She had been hiding out of sight, waiting for me to approach. As I descended the stairs to the console, she sprang out of the shadows and lunged after me. I swivelled on the spot and watched as River fell to the floor a little short of me.
"Can I help you?" I asked, only subtly noticing my own shortness of breath.
"Yes." she muttered into the floor. "Yes you can."
I crouched down in front of her, eyeing her suspiciously. "How?"
"Stopping for one minute." She picked herself up, keeping her eyes stuck on me.
I stood up, still. "Why?"
"Because you haven't stopped lately. You have been off doing your hero bit on every single planet we've landed on, sometimes on multiple occasions at different points in their history and on at least one occasion it was the same day." she moaned at me, moving over to the console. "You haven't spent much time with any of us lately, that's what I'm saying."
I watched her, keeping my feet stuck to the spot. My mind ticked over, counting the minute down. "Just doing my bit."
"You do your bit and the bit for half of the universe. You have earned yourself a day off at the very least." She stood in front of me, pulling me into a hug. "Please."
"Fine." I muttered, smiling at her. "But I need to deal with this." I manoeuvred my hand into my pocket, my eyes asking her to pull away slightly. I pulled out a small wooden box and placed it in the palm of my hand for here to see.
"What is it?" she asked, touching the top of the box carefully. She stroked the ornate pattern.
"The final resting place of the Diadarian Horde." I said, smiling as her hand flew away. "I need to bury it before anyone tries to resurrect them again."
"And we're doing that now?" She watched me work my way around the console, trying to land the ship. The ship made a satisfying sound as I bounded over to the doors. "Shovel?" she asked.
"Good idea." I muttered. "But not needed." I waved my free hand at her before opened the door, staring out onto the surface of the planet. It was just like he remembered it, all those lifetimes ago.
"So where is this place?" River asked, placing her head on my shoulder.
"Quiescia. Quite a quiet planet." I stepped out onto the pebbled floor and looked around. "There won't be anyone else here for, what, a hundred million nights." I knelt down and moved some of the turquoise stones to one side, digging into the grey earth. River stood over me, one eye watching me and the other staring out over the surface of the planet. She knelt down opposite me and helped me to dig. I caught sight of Serenata and Matthew standing in the doorway of the ship, watching us. They had young Gabriel standing in front of them but he was more interested in the world around him than what we were doing.
I lowered the box into the hole slowly. "What's in the box?" River asked, whispering so that the others wouldn't be able to hear. "Ashes? Datacores?"
"Bodies." I replied sombrely. We covered it over in the earth.
"And you're sure nobody will find it?"
I turned on the spot. "Look up there. Up on that hilltop." They all did as they were told, staring out into the distance. "Now watch."
And they all watched in awe as the hilltop and quite a bit of the surrounding area imploded and became a beautiful neutron star. He hadn't admired its beauty the last time he had been there, stood on the other side.
"I did that." I muttered.
We stayed, admiring the wonder of it for a while. I had fetched some deckchairs out of the ship, ones that I hadn't used since that marvellous time on Brighton Beach and we sat.
Memories flew around in my head; of Sarah-Jane and Laika and of Sam and the Relic. A little smile crept onto my face as I wiped a couple of tears away. That was long gone now.
Matthew crouched beside my chair. "Why did you do that?"
"It's a long story." I grimaced briefly before beaming at him. "And we have better things to do that sit and listen."
I jumped up, dragging my chair back to the ship. "We off then?" Sere called after me. I nodded clearly before returning to the surface of Quiescia and taking one last look at the neutron star. The others filtered into the ship. I waved goodbye to the past and pulled the doors shut.
"I like listening." Matthew insisted from my side.
"But it's better to experience." I retorted, meandering up to the console.
"You know we can't go back on your own timeline." River remarked. I smiled, grabbing her hand and we danced around the console, my arm only leaving her waist to flip a couple of switches. The others laughed. Gabriel looked up to Serenata and they too danced. Matthew looked on as she taught their son how to waltz, a lesson I had taught her a long time ago. "What was that all about?" River gasped.
"Who fancies a holiday?" I hollered. They all expressed a great interest in that, including the ship as she picked us up and took us through the vortex. A list of names popped up on the screen and my eyes darted through it.
"Definitely not Wafsel 12. Hmm, how about Dunakis?"