastructural engineering."
He panned out and around to show a narrow, fertile valley and high red cliff walls.
"That's beautiful." Rose said.
"Yes, and I think that area there would be good," he said, flipping the monitor to an underground scan and pointing to an area with the same type of ribbon sheets Rose had seen from their first scan of the hyperphase gate. "What do you think, Koko?" the Doctor asked, rotating the view and considering it from different angles.
Kokopelli dropped his hands from the telepathic circuits and considered the monitor. It was probably a good thing she couldn't hear his reply, Rose thought, as the two aliens leaned their heads together. The technical jargon spilling from the Doctor's mouth was enough to make her eyes cross.
Rose shook her head and tromped out of the console room, leaving the boys to it. She was eager to get out of her dirty, smoky-smelling dress and back into some decent jeans. And a cup of tea would be nice.
Rose returned to the console room wearing her own comfortable clothes, carrying a tray piled high with the roughcut sandwiches she knew the Doctor liked, with a big bowl of salad greens for Kokopelli. Ice clinked in the cold-sweating pitcher of orange juice that weighted the tray and she set the whole thing down on the jumpseat, causing the glasses to clink.
The Doctor looked up from the repair well, where he was lying, half stuffed under the console with Kokopelli handing him his tools. "Food! Rose Tyler, you're a genius!"
"Yeah, well, it's been a busy day. Even alien tech-heads need to eat sometime."
The Doctor scrambled out of the stairwell, all boots and long legs, and threw himself down on the chair beside the tray. Fortunately Rose was holding the pitcher, pouring glasses of orange juice. She passed one to Kokopelli and he took it in his clever little, racoon-like hands. The Doctor grabbed an apple slice from the salad bowl and popped it into his mouth, crunching happily.
"Oi! Those are for him," she nodded her head at the rabbit.
The Doctor shrugged, and talked, his mouth still full, "I'll share." He handed Kokopelli a cheese sandwich.
Before Rose could protest, the rabbit bit into the sandwich with every evidence of enjoyment and sat down in a sprawl on the floor, his big feet splayed out, carefully setting his glass of orange juice beside him.
"So," the Doctor said, swallowing a bite of his sandwich and propping his feet up on the Tardis console, "I think we're about set. We've reconfigured the silver in the area into a new ring, and as soon as I release the leylines in Tombstone back to their original configurations, it should power up a treat. You'll be able to travel anywhere you want again," he nodded at Kokopelli and filched another apple slice out of the bowl.
The rabbit nodded and cocked his head at the Doctor, his ears flopping to one side.
"No. The size difference won't matter," the Doctor answered the silent question. He nodded at the scanner screen which showed a schematic of a hyperphase gate, the main ring with its attached inner offset circles and the hair fine spirals reaching above and below. "You only needed the size for the evacuation." The Doctor leaned forward and tapped a button and another view popped up, showing the Tombstone hyperphase gate. Rose's eyebrows jumped in surprise. The Tombstone gate was two miles wide, but the new one they were building was only a few meters across.
"Are you sure that's gonna work?" she asked.
"Yeah. It doesn't need to be huge. The node here under Spider Woman is stronger than the one under Tombstone. And I've added a few refinements." He turned to Kokopelli who had leaned sideways and was looking at the monitor. "You'll have the same range as the big gate, able to reach anywhere on the planet, and still get you back home if you want. But small enough so it's less likely to be found. " He shut down the monitor and leaned back, stretching, sighing. He clapped his hands on his knees. "Come on, lets get this finished. After the last couple of days, even I'm starting to feel in need of a nap."
They materialized back in Tombstone on a side street. The Doctor, Rose, and Kokopelli stepped out into smoke laden winds, the shouts and roar of the fire could still be heard, even here. Houses and kitchen gardens lined both sides of the street. There was no one in sight, apparently everyone was still fighing the fire.
A wind driven cinder landed on Rose's arm and she batted it off, stomping it out in the dirt before it could catch anything on fire. "The fire's still burning?" she asked in dismay.
"Only a couple of minutes have passed here. I need to recover the reflector focus and loose the ley lines back into their normal channels. It's like playing with the planets nerve endings. It's not a good idea to keep them diverted for long."
"That's what caused that weird feeling? Before Koko showed up? I thought it was something to do with him."
"No, you probably felt the magnetic force shifting. Now, the problem is, how do we get the focus back without being seen?"
The Doctor, Rose, and Kokopelli leaned out from behind the easternmost building in the high street, closest to the hill with the tree where they had first seen Kokopelli. The fire was concentrated mostly at the western end of town. The fire on the south side of the street was out, having died when the last building by the gutted section had collapsed. But it was still burning brightly on the north side of the street. The Last Chance Saloon was already starting to go up. The fire from the post had spread to the roof of the boardwalk and from there to the roof of the saloon.
