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Tourists

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Max stepped out of the TARDIS into blinding sunlight reflected on grey, cracked dirt. The ground was hard, nearly like concrete, and there wasn't a blade of grass to be seen. The sky was surprisingly picture postcard blue and off in the distance stood a tall, imposing structure that reminded him of ruined castles back on Earth. He put his hands in his pockets as the Doctor stepped beside him.

"Aren't you hot?" he asked, glancing over at the Time Lord who seemed perfectly comfortable in his leather jacket despite the sun.

"Are you?" The Doctor looked at him, a challenging glint in his eyes.

Max looked up toward the sun, shielding his eyes with his hand, and was surprised to see how small it looked, almost like some random star in the sky. He realized he wasn't hot, not even a little bit. He stretched out his hand, turned it from side to side.

"It's like there's no warmth, no heat at all."

"What does that tell you?"

Max sighed and looked up the hill toward the tower. He really wasn't in the mood for another round of 20 questions with the Doctor, or for more of the "teach Max about the universe" tour they'd embarked on. He'd agreed mainly because it was the Doctor's only stipulation before he took him to Antar, but today Max was frustrated and tired, and almost would have wanted to go back to Roswell than stand on more foreign soil.

"I don't know," he finally said, looking back into the sky. "The sun looks to be really far away."

"Yes."

"And it's strange, it feels wrong somehow. There aren't any clouds but the light, as bright as it is, seems almost," Max looked around him as he searched for the word, "it's almost filtered or something."

"The atmosphere has an unusual level of phosphorescent particles." He cupped his hands together. "If you look at it in the dark the air seems to glow."

Max leaned close to look through the Doctor's fingers and marveled at the faint shimmer. He looked back and matched the Doctor's smile. "That's amazing."

The Doctor's eyes slightly softened as his smile grew even broader. "So why do you think we're here?"

Max straightened then stretched. "I don't have a clue."

"Imagine this planet at night, after the sun has finally set and the only thing above our heads is the blackness of space. No moons, not even any other stars. This whole planet emitting the light of a thousand suns. Astronomers from nearby galaxies often think it's a star, the light is so brilliant and stretches out across the universe like a beacon." Max loved the Doctor's enthusiasm, his contagious exuberance. It was when he seemed to develop a poet's soul, an artist's vision.

"And," the Doctor concluded, "the best seat in the house planet-side for this light show is up there." He nodded at the tower.

"So today we're tourists."

"Aren't we always?" he asked with a smile, then headed up the hill toward the old fortress, Max close behind him.