The Doctor closes his own eyes again and thinks of all the images swishing around the boy, like muddy eddies. As he concentrates, he catches his breath, then leans down and finds the boy by touch and sense and all things visionary, grabbing him by the shoulder and whispering in his ear.
“All right then, my boy- you asked for it, let’s see if you can keep up. This is your part of the plan. Steal a Time Travel Capsule and travel to Hitchemus. Seek out the White Lady. The night is your friend. There isn’t any time for me to do it, because I have to leave tomorrow on the Mission to the Cloud. Are you up to what I’ve asked you to…”
Hainishtymion is already backing out the door, his youthful footsteps carving farewell roses down the hallway, to the Doctor’s teary-eyed vision.
He sighs, because he’s just proven, for the millionth time, that Time is a bitch, and ‘I’m sorry, Hainish,’ doesn’t begin to cover it. Or should it be, ‘I’m sorry, insert name here?’
Age settles over and in, like little cobwebs of infirmity creeping into his bones.
The poor boy never had a chance. He was only a hundred and fifty!
Still, he mouths it after the retreating footsteps.
“Oh Hainish, my poor sweet boy, I’m sorry! God I’m sorry…”
Hot tears sting again, and he slumps toward the floor in a heap, knocking his head on the edge of Jack’s bed.
A smear of blood smudges across his face where he falls, like errant burlesque rouge.