"Oh, poor Reggie!" Rose said.
"Don't worry. They'll rebuild. She'll put up a new stone saloon and dance hall that becomes the most famous in the region."
That made Rose feel a little better. But she still felt sorry for all the people running around, frantically trying to save their property. She saw a group of people struggling out of the saloon doors, half bent over something they were carrying between them, trying to shield it from falling cinders. She realized it was Wyatt Earp, moving his brother Virgil from the second floor room where he'd been recovering from his gunshot wound.
The black magnetite pyramid still sat in the middle of the street in front of the saloon.
"How are we going to get there without being seen?" Rose asked, as they leaned out around the side of the building. Kokopelli's ears perked up as he saw a small, black-smeared shape dart across the street in front of the saloon. The rabbit made a burbling sound, hopped twice, jumped sideways, and disappeared. And reappeared on the pyramid.
"Awp!" Rose reached forward instinctively, as if she could snatch him back out of danger. But the rabbit jumped off the stone, bounded forward, grabbed the boy and jumped back on the stone. Both disappeared.
"What did he do?" Rose squeaked. "He didn't cycle Billie into that ring like he did us did he? He can't go anywhere else with the focus on!" Rose almost yelled in despair. She felt something grab her from behind and shrieked.
She turned to find Billie clutching her frantically around the waist, his sooty body getting her fresh jeans all dirty. "Help, Rose!" he yelled, trembling as he used her body as a shield and edged away from the rabbit behind him, which was twitching its ears at him.
Rose let out a huge sigh of relief. "Oh, thank god." She reached down and hugged Billie. "It's all right, Billie. He isn't going to hurt you."
Billie looked up at her with wide, terrified eyes. "He snatched me! All the times I chased him he never done that, he always ran away." His eyes latched onto the oversized rabbit, half turning his face into her shirt as if he didn't really want to see it.
"Well, I told you before. He's not really a rabbit," Rose said. "And we need your help. Don't we Doctor?"
The Doctor nodded. He stuffed his hands in his pockets and looked down at the boy. "Kokopelli is a person, Billie. Just like you or me. But he's also a Hopi kachina. Do you know what that is?"
Billie stared up at the Doctor at this unexpected change in the conversation, unconsciously he relaxed, loosening his grip on Rose. "You mean, like those stories Sighs Running tells?" The boy frowned in thought and looked at the rabbit. "Kokopelli?" he turned the name over on his tongue. "You mean, that hunchback spirit that's supposed to go around playing his flute and making people happy?"
Kokopelli shrugged his hunched shoulders and held up his flute, twitching his ears.
Billie's eyes widened in realization.
An explosion rocked the ground, startling them all.
"What the hell?" Rose said. They all jumped out from behind the building looking off down the street where one of the buildings had exploded, debris rained down into the street as the building collapsed in on itself.
"They don't have enough water," the Doctor explained. "They're dynamiting the buildings to stop the fire."
Whirling corkscrews of shattered timber fell around the magnetite boulder, bouncing off its black facets with strange pinging noises.
"If that gets any closer, you can kiss your focusing device goodbye," Rose said, turning to the Doctor. The Doctor was looking down at Billie.
"Billie, do you remember that funny looking triangle I had Rose stick onto the pyramid?"
"Oh, no, Doctor," Rose grabbed Billie by the shoulders and pulled him back against her. "You're not using him for this. He'll get killed."
The Doctor turned to her. "It's not like they're detonating constantly. He'll come to no harm. Give me some credit."
"Is that why he snatched me?" Billie asked, once more looking in fascination at the rabbit. Kokopelli was standing beside them, as upright as any man, observing the explosion site with a human's curiosity, not scampering away like a frightened rabbit.
The rabbit nodded at him.
Rose let out a huff. "If you could just appear on that rock, why didn't you just grab the focusing device?" she said with exasperation.
"He couldn't, Rose," the Doctor said. "It's magnetically fixed. He'd have had to pick up the whole boulder."
"Then how can I get it?" Billie asked, quite reasonably Rose thought.
"With this." The Doctor quick drew the sonic screwdriver from the holster he was still wearing, pointing it at Billie and buzzed the light at him. Billie grinned at him and quickdrew back, holding his fingers like a gun. He said, "pow!" and the Doctor staggered back, clutching his chest as if he'd been shot. The two boys giggled and grinned at each other. Rose rolled her eyes.
"Why didn't you just give the sonic screwdriver to Kokopelli?" Rose asked, annoyed.
"Well, I didn't know he was going to do that, now did I?" the Doctor asked innocently. "Besides, he can't use it. Going out there once was risky enough, going out again, once they've already seen him would be suicide. They've got reason to want him dead." He nodded to the frantically scrambling townsfolk. Most of them were at the far end of the street, trying to save what they could. But there were a couple of them who were still eyeing the boulder, even as they scrambled.
