Just as the name implies, a T.A.R.D.I.S. can travel through time and space. It does not, however, travel between universes. Not because there is no wish to do so; simply because it can’t. The energy needed to even look into a universe other than one’s own is more than even such a magnificent ship can generate safely.
On another note, many people propagate the so-called M-theory, the existence of parallel universes. Despite the lack of proof. Ah, but who can say with certainty whether that is true, whether one universe is similar to another – or not?
So it stands to reason that while things happen a certain way in one universe, those very same events might be occurring somewhat differently in the next one.
In one universe, the Doctor, Martha Jones and Captain Jack Harkness crashed on Malcassairo a 100 trillion years in the future. There, Martha Jones unwittingly helped along the rise of the Master by insistently questioning a rather harried Professor Yana about his broken fob-watch.
In this one, however...
Martha and Chantho watched Professor Yana become increasingly teary-eyed as they listened to the banter between the Doctor and Jack as the latter installed the titanium-encased uranium rods by hand.
"Professor Yana, what is wrong, doh?" Chantho asked, worried that her beloved mentor had finally succumbed to the ever-increasing stress and responsibility of ensuring the survival of the last vestiges of mankind.
Martha, too, had seen what the weight of other people’s hope could do to the Doctor, nevermind a frail, old, human man. "Professor...?"
"Time, time, time... Always running out on me." Professor Yana drew a fob-watch from his vest’s pocket, absent-mindedly stroking the tarnished piece of metal. "Never could keep time. Always late, always lost." He sighed despondently. "Even this thing never worked."
"Can I have a look at that?" Martha asked.
"Oh, it’s an old relic. Like me," Professor Yana replied self-depreciatingly. Upon Martha’s question as to its origin, the old man confessed to having been found with it as a lonely child, on the coast of the Silver Devastation in the Isop Galaxy.
"Have you opened it?" Martha asked. She had, somehow, a bad feeling about this time-keeper.
"Why would I?" Professor Yana retorted, astonished. "It’s broken."
"...You know, Professor, the Doctor is rather good at repairing broken things," Martha stated. "Maybe he can help you with that." She pointed at the fob-watch.
"You think so?" the Professor questioned, half suspicious and half hopeful.
"I know so," Martha said with conviction. "After all, he’s done it often enough before." She stretched out her hand. "How about I take it to him right away? Then you and Chantho can concentrate on the rest of the take-off procedures for the rocket without any further distractions."
"That’s a good idea, Martha, doh," Chantho added. "The professor has complained about being unable to measure time often enough, doh."
At Professor Yana’s decidedly not-quite-pouting glare, Chantho clicked her mandibles in distress and shrugged apologetically. "Sorry, doh. It is true, though, doh."
The un-clipped fob-watch was unceremoniously thrust at a surprised Martha with a curt "Let’s see your doctor repair this, then." while the rather incensed professor ushered an embarrassed Chantho back towards the bank of computers. "We still have quite a bit to do before the rocket can finally take off."
He seemed...energized somehow, as if the prospect of having his broken time-piece finally repaired had given the old man a new energy-boost. Either that – or Chantho’s gentle needling had pulled him out of his funk.
Martha raced from the room, intent on getting the watch to the Doctor as soon as possible. She had the distinctly unsettling feeling of just having avoided a major catastrophe by the skin of her teeth.
When she ran into the room where the Doctor and Jack were, the two men were acting like chipmunks on a sugar-high, flipping switches and talking a mile a minute. Martha stopped. She blinked. Why were the both of them wearing a somewhat manic grin on their faces? Then she shook herself out of that momentary trance. There were really more important things to do than wondering if another one like the Doctor existed – and just because they were acting so similar.
"...and then the Erithrozean crystal will—"
"—according to my calculations—"
"Doctor!" Martha Jones had had to deal with many recalcitrant patients; she would manage to deal with one bull-headed doctor.
Jack had stopped whizzing around after the second energetic "Doctor" from Martha. Instead, he just stood there, watching. Only his eyes betrayed the amusement he felt at Martha’s increasing frustration at her inability to get the Doctor’s attention. It certainly was nice to see someone else trying to corral the Last Time Lord for a change.
Ah, the feisty girl must have had enough since she actually bodily inserted herself between the Doctor and the console he was working on.
"Martha, what are you doing? I need to—"
The fob-watch was thrust into the Doctor’s face by a rather incensed Martha Jones.
"What the—?" Apparently even Time Lords go cross-eyed when looking at objects too near their ocular nerves. The Doctor’s surprise would be almost funny to see but for the reason.
"Where did you get this!?" He nearly ripped the fob-watch from poor Martha’s hand, frantic.
Jack was appalled. This was not his usual ‘Hah, I’m so clever but we’ll have to RUN!’-frantic. More like a ‘Uh-oh, how did I miss this fleet of Daleks’-frantic.
