The large pub on the outpost Vahptilliorbus was as packed as could be, every booth and table occupied by wary-eyed smugglers, criminals, con-artists and the plain undesirable. It was a place to refuel your ship and your belly, hide from the law and get questionable jobs you wouldn't apply for anywhere else.
Though they looked tough, most all of them were skittish and cowards. The man that walked through the door- wearing a long black coat that whipped out behind him in a dramatic fashion over a tailored black suit, the pants legs tucked in to old-fashioned, black leather Earth cowboy boots- appeared to be fully aware of the fact.
He stopped at the doorway and looked around, being sure to allow every gaze to fall on him before pulling two grenades out of the pockets of his coat and holding them up for all to see.
"Ladies and gentlemen," he said, his tone loud and demanding, a grin spreading across the handsome features of his face, creating a dangerously mischievous look, "don't be alarmed, but I'm about to kill you all!"
With that, he pulled the pins of the grenades and tossed them into the room, letting them roll across the floor until they came to a stop in the center of the pub.
Naturally, everyone was very much alarmed. The bar became an uproar of activity as people jumped out of their seats and started running for doors, pushing and shoving and shouting in animalistic panic.
The speaker watched with an amused expression as people and aliens filed out of every exit they could find -including windows- and even ran past him in their hurry to escape the inevitable. He waited until the building had been completely emptied, save one apparently unconcerned straggler, before turning and shutting the door he had entered. He then proceeded going about the rest of the pub shutting doors and windows until every entrance had been sufficiently blocked.
He turned on his heels, knelt down and picked up the fake grenades and then sauntered over to a table at the far end of the pub, where a man in black religious robes sat, bent over his meal obliviously. "That wasn't necessary," he said.
The man took the seat across from him, lifting his cowboy booted feet up onto the table and leaning back in the chair. "No, maybe not," he mused, spinning the spur on the back of his heel idly. "But it was funny as hell and it gave me the privacy I needed."
The robed man regarded him with a weary sigh. "What do you want?"
He frowned at him in mock upset. "Not happy to see me, Father Quentin?"
"Not particularly. Every time I've seen you, you've had evil at your heels and I'd rather not associate myself with it, if you don't mind," he said, taking a bite of a slimy, green substance from the plate in front of him.
"That's a bit harsh, don't you think? Fair, yes, but still, it hurts my feelings that you think of me in such a negative way."
"Please get on with it. I have somewhere to be."
He arched a brow. "Somewhere important?"
"Perhaps not to you, but to me, yes."
"And what exactly would that be?"
The robed man hesitated, looking unsure whether or not he should say, but after a moment he spoke, "I'm to be a Headless Monk in two days. The preparations have already been started."
The booted man whistled sympathetically. "How hypocritical of you, seeing as you hate my evil heels, but still... that's unfortunate. I might be able to get you out of it, though, for a price."
"I don't want out of it," Father Quentin said firmly. "I volunteered. I was honored to have my request accepted by the Church. Besides, the kind of death you deal out is pointless and avails to nothing. I will be doing work for the Order of the Headless and the Papal Mainframe."
The man gave him a incredulous look, but waved a hand in uninterested dismissal, "Well, you can still help me."
"Perhaps. It depends on what you want."
The man leaned forward, lacing his fingers and placing his hands on the table, eyes narrowed. "I'm looking for the Doctor."
Father Quentin chuckled. "Then I'm afraid you're out of luck. He's dead. Killed at Lake Silencio."
The other man smirked. "Is that what you think?"
"It's what I know," Father Quentin countered. "It's what everyone knows." He regarded him with a look of disbelief. "Surely you've heard. I know you often travel to fairly untouched regions, but the word has spread even to the farthest corners of every galaxy. Everyone knows."
The booted man, expression unchanged, said nothing, but reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a clear bag with a piece of wood in it.
Father Quentin looked at it blankly and then at the man. "Am I supposed to know what that is or how it's significant?"
"This," the man said, his smirk growing further as he dropped from legs from the table and leaned forward, "is a piece of the boat the Doctor's body was burned on. As you can see, these pieces were not burned. The fire never even touched it... which seems odd to me. I recovered several more pieces like this and found that they perfectly shaped a body. Isn't that strange? Now, I'm no Time Lord expert, but I believe they burn just as easily as we do."
Father Quentin blinked and glanced between the splinter of wood and the booted man in a look of confusion.
The man grinned at him, put the bag back in his coat and then leaned in closer. "Tell me, Father, have you ever heard of a Teselecta?"
He shook his head.
"You wouldn't. Top Secret. Hush, hush. Luckily enough for you, I know what it is; in a nutshell, its what the Justice Department uses to deal out punishment to those in history who never paid their dues. I discovered small traces of the materials used in Teselecta vessels on each piece of wood." He paused, allowing the information to sink in, but when Father Quentin blinked at him again, he elaborated. "You saw a vehicle, in the form of the Doctor, die at Lake Silencio; not the Doctor."
