The Teacher was shackled to the pipe containing the quasi-black hole, one green button from oblivion. When she gave herself up, Johnny Depp shouted, ‘Don’t do it, don’t do it!’ which he would have had to do whether or not he was a traitor, to keep up the pretence. The other angels had pleaded. The red-haired angel cried, ‘Johnny’s a soldier, Teacher. We’re soldiers. We die for you, you don’t die for us. You’re too important.’ By the end of this, as the two large grey-suited men grabbed hold of Miss Smallbone, who looked lost and alone, the red-haired angels voice was despair.
‘But this is the end,’ the Teacher smiled. ‘No one lives forever, not even… Not even me. I’m proud of you. I’m proud of you especially, Mary Sue. Remember: this is the end, but that doesn’t mean we’ve lost, not while David is still out there. I will soon be gone, but I have trained my replacement well. I’m so tired, and this way, if… If we do not lose, David Beckham, then Johnny will survive to see Vanessa again, and they deserve that. And, after the things I have done, I deserve to… I am not proud of all the things I have done. Mary Sue will explain.’ She shook her head, and looked defiantly around her, her voice returning to its natural timbre – simple and utterly commanding. Even though she was cuffed immobile, all of the demons took a half step back and their hands went to their guns. ‘I am confident that Mary Sue will have the chance to explain what I have done, and I hope you will understand, and know that I am sorry. Remember this for then: I am doing this now because…’ She looked again at Johnny Depp. ‘Partly it is because it is the least I owe you, and partly it is because I love you, and I have always loved you.’
Johnny Depp’s eyes suddenly flickered in recognition. ‘You! It’s… I can’t believe it. You survived our expulsion to earth! It was you all this time! I presumed you had…’
‘It was better that way. I’m sorry.’ And she turned her face away from him.
‘Well,’ said David Beckham, ‘that was all very touching. And now I have a little surprise for everyone. You all see how your precious Teacher has given herself up for Johnny Depp, believing he is not a spy? I know, because I know these things, that deep down, you fear that she has made a terrible, catastrophic, final mistake. Well, let me put your mutual minds at rest. Johnny Depp is not our spy.’
‘Who is?’ said the red-haired girl.
‘I am,’ said David Tennant stepping onto a platform above us. ‘I am sorry, Teacher.’
I felt everything falling away. ‘Yes, indeed,' said David Beckham. 'Your precious, deceitful little David Tennant has led the other "rescue party" into its appointed trap. I wouldn’t want you to die thinking there was any hope. Teacher, I cannot understand why the Master was so worried about you.’
‘You’ll learn,’ said Miss Smallbone, quietly and impossibly sad. ‘In the very end, everyone learns. I’m ready.’
‘I doubt that very much. Now let’s see if this black hole works.’ David Beckham pressed the button, and Miss Smallbone swung into the pipe. Her short scream filled the room for a long time, more horrible than anything I and possibly begin to describe, as if someone was scraping a nail down a blackboard in every atom of my body. When I think of that moment, I can still hear and feel the echoes of it. David Beckham, trying to pretend he wasn’t shaken, held a device to the side of the pipe, and said, ‘It works.’
David Tennant climbed down the ladder into the main hall. He moved slowly, reluctantly, not as if he’d done something wrong, but as if he were embarrassed. He looked at me, and said, ‘I do love you, Mary Sue. The Teacher didn’t understand. This will be the best thing, in the end.’ I knew other things were happening and being said, but that was all I heard clearly, because my mind was almost filled with him, with wanting to trust him. Dimly I was aware of the vicious fury of the caged angels, and David Beckham’s sardonic replies that there was no help coming, that all their friends were sleeping, and that David Tennant was returning to his real people, the demons he had fought alongside for long millennia, and who he had never really turned away from. Then David Tennant said, ‘No, David Beckham. I turned away from you. I will not have my love for Guinevere belittled. I do love your mother, Mary Sue.’
‘Then why?’ I said.
‘Because I have her,’ said Victoria Beckham, dragging a battered and bleeding Billie Piper onto the platform alongside her husband. It looked as if she was using every piece of her strength simply to breath. ‘Pathetic creature that she is. And David Tennant, like a good dog, knows his master. Don’t you boy.’
‘His master!’ I said. ‘Are you the Master?’
David Beckham guffawed instinctively, and then said, ‘Sorry, Victoria, but that was funny. I mean, you are an idiot.’
‘I know you’re joking, babe,’ said Victoria, ‘but you can be really hurtful sometimes.’
David Tennant was in the middle of the hall. When Billie Piper managed to lift her head to see what was going on, she said, ‘Oh God, no David, no, don’t do it. Don’t do it for me! You should have left me! What have you done?’
‘It’s too late,’ David said rushing to her.
‘No!’ she said, trying to resist him. Then. ‘No, David!’ But her voice was not as emphatic as it might have been, and now she was holding her hands to him, trembling with the need to touch him. They looked into each others’ eyes in the way that should have given the game away long ago, but maybe cameras can’t capture it, in the final analysis, and anyway, there are none so blind as they that cannot see. I didn’t for one second feel like a daughter witnessing her parents in a moment of joy. I felt many other things, which included sadness, anger, rage and jealousy. I think I can be forgiven for having been conflicted. Then David Tennant turned and said to me, and the other angels, all the while keeping hold of my mother’s hand. ‘It’s over,’ he said. ‘They’ve won. Or, I mean, WE’ve won, our RACE has won. But that doesn’t mean the end of all you hold dear. It just means something new is starting. They haven’t killed you because they know that you will be powerful in the new world, the world after the Gate opens. They don’t expect you to agree with them then, they are not morally facile, and they know that life is always conflict, but the time has come for our restoration.’ He seemed to be speaking mostly to me. ‘The prophecy says that for you to kill the Master, your mother and I must sacrifice ourselves for you, Mary Sue, and we haven’t. You WILL join the Master, and it will not be the catastrophe you have been told. Great power can do great good. But you have to agree willingly. That is why you are not caged. That is why everyone is talking to you. We will not use coercion.’ Billie Piper next to him was shaking her head that this was wrong, wrong, wrong, but she couldn’t let him go, and her flank leant towards his. When their hips touched, David Tennant’s eyes closed momentarily, as if his heart had been run though with an invisible sword. His face had a maniacal gleam throughout this speech, a desperate air, as if he knew I wasn’t convinced. I was trying to persuade myself that this was shame at what he had done, but the gleam might just have been the tears in my eyes.
‘What will happen to everyone?’ I said weakly. ‘To us, I mean, to human people?’
‘You will have great influence, Mary Sue,’ he said. ‘You are the Chosen One. All you have to do is to join us, freely.’
‘Mother?’ I asked.
Billie Piper crumpled then and David Tennant had to hold her up. She looked up and said, ‘I don’t know.’ She looked at David and added, ‘They said I would die soon unless you… No. Don’t do it, my daughter, who I love.’ Her knees went again, and she hung in David’s arms, and said, ‘I don’t know anything any more.’
‘We cannot coerce you,’ David repeated. I thought there was almost a note of desperation creeping into his voice.
‘I can, though,’ said Rollo Price, stepping suddenly out of the darkness, faster than anyone could react, and resting a cold blade against my hot neck.