Last one kids, let's make it a good one. See you on the other side...
Amy followed Regen down grey corridor after grey corridor, losing track of all the twists and turns as they headed downwards towards the dungeons. Apparently Regen's kindness in allowing Amy access to the Doctor did not stretch to small talk – she led Amy in silence, stopping now and again to glance around corners for any adversary that might get in their way.
"Can I ask you a question?" Amy whispered, as she struggled to keep up with her. As well as having the advantage of knowing the Soratan castle like the back of her hand, Regen's movements appeared effortless – she seemed to glide along the narrow grey paths, in comparison to Amy's clumsy stumbling.
"It depends what you are asking," Regen replied matter-of-factly, as she once again ducked into the shadows.
"How did the Doctor end up in the dungeons? I know he can be a bit irritating, but –"
"Saar saw him as a threat to our people – just as he saw your daughter and the boy as threats."
Amy's eyes narrowed, and was thankful that Regen had once again sped off down the corridor – if she had been within close proximity Amy may have slapped her.
"Yeah, about that," she said angrily. "You know that's ridiculous, right? Ella and Dorian are no more harmful than flies."
"Flies with the power to wipe out entire species," Regen countered, as they rounded yet another corner.
"What do you mean?" Amy asked, genuinely perplexed.
"Do not ask me to provide you with all of the inner workings of Saar's head," Regen smiled ruefully. "I can, however, tell you that he has always mistrusted the Doctor."
"The Doctor's been nothing but peaceful towards your race," Amy said hotly. "He told me that."
"It is the whole Gallifreyan race whom Saar despises. He believes that they have abused the powers they have been granted."
"And Ella fits into this how, exactly?"
Regen glanced backwards towards the red-headed human. "Is it not obvious? She has the blood of a Gallifreyan, and the blood of a human – the two species whom Saar fears most. He has his own gifts; he has seen what such a mixture can mean."
"What do you mean?" Amy asked again.
"If your daughter and the boy survive," she said, turning back to the shadows so that her blue face was hidden from Amy. "Then they will be great. They will have power beyond anything Saar has ever seen, and he fears this."
"Well, well, well," a rasping voice proclaimed, and a tall, blue figure stepped out of the shadows. "I do hope we are not giving away all of our precious secrets, Regen. If our father were to find out about your betrayal…well, I think he'd be just about ready to throw you from our skies."
Regen faltered, frozen to the spot by the arrival of this newcomer.
"Imber," she quavered. "You must listen to me. This woman is –"
"Hold on a second," Amy interrupted, stepping out from behind Regen. "'Our father'? What's going on?"
Regen looked away from Amy, ashamed.
"She never told you of her true identity?" Imber grinned maliciously. "It must have slipped her mind that she was, in fact, the daughter of our great leader, Saar. Her son is his one true heir, and her aiding you is the ultimate betrayal of him and our people."
"Imber, listen to me," Regen implored, but Imber seemed to be done with talking.
"Guards!" she shouted behind her, and in an instant there appeared about a dozen blue-skinned, grey-bearded Soratan men, dressed in grey smocks and armed with silver tridents. "Take this woman to the dungeons. No doubt she will find what she is looking for there."
"No!" Regen cried out, but her sister grabbed her arm.
"I think that you have caused enough trouble for one day, Regen." She looked at her disdainfully. "You and your compassion…let us pray to the skies that your son has not inherited this particular trait."
"Get off me," Amy snarled, as a pair of blue hands grasped her shoulders. "When the Doctor hears about this –"
"There is nothing that your precious Doctor can do for you now," Imber retorted. "The children will be dead within hours, and you and the Doctor will be in Sorata's cells for eternity."
Amy thought her legs would crumple beneath her. "How could you?" she screeched, as the guard holding her kept her standing steadily. "They're just children! They've done nothing to you."
Imber laughed loudly, but there was still an evil glint in her eye as she wrestled against Regen's attempts to free herself. "I had been told of the foolishness of humans, but you, my dear, defy all expectations. Your silly little mind cannot contemplate the horrors that will ensue, should the blood of a Time Lord beat in the heart of a human child."
Amy had had enough. She threw herself against the restraining arms of the Soratan guard, and, caught by surprise, they sprung open and she found herself free.
"Run, Amy!" Regen yelled, as Imber and the guards stared at her dumbfounded.