Father Quentin's eyes widened in baffled alarm. "No... no, that's not possible. The Doctor himself said that moment was a fixed point in time. He-"
"The deception was the fixed point, Father. Not the death," the man explained calmly. "Which means the Silence has got a very angry, very dangerous Time Lord still running around and this time he's got the advantage of being dead."
Father Quentin's features stretched in panic and he suddenly stood up from the table. "This is... this is terrible! I have to tell Madame Kovarian!"
"Sit down, Father," the man barked suddenly, but his expression remained cool and collected and he gestured to the chair. "I didn't tell you all of this so you could go run off and tell Mummy. I'm not quite finished."
Father Quentin hesitated, but relented and resumed his seat.
"Thank you. Now, you've got a problem. Right now the Doctor has all the cards; he's dead, he's got all of time and space on his hands and he has the element of surprise. All of the Silence's attempts to kill him have failed, including their very expensive assassin River Song."
"How do you-?"
The man raised his hand to silence him. "Never mind how I know about her, just let me finish. As I was saying, all of your attempts have failed. And what Madame Kovarian will try once she hears about this will also fail."
Father Quentin stared at him with wide, bewildered eyes. "You can't know-"
"Oh, please," he said mockingly, "The Doctor's going to know it every time she sneezes. Any plans she'll try to make, he'll learn about and be one step ahead of her. Me, on the other hand..."
Father Quentin's brow creased. "You?"
"Now, don't get your knickers in a bunch, Father," the man soothed with a chuckle, "Right now, your people need a wild card like me."
"What are you proposing?" Father Quentin asked uneasily.
The man smiled. "I'm proposing the Silence do nothing."
Father Quentin gawked at him. "Nothing?"
"Absolutely nothing," the man repeated coolly. "Let me handle it."
"I know, I know, the idea of a freelancer like myself taking care of something so important is disconcerting, but you haven't got much of a choice. The Doctor's going to be watching your every move and at the slightest notion of activity, he'll be knocking down your door faster than you can say 'Demons Run'. Which is why I came to talk to you and not Madame Kovarian."
Father Quentin looked perfectly appalled and confused. "What's your plan, then?"
The man's eyes practically twinkled with excitement. "I'd love to tell you the details, Father, but I'm afraid it would be too risky, so instead, I'll tell you what I need.
"Firstly, I'll need a few of the Silence and I need them to do exactly what I tell them to; no questions asked. Secondly, I'll require a hefty payment for my services; half before and the rest after along with anything else I ask for, no matter how ridiculous it might sound. Thirdly, I will make a request to keep something of potential value to the Silence; the specifics of the request to be revealed later. It will be given to me without question or fuss. Fourthly, and most important, I need a door."
Father Quentin furrowed his brow in confusion. "Just... a door?"
"A very specific door," the man added.
"Well... what is it?"
"I need a door to another universe. Not just any universe, either. It has to be a specific one, otherwise its useless to me."
"What for?" Father Quentin balked.
"The Doctor is in hiding," the man explained, "which could put him... oh... anywhere in time and space. I need a way to lure him out, among other reasons, all of which require that door."
Father Quentin paused, blinking and looking very uncomfortable and indecisive. "I don't know... I don't know if Madame Kovarian would agree to this."
The man suddenly threw his head back in laughter, making Father Quentin jump, startled by the sudden outburst.
"Don't be ridiculous. Of course she wouldn't!" the man said once his fit of laughter had ended. "That's why she's not going to know."
"Pardon?" Father Quentin squeaked.
"You're not going to tell her. At least for a few days. Shouldn't be too hard on you, either, seeing as you're going to be headless in two days' time."
Father Quentin looked like he was going to pop and he made noises as thought to speak, but was too flustered to make any sense. The man watched him in calm amusement as Father Quentin stood from his seat in indignant befuddlement. "I- You- She- I can't keep this from her! If anyone found out I was withholding information of this magnitude... why, they'd-"
"Behead you?" the man asked with a jovial chuckle. "Come, now, Father, it's only two days."
"How am I to pay you without her knowing? How am I supposed to do any of the things you ask without her figuring out what I'm up to? Or ensure that she will follow your instructions?"
"You're a fairly intelligent man. Figure it out. I know you can."
Father Quentin stared at him uncertainly. The man may have looked amused and shrouded himself in an air of collected, nonchalant confidence, but there was something about him that made Father Quentin mentally cringe every time he saw him. Behind those amber eyes there lurked a cunning, dangerous intelligence that few beings could match. Beyond the composed exterior there lay an unrelenting, baneful force that was not to be trifled with.
"I... I don't know..." he stammered uncertainly, not wanting to look any longer into the depths of the man's eyes, subconsciously afraid that somehow he would be able to see into his soul.
The man smiled gently and stood from the chair. "It's like I said. You don't have much of a choice." He pulled his jacket closer and then side-glanced at Father Quentin. "I need that door, Father, by tomorrow morning at the latest. And don't worry yourself; in two days you won't have the ability to."
