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Seeking Lethe

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The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy has this to say about Time Lords:

The Time Lords may or may not have existed. Legend has it that they were the first race to discover time travel. Instead of doing something exciting, like conquering the universe, they stayed on their home planet, wearing elaborate and uncomfortable fashions, and writing treatises about peace, stability and mathematics. They had a strict non-interference policy: they wouldn't interfere with other civilisations, unless, of course, they discovered time travel; whereupon the Time Lords would quietly ensure that it turned out that those others hadn't discovered time travel after all. They preferred an orderly universe, where one thing happened after another. They were a stuffy, solemn lot, apart from those few who left out of boredom, megalomaniac ambitions, or pursuing research that wasn't approved of by bothersome ethics committees.

So it continued for thousands of years, until another race discovered time travel, who couldn't be tricked, bribed or bluffed into giving up the discovery: the Daleks. This species was about as different from the Time Lords as you could get: they did want to conquer the universe, and exterminate all other life forms[1]. These irreconcilable differences resulted in the Last Great Time War, which raged across the universe, the future and the past, until both sides ended up annihilating each other so thoroughly that they had never existed.

This left the field clear for other life forms to discover time travel, giving us the present state of history as we don't know it[2].

If you ever meet someone claiming to be the last of the Time Lords, smile and back away slowly. Unless you happen to be Zaphod Beeblebrox.

[1] See "Krikkit".
[2] See "Campaign For Real Time".


"Vodka, neat."

One of Zaphod's heads turned to look at the stranger. Anthropoid, only one head and two arms, brown hair cut short, and a black leather jacket so unfashionably cut it could only have come from one place.

"Not another boring ape-man," one of his heads muttered.

But the stranger apparently had sharp ears. "What? I'm not human, and I'm certainly not boring."

The bartender returned with a frown, saying, "We don't have such a thing as vodka."

"Sorry, wasn't thinking," the man said. "Rishta Krem, a double."

When the glass arrived, the stranger guzzled the contents like it was beer on a hot day, slammed the glass down, blinked a few times, shook his head, and said, "Another, bartender." His voice wasn't in the least bit hoarse.

Both Zaphod's heads turned to look at the stranger. Rishta Krem was normally taken in sips. Zaphod observed the stranger take up his second glass, sigh, and gulp it down like it was medicine.

"What are you doing?" Zaphod said.

"Trying to get drunk," the man said. "It's this metabolism of mine - the effect doesn't last very long."

"Man, you're not going to get drunk like that," Zaphod said. "It's the attitude as much as the drink. You got to hang loose, man. Be cool. Let it creep up on you like the fingers of a lover through your hair. Not that you have much hair there."

"I don't?" The man put a hand to his head. "I don't. Oh well. That's the way the regeneration crumbles. Better than being dead. Maybe." A look of determination settled on his face. "I am going to get drunk."

"Have you ever had a Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster?" Zaphod asked.

"Nope," the man said.

"Two Pan-Galactic Gargle Blasters," Zaphod said. "One for me and one for my friend here."

"Thanks," said the man. "I'm the Doctor, by the way. And you are?"

"Zaphod Beeblebrox of course - don't you recognise me?"

"I've been rather busy," said the Doctor. Darkness shadowed his eyes.

Two tall glasses arrived, bubbling and wreathed in white vapour.

"Sip it," Zaphod advised. "A Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster is not to be hurried."

The Doctor raised his eyebrows. He sipped the drink. He licked his lips. "Pleasant -" he began, and then stopped and gasped for breath. "Now, that's what I call a drink," he said.


The Doctor was singing, surprisingly tunefully.

"I love to have a drink with Duncan,
I love to have a drink with Dunc.
We drink in moderation
And we never ever ever get rolling drunk.
We drink at the Town and Country,
Where the atmosphere is great.
I love to have a drink with Duncan
'cause Duncan's me mate!"

"Who's Duncan?" Zaphod asked.

"Duncan? Which one?" The Doctor blinked. "There was Duncan Macleod, but - oh, I think you're supposed to change the names." He began singing again. "I love to have a drink with Zaphod,
I love to have a drink with Zaph -" he broke off. "What rhymes with Zaph?"

"Safe?" Zaphod suggested.

"I love to have a drink with Zaphod,
I love to have a drink with Zaph.
We drink like little fishes
And we ain't never worrying if it's safe.
We drink at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe -"

He broke off again. "Why is there a Restaurant at the End of the Universe? I mean, I came all this way, because it was the End, the End of the Universe, some solitary desolation, and they go and build a Restaurant here. Why? Can't a fellow feel desolate in peace?"

"They have good drinks," Zaphod pointed out.

"Um, yeah."


"Is," said Zaphod.

"Isn't," said the Doctor.




"Did you actually see it?" the Doctor asked.

"No, but the Earth-man and Ford said -"

"Did they actually see it?"

"They wouldn't be here now if they'd seen it."

"That means I can save it! Recipri-cognitive exclusion!" The Doctor leapt up and then tripped over the base of the bar stool, landing on his back. He blinked at the glitter-strewn ceiling. "What am I doing on the floor?"

One of Zaphod's heads looked down. "You're drunk."

"Ah. That would explain it." He blinked at Zaphod. "You did have two heads before, didn't you?"

"Yeah, frood."

The Doctor clambered to his feet, pulling on one of the bar stools for balance. Luckily it was bolted to the floor, so it didn't tip over. "I'll write myself a note," he said. He pulled a pen out of his inside pocket, and grabbed one of the serviettes.

Dear Doctor, he wrote,
Don't forget to save the Earth from the Vogons.
The Doctor


The next day, the Doctor woke in the TARDIS, wondering who had been torturing him with a psychic mind probe. Then he remembered Zaphod, drinking, and something about Earth.

He took the note out of his pocket, and realized he hadn't written the date this was supposed to happen.

He shrugged, then winced at what the movement did to his head. I'll go to Earth anyway. It always needs saving, if not from the Vogons, then from something else. It'll give me something to do.

Because anything was better than thinking about Gallifrey.