For once, Amy did as she was told. She had no idea where she was going, but only wished to escape the heavy footfalls of chasing guards, and Imber's screeches of 'imbeciles!'.
She concentrated on the Doctor, once again willing her body to carry her to him. She turned a corner and entered a corridor that sloped downwards. Taking a gamble that this was the entrance to the cells, she skidded down the length of the corridor. The thunderous clanking of the guards' metal sandals trailed behind her as she ran headlong into a grey stone door.
There was no way out. She could hear the guards advancing, and there was no apparent lock or handle on the door. She tried shoving her full body weight against it in desperation, but to no avail.
The first of the guards emerged from the corridor and found her backed up against the cell door. With one hand grasping his weapon, he reached his other out to clamp around her pale wrist.
Amy glared at him, her brown eyes narrowing as she tried to wrench her wrist away from the iron grip of the Soratan guard. "If you don't let go of me right this instant, buster," she spat, twisting her body in an attempt to escape. "I will not be responsible for my actions."
She stopped struggling, and stared curiously at the door. Apparently she was not alone in hearing the voice, for the guards too had turned towards it. The Soratan gripped Amy's arm tighter, but she did not protest.
"Doctor?" she replied. "Please tell me you're not in there."
"Yes, unfortunately. What in the name of all that is Gallifreyan are you doing here?"
Amy felt a little ridiculous, speaking to a door, but she was so relieved to hear the Doctor's voice that she continued anyway.
"We'll talk later..." she once again became aware of the Soratan guards surrounding her. "I've got a bit of a problem to sort out first."
"Problem?" the Doctor's disembodied voice sounded panicked, and Amy couldn't help rolling her eyes.
"Just a little one," she replied, playing for time before she would be undoubtedly be joining the Doctor in his cell. She turned towards the guards, catching the eye of the one who was holding her captive. "Guys, I'm know you're doing your duty and everything, but if you could just let me go –"
"Who is with you, Amy?" the Doctor asked sharply. "Who's got you?"
Amy sighed and turned back towards the door. "I may have run into a spot of trouble – namely, Saar's personal guard. Could you shut up a minute, I want a word with them."
"It'll be a pretty one-sided chat."
"The guards can't speak – they're mutes. They devote their lives to serving Sorata's rulers."
Amy stared at the guards, trying to remember if she had ever heard one of them speak before. No, she couldn't. The only Soratans she had heard talking were Regen and her crazy sister. The guards seemed to take the momentary pause as their queue – in one swift motion, they lifted their weapons and pointed them threateningly at Amy. The guard holding her lifted her off the floor, and placed his large blue palm on the cell door, which slid slowly open. With Amy under one arm and his trident extended towards the Doctor, he deposited her just inside the small room, and allowed the door to slide shut again.
"Amy," the Doctor breathed, and hurried over to where she had fallen.
"I'm fine. I'm okay."
"Let me look at you." Once again he twisted the screwdriver out of his jacket pocket and scanned Amy's eyes.
"Get off," she groaned, batting the screwdriver away. "I'm fine." She propped herself up on her elbows, and looked at the Doctor properly. "Your hands," she gasped, noticing for the first time the iron bands that bound his wrists. There were deep, red marks on the Doctor's skin where he had struggled to prise the cuffs off.
"They're not important," the Doctor said dismissively, still mentally scanning his companion's vitals. She seemed to be healthy, but so had Ella before she had collapsed.
"Let me try and get them off," Amy suggested, reaching for his wrists.
"Believe me, I've tried," the Doctor sighed in response. "But hey, try the screwdriver. If that won't unlock them I don't know what will, and I'm pretty sure my hands are better as a pair than joined together."
He dropped the screwdriver into Amy's outstretched hand, and she pointed it deliberately at the chain of metal linking his hands together.
"Press that button," the Doctor instructed, nodding his head towards the large, round button on the shaft.
Amy, for once, did as she was told, and the handcuffs sprang apart with a flash of green light and a clang as the metal hit the stone floor.
"Excellent," the Doctor murmured, rubbing the sore spots on his wrists.
"How are we going to get out of here?" Amy groaned, shakily standing up and walking towards the door. "We're stuck in bloody prison while my kid is all alone back on Earth. I knew something like this would happen if we stayed on the TARDIS. It was only a matter of time –"
"Shh," the Doctor hushed, pulling Amy into his arms. "She's my kid too, remember? I said I'd find them, and make sure she got better."