Father Quentin fiddled with his robes, grabbing them in his fists and mussing with them uncomfortably as he watched the booted man push the chair back into the table.
"Let me tell you something, Father..." he said, pulling his coat up over his shoulders and looking at him severely, "Wherever the Doctor is right now, I can guarantee you that he's going to be doing everything in his power to take the Silence down."
Canton Delaware had dozed off reading the paper. He never used to feel so tired all of the time. He had once been vibrant and alert and strong, but he had been younger then. Had he been younger, he might have handled the events of the day a little differently than he had, but he was just too tired and old.
Even so, he wasn't deaf, and the loud wheezing sound coming from the kitchen was enough to not only wake him, but also kick in old instincts that had been left dusting on a shelf. His eyes opened as the noise from the kitchen grew, rasping and heavy and he sat up. His hand ventured to the side table, opening the drawer and pulling out the revolver he kept hidden there. Turning off the safety, he eased himself up and out of his recliner and began inching towards the kitchen.
The sight there was enough to make his jaw drop. What on earth was a police call box doing in his kitchen?
Before he could recover, the door swung open and a tall man in a bow-tie stepped out, looked around, focused on Canton and then grinned from ear to ear.
"Canton Everett Delaware the third! Isn't this just lovely! How are you? You look positively wrinkly. Have you got tea?"
Canton blinked at him, hardly believing his eyes. He must be dreaming; that was the only explanation. He didn't realize he had started speaking until the words had come out of his mouth unbidden. "Doctor, you're dead..."
"Yes and its very convenient, so please keep this visit between me and you," the Doctor said, turning suddenly towards the TARDIS and running a hand over the door. "She rarely does this."
The Doctor didn't answer, but just kept caressing the TARDIS affectionately. He looked over his shoulder at Canton, an inquiring expression on his face. "Was there something you were wanting to tell me, Canton? I don't think the TARDIS would've brought me here just for a cup of tea."
Canton stared a moment more in confusion. He hadn't really understood the TARDIS and he didn't think he ever would, so he just dropped it. "Actually... yes. It's funny you should show up today of all days."
"Funny ha-ha or funny coincidental?"
"Coincidental," Canton replied patiently. Even after all of these years, he found himself quite familiar with the unusual way the Doctor handled things. "You see, I just got back from Lake Silencio."
"Oh, and how was my funeral? Was it touching?" the Doctor asked with a big grin.
"No, no, that was more than a week ago. I've been going out there every few days... I don't really know why, but its a good thing I did."
The Doctor looked at him, interest twinkling in his eye. He shut the TARDIS door, walked over to a cabinet and grabbed out a box of cookies, immediately opening it up and munching on them while leaning against the kitchen counter. "Something happened?"
Canton nodded, waddled over to the kitchen table, pulled out one of the chairs and sat himself down wearily, setting aside the gun that had apparently held no importance to the Doctor, despite the fact that he had been aiming it right at his head. "I went out there early this morning and saw some men there. They were gathering up the wood from the boat we... we burned you er... well, that we burned your body on. They were running tests of some sort, but I couldn't be sure. Actually, I got some pictures," he said, slowly rising from the chair and hurrying back into the living room. He got the pictures from the side table, having just had them developed and went back into the kitchen, handing them to the Doctor.
He took them, putting down the box of cookies. He glanced at each, his eyes scrutinizing the figures portrayed on them.
"Are they anyone you know?" Canton asked.
The Doctor shook his head. "Not really. Looks like five of them are just thugs, but look at this one," he said, showing the picture of six men huddled over a piece of wood and some sort of equipment. "He has cool boots."
Canton glanced up at the Doctor. "Is that relevant?"
"Not really. I just like his boots. They're cowboy boots. They've got spurs on them, too, see? Boots are cool. He looks like the leader."
"What makes you say that?"
"He's working the equipment in every single picture. These other five fellows just standing around with their hands on their guns. Muscle. Boots is the brains," the Doctor said, going through the pictures once more. He picked out one and showed it to Canton. "May I take this?"
The Doctor folded it in half and put it in one of his coat's inside pockets. "Right. Well. Very unusual. Lucky I showed up, isn't it?" he said with another child-like grin.
"Doctor, what about your friends?" Canton asked. "Do they know you're... alive?"
"Yes. Actually, I just got back from Christmas dinner with them. They'd made me a plate. Isn't that thoughtful? I thought it was thoughtful. It was quite good. The sweet potatoes weren't as sweet as I would've liked. Maybe if they'd added a little custard. Oh, well. Canton, it was truly a pleasure to see you again, but I'd better be off. I've got to see about Mr. Boots here," he said, patting his chest where he'd placed the picture. "If you need me, just call. Here's my number," he said, holding up one finger. He then turned on his heel, threw open the TARDIS doors, and stepped inside.
Canton watched as the doors shut at the snap of the Doctor's fingers and the TARDIS began fade in and out, wheezing and whirring until, in mere seconds, it and the Doctor were gone.