It was perhaps the calico that tried the Doctor’s patience the most. Sitting atop the time rotor like it was an oscillating throne, she licked and bit at her paw whilst ignoring the presence of the Time Lord altogether. Her compatriots, over twenty cats in all of various colours and sizes, milled about the chamber, exploring under the console and jumping up on the panel. Lights flickered and the room lurched a little as silent paws pressed this button or knocked that dial. A particularly affectionate black cat wound itself through the Doctor’s legs, leaving dark hair on his crisp white linen.
“Ace,” he growled. “What are all these cats doing in my TARDIS?”
The girl cradled a tiny ball of fluff in her arms, encouraging it to bat at her fingers wiggling in front of its nose. She didn’t smile when she looked up at the Doctor, but pride in her work shone in her eyes. “Just what you asked for, Professor.”
Wrinkling his nose as he nudged the black cat with the tip of his umbrella, the Doctor gently but pointedly lifted it with his foot and pushed it away. With a loud purr, it stalked back to him and laid itself down across his shoe. “When exactly did I ask for twenty-eight cats?”
“Well, you didn’t really, but I didn’t know where we’d get cheetahs.” She shrugged. “So I figured that these weighed about the same as two of ‘em.”
“Cheetahs?” His confusion finally getting the better of him, he frowned, and squatted to stroke the feline at his feet. “What would I need cheetahs for? Why would anyone need cheetahs?”
“I’ve no idea. You said you needed to load the fuser,” she replied.
“I needed them to load the…?” he murmured to himself as he gathered up the cat and rose to his feet. “Oh.” He sighed. “Ace. I said I needed to load the G diffuser.”
She nodded. “Right, Professor.”
“No, Ace.” His next words were slow and careful. “I said, the G.” Pause. “Diffuser.”
Ace stared at him for a moment, the brightness in her eyes gone. “Oh.”
“Not cheetah fuser.”
“No.” The Doctor glanced around again at the mounds of mobile fur inhabiting his console room. “I thought you seemed a bit overly eager to do maintenance on the gravitronics.”
“Yeah.” Pursing her lips, she tickled the tummy of the kitten in her arms before asking, “Should I… take these back to their homes?”
“I think you better had.” The Doctor glanced down at the one in his arms. “I, er, I’ll help you with this one,” he murmured, then turned and disappeared into the corridor with his prize.