"Well…we found them," Amy sniffed. "But you didn't hear the way she was talking. She said that they'd be dead within hours, and we'd be stuck in here forever."
The Doctor looked up sharply, and held Amy at arm's length so he could look at her face. "Who said that? Who did you see?"
"Imber, I think her name was. Her father is the leader of this place."
"You saw Imber?" the Doctor asked, remembering the Soratan woman who had brought him here.
"Her sister found me in the TARDIS, and after some persuading she told me to follow her. She was taking me to find you, but we ran into Imber and a bunch of guards on the way down."
"Hate is a word I rarely use, but I think I can safely say that I hate that woman for saying that to you."
Amy looked at the door, the impenetrable barrier to the outside world, and then glanced at the screwdriver in the Doctor's hand
"Brilliant!" the Doctor declared, although she hadn't actually said anything.
Amy rolled her eyes in exasperation. "You didn't try this first? What kind of genius are you?"
The Doctor ignored her question and pointed the screwdriver at the line where door met wall. "Trust me, Pond. This'll work. It's fool-proof."
"Says the biggest fool in the entire Universe," Amy muttered under her breath.
"I'm ignoring that," he replied, pressing the button on the screwdriver.
There was an almighty bang, and the sonic screwdriver flew out of the Doctor's hand and into the air. The Doctor was thrown backwards, and would have crashed into Amy had she not swerved out of the way. When the noise had stopped reverberating around the room, Amy took her hands away from her ears and pulled the Doctor back up. They both looked towards the door, expecting to see a gaping hole where the explosion had occurred.
"There's nothing there," the Doctor noted in surprise. "Absolutely nothing."
Amy smirked. "Fool-proof, you say?"
The Doctor frowned, reaching out to examine the spot where the screwdriver had been pointed at. "They've got some repelling thing going on. To be expected, obviously. No-one but a Soratan can get anywhere near it."
Just as he began to step away from the door, they both heard a creaking noise and watched, in shock, as it slid open. Painfully slowly, the crack between the door and the wall grew wider, until yellow-grey light began to filter into the cell. Amy crept closer to the Doctor, and he stretched out an arm to stop her coming any nearer.
When the door was open halfway, the Doctor saw who was standing on the other side. He stepped protectively in front of Amy, backing away from the entrance with his screwdriver clasped in his hand.
"You!" he cried, lifting the screwdriver and pointing it towards her.
"Doctor, I really don't think that's going to work right now," Amy hissed, peering round his tall body to see who had caused such alarm. "Put it down, you idiot!" she said, and grabbed his arm. "That's the sister. Regen.She's the one who helped me."
Regen stepped cautiously into the cell, her hands outstretched and palms facing away, just as Imber had when greeting her father.
"I'm sorry," the Doctor apologised, although he still kept his body in front of Amy's. "You look a lot like your sister."
Regen glanced over her shoulder. "If she finds out that I'm doing this, I fear that I will be thrown from the skies."
"Doing what?" Amy asked.
"I am helping you, of course. You were right – I would do the same if my son were in danger. And I do not believe that these children will be harmful to Sorata – my father is getting rather paranoid in his old age."
"We appreciate this immensely, Regen. Maybe we should, you know, get going?" the Doctor suggested, grabbing hold of Amy's arm.
"Wait," she said, turning towards Regen. "How do we stop this? How can we get Ella and Dorian okay again?"
"Ah," Regen murmured, looking as if she had just remembered something. She reached into a pouch in her long, silvery-grey robe and pulled out a small vial. "Take this," she said, thrusting the vial into the Doctor's hand.
"What is it?" Amy asked, looking at the tiny bottle.
"No," the Doctor whispered, a look of wonder on his face. "It can't be."
Regen nodded, glancing warily behind her shoulder.
"Er, could someone do me the honour of telling me what that stuff is? I'd quite like to get going…"
"It is the most valuable trading item we have in Sorata."
"Right," Amy said slowly, still unconvinced. She turned to the Doctor. "Why are you getting all antsy about it?"
The Doctor held the tiny vial up to the thin shaft of grey light, where its liquid contents shimmered and sparkled. "I never thought I'd see…so valuable." He tore his eyes away from the bottle and looked at Regen. "How did you get it?"