"Okay, I can see that." The wind wafted a wall of smoke over them and Rose coughed. "How long before they get the fire out?"
The Doctor frowned. "I'm surprised they haven't got it out by now."
Kokopelli frowned and looked at the town, more than half the buildings were already destroyed, smoke, fire, and heat tainted the air. His ears drooped and he stared down, looking guilty. Then his ears jerked up and he lifted his face resolutely. He brought his flute to his mouth.
"What's he doing?" Billie said nervously, edging close to Rose, pressing against her side and clinging to her. He remembered what that flute had done before.
Rose shook her head. "I don't know."
The Doctor crossed his arms and looked satisfied.
Billie and Rose stared. The most beautiful music they'd ever heard. Billie relaxed at her side, pulling away. The wind picked up, a soft wind, blowing the smoke away. Fresh air swirled around them. And a hint of moisture.
They looked up. The pristine blue Arizona sky, was filling with clouds.
Thunder grumbled, rumbling the ground without dynamite.
And the first gentle raindrops fell.
The first few drops dimpled the dusty, soot-speckled ground. Followed quickly by more, until a sliding white wall of rain slid across the town, dowsing fires as it went, soaking the townsfolk, sluicing off soot and dirt, turning the main street into a quagmire of mud that the townspeople screamed and laughed and danced in, turning their faces and their hats to the sky. Looking up with prayerful thanks.
The Doctor, Rose and Billie were soaked to the skin. They stood there grinning. Kokopelli kept playing, doing a happy little dance in the rain.
"Right." The Doctor crouched down and held the sonic screwdriver out to Billie. "Billie, run up to that boulder and hold this blue light up to that triangle. Push this little knob here, and it will make a sound, while it's making the sound, push the white square and the tiny blue circle beside it on the triangle. It should drop off the boulder into your hand. Bring it back here."
He stood up and handed the sonic screwdriver to the boy. Billie looked down at it, looked over at Kokopelli, still dancing, grinned, and ran down the street toward the boulder.
They were back in the side road, beside the Tardis. The rain had stopped. The fire had ended. And the Doctor had his focusing device and sonic screwdriver tucked back into his pocket.
The borrowed gunbelt was hanging over Billie's bare shoulder. Flowers bloomed in all the gardens around them.
"Sorry about what I said, about skinning you," Billie said, turning toward Kokopelli, who, ears included, was about his height. Billie held out a hand. Kokopelli held out his little racoon paw and shook it.
Billie turned back to the Doctor and Rose. "Well, you may not carry a gun, mister. But you sure do know how to make interesting things happen." Billie gave him a mock punch in the stomach and the Doctor bent over, dramatically taking the blow. They smiled at each other.
The boy turned and looked at Rose, "And he was right," he cocked his head at the Doctor, "You're no ordinary girl." He grinned shyly, with a charm that would be wooing girls in years to come. He gave her a quick hug around the waist, then ran off.
"Well, that's it for Tombstone then," the Doctor said. He turned and gave a slow look to this untouched, verdantly blooming corner of the town. He slipped the key into the Tardis lock. "They always do say, you can't go back."
Rose scowled at him, not quite sure if that was a pun. She turned to the rabbit. "You coming with us? We can drop you off back at Spider Woman Rock," she offered.
Kokopelli shook his head, his ears waggling. He looked at the Doctor. The Doctor translated for him.
"He says he'll make his own way, Rose. He's spent so much time here, guarding this gate, that he hasn't had time to visit his people. He'll make his way north, following the ley lines, visiting as he goes." The Doctor smiled in understanding at his new furry friend. "The best route between two points is not always a straight line."
"Huh?" Rose said.
"Never mind. Come on Rose, we've got places of our own to be." The Doctor waved her into the Tardis. She rolled her eyes at him and knelt and gave the bunny a hug. He wiggled his whiskers in her ear and she laughed. She stood up and saw a teasing glint in the little alien's eyes.
"Bye!" she trotted to the Tardis, squeezing into the door past the Doctor.
"You might want to watch out for him," the Doctor warned, "He's got a reputation as a ladies man." Rose just laughed and continued on inside.
The Doctor turned back to Kokopelli. "I hope you can help your people," he said, with unaccustomed gravity. The rabbit nodded back somberly. Two of a kind, one in leather, one in fur. The Doctor gave a sharp nod, stepped back, and closed the door.
Kokopelli watched, alone, in the street, as the Tardis groaned and started to fade. Suddenly it rematerialized. The Doctor stuck his head out the door, grinning. "Oh, and remember...
Turn left at Albuquerque."
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