"Doctor, maybe you should let Martha explain? Instead of shaking her like a Raxacoricophallapatorian cocktail?" Jack tried to pry the poor girl from the Doctor’s clutches.
"Right," the Doctor admitted, ashamed that he had to be reminded of that, to be reminded that he should take care of his companions. Not to mention that it just had to be bloody Captain Jack Harkness who reminded him. Another one of his screw-ups, if not his second-greatest one.
The Doctor released Martha, patting her hand apologetically. "I’m sorry, Martha. You... Surprised me."
'Understatement of at least the century, Doctor,' Jack thought. 'Must be quite shock to you, hm? Having that kind of hope dangled so suddenly in front of you...' Not that Jack was bitter or anything. Nope.
The quick but guilty look he threw Jack let the Captain know that yes, the Doctor was well aware of what he’d done – or not done – and feeling more than just a bit guilty about it.
After that, they both listened to Martha’s explanation in rapt attention.
The Doctor tore down the passages and walkways, Jack hot on his heels and Martha running along behind them as best she could.
Normally, the Doctor would pay more attention to his Companions ability to keep up with him but right now... Right now, he had a concern that eclipsed all others. It was just like the Face of Boe had said to him back then! He was not the Last One. He was not alone. There was another one. There still was a Time Lord living other than him! And... Judging from the energies emanating from the ‘fob-watch’, there could be no doubt as to their origin, their—No, the Doctor would not even think of that name. Call the devil and he shall appear and all that. With his luck, he better not tempt fate any more than he already had and, in all likelihood, will do.
Maybe, just this once, everybody would live. Just this once, the Doctor would like to be able to regain the friend of his childhood without the looming threat of his future best enemy. He clutched the fob-watch even tighter, silently vowing to do whatever it took to ensure that it would not be opened. No matter the consequences.
Running behind the Doctor, certainly not ogling his posterior, Jack could guess the Doctor’s thoughts. He, too, had recognized the time-piece for what it actually was. The captain inwardly rolled his eyes. He could have told his Time Lord that his plans would not work out quite like he wanted. They never did. For all their sakes, though, Jack hoped that fate would make an exception for his friend this time. The Doctor deserved to have something work out for him, didn’t he.
The three of them burst through the control-room’s door, startling Chantho into dropping a spanner and the Professor clutching a hand to his undoubtedly jack-rabbiting heart.
"Doctor!" Professor Yana exclaimed chidingly. "Please don’t do that. I don’t think my poor old heart could take any more surprises."
The Doctor winced, definitely thinking of the consequences of the other’s heart giving out from fright. Or surprise. Or...old age, really. No, he certainly did not want that to happen. Not anytime soon – if ever. Not before he could--The Doctor shook himself out of his thoughts. Now was certainly not the time for fond recollections of one's youth. He offered a sheepish "Sorry, professor" to the other.
The old man harrumphed, already turning back towards the computers. The countdown would not wait for anyone and they were already pressed for time as it was. Fortunately, he now had even more hands on, well, hand, to direct their operation with.
Jack bee-lined towards Chantho to help her with aligning the various fuel gauges and other necessary equipment. Martha was sent to man the computer, asked to hold the line to the ship’s crew. The Doctor assisted Professor Yana, gleefully talking about vectors and dimensions and what-not while the older man listened with an interested if a bit puzzled air, occasionally interjecting with a comment or two of his own. With those two geniuses taking care of all the calculations, take-off was guaranteed to be successful.
Not that being busy hindered Jack at listening in on those two. He, too, was very good at multi-tasking even though he might give people a different impression sometimes. On purpose, of course.
"So..." the Doctor turned towards the Professor. "Have you told anyone about your intentions?"
Yana blinked. "What do you mean, doctor?"
"Well, someone has to stay behind to launch the rocket."
Martha’s shocked "What!?" went unnoticed by the other occupants of the room. Chantho had obviously already known and Jack, as usual, had already guessed correctly if not downright known from the start.
"Oh, that." Yana waved a hand dismissively. "It’s no big deal. Someone has to, after all, and I would not want to leave Chantho on her own." He chuckled. "I am old and have no family. Really, who would miss me? I am at peace now. Even the drums in my head have fallen silent at long last."
Upon hearing this said so casually by his unknowing colleague, the Doctor swore he could feel his hearts break. It sounded so...defeatist, so matter-of-factly resigned... That just would not do.
"Say, Professor, how would you like to see Raxacoricophallapatorius? Or witness the First Hierophant’s Ascension at Tzschirna? Or... How about Earth?"
"Doctor... What exactly are you suggesting?" The old man appeared to be quite rattled by the Doctor’s questions. "Have you maybe...hit your head somewhere? Or was that last quinto-binarian equation too much?" Yana tried to feel the other’s temperature, concerned about someone he had come to consider a friend, even if their acquaintance had been only recent.