"We have no time for lengthy explanations," she said quickly. "But I will say that being the daughter of the leader of the planet has its advantages. Now, you must hurry. Amy, take the route you took to get down here – it will lead you straight back to your ship. I have diverted my sister – and the guards – away from the area, so you should be safe."
The Doctor's hand slid down to Amy's, and although she stiffened slightly she did not pull away.
"Thanks for everything, Regen. We owe you our lives, and our daughter's. Stay safe." The Doctor gave her a grim smile before quickly pulling Amy out of the cell, lest Regen change her mind.
Although the Doctor hated the thought of Amy going before him, of having her exposed, he had to let her lead him through the labyrinthine corridors to get back to the TARDIS. He kept a firm grip on Amy's hand as they ran, ready to pull her aside at any hint of danger.
They reached the TARDIS without any obstacles – Regen had been very thorough in distracting the guards – and they threw themselves inside its protective walls without a look back at the grey planet they were leaving behind.
Amy shuddered as the Doctor let go of her hand and hurried to the console.
"I hated that place," she muttered.
"You only saw the inside," the Doctor replied as he plugged in Earth's coordinates. "Believe me, it was never my idea to visit here all those years ago. I much prefer a temperate climate – like Rio."
"You always promised we'd go to Rio. The proper Rio."
The Doctor left the TARDIS to guide them to Leadworth, and he walked back to Amy. Although she seemed high-spirited enough, he could see the blank despair in her eyes and the droop in her shoulders, as if she had already given up. He took her pale hands, enveloping them in his own tanned ones, and caught her eye.
"We'll get there, Amy. Back to Leadworth. I promise you. We would know if something was wrong, okay? We'd feel it, just like you felt that something had happened to me."
Amy's eyes narrowed. "How did you know about that?"
The Doctor gave her a small smile. "Rory contacted me when you ran off. I swear I nearly had a heart attack. A double one."
Amy returned the smile, looking up into his green eyes. She had never realised how beautiful the colour of his eyes were. "It'll take a lot more than a heart attack to carry you off, Time Lord."
The Doctor pulled her slightly closer to him, and for once she did not hesitate or pull away.
"I can think of one thing that would," he murmured, as the TARDIS rumbled around them. "I didn't realise it before you left, Pond."
"That my life, however many chances I'm given at it, just isn't worth living if you're not in it."
There was a pause, and the Doctor's eyes slid away from Amy's. She squeezed his hand, bringing his attention back to her.
"Why didn't you say something?"
He shrugged, aware that this would be his only chance to say what he wanted to before they arrived on Earth. "What with Ella, and then Regina and Dorian…and Rory…I guess it was never really the right time, to say…"
"To say what?"
"To say…to say that…that I think I might be in love with you."
There was another pause, but this time the Doctor did not look away. He tried to read Amy's expression, to gauge her reaction to his confession, but she kept up a poker face.
"That's an awfully long sentence, Doctor."
Her response took him by surprise, and he let of her hands. "That's it?" he exclaimed.
"Well, what did you expect?" Amy grinned impishly. She thought of the little bottle in the Doctor's jacket pocket, and knew that Ella would be all right. She allowed herself to push her daughter's welfare to the side, just slightly, as she gazed back into the dark green orbs of the man in front of her. "Usually it's meet someone, fall in love, get married, have kids. We've sort of skipped out a few steps."
"I've always loved you," the Doctor pouted. "But there was always Rory."
"There's no Rory anymore, Doctor. There's me, you and Ella. And the TARDIS, of course."
"I like the sound of that," the Doctor smiled, stepping towards Amy again.
"And you know what?" she asked, as her arms reached up to wrap around his neck.
"I think I might be in love with you, too."
Rory paced up and down in Regina's control room, muttering to himself and mentally counting the time since he had spoken to the Doctor. It had been at least an hour, and although the Doctor was now aware of Amy's running away, there was nothing he could do about it. He was in prison, for Pete's sakes. It was just like the Doctor to end up being arrested when he was needed more than ever.
Although Regina had finally accepted that she could do nothing to stop Dorian and Ella's declining health, she still insisted on keeping a vigil by their bedside. Rory had called her out briefly, to pick her brains on how to contact the Doctor, but she had seemed like an empty shell. As Dorian slipped away, she was going too.
