Chapter Twelve

"So when you got back from your trip, things changed?" Rose asked him.

"Well, I was shunned and ridiculed by other Time Lords for standing up for what I believed in. I was resentful of that but I since realized that they were too cowardly to do the same and most of them were probably joining in the ridicule in case anyone suspected them of being a renegade. Thanks, Jackie," he said when Jackie came back in with more tea and biscuits.

"And these other students made trouble for ya?" Jackie said, sitting the tray down on the table.

"Well, most of them stood back and ridiculed me or talked about me behind my back. But the majority of them stayed away from me. Guilt by association and all. Arella was the only one brave enough to be my friend."

"Yay!" Rose said, pumping the air with her fist.

"Actually," the Doctor said as Jackie sat down. "My real trouble started when Koschei came back to the Academy."

"Huh? I thought he was expelled," Rose said.

"He was. But his family was very rich. They owned a plantation with fields and fields of red grass. Red grass was used as fuel on some planets so Koschei's family made a fortune exporting it. His father had connections and influence in the High Council and he managed to get his son reinstated."

"Oh bugger," Rose said. "So he came after you then?"

"No, actually, he kept his distance at first. Mainly because he was watched by the professors to make sure he behaved. He was plotting his revenge but behind the scenes. Well, he stayed out of mine and Arella's way for awhile and then…"


Merzet sat at the desk in his room. He was working on his homework when he heard a knock on the door. He raised his head and got up from his chair. He opened it and was shocked when Arella was standing there, tears running down her cheeks.

"What's wrong?" he said, stepping aside to let her in.

"I have to leave the Academy for a few days," Arella said.

"What? Why? It's final exams for this quarter," he said.

"I know, Merzy, but…my father was murdered."

"What?" Merzet said, shutting the door. "How?"

"Someone shot him with a laser blaster while he was out shopping with mum and my little sister. Whoever it was, the coward was in the shadows when he shot him."

"Oh, Arella, I'm sorry," Merzet said.

"I hope they catch the bastard and I hope they disintegrate him and keep his memories out of the matrix. I hope the son of a bitch is completely forgotten after he dies," Arella said, slumping down onto Merzet's bed.

Merzet sat down beside her and embraced her.

"Come with me back home," Arella said as she embraced him.

"What about the exams?" Merzet said.

"My family will speak to the headmaster and get us excused. Please, Merzet, I want you there at the funeral. Please?'

"Yes, I'll come with you," Merzet said.

Arella thanked him before giving him a firm kiss on the lips. The kiss turned into a snog and soon Arella and Merzet were making love on his bed.


The Doctor paused and looked at Rose who was now staring at him with a highly interested look on her face.

"Go on," Rose said when he didn't continue.

"Sorry, I'm not going into graphic detail with your mum sitting across from me," the Doctor said. "We had sex and let's leave it at that."

"Blast, I was ready for some titillation," Rose said.

"Not me, I'd rather not listen to how aliens have sex," Jackie said. "Just skip past it please; we get the gist of it. You and her had comfort sex."

"Yes, exactly," the Doctor said, ignoring Rose's overly disappointed groan. "We spent most of the night making love and fell asleep in each other's arms. The next morning we went to see the headmaster and got permission to delay our exams until after the funeral. Her uncle had phoned the night before and explained the situation so he'd already made up his mind when we got there. By that afternoon we were on our way to her house."

"Did you like her family?" Rose said.

"The ones I met, yes. She had a huge extended family like most Gallifreyans. I met her mother and some of her brother and sisters but a couple of her uncles and her cousins were off making the funeral arrangements. But they welcomed me and made me feel at home. She lived in a different area of Gallifrey so they didn't know about my oddity. It felt good to be treated like a normal member of society and not a pariah. When a Gallifreyan dies, there is a huge funeral feast. Friends usually bring in food for the family so they won't have to cook. So the first night we had a lavish dinner and I met some of the family friends who also welcomed me warmly.

"Was it burial or cremation?" Jackie asked.

"Cremation. First, the mind of the deceased is drained and its contents are stored for all time in the Matrix which was a repository of all knowledge on my planet. It was a way for the deceased to live on. That's why Arella hoped the murderer wouldn't have that privilege. Then a funeral pyre is built, the body is wrapped and burned in the presence of the mourners. After that, the family goes into a deep mourning for a month and then there is another feast to end it."

"So you were s'posed to be at Arella's for a month then?" Rose said.

"No, we couldn't do that. The Academy gave us leave to go home for a couple of days but our studies were too important for Arella to stay away that long. She mourned at school."

"By wearing black?" Jackie said.

"No, by a half fast. For a month, the family doesn't eat anything except for vegetable salad and water. Wearing black is an Earth custom."

Rose sat up.

"When you destroyed your planet, did you mourn like that?" Rose said.

The Doctor let out a mirthless laugh.

"I did more than just eat salad and drink water. I went on a fast that very nearly killed me," he said. "I hated what I did and I didn't want to live. I finally came to my senses and decided that it wouldn't do anybody any good if I snuffed it so I pulled myself together. But when I met you, I was still recovering from that and that's why I was bitter and angry."

Silence descended over the flat for a moment since neither Jackie nor Rose knew what to say to that. They could see the anguish in the Doctor's eyes as he relieved the memories of destroying Gallifrey. Finally, Rose reached out and touched his arm and the Doctor came out of his reverie and smiled at her with love in his eyes.

"Um…anyway, Arella and I were guests at the funeral dinner," the Doctor said as Rose scooted up to the edge of the sofa and took his hand. "They held it outside and they had built a fire pit because a few people had brought a large boar for a barbecue. The sun had set and the fire and a few candles on the tables were the only light we had. It was a large dinner so there were five tables, three of them were pushed together and the other two were behind them. Each table was just laden with food, bowls and bowls of it. I think part of the reason the feasts were held was because food can be a sort of medicine to ease the pain. Plus, the gathering of kith and kin and friends helped as well. Anyway, It was after dark and the stars were out and Arella and I decided to take a short walk while the boar was roasting. We grabbed a glo orb because we were going to go beyond the illuminated area. Arella's family was also well off and they had a large house with many acres and we wanted to be alone. Problem was, when we started walking we had no idea that someone was watching from the darkness and walking with us."

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