As if! The Doctor manfully did not pout. He decided to ignore Jack giggling in the background as well as Martha’s snort of disbelief. "No, of course not. It’s just that I—"
"Sorry to interrupt, doh," Chantho interjected. "The calculations are all finished and the loading of material along with your people is complete, doh. The rocket is ready for launch, doh."
"Ah, excuse me, doctor. This takes precedence over everything else." Yana bustled over to the main computer, eagerly contacting the rocket’s crew for the final instructions. Chantho hurried to assist him.
The Doctor drew Jack and Martha back against the Tardis’ door. This was the...Professor’s moment, not theirs. They had done all they could. For now.
A comparatively short while later, the rocket had launched and was well on its way to the coordinates for humanity’s Utopia. A teary Chantho embraced Martha while Jack tried to hug the both of them, effectively distracting them from the conversation happening on the other side of the room. He thought it best if the two females did not overhear too much. If Jack still knew the doctor as well as the captain thought he did, they’d have lots of time for conversations. Later.
"—wanted to ask you if... Maybe..."
"Yes?" Professor Yana replied. Now that his task was complete, the old man seemed more relaxed. As if saving the rest of humanity had been his life’s one goal as well as his greatest burden. "Is there anything I can help you with?"
The Doctor twiddled his thumbs, a show of nerves not in character with his usually rather upbeat exterior. “Well, now that you’re all done here, I thought that maybe you – and Chantho - would perhaps like to go somewhere else for a change."
"But... Where?" Yana asked, perplexed. "Except for this...rock, there literally IS nothing else here anymore. Even if we had another rocket, Utopia is too far away anyway."
"Ah, but that is where you’re—" The Doctor just managed to stop himself in time from putting his foot in his mouth.
Jack knew from his adventures with his Doctor’s previous regeneration that that was a somewhat common occurrence when the Doctor got excited by something or, in this case, someone. So he knew not to let his amusement become too obvious. However, he couldn’t help but smirk ever-so-slightly.
The Doctor, meanwhile, still ignored Jack’s antics. For once, everyone else present was just summarily ignored as well.
‘Nothing new there, right, Doctor?’ Jack thought. Oh well, he’d always liked a challenge anyway. This would make travelling even more...interesting.
"We have something better than a rocket. We have a—" The Doctor threw open the Tardis’ door, gesturing for the Professor to precede him. "A Tardis."
Professor Yana, curious scientist that the old man still was, complied quite readily.
Only to stop smack-dab a few steps into the entrance.
"Well?" the Doctor asked, trying not to let on that he was nervous as rarely before. Even if nobody but him knew, this was his erstwhile best friend he was asking to travel with them. Him. Whatever.
Even if he was intentionally withholding the largest part of the other’s past from him. Better a little bit of something rather than nothing at all, right?
"Oh..." Yana appeared to be a bit lost, overwhelmed but the unexpectedly roomy interior. "This is....."
"Yes...?" If this went on any longer, the Doctor might seriously consider munching on the Jelly babies his Fourth Regeneration had left behind somewhere. Either that or start biting his nails in nervous anticipation. He hadn’t quite decided yet.
"It’s...bigger on the inside," the professor stated, still a bit dazed.
"That aside," the Doctor came up behind the older man, tentatively putting his hands on the other’s shoulders. "There is so much to see, so many sights I want to show you." His grip grew a bit firmer. "How about it? Would you like to travel with me?"
"Me?" Yana repeated incredulously. "You want me to travel? With you? And your companions? Really?"
"Yes, of course," the Doctor replied, somewhat vexed that the other would doubt him this much. "Why wouldn’t I? You’re brilliant. A fantastic scientist. Wonderful conversationalist, too. Not to mention your loyalty to those you care for. Also your—urRKkpppP!"
The Doctor’s rant was interrupted by Yana turning around and hugging the taller male for all he was worth. The scientist was tearing up at hearing the list of all the qualities the doctor connected to him.
"Thank you," Yana mumbled into the Doctor’s cloth-covered chest. "That... Nobody has ever said such things about me." He squeezed once more. "Thank you!"
"You’re... Welcome?" Now it was the Doctor who appeared a little overwhelmed. He gingerly patted the other’s back as if to say ‘there, there...’.
"Does that mean you and Chantho will travel with us?" Jack asked, grinning as broadly as the two women while they all entered the Tardis together.
The Doctor made a ‘Help me!’ face at them, only to be summarily ignored.
Reluctantly, Professor Yana let go of the Time Lord. He slowly turned towards the others, beaming even while tears streamed unchecked down his cheeks. "I will gladly travel with you for as long as you will have me." Then he turned towards the Doctor again. "You saved me. Thank you."
The Doctor managed his best approximation of a return-smile. Nobody would notice, he thought. Only for one Captain Jack Harkness to look at him across the room, eyes serious despite the grin stretching across his handsome face. The Doctor nodded at him, silently acknowledging the other’s unvoiced concern.
Hidden in his pocket, the ‘fob-watch’ seemed to burn against the hand it was clenched in.