She was on the run. Again. It had been a close call. Again. She fumbled with the controls of her TARDIS, her hands shaking. She needed time off. She needed a distraction. She wasn’t a fool; she knew that people would be sent after her. Not the Doctor. He wouldn’t agree. He wasn’t the chasing type. In fact… She paused. In fact, he was indeed acting like a friend. And right now, she needed one. A smile blossomed on her lips as she entered the coordinates in the control panel. This might prove interesting…
“No, Doctor, you aren’t alright!” Shouted Ian, whose patience had worn off.
Barbara backed away next to the chair, deciding that she didn’t want to be part of the argument. Both men were facing each other, the science teacher overlooking the old man who seemed to be fuming out of rage.
“And I tell you that I’m perfectly fine, Charterton!”
“Whatever! It’s just a name!”
The argument had started when the Doctor had forgotten to mention that the planet on which they had previously materialised had a poisonous atmosphere for Earthlings. As a result, both Ian and Barbara almost choked to death, unable to breathe in the vicious air. The Doctor had helped them out, dragging them back inside the safety of the TARDIS before complaining that they didn’t check the scanner first.
“You know how important it is to check it before going out! How many times did I tell Susan, hmm?”
Ian had unexpectedly lost it. He blamed the old man for being selfish, stubborn, ill-tempered and above all, for being depressed.
“We all miss Susan, but it was YOUR decision to leave her there, so don’t you dare punishing us for your actions! You need to take responsibilities for them.”
The TARDIS materialised at that moment and the Doctor broke the argument by ignoring the science teacher to check the scanner.
The screen showed a dense forest, not unlike the ones on Earth and Barbara suddenly hoped that they were back home in their own time line. Surely this wasn’t too much to ask?
The Doctor took his cape and put his hat on, then operated the doors.
“And where exactly do you think you’re going?” Asked Ian angrily.
“I’m taking a walk. Alone,” was the sharp reply.
The teacher was about to make a nasty comment when he caught Barbara’s message. She was discreetly shaking her head.
“Fine,” mumbled Ian. “Have fun.”
The old man left, leaving his two companions alone in the TARDIS.
“He needs some time to clear things out,” gently said the history teacher.
“He almost got us killed!”
“But he saved us. Please, Ian, don’t make things harder for him or us…”
As soon as he entered the woods, the Doctor got the strange feeling that the vegetation had closed the path behind him, preventing him from going back. He didn’t turn around. In fact, he didn’t even look back. He kept walking, trying to clear his mind from the recent events, including his argument with Chesterton. He wouldn’t apologise, that was out of the question, but he promised himself to care a little more for his companions. Not too much or they would find it suspicious… He stopped and a surprised expression came across his features. The junkyard from Totter’s Lane was in front of him. Here, in the middle of a dense forest. This couldn’t be. Surely it was some sort of hallucination…
He suddenly heard a cry coming from behind the fence. A woman was begging for help. He hesitated briefly, realising this could be a trap. From whom? The Daleks? Their minds weren’t creative enough to come up with such an illusion. The Doctor decided to check and he cautiously opened the wooden door.
The voice was coming from the far back, in an area stuffed with all sorts of antics. The old man made his way towards the voice and finally reached a pit.
“Hello?” He asked.
“Help me, please!”
He leaned over the hole and saw a woman staring at him. She looked frightened but there was hope in her eyes.
“Oh, please Sir, get me out of here, I beg you!”
“How did you get here in the first place?” He asked.
“I… I was taking a walk in the forest when I saw the fence. It seemed so much out of place that I decided to have a look around. I didn’t see the hole and I fell. I’ve been down there forever!”
Her voice was trembling and the Doctor decided that she was telling the truth (except maybe for the “forever” part). He looked around and found some rope. Throwing one end to the prisoner, he ordered her to hold it while he pulled her out.
A few moments later, the woman was free and the old man gave her a proper look. Despite the fact that her hair was dishevelled and her face and clothes dirty from the fall, there was something very attractive about her. Before he could even react, she was hugging him.
“Thank you so much, Sir!”
“Ahum, don’t mention it,” he mumbled, before breaking their embrace.
He noted that the stranger had kept his hand in hers.
“I’m the Doctor,” he introduced himself.
“Oh, a Doctor? How fortunate I am! Of all people who could have rescued me, it had to be a Doctor!” She chuckled, before adding: “My name is Miss Kaptan, but everyone calls me Missy.”
“Well, Miss Kaptan, I mean Missy, it’s been an honour meeting you, but I should really get going now.”
Her face expressed fear and concern.
“You can’t leave me here! I need to get to the ship and I have no clue how to find my way in the woods.”
There was panic in her voice and the Doctor immediately assured her that he would do anything in his power to help her find her way back. She finally let go of his hand as she attempted to put some order in her hair before she brushed her dress in an elegant way. Her companion gallantly offered his arm and they walked out the junkyard.
“Can you remember where you came from?” Asked the old man.
Missy pointed in a direction.
“It’s that way!” She said happily.
They entered the forest and once again, the Doctor had the strange feeling that the vegetation was cutting them from the path.
As they walked, the Doctor tried to know more about the woman. He felt quite comfortable around her, as if he had known her already. In fact, there was something very familiar about her, but he couldn’t put his finger on it.
“Do I know you?” He suddenly asked out of the blue.
She raised an eyebrow and squeezed his arm a bit tighter.
“I’m so glad you feel that way too! I can’t shake that feeling that we have a lot in common!”
This wasn’t the reply he had expected, but he didn’t mind. Missy was an enjoyable company. She too had travelled through space and had many anecdotes to share with him. From what he gathered, she was some kind of a scientist, but she never got specific about what she was doing and he decided that it was probably top secret. She was so brilliant… She had to work for a powerful company. When he mentioned it, she started laughing and assured him that she was free as a bird.
“I’m a freelancer of sorts!” She said, still smiling.
“A bit like me then,” the Doctor confirmed.
An idea was growing in his mind and he stared at the woman, wondering if he should share it with her. As if she was reading his mind, she gazed in his eyes.
“Yes?” She asked softly.
“Do you really need to get back to your ship? Surely the crew should have worried about you by now, so why didn’t we see anybody? Maybe they left without you…”
“Oh… That would be unfortunate. I would be stranded on this planet until a good soul would be kind enough to give me a lift…”
“Hmm mmm,” simply acknowledged her companion who was still struggling with the words.
He couldn’t take his eyes off her. There was indeed something about that woman…
“Miss Kaptan, Missy, would you like to join me on my ship?”
The words had finally come out.
“I’m a traveller too and a free bird as well. I know that it might sound bold, but I would be… happy to have you on board. How do you feel about time travel?”
A shadow passed into the woman’s eyes.
“Oh, Doctor, this is so sweet…”
The hand she put on his cheek was warm and soft and he could swear that he was blushing.
“This is the loveliest thing you ever said to me, you know…”
Now the old man was puzzled. Before he could even start to think about this weird confession, Missy was kissing him.
He didn’t struggle. He didn’t reject her. Quite on the contrary, he enjoyed the kiss while it lasted. And when he fainted, he had a smile on his lips.
Missy looked down at him. There was sadness in her eyes.
“Thank you Doctor. You’ve truly been a friend today. I wish you could remember our meeting, but I’m afraid, it would have consequences and I can’t allow that, now can I? Rest assured that I will cherish this memory for both of us… Goodbye, Doctor. Goodbye, my friend. We shall meet again in your future and in my past.”