He gritted his teeth, not for the first time regretting ever getting embroiled in the Doctor's life. He was a nurse from Leadworth; he lived a comfortable life surrounded by the people he had grown up with. He wasn't cut out for living dangerously; he was sure that his choice of lifestyle (the more sensible choice, in his opinion) was part of the reason why Amy had left him, although she would never admit it.
He was so caught up in his thoughts that he didn't hear the tell-tale screeching, grinding noise just outside of the door. It wasn't until Regina flew past him, having heard the creaking of her TARDIS's front door, that Rory himself saw the Doctor's tall, gangly frame enter the room. Amy followed close behind, and with a pang he caught sight of their linked hands.
"Doctor!" Regina gasped, running up to him. "What's going on? Did you find them?"
The Doctor reached with his free hand into his jacket pocket, and brought out a tiny bottle. It was filled with a silver liquid, and Regina's mouth dropped open.
"Is that what I think it is?"
The Doctor grinned. "Yep."
Amy sighed. "You know, I never did catch what it was – between you and Regen, I never was going to get a straight answer."
"Regen?" Regina enquired.
"We'll explain everything later," the Doctor replied. "But first, let's fix those kids. If this doesn't do it I don't know what will."
"It's fool-proof, is it?" Amy winked at him, and he nudged her playfully.
"So fool-proof that even Rory Williams could use it and it would probably be fine." The Doctor turned his attention to Rory, who was keeping his distance.
"Don't be mean," Amy poked him, giving Rory a small smile. She had seen him looking at the Doctor's hand, the one wrapped around her own, and the look upon his face made her want to apologise. She let go of the Doctor's hand and ran past Rory, throwing open the door to the bedroom.
"Oh, babe," she whispered, and fell to her knees at Ella's side. She was looking even paler than she had done when Amy had last seen her, and all of the happiness she had felt since the Doctor's confession drained away. "I'm sorry for leaving you, El. But I found him – the Doctor, your dad. He's right here, and he's got stuff for you that will make you better. I promise it will make you better, El."
She continued to whisper assurances to her unconscious daughter as the Doctor and Regina entered the room. Amy watched as he pulled the stopper off the vial and measured out a tiny amount of the liquid.
"Is that going to be enough?" Amy asked, unsure as to whether a few droplets of shiny water would be enough to rouse Ella and Dorian.
"Trust me, this is enough. You don't want too much of this stuff," he responded, bringing the drops to Ella's lips and letting them fall into her mouth. He quickly administered the same amount to Dorian, and then sat down on the bed in the space between them.
It took only seconds for the mysterious medicine to take effect, although it seemed like hours to Amy. Within moments of each other, Ella and Dorian opened their eyes, and blinked up at the three adults gazing down at them. Regina, overcome with the emotion of the day, threw herself upon her son's chest and wept tears of relief as he struggled to prop himself up on his elbows. Amy gripped Ella's hand as she woke up from unconscious oblivion, staring bewilderedly around the room.
"What happened?" she said softly, glancing at Dorian beside her. He had finally managed to free himself from his mother's embrace and was now the one reassuring her. Ella frowned as she tried to work out what had occurred since she was last awake. "Did I faint? Again?"
Amy burst out laughing. "Something like that. But you're all better now."
"Are we going to find these aliens then?" Ella asked, and attempted to get off the bed.
"Woah, woah," the Doctor stopped her, pushing her leg back into its previous position. "Don't try to get up. That stuff works incredibly well but it will make you woozy. I like that word, 'woozy'," he added as an afterthought.
"We already found the aliens, hon," Amy explained.
"What?" Ella groaned. "Why did I have to faint? I always miss out on the good stuff."
The Doctor and Amy looked at each other, and he rolled his eyes. The full explanation could wait until later. He was a Time Lord, a master of time, and he knew that they really did have all the time in the world.
So that's it for the moment, hope you liked/tolerated it - sorry for the ridiculous amount of chapters. Won't happen again (lie). I'm afraid I won't let you go without a review or two. I'm sorry, it's the only way.
For all you twihards out there, a quick shout out to my homeboy/partner in crime, ZoeLeeC, and her story 'White Blank Page'. She's kind of weird but don't hold it against her...